SRM’s Roundabout to Pendleton: Squig City Casino Royale

So What Is All This

In order to break a three-year period of employment I would charitably call “inconsistent”, I returned to school in February to study UI/UX design. This does not matter very much to you, but it does explain why I was unable to attend Adepticon in March. For the duration of that convention, I felt like I was locked out of an absolute rager, bass thumping through the walls as I impotently rattled a locked doorknob to get in. It’s for my own good, I tell myself, but it still hurts. Between 12 hours of classes per week, an equivalent amount of homework, a boatload of work for Goonhammer, my various commission projects, and maintaining a healthy relationship with my spouse, I had to become my own project manager. My days became a regimented series of designated time blocks, with rare opportunity to carve out hobby time. Only after a month of this did I realize I hadn’t seen any of my friends in 40 days.

Fortunately, a competitive 40k league in my local community in March. Not only did this finally put a stop to my somewhat self-imposed isolation by forcing me to leave my house once a week, but as my life’s rhythm started to stabilize, it let me reacquaint myself with 40k. I went 3 and 2 in this 5-game league, earning the slightly-coveted second place spot on the podium and securing silver. Yes, it was on a technicality as the league organizer won gold and as a result everyone basically moved up a place, but a silver-plated W is still a silver-plated W. More importantly, it gave me the excuse and social pressure to actually see my friends again, remind myself that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and show me there is life outside the interfaces of Figma and Zoom.

What I’ll Be Playing

SRM’s Black Templars at the Squig City Casino Royale. Credit: SRM

The Squig City Casino Royale is Eastern Oregon’s first 40k GT, held by Pendleton Wargaming at the Wildhorse Resort and Casino in Pendleton, OR. It’s a four-ish hour drive from my home in central Oregon, but you basically go north on 97 for two hours then east on 84 for another two hours and you’re there. It’s a hike for sure; less arduous than the trip from here to Tacoma but likely less photogenic. I’d be riding up with my buddy (and Codex Creeps teammates) Nik, Alex, and Forest and we’d be staying at a nearby hotel in downtown Pendleton.

At time of writing, I have exclusively played Black Templars in nearly 50 games of tenth edition 40k. I see no reason to do otherwise. This is the one army I’ve seemingly dialed into, himboing my way through the early days of an edition and winning more games than not through a combination of luck, skill, and the insistence that any wall is a door waiting to happen. The league helped me dial in my list, showing the strengths and weaknesses of my army – one I would change little about going into Pendleton. Below you’ll find my army list, rife with chainswords and devoid of higher cognitive function.

Pendleton Black Templars

Pendleton (2000 Points)

Space Marines
Black Templars
Righteous Crusaders
Strike Force (2000 Points)


Captain (95 Points)
• 1x Heavy bolt pistol
1x Master-crafted power weapon
1x Relic Shield
• Enhancements: Perdition’s Edge

Castellan (65 Points)
• 1x Combi-weapon
1x Master-crafted power weapon

High Marshal Helbrecht (120 Points)
• Warlord
• 1x Ferocity
1x Sword of the High Marshals

Lieutenant (100 Points)
• 1x Master-crafted power weapon
1x Neo-volkite pistol
1x Storm Shield
• Enhancements: Tännhauser’s Bones

Lieutenant (65 Points)
• 1x Heavy bolt pistol
1x Master-crafted bolter
1x Power fist

Techmarine (65 Points)
• 1x Forge bolter
1x Grav-pistol
1x Omnissian power axe
1x Servo-arm
• Enhancements: Witchseeker Bolts


Intercessor Squad (80 Points)
• 1x Intercessor Sergeant
• 1x Bolt pistol
1x Bolt rifle
1x Power fist
• 4x Intercessor
• 4x Bolt pistol
4x Bolt rifle
4x Close combat weapon

Primaris Crusader Squad (140 Points)
• 1x Primaris Sword Brother
• 1x Power weapon
1x Pyre pistol
• 5x Primaris Initiate
• 3x Astartes chainsword
5x Bolt pistol
5x Close combat weapon
5x Heavy bolt pistol
2x Power fist
• 4x Primaris Neophyte
• 4x Astartes chainsword
4x Bolt pistol

