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 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?