Wednesday, April 26, 2017

GW's Q&A, Playtesters Revealed, and Other Things - Exciting Times for the Community

So GW's announced it earlier than expected - I'm one of the playtesters for 40K 8th Edition, along with folks from AdeptiCon, LVO, and a couple others.

That said, there's really not a lot I can discuss still, at least nothing they haven't already shared. But I will say that in the process of playtesting, the "big 3" US GW cons (AdeptiCon, LVO, NOVA) grew much closer together in terms of the working relationships and friendships of their organizers.

Maybe too close, depending on how you feel about Reece, Frankie, Zach, and I getting all up in Robin Hood's business in Nottingham last year ...

But aside from that, GW obviously (unless you live under a rock) announced the forthcoming next edition of its flagship game, Warhammer 40,000. Furthermore, they shared that we were all involved in the playtesting of the game, and I'll emphasize how much work went into it both off the record and in support of the game we are all so very passionate about.

I can say without equivocation that 40K 8th is definitely the best balanced version of the game I've personally ever played. I really can't say anything more than that, but it's also really fun, and I'm excited to be able to play it with the wider community whenever it releases (nope, they haven't given us a specific release date either).

Per my previous post, NOVA will go 8th Edition if at all feasible, but we can't exactly know how feasible that is until a release date is formalized. In the meantime, it's fun watching the community try to piece together what they think the new game will be like off GW's daily little tidbits. For better or worse ... not quite close yet, folks; give it a bit, enjoy the new info, and get excited about the next rendition of the game. If you can't tell by things like Dreadnought profiles being leaked with T7 and W8, the game's *pretty* substantially different from what you've come to know over the past many editions. Those of us involved in the playtesting are all excited about it, however. It's gonna be great!

It should go without saying, then, that we *hope* it releases by NOVA :) ... and if it does, rest assured all of our mission packets, primer docs, etc. will be as well prepared as I can have them without violating any NDAs or other items. It's exciting times to be a GW fan.

What's ALSO cool is we're zero'ing in on the details of precisely who from GW is coming to NOVA! Not only is Forge World attending and vending, but we could have a ton of GW core staff in attendance, ranging from game developers to authors and community managers. It should be quite an amazing amalgamation of folks to really make the experience for attendees that much more memorable. Long story short, I can't wait to be able to talk more about the new edition.

More to come, but stay tuned to for your best info! Since things started releasing from GW, more than a handful of people have reached out to me bluffing that they were part of "other" test groups or the like, and I've heard all kinds of tall tales about what people say the game will be like that are "testers" who ... well ... aren't. Trust in what GW is releasing - it's going to be your sole best source of info until release, primarily because - as you can tell - they've gone pretty whole hog in being open and communicative with the community again.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Questions Begin: "Is NOVA Going to Use 8th Edition?!" Well ... what 8th Edition?

AdeptiCon, by all reports, was another amazing time. I wanted to attend, as usual, but had to fly out to Vegas the week before for a bachelor party. This is the same reason why I didn't make it to LVO (hard to attend Vegas twice in a month's time, hard to attend Chicago merely 2 days after getting back from another trip). Next year.

Per my last article, and to focus in on it, the Games Workshop design team previewed some potential future game mechanics at AdeptiCon. They also shared that they've interacted with myself, Reece and Frankie from LVO, and the AdeptiCon team to run some of these ideas by us previously. While that's all true, the community went a little wild with it. Based on all the rumors flying about with regard to 8th Edition, the community made the [understandable] connection that "these potential rules being thought about = sneak peak rules from 8th edition."

To be clear, as far as any of us are concerned, there is no new edition announced or immediately forthcoming. There could be, but we don't know [unfortunately] any better than the rest of you. Nevertheless, the announcements and subsequent community reaction caused a mass # of questions to begin to fly our way, all generally asking: "Will NOVA Open use 8th Edition 40k?!"

Well, what 8th Edition? This question has more value than simply the rhetorical side of it. The way we answer depends heavily on variables we have no idea about at this time. Is it going to be a massive change? Is it going to drop in June or August or never? Is there even a new edition? Until these are answered, it's impossible for us to subsequently answer that question when it comes in with any degree of meaning or clarity.

But what I will provide is some rough guidelines to how we think, as a way for people to have a clue how we will try to progress if there is in fact a big something special brewing from GW. I'm not really sure there is, at least not in time for NOVA, but best to be prepared.

1. This happened to us 2 times before, where GW dropped a new edition the summer before NOVA. In both cases, we went with the new edition. That said, in both cases we had at least 2 months to prepare.

2. There's a large difference on the impact on primers between a mild revision like 6th-7th, and a massive change like 5th-6th. How big a change is implemented whenever GW does update the game again will directly impact the time we need and the types of changes we'd need to implement.

3. We aren't going to be able to provide any kind of firmer answer with present information beyond "We're planning for an AWESOME series of 7th edition events, check out your primers for rules." If something changes, we'll be right on top of it, and we eagerly nom up and analyze all the rumors just as much as or more than you guys! We won't be caught off guard, at least no more than anybody else.


Carry on!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Direction of Games Workshop, AdeptiCon Announcements, and NOVA 2017 Updates

I am often reminded that I do not post on Whiskey & 40k often enough.

To be fair, a lot of that is I fell off a fair bit from GW games for a while. Lately, that's changed quite a bit!

First off, some NOVA Open Updates. It's a super exciting year. I say that every year, but it keeps getting more interesting, which is a great thing.

Here are some short-hand highlights in a very random order ...

