Thursday, April 24, 2014

4/19 Game Preserve Bloomington Tournament Report

Good day readers, and welcome to another exciting chapter in my exciting battles on the tournament scene. This past weekend, I made the monthly pilgrimage through beautiful Brown County to arrive at the Game Preserve in Bloomington, bringing two in tow for their inaugural event at the venue. Hit the break to see how things went.

First things first, when I walked in, the place was packed with a whopping 17 attendees! That's the most people I've seen there in some time, such that we had to spill over into the other game room across the hall. That said, it's a great place to play, with tons of terrain and tables, so even though things ended up a little bit more sparse than usual in terms of terrain saturation, there was still plenty to go around. Likewise, this was the last event headed by our own Son of Hours before he'll be opening his own store in Greencastle come August, but he's left future events in very capable hands. After months and months of events at this location fielding my marines (whom I've still yet to completely settle on a list for), I decided to bring out my Necrons again. The list is the same as I posed from my last writeup, so, without further ado, into my first round!

Round One - vs TauDar
Round one saw me paired against the same opponent I faced in the final round of the Triathalon event. That tournament saw me nose ahead by a single victory point when my 70 marines had a rough encounter with his two riptides, daemon prince, and heldrake. This time around, he had swapped out the chaos for a splash of Eldar, bringing the whole of his list to a cadre (his warlord), two twelve man fire warrior teams, a ten man pathfinder team, two riptides with ion accelerators and FnP, one of which had interceptor, the other had skyfire. There was an aegis with quad gun, and his Eldar amounted to a Spiritseer with Scytheguard in a wave serpent, nine man squad of jetbikes, plus a Wraithknight with Suncannon and scatter laser. We were deploying on the long board edges, and there were three objectives, one in his zone, one in mine, and one in right about the center of the table, meaning that we basically ended up only ever playing on that half of the table.

Immediately, I was unnerved. I had seen how well my army fared against T8 models, and having to cope with two riptides at the same time was going to be a tricky prospect. That said, his army was light on the durability of his scoring choices, which gave me hope for holding at least two objectives, both the center one, as well as the one in my zone. And then he seized the initiative on me. His opening salvo netted him first blood off one of my arks, and saw him scythe through half of my scarabs. One of his squads of fire warriors started to push for the point at midfield, but his serpent hung back, likely hoping to push back against my wraiths when they came in against him. On my turn, I sent my barge to counter the push from the fire warriors, while my scarabs and wraiths made for his "castle". I knew that their charge would likely end up suicidal, and result in conceding slay the warlord, but I had to buy fire away from the troops in my deployment zone, and create an opening to push back against his advance on midfield.

His turn two saw his jetbikes come on, the end of my scarabs and half my wraiths, as well as further thinning of the numbers of my warrior squad that got knocked out on first turn. On my turn, one of my two scythes came on, dumping the immortals where they could hold my objective, and fend off his jetbikes. Regrettably, their ride got intercepted by the quad gun, but I still had two other troops, one in reserves, the other pushing toward his fire warriors, while skirting the assault range of his wraithknight. The barge made its assault against the fire warriors, slaying enough of them to break them, leaving 4 to flee to his deployment zone. Likewise, my wraiths and destoryer lord were able to catch his riptide and other fire warrior team in assault, forcing them off the table and netting me slay the warlord.

He proceeded to immediately disembark his scythe guard, killing my warlord and leaving me with a single wraith left standing. His formerly midfield fire warriors regrouped, and resumed holding that point when his knight opted to assail my barge. His remaining few jetbikes continued to try to knock down my warriors, but to no avail. My turn saw my remaining scythe still fail to come in, meaning it would be a battle against time to make it to fourth turn, where they could desperately try to hold the central objective. I polished off the jetbikes, and my lone wraith was able to make it into assault with his remaining riptide, where it won combat and swept its foe. My former barge lord continued to hold his ground heroically and valiantly against the knight, as my second ark made for the middle point as well.

Turn four was to be our last, and saw him slay my remaining wraith, locking me out of linebreaker, but little else of note transpired, beyond his scythe guard regaining control of his home base. My last turn saw the destruction of his fire warriors as my immortals swooped in to grab the objective, netting me a 2-1 win on time more than anything. I was out of solutions to his knight.

Round Two - vs Bikes - Scars w/ Dark Angels
My second round saw me paired against The Grave Mind, who was packing some white scars with allied Dark Angels. He's always been a strong opponent, and we spend as much time laughing and enjoying the game as we do talking about plays we could have made differently. His list brought a chapter master with the usual trappings of power fist and TSE, three maximum count bike squads, each with multimelta, two with dual plasma, one with dual grav. There was a squadron of two typhoon speeders, and a stormtalon, as well as two drop pods, one white scars with melta combi-melta, one dark angel with plasma combi-plasma. We deployed on short board edges, and kill points were what we were after. He had first turn.

