View Full Version : The Gauntlet Tournament 2005 (very long!)

21-08-2005, 14:56
This is part one of my tournament report.
I was halfway through re-inventing my Exigators Chaos Space Marine army when I was invited to the Gauntlet Tournament 2005. Having gone to the two previous Gauntlet Tournaments (in 2004 and 2003), and had a cracking time, I bought a ticket on the spot.

Tournament Rules
The scoring for the Gauntlet tournament works as follows. Points can be collected in three areas; gaming, painting and army selection.
Gaming Three games are played in one day, with a maximum of 30 points available per game. The highest score possible from gaming is therefore 90 points.

Painting There are 54 points up for grabs in the painting category. Although the exact method for calculating scores was never made public, I understand that marks were awarded for highlights, washes, drybrushes, basing, unit markings, conversions and originality.

Army Selection Each army was judged before the tournament on the basis of the army list and supporting background material. 36 points were possible. Troop choices were encouraged, while too many Heavy Support or HQ units were frowned upon. Armies with a coherent background and the squads to match were rewarded while min-maxed armies, with lots of duplicate squads lost points.

The overall best points score available was therefore 180 points, although this would clearly be very difficult to achieve. I knew I wouldn't win best painted army this year (I had won it in the last two). My own army was very rushed by my standards, and I knew I had cut corners in some places. Besides, predominately black armies rarely win best painted awards. Aside from all that, I had played Maurice in a test game and his Ultramarines were absolutely awesome. They were heavily converted and beautifully painted. To be honest they blew my army away and I strongly believed he would get the best painted nod this year.

In regards to the actual army list and battles themselves, I knew I was in better shape than previous years. The Chaos list in general is stronger than the Daemonhunters and Imperial Guard list by some distance, and I had the opportunity to play some test games and tweak my list. Having won only one game in 2003, and two games in 2004 it seemed logical to go one better in 2005. My objective in this tournament was therefore to win all three games I played in. A tall order indeed, as I knew it would give me a shot of winning the whole tournament, but I felt confident and relaxed this time around.

Mission - All three games on the day would be Gamma level cleanse missions.
Scoring - There were seven different outcomes for each game, depending on the final victory point tallies. It wasn't just about winning, it was about how much you won by. Points ranged from 0 to 30.

The Army
The obvious choice of which army to take was my Exigators (having taken Imperial Guard and Daemonhunters in the past). The problem was that the tournament was only four weeks away and I had an entire army to finish. My solution was to run a painting blog on lone pilgrim (http://www.lonepilrim.co.uk) (and simultaneously on Dakka Dakka) to get the bulk of my army battle ready.

Once I had some idea of the models I had available I sat down with the Chaos Codex and began to write up some army lists. All three games would use a gamma level cleanse mission, so I knew I was guaranteed to be able to utilise deep strike and infiltrate. I also knew the mission objective was to capture table quarters.

Exigators v.1
My first list was an all-infiltrating infantry army. I would start the game with literally no models on the table, which in theory gave me the ability to pick off juicy targets once I had seen my opponent's deployment. It also meant I could begin the game having already captured two quarters with infiltrating squads.

The list contained a souped-up character killing Lord and a pack of Furies for counter charge duties, a couple of las/plas squads and heavy bolter Havocs to provide a firebase, and two Obliterators dropping in to claim the enemy starting quarter. I thought this was a strong list for the mission so I played a few test games to try it out.

The list was a disaster. The all-infiltrating aspect of the army failed miserably to provide me with any sort of tactical advantage. My opponents all had at least one set of infiltrating troops themselves and that meant a dice off to see who set up their infiltrators first. If my opponent won (which they invariably did - the gits!) they could steal some prime terrain, and pretty much that entire table quarter, denying them to me. Even if they lost the roll and I got first deployment, their own infiltrators would pick the other free table quarter and severely cramp the rest of my deployment.

My tactical advantage was eroded further by not having any units starting with regular deployment. With no 'pushback' unit my enemies could deploy right up to the edge of their deployment zone with impunity. In my test games with this army I was defeated before I began the game.

The only plus points were the Obliterators and the Furies. The Obliterators killed two Defilers, a Hammerhead and a Chaos Lord in their first three games, and the Furies were a real nuisance, locking units in combat with their speed and wearing them down with a flurry of attacks. In one game they took out an entire Havoc squad on the turn they charged. Nasty.
Nevertheless I had to have a rethink.

Exigators v.2
My second version of the list dropped the Lord for a Daemon Prince, saving me a few points. The Prince had Daemonic Stature and would therefore have to start on the table, but he was still well equipped to take on enemy characters and Daemonic Speed was faster and cheaper than Daemonic Flight. I dropped infiltrate from a las/plas squad so that I had a pushback unit and this also saved me some points. I dropped a las/plas unit and with those extra points I managed to squeeze in a six man assault equipped squad.
I still struggled in my games, though. The Daemon Prince was a points sink. In order to prevent him from being shot to pieces early in the game I had to hide him away, but that meant he struggled to see any action at all. Additionally I just wasn't coming across the powerful characters I had been expecting.

