Monday, February 28, 2011

Throne of Skulls - Attend or Don't Attend?

So, each of the Indie Circuit TO's received a special invite to participate in the Throne of Skulls tournament in Vegas in June.

What this means is that if I want, I can head to Vegas for a long weekend in the summertime, play some 40k with folks, yatta yatta.  So what should I do?  What would you do?

We can all agree the format for Throne of Skulls is not for hardcore competition, and is not well designed for a competitively evaluative tournament between many of the country's stronger players ... but is there anything beyond that worth considering?  It surely will involve a lot of fun people, and a lot of competition regardless by virtue of the skill of those attending.

What to do ...
 - Mike

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NOVA Open 40k 2011 - Primer Missions!

Feedback away; please playtest where possible, as opposed to just the kneejerk (i.e. those who never really playtested the Quarters mission, and so kneejerked thinking it was better for MSU than Deathstar, which it isn't).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Malifaux at the NOVA Open??? Damn Right!

What is the Malifaux I speak of? I have to take a moment and wonder if you have spent time in a very dark cave lately. Regardless, lets jump into the explanation and we can all get caught up.

First let me start with the introductions. This is Bill, host of the Gamers Lounge Podcast, Author of the Dead Tau Project Blog, Staff at the NOVA Open 2010 & 2011, Wyrd Miniatures Henchman, and most importantly your host and TO for the NOVA Open Malifaux tournament this year!

So what is this Malifaux I speak of? Who is Wyrd Miniatures? These are simple questions to answer initially, which becomes deliciously complex as you dig deeper. Simply put, Malifaux one of the hottest new Skirmish Scale games to hit the market recently, and it is produced by Wyrd Miniatures. Malifaux as a game had its initial market release at Gencon 2009, and has been growing like crazy since then. This year at Gencon they had a "Privateer Press" like line waiting at their booth on opening day for all the new goodies.

Quoted from Wyrd Miniatures directly:

Based in an alternate Earth, Malifaux uses Gothic, Steampunk, Victorian horror with a dose of the wild west to inject fun and depth into the magical lawlessness of a world rife with monsters, necropunks, manmachine hybrids, gunslingers, and power-hungry politicos. Actively using character-driven stories to define the world of Malifaux, seek your fortune in this fast paced and brutal 32mm tabletop miniature skirmish game. Assemble your crew and stake your claim!
So, simple entry point with a normal "Tournament level" crew sitting between 5 and 8 models. Each model has a set of special rules that they work with, and each crew is led by a master. The largest departure from "typical" mini-wargames is the use of cards opposed to dice! 

So, now you know a little bit about Malifaux, and you should be aware that one of the Premier US Malifaux tournaments will be held on Friday at the NOVA Open 2011! So what can I tell you? First off, at this point (Mid February) we are still nailing down all the particulars on the event, but I will share what I can.

We will have 16 3x3 Malifaux tables with full terrain, which will look absolutely fantastic. (as a note, Malifaux tables use ~60%+ terrain coverage) This will allow 32 players to compete for the top spots of best Overall Malifaux player and Best in Faction at the event. I can also confirm we will be running a 30 soulstone Scrap. This means that you pick your faction, which stays the same throughout the tournament, and then get to “buy” your 30ss crew each round. I am aiming for 90 minutes per round, so plenty of time to really rock your opponent and achieve your strategies and schemes.

That’s something else that’s important to point out. For those who are not as familiar, Malifaux is not just a game of killing your opponent! In fact, in some cases it is possible to table your opponent and STILL LOSE THE GAME! This is a game of objectives, which are split into known Strategies (the primary objective) and hidden Schemes (secondary objectives). Accomplishing your Strategies and Scheme’s is more important that just punching your opponents crew in the face! It certainly makes for an exciting game.

