A Really Lazy Blog Entry: Isstvan V

Tournament Wrap Up

So, I’m being lazy. However, my tournament co-conspirator–and a very important one-third of the team behind the Horus Heresy tournament (as well as the 14th Black Crusade we ran in June, 2010) just updated her blog, giving the run down on the elements running (sometimes behind the scenes of) our tournament–believe me though, we use the word “tournament” rather loosely when we talk about this event.

I decided to just re-post what Teri entered for today, seeing as how if I were handling the same topic today, I’d just paraphrase everything she wrote (plus she calls me “brilliant” –I seem to always dodge the accolades, so getting it down on my blog means it’s real….right?)

Mortarion vs Corax (and lone Grey Knight)

Here’s Teri’s March 3, 2011 post:

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By that I mean Yu-Gi-Oh wrecked how we play 40k.

From my running the 14th Black Crusade tournament to being present for the gaming nights at the store I work at to being a regular visitor at Bell of Lost Souls,  I’ve caught enough snippets and chatter that I feel my above statement is pretty accurate.  (To be fair, maybe I should say instead that Magic the Gathering killed the Warhammer hobby –but where’s the fun in being on the internet if I can’t take a stab at causing some nerd rage?)

This idea has been forming and stewing in my brain for a bit now, and it has to do with how the hobby has been changing the last few years. I’m sure by posting on my blog how not all change is necessarily good, I’m going to come across as a salty old crusty gamer who is resistant to any and all change. But I don’t think that description quite fits me: I’ve been selling the newest, shiniest most up-to-date versions of Warhammer and allaying customers’ fears and resistance to changing systems since 40k’s  Battle Manual and Vehicle Manual first hit the shelves so many years ago.

I’ve been playing 40k since 1989; over that time, I’ve done more than just played the game. Within 3 years of starting up in 40k, I worked for a couple independent stores selling the game (and doing my best to open peoples’ eyes to 40k and Warhammer). After a few years, I then worked for Games Workshop not just selling the game but running store events to promote the hobby further (I was even part of an ‘inner circle’ meeting at the Canadian HQ to help plan the national events being organised for an upcoming year). After 5 years there, I’m now, once again, working at an independent store selling the game and introducing people to the hobby. Of most relevance, I’ve immersed myself over the last year in running Warhammer tournaments, the 14th Black Crusade being the most recent one I’ve helped create, organise and run.

So what makes me different from all those at Bell of Lost Souls who live, breathe and type about Warhammer more fervently than I do?

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Campaign Tournament: June 26 & 27

More info also at: http://conquest-calgary.com/

On Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 myself, Great White and the fine folks who ran the ConQuest tournament in the fall of 2009 will be doing a tournament weekend unlike what’s become the standard style of tournament in these parts for some time: we’re bucking the trend and running a campaign tournament weekend.

Our tournament will combine competitive tournament play with what makes map-based campaigns so attractive to us gamers–namely, an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie , the feeling that our games are part of a big picture and the sense that at some point the whole thing could turn out feeling, well, epic. Basically, this campaign weekend is all about contributing to an adventure where the story is as important as the games themselves, where it is just as important to achieve victory for your team as it is to gain glory for yourself.

This is campaign weekend will not be a standard tournament where only your score is important!

Games will be driven by the narrative of the campaign; the games you play will be connected to part of a greater battle – the assault upon the Cadian Gate by the armies of Chaos and the forces of disorder. (The link to the full back story can be found at the top of the column on the right-hand side of this page titled, oddly enough, “14th Black Crusade back story”).

How well your team does will matter just as much as how well you yourself do; even if you lose your individual battle, achieving some of your objectives may help out your faction more than you tabling your opponent would.

I’m hoping that players will get into the mindset of the army (and faction) they’re bringing to the campaign and use this weekend as an opportunity to try something new with their armies — without being worried that straying from their tried and tested ‘tournament’ lists will result in them doing poorly over the weekend.

A Win is a Win is a Win

The other thing I’d like to point out that will make this tournament different is that for each player’s personal battles, there will be NO degrees of victory. A minor victory counts as tabling your opponent; a major victory counts as tabling your opponent; tabling your opponent counts as …you guessed it: tabling your opponent. My aim  is that we can all play this tournament to win but won’t have to stress over by how much. There will be other factors beyond merely decimating your opponents that will create the points spread necessary to determine winners.  With any level of victory counting as the same kind of victory, we should also be able to focus on having some fun: we all know that the best and funnest games are the ones that  –win or lose– are close and hard fought.

