Wolves at the gate

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Going off the topic of Blood Angels for a post or two, what is wrong with this list?
This is not a rhetorical question... what do you all feel are the strengths and weaknesses of this Space Wolves' list? It certainly wouldn't have a good comp score, but it seems to me that it plays to the Wolves' strengths: special weapons in "Tactical squads", Counterattack, heavy weapons splitting fire, and scary psyker powers.
Rune Priest in Terminator armor and a Wolftooth necklace with Jaws of the World Wolf and Living Lightning.

Troops -
5 x 10 Grey Hunters with a melta, a plasma gun, a power fist, and a Mark of the Wulfen in a Rhino with extra armor.

Heavy Support -
3 x 6 Long Fangs with 5 missile launchers and a power fist
Any thoughts?

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The Sons of Sanguinius go forth once more!

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Greetings, Battle Brothers.

Recently I played two battles with my Blood Angels, both at 1500 points. They were quite different games and as always were learning experiences.

I used the same list for both games except for an exchange of Razorback loadout between them.
1500 points -
HQ -
Librarian w/ Wings of Sanguinius and The Blood Lance
Elite -
Librarian Dreadnought w/ Wings of Sanguinius and The Blood Lance
Troops -
4 x 5 Assault squads (each with a melta and a power fist-armed Sgt) in a Razorback (see below, but usually 4 TL lascannons)
Fast Attack -
2 x Baals with TL Assault Cannons, Heavy Bolter sponsons, and Storm Bolters
Heavy Support -
Vindicator with a Storm Shield
Game 1 - vs Tyranids.
This game was played on a jungle board with no hard cover but lots of places for bugs to lurk in. It was going to be a Capture and Control mission in a Pitched Battle.
The Blood Angels swapped out 2 lascannons for TL assault cannons on their Razorbacks before the battle.
The opposition list:
a Tyrant and 2 Guard
2 Zoenthropes and a Venomthrope
3 Warriors and a Prime
3 Shrikes
the Doom of Malantai
2 Pyrovores
3 Gaunt squads - one of 10, one of 15, and one of 20
2 Lictors

The Tyranids went first, and the Blood Angels reserved everything, which gave the bugs several turns to advance.
The Blood Angels came on from the edges of the battlefield, intending to sweep around the sides of the Tyranid swarm to kill the Gaunt swarm defending the far objective. Unfortunately, my opponent was a younger player who really was a bit too excited about trying to win, so we did not finish the game. We only got a few turns in, so I unfortunately did not learn much except that it is very difficult to kill Tyranids fast enough.
Game 2 - vs Imperial Guard

This battle was also a Pitched Battle, but was a Dawn of War deployment.
The Guard army:
an HQ squad (with a lascannon) in a Chimera
2 squads in Chimeras
a Veteran squad with 2 meltas in a Vendetta
a standard Russ
a squad of Rough RIders
a Stormtrooper squad w/ 2 plasma guns
a Banewolf
a Medusa

The HQ Chimera deployed behind a building, as did the Russ. The Medusa dug into a large ruin, while the other Chimeras rolled out in the middle of the board. The rest of the army was in reserve.
The Blood Angels all were in reserve, though they had won the initiative.

Turn 2 saw almost the entire Marine force coming in, only a Baal and one Razorback still in reserve. One Baal came in and got a rear armor shot on the Leman Russ, destorying it in one volley. The 3 Lascannon-armed Razorbacks came on trying to shoot at Chimeras and the Medusa, but only one weapon found its mark, destroying an enemy transport. The Vindicator (which had driven into ruins) missed wide and the Librarian Dreadnought hunkered down outside the ruins near the Vindicator.
The Guard turned its guns on the advancing Angels - one Razorback being destroyed by the Medusa, and one by an outflanking Veteran squad.

On Turn 3, the Librarian Dreadnought invoked the Wings of Sanguinius, flying forth to engage the transport-less squad of Guardsmen, killing 3 in the assault. The foot-slogging Librarian's assault squad charged the Veteran squad that had destroyed their Razorback, killing them all. The remaining Baal came in on the Marine's left, shooting at a Chimera, but missing.
The Guard's Vendetta came in, shaking the Vindicator's crew and destorying its weapon while the Banewolf came in the middle of the board.

