Monday, October 26, 2015

Missing 40K From Back in the Day

I find myself wishing I could play a game of 40K using a mix of the current NOVA missions with 4th and 5th Edition rules and codices.

Anyone else ever feel that way?

Sometimes, when you talk to things like the craziness of 2+ re-rolls or weapons that auto-delete entire units on the roll of a 6, you hear a response of "well, there's been broken stuff in every edition! It took effectively a 2+ re-roll to kill falcons!"

Well, not really. On the falcon example alone, they could be quickly degraded on much better odds (rolling a pair of 5's and 6's would immobilize one, which got rid of a lot of their value), but across the game as a whole in 4th and 5th edition, most things could be killed and could kill. The arms race was far more nascent, a wider swathe of codices could compete (even if they had to min-max to do it), and army construction / the rules in general were more straightforward.

7th has some perks, not least of which is the amazing quality of the models GW is releasing lately, but I am pretty certain I'd find a way to squeeze time into my schedule for a semi-regular hybridized game of 40k a la the above ... taking the best bits of 4th and 5th + complex and interesting missions for a really nice platoon level wargame without a lot of the crazy big stuff and super powers.

In NOVA news, we're getting ramped up with leads now on planning. Most or all of our events from 2015 will be back, and it looks like we'll be adding a Horus Heresy / 30K event track, Imperial Assault, and Armada. Additionally, we'll take the concept of the CME short-run events like Highlander: Quickenings that we tried out this past year and convert them into proper register-able events to ensure a higher chance of a large # of them firing.

Much more than that to come, so stay tuned! Sorry it's been a quiet few months; things are crazy as ever in NOVA prep town.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NOVA Open 2016 Dates Confirmed - September 1 - 4, 2016 - Will You Be There?!

I'll be updating this post with some NOVA Survey outcomes and other things.

Long and short is September 1-4, 2016 = the next, best NOVA Open yet!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Flash Alert on Events Running Out of Room. Plus, Badass Star Destroyers are Badass.

 Some updates for last minute lucies ... grab one of the spots listed as barely left below at http://novaopenstore.com

Seminar #17, OSL & Effects, only has 1 spot left (of 20)
Seminar #30, Painting Faces, only has 1 spot left (of 20)

Several other seminars are down to two or three spots left

Unlike previous years, it will be very hard to "walk in" to any seminar you want ... 92 people presently are registered for just seminars and nothing else, and the # who are doing other things AND seminars is much higher.

Blood Bowl - the Saturday SlaughterDay! event only has a couple of spots left

The 3 Infinity ITS events are basically sold out ...
Friday ITS - 1 spot left
Saturday ITS - 3 spots left
Sunday ITS - 3 spots left

Wyrd's first ever National Championship, head judged by the guy who designed the game, Wyrd's Justin Gibbs, has 1 spot left.
The Capital Carnage Story Encounter sold out, but we opened a few more spots.
Most of the other Malifaux events are sold out or nearly sold out

Warmachine went gangbusters this year, and FFG is sending folks to join us! There are over 100 WM players registered. Hardcore, Steamroller 2015, and Tierany are nearly sold out. The team event sold out, but we were able to one-time up the slots ... and there are only 11 team spots left.

X-Wing is sold out in every event except the Championships. The Championships sold out, so we upped them to 96, but now we're out of room. X-Wing also features one of the coolest showpiece items we've ever built:



The Lord of the Rings GT is ... running out of room. 32 are already registered for the GT, with attendees from England, Quebec, and across the US. Yup, LOTR. Terrain and display features that have been seen in WD and elsewhere by Wright Wargame Terrain will dominate the center of the LOTR gaming area ... should be a real treat!

Last year's NOVA saw around 860 people attend, including what we call "daywalkers" who just show up not pre-registered and snag passes or seminars and the like on site.

As of today, there are MORE than that # registered for NOVA. It's already our biggest year yet ... don't miss out!

