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"NOVA Open: My Curious Excursion" Topic


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739 hits since 1 Sep 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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The Bibliophile Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2018 12:30 p.m. PST

As I've mentioned plenty of times since starting this blog, I'm new to the whole tabletop miniatures gaming hobby. I am having a blast, and it has become something of a consuming pastime, sometimes scarily crowding out my interest in other things that might have once captured my imagination and arrested my attention.

So it stands to follow then that I decided I should go today to check out the biggest miniatures gaming convention in the Washington, D.C. area, NOVA Open. I liked the backstory of how the convention started as a big BBQ in a local fella's backyard, drawing about 32 players for an afternoon of fun back in 2009. It smacked of just the kind of community-building inspirational success story that's hard not to like.

Unfortunately, that homegrown spirit and sense of fun wasn't in much evidence today as I roamed around the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Virginia (just across the Potomac River from D.C.).

Read my full report and check out dozens of photos at my blog, Scrum in Miniatures: link

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Again, the full report and photos at my blog, Scrum in Miniatures: link

Xintao01 Sep 2018 1:18 p.m. PST

Very cool. I really want to get down there one day.

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2018 7:39 p.m. PST

It's too bad that it didn't really meet expectations. On the plus side, there is some nice looking terrain in the pics you posted. I might have missed where you mentioned it, but were any dealers present?

KPinder02 Sep 2018 7:44 a.m. PST

I flirted with coming, but decided against it based on their vendor list. Which is too bad, upon reflection, as Firelock was there, tho not on their list. That would have been enuf to tip the scales.

Booger.

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2018 10:38 a.m. PST

Novacon definitely has a different "bend" to it. It's about playing tournament Warhammer, 40K, Star Wars, etc.

I might try that con next year and get into either KillTeam or Necromunda.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 8:16 a.m. PST

With all due respect, I think you are a little harsh on the con. It's like not liking an apple because it doesn't taste like a pear.

I am with you, the preponderance of GW (and ilk) tournament games is not my thing either. However, the games do have a very high quality to them. I find the armies and terrain at these types of conventions (Adepticon included) have a higher degree of artistry than what you see at the historical type conventions that I prefer. However, as my buddy TheKing30 states above, this may be to his liking. Horses for courses as the Brits say.

And whats with the knock against sandals? You've thrown the gauntlet down and I'll be wearing mine to Fall In. (But not with socks, even I have a limit with that).

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 8:26 a.m. PST

Oh ya, I forgot to mention that I am also a big fan of the Ganesha Games. Does the Sellswords and Spellsingers game use the typical "Songs of…." activation mechanism? Have you tried Songs of Blades and Heroes?

I just finished a Songs of Fear and Faith horror themed game at Broadsword 6* and will be running a Songs of Drums and Tomahawks game (Hurons vs Iroquois) at Kegscon* later this month.

* two conventions held in Southern Ontario

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 1:00 p.m. PST

And whats with the knock against sandals? You've thrown the gauntlet down and I'll be wearing mine to Fall In.
Let's hope its a fairly warn November ;-)

(But not with socks, even I have a limit with that)
Why not? I love wearing my Crocs with socks.

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 1:11 p.m. PST

However, as my buddy TheKing30 states above, this may be to his liking

I've always enjoyed the GW universe. They've given allot to the Historicals…

1) 25\ 28mm – Before WAB, the de facto size for ancients was 15mm.
2) Beautiful paint job – GW has really helped to raise the standards on paint jobs.
3) Terrain – I've seen beautiful terrain in the GW world before I saw it in Historical games.
4) Plastics – they started with the plastics before anyone else (excluding Airfix and Haat). But Airfix and Haat were more like the "bendable" figures – not the hard plastic figures that GW, Perry, Warlord, etc. make.

It seems that now Historicals have caught up – in figures, painting and terrain. I still think we owe GW a "thank you".

The only reason I wasn't crazy about GW games was the amount of figures (and money) one had to spend to get an army that was somewhat competitive. As I get older, I have less and less time to paint an army. I'm also happy painting a small amount and then moving on.

With Necromunda and Kill Team, that's not an issue. You can easily play with 10 – 15 figures a side. My son and I played with the box set of Kill Team and had a blast!

So, hence my liking for the new GW games.

Lion in the Stars03 Sep 2018 1:20 p.m. PST

Nova also had a pretty decent Infinity tournament, IIRC.

The Bibliophile Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 2:39 p.m. PST

…I forgot to mention that I am also a big fan of the Ganesha Games. Does the Sellswords and Spellsingers game use the typical "Songs of…." activation mechanism? Have you tried Songs of Blades and Heroes?

I really enjoy Ganesha Games' stuff, too. In fact, "Song of Blades and Heroes" was my first wargame (as I mentioned, I've only been at this for a couple of years now).

My group really loves "Sellswords & Spellslingers," and it is in fact the system I used to run a Conan-themed game at the last Historicon (https://miniaturescrum.blogspot.com/2018/07/historicon-2018-running-my-first.html). The activation mechanism in S&S is completely different from that used in "Songs and Blades," mostly because S&S is designed to be a co-op, so failed activations result in drawing a card from an event deck which can trigger a number of results, from activating some number of enemies in play, to setting off traps, to triggering some scenario-specific narrative type event. It's a really easy system to pick up, and quite customizable.

As for being too hard on NOVA Con, that may be true. It's just a side of this hobby I hadn't encountered first hand, and it's about as far from how I'd like to spend my time playing miniatures games as I can imagine.

