I had intended to post this up a lot sooner, but family circumstances have left me with little time and energy, so my apologies for that.
Last year, I wrote four blogs about tankfest, which you can read here:
Tankfest 2016 Blog 1, Blog 2, Blog 3, Blog 4.
This year, I’m going to cut it into pieces as well to avoid wall-o-texting too much.
Like last year, my tankfest adventure began before tankfest itself. This year, it began on Wednesday, with packing my suitcases. I have two neon green coloured suitcases – one enormous, one for hand luggage, and despite the trip lasting only until Monday, I needed my big green monster. Why? Because when I go to tankfest, I bring bribes for the people that I meet. It’s my way of saying thank you (and of course it pays for my hax and all of that) without too big a gesture. In this case, they were stroopwafels. Lots and lots of stroopwafels – 26 packages of them to be exact. To give you an idea – that amounts to about 15kg worth of stroopwafels. Hence the giant suitcase.
I had a concert in Amsterdam that evening, so in the middle of the afternoon on Wednesday I took the train, together with my glow-in-the-dark suitcases. Now, I’ll save you all a lot of fangirl-gushing, but I do have to say this – I got a hug from Hans Zimmer himself, and considering he’s my idol, that is about the most awesome thing ever.
Since my flight would leave at 08.25 the following morning, I had to spend the night in Amsterdam – trains don’t run early enough for me to make it to the aiport otherwise. So, very early on Thursday, I went and flew to the UK – and was very lucky they didn’t weigh my hand luggage. I arrived at my hotel at 10.20, and since check in only opened at 2pm, I was quite prepared to just leave my luggage there. But, the lady of the hotel had actually made certain that the room I got hadn’t been used the day before, so I could get it straight away. I was eternally grateful, because surviving on 3 hours of sleep isn’t something I’m good at.
I settled, got a nice nap of 4 hours or so, before heading out to go to the beach, enjoying the wind, the sea, a lovely monument, all the coloured houses and the funkiest tree I’ve ever seen. I’ve always utterly adored the sea, so it was just lovely to be able to enjoy that for a while.
Before I knew it, it was Friday – Contributor Day. Last year, the day had lots of ups and downs, but was fun overall. This year it already started better because Wargaming had arranged for a shuttle to pick us up at or near our respective hotels, which made getting to the museum infinitely easier.
Beforehand, we had received a nice schedule for the day, to give us an idea what we’d be doing. Where last year, we had some meetings, and then lots of tanks to look at, this year it was more about the talking. At the entrance of the museum we waited for everyone to arrive, and greeted the ones we knew. It’s always great to put the faces to the people you talk to, and the voices, and to be to see dear old friends again, like Sk8.
One of the new faces for me was Bushka, who was over from Australia with his family and who got to tag along with us. Together with Martindogger, we 4 were to represent Blitz during Tankfest – that is, up to the level that Blitz gets any attention.
We were shuffled into the Wargaming room they have at the museum, and the talking began, sometimes interrupted by the sounds of roaring engines outside. Now, I’m not at liberty to openly discuss everything that was talked about, but since about 99% had to do with PC, that’s not too bad. One thing I did find interesting when they were talking with some of the developers for WoT (who had requested to be there themselves), was that some of the things they mentioned as possible (note: POSSIBLE, not probable or definite in any way) options for WoT were things that we have, and in some cases have long since had, in Blitz, some good, some bad.
After this, we split into the different language sections to talk with our staffs. Last year, this talk was used to talk about our issues with the game, which made it entirely useless that the group wasn’t split into the different games. But this year, it actually worked out a lot better, because we didn’t talk about the games all that much. We talked about the CC-program, about what we expect from the staff, from WG, from ourselves, what kind of behaviour we find proper, etc. It was interesting, and the way WG actually seemed to take the things we said seriously does a lot for my faith in the company – but it’s still up to them to prove themselves. At the same time, the fact that the issues we have as Blitz CC’s are the same across all the games, goes to show they’ve a lot to work on, definitely. I’d love to spill some more beans on this whole subject and give my opinion, but this talk too, we were requested to not share the details about.
Now, outside of the serious talks, we had time to chat and mingle. I gave the presents I had with me for him to Sk8, and he surprised me with a present back that moved me to tears. I think I must have hugged him like 4 times in the span of a few minutes just because I had no way of properly expressing what the gift means to me, and no words seemed good enough.
The STB has been my second favourite tank for a very long time (only topped by the T110E5, but there’s no model of that (hint, Wargaming, HINT 😉 ), and I had actually talked to Sk8 about it last year. So when my clan contacted him in search of an E5 model, he knew exactly what to go for – the Type 74 modified into an STB with the lovely antenna’s and everything. Commissioned by my clan Phoenix and made by Sk8 himself, I got the most lovely gift of all. The PHNX on the barrel is actually a wink to the Fury, which, even though I’m not a big fan of the movie, is my third favourite tank in the game.
But it’s not just the tank itself that makes this gift so meaningful. It’s the thought, the energy, and the love that goes in it that makes the gift beyond precious to me.
P.S. It’s now got his own shelf at home, where it sits proudly, being utterly gorgeous.
After the meetings, which lasted from 10am until around 13.30, we went outside and got some lovely lunch in the form at the food court. Then, the WoT-crew went back inside for more talks and we were basically left to roam free. We didn’t really roam though, instead taking up a space at the arena and watching the people there drive the Jagdpanther – which had some very real steering problems – and practise the battle of Normandy 1944.
Watching that beast drive about is utterly amazing, because it’s so huge. Walking around there just makes you realise how much the game distorts your idea of the tanks you’re driving. In the game, the Jagdpanther isn’t all that big is size, and when you see it in real life, it’s a little shocking. But that’s the case with many tanks. One of the few tanks that’s pretty much exactly as you imagine it is the Luchs.
While watching that, we talked quite a bit, and Bushka livestreamed for a few minutes to test if everything was working. It was actually really nice to get to know him. It left me with a bit of a conundrum, because in all honesty, I’m not that big a fan of his videos as far as I’ve seen them or as far as I’ve heard what’s in them, but the man himself is very open, enthusiastic and very kind, and I found it difficult to rhyme the image I had of him with the image that I now got face to face – even though meeting him doesn’t change his content or what I think of that. As a person though, I definitely like him.
When the PC-crew joined us again, we visited the Wargaming booth and played a few games there. The booth was set up a lot larger than last year, and instead of having a meet & greet tent outside, it was now worked into the booth, with a tank background kind of thing there to make for fun pictures. Not that I, with my inactivity on youtube, ever really expect to have or meet fans. Just the community, and that’s different imo. Blitz had little to no place on it though – we knew we would be streaming the day after, but there were no tablets set up for people at Tankfest to try Blitz, and no X-box either. Just PC’s and PS4’s, but there were at least lots of those.
After inspecting the booth, and being presented by Wargaming with personalised official WG tshirts that branded us as CC’s with our own ign on it, we all filed into the bus and went a little ways to a restaurant to have dinner, which was lovely (lasagna ❤ ). And it was great to have the troupe together, and, again, getting the chance to get to know people better.
By the time I got back to my hotel, I was knackered, even though it was only around nine thirty. All in all, CC-day felt a lot more chaotic than last year, and I missed the tour we got last year that allowed us to get some extra information on specific tanks, but I think the feedback talk has the potential to be a lot more fruitful, and it was easier to socialise with people – though that’s probably also because I got to know most of them last year already.
It took me a little while to actually fall asleep, because this year, I was looking even more forwards to tankfest itself, because there’d be so many more people there this year that I’ve known for ages in the game. I could hardly wait.