Friday, September 12, 2014

SIsters of Battle vs. Chaos Marines, 750 points

I got another game of 40K played last Friday (Sep. 5, 2014) with my buddy Devon.  He had acquired a bunch of new Chaos units from another good friend (Russ, he of the Celesticon tournament). We upped the points value to 750, which is still pretty manageable for noobs like us.

This post again features unsightly pictures of unpainted miniatures. You have my apologies, but we are both working on our new armies whenever we get the chance. As I've just signed up for Geek Nation Tours Adepticon trip for 2015, I will definitely be getting these Sisters up to fully painted status asap. 

We played another Maelstrom of War mission.  Deployment was long-ways, with six mysterious objectives placed. We'd get 3 objective cards per turn, which we kept hidden from our opponents.  Devon won the roll off and deployed first. With his new Defiler staring me down I had to cluster my small army into two ruins to avoid his Line of Sight. There was no place for my proxy Exorcist (subbed in from my old Dark Angels army) to hide, so it would have to just rely on it's 13 front armor and cover save.

Big shot of the table:
Sisters on the left flank, hiding in a ruined chapel (does anyone recognize this building? A no-prize for the first one to guess correctly)
Sisters on the right flank.
A unit of Possessed, Daemon Prince (Warlord) and a unit of Cultists
The Defiler (!)
A unit of regular Chaos Marines (5) in a rhino
 The Chaos army got the first turn and all units except for the Defiler pelted it for the Sisters' deployment zone:
My new Dominion squad bravely stepped out into the open and fired their flamer and 3x meltaguns on the Possessed. The flamer actually killed one and a melta-gun got another.
 On Devon's turn, his Possessed returned the favor, firing their bolt pistols and killing two out of the Dominion squad. This ended up working against him, as when it came time to charge he rolled a '4', but his squad had 'Rage' or whatever the special rule is that allows a re-roll on one of the Charge dice. He rolled again. New total: 5 inches. Just out of range. D'oh!
Ultimately, it didn't end up costing him much, as the Dominion squad moved past the Possessed to try and execute the already wounded Daemon Prince.  They failed utterly to accomplish this and the Daemon Prince charged in and wiped them out easily.  Meanwhile the Possessed moved up and charged the Canoness.  A long, drawn-out battle would ensue in which the Canoness would eventually fall, but it took several rounds of combat to get there. The Daemon Prince would fall victim to the Multi-melta of the Sisters squad occupying the ruined chapel.
My Seraphim squad had managed to thread the needle of Possessed and Daemon Prince and landed in front of the Cultists, hand-flamering 9/10ths of the squad.  The lone survivor ran off and the Seraphim capped Objective #2. They were looking like prime targets for the Defiler, however.
On my right flank, the Chaos Marines had zoomed up to the ruin containing the Retributors with Heavy Bolters, backed up by my second Sisters troop squad.  The Marines jumped out of the rhino, but couldn't charge, so were subjected to a round of shooting that killed off 2. The remnants charged on the following turn, and as with the Canoness it took several rounds of pushing and shoving for the combat to be decided.  The weight of numbers the Sisters brought to the battle eventually saw the Marines defeated (and the Multi-melta glanced the Rhino to death, with assistance from the Exorcist).
The Seraphim squad made a miraculous triple-6 invulnerable save when they suffered a direct hit from the Defiler. They then made a dash from Objective #2 to #1, grabbing another VP.
Right after this, I got a card for Objective #1 again. So, back they went to secure that objective again. They'd pressed their luck repeatedly throughout the game and their number was finally up.  The Defiler hit them again and wiped out the whole unit in one shot. Boom!

The Sisters had made an insane number of armor and invulnerable saves through the early and mid-game, but probability snapped back into place by the game's end. I'd lost the Dominions, Seraphim, Canoness and a few Sisters from each of the Troop squads. About 50% or so.  Chaos had lost everything except the three Possessed. We're unsure now if the Defiler survived or not.  I glanced/penetrated it's armor at least 3 times, possibly 4.  

Either way, the final score was 6vp to 5vp in favor of the Adepta Sororitas. It was a closer game than it felt, with most of the carnage favoring the Sisters, but when it came down to VPs, it was really close. If those Seraphim had suffered a direct hit earlier in the game, Chaos would have won.

We've got more games planned for the immediate future. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Celesticon 2014 Daemon Skull 40K tournament

I haven't played in a 40K tournament in about 10 years and I haven't broken that streak... yet. 

Back in the late '90s and early 2000's Warhammer 40K was practically the only game I played, but I eventually moved onto other games and miniatures rules and have only recently returned to playing 40K this summer. I don't intend to rejoin the tournament scene in the way I did back in the old days (back when Games Workshop ran their Grand Tournaments, which were a blast to attend), but I can see myself participating in the smaller events, like Combat Patrol or Zone Mortalis-style games.

