Friday, May 21, 2010

A Wheek Without Whiskey - Well, Maybe for Ya'll

Well, it's time to head to a week at the beach, a much-needed vacation, with 16 of my closest friends.

Some may think that 29 (I'll turn 29 this coming Tuesday) is too old for a week at the beach, and to them I say ....


Proving their point admirably.

So while I'm frolicking in the water and waves, enjoying our massive beach house with its pool table, Foosball table, pool, hot tub, elevator, and other accoutrement ... au re voire, blogosphere.

While I'm away, ponder this addendum to my [unexpectedly] wide-read post of just before this ... The fact that it is not your opponent's responsibility to make sure you have fun does not mean I personally practice, nor advocate, a playstyle that eschews concern for your opponent.

In fact, let me take a page from my own old book and quote the great athlete Jesse Owens ...
"In the end, it's extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don't win, how can you lose?"

It's important to note that you must reconcile your own actions with yourself - if you are not a truly sporting person with the real heart of a champion, you deserve very little out of your gaming experience. Regardless, the great champions of old never sneered in retrospect at their opponents - inglorious or otherwise.

When someone throws sand in your eyes, unsportingly, do not return the favor - most importantly, do not return the favor after the bout. Beat them anyway, and pick them up off the ground when you're finished, even if they spit in your face as they do so. To win is one thing, but to win and be grand is another altogether.

My post prior to this was a message from my opinion on what you should EXPECT from others - nothing. Take what they give you, take them for who they are, and be your own person. It's not a lesson on how YOU or I should behave, but on how to best insulate your own happiness from the predations of nefarious others.

Consider it in that light, while I enjoy a light beer.

I'm kidding. Fuck light beer.

- Mike

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Social Contracts and Needs In Wargaming Between Strangers - How to Behave at a Tournament, and Other Thoughts

I was reading a post or two over at MKerr's blog, He reminds me of some other players I know in that I believe we are probably very similar PERSONALLY, but are very different in what we EXPECT out of other players - especially strangers.

The Concept of Needs, and Emotional Maturity

All of us need things in life. We need food, we need water, we need breathable air. Needs are variable ... and sometimes they are just "wants," but it's important to note that emotionally, needs are pretty flexible, and immensely different from person to person.

Some people need to be loved, others need to be respected, others need to be treated as if they are awesome, etc. When these needs are not fulfilled, negativity results - people feel unfulfilled, unhappy, angry, sad, a variety of emotions that most human beings do not wish to reside in (with exceptions ... let's avoid the exceptions for now, as this is more a lead in to a discussion about gaming, than a discussion about psychology).

It is of paramount importance to note that I believe expectations are not the same as goals or needs. You have a goal to have fun, you need people to behave a certain way toward you, but you CANNOT claim emotional maturity while simultaneously EXPECTING other people to fulfill your needs, or behave a certain way toward you. This is fundamentally true - not everyone's needs are the same, and so there is no set "way" for a person to act toward others that is "acceptable" and fulfilling of everyone's needs universally.

Instead, it is everyone's responsibility to be authentic to themselves, to be true to themselves, and the responsibility of those they interact WITH to decide whether or not they fulfill acceptable needs.

To wit, you meet an attractive woman at a bar, and you get her number. You're clearly attracted to each other, and there was some positive chemistry. You get together a week later for dinner, and find out that she's a liberal and you're a republican getting ready to run for senate; she hates black people and you believe everyone is Homo sapiens, period, no sub-species; she likes base-jumping and sky-diving, and you have a fear of heights. What will you do? She's hot, she's still into you (b/c she's not an authentic person, presume), she'd totally be your girlfriend. Should she be? Of course not, you are all thinking ... it obviously isn't going to work, you are fundamentally in disagreement on major issues. You need a supportive, non-racist girlfriend who enjoys keeping her feet on the ground.

OK, so let's take it a step further back, and you'll start to see where I'm going with this. You're single, you want to date, you have an interest in girls who don't enjoy dancing. You're also extremely allergic to techno music. It causes your hair to stand on end. Will you attend a techno club looking for girls? NO YOU WILL NOT. Furthermore, if you were to, and were to loudly proclaim the terrible nature of the music and wonder why they won't turn it off for you ... you're just about the biggest retarded, immature dick out there. Seriously.

