Monday, August 6, 2012

Battle Report: Feast of Blades Qualifier Tournament

I went to a Feast of Blades qualifier at The Battle Standard in Manchester, CT this past weekend (August 4th). This was my first time attending a tournament at this store, though it's only an hour away. I'd always heard good things, and they're all true! Tommy, the store owner, has a great place, with wonderful terrain, tables (with cup holders!) and a group of great people that I had a super good time with!

Tommy runs a great place!

So the weekend before the tournament, I was all prepared to take Dark Eldar, paying the Farseer tax, and hoping to make the same things that worked for me in 5th work in 6th. I'd tested the list quite a bit, and felt pretty prepared for anything I'd run in to.

So with that done and out of the way, I started playing around with my Daemons. They've languished in boxes in the basement or the upstairs "junk room" for years, but the new Screamer and Flamer rules got me interested. I began fiddling with Fateweaver, a Lord of Change, and three Tzeentch flying Daemon Princes, along with all-Tzeentch support. And you know what? It absolutely kicked ass.

I sure don't think it's the greatest thing ever, but I do think lists like this will be Flavor Of The Month for awhile, as folks learn how to deal with the speed, resilience, and "pain in the ass" factor of all those fliers, as well as the great melee damage output of the Screamers, and the increased resilience (and lower cost!) of both Screamers and Flamers.

I decided I needed more Screamers, so called all the stores I could find in an hour driving range, and managed to pick up two more boxes, combined with the stuff I already had, got me this:

Lord of Change - Master of Sorcery

3 Flamers
3 Flamers

5 Horrors
5 Horrors
5 Horrors
5 Horrors

6 Screamers
6 Screamers

Daemon Prince - Mark of Tzeentch, Wings, Bolt, Gaze
Daemon Prince - Mark of Tzeentch, Wings, Bolt, Gaze
Daemon Prince - Mark of Tzeentch, Wings, Gaze

I liked the all-Tzeentch thing here (Tzeentch has long been my favorite of the Powers!), and felt like I had an answer for almost anything I might have to deal with. Other fliers are a problem (stupid Vendettas!), and I may have trouble getting objectives if someone can focus on the Horrors enough....but the Flamers are so good for their cost, the Screamers beat up damned near anything in melee, the Flying Circus is nearly invulnerable to non-Skyfire barrages (being so hard to hit combined with Fateweaver's reroll...even if Grounded they're extremely resilient and just keep on flying next turn).

So, I spent a few days during the week getting the new additions painted up and a quick and dirty base job done, and the whole army fit snugly in a foam-lined shoe-box, and off I went with my friend Sean Nayden to Hartford!

Despite my typical early-morning lateness, we still managed to get to the store well ahead of its opening. I was EXTREMELY tired, having had very little sleep the night before (it was too hot to be comfortable, and I was having huge doubts on taking this army!), so chugged a giant iced coffee while chatting with Sean, then went in when folks started to show up.

Everyone groaned when they saw Sean there, "Man, I don't want to have to play Sean!"
I think there were about 15 people, give or take. This was a smallish tournament, but this wasn't a lightweight event. With Sean, Alex Fennel, and many other folks that do the tournaments around this area, I really kind of felt out of my element and intimidated...I'd only played 10 games or so the whole year!

Initial pairings were randomly drawn, and of course as usual Sean and I were paired against each other. Tommy laughed, as I'd just been telling the stories of how Sean and I are routinely paired against each other at tournaments...but he had pity on me and put our names back in the hat for a second drawing, where I drew the scariest name there, Alex Fennel! Yikes!

Alex is an incredible player that does well at tournaments all over the world (well, at least US and Europe...). He was very forthright telling me that he was using his 5th edition Blood Angel army just to get some idea of how it would work in 6th edition. His list included Mephiston, three Land Raiders (2 Redemeers and a Vanilla), 2 Assault Terminator squads with a couple of Priests, a medium-sized Death company, some Assault guys in a Razorback and some Sniper Scouts.

This was a pretty straightforward mission, with the angley deployment (the new Spearhead...I can't remember the name...why am I getting so old?!) and Kill Points. I believe Alex won the roll and had me go, he deployed, and on I came!

Alex Fennel's Raider Wall, Mephiston hiding behind the middle Raider

My initial wave was all five flying meanies, and the two Screamer units. My drops went pretty well, with no runs required to get in FW bubble, the Screamers landed safe and Turbo'd to be in position for charges on the Raiders turn 2 while being in FW range. I took 4 Bolt shots at Raiders, and managed to Glance 1!

Alex then cagily pulled back away from my screamers, so that their charges would be low-probability, and shot at a few things, finding doing damage difficult to the big beasties.

My second turn got me both flamers and 2 horror units. The Flamers scattered farther than I'd had liked, but one unit took a hull point off a different Land Raider, while the other was too far to do anything. I decided that swooping around shooting the Land Raiders wasn't going to work out to well, so sacrificed the no-bolt DP to go melee the Raider that had been damaged already. He did two pens with his Smash attacks, one of them rolling a 5 giving the explode I needed.

