Saturday, December 13, 2008

GW’s 2009 tournament circuit- D.O.A.

Ok, this is my second rant this year so be forewarned, if you don’t want to read me gripe, piss and moan or are offended by crude language. Time to stop reading.

The best way for any business to piss off its customers is to let them build up expectations based on past performance and then change the end result of those expectations without informing the customer, all the while acting like nothing has changed. Doing so implies your customers are stupid, just as does trying to change the game after people have signed up to play . Both of these moves have killed countless a business as they violate the trust customers put in a business to do right by them. There are a shit load of current examples of this going on in our current economic environment, so you’d think any business not already in Chapter 11, would take heed. However recent events tell me Games Workshop never got the memo.


This concerns the newly posted 2009 Grand Tournament schedule from Games Workshop. I played in 4 tournaments in 2008 all them of were professionally run, Only one of them- The Chicago GT -was run by Games Workshop and despite the negative attitude of many veteran gamers have about the GT, I personally had been following Dave Taylor’s ( GW rep and organizer of the GW circuit events in 2008) blog and was really looking forward to the event. In the end I wasn’t disappointed , I thought it was a very well run event and I did indeed have a great time. That being the case I was really looking forward to this upcoming tournament season, most especially since I have little to no painting to do leading up to an event. and I anything I did do was purely from an elective standpoint.

About two weeks ago I read that Dave Taylor was no longer with GW, I was very surprised at this given the positive vibe created by the Chicago GT, and the great things I heard about both Las Vegas and Baltimore. I’ve heard speculation that GW was upset with the Chicago turnout, and while yes it was low. There were a bunch of external issues effecting the draw, including living down the crappy reputation that was last years shitty GT at Games Day, a new 40K Edition just coming out and let’s not forgot the price of gas being at an all time high- which made traveling to an already expensive event, more expensive. Despite this, the event was big success for those who attended and GW earned a lot of good will and word of mouth for the next year.

When I read Dave Taylor was gone I was disappointed, then when I saw the 2009 circuit schedule posted. I about threw up.

No official GW sponsored tourneys- 10 events all independently run and co-sponsored by GW. Last year was 11 events total so it leaves little room for more than one or two GW run events to be posted later on. The delivers the clear message that they are deciding where to host the few or one official event they do run.

While that’s unbelievable to me in itself , its not by far the biggest pisser of the whole thing, as I spent time reading over the details of these Indy GT’s I was shocked to realize that there is no painting requirement for 7 of the 10 2009 circuit events!!! What the bloody hell is this??,

Holding major tournaments without a painting requirement is inexcusable. It amounts to nothing less than the wholesale rape of the hobby, to think that GW would sponsor this shit makes my skin crawl. Having 2 Indy GT’s with no painting requirement in this years circuit was bad enough but to bump it up to 7 for 2009!!, Seriously- it’s a kick in the balls for those of us who work hard to create good stuff and try to inspire other people to do likewise.

I know a bunch of guys that work for GW these days and one thing I know that gets pounded into their heads is how to relate with people in away to create long term hobbyists. Sponsoring bullshit tournaments ( and YES, I don’t care how “cool” the people running these events are, if they allow unpainted models in their tourney, the event shouldn't be considered for the circuit) is directly contradictory to this as well as counterproductive to health of the hobby and the business.

I know of course GW’s main goal is to sell as much plastic as possible and painting requirements exclude people who “might” buy more models, but isn’t that why they started Ard’ Boyz tourneys?? so power gamer doodz can bust out a new 3K of unpainted models every time a new army gets released . GW’s gets the big sales and these guys get their own tournament scene, right?. I do expect GW to support all its customers, including ones that don’t paint or hobby but opening up the normal /traditional circuit as a free or all, is not the way to do it. There is plenty of room for well organized tourneys without a painting requirements..I just expect the full experience at these bigger events, and dumbing down the painting just kills it for me.

I don’t quite yet get exactly what’s going on with this but this isn’t good, it does not bode well for future expectations of a tournament circuit. Does anyone whose spent years working on painting and converting their armies want to pay good money to enter a tournament just to get paired up with some guy, who glued his models together the week before and who can’t wait to drop grey plastic/ bare metal on the table and abuse the newest army book at your expense.?? Does GW think that’s ‘fun”?. Do they think its going to fly as soon as people start to notice?, do they think that no one is going to care?

