Outfit 418 Meet-Up in Antwerp, Belgium
Starring: Agilulf, DilaShu, GroinlessZombie, Leogolas, M4meify, Miles, Sproglet
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was time for a herd of nerds to leave the basement and meet up in a foreign land, so they could play games on LAN and talk on Teamspeak, while sitting next to each other. As the Lord intended.
As usual it was DilaShu who started the planning process for the Outfit Meet-Up – the fourth one already. Naturally she did this by creating a forum thread with the title „Forum hates me“, because that conveys all the needed information. People came anyway.
There was much debate over where the meet-up would take place… No wait, actually it was just some jokes and then we decided to visit Dila. So Antwerp in Belgium it was. Which is some varity after the Germany double (Cologne and Berlin) and the failed meet-up attempt in Amsterdam.
21. July Morning – Pretty fly for a white guy
First to arrive, last to leave – that's my motto of things i never do. But still: I had the earliest flight out of Munich to Brussels. So at 7.50 in the morning i posted the first picture from the airport on the Slack meet-up channel. Other people still lying in bed gave their drowsy approval.
Flying from Munich to Brussels is actually a rather fast endeavour, probably because of all the sinister germans taking their briefcases full of blood money to the EU. My flight was even offering wobbly on-board WiFi, but before i could get it running we were already on landing approach.
While Captain Rabe („raven“) and First Officer Vogel („bird“) landed safely at Brussels airport, other people started their travels. Miles and Sproglet were preparing to leave Great Britain to come to Belgium, like a reverse Brexit. Meanwhile Zombie was doing Excel sheets at work.
I took the train from Brussels Airport to Antwerp, while Miles was sitting in a train in the english countryside. To compare: I was joined by Belgians telling jokes and a gay couple with 7 children. Miles watched a fight between commuters and got insulted for 20 minutes.
I reached my destination: Somewhere near the Balrog at the deepest level of Antwerp Central station. It is literally called the „Diabolo line“. Dila was already waiting. And after some confusion, because a random old jewish guy was talking to her and that threw me off, we even met.
Now we had to wait for the rest and went for some food. Sadly we had live music: There was some event at the Antwerp cathedral, so the church bells rang for 30 minutes straight. And when that was over, a military marching band tried to show those church bells the real meaning of „loud“.
21. July Afternoon – A trip to Murder Lane
Sproglet was arriving next, so Dila and I went back to Antwerp Central. I posted a picture of the main hall of the „world's fourth greatest train station“ to Slack. Meanwhile Sproglet took a picture of the other side. Of course while Dila and I went to where Sproglet had been, he did the reverse.
It's a stupid trope, so we stopped circling each other and met instead. Because M4meify was already close, the three of us went to Starbucks to wait. Knowing about Starbucks employees and their problems with writing names on cups, it gave them a simple task: „Dan“. They wrote „Daan“.
No rest for the wicked: A marvelous custom Outfit 418 hat was arriving. And some guy wearing it. M4meify still snuck up on us. Now we wondered, if Miles would make it. He had decided to fly to Antwerp airport, a remote cargo destination. „There were four people“, he told us after arriving.
As the five of us were the first batch and the rest was arriving later, we decided to take Miles and M4meify to their hotel to check in early. And that was pretty much necessary, because Miles had booked the Ibis Hotel at the Antwerp Port, an industrial wasteland devoid of all life.
Turns out, as a tourist you don't really go to the port, because there are only containers there. And so there was no bus or any other mode of transportation. We took a 30 minute tram ride and walked another 30 minutes next to a road that had no people, no cars and not even cockroaches on it.
Understandably we went mad in that time and fantasised about the zombie apokalypse. At least, we figured, it's the perfect neighbourhood to hide dead bodies. On the other hand, if some other murderer was chasing you, there was pretty much no escape or help. Welcome to Murder Lane.
21. July Evening – War against the belgian keyboard
On the way back to the city center – which took us 30 minutes longer, because no buses were going – we passed Dilas house. There were still no other people around, so Dila probably killed them all. After walking about an hour, Miles was like „fuck this“ and took taxi rides for the rest of the stay.
Back at the station, the last people arrived: Leogolas came also from Munich and Zombie arrived from Sweden. The herd was complete and we went to a belgian restaurant. The table got a huge pot of meat in brown sludge, i got vegetables. And then we all paid for expensive water we didn't drink.
The night was young, which meant we were gonna spend it playing computer games. Dila had booked seats for us at her favourite gaming café and instructed them to install Planetside. They didn't. But the place had several other cutting-edge games on offer. So we played Team Fortress 2.
Miles, M4meify and Zombie left pretty early, because they had to traverse Murder Lane to get to their hotel. With Dila also gone that left Leogolas, Sproglet and I at the gaming place. Neither of us had played Battlegrounds before and after seeing it advertised, we decided to try it.
Naturally we sucked at it, but we blame the belgian keyboards. For some reason, those have a totally wierd layout with mixed up keys in wrong places. And they switch key layouts at random times. It's rather suprising when your run key turns into your crouch key in the middle of a firefight.
We finally left it at about five kills in five rounds and called it a night. Leogolas went to his hostel, Sproglet and I went to our respective hotels. For some reason, my place was a former monastery that looked like Hogwarts. And had creepy glowing ghost statues in its garden. Because.
