Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NOVA cometh: Practice RTT at Gaming, Etc

Football season has started, leaving me very little play time, and virtually no blogging time. For those that don't know, I help coach my son's Pop Warner football team...I rush home from work, drag him to practice, deal with 7-9 year-olds that would rather be playing video games until 8pm, coaches talk, home to feed and shower the kids, and I'm not sitting down for myself until 9:30 or then I don't want to do anything but eat and sleep!

So, I've not done anything new or exciting since Connecticon...until now, that is! My friend Brendan ran a "NOVA Practice Tournament" this past weekend at Gaming, Etc in Stratford, CT. For a relatively small venue, there was a great turnout with some of the region's biggest names attending: Sean Nayden; Alex Fennel; Kurt Clauss; Mike Morales; Jawaballs; Werner Born...Nick Nanavati was going to come, but he heard I was going so wimped out. :) (Actually he had family obligations, but I reserve the right to ruthlessly talk shit!)

So, here we are less than two weeks away from NOVA, and I'm flailing to find a list to play. Are other people as list neurotic as I am, or is it just me that's never quite satisfied with what I have?!

Anyway, for this weekend I just trimmed down points from my 2k list I'd taken to Connecticon to make 1850. Sadly, this required dropping a whole unit of Screamers, but pretty much all else stayed the same:

Herald of Tzeentch (Disc, Exalted, Level 3, Greater Locus of Change)
Herald of Tzeentch (Disc, Exalted, Level 3)
11 Horrors
11 Horrors
10 Horrors (Champion)
9 Screamers
Daemon Prince (Tzeentch, Wings, Armour, Level 3, Two Greater Rewards, Lesser Reward)
Daemon Prince (Tzeentch, Wings, Armour, Level 3, Two Greater Rewards, Lesser Reward)

Yeah, the Horrors units are kind of random, I had some points to spend and didn't really have the energy to put a lot of thought in to it! Has a lot of Divination rolls for Forewarning, full Screamer unit to take advantage of it, two mean Daemon Princes; Fateweaver...300 points I still hate to have to spend!...and 3 troops + Portal. Not terrible, though I'd not mind more rolls on Divination (more on that later!)

My first game was against Andrew, formerly a Grey Knight player that I'd met before, who has switched to Tau recently. He's also a frequent player at the Battle for Salvation gaming club where I've been playing this spring and summer, so we knew each other more than in passing!

His list was pretty mean, the kind of thing I really don't want to have to face:

Buff Commander
2 Riptides (one with Ion, one with Blaster, I believe both had Fusion, Interceptor, and Skyfire)
Broadside unit (with a million missile drones)
A Hammerhead (with the Ion Gun)
A Skyray
And about a hundred Kroot (I believe it was 4x 18...three units with Sniper...and one of 10)

The mission packet we had was Dawn of War and Kill Points. I rolled up all my goodies: no good rewards on the DPs, no Iron Arm, Fate had Invis, but my very last Divination roll with the last Herald got the 4++ power...and that's what makes things tick.

He won the roll and chose to go first. He deployed primarily central and to my right...almost a refused flank; so to minimize shooting I went mostly out of LOS way back in the left corner, thinking the only thing that had shots was the Burster Riptide.

During my deployment there was an announcement...apparently there was some confusion on missions..the KP/Dawn mission that was in the "packet" was not supposed to be used (the rest of the packet was the general rules and stuff for the event). There was another sheet that had the mission....we were supposed to be doing a Hammer/Anvil Big Gunz mission. The announcement told us if we'd already started to just go with the KP mission. We'd already mostly been set up and ready to roll, I told Andrew that I didn't really care which mission we played, whatever he wanted to do...he chose to roll for it, and we ended up continuing with the KP mission.

So off we went!

Oh damn, that's an Ion Thingamajig, not a Bursty Whatchamacallit!

Observant readers will note that it's not the Burster Riptide that can shoot me, but the Ion guy! Woops! It sure would be nice to be able to play this game without being dumb as a rock! That was really the only shot he had (all else out of range), so he took it, did a wound to Fate and a Prince, and killed 3 Screamers. Sigh.

So I made a very conscious decision here...I know that the "smart" play for my first turn is to fly all the Biggies off the table, come in later with vector strikes and Smite and Shriek, etc, and just deny kill points and be a douche...but man that is BORING! Not just for me, but for whomever I'm playing. So, to avoid a boring stale game, and in a way to be a test of "how bad can it get", I stayed on the table...I flew midfield, hiding from most of his shooting behind the ubiquitous center-table-LOS-blocker, while the Screamers headed off to eat Kroot. See, I knew in the back of my mind...I only have 9 kill points; he has about fifty. I just need to kill off some easy stuff and not get tabled and I should be ok.