The main problem I had was the size of my army. I had few men overall, and each squad was small, meaning it was easy to drop them below half strength to prevent them from taking table quarters. The assault squad was especially vulnerable consisting of only six men; it either got blown off the table before it made combat or it was so severely depleted that it couldn't hurt anything when it got there.

On a more positive note the Obliterators continued to impress, often winning me a load of points by occupying a table quarter, and the Furies always seemed to make their points back in enemy kills. I especially valued their ability to disrupt the enemy due to their unpredictability and their speed.
Back to the drawing board again.

Exigators v.3
With the tournament on the horizon this would have to be my final list for good or ill. I reduced my infiltrators still further, down to just three squads, saving me points. I also shaved nearly forty points from my Daemon Prince. He would now get spanked by enemy characters, but he could still do some damage to MEQ's (Marine or EQuivalents) and maybe vehicles.
With the savings, I padded out the assault squad to eight members.

My final test games were much more satisfactory. The Exigators now seemed much more balanced and optimized, with each unit having a clearly defined role and the whole army having several solutions to different enemy formations and tactics. The Daemon Prince died more often but he generally won more points back than he cost, and he was a cheap non-scoring unit anyway. My assault squad now always achieved combat and had the numbers to cause some casualties. The Havocs were devastating against light infantry and light vehicles, while the Obliterators continued to shine. The Furies always seemed to appear in the nick of time and overwhelm the enemy.

Another good point of the list was it's composition (which was marked for the tournament). It had a cheap HQ, one Elite pick, four Troop choices, one Fast Attack squad and one Heavy Support unit. I had at over 40% of my points in Troop choices and that was more than double the number of points than I had in any other category.

21-08-2005, 15:00
Chaos Lord Ferocitor - Mark of Chaos Undivided, Daemonic Stature, Daemonic Speed, 2 Close combat weapons, Frag grenades

2 Obliterators

Squad Infractis 8 Chaos Marines, Mark of Chaos Undivided, Infiltrate, Bolt pistols and Close combat weapons, Aspiring Champion with Power fist
Squad Profuge - 5 Chaos Marines, Mark of Chaos Undivided, Infiltrate, Bolt guns, Plasma gun, Lascannon
Squad Abraxar - 5 Chaos Marines, Mark of Chaos Undivided, Bolt guns, Missile Launcher
Squad Krall - 5 Chaos Marines, Mark of Chaos Undivided, Bolt guns, Plasma gun, Lascannon

8 Furies

Squad Imber - 6 Havocs, Mark of Chaos Undivided, Infiltrate, Bolt guns, 4 Heavy Bolters


Ashley Eddon - Dark Angels
Army - 5 Terminators, 2 10 man Tactical squads with Plasma cannons and 1 Rhino, 10 Devastators with Missile Launchers and Plasma cannons, Commander with Lightning claw

Ashley won the roll to choose the table quarter and picked the one with a large wood in it.

Dark Angel deployment with Squad Infractis on the other side of the wood
Ashley set up around the fringes of the wood, with his Marines in nice, neat firing lines. I took the opportunity to place my infiltrating close assault unit (Squad Infractis) on the opposite side of the woods, out of sight and within striking distance of virtually all of his units.

Ashley had his Terminators and Commander on the left, facing my starting quarter. I had squad Abraxar acting as pushback in the centre, while squad Krall supported them on the left. Lord Ferocitor had a perfectly proportioned building in a perfect position to hide him until he was required to charge out.

Turn 1
Ashley won the dice off and elected to go first.

Ashley pushed his Terminators 6" toward my lines and killed four Marines from Squad Abraxar in his shooting phase. The rest of his army stayed put, save for the empty Rhino, which he pushed down my right flank, toward Squad Profuge.

In my turn I drove Squad Infractis to the right, through the trees. My thinking was that they would be screened from the rest of the Dark Angel army by the large wood while they took on the Tactical squad, and then I could use them to summon the Furies to strike at the centre of Ashley's line.

Turn 2
By my second turn I had destroyed the Rhino and achieved close combat with Squad Infractis. With my Power Fist I knew I had the edge, but it might take a couple of turns to whittle down the 10 Marine squad.

I knew I would lose the firefight in the centre so I charged in with Ferocitor to tie up the Dark Angels for a turn or two. He took out three Terminators before the Commander slashed him apart with his lightning claw. The Dark Angels survivors marched forward to take on the rest of my Exigators.

Turn 3
On the third turn I got my Furies and the Obliterators. I summoned the Daemons in from Squad Infractis and they got in a charge against the Devastators. In a rolling melee, the Furies took the Marine shooters down below half strength before the nearby Tactical squad rescued them, but then the rest of Squad Infractis arrived to finished off both units.

My Obliterators beamed in right next to the Terminators and Commander (hit-tastic!). When the smoke cleared from their twin-linked plasma guns the Terminators were nowhere to be seen. That left the Commander looking down the barrel of the missile launcher from Squad Abraxar. Boom.