My hope is that players will make lists where they can try a new thing (or few) without hampering their ability to place in the top five. I’d really like it if this tournament became more about generalship than list-building, about how you play your army on the board than what you put in your army while still at home.

Army Lists& Construction Rules

Though I’m still getting the player’s pack finished up right now, I thought I’d post this info beforehand …for those who want as much notice as possible.

Army Size:

All players will make up a list of 1400 points called your army core list.

They will also make up a list where they add an extra 250 points to their army core list (total 1650).

They will also make up a third list where they add an extra 500 points to their army core list (total 1900).

Apart from the 1400-point core, the 1650 and 1900-point lists need not be the exact same lists (ie: the 1900-point list doesn’t have to be the 1650-point list with an extra 250 points tacked on). Lists must be emailed to info@ConQuest-Calgary.com

Submission deadline is midnight, Friday, June 18th .

Players should ensure that the rosters include all of the models in their army, the correct points values and all equipment, skills or powers upgrades taken (along with their proper point values). Army lists can still be submitted later than June 18th but run the risk of incurring a penalty on their overall tournament score and MAY be ineligible for the Best General award (called the “Ambitious Opportunist:  (   faction name  ) ” award in this tournament.

Army army lists must have the following clearly stated at the top of the page:

Army Type,  Name of Player,  Phone Number,  Email Address

Points spent on:  HQ  /  Elite  /  Troops  /  Fast Attack  /  Heavy Support

Army lists can be submitted in Microsoft Word or Excel (versions 2003 or lower), in Notepad or in Army Builder format.

Armies cannot use more than one Force Organisation Chart and must follow their most current codex according to this list:

Codex: Black Templars                  Codex: Blood Angels (2010)

Codex: Chaos Space Marines       Codex: Daemon Hunters

Codex: Daemons of Chaos           Codex: Dark Angels

Codex: Dark Eldar (2nd Ed.)         Codex: Eldar

Codex: Imperial guard                  Codex: Necrons

Codex: Orks                                  Codex: Space Marines

Codex: Tau Empire                       Codex: Space Wolves (2009)

Codex: Tyranids (2010)                Codex: Witch Hunters

Other Army Construction Guidelines

  • Individual units that may have multiple rules versions will follow the rules presented in that army’s codex. (Yes, this means a Black Templar Land Raider will function differently than a standard Space Marine Land Raider.) Please take the time to review the relevant codex and GW FAQs for clarifications.
  • Forge World/Imperial Armor/ units are not allowed; however, players can use Forge World versions of legal unit(s) from their army’s current codex.
  • Apocalypse-only units and/or Formations may not be used.
  • The Vehicle Design Rules may not be used.
  • Allies may only be used where allowed by a particular codex (i.e. only Witch Hunters or Demon Hunters may be allies, and only as per their rules).

For Inquisitorial Armies:

Imperial Guard and Space Marine allies are allowed. As both of these codices have changed substantially since the Inquisition books were originally released, use the following amendments to the lists presented on pg 30-31 of the Daemon Hunters book and pg 26 of the Witch Hunters book:

Troops: Space Marine Tactical Squad, Space Marine Scout Squad, Imperial Guard Infantry Platoon, Imperial Guard Veteran Squad.

Fast Attack: Space Marine Assault Squad, Land Speeder Squadron, Space Marine Bike Squadron, Scout Sentinel Squadron, Armored Sentinel Squadron, Rough Rider Squad, Scout Bike Squad.

Heavy Support: Space Marine Devastator Squad, Space Marine Land Raider (Crusader and Redeemer as well), Space Marine Dreadnought, Space Marine Predator, 0-1 Leman Russ Squadron (Pask may NOT be taken).

NOTE:  Grey Knight Terminators may not travel in Valkyries or Vendetta Gunships.

Regarding Special/Unique/Named Heroes:

Special or named Characters CANNOT be used. Period.

