The Nova Open part 2

Here we go. It seems my blog posts lately have been small books!  I will try to edit this down before I even write it. (Well I tried, but this ended up being a book any way. Skip to the end for final thoughts then be sure to read the article for explanations and details.)

In the time it has taken me to actually sit down and write this up, I have been able to read some of the other posts talking about the Nova.  Unfortunately they are going to have an effect on my unbiased writing. Most of the negative posts deal with the venue. They have merit. But they also dismiss the positive posts as being written by brown nosers or GT noobies impressed with any thing because it is new.  Well I am writing a positive post about The Nova. I believe that I can be considered one of the most traveled 40k players in the country so I am definitely not a GT noob, and brown nosing? What would I have to gain? Well Brandt did share some awesome whiskey with me...

Any way.

I will address more of the things I have read later. For now let me continue with my own style.

Friday was a relaxing day of 40k for me, capped off by being awarded one of my primary goals, Best Team Presentation.  I have to admit though, there was a feeling of weirdness. Some writers have dismissed the hurricane as the cause. Umm... I think it can be said, that if there was a weird vibe at The Nova, dismissing the hurricane that was about to hit us as the cause is simply ummm... stupid?. Irene loomed over The Nova like a 40 page thesis you have blown off until it's due date.

Irene had a major effect on vibe. Period. First of all, guys were delayed in getting there or didn't get there at all. They were leaving behind family members and houses, that were projected to get hit hard, to travel into DC for 4 days of gaming. It certainly affected my mood.  My wife, while accepting and not irate, was not happy I left and was home for 4 days taking care of our son while a Hurricane was projected to go right over them.  That affected my vibe. Smurf's wife was texting him every 30 seconds. Every time I heard his phone go off he looked at me with concern and worry.  The man was worried about his family. That affected his vibe.  So yes, The Nova felt, UNDERSTANDABLY, weird because of the anxiety in the room despite the fact all of us tried to hide it.  Friends were unable to travel in. Guys that flew in knew they were not going to be leaving on time. There was a hush of concern throughout the gaming hall. If you did not feel it, you are not human.  Jim decided at around 8pm Friday night that he would be leaving at 4am to take a train back to CT to be with his family.  He left the van for us to drive home.  This decision bummed me out and lessened my positive experience. Things like this happened all across the room.

This is not the fault of the Nova.

I read another review talking about the cramped space. I agree, it was cramped. There was little room for our display boards.  We were in a basement with low ceilings too, and dark lighting.  Do I think that was a problem? Not at all. I have been to GTs and played in more cramped and darker rooms that were ground level.  I think that concerning the space, The Nova did the best they could. Plus there were all sorts of nooks and crannies for us to spread out in. Sure, we could not comfortably congregate around the gaming tables while gaming was going on.  Frankly that's a blessing. I was forced to put my display board about 15 feet away from my table a few games and walk back and forth to get my models. I made due. I could use the exercise. I have dealt with worse.

Having said all that, did I have a bad time at The Nova? Did any of this cramp my enjoyment? Hells no.

  Some one wrote about rampant thievery and that really sucks for him, I feel bad that it happened. But, I saw none of that and I left stuff literally all over the place.  In fact, quite the opposite happened. On three different occasions guys returned to me things I had left elsewhere. A 6" tac template which it seems is destined to be lost (Dameon Green found it in PA and mailed it to me the previous year.), my swag bag with my codex inside, and even one of my assault marines that managed to sneak off my display. Guys found them, and brought them to me.  I feel bad for the guy who had stuff stolen from him, but I had a very different experience.  I encountered strangers with integrity and honesty. But he has a point too. Who the hell steals a man's cookies. That dude should be ashamed.

Woops went off on a tangent again.

So after all the weird vibes and hurricane fears we got down to business.  Saturday morning rolled around. It was still nice outside. I trundled on down to the gaming space and set up my army for display. This is always the best time of an event. I love seeing what the others have to offer. Joe Johnson for example. He and I have developed a friendly rivalry. I could not wait to show him my display, and see how I matched up against him. (It turns out he got me by a point I think in the overall painting score... damn conversions.)  I need to find that survey sent by Brandt and get conversions taken out of painting scores. :)

As it turns out, a very small number of people dropped from the event due to the storm.  With some minor delay, to rearrange the new pairings due to drops, we were on our way.

Game One:
Ok it has been a couple weeks now so I am writing completely from memory. Drunken, and foggy.  First of all I knew I would need a baby seal in game one to have a chance at going 3-1 on the day. I was in the misunderstanding that Ren Man was given out Saturday night based on day ones scores. I was hoping for a baby seal in game one, then a pairing with a low winner in game two, hopefully a guy playing above his pay grade.  That would lead me into a game 3 loss, and hopefully a game 4 narrow victory.

I set up and waited for my opponent.  And my wish was granted. I won't talk about the game because my opponent was a nooby playing in his first tournament after playing the game for about 8 months.  It was a teaching game and I have to say that he knew what he was doing with his army, just was lacking on the subtle nuances of 40k.  I lined him up for a total assault from my army, and when it happened the game ended.  We discussed the game at length after, going over choices, deployments, tactics and strengths and weakness of lists.  He was appreciative of my knowledge and help and I enjoyed the chance to share my experience.

