Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Terrain Day Saturday 5/23 - Come Have Some Fun!

We're drawing ever closer to this year's  NOVA Open. 

In doing so, we always have at least monthly terrain days that carry with them a lot of perks for all involved, including (but not limited to) free beverages (alcoholic and non), food (breakfast snacks/coffee and lunch), good company (but for seriously), and a lot of opportunities to learn a wide range of hobby skills and techniques (gleaned through years of trial, error, and learning ourselves from others).

This particular weekend, we'll be enjoying hopefully great weather while painting terrain, finishing some other terrain production, and having a generally great time.

We have a big ole evite list of people who attend these things regularly, but routinely have new folks interested and need a way to get them on the evite list ... ipso facto, e-mail me at and I'll get you invited :)

If you can't make this one, we have at least 2 more before the year's terrain production efforts are done.


In other news, for the sake of sharing w/ the community, I got hitched last week! Apologies for any delays in e-mail / blogging that have been going on as a result of that whole thang :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Charity BBQ Backyard Tourney - 40K and Malifaux - July 18, 2015

Hello all!

Back in 2009, the NOVA Open got its start with a 40k tournament in a park, hosting 32 players across 4 rounds. Two years ago, we hosted another one of these in a backyard in Vienna, hosting 32 players in a more laid back 3-round setting.

We'll be bringing it back again this year, on July 18. So, clear your calendars! The event will be hosted in McLean, VA.

There'll be grilled vittles, tasty beverages, and plenty of games and gamers. Cover will be planned and provided in case of rain, and details for price (in the form of a donation to your charity of choice via the NOCF) are still to come.

For an idea of what to expect, check out coverage of the last one by Bob Roda, who drove down from CT to attend.

You can help us out by e-mailing or posting here if you're interested in attending!

Here's a photo from the last one of Andrew "Captain America" Gonyo facing off against Nick "AdeptiCon ThreePeat" Nanavati!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Adding the Total Wow Factor to the NOVA Open 2015 - What a Con Should Be and Have

6 years ago now, I walked into the main 40K hall of my first AdeptiCon.

Right smack dab in the middle of things near the registration desk, I saw Sabol Designs' incredible display done just to be cool ...

So ... over the years, all I've really, really wanted was to be able to do some of the same kinds of OMG WOW stuff at NOVA. We've done it on occasion - i.e., our 6 foot tall scale Washington Monument for the 40K Narrative events.

This year, we're taking it to a whole new level across a bunch of our different events and activities.

First off, a badass sneak peak at this year's [and our first ever] official NOVA Open Show Miniature:

The attendees of the NOVA Open over the past several years have helped us design and innovate our very own background universe, in which reside the awe-inspiring galactic "peackeepers" self-titled as The Virtue. Destined to be over the size of a Tyranid Warrior, this incredible showpiece will be available at the NOVA, and will be in every SuperNOVA's bag. Far more details to come, as well as some awesome paint jobs by some true area pros.

Second off, we're super excited to be hosting a ton of Malifaux events this year, with vetted and awesome leads Matt Stanley and Maht Crestborn, who are joined (quite excitingly) by a new co-TO, the very designer of Malifaux, Justin Gibbs. We're also excited this year's event suite includes the first ever Malifaux National Championships (an open invitation event). In support of that, we've been fortunate enough to gain the services of Wright War Game Terrain ... whose work should speak for itself (especially that awesome Laketown!). Their first project for us this year is a massive, fully scenic and fully tournament playable Gremlin superdistillery and bayou town. The first video of this epic board after its first day of production can be seen HERE.

Finally, we're super excited about X-Wing at NOVA this year, with the event on its way to 100 unique attendees ALREADY. It already sold out and had to double down on the Narrative Event. What's doubly cool is the Narrative Event will be battled out around the most epic piece of terrain ever made for NOVA ... and perhaps one of the most nerdgasming Star Wars items ever. Many Bothans died to bring us even this little bit of a sneak peak at the plans to our forthcoming scale replica Avenger class Star Destroyer. Holy Canolies.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Advancing Conclusions - GT/Invitational Changes Due to Game Changes

So, we're getting there. Feedback continues to roll in on blog posts, e-mail chains, and the like. Please keep in mind that all of the following are just continuations of the current discussions, not finalized rulings, and we're still fielding enormous discussion and feedback here.

