The first annual Dark Star GT has come and gone. It was certainly an enjoyable weekend, for sure. The event itself ran without a major hitch that I could see, but there were a couple minor ones. Even with those things, I would definitely recommend attending in the future. I'll start off with the good things, as there were quite a few more of those, then I'll move on to the cons. I'll also talk briefly about the missions, but I'll get more into detail in my battle reports. In another post, I'll talk about my list and how it did.
But before we get to that, I get to explain how I was facing an uphill battle to attend this tournament. As you all know, I lost 8 fully painted Crusaders to the Daemonic Rubber of Chaos™ a week before the event. Fortunately, that was recoverable as I had backup painted marines, albeit in the old paint scheme. Well, almost all painted (not the PW dudes). Anyway, the Friday before the tournament, I drove myself down to the Twin Cities from here in Grand Forks. Which is a 5 hour drive. I arrived sometime in the late afternoon/early evening and was starting to unload my car to bring into my friend's place. Then the unimaginable happened, my "carrying case" for my miniatures got caught on the trunk hinge and flipped it upside down. And yes, the cover came off. Down fell everything in my army a good 5 feet onto concrete. My Razorbacks survived the fall, but only because they landed on my two previously beautifully painted Vindicators! The fall was not kind to the Vindis. They were shattered into a billion little pieces, with the plastic pretty much exploding into random chunks. They weren't salvageable, believe me. So much for Power of the Machine Spirit... My Crusaders also broke up pretty good, as well as the Land Speeders. Had I been thinking, I'd have taken pictures...but I wasn't. I was pissed and threw the Vindicator pieces away (in retrospect, it would have been great terrain). Needless to say, I had to make some emergency purchases at a local game store. I spent until 3:30am that night putting my army back together. I don't think there were very many people at the GT that didn't come over and say sorry about the army. So yeah, the deck was stacked against me. lol! But let's get onto the important stuff shall we? ;)
The first thing about the event that impressed me was how smooth everything was organizationally. While the Dark Star GT wasn't Nova Open by any means, handling 60 players and extras, is no easy feat. The TO ran this event flawlessly. The scoring and pairing was done timely and accurately. There was plenty of time for games, as well as time between rounds. As far as I know, no one got put on the same table twice unless they were on the top tables (and possibly not even then). I was annoyed by the use of the INAT FAQ document, but that is more so because I disagree with the way INAT is formed and the a lot of the rulings in there (not to mention rule changes). Fortunately, I never had to call a judge over to my tables for a rules dispute.
A minor complaint was concerning the paint judging. There were a couple guys going around doing the scoring, but they took a VERY long time on each individual army. This caused them to get backed up a little bit and having to come around to tables to do scoring during games. Obviously, this could have caused problems during close games or those with very little time remaining. The judges didn't cause an issue for me when they came during my Game Two, but I can envision some being annoyed by it.
The venue itself was spacious and I didn't have to worry about feeling like I was rubbing asses with the dude behind me all day. My Verizon smartphone didn't get service in the building, but they did have free WiFi that we just signed onto that made the lack of service barely noticeable. In addition, they had an attached restaurant that quite a few of us went to for lunch.
Going to the actual game-play aspect, I wish there would have been more balance in the missions, but overall, they were decent. Only one of them (Game Three) was truly broken and unplayable in my opinion. It was a modified kill point mission, which wouldn't be a bad thing entirely if it had another type of objective to balance it out. But there wasn't. That was the only mission I knew I couldn't win even before I set my models on the board. Hulksmash (running footslogging GKs) definitely got some help from the missions, but to his credit, he played extremely well according to his opponents. The terrain was up in the air though. Some of the tables had way, way too much terrain. Others had way too little. It wasn't consistent at all. And there were maybe only 20% of the tables that featured a good BLOS piece of terrain, though sometimes it wasn't in the center of the board. Don't get me wrong, the terrain itself looked amazing, but it needed to be better thought out.
Finally, I got to meet a lot of new people. Several Black Templars players (including one who betrayed the Emperor for xenos scum!), Hulksmash, Timmah, and a slew of other cool ass people. Everyone was reasonably pleasant and got a lot of cool info on things like destroyed vehicle markers, where to go for display boards, and the like. It was a good time and I am happy I went. Battle reports coming up! :D