…but there will be an allowance made for certain characters whose special rules change how their army is made up or who confer a special cross-army rule when present in the army(Like Belial or Pedro Kantor do).  This will be covered in the upcoming Player’s Pack.

That’s all I’m going to go into for now, but I will leave all interested parties with the factions break down –for those with multiple armies who aren’t sure which one they want to play yet.

The Forces of Destruction: The forces motivated to destroy all bastions of the Imperium surrounding the Eye of Terror.

  • Chaos Space Marines
  • Daemons of Chaos
  • Space Orks
  • Tyranids
  • Dark Eldar

The Forces of the Imperium: The forces seeking to contain Chaos within the Eye of Terror.

  • Black Templars
  • Blood Angels
  • Daemon Hunters
  • Dark Angels
  • Imperial guard
  • Space Marines
  • Space Wolves
  • Witch Hunters

The Forces of Self Interest: Those forces looking to their own goals and are willing to fight whomever they need to achieve them. They do have a faction they ultimately side with, included in parentheses after the army (this is done so that this tournament avoids becoming a six-way competition).

  • Eldar (Imperium)
  • Necrons (Destruction)
  • Tau (Destruction)

Railing against ‘Ard Boyz

I read this over at The One Ring forum (for all things Lord of the Rings miniatures gaming); it’s about a list a guy brought to Games Workshop’s ‘Forging of Fates’. I posted a lengthy reply and then thought to post it on my blog, seeing as how my opinion about this reaches past just the War of the Ring game.

The Forging of Fates

This tournament is the War of the Rings version of an ‘Ard Boyz tournament. As  GW says on their website, “[u]nlike the traditional tournament format you may be familiar with, [one] that takes into consideration your painting and sportsmanship, the ‘Ard Boyz Tournaments focus on one thing and one thing only; how well you play the game! These tournaments are the place to field that nasty list you felt guilty about playing, or that massive horde army you couldn’t hope to paint it in time. . . . There are no sportsmanship or painting scores to hide behind, pounding your foes to paste is all that matters.”


Also with these tournaments come considerable prizes; as GW says–again, on its website–for getting past the preliminary round and going on to win a regional semi-final the winning player “will get a 2,000 point army of the race of their choice and the 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive generous online vouchers for our Web Store. These top three Semifinalists will be eligible to attend the Finals. . . .[and] will compete for buckets of prizes”.

Here’s some quick War of the Rings terminology so the next part makes more sense: a ‘formation’ is War of the Ring’s term for a squad or regiment. A formation can be made up of one or several ‘Companies’ of 8 models–each Company is basically 1 movement tray: for infantry models, a movement tray holds 8 guys. No more than half of a single Company/movement tray can be made up of heroes, but other than that there are no restrictions regarding how many heroes can be in a single formation; and there are no restrictions on how many heroes / points worth of heroes can be in a single army. The only real restrictions are: only 25% of your army can be made up of allies, and once a Formation’s last remaining Company (movement tray) is reduced to half its 8 models, the formation instantly dies, regardless of whether its last remaining models are all high-points cost heroes or just rank and file models.

So here’s the run down of what the guy in question brought with my explanation of what it all means:

One Formation of six Companies of High Elf archers (360 pts). Added to that formation is every elven hero that has the Epic Shot ability [Epic Shot: spend 1 Might point to cause D6 automatic casualties to any Formation within 12″], so Thranduil (125 pts), Legolas (200 pts) and Haldir (760 pts) are added to the army. Also add every hero that can cast the ‘Command’ list of  spells: Galadriel (175 pts), Celeborn (175 pts), Elrond (215pts) and Cirdan (75 pts). Added to this mix as allies are Gandalf the White (300 pts) and Radagast the Brown (160 pts), bringing the army total to 1860 points.

Why Gandalf the White and Radagast you ask? Well, Gandalf has  Counselor [Gandalf spends 1 Might point to replenish 1-3 Might points of an ally within 24″] and Overlord [any friendly formation within 24″ can use Gandalf’s Might points]; Radagast has Epic Tranquility [charges may not be made against the formation Radagast is in].  Put these two together with another counselor (Galadriel) and you have an unwieldy amount of Might points that Radagast can use at any time to keep all enemies from assaulting them.

