Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Swords & Magic Wrap-Up and Retrospective

Our first event is done, woohoo! I have to start off this post by giving a huge thank you to Nick for being the mastermind behind this event. He organized the venue, logistics, co-wrote the scenarios, and was just overall an outstanding TO when it came time to actually run the event.

We had 16 people compete after 2 had to drop last minute due to illness and a no-show however things went quite smoothly... in fact we ended ahead of schedule! It helped to have mostly veteran players at the event, but it's also a testament to the fact that Nick ran a tight ship and kept games running in the allotted time.

With all this said, here's a breakdown of what I think was the good, the bad, and the ugly...

The Good

  • The Schedule - Nick kept everything on track and wasn't afraid to yell to get people's attention to keep it that way. I'm a big fan of the 2 rounds, lunch, then 2 rounds approach and we were able to make that work and even had a full hour for lunch which was perfect due to the proximity to a great poutine shop.
  • The Venue - FDB were kind enough to offer up their store for our event. They also generously bolstered our prize pool with nearly $500 of draw prizes in addition to ~$160 of choose-your-own prizes for Best General/Best Overall/Best Presentation.
  • The Scenarios - I'll admit it! I was wrong about our scenarios! I had concerns going in about Attacker/Defender, but the feedback was got was overwhelmingly positive, so I have to once again give a shout out to Nick.
  • The Turnout - We had people come in from nearly 800KM away to come to this event! I suspect the prize support helped that, but it was awesome none the less!

The Bad

  • The Tables - In addition to our own tables, we were able to use FDB's tables which are gorgeous, however this combination did lead to some issues with terrain. Some tables had too many forests or lakes, others had none, etc... I think some of our future events may look to a more standardized terrain layout.
  • The Clutter - Due to limited storage space at the venue we had storage for terrain/extra chairs/etc... in player areas and unfortunately this lead to a few scenarios where it was quite hard to move around. This is something we will definitely have addressed for the next event.

The Ugly

  • The Weather - Obviously not something we can control, but I think we had nearly 6" of snow fall during the course of the event. This made it a nightmare for some of the folks who drove long distances to get home. One group of attendees from Vermont nearly doubled their commute time as a result of this, and it also lead to us having a late start to round 1 for several players.
  • The Table Assignments - We're aware of this. It sucked. It won't happen again. We had multiple people playing on the same table(s) multiple times. This is a bit boring, but unfortunately is something that can happen with a Swiss pairing system. We'll look to tweak our matchmaking setup for this in the future to avoid it happening again.
Overall I think next time we're going to be looking to run a larger event, likely still in partnership with FDB due to their fantastic support, however we're also hoping to address the issues outlined above so that we can patch any holes we've found or been informed of.

With this said, if you attended, or heard about the event, please give us your feedback! Call us jerks, tell us our event was the worst piece of crap you've ever attended, or maybe say something nice... it's all appreciated.

Keep your eyes peeled for news of our next event as well...

- Logan (@1PlusLogan)

Friday, February 13, 2015

News, views and our first tournament

Hello gals and guys!

Nick here from the 1+Armour team, your favourite Warhammer Fantasy team, and the arch-rivals of the Geeks of the North. Life has been busy but I wanted to write up a quick post to let you know we are still alive.

News and Views

In my opinion, Warhammer Fantasy has been kicking ass! I can’t recall the exact time that the End of Times supplements started rolling out but they seem to be getting better and better. I think my only issue with them so far is that they have been coming too fast! I have hardly had the time to read and appreciate all the compelling narratives that the fluff books are, and to appreciate all the additional rules, scenarios, lists we are getting out of them. Now I have no idea where these supplements will be in a year from now, they may end up collecting dust on our shelves or a must bring to every event, regardless, for now, they’ve been a lot of fun. I know there have been some gripes about when to use the combined lists and what they mean for the competitive scene. I won’t lie and say that Warriors really needed Skullcannons, or any of the elf books needing anything, but in my experience of using my Lizards, it has been manageable. In fact, my worst performances in recent memory have been against stock elves and dwarfs.

What about channel news? Ok so here’s the deal. We are a bunch of bros that love to play Warhamms and provide content to our viewers. If I’m to be frank with our readers… this can be quite the challenge. Some of the guys are away for work and family commitments, and work hasn’t been any quieter for the rest of us. So please be patient with us as we try to deliver on the Warhammer Fantasy content.

