Wednesday, November 22, 2017

NMTBW Painting Competition - Single Miniature Categories (pic heavy)

Following on from Monday's post which featured the Best Army and Best Conversions awards, today we'll take a look at the entries in the single miniatures categories namely Best Character and Best Vehicle or Monster.

Best Character Runners Up
First up Ian Plumpton's Cadre Fireblade. It's a shame Ian didn't have his Stormsurge ready for the monster category since he won it at one of my previous events but nonetheless there's clearly a lot of time put into a comparatively small model:

In second place with a single vote more than Ian was Cal Goodger's Iron Warriors Daemon Prince. I had the pleasure of playing Cal in my final game of the day so come back and check out the battle report for more pictures of his force:

Best Character - Winner
Liam could've ligitimately entered his Mortarion into the best Monster Category or even Best Conversions but it's models like this that make me glad I limit players to a single category. He'd certainly have swept the board otherwise and, whilst well deserved, I think it's better to encourage more people to enter. Anyway, I'm sure you'll agree that Liam has created something stunning with his Morty. At some point I'll have to get on and paint my Grotesques that I commissioned Liam to build. Anyway, here's the big guy:

Best Vehicle or Monster Runners Up
First up, Tom Capper's Blood Angels Cerberus. Note that as this is a Forge World model it wasn't legal at the event but I saw no reason not to allow him to enter into the painting competition:

My personal favourite was Jonathan Lyness' Traitor Knight which closer followed the artwork from the Renegade boxed set from GW:

Particularly interesting for me was Keith Duncan's Ryza Onager Dunecrawler as if I ever create an Ad Mech force it'd also be in the Ryza scheme to match my Knights:

Finally, Jeremy Morris' Daemon Prince:

Best Vehicle or Monster Winner
In what was almost a three way tie with Jonathan Lyness and Keith Duncan, Ben Houghton managed to win the category by a single vote when I figured out that someone had written the number down wrong and voted for Matt Calow who hadn't even entered! Anyway, Ben's Vanquisher was a worthy winner although again my photos don't do it justice:

Right, that's it for the painting competition. Inspiring as ever and it makes me determined to finally paint a force that I'd feel proud to display. Obviously I'll have to find another event to do so though....

Monday, November 20, 2017

NMTBW Painting Competition - Best Army & Best Conversions (pic heavy)

I decided to keep the Double Trouble format for the painting competition. This means four categories, each with a separate prize. These are Best Painted Army, Best Conversions, Best Painted Character and Best Painted Vehicle or Monster. Players can only enter into a single category to prevent one player from sweeping the board and to allow people to focus on a particular miniature if that's their preference.

Anyway, there were some great entries as always. Today I'll focus on the Best Army and Best Conversions awards and then later in the week I'll post with the entries from the single miniature awards. First up, the Best Painted Army offerings.

Best Painted Army - Runners Up
Nick Thrower's Dusk Knights space marines were looking great on their hazard striped display board. Anyone who reads Nick's blog will be familiar with this army but it's the first time they've been treated to a formal display board. Apologies for the blurry pictures but head over to his blog for better ones:

Next up Ryan Kemp's stunning Alpha Legion force:

In a close second place, just a single vote away from victory was the perennial painting competition superpower Dave Weston and his awesome Dark Angels force with his huge display board:

Best Painted Army - Winner
Finally, the worthy winner and a newcomer at my events, Toby Liddiard with his Custodes force featuring a ludicrous amount of NMM:

Apologies to Toby because I don't think my pictures really do that army justice. I'm sure there'll be better pictures around but I always end up rushing mine as I'm trying to get the round one results entered and find time to eat my lunch!

