Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Maelstrom - RPG Questing in the Modern Wargame

So Maelstrom Missions are one of the mission option sets within the 7th Edition 40K Rulebook.

I won't rehash the overall discussion about what constitutes 7th Edition as a whole here ... it's really hard to accurately / adequately answer. I stand well into the camp of 7th Edition being the DIY Edition - it's really about setting your preferred parameters and making sure you find people to play with who follow similar ones themselves.

There are definitely purists who will argue that Maelstrom Missions should be included in a Tournament Packet "Because it's part of the game." Most of those same purists will argue AGAINST the inclusion of some part of the rest of the game anyway, so it's hard to give that argument any meaningful credence.

Instead of digging into whether or not it should or should not be included, I thought it a worthwhile endeavor to articulate why I'm not a huge fan of them.

So, the rest of this is quite opinionated!

First off - stop calling it a sign of a good tactician that you can handle Maelstrom. It isn't (which isn't to say there are 0 skills involved, stay with me). Building your list as capable of reacting in the moment to an objective being randomly determined that says "go do this thing, right now, go go go" isn't the same as being a good tactician. There's very little tactics involved with Maelstrom. They tell you to do something, immediately, and even in modified versions of the Maelstrom you have almost no control over what it is you're being told to do, and what your opponent is being told to do. Following / executing Maelstrom missions is equivalent to fulfilling "collect X of Y" quests in Role Playing Games. The equivalent of an NPC generates them, and you have no real say in what they are.

Even in highly modified Maelstrom missions like those seen in some of the major tournament packets, oftentimes it simply is a matter of "did I pull a Maelstrom that is easy to accomplish, difficult to accomplish, impossible (or effectively impossible) to accomplish, or automatic to accomplish?" Games are routinely won and lost on the random pull of Maelstrom missions. Even in situations where they take a secondary role, getting dumb luck on Maelstrom early on and gaining an insurmountable lead gives the person who got lucky in such a way great incentive to simply push for a tie on the superseding Primary.

It's hard to say that Maelstrom missions represent "bad" mission design. It's hard to say this because you don't know what the intent of the designers was. If the intent was to have tactically demanding, interesting missions, they are objectively abject failures. If the intent was to have zany things happen and the outcome of a game be often irrelevant when playing by-the-book Maelstrom ... well, great success!

There are less ad-hominemy ways to refer to them, especially when talking about modified Maelstrom missions such as those seen in ETC and Frontline mission formats. I'm still not a huge fan personally - I've seen too many playtest games and live tournament games using them determined by randomization, which is something I'm not a big fan of. That said, they are undoubtedly MILES ahead of what GW put out in terms of being reasonable for tournament play, and they largely (and rightly) take a backseat to more tactically challenging / strategically-demanding primaries (so Kudos on those guys who designed the modified ones!).

There's no major point to this - just thought it might be valuable to share my personal feelings about Maelstrom. Fortunately, one of the nice things about the game is that it really lends itself to a wide variety of playstyles, missions, point levels, regulations, etc. - by virtue of the fact there really isn't one "way" to play the game. Fortunate for me, as I prefer the missions in my strategy games to be strategic ones :) ... where the ultimate path to completing a meta-objective or set of objectives is up to your careful plans and execution ... as opposed to not really having any idea what the meta-objective is until PRIVATE, GO CAPTURE THAT, RIGHT NOW! Hence my feeling that it's more of an RPG or even "action adventure" element to an otherwise-strategic/tactical wargame. Not my personal best fun, but not to say it can't be fun for others :) ... there's a reason there are plenty of folks who enjoy RPGs and action adventure games. They're just not my personal fave.

On Maelstrom thoughts, /fin ...

This is one of the interesting subjects related to 7th Edition Warhammer 40,000 and what the game is today. It's almost as if GW took one step further on the road they were on and said "screw it all, we're just going to release rules and we'll see where everything drops ... just don't use what you don't like." The proof is, as always, in the pudding with this as well. Zero events use the fully unbridled event rules, even an event like Mechanicon that claimed to be the only "true" 7th Edition Tournament refused to use Unbound army construction rules (thereby instantly becoming no more "true" 7th Edition than any other event).

