Sunday, October 13, 2013

Feast of Blades: The end and some gaming philosophy

With the final day of gaming completed and a pleasant night out on the town in Denver with my wife, I think the trip out to Feast was a worthwhile adventure in gaming, fun and introspection. This post will cover more of how I did, how I felt with Eldar/Tau and the meta along with some philosophical food for thought.

Intro/progress update:
So going into the second day of gaming with a 3-0-1 record, I was in the 2nd bracket (almost made 1st bracket but I didn't get enough Battle Points in my first 4 games). Each bracket was broken up into groups of 8 players and whoever went undefeated in their bracket won their respective brackets.

I ended up winning my first 2 games while losing my 3rd and final game-at no fault of my own I am pleased to say (see below for more on that)! So all in all, I ended up with a 5-1-1 record against some top-notch players and armies which put me somewhere at 9th-10th place out of 110 players, I think?

A quick rundown of my last 3 games:
-My first game was against the rather (in)famous Goatboy from Bell of Lost Souls. He brought a nasty Screamer star list that had so many scoring units I was unsure of how I was going to win but I managed to pull out a solid victory.

-My second game was against Necrons with a few flyers, barges and more goodies. It was a unique and interesting list but I managed to pull out another solid win as well. Highlight of this game for me was his Necron lord on foot charging my Riptide but my Riptide rolled 3 6s to hit with the Ion Accelerator and wounded him 3 times killing him and he failed his WBB roll!

-My third game was against a solid Eldar list with 2 Wraithknights, Night Spinner and no less than 5 Wave Serpents! I ended up losing through no fault of mine, IMO because so many things that were out of my control went wrong that if any of them had not occurred I would have won =).

To vent my frustration at what I consider a "bad-beat" (my opponent agreed as it was just THAT close!):

(1) it was scouring and I got bad objectives
(I had a 1, 2 and a 3)-if I had just 1 more point in objectives I would have won because I also had First Blood and Line Breaker; (2) I never rolled higher than a 1 for run moves-if I rolled any better then I would have contested a 4 point objective for the win; (3) my Wraithknight charged a 4 man Dire Avenger unit and failed to do anything to them, failed to run them down and then the falling back DA rallied and made it to an objective-killing them would have won me the game by denying an objective; (4) both my Riptide and Wraithknight got Instant Killed by Distort weapons at clutch times in the game-if either of them survived, I would have won the game by being able to contest an objective; (5) if the game went on another turn, I would have won as my opponent only had a few Dire Avengers and a Wraithguard unit alive at the end of the game for me to blow off of objectives and I only lost my Serpents, Riptide and Wraithknight this game!

So yeah, nothing you can do at that point, congrats to my 3rd round opponent for hanging in there and pulling out the win. =)

Eldar/Tau and the general meta:
I've been playing Eldar since 2000ish and dabbled with Tau since they came out so by no means have I jumped on the Eldar/Tau bandwagon that many seem to be dying to hitch a ride on. If newer and better armies come out and Eldar/Tau start to decline, I will still remain true to the Iyanden Craftworld!

So with that said, I am pleased that Eldar and especially Eldar with Tau allies is so strong-it allows me to build and play a very strong army that I can enjoy and win consistently win-consistency is a good thing. I like how with the right set-up, you can consistently count on your units to perform a certain way and quite often I am impressed with the performance of many units.

I also want to point out that while Eldar/Tau are very solid, it still takes a good player to win consistently with them-especially against another good player. In my games against other Eldar/Tau players, I've found that while they generally know how to play (i.e., point and shoot and maybe assault here and there) some might be lacking in the subtle things that define what a good player is. These things involve knowing what you need to deal with in the other player's army and how to:

(1) deploy to counter and minimize any advantages your opponent might have; (2) prioritize your forces to take out key threats that the opponent is planning to use to win or keep you from winning; and, (3) knowing what to do and how/when to do it.
 With so many armies and combinations out there, this just takes experience and a certain aptitude as some players just "don't get it" when it comes to proper application of strategy and tactics! I was once such a player and learned and I hope this blog helps get other players to up their game :).

List design and my plea for y'all to focus on balanced lists:
Now looking at the meta, it is literally dominated by Eldar and Tau armies or some combination thereof. Simply put, they are strong armies and have so much power/potential. Therefore, you must prepare for everything these armies can throw at you and this is what I mean to talk about when I mentioned I was going to discuss Eldar/Tau and the current meta.

You have to build an army that can (1) deal with Wave Serpents in some capacity and survive their shooting; (2) survive S7 Spam in general; (3) survive/deal with things that can ignore your cover and even potentially your armor save; and, (4) you still have to remember that Flyers/FMCs can wreck your battle plans and that you still have to have enough scoring units in the end of the game to grab objectives.

This is why building an "all-comers list" is essential and the best approach to army list design IMO. Simply put, it is the players/armies that can deal with any threat effectively that win tournaments because if you focus and over do it with any particular thing, you suffer from diminishing returns and the possibility of a "bad draw" and these armies typically have some sort of "hard counter" to them. Case in point would be a Tau army that spams nothing but S7 shooting but then faces an army of Land Raiders or Venom Spam against Serpent Spam. If you lack the ability to effectively handle certain threats, those threats will destroy your chances of winning any event. Someone, somewhere, is playing an army that can give your army a hard time-so prepare for it! Also, as an aside, when someone says Warhammer is simply a rock-paper-scissors game, I immediately wonder about their list building skills. Don't build such lists, they are doomed to failure!

So looking at my army, I think I have the tools to handle any kind of threat effectively as even if someone were to spam the heck out of one particular thing, I think aspects of my army are resilient enough to survive whatever is thrown at it and play to the mission to pull out a win.

