Monthly Archives: August 2011

What’s Next?

Now that I’ve knocked out my 2,500 points worth of Skaven… I’ve had to sit down and figure out what to work on next.

Fortunately, I’ve got two tournaments in September, which makes some decisions for me.
In about a week and a half, we’re having a small 40K tournament at GPC.  I’ll be rocking the Daemons, of course, but realized I’ve only finished painting one octet of Blood Horrors… so I need to wrap up the other octet before next Saturday.  Fortunately, they’re half painted: I just need to highlight the flesh and go from there.
At the end of the month, I’m going to Blob’s Park.  The damn thing is 2,800 points, which means I need to paint another 300 points of Skaven by the end of the month.  That’s poop.  The path of least resistance is, I think, to run a second Warp Lightning Cannon (since I have it painted), beef out my Stormvermin (since I need to get up to 700 points of Core… and they’re painted), and paint up 6 Globadiers and another Warmachine (I’m thinking Doomflayers, just for the heck of it).  
That should get me through to October.  After that, it’s tough to say.  Necrons should be on the horizon, and I’m hungry for them.  I’m eagerly awaiting an a-tier army to buy into and play.  I’m also still worked up about a Nordland Empire army, but that’s a large enough effort to keep me from hitting the Necrons when they come out.  Also, it’d be sooo easy to knock out an Ogres army just for something different.
Fortunately, I’ve got until the end of the month to figure out what I’m going to do.

NoVA Blow-by-Blow

The Fantasy tournament was three rounds on Saturday, two rounds on Sunday.

I showed up on Friday to check in with two different lists printed out: one without Power Scroll (as it had been previously banned) and one with it (as it has been re-allowed shortly after it was FAQ’d). I decided, as I checked in, to use the one without Power Scroll.  I think that was probably the right move (and my performance backs that up).

Ratputin Rampages!

Grey Seer – Ruin x2, Plague x2 Talisman of Preservation
Warlord – General, War-Litter, Sword of Anti-Heroes, Enchanted Shield

Chieftain – BSB, Shield, Armor of Destiny
Plague Priest – Lvl 1, Plague Furnace, Dispel Scroll, Talisman of Protection
Warlock Engineer – Doomrocket

Clanrats x29 – Full Command, Shields
– Poisoned Wind Mortar
Skavenslaves x51 – Musician, Shields
Stormvermin x20 – Full Command, Storm Banner
– Poisoned Wind Mortar

Plague Monks x31 – Full Command, Plague Banner
Gutter Runners x6 – Poison, Slings
Gutter Runners x6 – Poison, Slings

Hell Pit Abomination
Warp-Lightning Cannon

Of course, it wasn’t until Game 1 that I realized I’d left the Sword of Anti-Heroes on the Warlord.  I’ve been dissatisfied with it (because he’s never in base with an enemy hero!), and had thought I’d replaced it with a simple, always-on Sword of Might… but not so.  Fortunately, I think it ended up actually making a difference in my 4th game, so I can’t complain.

Spell-wise, I didn’t rely on 13th nearly as much as I normally do: thanks to Power Scroll’s absence.  I think this actually made my game better.  It did really help out a lot in one case (hello, Grimgor), but otherwise, the few times I got it off, it didn’t do a whole lot.  That also meant that I miscast all of once all weekend.  The only spell that stood out was, when I rolled it, Wither.  That thing made a huge difference.

The Seer continued going the Slave unit: I need to break that habit so I can become more aggressive with them.  The Warlock Engineer continued going in the Clanrat unit (though, in the last game, I put him in the Plague Monk unit.. he hopped out mid-game and won me the game).  The Warlord obviously ran with the Stormvermin and, in most games, so did the BSB.  I’m not really comfortable with so much of my Leadership relying on a single (relatively small, at 20) unit… but it’s the only arrangement that really seemed to make sense in most games and it really worked out when I did it.

The Storm Banner wasn’t useful in every game (two games had zero shooting), but it really made a difference when it was.

