Sunday, 20 October 2013

Blog Wars 6

In a couple of weeks I'm going to Blog Wars 6 with Bennett (I would link his blog at this point, but I've just looked and he's not posted on it since Blog Wars 4 *HINT* *HINT*. Blog Wars is a one day event which, with the closure of Maelstrom earlier in the year is being held at the North West Gaming centre in Stockport.I missed the last one but attended Blog Wars4 and it was good fun.

So it will probably be more competitive than the Hull's Angels tournament, but hopefully not the full on waac of the GT heats / finals, another opportunity to build my confidence with the drop wolves. Blog Wars has one unique stipulation, you must have a special character in the army, I was going to swap a Rune Priest for Njal, but he's expensive, so instead I swapped the Wolf Priest for Ulrik, I can't select my target for preferred enemy, but effectively get it for anything with T5 or greater, so it still works for hunting Riptides.

So the new army is ;-

HQ1: Ulrik the Slayer (180)  [180pts]
HQ2: Rune Priest (100), Chooser of the Slain (10), Melta Bomb (5), Jaws of the World Wolf (free), Living Lightning (free) [115pts]
HQ3: Rune Priest (100), Bolter (free), MeltaBomb (5), Jaws of the World Wolf (free), Living Lightning (free) [105pts]
HQ4: Rune Priest (100), Melta Bomb (5), Jaws of the World Wolf (free), Murdurous Hurricane (free) [105pts]

Troop1: 8 Grey Hunters (120), Melta-Gun (5), Wolf Standard (10), TRANSPORT1 [135pts]
Troop2: 8 Grey Hunters (120), Melta-Gun (5), Wolf Standard (10), TRANSPORT2 [135pts]
Troop3: 8 Grey Hunters (120), Melta-Gun (5), Wolf Standard (10), TRANSPORT3 [135pts]
Troop4: 8 Grey Hunters (120), Melta-Gun (5), Wolf Standard (10), TRANSPORT3 [135pts]
Troop5: 6 Grey Hunters (90), Flamer (free), TRANSPORT5 [90pts]

Elite1: 10 Wolfguard (180), 4 Combi-Melta (20), 6 Combi-Plasma (30), TRANSPORT6 [230pts]

Heavy1: 6 Long Fangs (90), 5 Missile Launchers (50), TRANSPORT7 [140pts]

Transport1: Drop Pod (35) [35pts]
Transport2: Drop Pod (35) [35pts]
Transport3: Drop Pod (35) [35pts]
Transport4: Drop Pod (35) [35pts]
Transport5: Drop Pod (35) [35pts]
Transport6: Drop Pod (35) [35pts]
Transport7: Drop Pod (35) [35pts]

Fortification: Aegis Defence Line (50), Quad gun (50) [100pts]


I've already worked out a couple of changes I could have made, ones that I may apply before Caledonia Uprising. Still worried about flyers, especially Helldrakes but we'll just have to see what turns up.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Hull's Angels Charity Tournament

So a couple of weekends ago I attend my first 40k tournament in almost 6 months (excluding playing ringers in some of the York tournaments). The Hull’s Angels charity tournament is a one day affair to raise money for Help the Heroes. It’s fair to say it a local tournament and the competitiveness of the players reflects this. There weren’t any of the really tweaked meta lists you’d expect to find at the more competitive tournaments and it was a more gentle return to competitive gaming. I decided to take along my Space Wolves to the tournament, but rather than the previous razorback spam I’d used the last time the Wolves came out to play, this time I took a drop list. The army list was built to tackle some of the current meta lists and was ;-

Rune Priest with Bolter
Rune Priest
Rune Priest with Melta Bomb
Wolf Priest
8 Grey Hunters with Meltagun and Wolf Standard in a Drop Pod
8 Grey Hunters with Meltagun and Wolf Standard in a Drop Pod
8 Grey Hunters with Meltagun and Wolf Standard in a Drop Pod
8 Grey Hunters with Meltagun and Wolf Standard in a Drop Pod
5 Grey Hunters with Flamer in a Drop Pod
5 Grey Hunters with Flamer in a Drop Pod
6 Wolf Guard with Combi-Plasma in a Drop Pod
4 Wolf Guard with Combi-Melta
5 Long Fangs with 4 Missile Launchers
5 Long Fangs with 4 Missile Launchers