We have survey results from last year's NOVA and community surveys like LVOs to help us with some of our decision making. We're not there yet, but we're working to get there as quickly as possible.

The motivations here are developing as simplistic a set of changes and army construction rules as possible, and also developing a set that anticipates FUTURE releases by GW to better handle them (and avoid being so specific or now-focused that we have to make more changes in another month or two).

For example, one of the proposed concepts below targets both the Guardian Warhost and Decurion Formations. The Guardian Warhost is a slightly larger motivator here, but we can all anticipate similar Detachments comprised of tons of detachments in the future (e.g., w/ Adeptus Astartes in June).

Based upon survey results from NOVA, feedback, and other public polling, there are a few things that stand out as being problematic in the game, many of which were "straw that broke the camel's back" with the new Eldex.


1) "Invinsible" Units - Units that either have 2+/3+ type re-rollable invul/cover/armor saves or units that have strong saves/t/wounds and are very easily rendered Invisible. Examples include Screamer Stars and Seer Councils in the case of the former (less durable by model but great saves that are re-rollable), and Centurion Stars or Flesh Hound Stars in the case of the latter (usually do not have re-rollable saves but are more durable / have more wounds, and hard to hit in the first place).

2) Super Heavy / Gargantuan units - Between Stomp and a variety of long range attacks with the "D" rule or high strength / ignores cover, use of these units requires a variety of modifications to the game, as seen in the events that use them. Legalization requires an extensive ban list, though banning comes with a downside of complaint from players that want to see them in the game. The big issue with these units, between Thunderblitz, Stomp, and D, is the extremely negative reaction from the "Average" player to what happens when their opponent rolls a "6" (either from very long range, or from a Stomp that they aren't even in combat with, etc.) and tells them to just pick all their models up off the board. Nowhere was it more evident that "average" players can't stand this than in last year's NOVA Open Narrative, where feedback from a casual /  theme-heavy event was, in the case of one quote, something like this: "Why are we allowing Super Heavies and Gargantuans in the Narrative? I thought this was supposed to be a fun event and not one with a bunch of WAAC big units and competitiveness?!"

3) D Weapons [on Eldar basic units] - It would be folly to presume Eldar are the last codex you'll see receiving D weapons on non-SH/GC units. Whether it's the vinDicator or something else, expect to see this start to repeat itself elsewhere. GW really likes abilities that completely eliminate things when you get lucky and roll a 6.

4) Summoning. This is more mission specific, but most missions start to break down when players can add scoring units wholesale to the game, especially late when opponents cannot do anything to counter.

So what do we do to address these things in the simplest way possible, while changing as little of the core game as possible?

First off, army construction:
It is looking more and more likely that we will move to a 3 Detachment limit. IN doing so, we will likely make the third Detachment "limited." So you'd have 2 Open Detachment Choices and one Limited Detachment Choice. Limited would most likely just eliminate the selection of a potential third CAD or CAD-like detachment (i.e. the codex-specific CAD-like choice in the SW dex). Additionally, we're considering making "Guardian Warhost" and "Decurion" style detachments take up both Open Detachment Choices (or all 3).

What's the point here? First off, based upon public polling done by the LVO, a higher % of players prefer 3 or more detachments to 2 or fewer. The ITC is going to 3 detachments generally as a result. This doesn't directly impact us, but it's a fool who fails to listen to the largest majority when two groups are at odds.

Secondly, allowing a third detachment dramatically increases the freedom of players - including Xenos - to select Culexus Assassins. This increases the risk in building a psychic-power-based deathstar with super saves (see #1 above) without changing game rules for things like Invisibility, Fortune, etc. We don't like rules changes, and there are good reasons for this. I.E. if you change Invisibility so that it allows units to be hit by Templates and Blasts, the release of Wraithguard with D-Scythes is suddenly WAY scarier to the game as a whole, because they have no direct counters - units that can survive them or prevent their use, for instance.

