Saturday, July 7, 2012

Quake City Rumble 2012

Last weekend was Quake City Rumble at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.  This was my second year attending and overall I had a good time.  The only overall issue was some griping and confusion over how comp scores affected the pairings in the early rounds.  There were some matchups that seemed a lot more one sided than they should have been.  Some of the comp scores didn't quite make sense and there were some sneaking suspicions that newer armies got comped harder by default even when their lists were relatively soft.  Other than that ... the venue was good, the organization was good, the attendance was good, the games were fun, the opponents were fun to play against, and the painting and conversions on several of the armies were fantastic.

In terms of my actual performance, I don't really like where I placed.  I used the same list I had used at SAWS where I was 2-1-2 but ended up 2-0-3.  Turning one tie into a loss dropped me from the middle of the pack to the bottom quarter.  This is also worse than I did last year at QCR where I was 2-2-1.  I'll step through the games and then talk some about the other scoring components.

Game 1 : Loss
My first game was against Ryan's Lizardmen.  His list was a pretty standard tournament Lizard list: Slann, Temple Guard, Steg, SKrocs, some Saurus, some Skinks, and a Salamander.  He went first and during his magic phase he cast Throne of Vines followed by an irresistable Dwellers Below on my level 4 Sorceress' unit.  He killed my level 4 and paniced her unit off the table.  Starting out the game without the bulk of your offensive magic and trying to fend off a Slann with just a level 2 .... let's just say that I did well by not getting tabled.  My 'unkillable' Lord managed to tarpit his Steg for the whole game, so at least that part worked as planned.

Game 2 : Win
The second game was against Mike's Vampire Counts.  This is one of the Vampire Count armies I'd played and won against at SAWS, with some slight modifications, and there was a definite comp problem with his list.  We both agreed that his list was softer than his comp score reflected and that this matchup was probably not a good one for the second round when both of us had lost our first games. 

Mike was already having a bad day.  In his first game, his opponent's Hell Cannon misfired at the top of the first turn.  It's misfire result caused every caster on the table to suffer a miscast.  Mike had some really bad luck and lost all of his casters before he even got a turn.  Which means that his army started crumbling before he even got a turn.

Coming off that kind of quick and frustrating loss, I can see how he would be upset when I tabled him in three turns.  He took it as best he could, tried to keep from getting angry about it, and even waited a good long while before filling out my sportsmanship and comp scores to avoid being unnecessarily harsh due to his mood.  I hope he had better luck for the rest of the weekend.

The one interesting high point of the game was that his Wight King managed to Killing Blow my 'unkillable' Lord.

Game 3 : Win
Game three was against Brett's Scaven.  I've got a lot of practice playing Scaven and my army is really good at killing light infantry.  This was a really fun game that ended up being pretty close.  My 'unkillable' Lord managed to tarpit his Hellpit Abomination for the first half of the game.  I don't think it actually managed to get into any combats once it finally got free.  He also committed a bit of a tactical mistake by sending his Storm Vermin in to try to break the stalemate between my lord and the HPA, which really just meant that they got stuck for a couple of turns as well.  I took out his warmachines with scouts and fliers and killed enough Clan Rats to win.

Game 4 : Loss
My first game of the second day was against Greg's Empire.  I like getting to play tournament level Empire armies, since I still haven't played with the new book and really want to get back to working on my Empire army now that tournament season is over.  I've seen a lot of very mobile Empire lists lately, and this was a good example.  A big block of Knights, a couple of units of Demigryphs, Stank, Hurricanium, an some minimal infantry to guard some characters.  This game was fun but frustrating for me since I failed all but one charge I attempted in turns 2 and 3.  My 'unkillable' Lord made the only successful charge, whiffed, and then failed his break test on a stubborn 10 and was run down.   When Dark Elves can't move and get into combat when they want to in the early game, they just don't work.  I also didn't roll more than 3 dice for winds of magic in the first 3 turns.

