Thursday, January 29, 2009

Road to AdeptiCon - Part 2

First unit painted! I've been a bit slow this past two weeks; ConQuestNW and work really messed with my painting schedule. The Penitent Engines are coming along nicely, and I'll start work on the Arbites this week to be done in parallel (to be frank the Penitent Engines are going to take a while - they are quite complex!).
But for now, here are the Arco-flagellates...

Monday, January 26, 2009

GTs... so what does the future hold?

So after the events of the ConQuestNW Seattle GT I have been doing a fair bit of thinking about how they need to improve and my subsequent place in them.
  • The event itself was VERY well run; the group that took over (The Fallen) at 2 week's notice did an excellent job in running two different gaming systems. Props to them.
  • The terrain for gaming was not bad, but it was a little "thin"; stores stepped up to help out on this and they gave pretty much everything they had.
  • The prize support was astounding - the winners walked away with Forge World models, Citadel Battle tables and army boxes. Trophies were pretty sweet too!
  • The venue is excellent - just off I5, and cheapish accommodation.
So what needs to be improved?
  • Terrain - with a year's notice until the next one, and the dozen or so GW stores in the area chipping in, this should not be an issue.
  • Composition - I truly think that without a composition system the GT will be nothing more than a "posh" 'Ard Boyz event. Playing to win is fine, but with the GT it is about the hobby. Unlike the 'Ard Boyz there are sportsmanship scores, and appearance points... the 'Ard Boys is about winning, the GT is about celebrating the hobby and having fun. How much fun can it be to get double Lashed into 2 Vindicator cannon shots? And then get assaulted but a squad of lightening claw terminators. Wow, great tactical thinking there guys... Come up with something the gaming community did not work out the same day as the CSM Codex came out! There are plenty of composition scoring structures out there, one such as Astronomi-Con's could be adapted for the 1850 point game.
  • Painting - have the judges use a lighting source - some spots of the room were under 12W bulbs... or it felt like that! Also, make it clear that you MUST display the army you are playing with; the WHOLE army (have players put their list next to their army for verification).
  • Army list - have them checked... yes I appreciate that this is a lot of work. Astro' (these guys lead the way don't they!) give bonus points to players who get their list in 2 weeks before hand. I'd get my list in for 5 extra points! Playing 3 lists that had errors in them (to the advantage of the owner) is pretty galling...
Another method is the way GW-Canada did it for the last few years of their GT/Conflict system. After round 1 have the players exchange army lists (and codexes). If your list is found to be incorrect you forfeit that game. Your opponent then signs off on the list if it OK. In the event that signature was put on an invalid list you BOTH loose your battle points... all of them! Of course GW really never enforced this (when do they ever?) as at the last Vancouver event I played a Tau player who was allowed to continue with his army even though he had no battlesuit as Commander... I was told this AFTER we had set up!
  • Mid-way scores - the organizers made the mistake of publishing the halfway results at the beginning of day one. These included the painting scores for SOME of the players. At best pointless, at worst it would encourage beardy play amongst those near the top for the last 2 games.
  • Getting distracted - the score tabulators were constantly getting bugged at the end of the event (before the prizes were given out). Shame on the players who did this, but the scoring computers should have been set up in a separate area.
  • Preliminary results - don't ever, ever publish something preliminary! So if it turns out the winner was not the winner, how will you feel asking for the prizes back?
So where do I stand in all of this, will I be going back?
  • Yes, I'll be going back. However...
  • I'm pretty much tired of "martyring" myself to theme! From now on I'll be playing "by the rules" - if the event has no composition to talk of I'll be bringing a "winning" army. If composition is strong, I'll bring "themed" armies. Whilst the two are not mutually exclusive, I find when I stick to a story line the armies are weaker than the WAAC armies that others bring!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

beaten... and slightly down...

Well yesterday I returned from Seattle and the first ConQuestNW GT. The return of GT gaming to the Seattle area.

