This weekend I attended Adeptus Windy City's first tournament of the season. From what I have gathered they try to run a tournament every month and vary up the points and scenarios each time. I think this is the first AWC tournament I have attended, though a few years back I did go to a Cities of Death tournament in Wisconsin that I found on AWC - I'm not sure if it was part of that year's series.
I purchased my ticket online a few weeks ago as a way to get some games in (I think I only played 3 games last year), and to see if smaller tournaments were as fiercely competitive as Adepticon has become. Additionally, I thought it would be a great incentive to get some painting in. As each week passed though, I failed to get any painting time in. The only advanced preparation I did was to read a few sections of the 5th Edition Rulebook before bed. Instead, two days before the big event I hammered out an army list based upon what I had painted and a couple of wacky ideas I had. In those two days I feverishly attempted to paint 4 Hunter Killer Missiles and 4 Storm Bolters. I failed on all accounts, and scrapped all my wacky ideas. So 12 hours before the tournament I put the finishing touches on a rather dull Dark Angel's list that used every fully painted model I had and only 4 partially finished models - the best showing I've ever made in that regard.
Now when I say that I had a dull Dark Angel's list, I'm not exaggerating. The best things in the Dark Angel's Codex are Deathwing, Ravenwing, Sammael, and Belial. I had none of those things. I had a Chaplain, 2 Dreadnoughts, 4 Tactical Squads in Rhinos, an Assault Squad, a Devastator Combat Squad in a Razorback, and a Whirlwind. All of these units had minimal upgrades. I had 2 power weapons in the whole army, as an example. I didn't take advantage of any of the special rules in Codex: Dark Angels or in the latest FAQ update. So I'll be the first to admit - my list was lacking.
The night before the tournament I still didn't know how I was getting there. I was originally going to borrow my girlfriend's car but she got asked to work. I sent an early morning e-mail to my friend Brian as a last minute attempt to avoid taking a $30 cab ride to the Battle Bunker. Forty five minutes later I had my ride confirmed. Thanks again Brian!
I hurriedly packed up my army. I got my things together and printed out my lists. I was exhausted and had a headache before I even got in the car with Brian. When we arrived at the Battle Bunker and were assigned our tables I was actually nervous. I've been so out of the loop with playing games that I was worried I'd forget all the rules. Plus, I haven't faced a new Codex since Codex: Imperial Guard so I knew I'd be at a loss against the last five Codices to come out: Space Wolves, Tyranids, Blood Angels, Dark Eldar, and Grey Knights. I was already apologizing to my first player for being rusty before we even started rolling dice.
I was paired up against a gentleman named John who played Necrons. His army was a fairly scary collection of mostly Destroyers and Heavy Destroyers. I know that to a seasoned veteran of 5th Edition, Necrons are far from scary, but when you have almost no upgrades and most of your firepower comes in the form of bolter fire, they can be intimidating as hell. I wiped out a 200 point unit of Destroyers pretty early on but then he neutralized my suppressive fire by taking out my Dreads and Razorback. After that I still fought hard but it was a losing battle. He was charging my units and winning, and as I understand it, Necrons shouldn't be charging anyone. It was a fun game and I'm sure he enjoyed soundly thrashing me with what is generally regarded as a hard luck army.
My second game was against Dave, a Space Wolves player. He had a lot of vehicles like I did and he deployed for battle in a way I had many times before, so I wasn't as worried as I should have been. He had some bad dice rolling early on so I thought I was doing okay. Then he closed in, his luck regulated, and I got to face the frustration of his Long Fangs who could split fire, the special character who could throw a hammer through my tanks, and some sort of combo where he could re-roll 1's and one of the models in that squad had Terminator armor so he basically needed 2 successive 1's to take a wound. I didn't feel swindled by my opponent so much as I had Codex envy - or at least special rule envy. This was my life without upgrades.
The final game of the tournament had me facing a light hearted 14 year old named Mike. Over the years I've seen people talk a lot of crap about being paired up against teenagers like it's some sort of a chore, or even an affront. Maybe it's my former GW background or maybe it's because I'm surrounded by young people through playing in bands and I just sort of "get" teenagers, but this game was my most fun game of the day. His army was a weirdo hodge podge of random stuff to form a Salamanders army but despite me making a strong showing early on, he kept an eye on his objectives and I was just having fun killing stuff. When the dust settled I was soundly defeated for the 3rd time.
The best part of the day for me was having people coming up and complimenting my army. I may be an awful player, but all of the positive feedback made me glow - at least on the inside, I may have still worn moderate scowl since I was amongst strangers. Even if I can't win a game to save my life at least my love of the hobby shines through in other ways that people get stoked on. It really means the world to me, especially considering I've been working on the army since 1994. I was using models I painted before my 3rd opponent was born and I still can't field a fully painted army.
Greg Swanson did a great job of moving things along and facilitating the tournament. The scenarios were sort of boring. They were selected as a primer for some other tournament a bunch of people are going to coming up. Even if they each used different deployment they all had the exact same objectives which made all of the games feel the same. I actually miss tournaments where all of the scenarios varied widely and the goal was something other than objective counters or kill points (or in this case both). Of course, I'm the guy who's played every mission in the 3rd and 4th Edition rulebooks, all the Cities of Death missions, and almost all of the 5th Edition missions hidden in the back of end of the book. You don't have to get all crazy with multiple objectives like the Adepticon scenarios - just give me something that makes me go, "That was really cool!"
In the end I had a really good time despite the exhaustion, unpreparedness, crap army list, and rust coated playing skills. I walked away with two awards: Best Appearance and Biggest Loser and I can say both with a smile on my face. The next AWC tournament is in June, but its right before my band leaves for Europe and I doubt I'll be able to find the time. Since we'll be gone for a full month I might miss the July tournament as well. I'll just have to wait and see.
I may suck at 40K but I'll kick all of your asses at Settlers of Catan. Honest!