Saturday, 24 March 2018

Day 1 - Games 1, 2 & 3 - Throne of Skulls Doubles Tournament Feb 2018 - Part 2

Following on from our first post HERE about our participation with our Astra Militarum army in the Warhammer World Doubles tournament in Feb 2018 and Rich's post about slow play and our experience at combating in the tournament HERE I am going to cover the games we played across 2 posts.

On day 1 we were scheduled to play 3 games and this is the story of those three games - not in massive detail but a selection of highlights and a recap of our experiences of each game. Day 2 will be covered in a future post.

We were going to the tournament to win. Have a great time yes, but win. As you may know from our previous posts Rich and I didn't have much time to play before the tournament but had done our research and preparation as much as we possibly could and were ready...

Friday Night
We had arranged to get to Warhammer World on the Friday night to play a quick friendly(?) game against Dave (@errantwolfdave) and Chris (@ChrisFrosin) to test our theories and strategies and to give me my first play of Astra Militarum in 8th edition - eek! (Our list is HERE if you are interested)

The game was super fun and was great to meet Chris and his Necrons for the first time and catch up with Dave and his Space Wolves. We lost!! What?!! How did we lose??!! To be honest I expected to struggle a bit as this was the first time that we had played our army and we made a few mistakes:
Early on against the pesky Necrons
- We deployed poorly - it was our first time and we set a screen of infantry up but too close in to our corner deployment which meant that we left a couple of tanks outside the line!!
- We put Pask on the side closest to the enemy and so he got targeted straight away.
- The main mistake - we took too long and run out of time! We played 4 turns and if you have read Rich's post (HERE) you will know we need 5 at least! If we had played that extra turn we should have won the game. Dave had no models left on the board and Chris only had a handful whereas we had most of our army left. Gah!

Overall a good game though and very tight. It was a good benchmark for what we needed to work on for the next day so we swiftly reconvened to the pub to talk tactics...

Saturday - Day 1 - Game 1
As Saturday morning dawned Rich and I made our way to Warhammer World, registered and got the Latte's into us ready for a long day. Surprisingly I felt really nervous stood in the cue to register and as we rounded the corner into Bugman's a first view of all of our potential opponents and their armies did not make me feel better! An Ork horde here, Flyers there and Magnus knocking around by the fireplace really makes you question your army list!
As we settled down at a table though i'm quite sociable and started chatting away to the tables next to us discussing how terrified we all were and showcasing our armies. I really liked the atmosphere and through the weekend we kept catching up with the guys we were talking to and swapping war stories which is always quite fun.

Anyway the time came and we walked into the gaming area to find our double number (42 - a great sign!) matched up to a table number on the big screen and went off to find out what terrain we could hide behind and meet our opponents.

Our table number was 34 and we met up with 2 really friendly guys from Aberdeen in Scotland called Justin and Paul. Yes they had driven for 10 hours the previous night just to play in the tournament!!

It was the first time that they had ever been to Warhammer World and so the main thing we all wanted to do was have a great game and a fun time. These chats at the start are great as they really set the tone for the game and it was a truly great game with some amazing sportsmanship displayed from Justin and Paul.

Paul and Justin's army was called 'Nid-Dar' and unsurprisingly they were playing Tyranids and Eldar put together into the following list:

I thought that this was a really nice way to display a list with pics of the models so there are no issues in game with what anything was.

Mission & Tactics
We were playing the Ascension mission from Chapter Approved.
Rich and I had already earmarked that this could be an awkward mission for us as we have to move out of our deployment area to get onto the objectives and worse still that you score VP's at the end of every player turn. Our army is designed to sit still, shoot and destroy and then move out later in the game once the enemy has been disabled and is weaker. In this mission the longer we sit still the more behind we get in VP's - particularly against a mobile army such as Tyranids and Eldar!

We had decided that we needed to not panic in this game. Give up the VP's in the first 2 turns and sit in our deployment bubble instead focusing on picking off important units of their army. Also we needed to get First Blood, and the 2 Slay the Warlord points if possible to mitigate some of the VP's we would lose doing this. Now if we could get first turn that would be a big boost...

Game Highlights
So Rich didn't get first turn for us - the fool! Our task just got more difficult. This also wasn't helped by us not deploying very well again - Arghh! We will get it right at some point. We never left enough room for our 2 punisher tanks to be behind our meat shield of guardsmen as we were trying to fit in as close to the corner as possible. In our haste to deploy fast we set up the infantry first rather than the tanks and misjudged the space we needed. Oh well we managed to screen them to some extent...
Blooming Eldar!

