Monday, 28 June 2010

Why the UK GT/Throne of Skulls 2010 = Fail

This is a post I never really expected to write, I’ve been attending the UK Grand Tournaments, which more recently became known as the Throne of Skulls, since 2003 and it’s always been an event I, and those at my local gaming club have loved (by way of example back in 2003 two of us went up, last year we took up a team of eleven, not bad for a small club at the far end of the country).
Now I know that there is plenty of dislike for the event, typified by Stelek, the hardcore tournament crowed who have a dislike of any sort of soft scores (i.e. Sportsmanship, Painting etc) in the format, as well as the sort of players who often attend including myself it would seem, but for me and I know a good sized crowd of people typified by the Warseer contingent who really like the event as it was, a relaxed Tournament where you will see just about every sort of player you can imagine from the ‘Net List’ players to the fluffy bunnies (no offence intended here, I’m closer to one of those then a Net Lister).
The original format I started attending under was two Heats and a Final, those who did best in the Heats then had the option to buy a ticket for the final, tickets were sold top to bottom until they were all gone, subsequent years saw the addition of an extra Heat to keep up with demand and the introduction of a free Final ticket for those who qualified.
Each player could attend one Heat per year and potentially the final if they performed well.
The new format as it has been presented removes the Final in favour of another Heat, so you could say they’re now Rounds instead. On the face of it I see no problem with this, indeed I think it could be a good move, the thing is in the past couple of years especially tickets fly – they were all gone in something like 48hours last year – and there are plenty of people who miss out, removing the Final and adding another Round means another hundred odd people get the chance to attend the big event in the UK (and arguably Europes) gaming calendar – this is the obvious and IMHO best solution given that the event’s team are unable to calendar in a forth heat and the final.
However theres a fly in the ointment, it would also seem that a player will be able to attend multiple Rounds in a year, this means there will almost certainly infact still be people who are unable to go as I’ve no doubt there will be those, especially those who live in the area who’ll go to two, three or even all four events each year regardless of the cost. As long as those who could’nt get a ticket before get one now that’s alright though.  
The Event
Originally each weekends gaming included 6 games over Saturday and Sunday, Lunch on both days was provided and Dinner on Saturday as well as Coffee and Donuts for breakfast (yummy), there was some form of entertainment in Bugmans bar in the evening for those who wanted to attend and back along Seminars were held (though these stopped a little while ago). It was also common practice that many of those who had the option to arrive early would meet up at Warhammer World for a few friendly games, this was always great as it meant you’d get to catch up with friends an acquaintenances who you’d met at previous years event or just through the online community for a few games and a couple of drinks before getting down to the tournament proper.
The food format remains unchanged (though apparently it’s going to be better food – though I’m not sure quite how they’ll pull that off as food is already of an excellent standard), likewise Saturday entertainments will be improved (again it’s always been great so unless they’re adding the Seminars back I’m left scratching my head).
Next up we’ll have the introduction of social gaming before the event on the Friday… wait a minute did’nt we already do that? Oh sorry no it’s going to be ‘official’ social gaming now… this is great, but to say it’s something new we’re offering and then use it as a financial justification is not.
Finally we’re going to be gaining a whole half hour extra per game which means… oh yeah it’ll now be five games rather then six, so it’s more ‘relaxed’. I’m of two minds about this, on one hand sometimes people do run out of time for games, on the other hand I’m now spending 5 or so hours in the car for less actual games, they’re not even larger games which I know is something which has been asked out plenty before, upping the 40k limit to 1850pts which is fairly reasonable I’d think for an extra half hour?
So why are GW implementing these changes? Well for this I’ll turn over to the head of event Andy Joyce in an email correspondence I received from him in reply to an email I sent last week.
The reason for removing the heats was twofold. Firstly, the new Throne of Skulls format has been designed to emphasise the fun of playing games in a relaxed, friendly environment, where the only prize up for grabs is the knowledge that you were the best in your race class. As the heats and final system is essentially encouraging people to play for a physical prize, it now doesn’t fit with the ethos of playing for fun for what you can win.

