Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friday Gaming - Battle for Salvation

So I've been given a heads up that on the Friday night before the Battle for Salvation next weekend, I'll be going up against Fritz from Fritz40k/Way of Saim Hainn. This will be entertaining for me, as I've never actually square off against Fritz, and we don't face a lot of Eldar these days down here.

I'll probably be bringing my guard to face up against him, but I'll have the Orks on stand-by, and just in case he brings a softer or more "fun" list for this laid back game, will use the list of mine that is most closely matched to his in terms of competitive level.  I'm looking forward to a fun and close one.

Here's where my list choices stand for the actual BFS list ...

If I don't do the Orks;

List Option 1

Company Command Squad w/ Straken, 2 Meltaguns, Astropath, 2 Bodyguards, Medic, Regimental Standard Bearer, Carapace Armor, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 345 points

Grey Knight Brother Captain - Psychic Hood, Auspex - 83 points

10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points

Platoon Command Squad w/ 2 Meltaguns, Al'Rahem, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 175 points
Infantry Squad w/ Meltagun, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 115 points
Infantry Squad w/ Meltagun, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 115 points

Vendetta - 130 points
Vendetta - 130 points
Vendetta - 130 points

1998 points total; 9 Chimeras, 3 Vendettas; Astro to allow easy Vendetta reserving if not going first; improves arrival timing and location for Al'Rahem

List Option #2
Company Command Squad w/ Straken, 2 Meltaguns, 2 Bodyguards, Astropath, Medic, Standard Bearer, Carapace, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 345 points

5 Storm Troopers w/ 2 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 160 points
5 Storm Troopers w/ 2 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 160 points

10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points
10 Veterans w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera w/ Hull Heavy Flamer, Multilaser - 155 points

Vendetta - 130 points
Vendetta - 130 points
Vendetta - 130 points

This list is similar to the Al'Rahem list, but picks up a 6th Chimelta vet squad, drops Al'Rahem, picks up 2 outflanking (if they need to) storm trooper squads (which can also suicide deep strike and let their empty Chimeras provide back-up rides and empty coverboats)

I'm liking both of these lists right now in playtest, as I've found my more dated list (originally hybridized off a pure "fluffy" build involving tons of vendettas and valkyries with furious charging grey knights in them) needs the outflanking to better threaten and deal with things like manticores and long fang missile squads.  Both lists still retain the LD-durable, hood-protected, straken-buffed core that really doesn't care how badly you de-chimera it, it'll maul most armies that get anywhere near it.

Both of these lists eschew my old standby Demolishers, which has pros and cons ... the only big con is that they can help readily deal with thunderwolf cavalry armies, but plenty of meltaguns, shotguns, heavyflamers/mulitlasers, vendetta shots, etc., will deal with those later game as well, so long as wisdom is taken to manage longer range threats early, so that when the puppies get into you you're not as debilitated by-turn from the long range fire.

Lots to ponder, but I'm not going to this one to steal the show and take the cake ... 4-7 fun games would be fine by me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Perils of Plastic Ta Ta's

That is a photo of the new model for Lelith Hesperax .  Already my title is a little off, as she will be in metal, but whatever.

I was reading through the Dark Eldar rumors thread on Dakka, and there was a massive argument that developed with people either upset by or claiming their right to fawn over the boobage/anatomy of little miniatures.  Furthermore, some people were complaining about the fact that the new Dark Eldar models didn't have enough boobage.

People ....



We're a hobby plagued by stereotypes and social norm violations of epic proportions.  People who don't wash properly, who don't wear deodorant (or take back-up deodorant with them to the damned tournaments they attend), people who basically fantasize to little toy soldier boobs, etc.

There is absolutely no reason for perversion, poor hygiene, etc. to have a more rightful place in OUR hobby than anywhere else.  Now, hey, who am I to judge what others should or shouldn't do ... I know, maybe I'm being judgmental.  But ... seriously.  Seriously you guys, seriously.

Furthermore, none of this bullshit "oh I'm just respecting and admiring the female form you got a problem with that?!?!?!" ... you're not admiring the female form.  You're admiring a lump of plastic or metal, molded from a cast that was created from a lump of modeling material carved out by some dude, and/or by some dude working on CAD.

This is actually worse than playing with your sister's naked barbie dolls.  Stop complaining about them not being feminine or booby enough; stop admiring that you think they ARE feminine/booby enough.  If you'd like, I'd be happy to spend some time talking about how to go to a bar, strike up a conversation, and end the night admiring some REAL tatas (or at least some silicone ones).

In relation to this, make sure you shower and put on deodorant first.  Oh, and shave your neck.  At least.

PS - In other news, the new Dark Eldar rules and models are pretty rocking.  Yay new codices!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Adepticon Team Tournament 2011 - 2 x Teammates Sought

So I've buddied up with Tim Williamson from The Tau of War, who in addition to being a solid gamer and all around awesome dude is a PRETTY ... GOOD ... PAINTER.  This is important, as I am simply "ok" at it. Painting, competitive list building, competitive play, and also a certain approach to sportsmanship all combine in value and importance for the Adepticon Team Tournament, which is Adepticon's premier event.

There's something about the Adepticon Team Tournament that I find fascinating, and that's the combination of hard-ass lists, awesome themes, and also ... dicky people sometimes.  What I mean by that, is that when you have 3 of your good friends near you, and you've spent months painting/theming/displayboarding/practicing/getting ready for this thing and traveled across country for it ... I guess the whole "sportsmanship" thing can go out the window some, and arguments/aggressive attitudes *can* intensify.  As such, if you go, you need to be able to be a "give nothing, take everything" competitor WHILE retaining your cool and being a fun, affable teammate and opponent.

I don't think the same group that I went with last year will be assembled again, we went 6-2 and finished 10th out of 110 teams.  I want to go first this year, no point getting ready for it if you don't!  As such, fielding interest from folks who'd like to join the team ... applies to old teammates and new, even theoretically people who don't know me as well (As those who DO know me will attest to how quickly and readily new friends are welcome to the crew).

The rest is the "recruitment" post Tim put together for the forums of a couple of local clubs.

Mike Brandt and Tim Williamson are looking for team members for the Adepticon Team Tournament. We're looking to win the whole thing and that means having a beautifully painted themed army that wrecks face but plays nice. We're looking for 2 good sports to join our team.

The potential team member must be willing to:
-pay for his own ticket to adepticon.
-pay for his own room and board.
-participate in practice gaming sessions in the months prior to Adepticon.
-contribute to a team effort to assemble and paint 4,000 points and a themed display board.
-fully commit to attending Adepticon come hell or high water, no last minute bailing.

We have a pretty awesome theme for our army but that won't be revealed online. If you're interested in taking part, kicking ass at Adepticon and winning this thing, send me a PM or email me at timandlucka at gmail dot com.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MSU, Mission Design, etc.; Analysis and Observation

It's been too long since I wrote an article, sorry about that - call it the hectic story of my last few weeks of life.  The Lost Days of Mike Brandt

Bachelor Party this weekend went off largely without a hitch.  We lost a man at the strip club at the end of the night's bar hopping revelries.  Fine, though, left more room in the Limo for the final ride back to our point of origin.  I hope he's ok, he was a cool fellow.

It's not a successful bachelor party if you don't misplace a person.

In other news, 40k stuff ... I've been building/painting/playing getting ready for my lil trip up to White Plains for the Battle for Salvation.

