I have returned from Brawler Bash VI, and I have to say that it was undoubtedly the best event that I have ever attended. I've been to Grailquest, another tournament organized by the Bull City Wargaming folks, but they really put on a show this year. Here's a quick list of what I made this event stand out:
- The Carnage System of Scoring: The only thing that matters under this system is how many battle points and objective points you earn each game. I wouldn't want every tournament to use this system because I think it discourages certain armies. However, it's a nice change of pace. I also think it makes for friendlier games because winning and losing are irrelevant (for most people).
- The Focus on Soft Scores: Brawler Bash, more so than other tournaments, seems to pride itself on celebrating the entire hobby. If you look at the final standings, you'll see how much painting and sportsmanship affected the placings. Some people moved up ten to twelve positions.
- The Extras: The organizers put a lot of effort into the experience. They hosted the "Brown Brawler," a single miniature paint competition, they had QR-reader enabled live standings, they brought in food for lunch both days, they had a Friday night pre-tournament gaming event, they streamed the top table on the internet (here's a link to my game; it features many shots of my crotch), and about thirty different prizes (including ten that gave store credit).
- The Store: Atomic Empire is truly an amazing store and has really molded itself into a gaming event center. It fit almost 100 players and had room to spare.
- The Players: The event featured 68 fantasy players and maybe 25 40k players. People came from all over the country to be here (and the prize for farthest distance traveled went to a player from Canada). There were also some wargaming internet celebrities in attendance, and I met the Sustainable Center, Malorian, Lord Inquisitor, Shimmergloom, Mr. Brohammer, and Once Bitten. I'm sure that there were others in attendance as well. I had five great games against great looking armies and got to hang out with some folks I only see once a year.
One thing I noticed is that the level of painting and modelling has really increased this year. There were some awesome armies on display. I'll follow this post with some pictures I took of a few of my favorite armies. With armies like I saw this weekend, I was very happy to finish fourth in painting. I can't say enough about the care that people had put into their forces.
As far as my games went, I had one of my better GTs. On the way down, I had listened to a Bad Dice Daily, and Ben Curry said that people who played mages on monsters were "hobby gamers" who did not worry about unit performance. Paul and I joked a little about that, but it wasn't far off. My list was created solely to push the dragon theme out as far as possible. One of my opponents remarked that he appreciated that I took the list that I enjoyed playing instead of what was optimal, but I ended up doing pretty well with it. I played game 5 on table three (in sixth place in battle points), and although my final opponent curb stomped me, I still finished in the top-20 in battle points. Take that Dragon Mage haters! Here's a few highlights:
Game 1 vs. Powerposey's Daemons of Slannesh: Tony said that this was a battle of "fluffy bunnies" (notice how high he finished as well --go soft armies!), and it was very fun. It was also a microcosm of my tournament. I started of well and ended up just trying to hold on once my opponent's big blocks reach my lines. I think my MVP unit here was a river of light in which Tony deployed his seekers. It cast net on them, he tried to move, failed and killed most of the unit. If this unit had gotten moving, the lash could have made things bad for me. The most exciting moment for me happened at the end. My objective was to keep both mages alive, and I had managed to do so (the only game that happened in the tournament). However, in turn 6 he rolled an 11 for magic which meant that I had to pass a leadership test or have a mage turn into a daemon. That was a stressful roll. Like I said, Tony's a fun, laid back opponent, so it was a great way to start the tournament. I won our grudge match and picked up 4500 victory points.
Game 2 vs. Method's Chaos Dwarves: Jerry's dwarves look beautiful (see the army shot above), and he took a well-deserved second place in painting. I later heard it said about Jerry that "he makes you feel good while he kicks your teeth in," and that's pretty much what happened here. Jerry always finishes highly ranked, and he was riding a string of second-place GT finishes. His skill, plus my complete ignorance of chaos dwarves, made this an uphill battle. The move that sealed my fate was Jerry six-dicing Ash Storm every round. This locked my dragon in place, and he didn't see combat until turn 6. That said, Jerry has a great sense of humor and he made the game fun. I only managed to pick up maybe 1200 points, sending me back down the tables.
