Monday, October 3, 2016

NOVA Recap Part 3 - My Experience

For part three of my NOVA recap, I wanted to finally get into my own experiences at NOVA. Part 1 was a pic dump primarily from the 40k hall, while part 2 dug into some of the stats from the 40k GT. I'll cover my games briefly, and hopefully discuss them a bit more in an upcoming podcast, and overall share my experiences at one of the premier hobby and gaming events out there.

For me, NOVA started somewhat on Wednesday night when I arrived. I checked in and then hung out in the bar area for a little while with some of the other 40k guys in the Invitational. Afterward I headed up to the Charity Lounge, which was mostly empty but I got to say hello to Mike and catch up a little.

Thursday was the Invitational, and round 1 I was matched up against Sascha, who had been mis-listed as Space Marines, but actually wanted to run Daemons. Knowing Battle Company was a tough matchup, particularly in Mission 1 of the NOVA packet, and considering I have experience playing against Daemons, I didn't raise any issues with the change.

As we went over lists I knew I had just about no chance of denying him more or less max points in the mission. The speed and mass of the Daemon Incursion list he was running, supported by a D-Thirster and a Tzeentch Herald with Grimoire was going to be tough to dent, and I didn't have enough bodies in my own army to hold a strong line and deny him the 4 of 6 objectives he needed to max primaries each turn.

Sascha was going first and drew first blood with the Warpstorm eating one of my Flyrants, further neutering my ability to turn tide of daemons rushing at me. I was able to destroy 5 units in my turn, mostly chariots, but the Nurglings got lucky between my horrendous to-wound rolls (four 1s on 8 S6 Ignores cover hits) and Sascha's good saves, and survived. By the end of Sascha's second turn he had corrupted all 6 objectives and had bottled most of my hitters in my corner.

End of Turn 1
Through some luck in turns 2-4 I took the Bloodthirster down to a single wound, but was unable to take the last wound and regain some degree of ground control. I landed my flyrant on an objective and managed to roll a 6 on Perils to give him a shot at surviving to end game and clearing out the area around the objective, but it was not to be. I managed to claim a single objective and get Linebreaker, but otherwise couldn't do much to claw back in the game, which Sascha won handily.

End of Turn 2 - Not going well
I opted out of the RTT that followed for those who lost round one and got some food and did some painting back in the room. Later in the evening I was talking to Tyler DeVries about his Necron list, which was a Pylon star. After feeling like I had no shot in my game, I decided to give the list a try at the GT, which honestly was a pretty bad idea: You need a level of familiarity to do well and I'll give a little spoiler, my lack of familiarity with the list definitely cost me one game, and honestly possibly cost me in most of my losses.

Regardless of knowing it was probably a mistake, I took Tyler up on his offer to let me borrow the army and showed up to Round 1 with the broken Pylon Star. I was a bit bemused to find myself paired with another Invitational player, Steve Gant, and his Corsairs.

I opted for turn by turn while Gant was predictably going end game. This is where I made my first mistake of the weekend with an untried list: I didn't have enough faith in the star's durability and opted to go first to avoid the Eldar alpha. Gant null deployed with his Prince in one corner and hawks in the other, both out of line of sight. I jumped the star across the board and took out the Prince with the Pylons. Since they were the only unit on the board Gant had to leave the Hawks on the table and moved them into the center ruin, careful to make sure some would be out of line of sight. I wasn't able to kill off the Exarch in my turn two and then Gant's reserves arrived.

We traded blows for a while, but I lost a Pylon when I forgot to thrust move my Destroyer lord out front to tank. The following turn the Wraithknight survived with 1 wound thanks to the MVP hill which stopped 3 of 4 wounds from the Pylons. In the end though, Gant was able to keep his jetbikes safe while denying me points with Warp Spiders and then jump on objectives at the bottom of 5 to max his primary. The Wraithknight living also denied me a point, and I missed my Kill Point and linebreaker secondaries, leaving me with just 10 points to Gant's 25.