There's been lots of talk of MSU armies and their presence in the game.  The Battle for Salvation strongly encourages MSU by inclusion of the "pick 5 KP" mission.  It would actually be better done to select the 5 KP *after* deployment and mission selection, etc., but when it's done prior to that you reward people with the greatest amount of redundancy and spam ... if you nominate 3 vet squad chimeras and 2 of the included vet squads, for example, a guard player with 6 vet squads in chimeras can readily afford to reserve 1 or 2 of them to hide 2-4 kp from you altogether.  The more redundancy a player's list contains, the easier it is for you.  They even further add an amendment that you can only nominate 3 dedicated transports; this obviously even further rewards people who spam out ded trans and min size units.  The more you have, the less your opponent can materially target by nominating them as KP *(since the more you have, the more you can afford to reserve/hide them).

This is a spin somewhat off the YTTH 5x5 mission.  To be truthful, I've never been a huge fan, simply b/c an opponent can so materially alter the flow of the game with his KP nominations before deployment or side selection even begins.  I'm not a fan of that, nor am I a fan of unnaturally promoting MSU; it promotes itself with the game "as is," and is relatively balanced within a variety of mission archetypes (including NOVA quarters, VP, 5-objective, regular book KP, HQ, d3+2 objective, the 5 side of 5x5, etc.).

That said, the 5x5 is one of the better missions out there if you're looking for some to play.  Within our group, we've actually slowly gotten away from book missions, b/c there's a pervasive opinion that several tournaments have simply put out BETTER missions for the balance of the game (and we have our fair share of players who do NOT MSU), and for fun / tactical depth.

For better or worse, if you're playing amongst a group of veteran players, the three book missions are simply TOO shallow to actually be competitive.  Kill Points becomes a crap shoot even among similar-levels-of-kp armies, and the other two are easily drawn; basically, unless you crush the other guy, you wind up with draws.  Blame me playing in a group of players who ALL run mega optimized, highly effective lists.

All this said, it's important to acknowledge a couple of things about why MSU is popular, and why mission design doesn't really have anything to do with that ...

Reasons why someone should/does take an MSU-oriented list ...
  1. Redundancy
    1. Offensive Redundancy - 40k is not a game where the more expensive or filled out a unit is, the more things it can shoot at; if every unit in the game gained the ability to split fire like long fangs once at double "base" strength, quadruple it at quadruple base strength, etc., there'd instantly be less value to MSU.  Sadly, such is not the case.  If I have 2 squads of 5 with 2 meltaguns each, I can more effectively kill things than 1 squad of 10 with 2 meltaguns total.  There are some cases where MSU is not as effective BY DESIGN in certain codices, but as a general rule where it makes sense, it's sensible to act upon it.  There's also the ability to spread fire, which is of course important for dealing with OTHER MSU forces.  In the above example, even if the 10-man squad could carry 4 meltaguns and the 5-man only 2, you'd still want 2 5-man squads.  Why?  You can't seriously be asking why.  Shooting two targets if you need to is always better than only being able to shoot one with the same # of models and points.  Advocating for a game where you can't do this by design is advocating for a less tactically flexible game.  If your opponent can hurt more things, you need more things for him to hurt, and the more complex moving parts you have to manage, the more difficult to manage properly ... games that tend toward MSU tend toward more tactical depth.  But I'll get to that.
    2. Defensive Redundancy - Similar to the Offensive Redundancy issue, MSU provides Defensive Redundancy.  If my opponent was foolish enough to take a bunch of big hammers, his big hammers may be able to kill a 10-man unit with 4 meltaguns readily.  They also therefore can kill a 5-man unit with 2 meltaguns readily.  Regardless, in the case of 2 squads of 5 I know he generally can't use that one megaunit to kill both of my units in one turn.  Defensive Redundancy means splitting yourself down into less easily targeted and destroyed subcomponents.  This is why you combat squad in non-kill point missions ... and this is why ONLY in Kill Point missions does anyone NOT; an artificial punishment to good common sense is the only real inhibitor.
  2. Tactical Depth - This one isn't as complicated as some people would make it out to be.  What do you suppose Chess would be like if you had 2 pawns, 1 queen, 1 bishop, 1 rook, TOTAL?  Do you think the game would be just as tactically deep?  There comes a point in time in game design and balance where too many units is a bad thing; not because it isn't more tactical, but because it's too unwieldy.  Trying to manage 30 pawns, 5 queens, 10 bishops, etc., on the board would be obscene, b/c the game would take too long.  Nonetheless, there's a sweet spot of time invested vs. tactical depth that needs to be hit for a game to really hit its stride.  If my opponent has 20 threats and I have 20 units to manage toward those threats, the game is going to require more forethought, planning, placement, etc., than if my opponent has 5 threats and I have 5 units to manage them with.  You can apply real world examples to this from 40k - it is WHY some people get so frustrated with MSU armies ... because if they take a list with 2 big nob biker hammer units and they have to manage an opponent with 20 units firing at them, all of which have the tools to harm them, it just becomes frustrating.  This is where human habit of blaming others comes into its own ... instead of pondering the weakness in their own approach, a person will go "YOU HAVE A STUPID MSU ARMY RAWR."  Or whatever.  Truth is someone brought a knife to a gunfight ... instead of wanting missions that allow you to knife gunfighters to death, maybe you should just play with other knife-fighters ... not a bad idea, right?  Either way, I don't personally tend to play "pure" MSU armies; I tend to play a lot of MSU with more expensive investments placed in "enablers" that help my MSU perform better.  This leads into point #3.
  3. Skill-Based Points Escalation - If someone with BS4 shoots a plasmagun at a 40 point regular terminator in ruins, he needs a 3+ to hit, a 2+ to wound, and the terminator gets a 4+ cover save (unless he goes to ground).  If someone with BS4 shoots a plasmagun at a 5 point regular guardsman in ruins, he needs a 3+ to hit, a 2+ to wound, and the guardsman gets a 4+ cover save (unless he goes to ground).  By placing a guardsman in ruins (a tactically wise move if you want him to survive shooting), you make him as durable vs. heavy weapons fire as a TERMINATOR in ruins.  This sound obvious?  Most people don't get it.  The cheaper and more utilitarian a unit is, the more you can stretch out of it by playing with SKILL.  While sticking a guardsman in ruins is at best a rudimentary demonstration of "skill," it is a good starting point analogy for the general thesis here.  Expensive, antithetical-to-MSU units can readily have their advantages (that you've invested in) stripped away by a clever opponent.  If you spend 40 points on a terminator, and someone levels a plasmagun at you ... CRAP.  If you spend 5 points on a guardsman, and someone levels a plasmagun at you .. WHO CARES.  While all units, regardless of their cost, can be played above their investment by the application of skill ... cheaper units cost you far less when your opponent outwits you at a given point or time.  While it can be enjoyable to carry around a beatstick that willfully gives YOURSELF an Achilles Heel, I wouldn't call it tactically deep gaming if everyone ran around with such things.
 I'm rambling, but that's what I do.  The general point I'm going to now tie this to is as follows:
MSU isn't bad.  MSU is really, really good, as a *general* tactic in gaming across the board.  In the STANDARD version of Warhammer 40k, the STANDARD rulebook, MSU is a great idea still as a GENERAL rule.  Do I think every component of your army should be MSU'ed out?  No, it tends to not be a good idea to, but this isn't an article on list-building finesse ... simply on the "general" use of MSU and small unit redundancy in your standard army build (and almost every codex can do this to varying degrees).

Kill Points is often espoused as a balancer of MSU, but it's not.  Not at all, in fact.  When you attend a tournament, there are a couple of things in play.  1) If they are truly playing 100% by the book, you only have a 33% chance per round of having to deal with kill points.  2) Since MSU is far more useful in the other 67% of the missions, far more players have higher kill point totals than not.  3) 1+2 means that you're not likely to run into a majority of missions being kill points, and mean that if you DO have a kill point mission you are more likely to draw someone with a similarly high number than not.  To that end also, you are fully capable of pulling someone with FEWER KP than you either way.  While you COULD artificially alter the # of kp you'd normally bring in the HOPES that it didn't hamstring you for non-KP missions, and the HOPE that you ran into someone with MORE KP in the KP mission ... it's not wise.  This is why *most* people don't really do it.

