Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Sour Grapes of Frustration

I headed up to the tourney at the Game Preserve in Lafayette today with a new list and some high hopes. In the end though, I had a less than stellar time. I placed 10th out of eleven with a draw and two losses. Which wouldn’t have been so bad had there not been some frustrations involved. One of my 3 games was an absolute joy. But there were issues with 2 of my opponents. And after thinking about it, I really don't think that the tourney itself was at all fair to non-marine players.

Here’s what I took:

HQ Command Platoon:
85 - Command Squad w/JO(Honorifica Imperialis), Meltagun, Mortar

Infantry Platoon 1:
111 - Command Squad w/JO (plasma pistol, carapace), flamer, 3 Meltaguns, Light Infantry, Sharpshooters
95 - Infantry Squad w/Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher, Light Infantry
95 - Infantry Squad w/Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher, Light Infantry

Infantry Platoon 2:
61 - Command Squad w/JO (Bolter & CCW), Meltagun, Mortar
85 - Infantry Squad w/Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher
85 - Infantry Squad w/Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher
38 - 5-Man Remnant Squad w/Grenade Launcher

53 - Sentinel w/Heavy Flamer, Smoke Launcher, Hardened Fighters

53 - Sentinel w/Heavy Flamer, Smoke Launcher, Hardeded Fighters

72 6 Rough Riders w/Veteran Sgt. (Hunting Lance and CCW), Hunting Lances

Heavy Weapons Platoon
91 - Command Squad w/JO (Bolter and CCW), 4 Plasma Guns, Light Infantry
130 - Anti-Tank Squad w/3 Lascannons, Light Infantry, Sharpshooters
120 - Anti-Tank Squad w/3 Lascannons, Sharpshooters

198 - Leman Russ Demolisher w/Hull Lascannon, Sponson Heavy Bolters, Smoke Launchers, Improved Comms

128 - Basilisk w/Indirect Fire, Smoke Launchers

The Arrival:

When I first called to sign up, I was told to be there by 10am. I walked in at 9:45 and everyone was just standing around talking. So I started unpacking my army and placing it on my carry board. I didn't know when we were going to start the first game, but I wanted to be ready.

I had just finished putting everything out when 10am hit and the staff called out the table assignments. They then immediately started the 2 hour game clock. Maybe the organizer felt he had to do it that way to avoid delays. But the effect was that everyone started frantically running about and trying to get their armies out and ready to play. In the end, I wish he had at least waited until everyone had gotten their stuff over to the proper table.

Game One: Chaos (Mr. Slow) - 2nd Place Winner
Mission: Seize Ground

I thought I had done well by getting unpacked early, but my first opponent hadn't gotten anything out at all yet. By the time he got settled and we finished deployment, half an hour had gone by. By the time we got through our first turn, half of our 2-hours was gone. Some of that was due to the organizer starting the clock before everyone was ready. But much of it was due to my opponent taking waaaaaaay too long to complete his turns.

Now Mr. Slow was a really nice guy. And I feel bad complaining about him. But dammit, turns should not take this long during a tourney. He was a good player, but he was just getting back into the game, and it showed. It seemed like every other thing we did required him to look something up or call over the judge to make a call. In addition, his 12 year old son was playing on the next table over and he would regularly go over there to answer a question or give some advice. Had this not been a tournament I wouldn't have had any problem with his pace. It was fine for a 3-hour game. But the clock ran out at the top of turn 4 during my shooting phase, giving us a draw.

Here's where it stopped:

As you can see, we each held one objective with 2 contested. Which gave us a draw. Now look at the objective closest to the camera. He's sitting just in front of the objective with a unit of assault marines inside a Rhino he moved 12" in a mad dash at the end of turn 3. There are FOUR guard infantry units and a unit of Rough Riders surrounding him. The Rhino is actually dead. A lascannon blew it up a minute before the clock ran out. The infantry units are perfectly poised to
charge the survivors and pull them off the objective. With the Rough Riders as backup. Here's how that last minute went:

Me: Hit, Penetrating, (Rolls a 6...) BOOM!
Him: I guess they have to roll wounds. What strength is the hit?
Me: I think 4 if you're inside a vehicle...
Him (turning): Hey! What strength is it if you're inside a vehicle and it explodes?
Someone: Four!
Him: Ok, there are how many in there?... (slowly starts counting dice...)
Me (looking at clock): 2 Seconds left... Crap!
Him: Oh, it's over?

One might be tempted to accuse him of stalling deliberately, but I honestly don't think he was.

Game 2: Black Templars (Mr. Cool) - First Place Winner
Mission: Capture and Control

This mission had an unusual setup, in that you placed your opponent's objective. Which is an ok way to mix it up a bit, but it does tend to mean the the objectives are much closer to the middle. Which may have hurt me a bit vs. Mr. Cool's list, which consisted of 2 land raiders with troops inside and a 30-man marine squad on foot. But other than that it was a perfectly fine battle that I lost by placing my units too close together. Mr. Cool was the master of the multi-unit charge using his huge 30-man squad. To avoid this, I should have kept my units a few more inches apart. Which would have forced him to take them on one at a time.

The other thing that hurt me was poor rolling on my lascannons and melta guns. To my utter disbelief, neither Raider went down despite 40-some lascannon shots being made. In the end he took one objective with the other contested.

Game 3: Cheese Nob Trukk/Loota List (Mr. Lame) - 6th Place Winner
Mission: Annihilation with Dawn of War Setup

Yep. The trukk and Loota version of the cheese Nob biker list that DONKEY been playing lately. Combined with the worst possible mission and the worst possible deployment. Yuk. I probably would have had a better than even chance to beat him at annihilation if we had done a different setup. But Dawn of War was pretty hopeless. I decided to give it my best though and see how much damage I could do.

