Friday, September 21, 2018

NOVA 2018 Recap

NOVA was, as always, a blast. It was a couple weeks ago at this point, but I am already looking forward to next year and have it marked on my calendar. This year, as well as playing in the 40k GT for a sixth time, I also had the pleasure of playing in the Invitational for a third time. I am going to (somewhat) briefly run through my nine game over the course of the convention and give some highlights.

The army I took to the GT
I had previously discussed it on the podcast, but for this year I ended up taking two different armies; one for the Invitational and one for the GT. There were a bunch of reasons for this. First of which was that we had to submit Factions for the Invitational three or four weeks before the event so pairings could be announced. At the time I wasn't sure if I would have the Blood Angels ready, and even less sure if I would have a chance to practice with the army. Considering I hadn't played a single tournament game with anything other than Tyranids, I considered it a better idea to go with something I knew and could play competently rather than something untested when trying to upset a likely favorite. 

As pairings were announced, I was matched against reigning ITC Champion Nick Nanavati, who was playing a Dark Eldar and Ynnari mixed army. I used my ATC list as a basis, but dropped the Carnifexes for more bodies, adding in a Genestealer Cult Battalion for even more bodies.

We were playing mission 1 from the NOVA Mission pack. I chose to go Progressive while Nick went for the End Game Primary. I managed to get first turn and pushed up to midfield with a gargoyle screen, following it with Hormagaunts largely wrapping around my Flyrants as they moved up. The Flyrants killed off some Rangers while the Gargoyles wrapped some as well, creating a big line across the middle of the table.  Nick moved forward with his Grotesque star and began the slow grind up the table.

I managed to pounce on the Yncarne on turn 2 or 3, killing it off, but the positioning required left them exposed. The Patriarch and a Neophyte blob came on in Nick's backfield but despite getting them into combat, the Patriarch wiffed against Eldrad and promptly died to Spears, who then proceeded to cross the entire board and engage my Hive Guard, taking out my little remaining punch. With the Flyrants cleaned up the grind became the inevitable and Nick tabled me on his turn 5, with a final score of 39-23.

Later on in the day on Thursday I got a couple turns of a practice game in with Team America coach, Werner Born, using my GT list. I made several mistakes right in deployment, so it was great to get those jitters out before Round 1. I also totally fell in love with the Gallant in its first time out as, over the course of two turns it single handedly wiped out an Electropriest unit, a unit of Scouts, a unit of Rangers, and a Smash Captain.

On to Friday and the GT, where I was matched up against Stephen and his Sautekh Necrons. I felt pretty confident about this game, despite my lack of experience, as his list was a single Battalion and while he had a couple big hitter units, I was pretty confident I could take care of it. My missions were End Game primary, with Recon, Old School, and Marked for Death on his two Doomsday Arks, Destroyers, and Heavy Destroyers. Meanwhile, Stephen chose to go for Progressive, with Strike the Rank and File, Old School, and Shoot the Big Ones as his secondaries.

Stephen got first turn and moved up a bit to get in range, using Veil to jump a large unit of Warriors to my less defended left flank. He did a bit of damage early on, particularly to my infantry and scouts. In return I moved up, charging the Wraiths with my Sanguinary Guard and some of the Necron infantry on the right with my Gallant.

The Gallant proved to be an MVP this game, using the House Taranis stratagem to stand back up twice as the the game continued. My characters and Sanguinary Guard moved up the middle and took care of the Destroyers in the middle. The game concluded on my turn 5 with me killing off the last of the Warriors in shooting, earning me a 39-13 victory, only missing out on Last Strike on my Old School secondary.

After being just one point short of a max point victory I was expecting my next round could be pretty tough, and I wasn't wrong. My next opponent was Jonas and his four Knights, supported by a Guard battery battalion on Hammer and anvil deployment.

Jonas won first turn and moved up a little, taking out a Sicaran or two with little difficulty. In my first turn I jumped my Smash Captain behind his Castellan. Meanwhile Mephiston jumped forward and charged the Gallant. My Gallant charged another knight and then I proceeded to flub plenty of rolls. I did a handful of wounds with Mephiston, but the Captain failed his 3D6 charge. From there the game rapidly went downhill. I managed to hold on for five turns, but it was pretty decided after my turn two when I still hadn't killed a single Knight. The final score was 40-16 in Jonas's favor.

