Blob's Round 1 - Raven Guard vs Deathwing Battle Report

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Round 1 was against a pure Deathwing army led by Belial and Ezekiel. My opponent, Rob, was a pleasure to play against and our game was full of exciting twists and turns up to the very end. It was a great game to start the tournament with and probably the closest match I’ve ever had with my bike army! Deployment was Pitched battle with objectives as the primary mission. Rob won the roll off and decided to go first. We each place one objective, both ending up in ruins within our own deployment zones. Rob deployed everything except a lone squad of terminators which would come down on me turn one using Deathwing assault. I deploy everything into cover as best I can except for my HQ’s/Command squad and 2 bike squads who were outflanking.

The deep striking terminators land directly in front of my vindicators just outside of 1” range, avoiding a roll on the mishap table, but still within difficult terrain treated as dangerous terrain that ends up killing a model (maybe 2...) on the way in. The rest of his army advanced towards my side of the board while unleashing a devastating amount of cyclone missiles into my only 3 targets with armor values, rendering them all shaken/stunned and therefore useless. Unlike Nova terrain, there was very little if any blocking line of sight pieces on the board (the ruins/buildings you see in the pictures all have windows) so no where to hide! I didn't even get a chance to use (move OR shoot) my tanks until game 3 :-/

That's what vindicators do; they generate a huge amount of threat and soak up a lot of shooting which is still a good thing for my bike squads. But boy, it sure would have been nice to drop an AP2 pie plate or two onto those blobs of terminators though ;)

On my turn, I move my 2 bike squads out from behind the tanks to put some plasma, melta and everything else that could shoot into the looming terminators that are about to bring their hammers down on my demolisher cannons. Despite all those shots, 3++ storm shields are hard to eliminate. I brace for the inevitable turn 2 charge.

As you can see, one tank exploded and the other had its cannon destroyed in addition to being immobilized (read: both destroyed). I was able to finish off the remaining two terminators but the damage was already done. My bikes on the left started eating some krak shots this turn as well, but thankfully all the special guns held their ground. In the top left you can see the cavalry arriving with a turboboost from the left side.

But I was about to make a big mistake with them. On my next turn I misjudged their reach and fell short of launching my assault by a half inch. Fail. By the time I realized how close it was going to be it was already too late to break Khan away to use his special fleet move; then again I'm not sure him going into assault by himself with a squad of Deathwing would have been a great position to be in either.

On the other side of the board I brought on some reinforcements to start putting shots into the advancing terminator squad that contained Belial and Ezekiel, trying hard to defend my right side and the objective my scouts were sitting on. There was also a threat in the middle and I was down to just 2 bikes guarding that passage into my deployment zone.

My last bike squad zoomed on from the left edge, heading for the opposite side hoping to bail out my weakened squads.

After my command squad weathered the charging terminators, I pulled off a Hit & Run hoping to turn around my earlier error. I was also able to focus fire my remaining units on the more immediate threats to my objective and cleared out the center terminator squad and put more wounds into Belial's unit. By the end of turn 6 I had lost my entire command squad but was able to reclaim one of my secondary objectives (the last case of beer which was originally with Khan) with that last bike squad on the left. I also managed to take down Belial and the rest of the terminators with him, bringing the game down to a final assault with Ezekiel. I charge in with my few remaining bikes on my right side but couldn't take the librarian down. Tied on objectives, the game came down to victory points; I had 1327 to Rob's 1391. It doesn't get any better than that! I lost, but again it was a very enjoyable game. I was really happy with how my bikes worked together, and against an army of terminators, rapid fire plasma is amazing and really helped make up for my lack of ST 10 AP 2 large blast goodness. Great game, Rob!

Blob's Park Army List

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

There were some really awesome armies at Blob's last weekend, and as you'll soon see, all my opponents had some great looking armies. So much so, that it made me not want to enter another tournament again with only the minimum painting requirement met. On one hand, events like Nova and Blob's park really pushed me to get things assembled and painted, but there was certainly some last minute heroics involved that I'd rather not repeat for future events. I'd like to do the biker army justice and bring each up to a higher standard. I still fully intend to continue with my Dark Eldar, but as a lot of assembly is still required with them it should be easy to pick up my halfway completed bikes when I'm in the mood just for painting. Raven Guard is still an army that I wish to have on hand ready to play. DE will definitely require more in the way of tactics, and as I've learned from the last 2 tournaments, I still make too many crucial mistakes...either misjudging distance or forgetting to use a key ability until I'm unable to utilize it that turn. The DE will be much more unforgiving with their average toughness of 3.

