Monday, 13 November 2017

Hobby update - 13/1/17 Fallout from Never Mind the Blogwars

Greetings all, today's hobby update is going to be a bit of a different animal to normal, as most of my effort last week went into getting the final bits sorted for my attendance at Never Mind the Blog Wars on Saturday.

What follows therefore is a quick brief on the tournament, my results and the important bits from the weekend, plus a few thoughts on where I'll be taking the Dusk Knights from here and what's next on my plate.

Never Mind the Blogwars
So, the whole premise of the tournament is a friendly event where fun games is the order of the day rather than winning at all costs exploiting every rule possible. Alex also runs Double Trouble, which I'm hoping to get to next year, where your doubles partner is randomly determined each round.

I took 2000pts of Space Marines, using the Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics. I'll do a separate post analysing the list and what went well and what disappointed.

The games all used the basic cleanse and capture maelstrom mission from the rule book, but without the secondary objectives. On top of that, the amount of enemy stuff you killed also contributed towards your points for each round. At the time, I felt it was a little unclear whether both of these factored into whether or not you 'won' each game, but looking back on the results page, it's clear that the maelstrom points determined the winner. Personally I'd like to have seen the scoring mechanism explained more clearly but that's a minor gripe. Equally, as I'll come to in my list analysis, I tend to take a Warlord that's difficult to kill, and my troops choices are focused on taking out enemy characters, which probably affected me a little in terms of performance on the day, as there were no points available for slay the warlord (don't get me wrong, it wouldn't have changed my game results, but I'd have felt better about it).

Overall I had an awesome day, my first game was a win by tabling against Graham Saunders and his Tyranids. Graham is an awesome guy I played last time I went to one of Alex's tournaments so it was great to catch up again. He's also the nicest opponent I've ever played, and seems genuinely pleased when you do something cool, even if it does mean you've just killed one of his prize units. Models of the match for me in this game were definitely my Contemptors, though the Stormhawk ran them close.

Up to table 4 for game two and I faced Luke Capper and his Dark Eldar. Really nice army, also very fair, there was no spamming of lances, but Luke played it well and his dice were incredible for the first couple of turns. This game I think hinged entirely on the cards drawn. Luke's first turn saw him pick up three points from his cards, whilst I drew defending objectives in his deployment zone etc. He seemed to pass about two thirds of his 5+ invun saves on turn 1 as well, and I was soon fighting for my life as Incubi, Reavers and Bloodbrides smashed into my lines. This was the only game where I lost my warlord, as he proved incapable of breaking through Lelith Hesperax's 3+ invulnerable save. Once again, the Contemptors proved their worth, and even though one took a nasty pounding on turn 1 from the Reaver jetbikes heat lances, the other smashed its way up one whole flank of the Dark Eldar, with very little standing in its way. Pedro Kantor managed to clear the Incubi from my defensive line, and once again I took down much more of my opponent's army than they did mine. Sadly, once again I lost on maelstrom points, with a measly 3 points scored thanks to some truly awful cards (2 of those points came from defending an objective I started the game holding).

My final game was against my good buddy Ryan, and his Alpha Legion. Last time we played I'd beaten him, though he'd taken the Knight out of his list since then and it promised to be real tense game. So it proved, and with Ryan having deployed first, he grabbed the first turn. I then seized the initiative and proceeded to lay into his army with everything I could muster, doing quite a bit of damage. Sadly, I did so much on that first turn that I got a bit overconfident, pushing unsupported with some elements of my army to 'finish them off'. Yeah, that went badly and I had to scramble to stay in the game. I failed both charges I attempted with my Librarian and Vanguard when they arrived, and his daemon prince hung around a turn longer than it really should have done, putting paid to one of my contemptors. Unusually for this event, I actually also lost my lascannon devastator squad and my stormhawk, which up until then had proved pretty much untouchable. Things came to a head when the daemon prince died and his backup warlord (bloody Alpha Legion) charged Pedro Kantor. We'd agreed that would be the most cinematic thing to do, instead of hiding him and it kind of bit him back for it as the next turn I drew Kingslayer. Unfortunately, despite wounding him 5 times in combat (with the enemy on just 2 wounds left) Ryan passed 4 of his invulnerable saves (4+) and I rolled a 1 for damage from my power fist. Still, I picked up the point in the next turn once Kantor had fallen courtesy of a twin lascannon razorback. I scored much better in maelstrom in this game, but still eventually lost 15-11. Had a couple of other things gone my way or had I been as ruthless as I could have been I might have snatched the win (I pointed out to Ryan on turn 1 that I had 2 cards that would score me points for a failed morale check and he'd got a unit that would auto fail, so he used 2 command points to use insane bravery on the remaining model). All in all though, it was a great game with some cool moments, and I'm not bitter at all. No, really. Honest. I mean that. Completely and utterly.