To anyone who thought/thinks my army is full of cheese...
Going into a game, people generally dismiss my army as "meh" but when it gets in gear and systematically destroys my opponent's army, they sometimes blame dice and they sometimes come out of the game thinking how cheesy my list was. Really, though, my list just has some solid and strong combos and ultimately is a pretty balanced "swiss-army-knife" type of army. I've tried hard to put things together that compliment each other and work well to counter anything someone might throw at me.

Oh yeah, and Goat Boy from Bols said that "if anyone thinks my army is/was cheesy, they don't know anything," so there!

Final thoughts on my list/potential tweaks:
So yeah, coming out of this event and with a few tweaks, the army I played will be my go-to tournament list.

-First, I definitely saw a use for another Jetbike unit. Every game I wished I had a second unit of bikes-if for no other reason than to secure Line-Breaker or contest/grab an extra objective.

-Second, the Tau Commander could definitely use an Invul save and perhaps even FNP. This will help him survive things that would ignore his cover/armor saves and further increase the survivability of the Reapers.

-Third, I think I will have to add a Kroot Hound to my Kroot unit. I've come to respect the Kroot unit for what it can accomplish when outflanking. Still, they are liable to die so horribly and have terrible Ld =(.

-Fourth, I think I could definitely use a Serpent for the Reapers to protect them from first turn shooting and then to subsequently move up with my other Serpents to be used by other units. Invariably, the Wraithguard's serpents get killed. Serpents are simply such a high-priority target because of their damage output so having an extra one around will certainly help.

Philosophical musings:
So yeah, I played 7 good games and I am pleased with how I played and how my army performed. I can only think of a few mistakes here and there that might have made a difference so this was a good learning experience with getting a feel for a solid field of players and armies. Ultimately, as my friend said, "tournaments don't really prove who the best player is...It comes down to dice and match-ups usually."

I couldn't agree more and in hindsight, what do you win? A medal and a high five? I went and played 7 good games, placed fairly high and had a good time so that is a win in my book!

So with that in mind, I have to admit that I really wanted to win this event and a lot of people were rooting for me and thought I could pull it out. But you know what? Winning isn't everything and in the big picture, the prestige of winning a big tournament fades fairly quickly and then pretty soon you are left with nothing.

Without trying to toot my own horn, most of my opponents have expressed the notion that I am a very good player (my lovely wife tends to hang around my games doing bible studies so she overhears players around after I leave to get a drink or something hehe). And you know what? That is good enough for me, to earn the respect and reputation of being a solid player, one who can tangle with the best of them and come out on top.

Play to win but not just to win. Play for the experience and furtherance of the hobby. if you don't win, don't take it hard, just look at it as an opportunity to improve for next time.

So this is Mortetvie signing out for the weekend. A special thanks to everyone I ran into at Feast that reads this blog! Stay tuned for all of my battle reports and feel free to drop any lines, comments, questions or concerns.


  1. Nice write up, I couldn't agree more with the points you raised. For me the most important aspect of the hobby in to firstly enjoy yourself and have a good time. Winning isn't the be all end all that so many players think nowadays.
    Glad you had a good time.

  2. I agree you got screwed on some of the things in your third game. But not the spread of objectives. As you put it you need to have a take all comers list. That also includes being able to get the high point objectives in a scouring game and hold the relic in a relic game. These game sort of balance out all the super firepower lists out there by making them go take things. I love the write up great job at the tourney.

  3. Good job at the tourney. You van never be disappointed with that record. Good to here that you had a good time.

    Will you be attending Vegas Open? I'm flying in from western Canada

  4. Glad you enjoyed the tournament, and we look forward to seeing you next year! Let me know who you are next time so that I can say hi - I'm the guy running around with the yellow shirt making all of the rulings...

  5. It's interesting my my Bay Area Open 2013 experiences mirrors that of your FoB 2013 experiences. That year, I also brought a highly synergistic army that runs not on brute force, but the finesse of its general - my Tyranids. I also ended with a 5-1-1 record and came out 9th out of 144 players (though I am somewhat proud of the fact that I won Best Tyranids). My draw was I game that I was winning and should have won, however, my flyrant turned out to be just fractions of an inch outside of my opponent's deployment zone, thus depriving me of Linebreaker and the win. And I also played a couple of players of note - Alex, who was the winner of the FoB 2012 with his Tzeentch screamer/flamer-spam daemons, as well as Blackmoor's Draigowing.

    Anyways, congrats on a very good run at the FoB.

  6. Thanks for the comments guys, Battle Reports should be coming up as soon as I finish Mid Terms-must continue to fill brain with legal mumbo jumbo =).

    @ Jy2, as my friend said, dice and match-ups play a large role in where many players place. Coming out of FoB I definitely think I have what it takes to win it so if finances permit, I'll try again next year =). Looking forward to playing you again, as always-safe travels!

    @JRBunn, I was the Eldar player who had the converted "Eldar" Aegis line and everything in my army was Iyanden theme (Yellow/Blue). I was also the guy who looked scraggly with a moustache and chops if that means anything =). I'll have to make it a point to say hi to ya next time I come by!

    @Colin, I am seriously considering the LVO, so if I go I'd love to meet up with you and maybe get a fun game in!

    @Swanson, thanks for the words of sympathy/encouragement but I still can't help complain about the distribution of the objectives. Primarily because I tried so hard to get up there and kept rolling a 1 on run moves! Plus, my bikes would have died horribly had I shot them up to contest an objective (we rolled it out and I would have rolled terribad on my saves/ld lol). Oh well, better luck next time!

    @Skaltar, I had a great time and played some fun opponents for the most part so I encourage everyone to try out FoB at least once!