At any rate, I should probably start off with discussing my Blob's list to give a little more context to each game. To start with, I thought this list played much better overall compared to my list for Nova (although my record would lead you to believe otherwise). The fact of the matter is I played much tougher lists at Blob's than I did at Nova, but overall I felt like this new list had more options which resulted in closer games. Here's what I had:

The big change was more bike squads which allowed for more special weapons and redundancy. I also retooled the command squad to be more close combat oriented since they were riding with Khan and would benefit from his Furious Charge and Hit & Run abilities, along with the Chaplain's re-rolls and fearless buffs. I'll be frank, the HQ section of my list kicked ass; among their casualties were Nob Bikers, an Ork Warboss on bike, Terminators, Abaddon, Kharn the Betrayer. But lets be real, for the amount of points my HQ section costs they should be taking big stuff down. The truth of the matter is, even with this type of "rock" unit it's still just as easy to make some really big mistakes. With so many eggs in one basket and such a large portion of my overall points invested in this one unit, when I did mess up with them it hurt big time; to the point where a mistake with them felt like it was costing me games. And that's really not surprising... when I don't make effective use of 665 pts, I leave myself in a situation with less than 3/4's of my army to take on opponents or to make up for my most powerful unit that didn't deliver with weaker portions of my army. It was cool to run a unit that was truly feared and when everything went according to plan could unleash some serious devastation, but not even halfway through my games was I wishing for more of those balanced bike squads.

Khan's outflanking ability was a nice tactic to have and at least 2 of my units took advantage of this in every game. There's certainly more chance involved with this route, but oddly enough I found myself wanting these squads to show up later in the game than they actually did. In all of my games, everything held in reserves came in by turn 3, and as chance would have it, sometimes it all came in on turn 2. But this randomness is something that Outflanking armies need to account for in every game and have a plan in mind for units showing up early and/or late -- you can't expect for them to arrive exactly when you need them to.

I'll start getting into my match ups in the next entry along with more lessons learned.

Blob's Park Highlights

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Battle at Blob's Park tournament has come and gone. It was a great event and I had a really good time! The venue was cool, the food and beer were really affordable, and more importantly the competition was high with some really awesome looking armies and great opponents. On top of all of that, the prizes that were awarded at the end were unbelievable -- we're talking almost entire armies for 1st and 2nd place overall. If only my army had performed better, I would have loved to take home all those new Dark Eldars... Anyway, it was a long but fun day and I definitely plan on writing up my thoughts on each game; I tried to get at least a few pictures from each round. But I'm tired, so for now I'll leave you with a few shots from walking around before the tournament started.

Here's some of the armies that were present:

My buddy Alex's awesome Crimson Fists

The terrain was some serious business... I don't even have one of these in my army yet

Nice freehand work

Some fantasy

Eric's army from over at the White Scar's blog

Incredible looking Imperial Fists army

Last and probably least, here's my army:

The Inner Circle gaming group put on an awesome event and fun was had by all. I've got a lot more pictures to share and 4 more battle reports to discuss so stay tuned.

Let Merriment Abound

Monday, September 19, 2011

One of my favorite things to attend each year is the Renaissance Festival. For me, it marks the transition from summer into fall and it's always a good time! We ended up making it out yesterday for the first time this season; we'll hopefully get out there again but things are starting to get down to the wire with the birth of our first born fast approaching :)

Here's some pictures from the faire and quick shot of the new bike models at the end:

The weather was perfect.

Good people.

Good food.

Good beer.

Cool weapons.

Good sport. And of course...


And for a quick gaming related update, here's a WIP shot of my new counts-as Khan model and one of the new command squad vets w/ dual lightning claws:

More on these guys to come.

A breath of fresh air

Saturday, September 17, 2011

We're one week away from the Battle at Blob's Park tournament, and I can't wait! For starters, I absolutely love the fall; it's by far my favorite season. Crisp clean air, hoodies, most of the annoying bugs (mosquitos) die, the Renaissance Festival, good beer... the list goes on! Anyway, I'm hoping for some great weather next saturday at the event that features some tasty bbq, several kegs, and 100 of the top local gamers around, and that's just for the 40k event. The competition around here is quite high as this area, up until recently, was the main headquarters for GW in the US. Many in the local gaming club have repeatedly claimed the top prize at some of the biggest GTs in the country, so I'm expecting some really tough but awesome matches next week.

