Welcome back to Blunderdome 2 for the last time! This is the final round and will determine the ultimate champion of this hellscape of our own design. I’m taking over for Norman this time around. I’ve mugged him and taken his lunch money, and now I get to blame everything about this horrible format on him while describing to you, dear reader, how it all went down. Every game last week was one-sided. Will we see the same thing happen this week? Probably, but a man can dream.
The Set Up
Our mission for round 3 was The Four Pillars, a 4-objective mission one centered in each table quarter. The mission secondary tasks you with doing an action with one or more units. The action completes in your next command phase, and the more units that do the action the more points you get. This was a bad secondary. These games promise to be way MORE passive. Gone are the days of fighting. Drukhari can achieve nirvana as they sit in their deployment and do nothing. This mission is the worst one the commissioner could find and I hate him for it eternally.
Game 1: Tyranids (Norman) vs Drukhari (Dan)
Playing for 3rd and 4th place is the Tyranids, piloted by our once and future commissioner Norman, and Drukhari, piloted by notable BADMAN Dan. Dan wishes to say his piece here:
Swiftblade: Friends, readers, fellow dweebs, I have to get something off my chest. My head was not in this game. I had been shattered too badly by Andrew’s Ad Mech, my little Warham spirit was broken and my body lay bleeding our on the sands of the Blunderdome. I offer Norman bribes to make a up a result for our game. He laughs, says it would be fun, but does not stop getting the game set up. Agony awaits me.
I pick secondaries based on what I thought would be good, but as it turns out the mission secondary was turbo-ass because I only half read the damn thing. Basically, the action only scores on my command phase, and I had misread that as end of turn in my half-awake brain. If I don’t go first, I’m screwed, and I don’t go first.
I will say, Norman and I both have the absolute worst first turn of rolls I have ever seen. His two harpies give me the razzle dazzle and fail to kill even a single raider. I also try and give him the whats-for with dark lances and liquifiers, and cant kill a single Harpy. Even our dice had gotten sick of Blunderdome.
I did finally kinda get in the groove of the game after turn three, when I think I may have a shot of winning this thing as I take down two out of Norman’s three TTL targets (including Godfucker, sent him straight to hell). But my first two turns were too terrible and I ended up losing the game. I fail to get my Drukhari to the podium, but at least Blunderdome is done and I can return to a better world where Games Workshop made attempts to balance any of this wild west bullshit.
Norman also had something to say.
Norman: I took While We Stand, We Fight, Bring it Down, and Domination. My goal, since it was a 4 objective map, was to strangle primary using obsec tough monsters and the speed I had access to. The plan mostly worked, and I did a good job of keeping Dan in his deployment zone by sacrificing Harpies over time. I realized turn 3 that one of those Harpies was a While We Stand, We Fight model which was a big blow. In addition, I did a bit of a misplay resulting in one of my Hive Tyrants dying. It was at that point that I thought I had lost the game, but I had gotten far enough ahead on primary that I managed to snag the win. Blunderdome sucks ass and I hate this meta.
Result: Tyranids Win, 78-66
Game 2: T’au (The Ngumeister (Andrew)) vs Votann (Rocco)
My final game and boy howdy was I not looking forward to it. Game one saw me frustrated that I couldn’t interact with my opponent’s points scoring, and game two saw me absolutely annihilate my opponent and was zero fun for either of us. I know nothing about how T’au should work. I know they have scary guns. I don’t like scary guns. MY army is supposed to have the scary guns. Let’s get into it.
Andrew took While We Stand, We Fight, Engage on All Fronts, and Bring it Down. I took While We Stand, We Fight, Bring it Down, and Linebreaker. More on Linebreaker later. I took the first turn and deployed so amazingly tactically that I was sure to annihilate anything scary on turn one. Then he simply took the Sun Sharks off the board, needless to say I was pretty unhappy with this turn of events. Everything else was expertly hidden behind ruins that I couldn’t shoot through, and once again I failed to turbo boost my Hekaton Land Fortresses across the battlefield to get a good line of sight on his backline. Halfway through the game I realized that I should have just taken Engage, but it was much to late for that. I’m pretty bad at this. Turns out I didn’t need to do this. I ended up pinning him in the backline while he tried to deepstrike the Sun Sharks behind my lines. They were swiftly annihilated through the magic of magna-rail cannons. I Successfully turned the tides in round 3 where I was able to control 1, 2, and more objectives for maximum primary. In the end I was able to stunt his While We Stand, We Fight points while scoring no points on Linebreaker. I didn’t have fun winning this game. This format sucks. Never do this with your friends. FAQs and the Dataslate exist for a reason.
