My First GT (Beginner's Luck)

By Jim K.

Wilson's car wove in and out of traffic ahead of us like it was being driven by some crazed crack-head trying to outrun the cops on FOX. "What the hell is he doing?" asked Nidal, desperately trying to follow Big John who was crammed behind the wheel of Wilson's little car and doing better than 80 mph in heavy traffic.

Cell phones are a wonderful thing. Luckily, I had the forethought to ask for Will's cell number before we entered Death Race 2001. Every time we'd lose sight of them, a quick call would put us together again on the highway, for better or worse. And so, after a handful of real close calls, twenty or so U-turns, and one threat of violence from a fellow driver on the I-95 (directed toward John and Will, not Nidal and me) we made it to the Holiday Inn in Baltimore, Maryland, Friday afternoon.

I was quite excited about my first GT and not really sure what to expect. NYC was definitely going to be "in the house" with fellow Warmongers Big John and his ork horde, Wilson (the Master of Melee) and his Slaneesh Marines, Mike and the return of his "new and improved" Cadians, Vinnie and his super-annoying eldar, Nidal and his "Emperor's Wounds" shooty marines and fellow Long Islander Bob, and his very tough "golden-boy" marines. Not to mention my Kult of Speed, Klan Skullkrakka, led by Warboss Buzzsaw. I was really bummed Ken got ill and was not going to make it. I knew how hard he worked on his Exodite army for the tourney and, selfishly, I was hoping on a few last-minute pointers from the GT veteran.




The whole motley NY crew (from top left) John, Wilson, Mike, Vinnie, Bob, Nidal and yours truly. Is it just me or does Vinnie look possessed?

After a quick check-in at the hotel we were off to the infamous Battle Bunker to get some game. John and Wilson assured us they knew how to get there, so after several more U-turns and cutting across three lanes of heavy traffic to get into the left turning lane, then abruptly cutting back into traffic to go straight, we arrived. Will and John checked out the "big store" and Nidal and I went straight to the Bunker.

The Bunker is as large as Neutral Ground's gaming area with about a dozen 4'x8' tables and loads of nice-looking scenery stacked neatly on shelves on the far wall. I was kinda surprised the tables were not "Games Dday" quality and a bit disappointed. The single exception was an awesome table with a river running through the center, roads and bridges, trenches and hills. It was amazingly detailed and very impressive. Nidal and I immediately claimed the table and began setting up. The details of our game can be found in our "Battles" area, it is entitled The Emperor's Wounds, written by Nidal. I will say one thing, although the table was great to look at, all the hills, details, trenches, rocks, etc, etc, made it difficult to play on. My figures kept falling into the river and we had to say things like, "remember this guy is really here on the edge of the woods." It was still worth playing on though, if just for the amazing visual of two nicely painted armies going head to head on a super-detailed battlefield.

Will and John caught games at the bunker too, then it was back to the hotel to see what was happening there. The hotel ballroom was equipped with 50+ tables for the tourney and open for pick-up games. There was also a mail order area featuring metal bits for $.20 a gram (that's about $.30 for a marine shoulder pad that goes for $1.25 plus shipping through mail order, DOH!).

I caught my first pick-up game against a real nice guy named Matthew Hermos, who's Space Wolves took me to the cleaners. The game started well enough, but the resiliency of those damned wolves won out in the long run. Then, after several pints and against our better judgement, Mike and I played one last, late-night game on the "Wile E. Coyote" canyon table. With line of sight blocked at every turn I was able to dart from place to place in my trukks and pound on his guard with impunity. It was ugly, but to be fair, no shooty army stood a chance against my orks on that table.


Matt Hermos. He may look friendly but don't
be fooled, his wolves are just plain mean.

No sooner had I shut my eyes for the night, then a horrible ringing sound jarred me from a deep sleep. Wake-up call. It was time for the tourney. I knew I should have passed on that last game, not to mention the last few beers. At least I was not up until 5AM painting my marines, eh Nidal? After a shower, a few aspirin and a good greasy breakfast to settle the gut it was tournament time.

