Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rankings HQ Update for NOVA 2011

Just wanted to let inquiring minds know I submitted the results for NOVA 2011 some time ago. I cannot get the RHQ folks to reply to any e-mails or private messages, and do not know if it was inaccurately updated or what.

Just in case you all thought I simply hadn't submitted them, untrue - I did, they just haven't been entered. For those that care, this is significantly impacting numerous players on the rankings due to the large # of players who participated in the NOVA's 40k GT.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Goals - Terrain Crafting for 2012; new Terrain Layouts for 2012 GT / INPUT REQUESTED

The NOVA crew is busy hot wire foam cutting (with the baddest ass precision straight-edge and round-edge no-wobble hot wire cutters around), casting (resin and merlin's magic), carving (foam core, mdf, the works), carpenting, LED-lighting, and painting and flocking our way through the home stretch of a three year project of epic proportions.

Consider this a PSA into the costs and challenges of running a large GT with the proper amount of quality terrain ...

The NOVA ensures 25% coverage (erring on the high side), with 3 of our 7 pieces of terrain per board providing proper LOS blockage. For 2012 forward, any central LOS blockage won't be quite as large as it was in 2011, though it will still be meaningful for the game (too narrow a blocking front creates fire lanes for the entire board just about to some part of models trying to hid behind, making it not los blocking at all).

In total, we place equal or equivalent to 2 pieces of large marginal LOS blockage scatter terrain, 2 LOS blocking hills, 2 partially LOS blocking ruins, and a single LOS blocking ruin/building on each table.

There's a lot of variation in theme from piece to piece, and we'll be introducing other terrain layouts for 2012 besides the one everyone familiarized with in 2011 (changing layouts on all tables by the day from Friday --> Sat, and Sat --> Sun).  The important thing here is the total terrain requirement of nearly square foot sized pieces of terrain for the NOVA Open's 40k GT (alone) is:

256 "scatter" terrain pieces
256 partially LOS blocking ruins or equivalent
256 mostly LOS blocking hills
128 LOS blocking buildings or equivalent

For a minimum of 896 quality, sizeable pieces of terrain.

In addition to this, we also have over 40 4x4 Infinity/Warmachine boards, and nearly 200 6x4 40k/Fantasy/Flames of War boards, AND

Introduced in 2012, we'll have roughly 200 1x4 Side Boards for players to put their armies / spare models / dice / beverages / etc. on while they are playing. These suckers will be previewed very soon, and they're gorgeous, with every sideboard screenprinted and in gorgeous design. In addition to the above average room we had last year, we'll have even more with another foot between every table this year (for sideboards).

Using the 7 pieces above, and some of the photos below of the types and sizes we have to work with, can you suggest some terrain layouts that are fair for all army styles and deployments? Use zee comments. If we go with one you uniquely suggest, I'll comp your badge.

When we first hosted a tournament - the 32 player SGI Outdoor Charity Event we held in August 2009 (Link 1 and Link 2 from Tim Williamson's Tau of War blog) - we (meaning, at the time, "me and my buddy Rhett") owned exactly 0 pieces of terrain of any merit for a tournament setting, but we built up16 felted tables.

When we hosted the first NOVA Open a year later in August 2010, we again borrowed nearly all of our terrain and tables (thanks aplenty to the Inner Circle and the IFL, plus our chief appearance judge Geoff Redding, whose terrain is just plain gorgeous).

In 2011, we had our first major terrain build process ... and boy was it major. We built ourselves up to about 70% self-sufficiency in terms of both tables and terrain, and filled in the gaps once again with major assistance from the Battle for Salvation (who drove 20 tables and tables worth of terrain down with them!) and the IFL.

Finally, in 2012, we'll be TOTALLY self-sufficient. This is a huge milestone, and our terrain crew and terrain chief (Bob Likins) need to be heavily congratulated. That said, the remaining pieces to build this year as of now are:

44 pieces of "scatter" terrain
30 hills
85 los blocking ruins/equivalent
118 partially-los blocking ruins/equivalent

Or, 243 pieces of terrain

The kick is on, and here's a few glimpses of the types we've built for the NOVA to date, are building at present, and will build into the future.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Narrative Event at the NOVA Open 2012 - Why It's Fun for YOU Specifically

As we've begun to mention, 2012 sees the introduction of a new evening / casual event to the NOVA Open's bracket of offerings in the form of the Narrative.

