A seal Walks into a Club – Baby Seals First Steps by David W

19 Nov

Sealing the Deal…


This week: Deployment panic, 5 minutes on the top tables, and for the love of the Emperor-will someone open a window!


Last time I ended with me signing up for some tournaments, but still being woefully inexperienced. I had two months till the first tournament-I needed practice, and lots of it!

So, after 6 weeks of trying (and usually failing) to get in more practice games for my first tournament, I end up going to a completely different tournament with a no-special character rule that meant I had to change my list. It was a one-day, 3 game tournament at Maelstrom called Open War (Showbiz did a report on the podcast last week) I had one day to change my list, and four days to work out how to play it. Strangely, I wasn’t too worried….


So what did I expect, and what did I want to get out of it?


  • First and foremost I expected a beating. I was getting better with the rules, but I think I’d managed about 10 games at this point, and lost most of those. So, expecting to lose all 3 games, I gave myself the target of trying to pull out a cheeky draw in one game. Keeping my expectations nice and low!


  • I expected my opponents to be incredibly unforgiving of my noobness. I wasn’t really worried about “that guy” that you often hear people debate the existence of. I was more worried about people losing their patience with me asking stupid rules questions.


  • I expected to make a lot of mistakes. I gave every opponent my “sorry, I’m new…” speech, and asked each one to let me know of any stupid mistakes I’d made after I’d made them. (I don’t ever want anyone to go easy on me!) I just hoped I could learn from them.


  • I hoped I would enjoy myself. It sounds obvious, but there’s no other reason to play this game. If you’re doing it for the glory, the money or the girls you should probably be using that plastic glue in a more ventilated area….


I did manage to avoid my main concern, namely wandering around aimlessly between games with no one to talk to. Thankfully, (and probably regretfully on their part), I’d been indoctrinated into “the good, the bad, and the Dudley” tournament team a week or two before (My memories a little hazy about the night itself, but I know it involved a locked garage, 1 bald actor, 2 strange men, 3 Stormravens and a hard spanking) so I at least had some people to follow around between games!


If anyone’s bothered, my list was the same as I mentioned in my last article, but swapping out Coteaz for an Inquis with psyocullum (makes unit BS10 against psykers) & condemner boltgun. Dropping the 2 cheap acolyte squads and increasing one of the 5man strike squads to a 10man. I ran the inquis with a combat squad of purifiers with 4 psycannons in the chimera, for some BS10, 8-16 shot, strength 7 anti Grey Knight action.


I’m not going to do battle reports because that would imply I knew what was going on: most of it is still an absolute mystery to me. I played Eldar in my first game. I knew this was a tough match up for my grey knights, as I’d played them once before, but at least I knew a little of what to expect. He gives me first turn, and I panic. This was to be a recurring problem for me. I hate deploying first-it really stresses me out as I think its just one of those things that takes practice to really understand. You may not realise you made a mistake with it until the game ends, and so the impact of getting it wrong is harder to take on board.


The problem is there’s just so much to take on board to get it right. Cover saves, line of sight, fire lanes, risk of immobilising vehicles, objectives, reserves etc. Then you’ve got to factor in what you think your opponents going to do, plus any special rules-scouts, infiltrate, DOA, warp quake etc. It’s very easy to understand each of these rules work individually, but trying to think how they all work together turns my brain into rules-soup. So I deploy everything nice and symmetrically, it might leave my side armour open, and my forces spread too thin, but at least my eyes are happy.


On a side note-if anyone is struggling to think of an idea for some blogs-a series on deployment would get you at least one reader!


Anyway, the guy I played was great: he talked me through his army (but I couldn’t take any of it in with deployment coming up), he had no problem explaining any rules questions I had (and I had plenty), and he was really helpful when discussing my options. It probably helped that he was beating me comfortably; I can imagine it’s harder to help your opponent when he’s winning. Unfortunately for him though, because of the way the scoring worked it ended as a draw, but this meant I’d already achieved my tournament goal! Anything else was going to be a bonus…


If you listened to the podcast, you may have heard Rob mention that somehow after this result I was put on table 2. Although this turned out to be a clerical error that meant the whole draw had to be re-done, it did mean that I was technically on the top tables in my first tournament! (even it was only for 5 minutes)


Seal: Clubbed


Game 2: My first time against Nids. Everyone told me this was a good match up for me. My opponent told me he’d just been battered my Grey Knights, and was expecting it again. I sure proved his expectations wrong. He almost tabled me. In retrospect I know the defeat was all down to poor play on my part. Awful deployment (again), and spreading my firepower too thin just let him swamp me. Major lesson learnt here is if you want something dead; don’t stop shooting it until it’s gone. I made that age-old rookie mistake of shooting a little bit at every threat, and expecting miracles.