Game1: My first game pitted me against an almost all-infantry IG army in a modified cleanse mission called Dawn Assault. My opponent, Joel Green, fielded an amazing army of converted skeletons. He began by apologizing because he had never even set up his new army and knew it would take a lot longer than the 15 minutes they allow. "No problem," I said, "if we don't play all 6 turns, we don't play all 6 turns" (both to be a good sport, and because my orks always do better in the first half of a game…if I am not kicking your ass solidly by turn 3, its over for me). I had some doubts about facing that many models with my speed freeks (if you don't know why check out the battle reports pitting my speed freeks against Ken's IG in the Battles section).


Joel Green and a small sampling of his awesome undead Imperial Guard army.

I won the roll-off for table quarters, which in the tournament meant I also placed the first unit. I planted my looted Leman Russ squarely in the middle of the field forcing Joel to cram all his 100+ skeletal guard models in the far corner. My trukks started as far forward as possible, hidden behind some trees, my battlewagon and the Leman Russ.

The game was quickly in my control. I jumped on his large mass of infantry, assaulting multiple units and blocking LOS with a swirling melee, then consolidated from unit to unit. Since it was a table quarter mission, I held a couple of trukks back to zip around at game's end and claim quarters. Joel made a bid for two table quarters, one with rough riders who were massacred by my Boss and his retinue and the other with two chimeras, who were promptly blown up and the occupants burned and beaten to below half strength by the trukkers I kept lurking behind the trees. It was all over but the shouting, as they say. Three quarters held by orks, one contested.

Joel was a real good sport, especially considering the poor shooting rolls he made when he did get the chance to fire, and his army looked amazing on the battlefield. A huge amount of work went into all those skeleton models and it showed. Joel tied for the player's choice award and he deserved it. Congrats Joel.

Battle Points: For those who have never been to a tournament, I'll give quick accounting of the points system. Battle points count for about 1/3 of your overall score. Each game is worth 20 points, plus bonus points. The 20 points are split between the two opponents. In the event of a draw, for example, each player gets 10. The difference in victory points establishes how the battle points are divided. If the mission features victory conditions not victory points (ex. Cleanse) the winner earns a "solid victory" (17 points to the winner, 3 to the loser). In addition each player can earn or lose "bonus" points which vary from mission to mission. Some examples; +1 if you control more hills than your opponent, -1 if you fail to reduce any of your opponent's troop choices to below half strength. In my first game I earned 19 battle points to Joel's 2.

After Game 1, lunch was served. A decent spread of sandwiches, salads, cookies and brownies. Nothing fancy, but decent wholesome fare. A few minutes to recount the gory details and it was back to the front for game 2!

Game 2: High off a big victory, I faced a fellow ork player, Chris Long. Chris featured hordes of orks and gretchin, a megarmored warboss with a megarmored retinue in a trukk, Boss Zagstruck and 19 Vulcha Boyz, a few lobbas hidden in the corner, a looted razorback and a dreadnought. The mission was "Battle in the Eye of Terror". This mission's setup was corners, which put me a good distance away from his relatively slow moving ork force. Just the way I like it, plenty of room to coordinate my assaults and outmaneuver my enemy. The mission featured one very unusual rule. One unit from your army which, could fit on an ordnance template, could deep strike at the beginning of each of your movement phases. Essentially, it could teleport from one place to another using normal deep strike rules. This did not appeal to me at all, since I move quite fast enough as it is and didn't want to be stranded in the middle of a killing zone with my trukks, unable to assault. I would not be exercising that option.


Chris Long. Hey, that's the same expression
he had when I blew up his dreadnought!

Chris got the first turn and teleported his dreadnought behind my battlewagon. With true orky shooting, he failed to do anything to it with his rockets. His boss's trukk roared forward into the woods and promptly crashed into a tree, immobilizing it. Next his lobbas streaked down and caused some havoc with my trukks, not blowing any but stunning at least one. On my turn I moved my trukks to concentrate burna fire on his dreadnought. BOOM! That set the tone for the whole game. His boss got out of his stuck trukk and starting hoofing it my way where he was promptly swamped by several units of my trukkers. Choppas and burnas work just as well on megarmor as they do on terminator armor, and his boss quickly fell. His razorback was destroyed by my battle-wagon-mounted zzap gun, but not before the burna boys it contained blew my Leman Russ to bits. This game was a bit closer, but still a decisive win on my part. Chris was loads of fun to play, a helluva nice guy, and the game was thoroughly enjoyable.

