Mechanicon 2013

It has been a while since I went to Mechanicon but I just have not had time to post!

Another fine event has come and gone.  I go to Mechanicon every year mostly for the people that go. I really enjoy seeing these guys each year, and catching up and discussing armies and you name it. I love my yearly game with Ted Nagel, video to come soon and overall I love the vibe of the event.

Here are some pros and sadly cons.

Pros first.

All of the above is true. It is a feel good event.  Tony Spino and crew run a top show. Every thing ran on time and when it came to the awards ceremony, they had it wrapped up quick and had us out the door!  (Lets face it, after 2 days of gaming, some of us just want to hit the road instead of sitting through a three hour awards.)

The best thing going for Mechanicon was joining forces with The Warstore Weekend.  Neal and Steve at The Warstore have taken over all of the logistics, leaving the guys at Mechanicon the ability to focus on what they love... running an event.  What is the best side effect of this? The ticket price!  Mechanicon used to be one of the most expensive events in the country, topping 125 bucks or so.  They were one of the first independent GTs to run in the country and that price was a product of the venue they chose.  It was expensive!  This had a great side effect that I will touch on later.

But now with The Warstore combining a whole weekend of gaming into one event, the ticket price is down to a low 50 bucks.  You cant beat that!

The tables:

Without a doubt the best gaming tables I have played on. Each table is hand crafted with a wooden rail to stop dice from falling, plus an additional two feet of space at the end of the table for armies. As more and more people bring elaborate display boards, this is becoming a necessity that other GTs are ignoring, leaving us searching for places to place our armies. (Usually the floor)

The Terrain:

I have yet to go to a GT and not hear some one complain about the terrain.  Mechanicon is not exempt from this.  I admit, sometimes, on some of the tables, the terrain was a little sparse. But in general, I think the terrain is outstanding!  It is all superbly painted and a lot of it is hand crafted. There are the usual bits of broken Star Wars ships made into terrain that Mechanicon is famous for, mixed in with the standard GW pieces, plus some had crafted ones like bridges and buildings.  There is the LOS blocking piece in the middle.  The best part is that each terrain piece has a write up in the rules packet that explains how it is to be used. This stops people from gaming the terrain.  One of the best parts is that they include gun emplacements. If you are lucky, you can scramble to an Aegis wall that has an anti air gun inside and use it! This adds an element of fun to the games.

The rules:

I love Mechanicon missions.  First, and perhaps most importantly, they are NOT designed for hyper competitive 40k.  Mechanicon has always been the GT for those who like the hobby. If you are a flavor of the monther, win at all cost player, you may not much like some of the missions at Mechanicon.  I think this is great!  It changes things up and sometimes helps tip the balance of power away from those ridiculous abusive lists.

Now time for the Cons.

The cost:

Yeah, I listed the low 50 dollar price under the cons. BUT, I would happily pay 100 bucks like it used to be if that would help dissuade some of the flavor of the monthers from showing up.

What does this mean?  I use "Flavor of the Monther" as a descriptor for those guys who have made a living out of always playing the hardest net list they can and only going to tournaments to wreck face. Their army seems to change monthly to reflect the most abusive and broken combinations in the game and often times these armies they play are painted poorly at best, and the guys themselves are not the most fun opponents in general.  It is not rare to find that these armies are not even painted by the guy playing them. (Usually those look a bit nicer as they are commissioned.)

How does this impact Mechanicon? Well when it was 125 bucks to play, that was a major investment and hurdle. This usually attracted mostly more mature veterans who are not afraid of sinking time and money into their hobby. Most of the armies that you saw on the tables were armies crafted with care and love. Every game was eye candy and every opponent was  a pleasure. Mechanicon didn't really attract the power gamers.  And when they did show up, they probably didn't return because they didn't like how the missions and rules may have tipped the balance away from their carefully constructed list of doom.

Well at 50 bucks, it is a lot less of a monetary investment. So we have started seeing more of the abusive lists showing up along with their players. The first effect of this is that it chases away the player base that Mechanicon became known for. Who wants to go to a GT with their fluffy beautiful army just to get stomped by 5 riptide or Eldar/Dark Eldar lists over and over?  Also, I have seen a steady decline in the visual quality of the armies that people are bringing.  One of my opponents playing Eldar/Dark Eldar who tabled me was playing models that were half painted. Yes, the portions that were done were VERY well done, but the army needed a LOT more work. Something you don't expect to see at Mechanicon. More on that particular army and game in a bit.

But Jawa, you played Tau!  You are being a hypocrite! Well, perhaps. But, I invested over 120 hours into painting my army over the course of six months. It was one of the nicest painted armies in the room, and every one that saw it agreed that it was a balanced and fair Tau list.  But yes, I still hate myself for playing it...

So sadly, a tournament that has traditionally been a place where the best of the best looking armies could show up and have fun games is being replaced by the standard net list 3 color minimum GTs of abuse. I regret to say that I have played two of my most unpleasant games in a long time this year.

By the way, some of these guys I count amongst my best 40k friends. But there is a time and place for this sort of thing, and Mechanicon has traditionally not been that place while Nova has set up a format that embraces it (The invitational) for example.

The Hotel:

Overall I would say that the hotel was not a great value. It was a Hilton but the weekend rate was 120 bucks a night and the quality was not there. The sports bar was just awful. The first day when it was time for lunch they for some reason had just one staff member working there.  They had to know that the place was going to be packed!  Some food and bev manager dropped the ball. A lot of guys left in frustration after sitting there for half an hour and not even getting greeted.  The hotel did not make alcholic drinks available at all really. They had another little bar that should have been open but it was unstocked and unused. Not all that big an issue, but then the hotel staff was complaining about us drinking outside beverages!  How can they not provide a place for us to get beverages, then complain that we were drinking our own...

