Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nova Open: A review on the event as a whole

I got tired of using the Nova logo at the top of my posts, so I decided to add this awesome guy instead.  He's even wearing a net :)
 (also, the pictures on here will not be relevant in the least bit - just stuff from my pictures folder that I thought were fun)

Hey folks, how goes it all?  Figured I'd start writing up a few reviews on the events I attended this year.  The first on that list is the Nova, simply because I forgot to give Mike feedback when he asked for it, and it's probably less and less relevant every day (if it's even relevant now at all, lol).  So let's get started.

First off, this isn't a battle report.  Here is the link to my Invitational batreps.  Here is the link to my Open batreps. 

Now that we've established that this isn't a batrep, let's actually start talking about the event itself.  I suppose I can do this in narrative form, so it reads a little bit like a story.  Who doesn't like stories? :)

Actually, this one is relevant
I got there on Thursday, ready for my Whiskey Challenge match with Chumbalaya.  The airport was close to the hotel, and though it took a little bit of effort to finally figure out which bus to get on, I made it there easy enough (despite the ridiculous rainfall - remember that the Hurricane was that weekend).

So, I got there, took a quick nap, and found out that my opponent for the Challenge was unable to come, and that not only would I not be able to play an internet 'celeb', but I would also have to pay for the already expensive room entirely by myself.  In fact, I'm still paying off that vacation - it's probably the most negative thing I'll say about the Nova, actually.  But that wasn't even Mike's fault :-p

I ended up playing a pickup game with a dude I'd never met before, who had 'Nids, though it was still 'officially' a Whiskey Challenge game.  I took pictures at first, but it was turning into a rout, so I stopped.  Mike had offered to get me a different celeb to play against, but I had already offered to play that guy, so no hard feelings there.

Who's he lookin' at?
On Friday began the grueling 5-game Invitational.  Go read my reports if you want to know how I did.  I actually really liked this event, and will gladly play in it against next year, assuming I'm able to obtain an invite.  5 games is a lot for one day, though I feel like tournament endurance is an attribute that shouldn't be overlooked.  Some people thought it was horrible, but it was well-run, and my only regret is my Game 5, which was entirely irrelevant.  In the future, I hope that the irrelevant players don't have to play each other, but instead get to do something else.  I'll touch on that more in a little bit.

There were judges at every single table of the Invitational, which was nice in theory.  However, a few of them just sort of tuned the game out, some didn't know the rules very well, some allowed players to argue with them incessantly.  Some refused to make rulings such as "is this 6", or am I out of assault range?"  Next time, I think it might be best to either a) have lots of judges available, but not at every table, or b) spell out exactly what a judge's role in the game should be.  I didn't mind their rulings as a whole, but the inconsistency was a little frustrating.

Saturday started dark and early, and was also a marathon, though the pace wasn't quite as frantic as the Invitational.  One thing I really liked was that you took your army to the paint judge booth, where the judges would inspect your army.  You could do this on your own time, and you didn't need to worry about setting up your models for display, only to have to set them up again later because the judges didn't get to you during lunchtime.

Glad that someone is helping them.
My second biggest gripe for the tournament has to do with the paint judging, however.  I ended up with a below average painting score with my Dark Eldar, which was a little frustrating.  Earlier in the year, I'd won Best Painted at the Bugeater GT, and whereas my army is normally not good enough to compete for Best Painted at any GT, it certainly isn't below average.  I mean, a .40 is pretty awful, when the average looked like .50, and the winner got close to a 1.  I'm not saying I should have won best painted or anything, but my paint score did take me entirely out of contention to win Ren. Man in either tournament, regardless of how I did playing.  I talked more about it on this post, so I'll leave well enough alone. 

The rest of the tournament wound on, and eventually we had our winner.  I sort of hated that I had to play my final game, and I don't think my opponent wanted to either.  However, Mike recently posted on here that we no longer need to worry about that, since we will only have to play our Game 7 and 8 if we were actually in contention to win a Generalship award.  Otherwise, Ren Man is determined by Game 6.  So, it sounds fine to me.

