Monday, May 26, 2014

40K Today - The Initial Edition Mess


If you're reading the internet at all, it's a bit of a mess. People who have very little experience with the new game are doing one of two things: 1) swearing it's the worst ever and needs to be completely changed ... or 2) swearing they know it's perfectly fantastic and they'll stab anyone who suggests tweaking it.

It's probably somewhere in the middle, in reality. There are a lot of fixes to the base game. Then there's the psychic phase, which would probably be a net improvement except that denying the witch is sort of a figment (the odds are hilarious), and some of the powers are dumb (see video batreps summoning thousands of points into the game, fortunestars with re-rolled 2+'s still that you can only hit on a 6 with shooting or combat and can't template or blast, etc.). Then there's GW's utterly BS White Dwarf claim that the FOC would be left alone for those who still liked it, only to basically throw it out with a fake label by letting you take as many detachments you want as long as you fulfill the minimum.

Soo ... there's a lot of work to be done in terms of playtesting, getting a true feel for the new edition, seeing how broken the hyperbolically broke-accused things are or aren't, and letting the people who are kneejerking that it's all perfect realize their initial prophecies may be just as incorrect in their absolutism as those who are projecting the entire edition needs a rewrite 3 days in.

On the plus side, people like Reece and Kirby and myself and others are already reaching out to each other to try and be as on the same page as we can be. That won't be uniform - no event should feel fettered by the bounds of others who aren't fiscally responsible for the outcome - but it will be a good deal better and more collaborative than we've seen in the past, IMO. This is especially true in the case of me and Reece, as our formats are far and away the most mimic'ed in the US at the "full size event / GT" level (all manner of things are run at the local hobby shop level, though it also heavily includes BAO and NOVA formats). As in the past, we'll in part do our own thing (FW or not, for instance), but I do think we've grown closer over the years and will be more coordinated in how we look at the game. Time will tell.

I'll also be working heavily with the many TOs who run NOVA style events, and the global group of players who are participant in the mission catalog, to revise those and edit those and manage the format and all of that, so that the NOVA Open this year is as fair and fun as possible for 40K players.

We'll also adjust the Narrative Supplemental Codices to both add supplements for Astra Militarum and adjust the extant ones for the new edition.

Further, if we DO instigate any changes or tweaks to the game after very careful consideration (and I haven't decided any such thing at present), the Trios Team Event still exists for the more unfettered version of 40k, so the full gamut of event possibilities will lie available to the attending 40k player.

So there's a lot of discussion, playtesting, more discussion, fending off internet hyperbole (of which I've been plenty a contributor historically, to be fair), and more to go ... but we're off to the races ... the internet's losing its mind, and we could probably have said all of this to those who've been through it before just by saying one line:

"Games Workshop just released a new version of Warhammer 40,000"

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Personal Rant - GW and My Vacations(!) - a Pictoral Rant

LESS THAN TWO YEARS AGO, I walked into this GW storefront and picked up the 6th Edition Rulebook:

This store is located here:

So I spent more than seven days wandering around said location and not ENTIRELY focused on one of the world's coolest cities:

Fast Forward (not even that much really, ahem) into the present.

I'll be downloading the new edition from the Black Library site tomorrow evening around 7PM or earlier, when it goes available for U.S. Eastern Time.

Then, the next morning, I'll be driving to beautiful Corolla, North Carolina, to stay here for a week:

Can't wait to spend some time there pulling my fingers apart to zoom in on the newest edition in order to dissect it effectively and efficiently for the upcoming 5th Annual NOVA Open.

All I can think of ... as I imagine myself stuck inside a book while I'm supposed to be having fun on the coast ... is this ...

Nevertheless, there's also some excitement, as rapid fire blogging shows.

The most exciting for me is the arrival of MSU in a big way to the game again, and that spells good things for tactical complexity and the minimization of "I'm going to micromanage this big honkin' unit" hammer. No matter how powerful or hard to kill, no longer can things like jet and beaststar contest the entire board at the last minute.

Gonna be an interesting few weeks .. ;)

FYI For prospective and registered attendees, the NOVA will have a full FAQ and revised Mission Catalog up by July 1 at the latest. We're aiming for a much more aggressive 2-4 weeks. Expect that things like Unbound will probably not be in, but one never knows until we really dig in.