Let's segue to gaming.

You go to your local friends' house for your weekly gaming group. Ever since you first went, everyone has taken really casual, laid back, helter-skelter battleforce-style army lists, and everything has been well painted. The group enjoys drinking a few brewskis, and you meet up beforehand at the local dive restaurant to bullshit, laugh, and set the mood for a fun night of 40k. Upon returning from the dive restaurant, a "new guy" one of the other attendees decided to bring places down his spray-primed army of power cheese doom. He complains that he can't really ever make the restaurant b/c it unsettles his digestive system to eat anything other than broccoli, and kindly asks you all to not drink in his presence, because he's vehemently against alcohol. In game, he rules lawyers everything, punks your casual list face in, and criticizes your painting while rambling about how great his army will look "when he gets around to it."

Will you invite him back? Of course not. Your gaming group has a clearly established standard, a clearly established social contract. Behave this way - this is why we hang out together, this is what we all enjoy. If you cannot conform to this, don't expect to be welcome!

OK, so how does this compare to your local game store, then? Suppose you the player in the above example want to attend the local game shop. You show up, and check the window - nowhere does it say whether people there drink beers, play with painted armies, are rules lawyers or use power lists or play casually or what, etc. You walk in, and see a bunch of powerful unpainted armies on the tables and people barking and laughing and competing intensely. You walk into the store further, and ask someone for a game. A giant, stinky douchey guy walks up and goes "WHAT'S YOUR ARMY?!?!" "Why, I play footdar! (sorry, dudes, I couldn't help myself)" and he replies with a big grin and "haha, sure I'll play a game, lol, do you mind if I proxy some stuff??" When you say "proxy, what's that?" he laughs in your face.

Aimlessly, starting to feel a little peeved at this dude, you regardless set up on the table ... BUT WAIT, "WE HAVE TO ROLL FOR SIDES FIRST MAN, AND THEN TERRAIN AND MISSIONS AND SHIT, RAR" ... it gets worse and worse. You keep playing.

What is your problem, you retard? Why the hell did you keep going with starting this game? Is it your opponent's fault? Is he a big flaming jerk? Maybe. Is he to blame for you not having fun? NO. You ignored every signal, and kept on walking right into it.

Didn't your geek brain have some giant mental image of this going off every 3 seconds?

NO, it didn't, b/c you're not emotionally mature enough to walk into an environment not comprised entirely of people identical to you. Sorry, it's true.

Your JOB in life, to attain happiness, is to understand what you need and to see your needs fulfilled. It is not the responsibility of others to make you happy. The big fat stinky douche in the above example is not out to destroy your fun - he's out to be himself, quite unabashedly might I say. Good for him. YOU'RE THE REAL JERK if you spend the game pissed off, hating the guy, and talk shit about him for years afterward to your buddies. It was your choice to ignore every sign and retardedly accept the game with him. What did you think was going to happen?

NOW, here you are, wizened by the experience, getting ready to sign up for a tournament.
On the tournament front page, it reads this:

NO SPORTSMANSHIP. NO PAINTING. NO RULES JUDGES WILL BE PRESENT. SATANIC WORSHIP MAY OR MAY NOT GO ON IN THE BACK ROOM. Your prize is a cookie, that the tournament organizer has taken a piss on, to ensure it is contaminant-free (go NH3).

Are you going to sign up and attend? If you do, are you going to be all pissy when your opponents don't practice sporting behavior, are running unpainted armies, and rules lawyer you into the ground with no judge-based recourse? IF YOU'RE THINKING YES, YOU'RE STILL RETARDED.

The NOVA Open is an event with sportsmanship scoring, a detailed (and soon to be far more detailed) set of expectations of opponents, prizes and rewards for people regardless of their competitive finish, PLUS prizes for people doing well on the competitive front, a 3-color minimum painting requirement, and much more. Should you expect someone at the event across the table from you to be your best friend, happily getting along with you in all rules discussions and game chat? THE ANSWER IS STILL NO. You should expect them to follow the required expectations of the tournament, PERIOD.

If you want your opponents to be friends, game with friends. If your opponents turn out to be friendly, and you get along, and could be friends with them - AWESOME, but rest assured that strangers are still strangers, and not all people get along, nor should they be expected to.