22. July Morning – Kart fumes and Randoms
„Morning, not sure what to do“, Miles wrote at 7.30 on Slack. Damn that Britain-Belgium jetlag. It took the others a bit longer to wake up. Dila, Leogolas, Sproglet and I met up at 11, the „industrial group“ didn't even bother to take the trip to the city center. They were gonna meet us later.
The inner city group went to a typical belgian breakfast place: Kelly's Irish Pub. Leogolas ordered an Earl Gray tea and proceeded to put the teabag and the milk in at the same time. Resident Brit Sproglet was jolly miffed about that german malefaction and took evidence photos for the Queen.
But the focus of the day was actually „doing stuff“ - a novelty at 418 meet-ups. Dila had booked a Go Kart race for us and even invited some „Randoms“, those mythicals creatures also known as „normal people“. And she even had trophies made, so we couldn't say no. So we raced.
Some of us had driven Go Karts before. Others, like me, hadn't touched a steering wheel in their entire life. To the great surprise of no one, Zombie won. But Leogolas gave him a run for his money. All i got was too much fumes and a headache. At least i tried it, now i'll never do it again.
22. July Evening – Winning by accident
After that adventure, we left the Go Kart place. We even got to keep our helmet balaclavas. And those are a great asset for the Murder Lane. We went to eat at a turkish place next to a cinema. The whole of Antwerp was hyped for „Valerian“, because it's comic central. We didn't really care.
I went back to my hotel room for an hour to relish my headache. When i reunited with the rest of the group in the gaming café, they were finishing their first game of Munchkin. Sproglet, the de facto game master, won. Nothing to see here. Little did they know, the master had arrived.
I never actually played it, but i figured out the tactic quickly: Keep calm, let the others burn all their good cards and then nonchalantly fuck them over. Zombie had a different idea: He turned it into a RPG, went fully into character as a elf-hating halfling and actually helped me win.
In between we went to the food market. There was a rich choice between german food, bavarian food, thuringian food and… maybe other stuff. We went for a typically belgian meal of indonesian noodles and nachos. Saturday evening ended like friday evening: fully sober at the gaming café.
23. July Morning – 418 is pointing at you
Sunday we decided to do something different: We met to the gaming café. Actually we did shake up things and played Carcassonne for a change. I won. Well, kinda. I teamed up with Dila who was the only one who actually knew the game somewhat, so we just stole everyones points.
On our way to getting food we visited the Games Workshop store. It was closed on sunday, as we could have guessed, but we took pictures. Our actual destination was a belgian waffle place – where we ate Spaghetti. Sproglet was the only one to finish his meal and the hero made the rain stop.
After that we looked for stuff to point at for group pictures. Pointing at a statue of a boy with his bare ass didn't work out. So we pointed at Leogolas in some playground contraption. Lastly we pointed at Jesus on the cross. Not the best idea, but Jesus looked like he was doing pull-ups.
23. July Afternoon – There might be a pattern
Back at the gaming café we started playing Age of Empires 3. As was tradition, it was the first time i played it. And since nobody explained anything, i just built buildings. And two ships. But it didn't matter anyway, because Zombie was on my team, so i won. It was the only match we played.
We went back to board games. And after looking at belgian game boxes, we just played Munchkin again. I won. Sproglet too, by helping me. Zombie played his own game again. He used the game mechanics to happily spend his points to destroy other players items. He finished with a score of -6.
It was our last evening in Antwerp and there was pressure to drink beer. Because Belgium. So we went to a hipster burger place, that served food on wooden slabs, and there was some crazy Trappist brew to be had. Sproglet got his food last, so we all watched a proper british gentleman eating.
The meet-up was nearing its end, because people had early flights on monday morning. We took some last group pictures with a Dark Souls statue – which we didn't point at, because it would have killed us – and then let the evening fade away with some tales of bravery. In RPGs.
The Brits had some of those nasty Euros left so they spent it at the café on fancy Pen & Paper dice. M4meify too, because he lives on an island in the middle of nowhere and apparently delivery drivers are too scared of cave trolls to go there. At the end, nerds hugged each other. Even Sproglet.
24. July – Your flight is delayed, asshole
On Monday, Zombie left his hotel at 5 in the morning, because that sounds nice. The rest of the group had a bit more time before checking out. At 8 Dila was already back at work, while the traveling folk made its way towards the airport. Even the deadly sharp Go Kart trophies got on board.
While waiting for their flights, several people started watching „Doctor Strange“ on Netflix for some reason. I couldn't think of a better way to see those crazy special effects and Dormammu in the Dark Dimension than a 5 inch smartphone display. But hey, free airport WiFi.
As i was the last one to leave on a flight late in the evening, i spent the remaining time in Antwerp. After everyone else was already at home or sitting in their plane, i finally arrived at Brussels airport. And what do you know: My flight was delayed for an hour. More quality time at the airport, yay.
There was actually an airport worker doing surveys and since i had nothing better to do, i answered his questions: „Do you like being at airports?“ - „Fuck no.“ - „Would you recommend Brussels airport to friends?“ - „Why would i recommend an airport? It's the worst part of every vacation.“
But with a lot of delay i finally boarded my plane home. On Slack people were already discussing the next meet-up. Leogolas even looked for gaming cafés in Munich, to bring everyone there. But there's still time. Antwerp was a great experience, hopefully we will have more of those.
Full pictures are here and some only on Slack.