Primaris Crusader Squad (140 Points)
• 1x Primaris Sword Brother
• 1x Power weapon
1x Pyre pistol
• 5x Primaris Initiate
• 3x Astartes chainsword
5x Bolt pistol
5x Close combat weapon
5x Heavy bolt pistol
2x Power fist
• 4x Primaris Neophyte
• 4x Astartes chainsword
4x Bolt pistol


Black Templars Impulsor (85 Points)
• 1x Armoured hull
1x Bellicatus missile array
1x Multi-melta
2x Storm bolter


Black Templars Gladiator Lancer (165 Points)
• 1x Armoured hull
1x Icarus rocket pod
1x Lancer laser destroyer
1x Multi-melta
2x Storm bolter

Land Raider (240 Points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
2x Godhammer lascannon
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Multi-melta
1x Storm bolter
1x Twin heavy bolter

Land Raider Redeemer (260 Points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
2x Flamestorm cannon
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Multi-melta
1x Storm bolter
1x Twin assault cannon

Outrider Squad (80 Points)
• 1x Outrider Sergeant
• 1x Astartes chainsword
1x Heavy bolt pistol
1x Twin bolt rifle
• 2x Outrider
• 2x Astartes chainsword
2x Heavy bolt pistol
2x Twin bolt rifle

Primaris Sword Brethren (140 Points)
• 1x Sword Brother Castellan
• 1x Heavy bolt pistol
1x Master-crafted power weapon
• 4x Primaris Sword Brother
• 3x Heavy bolt pistol
2x Power weapon
1x Thunder hammer
1x Twin lightning claws

Storm Speeder Thunderstrike (160 Points)
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x Stormfury missiles
1x Thunderstrike las-talon
1x Twin Icarus rocket pod

Exported with App Version: v1.12.0 (35), Data Version: v357

The star of the show is the Helbrick: High Marshal Helbrecht, the Lieutenant with Tannhauser’s Bones, and a 10 man Crusader squad in a Land Raider Redeemer. This squad’s only weakness was that it was previously in a Land Raider Crusader. The only unit they haven’t reliably taken out in one round of combat is a Hekaton Land Fortress with Void Armor. It’s a lot of wounds with a 5+ Feel No Pain for not many points, and the character combo really racks up the bonuses, giving them Lethal hits on 5+ and +1 Strength for kicks.

Backing them up is the Heckbrick: a Captain and Lieutenant leading another Crusader squad but in a standard Godhammer Land Raider. This provides heavier fire support, makes my opponent’s have to weigh which Raider to shoot at, and provides a similar (if somewhat less deadly) melee threat. Using a free Armor of Contempt for more durability or Crusader’s Wrath for +1 AP should make that captain worth his points. He’s also got Perdition’s Edge so he can hit a smidge harder, and because I had like 25 points leftover. My third main melee threat is 5 Sword Brethren and a Castellan in an Impulsor, which have in some games done nothing and in others taken out Canis Rex in one charge. Ideally I’d have 10 of them in a Land Raider, but I haven’t had time to paint those guys.

Keeping these vehicles topped off is a Techmarine with Witchseeker Bolts loaded into his Forge Bolter, which is one of the funniest combos in the game. This stupid 10 point upgrade has let my stupid mechanic reliably cause 4-6 Devastating Wounds to any psyker I want dead within 24″, up to and including Greater Daemons and the Yncarne. A Storm Speeder Thunderstrike usually deep strikes in to give me the opportunity to do the Brian Johnson voice and make a vehicle go away, with the aid of the Gladiator coming out of reserves and whiffing or instantly earning its keep. Lastly are the things missing from my league list – Outriders and Intercessors, there largely for utility and screening. I didn’t get a chance to test this exact list before leaving, but it was so close to my league list that I felt pretty good about it.

