If you’re looking to spend a week playing the greatest game in the world, look no further than the Warhammer Retreat. It’s a 7 day vacation located roughly 40 miles outside of Austin, Texas, hosted by Nights at the Game Table’s very own Adam Lyons.
Over the week, you receive a variety of hobby lessons, and get to partake in 40k games and events. We’re going to take a look at the trip over 3 categories: Accommodations, Lessons, and Activities. Each category will be scored out of 5 points.
2= Below Average
4= Above Average
Accommodations: Meet the guide and host for the week, Kevin!
Many of you reading this will recognize Kevin from Nights At The Game Table (NATGT). For those that don’t, he’s a regular on their YouTube channel, best known for bringing the WAUUUUUUGH! with his band of Orks as often as possible. Kevin was an absolute blast of a host. He’s funny, entertaining, and helpful. Hands down, he’s one of the biggest highlights of the trip.
The above photo was taken at the Graffiti Park, located in Austin. On Friday, Kevin took the time to show us around Austin, which offered a nice break from all the 40K. And for the rest of the trip, he made sure that both my partner and I were able do do whatever we wanted to do. If you’ve never been to Austin before, it’s a vibrant city that’s growing incredibly quickly; you’ll never forget your first time there!
In addition to having a set host for the week, the Retreat takes place at a home dedicated to the experience.
The home was still partially under construction while we were there. However, it was mostly finished, and was pretty comfortable. On one day I was woken up by the work being done, but overall it wasn’t a huge deal. It’s slated to be finished by the next Retreat, but only time will tell if it’s actually done in time. Also, fair warning, if you have a pet allergy there are a few cats around, but they’re very sweet and always looking for new friends!
Otherwise, the Accommodations were fantastic. Your food is covered by a company called Snap Kitchen. They’re essentially Gourmet microwave meals, which I know doesn’t sound super appetizing, and honestly, I wasn’t that sold on them at first.
Holy hell was I wrong. They offer a wide range of meals covering Breakfast, Lunch,and Dinner. I was genuinely surprised by both the surprising variety and actual flavor of the meals. If you have special diet needs, such as being a Vegetarian, you should have no problems here. In addition, the home has various food stuffs to make sandwiches and snacks as well as lots of water, Gatorade, instant coffee, and a couple other beverages.
They also had a TV complete with YouTube and a variety of streaming services, which helped to create a sort of recreational area where you could relax after a day. For fans of NATGT, there’s even a streamed preview of a new episode early!
The ruling: Overall, the home was very accommodating, if not a little simple. The bedrooms were comfortable, the food was great, and we never really wanted for anything. It wasn’t quite a resort level experience here, but that’s because the home was under construction. As long as you don’t mind the cats, you’ll find yourself comfortable and taken care of.
⅘, dropping to ⅗ if you have an issue with cats.
Activities: To clarify, the Activities section will cover everything we did that wasn’t strictly educational. Technically, the lessons were Activities too, but they will be separated here because they are very different in execution.
One of the coolest things about the Retreat is the almost insane amount of armies they have available for you to play. You could easily come up with a 1500 point list for every army in the game, except for Craftworlds, Harlequins, Tau, and Custodes.
Yes, that REALLY IS a collectors edition codex for almost every army in the game.
You might not be able to do say, 1500 points of White Scars, but you would easily be able to do 1500 points of Space Marines, for example. In addition to the various armies they had available, they had multiple gaming tables and terrain available for use, which made playing a game at any time a total breeze.
As part of the trip, my partner and I got to partake in a series of Narrative games which, although they were a tad silly, were a ton of fun and will stick with me. We also got to film a couple episodes for NATGT, which was an exciting and engaging experience. They produce their episodes with a level of quality similar to television, and it became really obvious during the actual filming.
The highlights of the trip though, was meeting Nick Nanavati and going to the convention celebrating the Warhammer Citadel. He was flown out as an apology from Adam for the home being under construction.
Nick is an incredibly laid back and friendly person, and he imparted some of his knowledge onto me over a few games and lessons. As someone who follows the competitive scene closely, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The convention in Dallas celebrating the soon to be opened Warhammer Citadel was also a blast. We had an excellent chauffeur to take us there and back (if you read this Steve, thank you so much for driving and hanging out with us for that day!), and the event was crowded with hundreds of avid 40k fans.
As if everything we talked about here wasn’t enough, my partner and I also got to spend an entire day touring Austin with Kevin, as I mentioned before. Although it wasn’t originally part of the schedule, the day break at some point is strongly recommended. Austin is a beautiful and lively city with lots of sights to see. The land marks are beautiful, the BBQ was incredible as you might expect, and it really helped round out the trip.
The ruling: The Activities were incredible through and through. There were a few minor details, such as not getting to see or play with some of the NATGT staff as much as I would have liked (but, I know they were working hard to keep the episodes coming, so it’s understandable!), or the armies on hand not being as organized as they could be. Alas, no trip is perfect. But these minor details are completely overshadowed by the amount of fun we had playing games and having a great time.
5/5. I will almost certainly be doing this trip again in a year. The amount of fun you have and things you do practically justify the price tag on its own.
The Lessons: Rounding out the trip were various lessons around the hobby, primarily around painting. Before this trip, my painting skills were severely lacking. It took me a long time to paint a model, and when it was done it wouldn’t even look that good. Words literally do not describe the amount of improvement you receive in this arena.
This is a picture of a Maulerfiend that I painted on my own before the trip. I spent maybe 3, 3 and a half hours on it.
This is a picture of a different Maulerfiend that I painted in ~1 hour. Obviously the photo quality is higher, but the painting quality is also clearly much higher.
If you struggle with painting, the lessons justify the trip all on their own, not counting all the other Activities and Accommodations.
On top of painting lessons, we had a really fun set of lessons from Evgeniya (AKA Eve, Queen of the Necrons from NATGT) on how to take proper photos of miniatures at home without breaking the bank.
The ruling: The lessons were a smaller portion of the trip timewise by a decent margin, but they were no less important. You will literally gain days, maybe weeks, of your life back by cutting down on the amount of time you spend painting. Obviously it depends on how much you own or plan on painting. But for many players, these lessons are invaluable. If you are a experienced painter, you’ll probably get a bit less out of this section.
5/5, going to a ⅘ if you’re a return client or ⅗ if you’re already an expert painter.
Conclusion: Is this trip for every person that plays 40k? No. It’s a week long, and for people who only enjoy it now and then, it may be a bit much. Is the trip cheap? No, as has been noticed and talked about. Could the trip be improved? Yes. Nothing is perfect, and Adam and the rest of the NATGT crew are working on improving it for the next time.
But the most important question is, Do the good parts about the trip overtake these downsides enough to justify going? Absolutely.
Are you going to have fun playing a great game with some of the best people you’ll ever meet? Absolutely.
The trip was one of the best weeks of my life, and I fully plan on going at least once a year. The crew is incredible, the experience is one of a kind, and it provides a great way for a couple to spend a week on vacation. To anyone who enjoys the hobby regularly, I could not recommended the Warhammer Retreat enough. And since this was only the first one, I can only imagine how much more great stuff the Nights gang will put together next time! Give it a shot, make the trip happen one way or another: you won’t be disappointed.