NOVA Open 40k Trios Recap

kingbreakers-iconThis year I went to the NOVA Open weekend for the first time. I went with Colin & Jason W for the Trios Tournament and 40k Narrative Warlords+Nightfighter, while John L and Carl also went for the two Narrative tracks. The Harmons also came down for the Warmachine/Hordes and Infinity tournaments. I’m hoping to have a couple posts up this week recapping the whole affair.

First up is my first event: The Trios Tournament with Jason and Colin. It’s a cool format, in which three players team up to each play two 1000pt doubles games and a single 2000pt solo game; each round the team gets to choose the doubles based on their match opponents and mission. There was also competition for Best Theme, encompassing the narrative story of why your armies are fighting together, the display board, and overall appearance. We spent a ridiculous amount of time on this part when we should have been just practicing. Our final story was vague but something along the lines of the Kingbreakers emerging triumphant from their fortress monastery after returning with Dark Angels, Imperial Fist, and Blood Angels friends to retake it years after the fall of Forestway. In the end sizable chunks of our armies weren’t finished, barely primed in my case, and there was no detail painting on the fortress, but the sheer size and detail combined with the all-Space Marine armies made it look good.

The display board two weekends out.

The display board two weekends out.

The fortress the day before the tournament.

The fortress the day before the tournament.

Furiously painting literally through the night going into the tournament.

Furiously painting literally through the night going into the tournament.

The chapter rides forth.

The chapter rides forth.

The wall-top shrine.

The wall-top shrine.

No castle's complete without a turbo-laser.

No castle’s complete without a turbo-laser.

The Knight Errant Greenheart, sans pants, goes out from the main gate.

The Knight Errant Greenheart, sans pants…

A few more photos of the individual models and armies are in the Flickr gallery.

Game 1

Jason & I vs Ryan & Andy’s Necrons and Eldar: Crushing loss (1 to 10). This mission was cumulatively scoring objectives, all three of them placed along the diagonal outside the Vanguard deployment zones. We just didn’t score enough points each turn to keep up. Their Wave Serpents had more than enough mobility to contest my Drop Podding guys on the quartile objectives, with Objective Secured overriding my Sternguard on one. Critically my third Drop Pod did not come in from reserve in time to contest the central objective and prevent the Necrons from swarming all over it. Meanwhile a Crimson Hunter went wherever it was needed and blasted away at our Imperials.

The Silent King's troops awaken.

The Silent King’s troops awaken.

Kingbreakers huddle up amongst the ruins of a xenos invasion.

Kingbreakers huddle up amongst the ruins of a xenos invasion.

Game 2

Colin & I vs Todd & Ronald’s Eldar and Tyranids: Crushing win (5 to 2). Five objectives, scored equally at game end, Hammer and Anvil zones. We were up for a while, but they pulled it together to make it a close run thing in the endgame. Our forces spent a lot of time fighting back Tyranids, which left a lot of very mobile Eldar to branch out at the end toward multiple objectives. Fortunately we had the right guys in just the right places all over the board and made some lucky rolls in the closing moments: Scouts assaulted some Windrider Jetbikes that had swooped onto our home objective and made enough saves to contest the ground; Tacticals made a hard rush on foot to run around a Wave Serpent and contest Dire Avengers on our previously unprotected home flank by mere fractions of an inch; Terminators crushed several monsters to claim table center; Belial and Captain Angholan tanked a punishing amount of fire to shield Sgt Scolirus as he powerfisted a Wave Serpent into oblivion in the last moment to claim an opposing home objective. All of that happened in the bottom of the last turn as time ran out!

Big momma.

Big momma.

Flyers inbound!

Flyers inbound!

Terminators flood the corridors of the ravaged city.

Terminators flood the corridors of the ravaged city.

Belial and Scolirus lead the forward charge.

Belial and Scolirus lead the forward charge.

