While the traditional year end might occur for many in west in December, and other readers in February, mini gamers in North America have the Las Vegas Open (LVO) to mark the end of the gaming year.
With that I looked at my 2023 stated goals and realized that 2023 was a failure.
I failed to visit every game store in Georgia. This was always a stretch goal because I wanted to go to more local events and RTTs and had hoped that more places would be running them in 2023 compared to 2022 and 2021. Personally I didn’t anticipate the amount of other stuff that was occuring in the world that had been paused or reduced for Covid-19. As a dad and husband I often found myself choosing between something I wanted to do and a specific request from a family member and sided with my family over my mini family. Fortunately the Georgia Warband has plenty of dad-types who were willing to step up and watch my gaming kids grow this year while I kept the title of paterfamilias from my six-year old son. Since I wasn’t going to big events like Nashcon or Nova I was less aggressive in getting in an extra game or two during the week and more content to just pal around with my gal pals. Externally, I think a lot of game stores were running events based on this new game called Warhammer 40,000 10th edition. My understanding locally is that these events sell out a bunch and for the first time more than a few Age of Sigmar events were run without getting some sell-outs.
I also failed to finish painting my models before buying new ones in a spectacular way. Right now, without leaving my computer, I know of a unit of squig herd, two units of spider riders, a unit of sneaky snufflers, a unit of loonsmasha fanatics, a unit of stabbas, and those fifteen boingrot bounders that still need to be based and finished just on my gitz side. I think over the past year I’ve learned that I have a homeostasis of around 100-200 unpainted and unfinished models that just feels right. When I fall below that amount I get tempted to exchange paper money for plastic sprues and above that I’ll quickly paint models to get below that number. Mentally, because I’ve anchored on models instead of units I’ve developed a “sub-backlog” of larger models that I don’t want to paint when I need to reduce my backlog because “I want to do a good job”. The truth is I”m gonna paint them as soon as I need one for an event. How do y’all count your backlog? I think it might be a good icebreaker at an event.
After failing my goals for 2023 I’m not ready to set some ambitious goals for 2024! These include:
- Paint every model in my backlog.
- Finish a 2,000 Point 40,000 army and play at the World Championship of Warhammer.
- Go to at least 1 2-day event every month.
- Help my son get his first 40,000 army painted and play some games with him.
Playing games with my son is going to be interesting as he is only six and has better things to do than “do something boring” like read the Warhammer 40,000 book. However, before almost every game I pack for he asks if I’m going to be taking his space marines and we’ve had more than one epic battle at home. Last year when we had an epic battle we limited our implements of war to models and terrain on a board. In the past 12 months we’ve started rolling dice and using a tape measure to move models. Admittedly the results of the dice don’t always correspond to the an outcome that a mini gamer would expect and the tape measure is being used in a new in an innovative way that likely has not been seen before in the history of games. I can’t wait to get his opinions on standing on circles.
Since the majority of these write-ups are about Age of Sigmar I will briefly mention that I have a 40,000 space dwarf army in process that needs to be painted. I’m going to set the models right on the shelf behind my spiders and hope for the best. People in the 41st millennium must love edge highlighting. In addition to my 40K models I have a large (uncountable for my own mental health) number of unpainted Age of Sigmar models. Fortunately, I have two events early in the year that should help me paint up a bunch of models that have been hanging around in a “work in process” state. In addition to those events I have seven other two-day events on my schedule with a healthy contingent of local and drivable events. I also have the Las Vegas Open coming up in a few weeks.
Once again, I’m ill-prepared for LVO coming off a holiday season where my family visited and we spent more time together than playing and painting minis. It’s also cold in my unfinished basement and I don’t like being cold. While I did paint up my Loonsmasha Fanatics and Stabba unit to an acceptable tabletop standard I’m not going to embarrass myself by calling them “the well painted Stabbas” at the table. My list, stolen from Phil Marshall of World Championships of Warhammer fame in the UK, hasn’t changed much in testing. My biggest desire to change anything was dropping a unit of Loonsmasher Fanatics and replacing them with a unit of monster-killa as allies. My list is unchanged from what was presented here.
This is the first time in a long time where I don’t have to paint anything and can spend my last week focused on improving my current model collection. In addition to painting up my Boingrots, Sneaky Snufflers, Stabbas, and Loonsmashas I wanted to give some extra attention to some of my workhorse units like the Gobbapalooza, my other unit of Stabbas, and Skragrott before the event. It feels really good not painting up a unit of gutrippaz before LVO for the first time.
Stolen Valor In the Mortal Realms
Allegiance: Gloomspite Gitz
– Gittish Horde: King’s Gitz
– Mortal Realm: Ghur
– Grand Strategy: Protect da Shrine!
