40k: Alternate Universes 1850pt Tournament

kingbreakers-iconColin and I went to yesterday’s 1850pt 40k tournament at Alternate Universes.  There were 14 players.  Lots of Tau, tons of Space Marines in various flavors generic and wulfen, and a fair bit of Necron.  Colin wound up 6th after losing the final match at the top table and having his 3-0 hopes derailed.  I managed a whopping 12th of 14, taking three straight losses.  For the Emperor!

Going in I was expecting to lose at least two games.  The whole point was to fight some different armies and see these fabled Riptides, Necron flying circuses, and so on.  I wound up losing three games, so… Mission accomplished!  As a bonus, I did also tie for the Sportsmanship prize, which I put toward a ++–+– INQUISITION REDACTED –++-+.

More photos from my three games are in the gallery.

You're gonna need a bigger sword, yo.

You’re gonna need a bigger sword, yo.


My list was basically what I’ve been rolling lately, though I sacrificed a couple preferred options in the name of taking a fully painted army:

  • Capt Angholan—Vulkan
  • Librarian Rorschach—Librarian w/ Mastery Level 2, Terminator Armor, Storm Shield
  • Sternguard x5 w/ Drop Pod w/ 3x Combi-Meltas
  • Tacticals x10 w/ Vet Sgt, Razorback, Powerfist, Plasmagun, Missile Launcher
  • Tacticals x10 w/ Rhino, Vet Sgt, Melta Bombs, Meltagun, Missile Laucher
  • Tacticals x10 w/ Vet Sgt, Flamer, Missile Launcher
  • Devastators x9 w/ Vet Sgt, 2x Plasmacannons, 2x Heavy Bolters
  • Landspeeders  x3 w/ Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer
  • Predators x2 w/ Autocannon, Heavy Bolter sponsons
  • Aegis Defense Line w/ Quad-gun

In particular I dropped a Terminator squad I couldn’t get painted in return for a second Predator and some more Tactical and Devastator bodies.  I also took some less efficient bits and bobs just to fill out points a bit.  Among these, I decided to experiment with upgrading the Librarian to an Epistolary (ML 2).  I didn’t think this would be an efficient use of points, but I was hoping rolling twice on the charts would get me at least one useful power.

Round 1

First match I faced Frank, who wound up 2nd overall and taking the General’s award.  He brought 4 Night Scythes, 3 Annihilation Barges, a Riptide, and various friends.  The mission was distinctly unusual, objective based but with the objectives being the bodies of deceased characters.  That includes sergeants and such, so by the end there were a ton of markers all around the table.

Castle up!

Castle up!

My Army is a fairly shooty and defensive oriented Marine corps.  Without any Necron foot troops on the table to try and run out and kill, I stacked the gunline up tight in a back corner.  Sternguard went after the Riptide and met horrible blasting Interceptor death.  Landspeeders went after the Barges but couldn’t take them down fast enough.  The Quad-gun did tag a Night Scythe, but that just positioned its contingent running on from the table edge to claim the smoldering bodies of my Librarian and Sternguard sergeant.  The rest of the army just inexorably closed in, picking away at my units and eventually crushing them.

Ultimately I’ll have to think more about what to do against a force like this.  The Barges with their AV13 shield are very tough to take down with most ranged shooting, and deliver a lot of punishment on their own.  The Riptide warrants a careful approach.  I’ll have to consider that; Snipers, Sternguard playing defensively, I’m not sure what.  If there were objectives to go for and try to stand on this would have maybe been more competitive, but the weird not-kill points, not-objectives setup kind of left me flummoxed, on top of a hard opponent army I haven’t faced before.

As a side note, it was kind of funny getting about halfway into Turn 2 and realizing I was defending terrain some of Tom M’s buildings.

Necrons, Necrons, everywhere.

Necrons, Necrons, everywhere.

Round 2

Next I faced Alex, who wound up 5th overall, and his Necron foot horde.  Three Annihilation Barges, bunches of 10-man Warriors and Immortals, and a squad of Lychguards.  The mission was a variant on the Relic with 2 markers at the center of the table and different rules on moving them.

For a long while it looked like this mission would be close but go my way.  My gunline was able to pick apart a lot of undead, the Sternguard got one Annihilation Barge, and I got a lucky break on another immobilizing itself largely out of harm’s way on terrain.  Marines were able to swarm up and around the objectives and were just about to start running them back when the Lychguard teleported in from the backfield.  Massed shooting nearly obliterated them…  But then they all stood back up.  Mildly annoyed, they counter-multi-charged into nearly all of the Kingbreakers’ vehicles at once.  Their warscythes destroyed all of them, crippling the Imperials in one fell blow.

Over the top!

Over the top!

First rank, fire!  Second rank, fire!

First rank, fire! Second rank, fire!

