Recently, I was asked to chronicle our playgroup’s attempts to ascend the ladder of greatness and rest in the halls of Valhalla aside the great Metas of the Midwest. I decided to embrace the opportunity as it presented the chance to really think about what a Meta needs to be considered a “top-tier” playgroup. As such, this blog/article/series/whatever will be an attempt to record the litany of progress that we here in Springfield, IL are so desperately trying to make.
But, before I really dig into what we are currently doing, it is important to know where we are coming from. So I present to you the humble history of our meta and what brought us to where we are today:
The Springfield meta (if you could really call it that) originally consisted of 4 or 5 old friends who were just looking for a fun game to play together in a casual environment. Tournaments were virtually non-existent and light, casual affairs wherein players would simply play their favorite models against each other and have a nice, relaxed time. Springfield was a place steeped in the hobby aspect but lacked a reckoning for the competitive side, a place where the ideas of game theory, time management, and caster match-up evaluations were far from consideration. In the Fall of 2008, everything changed.
Springfield was hit with a surge of fresh, young faces, eager to learn and even more eager for blood. We were a group that wanted to analyze and theorize. We were a group looking for competition and looking to Warmachine/Hordes to provide it. We saturated the meta with a lust for challenge and those who were not up to the trials and tribulations of competition slowly faded away from the game.
We wanted to travel. We practiced with the best lists we could come up with, looking to Diecon 2009 as our battlefield on which to test our mettle. June approached and we girded ourselves for glorious victory. We lost. A lot. We saw ‘Casters we had only read, we faced combo’s we had never considered, and we found that we were simply not prepared. We walked away from Diecon humbled and with a newfound respect for what can be accomplished within this game. We went home to lick our wounds and spread the tale of the power of the St. Louis-ian meta.
Fast forward to 2010. The advent of the Mark II rule set, unsurprisingly, brought us another surge of new players. This time, the existing meta was ready for a new era of competition and we welcomed this new group of competitively-minded players with open arms. Our meta shifted yet again, but instead of the change being a culling, it was a fortification of our existing hunger for fierce opposition. We set our sites on Diecon again; convinced that with our newly bolstered ranks we would have a magnificent showing. Remember Diecon 2009? Yeah, that again. We dried our tears and moped home once more.
It was at Diecon 2010 that we were exposed to the Madison, the Iowan, and the Detroit Metas and we were once again blown away. Here were three other groups of players aside from the STL crew that were intensely good at the game. We left Diecon that year not feeling great about our group. We had been around for some time yet couldn’t seem to really break into the tournament scene in any significant way, we needed a change and it was still lingering just over the horizon.
Here we are 2 years later, still chasing the sky. But something has changed; the aforementioned groups of players have opened their arms to us as a playgroup. We no longer have to rely exclusively on our own wit and talent to refine our game, we have been given passes to the vast library of theorizing and experience of the metas around us, and we are looking to use this new tool sharpen our play-level to that of the titans in our midst. What this blog is to be, is a chronicle of the rise of Springfield as a notable, competitive meta. Ideally, it will be a monthly update on what we, as a general playgroup are doing to keep our game sharp and our wits sharper as we prepare to explode onto the scene and force the world to double-take when we sit across the table.
On the next installment:
I will be outlining what specifically is needed to create a competitive meta and what steps we are taking to accomplish it.