It’s interesting to note that, out of five games, four were open lists.  I am ideologically opposed to closed lists. They are stupid.  Real games of strategy, like go and chess don’t depend on tricking your opponent: they depend on you having a stronger game.  Until Fantasy ditches this idea of using “gotchas” as a strategy, it will never be as good a game as 40k.

Anyway, the only game with the closed list was the one I lost. This has nothing to do with my ability to process my opponents’ lists: I started the weekend wholly unfamiliar with the Lizardman book and really only familiarity with the boring bullshit the one High Elf player I’ve played uses as a crutch (Phoenix Guard deathstar).  My knee-jerk reaction is to find the correlation in deception: we’ve got a local player who uses a closed list to cheat, shifting banners and characters around to best effect because his opponents aren’t able to know any better, and the game that I lost (which I’ll get to) felt off enough that I wouldn’t have surprised me… but on reviewing his list (handed over post-game), I don’t think that’s the case at all.  I think it’s just coincidence.

Game 1 vs. High Elves
Christian G.

Archmage – Lvl 4,  Shadow, Book of Hoeth
Prince – General, Great Weapon, Armor of Caledor, Vambraces of Defense

Mage – Lvl 2, High Magic, Trickster’s Pendant
Mage – Lvl 2, High Magic, Dispel Scroll, Skeinsilver
Noble – BSB, Dragon Armor, Shield, Banner of the World Dragon

Spearmen x24 – Full Command, War Banner
Spearmen x20 – Full Command
Spearmen x19 – Full Command

Dragon Princes x5 – Standard, Banner of Sorcery
White Lions x29 – Full Command, Amulet of Light, Banner of Eternal Flame

This was probably the best game I had all weekend.  Christian was a fun guy to have across the table.  Clearly, he outclassed my magic, but it never hurt too bad.  I dodged most of the nasty stuff except a Flames of the Phoenix on my Skavenslaves (17 dead slaves?  whatevs!) and then on my Plague Monks.

At the end of the game, I’d managed to get everything he had off the table save for two Spearmen and his Prince… netting a Major Victory.

Game 2 vs Orcs and Goblins
Frank W.

Grimgor Ironhide – General
Savage Orc Great Shaman – Lvl 4, Lucky Shrunken Head, Sword of Striking

Black Orc Big Boss – BSB, Armor of Destiny
Night Goblin Shaman – Lvl 2

Night Goblins x49 – Full Command, Spears, Netters
Night Goblins x20 – Musician, Bows
– Fanatics x2
Night Goblins x20 – Musician, Bows
– Fanatics x2
Savage Orc Big Uns x38 – Standard, Musician, Extra Hand Weapon

Black Orcs x36 – Full Command, Banner of Discipline

Doom Diver
Rock Lobber
Mangler Squig

Frank’s a good kid who’s relatively local: he and his father both played in the tournament I ran last month.  I’ve never played against Orcs & Goblins before.

As you can see, he dropped a lot of hordes on the table, and I was a little worried.  All of those Fanatics and the Squig were clearly supposed to worry me, but they didn’t.  From the get-go, he Hand of Gork’d the Mangler right in front of my Stormvermin, so I marched their Mortar over it.  My slaves sucked up his Fanatics.

From Turn 1, I whittled away at his Black Orcs with everything I had: 13th, the Cannon, and the remaining Mortar.  The turning point of the game went down with his Savage Orcs fleeing from Plague Banner-charged Monks who were then charged in the flank by severely whittled-down Black Orcs.  They didn’t break (obviously), though I don’t recall why I forgot to reform them, but they did kill enough Black Orcs to get the unit down to Grimgor and two other Orcs.  Before the next round of combat could go down, I was able to 13th the unit into oblivion.

Ended up with  Major Victory.

Game 3 vs. Lizardmen
Erik B.

