Monday, July 23, 2012

Tournament Missions and Recap

Setting up for round one
This weekend, one of my buddies and I had the opportunity to run our first sixth edition tournament for 40K.  We had seventeen players, which is three less than our max capacity, so almost a full house.  Things seemed to go really well.  I say that because nearly every one of the players came up to me during or after the tournament and said things went really well.  A portion of that may simply be that we provided a reason to play games for eight hours, and who doesn't love that?  But we also had no real logistical issues, managed to produce pretty clear winners, and were able to answer all the rules queries with pretty minimal fuss.

We opened the day with Crusade (Seize Ground) and Dawn of War (Pitched Battle) as the mission and deployment type.  We figured this would make for a pretty easy first mission for the day.  Everybody has seen it before.  Everyone knows what to expect.  Theoretically, no rules questions to speak of.  It's also a good way to ensure that everyone has a chance to score an equal number of points, since we preset the number of objectives at five.  We were operating on wins to determine the Best General award, but because of the number of players, it was likely we would need victory points as a tie breaker.  This is what eventually pushed us away from using Purge the Alien (Killpoints) since second round match-ups would favor those that scored more victory points.

Tau and CSM:  Surprisingly well represented
Round two pitted the high and low seeded winners against each other with Big Guns Never Tire and Vanguard Strike as mission and deployment type.  Again, we preset the objectives, this time at four.  This allowed for a little more variance in score, as Heavy Support choices gave away victory points, but the window for variation was only three points.  Things actually played out very cleanly for us, with one tie amongst the initial winners.  This ensured only four undefeateds going into the final round.  Even better, two of the players had a significant edge in battle points.  This was significant as they would be paired against each other for the title, barring a draw.

Our final mission was The Relic with Hammer and Anvil as deployment type.  We had judged this mission to be the most likely to produce a winner, while agreeing that we didn't want last editions "roll dice and tie" or The Scouring (because that most definitely is the worst designed mission, whether playing competitively or otherwise).  You may note that there are only six points available in this mission.  That was also an intentional decision.  The hope was that most of the points for establishing yourself as the top contender needed to be earned in rounds 1 and 2, while round 3 would be focused solely on winning.  Additionally, it meant that tanking your score to get an easier round three opponent was mighty risky.  Because of this, we felt like we could pair the best players of the day against each other with everything riding on just that one game.  Again, things turned out how we hoped, with one of the top table contenders winning his mission going away. 

Wolf on Wolf action.  Those on the left would take best painted.
At the end of the day, Tyranids (Tervigons and Gaunts) ended up beating Dark Eldar (hybrid gunline/Wyches) on the final table for the top spot.  It seemed to come down mostly to a few rolls, but that's how it goes in a dice game.  Chaos Space Marines also managed to go 3-0 with an interesting monster mash list, outlasting Eldrad with Eldar.  The Chaos Marine army won best overall, with some fantastic conversion work and paint. 

Interestingly, the field was incredibly diverse.  Seventeen players showed up with twelve different armies.  Miracle of all miracles, none of them were Grey Knights.  The most represented army was Tau (3), followed by Chaos Marines (2), Blood Angels (2), and Space Wolves (2).  Not counting Deathwing, only seven of the entrants were power armored armies.

Maybe interestingly, we tracked First Blood victory points against first turn.  The results may not be what you might have thought.  Out of eighteen games (we counted the first two rounds), ten of them resulted in the player with first turn getting first blood, and that figure includes a couple games where it was not earned on the first turn.  That is a majority, but hardly the runaway number some may have expected.  Granted, I would not consider this population normal, so I hesitate to say we've achieved a statistically significant figure, but it could be interesting if you're a stats nerd.

More pictures and such to come...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hobby Update: Monster Mash

It's been a minute since I've thrown any models up here.  I've made plenty of progress, but that is what's supposed to happen over the course of three weeks.
The Nightbringer has seen a fair bit of attention.  I've got most of the colors down, but before I can be closer to "finished" status, I need to A) decide if I like the placement of the colors and B) work on getting the colors to blend together more smoothly.  If you compare the before and current versions of the model, you can see pretty plainly that the colors are migrating north and becoming increasingly extreme.  I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing yet.  I think I'm going to remain patient and decide when I've cleaned things up a bit more.

I've managed to do something somewhere between an update and a redo on my Dark Apostle Daemon Prince.  Previously, he had white armor with black wings.  Now he has black armor with white wings...  so the opposite.  But with a lot more colors applied and technique.  The wings started with Dawnstone, Badab Black, Codex Grey, then finally Skull White with a quick drybrush of the new dry compound Praxeti White.  From a distance, they look great.  Close up, I am less sold.  A few of the lines are a little less clean than I'd like, but I think the biggest issue is I may have left too much of the dark coloring behind.  I'm not sure how feasible it would be to fix without redoing the whole thing, so I think I'm going to make my peace with it.  I also redid the shoulder pads and highlighted the robes.  Previously the colors were clean, but flat, which was typical of my painting back in the day.  With a new Chaos book coming up, I really want to have my army up to what I consider my current ability to be.  This guy is definitely going to be a centerpiece so I'm glad to have him done.

My Defiler has been a pretty regular presence in my Chaos Army over the last few months... or always, I suppose.  It has always been an awesome model and being able to throw around a battle cannon shot is a lot of fun.  However, part of the model's cool factor comes from its size and design, which makes it tough to transport elegantly.  Because of this, his spiky bits tend to take a lot of damage.  I got fed up with it this week when he took a tumble and one of the legs popped off.  I gave the others a pull and they actually came off pretty easily.  Before I knew it the drill was out and magnets were setting in the glue.  Despite repeated testing, not all of them were set the right way.  As a general piece of advice, definitely set the magnets that are harder to get in first.  Now the model breaks down into eight pieces that fit perfectly into one of the random extra slots in my carrying case that is currently unoccupied.  My big problem is the guy is a little finicky about standing up.  It was top and forward heavy to begin with, and now the legs tend to spin and slide out from under him.  I might try a second magnet, but we'll see.  And of course there's the high possibility that they just give the walker a base when they update the book in a month or so.

I showed off the Possessed Marines I finished in one of my last hobby posts.  I was hesitant to start the next batch right away since I was hoping to acquire two more bodies and a few arms and legs from some friends.  Honestly, I never got around too it and, surprise, surprise, my patience ran out.  I raided my own bitz box and came up with an Ork head, some Crypt Horror hands, and a few other bits that got grafted on randomly.  They don't fit perfectly, but if you don't know to look for them (cuz you're not me) they'll blend well enough.  Now on to paint!

Hobby Accomplishments
-Finished the Dark Apostle Daemon Prince
-Built Possessed Marines from scratch
-Added layers to the Nightbringer
-Magnetized the Defiler
-Wrote rules packet for this weekends tournament... so all in all, a productive three weeks.

Hobby goals for the next two weeks
-Get the next two coats of red on the Possessed
-Get red and gold on the Death Company
-Finish the Nightbringer

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tournament Planning

At the worst, we'll have great tables to play on.
For any of you out there in the San Diego, I and one of my buddies will be running a tournament at At Ease Games on July 21st.  Check in kicks off around 10, games at 11 if you're interested.

It will be my first official tournament experience with sixth edition, which makes being the boss of it kind of intimidating.  Someone has to be the first, I suppose.  Of course, that comes with a can of worms in the form of the lack of a successful, preexisting template already being in place.  Because of that, I have a myriad of concerns in my head racing to be the biggest and they're all winning.

With the newness of the edition, we've decided to stick mostly to book missions.  The theory is that nobody has played (half of) them enough that they've gotten particularly stale, so why go out of the way to create a wholly different framework?  That said, how do you best string a chosen three of these missions together to promote a healthy, balanced competition?  Especially when it has been made abundantly clear that the intent of the edition is to push for more narrative gameplay.  Though perhaps that's not the best point to bring up when trying to sell a tournament invitation.  Mostly, it's been a process of trying to pick and choose between the new stuff that seems to provide something close to equal footing, then filling in with the holdovers.

Wanna team up, bro?
One decision I'm content with is excluding allies and fortifications for the first tourney.  I know it's in the rulebook.  Three weeks in, it's just more complication than I want to deal with.  I don't know the edition nearly as well as I'd like to for judging, let alone the way all the extra interactions from new combos will work.  Players haven't had a lot of time to experiment or see what is out there either.  Give it a bit more time, and then we'll get real crazy.

Theoretically, it should be that simple, but with a positive turnout, we come to one of the common problems faced by three round tourneys.  Obviously, I'm referring to how to stratify multiple undefeated players in an equitable manner.  We have room for roughly twenty players, meaning three 3-0's is in play.  And while one of my racing concerns is no one showing, I'd guess we'll be running out of space before we're struggling to fill tables.  In 5th edition, I typically rotated the three missions as primary and secondary, with something a little funkier for tertiary.  I used the system both as a way to score battle points and to break ties.  With six missions, it seems odd to leave any of them out, and with so may of them being objective based, they tend not to combine quite so well.  That is to say, how the heck would play The Scouring and Crusade?  Not a lot of folks bring eleven scoring units, even with Fast Attacks thrown in.  That would pretty much tip the scale all the way to MSU style armies before a die gets cast...  Though if it means no Draigowing...

So that's kind of where things stand.  I'll have more about mission selection and the actual format after the tourney, plus whatever observations I have as far as results and data.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Big Game

Maybe a challenge you wanna think twice about making?
Sunday was the final day of the most recent incarnation of our 40K League at At Ease Games.  We decided, again, that the best way to cap things off would be a massive multiplayer game.  I was a little nervous after the previous Apocalypse attempt, but we thought to give it one more shot.  So eleven of us showed up with no idea what to expect, built lists of 1500 points, then were all told to prepare to vie for possession of the Fortress of Redemption...  And, oh by the way, one of the guy's Reaver Titans would be on the board, firing at the behest of the league organizer.  Let the shenanigans ensue!

Once things actually got put on the board, and we figured out the turn order, things actually moved at a really fast clip.  One of the things that tends to suck the fun right out of a big game is turns that drag on and on with a lot of passive players.  By a somewhat serendipitous set of rolls, most of the players were not next to each other either physically or in the turn order, so when a player wasn't engaging the next guy in the order, we were able to get two and three people to take their turns almost simultaneously.  Because of this, we got in a full four turns in just under four hours.  That may not seem that great, but when you consider that we had essentially eleven different turns to get through for full armies plus a new edition, and that's actually really good.  As a result, no one had to sit around for an hour and not do anything.

I enjoyed the way the Titan interacted with the game.  Essentially it took the twelfth player turn and started firing at things not getting stuck in to the middle of the board.  Meanwhile, we gave it a dozen hull points and raced to see who could blow it up first.  It took a bit more doing than we initially anticipated.  I dropped in a Bloodthirster and threw him directly into the Titan, knocking off half a dozen of the hull points with a bunch of patented ankle bite attacks.  Unfortunately, my treacherous Dark Eldar buddy decided he wanted the glory for himself and shot down ol' BT.  I was more surprised than I should have been.  One of our Blood Angels players jumped in at the top of the last turn and did the last of the dirty work...  And then the reactor went supernova.  A lucky string of sixes cleared a whole swathe of the board, including three squads of Sanguinary Guard, effectively tabling one of our players.  He offered a wry smile and a chuckle at his misfortune.

The game wound down on turn 4.  There wasn't much left on the board, and what was left made a mad dash for the middle.  I had the good fortune to have started most of my stuff close to the fortress, plus I failed to bring in my Plaguebearers until that turn.  They deep struck onto the fortress, while the last of my Possessed mobs staggered into it.  The lone remaining Daemon Prince that had survived the supernova jumped up onto the tower and claimed it for Chaos.  A few Orks also made the run, while a pair of Wave Serpents dropped a batch of Banshees and Seer Council just onto the edge of scoring.  Of all people, the Dark Eldar just didn't have the speed to get where they needed to be.  At that point, we counted up total points on the objective.  I came up with 655, while the Eldar tallied up 697 with all those IC's.  So close.  Regardless, it was an awesome game and everyone seemed to walk away happy.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Few 6th Edition Initial Thoughts

Have you read a thousand of these posts yet?

We had a sort of informal tournament on Saturday at At Ease Games.  There wasn't a prize pool or an entry fee or scoring, but we had a time and a points value and a very large turnout.  By the end of the day, we had improvise extra tables, and there were still people standing, watching, and waiting for their turn.  The excitement was palpable and great to see.

I went 2-0-1 on the day, playing my Chaos Space Marines, with games against Daemons, Tau, and vanilla Marines.  I played the new versions of Seize Ground and Capture and Control, plus one of the new missions called "The Relic."  Overall, I really like the changes, while it also feels like I'm still just playing 40K.
I don't know that this edition will be kind to the tournament-centric mindset.  The random elements seem to be pretty prevalent.  By way of example, I'd pick Warlord traits.  A single D6 can have a pretty significant effect on the game.  In the Relic mission, I turned my Daemon Prince into a scoring unit, while my Tau opponent got the ability to score victory points by slaying enemies in challenges.  To me, that seems like a pretty big disparity.  On the other hand, the game is really fun, seems to play quickly, and does a good job of making things cinematic.  For those kinds of games, I think it's going to be a tremendous rule set.  Woodchuck and Hanover's please.

I'm not too worried about Allies.  It seems like it was written similarly to how it was in the 8th edition Fantasy book, which never seemed to see a profound emergence of allies.  And while there may be some crazy combos, everyone can play them.  It also gives me the opportunity to field a detachment of daemons in my Chaos army while I'm building them up.  Now I don't have to buy a whole army to start playing with it.  I can have an all painted force, even while building one up.

A few other brief thoughts.  First, overwatching Plasma Guns are TERRIFYING.  Second, I like the way vehicles work.  They're more reliable and easier to kill at the same time.  I don't think we'll see a lot of light mech in assault armies because you need to be out of them a full turn to charge, but shooty armies might still spam light chassis.  Hopefully this means we'll see the addition of lizard and Spock to the rock, paper scissors mix.  Finally, I really hope flying things don't become the level 4 wizards of 40K.  They seem to be difficult to handle and able to dish out the punishment.  Most armies aren't ready to handle them beyond praying for sixes.  That may change as each book comes out, but that will take a while.

In the meantime, game on!