Day 0 – Friday – In Which Roads Are Tripped

It was going to be a 4 hour drive, and Nik picked me up at 1. He’d be playing Blood Angels at the event, and had been cramming to hit Battle Ready in the weeks leading up to it. We drove around town, picked up our two Votann playing compatriots Forest and Alex, and hit the road in earnest after loading up the bed of Nik’s F-150. The metaphorical aux was all but shoved in my face, and I had to weigh what music would accompany us on our journey. I defaulted to a party playlist by Green Lung, one of my favorite currently recording metal bands. I’m yet to meet a dude who plays Warhammer who isn’t at least kind of okay with 4 hours of Dio and Judas Priest.

We stopped after about an hour in Madras, a small city notable for an aircraft museum, an alpaca ranch, and not all too much else. Alex snorted at the alpacas, derisively (and somewhat accurately) saying they look like if a “llama fucked an Ewok”. Madras would be our only stop, and an opportunity to fill up on gasoline and snacks. In a moment that would echo in my fifth game of the event, I hit a mental wall. I absolutely forgot not only what I could eat, but what I usually eat at all. After wandering the aisles like a lost child and being dragged back to the truck by Forest, I left with a yogurt, a Starbucks cold brew with soft top (not much of a Starby’s man but that’s my go-to if you were wondering), and a lot of bananas. As I would go on to remind my teammates over the course of the weekend, you don’t want your calves cramping in game 2, and fruit is in short supply at events.

The Columbia River from I-84 E. Credit: SRM

I knew there wouldn’t be the mountains and impossibly tall trees of the drive north to Washington, and I frankly expected the drive to just be farmland. Imagine my delight, surprise, and to-be-defined third emotion when we drove along the Columbia River and the John Day dam. It’s a genuinely beautiful area, marred by four lanes of blacktop. Nik comes up this way deer hunting every so often, and he let me know you can see bighorn sheep in the hills here. There’s campsites along the river, which I immediately clocked as one of the next places to take my little camper. Forest pointed out the Space Age gas station here as a place to buy mall ninja swords, and I regret not stopping. The rest of the drive was pleasant and largely resembled a Windows XP screensaver, with verdant fields and wind farms, cows and barn cats in the grass.

Blue skies, wide open spaces, and endless green fields remind me of my youth driving through Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on the way to Historicon with my dad. Every summer we’d make the 7ish hour drive from Northwest Connecticut, at times joined by my friends and other times just the two of us. I can’t look at the promise of a clear sky and sun-drenched field without imagining Napoleonic columns marching through them, Union troops setting up cannons behind the fences, or Picts surging out of the trees to overwhelm some Roman cohort or another. Alex echoed similar boyhood memories, but his were of Madcats and Summoners, Thunderbolts and other clanking battlemechs. Forest’s version was the armies of the 41st millennium, the same Space Marines and Orks we would soon be hurling at one another. These were multiple versions of the same memory, convergent fantasies dreamt on road trips years, miles, and lives apart. Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy these were not, but this is the exact kind of bonding road trips with your buddies are for.

Around 6pm we arrived in Pendleton, a largely flat expanse of plain with a big honkin’ casino off the highway and a cute little downtown. Said casino, the Wildhorse Resort, would be our ultimate destination, but we stopped at our hotel first. The Oxford Suites is a dated if folksy looking hotel with lumpy beds and friendly staff, and after dropping our stuff off we used our complimentary drink tickets at the hotel bar. I knew we were in trouble when the bartender asked Forest if he wanted 7up in his Old Fashioned. For those wondering, Don Draper’s favorite cocktail is muddled sugar, bitters, whiskey, orange peel/zest, and a cocktail cherry for garnish. During and shortly after Prohibition, muddling an entire orange slice and cherry as well was typical (and is still the pro move with cheap whiskey) but not everyone’s into the “fruit salad” varietal. Regardless, at no point should this be a whiskey 7-and-7. Confused but grateful for the free beverage, we downed our curious concoctions when, unbidden, the manager came by and said she’d make them over for us. Personally, asking for your order to be made over is something I find to be gauche as hell, but I’m not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. In an effort to smooth over any ill-will, she absolutely poured a double if not a triple. It tasted about right, and Forest and I were pleasantly toasty before the sun had even begin to go down.