Super Heavy Vehicles and Gargantuan Creatures
We need to get the Knight Dex in hand, but rumors appear to show images of the new Knight standard detachment being comprised of 1-3 Super Heavy Lords of War. This would imply the new Knights are all SH Lords of War and not just Super Heavies. If that is the case, they would become illegal under NOVA's current rules the moment they are released. Wraithknights experienced this same "fate." So, what do we do about these units? People own AdLance Knight armies and trios of Wraithknights. If we allow all SH/GC LoW to be 0-1, people can bring an iKnight or a Wraithknight. If we allow iKnights to be the exception to the rule, we certainly continue to persist with our double standard. If we changed all our rules to allow Wraithknights, we'd be making a change to something our players wanted and that we decided on just to make Wraithknights happy.

There are a LARGE # of units that are unplayable as a direct result of SH/GC being in the game. The advantage to these models is that Stomp scares Deathstars. Nevertheless, the increased ability to MSU by 3 detachments and the dramatic increase in Culexus likelihood (inclusive of Culexus riding around in Vendettas) does a lot to make Deathstars a riskier buy to begin with.So ... the current lean is increasingly to simply leave SH/GC out. Adding them in mandates a ban list of SH/GC that we do not want (i.e. ones with massive cover ignoring attacks, etc., as per the way LVO/ITC does it) and also blatantly changes an existing GT/Invitational ruling in direct response to Eldar players wanting to be able to field their Wraithknights. This also would mean Eldar players wanting to field D Scythes with WWP or Raider transports or similar would have to field them as Elite selections in Eldar CADs (the formation w/in Warhost that lets them run 6" and shoot all the time requires a Wraithknight), limiting them under the proposed Detachment change above to only 6 units ... and still able to use their Allied Detach to snag a WWP delivery system in there. I know some Eldar players will be unhappy that they cannot field D-Scythe units that no-scatter deep strike out of LOS of interceptors before auto-running 6" and killing w/e they like, but they still just received one of the most powerful codices released since ... well, Eldar, and still will be able to pull off this and many other shenanigans.

Now, onto rules ...
D Weapons
The only thing we're considering changing rules wise in the game is the use of D Weapons. Based upon LVO polling data and survey feedback from our various events, the biggest complaint is about people vaporizing things from across the board with template/blast D weapons and rolling 6's. Easy references are Eldar Lynxes sitting on Skyshields.

The new offenders are Hemlock Wraithfighters, Wraithguard w/ Wraithcannons, Wraithguard w/ D-Scythes, and Distort Platform Artillery.
Wraithguard w/ Wraithcannons are not major concerns; they are single shot units ... and so, as they used to with their previous guns, will tend to kill single model units they shoot at and do very little to any kind of higher model count unit. They are also still Wraithguard, and without flame weapons cannot reliably overwatch to stop even marginal units from pinning them and/or killing them in combat (or simply with shooting).
Hemlock Wraithfighters *do* drop D small blasts, but they are affected by the D-Scythe rule. Thus, they fail to wound 1/3 the time and can never ignore cover/invulnerable saves.
Distort Artillery is a bit problematic, as once you are within 24" you risk them rolling 6's on stacked blast attacks. That said, they are also largely instantly dead once engaged in combat. They are at their most game affecting in a bad way when we talk about their max range, more so than their existence as a fact.
Wraithguard w/ D-Scythes are also a bit problematic, sitting between Wraithfighters and the Artillery. They are quite short-ranged, but they are somewhat more difficult to pin in combat (Requiring a sac unit or LOS blockage to force all the overwatch wounds onto a single model). They are no more difficult to simply shoot to death than Wraithguard have always been. They hit extremely hard against basic units and multi-wound units without strong invulnerable saves, but they also fail to wound 1/3 the time and cannot ignore invul saves.

So what is our thought? We're talking a lot with Reece of LVO/ITC, we're also talking with a lot of players. We're fielding a lot of feedback. The prevailing through right now is to simply rule as follows:
D shots originating from greater than 12" away treat all "6" results as "5" results instead.
D weapons always inflict only D3 Wounds or Hull Points (even on a "6" result)

That would be it. So close range and close combat D would remain as it is, helping moderate Deathstars somewhat (less so with the removal of SH/GC if we go that route). Rolling a "6" at closer range would not be quite the 7+ wound/hull point hit it currently is, but would still ignore invul/cover. Units wishing to ignore invul/cover with their D shots would require being danger close to the enemy to do so (i.e. Distort Artillery is far better moderated, as units can stop 13" away from a potential charge and remain safe from their "6" results).