If you aren't doing standard book play (which means if you aren't randomly generating the mission at every table every round, and yeah ... nobody does that), you're doing a different form of 40k than the book according to the wild bunch of crazies out there who scream that unless you do book missions you're not playing "real" 5e 40k.  Seriously ... nobody does this anyway.  If you firmly fix 1 mission as KP, 1 mission as capture and control, and 1 mission as loot counters ... you're playing 40k "your way," according to those who scream that the missions suggested in the book are the ONLY legitimate ways to play "real" 40k, and you're NOT playing "real" 40k.  This becomes tiresome quickly.

So, do people win tournaments with kill point optimized non-MSU low-unit-count lists?  Yup.  Often they are really good players.  I'm not saying it's impossible or wrong or bad or whatever.  BUT it's not the norm; go ahead and analyze the average lists winning tournaments around the country, ESPECIALLY tournaments with enough rounds to pit players against a wide variety of opponents (aka, not 3 rounds for 240, or really 3 rounds at all).

Unless every mission or at least the majority of missions are KP, you aren't pushing away from MSU with your mission build-outs.  So what happens if you remove KP ... do you alter the list building of players who win major GT's with lower KP totals?  Well, no; they themselves have been seen to claim that MSU doesn't threaten them at all and they'd build their non-MSU lists that way anyway.  OK, what about the players who are winning GT's with higher KP totals ... more MSU?  Are you altering the way they play?  Again, no, rather obviously on that count.

What about the rest of the tournament fields, then, what happens to those if you remove KP as a mission / remove other artificial limiters of MSU?  Well, take a look at the Open, or WGC, or numerous other tournaments that have eschewed KP.  You see - generally - a higher level of tough list building at the middling and lower tables.  Frankly, given the above data about how some level of MSU is good for you and the game tactically, I think this is a GOOD THING.  Encouraging players who haven't developed enough confidence to build their lists how they want "regardless" of mission formatting to actually develop more tactically flexible lists is a good thing to do.

There is a flip-side to this as well ... and that's the utilization of missions that actually ENCOURAGE MSU by their very design.  This is bad also.  Wait, why?  Well, as a general rule there are some codices that cannot MSU as well as others, just as their are codices that can't go super low on KP as well as others.  When you start screwing with the mission format you start to imbalance codices against each other, and that's not a very strong thing to do.  Seriously, other than DA and Necron, every codex out there right now has full capacity to field highly competitive lists with HEALTHY doses of MSU in the 1500-2000 point ranges.  The problem is, what does an Ork player do in a KP setting?  He could take nob biker armies, but they get obliterated by guard and wolf armies that spam S8 weaponry and MSU.  He could take trukk/kan/buggy/wagon spam armies that use mass redundancy to overcome Ork weaknesses vs. mech/MSU but get crushed in the KP setting b/c of open topped AV10 kill points.  Lose lose.  ONE of the reasons why some people consider Orks to be crap in the tournament setting.

What about things like the 5x5, where an opponent nominates 5 units and only those can be scored as KP?  Here's my one little issue with this mission type.  If an army has NO lynchpins, is just pure MSU, it's advantaged in this mission.  Why?  Simply leave the nominated score-possible parts in reserve, and still have all of the same tools (sans a few) for the early parts of the game that you would have had anyway.  What about armies that need to have a couple of larger point investments present and functional to get things going for them?  Well, they get potentially screwed, don't they?

Every codex, literally, has POTENT builds that operate well in a VP style or simply non-MSU-balancing setting.  They carry healthy doses of MSU/redundancy, and then either go heavier or lighter on it at their owner's discretion, for NATURAL advantages and disadvantages either way.  It's when you add in artificial bounds that you start to fuck with CODEX balance, and therein lies the rub.

One thing is for sure ... I would generally contest the claim that every component of the rulebook needs to be in play for the game to be a "true 5e" game of 40k.  Might as well claim campaigns and campaign rules need to be used in a tournament setting, and that the games need to occur at multiple points levels throughout (since a points range is what's recommended).  The RULES of 5th edition, and the CODICES that guide army build, are the core of the game.  By hook or by crook, with few exceptions, both the rules and codices are pretty damned well balanced right now.  It remains true, however, that EVERY army needs a certain level of MSU and redundancy to best compete, and NOT every codex can compete equally well when bounded by punishments for taking too few or too many units.  These are powerful things to consider when building/designing missions, and when building/designing army lists.

Believe it or not, these things WERE considered in terms of building and playtesting the NOVA missions.  We still probably have tweaking and work to do moving forward, but each mission rewards fluctuations from an "average" amount of MSU and punishes those fluctuations.  Smaller units are easier to kill, and thus easier to score full VP off.  Larger units score more VP IF killed, but are harder to kill, and can better capture things like Quarters at half strength.  Unit size is well balanced by VP as standard, and the Quarters mission (which many people misplayed and mis-analyzed) slightly advantages a player who has more than just straight MSU, and can field a couple of stronger/higher points units that are able to survive sustained fighting at the center of the board, where shuffling their larger points value even at half strength can actually materially alter the results of the game.

Probably our biggest "fault" is the 5 objective mission, which while contestable at all probably punishes lower-MSU just a little too much.

Regardless, this is all food for thought.  Kill Points and 5-KP-nominate missions ... I don't agree with either, b/c they fundamentally screw with the basic balance and concepts of the game right now.  Kill Points itself, well, let's subject it to some serious ass analysis and an open mind, eh?  We used KP in our tournaments and leagues for over 2 years before we dropped them, and then playtested non-KP-inclusive missions literally thousands of times across playergroups as widespread as Australia and Alaska.  We're still trying to make the right choices here, but I encourage ya'll to do the same.  GW has made a ton of mistakes before; why give them too much cred here, especially when their next-released ruleset actually eschewed KP altogether?  Furthermore, why apply critique to MSU without giving it a fair shake?  Everything in moderation, perhaps.

I was tempted to go back and "refine" this, but it's my style to be a little unpolished when blogging, and maybe it'll help stir up some conversation as well.

 - Mike

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Guard List *Possibles* for Battle for Salvation

Not sure if they'll be ready/painted in time to field, and I'm kind of geeking on bringing out the orks. I've been starting an overhaul of the guard model count and increasing my model total so I can play with more variation, but here's the first of many optional builds for Strakenguard at BFS (presuming assembly/conversion/painting is all done in time).

All Chimeras will of course be hull heavy flamer Chimeras.

Option #1
Straken + Bodyguard + 2 Melta + Medic + Cara + Banner + Chimera - 300

Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155
Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155
Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155
Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155
Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155

Platoon Command Squad w/ Autocannon, 2 Flamers, Chimera - 105
Guard Squad w/ Autocannon, Chimera - 115
Guard Squad w/ Autocannon, Chimera - 115

Vendetta - 130
Vendetta - 130

Demolisher w/ Hull Heavy Flamer - 165
Demolisher w/ Hull Heavy Flamer - 165

In this particular variation, the guard squads will occasionally stay back as screens and early "annoying gnat" fire support ... screens to protect russes/vendettas (which can often have no choice but to be within 12" of some board edge) from BEL scouts, deep striking melta threats and outflankers, etc.

When that's not an issue, or against a shootier opponent, they roll up to add bodies to the mass of assaulters and close range baiters, to play the close shuffle and pinwheel chimera games, which are my sweet spot and comfort zone. If they stay back, their pair of chimeras are useful as cover and spare rides.