Well, nothing else to shoot at, so he shot at the stupid Screamers!

On his turn 2 he had very little to shoot at, taking shots at Screamers which, as you might guess, did nothing.

My turn 2, and I tried for a coup de main, sending screamers in to one batch of kroot, a Prince in to another, and trying to shoot down the broadsides with a combination of smite, shriek, and tz powers. The shooting failed utterly, between denies, saves, etc I managed one whole wound. This meant the charging prince had to eat a lot of overwatch, but he came out pretty well with just two wounds done. He and the Screamers did what I wanted...killing a few handfuls but staying locked in combat...he'd used the Stubborn power from his Ethereal, which was fine by me...I'd much rather be in melee than getting shot!

On his turn 3, I'd handed him far too many goodies...he shot up Fateweaver, who died; he shot up the unengaged Prince, and he did pretty well, thanks to those rerollable 1s! My turn 3, some Horrors came in, scattered, mishapped back to reserve. The Screamers and Prince remained engaged, while the one unengaged Prince I had went for broke and assaulted his Broadsides! I endured the overwatch just fine, S8 AP2 went to work killing off 2 Sides and putting two wounds on the Commander...and despite being Stubborn the failed their morale test, and were of course caught by the ridiculous Init of the Prince. Lots of kill points there, but I'd wanted to stay tied in combat for awhile! The Screamers killed of the Kroot they were fighting (by Sweeping), but the other Prince fighting Kroot wiffed badly, killing almost none and they held on with their stubbornness.

Turn 4, and his Riptides and Kroot shot dead the Prince that had killed his Commander; Prince on Kroot action continues. My Turn 4, Screamers kill more Kroot, Horrors drop in out of harms way...2 safe, one scatters, mishaps, and dies to perils. Prince finally finishes off Kroot.

Top of 5, last turn, he kills my last prince with Riptides and (finally) Seeker missiles. He charges Screamers with some Kroot, hoping to keep them tied up til the end of the game, but I'd rolled a 6 for their Str (the one time this was helpful!) and wrecked the squad...with no Ethereal support they were Swept. Bottom of 5, Screamers killed the Skyray. I was up 10-6 on kill points, for a really odd-feeling Win...I felt like I got blown off the table, but, as planned, I don't bleed kill points too badly, and it worked out nicely!

For round 2 I was paired with Clay Saunders (the Overall Winner of Connecticon!) with his Iyanden army:

3x 5 Wraithguard
5 Wraithblades
5 Dire Avengers (Wave Serpent)
2 Wraithknights (one was the Warlord)
1 Wraithlord
5 Warpspiders with Exarch

The mission was Relic (the Novastyle version, I'm not going to explain here) with Vanguard deployment. He won the roll and chose to go first. It was Night fight. He deployed the little Wraiths spread out along his deployment; Medium Wraith in the middle, big Wraiths on both ends. It being night-fight I deployed completely squished in my corner such that he'd have no shots on turn 1 before I got powers up...speaking of which, Fate got Ironarm, DPs got nothing constructive; I got the 4++ again, along with Misfortune.

My turn 1 I put up powers, Grim'd up, and sped off sticking to the extreme end of his line. I blew up all the Warp Spiders except the Exarch. I think I killed a miniWraith too.

His turn 2, I'm out of range of most of his shooting still. Wraithguard take potshots at a DP, get a hit which I fail to save, and he poofs. Not a great start. My turn 2, and...much like the previous game, I decide to be far more aggressive than I probably should be, but was more interested in doing goofy fun shit than playing boring conservative game...

Only the Exarch remains of the Warp Spiders!

I put Terrify on one unit of Wraithguard, and did a multi-assault in to that unit and the Blades that held the relic. My intent was to pile attacks in to the Blades, kill them off, and run down the Guard...sadly I moved very sloppily and only managed about half the screamers on the Blades, not killing off either...but the Guard did run off, which didn't really help me any as I couldn't Sweep them being locked with the other unit. At the same time, I did some fun Vector Strikes with a surviving Prince, and Fateweaver went batshit crazy and assaulted the remaining guys! He killed all but 1, which was hilarious. I also had a unit of Horrors come in on target, finishing off his Warp Spider Exarch; another Horror unit mishapped, and he placed them deep in a corner. My Portal shit out a single Daemonette who ran around trying to not be noticed....

