11 March 2012

Bay Area Open Day 2

Ugh. Sunday morning at 9am came wayyyy too early. Why doesnt anyone want to start a tournament at noon?

Round 5 - Here come the Grey Knights, played by Mike Oade from Reno.
Hes a regular at our tournaments in Sacramento and I like him even though hes a filthy traitor for switching from Blood Angels to Grey Knights. Our game started off slow, with Mike and I trading long range shots and jockeying for position. Since the center of the board was dominated by a big LOS-blocking terrain piece, I decided to focus on one half and execute a hard right hook. I had the range advantage and he was relying on Rhinos, plus I was able to tie up 2 of his Psyfleman dreads with my Furiosos. My Flamestorm Predator made a late drive across the back table edge after outflanking on the wrong side, and my Furiosos were fairly ineffectual but served to occupy Mike long enough for me to hold position on the objectives. Mephiston sold himself dearly, falling to a squad of paladins but only after killing off a Strike squad and Coteaz and holding up the center of the board. The game ended and I got another win to move to 4-0-1.

Round 6 - Christian (seen here in pink) and his undefeated IG. It was a brutal list and a very bad matchup for me. Christian had been on table 1 for 3 rounds by this point and by all accounts was on a serious roll; he had already beaten some tough lists and great players. We started off in opposite corners and I had most of my army in reserve - I knew my Razorbacks wouldnt last long against the hail of Hydra fire. His Vendettas worked over my autolas predators, and I sent my Furiosos down to hopefully break up his parking lot, but as is often the case with IG they have tons of expendable guns so the damage I was doing wasnt really having an effect, and I cant afford to play the attrition game. My outflanking TLAC Baal Predator had a moment of glory when it came on in outflank with a 12" ram that destroyed a Hydra and simultaneously shot another in the rear, blowing one of the weapons off. It wasnt a bad game, nor is Christian a bad opponent, hes actually a good guy and a smart player - there just wasnt much maneuver or tactical wizardry going on. His Hydras threw buckets of dice at me, his Vendettas kinda shifted around to get their shots off, and I did my best to break up his formations and do damage but my army was outclassed. Oh well, can't win em all!

Round 7 - Josh Sellers and more Grey Knights. Stormraven with Purifiers and Coteaz (that guy was pulling double duty at BAO), two Psyflemen (one venerable), two Dreadknights, and some Razorbacks - not the usual but still dangerous. My opponent was Josh Sellers, and we were both mentally exhausted by this point so Im sure we made a ton of mistakes but who cares! We both pushed our models around, rolled some dice, and had a ton of fun. I started by moving up to midfield behind cover and getting in position - I had the advantage of weight of fire. He countered by moving his two Dreadknighs up, but lost one to shooting and one to Mephiston. The remainder of his army was clustered behind cover so I started laying into him without actually doing much. His Stormraven weathered 3 full turns of shooting and still managed to kill an Autolas Predator, immobilize another, and dump off the Purifiers and Coteaz in Mephiston's face. Fortunately I survived and eventually killed them all off, just in time to double back and take out Buddy Cop - Josh had a 2 man henchman squad with no gear walk on from reserve and almost manage to take a midfield objective. My drop pods were blazing away at him but I couldnt kill them! Those 2 models huddled in a crater for like 3 turns with bullets flying overhead, so I had to send Mephiston to kill them. Things had gotten exceedingly silly by that time, and we were both delirious. the game ended in a draw, which was fine by me. Josh, we need a rematch!
So ends my Bay Area Open adventure. My final record was 4 wins, 1 loss, and 2 draws. I ended up taking 14th place out of 92 and received the 'Best Blood Angels' award, and even though my army wasnt painted (booo) I got some good feedback and compliments. If I could change anything about my army.....I dont know. The Baal Predators die almost every game and don't do a ton of damage, but theyre such a huge threat and I am kinda rough on them. In more than one game I had a Baal Predator alive and in a position to threaten homefield objectives.

All in all I had a really good time - Reece, Will, and Frankie did an excellent job running everything, and I'll be heading back next year!

06 March 2012

Bay Area Open Day 1

I attended the Bay Area Open in Antioch, CA this weekend. I had a fantastic time, from hanging out with a horde of other tournament goers at the local FLGS Gamers Guild to the tournament itself. It was my first major tournament since TSHFT in Seattle last year; I was a little rusty but 40K is like riding a bike, right?

My Blood Angels list is 3 Autolas Predators, 2 Baal Predators (1 TL Assault Cannon, 1 Flamestorm), 2 naked 5 man squads in TL Assault Cannon Razorbacks, a 10 man assault squad in Drop Pod with 2 meltaguns and a powerfist, and 2 Blood Talon Furioso Dreadnoughts in Drop Pods. Oh yeah, and Mephiston. Can't forget him. I tend to play aggressively, with the Furiosos coming down first turn in your face with AV13 saturation. The Autolas predators are without question the MVPs, and usually the Baal Predators die but do a good deal of damage. Mephiston is my insurance policy, he tends to hang back and protect my base of fire until about mid game when the enemy squads are weakened and then he's really a wrecking ball. My record with the Furioso dreads was 21 kills in one turn, against a 30 strong Ork boy squad that whiffed with their Powerklaw and ended up getting run down. Brilliant!