To be a true 7th Edition Warhammer 40,000 event, frankly, you'd have to simply allow players to randomly determine a mission and a play format at their tables through discussion (which would, of course, end really badly). The "unbound" (pun intended) game is entirely impractical at a tournament level by simple virtue of the fact it's so very irregular.

The flipside and upside of all this is that GW has produced a game which is no good for random player encounters out in the wilderness of local game shops ... but which is fantastic for Organized Play and established gaming groups. If you have either an organizer who can establish the ground rules for what "style" of 40k you'll play or an agreed-upon format within your social grouping, you've got a game that everyone participating is more or less cool with, and that everyone can participate in with less confusion and concern about what they're exactly getting themselves into.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Malifaux's First National Championship @ NOVA 2015

From the Wyrd Website:

Wyrd is proud to announce that the Malifaux tournament hosted at the NOVA Open in 2015 will be the first annual National Malifaux Championship!

Anyone is welcome to participate, however some players will be invited and receive a free entry. Players who do well in other large Malifaux events throughout the year will be eligible to win a spot in the Championship, and the winner will get an exclusive feature in the Wyrd Chronicles, fun prizes, and bragging rights for the rest of the year! Grab your Crew, 2015 is the year to show that you can rule the blood-soaked streets of Malifaux! If you are running a Malifaux tournament in 2015 and would be interested in making it a Championship Qualifier, please email

Like many other tournaments, the NOVA Open has the terrain and space required to make this an amazing event, however it has the unique advantage of being hosted late in the year, allowing us to invite players from all of the other major tournaments.The dates of the NOVA Open are September 3-6 2015 (Thursday - Sunday), and the Championships (Singles Event) will be Saturday/Sunday. The event is held in Washington DC, just a 5 minute shuttle ride from the Reagan National Airport. It is set along the Metro for quick access to all of DC.This pairs with highly affordable $91/night room rates at a 4-star hotel in the heart of the DC Metro area. Hope to see you there!

Huge amount of work going on getting set for the sweetest NOVA Open ever in 2015. I mean, there's a TON of radical stuff. There may be 11 foot star destroyers involved.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

NOVA and BFS and Life

It's been way too long since posting!

Here's a little short-hand ...

NOVA Open was incredible. Our fifth anniversary represented our best event yet. I have a lot of download and discussion I need to start having about it.

I'm excited about some of the new 40K stuff on the horizon, and I'm excited to have a full year and no new editions (presumably) to ruin plans of properly getting set for the next GT and other events.

We also have a really exciting possible attendance presence next year from overseas. I can say no more.

For any that didn't know, I'm gettin' hitched next year. I definitely have spent some more time post-NOVA focusing on that and the little lady who I'm lookin' to settle down with.

I'm going to the Battle for Salvation again this year, my fifth year in a row to this great event. I'm doing something different, however.

In year 1, I went undefeated and took Tournament Champion, and 2nd place in Renaissance Man.
In year 2, I made it to the top table and took 2nd-to-One, losing to Neil Gilstrap, and won Renaissance MAn.
In year 3, I lost my bracket-breaker round to Matt DeFranza's seercouncil (old edition) with my nids, but rallied to go 6-1 on the tournament and take Silver Champ with a high placing in army appearance and Ren Man.
In year 4, I made it again to the top table and took 2nd-to-One and Battlemaster, losing to Matt again (with the newer seer council, arrrgh) off a pair of failed 3+ rolls on the bottom of 5 in an epic awesome game of matched wits and killer play.

So it's been a really awesome run there at BFS every year. In the time I've attended, I've gone 23-5 and won a major award each year.

So I'm trying something different. 40K is still my primary game, and I still play it nearly weekly. BUT I'm going to try out a Malifaux tournament as a change of pace, and since BFS has one this year hosted by the eminent Bob Roda, I just have to give it a try. A bunch of the Monday Night Malifaux group from the DC area are going, so should be a fun time. It'll no doubt be a smaller than the 40K event, but honestly that's OK.

One of the main reasons to go to a Con or a GT is the social aspect, connecting with all the great folks who attend. Fortunately, the Mali schedule is perfectly synched with the 40K GT schedule, so I'll be able to spend all the same lunch / after-day breaks and social outings and boozey nights with the same group. Awesome.

