Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Mutants & Scum" at Astronomi-Con Vancouver 2008 - Pt2

Day one started early for me... nothing to do with the event, just the kids!

After arriving at UBC and doing the usual round of catching up with old friends and saying hello to the new players, I unpacked my army and did a few touch ups to the table damage that had happened in transport. I spent a while talking with players about the table, its construction and getting a lot of complements about it. Job done and mission accomplished!

Onto the gaming. First round match-ups are based on your composition score. Most players will have an 18 or 20, so it is pretty arbitrary.

Game 1
Opponent - Colin Sherlow - Orks
Mission - "Divide and Conquer"

Deployment was with a diagonal split across the table, with an 18" push back. I put my Basilisks as far back as I could (don't like Orks inside my minimum range...), and Colin then "pushed" the rest of my army back. Game was pretty predictable. Orks have a huge advantage in games like this - 18" is nothing for them, so first or second turn charges are pretty much guaranteed! My Basilisks managed to take out his Battlewagon on turn 2, which probably made the game last 15 minutes longer that it needed to! Took out his dreadnought, 2 of the killerkans and a lot of the boyz, but in the end the sheer speed of orks was my undoing. Oh, and the fact that I was out numbered about 3 to one! In the end I was totally wiped out...

Result - Ork Victory (zero battle points)
Notes - Colin was lots of fun to play, and his army is very "orky". Astro' scenarios are usually story driven, with 10 pts for the win, 3 for a loss, and 7 for a tie. There are also three
(+/-) battle modifier points (ala the old GT days...). Later in the day I found up we had screwed up the deployment zone - the sheet said that we could not go within 6" of the middle of the table - it should have been 6" of the LINE down the middle of the table! Meh, probably would have lost anyway.

Game 2
Opponent - Craig Fleming - Orks (ARGH!)
Mission - "Assault and Battery"

Great, Orks again! "Assault and Battery" is a time honoured Astro' scenario. You have 3 griffons (gotta use them for something these days), which for every turn they "fire" the defender gets 50VP per shot per gun. The attacker gets 200VP for each gun that can no longer fire. The deployment is a modifed escalation, with the defender (me according to the standard Astro' attack/defend table) getting to put 1 HQ and 2 troops down. Well that would be the Last Chancers wouldn't it! The deployment "box" was 24" square, and in cover. The orks get to put everything out... again just 18" away from me! I needed to at least try to slow them down, so I placed my Chimerae up front, with some shooty/counter assault guys behind.
The game is also a Night Fight. Orks get first turn of course... and yes, the trucks get the nobs in mega armour to the Chimera on the left straight away. The nobs were the bane of my game - that 2+ armour save is tough! The Ogryns did a good job coming in on reserve and marching up the road - they ended up taking out 2 units of boyz. The Ratlings were pretty good too; whilst not pinning large ork mobs they can pick off troops and hold table objectives. I think the game may have been a draw if it has ended on turn 5, as oppossed to going an extra turn (Random Game Length). In the end though it was not enough, Craig's force was just too numerous and too tough for 25 T3 guardsmen with 4+ saves!

Result - Ork Victory (3 battle points)
Notes - Craig is new to 40K (long time FB player), but he plays with some VERY experienced players who have taught
him well, and helped him build a fine ork force (damn you Aaron, Jeremy and Derrick!). I have one criticism of the scenario, and maybe of some the Astro scenarios in general. They seem to favour HtH armies - Night Fight is a common theme, and the 18" deployment differential favours faster HtH armies like Orks and Tyranids, and these 2 are pretty much always going to be the attacker. Sure my force was pretty specialized I admit that, but even with regular guard I would have a tough time stopping the orks from getting to the Griffons. Now 5th edition may help balance this; Orks winning HtH will NOT be able to sweep into the next "speed" bump (ie 10 guardsmen).