I have mixed feelings about the event itself, which I'll get to at the end of the batrep (this will be slightly truncated as I really did not take that many in-game pictures).

I took my Space Wolves, a reprise of the "Training Day" that made its debut in the same room 5 years ago. 53 Blood Claws... that got a few people's attention!

Game 1
Opponent - Russell Jordan – Eldar
Mission – Seize Ground, Deployment - Spearhead

[no picture; Avatar, Farseer, 2x 10 Pathfinders, 2x 6 Guardian Jet Bikes, 2x 20 Guardians, Wraithlord, 3 Warwalkers]

Result - Space Wolves Victory. 18 battle points gained.
Good game - Russell had an interesting mix of units that could have messed my army up badly, but being able to force one unit of this Pathfinders behind a terrain piece, and then getting to them on the first turn (rhino rush and shooting) was pretty big for me. Those Pathfinders can ruin your day rather quickly! On turn 2 my scouts came in, shot and assaulted his War Walkers and one of his units of guardians. I tied them up for the next few turns. After that it was a matter of shooting down the bikes (with my exterminator and land speeder), and getting stuck into the Avatar. In the end I think I held 3 objectives, and the other two were contested.

Game 2
Opponent - Wesley Knutsen – Space Marines (Salamanders)
Mission – Annihilation, Deployment - Spearhead

Result - Space Wolves Minor Loss. 8 battle points gained.
Well, I was pretty convinced I was going to get tabled by turn 3! I'd looked at Wesley's army earlier in the day and it gave me chills... Vulcan's ability to have all flamer and melta weapons count as twin-linked is huge. Luckily the Firestorm cannons are not included in that. Wes decided to deep strike his Land Speeders - I'm not sure if he was crazy, or being nice to me (when they came in they deviated, and were destroyed on the Mishap Table...). I managed to destroy one of the Land Raiders with my small Blood Claw unit, and take out the Attack Bikes with my scouts. My dreadnought took an ungodly amount of fire from Land Raiders and various other weapon systems, but after loosing both weapons and being immobilized it was still alive at the end of the game! We ended up with the Kill Points being 7-5. Pretty close for what I was up against. Wes told me the next day that I had given him his toughest fight of the event. If there has been a Favorite Player ballot (they took it out this year) Wes would have got my vote.

Game 3
Opponent - Ivan Neering – Orks
Mission – Seize Ground, Deployment - Pitched Battle

[no pictures; 8 nob bikers, 5 meganobs, truck, 30 shoota boyz, 30 slugga boyz, Ghazghkull, Warboss, 15 lootas 3 Zzap guns]

Result - Space Wolves Minor Loss. 9 battle points gained.
So this looked ugly from the get go... I was able to get the first turn and wreck Ghazghkull's Truck with my first shot; luckily, due to Ivan's deployment, they had to come out the back of the truck and pretty much started on the back edge. I could ignore them for the next couple of turns... Using my Exterminator I concentrated on the Lootas, slowly picking them apart. The bikes were going to be the BIG problem. 8 Nob bikers, with Cyborg bodies, 4 power klaws, and a painboy (that is 530 points if your were wondering), where going to be hard to kill. Well, I figured 30 blood claws and 2 HQs could do the job. Man was I wrong! I think I managed to kill 3 out of the unit, and with Ghazghkull running across the table as fas as his fat legs could take him, he was in combat pretty quickly. That turned the game for Ivan. His orks boyz were pretty much not part of the game - I broke one unit, and tied up another for a couple of turns. At the end of the game I think we had 2 objectives each. We had to go to Victory Points to decide the winner. Ivan had MANY more than I did!
Whilst I enjoyed the game, this is where my doubts about the tourney started to creep in. I thought Ivan's list was rather "un-orky"; too much dependence upon the big units and really not that many ork boyz.

