Monday, September 5, 2016

NOVA Open 2016 - Pictures From An Exhibition

Got back from the NOVA Open yesterday afternoon and went through all the pics I took at the event - the overriding thing I learned from going through all the photos is that I am apparently just a truly terrible picture taker, and the phone camera I was using didn't do me too many favors. Nonetheless, brace yourself for a big ol' picture dump and a ramble about the event!

First up, a few non-heresy pics! I ended up attending primarily due to the fact that I was invited to participate in the charity Ork army painting project, and was super thrilled to see it all laid out in person.

They also had all of the 40k armies as well as a couple other systems' models on display - there were a bunch of single models as well but I just couldn't get a good shot through the glass in the smaller cabinets. At the time of this writing I don't know what the event raised, but as of Saturday night it was sounding like it could be a record year!

In addition to the metric boatload of 40k and Heresy events, there were several other huge rooms for other game systems, but the standout had to be the absolutely immense Star Destroyer table in the X-Wing area.

Thursday evening I met up with a couple of the fine folks from the Heresy 30k Forums and played a pick-up game against a Solar Auxilia army - I thought 2150 points was a fair few marines, but I was about to be buried under a tidal wave of Auxilia!

I won't go into full-on battle reports, but thought these two pics rather exemplified my experiences at the convention. The games were all an absolute blast against awesome opponents with beautiful armies. What else can you ask for? Josh was an absolute surgeon with his army, and though the Thousand Sons put up a valiant fight, by the end of the game they were crushed under the treads of the glorious Solar Auxila. Josh went on to win the Best Loyalist award for the weekend, and it couldn't have gone to a nicer and more deserving guy!

The next morning, game one of the Asymmetrical Campaign had the traitors deploying a 1000 point force against the Loyalist's 500 points and I faced off against a very cool Cybernetica force. You think 500 points doesn't go far in heresy Marines, that's nothing on the Mechanicum. I was unprepared for the ferocity of the unit of Vorax (seen skulking in the above pic), and they went through my army like a buzz-saw through butter. Loss #2 for the Thousand Sons, but the game and the guy were both awesome - really fun game!

Game two saw 1000 points of Thousand Sons face off against a 750 point Raven Guard army, and with both of our armies outflanking it was quite a dance around the table. The Volkite/Heavy Bolter speeders chewed up the power armoured marines, and a judicious Fury of the Legion from a massive tac squad secured their victory. Loss #3 - can you see where this is going? That said, we laughed our asses off during the game, good times!

Game three tipped the balance the other way, with the Loyalists fielding 1000 points, while the Traitors were on the back foot for a change with 750 points. My opponent this game was Chris Borer, whose sculpting and painting work I've always admired. While his paint competition models were inspiring, he was apologetically fielding a partially painted Terminator-and-Contemptor (loyalist to make up the numbers) World Eaters army for the Heresy campaign. In true World Eater fashion he immediately threw logic, tactics and mission parameters to the wind and essentially carved my army into little quivering chunks. The mission itself allowed destroyed Traitor units to recycle into Ongoing Reserves, while the Loyalists won if they had any remaining models on the tabletop at the end of the game. The World Eaters killed almost my entire army twice over by the end, and though I had whittled the rampaging terminator squads down to single models, I just didn't have the tools to take out his Contemptors in the turns allotted. Another defeat on the heads of the Thousand Sons, but oh my goodness was the game a blast - total carnage!

Later that evening there was the "Big Bash" event (which I didn't participate in, and sadly all my pics of it were garbage), but as the day went on folks started placing their Titans on one of the nearby tables. Some spectactular models, the Warlord with all the filigree was lit up and wired for sound, and would blare out a warhorn blast from time to time when activated. It was also awesome to see Dave Taylor's excellent Warlord in person, though both it and the other one were semi-disassembled for safety prior to the event.

I took part in the unscheduled "go drinking with some of my blogger and painting heroes and pick their brains for tips and tricks", and it's a wonder none of us died from from the liver abuse. I was talked into airbrushing and trying out the use of oil and spirits by the thoroughly awesome John Stiening, who I've been keen to meet for years just to squeeze some of the awesome techniques out of him. His entries into the painting competitions were absolutely spectacular! Also got a chance to lift a pint with Greggles, have a fantastic couple conversations with the immensely talented Todd Sherman, and had some great times hanging out with Dave Taylor who was helping run the CMoN booth at the show and was liaison for all of the charity auction stuff as well - one of the hardest working guys at the show, for sure! Met a number of other blogger buddies and forumites for the first time, and had a blast finally getting a chance to put names to faces!

While the whole "coming down from altitude" thing helps, nevertheless I was a little delicate first thing in the morning for the day two Escalation Campaign, and I didn't get a single non-shakycam shot of the first game against a beautiful army, and my memories are a little fuzzy on the details but what should come as no surprise the Thousand Sons snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once again. Game two was against a relative newcomer to the heresy so his army was still in a WIP state, but it was a hoot. The Salamanders were savagely bloodied by the Thousand Sons advance, but by the time the dust settled they managed to pull off a minor victory on objectives. Loss #6, but laughing all the way!

