Monday, October 14, 2013

Feast of Blades Open GT 2013

So this past weekend I went out to Feast of Blades in Denver and played in the OpenGT.  This is the first time I've ever really traveled for 40k outside of local events (ie driving a few hours).  Now I travel a lot for work, and I've had family vacations (which honestly should be called traveling with small children instead of vacations), but this was a new experience for me.

So now after returning I'm trying to gather up all of my thoughts on this really cool weekend and process everything that happened.


I traveled with Frankie and I swear we laughed so much this weekend that it feels like I must have been doing situps.  There were times we were just killing each other with some of the funniest jokes.  Maybe it was the altitude but it was great to hang with a buddy and not have to worry about coworkers/wife/kids.

I drank quite a bit, I slept not enough, and I pretty much ate like crap.  Pretty much everything I always thought would happen traveling for a GT!

It was also really cool to hang out with some other guys I've only really met once or twice; guys who write on blogs that you read, win events that you day dream about going to someday, and are some of the prominent 40k players in the US who in their own way help shape our hobby and it's community over the last several years.  Of course they are super cool guys and they don't have anything to prove so you meet them and realize internet fame is kinda silly in the first place.  All the same I think of myself as just a hobbyist.  So it neat to get to hang with those dudes and think 'damn this is super cool, try not to act like the total dork that you are.'  Even though, in the end, there is no denying we are all dorks!

Which brings me to the actual OpenGT and the Invitational itself.  The Invitational of course has all these top notch guys,and it is pulling from all over the US.  It was some 120-ish people who had won qualifiers, the event is pretty much W/L, with Sunday brackets based on record being made so you could win your bracket.  There are no softscores and no paint requirement outside of 3 color min.  There were some great looking armies, and plenty of not finished painted armies as well.  However I'd say 60-70% were some kind of Tau, Eldar, or mix.  Next most popular was probably Daemons.  There were several marine flavors of course, but really it was totally lopsided.

The OpenGT was quite a bit different.  There was a softscore for paint and sportsman.  They used the Massacre/Victory/Draw/Loss/Massacred for Battle Points as well.  There were only about 46 people for the event and I would wager most folks were in driving distance (though I know some folks drove 10+ hours).  The OpenGT was billed as a playing for fun vs win at all cost of the Invitational.  Sure there were eldar/tau and deamons, but there was far more variety of armies than the Invitational had.  I'm not sure if being 2k, allowing Forgeworld or Double Force Org really reinforced that theme, but that's what was cooking on our side of the room.

Now of course everyone wants to win.  I didn't get out to any of the Qualifiers in the first place, but I don't even know how I feel about playing in the Invitational.  The OpenGT is more my style anyway, but playing lots of 40k all weekend should be about having fun either way!  I'd also wager that most of the players at the OpenGT were on par with the bulk of the Invitational players as well, you just lacked the guys that are the normal names you see at the top of other big 40k events for the most part.

The event was totally smooth for that size!  They were using the Torrent of Fire ( folks to do the scores and while there are a few challenges of navigating the webpage you can see where that is going to continue to mature and be really even more amazing!  They also had a neat system to get 'purity seals' for other prizes by accomplishing neat tasks in your games.  For example taking over a quad gun and downing a flyer.  So even if you were doing terrible you could still get these things and if nothing else earn these badges of honor.  I only managed two and Frankie three, but I saw some guys walking around with 8 or more of the things!

Who doesn't love rewriting lists?


So I have about 7 40k armies, I bounce around a lot, and I think I'm addicted to writing and rewriting lists.  Usually I don't play the same army at two consecutive tournaments.  I played Tau at the Golden Throne recently, and my bikes at the BAO before that.  I took my Imperial Fists as Dark Angels to Celesticon right before the Marine dex launched .  I even took my Thousand Sons out to Kublacon this year!

I really enjoy playing my bikes.  Tau perform great (duh) but also boring due to basically being a static gunline army.  Bikes offer flexibility and the new marine dex has made them better and cheaper.  I've basically been playing them more than any other army since just before 6th edition, which also just happened to have made bikes quite a bit better!  So I've probably had more practice with them as an army and have been refining things more than any other tournament list I've run. 

