Saturday, December 20, 2008

2004 New Zealand Nationals - Emperor's Children

The New Zealand National Wargaming Convention is the largest event on the NZ wargaming calendar and is held every Easter. The venue rotates on a three year cycle – South Island, Northern North Island and Lower/Central North Island. This year it was hosted by the Upper Hutt Wargaming Club, about 20 minutes from Wellington.

Usually I don’t attend the Nationals as the thought of Easter roads and long distances or Easter airports breaks me out in a cold sweat. However, this year with the venue so close I had no excuse not to attend….or that’s what I told the wife!

One of the Warlords, Peter Denne was umpiring and I was confident he would put together a good competition. Points’ value was 1500 plus 250-point sideboard played over eight rounds. I knew Peter would put together a good mix of VP and objective-based missions so the force I took would need to be flexible. In the end I decided to take along the Emperor’s Children, mainly because I had not finished painting my Death Guard. Maelstrom had been played at the same points value a month prior, and I took the same list.

The army is based on the splintered forces of the Emperor’s Children wandering the EoT in anarchic warbands. My premise is that such forces would travel light (so no heavy vehicles) and would be fitted out with their signature noise weapons in squads of their favoured number. Attracted by their rampage are Slaaneshi daemons, again in flocks of Slaanesh’s favoured number.

Composition is basically as follows:

1. Noise Lord Challis Drant with retinue of 5 Chosen Terminators
2. 6 Man Noise Marine Squad in rhino
3. 6 Man Noise Marine Squad
4. 12 Daemonette unit
5. 6 Daemonette unit
6. 6 Man Noise Havoc Squad
7. 6 Man Noise Havoc Squad

And a sideboard of:

8. 6 Man Noise Marine Squad
9. 6 Daemonette unit

So one HQ + Elite choice, six Troop choices and two Heavy Support choices.


Hagen Kerr had ventured up from Christchurch with his Space Wolves. On the Friday morning he, Jack and myself trekked out to the venue. We were packed in tighter than battery hens. Eight tables were relocated to a bright sunny corridor, easing the constraints nicely.

Tournament scoring was as follows:

Gameplay (60%) – Win 15, Draw 10, Loss 6 with +/- Bonus Points (including +1 for achieving secondary objective)

Sports (20%) – marked out of 10 points each game

Theme/Comp (10%) – Peer marked out of 10 each game

Painting (10%) – 7 points were available from judges, up to 3 from Players’ Choice

Game 1 – Dazed and Confused – Peter Rundlett (Night Lords)

The game is a Cleanse variant with some special shooting/assault rules. Peter has a rep for taking pretty highly powered armies, however I didn’t think this was too bad – the major thing that stuck out was Obliterators that went a bit against his theme.

On the basis that it was a “quarters” game with random game length, I gave Peter the first turn and he obliged by wiping out 300 of my 1500 points (nice start). From there it was a fightback.

I made sure that I held the balance of quarters at the end of the 4th and 5th turns. However the crucial action of the match occurred during Turns 3 and 4. With me holding a quarters advantage, Peter was forced to come forward with a squad in a rhino. This squad disembarked and I was able to manoeuvre a squad to assault them. I then made the decision to shoot them before I assaulted. However, in so doing, I threw a “1” which made my troops confused. They had to then shoot the rhino and as a result assault it rather than the squad. This let Peter get them away and at the end of Turn 6 they were exactly at half strength (and so contested the quarter). The game ended a draw with me picking up two bonus points for Peter’s general and most expensive unit.

Score: 12-10 draw

Peter’s army: 7/10

Sports: 7/10 (essentially a good fun game)

Game 2 – Supply Ship – Jason Woods (Iron Hands)

Jason was up from Christchurch and was using an Iron Hands army. It had three dreadnaughts and a Venerable Dreadnaught. Also had an Iron Father with Servitors while all squads were led by a Veteran Sargent in Terminator Armour with bionics.

The mission was a variant of Thunderhawk Down utilising a Tau supply ship (template supplied). In the mission we started with our main army and the sideboard arrived as reserves.

I set up largely in the middle with Jason putting three Dreads and the Iron Father opposite. The ship came down at 46” (I had based my plan on 42”) in between our two forces.

The key battle was a “death blossom” of 24 daemonettes in front of three dreads and the Iron Father. While I couldn’t kill the Venerable Dread I got the rest and parked a lot of models on the objective.

Score: 19 – 3 win

Jason’s Army: 10/10

Sports: 9/10 (and my Best Sports Vote)

Some people had problems with Jason’s army (4 dreads). However I thought it was superbly themed and his use of Terminator sergeants in squads hampered his flexibility. I gave him my No. 2 Army vote but it should have been No. 1 after re-reading the Iron Hands IA article. Excellent army.