This thematic is pretty true throughout the variants, it's a matter of selecting where to invest the points

Option #2
Straken + 2 Bodyguards + 2 Melta + Medic + Cara + Banner + Chimera - 315

5 Stormtroopers w/ 2 Meltaguns - 105
5 Stormtroopers w/ 2 Meltaguns - 105
5 Stormtroopers w/ 2 Meltaguns - 105

Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155
Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155
Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155
Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155
Veterans w/ Shotguns, 3 Meltaguns, Chimera - 155

Platoon Command Squad w/ Autocannon, 2 Flamers, Chimera - 105
Guard Squad w/ Autocannon, Chimera - 115
Guard Squad w/ Autocannon, Chimera - 115

Vendetta - 130
Vendetta - 130

This variant rather obviously eschews the Demolishers / Russ Chassis to pick up a trio of suicide melta storm trooper squads; these are more than just suicide against a lot of armies, where 5 man squads with carapace armor can easily and readily even gun down or hold up long fangs, devastator squads, and other units with firing and combat just long enough. They obviously use the deep strike scatter/re-roll doctrine in this scenario.

There are about 15 other variants, including the use of a lord commissar with power fist, brother captain with hood, extra vendettas and demolishers, more or less vets, etc. It's a lot to mull about, but the heart of it is that I'm slowly transferring from Catachan models over to Cadians with Pig Iron system trooper closed heads:

And some other conversion bits and what-not, including some cool weapon bits as lasguns and shotguns, yatta yatta.

Lots to consider and tweak with; there are changing conditions in the game that need to be addressed as a general rule; Strakenguard developed as a "fluff" list originally, it's not necessarily as potent as guard can be, but can be very good when played well (something I rather stumbled upon to be honest) ... the more competitive an environment will be, the more in depth you need to think about and be careful about what you bring. Orks for me are an easier one, b/c there's one build I've played for years, and because they're more of a "fun who cares" list.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I know it's a convention, but seriously. The EveryCon Conundrum. Or, a short and cranky rant!

It's 7:07PM on a Friday night, I'm still at work, and for some reason, right now, it's bothering the crap out of me that every single GT (even when it's JUST a GT) has this crazy obsession with adding "con" to the end of their name.

STOP IT ALREADY. HAVE SOME IMAGINATION. CALLING YOUR EVENT "LOCALSCRUBRTTCON" is not going to get me to attend. It's not catchy or cute. It's unoriginal.

Oh, and Stelek, stop calling the NOVA --- NOVACON.

Next we'll have the Jamescon

Followed by the Wrathcon

And the OCDcon to follow

And of course, they can rename the new Hawaii 5.0 to SCOTTCON

Because you know, whatever, just call it a Con.

Oh, by the way, apparently I'm playing either Fritz or Danny Internets at the Battle For Salvation's own version of the Whiskey Challenge / Celebrity Deathmatch thing. How bout dat.

Not sure I'll actually go, though ... they've got no cred at all ... maybe if they were named THE BATTLE FOR SALVATCON.

[Caan, Khaaaaaaaan, Con Men, Caan(2)]

The NOVA Invitational, 2011 - How / What / Why / Etc.

OK, brass tacks, as I've talked about this for a bit now.

I don't believe in national championships, superlatives, etc. in this hobby of ours. It's too heterogeneous on multiple levels, from list building to local skill ranges to mission formats by tournament to scoring by tournament, etc.

As such, you can't have a national championship that actually means anything. What you can do, however, is host a high quality, neutral site Invitational for the best performers from some of the bigger and/or better events country (and eventually world) wide, to at least give people a taste of some great players all going at it within a format that ensures all games are tough and well measured.

So what are a few things you can count on for the Invitational in terms of format, before I get to the "how do I attend?" and "what does it mean" and "why are you doing this" etc.

1) Well-versed and well-rehearsed referees at every table. Refereeing 40k is an important thing to get "right" if you're going to do it, but it accomplishes a few things that are very important ...
  • Prevents almost all forms of cheating
  • Prevents major rules arguments
  • Prevents attitude bullying people into submission
2) Relatively basic missions ... though we will probably use the "no ties" and tiered format of the NOVA, the missions/goals themselves will probably more closely match the rulebook, and that's a big deal. People attending an Invitational will be doing so because of their performance at a wide variety and scope of tournament setting. Though some invites will be handed out to NOVA style tournaments, it's unrealistic and unfair to invite people to compete against other bests from other events, and favor the event too heavily toward one "style." Everyone is familiar with the book missions, plays them regularly, etc., and so we will likely be truer to that.

3) Prizes. Our plan is cash prizes at this point, BIG cash prizes. Some people object to this as bringing out the "worst" in competitors, but here's the reason that isn't actually going to be as big a deal (and trust me a little - everyone complained sportsmanship would be a big deal at the Open when we divorced it completely from competitive score and ... it was one of the least dramatic tournaments I've seen, and others had seen by their testimony) ...
  • Referees - Referees at tables enforcing legal movement, legal play, resolving and presiding over rules disputes, etc. basically nullify a TON of the "problems" that can be encountered in this regard
  • Quality Qualification - The heads of the tournaments and leagues and such that are being given a few invitations each are being spoken to at length about the attendance of great PEOPLE, not just great competitors; everyone should be quite good at the game, must have a fully painted army, etc., but must also be a great sport; assholes will not be invited, nor tolerated at the event ... being a dick will be the quickest way to NOT win any cash
  • Preventative Maintenance - We spoke via e-mail with every attendee of the open AT LENGTH, via a series of newsletters leading up to it. These belabored the importance of behavior and representing not just oneself, but one's hobby in an appropriate fashion; we also warned about how hawkishly we'd be monitoring things.
  • In short, the Referees will solve it most; example - we had a person who scored lowest sports bludgeon several of his opponents into losses by cheating the timer, being a general dick, etc.; I don't think he does this on purpose, as much as subconsciously when he really wants to win; when he went up against his last opponent and we were aware of it by then, and stationed a judge just hanging out at the table all game. His behavior became that of a perfect gentleman. It works, seriously.
  • Douches are douches, gentlemen are gentlemen, etc. - It's widely known people who are douchey act like douches even just to win pride, even to win their 4th game when they are 0-3 already, even to win a few plastic toy soldiers, and yes, even potentially to win a thousand dollars cash. Managing these issues, addressing them with format, judging approach, rules, etc., is how you fix it ... not ... giving up on your prizes. Fear is stupid, proactive problem resolution is awesome. Not going forward with an AWESOME prize idea because you're "afraid" of a jerk is ... well, come on now. That's not how you become a successful tournament. You preempt and proactively address problems, you don't shy away from them.
4) Timing - At present, we're planning on 4 rounds Friday, final round after the NOVA Open GT Finals on Sunday. Everyone plays in the Open GT Finals this time around; we coined this notion actually before the Open this year, just didn't have the space available within our budget to execute it.

So, how do I get invited to the Invitational?
Well, there are two options here

Option 1
- Perform well enough in the singles 40k events at ...
  • NOVA Open 2010 (Yes, these have already been handed out)
  • Adepticon 2011 (4 Invitations)
  • WarGamesCon 2011 (4 Invitations)
  • Battle for Salvation 2010 (2 Invitations)
  • Bolter Beach 2011 (2 Invitations)
  • Several other events still TBD, including at least one in California, probably one in Utah, and one or two more in New England and PA
Option 2
- Find a way to legitimately earn an at-large invitation; I will hand out a few of these, based upon a wide number of factors (including but not limited to: reputation, noteworthy success across numerous events, rankingshq, etc.)

