Monday, April 23, 2012

The Elvensword '12: Q&A

2006 Tournament Champ Wielding the Magnificent Elvensword!
 My buddy Josef is the man behind the 3rd Annual Elvensword Ambassadorial Tournament ; a 2000 point tournament scheduled for May 12th 2012.
Josef was available for a few questions regarding the Tournament that I thought would be fun to post for readers. Here is what he had to say:

Q) What is the Elvensword Ambassadorial Tournament Exactly?

Josef: The Tournament is one in which the Generals are guaranteed not to play the same codex more than once and where the enirety of the current 40K multiverse will be on full display.  The tournament is a 4 round event, Only one Ambassador will be allowed to represent each of the current codex's, instead of the clogged up "Latest and greatest" glut you get sometimes.  Our goal is to create the truest "All comers" type of tournament possible that disallows people from loading up to defeat just one of the many great codex's out there.  You must prepare for hordes, MEQ, Glass Hammers, Gunlines, Assault armies, Psyker craziness, Drop armies and the list goes on.  The missions will challenge you not to rely on just one tactic.  In short, anything goes and it's going to be a blast.

Q) How long has the Elvensword Ambassadorial Tournament been around? 
Josef: The original tournament was in 2006, in my garage which is enormous.  People brought their own terrain to contribute during that one and it was a really great vibe.  People were excited about the concept and practically begged me to do it again.  The tournament felt like a collaborative thing and it was.  Everyone was going to be able to fight a plethora of codex's, guaranteed!  Dan Birringer won the first one with his mighty Tyranids.  In 2007, an Altaioc army cleaned house, run by the fearsome General known as Orion.  He is Justin Bingham to those who just know him otherwise!  I have always wanted a signature event for the capital of our and it's our goal to make this into one.  This year is our first step, creating the infrastructure for it, the website, our forum and our organization.  Next year we plan to make it a 28 player event and then, in the end, a 56 player event, drawing from California to Canada.  All because of a garage tourney six years ago.  

Q) When, where, and how much is it to register?

Josef: The host store this year is the Game Matrix in Tacoma which we selected because it gives Vancouver BC to Portland Oregon as central a location as we could give them and it will be May 12th 2012.  Registration has to be done online at so showing up the day of the tournament is definitely not recommended.  Early registration was $39, which ended April 21st but it is still only $45 now.
Q) The Game Matrix has been around for a while hasn't it?

Josef: The Game Matrix has a great owner and he's been around since it was a little store that had banks fo computers for playing Counterstrike from the same room!  Think about how long ago that whole scene was.  I remember paying $2 an hour to play Counterstrike there with friends and Chris Frye running the gaming.  It came a long long way from those days.  Now it's a great gaming store with lots of terrain and tables, as well as a fairly rich number of different games that get played and supported there.  Chris Ewick is one of two fantastic owners we have access to here and we are fortunate to be able to hold this at his store.  he has graciously kicked in from his own pocket to support the tourney as has local author George Butler, and of course my own Farmers insurance agency.

Q) The Puget Sound area (and the Pacific NW) can always benefit from more wargaming competitions. I have been keeping up on Adepticon over the weekend, wishing that we had a similar venue in the Seattle/Portland area. In the future how will you expand participation when there is a finite amount of 40K armies available to play?
Garage Days Revisited: 2006 Ambassadorial Winner with Tyranid Army
Josef:  You expand participation by giving them something they don't normally get to enjoy and you make sure you have a strong leader and organizer.  The best tournies have come from solid leaders who took the initiative and who had the actual ability and time to devote.  That's a rare combination.  It's what's required though.  I personally want to see this become a signature event for Olympia/Tacoma, something that people plan around every year and that can draw from the bay area players as well as the incredibly talented pool they have in canada who I have had the pleasure of playing and getting to know.  First step is getting the word out.  The website is going to be a huge asset in that effort.  I can't say enough for Jive Consulting and the job they've done for us.  Without their hardwork we wouldn't have the infrastructure to make this a bigger event.  Now we do.
Q) If I register, what sort of opponent should I expect to encounter? 
Josef: This years crop of Generals is blessed to be some of the "good guys" in this hobby.  I'd vouch for most of them as being great sportsmen and easy to get along with.  I have played against many of them in competitive events like TSHFT, games day type events like the OFCC and other great tournies.  Many of the people coming this year have won more than their fair share of tournaments while a select few Ambassadors are actually coming to their first negotiation.  So it will be a mix of the old guard clashing for armed supremacy against the hungry young bloods.  Only the strong need apply!

