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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Friday, February 4, 2011

Doubles Tourney

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of playing in a doubles tournament at Valhalla's game center, a local store with a hell of a back room. If you live in Colorado and haven't checked out Valhalla's, you really should, they have an enourmous play space and a truly absurd amount of terrain.

I went to the tourney with my friend Ted, an imperial guard player. I took my SM army, and in the weeks prior to the event we worked out a 2-army thunderbubble list, which you can see below. There was also a sort of side competition to write up a fluff story to explain why your armies are playing together, my submission is the pic at the top of this article. I also printed out a purity seal and attached it to the lower right, it really brought the piece to life. I won the fluff contest in a landslide. =)

Anyway, on to the list. The rules were as follows:
Each player must take one HQ and at least one troops choice.
Both players armies must fit into a SINGLE FOC.
Abilities do not work for your allies army.
1250 per player.

It's an excellent format and one I fully endorse for doubles tournies, it really meant that broken combinations were not a concern, it was good play that would win the day.

What I didn't like, however, was the fact that the tournament would use battlepoints. I don't really see an alternative, however, especially since a massive 36 teams showed up to the thing. Playing 3 2500 point games in a day is draining enough! Scenarios were posted beforehand, and you can really see their influence on our list.

After 3 weeks of play-testing, this was our final list:



+2x Plasma Guns

+2x Meltaguns

+Chimera (ML/HF)



+4x Flamer

+Chimera (ML/HF)

Infantry Squad

+Power Weapon

Infantry Squad

+Power Weapon

Infantry Squad

+Power Weapon

Infantry Squad

+Power Weapon


+Power Weapon

Heavy Weapon Team

+3x Autocannon

Heavy Weapon Team

+3x Autocannon

Veterans Squad

+3x Meltaguns


Heavy Support

Leman Russ Demolisher (HF)

+Plasma Cannons

Leman Russ Main Battle Tank (HF)

+Plasma Cannons

Space Marines


Librarian (Null Zone, The Gate of Infinity)

+Terminator Armor with SS


Assault Terminators

+5 Men

+10 TH/SS


+2x Twin-Linked Autocannons


+Twin-Linked Autocannon



Tactical Marine Squad


Scout Squad

+Missile Launcher

+Sergeant Telion

+Sniper Rifles

Fast Attack

Land Speeder


+Heavy Flamer

Land Speeder


+Heavy Flamer

Land Speeder


+Heavy Flamer

It was built to basically steamroller to the center of the board and hold it, weakening the enemy before they could hit our melee stuff and making combat easy. It worked extremely well in our practice game, and we named it "the bag of hammers". Basically, this list is like throwing a hammer. And then another one. And another. You just don't stop throwing hammers, really. The Marines basically provided support to the Guard by blocking with speeders and taking out tough mechanized threats, the Termies were there to smash into the biggest, baddest melee threat on the table and murder it, and the one lone tactical squad was there purely to score objectives. (2/3 missions) The guard blob was to back up the termies and maintain melee control, the russes to damage enemy infantry. All in all, it plays best on a table with lots of area terrain and no big LOS blockers in the middle. After three weeks of tweaking, we were both very happy with it and ready to go.

Oh, and I took Telion because I just painted him, I like him, and I've played marines for so long that I must take novel choices or die of boredom.

On to the tourney!

We arrived early, because that is what we do, which gave us a good opportunity to look at the tables.

Oh, SHI-

There were 18 tables set up, and VERY few of them had anything resembling area terrain. I mean, they were all beautiful, themed arenas, but they were almost exclusively filled with LOS blocking terrain, many of which were quite large. Most egregious was table 9, which was home to no less than seven 6"x12" two-story buildings, with windows only on the second story. It looked positively claustrophobic.

Well, this was going to make things harder, and we really just hoped it would hurt everyone. Actually, let's take a minute to talk about terrain in a tourney, shall we?