Game 4

Opponent - Zen Zheng – Space Marines
Mission – Capture and Control, Deployment - Pitched Battle

Result - Space Wolves Minor Loss. 8 battle points gained.
So here was a marine army - with only 2 troops choices... one tactical and one scout unit. This was also my first chance to see the Thunderfire Cannon in action. Zen threw me from turn one - he only deployed the Landraider, the Thunderfire Cannon and the terminators across the back board edge, presumably protecting them from my scouts. I got to go first and immobilized and stunned his Landraider with my first shots. His Ironclad Dreadnought dropped in near my objective on his first turn, but did very little. I managed to destroying a couple of turn later. My scouts came in and went after his terminators - pretty suicidal, but I wanted to try to tie them up for a while; this they succeeded in doing, but they could not last too long. Pretty much took the termies out of the game though. The real pain in my a$$ was the Thunderfire Cannon - it's accuracy is scary and 4 blast shots at Str 6 can do a lot of damage. It won the game for Zen - knocking 2 of my units off the objective in my deployment zone. With his Vanguard dropping in on turn 3, and tying up one of my squads for a turn, this allowed his command squad to get into my deployment zone and take the objective. The homing beacon on the dreadnought drop pod also allowed his Land Speeders to come in on my side with out deviation - these ended up helping him immensely. Zen used his sniper (!) scouts to outflank and attempt to take his own objective. I was able to contest it with a rather thinned down Blood Claw unit that had weathered some long range shots from the terminators.

Game 5
Opponent - Ben Hanner – Black Templars
Mission – Annihilation, Deployment - Dawn of War

Result - Space Wolves Major Loss. 3 battle points gained.
This looked like it was going to be a good match up - Ben had bought four 10-man squads. Sure the two Vindicators would potentially be a pain in the ass, but I figured my scout would deal with at least one of them. Well, two things went wrong; firstly I thought I would be clever and assault BOTH of the Vindicators at the same time. I could not damage them! I really should have concentrated on blowing up one of them... The other issue was 15 Blood Claws could not take down 10 Crusaders; at all... I ended up loosing 7-2.

So why am I "slightly down"?
Well it is not from the "beating", I'm used to that. It is from the nature of the beating, and a few peripheral things.
  • of my 5 opponents 3 had incorrect or illegal lists... three...mathematical errors... geez...
  • the organizers published the results as "preliminary". Good job too... the data sheet was riddled with errors - right now the guy in second place has one more point than the Overall winner. Hmm... I think that needs fixing - but how to do it without being accused of shenanigans?!
  • "cheese" seemed to be the number one rule of the day. Given the richness of the background of 40K one would expect more story-driven army designs (and in the past these seemed to be the norm, especially in Seattle). But no, it was almost as though WAAC was a requirement. I blame GW. The 'Ard Boyz events have thrown out any semblance of composition. The current soft scoring system really does not give any latitude for rating the composition of your opponents army.
Not all armies were bad, this one for example was really cool, and did well in battle points - an example of how a themed army can succeed:
this one was VERY themed:

then you start to get into the ones that were obviously built to win:

5 10-man Khorne berserker units, and two Slaanesh Sorcerer Lords with Lash... pretty blatant! At least he had a 2CCW dreadnought... and the 'zerks were painted red...

Then you get to the creme-de-la-creme of fromage...

So this army won best painted - sweet... I thought the highlighting was rather rough, but it was still excellent. Let's look at the Composition...
Two Winged Daemon Princes with Lash of Submission
Two Vindicators
Two dreadnoughts, with Plasma Cannon and Missile Launcher
Two five man Noise Marine squads.
Five terminators in a Landraider
Defiler (Soul Grinder proxied)

This is a Slaanesh army? With 5 man units? Well at least he got the Lash in there.... and they are pink/purple...

Now we get to something that I find VERY offensive. Apparently the army above, was not the one the player used in his battles. He dropped the two dreadnoughts and slotted something else in. What that "something else" is has been debated; one would assume it was the same for all games...

[update; there is a picture on the GW Community website of the army in action, that shows a LOT more than 10 Noise Marines on the table! I also thought there was a ban on GW taking pictures of 40k/FB models with LotR parts on them...]

