Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gauntlet tournament 2005 aftermath

Before the results were announced, I felt that this was already my best showing in a tournament so far. I had achieved my objective of three wins out of three, picking up 85 out of a possible 90 battle points, I knew I'd do well in the painting scores, although I suspected I wouldn't win it, and I thought my army selection scores would be pretty high, as I had one HQ, Elites, Fast Attack and Heavy Support choice and four Troops choices. I was playing on the giddy heights of the top table for my third game and I beat my nearest rival. The only worry was that those dropped 5 battle points would allow a player from the second or third tables to catch me up and overtake me with their 'soft' scores.

I won the Tournament.

In the event, I was 10 points ahead of my nearest rivals in battle scores, I picked up the maximum 36 points in army selection and got a hefty 39 out of a possible 54 points for painting. That left me 15 points clear of second place. Sweet.

I duly went up on stage to collect my prizes. I received a Forgeworld wrecked Chimera terrain piece (really heavy), a £20 gift voucher (which I have put towards the start of a Witch Hunters army) and a framed certificate (reproduced below).

The Gauntlet 2005 winners certificate

The rest of my buddies from the Newcastle store showed strongly, too. Gary finished in the top half for the third year running with his Slaanesh Chaos Marine army, Wayne won all of his games to take sixth with his Tau and Morris stole second spot and (as predicted) the best painted army prize with his stunning Ultramarines.

The reasons I did so well in this tournament, compared to previous years, are many and varied.

First, was my choice of army. In 2003 I took a Radical Daemonhunters force, which was very fluffy but unlikely to win games. The list was too weak.

In 2004 I took Guard. Their list was stronger, and I got two wins, but it had exploitable weaknesses, most notably close combat.

This year I had Chaos Marines and their list is far stronger. It has no major flaws. I could compete with most armies in the shooting phase, I had quick, hard hitting assault elements and I had the durability of 3+ armour saves and re-rollable 10 leadership. Now I understand why so many people go for Marine armies.

The second reason was preparation. I thought about the mission carefully and played numerous practice games to test my ideas. The final list I took was radically different from my starting list. I began with an all-infiltrating, elite army but ended up with a hybrid, half-infiltrating force with more models and a drastically cheaper and weaker Lord. This was in contrast to my pal Gary who picked his army on a whim three weeks before the deadline and almost immediately regretted his decision. He still went on to win two out of three games, but he could have done better with a little tweaking.

One thing you can't win a tournament without is a bit of luck. I got this in my opponents armies, I reckon. I had never played Dark Angels in 4th edition but my opponent was fairly young and inexperienced so I took the game anyway.

Next I played Dark Eldar, an army I have faced numerous times with Gary as their general. I know how dangerous they can be but I also know how fragile they are. And I knew not to get caught out by their speed.

In my last game I faced the World Eaters. This is probably the army I have played the most number of games against over the years, as my long time foe, Gary, uses them as his main army. I am very familiar with their rules and know their weaknesses inside out.

The flip side of that good fortune was my abysmal 'pre-game' dice rolls. This began in my test games and didn't improve. I lost every roll to choose table quarters and lost every roll to determine first turn.

Additionally, I never got a single reserve unit in the second turn of any of my games despite 50/50 odds.

Ironically, losing the choice of table quarters turned out to be a good thing. That allowed me to deploy a unit first, and to push back the enemy deployment and give me more space on the table. I feel that the missions are one of the things that Games Workshop really got right with 4th edition, and little quirks like this help to even out those crucial early dice rolls.

All in all, though, it was a very enjoyable and memorable tournament for me. I must give a shout out to Gary Warriner for organising the tournament and putting up with lots of griping about the painting scores, and the rest of the Games Workshop staff for running around after us during the day.

Now then, when is the next tournament?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

CHAOS SPACE MARINES versus Chaos Space Marines - World Eaters

Game: Warhammer 40,000 4th edition, Gauntlet Tournament 2005 game 3
Opponent: Eric Hoath
Mission: Cleanse - Gamma level
1st turn: Chaos Space Marines - World Eaters
Points: 1000

One final apology for the general rubbishness of the photos, and then on with the show...

Chaos Space Marines - World Eaters
  • Tooled up Lord on Juggernaught
  • 3x8 Khorne Berzerkers
  • Dreadnought with 2 Close Combat Weapons

Terrain and Deployment
This type of table was exactly what I was expecting in terms of terrain before I came to the tournament. It was dead flat, with only three stands of trees towards the edges of the board, and one small rocky outcrop in the centre. Eric won the dice off to choose table quarters and after a lot of deliberation chose the one with most cover, containing two forests. In my opinion this was a mistake, as he would have to leave the cover to attack my army and I would have totally clear lines of sight between all of my shooty units.

The armies face off over a barren wasteland

As my opponent won the choice of deployment I got to set up the first unit. Squad Abraxar stepped up to the plate again and started front and forward, to push back the Khorne deployment. The World Eaters all set up centrally, as close to my army as possible. As you can see in the photo above, there was one Berzerker squad to my right of the wood, and two to the left, including the Lord. The Dreadnought was in the forest itself. It was clear that Eric's gameplan was simply to rush into my lines and overwhelm me in combat.

Squad Infractis infiltrates onto the left flank

I figured that the best way to win would be to spread out my units (ideally about 12" apart) so that even if the Berzerkers wiped out a unit, they would have to weather a round of shooting before initiating another assault. I ignored the infiltrate ability for Squad Imber and they began deep in my starting quarter, as did my Obliterators. With no indirect firers or heavy vehicles to worry about, I thought their extra firepower would be more useful from turn one.

