Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another Update on the Possible HH Tournament

Further Update.
Further to the earlier post today and the initial one yesterday about arranging a possible Horus Heresy Tournament, I've been getting a few more quotes in -- this time from providers who are more in the mid-tier rather than in the upper ends of what is possible. 

The one that stands out the most to me from both a practical and a financial point of view is from the University of Hull. The University is cheaper than the apex locations (like KCOM stadium and The Deep), but still significantly more than a church hall would be. 

The reality of the quote that I obtained is that I could offer ticket prices in the region of 40 to 50 pounds (although probably more like 50 pounds once other considerations are factored in). Importantly, this amount would cover a TWO DAY event. However, it means that I would make a short term loss on the event. I could claim that loss back very readily by running a second tournament later in the year though, assuming this one works out well enough. That's my problem and not yours though dear reader!

The University of Hull has a number of things going for it. Firstly: Free Parking on site during the weekend (at the owner's risk, of course). The support offered by the University is comparable to that of a dedicated hotel team. The staff are well-used to handling wedding receptions, funeral wakes, concerts, and everything in between. Hence we would be very secure and well looked after in many regards. 

For those of you not familiar with the area, the University is offset from the city centre (as defined by the railway station) by about a 5 minute drive, traffic dependant (regular bus services every 10 to 15 mins from the city centre connect it up to the city very well indeed). It is located in a pleasant, leafy suburb of the north part of the city. There are nearby food outlets contained both on and off the university campus that would be fine for such a tournament. Overnight accommodation can readily be found nearby or in the city centre itself.

There would still be undergraduate students around the place though (including perhaps players themselves!), but we would be located on the first floor of a recently refurbished entertainment building on the campus and therefore away from the centre of the action. 

I've been offered a number of dates. The most plausible is May 13th and 14th. That's slightly sooner that I would have hoped for, but later in May is a public holiday weekend in England which makes things tougher (plus not wanting to clash with the Coventry event either). I could potentially negotiate for June though. 

So. There it is. May 13th and 14th 2017, all day on both days for a 5 round tournament of 30k. Would people be able to make it if I went ahead??? (or delay till later in the year?). 

(aside: this tournament idea is going to need a name soon if it gets any more real! suggestions welcome! The polls on the right hand side are still open for use until next week, please fill them in if you've not already done so. Additionally, send me emails -- -- or leave comments! I'm on the cusp of making this a reality now...)

Updated Thoughts on Tournament Hosting for 30k

A few days ago, we floated the idea of running a Horus Heresy tournament locally in the East Riding of Yorkshire and Humberside area. In the short amount of time that that blog post and idea was posted, I have been contacted by a number of people all expressing their encouragement and positive ideas for such an event. This post today is therefore an update as to where this idea is currently at. 

Venues and Costings.
I have informally asked a number of different venues for potential costs for room hire for one and two days. A few have got back to me with prices, and a number require chasing up. At the high end of the scale, venues such as KCOM stadium would be rather costly at (or over) 350 pounds per day. That cost, in and of itself, is not prohibitive though, it just means a high ticket price for attendees. The Deep (aquarium) would cost at least 250 pounds per day for a small tournament, and double that for a larger tournament. Possibly do-able, but again, I'm unconvinced about these two upper tier venues -- at least for the first tournament. On top of this, public liability insurance would be required to be paid. Hence I am thinking that these upper tier venues might be locations for a future event down the line.

The main problem arising is that the venue hire is only a part of the initial outlay for me. The purchase of additional boards (or gaming mats) and appropriate scenery is another large component. Therefore if we went a little bit more down market, the cost to the attendees would be significantly lower. 

The other factor in all of the costings that I've put together so far is the fact that I would need to run not just one event, but probably a minimum of two events to make my money back if I wanted to keep costs to the attendees reasonably low. Again, this is not a big problem, it just means that either my business account or my personal account would have to take a short term "hit" until I ran two separate tournaments to recover my expenses. I am not sure how I feel about running back-to-back tournaments yet though and whether such a short term loss would be significant for me. Equally, if the first tournament is successful and popular, I don't see why a second couldn't be hosted later in the year. Or perhaps even a 40k tournament instead of a Horus Heresy one. 