Turn 4 - A Baal killed the Vendetta in one volley, the other Baal went all-out to ram the HQ Chimera, destroying it and the Vindicator rammed the last Chimera to the same effect. The Librarian Dreadnought killed the last of the Guardsmen hidden in ruins near an objective. The other Librarian headed at all speed towards an objective while two now-transportless squads hoofed it towards the Medusa.
The Guard lscannon team tried again (and failed) to kill the Baal that had rammed their Chimera, the rest of their squad ran for a nearby objective. The Roughriders appeared behind the Medusa's ruins, ready to charge the first available target. The Baneworlf rolled forward and released a gout of toxic goo, completely obliterating a squad of Blood Angels. The Medusa missed the last Razorback on the field. The Vindicator took fire from a squad and was destroyed.

But not the last Razorback available to the Blood Angels, as one roared out of reserve on the next turn to tank shock the squad that had been in the Vendetta (which had moved onto one of the objectives). A heroic Guardsman fired off a shot with his melta and destroyed it, but the Marines inside were now in cover right on top of a objective. A Razorback knocked the Banewolf's cannon off the vehicle. The surviving Baal rolled through the wreckage of the ruined command Chimera to open fire on the command squad, killing a few. Both Librarians used The Blood Lance to do the same, finally killing the last of them. A squad of Marines finally moved into the ruins with the Medusa, destroying it with a powerfist.
Not much appened in the Guard turn except for a squad rallying to threaten an objective.

The game continued to a Turn 6, in which an assault squad shot at and assaulted the remaining Guard squad, killing them all. The last Razorback destroyed the hull of the Banewolf, eliminating that threat.
The Imperial Roughriders charged the Marines in the wreckage of the Medusa, killing all but the brother with a power fist.

The game then ended, with the Blood Angels having captured one objective and contesting 4 others, with the Imperial Guard controlling none and contesting the same 4.

What did I learn from this game?
- Baal Predators Ramming 15" or more is quite effective against AV 12 Chimeras even when its guns do not.
- I should have been much more aggressive against the Medusa, moving 18" to get an assault squad in Assault with it rather than trying to shoot it with TL lascannons.
- The Medusa made 3 cover saves and was able to take two dangerous shots at my Marines.
- The Banewolf cannon is surely a Marine killer.
- Banewolves should be near the top of every target priority list.
- Vindicators are fire magnets, so a Siege Shield is important to have so the vehicle can hide in cover.
- My mantra still holds true: assault shooty troops, shoot assault troops. I was much better off killing the shooty guardsmen and vehicles with my assault squads than trying to gun them all down with my Lascannons.

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New Jawaballs Blood Angels!

I finally found my battery charger and am back in blog business.  Sorry for the long delay since my last post!  I will start today by showing you all some images of my newest Blood Angels infantry. Behold, the Jawaballs MKIII.  Sorry for the quality of the pics.  I am using a little canon pocket cam to shoot close up high def macro pics with no tripod.  :)

What is the difference between this and my old guys?  Well lots!  To begin with, I am now using Army Painter Dragon Red as my base.  My MKII BA used a modified version of the method presented in White Dwarf when Space Hulk came out.  Army Painter made this method much easier with their new fantastic spray.  

So again, what is the difference?  Well I begin with a black undercoat, then a light application of Dragon Red, almost just a dusting.  Army Painter spray has the unfortunate habit of filling in details, so the least amount as possible should be used.  

Here is an example of a model that has only been primed with Dragon Red:

I went back and painted the details black, but notice the black showing at the cuffs of the armor on the legs, on the codpiece, under the chest piece... all of that black showing throw the red creates a nice shading effect. This marine will be holding a meltagun when I am finished.

So on to the next step.  I begin layering Blood Red onto the edges, and working it towards the insides of the armor plates.  If you use it little by little, you can get a nice blend from Blood Red to dark Dragon Red. A nice example of where this happens is at the bottom of the lower leg. I fade the BR from the bottom up to just below the knee pad where I leave DR showing.  In the next picture I have a model almost completely finished with this step.  You can see the effective blending and highlighting using just Blood Red and Dragon Red. This model is already good enough to be on the table and an army painted to this standard, with finished details of course, could easily compete for best painted.