Instead of being set on yet another Imperial World where magically every single race and codex option is all there at the same time (and there's probably a Chaos artifact involved, right?), the Narrative is a NEW setting created in a near-future Washington, DC, as it is about to suffer invasion from unknown sources.

Players in ANY system incorporated (don't worry, you'll still only play WITHIN system) will be paired against their peers across 3 evenings and 1 afternoon of casual-pace but fully competitive gaming, with the results of every game helping shape and determine the progression of the story from day to day, and year to year.

That last part is also important - in addition to scoring points for your FACTION and as an INDIVIDUAL, you'll be able to score unique points called Fame and Infamy.  The most FAMOUS or INFAMOUS commanders at the end of the weekend will earn special recognition in the advancement of the story in future years, up to and including seeing monuments in their honor showing up in the future of Washington, DC (2013 and beyond).

The gist of this post, though, is WHY this will be fun for you regardless of your play style or type:

Competitive Gamers Looking for Competitive High Level Games

Pairings for the Narrative are in part based upon your army list, and your known performance capabilities from past NOVA Opens and other events. We're finalizing an objective evaluation by which to go here, but the long and short is this: If you want to bring a fluffy, laid back list and play against other laid back fluffy lists, you'll get that at the NOVA Narrative. BUT if you want to play against other competitive lists and players ... you'll get that also, all in the setting of 3 hour timeframes and a casual atmosphere to prevent it ramping your stress up quite as much as the top tables in a GT setting sometimes does for some folks.

Casual Gamers Looking for Laid Back, Non-GT Setting Games

Just as with Competitive Gamers, the more laid back your attitude and list tends to be, the more laid back your opponents will tend to be. Wherever possible, the Narrative is about well-matched games toward common goals among faction and teammates ... not about evaluating superlatives as with the GT or Invitational or Trios Team Tournament. You'll be playing your peers, playing with similar lists and mindsets.

Teams of Buddies and Singles

You can sign up as a Doubles Narrative Team, or as a Singles Narrative Player. Either way, your "team" (of one, or of two) will be fielding a 2,000 point Force Organization Chart ... so, those with a 2k point army for the GT who want to simply get in a few extra organized and meaningful games with interesting missions won't have to bring anything different from what they're already bringing for the GT. Those looking for a fresher or team-based experience can craft the perfect team Narrative army.

Trying to Convince Your Significant Other!

Want to attend, but your S.O. doesn't want to attend for the weekend because s/he doesn't know what to do while you're busy on the 4-game Saturday big GT day?  Well, look no further. The Narrative this year incorporates a riddle-based scavenger hunt that will take a person on an inherent guided tour of DC, where the more puzzles you solve and famous (or hidden local hot spot) locations you visit, the more points you earn for your partner's faction in the Narrative event. This happens on Saturday from 9-5, and creates an inherently awesome field trip of DC along the public metro route for anyone not actually playing in the GT or other big Saturday events.


Extra bonus points, including Fame and Infamy, are awarded for modeling your armies or heroes to the tune of the Narrative story. The NOVA is hard at work creating an atmosphere that supports this as well, up to and including army-enhancing items you can acquire (sneak peak click here), and even recreating LED-lit replicas of some of DC's most iconic monuments (see if you can discern some of the work in progress over at our terrain man Bob's Rogue General Hunter blog)

Additional useful information:


  • Thursday, Friday, Saturday Nights
7:30 – 8:30PM // Overall Commanders will update players on the development of the narrative, and
assign teams and players to their respective tables and opponents
8:30 – 11:30PM // Each night’s round is played; players have up to 3 hours to complete the round, and
submit their results

  • Sunday
8:00 – 11:00AM // Players not participating in other activities may take part in drop-in organized open
gaming to play out the skirmishes leading up to the climax of the narrative action
1:00 – 2:00PM // Players are given their final briefing on the climax of the narrative
2:00 – 5:00PM // Climactic final battle of the DC Narrative

