Saturday, July 31, 2010

LOL Fantasy?

So I'm going to play a Warhammer Fantasy Battle today. It's my first ever - I've never played the game.

I figure I need to learn it if I'm eventually going to be a good advocate for the Fantasy side of our events, and our Fantasy TO Kevin is whose Empire army I'm borrowing.

I know NOTHING, the list had better be bad (b/c nobody should make a good list their first time through) ... it's based entirely on painted models he has.

Arch Lector w/ Gold Sigil Sword, Enchanted Shield, Armor of Destiny (I know it's nub gear, or I hope it is)

Captain BSB, Banner of Eternal Flame (b/c why the heck not, what do I know?!)
Battle Wizard, Dispel Scroll, Lore of Death

8 Knights w/ Lance/Shield, Banner
10 Handgunners
10 Handgunners
10 Handgunners
10 Handgunners
10 Archers
20 Spearmen
30 Swordsmen w/ Musician/Standard/Champ
30 Swordsmen w/ Musician/Standard/Champ
18 Halberdiers

2 Great Cannons
2 Mortars
6 Outriders
6 Outriders

2 Helstorm Rocket Batteries
1 Hellblaster

Ya'll can feel free to critique it, but again - I really HOPE it's terrible; I have no idea what I'm doing lol

We'll be heading up to show support for the ICGT later on in the afternoon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Draft - Appearance Scoring Checklist for the Open


The linked file is a ROUGH DRAFT of the appearance scoring checklist and value possibles; remember we go by percentages, in terms of its impact on Ren Man and individual prizes/awards

The point here is that army is scored for overall theme and appearance on the tabletop, plus presentation and army-wide heavy conversion

One individual mini is scored for advanced painting techniques and attention to detail

One individual mini is scored for advanced conversion techniques

Armies, minis, and converted minis that score max or very close to it will be entered into final consideration for the individual army/mini/conversion prizes

Judges will all be on the same page with regard to scoring, and any army that scores exceptionally low or high will be reviewed by another judge for integrity


This'll get published tomorrow, I have a lot of private contacts heads'ed up for feedback as well.

- Mike


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Friday Night Open Gaming - NOVA Open

Quick note - this'll go out in e-mail to all, but; if you want to ensure you get a table for open gaming on Friday night at the Open, please, please, please e-mail me at

Priority will go to a) people who have arranged matches with someone, followed by b) people who just want to play (in which case I'll arrange matches, making sure they aren't the same as the randomized first round pairings, which have already been figured out by then)

- Mike

Everything NOT "Competitive" at the NOVA Open -

In another thread, Pissclams (what a name!) said the following ...
pissclams said... once round 2 is over basically 3/4 -2 of the players are eliminated from winning and advancing to day 2..thats alot of people. Is there concern of people just saying fuck it at that point mike ? Ive never played a tournament using this style so im curious to see how it works out.

So I figured I would reply with a whole post, helping to bring to everyone's attention exactly how things work for ... well, everyone!

Basically, this is a run down of the whole weekend, the rounds, the timing, the scoring, the awards, etc.

Starting at 4:00PM on Friday, August 13, the Dulles Expo Center collocated Holiday Inn will hold half price appetizers for NOVA Open attendees and staff, and will be running a 4-8 happy hour. Anyone arriving on Friday is welcome to enjoy these benefits.

During this time, my staff and I will be setting up the Expo Center itself for Saturday's main event ... 64 gaming tables + terrain, our office, prizes, swag bags in position, computers and printers and displays, the works.

At 8:00PM, the Holiday Inn's Hutchison Ballroom will open up (and already be set up with table/terrain/etc.) for Open Gaming, and the Whiskey Challenge exhibition matches. I anticipate roughly 15 tables for open gaming, and 3-4 tables for Whiskey Challenge matches. There will also be a pair of podcasting crews set up and rolling from the center of the room, covering the matches and doing interviews with various players ... so feel free to ask about getting a little airtime with these guys. The 11th Company Podcast and Gamers Lounge are the two podcasts, and both put on EXCELLENT shows.

11th Company Podcast, Blog, and Forums
Gamers Lounge Podcast

There will be a cash bar for this event, plenty of sitting space in an adjoining room with some round tables (we can chuck a few more open gaming tables on those if needed), etc. The hotel also has a nice lobby (though if you wanna hang out there, please be considerate of hotel staff), and there's a solid restaurant and bar that'll still have half price appetizer specials for everyone (or should!).

We close down the ballroom at midnight, and encourage everyone to hit the hay for a big day on Saturday.

Saturday, August 15

As the sun rises over the Washington, DC great metro region, we'll ... well, already be up, but hopefully our gamers are getting a few more minutes of much needed sleep.

Sadly, you won't be able to see the Iwo Jima Memorial from the Dulles Expo Center.

So, anyway ... here's the schedule for the day ... heavy dose of sarcasm at times, enjoy it! It's what's for breakfast!

7:00AM - 8:30AM - People sign in, get appearance scores until go time, Mike wanders around saying hello while his staff slaves away at the sign-in desk, people gasp and oo and ah at their swag bags full of ... um, swag ... and they get to their tables for Game 1 and get set-up, yatta yatta. RULES JUDGES HAVE ON BLACK SHIRTS! REGULAR STAFF HAVE ON WHITE SHIRTS! Feel free to ask the white shirted ones rules questions, but ... you know, don't hold it against me.

At some point right before 8:30 I'll hop on the Mic and be all "HAY GUYS REMEMBER DESE THINGS! THANKS FER COMIN'!" It will probably be more professional than that, but I feel caps-locky today. Kevin will then get on the Mic and do the same for our Fantasy players. Who I'm jealous of, since they'll get to spend a lot of time playing a brand spanking new game.

