SRM’s Road to The US Open Seattle Part 7: Grot Me Wrong

I’m not gonna say “I was wrong” or “I accidentally lied” as a lead-in here because that feels underhanded. I already have your click and no longer need to bait you. Instead, I’ll spell it out in terms both uncontroversial and, to me at least, somewhat unexpected:

I really like Warhammer 40,000.

SRM’s Road to the Roadshow: US Open Seattle 2022: Part 7: Grot Me Wrong: I didn’t even play against orks but this is the best I’ve got and you can’t stop me

Let’s wind back ever so slightly. I was able to get in one practice game to use everything in my list once before heading out, and it was against that most meta of competitors, Indomitus-centric Necrons. In this game I got to use Heretic’s Pyre for those coveted 72 flamer shots (expensive and not very useful against guys who get back up), powerfist some Skorpekhs right in the junk (owns), and find out just how useful Armour of Contempt is (very). The game went well for me and I had a decent idea what my army did. I perused the player’s pack and Wars of Faith just long enough for both to slide off my Teflon-slick consciousness. I stopped hyperventilating and second guessing myself for long enough to finally crack open Administratum and build my roster in there, and by gum those Go On Hammerers have really outdone themselves. That finally eased my anxiety about Crusade being Too Much, and with that I packed my stuff and flew off to Seattle Tacoma. Strap in, strap on, strap around(?), and get ready to join me for four days of Warhammer, food, beer, and tasting notes for 2/3 of the above. I’ll leave it up to you to guess which.

Day 0:

Driving to my local podunk airport was easy as could be, and I showed up 45 minutes before boarding. The guy behind the counter got snippy with me showing up so close to my flight, but this was not my first, second, or even third rodeo, and I was through security in 7 minutes. On my flight I sat next the only other masked individual on the plane, read 41 pages of Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, and slept for the remainder of my sub-60 minute flight.

I was picked up by my friend/listener/Goonhammer Open US Crusade champion Quinn, who was going to be playing in the GT with his Ynnari. The 25.2 miles between the airport and the venue took about an hour to drive, which I have been told is extremely normal. We listened to power metal and talked about Warhammer. It was a quality drive, and he gave me a 90s Necromunda Bounty Hunter at the end of it, which I am extremely stoked to paint up.

I arrived before my roommate, Colin Ward of both Goonhammer and Legalized Mischief fame. With some time to kill, I investigated my models for breaks. KR cases are generally pretty good for transit, but I’ve seen enough porters yeet my checked bags to know that something will break sooner or later. High Marshal Helbrecht’s Iron Halo had snapped clean off, made all the more frustrating since he wasn’t even in my list. That was it fortunately, and now would be as good a time as any to talk about my army. I detailed my specific list in my previous post, but here’s a picture of it for the visual learners out there:

Black Templars. Credit: SRM

Lunch was at the hotel bar, a caprese salad and an African Amber from Mac and Jack’s brewing. It was toasty, smooth, and exactly what I was looking for. Real solid beer. The salad had too much balsamic on it but I can’t mainline four days of fried gold like I used to, so I ate my veggies. The mozzarella on it was pretty decent.

People were filtering in and I ran into Doug and Todd from Tablewar. They were planning on catching a Mariners game. It was all the way into Seattle proper and my enthusiasm was tempered after finding out it would:

  1. Be about an hour each way by bus and walking
  2. Be in the nosebleeds and
  3. We’d likely have to miss both the early and late innings if we wanted to get there and back in time.

Instead, Colin showed up, and we scoped out Mexico Magico with Eric Lofgren from Variance Hammer. It was the kind of joint with Fiestaware plates and warm tortilla chips at the table and I had a plate of wholly adequate but extremely economical tacos. I had a hazy IPA from 7 Seas Brewing and it was decent. We hit up TerraCrux Games afterwards, which I would later learn is the FLGS for many attendees in the Crusade event. It was shockingly well appointed, with no fewer than 7 Black Templars army boxes, some hard to find or recently out of production kits, and at least one of basically everything that had come out in the last year. Games of 40k, AoS, and Star Wars Legion were all going down, and it had real Uncle’s Basement Energy. I would gladly game there were I local.

