Welcome back, Dear Reader, to my ongoing journey through a 2022 packed with Warhammer. In my last article, I talked about getting to Albuquerque for the GW Open Series Finale Narrative event and getting set up. This time it’s time to talk about the games.
The event kicks off on a Friday, a full day before the competitive events begin. Given their format, I think this is *probably* a mistake, since playing seven games in three days is a bit too much and this is the kind of move I think they only put in place to cut down on hotel costs (though it likely makes it easier for participants to fly out as well). The schedule for day 1 is interesting in that we’re only slated to play two 50PL (1,000 points) games, and given four hours to play each one. That is an insane amount of time, but given how many players are on their first game or just don’t play often, it makes some sense. It also means there’s more time to get in extracurriculars between games, something encouraged by the event organizers. This is helpful for say, Chaos Knights players, who need to grind a number of games to be able to take their rewards. I’ll get in one extra game on day 1 – a 25 PL game against Norman – mostly to help get my Terminators to their first upgrade.
The event starts with a morning briefing that is short enough that I miss it by being 1 minute late. I’m told that our group commander, Krann the Beast, yelled a lot. They hand out Objective tokens that designate our goals for day 1. Everyone is supposed to get two of them, but there definitely aren’t enough so a bunch of us only get one. Mine says “Psychic Domination.” I have no idea what that means, so I make sure to put all three of my psykers (the Master of Possession, the Rubrics, and the Legionaries with a Balefire Tome) into my game 1 army. The other objective I wasn’t given but will find out later is “Take and Hold,” and I also don’t know what that means, and it’s much more difficult to figure out. There’s also some kind of mechanic around Fame and Infamy that our group wasn’t really made aware of until game 2, and I also have little idea how to score those.
This is kind of a running theme with the GW narrative events and can be traced back to the NOVA narrative, and as a result is something that I associate with Mike Brandt specifically. He’s a big fan of these specific mechanics, and will tell you that he believes that nebulous orders are more immersive, that specific “go stand 6” away from this” type orders can break someone’s immersion in the event and turn everything into a game. But while I think he makes an interesting point here, I think these events need to find more of a middle ground, giving you a clearer ability to suss out what you need to do and also making the objectives more interesting and less specific than “hold the line” or “abhor the witch,” particularly since your ability to kill psykers seems intrinsically tied to whether your opponent even brought psykers. It’s reminiscent of the old Malestrom of War cards where you’d have cards in the Necron deck that would award you VP for manifesting a psychic power.
I am not a cosplay guy. I’ve been known to go really hard at halloween with makeup but generally speaking it’s not really my thing, since I’m much more into being comfortable, especially over the course of an entire day. Plus wearing the same clothes for three days isn’t my jam, either. So my idea for the narrative was to just do something simple – a cowl and maybe some prosthetic horns, something that could slip on over my regular clothes and give the right idea but wouldn’t be to obtrusive or uncomfortable and wouldn’t be something I’d sweat into.
On the whole it worked out fine. I’d end up ditching the horns just because I didn’t find ones I really liked at Halloween, but the effect was there. I also picked up a prop plasma pistol, but I didn’t know if they they were allowing weapons at the event and the realities of bag storage made it a difficult sell anyways.
It’s not amazing, but it’s simple, comfortable, and I was able to wear it all weekend. If I can find more time for the next event I’ll see about making one that has the gold embroidered trim instead of doing the black myself. And maybe I’ll find some smaller, simpler horns.
Mission 1: Sabotage vs. Scott Horras’ Astra Militarum
Round 1 for Battlegroup 13 – which includes Condit and Norman in addition to myself – is in Tzalikar South, a desert battle-themed room with desert mats and ork terrain. Our room attendant, dressed in the fatigues of the Astra Militarum, is briefing us, though we end up starting about 45 minutes late as they try to get people their event swag. Each room at the event is themed differently, with different mats, terrain types and layouts, room decorations, and smells. Well, they all start off smelling a certain way and end up smelling like “a room full of Warhammer nerds,” but I think the scents help prolong that inevitable outcome.