Slaan – General, BSB, Light, Cupped Hands, Obsidian Amulet, Focus of Mystery, Becalming Cogitation, Focused Rumination

Skink Priest – Lvl 2, Ancient Stegadon, Dispel Scroll, Ironcurse Icon

Saurus x25 – Standard, Musician
Saurus x25 – Standard, Musician
Skink Skirmishers x10
Skink Skirmishers x10

Cold Ones x10 – Full Command, Huanichi’s Blessed Totem
Temple Guard x16 – Full Command

Salamander – Skinks x4
Salamander – Skinks x4

This was easily the worst game I had all weekend.  (Not hard, given that all of the other games were pretty good, but still.) It started off on the wrong foot when he said he wanted to play closed lists (see above).  His wife (who was actually very nice) sat and watched the game the whole, but that meant he pretty much ignored me, quietly muttering to her when he wasn’t doing something in the game.  And every time I killed one of his models he did a whole “this is bullshit, I’m losing the game to this guy with this bullshit list” thing.  I get being disappointed/frustrated when things don’t go your way (see below: my Stupid Abomination), but I’m not exaggerating about this being an every time thing.

And then there was the cheating.  “Cheating” might be a strong word; I don’t know.  Maybe it was a lot of innocent mistakes, but I can’t help but feel like it wasn’t.  His Skinks were about 5mm apart when the correct formation (.5″ would have put him in serious danger of the Abomination.  He totally pulled the “I cast Speed of Light on these Saurus.  17″, so everyone in 12″ gets the benefit.”  He rolled, and took Harmonic Convergence and Curse of the Midnight Wind.  I know this, because I opened my box, rifled through the stack of cards, and pull those two out.  You can imagine my surprise when he said he’d taken Iceshard Blizzard.  Since I couldn’t prove that he hadn’t muttered such at some point before the game started, I let him get away with that last one, but called him on the rest.

Now, I’m self-aware enough to know that some of my peevishness about this mess is probably driven by sour grapes: I’d won two games, was doing well, and then I lost to this guy.  But he really was pulling stuff that wasn’t kosher, and if I caught him on the stuff above, what didn’t I catch him doing?  At the very least, even if it wasn’t deliberate cheating, it was full of stuff unacceptable and uncool in any game, much less a GT.

Anyway, the game was a slugfest.  The Iceshard Blizzard thing certainly made some sort of difference.  I forget if it was a Minor or Major Loss for me.

Game 4 vs. Vampire Counts
Douglas C.

Vampire Lord – General, Lvl 4, Lore of Vampires, Sword of Battle, Gambler’s Armor, Black Periapt, Talisman of Preservation, Dark Acolyte, Walking Death, Summon Ghouls, Beguile

Vampire – Lvl 2, BSB, Lore of Vampires, Dark Acolyte, Avatar of Death, Drakenhof Banner
Vampire – Death, Forbidden Lore, Enchanted Shield, Dispel Scroll
Vampire – Light, Forbidden Lore, Cadaverous Cuirass

Corpse Cart – Balefire
Crypt Ghouls x39 – Champion
Skeletons x29 – Full Command, War Banner
Zombies x40 – Standard, Musician

Grave Guard x40 – Full Command, Royal Standard of Strigos

Douglas, as it turns out, is another relatively local kid who’s folks work not too far from where I live: it’s a very small world.  It was a good game that the scenario tried really, really hard to ruin for me.

Looking at the list, I’m sure you can imagine how things worked out.  I just dumped everything I had into his hordes and tried to wipe them out.  I was pretty lucky in being able to stymie his regeneration and do enough wounds to really keep ahead of what I couldn’t stop.

My Monks charged his Zombies and, not being willing to risk being stuck, popped the Plague Banner and tore through them: killing all but one (who decided to collapse).  I rolled into his Grave Guard where I tied them up for the rest of the game.  I challenged with my Priest, he accepted with his Lord: who killed the Priest pretty quickly, but wasn’t able to do more than a wound or so a round against the Furnace.

The scenario was this: give three units “Liquid Courage”: Stupidity and Frenzy.  Units with Liquid Courage get a secondary objective every time they kill a unit.  I gave it to my Abomination, who couldn’t really benefit in any way by Frenzy, but I figured he’d get some kills in, right?  Wrong.  He failed every. single. Stupidity. test. Even with BSB rerolls.  I had to count to ten and apologize; Douglas understood and let me be furious at the Abomination.