We walked around the surrounding area then headed back to the hotel, checked out the still-in-progress gaming hall and vendor area, then hung out at the TOs cocktail hour/mixer thing. It was basically just around 2 dozen nerds drinking in a hotel conference room, and this particular nerd had a 7 Seas Pilsner that was wholly adequate. I’m starting to think they’re a strictly okay brewery.

Day 1:

It’s finally the day to play some Warhammer, but the Narrative doesn’t start until like 8 so there’s a lot of time to kill. Colin, Rob and I got some banger breakfast paninis and got back in time for their first round of the GT. With hours to go, I hit up the vendor area and bought a Black Templars Combat Patrol and two of the event-exclusive Company Champions, mere hours after saying I didn’t need one. There was a sneaky note in the Eventbrite listing saying each ticket came with a $10 credit to use at the store there, but it was in the fine print and every single person I talked to about it that weekend had no idea about the voucher. Basically the store staff would cross out the Warhammer logo and give you $10 off, or at least they did with me to get me to leave. Feeling like a clever and special boi, I did the mental math and even with $10 off, Washington’s 10% sales tax made that Combat Patrol more expensive than it would be in my home state of Oregon. I didn’t get into this hobby because I’m good with money.

I did a few circuits of the gaming hall, checked in on games by other Goonhammer folks, and scoped out the armies around the event. While there was the expected smatterings of Tyranids, Tau, Eldar, Grey Knights, and Thousand Sons, some wildcards actually brought armies that were sick as hell. There was an all-Kroot army, some real dang cool Knights stomping around, no fewer than three Guard players with Baneblade chassis vehicles, and one absolute mad lad with a Grey Knights Thunderhawk. I checked in on him multiple times during the event and gave him a Badcast Bizcard. I don’t think he won a single game but he was living his best life.

Demographically, this was the biggest group of white dudes with beards I’ve seen in years, and I live in central Oregon. These were the kinds of stray thoughts I had as I sat down for the traditional Goonhammer Hot Dog Lunch from the Flamin [sic] Grill in the convention center. I would rate it at a sub-7-Eleven level tube of technically beef. In my hotel room, I FaceTimed my cat because she missed me and my wife because she missed me slightly less. Desperate for something to actually do, I finally had my wish granted when Eric Lofgren met me for a pre-Crusade practice game around 3pm.

Pregaming, But Not That Kind

I was almost immediately dumpstered. He had a pretty classic Craftworld Eldar force, and after my first turn it was all downhill. I was tabled on turn 3, and for my troubles I killed 11 Guardians, 3 Windrider Jetbikes, and his Jetbike Autarch. I played an absolutely unfocused game and he played his army with precision. I realized I had almost no answer for an army like his. He would go on to table almost everyone he played by turn 3 in the Crusade. I had a room temperature Elysian Space Dust IPA from the aforementioned subpar grill. I’ve had it before, it’s a pretty classic West Coast IPA, and somewhat ubiquitous. I can buy it at my local pharmacy.

Eric and I got dinner afterwards, which is a wild thing to have before the first game of an event but that’s the timeline we’re working with here. I had a damn good burger and a Mac and Jack’s Black Cat Porter. They’re kind of old school in their beer styles but they do those styles damn well. Eric and I talk about Warhammer, epidemiology, and what we’re expecting from the event. It’s a quality hang.

Black Templars vs. Eldar. Credit: SRM

Around 8pm we finally get to start the Crusade Narrative. About 2 dozen of us gather around Zach Rochner and Mike Brandt, who walk us through what this event will entail. 2 teams – Order and Ruin – would duke it out over Vigilus. Over the course of these next 6 games, we would be competing in a War of Faith, using the War of Faith Crusade mission pack. Each round, we would be given a token with a vague objective – “Secure Facilities”, “Minimize Losses”, etc. – with no explicit instructions for what they mean. Zach would then come by during the battle and comment on how we were doing with those orders from on high, hopefully nudging us in the right direction. These tokens also dictated what tables we’d play at, as each had a matching token. Lastly, we would also be tracking Fame, rewarded for noble and valiant acts, and Infamy, rewarded for cowardly or failson-adjacent acts. That’s foreshadowing, dear reader.