Game 3
Opponent - Marshall Reeves - Imperial Guard
Mission - "Midnight Patrol"

Marshall had a HUGE guard army! This included 50 Conscripts (with Commissar), and Basilisk, Demolisher, and a Cyclops. Many people forget that Astro' allows Imperial Armour entries and lists. This army was also in Vancouver last year, and I managed to avoid it. The table were put on was a familiar one to me; the terrain was from Checkpoint Charlie's, and I played on it last year vs. my nemesis Nick Daniels!
Again another Night Fight, and a modified Escalation game. Combined with only a 12" deployment zone, and zero fire lanes this was going to be a battle of indirect fire and HtH... Again one Troop and HQ deploy initially, with reserves starting turn 1 (on a 5+). I believe Marshall got the first turn, and failed to roll for anything coming on... I did a bit better, with both my units in Chimerae coming on and a Basilisk. There was not much shooting. Turn 2 saw the Cyclops come on and move towards my lines. Still not much shooting! My turn I got my Ratlings (oh, they were so going to swing this game...), the other Basilisk and my Ogryns on the table. The Ogryn moved towards the enemy, and my first Basilisk opened up on the guard. Due to scatter and good cover I think I only killed four guardsmen. On the right flank, my "heavy" unit was able to start working on getting rid of the couple of units that were deployed in cover. Turn 3 Marshall gets his conscripts on the table, jamming his deplyment zone with a juicy ID fire target, as well as his Basilisk.

The cyclops moved even closer to my Ogryns... Ogryns don't like the dark, so I moved then up and jumped out in front of one of his squads.

My shooting was pretty unspectacular! Other shooting knocked off a few veteran guardsmen, but I guessed incorrectly when targetting the Cyclops controller - he was inside my minimum range.
Turn 4... Marshall gets his Demolisher onto the table - thank goodness for 24" range! - and scoots it down my left flank. However the Cyclops moves up and get close to my Ogryns (and his guardsmen). BOOM! Two Ogryns get pulped, the Chimera gets immobilized, and 2 guardsmen die. Not bad. The Ogryns pass their leadership test from the remaining shooting. I have everything on the table now... I ignore the Conscripts, I'm not going to break them, wipe them out, and they can't do anything to me. I go after the veterans in the middle of the table, and move up on my left flank a little. I also move one Basilisk that is getting threatened by the Demolisher. Some direct fire kills a few guardsmen, indirect takes out Marshall's Basilisk. My heavies take down a few more guardsmen, but they continue to stick around, little buggers... The veteran squad take a melta gun, flamer, plasmagun, and demo charge in the face - some of them survive!
Time to get stuck in... the Ogryns charge the squad above - and fail to wipe it out - weak.
Turn 5. My squad that has shot at the veteran squad has been charged (I had fired RF weapons so I could not), and they get wiped out, as do the Ogryns. Nothing much went on here, the Basilisks took out his demolisher that had moved up on my flank, I managed to take out the sentinel with some lucky shooting in the dark. I could not finish of the squad on my left flank. I roll for more turns - the game ends after 5.

Result - Tied Game! (6 battle points)
Notes - damn that was close. In the end it was a 71 point differential. If there has been one more turn I think I would have wrapped the game up, but "ifs" don't count in 40k! Marshall was a great opponent with a very cool army; we realized on ~turn 3 that "tactics" would play NO role in the game - it was truely a game of chance. Fives all round on the soft scores from me!

Well there ended day one. Three good games and I'm going up in the results! We all headed off to Mahoney's for a drink and food, I headed home for a good night's rest for day two...

Day 2...

On arrival at UBC I found that there has been late night gaming (crazy blighters...), and that one of the games had been on the table I bought!

Game 4
Opponent - Brian Hicks - Imperial Guard
Mission - "Dyer Straits"

Oh great I get to play on my own table! Whilst you may think this would be something I would want (and normally it would be), I was dreading playing this scenario. The Astro' system would put me as the defender... luckily I was playing against another guard army, so there was a chance I would get to be the attacker (still not a palettable choice given the "size" of my army!).
Brian had one of the most beautifully painted armies at Astro' - and there were some damn fine conversions too (his Hydra had been the "talk of the circuit" for a couple of years.). He also had a flyer...

On the roll off for attacker/defender I lost, so I get the choice I did not want! The scenario allowed me to place one HQ, all my troops (so the Last Chancers again) and a unit "of my choice". Well of course I put a Basilisk out. I also get to control the turret as a Leman Russ Battle Cannon. Everything else is held in Reserve.

Brian got to deploy his entire force 24" from his table end.

Those heavy bolter teams were going to be a pest...
Brian started his turn with the repeating Preliminary Bombardment. This scenario rule was going to prove to be VERY effective for the attacker; with at least one vehicle unable to fire each turn and my Last Chancers getting slowly shredded by d6 wounds everytime the PB hit. Brian seemed to be able to roll a lot of 6's in the first 3 turns!
The game was pretty slow for the first 3 turns - Brian would move forward, slam my lines with the Preliminary Bombardment. Brian also had a LOT of grenade launchers. These served him REALLY well, when they hit, and he did alot of damage with them. I think they will be the Guard assault weapon of choice in 5th edition. Last Chancers don't break or get pinned of course, unless Schaeffer is dead. Turn 3 my Ogryns come on.