After that the remaining Kingbreakers troops valiantly strove to secure the relics but each fell to a man.  Defensive units kept up suppressive fire on the ridge afterward, but eventually the Necron Lord was able to crawl up, grab a relic, and slink away like the cowardly xenos he is.  The other relic was snatched by the Lychguard as they ran over the hill and high footed it back toward their lines.

This could have gone another way fairly easily I suppose.  Without the Lychguard surviving en masse and able to hit every vehicle at once, the Kingbreakers would have been much better positioned to push back the undead tide as the designated looters ran for home with the relic.  Though it’s pretty tough against the Necrons, to a large extent I think my army has enough shooting to manage reasonably well with this sort of horde.

Round 3

Finally I faced Cliff and his mix of Space Wolves and Crimson Fists with Drop Pods and lots of Missile Launchers in a Kill Points mission.  I rolled to pick table half as well as to go first.  The table was not arranged well, with one half wide open and essentially no terrain.  I castled up in the terrain, not as advantageous to me as it would be against standard Deep Strikers instead of Pods, but it left several of Cliff’s units wide out in the open.  They almost but not quite went down to massed shooting in the first turn.  After that the game was kind of indeterminate.  It was not a fast playing game, and we wound up playing only 3 turns, at which point Cliff had guys in position to run onto terrain objectives, wipe out a couple Landspeeders, and claim victory.

Stalking the alleys...

Stalking the alleys…

Crashing the gates.

Crashing the gates.

General Thoughts

It was obviously rough taking three straight losses, but that was the expectation going in.  The group at Redcap’s just isn’t fielding Riptides, tons of flyers, etc., and a lot of that stuff you need to see to learn how to fight.  You can’t really appreciate what a Riptide is bringing until you’ve had to go after one.  Beyond that, this was also a friendly and welcoming group, so it was a good time.  There were also a lot of really nice looking armies, which was a nice change.  I don’t go to many tournaments, but it’s been my observation that more competitive groups are actually more likely to have pretty nice armies around.  After all, the guys are committed, have been playing a long time, and spend a lot of time on it, so the armies get painted.


The one strong army note I have is that the Librarian is almost certainly getting the boot.  Even pulling two powers, in several games I didn’t get anything particularly worthwhile even for a more defensive footing.

The Quad-gun was fortunate to at least do some damage, including down a flyer—some would say its whole purpose in being—so it can stay.  For now.  Predators and Devastators did their usual good job, though between the Aegis and them my defensive base has a bit too large and unwieldy of a footprint.  I could have definitely used the Terminators in their usual bubble wrap role however.  That would have made a big difference in Round 3, and probably in Round 2 as well.

More than that though, the day raised thoughts about tournaments in general.

Death comes for us all.

Death comes for us all.


As far as I could decipher, AU applies a fairly systematized scheme for the painting component of the competition scores, so questions of subjectivity and so on are greatly mitigated, though not eliminated.  Without an organized viewing of some sort it seems tough to get votes for the separate Best Painted Army prize, but my takeaway is that this requires showing up early to have your guys on display while everyone’s chilling, and having a cool display board to grab eyeballs.

Beyond that, it was definitely cool to have a bunch of nice looking armies around.  Clearly the painting score component encourages guys to take that seriously.  But there were also guys who’d borrowed friends’ models precisely because of that score, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some (though probably not many) were commissioned.  That’s kind of weird.


Though I didn’t play much beforehand, my impression is that a lot of progress was made in 5th edition to eliminate comp scores and FOC restrictions that enfeebled a lot of armies and skewed the competition.  This was possible because things were somewhat balanced, at least at times.  I think 6th edition is on track to reverse that trend though.  There’s just so much crazy out there, and more coming out all the time, even before you throw in allies.  I guess the pace at which the game is changing could be argued to itself be a balance, but I don’t think that’s how people will respond.

I always assume the Necron Lords are cackling hideously, monotonally, continuously throughout every game.

I always assume the Necron Lords are cackling hideously, monotonally, continuously throughout every game.

AU seems to be dealing with that by reminding people that the games are supposed to be “fun,” and threatening to drop the hammer on “abusive” lists.  That mild mannered form of comp/FOC is as problematic over the long term as the formal version though, and in some ways worse.  It’s much more subjective and variable not having an actual specified set of restrictions to plan against.  Fuzzy lines also create an imbalance, wherein some people try to stay well away from what they guess to be the line, fielding weaker armies than others that either perceive the boundary differently or are willing to push it, knowing they’ll “get away with it” because it’s not a hard line.


It was also somewhat eye opening hanging out for a bit in a different, very vocal, very stereotypical gaming group.  Between the language, the teasing, and the sophomoric horseplay, I can easily see why not everyone, especially girls and women, would perhaps not be comfortable in such a group.  It’s so easy to develop an insular culture that isn’t appealing to the larger world.  By no means a bad group, quite the opposite, but the atmosphere is quite a bit different and more boys-club from that now at Redcap’s or formerly at PAGE.

They came from everywhere, and nowhere!

They came from everywhere, and nowhere!