This story was written as a tournament report for Max Longstreet’s Mage Knight clan’s private site. Since about 15 people will ever see it there, 10 of whom will think it’s a serious report, I am reprinting it here so that another 4 people can see it.

It was hot and humid on the day of the first MK tourney here in Minneapolis’ Future Perfect Game Shop, the sort of day you wouldn’t expect living way up here, but we get our hot spells too. It was my first organized tournament, and boy was I nervous. These two things combined made me pretty uncomfortable, and I may have even been sweating a little despite my short-sleeved off-duty Starfleet shirt (TOS, not TNG, thank you very much) and loose Bermuda shorts. Even the fact that I went commando didn’t help much, and I had one mother of an itch down in main engineering, let me tell you. But I couldn’t let something as insignificant as discomfort stop me from doing my best, so, mentally reciting the Litany against Fear from Dune, I shouldered my way inside, one hand around my hand painted case for my hand painted figurines, and the other taking care of business as best it could without being too obtrusive.

Now, the event was really well set up. The store had plenty of folding tables and chairs set up, the soda machine had been stocked the night before so there were plenty of Pepsi products suitably chilled for sale, and they made sure there were sufficient quantities of Milk Duds and such, since nobody would want to leave the tournament for lunch! The only problem I could possibly gripe about were the chairs. They were those little folding metal chairs you get in school, of substandard gauge metal, probably assembled in one of those foreign countries like Puerto Rico. I don’t really consider myself fat, but I am sorta big boned, and I just don’t trust one of those little chairs to hold up too well over a full day’s play. Lucky for me, I’m in pretty good shape for a 260 lb. guy if I do say so myself, and so I chose to stand throughout the tournament, which gave me both a better field of view to calculate ranges quickly, and also let me scratch myself without any unsightly squirming.

My first match was against a local player I’d seen around, a nice kid about twelve or so. He was pretty polite, though he did seem to stare at me a lot. I asked him at one point if he would like to know where I got my Starfleet T-shirt, but he just sorta shook his head. Shrugging and scratching a little, I set up my 200 point army, a pretty orginal and effective combination if I do say so myself:

Storm Golem

I really like this combination, mostly because I prefer not using formations. Formations to me are sort of a pain, and really exploitative, I think, because of the multiple movement rules. Also, moving a formation with one hand is pretty slow, an important consideration for one with my medical condition. I’ve practiced some pretty subtle strategies with this army, and have gotten pretty good with it. I have loved my Scarabet ever since I got it from a Warlord in exchange for my collection of MtG and Pokemon cards… pretty expensive trade, but you can’t put a price on perfection.

In the first match, I managed to employ a nifty little trick I worked out that I like to call the Lightning Sack, because I have this image of the enemy’s town being sacked after it gets consumed by lightning and stuff. I’d really like to write a roleplaying story about it sometime and post it on the net. Anyway, it’s fairly difficult to pull off, but to keep it short, let’s just say that Shaman and Scarabet working together really put a hurt on his Amotep Gunners! I did have to push poor Scarabet after the first turn of the Lightning Sack, but that’s okay, since Ravenhair Thunderman (my Storm Golem unique’s name) cleaned up after that. I have to say, I feel kinda lucky managing to pull off a strategy this complex, and my opponent seemed distracted throughout the match. He said "Good game" afterwards, though he left before I could offer a handshake.

Right after the first round, I suddenly realized in horror that I had left home without my precautionary personal-size tube of Jock-X. I would have gone home to get some, but the first round took longer than expected. My fault probably, since it was hard to use a measuring tape with only one free hand. I had to stay, and with just a few minutes before the next match, I ducked off into the men’s room, but I couldn’t find so much as a lotion dispenser. I spent a few minutes with the door locked, drying off down there under the Sani-Dry machine. Who would have thought that a humble device for drying hands without wasting paper towels could have such useful medical applications? Well, I may be no "Bones" McCoy, but I do know what works, and I was definitely feeling a little better when I came back to the main room just in time for round two.

In round two, I wound up paired off against an older player, about college age. We said our hellos and he sat down; I remained standing, of course. I noticed I was sweating a little when I was in the bathroom earlier, and the therapeutic effects of the hand dryer started wearing off about halfway through the match. My opponent gazed intently across the table, not meeting my eyes, taking in the strategic layout as I found myself needing to scratch again. (Lucky for me these Bermudas have an elastic waistband!)

He was a little more cautious than my first opponent, waiting a little out of range of Scarabet, so I used another subtle little trick I like to call Pocket Pool. It’s called Pocket Pool because I convince him to move into range with Ravenhair Thunderman, who normally dislikes being separated from his close friend Scarabet, but he’s a good soldier. Ravenhair flanked up alongside his Amotep Gunners, who moved away, because of the range difference… right into Scarabet and the Shaman! After all that time of careful positioning, it seemed to end very quickly, and my opponent thanked me, looking a little flustered, and hurried off to confer with some of his friends, including my first opponent. No doubt they were comparing notes and trying to come up with some sort of strategy to defeat my army, but I had no time to eavesdrop, and I left the game shop for a few minutes to run to the drugstore across the street, hand-painted case in hand, while they giggled together.