The tactics are pretty simple, the Long Fangs deploy on the board whilst the rest of the army drop in the face of the opponent. The Wolf Priest teams with the combi-plasma wolf guard to give them preferred enemy. This unit was meant to hunt Riptides, especially ones with the wargear which allows them to deny the witch on 4D6. Once he’s been killed in a hail of plasma the Rune Priests can unleash hell.

There were a couple of unusual rules for this tournament, your warlord trait was rolled once during the first game and then kept for the remaining games. Similarly psychic powers were rolled once and kept. As a result I had less flexibility around swapping to and from Jaws. I opted to switch one Rune Priest to divination and got prescience, he'd hang back with the Long Fangs to increase their chances against flyers. I still don’t want to face many flyers as I think it is one aspect I’ll struggle against.

Sadly I forgot to pick up my score sheet at the end of the tournament and with my terrible memory for name it means I can't remember my opponent's names, sorry guys.

Round 1 vs Orks

Orks! Thousands of them! Well over a hundred at least. My first round opponent had a horde Ork army. The army was made up of ;
2 Warpheads
2 Units of Nobs with Combi scorchas in Trukks
3 Units of 30 Boys
3 DakkaJets
10 Lootas

So Flyers to start with. The mission was Dawn of War / Relic. Relic is an interesting mission for a drop pod army. We are quite capable of raining pods on or around the relic, one unit of Grey Hunters picks up the relic whilst the remaing units run interference and block the opponents army from getting to them. The Orks spread out along the full board length with the Trukks at either end. I took advantage of his deployment by bringing my initial wave of pods down on one side. Starting from the centre so I immediately had control of the relic I dropped down in front of two of the big units Orks and a single Trukk on my left flank. I chose the left side since the only difference was there were no Lootas on this side. My combi-plasma pack landed near his trukk and after cracking it open with a Missile Launcher from the Long Fangs, they poured rapid firing plasma shot into the Nobs and Warphead. Sadly with a 5+ invulnerable save and feel no pain, despite causing 9 wounds I only managed to remove two Nobs. The Grey Hunters did a much better job, removing 19 of one of the mobs and 10 from another.

The Orks attempted to counter attack but discovered that the Grey Hunters are pretty good in a fight too. The Smaller mob was wiped out by the combined overwatch and combat from a single pack, whilst the medium mob was locked in combat with another squad. Some luck from the Warphead meant it teleported itself and his squad away from the Wolf Priest and Wolf Guard and next to my unit holding the Relic, and managed to burn out the Relic holder.

Turn two and more pods rained down. Two five man squads landed forward of the relic, hoping to burn out some Orks but also block there approach to the centre, meanwhile the third squad landed and scooped up the Relic. More mass firepower and combat completely destroyed a 2nd mob whilst reducing the 3rd to 50% of its original size. One of the Dakka Jets arrived from reserves and shot up the squad carrying the Relic, but was shot down the following turn by the Long Fangs. By the end of turn three there were less than a dozen Orks boyz left from the mobs, the Lootas, a few nobs and two Dakka Jets still in reserve. With time running out my opponent conceded as I had currently scored all three secondary objectives and the relic was slowly making its way back into my deployment zone, behind a screen of drop pods and Grey Hunters.

Round 2 vs Space Marines

Round 2 saw me facing off against a Blood Angel army, his army also featured 3 drop pods (there were jokes made about how the battle barges in orbit launching these pods didn’t notice the other one, but hey). He was using
2 Tactical squads in pods
1 assault squad in a pod
1 small assault squad (riding in one of the Storm Ravens)
Terminators squad
Scout squad
2 Storm Ravens

More flyers! Oh the joy. With the mission being Crusade (4 Objectives) with Vanguard deployment and the objectives mostly located on my side of the board I chose to go second to ensure my pods got the drop on his marines. The marines deployed one tactical squad and his Terminators right in his corner near one objectives, I think this was a mistake which he came to realise when I simply ensured that I remained out of range of this section of the army for the majority of the match. The remaining marines dropped down around one of the objective near the centre of the board.

