Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NOVA: Sandwyrm's Games Part I

by SandWyrm

Ok, let's do a quick rundown of my NOVA games and then we can discuss what worked in my list and what didn't.

First up, here's the list I took:
165    Company Command Squad w/3 x Plasma, Regimental Standard, Chimera
70    Primaris Psyker
155    Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta, Chimera
155    Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta, Chimera
105    Platoon Command Squad w/4 x Grenade Launcher, Chimera
150    + Infantry Squad w/Autocannon, Commissar, Chimera
115    + Infantry Squad w/Autocannon, Chimera
75    + Heavy Weapons Squad w/3 x Autocannon
145    Veteran Squad w/3 x Flamer, Demolitions, Carapace
130    Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta, Carapace
    Fast Attack
130    Vendetta Gunship
130    Vendetta Gunship
120    3 Scout Sentinels w/Autocannons
    Heavy Support
165    Leman Russ Demolisher w/Hull Heavy Flamer
190    Leman Russ Executioner w/Hull Heavy Flamer
2000    Total Points

Normally I run a much more in-your-face all-Vet list, but I had 2 big unknowns going into this tourney that worried me. Those were Grey Knights and Dark Eldar. I knew that properly run GKs could murder me at 24" (just outside of melta range). I also knew (from comments made here by readers) that I hadn't faced a top-tier Dark Eldar player yet, so I wanted the ability to down as many Raiders as I could early on in the game. Both of those solutions required more long and medium range fire. If I could use that same fire to kill Thunderwolves too, then all the better.

Also, it's a fact that my all-Vet chimera force has been decreasing steadily in effectiveness for a while now. Mostly due to the increased amount of terrain that we've been using locally. It hadn't reached a crisis point for me yet, but I was trying to find a non-Leafblower solution that would allow me to stay fairly mobile. Because I REALLY don't want to play a static gunline.

Figuring out that balance is going to be a running theme with me for a while. As far as Spag is concerned, I should be taking dual Manticores and 2-3 Hydras as a core. But while I'm coming around to a more Mike-like position on the Manticores post-NOVA, I still don't like using Hydras. They just don't work well for me, and I saw nothing at NOVA that convinced me otherwise.

Anyhow, let's talk about the games.

Whiskey Challenge: Vince's Imperial Guard

Vince (can't remember how to spell his last name) was originally supposed to play Spag in the Whiskey Challenge, but somehow Spag ended up playing Fearspect, while Fritz's last-minute cancellation left me wandering around without an opponent. Enter Vince, who offered to play me about an hour into into the challenge. Sure! I didn't know much about him, other than that he qualified for the invitational by winning an event somewhere, but I figured that fighting a Leafblower would be good practice.

I'm really quite fond of Vince's Manticore conversions, BTW. They remind me of a Russian KV tank. This is definitely how I'll model up mine, since I have all of the parts needed.

Anyhow, we decided to use a standard NOVA objective grid and roll up the orders for the 3 win conditions. I think it went Kill Points, Table Quarters, Objectives with a Dawn of War deployment. Vince's list was basically a Leafblower variant with Al Rahem outflanking 3 Chimeras in support.

In retrospect, this was the first time that I started thinking that there might be something seriously wrong with my list. I won the game, but it went closer than I felt it should have based on my impression of how well Vince played. Like when I played JWolf at Adepticon, I felt like I had a better mid-game tactical grasp of the match. Maybe I just deployed poorly like in that earlier game? Yeah, I did make a mistake there. Hmmnnn...

NOVA Game 1: Jamie (Ghostin) O'Conner's Tyranids

Pitched Battle with Objectives, Kill Points, Table Quarters. The spacing on the terrain was just fine. But the only place to put my infantry guns in cover was in the center of my DZ. Not the best place to put wounds on approaching nasties. So while my mobility was intact, my long range shooting was gimped.

Jamie rolled first turn and was smart about his deployment. The Genestealers came straight forward instead of outflanking, while he moved up his big blob of 2 Primes + Carnifexen onto the center hill where I had a hell of a time trying to push him off of it. We went just 4 turns due to weariness (we had both judged 15 hours at the Invitational the day before) and a tendency to talk and joke too much. :)

It went down to the third win condition, where Jamie won it by 25 points in one of my quarters. If I had just moved the Sentinels over a few inches on the last turn, we would have tied on quarters and gone to straight victory points where I would have had a roughly 200 point margin on him.

