Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sister's of Battle (thoughts...and other such)

Coming soon to a corner near you...need to digest...and stop raging...

The Good, the bad...and the Ugly (Krystal Keep RTT 07/23)

Okay, this one's not going to be QUITE as in depth as Buckey Battle's event...but that's because I'm tired, overheated and babysitting a crappy dog.

This last Saturday, I went to an event at my local FLGS...the Krystal Keep.
I have to thank them for both hosting an event, and finding a TO to cover for...well me, most often. I got to play, and I didn't have to stress setting up/running an event in this miserable work-summer I've been having...yay! :)
That being said, the 'bad' & 'ugly' have ZERO reflection on the store, as they merely allowed a player to run one...one he asked about running, was not asked to.

The good;
well...it was a tournament?
honestly, he ran an event...stepped up to swing the bat...and I was able to step out of reality for a few hours and horse around with some friends. 'nuff said?
-price; 10$ entry fee. This seems to be on the low end for many events, and I was happy. It's a price-point I try to maintain for my events, to make it cheaper for traveling players (with gas prices) and younger players (less hard to get the 'rents to pay up).
-prize support; excellent for the entry. I don't know the totals off the top of my head, but with only 14 players on a $10 entry, I THINK it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $250-300(ish). With GW support kickback, that still equates into full money=prizes. :)
-terrain; adequate. Though that word does not imply perfection, I have grown (over the years) to be HAPPY AS HELL with 'adequate'! It could have been a little more consistent, and maybe a bit denser, but I only saw a VERY few of the tables we used that were truly sparse (ie;20% or less). That happened to punish my last opponent, as we got one of them, but overall did NOT seem to dominate the play.

The Bad
scoring records; poor at best. Having ONLY a sheet the PLAYER keeps in hand all day, then turned in at the end, is not a very good...or transparent...method of tracking. It can work, but only in a smaller event where everyone truly knows one another.

that's about all I would call 'bad'...

The Ugly (and it was very...)
-random pairings; see my rant, and ALL that entails, in my 'Buckeye Battles' entry...then subtract the mood of happy from all the good they implemented. That about says it all. Please, people, Swiss does NOT = 'random pairings'...just STOP!
-random scenarois; WTF? okay, this was VERY bad. On TWO fronts!
a) the potential for playing the same scenario each round (happened to me and one other)
b) the fact that each TABLE each ROUND rolled randomly, allowing for NO consistency between played rounds/victory conditions.
This is just bad, guys, and smacks of no small amount of laziness (or inexperience). At a 'tournament', some semblance of regularity and competitiveness should be expected. Not necessarily pure competition uber alles, but a modicum of uniformity needs to be maintained.
If, as a TO, you MUST randomize your scenarios out of the book...at least randomize per round for everybody across the board, not each game being potentially different. Much gnashing of teeth was heard.
-engagement; walk it(or talk it). There was little (or no) walking about the tables by the TO. In fact, for the most part, I saw him playing his own games (once as a ringer, as someone dropped out...but otherwise they just seemed to be pick-ups). This is also BAD...as in 'cross the streams' level bad.
You need to establish your face, develop a rapport and be aware of potentially developing issues (with scoring, scenarios, rules OR personalities) at every stage of an event you run. It establishes authority without assiness, involvement without intrusiveness and confidence in the event (or future ones).

Overall, without changes, I would NOT attend an event like this one again...
the TO was totally new. This was his first event, and at the end he took a great deal of feedback from myself and others. If he implements a majority of it (from whichever sources, or all of them) his reputation AND events should quickly grow.

I'm giving him another shot, if he steps up to swing the bat again, and hope that he has learned.
I'm too tired and old to do it all the time anymore :D

Monday, July 18, 2011

How I've spent the last four months (and change)

Howdy, Helpless Will back in the author's chair. Why? I blame EAP's rapidly accelerating senility, but hey, it's what happens when one achieves such advanced age. So, what I've been up to lately, and by "lately" I mean since the third week of February until a couple of days ago;

Yup, the oft mentioned Warhound is complete. My mother, decided that her perpetually adolescent eldest child needed a tremendously cool gift this past Christmas. I've said it before about a number of things, and I'm sure I'll say it again, "Thanks Mom!"

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. To me, these speak a few more than that. Sure, they speak to how a large chunk of my time has disappeared since late February, but there's a lot more associated with them, when I look them over.

