I'm afraid I got absolutely no pictures at Throne of Skulls the week before last, so I can't show you the games or my opponents armies. I've tried to record brief summaries of the games more for my own records, and as an exercise in retrospection to see what I did right, wrong, and where I could have improved.
I want to start out by saying a very big thank you to all 5 of my opponents, each one was a fantastic person to play against, and I certainly enjoyed having them as opponents and I hope that they all enjoyed the games equally. They were all very good players and every game was a good stretch for me and at no point was any of the games a walkover.
In the outlines below, all the description of placement is from the point of view of my table edge, I've done my best to give my opponents army lists, but any mistakes are mine from my memory, not from my opponents. You can see my list in the post from last week.
Game 1 - Big Guns Never Tire (4 objectives), Dawn of War
Dark Eldar - Duke Slicus with Raiders (4) and Venoms (3), Lance barge and 2 Razorwing Fighters
3 objectives spread around the left hand side of the board, 1 off on its own on the right.
I setup first, castled into the left of the field, the Immortals on their own on the right.
He setup 3 Raiders opposite, one behind a wood, 2 behind bastions, and 2 venoms over to the right.
I managed to neutralise most of his army quickly with weight of fire so that he could never close with my forces except when I was willing to allow it. I tried to keep the game cagey, only extending my scarabs and lord after most things were out of vehicles. The Annihilation Barges dealt with the flyers over 2 turns, helped by the fact that they came on one after another over 2 turns allowing me to concentrate my fire.
When I extended my Lord forward, the last Witch from a Raider jumps out of the wood, blows the Command Barge up with a thrown haywire grenade, but then dies to Mindshakle in the ensuing combat. The Lord now stuck up front, charges the Duke and "dukes" it out for about 5 rounds with the Duke consistently passing his Flickerfield saves before scarabs join the fight, finally get rid of the Flickerfield before the Lord finally finishes him.
It was all done by the bottom of turn 6. At that point I controlled all 4 objectives, had all the secondary objectives and +1 thanks to my Warlord Trait which gave and extra point if I killed my opponents Warlord with mine in combat.
Great opponent, and a great game, despite it being pretty one sided. He never got upset or grumpy despite having little luck, and getting a poor matchup against my relatively shooty Necron list. We chatted throughout the weekend, and I believe he went on to win 3 or perhaps even 4 of his other games. We were laughing and joking throughout the game and I really hope he enjoyed the game as much as I did - a definite shoe in for my favourite opponent and the weekend had only just begun.
Game 2 - The Relic, Vanguard
"Grey Knights" - Coteaz, Vindicare, 2x 4 Jokaero, 5 Jokaero, 2x Dreadknights, Fortress with Krakstorm missiles and 4 Heavy Bolters
I'd heard about this list (or variants of) before, but never faced it and wasn't sure what to expect.
I deployed bottom right behind a couple of large ruins, with my Doomsday Ark on a hill in the back corner, he was tucked up in the Fortress opposite with only the Dreadknights out and about.
I gave up 1st Blood foolishly with the scarabs, getting out front and flamed quickly by the Dreadknights. The Immortals jumped forward and wiped out one group of monkeys but were then wiped out pretty quickly by heavy flamers from the second. Lord got to the Fortress and killed Coteaz before taking a Vindicare shot in the back (didn't get up). My opponent had been focussing most of his fire on my Doomsday Ark as he was pretty fearful of it (despite it not being all that effective). The Veil Cryptek from the Immortal unit got up, grabbed the Relic and almost made it to safety before being shot, then another Warrior squad picked it up and held on to it for the rest of the game. Meanwhile the rest of my army slowly dealt with the Dreadknights through weight of fire.
A narrow win thanks to taking the Relic. My job was made a little easier because my opponent didn't play the mission, never moving his troops or making any attempt to control the Relic. However, the only reason his Troops lasted as long as they did was thanks to the cover conferred by the Fortress, if they'd been out in the open, I think they would have died pretty quickly to the weight of fire I could bring to bear. Once more (and a theme for the weekend) I somewhat gave away 1st Blood and Slay the Warlord by over-extending those units in the hope to do something with them (although in my defence, it did force my opponent to deal with them rather than other parts of my army). In another theme for the weekend, although its not the most effective unit, the Doomsday Ark drew a vast quantity of fire from my opponents, survived almost all the way through all games, and a few well placed shots did some serious damage (although probably less than once a game over the whole weekend).
Game 3 - Purge the Alien, Hammer & Anvil
Orks - Warboss on bike, Nobz bikerz, Painboy on bike, 2x Battlewagons, 10 Lootaz, 12 Lootaz, 2x Boyz squads with Nobz
I obviously set up as far back as possible while retaining range, my opponent setup aggressively on the edge of his deployment zone.
I was surprised when my opponent didn't rush forward quite as quickly as I'd expected, which gave me a little more time, and I was able to whittle his forces down. The game was quite tight till close to the end when superior firepower managed to break a few of the units and get those last hull points of vehicles and the points started to add up. I believe the final score was 6-4 for a close win for myself. I yet again gave away a couple of points by using my Lord to speed bump the Nob Bikerz and Warboss, which worked to a certain degree. I even managed to kill my Lord a little quicker than intended by forgetting that while in a challenge, he cannot be struck by others in the combat - D'oh!
Chatting with my opponent later, and some of his club mates I discovered that is son ran quite an effective 4 flyer Necron list and that he was worried about my fire-power which was why he kept his distance. I will honestly say that I think if he'd been more aggressive and tried to close the gap quicker, I'd have been in trouble. As it was, his past experiences meant I could play more to my strengths and dictate the game somewhat. For another game, my Doomsday Ark was possibly unit of the match not because it killed that much, but due to the huge number of shots the Lootaz directed its way rather than the rest of my army.