A good friend of mine, Russ, has kept up with 40K tournaments and invited me to join him at Celesticon to check out the Daemon Skull 40K event run by Doc Dragon. I loitered a little, taking pictures, but mostly I tried to stay out of the way and not distract the players from their games.

I was impressed with the overall quality of painting on the armies I saw there. When I was an active tourney player, I never saw an airbrushed army; it just wasn't done back then. There were lots of airbrushed vehicles and large robots in evidence on the day and I enjoyed getting the opportunity to see them up close. 

I can remember judging the army painting at a 50-player tournament many years ago and being disappointed to find that only *two* of the armies entered showed real evidence of effort and TLC put into them. Unfortunately, one of them included purchased units painted by a third party, so in that case, Best Painted was a no-brainer. There were plenty of armies in the Celesticon tournament that showed effort put into them. I think there was a clear winner for Best Painted (although I didn't stick around for the awards to find out), but the percentage of "nice" and "really nice" armies was pleasantly high.

I took shots of things in an, "ooo, shiny!" manner as it has been so long since I've played.  I'd never seen an Eldar Wraithknight or Tau Riptide in person before. Games Workshop puts together some amazing stuff these days.

Kudos to all the players in the event; it looked like everyone was enjoying themselves. Now onto the photos. Apologies for the blurry ones:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Seaside Slaughter III, Blood Bowl tournament report

Seaside Slaughter III, Blood Bowl tournament @ Pacifica, CA, USA. August 24th, 2014

The Seaside Slaughter Blood Bowl tournament was back! A little later in the year than previously held, but as BB tournaments are so far and few between in Northern California, I don’t care where it lands on the calendar,  I’d go ANY-time.  Blood Bowl is by far my favorite tabletop game and I’ll take any chance I get to play. I was attending along with friends David (Undead), Bill (Skaven) and Russ (Skaven). This was a 3-round tournament with 8 coaches participating.

I brought back my Chaos Dwarf team, the “Gorgoth Black Daggers” which I’d started using at Seaside Slaughter II. The team build was 1.1 million gold with a choice of skill packages to add to your players. If you’re interested, you can see the rules here:

My team consisted of 2x Bull Centaurs, 1x Minotaur, 6x Chaos Dwarfs, 3x Hobgoblins, 2x Re-rolls, 1x Fan Factor.

My skill choices were:
Bull Centaur w/Block
Bull Centaur w/Break Tackle
Chaos Dwarf with Guard
Chaos Dwarf with Leader*
Minotaur with Block*
Hobgoblin with +1 Move
* = doubles skill

Game One was vs. a Vampire team, the “Ottoburg Sinisters,” coached by a regular league coach, Lee T.  Lee brought a 6-Vampire roster with 7 Thralls and 2 re-rolls (and no “Leader” chosen in his skill package). I hadn’t played a game against Vampires before and as I had backed the recent Willy Miniatures Indiegogo campaign for their new Vamp team, I was happy to get the chance to see how they played.

11,000 fans turned up for the match, with Black Dagger fans slightly outnumbering the Sinister Supporters, so the Chaos Dwarfs had FAME +1. The weather was nice that day (and all tournament for me) and the Vampires chose to kick off after winning the coin toss.

I knew that focusing on taking out Thralls was the key to defeating a Vampire team, as once the Thralls were gone, the Bloodlust1 vulnerability of the Vampires would be their undoing.

I had a good first half, with three Thralls removed as casualties and two Vampires KO’d. I did benefit from Lee’s bad luck at key moments: after receiving, I had built my cage around the ball and moved up the left side, pushing deep into his half of the pitch.  Lee hypnotic-gazed two of the cage corners, blitzed my ball carrier with a 3rd Vampire and sent a 4th in to the steal the ball and dodge away.

With my Dwarfs so far into his half of the pitch, I would never be able to catch him before he scored.  Fortunately, he chose to dodge his ball carrier past my Minotaur on the line of scrimmage, tripped, stunned himself and dropped the ball. I was able to recover the ball with a Bull Centaur (Drago) and score on Turn 8.  Phew!

It also has to be said that Lee rolled a ‘1’ for his Hypnotic-Gaze attempts four times in a row during the first half and at least 1-2 more failed Gazes in the second half.  This, of course, was in addition to the occasional Bloodlust rolls that would come up and mess with his plans; sometimes at key moments. More than once he Bloodlusted on his Blitz! Action. Vampires are hard enough to play already, it doesn’t help to fail 2/3rds of your hypno-gaze rolls.

