Saturday, December 20, 2008

2005 New Zealand GT - Emperor's Children

In 2003 I took my Emperor’s Children Warband to the NZGT where they did very well picking up Best Painted, Best Army and First Overall. After a break of two years they returned to see how they would fare in the brave new “4th Edition” world.

The competition was 1850 points over five rounds (three on Saturday, two on Sunday).

The first surprise was the new venue. This was light years ahead of the venue the past five events have been held at. Light, airy, carpeted (great for the cloven-handed) and right in the centre of Auckland. A real find by the GW guys.

The second surprise looking at the tables was how much higher the painting standard was compared to previous years – seriously I think any one of ten armies could have won Players’ Choice. The lift in eye-candy and conversions was staggering.

Game 1 – Doug Bisley – Imperial Guard in Cleanse Variant

Great game that was close for the first few turns before the EC got on top. Doug’s army was heavy on vehicles (three Rus and two Hellhounds, 2 Sentinels) with conscripts and stormtroopers. The IG evaporated in the last two turns with all 106 models being destroyed.

Win 20 points

Game 2 – David Foster – Raven Guard in Commandos

Again a very good opponent (I was blessed all weekend). Two characters – Chaplain and Librarian plus various foot, jetpack squads, a Dread and three separate landspeeders. We both got our commandos off for a draw and so were playing for the various bonus points on offer. Over the course of the game I was able to grind David’s army down, earning 3 VPs for 1300+ point win but missed out on getting into his deployment zone by half an inch.

Draw 13 points

Game 3 – Craig Latta – Space Wolves in Crash and Burn (a Thunderhawk Down variant)

I looked at Craig’s list and sat stunned for about 10 minutes – a Space Wolf list without Scouts. Checked the sky outside as I am sure SW sans scouts is one of the Harbingers of the Apocalypse!

Craig took the first turn and opened up with a squad of Termies (3 assault cannons) at one of my squads – 5 “6”s later plus change and that squad was back in the box. Same thing next turn.  I managed to get into contact with them following a consolidation roll after a won combat. Stopping them shooting made me feel a lot better.

The ship came down in the centre of the table and I was better positioned to claim it – my move and shoot mobility started to come to the fore. By Turn 5 I had reduced the number of potential scoring units to where it was heavily in my favour.

At this point it was hard for Craig to achieve much and he switched to VP denial. This strategy was both smart and successful as if he had pushed forward he was gifting me bonus points.

Win 17 points

At the end of Day One I was on 50 BPs out of 60. This placed me equal highest with Richard Dagger.

Game 4 – Richard Dagger with Space Marines in Seize and Defend

The mission involved holding your three objectives while denying your opponent his. I was greatly helped in the mission by the Escalation rule. While all my army was present, Richard had five units offtable. This meant I could concentrate my firepower on the units present reducing them before their support arrived.

Post-game Richard felt he was probably a little cautious with his reserves and that this hurt him. I tend to agree with this as I never really felt my objectives were under threat and therefore was at worst playing for a draw.

In the end due to some appalling rolls by his commander I was able to prolong the vital combats to reduce his squads below scoring and walk my units into where they could contest. While I secured a lot of points the outcome (draw or win) was in doubt until the last turn.

Win 20 points

Game 5 – Steve Davis with Tau in Save the Shrine

Last year this mission was a disaster – both from a balance point of view and for me personally. GW listened to feedback and undertook an extensive re-write. Essentially we both placed a shrine (6” by 6”) in our deployment quarter. The objective was to hold your own while denying the opponent his.

Steve was using a mechanised Tau army that was constructed post the release of IA3. He had 3 Hammerheads (two normal, one with Fusion Blaster), 6 squads of Fire Warriors all in Devilfish and 3 Tetras. So 11 scoring units – all moving between 12-24”.

I deployed forward but out of sight as did Steve (oh for a defiler). Given that he’d need to move into the open I gave him the first turn. He declined to move out and so over the next 3-4 turns I fed him units to give him something to shoot at as long as he stayed oh his side of the board. This worked well and over the six turns none of his vehicles left his quarter. As a result – with me holding three scoring units back in and around my shrine I was never in danger of losing it. I whittled down some of his vehicles, most notably the Fusion blast Hammerhead. However there was a cost, which amounted to around a third of my army. On his last turn Steve moved two units of fire warriors into his shrine, to cement a draw. However with last turn I had a final shake of the dice.

I moved a couple of units forward and with support of my others opened fire. One of the FW units was dropped below scoring but I failed to reduce the second below the level to stop it controlling the shrine. It had however lost over 25% so needed to test. Steve failed the first role but due to his Ethereal had a second chance to save it – the Gods were smiling on Slaanesh and he failed the re-roll. The FW deserted the shrine leaving me with the win.

Win 15 points

This left me on 85/100 points, 4 ahead of Alan Borthwick with Hagen Kerr a further 3 back.

When the awards were announced I won the Solarian Medal for Best General and had an eight point gap on Alan to claim First Overall (185 out of 210). I was extremely pleased, as this was my third NZGT in a row, an achievement of which I was extremely proud.

What made it extra special was my Sports score. I received 48 out of 50 which was the second highest score. To win games and maintain sports is not always easy but I was fortunate in that I had five excellent opponents. The Sports system was the same as that at KF (a checkbox system) and over the weekend I had no reason not to award by opponents maximum points.

Alan scored the highest in presentation (39/40) – well deserved- and I was happy to score the second highest with 38. The area I suffered was in balance (I scored the average). I do think this was in part due to the negative modifier from opponents “Was this army tougher than you thought”. When you are winning games I think it is hard not to suffer this minus.

Overall it was a great weekend. Certainly it was the best organised and run of the six NZGTs (I have been to the last five). This is a credit to the NZ GW team and their willingness to listen and take on board feedback. This coupled with the lift in the standard of armies made the event a great advertisement for the hobby.

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