Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gaming Resolutions for 2014 and An Ellyrian Reaver

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and I wish everyone the best for the new year.

It's New Year's Eve, which means that it's resolution time.  Before committing myself to a bunch of goals, let's take a look at last year's goals:

1)  Take a Painting Lesson:  Check this one off as positive.  I had the chance to talk to and watch two really good painters at work, and I picked up a few tips that will hopefully improve my scores.

2)  Get Another Horde of White Lions Painted:  Check this one off as well.  I can now field two units of 30 lions.  With the new rule changes, however, I tend not to use two hordes. That said, I'm hoping to drop a unit of 50 on the table at some point.

3)  Get a Full Blown Caledor Army on the Table in Time for Brawler Bash: I got half of this one.  I've posted a shot and have since added a dragon themed skycutter.  The army looks sharp and has scored well at the tournaments in which I have used it.  I did not, however, get a new display board finished.

4)  Play Teclis at a 7th Edition Tournament:  Of course, Teclis was the ultimate 7th edition cheese, but I did take him to Scarab Con.  I probably didn't place as highly as I should have considering the list I was using.  I also didn't find tossing six dice at spells over and over again particularly fun or satisfying.  Alas.

5)  Construct an Alith Anar Army:  I struck out on this one.  I made a list with some proxies and played a practice game against Paul.  It was a fun army to play, but I got distracted by other projects.

If you are keeping score at home, I completed 3.5 out of 5 of my goals.  That's a much better success rate than those that I set for my general life (I was 0-2 there).  We shall see how I do with my 2014 goals, which I think are a bit more challenging than last years:

1)  Finish My Elf Army:  Every time I think I'm finished, they keep pulling me back in.  That said, once I finish the following, I think I'll be done:  an honest dragon to frost phoenix conversion, one more dragon skycutter, one more eagle dragon, 3 units of reavers (pictured below),10 sisters, and a Carmine dragon.  (The model tally sheet for goal 1:  4 large models, 15 cavalry, 10 infantry).

2)  Get a Daemon Army on the Table:  I really want to take my time and put together a well painted daemon army, complete with resin bases.  I don't have a specific list yet, but my vision involves getting the following finished:  great unclean one conversion, 2 heralds of tzeentch, a herald of nurgle, blue scribe conversion, 30 plaguebearers, 20 horrors, 12 bloodletters, 9 plague toads, 2 skull cannon conversions, 2 burning chariots, 3 plague drones, and resin bases for all of them. (The model tally here will be 1 large model, 65 infantry, 13 monstrous cav/infantry, 4 chariots).

3)  Complete a Display Board for Both Armies:  The display boards in the Mid-Atlantic tournaments have gotten crazy good.  I really need to upgrade mine.  I have two really good ideas, but I'm not sure if I have the skills to pull them off.

4)  Get Five Tables of High Quality Terrain Completed:  I want to be able to better support some of my tournament organizers, and it seems when the tournaments get really large terrain seems to be a big issue.  I have some nice pieces, but I need to collect a bit more (looking at some river sets, some more GW hills, and some modular forests).  I also need to paint 4 of the GW building sets that I have. (The model tally here will be 4 GW buildings and 5 GW hills)

5)  Qualify for the Masters Again:  I think the Masters tournaments have great potential to unit the various scenes across our country, and it's really exciting to be part of that.  It's only going to get more difficult to qualify, and I'm not sure that my personal life will allow me to attend as many tournaments as last year.

6)  Organize a League and/or Tournament:  This is something that I've been thinking about for some time, and I'm hoping to try my hand at this aspect of the hobby.

7)  Blog More:  I like having a record of my gaming thoughts (it amuses me to see how excited I was about Tomb Kings, considering I sold the army before it ever really saw the table), and the occasional comment is nice as well (thanks to Da Masta Cheef for his frequent comments here!). I'd like to get at least two posts a month and maybe join a larger network.

Looking back over these, I think I will be pushed to get them all completed.  Hopefully, I'll keep my motivation high, get everything finished, and have a great time doing so.