Game 3 – Meeting Engagement – Craig Stewart (Ultramarines)

Though a regular on the local tournament circuit, I had never played Craig before. He has a reputation as a very precise player.

Craig’s army was standard codex Ultramarines and include scouts, assault marines, bikes, landspeeder, a dreadnaught as well as rhino mounted squad. His general was a chaplain on a bike.

The game hang on the fact that I outshot Craig’s army forcing him to throw his units forward. A large battle occurred both inside and just outside my deployment zone into which we fed a succession of units. At the end I was able to break his strike units and score a pretty substantive VP win. It was a game where I felt I always had the upper hand but one bad phase could have turned it into something much closer.

Score: 16 – 5

Craig’s army: 9/10

Sports: 7/10

I was very surprised to see that Craig finished bottom in Sports. There was no evidence of what would have caused that from our game.

So the end of Day One and I have two wins and a draw…..I’m a contender

Game 4 – SNAFU – Chris Hall (World Eaters)

Well if ever a game is made for my army then this is probably it. We start with only our sideboard on the table. The rest come as reserves…. And it’s VPs.

Chris had what I regard as an excellent World Eaters army from fluff/comp viewpoint. He had 4 squads of Bezerkers in rhinos, two Dreads, a unit of eight Bloodletters and the Khornate Daemon Prince from hell (all 206 points of him).

Coming on piecemeal and needing to get across the table is a nightmare from Chris particularly when his bezerkers keep jumping out of rhinos. His one saving grace was I got no reserves Turn 2 and only one unit Turn 3.

The most notable points concerned the Bloodletters who wiped out squad “tethered goat” and then wore 51 daemonette attacks – 13 “6s” – yehaah Cowboy. No more Bloodletters!!!!!

The second was Daemon Prince flying across the table into the teeth of the EC Sonic Attack – 52 Sonic Blaster shots plus 12 Blastmaster shots failed to wound him (For those interested – statistically he is wounded 12 times, fails 4 of those but gets to re-roll them – so you only get a single wound. This is one disadvantage of all weaponry being AP4/5). I made him attack a rhino which he destroys, so I open up again. Same sonic attack – one wound this time (go the bell-curve). In the end I throw in a squad of daemonettes who do the business).

Fairly convincing win to the Emperor’s Children

Score: 17-4

Chris’ Army: 10/10 (and my Best Army Vote)

Sports: 9/10

Game 5 – Flank Attack – Shane Ronganui (Dark Angels)

We had to split our army into two equal contingents and half played the first three turns and the second part turned up in a non-deployment quarter on Turn 4 (randomised).

Shane’s army was very nicely composed and themed. He had Troop squads in rhinos, vindicator, scouts, assault marines, a dread, whirlwind from memory.

Given the nature of the scenario, I was very surprised when Shane took the first move. I had the best of the initial exchanges destroying the Demolisher on the vindicator and decimating his sniper scouts.

When Shane’s flank attack arrived he deployed them ready to attack my army next turn. He seemed genuinely surprised when mine turned up behind him (50/50 chance) and proceeded to shoot up his reinforcements. I was surprised that a player of Shane’s calibre hadn’t anticipated this and planned for it.

Unfortunately the rest of the game wasn’t very pleasant as Shane contested long and loud that he had been screwed by bad luck and that it was unfair. I didn’t rise to the bait but was very disappointed in Shane’s attitude given he had taken the first turn and was aware I could come on behind him.

In the end it was a very convincing win to the Emperor’s Children and I was glad to get away from the table.

Score: 19 – 3 win

Shane’s Army: 9/10

Sports: 5/10

Game Six – The Running and the Screaming – Jason Richards (Iron Warriors)

This is probably my favourite tournament mission and I was glad Peter included it. Essentially it is like Rescue except the counters are hostages, move around and have a statline.

Jason had a very hard Iron Warriors army. Four heavy support choices – Land Raider, Predator, Basilisk and six man Havoc Squad. He also has two Obliterators in single squads, a Lt with a Kai Gun and two Rhino Squads. With no sideboard the LR was missing.

Being the Emperor’s Children and not known for our charity I had a pretty simple plan. Kill four or the hostages and secure the fifth.

Well it almost worked  Jason blew me off the table. Not helped by the fact that I forgot about the Basilisk’s minimum IDF range and for some reason thought it was AP2.

The game came down to me holding two counters to Jason’s one (already wounded). His army opened up on the Daemonettes holding the counter killing them and then the counter. If the game ended it was 1-1. We went into a 5th Turn and he dropped an Earthshaker shell on my unit killing the hostage (so now I’m down 1-0). Ihad a single blastmaster shot at his retreating squad, causing enough casualties for them to take a test. They just passed and we threw to see if there was a 6th Turn. Again I got my blastmaster shot and this time didn’t cause enough casualties for him to test. On to the next turn and Jason get behind cover ensuring no line of sight.

