Friday, February 26, 2010

Tournament Review - Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree

As I mentioned, I attended the Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree last weekend. This was a 2000 point 40K tournament held in the "somewhat" local area. There were a couple things they did different here. First, the club served a pancake breakfast at the start of the tournament. After you signed in and paid your fee you were invited to a back room where there were catering trays laid out with hot pancakes and eggs, syrup, and orange juice.  This was a really nice touch for the tourney organizers to offer. The other change they made to differentiate their tournament was that each individual game had a $10 prize riding on the outcome. If you won, you received a $10 gift card to the store. If the game ended in a tie, the prize was split between the players. These prizes were in addition to the 4 overall prizes.

This tourney was a good size tourney, with 30 players attending and filling all 15 tables. Unfortunately, there was also a Flames of War event being held at the same venue, which caused the 40K tourney to be very cramped. This was a detriment, but did not appear to be something the organizers could control. During discussion it appeared that the IC organizers were surprised by the FoW event and did their best to work around it.

Let me talk a bit about how scoring and missions were handled for the tourney. At the start of each round the organizers rolled for the mission to be played at the front of the room, with the results determining the mission for the round. This was rolled from the primary rule book and no mission or deployment type would be repeated. This meant that each of the 6 mission parameters were played and by the 3rd round the mission and objective type was set. Personally I am not a fan of this style of tournament scenario. I believe the missions provided in the rule book are sufficient for pickup games, but I would prefer a tournament put some additional effort in to make the rounds interesting. 

For scoring, there were  three things that needed to be tracked at the end of each round. These were mission result (win/loss/draw), victory points killed (how much did I kill) and victory points survived (how much of my army survived). In addition, the mission that would have been kill-points was converted to use victory points opposed to kill points. These types of statistics change the dynamic of 5th edition for many armies and certainly had some effect on results in the games. I am not reverting to victory points as a primary measure of win/loss is a good idea in 5th, as it removes some of the advances made in 5th edition along with changing the dynamic for how armies are built.

There were 4 prize categories at this tournament, per the "tournament pack" which was provided in a forum post. These were:
  • General who claims the most victory points (kills the most)
  • General who loses the least victory points (preserves the most)
  • General who is voted best sportsman / most fun to play
  • Best painted army determined by all tourney players
At the start of the tournament each player was provided thier own score sheet, to be handed in at the end of each round. These sheets tracked the following for each round:
  • Your name
  • Opponent name
  • Win/Loss/draw
  • Victory points earned
  • Victory points surviving
Then at the bottom of the sheets were 2 places for 1st and 2nd favorite army appearance.  Please notice there was no place to put a sports score or choose a favorite opponent. At no point during the tournament were the players asked to place their armies out on display, or any organized method for paint judging. In fact, at the end of the tournament  the score keeper had to remind several people to fill out their paint scores, and then further remind them they could vote for any army, not just those they played. This was after most of the armies had already been packed up (at the end of the tourney). I made a point of asking a couple questions of the tournament organizer, specifically why he did not request a period for army displays and how sportsmanship was being judged. His responses were basically:
  • Sports is really just a "smoking boots" prize for the person who comes in last in the tourney. Basically a consolation prize.
  • He does not personally like painting scores, but the club as a whole requires that all tournaments have a painting score. He probably should have handled it different, but his focus was on beating opponents in a game not on how the armies looked.

Final Thoughts
I enjoyed myself at this tournament, despite going 0/2/1 W/L/D and ending the 3rd round with a tie on the bottom table. My opponents were all enjoyable to play against, and there were general ideas in this tournament that I really like. I am definitely buying into the idea of providing some type of food at tournaments and like the breakfast served here. I also love the idea that even if you are crushed in the first 2 games and at the bottom table, the per-game-prize provides a solid and tangible reason to keep playing your best and pushing for the win.