Every game has a social contract ... but that varies from game to game, player to player, environment to environment. It's not static, the same for all. Sado masochists should not expect everyone else to be a sado masochist. Straight people should not expect everyone else to be straight. Catholics should not expect everyone else to be Catholic. Americans should not expect the whole world to love America.

Friendly, affable gamers should not expect every stranger at a tournament to be a friendly, affable gamer. Do I personally wish everyone was? Sure. But if I attend an event full of strangers, I'M THE IMMATURE JERK TO BLAME if I'm disappointed when everyone doesn't embrace me as their best friend and amicably solve every single discussion we have.

95% of the people you run into at the NOVA Open I'm sure you'll get along with just fine ... I'd bet my money on it. When you run into that 5% who are just so wildly different from you that you'll never see eye to eye ... for the love of all that is good and kind don't blame THEM for it. You are as different from them as they are from you, and that's NOBODY'S fault.

Your fun is your responsibility. That's why you don't invite the douches back to your gaming groups. That's why what you don't do is invite them back and argue with them / belabor them into changing who they are.

Celebrate differences, and avoid environments full of different and new people if you can't.

My $.02
Loving and being considerate of others is NOT expecting a social contract of them that they didn't sign. You're just as douchey as them once you do.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Odds & Ends ... Travel Woes, Podcasts, Comp Talk, BEACHES, etc.

Ok, so a few things going on ...

First, watched my younger brother gaduate from Nova Southeastern University's Law School yesterday in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I'm sensing a NOVA theme going on ... but it's not at all related to the name of our tournament.

Interestingly, a "nova" refers to a cataclysmic explosion or ejection of gas from the surface of a star, resulting in a brighter star. Or I think that's what it refers to more or less, hearkening back to my physics in HS and college. It comes from the Latin "nova" ... which refers to "new."

I could play interesting word games connecting a word that I use to refer to Northern Virginia to a possible expression of a bright new approach to tournaments and how to run them for the enjoyment and betterment of all ... but I won't (yes, I just did, you're super quick!).

In any event, I got caught at the airport waiting on the crew of our airplane to be ... flown on another airplane from St. Thomas ... and didn't get to sleep until 430 am this morning, and here I am at work pounding out some critical product. Hmmm ... tired.

In any event, some interesting things went on while I was away I guess ...

1) I've been invited to be interviewed on the 11th Company Podcast, which based off my listening so far has a pretty high production value and a wide variety of opinions present. Whiskey and the NOVA are mentioned in the Community section of their 17th cast, which is so far only up on the RSS Feed. In any event, I would check them out ... seems like good stuff, and appear to be based out of South Carolina. I'll be participating in the interview Wed night, but no idea really when it will actually pop up. HERE IS THEIR WEBSITE.

2) Speaking of the Carolinas, I'll be mostly MIA from blogging next week, May 22 - 29, as I'll be with 18 guy and gal friends at an insanely massive and awesome beach house in North Carolina, in the Outer Banks. This is a really nice, snazzy place, as most of us are upwardly mobile / successful working adults/professionals, well beyond the slumming of collegiate beach weeks. As such ... big nice fun snazzy time ... that basically replicates the drinking shenanigans of slummy collegiate beach weeks. *shrug* It'll be great!

3) Here is a link to a discussion of our tournament format with some superficial objections from local posters. I think I do a pretty good job answering them ... but that's largely b/c the objections represent a lot of shallow-think that you still see present in the hobby, from people who are just ... I don't know, angry at Ard Boyz and grey minis and so take it out on any tournament that doesn't have Composition, Funtimes, and Yogi Bear plus Booboo in the title. So I guess instead of the NOVA Open, I should call it the HAPPY FUNTIMES YOGI'S COMPOSITION OF BOOBOO'S BEAR ASS TOURNAMENT OF LOVE AND PEACEMAKER BOMBS. Cool tourney idea, no doubt, but my point here is not to poke fun at these folks - simply to suggest that everyone give more thought to what they suggest AND what they deride. I think the Open has components that actually appeal to these objectionists more than most. Use your brains folks, think really deeply and critically about what you think and feel, and establish positions that are eminently defensible. It can be done, and it grows your approach closer to "right" and less embedded in rampant opinion. I'm doing everything I can to make this tournament appealing to ALL practitioners of a hobby. Give me a chance to, trust that I actually care about all ya'll's opinions ... it behooves me to. The more styles of gaming enthusiast and hobbyist I can appeal to, the more of you will pay me $50 to come attend my event. You see how this works? I get paid to be open-minded and open-armed. I get punished if I make my tournament too narrow in its scope (either with over-the-top hyper-competitive doucheyness, OR with comp-whoring closed-minded "play 40k the way I think it should be played and not how it is written" ... ness).

