Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Steady Hands Are All I Can Boast - Reflections On My First 40K Tournament of 6th Edition

On Sunday August 26th I was whisked away from my Humboldt Park apartment and into the suburbs by Brian Parisi. We headed out to Downers Grove, IL to the Chicago Battle Bunker for the 4th tournament of the AWC (Adeptus Windy City) season. Previous to this tournament I had played a single game of 6th Ed about a month or so ago against Brian, with another friend, Aaron Schmidt, dutifully researching rules as we went. Needless to say, my experience with the edition was limited. In fact, it was so limited that during the tournament all 3 of my opponents directed me on how to use my ordnance barrage from my Whirlwind three different ways. Each time I shrugged my shoulders and said, "okay" because I didn't know and I didn't want to slow down the game too much by looking it up and sometimes I feel like if I say, "well that's not how we played it the last game" it sounds like I'm balking when in all honesty I'm sort of indifferent, and everyone's explanation seemed reasonable enough. Note to self though: read up on ordnance barrages for next time!

I played against 3 nice yet varied chaps and I must say I was way out of my league. I'm not really a tournament player. I go to tournaments from time to time to get all of these models I've spent years on out of the display cases in my living room and onto a table where I might get a pat on the back and hopefully get inspired by something someone else is doing while I'm at it. My sincerest hope is that I don't let anybody down with my lack of a competitive edge. I go and I play with what I have painted. Honestly, my army might as well just be Tactical Squads and Rhinos all with no upgrades, because I show up not with the tools of victory, but with the prettiest models I've painted thus far and that is the bulk of what I have in the display cases.

Just to highlight how out of my league I was, my first game was against Mitch, who was fielding a mixed Dark Eldar/Eldar army that included Lelith, Eldrad, and a monstrous squad of Hellions. It was a partially painted horde of models, and based upon the highlighting on the Hellion skyboards it should be a pretty sharp looking army when its done. Regardless, with my limited firepower I was overwhelmed by his Hellion squad supported by Eldrad using Fortune for rerolls while his Shadowfield on his front model was just soaking up fire. 2+ saves, Look Out Sir rolls, and then Feel No Pain rolls once he got a Pain Token were just absorbing everything I could throw at him. In 5 turns I had never cleared a single unit off the table and he had destroyed every last model in my army. That was the 1st time that has happened to me since 2nd Edition I think. Usually there is still at least an Immobilized vehicle or some straggling Tactical Marines, but not this time. Everything died. It was such a mauling that Mitch had a look of guilt or pity on his face when we were done. I don't think the game was that fun for either of us. Back in my home town of Amherst, NY the police periodically put out corn in the fields to attract deer, and then gun down the herd, an act of complete savagery supposedly for the common good of the town. That's what this game felt like, I was just the deer stoked to eat some corn, and Mitch was a line of police blazing away. We live in a hardened cold world, so I just sucked it up and took my annihilation as cheerily as I could.

My 2nd game was against a gentleman named Tom. He also brought along an allied contingent as well as an Aegis Defense Line. He has Daemons at the forefront on his army and two resilient Nurgle Chaos Space Marine Squads parked behind the Aegis Defense Line right on top of one of the 2 Objectives. Once again my attention was dominated by my immediate threat of the Daemons and I only managed to kill some Daemonettes and a Nurgle Chaos Space Marine the whole game. My biggest triumph was Immobilizing one of his Dreadnoughts. This game didn't feel as lopsided since I wasn't slaughtered to the man but it was rough. Luckily, I had already resolved in my head that death and loss were my only true friends for the day. (Editors note: In retrospect, since he never claimed the Primary Objective and beat me on Secondary Objectives instead, I shouldn't feel that morose.)

