I came 15th out of 53 people, going an effective 3-2. For those of you who did not follow along on Facebook, I was 3-0 Day 1 and failed miserably Day 2.
Not my best or usual showing but decent after not playing in a tournament for four+ years. Lots of information to take from the tournament though both relating to my own play and processing, 8th edition in general and the tournament itself. I’ll do a brief recap summary below but expect more in-depth posts over the coming weeks about some of these factors. I’ll make a note of where this is occurring but flag in the comments for anything else you’d like expanded on.
I will of course be doing battle reports for all of my games and included the army results at the bottom of this post.
I enjoyed all of my games in terms of the gameplay and models on the board. I played against Dark Eldar, Orks, Chaos Space Marines, Genestealer Cults / Tyranids and Space Marines / Celestine. I have not played that variety of armies at a competitive tournament since the very beginnings of 3rd edition before everyone at my local at the time started playing Dark Eldar (stupid Shadowfields). While I seriously doubt this will last as individual army books drop adding access to Chapter Tactics / Legion / Sept / Craftworld / Hive Fleet / Klanz / etc. rules along with stratagems, relics, warlord traits, etc. the groundwork for this continuing is strong. I have everything crossed that the statistics we start to see show armies are consistently within that 40-60% bracket across the board.
Overall though the rules were largely pretty smooth and there weren’t too many crazy interactions being had.
There have been some recent posts surrounding the interwebs about the “overpowered alpha strike”. This is the same whining we have seen from 5th edition which has been statistically shown not to occur. 50% of the games I went second in, I won and it should have been 75%. The game I lost came down to the most crucial of dice rolls at the end of the game and was nip and tuck throughout. Those are consistent with what has always happened in the shooting centric 40k universe and that has certainly not changed. As more statistics come in, we will run into this more deeply.
Which leads perfectly into… the game is still shooting centric. Combat is much more useful now but while you can make an all shooting force viable, you cannot make an all assault force viable. Roadblocks are too much of a thing and while a counter-assault element is quite important for a shooting army, shooting elements are essential for an assault army.
The randomness change. I am so happy to see random psychic powers, whatever the old objectives that exploded or gave you skyfire, etc. snap shooting, warlord traits, etc. gone. These were unnecessary and took away from game enjoyment when they went horribly wrong. That being said, I hate random damage. D6 damage from your big guns such as Lances, Missile Launchers, Railguns, Lascannons, etc. pisses me off because you can get 12 damage from two shots or two damage from two shots. I much, much prefer straight damage like the Predator Autocannon or Pulse Blastcannon. I know this averages out over a tournament but I don’t like the wildly swinging variability in any given shooting / combat phase.
Tournaments, Timing and Terrain
I cannot stress how important it is for TOs to have some sort of timing mechanism. Whether it’s a giant read out of how much time is left or shouting out time left, saying 30 minutes left in Round 1 and then nothing the rest of the tournament is poor form. Given it’s a new edition, it is expected there were going to be more games running long than normal and only two of my games finished properly, both of those against who I would say are the more experienced players I competed against. This made no difference in two out of the other three in terms of who won but made a very big and important difference in Game 4 (see mini report below).
Beyond that, the tournament was well run and I certainly had lots of fun.
Terrain was easily 25% or more across the table and there was decent LoS blockers consistently on most tables. I also witnessed cover saves being taken twice in my games. Players will need to adapt their terrain to 8th edition and quickly otherwise cover is really going to be a moot point. Needing bases on things like ruins and buildings and even hills to get cover saves around them will be important while maintaining proper LoS blocking. Right now, you can be shot so easily without a cover save that driving around in the open is just as good as being safely tucked away behind two hills with only 10% of your model viewable.
Hate them. We all know I hate randomness (see above) but my goodness the Maelstrom randomness really gets my goat. I am very fond of mid-game scoring options – we all saw the problems of end game scoring when vehicles were so tough and could tank shock in 5th edition and we do not need to go back to that. But lay them out. Set them specifically so that even the most flexible and balanced of lists do not get screwed by randomness and suddenly fall behind 3-0 or 4-0 and are compromising themselves to play catch-up. I would much rather see this be a set of options on given turns (i.e. pick two from these four options for Turns 1-2 and pick two of these four different options Turns 3-4, etc.) as while there is some needing to react to opponents choices and mid-gaming scoring options, they are things you can concretely plan for.
An example of this silliness is getting score the two objectives in your deployment zone the first two turns while your opponent gets score the one of the two objectives in your opponent’s deployment zone the first two turns and something else. Suddenly your natural army inclination to keep your opponent out is netting you a 4-2 scoring advantage without changing a thing.