4) I'm not gonna lie. We have thousands of dollars of stuff to give away, we'll probably be able to add catering (food + beverage, dudes and ladies) to the stuff you'll get at the Open, you're all going to get swag bags, there's going to be a live podcast brews and gaming night the evening BEFORE the Open with "celebrity" match-ups of big-name internet tough guys, and there's going to be a Final Four with everything on the line the day after the Open. I'm going to be "basically" chucking things like Land Raiders helter skelter around the conference hall to random prize winners, so you can win shit even if you don't ... win shit. Our 40k event may fill really soon, but I may open more spots if it does ... our Fantasy spots NEED to fill ... and we are even in talks about warmachine or something. SIGN UP PEOPLE ... I really want to see as widespread and awesome a crew as possible there, I'm going to give discounts to NEXT YEAR'S Open registration to everyone who attends this year, and next year's is going to be EVEN bigger and better, approaching a convention style event. So, seriously ... sign up. Spots will run out, and then YOU can't come ... and that would suck for you. Especially when we sign on even more sponsors and wind up with $6 or $7k in total prizes and swag. Just saying.

5) OH, and I don't make any money on this, we don't. Every single penny we make from registration fees will be spent on one of three things:
a) Catering (free food for you guys)
b) Venue fees (well, not really, that's paid for by now, but you get the point)
c) Prizes and Swag
Unlike probably every other event out there, or most of them at this scale, I basically invest my own money forward each year, relying on your attendance to reimburse me ... instead of over-charging you for what you're getting in order to "fund" my future plans or line my own pockets. So please come, b/c I need to keep the lining I already do have right in my pockets where it belongs ;)

6) A little shout-out to our sponsors so far ... some of them haven't confirmed exactly what they are sponsoring us with until closer in to the event / final registrants list / etc., but these ones are all formally on-board for ... sponsoring :)

And many more are "in talks" (I mean MANY more)

On the fence about the Open? Comment with your questions!
Further thoughts on comp and the reality of being able to build an event that caters to ALL fairly and evenly? Fire away!
Random other conversation or jokes or whatever? Seriously, feed me comments, gratify me! I kid ... kind of.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Entertaining / Annoying Lists to Have to Deal With


Just for the sake of content, I thought I'd chuck down a few lists that I've been fooling around with just for the fun of it ... or for my hobby list.

First, the Blood Pack hobby/fluff BA list I'm working through has reached a more final iteration:

Remember, this list is not supposed to be competitive, just cool ... lots of conversion and kit-bashing work going into it with a blood angel + wolf hybridized theme.


Chaplain w/ Infernus Pistol, Meltabombs

Brother Corbulo

5 Terminators w/ Thunder Hammers, Storm Shields
+ Land Raider Redeemer + Extra Armor + Multi-Melta

5 x Assault Marines w/ Flamer; Sarge w/ Power Fist, Storm Shield
+ Razorback w/ Twin-Linked Heavy Flamer
5 x Assault Marines w/ Flamer; Sarge w/ Power Fist, Storm Shield
+ Razorback w/ Twin-Linked Heavy Flamer

15 Death Company w/ 2 x Infernus Pistols, 2 x Power Weapons, 2 x Thunder Hammers
+ Land Raider Crusader + Extra Armor + Multi-Melta

2 Razorbacks tote the ASM, naturally
Corbulo rides in the Redeemer w/ the Terminators
Death Company ride w/ the Chaplain in the Crusader
Mephiston "flies" behind the raiders

Now, two lists built to "overwhelm" ubiquitous lists like mech guard, with too many durable targets to properly manage during the game ...

Space Wolves
Wolf Lord w/ Thunderwolf Mount, Power Fist, Storm Shield, Saga of the Bear, Runic Armor
(Some people eschew saga of the bear, but this guy is specifically tuned to be able to manage dreadnaughts, mephistons, librarian dreadnaughts, demolisher and vindicator rounds, etc.)