OK, so 8:30 AM ... the conflict begins!
8:30 - 10:45 = Round I; players will get a 30 minute warning of round end impending; players will have 30 minutes after 10:45 to get their scores entered and handed in

At this point, we'll begin to ADD RAFFLE TICKETS TO A BOX for everyone with a "Loss." Sorry, winners, you don't get raffle tickets yet. If you want them, you'll have to start being beaten.

As 11:15-1:30 = ROUND 2 begins, you'll notice me doing this ...

Mike walked smartly up behind a fellow who lost the last round, randomly selected, and tickle him while spouting a comment such as "coochy coochy coo!" When the irate gamer turns around, saddened at the fact that he didn't crush his opposition (Because that's "all" the game is about, right?), his wrath will turn to joy as Mike hands him a box of free miniatures, or something. Losing = high probability of winning free stuff. This is important note #1 about why you should attend the Open as long as possible.

OK, so Round 2 finishes, and now you have a bunch of people in Fantasy and 40k who are still undefeated, who have a single win and a single loss, and who have 2 losses. We add more raffle tickets to the hat now; 2 for everyone with 2 losses (who now have 3 in the hat, unless they already won something), etc. etc. You can figure that you gain exponentially in the "I might win something" department with every loss. As long as the winners are cutthroat battling it out for the handful of undefeated placing awards, everyone else is cutthroat battling it out for ... I don't know, fun? It's a game, right? I forget sometimes. IT COULD BE ABOUT BLOOD [for the blood god]!

So anyway, let's take a hiatus so that we can go to award discussion, since 1:30 = LUNCH TIME PARTY TIME FUN TIME (and a little bit of "catch up on the appearance scoring, you slackers" time)

Here's what you can win, and how you win it ...
1) Corn
2) Not really, just kidding, but man that cat likes corn
3) Tournament Champion - To win this, you have to win every single game (barring the improbable), and you play on the 2nd day by necessity
4) Tournament Ace - To win this, you need to finish in the top 2 in Fantasy, top 6 in 40k on the first day. You could do this with a loss. Most people will do it undefeated.

6) Renaissance Man - The last award with any potential negative impact due to "losses," and I'll take some time to explain this and re-explain our scoring mechanisms ...

First, we work in percentages. There's no accumulation of an unstoppable margin ... your score will fluctuate somewhere between 0 and 13 at all times competitively, and somewhere between 0 and 3 for the purposes of Renaissance Man. Here's how it works ...

For Renaissance Man scoring:
(% of possible competitive score) + (% of possible sportsmanship score) + (% of possible appearance score)

That's it. So competitiveness is only 33% of the Ren Man scoring. Because of the way competitive scoring works, people will score basically either a 0-5%, 25-30%, 50-55%, or 95-100% kind of bracket on their competitiveness, largely related to just their record, and moderated by the margin of their victories / losses.

"Heart of Gold" (kinda like sportsmanship) is scored as such:
At the end of the day, you will be REQUIRED (on pain of death, rawr) to rate your opponents from the day 1-4. You will not be able to assign the same rating to more than one player. So basically, one person will be your "favorite," then next fave, third fave, fourth fave. We don't say "least fave" here, but you get the picture.

The "average" percentage then, for sportsmanship, will be between 45-65% (the lowest you can score is a 4/16, which is still 25% ... the range being 4-16/16 ... so the median is more like 10, not 8) ... and that's equivalent to scoring "max" on a checklist at any normal tourney ... so if you get that, not a bad thing, not a score-breaking thing. A small handful of people will be so golden hearted and pure of spirit that every one of their opponents rates them as their favorite for the day. Having done this before, there's a pretty steady curve of ratings here. AND they usually identify the true jerks while they're at it ... and the truly awesome and memorable opponents. Just understand going in that if you score in the mid-range on sports, that's not a knock.

Real jerks can have their sports score actively adjusted by judges. This doesn't necessarily impact competitiveness, b/c this score is divorced from the purely competitive rankings and awards, but getting your sports score artificially lowered can screw you out of Renaissance Man ... so don't be a superdouche.

Appearance score is ... almost done, but expect a checklist style approach, where you score points out of possible, and that % of possible represents your appearance contribution.

Because everyone will score a minimum on appearance and sports, and there's no real "minimum" on competitive, doing well competitively will give you a higher boost than the other two ... so the scores will all be "normalized." No worries.

Our competitive scores are done as such:
(Win%x10) + Goal1% + Goal2% + Goal3% ... so the % of possible you've gotten in each of the three rotating mission goals, and the win% x 10, adds up to your rating at all times. Easy enough.

The Renaissance Man in each system is one of our Vegas tickets.


6) Heart of Gold - As above, this is the highest sports scorer; appearance + competitive will be used to bust up ties ... we may also give at least SOMETHING to people who lose on tiebreak

7) Well Beyond Crayon - Best painted mini

8) A Miniature Frankenstein - Best converted mini

9) Greater Than the Sum - Best army overall appearance

When the dust settles on the end of the 2nd round, most of the above prizes will still be up for grabs, and we'll still have well over 40-50 boxes of minis or gaming supplies or neat things to hand out. You'll each have 10+ goodies you got in your swag bags, and almost everyone will have AT LEAST 2 more games in front of them.

More importantly, while we'll be advancing the top 8 40k finishers and top 2 Fantasy finishers to "organized" play on the 2nd day ... we'll have as much room and as many gaming tables as we can possibly spring available for use on the 2nd day for everyone else. Heck, maybe a little input and we could organize some actual "organized" play on that day as well. Suffice to say that your ticket enables you to attend the 2nd day and PLAY, plus hang and enjoy whatever extra stuff we can wrangle up for everyone. So while you won't be participating in further "organized" finals evaluation (to figure out Tournament Champ trophies), you won't be kicked to the curb with "no more gaming for your $50" either.

