Dear friends and readers of this blog. It is with great sadness that I write this post. Before I dive into this issue, I want to explain to you why I'm writing this. The day after I came home from WTC2017 I wrote an ill-advised blog post where I blamed the opposing team from our last game, France Falbala, accusing them of unsportsmanlike behaviour by going behind our backs following our departure from Blankenberge. Not long after I published this post I was contacted by Sylvain, captain of France Falbala, which assured me that the info I had (which was the source of the blog post) was incorrect. He told me, unequivocally, that Falbala did not go to the head judge. This led to me deleting said blog post and instead issue a public apology to France Falbala (which you can read here).
The deleted blog post was a complaint I filed to the WTC Committee where I requested the original score from the game between Norway Hugin and France Falbala (3-2 in favour of Hugin, for the record) be restored. Upon issuing the apology to Falbala I wrote another e-mail to the WTC Committee, where I (among other things) apologized for my language in my original complaint:
"I also would like to apologize and ask for your forgiveness for the harsh language in the previous email/blog post. I hope you can empathize with our situation as our last ~3 hours in Belgium were absolutely terrible. Words cannot describe how frustrated, angry and sad the atmosphere in the taxi on the way to Brussels was. It is not that we lost, 4-2 would have been a strong result for Hugin which we would have been proud of, it's that we feel robbed of a win we earned."
I also made sure to not engage in any public discussion or issue any further statements after I posted the apology to ensure that the committee could conduct its investigation as they saw fit. Contrary to what their published conclusion claims (which you can read here), the committee never interviewed Hugin. I have asked all players on my team and neither of them have been contacted. The same applies for me. I replied to the WTC Committee in private at first, requesting a swift reply. I was disappointed to say the least when I saw multiple committee members active on various social media and forums instead of answering me. They decided to make their findings public without interviewing our party (i.e. me or Hugin), asking any questions or allowing us any follow-up. As I see it, this forces me to present our case in public as well. I don't mind this because I believe in transparency with everything I do, but after the first, ill-advised blog post I tried to keep this in private because of what the committee wanted (as you can see in multiple comments). That no longer seems possible. I see a lot of people confused by the conclusion because, like me, they don't understand how it makes sense. They speculate that maybe it's something else, maybe Hugin lied, maybe we behaved poorly. Thus, I write this post to clarify what happened as much as I possibly can. To that end I encourage anyone reading this who notices anything factually incorrect to contact me so that I can look into it and update this post.
:: Table of Contents ::
The 6th round at this year's WTC was approximately half an hour behind schedule. We were also informed that due to beautiful weather all weekend there was a lot of traffic expected from Blankenberge to Brussels. This was a problem for us because Norway Hugin had a really tight schedule to catch our flight back home on Sunday evening. An extra half hour of traffic compared to Google's estimate and the event being an extra half hour behind schedule meant we were in real danger of having to forfeit our last match.
I explained our predicament to the organizers and they were very helpful in trying to find solutions. At first I was told that if I could find another team in our bracket (4-1) willing to play us then they would manually pair us up and we could start playing. I don't remember how many teams I asked but nobody wanted to face us. Understandable, given our double Cryx lineup and the reduced pause in-between games they'd get. For the record I appreciate the various teams I talked to taking their time to at least consider this and I have no hard feelings towards anyone for declining. In any case I had to give up and instead it was agreed that Norway Hugin would get to play on a set table for the last round. This allowed us to set up the scenario and terrain and bought us valuable minutes.
Eventually we drew France Falbala in the pairing. They were as forthcoming as they could have been and we got through the pairings quickly to start our games. I had an enjoyable game against my opponent and I did not perceive that he nor any of his teammates deliberately tried to play us for time (which they certainly could have and this would almost certainly have won them the match. Kudos to Falbala for doing all they could to get a good match going!). I lost my game but two of my team mates won their games, leading to a tentative 2:1 score in favour of Hugin. There were two remaining games: Hugin Skorne vs Falbala Convergence and Hugin Cryx vs Falbala Grymkin.
