Thursday, June 23, 2016

Double Trouble Feedback Discussion (everything but venue)

You should know by now that I try to be different from other TOs and genuinely try to listen to feedback and incorporate some of your ideas in my future events. At the moment I'm planning on running the next Double Trouble in June next year (or around then, date TBC). That means there's plenty of time to make things better. I'm obviously biased but I thought, in spite of the venue issues, the event went really well considering it was the first of a new format. Here are some of my initial thoughts on what I could do better though. I'd love to hear what you guys think too (whether you came along or not).

This will be a long post with hopefully a similarly long comments section but please stick with me and give me some feedback at the end.

Round Times
I knew there'd be a problem with people getting games finished which is why I kept the round lengths at 2.5 hours despite having 1,500pt battles instead of Blog Wars' 1,850pt games. I'd intended to add a box on the score sheets to get some idea of how many turns people were getting through but it slipped my mind. Were people getting to the end of their games? None of my games got to turn 5 but that was probably more my fault than anything else. 

It's a difficult thing to fix. The nature of the event means that the pre-game stuff takes a bit longer than usual. I don't want to simply increase the round time. I'm sure if I made it 3 hours then everyone would get 5-7 turns in comfortably but there'd also be people in finished in 2 hours and were hanging around. The nature of the event means that it wouldn't matter so much as you could go and watch other games etc but it'd make for a very long day adding 90 minutes on over three rounds. That'd be a pretty late finish and even longer day for those with a commute home afterwards. 

I think the way to do it then is to simplify a few things and streamline stuff as much as possible. One idea I had was to make the deployment the same in each round. Obviously this would favour some armies over others but knowing that you're getting before the event would mean you could tailor your list to compensate. I could also have objective markers in fixed positions on the table before you start. That'd cut out a roll off and time placing the objectives. You'd still roll off to see which side you ended up on and therefore have some control over where the objective nearest you were in relation to your army and useful cover. Speaking of which, I could also pre-classify terrain but obviously that's time consuming when I'm usually in a rush to get everyone registered and the event started.

Actually, since the A or B pairings are random I could have an A side of the table and B side of the table. Would cut out another roll off and potentially swapping sides. It's still a 50:50 chance which side you'll be on and if objectives are pre-placed it wouldn't be as important to choose. 

I could also merge the roll off so that you just roll off once. You can then choose to deploy AND go first giving your opponent the choice of deployment zone or choose your deployment zone but go second. Obviously Seize would still be in play.

Ditching Warlord Traits completely could be useful too but as I said at the start of the event, some armies rely on a particular trait for the list to work. Not sure that's an option really. 

Finally, I could potentially publish the matchups before the day and even the army lists. That way you'd cut out the explanation of your armies to your partner and opponents. Obviously there might be a couple of things to clarify but generally speaking your games would start quicker. Only trouble with this is that if I have some last minute dropouts the pairings might change on the day.

Deployment
As I've mentioned above. Do you think that having the same deployment in each round would make things easier or would it be less interesting that way? Would your army be particularly screwed by a Dawn of War in every game? 

The deployment in the last game was a bit of an experiment. There were certainly a couple of issues with it. Where do reserves come in? If it's the long table edge adjacent to your deployment then your units arrive behind one of your enemies. When doing the alternating deployment do you have to decide the order before anyone deploys or can the team going second get back a bit of an advantage by responding like they would in a normal game?

Scenarios/Scoring
I thought the objective cards worked out really well. Gambling for more points for controlling an objective for two turns was a nice change. Sometimes it paid off for us but on other occasions we should've just cut our losses. Are there any cards in there that you really don't like? Could any of them be tweaked slightly to either make them better or just clearer in wording.

Do you like having two concurrent missions? Since the pairings are random I didn't want to change the mission in each game. At least you can write your army list knowing what you're getting from the scenario in each round. I'm considering going back to a more traditional combination of VPs and BPs with prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. That way you'd know who'd actually "won" each game. On the other hand the current system helped to minimise the importance of each game and create more relaxed games.

Forge World
The use of FW units has always been a bone of contention for me. I'm really not a fan of them. I own a couple of models but more for the miniature than to actually use them in games. I think they're a level of complexity that's simple to remove from games. I'm not going to go into my feelings on the subject too much but I'd love to hear from you guys about whether you thought they were had a particular impact your games.

I'm toying with the idea of limiting them to one unit per army OR a full 30K army. I'd rather that than an outright ban I think. With no superheavies they probably aren't that bad and at this points level there little you could really take that'd be that devastating.