For those who aren't straight tourney gamers or seminar takers or speed painting competitors or vendor deal shoppers ... we also have a board game room this year, where you can play any of over 150 board games (Thanks to Atlantis Comics and Games!), including checking them out (ID swap) and going wherever you feel most comfy playing them, or picking up games with friends or strangers in the board game room itself! This'll be active all con long.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Free Lounge Chats @ NOVA with Wyrd, Privateer Press, Hawk Wargames, Corvus Belli, Cool Mini or Not, and More

We're VERY, very excited to be joined this year by lead designers, reps, and more from numerous parent companies of the games we're hosting, including:

Malifaux
Warmachine/Hordes
X-Wing
Dropzone Commander
Wrath of Kings
Dark Age
Infinity

Many of these folks have also been kind enough to volunteer their time for free industry chats and personal time with fans in the Charity Lounge, and will be around the con throughout the weekend.

For free lounge talks, see the schedule:
http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/NOVA-OPEN-2015-Schedule.pdf 

Times for parent company reps/designers/etc ...
Thursday 9PM - 10:30PM: Cool Mini or Not
Friday 2PM - 3:30PM: Dropzone Commander
Friday 7:30PM - 9:00PM: Wyrd Miniatures (Malifaux, including Justin Gibbs, Aaron Darland, and Mason Crawford)
Saturday 5:30PM - 7:00PM: Privateer Press (WMH)
Saturday 9:30PM - 11:00PM: Corvus Belli (Infinity)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Adding a Little Fun to the NOVA Invitational

8/13 Update - BRACKETS!
http://challonge.com/NOVA15

Make YOUR Predictions!


This year, we're hosting our 5th NOVA Invitational for 40K.

We wanted to spice things up, so it's a little different this time around.

First and foremost, it's an Elimination/Knock-Out Event. This was actually done mostly for Invitational players themselves, who tend to not enjoy 5 rounds of 40k if they lose one or two early when they have another 8 to go in the GT during the same weekend. So, we've changed it - you're either still in it to win $1,000, or you're in the clear. Those who wish to still play more games against top tier opponents will have the freedom, tables, and even events (in the form of Highlander Quickenings) to do so with.

Next, we canvassed the global community and involved more folks in making the event back into a true Invitational. The original event was, but in the interim years it's become more of a haphazard qualifying system, whereby you could be invited if you won a major event of some kind. The hiccup here came when players who won events could not attend at the last minute, resulting in us scrambling for whichever subs we could find. Instead, we took the sum total of a players' efforts into account, canvassed the West Coast and other locations for inputs on who the top players of the times are, and reached out for those who were well-qualified, interested, and - importantly - able to actually attend.

Finally, we seeded the field and are creating a bracket on Challonge.com
The community as a whole will be able to see players, their chosen Factions (army lists will remain secret until go time), and their seed / first round opponents / bracket path, and participate in a bracket challenge. The seeding was done poll-style by a combination of myself, Neil Gilstrap (11th Company Podcast and this year's NOVA 40K and Invitational Head TO), and Reece Robbins (head of ITC, Frontline Gaming, LVO, BAO, etc.).

Since the event is single elim, 5 rounds, with 32 players of roughly equal skill in a dice-based game, seeded pairings don't have much of an impact beyond that already incurred with random pairings (the only alternative). Taking this course adds more interest to the Invitational, and enables the community at large to participate by submitting bracket selections and the like.