Naturally, over the course of a project of this length, a lot went on outside of it. Without going into too much detail, the standouts on this one were, in no particular order, the death of a friend, my mother's second go round with cancer, my sister's first go round with it, my room mate's emergency appendectomy, and many lesser examples of ill fortune. The first half of this year has been expensive, stressful, and possessed of an overarching stupid and / or tragic sort of theme. In my direct experience, I was far from alone in this. Good friends have had their own share of misfortune, some much more severe than my own. It's not like it was my appendix that blew up after all.

Some pretty cool things have happened also. Two pregnancies within my circle of friends. A couple of friends are employed again after entirely too much time out of work. Every health emergency listed above has turned out about as well as could be hoped for, though my kid sister still has some lingering issues, they're not life threatening.

So, anyway, I got a Chaos Warhound for Christmas. I started putting it together in late February. It took until mid-July to finish it. It would have been done sooner but for all the distractions real life can throw at you. Now that it's finished, I can't look at it without a lot of pride, satisfaction, and contemplation of all that occurred during its construction.

Glad that's done with. Here's hoping I won't repeat any of it anytime soon. Here's some more pics. Enjoy these fine examples of my thoroughly mediocre painting skills, and apologies for the quality of the pics. Replacing my cell phone with a real camera is on the list of things to do.

Next up? A hint;

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The good, the bad...and the Ugly (Buckeye Battles 40k GT)

so I'm a little over a week late with this, but I have been...well, busy is a word.

I went to the Buckeye Battles 40k GT a little over a week ago. (July 8th). I haven't attended a GT in a while, but a Friday event allowed me to attend without having to get a schedule change approved...allowing me to go to more than one Tourney in the same month.
I had some concerns about format, but Friday tourney uber-alles and I went.

We'll start with the GOOD;
-Terrain: Very good. Each table achieved a solid 23-28%. Most of the tables were thematic and aesthetically appealing, with a great deal of unique and carefully crafted pieces. Those that were populated with 'stock' terrain (abundantly available pieces from either GW, or a local guy who produces bits) were still laid out well, and cohesive. There were very few tables that did not make the grade, and for the most part they went unused (as there were just around 30 players, and spare tables if they went over).
-Judge: (same as TO, but how he handled himself as a judge here). He was a walker...my personally preferred method. He walked about, observed the games and armies. He talked to people when appropriate, merely observed when things were 'on the line', and was amiable. He ruled when he knew, referenced the books when he wasn't 100% and asked experienced players for input when available (a good trait). Excellent all the way 'round.
-Venue: barely tight. I 'rubbed butts' in only one round, but the space was maximized well with VERY little cramping. On a large stage at a universtity, set up for both the Fantasy event (Sat/Sun) and 40k (Fri) they utilized the space VERY well...and theatre seats provided GREAT between round resting. The only negative here was on-site food services...they were quite lacking (but compensated for by foresight on the TO's part, and delivered pizza).
-Organization: hiccups resulted (as far as I could tell) solely from late arrivals pushing us back by 30min. This was slightly made up by shortening a break when all players were finished on a round, and properly rested.
-Entry; 15$ for a GT (without much else for monetary considerations, and lunch included)? Okay, I'm loving it! (especially with the level of prize support...this was awesomesauce, even though I didn't really win anything...winning!)

The BAD;
-Parking: was a bit confusing, some signs discouraging parking in a restricted lot would have prevented me from having to move the car...but that was minor.
-Food Services: with a GT, it's usually a good idea to have a venue that has in-house food services. Less coordination on a TO's part is always good for a smoother event, lower stress levels to TO/players...and making certain it is 100% clear to all players (in advance) is important. GT's are grinding, on occasion, and having amenities for all reduces that stressor.
-Scenarios: when utilizing non-standard scenarios, you need to go to GREAT lengths to insure clarity. Two of the scenarios we played (6 were posted on the website, 4 were used for the 4 rounds) were unclear as to how they were scored. Only ONE was egregious though (stating annihilation, while actually utilizing only VPs), but knowing in advance that VPs were pretty much the ONLY kill-score method may have altered my list choices...but only MAY have. Again, these are minor gripes, as overall this only created a small amount of confusion (that was clarified right before round-start for the most part).
-Time; Four 2+ hour rounds in one day...after a long drive there, followed by a long drive back...'nuff said...it was a grind, and I have grown OLD! :D

