On Saturday 1st December, Team Claws & Fists visited Maunsfeld Games in Mansfield for the fourth Blog Wars tournament. Along with Tim King's 500-pt Summer Skirmish, Blog Wars rates as my joint-favourite wargaming event of the year. It's always fun, has a real community spirit and offers the non/semi-competitive player a real chance of actually winning something! Andy (Fudal) was trying out Tyranids for the first time in a tournament, and I was using my Squats (counting as Imperial Guard) for the first time competitively too. After only five practise games at 1,000pts and four practise games at 1,750/1,850pts with IG, it promised to be a white-knuckle ride of a learning curve, and so it proved!
GAME 1 - Squat Guard vs Eldar/Dark Eldar (Frank Marsh)
In the morning (and nursing my first, breakfast pint of Mansfield Smooth) I was drawn against Frank Marsh and his Eldar / Dark Eldar allied force. Frank is a 'proper' player - very friendly and fun to play against, and he really knows his army too. He has played Eldar for a couple of years at least, and it really shows - he knew exactly what he could expect of each of his units, and what they could all do together. In short, completely the opposite of me! Not only am I still learning how IG work together, I'm still picking up the 6th edition rules too, and on Saturday my rules-rustiness showed.
Game One was 5 objectives with Vanguard (triangular) deployment. I think we got the set-up procedure wrong (we each placed objectives and then rolled for board edge, rather than vice versa) but it was academic, really. I set up my Aegis Defence Line on the middle-left of my deployment zone and then behind it set up my gunline of Ordnance Tanks (two Medusas, two Colosusses and a Manticore) protected by a juicy meat-shield of Conscripts at the front and the two infantry squads at the rear. My two Veteran Squads started in their Chimeras further toward the right, with a plan to race across the board and attack Frank's Dark Eldar infantry nestled behind their own Aegis Line. However, it was not to be. Frank went first, and I weathered a turn of shooting from his Ravager and Aegis-mounted quad-gun with no losses so far so good! In my first turn, I laid down a reasonable storm of fire, pouring the majority of shots into what I (rightly) perceived to be Frank's biggest threat - his Jetbike Seer Council which had been joined by a Dark Eldar Baron. Despite taking out a couple of 'bikes, this veritable Deathstar unit crashed into my lines on turn two and unleashed it's full potential. It was the Warlocks with Destructor that proved to be my undoing. In two turns they managed to glance all five of my Ordnance Tanks to, well, destruction, and with them most of my infantry too. Despite concentrating most, if not all, my army's remaining fire on them, I was unable to wipe out the Seer Council and they proved to be the difference on our game. By turn four, Frank had tabled me - and all this before my second Vendetta and Marbo had even arrived from reserve! It was a very fun game in all, and was played in a great spirit (topped off by us munching the chocolate coins that Frank had brought along as objectives markers). It did however highlight to me that my army could do with a decent counterattacking close-combat unit to guard my static gunline against über-mobile threats like the Jetbike Seer Council.
GAME ONE RESULT - LOSS.
GAME 2 - Squat Guard vs Tyranids (Chris Benfield)
After lunch, it was time for game two - The Relic, to be played across short table edges against Chris Benfield and his great-looking Tyranid horde. This time, I had a definite strategy in mind - I would deploy reasonably deep, sit back and create a killzone around the Relic with my big guns that Chris wouldn't want to get anywhere near. Unfortunately for me, Chris had other ideas! Protected by the feel no pain and endurance powers, his Tervigons and Swarmlord (ably protected by two Tyrant Guard) ambled forward, swathed by an ever-increasing swarm of Termagants. Despite the fact that he had little to materially hurt me, he didn't really need to. His Swarmlord took the Relic on turn two (or three) and promptly retreated back to a very fortuitous Iron-Bark Woods in his deployment zone that had been the result of a mysterious terrain role earlier in the game. Once in there the Swarmlord and his two shield-thanes lapped up all the fire I could throw at them with the Woods' 3+ cover save. I managed to kill both Tyrant Guards and had reduced Swarmi to only two wounds, but I was running out of time...
In the end I had no choice but to try and take the Relic by force. It was a long shot, but buoyed by the fact I had killed a Tyrant Guard with a Lasgun shot (and because there was no other option!) I hovered my Vendetta, disembarked my Lord Commissar ready for a last-ditch charge the next turn. Sadly the Commissar didn't last that long! I can't remember exactly what killed him, but I recall it coming down to a single 4+ invulnerable save, which I failed. With the Relic still firmly in the Swarmlord's clutches and time run out, Chris had beaten me with a great combination of his cunning and durability of the Swarmlord / Tyrant Guard combo.
GAME TWO RESULT - LOSS.
So by 3pm I was ready to battle it out with Andrew Cox and his Necrons, both of us eager to avoid the Wooden Spoon (though the £5 'prize' for coming last was tempting...).
The final battle was simple - pitched battle set-up and kill-points. I set up first, deploying in a classic refused-flank formation with the core of my army toward the right of my table edge, with only the two Veteran Squads in their Chimeras on my extreme left flank. Andrew fell for the gambit and spread his mostly on-foot Necrons across his board edge, and with one big blob-squad of Necron Warriors directly opposite my decoy Chimeras.
However, my jubilation was short-lived. Andrew won the roll for Seize the Initiative and promptly began his inexorable march across the table toward me! My Aegis Line preserved my tanks fantastically however, and on my first turn I started to move the two Chimeras back toward the bulk of my army, thus isolating a decent chunk of Andrew's Necron Warriors for the time being. Over on the right hand side, I started shooting. I must say that of all the day's games, my ordnance barrages were most effective against the Necrons. And it was just as well, as I seemed to be killing the same half-a-dozen Necron models in each squad every turn! Reanimation Protocols are massively infuriating - there's little worse in a wargame than to see a model you have killed once get back up again!
In the end the game - and, we imagined, the fate of the wooden spoon - rested of who could score more kill points. In the end it was a well-earned draw. Andrew has killed one more unit than me, but I had grabbed First Blood - so important in 6th Edition now. So, drawn on mission points, we totalled up our VP's, submitted our scores to Tournament Organiser and hirsute moustachio'd gent Alex, and held our breath....
GAME THREE RESULT - DRAW.
What happened next? Well, you'll have to await Andy (Fudal)'s tournament report to find out!
IN THE NEXT INSTALLMENT:
- my thoughts on potential future tournament seeding
- the result of the Best Painted Army competition
-a critique of my own army list and musings of future list modifications