Wednesday, March 4, 2015

According to the Internets, Football is NOT Competitive and Balanced!

So, bit of a bugbear lately for me has been a rise again of the internet complaining about Warhammer 40,000 from a competitive point of view. As a result, this article ends up being kinda rambling ... but such is the way of blogs!

The articles and comments that got me going MOST in this direction have lately been on Bell of Lost Souls, but that's not a knock on BOLS ... just a knock on some of the comments / direction of the comments there.

Here's my $.02

Warhammer 40,000 is not a well-balanced Tabletop Wargame. This is VERY true from an "Internal" Balance perspective. It is somewhat less true from an "External" Balance perspective.

 - Sidebar: Internal, to my way of saying it here, refers to balance between the attractiveness competitively of the different units within a codex. As long as there are Pyrovores, there won't be that much Internal balance. There are NO codices out there that do not have subpar units in them which few people ever take.
 - Sidebar Part 2: External, to my way of saying it here, refers to balance between the attractiveness competitively of the different codices/factions within the game. With some glaring exceptions, the game is actually pretty well balanced right now from a Faction perspective, in terms of each Faction having builds that can be put together (especially with the use of other factions through allies) that *can* compete to win a national-level GT like NOVA, AdeptiCon, or the Las Vegas Open.

What bothers me is not the argument that the game is not Balanced. What bothers me is the large number of people who are arguing that the game is not COMPETITIVE, with Balance being their basis.

There has, for years, existed the popular cause argument that you can only do well at Warhammer 40,000 if you chase the meta; if you build the netlist; if you play what's currently the most "broken" or "powerful" army or faction or build(s). This has, for years, been broadly false.

Just recently, at the Las Vegas Open, Sean Nayden and Nick Rose took first and second, playing each other in the final round, with a Tyranid army loaded with Lictors and even spore mines ... and a Scout spamming army. There should be nothing surprising about this. Why? Because Sean Nayden and Nick Rose did well. These guys have been doing well at tournaments they attend for at least the past 6 years, through numerous editions and codices and "reigning" netlists. Each has been responsible for Net Lists even being a thing in the first place. For example, Leafblower Imperial Guard armies did not win very many GTs. Nick Rose, however, won Ard Boyz and BOLS blog posted his Leafblower success to enormous popularity, and a lot of people copied it (or were running something similar to begin with). Sean Nayden popularized Beast Pack Eldar (very quietly, mind you) and is now popularizing Lictors with Tyranids. Sean almost never posts much of anything anywhere, so people don't even realize he's the one popularizing it. To the point one commenter at BOLS argued that Sean was just copying a guy who won the 11th Company GT a few months ago with Lictors. Commenter didn't realize that guy was also Sean.

If you look at the players who routinely place at the top of nearly every GT, the same names do well everywhere they go. You will almost never see anyone in the "top tier," if you want to call it that, doing poorly. You will also almost never see that tier only winning with the current supposed netlist.

Since at least 4th Edition (when I started playing tournaments locally with regularity), I've never seen a time when the "meta" or the game's inherent imbalances prevented top tier players from doing well at tournaments with a wide variety of lists, inclusive of ones considered to be not good.

At the same time, since at least 4th Edition, I've never seen a time when the "meta" or the game's inherent imbalances didn't dominate the middle and lower tier of players. This brings up perhaps the issue at hand.

No matter how unpopular it might be to say, most people are NOT top tier brilliant tacticians capable of manipulating and understanding the rules and nuances of the game enough to win with the movement phase, mission, above-table "games," and the like. MOST people are not capable of applying tactical decision-making too far beyond target priority and basic mission understanding within the confines of a pressured tournament game. As a result, the greater a game's imbalances, the greater these imbalances take over as the level of play reduces.

Let's use a visual aid here:

The laundry list of players who've done well and/or won GTs with lists considered "not good" in times when everyone complained about how you had to shell out for the current netlist to win ... is extremely long. You will, however, also find a very long list of players who show up to a GT with the current netlist, lose a few games to those types, and crush their skill peers or inferiors throughout the mid-tables. Again - balance matters more as player skill reduces. That is a flaw in the game, for sure. It is not the same as the game being non-competitive. In fact, the better you apply your intellect and really, truly compete within the framework of the game rules, the better you'll do and the less balance will matter.

The long and short here is: stop conflating balance with competition. Also, stop conflating game mechanics with competition. I have a very close friend who by his own report is VERY, VERY competitive. That said, he really does not like the way the game of 40k is played from a "combat feel" and rules perspective, so he's not able to enjoy himself playing competitively within 40k. His resultant decision? He doesn't play 40k really anymore! Totally reasonable, self-respecting, grown-up response. What does he not do? Rip on people for "not playing the game how it's supposed to be played" as if his own idea of how a game should be played is somehow more valuable than other peoples'. AKA, he's not a douche.