The location of the place was not great either. Northern Jersey sucks. It is trafficy and congested. There was no eatery in walking distance to the hotel, and driving out meant paying for parking and possibly driving DUI.  We did manage to find a nice brew pub and had an enjoyable dinner, but in general, the Hotel deserves a low grade.  Plus the rooms were too hot.  It was 65-70 degrees outside but the rooms did not have working AC.  I guess they turn them off.  My room was hot, and the AC only spit out warm air.

But worry not, they are already looking for a new venue for next year.

My overall experience and batrep?

I got to play Ted Nagel and his Son again. Two of my favorite opponents. I look forward to seeing them each year.  But my gaming experience in general was not great.  And this makes me sad.

My first opponent of the GT was a Tau guy using 5 riptides and 4 Skyrays. He had Oshava, a squad of 6 fire warriors, a single suit as a tropos, another squad of suits, a named riptide, a suit buff commander.  I don't even know if the list was legal, not that it really mattered. I didn't much care and was not about to make it an issue at the GT. As I understand it, if you take that named riptide from the Farsight enclave, he becomes the Oshava bodyguard... you can't take another body guard... I don't know if he did, but his army only had three troops.  The 6 fire warriors, a single suit, and a squad of 3 suits.  So if the 6 FW were one of his compulsory choices from his mother list, how were both of the other suit units counting as troops? Farsight made the one from the Enclave count as troops I think, but what about the single troop suit?  The named riptide and the other riptide taken from the Farsight Enclave both had the Earthcaste reroll of Nova charge upgrade... not sure if that is legal either.

Needless to say the game did not go well for me. My army was outclassed.  With most of his riptides rerolling every thing and ignoring cover and armor and instant killing, and then hiding behind terrain, jumping out and blasting me then hiding again, he wiped me out in two turns. That is ok, but in the process of doing so he was arguing with me about what had Line of Sight and doing questionable things with the missile racks on his tanks.  As I understand hull mounted missiles, they can only fire in the direction that they are pointing.  So a Hunter Seeker missile mounted on the front of the tank pointing straight ahead is dependent upon the position of the tank to fire.  You cannot fire it at something behind the tank for example unless it is mounted on a turret or guided by a marker light. But in order to avoid granting me a cover save with three of the missiles of his rack he turned the turret sideways so that the ones on the right of the rack were not shooting through terrain then claimed that all six could now hit my unit and not grant cover.  Then he would say something like "What is this douchy? If I am being a douche tell me..."  I suppose I should have taken it up with him then and perhaps attempted a discussion about how missiles actually work, but just didn't feel like being in that situation and let it go. At this point I just clustered my units so he could kill as much of them as possible as fast as possible so the game would end.

The sad part here is that he was a nice guy. Part of the problem is he was a new player. And a lot of new players get sucked into the habit of arguing minute rules issues that veteran players just either understand, or don't care about. Like calling a judge over to decide if some of the missiles on my Skyray had LOS through ruins on his tank.  There was no need to call a judge. All he had to do was get behind my missiles and look which he didn't do, instead he looked from behind his tanks to see if he could see my missiles. It doesn't work that way. Yes they could each see a part of his tank so yes they could fire, granting a cover save. But the issue went on for much longer than it should have in a game where we were both pretty certain (at least I was) that was going to end in a complete tabling.

His army?  Well there were signs of nice touches. He had little crystal gems magnetized to the backs of all his rockets to signify which have fired, and he had them attached to the bases of his Riptides to indicate how many wounds they had left.  Nice touch. But the army itself was not of the quality you are used to seeing at Mechanicon.

In my second game I got Chucky Nagel and his pretty Chaos army.  Here is a case of a bad matchup for him. He of course had to charge me, and unfortunately for him my army is super abusive to marines within 30 inches.  But we both accepted that and had a fun time playing the game.  While it was wholly unfair to Chucky who would go on to win Smoking Boots, we sill enjoyed the game and crafted a story together. One heavily weighted to the glorious Tau.

Game three found me against a Chaos/Demons list with Fateweaver and other Flying Monstrous Demons and stuff. The army was pretty and the player was fun.  He was chill and engaging. We had a fun game that came down to the wire. While he got the win, it was only because a single shot and subsequent failed leadership test made 4 kill points die giving him a lead I could not overcome. It was exciting and entertaining.  I walked away from game three feeling satisfied and happy. We crafted a great story together!

Unfortunately though, scoring big points in game two and decent in game three matched me up against the Eldar/Dark Eldar list for game 4.  He was a young and friendly kid. But his models were unfinished. He had a couple wraith knights, a huge seer council with the baron attached, a couple Venoms with troops inside.  Not sure what else.  There were glimmers of outstanding painting on his models, each had a beautiful flame effect.  But the army just needed more time.

The game itself went badly for me.  First he was another newer player. But had a "i dont care I will just punch them in the face" attitude that doesn't bode well for playing in a GT.

First here is something I am curious about.  I had first turn and was trying to drop my Riptide bombs on his council which he had tightly packed behind terrain.  I started laying my template over his models and he insisted that I had to lay it over their base. They were on small flying stands.  Which means that the model which is easily three times the size of the stand does not matter. (I needed to touch the bases with my template, ignoring the mode.) First, I was under the impression that bikes now come with the large base flying base not the small one.  Other players I have seen using them in tournaments had them on large flying bases, plus I recently just got one that came with a large base. (I could be wrong on that, but I thought it did.)  So I said to him, "I'm not going to bust your balls on bases but they are supposed to be on the appropriate sized base and I think bikes now come with large. Some guys won't let you play those."  His answer was "well I would just punch them in the face."  Alrighty... Another case where I think the higher price point would have weeded out an opponent. The chief advantage of using small bases is that you can hide more of them behind terrain if they are on smalls.

 In this instance we used the hulls of the bikes. (I only got four of them and he made 3 invul saves so it didnt matter at all) So it was a non problem. It was the response that mattered.  Apparently I was flat wrong. Bikes DO now come with small bases.  Or do they? Can any one comment to this?

