Original Published on Oct 13, 2022 at 20:30
By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A new scale of tabletop total war was brought to Strathmore on Oct. 8 as a grand tournament was hosted at the Strathmore Civic Centre for the first time.
John Hilton-O’Brien, owner of HOB’s Hobbies, organized the tournament which drew in local players, as well as a handful from Calgary and from other towns across southern Alberta.
The game which was the focus of the day was Warhammer 40,000 – a science fiction tabletop wargame based in “the grim darkness of the far future,” for which players construct and paint plastic armies to field against each other.
“(We did this) tournament for about 20 players of Warhammer … and it’s the first in a series. This event is actually a warm-up for a larger tournament we are planning for April,” said Hilton-O’Brien. “We hosted it in the Civic Centre with the Town’s support and we are hoping for it to become an annual or semi-annual event.”
O’Brien explained there is an annual global tournament circuit for Warhammer, which in some locations attracts hundreds of players to compete.
He added it is an ambition of his to see Strathmore eventually become one such location to host one of the largest tournaments of the year, given the town has the facilities to pull off such an event.
“Warhammer tournaments can get quite large and you can see hundreds of players at some of them, but finding a suitable venue is really tricky. Strathmore has a suitable venue, so it’s our hope that we can establish a regular tournament,” said Hilton-O’Brien. “This year, we just used one room off the Civic Centre and as it expands, we will use more space at the Civic Centre and eventually spill over into the agricultural grounds. People will be coming from all over for this.”
The Las Vegas Open, commonly known as “LVO” among the Warhammer community, is among the largest grand tournaments in the world, seeing more than 250 registered players for its 2022 event hosted in January.
O’Brien’s tournament was staged for 20 people for its debut run in order to gauge interest, as well as to set the stage for the follow-up event which will be held in April, though has not yet been officially scheduled.
“Anybody can sign up. In things that are sponsored by HOB’s Hobbies, there is always one central rule – if you can do math independently, you can participate,” said Hilton-O’Brien.
Although the tournament was open to anyone to participate, Hilton-O’Brien added it is rare to see younger players joining in as the demographic more often does not yet have adequately sized collections and armies to bring to bear.
Similarly, younger players may not yet have their armies fully painted and ready to field for tournament play.
“Ultimately, Strathmore has the facilities that this could be on the same playing field as something like the Las Vegas Open for Warhammer. It’s sort of like hosting a nerds’ version of the Stampede,” said Hilton-O’Brien.
The doors for the event opened at 9 a.m. on Oct. 8, with players having contributed $40 to their admission. The admission was then pooled towards funding prizes for the best generals, the best sportsmen, as well as the best painters among them.
Hilton-O’Brien acknowledged the Town of Strathmore for donating the space to be able to debut the event, which has been in the works since 2021.