Best Conversions
Not a huge amount of interest in this category with just two entries. There was a runaway winner here with Graham Sander's Tyranids taking all but two of the votes which went to Greg Barber's Taurox:

Come back on Wednesday for the single miniature entries.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

NMTBW - The Aftermath

Yesterday I hosted my 13th 40K event, Nevermind the Blog Wars (NMTBW) at the Element Games North West Gaming Centre (EGNWGC for the acronym fans). Veterans of my events will remember that I killed off Blog Wars with Blog Wars X (BWX) in November 2015 so it's been two years since I've organised a singles 40K event. This was partly down to the complicated mess that 7th edition was and also to try to find more hobby time. Well, my armies haven't exactly transformed into beautifully painted masterworks so I figured, sod it, I may as well stick to what I'm good at and go back to event organisation!

This was also my first event in 8th edition so there were a lot of things to think about. I tried to avoid over-complicating the day with custom objective cards like I've had in the past and kept the same combined mission in all three rounds. With the benefit of hindsight I probably went overboard with the restrictions but when I came up with them GW hadn't addressed things like flyer and conscript spam. Maybe this time next year 40K will be a balanced system with a robust ruleset and.... nope couldn't keep a straight face. We'll just have to wait and see how the codexes pan out.

Anyway, I kept a similar scoring system to that used at BWX with victory points converted into a tournament score which took into account the margin of victory.

  • 30 TP for a win, with a VP difference of 31 or more
  • 25 TP for a win, with a VP difference of 15-30
  • 20 TP for a win, with a VP difference of 1-15
  • 15 TP for a draw
  • 10 TP for a loss, with a VP difference of 1-15
  • 5 TP for a loss, with a VP difference of 15-30
  • 0 TP for a loss, with a VP difference of 31 or more

Click to enlarge to a legible size
Congratulations to Greg Barber for winning in his first appearance at one of my events. Equal congratulations to Matt Calow on scooping the Wooden Spoon. I think he was probably happier than he really should've been!

Well it doesn't take a genius to work out that Astra Militarum are pretty strong at the moment with 5 of the top 6 players using them! It probably also doesn't help that they've got so many cheap units that they can circumvent most comp. I'd love to hear from people who played with or against them, do you think they were too much? Is there anything I can do to counter this?

What's interesting is that if you compare the first round of NMTBW to BWX there were roughly the same percentage of tablings. It's usually more of a problem in round one as the random pairings make for some horrible mismatches at times. Swiss pairings only really started to improve things in the final round with just 3 tablings in the 15 matchups. Also, the victory margins were generally smaller too. It's something I've tried to figure out a solution to in the past but I think it's just something we have to accept as a problem with one-day events.

I know the scoring system is a little different to most events as it rewards margin of victory over pure VPs scored. If you re-sort the list on total points scored (Maelstrom and blood points combined), Chris Nettleship would win (4th) and there'd be big jumps for Mark Crombleholme (16th to 5th) and Nick Thrower (17th to 9th). Reassuringly the bottom three would remain the same though! Perhaps the system should be changed so it rewards "strength of schedule". That would probably mitigate the randomness of a one-day event but crushing your opponent would be pointless as you'd actually get less points!

As ever, I'd love to know what you guys think about every aspect of the event. Did you like the scoring system? Did you feel penalised by it? How was the venue? Was there enough scenery? What about lunch? I'm particularly keen to hear about what you thought about round times and points level. I don't think people were getting many turns in in a lot of cases. I wish I'd put a box for it on the scorecards actually. Anyway, please let me know in the comments here, on the NMTBW/DT facebook page or by email.

I'd like to continue running singles events as that's where I started and they're still the core of the competitive 40K scene. The next NMTBW probably won't be called that. I think I need to come up with a new name entirely. I still have people asking if you had to blog to buy a ticket and the name doesn't exactly scream awesome 40K event. Still, I had fun ripping off the Never Mind the Buzzcocks logo. I'm open to suggestions for what my next event should be called. In fact I might even run a competition for it, well on the condition that no-one suggests Tournamenty McTournamentface (or something similar)!

Don't worry though, I'll continue to run Double Trouble in June with DT3 (acronym overload) taking place on June 9th 2018 (save the date - tickets on sale in the new year). I'll have to have a think about how to handle 8th edition but stay tuned.