We'll be revealing the brackets and the seedings shortly, but here's this year's finalized Invitational Roster, in Alphabetical Order:

1. Aaron Aleong
2. Alan Bajramovic
3. Aidan Barkley
4. Sean Barkley
5. Ben Cromwell
6. Werner Born
7. Chip Boyd
8. Justin Curtis
9. Tyler DeVries
10. Max Dubois
11. Alex Fennell
12. Jared Friedman
13. Frankie Giampapa
14. Alex Gonzalez
15. Doug Johnson
16. Tony Kopach
17. Paul McKelvey
18. Nick Nanavati
19. John Parsons
20. Zach Pawlikowski
21. Brett Perkins
22. Dallas Rapoport
23. Julio Rodriguez
24. Nick Rose
25. Matt Schuchman
26. Todd Silber
27. Evan Slagle
28. Ron Smiley
29. Mike Taylor
30. Brad Voorhees
31. James Watkins
32. Jim Yeh

Who do YOU think will come out on top this year?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why Haven't YOU Signed Up for NOVA Yet?

Biggest year yet already, by far, and registrations are still flying off the chain.

Also, it's our first year of really adding more and more stuff "just for your con pass," including nearly 150 check-out-able board games and a board game room, an embellished charity lounge, a bunch of magic stuff, more open gaming than ever, and "just really cool stuff" around the halls.

For example ...


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Limited Edition Gaming Mats at NOVA; Free Shipping F.A.T. Mats at NOVA (by Frontline/Tablewar)

Couple of Mat notes and some REALLY AWESOME artwork ...

You can still preorder F.A.T. Mats for pick-up at NOVA from novaopenstore.com, saving you the cost of shipping. F.A.T. Mats are produced by Frontline Gaming / Tablewar.
Presales end on August 20 and you CANNOT purchase them on-site

Additionally, the NOVA has a couple of limited edition NOVA Open tagged mats that were crafted for this year in X-Wing and Magic: The Gathering. As of now, these can ONLY be acquired on site at the NOVA and will only be available in limited quantities!

Magic: The Gathering; art courtesy of former NOVA Intern Andres Jiminez; mat courtesy of Ebenezer's Emporium:

 X-Wing: Art and mat courtesy of Ebenezer's Emporium:

Friday, July 31, 2015

NOVA 40k - Final Draft Highlander, GT/Invitational Primers; FAQ

We usually miss something, so let us know if and what we did :)

This covers how to prep your 1500 points for Highlander Quickening events at NOVA, and it also covers the Invitational/GT primer, plus the 40K FAQ (finally updated, thanks to enormous work by Chip, Neil, Phil, Jesse, and more).

We are getting VERY close to NOVA and there's so much awesome going on with it this year. I'll hope to update soon.

A Newsletter goes out tomorrow; it'll take us maybe a day or so to get website links all properly connected and updated. It's been a doozy of a year!

GT/INVITATIONAL: http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015-40K-GT-Invitational-July-31-Primer.pdf

HIGHLANDER: http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015-Highlander-Draft-Primer-Link.pdf

FAQ: http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015-NOVA-FAQ_Draft.pdf

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Charity BBQ Update - Address, Parking, Weather Contingencies, Extras, ITC Points Request - ALL Proceeds Supporting Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Hello All,

The Charity BBQ event is only a couple of days away, and we have a healthy turnout expected.

The address is:
1249 Kensington Road
McLean, VA 22101

This *IS* a personal residence - backyard BBQ by nature requires backyards!

Parking:
There's a very limited amount of driveway parking
There's fairly extensive "street" parking a bit of a ways down Kensington Road
There's extensive strip mall / shopping center parking across Route 123 from the event

Park in the areas with red circles on the pic to the right.

Weather Contingencies:
The current forecast is iffy for a clear and sunny day.
As with our last outdoor tournament, the gaming tables will all be covered, protecting us from a sprinkle or quick shower.
If there's likelihood of a thunderstorm or two getting in the way of fun, the homeowner has graciously agreed to bring the tourney "indoors" and have kind of a crazy house party tournament. There's plenty of comfortable space either way.

So, the event will happen rain or shine.

Extras:
Several of the organizers are musicians and will be playing through a fun set at lunch. No promises of quality, but live music!
Corn Hole and Bocce will be available for non-players to enjoy themselves.
Beer, non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, and extra burgers/dogs will be available at a small cost toward charity.