Then I use Red Gore to reinforce the dark. Now doing the reverse of the first step, I work from the other end of the armor plates and blend red gore into the blood red.  Again, the lower part of the leg of the model in the pic is a great place to see what I mean. 

From here I paint the spaces between the armor plates with black and/or a dark mixture I have of dark flesh and blood red and black.  (from White Dwarf)

Then I start working the highlights with Blazing Orange. But I do not want to "orange" my Blood Angels out too much, so as I finish the highlights, I use a mixture of Blazing Orange and Vomit Brown. (also from White Dwarf.)  The brown is sufficient enough to mute the glaring orange without taking away the brightness of hue. In this marine you can see the stages all coming together. I have not used any washes yet.   

So on to the near finished marine!  Here is an example of one almost complete, with all of the above steps almost finished. I did the helmet using the same technique, but I used Iyanden Darksun painted on as my base over black. Then I used Valejo Deep Yellow on the edges, followed by GW golden yellow, and finally Valejo Lemon Yellow with a white highlight.  I did the eyes using Catachan Green, Snot Green and Goblin Green.  

I did the studs by leaving them Dragon Red, then just layering on blood red, blazing orange and the mixture of BO and VB.  I need to finish the details and weapons and rebase him, but he is just about complete!  End result will be a squad of marines that matches my new tank painting recipe which looks much more dark and most importantly crisp on the table. My previous style was very messy and artsy. With this method I am taking a much more graphical approach, from the point of view of a designer. 

I will be posting up more pics as I finish the squad. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to ask questions. I will try to answer them in video form.  

More to come.



Jawaballs is selling his army?

Hey folks!  You read right. I'm selling my army. Well, not all of it.  The fact is that I want to buy a house and need a downpayment.  SO, it is time to start selling off some of my cherished toys!  I am offering this up here first since many of you have shown interest in buying some of my models if I ever decided to sell them. Well, now is your chance!

Here is the first one up for grabs:

Death Company Furioso Dread with matching drop pod.

This matched set of models was part of my "Death from Above... Stomp Stomp" army list made using the old Blood Angels PDF.  The army actually had 3 of these beasties!  These models were used in the Conflict GT, among others, and was part of the army that scored me 2nd place and a ticket to Vegas.  It also was part of an army that won many painting accolades including a Best Painted. 

The drop pod is painted with my unique checker pattern, love it or hate it!  Also each ramp was painstakingly painted with shaded hazard lines.  The 1 on the doors matches the 1 on the Dread. All of the doors open and close. The inside was drybrushed to a good level, but the details were not incredibly worked over. Im not insane! :)

The Dread is a Blood Angels Death Company Dread. I used the Forgeworld Grey Knight Dreadnought as the model. I sliced off the GK iconography and replaced it with Blood Angels stuff.  The left arm is the Forgeworld GK Close combat weapon, and has a Heavy Flamer attached. It does not come off.  The right arm is the Forgeworld Dreadnought close combat weapon with a meltagun attached. The meltagun is a standard issue marine melta, converted fairly well to fit the arm with a cable attaching it to the arm.  The banner is an accurate Furioso Dread banner, hand painted and magnetized for ease of removing.  The dreadnought is also magnetized. Both arms are removable, and the torso is magnetized to the legs, allowing it to swivel, and pop off for storage.  

Not much more to say!  This bad boy appears in a lot of my videos and pictures.  Now he can be yours!  

I have not set a price yet.  I am throwing this out there to see what the market might be.  So I am accepting offers!  Just to give you an idea of the minimum that I am looking for: We all know the cost of forgeworld models alone. So please take that into consideration when you make offers.  These models have been professionally assembled, converted and painted and are part of my private collection.  The hand painted hazard lines on the pod alone took about 5 hours.  If I had to estimate the time spent on these models, including the checkering, converting, and etc... I would say no less than 30 hours went into them.  

Please understand that this is not a fire sale and I am not throwing models away. I am parting with something that I love in order to take the next step in my life! Let your offers reflect that.  

How this will work:
Email me, jawaballs at hotmail. Once I start getting offers, I will keep an anonymous tally of them here.  I will accept offers for a week. If I have gotten an offer that I am satisfied with in that time, I will accept it.  If not I will open up the sale on Bartertown and Rogue Market.  

