Wednesday, December 21, 2016

6th Elvensword Ambassadorial Grand Tournament

We have evolved.

This year marks the 6th time we will have run our tournament and it is ascending to GT status this year.  We've come a long way from the desolation that 6th Edition imposed on some 40K communities.  Some of it is just people being petty and playing the role of armchair captains of industry, parsing every decision Games Workshop makes and nit picking until they have talked themselves out of enjoying the game.  Oh those unfortunates.  Some of it was a legitimate series of responses to an increasingly violent roll out schedule that left many people so bruised and battered they couldn't see straight.  If the books and the roll out were more reasonably priced, perhaps 6th Edition would have been better received.  Who knows?  Who cares?

The point is, numerous organizers like me had to resurrect or resuscitate as the case may be, a community in disarray.  This tournament was a central part of my attempts, though a lot of smaller fun events went into it as well.  A lot of hard working TO's deserve some credit here.

The Elvensword Ambassadorial GT is sponsored by some great companies I'd like to thank.  The website, which is excellent, has been a great tool for us and it immediately added gravitas to the event.  Jive Consulting can do one for any tournament, using any format, nationwide.   George Allen Butler is a soldier and an author who contributes directly and liberally, which gave our event the freedom to be more creative and financially lucrative for its players.  He is our title sponsor and his books, the Fox Elvensword trilogy, are available on Amazon here..  Our prizes last year for the players last year exceeded $1300 and this year we may even exceed that.  It's awesome to be able to offer that to players.  We also provide free door prizes and we feed the Ambassadors who attend a big meal and provide drinks and snacks for them free of charge.  Our venue, the Game Matrix made that possible and their support has been well above and beyond other game stores.  My own insurance agency sponsors it as well, providing the back end support we need to make it all work.

I went ahead and did a battle report of the very first mission that will be played at the GT.  It, like all of them, are a custom mission.  Feel free to comment on YouTube or here if you prefer.  keep in mind, I am no pro photographer, but it came out looking decent and pretty easy to see.

I hope you enjoy it.  The lists and mission information are all on the YouTube channel.  If you wish to attend the GT this year, it will be one of the last available to you before the end of the ITC season, and it will be a full on ITC event.  So snatch up the few remaining openings if you can and come enjoy the fun, the prizes, the ITC ranking points and the challenge. Here is a link to our rules, missions, and registration.  Everything a growing gamer needs to attend!  6th Elvensword Ambassadorial Rules link

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I have recently taken to getting a little practice on VASSAL, which is a software engine that allows you to play Warhammer 40,000 with other people online.

One of my favorite things about VASSAL is its ability to take and place terrain and then your units, so that you can play out a turn one scenario.  So much hinges on the first turn and the skill with which you plan it in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  It is so akin to a chess game, only when you make a mistake it’s a bit easier to correct and of course the inclusion of the dice makes for drama that a chess game can never emulate. 

The trouble is that you will often come to a blog like mine or a forum and hear some really sound concepts, but you have no real way of kind of playing that out a little bit to see how to apply it with your own army.  Many people are primarily visual learners (I am more of an audial learner but I appreciate the way this visual aid helps me).

What I am recommending to people who read this is to perhaps download the Vassal engine (the 6th edition of it is actually easier to deal with, from what I have seen) and then the 40K modules for it, so that when you are reading my advice or someone else tell you how great this or that tactic could be, you can pop it open, place some terrain and “see” what is being said on a board that most closely resembles the ones you normally play on.

One thing I detest about most of the forums I am a regular contributor on is the propensity for snarky dismissive people to react to an opinion with pretty much no honest effort put to evaluating that opinion.  Yet when you have VASSAL, it is easy to illustrate to them the basic idea.  Now they can of course still argue and refute you and they may even be right some of the time; but the ability to illustrate the concept and allow for a common vision of what is being assumed is really worthwhile.  Onlookers and others can see clearly what you mean and what the terrain assumptions are which is missing in most online forums.  Even if a random personality here or there refuses to acknowledge your point, others may see it or try it.

VASSAL  has a little learning curve, as it is meant to allow you to do pretty much anything the game allows and frankly anything it doesn’t.  It’s not as if a big company developed it.  Just downloading and installing the 40K modules might prove to be annoying (initially) and require far more Internet searching than it should.  But I encourage you to go through the pain of installing it and then practicing with it.  I think you will find that you can save pictures of your work onto Photobucket or whatever site you use for such things and then be able to post those pictures at will on social media or on forums, whichever you happen to frequent so that you can engage in a good faith discussion.  There aren’t enough of them happening online and VASSAL could be of help in that regard.