Gant played the game well, but my biggest mistake was me opting to go first. Forcing Gant to go first would have made it much harder to get his primary points, and would have opened up more room for me to get kill points and really make the pylons more effective than they were, as Gant would have been less inclined to null deploy. I would have had to deal with Corsair reserve shenanigans more than I did, but again, going second would have limited how much he could afford to jump off each turn.

Game 2 was against Mike B. and his Renegade Guard with Renegade Knights. He had a lot of blast weapons and considering I could prevent him from shooting any at the star with the Solar Staff I opted to go second this time.

Mike deployed just back of his line, with the Knights threatening forward. Meanwile I deployed along my line mostly, giving up First Blood by deploying the Scarabs and Warriors, but their utility was, frankly, in dying. I just made sure to keep space between them and the star to make it unappealing to try for scatters into the star.

In his first turn Mike wiped out the Scarabs, getting him a secondary but getting me essentially a free move with them, which is why I deployed them. The scarabs ran up and ate the Plasmacutioner, but left a hull point on the squadron-mate, which backed away and let the zombies charge in.

Mike continued to push up the middle with the knights, but failed his turn 2 charge with both. In a bit of a mistake, I opted to shoot the Errant on my left rather than the damaged double-dakka knight on my right - figuring it had a D weapon I didn't want to deal with in combat. I also never remembered to use Anrakyr to take over a weapon on a Knight, which would have been useful to say the least.

I eventually took down both Knights and began advancing into his lines, wiping out the tanks in fairly short order. In the end, I won with a 24-10 victory, having missed a Tertiary point in my second turn.

Game 3 was against Chris B. and his Eldar army. This is also where I fully forgot my duties as a blogger and stopped taking any game pictures (my bad, guys). Additionally, this game was the most egregious example of me losing because I didn't know my own list.

Chris's list was interesting, and featured a Wraithseer joined to a unit of Wraithblades, and plenty of D weapons to go around. Chris went first and deployed along his line. As was pretty standard for my army, I deployed the star and the Warriors and Scarabs on either flank, far enough away to prevent blast scatters onto the star.

In turn one I popped the Solar Staff to protect the star from the alpha and fire killed off the Scarabs for a first blood secondary. In the bottom of the turn the star moved up and the re-spawned scarabs shot off to eat a hornet. The Pylons did several wounds to the Wraithknight and killed all of the Wraithblades while also putting some wounds on the Wraithseer.

As Chris began his second turn, he asked if the star was fearless. I assumed they were, but as I started looking through the characters, I couldn't see how they were fearless. I failed to look at the Pylons themselves, which were what gave the star fearless. So without knowing how they were fearless, Chris went about attacking their leadership in the psychic phase and pinning them with a Wraithseer power, as well as making them run to within an inch of the board edge.

I managed to keep the star on the board and jumped them mid-board to reduce the risk of running away again, but it wasn't until after I had dumped wounds into the Pylons, killing them off, that I figured out they were the source of fearless. I admittedly got pretty upset with myself, but Chris was a great sport, putting up with me telling everyone who walked by why I was losing and how dumb I was. Seriously, kudos to Chris. I should have taken it a bit better but that's arguably the worst and dumbest mistake I've made in a game.

Despite basically not using over 1,000 points of my army, I was able to make a bit of a game of it, largely thanks to the start collecting formation shenanigans. I was able to surround the Wraithseer holding the relic to contest it in the bottom of turn 5. The game continued to 6 and Chris jumped some bikes in range to claim it, but I was able to kill 2 of the 3 with Immortals' shooting and made the survivor break, again contesting the relic.The final score was 10-6, with Chris getting a +4 differential.

Once I got over just how egregious an error I made that possibly cost me the game, I was happy with my performance in making a game of it.