My first game was against Brian Merino and his Dark Eldar. Brian is a good guy and it was nice to be able to start the day against someone who was able to laugh and didnt take things too seriously. I'm never all the way awake for the first round of a tournament, and I tend to not be at 100% yet.

Brian had a fully mechanized army, with 3 Ravagers and a handful of blasters in Venoms and Wych Raider squads. I wasn't really scared of any one part, but all together it was pretty daunting to sit across from. He started off the first turn with a bang and I was playing defensively from the start,hugging the back table edge and trying to avoid the world's biggest multi-charge. However, Dark Eldar are notoriously fragile and over the course of the game I managed to retain a slim lead in Kill Points. Mephiston really shined late and took out some critical targets, and the Autolas Predators were all-stars, managing to put down enough of Brian's AV10 to keep me in the game.

After having held no objectives over the course of the game, I clawed back and managed to get a draw - not a bad way to start the tourney! Brian was on the table next to me for most of the tournament, so he ended up doing well and damn if he didnt deserve it. Totally nice guy and a pleasure to play!

Round 2, John Johnston from Sacramento and his Godzilla Orks. I predicted this matchup before the round, and we had a good laugh when pairings were announced. John and I go wayyyy back from the Contest of Champions at Great Escape Games, and over the 6 or 7 years I have been playing against him I have really noticed his improvement both in playing ability and in painting/modelling skills. If you get a chance, check out his amazing custom built Godzilla Deff Dreds - they are beautiful.

I had the first turn in this game and started off with an aggressive scout move from the Baal Predators. I moved them right up in front of his two 30 man Ork Boy squads, daring him to take the bait. I sent my Furiosos and Mephiston up to mid table to support, and then played the long shooting game. John uses Ghazghkull and Snikrot in a mob of Kommandos, (which I always give him a hard time about), so I knew I had to space out and not let him get a big multi charge off plus force him to call his Waaaagh to get a charge off. Once Ghaz lost his 2++
save, I doubled Mephiston back to finish him off. A good game against a great guy, who I am happy to play against any time - a total class act and a perfect example of someone who hobbies and games the right way. I got a win in this one, and promised John and his wife Christine dinner on me - maybe in typical cunning Orky fashion he let me win on purpose? :)

Round 3 - Paul McKelvey and his Tau. Paul and I finished 1-2 at a minor tournament in Stockton a few months back, and I had been interested in playing his Tau since then. Not only is Paul a really nice guy with a great attitude, he's a smart player who makes the most of an army I tend to view as weak and ineffectual. Paul uses a Positional Relay to manipulate the reserves rules early on and then brings his remaining units on late in the game, capping objectives and getting late kill points.

My game with Paul was cat and mouse, with his commander and some minor units hiding in one corner while I used LOS blocking terrain to hide from a Broadside team - not much happened in the first 4 turns but when he moved the bulk of his army on in turn 5 it was pretty devastating - he gained a lead in kill points, contested my Capture and Control objective, and was in position to not only sweep me off the Seize Ground objectives but do serious damage to my army that I wouldnt be able to recover from that late in the game. As fate or luck would have it, in the bottom of 5 I managed to even the score on kill points with some very efficient firepower and get his Crisis suits off my Cap and Control objective. I had 4 marines from my 10 man squad rally and move back into position to regain a lead in Seize Ground and rolled a 1 to end the game. To be perfectly honest I doubt I would have been able to win had the game continued but the dice worked against him, and his strategy somewhat backfired.

OK, so Im 3-0-1 at this point and heading to table 6. In my head I'm thinking I am going to be facing top lists and players, and round 4 didn't disappoint - I faced off against Dave Fay and his Black Templars. 3 squads of 3 Typhoon speeders, 3 units of 5 Terminators with Cyclones and Tank Hunters, an Emperor's Champion, and 2 five man Crusader squads - that's a nasty list.

Dave has been at the top of other large tournaments and was ranked very highly nationally at one point or another, so he knows what hes doing. He plays very methodically, and knows his rules inside and out - all in all a really strong opponent and a good guy to boot. The game started off poorly for me as Mephiston charged a squad of Terminators turn 1 (Dawn of War deployment) - you would think they'd be easy pickings for Meph with no storm shields, right? You'd be wrong, cause Dave made 5 invul saves and beat Mephiston down in return. Thats a bad start to a game.

Dave went on the offensive, laying down 30 krak missiles a turn and doing some serious damage. At the end of turns 5 and 6, we were looking at a draw or a loss for me but he couldnt get the game to end and I stuck it out, pulling out a lead in Kill Points when the last Terminator bit it and I finally peeled the Land Speeder off my Cap and Control objective. Dave looked surprised when we totaled up the final score, I really think he had it in the bag - his exceptionally methodical and exacting play slacked off somewhat in the middle of the game and let me stay within striking distance. The game going 7 full turns helped me, as did Dave's bizarre dice - he could make 5 invul saves or a long range shot at my Flamestorm Baal Predator but missed easy rolls like Terminator armor saves and a critical Break check on a 9. Overall an excellent tactical player and I can appreciate his by the book approach to the game.

Ending the day 3-0-1 was pretty sweet - I didnt expect to do as well as I was doing, not having played competitively in about a year and up against 4 strong opponents. The mission structure at BAO works very well, it lets you focus on what you can win and what you cant win, and gives you the flexibility to use your army in different ways depending on how the game is going and who your opponent is.

Highlights from Day 2 coming soon!