OK OK, so let's go to the rest of the day ...

Round 3 begins at 2:30 PM ... and random boxes of goodies start flying around the room. I'd dress up like Santa Claus, but I'm not big enough or facial haired enough at the moment ... OMG, JOE - YOU, YOU CAN BE SANTA. You guys will know Joe at the end of the weekend. Anyway, so right ... round ends at 4:45PM.

Now you're either 0-3, 1-2, 2-1, 3-0 ... and life's ok ... final round is upcoming, half the field still has a shot at making it to the next day (all the 3-0's, any of the 2-1's) in an organized sense, and of course everyone else can still play the next day in open gaming ... plus everyone else is escalated in terms of shots at random prizes, and aren't mathematically erased from contention for the Renaissance Man award. Ayup.

5:15PM - 7:30PM, and the last round is over. The dust settles, appearance judges are solving last minute questions (if they were slackers all day), and we're tallying the results and figuring out who is getting what.

8:30/9:00 rolls around, and it's AWARD TIME! After which, it's BAR TIME! At 10:00PM, after we've handed out all but 1 trophy/award per system (Sunday's Tourney Champ), it's off to the Holiday Inn's Bar (same parking lot as the Expo Center) for a 10 till ??? fest sponsored by various alcoholic beverage dispensers, and the bar itself. We'll have most of the place to ourselves, including the whole restaurant after 11.

We're working on getting some extra swag to give out for various things at the post-tourney event as well ... so again, see this theme of "longer you stay, more stuff you could win." You're either winning all your games, and so still competing for the win-based prizes, or you're losing games and getting awarded random prizes while still in it for the non-competitive prizes, or you're at the bar afterward getting random stuff and what-not ... either way, the longer you stay, the more swag you get, and one would think the more fun you have.

The long story short is this:
  • You're going to get a significant portion of your registration fee back in "goodies" from the swag bag.
  • If you don't go undefeated, you've got a good shot at randomly winning $25+ value prizes from a variety of sponsors, including GW. Your shot improves the tougher the day gets for you.
  • The majority of our trophies and prizes are handed out for reasons other than or only partially in union with your competitive performance.
  • You get the chance to open game Friday and Sunday regardless of your performance.
  • Finally, as we expand in future years, we'll be adding way more space, and way more gaming opportunities - for all types of players, for more days. Our policy mandates that if you say "screw it" and quit the tournament early in a huff (for reasons other than personal issues / job / family / etc.), we won't be able to invite you back in the future. Which means you miss out on coming back to future Opens and eventually Conventions :)

For all those "hardcore" competitors coming, also keep this in mind - there are people watching this event who are *sure* you are nothing but mean jerky WAAC douches. I think they're quite wrong. I think jerks are jerks, nice guys are nice guys, and there's no correlation between the personality and the skill. The same retards might as well accuse every professional athlete to ever make the hall of fame of being a douche. What, Cal Ripken, Jr. is a WAAC douche b/c he's intensely competitive? Give it a rest. Attending the Open and a tough competitor? Win or lose, tell the community of condescending douches who call YOU a jerk where to stick it, and come have a GREAT time at a weekend FULL of fun things to do.

Not a tough competitor, and coming to the Open? Well, the VAST majority of our prizes, activities, etc. are for YOU. We've worked hard to provide a format for the "best of the best" to prove it ... to keep playing until somebody beats them down. But our energies and time have been spent making sure EVERYONE who attends gets plenty of opportunities to game, plenty of prizes and swag, and has a great time.

Besides, 'till the last minute, like we've done all year ... give us your feedback and input. I want the event to be BETTER every day, and I want it to be heavily based upon what YOU the attendees want. Our format, our events, our prizes ... everything is based upon feedback, not "my whim" or the whim of our staff. Keep making that the case ... make it a tournament and convention of the people attending.

Here's a question for ya'll too ...

On Sunday, we have X open gaming tables. Free for all? Sign-up-after-day-Saturday-list? OR priority to those with the lowest records and/or least prizes on Saturday? Or perhaps ya'll would like us to organize an apoc game, smaller combat patrol style tourneys, etc. ... we have the ability to do a lot of these things, and can probably stretch a lil bit of prize support as well. Let's hear input.

There you go pissclams (I can't get over your username), give me a paragraph, get an essay.

- Mike

PS - No matter your own experience, know that my own personal view of the tournament is that EVERYONE attending is my constituent ... is my supporter here. You've spent your good hard-earned money to come to my event, and I have every intent of doing all I can to make sure EVERYBODY has a good time, win or lose. If you're frustrated about something, concerned about something, whatever - come talk to me. I'm not there to stare at the top tables and see who "winz it all!" I really don't care ... I heard a cry in the community for a format that would allow us to actually see the "best" of a tournament's attendees, and that's all that part of it is about. The rest is for EVERYONE, equally. Hold me to it, and make me earn what you've invested (well, kinda, I'm not exactly making money on this) ... we're doing all we can to make sure everyone has fun. We owe it to you :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Managing the Inevitable - "Messed Up" Brackets at a Tournament

So, in a perfect world, here's how the NOVA's format works ...

80 or 96 attendees ... let's go with 96 b/c I think we'll actually get there.

