TheChirurgeon’s Final Road Through 2022: The Year in Review

Welcome back, Dear Reader, to the final installment of my ongoing log of hobby and competitive play progress through the year 2022. And it’s been one hell of a year. When I started doing this, my goal was to “achieve some level of competitive respectability in 40k.” One year later, I’m not sure how much closer I’ve come to that. I’m certainly better at the game, and I now speak more with competitive players I respect, and who I think respect me some amount. But I don’t know if I’ve achieved anything you’d actually call “respectable” in the competitive sense. I won some awards… but none of those were for my play. Let’s take a look back at the year and talk about what I did and how things worked out.

Hobby Progress

I got quite a bit done this year from a hobby standpoint. A good chunk of it out of necessity, but there were some passion projects in there as well. Let’s review some of the major beats:

In total this year I painted around a hundred models, give or take, with a lot of terrain and vehicles in the mix.

The Thousand Sons

Most of my Thousand Sons were painted early this year, after I decided to switch to the faction from Death Guard late last year. Before I started I had Magnus, five Scarabs, a Heblrute, a Rhino, and ten Rubrics painted. This meant I had a ton of work to do, and in total these represented the bulk of my painting in the first six months of the year. My initial pass at completing the army involved painting most of the army before the Dallas Open in April, then adding on to the army and taking another pass to improve their paint quality for Warzone Houston. In total this year I painted:

  • Ahriman
  • Exalted Sorcerer
  • Infernal Master
  • 15 Scarab Occult Terminators
  • Thousand Sons Terminator Scorcerer
  • 9 Tzaangors
  • 17 Rubric Marines (7 w/Warpflamers)
  • Tzaangor Shaman
  • 1 Forgefiend
  • 1 Thousand Sons Leviathan
  • 1 Thousand Sons Heldrake
  • 1 Thousand Sons Daemon Prince
  • 2 Chaos Spawn

On top of this I painted one War Dog Executioner for a single RTT using a Dreadblade detachment. I’m still very proud of my Thousand Sons, and while I don’t think they’re my best painted army, they’ve won me a share of awards, including Best Painted at the GW US Open Kansas City event. Winning this made my whole year.

The Black Legion

Once my Thousand Sons were done, it was time to come back to my Black Legion. I’d painted some pieces of the army already – I’m still very proud of Abaddon and Haarken – but beyond those models I needed to flesh out a lot of the rank-and-file guys. This meant getting a lot of these models done in time for the GW Narrative Finale at Albuquerque, though these weren’t necessarily what I needed to get them to a point where they’d be competitive. For my Black Legion this year I painted:

  • 1 Chaos Chosen
  • 1 Warpsmith
  • 2 Possessed
  • 5 Black Legion Terminators
  • 6 Black Legion Plague Marines
  • 4 Black Legion Noise Marines
  • 5 Black Legion Warpflamer Rubrics
  • 1 Black Legion Land Raider

There’s still a ton to do here before I have the army in a place where it can really compete – I need to get 9 more Chosen painted, plus a few more plague marines, 5 more Terminators, and 8 more Possessed, at the very least. But I’ll get to those early next year.

Odds and Ends

And then there were the odds and ends – all the extra stuff I painted for reviews and events. Without going through every photo on my phone, here are the major beats:

  • 1 Lord of Virulence
  • 3 Plague Marines
  • 1 Warhammer Underworlds Khorne guy
  • 3 Imperial Bunkers
  • 6 Wall of Martyrs
  • 1 Firestorm Redoubt
  • 2 Imperial Defence Emplacements
  • 1 Void Shield Generator
  • Some additional Sector Imperialis, Mechanicus, and Gallowdark terrain

That’s a pretty solid count and I’m almost certain that there’s something I’m missing, probably another piece of terrain or something I did for a review or another game.

The Other Awards

Look, I’m going to show these off. I’m damn proud of the work I did this year, and in addition to the Best Painted award at KC, I also won 4 RTT best painted awards – three at Asgard and one at Ettin, plus a couple of 2nd place awards in the miniature painting competitions at Warzone Houston. While I’m not really concerned with the ITC Hobby Track and its insane scoring, awards like these both help me feel how far I’ve come over the last few years and also push me to do even better. I’ve done very well this year but I want to top this, and I’m already thinking of how I can top MasterSlowPoke and TheArmourofContempt at next year’s Grand Narrative.

Spoils from 2022

Alright, that’s hobby progress for the year. Let’s talk about the games.

101 Games of Warhammer 40k

I’ve been tracking my games of 40k since I got back into the game in early 6th edition, and tracking the actual scores and results in those games – and taking notes – since around the start of 8th edition, when I bought a couple of GW notebooks for tracking games. At the time of this writing I’ve played 101 games of 9th edition Warhammer 40k this year, and that makes up just over half of the total 9th edition games I’ve played. That’s a lot, and I wouldn’t have gotten close to that total if it weren’t for attending events.

Speaking of which, here’s the rundown of what I attended and how I did.

That’s a pretty mediocre run, all things considered! I definitely dropped some points by not playing the final rounds of Seattle or the Dallas Open, but it’s indicative of a year where I had a lot of 2-1 starts that never paid off. It’s a huge jump from where I was last year, when I started out from a place of almost no competitive play and being happy to finish an event at .500. I’m now plausibly able to chase best overall at larger events, though a lot of that will depend on my faction.