There are 2 changes being considered for our Mission layout in order to address some of the concerns above. One would be to make units that Summoned or were Summoned be unable to count toward Mission Points until the next Game Turn. This reduces some of the problems with the missions (both accrual and late game choices) with regard to the Summoning Mechanic. It's a pretty minor change otherwise.

The other would be to add a new Secondary available that awards points for completely eliminating an enemy Detachment. This helps balance some of the issue with people broadly selecting minimal detachments just to add key buffs (i.e. Culexus, WWP DE, Tiggy/5Scouts, etc.) by giving opponents this enables them to outmatch the ability to score an easier 2 points back by targeting their tiny detachment add.

So how does this affect our 4 big player concerns while minimizing the impact on players who like to play those very concerns?
1) Invinsible Units (typo intentional) - We do nothing to change the rules here. These units remain powerfully durable and excellent counters to a number of things. On the other hand, we've increased the risk of relying entirely upon these super units to play by making it much easier for players to tack Culexus Assassins and other tweaks on to the armies they wish to run.

2) Super Heavy / Gargantuan Units - This one might cause the biggest sticking point. The right call *Feels* like sticking to our guns and the broadest player feedback and not making a change to our rules to compensate for GW changes that affect the fieldability of WK and iK within this year's format. Furthermore, Admantine Lance / Knight Primary armies are statistically one of the biggest problems in the game from a parity perspective, holding somewhere around a 65% win-rate in all Torrent recorded games ... this compares to a 45-55% win rate for most of the rest of the field (coincidentally, Eldar are at the top of that higher #). It is a fact that AdLance/Knight spam armies tend to run rampant over average players in the middle tables, despite not winning much on the GT/top table front. There's been a lot of commentary over not allowing people to play with the models they own, but that's a difficult subject to sell in any direction. No matter what your format is, a certain spectrum of owned models will be unplayable within it (either because it isn't legal or because it isn't worth taking). Furthermore, most complaints orient around wanting to take units that people believe they will win with. Those who want to take their Wraithknights typically do not, when told they cannot, take some fancy Eldar models sitting on their shelves that they don't think are any good competitively. Similarly, there'd be almost no complaining or even notice if we banned Pyorovres or Hormagaunts. By leaving SH/GC banned for the NOVA this year, we avoid the major complaints against them from last year while reducing the concern regarding "I rolled a 6 and you picked your models up off the table." The lack of player engagement here and the feel of the game moving away from company-level wargame to more of a skirmish-with-big-bots game is one of the most often-cited complaints we receive from players today.

3) D Weapons - Reducing longer ranged D shots and the massive 7+ damage impact of 6's is our path of least resistance right now. It is also closely aligned with what the ITC is discussing. It would also constitute one of our only changes to the actual rules of the game. Furthermore, it helps address potential future D weapons releases more elegantly than targeting specific units for tweaks one at a time as they come out. If suddenly every Space Marine Lascannon is a D shot, this rule would address it in advance instead of requiring us to specifically rule on each thing as it releases.

4) Summoning - Summoning is less complained about than many things - this isn't an issue with the mechanic in the eyes of the average player. The major issue was the interface of our existing missions with the summoning mechanic. By making our tweak to the missions, we correct for an over-balance problem from last year. Simple.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Continued Thought Refinement

Here's what's currently being pondered. Keep in mind these changes are not oriented entirely around "what about these new Eldar zomg!?" They are oriented around trying to minimize changes to the game, while enacting changes with a shelf life greater than 1 week (which a change to JUST Eldar would have in the era of constantly changing rules / detachment rules / etc. that we find ourselves in).

0-1 Super Heavy / Gargantuan of any kind (inclusive of iKnights)
Decurion / Guardian Warhost style Detachments, if selected, take up *all* your Detachment Limits
Stomp results of "6" hitting models that are not engaged with the Stomping model are treated as "5"
D results of "6" originating further than 12" away from the affected model(s) are treated as "5"

As an aside, I am beginning to find myself curious - Apocalypse was not a wildly successful selling item for Games Workshop. It was UNIVERSALLY stated that folks "wouldn't want to play it at a tournament or anything, but maybe for a pickup game if done right." Nevertheless, they have slowly pushed the game into being identical to original Apocalypse. When talking about toads (vs. human beings or some other more advanced animals), if you drop them into a boiling pot of water, they will freak out and depart it. If you put them in a lukewarm pot of water, then slowly turn the heat up to boiling, they will quietly perish.