Game 1

Black Templars vs. Admech. Credit: SRM and Pendulin

My first game of the event proper was against Goonhammer’s own Pendulin, whose Administratum tool had made this entire Crusade possible for me. A quick note on Pendulin – he is one of the most infectiously enthusiastic people I’ve met in my time in this hobby, and an absolute delightful human being, kind of like a human border collie. In our 50PL game, we were on a table with two big boxes of Ork ruins that were extremely easy to hide in. He had Admech with a comically skewed 6 Kastellan Robots and a smattering of cheaper units supporting them. Turn 1 he yeets them across the table with a Veil of Darkness-adjacent ability and wipes my Aggressors, and his Ruststalkers charge into my Orky house and kill my Intercessors. Wholly hemmed into my deployment zone, I kill the rusty bois and hide in the house, where the robots can neither see nor enter. The problem is, I’m already gaining infamy and I can’t score in this building, so it’s either run out the clock and lose or charge forward in a glorious Charge of the Light Brigade-esque forlorn hope. Buddy, I’ve listened to The Trooper in the triple digits at this point in my life, so you bet your keister I charged out of that building.

Black Templars vs. Admech. Credit: SRM and Pendulin

I was summarily tabled on turn 3.

Day 2:

There was a sign in front of the Marriott M Club that referred to it as the “MCLUB”, no spaces, all caps, so for the rest of the event I referred to it as the McLub. This joke never got old for me, and my companions politely chuckled at this joke-adjacent statement every time to spare my ego. In the McLub I loaded up my plate with room temperature bacon and eggs and oodles of fruit. There were a pair of Starbucks-branded coffee machines with touchscreens where you could order whatever drink you wanted. In light of recent events, these Mechabaristas are scabs and should be treated as such. Also, a hot tip: you can just walk into these places. Nobody cares. The person scooping 69° eggs into a warming trough genuinely does not care if your room key is D-Luxx or whatever. Anyway, I grabbed a fistful of granola bars and bananas because snacking can be tricky at cons.

Game 2

Black Templars vs. Genestealer Cults. Credit: SRM and Max

My first game of the day was with Max, a Tacoma local and Goonhammer reader. Sup bud. He had Genestealer Cults, an army I hadn’t played since Adepticon 2019, but with much smaller Black Templars. I baited a multi-unit charge with my Primaris Crusaders and tanked most of his army with Transhuman Physiology and some good save rolls. While they held up the heavy hitters, my Aggressors and Intercessors wiped out his infantry, and my Impulsor point-blank vaporized his Cult Primus with a multimelta. I tabled him on turn 3, but he was an absolutely delightful opponent and we’re friends now.

Black Templars vs. Genestealer Cults. Credit: SRM and Max

In this game we’d get fame each turn for having our warlords in melee. At -1 Fame, I was determined to get Marshal Siegward into hand to hand and get back in the game. Well, this game went so quickly that by the time my Marshal got out of his hover El Camino there weren’t any xenos left to smite. Now at -6 Fame, I decided it was time to fully lean into Infamy. My on the fly lore here was that Marshal Siegward was a nepotism hire, the distant nephew of High Marshal Helbrecht and an absolute dip. He wasn’t even a favored nephew, he’d get a couple scratch tickets and an age-inappropriate sixer for Christmas from the High Marshal. The Crusade was going well entirely in spite of this dingus, and over the next few games he did little to inspire a different story.

Marshal Siegward, the Failson Himself. Credit: SRM

Max and I got lunch at the hotel bar, which I’ll be straight up, was pretty dang good. I had their turkey BLTA and a side Caesar salad, which served as a pair of lunches for my bird-like stomach. The turkey and BLT parts of that sandwich were great, and the A, the avocado, was genuinely a game changer. Adding one more texture to a sandwich is seldom unwelcome. I had a DruBru Hefeweizen with it which was light, crisp, and refreshing. There’s a certain mountain air je ne sais quoi to good pilsners and hefes on the West Coast, and this one had it.

