For their February 40k tournament, Redcap’s ran a great doubles competition. Jason and I paired up as TEAM WOLFKOPF to hunt the fallen and purge the tainted. With such a badass name we basically had it in the bag beforehand and confidently approached the event as such, with a complete lack of pre-planning. Fortunately he’s pretty much got his set list caveat some detail quibbles, and I’ve got my set list, and away we go!
Turnout was really good, many armies were painted, and final standings evenly spread:
- Montgomery Shelmach (IG+Orks) 21
- Wolf Kop (SM+DA) 17 [Jason and Joe]
- Kielick Kielick (CM+CD) 14 [Colin and Brett]
- Harmon McCole (N+CM) 13 [Lovell and Tom]
- Culver O’Branty (GK) 12 [Buford and Lorenzo]
- Maroulis Wash 11
- D’Andrea Warrick (CM) 9
- Roe Barnhart 7 [Benn]
- Cook Mousen 6
- Dang Hinds 5
- Wolfson Lydon 4
As usual the missions were fairly straightup, though with very difficult bonus point conditions. E.g., a point in the middle round went to tabling your opponent in or before Turn 4. In the last round a point went toward securing effectively all of the secondary objectives. I’m actually a fan of that difficulty though as in theory it really helps differentiate the teams.
This was actually the first doubles tournament I’ve played, and I thought it was super awesome. Though I was too busy to coordinate well with Jason beforehand, once I sat down to get ready I was actually pretty excited. For one thing, doubles means you’re guaranteed to spend the day with someone you like rather than just a string of random and potentially less cool opponents (though the community at Redcap’s is pretty good). It also lets you unfocus here and there to regroup, take pictures, etc.. Having a partner also helps mitigate gaps and weaknesses. It’s pretty neat to see PAGE guys all over the top of these standings. Having all played together for so long and being both friendly and familiar with each other’s armies and styles, we’re well set to fare well as doubles.
Redcap’s has also increasingly dialed in their tournament format. Yesterday ran very smooth, had some extra time to account a bit for everyone playing slow, and had straightforward but good missions. The players are all pretty cool, and the terrain tables really good. Even the little touches are coming together, like having the relevant page numbers in the mission briefs.
I brought my standard Kingbreakers: Capt Angholan (Vulkan), Rorschach (Librarian), Sternguard in Drop Pod, Tactical w/ Razorback, Tactical w/ Rhino, 2x Landspeeders. Jason brought what appears to be his now-standard army: Huge group of dudes dropping with Belial, smaller group of dudes dropping on their own, 2x Combat Squads w/ Plasmacannons.
I contemplated changing things up, e.g., switching to a more defensive role with some Predators and other stand-back-and-shoot units. However: 1) That’s my best painted force. 2) With Belial and friends coming down Turn 1 and reliably targeted, it seemed not unreasonable to build on top of that with yet more first turn attacks, Drop Podding away as usual. On that line, I considered going all-Drop Pod for a pure alpha strike combined force, but point (1) overrode that idea.
The first game we went against Aaron and Bob’s Death Guard and Tau army in a Purge the Alien mission. I was particularly happy with this pairing for this mission. Annihilation is neither my nor my army’s strong suit, and I would have been more nervous against a more robust or assault-ready army. In this pairing though we were the harder, more assault oriented army. This pairing took away some potential stress in our weakest mission. On the downside, it was then unfortunate for us that the round was a Hammer and Anvil deployment, playing on the short edges.
The Tau rolled on the warlord traits to invoke Nightfighting, which would have been great for them with their Blacksun Filters were it not for our alpha strike already being up in their grill. The strike went fairly well and we started the game with a lot of energy. In the middle we lost some momentum as units began to flee the mobility limited alpha strike units. Playing across the length of the table, my oncoming mobile Tacticals had too far to go to get in contact with the squishy bits, particularly while getting shot up by Tau railguns. At the last though we pulled out a victory through a combo of Belial’s mega blob wiping out several units at once in the last turn and some Kingbreakers Tacticals ganging up to cut apart the Death Guard biker warlord in close combat.
The Tau/Death Guard combo is an interesting doubles or allied army: Plague Marines and standard Chaos troopers provide a hardish outer shell with a lot of durability, enabling the Tau to sit behind and ping away with heavier firepower. I don’t think Aaron and Bob’s particular lists were super optimized to that effect, in particular it needed more focus on Tau shooting and less on mobility to play that role, but I think the general combo has high potential.
Next we faced Walter’s Dark Eldar in the Scouring. This was an interesting matchup in that both armies are pretty mobile, in slightly different ways: He comes on slow but then can move a lot to wherever he needs to be. We come on hard wherever we need to be, but can’t move much after that. With six objectives on the table, all of varying worth, and a lot of mobility, the board wound up a sprawling mess with units everywhere. One downside for us is that the DE don’t really have high-value units to alpha strike, which was exacerbated by Walter reserving much of his force. On the upside, between the Deep Striking units and the mobilized Tacticals, we were able to be on, contesting, or immediately threatening all of the opposing Dark Eldar objectives on Turn 1.