The Skorne vs Convergence game had a judge call (see 2. Rules Dispute for details) and ended in our favour. This gave us the 3 necessary games to take the match. Our taxi had arrived so I ordered our last player to forfeit his game and start packing models. I helped out our Skorne and Cryx players pack their things until it was no longer feasible to multi-task it. I handed in the sheets to either the floor judge or the organizer representative in our room (I honestly don't remember). At this point I notified the Norwegian community following our games that we had won our match vs Falbala as I carried my own bags into the waiting taxi. When the rest of my team finished packing we left the venue.
Once in the taxi spirits were high, obviously. After a little while we noticed that our win was registered on the official website for WTC. We thought all we had to do now was make our plane and we'd be good (we did, by the way, make the plane home). Unfortunately shortly after we were notified by observers back home that the registered result had been changed. Falbala was now listed as the winner.
2. Rules Dispute
I have written an in-depth post about this game in particular. Although a lot of it is irrelevant to the discussion at hand I have done my best to provide as much detail as possible for the sake of transparency and clarity. You can read about this in full here: link.
Please note that when the ruling was made, the Hugin Skorne player specifically asked the judge if the resolution was correct and if the clock should be restarted. He received a clear and unequivocal answer to both questions: "Yes". To the best of my knowledge, this decision was accepted by both parties playing the game and the game went on. Following our win after this certain members of Falbala were clearly disappointed. The discussion was mainly in French so I couldn't follow it. I assumed it was the natural frustration which comes with losing. Hands were shook, models were removed, scoresheets were updated.
As noted above I helped our players pack. A few minutes went by (see Timeline below) and I asked the judge for re-assurance: "Is this it, did we win?" His reply was simply: "Yes". I asked again, "Are you sure?" because I wanted to be 100% sure that this issue was settled. Again the answer was "yes". With that knowledge I put the issue to rest. I can't remember if I handed the judge or the organizer representative at our room the sheets but I do distinctly remember handing them over. I was not contacted again by any party about this issue prior to our departure from the venue.
18:14 (ca) Issue is being debated
18:15 Taxi Arrives
18:16 (ca) Issue is resolved, game ends shortly after
18:23 Win is announced by me to Norwegians on Slack
18:24 (ca) Sheets are handed in, confirmation of game state is provided by judge to Hugin
18:32 Taxi leaves
18:36 Head judge appears uninformed of the issue (link)
18:39 Results are being registered for Norway Hugin vs France Falbala (link)
18:42 Norway Hugin is officially announced as the winning team (link)
18:45 France Falbala is officially announced as the winning team (link)
The issue was being debated by multiple players from both teams. Once I realized what was happening (i.e. players were arguing, not just observing) I ordered the non-participating players to step away. I know that this was at roughly 18:14 because right after this happened I was notified that our taxi arrived, at which point I checked the time and it was right on time (we had ordered it for 18:15). The issue didn't take long to resolve and once it was resolved the game quickly ended.
Following this I filled out sheets and helped our players pack. Once we could no longer multi-task the packing I announced to the Norwegians following us on Slack that we had won our game. This is timestamped 18:23. Right after I made this announcement I asked the judge for a final confirmation before handing in the sheets, so this would be approximately at 18:24.
Norway Hugin had an internal deadline we had agreed upon to have the taxi moving by 18:30. This was the level of risk we were willing to take. Once everyone was inside and the taxi started moving I checked my clock to see if we were on schedule. We were ever so slightly behind, 18:32. It's worth noting that upon us leaving the venue, none of us had seen the head judge in the room where we played.
A picture was posted to the head judge's timeline on Facebook by Gil Surepi with the timestamp 18:36. On this picture Jason appears to be still uninformed of our issue (and not involved in any other dispute requiring his attention). I have asked Gil when this picture was taken. He confirmed to me that it was posted right after it was taken.
3 minutes later, at 18:39, the results from Hugin vs Falbala are being registered. As agreed for tie breaker purposes the Falbala Grymkin vs Hugin Cryx matchup is resolved as a scenario win for Falbala Grymkin. As concluded the Falbala Convergence vs Hugin Skorne matchup is resolved as an assassination win to Skorne. It's worth noting I suppose that the Falbala Cryx vs Hugin Cygnar matchup (i.e. my game) is reported wrong: This game was won by Falbala Cryx on scenario, not assassination.