Game 5 : Loss
Last game of the tournament was against Zack's Nurgle Warriors of Chaos.  His list was definitely softer than mine and it was comped appropriately.  By all odds I should have won this game, but bad luck with dice at bad times.  Failed charges I should have made, failed to cast spells that I needed, failed to run down units that I broke.  He also managed to kill my 'unkillable' Lord with magic before he got into combat.  He was a fun guy to play against though and we had a good time to finish out the event.

For those keeping score, my 'unkillable' Lord died in 4 out of 5 games.

Now for the other score related stuff.  I got a 20 out of 30 for painting.  Last year I got a 26 out of 30 with the same army and display board.  This really annoyed me.  All I can figure is that since there were even more amazing looking armies this year than last year, the judges must have raised the bar or something. 

My list was comped at 2 out of 15 by the tournament judges and my final comp score was 11.5, meaning that my opponents gave me a collective comp score of 9.5 out of 15 for an average of 1.9.  So my opponents gave me almost as many comp points each as the tournament comp judges gave me total.  Last year my total comp score was 7.5.  I attribute the difference to removing the second Hydra from the list, and my 'unkillable' Lord dying in almost every game.  The 4 point increase in comp doesn't quite compensate for the 6 point drop in painting, but it was are area that I hoped to improve from last year so I'm glad that I was successful there.

In terms of sportsmanship, this year I got a 52, up from 48 last year.  I feel like I did a better job of not letting bad luck get to me and trying to keep having fun regardless of what happened on the table, and I think the increase in sportsmanship reflects that.

Overall, my score this year was 146.5 versus 154.5 last year.  My battle score was 6 points lower than last year, but I did do a little better at getting scenario bonus points this year so it could have been worse with the win-loss record I had.  I brought up the couple of categories where I thought I could improve, but slipped even more in the ones I did well at last year.

For next year, my goal is to bring fully painted Empire instead of Dark Elves.  I'm going to try to increase my comp score from the judges while keeping the comp score from my opponents good, and keep my sportsmanship score where it is.  I've got some good ideas for conversions for my Empire army, so I'm hoping that I can pull my painting score back up to where it was.  In terms of win-loss, I'd be happy to get back to a more even record.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

SAWS Challenge 2012

This past weekend I went up to Sacramento for the SAWS Challenge tournament.  This was a large, fantasy-only event that sort of felt like the 'sister event' to Quake City Rumble.  Largely the same clubs in attendance, well organized and run, and well attended.  I had a great time and definitely plan to go back next year.

One part that I found particularly interesting was the way they did scenario objectives.  The actual game scenarios were pretty standard, which I thought was good.  Some tournament scenarios are so screwy that they end up making the games annoying or are kind of unfair towards one kind of army or another.  The twist was that each player got a big list of generic scenario objectives (take more standards than your opponent, kill the enemy's most expensive character / unit, control more table quarters, etc) and they got to pick one objective at the start of each game to try to accomplish.  You could only pick each objective once, and there were about twice as many objectives as there were games in the tournament.  I really liked getting to take a look at the opposing army and then pick a bonus objective that I thought I could actually accomplish.

I plan on keeping the list I used, at least through Quake City Rumble, which is a slight variation on the list I used last year -
'Unkillable' Dread Lord on Dark Pegasus, General
Lvl 4 Shadow Sorceress w/ Sac Dagger
Cauldron BSB
Lvl 2 Dark Sorceress w/ Familar
Block of Sacrificial Spearmen
Big block of Frenzied Corsairs
Big Block of Witch Elves
5 Dark Riders
2 units of Harpies
2 units of Shades

The big difference are the Dread Lord as General, only one Hydra, added one unit of Dark Riders, and added a rank to both the Corsairs and Witches.

My first game was against Mike's Vampire Counts.  Mike was getting over a cold and his list seemed fairly conservative.  No toys from the new Vampire Counts book.  He was a cool guy and fun to play against, but seemed a little off his game or perhaps not used to playing against Dark Elves (a comment I would hear a lot).  I tabled him in 5 turns.  For my special objective I picked "destroy the opponent's most expensive character" since killing the General is the best way to beat Vampires.