On that note, let's talk about the subject line of this article. Aside from conflating "balance" or "mechanics I don't like" with "competitiveness," the common complaint people make REGARDING balance is that in order to win you have to spam certain units in certain slots for each Codex.

Yes, internal codex balance is lacking in 40k. That said, results from tournaments show a greater level of parity across a greater number of factions and faction combos than has been the case in years. Those who are addicted to angrily raging about the balance of the game thus are left with only the leg to stand on of "well, yeah but you have to spam key units!"

First of all, so what? Again, as above, if you can play with the Faction you own and do well, when maybe you couldn't in 5th edition, why not enjoy that a little bit and work on your game skill instead of complaining about some other thing you can find wrong? Regardless, let's draw some comparisons here.

"I want to field an army that reflects my impression of an Ultramarines combat deployment, and my idea is - regardless of whether there are other fluff and story examples which contradict this idea, and regardless of whether I could simply model on top of my unit choices however I like - that this is explicitly 1 assault squad, 2 tactical squads, a small terminator squad, a whirlwind, a vindicator, and a land raider! I'm upset that the game won't let me do well with this!"

Hmm, alright. That is unfortunate! Is it all that unusual for competitive situations? Let's take a look at professional football. If you go back 30 years, the rules and competitive setting of the NFL made power running games FAR MORE POWERFUL than they are today. In today's NFL, power running attacks will only take you so far in most cases (though some teams manage to get more mileage out of them than others by leveraging other creative components of their roster or redefining things by countering the prevalent meta ... sounds Seanick Naydenroseish to me, but I digress). The "dominant" meta in the game today is an elite quarterback-driven passing attack combined with constantly increasing emphasis on elite cornerback play. Does anyone really believe the Seahawks would have made back to back super bowls without elite cornerbacks to shut down passing attacks and incredibly clutch improvisational play from their Quarterback (even despite Lynch)?

What if there was a coach in the NFL who really yearned for the old days and he wanted to win by having a game managing quarterback, like a Trent Dilfer or something, a super power running back, like a John Riggins, and a run stuffing defense. What if that guy then complained about how the rules of the game aren't fair and don't allow his way of playing to work how it "should." Think most people would be agreeing with him and saying "shucks, you know what, that guy right there, he sure is gettin' screwed by the game's rules and the fact it ain't balanced anymore for running backs! Anyone who calls the modern NFL competitive and balanced is just a WAAC idiot chasing the meta!"

We could extrapolate this for days, of course, and there are a million examples. How come the rules of Football don't allow you to field a team comprised entirely of big ole linemen? I think it'd be SO COOL if there was a team where the ENTIRE OFFENSE was over 300 pounds each! That would just look so baller on the field! I wish Football weren't so imbalanced.

Truth of the matter is, the biggest problem is 40k lets you take just about whatever you want. Because of this, you get the age old problem of the entitled individual. This is the person that believes because he is FREE to do as he wishes, whatever he CHOOSES to do should be rewarded and lauded as fantastic. I'll empathize with ANYONE that their preference isn't as good as they wish it was. I'll empathize with NO ONE that complains about their free choices not panning out and blames it on those who gave them the choice in the first place.

Is 40k as balanced as it could be? Nope. Are all the units in the game given the rules they deserve to allow a perfectly diverse field of play? Nope. Does this make the game noncompetitive and render those who play it competitively into WAAC douches? ALSO NOPE.

Let people play how they want and live with the consequences of the playing choices you make.

What's doubly cool, because I have to plug of course, is most tournaments will reward you for WHATEVER choice you make. At NOVA, you can play in Highlander quickening events and enjoy truly diverse army lists. Or, you can play in the GT and find your way to brackets that embrace a more casual atmosphere. Or, you can play in the Narrative where we've built Codex Supplements for you that greatly enhance the # and variety of powerful units, explicitly targeting the poor Pyrovores of the game. Make the game what you want it to be for you, play the game the way you enjoy, but - really - stop attacking people who don't do it just the same way as you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DC Area EDIT AND MORE! Spring/Summer Charity 40K League; Summer Charity BBQ

*EDIT* Looks like there's very real potential for more than just the DC area. Matt Cerino, who runs the awesome Stomping Grounds store in PA, is on board to drum up interest and co-run things by hosting some PA and/or potentially NJ divisions of players, with play among them in that region during the regular season and spots in the finals.

Well, it's getting to be that time again!

First off, looks like we're starting to ramp up for a DC Area 40K League. This will probably use a combination of NOVA Open and ETC missions due to the timing, along with NOVA army construction rules (Which I suspect will be very similar to ETC ones).

Anticipate we'll establish divisions based in part upon geography. Also, if enough people show interest outside of the DC area (e.g., some of the groups like Stomping Grounds), I have no problem adding "Distance" divisions. We'll host an 8 or 16-player final depending on the size of the league.