Q) How will eliminations occur? How are you scoring participants? 
Josef: Ambassadors are guaranteed at least 3 games as they would in any tournament, and those who make it to the final round will play a 4th game.  As it is a bracket'd tournament, winning and losing determines which bracket you continue on to.  The chart for not only what tables you will play on but also where the contestants go, win or lose, is found on the Tournament Rules section of our website:
Scoring is done in a different way.  Every round will have three objectives:  primary (9 points), secondary (6 points) and tertiary(3 points).  Some of the missions allow you to score more than once on these and some can be claimed at games end while others can be claimed earlier!  So it is a dynamic scoring model more than a static one and the scores can change in a hurry as our playtesting established pretty clearly.  Think of it like horse racing where there are multiple lead changes and exciting back and forths as the battle rages.  The steady hand will win the race.      

Q) How many judges do you plan to have on hand for the event?
Josef: 1 per two tables, ready and on hand to minister to the Ambassadors needs.  Think of them as a research aid for our Ambassadors.

Q) Will there be comp scores?
Josef: There will not be, but the missions themselves, if you visit the website, would show you that you will have to take a little bit from every corner of your Codex.  Those who do not do may find winning difficult to do.  But then, excellent Ambassadors always rise to a challenge!  I think that the fact you could go the entire tournament without facing a Marine codex, for example, really makes it difficult for people to load up in JUST one area.  That's one of the beauties of the tournament concept and why composition will be a non issue if I don't miss my guess.  I expect to see very complete armies across the board.
Q) The missions you referenced are particularly interesting (and I like the way the mission series correlates with the Elvensword lore). Which mission do you personally believe poses the highest challenge for participants? 
Josef: Glad you asked.  We wrote and play tested several missions, many of which did not make the cut for this tourney (thank you to the numerous playteresters that humored me and my imaginative creations).  Our goal in writing the missions was to create dynamic play where you end the game with the board LOOKING like their was a major battle there.  I think of all the missions, the one that presents the most unique challenge will probably be the third mission.  We really wanted the third mission, Secure the Tarmac to be the one that presented the biggest challenge since it is the gateway to the prize round if you will.  That one got play tested a LOT and it is DRASTICALLY different than it was when i first started putting it together (as some exasperated playtesters may be willing to tell you).  So I think that the third mission will definitely prove the most interesting in its outcomes and require the utmost from its Ambassadors. 

Q) How will sportsmanship affect judging? 
Josef: Sportsmanship is serious business in this hobby.  The judges will be an integral part of sportsmanship judging.  As they will be attending to just two games at a time, they will have ample opportunity to identify problems and solve them before they become larger problems.  They will also be helping me identify those worthy of the sportsmanship prize.  So unlike in many other tournies where you rate an opponent, we will be handling it through the judges and the notes they take will help determine where those prizes should go.  This takes a lot of pressure off the players, allows them to rely more heavily on the judges and allows them not to fear asking for a quick call on things that could go 50/50 either way.
Q) You know, sportsmanship is a slippery slope. It seems there is a standard model for most 40K tournaments that allows competitors to judge sportsmanship which almost promotes (and eventually leads to) 'douchebaggary'. My personal opinion is that a competitor's opinion shouldn't influence an opponent's tournament score. Placing this responsibility on the judge's shoulders sounds like an objective alternative, however, why have sportsmanship a factor in the Elvensword at all?
Josef: We are not Ard Boyz and we don't want to be.  That really says it all.  More importantly, these are the Ambassadors of their kind.  Not to include ettiquette as an important part of the tournament negotiations would not only be out of character for the whole concept of the event, but it would just encourage the same things that many people find stressful about the tourney scene.  There is a lot of stress on players when they play someone they dont like for example.  We want to help them feel more at ease.  Take away the fear that the other person will chipmunk them right out of the prize support.  There is also a lot of stress generated by feeling like you're going to be seen as a "bad guy" if you ask to look up a rule and that's just not so.  With an Ambassadorial aide available at all times to assist you in your games, and who is actually paying attention to your games, this should help a lot.  The judge can see the issue brewing and can quickly stem the tide of indorphins, so that the Ambassadors can continue their armed negotiations as little distracted by such unfortunate interruptions as possible.

