Last year, I was in Amsterdam when 6th Edition Warhammer 40,000 fell down upon us.
Being the "responsible" TO I like to try to be, I'd preordered mine for pick up from ... well, from the Amsterdam Games Workshop. It's a cool place!
The release of 6th Edition did some CRAZY things to the NOVA Open. First, we had a bunch of drops; players who didn't feel they'd be ready in time and said "let's do next year." That was ok ... we had a lot MORE players say they would rather drop if we stuck with the old edition ... and who could blame them? Who wants to play an "old" Edition at a major GT when the new hotness just dropped?
So there we were, faced with a matter of really only a month to translate an entire new edition, new FAQ's, new combinations, new everythings, and somehow manipulate our missions into shape to be functional without also totally screwing over the players who'd just spent months preparing and purchasing and painting!
Last year's NOVA missions strongly resembled our 5th Edition standard and packet. They were tweaked to be more functional with 6th Edition, but not much.
This year, they've taken a lot of time, investment, and energy from the world community at large, and have developed into what I feel proud in saying are some of the best and most 6th-edition-reflective tournament missions out there. A whole big post is still in the works about WHY I feel that's the case, and what went into their design, and making them work in such a way that "standard" rulebook mission 6th edition armies would translate well in feel and success to the NOVA's matured 6th Edition mission packet.
Pausing there, the real thing about this post is ... sometimes Bad Things end up being Good Things.
For the first year of 6th edition, the big GT scene in a sense kicked off with the NOVA, and one might say despite hours of work, we couldn't have been perfectly ready ... and weren't. The missions weren't perfect, the meta wasn't developed, and it was a wild and whacky experience. BUT ... as a result ... we also get to be the first major GT to be held with a full year of brand new, rapid-fire-released codices, matured FAQ's, experienced blog-reading meta-developing list-building, and everything else all packed in and settled down.
So ... the bad thing is now kind of a good thing, and the buzz is showing. Registrations are at an all time high, and we're still getting tons of great feedback (At this point, mostly just positive) about where the missions and planning have gone to. I'm excited about it.
That said, what's the opinion of the average reader out there on where the meta is now? At first, everyone reacted to the changes to transports and vehicles with a mass exodus to "Foot." Blob guard and GK foot hordes ruled the day for a while, and the spectre of "Cron Air is going to dominate!!!!" faded in the face of mass foot armies kind of ignoring them, and winning a ton of events.
Then came the dreaded Heldrake FAQ (note, I don't say: CSM Dex), the FMC circus of Chaos Daemons, the rule-bending firepower of Tau, and now the Serpentine and very subtle potency of Eldar. Let's not forget DA and all that jazz. Either way ... the meta has changed as a result. Vehicles are now peppered into many armies, monstrous creatures and marginal deathstars are re-featuring, and the game is moving to this pretty radical place where balanced armies bringing a combination of big things, armored things, and foot are doing quite well.
What armies do you think will do well at NOVA and into the future this year? What style of build do you think will do best? Where do you think the game will go next? I, for one, am excited ... and can't wait to get my own models back down on a table with BFS, AdeptiCon, and more throughout the rest of 2013, 2014, and into the unknown future of 6th Edition. I'm just ... kind of excited about the game right now!
PS - Caveat - the "actual" Tourney Season, if there really is one, probably starts with AdeptiCon for most people, as the biggest and coolest and most mature event. I'm speaking more to the unique situation this year where the NOVA was the first international GT to hit after the release by dumb chance, and taking a long-view look at the maturation of the meta from radical instant-knee-jerk immediacy in August 2012, through what it looks to be turning into by August 2013 (in my opinion - something really awesome, cool, balanced, variable, and fun!).