This weekend, after months of preparation, the ITC came to mainland China.
To understand our path here, I must backtrack a year. One year ago I attended my first ever ITC event, at Mythicos Studios in New Jersey. I have been playing 40k since 2nd edition, but drifted in and out, never really getting the tournament bug. 8th edition rekindled that love, and I found out there was this amazing store nearby that ran cool tournaments. It was great! However, I already knew I was leaving the USA, my visa was expiring and our family’s next stop would be Tianjin, China. That excitement about getting back in to 40k came with me, I’d gotten the bug. I couldn’t stop thinking about hosting a tournament here. I was listening to Signals From the Frontline and Chapter Tactics regularly, and I was writing army lists on Battlescribe wherever I went.
When I arrived in China it did not take long to find 40k players in Beijing, just an hour away on the high speed bullet train. The players are very nice folks, but mostly other expats like myself. When I looked closer to my home in Tianjin, I also discovered that there was a thriving community of Chinese players, but I soon found out that the two groups – expats and locals, didn’t play together. There were small one-day tournaments, but again these tended to be split between expats and locals, and had few rules on wysiwyg and painting. In general, this was a scene that had potential, but lacked momentum.
When I met players, I talked about tournaments, and there was the seed of an idea when a few players expressed an interest, but it was when we took that idea national, dropping it into some of the larger national wechat groups (China’s dominant social network) that I found players across the country desperate for games, and willing to travel for something big. Soon, we had a group of people from Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing, all willing to travel to the north of China for a two day event. We also started to hear from Chinese players, and I began to realize that we might break into that group if we overcame the language barrier. So, with the help of some local Chinese players, we began to spread the word in Chinese, promising bilingual rules packs, and on-site translation. Suddenly it looked like we had a ballgame!
Then I realized it was February, and I’d just agreed to run an event in May, and I had enough terrain for one table. So, working with the four or five students who regularly came to my high school game club, we started to crank out terrain. We made enough terrain for 14 tables, working on the principle that bigger and more was better. We went through two tins of grey house paint just priming everything. GW’s Alliance were good enough to provide us with a TON of ryza ruins, deathworld forests, and pipes (oh my god, the pipes, they haunt my nightmares) but none of those block LOS, so I carved up enough insulation to coat a loft and we slapped a lot of grey paint on a lot of things. Tablewar and Gamemat were both able to help our mat problem, and my amazing school let me use their cafeteria. I also got a ton of support through the amazing TO organizing community. I cannot thank people enough for their help; this was my first time running any 40k events, and it was very intimidating, without everyone pitching in it would not have happened.
Making our own terrain and using the school facilities was important, because price became a big concern. The income difference between local players and expats here in China is jawdropping. So we knew we would have to keep the price as low as possible if we wanted local players. We didn’t want to run a luxury event that was only attended by expats, we wanted something that would bring the community together and unite it. In the end we brought the event in at 260rmb, (about $35) including lunch on both days. We also had some players sponsor some tickets for local Chinese players who couldn’t afford both the ticket price and and travel.
In the end we had 29 players register, of which 24 attended. Of these, ten were local Chinese players. The longest distance travelled was from Singapore (2,750 miles), and our players represented six nationalities. Players converged on TEDA, my little suburb of Tianjin (It is China though, so my little suburb has 1 million people in it) and played five rounds of 2k points 40k over two days. Amazing games were played, dice were thrown, food was eaten, drinks were drunk, and friendships were made. We were invited to attend smaller events around the country, and to come repeat the large scale format in Shanghai in October. The North China Open happened, and it changed the face of Warhammer in China, the East China Open is scheduled for the Shanghai area in the fall, with a South China Open in the works down the road. This hobby brings folks together in awesome ways, and I am so proud of my players. Who knows, maybe I’ll see some of the readers of this article in Shanghai…
(By the way, I know what you all really want to read about. The winning list was a Chaos soup: Alpha Legion with a 1k Sons supreme command.)
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