NOVA 2019, Part 2: The Big Titty Werewolf Appreciator Has Logged On

An article by    Battle Reports Events and Challenges Road to NoVA        0

Yesterday I gave a long, rambling rundown of my first two days playing in the NOVA 2019 40k Grand Tournament. You either didn’t read that update or have ~t h e  b r a i n w o r m s~ and want to read another 5,000 words about toddler vomit and losing games. Let’s jump right in, I guess.

Saturday

6:55 AM

Once I get into the habit of waking up at the same time every day, that’s generally when I wake up. So I find it incredibly difficult to sleep in. This is to my advantage as a dad because another thing that people do not really tell you about having kids is that children love to wake up ass-early every day and the first thing they want to do when that happens is wake you up. I’ll never forget the first time this happened. We still had our son in a crib with tall sides and I woke up one Tuesday morning around 6 am, looked over at the baby monitor to check on him and noticed he wasn’t in his crib. I bolted up, terrified. This woke my wife up and asked me what was wrong. But before I could tell her, our door burst open and my son comes running into our room screaming “DAAADAAAAAAA!”

When this happens to you, there are several immediate consequences you’ll have to deal with:

  1. You have to switch from a crib situation to a bed, because now that your child has demonstrated that they can just climb out of the crib, you want to avoid forcing them to do that because they can hurt themselves falling. So you have to accommodate their bullshit.
  2. This means that now bedtime will become an enormous fucking hassle, because you can’t just leave your child in a walled cell and let them figure it out. No, now they can just get out of bed, walk right out of their rooms, and be like “hey, what’s going on in here? Y’all trying to relax? Is daddy trying to get fresh with mommy? NOT ON MY WATCH!” This kicks off a multi-month battle of wills in which you attempt to teach your child that bedtime is bedtime and they need to Go The Fuck To Sleep.
  3. You will never again be able to sleep in, because every day at dawn’s first light, your child will rouse from their slumber and come running into your room to climb into bed with you.
  4. Generally, sleeping with a toddler sucks ass. They fidget a lot, don’t care about things like “how much space you have,” and tend to turn sideways so that their legs are jammed into your side and their head into your partner’s. So once that little jerklet is up, one of you is going to have to get up. You may be thinking “Well, I’ll just put them back in bed,” but I’ll refer you to point 2 on why that generally doesn’t work.
  5. Periodically, and especially when you first switch to a bed from a crib, your child will wake up at 2 or 3 am or some other ungodly hour and come running into your room. This is the worst, and will ruin your night every time it happens.

Anyways, the point is that I was up before the alarm. Though with no preregistration, we had more time to sleep and prep. So mostly I just missed out on an extra hour of much-needed sleep. The upside is that it gave me time to do a final editing pass on Jacks’ Custodes Hot Take.

8:05 AM

Greg and I shuffle back into the hotel restaurant for breakfast. It’s still not amazing, but this morning they’ve got biscuits and sausage gravy, which is absolutely my jam. Er, gravy. You get the point. We end up eating with Liam, Naramyth/Cyle, and his Warhog teammate Chase. We start talking about the finer points of Ork society and conclude that Runtherds are basically Ork middle managers. Guys who will leave your clan if they aren’t promoted, but aren’t competent or big enough to be Nobz or trust with Mega Armor. Yeah, they’d like to find better work, but the market for someone whose only relevant skills are “whipping the shit out of other people and yelling” is pretty soft and also he’s “got grots of his own at home and needs the teef.” Probably goes home after a rough day Grotdriving and has to get an earful from his wife Sharon about how the “Grots here ain’t seen their father in weeks,” and “he oughta be the warboss.” I’m not saying Runtherds have the worst jobs in the 40k universe (though now that I think of it, that’ll probably be an article that Greg and I write soon), but it’s pretty bad.

We also talk about Goonhammer some more, and Chase tells us that he doesn’t read it in a very “I’m too cool for that shit” way. To be fair to Chase, he might be. He’s certainly doing better than Liam, Greg, and I in the GT right now. When he walks away to get another plate, Cyle tells us that he’s actually a big fan of Buttscribe and is just trying to play it cool.