Wolf Lord w/ Thunderwolf Mount, Frost Blade, Runic Belt, Runic Armor, Saga of the Warrior Born

7 Wolf Guard w/ 7 combi-meltas, 3 w/ Power Fists
+ Drop Pod
Lone Wolf w/ Terminator Armor, Storm Shield, Chain Fist
Lone Wolf w/ Terminator Armor, Storm Shield, Chain Fist

9 Grey Hunters w/ Meltagun, Power Weapon, Wolf Standard
+ Rhino
9 Grey Hunters w/ Meltagun, Power Weapon, Wolf Standard
+ Rhino
9 Grey Hunters w/ Meltagun, Wolf Standard
+ Rhino

15 Fenrisian Wolves

4 Long Fangs w/ Missile Launchers + Pack Leader
4 Long Fangs w/ Missile Launchers + Pack Leader
4 Long Fangs w/ Missile Launchers + Pack Leader

This is actually a more "foot" army than some. I eschew the "razorback" spamming wolf armies, b/c they get brutalized mercilessly around these parts ... I don't know if it's the type of terrain we have, or the general gaming in this area, but while they are statistically effective at knocking out transports, eventually armies maul them by turns 5 and 6 ... and that's that. They're certainly excellent on paper, in wide open fields, or against certain opponents.

This list, the wolf lords naturally attach to the Fenrisian Wolves, frost blade guy avoids dreadnaughts natch, whereas the power fist guy can happily go at 'em if he needs to

Grey Hunters support the advance until they are disembarked (which they will be ... they're the only vehicles in the game after all on your side ... your opponent will sadface and use all his fancy anti-vehicle fire on them). The Rhinos can either be used to provide inevitable mid-field cover and los blockage (depending on whether they explode or are simply wrecked), or reserved for later use, or whatever. If you can't keep your wolf lord bubble covered on the way in, you're doing something wrong ... and a turn 2 charge will make a mess. Carefully plan your charge movements / requirements so that when you're done killing something or blowing up a vehicle or two, more than 50% of the squad if obscured just barely, via craters/wrecks/etc., so that it's a pain in the butt trying to eliminate them at point blank range. Long Fangs obviously deploy covered where possible, and shoot at transports all game.


Tyranids ... never really all that fun to play, but this list should overwhelm most opponents. If your monsters and hive guard don't have open field cover, you're doing it wrong. Cover hive guard w/ gaunts and gargoyles, cover monsters behind hive guard, cover gaunts and gargoyles by getting half of each squad strung and barely obscured by buildings/trees/whatever.

Parasite of Mortrex (his movement + higher strength makes him superior IMO for getting a few lucky punks on vehicles and the like than a power-sword-wielding prime) - 160 ... you don't need him for the killing of anything but one more unit that can charge and have a shot at prying open things like chimeras and rhinos

2 x 3 Hive Guard
1 x 2 Hive Guard

3 x Tervigon w/ Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, Catalyst (FNP)
3 x 10 Termagants

20 x Gargoyles w/ Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands

2 x Tyrannofexes with Rupture Cannons (I hate these guys, but in this list you need more than just 3 ranged anti-tank units, or they'll simply be ganked and you'll be banking entirely on charging tanks and punching them, to disembark people, which is fail).

Caveat that I think this is one of the better nid builds, but it is boring to play often ... and slow. I own this army, but am selling it ... largely b/c I don't personally enjoy them anymore, after years of playing and dominating with an awesome, fun nid list.

The key thing to remember for Nids and cover is - even if you don't do squad wrapping shenanigans - INFANTRY models are considered covered/obscured if even their little pinky toe is obscured. So, if a rock that actually is terrain (not just part of the table, obviously) covers the bottom half of a hoof of a gaunt, that specific gaunt is in cover. Since only 50% of the squad needs that, it's not hard for a squad to have cover even with menial things in the way. Since the gaunts can easily obscure some portion of a hive guard, then it's easy to give THEM cover. Since the Hive Guard can easily obscure a carnifex style body's 50% from most angles of fire, it's even easier to cover THEM.