Battle Points: I managed a minor victory (13 to 7 battle points) and with bonus points the final came out to 14 for me and 6 for Chris.

Game 3: Now I was cooking with gas, as my grandma used to say. Two games, two wins, slam dunk! Game three matched me up against a horde of 'nids. Uh oh. My confidence began to wane as my opponent, Jason Reynolds, began laying out his beautifully converted and painted, and also very large tyranid force. I particularly liked his termegants which were flipping, leaping and springing through tall grass and heavy brush. He also converted mutant gants with the hive node upgrade; little buggers with great big heads! Very cool.

The mission was call "Feud Fight", a fairly straight victory-points mission with one nasty twist. The premise was for your commander to kill his rival (the enemy commander) in melee (+150 vp). Now I have every confidence in my Warboss, but I did not see him winning in a stand up fight with a Hive Tyrant. Especially one surrounded by smaller 'nids. Your commander had to end each movement phase closer to the enemy commander. The setup was along board edges, 12" in. I did not see how I was going to outmaneuver a wall of tyranids, orks (especially my army) can't shoot worth a damn, and I had to throw my most valuable asset, my warboss and his nassssty etinue, into certain death. I was not too hopeful.


Jason Reynolds fielded an awesome 'nid army,
both in appearance and performance.

Things went as expected. I moved my Boss' trukk forward an inch a turn (hey I'm closer to the Hive Tyrant than at the start of my turn!) until I could launch an assault. The rest of my force threw themselves at the lesser 'nid creatures and acquitted themselves well, or at least sold their green hides for a very high price. My burnas were worth their weight in gold in this game, but it seemed it would not be nearly enough. Nearing the end of our allotted time, he still had a large brood of gargoyles untouched, a scattering of lesser creatures, some warriors and his carnifex. Not to mention his tyrant and friends beating on my retinue.

My warboss and his retinue were dragged down by the tyrant, his warrior guard and a swarm of genestealers surrounding them, as anticipated. Then, in the last 2 minutes of our 2-hour time limit I assaulted the carnifex with the remnants of my skarboyz and took it out, a small moral victory at best.

I knew I had lost, but how bad? After totaling the VP's it was closer than it appeared. As it turned out, the carnifex's demise in the 11th hour earned me a draw instead of a minor loss. Whew! (You have to win by more than 299 vp's to score a minor victory). Once again, a beautifully painted army, a friendly opponent and I fared pretty well considering the odds. So far the GT had exceeded my expectations.

Battle points: A draw gave us each 10 points, but Jason had earned several bonus points that I did not. Final total, Jason 13, me 10.

Now we had like half-an-hour for dinner before the dreaded knowledge quiz began. GW does not supply breakfast or dinner and there was not nearly enough time to sit down for food in the (amazingly slow) hotel restaurant. Luckily Vinnie and Nidal volunteered to run to McDonalds (thanks guys). As a result they got like 3 minutes to finish the 10-minute quiz and we all ate our ice-cold burgers and fries during game 4. The knowledge quiz was much harder than I expected. Especially if GW fluff goes in one ear and out the other, as it tends to do with me. Somehow, I scored a 6, a very respectable score. Then it was setup time for game 4.

Game 4: I thought I would be exhausted by this point, but I was having so much fun I was actually looking forward to another game. This game would use all 2,200 points. That concerned me somewhat since my second "reserve" block was more about fluff (bikes and vulcha boyz) than combat efficiency and completely untested. To make matters worse, I was facing Space Wolves, the very force that had beat me so handily in a pick-up game the previous night.

My opponent was Frank Thompson and his "Frostwolves" were by far the best-painted marine army I had ever seen. The markings were perfectly crisp and all hand-painted, the highlighting superb, no detail left unattended. Awesome.

The mission was called Trickle Down Theory. Setup was 18" in along board edges with no unit being closer than 24" to the enemy. You set up Troops and HQ, all other forces were held in reserve. It was straight VP mission with 100 bonus vps for each table quarter you controlled at game's end.