League timeframes are likely to be April, May, June, with the Playoffs/Finals occurring either in late June or early July. # of games and length of league will also connect somewhat to the # of players.

It is highly likely this will be a Charity League, with registration fees being both minor and going to the NOVA Open Charitable Foundation, probably directed toward the Breast Cancerl Research Foundation. We would use the NOCF in order to ensure the maximum value of funds goes to the charity, vice being lost to taxes and other snafus (there are more than you would imagine!).

Additionally, though we missed it last year, we're going to run another Charity Summer BBQ Tournament. This harkens back to the founding days of the NOVA Open back in 2009, where we started playing on picnic tables with 32 folks from around the DC area. We ran one again in 2013 with attendees coming from as far away as Connecticut. Look for a return to the outdoor charity BBQ sometime in late June / early July of this year.

If you're interested in participating in either the league or tournament, please e-mail me with said interest at as we start to gauge it correctly.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

East Coast Takes Las Vegas ... Gauntlet Down for the Westies to Take NOVA

Congrats go out to East Coast regular Sean Nayden for taking the Las Vegas Open with his Lictor heavy Nid list.

Congrats also go out to Nick Nanavati for a really class act move during the Finals.

Last but not least (in fact, 2nd of 256), congrats go out to Nick Rose for kicking butt with - like Sean - a very unorthodox list that largely ignored the options available with Forge World and Super Heavies / Gargantuans.

Last year, several of the Frontline Gaming guys joined the regular West Coast attendees in kicking butt and threatening the top table regions of NOVA, all of them finishing in top brackets. Can they take the next step this year?

Friday, February 20, 2015

East vs. West 2015 - Round 1!

I just wanted to send a good natured good luck to all the East Coast folks I know traveling out to the Las Vegas Open for this weekend's 40K GT.

Along with the NOVA and AdeptiCon, LVO completes the trifecta of the three truly "massive" 40K GTs held in the United States. This isn't to fail with acknowledging nearly-as-large events like DaBoyz and more, but these three probably get the most "press" on a regular basis.

Lately, there's been a lot of back and forth (in a fun way!) about the East Coast vs. the West Coast in terms of where the best 40K players are secreting themselves away, and a lot of Easties went out West this year.

We're hoping to see a lot of the West travel back across for the similar format of the 40K GT at NOVA (2 detachment, w/l/d centric, etc.), a push that was spearheaded by the LVO's own Reece Robbins, Frankie Giampapa, and Geoff Robinson last year, among many others.

Good luck to all this weekend, and may the best coast win! :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

40K GT Ruling Finalization - Plus

Registration went ... really, really well yesterday. It's still ongoing today, of course, and over the next 7 months leading to NOVA. But we sold more yesterday in 4 hours than we did in all of February 2014. Lots of things are selling out, folks. SuperNOVA bags sold out - all 100 of them - in exactly 51 minutes.

For the 40K GT ...

Forgeworld ...

... is legal, but all Forgeworld units, items, etc., carry a 0-1 restriction. This applies at the unit, item, etc. level. If you find a way to apply Forgeworld rules or items or anything else to a non-Forgeworld unit, that unit is considered Forgeworld for purposes of the 0-1 restrictions.

This will become more refined as we go forward, to prevent loopholes. More importantly, we will be spending the next month assessing major problem units and, where necessary, excluding them from the GT.

The rationale here is three-fold. There's still a lot of evidence (and we'll be watching other FW-inclusive events like LVO, especially since a lot of hardcore list-crackers from the East Coast are attending this year) there are some major problem FW units. Still, there are major problem units throughout the game. There's a lot of evidence the game gets more complex and difficult to prepare for if you add FW ... but GW is adding more complex and multi-source rules to the game nearly every week as it is.

Either way, we'll keep special note of rules as they release and rules at present and curtail *major* problems as/if needed. This won't be a rolling process right up to the start of Round 1. We plan to finalize any restrictions by March 1, alongside the release of a fully updated FAQ and Mission Pack. Anything thereafter will be focused on new release rules.

Lords of War ...

... are legal if they are not a Super Heavy or Gargantuan Creature. Yup. The feedback wasn't very positive even about Knights last year, but in the events we allowed them (mostly casual to boot) they were aggressively shot down as being undesirable, to the point the Narrative's been considering either no Super/Gargs or a very restrictive list of them. We'll be keeping them out of the GT for this year. That said, Codex/non-SuperHeavy/Gargantuan Lords of War will be legal without issue (i.e. Logan). ALSO, KNIGHTS WILL REMAIN LEGAL.

Army Construction ...