Summoning
Coming from comments on my battle reports it seems that people thought that Summoning was a bit OTT at the event. To me knowledge there were only a couple of lists making use of it but I agree in principle that it was perhaps a bit too much. The trouble is that if you were picking the full 1,500pt army you'd mostly likely have some way of dealing with it built in but since you're only picking half it ends up being luck of the draw whether you get an army that can deal with it.

As Xachariel pointed out in the comments, Summoning actually breaks the army selection criteria of no more than two of any given unit. Obviously from a list point of view it doesn't but there's the potential to spam, I dunno say, flaming chariots. I will say that at least in my game, our list flattered the chariots and against other armies they wouldn't necessarily be so successful. Equally, we came incredibly close to killing the lord of change in our first turn and it was only because of a 4++ from the warp storm that we didn't manage it. The point is there are counters to it.

This is going to be one of those things where some armies would have no problem dealing with it but others would be severely hampered. I'm loathe to ban Summoning completely as, like it or not, it's part of the game. Personally, I hate it but I don't really want to extend the list of restrictions any more than I have to.

Short of banning it there are a few possible options for restricting its use. I could say that only a certain number of warp charge dice could be used for summoning each turn (or over the course of a battle) but that wouldn't stop some armies depending on wargear etc. I could say that the no more than two of a unit thing applies throughout the games. If you had two units of plaguebearers you couldn't summon more (or could only do so when they were completely destroyed). Maybe a cap on the number of units that can be summoned per game would be better. Let me know what you think. I do feel that if we limit summoning, there'll still be something that dominates in this particular format. Ultimately, as I discovered every time at BW, 40K isn't balanced and it's a fool's errand trying to fix that.

Random Pairings
How do you think this worked? Personally I loved it but I was pretty luck with my partners. I'm not sure my opponents were all particularly well matched but there's little I could really do about this. I'm keen to keep the system though as I think it sets the event apart and creates a much friendlier atmosphere. 

Did you prefer having 9 different people in your games or would you not mind if you'd played with/against the same people in later rounds? Basically next time I've got a ready made table selection assuming I had 32 people again. Wouldn't be hard to add others in either.

Painting Competition
I could definitely have done things better here if we'd been in the proper room. I'd have had tables ready cleared for laying your armies out and ensure these were well lit! I personally thought having several different categories made things interesting but maybe you lot disagree. Having only two entries in the conversions competition was a shame but that's really just luck of the draw with the people coming along. In previous events there's been several entries. 

Having the character and vehicle/monster categories was a nice extra I thought. Perhaps at future events these could be merged into a Single Miniature category. I don't want to simplify the painting side of things too much though as I'm keen on rewarding people's efforts.

Do you think the extra time allotted for setting out your armies was necessary given the size of the armies involved. Personally I thought it delayed things. I can see the point when we're talking 1,850pts but it shouldn't take long to lay out 750pt armies. One idea would be to find out in advance which particular category people are going to enter? That way I could print up labels for them and you'd know there were some armies missing if you got to the tables early. I could also hand out the voting slips after people have eaten too. Of course, you might change the category you want to enter based on the competition. 

Venue
I think this is the main talking point to come out of Double Trouble and for good reason. I'd started to write down my feelings in this post but I've decided to make it a post all of it's own on Friday. Come back then and give me your feedback please.

Conclusion
I like to think that my events are some of the best on the circuit in terms of organisation and definitely prize support. I want to keep that going and I want you guys to keep coming and enjoying the experience. I could quite happily run the event again next year without changing anything but I believe Blog Wars improved dramatically over it's five year run and I'd like to think it would take less time to get there with DT as I've already had so much experience.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Double Trouble - My Battle Reports

Right folks, I'm determined to keep my battle reports brief for a change. I love the WD style reports that Michael over at St Andrews Wargaming puts out but I don't have the time for diagrams so mine always end up too wordy whilst I try to describe what happened where and when. Here's my list and then straight into the battle reports:

750pts of Dark Eldar
Archon w/ shadowfield, agoniser, armour of misery in Venom
2x 5 Kabalite Warriors in Venoms
5 Reavers w/ cluster caltrops
2x 5 Scourges with 4 haywire blasters

In all three games there were concurrent missions of Blood Points and Tactical Objectives (using the custom DT deck).

Game One - Dark Eldar/Dark Eldar vs. Eldar/Legiones Astartes (SW)
I was thrilled to be paired up with Nathaniel Gibbs for some double Dark Eldar action. Mind you, I felt pretty inferior compared to the stunningly converted and painted half of our army belonging to Nathaniel. One day I'll have a beautiful army, one day. Nathaniel had two venoms of his own (although his kabalites had a blaster), a beast pack, sucubbus with grotesques in a raider, some mandrakes and a talos. A nice combination of units between us. Dan Evans' Space Wolves consisted of a squadron of jetbikes, two rhinos with tactical squads and a landspeeder. Danny Evison's Eldar had an Autarch on jetbike, 2x 3 SL windriders, a crimson hunter, two hornets and a warp hunter.

