So today I completed the Solent 40k tournament with my Star Wars Guard army. Man that was a bruising experience...
My loss in the first game meant I avoided the cheese lists (Two Grey Knights armies entered this tournament, taking first and second place) but still I got my arse handed to me in the majority of games. I'll give a quick rundown of events here.
First though, a word on scoring. To avoid those ever so annoying cheeky wins where someone snatches the result with a well placed block on turn 5 when you know you could have tabled them turn 6, this tournament had a scoring system I had never seen before. You scored 3 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss. You scored at the end of turn 5... AND turn 6, AND turn 7. Meaning just cos you're losing on turn 5 you can still turn things around. Having seen how it played out, I'd have gone for 2,1,0 or 3,2,1 for the respective results but the theory I felt worked.
So, game 1. Take and Hold Spearhead. Up against 3 deffrolla battlewagons, 2 squads of grot tanks and the big grot tank. Mad Doc Grotsnik, 3 large squads of boyz, and of course the mek with KFF. That KFF ruined me. I could not get through it. By the end of the game I had managed, with 4 missile 5 melta 5 autocannon 5 plasmagun 3 multilaser and 3 twin linked lascannon... to kill one battlewagon, one big grot tank, and three little ones. The army just ploughed through me, especially the grot tank squad putting out 10 grotzooka shots. Painful! With hindsight, I could have lured Grotsnik away from the objective on turn 5 and got a turn 5 win instead of the draw... but turn 6 and 7 it would have been academic, he steamrollered through my forces and took both objectives, I had barely anything left alive.
Game 2 was against a guard player, Kill points pitched battle. One large platoon, 4 vet squads. 3 with forward sentries rule, 1 with demolitions riding a vendetta. Creed, Marbo, 5 ratlings. We got off to a bad start when the guy siezed the initiative on me and stopped my vendetta from shooting turn 1. Creeds orders system is very strong, with Kell making everyone test on his Leadership it's pretty much a guaranteed pass. I did spot he'd done a few things wrong with hindsight - once he's issued an order to himself he can't issue any more orders. Meaning when he "move move move" his command squad to get the LOS needed to "Bring it Down" on my stuff, he shouldn't have been able to do it. I'm also still not convinced you can use a vox to reroll when it's your own squad being ordered, but I'll let that one slide. This game was a very frustrating draw for me. I poured fire into his big unit (it was near the table edge and wanted to soften it up for my penal legion... both of which turned up on the wrong flank) but it held. He passed a stupid amount of cover saves even if they were at 3+. His ratlings held in the last turn, and both units of penal legion bounced off his veterans despite outnumbering him and having upgrades AND the charge. This game ended in a draw in all three turns, though in the end I'd only lost the vendetta, marbo, palpatine and 2 units of ratlings. In return i'd killed a vendetta, a chimera, a command squad, a veteran squad, marbo... and about 2 thirds of a 50 man blob platoon. Having my rough riders fail a pinning test at a critical time was quite costly too.
Game 3 was even worse. Kill points Spearhead this time, against Space Wolves. I deployed in two large blobs covering my rear quarter hugging cover, with the penal legion towards the flanks so that when his wolf scouts arrived, there was no way they could tie up either of my 50 man firebases in an unwinable combat. I got off to a bad start here, my vendetta failing it's cover save and dying to a single lascannon shot. But my turn 1 it seemed like I was gonna put up a hell of a fight, killing half the bikers with marbo and tearing through the thunderwolves with weight of fire (killed 4/5 and wounded the wolflord) However, turn 1 was where I peaked. After that I could NOT kill anything. By the end of turn 7 I was tabled. I had scored a single kill point, for a razorback. His dread had 5 penetrating hits to the rear from snipers - never more than stunned. His razorbacks had had 5 autocannons and 4 missile lanuchers a turn firing at him... in the end the only one to die died to a krak grenade. It was a massacre.
So having had a night to rest, I came back and braced myself - sieze ground, spearhead, but with special rules. All area terrain blocked LOS on a board with 12 pieces of area terrain (some small, some rather large, about 18" by 12" oval) and would either grant stealth or count as dangerous. So no LOS... and playing against Nids. Uh Oh. But this game went surprisingly well. I think my opponent put his doom of malantai in the wrong place, he tried to use it to clear one of the objectives to the flank and allow his stuff to claim - personally while I doubt he could have cleared me off the objective I had over 50 guardsmen sat on, putting a doom on front of them would have certainly caused me some problems. As it is, you fire enough lascannons at it he'll eventually go away, and he did. Everything went right this game - the Rough Riders charged a Trygon and ate it in one round. They then got charged by a Tervigon, and while they steadily lost, losing 1 or 2 per round, they kept passing the morale check needed to keep them in the fight, holding him off his objective. By the end of the game my opponent was reduced to 3 Biovores and the Tervigon, whilst I held all four objectives. A solid win.
My final game was again against Nids, Spearhead, with objectives placed in the quarters I couldn't deploy in and the centre. This was such a reversal compared to the last game. This time my opponent dropped a doom in front of me - and he promplty annihalated my entire firebase. Gradually, but he did. Every melta or missile shot bounced harmlessly off him (while naturally, the occassional las round got through, just to tease me, before he recovered the wound in the shooting phase.) My rough riders were charged and killed by a Gaunt squad. My penal Legion with +1A and Rending charged 6 Gaunts... and lost, failed the Stubborn Ld 8, and ran. My opponent held Gaunts and Stealers in cover till turn 5 then moved enough of them into the open to claim the objectives while retaining a cover save. Marbo tried to intervene towards the end, with 6 attacks hitting on 3's wounding on 2s I had high hopes. Hit twice. Wound twice. Save one. They then killed him in reply. Ouch. I did keep whittling him down, and while he annihalated my firebase my mobile troops had taken one objective and almost stole the centre one - 1 inch less on the Trygons run roll would have seen me claim a turn 7 victory, instead I had to settle for 5,6 loss 7 draw.
I came pretty close to the bottom of the table, I think I was about 12th out of 16, with 14 tournament points from a possible 45. The grey knight at the top had 43 - purifier lists are evil.
I did better in the Best Army stakes though... was finalised and was one of four armies being voted for. Eventually came second to the (admittedly beautifully painted) Wolf army that had given me such a kicking in Game 3 by one vote. So close! Especially infuriating was hearing one local lad saying that he would have voted for mine if it had been the first time he'd seen it, but as he'd seen it before down the local GW he was going to vote for something else. Shoulda kept it under wraps... :oP
Anyway, with Blog Wars 3 next Saturday The Empire has a chance to redeem itself... though given how well the Empire did in the third outing in the movies, perhaps I should prepare for my wooden spoon now...
Meanwhile, I have to prepare for a Storm of Magic game in our campaign at my local club tomorrow. It's a busy few days of wargaming...