When I dropped in I landed my four grey hunter packs around his two squads and opened fire, wiping out the assault marines. The second squad of marines survived a little longer but when outnumbered 4 – 1 by Grey Hunters it wasn’t going to last forever. His last troop choice and Terminators realised they could simply defend their objective as I controlled two of them so they began to advance toward the centre. Unfortunately the Wolf Guard with combi-plasma had failed to arrive from reserve until turn four, landed near the advancing marines and wiped them out. It was the Storm Ravens that were causing me issues. The Long fangs were only grazing the paint work, I’d removed 2 hull points of one and the other was untouched, and they were chewing up my Fangs and Hunters. However eventually the assault squad inside disembarked and move towards an objective. Ignoring the now hovering Storm Raven the Long Fangs blew apart the Blood Angels removing the last of their troop selection. It was not down to three pack of Grey Hunters to hold onto one objective under heavy fire, which with a combination or armour save and cover saves they did, to score my second victory.

Round 3 vs. Chaos Daemons

Now the tournament was a relaxed friendly affair. However the decision to make the final round only 90mins long because they were running behind schedule was a little odd. I was facing off against a Daemon army which featured.

Daemon Prince (no Wings)
4 Heralds (Two Nurgle, Skulltaker and Karnak)
3 Units of Plague bearers
1 unit of Bloodletters
1 unit of Fleshhounds
3 Soul Grinders
3 Nurgling bases.

The mission was Kill points which is never a good one for drop lists. The Daemons deployed in a line along the length of his board so the Wolves came down aggressively on one extreme flank. In the initial landing a SoulGrinder was taken out my melta fire whilst the Nurglings and a unit of Plaguebearers were mauled. In the Daemon’s turn they attempted to charge the Grey Hunters, but the Nurlgings were cut down by overwatch whilst the Plaguebears and Herald were locked into combat, lost and died to the instability test. In the second turn the remaining drop pods landed. The Flamers squads both opened up on the Bloodletters and Skull Taker incinerating both with flame and bolter fire. Meanwhile another Soul Grinder was popped by melta fire from the newly arrive Grey Hunters. The last remaining Soul grinder was locked in combat with Grey Hunters and unfortunately the Rune Priest with a Melta Bomb, the first attach only manage to destroy a weapon, but it didn’t look good for the SoulGrinder. Due to the timing issues that’s where it ended, however once again my opponent concede the win to me given I was already heavily ahead on Kill points and he was struggling to get to my drop pods (the usual easy kill points in the army) due to the wall of advancing Space Wolves.

This meant I was three for three in win, unfortunately so was one other person in the tournament and so the TO decided a battle of the warlords would determine 1st vs. 2nd. Unfortunately my relatively cheap force multiplier Wolf Priest face off against a Space Marine commander beat stick, complete with 2+ save and Thunder Hammer. Although I struck first and managed to score 4 wounds (2 of which he failed to save) the Commander caused a single wound back, I failed my 4+ inv save and was double tapped out. Still I was happy with my 2nd place and it was a good run out with the marines.

Lessons Learnt.
The army struggle in one aspect, flyers. I think I need to do something to have some answer to them. For Blog wars I need to add in a special character so I might chig the points around and get an Aegis and Quad gun for the Long Fangs to man, either that or get Njal, his lightning still hits flyers right?

Friday, 11 October 2013

Is the 40k tournament scene in the UK dying?

I’ve been digesting a number of podcasts and blogs on related subjects around this as well as giving my own position a lot of thought. You only have to look at Warhammer forum to see that tournaments are not getting the players they were 12-18 months ago. There have been several tournaments which have only sold 50% of their tickets recently, these aren’t even new tournaments but established ones too. So what are the reasons? Well here’s my views.