Game 2 was against Nathan's Empire.  His list was very mobile.  Two cannons, but otherwise everything else was mounted.  Two big blocks of Knights as core, two units of Demigryphs, a Steam Tank, and ... I want to say the Hurricanium.  We fought to a draw since I had trouble getting through his armor and the Demigryphs are pretty good at killing lightly armored Elves.  I picked the "destroy the opponent's most expensive unit" objective which I didn't do.  I figured I'd be able to take out the slightly bigger unit of Knights, but it wasn't in the cards.

Game 3 was against Joe's 'Evil Christmas' themed Vampire Count army.  I'm not sure that there was a single normal Vampire model on the table.  This was a fully themed and converted army that was hilarious. As an example, his Grave Guard unit was 'Presents Gone Wrong'.  They were wrapped Christmas presents with little boots and a single big-beefy arm holding a meat cleaver.  Great fun to play against, but Joe also hadn't had much experience playing against Dark Elves so he wasn't prepared for how effectively Corsairs and Witches can tear through light troops.  We called it a day in turn 4 as we were running short on time.  I picked "destroy all the opponent's spell casters", but was not able to kill them all before we called it.

Game 4 was the first game of day 2.  Considering that the day before I had won two games and tied one game, I fully expected to lose both remaining games.  I played Jason's Vampire Counts (note the developing trend) which had more of the toys from the new book than the previous two Vampire armies I played: Mortis Engine, Terror Giest, and Crypt Horrors.  Jason was a cool guy and a lot of fun to play against.  I lost my General to the Terror Geist's scream attack very early in the game, and a couple of bad rolls at bad times kept me from turning the game around.  In the end, I lost all my characters (his Grave Guard managed to kill my Cauldron in one turn, my level 4 blew herself up, and my level 2 was killed by two dogs that she really should have been able to handle) which was enough to give Jason the win.  I picked the "have more units in your opponent's deployment zone than he has in yours" objective, which I managed to pull off easily what with all my scouts and fliers.

Game 5 was against Derek's Vampire Counts.  For those of you following along at home, yes I played Vampires in four out of five games.  I had previously played Derek at the Bay Area Open and did very poorly.  This game went a little better, but it was still obvious that I was going to lose by the end of the first turn.  I lost my General to Death magic in the first turn and was on the defensive from there on.  I picked "destroy more than 50% of your opponent's army by model count" as my special objective, which I managed to pull off.  Turns out that ripping through a couple of massive units of Zombies is good for something.

In the end, I finished 32rd out of 64.  Two wins, one draw, two losses.  22 out of 30 for a painting score.  Comp and sportsmanship were fine, and I got my bonus objective in 3 out of 5 games.  I'm happy with my performance, intend to go back next year, and got some good experience that will help at Quake City Rumble.  I would have liked to have faced a wider variety of armies, but other than that it was a solid weekend.

Bay Area Open 2012

I haven't done a lot of gaming since the end of the escalation league.  Things pretty much ground to a halt since everyone was a little burnt out.  As tournament season started approaching, I decide that break time was over but I had a tough choice to make.  I'd been playing Empire, but hadn't started painting them yet and a new Empire book was looming on the horizon.  I was out of practice with Dark Elves and wanted to make some improvements to my list from the previous year.  If I was going to play Empire, I was going to have to paint like the wind and hope that the new book didn't disrupt things too much.  If I were going to play Dark Elves again, I would need to get in some practice games to figure out what list changes I wanted to make so I could paint whatever additional models I needed.

I decided to take the easier route and go with Dark Elves again.  I signed up for the Bay Area Open at the last minute as a way to get in some test games with a slightly different list.  The reason I hadn't blogged about that tournament yet was because I did so poorly at it, I don't even want to think about it any more.  However, I did learn that the list I was trying simply wasn't going to work for me.  Other people might have success with Cold One Knights, but I just can't get the hang of them in 8th.  So I went back to the drawing board and came up with a list that was more my style and started practicing for the next tournament of the season, the SAWS Challenge. 

The actual tournament seemed ok.  The fantasy turnout was maybe half that of 40k and less than flames of war, somewhere around 30 players.  They seemed a little disorganized and since fantasy was the lowest attended part of the tournament, I felt like we were also the least well run part of the event.  I'd say there's a 70% chance that I'll go back next year.