Despite a lack of recognition in the form of prizes or scoring, I do feel that I accomplished my objectives as I laid them out. During my first game (against an opponent named Matt), we had a number of situations that we both discussed and resolved very quickly and easily. Not all of these were rules questions, but as with any game circumstances came up. Even though this was the first time I met Matt, we both had a great game and at one point he thanked me for my style of play. When combined with the fun my other opponents exhibited during the game, I can confidently say I would have made consideration for sportsmanship. Regarding painting, no actual scores were handed out. Considering the complete lack of attention or organization regarding painting, I can only base my judgment on comments through the day. I ended up in several conversation about my army, my paint job, and my modeling through the day.  I received several compliments on my army, most of which were people actually interrupting an ongoing game to comment and compliment. I count this as an achievement of my painting/modeling ambitions.

I did not think the tournament was organized well, and I feel there could be a whole lot of improvement on that front. Scheduling, as I understand, was beyond the control of the organizers.... but this does not excuse the non-adherence to the description of how sports would be judged or the lack of organization around the painting aspect. The approach to missions per round, by the end of the tournament, appeared to be more of an abdication from planning/responsibility than an actual thought out plan.

I am very disappointed on how the sportsmanship was treated by the organizers. I am shocked that this was completely disregarded during the tournament, and turned into a consolation prize. The idea that the guy who loses the worst should be awarded best sportsman is simply appalling to me. When you combine this with the near disregard for painting and the complete ignoring of theme and modeling, the way this tournament was scored becomes something opposed the reason I enjoy playing the game. Honestly, I would prefer that the organizers had branded this tourney honestly, and called it a mini-Ard-boyz instead of trying to shape it up as anything else. I see nothing wrong with disregarding everything but winning and losing as hard as you can, as long as the tourney is presented that way.

Regardless, these are just my opinions. I will reiterate that my experience in the games does not match my opinion of how the tournament was organized/run. I would happily play again versus any of the players I met at the tournament, and enjoyed all my games.

I will give an overview of my opponents lists on Monday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DTP goes to the Gamers Lounge????

At the end of Thursdays post I mentioned another project I was involved in and that I hoped to unveil it this week. Well, here it is in all its glory! Its Gamers Lounge, a new podcast that discussed the hobby in general, along with my take on it. HuronBH of Blood and Blades and I are partnering on a new hobby podcast, with the goal of podcasting twice monthly. Our first episode recorded very well and I am happy with the overall format. We spend time discussing a couple topics such as Theme versus Composition and Sportsmanship. We also spend some time talking about our blogs and blogs and general. The podcast is something we are both excited about and I hope it is well received.
I also had a good time at the tourney last weekend and will get some tourney coverage up soon. I have copies of my opponents armies along with some overall thoughts of the games. I did not win any prizes, and I will discuss this as well. Overall I am not disappointed, I achieved my stated goals in some fashion and feel fairly satisfied overall.

Check out and subscribe to the podcast and let me know what you think!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Custom Warp Spider Tutorial

I have been looking through the tracking and logs for the DTP blog lately and have learned a number of things. I started this blog to keep track of my progress on building the Dead Tau Project and the variety of pieces that made up that project. At the end of the day, I started this for me and it is nice that the blog has been well received by the blog-o-sphere as a whole. Over time I have joined 2 "Blogroll groups", with From The Warp being the first and more recently the Bell of Lost Souls Alliance.Now, the BOLS alliance is too new to my blog to really get good statistics for. FTW has been nice, coming in 6th place over the past month for referral traffic. One thing that really interested me was that Blogger sits comfortable at spot #3 for referral traffic. Most interesting, at least to me, was that first and second place are actually locked down by Google Images. This means the majority of people come to the Dead Tau Project by searching for images that are on my blog.

On to the Main Post!

Anyways, all that is just interesting trivia. What I really wanted to do with this post was provide a quick tutorial on how I constructed my Warp Spider models. I mentioned the trivia above because I noticed that in the last week or so many readers to my blog have been checking out one of my first posts from February 2008, titles An Update on Crafting. I wondered why this was and came up with two theories. Its very likely some new readers are starting from the beginning of my blog, and they might be interested in how I constructed the bases for the DTP. I thought it was more likely to do with the pictures I provide of how I construct my Warp Spiders. With this in mind, I thought I would provide a new and updated post with a quick tutorial on how to build a Warp Spider.