If you are interested in purchasing models from my army past, feel free to let me know!  

Models available are:
Black death company rhino with dozer
3 red rhinos with hand painting on top
a Baal Predator with Forgeworld extra armor
and yes, the Notorious Feather Tank. Baal predator.
two more DC dreds with pods.
one blood angesl furioso dread.
Blood Angels Honor guard. (the one that made golden daemon finalist in 2009)

I will be posting them all up over the next month. But if you have had your eye one something, let me know!  

More to come.


Gamesday 2010!

Jawaballs discusses the winning banner with a blog readers dad!

The sweet GW girl give JB the loot!

Part of my massive backlog brings me to Gamesday 2010.  All I can really say is that I had a great time!  Fritz and I ran our club table again. He orchestrated a meat grinder game where all comers could play a 1k point army and just bash each other to bits. I took all chalengers on the open gaming table.

I played three games in a row, crushing all three brave souls for daring to put their models on the table across from me.  :)

Game one:
I played against a follower of my blog who modeled his army after my older 1850 list with Baal preds, a Vindicator, and tactical marines.  The guy did a pretty nice job painting his tanks with my checker pattern, and even used the same dreadnought chaplain model that I used for mine!  The best part? He had J and B shaved into his head! Now that is fan loyalty. :)

The game itself was over in a couple of turns.  My new list simply out classes my old list and I had too much fire power for him to deal with.  I immobilized his dread, and his vindicator in their deployment locations, and then proceeded to have his troops for breakfast with my terminators.  I will be putting this stuff up on video so I am glossing over it all here, plus it has been almost two weeks since the games so I am foggy on the details.

The end came down to me chasing around a couple of Baal preds until I destroyed them around turn 3.

Game Two:
I played another Blood Angels player and follower of my blog.  His list was a little more like my new one, and he watched the first game, so he knew what was coming his way. I think that worked against him. He tried to hunker down deep in his deployment zone with his armor... even getting cover saves, 9 las cannons can hurt pretty bad.  To his credit, the game lasted much longer than the first!  But the result was the same. A complete tabling.  None shall defy the might of Jawaballs and live!  At the end I offered his last survivors a chance to keep their heads by swearing fealty to me... but they chose the honorable death and charged my terminators, succoming to the Black Rage, and infiinity.

Both of these games were guys who don't typically play tournament level games, and they went up against my list from Nova which was primed to kill.  I admire both of them for their good spirits and fun.

Game Three:
One of the guys at the next club table, who had been watching my games all day decided to take a swipe at the title.  He had a ravenguard army with lots of jump pack marines, a raider full of termies, and some armor.  It was obvious that he knew what he was doing and I went into this game with my tournament competition mind set.  I knew I had him in the fire power game, but he had a lot of death in the raider and they would easily take me down if they got the charge on my termies.  So the dance began. Who would get the charge.  He moved his raider around my left side using a pyramid to block LoS.  I used mine to make a feint, dropping it just close enough to entice his boys outs of his, but quickly estimating the distance he could move, disembark and charge, was confident that he would fall short.

He bit the bait, and went for the charge... but I was right on! Short.  Next turn, my raider belched it's red death onto the table, and 25 invulnerable saves later, his raider squad was dead.  The rest of the game was just mopup as I converged on his objective. He made a valiant effort of trying to hold me off and get a draw, but in the end I just had too much coming at him.  3 Razors moving 18" from across the table to tank shock and contest objectives is tough to take!

Great job man! Sorry I have forgotten all the names. :(

Please don't take these short reports as any thing less than me having fun with a blog post. I am not being arrogant or bragging.  These were just fun games.

So what else?  I did not get to see much more. I did get my hands on a couple of Forge World Heresy sets of armor. The Maximus and Heresy styles.  I am in the process of painting them now and will be posting up pics soon.

Also, I entered my Chapter banner into the banner contest, and in a narrow victory, walked away with 1st place!  I think that the difference was the huge group of guys who had been at our club table. They all came over and screamed themselves horse for my banner.  The runner up was an awesome hand painted chaos khorne banner, held by a guy in one of the coolest costumes I have ever seen. He looked like a demon with yellow eyes. Look for video of that soon too.

