Monday, October 1, 2012

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

Or, In Praise of Doubles


It's the end of my impromptu tournament season, so it's time to reflect on the aspect of hobby gaming that I've ignored most over the years: competitive play. I've been to a handful of 40k tournaments since 2010, with mixed results in terms of final rankings. One thing that's been consistent, though, is my internal monologue after the games are over, win or lose. It's not that I don't enjoy tournaments - what's not to like about spending 10 to 12 hours in an unventilated, sunless room playing games against strangers who more likely than not take things a little more seriously than you'd like? I can appreciate the lesson that competitive play teaches, since it's a lot like life - it seems like a lot of fun at first, but by the end, you're ready for it to be over.

Get to da choppa!


Last April, Jon and I teamed up for my first doubles tournament, and even though I complained about it at the time, it was my favorite competitive play experience to date. Two weeks ago, Colin and I met up to play another doubles tournament (and my first competitive games of 6th edition). I had agreed to play even though I wasn't really feeling up to it, but I decided not to drop out because I didn't want to let my opponent down. In an amusing but lucky turn of events, my first partner dropped out that morning, and Colin stepped in as a last-minute substitution. That was the first win of the day, from my perspective, as Colin is one of my top gaming buddies. As much as I wasn't expecting to see Colin show up, that wasn't the biggest surprise of the day: we started winning games. After a particularly hard-fought second match, it was clear we were in the running for prizes, which is a position I wasn't really expecting to be in. Yesterday, Valerie and I placed in a 2-Headed Giant Magic: the Gathering event and I took home even more loot.

Izzet safe to be doing this?

There's something soulless, to paraphrase my friend Matt, about playing games to get more stuff to play games with. But the novelty of free stuff is not yet lost on me, so screw that.

The point I'm trying to make, though, is not about how sweet it is to win stuff. You can win stuff without doubling up, and you don't even have to share. The point is that doubles tournaments are their own reward for a few key reasons.

  1. Doubles tournaments are a guaranteed win. With the right partner, even if nothing goes right, your entry fee has already guaranteed that you're going to be spending a solid afternoon hanging out with someone you enjoy. The entry fee for the tournaments I attend is about the price of a movie ticket, and during that time I can actually talk to my partner without getting shushed. I don't really have a lot of memories about individual games I play, but I almost always remember the times I've teamed up with someone. The last-round beer run that Jon and I made before we got completely annihilated in April's event was hands down my favorite 40k moment.
  2. Doubles tournaments bring a new dimension to the game. Beyond simply managing your own resources, in a doubles game there's the meta-challenge of making it all come together. Games are about making choices, and teamwork is a game within a game.
  3. Doubles tournaments made me a better player. Pair up with someone a little smarter than you, follow their lead, and keep your eyes open for tactical opportunities. Your partner is bound to suggest novel approaches that would not have otherwise occurred to you. That's good, because it might win you the game, but it's even better if you learn what your partner is doing, understand it, and apply it to your future games.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Warmachine on the Cheap

I've been declining to play Warmachine for years now. It's been so long, in fact, that the game that used to be the young upstart is now a battleworn veteran. Still, nothing had changed over the last ten years that would cause me to reevaluate my position on Warmachine - until Colin happened. Colin is 9 feet, 600 pounds of pure malice. I don't refuse Colin. Also, he offered to sell me a starter set for less than it probably cost to manufacture the thing. That's a recipe for disaster.


And that's what happens.

Colin's evil plan entered Phase Two when his unwitting accomplice, Adam of Redcap's Corner, offered me a demo game. Unfortunately, I enjoyed it. So now my stalwart refusal to try Warmachine has turned to guarded optimism.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Honor the Codex

If you've got two armies, a Necromunda gang, and a Kill Team to paint, what's the most logical course of action?

Create a custom dice case, obviously.

Honor the codex.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Even Steven

Beginning in 2012, I started keeping track of my games, for, you know, analytical purposes. Here's a shot of my games to date:

Sophisticated computational devices

3 wins, 3 losses, and just to belabor the point of my eminently neutral record, 1 draw.

I've been playing a lot of strong opponents lately, I'm pretty happy with this record, actually. I still need to be a little smarter about army composition and deployment, though (read: I need to get better at the basic skills of the game).

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Deathwing Squad, Call Sign: Scroll

The five brother-terminators who bear the call sign Scroll act as a support team, teleporting onto the battlefield after the main Deathwing assault in order to react to enemy redeployment and, more often than not, mop up remaining pockets of resistance with concentrated assault cannon fire.

Scroll graduates terminator academy, Trooper Donovan photobombs

Scroll's sergeant poses with Trooper Donovan

I've got your back.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Deathwing Bomb

Here's a couple of blurry shots from last night's painting party, before three hours of painting progress.

family photo

beigewing, unleash hell

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Prime Directive

Thanks to an amazing burst of productivity yesterday, all of my tournament models are now assembled, primed, ink washed, and based. That leaves everything looking surprisingly cohesive from arm's length. All that's left is to do the metallics and weapon casings and then it's time to clear coat. Looking good.

Monday, March 5, 2012

At least the dark don't hide it

"Now, the world was empty on the day when they made it
but heaven needed some place to throw all the shit..."
-At Least the Dark Don't Hide It, Magnolia Electric Co.

Possibly because of the massive amount of cold medication I was taking yesterday, I spent the walk over to last night's PAGE meeting thinking about the stories behind our toy soldiers. In our group, I'm the Dark Angels guy, and that's cool. It's good to be a "guy." Of all of my various miniatures collections, the Dark Angels are the army I keep coming back to, the one that inspires the most enthusiasm every time I take them out of the case even though I've been playing them for years now. I'm trying to decide why that should be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Angels of Death

Jon and I are signed up to dominate the March 24 doubles tournament at Redcap's Corner. We're sure to be the darkest, bloodiest angels in the place.

 Sky is turning red, return to power draws near

Friday, February 17, 2012

Success is measured in blood, yours or your enemies'

War. War never changes.

Wait a minute, wrong game. My good friend Mike and I recently played a game of 40k and the barren wasteland of the battlefield gave the game an apocalyptic feel. 1250 points of my Dark Angels clashed with his Raptors Space Marines in what was clearly a failure to communicate.

The Raptors stand firm against the Deathwing assault.
Mike wanted a refresher on the rules, so we played a standard Annihilation mission, explaining things as we went. He won the roll to deploy and wisely chose to deploy second. I held my Deathwing units in reserve and placed a tactical squad in a rhino behind a low hill for some cover and sent the Ravenwing to the center of the table to act as a teleport anchor. Mike deployed in a strong gun line position with some fast-moving elements on his right flank and a tactical squad with a drop pod in reserve.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Campaign Turn 2

Alert to the presence of the Chaos warhost, the Dwarven Thane leads his troops through Marrow Pass.

The Dwarfs seize the initiative

Friday, January 13, 2012

Strange Days

Hey everyone, good to see you on the other side of the new year. 2012 is going to be a good year for games.

Our gaming club has been closed down due to scheduling disputes, our local game store is closed while it moves to a new location, and everyone's been out of town visiting family, so I haven't played a game in a while, but things should be picking up soon.

In other news, I find myself in an incredibly strange position - that is, I've been offered a painting commission job to paint the figures from the Castle Ravenloft board game. Strange, right? My painting skills are adequate at best, and any time spent on a commission would mean time away from painting my own dudes, which is something I've been doing a fair bit of lately. And yet, I wonder...