40k Version 6.1 + Psy Phase

Reading through Kirby's increasingly long run through of the rulebook, which he has in hand, and I'm starting to come to the opinion that this is really Warhammer 40,000 6th.1 with the addition of a new phase and some optional missions / ways to build your army.

While tweaks such as FMC not assaulting the turn they change flight modes may seem substantial, they are no different from the release of new codices that change how models used to work ... especially since FMC are not all that common outside nids/daemons.

The nice thing is this isn't a major shift. A lot of armies are going to be "OK" and changes won't HAVE to be major. It'll still be the wild west of sorts for a couple months, but not as much as it otherwise could have been.

At the same time, there are going to be some understandably upset people at having to pay $60+ just so the developers could tell them what they really "meant" for 6th to be in the first place. I'm downloading my bought-and-paid-for rulebook tomorrow, but I wouldn't be surprised if pdf sharing on this particular book is more common than in the past.

GW doesn't read what I write, just as they don't provide direct support for one of the largest GW events run on the planet, but I continue to fail at understanding why they don't build their rules and releases for ALL customers instead of letting some dominant personalities within the dev studio hamfistedly force the game down avenues where without amendment it only works well for niche player group types (tournaments and social groups where both organizations, if you will, can pick and choose what to use and not use for clarity).

I ALSO wonder if they KNOW that their game works extremely well for tournaments. I'm not sure they do, b/c I think they INTEND for it to do the opposite. Either way, the change to 6th.1 from 6th is going to be smoother than the change from 5th to 6th by a substantial margin. This is good, because my concerns are allayed about people not being able to properly adjust and prepare for the NOVA Open this year.

What do YOU think? Check out Kirby's blog at the moment for what seems to be one of the more comprehensive live breakdowns.

Along those lines, the list of vendors showing up at NOVA from whom you can get sweet deals and awesome product continues to grow, now looking something like (with some tentatives still):
The Warstore
Grex Airbrush
Toledo Game Room
Culpeper Comics and Gaming
Atlantis Games
Tectonic Craft Studios
Greenman Designs
KR Multicase
Powered Play Gaming
Iron Heart Artisans
Folange's Ceramic Geeks

The Demo Hall is also starting to fill out, already including:
Dropzone Commander
Pathfinder Society
Angry Sheep
Forgotten King
This Is Not a Test

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Early Aromas - 7th Edition 40K Might Be ... Better? Wait ... No Really!

So, when the rumors first dropped, I was pretty concerned. Like everyone.

As more rumors drop, I'm becoming less concerned.

Let's start with the big ones, which are also the early ones.

Unbound, Random-Who-Knows-With-Random-Value-Even Missions, Psychic Phase

First and foremost, NO MATTER WHAT THESE ARE, if any of them are obviously egregious in their impacts on an all-comers open tournament environment, many of them are very clearly "packaged" instead of "infused throughout the game." What this means is you can easily eliminate these things from tournament play if they are genuinely unready for fair fightin' prime time.

It is possible that Unbound armies will be so restricted by rules buffs to Battle-Forged or rules nerfs to Unbound that it is completely reasonable to play with them against each other and without opponent permission. I find this highly unlikely, for reasons that would require their own post. Anyone with enough Apoc games under their belt, however, will remember what people start to do if they get too serious about Apoc or feel like trolling. Nobody wants to have to deal with 40 individual missile/flamer crisis suits.

It's not about people spamming multiples of really expensive killy units that causes problems with the Unbound scenario. It's about people spamming ridiculous quantities of units in a game where MOST units can't target multiple things per turn. In the immortal words of Sweet Georgia Brown ... "Ain't Nobody Got Time for That."

Nevertheless, if Unbound is perfectly implemented, we can use it. If it's as bad as some are concerned it might be for a tournament environment where you can't pre-discuss what's OK or not to bring with each opponent, we simply don't have to activate this module of the rules.

