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.