96 turns into, after 1 Round

48 x 1-0
48 x 0-1

After Round 2 this turns into

24 x 2-0
48 x 1-1
24 x 0-2

After Round 3 this turns into

12 x 3-0
36 x 2-1
36 x 1-2
12 x 0-3

After Round 4 this turns into

6 x 4-0
24 x 3-1
36 x 2-2
24 x 1-3
6 x 0-4

The 6 x 4-0 have all played undefeated opponents, and all advance to day 2, along with the TWO HIGHEST RATED 3-1 PLAYERS, where in Round 5
#3 plays #6
#4 plays #5

#'s 1 and 2 wait

Round 6 =
#1 vs. lowest 5 winner
#2 vs. highest 5 winner

Meanwhile the highest round 5 loser plays #8, and the lowest round 5 loser plays #7 ... you can figure where that'll go from there, to Round 7's finals, and the single loss guys battling for 3rd place

But what happens if 3 people don't show, and we end up with 94 instead of 96 (subbing our single ringer in to get even #'s)?

94 after Round 1 pares down to ...
47 x 1-0
47 x 0-1

Ruh roh!
Either #1 needs to play #48 (0-1), or #47 needs to play #48 ... but who is the "right" one? Do you drop the lowest rated winner to the bottom bracket for that pairing, or do you give the highest winner the highest loser? Which is the proper call?

Let's extrapolate this into another dastardly issue ... 9 people no show out of 96, and you sub in your ringer to get to 88

Round 1 pares to

Round 2 pares to

Round 3 pares to

So going into Round 4, which will determine who gets to play on Day 2, SOMEBODY among the 11 3-0 players gets to / MUST play against a 2-1 opponent. Who gets the "easy" match? #1 or #11?

I'm curious about peoples' inputs here ... it's almost inevitable that people won't show; whether the "on hand" ringers / wait list will be robust enough to manage that and get back to either 80 or 96 will not be known until the day of ... so what's the best course of action here? Should the #1 play the highest from the next lower bracket, or should the lowest rated undefeated get that match?

- Mike

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The "Three Levels" of 40k Game Play ... Getting Out of the Probability Kiddie Pool

OK, so a rare moment of 40k tactics discussion. Though, it gets a little rambly (my style, I suppose).

Most people play 40k at a rudimentary level. I'd like to see more people escalate their game ... and see the game for what it really is - largely NOT luck-based (or, it doesn't have to be), and relatively balanced across most codices as a result.

My buddy Z and I played a game last night ... he has an excellent Ork list, and I had a wolf list I just threw together and had never played before (proxytime). Despite him putting on a lot of pressure and making no target priority errors, the game ended with me down about 350 points, and him down about 1650 points. Neither of us had good or bad luck beyond norms ... in fact, at one point he made 13 of 14 cover saves on vehicles. How do you win a game like that? I'm going to avoid the battle report, b/c it's not the point at present.

In mirror matches, with both players rolling roughly equal dice, how is it possible that one person can come out with his army ready to go another whole game, and the other is gone or almost gone? It's not ... dice. It's not ... just target priority. It's certainly not list, in that case.

In any event, in chat Z made a great observation that I think holds true ... there are perhaps 3 "big" levels of player development in 40k.

1) List and Comprehension - This is the rudimentary level that you need to elevate to in order to compete ... you need to have a list that can function in a more or less all comers situation, and take on a wide variety of opponents and their lists. You don't necessarily have to optimize, but I would argue that the NEWER you are, the more MIN-MAXED / optimized your list should be. As you master the higher mechanics and become more fluent with your army, you become more and more able to make big things happen with units that are less optimal on paper.

Comprehension refers to simply understanding all the rules and their nuances. This doesn't necessarily refer to applying them in the most creative and critical ways ... only to simply understanding how all of them function so that when your opponent does something wonky and clever to you by using the rules cleverly, you aren't occupied with calling shens or being surprised or arguing ... you simply learn and elevate. You should also know each of the codices to some level.

2) Target Priority - Pretty straightforward. You need to learn to quickly assess what in your opponent's army needs to die first and why. NEVER build a list that relies on not losing something to win, by the way. Presume your opponent will correctly target prioritze and hurt you.

3) Leaving the Probability Pool - This is more than just how you see the board, but I think it's where your game starts to truly shine. Let's take the simple scenario of two guard chimeras from opposing players, each with 10 vets inside toting 3 meltaguns.

"1" represents whose turn it is, let's presume no smoke or anything else; the point here is to demo in a vacuum what a good player needs to simply be aware of / know intuitively (and it obviously starts with becoming pretty darned good at measuring distances).

WHO has the advantage in each of the two scenarios? The one with 1 10" away, and the one with 1 9" away; well, here's the dealio ...

A "perfect" move for a Chimera vs. a transport with infantry is moving 6, with its heavy flamer facing the vehicle, and having its own HATCH within 6" of the enemy vehicle for BS4 melta shots within +2d6 range. Well, word to the world - when 10" away, Chimera 1 can't pull that off, and Chimera 2 can when 9" away. Odds are odds, but that SINGLE inch dramatically changes them all for each player. In the top example, 1's BEST move is to BACK AWAY, or back sideways and try to angle side multilaser shots. If it's me playing, I'm #2 and I moved there on purpose, 10" or a little more away from #1 Chimera ... why? Well, you want to force your opponent to do one of the following:

1) Move his Chimera 6" forward, and take long range melta shots at you out of hatch. His odds to wreck or explode #2 are ~38% (and I'm fine with BS4 accuracy odds in MY favor); anything less and his chimera AND squad inside both die ... even a stun/immobilize/whatever. I'll explain how.

2) Move his Chimera 6" forward, spin it around to get his melta within 6". His odds become very high to wreck or explode #2, but he cannot follow it up with a heavy flamer. The infantry squad inside will have all of its meltaguns alive, and will be able to walk up, melta the opposing chimera down, and charge the squad inside with odds in its favor ... seriously, go ahead and do the math if you'd like.