1. Players may register to play as a Doubles Narrative Team, or a Singles Narrative Player
2. All players register for the event by purchasing a DC Narrative Ticket at http://www.novaopen.com/
3. Players wishing to play as a Doubles Narrative Team should e-mail novaopen@gmail.com with the
name of their team and both members once they’ve purchased their ticket

Points and Codex Restrictions

  • Singles Narrative Players:  2000 points, standard Force Organization Chart
  • Doubles Narrative Players:  2000 points, a maximum of 1000 points per player, up to two Codices, shared Force Organization Chart; no auras, transports, or other abilities stack/share between Codices; each player must bring 1 HQ and 1 Troop unitAll Codices released at least 30 days prior to the event are legal
  • Forgeworld/IA "Warhammer 40,000 Approved" units ARE legal (NO Super Heavies, Gargantuans, Fliers; more specific details to come)

List Submission, Taking a Round Off
  • Players MUST submit their Army Lists by July 31. Lists are fixed, and any changes desired after July 31 must be approved by e-mailing novaopen@gmail.com
  • Players MAY request a single Round “OFF” due to other events/activities, or simply wanting more time not actively gaming.  This must be requested along with your army list submission by July 31.  Any later requests must be approved by e-mailing novaopen@gmail.com
  • Players who request a round off will earn individual scores from their three rounds. Players who participate in all FOUR rounds will have their lowest score dropped for purposes of individual scoring
  • Players and Teams will be scored individually, and will score points for their faction.
  • Individual scores in categories of appearance, point accruals, and additional special performance categories will determine an array of individual and team awards
  • Points earned for players’ factions will determine the results and direction of the narrative each day, and will determine the final result of the weekend’s story
  • Please send questions to novaopen@gmail.com.  We are hard at work building and LED-Lighting replicas of DC monuments and landmarks to serve as centerpieces for the Narrative, an attack on Washington!  Visit our website and Whiskey&40K often for updates.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Finds of the Day - Post for Posting's Sake

Afternoon All,

Gettin' ready for a busy weekend of NOVA work, flag football, and other sorts of things ... and I don't know if I'll make it a regular but I figured I'd share my finds of the day/week.

First, band/song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4bBu9HD_Qo

Second, not only is the blog awesome, but ... holy cow! http://coolmaterial.com/home/100000-scovilles-naga-chilli-vodka/

Cool ... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0789324873/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=werdcom-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0789324873

Haven't gotten your Valentine's card yet? http://www.etsy.com/listing/72097091/valentines-day-greeting-card-back-alley

Finally, at the Super Bowl we made cocktails themed to each team, and brews vs. each other. Brooklyn Lager for the Giants vs. Boston Lager (Sam Adams) for the Patriots. Blue Raz Martinis for the Patriots vs. Big Apple Manhattans for the Giants.

The Big Apple Manhattan SOUNDED like an abomination, but when I started making them for folks I was mightily impressed, as was everyone else ... like the G-Men on screen, it beat the competition of the Blue Raz among manly man drinkers and girly gals alike.

To craft, take a shot and a half of top shelf Whisk[e]y; I recommend Catoctin Rye, and add a dash each of Amaretto and Apple Pucker. Load in an ounce of Cranberry juice and shake the shit out of it to generate a nice foamy top off the pour, and drop in a maraschino for garnish.  This is a shockingly good drink.

A post not about the NOVA or 40k at all? A post significantly about Whiskey even? Back to the name of the blog.

Wait, wait, wait -

40k GT tickets are starting to pick up steam on the sales front guys, and over 40% of ticket sales are to FIRST TIME ATTENDEES; pick up your ticket while you can.

We're also selling a fairly heavy number of Flames of War tickets, among the other events, so snag 'em while you can.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Changes to NOVA Scoring / Formatting for 2012 - 40k GT


Just a quick couple of changes for everyone to be aware/reminded of.

1) Many players were fatigued when they were knocked out of contention and still gaming their 7th and 8th rounds at the NOVA 2011.  That said, many people were still enjoying their games come Rounds 7 and 8, even if knocked out of contention.