Any way, once his squad started casting spells and moving they became nigh unkillable. It took my entire army two rounds of shooting to kill two of them. It instantly became obvious that the game was over. I broke it down for him how the next few rounds would go (him hit and running in and out of combat and wiping me out to a man without losing more than one or two models.) and conceded the objectives and game.  Seeing as how he was not really engaging in conversation, or really taking part in the game at all other than to measure his distances and roll dice leaving me with a rather dull and unfun experience, it really was the best choice.

Game Five:

Here is a big regret for me.  I was matched up against a Khorne Berzerker list with Kharne in a Land Raider and berzerkers in rhinos, a vindicator, a winged demon prince, bastion...

He obviously loved his army and I feel for him. It was very much like my old Blood Angels army that is absolutely unplayable in 6th ed.  When we started the game, I warned him my army was absolutely devastating to marines within 30" but mostly harmless outside of that range.   We had three objectives each, each of them counting for a secret total of points. You could hold three objective and I could hold one, but I could win because mine is worth more than your three.  The deployment was the long corner to corner no mans land.  I placed all three of my objectives near the same terrain piece, making it obvious where I planned on deploying.  I then won the roll to go first, but gave it to him which he was thankful for.  He would at least get a chance to close the distance before I started shooting...

But unfortunately that would be the last thing that went his way.  He clustered his troops directly across from the terrain piece where I placed all the objectives which was in the rightish corner of my deployment zone.  So what do I do? Some Tau trickery of course. Knowing that he was so close to my "bunker" he would just lob Vindicator shells at me then assault me.  SO I deployed all of my stuff in the far opposite corner of my zone where was only the smallest of walls to take cover behind.  My plan? Ambush. Rush his side from my left flank, and take his objectives knowing that he would come for me regardless. Only now he had to cover a lot of space in open terrain. I placed pathfinders in opportune locations to grant me marker lights but keep them out out trouble., I put my Skyray so that it would assuredly get side shots if he lined up his vindicator to pummel me, and I put my Stealth team infiltrated into the center behind LOS blocking terrain, ready to jump out and fusion gun the Land Raider.

And then dice started rolling. First he moved his rhinos up 12" and popped smoke.  But sadly, his vindicator shot would scatter back onto his own rhino, and explode it.  Then on my turn, the dying started.  I of course lined up the zerkers standing in the crater with a template that ignored cover and scored a hit, killing them all.  My sky ray hit the vindicator with a full barrage of six missiles to it's side armor, exploding it.  My broadsides wiped out his heavy weapon marines on the bastion and instantly things started looking bleak.  Then I displaced and moved back, leaving only small squads to suffer the charge if it came...

Next turn he could not reach with the land raider with a reliable charge so he stayed inside. Unfortunately it was in range of my stealth team.  He killed some of my troops with the guns on his Bastion and held his prince back a turn to keep me from advancing into his backside.  But then my stealth team jumped out and exploded the Land Raider. I hit it with enough markers to increase their BS to 10 to ensure I hit, and it did not even have a cover save any more.  The explosion killed my fusion gunner, but left Kharne and all his boys to the mercy of my entire army... they would not survive.

My kroot came on and popped another rhino from behind. The squad in there would go on to kill the kroot and some pathfinders before dying to lots of missiles while my missile sides took down his Demon Prince after the prince killed a riptide (The charge was actually short but I called it close enough which my opponent happily accepted) and the game ended that was never in doubt with a full victory for me.

And I felt terrible.  He knew it was coming. But his disappointment was obvious in his face. Then I heard words that I never want to hear again. My opponent said that was one of the most UNFUN games he had ever played.

Hearing an Echo here?

That is how bad Tau suck.  Whether or not you are playing them, playing against them sucks. Even though my army was fair and balanced, even he agreed, it still rendered an army that he cared deeply about down to an noncompetitive joke and he hated it, and I feel for him. I hated it too.

To be fair, he did do what I warned him not to. He could have actually stayed back and held his objectives, forcing me to advance, and probably stood a chance of winning, but why would Khorne do that?  Against my army he had a chance. So long as he didn't charge. That was not the game he wanted to play, and up until I made my Tau army, neither did I.  We adapt or we die.  I think all of us understand this to some point.

But that didn't stop the sound from resonating in my ears.

It made me realize that for that game at least, I was a hypocrite. Sure it was circumstantial and every army has bad matchups, this one was his, but I was playing an army that left him with a negative opinion. And THAT is what matters to me now after playing 40k for seven years.  He admitted that it was not my fault. I was not bad to play against, but the army was just no fun to play against.  That didn't make me feel any better.  I won't be playing them at another GT. Instead I will be playing my Lamenters and have vowed to finish them.

So any way, to sum up all of this rambling and to try to climb off my high horse. (Tongue in cheek humor guys) Mechanicon is different from The Nova (among others).  It has traditionally been the tournament where those hobby lovers with their lovingly crafted but wholly noncompetitive armies could go and play and maybe stand a chance of not getting tabled in all of their games. While there was always a smattering of them, the cut throat players tended to avoid it because they did not like the rules or the price.  But with the price now a nonfactor, more of those cutthroat players with subpar armies are showing up.  For the first time at Mechanicon I saw a lot of barely painted but terribly abusive armies.

I made an example of two players and I want to be fair to them.  Neither of them were bad guys and both of them were newer players.  I like them both as people but would not willingly play either again.  I don't think that either of them understood the spirit of Mechanicon as I see it as well as most of the guys who have been there from the beginning including the organizers.  And to make an example of myself, I don't think that my last opponent would ever play against me again.

So am I any better?  Are we products of the armies we play?

What do our armies say about us?

In most tournaments it is irrelevant, we are there to beat face. But in a rare few like Mechanicon and DaBoyz, there are different expectations. At least for some of us.


Here are some images from Mechanicon including a few armies in display. I wish I got more, I thought I did, but most guys didn't even have them on display at all. The Nurgle Chaos army won a very much deserving Best Appearance. It was majestic.  It was no coincidence that the painter waited until Mechanicon to unveil it.  Well done!


hyv3mynd said...

