Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tournament Report (6/25 ~ Mocksville, NC) and a High Elf Army

This weekend, I was fortunate to play a tournament at Heroes Headquarters in Mocksville, NC.  The store seemed new, and it is in a good location with lots of room to play.  I believe there were 22 players in attendance which is a pretty good crowd, and once again, it looked as if the tournament drew players from a wide area.  GameonGW (one of NC's gaming clubs) hosted this event, and I've always been impressed with their events.  I've attended some of their Games Day events (held around Thanksgiving), and they always do a top-notch job.  One thing that I was really impressed with was the scenarios.  They set some specific victory conditions beyond victory points.  This changed the games from "meet in the middle and fight" or "stand at the back and shoot," and I really appreciated that.  I imagine that messing with scenarios is a tricky proposition, but I found the second and third rounds of the tournament to be far more interesting than the core scenarios.

Speaking of local events, I did have the opportunity to discuss the upcoming NC Grand Tournament with one of the organizers. Because I'm not sure how much information he really wants out there at this point, I won't share specifics, but from what he told me, I'm really excited about the format.  They seem to have taken the best aspects of some of the larger national tournaments and fused them into what I think will be a welcome (and long overdue) addition to the local gaming scene.  I'll be following the discussion over at WarhammerNC with great interest.

Anyway, I had three really great games at the Mocksville tournament.  I ended up finishing a disappointing 1-2, but both of my losses came down to one roll in the last round.  I also had three really great opponents, and I ended up taking home the prize for Best Army (an amalgamation of paint and composition, I think).  All in, it was a fun day.  I had painted up a couple of new models for the army, so I thought I'd just take a picture of the army in all its glory:

When tournaments score paint, I tend to base my armies less around tabletop strategy and more around what I think will look best.  I was a little surprised that I got such a high composition score.  Clearly, this shows the effects of 8th edition on army lists.  At a 7th edition tournament, when I dropped a dragon on the table, I worried about getting punched in the face.  In 8th edition, I'm given a high comp score. I weep for what has become of my poor, poor dragon.

Here's a quick run down of my games:

Game 1:  I drew a Beastman army played by a player whom I know fairly well and whom I always enjoy playing.  When the game started, I felt pretty good about the game.  He had no shooting with which to harass my flyers, and I felt like my combat troops would match up pretty well.  I'd like to claim that there was some awesome tactical movement, but basically, our armies just plowed into one another in the center of the table.  Overall, the Beastmen really surprised me with their magic, and I really like the way that this player has his list set up.  I don't normally think of that as a dangerous magic army, but he played a level 4 with death, a level 2 with death, and 2 level 2s with beast.  He was able to boost his magic with the herdstone, and combined the miasma/purple sun combo with some nice buffs and debuffs.  My poor level 2 was pretty badly outclassed, and his magic dominance pushed the combats into his favor.  Still, I had a chance to win at the end as my Prince (on foot by this time -- the dragon had died turn 2) ran off the most expensive Beastmen block. I had whittled the 400 point block down to 4 models, and they finally broke.  Unfortunately, I came up one short on the pursuit, which means I got nothing for all of those kills (how I hate that rule).  I lost by 300 and some odd points, so that might have pulled me into a draw.  Even so, it was a fun game with some excellent banter.

Game 2:  I've been seeing a lot of Lizardmen armies lately, and I met with another in game 2.  This one was unique, however.  He was only running 1 level 1 wizard.  I wonder how many Lizardmen vs. High Elf games have been fought in 8th edition with a grand total of 3 wizard levels on the table.  This was the dragon's game to shine (although some skinks killed him in turn five) as he killed a unit of Salamanders, a unit of Saurus, and an Ancient Stegadon.  This was a pretty one-sided game in my favor, but honestly, I can't take much credit for it.  Every key moment went bad for my opponent whether it was difficult terrain, charge distances, pursuits, or magic.  I definitely applaud my opponent for running a cool, fluffy list regardless of its power level as well as for keeping a good spirit even though the fates had clearly lined up against him.

Game 3: At 1-1 with what I felt was decent number of battle points, I was still technically alive.  I matched up against a Vampire Counts player whom I had played before.  His list revealed a couple of holes in mine: I had no magic attacks or magic missiles with which to challenge the wraiths, and I didn't have enough fire attacks to fend off the Drakenhoff banner.  However, the objective made this game interesting.  Basically, we each got to declare two pieces of terrain as objectives, and whoever held the most at the end of the game won.  This game ended up with one of the most intense endings that I've had in a while.  My army had pretty much folded, but I had placed my two objective pieces over on the right flank, and my spearmen and swordmasters had gone over to hold them.  The way the game had progressed, there was really no way for my opponent to claim them.  The Drakenhoff unit controlled one for my opponent, leaving one free.

