It is Reksio here from Sexy Sixes and I will jump directly into the second part of my rant about the ETC I participated in this year. I already talked about gaming aspects in my previous post so I thought I would also cover everything around it. I tried to find the correct structure for this article but I think I will just go point by point and dive deeper whenever necessary.
When I first heard about Athens I was not fully convinced this was a good idea. The political/social/financial instability of the region, combined with relatively high prices was in my opinion a big obstacle on the way to organize a successful event. I also got the feeling that some other teams shared the same fears and simply did not show up. This had an impact on the number of teams attending the FoW tournament, which dropped from 30 (in Prague) to 22. It was not a disaster but still a painful decrease.
In the end, the reality was not so bad. There were signs of financial crisis in the streets of Athens, with many businesses closed and homeless people appearing here and there but the overall conditions, apart from searing heat (I'd say 36 degrees Celsius on average at noon, without a single cloud to stop the sun), were acceptable. We were never harassed in any way, cash machines were working just fine, staff of the nearby restaurants was very friendly, etc.
The venue itself was ok for gaming purposes, although not so clean. What was most important however, it had a functional AC system, which apparently was a huge improvement over what Prague offered :)
We also had good fun doing some sightseeing - we went to see the Acropolis, the Olympic Stadium, the temple of Zeus and some nearby monuments). Going to the beach would have been fun if not for the fact that the public one was just plain filthy. Learning from this, we checked out cleanbeaches.gr and found one that was more fitting to our needs :)
2. Atmosphere at the ETC
I have to say I was really enchanted by the overall feel of the event. You could clearly see this is a big one, just about when you entered the Faliro Taekwondo Stadium. The playing area was just massive, easily holding 250+ tables covered with all kinds of terrain, with players shuffling about, having their games. In my opinion, this is the ultimate gaming experience. No other event compares to the ETC.
As far as FoW goes, I was a bit afraid that playing the top tables as Team Poland, there will be a lot of tension and friction between players competing for the title of the ETC Champions. But there was none of this. I did have a game where the opponent was very much focused on the result, but I explained to him that my intention is to have a good, enjoyable game in the first place and we got on very well from then on.
I was also very flattered to hear that some of the guys read my blog and a few of them even enjoy it :) The reception I got from the Romanian guys however, was exceptional. They thanked me for being a big fan of the Romanian troops as well as their soccer team back in the 90's (when they won an important game against Argentina in the World Cup quarter finals). That part of the ETC was plain awesome - it gave me enough positive motivation to go on for another year :)
3. ETC Organization
A lot of inputs were already shared in the ETC forums but I will still add my 2 cents. From my point of view, the orga team did a good job overall. Of course they had manpower issues, of course they received help from the ETC chairmen and from the teams attending the event. Still, the motto of the ETC is "by players, for players". Anybody who does not understand this and demands instant, full gratification is, in my opinion, plain wrong. My way of doing things is:
a) offer my support to the organizer first (as it is in my best interest to make this a good experience)
b) give feedback and suggest improvements later (so the next orga in line can learn from it)
I was a bit worried that some people do it the other way round. This did not stop the Greeks however, and I would like to thank Theo and his entire crew for running a fairly smooth event, with a few hiccups that did not have a big impact on my overall perception of the ETC. Way to go Greeks! :)
To close the article, I have to admit I really had a great time. The evenings spent with the team mates were a blast, the trip was not so bad, the time spent with the family doing sightseeing or visiting the beach was premium, the games were excellent, the "Red Baron" took a heavy toll on the opponent's armies and the sunset at the marina was jaw dropping.
Can't wait until Salamanca :)