Just recently I returned to my local wargaming group after an absence of some four months, having to stay away from the Club for such a big chunk of time made me feel a bit contemplative and as I have nothing better to do I am going to share the musings. A bit of background to put into context – the club has been around for nearly 30 Years and I have been a member for its entire existence, there have been many member over the years and sooooo many different games have come and gone. We have always been more of a social club that played wargames and the rather relaxed attitude to Tournaments we have reflects that. The latest phase of my Wargaming life Journey involves the playing of Mantic games, primarily Kings of War but I also dabble in Armada, Deadzone and recently Firefight, the Club also has come to adopt KoW over the past 5 years or so to the extent that it is included in the Clubs big annual event, the Ribble Rumble, and has supplanted Warhammer as the main non-historical game played at the clubs weekly evenings. Anyhow, back to the musings. The lack of Club evenings in my life made me appreciate how much of an influence on my Kings of War gaming they were. Although I was still attending Tournaments on a regular basis it did mean that the Tournaments (and the rare home game) were my only practise games. This in itself didn’t seem to have an overly drastic impact on my gameplay but it did have an impact on my lists in a couple of unexpected ways. The lists became more experimental based on things I had seen at Tournaments and didn’t have time or opportunity to trial before the events , thus resulting in quite a random range of Tournament results over the course of a few events as I played catch up with the effects changing, sometimes just a small element of, my army just before an event, also the rather irritating tendency of Tournament points to bob around like a buoy in a tempest resulting in constantly adjusting the lists to try and keep competitive within a 500 point variation in Tournaments was challenging to say the least. At the club there is a set number of opponents, each with a limited choice of Armies. We have Elves, Undead, Empire of Dust, Trident Realm, Goblin, Abyssal Dwarf, FoN, KoM, Salamanders, Orcs and most recently Basiliean, all played to varying degrees of “commitment”. Some of the Players are regular attendees but only have one army that they use exclusively, some of the Players are more irregular opponents but do have multiple armies that they switch between. We do have several very talented and successful Tournament players within the ranks of the Clubs KoW devotees and it is always a learning curve to play against them on a regular basis and we do have a pool of more casual players who, although they do take part in local KoW events, generally tend to play what lists they like and ignore the “Meta” and rankings alike. This spread of armies and abilities made for some very interesting games on Club evenings as people tried out different army builds to try and optimise their performance for tournaments or just tried out new units that they had bought/printed/painted because they liked the thought of using them in their games. These Club night games usually boil down to two types of battle, A carefully planned attempt to test out an Army/tactic/lucky charm for an upcoming Tournament, the winning of which will propel me to the pinnacle of the UK rankings Or An hilarious game put together at the last minute because we couldn’t be bothered organising. Both of these types of games are incredibly helpful as they feed different needs of the demanding Hobby I follow ;) I need to hone my army against good players to maintain my competitive edge (such as it is) and I need to remember that the whole thing is supposed to be fun in the first place! Luckily for me two of the better players at the club are regular opponents and this has helped me to raise my game over the past couple of years, they both have differing styles of play and army choice which also serves to keep my own army builds slightly conservative in order that I have a viable army able to take on both kinds of play style. One plays a Kingdoms of Men army with Knights, Infantry and warmachines with a couple of Flying monsters, plenty of Lightning Bolt and Heal with indomitable will to keep the knights in the fight and enough shooting to plink away chaff. Lots of threats to deal with and plenty of big units to hold/take objectives, carry loot or just kill the heck out of you. Always a very tough game and still not managed an effective counter with the Free Dwarfs. The other plays Elves with multiple fighty cavalry regiments, Drakons, Shooty cav and two flying monsters. Outrange most stuff with hard hitting units and reposition quickly, coupled with phenomenal dice rolling usually results in lots of Free Dwarf casualties no matter what the scenario. So with the return to club and being able to play more relaxed games without the constraints of Tournament timing and the ability to feedback from opponents about the choices made in the lists we are using/developing I am feeling more confident that once I am back on the Tournament scene full time I will be able to improve my performance with the help of my Clubmates. Also the inspiration from playing all these different opponents and the general hobby discussions we have has inspired me to build a new army for 2024 and to make sure it arrives on the Tournament circuit honed and ready to perform. Time will tell! In the meantime I can recommend if you are in two minds about the benefits of joining a wargames club, dither no more and seek out your local Club! You won’t regret it!