Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sneak Peaks on the Upcoming Year - Format/Mission, Appearance Scoring, Narrative Changes and Thoughts

I thought I'd give you all a sneak peak of the things we're working on.

Also, several Tyranid players e-mailed me during my injury time-out, and I am struggling to catch up; if you don't mind re-emailing me your questions, I really would like to answer them!

I also guest-hosted the 11th Company Podast this past Monday night. I think it was Episode 138 or so (?), so anyone interested in hearing me blather on probably too much should check them out. Further, Neil Gilstrap of 11th Co, Tony Kopach and I are probably going to team up at AdeptiCon's 2013 Team Tournament (one of the premier and definitely the largest 40k event in the world, with 500 players in one tournament). Fourth teammate TBD.

Changes Being Early Worked:

A big push for next year will be the incorporation of a wider variety of Goals, and a wider set of permutations on our traditional goals. Expect to have far less redundancy mission to mission, while still maintaining full commitment to creating a rotation of primaries/secondaries/tertiaries that forces players to bring lists able to compete across the board.

One of the things we've always sought to do is create a mission format that prevents people from "gaming" one or two of three goals. We don't want, for instance, a player to over-weigh kill points and thus only have to work hard at completing 1 other goal each round, seeking 2:1 type wins in "all goals equivalent" formats.

That said, the combination of 6th Edition and the passage of time, plus the presence of great inputs to be gleaned from other awesome events worldwide, means there's nothing wrong with working on the goals we present and thus the final presentation of missions.

Schedule/Games Played
Based on survey feedback, we may do a couple of things with the schedule and # of games all players are able to participate in. I think in 3 years of the NOVA, we've seen one year where all 8 rounds were played by all players, and two years where some # of the final rounds were participated in only by the final fours in each of the many brackets. I think we'll move back toward the former in 2013, with all players being guaranteed 8 rounds, and Best Overall determined by 8 rounds as well (which will push the ability to lose a game or three more into the spotlight, when competing for Best Overall). As tournament theory and software improves, we're also better able to handle the spattering of late drops you always get as people get exhausted or have to head home, making this less of an issue.

We'll also be making the Narrative more robust, and possibly dropping the Trios (in lieu of other events, perhaps a fixed-list Warhammer 30,000 type event).

Overall, the three-day format for the GT was well-received. Considering the fact that people who can attend on Friday ... can attend on Friday, we're considering easing up the strain of any given day by moving to more of a 3/3/2 schedule. We'll see how that pans out in discussions moving forward.

For better or worse, we're also looking at Labor Day again. While we haven't settled on this yet, you may want to mark your calendars - the difference going a week forward or backward is literally thousands of dollars for us AND for attendees, and thousands less square feet ... whereas remaining in Labor Day gives us access to an additional foyer, an additional main ballroom, a theater, and maintenance or improvement of the hotel's awesome rate improvements for 2012 attendees (half price parking, $85/night rooms, etc.).

Progression of the Narrative, and the NOVA's Unique Storyverse
The Narrative this year set the initial stage for a thematic universe in which NOVA Open unique events and even potentially games will be set. We're working as a large group with our best creative minds to craft and publish the story advanced by this year's Narrative participants. Additionally, the participants in the Narrative gave it the highest net reviews of any NOVA Open event (which is saying a lot - survey results showed the NOVA had even higher attendee scores than last year).

In addition to the return of the 40k-component of the Narrative, we'll be expanding the field so that other game systems can participate in parallel, and through their participation also drive the story. So, the 2013 Defenders of Earth will likely include Warmachine, Flames, Fantasy, Infinity and other players right alongside their 40k teammates.

Finally, the Narrative in 40k will feature the inclusion of a rapid-fire NOVA Open-brewed skirmish game, permitting the use of models from all the ranges potential participants may already own, and focusing on the efforts of 2012 High Scoring Protagonist Jeremy Chamblee (Chumbalaya) to right a great wrong committed by the commander of the Invaders' fleet, and potentially save the misunderstood people of Earth.

We're busily building the rulesets and playtesting for this game, and it will not be a Warhammer 40,000 spin-off. It will be a unique game in which participants can use models they own to represent the units available for use (or, creative participants can vie for prizes and recognition by converting up a squad to match the evolving character of the narrative!).

Army Appearance Scoring
Army appearance scoring has been inconsistent for a couple of years now, as it tends to be in such a large event. Our appearance chief and our appearance judges have all worked their tails off to nail it, and while they've largely gotten it right, there's always a couple of outliers who are incorrectly judged. We're committed to fixing it this year, and we'll have some blog posts to field discussion about the direction of appearance judging for ARMIES in the future.

Our Appearance Competition will build on this year's inaugural successes and lessons learned, and will be as polished and professional an event as attendees have come to expect from the NOVA Open in 2013 and into the future.

Club/Team Convention-Wide Competition
Start looking to your buddies to register for the NOVA Open as a group, team, or club. We'll be instituting a new convention-wide competition this year, whereby participation in any and all events earns points for your club/teammates, with bonus points for high placings, artistic recognition, etc. Expect there to be a nation-touring award upon which each year's winning Club/Team will be inscribed annually, as they maintain control of the award until returning it each following year. There may also be some financial incentives for coming as part of a "full" team (current estimate is a full team will be 20 attendees from the same club/team), cutting rates off each attendee, or even possibly giving a member of the team a free hotel stay!