3) Move his Chimera even a little bit forward, and take long range melta shots (he has to move 1" to be within melta range from the hatch ... at 10" away, the meltas are 13" away from the Chimera).

We're in a vacuum here, but the advantage here is with #2 at 10" away, and slightly leaning toward #1 the closer it gets ... ideally it can move 6", melta with +2d6, and then heavy flame what's inside. Magic hour.

I hope this is making sense ... some players, you gotta show 'em it in action, leave 'em scratching their head as to why with an identical army you're beating them and they're losing. The above example is scratching the surface of ways to put yourself more in the tactics pool, and less in the probability pool. I think of it like two kiddy pools ... what can I say?

Think of it like cover saves, and the choice between taking a "Deffkopta" or a "Warbuggy." Both units have their place and their cool tricks ... deffkoptas can do all sorts of crazy first turn things, right? Fine. Both can be kept covered up if you're half smart, fine. So, if my opponent is shooting at a Deffkopta, he has to roll to hit and wound, and then I have to roll a save to prevent damage. If my opponent is shooting at a Rokkit buggy, he has to roll to hit and glance/pen (and this is going to be more difficult to do for almost all weapons), and I get to roll my cover save ... and THEN he has to roll another dice to kill it. The Warbuggy puts your opponent MORE into the probability pool. The probability pool cares not whether your opponent is smart, or clever, or better than you. It's simply odds. The more times you subject him to the chance for bad luck, the better off you are. So in my ork lists, I ALWAYS use rokkit buggies ... it's not that Deffkoptas aren't good / great / whatever, but I can do good things with EITHER unit, and they both have the capacity to kill transports and such ... and the buggies take me MORE out of the probability pool, and that's a win right off the bat.

I freaking HATE the probability pool. When I first started playing Necron years ago, I learned this the hard way. I fail LD10 tests reliably. I fail WBB rolls reliably. I fail armor saves on elite troops RELIABLY. So my guard army has LD10 bubbles and reg standards to make my pin/morale tests 121/122 pas rate, and I spend a lot of time trying to understand the notion of threat ranges, ideal distances for "setting your opponent up," and figuring out ways to take dice out of the equation. My first army after the Necron? Tyranid. NO LD TESTS. Tons of models and wounds so I don't care if I fail saves well beyond odds. My Tyrants in a more foot-emphasized edition roll 12 dice with 3's to hit, then ROLL THEM AGAIN, then roll with S5 to wound, then ROLL THEM AGAIN. Little pig heaven.

My buddy Z's army is the perfect example of a list that - in certain missions - can win without dice. 23 ork vehicles, all KFF'ed, including 2 battlewagons, 9 kanz, 9 buggies, 5 ram trukks. In an objective mission w/ enough objectives on the board, this army can bumrush center on turn 1, disembark EVERY ork, and then cordon in an opponent by chucking all the vehicles at him, as the orks mosey over to their objectives, and a squad or two hangs back ready to pounce on anyone that busts out of the metal pile.

It also provides another example ... it CAN hem in a jump pack army also ... how? Well, dummy, don't just stick the vehicles in his face ... stagger it so that the faster ones block 'em off, and the slower ones sit at the lovely 10" away, so there's nowhere for them to land other than jumping an inch or two, or jumping sideways.

The same can be said for some Tau builds, that are capable of using piranhas, drones, and kroot to not just "soak hits." Even kroot bubbles aren't about simply sitting in front of people as bubble wrap ... it's about that perfect placement, that perfect location of units so that your opponent's ideal moves are completely baffled, buying the Tau army more turns to shoot despite not really having more board to back up / away to.

How many people have seen a Tau army lose to a BA or Ork opponent b/c they whiff a turn or two of railgun or missile pod fire? How many people have seen a Tau army not care b/c they've used the tools of the game to keep their crisis suits and railguns firing for two-three extra turns in spite of the whiffs?

Build your ideal list, understand the rules and target priority, but PAST that start thinking outside the box. Find ways to get yourself out of the probability pool, and into the tactics and movement pool. You can do it ... it's very doable. My own record as a gamer is strong ... and it's not b/c my lists are better; it's b/c I do everything in my power to make my units harder to kill, to place as much probability as possible between them and my opponents' efforts ... and I do the opposite when it comes to going after my opponent; anything I can do to take probability OUT of my efforts is a win that costs me no points, no rules arguments, and permits no cover saves.

A lot of people vastly underestimate this game ... they treat it as list building and dice rolling, and it's NOT. Your opponent can't roll cover saves against "smart." Think of all the ways your game can be elevated without having to pick up a d6 ... there are literally hundreds.

Keep this in mind:

Probability pool:

Tactics pool:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back to Postin' ... a Quick First

The final missions for the NOVA Open are "done." I should be able to post the packet up for all to see, or at least e-mail it to the attendees (probably both, yeah yeah yeah), by this Friday. No promises, and there's none due there - I don't want people to necessarily playtest them into the ground and gain an advantage, so much as have them transparently out there.

There will be THREE, just like the primer. "BUT WHAT," you exclaim, "THERE'S UP TO SEVEN ROUNDS IN THE ACTUAL OPEN?!?!?" Well, therein lies the rub. We'll be rolling a giant dice (if I can find one, if not it'll be ... you know, not giant) prior to the 4th round, and based upon the result the final round will REPEAT one of the first three missions. Why? Well, to keep you guessing for one, and b/c we like the way our current mission set works in a balance sense and after a lot of stress testing and improvement. Why try to add silly wrinkles that only run a risk of deflating the fairness of the event by being untested and untried?