Next up, What does it mean?

Well, formally speaking, nothing. If all goes as planned, you will get to claim some bragging rights against a pretty talented field if you do well, and you'll win some really nice swag. We're not trying to claim "competitive national championship" status here; it's simply an invitational 5-round, 32-player tournament occurring during the NOVA Open 2011 Convention Weekend. The prizes and competition are your reason to come ... not any kind of claim of "bestest field of competitors evar!!!!111"

Finally, Why are you doing this?

This component is about bringing the tournament scene closer together, about giving cred to tournaments that put on a really great show and giving them a way to sorta prove that, about giving tournament organizers a little bit of bragging right shots when the people THEY send to the Invitational win it :) ... in short, again, about bringing us all a little closer together, and about adding a little pomp, pizazz and spectator-pleasing fanfare to our tournament scene. Every convention has its own unique flair and themes, and one of ours is getting some of the big name heavy hitters from around the 40k world together to duke it out; we got this rolling with our Whiskey Challenges last year, and getting it going again more with an Invitational is another way to go about it. I want all the tough top players out there to have a few ways to go about at least trying to really prove it, and the more we get all the tournaments buzzing together, sending players back and forth, and having little events where bragging rights can be gained helps get this all rolling even more. Besides, one of the claims everybody always has about any tournament is that regardless of the missions and scoring and format and yatta yatta, the winner(s) clubbed baby seals along the way. Here's a shot for anyone who comes to know right from the get go, not a single easy fight'll even luck its way into their path.

Well, or so we hope.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What to Bring to the Battle for Salvation - Choices, WYSIWYG, Etc.

Well, my guard army is a bit in flux right now; I use / have always used lasguns as shotguns in my guard lists, b/c I've never fielded regular guardsmen - every lasgun in the army is in fact a shotgun, and there are no real shotgun models.

We actually permit that at the Open as well, to a limited extent - namely, if you don't really have access to easy alternative pieces, and every single weapon of a certain basic type is the same across your army, you can work it in.

The Battle for Salvation is formally a little more strict about it, and the army is in kind of a flux state anyway, *AND* I'm just going to support them for doing a NOVA format and to have fun.

As such, I think I'll be takin' Da Orkz.

Planned list at the moment will be ...

Big Mek w/ Kustom Force Field - 85 points

3 Nobz w/ Choppas/Sluggas - 60 points
Battlewagon Dedicated Transport w/ Deffrolla, Big Shoota - 115 points

3 Nobz w/ Choppas/Sluggas - 60 points
Battlewagon Dedicated Transport w/ Deffrolla, Big Shoota - 115 points

Deff Dread w/ Skorchas - 85 points
11 boyz + PK/Bosspole Nob - 112 points
Trukk Dedicated Transport w/ Reinforced Ram - 40 points
11 boyz + PK/Bosspole Nob - 112 points
Trukk Dedicated Transport w/ Reinforced Ram - 40 points
11 boyz + PK/Bosspole Nob - 112 points
Trukk Dedicated Transport w/ Reinforced Ram - 40 points
11 boyz + PK/Bosspole Nob - 112 points
Trukk Dedicated Transport w/ Reinforced Ram - 40 points
11 boyz + PK/Bosspole Nob - 112 points
Trukk Dedicated Transport w/ Reinforced Ram - 40 points

3 Warbuggies w/ Twin-Linked Rokkit Launchas - 105 points
3 Warbuggies w/ Twin-Linked Rokkit Launchas - 105 points
3 Warbuggies w/ Twin-Linked Rokkit Launchas - 105 points

3 Killa Kanz w/ Grotzookas - 135 points
3 Killa Kanz w/ Grotzookas - 135 points
3 Killa Kanz w/ Grotzookas - 135 points

Standard overwhelm-you Ork list, fully capable of overwhelming vehicle MSU armies, laughs missile-spam loganwing style armies off the table, etc. Still has its struggles, b/c it is Orks after all :)

26 Vehicles plzkthx

Two of the boyz squads steal the Deffrolla rides early, pref. turn 1 (unless opponent has absurd amount of long range indirect fire template weaponry or whatever), and nothing matters. For those who've faced this list under the control of a good player, you can kill both Deffrolla Wagons and the KFF Mek and still be tabled on turn 6 ... which is the design.

Either way, it's well and fully painted, and is a hoot to play around with :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NOVA Open 40k Next Year, Schedule Development

At next year's Open we have numerous tracks of gaming to go through ... in 40k alone here's what the schedule is starting to shape up as ...

We'll be doing Weekend Badges for somewhere in the region of $25-30, and then charging small fees for each event (basically, the way Adepticon functions). Fees will vary based upon what it costs us to run them / the prize return. In order to participate in a single major tournament over the weekend (i.e. the NOVA Open GT) and secure your weekend badge, the prices should remain somewhere in the $50-65 range net for the weekend badge / swag bag / free events / open gaming / social hours / GT. So no worries about paying the same as you did this year to get actually more. We'll probably have "bulk" purchases that'll discount you if you want to buy a "track." I.E. the Hardcore Gaming Track would get you a competitive tournament experience on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, along with either NOVAcalypse or a night fighting event (we're at least talking about having smaller nightlong mini tourneys for those people who really want to bleed their eyes out wargaming all weekend).

One of our goals here is to provide a ton of things to do for those who just want a few games, but also to provide a really hardcore gaming experience for others ... if you were to participate in the Whiskey Challenge on Thursday night, the Invitational on Friday, the Open on Saturday and Invitational/Open on Sunday, and NOVAcalypse Friday and Saturday nights, you'd play 15 games of 40k.

Thursday PM
- Whiskey Challenge matches, social hours and open gaming

Friday AM-PM
- Warhammer 40k NOVA Invitational Championship Day 1, $1,000+ cash prizes for Renaissance Man and Tournament Champion of this event, which will be qualified for at major events across the continent, including Adepticon, Wargamescon, Mechanicon, etc.; 4 Rounds
- Warhammer 40k Team Narrative Tournament Day 1 (optional participation in Days 1, 2, or both), 3 Rounds

Friday PM
- NOVAcalypse Round 1

Saturday AM-PM
- Warhammer 40k NOVA Open GT Day 1 (128-256 slots, still being determined), 4 Rounds
- Warhammer 40k Team Narrative Tournament Day 2 (optional participation in Days 1, 2, or both), 3 Rounds

Saturday PM
- NOVAcalypse Round 2

Sunday AM-EarlyPM
- Warhammer 40k NOVA Open GT Day 2 (128-256 slots, still being determined), 3 Rounds
- Warhammer 40k NOVA Invitational Championship Day 2 (32 slots total), 1 Round

So there's a lot of 40k, but there's narrative track 40k on all days and hardcore track 40k on all days; with the way we calibrate the Renaissance Man and Tournament Champion awards, there's a hobby-emphasized track and a hardcore-emphasized track also within each tournament - the Open and the Invitational.

Anywho, one thing I'd ask - if you browse this blog, and are planning on attending the Open Convention next year (probable late August), please actually post and let us know. The number of slots we plan for the 40k event will hinge heavily on our ability to predict attendance. I *know* we're going to sell out 128 after this year's success; whether we move to 256 is the big question, as well as whether we'll sell a ton or only a few of the narrative team tournament slots.

NOVAcalypse Test Drive Results

This past Saturday a bunch of the guys got together for a test drive of some of the missions and concepts behind NOVAcalypse; if you've been following along with the blog, you're familiar with it, but I'll do a brief summary.