Game 3

Black Templars vs. Deathwing. Credit: SRM and Jake

Game 3 of the event was against Jake, a Goonhammer reader and Badcast listener. He had a Deathwing army, something I hadn’t really played against since early 6th edition. They’re much harder to kill now than they were then, it turns out. This game was a brutal war of attrition, as we would trade units and I’d roll dozens of dice at a time only to bounce off with the majority of my attacks. For instance, my Aggressors using Auspex Scan and then Overwatch to fire a combined 24d6 flamer shots at a unit of Deathwing Knights, and I only killed 3 of them. This game was such a grinding stalemate that Zach came over and told me to roll a die when I kill a unit and let him know the result. I rolled a 5 and let him know, and he motioned me over to a quiet corner of the hall. He handed me a phone and Mike Brandt was on the line. He said the carnage of our battle had attracted the attention of a pack of Ork Kommandos; do I let them pass or do I attack? I said I attack, and they respected my show of strength and joined me for the battle.

Ork Kommandos. Credit: SRM, Jake, and Games Workshop

I was given a lovely squad of painted Kommandos for the mission, who infiltrated in on turn 3. I had them run up, pee on one relic, and finally put some points on the scoreboard. When the game ended on turn 5, there was a smattering of models left on the table and as I had scored some points, it was a victory for my Templars. I was now at -11 Fame. Jake was a fun guy to game with, and his army was a tough match for my bois.

Game 4

Black Templars vs. Dark Eldar. Credit: SRM and Perry

I enjoyed another slightly warm Elysian Space Dust IPA while I set up for Game 4 against Perry, another Goonhammer reader, and his Dark Eldar. This is an army that’s been a personal bugbear of mine since 5th edition, so I was a little worried going in. This was also our first big game at 100PL, so I was extra wary of all the Dark Lances that would be coming my way. Surprisingly, his army didn’t have that many, as it was a true raiding party with elements of all three branches of the Dark Eldar army, with a block of Grotesques and another of Clawed Fiends supporting all the Wyches, Incubi, and other Drukhari standards. These were spilling out of a Webway Gate dead center on the table, which was a tricky thing to deploy around as I could get charged right out of it.

Black Templars vs. Dark Eldar. Credit: SRM and Perry

Turn 1 was pretty low-yield for both of us even with him going first, with poor damage rolls on his part and good saves on mine. I positioned around that Gate and was able to limit his charge targets somewhat, making it a smidge easier to weather that turn 2 storm of assaults. With some canny use of Vicious Riposte to trade my smol Crusaders for his Incubi, I got to start my turn 2 off right and my Repulsor Executioner started wiping out like 3 units a turn. I kept my Emperor’s Champion in my Impulsor while his co-passengers the Primaris Sword Brethren ran out, and naturally when that Impulsor got blown up next turn the Champion went with it. Perry also failed a clutch charge with his Clawed Fiends that would have seen him tie up my right flank, so instead I Heretic’s Pyred them with my Aggressors and wiped them out with shooting. Lastly, my Repex got to shoot all its small arms fire at his Archon, who promptly failed his first 2++ save and was boltered to death by the following 17 wounds or so. This game was pretty brutal, and we called it after turn 3 as he was running out of models and I was starting to run away with it. Perry and I are friends now, and we hung out a ton more over the weekend.

I don’t know who took this picture of me during this game but it was in the back end and by god am I gonna use it

Trivia was next, but Rob informed me it was not what I was looking for. I was expecting the very traditional pub trivia, with teams coming together, filling out their answers, and so on. Instead this was more like a Jackbox game, where you have a trivia app on your phone and whoever gets the multiple choice question right first wins. That’s not what I’m about, so Rob, Perry, Jack, Andrew, Quinn, myself, plus two more folks I can’t quite recall went out for sushi at TheKoi next door. We had a comically massive sashimi bowl, a couple California rolls, and a couple spicy tuna rolls. The fish was delish and it made quite the dish. I paired it with a Sapporo, a not especially great lager that somehow is always elevated by eating in a sushi joint. It was slightly dry and light, and paired wonderfully with the enormous plate of melt in your mouth raw fish in front of us. It was a high quality hang, and I probably ate about 2lbs of fish.

Day 3:

Whoever wanted to start the narrative at 8am is a sadist.

I got like 6 hours of sleep and awoke to an email telling me the flowers I’d sent my mom for Mothers Day had been canceled. I called my folks to confirm this and they had indeed been delivered, with a personal note from me and everything. This caused no small amount of early AM agida, which I pondered over while I sat alone in the empty McLub with breakfast. One of the Mechabaristas had chosen not to work, and I was relegated to getting an Americano, a backhanded compliment in a cup. This is why you hire union labor.