Finals rounds 1 and 2 will use the remaining 2 missions "over again," and the VERY final round will ... again ... use one of the 3 randomly.

With that, I'm off to work, write up a more meaningful and interesting blog post for the non-tourney-going readership, and you know, keep working on this silly tourney.

PS - If you're in the area and not actually playing in the Open, we're still looking for staff, terrain/table loans, etc. Let me know!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Warhammer Fantasy for the NOVA Open: Message from Kevin

So, an update on the Fantasy front…

The NOVA Open will be hosting a good number of Fantasy players in addition to all the 40K players. Thirty-two, to be exact, all playing this newest edition of WHFB.

READ FIRST: First and foremost, the big take away from this post is that we are being very lenient on WYSIWYG and painting for Fantasy. There is NO painting requirement for Fantasy, due to 8th edition coming out so recently. As much as I love seeing fully painted armies fielded against each other, I understand everyone’s busy adopting their lists, and I want to encourage that.

Also, as far as proxying is concerned, we will allow for similarly armed models to be counted similarly. What this means is, if you have two units of spearmen you want to be counted as swordsmen, that’s cool (provided you inform your opponent and us ahead of time). If you field two units of spearmen and want one to be counted as spearmen and one as swordsmen, that is not cool. This is to avoid confusion for your opponent. See the difference? Also, base sizes must be the same, for obvious reasons. If you have questions about this, do not hesitate to ask.

On to the Primer…Mike, over the past few months, has done most of the heavy lifting by listening to the animal spirits of the blogosphere, and figuring out what 40K players want to see in a tournament. I only say this to comment that I have totally ripped off Mike’s primer to create a Fantasy primer in a very similar format.

[Link to Primer Here]

The new rulebook, for those that haven’t read it, has six scenarios to randomly choose from. Not exactly a new development, even for Fantasy. Even so, I have worked to adopt three of the scenarios into a workable format for the NOVA Open. These three scenarios also allow for three rotating goals, very similar to what 40K is doing, to determine the winner and bracket placement.

As always, do not hesitate to ask questions and to make critiques. I love getting input on the primer, and about Fantasy in general. Just don’t forget to sign up!

Kevin C.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Under the Weather

Had a couple of solid blog posts just about polished off, but was hit by the flu (or something) from hell.

103 degree fever + a host of accompanying symptoms and I'm on my way to the docs, not the blog or work.

More updates hopefully when I recover later this week.

- Mike

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Battle Report - Guard vs. Guard, Edumacashun Game

So, gamed vs. my buddy Kevin (who is helping run the Fantasy side of the Open), and it's a good example of list vs. tactics and how they operate ... photographed the game, so here's the battle report.

Sorry in advance for the unpainted army of Kevin's, and the "WIP" balsa terrain.

Note that Kevin is definitely in learning mode for 40k, and we took advantage of a lot of opportunities to "learn" from components of the game about the subtleties of unit placement, decision making, and the understanding of threat bubbles and how auras aren't just those things Straken emits ... it's about understanding why and when you move your Chimera 6" or 12", etc. etc.

I used a "silly" list to help accentuate the point, while he used a perfectly fine Strakenguard variant ... I had to proxy a few models b/c it isn't what I normally play, and I'll highlight what's what in the list ... the lists were:


  • Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken (I have a Straken model, but haven't painted it yet, so I use a Catachan officer for him) + 2 bodyguards (due to model stretching, I proxied in 2 grey knights for these) + 2 meltaguns + regimental standard (I actually use the bret sorceress as my standard at all times, by intent) + medic + carapace + krak grenades
  • Chimera w/ Extra Armor, Hull Heavy Flamer(proxied Demolisher, I don't own 8 chimeras)
  • Commissar Yarrick (proxied Commissar model)
  • 5 Stormtroopers w/ 2 Meltaguns - (proxied in 2 meltagun vets, and 3 members of my lizardman blood bowl team heh)
  • 5 Stormtroopers w/ 2 Meltaguns - (same proxying as above)
  • 5 Ogryns proxied in saurus lizardmen and a krox from the same blood bowl team)
  • Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer (proxied Demolisher, I don't own 8 chimeras)
  • 6 x 10-man Veteran squad, 4 w/ trips melta, 2 w/ trips flamer; all with Chimeras
  • 3 x separate units of Scout Sentinelx1 w/ Multilaser (CARNIFEX SENTINELS! My first paint job, don't laugh too hard)

His list:
  • Straken w/ 2 melta, Standard, Medic, Carapace, 2 Bodyguards, Chimera
  • 6 x trips melta vets, Chimera
  • 2 x solo Vendetta
  • 3 x solo Demolisher

So, first off ... terrain.
This might be a helper for NOVA Open prep, it might not - I don't know exactly how much terrain we'll be able to put on every table, but the PLAN is 25% coverage ... game intent more or less. Here's us making sure there's 25% terrain before we evenly distribute it (at the Open, the plan is for each table to have basically "identical" terrain regardless of which quarter or side you deploy on).

We rolled NOVA Open Primer #2 (Spearhead Deployment, 5 Objectives tiebroken by Quarters tiebroken by Victory Points). He won the roll and elected to go 2nd given the primary win condition and the lack of any real long range fire in my army (not that it would prevent me smoking up, but a lot of people overrate alpha strike against an opponent who can simple cover his units up behind things on turn 1 anyway, IMO). I didn't much care ... whatever chimeras were knocked out, those vets would be hanging out at the back objectives anyway.

