A Seal walks into a club- Baby Seals First Steps by David Walcot

13 Jan


This week: Tournament 2-day 2. hotel towel etiquette, forced smiles, and back to the drawing board…

So…I owe bigger apologies for the even bigger gap between articles this time. A cancelled trip to a tournament (bad back), a skiing trip (interrupted by another bad back), and Xmas away from my works computer, where I do all my 40k stuff (bad employee), meant that 40k was on hold for the holidays. But don’t worry, I’m back now, ready to conclude my Onslaught tale…


…But before that a quick warning to all you guys sharing a hotel room at a tourney for the first time …


There are the expected problems when it comes to co-habiting with your fellow geek, the bathroom quickly becomes a health hazard, the tv MUST be turned on to something manly (MotD then boxing in this case), and the combined snoring should cause the walls to shake (bad luck to the last person to fall asleep! (‘Ha! Showbiz’)) But what I didn’t expect was the freshly showered third member of our ménage to boldly stroll out of the shower, dripping wet, with a fresh towel barely covering his “modesty”, and proceed to get nice and comfy at the bottom of the bed I was laying on. This is surely not aloud in the book of ‘man rules’. Sitting in the same hotel bed as another man when there is a perfectly good floor available is surely pushing the boundaries of acceptability. But to do this whilst only wearing only a towel?! That’s definitely taking a big steaming dump on the boundary of acceptable behaviour, and then smearing it all over the walls of manly etiquette!


Put some clothes on before you get into bed with me next time Harry! (disclaimer: although I was made to feel mildly uncomfortable by the lack of clothing, H was a true gentlemen in all other respects. He made no attempt to cuddle)


Anyway, less homoerotic imagery, more getting spanked at 40k (ok then, a tiny-bit more homoerotic imagery)


My Fate is Sealed…


So going in to day 2 with a 1-1-1 record in this tournament, I was feeling pretty good about the days gaming. If I could play well and maybe get another win I would be happy with my overall performance. I was getting to know my army pretty well, I had a pretty good handle on its weaknesses, and was getting more confident with the other armies. Obviously this confident attitude wasn’t going to last…


So game 4 was Daniel Sacketts Grey Knight Stormravens. I’d played a variation of his list in a strangers garage (lesson learnt here: Gareth Donnelly is happy to tell many a dirty story over a game of 40k) a month or so before. I got thrashed badly then, and I got thrashed just as badly again here. I reserved everything. I’m not sure why, probably a combination of fear and an attempt to avoid my usual deployment panic attack. But it didn’t do any good. I just got taken apart piecemeal, and virtually tabled..Lesson learnt? Everything I did in that game-don’t do it again. However, Daniel was gracious in victory, and was very helpful during after the game- chatting to me about my mistakes and what I could have done differently. It was a pleasure to play him. But the beatings I’d now taken in the last 2 games had dented my confidence; I needed my last game to go well to keep my spirits up!


So my last game was against a horde Ork player whose name escapes me. I hated almost every second of this game. This had absolutely nothing to do with my opponent; he was friendly, helpful, and very understanding of my worsening mood throughout. Even going as far as to deliberately not table me on his last turn to save me a few points. I couldn’t have hoped for a better guy to play. No, I hated the game because my decisions were so spectacularly bad it stopped being funny. He had a load of boys, some Lootas & a squad of Komandos (he had some other stuff too-but he didn’t even need it) I had purifiers, a landraider, DCA’s and a load of stormbolter shots. It really should have been easy! Overconfidence, impatience and being completely outplayed by a much better player lost me the game. My landraider immobilised itself on my first turn, right behind a building- leaving it completely useless. Then basically everything fell apart. I couldn’t kill anything; my target priority went to pot, my assaults whiffed, and everything I had started to die. It was an absolute mess. Then my impatience kicked in.  An Ork horde on foot takes along time to move. It takes even longer when you know what your doing with cover. So when half my army was already dead, and I still had to watch as he moved his virtually untouched horde across the table. One. Model. At. A. Time. It took every last ounce of my strength to summon up what was probably a completely transparent, hideous, fake smile for the rest of the game.