Thanks for the write up. I feel ya with the FotM armies and I'm in the same boat taking eldar+dark eldar to daboyz this year, but I played dark eldar + eldar last year so it's more a role reversal than a new FoTM army.

I also purchased 2 boxes of new bikes after the codex drop and they all came on small bases.

Jawaballs said...

Thanks for the update on the bike bases. I could have sworn that the bikes I bought were on large ones. Has any one bought bikes that came with large?

Tim said...

I've bought bikes that came with large bases but it was a few years ago. GW seems to have switched that. Really - what they need to do is completely re-do the eldar jetbikes, but don't hold your breath for that. Plastic kits are almost never redone - unless they are marines!

Im sorry to say that your experience at Mechanicon, reflects the current state of the tournament culture. Power-gaming is totally acceptable at the community level, imbalance between codices is heavier than its ever been and the enthusiasm for building flavorful and beautiful armies has waned in favor of building armies to beat face.

Its not all bad though! I think if you're truly in the tournament mindset you can have fun, but I don't think most people are ready for what goes on at tournaments. You've got to be ruthless but congenial at the same time. You've got accept losses and be gracious for your wins. You've got to understand what the other armies can do- what Tau and Eldar can do - and understand what your army can do. Really, tournaments are not for the casual player - they are for the serious player.

Embrace Your Inner Geek said...

I couldn't agree more with this post Jawa. There were always power builds in 40k, but the abusive lists really seem to have grown over the last few months. These "Hobby Killer" armies are just no fun to play. And one of the things that really makes me sad is that I've played Tau for ever, all the way through the dark days of 5th, and now I'm a "power gaming FoTM douchebag.. sigh! Frankly, the new Tau Codex was the worst thing that ever happened to my army (joke!).

Next tournament Im going to I'm breaking out my BA!


Embrace Your Inner Geek said...

BTW - the Tau list was probably legal in that he would have taken the 6 fire warriors for his allied troops from the Empire Codex, and the unit of three suits (which are compulsory) from the Farsight Supplement, with the single suit being his 2nd troop unit. HOWEVER, unless there was an odd FAQ, he should not be running 2 Earth Caste Pilot Arrays (the wr gear that gives the re-rolls on Nova charging). Signature systems are one per army (and I know some people make the argument that the SS on O'Vesa doesn't count ... but they're wrong!).


Jawaballs said...

OH I get it, it was a farsight mother list with tau allies. I hadn't thought of that. It was hard to tell, all of the tanks and tides except for the named one were painted the same.

breng77 said...

I totally get how you feel. 40k has become a huge arms race at the moment where certain armies just fail against the top armies, and fail hard. I run a fairly competitive build, but i purposfully don't get as crazy as I know is possible...and I still end up rolling people sometimes. So much of it though comes down to the player piloting the list. It sounds like some of these guys were not at all in a friendly mindset. For me if I know I have the win wrapped up I'll start "pulling punches" I won't assault into a unit that I could, I won't be as precise as I might otherwise be in my movement etc.

But some players only have a "hard mode", they argue every rule, every LOS call etc (typically I ask my opponent to tell me if I have LOS or cover from their shooting if they say no I go with it.) I recently even have someone arguing what Scriers gaze did based on nothing out of the rule gets old.

It is also far less common (at least in my experience) with top flight players. I have run into it a lot more on lower tables than top tables, and I think that is where these "hobby killer" lists really cause a problem. When played by players on the lower tables. First many have copied them from the net because they need the Auto win button. Second, they tend to be up against lists that lack the punch to fight back. I.e. your games against the CSM lists were no fun for them because they had no chance, much like your games against the other players you mentioned....

There is little middle ground left in 40k right now. Balanced lists out of the top books beat face on the lower tier, and get beaten on by unbalanced lists from those same books.

Sucks though, the meta is very narrow right now.

BDS said...

Well, I think you handled the "If I don't like a rules question from a guy I will punch him in the face" attitude/comment very well.

Personally, and this is why I did not score well when we used to have this strange thing called "sportsmanship", I would have worked in a dozen or so comments fitting his "punch face" category and smiled at him while I did it.

I don't care how young or old, new or veteran, a person it, that is intolerable and I would have been happy to educate him in the error of his way. Again, you apparently handled it with aplomb and maturity so I commend you.

These crazy lists are as crazy as they ever were, insert 5th ed Grey Knights, short lived Ork Nobs, IG Leaf Blower, rhino rush BA's, 4th Ed Eldar, 3rd Ed Iron Warriors, etc.

Just have to ride it out my friend.

The good news is that instead of having to deal with a particular ridiculous list for 1-2 years, the current rapid release schedule solves this problem for us in 3-5 months, if that long.


Grubnards said...

Most of the large GTs in America have little or no restrictions in regards to (here comes that dreaded word) comp and as a result you'll continue to see the FoTM and net lists showing up and winning these events. I'll be upfront and say that I've yet to attend an event like Nova, Beakycon, BAO, and the many other like it around the country that cater to the crowds that like to beat face with the most optimized list from the latest codexes. Those types of events are just not fun for me and I'd rather save the couple hundred of dollars and spend it on models and events I enjoy.

I have always built my armies on what units I like and how they flesh out and portray my army rather than buying multiples of a few models that are the current rage. I like to go to events and see unique and different lists, I like to see fully painted armies that have a story behind them, I like to see imaginative army themes and display boards that showcase the player's skills in other aspects of the hobby.

That is why I enjoy attending the DaBoyz GT each year. The comp format may not be perfect and the hard core players will still try to "game the system" but overall the event promotes diversity. While the internet rages against events that use comp, the Da Boyz GT continues to sell out year after year, regardless of all the flak that gets said about it. In the past years the Da Boyz GT thread on Dakka has always been a magnet for people who are against comp but this year's thread seems to have no negative comments about the format. Maybe that's a sign that people are getting tired of the current GT norm and want to go back to a more, well-rounded GT.