This is what I settled on for the event.

Khan on Moondrakkan
Chapter Master on Bike, Artificer Armor, PF, Shield Eternal
Command Squad on Bikes w/ Apothacary
4 bikes w/ 1 Attack Bike w/ MM, 2 Gravguns, 1 Combi Grav
4 bikes w/ 1 Attack Bike w/ MM, 2 Gravguns, 1 Combi Grav
4 bikes w/ 1 Attack Bike w/ MM, 2 Gravguns, 1 Combi Grav
4 bikes w/ 1 Attack Bike w/ MM, 2 Gravguns, 1 Combi Grav
5 bikes w/ 2 Flamers
Stormtalon w/ Skyhammer Missiles 
Stormtalon w/ Skyhammer Missiles
Thunderfire Cannon
Thunderfire Cannon

Librarian lvl 1 on bike, Power Axe
5 Scouts, Snipers, Missile Launcher, Camo Cloaks

I felt like this covered everything I would need.  I had anti air, anti horde, anti 2+, 6 troops, and not a lot of killpoints.  I wasn't sure how well I would do against vehicles but figured I would do ok there.  As it turns out I played a for fun practice game against 5 Land Raiders Friday night and won that game!  So I guess it can deal with vehicles also.

Not to get ahead of myself but I'm not sure what I would change in retrospect.  I get why people want to put even more grav guns on the command squad but then it just makes that unit even more expensive and it is already a bit of a hammer with the 3 HQs.  I've been using it as ablative wounds and just having that 5+ FNP for those HQs.  However with the Commander tanking wounds and you usually driving it at the toughest thing in the enemy list that change does make sense.  I could also see dropping the Command squad entirely for another bike squad just to get more scoring and almost as much firepower and just give up on the FNP.  The flamer squad was a cheap filler squad that was useful but certainly more grav guns could have been put to use also.  The DA libby is neat and nobody argues with the value of Prescience.  I get why people are into the Rune Priest on a bike and that could have been helpful for sure with Daemons or had I run into bugs.  The scouts were just filler and didn't really do much though I do like the infiltrate flexibility.  However 5 SW Grey Hunters would have been about as useful.

In the end all these changes might be helpful or might not so eventually you just decide and go and hope your match-ups play out in your favor.


I've always said that 40k tournaments are largely about luck of the draw.  This is especially true in a one day 3 game event.  I had only done a few two day events, so I think it still holds true but probably less so.  I don't really have a big enough sample size to say for sure.

But certainly reflecting on this weekend I had matchups that worked out in my favor right of the bat when you look at things on paper.  I don't know if this can be what people call the meta of 40k or just dumb luck, but either way consider the following statements.

A) I brought a heavy Grav Gun list, so I'm obviously looking for 2+ armor or 3+ with high toughness.

B) Over the course of my 6 games I fought the following PRIMO targets for Grav guns: 5 Dreadknights, 10 GK Terminators, 10 Paladins, Draigo, 2 Wraithknights, 10 Wraithgaurd, the Avatar, 1 Riptide, 3 Broadsides, 3 Daemon Princes with 3+ armor, 4 Centurions, Lysander, Dante, and 10 Sanguinary Guard.

So just let that sink in there.

I'm not going to say the list I have is all that.  There are some really tough match-ups I think I dodged and games I played that were real nail biters that could have gone either way.  However when you consider what I brought and what I played against I'm not sure what more I could have really asked for in the end.  

Someday I will not use an iPhone as my camera.

I've won best painted a few times at local events and cons.  GTs are of course much different, and really spectacular armies show up for an event like this where painting counts for 20% of your score.  I'm happy with the way my bikes look but they are not my best painted army by far.  Still I put the wrench time in on them and they do look nice and are a cohesive looking army.

Painting was judged after the first round and I scored a 33 out of 40.  They had a painting matrix and I don't disagree with the score at all.  However I'm pretty sure all 6 of my opponents all scored higher than me.  Some of the armies I played were amazing!  Some were just more detailed, or had better airbrushing work, or just more features than I put into the bikes.  But in reality even the guys that scored perfect were only getting a few more points than me in the overall score.

