Things I liked:
- Seeing and talking with players I've gotten to know at Gathering in the Desert
- Facing tough opponents
- The food; good catering
- Winning a random door prize of 3 Lord of the Rings "command" boxes
- The venue (Vegas!)
Things I didn't like:
- The fact that some guys played against each other in 2 out of the first 3 games and got a bonus point for it; there were enough armies (24) in the tournament to allow for no rematches on the first day of the tournament.
- Not having good vs. evil for the first round; again, there were almost enough armies from each "side" to allow for that in the first round. Instead it was Gondor vs. Gondor, Isengard vs. Isengard and Moria vs. Moria for some of the first round match-ups.
- The format. There were only wins, losses and draws; there were no "minor" or "major" category for either wins or losses. I guess I've been spoiled by the effort that Tim K goes through at GITD and other organizers that I've heard about at other Independant tournaments have taken to give players interesting yet challenging scenarios for LOTR.
- The scoring. It seemed kind of mysterious to me...no painting...no sportsmanship (just a single vote for the "favorite game" which was just weird IMO).
- The results/awards. Besides taking so long to give out the awards, I think that for being a "core" game, LOTR got shorted. For WHFB and 40k, each distinct army present that has an official codex had a best general award, even if there was only 1 or 2 armies from that faction participating. This didn't happen for LOTR with only a best "good" and a best "evil" general and a best overall given. It just doesn't seem consistent to me; the LOTR players traveled just like players from those other systems and should have been given the same consideration.
Things I'm undecided about:
- The terrain. The battle boards were nice as were the ruins, but I didn't like the tree bases or all of the fences...apparently there are abandoned farms throughout Middle Earth with random fences everywhere. Now I understand trying to make the terrain consistent for a tournament setting such as this, but again I guess I'm spoiled by the themed terrain Tim K puts out for GITD and that I know others also put a lot of effort into.
- The paint scoring. Two of the three armies that won awards for painting in LOTR were nice, but I felt there were a couple of others that were clearly nicer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess.
- If I qualify for next year's TOS, will I go to Memphis? If I had to decide right now, no I wouldn't go. The event wasn't bad, but I expected something more...this just was "eh"...ok. Now, when the time comes and if I had an opportunity to go, I probably would just to catch up with everyone and hope to get in some challenging games, but only time will tell on that.
- I'm not sure if I like 700 point games. Until this tournament I've only played at 350, 500 and 600 points. Out of those I honestly like 350 point games the best. I saw some of the games at 700 points end in draws because both players were at max model count and it took so long to deploy, move, shoot and fight that those armies couldn't hope to break an opponent in the alloted time. This point level also gives some players additional leeway to take even odder, more strangely configured (IMO) armies than at lower point levels. LOTR is a skirmish game and I've always felt that the forces on the table should reflect lower level battles from the books and not turn into min-max combinations where players cherry pick certain troop types and ally them with another certain troop type from another army just to win. I mean, why can't people try to win with common troops or troops from just one list? Isn't that more of a measure of how good of a player you are instead of spending hours figuring out great combinations from various lists that will be ultra-competative? Of course, this doesn't apply to all of the armies that were there...there were some very solidly themed armies, but there were several others that left me scratching my head.