... will simply be restricted to no more than 2 Detachments. Some Formations/Detachments *could* in theory be restricted, evaluated by March 1 (and ongoing for new ones) in the same fashion as Forgeworld above. Adamantine Lance is in the crosshairs right now, and we're taking time to playtest and look at the Decurion Detachment.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

NOVA Open 2015 Registration Open at 9:30AM This Morning, US EST Time, February 1!

You won't be able to register/login until registration opens.

Good luck tryin' to get your SuperNOVA bags in time!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Army Construction Narrowing - 40K GT Army Rules; Also, Registration Opens February 1 @ 9:30AM Eastern and things will sell out REALLY FAST (especially Massive Voodoo Classes and SuperNOVA bags)

So we're getting close to finalizing what we want to do for the 40K GT this year.

This has been a LONG process, with a great deal of input. I think it's possible some minor things will change as we get closer. It's also possible we'll get a bunch more input in the next few days. We'll release the final rules the day before registration opens (Reg opens this coming Sunday at 9:30AM US EST Time).

Here's where we're at presently:

On the question of detachments -
Battle-Forged Rules using 2 Detachments, with no caveats or further restrictions

On the question of Forge World - 
All Forge World units legal, but all are considered Unique / 0-1*
* - We might develop a very small ban list for some FW units if we go this route, TBD

On the question of Lords of War / Super Heavies / Gargantuans - 
Lord of War Superheavies/Gargantuans ... we're leaning toward keeping them OUT. They were almost universally panned by last year's attendees in the events they were allowed in. This included very large samples of more casual attendees. Adding more big, expensive models to the game when more casual players are opposed to them / did not enjoy playing against them seems like a bone to more competitive-minded players who are going to play top tier lists in almost any meta alignment. We did not receive a great deal of positive support for allowing Superheavies/Gargantuans beyond Codex: Knights.

Non-superheavy/gargantuan Lords of War ... definitely will be allowed.

Knights - We are strongly leaning toward BANNING the Adamantine Lance, but otherwise allowing Knights, inclusive of FW Knights subbing into the Knight Detachment per their rules (they'd still be "Unique" and follow the restriction above when trying to use them as Lords of War). The reason for banning Adamantine Lance is similar to the Lords of War question. There's a TON of visceral evidence from Torrent of Fire, NOVA itself, and more that shows AdLance players doing no better or worse for having it at the top tier, but running over players throughout the mid and low tiers of tournament attendees. MOST attendees are not hyper competitive, most are there to have a great time and do their best. AdLance lists are winning between 65-75% of their games, with most of the losses coming in the top tiers. This isn't a trend we see a great deal of momentum to support.

Further feedback is welcome really to the "buzzer" as we're continuing to refine, discuss, and then correctly phrase these things prior to the opening of registration this weekend.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wild Ideas - Tweaking D and Stomp

So, this is something we're NOT seriously considering yet, but I'd love to hear feedback as always, as it popped into my head.

What if, instead of banning or allowing lords of war through the creation of an exhaustive and potentially difficult-to-maintain or confusing-for-players list, we instead took a page from the Narrative in 2014 and tweaked certain D results and (optionally) stomps?

These would be two separate questions:

1) Adding a rule that simply prevents weapons with a hellstorm template or blast larger than 5" from reducing a cover or invulnerable save to worse than 5+

2) Adding a rule that allows models affected by a "6" on the Stomp Table to make an invulnerable save if they have one, at no better than 5+

I don't know that #2 is really necessary ... though Stomp certainly has its opponents (especially the large blast stomps of the Tranny C'Tan). The tweak to the Hellstorm Template and D-track of the C'Tan would still make him fairly preeminent at dissolving magic-powered deathstars, but might substantially reduce his ability to willy nilly remove entire squads of regular joes and other things.

Food for thought.

This is in contrast to a ban-list of certain Lords of War and/or Lords of War weaponry, should they be permitted in the Open.

Keep in mind these things are still being discussed and finalized, and you should offer your input freely, but without fretting that you need to bombastically prevent (or force) adoption of a rule that is not a rule yet (or really more than a pondering).

Edit - note, this would not be crafted, if ever done, in a fashion that would allow people to combo shrouding and/or stealth on top of the reduced save to kick it back up.

Monday, December 29, 2014

40K Player Feedback Wanted - NOVA Open Army Construction Rules for 2015

Questions for the 40K prospective attendee:

1) Should we allow Forgeworld in some capacity, given the variety of things now in the game anyway via all the datasheets/formations/white dwarves/etc.?

2) Would you like to see the detachment rules change from "max of one CAD" to simply "2 detachments" as the limit, in light of the fact many of the factions can now 'effectively' get 2 Combined Arms Detachments via their Codex-specific detachments anyway?

3) How do people feel right now about lords of war? They were widely reviled by casual players in our post-event survey. Should we allow a limited LOW list? Should we ban adlance or ban superheavies altogether while allowing Lords of War that are not superheavies/gargantuans?