I chose not to shoot, as with the lines bunched the way they were on my left flank I figured I could roll 2 or 3 units. The first unit gets pounded into the mud, then I roll into the next, and hit the platoon command HQ. After wiping both those out I consolidate, but for some whacky reason I don't sweep into the storm troopers that had rallied from previous turns of indirect pounding! Oops...
The following turn they would take some grenade-love in the face, plus the Vulture showed up and dropped a full ammo load on them! Ultimately they would succumb, but they held that flank for 3 rounds of combat.
On the other flank I had immobilized the Trojan first turn, and the Command Chimera in the 3rd.

The Rough Riders (beautifully converted Cold Ones!) were also a worry. I had been sniping at them for a few turns, slowly thinning their numbers. In the end they would charge the unit in the trench above and wipe them out. However, Ratling Sniper and Chimera shooting would be the end of them! Brian rolled for the end/continuation of the game - done on Turn 5. With no units in my deployment zone I won!

Result - Last Chancers Victory! (11 battle points)
Notes - that was a REALLY good game
. Lucky for me the Vulture gunship did very little other than crush my Ogryns. The MVP for me was the Ordnance fire - both from the Basilisks and the defensive turrent. For Brian it has to be the "Shell Shock" (repeating Preliminary Bombardment). Not that it affects anything, but I should have had 12 battle points - I had a Basilisk between the rear and middle defensive lines, as well as the Ratlings in the front trench line.

Game 5
Opponent - Andrew "Muskie" McKay - Nurgle CSM
Mission - "Dust Off"

Ah! Muskie! What a character... Seriously, Muskie IS a character, in the nicest possible way. And a damn fine painter too.

"Dust Off" is a favourite Astro' scenario of mine - I played it last year and I was the only one of the Defenders to win from what I understand. For the attacker it can be quite a challenge (as Muskie was about to find out...) as they start with nothing on the table, and the defender everything. The objective is to get the pilot to the Valkyrie (and off the table). The trick of this one is that he is too far away to "walk" - the solution is to put him in a vehicle, have him assault a unit on the way back, or in the case of 5th Edition "run".

The above shot is about 4 turns in... the game is a Night Fight (again!). Muskie got first turn, and failed to get anything in from reserve. I jumped the pilot into one of the Chimerae, zoomed backwards 12" and stopped. The Ogryn Chimera backed up too, keeping on "point".
Turn 2... Muskie failed to roll for any of his reserves.... Ouch... The pilot jumps out and makes a 6" difficult terrain move into the complex.
Turn three -
Muskie gets his havocs on! They don't have much to shoot at with bolters, and Night Fight is not helping. The pilot moves up the steps with another good DT roll, and makes it to the Valkyrie - 500VPs for me.. I've moved the Chimerae around a bit, but with no targets it is pretty quiet. I fire one Chimera at the Havocs and fire my Ratings - I think I killed 2 Havocs that round.
I'm nicely castled in the terrain, and I have no intention of leaving!

Turn four Muskie starts to get some stuff on the table - a Rhino with Plague Marines, his Lord and the Land Raider. Sadly for Muskie it is too little too late. He give one of the Basilisks a bit of a scare, and takes out about 6 Last Chancers, but the "protection" of nightfight and hard cover served me well. My Ogryns counter charge his Plague Marines, the Basilisks dropped their load on one unit, and take out the Land Raider (after previously immobilizing and stunning it)... Muskie's Dreadnought failed to show at all. At the end of turn five I rolled to see if the game would go on. Game end!

Result - Last Chancers Victory! (12 battle points)
Notes - the scenario killed Muskie - pure and simple. Oh, that and using GW dice to roll for his reserves, his plasma shots and his FnP rolls - I've never seen so many 1s!

Muskie keeps a blog too - here is his version of the game.

