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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Post-NOVA Open Observations

A Summary Of My Games

I went 4-4 at the NOVA open. Not bad for my first tournament.

Day one I won two and lost two games. The first win was against a standard competitive guard list; lots of veterans, Leman Russ Executioner, the usual. This one went as expected: Deathwing terminators marched across the battlefield, crushed vehicles, and chased infantry off the board. I made a few first-game-of-my-first-tournament mistakes, including forgetting to move all of my terminators on turn one. In the end it did not matter, but it’s the kind of error I've been training myself to avoid for the past few months.

My second game was against Fateweaver demons. I lost this one, but only just. I've never played against this build, and never really paid attention to the internet chatter, so I was off my game until it was too late. I am positive that we skipped a turn, although my opponent (who this benefitted) insisted we didn't. I think it was just a mistake, not a deliberate attempt to steal the win, so I didn't really argue too much, but it could have had an affect on the outcome.

Game three was against Space Wolves. This was my first tournament game against the much vaunted space puppies. I haven't played against them for more than six months, not since my Dark Angels were green codex marines, so my estimation of the outcome of this game was more based on hearsay than experience. I think I played this one very well, and properly used my strengths against the weaknesses of MSU armies. I simply ignored the Landraider Crusader because I knew it would be a pain to kill, and disabled or destroyed all his other vehicles before systematically crushing, or chasing away the five man squads they all contained. I managed to immobilize the Landraider on the last turn, which cut its victory point value in half, and turned a close game into a solid win.

The final game of day one? Horde orks. Great. I knew going into the tournament that any game against the green tide was going to be nearly impossible for me, especially with the NOVA format missions, so I didn't really try very hard on this one. The table quarter deployment also didn't help. I lost two squads of terminators to mishaps from incautious deep striking, and then was slowly overwhelmed. I probably could have done better--although I doubt I could have won--if I had moved up in a Terminator mini-horde, and simply focused my attacks to wipe out one unit at a time. I definitiely need more practice against this kind of list even if I hope to break even using the Deathwing. In this game in particular a large part of my loss was psychological (although the lootas helped as well); I went in thinking that there was no way I could win, and didn't really ever try to.

Day Two, my first game was against Space Wolves. My opponent played very well, but had a similar MSU list to the one I face previously. I was able to win by victory points. At that point it began to set in: "I get 2+ saves against all those missile launchers... I no longer fear the Space Wolf."

My second game of the day was against that Grey Knights army we keep hearing about, you know the one: Dreadnoughts with psybolt autocannons, and inquisitorial retinues composed of deathcult assassins and a few crusaders. I am used to facing off against my brothers much more balanced list, so this was a bit of a shock to me. As with my game against the Fateweaver list, I did not approach this one well. I tried to charge the dreads as I would with an IG type list, and was simply blown off the table. Too many shots that always hit and always wounded. This was an educational game for me, and was really the one that drove home the importance of using my ability to deep strike. I think half of my terminators deposited in front of his dreads on turn one could possibly have overwhelmed them. I am not sure how I would have done against all the death-cult assassins, but either way it would have been a better showing on my part.

The third game of day two was also against Space Wolves. Long story short, there were shenanigans, but I still won. My opponent cursed his bad rolls on the last two turns, but I think he karmically fucked himself with the questionable tactics he tried to get away with earlier in the game. It was rewarding to see my final Space Wolf opponent's HQ, a broken Thunderwolf riding Lord and his Fenrisian escorts, fleeing off the board on the final turn.

My final game was with Dark Eldar, an army that I have a fair amount of experience playing against, although not this particular build. Ciaran from the Overlords podcast, and his Baron Sathonyx helmed Hellions, provided a game that was a great deal of fun, but was also a big loss. This ended up being a cinematic game, the final few turns of which saw my Deathwing occupying a hill at the center of the board, surrounding by a screeching horde of combat-drug crazed, hoverboard riding, space elves. I managed to chase Sathonyx and his squad off the table, but the other two units comprised of about 14 Hellions each, were enough to whittle my army down. The MVP of this game was my apothecary, who managed to save, either from armor or Feel no Pain, approximately 10,000 wounds from splinter weapons, lances, and blasters, before finally succumbing on the final turn.  Knowing what I now do about such lists, I would have played the game very differently, but as jerks always tell you when you least want to hear it: hindsight is 20/20.

High Points

Defending the honor of the Dark Angels. There were five Dark Angels players at the tournament (who I believe all played some iteration of Deathwing), with a win percentage of 57.5%. I know that this is a small an unreliable sample, but regardless it is good to see my old and broken codex positively represented in a competitive environment.

Low Points

As I stated in a previous post, I was not particularly impressed by the appearance judging, also I wish there had been a place to place the display boards--by the end of the first day there were shattered board littering the hall, and since it had no effect on the overall scoring, I would rather have simply had small and durable tray for transporting my army.

In general things could have been a bit better organized, especially in terms of posting game assignments. All the yelling over the PA system didn't help the fact that 200 people only had a few minutes to find out where they were supposed to be, set up, and begin a game that they probably didn't have enough time to finish anyway.

On The Difference Between Standard And Tournament Games

Facing armies I was unaccustomed to really hosed me. That is not to say I would have definitely won those games had I been familiar, but I definitely lost them because I wasn't. A tournament is already a high-pressure environment, and the limited time for each game made it difficult to face an unfamiliar army. Also, NOVA missions require a more solid game plan--you can't just go for the tie, sometimes you even have to plan for a win on the secondary or tertiary objectives--so not knowing how your own army will fare against something will hobble you.

On Deathwing

Thunder hammer/storm shield terminators en masse work really well against mech'd up armies, and since that is a popular theme these days, Deathwing can do well. Most of the time. The problem arises when you face something other than those armies. This doesn't matter so much for me; I'm not going to tournaments to win Best General, so a few losses are fine, but certain armies are always going to be a challenge for Deathwing, and many of those I rarely play against, so its hard to practice for.  

The game against Gray Knights really reinforced the need for accurate deep striking. I think I may go back and include a few bikes in my tournament army just so I can face such opponents. I like the speeders, despite the fact that they usually die, but in certain cases it is going to be much more important to have a no scatter deep strike for half of my army.

Stay tuned for upcoming "What-I'm-Going-To-Do-Now-That-The-NOVA-Open-Is-Over-And-I'm-Sick-Of-Playing-Deathwing!" posts.


  1. Sounds like a good time though. Am most keen to see what your sick of playing deathwing plan is going to entail. I am really liking my dark eldar as the models are fantastic. I have also been slowly learning to paint necrons, heard they were the easiest...

  2. I'll give you a hint: a key part of the list rhymes with Shmarneus Shmalgar.

  3. Will this be a green shmarneus or original coloring?