Monday, 20 July 2020

Maelstrom the Thirteenth

Maelstrom XIII was hosted at Cashmere Avenue School hall in Wellington over the weekend.  Yet another successful tournament run by Hagen Kerr.  I've had such a crappy time of it lately that I wasn't going to go.  I even emailed Hagen prior to the (initial) date of the tournament and told him I was pulling out.  Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) the event was postponed due to lockdown and I was able to wallow in self pity for a bit longer.  Hagen had other ideas and was able to gently persuade me to attend by ignoring my half-arsed excuses.  Every time I look at him now his face seems to say, 'Come on, you know you can do better'.

Forgeworld Monkeychuka.  Can you tell which ones aren't finished?

This was a 5 round tournament of 40k.  1500pts and a last hurrah! for 8th edition.  I haven't purchased 9th edition yet.  I took one look at a Facebook post where someone had produced a flow chart to explain the terrain rules and decided I was in no hurry.   I get more than enough complexity at work and the following battle reports will demonstrate that I am still effectively learning how to play 8th.

++Game 1++ Shane Rongonui - Craftworld Ewhtlu++

It has become something of a tradition for me to recieve a drubbing from Elves in the first game of a 40k tournament.  In fact, in 4 out of the last 7 I attended, my first round opponents were fielding Eldar of some description.  I'm  beginning to think that this is a horrible, one sided joke that Hagen Kerr plays to torment me.

Shane performed the usual Elvish tricks and hid or reserved everything except one Wave Serpent which just floated there saying, 'Go on, shoot me. I don't care. You killed a transport.  Bully for you.'

He failed to destroy Chickenhawk (my renegade Imperial Knight) on the first turn and looked perturbed.  Statistically it should have been dead. The vague hope of victory surfaced in my mind.  It was a vain hope but the fires of competition were briefly kindled.  Shane kept on hitting me with those one-two body jabs of Doom/Jinx and the marauding pack of Eldar jetbikes encircled the titanic beast and closed in for the kill. I found that throughout the tournament I always had an 'oh, shit' moment whenever the Knight went down.  I never lost nearly a third of my army in one shooting phase before and it always stings.

It was actually a pretty close game on paper but we only played 2 turns. Slightly embarrassing but it was one of those games where you just fall into an easy banter. Spending as much time discussing how you painted this, or converted that, as actually playing.  He used some sort of gel to tint the exterior of the vehicle canopies and painted the inside white to make them pop which I thought was very effective even though I'm generally in favour of idiots who paint the inside of their Stormravens.  His army had some ridiculous rerolling invlunerable saves and I pretended to understand when he explained how it worked.  The Nightspinners deleted a few of my Skitarii units.  The Falcon and the Vypers turned up and would have cleaned my clock eventually but we ran out of time.  Shane didn't seem to give two hoots about the size of his win.  Or even his win, for that matter.  Sometimes it's good to just throw dice.

++Game 2++ Cody Parlato - Necrons

Cody was the first of the Kapiti Gang encountered at the tournament, and was just warming me up for the main event.  He had a tough Necron list which countered my heavy hitting guns with Wraiths phasing in and out of reality and Doomsday Arks completely absorbing the worst hits.  I tried to delete the Wraiths because I knew they would reanimate if I even left one alive. Allowing them to run riot through my Skitarii lines would have been like throwing fruit in a blender.  After two turns of pounding them to no avail, my own forces were whittled down to the point where I just didn't have the firepower any more.

Szeras is still picking people's brains.

I had been less than thorough in my preparations for Maelstrom and constantly quizzed my opponent about how AdMech worked. Cody had played them once at a tournament two years ago. He gave me a look as if to say, 'You're kidding, right?!' but was kind enough to call over Simon Smith (resident AdMech expert and alround guru) who explained a few of the rules properly.  Like how 'Bionics' is a 6 up invulnerable save and not a "feel-no-pain thing" as I put it.

I found that I really enjoyed using Daedalosus as a combination Molotov Cocktail/First Aid Kit.

If I'd managed to kill the Wraiths it might have been a different story but the large(ish) squads of Immortals were able to absorb a huge amount of punishment too.  Cody was good at making me constantly change my target priority.  So, another loss.  But I'm like an old, abused donkey at tournaments now.  I just take the punishment and stubbornly refuse to admit my incompetence.

++Game 3++ John Murrie - Cadian 317th

The usual effects of sleep deprivation were kicking in at this point.  I wasn't quite having psychotic episodes but I was definitely on the way.  So much so, that I completely forgot who John was.

I attempted to exchange formal introductions and got a slightly puzzled look from my opponent who confided in me, "I'm the only John here".  It wasn't until he mentioned that he was going to repaint his Harlequins that it twigged.  I've met him on multiple occasions and belong to several of the same Facebook groups.  He is also a member of the Kapiti Gang (I think.  Oh God.  Did I get that wrong too?).  I've even posted a picture of his Harlequins here.  After committing such a monstrous faux-pas, it is only fair that I went on to get meticulously tabled over 5 rounds.