The gaming area at Squig City Casino Royale. Credit: SRM

Our full compliment of Codex Creeps headed on over to the hotel – a dozen or so of us all told – and checked in, scoped out the space (pictured here a day later) and navigated around the casino. I do believe that anyone who has played a sufficient number of 90s first person shooters can navigate any man-made space with little effort, but casinos still confound me. I find them to be profoundly sad, filled with screaming 3-dimensional pop-up ads that payout just often enough and in just large enough increments to keep people enthralled in their Skinner Boxes for hours at a time. You have not seen sadness until you’ve seen an adult human being impotently pawing at the screen of a video slot machine that resembles a match-3 mobile game, when you know it’s not a touchscreen interface but they clearly do not. Even three sheets to the wind, I had the wherewithal to know that my money escapes my clutches easily enough as is, and the last thing my ADHD needed was somewhere louder and brighter than the confines of my own mind. Whilst planning what to do next, we stopped at one of the many bars within and I ordered a Manhattan made with Angel’s Envy. This bartender was far more experienced than the last, and they made a damn good cocktail. Do I think Angel’s Envy is somewhat wasted in a mixed drink? Absolutely. Did I happily drain it anyway? Again, absolutely. We sketched out some of our concerns for the games to come, and made our plans for the evening.

Our group split up at this point; Kriegsie and a few of the rest played craps in an attempt to get out any of their bad dice rolling early, and we found out later that Shane actually broke even, which: good for him! That’s better than most people do! About half of us headed to Prodigal Son Brewing for dinner, and I was immediately thankful that they had the malt bills for several of their beers on the menu, as well as a few options on the menu for those like myself who have to navigate an allergen minefield every time they go out to eat. We had Eat Cheese Or Die!, their fried cheese curds, breaded in rice flour and served with marinara. I happily ate half the basket. The pro tip I will drop at this point is to have all the fruit and vegetables you can while at a convention or tournament, as most food offerings are going to be fried gold, sandwiches, or both. I followed my own advice and had a brisket salad, getting my barbecue fix and vegetable needs met at the same time. The meat’s tender and all but melts in your mouth, and the salad’s blueberries and candied pecans lend it a sweetness that beautifully offsets the earthier vegetable notes and savory brisket. It kind of serves the same role as a good BBQ sauce would. I washed this down with their Righteous Indignation Organic Red Ale. It’s beautifully malty, dry like an Irish stout, and good enough that I got a crowler to go, which currently occupies the top shelf of my fridge. We headed back to our rooms at the nearby Oxford Suites and called it a fairly early night. Staying up until 3am at a hotel bar becomes markedly less appealing the moment the clock strikes 12 on your 30th birthday, and if I don’t remind you that I’m 33, my knees will.

Day 1 – Saturday – In Which I Actually Play Warhammer

We got up early, in large part because nobody could sleep that well. We were down at the breakfast buffet around 7:30, Forest’s plans to hit the pool were thwarted by a locked door, and my plans to sleep well were thwarted by a mattress from hell and visitations from now fewer than four sleep paralysis daemons. Breakfast was drinkable black coffee, dry eggs, drier sausage, and some kind of potato. It was hearty if unremarkable, and I’m yet to find an egg/potato combo not immediately improved with Cholula. Round 1 was at 9, so we finished breakfast and have a leisurely mosey over to the event. This is also where my teammates first experienced my comically small display board in the flesh:

My stupid display board. Credit: SRM

It’s actually a rather nice looking display board, it’s just a display board for like, a Combat Patrol. After this event I will rehabilitate my old board, but until then, I’m carting around this firstborn-size tea tray for my Primaris-sized army.

Game 1 – The Ritual Vs. Jason’s Canoptek Court Necrons

Black Templars vs. Necrons at the Squig City Casino Royale GT. Credit: SRM and Jason

Jason’s list had essentially one of each available C’tan, a pair of Canoptek Doomstalkers, some Scarabs, a unit of Canoptek Acanthrites, and a very typical 6 Wraith block with a Technomancer. Much kvetching, grousing, and hand-wringing had been made about this particularly durable and frustrating unit by my teammates leading up to the event.

I killed it on turn 1.