Prizes:
There's about $250 in miniatures available as prizes for each system!

Remaining Spots:
Each event is a lil over 2/3rds full, so we're expecting around 30-40 total gamers at present, along with another 10-20 non-playing attendees. This leaves room for any late joins - just head to http://novaopenfoundation.org/?tcp_product_category=event

Tournament Packets:
40K - http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/July-18-Charity-BBQ-40K-Tournament-Packet2.pdf

Malifaux - http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/July-18-Charity-BBQ-Malifaux-Tournament-Packet-FINAL.pdf

We'll be working to set up on Friday - anyone who feels like helping and then joining us for a few beers afterward, let us know!

Reminder that morning check-in begins at 8AM, with dice/cards beginning at 9AM. Look forward to seeing everyone there!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

NOVA Charity Army Raffle is LIVE! Most Gorgeous Forces Yet, from Two of the Newest Codices!

The global consortium of miniature figure artists who work on the NOVA Open Charitable Foundation armies each year outdid themselves. I'll let Dave Taylor and the rest say it themselves best with this little link:

http://novacf.blogspot.com/2015/07/nocf-2015-charity-army-raffles-are-now.html



Go support the awesome cause of Doctors Without Borders by buying raffle tickets today.

We draw the winners at the NOVA Open every year, this time on Sunday at the Awards Ceremony on September 6. That said, you don't need to be at NOVA to win - a fact I fear always gets overlooked by a handful. Our first year saw us ship an army all the way to Tasmania, for instance.

These armies don't come just "As is," though you'd think that'd be enough. They also come in custom KR MultiCase with limited edition tagging, bagging, and badging ... one of a kind cases to go with one of a kind armies. Plus - who doesn't want new figures for the super sweet new Marine or Eldar codices?




Monday, June 22, 2015

40K GT / Invitational Final Primer -- Same as Charity Tourney Missions/Format

http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015-40K-GT-Invitational-June-22-Primer.pdf


After a lot of work, getting married, going on a honeymoon, etc., and with a lot of help from 40K GT/Invitational leads Neil and Phil, we've got this thing ready to go for helping people make final prep.

The final mission packet in the guidebook will pull missions from the 4 rounds (repeating each twice). These will also be from where the missions are pulled for the Charity Tournament on July 18. Sign up for it, spots are running out!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

JULY 18 Charity BBQ Registration Open - Details and How To Register - Also, LIVE MUSIC!

32 x 40K spots (missions and format pulled from http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015-40K-GT-Invitational-June-22-Primer.pdf)
16 x Malifaux spots

Several of these are already gone, these events will both sell out very fast

$30 will get you just entry
$40 will get you food, bev, and entry (much cheaper than procuring it solely on-site)

Do the $40

This is done as a donation to the NOCF for its supported charities. You make the donation, we welcome you!

Address will be provided to attendees in our packet once finalized, as this is a Backyard BBQ Tournament. It will be in McLean, VA, just off 123 in McLean proper.

Schedule:
8AM - 9AM check-in
9AM - 12PM Round 1 (Both 40K and Malifaux)
12PM - 1PM Lunch
1PM - 4PM Round 2 (Both 40K and Malifaux)
4PM - 430PM Break
430PM - 730PM Final Round (Both 40K and Malifaux)
730PM - 800PM Clean-Up
800PM - 830PM Awards/Thanks

We'll probably designate an after party bar in the Tyson's or similar area nearby, but this will be informal

HOW TO REGISTER
The NOCF site is a bit under construction in advance of their coming Army Raffles, which are gonna be super awesome this year.

http://novaopenfoundation.org/?tcp_product_category=event

You can see the events there

Until account creation is fixed, you'll want to send money via paypal to novacharities@gmail.com
Please indicate in notes whether you are sending your reg fee for 40K or Malifaux

