Game 1: A 500 point army with at least one unit of Troops and one of Elites.
Game 2: A 750 point army with at least one HQ, one unit of Troops, and one of Elites.
Game 3: A 1000 point army that meets standard force organization requirements.
We were allotted only 15 minutes to set up (this is a lot less time than us newbies usually take). The 500 point and the 750 point games were limited to one hour each while the 1000 point game was allowed to go for an hour and a half. To provide a variety of settings, Bryce pre-arranged scenery on the group's 4'x4' table and on the two sides of our 4'x8' table, which had been partitioned into two playing areas.
In the past we've tailored our armies for a known opponent, usually producing our final list only after arriving at Bryce's house. This time he required Kevin, Carl, Jon, and I to design our lists in a vacuum and submit them before the competition. As usual, Kevin was to play his Dark Eldar, Jon was going to play his Orks, and I brought my Ultramarines. Carl, who usually plays Grey Knights, decided to play the Cabal's Daemon army this time around. Bryce served as moderator and judge.
Game One (500 points):
Bryce assigned the Orks and the Ultramarines to one table and the Dark Eldar and the Daemons to another. I didn't follow the Dark Eldar/Daemon game at all, but I know that the Daemons won handily. The Soul Grinder that Carl was generous enough to add to the army proved to be unstoppable. It's hard to match that monster's front and side armor of 13, an immunity to stunned and shaken results, and its immensely powerful array of ranged and close combat weapons.
As for the Ultramarines/Orks game, as can be expected for a 500 point match-up, Jon's army vastly outnumbered mine and had a lot more variety. In my opening move, I tried to hit Jon's Lootas with my Vindicator and came up one inch short. The 10 man Tactical Squad was too far away to hit anything and my five Sniper Scouts rolled very poorly. My only hope was to send my multi-melta Dreadnought into his mob and attempt to tie it up for a few turns.
Unfortunately, one of Jon's Killa Kans hit the Vindicator's side armor and destroyed over 1/5th of my entire army with a single shot. The Lootas wiped out the Scouts in a single salvo (not a single one made its cover save) while an Ork mob charged towards the remainder of my rapidly dwindling army. Although my Dreadnought was able to engage the mob, it was destroyed within a couple turns by a power klaw.
In yet another run of fantastically bad luck, I consistently rolled ones and twos for both shooting as well as armor saves. An army with only one tank, a walker, 10 Marines, and 5 Scouts can't tolerate too many rolls like the ones I was making; my army was wiped out halfway into our allotted time.
Game Two (750 points):
The second game matched up the Ultramarines with the Dark Eldar and the Orks with the Daemons. Although I saw little of the Ork/Daemon game, I know that the Soul Grinder again did its job. Additionally, Carl's luck with rolling was the polar opposite of my own. Fives and sixes turned up a little too often for the Daemons, with at least one roll of four dice resulting in nothing but fives or better. And thus the denizens of the Warp consumed the Green Horde.
|...and the Greenskins were messily devoured|
My 750 point list was somewhat experimental in that I forewent the Tactical Squad and used a Telion-led six man Scout Squad as my sole unit of Troops. I then spent much of my points on a seven man Sternguard Squad with two missile launchers. Since my Tyrannic War Veteran-themed Sternguard isn't quite ready yet, I proxied seven standard Marines for a Sternguard Squad. (Yes, I know that the only visible difference between Sternguard Marines with bolters and Tactical Marines with bolters are the white helmets, but I try to keep my army strictly WYSIWYG.) Also in the army was a Venerable Dreadnought with an assault cannon, a Vindicator, and a Captain.
As usual, Kevin embarked all his forces into several Venoms and a Raider. Hoping to take advantage of his night shields, which take 6" off an opponent's range, he placed all his vehicles into a far corner of the table. While this temporarily hampered the Venerable and the Vindicator, it couldn't save him from the Sternguard's two missile launchers or the Scouts' missile launcher that benefited from Telion's ballistic skill. Fortunately for me, the Emperor chose to smile on the Ultramarines during this game (or, at least he thwarted Tzeentch and allowed them to roll averages), and the Dark Eldar skimmers started coming down. Although Kevin's Venoms made an amazing number of 5+ flickerfield saves, they couldn't keep up with the number of Krak missiles that hammered them throughout the game.