Even though many are some of the top competitive players, they are a really great group of people who haven't lost sight of the other ways in which people enjoy the hobby, and are extremely friendly and helpful to play with. I especially appreciate this as I've been out of the gaming side of things for quite awhile now; Nova was my first big step back into playing, and it was a great one! It's unfortunate to read some of the bigger blogs out there where the super competitive just come off like douchebags who think they are god's gift to gaming. It's sad to see some push this agenda / narrow view that everything in the hobby must be reduced to some formulaic, copy/paste, net-list BS in order to be taken seriously or avoid public ridicule. It's cool if this is how you choose to play the game, just understand, like most things in life, there's more than one way to approach it.

Battle at Blob's Park

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I just registered for my next tournament, the Battle at Blob's Park, which takes place in just 2 weeks. I'm making some changes to my 2000 pt list based on my games at Nova. My next box of bikes arrived today and my Thunderfire Cannon should get here on Monday. In my next few games, I'd like to try out a few new units I've never used before and see how they perform with the rest of the army on bikes. I needed a few more to reach 2 full sized bike squads and I also wanted a few to try different weapon load outs in the command squad, so it's back to building more bikes. Haven't decided exactly on how to equip the new command squad, but with Khan leading them, I'm leaning towards lightning claws and storm shields. Luckily, I remembered to check the Nova swag bag and found a sample of magnets that will be perfect to incorporate into these next models in case I need to change things up down the road.

I also picked up some supplies this week to start on a display board for my Raven Guard. I'll definitely take some shots of this project along the way -- not sure it'll be finished in the next two weeks as I've already got a healthy list of to-do's, but we'll see what I can get done in that time

NOVA 2011: Final Thoughts

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Closing out my thoughts on last weekend's event, I can't emphasize enough how great of an experience the NOVA Open was. You'll see a lot of different views and opinions on the Internet but just keep in mind that people tend to complain more about the things they weren't expecting or didn't like over acknowledging the aspects of the event that were done really well. This is the biggest thing I've noticed on the web over the past week. To all the NOVA staff who volunteered their time and effort to make the tournament a huge success, you did a phenomenal job. Everyone who was actually in attendance can attest that the event as a whole was a positive experience and the good far outweighed the bad.

No event of this size with so many people is going to go off without some hiccups in the schedule. 8 games is a lot to fit in with only 2 days for the main event. It would be great if it could be held over 3 days but I'm afraid that might make it harder for that many people to attend due to work schedules and real life. My only other suggestion for future events is to select a more reasonable hotel/venue -- the Hyatt was expensive for what you got in my opinion, and they lacked any affordable food options that could be utilized in the short amount of time between rounds.

The only other thing that caught me off guard and that I hope is changed/clarified for next time is the ruling on combat squadding from reserves. This isn't so much NOVA's fault as it is GW's poorly worded FAQ and their lack of defining "deployment" in the rules. The NOVA FAQ disallowed any combat squadding from reserves (unless from a drop pod) by citing the GW FAQ. There's a couple things I'd like to point out in regards to this decision.
GW's FAQ is answering a specific question about a 10-man squad that selects a drop pod as its dedicated transport.
Q: Can you take a Drop Pod with a 10-man squad and
then put a combat squad in it, deploying the other
combat squad on the table, or leave it in reserve but
not in the Drop Pod? (p69)
A: No, because squads that are placed in reserve may
not break down into combat squads.
We know that the squad can split into combat squads after they disembark from the pod, per pg. 51 in C:SM. On the same page under Combat Squads, it states that this decision "must be made when the unit is deployed". This brings us back to the lack of definition on what it means for a unit to be "deployed". Can a unit be deployed into reserves? Or are they only considered "deployed" after they are on the table? My thinking is the latter scenario, which seems to follow GW's logic in the codex as well as the question posed in the FAQ. The squad can't be split into combat squads while in reserves because they are not yet deployed on the table. Once deployed on the table, they are allowed to do so.