Feedback is always welcome at NOVA, and we typically perform post-event and sometimes pre-registration surveys. We're contemplating a survey in January prior to registration opening.

Happy Holidays,
- Mike

Friday, December 19, 2014

NOVA 2015 at an Early Glance
2015 sees the 6th Annual NOVA Open in Washington, DC.

Held in Crystal City, next to Washington Reagan National Airport and on the DC Metro Rail, the NOVA Open consists of four fantastic days of gaming, shopping, seminars, and miniature figure art at one of the United States' largest tabletop wargaming conventions.

What began as a large pair of 40K and Fantasy tournaments in 2010 has blossomed into a diverse, genre-wide event with an increasing emphasis on charity, hobby, fun, and fair play with international attendance across numerous organized play and hobby-centric event formats and offerings.

Registration opens on February 1, and our newsletter (chock full of information!) goes out on the 1st and 15th of every month. If you'd like to receive the most up-to-date information on the NOVA Open, sign up for the newsletter by e-mailing

Here's the early [sorta] quick and dirty on an event by event basis ... keep in mind this is by no means comprehensive:
*Please note - as of 12/17, our Website is under revision to update in preparation for 2015. Most information on the site includes primers, info, schedules, etc., from the 2014 event. This can be useful in planning your 2015 slate of activities, but should not be considered final or indicative of precisely how 2015 will occur.

The NOVA Open 2014 hosted 33 distinct seminars, with more slated for 2015 and beginning on Thursday of the convention (9/3). These range from free "lounge talks" hosted in the Charitable Foundation's Bar & Lounge to designer/developer talks (i.e., Justin Gibbs of Wyrd Miniatures, who designed Malifaux ... or Gutier Losquinos of Corvus Belli) to art/hobby lectures and instructional seminars. We are proud to note that 2014's highly acclaimed instructors will be back, such as Justin McCoy of Secret Weapon Miniatures and Caleb Wissenback. We are also extremely excited to be joined in 2015 by Roman Lappat and Raffaele Picca of Massive Voodoo, who will teach a large # of seminars over the course of the weekend.

Warhammer 40,000
The NOVA Open, over the years, has been an influential and high-profile event in terms of its impact on the tournament world of Warhammer 40,000. This stems from a desire, year after year, to apply reasoned modifications to our formats in order to present the most fun, fair opportunities possible for attendees of all interest and skill levels to find their fit within a combined attendance of nearly 300 40K players. The highlight of our 40K offerings is our 256-slot Grand Tournament, held over 8 rounds (with free option to drop after 6 built into both the format and schedule) from Friday through Sunday. This 1850-point tournament innovatively combines several "styles" of 40K event (Win-Loss, Battle Point, and Overall / "Classic" GT Soft Score Heavy) in parallel tracks within the one large tournament to allow players of all skill and style to fairly compete for awards, recognition, and fun [b]deep[/b] into the tournament, rather than just until their first loss or if they failed to accrue large enough victories. Players are even bracketed out into sub-brackets composed of their competitive peers after Round 4, locking players into peer-levels who've experienced a similar beginning to the tournament experience in pursuit of facing similar list styles, playstyles, and attitudes.

While the GT was originally our "big" 40K event, it is now rivaled by something altogether unique within the 40K Organized Event world - the Narrative. Most places you go, Narratives consist of hackneyed storyboards of "one more forgeworld or hive city" that secretly harbors an artefact of incredible significance to every race, while conveniently being right in the path of the nearest handy Hive Fleet, all happening above a newly-awakening Necron tomb complex, and ... for good measure ... right in the path of the next big Tau expansion. Proudly entering its fourth consecutive year, the NOVA Narrative takes a different approach. Players partciipate in one of two event tracks - Warlords and Nightfighters - to leverage the game of Warhammer 40K toward driving and telling the story of the NOVA Open's own unique sci-fi universe. Centered around culture-shattering conflicts between nascently space-faring Humanity and the questionably benevolent, star-spanning Virtue, players representatively participate as one of these two factions through the use of their favorite Warhammer 40,000 forces. No common fan-fiction here, the Narrative's creative team spend every year crafting intricate details and developing spine-chillingly epic briefings and story primers to draw participants into this world - a world of their own creation. You've never seen a collection of over 60 gamers go so completely silent as when Commander Beste is artfully providing his nightly introductory briefings and projected high-detail presentations on the current and future status of this ongoing conflict. Functionally, the Narrative provides two tracks leveraging more relaxed and diverse gameplay (complete with Heresy Era armies being legal, and everything Forgeworld has to offer). The Warlords track includes strategic planning sessions where participants directly impact the larger nighttime gaming events (who plays where, environmental effects, strategic and tactical injects, the works!), as well as additional games. Warlords players participate in 7 games stretched from Thursday evening through Sunday. Nightfighters, on the other hand, are players who wish to enjoy the Narrative while also participating in some of the NOVA Open's other day-long activities (such as other game systems or the 40K GT). Nightfighter games occur at carefully-scheduled times on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, providing a laid back opportunity to get that extra gaming fix while helping drive and get deeply involved in something you truly own yourselves. The names of past famous and infamous (two titles you can actively seek that have very little to do with simply winning or losing games) players adorn even the little details of our narrative terrain (terrain which includes a fully-lit 6 foot tall replica of the Washington Monument ... wouldn't be a DC convention without such things!).