Knowing he wouldn't steal initiative most likely (but not caring TOO much), I deployed along the edge of the 12" from center curve ... I wanted to put the pressure on with the Ogryns and Straken/Yarrick, and make him stay back and try to react / deal with it ... always put your opponent on their heels if you can, trying to react to you. The plan was for chimera casualties to let their disembarked survivors wander over to back objectives either way, so anticipated losses were built into the plan.

His deployment was a little wonky, a little too over-frightened of immobilization results moving around in the central terrain piece in his deploy zone. Here's our various deployments (for reference, I'm the painted army).

Mike Turn 1
I simply "reserved" the scout sentinels, not outflanked, b/c I didn't have an Astro and didn't want them on the far side of the board. Long edge near him would do. The storm troopers rather obviously were suicide deep striking - the list has no capacity to deal with things like vendettas if they simply stay back, or BA autolas preds, etc., so the suicide squads and sentis are purely built to distract and/or kill those things.

I scooted toward his "weaker" edge, with the terrain piece housing straken's chimera in between 2 sentis/1demolisher and the rest of his force. To save smoke for smoke launcher leapfrogging, I only smoked the front three chimeras, and hoped he'd "buy" the bait of encouraging one vendetta to move too far forward and take the unobscured shot on one of the back ones. Here's how it looked when I was done moving (grey dice are "smoke" ... later white dice, as I was using the grey ones).

Kevin Turn 1
He lays a bunch of very well-placed demolisher pie plates where he can, hitting rear chimeras with S10 +2dhighest and nicking side armor 10 with S5+2dhighest (which is why S10 large ordnance blasts rock). Unfortunately for him, I made cover saves for the most part, and the results were an immobilized chimera near my back black/grey building objective, a stunned chimera in front of it, and a shaken Straken chimera. Fine by me.

Mike Turn 2
The immobilized chimera decided its work was finished, and its vets hung out in it, waiting to get out and secure the rear objective in my deployment zone when game-end neared. It was one of the flamer squads, so I was cool with it.

Knowing he didn't have really a TON of long range firepower that he was going to want to throw at guardsmen, I hopped the red bandana dudes out of the stunned Chimera near my deployment zone and ran them into the area terrain nearby. The plan there was to discourage him from firing on the empty chimera and go for a more target rich zone, and to prevent losing any to an explosion if he did shoot that way. They could easily hop back in the Chimera later on if it was left unmolested.

I also got my other flamer squad out and ran it to cover the other "my side" objective adjoining my deployment zone and sent their Chimera (which had popped smoke in the prior turn) in the way of his demolisher and 2 chimeras on that side, empty. I again banked on him gunning for higher priority targets and basically ignoring chimeras that were empty of dudes. Not that I cared either way ... if he angled for the best melta/etc. shots on the empty one, it would "set him up" for my counter-moves perfectly.

Key developments here are that I killed both vendettas. He'd left the one on his side too out in the open, so the first suicide storm trooper team ganked it (and a sentinel arrived), and the other one had moved too close to my chimera bunch while trying to get an angled shot over the first turn chimera wall ... so it was an easy 6" move behind the building up there to pop it from hatch with the melta dudes inside. You can already see things going badly here ... I have no advantages in ranged firepower or anything, but he's now out of his two aces (vendettas), and my army is "fine."

Kevin Turn 2
His demolishers continue to find their mark, and he bangs up a bunch more of my Chimeras with multiple pens on multiple vehicles per shot. Still can't kill much, unfortunately.
He gets impatient on the flank I'm pushing hardest at, and sends one of his chimera teams 12" forward alongside the building and spins to disembark them into the former vendetta's crater.

On the other side, he sends a chimera over to deal with the storm troopers and douses them with a heavy flamer. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, DUDES. They killed the Vendetta, and then they died. *shrug* He potshot a ton of multilasers at the scout sentinel that was on his flank, failed to kill it, and of course that meant they weren't angling for side shots on chimeras across the board either.

His chimera kill team move on the other flank kills the chimera of MINE that just ganked the vendetta up there, and the explosion wounds ... TWO OF THE PASSENGERS. Who die. They fail their pin test but Straken's squad w/ Yarrick is within 6" and so re-roll and are fine.

Mike Turn 3
I continue to roll sideways along his flank, keeping his other chimeras out of the fight ... he's smart enough to understand that if he just tries to rush adjust them, they'll be a 6" move and melta away for me from safety. WTF, flanks in 40k, whoda thunkit. I move up the formerly stunned Chimera, keeping it empty and getting the red squad safely behind it but still in "anti-demolisher formation." They also wave giant flags of "THERE'S NOTHING TO SEE HERE." Another scout sentinel moves on, and the first one moves up to try and charge / kick the chimera that shuffled over to flame the first storm troopers.

On the strong flank, a couple of chimeras (including Straken's, which in hindsight was pretty dumb) move over to heavy flame his suicide squad, and my own vets move up to melta the chimera they rode in on. Guys at the top objective move up to shoot some shotguns at the squad of dudes in case they live through two heavy flamers (which they do, before being gunned down by the forward thinking shotgunners). One of the meltavet chimeras is able to get its hatch within 6" of that side's lead demolisher just barely (a miscalculation by Kevin), and nukes it.

Even though proxied by a CARNIFEX OF DOOM, the Sentinel fails to hit the Chimera and prepares to spit in the face of meltafire. My words of "you're only 35 points it doesn't matter" don't seem to make the pilot feel any better.