"Really, tournaments are not for the casual player - they are for the serious player."

My response to this type of comment is what constitutes a serious player? I've been playing/collecting since the end of 3rd edition and have invested over a few thousand dollars into the hobby, just as many of you have, but because I want to play a themed list with a well painted army rather than an army of composed of 5 riptides or 3 wraith knights with a three base coat of colors then I am not considered a serious player? Or because I want to play a themed list comprised of Word Bearers and Daemons versus a list made up of Tau and Necrons, or Space Marines and Dark Eldar then I am not a serious gamer? I know I am generalizing but this mentality that GTs should only be for hard core players is false. I don't think anyone plans on shelling out hundreds of dollars to attend a GT but not play seriously.

The disparity lies in the format of the GT and the expectations of the player. From what I gathered in reading this post is that in the past there was an unwritten, but yet agreed upon, understanding that players would bring fun lists and to try and generally avoid the net lists. Since the rules for the event never imposed any comp or list formats then I don't fault the players who brought the Farsight lists, or the Eldar/Dark Eldar lists. I may have objections that they played those types of lists but I can't fault them for bringing those lists if the TO's did not set any format to prevent or curtail those lists from showing up. With the inclusion of the allies matrix, forgeworld units, and more powerful units in the game, I am predicting that in the near future we are going to see a swing in the GT mentality to start including some form of comp or format restriction in an attempt to balance the game and prevent the "casual" players from getting disheartened and stop attending events.

Jawaballs said...

Yah, it was more unwritten. I forget how they described themselves from the start, but it was always a tournament where guys went to display the hobby side of it, not just from the players but from the organizers too. Any guy like me who has been going from the start would agree that Mechanicon always had a higher proportion of pretty armies and players who cared less about winning the game than they cared about crafting a story and having fun.

This was the first year where we really saw the abundance of abusive lists coupled with a minority of finely painted armies. The organizers noticed too, and maybe in the future things will change.

Unknown said...

This is the first year I did not go to the Mechanicon and after hearing about some of the issues with players, sorta glad I didn't. I wouldn't have quit like the butthurt Nova-lover players that did on sunday but I know I'd not have been happy. Like you, I enjoyed the old school feel of the event; it reminded me of the old days of the GW Grand Tournaments when folks showed up to show off their army as much as play to have a good time.

Knowing the Gaming Garage folks as I do, I expect a few things to change- notable among them the painting requirement (MST BE PAINTED should be a standard requirement!) and perhaps either comp or a cost increase to the event.

That said, sorry to hear about the venue- it used to be a fairly decent one when Double Exposure was there. I do know things went south somewhat when the event manager changed but that was years ago when DE left. Seeing that some of it is still an issue is surprising.

The Arms race has always been there... and the jerks among our community always find a way to abuse an army list and will always go looking to stomp face- personally I think its because their momma didn't love them enough or something.... I do wish they stuck to NOVA though and leave the hobbyist-oriented events alone.

apothecaryixii said...

long and short my Marines went in with a positive can do and will attitude. Dying to a man in three games. I never quite. But is is obvious that in a tournament setting,my beloved salamanders do not belong in the Nova face punch setting(that was invaded by nova net lists. ). so I must bow out till the meta is fixed. GDUB does not care about the tournament settings apparently. As for the seer council I informed the player I will play him again. but never with a seer council at the level again. Do not play people are usually cheaters or baby seal killers. It is a shame as I look forward to mechanicon but next year will not be in the GT if things are not fixed globally in 40k. JAWA thanks again great report.

BDS said...


It is not only the US having these issues. If you listen to 40KGlobal, the problem is across the pond as well.

There is a growing sense of distaste for uber-lists.

I agree that if the TO's do not impose anything other than win/loss you can not fault the attendees. However, I have read BR's of winners that made mention of not having any fun, and/or feeling bad.

If is one thing to have a bad match up, it is another when the game is 95/5 in one sides favor when both lists are made of a codex's better units.

It may be time to bring back things like...must be painted to a certain standard, sportsmanship, and some form of logical comp.

I have heard the Swedes have an excellent comp system, but I have been unable to find an English version.

Jawaballs said...

I have always liked the system. Though I believe lately they have tilted the score away from painting and towards battle points. It used to be a large amount of your score and a lot of the hardcore guys complained. (I loved it of course) I think simply enforcing a strict painting standard will weed out some of the lists without having to resort to forced comp. There was only a "3 color minimum with finished and flocked bases" standard. I didn't see any armies that broke that standard, though there were a lot that barely met it. In Mechanicon of old, almost all of the armies went above and beyond.

Jawaballs said...

The funny thing is that in my early days I was strictly against comp. And still sorta am. Comp rules can work against fluffy baby seal lists too. But I am coming around in my old age. I wish DaBoyz was not an 8 hour drive for me...

breng77 said...

I guess I'll be the guy coming on here and saying that I think people are being a bit unfair to the NOVA. Sure there are guys there that want to beat face but there is also a spectrum of other players and the Re-bracket for the last 4 rounds is more kind to players than most other events. Futhermore they hand out substantial painting prizes. I'm not saying there are not hardcore players there...but I feel like a lot of you are using the Tournament like it is a dirty word.

Beyond that Comp does not work to eliminate beat face lists it just changes what those lists look like. Take Da Boyz for example, I could run my same list from Battle for salvation at Da Boyz (that went 4-2 in the second Bracket) without changing anything. And I ran a modified screamerstar list.

If people really wanted to fix things they would need to community FAQ some of the broken stuff in the game right now and essentially outright change some rules. I have brought this up elsewhere but if you want to eliminate a lot of the un-fun lists you could do the following.