The NOVA Open also sees the fifth consecutive year of its Trios Team Tournament, a unique Team event happening on Thursday of the con where 3-player teams face other 3-player teams in pairs of 2v2 and 1v1 games. Each player gets the opportunity to play a 1v1 game and 2 x 2v2 games over the course of the day in very relaxed fashion with longer round times. It's a great way to kick off the con, and is a true legacy event for NOVA ... usually with smaller, more intimate attendance and a more laid-back feel.

New this year for 40K, we're adding a series of events that you sign up for at the con called Highlander: Quickenings. These events are 8-player, 3-round "sign-up and go" events that begin at predetermined, scheduled times so long as 8 players have signed up. They're more relaxed in terms of model representation to enable easier prep for traveling attendees, and follow the NOVA Open's version of the Highlander rules, keying around the concept that there can "Be Only One" (of any unit type!). These harken back to another time in 40K, before battle brothers and the craziest of spam. Coincident with Sunday's opt-out day for the GT (you need only participate in the Final 2 rounds of the GT if you are still competing to win your personal bracket; nothing prevents all players from finishing Rounds 7-8, but it's not mandatory if folks want to see the city or shop or try other games), we're also adding a pre-registration-enabled event called The Gathering (fitting, right?). The Gathering will be a larger-slot Highlander event at an affordable rate with laid back feel, simplified missions, and straightforward presentation.

It's going to be the biggest, most epic year yet to play Warhammer 40K at NOVA. We're also exploring concepts for a Heresy Era event (event lead wanted!).

Warhammer Fantasy
This year will see the 6th consecutive Warhammer Fantasy GT at the NOVA Open. The past two years have both sold out at 64 players, with substantial potential to grow in 2015. The 2013 event encountered a few bumps and bruises along the way, leading to a dramatic revitalization under strengthened leadership in 2014. Organizer Steve Gant is returning to bring it back even better! The Fantasy GT occurs on Saturday and Sunday of the con, and is supplemented by a Friday event with a more laid back tone and flavor. 2014 consisted of a Doubles Tournament, though we're discussing everything from smaller games to End Times focused gaming to Narrative play for Friday at present. More info on this to come!

Malifaux was present at the NOVA Open in 2011, but vanished from our radar for a couple of years as the game went through its development into M2E. Heralded by many as one of the most aesthetically memorable, yet competitively balanced games on the market today, M2E gamers quickly recognize that many of the "competitive vs. casual" intonations that are so divisive within some TT wargaming communities simply vanish when playing Malifaux - everyone is casual, and everyone is competitive, and everyone can be both while playing exactly what they want to play! Malifaux returned to the NOVA Open in 2014 in a big way, with world-class terrain co-designed using the input of the game's designers and even direct attendance and participation from those designers - Justin Gibbs and Mack Martin, lead developers of Malifaux, spent their 2014 Labor Day with us at the NOVA Open.

Wyrd is back in a very big way for 2015, so big in fact that it's a first for them! The First Wyrd Malifaux National Championships for North America are being hosted at the NOVA Open in 2015, in part due to its timing within the calendar year relative to many other events that are now qualifiers. Don't hesitate at the word "Qualifier," however - the National Championship is an open registration event, and all are welcome, with space for up to 3-figures' worth of Malifaux gamers. This event is being hosted and sponsored directly by Wyrd with NOVA support, and the prizes and recognition are off the hook! Simultaneously, we'll be hosting a number of other Malifaux events all weekend long, including a participation-focused Achievement League, an in-depth Story event, Hardcore and Enforcer mode rapid fire events, and more! Some of Malifaux's best Henchmen will be in attendance and support, including Crissy of A Wyrd Place and "The Ma(h)(t)ts," Matt Stanley and Maht Crestborn, who are the official leads for Malifaux events at NOVA. To make everything *just* right, Justin Gibbs - design lead for Malifaux - will once again attend, taking a larger role in coordinating, organizing, and ensuring events run precisely as they should in representing Wyrd for their first National Championship. Can you tell we're excited?