Also stay tuned for the painting competition and a report of my battles. All that's left for me to say is once again a big thank you to the guys who came along and particularly the folks who show up time and time again. I appreciate the support as always.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The NMTBW Pie Charts Post!!

Well, that has to have been the worst list checking session I've ever done. Well, I say session, I've actually been at it for three nights since the deadline (I had Monday off!). I'd estimate I've spent about 8 hours on it. We've got 32 players in attendance this time so that's 15 minutes per list which isn't bad. Obviously some of the lists were significantly quicker to check than others (I'm looking at you, Guard players!). Anyway, thank you to everyone for submitting on time. Whilst it may have been the worst session yet it was definitely one of the easiest in terms of chasing people up for lists. There also haven't been many drop outs this time compared to previous events (still time yet I suppose!).

For those new to my events, a few years ago I started a tradition of meaningless statistical analysis of the submitted lists and I draw spurious conclusions from them in an attempt to convince myself that this was worth the effort!

Before I get into the usual pie charts I wanted to comment on the number of list errors I've encountered this time round. I think it's probably been the highest proportion ever. Something I think warrants a pie chart of its own:
I was pretty worried after Saturday night when I checked 8 lists and found 4 of them to be incorrect in some way. I think it's important to point out that I'm not trying to have a dig at people but I'm more trying to highlight how difficult it is to get things right with the way GW have written out the points in the books. Of the 8 returned lists, only one of them was for restriction breach and it was an easy one to miss. There doesn't seem to be a particular trend to a bad faction or anything like that. I thought about doing a specific pie chart to show the incorrect factions but as you'll see later some of them only appear once so it'll be pretty obvious who they were and I don't think that's fair. Instead I've broken it down into Imperium, Chaos and Xenos:

I don't really think there's a particular problem with any faction. The Astra Militarum lists were difficult but I suspect that's because Battlescribe isn't great for them and they naturally have a ton of units with low cost upgrades. Right, with that out of the way let's get onto the proper pies.

The Pie Charts
As is the tradition, let's start with the faction breakdown pie (click to enlarge if the text isn't clear):
Well, unsurprisingly there's a sizeable chunk of Astra Militarum (IG) lists. Not all of these were pure Guard though with a smattering of Inquisition, Assassins, GK, etc. mixed into them. Still, the popular opinion that Guard are powerful at the moment seems to bear out in the popularity at NMTBW. It'll be interesting to see how they fare though. Of the other newer books, CSM have made a bit of a resurgence from being quite a niche army at previous events. Space Marines are still there in numbers but nothing like as much as before. In fact, power armour isn't as popular and only one of the lists (I think) had Primaris marines involved. 

As ever, I'm thrilled that there's such a good spread of factions involved. In fact, with the exception of Death Guard and Genestealer Cults, every faction is represented in one way or another. I don't know about you but I think that's awesome. I'm pleased to see Harlequins making what I think is their first appearance at NMTBW.

There are no pure Daemons lists and only a couple of T'au lists. That's probably not surprising given the consensus of opinion about these two factions at the moment. Here's hoping their codexes address the issues. It'll be interesting to see how this changes with another year and hopefully a full complement of codexes.

Let's look now at the number of Imperium, Chaos and Xenos lists combined:

Firstly, ooooooo I discovered how to make these pie charts look flashier as I was making this one. No, I can't be arsed to go back and redo the others. Tough titties. Anyway, the flexibility of the Imperium over the other factions makes them a popular choice. It's difficult for non-Imperium players to feel cheated. Non-Aeldari xenos players could quite reasonably feel even more hard done to with just a single book to choose from. I'm semi-tempted to merge the results of the Imperium vs. "Everyone Else" since there's a 50:50 split but we'll see if I can be bothered on the day.