We got the first turn and knew that we needed to prioritise the Eldar both because of their speed but also because the tanks would tear our vehicles a new one pretty easily. I tried to position my scourges so that they covered most of the board but sadly there was a piece of terrain that Danny managed to hide pretty much his entire army in or behind. That meant we had to pick on Dan's marines which we did with surprising effect. The first volley from the DE took out all of the jetbikes and wounded the Autarch, destroyed one rhino and immobilised the other! Much better than we'd hoped but a shame the Autarch limped on.

The response wasn't as brutal as we'd expected either. Danny hugged the terrain and never really unleashed the firepower on our army. That meant we kept 3 of the 5 venoms for a good while. We drew some decent tactical objective cards but also both of the cards referring to our opponents' objective which was swarmed with Eldar! The talos was forced to stay on the objective in our corner to get the bonus points for controlling for two turns so ended up dying in that spot to the Eldar fire. I really think they focused on it too early when it wasn't that much of a threat with a single haywire shot.

Hiding the Archon on the last turn made the VP game much closer!
Meanwhile we'd drawn a Take the Point card for the objective next to the remaining rhino. We decided to throw everything we had at it to score the points. The rhino was contesting the objective so we'd need to shift it to allow our Reavers to control it. The remaining scourges failed to do any damage so we were left with a last ditch single dark lance from the grotesques' raider. Miraculously it blew it up! The venoms then went to work killing just enough of the occupants to clear the objective.

Danny insisted on targeting the scourges to protect his vehicles rather than target the reavers and try to save the tactical squad. The combined DE army then charged into the marines with a single scourge taking all of the overwatch fire and surviving with a double six for 6+ FNP! That left just Danny's half of the army pretty much unscathed (minus the Autarch who I forgot to say had killed himself on dangerous terrain in turn one!). Dan just had his speeder left.

We ran out of time at the end of turn 4 with a surprisingly large amount of DE left on the table. We took a 14-13 VP win but had a narrow 888-945 loss on BPs.

Game Two - DE/Space Marines (IH) vs. Daemons/Khorne Daemonkin
My partner for this game was Matt Calow with his beautiful 3D printed creations including custom dozer blades for his vindicators and a conversion beamer for his techmarine on a bike. Matt was running an Armoured Task Force with 3 vinidicators, 2 separate predators and a techmarine. We were facing James Maynard's Khorne consisting of blood hounds, cultists, lord on a juggernaut and a heldrake. His partner Matthew Grimes was fielding a summoning force of Tzeentch Daemons with a lord of change, herald, pink horrors and a couple of burning chariots. I knew from checking the lists that his force was geared up to summon a chariot every turn so the lord of change would be a priority target.

Sadly, we didn't get the first turn so their army advanced and summoned a third chariot. The chariots torrented into my venoms killing the Archon who failed his first shadowfield save and destroying a couple of the venoms. In response the remaining DE forces managed to take the lord of change down to a single wound despite it swooping. In fact, he'd have been destroyed were it not for the Warp Storm granting him a +1 to his invulnerable save! Elsewhere the vindicators unleashed their ginormous blast but it scattered meaning that only one of the two chariots it was targeting was destroyed.

The chariot was quickly replaced in their next turn. We were fortunate that the Heldrake didn't appear but it was little consolation as the chariots made short work of my army. The rule allowing template weapons to cause D6 wounds to occupants of open-topped vehicles is retarded. Sure it makes sense from a realism perspective but the armies it screws over (Orks and Dark Eldar) were hardly overpowered before it was introduced. I digress.

The lord of change somehow clung on with a single wound left meaning not only would he keep on replacing the chariots but also that we didn't score the kill a psyker card we'd held onto in vain. Ultimately we couldn't deal with the Tzeentch half of the army. I felt a bit sorry for James because his Khorne barely got a look in. They were quietly scoring VPs by claiming objectives but basically Matthew's chariots and lord of change did most of the killing. We ended up having to sacrifice the techmarine (who was our final remaining model) in combat to end the game and prevent any more VPs being scored. We should've conceded I suppose but that felt a poor way to end the game. Ironically if we had, Matthew wouldn't have won the Master Tactician award as he scored 2-3 more VPs on that final turn.

A crushing 1500-395 and 23-4 loss on both objectives.