WM/H events at NOVA have been growing year after year, and they absolutely exploded in 2014. Nearly 100 WM/H players showed up from all over the country, and we had sell-out organized play rolling from the very beginning of the con on. This year, the NOVA is set to once again be a Warmachine Weekend Qualifier, and is also an official Iron Gauntlet event. Space is limited (to a point, we're still able to field over a hundred WM/H gamers quite easily!), and last year many locals assumed they'd have space only to not quite find it when they showed up the day of! The schedule will once again be chock full of organized play, iron arena, and more. Don't miss this! Along with TempleCon, the NOVA has risen to be one of Warmachine's premier events on the East Coast.

X-Wing showed up at NOVA for the first time in 2014, and promptly sold out. Sold out so dramatically, in fact, that we twice increased our event size at the con in order to allow more players in (thank goodness for planning ahead on board prep and a game that doesn't require much in the way of terrain!). Roy Scales and Kris S., who run the very popular X-Wing website, A Few Maneuvers, are excitedly planning on hosting over 100 X-Wing attendees in 2015. Furthermore, they've added a new Narrative track of events modeled after the wildly successful NOVA 40K Narrative, with players able to make their mark on a slightly alternate Star Wars Universe through annual player driving of the story. I even hear tell of design work begun on an 11 foot replica scale (to the "big ships") star destroyer around which many epic starfighter battles are to take place ...

Charitable Foundation
The precursor to the NOVA Open was a small outdoor 40K tournament held on picnic tables in August, 2009. The first NOVA Open wasn't held until a year later, but this original event was spawned purely from a desire by the organizers to raise funds in support of the fight against Breast Cancer. Today, the NOVA Open partners with a sister organization - the NOVA Open Charitable Foundation, a formal 501(c)(3), to leverage the global community of gamers as a compassionate force to raise funds, awareness, and support for critical causes worldwide. Though we support many worthy charities, our efforts focus on Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontiers), the Fisher House Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Last year, the Foundation more than doubled its inaugural 2013 campaign by raising nearly $20,000 for charity! The highlight of these efforts are studio-caliber armies painted by a global consortium of figure artists, led by Foundation Board Member Dave Taylor. These armies are designed by top tier innovators and competitors from within their game systems, painted by world class artists, boxed in limited edition KR MultiCases, based on custom Secret Weapon Miniatures bases, and shipped to raffle winners anywhere on Earth (we've shipped armies to Tasmania!). Raffle tickets go up for sale in early 2015 for a wide variety of offerings, and are only $1/each. The NOCF proudly contributes more than $.96 on the directly to the charities it supports, with any excess purely being spent on administrative expense and web hosting fees (no member of the foundation or NOVA Open, LLC collects a salary or compensation of any kind for anything the NOVA Open does). Both the LLC and NOCF are entirely volunteer organizations, inclusive of gamers and non-gamers ranging from senior military officers and career professionals to stay-at-home moms and college students.

Foundation Lounge
The NOVA Open's organizers may or may not admit to really enjoying a good beer with their gaming pretzels. Or a good glass of wine. Or a good cocktail. Or a good glass of scotch. Or simply a good can of soda/pop/cola. Well, heck with it, we openly admit these things. So it stands to reason why we have the Foundation Lounge. Every year, the NOVA Open rents out premier Hyatt Regency suites and converts them into an incredibly epic Bar and Lounge, with everything from coffee and donuts in the morning to bloody mary and mimosa offerings in the ... well ... the morning ... to craft beers and cocktails (and non-alcoholic offerings) throughout the day (all the way until 1:30AM VA last call!). This non-profit event occurs thanks to a VA license for the Foundation ... granted because the Foundation Lounge's revenues are entirely donated to charity (the same charities supported by the Foundation's army raffles and other activities)! Not only is all the booze you buy in support of good causes, it's pretty cheap too! We offer rock bottom rates for the area on cocktails, beer, shots, coffee, donuts, whatever. Plus, the Lounge hosts rolling free lounge talks given by everyone from our esteemed seminar instructors to industry professionals, game designers, and more. IT's a great way to cozy up next to some of the most creative people in the tabletop gaming world with their favorite drink (which are, conveniently, discounted while each lecturer is talking). The Lounge is free to enter for any and all NOVA Open attendees all weekend long.

Capital Palette
Capital Palette returns to NOVA this year as one of the DC area's premier miniature figure art competitions. This juried exhibition takes an enormous leap up in prestige and quality this year with the addition of Roman Lappat and Raffaele Picca from Massive Voodoo as head judges, along with Justin McCoy. With one of the swankiest display areas out there and a great deal of organizational support from the NOVA, the Capital Palette is a fantastic way to show off your miniatures' best stuff, have them judged by world class and world-renowned miniature figure artists, (and receive input on them from) , and win awesome prize support thanks to enormously generous partnership by companies like Grex Airbrush (category winners take home a brand spankin' new, top of the line airbrush!). Additions of higher experience level seminars, speed-painting/speed-airbrushing competitions, and more make the Capital Palette and NOVA in general more appealing than ever for the talented (and even only sorta talented!) miniature figure artist out there.