Frank Thompson and his "Frostwolves". Quite simply the best painted marines I have ever seen and a fun opponent to boot. Note the missile launchers in place of the twin lascannons on his land raider because, as his put it, "I don't see Space Wolves feeling right about killing people with a bright light."

Frank won the rolloff and placed his first unit (a rhino with some nasty troop choice) in the middle of the table, as far forward as possible, behind some woods. As a result I concentrated my forces as far forward as possible in a corner of the table, mostly behind a hill. The setup looked more like the start of a cleanse mission when we were done with setup than a recon mission, with each of us dominating a single quarter.

I knew my only hope lay in popping those rhinos so I could assault the juicy stuff inside. I won the rolloff to go first, but did not have LOS to a single rhino, so let him take the first turn. He skirted cover well and the few potshots I could get off failed to do any damage. I even sacrificed my warbike squad to get a rhino cracked. 15 twin-linked big shoota shots at the side of a rhino. Nothing. Assault said rhino, 12 twin-linked big shoota shots and 5 attacks from a nob with a power claw. Nothing. Rhino pulls away. Wolves jump out. Wolves shoot bikes. Wolves assault bikes. No more bikes.

Things went pretty much that way the entire game. My vulchas arrived late and only managed a single charge before game's end. The arrival of his Land Raider with terminator wolf guard pretty much sealed my fate in turn 4. When we did mix it up, my orks did take lots of wolves down with them, but it was too little, too late.

Despite being massacred, Frank was a great opponent and did I mention his army looked simply amazing!? Believe it or not, this was the most fun I had in any game I played and I walked away form the table laughing and smiling, not cursing and muttering to myself as I probably should have.

Battle Points: Frank won a solid victory over me (17 to 3) plus earned bonus points where I lost bonus points. The final score; Frank 19, Loser-Boy 2. Ouch! How did I have fun in that game anyway?

That concluded Saturday's gaming. I chilled in the bar for a while during the pub quiz, but the pub quiz was definitely not for me. I could not hear most of the questions (you play bass in heavy metal bands for 12+ years and see how much you can hear), had no clue what the answers were to the few questions I could hear (see comment regarding retention of fluff above), and was in no mood for shouting. Mike, Bob and I got a pizza, grabbed a few beers and retired for the evening.

Day 2 dawned with a bit more sleep under my belt and, thankfully, no hangover.

Game 5: My fifth game pitted me against Aubrey Eveley and his Blood Angels. After my experience with the wolves last night I was not too confident going into this game. The mission, Suicide! Setup was opposite corners, with no unit within 20" of an enemy. The mission used victory points to determine the winner. The twist, a single unit from your army is dubbed your "suicide squad". That squad became fearless and always hit on 3's. If the unit was alive at the end of the game you lost 100 vps, if they died you gain 150 vps. Plus, all units wiped out by the suicide squad were worth double vp's. Without hesitation I picked my unit of 19 skarboyz for the role of suicidal maniacs. My opponent picked a tactical squad in a rhino as his nutters.


A very intense Aubrey Evely. Luckily he was
not as serious as he looks in this picture.

Aubrey set up his force as far forward as the setup constraints allowed. His army included several tactical squads in rhinos, an 8-man death company with chaplain in a rhino, a furioso dreadnought, some scouts and one or two small tactical "fire support" squads.

I set up my entire force behind a hill in my corner except the looted Leman Russ which was on top of the hill and my Battlewagon of nutters next to it. My kustom force fields kept the Russ hull down despite being very much in the open. I knew my success would rely on me slowing him down, blowing his transports, and taking out as many blood angels as possible with my Russ and battlewagon before delivering fast-moving, green choppa-death. Fortunately, unlike the previous night's game vs. Wolves, my heavy and elite would start on the board and in perfect tactical position.

The game started with me blasting one of his rhinos and stunning his dreadnought with a single shot from my Russ. Then between him overheating his engines and some real brilliant orky shooting with my zzap gun, rokkits and Russ, I did a very effective job of making him walk to me before pouncing on him with my entire army. The high point for me was when I placed the ordnance template over his entire death company, rolled a "hit" on the scatter dice and killed the entire unit except his chaplain (who made his invulnerable save). It was a very lopsided win for me.

