Well I've been a bit quiet lately hav'nt I? Various things have contributed to that, and I've a back log of things I'd like to post, but since I'm just back from the January 2012 40k Throne of Skulls in Nottingham this seems a good place to start!
This is the first time I've headed up since the change of format, and oh I remember how I moaned. Well, for the record I'm happy to say I've changed my mind and was wrong! I can't really comment on the events in the years I've missed, but the current formula has left me with no question as to if I'll be returning - I will be. The event is no longer a swiss style tournament, instead while there is an aware for overal winner, this is now given to the player who achieves the biggest difference between their own score, and that of the average of all those playing the same army. In addition, the individual who achieves the highest score above the average gets an aware as Best army Player - a nice touch I think.
My list for the weekend was as follows, HERE.
Game 1 - My first game was against the Raven Guard Space Marines of James Klapkowski in a Pitched Battle/Capture & Control mission. James' army was nicely themed, led my Shrike with a maxed out Assault Squad, three Tactical Squads in Drop Pods, a Dreadnought in Drop Pod and two squadrons of Land Speeders. I won't go into length with battle reports - I'm very poor at writing them up. However to sumarise, I seized the first turn and focused my attention on his only deployed units, his Speeders and Assault Marines with Shrike with fairly inevitable results. The rest of his army arrived quite piece meal and I took fairly minimal losses putting me in a strong position, especially once my Valkyrie arrived with the Special Weapon Squad taking his objective. However, at that point, turn 5 his final Tactical Squad arrived, and in a cinematic and perfectly timed sequence of events his last Tactical Squad arrived, contesting his objective, they then blew the Valkyrie out of the sky with the units Meltagun, killing half the squad inside which then broke and ran. The Game ended then an there with a draw. A game in which the luck went all my way, until the very end when quite jusitifiably the cavalry arrived to save the day, a fantastic game in which James played with fantastic spirit holding on, and was rewarded!
Game 2 - My second game was played against Chris Baker and his fantasticly painted and modelled Ork Army. I'm very pleased to say that Chris picked up a Best Army nomination, and in my personal opinion was technically the best of those nominated, the painting was perfect and there were lots of characterful conversions. It did lack a 'pop' unit to draw attention though which is a shame. The mission this time was Dawn of War and Seize Ground with four counters, Chris had a unit of ten Nob Bikers with Warboss, two bigs units of Boyz and some Big Guns facing me. I've never previously played Nob Bikers, but things went my way early as a few casualties on them forced a morale check which with the aid of my Pyskers the Orks failed - but did'nt quite run off the table. From there on in I was'nt able to repeat the early success, and resultantly saw my infantry gradually annilated, though my tanks held on. The game went on to turn 7, with it switching back an forth between a Draw and a Loss for me several times, but ultimately I just could't hold on giving Chris a well deserved win!
Game 3 - The final game of day one was against the codex marine army of Chris Steel in a Kill Points Pitched battle scenario. Chris' army included a couple of Tactical Squads, one with a Captain, a Assault Squad with Chaplain, Devtastor Squad with Razorback, Vindicator and a Predator. The luck really did flow one way in this one, with first turn I was able to systematically pound the Marines apart, taking very little in the way of return fire. Chris' bad luck was only compounded when his Assault Marines and Chaplain which he elected to deep strike scattered off and were lost. I think it ended 8 Kill Points to 2 giving me a solid victory.
Game 4 - The first game of day two put me up against the leaf blower Guard list of Wayne Palmer, his Infantry was excellently painted, but as we later found out his tanks held him back from a Best Army nomination of his own - hopefully next time! Wayne's list included a Company Command in a Chimera, a Platoon blob with Commissar, three Veteran units in Chimeras a couple of Hydras and a couple of Manticore. The game was a Seize and Control with 5 Objectives with a Spearhead deployment. I must admit I had a sinking feeling when I lost the roll for first turn, Guard v Guard envitably is swung in a big way by the first successful shooting phase. However, I was able to put a good portion of my infantry in cover, and with a bit of luck my Infantry held on in the game despite the pounding the Manticores gave me. I was able to hold and destroy the Mechanised units which were chucked at my deployment zone, and with the aid of the pyskers chase him off the central objective in the closing stages of the game. He held the objective in his own deployment with the blobbed platoon, and take another with a mechanised unit. However, the Special Weapons Squad saved the day, having stayed in their imobilised Valkyrie they jumped out and took the last objective just as the game ended forcing a draw.
Game 5 - The last game saw me pitted against one of my regular opponents Tim Bland with his Tau (an army he'd only started using the day before the tournament). He used a Tau Commander, two units or three Crisis suits, a unit of 6 Firewarriors, a unit of Kroot, a small Path Finder unit with a Devilfish (which the Firewarriors used), two Hammerheads with Railguns and a unit of three Broadsides. The final mission was Dawn of War, Capture and Control, with a win giving Tim a good chance at Best Tau player at the event - I was'nt about to give him an easy ride though! Though I gained first turn, my initial shooting phase was not great, and continued to be similar through most of the game, that said Tim's wer'nt much better. Over the game both armies took a hammering, and in turn 5 he was in a winning position, however immobilising a Hammerhead just short of my objective stopped him from contesting, and with four albeit badly damaged scoring units in proximty to it I was able to hold onto it forcing a draw.
That left me with one win, one loss and three draws - not too shabby as far as I'm concerned, and saw me with a margin of victory of 0.40 (which means I scored slightly above the average Guard player at the event, '0' being the average).
Every game over the weekend was great fun, and everyone I played did so in the spirit of the game, I REALLY struggled to pick out my choice for favourite opponent! This was a nice innovation however, rather then simply rating each opponent you picked your favourite from the weekend, with additional points available for those who recieved these votes. Much better then the old system. There was a reasonable variety of armies, and by far the majority were not the classic power builds from what I saw, though don't make the mistake of assuming that this made the event easy, the builds were good, just not unending net lists like the Maelstrom Team Challenge has become. The evening entertainment was also great, 'number 14' especially so (you had to be there!), and the food was better then ever, though having been told to 'fill my boots' by the chef I may have eaten a little too much! Really, the only hole I can pick in the event is a lack of line of sight blocking terrain - there really should have been more.
Finally, I was also thrilled as another of the lucky ones to be nominated for best army, picking up my second Throne of Skulls nomination and another certificate. A few pictures of the army having been uploaded on the Warhammer World Facebook page as Colonel Ackland spotted! I did'nt win the acolade, which deservedly went to a very nicely converted Exodite Eldar army, though apparently I did pick up a fair few of the votes - always nice. So, thankyou to those who did vote for me, I always get a bit tongue tied with how to reply to complements, but they very much appreciated.
You can see those pictures, and plenty of others both of games and the other best army nominations on the Warhammer World Facebook page, HERE.