Colin’s Road to the US Open Seattle Part 3 – Am I Organized or Am I Coping? Maybe Both?

Last post before the Big Show! I’m excited. Thursday I’ll be flying to the largest wargaming event I’ve ever attended, which is pretty cool. I feel good about my list and am about as well organized as I get for these things. Prepared may be another story, as I’m woefully short on practice with the Nachmund missions, but I’m sure that’ll work itself out. I’m counting on list fluency to give me a fighting chance in the majority of games I play, so we’ll see.

My final practice game last week was instructive, but not necessarily as intended. I played against my friend Matt’s Dark Harlequins and that game went about as well as you think it did. Matt is a very good player piloting a top list, so I held out little hope for a win. What I didn’t appreciate before the game was just how much it sucked to have every model you kill in melee attack back at full strength. You read it on paper and it sounds rough; and you maybe think “gee, having 5-6 attacks at full WS when you die sure would be nice” as you gaze longingly at your Astartes Banner. Then you charge a unit of 6 bikes and 6 Troupe with 10 Sanguinary Guard and butcher them handily only to lose 8 of 10 Sang Guard on the fight back and, well, that just sucks. Not a reflection on Matt at all. Just a feel bad mechanic in an otherwise flavorful book. Other than that it was a beautiful game! If you’re in Seattle you should find Matt’s army and check it out.

So what did I learn from that game? If I face that matchup I almost certainly just lose that game. Dark Harlequins take what my army does well (dunk on units in melee) and uses it as an opportunity to return the favor. So even when I’m being successful doing what my army is built to do, I’m losing handfuls of models. And that’s okay. I’m not going to Seattle to win 8 games. As I said in my previous post, I’m realistically shooting for 4-5 wins. I don’t have a Take All Comers list. And I’m fine with that. I just lose some matchups. I probably get dumpstered by Tyranids too. That one feels a little more strength-on-strength, but who knows. I haven’t played against Tyranids since last Boise Cup in June 2021.

The substantive, actionable takeaway from that game was that I really needed my cheat sheets and game aids to be on point for this event. 8 games in 3 days is a LOT of gaming. Combined with socializing before/between/after games and the anxiety of flying, I’m going to be exhausted. The more I can help reduce my cognitive load while I’m playing the better off I’ll be. So that’s really what I want to focus on in this article. If organization-as-coping-mechanism-for-anxiety isn’t your jam, maybe just wait for the event recap because I’m about to wax poetic about laminated lists of secondaries and such.

Blood Angels Eliminators in Ossian Suppression Pattern Camo. Credit: Colin Ward

My schedule the week of the event is pretty standard, but Thursday is going to come up quickly. Mon-Wed are pretty normal. Full day of work and then family time after. Having finished my squad of Eliminators on Sunday, I only have one model to paint for a gift before I leave for Seattle, but that’s one evening’s work. Maybe one and a half. Thursday I’ll work from home until my flight in the afternoon. My goal is to start my week only having to pack clothes for my trip. This meant most of my free time Sunday was spent packing and prepping my army and accoutrements.

After realizing I couldn’t actually Combat Squad Sanguinary Guard, I had to tweak my list a little so I could have three units of Sanguinary Guard and keep the second Redemptor. I had already maxed my elite slots in the Battalion so I took the Teeth of Terra relic off the Sanguinary Priest and threw a Redemptor in an Aux detachment, thereby only losing 1CP and still having two squads of seven and one squad of six Sanguinary Guard. A small change on paper, but I’m glad I didn’t continue to play that wrong at the event! With the list finalized I submitted it to the event through BCP. List was accepted and it’s done. Now I can get to work on my game aids and figure out how I’m packing.

Credit: Colin Ward

First I want to start with my every day game aid, and one of my favorite hobby purchases ever: my metal dice case/accessory tray from KR Multicase. My friend Ben has one and recommended I get one and it’s just perfect. It holds all my dice, objectives, markers, and my tape measure and it can be used as a dice try during games. Brilliant bit of kit, as the Brits would say. Some great stickers from friends and my Legalized Mischief logo and it’s mine. The case itself is only £15 though I’m pretty sure shipping at least doubled the cost. It’s worth it. Get one.

Credit: Colin Ward

Because the list was finalized I could start working on my crib sheets for the event. I make these for every multi-day event I attend. Though in truth I should be making these for all my games as they really help me cut out the noise. I have a handful of crib sheets that I make:

  • Sheet 1: Units and Stratagems (double sided)
    • Side A: List of units in my army with a summary of their stat line, weapon profiles, and a highlight of their abilities (ex: litanies, auras, etc)
    • Side B: Stratagems I’m most likely to use, a summary of their rules and their cost
  • Sheet 2: Scoring and Secondaries (double sided)
    • Side A: Scoresheet for keeping score in game (I use Goonhammer’s)
    • Side B: A list and summary of the only secondaries I should consider taking with my army and how they score
  • A second scoresheet for my opponent if they want one.
  • My army list from Battlescribe (double sided)

These sheets are laminated so they last all weekend without getting torn/wet/greasy/etc. I also have a couple dry erase markers in my dice case to keep score. I don’t like keeping score on my phone as when I’m gaming I generally try to keep my phone in my pocket. Just a personal preference.

Credit: Colin Ward

Words cannot express how much these sheets help my brain. I don’t know if it’s my anxiety or just having a bad memory from too much self medicating when I was younger of if I’m just getting old or if it’s a combination of all my bad decisions, but I forget simple shit about my army all the time. Like the fact that Sanguinary Guard can’t combat squad for example. Or how in 8th Edition I played Magnus with 1 fewer base attack than he had for a year and a half. It’s ridiculous. Having all those range/str/wound/etc values right there on one sheet of paper is great. Highly recommend making something like this for your army. It’s also studying your army in that just by making the gaming aid you learn more about your list.

Credit: Colin Ward

I have to take a minute and give a shout out to my wife Bethany, without whom I would not have thought of owning a laminator and thus would have far sadder crib sheets to take to events. If you are laminator curious, this one from Office Depot is the one we have and it melts plastic pouches together really well. Also please, if you see a typo, no you didn’t. And last but certainly not least are the hard copies of GW’s own gaming aids, the rules for my army and the Nachmund GT Pack.

Credit: Colin Ward

All things considered, a paltry stack of books to play the game! Maybe 9th edition is the most streamlined edition ever?! As for packing the models, I’m using GW’s Crusade Case of zig-zag foam to fly with. I actually really like their foam setup and as I don’t play very vehicle heavy Marine lists it’s perfect for packing fiddly infantry. During the event my army will be on my display board base/carry tray. Wrestling models in and out of foam at tables is the worst.

Credit: Colin Ward

The army fits really well on the lower level of the foam. The top level is flipped upside down to give added protection and stability. I also had room for some banner markers and some walkways/ladders for my display board. I may have gone a little overboard with the display but it’s a GW event and my first 8 rounder so I’m going for it. I’ll have pictures of my army set up on the display in the recap, but I think it’s going to look pretty awesome. It’s always fun to see what everyone does with their armies and their displays. I’m really looking forward to seeing some great hobby at this event.

With everything submitted and laminated and packed, really all that’s left is to try to get my old GW tape measure fixed (it was a gift from a good friend over a decade ago!) and then pack clothes and such on Wednesday. I’m grateful to have it done and now I can just sit back and relax (ha!) and look forward to spending time with friends and rolling some dice in Seattle. Hope to see some of you there!