Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adepticon 2013 Fantasy Championships GT Report (with pictures!)

Howdy, folks! Today we travel to a strange alternate universe, where models come on square bases, and there is an entire phase specifically devoted to Psyker powers. This land, called Warhammer Fantasy, is actually quite fun to mess around with, and I've had a Dark Elf army for quite some time now, though I've admittedly only really dabbled in the game, as my first love is 40k.

The short version of the long story for me at Adepticon is that I had wanted to play in the 40k Team Tournament, but was unable to for various reasons (mostly, tickets sold out ridiculously fast), and instead was faced with the option of either playing nothing on Saturday/Sunday, or dragging my Fantasy army over to Chicago.

While this might seem like a no-brainer to most of you, I assure you, for me it was a dilemma as I hadn't played Fantasy for over a year and a half.

With that, let's jump on over to my list and the grizzly details and my inevitable 5 rounds of failure (or... lackthereof?)

2400 Point Dark Elf Army of Rust:

Dreadlord w/ Crimson Death, Armour of Darkness, Pendant of Khaeleth, Ironcurse Icon (General)

Supreme Sorceress w/ Level 4, Lifetaker, Sacrificial Dagger, Talisman of Preservation (Lore of Shadow)

Death Hag w/ Cauldron of Blood (BSB)

33x Warriors w/ Spears, Shields, Banner, Musician, Banner of Eternal Flame
10x Repeater Crossbowmen w/ Shields, Banner, Musician
10x Repeater Crossbowmen w/ Shields, Banner, Musician
10x Repeater Crossbowmen w/ Shields, Banner, Musician

20x Black Guard w/ Banner, Musician, Banner of Murder (Unit gets Armor Piercing)
Cold One Chariot
Cold One Chariot
Cold One Chariot


The premise of the list:

Honestly, this list is very similar to anything else I've ever taken in 8th edition. I had at some point prior (for some unknown reason) stripped the paint off my Cauldron Hags and discovered this fact roughly 12 hours before I had to leave for Adepticon, and I did a quick paint job on them. The fact that they were probably my best painted models (aside from my Chariots, of which I am actually rather proud), is telling, as the army is the 3rd one I'd painted.

(for reference, I'm on my 11th one now, 9 of which are 40k lol)

So, the premise. The crossbowmen shoot the blocking units rather well, allowing my Black Guard to walk in and "Blend" whatever unit I want to kill. Hydras are amazing for their points value even now - my goal is generally to walk up 12" and use their breath weapons on blocks of infantry, then get them into combat.

The Chariots are a bit confused, as they really do hit hard for their points, but are quite slow compared to the rest of the army. I finally learned to use them well in the final game, but as you'll see, were of little use the rest of the tournament.

Otherwise, everything else is support. Sorceress can debuff things with the best of them, and really has some nice synergy with her spearmen blob. My magic phase is pretty strong, with plenty of 7-point power dice (the sacrificial dagger lets me kill a guy and gain a power dice). Really, I was only out-matched in the magic phase only once this tournament, and that by another Dark Elf player.

Guess you can see my general playstyle as we move into the reports :)

Ah, my army. It actually doesn't look bad, though this picture doesn't do it justice.

**So remember**

Before you judge me for decisions made and general mistakes in rules, I hadn't played for 1.5 years. I hadn't played against any of the 5 new armies that have come out in that time, and was generally quite out of my element.

Game 1: Dark Elves vs. Todd McGee's Vampire Counts

His List:

"Toddric Von Carstein" - Vampire Lord w/ Lance, Heavy Armor, Shield, Dawnstone, Dread Knight, Nightshroud, Quickblood, Summon Creatures of the Night, Dragon

Necromancer w/ Master of the Dead, Cursed Book

Vampire Count w/ Level 2, Enchanted Shield

25x Crypt Ghouls w Champion
25x Skeleton Warriors w/ Full Command
22x Zombie Horde
6x Dire Wolves
6x Dire Wolves
6x Dire Wolves

19x Grave Guard w/ Full Command, Great Weapons
3x Fell Bats
Corpse Cart
5x Hex Wraiths
1x Spirit Host

5x Blood Knights w/ Musician, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame

Pregame Thoughts:

Todd seemed like a pretty nice guy, and I was glad to have a laid back opponent in my first round. I had never played against the new Vamp Counts, and it looked to be pretty different from what I'd played against before.