So, the solution is as follows:

  • More time for each round, 2.5 hours instead of 2.25
  • Rounds 1+2 on Friday afternoon (when most players had registered anyway) and evening
  • Rounds 3+4 on Saturday AM
  • Records reset and rebrackets completed during Saturday Lunch
  • Rounds 5+6 on Saturday PM
  • Best Overall scoring completes after Round 6
  • Each Bracket of 16's Final Four play in Formal Rounds 7-8 on Sunday AM (so, 64 of 256 players)
  • All remaining players can participate in up to two rounds of organizer-assisted / pairings-based Open Gaming (so, effectively continuing to play against record/list-based peers in proper tournament missions), OR can sleep in
2) Margin of Victory had a fixed % impact on Best Overall.  We didn't like this, in the end; it's the BEST way to break a tie between Best Overall finishers who manage to tie their score, but we didn't want anything other than Win/Loss to be relevant to the 50% of Renaissance Man comprised of competitive score. So, the new Renaissance Man scoring will be as follows:
  • 50% of your score is Appearance, normalized to a 0-1 (so, Appearance Score / 160 = Appearance Rating for Ren Man)
  • 50% of your score is Win/Loss, inherently normalized to a 0-1 (so, Wins/Games Played = Competitive Rating for Ren Man)
  • In case of a tie in these categories, % of Goals Achieved ("Margin") will be used as it was for past years to break ties
3) In case of last minute drops or other instances causing less than 256 players to be present for the 40k GT, it will be possible for up to several players who go 3-1 to pass up into the otherwise 4-0 championship bracket, and compete for Tournament Champion / Best General. In 2011, only players who lost their Fourth Round game could advance in this fashion, meaning a player could not lose his first game, and battle back to earn his way into the Sweet 16.  This will change in 2012; if we have last minute drops or another Hurriquake, any 3-1 finisher could potentially make it into the championship bracket.

Margin of Victory in a Tournament Setting - Why Not

The NOVA's 40k formatting as a general rule ignores the impacts of Margin of Victory, and therefore the impact of Battle Points.

For us, it is marginally relevant to Best Overall (i.e. less than 5% of your score), but even that will likely change and diminish going forward.  It also impacts seeding within same win-loss record for the Rounds 5-8 rebracket, but does not otherwise impact your score.

Why doesn't the NOVA use Margin of Victory as a meaningful mechanic, though?  This discussion came up in comments on YTTH, when someone wrote the following ...

Hey MVB and Neil,Over here in this part of the country, we use the margin of victory to determine who won the best. That way it is just like in the Ardboyz. So a person can get from a total loss (massacred) to a total victory (massacre).Why do you think the margin of victory is so bad? I find it really great for a small store that has small tournaments. Do you think it bad for tournaments with less then 20 people? Or do you just think it is bad, period, for everyone everywhere?I would love to hear more of your input about this. The margin of victory has worked pretty well so far, but if there is a better way of running a tournament then doing that, then it could very well be worth considering for the group I play with.Thanks dudes!

I gave a brief reply there, but decided to go into greater rambly depth here.
First, let's acknowledge what the 40k tournament scene is and is not.
  • There is no barrier to tournament entry
  • There's no meaningful national ranking system (Rankings HQ is meritless, b/c it does not rank people along standard tournament formats or sizes, and weights # of events participated in over % of possible score regardless of # of events, and a million other issues that could be a separate blog post)
  • There's no standardized tournament format 
  • There's no known way to skill bracket, and there are no 40k professionals
  • Due to the lack of professionalization and ranking, all first round pairings are random (or in some rare cases determined by subjective evaluations of army composition)

So theoreticals to highlight why this presents a severe problem for Margin of Victory:
Major tournament, Round 1
Table 1 - Player A (highly skilled) barely beats randomly paired opponent Player B (also highly skilled)
Table 2 - Player C (highly skilled) annihilates randomly paired opponent Player D (his first tournament 40k game ever)
In a simple bracketed tournament approach,Players A and C advance, and continue to play at wherever they would as part of a bracket, against other winners. If they continue to win, they will eventually face each other and determine who is best for that Tournament.