It surprises me, in hearing the outcry for open battle-forged 0-restriction warhammer 40k from some quarters, how many toads are out there in our hobby.

Monday, April 27, 2015

DC Area Road to the NOVA League!

Original post and link:

Pulled from the blog:

Who? All 40k players in the DC Metro area!
What? An 8ish week League
When? May 18th- July 11th
Where? Anywhere! But you’re encouraged to game on Monday and Friday nights at Huzzah Hobbies located at 44927 George Washington Blvd, Suite 165 Ashburn, VA  20147
Why? Because who doesn’t want their chance to win a NOVA Invitational invite, give money to charity AND play their favorite table top game?

More after the break!

Now until May 16th
Game 1
May 18th - June 1st
Crusade – Dawn of War
Game 2
May 25th - June 8th
The Scouring
Game 3
June 1st - June 15th
The Relic – Vanguard

Game 4

June 8th – June 22nd

Points and Regions – Dawn of War

Game 5
June 15th – June 29th
Crusade - Vanguard
July 11th

Buy In - $20. You can sign up at Huzzah Hobbies located at 44927 George Washington Blvd, Suite 165 Ashburn, VA  20147. Or online, please email me for directions elphilo40k at gmail dot com. Signups will be from now until May 16th.

Charity – A portion of the buy in will be given to Wounded Warriors

Rules – We’ll be using NOVA Open Rules, Army Construction, Missions and FAQ. Rules, Army Construction and Missions can be found here:

League Format – While we’ll be using NOVA Open rules for the most part there was one thing that I wanted to change. For your first two games you’re not locked into a list, the only thing you have to choose when signing up is your Faction(s). That’s the only thing you’re locked into for games 1 and 2. At game 3 I will require you to send me a copy of your list so I can make it available to all league participants and from then on you are locked into your list, EVEN FOR THE FINALS!!!!

Brackets – All players will be placed into regional brackets. Hopefully this will cut down on travel time and distance to get your games in.

Information I need from you when signing up – I need your name, email address, a gaming club if you’re in it, your primary and secondary (if you have a secondary) faction(s), and finally the city and state you’re coming from. That way I can make the brackets on region. Just an FYI you will be setting up your games through EMAIL! If you don’t feel comfortable giving out your primary email address please sign up with a secondary one you don’t care about and that you check frequently!

Games – You have 2 weeks to complete your games please see the schedule above for when your two weeks start. If you do not complete them in the 2 week period you will be marked down as a forfeit. As a note you are able to complete your games earlier if your opponent is up for it. For example its week 2 and I want to try to get in my game with my week 4 opponent. They agree to play me at Huzzah Hobbies on May 25th; you’re allowed to do that! But remember your opponent must agree with this as well!

Prizes – Depending on how many sign up. The idea is to have at least the 1st and 2nd of each bracket get a gift certificate to Huzzah Hobbies. Then the top 8 of the league will come into Huzzah Hobbies on July 11th for a 1 day 3 round tournament to fight for the NOVA Invitational invite!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Simple D / Stomp Change That Might Allow Wider Use and Less Bans

Kudos to the discussion on the prior post for getting the ole tinker going ...

The what if here could* (definitely not saying WOULD) lead to broader allowance of SH/Gargs, Knights, etc. This addresses big issues for negative reaction from players, such as Lynxes blasting you with D from across the board and Knights 6-stomping all over things way out of combat with them and the like.

Is your Ranged D weapon more than 12" from target? Treat any "6" as a 5.
Is your Melee D weapon or Stomp hitting a target you are not engaged with? Treat any "6" as a 5.

Ponder and Feedback.

Pros -
Maintains ability of "6" results on D and Stomp to mitigate concern regarding 2+ re-roll units without having to enact wholesale changes to Invisibility, Grimoire, Fortune, etc. (one change vs. many)

May allow for broader inclusion of peoples' "toys" in the form of Lords of War.

Prevents need to heavily modify / ban brand new units and future units with D (aside from Lords of War) if the Eldar Codex is any sign.