The only drawback, my suicide squad survived to the end (costing me 250 vps) though they did kill two units (worth double points). Let me tell you, a big unit of fearless skarboyz hitting on 3's is just too nasty to be believed.

Aubrey was less than enthusiastic about the game (understandably) but still a decent sport. This game featured the only interplayer dispute I had all tournament, regarding how many units my suicide squad took out. With minimal of "discussion" we resolved our dispute.

Battle Points: The difference in vp's was over 1,000 points, netting me a solid victory. With bonus points the final result was 16 to 4.

Game 6: Last game and who would be my opponent? Perhaps that crazy Brit I had chatted with, or someone from California, Ohio or Canada. Nope, it would be Nidal. The very person I drove down with. The one I played at the Battle Bunker on Friday. The one I see at Neutral Ground all the time. All well. With so many Warmongers present and 6 games to play, it was a distinct possibility that two of us would square off (ask Ken if you want to know the exact odds, I am sure he can figure it out).

"Never Ending Carnage" was the mission and we would be using all 2,200 points. Well, sorta. The mission used a modified sustained attack rule. You started the game with a 1700-point army on the table. Then, once each turn, a troops selection that was wiped out or had fallen below 50% in the previous turn could be replaced by a troop selection from your 500 point "unused" block or a recycled unit from your "starting" army. Transports could not be recycled (that was very bad for a speed freek). Setup was table quarters and the winner was determined solely by victory points.

I used my usual "get-as-close-as-the-mission-allows-but-stay-out-of-line-of-site" setup while Nidal used his usual "stay-as-far-away-as-possible-and-preferably-on-a-hill" setup with his Emperor's Wounds shooty marine chapter. The game was real close the first three or four turns. Nidal forced me to assault piecemeal by stunning my trukks with well-placed whirlwind shots and his marines did a great job of repelling my poorly coordinated assaults as a result.

Nidal "recycled" a couple of units of marines to deal with the assaults, while I elected not to recycle anything (my reasons were threefold: because they would not have transports, I did not want to put any more vp's on the table for Nidal to earn, and because you got +2 battle points if you did not recycle anything). Nidal's cheesy assassin chick arrived in turn 4 and fried an entire unit of trukkers only to be pounced on in return. Then it came down to the 5th and final turn. In retrospect I should have just pulled back out of line of sight with everything I had left and taken a draw, but noooooo, I had to try to inflict some last-minute hurtin' on the space goons. As a result, I left myself in the ideal place to be shot to pieces in the bottom of turn 5, handing Nidal a minor victory.

Battle Points: With bonus points, the final score was Nidal 13 to my 10.

Another short break for them to tally the final scores and it was time for the awards ceremony. I held out a slim hope that I might receive a player's choice award, as the dakka dakka sound and light-up big shootas on my battlewagon got lots of compliments, but, it was not to be. I did, however, win one of the "joke" awards for my creation; the prize was a plastic toy monster truck (or should I say trukk?). I was very happy just to be recognized and the competition was fierce for all the awards.

Nidal and I hit the road right away, not realizing they posted the results after the ceremony. It would be two anxious days before I found out how I fared. I was very pleased to see I came in 23rd out of 136. I had scored 71 battle points (not extraordinary, but top 50%), 37 in composition (below average), 47 in painting (a good score, but I had expected better), a 108 in sportsmanship (wow) and 6 of 10 on the quiz.

I attribute my highest score, sportsmanship, to one thing…I had a blast and it showed! I knew I would not be scoring well in the composition section of the tournament, as my army did not meet all GW's selection criteria. Early on in planning my GT army list, I threw composition points to the wind. In retrospect, I realize just how important every point is if you want to place well. With only 30-odd points separating number 1 from number 23, every point helps.

In summary, I would have to say that the GT was an excellent experience. I had a great time, did a butt-load of gaming, met some fun people and the fact I placed well was an added bonus. GW did a commendable job running the show and things went very smoothly (all things considered). There are lots of fellow fanatics out there and a tourney like this really brings out the best in us nutters. There's no doubt I'll be applying for a return appearance in 2002. Now, I'd better go get painting, only 11 months to go.

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Created by: ZiggyQubert. Last Modification: Sunday 25 of January, 2009 02:35:42 PM EST by ZiggyQubert.

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