Berks Spring Assault 4!

Berks Spring Assault 4!
Berks Spring Assault 4! Warhammer 40K tournament

Berks Warhammer 40K Group

Monday, May 10, 2010

Battle Report: Cadian 17th vs. Tau force Firestorm

BATTLE REPORT: Pillars of Hatred game 4: The Keepers:

Caidan 17th Imperial Guard vs. Tau force: Firestorm (Angel Crespo)

Mission: Capture the Keepers….5 individual models spaced out along the middle of the board, 12” from the side edges, and 12” apart. Each Keeper moves randomly d6”+ scatter dice each turn. Until they are captured or within 3” of any unit.

Any infantry or walker unit can capture a keeper in an assault, than may move away with them or load them into a transport.

Escape off your own table edge, score 5 points. Kill a Keeper, -3 points. Kill enemy HQ commander, +1 points, your commander lives: +1 point.

After having helped prevent evil and chaotic summoning by some rogue members of the Salamander’s 2nd company, Colonel Colwyn Dray and his forces found themselves in a predicament.

They had just opened fire upon allied forces of the Imperium. Col. Dray gave his men instructions to capture forces of the summoning renegades alive and at all costs. This ended up pitting his forces against Loyalist Salamander Space Marines.

Col. Dray was ready to face the worst. Fearing Captain Ver’Asa of the 2nd company would probably see to it that he and the rest of the Cadian 17th recon forces were to face execution for opening fire upon their forces. The only saving grace was that Col. Dray’s forces had obtained some strong neuro-bombs and the shocking blast waves from some of their munitions, while deadly on weaker foes, were non-lethal to the Astartes warriors.

The saving grace came in the form of a direct message relay that was transmitted to both the Salamander units as well as the Cadian 17th.

“…again we repeat…..all forces loyal to the Emperor of Mankind, stand down! This is by order of Vulkan Hes’tan himself and the 1st company of the Salamanders. You are to stand down and await further orders. This is emissary Bel’tior of the Salamanders 1st company, you are to stand down and await our arrival…..”

The message came right after Colonel Dray saw Captain Ver’Asa put a bullet from his bolt pistol into the head of the last traitorous marine. Breathing a sigh of momentary relief, Colonel Dray just assumed it would only be a short stay of execution.
During the interim that followed, Colonel Dray and his forces were actually commended for remaining loyal during this expeditionary campaign on Bein-Telu. Captain Ver’Asa and his men were called into disciplinary matters and were to join the forces of the Salamanders First Company for debriefing and perhaps a visit by the Inquisition, who were rumored to be sending more forces this way to contend with the mysterious Inquisitor Lord Aki.

The Salamanders also were rumored to be bringing in additional forces to clean up in this sector. Rumors of Space Marines from the Blood Angels, Space Wolves, as well as the Salamanders leaving a detachment of the 6th company supporting the rebuilding Lamenters marines were all due to arrive in the next month.

For now, additional intelligence revealed some interesting information for the current forces involved in the battles on Bein-Telu.

It had come to the attention of monitoring units that a strike force of Tau from the Firestorm division were tracking the Cadian 17th. Intelligence shown that these were similar forces that the Cadian 17th had expunged before when they were called in to deal with a large force of Kroot Mercenaries. Perhaps the Tau were seeking revenge?

As for the Salamanders, they were to join 1st Company and proceed to intercept another Tau force, a questionable unit called : E’Co Sept. of Order Xenos…an experimental “loyalist” Tau force that claims to be allied to the Imperium. Not wanting to take any chances, the Salamanders would be dispatched to cut them off and eliminate them altogether.

The mission was simple. There are 5 native aliens to Bein-Telu in a location nearby that the Tau were looking to intercept. Emissary Bel’Tior of the Salamanders had issued orders for Col. Dray to lead his forces and capture some of these “Keepers of the secrets” and return them for processing before the Tau of force Firestorm could.
Organizing his forces, Col. Dray had already sent Lt. James “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin of the 005th Stormtrooper squad to lead a recon unit to scout ahead. Lt. Gavin’s forces had already detected the Tau insurgents and had infiltrated behind enemy lines.

Colonel Dray organized a strike team that he would lead personally, not wanting to disappoint the Salamander’s Emissary and keep his forces in the “good graces” of the Imperium. He rallied a veteran sniper team and Capt ? (Master of Ordnance) to form his command squad.