There's more to come on this and more, suffice to say we're working on a number of things to solidify the NOVA Open for 2013 ... we'll be focusing less on dramatic expansion of attendee size, and more on fleshing out all of the other events and structures we began in the last couple of years ... better and more polished GT missions and presentation ... bigger and better Narrative and side 40k events ... bigger and better Warmachine, Fantasy, Infinity, and Flames events ... and a wider presentation of Seminars and convention-wide connectors to bring players from ALL game systems into closer concert and contact, and into mutual competition across multiple event styles and systems.

I'm excited about it already, and can't wait to see everyone at NOVA 2013. We'll be pushing registration start date back a little bit this year; anticipate February 1. We will also have primer missions, finalized schedules, full event rules and FAQ docs, and all sorts of other things all finalized BEFORE registration starts, so you'll know exactly what you can purchase, when it will happen, and what's going on before investing your money and committing to your travel plans.

Final note - anyone who is interested in volunteering for all or a portion of the NOVA Open, for things ranging from making movies to playtesting game systems and missions to judging events ... let us know! Volunteers will have the opportunity to help us raise thousands of dollars for charitable causes, and local volunteers will be given the opportunity to visit such charities and share our time and our hobby with those in need.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In Pursuit of Higher Goals

I'll be posting in only limited quantities this week, as I run to a million appointments dealing with a sports injury. Well, as I crutch to a million appointments.

The NOVA Open has spent several years developing itself as an excellent event at which to enjoy our shared hobbies. We'll continue to develop it toward that goal for our attendees as we move forward.

That said, the NOVA Open as an organization will shortly be formalizing itself toward a higher set of goals. We've established an executive board to manage the Open as a whole, and will be working toward formalizing as a charitable organization (the exact type is still in discussions based on our nature, gross revenue vs. cost, intents, etc.).

The long and short, and the exciting part I wanted to share in advance, is that the NOVA Open will be MORE than just a formalized LLC whose purpose is to break even and play games each year. Everything we do will be directed toward generating revenue for and donating volunteer hours to charitable work, and the betterment of the world as a whole. We're busy behind the scenes looking for two primary targets for this evolving goal - early candidates focus on children (perhaps Children's Hospital in some capacity), and our nation's servicemen (perhaps Wounded Warrior in some capacity). While the NOVA's organizers and staff have to date not made any money for themselves, any NOVA profitability in the future will be directed toward charity, and not personal financial success.

Just an early heads up about how the event we've all spent so much time organizing, talking about, and attending will be evolving in the future. We hope to become a meaningful agent for change and good outside of the simple nature of the event and our hobby. I'd like to thank you all in advance for inherently being a part of this ... both in helping us get to where we are, and in helping us contribute to higher purposes in the future.

Friday, October 12, 2012

BFS Quick Battle Recap

So here's the final list I took to the Battle for Salvation, packet form I gave to my opponents:

And here's my psychic power and spawn tracker:

Here's the tournament packet, if you want to keep up w/ what the specific missions were:

As a general rule, my power rolling was to go all Biomancy on the Swarmlord and 3 Tervigons, then roll Telekinesis on the Zoanthropes until I got 2 iterations of Telekine Dome, and then immediately finish off with Biomancy on remaining Zoanthropes.

This worked out really well, and in every game I was able to get at least one telekine dome (2 in all but one game), and had plenty of instances of Endurance. Also, Swarmlord got Iron Arm in every single game, which was huge (but also more likely than not to happen over a small sample set), and the Tervigons GENERALLY got Iron Arm and/or Warp Speed, both of which were helpful.

I made a late change to the list to get Crushing Claws on the Tervigons, and this was one of the best things I could have done, turning them from Gaunt spawners and tarpits into genuine killing machines. There were a couple of times where I combined Warp Speed with Crushing Claws to throw 8-10 attacks on the charge w/ the Tervigons, and would often give Warp Speeded Tervis Preferred Enemy from Swarmlord.

Onto the quick recaps (very quick, sorry, some hazy and all that).

Round 1, against Tyranids:
His list was
2 x Dakka Flyrants
2 x 2-power Tervigons
2 x 20 Hormagaunts w/ Furious, Poison
2 x 10 Termagants
Doom of Malantai in a Pod
2 x 3 Hive Guard
Trygon Prime

This was actually a pretty bad match for me to start with, and would begin a theme for the event. It was also the kill point round, and my Zoanthropes were a prime target for this.

My opponent went first (this would be a theme for the event), and immediately started swooping up his Flyrants to get dakka on me. He shot at the unshielded Gargoyles where possible and killed a handful.

I started powering up, putting feel no pain and telekine dome on the Gargoyles, and Iron Arm'ing my Tervigons and Swarmlord in order to discourage him from putting key wounds on them early. I also was able to make babies without burning out anywhere. The Gargoyles ran forward, and I got off some shots on one of the Hive Tyrants, who I also Enfeebled a couple of times. He didn't drop, which was sad. Enfeebled to T4, if a Hive Tyrant is grounded and suffers a wound, he dies instantly (S9 grounded hit vs. T4).

I put Feel No Pain and Dome up on the gargoyles, and ran them forward. Their job was to bait forward the majority of his charges, and also put early threat on the Flyrants. I put Parasite in the middle of 30 gargoyles in the middle of the board, hoping he'd charge in with Hormagaunts/Termagants. I was not disappointed.