On to Game Two:
Space Wolves
This guy was wearing the DC Big Gunz shirt. Forgive me if I got the exact name of the club wrong. The black and red bowling shirt. I have had nothing but fantastic experiences with these guys and I knew when I saw him that this would be a great game.  It was table quarter deployment and we lined up, I forget who went first but that was not really important. The LOS blocking terrain allowed me to get close and nullified his missile advantage. He had long fangs and lots and lots of terminators. The Wolf librarian character, and the captain guy who grants them And They Shall Know No Rules NOT. (They had every special rule, whenever they wanted them.)

He had his forces in a U shape, with heavy stuff on each end of the U and pointed at me.  His meaty goodness at the curve.  He attached his two characters to a 10 man termy squad in cover.  His shooting opened up and blammo, he immobilized my Land Raider first shot.  Crap.

We both knew that this game was going to come down to a massacre.  I was gona wipe him or he the same.  My speed allowed me to pick the point where that would be decided.  My instinct was telling me to go left, away from his characters. Wipe out the smaller squads on that point of his U with relatively few losses, then work my way over to the boss squad and hit them in force.  Then Mephiston and The Sanguinor would do mop up while my stragling survivors claimed objectives.  Losing my raider forced me to make a choice early. But the single determining factor was his priest blocking Mephistons powers.  With Meph unable to fly, I had to run him.  Deployment had him closer to the character end of the U, so towards the characters I went in force.  I sent my termies left because that was where the imobilized raider left them.  They got assaulted by a squad of termies, won then took out another squad and owned the flank.  But that is where I made my mistake.

In hind sight, I should have sent all of my assault marines and the Sanguinor left with the termies. They would have wiped out his entire army except for the 10 man termy squad and then had enough left to deal. Instead I went for his throat but split up my small forces trying to save Mephiston who had to go right.  I sent my marines and the sanguinor after the characters.  Meph got into combat with a dread. The sanguinor ran in against the rune priest in termy armor while I sent my power swords against the captain.  Well, Sang delivered 5 wounds to the priest. He made 4 of the saves and lived, then made about 6 armor saves from the few assault marines I had B2B with him.  The captain failed his saves and died, but the game was decided.  The squad wiped out my assault marines after losing only 5, and The Sang was stuck in combat, worse, the priest survived.  I still had a chance at this point though. Meph was tied up with the dread and I needed his powers to break free. But the living priest blocked me again. Then refused to die in round two of close combat with The Sang.  I sent in the rest of my assault marines to the fray, and they would take down most of the termies, but suffered heavy losses. The Sang would die as well. And the priest lived.  He made about 10 5+ saves.  That was it.

By then I had little left and he had enough to take the game.  It was intense and close. Just the way a game should be.  My opponent was fun and enjoyable. Great game! I lost, nearly massacred.

Game Three:
So I went to game three knowing I had to score a big win to stay in the runnings.  My opponent?  Death Wing with Belial.  Sanguinius was smiling upon me.  Some armies I match up well against, some I simply destroy.  Deathwing armies cannot survive.  My opponent realized this early but to his credit gave it his all.  The terrain allowed me to set him up for an epic assault in which I caught 4 squads of termies, the termy command with apoth, a land raider and belial.  They all died by I5.

The hero of the game though was my scout sergeant and his missile launcher buddy!  My opponent was shooting at that lil guy for 4 turns with speeders. They held out, killing speeders with missiles, moving up and taking one down with a combi melta, and finally assaulting any that got close enough with the fist.  Eventually they went down, but held up for most of the game, occupied like 5 speeders, and took half of them down in the process.  This opponent was good natured and took it all in stride.  I need to write down names!

So Game Four:
I found myself against a nice dude playing IG. He had little of the guard tricksy tricks though. He was playing blob guard with lots of chimeras but no Vendettas.  The deployment was table corners again. I had to destroy him so I went right for the jugular. The terrain, again, allowed me to set up the perfect storm assault.  I massed in the middle and prepped for jump.  He did not manage to stop my land raider, so on my next turn, my boys got the green light.  I sent every thing except for a 10 man assault into his blobs.  He had screens up to try to block me from getting into his blob, but I set up my assault in such a way that I was able to run through the screen with my chaplain and keep him in coherency. That brought most of his blob, unwillingly into the fray. The good part was that most of them could not even attack.  So, on the charge I killed at least 66 guardsmen. My opponent's did not like that. I don't think he was used to seeing so much blood.

I redirected an assault squad to go deal with a couple of Chimeras full of vets that went to try to take a corner.  They succeeded.  The heros of the game? My scouts again! This time my close combat scouts were charged by 4 sentinals.  Over the course of three turns they killed three of them and held on while Mephiston finally made his way over to save them. They went on to claim an objective and corner.

Here is where I have a little beef with Sportsmanship scoring.  I played this game well, with no arguements. I was polite and fun.  My opponent was the same if a little dull. We were above civil with no complaining what so ever. It was an "excellent game" as my opponent put it. His words.  I marked off max sportsman for him, then noticed that he dinged me with average. What the hell!  Obviously the guy could not separate his feelings from getting tabled from the enjoyment he voiced about the game.  Don't freaking tell me that was an excellent game, then ding me with sportsman scoring!  Especially after you watch me give you top points.  This would turn out to be my only non max score in sportsman on the weekend.  I don't go to GTs trying to win sportsman, but I do put a lot of effort into being a good sport while still beating face. It was an excellent game on both sides. Bah...

