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Friday, April 23, 2010

Not your regular Sunday session #2. Of gangers, competitors and winners

Getting wired inWednesday's first installment of this Conflict Scotland 2010 report was all about meeting people, seeing the sights, and loading up with swag. Today I'll be telling of how Andy and I fared when we joined in the fun, and of the results of the competitions: the event's purpose after all.

Underhive shootout

The game
Knowing that there was to be open gaming laid on, Andy and I took along some of our models for a game. Andy took his 1500pt, 20 model Space Wolf Wolf Guard army (Andy's tried this army out already- against David's infamous Tau: you can read Andy's battle report here). I'd considered taking a Penumbra's Talons army but decided against it in the end, preferring instead just to take along my gang for a game of Necromunda with Andy.

Now part of GW's Specialist Games range, Necromunda was originally released in 1995 in a big box stuffed to the gunnels in best GW tradition (a box whose contents included- IIRC, the first appearance of the now highly prized plastic bulkheads). The game was an instant hit and has since won itself a following whose fanaticism is matched only by that of Blood Bowl, another game hailing from the same period (Blood Bowl's definitive 3rd edtion was released just the previous year).

The gang
My Necromunda gang are Orlocks who go by the name of 'The Ivans'. I finally chose Orlocks after long and careful consideration because I had the original boxed set of metal minis; more in blisters; and the boxed-set plastics: a collection which gave me my best range of opportunities for conversions should the Ivans' adventures result in their picking up interesting new wargear. And the name? That was a flash of desperate late night imagination.

It was a few years ago. I was entering a Necromunda day one Sunday at my local GW. Battering through the inevitable late night Saturday session at the painting table to get the lads finished I realised I needed not just a gang name, but names for each and every ganger too. Readers who've been there will know exactly the brain meltdown against which I'd've been struggling at that point. The name 'Ivan' popped into my mind and there it was, a solution: call the gang 'The Ivans', and give them the schtick that all the gangers would be called 'Ivan' or some variant thereof.

What went down
The setup
Our scenario was the basic 'Gangfight'. I set up first IIRC and went for the 3-group deployment I use to maximise my fire and manoeuvre opportunities:
  • Base of fire: Big Ivan, Deadivan and Hawkivan.
  • Assault: Ivan, Red Ivan and Black Ivan, entering at the end of turn 1 via my tunnels.
  • Manoeuvre: Everyone else.
My setup: the 3 Ivans you can just see to the right are off-table, awaiting entry via my tunnels

Andy's setup

Turn 1
I got first turn, which consisted of nothing more than moving everyone into positon:
  • Base of fire and manoeuvre groups- picture right.
  • Assault- picture below left.
All according to plan so far then.

Andy's Eschers responded with their own advances, and with an unexpected snapshot through the ruins up at the frontline (LOS verified thanks to Andy's handy laser pointer), which pinned Iron Ivan who thus began a day of not living up to his monicker.

The rest of the game went roughly as follows:

Turn 2
  • Me:
  1. I discover that my base of fire's high ground isn't quite as useful as I'd hoped, since my rifles were out of range- and in no position either to close for targets; still, Big Ivan drew first blood.
  2. I boob bigtime with my manoeuvre group: they didn't run when I sent them up to the next level. D'oh! And they shouldn't've gone up there in any case: that access ramp into Escher territory would've been a deathtrap if I'd ever been in a position to chance a dash across it. Double d'oh!
  • Andy:
  1. Gets a flesh wound on Iron Ivan.
  2. Puts Ivan 'the Stutter' down- picture right; this was enough to panic my 2 juves who promptly legged it to the cover down below- picture as before.
  3. The Escher downed by Big Ivan went out of action, which was lucky for me.
Turns 3 and 4
With my support fire reduced to Big Ivan's heavy stubber; with my manoeuvre element pinned in plain sight of the Escher's own heavy; and with Iron Ivan and Ivan "the Stutter"' out of action by the end of turn 3; the rest of the game devolved into 2 separate but related actions:
  • Big Ivan's efforts to take down the Escher heavy to save the Ivans in the centre before they were ripped to shreds in a hail of lead.
  • Ivan and his lads' efforts to force an assault up front; this was hairy because they were outnumbered and Andy had an Escher closing in with a plasma gun, of all things.
Big Ivan managed to pin the Escher heavy with his first burst, then wounded her with the second (my last hit of a burst which put Big Ivan's heavy stubber out of ammo IIRC).