My opponent elected to send his Hive Tyrants swooping into my backfield to shoot Zoanthropes and put Shadow on my psychic choir. He also deep struck his Trygon Prime near one of my Tervigons. These were, IMO, both mistakes - he could have "hid" his swooprants in my Gargoyles, and been a real pain in the butt for me to properly dig out. He also could have dropped his Trygon Prime a fair bit back, and brought him up to support wherever I started making breaks in his line. He charged one of his Hormagaunt squads and one of his Termagant squads into my center Gargoyles w/ Parasite, but charged through cover to do it.

The Flyrants ganked one Zoanthrope squad entirely, and killed half another. The Trygon Prime wounded a Tervigon (Iron Arm kept me from suffering more than the one). The middle combat was messy for both of us ... the Gargoyles killed a lot of Termagants (working toward a kill point), while throwing a token # of attacks into the Hormagaunts and suffering the pain they were going to bring either way. Feel no pain kept my losses to about 10 models. Telekine Dome doesn't work in CC. Parasite killed 3 Termagants, and 2 failed their T tests. Unfortunately I didn't quite go gangbusters on the spawn roll, so I only generated about 6 Rippers outside the combat. Plenty to start with, but each Ripper squad is also a kill point, so that was a bit of a concern.

In my turn 2, I capitalized on his mistakes and surrounded each of the Swooping Tyrants with several spawned and starting Termagant squads, so that I would maximize my # of chances for him to fail a grounding test. I left both of them un-enfeebled, b/c I had shadow on my army. I spent the enfeeble casts I was able to get off on the Trygon Prime until he dropped to T5, which was sufficient for my purposes.

Both Flyrants took a few hits from each Terma unit and Tervigon that shot at them, and eventually both grounded. This left one with only a wound left by the time saves and grounding tests were taken into account, and the other with 3 wounds left, but near Swarmlord. I pushed forward with the unengaged Gargoyle squad to create an issue in his backfield and draw the attention of the other Hormagaunts, shot a few Termagants with them, and then focused on combat. One Tervigon charged the Trygon and one-shot him with Smash ... Enfeeble to T5 made him vulnerable to a single wound from the Tervigon. Since it had Iron Arm, his Trygon wasn't able to do any wounds to it either way, and Crushing Claws gave me +2, for 5 total attacks on the charge. I had poison and S10, so all I really needed was to get one hit through, and I got several through. Goodbye Trygon Prime.

Swarmlord poked his marginally wounded  Flyrant to death, and a bunch of termagants near a Toxin Sacs tervigon took down his other Flyrant. The game was mop-up from here, with extended combats but no real doubt about the outcome. Eventually Swarmlord would maul a Hive Guard squad and both his Tervigons, though the Tervigons in part was b/c he saw the end of the game and just threw them forward for glory and lolz. One of my Tervigons also burned through the other Hive Guard Squad, which had been forced to throw itself into rippers to keep them from bludgeoning through the central Hormagaunt/Gargoyle combat (they throw a lot of attacks, those rippers do).

Game ended with a near-tabling; he had some hormagaunts stuck in a big combat, and 10 termagants that were off to a far side of the board.

Round 2, against Space Wolves:
His list was
Rune Priest w/ Jaws, Lightning

6 Squads of Drop Pod Wolf Guard w/ Cyclone Chainfirst terminator and double-tap meltas; a couple squads were larger, 7-8 man, and 4 of them were 5-model
1 Squad of Drop Pod Multi-Melta Long Fangs w/ a naked wolf guard attached as a buffer ... Logan went in this rather predictably

This game was odd. Both of us played a little slow, and we only went a couple of turns, but I scored close to 1900 points of his army. Gargoyles and Termagants pinned down and started punching his regular dudes to death; gargoyles and termagants also crossed board at the 3 squads he deployed regularly far away, and got into them / tore them down (telekine dome also helped gank several models from one squad by reflecting fire from other squads). Monstrous creatures including Swarmlord spent most of their time tearing through the Drop Pod wall. This was a major and quick victory ... he shut down basically all my powers with Njal, but my army excels at tearing infantry forces to pieces, especially small model count ones.

Round 3, against Eldar (my Loss):
His list was
2 x 9 Rangers
20 Dark Eldar Warriors w/ 2 Blasters, 2 Cannons, the Duke (3+ poison guy)
Aegis w/ Quad Gun
2 x 3 Guardian Jetbikes
5 Swooping Hawks w/ skyleap and grenade pack
10 warlocks on jetbikes w/ 7 destructor, enhance, embolden
4 power stones seer who swapped to Invisibility
2 power stones seer with fortune and doom

He deployed in a corner, and I promptly rushed up and pinned down 9 of his Rangers and his Jetbikes with Gargoyles and Termagants. On turn 1 I sent half the gargoyles on THAT mission, and the other half to go secure a quarter / objective. It was only after Turn 2 was underway that I realized I'd accidentally moved Parasite up with the objective/quarter grabbing squad. This was incredibly dumb of me, b/c it left the synapse I had controlling and maintaining the "pin" able to be shot down, which he promptly did. Parasite hiding in the combat would have secured it long enough, and would have cost me less synapse. I also should have thrown the other gargs over, and just secured objectives with Termagants, using the Gargs to go behind the screening jetseers once they were pile-in pulled to the other gargs. I simply was tired at this point, and my opponent did what you would expect ... rolled dice until he cleared the Gargs / Synapse, and then jetbiked around to control quarters/objectives. There wasn't a lot of tactical display by either of us, b/c it was just "you're pinned" coupled with "I'm shooting your monsters and zoanthropes with venom and snipers." My opponent, Matt DeFranza, is a rising player and excellent guy ... there's no taking away from either of us that the mission and match-up didn't engender itself toward a lot of skillful play. Runes of Warding kept me from really casting any powers, I did something monumentally absent-minded, and he did exactly what he had to when my mistake led to his list clearing out of "pinned" on Turn5.