Game 5

Black Templars vs. Sisters. Credit: SRM and Greg

Game 5 was against a dadgamer named Greg and his Sisters. This was my only game against a non-listener/non-Goonhammer reader of the entire event, and he was an absolute delight. Maybe there’s correlation there. His list was a broad smattering of largely footbound Sisters units, replete with Morvenn Vahl, Ephrael Stern, and her little elf buddy. Turn 1 was unproductive, with me moving up the table and doing some damage to his Rhinos, or “Shrinos” as he cutely called them due to the churches on their backs. He only killed a single Crusader in return, which opened me up to start charging away on turn 2. My Crusaders and Primaris Crusaders tied up most of his army while my heavier hitters moved on in. While my Crusaders both got whittled down I returned the favor to the rest of his army.

The Emperor’s Champion vs. Morvenn Vahl. Credit: SRM and Greg

On turn 3 we struck a deal – if my Hellblasters don’t shoot Vahl, he’ll let the Emperor’s Champion autopass his 9″ charge to get stuck in and they can duke it out. I oblige, and the Emperor’s Champion does what the Emperor’s Champion does best and promptly un-personed both Vahl and a Canoness in the next round. When Stern and her pocket Juggalo showed up, I just moved around them and declared I would kill them each turn without devoting any resources to them, again scoring max infamy. My Templars soundly won this one, but Greg was a fantastically fun and engaged opponent and we talked a smidge about historical wargames. I wish he was my uncle.

Lunch was my remaining half BLTA from the previous day, and it was surprisingly still crunchy and not at all soggy despite hanging out in the hotel room’s minifridge. I really do think avocado’s greatest appeal is as a textural element and not as a flavor-based one, but I’m sure some Californian will go off on me in the comments. I will not read said comments because for me this as a write-only medium.

Game 6

Black Templars vs. Iron Warriors. Credit: SRM and Rowan

Game 6 was the one to beat – Rowan and his Iron Warriors. His list had 3 Decimator Daemon Engines, a Lord Discordant, a smattering of characters, Obliterators, some cultists to fill out the troop slots, and a Greater Goddamned Brass Scorpion. This wall of armor and the comical amount of mortal wounds it could dish out each turn made it a challenge for my team, so we strategized over who could take it on. With my ample anti-armor, native 5+ shrug save on mortal wounds, and rather good win record, we decided I would be the Scorpion hunter.

I got first turn and I immediately upended the entire battle by rushing towards 3/5 of the objectives I had to burn, making a big ol’ screen out of my Crusaders, and capping his Lord Discordant immediately with a Multimelta shot from my Impulsor, rolling a staggering 12 damage. I didn’t even know the dude was the lynchpin of his whole strategy, but it seemed like something I should make not alive anymore. I brought the Scorpion down to about half, as I figured focusing it down was more important than taking on the Decimators. The Scorpion got caught up on my screen while on turn 2 I’d already burned 3 objectives and blown up a Decimator while I chipped down the big baddie. He fell back with it and charged my Impulsor and Repulsor Executioner, which were foolishly close together. He trashed the Impulsor and I made another lucky boxcars on my Repex’s saves. On my go I used Power of the Machine Spirit for full BS, increased the BS further with my Techmarine, and danger closed the Brass Scorpion to death at point blank range on turn 3. From there it was mostly mopping up and weathering his remaining storm of mortal wounds and Obliterator fire. On turn 5, he only had his Oblits left and I was well ahead on points, scoring me victory.  Despite all this action, the outcome had been decided from the very beginning. Let me explain.

Black Templars vs. Iron Warriors. Credit: SRM and Rowan

The mission had 5 objectives spread across the midfield and his deployment zone, and he would score a low amount of points gradually as the game went on. As the attacker, I could burn these objectives with a remarkably easy action and score huge in the endgame. The problem with this is at only 4 points per objective per turn for the defender, the attacker can automatically win on turn 1 if they can just get a trio of units into the midfield. With an averagely fast army, it took me until turn 2 to win. I decided not to tell him this fact as he was visibly feeling down from my turn 1 fusillade and I wanted us to get a whole game in. I wasn’t about to suck the wind out of his sails right when his Brass Scorpion was starting to wreck shop, and I really wanted to kill that 5lbs resin arachnid. I don’t like this mission, as even for something that doesn’t have to be as balanced, it still feels bad to effectively lose immediately. It all but confirms that Crusade missions aren’t playtested as much as Matched Play missions, and makes me even wonder if they’re playtested at all.

