Monday, August 29, 2011

NOVA Open Report - Thursday through Saturday

I flew in Thursday pretty early and made my way to the hotel.  I checked in and got my swag bag and what nots.  Overall, the swag bag was good, the highlight of which for me is the bag itself.  As a brief aside, I am a huge advocate of using canvas bags for grocery shopping in order to not use up precious petroleum for plastic bags and creating more litter.  So getting the swag in a canvas bag is clutch.

I happened to be staying with a buddy who lived literally a mile away from the Hyatt on the same street, but he was at work still, so I just idled like a modern day vagabond around the hotel.  I found a Chipotle up the street and grabbed lunch and made my way back to the hotel.  At about 6pm they started letting us into the gaming area, which was enormous.  I was insanely impressed with not only the scale of the venue but the quality and symmetry of the terrain.  A lot of people (IG players) complained about the terrain, but my opinion was it was very balanced and fair.  With one exception, which I'll go into in depth in my Day 2 report.

At about 7:30 we began the Whiskey Challenge.  I was matched up against Hulksmash who was playing his well tested Loganwing list.  I would have preferred his Tyranids, haha.  Hulk is not only a great player but a good opponent and a fun dude.  We had a pretty close and bloody game.  Pitched Battle with Objectives as the primary win condition.  At the end of turn 5, the game ended with him controlling 3 objectives to my 1.  The game was much closer than that would indicate.  He had 3 objectives, which were held by a total of at most 8 Wolf Guard.  I had 2 Purifiers holding an objective, but safely out of line of sight.  I also had 3 fully functional Pysflemen Dreads kicking.  I'm fairly confidant that I could have cleared one of the objectives Turn 6, and another Turn 7, had the game continued.   All in all, we had fun and it was a good test for my list against one of the better players in the country.

I suppose I should have mentioned by now that I played this list.  My Crowe/Purifier Grey Knights list.  As I have repeatedly stressed, I am fully away it isn't a "competitive" list.  My goal for the weekend was to have fun, meet as many of you as possible, and if possible finish with a 4-4 record.


Friday was a rest day for me as I wasn't in the Invitational, and didn't have any events planned.  I slept past 6am for the first time in over a year, including weekends, thanks to my obsessive cycling training getting me up pre-dawn on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  It was very nice to wake up naturally with an alarm blaring.

I went to the gym in my buddy's building and worked out for about an hour, hit the showers and grabbed breakfast.  After that, I explored the neighborhood, Crystal City, a bit.  It was a really nice area with most amenities you could want, with an upscale, young professional population.  It was pretty nice.  I made my way to the hotel to watch some of the Invitational games, the highlight of which was watching Bringer of Victory contributor Timmah beating Stelek.  Though I think Stelek is an overall nice guy personally, I don't really like the fact the had to blame his (few) losses over the weekend on luck.  Timmah and Xaereth both beat him, and both times he refused to compliment them on their play quality in his report.  Like it is so inconceivable that they are good players who are capable of winning games.  I know I'm exaggerating his attitude a little bit, but I felt like he shouldn't say that his opponents got lucky as an explanation for his losses.  Give people some credit where it is due.

After watching a few matches, and meeting a bunch of folks, I went and grabbed lunch.  Then I went back to homebase, and relaxed.  I knew that the next two days would be a grind and I wanted to be as rested as possible.  In the evening, I met up with a few other friends I have in the area and we went to dinner at a pretty cool Mexican place.  The tortilla soup was amazing.  Pro Tip: you can judge a Mexican restaurant by their tortilla soup; if it's good the place has it figured out, if it sucked you can bet the whole menu is a mess.  After that, we watched some football and I passed out.

Saturday – NOVA Open Day One

Let the games begin!  I made my way to the tournament center and awaited my first round pairings. 

Round One – Pitched Battle with Objectives as primary

Opponent: Craig Barnes – Space Wolves

Craig Barnes' Loganwing

MM Dread
MM Dread
10 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor with a variety of equipment
5 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor with a variety of equipment
5 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor with a variety of equipment
Long Fangs with 5x Missiles
Long Fangs with 5x Missiles

Two games this weekend, two Loganwing lists.  Gotta love variety!  Craig admitted he was a bit rusty, having been playing Warmahordes for the past six months with little or no 40k practice.  Despite that warning, he was clearly a good technical player.  His list was definitely not a bleeding edge optimized Loganwing like Hulk's, but all those terminators is pretty scary for me with no AP2 weapons. 