And that’s kind of the tough spot I’m in right now, competitively: I’m a good enough player to take most armies (even bad ones) to 2-1 at my local RTT or 4-2 at a lot of GT-sized events, but definitely not a good enough player to elevate a bad or mediocre army to the top 8/upper cut of a bigger event. Although many of my games at KC were very close, sneaking my way into the top 16 cut would likely have meant getting bodied by other better lists and players, particularly since my Thousand Sons weren’t running flamers.

As it stands, I’m just not likely to take the next step if I’m not playing a top-tier army. Thousand Sons were realistically the closest I’ve come to that, being an army that can mostly compete at higher levels, but realistically they’ve never been on the same level as Tyranids or Harlequins. And this isn’t necessarily a stunning revelation, nor am I in bad company – plenty of good players are shackled to 2-3 factions, like James “Boon” Kelling, who basically just plays elves, and the top players stay on top by switching to the top armies (and having the resources and models on hand to do so trivially). But it does mean that my fortunes will likely wax and wane with the factions I play, and I’m not good enough to overcome those discrepancies on my own yet.

Also: Fourteen events (not pictured up there: the Narrative Finale and the GHO US, which I did not play in) is a lot. It was definitely a bit too much for my wife, who by the end of the year was more than willing to tell me that I’d taken too many weekends away (she doesn’t mind RTTs so much). Next year I’ll likely pare the list down to 4-5 weekender events that require going out of town, and possibly just the GW ones at that. I’m grateful for what I was able to accomplish this year, and proud of what I’ve done and how far I’ve come as a competitive player, but I definitely don’t think I’ll be going this hard again and that means I’m going to drop even further in rank next year.

As of this writing I rank 1,089th in the ITC with a score of 804.2 points. That’s about 30 more points than I finished with last year, but I’m also finishing 589 ranks lower! That’s basically because 1. The ITC is way bigger this year than it was last year, with a ton more players playing more games, and 2. There were way, way more GTs and majors that were large enough to give points for just showing up. Competing in the ITC is as much a game of attending lots of large events as it is winning. I won’t likely be at LVO, so chances are good this is my final score and I’ll drop a few more spots after some people pass me with the points they get from attending. But again, that’s OK – I’m happy with where I’m ending up.

Likewise, I’ll finish outside the top 30 for Thousand Sons; it’s a very crowded faction as, unlike Death Guard last year, they didn’t spend the entire year getting progressively worse. I’d need a placing better than 26th at a big event to even have a chance.

My Favorite Games and Moments from 2022

Alright, I’ve bragged about stupid prizes enough. It’s time to hand out some prizes of my own. I had some good times and bad times in 2022 but I’m going to focus on some of my five favorite games/events from the year:

Best Competitive Event I Played In: GW US Open, Kansas City
I had more fun overall at the Narrative – how could I not when we had like 25 Goonhammer people there? – but of the competitive events I attended, KC was the most fun, despite it being one of my worse showings. The venue was great, the flight was short, and hanging out with John Lennon and Thomas “Goatboy” Reidy was a blast, and it was probably the best and healthiest I ate at any event this year.

Ben Frederiksen wins the Lieutenant Bracket

Best Opponent: Ben Frederiksen
This was a close competition with several really great people – Ben Jurek and Mitchell Hunter were also close on here as former-enemies-turned-friends – but Ben Frederiksen was probably the best overall opponent/sportsman I faced, and I’m glad I got to play him. I wasn’t in the best place coming into that game, but Ben was a class act through the whole thing.

This asshole

Favorite Game: vs. James Kelling’s Craftworlds Eldar, Dallas Open
There were several potential competitors for this, and it probably wasn’t his favorite game for a number of reasons, but my favorite game was finally getting to play James “Boon” Kelling on Day 3 of the Dallas Open for the first time. I’d already dropped from the event to go home early, leaving plenty of time to just kick back and enjoy the game. And the game itself ended up being a close one – James pulled out some bullshit and got lucky on the final turns to squeak out a 76-71 win. But the low pressure and stakes combined with a good opponent and friend made for a fun, chill experience.

very close runner-up here was the game I played with Condit and Jack Hunter at the Narrative Finale, which was an absolute blast. It was definitely the funniest game I played, as the only game that literally had someone drop to their knees laughing.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Favorite Model I painted: Ahriman
This one’s not particularly close – Ahriman on Disc is the prettiest model I painted this year and I’m still insanely proud of the work I did on him… though the black legion squads I painted later in the year give him a run for his money. I’m really happy with how the OSL turned out on him and he’s probably a big contributor to my winning best painted in KC.

 

What’s Next?

That’s a big question! For anyone wondering, I will absolutely be running a “Road Through 2023” series next year, but I’ll likely do fewer competitive events. My plan right now is tentatively to do Warhammer Fest, some GW events, and Warzone Houston, plus any Narrative Finale that happens next year and the Goonhammer Open.

On that note, I’m planning to do way more Narrative play, and I’m currently working with some folks behind the scenes to plan some big narrative stuff – stay tuned for a formal announcement on what Goonhammer will be running next year for Crusade.

Competitively, I’m still going to be on Chaos, but I’m not sure what flavor I’ll be playing yet. I’ll likely keep painting my Black Legion, and the current plan is to play them, but if things change with the next dataslate/points/secondaries update, I may reconsider that. That said, I’ll have to consider whether I’d rather win more games or win best painted more easily, and that’s honestly a pretty tough choice to make.

Overall, 2022 was a hell of a year and I had a great time. I’m looking forward to 2023 and I’ll see you again some time in January with the start of a new road. Over the course of the year I ran into a number of people who told me they’d read the series and enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it every time it happened – you guys are the best.

Thanks for reading.

  • Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones