Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Nova, Terrain in 40k, and 40k is a Shooting Game

So…..lots of stuff in that title J

This post is going to be long. It might be a bit ranty here or there and might be a bit holier than thou in some places but I feel some of it needs to be said. Also I’m going to try and intersperse it with photos to break the text wall and entertain you with boobies (images stolen from my buddy Spags at TheBack40k cause I'm at work and looking might not be a good idea).

We’ll start first with NOVA. This part is a little gushy. This is the event that started a firestorm. There was a cry for a while for a more competitive format (in terms of clearly defined winners based on record) and Mike Brandt stepped up and took on the challenge of creating a tournament to provide it. His ideas influenced quite a few events in one way or another and normally in a good way.

Clarification: Now to be clear I’m not saying that Nova is the only or best format but I do feel Mike’s openness in his approach and his general urge to reach out to the community has helped create the environment we have on the circuit. Right up there with the guys from Adepticon, WargamesCon, and newly on the scene Reece’s group over there at Frontline Gaming.

And this format is Mike’s baby. He’s constantly tweaking and playing with it. He takes in ideas on how to make it better from the community and builds on it. In other words he’s a great TO. Some of you might be wondering why I’m blowing smoke up Mike’s ass. It mostly has to do with the fact that, as an event that is often considered the flagship for competitive 40k (even if all 40k is competitive in its own way), Mike takes a lot of hits from parts of the community and that can be draining on a person. Especially when the heat he catches is primarily from a small subset of people who consider themselves a big part of the competitive community. Most recently it’s been about terrain which segues nicely into the second part of the title.

Now in 2010 I attended the Nova Open. I sold an army to ensure I had the funds to make it out there to support the type of tournament I really wanted to see grow. Now I’m sure most of us remember the middle of 5th edition. No one had really accepted that LoS blocking terrain really needed to be built and used. So I was actually surprised when I showed up and there was actually a piece or two on the table. Fast forward to 2011 and, in my opinion, the terrain ramped up significantly. While some of the hills turned out to be a bit big I can’t fault the mentality as it reminded me of how 40k should be played. In 4th edition we had it easy with defined terrain blocking LoS thru it. In 5th we’d had a major issue with that and shooting fish in a barrel was the new past time.

Now most of you will remember I was torn between running my Nids (considered uncompetitive) and my other armies and I wound up going with my Loganwing for various reasons like transportability and the fact that I was probably going to play Dash J

Had I known there would be actual LoS blocking terrain like what we got I’d have hands down ran Nids. Why? Because there was actually terrain to use to get cover on big bugs and to mask approaches. It felt like how the game was meant to be played with movement being important again. And I can see how it would help armies designed to use cover like Nids, Tau, and DE. Oddly mostly Xenos armies as the 3+ armies tend to fair well in shooting matches based on game mechanics.

And what’s happening this year? Take a look at Mike’s blog and see some of the amazing terrain he’s building for the event. He’s adjusting and building new centerpiece terrain this year that won’t be so large and block as much LoS but he’s holding to the style of terrain he’s always had. Evenly distributed with some LoS blockers. Based on what I’ve seen of tables outside the US and how much more fun the game is with terrain I’m 100% in favor of it. But a few people don’t like it.

There was a bit of a pushback on some of the vocal parts of the internet after Nova 2011. Mostly concerning terrain and how it ruined some armies. That pushback was mainly from people who played gunline style lists with little to no counter-CC. With some of those people going so far as to claim that Mike was changing the game to suit his local area or to just change it to his type of 40k.

It all settled down and most the reviews Mike got back for the event showed a massive percentage of the community was happy with the terrain which is great. But this segues into a bit of a rant for me.

Terrain is something we need more of! Almost no event has adequate terrain. By adequate I mean full 25% coverage mixed with BLoS and partially BLoS terrain. Terrain is what makes the game interesting. It allows for assault, shooty, and combined arms armies to all compete on the same playing field. No first turn blast offs and people actually having to move their little toy boxes. Much more interesting. Granted some people think that terrain that blocks LoS can lead to hiding and slightly more boring game play. Personally I think it causes people to be mindful of mobility. They can’t hide if you can move and be effective too.

We got seriously spoiled in 4th with the way terrain was interpreted so we didn’t need to build things that blocked line of sight because a felt cutout did. This lack of terrain for most of 5th has lead many people to think of 40k as a shooting based game with a small assault element. And that that small assault element is so insignificant that it should be ignored when building lists in favor of more small shooty units. These are the same people who complained loudly about the terrain at Nova and who complain about LoS blocking terrain in general. 40k is a game that’s meant to be balanced between combat and shooting. I’ve found it to be exactly that if you have solid terrain. Outside of that shooting armies, particularly 3+ marine armies, tend to jump way out in front. Terrain is important for the way the game was designed (as written in the rulebook) and for variety of armies you’ll get to play in an event.

With 6th edition on the horizon most of this might not matter in 2 months. It’s possible they’ll bring back category terrain since that’s the type of product they sell.

So what was the point of this whole post? First to point out that TO’s are people too. Their events are their babies. Bashing people and their events will only lead to people just not wanting to do it and then we’ll be back to 2008 with very few events in the country. If you know any TO I’d send them a thank you for allowing us to have the type of event circuit we have.

Shout out to Duke from Feast of Blades, Spags and crew for the Indy GT, Mike for Nova, all the Adepticon dudes, all the WargamesCon dudes, Jay and Da'Boyz, Reece and his cali crew, and Tim from Bugeater. Thanks guys for being a part (big or small) of us having such a great tournament scene.

Secondly to discuss my views on terrain which pretty much equals the more the better. And thirdly just to point out that I don’t consider 40k a shooting game. I take CC units to counter common CC units out there and rely on CC to do some of the work in the armies that I build. And lastly to point out I’m tired of certain people claiming it’s not 40k if it’s not played their way. Most of us know someone like that in real life or in the blogosphere.

Oh, and sign up for Nova, it’s gonna be blast! It's about 70% full for 40k as of yesterday.

Sorry for the long wall of text. I tried to break it up J