Game 6
Opponent - Teras Cassidy - Tyranids
Mission - "Hammer & Ambull"

I don't have any pictures of the game - I was pretty tired by the time 4pm rolled around on the Sunday!
Teras had an "odd" list. The army was beautifully painted, and in many cases very well converted; the presence of the Ripper Swarms and the Malanthrope made sense, but the Zoanthrope, the 2 Carnifexes, the "spawning pool" and the Mycetic Spores really threw the "theme" for me. I've been around tyranid players for many years, some of the best (Jeff Burcham), and this one just did not "fit" for me.
The game was going to be an odd one - H&A had been around since the beginning of Astro' from what I know. This does not excuse the PITA that those Ambulls were going to be! EVERY SINGLE ONE that popped out of the ground did so towards me. Which meant that they would be assaulting the closest unit the next turn. My units.
In the first turn I took the initiative and shot/charged the first two. Moving beyond my hatred for the Rogue Trader era monsters...
I spent a lot of time dropping ordnance rounds on Ripper swarms, mushing them to chitinous pulp. The slower monsters I was not worried about at this stage as I'd have plenty of time to shoot them later. An interesting little side combat took place on my left flank. The Ratlings got charged by the Malanthrope, and even though they lost the combat they rolled two 1s to stay in the game (needing a three as they were below half strength and under the influence of a zoanthrope's crazy brain!). My Ogryns did nothing in this game - except survive, as their Chimera was immobilized on the first turn as I attempted to leave terrain!
The game was going ALL my way - emphazied when Schaeffer got charged by a Carnifex (with only 2 wounds left) - he hefted his power sword, swung, hit twice and then did 2 wounds (needing 6s), one dead 'fex! The next turn he walked up to the other Carnifex and blew its brains out with a single plasma pistol shot!
Then turn 5 happened... Those Mycetic Spores dropped in. They took out one of my Basilisks which allowed a "trapped" ripper swarm and hormagaunts to get to my Command HQ hidden behind (the "keep 1 inch away" rule in 4th ed stopped Teras from ignoring the Basilisks and charging the HQ with the rippers through the small gap between my two Basilisks. Well this turned the game. The Malanthrope then proceeded to attack Schaeffer, who despite dieing to excessive wounds managed to stand up on his bionics for one more round of heroic battle!
He later succumbed to his wounds.. fittingly he was the Last to die...

Result - Tyranid Victory (2 battle points)
Notes - pretty good game. I could have done without the distraction of the five Ambulls... or at least the odd one going into the Tyranid line. I sensed a Xenos conspiracy!

Yet again Astronomi-Con delivered on its promise! The weekend was lots of fun; good scenarios, good players, good looking armies. I feel sorry for the Vancouver players who could not be bothered to attend especially those that whinned that "it was not 5th edition". What tripe.
Astro' is the best we have had in Vancouver in a number of years (since the GT was cut), not playing at Astro' is confessing you can't hack a balanced, yet competative tournament. Oh well more space for the guys who DO enjoy that type of event.

I was very happy with the way the table turned out, how it was received and with the excellent scenario Mike and Christian cooked up for it. Thanks guys!

In the end I finished 9th Overall (edit - this may actually be 7th, as there appears to be errors in the final ranking sheet). I got second for Best Terrain... that made a few people look at Mike and Christian a bit funny...

I won Best Appearance! Holy Cow! I got 28/30 for my painting scores, beating Brian and Muskie. Pretty happy with that!

As always thanks to the guys I played - 6 excellent fun games.
I look forward to Astro-Vancouver 2009, and possibly Astro-Nottingham. My fellow Brits will not know what hit them!


  1. Hey Doc!

    I followed a link from Muskie's blog here and found pictures of my army from 2008!

    Interestingly, I've played 40k for almost as long as I've played Fantasy. Just I gave up on it for half of 3rd edition and three quarters of 4th edition. I wasn't enjoying the game, so I re-focused on Fantasy and (as you say) ended up playing A LOT of that. I also blame D, D and J for splitting my attention again...they made the game fun again :).

    Your table for this tournament was absolutely amazing. I remember coming back from the pub, absolutely exhausted and demanding that Jer play a game against me on it just so that I could make sure that I got a game on it before the weekend was out. I was so inspired that I went home and promptly started work on some of my own terrain...unfortunately I lost that motivation 2 months later after two pieces were done >.<

  2. Hello, I was directed here from a forum post about great tables, but it looks like your photos are broken. Any chance you'd be able to update your links or send me some photos if you get a chance?

    1. David... a little late I know!
      Not sure where the pics are, but if you want them still I may be able to email.
      And info on the forum woudl be appreciated!