-Forgeworld; this MAY be the last FW event I ever play in. I accepted that I may be 'forge-worlded' out...but I had no real idea (not owning all the books) how FOUL some of the newer forgeworld material can be. Land Raider Achilles? Holy-Grud! I had NO answer, other than close assault, to these. And with a POTMS Vindicator using them as cover, my DW wasn't getting close...I felt like a 9 year old dropped into a polar-bear paddock.
If you are going to allow FW (no super-heavies/gargantuan/flyers), you have to make allowances for certain factors. My personal collection involves flyers, as I like them from an Apoc standpoint...and do not have the money to dig in deep for these things. Allowing flyers would have balanced some of the more OP ground forces, and not broken the system. (I think a Thunderbolt would have had the same overall impact in the event, as an Achilles...but that's me).
For a competitive event, with a great deal of prize support (from a per-player to $value ratio), FW should go. There is NO balancing factor, little method of coming up with a true metric for assessing your competitiveness (as there are few FW events, there are fewer opportunities to assess certain synergies) and no real method of assessing pairing factors beyond pure scores (as this event seemed to have done in some fashion)...it really throws Strength of Schedule out the window (see next).
-Pairings; Pairings for events like this, are normally swiss system...or some other method that involves 1st round random, and following round vs like ranked opponents.
Yet we received the packets, which stated pairings would be random...and scoring would involve bonuses based on opponent SoS.
WTF??? I had not seen this on the website, which may be a failing of mine for research...but I looked again and still didn't find this info.
I can honestly say, excepting for my round 1 opponent, I should not have faced (under normal pairing systems) ANY of my following opponents. Not even close.
Also, my 2nd round game appeared to have been a win for me (I assume from some SoS adjustment) vs the close loss my opponent and I thought I had suffered. That confusion led me to play differently in my 3rd and 4th rounds (more relaxed and uncaring) vs with clarity and sense of purpose.
This was TERRIBLE...utterly. Random pairings have no place in a competitive event. I get the intent, and none of it was done with intent to be obtuse or bollox people up...it was done (likely) to assist the TO in scoring and pairing times (as he was using, I think, the same system for both events...and had a much larger group playing for the rest of the GT over the weekend...AND seemed to be flying solo). That is not to intimate laziness, it is simple efficiency..I get it, and understand it...but wholly DON'T espouse it.
I DON'T like flying through an event with NO idea how the spread is playing, who is where on the tables...and I REALLY didn't like the randomness pulling me a PERFECT opponent in the last round (for me). I tabled him. I DON'T like tabling people, and I don't like TOTALLY one-sided games...he was crushed, but fortunately smiling the whole way (crushed in a game sense, not spirit sense).
-Sporstmanship; I waffled on this one, as it can be a taste issue more than anything...and waffled on where to place this (bad, or ugly).
But my 3rd round opponent clinched it for me. I have seen this guy in action, and he CAN be a little...pushy/arsey. I ran an event with him, and he was NOT easygoing in any game I observed (two of the three)...and nearly caused a real altercation one round. Yet the entire game (with me) he was insidiously fawning and complimentary. My army is painted well, from a TABLETOP perspective. Yet listening to him, I had a golden-daemon level army...with shading far above and beyond any skill level he'd seen. My land raider was shaded and highlighted beyond pro-quality...etc etc etc (you get the point). The thing wasn't even finished, just 'mostly' there. I cheated with washes, and hadn't even blacklined.
He was fishing for 'favorite opponent' votes with everyone, as far as I could tell...and if he faced any of the 'kids', that would have worked. I just smiled, swallowed my pride, and played on.
It's not that he was 'bad'. He was just fishing. If you're on the table at an event, you should play as you normally play in a tourney...not go in with a false smile. I am not espousing 'assy' play, but be honest with yourself and your opponent. Platitudes and alligator tears are insulting to a savvy/empathic opponent.
If you are going to 'include' sportsmanship, as part of a 'Best Overall' scoring, you should also make a clear 'checklist'. The scoring for this was a 'Judge' call, with adjustments based on observed attitudes/altercations/table tense-ness. I don't care HOW engaged you are, this will not reflect a totally objective view. My 3rd opponent 'ramped up' his 'compliments' on my painting whenever the TO hove into view...this was fairly obvious to me, yet would not have been if the TO was on the move elsewhere (and my opponent seemed to be watching). I also can say, that unless loud and heated, the TO could very well have missed some minor altercations.
If it scores into overall, frankly, it should be in the hands of the players...not an ephemeral and un-quantifiable fashion.

Overall, I DID enjoy myself greatly.
I played 4 people I had never played before (yayyy travelling), and did not repeat a single army type for opponent.
I will reconsider returning next year, but will probably not if the scoring AND FW restrictions/allowances stay totally the same.


ground under is more like it,
sorry for no posts of late...

Working on it now :)