Yesterday was the local first round of Fantasy 'ard Boyz at Game Kastle. We had a total of 6 people there, which from what I heard was double the number that showed up the year before. So instead of just rolling off to see who got which prizes we actually got to play.
My list is a slight expansion of my normal list. Sacrificial Dagger level 4 with a block of Spears to kill. Level 2 on a horse with Dark instead of Death (Death just never seemed to do much for me). Block of Corsairs, block of Black Guard, block of Witches, block of Crossbows, couple of unit of Shades, couple of units of Harpies, Cauldron BSB. The main difference was 2 Hydras and a stubborn Dreadlord on a Dark Pegasus with the Pendant.
Game 1: So this is what it feels like to fight Dark Elves.
My first game was against another Dark Elf player who came down from the other side of the Bay. His list was a good example of what I was afraid I would see at 'ard Boyz. The main feature was a unit of 65, count 'em, 65 Corsairs with 4, count 'em, 4 characters, 2 of which, count 'em, 2 of which were special characters. BSB with the Always Strike First banner, Dreadlord kitted up for challenges, Lokhir Fellheart and the Chrone. The rest of the list was a big block of spears with a level 2 caster, a Hydra, about 10 Cold One Knights, a couple of units of Harpies and a Cauldron.
The scenario was the 'random line of sight restriction'. We both had a couple of characters and a Hydra get stuck as reserves. Given the big differences between our approach to list construction, the game was quite predictable. I fed his Corsair unit small cheap things angled so his frenzy overrun would take him off the table while I killed the rest of his army. I shot, flamed, and Soul Stealer-ed his Spears down to just the character. The random line of sight caused a few charges to have to wait a turn. His Knights caught my Hydra in the side, and killed him, but then were eventually counter charged by my Corsairs and Dreadlord and taken out. My Witches killed his Hydra easily. I also shot at and cast Soul Stealer on his Corsairs and got them down to.... I think 10 or so by the end of the game, but the only expensive unit he managed to kill with it was my Black Guard. The result was a draw but I got one more point than him due to the special objectives. We both killed each others' cheapest unit and I killed his Hydra that came in from reserve.
Game 2: Thursday night, take 2.
My second game was against a friend who was playing a beefed up version of his Warriors of Chaos list that I had just played on Thursday. During that game his Hellcannon managed to kill all but 6 of my Witches and 3 or my Corsairs in its first two shots and his Knights broke my Black Guard, which isn't supposed to happen, and ran them down on turn 2. Yep, you read that right, at the start of my second turn I had lost basically my entire close combat force. He'd added a second Hellcannon, a second Warshrine, and some additional Warriors to one of his two blocks. Everything in the army that was markable had the Mark of Tzeech.
The scenario gave a special weapon to one core unit that gave them +1 attack and +1 strength. I went with my Corsairs and he went with the bigger block of Warriors.
Turn 1, I go first and move everything up to be ready to start charging next turn. His first Hellcannon misses and the second misfires, blows up, and kills his level 2 caster who was near by. This was huge. At that point we both sort of knew that we'd be playing out the game for the heck of it since my Dreadlord was lined up to charge his other Hellcannon. Well ..... games with dice .....
My Dreadlord fails his charge on the other Hellcannon. My Corsairs with the magic weapon and a Hydra charge in against his bigger block of Warriors and should rip them apart. I was not fortunate enough to get Mindrazor this time, but I did manage to get some good debuffs on his Warrior block that gave me a significant statistical advantage. But, well ..... games with dice......
He saves almost every wound I put on him and wins combat by a couple. The Hydra stays but my Corsairs break and run, losing frenzy and dropping the special weapon. The next turn he breaks the Hydra and runs it down just as the Corsairs rally and turn around. On the other side of the table, his Knights grind through the Blackguard and my Witches bounce off his other block of Warriors while my other Hydra chases his Warshrines around but doesn't manage to actually catch anything.