Game 4 - Scouring, Hammer & Anvil
Chaos - 3x 6 Plaguebearers in Rhinos (1 with Lord), 2x 2 Oblits, 2 Helldrakes with baleflamers, Vindicator
My opponent setup on the right of the board, the three Rhinos all in terrain on top of objectives.
Yet again I setup well towards the back of the board, spread about evenly with the Doomsday Ark slightly closer to me, and the Annihilation Barges further away. As much was in cover as possible.
When we revealed objectives, my opponent had the 4, 3 and a 1, I had a 2 and 3, with the other 2 point objective about half way between the two armies.
He advanced forward with his Vindi and Oblits in the first turn, I managed to kill of one Oblit and put a wound on others.
Turns 2 and 3 one of his flyers arrived each turn, this was very fortunate as it meant I could concentrate my fire on one at a time. The first I rid of its flamer so all it could do was vector strike, the second I managed to down in a single turn. I then finished off the first the following turn.
Turn 5 and my opponent disembarked to ensure he was holding the objectives. I proceeded to concentrate as much fire as possible into the Lord and unit on the 4pt objective out front, and in turn 6 had killed off the unit and the Lord was on one wound and decided to hide. In doing this I'd sent my Immortals over to the other side of the board and they'd been wiped out apart from the Cryptek. I decided to Veil him into the backfield to get linebreaker, he scattered straight at impassable terrain. I was so lucky though as he scattered the full 12'', just enough to end up on the opposite side of the terrain where he promptly hid.
In my deployment zone, the last Oblit finally broke my Warrior squad from the 2pt objective who ran 7'' so that when they rallied, they couldn't quite get back onto the objective without running. Unfortunately, it took all of my shooting to rid my deployment zone of the last Oblit, so I couldn't get those warriors back onto the objective. I also made the mistake of trying to grab the 4pt objective with a unit of Warriors rather than Scarabs, leaving the Scarabs on the objective the Warriors departed, who moved only a few inches through terrain both in movement and running so were just shy of the objective, the Scarabs could have made the jump easily with their unhindered 12'' move.
The game ended with a 7-6 win, which could easily have been reversed if my Cryptek had misshaped, and the last Oblit hadn't died on his very last armour roll (he would have scored linebreaker for my opponent).
It was such a tense start to the day, but a fantastic game and my opponent was a really really great sport. To the last we were laughing, joking and commiserating each other in equal measure as things went one way or the other. Another definite contender for my favourite opponent vote.
Game 5 - Emperor's Will, Vanguard
Guard & BA - Company Command, Platoon Command, 2x Squads with Lascannons, 2 Vendettas, 1 Vet squad with Flamers, LRBT with Plasma sponsons, Librarian in T-armour, 6 Death Company, Furioso Dreadnought, StormRaven, Aegis with Quad-gun
My setup was almost a copy of my first game, although the Immortals weren't quite so far over due to the diagonal nature of the deployment zone.
My opponents Aegis line formed a zone in his corner with the whole guard infantry contingent (minus the vets in a 'Detta) and the LRBT behind it.
At the start, we traded shots to little effect. In turns 2, 3 and 4 my opponent got one of his flyers each turn (the same as the last game, which definitely played into my hands as I could concentrate fire heavily), and I was able to down a flyer each turn. The Vets died when their flyer crashed, and after I'd wiped out both Vendetta's, my opponent elected to bring the StormRaven on in hover mode so when it went down, his squads were able to just step out. I got lucky again as despite my Doomsday Ark killing most of the Death Company, they did fail 2 charges through terrain, the first a 5'', and the second a 4'' which gave me much more time to deal with them. After mincing a squad, I got a Barge behind the Furioso which finished it pretty quickly.
Meanwhile, my Lord had made the Guard enclosure, wiped out one of the squads in combat, then killed off his Company Command in combat for Slay the Warlord, and almost survived to contest my opponents objective but despite shrugging off all the guard shooting (even the Quad Gun), he failed his last armour save when the Platoon Command charged him in combat. I'd also been trying to get the Immortals in to contest, but scattered them off the table twice in a row (my own fault for choosing a risky deep-strike spot, forgetting they could run after landing to reach the objective).
Game ended after 6 turns, we both had objectives, both had Slay the Warlord, my opponent had 1st Blood (my Scarabs again, D'oh!) and I had linebreaker after a cheeky turbo-boost from one of my Barges. Draw. All I needed was one more turn.
It's starting to sound repetitive, but again my opponent was fantastic, a great sport and yet another candidate for my favourite opponent. He went on to win best Guard general too, and it was very well deserved as he was a really great player.
So that's the games, of my 5 opponents, 4 came away from the weekend with 3 or 4 wins so I don't feel like the format left me with easy games at all. I'm sure that if the matchups used your results to decide your next opponent like most competitive tournaments that I might not have come away with quite such a good record, and the next 2 Necron players in the rankings won all 5 of their games, but got far fewer favourite opponent votes which is what the competition used to decide tie-breakers. I have a feeling that their lack of favourite opponent votes was highly due to both of them running 4 or 5 flyers in their lists, which would have made their games a little more one sided than any of mine. I also got a few comments on the fact that it was refreshing to see Necrons without flyers, which was nice.
I personally had a great weekend, made all the better for lucking out and getting 2 awards. I'll have to be on the top of my game to ever repeat that feat, that's for sure. I'm already looking forward to Blog Wars 5 which looks set to be my next tournament outing.
Cheers - Andy