Colonel Dray had sent for Lt. Belkan, the somewhat cowardly junior officer who sometimes led and infantry platoon into battle. The Colonel figured this was the Lieutenant’s last chance to redeem himself before having a Commissar assigned to him. Joining him were to infantry squads and two heavy weapons teams, one with Autocannons and one with Lascannons and Missle Launchers.
Filling out the Cadian forces were a Chimera transport for one infantry squad, to ride forward and capture a “Keeper” as well as an outfitted Valkyrie Assault Carrier. Two Sentinel Scout Walkers would provide some flank protection, a squad of ratling snipers would infiltrate and join the stormtroopers in getting behind enemy lines. Heavy support came in the form of a Leman Russ Battle Tank, and Leman Russ Executioner Plasma cannon tank.

Having moved his forces into position, Col. Dray gritted his teeth in anticipation. The Tau were known for their firepower and he knew he would be in for a fight. Scout reports came in on three squads of battle suits, including a squad known as Broadsides, that packed lethal anti-armor in the form of twin-linked rail guns.
The Cadian Sentinel walkers strode into the woods, taking advantage of natural cover along the West flank. They were supported by the anti-armor heavy weapons squad and Lt. Belkan with his infantry squad toting 4 grenade launchers.

Central to the field of battle a Chimera Transport and a the Leman Russ Excecutioner took up position with rocky outcroppings for cover. In front of them, somewhere amidst rock and brush were the Stormtroopers of Lt. James Gavin’s band. Taking up the East flank was Colonel Dray and his command squad along side the heavy weapons team with autocannons. To his left, by the Eastern flank was the Valkyrie Assault Carrier and the Leman Russ Battle tank. Beyond the tank on the Eastern flank, a small unit of Ratling snipers had taken up cover, sneaking up on one of the roaming Keepers.

Tau Turn 1: As the Valkyrie made it’s scout move and turbo boosted halfway across the table, between two of the keepers, Tau Battle Suits armed with twin-linked Smart Missles managed to bring it down as the vehicle failed it’s cover save and they rolled a 6 (-2)=4 Immobilized result. The vehicle flying so fast was brought down into a crash landing. The Ratling snipers took some casualties and failed their morale test and decided to fall back. All other units tried to gun down the Stormtroopers located in the middle of the board, behind a rocky outcropping. Many of the Tau forces were just out of range for their smart missles and did not have line of sight to them with any other weapons.

Railguns either failed to penetrate armor on the Chimera or hit the rocks in front of it, sparing it for the moment.

Cadian 17th Turn 1: The Ratlings continued to fall back. The Leman Russ Battle tank broke from cover and fired it’s main gun and a heavy bolter and stubber into the twin-missle armed battle pods. The blasts took out 1 full suit, damaged another and took out both gun drones. The Executioner tank did similar damage to the next squad of Battle Suits in the central part of the enemy forces.

Scout walkers stepped up and immobilized one of the Tau Devilfish transports. Stormtroopers stepped up and captured a Keeper and started to pull back. The Chimera rolled forth and popped smoke launchers.

The squad inside the Valkyrie was pinned. The anti-armor squads moved forward to grab cover in the tree line as Lt. Belkan moved his men into the woods as well.

The intensity of the incoming fire from the leman russ forced the Smart missle armed Battle Suits on the Eastern flank to fall back and leave the field of battle.

Tau turn 2: Much to the chagrin of the Battle Tank crew, a squad of 20 Kroot mercenaries arrived on the Eastern Flank. The Horde of creatures leaped and clambered and fired into the rear of the tank, forcing crews to close all hatches and dive for cover. (60 attacks, 26 hits, 2 glances, both crew stunned).
On the Western side of the battlefield, the unit inside the immobilized devilfish deployed and started running on foot. The second Devilfish transport zoomed forward and deployed another squad that prepared to capture a Keeper on the West flank.

The Tau Hammerhead tank opened fire with an Ion cannon, joining the Braodsides in trying to gun down the Stormtroopers who were making away with a Keeper. Four of the brave soldiers fell to their fire, but kept moving.

The other squad of Tau battlesuits fired missles and gunfire into the squad that had to disembark from the downed Valkyrie. Their downed transport provided ample cover to allow them to hold out under heavy fire.

Cadian 17th turn 2:
Colonel Dray ordered his squad and the autocannon team to fire on his target, bringing their guns to bear on the Kroot squad that was climbing all over the Leman Russ Battle Tank. The Commander’s fears were two fold. 1: They could take out his tank. 2: They were dangerously close to his command unit. The gunned down 7 of the Kroot mercenaries.

