Massacre on

Isstvan  V

We’ve set our next big tournament project in stone: we’re doing another campaign weekend, this time focusing on  the outbreak of the Horus Heresy on Isstvan V!

We have our venue holding our spot for a weekend in late February 2011 (the exact date will be announced soon). Much like the Eye of Terror event we did this summer, we’ll be aiming to make this weekend a melding of both a campaign and a tournament: the tournament structure will be used to present a story-driven, six-game campaign of bravery, desperation and treachery.

As with the Eye of Terror campaign weekend, ensuring the event is optimized for “competitive” play remains a very secondary concern for us. Immersing players into situations that reward them for acting how the “real” 40k armies would “really” act in the same desperate and unexpected situations is what we’re aiming for.

Some highlights of the campaign weekend’s traits thus far:

  • This is a Space Marines ONLY function: you can play whatever army you want, so long as they attend dressed in their Marine suits and their army list comes from one flavour of a current Marine codex (loyal or otherwise). That’s right: no Guard and no Xenos.
  • The first morning of the weekend, before anything else happens, players will swear allegiance to the Emperor of Mankind or to Horus –regardless of the codex being used. (Yes this means that your Khorne army can fight for the Imperium!) The justification: it is the eve of the launching of a civil war, standing at the edge of the precipice, there could be some with second thoughts –or some last-minute treachery, some final conniving …or even just the aim of consolidating power.
  • Just like the wristband idea with lining up for concert tickets, players will be given a number; when their number is called, they can then swear their (temporary?) allegiance to the faction of their choice….if there’s still room for them.
  • At some point (multiple points?) players will be given the opportunity to switch sides…and will be rewarded / bribed for doing so.
  • Players will not be allowed to have special characters in their armies, but special characters will be available at different times as a free upgrade to players’ armies.

As I said above, it’s not our aim to make this campaign tournament as competitively balanced as possible; playing war is not running a 100-yard dash; and 40k (in my opinion) was never intended to clinically determine, in a controlled environment, just who was the 40k-No-Kamisama (Jp:  “the god of 40k”). Having a story unfold over the course of a weekend and seeing how players adjust to the unexpected excites me more than does just hosting a contest to see who plays the better-built army list the best. I really do enjoy bringing narrative and strategy together to influence, push, pull and link the tactical battles being played (I’m a sucker for campaigns!). And for that reason, we’ll be upping the ante and adding extra variables so as to test the mettle of the players.

One of the hallmarks of the 14th Black Crusade was that during each round several different missions were being played (so the table beside you wasn’t necessarily playing the same mission you were playing); we want to have a semblance of that in this tournament too: I think it’s pretty cool to have your army’s location influence what their mission and objectives will be.

We also want to try to include secondary objectives to be used not as battle-points bonuses but as activators to special effects, occurrences (and special guests!)  for use in future rounds. We had a lot of success with this idea with the Eye of Terror weekend and want to refine it and include it in some form for our Isstvan V event as well. What I especially liked about the way secondary objectives were handled in the Eye of Terror was that they didn’t help you in your current game; they would instead give you some kind of bonus or benefit to your next battle, regardless of your performance in your current battle.

The idea behind secondary objectives doing this being two things: that astute players, suffering from their current game developing into a very pear-shaped prospect, could try their best to go for the secondary objectives and strive to win the war despite a setback in their current situation. Secondly, a game structure that rewards those who plan strategically appeals to the war gamer in me. (As an example: many historians have commented that perhaps had Rommel used his available air power to protect  his supply ships steaming across the Mediterranean instead of on his Afrikakorps divisions, his army would never have suffered from all the fuel & supply problems that were endemic to the desert war. They use that example to illustrate that despite Rommel’s tactical brilliance on the battlefield, he was a limited strategist, and that limitation cost him the desert campaign. That’s the blending of strategy and tactics element that we hope to instill in our event over the course of the weekend.)

That’s all I’ve got on my brain so far, but I will post updates on the tournament as we continue crafting the structure of the campaign weekend.