Sadly, that was it for me.  I didnt get to see any thing else.  I met Jacob, the winner of the Storm Wardens army and I will be posting up video about that soon too.  We had a lot of fun and it was cool meeting so many blog readers!

The next day I was supposed to be at the Glen Burnie bunker in the morning to take on challengers... BUT Brother Captain James had other plans.  As usual.  BCJ found a practice sword in our friend Mike Cho's trunk.  In an ill advised unsheathing of the sword, James nearly managed to sever all of the tendons in the palm of his hand.  Smack!  Three and a half hours later, we were making fun of him on the way out of the ER.  So much for making it to the bunker on time! By the time we arrived, any one who was there had either left or was about to leave.  No game for me!  Sorry guys.

In the future, as fun as the club table was, I don't think we will run one.  It was great taking challengers and showing off my army, but I don't think it was worth missing all of Gamesday to do it.  Next time I think we will simply stake out an open gaming table, set up banners, and get in a game or two, but still be able to see the rest of the show.

More to come!


Jawaballs review: Nova Open 2010

The Nova Open Drunk Guy.

Danny Internets and Ultrabob

My Blood Angels on Display

Ok ok, I know, it's old news. Sorry!  School just started as as you all know, we get most of our good internet posting done from work. It is amazing that I was off all summer, and could not wait until work started so I could get something done!

I also wanted to wait for some of the hubbub over the Nova to die down a bit before I threw in my two cents. I really have not read much of the feedback or reviews on it.  (again no time to lurk when I'm not at work) But I know in general the feedback has been extremely positive.  I wanted to take a step back and give the Nova a fair evaluation vs a gushing rave. I think this would do Mike Brandt the most good, as well as go inline with what I try to do always on my blog. Call it as I see it.

So first caveat. I don't know any specifics of what has already been said. If I am repeating another author, I'm sorry.  Also, my overall experience at the Nova was positive and I will happily return next year.  It was obvious that Mike worked his tail off, along with all of the rest of the staff who volunteered their time by the way.  I just wanted to get that out there, I don't think that any of the dozen or dozens of guys you saw helping out got a penny of loot or cash, and in fact, I think a lot of them actually gave of their own money to make it happen.  Great stuff guys!  Your contributions were appreciated. Finally, I'm sure that for every thing we saw, ten thousand decisions, efforts and annoyances happened to make it a reality. It is easy for some one to point out things that you did not do right while glossing over those that you did.  I understand that you simply could not plan for, and if you did, could not make happen EVERY little detail to pamper our little bottoms. So please take what I say with a grain of salt.

So on with the review.

First of all, location.  I think that the event was held in a great location.  Personally for me it sorta sucked as what should have been a 4.5 hour drive home turned into a 8.5 hour drive home due to rainy driving through New Jersey. But the location itself made it possible for some of your further southerners to make it up there, being about equidistant to the North East, and actually, all the way out to Tennessee or so.  Convenience of physical location is only a small part of the greatness.  The event location itself was top notch. The hotel was big, new, and nice. The weather sucked so I did not get a chance to go for a swim and test out the pool, but the hotel was above average in my book. The restaurant was neat and clean, and the rooms were spacious, and most importantly to me, well Air Conditioned.  It is amazing how difficult it is to get a good AC unit in a room!  Also the staff was outstanding.  I left the biggest tip at a hotel I have ever left because they were so friendly and respectful. As you are walking through the hall, cleaning crew turn off their machines and scramble to get out of your way.  I don't know about you, but being a not so small dude myself, and carrying a huge army transport, it is refreshing to see a house keeper turn off his vacuum and let me pass rather than hurriedly going about their work so they can go hide in the back and smoke a cigarette. They smile and wish you a happy day, and are genuinely interested in your response. Not in the fake "I will smile to your face then turn around and glare at you when you pass." way.  I felt truly comfortable at the venue. I have been to quite a few of these things, and I point this out because it was a pointed improvement from most other establishments.

