Like One_Wing I attended Battlefield Birmingham 14 over the weekend, a tournament held (unsurprisingly) in Birmingham. I’d played at the doubles in June where my partner and I did respectably with 2 wins, 2 draws and a loss, but this was my first singles here in six years. Some spice was added by not only travelling up with my team, the BIG Brigade, and seeing One_Wing again, but also by the arrival of Naramyth fresh from the US. We’ve known each other for a long time via SA but thanks to the Atlantic never met before. When he talked about visiting the UK and said he wanted to play in a UK event while he was here, Battlefield Birmingham was the natural choice.
I attended the first two of these events way back in 2012, playing in Ladywood Social Club. The first one drew 38 people and the second just 19. In the time since I’ve been out of the hobby they’ve grown tremendously, to the point that for this event there were 110 paid entrants with more paid reserves. I put this down to the huge commitment and hard work of the TOs – not only is the event well run, friendly and welcoming, but the tables are all of a very high standard especially for an event of this size, and the prize support is fantastic. For £30 for the weekend it’s a bargain.
Arriving on the Saturday morning, one thing that was notable immediately was just how many Knights were in the room. One_Wing’s report includes the picture he took of my team’s table – all four of us had at least one Knight, and two of us had multiples. Out of shot was Naramyth’s army which also featured a Castellan and Crusader along with an accompanying Armiger. Looking around the room I’d estimate that 30% had at least one Knight, and there were multiple multi-Knight lists. This lends some credence to the articles written beforehand that suggest Knights are strong in the meta – but more on that later!
The tournament is played at 2000pts, using combined Maelstrom and Eternal War missions. After some last-minute discussion with Naramyth my list was the following:
- 2x Company Commanders, 1 Warlord with Grand Strategist, 1 with Kurov’s Aquila
- 3x Infantry
House Raven Super-heavy Detachment
- Knight Castellan
- Knight Crusader, avenger gatling cannon, thermal cannon, ironstorm missiles
- Armiger Helverin
Blood Angels Battalion
- Chief Librarian Mephiston
- 2x Captain with jump pack, thunder hammer, storm shield
- 3x Scouts with boltguns
This works out to 2000pts on the nose.
I took a novel approach to the event by not practicing at all (and in fact, re-writing the list on the Wednesday beforehand), and having played mostly Dark Eldar in the months beforehand. This led to a certain lack of finesse with the list, some of which was game-changingly costly, and some of which merely sub-optimal – in particular, I didn’t realise that the Knight Relic stratagem makes things characters (saving the need to use Exalted Court), and that this freed up points to take the Veritas Vitae which was absolutely key in most of my games.
This lack of finesse would be particularly demonstrated in game 1.
Game 1 – vs. Chris Bryan with Eldar
I arrived at my table for game 1 with a certain trepidation which quickly vanished as my opponent began pulling models out of his case. He had a great-looking Eldar army with a melee Wraithknight, an Avatar, a Tantalus with some dudes inside including Drazhar and a Succubus, a Raider with some Wyches, a dark lance Ravager, a Venom, a Swooping Hawk Autarch and a jetbike Farseer. He took one look at my list and said “You’re going to wipe the floor with me.” I try never to be arrogant or complacent but looking at it on paper, I felt the same.
Spoiler: I did not win this game.
We were playing mixed Big Guns Never Tire and Cleanse & Capture. I got the favourable objective drop and set up mine in a corner, intending to be able to safely pick a 2- or 3- objective side no matter what deployment we got. Except we rolled Seach & Destroy, i.e. corners, and it turns out that the map uses the opposite 2 corners to the one I’d intended to deploy in. Instead of comfortably defending 3 objectives (which you can see in the feature image) I instead was in a side with none. Not a good start.
My opponent went first and rolled his stuff forwards in a headlong charge. Shooting killed my Helverin and did some other minor damage, but nothing huge. His Wraithknight charged one unit of infantry and the Raider charged another, and I Heroic Interventioned my Knight Crusader into the Wraithknight. The inevitable happened and my infantry on that side died, but I put a few wounds on the Wraithknight with stomps. So far so good.
In my turn, the first Blood Angels captain jumped over to attack the Wraithknight, the Crusader backed off him, and Mephiston went left to cover off the Raider. He did nothing with his psychic phase (this was a bit of a theme of the tournament). My shooting started strong, with the Castellan blowing up the Raider and Ravager as well as putting 10 wounds on the Tantalus. So far so good.