Game 3 vs. Jason's Vampire Counts: This game went very badly from my opponent from the start. Sometimes we say the dice betrayed us, but in this game they really did betray Jason. I think I made the right moves in the game, but I don't think he made any meaningful roll while I was rocking everything. I'm sure he thought my dice were loaded. Still, he kept a great attitude, and it was fun trying to coax his guys to wound something. He later said that he was local and that this was his first tournament. He said that he'd start coming to the bi-monthly Atomic Empire tournaments, so I'm looking forward to playing him again. I picked up the maximum 5000 points in this game, launching me back through the ranks.
Game 4 vs. Paul's Empire: Paul had a very well designed empire list, and if I played Empire, this would probably be how I'd want to do it. He had 2 tanks, 2 cannons, a block of knights, 2 units of demigryphs, a hurricanium, a horde of halbediers, and other supporting stuff. This was the army that makes my flying character army lie awake at night. However, in turn 1 Paul experienced the single worst turn in Warhammer history. I noticed that he had put his BSB on the flank, so I threw everything at destroying the most vulnerable unit in the center of his batteline. A 3d6 fireball and 30 archer shots later, and the hurricanium was dead. Paul then proceeded to panic off the board a unit of demigryphs and his level 4's archer bunker. He followed this up by misfire exploding one of his canons in round one and the other in round two. Disaster! I was impressed by how he kept his composure and focused on salvaging the game. In the end, he collected quite a few victory points and kept himself in the hunt. I think I finished with like 3500 here.
Game 5 vs. Brandon's Nurgle Daemons: So, I played another person with the last name Brandon. He had a some really smart Nurgle proxies, including using gorebeasts for beasts and a doom bull for an unclean one. I think Nurgle is very powerful right now, especially with Epidemius, and this game proved it (and actually increased my desire to have a Nurgle army). My opponent used his objective card brilliantly. He said that he had been saving his vanguard card for a T3 opponent, and in my elves, he finally played one. He got to vanguard his unclean one forward. He then won first turn, positioned his GUO right in front of the right side of my line and sent the toughness vortex all the way down. He filled Epidemius's tally just from that spell, and the game was pretty much over. I actually enjoyed the challenge of trying to pick up what points I could with my dragon, and in the end, I managed 1500. This knocked me from 6th to 16th in battle points, but I still met my goal of top-20 in battle points.
Great games; great opponents all.
Starting the tournament, I had three goals, and I actually achieved them all (for maybe the first time ever). As I said, I wanted to finish in the top-20 in battle points, and I managed to pull 16 out of 68 with my low magic, high ridden monster list (and 4th in best overall!). I also wanted to finish in the top five in painting. However, once I got to the tournament and saw the armies, I figured that top-10 was more realistic. In the end, I did up finishing fourth, which I think is quite an accomplishment. I guess people like dragons. Finally, I wanted to win the award for top high elf-player. Ben, another elf player from the great state of Tennessee, was playing on the table right next to me all day. He's also an awesome painter. His chimera won the Brown Brawler, so I knew his soft scores would make it tough to beat him. In the end, I was fortunate enough to claim the trophy. Although only 4 HE armies were in attendance, they were played by good players (and one of them had Teclis), so I was pleased. I was also surprised to win the award for "Best Opponent/Sportsmanship." This is my first time winning a sportsmanship award (obviously, since Tom from Bull City Wargaming wins them all), and I want to thank my opponents for voting for me.
In closing, I think this tournament will really transform the local scene. It generated a lot of buzz and brought in players that have never played tournaments before. It also showed what a well-publicized GT could do in terms of attendance. Once Bitten is organizing the next regional GT, Southern Assault. It will be held on July 13/14, and the player pack was announced during BB. This is the most heavily comped of the local GTs, and I am hoping that the momentum carries forward and that he can draw 50 or more players.