Knowing my usual nefarious schemes, he chose to keep his distance on the first turn, opting to keep most of his units about 22" away from me. Except his melta drop pod. That came in and tried to snag first blood off one of my ghost arks. It succeeded in causing a penetrating hit, and destroying one of my flayer arrays, but that was the extent of it. This unfortunately meant that his plan had backfired, surrendering first blood to me as my assault forces collapsed on the squad and the pod alike. Netting me two kill points and first blood. Second turn he shot one ark and destroyed it, doing the same to the other in assault. His plasma pod came in and failed to scour my scarabs from cover, meaning that the scarabs, as well as the barge, would close on that squad and their pod on my second turn. By far his most successful move on turn two was getting the charge against my wraiths. He left one standing, preventing my shooting, and scoring him a kill point and slay the warlord.

My second turn saw me knock down his stormtalon, and position my immortals to claim linebreaker on the next turn. I fired what was available to me against his bikes, picking off a few here and there while my warriors tried to position themselves in places where they could hope to be bailed out by other squads when the charge invariably came. His turn three put my warriors in close combat with his bikes, where my dice continued to overperform, and his did just the opposite. Across the last game turn, I knocked down his speeders, claimed linebreaker (as did he) and killed off another bike squad, ending with the score 7 kill points to 2, with two secondaries each. He and I chatted that in hindsight, his first turn had been too cautious, and he should have oversaturated threats against me by turbo boosting on his first turn. It might have given me a devastating first turn combined charge against his three bike squads, but I wouldn't be able to sweep them, and they had hit and run, making it likely that he'd be able to hop out, shoot me, and then charge again. More than anything though, he got done in by poor dice, which is always disappointing. He only netted about a 50% success rate on saves.

Round Three - vs Iyanden
The third round saw me pitted against another longtime friend, UltimateDave469. This was his first time on the tournament scene ever in 40k, and the event was all the more important to him as it was his first time playing 40k since selling his Black Legion after graduating. He got the models together for the army in right around two months, and is really working on powering though painting (much more than yours truly anyway). His list was strong, yet fluffy, clocking in with a suncannon scatter laser Wraithknight as his warlord, three spiritseers, one of which had the renewal stone. Each seer was partying with a different unit of wraith things, one of axe blades, one of cannon guard, and one of scythe guard. These were each in the "usual" wave serpent with holo fields, scatter lasers, and shuriken cannons. Rounding out the list was a fire prism with holo fields, and a unit of 5 dire avengers in a wave serpent, kitted as the above, but with a swap of twin linked bright lance instead of the scatter laser. Durable scoring footprint, nigh invincible warlord, and plenty of firepower at each range and potency band. Our mission was the relic, and he deployed first on diagonal deployment, keeping his fire prism and dire avengers in reserve. I seized his initiative, and the story gets worse from there.

I got hot run rolls as my assault force pushed toward him, wraiths screening for scarabs, scarabs digging into ruins, and the barge behind that, carefully making sure that I was out of reasonable assault range for his Knight. Meanwhile, one of my arks dumped its contents onto the relic, with the other moving to screen against his reserves, and claim the relic themselves, should the worst happen. The big thing I was pushing for here was to bait the knights fire to the squad on the relic. They were clustered, but in cover. Firing on them would help him dislodge my objective carriers, but would keep him from firing at my assault threats, which were going to need to tie up his three scoring wraith units.

On his turn, he fired his serpents into my assault force, causing minimal damage. His knight took the bait and fired on my warriors, forcing them to ground, where they passed a whopping 13 out of 15 cover saves forced on them, only to have the two models who failed, stand back up on reanimation protocols. This lead to me assaulting his three serpents on my turn, while my scythes peppered his Knight, pulling off just a wound or two. From there, things devolved into various assaults in his deployment zone as my warriors got back in their ark and tried to play keep away against his bright lance serpent. The game ended with only his knight standing, and my still having control of the relic.

Summary - Meta Analysis
The tournament was telling about things on a few fronts, the first of which was that approximately a quarter of the armies present included Coteaz. We've chatted about him before on here and it's not really a surprise to see him. He's something between a crutch and stopgap measure for many of the imperial armies in the game right now, affording you seize manipulation, two dice against the divination table, and deep strike protection. Add to that the fact that he brings along dirt cheap troops and it's easy to see why he's so appealing, even to the point of being appallingly so. I'll admit that in the wake of this, I'll be experimenting with him more in an effort to make my Marines shine a little brighter, but in many ways it feels like surrendering to the meta, which is definitely disappointing at a personal level. The second is that more than a third of armies present featured one or more "knight-class" models (Riptide, Wraithknight, Imperial Knight Titan), with 4 of them featuring a whopping 3 such models. Two players were running knight primaries. While parts of me are excited to see this, I won't lie and say I'm not at least a little bit worried about the issue, given that these models have redefined the nature of an elite army, and can be somewhere between obnoxious and boring to play against in they they ask your army "Did you bring X to cope with me? No? Good game." Obviously the solution is not as black and white as that, given that my army was able to work past the issue, but the problem persists. I know that I as a player, and as a T.O. am looking to do some work with "sideboard" events, but that's a post for another time.