Elrond and anyone with Command spells can bring back the dead [Blessing of the Valar spell can heal D3 or D6 casualties]; also, because four of the heroes have Epic Defense, they can raise the Defense of their formation to 10 (making it very hard to kill them at range). Cirdan’s ‘Gift of Foresight’ ability [essentially a 6+ invulnerable save for every hit made against that formation] makes it even harder for them to be killed–and remember, enemies using their Might points to bump up their dice rolls is not really a  solution when playing a game that is going to go on for ten or more turns: the enemy will run out of Might within the first few turns if using his Might for this purpose.

The three heroes with Epic Shot can kill 3d6 members of an enemy formation each turn and the casters are using the spells of Command and Dismay to stop anything that gets in their way with Light of the Valar [reduce the Courage of target enemy formation] and Transfix [on a failed Courage test, enemy formation cannot move, shoot or charge]. Also available is spells of Wilderness’ Nature’s Wrath spell [does D6+3 instant hits to any one formation within 24″].

With your 2000-point army’s last available 140pts, Arwen can be thrown into the list giving the army a total of 7 spell casters. Yes, this is a one-formation army, but it is SO resilient that this one formation went all three rounds in the Forging of Fates Semi-Final without losing a single company of 8 models!

My Rant

I think the ‘Ard Boyz tourneys are a step in the opposite direction for Games Workshop, a company that describes themselves–and the way they do business–as one who thinks long-term, aims to do what is  right (as opposed to what’s easy), and would rather make regular, constant growth rather than quick rises and sharp declines. This army list above is a symptom of what happens when you offer HUGE prizes, demand no social graces from players and add in the phrase “anything goes.”

It sounds to me like Mr-Elf-Army knew enough rules to decide that if he were to bone up on the game a bit and do plenty of math-hammer, he’d have an excellent chance at getting GW’s soopa’ prize for winning an ‘Ard Boyz tourney. I haven’t met this guy, nor seen him play; I’m not trying to say he’s an all-around terrible guy (really, I’m not…but I bet he is!).  For all I know, he could be a really nice guy, on the table and off. But lists like Mr-Elf-Army’s  are rarely concocted and played by all-around great guys; even if I’m wrong about that statement, I do know what I think about the people who bring point-and-click armies (you know them, even if you haven’t heard the term: armies that practically run themselves, that even drooling post-lobotomy patients could win with; all that’s required is a warm body to roll dice…and possibly move the models forward). I will concede that it does take a certain level of skill to construct lists such as the one above…around as much skill as it does to make a killer deck for Magic the Gathering. I really dislike Magic the Gathering.

Full Disclosure:

I suck at MtG, deck construction and optimized army-list building, so some of my attitude could just be professional jealousy.

It seems to me that the purpose behind tournaments, at their most fundamental level, is to create and nurture a community. Some would argue that tournaments exists solely to sell more miniatures–it isn’t; but sales are the (some might say wonderful) side-effect of having a healthy gaming community. With all I’ve said already, I don’t think it’s surprising that I my opinion is that ‘Ard Boyz  tournaments do nothing to create or nurture a community of  players. Whereas I’m sure ‘Ard Boyz tournaments probably do create some increases in sales, I don’t believe there’s any honest enthusiasm for the hobby driving players’ involvement in ‘Ard Boyz. I get more the feeling that GW is endorsing Cold-War style escalation tactics rather than player excitement: ‘Ard Boyz aims to force people into buying more stuff (so players will feel their armies are competitive enough to win the final prize), and that mindset will do more to harm GW than help them.

Let me explain: there’s an old parable (or what have you) where the sun and the wind are discussing which one of them is stronger and decide to prove themselves by seeing who can remove the coat of a man, walking by below them. The wind blows as hard as he can, trying to blow the jacket off; the man bundles himself against the blowing wind…and the coat stays on. On the sun’s turn, he decides to shine as bright as he can; the man decides to sit down and enjoy the now beautiful weather and takes off his coat to do so. And the moral: persuasion is better than force.

To quote Princess Leia talking to Grand Moff Tarkin upon her arrival to the Death Star, “the more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” The more GW “forces” people to buy in order to feel competitive, the more people will decide to get out of the hobby–which is not to say that GW wanting people to buy more stuff is itself bad, it’s the way they’re trying to make people want to buy more stuff that’s bad.