Lords of War
Next up, let's look at the number of Lords of War involved. With Forge World excluded and the 25 wound restriction there were only a limited number of options available. I hadn't realised that the Baneblade and its variants are 26 wounds until quite close to the deadline when someone pointed it out. I didn't intentionally exclude them whilst allowing other factions there's but still, I don't think Guard players need much help in the tank front.

I'd already done these pies before I discovered the snazzify option so they look a bit crap now but they do the job. As you can see there's a quarter of the lists featuring a LoW but let's break it down:

Unsurprisingly, both of the DG lists feature Mortarion and the Thousand Sons have brought Magnus along. I'm surprised there weren't more Imperial Knight as they're under the 25 wound cap and also (unless I've missed something) you could've brought 4 of them and stayed in the restrictions. I'm glad no-one has obviously but I thought someone would at least try it on! Have to say I considered it for my list to make my games quick but figured it'd be pretty miserable to play with and against. It's surprising that there's no Wraithknights but with only two Aeldari players it probably doesn't mean much. I do think they're overcosted though.

One of the biggest changes in 8th was a standardised pool of detachments for all factions. Previous editions had this but in recent years we've had a lot of faction specific detachments and the Marmite of 40K, formations. The tournament restrictions allowed up to 3 unique detachments and people built their lists as follows:

As you can see, the majority of lists needed two detachments to fill 2,000pts. The most popular combinations of two detachments being Battalion-Spearhead and Battalion-Super Heavy Auxillary closely followed by Battalion-Vanguard. I suspect this was generally a bid to gain a couple of extra command points as most of the lists could've been contained into a single Battalion detachment. Around a quarter of the lists used a single detachment and unsurprisingly the most popular by far was the Battalion. I suspect that's down to how used to the old CAD we'd become.

Let's take a more detailed look at the detachments used:

Of the 61 total detachments at NMTBW a whopping 29 of them are Battalions. Again, that's not really surprising. It's interesting that the Outrider, Patrol and Air Wing are barely used. It would seem that Elite and Heavy Support choices are more popular than Fast Attack! I'm also impressed that two players not only managed to fill a Brigade but also that they included other detachments too!! Obviously it goes without saying that these are Guard players!! I'ts also interesting to note at this point that only one player out of the 32 has made use of tactical reserves and even then only 100pts worth. Granted there aren't many Daemon or Tyranid lists but it's still interesting (to me at least!).

Special Characters
Finally, in a nod to the origins of this event in my previous tournament series, Blog Wars let's look at how many people have included Special (or Named) Characters in their lists. The reason I'm tracking this is because I used to have a somewhat unique comp at BW that required all lists to include a special character and I themed the missions around this. Interestingly, looking down the list of factions I think all of them could've included a named character of some description. Obviously some factions are pretty limited in options e.g. just Cawl for Ad Mech. Anyway, here's the pie:

So more than half the lists included at least one SC without me making it compulsory. It'll be interesting to see how many SCs GW adds (or heaven forbid, removes) over the coming years but I remain a big fan of them. Looking down the list there's only two SCs who appear more than once, namely Pask and Mortarion. What surprises me more than anything is that Roboute Guilliman is a complete no-show leaving Chaos with 3 unopposed primarchs (albeit one of them twice). I really expected to see him at least once if not multiple times in the lists but he never appeared.

I keep intending to produce a list of all the Special Characters that have appeared over the years of my events and which have never been featured but I never quite get round to it.

Finally, whilst not a pie chart I'd previously tracked attendance at my events so I took the opportunity to update the graph:

Well when you ignore the peak of Blog Wars in BW9 and BWX I've managed a pretty steady attendance of around 30 players. I'm pretty happy with that. I've always capped sales at 50 anyway as I think above this it gets unmanageable for a solo TO. I have to wonder if I'll ever get back to the peak of BW9 and BWX but perhaps the name is somewhat to blame. I really ought to come up with something that sounds a bit more like a 40K event and doesn't make people wonder if they need to blog to take part.