There is no fun Discord pull quote for this one. We both hated playing Warhammer that night.
Result: Votann Win, 64-32
Game 3: Orkz (SoylentRobot) vs Iron Hands(Condit)
Time to determine who comes in last place. Will it be the ever durable Iron Hands using bullshit 8th edition rules, or the millions of buggies and planes available in the Ork arsenal. Condit took While We Stand, We Fight, Domination, and Raise the Banners High. SoylentRobot took Assassinate, Engage on All Fronts, and Get da Good Bitz. Here is Condit to tell you how the game went.
Condit: Orks took the first turn, and moved forward aggressively, including putting a plane on the side of the building which made it so I couldn’t easily get out and do objectives. I killed the plane and a couple other things, and then a bunch of buggies moved into the space where the plane was. Then I killed most of those and there were still more buggies. I wound up being stuck around behind the back of the building for the game trying to punch my way out and doing a reasonable job of it, but I was pinned in from the start and couldn’t get out from behind the building to play the mission. Obviously I think I could have played better (if I had deployed on the other side of the building, for instance, it would have been more difficult to box me in), but at the end of the day the mobility difference is what got me.
Result: Ork Win, 97-29
Horrible right? Well I guess coming in last place finally pays for the crimes the Iron Hands committed in 8th edition.
Game 4: Harlequins (Erik) vs Admech (Pendulin)
This is it! Check it out! See what everyone’s talking about! It’s the game for first place and boy is it a doozy. One army that is full of weird tricks and refuses to play Warhammer 40,000 on the same terms as all the other armies, and one army that has so many rules and interactions it takes a PhD in statistics to unravel the mechanics. This is hell. This is the worst it could possibly ever be. Pendulin took Bring It Down, Siphon Power, and Raise the Banners High. Erik took Assassinate, Deadly Performance, and Weave Veil.
Erik wrote a lot about his game so rather than paraphrase I will let you read the wise words of the best player Blunderdome had to offer.
Erik: When I found out my round 3 match up would be Admech I did some quick and dirty math and realized that the biggest threat were the bombers. The laser planes rely on their good BS and rerolls to make the las cannons matter and clowns can answer both of those. However the 10d6 for mortal on 5+ from 3 bombers is a real danger to my void weavers. So my plan was to deploy in such a way that the bombers could not move over my voids and then back to land somewhere safe by creating a triangleish of starweavers. I also tried to keep as many boats as I can inside mirror architect so that the laser planes had few targets. I knew some boats would have to be out and I wanted to put those behind obscuring to try and make the sight lines hard. The teleporting rangers were going to kill a boat but with the above mentioned formation they would not be able to get within rapid fire of the valuable boats. With this in mind I logged on to play Andrew. We shoehorned a game in during my daughter’s nap time on a Sunday as the end of this blunderdome thing was dragging a bit and our evil overlords were haranguing us to play our games, or face dire consequences.
Once we got the board up it became clear that Andrew had his own unique deployment issues, namely that he could not fit all his planes on the board in a table quarters deployment very blunderdome. Rather than fuck around with getting thing just so we agreed just to get em on the board and go. So after my careful deployment and consideration of what happens if I go second I, of course, go first. Having identified my real threats I jam my boats forward kill all the bombers and 1 laser plane and that is pretty much the game. Andrew valiantly takes a 2 hour turn 1 trying desperately to use the unconscionable number of rules in his codex to hit back hard enough he does damage but not nearly enough. My clowns get back into his character fort and kill several I had taken assassination since he had 6 relatively soft characters I figured I could pick off. I also finished off the rest of the planes and many of the infantry with sheer volume. He conceded the top of his turn 2. A perfectly reasonable move as my alpha had crippled him and clowns are just very durable to what is good in blunder dome. Clown defenses screw up the math so these perfectly calibrated threat vectors are too much less efficient and have to waste damage in which case I don’t try to save the thing or try to spread damage just right in which case I pile rerolls to keep inconvenient things alive. It’s a very fun feeling of agency that most 40k armies simply don’t get.
Unnerfed clowns are absolutely sick not because of any particular combo but because they can manipulate the game in ways that are hard to account for, are very durable, and, when you can spam the “heavy” tanks, have very strong damage output. Candidly I did have fun in the blunderdome it was an interesting experiment and the games weren’t too long. Its an absolutely stupid way to play and I would never spend time and money to engage in it but as a lark for free, why not?