Honestly I should have just given him the win and not wiped him out.  That would have left me in the 2-2 bracket the next day with a solid chance at Ren Man any way.  I wish I knew!

So Saturday night came. The winds picked up and he booze started flowing. I found myself in the hotel bar again drinking Scotch.  A large group of guys ended up congregating and we had a great time.  I can't remember the conversations, but lots of snickering and laughs were there. I guess if all you can remember from a night is laughing, then that is all that really matters. There was plenty of that. That is why I went to Nova.

Sunday rolled around bright and early. The Hurricane had passed and 4 more games were upon us.  As it turned out, the games on Sunday did indeed matter for Ren Man.

Game One:
I was matched up against a Nid player, who is also a member of our armed forces. When he started telling me about his army I asked if he had any of that bone sword nastiness. He blew it off saying "Nah.. none of that.".  Making his army out to be harmless and feigning surprise that he was 3-1.  Well I knew better.  I looked at his army, and knowing Fritz, knew enough to ask the right questions.  He certainly was not going to share with me that his gaunts were I 5 base with preferred enemy, poison, feel no pain and rerolled 1s.  He had an army designed to beat foot marines. I had a foot marine army.  If I did not know better, he would have tabled me in two turns.  Sneaky military man.

So we played chess for a couple turns, me letting him come and finally assaulting where I wanted to.  I got his stealers, and most of his gaunts, but by then had little left.  He ended up tabling me.  His big bugs shut down Mephiston so had no fear against him, and the sanguinor got cut down by numbers.  He was surprised though at the fact that he lost more that game than any other game against an army of my type.  :)

Oh well 0-1.

Game Two:
After being tabled by nids, I found myself against the worst possible matchup.  Dark Eldar with lots of nasty poison and venoms.  I knew I would be fighting not to be tabled.  Worse, on his first shot of the game he managed to see a 1/4" of my raider which I had hidden behind terrain. Lance hits it, penetrates, I fail my cover and explode. Shrug.

I spent the next two turns hunkering behind terrain while he used his speed to get angles and hit me with a million shots.  Eventually I charged what I had left and started killing, but the game was never, ever in question.  This sort  of bugged me.  It was not my opponent's fault, he was not being a jerk, but he measured every inch, and made every move with the careful calculation of a guy on table one of round five of the invitational.  The game took the full time to play, and I think it spent maybe 15 minutes actually on my turn.  I think the guy might have been newer on the GT scene, but sometimes a dude needs to figure out when the unspoken mercy rule needs to come into effect. I pretty much demonstrated that I capitulated the game without saying so, and only came out of the terrain when I realized that I was going to have to roll every single save as he proceeded to shoot his entire army at me.  So I just jumped every thing into the middle of his army and made it easy for him. Tabled.  :)  Now, I knew I would lose this matchup when I made my list.  But I also learned a bit in loss. Next time I face this list, I will try a few things different and see if I can at least make a game of it.


Game 3
I found myself in a Kill Point game vs a Blood Angels army played by a guy who flew over from Scotland to play in the Nova! Outstanding.

He had a couple of land raiders, meph and rhino mounted troops. He also had lot of las.  The game settled into a game of attrition. He exposed a rhino squad, and I nabbed them with Mephiston, killing the rhino and assaulting the squad. But Meph failed to wipe them out.  That got me stuck in range of his terminators.  On his turn he brought out hammer time, and assaulted Meph. Knowing he was lost, I focused on killing that last squad and taking the kill point.  The hammers got him.  But this was a Win by 3 kill point mission.  I was now up 2-1.

Once again, I found my scouts playing hero.  I out flanked them, and they charged his back side. He was all bunched up in the far corner. I had no real range to get him and he knew it. But the scouts came on and did their thing!  First they shot the god hammer land raider that his Mephiston had taken over and immobilized it. This caused a lot of problems for him, and saved their lives in a way, because now mephiston could only get out the front because of the way every thing else was placed.  Then they assaulted a rhino that did not move, and exploded it with the fist.  But the best was yet to come. On his shooting, he unloaded on the scouts. And they LIVED!  My close combat scouts suffered the entirety of his shooting phase and survived.  They would die the next turn, but it mattered not.  This kept all those pesky las cannons from shooting at my raider and getting a lucky immobile result or worse.  It also kept them from targeting Sanguinor for lucky shots.

After a few turns I was up by a kill point.  He decided to get aggressive and that allowed me to move in. I struck quick and got away to scoop up kill points before the termies could get me.  Towards the end of the game he started spreading out to score other objectives, and put his juicy kill points (Rhinos) in range of my boys.  I took the opportunity and grabbed some kills while leaving Sanguinor and a full assault squad in the center behind terrain to hold his termies at bay.

The game came down to his last turn still. If he could manage to get a single kill point, he would force an objective draw and win on tie breakers.  But alas, he had exhausted all of his resources and was resorting to lucky shots from maximum range with melta guns vs my land raider.

When the dust settled, I held the lead by 3 in KP, and scored 3 objectives and 2 table corners.

Game Four.
At this point I thought I was out of the running for Ren Man.  This last game was going to be playing for pride. And I found myself matched up against Vinnie Pau and his very nice Guard army.  If you have ever met Vinnie, you would understand my chagrin. He has a reputation for slow playing and in general pissing off his opponents.  But let me tell you something. The Vinnie I met was nothing like the Vinnie I heard about.  First, and Vinnie I apologize if I am making assumptions, but being a teacher I recognize that he has obstacles. For example his vision is not great.  This combined with a high level of obsessive attention to detail might give opponents the wrong impression.  I can see where others wold mistake his intentions. I wanted to give Vinnie the benefit of the doubt and I am glad I did.  He was thoughtful, and interested in my army and we discussed painting and modeling. He asked me for feedback on his painting, which was great (His painting), and asked me for input on a project he has coming up.