The goal was to get a good charge on his blocks, and somehow manage to kill his invincible Dragon Lord (1+ re-rollable saves, with the ability to regen wounds is um, rough, to deal with).

I was just glad he didn't have any of the new enormous warmachine things, of which I had no clue what they could do.

Here we are, all set up. My general is in the Blackguard, if you didn't know.

Here we are, after his first turn. You see his Spirit Host there in the middle blocking the dragon. His Grave Guard is the biggest block on the left. Hexwraiths were new to me, and blocking all my chariots from doing something turn 1 (ethereal is frustrating to deal with for my army)

My guys instead opted to go different directions, the Hydras 'turboing' up toward his lines, while the Chariot in the middle decided to take one for the team and block his Wraiths. My shooting wiped off two of his Dog units, and not much else. Not sure why my blocks didn't move up on the right.

My shooting was actually quite dumb - I killed a unit of dogs, which freed his Bloodknights to charge my central Hydra, and wipe it out with their Flaming Banner of Hydra Pwnage. His Dragon Lord charged and wiped out a Chariot, his Fellbats charged my leftmost crossbowmen., Hexwraiths charged a Chariot, who got to stand there and do nothing. Happily, he left my leftmost Hydra alone.

You can see the Hydra on the left there, who wiped out his Grave Guard pretty well with his breath weapon. I also decided to get more aggressive, and moved the Black Guard up to mess with his other blocks of infantry. Sorceress and squad casted Mindrazor on themselves, and prayed that Todd would charge them with the Dragon. Other shooting killed a Bloodknight, woo! The lone 'survivor' chariot fled with my other chariot, and both went off the table. Awesome, haha.

You'll note that the game is looking quite grim here, and most of my units are out of position. My floundering gets a little better the next rounds, but this one is a key example of how Aggression on my part is the only way I could potentially make a game of it. Aggression is how you win when you're outmatched, in almost anything in life, including wargames :)

Pictureless parts of the game:

His Dragon Lord charged a squad of Crossbowmen, who predictably folded, and he overran into the Cauldron, which turned out to be a mistake - in my own phase, I casted Mindrazor on the Cauldron, and the Hags ended up butchering his Dragon, and then his Lord (who had a re-rollable armor save, but no Ward, which is no defense against Ld. 8/9 and like 11 attacks that re-roll to hit).

My Hydra charged in and wiped out his Grave Guard. My magic de-toughened his Blood Knights, and the Crossbowmen wiped them out over a couple turns, after they failed a charge.

The Black Guard killed all of his Ghouls, Zombies, and Corpse Cart, while the Hydra went on to wipe out his Skeletons.

In the end, I think I actually ended up tabling him, aside from a unit of confused Hex Wraiths.

You can see my lone squad of crossbows, staring down the corpse of his Dragon Lord, who had also (I think?) wiped out my Cauldron at the same time of his own demise.

Results:  24/25 points for the Dark Elves!!

Post-game thoughts:

Well, what started out as a bungling nightmare of a game for me ended up with a crushing win. Todd hadn't anticipated the effects of Mindrazor, and lost his 600-point dragon as a result. My Hydra showed why he's still a Boss by wiping out two units on his own, and the Black Guard are really just insane in how many re-rollable attacks they get against other blocks of infantry.

In the end, every unit besides the Chariots actually ended up doing well, despite a bad start. Todd was the guy I voted for at the end as "favorite opponent", though honestly all but 1 of my Fantasy opponents deserved that vote. I was quite impressed with the sportsmanship in Fantasy, which even surpassed my excellent 40k opponents.