Unfortunately, the drugstore didn’t have any Jock-X when I asked, and I refuse to use any inferior knock-off nether region analgesic, so I had to settle for a little bottle of Nivea. The drugstore clerk looked at me a little oddly as I hurried off to the men’s room, Nivea in my free hand. It seemed to help a little bit, and it did feel pretty good, but I finished applying the silky smooth lotion faster than I might have liked under different circumstances, padded myself a bit with some toilet paper to avoid those unsightly soak-through spots we all hate, and hurried back to the game store.

In the third round, my opponent looked about sixteen or so, and I’d seen him before in the store. He was a well-known player, and I felt honored that I made it as far as he did in this tournament. He stared right at me as he deployed his force of Amotep Gunners and support pieces, trying to break my resolve. Well, that may have worked for him before against opponents with lesser powers of concentration, but let’s just say that I would be the top student of Kohlinar on Vulcan if we had warp drive today, so I just stared back, methodically placing my Shaman, Shade, Scarabet, and Ravenhair Thunderman down quickly and steadily, my business hand free to help thanks to the soothing effects of Nivea.

My logic started to falter when he started to move his troops. He knew exactly what he was doing, and in an instant I saw the whole game play itself out in my mind. It’s not unusual for this to happen to master strategists, I’m told, and everyone knows that chess Grandmasters often calculate twenty or more turns ahead… well, Mage Knight is no different it seems. I could see my defeat in front of me, as plain as day, as unavoidable as the Kobayashi Maru test. I couldn’t rely on my old strategies to help me out… I needed something new, and with luck, concentration, and some help from The Force, I got it!

I managed to roll a 6 for Ravenhair Thunderman’s Command SA at the right time, and put my plan into action. I fired a volley off with the Shaman next to him, then ran the Shaman over to where Scarabet had wandered ahead a little, and then fired Scarabet! Then before I could forget about it, I used the Shade’s Quickness SA to run up and capture a badly damaged Amotep Gunner from the kill zone, and from there the game was mine! I ended my turn, savoring the look of astonishment on my opponent’s face, letting my mind wander, and heedlessly went back to scratching. Nivea may be as cool and soothing as a Phoenix’s tears, but it also gets absorbed into toilet paper after a while. By the way, I’m going to call this play Chock Full o’ Nuts from now on, because I managed to use every unit I had on the same turn.

A few minutes later, my opponent graciously resigned, and I extended a hand to him, realizing too late that it was covered with little flecks of Nivea and torn toilet paper when I took it out of my shorts. I stood awkwardly for a moment, and offered my other hand instead, which he cautiously shook. As I took my figures back, I noticed he had gone over to the TD and was talking a lot and pointing over in my direction. I sure hope it was because he was telling the TD about how impressive my victory was, and not for some other reason, like disputing the Command SA! I was so distracted by watching this that I failed to notice that I had carelessly wiped my hand off on the front of my normally parade-condition Starfleet shirt, and now I realized that my scratching had dislodged my careful deflector of toilet paper, and some spots were showing through on my shorts. It was embarrassing, to be sure, but above all I am a man of principle, and resolved that I would continue to stand proudly through the fourth and final round, rather than trust my safety to one of those shoddy Puerto Rican chairs.

After another quick visit to the bathroom to clean up as best I could, I found my table for round four, and took my position. I waited for my opponent to appear, carefully inspecting my figures and cleaning a bit of Nivea-adhered toilet paper from Ravenhair Thunderman’s right forearm with a pair of small tweezers I carry for figure maintenance in the field. I looked around nervously as the clock ticked, wondering where my opponent was. I eventually found him, apparently in some sort of discussion with the TD, looking darkly at my table every now and then. The bits I managed to overhear seemed to indicate that my would-be foe was disputing his placement in this last round, and the TD explaining that he could not change opponents. Change opponents! Why would he do that, I wondered, as I vigorously scratched myself underneath my stained Bermuda shorts.

Eventually, several minutes after the rest of the matches had started, my opponent left the store! I was wondering what was going on when the TD beckoned me over. "Your fourth round opponent has… elected not to continue the match," he told me. "Therefore you get a bye this round." I was nervous now… a bye counted as a win for me, but because of the low point award, my final standings might be endangered. I thanked him for his advice and wandered the tournament, lost in my own thoughts, occasionally pausing to observe a game, idly scratching as I contemplated my chances of placing well in this event. Other players would sometimes look up from their games, staring, no doubt sharing my trepidation.

Finally, the tournament was over, and points were tallied… and I had come in first place! Apparently all scores in the final round were extremely close due to some careless play, and I had accrued the most points. I gratefully accepted my prize, a level 4 limited edition Woodroot figure! "Woodroot!" I exclaimed, holding up the figure in my excitement, my other hand now practically flailing at my inflamed privates. I thanked everyone in my best British accent, cultivated by years of Doctor Who, and joyfully and reluctantly finally left the store when the TD said they had to close up. I carefully packed my Woodroot in my case and took the bus home to hit the sack. I certainly enjoyed my time at the Future Perfect Game Shop, and you can bet I’ll be back when they decide to have another tournament if I can get more time off from my job as a short order cook. I had a ball!

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