The next bit is where it all went wrong. The Crusader shot the Wyches with its stubber, rocket pod, and heavy flamer, and killed 5, which is fairly rubbish. It shot the rest of its stuff into the Wraithknight and my opponent made a fistful of 5++ saves to deny me much of anything. The remaining Guard infantry shot the Wyches again and they made a succession of 6+/6+++ saves to survive the lot. I charged the slam captain into the Wraithknight and Wyches (ok), Mephiston into the Wyches (why) and the Knight Crusader into the Wraithknight (WHY!?). The captain swung and achieved very little – I think 6 wounds total. Then he interrupted with the Wraithknight and put 24 wounds straight through the Crusader and my jaw dropped.
This is probably the single moment I’m most annoyed about in the whole event. I had no idea what a Wraithknight did in combat, and I didn’t even bother asking. As it turns out, it’s 4 attacks, hitting on 3s and wounding on 2s, at AP-4 and damage 6. That has a very good chance of killing a Knight in one go, but doesn’t really worry a Blood Angels captain which has a 3++ (and, had I remembered it existed, both a command point and Grand Strategist re-roll to use). Even if it does kill him, he can use Only in Death to fight again, which should have been enough to kill the wounded Wraithknight. There was no need for the Knight to go in at all. Even in the worst case scenario where the captain doesn’t kill the Wraithknight, the Crusader can act as a physical block to protect my Castellan, even if it gets punked in exactly the way it just did. Terrible, terrible play on my part.
Mephiston bounced off the Wyches (I’m a frequent Dark Eldar player and of course I forgot they had a 4++ in combat…) and found himself very exposed to shooting next turn, and the slam captain used Honour the Chapter and then a further flurry of 5++ saves kept the Wraithknight alive on 2 wounds instead of dead as it probably should have been. My opponent was very apologetic about his amazing luck with these, but while it certainly made his win easier, the majority of the problem was my extremely poor decision to charge the Knight in. What I should really have done, if anything, was drop the second slam captain, but frankly “do nothing” would also have been good. Even if the rest of the turn played out as it had done and the Wraithknight walked up and murdered the Crusader next turn, that bump in the road would have given me the freedom to kill it with the Castellan and at least try and rescue things.
After that disastrous turn, the game played out fairly predictably. The Wraithknight and jetbike Farseer jumped in and ganked the Castellan in short order, Mephiston died hard, and what little else there was in my army was rolled up by his rampaging Avatar and Autarch. Even the satisfaction of killing off the Wraithknight was denied me after I used my last 3 CPs to try and explode the Castellan, rolled 2 3s, and then re-rolled one into a 1.
At the end it was a 12-1 loss for me (a massacre under the tournament’s scoring system) with a tabling only prevented by my second captain deep striking into the far corner of the table and hiding from everything.
Not the opening to the tournament I was hoping for!
Game 2 – vs. Thomas Capper with Blood Angels
After a long break (getting rolled on turn 1 of game 1 means you spend a lot of time sitting around waiting, which on the plus side meant a good opportunity to chat with Naramyth and his fiancee), it was time for game 2.
My opponent had a very melee-heavy Blood Angels list. I can’t recall exactly how it was set up, but he had Mephiston, Astorath, a slam Captain, a Sanguinary Priest, a Sanguinary Ancient, a big block of 10 Sanguinary Guard, two squads of 5 Tactical Marines with meltas, tons of Scouts (I think 1 unit of 10 with bolt pistols and chainswords, and then 3 lots of Snipers), a Rhino and a Predator. This time the mission was The Scouring with Contact Lost.
We rolled up Dawn of War and I deployed behind some crates on my right flank, stretching out the Scouts and Infantry to zone out the deep-striking Captain. He deployed mostly opposite me, again using a big block of crates to hide his Sanguinary Guard and some of the characters, with Mephiston and a Tac Squad in the Rhino. He used his sniper scouts really well to stretch the battlefield and push on to objectives far to my left. The Predator deployed in his back left corner, directly opposite the Castellan.
This time around I went first, to devastating effect. My Captain UWoF’d into the midfield ready to charge some Sanguinary Guard, and on my left flank my Scouts pushed up to fight his sniper Scouts in a crater. With Mephiston hanging out deciding not to psyker up, we went straight into shooting. The Castellan opened things by killing both the Rhino and Predator, dumping the opposing Mephiston onto the battlefield along with his Tac Marine shield. Guardsmen murdered his close combat Scouts, leaving just the Sergeant and his improbable thunder hammer, while the Crusader fluffed, only managing to kill a couple of Sanguinary Guard. In the Charge phase the Captain went flying into Fake Mephiston, while my left hand squad of Scouts went into his snipers in the crater. The Captain did 4 wounds with Fake Mephi saving 2, and then passing all 6 Feel No Pains to take zero damage. I Honoured the Chapter doing 6 more wounds, and he passed another 3 to turn a total of 12 damage into only 3 wounds! Meanwhile the Scout slap fight resulted in absolutely nothing, making for some pretty pathetic fighting all around.