I'm not sure how the sportsman thing worked out but I think pretty much everyone probably maxed out points.  You never really want to lookover if your opponent dinged you but most of us were ticking all the positive boxes because win or loss everyone I played was playing 40k and nobody was being a jerkface or anything.  I get why they have the score there but I can't imagine anybody losing more than a point or two unless someone was just flat out being an asshat.  But all of my opponents were really nice guys, I certainly tried to be my normal friendly self and I tried to catch up with everyone throughout the event to see how things were going.  I hope I see them all again at future events.

Apparently I like toddler memes today!

I made mistakes also.  There were a few poor decisions I made that made some games harder for me.  There were other games that I'm not sure I could have played better.  I made my opponents make tough choices.  I made tough choices that played out well for me.  Certainly my dice came up for me more often than not: it is still a game a chance and chances were taken.

I had never thought about my GT record before someone brought the topic up over the weekend.  Now some of these guys have played a ton of GTs, but I've only played at 4 (2 BAOs, and 2 Golden Thrones).  So my record before this weekend is pretty easy to figure out, 14-11-1.  Certainly not terrible but nobody is going to confuse me with an elite player.

I can't (or will not) say I'm a great general, but I know I've been playing more games against different tough armies over the last year and a half that have made me a better 40k player.  That's not easy to do with everything else in life going on and not everyone can get that practice in or go to tournaments.  I'm sure this is why those top tier guys are up there on top table regularly.  They play a lot and they have seen all the tricks and traps.  It is hard to be as good as the guy that plays more than you do unless perhaps you are a tactical genius.  I'm not, so the practice helps, and even then I'm as fallable as the next guy to get discouraged when I think I'm losing.

I think the two greatest things I've picked up from playing from playing with Reece and Frankie at Frontline Gaming is A) play to the objectives even when you are losing because sometimes it just works out and B) don't forget it is a game and it is more enjoyable when you can laugh at things when they don't go your way.  Winning or losing its about having fun.  Beer helps too (but I've known that for quite awhile).


Even writing that it seems a little weird.  Should I feel different?  It is partly surreal to think I did so well, and partly I feel like it doesn't carry as much weight as I thought it would to say such a thing.  Maybe because it was more a hobbyist event by nature, or you know the Invitational going on at the same time really has the top tier generals.  It doesn't really matter.  I was never thinking I was going to win, I went to have fun, but like I mentioned earlier everyone wants to win.

In the end I went 5-0-1, and the gentlemen I drew with also had a 5-0-1 record.  The draw was the toughest game and of course came down to the dice roll continuing to turn 6 or not.  I ended with more points so claimed the Best Overall title and he took 2nd and Best General.  I think had I only suffered a loss to his Victory I might still have had more overall points (assuming game 6 turned out the same for us) and we probably would have been given the same awards.  Of course who knows how game 6 could have been paired differently or whatever.  Things worked out the way they did.

I won a couple of KR cases which are really cool.  I have a lot of the Sabol transports which are also great, but obviously the metal KR cases would probably do better on a plane.  Given I'm going to try to do one or two of these a year I hope I can put them to use!

I also got a neat trophy that has LED lights and is a nice little award.  I've picked up a few little awards now (mostly for softscores!) that I've been putting next to the armies in my display case.  My home office is really looking like "Dorkville, USA Population 1" but I don't really care!  It's my hobby and I love it even with its problems.


Thanks to the guys who threw the event.  Thanks to my buds new and old for helping me be a better player.  I appreciate my wife's tolerance (best word I can think of) for my hobby.

I will do another post that goes over the games I played and roughly how they went.  I felt like in many ways the experience of this weekend was actually more interesting than the actual games themselves.  I'm never going to be able to give detailed battle reports but I'll give a ditty for each game and give another shout out to all the great guys I played this weekend!


  1. I had a good time playing against you Dan. Maybe if I get some time to head out to the Bay area we can have a rematch.

  2. Thanks Jarid. I was the most nervous all weekend playing against you in round 3! Definitely if you make it out this way I'd happily play again, and if not hope to see you at another GT!

  3. Yea, looking back on that game I made a few mistakes and you did a great job of capitalizing on them. I was happy to see you took the top spot with the bikes marines to help start setting the tone for the future of SM in the 40k meta.