In Round 3 I was met with Jason, my round 6 opponent from ATC,  running three Knights and Guard.We were on Vanguard Deployment in this game, and I took progressive primary again, while Jason took end game. Jason had first turn and moved up, killing off a Sicaran and my Rhino. I countercharged and in a hilarious display of 1s and 2s resulting in me missing with about 75% of my attacks this turn, I did just about nothing. In return Jason punted all my Blood Angels in the next two turns and got his Gallant and Castellan into fight my Gallant, who died but stood back up and killed the Castellan in return before being killed off by the Gallant again. In the end I was again tabled, resulting in a 40-15 loss.

After a 1-2 day, I was a little down, but not terribly. As round 4 pairings went up I looked at my opponent's list, which was a Raven Guard battalion with two big units of Aggressors and Vanguard Vets backed up by a Guard Battalion with 3 basilisks, a couple mortar teams, and a CP battery commander; and Mephiston and two Smash Captains. Just on a matchup level I felt extremely confident, though I fully expected karmic retribution for feeling cocky with a list I'd played all of three games with.

So as Saturday's games started I met up with John and lined up for our fourth round game. We were on Search and Destroy deployment, which gave me a little pause, meaning I had two flanks to try to block out against the Raven Guard deploying from the shadows. For Objectives, I took End Game primary, and took Strike the Rank and File, Moment of Bloodshed, and Marked for Death on the Aggressors and Vanguard Vets. John took Progressive primary, and Shoot the Big Ones, Strike the Rank and File, and Cull the Hordes. The last of these I thought was odd, as it awards a point for every 20 models killed, up to 4 points, and I had exactly 60 models in my list, meaning he could at best only score 3 points from this secondary, and only if he tabled me.

I set up with my scouts loosely screening my flanks, with Guardsmen screening my Sicarans, then my Knight on my right flank and the Sanguinary Guard and Characters to the left. John won the roll to go first, but I seized successfully to go first. I then opted to use the Death Company stratagem to jump my Smash Captain forward into the midfield. In return John dropped all his Raven Guard units on the left side.

In my turn I moved out, with the Sanguinary Guard blob jumping into the middle space. The Captain jumped forward and lined up a charge on Mephiston and a couple guard squads, and made the charge into Mephiston and killed him off.

In his turn John moved up a little and wiped out a Scout squad and the Captain who was well forward One Vanguard squad made a long charge into an Infantry squad. In the following turn, Mephiston, the Sanguinor, and the Sanguinary Guard all crashed into the second Vanguard squad, Shrike, Scouts, and the Aggressors, nearly wiping them all out.

On the other flank the Knight crashed into the infantry squads and wiped them out handily. Lastly, my Sicaran on the left charged the forward Vanguard unit to keep them from charging.

In the bottom of the turn the combat with the Sanguinary Guard and the Raven Guard Elites wrapped up with my units wiping them out. A Smash Captain charged into the Knight and got Death Gripped in response.

The remaining couple turns were largely mop-up as the Sanguinary Guard, Mephiston, and Knight rampaged into John's backfield. The game ended with a 40-11 victory for me, putting me at 2-2 going into the brackets. Thanks for the photos mid-game are due to John's brother, who was hanging out and offered to take photos.

To kick off the bracket rounds, I was a little bummed to find myself matched up against Knights again, piloted by Jesse. I decided to switch things up compared to my previous two matches with Knights and take End Game primary, with the idea of playing more conservatively and just out-body them on objectives end game. I also selected Strike the Rank and File, Titan Slayer, and Recon as my secondaries. Jesse also chose end game, and chose Old School, Strike Rank and File, and Marked for Death on my Sicarans, Knight, and Sanguinary Guard.

Jesse deployed fairly centrally with his Knights, and put his Engineer Infantry units on the flanks, with another in the middle. I reserved my Sanguinary Guard since they were marked, with the idea of keeping them fairly safe and bringing them in later in the game.

Jesse got first turn and moved forward, with his Gallant sprinting up my right flank to try a long charge at one Sicaran. His shooting was largely pretty unimpressive, and he failed to kill any single unit. I my turn I moved up the left flank with my Knight and Captain. I dropped the Sanguinary Guard into my deployment zone and used the 3D6 Charge strat to get them into the Gallant, who I'd also fired on in shooting. Mephiston also charged in over there. On the other side I made the charge with my Gallant into the Warden. Mephiston and Sanguinary Guard managed to cripple the Gallant, while on the other side the two Knights engaged in a bit of a slap fight.

In the following turn Jesse killed a Sicaran (or both) and took down my Gallant for the first time, but he stood back up after being shot and then survived a rather poor assault phase to swing back and deal some solid damage. In my turn I killed off the Gallant and Warden, as well as dealing some pretty solid damage on the Castellan with the combination of my Gallant and Smash Captain.

