Monday, 31 August 2009

RGMB - The History

Not a lot of people know this…….

This is a history up to date from my point of view, if you disagree or remember bits I forget then feel free to comment. I have omitted details to shorten it, as well as leaving out names. There are now few of us who were there at the very beginning, and those who were know who they are.

2005 - A New Start

Casting my mind back to ‘ye olden days’ I recall the club beginning in late 2005. Games Workshop had taken the decision to cut back on staffing costs, and this impacted in a very real way on the Tuesday night veterans gaming at GW Chester when it closed with seemingly only a couple of weeks notice. In fear of the light of Tuesday night war gaming being snuffed out a select three current club members raced round gathering email addresses and contacts on the last Tuesday with the intention of starting a club outside of the GW shop.

Several weeks later and, for better or for worse, the name ‘Royal Guild of Minted Boards’ had been coined. Stanley Palace had been booked for one night and one night only, and three 4ft by 4ft tables with limited scenery had been procured from a combination of B&Q, Ebay and personal collections. The initial aim was that each club member would have to pay a maximum of £3 per night to cover the rental cost, and any extra could be used to buy scenery etc. That first night we had been 8 bodies in the building (five current club members amongst them - I know who they were, anyone else?) and we made a loss. The founding three decided to give it one more shot, and if that failed and nobody came maybe it was best forgotten.

One week later and the barely hoped for miracle happened - at least eleven paying participants in the building, and rumour of more to come, we made enough money to survive and the RGMB continued. The following week it was the same success story; more arrived and times were good. More money was poured into battlefields and scenery to cope with the demand, a debt that was only repaid to the main financial donator in full in early 2009, and the club started to live a little more than week-by-week. Our base remained Stanley Palace due to its handy location and excellent rates, and we occupied the upper floor (gallery and main room), storing our scenery and boards at the property.

2006 - Expansion

Up to this point Warhammer had been the system of choice, a carry-over of a fad from GW Chester, but now 40k took over big time as hordes of players streamed in to the club. The number of battlefields available grew, and the first pasting tables (the white-topped, three-legged ones) were purchased. The first (and, as it happens only so far) RGMB Warhammer 40,000 tournament took place in early-mid 2006. Over twenty players fought in the two group stages that took place over a couple of months, with Ken Reavy cantering to victory with his Ravenwing army (a result that was rarely in doubt despite the boasting and hopes of others). With that over the next thing was a 40k map campaign, which floundered a few weeks later due to 40k overload, and the eventual emergence of the next superpower: Bloodbowl.

If 40k had been a success in terms of numbers, then Bloodbowl was an excellent follow-up act, with more than twenty players, including a number of new faces, joining in for the first RGMB Bloodbowl Tournament in late 2006. It rampaged through to the quarterfinal stage, before falling flatter than road kill when one organiser vanished (never to be seen again….) and the other lost the entire competitions rosters and disappeared into the nemesis of organised campaigns - Warhammer Quest.

Following a sustained period of ‘Questing’, Necromunda became the next big thing, and also saw massive popularity, with virtually every club member taking part at some point (an average of 17-18 members were now attending every evening). It stayed the course, and ended at the turn of the year with the Delaque gangs on top of the tree despite numerous efforts to know them off, and sparking the ingenious spin-off ash-wastes races.

2007 - A Year of Consolidation

2007 saw two major campaigns as the club membership levelled out. Few new players were joining, but most current members remained regular visitors, and we saw an average of 14-17 players every Tuesday with it never dropping below the 11 mark. Several times it was questioned whether we should relocate to a building with more space when numbers rose even higher (over 25 two nights running caused near panic in some quarters), but each time it was temporary and Stanley Palace remained perfect for our size.

The first of the years two campaigns was a controversial 40k campaign that split the 16 or so players into two sides in a battle across a devastated cityscape partly using GW latest expansion - Cities of Death. It was at this point that most of the GW plastic cityfight scenery arrived, and a number of club members helped build it, including the construction of the infamous ‘bus shelter’. As with most campaigns the followers tailed off at the end, and, despite a spirited attempt by the imperial guard players to create a third faction, the self-proclaimed ‘Forces of Good’ (Space Marines) triumphed over the ‘Axis of Evil’ (Chaos and imperial guard, lead by a dark elder lord of all things). Despite a low-key ending it had still attracted nearly 20 players to the flag.

The second campaign was the 2007 edition of the RGMB Bloodbowl Tournament, which attracted fewer players than the previous year, but still had a following of 17 registered teams and made it past the group stages. After some very tight quarter and semi-finals the final was contested by skaven and dark elves (Average Joes Vs Khaines Killers), with the elves coming out on top. The traditional Spike Cup one day tournament was held at GW Chester as part of this campaign.

This could be considered to be the last big campaign to date, with various other games systems taking hold, and the attentions of the club members split, never to fully reunite. Inquisitor and other roleplaying games in particular were successful, while Lord Of The Rings, Warhammer and 40k were all regulars.