We have also have a couple of upcoming projects I wanted to mention that we will be producing videos for some time in the not-too-distant-future hopefully. Here they are:
  •       We are looking to start a Fan-submitted content section of the channel. What is this? Well it occurred to us that some of our viewers may enjoy making their own videos but feel that posting them online may not be worth it since we all worry sometimes “who will watch it?” Here’s your chance! What we want to do is open the forum to you! Basically, it goes like this…. You film you and your buddy playing Warhammer. You contact us, and upload the video to a dropbox account. We will review the video and if it fits our quality standards then we can publish it for you. There will obviously be some disclaimers once we get this up and running, but this one thing we are excited about and hope you will be too!
  •           We have this website! Not too many viewers may know this, but we made a 1+Armour dedicated site as home for the team. You will be able to access our event information, view our blog and works in progress, and whatever other crazy shenanigans we may be up to.
  •           So it turns out that producing content is not only time-consuming, but also can be expensive. The equipment, software, other incidentals add-up. So we have been brainstorming on how we can improve the quality of our videos but not have to sell our houses (or partners) to do this. We don’t have a concrete plan yet, but if you have a suggestion please let us know. For example, we thought about setting up a Patreon account. Viewers can subscribe if they want and chip in as little as a 1$ per month to help fund our ongoing operational costs. Let us know what you think, and as a viewer if this is something you think would be feasible.

Tournament

Our first ever event is just over a week away, and we are excited! I, personally, haven’t gone to many events, but with our combined experiences we tried to design the tournament with the best elements in mind from the events we did attend.

One thing we really wanted to do is offer good prize support, and hopefully we delivered. I won’t end up having time to post pictures before the event, but take my word for it, it’s pretty rockin’ for an 18 man event. Really have to give a shout out to the FDB crew for being amazing hosts! Our goal is to return the admission fee to the winners of the tournament, and the other prize support as draw prizes so everyone has a chance to leave with something cool. You let us know what you thought about it.

The comp. I wrote a small piece a while ago on my thoughts on comp. We tried to maintain a fair game environment for everyone, but at the same time don’t want to limit people too much if they wanted to bring out a cool new toy such as the Glottkin or Imrik. Of course, sometimes that’s tough since some characters are way off base in terms of game balance and we had to make some hard decisions. I don’t think we were too wrong with our choices since in a recent tournament, I believe in the West coast, seven or eight separate Hosts of the Eternity King with Malekith placed in the top 10. Anyways, we will see and player feedback will go a long way to further develop the comp pack.

Where do we see the S&M series going? I think I want it to grow, and become it’s own, living thing. Of course, like most living things we need to start small and go through the necessary growing pains to get where we want to. A crucial part of this process will be your participation and your feedback. Let us know what we did right, and what we did wrong. Maybe eventually the S&M could become a premiere destination for Warhammer Enthusiasts, its stories carrying the magic all year round.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Nick


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Canadian Shield Wrap-up

A few updates:

I've been informed of a few mistakes in my article below, please see the following bullet points for clarifications:
  • First off, I forgot to mention that this is the first Canadian Shield event. There are always growing pains with new events, so be sure to keep that in mind.
  • The Player's Pack outlined that terrain on tables could be moved around. It seems that I missed this (and I suspect several others did as well). With that said, that issue is on me, not the event/TO.
  • Scenario #4 in the tournament was not Battle Lines, it was "Pincer", which was similar but with an 8" gap in the center of the deployment zone to force heavier flanks.
  • The event was originally promoted as a 60-man event, not 40. My thoughts on this are more about the perception of capping the event at 22 people with only five days notice instead of ongoing communication about event plans and attendance.
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With the Canadian Shield tournament out of the way, and with a few days to mull it over, I figured I'd bring you my thoughts about the event.

The Venue

The event was hosted at St. Paul's University. Hosting a tournament for a grimdark game about evil gods in a seminary school is an interesting choice, but hey, it didn't really make any difference.

Overall the venue was great, clean, and well lit, albeit a little bit tight. The school also catered the event which was wonderful - pizza, cookies, and drinks for everyone after round 2... Zero complaints from me about that.

Side note for TOs - if you're running a 4 round event that starts at 8 or 9 in the morning, have lunch after the 2nd round instead of after the 1st. If you aim for a Noon lunch and your event ends at 8-9 in the evening you're going to have a room full of hungry and cranky nerds.

The Player's Pack & Scenarios

The Player's Pack had some typos and a rather confusing scoring system. The TO opted for a novel approach to scoring with customized objectives as well as a new take on soft scores.

Customized Objectives - Effectively there were a list of 7 objectives that you could choose from (1 per game, and couldn't use the same one twice in the tournament) that would grant an additional 200VP if achieved. These were things like "kill a wizard", "kill the general", "keep this unit alive", "kill this unit", "be in the enemy's deployment zone at game end", etc... For my 2 cents, these were great, especially not being able to reuse them. They added a little bit more depth to the games, and were generally just fun.

Soft Scores - These were very difficult to understand based on the Player's Pack, and I think most people ended up ignoring scoring them after about 2 rounds in. The TO has already confirmed that future events will use the "standard" scoring system for soft scores.

Scenarios - The scenarios were a little bit hit or miss. 

