Sunday, 8 May 2016

Mayhem 2016 40K Tournament

With other games taking my attention recently I haven't played a game of 40K in some time. A one day 40K tournament at the club gave me the opportunity to see what the latest meta soup of the day is at the GW restaurant.

Above: The room begins to fill with expectant gamers.

David P, Dave G (Zombie Wrangler) and Jim H, acted as TOs and they decided to give the traditional army composition a slightly different flavour. Armies were limited to 1000 points, and we had five games to play in the day. Two other oddities, objective secured units, scored an extra victory point if they were in soul control of objectives. And, with games limited to 90 minutes, each player scored an extra victory point if they finished their game on time.

With the buff to objective secured, I decided to take an Iron Hands Space Marine army which made the most of the objective secured buff; scouts, land speeder storms and space marine bikes which counted as troops, thanks to the bike mounted Chapter Master. Eleven objective secured units, and the 1000 points were as follows:

HQ - Chapter Master (Warlord) 90+40
Artificer Armour 20
Bike 20
Chapter Relic - The Shield Eternal 50
Thunder Hammer 25
Melta Bombs 5
Total 250

Troops - Scouts 55
Sergeant Melta Bombs 5
Heavy Bolter 8
Land Speeder Storm (Heavy Bolter) 40
Total 108

Troops - Scouts 55
Sergeant Melta Bombs 5
Heavy Bolter 8
Land Speeder Storm (Multi-Melta) 50
Total 113

Troops - Scouts 55
Sergeant Melta Bombs 5
Heavy Bolter 8
Land Speeder Storm (Heavy Flamer) 40
Total 108

Troops - Scouts 55
Sergeant Melta Bombs 5
Heavy Bolter 8
Land Speeder Storm (Heavy Bolter) 40
Total 108

Troops - Scouts 55
Sergeant Melta Bombs 5
Heavy Bolter 8
Land Speeder Storm (Assault Cannon) 55
Total 123

Troops - Bike Squad 63
Two extra bikes 42
Two Melta Guns 20
Sergeant Combi-Melta 10 and Melta Bombs 5
Attack Bike with Multi-Melta 50
Total 190

Grand Total 1000

Above: My guys

My plan; to try and keep my guys alive long enough to grab objectives at the end of the game. The problem; the land speeder storms are very squishy and I have no sky fire (I am sure this will not be a problem).

Game one - James - Blood Angels - The Scouring - Hammer and Anvil - Maximum of five turns - 10 to 4 win

I have great respect for James for his choice of Baal's finest (a favourite of my own). Nothing cheesy in his army, but for a touch of flavour, he took the 40K Space Marine special model. With six objectives and my many objective secured units in the army I new I had to make hay whilst the sun shone. Despite James' best efforts he was able to match me on the three point objectives, but I was able to secure the other four for the win.

Game two - Nico - Chaos Space Marines (Slaughterkin) - Crusade - Vanguard Strike - 7 to 6 win

Nico is a good friend, and someone who I always have good games. He had three Maulerfiends, a void shield generator, and most scarily, a Heldrake, but encouragingly, only two units of Chaos Cultist. My hopes rested on the Chapter Master, and hoping for only five turns. 

Mid-game, and I am trying to keep out of trouble, not kill, or be killed (no point in giving any blood points, with which Nico could generate more troop choices). 

By turn four only four blood points had been gained, and that part of the plan had worked so far. My Chapter Master and his Bike Marines decided to make a move for the central objective guarded by a Maulerfiend. One round of combat later, and the bikes had lost by a point. A roll of 12 for the leadership test and a fall back distance of ten sent the Chapter Master and the bikes off the table! Bugger.

However, the gaming gods were quick to say sorry, as we ended on turn five. A very narrow win in a very enjoyable game. 

Game three - Pete - Tyranids - Relic/Emperors Will - (played by mistake as Hammer and Anvil, but should have been Dawn of War) - loss 

Two games, two wins. This is very unchartered waters for me. Pete's army, is what I had feared the most on the day, all flyers (2 Hive Tyrants, 2 Harpies and a Hive Crone) apart from five Genestealers and one Spore Mine everything was high above. Well, no surprises that my guys came off second best, and seven turns did not help my hopes. It was no fault of Pete, but this was not the funniest game I have ever played. 

I was obviously, not the only person who struggled against the list, as Pete went on to win the event as a whole. Well done.

Game four - Zach - Dark Angels - 4 Objectives - Hammer and Anvil - 10 to 5 loss

Having played a very competitive army in game three, I now faced another competitive army in game four. Bikes, all with Plasma Talons, two Land Speeder skimmer variants (which gave the bikes 3+ re-rollable jink save) and due to it being a Dark Angel formation, no troops of any description.

By the end of the infiltration moves, my Chapter Master and his bikes were looking very isolated. And very soon afterwards, they were looking all very dead. The Chapter Master did managed to live long enough to kill the DA Librarian Warlord. But the Scouts and their Land Speeder Storms, not surprisingly, I had great difficulty in scratching the bike armour. 

Well done to Zach on the victory, and his second place on the day.

Game five - Terry - Tau - Vanguard Strike - Maelstrom - loss

Maelstrom was a new thing for our 40K tournament. I choose to go first, and placed all of my forces on the table hoping to get the jump on capturing early objectives. But, unfortunately, terry stole the first turn, and two of the Storms came crashing down before they had moved. 

Above: what being seized on does to you.

