It started with bad news. I got a call from Fritz having to bail. Major family issues came up and he had to go. My respects and well wishes to you and your family my friend. But luckily for me, I guess, Brother Captain James was just a phone call way and always ready to jump on a free convention ticket!
So Smurf, his nephew Stumpy, BCJ and myself set out into the maw of the beast that would be Irene. We bravely left our wives behind to deal with the house and kids while a category 4 hurricane took aim for CT and we treked south. We had 40k to play dammit. We would not be denied Trios glory!
It can be said that my own expectations for Nova were minimal. I had no hopes for a Nova win, playing an army list designed around models that I liked to paint rather than play. I went there with the intentions of meeting and greeting a lot of great people, drinking beers with said people, and hopefully competiting for some painting awards. We wanted to win best team presentation for the Trios, and I hoped to compete for Best Army in the GT. Some where at the back of my mind I had glimmers of hope for Ren Man, but I only expected to win one of my Day One games, so those thoughts were kept at a minimum.
We arrived at the hotel, eager to play and ears nearly bleeding from when BCJ found out he could not attach his Librarian to his Shrike/Terminator squad to infiltrate them. That happened some where around the George Washington Bridge.
Our first impressions of the joint were, well... imposing. This was a real hotel! Not some Holliday Inn off the beaten path. This place was no joke. Absolutely beautiful. We checked in and unloaded our gear, then went down to the main floor to register. Rob Baer was there setting up Spikey Bits and so was Romeo from Battle Foam! A few hand shakes and a nod to Romeo and I was on my way. I wanted to speak to Romeo later, to thank him for his involvement with the Heroes of Armageddon project, and to shoot some video of him helping me create a custom bag for my new army.
Next up was the ever present Warstore, and a new vendor... The Black Library featuring none other than Gav Thorpe! Gave Thorpe ladies and gentlemen! I shook his hand, and thanked him for his work, and introduced myself. There was a small glimmer of recognition when I said my online name, but that could have been him thinking about Star Wars, or thinking about how ridiculous the name sounds, or about what sort of idiot would name himself after a glow eyed nomads privates. Internet Celebrity, meet real celebrity. :)
I didn't get a chance to talk to him very much, but he did pop in a few times to see how my games were going, and gave me some much appreciated compliments on my Blood Angels. Thanks Gav Thorpe.
Sadly though, the Black Library was not there very long and I had no cash to buy any thing at that time. I wanted to get some books on CD to listen to during my commute, but by the time I remembered and had cash, they were gone for good. Irene scared away another one. Thanks any way BL, I definitely wanted to support you guys and grab some stuff!
So on down the line I went, proceeding to the mini bar that was being set up to get a beer. I asked for a Bud Light, trying to watch my figure, and almost coughed up a lung when the guy asked for seven dollars. What the hell did GW take over Bud? That was a price increase of paint pot proportions!
I immediately knew that this was one guy who was NOT going to see a lot of business. If there is one thing I have come to realize gamers will not spend boat loads of money on, it is beer. In one of my few criticisms of The Nova, the beer bar was where the ball was dropped. I say that because at two of the other major East Coast events I have been to where beer was served in the game room, the TOs prearranged "gamer special" prices. The Mechanicon and Colonial. You see, charge us 3.50 a beer, and we will buy you out. You will make your money because we will drink all freaking night. Charge us 7.00 a beer however, and your bar will be largely ignored as we dip into our own personal stashes on ice from our rooms. I am not saying they have to give us the bar. But offer us one cheap beer, Miller Lite for example, at a reasonable rate, and we will buy. Those that will not can pay the 7 bucks for Sam Adams.
I think that the bar realized this, probably because all of us drinking cans of beer were just putting our empties right on the bar tray, and did not bother setting up shop again. Hopefully in the future that issue will be resolved. 7 dollars for a bottle of Bud Light is ridiculous any where. Especially at the cash bar for a 4 day event.
Minor issue, but hey, we were there for four nights. At 7 bucks a beer, most of us would have been tapped out by 8pm Thursday. Along that same vein, I think the Hyatt could have come up with some sort of easy access, affordable food. Nothing fancy, turkey wraps and chicken salad. If they really were getting freaky, affordable chicken wings and fries. A simple gamers menu available round the clock. Lets face it, we like our fried food and cookies and we like it all the time. The hotel that housed The Colonial got with the program, and I'm sure they set records selling Bud Light, mini pizzas and Chicken Wings. All of which were cheap and easy for them to acquire, produce and serve.
I get it that the place was an upscale establishment. So was the one that housed The Colonial. But I think it is not too much to ask to create a menu that fits the client that is essentially living there for 4 nights instead of gouging them with a per bottle price that would buy a 12 pack in some stores like we were in some New York City glam club.
On with the event. Speaking of food... Brandt organized a social event with FREE FOOD! Now we are talking. It was nice to be able to hang out and eat some decent grub and chat with people as they arrived.
Thursday night slowly turned into The Whiskey Challenge. I knew I would be playing Rob Baer and I knew he would be packing something dirty, mean and pretty.
When he got me on the table, there was much less hype than last year. Maybe because we got started late. Thats ok. Last year I played Tim Williamson and we had a fun game that I won. This year the game was over in two turns. I knew he was packing lethal nastiness, and I wanted to see just how much of a beating I could take. SO I charged my forces forward into the middle of the table. He then moved up his land raiders, and puked out 30 or so Deathcult Assassins. About five minutes later, the time it took for him to roll 300 dice, my army was dead. It was a thing of beauty! I think he flawless victoried me, even pulled out my spine. Too bad I could not hit A B B A arrow arrow start. (Or whatever the contra code was.) I don't think it would have mattered. If I had 100 more marines, they would have died just as fast. I wish there was more to write about this. He knew what I was bringing, and packed a list he knew I would have no hope against.