The Leman Russ Executioner tank turned it’s guns onto the Kroot as well, hoping to chase them off their allied tank. The plasma blasts scored 17 hits, but the Kroot saved 14 of them with cover saves! Stray shots from the plasma cannons though took out the main gun of the Leman Russ and one of it’s drive wheels, thus immobilizing it.

Still, it forced the Kroot to retreat. The Valkyrie team stepped up and captured another keeper and tried to make their way back. The Stormtroopers kept running as Cadian forces tried to provide additional firepower into their side. The Sentinels managed to stun and shake the crew of the other Devilfish on the Western flank.

The Chimera rolled forward and deployed it’s team, with the Armored fist squad hoping to capture yet another keeper.

The Ratlings failed to heed the commands of Col. Dray and fled the field of Battle.

Tau turn 3: A second squad of Kroot mercenaries arrived, this time on the Western flank. Their arrival took the anti-armor team by surprise and they soon found themselves beset upon by Kroot and their hounds, and they died in a cry of agonized screams.

The fleeing Kroot on the Eastern Flank regrouped and prepared to support the Battlesuits taking the fight to infantry squad by the Valkryie. Their combined firepower forced the squad to abandoned their position and leave the Keeper behind as they were forced to fall back.

The Hammerhead took out six of the Armored Fist squad as the Broadsides wrecked the Chimera tansport.

Cadian 17th turn 3: With the Kroot taking out the anti-armor team, and Lt. Belkan and his men breaking from cover and running toward the keepers and away from the Kroot, the Executioner tank pivoted and brought all of it’s Plasma Cannons to bear upon the Kroot in the woods. 9 of the 20 Kroot and hounds fell to plasma fire as the woods were set ablaze.

Under their cover fire, Lt. James “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin made his escape with the first Keeper of the fight. Colonel Dray ordered the Autocannon squad to break cover and they moved forth and captured another Keeper as the squad from the Valkyrie continued to flee, also not heeding the commands of Col. Dray.

The Walkers managed to immobilize the second Devilfish.
Tau turn 4: The Tau forces on the Western flank combined their firepower effectively. They had gunned down the rest of the Armored Fist squad from the Chimera. Lt. Belkan and his platoon squad were caught in the open and his men were gunned down around him. He turned to run, but cut into the path of a pulse cannon from the immobilized Devilfish, and Lt. Belkan was cut down.

Gunfire from the Kroot took out one of the Sentinel Walkers. As the Squad of Tau firewarriors who had the Keeper in their possession fled to escape, they tripped up on their own feet, rolling a (1) on their run, stopping them less than 1 inch from the table edge. This would prove to be a fatal event.
On the Eastern side, the Tau Commander showed up, deep striking into the opening between Col. Dray and his command squad and the Leman Russ Executioner tank. Commander Brightblade leveled his Fusion Blaster at the rear of the Executioner hitting it directly in the capacitors of the Plasma Cannon generator and caused the vehicle to explode in a shower of shrapnel and sparks.

Cadian 17th turn 4: Seeing his beloved tank blown to smitherines, Colonel Dray ordered his squad to step up. Col. Dray leveled his pistol at the Tau commander and put a shot into the rear of his suit, penetrating the neck armor and injuring the enemy commander. Col. Dray than unsheathed his power sword and ordered a charge as he and his command squad assaulted the Enemy Brightblade in his battle suit.

As his own men provided cover, the Heavy Weapons team heard their commander’s orders to “Move!, Move!, Move!” and ran their way to escape with a second Keeper. The Immobilized Leman Russ poured firepower from it’s lascannon, heavy bolters and stubber into the remaining Kroot on the Eastern flank, causing them to break and run for the hills.

Than came the coup-de-grace. In the far North West corner, as the firewarriors were running towards their escape, their reason for pulling up short became evident.

Guardsman Dutch (my version of Marbo), stepped up from behind a rocky outcropping smiling evily at the Tau. Before they could step back, Dutch had tossed a demolition charge into their midst. All but one of the warriors were blown to the ground, the last holding the Keeper behind him. Dutch unsheathed his envenomed blade and dove into combat and sliced the poor fool’s throat before he know what had hit him. The Keeper was now in possession of Dutch.

Tau turn 5: Tau Battlesuits on the Eastern side gunned down the last of the squad that came in the Valkyrie. Their commander was engaged in a combat with Col. Dray and was slowly taking out his support squad one by one with his enhanced battle suit. Col. Dray scored another wound, driving his power sword into the battle suit of the enemy Commander Brightblade.

The Broadsides gunned down Dutch or chased him off (only time will tell if he truly escaped) and the Keeper was left to wander on it’s own as the remaining squad of firewarriors tried to pull back to capture it before it could wander away.