The VC player moved two units over in an attempt to claim the fourth objective (and send the decision to Victory Points).  My dragon threw himself in front of one of the units to cut them off.  I was hoping that he'd flank with the other unit, so that I could tie both up.  However, my opponent didn't fall for that, so I figured I was done.  I moved a chariot across in the top of the 5th, hoping it could do something, but the dragon had my path to the other unit blocked.  However, things turned around when the ghouls took the dragon down.  With it out of the way, my chariot was able to hit a very long charge to stop the other unit's advance.  My prince held the ghouls, and it looked like it was my opponent who had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  He then made his own hail mary pass in the bottom of the sixth round.  He marched his vampire to where it was barely in range, and landed a banishment which knocked the swordmasters down to 3 models.  He was hoping to panic them, but I held.  However, the casualties were actually enough to move me one base width away from the building, which meant that I had literally lost by one model.  Although the outcome was disappointing, the game was exceptionally satisfying.

This tournament drops me below .500 for the year, but I can't complain.  I won my second prize of the year and had three great games.  All the talk about the GT in October has me stoked as well.  Although I have some Tomb Kings looking longingly at me from the paint station, I believe they will have to wait.  I have three projects that I think will improve the appearance of my army leading for the GT.  Look for some updates soon in which I replace my spearmen with some conversions, build and paint a new centerpiece model, and redo my display board (or I'll continue to be lazy in which case, you won't see anything here).

Oh and Rod, I used the prize money to buy the Malifaux rules.  Just saying.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tournament Report (6/11 ~ Cornelius, NC) and Dwarf Miners

So, I took the High Elves to a tournament at Parker, Banner, Kent and Wayne in Cornelius, NC.  It's the first time that I've played a tournament here, and I really enjoyed it.  There were close to thirty players, and every fantasy army was represented. Painting wasn't judged, which is always disappointing, but otherwise I thought the organizers did an excellent job of running the event.  I'd definitely be willing to make the drive again.

One thing that I was most excited about was the discussion of expanding the Warhammer community in the Southeast.   The organizers made a couple of announcements of note.  First, they will be hosting a GT in Charlotte in October.  This means that we will have two two-day tournaments a year in NC (Brawler Bash is in April) about six months apart.  They also made an announcement about the Masters event that they've hosted the past three years in December.  In the past, local clubs have run mini-leagues and sent their champions to compete.  This year, they will be expanding to encompass other SE states (especially SC and VA).  They will also be opening it to winners of RTT.  In addition to these new or expanded events, they've developed a new website (WarNC) to facilitate discussion between the various areas.  I think that the website helped to contribute to what seemed to be a good turn out at the tourney.  All told, I think that these changes harken an exciting time for the hobby in NC and the Southeast.  Maybe some of my old friends from Tennessee will come over and join in the fun.

Anyway, here's the list that I took:

Archmage (F. Robe, Talisman of Saphery, Jewel of Dusk)
Archmage (Seerstaff)
BSB (Armor of Caledor, Dawnstone, Great Weapon)

40 Spearmen
20 Archers

19 Phoenix Guard (Banner of Sorcery)
30 White Lions (Banner of Discipline)
Lion Chariot

2 Eagles

Both the archmages took life so that I could use the Seerstaff to double life spells.  I wanted to buff the heck out of the White Lions and use dwellers when needed to soften the opposition and take out problem characters.  I had mixed results:

Game 1 (v. Lizardmen):  In this game, everything went pretty much as planned.  I dwellersed his Slann in oblivion, and my buffed unit of white lions pretty much massacred his whole army.  In addition, the dice went very poorly for my opponent, so the game pretty  spiraled quickly out of control.  In the end, I had picked up max. points and felt pretty good about the list.  I figured the only thing I had to worry about was a good dwarven or empire gun list.

