Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Catching Lightning in a Bottle - Positivity and Goodwill at the NOVA Open

So this is a discussion topic; my "followership" (I hate that) has increased by like 17 in the last week, I guess that happens when you run an event and the general feedback is widely popular.

So what I want is ... opinion on why exactly there was so much extreme positivity, goodwill and happiness all over the floor at the Open this year.

There were certainly arguments and discussions of depth, and one person left to avoid (in his words) passing on his bad mood to others in any kind of negative way after starting 0-2.

So ... what did it? What can be done to further improve it? What should we be "repeating?" I've never seen such camaraderie, interaction between strangers, and general happiness at an event of this size or style before ... and I'm really interested in more than just my own closed view of the "why." So, fire away; I'll share my own thoughts independently within the comments or in another blog post in general.


  1. Obviously I wasn't there, so keep that in mind as I offer my opinion.

    Dude, you were everywhere; every forum, every blog, every site - anywhere someone talked about the event, there you were.

    Frankly, that kind of commitment and attention to detail made me think you'd do exactly what you said you would.

    My only regret was your event was so close to BoLSCon. I hope next year there is a bit more time between the two.

  2. BOLSCON needs to move to Winter. Who wants to go to Austin in July anyway?

  3. OK, here are my thoughts as to why the atmosphere was positive:

    1. Clarity of scoring -- you knew if you won, you were going up, if you lost... Plus you didn't give incentives for really squashing an opponent you'd beaten. So really, your destiny was in your own hands.

    2. Two tracks to win -- the hard-core competitive and the Ren-man track.

    3. Excellent organization -- well-run events lead to happy participants, when an event is a total charlie-foxtrot, the tension of the staff will bleed over to the participants. The staff I dealt with was always calm.

  4. It was the little ecstasy pills you put in the swag bags! Lol

    In all seriousness it was all because everyone had something going for them. Winners got to rejoice in the fact that they were winning and could move forward. While losers looked forward to th le drawings.

    Everything was also very organized, and we always knew what was going down when (thanks to drill sergeant John).

    Judges were always where they were needed, and there wasn't anything stupid in the FAQ.

    Plus the "social" the night before had everyone in good spirits.

  5. 1) The social night before hand was crucial. It was great to see people the next day and recognize them.
    2) Lack of confusion about the missions, and who was playing who.
    3) Everything was on schedule.
    4) Raffles.
    5) Swag bag.
    6) Balanced missions. No special mission rules that favor different army builds over others. (I do miss tactical objective placement though, could you bring that back pretty-please?)
    7) Awards for modelling, painting and gaming not just gaming.

  6. I didn't go, but I can comment a little bit on why I think it was successful.

    Swag bags and raffle prizes and for everyone (more for losers too!) meant that everyone stood a pretty awesome chance of going home with something.

    Separate but equal scoring. It is of my opinion that the creative sides of the hobby are equally as important as the gaming sides, however the two should never be mixed in a competitive way. By having separate but equal prizes for best looking/best played armies, it makes both sides of the equation happy. Neither the Golden Demon winner who can't play his way out of a paper bag, nor the genius tactician who lost his thumbs in an unfortunate leafblower accident (har har) got screwed over. On top of that, having a best-of Renaissance Man prize meant that it's encouraged to try to do as best as you can in both categories.

    Most of all, however, (obviously outside of the incredible level of commitment provided by you and your staff, I'm just talking about the format of the tournament itself here) I think the way scoring was done made it very easy to enjoy. With a competitive background in fighting games, the BP method of scoring tournaments never made any sense to me. The straight WLD of the Open was such a breath of fresh air. Not only does it create an objective winner (or about as objective as possible, at least, dice not withstanding), but it also makes the games themselves much more enjoyable. Someone already hit this right on in their own analysis of the Open (either Stelek or Kennedy, I think, I don't recall now) in that having no Battle Points and only WLD, makes games a lot more fun. You don't need to focus on being a dick and aiming for a massacre; even rules issues and things of that nature can slide very easily as long as you still win. BP create douchebag rule-lawyers, where WLD relieves a lot of the stress and makes games more casual. Obviously the players are still there to win, but here you get as much points for barely winning as you do for crushing your opponent, so there's no point in being a jerk.