The two KO’d Vampires politely stayed Knocked Out following the Half-time show, so Lee had to set up with just 8 players (4 Vamps, 4 Thralls) for the second half. The aforementioned Bloodlust/Hypno-fail shenanigans continued.  I helped out by triple-skulling with my Minotaur (Kelgore the Bloodmad, who cried and flailed on the ground for a few turns) and a Hobgoblin got mauled by a Vampire late in the game, but ultimately I was able to get the ball away and score on Turn 16 with Barukh, my other Bull Centaur.

So, Game 1 ended in a 2-0 victory to the Black Daggers, and as I’d out-casualtied 3-1, I managed to pick up max tournament points (24).

1The Vampire team has two player types: Thralls, which are basically human linemen with AV7, and the Vampires who are excellent at everything, except for their “Bloodlust” weakness.  Each time a Vampire activates, they have to roll a d6: on a result of ‘1’ they are subject to Bloodlust which means at the end of their activation they have to be standing next to a Thrall and then roll for Injury on the Thrall (no armor roll, just see if they’re stunned/KO/killed).  If the Vampire DOESN’T end its move next to a Thrall, they run into the crowd to feed on someone, going to the Reserves box until the next Kick-off.

Game Two vs. Undead, the “Inglestot Immortals

This game was vs. my good friend David, aka “Laughing Ferret”, the commission painter with many years of BB experience.  I think he has painted all 24 teams at least once and some of them several times over now.  I was glad to get paired up with him as he lives 2-3 hours away and we rarely get to sit across the table from each other.  Plus, I’d get a closer look at his latest team: an Orc-themed Undead team.  His Ghouls were “goblin ghosts” while the Mummies were really imposing Black Orc Flesh Golems.  These come from a third-party manufacturer, although I can’t remember which. He also had converted an Orc star player version of, “Hack Enslash.”

Here’s a (blurry) shot of the team on their graveyard dugout:

And his skill choices:
2 Mummies with block
3 Ghouls with block, wrestle, sure hands
Wight with +1 move.

Following our win in Game One, the fans came out in droves and the Black Daggers enjoyed FAME +2.  We also won the coin toss and looking at the Mummies and chainsaw Star player, I chose to receive and hope that I could do some early damage to mitigate the beating I saw coming my way.

Fortunately, that’s exactly how it played out: I was able to get a casualty on one of his Mummies on Turn One with the Bull Drago, then send my cage up the left side, as in Game One.  The casualties continued in my favor throughout the first half, as Kelgore the Bloodmad crowd-surfed one Ghoul and smashed another into the astro-granite, while a Chaos Dwarf (Zhorgrath) casualtied a Wight (who regen-ed).
I scored in Turn 8 with a Hobgoblin, although David did make me work for it. I had a good stalling cage situation going, but he sent an annoying Ghoul dodging into my tackle zones and blitzing my ball carrier over 3 turns.  I think the Ghoul’s name must be, “Dodgy Dodgerson” as his ability to Dodge without needing rerolls into multiple tackle zones was flawless.

Following my TD, David would have to set up his chainsaw on his Turn 8 and with no Bribes, he’d be ejected after only one turn on the pitch. Totally worth his hiring fee.  ;-)  He did try to get max value out of that one turn, with a Foul attempt at something like +7?? It only resulted in a Stun, though, so lucky me.

After half-time, David set up with a heavy emphasis on his right side, leaving the left wide open… so naturally that’s where the Kick-off landed (a Blitz! result at this point would have been devastating):
Kelgore the Bloodmad continued his killing spree, taking out a Skeleton and a Wight. I was able to steal the ball away and score on my Turn 14 with a Hobgoblin. With only seven players to set up and two turns to score (with a single Ghoul on the pitch), it was Mission Impossible time for David. I’ve seen him do it before (first-hand. More than once.), but it didn’t happen for him this time and the game ended with another Black Dagger victory: 2-0.  I also picked up 5 Casualties to his 1, so I again got max tournament points.  Man of the match is tough to choose here, as Kelgore got 3 casualties and crowd-surfed for a 4th, but Drago took out the Mummy on Turn One, which was really instrumental in swinging the game in my favor.

Regardless, it was a fun game and David was a great opponent, as always.

Game Three vs. Undead, the “Dead Boys

This was the game that would decide the winner of Seaside Slaughter 3, as my opponent Stephen had also won both his previous games, although I’m not sure if he’d maxed the tourney points in each.

Detour: Rant ahead

I want to pause for a moment and say that his team roster was super-confusing as each player had a random 2-digit number… which I’ve just now realized is because all his players are named after NFL players and he used their real-life team numbers. When you’ve got player numbers like: 55, 58, 32, 20, 5, 66, 62, etc. you can’t expect your opponent to keep track of which guy is which and what skills they have. It’s not as if the miniature named after Ronnie Lott looks even remotely like the real man, so how am I supposed to associate that random number with anything? Many times during the game we would have to pause as I went down his roster print-out, find the players (that were listed in no discernable order) and then decipher his crossed-out and re-written skill choices. All the figures were painted identically, so the only thing he’d done that helped was color-coded the bases to player types (Ghouls had purple bases, Blitzers = orange, etc.); I’d know what type of player that was, but not what his skills were.