I wound up as the top seed of Bracket 2 for Day 2, in a bracket that included 3 very capable Cold Steel Mercs - including US and former UK ETC member Alex Fennell (and NOVA 2012 Renaissance Man, NOVA invitational 2nd-to-one and Renaissance Man, yada yada), equally skilled Cold Steel teammate Sean Nayden.

Round 4, against Necron:
His list was
Destroyer Lord w/ scythe/sempiternal and Mindshackle

Court w/ Abyssal Staff, Veil, Lord w/ Mindshackle x 2

Deathmarks x 5

3 x Solo Tomb Spyders w/ Gloom Prisms
3 x Scarabs
2 x 6 Wraiths w/ various kit (read: some whips)

2 x 18 Warriors (lord went into each, and the veil went into one along with Zandrekh while Obyron went into the other)

This was kind of an odd ball game. It's one of the only games I found time to take a picture of, and I kinda just had to. His plan was rather obvious from the list comparison - shoot me shoot me, tie me down if he can with wraiths/scarabs, and then veil across the board to control my objectives / stay away from combat.

I pushed upfield with Swarmlord, Parasite, and the 2 Gargoyle Squads. I kept zoanthropes moving but out of much firepower range, just so I could keep dome and endurance up on the Gargoyle squads. The Gargs weathered several turns of fire from each warrior squad, but the 5++/5+ kept them alive. Eventually he charged in with Scarabs, Wraiths, Destroyer Lord against each squad in turn, but a combination of volume of attacks, Enfeeble, and eventually Swarmlord led to them all getting smacked down ... same for the Tomb Spyders (Swarmlord annihilates opposing monstrous creatures and mullti-wound critters of various sorts).

In my backfield, I covered almost every conceivable teleportation location with gaunts, leaving him nowhere to go.

He eventually did try to veil some warriors near to his other warriors, to try and clear at least one section of the board, but it was so congested that he ended up mis-happing there anyway. I promptly stuck him in the one open area I'd left (you can see it in the area of the picture slightly up and to the left from center), and Enfeebled the squad to T1 before shooting it and then charging it with a billion gaunts. This killed literally everything.

Game ended with the board controlled and everything well in hand. Up next, Sean Nayden, who'd just beaten up my buddy James' Orks. Ruh roh!

Round 5, against Sean Nayden's Dark Eldar/Eldar Circus of Pain or w/e the heck:
Sean's list is interesting, and is VERY good in his hands ... deceptively so in fact. Well, almost ... I kinda knew I was going to have to take it seriously, b/c Sean's a known force in NE and has beaten some serious competition using the list. After facing Shadows, Njal, Runes of Warding, Gloom Prisms ... I didn't want to face more psychic defense. But of course he had Eldrad, so more psychic defense here we go!

The HQ special character Haemonculus guy

5 Grotesques
8 Harlequins w/ Deathjester, Shadowseer, 5 or so kisses
7 Harlequins w/ Deathjester, Shadowseer, 5 or so kisses

2 squads of 5 Wracks w/ liquefiers
2 squads of 8 Wracks w/ liquefiers
2 squads of 3 Guardian Jetbikes

5 Razorwing Flocks and 3 Beastmasters
5 Razorwing Flocks and 3 Beastmasters


Eldrad took Telepathy and Divination, yielding Invisibility and Prescience, plus some other powers he didn't ever use.

This is a hard game to properly summarize. Effectively it was punch/counter-punch. Sean would reach out and smack one of my units with one of his, then I'd overwhelm it in return with one or several of mine. Almost all of his units were vulnerable to me throwing poison-buffed gaunts at them coupled w/ desperate casts of Enfeeble through Runes of Warding. This helped me largely blunt his attack on one flank with Invisible beastmaster squads and wracks / talos / etc. The gaunts kept his Talos from fully engaging (I assume), and I blunted the full impact of his Razorwings early by enfeebling a squad and subsequently forcing it to go to ground to avoid ID from termagant shots.

Gaunts also were able to shoot / charge to kill a couple of his big advancing wrack squads (the two smaller squads went to take backfield objectives).

He pummeled parasite's squad w/ a pair of guardian jetbike units and one of his Harlie units, and made a mistake early in not properly hiding his other Harlie unit at midfield. This resulted in using my second gargoyle squad to clear it, and late game I was able to mass-spam down his jetbikes and the harlies that beat up Parasite with termagant fire and the like.

Twenty four gargoyles at midfield coupled with a MAJOR mental error on Sean's part to force his big Grotesque/Eldrad/Haemoncudude squad to chase it down in midfield. This brought his unit into the "dead zone" and meant his last big surviving Quarters controller was stuck in an area where it didn't give any points, punching Gargoyles to death.

I found out on the bottom of my last turn why he did this - he mixed up missions. He'd beaten his previous opponent on the secondary - Quarters - and so made the mistaken assumption that Objectives (which he had won at this point, as I wasn't playing for it ... and as he simply had it won lol) was now the mission he had to win (you can understand how a tired brain would make this logic step). With time called and the last turn wrapping up, it was a simple matter of shuffling points for me to control the game.

This game also showed the issue I discovered with running my Tyranid army in a tournament setting - it takes too long. Combat is very lengthy in this game, with multiple pile-in moves and lots of rolling by both players. Sean and I both had combat armies full of models, so the game was very exhausting and time-consuming.