Malestrom of War Missions
Tactical flexibility on the part of a player is good. There's also merit to points accrued throughout the game, as we've seen with the widespread success of the Indy Mission Catalog ( What you won't see a lot of people enjoying with time is a set of entirely random missions, where you don't even know your primary until the game starts and you find out whether you deployed well for the missions at hand. There's more to be seen here, and they might be more brilliant than the rumors indicate, but the long and short is we can - again - stick with (As tournaments always do anyway) tourney-built missions evoking some of the spirit of the rulebook missions. Just like with Unbound, these aren't inherent to the game (even the eternal war missions are all still active / in there). They are optional items for all intents and purposes.

The Psychic Phase
So the Fantasy Magic Phase is coming to 40K ... sorta. It's actually much easier / more laid back I think than Fantasy in terms of how it sounds.

There are a LOT of people writing about this so far, as if they have all the details. Questions are still unanswered that define EVERYTHING, such as "can you cast the same power multiple times?" The way the mechanic looks to work, even a non-psychic army has an OK chance to stack all their dice against a single major power cast. I.E., if you want to stop Fortune or Hallucinate or something that will totally determine the following turn(s). Your ability to do so will be further buffed by having psykers of your own. If you can now cast the same power multiple times, however, that is a pretty important piece of information to have - it might argue for powers getting even more meaningful in the game.

One thing I do feel is that on FACE VALUE, key gamebreaking powers oriented around supercharging single units are going to be suppressed in reliability and thus see less time on the tournament tabletop. Generally speaking, if I can stack a few psykers via allies or primary into my army and focus on stopping you from fortuning up or otherwise super-buffing a deathstar, even if that means your other powers go off unabated, that's an OK trade in most books. We'll see how it turns out, but I wouldn't be all that worried.

Everything Else
We don't know enough about everything else to panic, but I don't think we should panic regardless. I do think you should panic if you're holding off on registering for NOVA still ... we're well under half our 40K GT spots left. Similar trends are occurring in most other game systems. ;)

Games Workshop has a history of "striking out" with a few rules every edition. Also, like at the beginning of 6th, new ideas like Battle Brothers are sorta stress tested through their internal processes against the current meta. Battle Bro super stars didn't really become a problem until a confluence of codices that post-dated their edition release. Good point I heard someone make in person last night: you'll note they were clear about GK not being Battle Bro with anyone, thus preventing various grenades and psy buffs being contributed to every Imperial Army. It's the lack of clear QC on a lot of what they subsequently do that seems to create problems and evince weaknesses in edition design.

So the cool thing is - no matter what the new edition is, it's going to probably be pretty fun and interesting right away. Not only will everyone be trying to figure out what is or isn't any good, but that lack of established meta will keep the game pretty wide open. I'm excited to try and attend a couple tournaments in the first 4-6 months again. The potentially uncool things are ... 1) the internet rage and banal commentary that always accompanies change, where blind advocates of the new belittle those who question changes, and where blind advocates of the old strike out universally at all things 7th ... and 2) the slow revelation of what the design studio "missed" with their implementation of rules fixes and brand new rules, potentially conflated by the release of future codices that exacerbate unforseen loopholes.

So it's sorta 40K as we've always known it. It'll be mostly a really fun time, in a game that's so heterogeneous in list / balance / etc., it creates a fairly interesting and intriguing competitive scene for the tourney-minded. Social gaming groups that either like to play one-off games or establish narratives / campaigns are also going to continue to have a blast, because like Tournament Organizers they'll establish rules and regulations to smooth out the rough edges of the game and their impact on fun. I'm a little concerned about Joe Shmoe the LGS hobbyist who hopes to get a few pick-up games in once a week or so, and the squabbles and challenges he may face with Mr. "Unbound's Legal I'm Allowed To!" and his 45 single crisis suits ... but, for most of the folks who read this blog, that's less of an issue I suppose. We have our tournaments, we have our groups of friends, and so we have the dawn of the next edition in a very fun game.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NOVA Open Updates - Also, Register Before CAP Prices Go Up in June - AWESOME GUESTS AND SWAG!

So a lot of things are going on with NOVA on the sponsor / vendor front.

First off, our vendor list continues to grow, and with standbys like The Game Room (infinite bits and used minis and the like) and The Warstore (discount goodies of all varieties), we've also got Grex Airbrush and Greenman Designs and Tectonic Craft Studios and more.