The remaining troops of the Armored fist squad made their escape but were not in possession of a keeper.
Cadian 17th turn 5: Kroot forces on the Western side of the battlefield made it to the center of the field and captured a Keeper. With time running out and no mobile transports, they were not going to have enough time to escape (Game ends on turn 6).

On the Eastern side, the two surviving battle suits joined into battle with their commander, taking out another of the command staff guard. The Kroot mercs on the east had fled the battlefield, the Leman Russ continuing to pour fire into their ranks as they fled.
Tau Turn 6: No where to go with the Keeper, the Tau only had 2 targets left to shoot at. The Leman Russ battle tank in the far south east corner that many of them could not draw line of sight to. The other target was Cadian Col. Dray and his command staff, but they were engaged in a desperate fight with Commander Firestorm and 2 more battle suits in an assault. They moved closer to see if their commander could take out the enemy.
Cadian 17th turn 6: In an epic finish to the battle, two of his squads escaped with Keepers, 2 more squads have run away (Ratlings and Armored Fist), Colonel Colwyn Dray was the only one with half of his command squad left in the fight.

Bringing his power sword in a coup-de-grace, Col. Dray cut down the Tau commander dropping him in a near fatal blow. The strike to their commander cause the two battle suits engaged with Col. Dray to break off to cover their commander.

The momentary confusion allowed Colonel Dray and his men to take leave of the battlefield as the Leman Russ fired off it’s smoke launchers to cover their commander’s victory. Crews abandoned the tank and fled with their commander, his units suffering heavy casualties, but scoring a victory none the less.

A tough battle that came down to the very end. Cadian 17th scored +5 points per Keeper (x2), +1 point for taking down the enemy commander, and +1 point for their Commander surviving for a total of 12 points.

The forces of Firestorm (Tau) scored zero points. If this was a battle based upon victory points, the Tau would have had a decisive victory, but that wasn’t the mission and in the end, the Cadian 17th have won yet again against the Tau of Firestorm.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Running Tournaments......lessons learned.

Running Tournaments.

Well, I learned a lot at the Berks Spring Assault Tournament we hosted. Myself and a few friends of the Berks Warhammer 40K Club. This particular event was a 1000 point, 4-game tournament we held for our club. We opened the invitation to other stores, game clubs and anyone else we knew it an attempt to reach out and connect and unit our groups.

In that aspect we were largely successful. We had 38 players show up for this event. Players from Berks met with gamers from Harrisburg and the Adventurer’s Guild, the Innocence Means Nothing game club based in Allentown/Lehigh Valley, and players from the Gaming Garage who host the Mechanicon GT.

What I didn’t realize was how huge an undertaking this event would be. I was sorely short on staff, and honestly didn’t realize we could get that many players, but I was somewhat prepared for it.

Our first tournament was held at the local Hobbytown USA in Reading. That was our Battle For Berks held on January 9th, 2010. We had over 20 people show up for 14 slots. Due to space, that was all that we could accommodate.

Seeing how well the small hobby-style and low-point tournament was appealing to players, we decided to try it again, this time at 1000 points, but still keep the battles on 4’ x 4’ boards.

We contracted a hotel meeting room at the Country Inn & Suites in Wyomissing. The room was good size for our needs, but there was a mishap on the part of the hotel staff in preparing for our event and they were short several tables I needed.

Thankfully we have such a wonderful game club with the Berks Warhammer 40K Group that everyone rallied to bring in more tables, boards, scenery, terrain and all manner of supplied we needed.

Instead of having 18 tables (4’ x 4’), with a 18” x 24” set up area, we ended up with 20 tables, 4’x 4’ but no set up areas. Several players “sponsored” tables, making boards and terrain for the tournament, but also to have for the game club and other personal one-on-one games.

I have to thank all of our players, as they did a wonderful job helping me from totally panicking. I have to give special thanks to Leslie McCormack, who has experience with helping with the administrative side of the tournament scene. She really saved the day more than folks will ever know.

I’ve learned several things running this event. All said and done, it went rather well, most of the mistakes were on my own part, but I am learning.

We had a great turnout for this event with 38 players. I tried to keep scoring close to some GT events I have been too, but put a heavier emphasis on Sportsmanship in the total scoring.

The real bugs and issues came when the program file I was using didn’t calculate the results the way I had intended. This was due to me changing how scoring was done due to sportsmanship and the addition of objective points added to overall battle points. This ended up taking us two game rounds to work the bugs out of it.

