So we headed down to the hallowed sweltering halls of the Balau Sector, scene of years of strife and furious dice rolling and serious hobbying. From the pre-40k days of Napoleonic and WW2 wargaming (back when the place was called the IX Coalition), to the heady days of 40k 3rd, 3.5, 4th ed and the first Apoc books (during which we didn't play a non-Apoc game for a whole year).
At the height of Balau Sector, between 2000 to 2007, it was common to see 3-4, sometimes 5 tables with 40k action going on. Balau regulars regularly terrorized tourneys with nicely painted but fearsome armies and it was a pretty fun time. Regulars would get into "training" to prepare for tournaments - complete with a fully-painted "aggressor" army to fight against.
Campaigns, megabattles (sort of a pre-Apoc Apoc) and Apoc battles were a staple, and some of the best campaigns I've ever participated in was played there. Check out Kai's campaign on this ol' skool site.
But time passes, things change, people grow and move towns/countries and gradually the Balau Sector went into decline, as all empires do.
Revisiting Balau Sector was full of nostalgic fun, and a little sadness. We could scrounge up 2 complete tables, with most of the other tables in disrepair. There was a shortage of scatter terrain and gone were the shelves and shelves of model armies.
But there was still a bit of the wild fun atmosphere of unbridled wargaming excesses of the original Balau Sector vibe in the air. And with a series of loud whoops and laughter, and tons of thematic digging and teasing and ribbing, we actually had a quick game in which the Thousand Sons won decisively against a Tyranid horde, successfully rolling up the flank and breaking the bug army apart.
It was very late night/early morning by the time we realized we were really sleepy and needed to crash - just like the gool old days of Balau. But we all agreed that there will definitely be occassional game nights in the future at the Balau Sector.
Rolling dice rocks!