Game Three - DE/Dark Angels vs. Tau/Space Marines
I felt like I'd been pretty lucky again with my partner in this game. Dave Weston's DA army had a decent core of fast units and some ranged firepower. He was fielding a techmarine, scout squad, tac squad in rhino, tac squad on foot, assault marines, two ravenwing units and a devastator squad. On the opposite side of the table (well sort of, thanks to the deployment) were Matthew Spencer's Tau consisting of the Optimised Stealth Cadre with three Ghostkeels and Luke Fogg's Space Marines with a librarian on bike, scouts in a LS storm, 2x3 bikers, 5 tactical marines and grav centurions in a pod.

The final game required the combined armies to split in two and deploy in opposite corners to each other. In hindsight I'm not sure this was the best deployment but it certainly made for a different game. I felt a little ganged up on in the corner as the Tau were shooting me, centurions podded in next to me and landspeeder headed over too! I was busy taking casualties to the centurions and looked up to see that somehow Dave had lost all of his Ravenwing already. I'm not sure what happened there!

Anyway, we really struggled to achieve anything between us. I was forced to sacrifice the Reavers cheaply for an objective again but otherwise barely left my corner as I had to deal with the centurions, scouts and stealth suits that came my way. The standout highlight was the Archon taking on some scouts, stealth suits and the centurions on solo in combat having already lost his Shadowfield (first bloody roll again!). Thanks to his armour of misery he just needed to win the combat to have a decent chance of making stuff run from the table. He killed a scout and stealth suit and cause the centurions to break. Miraculously they got away (they rolled a 6 and I rolled a 1 for sweeping) but sadly didn't quite run off the table.

I quickly lost the rest of my force and Dave wasn't faring much better as the Tau closed in. The game ended with a 7-16 and 371-1300 loss. We'd been frustrated not to score more VPs but a combination of badly timed cards and objective secured scouts messed with our plans!

Conclusions
I may not have had a particularly successful day but I certainly enjoyed it regardless. Playing with 9 different people was great fun. I've always loved doubles events (as I'm sure you know) and getting to play with and against some interesting combinations of armies and people was brilliant.

The interaction between newly paired up teams was interesting. Some worked better than others. I was pretty lucky with my partners though as we seemed to be on the same page generally speaking. My best game was definitely the surprisingly close double DE game. I really thought we were going to have nothing left by the end of turn two. We were pretty lucky with our rolls but I really think Danny was too cautious with his Eldar. My Scourges may be capable of stripping hull points pretty easily but with Jink and plenty of cover he really wasn't in much danger. That meant poor Dan was hung out to dry a little.

As ever when playing Dark Eldar, not having turn one in two out of three games really hurt. DE rely on that big alpha strike to take out some of the big hitters in the opposing army. If we'd gone first I think the lord of change would've been gone, especially since he wouldn't have had the 4++ save from the warp storm table. We wouldn't have struggled to take the chariots down after that and could've picked off the other daemons as they advanced. Having first turn in the final game would've helped but I'm not sure it'd have made much difference. We might've been lucky and killed 1-2 of the ghostkeels but the centurions would've still been a big problem.

Anyway, I'm already looking forward to the next one and slightly regretting my decision to only run one a year. Who knows, I might cave....

Come back in a couple of days to give me your feedback on the event so that, whenever the next one it is, it'll be better.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Double Trouble Painting Competition - Single Miniatures

Finally in this rundown of the painting portion of the event, we come to the two single miniature categories. There were prizes for Best Character and Best Vehicle/Monster. Let's look at the Characters first.

Best Painted Character
There were just four entries in this category which sat on my desk while I was entering the round 1 scores over the lunch break. Fortunately, I managed to persuade a couple of people to light them up with their phones so I could get slightly better pictures. First up, coming all the way from Germany was Kai-Uwe Müller-Joswig's cataphractii terminator (SW Wolf Guard Battle Leader) which received 3 votes:

Next up Dave Weston's Techmarine which was frankly underrated with 6 votes:


Matt Greenwood's Fateweaver took 9 votes for second place (our mutual friend Scott actually painted it so Matt was planning on giving the prize to him if he won!):


In the closest category, Martin Waine took first place by just two votes with his Wolf Priest (who looks suspiciously like a SM Chaplain to me!):


Best Painted Vehicle or Monster
There were five entries in this category. Here's the runners up first:




In second place was Dan Wellington's Kastelan Robot. I never got round to seeing the army close up which was a shame because I'm still toying with an orange Ad Mech force to go with my knights:


It was another Mechanicum unit that took first place though with Rob Hill (of 30Kplus40K fame) getting 15 votes (54%) for his Forge World tank thingy (Krios to the initiatied):


Apologies to all of the painters for the poor photography and for not having a better set up for things. This wasn't totally my fault with the hand I'd been dealt by the venue but I probably could've done something better in hindsight.

In the next post(s) I'll be covering my own battles at DT then I'll be asking people for feedback on the painting competition and everything else about the event in the post after that.

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