NOVAcalypse is the "cool down period" for Friday and Saturday. A giant, interlinked event under the overall command of some pretty big name people in the 40k world (I can't talk about this quite yet), with kegs of beer lining the giant circle of tables, giant warmachines battling it out at the center across a replica DC National Mall, random hand-out prizes and a laid back atmosphere. It'll be 1500 points per player, 2-man teams, with clubs being able to "enter" together with their club leader as a sub-commander, etc. We're working through a ton of the details, but it should be fun ... this is going to be a big planning year for us.

We'll probably have a "club competition" across the breadth of the Open Convention next year, and NOVAcalypse will be a big part of the net score for that.

The teams and players and lists were basically as follows for this weekend's games ...

Team "Adepticon" - Overall Remote Commander: Matthias (Adepticon TO) - Imperial Faction
Synopsis - Marines with Inquisition Support Landing on a Tau-Converted Imperial World

Team 1 - Dark Angels (Autolas preds, dreadnaught, deathwing termies, tac squads in rhinos) + Imperial Guard (trips demolishers, 6 chimeras with meltavets, company command and lord commissar)

Team 2 - Sisters of Battle (Immo Spam w/ 2 Exorcists) + Sisters of Battle (Fluffier w/ penitents, arco-flagellants, seraphim, but still some basic melta sissies in rhinos)

Team 3 - Space Wolves (trips plasmabacks with dual tricked twolf lords with lone wolves and trips vindicators) + Blood Angels (trips ac/hb baals with trips autolas preds with libby, priest and 4 MSU asm rhino squads)

Team "WarGamesCon" - Overall Remote Commander: JWolf (WGC TO) - Planetary Faction
Synopsis - Tau field commander with converted IG allies (was supposed to be dual Tau, last minute drop/change) readies the defense, while the forces of the orks and chaos grow restless with the impending war

Team 4 - Tau (Railguns, Hammerhead + Misplas crisis team/hq + fire warriors + kroot) + Imperial Guard (5 Meltavets + Melta CCS all in Chimeras + 3 Vendettas + platoon command flamers + 2 IG squads)

Team 5 - CSM (Dameon Green's well-known and GW-site-published LED-lit 1ksons ... oblits + defilers + winged princes + greater daemon + dreadnaughts + csm in rhinos) + Khornate Daemons (Rushputin's well-painted Khornate Demons army ... 2 winged khornate princes, 2 bloodthirsters, various other khorney things) ... This was a 3 dreadnaught 7 monstrous creature combined army

Team 6 - CSM (Berserkers + Kharne + Oblits + Land Raider w/ LC Terms) + Orks (rookie Ork in the AM, veteran Ork in the PM, both kan/buggy/trukk/bwag KFF spam lists)

If you'll use this as a reference, it covers the Sectors/Missions, etc.

You'll make sense of the results.

First, assignments for Round 1

Matthias assigned teams as follows:
Team 1 to Sector 2
Team 2 to Sector 1 w/ the Supreme Commander's Oversight token
Team 3 to Sector 3 w/ the Vital Mission Assignment token

JWolf assigned teams as follows:
Team 4 to Sector 1 w/ the Supreme Commander's Oversight *AND* Vital Mission Assignment tokens
Team 5 to Sector 2
Team 6 to Sector 3

Photos/Results ...
Sector 1
Team 2 splits with Team 4 barely, 1:1 ... Team 2 got pounded at range all game with little ability to retort, and realized it early enough to focus fire on the Objective capturing troops of Team 4, while using suicides and move shens to keep an objective or two of its own in backfield, winning the objective component of the Sector despite losing most of its VP

Sector 2
Team 1 gets tabled by Team 5, not having appropriate solutions for 7 flying monstrous creatures and tons of close combat Khorne gribblies; 2:0 in favor of Team 5

Sector 3
Team 3 nearly tables Team 6, scoring both objectives and winning it 2:0

Round 1 Results - 3 Missions : 3 Missions, tie game

Next round, based upon the results, Matthias assignments are ...
Team 1 to Sector 4
Team 2 to Sector 6, Supreme Commander's Oversight
Team 3 to Sector 5, Vital Mission Assignment

JWolf assignments are ...
Team 4 to Sector 4, Both Tokens again (which proved very powerful, and will probably be changed to not allow doubling up)
Team 5 to Sector 5
Team 6 to Sector 6

Sector 4
Team 4 Brutalizes Team 1 when the Dark Angels player fails a critical multicharge through difficult terrain with 1 terminator squad while the other mishaps off a 12" scatter and is destroyed. The Tau proceeds to annihilate the DA's last combat threat at point blank range in the City before turning massed railguns and missile pods to the open field in order to tag-team the Imperial Guard player of Team 1. Basically a tabling. 2:0 for WarGamesCon

Sector 5
Close fought game where Team 3 secures a guaranteed win on the flag planting mission early by planting flags en masse with Lone Wolves in terminator armor with stormshields, and the Daemons player gets the wrong wave in, half of which scatters into the teeth of Team 3's guns. Team 5 fights furiously for the tie by holding mass troops at the center and flinging monsters at Team 3's tank wall, but by the end of the game Team 3 is barely able to contest the center and pull it out 2:0 ... Sector 6 started AFTER these two games finished, with the overall day tied 5:5

Sector 6
The "late" game, out on the deck with everyone hanging out smokin ceegars, drinkin' whiskey and beer, and bullshitting the night away. This game came down largely to clever management of the Missions, but each team managed one "correctly." Team 2 chose to outflank their Elite Spies, and this turned out to be their downfall, as Team 6 pounced on and ganked them when they arrived, avoiding letting any unit be close enough. Meanwhile, Team 5 flung its Orks as the side that could not be scored for VP at the SoB line, hoping to score plenty of VP kills off the Sisters player that could be scored (the one with the repentia/etc.). Unfortunately, Team 5 also left too much of its CSM army visible, and lost several high value units ... including its land raider to an Exorcist that substituted a "6" from Supreme Commander's Oversight to glance it, and another 6 from Supreme Commander's Oversight (the player had rolled 2 6's) to kill it due to AP1.

Highlight of Game 6 was when the Ork player and the Khorne CSM player drove numerous units right up the gut through the "courtyard" in the center of the capital, up to behind the wall on the SoB side (see pictures), and the Sisters players rolled a couple Immos up to the wall, and the Penitent Engines leaped up on the wall. After some well placed Exorcist shots blew up two trukks and a CSM rhino, they proceeded to bathe the open area in heavy flamerage, nuking a bunch of orks and berzerkers. The battle actually ended up going pretty pear shaped for the Sisters players, but they were able to "block" a lot of their score-able VP away from Team 6, while killing enough of Team 6's score-able VP to secure that mission. Team 6 did manage to get its spies into the ranks of the enemy, ensuring a split.

So, while this probably won't be possible over a sample size of up to 50 teams that we plan for NOVAcalypse, for this test drive Adepticon tied WarGamesCon 6 missions to 6

Final score, 6:6

Learned a lot; the missions were almost all well received and worked well; some tweaks to be made to the way objectives are placed and scored, and to the wording of some of the missions, etc; we need to figure out about 3 more overall tokens (like the supreme commander's oversight and the vital mission assignment), but it was agreed that they shouldn't be doubled up, and that their potency would be diluted somewhat when only 5 are available per commander across ~25+ tables. Lots of work to do refining this idea, but a good fun start.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Note on NOVA Missions, and Mission Building for a Tournament


There are a couple of things to keep in mind when building a tournament mission format. I think a lot of people get this wrong.

I'm going to hold the NOVA missions up as an example of what I'll call "Balance Through Drawability."

