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Friday, March 11, 2011

TSHFT Report: Part 1

So now that I am recovered and not having to work I can do a little more thorough report on my experience. Let me say up front that it was a pretty fun tournament and I got to meet a lot of cool folks. Zen had us well provided for, with lunch on Saturday being Chinese food that was included in the entry price and the option to pay a little extra to get catered on Sunday as well.

There were some absolutely beautiful armies there and picking out favorites was a tough choice- there was a Farsight list with all its suits in action/combat poses (blasting a Dread with Fusion, setting off a Failsafe Detonator, etc), several other Tyranid players with some very excellent painting/conversion jobs, an insane number of beautiful Marine armies of every flavor, including Iron Wolves, all-jump Blood Angels, gorgeous purple Deathwing, a fire-themed Daemons army, and more that I can't even begin to describe- suffice to say that most everyone looked pretty fantastic and my own half-painted nonsense looked pretty sad in comparison.

The venue was also very nice, a big, open warehouse with some huge windows to let in light. Unlike many tournaments I've been to, there was SPACE! No bumping asses with strangers because you needed to lean down and check TLOS, no being stuck unable to watch your friend's game because there was only barely room for two people at the table! There was at least 4' of clearance between tables (rows were lined end-to-end, so going around wasn't always an option, but...) and there were open sections to set armies to the side during matches.

As to the tables themselves... well, that was a little less positive of an experience, I'm afraid. Now, I understand that providing terrain for a large tournament can be hard and apparently Zen got even more folks than he was expecting (forty-something), but quite a number of the tables were... sparse. Not only that, but having spoken to Zen about it as the first round was beginning, he saw this as acceptable, since "second turn has the advantage," so somehow this translates into the first player... something something something? I have no idea. Whatever the rationale, quite a number of the tables felt very empty despite them assuring me that there was at least 25% coverage, if not more, on every table. Then I was informed that the Citadel Battle Board (which we were using) hills, arranged like they almost always are in the corners like so, counted as terrain because they "provided better places to get Line of Sight from." Guys, that's the opposite of what terrain is supposed to do.

Mini-rant incoming: You wanna know why Space Wolves and Imperial Guard are overpowered, guys? It's because you can't f***ing put three 2"x4" pieces of area terrain in the center of the board, one hill in a corner, and call that good. Of course they're winning, there's no f***ing terrain on the table to get cover from! 5th edition balanced shooting and melee against each other by weakening each of them in different ways- cover saves became universal and stronger, so shooting had a harder time bringing down units, but consolidation into combat meant that melee armies still had to worry about getting removed once they had made their first charge. When you cut out half that equation, yes, shooting armies will dominate the fight. So I'm not going to be bringing my Tyranids to TSHFT next time, because I know that doing so is just gonna mean fighting my way up from the bottom tables again; it's a losing proposition and I'm not interested in that, no matter how much I enjoy the army. End rant.

My Army
Hive Tyrant (HVC, HC, OA, Parox, Leech)
2 Tyrant Guard
Tyranid Prime (Whip/Sword, Toxin, Regen)
3 Hive Guard
3 Hive Guard
2 Hive Guard
10 Termagants
10 Termagants
Tervigon (Cluster, Catalyst, Adrenal, Toxin)
Tervigon (Cluster, Catalyst, Adrenal, Toxin)
3 Warriors (Paired Swords, Toxin, 1 Strangler)
3 Warriors (Paired Swords, Toxin, 1 Strangler)
1 Harpy (Cluster, HVC)
1 Harpy (Cluster, HVC)
A bit of a change from some of the other lists, but I had a lot of success with Warriors recently and wasn't really liking the way the Trygons worked out. Warriors end up being tougher overall (especially with the Prime added) against both heavy weapons and standard infantry guns; only against Autocannons/Heavy Bolters/Scatter Lasers do they actually lose out. The Harpies were there as utility against infantry and to give me a longer-ranged option against tanks, which Tyranids have very few ways to include.