1.) Change the Grimior of True names from Daemons to only effect the Daemon 5++ invulnerable save. (Eliminates 2++ re-roll saves)

2.) Change the Eldar Psychic power fortune to The Psyker and his unit may ignore unsaved wounds on a roll of 4+ (removes 2+ re-rollable)

3.) Change Tau Marker lights form 2 lights granting ignores cover back to each light being -1 cover save.

4.) Limit Wargear on the Tau commander.

5.) Change the wave serpent shield in some manner - Perhaps changing ignores cover to ignores jink. Or making it one use only for shooting or something.

Jawaballs said...

Thanks for that input Breng. And I mirror that. I like the Nova and aside from the fact that it is on the hardest weekend of the year for me to attend. (First week of school for me as a teacher). But I don't think people's opinion is not unearned to some degree. The invitational and it's huge cash prizes does bring out the worst in people. I have no problem though with it. It is billed as the most purely uber competitive tournament. And I agree, guys play there to beat face and I encourage it.

Nova also greatly rewards good painting in the form of Ren Man. But that doesn't encourage painting from the guys who don't care about it. The power players will get their army up to the three color minimum. I can say that at Nova there were a lot of very poorly painted armies, some of which should not even have been allowed while at the same time the number of true contenders for Best Painted was very small with the actual best painted army being played by a guy who didn't even paint it. (It was a gorgeous Iyanden army painted by a guy in Russia).

What I love about Nova is that The Committee is very transparent. You know exactly what you are getting yourself into and over 260 guys played in the 40k GT. So plenty of people love it! I however will be playing in the Narrative next year if I go.

Based on my conversations with many many people, The Nova invitational and GT are almost synonymous with poorly painted cheeseball armies. More so than any other tournament. But that is why they have the Narrative! The best feature of The Nova is that they truly do have something for every one.

Jawaballs said...

And yes some of those poorly painted, abusive armies did trickle their way into Mechanicon. The question is, if it was not for Nova, would some of those armies exist at all? Perhaps that is a question for another post!

Jawaballs said...

I can also say that if The Blood Angels get a new codex that is even slightly competitive, I will probably be playing in The GT next year gunning for Ren Man again. My first year I missed the win by .001 points. The second year I threw the last game by just playing around and running my guys into gun fire when I could easily have won the game not knowing that a minor win would have probably won me Ren Man. The power of a well painted army!

breng77 said...

Maybe it is just the events I have attended (and this years NOVA was not among them) I found the NOVA to have as many or more well painted armies than most events. I wonder if the rate of Codices dropping this year influenced that more than anything else. Guys that in the past would have spent more time finishing their army this year threw together Tau and Eldar on the quick and went.

I think though that GW began encouraging poorly/unpainted armies with Ard boyz prior to NOVA even existing.

Combine that with things like the Invite being highly publicized on the internet (lists going to the public etc.) and you have more guys trying to net list. Then throw in that some of the top armies are uber powerful right now and that those armies might stomp a guys lovingly painted Blood Angels and you have guys jumping ship to new books, which means more 3 color minimum armies than before.

Neil said...

Few things I wanted to add here and there.

There's obviously lots of bias going on in the comments section, lol. :) That's okay just as long as we'll admit where there's bias and what it isn't.

Few things on NoVA (and I have a NoVA bias so fair game!)

Having Ren Man be tournament champion causes the general most compettiive players to bring high quality armies too. Since I have played in the Invitational 2 years in a row, and since the Invitational has a $1000 prize for Ren Man, I can assure you that most armies in the Invitational are painted to an extremely high standard. :P Except for me! I'm like the guy who can't paint no matter how hard I try it seems, so have long since given up. I never attend a GT with an unpainted model and never will, but also, I will never have a gorgeous army unless I pay for it.

This does however introduce the interesting idea that some of us love the game and just can't paint for crap. Just like some of us can't play for crap. So, let's insert a 3rd category of "player" here, because it isn't just all "beat face" versus "i paint gud". There's a wide spectrum here!

This is also true of the Open. Most of your top tables also have extremely well painted armies. That's because all the top players know who they are and also know they need a great looking army to compete for Ren Man.

The unpainted and mediocre armies will be in the middle and low tables at NoVA, almost without fail.

Also as an aside, most NoVA vitriol comes from people who hate Stelek and because Stelek used to endorse NoVA, not because he was asked to, people seem to think that NOVA is something that it actually isn't.

OR, it comes from 40K Radio at large because Romeo did some things he really shouldn't have at NoVA in 2011 and then got on his podcast and started trying to trash talk NoVA as a result of his very bad behavior.

And then people on the internet gladly spew bull about the NoVA as a result of that, even if they don't or never have attended.

Bottom line is, does NoVA reward you for being a competitive player. Sure does! It's one of the most competitive events in the world.

But, does NoVA somehow then discourage people from hobbying? Very silly given the track record, prize categories, etc. for the NoVA. We know this isn't true.

But what is does do is bring up a very, very good point that I think the underlying point about Mechanicon being brought up here, and something we all need to address.

That is the point of inclusion.

Neil said...

Policies of not having high appearance requirements are done so to help include more people into the event or hobby. Policies which require high appearance scores are exclusive.

We all know throughout history that exclusive policies are never the popular ones, and the logic there is simple. The more inclusive you are, the more popular you are.

BUT, as said here several times, if Mechanicon wants to be a prestigous event focused on theme, style, and the hobby, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being an EXCLUSIVE event.

In fact, many of the best things in life are exclusive. You have a goal, you only want certain people there, make it so!

I think it would be totally awesome is Mechanicon stood up and said those things. "Hey, we are going to be an EXCLUSIVE event. You gotta have the following requirements. We don't let people in who don't meet that."

That's actually pretty darn cool when you think about it. Exclusivity has value all on its on. I want to go to exclusive schools, join exclusive clubs, work at an exclusive job, etc.

Ultimately, though, it's all good to do either/or. And really, there's no need to get worked up about it. If you want exclusive, go for it! And no tournament should ever apologize for that! If you want inclusive, go for it! No apologies there either.