On the heels of that data, comes the results from Adepticon. It happened before the new IG release, but it still provides us significant statistical data, and an opportunity to view the metagame through a national lens. We're two years into 6th, and about a year past the release of Eldar, so, how did things shake out? The biggest two things to me is that we're seeing a much more balanced Codex distribution, with Space Marines accounting for right around a quarter of all armies played. Not only that, but only about half of all armies present included allies. That's big to see. Where a year ago Tau and/or Eldar ran the scene, this year saw many more codices decide to "go it alone". Even Tyranids made a relevant showing in terms of volume of players. To me, that indicates that the kinks and imbalances are slowly being worked out in terms of imbalance, which is exciting to see. But at the end of the day, what is disappointing to see is that the winning list, a flying circus of Daemons and allied CSM, spent a paltry 230 points on bringing a piddly 30 scoring models to the table. I've heard that this was due to the ability to win on KPs in most every round, but that misses the bigger issue that 6th edition has missed its mark, badly.

What do I mean by this? 6th Edition tried to re-balance and refocus the game onto objectives, and the infantry that claim them. Gone are the days of sitting in a metal box and saying "I parked here, this is mine." As part of the initiative to push this mentality (and to sell models), infantry prices were slashed across the board. The problem here is that we have new and even more devastating methods of scouring that infantry from the table, meaning that people are bringing about the same volume or quality of troops as last edition, but with the notable exception that they have now saved a slew of points to spend on killy options, rather than scoring choices. And that's disheartening, especially when it feels like now, more than ever, infantry struggle to defend themselves, especially against the things designed to kill them, be it flyers, monstrous creatures, or Imperial Knights. There's also the consideration that GW seems to be on "tilt" where cover is concerned, allowing it to be ignored more easily and on a broader scale than ever before just an edition after the universal 4+.

How do we solve this problem? That's where things get tricky. My limited experience with Fantasy suggests utilizing percentages for force composition, rather than a force organization chart which is being ever eschewed in the interests of sales and narratives. The issue here is that, as heretic showed us, GW lacks a solid definition for what 1 point is worth, exacerbating the inequalities in returns on investment for the compulsory troop percentage. If we were to use fantasy's percentage system, at 2000 points, each army has to bring 500 points of troops at minimum. Everyone should be able to identify that 500 points of tactical marines, transports or no, is infinitely more capable than 500 points of just about any other troop in the game, give or take dedicated transports. I'm all about making marines more relevant, but not at the cost of exacerbating current issues, under the notion that many armies are low on answers to a Land Raider.

Maybe I'm looking too hard for a solution, but I enjoy the game too much to give up on the only form of balance being social contract.

Summary - Debrief
The day saw me walking away 3-0 and taking second. I used my prize support to pick up one of the store's new Gundam models (been 5 years since I built my last and 10 since I bought one stateside). And it was my choice of prize support that brought the day full circle for me. I've been talking about it on here and in other places for some amount of time, but I'm just bored with 40k. I haven't found "that list" that really gets me jazzed with Marines, and my one Necron list is still the same list and its been playing the same way for 2 years at this point. No disrespect to my first round opponent, as he's a great guy, skilled tactician, and fun to play against, but when I saw three big models sat down (not unlike my last game against him), I had this horrible train of thought that went in two terrible directions at once, the first "Oh look, three big models that are immune to consequence and the rules of the game, woo" (/sarcasm), the second was "Even if I roll enough dice, I'm not ignoring enough rules to win." And the conclusion both of these thoughts brought me to is "I'm bored."

Obviously all of these are incredibly rude when one considers that I took second and lost none of my games, so obviously anything I say from here on out needs to be taken with a massive amount of salt. Unfortunately my weekly Escalation League games with my WIP Thousand Sons army aren't doing anything to fend off this boredom, and though I'm excited to get into Fantasy, I'm under no delusions that it will scratch my itch for long. Likewise, another army project in 40k is going to be degenerate, both monetarily (I've got 10k of marines, 4k of necrons, and 2k of TSons, I neither need nor have room for more stuff) and in terms of game play, either for myself or my opponents (Tyranids or Tzeentch Daemons). Of course there's thought of the obligatory "dabble in guard, you're a marine" or any number of similar thoughts circling, but they don't do much to get away from the Warhammer core rules block.