Really? Shouldn't you display the army you play? I think the rest of us did!

Friday, January 16, 2009

on the road

I'll shortly be heading down to Seattle, to what I hope will be the Renaissance of the Seattle GT. ConQuestNW is putting on the first event of the GW Independent Tournament Circuit 2009.
Seattle is near and dear to my heart for 40K gaming; almost 10 year ago to the weekend I attended my first (and it was Seattle's first too) GT there. The second event was the year of my triumph in the Painting category, the third year was the closest I've come to winning overall (loosing the final game put an end to that!). Looking forward to 5 games of fun 40K gaming, catching up with old friends and hopefully making a few new ones.
I'll blog my experience on my return Monday afternoon; wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

5e... ripples keep on going...

The 5th edition of 40K changed the game a lot.

I've been playing competitively since the birth of 3rd, and I can safely say that 5e is my favorite. I enjoy the mechanics, the pace, but most of all I enjoy the lack of "cheese". With an emphasis on troops being the "scoring" units in 5e there are a lot less terminator-spam armies out there, less uber-HQs, less min-maxing. All this is good. The down side is that this only really works when you play the lackluster GW scenarios from the book! Sure GW-Canada and GW USA (ie "GW-North America") have added some secondary mission objectives in, but you still need troops to "win"!

One of the best independent tournaments out there is Astronomi-Con. They have been running events for quite a few years now. Based out of Winnipeg, they have expanded to Toronto and Vancouver (with an ongoing desire to have one in Lenton). The part I enjoy about Astro' is the unique scenarios (I built a table for last year's Vancouver event). Each table has a unique objective, and many of these have special rules. Many Astro' scenarios do not require troops to "take" objectives". And here comes the ripple...
The Astro' organizers recently revamped their Composition chart.
In a past effort to head off the "cheese" of 3e/4e, and maintain the fun aspect of Astronomi-Con they built in a 20 point Composition score, with negative modifiers. Sure you could cheese-out, but you'd loose points for duplicates/triplicates, or maxing out a unit category. The worst list I saw on that scale would have been a -15! These composition score could be very important - most of the time Astro' winners take it my 1 or 2 points - often tie-breakers are needed to decide the winner! With 5e the organizers decided to take a long look at their system, both the scoring and the scenarios. Now the new chart is out and I'm not happy with some of the changes:
  • a 4th troop selection is a -1 modifier, 5th and 6th are -2 each
Huh? This a troops based 40K now - hopefully there will be a good balance of played games that does not "discriminate" against troop-light armies.
  • selections that fall outside their respective slots in the FOC don't get modifiers against them.
Chaos players of the world rejoice! Not only can you take twenty man squads, but you can take LARGE daemon squads that can be a sod to get off an objective and can also score - with no negative modifiers!
  • a second HQ is a -1 modifier.
makes sense - unless you are a Space Wolves player! Jeez, talk about "discrimination"! So I HAVE to take that 2nd HQ, my Codex tells me so, but I loose a composition point? What, you don't like Jervis?

So Astro' is going to change, I predict it will change a LOT; I think we will see less troops in a Space Marine Army (the option to Combat Squad will help them), more marine armies (!), and armies that will be a bit more "elite" than in past years; if you can't take an objective be sure-as-hell to be able to deny it to an enemy's troops! We will also see a "drop" in the composition scores - high (18+) have been the norm for many year. This drop will have advantages - first round match ups will be more balanced (based on composition), and the tie breakers may be easier too!

So will I be going to Astro-Vancouver 2009? Sure, abso-bloody-lutely!
Will I be changing my army list? Nope - I'll be there with 4 or 5 troops, as I always do; my current list is looking like a 17...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Victory in the City

Well after the farce of trying to put on the Cities of Death event for the gen-pop, Mighty Miniatures offered the event up to the members of A-Club. Last Friday night 8 of us battled it out in the City.
I took 1250 point of Space Wolves; the obligatory 6 Grey Hunters (blah!), 6 Wolf Scouts, a Venerable Dreadnought (TL-Las/ML), a Wolf Priest, 2 Land Speeders (HB/AC) and 3 units of Blood Claws.