Fact is, we just all need to accept that we like some things better than others. It's not about better or worse. It's not about some guy ruining your game because he wanted to bring a different army. It's about just admitting we have preferences and events like Mechanicon, if they want to provide the exclusive, awesome experience, just need to say so.

Just like Da Boyz, haterz gonna hate! But in the end, the people who want that exclusive experience will show up and in spades. There's plenty of room for everybody.

Jawaballs said...

Neil, you need The Jawaballs Way! I guarantee you will become a better painter. :)

Email me and I will send you the entire set as download so long as you take some before and after pictures showing your improvement! Paint a model to your best standard, then use my videos to paint another.

Thanks for the great input. I think you nailed it. With so may great events just on the East Coast, I think you are going to see more tournaments standing up as exclusive. DaBoyz is a great example. They flirted with the no comp last year and I think a lot of the entries got away from what DaBoyz is all about. This year the comp is back and I say good for them.

I think Mechanicon needs to go that way. While it is true that they have billed themselves as the hobbyist event, it is also true that there has been nothing to enforce that.

Like it or not though, The Nova has become the place where guys go to beat face, in whatever form that takes.

I had a bunch typed up just now comparing Mech to Nova but I don't think there is any need. They have evolved as very different events and can no longer stand up in comparison. Hopefully in the future Mech will take that chance and drop the gauntlet, challenging us to stand up and meet the strict requirements. When that happens, Neil I want you there!

Jawaballs said...

For the record, again, I LOVE NOVA. Mike and Laurie are two of my favorite people in the 40k scene (along with Stelek since you mentioned him) and I admire them for turning the Nova into a completely non profit organization with all proceeds above clerical and administrative costs going to charity. They are a force that does a lot of good and I am proud of them for being such a success.

Jawaballs said...

wow my blog is dusty, It hasn't seen this many comments in a long time! :)

Neil said...

Yeah, NoVA aside because I will pretty much vehemently defend any TO or event anywhere, even if they let people play with Forgeworld :) j/k Reece :P

What I'm really saying is this:

On the east coast, if you want to go play competitively, you got a TON of options. All throughout the year.

You know what doesn't exist? An exclusive event focused on the hobbying aspect.

Imagine this for a second. We know that Mechanicon teamed up with Warstore. Warstore is obviously going to want to be as inclusive as they possibly can.

You know how the NoVA has an invitational for tournament winners?

What if Mechanicon/warstore had an "Open" event, but also an Invitational except instead of inviting tournament winners, you invite people who play AND who have won prestigiuous appearance awards throughout the year at major events?

That would be freakin' awesome! Can you imagine the battle reports you would get out of that?

Haters gonna hate, no matter what. But there's plenty of room to expand this hobby of ours into some many areas that still haven't been done yet.

I'm saying it like this. i would, obviously, never be apart of such an exlcusive event because I can't compete on that merit. But, that's fine. You know what I would REALLY like to see, though, and and an also as of yet completely unexplored part of our hobby in an event setting? An honest to god, and COOL, narrative event. And I don't mean something lame like we mask a competitive event with a story line or chuck in some list comp and call that a narrative. I mean, an honest to god, unique, exclusive, gaming "experience". You can't find that anywhere either nearby just like you won't find a tournament which values hobby ABOVE generalship. That's what I'm talking about.

Make it happen. Or Mechanicon should make that happen and be proud of it. It would be awesome. Just imaging the look of it on facebook would be fantastic.

I think they would sell out in spades because I truly believe there is a hunger for that kind of event.

Neil said...

Also, I might very well try the painting videos. I'll call it the Jawaballs Challenge, lol. :)

I'll tell you what. I got a painting project coming up where I basically have to re-prepare a horrendously painted Eldar army as practice for my Adeptiteam. So, naturally, gotta do some Wave Serpents, probably some modeled up Jetseers, etc. Send me whatever is relevant, and I will paint a bike or 2 and a wave serpent as I know how now, and I'll watch it and really try and take a picture of me painting another afterwards. I'll send you the results.

I have been trying to paint better since I started this hobby, and I'm terrible at it. lol.

Tironum said...

Wow, lots to cover here!

Let's start with this year's problems...

We (Mech and Warstore management) met with the hotel the week before to go over floorplans, logistics and food. Due to there being no options within walking distance we wanted to make sure everyone would have reasonable food available. This turned out to be a DISASTER! The restaurant closed on Saturday for 6 hours (11am to 5pm) and Sunday from 11am on. The Sports Bar was understaffed and ran out of burgers! After all the discussions we had with the Hilton staff, we were sure that this would not happen but it did anyway. The only good thing was the $3 drafts for the 3 hour Happy Hour each day.

Tironum said...

As a club we decided that it would be best to stick to what we do best - the best tables and terrain! How many of the "top" events have a firm playing surface or terrain that is playable for 6th edition? Why do you think flyers and giant walkers have dominated 6th? Because there is now a need for more terrain at LEAST 6 inches high. We cycled out over 100 pieces of terrain to upgrade to 6th edition's gameplay and still need to add more. Playing on a roll of felt or a tablecloth with sub-par scenery for a major event with no place to set your army is a big red flag for me when deciding whether to attend.

We even had a few folks shouting at us (yes, literally shouting) at the convention because we will not allow NOVA's rule changes but in the next breath praising our layout around the tables, sideboards, tables and terrain. Each event brings something that certain players enjoy as does DaBoyz with composition or Adepticon being the biggest or Astronomi-con being a fluffy-soft score event. NOVA is the new kid on the block here and is definitely popular to the guys who show up to win their games but that is not the only way to play and not the only type of gamer who goes there.

There are other events that have different rules and many have been around longer than NOVA. It is just the current flash in the pan and with so many players and sponsors either jumping on the bandwagon or being turned off because it is not their cup of tea is the same as any other event. I bet almost all the new folks who came to MechaniCon this year who prefer NOVA style will not be back and that is a good thing. They get the chance to play where they like with the system they like (why they showed up without reading the rules packet then yelling about it still does not make sense).