In addition to the hotel, comes the surrounding area.  The hotel is part of a huge convention complex. Next to the Hotel, divided by some vast parking lots, are a few convention space buildings with modular walls. So the facility can tailor the space available to the space you need. Pretty sweet!  But also, it is right there. While having the space be actually in the hotel is better, this is the next best thing.  Not only is the convention space right next to the hotel, but so is the food!  If the hotel restaurant was not good enough for you, right next door was a Taco Bell, McDonalds, Chick Fil A, and I think some others. I never made it out past Taco Bell and Mcdonalds.  Also, conveniently placed was a Gas Station, which was nice because I coasted into the hotel parking lot on fumes.  It had a little mini mart. In other words, you could arrive at the hotel, park your car, and then not have to get in it again until you are ready to leave. Convention space, gas, snacks, food, every thing was within a stones throw. (Through I did actually drive around the hotel to the convention space. I'm lazy.)  The great service extended itself out to the fast food joints.  I am used to CT/NY service.  In a nuttshell, rude, careless, sloppy and overpriced.  Your are more likely to get spit in your Sausage Egg and Cheese than you are to get a smile from the cashier.  No so in Chantilly!  Each time we went over to Mc D for breakfast, or Taco for Lunch, we were greeted with fresh smiling faces and it is odd, but the food tasted better too.  Maybe the biscuits sat around less, maybe the Gordita was just made with a little more care... who knows, but myself and every one I ate lunch with noted the difference. It was good!

Does any of that matter to you? Probably not, especially if you don't go to many big events. But I'm sure some of you can appreciate the value of good service.  If one thing can be said about traveling to these things, good service does indeed matter.

Now for the event itself.

I arrived at about 2:30pm on Friday.  It was pretty early by any standards. I wanted to settle in, and go take a swim in the pool. Rain foiled the swim so I settled for a quick nap.  At about 4:30 I snaked out of my crispy cold room and went on down to the room where open gaming was supposed to take place and found 5 or 6 other guys waiting around as well, including a group of guys who are from my neck of the woods and I play against all the time at local tournaments.  It was nice to see familiar faces. Though I have been getting to know many many faces at these things now, so that is not really an issue. I will talk more about that later.

Any way, we hung around the empty gaming space, wishing we could get in some open gaming. One guy was sitting in there painting an army, but there were no tables set up.  I know that the Nova team was busy and I'm sure there were other circumstances leading to why there were no tables set up for early comers to play on, so I am not criticizing about the lack of tables. However, I am suggesting that in the future, a space for tables be made available for those early comers to maybe get in a game.  This is a difficult thing to do when the convention space is not attached to the hotel, and this particular hotel probably demanded an arm, leg and your first born for the space they had.  Mike, please do not feel that you have to answer any of these points as I make them. You do not need to defend yourself. You did a great job. Do with this information what you will.

Suggestion #1: Set up a space for early arrivals to play games.

So we moved on to the bar in the hotel.  I sat with my Brothers Grim buddies and we had a couple cold brews.  It was nice to hang out in a comfortable bar setting. An even bigger treat was the parade of gamers who came into the bar looking to socialize, including Stelek. It was funny to place faces on the names, and real names with the cyber ones and to see that the actual visage was any thing but what you imagined them to look like.  A lot of my friends actually do call me Jawa at the local scene, but it was different to have guys introduce themselves as their real life selves.  Chum, Stelek, Dash, Huron, to name a few.  It was neat to shake your hands.

Drinks ensued and small rules debates broke out. Great gamer fun!

Dinner came and went and I rushed over to the gamer room for the Whiskey Challenge.  They had the room divided into two, with 4 or 5 tables reserved for the WC and an equal number set up for open gamers. Sadly though, very few people actually got to play games.  But there was a nice little cash bar available right next to the room.  I got to play Old Shatter Hands, and yes Tim, I will be doing a Batrep on our game, don't think you got off scott free.  The WC was a really cool media event.  Mike Brandt invited some of the bigger blogger names to play for little bottles of Whiskey. The winner of each game got a top shelf bottle, while the loser got some swill.  Thanks Mike!  During the games a couple of podcast groups were doing live shows.  The games were broadcast live on Ustream, with player interviews inbetween rounds.  I thought this was a great touch. I was able to be the guy infront of the camera for once!  I'm sorry, I don't have links for the podcast groups at the moment. Please email me the URLs guys and I will post them up.

So the Whiskey challenge was a fun event. The fans got a great dose of  "who's who" and an entertaining bunch of games as Stelek and Dashofpepper clashed and I tried my best not to table Tim from Tau of War in two turns. :)  Oh snap the smack talk still continues!

