The game, Warhammer 40k, is more than just a table full of painted miniatures and dice rolling. The game is a medium for human engagement. And sometimes, we, the players and participants take that human engagement to the next level by stringing series of games together into RTTs, GTs, or Majors. A lot of the work that goes on behind the scenes of these events goes unnoticed and is by no means a lucrative business where the margins always pay out to a degree of monetary profit. But for us, that is not what it is about. Everyone wants to win, but everyone also knows that at the end of it, there will only be one champion. To build on that, Organizers have taken that to the next level, awarding Best Overall, Best General, Best Painted, Best Sport, etc. Not everyone is a winner, but different people excel at different parts of the comprehensive hobby, and where best to recognize it then in an annual event that gathers the best of the best from the locals, the region, and/or the world!
The Worthiest Adversary interviewed Brenden Chrustie on May 30, 2018, only a short time after he achieved Best General of the Plains of War GT. Simultaneously, the Adversary reached out to the team running the Plains of War GT to get their perspective. They were benevolent enough in their recovery to provide the readers with a great inside look into their event!
WA: Please provide a quick introduction (name or names of team, started playing 40k, how many events have you TO’ed, 40k army of choice and other hobbies or points of interest)
40BG: My name is Fabio Fiorentino, and I’m one of the co-founders of 40 Below Gaming, along with Scott Bewer. I have been playing 40K since 2003, and Scott has been playing since 1999. Scott and I have played many armies, but I have grown to really enjoy the Necrons and Scott is particularly a fan of his Eldar.
In terms of our tournament organizing (TO) experience, I would say we have TO’ed at least 24 events now. This does not include all the local gaming nights we have been putting on monthly, along with all of the other things 40BG does in the hobby. We are also very fortunate to have an extremely devoted supporting cast. Without these guys and gals Scott and myself would probably NEVER sleep, so I’d like to give a shout out to the 40BG team in full:
● Fabio (TO/Social Media/Podcast Host)
● Scott B.(TO/Graphic Design/Event Streams)
● Josh (Event Streams/Podcasts)
● David (Leagues)
● Logan (Rules Judge)
● Kate (Admin)
● Matthew (Podcast/Event Photographer)
● Steve (Rules/Rules Writer)
● Thurston (Podcast Host)
● Brenden (Podcast Host)
● Kyle (Rules/Podcast Host)
● Rob (AoS)
● Scott N.(Infinity)
● Scott C.(Infinity)
WA: Quick introduction of event (format and mission sets, venue, other members of the hosting team and any shout outs for credit and assistance, number of participants)
40BG: The Plains of War GT is an ITC event in its entirety. It’s a five-game, two-day event held at the Holiday Inn Winnipeg Airport Hotel (which has worked extremely well for us the last three years!), featuring Champions Missions 1-5. This year the points limit was set to 1,750, to help ensure games finished on time—so you can imagine how excited we were to see the Warhammer Grand Tournament adopt the same points limit some months later!
Our team for Plains of War was Scott, myself, Josh, Matthew, Logan, Kate, and Steve as our stand-in if we wound up with an uneven number of players. This does not include all the additional help we always receive from our community, and I would feel awful if I had forgotten anybody so I would like to give a general shout-out to all of our sponsors, the Grey Beards, and all the individuals that help with terrain, set-up and tear-down, feedback, etc. You know who you are and without each and every one of you we would not be able to do what we do!
As far as participant numbers go, we set the following numbers and consistently sell out:
● 40 Below Expo—32 players for 40K
● Plains of War GT—40 players
● Highlander—32 players in 2017 (2018 TBA)
● Twin Eagles—40 players
… [O]ur Best Overall award has become the most sought out award in our community. For a player to earn this award, they must excel in all aspects of the hobby; sportsmanship, painting & appearance, and generalship.
WA: General, overall feedback from participants?
40BG: Overall, really positive.
We do encourage constructive criticism simply because we do this purely for the community so any chance we have to make the experience better for them we certainly will do our best to do so. Some of the feedback we have received from Plains of War GT was that time still seemed to be an issue for some, so things like chess clocks were suggested. We also got some great feedback from our live stream viewers regarding possible new elements for our overlay, so I know we will be looking to incorporate some of those things for our next event.
One of the things people always leave positive comments on is our “Parking Lot” system. Each player is given a number at the time of registration, which corresponds to an assigned spot at a table near the gaming tables where they can put their army on display. This is that player’s unique spot for the entire event. This helps our paint judges with their job, as the judges can assign scores based on number and avoid any appearance of favoritism. This also helps players when they are voting for the Fan Favorite army, as we have found remembering names is a lot harder than just writing a number down. Finally, the Parking Lot does an amazing job of helping avoid clutter on gaming tables. Players are asked that once their game is done to move their things back to the space designated for their army—so not only is it out-of-the-way, but if they maybe come back a little later to the next game than others, their stuff hasn’t been moved on them.
Another thing people have seemed to like is that we have 3 separate judges who judge ALL the armies, and we as TOs take the average of the three scores to determine that players paint score. This again helps avoid any appearance of favoritism.
WA: What do you like about this format and mission set more so than others?