I walked around the hall one last time, catching the tail ends of some games, checking in on some of my friends and acquaintances, and perusing the store shelves I didn’t need to peruse one last time. I stopped by the photo booth area with my army, which at this point was unattended. I asked a person standing nearby if it was cool for me to use the photobooth, and he said “I don’t know, probably?” which I took as permission enough to utilize it. I quickly snapped some glamor shots of my infamous Black Templars, and scooted my army back up to the hotel room.

Black Templars. Credit: SRM

Post-Crusade, I posted up at the bar like a conquering cowboy of old. I had an Arrowpoint Amber from Bainbridge Brewing, which was not as good as the African Amber from Mac and Jack’s I had on my first day. It was still pleasant, and a bit on the malty side. The bartender asked me if I was “here for that Warhammer thing” and if “I won”. I struggled to give them a decisive answer, so I told them the real prize was the friends I made along the way. I was not joking.

The Awards Ceremony

The awards ceremony was tight, clocking in at under 30 minutes. All of the remaining nerds were gathered around a rapidly assembled stage in front of the life-size Space Marine, with a projector screen to display the results. Doug Johnson of Tablewar walked up to me, gave me a hug, and in a Hail Hydra moment told me to shout “TABLEWAR!” when he was announced as the winner of his pod. I asked him to return the favor and shout “BADCAST!” should I win an award. We both obliged.

SRM The Infamous

When the Crusade awards were being handed out, my slightly misspelled name was plastered across the projector screen as the most infamous player and Crusade Villain. I was walked on as the Crusade Dirtbag and was presented the Trash Goblin award for my dishonorable play. I accepted the certificate and glass trophy proudly, before having my picture taken and engaging in the physical challenge part of the ceremony. You see, there was a large steamer trunk full of untold treasures, and as a winner, there would be a 5 second span where you could grab a prize. I knelt before the trunk and two men held it open like some kind of nonlethal Ark of the Covenant before counting down. My eyes darted around, making instant value judgments the likes of which have never been seen outside of Supermarket Sweep. After passing over an AoS Battle Journal and a Warhammer Underpants starter set, I locked eyes on a Horus Heresy Character Series box. I greedily nabbed it, desperately hoping it was a cool Primarch and not Lorgar. Fortunately, the box contained Sanguinius, and I found myself the proud owner of the prettiest Primarch.

Blood Angels Primarch Sanguinius
Blood Angels Primarch Sanguinius. Credit: Jack Hunter

I had to immediately make a second circuit around the ceremony as it was announced that Team Order had won the Crusade event, and I piled in for our little league baseball team photo. I was presented a tiny medal, adding one more piece of hardware to my collection. As we filtered out, a few of us hung out with Zach and gave him some feedback on the event, thanked him for all his hard work, and said some goodbyes. Perry offered to buy me a steak, and I was not going to say no to such a generous offer. I FaceTimed my cat once more, and headed to the hotel bar for steaks, beers, and a quality hang with Perry and Eric Lofgren.

The 10oz NY steak was with whipped potatoes, asparagus, and a lovely pan sauce. It was medium rare, perfectly tender, and excellently seasoned. I paired it with another Black Cat Porter from Mac and Jack’s, which as previously stated, is a good damn beer. We talked for a good 3 hours about mostly non-Warhammer stuff; jobs, our spouses, our spouses’ jobs, and so on. It genuinely lit a fire under my ass to get my career back in order, as it’s kind of a mess right now, but I’ll save that conversation for a different third-mid life crisis screed. Our dinner together served to strengthen our bonds of friendship and act as a liminal space between nerd summer camp and the real world, and it was a beautiful end to a fantastic long weekend of gaming.