Here's a SAMPLE deployment where everybody has cover from most angles (indirect fire obviously excepted, but you're really not worried about that ... the lead gaunt squads are in area terrain, and your big guys are not vulnerable to indirect fire, at least not vulnerable *enough*).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

So what's the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Mike

Monday, May 10, 2010

8 on the 8th - Initial Lists / Results

OK, so the 8 on the 8th tournament went off on Saturday without a hitch, and everyone - at least at my location - had a great time.

There were some pretty potent lists brought to stress test the primer missions for the NOVA Open (that can be found HERE).

In order to appropriately protect the "details" of their lists in case they want to bring them to the actual Open, I'll just provide the actual units ... no points or excessive gear details.

These are the results also ....

1. Mark Ferek, B.Angels (3-0); 12.11 Rating, 5127/6000 VP, 11/12 Quarters, 5/15 Objectives
3 Rhinos w/ 5-man ASM toting power weapon, infernus pistol, meltagun
10 Man Jump Pack Assault Squad w/ Power Fist, 2 Meltaguns
8-Man Sternguard all with Combi-Meltas
3 Sanguinaries, one with Jump Pack
2 Baals w/ TLAC
3 Preds w/ AC, LC Sponsons

2. Joe O'Malley, B.Angels (2-1); 8.36 Rating; 4657/6000 VP, 7/12 Quarters, 5/15 Objectives
2 x Librarians
2 x Melta/Pwep/Flamer Honor Guard in Rhinos
5 x 5-man ASM w/ Power Weapon, Infernus Pistol, Meltagun in Rhinos
2 x Baals w/ TLAC
3 x Preds w/ AC, LC Sponsons

3. Mark Aksel, S.Wolves (2-1); 8.32 Rating; 5222/6000 VP, 7/12 Quarters, 3/15 Objectives
Rune Priest w/ Chooser, LL, JOTWW
Wolf Guard w/ Fists, Combi-Meltas
2 x Chainfist/Stormshield/Termie Armor Lone Wolves
6x Grey Hunter Squads in Rhinos w/ melta, pwep, banner, wulfen; one squad of 5 (RP), rest of 9
2x Solo Thunder Wolf w/ Fist, Shield
3 x Vindicator

4. Tim Williamson, Tau (2-1); 7.81 Rating; 2627/6000 VP, 6/12 Quarters, 3/15 Objectives
Tim's List and Blog

5. Dave Gonzales, B.Angels (1-2); 4.74 Rating; 2927/6000 VP, 6/12 Quarters, 4/15 Objectives
TDA/SS Libby
TH/SS Terms in Crusader
4 Rhino-bound Infernus/Melta/Pwep 5-man Assault Squads
2 Baals w/ Flamestorms
2 Vindies w/ Siege Shields

6. John Moore, B.Angels (1-2); 4.72 Rating; 4926/6000 VP, 6/12 Quarters, 1/15 Objectives
Reclusiarch w/ Pack, Infernus
Sanguinary w/ Pack, Psword
Multiple non-pack Sanguinaries w/ Pswords
Libby Dread w/ wings, might
3 5-man ASM in Rhinos w/ Infernus, Melta, Pwep
8-man Vanguard w/ Packs, Storm Shields, Lightning Claws, Thunder Hammers
2 MM Dreads

7. Ryan Holliday, I.Guard (1-2); 4.26 Rating; 4566/6000 VP, 2/12 Quarters, 0/15 Objectives
Straken Command Squad kitted w/ Chimera
5 Meltavet Squads w/ Chimeras
Demo vets
Trips Vendettas
2 Demolishers

8. Vaden Ball, S.Marines (0-3); 0.61 Rating; 3156/6000 VP, 1/12 Quarters, 0/15 Objectives
Khan + Kitted Bike Command Squad
3-4 Bike Troops w/ twin melta, fist
2 x Sternguard Squads in Rhinos w/ twin combi-melta, twin heavy flamer
2 x Multimelta Attack Bikes
2 x Vindicators

OK, so most of the lists were decently optimized/tweaked to a reasonable degree ... and here's how they worked out "in brief" ... posts with photos and match details will come as available

Round 1 ...
Mark Ferek (Angels) vs. Tim Williamson (Tau)
Tim decided to "feed" squads to Mephiston while focusing on the rest of the army, and this didn't really work out ... he also chose to bubble-wrap "other things than broadsides" with his Kroot, and so Mephiston had an easy time getting to them by turn 2 with his absurd speed. Mark tabled Tim, while taking only a marginal beating ... and Tim learned all the lessons he needed to about the new Angels, which would prove valuable to his Tau later (he's a vet Tau player who has never gone up against BA before). FULL ALBUM