Things like this happened which were both of positive and negative benefit to me but it’s not a mechanic I like. I’m aware ITC is very popular and having your event ITC sanctioned for the rankings, et al is a good way to attract more attendance but these are not missions which I am a fan of. I will be curious to see what other major tournament groups do re missions.
My gameplay was quite out of whack for the beginning part of the tournament and I think this showed in early games. This resulted in not reading the mission pack correctly for my Game 4 loss (see below) where I thought it was a Draw and also feeling out of sorts with reference to building game plans and how I would approach a game. Throw in the randomness of Maelstrom and this effect was compounded.
This is a really important for any tournament goers – preparation before. I had my cheat sheets for the missions but completely did not make one for my Tau which ended up in key abilities not being used often (i.e. Tau Commander Master of War ability, thinking Ghostkeel ability was within 6” not 12” for one game, flamers on the Stormsurge, etc.).
I will do a bigger post on this but the army performed well, I never felt like I did not have the tools I needed and I still feel like Tau are just a bit behind the bell curve. Not the “unplayable” or “horrendous” hyperbole of social media but just behind a step. Their firepower is undeniably good but often less efficient than other army options or reliant on markerlights which are easier to pick out than character bubbles.
Stealths were okay but would probably replace them with 10 Vespid to give them a go. CIBs are point for point better than Missile Pods but that 36” pod range is hugely important. Not having a counter-assault unit I think is where Tau can really find themselves falling behind – no Kroot Hounds do not count as a counter-assault unit. Pushing forward with more durable options (Devilfish / Stealth Suits) which can get out of combat is a very favorable tactic to disrupting the opponent (I locked down 2-3 units regularly in my last game with this tactic to keep an attrition game going strongly). I feel the Stormsurge should be T8 but there is no denying he is effective despite me forgetting he has 2 flamers the entire tournament (he still did six wounds to a single Daemon Prince in overwatch once).
If in their codex next year, Tau get some sort of JSJ back and their costs are reflective of this, it will be a bit of a different story I feel (at least for Crisis Suits) but we have several months to wait and see for that.
Round 1 vs Dark Eldar – Dark Eldar player spread out too much and took my Stealth Suit bait so I was able to dictate the game. Game had to end early and won on primary, drew on Maelstrom but this was the likely outcome moving towards the end of the game anyway. I went second and won Internet. Stop crying.
Round 2 vs Orks – I used my Stealths to grab the Relic first turn and got lucky with a Seize to set the tone. Unfortunately, my shooting rolls were not amazing taking about 30% more firepower to drop the Battlewagon and Gorkanaut in Turns 2 and 3 which stymied my ability to deal with multiple threats making this a closer game than necessary. Game did not finish on time but Orks had no chance to get to the Relic and I had stopped all of the major threats sans two Deff Dreads while still having all my major firepower available (lost some Kroot, Pathfinders and Stealths).
Round 3 vs Chaos Space Marines – lost both Hammerheads turn 1 but then my opponent’s shooting could not do much to me as I got off a very strong Turn 2 to drop both Preds and Daemon Princes. Julian conceded around Turn 4 when there was very little remaining.
Round 4 vs GSC / Tyranids – Genestealers are scary, 60 more so but they do not do a lot of damage to vehicles / large models when they are wounding on 6s only. I took the brunt of the Genestealers damage, cleared them out and had Turns 4+ to move onto opponent’s objectives / destroy the units babysitting them but we did not get those game turns. This was slightly frustrating as while my opponent did not deliberately slow play, there was very little speed behind his movements and while I tried to assist with this, was not taken well (i.e. helping move models which fair enough!). Was a great guy and a fun game and there were no guarantees I would have successfully contested or destroyed enough to change the outcome of the game but frustrating nonetheless.
Round 5 vs Space Marines / Celestine – My favorite game by far. This game came down to multiple single moments and uses of Command Points and failed dice rolls, etc. Back and forth throughout the entire game and while my opponent lamented his dice in damaging my Stormsurge, he actually did more damage than average. The offensive utility of aggressive fly units (Stealths / Devilfish) were on display for this game and Celestine was definitely the deciding factor after getting back up.
I had a great time and it was fantastic being back in the swing of tournament play for 40k and cannot see why this will not continue for me, so continue to see loving content. I am more interested in my Marine armies / Tyranids though currently, particularly since I have not played bugs for a while. I have several large MCs waiting to be assembled / painted so expect some battle reports from these style armies soon.