It sure has taken me a long time to write my take on Novaopen 2011, I waited partially because I wanted to read what others had to say about the event. If you took the time to scour the Internet you would find a generally positive response, with the biggest gripe being leveled at the hotel. What I found interesting is while the Internet seems generally pleased the story I heard wasn’t so rosy. As most people know Blood of Kittens has stirred up things from time to time and at first I wasn’t going to say anything. I didn’t attend and everything I got from txts, emails, and phones calls could have been made for not so honorable reasons, but when the stories all had the same ring to them, it was time I decided to say something.

The problem begins with this: most of our community is nice… too nice.

They see the hard work any TOs puts into an event (especially one with a hurricane) and you don’t want be too harsh (understandable). There are those that also don’t know any better– having never traveled to a large event so anything with over 30 players seems ultra special. Then there are those that cannot see Novaopen ever doing anything wrong, either bought or brown nosed into loving the event– these folks think it is the second coming. As someone who isn’t nice and who loathes having his ass kissed, I looked at Novaopen with an apprehensive eye. So when people started contacting me about all the crap going on, it naturally only reinforce my orginial perception.

The second problem with the Novaopen: it made a deal with the devil.

By focusing SO much on the competitive gamer it created a nexus for potential miscreant and deviant behavior. It makes sense though it its own way: bring the most vocal on the Internet to your side and use their influence (free advertising) to promote your event. Having not learned from last year obsession with the “competitive community” this year the event decided to double down, by adding things like cash prizes and a special invite only tournament. Which for publicity makes sense, but for community building not so much.

This strategy will only get you so far. The vast majority of players are casual and to get them to stick with your event you have to offer more than tool time. That is why (if you noticed) Novaopen made some effort to attract casual gamers by stressing events like the doubles tournament and an award like renaissance man. Still the vast majority of discussions weren’t devoted to anything casual.

Instead, we got wall to wall coverage of the two main competitive tournaments: the invitational and the grand tournament. What did it produce? It produced for the second year in a row a winner that either cheated or grossly misunderstood the rules. As an aside, I would have been more sympathetic to the faux pas if it wasn’t a special character Tony had been playing with for an ENTIRE YEAR! Also what about the some 1/4 – 1/2 attendees that left right after hotel check out time on Sunday. The excuse I am sure for some was the hurricane, but some people realized that by losing a single game there wasn’t any left to stay for. Or they may have been exhausted by the sheer number of games with little downtime.

Now I could continue the laundry list which do stretch from truth to the fantastic, but instead I want to respond to the words said from another blog, which summarized many things I was hearing about Novaopen 2011. Here is a link…

That report came from one of the more competitive players in the country, the type of player the organizers of the Novaopen have tried to massaged from the beginning. By his own account the Novaopen wasn’t the event for him, a feeling he had that couldn’t be quantified by statistics: it was just a gut response. It is feeling that you cannot put into a survey or spin away.

The event focus on the top 16, but ended (for many) forgetting about the other 200. You know the players that made the cash prizes possible? This made me wonder: can you build a friendly event when you start with only the most competitive and work your way down? Is the Novaopen the trickle down economics of Warhammer tournaments? Sure, you can have a GT based around tournaments and it doesn’t even need soft scores, but it has to welcome everyone not just the top 2%.

It also can’t shame people who bringing only certain armies. It has to have a system that doesn’t cater to just those few who live and breathe “competitive” 40k. Otherwise you end up with only them and every douche wannabe that leaves after the first lose. It has to be an event that doesn’t embrace players like Stelek (has he mentioned his cheating yet?) or Dashofpepper, but instead tells them their behavior is unacceptable not a reward with best sportsmanship. It has to be an event where the judges don’t let the GT winner abuse the powers of a unit he should have damn well known how to work.

So why is the Noveopen is so scrutinized by not just me, but so many others?

It gets back to the love affair the Novaopen created with the blogosphere which casts a big light and exposes everything good and bad. As for myself the Novaopen from the beginning seemed fake. The same way most politicians seem fake. It’s defenders also have a cult like devotion and the TOs response to any criticism reads like a soulless corporate memo.

I had hoped enough changes would be made after the first year. Instead, I find myself hearing more horror stories, not less. I wish more people like Stillfrosty would come forward, because the myth of the Novaopen is just that a…

I want to warn people beforehand I don’t plan to respond to any comments made about this article. I will let my words speak for themselves and if you want to nerd rage you’re welcome! I know Novaopen has many defenders, but please take one second to think not about your experience, but the experience many others have had– remember they are entitled to the hobby just as much as you are.

Side note: I want to send some love to two of the funnest  pieces related to the NovaOpen you can find on the net.