    I don't know if I'll have an army ready for next year (I'm so slow with these things...) but if there is anything remotely resembling spectator seats, you can bet I'll be there!

  7. Wasn't there but my thoughts on the organisation:

    You catered to everyone. Gamers, hobbyists, fluffists, whatever, they had something to aim for and the competitive side of it was done right from what I can see. A single undefeated person on the last day = tick. Providing events for everyone during the 2nd day and the Friday before also seemed a huge bonus.

    From the pictures the terrain was awesome. I agree with some the LoS Towers might of been annoying in the middle of the board (perhaps shorter LoS blockers?) but the quality and spread just seemed fantastic across 40+ 40k tables.

    The goodie bag you handed out seemed to make a bunch of people happy and I'd like one sent to Australia for offical evaluation please! The overall organisation seemed great as well. Everything was up on the blog and NOVA website well beforehand and the effort behind the missions and layout was palable and much appreciated.

    My only constructive criticism I can think of having not been there is KP. I agree KP generate potential advantage for poorer lists against better lists but perhaps use a system like Stelek has advocated where you assign 5+ units of your opponent's which are your KP. This offers up the KP mechanic still but doesn't create the paradigm (however meh) of minimising KP armies. The missions were well written though so not a complaint, just food for thought I guess.

    Keep it up Mike and I hope a lot of tournaments take note of this and more of these start popping up.

  8. Oh, the streaming of games and interviews really was great for the stay-at-home-parents. Like, fantastic great.

  9. Best part about the swag bags? The laser pointers... on Day 2 about 10 of us stood around painting Stelek's face (mouth area - avoided the eyes) with lasers. I don't know why, but it was hysterical.

  10. It was, I couldn't stop giggling. lol

    Btw, my reason is simple.


    Everyone could exercise it without fear.


    I *knew* this was going to be special, that's why I made John make me go. It's everything I wanted to be for YTTH Con but finances ruined for me. Hopefully it will be awesomesauce again next year, because I plan on attending again and I've already started the groveling with the wife.

  11. Oh and I'll post my own version of the scenarios and my thoughts behind them later in the week, hopefully you can comment on zem.

    Followers are funny. I gained some. You'd think after losing and being totally invalidated I'd lose followers. :p

  12. I did not attend, but I will in the future if I possibly can.

    I have to agree with Brent that I believe it is because you were everywhere. I heard about it on quite a few Blogs and Podcasts. It was great.

    I am just sad that there were a few blogs out there that were a bit to... over zealous in their opinions about the Open.

    I also have to agree with Brent that it being so close to WarBoLScon may have hurt turn out, although I can't agree with you more about Austin in July-August.

  13. @John: The Stelek laser show was hilarious!

  14. I blame it all on those guys from Brothers Grim, they were marinated in awesomesauce. :p

  15. The social before and after was awesome. I'm gonna try to get this implemented at our GT.

    Knowing exactly what was expected of us and how the format/missions/scoring would work was huge. Too many events try to keep things a secret, but all it does is promote shenanigans. Transparency FTW.

    You and your staff were always around keeping things moving. No delays, no questions unanswered, all positive attitudes.

    The people. Everyone I met was into it and all about having fun and competing.

  16. Oh. Stelek made John make him go to NOVA. Now I understand that whole dynamic much better... :P

  17. I also didn't go, but planning on being there next year to mix it up with all of you. I organize tournaments in Indianapolis and will steal some of the ideas you have used in your open as we are looking at making our own GT here next year. The social the night before is genius. Giving strangers a common ground is essential to drawing people together.

    We are also testing the Win, Loose, or Draw method next month in a doubles tournament. I like the idea as stated in the above posts, and am excited so many players are stating pressure was taken off by this scoring system.

    I used a similar version of Stelek's 5 killpoint mission but added something that met with great reviews in my last tournament earlier this month. I added 1 kill point selected by the enemy player before deployment. Almost every player I spoke to praised this mission as it added more intrigue and strategy to the mission. Thanks Caulynndarr who I believe got it from Stelek.