The key, as I see it, was that I was aggressive. Playing passively against opponents who know the game far better than you is a good way to lose quick, and when I realized that my only real option was to get in his face and make him deal with my stuff, the game went far better.

So, on I went to face an opponent who would undoubtedly outmatch me.

Game 2: Dark Elves vs. Daemons of Chaos!!

His List:

Lord of Change w/ Lvl. 4, Lesser Gift, Exhalted Gift

32x Plaguebearers of Nurgle w/ Plagueridden (champ?), Standard, Musician, Standard of Discipline
10x Pink Horrors w/ Full Command, Gleaming Pendant

5x Furies of Tzeentch
5x Furies of Tzeentch
5x Flesh Hounds of Khorne
6x Beasts of Nurgle

Skull Cannon of Khorne
6x Plague Drones of Nurgle, Standard, Musician, Banner of Eternal Flame

Pregame Thoughts:

Heh, another army I've never played against. Well, not the new book. He was very helpful in telling me what his army could do, and I decided I just needed to try to win combat. I know, I know: brilliant plan, right?

My idea was to try to shoot down the Lord of Change as quick as possible, and nuke the Beasts of Nurgle with a couple doses of Pit of Shades, thinning his ranks to a more manageable number. The Drones made me nervous, as I'd never played against a unit like them, but I figured a healthy dose of Hydra love + Chariots charging in would do them some good. (lol, forgot someone else might be smart enough to take the Banner of Eternal Flame)

Here's our setup. See, better positioning for me - the Cannon wouldn't be able to kill both Hydras or all three Chariots if I had something to say about it :) Note the Beasts of Nurgle on his hill there.

I got first turn, and first thing threw Pit of Shades at his Beasts of Nurgle after reducing their Initiative to 1. Got it Irresistible Force and got a direct hit. He failed to pass a single I1 test, and his big awesome unit was off the board before he could move them. Wow, what a break for me!

He just kind of stayed where he was, and waited for me to come to him. You can kind of (not really) see his Lord of Change hiding behind his Plague Drones.

I just moved up - remember my whole revelation about being aggressive? I shot at stuff, maybe killed a Plague Drone. Mostly, I knew I'd benefit if I could get some combat going, especially because his whole left flank collapsed after his Deathstar squad disappeared.

No picture to show it, but on his second turn, his Lord of Change jumped up in front of my lines and cast some spells. I in turn cast a "reduce toughness" spell on him, got a "3" on the D3, and shot the poor bastard down with a flurry of crossbow bolts.

This is sometime later. His Cannon Chariot actually charged my Hydra, and the Hydra (who I'm convinced should have killed his Chariot, but didn't even inflict a single wound to him) died a sad death. The Black Guard charged into the Plaguebearer squad, killed a ton of them, and to add insult to injury, he rolled a "12" for leadership, forcing the rest of the unit to simply disappear into the warp. 

Rest of the Game:

My warriors all fought hard against the Khornate Chariot, but due to a failure to roll any Doubles or a "6" (despite the 4 dice), I didn't have Mindrazor, and thus had to kill him by reducing toughness and slowly whittling him away via combat res.

The Plague Drones made my life difficult, but were outmatched by my Chariots, Hydra (who constantly had a 5+ Ward on him from the Cauldron), and the Black Guard, who eventually whittled them into nothing.

The rest of the game was just me trying to shoot down his Hounds of Khorne, and grabbing terrain.

Results: 22/25 points of the Dark Elves!!

Postgame thoughts:

Well... the game kind of seemed a little one-sided. Once I was able to get a perfect-scenario Pit of Shades cast on his Beasts of Nurgle (who in my opinion were the biggest 'unknown' variable in this game), the rest sort of fell into place. The fact that his Plaguebearers all disappeared immediately after one combat phase was really unfortunate, though I'm convinced I'd have killed them in about one or two more rounds anyways, especially because my Chariots were closing in on that combat next turn.

In addition to gunning down his (admittedly ill-advised move into the open) Lord of Change, I felt things just went well. Often, plans don't work out the way they're designed, but this time they actually did. The only factor was the fact that his Chariot mowed through my Hydra like it was nothing - the single instance in the game that things didn't go my way.

