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The Water Bowl Weekender

by Coach Shriyke

For those who are unaware, The Waterbowl Weekender is a tournament that has been running for 16 years in the Stockport area of Manchester under the experienced eye of Alex Wormall (Leipziger). 

Since being lucky enough to be invited as a replacement coach to UKTC at York in 2022 for my second ever tabletop tournament I have severely caught the travel bug and now look forward to planning and travelling to tournaments south of the border and beyond. Now it was the turn of the Waterbowl Weekender to be ticked off the bucket list. I took a Skaven roster I had been trying out on FUMBBL to give it a real-world testing, dropping to three Gutter Runners in order to take 13 players, as at the Welsh Championship last month having an extra linerat on the bench (being a 1200TV tournament) had felt really nice. I also took Block instead of Juggernaut on the Rat Ogre because the ruleset gave me a double. 

Friday: The Preamble

The journey began for myself at 7.30am on Friday morning when Scott arrived to pick me up. A quick dash round the house to get dressed and grab my things having slept through my 7am alarm saw us setting off from Aberdeen only ten minutes behind time. We then stopped off at Dundee to collect Marc and our, at this point traditional, stop at Clarke’s Bakery for breakfast before the drive to Edinburgh to collect Ryan. From Edinburgh we then did a straight drive all the way to Stockport as none of us cared to stop, the good conversation and banter being enough to sustain us and making the trip feel like no time at all. 

We arrived in Stockport around 3-4ish. Scott, Marc and Ryan decided to go and explore the area while I elected to have a nap for a couple of hours, having been working the previous night. At 6pm they returned from their excursion, and we left to go for dinner at an Indian restaurant five minutes’ walk away from our Airbnb called the Last Monsoon. The food was thoroughly excellent, and I can highly recommend it to anyone travelling to Stockport whether for a tournament or not. 

After a slight bit of misinterpretation saw us visit The Jolly Sailor for a round, we eventually made it to The Blossoms pub across the road from the Premier Inn where Jock (BB_Jock), Heather (Xiao) and Lewis (LewishM) were all staying, who shortly joined us in The Blossoms along with Chris (i_done_goofd), a solid Scottish contingent that would only get bigger. After a couple hours of socialising and meeting new coaches including Matthias who had travelled from Argentina to play at Water Bowl we decided to call it a night at 11pm and headed back to the AirBnB.

Saturday: Day 1

Day one saw us arrive at the venue for Waterbowl, Element Games, whose online store I have frequented many a time. A relatively unassuming building and a short trip up a stairwell soon revealed an absolute paradise for any gamer; a shop with a huge selection of modelling supplies and countless games systems and board games for purchase. With herculean effort I made it through this garden of temptation and emerged into the gaming room, a sea of tables and a very handy bar nearby. It was here we met the rest of the Scots that had journeyed from various places to attend Water Bowl: Ant (Purdindas), Sean (Seduceroftrolls), Chris (chilli), Mike (sann0638), Valerio (Vmcat), and Daniel (TheGngrNoob) (forgive me if I’ve missed anyone!)

A baker's dozen of Scottish Coaches, just missing Seducer of Trolls!

Round 1 - Spob playing Humans

After some milling around chatting the round 1 draw went up and my first opponent of the day was a gentleman called Steve (Spob) playing a Human Roster with Zug. 

Spob playing Humans with the Mighty Zug

Game 1 saw me gifted with a pair of dice at the start from Steve, which I promised not to roll in the game. The early turns saw a lot of pushing and shoving before the Skaven made a whole and rushed through, however the relentless pressure of the Humans forced a turn 6 score, and despite a failed pickup and the Skaven sacking the ball the Humans managed to equalise on their turn 8. 

The second half saw the Humans start by failing to pick up, inviting Skaven pressure before we finally saw the first Casualty of the game on the Skaven turn 12, the Rat Ogre killing a Lineman. Unfortunately, it was his own team-mate (Animal Savagery) and this was the first domino in the Skaven team melting, allowing the humans to run in for 2-1 before rolling Solid Defence to put paid to the Skaven one-turn attempt.

Lunch was a trip to a local chippy, Davenport Fish and Chips, five minutes’ walk from the venue. £6.50 saw a good poke of chips with an absolutely superb fish with some of the best batter I’ve ever had, however a 45-minute window there wasn’t too much time for much else beyond a bit of quick banter and the food before round two was upon us, discussing how our round one games all went and the occasional cursing of dice. 