The hobby and the games are irreparably tied and while you can argue for the health of the hobby sans game, you can’t argue the contrary as the rules just aren’t “that" good. The best thing about GW and its games are the people it turns into long term hobbyists and the big tourneys are the excuse for all these people to get together and bring their awesome creations to one location and throw down. To piss all over that 25 year legacy with this “models do not need to be painted, but must be fully assembled” bullshit is an outrage. Don’t poison the well for the people who give a shit about the hobby because times are tough and you don't think you can sell enough tickets.

I’d love to hear from the GW genius who decided that “Tourneys were not well enough attended to our liking so lets shit-can our own events and go support a bunch of indies with no painting requirements and see how it goes” Are you fucking kidding me? Way to take a hot steaming crap all over that brand loyalty you work so hard to build.

The old saying goes "When going gets tough, the tough get going" but what I am hearing is "When going gets tough, bend over and take it in the rear". Hey guys! how about trying to "fix" the problem before flushing your entire tourney schedule totally down the drain.??. Dave Taylor “was” fixing the problem as far as I could tell.

Then again I don’t know, maybe I am way off base and he was fired for damn good reason, maybe he’s a fucking serial killer, I don’t know the guy, I just know what I saw. I saw the bullshit that was Games Day/GT 2007 and I saw the difference this year. What I see here is GW cutting its own legs out from under them. The way I see it- the 2009 tourney scene just exploded on launch.

I won’t bother getting into all the inconsistencies between events with things like the lack of composition scoring, You can’t call it a “tournament circuit” without some kind of uniform standard, and right now the only standard I see is trying age old alchemical trick of trying to turn lead into gold…or what we Americans have gleefully rephrased into “You can’t polish a turd”- I guess on the bright side -I can cancel any plans I had to road trip to some other events this year. At least I have Adepticon.


Chicago Terrain Factory said...

I will always support painting as a part of any well rounded tournament event, but the question seems to be: why are most tournament organizers moving away from painting scores? The staff running the tournaments are the real heart beat of the (GW) hobby, investing hundreds of hours to make these indy tournaments happen. While GW has a responsibility to control their products image - maybe they are just following the customer's lead?

Anonymous said...

I'm in two minds about this.

Firstly I'm with you, you spend a lot of time painting and converting and you end up fighting an army that looks like it was painted by a drunk.

However, first of all, I know several good players whose painting skills are basic at best, but for them not to do well in a tournament because they can't paint is unfair.

I am currently painting a 2k chaos warrior army for my friend (for pretty much free) because if I don't he'll either have to borrow an army he doesn't want to use, pay a large sum of money to get it painted or just not go.

Personally I'd prefer a tougher match up against badly painted armies in an enviroment where painting isn't as important than play a well painted army against a bad opponent.

To finish, I played a guy a tournament or two ago whose army was amazing. He ended up winning best painted which gave him a pass into the final (it was a GT heat)because of his painted army. I must have been over 20 places above him.

It grates on me because he went to the finals because his painting is amazing rather than his generalship. Theres something called the golden daemon for that.

John@Plastic Legions said...

The 3 color standard is glue that keeps the Hobbyists and non Hobbyist its easy for the non hobbyist and keeps the hobbyist happy. Getting rid off that will only push the hobbyists away.
What better way to further push tournaments into a full meta game- power format than removing painting requirements. Its a big can worms that can only eat up GW's brand, what's next prepainted miniatures?
Seriously I don't think they were thinking of the consquences when they decided to go with a full Indy circuit and the fact they didn't push uniform (Adepticon/ Necromonicon) standards on these
others tourneys to qualify for the circuit is nuts, Either someone isn't doing their job..or GW has lost its way.

eriochrome said...

I am one of the non painters but I am trying to get the painting going. I was originally very afraid to do the painting for fear of "messing up" with my shaky hands. I think the tournements should be open but have multiple award structure for best general, sportsman, painting, and all around. The last event I went to had the top prizes attached to sportsman which made everyone very nice and not bringing lists designed to abuse every aspect of the game.

Tim Kulinski said...


being one of the guys who is putting on the LotR Gt in Phoenix (Gathering in the Desert) everything must be painted. I have taken some flak for this by other organizers who are on the Circuit, but I whole heartedly agree with your posting.