Fortunately, it didn’t actually make a difference: I killed everything he had… save his Grave Guard deathstar.  With the General and BSB in there, I only eeked out a Minor Victory, despite giving up something like 540 VP.

Game 5 vs. Lizardmen
vs. Luke W.

Slaan – General, BSB, Shadow, Cupped Hands, Dragonbane Gem, Crown of Command, Banner of Eternal Flame, Becalming Cogitation, Focus of Mystery, Focused Rumination, Higher State of Consciousness

Scar-Veteran – Light Armor, Shield, Biting Blade, Dragonhelm, Dawnstone
Scar-Veteran – Light Armor, Shield, Cold One, Warrior Bane, Talisman of Preservation
Skink Priest – Heavens, Dispel Scroll

Saurus x42 – Full Command, Spears
Skink Skirmishers x10
Skink Skirmishers x10

Cold Ones x5 – Standard
Chameleon Skinks x6
Chameleon Skinks x6
Terradon Riders x3

Salamander – Skinks x3
Salamander x2 – Skinks x6

Luke’s army was gorgeous.  Easily the best army I went up against.  The colors were subtle, popped out and were extremely clean.  I loved it.

I was less in love with that big ass block of Saurus.  The Slaan, the Skink, and the one Scar-Vet all hopped into it: I knew I needed to kill that unit if I stood a chance… and I probably wasn’t going to be able to.  Becalming Cogitation locked down 13th pretty completely.

However, my artillery rolls were some serious bullshit.  Like, so perfect, I felt bad for them.

I went first (which had to happen at least once out of five games, right?) and dropped a S 10 Warp Lightning blast down the flank into the middle of the unit, netting 19 hits.  I threw the Abom at them immediately (despite the flaming banner) to do what he could while I maneuvered up my Plague Monks.  The Abom held in way longer than it had any right to, but that kept the Monks from getting in.  It racked up a respectable body count, including the Scar-Vet, before getting cut down.

The Abom and all of my shooting whittled the Saurus down to the point where the Slaan hopped out and ducked for cover and he moved the Saurus away to try to get them away from the Slaves and Stormvermin who were closing in.

It looked like it was going to come down to whether or not I’d be able to catch the Saurus… and then my Warlock, who’d hopped out of the Monks two turns before they caught the Stegadon in the flank moved off and popped off the Doomrocket I’d never had a good target for.  19″.  Just. on. top. of. the. unit.  Killed every single one of the Saurus, leaving the Skink Priest… who failed his Panic check and ran off the table.

This was my hardest fought, closest game.  It was completely down to the wire: if a few more rolls had gone his way or a few fewer had gone my way, it’d have definitely gone the other way.  As it is, I pulled out the most Minor of Victories.  Great stuff!

In the end, I went 4-1.  Four out of five really great games is nothing I would ever dream of complaining about.  It’s probably the best I’ll ever do at a GT, I’m quite sure.

NoVA Overview

Before I get into how I had a great time and all that stuff, I’ll cut right to the chase and say I did extremely well this weekend, beyond any of my expectations.

I won Best Army (“Sum of All Parts”); tying the winners of both Best Conversion and Best Painted Mini.  I’d hoped to do well with Appearance; I went specifically with the goal of trying to do well with Appearance… but I certainly didn’t expect to walk off with the top prize.  So, you can imagine how pleased and flattered I am.

Furthermore, I came in second place for Renaissance Man, third overall.  Despite planning to show up, try to do well with Appearance, and spend the weekend drinking: I ended up going 4-1.  This was absolutely out of left-field for me.  I planned to show up, roll some dice, and drink a lot of beer; winning games wasn’t in the plan.

I got to see a lot of folks I don’t really get to see much of (especially Jay, Doug, Austin and Kevin), and I got to meet a lot of new folks.  Thank you to everyone who introduced themselves (RGH, RGH Jr., Iggy Koopa being the ones who associated themselves with blogs); it was great to put faces on such (talented) names.  Gav Thorpe is an incredibly nice dude.  Someone (RGH?) had him sign their Chaos Space Marines codex, “Yeah, I wrote it.  So what?”