Squad Profuge sneaked into a wood on my right. Ferocitor, my Lord, began behind the rocks in the centre of the table. Squad Krall went on the left of my starting quarter with Squad Infractis infiltrating beyond them, behind a wood on the extreme left of the table. I planned to bring the Furies on from Squad Infractis to capture the enemy deployment zone if I was doing well, otherwise they'd have to help defend my starting quarter.

Turn 1
Eric won first turn, and his Berzerkers did their thing, raging toward Squad Abraxar. Predictably, the Exigators squad was torn apart by the frothing madmen. On the left, one Khorne unit was drawn off to Squad Infractis, as they were nearer. Excellent, I was already beginning to break up the enemy assault.


To the surprise of my opponent I spurned two assaults this turn. I dropped Squad Infractis back into the corner of the table, hopefully out of assault range from the Berzerkers, and I pulled back Ferocitor. I just wanted to get as much shooting in as possible before the inevitable assault. In the shooting phase I managed to whittle down the lead Berzerker squad which had advanced into the rocks, and the unit the Lord had joined. I forgot to shoot Squad Profuge, as they were hidden in the forest and I couldn't see them. Arse.

Turn 2
Eric split his attack still further in turn two as he tried to threaten each of my squads.

The Khorne army presses it's attack on the Exigators

The lead Berzerkers failed (passed?) the rage and rolled low difficult terrain tests to leave them stranded on the central rocks. The Dreadnought followed behind. One Berzerker squad got it's running shoes on and broke right to assault Squad Profuge.

After two turns, and four assault phases, the Berzerkers finally cut down the Exigators for the cost of three Marines. The Lord and the Berzerkers he had joined split left and just failed to contact Squad Krall. Phew!

I shot pretty much everything I had at the Lord's squad and took them down to just one model. I even caused a lucky wound on the Lord.

Squad Infractis drops back and taunts the Berzerkers to attack

Meanwhile, on the left flank the Berzerkers failed to rage and got tangled up in the forest. That left them a tempting target for Squad Infractis. I stepped up, dropped one with bolt pistol fire and then got stuck in.

Combat is joined

It was a very even fight for several turns, with only a Marine or two falling in each round of combat. I really needed the Furies to show up and help swing the tide. They hadn't arrived on turn two, so they must show up in turn three, mustn't they?

My final assault was with Ferocitor. I charged him into the five Berzerkers on the rocks and took four of them down without taking a wound in return. Result!

Turn 3
This was a crucial turn for Eric as he was up against the ropes. His Dreadnought came up trumps for him and raged 12", right into the combat with Ferocitor. Now I was facing something like seven strength 10 attacks from the Dread and four strength 8 attacks from the Berzerker champion in my next assault phase. Ouch.

The Dreadnought rages 12" to take on Ferocitor

In the event, my five initiative allowed me to go first and I put all of my attacks onto the Dread. By this stage of the game our table was surrounded by onlookers and they waiting nervously for the result of my one penetrating hit. I got a four and destroyed the raging walker. Get in!

The Aspiring champion caused two wounds with his power fist, but I was still more than happy with the outcome.

The Khorne Lord kills everything he touches

Squad Krall weren't quite so lucky. The Khorne Lord smashed into them on the back of his Juggernaught, and slaughtered them to a man.

Turn 4
With the fall of Squad Profuge, Eric had a virtually full squad of Berzerkers to sic on Ferocitor. My Lord went down under a flurry of chainaxe blows, although he managed to drag three Marines down with him. That left the Berzerkers out in the open in front of Squad Imber, and they were reduced to a single model.

Ferocitor pays the price for his valiant counter attack

The Khorne Lord took a lascannon shot to the face from the Obliterators, and that ended any lingering hope of a comeback for the Berzerker army. The Obliterators pushed on into the table quarter on my right and claimed it for the Exigators.

That's a big dead pile

My Furies had arrived on the left and that allowed me to finally overwhelm the Berzerkers on that flank. Squad Infractis claimed this left quarter and I went to move the Furies into my opponents starting quarter. I was stopped by my opponent, though, who said that the game had ended because his army had been wiped out.

I was absolutely stunned. I was sure the rules said nothing about the game ending automatically upon the destruction of a force and that proved to be the case. Still, Eric insisted, so we turned to the judges. They said the rules were unclear and we had to dice for it. Eric won, so I had officially scored a Decisive Victory, rather than a Victorious Slaughter. Unbelievable!

Result: Win - Decisive victory

Learning points
  • I have to say that this little episode at the end threatened to spoil what had been my favourite game of the tournament. Otherwise, Eric had been a good, solid opponent, with a decent knowledge of the rules which meant we could actually get on and play the game quickly. In the event I decided to just 'suck it up.' I had won all three of my games, which had been my target at the start, and I knew I was in with a good chance to win the whole tournament anyway.
  • I was really optimistic when I saw the table and opposing army for my final game. The lack of terrain meant I had a massive advantage as a mainly shooty army, and I have played against Khorne armies numerous times, so I knew their strengths and weaknesses. Eric played right into my hands with his choice of table quarter and splitting his army during the game, so it was all pretty straightforward. He had no long range fire support and no really quick units (like Flesh Hounds) so his army was pretty one dimensional.