– Triumphs: Indomitable
Skragrott, The Loonking (230)*
Madcap Shaman (70)**
– Command Trait: The Clammy Hand
– Artefact: Moonface Mommet
– Lore of Primal Frost: Hoarfrost
15 x Boingrot Bounderz (450)*
– Reinforced x 2
15 x Boingrot Bounderz (450)*
– Reinforced x 2
20 x Moonclan Stabbas (120)**
20 x Moonclan Stabbas (120)**
5 x Gobbapalooza (170)*
– Spell: Lore of the Moonclans: Itchy Nuisance
6 x Sneaky Snufflers (140)*
5 x Loonsmasha Fanatics (110)**
5 x Loonsmasha Fanatics (110)**
1x Bad Moon Loonshrine (0)
Total: 1970 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 4 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
On some level the list works exactly as it looks. Sometimes you get into combat with a big unit of charging bounders that have a 5+ ward, extra rend, and extra attack. Sometimes you prevent your opponent from charging something because “Surprize Loonsmasha Fanatics!” who fight first. Sometimes you just keep rallying your units over and over and over and over and over again. When things are going great, Gloomspite Gitz get given grief, gank geezers and grab goals with gloriousness. They aren’t the killer army that they were earlier in the year and have gone from having an extra unit or two to being a tight army where my skill issues impact winning. Since I didn’t make up the list or do the hard work of playing other versions it’s like loading up somebody else’s save in Kingdom Hearts 3. Everything is there but I didn’t do it. That being said, this army is in a better spot compared to Kruleboyz and all of the issues below could be summed up with phrase “Sounds like a skill issue”
Issue: Getting a first round battle tactic is a little weird.
In other Gitz lists I played I could easily get Led into the Maelstrom with a big squig list. This list doesn’t have a fighting hero that is ready to charge in turn one and I”m often looking to screen or position my stabbas in a way that would require two turns to get them to board edges for Surround and Destroy. Gitz often have cheap throw away units like spider riders that can move fast enough to get to the board edge and score a battle tactic. On some maps I can get Intimidate the Invaders in the first round but more often than not need to use magical dominance as my primary turn 1 battle tactic. This has left me able to use all of my spells as I’m afraid of an opponent being in dispell range for some more marginal spells. Often times I want to be able to cast all of my turn one spells and charge in with a big buff group of bounders. A solution I found for certain matchups is to put the ‘plooza in the back with Skragrott and have all three cast spell and then teleport the ‘plooza in range to give an additional rend.
I’ve been playing around with “Stab them in the dark” as a tactic that requires a unit not affected by the bad moon destroying a picked enemy unit. Early rounds of the game make first charges unreliable into units as most players have a lot of command points and the ability to redeploy without giving up anything. In later rounds, when a unit has been damaged or an opponent knows they need command points to all out defense, all out attack, pass bravery, or do some wonky faction specific abilities they’re less likely to redeploy.
Issue: I Keep Having my Loonshrine Destroyed
Honestly this one has skill issue written all over it and if I were to make a single change it would be to include the Kruleboyz Monster-killa’s, currently at 135 points, to prevent a monster from taking a monsterous action within 6″ of the unit on a 2+. Given that Gloomspite Gitz have a hugely essential piece of terrain that people love to smash I measured out the unit and it can completely cover the Loonshrine. It doesn’t hurt that I have a fully Kruleboyz army that could use a unit or two of them. However, I would rather improve the units that I know I’m taking than spend the time to build, paint, and base a new unit 10 days before the event.
The tradeoff is losing a triumph that I almost always get and use and a unit of Loonsmashas. I think this is a marginal choice that would be driven by what I think the meta is. I’ve noticed playing this list that people LOVE to think out loud about where they speculate the loonsmashas are hiding and having hidden information is rare in Age of Sigmar. Losing with this list is a real “skill issue” problem but I”m much happier taking a list that can deal with multiple problems during an event than Troggs, who go forward and smash.
In the few games that I’ve played the threat of the Loonshrine being destroyed has been a constant worry when my opponent has monsters. Additionally I’ve struggled against monsters who roar or otherwise prevent me from using all out attack. In theory I shouldn’t have an issue against monsters as the bounders should have enough mojo to kill just about anything. As we sit in the second week of January, baring a change, I’m likely to not make any adjustments to the list. 1970 points is just at the cutoff where you get the triumph more often than not and I’ve used it in almost every fight. Additionally, since I’ve been playing other players trying out newer models and specific list combinations I think I might be seeing a skew towards a more monster heavy meta.
Issue: I’m not use to having such poor combat heros
I’ve been spoiled by Trugg and Dankhold Troggbosses. They don’t go into combat, they WADE AND SMASH into the fight and easily survive to unlock Bait and Trap and Led into the Maelstrom. Even some of the smaller heros, like the Loonboss on Giant Cave Squig and the on foot Loonboss, are able to pick fights and stick around. Skragrott and a madcap shaman are not built for the mortal realms in the same way. However, this isn’t about needing the hero in combat as much as it’s about battle tactics.
Issue: Tactics are really different from my other lists
Gloomspite Gitz have a great collection of “80%” tactics where I know I’ll be able to get the tactics during the game but I”m not sure if I’ll get them on a specific turn. In most games I have 7 viable tactics to choose from and it’s just a matter of picking them in the right order. In theory I should be able to destroy a unit with a spell just like I should be able to retreat two units and charge with two others. In practice I’m rarely in combat with two units compared to when I use troggs.