Kevin Turn 3
Kevin's demolishers find their mark more; they de-weaponize one of my last embarked vet chimeras in center, blow up another (dumping the 4 survivors out to camp on the center objective), and various other fire kills the two scout sentinels. Straken's chimera dodges multilaser fire aplenty, and the disembarked meltavet squad behind the top building aren't shot at (b/c there's nothing to shoot at them). Similarly, with demolisher fire concentrated on the bulkier mass of chimeras taking cover in the center, the south chimera w/ the trailing vet squad is ignored mostly. At this point my plan has almost come to fruition; if I can get rid of the last 2 demolishers, I can merrily "trade" straken squads, and bullrush his center with the Ogryns ... the goal here is not to table him, but to keep him hemmed in and struggling until the game is out of time and I'm sitting on 4 / 5 objectives while his survivors try to bludgeon out.

Mike Turn 4
Straken and the disembarked vets up at the top move forward and nuke his last upper vet squad's chimera, disembarking them. One empty chimera (the one that dropped the top flamer vet squad off long ago) + the deweaponized vet-toting chimera run up center right in front of Straken, setting up a plan to use movement ranges / threat bubbles to prevent him getting the charges off he'd like to / needs to. This is just move block time, and "shoot at the stuff I don't care about anymore b/c you have to" time. The south vet squad that's been wandering up behind its earlier-stunned chimera hop in, and it rolls 6" right in front of the center demolisher. The 2nd storm trooper squad arrives and drops right next to the last demolisher. The final sentinel wanders on and hides, waiting to charge a disembarked vet squad later if it can, or contest the south objective.

All goes according to plan. Straken and disembarked vets up top kill last chimera up there. Random multilaser fire shakes Kevinstraken's chimera in the center, meltavets down bottom blow up center demolisher, and suicide stormtrooper squad #2 blows up last demolisher. Ogryns are moved up as well, btw, their chimera is behind the "suicide" leaders ... again, now that the demolishers are gone, the Ogryns are stubborn and within 12" of Straken's regimental standard, have 15 T5 wounds that I'm going to keep in cover, and opponent's strength 10 weaponry is gone. They don't have to win ... they just have to be nigh on impossible for him to get rid of in time, and he's gotta get through 3 chimeras and 2 vet squads there as well, with straken bearing down and a disembarked vet squad up top, plus a storm trooper squad and a sentinel coming from the bottom. Threat overwhelmed yet?

His army could still "beat" mine at this point ... 40k is not a dice game if you can maneuver your opponent into a place where the dice no longer matter. Don't take too much from a game between a veteran and a rookie that's built to educate the rookie, but you'd be surprised at how many veteran players can be easily outmaneuvered b/c they spend their time just rolling dice and trying to get good "shots" off.

Kevin Turn 4
Kevin does what he basically has to. Unfortunate rolls up top for moving through cover; Straken's chimera immobilizes itself, and his vet squad moves 1" ... the rest of his squads stay back in their Chimeras and potshot away. Ogryn chimera is shaken, center vet chimera dies (and dudes inside are killed down to 2 fellas and break with a rr'able 7), empty suicide top chimera dies, stormtroopers die. As intended basically. Ogryns are healthy and ready to move, bottom vets are in-tact although their chimera is shaken, north vets are ok, straken and his chimera are fine.

Mike Turn 5
We down our beers and decide "last turn" due to hunger and apparent ending incoming.

Ogryns move forward into cover and get in the way, bottom vets get out and move up and kill (but sadly just wreck) the lead chimera, keeping the occupants out of ogryn charge range. Straken gets out and positions himself so that he's ~12" away from the edge of the other straken's chimera, and pots it with a pair of meltagun at-range shots. It's just a wreck, but it's plenty ... without perfect through-cover moves, Kevinstraken is not going to be able to charge Mikestraken, and that's all that matters at this point.

Top Kevinsquad gets nuked by straken's chimera's heavy flamer and small arms fire from the disembarked top vets. Kevin is now down to 3 chimeras with dudes in them, 1 disembarked and banged up squad, and disembarked "out of range of everything" Kevinstraken, and it's bottom of Turn 5 coming up.

Kevin Turn 5

Kevin does what he can ... he gets everybody out, can't get to the ogryns b/c they're wrapped by the suicide vet squad, his straken gets a 2 and a 1 on first attempt at getting to mine (ending that attempt), and that's basically that. 40 of Kev's veterans annihilate the everliving bejeesus out of my front vet squad, along with a bunch of flamers, and they wound an Ogryn. His Straken fires some angry parting shots at mine, killing a bodyguard.

Game set match, 3 objectives to 0, 3 quarters to 1, lots of victory points to not very many. Kevin learns a lot, hopefully some less experienced readers might also. Enjoy your first glimpse at our printed NOVA Open ceramic objective markers as well ... you'll all get a few at the Open!

- Mike

PS - Drink Dragon's Milk, the NOVA Open tournament organization crew approves:

Me apologizing for the messy basement while drinking Dragon's Milk:

Kevin just ... um ... drinking Dragon's Milk:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

NOVA FAQ - Beta / v1

Alright, the unpolished version of the NOVA Open's 40k FAQ is finished.

A couple of things you need to know before reading ...

1) It will be formatted / made pretty in time ... so try to withhold major formatting/appearance critique and comment (it's welcome, just ... I am probably already doing it). The reason for releasing it now, with no real formatting complete, is to ensure players the most lead time in answering additional questions / disputes they have with the FAQ

2) You'll notice the page count is significantly smaller than, say, the INAT FAQ ... this is on purpose; numerous minor questions that are either answered in the codices/rulebooks (but simply are not well read by lazy gamers) are not addressed

3) If you think a question should be answered that isn't, EMAIL ME; at the least, I will put *all* questions asked me by anyone into an Appendix, and major ones that we've MISSED (b/c I'm sure I've missed at least a couple on the first go) will be addressed

4) I recognize that the lack of attractive formatting at present will make it a little more tedious to read - bear with us

5) Do not do something silly like go through INAT and ask me every question from there that we didn't answer