In the NOVA, the hardest mission to draw was Victory Points, but it could still be tied - in fact, to help prevent the biggest struggle for VP we made sure the round where it was primary was Dawn of War, so that alpha strike was largely inhibited. Once Alpha Strike is inhibited, well-designed lists faced off have the capacity to make the strategic choices regarding how well they stay covered and how much they overextend themselves to keep the VP total close, and within tie range. That said, this was the hardest to tie, and as a result - the weakest mission for a good balanced format.

You'll see why in a second ...

Let's take a look at Quarters next. A lot of players initially glanced at quarters and thought that it favored armies with lots of mobile fast units, so that they could shuffle numerous things into any given quarter at any given time. This is false, in playtest and design both. Quarters most favors someone using LARGE units that are more elite and can take a beating. Basically, the kind of units you'd see in a Kill Points Optimized or low Kill Point army. Why do I say this?

Well, for Quarters, the best place to live for the majority of the game is the center of the board, so that later on you can shuffle high value units to overwhelm quarters on the VP front even if said units get knocked below half. A Nob Biker unit, for example, may retain a greater than 400 point value even if under half strength in some situations, and so be able to prevent an opponent from effectively "spreading" his volume of mobility and safeguarding multiple quarters from late grab. This forces opponents to keep LARGER portions of their MSU armies in quarters, rather than spreading out, or forces them to risk danger by closing toward the middle of the board. In short, if you have units that retain extremely high value while guarding center and dishing out a beating you have an advantage in a Quarters mission.

For Objectives, MSU is rewarded - the more scoring troops units you have, and the more units to contest you have, the better off you are. Opposite of Quarters, though they "appear" similar ... in Objectives you want to be able to spread useful and durable "enough" units to the far corners, able to snag objectives in each quarter late, or contest late, while forcing your opponent's target priority all over the place ... they gain advantages against armies with too few units in this mission.

Both Quarters and Objectives can READILY be forced into a tie by a canny opponent, even if his army is not ideal for "guaranteeing" a win for the specific mission.

So what's the point of our approach then? By tiering your missions together every round, but rotating which is the INITIAL win condition, and doing your best to establish missions that advantage some armies but can be TIED by any (if well played), you get into a situation where you are more rewarding skill, tactics, and forethought ... and less rewarding "bad luck" for a match-up.

I'm not sure we've gotten this "right," yet, but we're close - we'll get closer. Ya'll should do the same. Consider as you're building your missions how they work; this is some of the thought behind why our missions are the way they are.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NOVACALYPSE Test Drive - Missions for the Masses to Use and Feedback On

Ok, so the NOVACALYPSE Test Drive is Saturday, with JWolf and Matthias (WarGames Con and Adepticon) respectively piloting each "Faction" Remotely. Keep in mind this is a draft situation, we're doing this on a fun casual day with our friends and buddies, hence the lack of polish to this stuff - but I want to keep everyone informed on all the myriad things we're doing getting ready for the full on NOVA Open Convention next year.

Here's the briefer on what the team missions will be for Saturday's draft/test drive. Remember from reading earlier that this is basically a series of Team Games 1500 points each 2v2 with some extraneous events thrown in, unusual terrain concentrations, and unique / fun missions.

The missions are in most cases divided between the two team members, so the tactics and strategy involved revolves around team mates helping their buddies accomplish goals they can't directly participate in.

Feedback on these is welcome - not all will be successful or pursued for the final event, that's why we test drive. Do keep in mind that they aren't supposed to have *quite* the competitive bent that a standard 1v1 tourney would have.

To start things off, Matthias and JWolf will assign each of their teams to Sectors I, II and III of the Strategic Map above privately. They'll also assign their 2 NOVAcalyptic Tokens to two of the three sectors. The NOVAcalyptic Tokens do the following:

Supreme Commander's Oversight - The Commander's Team in the Sector assigned this token may roll 6 dice at the beginning of the first player turn, three per team member; whatever the results of these rolls, save them and put them to the side. At any point in the game, a team member may replace one of his OWN rolls with one of the three rolls he made to start the game. So, for example, if a player were to roll two 5's and a 6 with his three pre-game rolls granted by this token, he could substitute them for rolls to hit, saving throws, vehicle damage rolls, run rolls, leadership rolls, whatever. Once used, these rolls are gone for good.

Vital Mission Assignment - The Commander's Team in the Sector assigned this token may re-roll ANY failed morale or pinning test taken for the duration of the game.

Once the teams and tokens have been assigned to either Sectors I, II or III for Round 1, here's how each Sector will work mission wise; for the actual event, we'll have it polished down to the best handful of missions, which will obviously be repeated across many of the boards ... we have nigh on 12 different missions in playtest for Saturday, as a good first dusting of a few ideas ...

Sector I - Africa Analog; "Stronghold on the Savannah" ... Establish a forward operating base / prevent establishment of a forward operating base
Terrain expected; Fairly large amount of open ground, minimal LOS blockage; sparse foliage, sparse rocky area terrain, sparse small structures/shacks
Secure the LZ - Nominate one of your team's two 1500 point forces as capable of controlling objectives; 5 objectives total, captured and contested as normal
Establish a Perimeter - Nominate the other of your team's two 1500 point forces as capable of controlling quarters (with victory points, per NOVA Open mission)

Sector II - Australia Analog; "Denizens of the Warp" ... Eliminate key enemy units, seal / open portals to the warp
Terrain Expected: Eldar styled desert terrain ... desert rocky pieces, crystals, webway structures, generic eldar structures
Portals to the Abyss - Nominate 1 of your team's two 1500 point forces as capable of controlling Webway Portal terrain pieces (VP for touching or in the pieces)
Tactical Destruction - Nominate 5 units from the opposing 1500 point force NOT nominated to control Webway Portals; these count as Kill Points

Sector III - South America Analog; "Planetary Water Supply" ... Poison or Protect key aquatic resources; control a major bridge
Terrain expected: Heavy foliage, heavy swamp and aquatic terrain, a major river with a bridge, a pumping station
A Precious Resource - Nominate one of your team's two 1500 point forces as capable of controlling Water Supply Points (objectives situated in water terrain that each score 1 point if held at the end of turns 2, 4 and 6)
Bridgehead - Nominate the other of your team's two 1500 point forces as capable of capturing a critical Bridge (there will be one bunker at either end of the bridge, and an objective in the center ... whichever side controls 2 of 3 points on the Bridge controls it at the end of the game)

After these are complete, we'll break for barbecue, cigars, more whiskey, etc. :)
I'll be in touch e-mail wise with Matthias and JWolf and they'll send in their next team assignments and assign their next tokens. We may fiddle with some narrative stuff and map advancement; we're keeping it simple for the moment - no major impacts who won or lost the first round, but winning or losing it will be based on net missions accomplished by the entire Faction

On to Sectors IV, V and VI, which become much more complicated

Sector IV - Asia Analog; "Urban Outskirts" ... Battling to set up an operating base in the outskirts of a major city, and battling to prevent enemy units from encircling the city
Terrain expected: Half the board very open, half the board dense urban
Forging a Path - Nominate one of your team's 1500 point forces as being restricted to the City Section of the board for all deployment and movement purposes; this force is capable of capturing quarters of the city section (typical quarters mission); there are no restrictions on shooting, but this portion of the force may in no way exit this section of the board
Cutting off Access - Nominate the other of your team's 1500 point forces as being restricted to the Open Section of the board for all deployment and movement purposes; this force may be scored for Victory Points by the opposing Team; as with the other mission, the force may in no way enter the City Section, but is not restricted in terms of its shooting targets