I love the Warp Spider Aspect Warriors in the Eldar army. It is one of the primary drivers for my choice of Eldar as my army. My original Eldar army had a squad of spiders using the original models. I still keep one of those models on my painting station, as it was one of the first models I painted. I will save a picture for another day, as it is fairly horrible.

When I decided to start up the DTP, one of the first squads I planned to create was Spiders. My choice to custom build the Spiders was heavily influenced by a Hobbyist who posts(ed) on Warseer under the name Dark Apostle. His custom built spiders looked fantastic and still looked like Warp Spiders. This was my plan and I immediatly head out to grab the bitz.

So, today the bitz market through GW has changed a fair amount. When I built my spiders the project was fairly expensive on a per-model basis. Now, it is even more so. Your shopping list will be the following:

For a squad of 9 spiders:
  • 9 Eldar Guardians
  • 9 Warp Jump Generator backpacks
  • 9 3rd edition Dark Reaper gun arms
  • 5 sets of Warp Spider Exarch gun arms
In addition, for the Exarch (as mine is built):
  • 1 Eldar Guardian
  • 1 Autarch Warp Jump Generator backpacks
  • 1 set of Banshee Exarch Mirror Blades
  • 1 set of Warp Spider Exarch gun arms
 I have not figured out how to assemble the pieces using the new 4th edition Dark Reaper guns. The 3rd edition had the guns attached to the right arm, so the arm pinned onto the body and you only had to modify the end.

The second step will be to start assembling. Using a bit of internet magic here (and without permission so I will gladly take down Dark Apostle's pictures if asked) You assemble the front of a Guardian body with the WJG backpack from the spider Exarch. Make sure to do this before attaching the legs, although if you use a guardian box 2 of the guardian bodies come fully assembled.

Here is a close-up of the assembly:

Once that step is complete and the glue has dried, you may want to do a bit of green stuff touch-up on the back:

Your final assembled bodies should look like this:

The next step is to assemble the guns. Here is a close-up. As you can see, the Missile end of the Dark Reaper gun is cut off close to the stock, and the Spinner end of the Warp Spider gun is cut. Then these are pinned together and glued. Lastly you need to use your hobby knife and trim down the shoulder of a Guardian right arm to fit the Dark Reaper arm attacked to the gun.

At that point, the Spider should pop together with some additional glue and you can position him on your base.

Here is a quick snap-shot of the pieces for the Autarch, in addition to a quick look at an assembled body. For the Autarch, you should pin all 4 arms that fit to the body, then clean up the gaps with green stuff.

Once all those steps are complete and the green-stuff has set, its time to prime and paint your models! Here are two looks at painted Warp Spiders build this way.

First we have my squad:

And then Dark Apostle's incredibly painted model:

I hope this tutorial was helpful!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The DTP Warhost Musters - Tournament Time!!

The Autarch's have called the muster for war, and this weekend the Dead Tau Project marches forth through the webway to commence battle on the far maiden world designated Glen Burnie, MD. Farseers have cast the runes and the many future paths are entwined, clouded by the hazy influence of a group known as the Inner Circle Gaming Club. Autarch Elshar has gathered his forces, heeding the advise of his long-time friend Farseer Altie'er. War would be met, blood would be shed, and many Mon Kiegh would fall.

Thats right, this Saturday 2/20/2010, I will be headed up to Glen Burnie to attend the Inner Circle Gaming Club's High Stakes Jamboree and Pan Cake Breakfast. This will be a 2000 point tournament with a bit of a twist for each game. Each of the individual games will have a $10 gift card as an award for the winner of that game, with the $10 being split ($5 each) in the case of a tie. Then, at the end of the day there will be 4 overall prizes:  
  • one for the general that claims the most victory points,  
  • one for the general that looses the least victory points,  
  • one for the best sportsmen or most fun to play
  • one for the best painted army.
Oh yeah, and over and above all that, the IC will be preparing a pancake breakfast for all the players who are in the tournament. The field so far looks very focused on Marine Equivalent armies with only a few non-(chaos)marines attending. In a personally disappointing turn, Old Shatterhands from the Tau of War will be attending with Blood Angels. Then again, fleshing out the blog-o-sphere attendance, my friend and common opponent HuronBH from Blood and Blades will be bringing his Howling Griffons.