His turn 1 rolled around and he freed up the Captain to be gunned down in short order, with the Priest healing wounds back on Fake Mephiston to add insult to injury. His block of Sanguinary Guard and Astorath flew out from their box cover to push into midfield. The Captain died to a Fake Mephiston Smite, and some further Scout slapping went off to no particular result. Astorath finished up the turn by murdering 4/5 Scouts, with my Sergeant passing his Morale test despite the loss of his charges.
Turn 2 rolled around with the brutal slaying of the Sanguinary Guard at the hands of the Castellan. The Helverin ineffectively shot at Astorath, now the closest target, while the remaining Tactical Marines were gunned down by the Crusader and mortars. Once again I played the Crusader badly, pushing him up into midfield and exposing him to a revenge charge by Fake Mephiston and the slam Captain. He managed to kill Fake Mephiston before going down hard to the Captain’s hammer.
Although my opponent had some strong stuff remaining, the game basically ended here. In my next couple of turns I shot the Captain and the other characters to death, and cleared out the Scouts that were left. Mephiston, after not doing much of anything for the opening turns, jumped to the other side of the board to claim me Domination on my final turn. I finished the game covering all 6 objectives and with the table clear of opposition.
Game 3 – vs. Adam Trotter with Imperial Knights
Game 3 was against Adam and his Knights. Adam is a very good player and he had an interesting list – a Gallant, a Crusader, and two Paladins (iirc) plus two Warglaives, run using House Krast. The Crusader had a rapid-fire battlecannon with the Headsman’s Mark, which against a Knight had a terrifying D3+2 damage per wound!
The game was Scorched Earth with Kill Confirmed. We rolled up Vanguard Strike, which will be funny when you read about day 2, and I deployed with Infantry and Scouts screening out my Knights with one Captain and Mephiston on my right flank behind some crates. Adam got first turn and pushed forwards, shooting up some Scouts and my Crusader but not doing too much to harm me. On my turn I surged the Crusader forwards to get the thermal cannon in range (incidentally, this is the third time in as many games that I basically gave it away for free – if this list survives the FAQ, I need to get a lot better at playing it) with the Captain and Mephiston striking out for his Warlord. I blew up the Gallant and the characters went into the Warlord – after Mephi swang and did a pile of damage to it, he interrupted and landed 6 wounds on Mephiston. I promptly failed 6/6 4+ saves and died like a bitch. At least he managed to smash a bunch more wounds off the Knight with Only in Death, before the slam Captain finished things.
With 2 Knights dead on turn 1 I felt like I was in control, but Adam is a player not to be underestimated. One of the Paladins took aim at the slam Captain, while a Warglaive charged across the table to beat up on my infantry and clear me off a Defend objective. My Crusader evaporated, and the slam Captain was stamped to death in short order. At this point I was tempted to use Only in Death to try and take some wounds off the Paladin, but after some wise words from Adam I decided against. There were a couple of times that he gave me sound advice – not always the case in a tournament game! – and I appreciated it.
In my 2 I whiffed hard against the Crusader, leaving my Castellan very vulnerable. The only thing I did manage was to kill his remaining Armiger. On his 3 Adam was sorely tempted to try and push the Crusader in to lock up my Helverin as well as have a go at kicking wounds off the Castellan. He decided against, but I do wonder if it would have worked out for him, since it was his turn for his shooting to whiff. With only two Knights left I got a lot luckier with the Castellan, killing off the Crusader this turn before finishing up in 4 with a dead Paladin. A very tough game against an opponent with a good list that he knew how to use – a great game of 40k!
That left me at the end of day 1 with 2 big wins and 1 big loss. I was feeling ok about this – although I was still annoyed about losing to such a stupid mistake in game 1, overall a 2-1 opening day isn’t bad. Post-tournament I went up to Meeple Mayhem, the board game cafe my friend and ex-housemate runs, to hang out with Naramyth, his fiancee and my teammate Mark and eat some damn good food. Tune in tomorrow for day 2!