Not a Good Look
It has been a few weeks, but after much thought and a few people asking me, I thought I give a few thoughts on the whole Nova Open Invitational debacle. Now for those who don’t know or don’t follow the competitive scene let me give you a quick recap…
The Nova Open has every year held an Warhammer 40k Invitational Tournament, marketed as the elite of the elite, this brings together the best American players in one place to duke it out for cash monies. This year we saw the final championship game decided on two dice rolls, and not in the good way. Streaming live on Twitch, after taking close to 40 minutes of setup one player quit after not being able to go first and then not being able to seize. So instead of playing out the game one side forfeited giving up a chance to win 1,000 bucks and decided drama on an epic level was a better deal.
Now I haven’t followed this event as closely as I use to, but in the past the invites to the event were pretty strictly given out, but from the looks of it the invitational has become more 40k Tool Academy than anything else. The cash prize is still a princely sum, for what has devolved into, what I had always assumed, another good o’ boys event.
I have in the past been critical of the Invitational on multiple levels, focusing mostly on the prize money aspect. I am aware this ship has seemed to have sailed on this issue, with LVO and other events handing out money instead of prize support or gift cards. So it came as no big surprise, rumors starting fly about the game being rigged. Both players in the final game are friends and both were on the ETC American team together, with one even being Team Captain. Of course, this accusation has no evidence to it whats so ever, but the fact it can be easily bandied about says something.
If a decent chunk of change wasn’t part of the equation this sort rumor mongering wouldn’t be possible, it doesn’t help matters either when one of the participants has quit games and events before in a similar manner. Then you throw on top, an event becoming less based inclusion of participants, but on who knows who, does kinda make the whole Invitational seem like a farce. It though could have been worse, at least the final Invitational game wasn’t shown on WarhammerTV.
Enough with the inherent problems of this particular tournament format, what can we learn as players from this experience?
Well the lessons are kinda two fold. First, full disclosure, I have quit events, I have in fact quit on the top table even, but only because the person on the other side was a total tool. Still, I though at least played out the first couple turns, because I just make a calculation of emotional distress vs. chance of winning. It is also one thing to quit a small event, but not a national event like Nova Open. Still, I know as someone who has quit before, it is totally not a good look in any way! I couldn’t imagine quitting a game live on stream with such high stakes, especially against a friend.
It only brings up more questions than answers, excuses like being too hungover or staying up too late still disrespects your other opponent, but more importantly disrespects all the other players who you beat to get there. Not to mention what the event organizers have to deal with. If you think you are going to lose at least put up a good fight for a few turns and see if something miraculous happens. Then you have stream audience and the greater community at large, which honestly doesn’t really matter, but with the power of the Internet can make innocence into a nefarious plot.
The second more overarching thing is why quit at that moment in the game itself. One a moment, let us assume a person who plays in the Nova Open Invitational isn’t a 40k chump like, say myself, but someone who in theory should be a top tournament player. This means if we are giving the benefit of doubt, the quitter quit because he knew he couldn’t win against the opposing list. This could mean if true, that something is fatality flawed with the 8th edition.
If you look as closely as I do at lists you can see why. 8th edition design flaws are consistently being exploited; flyers, Forge World laziness, character rule exploitation, insanely open army construction rules, all point to a conclusion that the 8th edition is fast becoming a competitive dead end. This recent episode should be heard as a cry for help, to fix the game before it becomes unfixable, maybe say before 10 new codexes are out. I have tried to poke around at possible solutions, but Games Workshop and the playtesters should be smarter than this one mind. Random patches to problems don’t seem to be doing the trick, as the most competitive only look to find the next exploit created with these game patches.
Now if you read the 40k Internet for the most part the 8th edition has been received like soft kitten kisses; for the most part the average player is having fun fooling around with toys that haven’t seen the tabletop in an age, but this won’t last. Many are still overjoyed Games Workshop is “listening” even if the results don’t turn out exactly it has been hyped, but this won’t last. It doesn’t help that Games Workshop has co-oped most of the media around Warhammer 40k with trinkets of insider access. Constantly, I hear players telling us to just wait for all the new codexes, wait for Chapter Approved, or whatever next can Games Workshop keeps kicking away from us. So far the new codexes are just minor tweaks hidden in homogeneity, over the guise of false uniqueness.
The Nova Open invitational showed us some big problems with Warhammer 40k, but are we up to the task to do something about it?
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