Okay, so my matches:

Round 1
Opponent: Kris
Army: Imperial Guard

CCS (Plasma?, Astropath, OotF)
1 Inquisitor (2 Mystics, 3 Vets with Melta, Psychic Hood) (Chimera)
Callidius Assassin
7 PBS (Chimera)
PCS (4 Flamers) (Chimera)
3 Infantry Squads (Autocannons)
2 Veteran Squads (3 Melta)
3 Vendettas
1 Medusa
1 Manticore
2 Hydras
Oh geez. I took one look at the table- which features a single, small hill, one crater, and two pieces of jungle (each about big enough to fit a single Termagant squad into at coherency) and nothing else and I know I'm in trouble. This is where my little talk with the TO and his assistants happens and... we get like one extra bit. And deployment is one of the TSHFT unique ones- each player's zone is 18" out from the corners, giving us each a sort of diagonal section of the board separated by... a hell of a lot of space to run through. I know if I deploy aggressively, I'm dead, because there simply is not enough to screen my MCs from his LascannonCallidius waiting to pop in and annihilate one of my units. So I reserve heavily, leaving just some Termagants and Warriors on the table and relying on some luck to weather the initial turns; my Tyrant also stays in, with the Guard spready as to try and make it impossible to get all three with a flamer template. The mission is objectives, with one in the center of the table and each of us getting to deploy one. His goes 12" off his board edge, as expected, but I have a chance of reaching it with an outflanking Tervigon; mine goes next to one of the pieces of terrain in my corner, forcing him to come to me if he wants to do anything about it.

He gets 1st turn and pretty much just lines up, using the hills in the corners (*sigh*) to position his artillery and long-range shooting for maximum effect. I lay my guys down as described, keeping as far back as I can to try and draw him towards my board edge for when my reserves come in. I don't steal and we go into the game.

His turn one is pretty basic- shooting happens, he starts to realize how resilient Warriors in cover are as his shots mostly bounce off me, I go to ground with a lot of stuff. Vendettas jet around kinda aimlessly, since he doesn't really seem to know where he wants them. Second turn he gets his Callidius in and drops it next to my Tyrant. Unfortunately he is able to clip all three of them- fortunately he fails to wound one, so both Guard die and suddenly I have no cover, and his Lascannons mercilessly annihilate my Tyrant along with some more Warriors. His artillery continues to be fairly ineffective, killing only one Termagant, but with the rest of his army breaking my back it hardly matters. On my turn I am rolling for 5+ reserves now that my Tyrant his dead, and I get... one Harpy and one Tervigon, the outflanking one. Yay. Having asked him before the game whether MotF forces rerolls on board edges (and getting a vague negative), he now informs me that it does. :\ He wasn't trying to be a jerk, maybe just misunderstood the question, but it's sucky none the less. I roll, come in on the wrong edge (my left, far from his objective and infantry blob that I want to charge) and he makes a mistake, forcing me to reroll. I promptly get the wrong edge AGAIN, effectively dooming my Tervigon and killing any chance of my contesting his objective. My Harpy flies in from my board edge to try and suppress some stuff, but my shooting is terrible and I'm forced to use it to kill off the Callidius before she singlehandedly kills my entire army.