Ok, so it was a straight-up loss thanks to a stupid mistake by me at the end. Nothing unusual about that. It happened with JWolf at Adepticon. And yes Spag, Jamie did deduct the points for the damaged Carnifexen. It's right here on his sheet. I knew I didn't need to check him. :P

Tourney-wise, now I was in "oh crap!" mode, as I started wondering how I was going to push Terminators or other durable combat troops off of that hill in the rest of my games. Unless I got first turn, I wasn't going to beat them there. Hmmnnn...

NOVA Game 2: Alexander Simpson's Tau

Alex had a really nicely built Tau force. Where it differed from the Stelek-standard, he had good reasons for the changes he'd made, which I agreed with after discussing them with him. He also knew how to play it near-perfectly. It's safe to say that he's the best Tau player I've ever played.

Our game was Quarters, Objectives, and Kill Points with a spearhead deployment. The mix of terrain was fine, but it was MUCH closer together than in this pre-Invitational pic. So much so that Alex and I flagged down a judge to ask if the layout was OK. "It's fine, play it!" he said. Um... OK.

Maybe all judges should carry around table pics on their phones? That way the original layout could be referenced. Regardless, we set up and played the game.

It was a tough fight between two shooting armies. Alex went first, but I stole the initiative (probably shouldn't have). He had the advantage of mobility, but couldn't get close to me too early. The best moment for me was when my Executioner killed 2 drones in a Las/Missile Crisis Suit unit and 3 Suits ran 17 inches right off the table!

Alex played it smart, but forgot about my reserved melta vets, and so he lost his Piranhas when they came on. At the start of my 4th turn things looked pretty good. All I needed to do was move up onto the hill with enough troops to hold it. But that's when it all fell apart. Because I didn't kill anything due to failing 2 terrain tests with my Chimeras and whiffing with everything else.

One terrain fail was a straight-up attempt to climb the hill. The other was failed when I tried to squeeze between the Stargate and the center hill. The problem was that both immobilized vehicles ended up touching at the inside corner such that neither unit could get out and go up the hill. They had to go the other way around the tank, which would take 2-3 turns depending on how they rolled for their difficult terrain tests.

Alex agreed that I lost the game on that turn when I failed those 2 tests due to the badly spaced terrain. He won it on table quarters.

With all those Tau swarming around his backfield, I was starting to wish for some more templates. But it *was* a bad matchup to draw Tau on a Spearhead deployment. If we'd been playing Pitched Battle, he wouldn't have had anywhere to run.

Continue to Part II...


  1. thanks for the write up, I love your army, you've inspired me to redo mine.

    Do you know if Alex Simpson has a blog?

  2. @M3M

    Not off the top of my head. Sorry.

  3. After your earlier post commenting on the terrain, I'm going to say one thing that stands out... All of your games look like they have been fought on what is "essentially" the exact same board... I figured that the little diagram you posted up was an example of just one board, but its shocking to see that it is the EXACT formula for ALL boards!

    These carbon copy boards don't lend themselves to varied tactics... people will end up with a "rinse and repeat" approach from one game to the next.

  4. Saying "I failed those 2 tests due to the badly spaced terrain" is like saying "I lost the game to 2 bad die rolls." Yet these rolls in particular, you have a choice to overcome.

    At 10 points per dozer blade, I've found they are worth their cost many times over. Terrain is a fact of the board, and a 1-in-6 can be a high chance of failure. (Ask Termie squads.)

    Just like other game factors, you can mitigate this risk with wargear in many armies. Those that choose not to purchase that wargear must assume risk when facing that particular tactical situaion. Same could be said for carpace armor, power fists or melta bombs.

    Knowing how often terrain can and will affect the game, the cost for blades seems clear for every unit I plan on moving across the board. (As an IG player, that is.) Is 30-40 points in a 1500-2000 list going to break my balance? I don't feel so. Those upgrades to my Chimeras and Hellhounds pay for themseves time and time again in (anecdotally) 80+% of my games. They allow me to effectively ignore terrain, while my opponents must look at every hill, wall and shrub like a minefield.

    And let's admit it: when you high-center the damn track on a wall or a rock, it ALWAYS changes the game dynamic. It spins a whole new series of choices.

    While I agree that the terrain pics posted had some issues, and I even think that a 1-in-6 permanent immobilization is a WAY overpowered penalty, I think that the option to avoid the problem is well worth the points for the privelege.

  5. @Wineshark

    Understand that those 2 tests I failed were not the first two that I took in that game. Those 2 Chimeras had already taken 3 tests between them just to get to a position where they could try and climb that hill. I made 2-3 more on other vehicles (and failing a few) for an army that might normally take 1-2 tests total at other events. While certain units (Hellhounds and Command Squads) have been prone to being immobilized, it rarely mattered to my scoring units.