AT the end of 3, he had 4 harlies, 5 razorwings w/ 2 beastmasters, a wounded chronos and 2 Talos, plus the Grotesque/Eldrad unit. I had around 80 total termagants, Swarmlord, 3 Tervigons, and 6 Zoanthropes. It woulid have been a big ole messy battle if it kept going, though I have a hunch the nature of termagants vs. non-vehicle targets would have pushed things in my direction eventually (with Eldrad's invisible unit punching things all game and me trying to pin it down, simultaneously gaunts and tervigons clearing up taloses and razorwings and such and controlling objectives/ quarters). I didn't have an easy way to outright kill his grotesque unit, but I had a lot of models to pin it down with.

Either way, this one became an impossible game to figure out - I'd been playing for Quarters, and so wasn't overly worried about Objectives. Sean had been playing for Objectives, and so wasn't overly worried about Quarters. It was like we were both playing a totally different tournament, and both of us won the thing we were playing for. I just happened to be the one who remembered the mission correctly among two mentally exhausted opponents. Pre-game we had a fun stare-down, and until we got tired the game itself was a hoot full of hilarious commentary. My hat's off to Sean, and I was glad to sneak by him ... pre-game I said and meant - I really, really want to play you ... I don't want to play your army! I was sick and tired by then of not getting to cast any powers for 4/5 games, and having my offensive powers canceled on 4+'s in the last :)

Round 6, against Alex Fennell's Pink Necrons/Grey Knights:
Alex's list was:
Zandrekh, Catacomb Command Barge (that Obyron would steal)
Mindshackle Lord, Pulse Cryptek, Abyssal Staff Veiltek
Inquisitor w/ Psycannon/Terminator Armor

5 Immortals w/ Tesla Carbines, Nighit Scythe (Abyssal Staff veiltek went here)
5 Warriors (Pulestek went here and shot from a back objective)
10 Immortals w/ Gauss Blasters (Zandrekh, Obyron, Mindshackle Lord all went here)
5 Grey Knights w/ Psycannon

3 Scarabs
6 Wraiths w/ several Whips

2 Tomb Spyders w/ 1 Prism
2 Tomb Spyders w/ 1 Prism
Dreadknight w/ Heavy Incinerator

This game was a little wonky. I was exhausted, and made a lot of forgetful things that Alex generally let me correct (i.e., I just moved that unit here but kinda want this one model here, is that ok?) I did not go back phases or anything, but was a little embarrassed. Alex also forgot a thing or three (i.e., moving Obyron into position to attack the wrong unit), and we both were considerate about letting us takeback pretty much across the board.

Alex's list doesn't look as good as it is to passersby ... it's very effective, and he uses it correctly. My gameplan was to force him to commit his Dreadknight, Scarabs and Wraiths into my Gargoyles, and kill them via tarpitting and Enfeeble, freeing up gaunts and Tervigons and Swarmlord to cross the field and control the board. This ... more or less worked, though a little more painfully and close call than I really wanted. I also again made a mistake about which squad I put Parasite in, leaving him stuck dodging challenges in the squad that got assaulted by the Dreadknight.

Basically, Alex shot me when and where he could ... I protected myself with buffs ... I wound up stuck in the middle of the board in half-mindshackled, half-lord-challenged combat with Swarmlord vs. the 10 Gauss Blaster squad w/ Zandrekh and co unit. Iron Arm kept Swarmlord from instant deathing himself w/ the Bonesabres. If he hadn't rolled that power, it would have been a very quick game over I think.

Several things happened that were long odds late for both of us. At one point, gaunts charged Enfeebled Wraiths that were reduced to T2. They inflicted 12 wounds at S4. He made all 12 saves, and mowed down most of the gaunts in return (even reduced Wraiths are still S3 or S4).

At another point, a Tervigon made a 9" charge through cover to punch a Catacomb Command Barge to death. This was simultaneous with 9 gaunts barely making a charge into the Blaster Immortals that yanked Obyron out of the barge and back across the board. This was doubly useful, b/c it took a major threat to my backfield out of play for the time.

I also made a key charge to "hold up" the combat w/ the wraiths and scarabs with a unit of gaunts that got something like an 8 or 9 needed through cover. Not getting that charge off would have left a key backfield objective of mine contested at a very bad time.

I killed Obyron when he late-game charged into some gaunts simply with counter-attack / wounds, before he could swing. 8 gaunts managed to get him to fail 3 saves out of 5 or 6 tries (thank you poison aura from Tervigon buddy), preventing him from t hrowing 9 attacks back at them (cleaving counterblow), and punching thruogh combat at just the right time. Nevertheless, Obyron himself promptly stood back up several times.

At the end of the game, Alex perfectly blocked off an objective I NEEDED to contest, forcing a situation where a squad of gaunts basically needed to run 5" to contest it. They ran 5".

This was a close, interesting game ... when the game ended, there were a handful of gargoyles stuck in combat with two tomb spyders and the wounded Dreadknight near midfield. Swarmlord was locked in his eternal challenge/mindshackle-extended combat at the middle of the board with the blaster warrior squad, but a Crushing Claw Tervigon was getting ready to charge into the back, which probably would have led to the squad breaking (Iron Arm makes it hard for Necron to do anything to Swarmlord or Tervigons). I had one of his home objectives contested by a few gaunts, but those gaunts and nearby Zoanthropes were vulnerable to 5 immortals/abyssal + 5 knights/inquisitor.