Polling and Viability.
As above, I have received a good number of positive messages, both here on the blog and via email. Please keep them rolling in as I am genuinely interested in hearing about what you think would make a high quality tournament (rather than something hosted at a local GW store, or similar). 

It seems from the responses that I have had that such a tournament would be viable. However, a few more people telling me that they're very likely to come would be more … re-assuring. 

The polls to the right are still open for responses until the start of next week. Please let me know your preferences using those polls and carry on emailing me (warpstoneflux AT gmail dot com), or leaving messages in the comments. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

What If Warpstone Flux ran a Horus Heresy Tournament?

Hypothetically, what if the guys from Warpstone Flux were to run a Horus Heresy Tournament?

This is a question that I (we) have been pondering lately. The main question I have for my readers is: would you attend?

To be clear: I am 100% serious here. This blog has taken a deep interest in the Horus Heresy and the local players are very knowledgable about the game. But I could only run a Horus Heresy tournament if I were reasonably sure that I could recoup the initial outlay costs. It is a chicken-and-egg situation really. I don't know if people will come, but the only way of knowing is to run the event. Yet I cannot afford to make a big loss on such an event for self-explanatory reasons. Hence in this post, I wanted to take a "temperature check" on whether this would be worth undertaking, or whether I should just write it off and not bother.

In order to make that evaluation, I want YOUR input please. Please use the polls on the right hand column of the web-browser version of the blog, or leave a comment. And please: be honest. Don't just fill it in without thinking or being honest.

Prior Experience.
What makes me think that I could pull a tournament like this off?

Well, I have nearly two decades worth of experience in organising conferences for my professional work and day job. This includes doing donkey work like making bookings, insurance details, working with venues and everything else associated with making sure that such events are pulled off smoothly. I am personally very confident that I can make arrangements for hosting a tournament with a minimum of fuss and make the day enjoyable for attendees. I have dealt with various conference sizes ranging from a dozen or so people, right up to 400-500 attendees.

Obviously, running a conference is not the same as running a tournament, but I have attended so many tournaments in both Australia and the United Kingdom to realise the details involved in a tournament, ranging from swiss-pairings to prizes. Again, I am personally very confident of all of this.

My motivation in wanting to run a tournament is to create a great experience and to see some of the wonderful Horus Heresy armies out there in person. Plus to meet some of you fantastic people in person finally. 

In order to run a tournament, I need to set an entry fee per person. The fee would need to cover the hiring of the venue and anything else associated with it (e.g., a hot or cold lunch buffet, tea, coffee and any other sundries, in addition to any prizes or trophies that might be awarded).

Looking at a number of recent tournaments, the price tag for entry varies quite a bit from free (usually local events hosted by a Games Workshop store), up to something like the SN events in Gibraltar ("No Retreat Horus Heresy" for instance), with a price tag of GBP 75.00.

So, assuming that you would want to come along, my second question is how much of an entry fee would you be willing to pay? Please answer in the polls to the right, or leave a comment below.

To be clear from the outset, my goal is to not make much of a profit. Any cash profit would be immediately re-invested in purchasing extra scenery for potential future tournaments (and yes: if successful, this would not be a one off event and we would consider running more Horus Heresy events, Warhammer 40,000 tournaments, and even Age of Sigmar tournaments in this part of the UK). However, a larger entry fee would enable better venues, better tables, more and varied terrain features and scenery and so forth. So what price would you be able and willing to pay for an entry fee?

In organising a tournament, the venue is probably the singular biggest factor for the organisers to arrange. It is also one of the most expensive.