My opponent was excellent though, and I was increasingly impressed at how laid back he was - he took his blows in stride, and continued to be very helpful despite my lack of rules-knowledge. So far, 2 people tied for my Favorite Opponent vote :)

On to the next game, where I would undoubtedly be stomped back into my true place.

Game 3: Dark Elves vs. Dark Elves!!

His List (from memory, somehow this whole game has disappeared from my phone camera, and the list is gone as well... weird):

Sorceress w/ Lvl. 4, Sac. Dagger, Pendant of Khaleth, Other stuff I'm sure, Lore of Shadow

Master on a Pegasus, 2+ save, re-rollable
Master on a Cold One, some good combat gear, BSB
Death Hag w/ Cauldron of Blood

35x Warriors w/ Spears, Shields, Full Command, Banner of Flame
10x Repeater Crossbowmen w/ Musician, Banner
10x Repeater Crossbowmen w/ Musician
10x Repeater Crossbowmen w/ Musician

10x Cold one Knights w/ Banner, Musician, Standard of Always Strikes First
5x Harpies
5x Harpies

War Hydra
War Hydra

Pregame Thoughts:

Well... mirror match to the extreme. It was almost a fight between ideologies: Black Guard vs. Cold One Knights. It seemed like, going into this match, that he would almost certainly win. He was obviously skilled, as he'd won his last two matches by massacres. He had the same list as me. And, most importantly, he had more experience and rules knowledge than I did.

My plan then, was to just get into combat. I'd sacrifice my Black Guard if it meant my Dread Lord could stay alive, and then I'd just have to be as killy as possible.

One point of notice was that it was the mission where you had to capture/destroy enemy banners. He had a total of 6 or 7, and his "breaking point" was something like 3. If I could kill his Warriors (general + banner), Cold Ones (BSB + banner) and his one squad of Crossbowmen, I'd win the game.

As such, I decided to simply go balls-out to accomplish that task, ignoring my own casualties.

In fact, so devoted to this plan was I, that I won the roll to go first, and gave it to him, just so his units would be closer to me so he'd have less opportunity to out-maneuver me, as he would almost certainly be better at such than I.

Beginning phases of the game:

He shot a bunch of crossbows at a -3 Toughness Hydra, and put a few wounds on it. I then proceeded to do the same thing to him, rolling spectacularly well for wounds. I think I did about 20 wounds to the damn Hydra (T2), and ... he rolled every single save for the thing.

The good rolling on his part would continue through the game.

No, not good rolling. Like, almost-suspect-him-of-cheating rolling.

(but don't worry, I started using his dice, and they rolled abysmally for me, HAHA)

I sent my Black Guard up aggressively, giving them a 5+ ward from the Cauldron, and he took my bait, sending in both Hydras to give me firey death. I saved a few saves, and I think ended the turn with my Standard + Dreadlord.

However, this gave me an excellent opportunity: his Hydras had had to move to an awkward angle to burninate my Black Guard, and had his Cold One Knight squad sitting there ready to charge them next turn. But the COK were exposed on a flank, and my chariots were all within 11" to charge their flank (needed a "4" on 2d6 to charge in).

That turn, I failed a re-rollable Ld10 stupidity check on one of the chariots, then rolled a "3" for my charge distance on the second one. The third got into combat, and caused (again, rolling awesome), 7 S5 hits on his unit. He saved every single one, then rolled like a boss and killed the chariot outright.

FML, heh.

My Hydras, meanwhile, were steadfastly avoiding the "main" bustle of the battle, and instead crept up his flank and murdered all his Crossbowmen, threatening the rest of the "main" battle.

My warriors were also kind of ready to do something, and charged the flank of his Hydra, causing a single wound, and having him roll the "3" for leadership he needed to stay in combat after crushing him on Combat Res. Bah.