FOR THE RECORD I AM JUST PLAYING. I find it sad that to some readers/haters I have to spell out that I am not being an arrogant ass, I am poking fun at a friend.

The WC went on into the wee hours, and eventually I staggered upstairs to bed.  The only con I have to say is that I felt bad for some of the guys who really wanted to get in an open game, but could not.  I know there were space issues and cost issues.  Just pointing out an observation! Mike already pointed this out himself, and I'm sure he is already taking steps to fix this for next year.

Suggestion two: Make more late night Friday gaming available.

On with the event.  So my fellow Battle for Salvation club members and I made our way over to the con space.  The space we played in was well lit and organized.  But here is where I have my first real criticism. While some of the tables were nice, with good terrain, others were felt mats with low quality terrain.  My first game was on one such fabric table. A couple of the terrain pieces were organic bean shapes of felt laid out on the table with a plastic tree at either end. Terrain was sparse on a lot of tables to say the least.  Having won my first three games, I played on the tables that seemed to be a bit higher quality for most of the tournament, but taking a walk around the other tables in between games, I noted some questionable gaming environments.

My second terrain issue was the... what is the word... arbitrary? use of rules concerning the middle terrain piece.  On each table there was an objective marker located directly in the center of the table. But also located in the center was a large terrain piece that worked in most cases to block line of sight, as is a GW requirement I believe right?  Mike house ruled how to deal with this piece. But this presented issues for the terrain.  On a lot of tables the tower from the Bastion box set sat in the middle of the table. This tower has no obvious entry ports, and no way to get up from the bottom, and a distance to the top that does not jive with the standard 3" per level rule.  With no way to place models 3" high on the terrain piece, models would need a 6 to get to the top as per the rules. So to make this easy, the objective was placed on the top of the tower, and models treated the 9" tall structure as if it were not elevated at all.  For movement purposes, this tower was no taller than a crater. Did this have an effect on the game?  Well, part of the trade off for getting shots off from an elevated position and taking away cover saves is that it takes time to get up there, or down from there.  But with these towers you were able to go from ground level to 9" up in the air simply by moving onto the terrain piece. This gave a big advantage to smart players who used it.  On turn one a Devastator squad in a rhino could zoom 12" up to the edge of the tower, disembark onto the top of it, and be shooting their weapons the next turn.  On any other legal terrain piece that is equally as high, it could take them two or three turns to get up there. The difference being 5 rounds of shooting from a very elevated position vs what could possibly be none if the models have to work their way up by using difficult terrain tests to get up levels.  It is what works out to giving the squad a 9" disembark into a superb shooting position.  Know what I mean?  I know what you are thinking... who gives a Dev squad a rhino. Well, how bout a tactical squad with a lascannon?  A guardian squad with a starcannon?  Better yet, a Fire Dragon squad, who goes to the top of the tower 9" high, but measures their shooting distance as if they were on ground level.  They get to deny cover saves to tanks, AND still reach them with melta shots.

The point here is that the terrain pieces created sources of exploitation.  What would I have done? Not used them... or treated them like impassable terrain.  It was still possible to be within 3" of the center of the board and score the center objective sitting on top of the tower.  That was enough. I'm sure that Mike is already working to improve the terrain issues for next year. It was obvious that they did the best they could with what they had on hand so I won't even bother with the suggestion line. What I will do is point out the absolute best terrain I have ever seen at a tournament.  At Mechanicon each table was individually made from high quality materials, with wooden edges that were raised to stop dice from rolling off the edge, and hand made terrain pieces that looked awesome.  Yes, that cost Tony and the guys money. They took a big loss on the first tournament. But they will recoup that loss.  And they have fantastic tables. Tony meet Mike Brandt, Mike Brandt, meet Tony!  :)  Best of both worlds!

Tables aside, the tournament was run perfectly.  Mike patrolled the tables, and there was always a judge in reach. He personally came over and made judgements on some rules issues.  Actually not even issues, we were just too lazy to bust out the book and it was quicker to ask a judge a question. The answer was always instant and fair.  Great judging!