Mark Aksel (Wolves) vs. John Moore (Angels)
John's Angel list was pretty effective, but needed some obvious tweaking by tourney's end. It revolves around a lot of marginal but fast and effective enough threats all surrounding a 10-jump pack squad that consists of a reclusiarch, sanguinary, and 8 vanguard with storm shields and either lightning claws or thunder hammers. He knows it's silly, but it actually "works" for the BA sorta ... only against Mark it got hung up with a bunch of storm shield lone wolves and thunderwolves ... and was too banged up by the time it got out of there to function properly, and Mark's overwhelming number of grey hunters "swung" the rest of the battle in the interim. Bloody Game but the Wolves came out on top just due to sheer weight of numbers (2 lone wolves, 2 thunderwolves, 55 grey hunters, 6 wolf guard and bunches of vehicles). FULL ALBUM

Ryan Holliday (IG, Darwinn69 on many forums/blogs) vs. Dave Gonzales (Blood Angels)
Basically Ryan suicide blew Dave's Land Raider early enough to make Dave's terminator death star (fnp, etc.) wade through a turn of point blank melta multilaser demolisher vendetta spam. Since Dave's army is largely built around that unit surviving, it broke the game. The rest of Dave's stuff took a toll on Ryan's units / vehicles, but with Straken in the game and the real heavy hitter of Dave's army taken out, Ryan had the superior ranged and close combat power to finish off the Angels. FULL ALBUM

Joe O'Malley (Blood Angels) vs. Vaden Ball ("Sternbikers")
Joe's an old hand at this game, and has played Blood Angels for probably well over a decade or two ... since they first came out, many editions ago. He's the routine host of Whiskey & 40k nights on Fridays, for which this blog is named. Vaden went first and set up an excellent "all cover but you get none" wall with his Bikes and Rhinos/Vindies, and utilized Pedro properly to turn all of his bikers into Veterans and his command squad bikers into "lots of attacks dudes" while supporting things with the vindies and sternguard. Unfortunately, he made some mistakes late that Joe capitalized on, after Vaden had already "engaged" the line ... namely, in order to utilize an orbital bombardment and underestimating Joe's priority decisions ... he walked some Sternguard away from Pedro and left his +1 attack aura alone on a building top. Promptly Joe pointed a lascannon pred at him and "smoke" there went half of Vaden's attacks in point blank combat w/ a blood angels army. Joe also managed to get some lucky "breaks" tank shocking bikes, and escorted most of Vaden's army off the board. Unfortunately, every time Vaden lost a combat by even a little, he'd fail his stubborn LD test, win the I test to escape combat, and get escorted off the board by fast BA vehicles w/their guns blown off. There was also a key turn where every one of Vaden's meltagun shots hit, penetrated rhinos and ... killed storm bolters.

Rounds 2 and 3 and pics coming later ... (work beckons)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

8 on the 8th - Gettin' Started + Rock Paper Scissors

People are starting to arrive for 8 on the 8th, and a new permutation has been added for who goes first ...

If both players pop a Session Lager, the winner of the rock paper scissors game under the bottlecaps goes first (on a tie, dice off).

Also, as Joe O arrives, the Whiskey is flowing ... consider the blog more formally tied to the event.

- Mike

Friday, May 7, 2010


OK, so 8 on the 8th is tomorrow, and at least at "my place" where I'm hosting the one I'm doing it's going to be an awesome day of gaming.

FIRST, we have a lot of great guys hanging out and gaming ... great competitors, intelligent players, good lists, fun fellas, and we'll have the brews and food to back it all up.

Second, the lists themselves are really well-tuned and tightly matched. Solid Tau build, solid Straken guard build (not mine, I'm not playing natch), 4 solid BA builds (yes, half the field), a solid SW build, and a solid biker marine build.

I'm stoked to see what happens, and I'll be updating the site throughout the day with pictures and match results, as well as pics/matchres I get from the other 8 on 8ths going on, if I get them during the day.

- Mike

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beer of the, well it's been a while - BEER!

Full Sail Brewing puts out this amazing little sucker called Session Lager.