The home front situation though was less rosy. One mistake we made in setup was falling into the easy trap of “playing fair” with our objectives. I think many people have some innate urge to spread objectives apart or put them in “reasonable” places. Ours were certainly spread across too much of a line in our deployment zone; we should have put them into a tighter triangle. As it was, we wound up with a bunch of small Combat Squads trying to hold a very thinly spread deployment zone. Most of them got rolled by large, mobile DE squads of Helions and Jetbikes.
Consequently, the middle of the game looked very grim for us, but we actually turned it around for a crushing victory. Once we recovered from significant early losses and lost objectives, we got back into what for me is the standard mode of play: Focus on the objectives, nothing else matters. You can bleed and bleed and bleed, but in the end if you’re holding the ground, you’re going to win.
That’s pretty much what happened. We lost almost everything, but in the end had a scoring unit—really just scoring dudes, the remainder of the units being obliterated—on the mid value objectives, contested the high value objective, kept troops off another, and had taken enough secondary objectives to completely swing the results. Excitingly, Belial even managed to slay the enemy warlord, netting us two victory points—one for standard secondary objective, the other for the Dark Angel leader’s personal Hunt.
Finally we faced Chris and Dante’s Chaos Marines in a contest over the Emperor’s Will. This was another super bloody confrontation and the atmosphere in TEAM WOLFKOPF HQ was pretty bleak for the bulk of it. In the end though it was another crushing victory for the good guys, driven by a trademark very bloody exchange of units for time and ground.
One thing we did right here was just straightup putting our home objective as hard into a corner as the rules allow, and building a dense block of Terminators and Tacticals around it. In the opposing corner, Chris did a good job of building a bubble wrap defense around his hard hitting units—a Vindicator and Rhino-mobilized maxed out sorcerers—to prevent the alpha strike from wiping them out. Critically though, he put that hard in the opposing corner. This made it really tough to hit effectively, but as it turned out did enable us to basically pin them in against that corner.
On the one hand we wasted ridiculous amounts of points there. Belial’s entire unit, almost 800 points, was wiped out after multiple sorcerers cast Feeble on it, debuffing them down weaker than Guardsmen. Almost 500 points of Sternguard and Librarian Rorschach were similarly wiped out after being decimated largely through our own fire: Scattered plasma blasts coming in from the back defenses, and—in the final insult—Rorschach obliterating a 35pt Rhino with an extremely risky but well placed Vortex of Doom, only to have the vehicle explosion wipe out ~150pts of Sternguard… This was all especially unfortunate as in some sense we hadn’t accomplished much, the Kingbreakers having failed to break open Rhinos and expose the contents for Belial to crush.
On the other hand, that’s what won the game. Though they eliminated little, all those burned points bought us precious time and ground pinning the enemy’s core into that corner. Sure, it looked really bad when that Rhino wiped out a ton of my guys. But as soon as it blew up, the enemy had basically zero chance of getting ground units anywhere near our home objective. In contrast, while all this had been going on, the Kingbreakers’ mobile Tac Squads had been bashing through the center of the table, again taking extravagant casualties, but getting in place to contest the Chaos objective at the end of the game. Combined with putting just enough focus on the secondary objectives and a couple lucky shots—e.g., a Demon Prince being Insta-gibbed in Turn 1 by a scattered Vortex of Doom!—and we carried the day.
Jason and I are both still weak against psychers and flyers. The sorcerers in Round 3 did an incredible amount of damage by debuffing Belial’s blob. This was a bit of an oversight on our part, we should have kept the Librarian closer to at least have a better shot to Deny the Witch or not put so many points quite so close to the sorcerers; we knew Belial would be in trouble, didn’t think it’d be that much trouble. Against the flyers I’m not sure what to do. We’d probably have to bring in some allied units with Skyfire so it’s at least realistic to shoot at them.
It helped us a lot that the games tended to play slow. Counter-intuitively, doubles games are probably naturally slower than standard play unless both teams really focus on acting in parallel. It also sneakily increases the number of points in play. In this case everybody approached it as a standard relaxed pace tournament, but in reality it was 2500pts in 2.5 hours, plus required coordination time with your partner. It really needed a ‘Ard Boyz/Apocalypse style focus on getting it done, but that wasn’t the initial mindset so nearly all tables and games wound up playing few rounds. With our alpha strike approach and insistence on giving away tons of units in exchange for ground, short games worked out to our benefit. In many cases we would not have been able to hold or contest objectives for much longer.
My Landspeeders did even worse than usual. They generally accomplished little and straight up gave away a couple victory points in one or two of the scenarios (First Blood, VP for FA Kill, etc). The one big caveat is that one of them did secure the second round win by being able to zip pretty far over and claim an open objective on the last move (Fast Attack being scoring units in the Scouring). Similarly to the point above, I really should have approached this more like the 2500pt tournament it was and been more careful with them, in contrast with a 1250pt tournament where there would be less things on the table capable of killing them.
Clearly the most important lesson of the day though, something I have to periodically remind myself: Don’t play with plasmacannons and Vortices of Doom in enclosed spaces!
As usual, there are more photos, with many more very nice armies, in the Flickr gallery.