I will agree, though, and meant to mention this more explicitly in my blog post, that the level of crafting that went into some of the boards was quite impressive, where I feel like the quality level on average of boards at Historicon was markedly lower this year than the year before (whether that's a trend, I have no way of knowing, as a confessed neophyte).

Anyway…didn't set out to step on anybody's toes…except for those guys wearing sandals. Put on some shoes and dress like a grown man, why don'tcha?!?

Ken Nielsen Inactive Member03 Sep 2018 5:11 p.m. PST

First, fantastic set of photos. Thanks for sharing. I attended on Saturday as my first venture to the NOVA Open, going with a buddy who has attended a few. Overall, I thought the con was pretty impressive. Estimated attendance was around 3,000 according to the nice young lady who handled our registration. Dealer selection was small by HMGS standards, maybe 25 vendors or so by my very rough count. With that said, GW was one of them, and they had a decent selection of their high end Forge World minis, which while absolutely breathtaking in terms of quality, remain outside my price range. I kind of got a chuckle out of your complaint about legions of folks playing the same game as a turn off. To me it just seemed like a souped up version of the DBA or Flames of War tourneys at the HMGS cons, with the main difference being they had numbers of people playing in each tournament we can only fantasize about seeing at a historical con event. Love to break this up into a couple of paragraphs, but my limited coding skills are long since forgotten. :)

Centurio Prime08 Sep 2018 6:06 p.m. PST

You took a few pictures of our Age of Sigmar narrative event but failed to notice that we were all playing different scenarios on different terrain and having fun games, not a tournament.

Fantasy Flight Games hosted Nationals for all of their Star Wars games at Nova this year, that is why you saw a large number of people playing the same game in the "Star Wars" room.

In addition, Nova hosts one of the biggest 40k tournaments in the US. But what you failed to notice was the 30k and 40k narrative games which were happening at the end of the hall.

Your post seems to basically say "I went to one of the largest tournament events and people were concentrating on the game, playing seriously…. and OMG they were filling out scoresheets!!!!"

Yes, you are allowed to make fun of the cosplayers, but that would make you what the tech-priests refer to as "a dick".

And whats with the weird comments about women? This event has always had wives/girlfriends/families as well as female gamers, and the event actually raises money for breast cancer.


You missed the narrative events which are played for fun, you missed the great painting seminars, and you missed the fun and social evenings at the Nova Open lounge on the top floor of the hotel.

Folks, do not let this curmudgeon's hit piece dissuade you from checking out the Nova Open next year! Its a very fun con full of friendly people and ran by great organizers. (And the proceeds go to fight breast cancer).

It doesnt have every game there, but it has a lot, and its always been a fun atmosphere, even in the tournaments. I played in the 40k tournament 2 years in a row and had a great time, even though I use non-competitive types of armies.

The Lord of the Rings tournament has absolutely awesome terrain on every table.

If you aren't into tournaments, there are "narrative" events (aka playing for fun) which are ran by some great organizers and are full of surprises.

The also had the worlds first 40k Kill Team tournament, Blood Bowl, and Necromunda. These game all have a relatively low "start up" cost if you want to get into a game without buying an entire army.

Keifer11308 Sep 2018 7:50 p.m. PST

I played at that 2009 tournament! Mike Brandt runs fun events.

Nova is first and foremost a 40k tournament, but has many other quality events present. And most of the gamers are old friends from around the country.

My buddy Bing Lee won the Blood Bowl tournament I believe.

I also think when you say GW is pricey…while character models are way over the top, I find their price point combined with what you get in many boxes these days are cheaper/better/higher quality than other comparable games. Certainly you can't beat 30-40 guys from Warlord or Fireforge or Victrix for 30 bucks, but those figures also tend to be monopose and lacking in extras.

The Bibliophile Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2018 10:45 a.m. PST

"Curmudgeon's hit piece"? I think you're being a little over-sensitive.

As for including mention of the female players, it has been my impression, and NOVA didn't do much to change it, that this is a hobby dominated by men. At the other wargaming conventions I've attended, I would say that literally 99% or more of the participants were men; at NOVA Open there were twice as many women, but that's still 98% men. The larger subtext (if you could have avoided taking my post so personally) is basically, "Hey, neat! There are some female gamers at NOVA Open, which is cool in a hobby that is monolithically male dominated…but don't get too excited, there still aren't that many women."

Part of my hope by showing photos of female gamers is to encourage other women to not dismiss these events as being only attended by a throng of smelly neckbeards and overgrown man children. My female gaming friends comment with surprise when they see the photos of women at these cons I post on my blog. It's my way of trying to make it seem safer for women to contemplate one of these convention as a possible good time.

You're absolutely right about the charitable-giving aspect of the convention, which is an admirable aspect of the gathering. I mentioned that in the comment section of my blog. It was one of the reasons I didn't have any regrets for paying the $20 USD entrance fee.

The Bibliophile Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2018 10:50 a.m. PST

And just to follow up on the "other games" supposedly at NOVA Open, I was excited when I saw that Warlord Games would be set up at the convention. They have a number of games I would have loved to have tried, including Bolt Action. I saw the sign for their room, but when I poked my head in around 2:00, I found 10 tables set up, nine of which were devoid of players. The one table at which a game was actually being played had four guys sitting at it. Several local wargaming buddies confirmed that this matched their experiences from years past…a handful of empty tables for everything but GW and Star Wars games.

In the end, my blog makes it clear that this is a great gaming convention for people within narrow parameters: those who like tournament play in the GW and Star Wars universes. That's just not me, but it obviously was a lot of other people, based on the high attendance I noted in my blog.

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