Game 3

Me vs Jason’s Salamanders: Minor loss? Draw? I can’t actually remember and didn’t write it down, but believe the former. Mission was Dawn of War deployment, four objectives plus the Relic at table center (a moveable objective). This was also a close game, though I’m fairly confident that if I had another shot at it I could convert this near mirror match into a win. By this point I was going on nearly no sleep for many days between prep, driving, and non-40k activities in the preceding week, and had been playing 1000 points for both of the previous games. All of a sudden I had to switch mindset to a 2000 pt army and just didn’t make the transition well. For literally more than half the game I totally forgot about Coteaz, and made a number of other similar mistakes throughout. Without that sloppyness alone I think it would have ended very differently. One interesting thing was that Jason’s Thunderfire Cannon really hampered my Knight, forcing it to move as if in difficult terrain via Tremor shells and preventing it from clearing the large line of sight blockers at table center fast enough to get shots on critical targets.

Salamanders come-a-knockin' to settle once & for all if Kingbreakers are actually a descendant chapter or not...

Salamanders come-a-knockin’ to settle once & for all if Kingbreakers are actually a descendant chapter or not…

Squad Titus corners some jerk named Vulkan.

Squad Titus corners some jerk named Vulkan.


I have no idea where we placed, but I’m sure we were down near the bottom. Results were never published as far as I know. This was one of the three execution areas to be improved in an otherwise really fun & interesting tournament. Another was that set-up, judging, and player voting for army theme & appearance was somewhat slap-dash and disorganized. Hardly anybody actually saw our display because there was no set time or space for checking out everyone’s setups and ours wasn’t practical to have up all day, something we have to keep in mind for the future. Finally, the rule packet could also have stood quite a bit of editing and clarification, which we’d be happy to help with. However, the TOs Troy and James were great guys and it’s a fun, novel tournament format. I really enjoyed it despite not doing well. I think I’d like to see the solo mission reduced in points so it’s less of a leap from the 1k games if you play it at the end of the day, but also appreciate the challenge of handling both and making that transition. I would definitely be up for this event again.

In the end though we did win the Best Theme award. Another team apparently actually won the voting, but they also won the tournament overall so we got bumped up. This was pretty cool, and definitely rewarded both the effort on our fortress monastery display board as well as not going with a more powerful but random, non-fluffy collection of armies.

Again, a few more photos of our armies and many from the games are in the Flickr gallery.

The team w/ tournament organizers James and Troy at the awards ceremony.

The team w/ tournament organizers James and Troy at the awards ceremony.

Well, guess we're doin' Space Wolves for next year's armies...

Well, guess we’re doin’ Space Wolves for next year’s armies…

Redcap’s 40k 1000pt December Tournament

kingbreakers-iconColin, Jason, Justin, Lovell, and I went out for Redcap’s December monthly tournament yesterday.  Three games, 1000pts, standard missions and force organization.  Final standings:

  • Chaos Marines (Chris)—16
  • Tyranid (Byron)—11
  • Tie: Chaos Marines (Colin) and Chaos Marines (James)—10
  • Space Marines (Joe)—9
  • Eldar (Justin)—8
  • Dark Angels (Jason)—7
  • Tyranid (Lovell)—4

Missions were drawn from the standard rulebook with straightforward bonuses:

  • Big Guns Never Tire/Hammer and Anvil/Bonus: No enemy units in their deployment zone.
  • Crusade/Dawn of War/Bonus: Warlord ends game in enemy deployment zone.
  • Relic/Vanguard Strike/Bonus: Your warlord slays enemy warlord.

These were my first games in 6th edition after a good length hiatus in general.  In addition to the PAGE guys going, this tournament worked out well as a re-introduction.  The low points limit kept out crazy units and complicated rules, as well as giving plenty of time to play.



I took a pretty simple list, inspired by two criterion:

  • I was willing to bend on this, but I really wanted to take a fully painted force.
  • I wanted to keep everything super simple and familiar to me so I could just focus on the core 6ed rule changes.