8:58 AM

Greg and I are heading down to the tournament floor. We share the elevator with a personable gentleman named Thaddeus, who has a lovely-painted Necron army. He’s also 1 and 2, and just wants to have fun today. I wish him luck.

9:30 AM

We are standing around waiting for Round 4 to start. The pairings aren’t even up yet. There’s a situation regarding the outcome of a game in round 3 and it’s holding up the whole event. This is a surprise to me, because I was under the impression that NOVA did not change results and that once input, they were final. The delay means that no one is in the right place when the round is announced, but the upside is that it will ultimately fuck up Greg’s lunch plans and lead to him trying to eat a plate of falafel and rice with his bare hands out of a bag like a dumpster person.
Editor’s note: The situation in question involved fellow Goonhammer author James “Boon” Kelling

9:40 AM

The round finally starts. It turns out, I’m playing against Thaddeus’ Necrons. This is the kind of shit that continually happens at NOVA. You meet someone for the first time ever or see someone’s army and then you have to play them an hour later. Anyways, Thaddeus is a chill dude, but his army is a real chore for mine to go up against. I’ve played against Necrons many times with my buddy Dan, and Thaddeus’ entire army has the FLY keyword, which means I’m going to get shot every turn with my combat-heavy army. Still, we’re both on 1 win and this is a very winnable game for me. It will also end up being the closest game I play all weekend, so I may as well dive into this one a bit more.

Get ready for some Necron bullshit

We’re on table 123, which sucks ass because it’s one of like 6 tables that have no side areas to place minis on. That means I’ll end up standing all game. We both pick progressive and I take Strike the Rank and File. Thaddeus’ army has no troops, so that’s basically four free points for me. In my biggest mistake of the day, I take Marked for Death and pick the Scarabs, both squads of Destroyers, and the Tomb Blades, figuring his Wraiths might be too hard to take down. Instead, they end up being the easiest and first things to drop, meaning that I kind of fucked myself out of 2 easy points by not taking them. That’s enough to cost me the game, but there are a few other things that will swing it.

I win the first turn roll-off, but Thaddeus Seizes the Initiative and chooses to go first. I manage to survive some turn 1 shooting and use the Kytan to take out some Wraiths as my other stuff moves into position. He uses his second turn to fall back and wipe out the Kytan with Destroyer Protocols while pressing forward with the bulk of the army. I drop my Bloodletters on turn 2 and in a turn of incredibly poor luck, fail to kill one of the Wraiths, which is a costly mistake. Most of them get mowed down by Tomb Blades. Thaddeus uses Veil to put one squad of Destroyers in my backfield, and I manage to survive their shooting and kill them with some lucky shooting of my own  with Abaddon (basically I hit a 3-damage shot with the Talon of Horus on the final Destroyer) after my sorcerer suffers a perils trying to Warptime him into combat with them. The Sorcerer himself is able to advance + charge and kill the Cryptek.

Pictured: A winnable situation that went real bad

By the end of the game there’s precious little left and I need to kill two things to secure a win: a Destroyer Lord with 2 wounds left in my deployment zone and 8 Tomb Blades. I’ve got Abaddon, a Dark Apostle, two sorcerers, and Huron at this point. I put Huron and a sorcerer on the Destroyer Lord and everything else on the Tomb Blades. In a catastrophically bad round of combat, Huron and the Sorcerer do zero wounds to the Destroyer Lord and are killed in return, while Abaddon only manages to fell 6 Tomb Blades and the Apostle and Sorcerer do nothing. The end result is that I lose 23-21 in a game that was close and fun, but frustrating because I felt like I could have won if I’d made better decisions with regard to objectives.

Anyways, Thaddeus is a chill dude with a nice army and I wish him luck in his next games and earnestly mean it. Great game. Still kicking myself for not marking the Wraiths.

11:53 AM

Note: For optimal reading experience, please play the following media while reading.

 

Greg walks over while I’m on turn 6. His game is over. He has a dazed, faraway look on his face.

I ask him how it went. He holds out his thumb sideways, gladiator style, then titters it up and down. Oh man, this is it, isn’t it? He slowly raises his thumb skyward and smiles. My face lights up. Greg has won his first game in over a year and a half.

Greg.

Has.

Won.

A.

