To be fair, a lot of that is I fell off a fair bit from GW games for a while. Lately, that's changed quite a bit!
First off, some NOVA Open Updates. It's a super exciting year. I say that every year, but it keeps getting more interesting, which is a great thing.
Here are some short-hand highlights in a very random order ...
- Games Workshop is attending. Yup. They're promising some really cool things at NOVA, most of which they won't even talk to us about yet. After what happened at AdeptiCon, I'm stoked.
- Fantasy Flight Games made the NOVA Open the host of its Star Wars National Championships events for all Star Wars game systems. This includes the brand new and very popular Destiny card game, Star Wars Card Game, Imperial Assault, Armada, and X-Wing. Nearly all events are sold out.
- Warlord Games is attending and running a full weekend of Bolt Action, Antares, and Konflict events and tournaments, plus they'll have a vendor booth. That came out of the blue - we're super excited.
- We're at around 350% faster registrations than last year. Swag Bags sold out on the first night. SuperNOVA bags lasted 32 seconds. This is enormously liberating for us as organizers - we feel everyone is excited, and we can focus more on prep and quality, and less on haranguing the regulars to sign up earlier than later. Unfortunately, this does mean many of the regulars who sign up later historically will miss out on things like swag bags this year. Semi-bummer. Around 1,000 people are already signed up to attend (compared to roughly 300 at this time last year).
- Things that didn't historically sell out quite as fast have done so this year. Seminars are a particularly good example of this. Painting a Bust in Atmosphere, Painting OSL, Roman's Blending School, The Shaded Basecoat Technique are all sold out. Less than 5 spots remain in a large # of others, including Roman's Color Theory, the other Shaded Basecoat Technique class iteration, Building a Display Base, Building a Solid Base, and many others.
- People have signed up for a bunch of board game events even already (many / most of which are free).
- 40K and 30K excitement are returning to NOVA, it would seem. Compared to last year, most of our registration in those event paths is up anywhere from 100-200%. 30K was capped at 32 people last year, but 68 are already registered across its events this year, with 47/64 spots sold out in the Escalation Campagin. The 40K GT, which typically has slower registration due to the incidence of LVO and AdeptiCon during its first couple months of registration, is nearly at 100 spots already, which is over triple its pace by this time last year.
The Direction of Games Workshop
Last year, right before NOVA, Games Workshop reached out to the organizers of AdeptiCon, LVO, and the NOVA Open. Hank/Greg/Chris, Reece/Frankie, and I, among others, ended up spending a long weekend with them in Nottingham. They recently shared at AdeptiCon that they'd been engaging with Reece, Frankie, Chris, myself, and others from the community, and while there isn't much I can really share, I can say that it is part of a trend they've shown over the past couple years of changing their entire approach and outlook to their community of gamers as a whole.
Whether it's hilarious videos jumping on top of and taking ownership of new and breaking rumor leaks, being the actual leaders in providing first look and early hint information to the community, engaging their fans and supporters for feedback and input, or just being more connected to what's going on in the heads of their consumers ... GW is absolutely crushing it lately in terms of their PR side of the house.
For years, it felt as though the *only* customer they were concerned with was their shareholder-side customers ... a common fault seen when niche or hobby-focused (or really any) companies go public. This certainly cannot be said to be the case lately. Lately, image shares and other things also support that this has been good for them on the public / shareholder front *anyway*, as buzz is on the rise and long-absent fans are returning, while better engagement and better expansion to other media like video/computer games seems to be doing a better job of generating newer customers.
I also think people have an erroneous impression of a lot of the inner workings of GW. Again, I can't really share much in terms of details, but Jervis Johnson is a good idea. I met the man over a cup of coffee while in Nottingham, and was nothing but impressed by his thoughts, words, outlook, and the things he shared. He was not the gamer-hating, crotchety old bugaboo that many (including, at times, myself) have in the past purveyed him to be.
This is mostly just a bit of my rambling thoughts, but I'll simply say that I'm very excited about the direction GW's been heading, both in the tactical sense with regard to their game design choices and releases (Blood Bowl, Age of Sigmar's General's Handbook, etc.) and in the strategic sense with regard to their changing methods and approaches for engaging with the community and taking ownership of how their own consumers see them and interact with them.
I was enthused to hear GW's announcements at AdeptiCon for a couple reasons. One, because it gives me a lot of excitement about what they might announce at NOVA! They don't tell us this sorta thing, so I have no idea if they'll even do any kind of big reveal, but I'm certainly hoping! Two, because the stuff they revealed was overall very exciting.
To those I chat with regularly, it's no secret that I haven't enjoyed 40k lately. The game today is very centered on micromanaging super units, abusing the psychic phase, adding hundreds or even thousands of free points to your game, etc. I find the very thought of a model with only a 1/36 chance of failing a save just mind-bogglingly dumb, and can't help but feel one of my eyebrows rising in incredulity when those who play such units ardently defend them as good design elements. So, while GW hasn't announced anything as near-term as a new edition, it sure seems from the ACon announcements that they are looking at some hefty changes to core rules mechanics. The very fact that they're at least labbing and talking about these things in the design studio makes me think or at least hope that some kind of meaningful game shake-up is in the future. It may not be something that occurs anytime soon or by NOVA, but at least it's percolating - and this gets me stoked.
Until such a thing happens, however, there's Blood Bowl! I'll be joining a Blood Bowl league Dan Boyd is starting up later this year, and I've got a couple of the new plastic teams sitting at home waiting for me to get around to actually painting them. If I ever have that kinda time :)
I hope to post more as we move forward, especially as it relates to further announcements and releases from GW. In the meantime, make sure to sign up for whatever NOVA events look best to you. It's going to be a helluva big year!