    Lastly, your ability to be available both online and in your tournament seemed to ensure your tournament ran smoothly. Great Job Mike!!

  18. I don't think being close to BOLS Con made turnout for NOVA less, quite the reverse in fact.

    Ah, facts. Good to check them. :)

  19. I think if anything slowed us down it was being so close to GenCon Indie. That tripped up a number of our sponsors, who were just plain beat after attending. It wouldn't surprise me if some of our prospective players were there too.

    We still sold out our slots, though, so no harm done.

  20. It's been said before loads but whenever NOVA open was mentioned, you were there talking about it, making sure everything was known about it. Just for that you deserve major props. I'm going to try and make it to both BOLScon and the NOVA open next year (I'll be travelling form Ireland so I may as well get them both in)

  21. It was a great event and a lot of fun. Thanks to Mike and Kevin and everyone else who worked so hard to make it come off.

    I think the event catered to everyone: hyper competitive who had a good chance at going 4-0, people who love conversions, people who love meticulously painted armies, people who just want to play and win some cool stuff...I liked the way the raffle tickets went to the 'losers' of the matches. That way even if you got crushed in your first game you were thinking "Hm, well, now I get to win some cool stuff!"

    The swag bags were great, with tons of good tournament tools: calculators, laser points, pads of paper - golden!

    Playing on such professional looking boards with tons of great terrain was also good.

    I liked the socializing before and after. If you've had a beer with a guy the night before and are going to have another right after the game, the impulse to be a dick is markedly reduced.

    I liked how there were prizes for being the best general and also the best painter/converter/ren man. (I do think though that it would be wise to limit a person to one 'major' prize). You felt like there was something for everyone - and there were a lot of prizes.

    One huge component is that there were no nasty surprises Everyone knew going in exactly what the possible missions were and how things would be scored and how painting scores would work and knew what to expect. I think that helps a lot. Getting sandbagged by a fortitude mission or hold the tower mission when you didn't think that would be there could be unpleasant, but with the transparency everyone knew what to expect. I thought the missions were pretty balanced overall and didn't inordinately screw over some armies compared to others.

    I liked the system for advancing: win the game. Very simple and it wasn't hard to figure out how you were going to do.

    The tourney also ran smoothly: results were calculated and new matchups posted and off you went on the next round.

    Had a blast, will definitely attend again.

    Plus the openness and transparency and insight into your thought processes while designing the tournament helped too. Even if people maybe didn't agree entirely with how things were done, the reason why it was done that way was known and it was felt to be a reasonable choice.

  22. the back massages mike gave out are whats going to get me back next year.:)

    The boyz and i had great fun with our "sister club" brothers grimm lolz !!!

    On a serious note the tourny was run near flawlessly. I loved the format and total transparancy. prizes were great and like was said before the friday night meet and greet was a great idea.

    We will be using the format for our upcoming battle for salvation tournament in october on columbus day weekend.

    My son had a blast... 13 yrs old and was treated with respect from his 40k elders and the wiskey crew.

    I think he was in complete awe of stelek his internet hero.

  23. 1.Don't worry about all the critiques. I suggest just compiling all the feedback and let it sit for a few days and then filter through it. I think it will look different then and you'll be able to see the good from the bad.

    2. Day two events. I'm sure it's dictated by attendance, space, and... unfortunately money. I would come up with a plan and then a back-up plan. Regardless, I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the chior, no plan survives the first turn.

    3. It burns me to read people tearing down Tony Kopach's win over 3 points.

    You made a descision on how it was run. They found a mistake. It's done.

    If they can't get past it, it is their problem not yours.

    4. I'd give out one prize for dead-last. Something along the lines of a years supply of video tutorials done by Andrew Sutton.

  24. Pissclams: There was a lot of that going around. I felt oddly about it. lol

    Kellen: Thanks, #4 sounds fun. Wait a freaking minute! That's ME. =D

  25. I was not there but I think the reason was this was successful and positive atmosphere. It's starts at the top with you Mike you had an engaging positive attitude and people followed suite.Or as Bob Marley once said you had the "Positive Vibration Ya!"