Time gets called in our, I want to say 4th turn. In the end I had killed his Hellcannon. He had killed his other Hellcannon and level 2 caster. I'd lost enough points to give him a minor victory. This game was incredibly frustrating. Given how poorly it started out for my opponent I should have been able to capitalize and get a solid win. Instead I watched my army trip over its own feet and then gently poke at his army instead of running across the table and tearing it apart as it's designed to do.
Game 3: Don't call it a comeback.
For the last game I played a High Elf played who was just starting to figure out how to play 8th. He was playing a Teclis list with a second level 4 and a bunch of small-ish for 8th but good sized for 7th blocks of infantry, 5 Dragon Princes, and a block of 30 Seaguard. After the game we talked about his list since he had felt frustrated all day and I gave him some pointers. I told him to drop the second level 4 down to 2 since Teclis used almost all the dice himself and she only cast 1 spell the entire game, put the two smaller blocks of Swordmasters into a single large block, either add a second rank to the Dragon Princes or get rid of them.
The final scenario was a pain in the ass. I don't think anyone at the event had anything good to say about it. There was a prisoner's dilemma chaos portal in the middle of the table which you could only hold with a character in base contact and was worth 500 points. If no one held it, the game was a draw regardless of what else happened. If both claimed it then no one got anything for it and you figured the result as normal. There was also a chart of random effects that you had to roll for every game turn. The strangest part was that at the end of turn 4 you rolled a die and on a 3+ the game ended then. In later turns you had to roll higher to end the game, so this didn't really make much sense unless GW really wanted these games to end on turn 4. All the games at the event ended on turn 4.
During this game we rolled the 'half movement' random effect twice. So suddenly two Elf armies who are used to zipping around the table are just kind of hanging back and looking at each other. Given that we expected the game to end after turn 4, this made the game frustrating for both of us. He had all his characters in a Phoenix Guard bunker, so I tried to get my Dreadlord to charge that unit and just tie them up away from the portal with Challenges. Thanks to the reduced movement he didn't make it and instead got stuck fighting a block of spears with Mindrazor. Now, I can make a pretty good number of reverse ward saves, but after two rounds of combat where I'm trying to make about 10 or 12 of them per round my Dreadlord was dead. Thanks to the reduced movement I couldn't get him any backup either.
At that point we sort of piled around the portal and things ground to a halt. My Witches locked up with his Seaguard and my Blackguard locked up with the Spears that just killed my General. Out on the flanks, my crossbows shot a unit of Swordmasters to death and my Hydra closed in on his Dragon Princes with some Harpies blocking them. On the other side my Corsairs and other Hydra were closing in on some Swordmasters after the Hydra flamed and paniced some White Lions. I moved my Level 4 with Spears and my Cauldron up to hold the portal.
My Blackguard were wiped out by his Spearmen with Mindrazor and then charged into my Level 4 and Spears. My unit broke but he decided to park on the portal instead of pursuing, which turned out to be a huge mistake since this was turn 4 and the game was about to end.
On my last turn I charge, break, and run down the Dragon Princes on one flank. My Hydra on the other flank breaks and runs down the unit of Swordmasters on the other flank. My Witches finally kill enough Seaguard to make them lose Steadfast and run them down. Those three combats on the last turn swing things to a minor victory for me since we both had characters on the portal.
All in all, it was a mixed bag. I had fun hanging out with the other players. I don't know that I can say I actually had fun playing any of the three games. I spent game 1 avoiding a deathstar, game 2 watching my army fail to perform, and game 3 watching both armies stumble slowly towards each other while the imposed turn limit crept up on us. Since there was no painting component, only a couple of the armies were painted. So while it was nice that the guy running the tournament made a point of taking photos of my army during games, I didn't really feel the sense of spectacle that I would get at even the club tournaments back in Virginia. I didn't have any annoying opponents, so I guess that's a plus.
After the GT in June I should have a bit more perspective since that one has both painting and comp, but at this point I think I enjoy tournaments with those scores included more than the 'ard Boyz format. I also think I prefer casual games, leagues, or challenge pyramids more than tournaments, but I'm not ready to swear off tournaments altogether.
I did manage to come in 3rd, so I advance to the next round. I don't expect to make it any further since I fully expect the next round to be full of lists on par with my first opponent, but that's ok.