The engine can be downloaded here, last time I checked:

Here is the one place i was able to find the 40K modules you will need.  I'm posting both here for completeness sake, but would recommend using Version 6 of the Vassal40K modules unless someone can figure out what I am doing wrong on this 7th Edition one,.  Lol.  You get strange pop ups when you go to the site so just close them out and ignore them.

Version 6:
Version 7:

Here's to hoping for better and more civil online discourse!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Getting started in Warhammer 40,000

An online friend text'd me and said "After all this time, I still don't have a solid direction I want to go in 40K'

We talked about it back and forth and this is a friendly guy I have known for a long time.  He has always "run into walls' as he puts it, and been very discouraged by his lack of progress in either making a decision on the faction he wants to play and the way he wants to play it.  

He is probably the hardest person I have ever tried to give advice to because his general emotional state is more relevant than his tactical acumen.  I mean how can you gain tactical acumen without practice and how can one practice without commitment to the particular faction and their methods of war?  So it's tough to tell him which direction to head.  The best direction I told him, was "towards the fun".

This did however trigger in me the idea of writing a short blog on the problem of peoples difficulty in just getting started.

People see the models that Games Workshop produces and they realize in a stunning epiphany that there are actual rules for playing this as a game which is usually an incredibly exciting moment of revaluation for new gamers, and one they often remember in some way  The first thing I explain to them is that they are better off playing a couple of warm up games with a friend and getting the hang of the rules before moving on to making any big decisions about which factions they would want to play.  The enthusiasm grows quickly as a rule and they want to get those models and build them post haste so no matter how good the advice, they plunge in.

The second thing I tell them, flat out to their aces is that unless they are themselves playing others at the same basic place in the game, there will be losses and they will be many in number.  I am a competitive guy so my wife got me a Tau army and i painted it and was playing veterans almost within a week.  I lost 13 of my first fifteen games as some of my loyal readers know.  It was quite an ice bath.

I think peoples expectations must be tempered when they first play, but this kind of brought home how important it is to bring someone with you into the hobby.  I mean if you are going to start playing this game and start to even eventually consider competitive play in tournaments, nothing is a better idea than having a competitive player moderate the game and help both sides with lists.  If you want to play this game, bring a friend!  This is really important advice.  I don't hear anyone giving this advice because in their haste to "help" the player learn the hobby, they often simply overwhelm them.  being "too good" is a problem but not if the person entering it gets to know the game with a friend and latches on to a mentor that can teach you both.

This has two great side benefits.  One is that you are much more likely to learn the game correctly.  By correctly I don't just mean the rules.  I also mean the social conventions that people at your shop generally conform to.  For example, some shops play rubble (which is a 4+ cover save) as being the entire base of the terrain piece while other shops do not include the outer edges of a building to be considered as rubble (the Main Rulebook sort of took the old "Area terrain" idea, scrapped it, but did offer up "Rubble" as a terrain type to use in its place in 7E).  The second benefit is that it removes the highly honed competitive strength of the mentors list from the equation and allows the mentor to guide both sides on their list building.

We know that the cost for an army can become exorbitant if you aren't real clear in what you want to buy, before buying it. that makes it twice as good an ideas to bring a friend into the hobby with you.  You can benefit from model swaps if you purchase the starter box sets and the cost in general goes down for both of you.  In addition as you build your force you also have the added benefit of being able to do it incrementally and the guy you brought with you into the hobby need feel no pressure to speed up his purchases or make ill advised ones.  After all the mentor will be there to guide both of them.

So when and if you ever find out the Tzeentchian secret that these world class ridiculously awesome models actually come with rules that allow you to play with them (which still blows my mind after all this time) bring a friend into the hobby with you, seek out a mentor and explain to them that the two of you would love his help in moderating and help in to grow both collections.  

Mentors will also probably know a lot of people who have models they can let the newest member of the fraternity borrow to try out, or flat give them.  The gaming community is all about the newest person and helping them (if it's a good community) and I know many players locally have been huge beneficiaries of gaining models to their collections just by the people the mentor may know.

Making a decision on which way you want to go, both as far as which faction and how deep, is easier when you grow WITH someone who is right there with you.