Blooming Tyranids!

Our slightly botched deployment
 Justin and Paul were very clever in this game and knew that we were stuck in our corner and so they really focused on keeping us there and not letting us move out towards the objectives by sending waves of Tyranids at our lines. These waves pressed us back and slowly removed the screens of guardsmen sheltering our tanks each turn. Each turn we just had more bullets than the bodies that were being thrown at us but we were pinned back. Also the Eldar firepower coming in from across the table was taking its toll and even snatched first blood in the first turn. After turn 2 we were getting behind on VP's and still stuck in the corner with no guardsmen left and a Trygon and group of Eldar bearing down on our Manticores in the back line!

In their turn 3 the Trygon duly charged and wrecked one of the Manticores in their turn. It was at this point that the game started to change though. In our turn 3 Pask decided that enough was enough and rolled out from the side of the building next to the remaining Manticore and made sure that the Trygon was not going to bother anyone ever again!
The rest of the army was suitably buoyed by this result and units of Eldar and Tyranids began to disappear from the battlefield giving us the chance to move out in turn 4.

Time was ticking however and turns 4 and 5 (if we got there) were going to be critical. Justin and Paul were pretty limited in their options at this point and maneuvered and shot the best they could but they didn't have much left to do. Rich and I needed to make some important decisions now to catch up and we managed to move 2 characters onto objectives in this turn to hopefully earn double VP's in the 5th turn....

This was where Justin and Paul really showed what good grace and sportsmanship mean. They were ahead on VP's at the end of turn 4 and there was only 12 mins left on the clock. They could have played their turn slowly and then denied us a turn 5 if they had wanted. They didn't and they graciously gave us the chance of trying to draw or win the game.

After some very fast playing Rich and I planned that we could draw the game definitely and could give ourselves 3 chances at winning the game if we were lucky...

Justin and Paul did the best they could and added to their VP's in their turn by holding 1 objective. Rich and I kept the characters on the other 2 objectives to double up points and draw level on VP's.

Over turn 4 and this turn we knew that it could be close and so had also planned to try to get linebreaker for an extra point at the end of the game. To do it we made sure that we had 3 models ready to go for it in case of a poor roll or some of the models were killed. So could 2 platoon commanders or a sentinel make the run roll to get into Justin ad Paul's deployment zone?

As the clock ticked to zero the game came down to 3 rolls:
Platoon Commander no. 1 - needed a 5 or higher to make it.....2 not good enough - Summary execution please!
Platoon Commander no. 2 - needed a 4 or higher to make it.....2 (again!) not good enough - Another summary execution please!
Sentinel (Our last chance) - Using the strategem Go Recon!!! - Immediate move of 2D6. They needed a 7 or more, surely they can do it......YES! Rich rolled for 10" and with a 3" to spare made it into enemy territory!!

Game Summary
Phew!! What a game that had everything. Amazing sportsmanship, a really good friendly atmosphere, well painted models and incredibly close coming to the last roll of the game. If i'm being honest win or lose I wasn't really bothered at that point it was just great fun. Justin and Paul played really well but just couldn't hold on in the end. They had only 8 models left on the board and we had destroyed approximately 1800pts of their army but it still came down to the last roll - amazing!

We were all exhausted at the end of the game and the thought of doing this another two times in the day was terrifying but it was worth it - thank you so much guys!

So our objective of winning the tournament was still on - just! We went to lunch to try to recover and wondered what the next game would bring...

After game 1 for the rest of the tournament a Swiss system kicked in where the top points scorers would all be matched together with the best players on table 1 so we could now start to judge where we stood by what table numbers we would be given in each round.

Paul and Justin would go on to finish in 43rd place out of 85 with 2 wins and 3 losses and 3 out of 5 favourite game votes - well done chaps!!

Saturday - Day 1 - Game 2
After the super close win in the first game Rich and I were surprised to see that we had been drawn to play on Table 4 in the second. This was a bit high up for our liking - nearly nose-bleed time!

We met a couple of nice chaps called ? and ? and seeing as we all arrived at the table a little early we started getting set up and deployed before the timer started which was great for our time worries.

I totally apologise that I cannot find the names of our opponents for this game, i'm sure that I wrote them down somewhere but they appear to have been lost in the warp. The army name was 'Hive fleet out of our depth' and we looked across to inspect what that meant and immediately started to worry - Tyranids and Genestealer Cult with a Leman Russ and as many Lascannons as we had! This was going to be a headache again as we thought that we would again be hit by waves of Tyranid gribblies but also have the insane Lascannon firepower that the Genestealer Cult can bring.