GAME!!!

After 28 straight losses, Greg has won his first game, and he has done so at the NOVA Warhammer 40,000 GT.

I yell, and probably piss off some people around us. Who cares? Fuck them. We hug. I always knew Greg was gonna win a game at NOVA, but it’s good to see that he’s managed to follow through. I am messaging everyone on Discord about it. People are going fuckin nuts, throwing up emojis, giving each other hugs, high-fiving strangers, openly weeping with joy. The sun breaks through the clouds. Spirits lift. Murderous heads of state consider peace. Convicts who have been wrongfully imprisoned feel hope for the first time. Anything is possible in this brave new world.

(you may now stop listening to the music)

12:24 PM

Lunch time. The late round 1 start means everyone is scrambling to get lunch. I head upstairs and meet Greg, Boon, Liam, and Crion for lunch. Boon’s recommending the Cajun food truck. Sure, let’s get some fuckin po’ boys. They take a while, but not as long as the falafel truck, apparently. They’re pretty good! 8/10. The shrimp is well-fried and the Boon and I talk baseball. I’m an Astros fan, so it is incredibly easy and fun for me to talk about baseball right now. Having the best record in baseball and being 10.5 games up in your division will do that, though. Boon’s a Twins fan, so he’s also having a fun season.

While we’re waiting for food, Greg is looking through lists near the bottom of the event, i.e. our eventual opponents. He notices a Tau list that has 5 riptides in it, which isn’t legal. We openly wonder what’s going on there.

1:00 PM

Alright, time for game 5. Well, fuck. I know immediately that game 5 is not winnable for me. A lot of people have asked me why I don’t play in the Narrative. Several did this after they saw my army, ha ha. Thanks, dickheads. I mean, realistically, the Narrative is probably the correct event for me, but I enjoy playing in the GT and going hard. Too many people in the Narrative (though certainly not most) seem like they’re bringing GT lists with the hope of crushing weaker competition, and I’d rather just get blown out by real armies. Which, is good I guess, because that’s what happened in this game.

The biggest challenge for me is that I’m not willing to compromise on painting quality, and I’m not super-interested in tripling up on units to have an army for one event. I usually only play in one or two events in a year, and although I play a few games of 40k each month, most of those are more narrative games for the campaign I’m running. So when people ask me “Why aren’t you bringing three Lords Discordant?” my answer is generally always going to be “because I only painted one.” And that’s also why the armies I bring to NOVA are usually shitty. I double up on some things, but for big, complicated models like the Discordant I’m not going to rush painting three of them real shitty just to get wins at the tournament level. Yes, I know that means I’m not going to win. And yeah, I’m OK with that. At some point on day 3 someone I know who isn’t in the GT will ask me what the prize is for winning and I will realize that it had never occurred to me that the event even had a prize because the possibility that I could see some reward for play in the GT had never even entered my mind.

This is a very roundabout way to say that not every game in the NOVA GT is a winnable one for my army. I usually hope/expect that at least half of them will be winnable, and while last year I probably had five winnable games (and, honestly, a better army), this year it was only four. Game 5 was not one of them.

Pictured: Me, about to get completely wrecked.

My opponent in Game 5 was Samuel Frey, a generally amiable sort with an army that looks like mine would if I was more invested in winning and less invested in writing 600-word essays on why it’s cool to lose, actually. He’s running three Flawless Host Lords Discordant, a Winged Khorne Daemon Prince, a 30-Plaguebearer blob with Bilepiper, and some Brimstone Horrors. Oh and also three Purge Hellforged Deredeos and a Hellforged Leviathan. It’s a lot of butcher cannon shots and they spend turn 1 taking out my Kytan. Thankfully, it doesn’t explode this time, but that’s probably because I doggedly saved the CP reroll for it.

Here’s the other thing: Sam’s dice were on fire, and mine were just absolute garbage. I expected to lose this game, but I expected to score more points doing it. I suffered a Perils of the warp with every single psyker, and because I was up against Daemons, ended up losing every one of them to Perils wounds. I also had abysmal luck working on the Plaguebearers, and wasn’t able to break through his screens in time to do much. I mention that this is the worst luck I’ve had since game 1, when my Kytan blew up and took out my whole army, and Sam asks me “oh you’re that guy?”, which means that by now word of my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad game 1 has now spread. Cool. That’s cool. This is fine. Everything’s fine.

Midway through the game our friends SD47 and pwong show up to hang out. They’re wandering the convention floor and spectating games. Extremely cool dudes, and it’s fun having them around. I tell them to fill out copies of the survey that Games Workshop has been handing out to players. It’s asking things like “when you play 40k, do you use points or power level?” and “how often should GW revisit points values?” They handed out a similar one at Adepticon, I’m told.

By the end of the game I’d taken out the Plaguebearers, the Daemon Prince, and a Lord Discordant, but didn’t have much else to show for my efforts. It’s a complete beatdown, but I can pack up early so it’s not the end of the world. At this point I’m 1-4 and guaranteed to finish worse than I did last year. That sucks, given that my goal was 4-2, but hey, that means that next year’s goal is going to be even easier. Extremely Tzeentch Voice: Just as planned.

3:52 PM

I’m checking in on my other Goonhammer peeps. Naramyth won again, so he’s 4-2. Liam lost and is now 2-3, so that’s another one out of the running for 4-2. I run into Andy, the guy who beat me in round 2 last year. He’s pretty cool and I hope he’s doing well in the GT this year. He’s not, but it’s cool to catch up.

4:08 PM

I head back upstairs and grab a beer with the Goonhammer crew. Greg talks about his game, which was another loss but went to turn six, and gives us this gem:

Actively participating in six turns of Warhammer is exhausting.

– Greg

I regale those who haven’t heard yet with the tale of how I courageously lost my entire army to my own Kytan’s exploding ass, and another stranger at a nearby table stops their conversation to ask “that was you?” to confirm that, yes, my game 1 will be firmly enshrined in the halls of legendary fuck-ups along with the Raptor who missed the bunker he was standing on with his melta gun, and that one guy back in 5th edition who tried to outflank his whole army only to get left holding his dick when his opponent used infiltrating Kroot to block off a whole table edge.

While we’re talking, Rob Triplett walks by and makes good on his promise to buy me that drink. Robbie, you’re alright.

5:00 PM

Last game of the day and for me, the last game of the event. As it turns out, my opponent is Kevin, a nice fellow who happened to be Mr. Five Riptides. His list has been updated: He’s replaced two riptides with a Stormsurge. He’s also 0-5. This makes me sad, because I play against Tau all the time and I know that I am about to destroy him and send him home without a GT win. And it’s not to say that Tau aren’t good – hell, a similar (albeit much better) list won the whole thing. But unlike with Genestealer Cults, I play against my friend Ethan’s Tau often and he’s competitive enough that I know how to deal with shit like drones.

One major key to this is to use the Marked for Death secondary objective on the drone squads. Not only are drones really easy to kill, but this makes it really painful to use them to shield other units. The other thing my army has going for it is that Benediction of Darkness giving a -1 to hit the Kytan is brutal against BS 4+ units and early on it ensures that he can’t get the fifth markerlight on it that he desperately needed to be able to hurt it. The Kytan will spend all day fucking up his Riptides.

Moments before Shit Got Real.

Things get worse when the Berserkers and the Bloodletters crashed into his lines, and the only thing that kept this from being a total rout was that Kevin kept rolling insanely well on his saves, so the Riptides lasted much longer than they had any right to. I was also able to use the terrain pretty well to screen my advance, and ended up not taking much overwatch fire. I was able to wipe out the Broadsides and Fire Warriors without much resistance, and we ended the game a turn early when it was clear where things were going. 32-4 victory, iirc.

A good way to close things out, and I feel a bit sorry for Kevin. It turns out he’s also playing in a Narrative Night Fight game though, and he’ll go on to win that one.

7:50 PM

Time for dinner. I’m exhausted. I’ve been standing and yelling all day and my knees are singing. Despite this, Greg, SD47, Pwong, Crion, and I walk a bit to a bar around the corner that serves burgers. The service is terrible and the burgers are mediocre and what they called a “six-napkin burger” was fucking shameful, but the tater tots were pretty good. 4/10. We have a couple of beers and talk about Crion’s interviews, then walk back over to the hotel to hang out with people. Narrative games are still going on downstairs. The narrative armies are fucking beautiful compared to the GT ones. Some narrative armies may be better-painted, but my favorite are Katie’s Eldar. They’re painted bright hot pink and you can see them from half a convention hall away. And she absolutely wrecks everyone’s faces with them. Last year, her least fortunate victim was Campbell. This year it was Kevin. Scott Horras is also down there and I remind him that now that NOVA is over he has to actually play some games in the Astradus Campaign.

9:50 PM

We hit up the roof lounge. There’s live music, though. And also not enough chairs and everyone’s tired of standing and yelling so we decide to go back downstairs.

10:10 PM

We’re sitting in the hotel lobby bar on some couches (thank god), just yukking it up with Liam and Condit. At some point, pwong and SD47 leave and Alfredo and Kevin (a different Kevin) eventually sit down and join us. We’re talking about all kinds of shit, just trying to make each other laugh. We talk about the games. We talk about goblins and whether they are mammals. And so naturally we talk about whether goblins have titties. We start talking about titties on other fantasy creatures because we’re a bunch of adult-sized twelve year-olds, and Greg points out that werewolves are, in fact, mammals, and the females would have titties. And that’s how he got renamed in the Discord.

Thanks, Liam

It’s too bad these hard-hitting questions weren’t in our interview with Foley and Cruddace, really.

We talk about Chernobyl and whether the worst job to have is shooting the pets, doing roof cleanup duty, or diving into the irradiated water to shut off the flow. Greg is adamant that roof duty is the best job of the bunch, and that he’d use his 90 seconds to take a comfortable no-look deuce right into the open reactor before Kevin reminds him that doing so would basically give him immediate ass cancer.

We talk about the Goonhammer stickers. Goonhammer author One_Wing had a bunch made using the blueprint banner and although he isn’t attending NOVA, he sent a bunch with Liam. Alfredo notes that when he was placing his order he didn’t realize the smaller stickers he was ordering were actually batches of five and not a single sticker and now he has infinity stickers.

I can feel my voice starting to go.

1:20 AM

Rather than doing the sensible thing and going upstairs to crash, Liam and Greg convince me to go back downstairs and hang out with the Narrative peeps. So we do. The final games are wrapping up/have wrapped up and everyone’s drinking. There’s just casual games going now. And also Safety Factor with his phosphex. I go back and forth between groups. Greg realizes the chainsword prop hasn’t been secured and takes a selfie with it and us standing in the background.

I’m on the right, holding a cup of rum that one of my campaign players gave me. Chris, you’re rad as hell

 

3:40 AM

Ah fuck, this is a mistake. I’ve gotta drive back tomorrow. Good thing check-out isn’t until noon.

 

Sunday

6:30 AM

Christ I’m tired. I manage to fall back asleep for another hour or so.

7:50 AM

I’m slow to get up and move around. It’s gonna be a loooooong day.

8:15 AM

I’m on the phone with my wife. Her folks are taking her and the kid into DC today to go to the Smithsonian. I won’t be able to get into the house until they’re back, and ideally that’ll be after the boy’s already down for a nap, so I shouldn’t try being back until 3pm or so. I tell her that I was really hoping to see them before that, but I’ll have to manage to find a way to spend time here at NOVA with all my friends until then.

8:41 AM

Fuck yeah. We grab one last hotel buffet breakfast. It’s the same as the other days, only less crowded. They are putting out some cinnamon scones that are pretty tasty, though. 7/10.

Also, today the elevators today are actually usable.

10:28 AM

I finish taking stuff down to my car and meet Artum downstairs on the gaming floor. The GT die-hards are still playing the Day 3 games, including Naramyth, who thinks it’ll improve his Ad Mech score and push him up in the ITC rankings to win. I have no idea how any of that works, but I hope it did. Boon’s also playing on the featured table, but it’s going hilariously poorly. The remaining Narrative folks are playing their last big game of Apocalypse. They’re using the old rules for some reason instead of the sweet new rules that actually make it fun. I don’t know why, but whatever. It seems like they’re having fun and that one dude who has a Tau Manta is here. That thing is just hilariously massive.