40BG: Firstly, they are written in large part by the guys at Frontline Gaming, who have really paved the way for organized play. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with them in Vegas at one of their events, and seeing that their philosophies for the most part aligned with mine, I knew that if our events back home in Winnipeg stuck to their vision they would be not only successful but enjoyable to the overwhelming majority.
As for the missions/ format itself, we collectively like progressive scoring very much. Players who lose still get points, so there is always a reason to push on instead of giving up. Secondary missions are flexible, so players can select objectives that their army may stand a better chance at achieving.
WA: Did anything surprise you from the get go? List composition? Player behavior? Etc.
40BG: Our community is very interesting in the sense that the majority of players really don’t chase the current competitive meta. This means that list compositions are always a big question mark, which is very refreshing.
The only real “surprise” was a brief moment where Best Coast Pairings acted odd due to human error, but the guys responded to my questions almost immediately and got our issues sorted out.
As for player behaviour, the scene here is a little more laid back. Players enjoy organized play but the level of competitiveness I would say is nothing close to what is seen in events elsewhere. As TOs, we try to structure our event to encourage this. For example, our Best Overall award has become the most sought out award in our community. For a player to earn this award, they must excel in all aspects of the hobby; sportsmanship, painting & appearance, and generalship.
We also don’t put a lot of weight behind placing first in terms of prizes. We have trophies, of course, but as far as prizes go, they are all given away by raffle ticket or random door prize draws to help alleviate a potential cut-throat mentality on the table top.
WA: How do you think the new FAQ and beta rules impacted your event?
40BG: It did not impact too much, honestly. There were some last-minute changes to lists, but for the most part most players seemed to have a pretty good idea of what they were bringing despite the FAQ.
This game has always been and will continue to be about adapting. Does everything work for all armies? No, but that is nothing new. Again, it comes down to the generals adapting to the changes, which is something I have always been fascinated about.
WA: What were some points of contention amongst players? Were any associated with the new FAQ and beta rules?
40BG: The Assault phase is a phase that still confuses people a little bit, so there were a few questions about that. The other questions that came up involved playing too slowly and keeping track of command points properly. These issues were very minor though. Our Rules Judge looked quite bored most of the time, which we were completely fine with.
It’s not easy getting 15+ volunteers on the same page, but our team has time and time again stepped up to the plate and “knocked it out of the park.”
WA: How did your event approach time available per game and did you notice a significant amount of players with issues finishing their games?
40BG: As I mentioned above, we dropped our points from 2,000 to 1,750, which seemed to be received well by the overwhelming majority. We really did not want to move to something like chess clocks. In saying this, however, some games still did not finish, so this is still something we need to figure out.
In most of our events, Plains of War included, we have a large timer clock running on a projection screen at the front for everyone to see, which players have repeatedly told us is a major help as far as managing their game time goes.
WA: What are some lessons learned from your event that you would recommend to any other TO? (Try for at least two things that you think could have gone better and two things that were really knocked out of the park)
40BG: Never underestimate the importance of the little stuff! Most people think running a tournament is simply booking a venue, finding terrain, bringing a laptop, and go go go! Sure, these things are all important factors, but it’s the little things that really help sell the event to the players—making it more accessible, streamlined, etc. For example, Saturday morning when the paint judges arrived, I looked at Scott and asked him where the paint scoring sheets are, and he looks back at me and says “I thought you printed them!” Moments like that, while seemingly minor, can take a much greater impact on an event than one would assume. Luckily, we have a team of reliable staff who were able to take care of that issue immediately.
Which leads into something that 40BG prides ourselves in. We have an amazing team who always put in a solid effort. It’s not easy getting 15+ volunteers on the same page, but our team has time and time again stepped up to the plate and “knocked it out of the park.”
WA: Are you planning to hold your event again? Any other events lined up that people should know about otherwise?
40BG: Of course! Plains of War 2019 will be hosted on June 1st and 2nd 2019 at the Holiday Inn Airport in Winnipeg, the same venue as it’s always been held at. In the 12 months before that, though, we have a handful of events also taking place—our Highlander tournament over the summer and our Twin Eagles doubles 40K event at the end of October, to name two. Both events tend to achieve similar numbers in terms of participants.
Thursday, May 31st at 7:30 PM Central Time, we will be announcing the tournament results on our podcast, The Dusty Auspex. Viewers can tune in to our Facebook Live feed, or find us on Twitch. These results will be posted to our webpage & Facebook page the following day.
We realize that you’ll likely get this after the podcast has concluded, but the video will be available on our YouTube page, just search 40 Below Gaming and our website as well.
The Worthiest Adversary applauds the team from 40 Below Gaming and those volunteers that assisted to make the Plains of War GT happen. Without selfless hours and sacrifice from other priorities, events like these would never happen. The Adversary hopes that players and other event organizers (or those with the potential for both!) can utilize the useful information that Fabio and Company have made available. The Plains of War GT is an exemplary standard for a GT and the Adversary appreciates the time given towards this interview!
“The roar of engines, the recoil of cannons. That is where the true joy of battle lies.” – Sergeant Antaro Chronus of the Ultramarines