At this point in the weekend, both of us were exhausted. We had blown our wad.  I was already transitioning into driving mode. I had decided that we would leave immediately after the awards. I had previously reserved my room for that night, but in light of the flooding caused by Irene in New Jersey, I decided that the best time to drive would be 11 to 4am.  (Good choice too, it took us just 5 hours to get home. My friend Ed left at 8am the next day and took like 14 hours to get home and should have taken no longer than me.)

Since the game didn't really matter we just decided to have some fun with it.  I lined up all my boys and simply charged into his gun fire.  He proceeded to mow me down as best he could. It did not stop Meph and The Sang from getting into his lines and tearing it up.  It was actually really fun!  I chased his stuff around the table and he tried to get away and survive. Towards the end he brought on some reserves in the back table corners which I ignored. They ended up winning him the game despite the fact that they and a Vendetta were all he had left and i actually had most of my army left.

It turns out that the game REALLY mattered.  It didn't matter to Vinnie, but had I won I would have gone five wins and three losses.  Ren Man won with a 5-3 record.  DOH!  Simply diverting one of my assault squads to go deal with his reserves would have probably won me Ren Man. :)  Oh well.

So the game ended. I enjoyed playing Vinnie and am glad I had the chance to dismiss a preconceived notion. Though I can say that at one tournament I actually finished my game and looked over at Vinnie and saw that he was still deploying.   So that notion had some warrant behind it. Speeed it up Vinnie!  Looking forward to playing you again.

At that point I was approached by the head paint judge and instructed to set up my army in the back room. It seemed my army was chosen as a finalist for Best Army and also my Sang was chosen as a finalist for Best Painted Single Mini.  What an honor! Honestly, I could have pointed out at least 10 armies that I thought deserved the honor and were just as good as mine if not better.  The fact that I made the top 5 or 6 flattered me. That I was considered for best single model absolutely made my day.  A well painted army as a whole can make up for the lack of single brilliantly painted models.  To get that duo recognition was a true compliment.  Joe Johnson got trio recognition with his Converted model. I thumb my nose at him.  :)

Joe Johnson likes pink.

Bob Evers impressed me once again.

Remember that Spike TV pseudoreality show? 


For the love of...

Again, Bob with the sweetness

Ed Miller every one! Go BFS

Beautiful Hand Painting

One of my picks for winning army...

The Cobra army!

Another one of my favorites to win best army.

Then the waiting started.
And continued. And on and on.
Ok. Negative Nova thing. The waiting after the games were done and the length of the awards. I think of any event I have ever been to, Nova set the record for longest wait/awards post tournament.

I did not actually keep track of time, but we left as soon as humanly possible after dice down, minus a short interview I did with a podcast, and we were not in our van until 11:30pm.  I don't know what time dice down happened, but I'm gona guess it was around 7pm? It took about 20 minutes for the hotel to bring us the van. That means that at least three to four hours elapsed between end of tournament and guys traveling home.  This, Mike Brandt, was much too long.  I believe the same amount of time at the first Bolscon was 20 minutes.  The last game ended and we were out the door 20 minutes later.

Mike, there is no need to explain. I get that Nova results were a little more difficult to figure out than Bolscon was. You wanted to make sure things were right.  But a 3 or 4 hour span between dice down and "Thank you good night" is simply too much.  Firstly, you over dramatized the drawings like only Ryan Seacrest could.  That process alone took an hour? We love the drawing! We love that simply staying in the hotel got us a chance to win a grand. We love that loot was given out as rewards just for being there. But I would have happily passed up all of the spinning of the name lots and drawing of the names to get on the road an hour quicker. Pull four names out of the can, and read the first three minor winners all at once, then pause for drama, and read the thousand dollar winner. The guys can accept their applause, then go get their money at a separate table and we can move on. Same process for handing out all of the extra booty.  Read off the list of names of all the minor bracket winners at once and have them come get their loot rather than individually waiting and clapping while each and every guy made their way to the table for pictures.  Then take a little more time for the major tournament awards as needed. Maybe I am completely out of line on this and I'm just being impolite.  If so I apologize, it is not my intent to slam Mike or the Nova, any one feel free to correct me... but the credits, thanks and awards were tedious. Perhaps if I were not driving out directly after I would feel different. But I know that at all events I go to, long awards ceremonies make me crazy.

And this is a general GT statement, not directly having to do with Nova.

This is for every one out there. Please don't ask or expect attendees to help break down the room.  We pay a lot of money to go to these events. Some much more than others. By the end of our 12th or 15th game, we are burned out, exhausted and barely walking from stiff joints and wrenched backs. The last thing a paid attendee wants to do is haul tables into a truck. I am not saying this happened at The Nova. But I have seen it happen at other events. The attendees are more than happy to take their terrain from the last table they play on and put it into the various collecting areas. But that should be the extent of what is asked of them. And more importantly, don't make them wait while the staff breaks down the room.  I personally jumped in with the staff at last years Mechanicon to help haul tables upstairs to the moving vans, simply to speed up the process. I was one of the only players to do so. It was my pleasure to help a group of great guys. I am not afraid of hard work and it seemed that the awards were not going to happen until that job was done. But again, I was the only player to do so, that means every one else was either too sore, too tired, or simply uninterested to help. I know the staff is just as anxious to get out as the attendees, and they are probably not even getting paid, but that is part of what they signed on to do.

