I don’t have a lot to say that you haven’t heard before, so I won’t keep you guessing. It happened again. I went 0-3, and my final placing was 31 out of 33.
In order, I lost 91-83 to AdMech, 91-68 to GSC, and 85-75 to other, more different, Dark Angels. I won’t go into the games here, but not for the usual reason of not wanting to write about the bad times – I actually really enjoyed all of my experiences here, I just don’t have the space for it. What I will say, in brief, is that Nate was an enthusiastic guy and did his level best playing a complex AdMech list, Eric Shiflett (of FLG) was a lovely person to chat with about the wider state of 40k and his Genestealer Cultists were a fun change of pace for me, and playing Jake in the mirror match was both a great close to a tough day and showed a different take on Dark Angels that I felt I could learn a thing or two from.
This isn’t easy for me to say, but it’s important that I be honest with you, Reader: I went to Arby’s for lunch. It was easily the worst part of my day. The curly fries did what curly fries do, which is to be crunchy and easy to stuff down in handfuls, but the sandwich was soft and wet and flavorless. No texture at all, just a glob of wet meat dropped onto what was in theory a type of bread. There are limited options when you have 45 minutes and are gaming in a dead mall, so it was Arby’s drive-thru or my choice of bad mall-quality pizza and bad mall-quality chinese, and the latter two options were gummed up with nerds that finished their games before me so I didn’t think I had time. Arby’s: just a dogshit lunch.
I managed to not fall into a pit of hopelessness in any of my games, for once. There was always a chance that I could pull it out, and the door to the promised land was closed on me slowly each time rather than being violently slammed shut. The losses are getting closer. It’s been a Learning Experience trying to get a winning list together, and if nothing else I’ve seen my scores increase over time, albeit not enough to tip into the W column, as I approach something like a real army. I even made a smart play in my last game, bullying a squad of Intercessors with Deathwing Knights in order to deny my opponent 4 ROD points. Gone are the days of taking 10 heavy Hellblasters because they look cool, now is the era of running 15 motorcycles even if I spent minimal time painting them. I should probably talk here about the list I brought.
Talonmaster (warlord: lightning-fast reactions, relic: arbiter’s gaze)
3 bikes with chainswords
4 bikes with chainswords
4 bikes with chainswords
3 MM attack bikes
Ravenwing Apothecary (chief, selfless)
5 Deathwing Knights
Deathwing command squad (2xLC, 2xLC)
Deathwing command squad (2xLC, SB/PF)
Bladeguard Ancient (relic: pennant of remembrance)
I’m not changing it up too much from here, so this might be the last Dark Angels list I mess with for a while. What I like about this list is mostly that it fits in a single KR case. On the other hand, it starts with 7 CP and the only ObSec units are the bikes. I’m debating whether I drop the ancient and add an extra bike to each squad, which would give me more ObSec presence and a CP back, but -1 damage on the Knights is also cool.
It is becoming clear that I need to work on my secondary objectives game. Stubborn Defiance blew up on me in game 2, but that’s on me for taking it into GSC when I knew he had 10 deep-striking hand flamers and could run halfway across the board out of transports. I could also have made a better showing in game 3 if I’d taken anything except Assassination, but at that point I literally threw my hands in the air and picked it at random, because the round timer was running and I had no idea what to do. Banners might not have given me enough points to swing the game, but it would definitely have beaten the 4 I scored on Assassinate. Oaths remains an absolute no-brainer of a pick, and I find myself taking Stubborn most of the time, but that third slot is the problem. Next time I’ll probably standardize on Oaths/Stubborn/Banners and see how that does – I don’t want to combo Oaths with Engage because I don’t have the unit count for it, but I’m awful at picking based on the mission and matchup, so having a fixed set is probably my best bet, when taking my skill level (which is: abysmal) into account.
I’m not going to get another event in before the calendar year ends, though I’ll probably be able to swing one more this ITC season. That puts me at, not counting Blunderdome, 0-16 for this year in competitive play. That’s a full six-pack from the GHO, a six-game GT that dropped to five and then gave me a bye which made it four in September, and two RTTs. Through all this, I’ve been working my way through a cycle of Posting Doctrines. I started the year in the Dismissive doctrine, where I didn’t care and just wanted to show up, then rotated into Attempting and started blindly charging into events with murder in my eyes and getting mad when it didn’t work out. Coming off my last RTT, Despairing mode came online and I started wondering how it was even possible to lose 13 games in a row. I’m currently sitting in Acceptance, and hope to stay there for the rest of the season. The most recent event still hasn’t posted their ITC scores, but at present I’m ranked 5500 or so, out of more than twelve thousand, which I’m fine with.
This is a weird moment for me. Bar one game, I’ve played literally nothing but Dark Angels since 5th edition, when I got into the hobby properly (I’d painted models before, but never actually played a game until 2013 or so). They’re my first and favorite army, and I’m not getting rid of them or anything, but I’m ready to try something new. Lord knows what the new T’au will look like, but I think it’ll be nice to try something that deviates from the “3+ save, small model count, extremely buff-aura-reliant” archetype I’ve spent so much of my time on. I’ve amassed a borderline ridiculous collection, and the only reason I’m not already playing them is that I don’t want to learn all their rules just to forget and re-learn them next year. The switch isn’t a question of my enthusiasm for the game waning – over the last six months I’m playing more than I ever have – just a desire to try on something else, see if it fits me better.
My wife asked me, when I got back from my latest debacle, if I was going to keep doing this. I think she meant it more from a COVID-safety or time-away-from-home standpoint, but as usual I took it as more of an existential crisis. She’s right to ask the question. I don’t love waking up early and messing up my back just to hand easy points to whoever matches into my sorry ass. I feel like a clown sometimes when I’m three turns into my second game of the day and still can’t remember to use my stupid apothecary that I paid for. And the state of the game right now is improving but still somewhat dismal, with certain factions being clearly over- or under-matched and enough layered-up rules that I’m constantly in over my head. Empirical evidence indicates that there is no chance, given the army I play and the skills I possess, that I win even a single game. I could save myself an afternoon of grief and thirty bucks. I got shit to do around the house anyway. These are all good reasons for me to knock it the hell off and stay home. All that, and yet.
I didn’t waver for a second. Yes, I’m going to keep doing this. I’m still racing against time to get a non-Blunderdome tournament win with my Dark Angels somewhere in 9th edition. It’s starting to look possible, even as my self-imposed twin deadlines of a new T’au Empire codex and the end of the ITC season are looming somewhat more closely now. That’s not why I search BCP weekly and find some shark’s mouth to jam my head into. I do it because this game is dumb as hell and everything sucks, but goddamn is it fun, and organized play, even on my failing baby-brained level, is still the best way to play it.
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