The pace of the tournaments was really quite grueling, but I think it would have been alright, had there been an easier way to get food.  When you're playing nonstop for 12+ hours every day, you need some fuel, and it's tough to contemplate standing in line for 45 minutes during your 'break' to get some overpriced food.  Getting a few cheap food vendors in the hotel itself would be an excellent fix to the problem, so that we don't have to leave the hotel to get food, or wait in line quite so long.

Hm, Mike already said that the Hotel promised that there would be good cell phone reception next time, which was something I was going to talk about.  But it's already addressed, and thus not worth talking about.

I liked the venue, actually.  Lots of people didn't really, but I thought it was just fine.  I could wish that the beer was cheaper, but I could always wish that :)  One complaint was during the Invitational, I was super hot - there wasn't very good AC at the time.  I was sweating pretty bad - I think I even dripped on the table once.  I don't normally sweat badly at all, which made the problem all the more noticeable.  Nasty :(

Wish I knew who this was...
Better access to affordable food once it's late is something I'd like as well, though I'm not sure how Mike could address that.  I ended up walking to McDonalds a few times, since I didn't know anywhere else that would be open.  Things close in that part of town super early, and when the tournament goes late, it's tough to find good food that doesn't involve the hotel restaurant raping your wallet.  If there were better places, I would have appreciated something small, like a brochure pointing out different places that were still open.

I really liked the LOS-blocking terrain for the most part.  Everyone has their own opinion on it, but the consistent tables made it far less stressful matchup-wise.  I should point out that the one time it would have really mattered to have good LOS-blocking terrain was the one time my table didn't have it, and my entire Dark Eldar army was visible to a 5 Psyfleman + 6 Psybolt Razorback list (and I didn't get first turn).  So... good to have the terrain, and even better when it's consistently there :)

There were a few hitches in pairings that I'm aware of, but it wasn't really terrible.  I actually appreciated a little extra rest while they sorted it out.  Maybe would have been nice to have actual brackets on the wall, so we would know who was next in line to play against (at least, on Day 2 of the Open).

A little extra time between rounds would have been nice.  My army is huge, and takes a while to put back onto its board.  I never felt like I actually had time to rest, since I was always either putting my army back, standing in line for food, or playing.  It seems like Mike has addressed this issue, I don't quite remember exactly what he said in the latest newsletter.  Still, I won't be bringing such an enormous army to the Nova again. 

During Game 8, Mike came by and handed me and my opponent a 'Tournament Ace' medal.  It was pretty cool, and was nice to be recognized as having won my first 4 (or was it for 5?) games in a row.  I'm assuming that being an Ace doesn't get me into the Invitational this year like it did for the Aces last year?

Doesn't everyone wish they had a tattoo this epic?
Sportsmanship was interesting - I liked how it worked, where it didn't really have a bearing on your Ren. Man score, but still counted for an award, and allowed you to let judges know if there was a problem.  I ended up 'tying' with 20-something other dudes for 'best sport', which is all fine and dandy, but it felt almost cheapened, in a way, by making us all stand up front and take a picture together.  It's not like it was actually an award, or counted for anything.  Actually, I tried to find the picture just now, and failed, lol.  This was added to the fact that after all was said and done, someone did end up winning 'the award', which felt odd to draw the 'winner' and yet not be recognized for it.  heh

So, I liked the sportsmanship scoring process, but give an emphatic 'meh' about the awarding of it.  In the future, I'd much prefer there to be a tiebreaker, like, the guy who got the best competitive score but still got perfect sportsmanship.  That way, it would be an actual award in its own rite, instead of 'we drew a name out of a hat'. /shrug

Oh yeah, one thing I really liked, was that they let us play our Game 4 to completion, since it was the final game of the day.  Next time, I just hope that they announce it beforehand, so we all know what's up :)

All this criticism maybe makes the event sound like a loser, but it really, really wasn't.  Most of it was really good, coupled with a format I really enjoy, and great opponents.  Mike did a great job on this enormous event, and the things I've discussed are mostly just tweaks, easily accomplished. 

I'll for sure be going again next year, provided I can get the time off.  It's fast becoming another 'Adepticon', and though it'll take a while to work up to being that huge, I consider it near the top of my yearly circuit now.

Any thoughts?  Hope I didn't bore anyone too bad :)

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