Surviving models at game end in total =
1 Wraith
10 Immortals w/ Blasters
Zandrekh, Shackle Lord
5 Immortals w/ Tesla
5 Warriors
Lancetek, Abyssaltek
5 Grey Knights
Night Scythe

3 Tervigons
5 Zoanthropes
Maybe 35-40 total gaunts

This was another game that didn't go its natural length due to a lot of models, a lot of combat, and two experienced players.

I feel very good overall about the Tyranids, and I feel great about Battle for Salvation. I wound up scoring well on painting all things considered, finished 2nd in Competitive Score and won Silver Bracket, and placed 3rd/4th Overall (Andrew would be 1st but he won for generalship).

I do feel the Tyranids are a little too combat and movement / run phase heavy to work for their size in a tournament setting. This is a little unfortunate, because I certainly stress-tested the build ... going up against some form of psychic defense in every game, and against the very BEST psychic defense in 4 of my games (Fast Shadows, Njal and 2 Runes of Warding).

I strongly disagree, quite provably, with accusations of Tyranids not being competitive. I also believe infantry deathstars are very questionable at high points investments.

Battle for Salvation was again a well run event. My heartfelt thanks go out to Ed, Danny, Bob, and all the guys who run the show up there for putting on an annually worthwhile adventure. I do feel I miss out on a lot of the socializing and fun I'd like when I play in these things, and always come out of an event wondering if I will move away from tournament play and more toward organizing / helping out as my preferred activity. I might have enjoyed judging / helping them out more than playing a backbreaking series of games with an army that moves and runs and combats far too much! :)

I will say the combination of the NOVA and BFS this year have me evaluating the notion of paint rubrics and scoring, and how to go about working with them in such a way that consistency is easier to achieve. Paint scoring is incredibly difficult as a subject, and I think it's also a subject not well addressed by those of us "in the trenches."

My biggest question orients around stepping back and asking ... what ARE you evaluating about an ARMY ... and what SHOULD you be evaluating? More on these sorts of things in future posts.

Thank you again, BFS ... and thanks to all the great opponents I faced, and the very cool people I got to once again hang out with.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Battle for Salvation - Results, Plus - VOLUNTEER CALL for 2013


This year's terrain days will be few and far between, and we'll replace them with a bunch of volunteer benefits. Volunteers will be involved in gaming opportunities, mini-tournaments, tactics courses, painting courses, terrain-building courses, and other things that non-volunteers won't get access to during the year leading up to the NOVA. We're also working on a much stronger and clearer volunteer program. We need volunteers for the NOVA to work (and we all ARE volunteers), and we're also interested in doing all we can to advance volunteers' gaming and hobbying capabilities and experiences as our way of giving back. Plus there's quite a bit of annually free booze and food! E-mail or to volunteer, and let us know if you want add to the evite for this Sunday's meeting.

Existing volunteers, please e-mail me or novaopen@gmail if you haven't received the evite ... we'll also be giving out AWARDS for this year's volunteers and leads.

Well, it was another great Battle for Salvation, and another great tournament showing by our DC area crew.

Successful showings from our loose group of friends in brief include:
Tournament Champion / Best General by Andrew Gonyo (6-0) with GK primary, IG Allied
2nd Best General, 3rd Best Overall, Bracket 2 Champion (5-1) for me with the Tyranid
3rd Best General, 5-1 in Top Bracket (loss to Andrew) for Tony with Wolves primary, IG Allied (slightly modified from his NOVA list)
Fellow DC group attendees Eric Hoerger (4-2, Bracket 1), James Watkins (4-2, Bracket 2), and Owen Beste (4-2, Bracket 4) also all did very well for themselves. Eric brought Necron primary, GK allied ... James brought pure Orks, and Owen brought pure Vanilla Space Marines w/ lots of tacticals, pedro, and shooty terminators.

Just those alone represent 28-8 by the NOVA guys.

Great job by everyone all around. I was also ECSTATIC to score 8th best army appearance score with an army built and painted in 14 days. That said, I think there were a couple of guys who scored lower on paint score than they probably should have, and I may have been scored higher than I should have!

Discussion on my games, my boneheaded loss to a great opponent, how happy I was to get to play Sean Nayden and Alex Fennell in 2nd bracket, and reviews on the event in general to come.

I've attached the various results pics ... don't know why they won't go right-ways; they are right-side-up on my desktop ... odd.

Photos of some exhausted NOVA folks afterward ...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why KR Multicase Instead of "X" Bag Company?

Hive Fleet Azureus gets its inauguarl game as a finished army in, 10/3/2012
A few people have asked me over the past days why I went with KR for the Nid list over various other bag companies. I took some pictures as I foam'ed everything up last night and thought I'd share in detail why.

I first heard about KR from my buddy Jon. He made a great case for why it makes sense as a hobbyist, and why it especially makes sense if you're likely to have more than just one specific army. I looked into it thereafter, and have absolutely loved the product ever since.

First thing's first about what separates KR from other companies out there.

When you talk to Daryl, the owner of KR, about his product, the first thing he'll tell you is this (I'm paraphrasing, but it's paraphrasing his actual quote):

I'm keenly aware of where my product and I stand on the hierarchy of what's important to hobbyists. The first thing miniature hobbyists consider spending their money on is miniatures. Then, they'll buy paints, and glues, and brushes, and painting supplies. Then, they'll buy rulebooks and codices. Then, they'll buy terrain to play on at home. Then, they'll buy more miniatures, and more paints, and more brushes. Then, they'll invest in supplement games. Then, they'll take care of their now-starving family. They'll go back to their hobby, and probably buy more miniatures. Finally, when they simply have no other choice, if they really feel like it, they'll buy a nice case to put their armies in ... when til now they've happily been using a bin of some sort.