The pivotal turn came with a heavily damaged Castellan standing between my Captain and Gallant. He divided his shooting and failed to kill off either of them. The Warden then had to dedicate his shooting to finishing off the Gallant. The Castellan then charged my Captain and completely wiffed, and was destroyed in return. My mortars and a couple characters had managed to clear out the guard elements so Jesse was left with just one Knight (at nearly full health) while I still had most of my Scouts and Infantry units, as well as a couple characters to snag objectives. In the end I pulled out a 40-18 victory.

For Round 6 I was matched with Brenden and his Guard double battalion army (plus three Custodes bike captains). I opted for end game, expecting Brenden to be able to more solidly control the board for the progressives, which is what he went for. The deployment was Search and Destroy and I lined my deployment edges, as did Brenden, though he filled his deployment further back.

Brenden got first turn and moved up around the middle. His tanks shot down one of my Sicarans (already missing from the picture above before my turn 1). I think his move forward was a bit of a mistake as I was then able to get my characters, Sanguinary Guard, and Knight all into combat in my first turn. In early combats, I wiped out several Infantry squads and two of the Shield Captains for the cost of Mephiston and the Sanguinor.

The remains of the game was a bit of a grind around me stalling out the remaining Shield Captain in my backfield while Brenden stalled my wounded Knight and Captain in his backfield. This game ended up being my only of the event to be called on time, on turn 5. With bottom of turn I was able to use orders to throw my remaining Infantry squad across the board and take away an objective from a depleted infantry unit and squeezing out narrow 31-28 win.

At the end of the day on Saturday I got to set up my army for Showcase and secondary paint judging. Unfortunately, with my last game of the day running long I was a bit rushed in setting up and wasn't able to get very good pics of all of the stunning armies that were there, including Joe's magnificent Custodes (I swear I took a picture but it got lost in the ether apparently). That said, here's a quick dump of the Showcase pictures I did manage to grab:

After enjoying the NOVA Lounge a bit too much Saturday night, I rolled up to my round 7 game against Jason, who was running Dark Eldar with an Eldar Battalion for Doom and whatnot. We both opted for End Game on the Primary, and I took Recon, Strike Rank and File, and Marked Jason's Ravagers and Talos. Jason meanwhile took Moment of Bloodshed, Strike Rank and File, and Marked my Sicarans, Sanguinary Guard, and Rhino.

The game was on Hammer and Anvil deployment and Jason deployed well back in his deployment zone with some light Ranger screens to prevent a turn one drop and charge onto his flotilla. Meanwhile I deployed fairly forward, with Infantry squads hiding in the back. Jason won the roll for first turn and despite deploying conservatively, chose to go first, quickly picking off a Scout unit and a Doomed Sicaran. My first turn was fairly uneventful, just moving up into threat range.

The following turn saw the Gallant taken down by combined fire with Doom on him. In response my characters and Sanguinary Guard (who dropped in and made the charge despite having Descent of Angels blocked by Vect) wiped out the Talos and started wading into Jason's midfield. I also noticed that one of Jason's Razorwings, which had flown deep into my deployment zone, only had one place it could possibly land in its next turn, and parked my Sicaran on that spot, forcing it to fly off to start turn 3.

Jason and I continued trading blows, with my Smash Captain taking down all of the Ravagers before being taken out by Urien Rakarth and two Archons. We rushed through a turn 6 as time was being called. With the advantage of bottom of turn, I was able to use the "Move, Move, Move" order to sprint an Infantry squad to take away an objective and allowing me to hold 4 to Jason's 2. He realized after the fact that he could have run both Archons over to the objective being held by my Sanguinary Ancient alone. In response I would have had to jump the Ancient over to try to clear 4 Kabalite Warriors off another objective, which wouldn't be a sure thing.

The final score was a 38-30 victory. Had we split objectives 3-3, Jason would have won 34-32. We both maxed our secondaries and the Engineers points, with Jason killing over 1,500 points of my army (worth 4VP) and me killing just over 1,000 (worth 2VP).

With that narrow victory it was on to the bracket finals against Ben and his Dark Eldar. His list was similar to Jason's though instead of a Coven battalion he instead opted for a Dreaming Shadow vanguard of three Death Jesters and a Troupe Master. We both chose end game and I took Headhunter, Strike Rank and File, and Shoot the Big Ones as my secondaries. Ben took Strike Rank and File, Headhunter, and Marked the same four units Jason did (Sicarans, Rhino, Sanguinary Guard).

We were on Vanguard deployment and Jason deep struck all three of his Ravagers as well as his Razorwings and three units of Haywire Scourges. I held my Sanguinary Guard back and deployed everything else spread across my line, with Scouts in either corner of No Man's Land behind hills. For the first time in the GT I won the roll for first turn, and after careful consideration I chose to go second, reasoning we were both going for end game objectives and there was little I could do to him in the first turn other than get in range of more guns.