You need to have a mix of terrain at a tournament. This is not a debatable thing, it needs to happen. Ideally, you want 25% coverage of every table, with a rough 40% area, 40% regular, and 20% impassible. This is important because each terrain piece changes the battlefield in different ways:

  • Area terrain is infantry's loverfriend. Without it, the game is even MORE tank heavy than it currently is. Imagine if you had to deploy whatever infantry-manned heavy weapons you brought in the open... oh god. (poor, poor HWT)
  • Regular terrain (What I call "setpiece" or "LOS blocking" terrain) means that you can't just shoot from one end of the field to the other, all the time. This is important because it makes it easier for transports to move up, and means that the field is composed of several different areas of fire, and not just one big one.
  • Impassible because it means your midfield movement is important, and further subdivides the battlefield.
Alright, onto the games themselves. Note that I did not stop to take pictures, we had to play VERY fast, and even so only managed to fully play one of our games in the time limit. (Not our fault, BTW.) I won't be giving exact play-by-plays, more general shit that happens. After all, a lot of units just end up blowing each other up, let's follow the ones that really mattered, shall we?
There was random paring for the first round, and comparative pairing after that, so we crossed out fingers for an easy opponent. We were pretty happy when it turned out we were fighting foot guard and Necrons.

tunately, our table was not so great. We were fighting on table with 0 area terrain, one half of the board had big sharp-sided hills, the other was a raised slope, and the middle was a truely massive facility that blocked LoS to the majority of the field. It was a big block with a walkway attached to it, and the walkway was so large and bulky that not even an elevated Leman Russ could see over it to shoot at the other side.

Our opponets lists were simple: Guard with some individual foot squads, a command squad, a vet squad, (all with plasma and sutocannon when available) a Vendetta, two LRMBT's and an Executioner. Necrons brought 4 heavy destroyers, 35 warriors in two squads, 10 immortals and a lord.

The scenario was decent: 6 objectives, you can't score your second unless your ally also controls at least one, though all nonvehicle units are scoring. 1 more than the opponent to win, 2 for major, 3 for massacre. We took the side of the field with the raised plateu hills, foolishly thinking we would deny them what little cover was on the field. We should have taken the raised side, we really underestimated the height of the damn walkway. Deployment was lengthwise, something I'm never a fan of in 40k.

We were going first, so we set up to deliver some crushing firepower turn one, and cover the two firelanes available to us, to limit their deployment. They deployed okay, and would have been really hurt by our first turn, if they hadn't seized the initiative.


We took a brutal first turn of fire. Actually, we took a brutal every turn of fire; the opponent's dice could do no wrong. We lost the demolisher (immobilized+weapon destroyed) to a single shot of a Leman Russ' Battle Cannon +it's lascannon hull mount, while it was smoked. We lost every vehicle they glanced at, and by the end of turn 3 we were looking to be fully demeched.

At least the building was good for one thing, in that it allowed the terminators an unmolested advance. We had agreed that you could climb the walkway, and the objective that basically the entire enemy army was sitting on was just on the other side. My undamaged termies were set to charge all of the Necrons, as well as the platoon command squad+platoon. How beautiful.

Unfortunately, (though it was ultimately irrelivent) that charge never got to happen. Our opponents were both relatively new to the game, and they had taken an enormous time on their turns. With 20 minutes left, we had to decide not to start a turn 4. Despite losing our support, we were still positioned well, and we took 4 of the objectives, while contesting the center with the terminators. That meant that the game ended in a massacre, though we didn't qualify for any of the battle point modifiers.

It may seem like a gift, but remember that the terminators were undamaged, and about to wipe out more than half the army. Had the game gone on, I'm pretty confidant that we would have shattered them in turns 4-5. If it had gone to 7, we could have tabled them. Ah well, it sucks to have to end early.
Ah, game 2. We were put up against a friend actually, and we had even playtested our lists against each other the week prior! It was SW and Orks. SW brought support in 2 speeders, 3 long fangs (2x2 ML 2Las, and one 2plasma cannon 2 heavy bolter) a rune priest and 2 10 man assault squads of Grey hunters. Orks brought 2 10 man nob squads in trukks, with a warboss, a loota squad and some boys in a trukk. All in all, we weren't terribly scared of it, especially since we had rolled it days earlier.

Our second table
was almost as bad as the first. Lunar themed, there were a TON of small hills, and a collection of black buildings int he center, which, you guessed it, blocked LOS. Again, 0 area terrain.

The mission was a modified "sieze ground" with an objective in both deployment zones. However, there was also a center objective that you had to hold before you could score any others! A minor was just holding the center, major was center+1, and massacre was holding all the objectives. Deployment was Dawn of War, but instead of HQ+2 troops, it was 3 units of any type. We rolled first, and deployed on the left side of the field with the autocannons in the back, and the libbies with terminators on the center line. (After all, they could always gate back.) By doing this, we effectively forced them to fight for the left side, or let the terminators sweep their flank. They deployed their nobs on the left side in a trukk with the boss, and the plasma cannon squad of long fangs. I'm just now realizing that was illegal. Dammit, Biscuit! Get on your game!