Middle/Endgame Turns:

He was able to get the charge on my Dreadlord/single Black Guard member with the Cold One Knights, and I challenged. He refused with his BSB, knowing full well that I'd destroy his Master, and we fought it out. As it turns out, nothing can kill my Dreadlord besides Death Magic or extreme luck, and he had neither.

The 'epic' combat of my Dreadlord vs. 11 COK lasted for 8 rounds of combat, when he finally killed the last model at the end of Turn 6.

Otherwise, the Warriors melted the Hydra over the course of 6 rounds of combat, and my Hydras managed to melt his Cauldron, Warriors, and Crossbowmen, while my own Crossbows finally shot down his final hydra.

In the end, he had only his unkillable master on a Pegasus left, and I actually had most of my army intact, aside from the poor sacrificial Black Guard.

Results: 25/25 points for MY Dark Elves!!

Postgame thoughts:


Wow, he rolled so well, and I was still somehow able to beat him. I couldn't believe the chariots failed their charges so spectacularly, and he managed to save all his saves!

In the end, it came down to positioning: my Hydras stayed out of the main fight, and as such were able to destroy all the support elements of his army. I personally know how much I depend on those support elements, and knew without them he'd struggle.

As it was, my Dreadlord fighting off his entire unit of Cold One Knights was huge, and allowed me to get the charges and shots that I needed for the rest of the game.

It turned out that my familiarity with his own book proved to be much more useful than his superior knowledge of how to use it. Because I knew exactly what his limitations and strengths were, I was able to negate many of those, and really control the way the flow of the game goes.

This game is an example of an opponent rolling very well, and myself somehow finding a way to win. When you say a thing like "I outplayed my opponent, despite his perfect dice", you also have to be prepared to never blame a loss on dice.

Remember that, people who are "great players" but lose consistently "only because of dice." Pick one of those identities - you can't have both and have people take you seriously.

My opponent was another great one, and his girlfriend was really cool too (she watched the whole time, but wasn't distracting - nice combo, lol). Seriously... ridiculous how great my opponents in Fantasy were.

Overview thus far:

I had gotten close to max points for all 3 games. Was it possible that I could win the whole thing, despite not having played for 1.5 years and not knowing the rules as perfectly as everyone else?

Unbeknownst to me, there was someone who would go on to take 5 perfect games, and win the whole thing by a landslide. Unfortunate, to have 3 massacres and be out of the tournament already :)

Still, I felt good about my chances - maybe I was just a good Fantasy player, and hadn't known it until this tournament.

Game 4: Dark Elves vs. Dark Elves!!

His List (also from memory - I seem to have lost my last 3 opponents' lists :-/  ) :

Sorceress w/ Lvl. 4, Sac Dagger, Other stuff I'm sure, Lore of Death

Sorceress w/ Lvl. 1, Lore of Metal
Master on Pegasus, Unkillable

~30x Warriors w/ Spears, Shields, Full Command
5x Dark Riders
5x Dark Riders
5x Dark Riders

8x Rangers w/ Crossbows
8x Rangers w/ Crossbows
5x Harpies
5x Harpies

War Hydra
War Hydra

Pre-game thoughts:

This game was a very 40k-esq way of deployment - if you won the roll, you got to go first, deploy everything first, and your opponent could seize the initiative on you.

I 'won' the roll to go first, and tried to hand it to him, but was told I had to go first. Not really 'winning' then, was it? lol

I deployed aggressively, and he did likewise - we'd be in each other's faces immediately.

I honestly felt very good about this battle. After his deployment, I felt there were a number of ways I could exploit his deployment in my favor by killing off most of his shooting with my own shooting, and forcing him into doing stuff I wanted him to do.

Instead, he rolled his "6" to seize the initiative, and I was immediately in a world of hurt.

You can see the deployments - I didn't want his Rangers in my backfield, lol.This is actually after his first turn, after he backed his whole army up and killed most of my shooting.

Despicable Me dude. Pretty awesome :) His whole army was actually gorgeous.

