Saturday, December 20, 2008

2003 Sydney GT - Death Guard

Last year a contingent of Warlords went to Games Workshop’s Grand Tournament in Sydney. By all accounts they had an excellent time so I thought that 2003 might be the year that I would venture offshore and try my luck. The family were keen to holiday for five days in Sydney, giving me the weekend to play with my “toy dollies”.

Here are my thoughts on what I encountered:

* The venue was Sydney Town Hall in the centre of the city. It was very well serviced by transport facilities but parking must have been tough. What was excellent was the proximity to a range of good quality food/drink outlets.

* Lighting was mixed, being far better the second day when they found the spotlights. Considerations such as this are important when part of the tournament includes assessment of painting.

* The tournament organisation was excellent. Pre-tournament pack was extensive and informative. There was an opportunity to register Friday night which certainly cut the queues Saturday morning. What really surprised me was how well the GW team kept the timetable on track (espacially after the disasters in this regard at last year’s GW Fields of Blood in Auckland…1.5 hours late). This was helped in no small way by the number of staff GW committed to the event (15-20 people).

* This all contributed to a relaxed atmosphere with no aggravation evident.

* The gamers were the mixed crowd that you see at NZ tournaments but the painting standard, in particular, for Fantasy armies was slightly higher.

The Warhammer 40k tournament was full to capacity with sixty gamers. The following left an impression:

* The demise of Templar (1), Space Wolves (2) and Blood Angel (2) armies, having been replaced by the Legions of Chaos. Vanilla Space Marines were still evident as were Dark Angels (5). The Chaos Codex being new may have contributed to some of this however I do think the drift to Chaos reflects a rebalancing of relative effectiveness.

* The number of Necron and Tau armies (5-6 each). One player even managed to fit two Monoliths into his 1500 points.

* A real range in Army Composition, from the excellent (Steel Legion – 7 Chimeras, Hellhound, Direct Fire Basilisk) to the incredibly “cheesy” (Space Marine Army with 6 mini/maxed Troop squads – lascannon and plasma gun). My first round Tyranid opponent manage to fill almost all the slots on his Force Organisation, half of them with single models. Of my five opponents all except the Tyranid had very balanced and well composed armies.

* From my point of view, it was a resounding success to publish the missions in the Player’s Pack. Essentially meant that 10-15 minutes wasn’t wasted trying to work out the mission, objectives etc. Really sped the games up. Also the missions chosen had all been extensively playtested either coming from the “Black Book” or having been used at numerous tournaments.

* At last year’s Fields of Blood you only scored points for what you killed….regardless of how phyrric such an achievement was. Sydney’s Gameplay points were based on achievement of the mission. This obviously rewards tactical play and certainly I find it more enjoyable.

* Terrain was GT terrain… know what that means, Spartan. Probably explains the heavy skew towards shooty over assault armies.

So how did I go?

I played 5 games for 3 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss. One of the wins could easily have been a loss, the loss a win and the draw was one model from a win. What it meant is I spent the weekend around Tables 3-6, avoiding the sharks and giant squid. Four of my opponents were great to play against (the loss to the Iron Warriors was certainly one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played), the fifth guy was incredibly slow which really spoilt the game. He was still deploying while Al Borthwick on the next table was on Turn 3.

When it came to prizegiving, I was hopeful to pick up “Player’s Choice” for most popular army or “Best Army” for combined painting and selection scores. While I did pick up a prize for “Best Conversion” for my Death Guard Defiler, I missed out on both awards I had hoped I was competitive in.

Al Borthwick finished clearly ahead in Gameplay but strangely GW didn’t offer the “Butcher” prize. I believe Al’s overall result suffered from having to spend the weekend at (or near) the Top Table for all five rounds.

I was amazed when my name was called out as finishing 2nd Overall on 216 points (76/100 in Gameplay, 80/100 in Sportsmanship, 30/30 for Painting and 30/30 for Army Selection). My total was the same as the winner but he beat me in both gameplay and sportsmanship so no grumbles here with him being first. I was absolutely stoked with the result as it far exceeded any expectations that I had! So a worthwhile trip from both the gaming and the family viewpoint.

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