Simply wait until the players file out, then break down. Forcing attendees to break down the event, or wait for that to happen is not right. Now, asking for any able bodied person to lend a hand is a different story! There will always be a few like me who jump in and help.  But it should not be expected. I have seen staff bark orders at attendees while they moved tables around with no idea where to put them with the promise that awards would not proceed until every thing was resolved.  Not cool.

I don't need to get much more into specifics about the awards ceremony at the end of Nova. It was just way too long. I'm sure Mike Brandt has heard this enough, and is already thinking about ways to solve it.

Now, the awards!  It was awesome that Mike spent a good portion of the entry fees on the awards. He gave a grand out to one person who stayed in the hotel!  That is awesome, and genius.  The hotel sets it's price on the number of people you promise them.  If you fail to provide that number of paid guests booking rooms, than the hotel changes the price.  At the first Bolscon, there was actually a hotel employee who was being paid by a place down the road to redirect people there to save a few bucks.  And people were doing it!  I don't think that Bolscon made their room guest quota because people were booking down the road instead to save 10 bucks.  Well offering a drawing of 2 grand cash total for people staying in the hotel is a good way to motivate them to spend that extra 10 bucks!  He gave out I think 4 cash prizes, with the grand prize being 1k.

Awards were given out to the winner of each day two bracket, best sportsman, best general (The winner of the open) and Ren Man.  Also awards were given out to Best Army, best conversion and best single model.  That business was wrapped up rather quickly, and I won Best Single Model!  There was some confusion though. Brandt did not want a winner of a major award to win another one. So Ren Man was not supposed to win one of the Best Painted categories. But as he was reading the awards, he realized that Ren Man also was going to win Best Army.  Frankly I think the award should go to the guy who deserves it.  If Ren Man also had the best army, best single model and best conversion, then he should sweep them all.  After a conference, Brandt decided to leave it as is.

And rightly so. The Cobra army deserved the win.

While I don't feel that the Cobra army was necessarily the best painted, it certainly deserved the win by scooping up rubric points that armies like mine did not. The conversion points. I mean to take nothing away from his appearance. His army was very well painted and clean. That takes skill. But if I had to pick one that was better painted, I would say Joe Johnson got him.   But how many of us could resist looking for all of our favorite Cobra characters in that army? I loved it.  Yup. Best Army definitely went to the guy who deserved it most.  That left me with Best Single Mini.  And I was shocked.  Firstly, my Sang was the first time I tried NMM.  But really it was unfathomable that of all the models in the room, mine would be selected as best. I had no idea. I am truly honored and proud.  Especially considering what I was up against. That plaque now has a place of honor on my trophy shelf.

So. Final thoughts on The Nova Open.

Brandt put on another amazing success.

As I predicted, GKs made up 25% of the invitational and won.  GKs did not win the Open, and their average is lower than some armies. The terrain had a lot to do with this because it forced them closer than they really wanted to be, and blocked all of their incredible dakka.

The Trios tournament was great fun.

Most of the blog posts I have read focus on the negative, making it sound like that is all that happened. Well, while I heard about it, I did not see any of it.  The negative comments that make up the majority of some of the articles I have read account for a fraction of what was going on at The Nova.  My overall experience was good. Good people, good fun.

The invitational was as I predicted, bad.  Bad in a sense that most of the guys who played in it, that I spoke to, were sorry they did.  It is not however because of jerks. Yes, shenanigans happened. But most of the guys playing in the invitational were civil and well behaved. No, the invitational was bad because it was simply too much.  That many high intensity games held before a high intensity tournament simply fatigued every one involved and resulted in some high intensity blow outs online.

That brings me to this point. I think The Nova has too many games.  Five games is great. Just the right amount. 7 games is pushing it. 8+ is just too much. As many have pointed out, the time limit forces a different play style. The time is usually the biggest factor in who wins games.  Since Mike Brandt broke up day two into several small brackets that were not necessarily predicated by record, (I don't think) he really could have arranged them loosely from the beginning.  People dropping threw off the numbers thus requiring bracket fudging. That means that day two needed not be a 4 game day. Neither did day one.  I believe that The Nova could easily have been 6 games and been just as successful.  That would have caused less fatigue, and less bitching post event.

Now, guys did leave early after losing their first game on Sunday. Some writers contend that this was because they knew that after losing their first game they had no chance at loot and criticize Mike Brandt and The Nova format. But I raise the question... how is this worse than any other 5 game GT where 80% of the guys know they have no chance at winning the tournament, but still play their games on Sunday?  Yes gamer fatigue may play a role there, less games would help, but disgruntled attitude towards playing meaningless games as far as the tournament is concerned has nothing to do with it.  Guys who bail on their last games at The Nova would probably do it any where.  The only guys bailing are the guys who thought they should be winning and were pissed off that they did not.

But in this case, again, the Irene factor weighs in.  Some guys just wanted to get home to their families.  Believe me, two years ago that was a foreign concept to me.  Have a kid and you will understand. Some dudes honestly left to get a head start on getting home to their wife and kids. If not for the fact that I was a painting contender, I might have myself.