The Demo Alley we're adding this year is becoming crowded to say the least, with a host of companies yet-to-be-unveiled attending to show off their games. Drop Zone Commander is certainly included in this mix.

Malifaux is returning to NOVA in about as big a way as you could possibly imagine. We'll have limited goodies you can't get almost anywhere else, autographed rulebooks and art prints, awesome swag, the possibility of a Malifaux Mini in every single swag bag (remember, only the first 400 registrants get one, and those are about to be out!), and more. Perhaps more importantly, Malifaux's Lead Designers will be present, with Wyrd and a fantastic convo with the company's owner committing to helping us get Justin Gibbs out as well. Justin is the lead dev for Malifaux, and will be bringing an extra special bag of goodies of his own to hand out on top of all the other things already mentioned. In a lot of ways, the event will rival GenCon almost in terms of cool things to do, folks to talk to, and sweet rare swag to come by. Also, Will Urban of Urban Laser Craft is looking to hook EVERY attendee (swag bag recipients) up with NOVA Open laser cut scheme markers, and Malifaux attendees should get their own super swank mahogany laser cut scheme markers. These are all limited to first come first serve by event, so get off your keister and register!

Infinity is increasing its awesome support from last year in almost unbelievable ways. NOVA should be the site of at least one world-first Infinity Reveal. This will be something other than the typical big reveals to happen at GenCon only a couple weeks earlier. Furthermore, members of Corvus Belli's ownership are busily fighting over who gets to spend a week touring DC, signing things at NOVA, giving out sweet swag, giving a seminar on the new Third Edition and the cool aforementioned reveals, and giving free lounge talks over a tasty beverage in the Charity Lounge. I hear the current leader in the fight for that right is none other than Corvus Belli owner Carlos, aka "Bostria." This can't be confirmed yet :)

In addition to the sweet presence and reveals, there'll be some incredible swag for every Infinity attendee, and a very high likelihood of something special and new in every swag bag. Custom signed-for-NOVA Third Edition English rulebooks are also on the docket, plus signed artwork and more. It should be pretty incredible!

The NOVA Open Narrative has the coolest terrain you'll see at a 40k tournament ... anywhere. I mean, seriously. The Warlords Track of Day and Night games is going to be played on 16 custom tables creating Mad Max style wasteland, futuristic Urban, and extraterrestrial Lunar table sets, all thematically tied together and oozing with crunchy NOVA Narrative Universe goodness. This complement the already-radical DC Monuments we play on in the Narrative every year with their LED-lit craziness. There's also a hint of rumor in the air that the NOVA crew is hard at work conceptualizing and designing some ultra radical boutique boards ... not the least of which is a post-apocalyptic shantytown and a cross-sectioned crashed Virtue spaceship laid to rest in the asteroid belt (complete with low-gravity effects).

The NOVA Open 40K Events, Including the GT will be working with 7th  Edition, with FAQ and rulesets likely out within 2 weeks to a month of the release of the new edition. We'll be hard at work cracking it apart, including collaboration with folks like Reece from FLG/BAO/LVO, Tom and Pierre and more from the ETC, and of course all the awesome guys from other "NOVA Style" events such as Aaron Aleong of the Indy Open, Ed Miller of the Battle for Salvation, Jesse/Matt/Matt and co of the Kiladelphia Open, Neil Gilstrap of the 11th Company Open, Tim Royers of the Bugeater GT, and many many more (gosh I must be forgetting some, the Delawarr Open, the Redstone Rumble, I can't keep track of all the awesome events!).

We're under half our tickets left for 40K, and the CAP price for your con access increases in June. Get off your keister and register already!

If you aren't receiving it, e-mail asking to be added to the newsletter. We send it out on the 1st and 15th of every month without fail, and it includes tons of updated information, links to updated primers and rules, etc.

This NOVA Open is shaping up to be truly epic in celebration of our 5th Anniversary, with everything from industry special guests and epic tournaments to incredible seminars and brand spanking new "everybody gets to do it" additions like Demo Alley and the Tabletop Olympics.

Get your hotel room, get your CAP, get your event tickets, and get on out to the 5th Annual NOVA Open this August 28-31, 2014.