Most of our staff and readers will disagree with me about this, but I think the mechanics of playing are like the least important thing about this dumb hobby. Warhammer is a game about dice and tactical choices the way that basketball is about dribbling and passing. Those are the things you do, the various connective tissues that define what the game is and whether you’re technically playing it or not, but they aren’t the point. You dribble and pass to set up a dunk, but the ultimate goal is putting some poor sap on a poster. Yeah I rolled some dice and moved some models, but I’m here to fail armor saves and hang out with pals, and I’m all out of armor saves.
So this post is kind of a bait-and-switch. If you wanted detailed battle reports, I’ll direct you to our experts, a group that includes literally every other writer for the site. This isn’t about dice and VPs, this is an article about Friends.
5. Zone Mortalis with Evan’s Custodes
Evan, or Felime on this site, is a local cat and all-around good dude. We’ve played a fair number of games, and every one has been a one-sided bloodbath, but I appreciate his easy-going approach to explaining exactly how bad I just got clobbered and his futile attempts to educate me so it doesn’t happen again (it absolutely always happens again).
He hails from the same part of the state that my Muscle Wife is from, which just had a new Nerd Store open, so we met up to try out the new venue, his new Zone Mortalis terrain, and Rob’s new Goonhammer Approved: Zone Mortalis rules.
The fun thing about the ZM rules is that it takes the best thing about Kill Team Arena and ports it to 40k. You know what I’m talking about, it’s everyone’s favorite mechanic. That’s right my dude! It is doors.
The mission we were playing had a twist where, at the top of turn 4, the hanger bay doors would open to launch a fighter (my Dark Talon, in this case – hilariously, the default “Parked Flyer” profile made it more durable than its actual datasheet, though not so durable that a Custode didn’t one-shot the thing in combat), decompressing any part of the map connected to it by open doors. Because Evan and I both think that punching doors to make them blow up is the funniest thing in the world, virtually the entire map was subject to explosive decompression by the end.
So, how’d the game go? Not great! Turns out that on a small board, you get between 0 and 1 rounds of shooting before the Custodes roughly dismantle you, and there is no setting on a Hellblaster gun that can overcharge enough to make that math work out. I’d held a few units held in reserve, but had been tabled before they had a chance to arrive. Evan, being the type of dude that would rather throw dice than get the W, let the game keep going (this is actually not even the first time he’d done this to me, which gives you an idea of how our games typically play out). My reserves arrived, plasma-ed off a couple of Custodians at the expense of only most of their own models exploding, and I was promptly tabled again. That door opening to the void and sucking everyone into space? Game was twice-over before it got a chance to open even a crack, so we never got to find out what it did.
We played a second game, where he used his Guard, but it was that first go-around at ZM that had me hooked. Evan rules though, and talking to the FLGS owner I got the real sense that he was trying to build something good with it – not just a place to game, but that he wanted to build an inclusive community with it, a place for kids to hang out after school where no one gets stuffed into lockers except models in their cases, and the only person taking your lunch money is the guy selling Magic cards.
Outcome: tabled, twice
4. Booley’s Tau and Dan’s Raven Guard
The man, the legend. God’s only chosen ‘caster. Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good had just been released, and both Booley and myself had yet to use Booley’s Tau in anger, so Dan and I met to slam. His Raven Guard are, and I want to stress this because it gets seared into my brain harder every time I see them, absolutely gorgeous.
I was actually surprised when Dan reached out to me about a game. My last meatspace interaction with him had been as Dan, actually. I was wearing a 40k BadCast shirt at NoVA, and someone stopped me to ask if I was with the show, so, because I’m a brain genius who only ever has good ideas and knows exactly what the limits of good taste are, I spent the rest of the night introducing myself to people as Dan Badcast. As you can imagine – I can’t, but I’m sure you can – Dan did not find this as amusing as I did. Months later, trying to set up a game, I genuinely wasn’t sure if he was still mad at me, or if he ever really had been.
Game went normally, which is to say I got stomped. It was a new army, that had just gotten new rules, and I was mostly playing with models that I thought looked cool, but in this one specific case I also think I have grounds to blame the dice a little, as a treat, after a buffed Riptide proceeded to drop 0 wounds on his RepEx and then messily ate shit when it returned fire.
Afterward, we just hung out at the game store jabbering around for a while. It’s not uncommon for me to chat for a bit while packing my models back up, but Dan and I stuck around for probably a solid 45 minutes, and it was a nice conversation. I’d met him once or twice before, and we’re in a few group chats, but this was the first time we’d really gotten to hang out 1 on 1. Dan had just gotten married recently, and I was about to get married, so we talked about honeymoons and wives and such. You know, the normal things one talks about at a gaming table.
This was back in February, and due to reasons, is probably the last game of 8th Edition I’m ever going to get. At least I went out on a high note.
3. Condit and the MYSTERY BOX
Condit isn’t exactly part of our local scene, living several states away, but he’s been up in the area a couple of times now. The first time, we met up for a few Kill Team games and had a good time with it, despite overwatching krak grenades knocking the heads off of his dumbass Witch Cult, and some general problems with dice. The second time, he hadn’t packed an army, but I offered to loan him one of mine.