I have to say I'm feeling apathy towards the competitive 40K scene at the moment after the one experience I've had of it so far. Granted that's not a fair sample but the spam and filth still seems present and it doesn't seem like other TOs are doing too much to combat it. Mind you, GW is doing a much better job of "balancing" things at the moment.

Phew! That turned out to be a much more epic post than I intended. Fair play if you actually got to the end of it. Even more props if you actually read all my ramblings in between. I'm looking forward to the event and I'm intrigued to know if my somewhat excessive restrictions actually make for an enjoyable day of gaming. If nothing else about a third of the people there will win a prize so there'll be bribery at least!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Blood Bowl League at the Outpost - Part 2 - Skaven-a-go-go

I managed to get in another couple of league games down at the Outpost in Sheffield last week. Both of which were rematches. The league allows teams to play each other a maximum of twice to avoid people playing too many games against the same opponents and racking up a silly number of league points. Both of these games were also against Skaven who are quickly becoming my nemesis!

Game Six vs. Martin Collins' Skaven 
I hoping to get another game in before playing Martin again but the last game had been great fun so I didn't mind so much. The game couldn't really have started much better for me. The first half was almost a perfect half for a dwarf team. I managed injure two of his players, knock out three more and score an 8th turn touchdown even though I'd kicked off.

I did say "almost" perfect though. I got a little greedy on my final turn of the half and decided to try a foul which only managed to knock out his player and resulted in a sending off for me. Looking back I should've never bothered but I had a reserve and wanted the maximum numbers advantage in the second half. I then had a guy injured on Martin's final turn of the half and then to really top it off Martin managed to get all of his knocked out guys back (with help from the Bloodweiser Keg he'd got as a result of the stadium we were using). Turning what should've still been a decent numbers advantage into 10 players each. 

Nuffle was decidedly displeased with my foul play and punished me by making Martin's block dice red hot. I had a decent opportunity for a second touchdown with my blitzer but Martin sent one of his gutter runners in on a desperation (two-dice in my favour) blitz. He got a double defender stumbles and my hopes of scoring disintegrated quickly. He quickly turned this into a score for him to tie up the game.

Still, I was feeling pretty good about my chances of getting a game winning TD when my runner managed to break through his lines. Unfortunately for me his blitzing gutter runners were at it again scoring a "knocked down" on his single block dice. He managed to scoop up the ball but couldn't get it far. I therefore had a chance to try to steal it back but could only push his gutter runner.

This proved fatal as his gutter runner easily dodged out and ran up the field to hand of to another rat who legged it down the pitch out of my range. I at least managed to put his rat ogre out as a casualty only for him to use his apothecary to prevent his death and put him in the reserves box. The final insult came when I tried a two-dice block and it came up double skulls which I re-rolled to another double skull (1 in 1,296 chance or 0.08%). Unbelievably my next roll of the block dice (on my subsequent turn) was also a double skull which is a 1 in 46,656 chance or 0.002%! 

The game ended 1-2 to Martin with me scoring three casualties to his one. A massive blow to my play off hopes and a game I really felt like I threw away with some poor decision making.

Game Seven vs. Ashley Rodgers' Skaven
My first game in this league had been against Ash and I therefore felt reasonably confident. I wasn't thrilled that he now had an AV8 AG5 gutter runner and a recently purchased rat ogre though. Ash surprisingly elected to let me receive and set up asymmetrically to limit my punch early on. He rolled a "Blitz" on the kick off table too which saw him dash behind my lines and get pretty close to the ball.

What followed, thanks in no small part to the torrential rain, was a comedy of failed pick up attempts and knocked down ball carriers that burned all of Ash's re-rolls and ultimately resulted in me only managing to make a break for it by an incredibly risky pick-up and throw from my Troll Slayer to one of my Runners. That meant if everything went right I'd be in a position to score on the final turn of the half. Of course, it didn't all go right. Ash was able to use his Rat Ogre to blitz down one of my players to free him up to mark the runner. I then elected to make a risky dodge to get a Blitzer to Blitz the rat ogre out of the way to free up the runner. I'd still got a chance of scoring but only a turn to do it.

