Thursday, May 24, 2012

Terrain Moves Forth, Plus a Sample LOS Center Blocker for 2012

A lot of what I'm going to hit up here is from our most recent Road to the NOVA post:

We've made several advancements to terrain this year, alongside our drive to become fully self-sufficient (no borrowing, from anyone, for any reason).

First and foremost, as I've said before, we won't be using our large hills as CENTER blockers this year. They'll be in diagonally opposed corners.

A sample of a fully painted / finished center blocker can be seen here:

Second, we've dramatically improved the painting process for our pieces, upgrading to airbrushes for most of the paint work (then drybrush/etc. for highlights and flock), i.e.:

This gives a WAY more gorgeous base color pattern and approach, and also makes it much easier to add contrasting colors to the base grey than we did last year. These pieces are far-ish from completion, but the point is - we're going to have not only way cool and interesting terrain, but attractively painted terrain to boot.

A final note, a sneak preview on a near complete (final touches, LED lighting, etc. still to go) Lincoln Memorial done by Kevin Kovarcik (our webmaster/communications guy, and a HELL of a talented artist) to act as a centerpiece on one of the DC Narrative Tables this year during the evenings (does not conflict with GT, go sign up, it's built to work for both competitive and casual players alike, with table assignments, missions and pairings all oriented around list / playstyle).

To give you a sample of Kevin's work, plus a look at Infinity, check out the Remote Presence Blog (click on the pic), done by our Infinity guys (including Infinity tournament lead, Kevin C.):

Enjoy the update; should give you an even better idea for what to expect at NOVA 2012. Look for primer packets, and shots of sample tables, on or around June 1.

 - Mike

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We Made a Movie - The NOVA Open Comedy Short Film

Last year saw the beginning of NOVA Open Terrain Days. These were days where some awesome guys and gals would get together, build tables and terrain, drink beer, and ham it up nonstop. Over the course of this time, we got to talking about a lot of the gamer "stereotypes" out there, about  Youtube movies, about funny things about our hobby in general ... and out of all that, one of our guys, Jon, said "Wouldn't it be cool if all this was like, in a hilarious movie or something?"

Bad move, Jon. To me, the NOVA Open presents a sandbox for each of its staff members and organizers to kinda do whatever they want ... until now, just with formats and tournaments and all that. BUT ... thanks to Jon, we've now expanded that vision. We made a movie.

I want to caveat I had NOTHING to do with this; I acted in it, because they cast me in it, but I didn't come up with the plotlines or the story or anything other than the things I tried to adlib during each scene.

We stuck a TON of "Easter Eggs" in here as well ... ranging from references to LOS blocking terrain all the way to movie quotes and even a Family Guy reference. Let's see how many of them you guys can catch and point out!

Enjoy the film, and I hope to see ya'll at the NOVA this year, where Unicorn, The Rage, Catbox and others will all be in character and happy to say hey!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

NOVA Open 2012 is a Team America Qualifier

Bell of Lost Souls link:

Long story short, ETC2012 is the "main" qualifier, as the top three scorers and captain return. The remaining spots will go to winners/alternates of NOVA 2012, AdeptiCon 2013, and WarGamesCon 2012.  A Wild Card fourth is subsequently drawn I believe from the combo of DaBoyz, Feast of Blades, the Bay Area Open and the aforementioned major 3.

Follow the link for all the data. The NOVA is honored to qualify a player to represent the US overseas.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

WarGamesCon Tix and Airline Acquired

Hello All,

A variety of posts are incoming soon (I say this often, to no avail, but for serious), including some interesting news relevant to us regarding a little international flair.  That'll pop later today.

I purchased my GT ticket for WarGamesCon this year, along with airline tix (AA flight 1113 out of BWI on June 21), and reserved my hotel rooms.

It's important for the community know the solidarity with which the various TO's work and interact. Some of my favorite moments in wargaming are long and productive conversations (chat and over phone) with JWolf of WarGamesCon, Matt and Hank of AdeptiCon, Reece of Bay Area, Chandler of Feast of Blades, Jay of DaBoyz, Chris of Colonial, Neil and Pat of 11th Co, Tim of Bugeater, Garrett/Aaron/Keith of Indy, Mike of SVDM (with whom I had a good long chat at AdeptiCon this year) and a host of others (as if that's not enough).

What always gets us is the competition many outsiders from the TO crew tend to see ... to quote WarGamesCon's JWolf earlier in chat ...