I love the stance of this Wraithknight!

Fateweaver punting Wraighguard!

His turn 3, the fleeing Guard (containing the Spiritseer, by the way) rallied; the stuff that had been on the other side of the table finally weighed in...his Warlord (I forgot the name of the gun...the triple-plasma cannon shooter) killed all but 3 of the Horrors that had killed his Exarch. The closer Knight moved to assault Fateweaver...uh-oh! He went in, and Fatey took a worries, big chicken! He finished off the last Wraithguard with his awesomeness! The Screamers, fight...I kind of flubbed this up. I should have Challenged with the non-Grim Herald, forcing him to take Screamer wounds on the Wraiths, but matter, as I fluffed the rolls and did nothing.

My turn 3, and I got creative here! I used Forewarning and Grimoire on my Daemon Prince, and Terrified the Wraithknight...the plan being for the DP to do enough wounds (and Fatey to take few enough!) to win combat and chase that WK away! This exposed the Screamers, but I figured if could kill off most of the Wraithblades, and the Herald stayed locked in challenge, I'd be ok for a turn!

Instead I forgot to challenge again, the Farseer tanked all the wounds...the DP did 3 wounds to the Knight, who did one more to Fateweaver, he passed his Morale test and we stayed locked up.

Turn 4, and Clay did a great job of piling every available thingie on to my now vulnerable Screamers...the Warlord Knight, the Wraithlord, and the recently-rallied Wraithguard. His last Guard unit moved to get the Horrors I'd dropped on to the objective in his deployment (along with the DA and Serpent...actually they did enough damage to wipe out the poor Horrors, the Guard had nothing to do!).

Everyone jump the Screamers!
In melee here, the Prince killed the Wraithknight outright before he could swing; the combined Eldar power managed to kill a fair number of Screamers, but the Screamers got their licks in too, killing off a few more mini-Wraiths and only losing combat by a small amount, and only losing only a couple wounds to Daemonic Instability. Phew!

Bottom of 4...I see that he has no troops that can realistically get the relic if I can kill off the Wraithblades; I have one troop unit left (he'd killed off the Portal, the Daemonette it had spawned, and all but 3 Horrors who were hiding out of LOS near one Objective) on an objective; if I kill off his Dire Avengers and contest the other objective with an FMC, I can get a soft win here.

So, the Prince buffs up with Warp Speed, Grim goes back on Screamers (I need them to survive to keep all his heavy-hitters tied up); Fateweaver flies across the table and guns down the Dire Avengers with Mind Bullets...the Prince kills the last of the Wraithguard (and the Farseer, too!), and even better he was unable to pile-in to combat so got to consolidate!

His turn 5, he takes potshots with the Serpent at Fateweaver, and bounces melee attacks off the few surviving Screamers; Bottom of 5, I point out that all I have to do is fly over to contest his one objective and I'm up 3-0 (2 points for controlling more objectives; 1 point for Linebreaker)! We call it at that point...I sure do like having the last turn!

So on to third round...Cameron and his Eldar/Tau!

4x 5 Dire Avengers in Serpents
2x 3 Jetbikes
2x 5 Warp Spiders
Buff Commander
Kroot (I don't remember how many...)
3 Broadsides
Riptide (Ion, Velocity Tracker, Early Warning Override)

A really solid list with good unit-deletion firepower, speed to get to objectives, plenty of troops...Interesting!

The mission this time was Scouring and Dawn of War. He got the reroll reserve Warlord trait. I got Forewarning again, one DP had nothing exciting; but I got one super-cool DP with Iron Arm, 4+ FNP, and +1W / It Will Not Die. Fateweaver had Invisibility. Cameron got Ignores Cover, Misfortune, and Prescience. Yikes!

He won the roll and had me go first.

There was a solid center LOS blocker, I intended to jump the FMC behind it, then either fly off or do something aggressive turn 2, while Screamers jumped in to his face and pushed him to react. He deployed Broadsides & Commander in the ruins to my left; Serpents were central; Riptide & Farseer on my right. Spiders Deep Striking; Kroot flanking; Jetbikes walking on. No surprises.

I went ahead with my plan, Invisible Fateweaver and the two Princes hid behind the "thing" in the middle, the Screamers went straight towards the Broadsides...definitely the most dangerous unit, removing them would be crucial. With no shooting to speak of, my turn was over in a jiffy.

His Serpents scattered, heading to the corners, and nothing constructive for them to shoot at. Broadsides fired SMS at Fateweaver (laughing at his Invisibility!) and did two wounds to my Big Chicken. Sigh.