Game three of the Escalation event was 2150 per side, and I went up against a thoroughly brutal breacher-and-vets Imperial Fists army led by Pollix and backed up by a Knight Lancer. While the favor of the Primordial Creator was on the side of the Thousand Sons early in the game, allowing them some fantastic dice rolls to put paid to the Lancer at the top of turn two, once the tidal wave of breachers and heavy bolter toting veterans started appearing on my flanks the noble sons of Prospero were rapidly washed off the table by the punishing bolter drill of the Imperial Fists. At the end of the weekend I ended up going 0-7, and ended up winning several "Lemon Raffle" prizes - every time you lost a game your name was put into a raffle, and prizes were pulled and handed out between each event. Let's just say I had a LOT of entries!

While there were a couple dozen beautiful armies, I didn't want to try and post them all in line here so I thought I'd post up a few of my personal favorites from the events - here's a trio of Loyalist armies that I really liked!

And of course a tantalizing trio of Traitors! I particularly liked the Word Bearers army, though sadly a lot of the truly awesome details are lost via my sub-par photo techniques.

A couple of the guys decided to set up their armies facing off - this Emperor's Children army was absolutely spectacular, and took home the Best Painted award from the Escalation event - super nice guy as well, though I didn't get a chance to play him I had a really good conversation with him about his techniques and fluff for the army. There's a ton of pics of the other armies in my NOVA event gallery here!

At the end of the Heresy events I was awarded the Player's Choice award for both the Asymmetrical and Escalation campaigns - I am both humbled and honored by that, especially seeing as how everyone I played against was just super friendly and fun to face off against! Great times were had by all!

In the evening on Saturday the organizers of NOVA were kind enough to have an artists appreciation dinner for all the folks who participated in painting the charity armies, and I had a great time chatting to a number of spectacular artists but sadly due to poor trip planning on my part I had to curtail the evening early to get a little shuteye before the 7am flight Sunday morning. Doh!

Overall I have to say that NOVA was hands down the best heresy event that I have attended - the organizers of the Heresy Campaigns were class acts and ensured that everyone was having a blast playing on beautiful tables with well-thought-out and surprisingly funny missions. Even though I lost every game I played, I am absolutely looking forward to attending again next year!


  1. I'll have to come back and read this tomorrow, as its bed time :)

    But I want that Star Destroyer !

  2. Looks like it was an absolute blast man. The photos really aren't that bad

  3. That looks like a blast! |I'll have to hit the site to see who won what in the raffles!

  4. Great article would love to have been there.

    Do you perhaps know who made the terrain(the smoke/explosions in particular) for the event?

  5. Thanks for the bit of a run down and I agree with the Col. that those photos were not that bad. They entice me to want to go at least.

    Glad you had a blast despite your streak there.

  6. Always great to see you Joel! Was nice to have some decent length chats for once! Army looks great! All those pretty 30k armies have me chompin at the bits to start my own! Congrats on the awards!

  7. Joe, it was awesome meeting you. Somehow I always assumed you were British! I am really looking forward to more 30k stuff next year, though if 10mm titans come out, I am all in at that scale.

  8. Great write up, my friend! Thank you once again for the friendship and assistance in everything. It'll be great to see you out at AdeptiCon next year!


  9. Was great to spend time with gamers that "Get it", we are playing with army men and having fun. Joel your Thousand Sons army was kick ass looking. Thanks for the photo dump and thank you for the drink at the bar. Next time I'll buy you one for being such a classy dude.

  10. Congrats on the awards! I really need to plan better to make the NoVa event next time since it's in my neighborhood...

  11. It was awesome meeting up and seeing your army man .. Watching you guys play has now made me want to play 30K next year! Already looking at what legion 8)

  12. @Zzzzzz: Indeed - it was a spectacular table!

    @Col. Hertford: Hah! There were over 200 pics taken, and only about 80 were useful. ;)

    @Zab: It was one heck of a fun weekend - hope you can make it down next time around!

    @Leyzer: Thanks! The terrain was all made by one of the organizers, Marc Raley - his blog is

    @Rory Priest: It was an absolute blast! I don't judge fun by wins and losses, so while I went 0-7 I was laughing the whole way!

    @Greg Hess: Thanks man! Really looking forward to seeing more of your Emperor's Children - Heresy is life!

    @John Stiening: Likewise my man! Growing up on Doctor Who, Monty Python and Rogue Trader will do that to ya! Hah!

    @Marc Raley: Thank you for all the hard work you put into the event!

    @DaveTaylor: Likewise man, I really appreciated all the hard work and effort you put in at the con!

    @Damon Drescher: Absolutely! Your army was beautifully done, and I hope we can throw down on the tables sometime soon!

    @#2501: Thanks man! It was a hoot, definitely plan on attending again next year!

    @Todd Sherman: For sure, I really dug the Eldar goodness you had as well - that said you should absolutely join us in the Heresy, it is so much fun!

    Thanks very much for all the kind words, everyone!

  13. Wow mate! Very nicely done on the 0-7 result! Not everyone can fail utterly to win a single game, yet still manage to have the time of his life. :P

    I think your pictures look just fine from where I'm sat/stood/slumped. Those Raven Guard are especially lovely.

    Thanks for sharing your report on the Con, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  14. @Dai: Haha! All of my opponents were like-minded folk who were passionate for the fluff and not just trying to crush all in their path so the games were very narrative. When the armies are all beautifully painted even the losses feel cinematic and epic!

    ...And when all is said and done even the losses are part of Tzeentch's Grand Plan, right? :D

  15. My goodness! Some of those tables are incredibly open...

  16. @The Responsible One: Hah! There were a few frighteningly open firelanes on certain tables, made for some bloody games!