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In 2012, on Cinco de Mayo weekend, I headed south to Huntsville, Alabama for The Kalm Before the Waaagh. The Kalm is hosted by my friend George and is, in my opinion and that of many others, the single greatest tournament in the country. The Kalm is held in a bar, with limo service to and from the hotel, and is host to probably the greatest group of 40k players ever assembled.

I'm not saying they are the most competitive, though there are quite a few GT winners amongst the crowd. They may not be the greatest painters, though many of the attendees have quite a selection painting awards on their shelves. They are the greatest group of 40k players because they play the game the way it was meant to be played. Kicking back, knocking back a few drinks, and not giving a #$@! about the outcome. Everybody that goes to The Kalm goes there to have fun!


The Prelude

Cinco de Mayo, baby!

After a loooooong flight on Thursday, my buddy Mike and I arrived at George's house around 11pm. We hung out with some old friends, shot the breeze and checked out the trophies.

Last year, George had the idea of giving out engraved bottles of liquor as trophies. There were bottles of Skye Vodka for the 40k tournament and Gentleman Jack for the Blood Bowl guys. This year, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, George had engraved bottles of 1800 tequila for the competitors.

The man knows how to throw a party!

The next morning, some of the guys went to play in The Goff Open, a golf tournament where they compete for the title of 'Least Awful Golfer'. Normally I wouldn't let me non-existant golf skills deter me from such an event, but the humidity and heat in Alabama are a little daunting for a guy who lives less than a mile from the ocean in Northern California. Besides, I had a different agenda in mind.

Mike and I headed out ealry to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The place hasn't changed much in the two years since I last visited, which means it's still just as awesome. The placed is stacked with missiles, rockets and other space race goodies, including the Saturn V, which launched our guys to the moon during the Apollo Program.

Saturn V
What a BEAST!

The Saturn V is over 360 ft. tall, and the first stage alone holds over a half a million gallons of fuel and liquid oxygen. To put that in perspective, if you emptied the first stage of the Saturn V, it would fill an olympic-size swimming pool. The rocket burns all that fuel in two and a half minutes. That equates to a burn-rate of 3,300 gallons... per second!!!

You can't tell me that rocket wasn't designed by an Ork!

Welcome to Whiskey Country

After the Space and Rocket Center, Mike and I had a few hours to kill before the Blood Bowl Tournament. Now, you don't attend The Kalm unless you have a healthy appreciation for alcoholic beverages. I mean, the thing is held in a bar, with bottles of booze as prizes. If you don't enjoy a drink, maybe this isn't your kind of event. So, with a few hours to kill, what is a self-respecting alcohol appreciator to do...

... That's right, folks. We hopped in the car and drove up to Lynchburg, Tennesse to the Jack Daniel's Distillery. If you like whiskey, even if Jack isn't your favorite brand, you have to visit this place and take the tour. The smell in the Mellowing and Barrel Houses alone is worth the trip!

They even have a virtual tour on their website if you don't feel like making the trip. I won't spoil the tour for those who plan on going, nor will I go into the whole whiskey-making process, since the tour guides do a much better job than I ever could, but there was one particular thing that I found pretty funny:

You can't buy whiskey on the premises. The distillery is in a 'dry county', meaning it's illegal to sell alcohol there. How ironic is that? The one exception is the commemorative bottle available in their gift shop. The whiskey inside the bottle is free... but the bottle itself is going to run you about $40 or so.

Me and Jack

In future years, if George decides to add the distillery tour to his list of pre-tournament attractions, I'll probably lead the caravan up into Tennessee. Nothing like a yearly pilgrimage :)

The AWESOME Blood Bowl pitch

After the trip back from the distillery, it was time for the Rokkit City Rumble. This Blood Bowl tournament is 3 rounds, complete with pizza and beer for the participants. It takes place in the hotel lobby so you can just crawl upsatirs and pass out once you're done playing.

The gang at The Foundry, George's local game store, built this killer Blood Bowl pitch for use in the tournament. One game from each round, including the top game of the final round, would be played on this pitch which included a referee miniature as well as crowds in the stands. Thanks again, Adrian. You and your crew did an awesome job!

I forgot to bring my camera for the Blood Bowl tournament, so I don't have any pictures of my games. When I play Blood Bowl, the ball is mostly for decorative purposes. I'm in it to have fun, doing wacky stuff like using my Troll to toss the Goblin into the end zone, and generally causing as much carnage as possible.

By the end of the night, I had faced off against Chaos, Orcs and Lizardmen, scoring a grand total of 3 touchdowns and killing or hospitalizing 7 players. I also had 2 players ejected for fouling opposing players while they were down. Hey, if you're playing Orcs, you gotta play in character. All in all it was enough to get me second place.

Da Swag!

On to Day 2 ->