I didn't want to tangent into a rules dispute, so let me bring it back to why this lack of clarity affects my army. I have a full sized bike squad that is allowed to be split into combat squads. Say I want to combat squad them but also leave my bikes in reserves; do I have to split them somehow before they are technically placed in reserves and thus become 2 separate rolls from reserves? It's confusing because the ruling above seems to say that squads can't be split while in reserves, only when they deploy or arrive on the table. I would think that my bike squad could be split into combat squads when it deploys on the board / arrives from reserves. Until GW clears this up, I can't make use of combat squads if I reserve or outflank if I take Khan without running into rules issues, which really takes away from the effectiveness of my bike squads and limits their options.

Aside from this deployment confusion, I really enjoyed how my bikes performed on the table. They gave me flexibility in reacting to my opponents' moves, allowed me to be aggressive when I needed to be, and double tapping twin-linked bolters is the most fun you'll ever have with the standard issued Space Marine weapon. Unlike some outspoken bloggers, you wont see me complaining about the Terrain at NOVA, even with the majority of my army treating all difficult as dangerous terrain. In my experience most places don't have enough terrain on their boards, so it was nice to see NOVA abiding by the established rules of at least 25% and some LOS blocking terrain on the board. It's called generalship people; some situations/missions call for taking risks, especially when you don't plan for all scenarios and all-comers lists...exactly the environment a tournament aims to provide. I paid for siege shield upgrades on my Vindicators, and you better believe it was worth every point! I'm tired of reading about people whining that they lost because the terrain wasn't best suited for their army or that they would have won if their dice rolls would have been better. Give me a break! Anyone and everyone could make these statements (read: excuses) but thankfully not everyone is a moron.

This post isn't intended to be a bitch-fest. So let me say it again, I truly had an awesome time at the NOVA Open! I met some great people, saw some fantastic armies, and learned more about my army and 40k in a weekend than I have in the last couple of years combined. Thanks again to MVB and staff for organizing this thing. I can't wait till next year's Open!

**Note to self: Never use the digital zoom on the flip cam. I also need to remember to bring a tripod to reduce the shakiness; I apologize if watching this video causes any seizures. You've been warned!

***Also, I just realized I uploaded the wrong video; I'm in the process of uploading the correct one now and will post it as soon as it's ready (it's much longer so it's taking awhile). In the mean time, check out the Skaven Dark Eldar army and display at the end of this video; probably the most impressive thing I saw the entire weekend!

NOVA 2011: Summary Part 3

By Sunday, I think everyone was feeling exhausted. Of course staying up till 3am the night before playing Malifaux wasn't helping my sleep index, but there's no better time to go all out than when you have 300+ gamers hold up in a hotel in the middle of a hurricane. Anyway, on to the last 4 games of the Open:

Game 5 - Space Marines
Another Vulcan led army but I wouldn't call them Salamanders since they were mostly purple... He also had a Land Raider w/ Assault terminators, 3 Predators, 3 Speeders, and a handful of Razorbacks.
He won the roll off and opted to go first. The primary objective was Table Quarters followed by Kill Points then Objectives. Based on the amount of KP's his army had vs mine, I was feeling pretty good about this match. Nevertheless, he had a lot of long range guns and I couldn't risk getting my bikes whittled down too early. He deployed aggressively leaving very little space for me to hide my bikes from first turn shooting. I decided to reserve my command squad but this time I split the Chaplain off to go with my smaller 6 man bike squad to ensure that they wouldn't flee off the table before my reinforcements showed up. This turned out to be a really good decision.

NOVA 2011: Summary Part 2

Friday, September 2, 2011

On to the summary of games beginning Saturday. I’ll briefly touch on the big stuff in my opponent’s lists but I wont be posting full army lists as those belong to the authors and it’s up to them if they would like to post them (you can view my list here).

Game 1 - Salamanders
Vulcan; 2x Land Raiders each transporting a squad of assault terminators.
This army was beautiful! (see the image above) I’m sure anyone who attended saw this army on display and drooled over it like I did, haha. Robert, who painted this masterpiece of an army, was an excellent opponent and an awesome guy in general. He was already a winner before our game even started as it was him and his team who won the DC Bar Crawl the night/early morning before. Anyway, 2 LR’s are scary and hard as hell to get rid of! It took a lot of shots, but I was finally able to crack one of them with a demolisher shell. This game felt like an uphill battle from the get go with the raiders and termies keeping the pressure on. I managed to get some VP’s but I just couldn’t overcome this army. Loss.

