Monday, March 9, 2015

Logan's ND Open VII Wrap-up

Here we are after ND Open VII, and I have to say that I had an absolute blast! Below I'll be giving a recap of the event in a similar form that was done with Canadian Shield.

The Venue

ND Open is held at the Valcartier CFB (Canadian Forces base) near Quebec City in Quebec. The venue its self is quite large (see below), has two cafeterias (officers mess/mess) on site with decent food for dirt cheap, and... a bar! Not a fantastic beer selection mind you, but good enough for a beer or two throughout the day.


In total I believe there were around 64 tables between WHFB, 40k, and Warmachine. This is awesome because it means it is a huge event, but it also means that it was extremely cramped. Hopefully next year they will expand the gaming area into the side rooms (which were empty) to open things up a bit. While there was room to stand (and sometimes use chairs) during games, moving between games was a terrifying experience when trying not to run into someone and drop your army (or theirs), In the photo above you can see a guy in a black shirt and pants walking quickly - that is the only path from the back 12 tables to the front ones, and tables were arbitrarily assigned other than the last round. Imagine 40+ people trying to shuffle through there with their armies... not too fun.

Outside of space, the other issue was lighting. In the back of the room (behind the guy in the black sweater) there were another 16-20 tables - some of these had lights above their rows, some did not. I won't complain about eye strain, but what I will complain about is dice... I had a game in the row with no lighting and my opponent had the small (GW sized) red & black dice with black pips. From more than about 1/4 across the table it was impossible to actually see the pips. This is not to imply in any form that any fudging of rolls was done, but simply that it is a quality of life thing that would be good to improve in some form, though I really cannot suggest how.

The Player's Pack & Scenarios

Overall pretty solid! The scenarios were fun and all had secondary objectives (worth 10 points total) in addition to the primary missions which were scored on a normal 20-0 scale. I think the only things that rubbed me the wrong way in the scenarios was some of the secondary objectives being things like "kill the opponents lowest value unit" since this means that I have to devote resources to keeping my chaff alive which is no small task against lots of Elf shooting. Somewhat minor I suppose, but it's 3 points that is extremely hard to reclaim (meaning - tie) against lots of lists.

Soft scores for this event were a checkmark style score for Sportsmanship, Judged painting, and player's choice painting (single vote per person). Judged painting was a bit odd since it was done during the rounds, however there was a painting rubric that was released back in October when registration began, so it was clear what the judge(s) were looking for. Not sure if it would have been better done during lunch or something like that, however from everyone I've spoken to it sounds like it was judged extremely fairly, and I don't believe anyone would argue about who won best painted.

The pack its self was also in both French and English which was extremely nice for those of us coming in who do not speak French well, or at all.

Scenarios -

All scenarios had normal 20-0 scoring (with 20 being 2400+ points difference) and secondary objectives outlined below.

Game 1 was Battle Line with the following secondaries - destroy enemy unit worth the most points, have more Ground Control (units with command model(s)) in enemy deployment zone than are in yours, and kill the enemy general or force him to flee off the table. No complaints here, good fun.

Game 2 was Battle Line with 9" deployment zones and 5 objectives spread evenly across the center of the table. These objectives could be picked up and moved by any scoring unit, but were dropped if the unit moved involuntarily or due to magic. Secondary objective was 2 points per objective held at the end of the game.

Game 3 was Battle Line with an extra 100 points for each unit with a command model that was destroyed, fleeing, or fled off the table. Secondary objectives were to kill/flee off the table the enemy BSB, have a unit with Ground Control in the enemy deployment zone, and prevent your opponent from having a scoring unit (and non-Lord/Hero) in your deployment zone at the end of the game.

Game 4 was Blood & Glory with secondaries of reducing opponents fortitude to 2 or less, and having more scoring units across the center line of the table than your opponent. 

Game 5 was Dawn Attack with two objective markers 18" in from each table corner. These objectives were scored per turn. The secondary in this mission was based on the difference in objective score at the end of the game - tie being 5 points for each player, and going up/down 1 in each direction to a maximum of 10-0 from there.