Round 2 - Scottish match up against Seduceroftrolls playing Pro Elves

Game 2 saw me matched up against fellow Scot Sean (Seduceroftrolls) and his one reroll Eldril Sidewinder Wood Elf build. The first half was a massive scrum in the middle of the pitch, with rat and elf alike picking and sacking the ball repeatedly until a desperate pass from the Elves saw them run in for 1-0 on their turn 7. A riot allowed the Skaven to equalise in time for half time. The second half saw the wood elves crumple under the warpstone-powered might of the Skaven, surfing both Wardancers and KOing Eldril to run in for a 2-1 win. 

Massive scrum in the middle of the pitch in the first half

With some time until the next draw I cracked under the pressure and slunk off to grab a box of Hellblasters to go with my nice Azrael I’d bought in Wales, much to the mockery of Ryan and Scott.

Round 3 - Mon Capitaine!

The draw for Game 3 resulted in a match against the Team Scotland Captain, Ant Purdie (Purdindas) and his Glart Smashrip Underworld Roster. Much like the previous two games, not much of incident happened in the first half with both teams shoving each other around before the Skaven zipped down the left to score, then prevented the Underworld two turn attempt to keep it 1-0 at the break (I clearly exhausted my injury dice at Cardiff). The second half however was some of the wildest Blood Bowl. 

Round 3 against Team Scotland Captain, Purdindas, coaching Underworld (Ed Note: filth!)

It started with one of my Gutters dodging through Snotlings to 1d POW the Underworld’s Block Gutter, KO'ing it while my second Gutter then rolled what seemed like 20 2+s to pick up and scurry away with the ball. It was sacked but then the third Gutter got the ball and escaped. Ant marked it with a Snotling while his Wrestle Linerat came in and rolled double Both Downs to put the Gutter and the Ball on the deck, With Ant staring down the barrel of 2-0 the Gutter, having failed to take down the Snotling, then rolled snake-eyes on the dodge to pick up, suddenly opening up the game for Ant. However, I did my best to keep myself in this as my Skaven left the pitch in droves, culminating in a Hero Linerat making two 4+ dodges and a 3+ dodge to 1d POW his Blitzer to sack him. It wasn’t enough though as Ant, having cleared off the 2 players I had managed to make a pass to run in for 1-1. 

So, after packing up and apologising to Ant for nearly giving him heart failure we made our way to the bar, and I bought him a beer. Element Games was staying open until 11pm and Alex had arranged for pizzas to be delivered for those who pre-ordered from the local pizzeria The Dough Guys. 

Marc, Scott, Ryan and I along with Ant then took part in our traditional travel ritual of Perudo (Liar’s Dice – remember that five 1s doesn’t exist) being joined by Heather, Chris, Jock and Lewis. With the arrival of food Jock departed to join Team Nandos and we all engaged in an eight-player game of Red Dragon Inn, an appropriate game with the EG bar being well-appointed with good beer. I thought I had managed to fly under the radar but eventually I was out before Heather decided to end the game by taking both herself and Scott out at the same time. We then finished off with a quick couple games of Skulls before we called it a night, said our goodbyes and headed off home whilst others headed out to the pub.

Sunday: Day 2

Round 4: Brigadier Cogsworth and no star players in sight!

We had an earlier start on Sunday morning, arriving at 9am at Element games via Greggs with round 3 being drawn at 9.30am. This saw me match up against a fellow non-Star user in Chris Easton (Brigadier Cogsworth). The start of the game sees us rolling Sweltering Heat and the Humans batter down the Skaven to drive in for 1-0 and another Riot sees a one turn become a two turn, but a double skulls outs paid to that. The second half sees a combination of failed KO rolls, more removals and the Heat proving too much for the wilting Skaven and the Humans run in a second TD before a Blitz on the kick off allows them to run in a third for 3-0. 

Round 4 against Chris and his humans with no star players on the pitch!

With the break for lunch seeing a whole host of sandwich boards arrive and the herding of the Scottish contingent for a group photo (Note: an opportunistic Welshman owes the Scottish Community €100 for the pleasure), a feat easier said than done as we are all far too busy turning on the Scottish charm to our fellow coaches, we sit and have a few minutes to just chill, punctuated by me sneaking off to the shop again because an Apothecary would go really nice with those Hellblasters, prompting more mockery from Scott and Ryan. Soon round 5 is upon us.