We’re being paired with Battlegroup 6, which is mostly Goonhammer players (including Dan Boyd, Jack Hunter, Scott Horras, Rocco, and Campbell), making it one of the raddest groups at the event. The Imperial players are asked to choose tables to play at while team Chaos is allowed to pick our pairings as the attackers (though we’ll roll for attacker/defender in the mission). This is where I help our team out by helping pick our matchups. This is important because there are a lot of Chaos Knights players on our team, most of them pretty new to the game. I match up as many of them as I can into non-Salamanders Space Marine armies, hoping to give them winnable games. They will go on to lose most of them.
The first mission is Sabotage, an Incursion mission being played on a strike force-sized map (44×60). That’s both bad news for the Attacker, who has to move up the table and destroy objectives, and my team, who apparently can achieve the take ground objective by getting our units into the opponent’s deployment zone on the other end of the table after longways deployment. The good news is that it makes defending the objectives easier.
My List (50 PL)
HQ: Lord Kaervek (Master of Possession)
Troops: Atranoch’s Ravagers (5x Legionaires)
EL: The Cyclopean Doom (5x Rubrics)
EL: The Hounds of Abaddon (10x Berzerkers)
HS: Obliterators x3
That’s good for me because I’m defending, and defending the objectives on this mission can be really hard if you aren’t prepared for it and your opponent is fast. The Attacker can sabotage objectives to remove them by performing an action if they’re within 1″ of an objective at the end of the Movement phase, and there’s no restriction on that for conroling the objective or having enemy units in range. This means that defending the objective means making sure that your opponent cannot come within 1″ of the objective during the Movement phase. The way you do this is by putting models on the objectives physically, so your opponent cannot come within 1″ of them in the Movement phase without also being in Engagement range, forcing them to spend a turn shooting or fighting you off the objective.
Scott has been particularly blessed for this event, and along with Dan Boyd was allowed to use the new Astra Militarum codex and models at the event, allowing players to see firsthand how the defenders of the Imperium would play in a few weeks. He’s got a slower, grindy force in his 50 PL list, though he’s got two Armoured Sentinels in there. These are fairly tough – they have T6, they reduce the AP of shooting attacks by 1, plus they can reduce incoming damage or pop smoke to make themselves more durable. The downside is that they aren’t as fast as their scout brethren, and so cannot reach the first objective on Scott’s turn without advancing, giving me an extra turn to attack before they action.
Of course, none of this matters because the first two turns of the game are a hilarious standstill – neither of us actually manages to kill any enemy units until I kill one of Scott’s Sentinels on the bottom of turn 2 after he blows up an objective. That’s actually just fine for me, as it means I can push up the table without fear of Scott actually blowing up another objective. The Oblits eventually fell his Leman Russ and the Berzerkers plow through two units of guardsmen before being brought down by artillery. Scott didn’t really have a chance in this game, and now he has to continue living with the fact that he hasn’t beaten me in a game. Get rekt, idiot!
Unfortunately, while I cleaned up against Scott and his weak game, the rest of my team were busy getting punted by Space Marines. I also have no idea if I did well or not on the broader secondaries – I didn’t kill Scott’s Astropath but I out-cast him and denied some of his powers.
After the game we grab lunch – some mediocre sandwiches – and eat outside, where we’re joined by Chase. Chase and Campbell had a hell of a journey getting to the event and just arrived this morning, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to see them. I haven’t seen Chase in person since NOVA 2019 and he is one of my favorite people. Dude’s just great and while he’s exhausted he’ll eventually find his groove for the event.
I spend some time going over my list homework, then get in a quick 25 PL speed run game against Norman’s War Dogs. Norman also lost round 1, probably because he ran into Andrew’s Eradicators like a moron, helping our team lose the first round. I clean him up quickly using a mix of Terminators and Noise Marines and use the XP to give my Terminators the ability to re-roll 1s to hit.
