WARNING: Pic Heavy post.
I just had the pleasure of attending DaBoyz GT in Rochester, NY and thought I would share some of the experience with you!
DaBoyz has been around for several years, and in the past I have always avoided it because it was proudly a comp heavy tournament. In case you don't know what that means, "comp" refers to army composition. The tournament had rules in place which restricted what units you could play, or penalized you for playing certain combinations.
The goal was to promote more fair army lists and avoid some of the abusive cut throat lists that we see popping up all over the place and usually end up fighting it out for first after leaving a trail of bloodied "fluff" players in their wake.
I admire the intentions, but don't agree with being told what I can or can't play in a tournament. At DaBoyz, playing named characters was a no no and I believe playing two of them was illegal. The army I painted for The Nova Open 2011 with the intention of just putting pretty models on the table and contending for "best painted" would have been illegal at DaBoyz and overall that army had a losing record!
You didn't have to follow the comp suggestions, but failing to do so pretty much meant you had no chance of winning DaBoyz. Some dudes defiantly went any way with nasty lists. Sometimes slaughtering all comers just to finish not even in the top five, some doing much worse.
To their credit, they were always transparent in this regard which is something I very much respect. I chose not to go because I disagreed with the rules, and it amazed me when guys that did go, despite the rules, complained about it and posted up negative press.
DaBoyz developed a devoted following none the less.
However you feel about comp, and for good or for poor, this year it did not matter. DaBoyz dropped their comp requirements. Mostly due to the unknown nature of 6th edition. As Mike Brandt pointed out for The Nova, this fall was the Wild West in the 40k GT circuit. It would be too difficult to assign comp scores when no one knows what is unfair, or at least more unfair than any thing else.
Jay Woodcock and Shuan Kemp, the primary organizers, suggested I come check it out in light of articles I had written in the past about my comp feelings and their decision to drop it. So I agreed! Plus Goatboy and Brent went last year and I was hoping to meet up with them again. (they didn't go this year... sad face)
So off I went, packing up Brother Captain James and Bobby Sinnott of Battle for Salvation, and making the nearly seven hour drive.
This year DaBoyz was scored using a max of 348 possible points. 198 were battle points (six games at 33 points max a piece), while paint and sportsman were 80 and 60 respectively and there were ten bonus points for turning in your list early.
The GT ran fairly smooth and on time. But it was a very relaxed affair, and almost seemed as if they were "winging" it. It was too loose. This may have suited them well in the more jovial format they used in the past where sportsmanship and fluff were encouraged over competition, but in a situation where the rules were opened up you can be sure that the WAAC players would be making their presence known. You can't have lax rules with them around because people get their pants in a hissy.
In my opinion, things could have been tightened up a bit. I was talking to Shuan Kemp and referenced Mike Brandt's running of The Nova. I know that DaBoyz is no Nova, and nor should it be, but Mike can definitely be used as an example of some one who runs a good event.
First, Mike predicted as many rules issues as possible and printed rulings for them, pointing out which established FAQ's were in play, and writing his own for certain circumstances. He used the internet to get feedback to make these rulings as comprehensive as possible.
Like it or not, he left little to be debated at the start of The Nova. Smart move.
Mike also has a team of generals who handle things like rules disputes. When there were issues, the low ranking rules judges would solve them, or pass it up the line to the rules general while Mike focused on being "The Face" of The Nova. Only if it was something extraordinary did the issue go all the way up to Mike, and in those cases, he decided with finality. But almost never made a direct response, but rather funneled it down through chain of command. The TO should be fairly hands off when it comes to the many small things that pop up. At DB, the TO Shaun was routinely forced to make rulings at individual tables. This sort of pits the TO in an adversarial role which is something I advise against. When the TO is making all the rules calls, then there is going to be a large number of dudes who beef the TO! Never a good thing.
Also, sometimes a rules judge would make a call, but the players would override him and drag the TO into it.
Other issues cropped up with the unclear rules.
For example, what happens when the round is nearing a close? What happens if there is only ten minutes left on the clock but one of the guys wants another turn? One player may need just another assault phase and is willing to forego his shooting and moving to get to it, so pressures his opponent to squeeze in another turn, forcing that opponent to rush his turn so the guy can zoom through to the only thing that matters to him. Most times this can be quick easy and fun to resolve! Like if two dudes are just playing for pride and want to resolve a combat between Dante and Calgar. A strict enforcement of the rules would not apply. But some times a guy may want to force another turn because he will have a pure advantage. It is unfair to the other guy who may need more time to fairly consider his turn, rather than rush through
"Oh come on dude, we can fit in another round in three minutes!"
Or it goes another way. At DB in the 5th round one of the top tables started one last turn right before the clock ticked off and were allowed to play it out, not finishing their game for at least half an hour after dice down because at the end of regulation one of them was going to lose and felt that he could win if they had another turn.
These particular guys spent the first half hour of the game arguing about how rules work. I will pick up that particular argument on my blog! It was not fair to the other 74 guys who finished their game within the time allotted, some of them no doubt rushing to do so or ending in circumstances against their liking. Plus the guys inputting all the info to the computer do need time to sort out the next round...
There should b e a pre-established decision for this situation. I believe The Nova rules that no new turns are started within 15 minutes of rounds end. I don't know how BOLS does it at Wargamescon, but I'm sure it is something similar.
A clearly defined ranking of the officers, and a thorough set of printed rules are a must. I think we can all agree that a tight ship is a must for a proper GT. At least the TO of DaBoyz recognized this and filed it away for next year!
To be fair, I just spent more time writing about this situation than was actually used to resolve it and it was really something small, but it should not have come up at all. I like to give examples of what I witness!
More Cons? Believe me they are few and minor.
The biggest one that I saw with DaBoyz was the venue. Inconvenient. And I will say this about every event that is held outside of the place where people are staying. The event was held in a cafeteria at the University of Rochester. At first glance, this is not a bad thing, as there is a little food court right next door, and the venue was fairly nice. There was a good amount of space, and I have definitely seen more cramped tables at other GTs. But this place was a few miles away from the hotel. But also, the parking lot was a good ways away from the hall, and when it filled the overflow lot was even further.
At Mechanicon for example when it was held in PA, we were able to actually leave our armies in the room over night if we dared. The room was secure. (I left mine) At the very least we could haul our gear to our room and set up our models on our display, then carry it down to the room. We were not sure about security over night at DB so we had to pack up our armies in the transports and haul them out to the cars, back and forth into the hotel, etc.
This is mostly just an inconvenience though. To me the real issue is the fractured group. I like to go to these things for the social aspect. And I'm not just talking about 40k in between games social. Shootin the shit while we wait for our next opponent. I am talking about really getting to know friends, like drinking Whiskey with Brandt or playing Talisman with Tony Spino until 3am. I was sad when the games broke up on Saturday night, and most every one disappeared. Some of the best times I have had at GTs was the after hours sitting at the hotel bar, or better yet, drinking beers right in the gaming room. And frankly, these times are the primary reason I go to GTs to begin with.
I don't know for a fact, but I believe we were not officially allowed to drink at the hall. I could have really used a few beers during game four!
One last complaint.
And I say this about every GT that goes more than five games. Too many games. In my experience, six to eight game GTs are just too much. Three games in one day is plenty. First, this gives us more time to be social. But also, that fourth game is rarely played with enthusiasm or fun. I have to say I enjoyed my fourth game on Saturday, but it was obvious that both of us were ready to be finished, and in my opinion, that was clear with the guys to my left and right.
The organizers say that five games is not enough to declare a clear winner. Conflict GT, Nova and DaBoyz all said the same. However, Mechanicon which is a five game GT, never seems to have a problem figuring out who wins! I forget where I saw this, but just have the players keep a victory point total for each game to use as a tie breaker. I believe that is one of the last tie breakers at Nova. Tallying that much math for 8 games may be a chore since counting when you are that burned out is tough, but if there are only five games we can handle it much easier! Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing!
Oh and it was too close to Canada. Too many Canadians. :) Just kidding my northern bruthas!
I referenced the laid back approach to DaBoyz. Well that happens to be one of it's best traits. It is sort of refreshing to go to a GT and not have a bunch of guys yelling rules at you. I don't remember where but I went to a GT where the judges were constantly shouting at the players for moving terrain because there was no place else for them to put their displays. It became really annoying. At DaBoyz it was almost an atmosphere of "You are all adults and experienced, do the right thing." And 99% of the guys do. It was a no sweat GT. If terrain got moved, we just moved it back. No need to get a judge to do it.
Another part of the atmosphere is the history of DaBoyz. Having it's roots in a more fluffy approach, DaBoyz draws some hard core hobbiest players. My first opponent, Ricky Johnson from Canada, had one of the prettiest Tau/Eldar armies I have ever seen. It was gorgeous, with all models uniquely Tau or Eldar, but at the same time, sharing a common theme. It was a pleasure to play against that army. But also, it was amazingly deadly. This army was planned out to the model, and made the best use of points and combinations you could imagine. Every unit had a role and did it's job well, and the guy ended up taking third best overall, as well as being among the top three painted armies and scoring a lot of points for Player's Choice. I think there were more breathtaking armies at this GT than any other I have ever been to. Before game five they had us set up the top armies for display, and I counted at least a dozen armies that would have won best painted at any other GT. Kudos!
Sure there were battle points. But DB rewards the hobby. The painter's and Sportemen who usually just get their basic points and no further reward for being outstanding at something other than beating face.
The paint score had it's basic rubric, but as an encouragement to be the best, the top ten got additional points above and beyond the rubric. Then to push it even further, the top three got even more! I believe the top three got 20 bonus points total. That could be a huge swing, affecting the outcome of the top five players overall and I think made the difference this year.
The sportsman scoring was similarly beneficial. Instead of the standard "was your opponent on time, yes or no" checklist which usually left the winner of Sportsman up to a battle point tie breaker (a second best general), you ranked your opponents. They gave us a list and we wrote down our opponents names. At the end of the event we ranked them, 1 through 6. One being the best. So if a dude managed to play six games and get all 1, then he was a truly good sport and deserved the win. I don't know how the points broke down, but the range of sportsman scores went from 16 to 53.
Both of these aspects worked to make DaBoyz a better GT than most.
Venue! Sure I listed it as a con, but the place was cool. The room was huge, and had an upper catwalk type level that held more tables. There was plenty of space. The tables themselves were a bit weak, in most cases just being some felt rolled out with terrain spread out, but the terrain was mostly good. In only one game did I play on a terrain weak table, and I luckily got the one good ruin. The poor nid player had to charge his big bugs into my assault cannons with no cover. It did not go well for him.
There was a decent college food court attached to the building via tunnel. I felt like I was in school again for the fourth time! It was nice to see something you don't usually see at a GT... girls! :)
Ahh college, how I miss thee.
DaBoyz was filled to the brim with great guys. I have to say that the quality of opponent has been improving steadily over the years. In the first couple years it was not uncommon to encounter some real jerks, but that is happening less and less. The guys at DaBoyz break that rule. There was a very small minority of "that guy" with the vast majority of guys being personable and friendly, if not well mannered while beating in my face.
Speaking of getting my face beat in, I finished three and three on the weekend, in 28th out of 76. I was in the top ten for sportsman and fifth in painting. The latter two I consider great feats considering the huge amount of greats armies and dudes.
I will save the breakdown of all of my games for another time, but the short of it is that allies are here in force. 6th Ed is for sure The Wild Wild West and I honestly don't think there is ever going to be a single codex "Leafblower" again.
As I said, my first opponent was playing a Tau/Eldar list. Previously both armies would have been laughed off the table at a major GT. Occasionally one of them would slip into the top three or even win, but mostly they were forgotten xenos races. Well, 6th Ed has ushered in a resurgence of both.
Hers are some pics of Ricky Johnson's beautiful and deadly army.