I make no secret of the fact that I am not a tournament player, it tends to bring out the kind of lists that are not fun to play against, and while testing yourself against such lists may be fun for some people, it's not my thing. My tournament attendance tends to be smaller affairs, run with more quirkiness, such as Double Trouble, Fluffageddon, Blog Wars - events that have unusual comp restrictions or flat out make the best prize the raffle in the hope of encouraging people to play nice. So cards on the table, my views on this point are most definitely those of an outsider to the tournament scene.
I know several people are, as I write this, attending the London GT. And the feedback I have received has been one of poor organisation and scenery that is... somewhat lacking. Apparently the scenery was a big complaint last time, and promises were made to do better, and this is what they have provided.
Now as I said, I'm not a frequent tournament attendee, and I'm not sure what rules are in place regarding army painting at the London GT... I know the tournaments I attend expect a minimum painting standard for entering armies. We're doing the hobby equivalent of putting on a nice shirt, smart shoes, presenting our best selves before we go to meet someone else who is hopefully doing the same. And then we arrive at the venue, both dressed in our finest, to find walls that have damp patches, carpet with holes in, crackly speakers... it's disappointing to say the least.
I want to see my fully painted army clash with someone else's fully painted army on a nice table. I want to take pictures of the game to write battle reports or just to remember the event. The pictures will look a little underwhelming when you have two beautifully painted armies fighting over a piece of polystyrene that hasn't even been painted. You may as well be fighting over the fun size cornflake packets on your kitchen table for all the spectacle it produces.
I know I'm spoiled. I run a gaming club with a wealth of scenery, so I have a weekly opportunity to play on boards like this.
Expecting a tournament venue to match that standard is unrealistic, I appreciate that, but surely there must be some minimum standard? Especially if you're expecting a minimum standard of entrants armies, and charging them for the privilege.
Recently a friend of mine gave me a battle rundown of a game he'd played on "planet bowling ball" that hadn't gone well for his going second against a gun-line army tyranids... here's the battlefield.
Now that may be lacking a little in LOS blocking terrain, but it is all at least painted. I would rather wing it as best I could with an army on that table than fight around old VHS tapeboxes - hey, they block LOS so what are you complaining about?
There are alternatives. I picked up a lot of cheap, easy build, wooden scenery online for my own gaming table. It isn't great, and as my friend points out, there isn't much LOS blocking stuff in my home collection, but I'm sure with a little more effort the kits could be modified to provide what is needed. Would it take a lot of time and manhours to do 200 tables worth? Undoubtedly, although the amount I did to give me options would probably populate half a dozen tournament tables and it took me a week single handed if I recall correctly. I'm sure a team, organising an event that was criticised last year for poor scenery, could do better than I could.
If I was expected to single handedly do 200 tables worth of scenery in, I don't know, a week... then you might get something like this...