I couldn't get through his screens of guardsmen who hurled themselves into the meat grinder one after the other until there were only 3 left.  But those 3 Cadians held the line!  In the next turn Pask basically made the sky fall in.  Knight down. Ouch.  The Armigers quickly followed suit.  After dealing with all my Questor Mechanicus units, John had me pinned behind an old warehouse.  Dear God! It was like being in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!  Even hiding from him on the superior objective didn't help because those damn Manticores kept raining down death from above.

By the time they'd run out of missiles, the cavalry had arrived to mop up.  His chain of command was solid and he whipped out more orders to his men than a Chinese takeaway on the opening night of Celebrity Come Dancing.  This was my first tabling of the event which normally happens in round 1 or 2, so I was feeling buoyant.

++Game 4++ Rory Taylor - The Endless Chittering

My one and only practice game for Maelstrom was against Rory's servants of the Great Devourer.  He had given me several useful tips at the end of that bout, most of which I duly ignored. Or forgot.  Now we were facing off, for real in a tournament for the first time.  In retrospect we agreed that the whole thing came down to who won first turn (how banal).  I wanted to rush him with my knights but had no line of sight for my Ad Mech units to work effectively in the back field.  So I just plonked everything on the starting line and hoped for the best.

Rory immediately realised that my strategy was no strategy at all and mirrored my deployment, comfortable in the knowledge that he had +1 to his roll for first turn.  It should be noted that Tyranids are much better at this sort of thing than Adeptus Mechanicus.  He had also compiled a dossier of all his units in a handy ring binder with a cover page of his own design entitled, 'The Tome of Endless Chittering'.  This is my kind of crazy.

He predictably won the roll, teed up for a mass charge and promptly 'mind controlled' my Imperial Knight, who unleashed its considerable payload into my Stratoraptor.  I was dreading the charge phase but he hadn't even opened fire with his own forces yet and 'Virago', his beastly (but excellent) conversion of a Shadowsword vapourised Chickenhawk in one volley.

I'm pretty sure he killed one of the Armigers in the initial barrage too but my attention was waning at this point because A) I was losing badly and B) I had just purchased a second hand Creature Caster 'Queen of Ecstasy' model from him and was itching to have a look at it.  I surveyed the battlefield and decided to use the 'Noble Sacrifice' stratagem to make my knight explode.  I probably did more damage to my own forces than my opponents but it was enormous fun.

The Tyranid forces casually dismantled the remainder of my army in the next turn but I already had the Creature Caster box open and was rummaging through the contents.  Rory noted with acerbic wit that maybe I threw the the game by deliberately blowing up my knight.  I was too busy admiring the buttocks of my latest purchase to pay much attention to this remark. Hey, sex sells.  You can't deny that.

Anyhoo, the game only lasted an hour so we repaired to a local cafe and had a long, leisurely lunch.

Could you pass the salt, please?

++Game 5++ Simon Avery - Deathwatch

The last game is usually a bit of fun because at this point you know your limitations and the Swiss pairing system means that you are facing a like-minded adversary.  Also, you are too tired to give much of a shit.  Unless you're duking it out at the top tables of course, but those people operate in a different sphere of consciousness to the rest of us.  As luck would have it, my last opponent was incredibly helpful and informative and basically told me how to win.  I even tried to ignore his advice at one point and said, 'You shouldn't be telling me this!'  He replied with, 'No, lets see what your army can really do'.  Simon must be at least half my age so it was a fairly humbling experience.  God help us all if he ever becomes cynical. He had named every one of his men individually and painted their moniker on the base rims.  No two Space Marines were seconded from the same chapter.  There was a Howling Griffon and a Sons of Guilliman, Crimson Fist, Dark Angel, Mentor, Fleshtearer, Raven Guard, an Edward, a Jacob, you name it, he probably had it.

His first turn drop pod arrived and deleted all my screening units.  The licorice allsorts marines were all set up to slam dunk my warlord in the next turn.  'Well thats it' I thought, 'Game Over, man'.  However, he did not manage to kill my knight and reminded me that I had a plethora of ways to heal it back up and make it go insane.  He also pointed out that whilst I had cleverly penetrated his back line with my Stratoraptor, I should now target his Super-Buff-Bot Watchmaster which was technically the closest unit (and also his Warlord) rather than the expendable unit of marines nearby that had been my first choice.  The Stratoraptor whiffed most of its shots but did enough damage for my sniper team to finish him off.  First Strike and Warlord!