So with that introduction, I look forward to seeing a packed house at the NOVA! Registration is currently open and I expect tickets to start moving quickly. I will continue to provide updates here on a fairly regular basis as the details clarify and the date creeps closer.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hotel Raffle Incoming - NOVA Open Lodging

Quick little PSA -

We're still working out the details of how we'll run it, but expect that there will be a raffle for those who reserve and actually stay in a room at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.  The # of tickets you get for the raffle will be directly relevant to how early you reserve your hotel room (which is a free reservation), plus you'll have to actually stay in it when go-time arrives :) (we'll do the drawing on Sunday of the Convention).

Prizes may range as high as 1 x $1,000 cash prize, and 4 x $250 cash prizes, for those who win the raffle drawing.  So, if you're coming to the NOVA in 2011, grab a hotel room now using the room block link on the website, which I'll duplicate here:


Staying at the Hyatt Regency during the convention is HIGHLY advised regardless of where you're attending from (even locally).  In addition to the actual tournaments occurring there, there will be bar socials, evening events, 24 hour open gaming, various competitions and side events, vendors, and the like all happening around the clock.  Beyond that, the hotel has free shuttle provision to the Metro, and to Reagan National Airport, so you can avoid any parking fees or difficulties if you're a local OR a traveler by flying into Reagan or metro'ing from the DC/MD/VA region directly to the hotel.

We'll have full details on this one, and a lot more, very soon, but the long story short for now is RESERVE YOUR HOTEL ROOMS EARLY.  Not only does it guarantee you a room, but it advances your chances at winning significant cash prizes simply by staying at the Hyatt during the Convention.  This will be limited to those whose name is on the reservations (so, if you're splitting rooms, you can figure out how to split potential winnings, or get your own room!).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Army "Cores" - Variety Via Inflexibility

So, not that I do tactics/list-building articles with any gusto or regularity, but I thought I would share what I do as sort of my "baseline" when building lists.

First thing I do is determine which components of my list are likely to always stay the same, and turn them into a "tax" of sorts on a list build ... in the case of my Imperial Guard, there are a couple of things that factor into this:

1) Models I like that look the best
2) Units that reliably function for me in a variety of roles

For my Imperial Guard, this boils down to the following building blocks that I really don't like to part with:

1) Straken + 2 Meltaguns + 2 Bodyguards + Carapace + Medic + Banner + Chimera - 315 points
 - The reason for taking this is multi-fold; one, it gives me a serviceable combat unit for counter-punching, holding things up in a key moment, and "breaking" the backs late-game of shootier armies that foolishly eschew combat of their own
 - Two, it gives me the auras I need to stretch my resources and get more out of the rest of my "core" and my army as a whole - 12" from the edge of his Chimera I get re-rolls of failed morale and pin tests (HUGE for guard), furious charge (my guardsmen charge like space marines), and counter-attack (which often doesn't come in handy against MEQ all that often due to initiative, but is huge against other guard units and the like)
- I'll OFTEN take an Astropath with this unit, maybe 75%+ of the time, as it helps with outflankers and keeping Vendettas alive ... but it's not MANDATORY for me in my core, so I don't always take one

2) 4 x Vet Squads w/ 3 Meltaguns, Shotguns, Chimera - 620 points
 - This is Straken's "honor guard" of sorts ... it gives me fully assault weapon equipped (remember furious charge) scoring troop units with a total of 40 models in serviceable tank transports, and it gives me a dozen more meltaguns, for a 14 melta core ... this lets me shoot anything I really need to shoot
 - I have the points costs memorized for 5 and 6 meltavet squads ... 775 and 930 ... but they aren't "mandatory" ... love 'em or hate 'em, 4 meltavet squads with aura support are a critical component of any mechanized, mobile, closer ranged guard list ... and that's what I most prefer to run

3) 2 x Vendettas - 260 points
 - Try as I might, I often find Vendettas to be the best choice to support my army builds ... I may wind up with Ogryns, or Demolishers, or more Meltavets, or Al'Rahem ... but whatever happens, a couple of Vendettas to reserve or start on and bang up enemy mobility or silence/kill opposing long range shooters like Autolas BA preds or even opposing Vendettas just is too much of a big deal, and Vens are SUPER reliable at this ... against AV13 (preds) a Vendetta's damage odds are 3 x 3/4 (to hit) x 1/2 (to cause a damage result) ... it's just ... reliable.  You don't have as strong a set of odds to your points level as you do with something like a Hydra perhaps, but the flexibility of the platform is just too good to pass up.  I never expect them to live, either, but - and especially when I take 3 - I'll usually add an Astropath to the cost so that in games against shootier opponents, quarters deployment games, etc., I can reserve them and bring most on Turn 2 in better / safer positions, or lanes where their targeted tanks don't have cover