First turn we moved everything on, preparing for a doozy of a fight in the tiny left half of the field. The terminators got charged by the nobs and... died. Just... dead. They killed like 2. It was truly atrocious. They went on to sweep the PCS, the HWT's, the veterans, a dreadnought, and both Russes, before FINALLY succumbing to our massed fire. Our fire was totally ineffective against the might of a 5+ cybork save.

All was not lost, however. Clever blocking by speeders meant that the second nob squad was gunned down along with the boys, and the only thing they had in position to score the center on turn 5 was one squad of grey hunters. We had 30 men left in our platoon to take it. Even better, a dreadnought was hidden over there, and could easily assault the boys to drag them off the objective and into combat. The scouts had survived and could claim the home objective. There was nothing stopping us.

Except for time. Did I mention they didn't really give time warnings? This was pretty relevant here, when we ran out of time on the bottom of 4, ready to effect our coup but unable to. So we got a major loss instead of a major victory.

I'm apparently still upset about this, because I just typed about 50 swear words and then deleted them. AAAARRRGGGG! PLAY FASTER PEOPLE!

Well, the pressure to place first was well off, so we decided to just go crazy next game and make the most high risk/reward moves possible all game.
Finally, game 3. This was simple kill points: 7 more than the opponent for a massacre, 4-6 for major, and 1-3 for minor.

Awesome! We got our table assignment.


Yeah, the one I talked about the the top, with all the big buildings. It turns out the roofs come off, and they have a door on each end, so we just played them as multi-level terrain. It was, without a doubt, the worst terrain of any 40k game I've ever played, and I've played tons of games with just textbooks for terrain.

Okay, opponents. Whadda we got?

Tau+Tyranids. The tau is 3 squads of battlesuits, a railhead, a full broadside team, and 10 fire warriors on foot. Nids is 3 tervigons, gaunts, deathleaper, a harpy, and a tyrannofex.

We deploy like men with unlimited sized balls, in maximum damage position, ready to pop out of buildings and rain death. We were ready to rock.

The nids were, for some reason, all on the left side of the table, while the tau was on the right. I put the terminators on the left, and prepared for glory. Everything else was scattered about, ready to engage their individual targets.

I just want to share two things about this game:
  1. If you think "jump shoot jump" is dead, you have clearly never played on table 9.
  2. If a unit fails hard, it can make up for it in one moment of pure, awesome glory.
2 is my terminators, who rolled so well I swear they must have been ashamed by their poor performance last game. Let me tell you about my terminators.

They basically just charged the nids. No plan, no complex manuvering, only the barest amount of covering fire. They chose the charge lane where every enemy on the board could shoot them, because that is what men do. When they finally got into combat, there were only 5 left (and the librarian) They got charged by 25 Termigaunts with adrenal glands and toxin sacs. Wiped them while only losing the librarian and 1 terminator. (Sucker was far in front, so 80% of the attacking unit ended up having to allocate to him, a neat trick I should write about sometime.) Then they charged another 5 gaunts (in two squads) that were blocking the juicy stuff. Apparently my terminators know how to work a bell curve, because they killed only two, apparently tactically missing their hammerswings, which meant I was left in combat with... 1 gaunt. No enemy shooting!

Wiped them out in the enemy assault phase, and suddenly... I was on the enemy doorstep. The crisis suits had been forced back, and were right there. I was in the thick of it!

Readers, if I play 40k till the day I die, I doubt I will ever see a multicharge as beautiful as this one. I got all three undamaged squads of crisis suits, and a tervigon with 4 terminators. I was a god. I was living the impossible dream. And I stomped those motherfuckers flat. They didn't even hurt me, and I wound up wiping out the remaining 2 tervigons with my termies after that. I won't lie, it made the whole day worth it.

We won a major victory, if we had played a bit better (read: hid damaged units instead of SUICIDE CHARGE) we would have massacred easy.
Finally, it was results time! We knew we hadn't placed high enough for a prize, (knew that as soon as round 2 ended) but I stuck around afterward to find out we placed 10/36. Not bad, and we could have gotten higher with minimal effort in the final round. I'm content calling it a tournament well played. Though I admit, I would have loved the $200+ dollars in merch that first place netted.

As a final note, I'd like to mention how well the event was run. Staff was always on hand to answer questions, and despite my gripes about terrain and time stuff, it was really a spectacularly well run event. Honestly, I feel blessed to even have a store nearby that can host a tournament with 72 people in attendance. So big shout out to the Valhalla's people, and I'll definitely be going (read: WINNING) next time. God, I love this game! =D

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