Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tips and Tricks for Scoring Well @ the NOVA Open, Plus a Note on Cronyism

Alright, so a couple of things to talk about today.

First, some 40k tactics in general, and how they relate to the NOVA Open's 40k Mission Format.

Second, a conversation about Cronyism and Unethical Behavior on the Tournament Circuit, and why it gets to me hardcore.

You get a cookie if you can ID the film from the image on the right. How is it relevant? Well, the tips and tricks were given to one of the characters by Paul Hogan himself ... the Crocodile Dundee. What the hell ever happened to him?

So what's the story.

First, format. The NOVA Open utilizes a different format from your regular 40k events, and there's a couple of things to keep an eye on as you play.

First, winning is paramount. Unlike situations where you can't win it all if you don't both win and snag all the battle points in the world, you can win it all at the Open if you simply don't lose. Eventually, you're going to stand alone, undefeated, on top of the entire field. Seriously, that's how it works.

What happens if you do lose, though? Well, I'll get to that, suffice to say that losing doesn't remove your ability to win prizes, trophies, and even a Vegas ticket. It simply hurts your odds, as it rightfully should.

First, what are the prizes you can win?
1) Tournament Champion. This requires you be in the Top 4 from the first day (4-0), and then win a 2-round Final Four on Sunday, August 15. The only other way to get into this besides going 4-0 is to be a top rated 3-1, and have one of the 4-0 finishers UNABLE to make the Final Four due to scheduling struggles. Like anyone "losing" a game in an event like this, in any sport, you control your fate as long as you win. You put it in the hands of others if you lose. So if you want to be Tournament Champion, win tons of swag, and qualify for Vegas ... win.

2) Renaissance Man. Only 33% of the Renaissance Man score is comprised of your record and battle score. The other 67% is from Sportsmanship, and Appearance scores. Arguably you can gain or lose the biggest single "chunks" from wins and losses (since a 4-0 record is a 100% win-rate, but a 3-1 record is a 75% win rate, meaning each loss subtracts around a quarter of your possible contribution from wins and losses). Regardless, if you max out your appearance scores, and get a very high sportsmanship score, you can probably afford to lose 1-2 rounds (maybe even 3) and still be in competition for Renaissance Man, which is equal to tons of swag, and our 2nd Vegas qualification. This is for you guys who think you can win 2-3 games, but aren't so sure of your ability to win all 4 on the main day.

3) Top Generals. The 4 people who go 4-0 each get a top general trophy, and swag. Good stuff, simply gotta win.

4) Heart of Gold (Sportsmanship), A Miniature Frankenstein (Conversion), Modern Day Da Vinci (Painting), Artist of the People (Players' Choice) all earn equivalent prizes and trophies to the Top Generals awards.

You can also win trophies for performing best within your record bracket ... so, get a tough round and lose a game or two? If you can still be highly competitive in your losses, and really rock the tables in your wins, you could be in competition for a trophy and prize within each w/l bracket.

Let's talk then about how best to play your games.
First, there will be three what are called "Goals." These are effectively like primary/secondary/tertiary missions at your typical tournament, but there the similarities end.


Now, the "goals" used in the primer missions may change, and the combination of goals, order of goals, and deployments will certainly change. So, just consider them like guidelines for the purposes of this discussion.

If you notice in the packet, the goals are the SAME EVERY ROUND. What changes is which goal "WINS" the game, which goal breaks a tie for that one, and which goal breaks a tie for the tiebreaker. So, A B and C will always be in play. One round A will win, B will tiebreak, C will tiebreak B ... another round B will win, C will tiebreak, etc.

So, the most important thing to do when you pick up your tournament packet is sit down and UNDERSTAND THE GOALS. They'll be with you all tournament long.

More importantly, how well you are able to score EACH goal EVERY round will influence your SEEDING. This is an elimination paired tournament, so the highest scoring 1-0 after round 1 will play the lowest scoring 1-0. The more points you are able to score beyond simply "winning," the easier (in theory) your next round will be. We do this because we want the best players to advance to the finals ... not a crazy thing, you know? Any tournament should want this.

Something to keep in mind is that as you play, EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU'LL LOSE, keep the goals in mind. Also keep in mind that goals requiring you to capture a quarter, or objectives, will generally be more valuable than goals requiring you to kill shit. Why? Well, think on it in relevance to the primer missions. What's easier - killing 400 of your opponent's vp, or capturing an objective? This depends on the army, but since we operate on PERCENTAGES, 1/5 objectives is equal to 400/2000 VP.

When you go into your subsequent rounds, here's how the seeding works ... you get a Rating.

Rating = % of Goal 1 Accomplished + % of Goal 2 Accomplished + % of Goal 3 Accomplished + 10xWin % ... so, ignoring win % for now (since you'll always be playing someone with the same record), what matters for SEEDING within each series of rounds is how high a % of your goals you've been able to score.