I decide that I’m sick of my dumbass Kytan and the rest of the army and that, since I put in the effort to bring Knights for Liam, I might as well play those against Artum. I cobble together a fast list running three Chaos Knights, 2 War Dogs, and a Spiky 17. It’s probably 2,000 points. Maybe a bit less. It is not very good.

ignore the shameful three-color standard fucko

We’re using the new rules now, which helps me basically not at all because I’m running only 17 models that actually benefit from it. Added attack Berserkers would have been cool, though. Instead, I’ve got some Knight guns going. Artum’s running his Ultramarines with the new rules and a sick battle pile that can really put the hurt on using multiple stacked re-roll auras and the Chaplain’s litany.

Also, his Ultramarines are extremely fucking pretty. 

Credit: Patrick “Artum” Robins

Anyways, I’m not taking the game incredibly seriously and Artum makes short work of most of my army, taking out the shooty Chaos Knight on Turn 2 while his partners are left watching. The Diamonas relic ends up being a nothingburger, as even with Trail of Destruction and CP re-rolls it only puts one wound on the Executioner for a total of 2 damage. I eventually kill the thing but we call it on turn 4 when it’s clearly going in Artum’s direction and getting lunch has become a more attractive prospect than finishing out a done deal.

12:24 PM

The deli across the street is closed, but the food trucks are still here. Artum, Joseph and I split a pepperoni pie from the DC slices truck. It’s slightly undercooked, but it’s a solid enough pizza by the standards of “not being in New York or New Jersey.” 7/10.

We hang out for a while and talk about next year and the games this year. Liam’s already making plans to return. I suspect he won’t be checking his minis for that trip. The lunch is a great way to end things, and has the melancholy feeling of a goodbye meal where everyone’s trying to pretend that shit’s not over. For most of the people at the table, we won’t see each other for another year, maybe more. They’re all extremely cool dudes, and hanging out with people was the best part of this year’s NOVA, and what made attending last year so rough: Last year I basically only knew Campbell and SD47. This year there were more than two dozen people I was looking forward to meeting, and none of them disappointed.

3:24 PM

I’m back in my car heading to the in-laws’. I’m exhausted. I’ve slept an average of 4 hours a night and I’m running on caffeine and when I get back I have to dad it up and go out to dinner with them. Still, 2019 was the best NOVA ever.

 

Final Thoughts

Despite my garbage-ass 2-4 record, the Grand Tournament was still a blast. I like the NOVA format more than the ITC format overall — it’s just a slower playstyle and I prefer that it doesn’t encourage inefficient play shooting at units you wouldn’t otherwise go after just to score a point. The only thing I’d change from this year’s rules was the Strike the Rank and File secondary. As-is, it’s a little too hard to score with the changes they made and it’s too easy to hide troops to prevent an opponent from maxing it out. The people I played against were good dudes. Special shout-outs to Robbie Triplett, Donald McColly, Thaddeus Pickett, Samuel Frey, and Kevin Cox for being great opponents and putting up with my bullshit.

Ultimately, NOVA is more like “Nerd Summer Camp” than anything else — there’s a ton of drinking, lots of gaming, and just generally great hang-outs. I still have yet to play any board games or do any seminars, since the GT takes up most of my time, but they also seem very cool. There’s an interesting kind of segmentation that happens at the event where, because the different games and tracks don’t line up, it can be hard to find time to hang out with people who aren’t in the same event until it’s very late at night. But those times hanging out with people, meeting up with fellow wargamers from thousands of miles away, cracking up late into the evening, whether it’s over beers or a game of 40k, that’s the real prize and reason to attend NOVA.

That’s right fuckos, you read 8,000 words of NOVA recap just to learn that the real prize was the friends we made along the way. Or had before the whole thing and just met up with, I guess. The point is, if all you’ve got going on at the event is playing in the Grand Tournament, it’s liable to be a sad, lonely affair. You don’t necessarily need a team to enjoy it, but if you aren’t making connections and hanging out with people, you’re missing out on the best parts.

I hear a Tau player (Richard Siegler) won the 40k GT. Good for him! Dan tells me that the prize for winning is apparently a sword. As a Tau player, I’m sure it will fit in nicely with his collection.

 

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