My Techmarine opened the game by sniping the Technomancer out of said Wraith unit with his Precision Forge Bolter (Witchseeker Bolts continues to be the funniest 10 points you can spend), and my Redeemer torched the pesky bugaboos. The Helbrick spilled out and cut apart the rest. We had both taken fixed objectives for this first game, with his bevvy of monsters and machines giving me a seemingly obvious take of Bring it Down and Assassinate, while he confusingly took Engage on All Fronts and Cleanse. The only Cleanse of the game was his turn 1 play with the Wraiths, and their clocks were summarily cleaned/cleansed for their efforts. He reliably scored Engage by teleporting his C’tan all over the table, and the only thing keeping him completely off the back foot was my own poor target priority and some good save rolls on his beasties. Still, with each turn I would wear down another C’tan and strengthen my hold on the primary objectives. I absolutely underestimated the durability of each individual C’tan, but had the board control to score objectives each turn and ended the game with a Templar victory. Jason was a lovely opponent, and I’ll admit I was getting a little antsy as our round timer was winding down, but we had a good grindfest of a game.

Result: 67-38 Victory

Between games, I got to meet a 40k Badcast listener, who I believe was named Kris. He had a beautiful Sylvaneth army and was playing in the AoS narrative along with my pals Forest, Barkin, and Zac. We talked a bit and I scuttled off to lunch with my Codex Creeps crew. We ate at one of the restaurants in the casino, a sparse and kind of drab bingo hall of a joint called Traditions. I had the saddest, driest slab of chicken available atop a bed of salad greens. They didn’t have olive oil, so I just had some Tabasco sauce on it. It was on par with the premade salads you’d get in the grab-n-go section of an airport convenience store, and by the time it finally came out, my crew was mostly done eating and I was left to finish my sad salad in solitude. Upon exiting the restaurant, I was utterly disoriented by the sensory overload of the casino, so I waited for a group of nerds to walk by and tailed them back to the gaming area.

Game 2 – Take and Hold vs. Xavier’s Ironstorm Blood Angels

Black Templars vs. Blood Angels at the Squig City Casino Royale GT. Credit: SRM and Xavier

As no stranger to playing as Ironstorm and against Blood Angels, I felt I had Xavier’s army clocked from the getgo. 3 Redemptors, a Repex, a Gladiator, some screening infantry and a trio of Techmarines made up the bulk of his list, with a Death Company cruise missile for good measure. Before our game began in earnest, one of the servers at the casino came up to us as she was taking drink orders, and Xavier generously offered to buy the first round. One of the cool things about this venue was that staff would just come up to you and ask you if you wanted anything, you’d order then and there, and a short period of time later they’d be back at your table, reasonably-priced beverage in hand. The last time I got service like this was at NOVA 2022, and that was Rocco with a Michelob Ultra, so this was going to be an irrefutable improvement. They had Quilter’s Irish Death on draught, and that particular dark and complex friend of mine is Iron Horse Brewery’s best, so I gladly ordered one. It’s not quite a stout, not quite a porter, but malty, dark, roasty, and hearty just the same, with a touch of dryness. It’s probably a little strong for casual tournament sipping but at this point I’m just here to push toys around. We toast, we roll off, and he gets first turn.

His Death Company immediately found their way in front of my Land Raider Redeemer, where they promptly ate – and were eaten by – my Redeemer’s Overwatch fire. He tried to angle his Repex around to tag my Redeemer and was thwarted by some frankly abysmal dice on his part, and some decent saves on mine. Getting this angle required him to move his star tank hunter forward – right into charge range of the Helbrick. My Redeemer rolled out, took a brutal round of overwatch from the Repex, and dumped a dozen extremely angry dudes in black power armor into his hovering shoebox. High Marshal Helbrecht personally cut the tank in half while his pals chewed through the intervening Scouts. With my primary melee threat exposed, a fireworks show of plasma hit the squad, leaving a greatly depleted squad but Helbrecht still standing. When a damaged Dreadnought charged in, Helbrecht stared the walker down and killed it with his free fight phase mortal wounds before either of them could swing. The High Marshal ability – or the Care Bare Stare as I less(?) threateningly refer to it, rarely works, but when it does, you’ll hear me yeehawing from across the parking lot. Xavier dropped some troops behind my lines to score objectives, only to get his Inceptors torched and his Assault Intercessors taken out by my second Crusader squad. We traded Gladiators, but I had more pieces to play with at that point, and was able to focus his Dreadnoughts down from there. Xavier’s trio of Techmarines were keeping them topped off, mobile, and durable, but his early game luck kept rearing its ugly head and I was able to maintain board control while Helbrecht and pals did their work. Xavier was a great opponent, and even with a few mistakes and spikes of luck, he still kept me on my toes and we had a tight game.