The Genestealer Cult with a dash of Lascannon

Gribblies and a Flying Hive Tyrant - Eek!
 Mission and Tactics
The mission was Roving Patrol from the Chapter Approved Book.
Pre-tournament we had decided that this was the most difficult mission for us as our army is designed to work as a whole, rather than being split into parts, with each unit complimenting or buffing another. For example, we need all our troops to screen our tanks, we need all of the sentinels to stop deep strikers, we need our company commanders to issue orders and mitigate our rubbish 4+ to hit.

In anticipation of playing this mission at some point though I had already divided our army into 3 equal parts which was fairly easy as most of our units were in 3's anyway - 3 sentinels, 3 manticores, 3 lascannon teams etc.

The 3 divided parts of our army
Even though the rest of the army could come on at the end of the movement phase in turn 1 on a 3+ for each unit, the units would be deployed within 6" of a table edge in their deployment zone and not be able to move after being placed. This means that our units would be out of position (and cover) and count as having moved (for our heavy weapons) not only for turn 1 but also turn 2 if they needed to move again, and turn 3 if they came in on turn 2!!

These deployment restrictions really give a static shooting army some real problems! The only bonus is that objectives would be scored at the end of the game rather than on each turn so if we could last that long we could still get some points.

Our pre-game tactics were to again be patient and not rush out of our deployment zone early but to hold ground and our own objective at all costs. We would then move into as close to a 'normal' deployment as possible, screening as much as we could against assault and deep strike. Late in the game we planned to move out to the middle objective using our deep striking scions as distractions if needed.

Game Highlights
Once again Rich managed to lose the roll off and we ended up going second - Gah!! Now we would face a ton of Lascannon fire on our first or second turn before we could reply. Worse still the genestealer cult rolled for all their lascannons to be deployed normally!!! Argh now they didn't even have to move into position, just set up for an alpha strike! And if this wasn't bad enough, after taking some big hits and losing a Manticore to these lascannons in the first turn, less than half of our army turned up on the 3+ rolls at the end of our 1st movement phase!!

Needless to say that our tactics changed to focus on survival which meant that our main focus for the first 3 turns was to deal with the assaults of a Trygon, gribblies and genestealers down both flanks. We decided to take the punishment from the long range shooting because if the Tyranids got into our lines it would be game over.

A Trygon and gribblies deepstrike down the left flank in turn 1
We only just about managed to destroy the assault threat each time it occured - usually on our last rolls and decided that as soon as the scions could come in - turn 2 of course! - we would deepstrike them into the middle of the board to remove the Lascannon heavy weapon teams as they were beginning to really hurt us. This would leave them out in the open but a large second unit of genestealers was also coming across the board so it was worth sacrificing them as food as it would hold them up for another turn and allow us to get our punishers in position...

This plan actually worked really well and the punishers moved in to remove the genestealer unit from the board while our lascannon teams managed to finally get into position to take out the Leman Russ hiding behind a building. Mean while our Manticores focused on the flying hive tyrant for 3 turns and just would not die because of some amazing saving throws! Eventually it went down and we finally started moving out towards the centre objective...

The assault threat, lascannons and flying hive tyrant have finally gone!
A heroic and fitting end
In the 5th turn after some intensive bombing from the manticores across the board only one model remained. Fittingly it was the genestealer cult warlord. The game was well and truly over but our opponents were brilliant sports and wanted to see if he could stay alive so they allowed us to go for it.
The highlight here was that our warlord Pask lined him up with his hull mounted lascannon from 40" away through a set of trees. He hit, he wounded and because of cover the traitor needed a 6 to survive. He failed!! Wait, command point re-roll for the win....and he rolled a 6!!! Still alive!!
Until the manticores got involved...
Pask lining up the enemy warlord
Game Summary
A great game with great opponents again. It was so close early on as we struggled to get our army on the board and threatened to be overwhelmed. I think that the guys made a mistake in keeping the flying hive tyrant away instead of sending it in as it would have been too much at once for us to handle.
Eventually our firepower started to turn the game. We've always said that our army gets stronger the longer the game goes and fortunately we went 6 turns comfortably here. We have a lot of wounds and in a war of attrition, which this turned out to be, the tide turned in turn 4.
It was unfair that we ended up wiping the other army out as it really was not a one-sided game and I thank the guys so much because they were fantastic when the tide started turning against them.

