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!