The Army

Now the question is, what will be DTP be fielding at this tournament? Its 2000 points, which means its slightly larger than the typical 1850 tourney list I have been playing around with lately. Not a problem, as I have fit in some tweaks that should be interesting overall. Above is a front-on view of the 2000 point army set-up on my display board. I realized I did not have many (any) pictures of the DTP army all together. These pictures do not really fix that problem, but they do provide for a overview of the 2K list.

So, what do we have here? My list @2000

Autarch (Mandiblasters, WJG, Power Weapon, Fusion Gun)
Farseer (Doom, Runes of Warding, Spear)

6x Fire Dragons
 w/ Fire Dragon Exarch (DBFlamer)
w/ Wave Serpent (Spirit Stones, SCan, TL ScatLsr)

8x Dire Avengers
w/ Dire Avenger Exarch (Bladestorm, 2x Avenger SC)
w/ Wave Serpent (Spirit Stones, SCan, TL StarCan)
5x Dire Avengers

w/ Wave Serpent (Spirit Stones, SCan, TL Bright Lances)
5x Dire Avengers

w/ Wave Serpent (Spirit Stones, SCan, TL Bright Lances)
7x Rangers

7x Warpspiders
w/ Warp Spider Exarch (Powerblades, 2x Deathspinner)

2x Fire Prism's (Spirit Stones, Holofield, TL ShuriCat)
2x War Walkers's (ScatLsr, StarCan)

That brings the total to 6 grav-tanks on the board, of which 3 are scoring. The list makes me cringe just a little bit, but I do think I am keeping some of the Biel Tan Craftworld feel, as I have 3 different aspects in the army and still have an Autarch leading. A similar list has done well in the very few recent games I have played at 1850, and this is likely close to what I will end up bringing to Adepticon.

Closing thoughts

I am looking forward to playing three good games on Saturday and seeing how things pan out. My overall goals up front are ranked as follows:
  1. First, I would like to be a contender (in the top 5) for sportsmanship
  2. Second, I would like to be a finalist for the Best Appearance
  3. Third, I would like to win some games
I am going with a mindset to win it all and have a podium finish, but I certainly want to do it in my own style. I am settling fairly well into the fact that my style is Sportsmanship first,  Hobby (painting and modeling) second, and smashing face last. I do believe my game has improved a great deal and I have settled into playing my army, so I am confident and positive on how the games will go.

I am also involved in another project which is very hobby related and has been in the planning/assembling stages for about 6 weeks now. I am very hopeful it will be unveiled next week and keeping my fingers crossed on how the project will be received. With luck, more on that next week.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Farseer on "Eldar JetBike" for a Seer Council

Tonight's blog opens with a picture of both "Seer Council" Psykers posed together. What we have here is the completed Jetbike Seer Council Warlock from the earlier post standing next to the Jetbike Seer Council Farseer I completed tonight! I used several of the strategies for painting that I picked up while working on Eldrad and used them on this Farseer. I also took the advice/nagging of my friend Jay and spent additional time on the Tau so he looks better. Lets take a closer look at the "Seer Council" Farseer.

I am very happy with how he came out overall. I was unsure about the black cloak and helmet initially, but at the end everything seems to have some together. While taking these pictures I notice some touch-up needed on the Avenger Statue, which I will need to get. Now there are 4 more warlocks to put together with wings and bases to complete the council.

5000 Points

I find that lately its becoming easier to clear milestones for the army. I guess this comes with having a "large army" of painted models, and adding models and squads in jumps the total up fairly quickly. With the recent additions of special characters, HQ, and heavies the Dead Tau Project has cleared the new milestone of 5K points! I am excited. This is now the largest army I have fully painted, as my Dwarfs sit at just over 4500 points.