It's appropriately named.

Let me break this down simply for you - I got a dozen of them for $12 at my local beer purchasing location of choice (Norm's Beer and Wine, in Vienna, VA). This is a high quality craft beer made by a relatively well-regarded craft brewery. It's extremely easy to drink, tastes awesome, and is perfect for hanging out with the buddies sippin' brews or even beer gaming it (b/c honestly, it's cheap!).

Even better, it has "Rock Paper Scissors" under all the bottlecaps, so you can play RPS w/ your friends by checking under the cap of each new bottle.

Plus, the bottles are kinda fun to drink out of ... very Red Stripe-esque, but more laid back. The crafters over at Full Sail have taken care of all the details on making it a "great" party beer, giving it twist-off caps. It's like sacrilege and the miraculous all at once. They should call it Blasphemy, but I think they hit a home run with Session.

Find some of this stuff. It's cheap, easy to drink, very well-made ... and just plain fun. Happy Summer to Me (a little early).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thoughts on List-Building: Optimization vs. Expression of Self

There's a lot of talk about listbuilding around the internet lately ... some places like Yes the Truth Hurts have been talking about it since their beginning, and places like Bell of Lost Souls does so periodically, to random degrees. Most blogs get around to it, and they advocate different levels of it.

When my buddies ask me for input on lists, I tend to take the stance of suggesting optimization. Why, though, do I do this?

I've never run a fully optimized list myself. I always run one with something different about it, and tend not to buy into "Net Lists." More often than not I find that net lists from various websites touting their own tactical worth match my first scribblings on paper when I'm first going through a dex, trying to see what can be squeezed out of it. Regardless, I rarely go with that actual build.

So ... what causes me to suggest optimization to friends who ask for list advice? Should you optimize your lists as much as possible?

Take my most recent Mech Guard build that I've been using:
Straken + Kell Command Squad
Lord Comissar w/ Plasma Pistol + Fist
6 Vet Squads w/ Fists and Trips Melta (one with trips flamers)
2 Vendettas
2 Demolishers
6 Chimeras

Is this optimal? HECK NO.

If my friends came up to me, I'd probably suggest changes and tweaks that ended it up looking more like this if they took every single suggestion:

Company Command Squad in Chimera w/ 3 Meltas, Banner, Chimera
Lord Comissar w/ Plasma Pistol
6 Vet Squads, all in Chimeras, one with 2 melta + flamer, the rest with trips melta
2 Vendettas
3 Demolishers
(7 Chimeras)

If the advice was taken, more optimization suggestions would be made ... eventually the list wouldn't look like this at all anymore.

OK, so what am I getting at.

I think that I win more games with my Straken guard than I would with a more optimized list that had more units / more power. Why? Well, Straken suits me ... the way the list plays is far more in line with what I consider to be both fun and challenging than a more "optimal" list would be, and I routinely kick the teeth in of more optimal players. You need to figure out what works for you ... what motivates you ... and what gets you to play better and more intelligently with your units. This isn't about "best of." This is about the reality of gameplay in a tournament, and on an actual game field. It's never the "best" list that wins, not by anybody's standard. It's the best run list, by the best player.

The purpose of my optimization advice when given to friends is I hang out with self-realized, independently thinking and intelligent human beings. They aren't going to write down my advice and copy it word for word. Instead, their lists will be improved in areas that MAKE SENSE TO THEM - the optimizations that fit in with the way their own brains work, and they'll keep their own signatures. The results are more in line with a "successful" version of what they really WANT, instead of a force-fed "best of" list where I berate them when they don't copy my every optimization perfectly.

Couch your advice, when YOU give it to your buddies, in kinder terms ... give it without expectation of them following it, and let them develop into players that THEY are happy with being, themselves. At the same time, don't be a hater from the other front. As the rash of people on the internet who demand you only play their idea of a "best of" rises, so too does the rash of whiney, critical, asshat douches who call anyone running a competitive list a "WAAC asshole" or who try their best to tear down the competitive establishment. Extremism is fail, my friends ... and that's why extremist "best of" lists are as bad as extremist bloggers constantly whining about the competitive establishment.

Get off your podiums, help your friends enjoy the game the way THEY want to better, and think hard about what will best accomplish that (it's not always simply "agreeing" with them). I have. Have you, really?

- Mike