I'm going to keep a running tally of everything I have to finish this year:

0/5 Large Models; 0/75 infantry; 0/15 cavalry; 0/13 monstrous stuff; 0/4 chariots; 0/4 buildings; 0/5 hills

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Brawl 2013 Review

I know that I still need to write up what happened at the SE Masters, but I'm just back from the Holiday Brawl in Cleveland, Tennessee and wanted to go ahead and discuss it while it is fresh in my mind.  I'm preparing to relocate to Cleveland, so I decided to head to the tournament in hopes of meeting some of the local gamers.  I'm glad that I did because I ended up meeting a lot of great people and having a very fun time.  The tournament was held in Dicehead Games, located in Cleveland's mall.  It was the first time that I had been to the shop, and I found it a great place to game.  They have a large space in the back for playing, you can walk to the food court for lunch, they have a nice selection of gaming stuff to spend your winnings on, and the owner is very helpful and friendly.

The tournament itself was well organized, and I'd recommend that folks within driving distance make the trip to future Brawls.  It was essentially a mini-GT: a one-day, three game affair with prizes for soft scores. The games were based around objectives which was a nice change of pace from the 20-0 systems that so many NC/VA tournaments are based on.  The organizer said that he uses objective instead of comp.  Basically, players can bring whatever they want because the games aren't built around smashing opponent's in the mouth.  The objective-focused play really changed the ways that the games went and in some cases weakened some of the power-builds.  For example, I played a chariot based Nurgle warriors army in the third game and felt like he was at a real disadvantage in the scenario.

Anyway, here's a quick review of my three games:

In the first round, I played John's Lizardmen.  I recognized him from Grail Quest, and he had an interesting list that featured an ethereal Slann, two stegadons, two salamander, 2 large saurus blocks, and some skinks.  The scenario was mainly about claiming objectives with smaller points given to preserving your largest block of troops while killing his.  I always enjoy scenarios like this because they force armies out of their normal blocks as players have to set up to get the objectives.  My reavers really shined in this game because they were able to vanguard up to the objectives, and when I got first turn, they used their speed to escape.  I was surprised that my opponent didn't use his heavens magic to nuke the reavers, but I think he was playing to kill stuff more than to claim the objectives.  For my part, I threw him stuff to kill but managed to complete all of the objectives, so while he racked up far more victory points, I won all but one objective, netting me almost maximum points.  John's big moment came when a unit of Saurus out-lasted my white lion horde, killing them to a man.  It was a pretty suspenseful combat and made for great gaming.

In the second round, I played Todd's Lizardmen.  He's the organizer of NasCon, which is one of the new tournaments in the Master's series.  Talking to him about his tournament really got me excited to go this year.  He's got some great ideas, and it sounds like an excellent event.  It's definitely made my calendar this year.  This scenario was basically a modified watchtower where the goal was to have control of a central hill.  There was also a secondary objective wherein the player who killed a giant turkey (holiday themed, of course) grabbed some objectives.  Todd had a pretty nasty looking gutstar backed up by two cannons and some shooty maneaters.  I didn't have enough chaff to keep him off the hill, and I didn't really have anything to face the gutstar directly. I figured there was no way to win that hill.  Therefore, I decided to throw everything at killing the turkey, which ended up being harder than it looked.  Todd said afterwards that the turkey was his MVP after it forced my lion horde to fail a rerollable leadership 10 test, took out my star dragon, and killed my BSB.  I didn't think I was going to get the job done until one of my reaver units made a suicidal charge and managed to take the last wound off.  I liked the scenario.  The turkey was defensive enough where it couldn't be claimed easily, but slow enough where players could choose to ignore it if they wanted.  I thought that made for a good tactical tradeoff.  I'd be interested to hear from Todd whether he had fun watching me fight a turkey the whole game though.  He got the hill which netted him 15 points, but I got the turkey for 10.  I don't think anyone at the tournament was able to do both, so I only lost 5 points on the leaders here.