In contrast, creating and nurturing a decent gaming community gets pretty similar end-results (sales and increases) but does so in a different way. The result of assembling a group of like-minded people together to take part in the activity all of them are passionate about is that enthusiasm greater than the sum of its parts is generated. I know I’m saying this pretty wonkily, but it is a truism: despite the fact that television and stereos exist, people still go to hockey games, people still go to rock concerts and people still go to movies instead of just seeing / experiencing them in the comfort of their own homes. And why? Because the social and tribal nature of our psyches relishes the shared experience that all these events give us. This also applies to games: despite the existence of computer games, console games and online MMOs, board games are still played. A lot. Indeed, they’re even enjoying a renaissance right now. The shared experience of a healthy, active player community does the same thing for us gamers, and tournaments are just one facet of a gaming community.

If Games Workshop was trying to do the “right thing” as opposed to the easy thing, they’d encourage as much community construction as they could. Instead of having the vitality and perpetual motion that communities provide, GW has thrown their hat in with their ‘Ard Boyz tournaments. which give the players ONE event, one where they are not asked to contribute or have a hand at creating long-lasting excitement, just to win. “Pounding your opponent to paste is all that matters.” The camaraderie, the excitement for creativity, the good-natured rivalries created by networks of players gaming together regularly are tossed aside in favour of a once-a-year spectacle that stresses only that we think about ourselves and give no consideration to others.

At their best, ‘Ard Boyz tournaments might give us a small taste of community, but that taste–all of us gaming in the same room for a day is fleeting: GAmes Workshop has no intention of going past their win-at-all-costs douche-fest. Is it GW’s responsibility to create a community for us? Not at all. But it’s in their best interest to not undermine healthy gaming habits. Encouraging play styles such as Mr-Elf-Army’s list above does NOTHING to help bring people together, and quite probably does a certain portion of harm to any community that is till fledgling. I know if I faced that player’s army, I’d be wondering why I was still in this hobby….and if maybe it was now time for me to check out. Heck, just seeing that list has had me angry at Games Workshop for FIVE days now and not at all interested in playing any of their games.

So kudos to Games Workshop: this round of ‘Ard Boyz helped them sell ten hero models and a half-a-dozen “Last Alliance of Men and Elves” miniatures boxes.  All for the mere cost of cheesing off several established players-and making me want to throw away 21 years of loyalty to Games Workshop’s games. (And contrary to what they think about ‘veteran’ gamers such as myself, I have not stopped buying product because I have an army for each game). I’m having a hard time seeing how their love of this style of tournament is good in the long run, how this provides for regular, constant growth or how this is the ‘right’ way to promote the hobby, as opposed to the easy way.

Rant over. Sorry, just needed to vent.


More full disclosure:

It burns! It bites! It stings–did I mention my store will be running a 40k ‘Ard Boyz preliminary on may 15, 2010?

I think part of the reason I’m so upset by the abuse-the-rules-at-all-costs Elf army above is that I’ve realised that by agreeing to host an ‘Ard Boyz preliminary, I’ve agreed to shake hands with the devil. Whereas my motivation back in the first week of January for agreeing to hosting this was just to get the store’s name out there: so people who probably never come to my mall (which is often perceived as being at the far south tip of Calgary–which it may have been back in the late seventies but certainly hasn’t been for some time now), who might not even know of the store’s existence might actually have us register on their radars through GW’s promoting the tournament in White Dwarf and on their website.

After seeing the above War of the Rings list, I’m realising just what level of assholery is inside the realm of possibilities for me to expect on May 15th. Ugh. Already the store has had one of the more…ahem  ” ‘Ard ” players from past tournaments phone us repeatedly trying to be the first to sign up for May 15th. When he was told we’re not yet taking registrations, he demanded we phone him the moment we start accepting players; just last night he phoned the store repeatedly after we were closed–eight times in a row, to be precise (we don’t answer our phones while doing closing procedures)–presumably to, again, be first on the ‘Ard Boyz list. the more I think about this, the closer we get to May 15th, the more I just want to pull out of doing this ‘Ard Boyz preliminary round.

I feel like the price of this tournament is my dignity.

Quick edit: looks like I’m not the only one with disdain for ‘Ard Boyz.