My next question is therefore about a venue. Assuming that the tournament would be held locally for the Warpstone Flux team, that would mean somewhere in the East Yorkshire region of the UK. In all probability it would mean the UK City of Culture 2017: Hull! This is just because of (a) accessibility from mainland UK and nearby Europe; and (b) it has the venues needed due to being a city. As a city, it is well served by roads (M62 motorway and A63), rail (Paragon Interchange is a major terminus for trains from London, the North and the West), bus (good links to regional destinations including York, Lincolnshire, etc.) as well as National Express, airport (Humberside airport is reasonably close; Manchester airport has reasonably direct trains to Hull too), and ferry services (regular services to nearby Europe / Rotterdam and Zeebrugge with P&O ferries). Of course, it could also be a nearby village or town -- Beverley in particular springs to mind as they have a train station and lots of possible venues. 

There are three broad options that I could envision undertaking such a tournament at:
Option A: an upper end venue. This would be somewhere "unique" like the KCOM stadium (a football / soccer stadium from the English Premier League in the UK) or The Deep (a nationally acclaimed aquarium). Both have the venues needed to pull off a tournament like this, and would offer more besides. Entry fee would certainly have to be in the GBP 75.00 range, depending on numbers. And that's before I contact them to see if there are any available slots (they tend to book out well in advance with wedding receptions and the like). 

Option B: something mid-range. This might be a large hotel such as the Royal Hull Hotel (next to the Hull Paragon Interchange train & bus station), the University of Hull, or the Mercure Hotel in Willerby (in a village near to Hull). Again, these kinds of venues are used to running things like weddings and conferences and we would be well set up in such a venue.  Entry fee would likely be GBP 50.00 or thereabouts, depending on the exact details.

Option C: something at the lower end. This could be a church hall, or perhaps an assembly hall in a high school that had sufficient room. The main negative for me in these venues is the lack of facilities provided by the hosts and the lack of experience that such a venue might have in hosting these events. It would be a lot cheaper though. Attendees would likely have to walk further / drive further / take a taxi from the train station. All that said, it could be great for a starting event in the series before going up in scale or venue and would certainly allow much more scenery to be bought! Entry fee would be well under GBP50.00 in all probability.

Tournament Format.
Assuming that all of the above is okay, what sort of format would folks want for a tournament? Let's take for granted we use the current 40k rule book and some of the standard missions from that rule book, and from the Horus Heresy publications (at least ones without attacker / defender distinctions). Obviously I have my own ideas here, but let's hear yours too.

Firstly: how many rounds? Up to 3 rounds would mean a one-day event. Up to 5 rounds would make a two-day event. For a two day event, note that the costs would go up as the venue would obviously have to be hired for a second day. My personal preference would be to do a one day event and see how that goes first. But if there is enough interest and cast-iron guarantees of attendance then a 2-day initial event is certainly possible and feasible. 

Secondly: what lists should be allowed? Unbound (not my favourite due to the potential for abuse)? Only one faction or legion (most Horus Heresy tournaments tend to favour this)? One faction or legion with one Lords of War? One faction or legion with Primarchs but no other Lords of War (this disfavours those legions without primarch rules, of course)? One Age of Darkness FoC with one ally (but points restrict the allied detachment)? Regardless of this, I don't think that I would like to see folks use true titans on the battlefield as they're mildly unbalanced in the points range that I'd like to consider. Use them as scenery only(!) and nothing larger than an Questoris Knight in play realistically.

Thirdly: how should the winner be determined? All on game outcomes (not favoured as people can get dispirited and quit early)? Game outcomes plus sportsmanship? Plus painting (how does one prove that the army was painted by the entrant?)?

Fourthly: points limit. Larger points limit means longer games, but we could cap the length at 5 turns per game and impose a strict time limit. Some 1500 points is probably the lowest rung of the points ladder that would be playable for the Horus Hersey, but is very low all things considered. At the other end of the scale, 3000 points is about as high as one should go to ensure a game can be finished within a reasonable amount of time (say 2.5 hours). My own view is that somewhere in between is the optimal spot, but where exactly is this sweet spot?

If there are any people out there reading this that would be willing to sponsor such an event, please let me know either by writing to me via email (warpstoneflux AT gmail dot com) or leaving a comment below. Sponsorship could take many forms and I would be happy to chat. I would particularly be interested in hearing from anyone in the terrain making business. And I will think about emailing such folks for sponsorship if numbers are sufficient to justify running this tournament. If anyone could put me in contact with such folks, I'd also be happy to explore that at a later date once I'm confident such an event could be pulled off.