Infamous Welsh coach AndyDavo (back left) decided he wanted his picture with the Scottish contingent - we're still waiting on the €100 that he's owe us for the pleasure!

Round 5 - Varag, Ripper Snots... euuugghhh

Game 5 sees me at the mercy of Varag and Ripper Snotlings. The game devolves into a massive scrum deep in the Skaven half before a Stilty Runner makes 5+ pickup to score with the Skaven equalising early in the second half when a Gutter waltzes through Snotlings like they weren’t there. The kick sees Varag claim the ball before another scrum erupts in the Snotling half with the Skaven doing enough to prevent a throw team-mate to hold at 1-1. 

Slimjono provided a fun match with his snots.

Round 6 - A hat trick of Scots with Sann0638 and his OWA!

We go into round 6 and find ourselves face to face with the legend that is Mike Davies (sann0638) and his Ivar Eriksson-led Old World Alliance. With a record of 1-2-2 I decided to throw caution to the wind, have fun and see if I can make it as entertaining a game as possible. Early turns see the OWA cage roll down the pitch, running in for 1-0 after some interference from the rats. The Skaven try a one-turn in their 8 and then again in their 9 with both being undone by the OWA rolling a Blitz. 

Sann - third Scot of the weekend playing OWA with Ivar

The Skaven attack peters out but is nearly reignited by a decent scatter when the ball goes out of play, but a cute chain push doesn’t work leaving them one square short. The OWA then held out for their 1-0 win.  

With the end of the tournament now here, the Scots say their goodbyes to each other with Mulligan’s Open being the next tournament on the agenda for most of us. Marc, Scott, Ryan and I all head back to our accommodation for a cheeky wee takeaway before settling in for an evening of board games: Scott’s brand-new Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu and then a few solid rounds of Perudo. The highlight for me was our third game of Reign of Cthulhu where, having received the Doctor, I confidently state a bunch of actions I’ll take, which results in the rising of more cultists, the summoning of two Shoggoths, the awakening of two Old Ones, all 4 of us being driven insane and then the discarding of everyone’s hands, all before anyone takes a turn with the game ending shortly after.  

Monday: The Return and Reflection

Monday sees us leave Stockport at around 8am with a couple stops before we say goodbye to Ryan in Edinburgh and then Marc in Dundee with Scott and I arriving in Aberdeen for around half three. The trip passes quickly between the conversation and some light napping. 

The Waterbowl Weekender experience is one that I would heartily recommend to anyone in Scotland looking to head south of the border for a tournament. The tournament is one of the most welcoming environments I have been to, and the choice of venue is just what every gamer wants: a good shop to give in to temptation, a well-stocked bar with plenty of drink options and a whole host of good food places within a 5–10-minute walk. The Saturday night was great, with the option to stay on at the venue late with food, drink and plenty of fellow Scots (and others) to just relax, play games and forget about the day with. 

For me, the opportunity to travel to these tournaments is amazing and to do it with fellow Scottish players means that I always have someone to talk to (not that I have much trouble talking to begin with), go to the pub with or just hang out and chill with. The camaraderie in the car makes the time fly past and before you know it you’ve done 6 hours to York, 7 hours to Stockport and 11 hours to Wales. 

There are people who encourage the Scottish Community to head south of the border in order to play the top coaches in England and Wales in order to get better, but I feel a thing that is often forgotten is the memories and friends you’ll make going to these tournaments. I know I’ll always remember these trips for the moments that made me laugh, even the smallest things like Ryan’s plaintiff cry of “I panicked” in a game of Perudo. I’ve met and played so many friendly and welcoming people, even if the matches have not gone well for either of us (I still owe a hefty rake of pints to one person in particular). 

If you can only ever go to one tournament in England a year, I would recommend Waterbowl or UKTC. The UKTC is one of the best tournaments held in the UK, a four-person team tournament where you can grab three of your mates and have a blast. Waterbowl as said before is one of the friendliest and most welcoming tournaments I have been to and is an institution at this point. 

With all that being said, thanks for reading my rambling and I hope to see you on a pitch in the near future!


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