I made a huge mistake that probably cost me the game.  He had Logan and Njal with a 10 man WG terminator squad sitting on the midfield, about 8" away from two fully loaded Rhinos.  I figured that 20 Purifiers worth of shooting and  charging into CC would be enough to wipe them, and eliminate a big portion of his army.  That was the plan.  And I stuck to it, even when that plan became bad.  I opened fire, and killed 4 or 5 of the terminators, which was roughly what I expected.  What I didn't expect, was the unit to break and run.  Usually, re-rollable Leadership 10 is reliable.  But they broke and fled.  I was within 6" so they would keep fleeing next turn, and I could safely see them off the board.  Yep, a roughly 1,000 point unit removed with no casualties and zero effort on turn 2.  I can safely say that had I followed that plan, I would have won the game with relative ease.

Only I didn't do it.  Despite the new information (unit breaking) my brain was still locked in on the shoot->charge plan.  I stupidly failed to change plans when I should have and I charged in.  They rallied and Njal prevented both Hammerhands from being cast.  Combine that with some insanely bad rolls on my part and my 20 Purifiers killed only 2 or 3 terminators.  His attacks back killed many more of mine, due to him rolling simply average.  I would like been happy with average, but what can you do. 

In the end, he ended up wiping both those Purifiers and still having Njal and a terminator or two left holding the center and my main two beater units were gone.  I eventually killed Njal and his buds in the center with some serious dakka.  When the game ended on Turn 5 he won 2 – 1 on Objectives.  It was fairly demoralizing to lose to bad play.  Believe me, I'm not taking anything away from Craig, he is a good player and his subsequent results bore that out, but I lost because I charged that squad.  Had I walked them off the board as planned it would have been my full army, with no real casualties, and all he would have had left was two 5-man WG squads, with four turns to play.  Again, taking nothing away from Craig, I hope I'm not going too far in saying I should have won.  As it was, even with the play mistake I outscored him on victory points 1300 to 992.

But I didn't win, and that is that.

Record: 0-1

Round Two: Spearhead with Table Quarters as primary

Opponent: Chris Wright – Tyranids

Chris Wright's Tyranids

Winged Tyrant
Tyranid Prime
3x Zoanthropes
3x Hive Guard
7x Warriors
9x Genestealers
9x Genestealers
14x Termagants
18x Hormagants

Chris was relatively new to the game and you can see his Nids list is far from what you'd consider to be a tournament optimized competitive list.  I felt like my sheet amount of high strength shots would give me a huge list advantage.

In brief, he deployed his Zoanthropes, Hive Guard, Hormagaunts and Termigants in the center with his Warriors and Tyrant farther back, presumably to grab other table quarters.  His Stealers were set to outflank.

The key play of the match was me killing his Zoans on Turn 2, which meant his Gaunts and Hive Guard were out of synapse range.  This was good, since his HG were completely out of line of sight behind the center piece terrain and once of of range they Lurked to where I could see them.  I shot away the Gaunts before they could get to me, and I blew away the Hive Guard. 

Another cute play was when his Stealers came on, they didn't have a charge opportunity, and on my turn Crowe came in and charged behind a unit of Stealers and when his Cleansing Flame was combined with getting an attack on the 5 or so guys in base to base, he wiped a whole squad of Stealers before he got dropped.  It's always nice when you get something from Crowe, as most games he is fairly useless.

It was a pretty one sided game after that, especially since my Psyflemen were inflicting instant death on his Warriors with ease.  When the game ended, all he had left was a wounded Hive Tyrant, and I had everything still alive except Crowe.  I controlled 3 table quarters to 1.  It was nice to rebound from a largely self-inflicted defeat with a nice victory.

Record: 1-1

Round Three: Dawn of War with Kill Points as primary

Opponent: Sam Penson – Space Wolves

Sam Penson's Space Wolves
5 Wolf Guard with 2x Combi-Flamers
5x Wolf Scouts with meltagun
5x Wolf Scouts with meltagun
7x Grey Hunters in Rhino with Flamer
5x Grey Hunters in Razorback with Flamer
5x Grey Hunters in Razorback with Flamer
5x Thunder Wolf Cavalry with Thunderhammer
5x Thunder Wolf Cavalry with Thunderhammer
3x Multi-melta, Heavy Flamer Land Speeders
2x TL Lascannon Predator with Heavy Bolter Sponsons

Sam was a really good player, and I could tell from his list I was in for a fight.  I didn't keep a ton of notes from this battle but some high lights:  His speeders unloaded all their melta at a Psyfleman, and managed to... blow an arm off one of them.  Then they were subsequently dropped.  The game really came down to his Thunderwolves.  Luckily, any match up where the opponent has to come to me (aka when I am the gunline and he is the beatdown*) is usually a positive.  This was the one issue with his list, lack of long range firepower.  If he had brought some Long Fangs he may have been able to force me to play more aggressively and would have been able to pop my transports more easily, which is the easiest way to get vital kill points.