The Venue was the biggest detraction from The Nova. At 109 bucks a night, the rooms were not unreasonable, but the hotel nickle and dimed us for every thing. I had to pay 50 bucks to use the internet for my time there. Their slow ass wireless.  They were gouging us for 7.00 a beer at the cash bar the first night. Getting food during the day was a slow process and not really possible during short breaks. What food we could get was high priced and not worth it. Even the water bottles in the rooms cost 3 or 4 bucks.The room we played in was cramped for the numbers, and dark. The staff was not incredibly helpful or friendly. Much the opposite of the venue of the previous Nova hotel where they were glowing, smiling and nice. This is fixable.

The time from final dice down to players on the road was 3 hours longer than it should have been. Please fix that Brandt!

Not a thing I mentioned detracts from my opinion of The Nova. It was a fantastic gaming event and I loved being there. I played some fantastic opponents and had great games. I met up with old friends and made new ones. Mike Brandt was open, and caring and listens to every word of advice. He and all of the Nova staff actively seeked out people, asking for their opinions, and seeing if they were happy.  Mike saw the true concern on our faces about our families, and did his best to put our hearts at ease. The judges, staff and every one else was open to discussion and listened when people spoke to them, and answered as fair as they could.

Those are the signs of a good event. Care, courtesy and fairness. Mike Brandt showed that those are the benchmarks of the Nova.

I think I can say that some guys (blog ranters) missed the point of The Nova.  Here is an example of why The Nova was a win.  John Steining went to the open with no hopes of winning any games at all.  He has only ever played a few.  He loves 40k for the painting. So, he predictably ended up in the 0-4 bracket vs opponents of the same level... and got two wins.  Guess what. John had a smile on his face the entire time and when I saw him at the end he proclaimed that he was indeed hooked.  He loved the nova! He loved that after four learning games on day one he found himself playing in four games against opponents he had a chance against, and used what he learned on Saturday against them. He admitted that he was indeed a better player after the Nova than he was before.

That boys and girls is what The Nova Open is about. That was Mike Brandt's vision, and that is why I love the Nova.  Competitive players winning big games and big prizes, and total noobs battling it out with glee against each other on the kiddie tables. (Term used affectionately)  The Nova is not without faults, but it's vision is intact. It was indeed the tournament that offered it all, and backed up that offer.  Sadly, it is not the exhausted but smiling faces that every one remembers. It is the angry blogger rants that resonate so loudly for weeks to follow. You guys do a disservice to what Mike Brandt has devoted much of his life to in the last couple years because you know what? He and every one else involved is doing this for pretty damn close to nothing. And they did it well. Very well indeed. For nothing.

Nothing of course except for those smiling exhausted faces.

Great job Mike, can't wait for Nova 2012.



inquisitor_dunn said...

Nice review. grats on the best mini award. I wish I lived out on the east cast and could play in all the GTs out there. Guess I'll have to settle for our cornfield Gts and Adepticon.

But you never know, Nova is so tempting.

Hudson said...

Great post Jawaballs. Captures my feelings well.

Anonymous said...

Again... an excellent report!

Well... the first half anyway. I'll come back for the 2nd part later in the weekend. ;)

Brian Carlson said...

Good review. You really captured my views as well. Congrats again on a beautifully painted army! (I was the guy with the blue and yellow suns marines). I thought it was a real fun weekend but I would have to agree on the length of the awards ceremony and the dimly lit space.

Hax said...


Great review! Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet. Maybe next year!

I completely agree from a noob perspective that this checked all the boxes from what I wanted to experience.

Grats on the best mini!


Tordeck said...

Damn Jawa, you werent kidding when you said that you wrote a novel.

Great post though. Very informative. Maybe one of these years I'll be able to make it to something farther away than BFS and Conflict.

I have to say, and you know its nothing against you, I had to cackle out loud a little when you got to Sunday's game 2 report.

Jawaballs said...

Tordeck man, I feel ya. I deserve a good beatdown sometimes and I do take it on the chin when it happens. But in that particular game, both of us knew the game was over before it began, and after his first shot of the game, it was set and match. Without my raider moving up 12 and dieing in range for me to use it as a spring board, I was cooked.

But a couple of times I tried to suggest that it was over lets just wrap it up and he insisted I still had a chance. Game on!

But yes. I got smacked around. I will take it out on you. :)

Jawaballs said...

And every one else, I am glad I'm touching on something that matters to you. Too often some of the nastier posters are allowed to speak for every one, and every one forgets that for every "competitive" player at the Nova, there were 4 guys just there to throw dice and have some fun. Those guys matter more than the Steleks, Dashs and Jawas. :)

Anonymous said...

Damn that literally took me a half hour to read, good write up. Any chance of a new army like GK or BA Version 203820.7 (lol in good humor) by Mechanicons time? -Kevinmcd28

Jawaballs said...

No new armies. What this will be it for the fall. I'm planning an Eldar Ulthwe army, and still intend to paint my GKs for next year.

Dugatron said...

Good novel mate. Do you plan on writing a trilogy? :)

Tordeck said...

Jawa, I loled before you even got to the happenings of the game. It was the "oh noes, run away" reaction to the DE that you had.

I actually was a bit upset reading the report itself that the guy continued after is was clear you had no chance and had offered to concede. Beating a man down just to say you can is not kewl.