Whiskey Challenge out of the way, I proceeded to get on with my night. Thursday was a time to chat and chill. I met up with lots of friends I have made over the last couple years and had a good time. But the threat of Irene loomed over our head. We had families at home and the news networks were blowing the storm into an epic catastrophe of biblical proportions. I mean, really. At one point we saw an animated graphic showing lower Manhattan supposedly before and after the "projected" flooding. For the love of good it showed all of Manhattan under 30 feet of water. (At least to the casual observers... i.e. most of the general public.) No where did they explain that this was just an animation of what would happen in the infinitely small chance that that much water flooded into the city. They almost made it seem like it was going to happen. Same goes for all of the "stock" footage of houses getting blown apart. No where did they say that the footage was actually of Katrina, 6 years ago. They made it out to look like it was going on at that moment, when the truth was that the storm was still hundreds of miles off shore. Shame on them.
I bring this up only because it put pressure on us all, not because we were particularly worried, but because our damn wives were. Smurf must have gotten at least 300 text messages from his panicking wife. My wife called me crying because the news told her to prepare for the worst. She went to the Rite Aid on the corner and it was mobbed with people. She panicked because our flashlight was out of batteries and they were sold out, people were buying arm loads and pushing each other out of the way for gallons of water.
I don't want to down play the seriousness of a possible hurricane hit on the North East coast. But for the love of god there needs to be a level of responsibility from CNN to provide information rather than scare the bejesus out of every one. Some people, (on the coasts mostly) did suffer major damage. But my wife lost power for 23 minutes. Other than that she barely even noticed a storm outside. Smurf didnt even lose power at home. He just had to spend a day clearing brush from his lawn. But that came after his wife made him leave The Nova early on Saturday Morning. She didnt actually force him to, but between the crazy media and her urging, he felt the need to be with her. I don't begrudge him that at all. He took a train home to CT from DC.
So, the storm passed with a fizzle. None of us even noticed it between our scotch and bar food.
On Friday, Smurf, Brother Captain James and myself entered the Trios event. After a lot of thinking, I decided to enter the team event rather than play in the invitational. I have some mild regrets because I certainly had a chance to win Ren Man in the Invite, but when I look at the fantastic day I had playing in the Trios, they are wiped away. I had a fun and entertaining day of 40k. At the end I was happy, refreshed and ready for more. The same cannot be said about the invitational players. :)
One of our big goals for the weekend was to take Best Team Presentation at the Trios. Smurf and I built a three piece display board for our armies and with a little bit of work managed to make the third piece match James's army since it was originally done to compliment Fritz's Grey Knights. We proceeded to get our butts kicked on the tables. The format was three rounds, in each round one of us would play alone while two of us played doubles. Each of us would play a singles game and two doubles. James and I opened up together leaving Smurf to his fate vs a Templars player. We all got smoked. It didn't help that the first two shots against Smurf of the game would each kill one of his thunder fires, and James forgot to move Shrike into combat leaving him exposed and dead next turn. No worries though, our opponents, Team Bastard as we started calling them, went on to win the whole thing.
In round two I played with Smurf and we had a tight loss while James played alone and got whooped on.
Finally though, in round three, the stars aligned. I scored a crushing victory vs a Mech ork player with the usual battle wagons, shields and nobs. A few failed shield saves on his part left a lot of his orks on the ground and ready for assault vs my entire army. James and Smurf managed to pull out a close win.
So after three fun filled rounds of 40k, the awards came and we had won the Best Presentation by a land slide! In the scoring, one of us could enter Army at a Glance, one could enter a single best painted mini, and one of us could enter a single conversion. We went for the big points in Army at a Glance and I entered my army for that. Though I could have probably entered my Sanguinor into best single mini while James entered his army into Army at a Glance and we could have scored more points. James entered a converted terminator that looked like a Tech Priest for Conversions, and Smurf entered his Forge World dread for single mini. I think the next closest team score was about 70 points behind us. That with our team display board sealed it.
To be fair, we were the only team that actually tried to win presentation. And really I don't even think there were a lot of teams who had time to prep together. I think most of them were just thrown together for the event. But I know that Team Bastard did prep. Those jerks (Used lovingly, they were great guys) actually won a trios tournament a week before that they entered in prep for Nova.
No worries. To the victor goes the spoils. Our loot? A sweet plaque for the Man Cave and a 50 dollar credit for a resin base company. Heh. The Jawa-Forge shuddered. Smurf and I gave our credits to James. I think they actually sell other stuff. No biggie. James could use the loot.
Later that day I met up with Romeo from Battlefoam. In thanks for his support of the Heroes Project I wanted to shoot some promotional footage of his product. What better time to have him sit with me and design custom trays for my new army! We pulled out my models and he lined them up, tracing them onto his form and planning out which trays each model would ride. He also showed me an awesome new bag that is not even out for retail yet and sold me a prototype. Video to come. Thanks to Romeo for every thing you did for the Heroes of Armageddon. The Blood Angels army was lost in UPS shipping for over two weeks. When we finally got the army back, the box looked like it spent two weeks on a rice truck in Somalia. Thanks to Battlefoam, the models inside suffered minimal damage!
Friday was more of the same. Lots of laughs and war stories at the bar. I ended up at the Hotel bar, where surprisingly the beers were two dollars less than the ones they were trying to sell at the cash bar. Weird. By that time though I was drinking scotch. The evening was more subdued though, we had a long weekend still to go.
Thats enough for this post. I will add pics and video and do up a part two asap.
More to come.