This past weekend, January 20th, 2018, Mr. AG and myself were able to go to a double's tournament in Parry Sound, Ontario, for the annual Hellmouth event! We had a lot of fun, met some great people, and even came away with some door prizes (plus an honourable mention and plaque for Best Sportmanship). But what fun is a tournament if you don't tell people about it? So here's the first Tournament Report in this blog!
Morning Sausage 'N Egg McMuffins - the breakfast of champions on the road.
Each player was required to bring a maximum of two detachments, one of which had to be a battalion, and were allowed a single Lord of War each. On top of that, we'd have a single Warlord between the two of us, and our Psychic Powers for the day were to be rolled for once at the start of the tournament, and be held the same all day. I'll get back to these points later, but our lists were something we thought would do quite well regardless of these rules adjustments. Mr. AG brought an Astra Militarum force of Catachans, with three Leman Russ tanks (one Battle Tank, one Plasma-cutioner, and one Demolisher Tank Commander), forty infantry, six Bullygryns with a mix of shields, Primaris Psyker, and a Callidus Assassin. His list was to be the Anvil, and he was going to stack up a ridiculous number of Command Points with a Command Point Farm of Warlord Traits and Relics (every command point spent, ours or our opponents', would give Mr. AG a 5+ roll to receive a Command Point, and every stratagem our opponents' used would give him another 5+ roll for a Command Point, AND during the first turn, the Callidus Assassin would force our opponents to have to use an extra command point to get off their stratagems on a 4+). I would be the Hammer, three squads of Alpha Legion Chaos Space Marines with Lascannons, twenty Khorne Berzerkers, a Lord and Exalted Champion, and Mortarion. My job was to throw them immediately off balance with two must-answer threats that could interact with my opponents pretty much right away.
Tammy, the TO, announces how the day's going to go down.
Our first game was against a mix of Dark Angels and Orks, and our plan went off pretty much perfectly. Mortarion had rolled up Miasma of Pestilence for a power, and so the Orks' shooting against him was much less effective, and Mortarion proceeded to kill off about 1750 points of our opponents' armies on his own (he defeated a Talonmaster, Sammael on Corvex, 5 Scouts, Ghazghkull Thraka, Mad Dok Grotsnik, a Weirdboy, 40 Ork Boyz, 4 Nobz with Klaws, and a Waaagh Banner bearer). Aaron took down the rest of the Ravenguard bikers, with the Bullygryns clobbering the bikes that came in close, or blasting them apart. Only Mortarion was lost in that fight, with no other models from our army being removed.
Yes, they played Orks. Of course they played Orks!
Chaos "snipers". Should've armed these guys with Miss-ile Launchers for how much they did that day.
In our second game, we went up against Skari, from SkaredCast, and his Dark Eldar teaming up with Crimson Fist Primaris army. This was an incredibly tight game that kept going back and forth, with Mortarion and Khorne Berzerkers hitting hard during the early game, followed up by Bullygryns, and keeping him pinned back. After 4 long turns, time was called, and Skari's team came out ahead. Both sides were devastated, but some great last Maelstrom pulls and a couple decisive rolls had kept it in his court. Definitely a game to remember!
"Hello Boys." Mortarion - deadly as ever - slays Pedro Kantor. A Morty-explosion here might have won us the game! Alas, no more command points!
It may look like ol' Iron Hands Strakken was chasing away some Reavers, but I assure you, it was the other way around.
Our final game was a comedy in our first turn, as our opponents took out Mortarion SUPER early (he died pretty much after three units shot at him - he failed almost all his saves, and three times our opponents rolled 6 for d6 damage rolls against him), leaving us really on an uphill battle. Our opponents were a Black Legion force with a Chaos Knight helping them out, and a Salamanders Primaris force. Yes, Primaris were doing quite well for folks today, likely in no small part due to 10-strong squads of Plasma Wielding Hellblasters (the damage output of these units, even poorly supported, is awesome in the truest sense of the word). We even somehow almost pulled it back, as at the end of the game our opponents had to table us and were only a couple victory points ahead with nearly nothing remaining!
I've done you a favour and not shown you this board from the top down. This board induced a lot of nausea.
What an impressive Chaos Knight! Lot of bits from other spots really came together here for an impressive centrepiece model!
So three really fun matches! I learned a lot of lessons (like making sure to see an opponent's list at least to make sure you remember to declare a target for your Murder Sword!), and despite the 2-1 loss, I thought we did a really great job, as our scores were not at all indicative of how thoroughly entertaining and close our games were.
I'd like to again thank Crafts n' Things for hosting this tournament.
Now, there were some issues with the tournament that caused a lot of people from Sudbury to drop out. Firstly, I do want to say that this tournament may not be for everyone. While the players are of a high quality, there was definitely a focus on "cool things first", and "power" second. Despite going 1-2 loss, I still think that Mr. AG and I had the strongest list there, and it was our mistakes that lost us game 2, and we nearly bounced by game 3 despite the devastating initial loss. A lot of people took stuff that was strong, yes, but you could feel it from people's lists that these were the forces they just wanted to play with, rather than trying to game the system.
This isn't a good or a bad thing, but it is something to note. If someone showed up with an extremely high end list, I think there'd have ended up being some sour faces on both sides, especially if a few misplaced comments got dropped in the open. One side would say that the players with the strong lists just were power gamers, and the other side would say that the changes made were trying to just protect local players.
While I do think this worked, in the sense that only people that didn't really care about having as well oiled a list as normal showed up, I also think that there was a better solution that would have made the tournament more open to all players. Quite simply, I think the TO should just come out next year and tell people that this is a casual-style tournament, and they want to see people play with below average lists. In many ways, the lists here were of the same quality that made up the BPO. It doesn't mean you can't bring Magnus, Mortarion, or Gulliman (heck, I brought Morty!), but it does mean that the enjoyment of the game really does need to take precedence. On more than a couple of occasions our opponents made "bad" tactical decisions in order to promote "cool" gameplay (each time it didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things at that point in the game).
The second thing I would suggest to the TO would be to find a consistent approach to rules adjustments. My favourite adjustment was requiring a Battalion and then only allowing 1 other detachment. This gave players just enough room to bring cool things, while also being an interesting and brain-twisting constraint (especially at 1250 points). However, the adjustments on how stratagems, psychic powers, and warlord traits worked I think turned off a lot of players. This was because there was a lack of consistency. When you're playing 2v2, the rules get a little weird, but fundamentally you need to choose between either counting both players' armies as just being one very large army commanded by two people, or counting both players' armies as being entirely separate entities commanded by two people that just happen to be on the same table. Waffling between these with some rules (Hellmouth treated Stratagems and Psychic Powers one way, but treated Warlord Traits and Command Points the other way) leads to a lot of confusion, and that degrades the confidence people have that your event is going to be a fun time. Another one here is that it was weird that we could pick Warlord Traits, but not pick Psychic Powers, and it would have made a lot more sense if either you rolled for both, or got to choose both, rather than it being somewhere in-between.
Overall, I think it was a fantastic time, and one I definitely look forward to seeing again next year!
Next time gadget! NEXT TIME!!!