Friday morning 4am the shuttle arrived at my place to take me to the airport. At this stage I had been painting all night long to try and get the team to a decent standard for gaming. I was running on 0 hours sleep but I did at least find time to pack and have a shower before getting out the door. The team was not finished but I was happy enough with them to put them down on the pitch.
So sparrow's fart o'clock I was off to the Christchurch airport to board the 6:30am flight to Melbourne.
I met up with Tim at the airport (one of the other Christchurchers heading over) and we found a coffee and a bit of food once we were through customs. I was feeling a lot better after a coffee but Tim was suffering severe nicotine withdrawals after having to go an hour without a cigarette. His situation would not improve during the 3 hour flight when he found his remote was broken and he couldn't play video games. Anyway the important thing was that I was content and we boarded the plane.
I had hoped to get some sleep on the plane but only really managed an hour (those seats are quite uncomfortable - who would've thought?) so I spent the rest of the time playing video games and reading my book. After about 3 hours we coasted in over Melbourne to start the gaming weekend.
We piled through customs as quickly as we could so that Tim could get outside for a cigarette. I managed to snap a quick photo of him after he'd lit up:
After Tim had finished his ciggy we jumped on the Skybus into town and caught up with Gil, Gil's wife Jen, Jim and Kate and Thomas; Jim's wife and son. With a whole day to kill we decided to have a quick look around Melbourne downtown before getting some lunch in a pizzeria located in one of the arcades that run between the streets. Pizza was awesome and the beer was awesome too, so with full stomachs we headed back towards our hotel to visit an aquarium just across the road. This is where things started to fall apart a bit. I'm not that excited by aquariums so I asked Gil what I might be able to expect before committing my precious time to such an escapade. Gil promised me an underwater bar with penguin waiters and gladiatorial fights between sharks and crocodiles. Knowing that Gil would never lie to me I was most excited about witnessing a fight to the death between a shark and a crocodile from the comfort of a bar while being served beers by the Madagascar penguins. It seems however that Gil may have been ill-informed about these events. The most exciting thing at the Sealife aquarium was in fact Pinjarra; the 5 metre long saltwater croc who moved about 2 inches during the 30 minutes we were looking at him.
All jokes aside though the aquarium was actually quite cool. I got to see Rays, Sharks, Sea Turtles, Groper, a Croc, Penguins and all manner of small fish and reptiles up really close. If you're ever in Melbourne I'd highly recommend paying it a visit. It's called Sealife Aquarium and it's right on the Yarra river very close to town so you can still continue shopping or whatever thereafter.
Anyway after me almost falling asleep at the aquarium we thought it might be a good idea to get some dinner and call it a day. Gil, Jen, Tim and I wandered down to a small Japanese/Korean restaurant and got some kick ass Chicken Katsu then got an early...ish night.
Saturday morning before the event and Tim and I were hanging out for a decent breakfast. We had heard there were a number of cafes near to the venue so we went for a walk and found a deli about a block down the road called The Old Paper Shop. Not quite sure why you'd call a deli that but then again it is Australia. So Tim and I loaded up on stodgy food and made our way to the venue:
The Bells Hotel!
It was a cool venue with a bar very close by (this turned out to be not so good in the end) and we were set up in the garden bar out the back which was great for loud, smoking, drinking wargamers. Basically we could be ourselves without having to worry if we would offend the civilised people. Gil, Tim and I all set up our teams for the Mainland Midgets; Gil - Goblins, Tim - Ogres and me - Halflings, and we got our first games underway. I forget all the results on the first day as I got a little mired in my own misery as I dropped one game after another but Tim got a win and I think Gil may have as well. He definitely got at least one draw.
I think I must have been trying to drown my sorrows as the beers were being downed thick and fast so by the time I had lost all three games I was very keen on the idea of getting the hell out of there to another pub and finding more beer. We caught up with some of the Aussie crew at a pub down the road that served Guinness. I have a feeling this may have been where it all came a bit unstuck as I doubt the 4 pints of Guinness mixed particularly well with all the pale ales and lagers I had already drunk. I got home at about 1ish and was feeling on top of the world. About 7am on Sunday I woke up with that funny feeling that something was amiss.
True to my religious beliefs I was up for morning Mass on Sunday praying to the porcelain gods. Then again at 8:30; we had to be at the venue by 9 so by this stage I knew we were going to be late. Around 9ish Tim and I shambled out the door of the hotel and started making our way to the Bells. We originally had a grand scheme to stop in at the Old Paper Shop to get breakfast again but we simply didn't have time. I can't say I was disappointed at this stage. We got to the venue 20 mins late and got stuck into our games. I had ended up against a Dwarf team and true to form he destroyed me in the first half. Despite me taking a break every two turns to throw up again we had still managed to finish our half earlier than most, so we could have fit the game in without too much trouble but I was ready to pass out so like a true gentleman I forfeited and went to have a lie down. I brightened up around lunchtime and could even manage to hold some food down so the second two games went a lot better. I still didn't win but I did enjoy them more simply because I could actually see straight and I could move my own models rather than having to ask my opponent to because I was shaking so bad.
By the end of the event Gil, Tim and I had achieved our goal of last place with the all midget team from New Zealand. I would like to point out that my peers did try to foil our plans by actually drawing or even winning games but I made damn sure I weighed the team down with my 6 losses and we clung to last position. None of us were especially keen for a big night so we found an Indian restaurant across the road and, after narrowly avoiding being run over by a tram, sat down for a celebratory dinner with Jim and Paul (the other two Christchurch guys). Dinner was awesome, the Mango Lassi especially was just what my throat needed after hurling and retching so much. A very civilised dinner was then followed by an early night so we would be ready to catch our 9:30 flight the next morning.
The journey back to Christchurch was very similar to the journey from, with the only difference being a pile up on the freeway in Melbourne and New Zealand customs waylaying Tim and I for an extra 30 mins while they searched for smuggled koalas or errant bananas. After a couple of beers at the Christchurch Airport Tim's partner, Rach, gave Gil and I a lift home and it was back to life as normal in the Garden City.
It was an awesome weekend away and I highly recommend getting over to Melbourne for not only a Blood Bowling weekend but any kind of wargaming or geeking weekend. Time spent among like minded geeks always makes for good chat and the opportunity to meet new players and test your skills (or lack there of) against challenging opponents can't help but make you a better player. It was well worth the trip and it certainly won't be the last time I head over to Aussie for a Blood Bowl tournament.
Last photos of the post are of the Half-Pints as I have them painted so far. There is a little battle damage from the tournament with the odd chip here and there but they're mostly as they were the Friday morning before Melbourne.
The Bully Boys - These guys were responsible for most of my fouling in Melbourne.
The High Flyers - These guys tended to get pitched downfield by the Treemen most games.
The Kitchen Crew - These guys just looked silly.
The Lineflings - These guys just tended to get beat up.