Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ard Boyz Is Dead!!! Long Live NOVA!!!

by SandWyrm

It looks like we can blame GW cost-cutting and the departure of some long time North American executives for the move, which I think is positive for the hobby in every way. Having gone to the semi-finals twice, I can attest that it epitomized the type of event that hurts the image of competitive play in the eyes of the general 40K player base. It was the only tournament I've ever been to where I've been routinely cheated and bullied. Both by the players, and in one case, the store we played in.


Because 'Ard Boyz combined a flawed scoring system, that rewarded players for degree-of win, with huge semi-final prizes (free armies) that encouraged players to gimmick, cheat, and bully their way to victory.

Let's break it down for those who haven't heard me talk about this before...

In a traditional GT format, as conceived by GW in the early 90's, the scoring is not strictly based on who wins and who loses. It's based on degree-of-win. This means that a player who tables his opponent with a massacre will score more points than a player who wins after a close fight with an equally skilled opponent. Why is this bad?

1) Because Your Matchups Will Matter More Than Your Skill.

If I go to a Battle Point tournament, the best thing that can happen for me is to draw a 'Baby Seal'. That is, a new or unskilled opponent than I can blow off of the table without much effort. Because I'll get more points for the match and shoot up to the top of the rankings. If I draw 2 or more baby seals in a 3-round tournament, then I'll be almost guaranteed to win the entire tournament. Whereas, if I get matched up against an equally skilled player, I might still win but only get a couple of points for the game. Pushing me down into the middle of the rankings.

I've personally gone to 3-round BP tournaments where I drew 2 seals in the first 2 games and had effectively won the tournament before the final round. Nothing short of a complete loss by massacre would have knocked me into 2nd place! I've also gone to tournaments where I lost 2 of the 3 games but still got 2nd place because I drew a Baby Seal in round 2 and got maximum points for that game. Putting me ahead of players who had won more games.

The effect of this is to encourage players to bring gimmicky lists that can catch a baby seal off-guard and blow them off of the table as quickly as possible. Because winning big in a few games is more important than losing by a little in others.

Whereas, if scoring is based on strict win/loss, players are rewarded for bringing more reliable lists that can win every time, even if only by a little. Because the gimmicky lists rely on luck; and luck isn't reliable over 5-8 games.

2) It Also Encourages Cheating When Adding Up Scores

I can't tell you how many times, pre-NOVA, that I had to carefully check my opponents' math as we turned in our scores. Especially at 'Ard Boyz. Because the difference between a massacre and a solid victory could mean the difference between being in the middle of the rankings and being at the top.

3) It Encourages Bad Behavior During The Game

Slow Play, Bullying... These problems aren't nearly as prevalent when degree-of-win doesn't matter. Both times I've played at the 'Ard Boyz semi-finals there have been multiple people getting into yelling matches over small things like movement. Both times (in different cities) I saw players asked to leave the store after physical threats were made. Both times I saw the venue empty out half-way through the tourney as players decided they couldn't win and went home.

Both of those 'Ard Boyz semi-final events only had around 30 players!

Whereas I've been to much larger 256-player win/loss events like Adepticon and the NOVA Open where we had only a couple of minor problems. In an 800% larger event!

At our own 64-player (NOVA format) Indy Open GT earlier this month, I was amazed at how civil everyone was. We did have some tempers flare here and there, but there was no yelling. No physical threats. We also held on to the majority of players though all 6 rounds! Because we had prizes for the winners of each bracket, plus a Best Overall (Renman) prize, and not just one payout for Best General.

And that's the biggest difference. 'Ard Boyz always gave a free army to the winner of a Semi-Final round, but nothing to any of the other players. So the bad effects of the flawed Battle Point system  was multiplied ten-fold. It brought every greedy cheater out of the woodwork and rewarded them for their douche-baggery.

Whereas our top tables at the Indy Open were remarkably civil. Oh, and even our Best General (Hans Krueger) had a beautifully painted army that any hobbiest would drool over.