I wound up taking 1000pts exactly:

  • Captain Angholan (Vulkan)
  • Sternguard x10 w/ Powersword, 6xCombi-Meltas, Multi-Melta, Drop Pod
  • Tactical x10 w/ Powerfist, Plasmagun, Missile Launcher, Razorback w/ Hunter-Killer
  • Tactical x10 w/ Chainsword, Meltagun, Missile Launcher, Rhino w/ Hunter-Killer

In the end everything was painted except the magnetized hunter-killers and two guys’ bases.

Round 1

First I faced Justin and his Eldar.  All four objectives wound up tightly clustered near the center of the table.  For my part, I’d encouraged this because I figured it would lead to more close combat scraps over objectives, which I figured my stalwart Marines would tend to win.

In the end I claimed a massacre, but it was super bloody.  I only had five guys plus the captain and a Rhino left, facing fifteen or more Eldar.  However, the Eldar had all been pushed away from the objectives and had not claimed any bonuses.  One interesting thing about this was that much of it was done by tank shocking the Eldar away from objectives.  This was done a couple times, but a late game charge by the remaining empty Rhino cleared the Eldar off their last objective, swinging the Kingbreakers from a major victory to a massacre.  Also of note was that my captain’s Warlord Trait made him a scoring unit.  In the end it didn’t matter in some sense as a single tactical Marine was left standing on the central objective with him, but it seemed powerful that the highly robust (2+/3++) Angholan would have been able to hold that objective all by himself.

Usually you should try to *not* be completely surrounded...

Usually you should try to *not* be completely surrounded…

Round 2

Next came Chris, the eventual winner, and his Chaos Marines.  He was able to tightly cluster three objectives in his zone.  I put my two pretty far away, more or less tucked into a relatively remote corner.  The final score on victory points wound up being 10–8, Chaos.

For the most part this was a fairly close game.  Other than three Rhinos, Chris didn’t have a ton of mobility, so I felt fairly safe leaving just a combat squad each to guard my two home objectives, and they indeed wound up unmolested the whole game.  The Sternguard dropped into the heart of the Chaos objective cluster and did a reasonable job of gumming up everything in there.  Between pressure from them and a flanking sweep from the remaining Tac Marines, the Chaos right side was rolling up and at least a third objective definitely achievable, if not a fourth.  As expected though, a pair of Obliterators came down behind that flank and I decided to fight them.  On the one hand, they got pretty lucky and rolled a large number of 5+ saves for several turns, stalling out my entire offensive.  On the other hand, I maybe should have just ignored them; it was probably a mistake to fight them rather than just roll on.  They would have been lethal, but if the push had just kept going it may have been able to gain enough distance to settle on the objective and effectively ignore them.  Contrarily though, they’re not as slow as they used to be with the changes to Slow + Purposeful, so that would not have been as effective a move as in 5e.

Oblits begin to stall out the Kingbreakers' flanking rush.

Oblits begin to stall out the Kingbreakers’ flanking rush.

One other thought about the mission was that allowing the first player to place an uneven number of objectives seems like a significant advantage.  Especially when they’re playing armies that want to get into a close quarters fight, it seems unfortunate for the first player to be given a significant lead from the get-go and be able to play more defensively.

Also, between all the Traits, Boons, and Demon Weapons, even fairly standard Chaos Lords seem to be able to throw down an astounding number of close combat attacks now.

Chaos hunkers down around the local watering hole...

Chaos hunkers down around the local watering hole…

Round 3

After that slight loss I went against Byron and his Tyranid.  To some extent I was starting to fade here.  Between getting up super early to cram for a few hours on the new rules and already playing for 4 hours, it was a fair bit of 40k from a cold start.  Compounding that, I don’t have a ton of experience against the latest Tyranid codex.  It seems like it has fared well with the new rulebook.  I thought it also well suited for the Relic mission.  A Tervigon with Iron Arm cast on it is a pretty imposing scoring unit for carrying the relic around…

Oh yeah, you bad!  (this Tervigon's actually in Lovell's army)

Oh yeah, you bad! (this Tervigon’s actually in Lovell’s army)

I think my biggest problem though was not having any psychic protection.  It’s tough to fit two Marine HQs into 1000pts and Vulkan’s so useful that I’m not sure I’d have taken a librarian even if I hadn’t consciously set him aside as I wouldn’t have been really up on the new rules for using him.  However, a hood or something would be really useful.  Most of the Tyranid spent the game walking around covered by a Telekine Dome, both making them extraordinarily harder to kill than they usually are, and hurting my own guys as shots bounced back.  If I’d been able to counter that at least once in a while things could have turned out much differently from the massacre it wound up.