Oh and on the flipside, the entirety of the model range I need for Malifaux at the event this year fits on a little bayou tray. Since I'm playing a bunch of hillbilly moonshining gremlins, including the Brewmaster (gosh I can't wait for the ACTUAL models), I'm also bringing moonshine to share with my opponents.

So I'll see you there ... and I'll be posting my recaps of  NOVA and look-aheads for the future in the days and weeks to follow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tickets for Charity - NOVACF Final Push - Odds Good, Tickets Cheap, All Money to Charity (Doctors Without Borders, Fisher House Foundation, etc.)

So the NOVA Open Charitable Foundation raffle drawings are Sunday.


Also, these are some of the sweetest armies you've ever laid eyes on.

You get the raffle tickets here:

We raise the big monies for the charities.
Everybody is le happy.

There are more nids than in this picture, it was a halfway there shot, you'll see them in the (bad) photos below

So they also all come in sweet-ass KR Multicases that are one of the kind with custom art army logos on each:


And we had some fun setting up a scene from the Battle for Maccragge on a table with these before we put them in their case for good:

Yup, they come with sweet custom templates (and blast markers)

The armies will be on display at NOVA, where you can buy more tickets in person.
There's an incredible array of silent auction stuff as well.
There's also more armies at the site, go check 'em out.
Also, these are camera photos, so ...

Scythes of Behemoth Tyranid Force:
Walking Hive Tyrant
Flyrant w/ Double Devs (standard popular layout)
3 Hive Guard
Custom Tyranid Prime w/ Norn Crown
40 Termagants
20 Gargoyles
8 Genestealers
3 Lictors
2 Trygons
2 Hive Crones
6 Tyranid Warriors

Blood and Honor Ultramarines Force:
Marneus Calgar (Terminator version)
4 Honor Guard
Dave Taylor's famous (literally) Tyranid Hunters Land Raider w/ Carnifex Trophy
3 Thunderfire Cannons w/ Techmarine
3 Storm Talons (skyhammer, fully LED LIT)
10 Scouts + Telion (5 sniper, 5 ccw/bp)
10 Tyranid Veterans / Sternguard
30 Tactical Marines
Drop Pod
3 Grav Cents
Devastators and various other heavy weapon marines

and probably more that I'm forgetting

Plus, again, each army comes with custom templates/blast markers, KR Multicases, etc.

Dude, stop reading now and give a little to charity while giving yourself a shot at a win. You can buy as few as 10 raffle tickets for $10, or as many as

Monday, August 25, 2014

Quick Hitter - Online Registration Closes Tomorrow for NOVA

There are only about 25 unsold GT tickets.
There are only a couple of unsold Warlords Narrative tickets.
Warmachine has maybe one all event pass? Otherwise sold out.
X-Wing singles championship sold out, not much left in the rest.
Fantasy has only one ticket of 64 left.
Infinity and Malifaux have room left, but not infinite (heh).
Blood Bowl has some room left.
Flames of War has some room left.
Many of the Seminars are nearly sold out.
There are no more swag bags left.

What's the point here? Signing up day of is risky business.

Can't wait for the fifth annual NOVA Open!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Hitchhiker's Guide to a Successful GT Experience (And Other Seminars)

So there are a bunch of Seminars at the NOVA Open this year, as has been increasingly the case.

To be honest, I think there are 33 distinct ones, ranging from building and lighting your own terrain and building and lighting your own display board before the events start, to how to get your army from primer to tabletop quality in the best way possible.

One course I wanted to call out to attendees, especially those experiencing their first "big" tournament, is the Hitchhiker's Guide to a Successful GT Experience. This course will be in our awesome small auditorium seminar room, where most of the courses are taught, and will include about 45 minutes to an hour of "lecture" on some highlights and key points of what to expect from a GT, and how to get the most out of it, followed by the remainder of the time in panel and informal discussion.

The folks who will be lecturing are myself in a moderating role, and guests like Andrew Gonyo (Captain of Team America and an extremely well-vetted tournament player) and Reece Robbins (successful West Coast player, tournament organizer, and owner of Frontline Gaming retail store, podcast, and website). Chip Boyd of Torrent of Fire will also give some time on how to get the most out of the Torrent of Fire app, how to use it properly for reporting your games, how to use it to check on other games, etc.

