The Totally Epic Warhammer 40,000 Grand Tournament at the NOVA Open 2017

The NOVA Open is one of the largest tabletop gaming conventions in the world, providing hundreds of hobbyists with a weekend of top-tier wargaming as well as seminars and tutorials on advanced techniques for painting and modelling. We’re lucky enough to be attending this year, and we’ll be reporting via Warhammer Live and Warhammer Community on all the action from the weekend for any of you that can’t make it! In the first of a series previewing NOVA, we’re talking to Tournament Organiser Phil about the Warhammer 40,000 Grand Tournament, as well as the other Warhammer 40,000 organised play events available for NOVA attendees:


Phil: Hi folks, my name is Phil Rodokanakis, and I run the NOVA Open’s Warhammer 40,000 Grand Tournament in Arlington, VA (August 31 – September 3, 2017). The NOVA Open is a large US convention dedicated to tabletop wargaming and the miniature figure hobby in general. In partnership with the NOVA Open Charitable Foundation, NOVA is all about raising money for great charitable causes while having an awesome time enjoying our shared hobbies. The founding event that started NOVA nearly 8 years ago is a Warhammer 40,000 Grand Tournament, with room for as many as 256 players!

Before I talk about the GT, I want to share what led me to become its Tournament Organizer. I first went to the NOVA Open as an attendee in 2013 and it was awesome! It was my first major GT and was the most fun I ever had playing Warhammer. I met some of the best opponents I ever played, it was a friendly atmosphere, and everyone in the halls had giant smiles on their faces. I committed to making it an annual adventure, but it wasn’t until Summer 2015 that I realized I wanted to give back to the gaming community, and what better way than by volunteering to judge for the biggest GT in my own backyard? So why do I tell you this? Because it is such a great time that I was willing to give up playing to help the event become even better. The staff at the NOVA Open are professional, kind, courteous, 100% volunteer, and makes everyone feel like they’re part of one big family. It is one of the best run events I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending, and I’ve been to many.

Just a small portion of NOVA’s 70,000 Square Feet of Gaming Space

The GT is all about bringing the list you want to compete with, putting it down on the table, rolling dice, and having fun with your opponent. The GT runs 2 or 3 days, with a total of 8 rounds. With 3 games being played on day one and day two, and then the final two rounds being played on day 3. What’s that, you say? How does it run either two OR three days? Well, we structure the event scoring so those of you who only want 6 games can enjoy the other things the event has to offer. Whether you want to participate in hobby seminars or narrative events, or travel to Washington, D.C. and check out the awesome free museums and monuments on the National Mall, you’re free to. The heart of Washington is right down the street from the hotel!

The format of the GT is unique and focused on sportsmanship and fairness. Most tournaments pair on win/loss or Battle/Victory Points. The NOVA Open instead uses what we call “win path,” which pairs not just by record, but by when you won and lost your games. This method better ensures you play against opponents who are in the same mental/emotional “place.” For example, if two players are 3-1, and Player A lost their game in round 1, but Player B lost their game in round 4, Player B is going to be in a much different mindset than Player A. Player A just lost their first game, perhaps dashing hopes of going undefeated, while Player B is on a high off three straight victories. According to player surveys through the years, this pairing method results in one of the best sportsmanship experiences they’ve experienced in a tournament.

Throw dice, enjoy awesome armies and terrain, and have a blast!

Another unique flavor of the NOVA Open is our bracketing system. We don’t believe tournaments should be all about the toughest players who crush everyone. Instead, after round 4, you get put into brackets with people who are on similar win paths. If your army doesn’t quite gel with the current tournament “meta,” you’ll end up playing amongst people with similar lists and tournament experiences throughout Rounds 5-8 for meaningful prizes and outcomes. From there, you can duke it out to win your bracket and get a prize for being Bracket Champion, or just enjoy games against similarly styled players and armies.

Now I hear you thinking, but Phil, who wins the NOVA Open Grand Tournament? Well, that’s a great question! Once again seeking to create an event where all player types are rewarded, we have four different win paths for players to follow! The “Renaissance Man” is based a whopping 50% on Hobby/Paint scores and 50% on Win/Loss and Battle Points. The “Virtuoso” is the player with the very best painted and themed army – a true work of art. The “Battlemaster” is the player who earns the most total Victory Points, regardless of record. And finally, the Tournament Champion is the winner of the “First Bracket,” into which the toughest players from Rounds 1-4 are placed. The NOVA Open considers these awards to be equal, and places no emphasis on one over the other.

We want you to choose your own path to glory. More importantly, everyone at the NOVA Open is a winner, joining together for friendship, fun, and support of great causes while diving headfirst into the games we all share a passion for.

The NOVA Open isn’t just about the GT, either. It includes nearly a hundred hobby seminars, dozens of organized play events ranging from Narrative to Tournament, an awesome vendor hall (including Forge World this year), food trucks brought in just for the con, and even the awesome Foundation Lounge, where you can socialize, catch live music, and enjoy refreshments for charity all weekend long. There’s too much to cover in a single post, but I hope to see you this Labor Day weekend in Arlington, VA near Washington, DC!


You can attend the NOVA Open from August 31 to September 3, 2017 – we hope to see you there, whether in person or via  Warhammer Live on Twitch!

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