The Armchair General – Caledonian Uprising Tournament

24 Feb

Failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it is achieved (Lao Tzu)




Taking a beating hurts!  I only started playing 40k again after a decade off last summer.  I’m not a great player by any stretch but after playing in 4-5 tournaments last year I approached this season thinking that 2012 will by my year!  Caledonian was my first outing of the year and it was not just a big field, but also an extremely competigive one.  Over a hundred of 40k’s brightest and best had the same plan as me to win 6 games and be showered with glory…

The short version of what happened that weekend is that I was tabled in 3 of my 6 games.  Before Caledonian I had never been tabled before in competitive play so on Saturday night, 2 massive defeats in I had regrets and beers in equal measure.  I made no notes during my games, took no pictures, was hungover all day on Sunday and didn’t get back home from the tournament until 1am (damn you trainline and your sensible transfer times!).  In the end I finished somewhere in the 60s having been tabled 3 times, won 2 games convincingly and played 1 really tactical game that came down to the wire – a game I would have enjoyed far more if it hadn’t been on Sunday morning after about 3 times as many beers as I had hours of sleep.

Apologies to all of my opponents for the lack of pictures, the haziness of my recollections and for not taking note of your names.  I really appreciated all of the games and will do better at my admin (if not my 40k) next time!

So what happened?

My list was fairly standard for Deathwing.  Belial, 5 squads with cyclones, one of which had the banner and apothecary, 2 squads of bikes with attack bikes (that stopped being scoring just before the event *shakes fist*) and a land speeder

Game 1: Necrons – Stormlord + scarab farm + writing worldscape build.  I was expecting to do well here but all my bikes were all killed by lightning turn 1, I deepstruk and pushed right down my opponents throat whereupon I was charged by 6 tomb spyders and a lot of scarabs.  I won combat and fearless wounds killed all the spyders and the scarab bases down to 1 would on the last remaining base.  After I wasted my turn finishing the job my opponent started shooting me and I just couldn’t pass a 2+ save for love nor money.  The army fell apart and the c’tan shard finished off what was left of my force taking all of my toys away.

Game 2: Marines – a nice balanced build painted as blood ravens from the Dawn of War games.  This was table quarters so I moved into the middle and expanded out.  Very little of his army survived save a few tactical marines and a librarian hiding behind a drop pod in one corner of the board.  There were a couple of moments when the game could have swung away from me: a chaplin who refused to die and some bikes which luckily broke and ran were the most memorable, but in the end it was a conclusive win because my armour held out and my thunder hammers struck true.

Game 3: Dark Eldar – Venom spam.  I’m probably not doing the army justice with that description, it had a raider with wyches, two void ravens (I think) and talos but basically the thing that hosed me here was the venoms.  Having not played dark eldar before I tried to hide behind some buildings and deepstrike in reserves around my bikes.  It was a stupid idea and as my squads arrived they were killed with focused fire one by one.  The mobility and weight of shots of that army terrify me and I realised too late that I needed to turtle up early on if I wanted any points at all from the game.  My last terminator died cowering behind a wall praying for the game to end.

Game 4: Blood Angels – 2 land raiders, 2 predators, some terminators and Mephiston.  I’m not great at killing land raiders and indeed, this game one of them survived until the end of the and only missed out on drawing the game because the objectives were about half an inch too far apart for it to contest two of them by parking in between.  This game would probably have gone differently if my opponent hadn’t whiffed horribly with his assault terminator charge.  I think he had 3 claws and 2 hammers but they inflicted just 2 casualties before I got to swing back.  They did kill a deathwing squad eventually but only 1 survived and he spent the rest of the game hiding in the landraider I couldn’t kill.  My bikes and speeder learned a valuable lesson about turbo boosting when there are flamestorm cannons around and Belial’s squad nearly died of surprise when they got to charge Mephiston because he fluffed his fleet move and his massacre move when dealing with an attack bike.  This was by far my favourite game of the weekend because of how tactical it ended up being.

Game 5: Grey Knights – a balanced build with quite a few psycannons, dreadnoughts, a dreadnight, a vindicare assasin and a stormraven full of terminators and a grand master.  The mission here was get as may scoring units into the middle as possible.  My mistake was to do just that.  I was outmatched at close range but paid that no heed, marching straight towards the middle with impunity.  After the psycannons softened me up a bit the storm raven delivered a hammer blow to my lines and the dreadnight ran around mopping up the survivors.   My outflanking bikes fluffed their meltas against the dreads but did rather comically kill the vindicare who charged them just for a bit of fun at the end of the game when I was firmly beaten.  My opponent was very gracious about completely spanking me.

Game 6: Deathwing – 4 squads, 2 land raiders and a bike squad.  So we are right at the bottom of the pile here and I get a mirror match with 2+ saves and land raiders.  Great.  I deploged and my opponent reserved everything with just 1 unit deepstriking turn 1 which mishapped and died when it scattered into my speeder.  I was most of the way across the board when his units started showing up and I was able to gang up on units as they arrived.  I eventually tabled my opponent which was actually another first for me in tournament play.

Lessons learned?

Ravenwing bikes just don’t work for me.  I used them badly in every game and 1 of the squads I took was on ebay the day after the tournament!  Of course now I only have 3 bikes and 1 attack bike I have promptly gone and lost a bike at Jolly Toys.  If anyone picked up a little lost biker at Warhammer World last weekend please let me know…  I think I might miss the speed and the melta they bring but I certainly won’t miss how fragile they are or how easily they screq up a kill points game.

Playing the reserves game is risky.  It cost me my game against the dark eldar and cost my last opponent his final game.  I think I gave away first turn several times this weekend to do silly things with my deployment.  Honestly, I would have fared better just taking first turn and firing my cyclones from the word go.  Isolated units are dead units, end of story.

There are games where you are going to lose, minimising your losses in such a game is essential.  In at least one game I could have scored some VPs and even potentially won the secondary objective had I given up on the primary from the word go or avoided engaging the foe head on.  Apparently there are more tactics out there than charging towards your opponent looking to hit him with your hammers…  who knew?

Next week I aim to blog again to tell you all about my experience at the Jolly Toys outing and the week after I will do Battlefield Birmingham.  There will be pictures, there will be names and fingers crossed there might even be some wins!

Thank you to all of my opponents and to Tim, the Scottish team and Malestrum for hosting a fantastic event.


One Response to “The Armchair General – Caledonian Uprising Tournament”

  1. Embolden40k February 24, 2012 at 07:22 #

    Great read, it sounded like a tournament full of learning and drinking for you! which is always good, this was my first tournament in years! And I learnt a great deal!

    I will see you tomorrow at Battlefield Birmingham! 🙂

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