He approved of my decision to send the Warglaives into his Intercessors and backed up by stratagems the assault was horrifically effective.  I then split the pack up and recalled Sawberus to protect my dangerously exposed Warlord (who was busy running away).  Simon revealed that although his squad of drop podding veterans were devastating in overwatch, they couldn't see Sawberus through the first floor of the building.  I stared at him blankly for a few seconds so he added, 'Your Warglaive is within charge range of them'.  The penny dropped and I charged Sawberus into the veterans. I was not disappointed.

Severely damaged but enraged to insensate levels, my Renegade Imperial Knight was wreaking havoc in the centre.  The choice of custom Knightly Household means that my war engines become more deadly when they are crippled.  The veterans trying to stem his advance decided to fall back and counter assault the Tech Priest Manipulus who was holding one of the primary objectives and providing long range fire support.  The Deathwatch took a desperate gamble and a Veteran Dreadnought was woken from its slumber to dispatch the rampaging knight. It lumbered across the battlefield, charging twin lascannons with mounting fury.

But Tzeentch was smiling and Chickenhawk was rolling hot. He used his Thunderstrike Gauntlet for the first time ever and eviscerated the walking sarcophagus.  The only reason Chickenhawk even has a Thunderstrike Gauntlet was because I thought it looked cool on the model.  But, for a wonder, I remembered the special ability. I attempted to pick up the metal remains and hurl them into a nearby Deathwatch unit. You know, just to add insult to injury.  I failed the roll, but damn that would have been cool.  Simon seemed to be enjoying the spectacle as much as I was.

The breakaway veterans killed most of my Skitarii, but the Manipulus held on to the objective.  Then Chickenhawk caught up with them and it was pretty much game over. The Stratoraptor soared majestically over the carnage, administering the occasional coup-de-grace.  Even the Onager performed well for an anti-air vehicle.  I tried not to take any pictures of it because it was just barely painted to the 3 colour standard.  I can't believe I won best presentation.  And Best Sports too!  Me!!  Miserable bastard me! )

Ok time for the rogues gallery:

Shields Up!  (Ryan Pike)

There's something about Jake Easton's version of Chaos that speaks to me.  The fact that he is a schoolteacher probably explains it all.

Another Dark Mech army? (Simon Smith)

Whoaa!! Easy there tiger! (Jake Easton)

Glen Burfield's ghostly Eldar

Jordan looks as cheerful as ever

Ryan Stuart vs. Sam Whitt

Sam's daemons being distracted by Ryan's Carnifex

Harry Bright won Vexilla

Harry Bright's White Scars

Sean Sullivan won best general with Deathwatch

Courtney Thomson's Thousand Sons

Aidin Ralfe's converted Heldrake

Chris Parkin's Raven Guard

My boys

Saturday, 11 July 2020


Oh frabjous day!  I said back in December that it would take me another 6 months to build the next Armiger and I was more or less right.  Except it's not painted and I have 6 days to finish it along with an Onager Dunecrawler and a Stratoraptor.  Oh yes, they will be phoned in.  It's either that or face the unthinkable prospect of taking bare, grey plastic to a tournament.  That would be like going to school in your pyjamas.  The stuff of nightmares!  I don't want to do that so my plan is to half finish this one and get the basecoats on the others.  It's a good plan and it will probably fail so I don't expect I'll get much chance to post in the next week.  Or much sleep for that matter.

But I just couldn't stop working on this one.  I probably got a bit obsessive about it.  I spent ages running brass rods through the left leg to make it hold the entire weight of the model on one toe.  Once I realised that it was going to work and I hadn't made a complete hash of it, I tinkered with it compulsively, like an ulcer in your mouth that you can't stop touching with your tongue. Feverishly sifting through  the bitz box and watching it rotate endlessly on the turntable.  To hell with tournament deadlines, I was having fun!  (Dear God, what have I been reduced to?)

The head was a problem originally and frustrated me at every turn.  I tried everything from the Brundle-Fly Lord Discordant head to a giant drill bit from the Tectonic Fragdrill set and yet nothing seemed right.  Having spent so much time on the legs I really didn't want to cock it up.  I had a spare Helldrake head and it's a lovely bit of kit but it just didn't work.  For some reason, my subconscious mind kept telling me to glue it on upside down. 

But that was just stupid.  Right up there with the vomiting Sigmarine and the Eversor Assassin on the toilet.  People would laugh and point and all the good work would be wasted.  I put the model down and turned to other projects but the thought would not go away.  Fast forward 6 months and now the Maelstrom XIII (unlucky for some!)  deadline loomed.  I had a week to finish three large models or just not bother and unleash them naked at a local primary school.  I would get arrested.  Time to stop procrastinating.

'Ok, okay!' I informed my idiot hindbrain. 'I'll glue it on upside down!  I just need to fill in the eyes with some green stuff to hide that fact.' 
'No...' said the aberrant corner of my mind. 'Leave the eyes.  In fact, paint them with a glow effect to accentuate them.  This model serves the ruinous powers.  It's meant to be fucked up'.