I look at the GitD as a GW run event just run better than GW by people that love the hobby! I love seen cool looking conversions, awsome painted armies and people that spent time working on the army to get it too the event. Bare plastic & metal at a Grand Tournament (Even an Indie One) is bad show! Perhaps its me, but if I showed up with unpainted minis or Hell, just primed in my group, I would be told to go home & paint them!

I was unaware that there are so many tourneys on the "Circuit" that are allowing this. This seems to lessen the whole "Circuit" feel.

Hell, I am going to probably catch Hell for this comment now, but Oh Well. If your running a GT you should show up with paint on your figures!

Tim K

John@Plastic Legions said...

Thanks Tim

I hope you don't catch flak, I know that neither you nor I is trying belittle or insult the guys who run some these now "circuit" events- some of them are well known and popular and with a great reputation.
The problem is that while not having a painting requirement may be well and good when its local event and the local scene is accustomed with that. Now its a national event and directly tied to Games Workshop and the potential can of worms this opens is definitely not cool.

In my mind this is directly a Games Workshop issue, so if they wanted to go with an all Indy circuit then they needed to ask for uniform standards from the people running these events. Standards which should included a 3 color painting standard and some kind of real standardized Compostion score.

My biggest disappointment is that I had planned top road trip to some out of town (mainly GW) events this next year, and now there are no events to go to. I just refuse to pay and travel to an event that allows unpainted models as it's an insult to hobbyists like you and me. A 3 color standard is not hard, if you cant be bothered to do that, then I can't be bothered to want to pay money to play you.

I think I need to finish up my LotR force as the Gathering in the Desert might be the only out of town possibilty I I love the Southwest, (if I didn;t live here I'd be in Albuquerque) While the Necromonicon might be great I've been to Florida one too many times in my life..anyways thanks for the post and see you at Adepticon!

Anonymous said...

Sorry John, I've misunderstood your rant. I didn't realise you could take UNPAINTED models!!! I just thought you meant the standard of painting wouldn't be included in the overall scores.

No way would I pay to go to even a local tournament with less than the 3 colour/static grass minimum.

The only way round this is to publicly mock people who bring metals to a tournament.

John@Plastic Legions said...

Here, here, good to know I am not alone out the there..Removing painting scores from the overall would be a drag but that's nothing compared to whats really going on!.
I concur, mock away!

Bill Sullivan said...

I just looked in WD 347, and it lists the Vegas and Baltimore GT's as being "date TBA". So it's entirely possible that they are waiting to list it online until they firm up venue details. I suspect the Chicago GT got canned because of Adepticon, which is a pity, since I don't ever plan on going to that tourney.

Wolf Lord Bill said...

For anyone that is defending people who can't paint or lack the talent, I present myself as that example. I don't use a magnifying glass. I rarely, if ever, mix paint. And are you ready for this . . . . If I keep leftover bits, I never look back to use them later. I still take pride in my basic effort and post pictures on my blog all the time. That being said, it bugs the hell out of me to play an unpainted army or an army with a proxy or an army that has different gear on the list than they have on the table. I'm a post-2001 school teacher so all I care about is minimum standards. I haven't been to a real tourney since 2005 but it is safe to say I won't be going to one in 2009.

Domus said...

Hey John - Read your blog today and had some thoughts...

The reason most of these tournies allow unpainted models is to encourage more gamers. The general feeling being that more gamers equals a better experience overall as you will likely meet more new people. I have been to quite a few of those major indies in the last 2 years and I can honestly say I have only played against 1 army which was largely unpainted and he was a great guy with a soft army. Most unpainted folks aren't after awards (as they are usually barred from winning any) but rather in search of a good time.

I would always prefer to play vs. painted army as it is one of my favorite aspects of our hobby. I like the unpainted aspect as someone can attend the tourney who is working on an army but not done but I would like to see a min. % painted army requirement instituted. (*Completely unpainted is ridiculous, I do like to see SOME effort and I do believe ANYONE-excepting disabilities-can paint)

The other key point here is that the Indy GT's DID develop a set of uniform standards which they use (including allowing unpainted minis).

GW's failure to maintain a successful GT environment only encouraged this "indy" atmosphere to grow. In the light of their complete failure in creating and maintaining successful GT's in the past they have "glommed on" to the Indy GT scene using their greatest assets (Prize Support / Marketing).

I do appreciate your dedication and passion and I would like to see GW continue to have their "own" events rather than 'corrupt' the Indy GT events I have come to know and love - where any miniatures from any manufacturer can grace the table.



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