Jon: You know, if people read our chats they might get the wrong impression and think we got along and had the same perverse sense of humor.

Truth of the matter is, TO's are often the only folks who fully understand the effort and minimal gain involved with running these things. We each have slightly different motivations, but most of them boil down to wanting to show a great time to everyone, and wanting to share our hobby the way our personalities enable. Given the nature of Battle Points vs. W/L, I think I see more often a competition attempted to be drawn between WGC and NOVA ... well, I've got my registration paid to WGC, and JWolf has his paid to NOVA. Shocked?

Now, it's worth sharing that my day job is as a Proposal Manager for a large government contractor. It's a lot like being an attorney from time to time, with an RFP representing crash time on a major case. Long-foreseen time off requests are often required for even weekends (even if it doesn't actually burn vacation), and travel is tricky for me ... an especially major RFP release can cause me to have to cancel 'fun' travel ... which means paying several hundred dollars for event tickets and airfare carries a significant risk of me losing money for nothing. Heck, I caught crap from parts of my team on a relatively small proposal for attending AdeptiCon, with over 6 months lead time on time off request. In my opinion, that doesn't matter when it comes to showing solidarity on the circuit, and planning to make a great event. So barring the unavoidable, folks will see me and my NOVA Open polo shirts rolling dice and hamming it up at WGC this year. Like many of the other events mentioned above, and many I'm assuredly forgetting about, WGC is a pillar for our community, and I'm looking forward to it.

IF you're in Texas and looking for something to do in a few weeks, give a gander at the site (click pic), they may have some spots left.

 - Mike

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thoughts on "Randomness" re: 6th Rumors / Game Design, and a Silly Grey Knight List

Good Afternoon All,

I'm posting from Fort Worth, TX, where I'm at for the week working through a pre-proposal process (for those that don't know, I'm a proposal manager in my day job, for a large DC-based gov't contractor).

A couple of thoughts on rumors of more randomness in 6th Edition, and how this applies to Fantasy 8th Edition randomness as well.

More random effects are perceived by game designers and armchair hobbyists as creating a more laid back, unpredictable, beer and pretzels feel to a game.

I strongly disagree.

Random effects in terms of baseline activities, like what Terrain actually is when you go into it or not ... and how far you can move ... and how far you can charge ... these things are completely unknown factors. "Competitive" players spend a lot of time factoring in the odds of what they're doing, and the best ones put themselves in situations throughout games where the 'bad luck roll' is far less impactful. SURE rolling snake eyes over and over again is bad for anyone, but there's a reason the more competitive list-builders and gamers master the movement phase, and build highly redundant and durable lists, and win a lot of games ... even the random factors that are prevalent through 5th edition at present are managed ahead of time in the list-building phase, and during the moments of the game preceding the moment where you "need" the dice to not be bad.

NOT SO for more casual and laid back gamers.

More importantly, as a GENERAL rule the more competitive gamers ... game more often. If someone plays 15 practice games, and gets that 'awful dice game' during Games 1 and 3, he still has 13/15 games played where everything goes more or less according to how he played. These games probably occurred over a relatively short period of time, more important, and so they haven't really wasted a whole lot of their allocated gaming time.

What about the beer and pretzels gaming father, who gets one night a week to hang out with the guys and roll some dice. He's probably spent all week pondering how things will go at work ... thinking about what list he wants to play, scribbling list ideas cryptically in the margins of his notebook ... even if he doesn't, most gamers in general look forward to their game time. He gets his ONE night off family duties for the week, gets over to his buddy's house for his one game with the guys ... and that week happens to be his crappy dice week. Between the day after game night the week before, and the next game night, his ONLY chance to game is ruined by random bad dice. That's a 14 day period in which he gets one game, and his memory of it is: "My dice screwed me over."

The less a game is dependent on dice, the more a game will go about how you expect it to go, with regard to the lists brought to bear and the play of the opponents. The more a game is dependent on dice, the less a game will go about how you expect it to. The more experience you get with "Bad dice" games, the more your playstyle and list-building style will adjust to insulate you from it ... the less you play, the less your style will adjust.

The long and short here is if some of the rumors about a more random 6th edition come true, you're going to see I think 3 things happen ...

1) People are going to get a feel for the game, and make the general choice (internally) of moving toward quitting, or sticking with the game, based on how it feels.  Then, simultaneously ...

2a) Competitive and/or more regular gamers are going to over time adjust their lists and gaming styles to match the new rules, randomness, etc.
2b) Casual and/or less regular gamers are going to be increasingly frustrated as an increasingly random game screws over their "feel" for how things used to be.