I'm sure you all know about the format of the tournament by now, but in summary, if you won your first game, you played against some one else who won. If you lost, you played vs some one who lost. After the first game, you were pretty much assured a place against an opponent playing an army that was near your same level.  This is great for the more casual gamers. Guys who went 0-2 got to fight it out for pride, rather than go up against yet some other power gamer who would smash them into oblivion. And said power gamers knew that the games would only get tougher as they worked their way to the top.  At the end of the day, I think 6 guys were left undefeated.  These 6, plus some of the guys who went 3-1 on the day were invited to play the next day for all the bragging rights.  Pretty unique!

The missions were also very new and in my opinion efficient.  A lot of tournaments like to throw in piles of silly rules that end up giving certain builds advantages over others, and they are usually unknown before the event.  Not this time! At this tournament there were 3 goals. Table Quarters, Victory Points, and objectives. You played for all three in every mission.  The difference was that for each game, the value of each goal changed.  In one game, victory points would decide the winner, and in another, objectives.  But you had to go for all of the objectives every game!  Tie breakers were decided by the secondary objectives, and more importantly, your overall performance was too.  At the end there were six 4-0 guys. The top guy was the guy who won his games, claimed the most objectives, most table quarters and most victory points throughout the day.  This was great because it eliminated accusations of shenanigans. The number one guy was calculated by a formula, and undeniable. Also you were able to prepare for the missions before hand, as most guys did. It was a truly competitive event in this regard and for this I say outstanding to Mike Brandt.

As a bonus for the guys who did not win games, you were given tickets for each loss. Your tickets were thrown into a pot and drawn for loot!  I think that most guys who were not playing on the top tables won loot.  Pretty cool.  The loot was flowing all day.  One thing Nova definitely got right.

The fluff competitions were also well run.  Renaissance Man was the award given to the guy who got the best combined score of Sportsman, General and Painting.  A very prestigious award to be sure! Absolute best overall.  This title also carried a ticket to Vegas and was my goal for the tournament.  Painting was judged by two different judges, and the scores were averaged.  They followed a rubric.  General points were obvious, and Sportsman points were decided by the players. But it was not a "pick your one favorite player" thing that can be manipulated by large clubs all picking the one guy they want to win as is seen in painting and sportsman awards at some big events.  At this one, you asked to rank each of your opponents with a 1 through 4. But you could not use the same number twice. So each player was giving out a single 1 and a single 4.  That meant your sportsman score would be any where from 4 to 16.  This was also done in secret at the end of the tournament. No more having to fill out your sportsman score in front of your opponent.  What did this do? It gave honest sportsman scores!  I tend to do well on sportsman.  I scored 14 out of 16.  Not bad.  But not good enough!  The winner for Renaissance Man was Danny Internets.  My friend Dan edged me out by .01 points.  You read right... a one hundreth.  The difference? I did much better in painting, he did much better on the tables, but in sportsman he scored 15 out of 16 while I only scored 14.  There you go!  I love that a completely mathematic approach was used to read data gathered by human beings.  This eliminated the "Share the wealth" fudging which appears at some other events and gave an accountable number to the contestants. Guys were not penalized because the TO hates Vulkan builds, or the judge is a Fantasy guy who does not fully understand 40k. (Yes I have seen guys penalized at other events for those very reasons.)  No whining at Nova to be sure!

Ok, my time is at an end so I will wrap this up.  Plus there is nothing I can say from this point that has not been reported on in duplicate. Aside from a couple of small, and most importantly correctable issues, the Nova Open was a flawless and perfect example of how an event should be.  For those of you who had reservations about the true 40k spirit of the Open due to the elimination of Kill Points, disregard your apprehension next time!  While true some guys thrive on kill point missions, at least the Nova made it very clear how you would be able to play, and gave you time to build your army to take advantage of the missions.  Granted that the Nova shifted army lists over to heavy mech by eliminated kill points.  But knowing that before hand you had the opportunity to tailor your army to beat mech and do well.  So it was a double edged sword!  Mike Brandt was a gracious and thankful host. He was visible, and welcoming to all.  The venue was top quality, and the services the friendliest I have ever encountered.  I will absolutely make the trek to Chantilly next year.  Mike, if you would like a more detailed critique with specific examples and things I did not write about, I would be happy to share with you personally. Feel free to email me!

More to come...