    Can that risk be mitigated with Dozer Blades? Absolutely. But my point is that I never HAD to take Dozer Blades before. Because the risks of immobilizing a key unit were never that great. I honestly can't remember the last time I lost a game because of an immobilization pre-NOVA. Had I expected a problem, I would have taken the obvious solution.

  6. No I don't have a blog, I don't think I'm interesting enough to have people read what I right.

    As for the game, it was the closest game I had all three days I played. I think if SandWyrm had not crashed on turn 4 it would have been very close.

    SandWyrn also understated the level of Fail that was my Crisis Team running away, that team also had my Commander in it. He also does not mention me being an idiot and suiciding 6 kroot into his sentinels because I forgot that they where walkers...

    I had trouble with the giant hill in the center all tournament. I really craved some kind of durable assault unit to put in the center, sadly Tau don't have those.

    For anyone curious my list was:
    HQ (1)
    1 Shas’El; Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi tracker, Hard-Wired Target Lock (92)
    Elites (3)
    3 Crisis Battlesuits; 2 with Crisis Battlesuits Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi tracker; 1 With Twin-linked Missile Pods, Drone Controller, 2 Gun Drone (187)
    3 Crisis Battlesuits; 2 with Crisis Battlesuits Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi tracker; 1 With Twin-linked Missile Pods, Drone Controller, 2 Gun Drone (187)
    3 Crisis Battlesuits; 2 with Crisis Battlesuits Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi tracker; 1 With Twin-linked Missile Pods, Drone Controller, 2 Gun Drone (187)

    Troops (4)
    6 Fire Warriors (60)
    Devilfish; Disruption Pod, Decoy Launchers (90)
    6 Fire Warriors (60)
    Devilfish; Disruption Pod, Decoy Launchers (90)
    10 Kroot (70)
    10 Kroot (70)

    Fast Attack (3)
    2 Piranha; 2 Fusion Blasters, Disruption Pods, 2 Targeting Arrays, 1 Target Lock (155)
    1 Piranha; 1 Fusion Blaster, Disruption Pod, 1 Targeting Array (75)
    1 Piranha; 1 Fusion Blaster, Disruption Pod, 1 Targeting Array (75)

    Heavy (3)
    3 Broadside Battlesuits; 1 with Twin Linked Railgun, Smart Missile System, Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones; 2 with Twin Linked Railgun, Smart Missile System, Target Lock (250)
    2 Broadside Battlesuits; 1 with Twin Linked Railgun, Smart Missile System, Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones; 1 with Twin Linked Railgun, Smart Missile System, Target Lock (175)
    2 Broadside Battlesuits;1 with Twin Linked Railgun, Smart Missile System, Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones; 1 with Twin Linked Railgun, Smart Missile System, Target Lock (175)

  7. Also I'm big on WOT, I can't find your post with your user name, Sandwyrm. Or is it hidden to prevent the mass TKing that would surely come about?

    I go by Wargamer08.

  8. Understood. I guess that my local experience has lead me to value the dozer highly. I think it is a list build choice that I make to "counteract the unknown" as you mentioned.

    I'm a relatively inexperienced tourney player, but I felt that terrain can have such an effect on the game that the points spent to fight it are worth as much as the weapons I'm giving my Vets.

    I can see where the shift in terrain density/type can make a list seem unsuited to the tourney.

  9. Nice looking Tau army you have there.
    I've never played with Piranhas, but the rest is quite similar to what I usually play.
    3 twin missile+drones
    3 plasma+missile+drones
    6+9+9 FW
    10 Kroot
    5+5 Pathfinders
    3+3+2 Broadsides

  10. Looking forward to your report on Game 3 against my Fabulous Fail list. I had a ton of fun playing you, and your army is incredibly well painted. It was a pretty close race between you and Gabe Dobkin's Cobra IG.

    Incidentally I think I might have been the judge you asked about the terrain. In terms of terrain setup the judges had a conversation about terrain deployment on the second day. We were told that you should be able to fit a rhino in between the various pieces of terrain. After checking everything there were a few tables that seemed pretty tight, but for the most part everything looked okay.

    Terrain is something we'll keep on working at. Every year we'll be able to build more and more.

  11. @Alex

    Our usernames on WOT are SandWyrm, Farmpunk, and Spags. I think the case on the letters matters when you search. I also haven't played WOT in over a week, what with a certain large tourney going on. :)

    I'll add you to my friends list.