That night I crammed my army, my prizes, and my clothes into my suitcase, stayed awake slightly too late, and finally let myself rest after the most high intensity period of social interaction I’d had in over two years. I met so many listeners and readers, all of whom were gracious, kind, and fun to hang out with. I had a genuine moment of male fashion talk with Frank, the hero of the Crusade, about boots and boot care. His Doc Martens were on the way out and my Timberlands had held up remarkably well after 7 years of near constant use. You take care of your boots and they’ll take care of you, friends.

The Voyage Home

My alarm went off at 6:30am, a time I like to pretend does not exist. Time was too tight to hit the McLub, so I grabbed an Uber to the airport and bounced. I would have taken a Lyft but they were, I shit you not, $100 more expensive, so I went with option B. I rode with Neeraj, who was enthusiastically talking about Wild Wild Country on Netflix for the entirety of our 40 minute ride. It was “so crazy, like oh my god” in his words. I rated him 5 stars and gave him a 20% tip.

Security (Seacurity? Whatever) at SeaTac took a hot minute. The drug dog deemed me unworthy of attention. He had Don’t Tread On Me patches sewn onto his K9 vest, and no dog deserves that indignity. Once through, I had a hot yet slightly gamey chocolate croissant and cold brew at Dilettante Mocha Cafe, one of SeaTac’s safer bets. Here’s my hot traveler tip: never eat at Stonehouse, that place is dismal. I once had a pizza that was literally a tortilla with a smidge of red sauce on it there and it cost 12 dollars. Trail Head BBQ has growlers for $35 which is highway robbery. I can get a growler fill at my gas station for under 10 bucks and it won’t be from a consolation prize brewery like Alaskan Brewing. Evergreen is a much better food option, and if you go to the pre-security checkpoint Starbucks you’re dead to me.

As I waited at my gate, I saw the grab and go convenience store was offering lasagna to go, because that’s what I want before a flight, a solid pound and a half of pasta and ricotta. My flight was brief, and I tried to catch a quick nap while the person next to me in what I thought was a Protomen t-shirt that actually said “PRO-LIFE PRO-GUN PRO-GOD PRO-USA all day every day” rattled on about how proud she was of her prison guard child. She was praying as we landed so at least she listened to the band before buying the t-shirt. The plane landed in one piece, I hopped into my wholly unremarkable compact car, and drove back home, my journey complete.

Final Thoughts

This event was the first US Open in the Pacific Northwest, and despite the initial shock of Tacoma most certainly not being Seattle, the venue was fantastic, the staff and people playing were a joy, and the whole experience was fairly smooth. It was clear the Crusade Narrative event was kind of a first draft – we were even thanked for being guinea pigs in no uncertain terms. This part of the event seemed somewhat understaffed, and as a result couldn’t quite live up to all their ambitions. Things like the Kommandos showing up, the vague objectives, and meta storytelling options were all extremely cool but felt like they fell off about halfway through Day 2. We didn’t get much input or information, so I genuinely don’t know if they did anything, and I don’t think anyone else got anything quite as significant as my Ork Kommando reinforcements. I also think Crusade is, as a whole, a lot. Only about half the players were actually tracking all the Crusade scores, agendas, and so on, and half were just playing to have a good time without the intensity of the GT. I think the issue is that Crusade asks just as much mentally of its players as traditional Matched Play, and while it is less competitive, it is no more casual, if that makes sense.

I painted this guy between landing back home and publishing this article, that’s how stoked I am rn. Credit: SRM

I came out of this event not just pleased with the weekend, but genuinely excited for 40k again in a way I hadn’t been in months. We’re having some mid-edition blues lately, with some oppressive codices and balance issues, a price increase, and the general mental and emotional pressures of life in TYOL 2022. I was very much feeling burnt out on 40k right before heading out to the event, but by the end of day 1 I was already jonesing to get home and paint. Hell, between spinning up this article and publishing it, I’ve already built and painted a whole slew of new stuff for my Templars. These tentpole events are what really drive a huge amount of my enthusiasm for all flavors of ‘ham, and despite the Goonhammer Open only being 9 months ago, I feel like I had already forgotten that. Hopefully this time the lesson will stick, and I’ll carry this reinvigorated love of all things Warhammer into the NOVA Open and beyond.

Catch you on the road to NOVA, warhams.

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