Result: 93-76 Victory

With an hour and change before round 3, I walked around and checked out some of my teammates’ games. So far none of us had gotten paired into each other, and my teammates’ games were going pretty well. I was tempted to grab an ice cream cone at the movie theater, which Zac informed me was pretty much the only food available to a vegetarian like himself. I did the responsible thing and and scarfed some of the fruit and granola bars in my bag instead of having a second Ice Cream Lunch.

Game 3 – Vs. Kilen’s Hypercrypt Necrons

Black Templars vs. Necrons at the Squig City Casino Royale GT. Credit: SRM and Kilen

Kilen’s lovely cicada-shell green Necron army was pretty much how I pictured the typical Necron army in my mind: Two blocks of 20 Warriors with attendant characters, a Monolith, the Void Dragon, Nightbringer, Szeras, some Destroyers, the Yeehaw Pistolero Necron, and the typical Wraith block with a Technomancer. Said army deployed extremely aggressively, and I capitalized on that when I went first, taking the Void Dragon down to a single wound. His retaliation cost me the Impulsor, and I volleyed back by finishing off the Void Dragon and taking the Monolith down to a single wound as well. Here is where he informed me he forgot to Rapid Ingress his Nightbringer, and while I’m normally one to happily let players take moves back, do things they forgot and so on, I was already halfway through my shooting and a C’tan showing up would absolutely affect my choice of targets. He graciously understood, and instead brought it down on turn 3, where it whiffed a charge and was gunned down by my heavy metal parking lot. After some line of sight finagling, the Castellan in my Sword Brethren squad Epic Challenged his Technomancer, precision striking it out of the Wraiths and setting them up to get cleaned out next round. When Kilen finally brought down his brick of Warriors, Helbrecht and co. immediately wiped the unit. At the bottom of 4, he was down to a couple wraiths, backfield Warriors and Szeras, and I still had most of my assets on the table. A turn later and he just had some of his uppy-downy objective grabbers and that was it. He’d made a few mistakes early on that I punished, and my save rolls were on fire. More importantly, we were both laughing the whole time, and despite it being a pretty one-sided game, I think we both had a ton of fun. Kilen was my favorite opponent of the weekend, and I’d love a rematch.

Result: 88-42 Victory

With our games for the day done, it was time for dinner. However, since it was 9pm in a rural town in Eastern Oregon, options were limited. At this hour, few establishments were still open not called Denny’s or Shari’s, two establishments with menus that I can only call allergen minefields. Were I to eat safely at either, I would likely have a slice of cheddar cheese, a cup of black coffee, and, if I’m lucky, a boiled egg. An executive decision was made, and Nik, Forest, Alex, Matt, and myself headed to Momiji Sushi. Instead of Americana bric-a-brac and linoleum we were greeted by a wall of anime figurines, with resin statues of my real life friends Kamina, Goku, and Tanjiro there to promise me a good time. It was absolutely near closing time, as we were the last table seated and the music transitioned from typical instrumental background music to what was absolutely the latest OP from Spy X Family. Forest was hemming and hawing like it was his job, to the point where when I was about to order he asked if I wanted to split something. I left him to his own devices and instead ordered a safe option with the Sushi Regular: 8 chef’s choice nigiri and a California roll. Unfortunately they didn’t have coconut aminos or any other kind of soy-free soy sauce, but the sushi was good on its own. It didn’t quite melt in your mouth, but was far better than I was expecting from 9pm strip mall sushi. Naturally, it was paired with a 22oz pour of Sapporo, the imported rice lager without which no sushi dinner feels complete. Forest is still pining for the noodle soup he wishes he ordered, all these days, weeks, words, and miles later. The restorative properties of late night sushi with a half dozen of your buds cannot be overstated.