The game was a great fun. My warlord bit the dust, but Terry was a great sport, and refused to look out sir any saves from his commander to his supporting drones. The Tau Warlord did eventually fall, but this did not hinder Terry's victory. The game featured other heroic struggles, a scout sergeant's lone fight against a massive Tau battle suit, and a Fire Warriors failure to kill a Scout Heavy Bolter, who had the Tau commander in his sites for several turns. Once the Tau commander was dead the Heavy Bolter nonchalantly swatted the annoying Tau into the afterlife.

A brilliantly fun game. Thank you Terry for restoring my faith in 40K.

Pete and his Tyranid Flying Circus came first and Zach with his version of the Dark Angel Bike Army of Extreme Jinkiness came second (I think there were four DA bike armies taking part on the day). I managed 15th out of the 22 competitors. I cannot be disappointed by this, considering two of my three losses were against the top two. 

Above: the best painted army (sorry, I don't name of the owner)

Below: Other armies of prettiness.

On Reflection
My concerns, as a number of people pointed out to me on the day, is the current rock, paper, scissors nature of 40K tournament play. Now I don't want sound bitter, (by saying that I appreciate that it is exactly what I am doing, but if you are a regular reader of my log, you know that having a good and fun game, rather than victories, are my motivation for playing).

If I had taken some sky fire in my army, I doubt that it would have been enough to cause Pete any real concern. And if my army had contained loads of anti-flyer units I doubt it would have done well against anything else. Admittedly, I made my army choice knowing that if I did meet the flyer heavy army I was stuffed. Pete chose his army well and he knew himself that he would have been very unlikely to have come up against the perfect counter. With no disrespect to Pete, and anyone else who took only a few troops, I was just disappointed that with the tournaments focus on objective secured units, the traditionally 'strong' armies seemed to still do very well and win on the day.

I guess the age old question for TOs is how much, or if at all, do they restrict army composition to allow a 'fairer playing field' for all competitors. I appreciate, that the game is the game, but I think most players would agree that not all things are equal in some systems. 

The big question I now face is, do I want to play 40K tournaments anymore? The answer. Yes. As long as I get to the chance to have fun games. Of course there is no guarantee on this. Next time Alex, don't win your first two games. Simple.

Happy wargaming to you all.


  1. Great post Alex, and nice to see some more pictures. I was in attendance on the day with Codex Space Marines as well. I decided on a similar strategy to yourself and went with a heavy ObSec based list.

    Your reflections on the variety of army lists taken aren't new and there have been similar comments at most tournaments I've attended. Personally I'm not a fan of "comp" systems; some players will game them for the strongest build regardless, and some weaker builds can be doubly penalized by badly thought out comp rules. My preference is for the "comp by stealth" approach where certain styles of builds are encouraged by the mission design.

    If you aren't motivated to play for 1st place, then take a list you'll have fun with. Ideally take a list that's fun and will give a shot for first :)

  2. Doh. Posted anonymously. It's Bryan ^^

  3. Thanks Bryan for your visit and comment. I think you are right about mission design. I think Dave G. Is thinking about something along these lines for Octoberfest.

  4. Alex
    Great write up, thankyou for being kind, I do agree with your points. I started the Tyranid army aiming for a formation I. The Leviathan book which has these models and 3 units of OBsec Gargoyles as I loved the image of wings blocking out the sun. Unfortunately the formation doesn't fit well in 1000 points (it would be perfect at 1250) so I went with what I thought would be effective, I do agree it was unfair in balance in some of the games though.

    It's difficult to take both anti air and ignores cover in the same list (unless you're Tau) and both seem vital.

    I'm really glad your last answer was "yes" as I'd hate to put you off 40k as you offer a lot to the community. If you ever fancy a game on a Friday against a ground force, let me know I have several.


  5. Pete, thank you for visiting the blog and taking the time to comment. I look forward to taking you up on that challenge.

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks Kanan. It's good to see the good responses that the tournament received. Looking forward to the next one.

  7. A very interesting write up. I haven't played 40K in ages either, although I still have loads of stuff and am still a fan of the setting.

    I'm sure I'd have had fun at the tournament, because playing games against nice people with decent looking armies is always fun, but...

    These game reports don't make me want to come back to 40K. Even your own army actually doesn't look at all fun to me. Legions of bikes, skimmers and scouts is not the image that springs to my mind with I hear the words 'Iron Hands', although I appreciate you were merely using an army list with a different chapter (and I have no problem with 'counts as' armies). Some of the other armies looked even more unbalanced than yours and while a game you know you're going to lose can still be a lot of fun, it's not a great sign that you can tell who is going to win before you've even deployed.

    I'm not really sure what the solution is, because some people's lists which look really unbalanced and uncharacterful to me are very well themed in their owner's eyes.

    I guess it makes me appreciate the way the Dropzone Commander army lists really do for the most part ensure that armies are somewhat balanced against each other.

  8. Totally understand your thoughts and agree that armies in competitive tournaments are not always going to please the traditionalists. Drop Zone is by far the better balanced game at the moment. The vast range of armies in 40K and numerous special rules, special abilities and special formations with buffs make the chances of a balanced game unlikely anytime in the future. Mission design is the way forward.

  9. Thanks for the kind words. You've played game two like a champ denying me any chance of getting these extra bloodtithe points to bring in some more objective secured units. Great game, with a great player. Can't wait for the next one. Nico

    1. You are too kind Sir. I put a lot of faith in only going five turns and the luck fortunately went my way. As always a great game. I also look forward to your search for revenge.