It is highly likely there will be some form of live music at least during game breaks. We'll probably have things like cornhole, ladder ball, and bocce as space permits. Bring your significant others and what-not!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

NOVA Quick Hit Updates - Show Mini Pre-Orders Up; 2 Weeks Until Pass Early Bird Price Goes Away; 40K Army Construction Changes

First, the really badass NOVA Open Official Show Miniature is now up for pre-sale on the site. We'll close down pre-sale on July 1, so get it while you can. We'll have a few for sale at the show, but supplies will be strictly limited. Pre-ordering is the only way to guarantee getting them. You can order as many as you want, if you want to get some for your friends / etc., so long as you make your pre-order on or before July 1. The detail came out SUPER awesome on these guys, as we've got a few early casts in hand from Prodos. A few of the more talented local painters are working up a few to help show off the deets with a good paint job.

You can pre-order them from this link, picking them up at the NOVA Open proper.


Second, the Convention Access Pass that is the primary attendance item for the NOVA remains at the $40 early bird rate ONLY UNTIL JUNE 15. You must acquire it on or before that date in order to avoid a $10 higher rate. There are also a shrinking number of Swag Bags left, which are one of the cooler things at NOVA, and they go first come first serve to CAP purchases.

Finally, army construction amendments are finalized. The primer will update very soon (being worked by Neil Gilstrap and the rest of us 40K guys presently), but this is pulled from the Newlsetter that went out yesterday.

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 mvbrandt@gmail.com 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.

video

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.
http://bloodskullsfire.blogspot.com/2013/07/omg-what-awesome-weekend.html

You can help us out by e-mailing mvbrandt@gmail.com 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 ... http://thepaintingcorps.blogspot.com/2010/03/adepticon-2010-sabol-diorama.html

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.

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

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:
Detachments
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).

Missions
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.


Thoughts?

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: http://www.elphilo.com/2015/04/huzzah-hobbies-road-to-nova-open-2015.html

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!





Schedule:
Signups
Now until May 16th
Mission:
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
FINALS
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 Warriorshttp://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

Rules – We’ll be using NOVA Open Rules, Army Construction, Missions and FAQ. Rules, Army Construction and Missions can be found here: http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015-40K-GT-Invitational-Draft-Primer.pdf

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.

AND A NEW TRACK

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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Updated 40K GT Missions and Army Construction Formalized

Newly updated missions, inclusive of a suggested Playtest and Feedback mission amendment.

Highlights of the Mission Changes include removing the overly complex Comparative Missions from 2014, and simplifying Secondary Selection to a static pool of Secondary Choices that remain the same for every round (as opposed to having to study and analyze a new set of Secondaries every round).

Additionally, army construction updates are inclusive within (though not substantially or meaningfully changed from that most recently posted here).

http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015-40K-GT-Invitational-Draft-Primer.pdf

Please note: if you opened this recently on chrome/etc., you might want to refresh. If there is a large red font paragraph explaining the dated nature of the missions, you're looking at an old doc and need to hit the refresh button.

We have also made updates to the FAQ already, but will withhold from constant updates until we do a comprehensive one on April 1. At that point, the FAQ should be finalized until new releases force new FAQ answers between now and the usual 30 day window for the GT.

Please continue to provide feedback, especially on the Missions.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Draft FAQ - NOVA Open 2014 40K GT

http://www.novaopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015-NOVA-Open-Warhammer-40K-GT-Draft-FAQ.pdf


Follow the link :)

Special thanks go out to the large number of community folks who got involved in putting this together; as with every year, the NOVA Open FAQ is a community-generated document, rather than a single-user brainstorm. Thanks also go out to the many other major FAQ efforts out there that help drive identification and resolution of the many different questions that can arise within a game of Warhammer 40,000.

What hasn't been answered? What do you have questions about? What is worded poorly? What do you like?

Feedback and questions welcome, here and elsewhere.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

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

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

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

Here's my $.02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's use a visual aid here:



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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