He continued to kill my shooters, and avoid me getting close. One of those 'denial' games. Also apparently my final picture for this report :-/

The rest:

It was honestly a fiasco. Where I was in position to drive up with my Hydras and kill most of his Rangers, shoot down most of his Dark Riders, and force him to deal with my Black Guard, he instead did the exact same thing to me.

I had zero shooting turn 1, and he sniped my characters with Death spells almost immediately. Lots of fail on my part to realize things like Remains in Play remain in play until I dispel it :-p

In the end, his mobility managed to strangle me, and though I had a turn of killing both his Hydras + a ranger squad, it was too little, too late.

Guess it didn't help that 2 of my chariots had to stay in reserve for turn 1 and never got into the fight, haha.

Results: Massive, ridiculous loss for the Dark Elves!! (3/25 points)

Postgame thoughts:

Bah, having him seize the initiative on me (or whatever it's called in Fantasy) really screwed me. Man, seriously, thought I had a good chance there.

However, I will say that my deployment counted on him not seizing. If I had played more defensively, I'd have had a much better shot at actually doing something to his army. As it was, I went for an 'all or nothing' approach, and ended up with nothing.

He was a really skilled player, and honestly probably would beat me more than half the time if we played consistently. I didn't know the Death spells as well as I should, and didn't take precautions to stop him from casting them. Lots and lots and lots to blame on myself and my skill this game, and he really did play extremely well. Better be good - he traveled all the way from England to play :)

Very excellent opponent though, and I was happy to lose to a guy as laid back as he was. Losing being a good experience? Who knew? haha

Game 5: Dark Elves vs. Ogre Kingdoms

His list (from memory):

Big General Guy w/ Helm of Stubborn, other stuff

Firebelly Mage
BSB Ogre

~13 Ironguts
~20 Noblars

6x Some kind of Musket Unit

4x Mournfang Cavalry
Cannon Chariot
Cannon Chariot

Pregame thoughts:

Ah, the fabled Gutstar.

My plan was to kill his Muskets, then charge everything into his Gutstar to see what would happen.

Game recap:

It wasn't a very pleasant game, so I won't go into a detailed explanation. The guy 'tricked' me into giving him my list by giving me a list at the start of the game, describing his units in general terms but lacking any actual knowledge of his Magic Items.

The short of the game was: I rolled everything into the Gutstar, killed the whole thing besides his Stubborn General, wiped out his Chariots and Muskets, and was hurt pretty bad in response.

He tried to talk me into charging his Gutstar with a Hydra, saying "it's a strong move, you'll beat me in combat, and maybe make me flee," because I'd casted -3T on him the turn before. When I did, he dispelled it that phase, then killed my Hydra easily with his Firebelly + flaming attacks. Not really a 'good faith' player.

Really, I was over the game, and was pretty sure I'd wiped him out, but he insisted he count the points out, but refused to give me his list?

He said he won by like 150, the margin for a 'win' being over 100. I honestly don't see how that was possible, but he insisted it was true.

It was my 12th game in 4 days, and I was spent. As such, I really didn't feel like fighting (I couldn't win anything at that point anyways), so I didn't ask him for his list, didn't fight it, and gave him a 'medium' sportsmanship.

Still, the Gutstar was brutal. Tell you what - the Chariots killed over half his unit on their charge. I think I'd win that game if I had to play it again.

Hell, I probably did win it anyways, lol.

Final Result: 22nd Overall, of 156 players

Not bad for an event of over 150 players. I was happy with the way I'd played, and despite the frustrating game 5, I had enjoyed the event nearly as much as the 40k.

The tournament was smoothly run, and I liked that getting a 100-point win got you as many points as a 2300-point win. I just wish there were more rounds. I realize that I was out of the tournament after having lost my Game 4, but would have liked more games had I won Game 4 and 5, and still lost to someone.

As it was, the event was nice and I'd play it again if I had more time. Maybe next year I won't get into the 40k Team tournament and I'll get to play again :)

Sorry for the brief nature of this report: not as many pictures/lists saved + no real tactical insights made the report less than it could have, I'm afraid.

Still, hope you enjoyed it!

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