So, when you look at this, my personally assessed "tax" for building an IG list is a hefty 1,195 points ... I think a lot of us do this subconsciously, and it takes "effort" to get outside your personal core ... and it's related to more than just what's "best" ... lots of people like to listhammer on the net, with things they'll never personally buy or even own.  4 of my vet squads are really well painted for me, 3 of my Vendettas are really well detailed up for me, and my Straken squad looks good and is characterful.  I want to use these models either way, and when I vary the list up (like I did adding Al'Rahem and the Brother Captain for BFS) it makes painting a lot easier when you've got a solid core.

It's also frankly easier when going 1850, for instance, to know that what I'm REALLY working with is 655 points ... and no real FOC restrictions.

What is YOUR "core?"  And don't fret - NOBODY sticks to it all the time no matter what, but realistically we all have those building blocks we just can't stomach living without ... what are yours?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Boozy Cliffnotes of 2011, Super Bowl Time

OK, first thing's first ... annual Super Bowl party at the family house is upcoming ... this is always a banging time, and we have food and booze and quizzes and pools and good times and good people and giant 6X" tv's and the like ....

We're still trying to figure out what "team theme" cocktails we'll have for the Packers and the Steelers ... but in the process of looking, I've come across something very commercial and sell-outish but very useful for your home bar and bartending aspirations ....

Ty Ku
This stuff is pure marketing, but it's actually pretty awesome ... it's a simple 20% mixing-oriented liquer (though you can drink it chilled and straight) that combines Soju and Sake with about 20 different fruits and such ... it's absent some of the sulfite/etc. boozy accompaniments that exacerbate hangovers, and is anti-oxidant/etc. rich ... a "healthy" liquer ... but the point here isn't that it tries to be healthy.  Instead, it has solid, reliable flavor that's not too over the top or sweet (at all ... it's totally opposite of the crap that is Hypnotiq) ... and the bottle itself is a major selling point, with a pressure button on the bottom that, when the bottle is lifted, releases and causes a green LED to light up the contents.  Kinda cool.

Regardless, it's a colorful and useful liquer for mixing ... i.e. an Irish Happy Ending, which is 50/50 Ty Ku and Scotch.

Moving onto the good stuff, beer ... there's a few I'll pick up from Norm's to ensure the quality of options at the Super Bowl party extend beyond Miller and Coors Lite.

Smuttynose Finestkind:

This stuff is pretty hoppy, but it's a truly world-class IPA, and my IPA of choice if I want a crisp, refreshing, solid booze to quaff while watching a game.

For those who aren't as big on the hoppiness, try:
This stuff is like Boddington's, but a lot better ... and eminently quaffable.

If you just want a simple beer, as usual, I strongly recommend going with Session ... it clocks in relatively low on calories, but it's going to have more fun and a better taste.

You know ... nothing more to say about this beer; I've talked about it before, but it's "the shit" to drink, and it usually clocks in at only around a buck a bottle ... and from a very high quality brewery like Full Sail.

There are tons to go with ... but I'll leave it there.  Gotta figure out which cocktails to do for the Super Bowl ... may simply go with Margaritas for the Packers .... but still need something for the Steelers.

To give you guys context, last year for our Super Bowl party we did Blue Raspberry martinis with rock candy swizzle stick and raspberry garnishes for the Colts, and Espresso Martinis for the Saints ... obviously some of us drink beer as a priority, but there are a lot of gals and such that attend this event also ... so it's one more little thing to help enhance the fun.  Any suggestion on Steelers drinks?  Would like to avoid doing Espresso Martinis a second year in a row ...