If you are a competitive player I’m sure by now you will have heard the news earlier this week of the announced Regional Opens (widely referred to as WKO for short) to be held in November.
As with last year: the minute I saw the e-mail I eagerly clicked the link for more information. I didn’t spend anytime reading the content – I went straight to one part of the webpage in particular: the location map.
Regular readers will know: one of the challenges we have often faced in the UK is receiving a level of support & recognition From Wizkids (and, by proxy, Esdevium, their UK distributor) to help grow the scene. I wrote a bit about it earlier in the year HERE. Things had been looking up: we had held a successful UK National of the U.K. Games Expo and had been widely included in the Rainbow Draft Weekend 2 event. So, upon visiting the Fall WKO 2016 location map I was surprised and disappointed to see no UK locations listed.
All was not lost though – I tweeted Wizkids and was told the UK locations were on the way, and a quick check later in the day when I had 5 mins confirmed this: four locations had been added to the map. Woo Hoo!
To get our WKO Regional events announced and scheduled at the same time as the rest of the world is a HUUUUGE step forward for the UK scene. It’s great to see the level of support steadily improve over 2016 and I’m loving that we are now fully in line with the international schedule. There is the same prize support and it’s taking place in the same month, but more importantly it makes me feel better connected to the wider worldwide community as a whole. There have definitely been times when I have felt a bit like an outsider looking in as chat rooms & forums discuss their event schedule and prize support. (I’ve always lamented the absence of ‘Iron Fist’ in any prize support offered here in the UK) i
It’s not all a bed of roses though. There are a couple of niggles that affect my sense of excitement.
Firstly, with the exception of one store, a quick look on the WIN clearly shows that the other three locations selected register significantly more Heroclix events than Dice Masters (Although – it would be fair to point out that Dice Masters does still take place at these locations, just less so than ‘Clix). I’m concerned about the potential impact this may have on attendance numbers for the Dice Masters events – while many may have the motivation & passion to attend an event and compete not all of them will have the means, family circumstances, or work balance to attend a limited set of weekend events so widely spread across the UK. I am fortunate that there are two events set to take place less than two hours drive away from where I live, which I can reasonably do (for the moment – I’ll need to sweet talk the Mrs a bit for weekend day passes while she entertains the kids solo!) but many are much more restricted. The South event isn’t even taking place on the mainland – it is taking place on the Isle of Wight – if travelling by car it will require a 45 min/1 hour ferry journey to the island to attend. (That might be inaccurate – it’s been a very long time since I’ve been – and boats are probably much faster now than when I was a kid) it won’t matter anyway – there are rumours knocking about that they’re not running Dice Masters anyway, due to the size of their DM community.
I’d have much preferred to see a regional model much more akin to Fantasy Flight Games where certain stores are awarded Regionals for different systems to acknowledge the strength of the particular community in that area to maximise quality of support & attendance. The info states that there will be one Nationals place awarded for every eight participants – presently, with the locations as they are and the numbers as the cynical side of me anticipates, I’d be doubtful there would be more than one National space awarded at each store, giving us a UKNational of just four players. I hope I’m waaaaay wrong, of course, and there will be a mass mobilisation on event days to give us 24+ strong Regionals.
I’m also a little skeptical about how robust the store selection process has been. As I understand it; the WKO regional events were awarded based on a scoring system from WIN data, and included total number of events, average attendance, and total event attendance.
The reason for my skepticism around this process? Well, a quick look on the WIN for ‘Past Events’ at one of the selected stores shows that no events have been registered at that particular location since the first weekend of June AND of the last twenty events they registered on WIN only nine had recorded results (Five of which were all recorded on the same day.) It certainly gives me doubts about the quality of Wizkid’s data and therefore the selection process that was shared with me either rings a little untrue OR the process wasn’t scrutinised effectively at all.
However – cynical moaning aside, it’s tremendous news we’re in the mix right from the outset for official competition and I’m super-excited to be much more aligned to Dice Masters activity across the Globe. I’m really looking forward to going through the next few month’s testing and refining teams to pin down what I’m going to take along, and the joy experimenting with new combos from the upcoming sets to see if there’s something juicy to shake up the meta excite me. (The year of the Flying Foot Ninja anyone?)
Also, on a personal level, I’m finding the core community over here is going from strength to strength and I’ve made some incredible cyber-friends I’m looking forward to hanging out with again and playing some Dice Masters with. Since Nationals in June I’ve stayed in touch with a few guys I met there and the Facebook group dialogue is pretty healthy and it’ll be great to see them face-to-face again.
So… now it’s time to start the process of making decisions about a team & playing the hell out of it until I’m happy with it.