Alternatively, straight-up donations would also be welcome. 

Of course, we would be open to working with other entities out there to make a combined effort or collaboration (I certainly would be happy to work with other mature bloggers known for their Horus Heresy content). But the fact is that if I am making the initial outlay and room bookings, then it is on my shoulders ultimately if others don't pull their weight.

Other considerations.
Finally, the number of players would also be a consideration. At this stage, I don't want hundreds of entrants to cope with. I think the minimum number of people that I would need to make this a success would be in the region of 12. This is about ideal for an initial tournament in some ways as it means less initial outlay for purchasing of terrain. [Additionally, if there were an odd number of people, I would step up with my Alpha Legion forces to ensure that everyone had an opponent every round.]

At the mid-range, about 20 players might be about right for the kind of event I would ultimately like to run. Anything over that and I will make the tournament invitation only (invites being sent to those with full application forms and pictures of painted armies -- our interest here is in having awesome games with full terrain and seeing fully painted WYSIWYG armies on the battlefield; WAAC players not particularly welcome). That said, I could also do much larger numbers than this, but I simply don't have the terrain.

Speaking of terrain, I do have enough of a collection to cover several boards already. However, I would need to purchase additional gaming mats/boards, terrain and scenery to cover the remainder. This represents another outlay of investment for me, but the price tag would include most of this. I am loathe to borrow any terrain due to prior negative experiences (e.g., someone says that they will show up with a full board, but they are ill on the day of an event and therefore the terrain never materialises. I have seen this happen in person and it means that people at a tournament are forced to have a "bye" for one round. I would not want this to happen for a Warpstone Flux tournament). Having run some calculations, the more players, the more scenery outlay would be needed and this would take the ticket price for an A-class venue nearer to 75-100 GBP if there were (say) 12 to 20 players in the tournament. Subsequent tournaments could be run at less of a price tag though as I would then have most of the scenery needed for this. 

If desirable, I would also advertise on Front Line Gaming to ensure it would be part of the tournament circuit (i.e. using ITC rules for the main part) so folks that are so inclined could accumulate points.

Time of year is also a factor. Would a tournament be best run in a certain month of the year, or day of the week? Certainly weekends are the favourite spot for this, but venues tend to get booked up in advance for weekends more frequently than (say) Fridays. 

Summing up.
My main question in all of this remains if Warpstone Flux ran a Horus Heresy tournament (in Humberside / East Riding of Yorkshire, UK), would you attend?

There are lots of ancillary questions alongside this. Please let me know your thoughts. Use the polls to the right. Write comments below. Send me an email (warpstoneflux at gmail dot com). Be honest.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: The Wolf-kin of Russ

Huge. Wolves. Big huge wolves. Wolves the size you've not seen before loping around after Russ or sleeping at his feet and loyal to his commands. They also have names: Freki and Geri -- in line with the very old fluff thankfully.

These two wolves have a good stat line that enables them to regularly win in close combat against space marines.

Further, they can "Look Out Sir" for Leman Russ, which provides him with effectively a large pool of ablative wounds. For this reason alone, the wolf-kin come highly recommended.

Both come with rending, but only Geri gets precision strikes, and only Freki is a Crusader.

Their saving throw is only 5+. This is offset by the fact that they have 4 wounds each and also have feel no pain. Hence for the price tag, this is an 8 wound unit and therefore is priced reasonably. They need to beware of being shot before they reach close combat realistically. Secondly, some thought is needed in how they and Russ will reach close combat since they are very bulky.

Take them if you have the points cost available and are running Russ. Then think about how to get in combat. And then don't cry too much if they sacrifice themselves for Russ.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Leman Russ

With tanks named after him and a veritable legend of achievements, few could doubt the martial prowess of Russ. However, he was also a bit misunderstood. His brothers might have regarded him as a mere barbarian more akin to Angron or the Night Haunter. But the truth is much more than that. His legion and Russ himself were more nuanced and cultured than most imagined. More than this, Russ was the ultimate loyalist unto the end of days. A fact the Horus exploited by changing his orders when Russ was released to sanction the Thousand Sons.