  1. Games Workshop is attending. Yup. They're promising some really cool things at NOVA, most of which they won't even talk to us about yet. After what happened at AdeptiCon, I'm stoked.
  2. Fantasy Flight Games made the NOVA Open the host of its Star Wars National Championships events for all Star Wars game systems. This includes the brand new and very popular Destiny card game, Star Wars Card Game, Imperial Assault, Armada, and X-Wing. Nearly all events are sold out.
  3. Warlord Games is attending and running a full weekend of Bolt Action, Antares, and Konflict events and tournaments, plus they'll have a vendor booth. That came out of the blue - we're super excited.
  4. We're at around 350% faster registrations than last year. Swag Bags sold out on the first night. SuperNOVA bags lasted 32 seconds. This is enormously liberating for us as organizers - we feel everyone is excited, and we can focus more on prep and quality, and less on haranguing the regulars to sign up earlier than later. Unfortunately, this does mean many of the regulars who sign up later historically will miss out on things like swag bags this year. Semi-bummer. Around 1,000 people are already signed up to attend (compared to roughly 300 at this time last year).
  5. Things that didn't historically sell out quite as fast have done so this year. Seminars are a particularly good example of this. Painting a Bust in Atmosphere, Painting OSL, Roman's Blending School, The Shaded Basecoat Technique are all sold out. Less than 5 spots remain in a large # of others, including Roman's Color Theory, the other Shaded Basecoat Technique class iteration, Building a Display Base, Building a Solid Base, and many others.
  6. People have signed up for a bunch of board game events even already (many / most of which are free).
  7. 40K and 30K excitement are returning to NOVA, it would seem. Compared to last year, most of our registration in those event paths is up anywhere from 100-200%. 30K was capped at 32 people last year, but 68 are already registered across its events this year, with 47/64 spots sold out in the Escalation Campagin. The 40K GT, which typically has slower registration due to the incidence of LVO and AdeptiCon during its first couple months of registration, is nearly at 100 spots already, which is over triple its pace by this time last year.
The Direction of Games Workshop
Last year, right before NOVA, Games Workshop reached out to the organizers of AdeptiCon, LVO, and the NOVA Open. Hank/Greg/Chris, Reece/Frankie, and I, among others, ended up spending a long weekend with them in Nottingham. They recently shared at AdeptiCon that they'd been engaging with Reece, Frankie, Chris, myself, and others from the community, and while there isn't much I can really share, I can say that it is part of a trend they've shown over the past couple years of changing their entire approach and outlook to their community of gamers as a whole.

Whether it's hilarious videos jumping on top of and taking ownership of new and breaking rumor leaks, being the actual leaders in providing first look and early hint information to the community, engaging their fans and supporters for feedback and input, or just being more connected to what's going on in the heads of their consumers ... GW is absolutely crushing it lately in terms of their PR side of the house.

For years, it felt as though the *only* customer they were concerned with was their shareholder-side customers ... a common fault seen when niche or hobby-focused (or really any) companies go public. This certainly cannot be said to be the case lately. Lately, image shares and other things also support that this has been good for them on the public / shareholder front *anyway*, as buzz is on the rise and long-absent fans are returning, while better engagement and better expansion to other media like video/computer games seems to be doing a better job of generating newer customers.

I also think people have an erroneous impression of a lot of the inner workings of GW. Again, I can't really share much in terms of details, but Jervis Johnson is a good idea. I met the man over a cup of coffee while in Nottingham, and was nothing but impressed by his thoughts, words, outlook, and the things he shared. He was not the gamer-hating, crotchety old bugaboo that many (including, at times, myself) have in the past purveyed him to be.

This is mostly just a bit of my rambling thoughts, but I'll simply say that I'm very excited about the direction GW's been heading, both in the tactical sense with regard to their game design choices and releases (Blood Bowl, Age of Sigmar's General's Handbook, etc.) and in the strategic sense with regard to their changing methods and approaches for engaging with the community and taking ownership of how their own consumers see them and interact with them.

AdeptiCon Announcements
I was enthused to hear GW's announcements at AdeptiCon for a couple reasons. One, because it gives me a lot of excitement about what they might announce at NOVA! They don't tell us this sorta thing, so I have no idea if they'll even do any kind of big reveal, but I'm certainly hoping! Two, because the stuff they revealed was overall very exciting. 

To those I chat with regularly, it's no secret that I haven't enjoyed 40k lately. The game today is very centered on micromanaging super units, abusing the psychic phase, adding hundreds or even thousands of free points to your game, etc. I find the very thought of a model with only a 1/36 chance of failing a save just mind-bogglingly dumb, and can't help but feel one of my eyebrows rising in incredulity when those who play such units ardently defend them as good design elements. So, while GW hasn't announced anything as near-term as a new edition, it sure seems from the ACon announcements that they are looking at some hefty changes to core rules mechanics. The very fact that they're at least labbing and talking about these things in the design studio makes me think or at least hope that some kind of meaningful game shake-up is in the future. It may not be something that occurs anytime soon or by NOVA, but at least it's percolating - and this gets me stoked.

Until such a thing happens, however, there's Blood Bowl! I'll be joining a Blood Bowl league Dan Boyd is starting up later this year, and I've got a couple of the new plastic teams sitting at home waiting for me to get around to actually painting them. If I ever have that kinda time :)

I hope to post more as we move forward, especially as it relates to further announcements and releases from GW. In the meantime, make sure to sign up for whatever NOVA events look best to you. It's going to be a helluva big year!