I also got very impatient with the incredibly precise movement of a table full of gaunts, when he’d quite obviously already won the game. I got incredibly frustrated, but that’s a recurring problem of mine-and I put on my best fake smile and I was gracious in defeat! He was another great guy though, and very helpful.


Game 3: First time against a Chaos Marine list. Dual Lash. I knew this one was a good match up for me! I won’t bore you with the details, except that my Inquis & unit finally proved his worth, basically killing all but one psyker on the board (oh & this was the only game I’ve ever played where my landraider didn’t get taken out of the game in turn 1-2) I won quite comfortably, and could see my opponent was getting a little frustrated, so I rushed a little and gave him the benefit of the doubt on a few cover saves I should have had.


So that was it, my first three “competitive games” of 40k ever! I placed 22nd out of 40 or so (or there abouts), a pretty good finish I think for my first time. So how did it live up to my expectations?


  • I didn’t get as thrashed as I though I would-so that’s a start. I was happy to have just gotten the one win in my first tournament, and it meant I had something to try and improve on next time round.


  • Every one of my opponents was a pleasure to play. They were all more than happy to answer any of my stupid questions, explain units in their armies, and talk through my mistakes.


  • I made plenty of mistakes, so I matched my expectations here! Deployment was a problem for me (and still is), but I need more practice to get over this. Not focussing my firepower lost me the second game, so this was a pretty simple lesson to learn. Eldars invulnerable saves are something I won’t be forgetting too…


  • I definitely enjoyed myself; tournaments are definitely something I’d recommend for the newer player. You’ll learn faster, you don’t have to ask to get a game, and you’ll meet some great people. Sign up to some now!



Top Tips for those thinking about heading off to your first tournament?


  1. Take painkillers and plenty to drink.
  2. Sit down as often as you can. Especially if you’ve got arthritic knees like me.
  3. Almost everyone has a tray. Don’t be embarrassed to take one too- even if it is covered in kittens. Packing & repacking your army is time-consuming, irritating, and increases the chances of things breaking.
  4. Deodorant. If you’ve never had the pleasure of being immersed in the stench of 60 odd sweaty wargamers for 10 hours you are in for a treat. Seriously, to all you tournament organisers out there? I don’t care if its –10 out there, open a damn window!


Next week: Tournament 2-how to survive a two-dayer, conversation-40k style, and the fat angry geek shows me how they do it at 40kuk


5 Responses to “A seal Walks into a Club – Baby Seals First Steps by David W”

  1. Tayne November 19, 2011 at 11:52 #

    Great to hear you had fun and i hope your second game went as well. As for deployment, i agree it’s hard work. Have you read “Franco’s FoC’d up” articles? They’re tau specific, but still good for pointers in general on the topic.

  2. Gary Morris November 19, 2011 at 12:09 #

    Really enjoying these articles. Takes me back to all those years ago at my first tourneys. I have to say though, if everybody takes one thing from this blog, please let it be the deodorant!!! Its actually part of my tourney bag now like toothpaste and underwear.

    It will be nice to see the blog evolve to go from a “noobs” point of view through to a seasoned veteran and how your outlook changes. And when you yourself end up with an opponent that you have to show the ropes. Queue Elton John and Circle Of Life…….

  3. DavidW November 19, 2011 at 22:24 #

    Thanks for the replies guys, always good to know people are actually reading my articles!

    Tayne: I did read the Foc’d up articles back before I realised I had a deployment problem-good call though, definitely going to go back & re-read (I’ve recently started collecting Tau too-so it’ll be a massive help)

    Gary: The stench was awful! There were no windows open, and a couple of fans just blowing the smell around. I still get nasal flash-backs. The “evolution of a wargamer” idea is the long term plan for the blog, its difficult to keep it interesting though!

  4. Mark Perry November 21, 2011 at 12:12 #

    I didn’t notice the smell and thought the room temp was pretty reasonable. The main room was better than the top tables though. I’ve been in a lot stuffier rooms than that – for airy locations it does go warhammer world >> maelstrom >>> pretty much everywhere else.

    • DavidW November 21, 2011 at 13:07 #

      maybe you get used to it?!

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