Pause and interjection - Tournaments NEVER DETERMINE THE BEST PLAYER They ONLY determine the best player for that tournamentA million variables from random pairings and match-ups to the issues in someone's personal life or amount of sleep all factor into how each person will play, especially in a game with dice as a determinant factor. LEAGUES and SEASONS are used to determine the best, and even those ONLY determine the best for that league/season. The goal, therefore, should then be to fairly determine precisely that ... who is the best for the tournament.

Let's go back to Player A and Player C, and put them in a Margin of Victory event. 
Player A is considered inferior to Player C at this point in time. Player C's score is higher, because he scored a Massive Victory against a beginner. Player A scored a Marginal Victory against an equivalent opponent and therefore scored much lower in a Margin of Victory format.
Question Series:How many professional sports use Margin of Victory to determine the winner of their tournaments? Is the Super Bowl determined by Battle Points scored in Rounds 1-3 of the NFL playoffs?Is the NCAA basketball tournament halted after Round 3 and the Championship awarded to the team with the most points over 3 rounds?How many people are happy with the way NCAA Football determines its title game? At least instead of arbitrarily awarding the Championship to the highest BCS-rated team, they have a play-off between the top two that's oriented around simple Win-Loss. Imagine if only a bare victory in triple overtime there was ruled as "too close to call margin-wise" after the fact.

The downsides to Margin of Victory are amplified by fewer rounds, and by more participants.
Fewer rounds means more undefeated players at the end from which Margin of Victory events assign a de facto-arbitrary Best General. More participants means a higher likelihood of some skilled players (unintentionally) dodging tough opposition while other skilled players (unfortunately) randomly face only peers.
The biggest issue people bring up is, "What about a small event in a smaller store? You don't have time to pare things down to a single undefeated for Best General. What if you have 16 players and only the time/resources for 3 rounds?"
My recommendation?
At the end of Round 3, split your Best General prize two ways between the two undefeated players, and award a Best Overall that's 50% win rate and 50% appearance score (the NOVA calls this award Renaissance Man, and it is our highest value prize).
Now you aren't telling one of the undefeated players their wins weren't good enough (even if they were against extremely tough opponents), and you are still awarding a BEST Overall (so, don't fret, there's still a single Winner if not having one bothers you). This is elegance at its best - not only do you reward a pristine performance equally across players who accomplish it, you reward Best for the person who is the best present at the entire Hobby, not just the best Gamer. If multiple players are still undefeated when your event ends, let's also face the facts - you have NOT yet determined the best Gamer at the event anyway.
Tournaments should strive for fairness above all else. The best way to enhance sportsmanship and the feelings people experience in the aftermath of the event is to provide the fairest environment possible for them to compete and participate in the fashion they personally desire to.
When you consider random pairing, variable player skill, and the many other complications already mentioned, it is inherently unfair to assign value to the amount someone wins or loses a game by.
The responsibility of a TO in my humble opinion is to do all we can to eliminate or further marginalize unfairness.
 There are some things about the game of Warhammer 40,000 you cannot and should not change, because doing so would inherently change the game itself. You cannot take dice out of it, the random rolls for first turn, the variability in army and match-up that occurs, the inherently random nature of first round pairings and the like. Adding unfairness via player-constructed (not GW-designed) tournament systems only causes more players to be upset by the results of an event, and it further discourages good sportsmanship as a result.

 - Mike

As a final note, it is always a risk for a TO to be perceived as competing with or criticizing events run differently from their own. While those I directly interact with across the tournament circuit know better, I feel always a need to reiterate: the NOVA is extremely supportive of variety and depth in the circuit. While I'm flattered by and love seeing other events run as "NOVA style," I also attend and enjoy participating in tournaments run in many other ways, including Margin of Victory. These posts are meant to share with readers why we do as we do; there are certainly many reasons a TO would use Margin of Victory, and as with any opinion in such a field - both sides are quite often right. By rejecting Margin of Victory as appropriate for the environment we seek to create at NOVA, we are not simultaneously rejecting the value of Margin of Victory in other events, formats, and games.