'Hive fleet out of our depth' would go on to finish 20th in the tournament out of 85, winning 2 games out of 5 and a massive 4 out of 5 favourite game votes - amazing stuff!

Saturday - Day 1 - Game 3
Wow - 2 games and 2 wins, this is what we had hoped but perhaps not expected! At this point we had a 30 minute break for some caffeine inhalation before we got back for our next game. We were super tired now after the stress of playing and getting our heads in the right place to play again was quite tough. We sat in Bugmans, had lattes and chatted about our last game. We also bumped into Justin and Paul and chatted about how they had got on then with 10 minutes to go we started to talk about tactics for the next game and went through the things we needed to remember in deployment and throughout each turn. Soon enough the announcement was made...

We found ourselves on Table 8 - right up in the top tables which is where we wanted to be and playing against a couple of guys from down south called James and John. While we were chatting we realised that the clock had already started...

James and John were bringing Astra Militarum and Blood Angels and called their army 'Warriors of sunlight'. Unfortunately because we were tired and stressed we must have completely forgotten to take any photos of this game bar 1 after deployment.

From memory they had:
Creed and about 4 infantry squads, a Sicarian tank and a couple of Leman Russes.
Chaplain with Jump pack, Captain with Jump Pack, Sanguinary guard squad, Death Company squad and some Primaris assault marines.

Their army seemed like it was setup to sit back and fire from the backfield with the Astra Militarum while all of the Blood Angels deep struck in to assault with some dedicated assault units.

Mission and Tactics
The mission was Dominate and destroy from the Chapter Approved book:
There were 6 objective markers on the board with 1 Victory Point awarded for holding an objective at the end of each player turn. Plus 1 Victory point per unit killed during the battle meant that again our army is not best suited to this mission as we have a lot of units and are quite immobile.

Our tactics were to set up in a corner deployment, shielding our armour from all of the deep strikes that were coming and again be patient and hold any objectives close to us (there would be 1 as it turned out!). We decided to focus on destroying units and getting first blood and slay the warlord in the first 3 turns. After that even if we were slightly behind we should be able to move out and grab some objectives in the last 2-3 turns to catch up and win.
Our standard corner deployment
Game Highlights
Typically after placing objectives there was only one that was close to our lines so we would have to move at some point, however on the plus side at last Rich managed to get us first turn!!

This was the first time in the tournament and we realised what we had been missing - what a first turn! James and John had only deployed their Astra Militarum as predicted and so we had free reign to move up to prevent the deep strikers getting too close while re-positioning our tanks to give ourselves really good lanes of fire for when they came in. Also we could really cripple their long range firepower and gain the ascendency in that respect too.

As you can see in the picture we deployed perfectly for the first time and then started shooting....We hammered and destroyed the 2 leman Russes in turn 1 and also put some wounds on the Sicarian and some infantry squads too. This was looking really good!

Tactical Genius!
In response they moved their army up to grab some objective VP's early before they ran out of models. Also everything deep struck right into our faces. Now our turn was pretty quick but James and John took quite a long time - understandably - in their first turn as they had to get things right. If you can see in the picture there are 2 lines of guardsmen but we had left a gap in front of our 2 leman russes so that they could move out and engage - this was a big mistake! They deep struck their Sanguinary Guard opposite this gap and assaulted into the screen. Unfortunately for us they had a stroke of the tactical genius about them as they could assault 3D6 and not 2D6 which we didn't know. This meant that a high enough roll on 3D6 would get them into combat with the screen of guardsmen, the Lascannons and a Leman Russ! Unfortunately as well as being tactical genius's they also got lucky and rolled 3 x 6's for the assault!!!!

Again the movement took some time as it had to be very precise, also as Nick Nanavati has talked about recently on his blog the positioning on the consolidation move was incredibly important as John managed to circle 1 guardsman so that the squad couldn't fall back in our next turn and therefore couldn't shoot the Sanguinary Guard squad.

Obviously we focused on all of the other assault units on the second turn and began removing them from the board but they managed to then multi assault into the Lascannon squads and our front Leman Russ. At the end of turn 2 we were down a few victory points and some of our units were tied up with these pesky Sanguinary Guard!! After a perfect start we were now in trouble.

More to the point James and John had taken so long that after 2 turns we now had only 12 mins left for the rest of the game. Only enough time for 1 turn if we were realistic about it.