Cons -
It's a rules change
Some people don't want ANY D in the game at all

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dealing with El-D-ar - Pre-Codex Thoughts

As should be expected, a lot of players are asking - even before the Codex releases - "What is NOVA going to do about the new Eldar?!"

The biggest concern is their mass access to Strength D on non-SH/Garg platforms.

First off, the Wraithknight.

This is now a Gargantuan Lord of War. Under NOVA's 40K GT army construction rules, these are not allowed.

So, with regard to the GT, at least unless we change the rule just to make an exception for Eldar (which seems an unlikely and unwise path to take), Wraithknights won't be hunky dory.

The real question applies to the large number of units choices across the codex who can select D otherwise.

Artillery - D cannon artillery
Hemlock Wraithfighters - D blast (at -1 on the chart)
Wraithguard - D shots (presumably at their 3-edition-long 12" range) or -1D templates

So what's to be done here and what's the import.

First off, on the Templates, we don't use Promethium relays ... ipso facto, people aren't going to torrenting D across the board from 32 point models.

Additionally, the honest truth about S-D at -1 on the chart is it is a LOT less powerful. 3+ to wound things means 1/3 of all hits fail outright, regardless of target T. Additionally, while they do cause d3 wounds, they never cause d6 or ignore invulnerable saves. Furthermore, the Hemlock's D blasts never ignore cover saves.

If you want to look at it in a couple of examples, some targets are badly hammered by these and some would actually be worse off if faced with much weaker weapons.

For example, Necrons obviously are hurt when their Decurion MSU units no longer have 3+ saves followed by 4+ reanimation ... especially so in the case of the Template weapon and its ability to simply ignore all of their saves on a 3+.

Vehicles are badly battered regardless due to the # of hull points inflicted by the "median" D impacts. That said, things like Knights are suddenly dependent on things like Adamantine Lance to even survive ... which is interesting.

Common "star" units like Khorne dogs, on the other hand, are not hurt very much at all (At least in comparison to other weapon options). For example, a S8 AP- template weapon inflicts more damage on a Khorne Dog, on average, than a SD AP2 template that is resolved at S4. Most people would have complained in the OPPOSITE direction (aka "it's too weak") if D-Scythes were made S8AP-.

If you run the numbers and compare as well the ability of Wraith units and the like to survive sustained shooting and/or find their way out of combat with even relatively weak units, you will start to see that the -1D hits are not nearly as game busting as the unmodified ones are.

So with NO codex, no ability to make firm decisions, and only initial thoughts, it certainly has come up in discussions to simply modify it so that any D weapon not carried by a Super Heavy or Gargantuan suffers -1 on the D chart. This actually nerfs them substantially against *most* targets while retaining their high potency against "single target" type items like Monsters and Vehicles.

Food for thought as we go through the next couple weeks awaiting a codex release and sufficient time to make smart decisions about what rulings to follow (if any).

One thing is true and needs to be stated - players do NOT like D as a general rule. They also don't like invulnerable units that are very difficult or near-impossible to kill (this applies to everything from jet-stars to certain entire decurion army builds). For some reason, the reaction to both Super Heavies and D in general at NOVA in those events which allowed them has been especially severe, and we're not the only ones to see that. If you look at the recent LVO poll, ranged D was especially decried by attendees who experienced it.

There's something about a game that takes your opponent completely out of the picture which is not very engaging (ipso facto: all the hate for watching someone roll a 6 and tell you to pick up your models with no recourse ... and all the hate for watching a single unit bounce all the attacks of your entire army with 0 casualties).

It bears reminding that no one has ever played Games Workshop's game at Tournaments "entirely by the book," from missions to points to the works. Even those who argue stridently for "pure" 40k will always caveat "well, except obviously you can't do Unbound" or "well, except obviously you can't do Forge World" or "well, except obviously you can't play totally unmodified book missions, you need to add points and stuffs!" We'll continue at NOVA to leverage community feedback and wise decision making toward *trying* to host the most fair, universally appealing tournament format possible/out there.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

ITC Points at NOVA Open

Just a quick PSA to all - the NOVA Open's GT and Invitational will award points for Frontline Gaming's ITC this year.