He rolled first turn so I let him set up and left my entire army in reserve. He ran one trukk to the far middle right and the other to the middle left. With the lootas in the top-middle spread out in a line. So when I came in I took the left-front corner and set up as best a defensive line as I could. I killed the left trukk right away, forcing those nobs to walk. While the right trukk took a demolisher hit to the front but only lost it's weapon. It was farther away though, so it took a bit longer to cross over to me. Which was the payoff for not setting up on the first turn. He hit my lines from the front and eventually the right side, but I was much better with my blocking units this time and he only got one double charge on me.

On my second turn I outflanked 2 squads of troopers, a sentinel, and a lascannon squad onto the left-rear corner to threaten the Lootas and force the Nobs to hoof it back there if/when they killed the front group.

On turn 3 the plasma and melta command squads came in to help the bottom line. A lone sentinel outflanked onto the right side and hoofed it for the lootas.

By turn 4 his surviving trukk on the right had finished dropping off Nobs and then it beat feet for the nearest cover to deny me a kill point. I veered the right hand sentinel down to threaten it. But it didn't come close. And even if it had he would have just moved the trukk.

The Lootas wrecked my Sentinel on the left-top and chewed up part of a troop squad. But in the end I got into double-tap flashlight range and ran them off the board. Down on the bottom line I made him pay for every foot. We ran out of turns before he could kill everyone.

In the end I dropped 5 nobs from the left group. With all the rest wounded once and the Warboss wounded twice. I dropped 6 nobs from the right group with about 4 other wounds spread around the squad. He won the game 15 - 3.

Apart from fielding a cheese list, Mr. Lame was actually fairly pleasant, all things considered. He wasn't as likable as the first two guys I played, but he was always very clear about what he was doing and who he was rolling saves for. With a written list of which nobs were wounded. But I have to call him "Mr. Lame" because he docked me a point for poor/cheesy army composition during final scoring for the game. Which I find pretty laughable considering the list he took. And considering that Mr. Slow actually called my army the least cheesy force he's ever fought.

Other Problems:

The Lafayette Game Preserve is nice and large. They had 3 long felt-covered tables set up. With 2 play areas on each table. But there was no marking of any kind between the play areas to denote where one stopped and the other started. It was left up to the players to measure and mark this. That's just not right.

Second, the play areas were 5x6 instead of 4x6. With 18" deployment zones. Which upsets the balance of the game. Especially when reserves come on 12" instead of 6".

Third, it was stated at the start of the tourney that all area terrain counted as open ground. With the only cover being from blocked line of site. In addition, there was no cover or elevated ground of any kind in the deployment zones.

This lack of area terrain cover or elevated firing positions really crippled the non-Marine armies. The results of the tourney speak volumes. The top five players were all either Marines or Chaos Marines. With only one of the five Marine Players scoring in the bottom six. The Orks scored 5th and 11th. While the 3 guard players scored 7th, 8th, and 10th. In fact, in 9 games, only one victory was scored by the guard.

I won't go into detail on the missions, since that would take much too long. But suffice it to say that they were basically just small variations on the 3 pick-up missions from the 40K rulebook. And in most cases, the small changes didn't really improve things. In some cases they just added to the problems caused by the cover issues.

So... Would I go again? Probably not, unless I could get some assurance that the mission and table issues wouldn't repeat themselves. I don't mind losing games or the occasional lame opponent. That happens. But I just don't feel like non-MEQs had a fair chance to win given the circumstances. I doubt the staff at the Lafayette store deliberately set out to favor MEQs, but I just don't think enough thought went into the missions and table setups. At least compared to the missions at the Champaign tourney. Where the tables and missions were very well thought out.


  1. I like your list, mate; and though I've never gone to a tournament I could really feel your pain.

    Hard luck, eh?

    - Drax.

  2. That's unfortunate. Youn set aside your whole day and come prepared for this kind of result.

    Hopefully it doesn't ruin you for all events but I feel your pain too. It can leave you with a bad feeling about the whole day.

  3. sorry to hear it turned out so poor.

    I still wish I could've gone.

    Part of the reason Chambers, JibJeb, Iron and I tried hard to put a lot of thought into the missions at the Armored Gopher was tournaments like this.

    One of the first Tournaments I went to was sort of like this. I showed up, ready to rumble, but the store had done NOTHING to prepare for the event other than being open (during normal store hours).

    I got a consensus to roll the type of mission for EVERYONE at the same time before that tourney round started. I won the tournament quietly. It still wasn't a lot of fun, because there was nothing prepared.

    I did get the satisfaction of wiping a 4th ed Assault marine heavy list off the board. The guy was bragging about this list never being beaten, and how I should just concede, because my WH Armored Company list had NO CHANCE against his AWESOMARINES.

    but anyway, maybe we'll have to get in a good game sometime. As long as Mrs. Farmpunk doesn't have the Baby #2 during the game.

  4. Well at least you got to play Farmpunk in the first round.

    In all honesty tournaments are a lot of work to put on correctly. While I feel that it pays expediently to have a well prepped and run tournament, not every one feels the same.

    Oh and credit where it is due, I don't think that a single CU tournament would have gotten off the ground w/o JibJeb & Iron. Most of the time I was just the jerk in the back rules-lawering everything.

  5. but I didn't go... ahhh.. ;) I see what you did there.

    you might find it surprising that when your opponents take as longer than I do, and THEN still go for a smoke break between turns...

    I'm not considered slow anymore.

    ok, and I've played my WH enough to get much faster on how to run them. The DH don't have enough units for them to be real slow.


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