From the moment the issue was resolved it took roughly 16 minutes until our taxi left the venue. During this time Norway Hugin was not informed that the issue had been escalated. To the best of our knowledge we had done everything one could reasonably have expected of us to resolve it before taking our leave. Based on the post on the head judge's Facebook timeline I would estimate that he was informed of the issue somewhere around 18:36 - 18:40. I wonder why we were not explicitly told to wait, told of the escalation or otherwise informed before we left the venue. I would like to remind you that I have received confirmation from Sylvain, captain of team Falbala, that they did not know of the escalation either.
4. WTC Committee Conclusion
You can read the WTC Committee Conclusion here: link. The WTC Committee started an investigation following my complaint. In the post linked above they claim to have interviewed all parties involved. As noted in the preface of this post this is incorrect. No members of Norway Hugin were interviewed. As I read it, their entire conclusion boils down to one simple thing:
"From the French Team, the Floor Judge and 3rd party observers we heard that the Norway Team captain said as he left “We can’t wait, our taxi is here”.This indicates they knew there was something to wait for, but left anyway.
Based on this, the entire rest of the issue is irrelevant, the game was abandoned and the Head Judge call stands. The current standings remain correct."This implies that I have been lying all along. That all of this work, the complaint and my facts are based on a lie. Norway Hugin tried its utmost to ensure that the game state was resolved before we left. As noted under 2. Rules Dispute, the floor judge was asked multiple questions to which we received unequivocal answers. As 3. Timeline shows, there was at least 14 minutes from the issue was settled until we left. During this time we could have been explicitly informed but we were not. Sylvain, captain of France Falbala, has confirmed to me that he did not know of the escalation either.
The only logical conclusion for the WTC Committee resolution is that I am lying and have been all along. That I knew of the escalation all along and have been playing dumb. There is of course no argument I can make against this. I am sad, hurt and angry because I am not believed. The sole evidence I have seen presented against me is someone hearing me say "We can't wait, our taxi is here", out of context. I would have happily stayed behind and missed my flight if it meant my team would have won this game. I guess it doesn't matter what I say, if you believe I lied about this to begin with then all of this could just as well be fabricated.
It boils down to my integrity. I cannot remember ever having had this questioned before. When I have been in the wrong, I have been quick to accept responsibility and forfeit whatever my mistake "provided". Sadly, that is not enough. There is nothing I can do about this.
5. Closing Words
Battle at Lund 2016 was my first international Warmachine & Hordes event. Prior to starting this game I played Warhammer competitively. While a lot of things are similar, one thing stood out: In games against a lot of Swedes, including finals against Jeppa Resmark, Olov Winroth and Fredrik Raben, in games against the German powerhouses Robin Maukisch and Ben Fuzi, and in games against the Great Dane Laurents Rønved I had the same experience: These were awesome people to play and awesome games to be had. I thoroughly enjoyed every single game at this convention. And do you know what? That was only the beginning. In every single event I've attended, I have had amazing games. I cannot recall a single Warmachine & Hordes event game where there was an issue post-match between me and my opponent.
Since Battle at Lund 2016 I have won quite a few big, international events. This has on many occasions led to friends and colleagues who don't play this game ask me if there's money in Warmachine & Hordes. Every single time I have received this question I have replied with a smile that "No, there is not. And do you know what? I'm really happy about that. I like the purity of the game. It's pure competition." And that's exactly why I've been enjoying all these events so much. It's pure competition.
Today, I no longer have that feeling. From a competition point of view there is no doubt in my mind that Hugin beat Falbala. While I understand that the analysis of the game situation is irrelevant for the conclusions of the WTC Committee's investigation, it means that we're not losing because we actually lost a played game. We are receiving this loss because of what I can, at best, call a technicality. The pure competition aspect is gone. I don't mind losing if it's deserved, but as I wrote previously in this post we feel robbed of a win we know we earned. I can only hope that those of you who know me will believe me and understand why I'm reacting so much to this.
Any game needs rules. Players won't always agree on everything. A neutral third party to interfere as needed is necessary. I can deal with the technicalities and implications of this. However, what we're discussing here isn't even related to the game at all. It's at the level where my integrity as a person is being questioned. I have no idea how on Earth this happened exactly and probably never will. What I do know is that this is everything I don't like about competitive miniature gaming. It's gotten to the point where this issue is affecting my daily life. This is too much.
I will never attend the WTC again.