I found this annoying, as Blood Bowl is already a complicated game; playing to a time limit and/or in a tournament setting heightens the potential for confusion. Do what you can to make it clear to your opponent which players are which and what skills they have. It’s not hard.  Use skill rings, or paint skills on the base, or as I’ve done a few times, print out the skills and apply them to the base. Number your players 1-16.  If you really *must* go with two digits, then use a system an opponent can follow. Number your linemen sequentially: 21-26, your Blitzers 11-14, etc. Something logical. When you print out your roster, group your player types together, for example: all Blitzers at the top, then all linemen, then the next player-type, with Big Guys and Stars at the bottom.  Arrange them however you prefer, but just putting them in randomly doesn’t help anyone, including yourself. There were several moments in the game where he didn’t know his own skills.

Okay, with that said, I want to make it clear that Stephen is a very nice guy, enjoyable to play against and I’m not suggesting he did any of these things on purpose to obfuscate his players’ skills from his opponents. I suspect he just didn’t give it much thought beforehand.

Rant over.

Unfortunately, I took a break from writing this blog post and am now coming back to it over a week later (closer to two!) so my memory is somewhat less firm on this particular match.  Luckily, I take notes during games. :-)

The Dead Boys brought more fans to the championship match and gained FAME +1. The Weather was good and the Gorgoth Black Daggers won the coin toss, electing to receive.  Once again, looking at all the strength on that Undead team, I wanted to have my opportunity to whittle them down early, even if it meant kicking off in the second half.

No casualties were caused on Turn One, but “Kirgund” the Chaos Dwarf (#6) took out a Skeleton, “Baker” (#62) in Turn Three. I can’t remember the specifics of this drive, but “Hagla” the Hobgoblin (#9, +MV) scored his first touchdown of the tournament on Chaos Dwarf Turn Eight. The Dead Boys couldn’t score in one turn, so the whistle blew and we were at Halftime.

The Dead Boys’ Necromancer was racing back and forth in the Undead “Infirmary” as 5 players had been Knocked Out and the other Skeleton (“O’Dowd” # 66) had seriously injured himself on a Dodge attempt. The Black Daggers had taken 7 players off the field! The Necromancer was able to revive two in the Infirmary and get them back out on the pitch. The Dead Boys would have to receive with only 7 players in the second half. It hadn’t all gone the Daggers’ way however, as Durgal the Chaos Dwarf (#5) had also been Knocked Out and wasn’t able to stop his head from spinning. Groag One-Tooth (Hob #12) would sub in for Durgal.

The Dead Boys set up to receive in an unusual fashion, with the Mummies positioned in the wide zones, rather than in base contact with Dagger players on the line of scrimmage. You can see his halftime setup in the photo below, which also shows that one Zombie and two Ghouls are in the KO box, along with the two Skeletons in the Casualty/Dead box.

A shifty Ghoul was able to score on the Dead Boys Turn 11 and the game was tied 1-1. As the clock was winding down it was nervous times for both teams, but on the final Chaos Dwarf turn “Hagla” scored his second touchdown of the tournament and secured his spot as “Hobgoblin of the match.” The Gorgoth Black Daggers had won it, 2-1 with 1 Casualty for and none against.

Stephen was a nice opponent; we had a good time fighting it out and he made me work for the victory (with the exception of setting his Mummies up wide at the kickoff, which still puzzles me). I was sweating bullets those last several turns, knowing I had to score and hoping the dice wouldn’t betray me (all praise Lord Nuffle, God of Blood Bowl dice).

With this victory (20 points) I’d gone 3-0 for the tourney, picked up 68 points + 12 more for painting and sportsmanship.  I’d won! Huzzah! Not something I’m accustomed to by any stretch of the imagination. I won the Stunty Cup at the first Seaside Slaughter and I once won a super-small Streetbowl tournament, but never an actual overall Bloodbowl tournament. The trophy will sit proudly on my bookshelf at home.  Thanks very much to the tournament organizers.  My friends and I are discussing starting a tournament (or two) of our own to reciprocate, as we all had such a good time.

The cherry on top of such a fun day: there was a GW Nurgle’s Rotters team still on the store shelves available for sale! 2+ years out of print and at store with a dedicated Blood Bowl league? Amazing. I used my store gift certificate and nabbed that box asap! I’ve never played with or against a Nurgle team in over a decade and while I know they’re not one of the better teams, I’m up for the challenge. 

This turned out to be an epic blog post. Probably why I don’t update too often.  Every time I start writing, it turns into a novella.  ;-)  Thanks for reading!