Despite the title my rolling did improve today which I was most grateful for. I played two interesting armies and both were a big eye opener for me. I'll give a quick recap on those and then I'll run through my impressions of the tournament as a whole.
Game 4 - Dirty, dirty Tau
Mike Price was my opponent for my fourth game. I wasn't quite sure why I was facing him as his army was the one with all the crazy awesome battle suits which I would have thought was pretty competitive. It turns out his first day went about as poorly as mine did with the dice so we were both looking to salvage something of the weekend in terms of placings.
I've not played Tau in a looooong time so I asked Mike to explain what all these fancy new battle suits do. After he'd done this Mike set up as he had won the roll for deployment and first turn. When I saw his deployment I thought I should be able to control the game simply by staying out of range of his Fire Warriors and focusing all my firepower on his big robots. I could use my 'Ignore Cover' orders to help clear out his Stealth Suits and the Deathstrike and Basilisk should be able to clear out the Fire Warriors at range. A cunning plan, surely nothing could go wrong.
Holy shit, that plan went totally wrong! In my defence though, while my rolling had improved from the first day, Mike's came back with a hell of a vengeance. For an army with Ballistic skill 3 I would expect on average for them to hit about 50% of the time. Mike's army figured a 75% hit rate was a much better idea. With all their high strength, ignores cover guns this made for a very unsavoury Tau shooting phase. Worse than that, almost every wound I put on his Stormsurge was ignored. Low AP shots were shrugged off by it's Feel No Pain and anything else was shrugged off with it's armour...until his armour failed...then he shrugged it off with Feel No Pain. This was possibly one of the most painful games I have played in a while but it did at least teach me a couple of lessons about my deployment which I carried over into the next game. I think the final score here was 18-2 in Mike's favour.
Come to me Stormsurge! Come to me!
Damnit Stealthy robot things! F#@k off!
Game 5 - Evil Spez Mureens
After my involuntary sodomy (catcher, not the pitcher) in my previous game I was at the bottom of the table with Chris Parkin playing for the Wooden Spoon. The scenario meant we were deploying at the short ends of the table giving me a lot more room for shooting against an army that was half made up of foot sloggers. Things were looking up it seemed! I deployed my Chimeras much better this turn and kept them in a position to support each other.
Chris sent his Daemon Prince charging out in the front and I managed to knock a couple of wounds off him before he made combat. After wiping out my Vet squad in the building he was open for one round of shooting before he would be running amok in my lines. Thankfully I managed to shoot him down and then after that it was a matter of keeping Chris at arms length while sitting on my objectives. By the end of the game we were drawn on mission objectives but I had managed to chalk up more Maelstrom Victory Points giving me my first win. I think it was 13-7 maybe?
Get off my objective Spez Mureen!
Ok so that's all my games. I've learned some very important things about 40k from this event; I've learned why people complain about Tau - because they're horrible, and why people complain about Chaos - because they're shite. I've learned a lot about Astra Militarum, I think Hagen originally built the list off 5th edition theory and after getting a few games in with it I can definitely see some areas I could improve it for future events. Most of all though I've built up a new enthusiasm for getting back into 40k. So once again a big thanks to Hagen for running the event and a big thanks to my opponents for making it awesome :)
Ok onto the tourny review. When the player's pack came out for this event I noticed a few questions raised on social media about various aspects of it. So rather than making a judgement from afar, I was curious to go and find out for myself. Some of these questions I discuss below amongst a few other aspects I found intriguing:
The three tiered scoring approach to the missions (Eternal War, Maelstrom and Secondary Objectives) was a bit confusing on face value to those of us that read the player's pack. After the first games were played on day one it was discovered to be relatively confusing in actuality too. We all got the hang of it by game 3 and it was no longer really an issue, but the question to me is whether or not it added anything extra to the tournament. I loved having some of the old school missions in there such as kill points but I think the tournament as a whole could have benefited from some simplicity here. I personally really enjoy the mix of Eternal War and Maelstrom missions so I would suggest each mission was Eternal War or Maelstrom with the secondary objectives across all 5 games.
There were some questions around the allies chart limiting who each army could ally with. Questions were specifically raised around why Chaos Space Marines could not ally with Daemons. I personally found the allies chart a really interesting flavour to this event. It was nice not to see Eldar/Knight or Necron/Knight armies and I think it brought a really cool thematic aspect to the event which is often missing in tournaments. As to the Chaos Space Marine/Daemons question; I personally think this should have been allowed. I think it fits well with the theme and lord knows Chaos Space Marines need all the help they can get.
I will admit that this is a pet hate of mine. The scoring is done in such a way that everyone will get maximum sports scores unless they are being a complete douche, so the principle is simply to stop anyone from being a total ass and make sure there is a modicum of sportsmanlike behaviour across the whole tournament. My opinion is that, if you are not looking to reward excellent sportsmanship, and you are only looking to maintain a level of civility, then why score it at all? Surely this could be managed by simply providing some pointers as to what indicates poor sportsmanship and allowing players to deduct a point or two after the game if they think it was really that bad. I do like that any deductions on points need to be justified to the umpire, I think poor sportsmanship should always be publicly called out and we should never be afraid to do so. I just can't see why we go through a scoring process when everyone at the event ends up with maximum points. It seems pretty redundant.
Aaaaaaah, the eternal argument over comp. It's like the song that never ends. Yes it goes on and on my friends. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was...ok I'll stop now. There were some clear holes pointed out in this comp system such as the maximum points White Scars army, but in all honesty I've never seen a comp system that works. Did it make a difference in the tournament? Well the guy who brought the evil Daemons army with the terrible comp score missed out on a placing because of it and he got top battle points. That being said, among the top three there was a less than cuddly Necron army and an Imperial Knight army.
I'm not sure if there will ever be a definitive answer to a good way to manage army composition. Personally I'm a fan of doing away with it altogether and allowing the local culture to dictate what should be brought. I find reducing the number of prizes on offer for battle points to be a good way of getting people to think about something other than destroying their opponents. So instead of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Best Painted and Best Sports I would go with Best General, Best Painted, Best Sports and then runner up to all three of those. That way everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy the part of the hobby they love the most. There will still be that game where you have to play that guy going for best general and brings that terrible army built to win the tournament, but I've not been to a tournament yet where I haven't had one of those games.
In my mind it's always the people that make a tournament worthwhile or not and the people I played at this event were great. For that reason alone I'm going to come back next year. Better yet, there's another tournament at the end of October and if I can get enough models painted I'll be going to that. I went to this event with a hope that I could start getting my head around the game again and that I could get myself inspired to get into 40k again. In that sense this event has been a resounding success as, since the weekend, I have been flooded with ideas for new armies and how to improve my army list for the next event. I'm really starting to get a love for the hobby again and I'm looking forward to getting into another tournament. Hopefully it won't be too long.
Ok that's me for another blog. If you've managed to read this far without falling asleep then congratulations! You've earned yourself a rest and to be honest I really need one too after typing this up. I hope you got some insight or have found something interesting about my recap of Maelstrom IX. Or maybe I just pissed you off with my points of view and you're currently wiping the spittle off your phone or computer screen as you rage at my insolence. Either way I'm glad you dropped in to have a read, drop in next week and I should have a book review or two up for reading. They'll at least be much shorter I promise :)