I Invis'd one DP, Iron Arm'd up the other, Fateweaver flew to run off the table (allowed by NOVA ruling); the DPs went to my right, hoping to Psychic Shriek the Riptide/Farseer. Despite Scrier's Gaze, a unit of Horrors came in, I dropped them central so they'd not be easy target for the Riptide and 3 Serpents that were leaning to my right.

Shriek failed; he denied one, the other rolled low. Fateweaver needed about 3" of run to get off the table, he swiftly rolled a 9 and was gone like a fart in the wind. Screamers killed 2 Broadsides, winning combat handily...and we had my only rules issue of the day. He failed his Morale Test, then decided to use Hit and Run. I contested this, as once you'd failed Morale you're not in combat anymore. We went to the TO, who confirmed that once you've failed Morale you are no longer eligible to Hit and Run. This was much ado about nothing, as I failed to catch him in Sweeping Advance anyway!

Bottom of 2, despite his rerolls he got a Jetbike and Spider in (he was, of course, hoping to keep them out til later!). The Spiders dropped near my Horrors at mid-table, Bikes boosted deep to my left, along with one of his Serpents. Another Serpent came deep to my right, where they met the Kroot that had Flanked in there. Broadsides rallied, took some SMS shots at Horrors and stayed stuck in the ruins. The Spiders did minimal damage to the Horrors and Ran towards the objective.

Screamers trying to get to Broadsides in ruins at back left; Spiders mid-deepstrike at midfield; Princes failed at Shrieking at the Riptide; Portal is the blast near that cottage at the right.

Fateweaver flew back on. I deliberated for awhile here...there was no where to go where he'd be immune to being Intercepted by the Riptide...I could go on the Right and pick on Kroot, or go Left and pick on the Bikes. I decided to go Left for Bikes, as the Kroot are relatively slow, while the Bikes could be a huge Pain later. I failed my Iron Arm on "The" DP with boxcars; I used the FW reroll on one of the 6s and got a 5. Sigh. Screamers got ready to finish off the Broadisde/Commander. Time for DPs to do some work: the 4+FNP guy Glided to assault a Serpent; the other Swooped to beat up Kroot.

Fatey killed all three Jetbikes with his Vectors; then the Interceptor triggered: 3 shots with the Ion Thingamajig: 2 hits, 2 wounds, 2 failed saves...failed grounded test (reroll already used)...failed save, dead Fateweaver. Sigh.

The Screamers finished off the Commander's unit; "The" Daemon Prince beat up a Serpent in melee, it exploded killing an occupant; the other Prince did some Psychic Shooting at the Kroot, leaving just one standing (he broke and fled, never rallied)...then the really cool part: my Horrors shot up the Spiders, killing 3...then assaulted, killing another, the one survivor tried to run but was Swept! Ha!!

Victorious Horrors at mid-table, Screamers ready to reposition

He really wants to kill "The" Prince this turn, so focuses the Riptide and two Serpents on him (as well as the Pinned Dire Avengers right next to him). The first Serpent shoots, and all bounce off his armour! The second Serpent shoots, and does 2 wounds! The Riptide fires his Ion and Fusion, the former doing two wounds...1 left! The Riptide assaults the Prince, and does an unsaved wound with his Hammer of Wrath hit! Ouch! So much for unkillable!

So top of 4, and the end-game is looking kind of sour. I start rolling powers, and start doing my 2 horror units coming in...with an eye to not getting Intercepted, and realize something...the Riptide could not have fired his Ion at "The" Prince, as he'd fired it Intercepting the turn prior!

We discussed, Cameron was a standup guy, and we put the DP back with the 2 wounds he should have not taken from the Ion, and we resolved the combat...the Riptide fluffed, and the Seer did a wound, but the Prince lived! Hope is restored! (I think that's a movie quote...)

So I buff up everyone, Grim works (who needs that Fateweaver character anyway!? Big Dumb Chicken!) and I get my Horrors on objectives and I'm ready!

The other Prince slides up behind a Serpent, calmly shoots the stupid S8 AP1 Lance shot he'd rolled in to the rear of the Falcon, and Explodes it...then assaults the squishies that fell out and kill them all! The Screamers multi-assault the Riptide/Farseer and the Dire Avengers next to them...the Prince challenges, the Farseer accepts, the Screamers eat all the Dire Avengers, the Prince eats the Farseer, and the Riptide runs like a girl and is auto-swept by the Prince!