Edition – 6th editions isn’t ideal for tournaments, there’s a lot of random elements to game which means the real die hard waac player are less in control of the outcome of their army, but I don’t think this would really cause a serious drop off in players. The edition has also introduced some timing issues around the points and game lengths. 1750, 1850, 1500pts ? 3hrs, 2hrs30 there’s a lot of change in the scene as TO try to solve the problem with games not running their full course.

Location – Whatever your feelings on the business practises of Maelstrom and how it closed down, the Eye of Storm gaming centre was an excellent location. Facilities wise it was strong with an onsite bar, shop and plenty of gaming tables and good terrain. But location wise in Mansfield it was excellent sited to serve the Midlands, Yorkshire and Manchester /Liverpool areas. We all know the Warhammer World will not hold any indy tournaments in its hall. Stockport gaming centre seems to be picking up a little now, but it’s not ideal for the Midlands. Personally I’m willing to drive up to 3hr to attend a tournament (well if you exclude a 9hr flight to Adepticon), and I’d expect that’s similar for most people, otherwise it means taking Friday and Monday off work to travel. So there’s currently a lot less choice in the North.

Meta – I think this is singularly the biggest cause of the issue. If you look at the sign ups for the tournaments, the ‘hardcore’ tournament players are still travelling, you regularly see the same names in the 25-25 names signed up to tournaments. It’s the mid-table players which are missing (players which I believe I fall into). We don’t have delusions of winning a tournament, but we aspire to maybe finish in the top third of the rankings and at least win some of our games. So why aren’t the mid table player attending in the previous numbers? Well speaking for myself I simply don’t want to play the ‘none games’ the current meta will generate. The big boys on the scene at the moment are Tau, Eldar and Daemons. More specifically the Tau/Eldar combo, Jet Seer and Screamer star builds rule the tournaments, and playing against them is just DULL. If you’ve not taken one of these builds games against them can feel really stale as you can’t respond to their game style and simply don’t play a game but simple participate in helping your opponent have his game. I’m really not sure I want to spend c£100 (ticket, hotel, petrol) to spend 15+ hours not playing 40k.

The ironic thing is this is actually a self-fulfilling issue. If a 100 player tournament only sells 40-50 of its tickets to the hardcore players and a few mid-table players, the mid-table guys suffer a poor experience being beaten down repeatedly by the power builds, and probably decide not to attend another for a while (it happened to me at the GT final at the start of the year). Now if those 50 unsold tickets had gone to the mid-table players then they would likely get at least 3 -4 games against their fellow mid-table players once the swiss system had sorted out the pairings and enjoy the weekend a lot more. So until events can lure back more of the Mid-Table crowds the tournament scene as a whole is going to struggle.

Now this might self-correct; Stockport gaming centre appears to be holding more tournaments and with Caledonia moving their next year it could really launch itself. Caledonia Uprising also appears to be selling well to the Mid-Table crowd as well as the hardcore players, Timmaa (the TO) also appear to be actively adding elements which cater more towards the Mid-Table crowd, the best in race awards, the Highland league and even the Caledonia Open (although that could quite easily be dominated by the power build too).

The meta issue will shift again with more codices being released, Marines are likely to shake the tree especially with their impact on the Monstrous creature builds of Tau and Eldar, but you do run the risk of simply replacing one of the power three with another build which the Mid-Table player will have a poor game against (You only have to have your key elements destroyed a couple of time by 30 scouting grav gun armed bikes whilst 3 thunder cannons rain death from behind a hill onto your troops to know there’s little you can do to respond). So only time will tell on this.

So is the tournament scene dying? I suspect that there might be a number of the mid sized tournaments which struggle to find a place in the next 12 months and may disappear from the calendar, either than or we’ll just see the rise of much smaller 36 player tournament being run by a local club for player from their club and the surrounding cities, that’s where the Yorkshire clubs seem to be going.