Monday, October 17, 2011

Battle for Salvation Wrap-up: Thoughts on the event, my army, and anything else...

It's been over a week since the tournament, but I'm still going over things in my mind. What I could have done different, who I wanted to play, where I ate dinner, the part at the hotel, etc...

First some words about the event itself. This is my second Battle for Salvation. The first was in the old church in White Plains...the Salvation Army from which they get their name, I believe. Both times the tables have been well done and themed. This time the terrain was out of this world. I thought it had a great combination of real LOS blocking terrain creating firing lines and opportunities to hide (which I felt I was able to take good advangate of); area terrain, both large and small; elevated terrain pieces to help get LOS over the lower terrain had it all, and I was very happy with it. That level of terrain worked out very nicely for my guys, giving me plenty of places for everything to obtain cover when I wanted to get it.

The only very minor complaint about the tables was that each row was shoved up against a wall, leaving a large open area in the middle...however there were several tables unused. I'm old and fat, so I would very much have preffered if a 2-3 foot gap had been left at the wall-end of the tables, so when I needed to go to the other side I could just step around instead of going all the way around the row of tables. Absolutely not a big deal, but with an army like mine that relies on getting 40 flying guys in the enemies deployment on turn 2, I need to move back and forth a lot...and there's no way my fat ass is crawling under! I broke a sweat a few games running around to the other side!

Another very very minor issue is the start-time for the first day. We're gamers. Geeks all. I've never met a gamer-geek yet that likes to get up early. 6am is right out the window for me. Let me get up at 8 and game at 9, and I'm happy. This is not specific to this tournament...every GT I've been to is like that. I'll get my food to go and eat during the third game, just don't make me get up that damned early!

Bob and Ed and their support staff were very helpful, friendly, and transparent with what was going on. Check-in was quick and painless, pairings were up quickly and efficiently without the sometimes painful reading of things, they just let folks read it and that was great.

However, I will say I was not thrilled that I had to play Sean in round 4. I know there's a million things going on at the pointy-end of making the pairings, but it would have been super nice if some mechanism could have been in place to try to not pair up club-members. Really not a big deal at all, I enjoy playing Sean a ton, but I go to these 'Away Games' to play new folks, not the same old guys!

As everyone else has pointed out, the venue was incredible. The GT was in a conference room in the Palisades Mall near NYC. A very big mall, with Ferris Wheel, Imax, Ice Rink, about 200 restaurants to choose from, and a bathroom very close to where we played....though it was the worst toilet paper in the universe!

The prize support was great. I was lowly 3rd Place overall; winner of the Bronze (second loser!) bracket; and Best Sportsmanship and walked away with well over $100 in prizes plus a very nice plaque and bronze medal. Fun stuff! The higher prizes were all 'big boxes'...I saw an Eldar Battleforce; a Land Raider; and another big box. The appearance winners won sets of GW Wash (the best stuff ever!). Trophies and plaques were there for the big winners as well.

I won a Grey Knight box. Evil and I keep loading up Army Builder..."if I buy a couple boxes of terminators and some AC Dreadnoughts"...No! I must resist the urge! I'm in a bit of a quandry here...I don't have any interest in building a Grey Knight army, but I don't know if it's poor manners to take the prize and trade it or sell it. Am I allowed to pawn this stuff without hurting anyone's feelings?

I was surprised at the composition of the armies I had to face. I came fully expecting to have to fight tons of Space Wolves with 20 razorbacks + 200 Long Fangs; I expected tons of psyback + psyrifle + pyscannon spam Grey Knights; I expected IG forces with Vendettas and Chimeras everywhere I looked. Instead I saw very little of that (though those are the armies that won...go figure...); Lots of Logan Space Wolves on foot; DoA Blood Angels; Drop Pods; Chaos Marines; Tau (yes, Tau!). In other words, things I didn't meta for and wasn't mentally prepared to fight. Like I said in a battle report, I've never faced a Logan all-foot Space Wolf list. I think my army accidentally (more or less) deals with that pretty well, as the splinter-firepower wittles down the power armour while the Lances wittle down the terminators.

While I was really pleased with how well my list performed, despite my often horrible play, I keep thinking how incredible it would have been to have a Razorwing in the list. All those foot-based armies would have crumpled. I look back at the photos of folks deployments and think, "Wow, I could have wracked up about 30 wounds with missiles on this!".

If I drop a Ravager and 3 Hellions (or 1 Hellion, 1 Incubus, and the Haemi's useless Venom Blade) I can get a Razorwing with Flickerfields and cannon upgrade. I lose the bodies listed above and one Dark Lance, but gain another Splinter Cannon and those 4 big missiles. Moreover, it's often overlooked but he's another 36" moving flyer. If I go first and get his missile shots off early, he'll likely not be as big a target as the Ravagers, so may live to pull some late game points shenanigans zipping 36" to contest objectives or take a quarter. If I have to go second, and cover is not available (very unlikely since he sits up so high) I can reserve him. Similarly I may reserve him (he deepstrikes too, did you know?) and wait for the Heat Lances to open up a few vehicles.

With that guy out there, my first-turn alpha-strike vs. foot-troops is incredible. 4 Venoms can make one long-fang squad nearly worthless; 3 units Blade-Vanes can take out a second; and the Razorwing's missiles plus regular shots should take out a third. The Hellions are there to take out whatever lives through that.

