05 July, 2014

Tournament Survival Guide

So it's another tournament, time to get your models ready and pack a bag for a road trip with the lads to roll some dice and share some war stories. Whether it's an overnight trip or simply a drive to your LFGS for a day of games, I'm here to share some tips to make your tournament experience more enjoyable. We're going to look at planning, travel, food and the convention.

Below is a simple list to ensure you get the maximum amount of rest, food and of course wins on the virtual battlefield. All the while having a ton of fun doing it. I draw on my experiences of military exercises and having attended trade shows, gaming conventions and local tournaments. I hope you take just a few points away from this and I contribute to helping all of you have a better time at your next convention.

It's all in the planning.....
  • Pack your list (models, dice etc.) a few days in advance. Make your list, check it twice and then bag it up. Use the 'Pick List' option on Easyarmy to make sure you haven't forgotten anything. Extra copies of list, tape measure, dice and rulebooks. PDF versions save on weight in your army bag.That being said, a small backpack for everything else is key.
  • Create an emergency kit with the following items; glue, a few key paint colors you used in prepping your army, hobby knife and some paintbrushes. Place them all in a plastic container or in a tackle box tray. You can get all sorts of storage options at your local discount store for no more than $2.
  • Buy a cheap serving tray, paint/flock it or simply buy a non-slip pad used in kitchen cupboards. Cut it to size and your models won't slide around and it'll hide the hideous graphics. It shouldn't take two people to move your army around and take up a 4'x6' table. (Note: Massive display boards are only ok if you're third generation Airborne. Thank you for your service!)
  • Don't over pack, this is a classic mistake made by travelers. You need extra underwear and socks....do you really need six t-shirts for two days? A light coat or sweater just in case of weather or A/C inside the convention is enough. Travel in your hikers or sandals, don't wear them to the venue. Comfortable shoes are better for walking around and standing on concrete for eight hours. (No! Socks with sandals are never ok. EVER.)

Artillery.......the new 'Sitzkrieg' for 2014.
  • Stay in a half decent hotel, don't share more than three to a room. Your body will thank you for it. It's worth the extra $10/night per person. Take turns spending one night on the pull out couch or cot.
  • Try and get a room with a fridge or make use of the ice machine and keep water, juice and other 'beverages' in a cooler. It's easier to take your own water to the convention than spending $5/bottle while you're gaming.
  • Staying no more than 30 minutes away will ensure you are well rested and won't require you to get up too early and rushed to make it to your first game. Giving yourself just 15 more minutes will allow for that coffee or construction you can't avoid.
  • Grab something at the breakfast bar if you don't have time or want to stop for a full breakfast. Banana, bowl of cereal or even just a chocolate milk will be enough. You need that initial energy first thing to set your body up for success for the rest of the day!

Das convention food tastes like scheisse!
  • Snacks in your backpack will allow you to eat throughout the day. It's cheaper to buy in bulk for a few days supply and will keep extra money in your wallet for that model, terrain or t-shirt you had your eyes on buying. 
  • Snacks low in salt and sugar are best. Chips and chocolate bar diets are a bad combination and will lead to you feeling run down, and making mental mistakes when you're playing games.
  • Get out of the convention center if you can for meals, the food at most venues is horrible and expensive. Plan your meals so you can find a place to eat and get back to gaming in a reasonable amount of time. You could even pack a lunch, there are lots of sandwich options like Subway or similar choices you can store in a small lunch bag in your backpack.
  • If you came down in a group of four or more people, break up into smaller groups. It will make planning easier when it comes to food choices, what games you want to play or just walking about the convention center. You'll feel less irritated and rushed while your mates look through a box of unmarked blisters if you're in smaller 2-3 person groups. I did find that one pack of armored recce jeeps though......
  • Your backpack should have; sweater/light coat, emergency kit, hand sanitizer, snacks/lunch, water. Carry a small notepad, pen and either your phone charger or extra batteries along with your camera.
I hope you find some of this information useful.  There's something to be said for not being too rundown once the dice start hitting the table. You'll make better decisions, you'll be healthier, better rested and able to fix any problem with your emergency kit. Especially those bloody .50 cal guns or that loose gun team you forgot about. You might even be able to glue a rear tail back on your Hurricane because someone broke it and didn't tell you about it....they were nice enough to leave the piece on my army tray however.......
Take a shower.
Use deodarant.
Brush your teeth.


  1. Words of wisdom there, nice post. All that off-table stuff is easy to overlook, but it will impact performance and enjoyment.

    1. As always, your comments are appreciated and glad you stop in on a regular basis!

    2. Do you mind if I post a link to this post on my own blog? I've got a tournament next weekend and I was going to do a "tournament prep" post, but focusing more on the gaming side of things. I think the points you've raised here would compliment it well, and I doubt I could improve on what you've done! Cheers, Paul :-)

  2. So true, be prepared, and you'll have so much less stress, nothing worse than hunting for missing observer with your mates ready to leave. Also, might note that beer is not necessarily the best beverage to drink when thirsty.

    1. Beer or any other 'beverage' should be reserved for after action reports with your friends and not a source of hydration. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Awesome post! Packing snacks and water is something I would have forgot. Time for a trip to bulk barn/walmart for those things. It ends of saving so much if you can skip a few convention priced snacks or meals during the trip.


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