Well as you most of you may have noticed I attended the Darkstar two weeks ago and it's time for my standard GT review which I've been doing for the major events I hit since last year. For those of you not familiar the Darkstar was a 5-game first year 40k only GT. It was not a Nova format but instead more soft score oriented with 45pts for painting, 75 for battle, and 50 for sports. Overall was determined by the total of these points and Best General was BP's and Sports combined. This made soft scores important which was the reason for me painting up my GK's and running them.
The event was run by a local group of gamers here in Minnesota. Though this was their first 40k GT it wasn't their first event as they have been running the very popular Northstar Fantasy 40k for years now. Knowing this I had high hopes going in for solid terrain and a smooth event. So let's get onto the review:
Venue: Pretty Darn Good. The event was held in a convention type hall that was pretty nice. It was spacious and bright. The temperature control was excellent over the course of the weekend. It was located right off one of the major interstates and had food close by as well as a bar upstairs. Overall a pretty solid location.
Terrain: Good. The only reason it isn't excellent is though there was 25% coverage on almost all tables there was a bit of a lack of LoS blocking terrain. Lots of terrain tall enough to get cover for your MC's/Vehicles but very little that actually blocked fire lanes. The quality of the terrain was excellent and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next year.
Prize Support: Average. This is the hardest part of the review for me so I went with average since it's right in the middle. On the one side I won a kick ass chainsword trophy and received a plaque for overall and for best gk general. They had plaques for all of their categories which was excellent. However the webpage did note vouchers from GW for 1st-3rd Best Overall. I had two small issues with it. The first is that I had to bring it up to them. They didn't announce it at the event or anything. The second being that they don't have any info on how it works to get us the vouchers. These are two relatively tiny bumps though in a otherwise awesome event and I'm sure they'll get worked out. And the plaques given out were neat and the chainsword sweet (rhymed!) so I'm cool with giving it some time to shake out.
Turnout: Excellent. I basically have to say excellent since they sold out. They wanted 60 40k players and they got them. A fair few solid local players but no "names" came in from out of town. It was a heck of a group of guys though. Every game I played was fun with upbeat opponents who were in it to have a good time like I was.
Format/Scheduling: Good/Excellent. The good is based on the 5 games with 2.5 hour time limits at 1,850. This cause a lot of down time over the weekend. I only had one game go to within 15 minutes of time and it was a turn 7 game. I'd be inclined to scale back the time and either add another round or wrap it up earlier. Either would be fine. The excellent is because everything went ridiculously smoothly. I mean every game started on time and everything happened when it was suppose to. Though the final raffle/awards were about 10 minutes behind by the time we finished. Overall they knocked it out of the park on timing.
Scenarios: Average. I say average because while they did do a take on the Adepticon style from last year the missions themselves left quite a few play types at a decent disadvantage. Add in that they weren't released before the event and it gets a little worse. I almost felt like I was cheating in a few rounds when I had 5 troop choices. Overall not bad but not as solid as they could be for balance.
Overall: Good! It was a solid and fun event that ran extremely well. I wanna give a shout out for their amazing idea to provide each player with 5 stickers with their name on it for the results sheets. No spelling issues or clarity issues with names and it's an awesome idea. Maybe something some of the larger events on the circuit could look into. The judges were always around on the few instances they were needed for me (like once). Everyone seemed to be having a good time and I didn't hear any grumbling at the event itself which is great as well. Other than the voucher thing there wasn't a single issue with the tournament.
Suggestions: I can't not put in some suggestions...hehe
-Possible shorten rounds to 2:15. There was a lot of downtime. Might have been just my games but it seemed like no one I knew was going to full time.
-Put a list up between rounds of people who've won the raffle and have them come up to pick up prizes between games. People will still be able to see the winners but it won't take 30+ minutes for them to come up one at a time. You could still raffle off a big prize or two after the last round for excitement.
-Some more LoS blocking terrain. You had good cover on the tables but some actual LoS blocking on tables would be good.
-Pre-Release the Missions. Will it make it possible to maybe game the system? Maybe but it'll avoid the chance of people possibly bringing armies that auto-lose based on scenarios combined with match-ups.
Those are pretty much all the ones I can think of outside of the clarity on the vouchers and how they work. Overall it was a great event and I hope to see more people next year.