Game 2 (v. Dwarf): So, when I traded lists with my opponent, I knew I was in trouble.  High elves have trouble with shooting lists anyway, and I had eliminated all the fast moving elements from my list.  Essentially, the only strategy available to me was line up straight across the board, march as quickly as possible, and hope for some irresistible force spells.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get double 6s, and his magic defense was pretty stout (Master Rune of Balance, Rune of Spelleater, 2 x Rune of Spellbreaking).  In the end, I was down to a handful of troops by the time I made it across, and his blocks of greatweapon dwarfs made short work of them.

As part of my post-game therapy, I came home and finished my first dwarf unit, some BfSP Miners.  I started painting them because I thought they were horrendous models, and I wanted to see what I could do with them.  I'm pretty happy with the results, and they don't look nearly as awful painted up:

Game 3 (v. Empire):  With a loss under my belt, all the pressure was off, and I was just looking for a fun third game.  Unfortunately, I showed up at the table to find even more war machines than the dwarfs had had: 3 mortars, 2 cannons, and a volley gun.  Despite the wall of shooting, this game ended up close.  I absorbed the empire shooting a little better than I had the dwarf guns, and my elite troops bested his.  If my chariot had made it into his warmachines (it dodged three canon balls before being dropped) or if my spears had been able to get through his flagellants a bit more quickly (40 spears and 30 flagellants spent the better part of three rounds wailing away on each other), I might have been able to pull it out.

In the end, I paid for eliminating the fast moving elements from my army.  I hadn't seen much in the way of shooting lists in 8th edition, with most opponents favoring large blocks of troops.  Ultimately, this was a good lesson in the need for balance in list design.  Anyway, there's another tournament in Mocksville on 6/25.  I'll post a report in couple of weeks.  Hopefully, I'll have more luck there.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

De Bellis Antiquitatis and a Carthaginian Elephant

So I mentioned before that a friend and I have dipped our toes into the world of historical miniatures gaming (you can read his take over at On First).  We have opted to begin with De Bellis Antiquitatis and have managed to work in four games thus far.

If you aren't familiar with DBA, it is produced by Wargames Research Group and is written by Phil Barker.  It features a rules system that is simple but allows for a great deal of tactical thinking.  The old adage about "minutes to learn, a lifetime to master" seems pretty apt thus far.  We were attracted to this particular game primarily for its positive reputation and its low cost of entry.  All that is needed to play are 12 bases of 15mm minis per side.  I currently have two armies (Carthaginians and Parthians), and using Ebay, I have paid less than thirty dollars a piece for them.

Because painting my Warhammer armies dominates my hobby time, I haven't worked on my DBA figures as much as I would have liked.  However, I have finished one elephant, and my Carthaginians are scattered across the painting table as I type.  Here are some pics of the elephant:

I've found that 15mm models take a different set of techniques to paint, and unfortunately, I haven't learned those techniques yet. Hopefully, I will get better as I work through my armies.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying DBA thus far, and I have found the following to be real strengths of the game:

1)  Fog of War Rules:  one of the core systems of the game is that each player rolls a die each round to see how many orders he can issue.  Each number on the die basically allows you to move one of your units.  If a unit is too far from your general or out of sight, the order costs two of your pips.  I really like that you can't count on your plan coming together.  This resource management system forces players to make tough decisions and adds a layer of uncertainty to the game.

2)  Tactical Movement:  movement seems to be a key factor in a successful game.  One thing that attracted me to Warhammer Fantasy over 40k was its focus on movement, and the games of DBA that we have played thus far have featured some fancy movement as the opposing armies have tried to position themselves for maximum advantage.

Of course, a few flaws exist within the system.  While the rules are simple, the author includes very sparse explanations and almost no graphics to help with unusual situations.  An unofficial guide to the rules exists; however, even with this text, my friend and I have had at least one rules question in each game.  It's also starting to seem that there might be a paper-rock-scissors aspect to the game as Bercilak's Roman blades have rolled over my Carthaginians both times we have played and my Parthian Knights have returned the favor by routing his Romans in both their games.  However, I'm not sure that we've given the game a good playtest yet.  We've made so many major tactical errors (allowing one of my own elephants to trample my general, allowing a landing party to be swept back into the sea) that we've joked that our generals are the little brothers of the actual generals.  I think as we pick up more of the rules and tactics that the armies will start to even out.

Overall, I'm really enjoying the change of pace that this game offers over Warhammer, and researching the historical details of the army to help with modeling and painting is a nice addition to my hobby.  However, there are four Warhammer Fantasy tournaments in my area over the next two eight weeks, so my high elves have returned to the painting table.  I have a tournament in Charlotte this weekend; I'll post some details early next week.