I've heard cries of "play WM/H" but even though I'm at least mildly interested in the rules (only mildly because I really do enjoy go more than chess), I'm also fascinated by the worst faction by far (Cygnar), as well as almost completely put off by the models, both the steampunk aesthetic, as well as the actual sculpts and medium themselves, never mind my issues with PP over canceling Monsterpocalypse. There's a few guys in the shop who have Dropzone Commander, and I plan to see it played at some point, but until then, I can't validate it as an option. I won't return to constructed format Magic. So, I'm still feeling fairly stuck in my hobbyists pursuits.

So, here I sit, and the game with me. Anyone else got the blues?


  1. Well, that's sad to hear. Wish I could be around to shake up that meta with some funky grots shenanigans, or at least provide a laugh.

    In lieu of that though, have you considered Infinity? Finding opponents will be an issue, but the models are very pretty, and bodycount for a full army is less than minimal, compared to anything but Gray Knights.

  2. I've never sat down to Infinity, but I've heard it discussed at various points. Big issue with the system is having enough cover and that leaving said cover means death. Doesn't sound like a super radical departure from 40k in that way. :P Past that, I'm "meh" on their models. Some aspects of the cyberpunk aesthetic are nice, others (like their handling of females in art and model) are less nice. And all of that goes a long way past your point of finding someone to play against. There's nobody here playing it, where at least a few people own WM/H.

  3. Good write-up. The current situation has driven me away from the tournament scene until it gets cleaned up. I can identify with nearly everything you wrote. The only 40k thing that interests me at this point is taking a "forlorn hope" army - the stuff of legends should Jesus Himself bless my dice, and I somehow prevail against the power lists like you mentioned. Still - against stiff odds you did very well, so there is that. I, too, am returning to fantasy and dusted off my orcs . I have also been contemplating getting back into Flames of War - the popular 15mm WWII miniatures game. I was going to run a demo at the cave soon - early war brits vs germans. Would that interest you Jacob?

  4. 40K tournies really have to manipulate the missions and I wish some of the rules so you see true variety across the same codex. Dual missions helps a lot with enjoyment, it would be nice to limit to one force org amognst allies but really in the end I would like to see USR's not handed out like candy and then passed on to battle brothers.

    But I have been playing new concepts to me built on a different type then before so my enjoyment is learning the stress points of playing 2 5th edition codexes together. Because in those the purely right choices aren't really there. Whereas in 6th they really and truly are decided for you by the codex writers.

    To me 5th edition codexes kick the balls in on 6th edition ones any day of the week for playability and fun.

  5. True about cover, but there's all of one faction with an Ignores Cover gambit in Infinity, and that is hard-countered by any semi-decent hacker many armies take anyway.

    The models are a taste aspect, and admittedly the cheesecake varies from nonexistant to outrageous. Although considering Slaanesh and daemonettes are things, I'm not sure 40k can talk.

    Also, I have a sneaking suspicion there's a beardy man who plays Infinity in your area, or at least has some models though.

  6. Even if we discount the ability to ignore it, I'm not sure how interested I am then in 5th edition. I'll talk to the man of whom you speak about it though.

    40k's daemonettes have actually gone a long way to being family friendly (no more nips) and are generally speaking designed to be horrifying succubi, rather than seductive succubi. I don't think they're all that cheesecake, but could see where that perception would come from.

  7. I'll see about hitting you up to run a demo. I'm not the biggest WWII buff (Alex is though) but if nothing else, I'd like to see the system myself for what it does right and wrong. I play a round of demo WM/H once a year, so missing out on FoW feels silly.

  8. Say what you will about Ward and his issues for power creep, but yes, it would seem that his codices had far less overt "loser" and "winner" units than Cruddace and Kelly. Ever looked at the internal balance in Space Wolves?

    We're playing with a few tournament ideas, such as "sideboard" events and maybe even going to a "two book" format, but for the most part, I haven't seen an army using more than 2 books, so there's that with a grain of salt.

    Past that, you hit on a big issue. We have even more USRs in the BRB. And not only do more units have them, but likewise, more units are ignoring them and books are having their own special rules. See supporting fire, and what amounts to the Battlesuit unit type in Tau, or Battle Focus in Eldar, or Daemons in general. This goes way beyond what allies share. And then there's the sharing of blessings, namely Prescience. Three armies lack access to it. Necrons, Orks, and Tyranids. One of these books got "updated". I wonder what it will mean for the other two.

  9. I'd also encourage you to give infinity a go really is the most fun I've had at a table top in years you do need a lot of terrain but it's really easy to knock out cheap terrain that looks great out of old coffee cans chocolate tins old deodorant bottles etc as long as it blocks los and it's a game that rewards skill on the tabletop rather than list building