The National Student Roleplaying and Wargaming Championships, known simply as ‘The Student Nationals’ or even just ‘Nationals’, is a weekend-long gaming event (containing categories to choose from which cover various systems of roleplaying and wargaming, as well as boardgaming, LARP and CCGs) with over 20 years of history behind it.
BRAWL has been attending since Manchester in 2009 and have done really well ever since then, winning in 2011 and subsequently hosting (it works rather like Eurovision, but without the block voting) in 2012.
Teams can be any size, though in the past BRAWL has fielded between 15 and 30 players. You do NOT need to be a student to join our Nationals team, but each Nationals team is linked to a university from around Britain or to students in some way. You also don’t need to feel you’re a great gamer; BRAWL accepts all members onto its Nationals team. If you’re not yet a member and would like to be one, we can do that for you.
We like to do well at Nationals to prove we can cut it with the big gaming societies out there, but genuinely it’s not the winning that’s important, it’s the taking part: getting involved with the UK gaming community, representing Cardiff and BRAWL, playing some fantastic games and having lots and lots of fun.
With the games themselves run during the day on Saturday and Sunday, and plenty of socialising and other activities on Friday and Saturday evening (Friday afternoon is for travelling there, just as Sunday evening is for travelling back), it’s an awesome weekend of gaming, quizzes and raffles, optional fancy dress, socialising and not getting quite enough sleep. It also makes for a very fun road-trip and being part of “the team” is a really great experience.
Quite honestly, I would describe it as the best event of the BRAWL year and I’m usually pretty biased towards picking events that are actually ours. Ask anyone who’s been before and they’ll tell you that you don’t want to miss out on this.
The entry fee is 25 pounds per person, though 5 of this subsidised by BRAWL. Any proceeds from the event, after costs, go to the nominated charity for that year. Usually, the event raises between 2,000 and 5,000 for charity (although when we hosted, it was over 8,000, because we rock like that).
On top of that, you’ll need to consider transport (which BRAWL provides and subsidises the costs of, making it cheap), accommodation for two nights (again, we always get great deals to make it very reasonable) and food, drink and socialising as the main costs of the weekend. If your budget stretches further than that, you can buy charity re-rolls during your games, as well as cool swag from the awesome traders that will be attending.
How do I find out details about the next Nationals (2017) specifically?
All of the details for the 2017 Nationals hosted in Nottinghamcan be found here.
How does the gaming work? Will I have to play anything I don’t want to?
During team registration (usually September-December), each team member picks three categories in order of preference. You’ll be assigned one of those categories, usually your first choice, and that’s what you’re playing on Saturday and Sunday.
For roleplayers, each day is a different one-shot adventure in the category you picked. If, for example, you picked Action and Adventure, Saturday could see you as survivors fighting off a zombie apocalypse, while on Sunday you could be treasure hunters raiding an ancient temple. Some categories are very specific (you’ll be playing D&D 4th Ed, if you choose D&D 4th Ed), whereas others are wider; for example, we can’t guarantee you will or won’t play Runequest if you pick Open Fantasy.
For wargamers, you’ll pick your specific wargame (for example, Warhammer 40,000) and play it essentially as if it were a normal wargames championship in that particular game. You’ll need, of course, to bring your own tabletop-standard army. Specific rules and point costs are announced for each year, so please consult the specific event for details.
CCGs such as Magic the Gathering work on the same principle, but each year may differ in what exactly it offers (whether draft or constructed or what have you).
For boardgamers, you will pick a rough type of game such as Social Boardgames or Strategy Boardgames and the games you specifically play will conform to that type. Again, we can’t guarantee that you will or won’t play a specific game.
LARP works differently each time, but usually you’ll play one game on Saturday and another different setting or system on Sunday.
Often there is a category called something like Irn-Man, Geek of Steel or something, in which the player plays one each of a roleplaying game, a wargame, a boardgame and a LARP throughout the weekend.
How on earth do you roleplay (or LARP) competitively?
It does seem a strange concept at first. You can win a wargame or a boardgame, but one of the first things a rookie roleplayer learns is that you can’t”win” a roleplaying game. At the Nationals, players are judged to “win”by their GMs not because their characters did the best on the adventure, but because of how well the player themselves roleplayed.The judgement is usually based on a combination of the following: how well the player roleplayed their character and traits, how much the player advanced the story and enhanced the game, how well the player interacted with others, how well the player avoiding metagaming, hogging the spotlight or being not fun to play with, etc.