As we returned to the hotel, none of us were exactly looking forward to another night on the world’s lumpiest mattresses. I saw Alex had some edibles, and he graciously shared them with Forest and I. As for how that affected my sleep, here is my note, verbatim from my in situ travelogue:

Slept great, weed should be legal federally, fuck you Jeff Sessions

Day 2 – Sunday – Final Games and the Return

I woke up to a curious sound coming from the bathroom, where Alex was covertly grinding coffee beans for the Aeropress he brought with him. No, this is not a euphemism, the dude is just really serious about his coffee. For what it’s worth, I’ve got an Aeropress that I bought just for camping, and now I use it every day to make my morning cup(s) of coffee. The thing gets some good results, but I’ll admit they taste the same out of the Stormbringer mug as they do out of any other. Alex definitely has the best coffee of the morning, as the rest of us make due with the typical Bunn industrial carafe in the hotel buffet. Stiff scrambled eggs weren’t sounding too appealing that morning, so I had fruit and yogurt. We had a hot minute before our first games of the day, as the start time had been pushed from 9am to 10am in an attempt to curb any of the previous night’s hangovers. We would have been happier to just get our day moving since we had quite a bit of driving ahead of us, but what’s an hour between ‘hams?

Game 4 – Vs Jason’s Leagues of Votann

Black Templars vs. Leagues of Votann at the Squig City Casino Royale GT. Credit: SRM and Jason

You ever have one of those games where everything – and I mean everything goes right? This was absolutely one of those, and I was able to leverage my own experience against Leagues of Votann to capitalize on my good fortune. This rare Votann list without a single Hekaton had a quartet of Sagitaurs split between Chtonian Beserks and regular Warriors, a brick of 10 Hearthguard with a Kahl, a whole Sturgis of bikes, and a block of 6 Thunderkyn with attendant characters. He had first turn and absolutely bounced off my army, with his casino cannons failing to pay out. I did little back but got much, much closer, exactly where he didn’t want me. My main goal was just making sure nothing of mine got killed too early, as I didn’t want to give him a mess of command points killing from one of the units he Grudged. This pattern repeated for his half of turn 2, and as you can see from the photo above, my Templars only got closer. The Helbrick found its way into his grav-cannoneers, shrugging off waves of overwatch to bring those stunties a basket of extremely deadly howdy-doo. I didn’t quite wipe the unit and was counter charged by a pair of Cthonian Beserk squads and the unit of Hearthguard out of deep strike. I immediately popped Vicious Riposte on Helbrecht’s squad, and every time he’d take a model down, I’d pass their 3+ roll to fight on death and attack one of the units that hadn’t fought yet, blunting the force of his attack with each model of mine that dropped. When the smoke cleared, Helbrecht and the Lieutenant survived, and I’d traded Crusaders for Beserks and Hearthguard at something like a 1:1 ratio. Helbrecht then casually strolled away from combat and the rest of my army came to bear on this central press of Votann, clearing out the center of his deployment zone while my second brick of Crusaders assertively dismounted Jason’s bikers. My dice were as good as his weren’t, and our luck with cards followed that same pattern. Despite all this, Jason was rolling with it, and we shared some common ground over a collective love of Starcraft, as he even had little light up mineral deposits he’d place over objectives that he’d sticky’d. His army was based on the Heaven’s Devils from Starcraft II, and they and their display board would go on to win best painted later that day.

Result: 94-22 Victory

The notion that I am going 4-0 is only now setting in during this interstitial period between games. I’m drinking a victory Irish Death when it hits, and I all but shove the half-finished beverage in Forest’s hands during lunch. I’m scarfing down a very okay hamburger from the casino’s Wildhorse Sports Bar for lunch when Nik all but slaps it out of my hand, saying something to the effect of: “you don’t know if that gluten free bun has wheat or not and you can’t afford to get sick right now” which, thanks mom, good call. One eye is on the clock as I shovel my newly constructed hamburger salad into my mouth, and I’m also psyching myself out during this period, refreshing BCP hoping to find out who I’m up against. For a smooth, stupid, anxious brain, this hour and change is torture. Fortunately, the pairings get posted before I’m done and we’re on to game 5, and top table.