In the third round, I played Will's Warriors.  He was running Daemon prince, throgg, a bunch of trolls, a bunch of chariots, unkillable BSB, 2 units of crushers, and a chimera.  The problem for will was that the scenario was blood and glory, and he didn't have very many banners.  Basically, I knew that all I had to do was kill the daemon prince and not have my fortitude broken and I was fine.  In the end, the daemon prince died, and I was able to hide enough banners to take home the win.

In the end, I knew that I had a decent battle point score (ended up being third in battle), and I figured my painting score would be fine.  Because of that, I was thinking that best overall would come down to the sportsmanship vote.  It turns out that was true; I ended up with four more sports points than Todd which allowed me to slip by and win best overall by two points.  The other prizes were as follows: Todd Perkins took home best general, Chip King won best paint with his very nicely painted army, and William Sinclair (from game three) took home best sports.  I was very happy with the finish, and I loved the trophy.  My wife agrees that it is the coolest trophy that I have won thus far:

Overall, I really enjoyed myself, and I can tell that there are some great people to game with in Cleveland (which was one of my top ten moving fears -- check that one off).  I appreciate the work and care that Robbie put into the event and look forward to attending his next tournament.  I'll follow up with the results from the Master's in a few days.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

'Twas the Night Before the SE Masters (and a High Elf Skycutter Conversion)

The title is not exactly true. The Southeastern Masters are going to be held this Saturday (12/6).  The qualifiers of this event are the ten highest overall scorers from some of the largest tournaments in the region: Scarab Con, Brawler Bash, Southern Assault, NOVA, and Grail Quest.  The player list is very strong, and I feel fortunate to be included.

If you're curious, the lists for the events have been published at Wargamers USA (a relatively new website designed to unite the various US Warhammer communities: http://www.wargamersusa.com/showthread.php?tid=1803).  They've generated some interesting discussion for sure.  One thing to keep in mind when looking at the lists is that they were designed for a very small meta.  All of the players in this event know each other well, and we are well acquainted with the types of list that we prefer to bring.  Because of that, I don't think these are lists most would take in an all-comers environment.

Personally, I decided to go with a Star Dragon list.  Two of my better finishes this year came with a Star Dragon in the army.  I also felt that a highly maneuverable army would work well against what I was likely to see.  Because of the armies that these folks typically play, I also expected to see fewer cannons.  In actuality, people brought more warmachines than I expected (there are four cannons, two trebs (which I was not expecting), and a handful of bolt throwers among the ten armies). Still, I think the list is a good fit for my playstyle. Here's the list i will be rocking:

Prince on Star Dragon
Lvl 2 Life Mage on Steed
BSB on Great Eagle (set-up to catch cannonballs)

5 Reavers
5 Reavers
5 Silver Helms
5 Silver Helms
5 Silver Helms

Lion Chariot
Lion Chariot

Frost Phoenix
Frost Phoenix

That's pretty spammy, but I think it'll be fun to play and should be able to cover the board quickly.  In my last list, I had included some spearmen for ranks but found that there was really no way for them to keep up with flyers.  I've experimented some with larger units of silver helms, but I've not really been impressed by large units unless there are characters present.

Interestingly, I'm not the only one who thought a list like this would be effective because in round 1, I  am playing a very similar list.  He combined two of the silver helm units together,  he kitted out his characters a little differently, and he chose to include a noble on griffon instead of the chariots.  Otherwise, they are pretty similar. I'm expecting it to be a very atypical game of Warhammer.

If you are interested in following me in my quest to be the 2013 Southern Overlord (note: my real goal is not to finish last), you have a few options.  First, Atomic Empire will be streaming the top table all day:  http://www.twitch.tv/atomicempire/profile. Perhaps I'll be there. Some folks will probably also be covering it via Twitter. I'll try to post a few things myself, but I'm pretty much a Twitter amateur.  Here's a link to my page if you care to see how things are going: https://twitter.com/rotgutmanglers.  Wish me luck!

Also, since posts with pictures are cooler than those without, here's a picture of my new Skycutter conversion:

I'm very pleased with the way it came out.