I keep asking myself if the loss of the Hellions is worth it, and I think it is. I think few people will expect to see it, and it has enough little tricks despite it's firepower to keep folks on their toes. If the enemy is full of shooty vehicles it can go reserve and hopefully shred a unit when it arrives. It's definitely something I'm going to paint up and have in my arsenal to practice at future small events to see if I want to use it at larger ones.

The one thing I'd really like to change though is getting a little more oomph in the Reavers. They were in melee a LOT, and while they did pretty well, I'd like them to be better. I'd love to have a Champion with Agonizer in there, but he's a ton of points (30 points each squad...180 points!). I'd also like to have a Champion for those Morale tests. I lost several to tank shocks and poor melee morale tests...Ld9 would have been a life-saver. The Venom Blade (2+ Poison) looks like a nice addition to the Champion, giving about 2 wounds on average when charging. Not great, but since I want him in there for the Ld more than anything, I might as well give him the poison.

The Venom Blade on the Haemonculus was never ever used. I didn't even come close to using it. This guy hooked up with the Wracks and went to ground someplace; or went off with the Incubi to soak up wounds on them. He's a 50 point Pain Token, no sense in trying to polish the turd.

The Skyclaw was never used. Every game I wished I had an Agonizer in there instead. Lots of points, but I may need it.

The Shock Prow was something I used only once, and then just for shits & grins, and it got the Raider killed by Death or Glory. It's something that is nice to have, but that Raider is such a huge target most games I can't see it living long enough to Shock or Ram anything.

So, if I could tweak my list and do it again, I think something like this:

7 Incubi; Raider (Enhanced Sails; Shock-Prow; Flicker)
3 Wracks; Venom (Cannon)
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon)
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon)
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon)
15 Hellions; Helliarch (Agonizer)
5 Reavers (Heat Lance); Champion (Venom Blade; Heat Lance)
5 Reavers (Heat Lance); Champion (Venom Blade; Heat Lance)
5 Reavers (Heat Lance); Champion (Venom Blade; Heat Lance)
and the ubiquitous 3 Ravagers with Flickerfields.

I bascally lose 3 Hellions to get the Agonizer back on the Helliarch and Venom Bladed Champions on the Reavers. I put the HL on the Champion too, as I think it's both fluffy and give opportunity to have the two HL models survive a round of shooting and keep the Ld9 for Morale.

Will losing 3 Hellions hurt? Yeah, it will. In two of my games I ended up with just the Helliarch and Baron alive. If there had been 3 fewer models, I would have lost. Losing those 6 Splinter shots is two less wounds the unit does when shooting. Is it a hugely significant loss? No. Do the gains make up for it? I sure hope so!

These are really just minor tweaks, though, nothing huge. I really want the Stun Claw to work, so may keep it (which lets me lose only 2 Hellions). I was very pleased with the overall performance. In no matchup was I blown out of the water. Only against Sean's Athlete's Foot was I really soundly beaten, and that was more about me being stupid and asleep than the army itself. In fact I think I'm a really bad matchup for him and should have wrecked him, but oh well! I'm usually a horribly impulsive shopper, but with the Reavers and Hellions I had to buy to field this I hesitated doing it for weeks. I'm not pretty gratifyed that I did spend the money, as it's been a blast to paint and get on the table! I'm looking forward to using it for awhile, as it does play very differently than anything else I've seen, and really pushes opponents to make decisions quickly!


  1. Heh, careful with the loss of the Hellions - they get whittled down all game, and you don't want them to run out of gas. Sounds like you understand the dangers.

    Why not the extra reaver for the 2nd Heat Lance? I had missed that previously :-p

    As to the Arena Champion w/ Venom Blade... that's what I'll be doing in all my games henceforth as well. The better leadership + ability to kill high-toughness is amazing. :)

    The Razorwing... sounds fun I guess. I just think, when I see your list, that you have a *ton* of anti-troop already. The extra anti-tank when facing 14+ AV12 vehicles vs. guard will be a godsend.

    Just stuff to think about. Everyone has a different playstyle - my own wouldn't allow me to use a Razorwing to fullest advantage. Maybe yours would pwn newbs though :-p

  2. The 6th Reaver has a Heat Lance and is upgraded to the Champion. I wanted to keep the HL on the Champs so I can allocate first 4 wounds on the chumps and still have his Ld and both HL after he passes his Morale test...

    ...because if I'm spending 45 points on these tools they WILL pass their morale tests!

    I'm really excited about having the Venom Blades in there actually. An agonizer might be better, but for the cost that Venom Blade is pretty spiffy.

    You're right about the Razorwing. I'm still knee-jerking about all the infantry lists I fought. I mean, against most of them I won anyway, so I know I don't need a lot of extra anti-infantry.

    So really I think the change will boil down to getting the Arena Champions with Venom Blades, dropping the Haemi's venom blade and maybe the shock prow and as few Hellions as I can get away with.

  3. I've been using a razorwing in my venomspam list (with two Wych squads) lately and it's been amazing.

    It's almost guaranteed to kill a LF squad and ive managed to kill whole GH squads sometimes!

    The problem comes in when you need it to live....
    What I will usually do is if they dOnt have static long range is throw it into reserve to come in and nuke anyone out side of their transports.

    And if they have static long range, just hide it as best as possible and hope it absorbs a ton of shots (which aren't shooting your other stuff) before it goes down, as it makes a great red herring.