  12. @Beer

    That was a fun game, what with us both venting our bad attitudes as jokes on each other. :)

    I had a nice long conversation with John (the head judge) at 4:30 am on Saturday morning about my terrain gripes. Where he apologized and said that table (we looked at it and it was the same as when I played Alex's Tau) obviously wasn't right.

    He promised to discuss it with the judges and obviously he did. :)

  13. I will say I am not normally a huge fan of dozer blades on guard tanks well chimeras anyway. Most of the guard players I know and I know a few don't have trouble with terrain even Sandwyrm in all the games we’ve played. I will also say that we play on pretty terrain heavy tables most of the time so it’s not due to lack of terrain. I just feel there could be better use of points most of the time. With that said I would like to chalk up what happened to Sandwyrm as bad timing and that he doesn't need dozer blades. However Sandwyrm either needs to send his guys back to tanker school for driving lessons before going to a tournament or get dozer blades. :) This isn't the first time at a tournament where terrain has gotten the best of his army.
    I do though run rams and rollas on my ork transport vehicles. So I understand their importance. It’s all about purpose and the consequences of those random failures that might happen as to take blades or not. With my list losing a truck is a big loss as most of them will be blown up by the enemy anyway so I don't need to fight the terrain as well. They don't really pull of movement tactics or try to get in position like guard tanks do they just kind of take the shortest route to the fight through whatever is in the way so testing is a constant task and it’s essential for my army to pass.

    On a side note one vehicle I wish had a dozer blade or dozer blade like rule is the LR. That tank above all else kills me when it gets hung up on that little pile of sand bags or well terrain in general that shouldn't even phase it. It’s not very fitting for the name and or its fluff at all.

  14. This is Vinny

    Thanks for the game SandWyrm. Was a fun warm up. I really like your Guard army as well. Really nicely painted. You also take some interesting things like the Primaris Psyker.

    Looking back at Nova if I continue playing Guard I was thinking to add Dozer blades as I had a lot of issues with immobilizing my tanks on terrain since there was so much terrain in Nova and most of the objectives where in terrain. Allied Witch Hunter Inquisitor for the hood is no longer legal so will have to replace it with something. Maybe the 2nd Hydra, Officer of the Fleet and some Dozer blades. More likely I'll be retiring Guard soon in favor of the Space Wolves I been working on its so cumbersome to travel with and carry from table to table.

    This was my 2000 pt list for reference
    Asgard 501st 2000pts
    Company Command Squad with 3 Melta guns + Astropath in Chimera "Odin" with Multi Laser and Hull Heavy Flamer
    Allied WH Inquisitor Lord with Psychic hood, targeter, and 3 warriors with plasma guns.
    Veteran Squad with 2 Melta Guns 1 Flamer, Demolitions + 6 Shotguns in Chimera "Tyr" with Multi Laser and Hull Heavy Flamer
    Veteran Squad with 3 Melta Guns + Auto Cannon in Chimera "Hodur" with Multi Laser and Hull Heavy Flamer
    Veteran Squad with 3 Melta Guns + Auto Cannon in Chimera "Eir" with Multi Laser and Hull Heavy Flamer
    Infantry Platoon
    Platoon Command Squad w Alrahem + 3 Melta Guns in Chimera "Sif" with Multi Laser and Hull Heavy Flamer
    Infantry Squad with Melta gun in Chimera "Hermodr" with Multi Laser and Hull Heavy Flamer
    Infantry Squad with Melta gun in Chimera "Loki" with Multi Laser and Hull Heavy Flamer
    Fast Attack
    Vendetta Gunship "Hirst"
    Vendetta Gunship "Lenneth"
    Vendetta Gunship "Silmeria"
    Heavy Support
    Hydra Flak Tank "Ullur" with Hull Heavy Bolter
    Manticore "Freya" with Hull Heavy Flamer
    Manticore "Frei" with Hull Heavy Flamer

    I'm into World of Tanks also. My WOT Name is DarthKirika. Will add you all to my friends list. Currently working on IS3-IS4, King Tiger-> E75 and T1 heavy to T29 and hopefully T34 before it goes premium.

  15. Heyo - thanks for the kind words. I have to say I was absolutely mortified to be facing you as my opening game in my first GT. Talk about intimidation - an author of one of the blogs I read frequently to learn how to play better? We had a good time joking around, but I was a slow player in *every* game - I'll get better, I promise. Still surprised your vet squad hoofed it even after the reroll when they locked with my stealers. Looking forward to the next matchup!


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