Q) Will I need to paint my army in order to play?

Josef: Yes.  All models must be painted to a three color standard, based with at least two basing materials.  Any models not meeting that standard WILL be removed.  Remember:  you are an Ambassador for your faction.  The highest levels of ettiquette and attention to the hobby are required of you lest your station be found in question.
Q) What about WYSIWYG- will that be enforced? Can I use non-GW models in my army?

Josef:  Yes. it must be WYSIWYG, and yes, Forge World models are allowed so long as you do not attempt to gain any advantage from them due to size.  If there is a question, your judge will make a determination.  No doubt such petty considerations can quickly be brought to amicable resolution between the esteemed Ambassadors, however.

Q) If I win the tournament, do I get to keep the Elvensword?

Josef: You do not.  The Elvensword is what keeps the pocket in the warp from collapsing and without it, the Arnena would cease to exist.  However your name will forever be etched into the blade alongside those of the others who came before you.  At the time of the Final Wars, the faction whose name appears in its mirrored surface most often can be sure of the Great Ones support.  So represent yourself well or you will ultimately fall before the very blade you once coveted in the Elvensword Arena!

Q) Anything else I should know about Elvensword?

Josef: Just that this tournament represents the truest form that a tournament can take:  every faction represented by its Ambassador, sportsmasnhip of the highest order enforced, and the truth behind the online debates revealed.
Q) What sort of prize support can participants expect? Will there be additional prize support for spectators?

Josef: GREAT question.  Participants can expect that 1st through 5th place will receive prizes this year thanks to our great sponsor support, as will our top sportsman.  In addition, SPECTATORS will actually get a chance to win prizes just for coming and supporting their factions.  Of course they must attend the event and root their factions on to win...
Q) That sounds neat- spectators and participants both have the opportunity to scoop some loot?

Josef: Absolutely.  We want to grow the number of players and this is one way we can do it.  My hope is that the Ambassadors bring people who may never have seen such an event and give them a chance to win some stuff so they can start their own armies.

Q) Will there be food and drink available? If not, what sort of food joints and restaurants are in the area?
Josef: We will be providing lunch and refreshments to the Ambassadors during their stay, but should they decide that they require more terrestrial fare, numerous restaurants are within 5 minutes of the gaming facility:  hamburgers, mexican food, teriyaki, casual dining and so on are all easily within a five minute drive.
Q) Oh yah? What sort of food spread are you planning to provide? How much will it cost?

Josef: They shall pay nothing.  Our excellent sponsor, George Butler, author of Fox Elvensword and the Sword of Bhaal, has made allowances for the Ambassadors comfort.  Even as we speak the mantaray carriers are landing with the victuals and libations for their lunches.  Those attending must fend for themselves but we may have something in mind for them too...

Thanks Josef! Is there anything else you'd like to add to conclude this interview? 

Josef: No, you've covered a lot of ground.  Thanks to your blog Against the Grain, for being on top of the local tourney scene and for promoting the Warhammer blogosphere.  We all appreciate your work.

Hey Josef, thank you for your kind words! Work has left me with little time over the last six months to devote to this hobby, but I'm still lurking. 

I hope readers take a closer look at The Elvensword Ambassadorial Event slated for May 12th 2012 in Lakewood Washington. There is slated to be live coverage of the event which should prove to entertain!


Further Information:

The Elvensword Ambassadorial Tournament 2012

The Game Matrix


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