Then I realized that I'd forgotten to deploy the 2 Horror units I'd rolled for. Alex had pity on me and put them back in reserve...useless little cretins in this battle anyway.

The Terminators from the exploded Raider moved to engage the Flamers near them, while the other Terminators disembarked to beat up the Flamers behind his lines. The Death Company jumped out to beat up a unit of Screamers. I wasn't too worried about any of these fights, as I was happy to get things out of the Raiders, and felt the Screamers would rip apart enough DC that they'd be easily dealt with.

Unfortunately for Alex, he failed two charge rolls, needing 3" with the Death Company and getting the Snake-eyes. Mephiston beat up the DP I sacrificed to open up the Land Raider, while the Flamers died loudly to Assault Terminators.

These Death Company failed this charge...Alex is now an honorary Ordo Ineptus member.
 I lined up a great Flamer shot on the Assault Terminators that failed their charge, and set up screamers to assault whichever lived. My other screamers flew over the Death Company to assault one of the Land Raiders, while another DP glided down to assault the last. The Lord of Change and last DP glided over to take out the Death Company, while Fateweaver swooped in to the middle to try to help as many as he could.

Then the bad luck that Alex had suffered with his charge rolls reversed itself...the Flamers got 19 hits on the Assault Terminators, and did 11 wounds...and only 1 died. Alex just didn't seem to be able to fail an FNP roll! The Circus was able to shoot up the Death Company, no assault required there. The Screamers assaulted, the ones going in to the Assault Terminators barely making it in, and those trying to beat up a Land Raider failed their 7" charge. The combat went just as poorly as the shooting, as the Screamers dished out a tremendous number of wounds, but Alex was infallible with his saves. Stupid Terminators! The Daemon Prince wasn't able to finish off the Raider either, only doing one hull point.

I tried to do the right things, they just didn't work out!
Alex got his reserves on, with the Razorback and Scouts both hiding back in the corner away from my meanies. He shuffled Land Raiders backwards again, embarking his unengaged Assault Marines back in to one of them. Shooting went here and there, doing wounds to flamers and big monsters. Mephiston jumped up and attacked the unengaged Screamers, starting a long engagement that we eventually committed our entire armies to. The Terminators fighting Screamers continued to be too resilient, and the Screamers were slowly being whittled down while killing far too few terminators.

Going in to the homestretch on turn 4, I got horrors that I put near his 'hiding' scouts, the rest of my horrors were hiding in my corner, hoping to not be noticed. Lots of Gliding, as Daemon Princes went after Land Raiders, while one went to kill the Priest giving FNP to the Terminators beating up my Screamers. Flamers and Horrors moved to beat up his 'backfield' stuff. Not a lot of shooting from me, things out of range or in combat. The DP that attacked the Priest whiffed horribly, doing no wounds, and the screamers were reduced to a single model. Mephiston beat up more screamers, who whiffed horribly again. A Daemon Prince did manage to kill a Land Raider, though!

Alex then committed his last Terminator + Priest unit, creating a multi-assault combat with his terminators and Mephiston against my Screamers and Lord of Change. He bravely sent the priest the other way, though, to deal with the Horror unit in his backfield. Sadly for that Priest, the Overwatch fire managed two wounds, one of which went unsaved and he died! With Fateweaver nearby the Mephiston/Terminator fight didn't go too badly for me, though the Screamers were being worn down and Meph had only taken one wound he'd done to himself from Perils! In the long fight, the Daemon Prince finally exerted himself, killing the priest and two terminators, my last screamer died but, only a single terminator remained.

Alex commits his final hammer-unit
After this things started to move pretty quickly, and I took no more photos. The last Land Raider was killed by a Daemon Prince. Horrors gunned down all but one Scout, and that guy engaged them in combat that lasted several rounds, eventually killing all but 2 horrors before dieing. The Lord of Change and Screamers killed all the Assault Terminators, and Mephiston ran away. I shot at Meph, but couldn't do any damage, and Meph jumped back in and finished the Screamers before dieing in melee with the Lord of Change. The Flamers that lived managed to destroy the Razorback and the Assault Squad...and that was game!

Those last few turns were kind of a blur of excitement for me. I'd resigned myself to just trying my best against Alex, and felt I'd have a really hard time taking out the Land Raiders...meleeing them is easy enough, but that means getting eaten by the bad guys inside. As it was, the bad guys inside weren't quite as killy as I'd feared, though they were hard as hell to get rid of! I was really bubbling with excitement to have pulled off a win against someone like Alex, and felt really happy going in to turn 2...

...where I had to fight Grey Knights, with all the things I fear!

Thanks for the great game, Alex!

Turn 2 report will go up tomorrow!

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