Please note, this does not impact the FAQ or Format, but it does mean all those West Coasters (and really anyone) looking to boost their score wherever possible will be able to do so at NOVA in 2015.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New 40K GT Pathways - Forging a Narrative for Thematic Competitors

So, one of the things that makes the NOVA's 40K GT format unique is its refusal to cater to only one player type.

To expound, most formats choose to sacrifice their preference for one personality or player type in favor of another, seeking the most popular compromise. NOVA's GT format does the opposite - it expands and adds parallels within the format to address a broader range of players instead of what we deem to be the broadest single type of likely attendees.

To wit, here's how it works:

W/L track - The NOVA GT is 8 rounds in total. After 4 rounds, players are broken into 16-player sub-brackets and their records "effectively" reset for purposes of the TC track. The 16 players in the top bracket compete for the highest W/L award, with the 4-0 person in Bracket 1 earning it. That said, awards are given to the 4-0 finisher in *each* sub-bracket, all the way down to the bracket populated by those who started 0-4. The purpose here is to give a margin-agnostic award to players who perform the best among their competitive and list peers throughout the event in a simple head-to-head, win or lose category. By re-bracketing, we also allow players who brought softer lists or are more laid back about their game to apply tactics relevant to their level of involvement / interest in the game.

Battle Point track - The NOVA started off very "anti Battle Points." That said, lots of people LIKE BP events. So, it took us a few years, but we realized something we wish every event would realize - you don't have to choose between W/L and BP! Players earn BP in their games toward determining a winner or loser on the W/L track. They also earn these BP toward determining placement in our Battlemaster track. Battlemaster is w/l agnostic, harkening back to the more traditional BP-based generalship awards. Furthermore, Battlemaster allows for ties - in the w/l track, ties on score are broken by a series of tiebreakers. These aren't necessary in the Battlemaster Track; you'll still record them for purposes of W/L, but they're irrelevant for purposes of Battlemaster.

Overall Track - While lots of people really enjoy 8-round GTs that determine a single undefeated winner, that's not representative of EVERYONE, just like Battlemaster. Once again, something we wish more events would realize, we came to the conclusion some time ago that you don't need to pick one or the other in your format. In addition to tracking W/L and BP, the NOVA also awards appearance scores. Our Renaissance Man is the Best Overall player in the traditional GT sense ... and, to reinforce that point, it's a score based 50% upon  your artistic score and 50% upon your competitive score ... and it also resolves itself after 6 rounds and 2 laid-back 3-round days of play. Ipso facto, it feels a little more relaxed and like the GW GTs of old if what floats your boat most is playing your best while fielding a truly gorgeous work of art of an army.


So you get by now that the NOVA's format is preference-agnostic. We've figured out a way to emphasize the many different styles of grand tournament without forcing people to only play "our way or the highway." But we aren't fully there yet ... because we're still missing the fluff-forward / comp-centric style of play.

Like most organizers do with most of the other formats above, there's a certain thought process off the bat where you figure you can't possibly fit something like narrative or thematic army valuation into a competitive w/l type format. But ... if you actually think about it ... you can. You simply need to establish how it's scored, then track it.

So we don't have a name yet for it, or anything beyond notional percentages, but this year we'll be adding a fifth awards track (to say fifth, I'm including artistic score as the fourth not listed above - the NOVA's artistic track is the painting/conversion/theme side of the coin, whose other side is the W/L track). This track will establish a series of guidelines toward establishing a more thematically coherent and unit-diverse army with which to play. Players whose armies pass established metrics for fluff/composition/theme will become eligible for tracking within this new awards path, which will then evaluate their final position along primarily competitive (but also somewhat along artistic) lines. The goal here is to both acknowledge those who choose to field more thematic armies and also provide a mechanism for players to show off their tactical acumen while playing these forces. This blends very well in with the NOVA's bracketing system, as players who choose this course of play will naturally find their way to brackets with similar combined list/skill-strength players, thus enabling the opportunity to earn strong competitive scores *even if* the harder armies present in the GT issue them a loss here and there.

Input is welcome here, as far as what directions we should go - this concept is very much a work in progress, but it's a work in progress we'll see through to conclusion and inclusion in this year's Warhammer 40,000 Grand Tournament as part and parcel toward continuing its annual improvement attempts toward being the best format available for as many player types and preferences as possible.