PS - Bring it. If BFS allows challenges I'll take ya first round.

G Red said...

Since you wrote such a long review, I feel free to write a long response ;)

Have to agree about the Hurricane Irene's effect on the tournament vibe. Sunday morning, when I got off the Metro and rode the escalator up to street level, once I reached the top, I was the only person around. I saw no cars, no people, no signs of life, only some yellow police tape around a traffic light that had blown down. Very creepy feeling to be the only person out in broad daylight in the middle of a major metropolitan area. Seriously unsettling.

Have to diagree about the low ceilings and dim lighting being not a problem. For us doing the appearance judging, the dim lighting was a huge problem. It is very frustrating to review the appearance of something which is difficult to see. We had flashlights, to be certain, but they are best for viewing individual miniatures, and not armies in toto. Plus it made any photography difficult--flash photography tends to wash out details. (which is why older tv personalities like really bright lights. Hides the wrinkles.) There is a comparison between the Hyatt Caverns (my term) and the Mines of Moria for example (Over at the back40k blog. I'm sure you saw some of that. Also some explanation for the appearance prize awarding in our comments there. Sandwyrm used decals/water slide transfers on his vehicles. A no-no in painting. Freehand it, stencil it, but please no decals. There will be a notice in next year's appearance packet warning people about this. Even though it seems evident enough to me. If you want to win a painting award, paint.)

Johnson's army was 'dreamsicle' orange, not pink. (as you have it labelled.) Very pastel, very tropical. And a difficult color to paint. But he used gradation highlighting in place of blended highlighted. The blending is the harder technique to do well.(yes it is. Especially with acrylic paints. Oils, a different story. But nobody paints minis with oils.) He also used black-lining with the dreamsicle orange. He should have used a dark brown (some shade of burnt umber.) This is not a critique of his color scheme, mind you. Personally, I liked the "Miami Marines" look. Very Cool. Folks can look elsewhere for explanantions why a dark brown is sometimes better, technically, than black for lining. OTOH, his conversion was, in a word, flawless. And conversion will stay on the scorecard. Sorry, Jawa. It is part of the hobby, just like painting models, and assembling/organizing armies. One cannot be a Renaissance Man if one neglects any part of the hobby :)

In your army's case, IIRC, some number of your assault marines had incomplete highlighting on their backs. Nit-picky? Well, we were really scrambling for ways to sort out the top armies you see, and grasped almost any trivial thing to help us decide. Things were very close at the top. Great display boards all around. Some even played music :)

And remember we are under the one prize per player rule, as I reminded all of our finalists, and wrote in the appearance packet. So...make of that what you will in terms of how we awarded prizes. And next year figure out how to keep the paint on your Best Single Miniature :) Poor little dude. You really did nail the NMM look though. I saw too many Grey Knights that did not. (Correction-- I. Saw. Too. Many. Grey. Knights.) Brian Carlson, a finalist I notice who has posted a comment here, really nailed the how-to-paint-yellow-properly with his Imperial Suns. Good Job Brian. And great looking army.

The awards ceremony, too long? Heck yeah. I had to leave before they were over. A total bummer for me, since after four very long hard days, I was unable to see the appearance award recipients receive the awards. So many things to improve for next year. But overall, a good, fun tournament.

Next year, aim for top conversion too. Johnson needs the competition. Just no Grey Knights. Please.

Jawaballs said...

G Red, thaks for the response. And yes, I should have highlighted all of the feathers on the backs. :) But I disagree with you on the conversion part. While it is a part of the hobby, it is a small part, and only part of some guys hobbies. GW makes beautiful model kits for Blood Angels. I love painting them, but the rubric punishes people who use them. Plus, I believe my Mephiston, while a simple conversion, ascends the character to a whole new level.

While I see value in converting armies, I don't think that 10% of your final score should be determined by them. But also, I managed to create a very unique looking army using multiple standard kits. Each of my assault marines was made up of three or four different kits. But more importantly, I delicately chose combinations of arms and body parts from those kits to create very unique and intricate poses. That took hours of me matching arms with legs and torsos. Easily as much time as others spent sculpting with Green Stuff. That should have counted for something! While they are not hand sculpted, I think my assault marines should count for more points as conversions than they do. They look nothing like the GW kits from which they are born. The poses on most of them look like they are caught in a dance of death, poised for battle, or reveling in victory. Not easy to do with some of those models. I am proud of the way I made stock GW kits look unique, dynamic, interesting and different.

That to me takes just as much skill as sculpting some green stuff sunglasses onto a Catachan. I would even argue more?

I think my conversions were very subtle but effective (my priests for example) and my army transcended the GW Blood Angels kits. I took them above and beyond their humble origins. Sadly, I feel I may have scored more points if I had simply used Chapterhouse Studios shoulder pads and funky vampire heads. At any rate, I personally feel that my conversion score should be higher, but I understand why it is not.

I am in no way challenging your judgement. You were spot on with my score as per the rubric, and you picked the right winner. But thats just it. I think that the conversion part of the rubric did nothing to reward cases like mine and over emphasized other parts. While I agree that it should be there, I think that points should be allowed for either direction. Or points should be created to make up for conversions. If GW makes fantastic models for an army, I should be able to use those and only those models, and not lose points.

I am not arguing with the Nova rubric. I made my army knowing that I was going to lose points there. But I don't think it is right that I am almost compelled to have to create all new models instead using the stock kits I love just to have a shot at the title.