On the penultimate turn of the half Ash was able to stun my ball carrier and get players back to mark the ball. I knew I had no chance to score now as none of my players were in range so, knowing I was kicking to Ash to start the half I decided to do as much smashing as I could. That resulted in another couple of injuries and knockouts. Unfortunately there was still a gutter runner standing near the ball. 

Here's where I was a little foolish. Ash was convinced he couldn't now score a TD but I helpfully pointed out he could make a somewhat risky play that involved dodging through, picking up the ball then passing to a gutter runner who already have needed to dodge out from my players with Tackle to wait in the end zone for the long bomb from the half way line. He was just about to declare the pass action when my second bout of foolishness hit. I reminded Ash that he probably ought to stand up the gutter runner he intended to throw to and get him to the end zone before he declared his pass. I felt pretty confident that I was going to be punished for my generosity and sure enough Ash made all of his dodges and completed a 5+ pass and 3+ catch without any re-rolls to score a touchdown just before the half!

Whilst I felt gutted that it had worked out the way it did at least I'd probably earned some good karma for the second half right? When I managed to cage up and grab a pretty solid position for a touchdown I certainly felt like things were going right. I had two options at this point. Hold onto the ball and play for the draw or score straight away and hope to be able to capitalise on my numbers advantage and score again before time expired. At the point where I was about to score there were very few skaven still standing and I was pretty well covered. However, I know from bitter experience (and the first half of this game) that the rats' speed lets them quickly turn a loose ball into a touchdown the other way. I also knew that my best chance of making the playoffs was to win the game. I therefore decided to score straight away.

That gave me four turns (might've been three) to score a game winner. I was feeling pretty good about this when I managed to drive a kick quite far into the Skaven half of the field. I put another rat out of action and knocked all but the gutter runners down. That quickly proved to be my undoing though as the gutter runner with the ball handed off to another at the line of scrimmage who was able to make a 4+, 4+, 3+ and 2+ dodge roll (all of which had Tackle on them I think) and break free into my half. A further two GFI rolls (one of which needed a re-roll) and he'd managed to put a runner in a position where all I could hope to do was put a tackle zone on him (and one without the Tackle skill at that). I positioned myself in case something went drastically wrong but unsurprisingly the gutter runner easily dodged away for the score. My only hope now was for a riot that never came. I did a bit more smashing up but I was looking at another 1-2 loss to Skaven albeit with 5 casualties to his zero.

I certainly got greedy in the first game. The foul was completely pointless and ended up leaving my short-handed when Martin injured one of my players. I should've also burned a re-roll to try and take out his gutter runner with the ball rather than simply pushing him back. He wouldn't have had the movement to manage the play that lead to his winning TD and I might've even managed to get the ball back for my own score. Ultimately the odds balanced themselves out. My dice had been great in the first half and Martin's came hot in the second. Still, an enjoyable game against a great opponent. 

The second game was frustrating for different reasons. Sure, I felt good knowing I'd helped my opponent out and not just watched him make a significant mistake. Doesn't help me make the playoffs though. I think ultimately this has always been my problem with any table top game. If I'm playing anyone other than Matt I don't play ruthlessly. It's been between me and tournament success for a long time. I don't like the thought that you can't win without being a bit cut-throat but experience tells me otherwise. I'm not saying I'd have definitely won the game had I not done what I did but we'll never really know.

Still, there's potentially plenty more games to be had in the league so I still have a chance of making the playoffs with another couple of wins. I have mixed feelings about my Dwarves. I really enjoy bashing other teams up but their lack of mobility frustrates me. I think I'd rather be playing with a team that can cover ground better and score plenty of touchdowns. Maybe a little more fragile but more exciting when things go right. I suppose like Dark Eldar in 40K. They can be amazing when things fall right but incredibly brittle when they don't.


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