I think it will be exciting putting together an apocalypse game to field everything at once. I am going to have to start considering that.


In the comments on my last post, my friend Jay expressed his feelings that my Wraithlord was possibly the worst model I had painted to date. While I am not sure it was nearly the worst, he did have some very solid feedback. I have revisited my painting and cleaned up several spots. In addition, I have taken some of his advice and touched up the Wraithlord. I grabbed some pictures tonight, and have two comparisons posted below.

Ok, here is the old Wraithlord:

And here is the updated and touched up Wraithlord:

Comments and feedback are welcome!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spirits and Psykers... Oh My!!!

DTP is back with some new models painted up and posted. The Snow-Pocalypse this weekend in Northern Virgina convinced me to get myself back in gear from a painting perspective and I have knocked out two more models. I now have my Wraithlord along with the special character Eldrad moved into the completed case.I have to admit I was very happy with my Wraithlord until I did Eldrad. I think Eldrad may be one of the better models I have painted. I used a print-out from the GW website as a reference and did my best to paint to that color scheme.

Here we go, lets take a look at what we have.... First up is the Wraithlord. We have our Monsterous Spirit Warrior stomping on a Tau Stealth Suit.

And a quick look at both sides:

I modeled him with the wraith sword and flamers built on. The Wraith Sword looks cool for any build and fits the "I stomp you" theme I have on the model. I did add magnetised mounts to each shoulder for adding up to 2 heavy weapons should I choose to field him as such. I like the fact the weapons are interchangeable with my War Walkers.

First we have a Bright Lance.

And second a Lance and a Star Cannon.

Second up we have Eldrad. Here is the bad-ass psyker from Ulthwe craft world. I did find an interesting piece of trivia regarding the current Eldrad model. The model we all use today was originally the "Farseer" model for the Eldar. As I have been digging around in the mists or yesteryear, I was surprised to see this.

So, here is my attempt at Mr. "I kill you with my mind!"

New Project

Lastly for this post, I will mention the new project I have started. I finally have my Avatar scrubbed and began assembling the model tonight. I will be photographing the entire process and plan to post a tutorial in the future. I have the first set of pictures picked out, but am going to wait a bit to post them. The Avatar will be my primary project moving forward, but not the sole project. I still have the Dark Reaper Exarchs and the Seer Council Farseer in process.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Adepticon Models Announced

My trusty Facebook has alerted me that the Adepticon limited edition models have been revealed. You can take a look at them here: Adepticon Models.

I have to say that overall, I am not very impressed. The Fantasy model looks better than ok, but not up to the same standard as the recent years models by Felix Paniagua. I suppose if I had interest in Blood Bowl, the blood bowl model would strike me as somewhat good. As for the Sci-Fi and the Flames of War models, I have to say "Meh". As this is my first Adepticon, I have to admit I am a bit disappointed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Skimmer moving fast FTW!

I have reached a point where my army list for tournaments (1850) has come together nicely and I am now doing minor tweaking to refine it. The new list seems effective, at least as effective as Eldar can be.I still feel my list represents a Biel Tan craftworld army in more than just the Green, White, and black I have painted my models. Furthermore, the last couple games I played have ended as a win or a draw more often than a loss. Adding to that, my recent losses have also been very close as well.

Some may believe I am starting this blog post prepared to sing the praises of my army list focusing on how great the eldar skimmers are. I imagine this has a lot to do with the title along with a general mind-set of players toward any article talking about tournament lists. This is not true however, as the subject is mildly sarcastic, while accurate.