Bottom of 4, he gets his last Spiders in way to the left, near the leftmost objective; the Bikes come on and lurk in the back right corner (near an objective, but near enough to turbo to any other). Spiders shoot at Horrors; Serpents shoot at Princes, but I weather the depleted shooting quite well.

Top of 5, based on time this will be the last turn (2.5 hour rounds, for those wondering). "The" Daemon Prince (back up to 2 wounds after passing his It Will Not Die last turn), moves near the Jetbikes, to contest that objective; the Screamers move to surround an objective and prevent it from being contested (Grim failed this turn, but still need to do a lot of wounds to get in there!). The other Prince assaults and Wrecks the serpent on my right. I was hoping for an Explode, as they'd likely then not be able to get near the objective, even with fleet. Then the Portal herald (which I've failed to was deployed first turn, and killed on the 3rd after generating a small unit of Daemonettes that were blown up by Kroot), who had been left behind by the Screamers when they went to assault the Riptide, zipped over to join the Horrors on my left objective (hoping to tank some shots to prevent them from being wiped out, and add some firepower).

I now had troops on 4 objectives, while he had Bikes, 2 Serpents with Dire Avengers, and 5 Spiders.

I had two units of Horrors and a Prescience'd Herald fire at the Spiders...the dice gods did not smile upon my shooting attacks, as with something like 7d6 shots I only managed to kill 2. know that stupid Warpflame rule that we all love to hate? Sometimes...not very often (and in fact, this was a first for me!) it helps! The Spiders failed their Toughness test, and they took 3 more wounds, wiping the unit! This left him with 3 thingies able to hold/contest objectives, and a need to get 4. Things were looking up!

"The" Daemon Prince, on the other hand, failed to do anything at all to the bikes...killing them would have sealed the game.

Bottom of 5, and I told Cameron to take all the time he wanted. He planned and thought, and devised and schemed (as only an Eldar can!), and set his plan in motion...

The Avengers that had a wrecked ride set out towards the objective in my bottom right. Those from the Serpent in the bottom Left disembarked after a 6" move, and tried to get to the objective at my left.

The rightmost guys ran to get close enough to contest;

The leftmost guys and their serpent fired and fired...and killed off all the Horrors (though just barely, thanks to some really impressive saves making things very tense for us, and earning many Ooohs and Aaahs from the spectators we'd attracted), but not only did they not kill off the Herald who was still there, they rolled a 1 for their run; used Fleet to reroll and got another 1. That pretty much sealed the game. Cameron moved his Jetbikes to contest the middle objective, and extended his hand with a big smile and a "Good game!"...and it really was! Lots of back and forth, moving, plotting, highs and lows, and a photo finish!

Game wrapping up, as he measures to see how far he needs to run to get that left objective

The overall points were tallied (I frankly have no idea how the overall scoring for the event went!), and the results were announced:

Best Painted went to my friend James Mahood (who had Marines/ story from his first game vs. Alex Fennel: James seized the initiative, dropped in his Rune Priest, and used Jaws...killing a Wraithknight, a Riptide, and a War Walker! Ha!!)

4th Place went to my good friend Sean McCloud with his unconventional Daemon list (he runs Fateweaver, Lord of Change, and three Tzeentch Daemon Princes, and almost always takes Tzeentch shooting and tears folks up!)

3rd Place went to Werner Born with his Necron/Tau force.

2nd Place went to Me!! Yeah!!

and 1st place went to Kurt Clauss...who held my hand when we walked to lunch! He was running Eldar with Tau, though I'm sorry to say I don't know the details of his list...other than it was baby blue, and included Stuff and Things (wave serpents, wraithknight...stuff; commander, broadsides...things).

Some interesting tidbits: there were 24 total players (including the ringer).

Literally half the field was Eldar, Tau, or a combination of the two.

Only two Daemon players (who placed 2nd and 4th).

No Orks. No CSM (not even allies from what I saw). No Guard. No Dark Angels. One whole Tyranid player.

Welcome to the new meta, bring your Taudar-repellent!

A super big thanks to Brendan (Breng77) for putting on another quality event!

So what will I take to NOVA? I'm guessing pretty much the same thing. I may drop a few things to squeeze in another Herald on a Disc, double-down on getting the very strong vibe is that the list simply doesn't work without Forewarning, so maximizing the chances to get that power are essential, even if that means skimping on other things. I may drop a Prince; I may drop a troop; I may drop to fewer Screamers; or I may punt completely and bring no Princes but three Grinders instead!

Only problem...a third Herald means I have to assemble and paint him, and running out of time to do it!


See you at NOVA!

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