The final game of the day was against a beautiful Grey Knights army played by a fine fellow named Mike with no Allies or Aegis Defense Lines. The result was much the same but since I actually killed some of his models and even destroyed one squad, it was a moral victory. His army was intimidating because I didn't know what some of the units did having never faced Grey Knights - that Dreadknight is terrifying as it barrels across the battlefield. Luckily his low model count and my understanding of powered armored armies gave me a little more confidence and I had a lot more fun getting demolished by my peer. After a day of getting beat down his beautiful army and relaxed demeanor were a joy to play against.

For me the highlight of the day was all the compliments on my army. I was like a proud dog dad taking my beautiful pups out for a walk (Editors Note: I think only a proud dog dad will get this analogy, but since I am one, it makes perfect sense). This particular tournament elected not to do Best Painted based upon the entire army, expecting that people are still retooling their armies for 6th Edition and have a lot of painting to do. Instead the award was called Steady Hands and was based upon a single model, squad, or vehicle. Selecting which unit or model I was going to put into the competition was difficult. I've been working on this army for almost 20 years so my squads will have models that have only been painted a year ago next to models painted over 10 years ago and though they look sharp on the table top my painting has only tightened and refined with time and experience. I elected to go with my Devastator Combat Squad even though it isn't my favorite just because I had just used weathering powders on it last week giving it another element of technique and complexity that the rest of my army doesn't have yet. The choice paid off. It was a hard decision to be made by the judges and they even had to call in the opinion of Golden Demon holder and painting guru Tim Lison to help make the call. The model I was up against was a Rhino with a fantastic free hand mural on the top hatch. It was honestly gorgeous. I was so infatuated with the mural, which just happens to be a major weakness for me in my own painting, I didn't happen to notice what details he might have neglected that put me over the edge. All I know is that if I want to keep taking home painting plaques, I'm going to need to up my game when it comes to mural work because I'm sure with some minor tweaks he would have taken me.

I posted a group shot of the Devastator Squad last week but since I got this cool plaque I decided to give them each a moment in the sun so people can see some of the details that gave me my edge because I'm clearly not going to talk about my game strategy and tactics. I walked away from the tournament with 0 wins, 3 losses. Thanks to all of my opponents, all of the people with nice things to say about my army, the tournament organizers, and Brian for driving. Here's some pretty Space Marines:
Marine Alexitus has devotional script on this purity seals, gem work done on all the lense in the photo (this is standard throughout the army), a cool skull on jewelry chain hanging from his belt, and caution stripes on the missiles hanging off his backpack. Weathering powder was used more subtly on his boots/greaves.
This is Alexitus again. This angle shows his Squad and Company markings on his pads, caution stripes on his missiles, and the devotional text on his missile launcher. The "parchment" is actually a thin fragment of old rubber band.

This is Veteran Sergeant Terril. The obvious element that stands out in this pic is the weathering on his robes and feet involving Devlan Mud wash and Medium Earth FW Weathering Powder. Much less obvious is the purity seal concealed by the grip arm that has script. One of the advantages of painting things piecemeal.  
This is Kalu. Before I painted Terril he was considered the Sergeant, but since he doesn't have robes he'll just become the Squad Leader for the other half of the Devastator Squad once I get it to 10 strong. He's sporting a cool pewter skull shoulder pad with the KALU painted neatly on the banner beneath the skull. He also demonstrates the gem effect on the lens of his scope and use of weathering powder.
This is Marine Valdir. This shot shows off his Devastator and Company markings. He's from the 9th Squad of the 5th Company. Once again weathering powder is evident.
This is Marine Naelor. This gives a good shot of his Chapter icon.
This is Marine Valdir. This shot gives a good look at his Squad and Company markings and the subtlety of the weathering powder. I had another angle on him so you could see the scroll on his opposing shoulder pad with devotional text but the shot was blurry so I deleted it. 
Thanks again for reading. I just did some weathering and basing work on Tactical Squad Midas and need to get back to work on the more dynamic/elite portions of the army. More later this week.


1 comment:

Chubs said...

Amazing work, nice to see you again at the awc events.