The next day, Tankfest actually began. Unlike on Friday, I didn’t actually have time for breakfast before I left my hotel – because it was weekend, the buffet was opened at about the same time I had to leave. Boooo.
Meadsy69, M4U6LI5, Bobbymcbobob and TheHappyKiwi were already there by the time the bus arrived at the museum. Martin, a true gent, had offered to carry part of my bribes for people – as today I was logging around about 10kg of the stuff. This always makes me feel guilty, because it’s my stuff, but I was grateful. I’ll definitely need to find a way to do this more effectively next year, that’s for sure.
It was really awesome to see the first two again, along with Tom7577 and his son Ethan7577, and to meet Bobby and Kiwi, and Penguinkiller – who’s one of the people I toon with the most and talk to a lot. So meeting him was definitely amazing. Lots of hugs were exchanged, and bribes were given – both ways. It’s no secret I adore ladybirds (main reason I was allowed in as a CC), so Meadsy fully abused my love for them to get on my good side, while Kiwi got me a clock of the castle near his home – which he knows I love the look of. And Pengu, who knows me -very- well, gifted me not only the best t-shirt ever, but also a Deadpool bobblehead. This all made for a very happy Dieu, and it made me feel very treasured.
After presents were exchanged and my bribes-bag got a bit lighter, Sk8, Martin and I had to head inside to do a livestream, which was utterly funny. You can see it all on Sk8’s channel, with webcam-view of us as we played. Two hours, one with me and one with Martin, just flew by.
After the livestream, we started walking around, admiring the giant metal monsters that tankfest is all about. Some are fairly funny, like the ones below. I’d like to note that the Princess Beatrix was named after our ex-queen, and that “Fleur d’Amour” means “Flower of Love”, which, of course, is only fitting for a tank.
But of course, the tanks aren’t just funny, they’re also awesome. Seeing the Fury drive around again means a lot more this year, now that I actually have the tank in game, and, as said, it’s my third favourite tank in the game. Funnily enough, they also have an M60, which pose fits the whole meaning of the tank in the game. It was presented to part of the community by WG as a gift to “loyal players”. We’ve never quite learned what that means, but loyal in this case means having spend a ton on the game. Quite a few utter goldnoobs with no clue about the game have it, and a lot of goldnoobs with a bit of a clue have it too (like myself). So that it’s pointing its gun over its rear to shoot seems very apt.
Unfortunately, the Jagdpanther didn’t drive again throughout tankfest – they didn’t trust it, and if it had entered the arena, chances were that it would not be able to leave the arena again. So the fact that we got to see it drive on Friday was a pretty special treat.
I went to check out my lovely Fury up close and personal too, and checked up on some of my other lovelies – the Luchs (little sealclubbing monster), my first tier IX ever – the Jagdtiger, and of course, the majestic Tog.
All in all, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures of tanks as I did last year – partly because I saw most of them last year already, but also because I was a lot busier hanging out with the people I know from the game. I met quite a few Phoenix’s, AFK-ers, Empros, DADS, and many more. And catching up with the lovely people I’d already met last year, including MrsSk8 and their family. It was absolutely lovely. We met up throughout the day several times, and joined again for lunch with a small group. J_dog bought me a bacon sandwich as he had promised months ago – earning my vote to become a full member of my clan.
The day flew by and pretty soon it was time for the meet & greet at the Wargaming booth for Martin, Sk8 and myself. Only, this was taken as an opportunity to meet up with most of the members from the Blitz community, which was way too many people to keep in the booth, so we actually had our meeting outside of it. Unfortunately, I later understood that this made a few people feel unwelcome because they felt we were too occupied talking to our friends, which was never the intention. I know that any of us would have happily talked to anyone that joined us – and we did.
We took a bunch of group pictures at the spot too, which we had a lot of fun of – lots of people wanting a picture together with x or y, or this group, that group. When the end of the day was closing in on us, Pengu wanted to queue up and get a goodiesbag, but WG had actually already closed the line. I ended up giving him my own, which I’d gotten after the livestream, because I knew I had another chance at it the next day, whereas he definitely wouldn’t.
I drove back to Bournemouth with Tom and his son, and together with J_dog, we had a little dinner at the pier with 4 related to Phoenix and 5 related to Empros (Martin and his clanmates). It was a lot of fun, especially when Martin started giving Ethan pointers on the game as he played in the restaurant. I kept myself busy by doing the kiddy-puzzles on the placemat we got between courses.
The next day seemed a lot emptier, in all ways. Most of ‘my people’ were there on Saturday, and though I did have excellent company on Sunday as well, it was just a lot less crowded, and I missed it. This did mean that I had more time to properly hang out with those that were there though. I got there earlier than on Saturday, catching a ride from Rossolancer, and we waited a bit outside to meet up with those still there or there today. I did pop in and got a new goodiesbag for myself from Kandly, one of our EU staff members, for which I was quite grateful, with Ethan having gotten mine the day before.