Generally, this kind of scene won't end well for humanity...

Generally, this kind of scene won’t end well for humanity…

General Analysis

I knew this going on and ignored it in favor of a simple and familiar army, but my list had really a lot of points spent on Sternguard for this size game.  There generally aren’t enough juicy units lying around for them to recoup points in the alpha-strike fashion I tend to play them.  They did ok, but for this size battle there just aren’t big enough targets for them to be really effective in that way.

As noted, I’ll probably have to reevaluate my tradeoffs on different HQs at different point levels.  Vulkan was definitely very useful throughout the day, as usual.  But a librarian would have dramatically altered the final round.  I haven’t fully digested the new rules and tables, but I could believe 6ed will accelerate the already strong resurgence of psychers as something you need to be able to at least counter.

The new missions also place even more emphasis on scoring units.  Even setting aside inevitable casualties, if you don’t have the ability to credibly hold at least three objectives, you’re probably not going to be competitive.  It would be good for me to work in one or two cheap rearguard scoring units, potentially Guard or Tau allies.

In general I’ll have to really study the missions.  For example, in the Relic mission, it almost seems not worth really worrying about the Relic and instead focusing on taking and denying the bonuses as together they’re worth just as much.  I’ll also have to think about the tournament format Redcap’s has converged on.  Being able to take that single tournament bonus point in just a mission or two could really make the difference.

6th Edition

Overall I’m super happy with sixth edition 40k as I learn more about it.  Continuing the vast improvements made in 5th, the rulebook seems even better written and less ambiguous.

I’m very excited about the changes to vehicles, I think they got cut down quite a bit but without clearly going too far.  Even if nothing else, it’s great to have a much more predictable idea of when a vehicle will go down, based on chipping away at hull points.

I’m also pretty excited about Allies.  I think it can lead to a bit of gameyness and some hard-to-justify fluff.  However, it does open up a lot of options for mixing and matching to counter strengths and weaknesses.  It’ll also allow a lot more modeling without the commitment to fielding an entire army.  I’ll never field a full Guard or Tau force anytime soon, but I’m pretty excited to now have a realistic reason to put some together.

Allies = Interdimensional BFFs?

Allies = Interdimensional BFFs?

I have mixed feelings about putting wounds on the closest models.  It’s more intuitive to newcomers than the previous wound pools, but certainly didn’t speed up gameplay—repeatedly rolling individual wounds in cases where it matters can be extremely slow.  In thematic ways it’s unfortunate now that there’s a lot of incentive to not have your sergeants or whatnot leading the group.  It also slows things down as much more care now has to be placed on very precise model placement, where everybody is in the unit.  To me this is unfortunate as I don’t generally find it that interested, and often problematic: There’s only so much precision you can have with these kinds of games, between terrain, eyeballing tape measures, and so on.  That focus on precise placement is a big part of what I really don’t like about Warmachine/Hordes and Battlefleet Gothic, both otherwise excellent games.  On the other hand, it can bring a lot of strategy and narrative to movement.  For example: Do you put Vulkan and his crazy armor up front, shielding the way for a tac squad as they rush headlong into torrents of fire?  That’s a thought provoking tradeoff to have to make, in addition to having a great dramatic component.

All in all though, things seem even more streamlined and yet more strategic, and I was already pretty happy with 5th edition 40k.

There are a few more photos from the day in my Flickr gallery.

Not typically what you want to see over the castle walls, no...

Not typically what you want to see over the castle walls, no…