This is especially true with regard to new and improved codices, the 'meta,' etc. The more the game changes, the less the casual players are able to comfortably stay up with it ... the more frustrated they become when they 'waste' their playtime feeling like they have no chance against those with more time, and/or feel like how they play or what they purchase has no real impact on the result, due to how random the game is.

YES, competitive gamers won't enjoy going to a tournament, and losing a game b/c of a more random situation, but tournament play as a whole will adjust to that ... if it's REALLY bad, something ETC-style will come up, and the game will develop a modified tournament system that's generally agreed upon, and that eliminates more random components. That's just how things work ... tournament players of 40k will adjust, because they *always have.* Warhammer 40,000 is not a tournament game. Organizers work hard to MAKE it one ... even in the simple ways of creating points or conditions assigned to the basic book missions.

The real issue is not how 6th edition will impact Tournament 40k, because it won't really. The real issue is how 6th edition will impact the fun of the game at the casual and beginner level. If the game becomes more 'who cares, it's random,' or less fun in general for those who don't constantly keep up with it (aka, NOT tournament players), you'll see a lot less people taking the game as a serious hobby, or keeping up with it. Sales will go down (as they apparently have with Fantasy), and you'll at THAT point start to see an impact on Conventions, Tournaments, and presence at game stores ... because as with any hobby, the advancement of 'new' or 'casual' gamers into tournament/traveling players inherently replaces the attrition due to life of those who preceded them.

Ramble ramble :)

SO, my buddy James and I were talking about 40k lists that are wonkier. He's adopted the style of Ork list I've always personally run/advocated, that focuses on 9 Kanz, 9 buggies, 2 battlewagons purchased as rides for 3-man suicide Nob squads, and 6 troop units with Trukks. It's a bit abysmal in Kill Points, but is entirely overwhelming and hard to deal with in objectives-based missions. Fun fun fun to play, and very competitive / effective. He was pondering a list that was similarly 'Weird' in some ways, but still competitive and fun and goofy for Grey Knights, and he wanted to have a Vindicare in it. So, with no revision at this point, I popped this one out there ...

Inquisitor Coteaz - 100
Psycannon Inquisitor - 80

10 Paladins w/ 4 Psycannons, Assorted CCW - 630
Vindicare Assassin - 145

5 Acolytes w/ Storm Bolters, 3 Meltaguns, 2 Death Cults, Dozer Heavy Flamer Chimera - 155
5 Acolytes w/ Storm Bolters, 3 Meltaguns, 2 Death Cults, Dozer Heavy Flamer Chimera - 155
3 Acolytes w/ Storm Bolters, Dozer Heavy Flamer Chimera - 81
3 Acolytes w/ Storm Bolters, Dozer Heavy Flamer Chimera - 81
3 Acolytes w/ Storm Bolters, Dozer Psybolt Rhino w/ Searchlight - 72
3 Acolytes w/ Storm Bolters - 21

Dreadknight w/ Heavy Incinerator - 160
Dreadknight w/ Heavy Incinerator - 160
Dreadknight w/ Heavy Incinerator - 160

2,000 points
Paladins Combat Squad, Hiijack the Chimeras (I guess they don't have to combat squad, if you want to make a deathstar and lower your KP by reserving things, etc. etc., which is why they aren't combat squadded)

Inquisitors split to small 7-man squads in Chimeras ... 2 death cults stubborn backed by inquisitor and hidden within 5 acos, who do have meltaguns. These are your versatility troops, keep 'em in-tact.

Dreadknights follow the action, are generally great when they can't be easily focus fired, and late-game. This list is designed to impact the late-game, while acknowledging it's not 'idealized.'

3-Man acolyte squads have storm bolters so they can actually do something from the backboard when they arrive from reserves, in some games. Worth the investment. People may shoot them, but in most situations you're fine with that, or can hide them if you're not.

Dozer Rhino is to searchlight things if you really feel a need, to bring psycannons to bear early on key targets. More importantly, it's a free ride for the Vindicare, if you want to make him a bigger pain in the ass to actually kill. Sacrificing a turn of fire to hop into a covered, fortitude-capable firepoint is never a terrible idea. Plus, all his rules work with his pistol ... keep that in mind in games where you'd rather keep him with the crew and mobile, instead of sitting somewhere with a marine equivalent save (cover) asking to get dakka'ed down.

Wee, non-NOVA post for ya'll :)