Lastly, my partners in crime, Nathan and Teri will also have updates and announcements on their blog: http://conquest-calgary.com/

When we’re closer to the date, they’ll also have all the information on how to register and pay for the event (they’ve made it so you can pay using PayPal–handy!)


Entry Deadline: September 18

Did I mention the painting contest we’re running later this month?For those not reading the poster yet, it’s running on September 19th (and the submission deadline  runs from September 10 through to and including September 18).

We’re trying something different, different from the usual affair where people submit a model for us to judge and announce winners inside an hour or so (and where only about half the entrants show up / stick around for the announcing of winners); this time around we’re delaying the announcing of winners by a day so we can take our time to do the judging.

And to make the event feel more like it’s an event, we’ll be running a few fun things on the day the winners are being announced.

(Sidenote: have a good “painting obstacle course” obstacle or challenge? Drop me a line, we’re looking for one more idea to throw at the competitors!)

We’re all kind of excited about trying this format on for size as it will hopefully replace the stress we usually went through (trying to go as fast as possible all while trying to be polite and let people inspect the submissions while we tried to judge them …and politely deflect all the enquiries of when we’ll be done judging). Hopefully, all those stresses will be replaced with the more desirable stresses of running games and speed-painting contests.

We’ll see.

We’re also shaking up how we do the judging (a little); I’m still a fan of coming up with a fairly arbitrary first cut and then using a score sheet to judge all those. Because we’ll have more time, well probably have a larger amount of models making first cut (we usually had about half a dozen making first cut in past competitions; we’ll probably push it closer to around ten this time).

With the first cut established, we then judge each model according to a page of criteria and score them points; there are five of us judging, meaning that each model gets five scores and those scores are averaged –just like in figure skating!

I won’t go through in too great of specifics how points are awarded, but the “official rules” sheet does give pretty good hints:

I think it’s all pretty plainly laid out there. The HUGE change which I’m sure will totally piss some people off is the idea of bonus points being awarded for showing up on the event day and participating in those ‘fun’ events. I’m sure I’ll get an earful of how unfair it is that a painting score can be modified by things that have no bearing on painting skill. To that, my only defence lies behind the intention of this painting competition: to create community. In the last three (four?) competitions, the one constant has been the majority of  people dropping off their models and fitting into either of two categories: (a) wanting their miniature back as soon as they found out they didn’t win, or, (b) leaving the store entirely and phoning us that day or the next day …or the next to see if they’d won. Like I said, not everyone fell into those two categories, just most of them –even people placing in the first cut and winners’ circle weren’t exempt.

So this time around, I thought I’d try to push the community aspect a little harder. I’ve made it so that participation on the Sunday events don’t trump the actual painting side of things, but participation can definitely tip the scales heavily enough when giving up to a twenty-percent bonus of points! I’ve always felt that the best thing that people took from painting competitions was the meeting of other painters: both the amazing ones whose skills were light years ahead of yours and (more importantly) the ones whose skills were close to your own –those were the ones who you’d learn from and teach things to. And the only way to meet other painters, really, is to meet other painters: to go where they congregate. Hopefully, a painting competition is a place where they would congregate. (And yes, you could always talk to people at tournaments –I get that– but not everyone goes to tournaments).

Ideally, a painting competition isn’t just another form of Warhammer dick measuring; it’s a chance to create a dialogue between players in a forum that doesn’t have wiping the floor with the competition as being the main sentence in its mission statement. Sure, at the very top, the competition is likely pretty fierce –just as fierce at any tournament. And yet… I think that level really only occurs at the more renowned competitions like the Golden Demons (conversely, that level of competition occurs at the top tables of most WFB or 40k tournaments of any decent size…or maybe I’m just naïve thinking that the gaming tournaments have a more competitive vein than do painting competitions).

Anyways, that’s all for me right now. I have to go choo-choo-choose what model I’ll be painting for the staff category that’s being judged by all the entrants that show up on Sunday the 19th.

And flesh out the details for the upcoming Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 tournaments.

(Hint: Warhammer Fantasy is on Oct 30; 40k is on November 6 –the venue just confirmed the booking yesterday.)