Let's start with the venue itself. The Nova Open event was hosted by the Hyatt in Crystal City. It was a very short distance from the Reagan Washington National Airport, which was excellent because I didn't want to pay for a rental car or taxi. The courtesy shuttle worked perfectly. 200ponies (Bill Early) and his wife was kind enough to allow me to stay with them in their room over the weekend, which saved me quite a bit of money even though I split costs. Great people, those two. 200ponies managed to go 4-4 with my "Templarbubble" list, so that was good too. :)
The hotel was very nice, but it wasn't without problems. They charged for EVERYTHING. Internet, replacement bathroom items, upgrading your room with mini-fridges, etc. Yes, the room didn't have a refrigerator. Inconvenient to say the least. Then the fact that the hotel shut the AC off every day at 7pm, when it was hot and humid all weekend...also annoying. When you account for the 200+ people crammed into the event hall without AC, it gets hot pretty damn quick. Sweating bullets mid-way through the last game both days. The hotel also didn't have all of the six elevators running for some reason, so it led to very long lines waiting to get to our rooms. But overall, I thought it was a pretty good place to hold the Open.
The very first night there (Friday), I wanted to finish up my army for the tournament, as a few things needed to still be done. I was super stressed out about it, because I was worried that I wouldn't get them done in time. However, I was conned (it didn't take much...lol) into participating into the Nova Open Barcrawl. In a nutshell, it was a competition that involved going to a lot of bars and drinking lots and/or visiting lots of DC monuments. Rode my first subway, so that was cool. Got ourselves up to Chinatown and just enjoyed each others' company. While we were still doing the stuff on the list, we kinda threw that to the wayside to socialize. lol! We got back pretty late, but Ms Ponies helped me finish my army. Even stayed up a little later to finish assembling a Typhoon when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer (at this point, it was about 3 days without sleep). But we got everything all done to the required standards in the nick of time, so special thanks goes to her for that!
The people at the event were very nice. Got to meet Stelek for the first time and he's a very nice guy in person, albeit a little arrogant. He does have his quirks, but we all do. Spent some time talking to him and I have no complaints. But I also got to meet several other great guys. 200ponies, Nikephoros, Nyhil, and Mcdmk2 are amongst the internet personalities, but that really is a small fraction of the people I got to know there. I even had about a dozen players come up to me randomly and introduce themselves as readers of the blog, though I had no idea who they were. Darn stalkers (Just kidding. I love ya guys. ^_^ )! These guys knew me by sight and name, which humbled me greatly. Guess I cater to more players that I thought. In addition, there was a distinct lack of dude funk and I really appreciated the fact that our hardcore gamers didn't exhibit this trait. It really would have dampened my mood if I was playing someone who radiated bad personal hygiene.
My opponents, for the most part, were also excellent to play against. Almost all of them were a joy to converse with and simply enjoy the game we played. Special shout outs go to Joseph Metcalf and John Stiening (pretty sure I spelt that right). Both were phenomenal opponents and I highly recommend anyone jump at the chance to play them. I even got the chance to grab a bite to eat with Joseph (after our game). Challenged him to a rematch, but we weren't able to pull it off. lol! I'll get you back one day! ;)
The tournament itself was ran near flawlessly. It held to the published schedule almost exactly, with the only interruptions being due to people dropping out of games without notifying the judges. While it is definitely a compliment, that same adherence to the schedule cost me lunch on my second day. My opponent in Game 6 had dropped, so I (plus several others) had to be reassigned a new opponent. To get everyone re-seeded and assigned properly, it took about 30 minutes. While they allowed us to stick with our 2 hour games, they refused to move back the start time for Game 7...essentially giving me 20 minutes to eat since it took 5-10 minutes to pack my army up. Needless to say, because there wasn't anything close enough to the hotel to grab food in 20 minutes, I ended up going to the gift shop and overpaying for a bag of nuts so I'd not starve to death.
The event seemed to be understaffed, but they did damn well for who they had. This was primarily due to the hurricane. However, once I got stuck in the back room for day two, I saw a lot less of the judges. Fortunately, I didn't ever need one, but had the need been there, I would have wasted precious game time trying to find one. On the other hand, the score keepers had the new pairings for each round out freakin' fast. With such a complicated ranking/pairing system, those two have to get some mad props for their work.
Last, but not least, the games. Overall, I went 3 (W) and 5 (L) in the tournament. But that is a very deceiving record, as nearly all my games came down to the last couple or THE last roll of the game. It was that way in 4 of the 5 losses. I very easily could have gone 7-1 had those dice gone my way instead of my opponents. But I'm not bitter at all. These games were so close. I was thrilled. There was nothing better for me than to have such excellent, close games against great opponents. It is why I play 40k, so it didn't even matter to me that I lost 5 games. You'll see more detail on the games themselves soon.
The one thing I didn't like, was the terrain. To put it simply, it took my army out of the running very early on. I was at a very clear disadvantage because 4 of the 7 pieces of terrain completely blocked LOS on everything but the largest miniatures out there. That meant my army's prime strength, shooting, was drastically reduced in power. In fact, I'm fairly certain that I had less than 5% of all my long range shots all weekend hitting non-cover saved targets. EVERYTHING had cover or was blocked from line of sight by the terrain. It forced me to revise my tactics completely, but I did the best I could with whatever the game/board gave me. Had I not have the experience I had with the Black Templars and the gunline list, I surely would have lost every game I played. It becomes obvious how hindered my list was when I tell you that I won a game scoring a paltry 215 victory points.
The problems with the terrain only got worse as the event wore on, as players seemed to push the terrain more and more clumped in the middle. This pretty much killed any open fire lanes and the ability to be maneuverable safely. Had I known what I do now about the terrain, I'd have made some changes to the list to account for it. But its okay, as the terrain really is a minor complaint in a very excellent weekend. However, I'm happy that I wasn't the only one who was annoyed by the terrain (more here).
As you'll notice in the battle reports, I feel that the gunline list needs some revisions for next year's Nova. These types of list were severely disadvantaged, so I will rectify the issue for next year. I found myself not using the Crusader squads all that much, especially since they usually found themselves riding in a razorback all game. Bill and I talked about some list changes for both of our lists, so you'll see posts later about them. My DDP list would have done extremely well in this tournament, as would the MSU PotMS list. But one cannot have everything! ;)
Anyway, expect the battle reports soon! Good night all!