I caught up with HiDeathinition – my ride last year for one, and I actually had a really good talk with some of the members from Legion that were there (for those not Blitz, long story short, there’s quite a bit of history and bad blood). Given, these were almost all, if not all, ex-R1G, but still. But it was insightful, and between me and this specific group, I felt it helped clear the air a bit because of the prejudices both ways. At least, it did for me.
I did take my time to enjoy the arena and what went on there more this day, and on my way to the press area, I looked to my right and saw two of the three Leopards that would drive around the arena standing there. Since there still was time, the attendant that checked whether or not I was allowed to be at the press area, told me I could go and take a closer look. So I did, walking around them and taking my time. The metal monsters are amazing to see and feel.
After admiring them for quite a bit, I went to the actual press area and tipped of Sk8 so he could check out the Leo’s too. He didn’t see my message before he joined me, but when I told him, he headed back there to see them and get some unique footage. More unique than I thought, even, because he got into a tank-nerd talk with one of the crewmembers from the German Leo and was actually allowed to look inside. He was, as he’d say, “chuffed”.
I also took my time to notice some of the less visible things and tanks, like the very broken Churchill Gun Carrier or the wreck of some medium tank that Sk8 and Martin no doubt recognise on the spot and probably even told me a year ago but that I’ve forgotten.
One thing I really like about the museum is the fact that they don’t patch the tanks up to be flawless. The damage to the Ferdinand is till clearly visible – if clean, for one, but the damage on the Tiger is more impressive, because it comes with a story.
For those that don’t know, the Tiger was virtually untouched when the Brits got it. This was because a shell hit the turret and jammed it, which made the crew flee. But I adore that you can actually see where it scraped the gun and bounced into the turret and everything. It makes it a living piece of history, and it’s that kind of imperfections that, in my opinion, give the tank character.
I spent my time browsing the shops inside and outside the museum, taking an extra interest in the medal-coins that WG sold, but HiDeath told me there was a stand of them inside as well, which was from the guy that actually made them. These had pins as well, but moreover, they were quite a bit cheaper than the ones WG sold – even though they’re the exact same. So that was a bit peculiar.
In the end, I went back to the Wargaming booth and found a bunch of familiar faces there. I had a good long talk with Fourdiesel, who’d bought an Elite SS-hat, which looked quite cool, but considering he’s tall and blond, wearing that did make people look at him funny. But then, the people there can’t smell that he’s not a neo-nazi or anything of the kind.
We watched Sk8 do a 1v1 on console, which was a load of fun as well, especially when a sweet little kid, who obviously had little to no experience, got the challenge. He was coached by the Beard Guys, and drove a Deathstar, whereas Sk8 went for the Batchat (which I really really really want now). And try as he might, Sk8 had quite a difficult time, suddenly driving into buildings and his fingers slipping off buttons. I guess he was very nervous. Either way, the kid won, and the smile on his face made it all the cuter.
I said goodbye to my friends as they started going home bit by bit, and ran into Bushka again – which had happened a few times over the last few days – who kept greeting me as if I was a long lost friend whenever I saw him, which was just really sweet and makes me like him even more. The man has a very warm personality and a big heart.
And all of a sudden, it was time for me to head on off too. I thanked the staff profusely for including me in the event again, said goodbye to Pengu, Sk8, and the others still there, and took the shuttle back to my hotel. I actually felt a bit bummed that it was over already. With everyone there, I still have the distinct feeling that I couldn’t give people the attention and time I had wanted to and that they deserved.
The next day, I had a nice and lazy morning, with the hotel allowing me to stay at their bar and do some embroidery while I waited until it was time for me to go to the station with my green monsters. The flight back was gorgeous though, the jetstream of another plane, the shadow of my own plane, with rays of sunlight, and quite clearly seeing myself entering my country again. After that I still had an hour and a half trainride back to my hometown, which gave me a little gorgeous view as we neared the station.
All in all, Tankfest 2017 was brilliant. The fest itself seemed less big, less exuberant than Tankfest 2016, but then, that was the year tanks had existed for 100 years so probably Tankfest 2016 was just bigger in all ways. But the amount of people that game this year was so much more numerous, and I loved that most of all. I don’t play this game for the tanks, I just like blowing stuff up. I know very little about the tanks. But I play, keep playing and contribute because of the community. Tankfest in itself is fun, and learning more about the tanks is great, because I do actually like military history – have a lot of it in my family – but it’s meeting the community that makes Tankfest awesome to me.
I wanted to name everyone that I met by name in this blog, but then it would just be endless, and while these people mean a lot to me, they likely won’t to you, the reader. But if I met you, and your name isn’t listed here somewhere, that doesn’t change the fact that I still adored meeting you, putting a name and in some cases a voice to the people I’ve been having fun in the game with since 3 years on July 14th.
Thank you, community, friends, clanmates, for making Tankfest amazing, and thank you, WG and especially our EU community staff, for making Tankfest possible.