He guns down my Tervigon with ease, then my Harpy, and pours more fire into my army, leaving me with two Warriors from separate squads alive for Synapse on the board. His vehicles have been moving forward this whole time, with his Vendettas skirting WAY too close to my board edge given that he knows I have Hive Guard coming in soon. Worse, he turns one of them with its butt towards my table edge in order to shoot at my Tervigon, leaving it incredibly vulnerable. If I had any ability to affect the game, that could have been a fatal mistake there. :\ On my turn 3 I get the other Harpy and a bunch of Hive Guard, so I cross my fingers hope to start turning the battle around; I know I can't win at this point, as he has his objective guaranteed and will be able to contest the center one, but it may be possible to pull out a draw, as I've been inching one squad of Termagants out of cover towards the center objective, ready to make a dash for it. So I bring in most of my remaining anti-tank firepower, with two Vends in range of them and a number of Chimeras around and I open up and... huh, six shots, four hits, no glances or pens on his rear armor. Well eff you too, dice. I shake one other Vend and immobilize a Chimera and that's basically it. Well, so much for my turnaround. He opens back up, killing my Harpy, several Hive Guard, and and one of my remaining Warriors, leaving several units out of Synapse; fortunately I pass my Ld7 morale check on the Guard and don't run right back off the board edge, although at this point it's looking grim no matter what.

Turn four I get my Tervigon finally, who moves into the area terrain and desperately prays for cover, which my opponent gives to me, as well as the remaining Hive Guard. I shoot some more with Hive Guard and tear a gun off one Chimera and... nothing else. Ayup, my chances now are slim. He, in return, closes the final distance and is now holding two objectives; a bunch of guys hop out and shoot the crap out of some units, but W6 and 4+ is able to hold the day against Plasma and Lascannons and I keep my one remaining Synapse creature, barely. We go into the bottom of five (the last turn, as we won't have time to finish anything more- we got started well after the other games) and I get my one and only spawn of the game, for fourteen dudes. Nice, but doesn't change anything. I rush some Termagants in to keep him back, my creeping squad makes a dash for the objective and roll 3, 3, 1 on its Difficult Terrain test, and that's that. Hurray.

He wins 2-1 on objectives, having chosen not to zoom and contest mine with a Vendetta? Secondary was killing units with Elites and my Hive Guard killed... nothing. In fact, I killed less than a dozen models total and only a single one of his units (the Callidius). I score the absolute minimum of six BP.

We talk a bit in between the round- Kris is a cool guy, apparently he reads 3++ and recognizes me from the 11th Company interview. He took 2nd at Conquest with this very same army and actually wrote in about it to the site, which amuses me. He's a cool guy and I don't blame the shitty game on him in any ways- it was a combination of the table, the mission, and some really poor dice rolls.

Round 2
Opponent: Dan? (I play two different Dans over the course of the tournament, I think this is correct)
Army: Tyranids
1 Hive Tyrant (Wings, Devs?, OA)
3x2 Hive Guard
2x10 Termagant
2x Tervigon
2x15(?) Genestealers
2x Trygon
Dan (forgive me if I have the name wrong here) has a really nicely painted Tyranid army that ends up being pretty similar to mine. Deployment is Spearhead and mission is Annihilation, except that Monstrous Creatures and Vehicle Squads are worth a little more and Swarms/spawned units are worth a little less. Huh. Table is, once again, fairly empty, but better than the last one- there are a couple good-sized hills and two large pieces of area terrain; on the other hand, it matters much less on this one, since it's all going to be a bloody melee anyways. Dan gets first turn and pretty much just lines up at his deployment zone, infiltrating with the Genestealers. Having played basically this very same match before a number of times against my friend Max, I make some very cautious judgements of distance and keep my Warriors and Hive Guard back somewhat and my Tyrant centrally located- getting the first shots off with Hive Guard will be key here. My Harpies hang centrally, ready to redeploy to wherever necessary, and my other units form a ring , mutually protecting each other. His Genestealers take positions off behind a hill near my board edge, making a vague attempt at flanking me. I decline to steal the initiative and we go to first turn.