Also keep in mind that TABLING people does not auto-generate all of your numbers. If you bring an army with only 2 scoring units, you'll never be able to score more than 2 of 5 objectives (for example). So, you'll never be able to score more than .4 of your possible 1.0 for that rating (40% = .4, 100% = 1.0).

When the day is done, the people who win all their games don't really care about their Rating. If you win all your games on Day 1, you get a trophy and a prize. If you win your 2 more games the next day, you get a Vegas qualification, another prize, and another trophy.

If you don't win all your games, though, scoring as many of the goals as possible matters a TON ... because you want to have a shot at a) "sneaking" into the Final Four by someone dropping, b) being as highly rated as possible for a shot at the Renaissance Man, and c) winning a trophy and prize within your win-loss bracket at the end of the day. We have a LOT OF SWAG at the Open ... over $5,000 worth now ... losing a round doesn't exclude you from winning a lot of it ... seriously! Losing a round and quitting on caring, though? Yeah, that'll hurt you on the "give me some swag" front ... well, besides your loaded up swag bag :)

Don't expect us to change things too much either from the primer packet - we want ya'll to be well prepared going in. Suffice to say that you need to have an army that can kill shit, and that can capture shit. Don't worry too much about something like Quarters - everybody has 2,000 VP, so nobody can build more points for capturing something utilizing VP. For something like objectives, though ... well, only bringing a couple of scoring units will materially affect your ability to score beyond a certain % of objectives, so you'd better have an army that can reliably capture GROUND via mobile VP, and/or kill a ton of stuff, if you want to keep your rating up and your opponent more manageable.

OK, so that's a ton of stuff ... onto Cronyism, and I'll keep this rather short.


Or, perhaps, simply unethical behavior on the tournament scene, and how it bothers me.

Things that I know are happening that I find absurd ...
1) At least one of the designers of the Prelim Ard Boyz missions is playing in Ard Boyz. The missions definitely suit his list. I'm not going to point out names, but he hasn't made it very secret either ... in fact he outright said it. DUDE. DO NOT PLAY IN A TOURNAMENT, ESPECIALLY A BIG ONE, WHERE YOU DESIGNED THE DAMNED MISSIONS.


Here's the three possible results; 1) You lose, and people make fun of you for not being able to win when everything is stacked in your favor; 2) You win, and people call you out for the deck-stacking fucktard that you're being; 3) You lose, and people both make fun of you for not being able to win, PLUS call you out for being a deck-stacking fucktard. It's lose-lose-lose.

2) ANYTIME someone helps playtest and design missions for a tournament they play IN, unless everyone is given a playtesting option. Good: NOVA Open getting groups around the country to playtest the primer missions (not the actual missions), and getting people in general to do it, and taking feedback from everywhere. Bad: Certain large tournaments letting local or well-known individuals help design and playtest the ACTUAL missions, and saying nothing about it while those people win the tournaments. DUDES.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO HOST A TOURNAMENT, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY IS TO THE PEOPLE ATTENDING. If you are going to DESIGN a tournament's mission format, your RESPONSIBILITY IS TO THE PEOPLE ATTENDING. You don't get to give SHIT to yourself. You don't get to take advantage of things unfairly. You for sure don't get to fucking play in your own mission format for prizes funded by the money of all your COMPETITORS that you're merrily trouncing all over.

Let me give you an example - I signed up for the Battle for Blob's Park, which is an awesome looking tournament upcoming run by Scooter Walters and the Inner Circle - great guys all. I'm stoked to be playing in it, you win an army if you win, it's outdoors with beer ... dudes, awesome, sign up - all of you, seriously. HERE'S THE LINK TO THE ONLINE FLYER.

The organizer of the 40k front recently asked if he could use the NOVA Open's mission format for it, possibly even the primer missions. I said sure. Do you think I said "sure, and I'm happy to play?" FUCK NO. I said "Sure, and by the way, if you do use it, I will volunteer to help you run it, judge, whatever, and I'll still pay my reg fee and show up, but I won't play in the tournament. Refuse to, in fact."

I want more people to understand that ethics in how you manage and run and plan a tournament is more important than anything. There's NO congruence on the national tournament circuit. Almost every event is run differently, almost every event has some form of MASSIVE bias and cronyism or at least unethical play going on. Cheating is rampant and widely reported on, blah blah blah.

Anything you as an organizer can do to DEFUSE this problem, to eliminate it, to minimize it, you should. Favoritism to friends, mission designers playing in the event, tournament organizers playing in the event, people who decide on comp ratings/rulings playing in the event ... all of this is easily avoidable bullshit that makes your event look worse. This goes for ard boyz, and every other tournament guilty of it.

Stop, help us all improve the tournament scene for everyone. This stuff is just awful.

- Mike


  1. Great post. It's refreshing to see a tournament organizer actually thinking hard and determining solutions to common problems at tournaments. The extra work you've been making really goes a long way to making it a fun tournament. I can't wait.

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