What. A. Weekend.
Turns out, I didn't totally finish my army. They're 90% done. The only thing that I didn't get finished (and I was painting until 1 am the night before, just like I said I didn't want to do) was 2 Grey Hunter squads. I just didn't get a chance to do all the details on their faces and weapons.
But there they all are! That's what I took with me to the NOVA Open. I'll finish them all up soon, but for the moment I need a little painting break. But, now, onto the event.
The schedule change between this year and last, for the GT at least, was both a good and a bad thing. Doing 3-3-2 games on Fri-Sat-Sun was an excellent change. However, the first game on Sunday ran 7:30-10am. That was too early for me, but the part that really sucked is the last round started right at 10:30. Hotel check out was at noon. So, you either had to check out before your first game, or risk being late for your second game.
Because I lost my voice (more on that in a minute), I ended up dropping
out of the Sunday games, which are optional for the people who weren't
playing for prizes. So, I was able to get us checked out ok since I
couldn't play. It would have been a huge pain, especially considering
that a trip to the parking garage takes half an hour (the parking
situation is terrible). An extra half hour, making it an hour between
the two rounds, would have solved that problem entirely.
Another change this year, which I think was excellent, was that they moved the vendors down a floor to a more open space and had the registration set up right as you came down off the escalators. It made for a much better flow than last year. They're still a little light on the "con" part, there were only a handful of vendors. I'd really like to see some vendors running game demos (which was one of the best parts of Historicon). There was a decent selection of seminars to choose from, but most conflicted with my ability to play in the GT. There's not enough to make it worth spending $45 to get a weekend pass. Picking one day and getting a day pass would have been entirely sufficient to see most everything.
That being said, I did make out like a bandit at the vendor booths. Warstore was there again, and they always have some awesome things to go through. My favorite vendor, though, (who I hope comes back next year) was The Game Room. They had bins and bins of individual minis and some bits (organized by army) for 40k, Fantasy, Warmahordes, Flames of Wars, and others, plus, some Forgeworld stuff, terrain, bases, and so much more. They also had tons of new boxed items, painted armies and units for sale, plus a lot of out of print items. A phenomenal selection! Not only that, but the owners are just the nicest people you could hope to meet. If I ever find myself out in Ohio, I will definitely make it a point to visit their store.
I didn't really get a chance to go through the vendors until Sunday. The GT games were most of my day, with some scrambling for lunch/dinner in between. The only other thing I scheduled initially was the Craft Beer Seminar on Saturday night. After two days and 6 games, I was feeling pretty good. So I stayed up a bit later than I would have otherwise and stretched my social butterfly wings. The seminar was really interesting, with a discussion of brewing history in the United States and tons of beer samples (large samples, too). I didn't call it a night until 2:30, which is unusual for me.
So I wasn't too surprised when I woke up for my 7:30am Sunday game not feeling my best. Unfortunately, it wasn't a hangover- I'd actually entirely lost my voice. At first, I just assumed it was a combination of shouting over 250 people at the GT for 2 days and then partying. Since I couldn't talk above a whisper, and it hurt like hell to do so, I had to drop out for the Sunday games. Sadly, it has since turned out to be due me getting sick. Con-sickness strikes again. I'm not feeling well now.
After I dropped, I scared up some cough drops, rehydrated, took a quick nap and was able to go about my Sunday with some success. After spending all my money with the vendors, I ended up signing up for the LED Lighting seminar and Mister Justin's weathering class. Chris from Poweredplay Gaming ran the LED seminar, which was super interesting. They make what are essentially plug-and-play LED lighting kits that you can put into your miniatures. They had several on display, including a Nightscythe and a Stormraven. They do all the hard stuff (soldering, math, trial and error, burning your fingers, etc) for you, and the end result is that you get a kit that you can put straight into your item of choice.
What a brilliant idea. My mind is absolutely a blur with possibilities. I have a nice, unassembled drop pod that is just waiting to be lit up. Best part about the seminar- we got to take away some goodies! I have a bunch of the light strings to play around with and I can't wait to fiddle around with them. I definitely recommend you check out their site or Facebook page to look at what people have done with their kits.
However, the weathering seminar left a bit to be desired. Which, was, I think, a trifecta of problems. First, it was about Justin's 12th seminar over the weekend. Totally understandable that he'd had a long, long weekend. Second, so had I. The seminar ended at 6, and I was sick and beat after a long weekend. Lastly, though, it focused primarily on a technique that requires an airbrush, which I do not have. Had I known that, I'd have probably skipped it.
Despite the packed schedule, I can't believe how many people I met this year. I don't
know if it was my change of game systems, the way they changed the
schedule from last year, or what, but I met about 20x times people than
before. Pretty much without exception, everyone I met and spoke with was awesome. By far, this was my best tournament experience to date in that respect. I'd also like to shout out to the couple of people who recognized me from the site and said hi! It was rad getting to meet you.
Last but not least, I'd like to talk about swag. I signed up as a VIP this year (now called Super NOVAs, which I think is awesome) and that meant I got a mega-ton of swag. The regular swag bag was just as fabulous as last year's- a bits bag, some Secret Weapon bases, a blister of Wargame's factory Zombie Vixen, magnets, the NOVA shot glass, laser pointer, Magic game cards, an Infinity miniature, plus the water & snack bag (which is great) and a lot of other stuff.
Now, as a Super NOVA, I also got the KR Multicase backpack filled with the regular swag bag plus a bunch of extra goodies. First off, that backpack is a-mazing. I broke it in all weekend and I'm very happy with it. It fits two of their standard size cases, but the second compartment can be zipped up to condense the bag (which is how I used it over the weekend). My only complaint with the bag is that it's easy to lose your gaming items in the two smaller zippered compartments in the front of the bag.
In the Super NOVA bag came a glass beer mug, plastic cup with straw, a VIP shirt, extra bits, pens, two USB plugs (one for car, one for outlet), another Secret Weapon base and a bottle of their black wash (can't wait to try it), and, most exciting of all, a set of the Max Mini wolf heads, the ones I considered using for my Wulfen. How'd I score that? Well, each VIP bag got something customized to the army that they selected when they signed up. Obviously, I picked Space Wolves.
As if that wasn't enough goodies, they also do a ton of raffle prizes. In the initial raffle, I won two sets of dice- one with an American Flag and one with the Union Jack. I'm pretty sure Casey's going to use them for his Bolt Action games. During the award ceremony on Sunday, anything that didn't get picked up was re-raffled out to those that remained. This was a hundred times more organized and better done than last year, which I really appreciate. Out of that, I got 10 blisters of Samurai warriors.
Now, from the hotel raffle (which you get entered into for staying at the hotel), I really made out. I won a standard aluminum KR Multicase. Holy. shit. Those things are expensive. It's lovely, it has enough foam in it to fit 160 marine-size models. The best part? It fits in the freaking VIP backpack. Couldn't have planned it better if I tried. I'm stunned by how much stuff I ended up coming home with.
Overall, I had a much better time at NOVA this year. They fixed a lot of problems from last year. I really appreciate that they keep trying to innovate and improve the event to make things better. I'm definitely excited to go back next year.
I'll do a follow up post in the next couple days with a battle report from the tournament. There's too much going on to put it all in one. Plus, I'm super beat.