There aren't TOO many spots left in this class, and it's capped at 20, but if you haven't registered yet and will be there on Thursday evening, the class is from 5:30-7:30 and we'd love to have you, so sign on up!

Check out all the NOVA seminars here:

These classes are - in many cases - scheduled to allow those participating in various tournaments and game systems to ALSO attend seminars, so don't feel you shouldn't go look and see just because you're in the 40K GT or similar. Additionally, please note several courses are sold out or nearly so, our first year with broad sell-out issues in Seminars. Of special note as nearly gone is From Primer to Tabletop, which is an excellent beginner/intermediate army-level-painting course, taught by award winning artist Caleb Wissenback.

NOVA Open Fantasy, Warmachine/Hordes, X-Wing Tickets - Do NOT Wait Until Day Of, Nearly Sold Out

This is just a quick PSA, as I know in the area each year some people have shown up the day of to play in events within Fantasy and WM/H, and may think to do the same for X-Wing this year.

X-Wing has plenty of all pass room left, but the Singles event is NEARLY sold out (counting all passes as reg'ed for it, + singles-only registration), which is the Saturday event.

WM/H has nearly 70 unique registrants (all passes + a la carte event purchasers), and is nearly sold out for the main Steamroller and the event in general. This is after selling out previously and us opening more spots up. If you are a local WM/H or traveling player and assuming you'll be able to show up and play in all events, please please please correct your thinking and reg in advance. Nobody wants to turn you away or say you can only hope to get in here or there.

Warhammer Fantasy is in the same boat, nearing 60 registrations and with only 64 spots, and that's a HARD CAP THIS YEAR. We started with only 32, and doubled down when it sold out way early. But we cannot make more room.

9 Days to NOVA.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

One Spot in the $2,000 Cash Prize NOVA Invitational

Hello all,

Just a quick hitter here. We have *one* spot open in the NOVA Invitational, as well as a couple of alt spots in case of last second drops. Think you have what it takes to go up against some of the best in the world (this year's Invitational includes 5 international competitors)? Email your interest and the list you'd take to post-haste.

 - Mike

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gaming Mats on the Cheap If you Preorder for NOVA Pick-Up - Mats in action, and a Note on Malifaux at NOVA

SO, I got in a game against a local buddy the other night and we finally got some good pics of painted crews battling it out with awesome terrain on one of Frontline Gaming's Mega MATS.

This is the NOVA Open's "Frostland" terrain layout for Malifaux this year. It's been an interesting thing, but we basically were able to put a 5-year veteran terrain crew and con resource set behind a terrain design process that we vetted past Mack Martin and Justin Gibbs during design, to gain their input / etc.

My buddy Shades prefers asymmetrical layouts, especially for pick-up gaming, so we rearranged it, but at NOVA the Malifaux winter boards are some of the symmetrical ones (they aren't all symmetrical), and will look like this:

What's cool is the board was made even more aesthetically pleasing by the fact we played it on one of the Mega MATS (a 4x4 Cobblestone board, just with the 3x3 marked off).

There were some highlights from the game, and I'll get to those. If you want a Mega MAT, one of the big downsides is that unless you live in California, it's going to cost you about $20 for shipping. They're basically giant mousepads, and are highly resistant to water or damage, and they also roll dice really well and push minis smoothly. These seem like small things but they actually are pretty rad. I don't tend to "hock" for products, but if I believe in them, I will.

To wit, KR Multicase. We've even worked it out so that we'll finally have KR for sale at NOVA this year, and we've gone so far as to procure foam tuned to the SuperNOVA VIP bag purchasers armies of preference, so that they can use their buy-one-get-one-free yearly bonus (a gift from KR) on them.

So to talk about the Mats at all, it took a lot of me actually messing with them to be like, alright alright alright, these are cool.

Anywho, you can get them from the NOVA Open store at their retail rate, but with 0 shipping by picking them up at NOVA. THAT SAID, YOU CANNOT BUY THEM AT NOVA. YOU HAVE TO PRE-PURCHASE THEM BY 11:59PM AUGUST 17.