Game 6 was Battle Line with an extra 250 points for each Lord killed, and 100 points for each Hero killed. Secondaries were to kill the unit with the lowest point cost, control more table quarters than opponent, and keep your lowest point cost character alive. 

Overall solid scenarios. As noted above, I really didn't like the lowest point cost unit objective in game 6, as it was effectively 3 points I could not score with the matchup I had so I could only push for a tie.

The Tables

Considering there were at least 50 tables here, the quality was very solid. Granted, many were green felt, but the terrain pieces were all excellent! The front row of tables were theme tables. and the terrain on some of these was a bit problematic depending on how you agreed to play it with your opponent - either lots of difficult terrain, or in some cases it would be impossible for a horde of 25mm bases to advance outside of the deployment zone.

I also had a game on a table with no less than 6 swamps, 3 pieces of impassable terrain, and 6+ pieces of difficult terrain spread somewhat evenly across the table. A bit overkill, but the swamps/difficult terrain did not affect gameplay much in that case.

Overall, very good!

Scheduling

So you all know my thoughts about lunch scheduling. In this case lunch was after round 1 (meaning 10:45 AM) which is crazy early. With that said, lunch was provided - more on that later. Outside of that there were 30 minute breaks between rounds, however games were only 2h15. I feel like this is a bit short, especially for an event with this much competition, and potential language barriers. With only 2h15 per round, slow play can be a major issue, and since we're all Canadians it's a bit faux pas to call someone on it... we're too nice.

Slow play I know was an issue for opponents that each of us on 1 Plus Armour played against as we all had games that did not finish - we each ended up playing the same guy, and those games did not go past turn 4, and I believe Nick had a game that ended on turn 3 against a Chaos Dwarves player. Having a big timer on the projector would be nice, as well as announcements saying something like "15 minutes remaining, do not start a new round!" to try to deal with this. Not having a final 2 turns against many lists (e.g. fast cav heavy) is a huge problem.

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

Overall this event was absolutely amazing, so I really can't fault it for too much. Scenarios were released at the same time that registration opened (or earlier) so they were able to get months of feedback and playtesting leading into the event. Hotel recommendations were given out. Staff were extremely responsive... overall fantastic leading up to the event.

For the things that weren't amazing - we already spoke about the room being a bit cramped and not having great lighting, so let's talk about the food. Lunch was provided both days which was great given the price ($70 for 2 days, a t-shirt, swag bag, a raffle ticket, and lunch both days), however... unhealthy would be an understatement. The first day was club sandwiches and a pile of fries about the size of my head - overkill, but not bad. The second day was a slice of pizza at least 15cm by 12cm and a pile of fries the size of my head. I'm by no means a health nut, but I came home and ate nothing but veggies for dinner after the event... too much deep fried everything! Maybe half the fries, but add some veggies next time? Pizza and fries is just too much grease... With that said, the only other option was to drive off base which isn't practical, so it was better than it could have been!

Prize Support

In addition to having prizes for Best General, Best Overall, Best Presentation, Best Sport, and Best Presentation (Player's Choice) there were also prizes for Worst Painted, Worst Sport, and Worst Performance.

These were all solid prizes ($100+ in every case for the Best X), and the Worst prizes were hilarious. Worst Painted was a can of Quickshade, Worst Sport I cannot remember since the guy was cheering that he was an asshole so... yeah, and Worst Performance was a copy of a different game!

There was also a raffle with $2 tickets for your choice of an item from a table with over $4,000 worth of merchandise. Great stuff, and my buddy John (who sadly was unable to play) ended up going home with about $300 worth of raffle prizes for his $50 of tickets.

There were also grab bags with some model primer and objective markers. Nothing too fancy, but nice none the less. I'll hand it to Canadian Shield here - the objective markers there were much cooler, but it's nice to start a collection from everywhere.

Overall Thoughts

I had an absolute blast at this event. My voice is shot, my knees/back are killing, and my ass is sore after a 4 1/2 hour drive, but I'll definitely be back next year as well as their other event - Chaos Ludik in October.

We have tons of pictures from the event up on our Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/1PlusArmour.

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