I was running my Dark Angels, mostly Primaris infantry and some land speeders, and in the interests more of portability than playability, packed an extra KR case with 1500 points of Deathwing as a loaner army. With two Land Raiders and my Cursed Dreadnought, it wasn’t a good army, but at least he could play, if you can call anything involving pre-Ritual of the Damned Dark Angels “playing”.
In my defense, I don’t claim to be a good enough friend that I was going to bust my ass transporting the best possible army, but at least I tried to be good enough that I didn’t force him to play Tau, which he hates, or stick him with my garbage Warhound. I try to be a decent person, but I don’t try very hard, is what I mean.
I gave him the choice. He could either play the army I had set up – the Primaris/Ravenwing list – or take the MYSTERY BOX, but he had to choose before opening it. He looked at the box for approximately half a second, said “Yeah, I mean it’s probably a bunch of Deathwing, so sure”, and that was that. He’s a partially-astute man, that Condit. Smart enough to know what was in the box, but not smart enough to avoid it, is what I mean.
The game itself ended up being a 2-point loss for me. It came down to one objective. I killed his Dreadnought that was contesting it, which exploded and killed Sammael (who also exploded) which meant no one got the points. If the dread had just shut up and died like an aviator I’d have gotten the win, but this was the same model I’d been using for Chaplain Barbatos, my Astradus campaign warlord who big time sucks and has been a continuous disappointment, so of course he screwed me over again, despite not even being in my army this time.
Condit had to run right after, to go buy a truck, so we didn’t get to hang out much afterwards, but he’s always a treat and I was legitimately impressed how well he handled playing an unfamiliar, spiteful, list despite zero time to prepare.
Outcome: loss, but not tabled
2. AdMech/Knights at NoVA 2019 (GT Game 4)
OK well, I committed the cool crime of lying – about the Friends thing – because I don’t know this guy at all. I forgot to even write down his name. It was 10am, I hadn’t slept much or slept well, and going into it I wasn’t expecting our interaction to be particularly memorable, but he seemed nice and his models were well-painted. I’m only putting the game here because of the 25 or so games of 8th edition I’d played up until this point, this was the only one where I didn’t lose (and with the exception of one narrative joke scenario that the Cursed Dreadnought again almost lost for me by exploding, this would remain the case for the rest of the edition). Eighth was a lot of things to a lot of people, but for me it’s the one where I went 2-31. I know that’s not many games for some people, Cyle, but it’s a lot for me, ok.
I didn’t tell my opponent any of that of course, because it seemed cruel, but I hope you’re reading this and I’d like to say to you: sorry. If you’d moved up your Skittering Dudecrawlers I think you could have had me, and I hope you got out of the Shame Bracket later in the day. Actually I know you did, because I was in that area the entire time and didn’t see you, so that’s good.
The game took place on the very bottom table at the NoVA GT. My first day hadn’t gone the best. In fact it was – objectively, and provably – the worst day anyone had. Being tabled three times had left me with fewer total VPs than most people had after their first game, and I was dead last in the standings, ranked 295 out of 295.
When it ended and I’d somehow gotten the win, the first thing I did was go find Rob, because I knew he’d want to hear this. I was almost shaking with nerves, but when I gave the thumbs up he lost his everloving mind, and it started to sink in.
Outcome: sweet victory
1. Rob at NoVA 2019 (GT game 3)
If you can compare Goonhammer to the Wu Tang Clan, Rob and I have more of a Run The Jewels arrangement.
He’s already written about our game here, but if you need a measure of how extremely Knuckleheads Since Olden Times we are, I knew before I read his post, or wrote mine, that this was going to be the top game on both of our lists.
When I checked the pairings and saw that Rob and I were paired up, I burst out laughing. Of course this was going to happen. Out of 300 people and despite our gratuitous skill gap, obviously the whims of fortune and the algorithm would conspire to pair us up. Something that would be a cosmic coincidence for anyone else was clearly inevitable here. It simply could not have happened any other way.
It played out the same way it had in our practice games, including the one we’d played with the exact same lists literally the night before, and I got thoroughly rekt, but I’ll level with you: I don’t care. Knowing what was going to happen on the way in was actually liberating, in that we could just let off some steam and screw around. Coming on the heels of two disastrous games for both of us, it was the perfect game.
Neither of us were in the running for anything at this point, and on the other side of turn 6 was a tremendous feast of delicious Ethiopian food, so this one was just about talking wild shit and high-fiving everyone who stopped by – which ended up being a lot of people. I like to think we drew a bigger crowd at table 141 than they did up at table 1, and that casual observers were both deeply perplexed and, I hope, a little jealous. Also, Games Workshop: put us on stream next time, cowards.
There’s not a lot else to say about this. It was easily the best 40k game of my entire life, and exactly what I needed in order to recharge after a rough outing at my first GT. Coasting on the Good Vibes of this one, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my next game ended up being a victory.
Outcome: Irrelevant, but: tabled
What I Learned
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