Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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!

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

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

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

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

Rare
Doomwheel
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.
Lords
Archmage - Lvl 4,  Shadow, Book of Hoeth
Prince - General, Great Weapon, Armor of Caledor, Vambraces of Defense

Heroes
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

Core
Spearmen x24 - Full Command, War Banner
Spearmen x20 - Full Command
Spearmen x19 - Full Command

Special
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.
Lords
Grimgor Ironhide - General
Savage Orc Great Shaman - Lvl 4, Lucky Shrunken Head, Sword of Striking


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

Core
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

Special 
Black Orcs x36 - Full Command, Banner of Discipline

Rare
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.
Lords
Slaan - General, BSB, Light, Cupped Hands, Obsidian Amulet, Focus of Mystery, Becalming Cogitation, Focused Rumination

Heroes
Skink Priest - Lvl 2, Ancient Stegadon, Dispel Scroll, Ironcurse Icon

Core
Saurus x25 - Standard, Musician
Saurus x25 - Standard, Musician
Skink Skirmishers x10
Skink Skirmishers x10

Special
Cold Ones x10 - Full Command, Huanichi's Blessed Totem
Temple Guard x16 - Full Command

Rare
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.
Lords
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

Heroes
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

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

Special
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.
Lords
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

Heroes
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

Core
Saurus x42 - Full Command, Spears
Skink Skirmishers x10
Skink Skirmishers x10

Special
Cold Ones x5 - Standard
Chameleon Skinks x6
Chameleon Skinks x6
Terradon Riders x3

Rare
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.
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