Doubly huge thanks to Austin for letting me stash my army & board in his room overnight.  That saved me an immense amount of hassle.

I’m really glad I played Fantasy instead of 40K. Five rounds of WHFB across two days were exhausting.  My tournament kit includes a chef’s mat to stand on, and my knees and feet still ache.  Eight rounds of 40K would have me curled on the floor, crying and clutching my knees.

Anyway, the ICGC did a great job running things: games started pretty much on time and kept moving.  I had a great time (which didn’t really have anything to do with my success).

I’ll go over my games tomorrow (or the day after).

What Worked

  • Paint scoring had a very particular, structured format that kept things pretty objective while allowing for just a bit of subjectivity.  I remember being dissatisfied with the old GW GT appearance check list because it put a lot of emphasis on basic stuff without allowing for much nuance at the higher levels.  I feel that this was a huge step beyond that.
  • The format’s solid.  We’ve done smaller tournaments using the bracketing structure and it’s worked out OK.  At the local tournament format, it’s a liability, since it either caps players at 8 or requires more rounds than are practical (especially when your FLGS opens at 11AM).  When spread across two days, and you can play the games you need, it works out really well.
  • Raffles.  Your name went into a raffle every time you lost a game.  I have no idea how many things they raffled off each round, but I saw a lot of folks win prizes.  Three or four folks from my (extended) gaming group won prizes.
  • Consistent, balanced terrain layouts are solid.  It’d get old for pickup games and such, but for a tournament it’s inarguably great.
  • The hotel was nice, and there was a lot of space.  There were concerns about putting 400+ people in a relatively low-ceilinged space stinking the place up (let’s call it what it is), but that wasn’t a concern at all.  At points (particularly first thing in the morning) where I felt a bit warm, but I was never hot.  (Though they did cut off the AC on the Fantasy/Warmachine side of thing a bit early.)

What Could Use Improvement

  • The intercom system.  Not sure there’s a fix for this, though.

    The problem was that the 1) 40K tournament had a tight schedule, requiring everyone to be coordinated, 2) the person doing the bulk of the intercomming sounded like everyone was an idiot and 3) announcements got longer and longer and repeated more often as the weekend went on.  That made it pretty dang hard to play: we couldn’t hear each other at all over the announcements, hardly any of which had anything to do with us… which made them extremely disruptive.

    Like I said, I’m not sure there’s a fix for this.  Everyone’s going to be on the same intercom system and, at 200+ people in a tournament, there are going to be coordination issues that make the intercom scolding required.  Maybe the best one could hope for would be a recognition that there are other events as well, and that everything grinds to a halt when someone’s talking on the intercom… so say what you’re saying and be done.  Though I really don’t think that would actually change much, because I don’t think there was that much fat to trim from the announcements, and the repetition’s justifiable and necessary.  So, I dunno.

    The converse was also true: Scooter’s not a quiet dude, but I had trouble hearing some things the Fantasy organizers announced.  They probably should have hopped on a/the intercom as well.

  • A Schedule.  I guess there were schedules printed, but I never really saw them.  A schedule of the games should have been posted in the tournament area (next to table assignments?), so we wouldn’t have to keep interrupting judges to ask how much time we had left or when the next round started.

    One hour or, at least, 30 minute warnings would have been nice.  We got a couple of “Don’t start another turn!” announcements, but that was it.

  • There was no internet or cell signal.  I had to go outside and stand at the concierge stand to get the slightest of bars.  It felt like coming up for air: walking halfway across the hotel, taking the escalator up, and walking out to sync up with the mothership.  This could be a positive thing: removing a huge distraction of players, helping them focus on their games.  It’d have been nice to stay connected through the day, however: I know it completely prevented me from posting and tweeting about my games throughout the day.

    A wireless access point or something made available to NoVA guests might be worth considering.  I’m sure the 11th Company had some wired connection (since streaming video is a mite bandwidth intensive).  I’m sure wireless router or something could be stacked on top of a similar connection with a password posted in the NoVA space.