The embarked Dark Eldar and their vehicles could put out an considerable number of shots, but most of the Marines were actually able to make their saves. My Scouts, on the other hand, again had the misfortune of failing a huge number of 3+ cover saves (I really don't know why this happens so often). Although the Vindicator was eventually destroyed, it didn't go down before landing its strength 10 AP 2 pie plate on an unfortunate group of Dark Eldar who had been spilled from their vehicle. Despite the effect of the Wyches' shardnets, the Captain was also able to whittle down the number of forcibly disembarked Dark Eldar.
|Being a Space Marine captain means going into battle in style|
Eventually, the Venerable Dreadnought got within range of the Venoms and threatened to do some serious damage with its assault cannon. A lucky blaster shot penetrated its armor and Kevin triumphantly announced a "vehicle destroyed" result. However, Kevin got to know the pain of fighting a Venerable Dreadnought when I said (with as kind a smile as I could muster) "Venerable rule: re-roll the damage result". The "vehicle stunned" result he rolled definitely wasn't what he wanted, especially when a missile stunned his Venom and its blaster-wielding crew in my following turn. The last of the Venoms went down to the Venerable's assault cannon while the remaining Dark Eldar were unequipped to fight a walker. The Ultramarines scored a narrow victory with a Venerable Dreadnought and two Sternguard Marines left standing.
It was during the 750 point game that Bryce held the painting competition, which was judged by his wife. Since we're still fairly new, we were judged on a best figure rather than best army. Kevin entered one of his Wyches, Jon entered a Nob, and I entered Sergeant Telion. The Daemon army wasn't eligible since it was originally painted by an eBay seller and was finished up by Bryce. It turned out that Jon had unknowingly stacked the deck; he paints a bloody wolf paw print on the back of each of his Orks and Bryce's wife is a dog lover.
|Sadly, Telion also lost the swimsuit competition|
Game Three (1000 points):
We finished out the night with an Ork/Dark Eldar match and an Ultramarines/Daemons competition, both of which were played on the partitioned 4'x8' table. Once again, I was so involved in my own game that I didn't see the results of the game happening immediately to my left. Although neither army was able to annihilate the other within the allotted hour and a half, the Orks finished with the most points left.
Unfortunately, Carl's amazing luck continued while the luck I had during the 500 point game came back to haunt me. Let's just say that five Sternguard firing wound-anything-on-a-2+ Hellfire rounds can't do much good when three of the five miss the shot while their opponents are consistently able to make their 5+ saves.
The Vindicator was actually able to damage the Soul Grinder, disabling the walker's primary weapon, but that didn't eliminate the walker's ability to assault the tank. An attempt to prevent the Soul Grinder from destroying the Vindicator by deep striking my Terminator Squad behind it backfired when the only damage result I could roll was "stunned" (a.k.a., "ignored") and the squad was quickly engaged by Pink Horrors. After the daemonic machine had dispatched the Vindicator, it joined in the fight with the Terminators, whose rolls to hit were plagued by ones and twos.
|I soiled my armor I was so scared!|
On the other side of the table, a unit of Daemonettes and a Daemon Prince deep struck a short distance from my Tactical Squad and Sternguard. With time for only one turn of shooting between their appearance and their assault, I really couldn't afford all the ones and twos that I was rolling. The Marines were quickly overwhelmed.
|They're tougher than they look|
A couple feet away from the Tactical Squad, my Sniper Scout Squad found itself under attack by three Flamers of Tzeentch. Three of the Scouts survived the initial attack and returned fire, to little effect. This was one of the worst tactical decisions I made that night. Flamers of Tzeentch have an amazing shooting ability, but aren't particularly adept at close combat. I choose to have my Scouts fire their sniper rifles at them rather than to fire their pistols and assault them. The return fire did very little and allowed the daemons to kill two more Scouts. By the time I got into close combat, I had too few attacks to do anything.
After having previously snacked on Dark Eldar and Orks, the Daemons finished the night with 1000 points worth of canned Space Marine.
At the end Bryce handed out the awards: Best General, Most Valuable Model, Best Painted Figure, and Best Sport. Best General obviously went to Carl and the Daemon army for handily defeating all comers. Most Valuable Model went to Kevin's Venoms, which made an unlikely number of 5+ flickerfield saves in all three of his games. Best Painted Figure went to Jon's Nob with the bloody paw print. And Best Sport went to myself for not throwing things despite having the most appalling luck.