The second reason is to open up the competition to more players; 3 events limits us to a maximum of 468 players, and a final where (if we’re lucky) 120 may turn up. This now opens the competition up for 4 events with a total capacity of 624 different players, allowing greater access to the competition and providing more support for the hobby.

The second reason I’ve already commented on, I like it for the most part, the first I have a problem with.
I agree that the changes should encourage friendly play, a little; however they seem to be making a mountain out of a mole hill. We’re all familiar with the horror stories that come out of tournaments from time to time, the Rules Lawyers twisting the meaning of RAW above an beyond to scrape a tiny advantage, the weighted dice, the time wasters, the tantrum throwers – and yes they’re all true, but they are a minority of players, a real tiny minority. I’ve met at most one of these people in my years at the GT, and to be honest he just did’nt know the rules very well, it’s a problem I’ve encountered far more at my local club or shop (the worst cheat (read did’nt know the rules) I’ve ever met was a GW Store Manager for heaven’s sake, but that’s another story). The thing is if you actually talk to a GT player about it they’ll have a story, but most of those stories come from a friend, or a friend of a friend, the undesirable opponents are indeed out there but are few and far between and they are not going to go away just because the event is changing it’s reward system.
For the most part those that attend the GT are a fantastic crowd, go in relaxed and ready for some fun games and that is exactly what you’ll get – make no mistake some of those games will be hard because you will play against some hard armies and some great players but 95% of the time the people behind them will be wanting to have just the same thing you want, a fun, relaxed and friendly game (oh and being a tournament they’ll want to win, ditto though surely - even if you don’t have your sights set on the top tables).
So what are GW really going to achieve with these changes, my theory is very little in terms of improving game play, you have removed a tangible physical prize certainly by removing the free final ticket, that’s not going to stop people from taking the hardest army they can, they may not have a prize still, but they still want to win even when moving the goal post’s with odd changes in how points are awarded, it will be for the most part the same people, playing the same way and those people want to win.
10 Minutes to Midnight
There is another thing though, and I hate for it to come down to this, I really do, but for me it’s the thing which breaks the horses back, why I won’t be attending the Throne of Skulls. I’m trying to get my head around this still, Heat Tickets have for a few years been priced at £55.00, that included subsidizing the ‘free’ Final, we now have no Final, we now have a game less meaning that in fact the event will end a few hours earlier for the purposes of the vast majority of players (because even with the ‘Friday’ event a good portion will not attend this because they’ll be doing other things or traveling up to Nottingham, it is a work night afterall. Somehow despite losing all these things the ticket price remains the same, it’s not according to Andy ‘a viable option for us’.
If the GT’s were making a loss I could maybe understand this – do some number crunching though and you’ll see the sort of gross income they have from these events at a venue which is already there regardless of the event, I don’t believe for a minute they were making a loss.
The thing is there are plenty of other great Tournaments out there, a recent highlight for me was Bristol Vanguard, it’s organization was on a par with the GT, the terrain if anything was better, the food was pretty good, the venue was nothing special and the people were great – the price was half of the GT, the fact is the prestiege of the official event is all well and good, but at the end of the day it’s coming to a point where this is the main selling point, GW actually offering less just as other events are offering more does not sound to me like a good move if they want attendance to continue.
I can’t finish on an unhappy note, because I do have to add one little thing, pretty much the same that I ended to Andy Joyce with, the thing is as I started with I have loved the GT and the Throne of Skulls events, that’s down to the people who attend them yes, but even more so that’s down to the Events Team from top to bottom and not forgetting the volunteers who give up there time freely, I don’t think you could ask for a more dedicated group to organize and run the tournaments, they’ve turned out a great event year after year and I have a huge amount of respect for them for doing it. It is with real regret I won’t be attending this year, I know for a fact I’m not alone in feeling this, I have plenty of brilliant memories of the Tournament over the years and no matter what changes now and in the future that won’t change.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Commission - FW Commissar Bust Repair

A little while back I put out a request for a couple of FW IG Plasma Pistols and one very nice chap was happy enough to send me them for free - so I said I owed him a favour and here it is.