On exception to this rule was the huge tank battle in October 2007, which was the precursor to the 40k Ravenna campaign in 2008, and dominated an evening at the club. The initial expectation of approximately 4 players with 20-30 tanks snowballed to ten players with 117 vehicles appearing in the space of 30 minutes, and took up a table space of 6ft by 16ft! In the end the Rebels claimed victory, by 31 to 17 vehicles destroyed.

2008 - The year of campaigns and tournaments

In early 2008 we were twice visited by several members of the ‘Liverpool Gaming Guild’ wargames club (from GW Liverpool), who managed to make us look like right berks on our own patch, beating us 29-17 first time round, and 4-3 the second, not our finest hour but at least it forged some links across the Mersey. Maybe its time for a rematch?

In early-mid 2008 the gaming club website finally gained an identity and a number of useful features courtesy of its patron Chris Rea, who had the fortune/misfortune to move to the Telford area soon after. With the appearance of the website came the club forums in May 2008, and, although the site itself is now stagnant due to a lack of investment of time, the forums continue to thrive. May 2008 also saw the RGMB 40k Doubles Tournament held at our spiritual home of Stanley Palace, eight teams of two came and played, with the following results:
Best Painted - Team Bellis
Most Sporting - Aidan Holman & Neil McCue
Best Generals - Tony & Andy (Liverpool Gaming Guild)
Overall Champions - Jason & Martin

The ‘Ravenna Campaign’, a 40k map campaign, vied to make a name for itself as a big campaign, attracted in fifteen players at its height, and going out was a bang in a 8,000pt apocalypse battle. Overall it must be noted that the Orks of Warboss Gor (and his ‘ead-hunters) were victorious, with the mechanised Salusan 2nd coming second (ironically), and the ‘United Nation of Necrons’ in third. Special mention goes to the ‘Alliance of Convenience’, a cobbled together force of Imperial Guard, Space Wolves and Space marines, who spent every week desperately fighting off total annihilation, before climbing from the bottom of the heap in the final week.

Of the other varying games played in 2008 a Warhammer campaign for a lost isle stands out at this point - the argument over Queen Bess’s Lawnmower lasted a substantial number of weeks, dragging in participants from as far away as Anglesey!

A new club committee was also chosen from those foolish enough to volunteer, and remains the holders of the power today - our gallant leaders are currently:
Chris Fry (Chairman)
Alan Clarke
Neil McCue (Treasurer)
Jason Fox (GW Liaison)
Chris Edwards - or Mr Crish
Richard Andrews - me!

A Revolution

In mid-2008 a revolution of sorts occurred when a number of Warmachine players transferred in, mostly from the direction of the Deeside Defenders. Within a few weeks they had coerced several of the clubs ’old guard’ and amassed a following which numbered in double-figures, claiming the gallery area of ’The Palace’ as their own to play 4ft by 4ft games upon the long table there. This was the first big break from the domination of Games Workshop games, and was followed in early-mid 2009 by the appearance of a small Flames Of War following, encouraged by a campaign based around Leningrad.

The end of the 2008 campaign year was notable for the rehash of Queen Bess’s Lawnmower, this time in 40k style, which ran with some popularity for six weeks before coming to a suitable end in a ‘Good Vs Evil’ battle which included 15 players. Good pulled off a convincing win, crushing Khornate warriors, Orks and a Necron pylon on the way.

2009 A Year of Diversity

As we entered 2009 the membership of the club remained high in numbers (a respectable average of 13-16 every night), but the choice of games system was noticeably more varied. A Flames of War campaign (early to mid 2009) attracted a number of followers, while the initial Warmachine rush settled down to 5-6 players most Tuesdays. Warhammer 40k was the third main draw, while games of War Of The Ring, Bloodbowl and Warhammer were not uncommon. Other campaigns, however, were rare, with possibly only a Warmachine one occurring (I am unsure of this due to my lack of warmachine knowledge and having my head buried in a FOW book at the time!).

The WPS (Warhammer Players Society) tournament in Liverpool in May 2009 attracted quite a lot of interest, and eight club members participated with mixed levels of success in Bloodbowl, war machine, 40k and Warhammer.

In July 2009 an unusual situation developed - part of the ceiling of Stanley Palace’s gallery collapsed, and we were pushed downstairs to the smaller, more cramped dining room. This has coincided with a drop of club numbers, particularly the Warmachine players, and a continued diversity in the number of games systems being played (currently Inquisitor reigns once more, Warmachine, 40k, WoW card games and historical wargames).


And so the story reaches today; 31st August 2009. Rumour tells of a September resurgence of Warmachine, and fact maintains that Inquisitor will run for weeks to come. Historical wargames remain alive in Warhammer Ancients form, and a campaign for Flames of War is just appearing on the radar. And all the time below the surface 40k bides its time to resurface and take the club by storm once more. Of Warhammer, Bloodbowl and Lord of the Rings however there is little or no sign.

Let us hope that this drop in club numbers and lack of campaigns and tournaments is but a temporary blip, and we will return stronger…….

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