Finally, the big question. Do we stick with the NWGC or move to another venue. Here's the argument as I see it.
I'm not going to pretend I wasn't annoyed about the double booking. You all know I was. Equally lunch was a total fuckup for various reasons that had very little to do with me! Thing is, the double booking wasn't Element Games fault as it was the previous owner who did that and they simply inherited it. Could they have handled it better? Definitely. Does it necessarily mean I shouldn't got back? Difficult one.
We've suffered through the venue in it's previous state for several years with Blog Wars. It looked MUCH better this time. I never used the toilets upstairs but by all accounts they were much improved. I know Element wants to make further improvements in future too. By not going back would we be cutting our nose off to spite our face? The lunch situation will most likely be different next time as I think they're planning on having a proper kitchen. The caterers were mainly there for Lock & Load so I think it'd be a different story next year. Personally I wish we'd stuck with Subway and I'm sorry I didn't insist on using them again.
I'm not hugely fond of Tim King their events manager. I've dealt with him at other venues with mixed results. Darran may not have been perfect but he at least responded to my queries and did his best to ensure both my players and I were happy during the day. It was obviously difficult for Tim as he was running things upstairs and had been up all night with them. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The other massive plus for Element is that they sponsor the event each time. It depends on how many people I bring along but this time all of the vouchers for the tournament and painting competition were full funded by them. That meant I could put more into the raffle and take the £100 they provide as compensation for my efforts. If that sounds a lot then I can promise you it's probably not even £1 an hour when all is said and done. If it wasn't there I'd probably just not take anything from the pot but it's nice to get at least something from the day. I'm loathe to reduce the raffle prizes but they were perhaps a little OTT this time. I gave away £300 worth of stuff (including the trophy costs with discounts on the boxes) which was the same as I did for BW9 & BWX which were 50-man events.
So, if we're not going back to the NWGC and Element then what are the options. Well, I don't want to travel to far so it'd basically be Sanctuary or my FLGS, the Outpost. Sanctuary is a nice venue but their shop is a little limited (from my memory at least) and it's not much difference in commute compared to the NWGC.
The Outpost has pros and cons. They've been running events for a while but they've never had enough space for me. They'll be hopefully moving into their big new event space soon though so I could start going there. That'd mean a 10 minute commute for me rather than 60+ minutes. Obviously that suits me better and would mean I could make an appearance on Friday night to get set up and play some games with you guys who come down the day before. Problem is, their venue is an unknown at the moment. They tell me it's awesome but of course they do. There'll obviously be some teething problems but it will have been open for nearly a year by then so hopefully things will have been ironed out. Matt is currently planning on hosting Fluffageddon there so we'd get to see what it was like before I needed to commit.
The bigger issue for me though is the way they'd host it. They'd want it to be more of an Outpost branded event with me acting as a TO for them. That'd mean they'd sell tickets through their site (less hassle for me) but they'd take a much bigger cut meaning a smaller prize pot. It's still early days and I've not had chance to talk to Chris (the owner) about it. We have a pretty good rapport so hopefully he'll be open to a bit of cajoling but I'll have to have a good chat to him about it and explain my position.
Ultimately, the question is, NWGC or not. If you'd asked me on the day I'd have been saying not but I've calmed down and become more rational since then! I really want to know what you guys think. I know a big part of your opinion will be based on how easy it is for you to get there versus an alternate venue but please try to put that aside for now.
I've moved venue before when Maelstrom collapsed. At the time I was gutted and thought it would be the death of Blog Wars. It turned out to be the opposite.