When the dust settled, I had finished 17th out of 30. Not brilliant, but considering the way I had drawn maelstrom cards in my first two games not bad. I normally average about 13 maelstrom pts per game with the Dusk Knights. Those first two games combined I scored 6. Interestingly, Alex did note in his wrap up of the event that had the scoring system rewarded total points rather than margin of victory, I'd have placed 9th. Over the 3 games I'd managed to kill a total of 5,169pts of my enemy units, from a possible 6,000 (the third highest total of the day, both others belonging to guard lists), whilst I had lost only 3,417 myself. Overall then a good performance in that regard, just perhaps concentrating a little too much on killing stuff and not enough on scoring cards (though to be honest if you'd seen my card draws on the day, I think I achieved the majority of those that were even remotely possible). Looking over the results, I actually gave up more maelstrom points all bar one of the other players over the course of the day.

One final crumb of comfort, I was the highest placed of the three players using the space marine codex. with only one loyalist marine army (blood angels) finishing above me. Whilst that's not a huge amount of comfort, it does sort of validate how I feel about the book, which is that although it's very nice, and very balanced internally, it does lack a little punch in places, and the stratagems/psychic powers in particular are in my view given what we've seen since, a little underwhelming.

Where next?

Well, as ever there's a little hobby lull feeling after taking part in an event and I need to analyse properly what worked well and what didn't from my list. Overall though, I think I need to look at a few key points.
1. Maelstrom cards. We all know they're fickle and I just had one of those days (or two of those games to be precise) but there are things I can do with my list to address that. The list functions on the basis of a solid firebase, and only has a couple of mobile elements that could claim objectives. I think perhaps introducing another mobility element would be sensible, preferably something that has objective secured.
2. Model count. Not exactly a great barometer of the power of a list, but it was evident that once I started losing a few key elements, I didn't have too many models left on the board. Perhaps bulking the list out a bit wouldn't go amiss, and I'd then also have something to throw at opponents as a bit of a speedbump.
3. Precise balance of units. I use Pedro Kantor in the list a lot, and he's amazingly useful to really crank up the efficiency of my devastator units. He's expensive however, and as I've said in my codex review, his abilities sit across two different tactical styles, one to maximise attacking volume and another to buff shooting (in particular, he does also buff combat hitting as well). Dropping Pedro would probably give me another 70pts or so to play around with, which is not insignificant when talking about the margins in these kind of games. Similarly, whilst the vanguard are very cool, 182pts for a unit of 5 really hurts when you lose any of them, and perhaps I need to look at kitting them out with swords and storm shields rather than thunder hammers.

The Awards and Results

Ok so what happened in the tournament as a whole? Well, Guard did very well indeed (anyone surprised?) taking 5 of the top 6 places, albeit with some help from Grey Knights in one instance. Games are very brutal, with 13 tablings from the 45 games played. There were 4 armies presented for best army, with my good friend Toby Liddiard picking up best army for his high contrast Custodes, Ryan (my last opponent) and Dave Weston (you all know who he is) all beating my Dusk Knights in the final reckoning.

At the other end of things, the wooden spoon was also picked up by an Imperial Fists tactics marine player, so in that context, I did remarkably well! My first opponent Graham Saunders also picked up best conversion for some jellyfish venomthropes you'll see in my pictures.

Next up, will be my list analysis and redrafting post!

Till next time,