I staggered into my 3rd round of the day with 2 losses under my belt. Needless to say, my morale was pretty low by now despite both games being highly entertaining. Still, I was determined to at least have a good time with my LAST game of 40k in which the Eldar would be my primary army.
My third opponent was Ryan, sporting a Tau list. Tau! I don't have a very clear memory of this game other than being punch-drunk and on some level just wanting the whole thing to be over. Ryan's list made good use of the better toys in the Tau arsenal, lots of missile pods, 2 units of 2 broadsides, a hammerhead and three - count'em THREE! - squads of fire warriors.
Long story short: I went into this game with nothing more than a plan to get up close and face-to-face, where my globally superior melee abilities would do the work for me. In the end that plan backfired, however, as I was not able to keep a cohesive force in forward motion. I'd forgotten how effective rail guns can be!
Ryan smoked me but good. As the game wore on I realized that not only was I not going to be able to win the game, I wasn't going to be able to draw it, either! I carried through to the final turn with the grim resolution of a man on his way to the gallows, but determined to do it on his feet!
I can't say I had a great time with the tournament this year. Anyone who knows me will tell you that losing isn't that big of a deal to me, but in a tournament setting, 3 rounds of losses will demoralize anyone. Cap that with all sorts of logistical problems, a punishing paint-scoring system, and my day-long inability to focus, and I've burned a day on a not very rewarding experience. I stuck it out, and elements of each game were enjoyable, but by the end of the 3rd round I was ready to call it a day. For my own future reference, I've assembled a list of musts that will help me fare better in future tournaments.
1. Prepare effectively:
Just getting to the convention on Saturday was an ordeal on its own. I won't go into the gory details, but by the time I arrived at the hotel I felt like I'd already gone a few rounds in the octagon. This definitely made a difference in my morale and had me going into the tournament off-balance and guess what! I never fully recovered.
In the future I will be attending events where I can be prepared and get to the event with minimal hassle. Unfortunately this probably means I won't be heading to Kublacon in the future; I allow myself one "tournament away" per year, and that time slot is permanently reserved by Dundracon, since my friend and I have been attending it regularly since before college. So unless some unforeseen opportunity appears that will allow me to spend Memorial Day weekend away from my family without being lynched upon my return, I'll be missing future Kublacon events.
2. Practice, practice practice!
I'd done reasonably well in my preparations as far as gaming goes, but I stopped getting games in 2 weeks prior to the tournament, leaving me a bit rusty. Also, this was my first experience with a net-list. What I've discovered (particularly where specialist armies like Eldar are concerned) is that I'm not so good at playing armies that don't suit my style of play. I think I probably would have had much better luck at the tourney using the same list I brought last year!
3. Research the event.
Let me say up front that I'm not bagging on the TO's here. Running a tournament is an enormous task, and without a large volunteer staff, all the burden of that job falls squarely on a small group of shoulders. This forces certain necessities and some thing will be rushed, others dropped.
From my own experience, I can't say I really enjoyed the scenarios presented. Each of the 3 scenarios presented unique obstacles to the mechdar style of play. In each case, the rules presented offered me difficult choices which locked me into a particular strategy without the ability to shift focus later on. If I wanted to be channeled into failure, I'd play missions out of the Battle Missions books!
On top of this, there were the new paint scoring rules. This time around the paint scoring was harsher than last, but with less weight applied. However, the scoring was so harsh that it was actually much worse than the old system for anyone but the top-rated painters. I'm all for rewarding peoples' hard work, but if you do so you have to be responsible about how that judgement is applied. There is a telling discussion of the paint scoring in the Independent Characters latest podcast (epi. 30), as well as an ongoing discussion about it in their forums.
I feel that due to time and man-power constraints the assignment of paint scores was uneven or perhaps even very flawed. For an event the size of this tournament, you need at least 5 judges, so that within an hour each judge can give each army the time it deserves and within a well-lit environment. It also requires a good sense of what models are canon, what are modified, and a fairly deep comprehension of technique. Not many people that I've spoken to or heard from agree that these requirements were met.
My Eldar are done, for now. The battered and bruised remnants of Craftworld Urm have retreated into the webway to hide, lick their wounds and mourn their dead (at least until the next Eldar codex is released). The action will now switch over to the First Legion for a while. The universe is a kinder place with ATSKNF and a 3+ save.
That doesn't mean that there won't be some Eldar material popping up from time to time on this blog, far from it! I've still got a few thousand points of elves to paint, as well as some review/analysis of the forthcoming Imperial Armour 11 (yummy!), including the development of my own Craftworld fluff and history.