Pendulin: It was a good win streak while I had it, but I made a crucial mistake going into this game: I put models on the table, and it was all downhill from there.
By the time I got to move my first model, I had already lost a quarter of my army, all of my bombers, and most of my sanity. Much like Ruby Rhod, Admech’s gimmick is going hot, hot, hot! Not much survives when an Admech player’s got an army-wide ballistic skill of 2+ and more rerolls than a craps table. Note, I do not know how to play craps.
Not much survives against Admech going hot, except when it goes up against a permanent, army-wide “hit rolls of 1-3 fail, and you cannot reroll hits”. That turns Admech’s “going hot” into “going not” and then “going home”. Also doesn’t help that I lost a quarter of my army and all my bombers before my first turn. I think I mentioned that already but, alas, the sanity.
Is there anything I could have done differently? Certainly. I could have gone to law school after graduating – I’d probably be so miserable with my life that I would never have started playing Warhammer 40k. But baring taking the bar, this loss was all but guaranteed.
As for the two hour first turn, I even had a spreadsheet on hand to speed things up. But before I could even leave my Command Phase, I needed to hand out the following buffs: Magi, Logi, Raiment, Firepoint, Programmed Retreat, Luminescent, two instances of Galvanic Field, Control Edict, two (or three for 1CP) instances of Machine Focus, and something like half a dozen uses of Master of Machines. Then during movement I had Solar Flare, Artisans, and Electro-filament Countermeasures (which became moot when I lost my bombers) to figure out, followed by Wrath, Enriched, and Galvanic Volley Fire in the Shooting phase. Something like twenty buffs, on top of Canticles and Doctrinas. You didn’t forget those right? Right?
All those intricate plans and buffs amounted to nothing. I blew away a couple clown planes, leaving a dozen on the battlefield, and it had absolutely no impact on the game. If I wanted to spend hours concocting a tapestry of rule interactions, only for it to be torn to shreds and leave me feeling alone and helpless, then I really would have become a lawyer.
But from this, there’s one argument I can make: this is miserable. Don’t play this. Case closed, jury excused. Strike the motion, plaintiff tackle that man. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m leaving because I’ve got a lot of “not playing Blunderdome” to catch up on.
Result: Harlequins Win, 100-17
Truly hellish. Couldn’t at least be a close game. A landslide victory to close out Blunderdome 2.
Before shedding this mortal coil and handing off Blunderdome 2 authorship to me, Norman made a point to ask each player how they felt about the experience. Everyone, including myself, absolutely hated it. This was a terrible idea. Playing without the FAQ’s or the Dataslate was abysmal. Each game was almost literally won at the roll for first turn. When Pendulin was asked he said it best, and I’m paraphrasing here: “These are like Combat Patrol games. They are generally over after turn one if you take out the tools necessary to hurt you, but at 2,000 points.”
We did the science for you. We suffered for you. Don’t let our suffering be in vain. Use the FAQs. Use the Dataslate. They aren’t there to invalidate the book you bought. They’re there because the book you bought is invalidating Warhammer 40,000.
Thank you and good night.
So What Did We Learn?
Rob: Well, back to me to close things out. There’s no funny comic this time, just a bunch of upset players fresh off playing some of the most miserable games of 40k you can. What did we learn? Not to do it again, I guess. More realistically, I think it was interesting to take a full view at what the game looks like in its raw, unpolished state. I’ve felt for a while now that 9th edition has possibly the best “bones” of any edition of 40k – it’s decently constructed, fairly tight in terms of its rules, and the books themselves have some very good internal balance – every codex has multiple builds and few have units that are just outright stinkers. But the game’s external balance is a mess, starting with Codex; Drukhari and just pushing up through a series of progressively more insane books, barring Thousand Sons and Genestealer Cults, leading to the need for game-wide adjustments.
And look, I get it – the adjustments can be tough to keep track of. But decrying them as “just for competitive players” or “unnecessary waac bullshit” really misses the point, which is that we’re all here for a fun game where the outcome is uncertain before the final turn. It doesn’t matter if you’re competitive or casual, that’s more likely to happen if the game has better balance between factions. But if your jam is playing the fucked version of the game where the player who wins the roll-off just dominates the other player and wins, be my guest. I bow to your smug superiority.
Anyways, that wraps up blunderdome 2, the most casual and miserable blunderdome yet. Join us next year for Blunderdome 3, where we make players eat every model they lose on the table.
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