Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tournament Review: Nova Open 2011

So this last weekend I attended the Nova Open! This included the GT and the Invitational as well as participating in the Whiskey Challenge on Thursday night. I've already listed the army I brought so I won't bore you with that again but I'm gonna give you a breakdown of the event as I saw it. I'll have a seperate article for how I did and a nice list of the oopsies I made in the games I lost as that might be a help. Anyway, on to the review. Like normal I'll start with the breakdown and then my overall score for the event. I'll follow that up with the a recap of the minor adjustments that I feel could make the event a little bit better.

Venue: Above Average.

Honestly I'm not a true fan of this location. The actual rooms that the GT was held in was fine, though the low ceilings made for a much warmer room that the A/C couldn't compete with. My issue was solely with the hotel. It was a nickel & dime type of place which kinda frustrated me. That said the rate Mike got us was so low that we could afford a few extras tacked on. And I will point out that I don't currently have a pending charge for my check-in for my stay. So that's the reason for only the above average. Basically if Mike hadn't gotten such a great rate it might have been a lower score but he did so no worries.

On a sidenote I'd throw in that I feel like the Vendors should have had a spot in the big game room itself. Being right outside the elevators and at the foot of the escalator was good but due to the tightness of the schedule they might have been able to do better business in the hall.

Terrain: Excellent.

If you haven't seen the photos they are all over the place right now. Mike and his crew slammed out a truly epic amount of good terrain designed for 5th edition. Large LoS blocking terrain and cover abounded. I feel like this is environment that some less seen lists can compete as it's not all planet bowling ball. Truly a great job done here by the Nova Staff.

Prize Support: Excellent.

Come on! $1k to the winners of the Invitational along with some hefty prize support handed out all weekend in raffles and then some good stuff for the winners of the regular event. Have to be honest in that I don't know what the prizes were for the GT since I actually bailed after my last game to head to dinner with a good buddy, who I hadn't seen in several years, his fiance and my wife. But I'm still gonna give this an excellent since I can't believe that Mike wouldn't knock this out of the park like everything else.

Turnout: Nothing Short of Amazing!

So with "Hurricane" (I use the term loosely) Irene bearing down on DC there were several drops. Mike had managed to sell out all 256 spots before the weather and a few random issues caused some last minute cancellations. That said 204 players still makes this the largest 2-day GT in the US and the 3rd largest 40k event (Adepticon's Championships & Team Tournament are bigger). And the hall was full of great armies and great people. Mike noted that out of 800+ games on day one there were less than 10 bad games votes (or something like that) which is pretty astounding. Overall, the event was a huge success on sheer numbers and it was a great thing to see.

Format/Scheduling: Excellent/Good.

The format was awesome! Naturally as a glutton for punishment I love the 8 game format. I also love straight win/loss as that's where I personally do extremely well. I've also found that the format allows for different army builds that you normally wouldn't see because they don't have the potential to massacre. As for the scheduling I think it was good. There were some minor issues with the schedule being adhered to but the reasons were generally good or forgivable so that's why there is a good instead of excellent.

Scenarios: Excellent.

Loved them last year and I love them this year. It's the Nova. They added KP's this year (granted it was win by 3) which was a great change and Mike is always on the lookout for ways to tweak to make his event better.

Comparison to Last Year: Excellent

Compared to last year there were more people, better terrain, and the atmosphere was excellent. Overall I'd say it's a major improvement over last year. Mike continues to improve and bring us a better and better event. In one year this went from an interesting new idea to one of THE must attend events. I'm looking forward to next year. Maybe it won't be so close to the ETC next year and we can get a few more of the big hitters next year :)

Conclusion: Excellent!

This was a great event. I can't talk it up enough honestly. Mike was all over the place and his pride in his event was obvious. Everyone working the event was in a good mood and happy to talk. I had 14 great games and there was only one person that people I knew that regularly had issues with over the weekend.
That said there are a few tweaks I think could help. The first one is a hard time limit. There were a few issues where time became an issue because people were "finishing" a turn and we lost time here and there over the course of the weekend. The second would food. Seeing if you could get the hotel to do some kind of pay for it catering like Adepticon might be a good way to save time and and keep things running a bit smoother. The third and last thing I can think of right now that could make things a little better would a slight change to the sportsmanship. I think it should simply be a thumbs up/thumbs down with people choosing a best game on each day. I think that would eliminate people seeming to just give out excellents and could spread the sportsmanship field a bit.

Small things that could make a difference to an amazing event. I had an amazing time. A big thank you to Mike for putting this all together and a huge thank you to his team of volunteers who did it all for the love of our hobby. I can't wait for next year and am already planning my list for next year.