In his first turn Ben shifted a little forward out of his zone, jumping his Venoms with Kabalite warriors forward into Blaster range of a few targets. His first volley of Dark Lances from the first Ravager promptly did 12 wounds to a Sicaran, which was then finished off by Illic. The blasters took out my Rhino and most of the rest of the shooting went into a couple Infantry squads. At the end of the turn I opted to spend 2 command points to keep a single Infantryman alive from one squad and deny a secondary point for Strike the Rank and File.

In my turn I moved up, dropping in my Sanguinary Guard in my zone to assault the Venoms just in front of my lines. The Gallant advanced up, in a bit of a mistake, as Ben then used Vect to deny his ability to charge after advancing. My shooting from the lone Sicaran took a Ravager down to a single wound. In combats it took two attempts but my Captain killed off the Troupe Master while the Sanguinary Guard and other characters killed off a pair of Venoms.

The next turn saw the knight get hit by a ton of haywire fire but survive thanks to the stratagem to get a 5+ save against mortal wounds. The Razorwings flew up to my board edge and killed off some Infantry, plinking some wounds on the Sanguinary Guard and nearby characters. In the bottom of the turn, I lined my board edge, meaning both Razorwings would fly off the board. The gallant charged into some rangers and Death Jesters, killing the rangers and one Jester. Mephiston killed off the Spirit Seer while my Sanguinary Guard and other characters took out another Venom and some kabalite warriors.

Turn 3 saw my Knight killed, but manage to stand back up at the end of the phase. Most of the characters also started getting shot down. In my turn the stratagem to operate as if at full health was denied by Vect, so the Gallant stumbled its way into combat with two Ravagers and an Archon. Meanwhile my Sanguinary Guard charged the two Engineer Ranger units, killing one and wrapping up the other. With the Knight I opted to swing with his fist into a Ravager, taking it down to half health. I then got greedy and despite only having 2 CP left, chose to use Death Grip on the Ravager, but missed the attack.

In the following turn Ben swiftly shot down the Knight and I did not have the 2CP I needed to stand back up. To end the turn, my Sanguinary Guard failed to kill off the Ranger squad they were fighting, leaving one alive. The Scourges managed to wiff pretty hard shooting at my Sicaran, only doing a few wounds. In my turn it shot at the half-health Ravager, taking it down to one wound. The Sanguinary Guard finished off the last Ranger while my Scouts on either end took some pot shots at targets of opportunity.

The game wound down in the last two turns with the Sicaran and Sanguinary guard being destroyed and my last Blood Angels Character sniped out by Illic. The Scourges wiped out my last Infantry squad in the final turn, leaving me just an officer to run and contest one objective and a Scout squad to run and take another. The final score was a 35-19 victory for Ben.

I came close to winning my bracket but made a handful of mistakes that cost me dearly. Had I not used Death Grip, I would have been able to stand the Knight back up (we rolled this out after the game) and still have one command point to run at full efficiency in my next turn (Ben was out of CP so he couldn't stop it. This would have allowed me to likely max out Headhunter and Shoot the Big Ones by charging the Ravagers again and throwing one into another with a single wound, then possibly using Death Grip on the Archon. The knight still being alive would have meant the Scourges would have to swing back into his deployment zone in turn 5 and take down the knight, likely leaving the Sicaran alive for another turn.

Another mistake might have been opting to take second turn. If I went first I likely can take out most if not all of the Venoms and strand the Kabalite Warriors on Ben's side of the board, and my Blood Angel combat units move up and get engaged turn 2 in Ben's side of the table, rather than getting tied down in the middle of the table for a bit. From there the game is totally different and hard to predict, but it might have been enough to swing this game that was closer than the score shows.

Wrapping up the event, I had a great time, as always, and really enjoyed bringing the Blood Angels and Knight out to play. It was a nice change of pace from my Tyranids and a lot of fun. A big thank you to all of my opponents, who were all awesome to play against. I didn't have a single bad or contentious game, and would look forward to playing any of them again.

I also did well in my paint score, ending up somewhere around 10-12th in paint score. Combined with a good record through Round 6 (Rounds 7 and 8 aren't used for calculating Overall scores so people can drop Sunday without penalty) netted me 6th Overall! I was stunned to learn that part (and they're not widely publicized) and very humbled.

My next event is coming up quickly and with the result of being so close to the top in Overall score that's definitely a goal for Warzone Atlanta; to get as close to Overall as I can by bringing an army that can compete on the table and max the paint rubric.

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