Meanwhile Ivan and the others were holding their own thanks to heavy cover, flamer templates and shotgun scatter rounds. Fortune favoured me and the Escher's first assault wave was held at bay. That incoming plasma gunner- who had announced her presence with a miss (thank goodness!) could still turn the situation round with a dice roll or two. So Ivan did the only thing: he charged. He might've been suffering from a flesh wound, but his chainsword still made short work of the hapless Escher. Andy promptly failed the Bottle Test thus forced and it was all over. Whew!

Score
The Ivans 1
"Eschers? OK, but which ones?" 0
:-)

Aftermath
The Ivans captured an Escher juve who went by the name of Emily. For some reason I decided to be generous: she was ransomed back for a pittance which included her being allowed to keep her weapons. Andy's comments reminded me not to make that mistake again. Ivan "the Stutter's" wounds left him blinded in his left eye. And fully 8 of my gangers picked up a total of 9 advances: levelling up, it never gets old. The Ivans: they'll be back.

Afterthoughts
It's been a long time since I played Necromunda and this game left me wondering why: I just love playing it, and last Sunday's game was no exception. The new rules are essentially stripped down from the original edition and retrofitted with elements from 40K4. These were the rules used in that GW event I noted above and I think they work very well. Necromunda is a game focussed on fast action; in which the small numbers of models in play mean that a single dice roll can make or break the whole game. There are gamers out there who bemoan this kind of randomness, but it's entirely appropriate in a game of gang warfare.

Our game also attracted quite a bit of attention from passing con-goers, so that I several times found myself explaining the gang fights, XP, and narrative gaming features which make Necromunda both such fun to play, and such a goldmine for the creative modeller and would-be storyteller. The interest this sparked was plain to see.

The tournaments
Conflict tournaments are run under a doubles format: teams of 2 with small armies- 500pts IIRC, playing 4 games; unlike Conflict 2002, which was single player, 1500pts, and 3 games. Some people prefer the larger games- hardly surprising really given the nature of the games and of the beast that is the GW hobbyist, but this format seems to me to enjoy several advantages:
  • It allows more people to compete: the Braehead venue is smaller than 2002's Ingliston and space is further restricted because there is a 3rd game in the GW stable since 2002, Lord of the Rings, naturally enough.
  • Smaller games play more quickly, allowing more games to be played on the day.
  • More people can get in on the prizes.
So I think the doubles format shows the GW event organisers devising creative solutions to the logisitical problems associated with giving fans what they want.

Best painted armies
There were prizes up for grabs for best painted armies as is the rule at GW tournaments. The captions to the pictures below demonstrate another advantage of the doubles format: it offers scope for comedy team names! Flushed (again!) with the thrill of networking; and snap happy as I already was with my trusty digicam, I asked permission to photograph the Golden Griffon win-and-place display and the awards ceremony. Permissions duly granted I was able to get pictures of everything.

LotR: Try Your Luck

Try they did, and hobby skills won out over luck on the day it would seem.

WFB: Skaven Supremacy

The vile ratmen's dreams of glory are inexhaustible and ever futile. Still, they were well turned out on the day: maybe they brushed their fur and waxed their whiskers?

40K: Tau'va Baby

For the greater good? Who knows? But for the Tau's own for sure!

Unfortunately I didn't see any of the tournament armies- let alone the above winners, but I've been around the GW scene long enough to know that the winners'll've been the best of a strong field.

Tournament winners
I can present a full list of the places in the tournaments thanks to the efforts of a GW staffer who was scribbling furiously while I was snapping away at the awards ceremony.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle

WFB tournament winners: Team Sim-Lee

The full list of places:
  1. Team Sim-Lee.
  2. I Can't Believe It's Not Gunpowder.
  3. Rubber Duckies.
Lord of the Rings

LotR tournament winners: Pointy-eared Shenanigans

The full list of places:
  1. Pointy-eared Shenanigans.
  2. Why Did We Not Take Space Marines?
  3. Team Father and Son.
Warhammer 40K

40K tournament winners: Blind Guardians

The full list of places:
  1. Blind Guardians.
  2. Team No We Don't.
  3. Tau'va Baby.
Honourable Mention: Sportsmanship
This award went to the Emperor's Avengers (sounds like space marines to me) who showed sportsmanship above and beyond the call of duty when they found themselves playing against a team of novices. They put their opponents' enjoyment before easy tournament points and made sure their opponents enjoyed themselves and learned some lessons which might stand them in good stead in the future. Outstanding conduct guys. I hope more of us can live up to your sterling example.