I can tell you, there are bag companies out there whose owners don't have this opinion, and who think their product is not only the most important thing in the world, but you should pay for that status to boot. What makes KR great from the start is the MINDSET of the guy who runs the company. He's a fundamentally good person who understands his product's "place" in the world. Even the name, KR, highlights his nature - the two letters are initials, from the marriage-lost first names of his and his significant other's heritage. He thought it would be nice to honor the fantastic people his and his wife's grandparents were.

Enough gushing about a guy I like, but it funnels down into the product, and here's where we get into the meat of it. KR is safer for your miniatures, and it's cheaper if you have more than one fixed army.

The biggest problem with your typical army bag with loose hard foam trays inside is the inability to really flex armies in and out of it without having tons of loose trays full of miniatures lying around. Additionally, hard foam inside of cases that suffer impact will transfer that energy rather painfully to any exposed bits or tips of your minis, and can snap those pieces off inside the foam. Unlike the soft foam in GW cases, or in the KR system, hard foam is more painful for your miniatures. Regardless, you basically need something to put your hard foam in when you're not using it ... and bag companies who sell it hope you'll buy more and more of their more expensive bags for the more affordable foam to find a home in.

KR Backpack 2 NOVA VIP Loaded
Regardless, even if you want to stick your loose trays somewhere in a bin or a tub (kind of defeating the purpose yet?), you've got to go scouring through your collection finding the pieces you want and then swap them in and out of your existing nice cases. Or, again ... buy new cases.

KR uses a modular system built around affordable hard card cases (and they are hard ... one of my gaming buddies had one accidentally run over by a car ... and it survived, along with the minis inside), inside of which you can have either custom foam (yup, custom foam, more on that later) or more traditional standardized trays. All of the KR products basically fit these hard card cases inside of them - the Backpacks and Kaisers especially, which are soft backpack or shoulder-strap soft cases. The NOVA VIP bag this year was a KR Backpack 2 ... I like them, so I bought one of the VIP bags for myself! You can see it loaded with 2 of the hard cases here.
Kaiser 2 Loaded

Once you have a bag or two from KR, you are arguably DONE purchasing bags of any kind, ever. If you want more, you can buy more, but you don't NEED to in order to store future armies. From that point forward, the purpose of the system is to acquire the MUCH more affordable and and highly store-able / stack-able card cases with custom softer foam protected inside, and fill your various armies into these. Whenever you travel to a tournament or to a local game store or a friend's house, you simply slot in whichever card cases you want to use, and you're good to go.

Miscalculated the room you'd
need? No problemo!
Perhaps most importantly, suppose with the hard foam trays you try to do the same thing. You think, "SCREW THIS SYSTEM, I'm going to use the hard foam and just put it in bins to store when I'm not using it and swap in whatever I want!" Well, suppose the army you put together overflows your existing bags ... SUPPOSE you wind up with a couple of spare hardfoam trays and you don't know what to do with them, and you can't carry them around solo ... well, that's also the cool thing about KR's system. The card cases are fully functional on their own ... they even have handles. For BFS this weekend, I threw all my extra spawnable gaunts and rippers into a 5th card case.

20 Gargoyles and 54 Termagants

Swarmlord/Hive Tyrant, 2
Hoverbugs, Parasite, Tervigon
Customization. When I mention KR to some people, they attempt often to contrast it with the customization options available from other bag companies. I actually think this one isn't a big deal. KR has a smorgasborg of custom foam for all armies and types, and most game systems. Further, they're quite helpful in a way not all customer service givers are in today's world. In the case of my foam, I was able to send my army in, and get a confirmation of precisely the foam that would most fit it, all custom made for Gargoyles, Tervigons, etc. So, I didn't have to hamfistedly shove models into foam block areas that weren't made for them - everything IS custom and properly made, so while you don't go onto a site and design it yourself *quite,* you might as well - the effect and result is quite the same.

This effectively covers the reasons I like KR (besides the fact that they are INCREDIBLY generous when it comes to sponsoring tournaments). There's probably an additional note to be made on the sponsorship front. There are companies who will sucker in a TO with promises of thousands of dollars in sponsorship, and what they deliver is exclusively small-value coupons that take a few bucks off their product IF people go and buy it. This isn't sponsorship. It's marketing at an event for free, and using the misplaced faith of others to get yourself in the door. There are several companies out there who do that to TO's out in the market. Fortunately, at the NOVA, we haven't had to deal with this much ... our sponsors and vendors have been wonderful from the get go! That said, KR is the exact opposite. When they say they'll sponsor an event with $XYZ in value, they provide ACTUAL product. No little coupons meant only to encourage sales, no false promises ... they deliver, and they're awesome to work with. It isn't surprising - using their product and talking with Daryl, you already know you're going to get that before you start.

So long story short, with KR you have soft foam to protect your miniatures ... you have hard cases to protect your soft foam ... and those hard cases are modular to fit in ANY KR carrying case. The solution is the ability to invest most of your case money in more affordable card cases with custom foam for whatever armies you want to have ready to go ... you store your card cases (however many you need) in stacks or wherever, call it your "army library" if you will ... and you slot into only your one or two KR bags the card cases you need whenever you need them. This saves you, in the end, TONS more money for the ACTUAL things you want to spend your money on as a hobbyist (and Daryl himself has the good sense to see this), while also protecting your armies far better than hard foam arrangements tend to.