Game 5 – Vs Trenton’s Chaos Knights

Black Templars vs. Chaos Knights at the Squig City Casino Royale GT. Credit: SRM and Trenton

Trenton has what I would later learn is a rather good Chaos Knights list, consisting of 8 or 9 wardogs, one big punchy boi, and 3 token units of Nurglings for objective play and activity doing. I had a quiet turn 1 where I overcommitted the Helbrick to a wardog and some nurglings, scoring some points but utterly exposing my main killing unit and leaving it largely out of position. I got boned on card draws, started making mistakes left and right, and my tournament-long hot streak of dice rolls went ice cold. Trenton punished every mistake (of which there were quite a few) and had a plan in place for every card draw and move I made, and I was on the backfoot from the top of turn 2. Now, I wrote a lot more words about this in the first Competitive Innovations I’ve ever contributed to, so if you haven’t gotten enough of reading how one himbo accidentally backed up into top table at a GT, there’s some more reading for you. Trenton went on to win our game and also take 1st at the event, so congrats to him and his big Night Lords robots!

Result: 80-100 Defeat

Awards, Goodbyes, and What Have Yous

SRM with a Big Box of Problems at the Squig City Casino Royale GT. Credit: Ethan Melville

At the start of the awards ceremony, I got a randomly drawn door prize of Too Many Tyranids. Don’t you worry, I got a nice plan for em. I finished in 5th place in the 40k GT, which was honestly pretty good for my first 5-game, non-bracketed event. My opponents all seemed shocked at both my list and choice of Righteous Crusaders detachment, yet I still came in the top 5 of an 80 person event, so I can’t imagine that’s a bad thing. However, I earnestly, honestly believe that if I didn’t have that hour between games 4 and 5 I would have done better. That’s not to say I would have won necessarily – Trenton was a fantastic player and I do not want to take that away from him at all – but having an hour for anxiety to mount and for me to overthink didn’t help me out, and I could have made it a better game. Forest won a best in faction award for Chaos in the AoS Narrative, and after waiting for him to get his prize sorted out, we packed up, said our goodbyes, and hit the road.

We stopped in John Day on the way back, finding our way to what seemed to be the hub of the town: a gas station with a Subway in it. In a search for a goblinoid snack dinner, I came across a rack of Punisher skull/thin blue line stickers, merchandise emblazoned with cultish devotions to America’s premier con artist, “novelty” paddles for “disciplining” your children, and equally sinister Corn Nuts. In a feat of Pollyanna-like naivete, I had put aside the memory that Jefferson County is a part of the state that, for reasons transparently conservative, wants to secede from the rest of Oregon alongside part of northern California. That seems like a great way to weld the poorest and least populous parts of both states together to make a large expanse of land with little in the way of jobs, industry, or population, but what do I know. I get that nobody likes paying taxes, and call me a bleeding heart hippie-dippie pinko if you’d like, but I like paved roads, clean water, public schools, libraries, and fire departments.

The rest of our drive home was uneventful, the conversation less lively. I believe this was Alex’s first event like this, but after 5 games in rapid succession with people he didn’t know, he’d come to the conclusion competitive events weren’t for him. Nik was more optimistic, now thinking about Storm of Silence in just a few weeks and what changes he’d make to his list. Forest was fully narrativepilled, and we were all spitballing thematic scenarios for a 40k narrative campaign he hopes to run this summer. As for myself, I was feeling a bit disheartened. Despite having 5 good games with 5 enjoyable opponents, I felt crummy for choking in the 5th round. I figured competitive 40k would take a backseat for the summer, at least until I was doing prep games for NOVA in August. Joke’s on me, as a day later I’d scoop Alex’s ticket for Storm of Silence, where I’ll be gunning for the podium again. Will I choke in my stumble towards top tables again? Will that event’s far heavier focus on soft scores be what takes me over the top? Will I drop and spend a day at the nearby cat café instead? You’ll find out soon, as I write something hopefully a smidge less loquacious than this.

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