Mission 2: Behind Enemy Lines
The second round sees us being deployed to Sermona Magnificat, a shrine world where we’ve been tasked with smashing through enemy lines to push toward the capital city. This room is more dimly lit, with cityfight boards and faux candles that give it an appropriate feel. The actor leading this room is an Imperial priest who recites litanies and blesses the imperial players. He’s legitimately the best part of the event from a staff/actors standpoint, and his mini-arc over the three days is the highlight of the event.
We are once again allowed to allocate tables so I try and give my Chaos Knights players some help getting good matchups. We’re short a Chaos player so I volunteer for a 2v1 game, and end up getting paired into Matt and Luiz, playing Astra Militarum and Custodes, respectively. That means it’s my 100 PL vs their 50 each, and we both need to get units off the far table edge. This is done by doing an action at the end of the movement phase with a unit that’s within 6″ of the table edge, and vehicles have to spend two turns doing the action to leave.
Both players were relatively new to 9th and pretty casual but this was still a tough game. The Guard player brought a Baneblade and after I informed him that no, actually you can use Vengeance for Cadia in the Shooting phase (not just Overwatch), he’d spend all game shelling me with the big tank while I reminded him to re-roll all his failed hits and wounds. My goal was to focus on their infantry, removing every single model capable of leaving in one turn, and ended up doing so by turn 3 even as I was being decimated. On turn 4 they had nothing but vehicles left, and only one attempted to leave – the Calladius. This meant I could win by getting two units off the table.
Of course, that was easier said than done – I was getting shelled all game by a Calladius, Valkyrie, and Baneblade, and a couple of spiked damage rolls early on led to my Rhino and Lord Discordant getting destroyed. I would eventually get the upper hand however, when the Guard player scored four wounds on my remaining 3 raptors, then rolled triple 1s and a 5 on his four damage dice to leave my final Raptor alive with a single wound. On the following turn I raced him and Haarken off the table and won the game by a narrow margin.
After the games it’s time for hang-outs. We meet up with a bunch of people in the lobby, including my wife, and hang out and eat dinner. The bar is full so we end up getting food ordered “to go” to the lobby, and I’ll end up eating basically a plate of brisket nachos for dinner along with a fried green chile, which was surprisingly solid. We hang out for a while and talk about our games, then it’s over to the Preview event and Day 1 briefing.
The preview event has already been covered online. They ask us not to take any photos, presumably because the quality would be “shitty phone taking a screen shot of a powerpoint slide 50 feet away,” but almost everything they’ve shown has made its way online. I say “almost” because they showed us Angron’s statline, though I was too far away to read it. I’m pretty sure he has 18 wounds, though. Anyways it was a cool reveal, and it was neat to finally see more of where they’re going with Arks of Omen. We’ll have more to say about that in the future, though.
The Day 1 Briefings are… well, they’re fine. The Farseer lady is smug. The Chaos guy yells a lot. The Imperial guy speaks too softly to hear, but everyone shouts “the emperor protects” when he says it. I think Chaos didn’t do so well (I blame my team of Chaos Knights newbies), but it’s also hard to tell if anyone is doing well.
After the briefings are done we’re off to the night games. Norman, Condit, and I agree to play Into the Dark, since we have the necessary marines to play Legionary teams in Kill Team, which are solid. Unfortunately none of us have really played games in the Gallowdark yet, so there’s a learning curve. The games are played in a dark room lit with black lights. This makes it impossible to read our datasheets and the rules we have on hand, which sucks. I get what they were going for but it didn’t quite work.
I get matched into JD “TheArmorOfContempt” Reynolds, who you may recall is one of the best Kill Team players in the world. He absolutely crushes me with his intercessor team, in part because he just lobs grenades at me on turn 1 and scores 11 critical hits on me, killing one of my operatives and injuring two others. The game is over pretty quickly.
We hang out a bit longer and I call it a night around midnight. I’m having a great time and the best part about starting on Friday is that there are still two more days to go after day 1, which rules. Check back on Thursday for my thoughts on Day 2.
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