Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The weekend that was Desolation - Part 1

This weekend gone was Desolation a Warhammer fantasy teams event in Canberra.
It was the first time the event had been run, and the first event of it's kind i've ever been to. Not a tournament player I was excited to check this one out.

I had every intention on loading up on photos and doing detailed reports of each of my games, but once we got to rolling dice I was having to much fun and kept forgetting my notes. Instead I’ve decided to break down my thoughts on the event into categories, then talk about my games.

The venue was a Canberra local independent retail store called Good Games. I got the feeling the store was quite new, it had an aura of still being set up about it, but that didn't stop the place from being great. The front area was all store as you would expect, then the back was a huge wargame area that easily fit 16 (8'x4') tables in it with room to move and not be rubbing backsides during games. I felt the place could do with more posters, wall decorations or murals to enhance the atmosphere but as I said, I think it was new. Also a second toilet would have not gone amiss. The line over the weekend sometimes was a bit on the long impatient side. Especially Sunday after Saturday night drinking.
Over all I give Good Games Canberra a solid 8/10. Great work guys.

As I was told before the event, there were no rankings scores or masters or ETC places up for grabs here. That really helped push that the event was just for fun and laughs, and this was grasped by about 90% of the people there. You can put in a little effort to try do well and have fun doing it, but being over the top in competitiveness I don't think has a place in an event like this. That's just my opinion. The whole weekend was fantastic, and a really great introduction to the wider warhammer community for me, a really nice change from gaming in the garage. It was soured slightly for me though by two incidents. Firstly there was one team out of the eight who seemed to go way beyond what I felt was an acceptable level of competitiveness at an event like this. Not realising who was around them they were overheard attempting to plot with another team lower down to try and rig the results. Essentially “you guys cant win, we can if you try to minimise your losses against your next opponent and stop them winning.”

The second incident was during one of my games where I watched my opponent try to 'sneakily' push a unit of his with his finger during my turn to try and change it's charge angle to one of my units. I didn't make a big deal out of it just casually mentioned that I think he bumped his unit and could he move it back. He did, and the stupid thing was he didn’t need to cheat, he had the charge angle anyway. Apparently the guy is a regular in the top levels of the Warhammer tournament scene. I guess I know why. It dumbfounds me the depths people will go to to win at mandollies. It's not like there’s money on the line. I didn't let it sour my weekend, I had 7 great opponents (one who ended up being the guy trying to rig the results, but that wasn't during our game) and the cheat.

To make things even better a lunch was provided on the Saturday. That was a really nice touch.
I give the event another great 8/10 on this one.

The event only cost $20 entry per person, which for six games over two days I thought was a massive bargain. With such a low entry fee, and money going to prizes, lunch and I assume some would have to go to the store for hosting I wasn't expecting much.
The awards given at the end were four large bronze medals for third, four silver for second and four gold for first. First place also got their team name engraved on a large sword that is going to hang in the shop.
The fact that there was no vouchers or product didn't bother me. My opinion on these things is that I have enough toys I still need to paint. I really love how the tournament community over the last few years has moved from just giving a box of models to a trophy etc. It means so much more, it gives something to show off and I can remember what it's from. Models tend to get lost in the mix.

It deserves mentioning that the prize winners got their medals placed around their neck by a very pretty young lady who also graced each of them with a kiss on the cheek. They all seemed very happy and appreciative of that.

I said I was happy with what awards were presented, however at the same time I felt the TO missed an opportunity to really emphasise the fun aspect of the event over the competitiveness side.
There are so many hilarious and crazy situations that arise in warhammer, and in team environments I personally would have liked to see fun awards given out. Things like first player to have his wizard 'sucked off' in the cascade, player whose Lord dies the most, team with the best round, classic wooden spoon, new comers awards, even team bingo. The list is endless in what creative things a TO could come with (I know ive done it in 40k tournaments). A simple certificate would have sufficed, and I think it would have gone a long way to boosting the laughs.

The awards were nice and suited, but could have gone further to emphasize more of the whole hobby. For that I give it a 6/10

This guy was great. Easy to approach, didn't mind being bugged by stupid questions from people like me who don’t play tournaments, and was well organised. He fed us on day one as I said and was very clear and consistent on his decisions when needed. I don't know how or if he dealt with the issue of the unsportsmanlike plotting attempts, but it didn't matter anyway. Well done that man.

10/10 no doubt.

Scoring & Scenarios:
All six games were played using the battle line scenario. As I don't go to tournaments or play this game in a competitive fashion I don't know if that is because the other scenario's are unbalanced, but I know I like to play them to mix things up. Just playing battle line each game reminded me of 5th & 6th edition where that’s pretty much all you had. I would have enjoyed mixing it up, but that may not have been good for the tournament. I don’t know.

The games were scored using the points difference of units killed by each player and then comparing that to a table with scores from 20 – 0 through to a 10-10 draw. That's apparently standard and I liked how it worked. Those scores from each of the four players on a team were combined into the team score.
The nice touch though was having a maximum cap of 70 (instead of 80) and a minimum cap of 30 (instead of 0). This meant that even teams on the losing side got a decent amount of points and always had a chance of being there or there about. Come day two, everyone showed up because everyone still had something to play for.

The aspect of the scoring I did find disappointing was the lack of awards or points for the non battle side of our hobby. I’m used to the 40k scene of putting army’s out on display for a beauty pageant, points being awarded for painting, conversions, theme etc. There was none of this at Desolation. As a fun gamer and all round hobbyist, its every aspect that draws me in, not just the playing of games. I know there’s constantly arguments on should ‘soft’ scores be included as a percentage of players tournament scores or not, and there’s pro’s and con’s to both and no right answer. I do believe all aspects of our hobby are equally important as the next, and if not combined then I like a painting award to carry as much weight as a battle award. But that’s just my preference.

I would have liked different scenarios, and the lack of painting and hobby recognition pulled this down a bit. But give this aspect a score of 9/10.

Army Composition:
Being my first tournament I’m not going to give this section a score as I don’t know what else to compare it to. But I did want to mention how army’s were made. For Desolation they used something called Swedish comp. For those who don’t know this comp system it works like this. Units and magic items have been given a comp score value. You start with a set number of comp points, in this case 300. As you make your list you take away a set amount based on the unit, how many models it has or how many of the same unit you have in your list. You end up with a final comp score at the end. For this event all armies had to have a score of 13 or above.

My first time using or seeing this system, I thought it was very confusing. At the start I didn’t like the idea of building my army with point’s costs, then having to work out a separate set of comp points. I changed my opinion however. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it, and as my friends and I played some practice games using the system I really started to enjoy it. I liked the army’s that I was seeing fielded, units and combinations we never take were being seen on the table and the games were all fun and quite level. It’s not perfect, no system is but it felt good to use.

Overall the event gets an 8/10, which is really high praise. The TO should be really proud.

A really nice touch was the TO provided each player with a notebook for the event. It was nicely printed with the event Desolation and bound. It was perfect for making those notes I planned to make and didn't.

Because there was no beauty pageant or painting awards, the armies were never put out for people to get good photos. I took what I could.

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