The two big summer events are just around the corner... Literally ! It is very exciting being able to attend both and I am very much looking forward to both. My plan is Blood Angels for BoLScon and Khornate daemons for NOVAcon. These are my top two armies. Lots of fellow 40k Wrecking Crew members will be in attendance with me this weekend so it will be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with them.
So here is how I typically prepare for big events:
1) Army design - I always want to bring an army that is unique, looks awesome and is fun to play. I always try my best to bring an army that kicks butt on the table but I value uniqueness and theme over a game crushing net list. Sometimes you can roll them all into one but I have found that is rarely the case. I like to win but my armies typically don't crank out massacre after massacre. It's fun to play those games that come down to the last dice roll and to me that is a big part of why I will travel to play. That said my Khornate daemons is an army that can do it all and I'm very interested to see how they will fare at NOVAcon. My Blood Angels look awesome and are always a lot of fun to play. I have found that game crusher armies tend to get boring very fast and I dread the moment when you finally realize that it's all become mechanical, move the models, roll the dice and move on.
2) Playtesting - This is a very important aspect for me and I will play literally hundreds of games tweaking my army lists to get the best synergy. Currently I have been playing my Blood Angels versus the toughest SW & IG lists I can find. I want to know my rules inside out and hone all my tactics. This can make the difference between winning and losing the big games. I encourage tournament gamers to playtest as much as possible. My Khorne army is one of those rare cases where my first attempt at the list was pretty much right on the money with only minor tweaks needed while my Blood Angels army has really taken me to the task to come up with a solid build... There are lots of great units to chose from but they all tend to be expensive so you have to work very hard to come up with all the right choices. I'm sure that BoLScon will be more of a learning experience for me more than anything else - I have little to no experience versus armies such as orks, nidz and eldar. That's a problem but then again it's also a challenge.
3) Understanding how the tournament system works - You spend all your free time assembling the army and painting it right up until it's time to go. I always try my best to avoid this situation as a lack of solid preparation usually leads to a bad showing. It's just as important to know all the rules in affect at a tournament as it is to bring a beautiful game crusher army. I've so often seen people show up and have to spend the evening before the first day slaving away into the wee hours of the morning painting those last few units. They are really tried and can't think straight plus there will be plenty of surprises in the form of rules and gaming conventions they did not take the time to properly study beforehand. I always print out all the tournament documentation and read it all front to back at least twice, most often thrice. If I have any questions then there's plenty of time to contact the TOs for clarifications. Studying the rules well ahead of time ensures everything will run smoothly plus you'll have some time to kick back and drink a few brews with your wargaming buddies.
4) Making new friends - Every game is an opportunity to make a new friend. Relax and enjoy your games. It's not the end of the world if you lose a game and it's going to happen to everyone... Some less than others but that's just the way it is. Many of closest wargaming buddies I met at tournaments during a game and that's just cool. The worst thing that can happen is you spend lots of time and money then get all pissed because you lost a game you felt you should have won then you end up looking back thinking it was another bad experience. Inevitably you'll end up playing other gamers at your level. Bad dice gone cold happens... Don't let it ruin what could be the time of your life.
5) Avoid akward situations !!! This is a big one and ties into my last point. If you find yourself across the table from the proverbial TFG keep your cool, don't lose your temper. It's just one game that you have to get through. Often I won't speak much when playing a TFG and keep the rules close by, you're going to need them. Make sure you know where the judges are so you can grab one when a dispute occurs. You will get more calls in your favor if remain calm and have all the relevant rules at hand. Present your case clearly bringing out all the important bits then move on after a decision is reached. There have been games where I have literally had a judge parked at my table and this is by choice. It can really cut down on the arguments and keep the game moving in a timely manner. This should be the exception to the case but if you find yourself in this type of situation you'll be glad you did and that's the purpose of having the judges. Finally you need to know all the rules inside out if you want to be a real competitive player. Luckily the TFGs out there make up a small percentage of the total players and it should be a rare day if you ever have to face two of them. Remember - Keep calm and don't get all flustered... The TFGs are banking on their antics driving you up the wall and taking your mind off the game. This is why I am against tournies pitting people that don't like each on the same table -.it's an equation for disaster and one person will definitely walk away bitter. The less drama the better, especially for the TOs as these kind of situations will draw bad press like white on rice.
So that is it for now.