Issue: Where to hide the loonsmashers
In most of my games my opponents assume that I’ve put my loonsmasher fanantics in my stabbas. In most games I’ve done that. However, as I’ve played the list more and more I’m starting to think about hiding them in the ‘poolza and using them as an aggressive screen to take advantage of the 4+ ward.
Whatever happens at LVO I’ve really enjoyed playing a list made by and thought up by somebody else. While I have had some good games I’m not anticipating doing anything spectacular at LVO. What I really want to do is meet my friends, have some fun, and get ready for the 2024 season.
The Event Itself
One thing that is hanging over anything is the lack of a balance update. With the rules cut-off the 12th, and lists due the 14th, it feels like the tension some people have over optimized lists is just increasing. I don’t think there are going to be any changes to Gloomspite Gitz as they received some pretty heavy points and rules adjustments earlier in the year and don’t have an out of control winrate. Sure, bounders feel extremely powerful, but they are decidedly a mid-tier army. If bounders were to go up 20 points my list would be 70 points over and I would drop a unit of Loonsmashas or go to a single reinforced bounder unit with two units of squig hoppers.
LVO is using a unique terrain system that is an attempt to balance the below average AOS terrain rules, the need to find 400 tables of terrain, and not use the big foam blocks. Based on my review and practice deployments I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just go with TO placed terrain or provide a terrain map. Even with a top end that will include most of the best players in North America a 300-400 person tournament in Vegas is going to attract a certain set of players whose first AOS travel event is LVO and if you haven’t prepared for the terrain placement I can almost promise those that don’t read or practice with the rules are going to lose a game because they messed up or allowed your opponent to set terrain.
I also have a number of questions that I’ve emailed the TO in advance of the event. For the vast majority of these I don’t really care what the outcome is so much as there is an outcome. Most of these are really edge cases that I think my opponent will ask when we get into the situation, not areas where I’m trying to get and unfair advantage.
- Can I use this model as a proxy for a Madcap Shaman?
- My Take: I’ve used this as a proxy for multiple FLG events so I anticipate the answer being “Yes”. This is the only question I care about the answer
- Are units in a garrison is that is wholly within the light of the bad moon affected by Light of the Bad Moon? What happens if you increase the size of a unit beyond 15 models that is currently garrisoned?
- My Take: Based on 17.2.1 of the core rules I think that as written that I can be impacted by light of the moon “A model in a garrison can still do anything it could do if it were on the battlefield, apart from moving. For example, it can cast spells, issue commands, and so on. When it does so, measure the range and visibility from the terrain feature.” What I think is going to happen – I’m pretty sure they will say you can’t go above 15 models in a garrison under any circumstance and any excess models are lost.
- If a unit having wizard models (Gobbapalooza with Shroommancer and Boggleye for example) no longer has the models that make it a wizard does it give up an extra victory point when killed in Power Flux (“Score 1 victory point if any enemy Wizard units were destroyed in that battle round”)?
- My Take: It’s pretty clear that this has been FAQed using Lumineth Realmlords as an example in this GHB. Again, I don’t particularly care what is being ruled but I want to make sure that my deployments and model pulling doesn’t create a “Feel Bad” situation on the table.
That’s a pretty simple list of questions and a reflection of this being the third year of an edition and LVO being a pretty well established event. Most of the really big controversies have been settled and the specific FAQs to Cities of Sigmar and exclusion of the new Flesh Eater Courts book means we don’t have any unresolved jank. I’m also not taking 200 Bloodreavers so I’m not asking “When does a game of Age of Sigmar start?”
For most events I wouldn’t ask or care about these questions but for something as big as LVO I want to know the answers before I get into the situations so that I or my opponent isn’t making a choice based on false assumptions. I’m 90% sure that my opponent is going to try to kill my Gobbapalooza since they do every game without the extra victory point given up. I want to make sure my opponent knows the answer before the game starts because I don’t want to create a “feel bad” situation when so many games of Age of Sigmar come down to limited point totals.
A new aid that for this event is a set of four cards with my different units that my Loonsmashas can hide in. Both units of Stabbas, the Sneaky Snufflers, and the ‘plooza can all hold the fanatics. During the event I’m not writing down where they are and unlike a local event telling the organizer during deployment is logistically challenging. While chess clocks are available I don’t anticipate using one. As I’ve played this army more and more I have a relatively quick movement, hero, shooting (none) and charge phase with the longest part of the combat phase being counting how many models are in combat with 1” reach and how many models with 2” reach are in range.
It’s nice to start the real year in January just as the mini year is ending. Putting away the Christmas ornaments, throwing out the tree, and deciding to leave the lights up is a good transition to 2024. Overall there is a high level of excitement to travel to and spend time with my mini family and see how the Georgia Warband step-dads have been raising my miniature wargaming kids in the off year. I’m also looking forward to a big event and to see some friends for the first time since February of 2023. Without any specific competitive goals accomplished in 2023 I’m looking to close out a disappointing but fun year of Sigmar at Vegas.
Drop me a line in the Goonhammer discord if you’re going to be at the 2024 LVO. I’d love to hear about your adventure.