About two weeks ago, Salient received a tip-off about a new club that has started up around University, called the Extreme Power Metal Methylated Warhammer Club. Using the internet, we managed to track the club to the basement of an Upland Road flat, where a number of male students in their late teens and early twenties meet several times a week at lunchtimes, to play the dice-based table-top wargame called Warhammer, which uses armies of painted plastic figurines modelled to resemble goblins, skeletons, aliens and space soldiers. While there are many such clubs around the world, what is unique about this one is that the members only ever play the game while listening to Extreme Power Metal bands (such as Power Quest and Dragon Force), and smoking crystal meth, or ‘P’.
Last Wednesday I was able to get myself invited to one of the club’s gatherings. As I descended the stairs to their basement, the first thing I noticed was the glisteningly shiny and wholesome twin-guitar shredding of the power metal, accompanied by falsetto vocals which appeared to be singing about slaying orcs and saving princesses.
I then picked up the scent of freshly smoked methamphetamine, and emerged upon a dark and smoky room. In the centre of this room was a large table, strewn with miniature barbed wire and toy flames made out of cotton wool. Facing across the table were two miniature armies, one of soldier-men with bulky red armour and guns, the other of grotesque creatures which resembled H.R. Giger’s Alien design and were painted mustard brown with purple spots.
Around the table stood the club members. I introduced myself to a tall, pale young man with closely cropped ginger curls.
Salient: Hi, I’m from Salient. This is a really interesting set-up you have here. War-gamer: We are the chosen ones we cannot fail now,We are riding for the battlefield in force tonight, Fury of the darkest evil cry for war.
Salient: Right, so, how is the game going?
War-gamer: On wings of glory we will carry on,
Far across forgotten lands towards the distant sun,
With the power of the universe we stand strong together.
It should be noted that, when I asked the club if they could try and answer my questions without using pretentious nonce lyrics, they gibbered and shook. Fortunately, one club member arrived late, and I was able to ask him a few things before he lit up his meth pipe.
Salient: So, why the combination of Extreme Power Metal and Warhammer?
War-gamer: Warhammer um, well it’s like a good game and yeah, but it’s only with the POWER METAL YEAH [interview subject pumps his fist in the air] that we ah, it’s the metal that brings all the figurines to life, like makes them really war on each other.
Salient: And what about the crystal meth?War-gamer: Well, well that brings us into the game, the meth um, connects us to the action like it pumps us up for the KILL YEAH [subject pumps his fist in the air, again].
Salient: But how can you afford all this? Those plastic figures cost like $5 each, and crystal meth is pretty steep.
War-gamer: Oh, yeah but our dads, well Richard’s is in a big commercial law firm and mine is a back-bench MP in one of the, oh actually you don’t need to print that. Basically they don’t really mind what we do with their credit cards huh, and Sam’s mum does accounts for a dealer so that helps out with the meth.
Salient: Sure, just one more thing – doesn’t P ever make you guys angry, I mean do any fights break out over the game?
War-gamer: Oh yeah, well once when Richard failed all the mega armour saves on his warboss and retinue of nobs he went mad and punched Tim’s glasses in and tried to beat him. But now we have this sort of like time-out room, which is covered in Luis Royo posters where we have to go and jack-off whenever we get tense just so as we all stay friends. Yeah, okay I gotta smoke now fuck off.
Despite his apparent disdain, the war-gamer continued to talk with me over a bowl of meth. He told me that the club’s passion for mythological metal-powered games and hard drugs is not restricted to dark basements.
The group intends to take a break from their campaign-battle for control of the “planet Xeon” in late May, to go and see Dragon Force play at the Powerstation in Auckland.