So a loss to the Emperor’s Children but this was the best and most enjoyable game of my tournament.

Score: 6 –16 loss

Jason’s Army: 7/10

Sports: 8/10

Game Seven – Seize and Retain – Jeff McLean (Dark Eldar)

I had played Jeff at the NZGT and had managed a narrow win so our armies had “history”. Jeff’s force this time was Raider-based (no Ravagers) with an Archon on jetbike and a squad of Reavers. Two of the raider squads were Wyches and he had two hamocueli as well.

Mission was random game length with the objective of having a squad closest to the counter.

I got choice of turn and let Jeff go first. He rushed his raiders forward through two narrow defiles. I opened up bringing down the first raiders. I then opened up on the raiders behind. This resulted in a discussion as to whether I could shoot them through the wrecks. I was aware that this discussion had come up at least two times previously in the tournament in relation to Jeff’s army. The ruling had been that you could shoot through as wrecks become “terrain”. Jack had suffered against Jeff when he had played him as it hadn’t been played this way.

The discussion then centred on “I wouldn’t have done it, if I had known…” , to which my reply was “I wouldn’t have deployed this way and given you first turn if I’d known you couldn’t”. The Umpire restated his previous ruling and the game carried on.

Jeff’s position was compounded by a hot streak of luck on my dice in the first three turns and he soon had no raiders.

Once we got to combat the dice swung his way and going into the later turns it was very close. In the end we had a squad each equidistant when the game ended and called it a draw.

I think I certainly had the best of the dice though Jeff felt that in the later game they had evened out.

Score: 12-10 draw

Jeff’s Army: 9/10

Sports: 6/10

This was probably the tightest fought game I had and was really enjoyable from that point of view. Jeff slipped a notch on my sports rating because I felt that we shouldn’t really have been having the discussion around wrecked raiders.

Game 8 – There Can Be Only One – Jason Issacs (Tyranids)

I’ve played Jason at the previous two tournaments and felt I had the wood on his army. He uses a relatively small nid army with leaping warriors (extended carapace), raveners, spinegaunts, three units of genestealers and two hormagaunt units. This is backed up by a Winged Hive Tyrant, a Venonfex and the Red Terror.

The mission was simple – kill the enemy general or break the enemy army. The game ends on the PHASE this occurs.

Jason split his force into three and tried to advance using any cover benefits. My tactics with nids are fairly simple – I use the “Clear and Present Danger” theory. This means I concentrate firepower on what can get me next turn and everything else can wait. To do this I’ll use “tethered goats” to distract or channel an attack. This worked very well in this game, one squad pulling about a third of Jason’s army to the side edge.

In the end I lost a squad and had Jason down to 25 models (he broke on 20) and two wounds on his Tyrant. I managed to get a shot on his spinegaunts (killing six) and broke his army. Reduced the Tyrant to a single wound.

Score: 16-4 win

Jason’s Army: 8/10

Sports: 8/10

So I finished on 116 BP so I thought I would be a place getter. In the end I took the “Butcher” (highest gameplay) as Jason Richards lost his last game. When the results were announced I had finished First, about 2.5% ahead of Grendel’s KoS.

Besides the Butcher, what I was really happy with were my Sportsmanship and Theme/Comp scores. I scored 8.15/10 average for Sports and 8.20/10 for Theme/Fluff. To do this while picking up Best Gameplay was something I was really proud of.

I’d also suggest that the above shows that you don’t necessarily have to be a power gamer to get good gameplay results. The theme and composition of my Emperor’s Children is entirely consistent with GW’s fluff and the background material available. Could my army be stronger –yep but only I think at the expense of theme/fluff.

The army does not use the normal chaos tools of mutation or spiky bitz. Aspiring Champs are not tooled up (and would probably be more effective if further tooled down!).

Warband of Challis Drant Summary

So the end of the Tournament Season and how have they gone?

I’ve played five tournaments and 30 games. They won 24, drew 4 and lost 2 games. Over that time they won the Melbourne and NZ GTs, ValleyCon, Maelstrom and the NZ Nationals. They picked up Player’s Choice and Best Gameplay in Melbourne, Best army and Best Painted at the NZGT, Best Painted and Best army at ValleyCon, Best Gameplay at both Maelstrom and the NZ Nationals.

It would be an understatement to say that I’m happy with the record 

The guys here in Wellington know how badly they did when I built them (lost 6 out of first 9 games). What I did do was develop a set of tactics to make them effective and that only came from trial and error.

The list hasn’t really changed from Melbourne GT…it just I’ve got more familiar with their strengths and weaknesses.

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