Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sour Grapes - a NOVA review and soapbox

It's been a while, but after the pre-NOVA frenzy, I've had to rebalance time back toward the family and other aspects of life.  As I and others have said once or twice, life is about balance, and happiness is about wanting what you already have.  My first NOVA post was all about the starry-eyed stuff, the "weekend high" and first reactions.  All of which remain spot-on.  I didn't really touch on any negative aspects, and I'll take the time to do so here to be balanced - but fair warning to the non-attending naysayers; I won't be kind to you.  Which brings me to a big theme of this post: sour grapes.

Maybe it's human nature, maybe it's our 40k community - but I have to say I'm frankly disappointed in quite a few of the vocal netizens of this community after reading many threads and posts about NOVA.  More precisely - the forum discussions and comments after the review posts I think are the most disturbing.  The vast majority of the posted reviews have, and rightly so, both a "good" and a "bad" section, and kudos to all those that have posted reviews.  They are an excellent anecdotal balance for Mike's survey numbers, especially once you learn how to spot the hyperbole.  What frustrates me the most however, are the continuing underlying themes of:

  1. Most tournament players are intentional WAAC cheaters;
  2. Mike (and other TOs by extension) is (are) trying to hide something;
  3. and most popularly, some combination of the two.

These mindsets are simply a detriment to the social aspect of this hobby, and continuing to beat these idiotic drums pushes more people to FoW, WarmaHordes, and other systems, reducing the already small community.  Pathetic not only because they are laughably unrealistic, they are in direct opposition to the "why we do this" of the hobby.  If we only ever wanted to play 40k with a few friends, it would be a typical $25-$100 boardgame.  Not something we spend thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on.  I certainly don't want to only ever face at most the few people that I know well enough to go have a beer and pretzels with, or at the bottom of the spectrum - who are too stupid or too timid to know better or confront me because I have to cheat to win.  These attitudes are nothing more than sour grapes - the result of a combo of unrealistic expectations and unrealized wishes.

On the other hand - neither should anyone take the Polyanna approach.  Are there bad apples that do these things?  Most certainly.  They are the very, very few; we've all met or played against one at some point.  Most of us aren't so desperate that we'll continue to play them and play with other people - and we can always do this (big surprise) because we can find other players that aren't like this.  By extension, it is immature and astonishingly rude to cast these same aspersions on all tournament players and TOs.  Especially considering the effort it takes to put one of these events on - even a smaller tournament is stressful at the least - and often at personal cost.  As far as my experience refereeing goes, and as a sop to the whines about cheating - there is a simply fantastic article here on 23lines that captures it far more eloquently than I could, and I'd simply end up plagiarizing if I tried.

Rant for the most part over and on to the hopefully constructive part of the post - a few brief comments that comprise the totality of my "negative" review of NOVA:

A few words about terrain.  I knew I would be attending the NOVA for a *very* long time in advance and made sure to research the eminently available winning conditions - objectives, table quarters, kill points.  Mike was equally very clear about the terrain composition and layout, and included detailed pictures and examples well in advance.  At least to me, considering the expenses and effort involved in just being there - complaining about the terrain is simply a reflection of a lack of preparation.  I and many others built our forces very specifically taking both the winning conditions and the terrain into heavy consideration.  Those who did, generally did pretty well.  I will commiserate to some degree with anyone who asked a ref to check placement of terrain pieces and didn't have a satisfactory response - that wasn't my experience.  I asked at least three times and refs moved the terrain back to reasonable placement, usually with a measuring tape to make sure.  Same with objectives.  To those who've whined endlessly - I give you the 5 P's.  In all fairness, if I'd spent more time studying the rules instead of endlessly tweaking my army list, I would (hopefully) have made fewer rules gaffes myself, so 5 P's right back at me.  At least I'll admit it though.

On to the hotel. The venue was serviceable and did the job, but I would guess the mindset going in was to seek out and use a higher-end venue to put a touch of additional class on the event, and I think in this respect it didn't perform as expected.  Having a pretty lobby, marble floors, and generally polite waitstaff doesn't make up for a lack of (or being charged significantly for) utility/convenience.  While I thought the room price was spectacular; any money I saved on the room went to the valet-only parking.  My biggest complaint was less about the hotel and more about the location - Verizon had horrific service (I had zero bars on the 16th floor, to say nothing of the basement), coupled with the hotel charging some shockingly high fees for Internet service (consider too that this is typical for any higher end hotel).  For me, this was a bad situation made drastically worse due to the hurricane, and like Jawaballs and many other players, I definitely paid a price at home for playing with my little army men instead of being home. During. A. Hurricane.  Others have touched on the issues with food and drinks and offered some great suggestions - I'll second pretty much any and all of those suggestions; not necessarily a hotel issue as much as either a function of location, location, location or additional planning by the TO and staff.  A factor I haven't seen mentioned in too many of the reviews is this: had there not been a hurricane, my family would have been at the hotel, hamming up the pool, checking in on me now and then, and heading out to the museums and whatnot in D.C. for most of the weekend.  As this was absolutely part of the plan when I purchased the tickets, and also for Mike in selecting that venue, this was a major factor for me that could have mitigated the cons - but due to some unforeseen complications, simply didn't.  The bottom line though is the venue worked, and I think that all things considered, it worked pretty well, but that was more a testament to the planning and execution of everything else going off more or less without a major hitch.  This is the one area that I felt could have been better, but most of my complaints are about the location rather than the venue itself.

If you've made it this far, kudos.  These are just some things I had to get out of my head so I can focus on more productive things.  I'll get my batreps up eventually - and a decent article about the fexstar list and its performance is in the works.  Before I forget though, kudos to Nick Nanavati, one of the top players around, who took Tyranids to the Battle of Blobs Park and went 4-0, winning most battle points for the tournament.  He has two batreps up so far - so go read 'em already!


  1. Certainly read to me like an attempt at constructive criticism - and from other accounts, pretty fair and balanced too.

  2. Very nice review, and thank you for posting such an accurate and reasonable account of Nova (I was there and agree with everything you had to say above). Your post demonstrates something critical that all those whiney, nerd-rage, fabrications from disgruntled attendees who raced to internet to slam the event / those who put a TON of effort into making it possible, missed; perspective!

  3. @TKE - thanks for the feedback; hopefully it was a successful attempt. ;)

    @Joe - I tried to keep it honest; especially as a volunteer staff member, I wanted to avoid bias. Really liked your Blobs park batreps btw. Thanks!