We thought long and hard and now that we could fall ball and shoot the Sanguinary guard we dropped the scions in to take a unit and claim an objective and positioned our shooting to remove all of the assault units from the board. If we could put enough wounds out we should just about be able to do it....

I have to say that the Astra Militarum Shooting Phase is a thing of beauty! We demolished everything we shot at racking up the Victory Points and taking a slim lead that clearly wouldn't be enough after their turn. Unfortunately we shook hands after a slim loss.

Game Summary
We destroyed 1440 points of their army in 3 turns.

ONLY 3 TURNS!!!!!!!

Even 1 more turn would have been enough as we would have rolled out and hurt them even more and then a 5th turn would have been a tabling.

I am in 2 minds about this game. On one hand it was a brilliant tactical game and John's idea of getting around our screen and then rolling 3 x 6's to do it was just great to see. I really loved this even though it hurt us. I also loved our response because we were tired but still managed to somehow get our units into position and nearly get the job done even in 3 turns. On the other hand we were stupid not to watch the time. All of our preparation was about time and we started late and then never hurried them along at all in the game. I'm not sure whether this was because we were tired or expected to win - especially after the first turn - or both.

I totally don't hold the guys responsible as they were not slow playing on purpose, just thinking around the problem and we never realised the time either so no-one to blame but ourselves. It was a really good game, very different from the others we had played in the day but a shame to lose the last game of the day to time rather than our opponents.

John and James would go on to finish 8th in the tournament out of 85 so a great performance from them as they won 4 out of 5 games. Well done chaps!!

End of the day
So how did I feel about the first day? I had definitely had a great day with 3 really good games that were all completely different. Our first game was incredibly tense and close that went to last dice roll, in our second game we took a complete battering and came back to ultimately wipe out our opponents and then the third game was a tactical masterclass. Looking back I am happy with how it went - 2 wins and 1 close loss was ok. Yes I am a little sore about the time issue in the last game but the guys were great so no real problems there.

Out of the 3 games played we had killed 5240 points of a possible 6000 points of our opponents armies! We knew that our army was killy but that was ridiculous. Our main issue seemed to be mobility which was understandable but we did have some strategies to remedy that. We had also played 2 of the worst missions for our army out of the 6 available in the Chapter Approved book and had gone second twice which puts us at a disadvantage (Ironically the game we went first we lost!!). Overall we were happy with our performance - especially for a couple of guys who don't play very often.

Also we had quite a few people who recognised our army from the blog and came and said hello to us which was really nice. It's always great to meet people who are involved in the community and chat about armies, painting and the like.

Looking to the Sunday we decided to go and have a beer or two on the Saturday night to relax and reflect. We could still get near the top if we did well and so we chatted about some of the mistakes we made and reminded ourselves of the great time we had that day... – A blog about Warhammer 40k and the Horus Heresy by four Dads


  1. Nice run down and some hard luck with the triple sixes for the charge. Sounds like it made a real difference.

    1. Thanks Rory. It did make a big difference but that's the way the dice go. We should still have won anyway - if we'd paid attention to the time of course!!

  2. Great report dude, thank you for putting it all up, makes a really interesting read, looking forward to the next part !

    1. Thanks Carl, appreciate it. I find it a real learning experience going back over the games I play and realising what I could have done differently - blaming dice is for fools!!

  3. Loving the content, me and my partner are going to the double event in June, your blog has really been helpful and reading is just getting us excited for it, Only just got back into 40k at the beginning of 8th since 2009 and my partner only just got envolved with the beginning of 8th so been lots of studying and learning haha

    1. What a perfect tournament for you both then - it's so fun!! Kind of like Rich and I in a lot of ways - played lots in 5th and then not really in 6th or 7th before making a return in 8th. Good luck to you both and let us know how you get on. I've nearly finished the 2nd part it should be posted soon...

  4. Awsome can’t wait, this blog you guys have going on is top notch, I have over 100 models to paint for the end of next month so the article will keep me sane 😂😂

  5. Hi guys,

    I've only just come across this. This is Paul from Game 1.

    What a great write up of the game we had at warhammer world way back in Feb, brought back so many memories. We put this game down as our favourite one in the tournament scoring and voted for you guys as most sporting.

    It's interesting to hear the pre game thoughts from your opponent after the game, we were terrified when you guys started pulling out all those Manticores and Pask, we had no idea how we could win this matchup.

    Was definately our closest game of the tournament and i love how you recounted it with that dice roll for the 3 units int he blog. Damn Sentinel and it's super legs

    All the best in your future tournaments and hopefully catch you guys one day in the future for a re-match