So, yeah, don't show up at NOVA and be ticked that we don't have stock for you. It's expensive to ship, as just highlighted, and this is a test year. Reece and Co from Frontline are showing up at NOVA, and they'll bring as many Mats as pre-sell through the NOVA site. You get to pick exactly which style of mat you want during the checkout process.

Go here to buy.

Back to Malifaux. We basically built the Field of Dreams for this year. If you build it, they will come hopefully rings true, but hope is not a strategy, so we've done a lot to make sure whoever does show up for a new, first year event has a pretty incredible time. To level set, most of our skirmish level games in their first year see about 15-25 people show up. Malifaux seems to be pacing ahead of that, but one never knows!

So, we built incredible terrain, we are bringing Mack Martin and Justin Gibbs, who together made the game (Justin works for Wyrd, Mack is a freelancer with background at Wyrd), we'll have some of the things as swag and available that you otherwise can only get at GenCon or by waiting for October or later to purchase. We'll even have signed copies of the new rule/fluff/scenario book, Crossroads.

So whoever shows up for Malifaux is going to have an incredible time, and that was the idea. Four days of organized and open gaming, intimate face-time with the people who designed the game, awesome swag, and the best Malifaux tournament terrain on the planet (I'll stand by this).

The other Malifaux layouts for this year, just FYI ...

As for the individual game, I really had a blast ... Shades made a couple of tactically risky maneuvers, and his Cards made him pay for it. I, as is the norm for me, played like a close-to-the-vest panzy with my eye only on trying to get 10 points, and my cards rewarded me for it with repeated double-negative all-severe flips and the like.

I also learned that Burt Jebsen hiding in a mass of Bayou Gremlins and with multiple +Ram suit auras stacked on him ... is a total Master murderer. Because of his native ram, he's always doing 3/4/5 ... but if you add Lenny and a Skeeter w/ Somer's do it like dis aura down adding another ram, and if you flip or cheat in a ram ... he's doing 6/7/8 per hit on a Ml6 attack with Reckless. If said Master tries to target him, you just say "nah punch that Gremlin instead." So ... yeah, that's a thing. This was also the primary reason I won, as I was able to severely injure Marcus with three attacks from Burt, then cheat the I flip w/ Trixi and dust him off with Som'er, who was hovering nearby. I even turned him into a piglet, I believe.

Shades learned some good lessons about how to deal with a turn1-summon crew (I summon 5 models on Turn 1 by burning whatever stones / cards I need to toward the task, then get on with the game and do not tend to summon anything else unless tactically it's called for), and we rematched at the regular Malifaux Mondays to a much tighter finish.

I need to get me a Burt and finish painting my crew ... that Miss Terious is my counts-as Burt for this game #embarrassingproxies (but at least she's really well painted!)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Narrative Warlords Tweak - Tzeentch Daemons

Previously, Tzeentch Daemons (prior Whiskey article) had a power where they auto-passed psychic tests, which does not work all that well in the new edition.

Keep in mind that within the Narrative, these "supplements" are almost exactly like GW ones, in that they are optional. The referenced changes only apply if you elect to use a Narrative Supplement. If you prefer to run the list more by the book or in another fashion, you are free to do so within the Narrative event.

Chaos Daemons are now:

Fateweaver’s re-roll may only be used for rolls to hit, to wound and saving throws
The Grimoire of True Names may never improve a unit’s invulnerable save beyond a 3+
Malefic Daemonology MAY NOT be taken by any Chaos Daemons models

Khorne: If your army (including Allies) is comprised entirely of Daemons of Khorne, all models gain Assault Grenades and Feel No Pain (5+) against shooting attacks.
Slaanesh: If your army (including Allies) is comprised entirely of Daemons of Slaanesh, all models gain Assault Grenades, and the Shred special rule.

Tzeentch: If your army (including Allies) is comprised entirely of Daemons of Tzeentch, all psychic powers may be selected instead of rolled for randomly.

Nurgle: If your army (including Allies) is comprised entirely of Daemons of Nurgle, all models gain Fleet and the ability to Run regardless of the Slow and Purposeful USR.