After some hunting he came across one of the old Commissar Crowe bust's which Forgeworld used to produce, they're fairly hard to get hold of and unfortunately this one was slightly damaged as you can see below.

He had clearly taken a tumble at some point, the chainsword had been broken cleanly but repaired however the handguard and pommel were missing, there was also some damage to one finger and one chainsword tooth was missing, though this was not to be repaired.

I removed the damaged section of the guard and replaced the whole thing with plasticard, and extended the damaged grip with some tube before tidying it with GS and fixing up the finger. The pommel came last with a slightly larger diameter of tube and a GS plug. Job done.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Misc Space Marines Pads 2

Another quick post with some freshly finished Space Marine shoulder pad designs that I was commissioned to do, the first one (top) is a lion design, it ended up slightly larger then I'd planned but I'm pretty satisfied with it. The second and third are I assume for a Space Marine Chapter which has been infected by Genestealers no less using a couple of classic Tyranid icons which have then been simplified for this small design.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Nurgle Obliterators (Part 3)

Just a little picture update, I had hoped to get more done but work has stalled again for the moment while I'm working on a few bits of sculpting work. So below is the painted body of my first Nurgle Obliterator. I'm pretty happy with the overal effect, though some of the added bits did'nt blend in quite as well as I'd of liked - though I did expect that on this first one, the second should be better, this one will get his arms first though which are mostly basecoated now.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

EBAY - New Listings - Rare, Limited Edition, Gold 30th Anniversary White Dwarf

Forgive some blatent advertising, but after a bit of thought I've decided to take advantage of a free listing day on ebay and put up for auction my Gold Plated 30th Anniversary White Dwarf figure and see if theres any interest in it.

Rather then start low with a reserve I've simply opted to start the auction at a high price (yes I know...), though one which is still lower then they went for in the days following the Anniversary when more then one went for over £200. For those not in the know each Games Workshop store had one of these pieces which was given away at in store events for various contest's on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the first publication of White Dwarf magazine. This particular example was the one given away by Games Workshop's Exeter store in the UK.

The auction is HERE.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

English Civil War - Edward Montagu's Regiment of Foote (Part 4)

Thats the first block of Pike done, bar the leaders, next up for some Musketeers - though I've few other things to do first! Damnation, still I've stolen a march on those Royalist's!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

English Civil War - Edward Montagu's Regiment of Foote (Part 3)

Time to start painting my English Civil War regiment, that of Edward Montagu.

I'm using for reference 'The English Civil War 1642-1651, An Illustrated Military History' by Philip Haythornwaite and first published by Blandford Press in 1983. Reliable sources for uniforms of the period are a bit sketchy and I'm not too concerned in total realism, so I'm using a colour plate from the book which presents Montagu's regiment as wearing a crimson jacket with various browns and leathers for other gear.

The result is this test model, very simply done with base coats including predominantly Blood Red and Khemri Brown with a Devlan Mud wash - I'm not spending alot of time on each model as they'll be in big units, so lots of them.

So thats Roundheads 1 - Cavaliers 0, come on Tim or your gonna lose the war before it's started!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Hobby Fund (1st June)

Well that went pretty well, some sales, including a few on ebay saw an income of almsot £120 for the hobby fund, which combined with the chunk left in it at the start of May has let me pay off the Reaver in full now putting it firmly in the black. I also treated myself to a pre-order on one of the new Imperial Guard Manticore kits, but combined with a discount voucher and accumilated 'money back' from Maelstrom it only cost £19.00 - even better!

I'm planning on updating my sales list this month, I've a few more bits and pieces to add, but I'm also going to start hunting down a few new bits as well to help finish my Plague Marine army - that said I'm going to avoid any serious spends until the summer now, when it'll be time to sort myself out a gaming table.

  • Starting Balance 1st May = £98.03

  • Sales in May = £117.00

  • Sales Fee's in May = -£8.04

  • Purchases in May = -£18.85

  • Misc Income/Outgoings = £0.00

  • Reaver Fund Repayment = -£150.00

  • Balance 1st June = £38.14

  • Reaver Fund Outstanding = £0.00