Round 1 - High Ground (hold the tallest building). I drew Nick Daniels and his Ultramarines for this one. As I'd chosen Preliminary Bombardment and Tank traps I was able to a) corral his Razorbacks in his deployment zone, and b) stun a couple of them for the first turn. After that is was pretty straight forward; I took the tall building (intact!) on turn 2 with my GHs, the it was a matter of getting into HtH, weathering the heavy weapons and having my scouts lay the smack down on Telion and his scout unit!
Result - Space Wolves Victory!

Round 2 - "Take and Hold" (occupy buildings) vs. JP Silke and his Chaos Space Marine army. JP had a NASTY list with 2 Defilers, three units of Plague Marines, and small unit of CSM (all mounted in Rhinos) and a winged Daemon Prince. I goofed on my tanks traps and allowed a small space for him to deploy 2 of his rhinos... they dutifully drove up towards a building I was occupying, containing a BC unit with meltagun, and were popped and both units destroyed in HtH. I consolidated back into the building after each vehicle and unit was destroyed! In the end I held 2 buildings, JP 1 and one was contested.
Result - Space Wolves Victory!

Round 3 - Fire Sweep (plant flags in buildings) vs. Raj and his orks. Now, Raj has been playing for all of a week; he was gifted the orks from a few BBR box sets, so showed with 9 deffkoptas, about 80 boys and a unit of nobz in mega-armour. Ah, an ork on "ork" battle - lets face it Blood Claws are just better orks! Well Raj has some horrible DT rolls and I had some good luck with shooting his 'koptas down, making his nobs flee (I killed 2 with the preliminary bombardment), and destroying a few of his mobs with sweeping advances after winning combat. Knowing VERY little about the current orks I did not realize that he could Waaagh! (I thought you needed a special upgrade for that) - I think this would have made a huge difference in the game. In the end I lost 9 models and wiped him off the board (a first for me - sorry Raj!)., I held 3 of the 5 buildings, and Raj none.
Result - Space Wolves Victory!

So in the end I went 3-0, had the highest painting score and took Best Overall. Not that makes much difference for the Canadian Hall of Heroes, but I'm now sitting 37th... I doubt I'll make the GT!

Thanks to Nick, Thor and the A-Club guys for a fun evening.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Road to AdeptiCon - Part 1

As I've mentioned before I am attending (tickets paid for, flight purchased) AdeptiCon 2009 in Chicago this April. This is my first time there; whist I've been on the "GT" circuit for 10 seasons now, I've generally stuck with the GW run events. As more and more events are put on as "indys" (with GW support) I'm getting more confident that the caliber will be high. Highest of them all is AdeptiCon. Run by the Adeptus Windy City crew it has grown into an event of monstrous proportions - with THREE full days of tournament gaming, in three systems, including individual and team events. This time, as it is my first, I've signed up for Friday's Gladiator, Saturday's Team, and Sunday's Individual events. The Geeks (Trent, Rob, Eric and myself) will be teaming up with our "hybrid" composition of three Ordo's of the Inquisition vs. a 4-god Daemon army.

In the immortal words of the Joker... "So here we ... go"

I'm building the following:
1x Inquisitor Bolt Pistol (x1); Force Weapon (x1)
10x Adeptus Arbites
2x Rhino (Storm Bolter; Dozer Blade; Extra Armor; Searchlight; Smoke Launchers)
4x Penitent Engines
14x Sisters Repentia
1x Repentia Mistress
1x Priest with Eviscerator
6x Arco-Flagellants
10x Battle Sisters
1x Rhino
1x Palatine
4x Celestians
1x Immolator

Penitent Engines


Arbites and Inquisitor

Arco Flagellents and Sisters Repentia