On day 2 I came up against Patrick and his Drop-Cent White Scar army with a Skyhammer Annhilation force. He was pod heavy and null deployed. I deployed in my left corner with the star in a ruin, and then the Scarabs and Warriors spread out to deter backfield drop pods. Patrick had first turn and I popped the Solar staff to mitigate Grav-fire coming my way. Patrick opted to avoid the star with his drop pods for the most part and stay away with his centurions.

His skyhammer was unable to secure first blood on the warriors or scarabs, and so I was able to deny it by popping a pod with the star, along with half of a squad that dropped in it. Patrick tried a couple times to gate over behind the star, but mishapped both tries, and perils'd on both attempts as well, killing the Librarian with Hunter's Eye and rolling a 1 on the second mishap. I then jumped the star across the board to take out Patrick's units on my right side of the board, splitting to easily claim 2 quarters end game, with my Immortals and respawned Warriors holding a third. I missed Linebreaker by being dense and moving Scarabs away from the board edge, but won fairly handily regardless.

Game 5 saw me playing Gerraint and his Necron formation list of Harvest/Royal Court/Destroyer Cult. The deployment was Hammer and Anvil with the Relic. I messed up in deployment and started on my line for some reason, meaning I was leaving space behind the star for Destroyers to drop into, as well as setting him up for a turn 2 charge. The game saw our stars mostly just wailing on each other to no effect (the running joke was us muttering "f*%$ing Necrons" to each other), and me not able to score enough points end game to overcome Gerraint's turn-by-turn score.

Game 6 was against a White Scars Gladius on the worst possible deployment/mission I could have drawn them - 6 equal objectives on Vanguard. He was able to max his primary easily, and I was unable to score enough points to overcome it. I do think I played the game just about perfectly, I just needed another turn and didn't get it. Any of the other three missions I feel much better about this matchup.

Day 3 I was clearly out of the running for anything and just playing to try to get back to .500 and restore some pride. In game 7 I would up against my sparring partner James. I had thought about asking my opponent if they wanted to swap out of their GT list, but James had played just about every list I've come up with except the one I was borrowing, so we stuck with our lists.

As normal, we had a lot of fun and played a fast game (I went into the day wanting to focus on playing fast, and wanted each of my turns to be under 10 minutes, which I largely accomplished). James got a couple 6s on D and then falling onto my star with his Atrapos to wipe out the characters in my star, leaving the Pylons immobile on a flank. At the end of the game, James had 1 Infiltrator and his Dunecrawler left, while I had my 3 Pylons sitting on an objective, but needed one more objective to take the game.

In the final game of the weekend, I was paired up against Andy, who I played twice at NOVA 2014. Andy null deployed and took first turn, which we agreed was a bit of a mistake since he was doing turn-by-turn scoring and he was able to effectively null deploy, meaning top of turn gave him no advantage or a disadvantage to going second. He also then wiped out my Scarabs in his turn 2, rather than leaving a base, which he had killed them down to. This allowed them to spawn over and eat a Hammerhead.

I was able to start trimming down his unit count and deny him progressive quarters, while my star was again able to split and take 2 quarters easily. A third quarter was a bit contested for a while, with very close point totals, but I was able to get a character over into the quarter to tip it in my favor for a 24-14 victory.

 As the weekend wrapped up, I again, had a total blast, despite having my worst overall record at a NOVA. I didn't reclaim my crown of Highest Individual for the NOVA Olympics (though I got to see my name on the trophy from last year - forgot to get a pic), but team Facing the Grey Tide won the Highest Team Average this year, so I got to lift the trophy for a second year in a row.

After the awards I went out to dinner with a bunch of the guys I got to know over the weekend and we talked about the state of the game and what we expect to see in the next year. That's largely a topic for another post.

Again, NOVA did not disappoint and was an absolute blast. If you can, definitely try to make it. It's hands down the best event I go to every year and I honestly felt I had more fun this year than in years' past just because my group of friends in the 40k hall keeps growing. Win or lose, that's the best reason to go to big events regularly is getting to meet and see a bunch of great people. While I'm prepping for Warzone in just over a month, I'm also already looking forward to NOVA 2017.