Tironum said...

Neil, you are off a bit on the merger with The Warstore. Those guys have attended many events as vendors and sponsor even more. They invited us to join with them due to our fantastic tables/terrain and the hobby style factor. Neil (of the Warstore) has probably attended more conventions than any of us and wanted to start his own that allows lots of great games and players to come together under one roof. Every event at the Warstore Weekend is run without interference of the main convention organizer by the clubs who created them. MechaniCon is still the same hobby style event (what Grand Tournaments were originally), the Colonial GT also has no influence by the Warstore and the same goes for all other events at the convention. More events looking to grow should take note of this.

As far as enforcing our image, we ran book deployments with book mission with book additions and some players were FURIOUS that they needed more than two minimum troops to compete in objective based missions. Those who showed up with Win>Loss lists did not do well and many poorly painted armies suffered as well. These players did get a taste of our floorplans/sideboards/terrain though. If they want to return then they have a better idea of what they need to do to place higher in the standings.

This year we had many great clubs return and run Infinity, Malifaux, Warmachine, Brushfire, 40K, Battlefleet Gothic, Warhammer Fantasy and even more demos were being run!

Tironum said...

As far as exclusive events for hobby style, I am assuming you mean something like what we run or Astronomi-con, well - they are selling out. That's is as exclusive as I would ever want to be. We ask that conversions be reviewed before the event for legality but we would not ask a player to go home because his 3 color scheme is crappy. Sure some of the "3 Color Minimum" armies that have three bands of color would be kicked out but not someone who does not have the ability to paint as well as others would not be excluded. Our rules packs have been based on the original GT's from the beginning and knowing that you will not be able to show up with a Win/Loss list and win the event keeps many folks away who do not enjoy our system. Our Best Sportsman awards are weighted higher than the Best General and that really shows throughout the weekend.

Last year's hurricane shortened event had an impressive stat - over 20% of those who were at the first Grand Tournament in Baltimore in 1997 attended! That is an important reminder to us that there are players who want this type of system - it many not be a number in the hundreds but it is worth making into a great annual event that most of our players claim is their favorite.

As far as an "Invitational" that is not something we would run. Our staff specializes in running our Grand Tournament and convention management. Any other club is welcome to sign up to run events with next year's convention so put the word out if you know anyone willing to give up their weekend of gaming (plus countless prep hours over the months before).

Narrative events are great and are exactly what the Warstore Weekend is looking for. Whether you want to run Horus Heresy (there was some HH gaming at night this year) or Kill Team or any other flavor of campaign gaming for any system - it is all about dedicating the events to the players. We know our limits and after organizing everything, moving tables and terrain, running 3 side events and the Grand Tournament, we are usually too pooped to get everyone to the table for Saturday night Talisman. If an event is going to be run, it must be staffed properly not just put out there to sell tickets. We need more great clubs to get on board for this to happen.

Many players said they are jumping ship to a new tournament next year. I am not just talking about MechaniCon players - Flames of War, Warmachine and Warhammer Fantasy players all said they will sign up for this next year... X-Wing at the Warstore Weekend! It looks like the event will be staffed by some of my old GT buddies and I can't wait to see this get added! I will not mind that my old 40k friends are jumping ship (pun most definitely intended!) to another game they enjoy. It is not a popularity contest - it is about enjoying our hobby.

Thanks for all the comments. We will be working to make next year's event even bigger than this year and that will not be easy. We will need the help of lots of clubs who are willing to give a great effort in running an event they love.

Jawaballs said...

I kinda love the idea of an exclusive "Best Painted" invitational. In order to get into the event you have to win Best Painted or Best Sportsman at a major GT. It could be a 3 man mini tournament on Friday night and just be a goofball jokefilled slug fest. Hell I would volunteer to take the reigns on this if I didn't want to play in it! But I would really need to step up my painting game in order to get in. It would certainly be a sight to see!

Argentius said...

Respectfully Jawaballs, I've followed your site for a long long time. I rarely comment because most of what you say is spot on and flawless, but I find it very hypocritical for you to denounce WAAC players, and yet you fielded 2 riptides, and 6 broadsides. The only thing that is missing is a farseer jetbike, 3 jetbikes, and a wraithknight and the picture would be complete. The only thing tougher than your list is a tau-dar army. I would argue that a pure list is stronger, see the FOB GT results for why. But, in all seriousness you can't tell me you aren't a flavor of the month player yourself...I mean you didn't even complete your Eldar project (you're selling it off), and you took Tau to a GT. Oh wait, let me guess, they were in your closet...except the riptides, and the 6 broadsides...LOL. Good laughs man.

Jawaballs said...

Argentius, I just typed up a long winded response but blogger would not let me post it cause it was too long. Rather than edit it down I am giving you the bullet points.

One thing I have learned is that if you write editorials long enough, eventually every one who reads is going to disagree with you. I honestly don't want readers agreeing with me 100% of the time, or even liking my opinions 100% for that matter. I appreciate your opinion.

As for your post, I have the luxury of six years of history posting both here and on youtube. I'm sure if you look you will see plenty of Tau in my closet and creative history supporting that I am a hobbiest first, competitive player second... But I see your point.

The bottom line here is that I admit to being a hypocrite of sorts in this very article, and also state that I hate my army and won't play it in a GT again. This makes me sad because I spent over 200 hours creating it over six months and yes it was one of the best painted armies at Mechanicon. I put my heart and soul into it. So maybe you can can call me a flavor of the monther, but I think it is more accurate to call me a flavor of the bi-year-er, so long as you also acknowledge that I also compete for Best Painted at every GT I play in. I don't really think that FoTM and Competitive Painter go hand in hand but I relent.

Yes I indeed have a large amount of Eldar for sale. And a beautifully painted Tau army... with two riptides, 6 broadsides and a 200 point unit of Stealth Suits.

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