He moves in with Hive Guard and aims some shots at my Warriors, IDing one; I carefully not the distance for my own turn, judging where I can get shots off. He moves in with Tervigons and Trygons and gets some poor DT rolls, hindering his progress forward. Catalyst goes on one squad of Genestealers and he moves them forward, but can't seem to decide if he wants to move up and cross the hill (we were playing them as "steep" hills, which were DT to cross the threshold of but flat on top; this was consistent throughout the tourney in all my matches) or come around the side, and this slows him down a lot, giving me an extra turn against the 'Stealers. With not much else to do he runs forward and passes the turn. I shift my army slightly, sending the Harpies to deal with his Genestealers and spawning some extra screens of Termagants forward and to their side; Hive Guard move into shooting positions and I open up on him. I wipe out two of his squads of Hive Guard and put some wounds on a Trygon, as I am unable to reach his third or any other relevant targets. Genestealers take some casualties from my various blasts and such, dropping six of them and we go to turn 2.

He moves forward again, but my position shifts have left him unable to get any charges this turn and his remaining Hive Guard aren't really a threat anymore. Genestealers close in to be ready for a charge next turn and get Catalyst again- perhaps this is why he's being slow with them, to make sure they get FNP? Seems a bad choice in my eyes, but hard to tell what he's thinking. With his turn again being mostly just movement (and spawning, this time) he passes back to me. I do some more shuffling on the right flank, trying to block off his Flyrant from getting to anything relevant (I have a squad of Warriors + Prime on that side, ready to handle it) and aiming some more shooting at the Genestealers. Our forward lines of Termagants are in range of each other now, but with some of the terrain in the way one person is certainly going to be wishing they had grenades; since I have superior shooting, I aim to turn things in my favor before engaging. I put some more wounds on MCs with one squad of Hive Guard, bring his last remaining squad of them to one model with one wound left, and cut down a bunch of Genestealers on the squad that can charge me this turn. I send FNP Gaunts into his other squad and we clash, with him doing little damage (poor Rend rolls) and my whittling him down somewhat. His other squad is too far back to get a charge off, as his 'Stealers are effectively blocking him from my 'Gants and my other units are too far back.

His turn brings a smattering of what shooting he has left as he tries to break my screens to let the Tyrant charge in, but without success; he is forced to go after a squad of three Termagants instead. Gis second squad of Genestealers move into position to threaten me and his main line of Termagants open with charges; I get a mediocre set of rolls and don't do much damage to him, but he is likewise unable to cause major harm back. His Genestealers kill off most of the rest of my original Termagant screen on the other flank, but I reduce him to a pitiful few members left. On my turn I set up more Termagants and Harpies to charge his Genestealers, Warriors at his Tyrant, send reinforcements into the Termagant fight. Combat generally goes my way and I take out all three targets, but lose one squad of Termagants up north.

On his turn yet more Termagants pour into the fight up north, with things quickly turning into a messy multi-combat where our respective auras overlap different units and everyone is punching everyone nonstop. His Genestealers finally get a charge, managing to his both a Harpy and Termagant squad with a multicharge thanks to mediocre consolidate rolls. He declines to feed any MCs into my Warrior squad, instead pulling them back out of my reach. We cause more bloody casualties up north and he drops a squad of Termagants and a Harpy on the flank thanks to No Retreat. I dive straight back into his weakened squad on my turn, sending a Harpy and Tervigon at them, as he is quickly running out of models in the squad and I put up FNP on the Harpy to protect it as best I can. Combat on both fronts continues to be pretty standstill, with both of us taking some wounds and not making a lot of progress.

Turn five ends up being the last turn, as we unfortunately run out of time before we can resolve my combats (TSHFT runs rounds as dice down at the end of time, but in the end it probably wouldn't have really changed things.) He kills some more Termagants on his turn, fails to kill my MCs on the flank, and fails to get a charge with a Trygon. I do likewise back, but fail to wipe out the Genestealer squad and we don't get to finish. Tally of KP takes a bit, as we have figure all the spawned squads and then subtract out the non-points due to the mission rules, etc, but in the end I come out ahead despite losing quite a lot of Termagants. Secondary was keeping troop squads alive and we both have silly numbers of troops, netting us both full points. I pick up an excellent 20pt win.

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