The best way to view Russ is as a loyal analogue to Angron. He is simply splendid in close combat and can be relied upon to take on (and win against) almost anything else in the game. This includes other primarchs statistically. Even Horus would be rather likely to fall to Russ in a one on one arena. On average.

He has a number of special rules that help set this up. Like Horus, he can split his attacks between his two weapons. Balenight is a sword with "sever life" -- take a toughness test if you've taken wounds or suffer more. Helwinter is a sunder weapon which is always nice. His side arm is a Vulkan forged affair that has lots of short ranged shots and rending at AP3. Also very nice.

What really sets his melee component above everyone else though is his armour. At a base level is it 2+/4+, but he gets a 3+ save against flames, plasma and so on. The main effect though is to reduce the opponent's effectiveness with a -1 to hit in round 1 and -2 in every round after. This is really what sets him above and beyond other primarchs realistically.

Other than that he provides a Leadership bonus to his sons and howl of the death wolf which is very nice when pulled off well. He himself has a bunch of other special rules like night vision that help him along and he unlocks Varagyr Terminators as troops.

He price tag is fabulous for what he is capable of doing. But the main problem is that his is not a force multiplier in the same way Alpharius or Guilliman is. He is a close combat expert that gives a cute Ld bonus, and that is it for his team. He has to be treated accordingly -- get him to the fore of the combat and let him loose and the rewards will be reaped. In isolation, he will not be effective. He needs to be leading from the front. World Eater players will no doubt recognize this play style. But he needs to look out for hit and run units with big bonuses on the turn they charge.

He's a loyalist analogue of Angron. Treat him accordingly and he is absolutely amazing. Just watch you don't have rings run around you and take some accompanying units.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Priest of Fenris

To those outside of the Space Wolves legion, these "Priests" are barbarians at best, and shamans and superstitious men who should know better at worst. Within the legion, they are highly respected and sources of great support for not only the technological, but also for the spiritual side of the legion.

In a nut shell, they are the medics, librarians and chaplains rolled in to one. Well, not quite. Rolled in to two really. Well, three really really. The Priests are divided Speakers of the Dead (medics and chaplains) and the Caster of Runes (librarians). On top of this, the "Priests of Iron" also exist but don't have a distinct entry here, and are instead represented by Forge Lords, Master of Signals, and Praevians.

For the Speakers of the Dead, there is the usual feel no pain advantage, combined with fearless and preferred enemy. They also get a vial they can toss at enemies to cause pain.

For Casters of Runes, they are a low level psyker with slight bonuses for denying the witch. I find the Casters of Runes odd in the sense that the Space Wolves don't really recognise them as librarians at all (and Leman Russ himself was all for sanctioning Magnus and the Edict in general). In other news, Sanguinius was a mutant, but we can overlook some things, right?

They cost slightly more than what they might in other legions, but they get a few bonus boons for it (refractor fields), but its not too much.

Forge Lords get cyberwolves instead of servo-automata … I haven't worked out whether I like this better or not … its just different and a better (fluffier) fit for the Space Wolves.

Finally, the Priests do not get any option to travel fast (e.g., jump packs). Hence this needs thought (and probably use of land raider transports arguably!).

A couple of builds to touch on here. I won't bother with Priests of Iron though, might as well see the Consul article instead.

Speaker of the Dead, hand flamer, melta bombs, artificer armour (125 points).
Add to a blob of infantry and go forth charge. Add in a specialist weapon like a power fist to taste. Equip with terminator armour to sally forth with other terminators (probably Tartaros to take advantage of sweeping I think).

Caster of Runes, second psyker master level, combat shield, aether-rune armour, melta bombs (165 points).
The aether-rune armour is an interesting choice and possibly a reasonable alternative to terminator armour in certain circumstances. But to be honest, I can also see the case for terminator armour as well. I like the combat shield option here as the psyker powers might as well be the shooting weapon here instead. 
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