You guys were devoted, and worked for nothing, and did a great and difficult job. And yes, for your job, the cavern was a huge negative. Thank you for being there!

Jawaballs said...

Oh and mine played music when the bateries were not dead. :)

G Red said...

My comment about conversions was meantas a light-hearted throw away line. Nonetheless, much of what you said is quite valuable. I do know that I need to re-calibrate the converted mini and single mini scorecards.

Conversions are a 5 point category on the best army scorecard, which is 0.009375 to the ren man appearance score. The army scorecard does not really compel mass conversions so much as it throws a few extra points to those who do it. In your case, your army score was a most excellent 95. (for the record, the mean score was 49.1; the median score was 50.) So conversions did not harm you at all on your army score.

But the problem we face with conversion... well in the first place, can we agree in some part that converting is part of the hobby, at least for now? I will say that it is a shrinking part of the hobby, now that the miniatures are almost all multi-part plastics that can be mixed, matched and kit-bashed to the nth degree. (Ah well. Me, I'm more of scratch builder-- Paperhammer anyone?) The only alternative thing I can think of would be called personalization, for lack of a better term-- how well does the player alter the miniatures' appearance so that it no longer resembles the stock, out of the box version. But with all of these multi-part miniatures, this also is an increasingly difficult thing to quantify. We may in fact need to drop it entirely from the army scorecard. Something I will discuss with my fellow judges in the near future. The hobby evolves, and we need to keep up with its evolutionary pace.

I believe that the converted miniature should not get the same weight as best single painted miniature when computing the Ren Man appearance score, as it currently does. (The formula is, [Army score + 0.3*Single Mini score+0.3*Converted Mini score]/160..) This is something that I will discuss with Mike. Normally, I don't mess with the tournament side of things. However, we Whiskey Crew guys have a strong sense that we need to reward this aspect of the hobby, this compulsion to individualize a miniature, to create a truly unique miniature with customized bits and pieces. But we do need to take into account how this aspect of the hobby has changed. Conversions are not what they used to be, as I have said, and certainly not what they were when I started tabletop gaming. (2nd ed. 40k, 4th ed. Fantasy) The Miniature Frankenstein category does stay, but how the score affects the Ren Man score should, IMNSHO, change. And how we evaluate the category will need to change too. And that is a very lengthy debate indeed. Feel free to offer your 2¢ at any time.

Funny you should mention Chapterhouse, BTW. Doesn't Joe Johnson have an affiliation with them somehow? And please, no funky vampire heads. No sparkly vampires. No lovesick vampires. Vicious, lethal blood-drinkers only, preferably stinking of the grave. And for Heaven's sake, No. Werewolves. Ever. ;)

At least a real painter won the Ren Man title instead of one of those 'competitor' types. Score one for the good guys :)

Get a wind up music box. I'd say get a solar powered one, but given the lighting issues...

One way or another we will have better lighting, at least for appearance judging, next year.
Do appreciate the thanks. Feel sympathy for my fellow appearance judges. After putting them through a 'calibration' course to get everyone on the same page for judging, they all went home and took a critical look at their own minis. A very bad idea...

G Red said...

Sorry for the typos. Had to edit/shorten the comment so that it would post. Blogger is fickle that way. Sometimes it works, sometimes not...

Jawaballs said...

I can agree that conversions are indeed part, a part that I lag behind at. But having said that, if conversions are an important part, hand painting should be an equally important part which is something I excel at.

I don't know if Joe has a sponsorship with Chapterhouse. I was throwing a sideways shot at him as a friend. :) Real men paint their scales and dragon heads by hand. And they don't paint them Salmon.

I like how you put it, "how well does the player alter the miniatures' appearance so that it no longer resembles the stock, out of the box version." I think that getting away from the word 'conversion' and creating a new word... say 'customization' or 'uniqueness' may be in order.

Create different approaches that meet the same goal. Dan O (Rat dark eldar), Cobra army and myself all did the same thing in very different ways. It is my opinion that the three of us were equally successful at creating models that took the viewer away from the "out of the box" modeling experience. That is partly why the three of us were finalists. But could that be properly reflected in the rubric? On most of my assault marines I had to cut the arms where they attach to the body a bit to give them just the right pose to create fluidity with the motion of the legs. I also based them in such a way that when combined with the pose and arms made the models much more dynamic than the Sanginary Guard box set which look stiff and akward.

I believe I was successful at making Space Marines look graceful.

The bottom line in this discussion is that you guys had a prepublished rubric that you kept to. I respect that. I really appreciate the willingness to open a public discussion on ways to improve it. Yet another example of the forward thinking that makes Nova stand out. Well done.

Morgrim Dark said...

Chris, glad you had such a good time at NOVA and specifically the Trios (team) tourney - mainly because I ran it ;) Seriously, you and the other players really made Trios a fun time. This hobby is only as good as the people in it and I felt like you guys really got that.

It was intended to be a lighthearted way to get the weekend started and I did not see anyone taking it too seriously. Granted we had nominal prize support but to your earlier point the Invitational seemed tenser precisely because there was more on the line.

Jawaballs said...

Morgrim thanks for running it. And you are dead on about the invitational. The trios was fun because we were playing for nothing... but fun! I was there to joke, play and drink, and try to win Best Team Presentation. Success on all fronts! :) You were a good TO. Looking forward to next year, you should come up to BFS!

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