One of the things we want to advance at the NOVA is the notion that what we do with our figure painting hobby is more than just slopping pigments on toys. Art is a diverse term, and nothing should prevent that term being rightly and fairly applied to what many figure painters do - some of it is pretty awesome! Roman and Raffa are poster children for advancing the cause of miniature figure artists by connecting them more closely to fine artists at a whole, and we share with them a desire to leverage NOVA as a mechanism for further perspective change in this regard. Stay tuned to the NOVA Open and Capital Palette for more on this in the future, as we seek to both expose figure artists to a broader audience, and bring a broader range of artists (Beyond just figures) to the NOVA Open proper.

Infinity is why the NOVA Open's dedicated terrain staff considers the word "More" to be a 4-letter word! If you haven't played it before, Infinity battles occur on some of the most epic battle boards you've ever seen in a miniatures game, and 2014 was no different for the NOVA Open. Event lead Craig further supports this by hosting terrain competitions among attendees to see who can bring the best tables (there were LEDs and epic buildings aplenty in 2014!). Infinity is set to once again grow leading into next year, spurred on by the fact we hosted Corvus Belli designer Gutier Losquinos all the way from Spain. Corvus is set to once again attend, bringing with them - as in 2014 - first-time-ever looks at their newest studio painted minis and seminar-based reveals of the newest Infinity news, rules, and information (even stuff they don't share at GenCon!).

Blood Bowl
It is a little known fact that Blood Bowl, in a sense, started the NOVA Open, as its organizer began by hosting local DC area Blood Bowl Leagues. It was thus with great pleasure that we brought Blood Bowl to NOVA for the first time on its 5th Anniversary in 2014. Once established, never abandoned, the pitches will return to the NOVA in 2015 for a larger and more concrete offering of Blood Bowl events. We're also working to make sure the rates are affordable, the pitches are gorgeous, and the events are fully certified with the NAF across all activities. Don't miss your chance to break some heads! It's also more than just a rumor that late night Blood Bowl may be one of your only places to challenge NOVA staff to open gaming ... so don't forget to bring your team with you even if you plan on participating primarily in other genres and games.

Vendor Hall
A Con is not a Con without sweet shopping. The NOVA Open is attended by an increasingly diverse array of industry vendors, including niche suppliers like Greenman Designs and Tectonic Craft Studios, and broad-band discount retailers like Atlantis Comics & Games and the Toledo Games Room (the Bits Guy from outside the AdeptiCon 40K hall). We proudly partner with our vendors and sponsors to provide the epic quantity of swag given away through awards packages and the [in]famous lemonade raffle (any time you lose a game in any game system at NOVA, you get a raffle ticket in a Lemonade Raffle (get it, making lemons out of ... you get it) that includes everything from simple bits bags all the way to vacation getaways) at NOVA, and they also take pains to provide rock bottom discounts throughout the convention. We also - after popular demand - were able to partner with UK-based major NOVA sponsor KR MultiCase to bring their diverse array of army protection products to NOVA this past year, at a discount! The NOVA Open's vendors offer additional discounts on Thursday evening as the con kicks off, and we're working to see what we can do to keep them open just a bit longer after the award ceremony on Sunday evening this year (the better to go and spend your gift certs and winnings with the providing vendor).

The SuperNOVA Program
Speaking of KR MultiCase, the NOVA Open has - hands-down - the best "VIP/G" style gamer bags on the planet. This is, primarily, because they are KR MultiCases. Not ones to provide our "SuperNOVAs" with throwaway plastic bags into which their epic VIP-style swag has been placed, the NOVA includes (thanks to KR) free KR MultiCase bags with every SuperNOVA pass. In your first year, you get a free $85 KR BackPack2. In your second year, you can get another of those, or a Kaiser2 instead. In your third year, you can get a Kaiser3 instead. We're still trying to figure out how awesome it's going to get for the fourth year guys. Either way, the other thing you get - that's not to be overlooked - is that those who buy a SuperNOVA bag and return in a future year to NOVA (whether or not they  SuperNOVA again) receive a free BOGO for KR $65 custom-foam Card Cases to fill their bags with (and you can redeem these at the NOVA's KR vendor booth). Beyond this, SuperNOVA's get convenient in-con storage for their armies/bags, awesome T-Shirts, beer mugs, and several hundred dollars of custom swag (i.e., Greenman Designs will do you up a custom measuring device suited to your game system of choice with both your game system faction and name incorporated on the device ... imagine getting a multi-measure tool in Ultramarines Blue with your name inscribed under the logo). Last year, our 80 SuperNOVA bags sold out in a few hours ... we're offering more this year, but they won't last the weekend after reg opens on Feb 1.

SO MUCH MORE TO COME, AND WE'RE EXCITED! Who is coming to the NOVA in 2015? What are you most looking forward to?