The Golden Griffon
The wittily named painting competition the Golden Griffon has been a feature of Conflict Scotland for several years now. This is great: if there's one thing that miniatures hobbyists like more than a chance to match their skills against the best in the hobby, it's the chance to see and pore over lovely work by the best in the hobby.

A surprise entry
As noted above Andy had brought along his terminators thinking he might use them for a game of 40K. Then he discovered the Golden Griffon and decided to enter his first fully painted squad of terminators from the new Space Hulk, work over which Gav and I had enthused only recently.

Andy: proud & hopeful

Three terminators from Andy's squad

Unfortunately my novice camera skills meant that my pictures only captured part of Andy's squad and that the quality of the pictures wasn't great. Still, thanks to the wonders of Picasa photo retouching 3 models from Andy's entry survived for the world to see.

A veritable flood of entries!

Notice the yellow tablecloths in the picture above? A staffer told me that was what he'd brought to cover the table for the expected number of entries. As you can see, the competition attracted at least twice as many as had been allowed for: a veritable flood indeed.

Winner: Lord of the Rings single miniature

Jardine Stirling with his Golden Griffon trophy

Win & place entries in the LotR categories; note that Jardine also won the Large Scale Models category, default on the day for squads/units in all categories

A good day for Jardine. If you look at the competition he had for the Large Scale Models category you can see how seriously the Golden Griffon judges considered a wide range of criteria beyond the immediate 'Gosh! Wow!' factor.

Winner: 40K and WFB single miniature, and Brotherhood of the Brush

Andrew Steel with his three(!) trophies

All the acclaim had clearly left Andrew a tad abashed by the time I took the picture of him with all 3 of his trophies, so I included an inset taken before it all got a bit too much for the poor guy.

Win & place entries in the 40K categories; Andy's terminator squad is at the back!

Win & place entries in the WFB categories

Win & place entries in the Brotherhood of the Brush categories

This Brotherhood of the Brush category is really neat: a specific model is chosen and everyone gives it their own interpretation. I think I might give this one a go next year. No promises mind.

Winners: Young Bloods and Diorama

Win & place Young Bloods

The GW hobby is also well known for the frankly sometimes mind boggling level of skills displayed by the kids, often enough to strike despair into the hearts of aging hobbyists like yours truly. GW's Young Bloods competition categories have done a lot to encourage these young'uns by giving them the chance for top-flight glory and GW deserve a lot of credit for this.

Winning diorama

The diorama category is one I always like, and 40K dioramas strike a deep chord with me because of my years as a teenage tankie. So it was nice to see this IG scene win out last Sunday.

Hip, hip!
And that that's for the award winners at Conflict Scotland 2010. As you can see from the pictures above everyone was proud of their achievements, and rightly so: GW events always attract strong fields, so any honour there garnered is a treasure indeed. Hearty congratulations to one and all.

Votes of thanks
I had a great day out at Conflict Scotland 2010, as- I'm sure, did many many others. A lot of people worked very hard to make this possible. I'd like here therefore to offer my personal votes of thanks to:
  • All the staff- from Braehead Curling Rink and GW stores both, whose efforts- in the runup and on the day, were essential to giving us all a good time in a great atmosphere.
  • Craig- whom I'd already met at Conpulsion 2010 back in March, Nick and Tom: these 3 troopers volunteered to run the open gaming this year. Thanks a lot all 3 of you. I'm sure Andy and I weren't the only gamers there who appreciated your efforts which gave me one of my personal highlights of the day, as I'm sure readers have already gathered.
  • To everyone I met: the GW staffers, fellow gamers, and friends old and new (that includes you Jamie- it was cool to catch up with you again); meeting people like you is part of what makes our geek gatherings the pleasure they are. I hope we meet again sometime soon.
  • And Andy. Thanks again for the driving. You make getting out to these events so much easier. I really appreciate it buddy. And congratulations on your success at coming 2nd in the Golden Griffin: you'll be picking up one of those trophies soon enough at this rate.
And that's it. ;)

Addenda
23/04/10. Andy dug up an interesting looking Necromunda resource site: Yakromunda. I've subscribed.
24/04/10. And here is Andy's gang: Girls of Old Town.
26/04/10. Andrew Steel (not Hood!) has his own blog: Dante's Inferno: CM Dante's Modelling Blog. You can get a proper look at his winning entries in his own Conflict 2010 report. Well worth checking out.

Related@RD/KA!
Not your regular Sunday session
- #1. Of GWers, gamers and swag
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