I took a few closer-up still-bad-due-to-droid shots of my Hive Tyrant, so I'll finish with that. His teeth and eyes and clawbits and other things are all done up better now, as are those parts for the rest of the army.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Noise Marines and Other Quick Hit Reactions - PLUS, Furthering the Case for Forgeworld

Quick hitter here, but Noise Marines are the bees knees. Lots of Noise Marines. Scoring ones.

For their price, their firepower is hard to beat. I expect we'll see at least a few highly successful armies spamming them as their troops choice.

Edit: Lesson in reading carefully - Noise Marines are LESS the bees knees than I thought, b/c they don't come with sonic blasters (and they cost 3 points each to upgrade). Still very potent, however.

Do note - you can't have allied Noise Marine troops, for anyone who mistook that.

Interesting catch by Andrew G, Targetawgs in chat today - Plague Zombie hordes are not happening ... adding up to 25 more models is an option, which plague zombies cannot purchase. They still may be a promising and affordable backfield scoring choice for some lists.

Spawn in squads of 3 may have a lot of value ... 90 points for 9 T5 wounds that move 12" and ignore terrain, while no longer being held up by Mindless rules? Intriguing for some builds.

Havocs with Flakk Missiles are god awful. You're nuts if you invest 175 points in 5 models w/ 4 missiles that are easy to torrent. You're even more nuts if you invest 240 points trying to give them 5 ablative wounds to protect those missiles. Also, 4 S7 shots at 24-35 points/pop effectively is not exactly fun times.

Baleflamer ... holy hell.

Good codex, intriguing ... and a lot of builds immediately relevant even without allies. Let the fun begin (if it hasn't yet)!

Additional Edit:

As we start to break down the dex, the Heldrakes w/ Baleflamers are VERY good. I think you're going to see a much stronger case for the allowance of Forgeworld in varying quantities as a result of this and future dexes - the ability to have more than 1 interceptor AA platform is going to be increasingly important as the game continues to evolve (currently, people can only have one, in the form of fortifications, or 2 at 2k+ points).

Monday, October 1, 2012

Display Boards Quick and Easy

So, I took some pink foam, a few terrain piece type bits that were lying around (And that happened to match what I used for the Zoanthrope hover-assists), and put together a display board.

If I have time, I'll go have framing cut for the sides and back to better protect it. The front will remain as is for effect. I based it with foamcore underneath, so that it can slide around on textured tables and such easier w/out dinging up all the foam underneath.

This was quick and easy to do. As it was glue drying for the foamcore underneath, I mocked out where the models would lie on the dining table, and where the terrain would be, etc. Then I stuck it on the board. As usual, I'm using my droid camera on the fly, so apologies for poor picture quality!

After the display dried underneath, I stuck on the pieces in the appropriate location. Once dry, it was on to base coating and airbrushing.

Airbrushing was easy, and I stuck with dark and simple colors plus some bright spots to make sure it contrasted well with the army (Which it does, though I Fear the pics don't show it well due to stupiddroid).

I wanted to have more than just black and white for the display, and I have a psychic power themed army, so I decided the hoverbugs and monsters would have a psychic "aura" in the appropriate color. I placed them, then bursted the correct areas using an aibrush detail attachment for some poor man's OSL on the board.

Here's placing the big guys back down, to show the point of the blue.

 And here's all the models partying on the board. For display they go something like this. For moving around the tourney hall they jam much closer to the center together.

This sharing is meant for hobbyists like ME - people who aren't great at the artistic side, don't have a lot of time, but want a nice army that people will say relatively nice things about on the tabletop at a tournament or a local game night. You too can have a cool display board and a decently painted army in a very short period of time!

The "14" Project - Hive Fleet Dendrobates

Because the initial inspiration came from Dendrobates Azureus (a species I used to keep and breed in my early 20's during the animal career phase), I'm going with either Hive Fleet Azureus, or Hive Fleet Dendrobates.

I subsequently diverged from the theme pretty wildly, but color choices and decisions not to paint too many drastically different colors when an animal's skin would not change all the time were still factors.

I'm not finished ... the army is tabletop ready for the BFS if needed, but if I have more time this week I have a TON of detail work I need to do, especially on the larger models. It "pops" when it's actually deployed out, so I'm happy with it ... I just have more to do, either before or after BFS.

The "14" in the Project is for ordering, building, and painting an army to a striking color scheme and solid enough tabletop quality in 14 days. This is now mission accomplished. I'm awaiting my KR custom foam for the army, which Daryl was super responsive on. More on that when I get the foam.

I asked Daryl about the foam and gave him the precise #'s of what I'd need on Friday. I'll have them in a day or two direct from England, at a steady rate (my understanding is KR wraps its shipping rates into its box costs, which are still cheaper than some companies /ahem/ ... so there are no big unexpected costs once you check out).

Anyway, here are the WIP shots at present. Again, I consider the army tabletop ready / legal / striking in appearance, but nowhere near a high caliber paint job or "finished" in that I have tons of detail work to pick out.

These models had for the most part not even been paid for as of 14 days ago. Note my droid camera sucks, i.e. picture number one has far more black/grey/white ... the only "blue" is on the actual alien parts, exclusively.

Babymaker Platform - my droid camera sucks, it's black/grey/white with blue on the alien parts only



Awaiting KR Foam and Detail Work