  • Round 1 was Battle Line with objective markers just outside each deployment zone in the center. These granted 100VP per round held, required full command and/or 1 full rank to hold, and could be contested by a unit within 3". This was a pretty solid scenario and it played out well. It perhaps could have done a bit better to punish deathstar approaches since it only required 1 rank to hold (so your archers, etc... could just sit on it), but it was still fun.
  • Round 2 was a very novel scenario. Each player had to split their army into two buckets (not required to be equal size) and their opponent would choose which of those "buckets" would be on the table turn 1, and then the rest would be Ongoing Reserves for turn 2. This lead to some very interesting choices and extremely dynamic gameplay. Really cool idea! The only issue here was that some players thought the two buckets had to be equal size, which really screwed some folks over - can be fixed by clarifying in the player's pack.
  • Round 3 was Battle for the Pass, but with only a 1" split in the middle for deployment zones. This scenario was widely considered to be an abysmal failure. Yes, you could still turtle at the very back of the table, but as a result you'd have nowhere to run. For larger armies and/or MSU armies it was also a bit punishing just to get everything where you wanted it to be. From my perspective this lead to a huge win since it was quite trivial to box in my opponent.
  • Round 4 was back to Battle Line, but with no objectives. Not much to say here.

The Tables

For a tournament it's tough to complain about tables. There was nothing that was necessarily sub-par quality, though some tables were un-textured boards... even then, not too bad. The big issue was frankly terrain placement.

Some tables were a touch sparse, but others were significantly overpopulated, sometimes with very large objects that could effectively remove 1/3rd of the board from viable gameplay.

Overall, stuff that's easy to fix. Good height, reasonably good quality, and comfortable to play on.

N.B. I understand that in the 40k event the following day there was still some "Fantasy" terrain being used. From a flavour perspective this is a big NOPE... something to change up for next time, but not a deal breaker.

Scheduling

Canadian Shield was a 4 round event run in a single day. Scheduling was very loose - some rounds went under time, some went way over. For the 40k event (the following day) there was a timer left up on the projector and announcements of time left - that would have helped a lot. Once again, stuff that's relatively easy to fix and the TO now knows.

Personally I feel that four 2 1/2 hour rounds in a single day is one hell of a grind since you end up with 11-12 hours of gameplay and don't get home until usually 11 at night (or later if you're out for beers after). This is also very restrictive to people coming in from out of town. Either spread out to a full GT and do 6 rounds over 2 days (4/2 tends to work best from what I've seen), or just opt for 3 games in a single day event. This varies person to person, and the TO has already contacted me to let me know it may change for future events.

Meta Thoughts (about the event, but not the gameplay)

The website needs a massive overhaul. The current one provides very little information, was not well maintained, and is incredibly hard to navigate to find the information that is available. This made the weeks leading up to the event a bit stressful since it was very hard to find out what was going on.

Another note is that as a TO, or staff in an event at all, you really need to have a social media presence. I say this from experience - our upcoming event sold out in 2 days whereas Canadian Shield was only sitting at 13 sign-ups a month in. You need to get out there so that people in the community (both local and remote) know who you are, so that you can relentlessly promote your event yourself, and so that you can quickly respond to questions/concerns that come up about your event. In this case we were dealing with 1-2 week turnaround for clarification on questions, and many went unanswered unless I met the TO in person (PMs and forum posts went largely ignored). 

One bit of drama was that the event was advertised as being a 40-man tournament, however it ended up being capped at 22 players. If the event is going to be advertised at a certain size, that number of spaces must be available. It doesn't matter if there are going to be empty tables, it's better to undersell than to have to turn people away. This left a very bad impression with lots of people even before the event actually happened.

Prize Support

I'll have to defer to the community here as I only got 5th, but I'll give a couple thoughts - 

The Shields - These were a pretty cool addition for best general, best overall, etc... as it's something great to hang on the wall in your game room.

The Silly Prizes - I got a bag of Cheetos for having the "cheesiest" army, and a copy of Visions for having some unpainted stuff (Pink Horrors that I had forgotten at someone's house and only got back on the day of the event). These were a ton of fun, and provided laughs all around.

Last Place - A Warmachine starter kit. Hilarious, and hopefully not discouraging. Even if I sucked and did that badly I definitely wouldn't complain about a $100 consolation prize.

Note - honestly not positive if this was the last place prize, or if this was a joke.

Grab Bags - Everyone that showed up got a White Dwarf (albeit very out of date), a $5 coupon for FDB in Gatineau, and a custom objective marker. The objective markers were pretty cool, but they were 3D printed and very brittle. Going the normal poker chip route may be a better choice, as 3D objective markers are also a bit tough to deal with in Fantasy since they're tough to balance things on. It would also have been great if these were painted (even just red) instead of bare resin/plastic.

Overall Thoughts

I had a lot of fun at this event, and would definitely go to future ones. The scoring stuff can be sorted out, the issues in the Player's Pack can be addressed with a bit more time and care from the TO, and the scenarios can be playtested a bit more if they are released much earlier on.  Hopefully the event staff can be a bit more involved in the community (forums, twitter, etc...) to help the event grow further.

- Logan (@1PlusLogan)