So, you’re going to the Bay Area Open. Now what?

You may find yourself, like me SaltyJohn, headed to the Bay Area Open 2016, below you’ll find a non-gaming related guide to prepping for any GT. This may be your first rodeo, it might be your fifteenth. Inevitability preparing for a GT involves playing games, tooling lists, and painting models. It also involves a lot more, especially if travel is involved.


There are some very common mistakes made when prepping for a GT you travel to. Even experienced players fall prey to these; I myself have done so on more than one occasion. As a veteran of Bay Area Open numbers 1,2 and 4. Las Vegas Open 1, Hammer of Wrath 1, and WargamesCon 2012; I can say with some authority that if you’re travelling for wargaming, mistakes will be made. Whether you’re looking to score major ITC points and make a run at the title, or just there for a narrative event, making one of these common mistakes can really put a damper on your fun. This is the internet, and this is a blog, so let’s make a list of some of these common mistakes, then we’ll look at strategies to mitigate you making them so you can have a grand ole time!

make these mistakes and you may take my moniker

make these mistakes and you may take my moniker

1. Forgetting your army. Ok, I don’t know anyone personally who has actually forgotten their whole army. Random posters on Dakka with no verifiable identity don’t count. I have several friends though who have forgotten key elements of their army. An important HQ model, Coteaz, or that sixth Thunderwolf for their deathstar. Their Wraithknight or Baneblade. I know those are giant models but really, it’s happened. Leaving behind a key piece of your army, or even just your tray to move the army around can turn a player into grumpy cat fast.


2. Forgetting key gaming materials. This one I’ve done. I played Grey Knights in the second Bay Area Open, during psyfleman heydays. I wanted to make a legit run at winning, the problem? I opened my nice GoatBoy decorated Battlefoam bag, and no codex. Luckily I had the spare funds to spring for a new one at Reece’s table. I’ve forgotten measuring tapes, movement templates, and blast templates before; and many times you don’t realize it until game 1 starts. That’s just it though; forgetting key supplies for gaming such as: dice, tape measure, templates, cards, objective markers, army lists etc. Can put a big crimp in your first day style and make for a more stressful pre-gaming, and gaming, experience than you’d like.

Some armies are more difficult to transport than others. Plan accordingly!

Some armies are more difficult to transport than others. Plan accordingly!

3. Hotel arrangements. Now I know none of you would ever just drive to an event with nothing at all lined up for arrangements. That said however, you should do a good bit of research into where you are staying. It’s happened where a reservation was made at a Holiday Inn with a similar name only to find out it is 15 miles across town from the other Holiday Inn that’s a 2 minute drive from the GT.


4. Driving/Flight arrangements. This is another item that may seem like it is on the no brainer list. You wouldn’t believe the number of times assumptions were made about space in the car for minis, people, themed display boards etc. Flying to events is a bit like the accommodations, wrong dates or times can kill your gaming buzz fast.

5. Pre-planning. A certain amount of pre planning is needed for attending GTs. For your local RTT rolling out of bed, making coffee in your favorite to go cup, grabbing a muffin your wife freshly baked the night before and running in and out of the house three times to get all the crap you forgot the first two trips is fine. For GTs, especially when traveling with others, a certain amount of pre-planning is necessary. If you’re figuring out breakfast, coffee, army organization etc an hour before you have to be at the venue you’re going to run out of time, show up late, and argue with your friends about whose fault it is.


Your organizational friend.

In my experience these are the 5 biggest pitfalls faced by both amateur and veteran GT attendees. So how do you avoid falling prey to these and insure you have the best time possible? It is as simple as it sounds.

Problems 1-5 can all be solved with a little organization. Problems 3-5 are handled much more easily by adding in a little communication. I am aware this all sounds like common sense, but these things pop up enough that I can only conclude people are not mindful enough of the easy stuff and therefore forget it. Think about it, how many times have you done something only to turn around and immediately think “that was dumb, I know better.”? We all do that a lot. The ramifications for those types of hiccups though are magnified exponentially when travel and other people are involved so let’s look at two simple ways to mitigate these errors.

  1. Lists. When it comes to any of the 5 common issues making a check list will go a long way to solving your problems. I don’t mean a mental checklist. I mean a real one. On a Google doc, or Google sheet, that is easily shareable to the other members of your traveling group is a great idea. This way whoever makes the hotel arrangements can put in all pertinent info and a hyper link when done. Car arrangements can be similarly worked out easily via a Google sheet or doc.  For things like your army, and gaming materials I find a physical checklist is best. When it’s time to pack up the minis break out your army list. Take a pen and literally check off each unit as you put it into you army case, or as you check that it’s already in there. Don’t ever assume it’s all there because last week you played a practice game and it was there. For your gaming materials, sit down after a practice game and write down what materials you used during the game, leave off what you didn’t use and add in what you wish you’d had. Tape measure, dice, etc are obvious. Maybe the psychic cards are too unwieldy and you want to make a spread sheet to check off you powers each game. Great! Put that on the list. After packing your minis get out this check list and start marking off the items as you place them in your gaming bag. Then put it all by the front door!
  2. Group communication. The other three items are also solved easily through organization and communication. At some point you should bring together everyone staying in your room and everyone you’re traveling with. I prefer two methods. Facebook Group Messages or Gmail threads. If you’re going to rely heavily on Google apps or docs to organize then I suggest using a gmail email thread. If you just need open communication then I prefer FB messenger. Some things to make sure you cover in your chat: hotel arrangements, transportation arrangements, morning routines, breakfasts, diners, nights out drinking, and whose doing what events at the Con, GT, etc. insuring the timing of all the above. Once these things have been discussed make sure to confirm as much as possible one week before. Trust me, things will change last minute but if a plan is in place it won’t be as big of a deal to accommodate the change.


At the end of the day your experience at a GT or Con can be heavily influenced by how well you prepare, organize, and communicate before the event. A lot of this probably sounded like common sense, as I mentioned before, but if you’re being honest with yourself how many of you actively do this? I know I have ever since forgetting my GK codex for the second Bay Area Open!

As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.



About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.
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5 years ago

I like your moniker.

5 years ago

It’s one of the best nicknames we’ve given out. He loves it!

5 years ago

As a TO of the ND Open for 8 years, ONE player forgot is army once for a two days event. He did a 4 hours drive and remembered that he left his army on the painting table. He became kind of a running gag in the week-end :D.

5 years ago
Reply to  SaltyJohn

It was a WFB tournament, his name is John Chastenay. He was a big WFB player before GW chop it down. Maybe some of your folks from Vermont know him? 😉

5 years ago

Haven’t yet seen anyone forget their Army. I’ve come close to it, but but always remembered before I made it out of the apartment complex, at least.

I have, however, been to an event where someone had his Army stolen out of his car the night before. That sucked.

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