Let me say that even with my skills a player improving and my list reaching an "optimized" point, I am feeling less and less satisfied with how my games end. Lets not talk about losses, as with each of my recent losses I have been fairly successful in identifying my own mistakes and how they contributed to the loss. Also lets not misconstrue my loss of satisfaction with not having fun in my games, overall my games have been very enjoyable. I guess this is a good place in the article to make some very specific points to lay a foundation of understanding!
  1. First and most important, I have truly enjoyed all my recent games. I will speak about sportsmanship in the future, but suffice it to say I have found myself able to greatly enjoy my games regardless of outcome. I do believe this is a large component of good sportsmanship.
  2. Second, I am able to identify where I am, as a player, improving. This is a very satisfying feeling and I am happy with my personal progress.
  3. Third, I still love my Eldar! I see no likelihood of putting them away in exchange for the "Sexy newness" that is Tyranids! My Tyranids will re-emerge eventually but I do not believe it will be any time soon.
So what is it, you may ask, that has made me less satisfied with my wins and draws? I think the best way to explain is to discuss, at a high level, how my recent games have gone. Perhaps this will also help with some future tactics discussion.

The Beginning
Typically at deployment I look at my opponents list and make some key decisions. My Autarch joins my spiders (he has the jump pack), my Farseer joins a squad (typically a Dire Avenger squad). Then I deploy my spiders to deepstrike-reserve, my rangers to reserve (unless there is a building in my deployment zone with an objective), and make a quick decision about the remainder of the army. Typically I have begun the first turn with 4 grav-tanks on the table (2 prisms, 2 serpents with DA) and I am about 50% on keeping the Dragons + Serpent in reserve or putting them on the table.

The Game
Next we typically have 4 turns of solid gaming, where the Eldar are zipping around the board and shooting at the enemy. The enemy is pushing forward and trying to come to grips with the eldar. All of you reading know the type of game, a typical game that is. This part of the game has ups and downs and is very satisfying overall.

The Conclusion
Then we have Turn 4 and 5. Starting at turn 4 I have to check and make sure I am on track for my objectives at the end of the game. In objective based missions this entails making sure I can get to the opponents held objectives before the end of turn 5, along with getting a scoring unit on my own objective. Where things have gone well, I am looking to sit my DA's in their wave serpents on 2 objectives and then contest anything else. This thought includes looking at "cool moves" like tank shocking over other vehicles (I am a skimmer so can ignore intervening terrain), and/or ramming enemy vehicles that are holding objectives. Then on turn 5 the "Eldar Grav Tank" machine kicks into gear and I zip into position to hold or contest objectives across the board. After this is successful, I sit and wait for the game to end, doing what I can to hold my places.

The conclusion is the part that I am starting to find un-satisfying. Regardless of how well the game has gone, or how epic the battle has been (close combat or shooting), at the end of the game it comes down to:
"Am I within 24 inches of the objectives to tank shock onto it?"

Really? This is what my army comes down to? I certainly do not feel like this lives up to
"We bring only death, and leave only carrion. It is a mesage even a Human can understand."
It certainly does not seem to fit:
"...their abilities combining in a symphony of destruction that is far greater than the sum of its parts."
I cannot call my feeling dissatisfaction, as this is not completely accurate. Its more in line with less-satisfaction with how the game ends. The game seems split into 2 sections for me. These sections consist of the following:

All the epic game play that happens in
deployment and the first 4 turns of the game

and then

The last 2 turns where very little of that epic stuff mattered, but,
I get to move fast and park my tanks on your objectives.

I think some of this comes from the Eldar codex starting to show its age against the new codex coming out. I also believe some of this is a mis-match between the overall rules of 40K 5th edition and the rules in the 4th edition Eldar Codex. I am confident it will improve. I am also looking forward to the new Battle Missions book as I hope it introduces some mission types I have not considered. However, when it comes to tournaments and pick-up games, I think this is the nature of the game and I will need to accept it if I am to stay competitive.

For the time being, I am going to keep getting games in and building the rest of the Dead Tau Project army. I have not done much painting in January, at least not for the DTP. Now that February is upon us, I need to get my nose back to the grindstone, so to speak.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pictures from the Trygon Contest

A friend of mine,, snagged some pictures from the Warpstone Painting Contest and has them posted over on his blog. There are two great shots of the winning Trygon, and you can see mine in the first picture (the picture of the group).

Check them out on Mikes blog, Michaelangelo's 40K Studio.