Game 2 – Black Templars
EC; 10 terminators; 3 Predators; 3 Typhoons; 4 Lasbacks.
Going into the second game, I knew I needed to stay focused on the primary mission for the round, something I didn’t do so well with the 1st game. I also knew I needed to neutralize those Typhoons and Cyclone ML terminators, something I learned from my practice games with John leading up to NOVA. The primary goal for this round was Table Quarters, followed by Objectives then Kill Points. My vindicators scored some devastating hits this match and my IC dread tied up his left flank for most of the game, which freed up my bikes to get to where they needed to. My opponent Bob, aka Marshal Laeroth from around the Internet, is a great guy and we had a really fun game! We grabbed some lunch after the match and discussed lists/tactics as hurricane Irene was bearing down on the area. We wanted to get a second game in as the first one was close and our armies seemed to match up well (we were drawn on the first two mission goals and had to go to KPs where my army does well as it doesn’t offer many). Unfortunately the schedule for the weekend was already rigorous and there just wasn’t any extra time to fit an additional game in. Bob was a pleasure to play against and I look forward to rolling dice with him again the next time our paths cross! Win.

Game 3 – Black Templars
EC; Marshal; Assault terminators in a Land Raider, 4 Crusader squads, 2 Rhinos, 2 Predators, and a beefy Assault squad.
This was a very different game from the one before. For starters, this Templar list was much more close-combat oriented (the 1st one was gunline) and the deployment was Dawn of War. I’ll admit, I haven’t played a single night-fighting match in 5th, which clearly showed as I forgot about my searchlights and Telion’s Acute Sense rule. Woops! But no better way to learn than in a game like this. Erik was a great opponent and really helpful in explaining how his army worked and things that I should think about with mine. He was a much better general than me and was flawless in his tactics and execution with his army. I made some mistakes and got too close with my bikes. This match really showed me that I need to tighten up my game and give some serious thought to when I should hold units in reserve and when it’s ok for my squads to charge in for the kill. Loss.

Game 4 – Grey Knights
Inquisitor w/ rad grenades; lots of grey knights and purifiers; 3 Razorbacks, 3 Rhinos, and the dreaded 3 psyflemen dreadnoughts.
In a word to sum up this match: ouch! I was worried about facing Grey Knights before the tournament as I’ve heard all the horror stories and have seen some of the mathhammer they can achieve. But then I thought, I’ve got enough plasma and 2 demolishers to deal with their Paladins/terminators… only this list didn’t have any :-/
Sooo many psycannons and psybolts that anything I had in LOS of his guns was forced to make handful after handful of saves (even a good cover save isn’t safe against that much dice). I really didn’t know what to do against this army. My opponent, Rick, was really cool about it and gave me a lot of things to think about when facing GKs. Then we ended up talking about Malifaux the rest of the time, which I’m just getting into. Major loss.

That's it for the first day of the GT. Day two and the last 4 games will be up tomorrow.

NOVA 2011: Summary Part 1

Here’s the first part from my summary of experiences from last weekend at the NOVA Open 2011. I arrived Thursday evening since I work near DC and wanted to catch some of the Whiskey Challenge games that started at 6. After walking around a little I asked about Open gaming and when that would start – I figured I would try to get a game in later that evening for more practice since I had only managed to play a handful of games in the 2 weeks leading up to NOVA.

A few minutes later I get approached by some really nice staff asking me if I could fill a vacant slot in the Whiskey Challenge due to a no-show. The initial prospect of this made my stomach turn as I tried to make it clear that I am no 40k heavyweight (or middleweight even) and I thought the Challenge was for all the best tournament players or big names in 40k to duke it out amongst a smaller/elite pool of players. I didn’t want to be the baby seal giving someone an easy win and fudging the results, lol. But by that logic, having an odd number of players would achieve just that, forcing a by for the player without an opponent. After confirming that there was no one else who could fill the spot (and making sure I wasn’t going up against Stelek, haha), I agree and head up to my room to retrieve my army. Still nervous as I approach the game hall with my gear, I notice someone else rushing along with a huge army transport case behind them. I stop them and ask if they are there for the Whiskey Challenge and sure enough they were, just running late. Crisis averted! And by crisis, I mean avoiding getting demoralized in the first hour of my first game at the NOVA ;)