So I lost. Leaving me somewhere at the bottom of the leaderboard and the lowest placed Grey Knight player. I headed home feeling pretty rubbish about the whole thing to be honest. I had no complaints about the tournament itself, my opponents were all amazing and I’d played to the best of my abilities-so what was the problem? Why had that last game been so un-enjoyable?  It wasn’t until a week later that I realised what the problem was.


My list was better than me.


-Insert amusing yet somehow appropriate seal idiom here!-


It was list that was winding me up. It was written for me by a player much better than me (at 40k- not as an actor 😉 ),  I was just not a good enough player to use it well. I needed something simpler, something I understood, with units I knew how to use. My other decision was that I needed it to hold some kind of balance between competitive & fun. This was a major epiphany! I had to come to terms with the fact that, chances are, I’ve got a lot more losses coming my way before I get the hang of this game. But if I can stick with a list I enjoy playing-I might eventually start getting better. So I needed to fluff out my list-but where to start?


Drop the landraider and add a third Psyfleman Dread.


Swap 3xStrike squads in Razorbacks for 3xPurifiers in Rhinos


That’s right; to make my army less competitive I’ve added more dreads & purifiers. But they were the units in my old list that were the most consistent, and I had to get a strong core that I knew how to use. I needed troops though. Quick solution.


Add Crowe.

Yes he’s a bit rubbish, but I decided I didn’t want to take Coteaz anymore, I’m sick of the sight of him!

So my list now looks like this:

Mordrak, 4 ghost knights


3×5 man Purifiers (double psycannon, halberds & MC hammer) Rhinos (dozerblades)

10xInterceptors (MC hammer, double incinerator, psybolt ammo)

3xPsyflemen dreads

I wanted to take scoring Interceptors as my non-scoring ones had been really useful so I had to take a grandmaster. I went for Mordrak with ghost knights as the 1st turn deep strike lets me dictate my opponent’s early game a little. Its not a great list, but it’s MY list. I know how I want it to work, and it’s a little more fun to play than the old one!

For all you new guys out there this is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far, if you write the list yourself you’ll have much more fun playing it, and you’ll learn more from losing with it. Everything was so overwhelming with the old list because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing and I didn’t know how to get units to work together. I was so worried about people having a ‘bad’ list that I forgot to factor in that a super-optimised list is still crap if you don’t know what your doing. I still shit myself at deployment though.


So the list was written, and I had no time to try it out before I had to submit it for my next tournament. Caledonian!


Next time: Crockery battlefields, the new- new guy & Caledonian-how low can I go?








3 Responses to “A Seal walks into a club- Baby Seals First Steps by David Walcot”

  1. Tom January 13, 2012 at 20:26 #

    Dave this article was definitely worth the wait – just for that second last paragraph if nothing else – quite possibly the best bit of advice ever given to new players on the Internet – ever!!

    I might be going a bit over the top but in all honesty I don’t think so. People might say list x-y and z is super strong but I’ve seen people with so called sub optimal lists that they’ve come up with themselves, they know how it works, they’ve practiced with it and understand what they have to do against all the different armies out there and they’ve kicked “net lists” out of the door, or even through the window.

    The only analogy I can think of is giving an AK47 to a Zulu tribesman – he might end up loading it properly, finding the safety, aiming and pulling the trigger, but by the time he’s done all that his enemy with the Assegai has probably finished disembowelling him

    • DavidW January 13, 2012 at 22:45 #

      Or, to continue your analogy, he could stare blankly at it, then shoot himself in the foot!

  2. Andy Ovel January 16, 2012 at 13:15 #

    Good article, and I agree with you own making your own lists.

    You can learn from others play styles, but a unit you really like another player may trash all because you’re play styles are different.

    Not too long ago people were trash talking Tau, and then suddenly they were hailed as the answer to Grey Knights!

    Always go with what works for you 🙂

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