Sector V - Europe/Alpine Analog; "Kings of the Hills" ... Capturing the Eagle's Nest and the Alpine Mountain Range
Terrain Expected: A LOT of hills, a ring of bunkers at the center
Claimed In the Honor Of
- Any non-vehicle unit reaching within 4" of a centerpoint of a hill (each hill will have a centerpoint marked) MAY "plant the flag" at the end of its movement phase ... only 2 flags per 1500 point force may be placed at any given time; no flags may be placed until TURN 2
- At the end of any flag-planted unit's PLAYER TURN, check to see if it is still completely (not majority) on the hill it planted the flag on; if it is, award its controlling Team with 1 point
- If at any point in time a unit with a flag planted is DESTROYED, the opposing Team is awarded a number of points equal to the TOTAL the flag planting unit had earned MINUS 1, to a minimum of 1 (in example, if a unit plants the flag it immediately will score 1 point at the bottom of that player turn; if it is subsequently destroyed in the following enemy player turn the opposing team will earn 1 point back ... 1 minus 1 to a minimum of 1, effectively nullifying the score; if, on the other hand, the unit planting the flag survives and remains on the hill for 2+ turns, it's a net positive gain for the flag planters even if the unit is eventually destroyed; in short, planting the flag with a unit in peril of being subsequently destroyed is wasteful, planting the flag and surviving more than a turn on the hill gains you something)
The Eagle's Nest
- The ring of bunkers at the center of the board surrounds an objective; ALL team forces may capture it with Troop units like any other standard 40k objective; contested the same as well

Sector VI - America Analog; "Capital Showdown" ... Use the maelstrom of battle to insert spies into the enemy's ranks; grind down the core of their army
Terrain Expected: An extremely high concentration of buildings and ruins
Active Infiltration -
- Nominate 3 TROOP models from one of your team's 1500 point forces; these models are separated from their units permanently and gain the following characteristics, equipment and special rules:
Elite Spy
WS5 BS5 S4 T4 W2 I5 A2 Ld8 Sv3+/4++
Power Weapon, Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades, Power Armor, Iron Halo (or refractor field, demonic aura, whatever for all equipment - substitute appropriate fluff)
Stealth, Infiltrate, Move Through Cover, Fleet, Preferred Enemy: Own Team, Independent Character

- These models deploy separately from the rest of their unit, and MUST Infiltrate via Outflanking or standard Infiltrate deployment
- Their mission is to either join any enemy unit by ending their move within 2" of an enemy model, or by assaulting the unit and surviving a round of combat
- If successful, their team earns 3 points if accomplished by the end of Turn 2, or 2 points if accomplished by the end of Turn 4, or 1 point if accomplished by the end of Turn 6
- As soon as they join the unit, they immediately come under the control of the ENEMY player whose unit they joined; at this point, if the model is KILLED, the points are refunded at the same rate and turn total (i.e. 3 by Turn 2, 2 by Turn 4, 1 by Turn 6) (the goal here is a tough call on both teams' parts regarding committing their own units to death in order to earn points back, joining enemy units with dangerous characters too soon and having them harm their own team in return, etc.)

Meatgrinder - The other 1500 point force is scoreable for purposes of VICTORY POINTS; any Troop units killed will immediately return to the board from their controlling player's long table edge at the beginning of their next player turn, but will not return with any dedicated transports or upgrade characters, etc.; if they are killed again, they are worth double victory points; if they are killed a third time, quadruple victory points, and so on and so forth (doubling every time)

Have at it, and keep posted for photos/updates/feedback/improvements/etc. going forward.

Our plan is for some VERY special guests (think possibly published sci-fi authors of relevance ...) that we've been in talks with to write the lead-up to the actual NOVAcalypse and to be the Overall Commanders, with as many as 50 teams of 2 participating, and a lot of development going on. We'll also probably have a "club" competition going on throughout the weekend, to determine which clubs can perform the best over the weekend, and the NOVAcalypse event will certainly be an integral piece of that scoring, with entire clubs having teams battling over various sectors of the overall field.

Yatta yatta blah blah, further feedback welcome; also, feel free to try these missions out for fun and let me know how they go with your buddies.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Battle for Salvation, NOVA Invitational

The Battle for Salvation is coming up on October 9. It's run by a group of really great guys from NY who came down for the NOVA Open. They are largely emulating the NOVA's format in terms of the style of the event and the details. I'll be doing my best to attend, still working out the details. Any VA people want to carpool and split hotel a little? :)

Having met most or all of these guys when they came down, I have nothing but positive things to say. Though not a Vegas qualifier this year, I'm sure it will be in the future, and should be considered a sister event to the Open.

More importantly, I'll probably give them a weekend badge to next year's Open as a prize to hand out, *AND* will be qualifying 2 finishers of their choice for next year's NOVA Invitational, which is a cash prize tournament happening during the NOVA Open Convention weekend. More information on that to follow, but the prize support for it should be 4 figures with competition from the top finishers at a couple of west coast events, the 5 Tournament Aces and Ren Man from the NOVA Open 2010, 4 top finishers from Adepticon and Wargamescon respectively (selected by their organizers), and a couple of other events eventually. Probably 32 players total (up to 64 is possible, we'll see how many events would like to qualify attendees).

More info on NOVA Invitational to come; Battle for Salvation, however, is in about one month. Sign up :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Circle of Happy + NOVACALYPSE Test Drive, Brought to You By - ADEPTICON AND WARGAMESCON! Wait, what?

So, it should be no surprise to anyone who reads enough that the respective top dog types from Adepticon (Matthias) and Wargamescon (formerly BOLSCon ... Jwolf), are people I often speak with about various things.

We don't agree on all components of the hobby, we don't all agree on what a tournament should be, but we've been working together to improve all things convention/tournament-related.

To that effect and in support of that, when a bunch of us decided to "test drive" the NOVACALYPSE team campaign notion on Saturday, 9/11 at the usual site of Whiskey40k nights, I went to JWolf and Matthias asking if they'd be willing to donate about a net 20-30 minutes of their Saturday to remotely play the roles of Overall Commanders for the events.

I'll have more of a briefer on what the test drive will look like soon.

IN other news ...

Negativity is rife in the blogosphere. Stelek can't praise Adepticon or BOLSCon or whatever without a little bit of a back-handed tripe at what they "used" to be like ... Mkerr can't play nice with Stelek, and targets the Open with BS. So does Tasty. Stelek's supporters snipe at them, they snipe at Stelek's supporters.


Every event should be run how their event organizer wants.

You have no goddamned say in what was done "wrong" or "right" at an event if you weren't there - seriously, you don't.

Contribute CONSTRUCTIVELY and POSITIVELY to the future of that event by offering helpful advice while realizing that if you don't structure your words carefully, all you will do is offend the people who put in the time to run it, and they'll shut you out. Seriously, choose your words carefully or you're just another fucking retard who doesn't know how to be heard by playing nice on the internet.

You notice how the guys who run NOVA, Adepticon and Wargamescon are not just getting along and coordinating, but are even PLAYING TOGETHER despite the geographic distances? Yeah, do you think any of us are fully behind ya'll's bullshit?

Knock it off. Until you play nicer, you're going to keep getting left more and more out where you've placed yourselves - on the goddamned poles. Hope you dressed warmly.

This right here, this is the line and the olive branch - post and promise to consider structuring your words and actions more carefully, and with more deference to the fact that other people see things differently, and different opinions MUST be respected for YOUR opinions to even be heard.

No international house of paincakes, no BOLS vs. YTTH, no bullshit like that. Our hobby is tiny. You bitches are trying to start a civil war in South Dakota. The population can't tolerate it, and largely doesn't even know you're doing it. You don't matter. Try harder, nicer, and you will matter.

Oh, and stop using my event as a tool in your little wars, either to support your cause or to target someone else's, with how good or bad you think it was. That ain't cool. You don't own it, you didn't put the time in to run it.