Despite the delays on this, we undersold the event, but did this intentionally to draw the attention of fellow gamers. For $15 pre-registration and $20 at the door, players got to play 4 games of Warhammer 40K, largely against new players, on new terrain and scenery, as well as have a chance to win prizes. We also included beverages for the day and lunch for all of our players and staff. (These were some other costs incurred that went over budget, but again, I am learning).

As with the other GT events I have been at, we awarded Army Domination awards in the form of a certificate of recognition. My friend Brian Smith and his wife Tammy did an excellent job working out these awards for us. I made some small trophies on plaques and using miniatures painted in gold, sliver and bronze for some top awards as well.

Something I did differently was that I went heavy on prize support for such a small event. We than offered raffle tickets to each players. Pre-registrations received 5 tickets, and all other players at the door received 3. Each Army Domination winner won 2 additional raffle tickets.

We also sold more raffle tickets at $1 each, or Six for $5. The prize table we had would allow all prizes to be selected in a form of ‘prize seniority’. Any prizes left on the table at the end would go to the raffles.

This way, even a player in last place could still have a chance at winning a prize. The raffle went hand in hand with a pizza fund-raiser we held for the club to help offset our costs of the tournament. When it was all said and done we had a small excess. Those proceeds will be funneled back into our game club for supplies for a terrain clinic we are holding with my friend who owns the Adventurer’s Guild in Harrisburg PA

The only other issue I really had with the event was at the end. I clicked on the wrong option on the program I was using to calculate final results. The tournament was supposed to be calculated by overall total score. This included battle points from wins, ties, losses, as well as objective points scored during missions (6 max per game), and combined points for Composition, Appearance, and Sportsmanship.

What happened instead was that the program allocated slots according by Win/Loss record. This was totally wrong, and sadly, I didn’t figure it out until 2 days later. I had issues with my computer and due to my blunder on time and planning, I rushed through the results part of the tournament. In the end, some players received awards based upon their record, as opposed to their overall scores.

In the end, I made sure to go back (out of my own pocket) and make sure all results were properly calculated and all appropriate winners received their just awards. As for the other players…… ….well, it is not fair for me to strip someone of a prize due to my own mistakes. So for them it was an early Christmas gift and for me, it was a harsh lesson learned.

Ultimately I just wanted everyone to have a good time. Despite my blunders, I sure hope that I achieved that to some degree. No matter what happened, I wanted everyone to know that they got a fair deal with the Berks Warhammer 40K club.

We had a great turnout, great prize support from the Adventurer’s Guild in Harrisburg, and support from the guys from Mechanicon (who brought in extra terrain for us to use). Terran Scapes, a company I found online also sponsored our tournament with a gift certificate. I bought some of their scenery and went through a process painting and getting it all ready. I featured that terrain on Table-1, and purchased their Martian Buttes. This is really nice quality terrain, and I also had one of their finished and textured hills. I plan to purchase more of their stuff, as it is really nice.

Sarah of  Dragonfly Minis also sponsored our event with some gift certificates. I had contracted their services to paint a Vulkan Hes’tan for my Son’s Salamander Space Marines. I first learned of Sarah at the Mechanicon GT and learned about how talented she is with painting miniatures and armies by commission.

Despite the hard lessons learned as well as the work involved in this event, we will probably try another event in the future. For now I need a break from planning and just want to enjoy the summer coming up.


So, as for the lessons I learned, here’s my current list:

1: Get enough help for the tournament. More judges and referres.
2: Have someone available to be a gopher and run for miscellaneous stuff
3: Charge an appropriate amount for the event. (This event should have been at least $10 more). We are not looking to profit from it, just break even and have fun.
4: Keep lunch (if included) to a much simpler menu and process.
5: Allocate time between rounds to calculate results
6: Have the first two rounds of game play already randomized and prepared BEFORE
7: I like the idea of the raffle, but I would change it up a bit.
8: Fine tune my scoring system and programs, run a full test BEFORE the event.
9: Triple check the event and make sure they can handle our needs.

The raffle idea worked, but instead of having several smaller prizes, I may just keep the prize table to 10 items next time instead of 25. Than offer additional sizable awards in more of a ‘chinese auction’, where you have jars/baskets in front of each item for raffle, than allow the players to allocate as many or as few tickets as possible to each item. I would offer large prizes, like, say a battle force, a tank, and a few other items.

Now that it’s all over with, just remember that if you undertake the challenges of running and hosting a tournament, be prepared that it is a LOT of work.

Also, when you attend an event, understand that there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, especially at larger venues like GTs. Try to remember to be courteous to the staff and make sure to thank anyone involved in organizing the event.