Thursday, September 6, 2012

GT Review: Nova '12

Welcome to my final GT review of 2012. Over Labor Day weekend I attended the Nova Open! This included the GT and the Invitational which resulted in a total of 13 games over the tournament time span. I’ll be talking about my list and experience with it probably later in the week but I'm gonna give you a breakdown of the event as I saw it. 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.

If you read my review last year you might notice this stayed the same. Looking back I probably should have been a little more harsh but this year it certainly earned the Above Average rating. In fact, it’s only my reluctance to over score it that keeps this from being excellent. Why?

Well cell phones and such worked downstairs this year. The a/c actually seemed to work much better this year as well though the corners of the room got a bit hot. They still nickel and dimed but it was at a reduced rate this year. Cheaper parking, rooms, and internet meant a cheaper time had. Basically they must have wanted Mike back because the hotel definitely set out to fix a lot of the issues from last year.

Terrain: Excellent.

I said it last year and I’ll say it again:

“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.”

I’d add that they made some killer cool new terrain for the Narrative event and that they replaced the absolutely giant center terrain pieces with some stuff that was a little smaller. But it still provided some solid LoS blockage and made maneuver important.

Prize Support: Excellent.

So Prize Support was even crazier this year. I didn’t stick around for the ceremony last year since dinner with my wife, an old friend I’d gotten back in contact with, and his fiancĂ© took priority. But this year I stuck around and holy crap did they give out a lot of stuff. I have to say KR really stepped up to the plate with support in a crazy way. Free stuff for all bracket winners and some pretty good prize support for top finishers was great but what was really crazy was how much stuff they handed out throughout the event and afterwards. I will say though that the GT circuit is trying to get me to play a Necron flyer list……This is the second or third Necron flyer I’ve won at a GT be it a raffle or as a prize

Turnout: Excellent

This year the Nova had over 600 attendees total. Granted this was for all kinds of different events but I think this qualifies as pretty excellent turnout. The GT didn’t see quite as many people as last year even though they sold more tickets. Quite a few last minute drops due to personal reasons, labor day, or just not wanting to play 6th edition mean that the GT was just shy of 200 people. But that’s still a huge turnout and I expect it to get bigger next year. Especially in the non-40k GT events like Warmahordes, Fantasy, and FoW. Though I do expect the 40k GT to max out next year as well.

Format/Scheduling: Excellent/Excellent.

So I said this about the format and I think it’s still true this year:

“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. “

The change is in how I viewed the schedule. There was only a single instance this year of a time delay which was an improvement over last year. But for me the greatest change was the format for the GT itself and the Invitational. Basically the Invitational was spread out over 3 days (Thur, Fri, Sun) and the GT was as well (Fri, Sat, Sun) depending on your standing at the end of Saturday. This mean never more than 4 games in a day and since we were starting at 7:30 every day at the earliest we were almost always done by 7. This meant there was plenty of time to do what’s most important for me at a GT, socialize with friends I really only see at GT’s. It also left you available to play in one of the additional events if you had the stamina like the Narrative or the Trios.

Scenarios: Excellent.

Loved them the first year, loved them last year, and I still love them this year. It's the Nova. Some minor changes to how troops work to adjust for vehicles and flyers not counting in most games and it was pretty solid. Granted the format heavily favors troops but I think good formats should.

Comparison to Last Year: Excellent

The terrain was better. The schedule was much better (I didn’t feel like a vegetable by Sunday night). A huge event with lots of excitement and even better prize support spread across all the attendees. Basically Mike improved on this bad boy yet again. I’d seriously suggest getting this on your calendar much like Adepticon.

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. That man likes to shake hands. I’m just sayin….Everyone working the event was in a good mood and happy to talk. I had 13 amazing games and not a single person who wasn’t a pleasure to play. I have to say that I think the amount of space to move around in is critical to the more relaxed feeling with more games than what I felt at Adepticon the last two year. Not a dig on Adepticon, it was just easier to move and felt more relaxed due to personal space being more available.

Mike really took the critiques last year to heart and made huge impacts on the minor issues that the event had. They put a system in place for the Sportsmanship award so they wouldn’t have to just randomize all the perfect scored people (16 this year, including me
J). They got food catered into the hallway, which though more expensive than I would have like, was an excellent way for gamers to get some grub in between games without having to go running up and down the streets outside.

Only two suggestions I’d have for next year are pretty small really. Find some way if humanly possible to speed up that final raffle/awards ceremony. I do like lumping in all the events for the awards ceremony together so that the whole wargaming community at the convention gets to recognize the people who did well in their events but the raffle portion just made me slightly crazy J. The other suggestion is one that I’ve discussed privately with Mike and he’s already working on so there is no reason to hammer on it.

Overall I had an amazing time. A big thank you to Mike, again, for putting this all together and a huge thank you to his team of volunteers, again, who did it all for the love of our hobby and Mikes beer

I’d probably attend this event every year just for the people I meet up with and for the chance to double up a 40k GT with driving down to see my family. But Mike and his team make an event that I’m not just excited to see old friends and family but that I’m genuinely excited to attend to play 40k. They are constantly striving to make it better and it’s definitely one of the can’t miss events out there.

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