Once his TWC were close enough, I unloaded all my firepower into them and I believe one unit was wiped, and the other was reduced to one left, who fled off the board.  Once I had them gone, I was free to be more aggressive and I pushed up and started collecting kill points.  Eventually Njal's squad was killed, and he went down the next turn.  I then positioned myself to minimize his ability to get any kill points on turn 5, and the game ended.

When the dust cleared and we tallied up, I won 10 kill points to 5.  The game wasn't as one sided as the score or my report might make it sound.  It was very tactical, and very cat and mouse as we each tried to get kill points without giving them up in return.  It really felt a lot like a chess match.  I was happy to come away with a hard fought victory in this one.

Record: 2–1

Round Four:  Spearhead with Objectives as primary

Oppponent: Jared Maggard – Space Marines

Jared Maggard's Crimson Fists

Captain with Artificer Armor and Relic Blade
Librarian with Nullzone and Avenger
Tactical Squad with Lascannon and melta gun, combat squaded into Razorback
Tactical Squad with Plasma Cannon and Plasmagun in Rhino
10x Scouts with Heavy Bolter and Sniper Rifles
Ironclad Dreadnaught in drop pod
10x Sternguard in Drop Pod with 3x Combi-melta, 5x Combi-plasma
Land Speeder Typhoon
Autolas Predator

Saved the best game for the last game.  This one was truly epic, and by far the most fun and exciting game of the tournament for me.  I think Jared would probably agree with that as well.  His list was a Swiss Army knife.  It looks like a hodge-podge of units, but it's basically a tool box with tons of tricks.  In the hands of a good player, it is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

The turn by turn happenings weren’t particular dramatic; I killed some of his stuff, he killed some of mine. 

On particularly strong incident was when he destroyed all three of my Psyflemen on the first turn.  On the other side of the balance, my Psycannon shooting was spot on, and when I really needed to kill something bad, it generally died.  At a key juncture, his Sternguard and Libby podded, combat squaded, with the intention of the melta’s popping a Rhino and then the plasmas double-tapping the insides.  Unfortunately, he failed to pop the Rhino and I ate his Sternguard and Librarian the next turn.  So there were some definite high spots.

At the end of Turn 5, I was ahead on objectives 2-1 and would have won had the game ended then.  Unfortunately we continued.  We had an objective in his deployment corner that was contested with one of my Purifiers vs two Tactical marines.  On turn 6, his dudes managed kill the Purifier and he took the objective.  That would have tied the game at two, and he would have taken the game on table quarters as in one of the quarters he slightly outweighed what I had.  But luckily for me, the game continued.

On turn 7, I tank shocked those two tactical marines off an objective with a Rhino when they failed the leadership and broke.  In the table quarter that he had a slight points advantage in, I managed to shoot away his tactical squad, which gave me the quarter back.  When the game ended we were tied 2-2 on objectives, but I had a 2-1 table quarter advantage by the absolute slimmest of margins to take the second tie breaker. It was truly an amazing game.  I can count in my head at least 10 dice rolls that had they went differently, could have changed the outcome, not the least of which were the rolls to see if the game ended.  My hat’s off to him as an opponent, I don’t think either of us would have changed any of the decisions we made tactically, the game really just came down to the dice.

Such an epic way to end Day One.

Record: 3-1

Very happy with how my record looked after Day One, since I didn't expect to be better than .500, and 3-1 looks a ton better in print than 2-2.  After the game wrapped up, I went back to base camp and chowed down on a Chipotle burrito and went to bed.

To be continued…


  1. Glad you had fun mate and well done.

    Annoying that you had a brain fart and didn't escort the WOlf Guard unit off in Game 1 but thems the breaks - you'll know next time :P.

    Looking forward to part 2.

  2. Grats for your wins mates. Sounds like you had fun times. Still wonder why you didn't take a more optimal list but I can guess the reasons. Wanna see what happened the next day now!

  3. Why I played the list I played...

    1. I like the aesthetic of a pure Purifier list. Adding more efficient Strikes in Razorbacks wouldn't be my thing.

    2. I just recently finished the army and they were my "new thing" and I wanted to play my new thing in a tournament.

    3. I didn't want to put the pressure on myself before and during the tournament of trying to be cut throat competitive. Going to NOVA was a vacation for me, and I treated it that way. I don't want my vacations to at all resemble work, or have similar stress levels to work.

  4. Yeah, reason no.3 is what I thought too. Going to a tournament with the pressure to win with an ultra-competitive list can suck all the fun out of my games. Going with something less optimal that will allow some breathing space for bad performance can make all the difference.

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