Which is a far cry from the unpainted pile of metal and plastic crap that usually wins at an 'Ard Boyz event.

Good riddance I say!


  1. This is the best GW news I've heard in about 2 years.
    Hip, hip, HOORAY!

  2. Peace out 'ard boyz, You will not be missed.

  3. GW always say and probably always will that 40k is a fun game between friends and is not meant as a competative game in the slightest, you can see this with the way fantasy went and I bet 6th will be even more random and "fun" vs how it is now.

  4. While I understand the hate, I don't fully agree with the cheer that it is gone. This now ends the last thread of GW support in any form to the community or tournament scene. They may not have been doing it well, but at least they were trying. Now they can't even say they do that. They will continue to raise prices, and now not even give away free stuff.

    From the tournament perspective it is good to have such a debauchery be gone, but in the larger scope of things I'm not sure I like what this foreshadows.

  5. In their (slight) defense, GW still provides prize support for local tournaments. Maybe not on the scale of a full new army, but enough for a start or supplement.

  6. Eh, the prize support is pretty sad; and the amount of nonsense a store has to do to GET it is pretty high. I agree with TGM, the pullout of support of tournaments by GW doesn't make me exactly enthused.

  7. 'Ard Boyz is worse for the hobby than no tournament support at all. Yes, in a perfect world GW would fix all of their problems and support the game properly. But we don't live in that world.

  8. Our local tournaments are extra flawed but nothing I say can change their point of view. We have 1 day with only 3 games. A win is 15 points, a tie is 5 and a loss 1, it's so discrepant that by the last game we already know who will place top 3. I had the worse time on my last game knowing that there was no way I could win the tournament because I had already lost my second game...

  9. I am sorry that your experiences were not good ones with ard boyz sandwyrm. The way you have it worded it sounds horrible. In addition, you state that every winner at the semi-finals is a cheater. I won ard boyz semi's last year and still made it to the final table at the indy open does that mean I am a cheater?? You can ask the judges for the indy open if there was any sort of dispute I just politely asked them over for a ruling that way one opponent just doesnt bully the other to there side of the argument and if ruled against by a judge it makes for a smoother game rather then remaining bitter about it. Was ard boyz perfect... No but what tournament is? Sure the 3 round point system is flawed but if you can bring a list that can take on any players then you dont need a baby seal as any opponent can become a baby seal.

    Ard boyz was great because it encouraged players to travel and intermingle with usually the best players from another gaming group. I only did the ard boyz circuit twice and I enjoyed both occasions. I like the qualifier format that leads to a final tournament where the best of the best throw down.

    1. Travel and meeting new players is good, but you have to consider the context.

      I first met Spag, Scottydon't, Justin, and the rest of the Games 2D4 crew at 'Ard Boyz. Where we all promptly got in a big argument about some rules interpretations and went off in a huff to our home 'turfs'. For a while it just cemented the G2D4/Game Preserve division in our city. It wasn't until later that we started meeting each other in non-AB tourneys and actually found out we liked each other. :)

      I'm not saying that the winners of AB were always cheaters (I know they weren't). But cheating was rampant at the event. From a competitive standpoint, it wasn't an event where you could point to the winner and say anything other than he lucked out in his matchups.

  10. Sandwyrm what is it that you consider cheating here bub. I mean I have a rep of being a good tough player. I make my game plan and evolve it to who I'm playing at the time. I played you down at your Game Preserve when you had the Tallaran. (not sure if you still have them.) Some folks I have played in the past were obviously cheating. From arguing with me over fluff passages saying this and that happen in the game to loaded dice. But is being an agressive player grounds for cheating? As I am sure that in the past I have had people think man that is just too good...he must be cheating somehow. So I'm going back to my original question. What is it that you call cheating. Arguing for a cover save? Constantly badgering your opponents over their movement amounts when they are moving less than a fraction of the space they are allowed. Large Dice, casino or otherwise? I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but at least 50% of players and most of your writers are guilty of most of these things.


out dang bot!

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