  • A poster listing walkable food options and/or delivery options would have been really helpful.  I have no doubt there were a lot of options but on the tight schedule, I didn’t have time to try to figure out what they were.  
Anyway, since I don’t want to wrap on a negative note (and really, I’m shooting for constructive, not negative), I really did have a great time.  Mike did an amazing job, and should be extremely pleased with himself.  I’m looking forward to next year!
* What I’m (unsuccessfully) trying to say here was that it sounded like he was talking down to everyone. I’m assuming that he’s in the military and probably puts dangerous things in the hands of teenagers professionally, and I have no doubt that it was necessary and appropriate at the tournament.  So, I totally get it… but it made the disruption more unpleasant.


The board’s done!  The banners are done!  The sign is done.  BEHOLD!

Here’s everything arranged!  (I might have a few more slaves and monks on there than I actually intend to field today, and I need to repair the furnace, but whatevs).

Signal is terrible at the tournament, so I won’t be able to do much posting throughout the day.

What to enter?

Now, I’ve got to figure out something I should have thought about a week ago: what models to enter for the painting and conversion judging.

Assuming the following:
What should I enter?
Right now, for painting, I’m considering the two models that did well at the GD last year: the Doomwheel and the Warlord.
I’m leery of doing the Doomwheel, though, because of
I could also do my War-Litter Warlord or even my Warlock Engineer (both below).
For conversion, I’m considering my Facebook pseudo-internet-famous Hellpit, my War Litter, my Warlock Engineer or maybe a Mortar.

Leaning strongly away from those last two: the mortar’s just too rough, and while the Engineer is fantastic, it’s barely converted.  So, really: Hellpit or War Litter?

NoVA vs The Storm

Man, I really hope Irene doesn’t mess with the tournament.  (Mostly because it means a lot of dangerous weather for everyone, not just an interferance with my ability to play toy soldiers.)

Right now, they’re talking 100 mph winds in the region on Sunday morning, and hurricane force winds specifically in the area the tournament is being held in.

Weather Channel – Irene

Display Board Update

Done painting and varnishing.  All that should be left are water effects (though I’m considering putting some blood effects down or something to break things up a bit; we’ll see once I’ve put everything down on the board).

This is it.  I’m… not entirely happy with it.  What’s there looks good, but it feels kinda bland to me.  I wish I’d had more inspiration for terrain to put on it.  Water and units might help that out, though.  We’ll see.

The stalagmites are done as well.  I’m ambivalent about them.  They look alright.  Better than the styrofoam ones, for sure… but in painting them, I was reminded that I wanted to use those colors (Cryx Bane Base, Cryx Bane Highlight) to paint the Space Hulk Genestealers.  Between that and the Alien-esque way they kinda look, I can’t help but feel that they’d be better suited as Tyranid terrain.

After the board’s done, I’ve got to wrap up these freaking banners.

Display Board WIP

I’m waiting on the glue to dry on the board; I’ll go back over everything thoroughly with some watered-down wood glue to fix everything in place.  I’ve found that this does miracles for adding durability to ballast (and pretty much everything else).

I’ve finished “sculpting” the stalamites.  Each is a 6″ nail run through a 50mm base with successive layers of joint compound slathered on.  Not really sure when I decided to use joint compound, but the results look (to me, at least) considerably more natural and believable than the styrofoam stalagmites I’ve made before.

The joint compound’s considerably flakier, however, so I’m reinforcing everything with several coats of, again, watered-down wood glue.  After enough of these, the outside will be extremely durable.

Once all of that’s done (hopefully tonight) and dried (hopefully tomorrow AM), I’ll start painting it.  That should go pretty quickly: airbrush on the basecoat then a couple of layers of drybrush.  Varnish that, then water effects and done.

I’ve stretched my non-existent photoshop skills to the limit to pull together a clever, attention-getting sign to place by my display board.  I’m going to keep that close to my chest until the tournament, though: more because I keep dicking around with it than from any coyness.

Finally, I’ve loaded up most of the display case: my Daemons on one shelf and my Dark Angels spilling off of another.  The top shelf’s being saved for my Skaven (who are, understandably, a bit too busy psyching themselves up for the NoVA to spend time in the display case) and assorted one-off models that I’ve done.