We didn't bother to tot up the scores as it was clear I'd won comfortably; the Obliterators would have moved to take one quarter, I had brought up Squad Profuge to take the Dark Angels starting quarter and Squad Imber (the Havocs) held the last scoring quarter.

One game, one win. So far, so good. To be honest I knew I should win the game as soon as I saw my opponent's army. Plasma cannons aren't as good as they once were with the new blast rules and 10 Marine squads are just too inflexible, especially in 1000 point games. Still, you can only beat what is in front of you, and when I failed to kill a single model in my first turn of shooting I began to get a little worried. Like my test games, the battle turned when my Furies and Obliterators showed up on turn 3.

My dice were really beginning to worry me after this game. Like my test games I lost the roll to pick table quarters, lost the first turn and my deep strikers were late arriving. Maybe it was because I was awarded competitor number 13? To be fair, though, placing the first unit on the table is a big help. It meant I could force Ashley to set up deep in his deployment zone and position my infiltrators nearer to his starting quarter.

21-08-2005, 15:04
Scott Waugh - Dark Eldar
Army - Archon with Shadowfield, Punisher Helm, 5 Incubi, 2 Warriors with Splinter cannons in Raider, 2 x 5 Warriors with 2 Splinter cannons in Raiders, 5 Jetbikes, 6 Hellions, Ravager

Scott won the dice off to chose table quarters, naturally, so he picked the one with lots of terrain.

We had classified the domed buildings as area 3 terrain (remember that, because it crops up again later in the game), so it meant he could hide his Raiders behind them. He had his Ravager out on my left, his three Raiders pointed toward the middle of my army and his Jetbikes on my right. His Hellions started in reserve and would deep strike in.

I used Squad Abraxar as a push-back unit once again, but they couldn't see the Dark Eldar army as they were hidden behind a large terrain piece in the centre of the board. Squad Krall and squad Infractis deployed centrally in a large rocky hill. This gave me some cover to shoot out of and a decent counter charge position. I fully expected the pointy ears to rush me in the centre, so I placed my other units in supporting positions. Squad Profuge went on the left, threatening the Ravager but also available to provide suppressing fire to the middle. I dropped Squad Imber on my extreme right, principally to face off the Jetbikes, but they could also cover the centre if required. Ferocitor started deep in my starting quarter. With his high movement, along with the Dark Eldar speed, I knew he would still contribute to the battle. My Obliterators were to teleport in later.

Turn 1
The Dark Eldar won first turn and, as I thought, rushed my lines. Fortunately for me Scott rolled appalling dice (and I rolled lucky cover saves) and I escaped with only two casualties to Squad Profuge. In a risky move, Scott skirted his Jetbikes round the central terrain to snipe at Squad Abraxar. He fluffed his rolls and they were now in clear view of my heavy bolter Havocs.

I blew the Dark Eldar Jetbikes out of the sky with Squad Imber and then stunned the Ravager with Squad Profuge. In the centre Squad Infractis broke cover and slaughtered the foremost Raider squad, while covering fire from Squad Krall popped their ride. I had pretty much won the game with this awesome first turn, I hoped, but I was still wary of the Archon. I have seen these Shadowfield equipped characters in action and know that they can be deadly if the dice don't come up 1's.

Turn 2
Squad Infractis paid for their sally forth; they were assaulted by the Archon and Incubi and reduced to a single model who failed his morale check and ran away. This was actually fortuitous for me as it left the Dark Eldar HQ sitting out in the open in front of all my guns. It was my turn to roll poorly, though, and the Archon and a couple of Incubi survived my shooting phase. I still managed to take down the Ravager with a lascannon using Squad Profuge.

Turn 3
Squad Abraxar received the charge from the Archon and bodyguard but a couple of Marines survived and the Dark Eldar were locked in combat. Both my Obliterators and Furies passed their reserve rolls this turn. I brought the Obliterators on in the Dark Eldar deployment zone, to shoot down the last Raider and claim the table quarter. The flaw in my plan was the heavy terrain. I scattered on top of a domed building, and my opponent declared I was automatically destroyed. Remember how we classified the terrain at the start of the game? Area 3. Not impassable. I pondered for a second and then decided to pull the Oblits. This was for a couple of reasons. First, was for sportsmanship - I didn't want to get into an argument. Second, I was winning comfortably anyway and I thought I could manage without them. I hoped I wouldn't regret my decision.

I summoned the Furies off Squad Krall, and even though they scattered wildly, they still made combat with the Archon. Ferocitor hit the Incubi and wiped them out, then the Furies forced five saves on the Archon. Scott rolled a crucial 1, and the Shadowfield went out - along with any flickering hope of a Dark Eldar comeback.

Turn 4
Predictably, the Archon was slaughtered by Ferocitor and the Furies moved out to capture the Dark Eldar deployment zone. Game over, pretty much, but there was one footnote.

In a final cruel twist of fate by the Dice Gods, Scott's Hellions finally arrived on turn 4, only to scatter right in front of my Havocs. They didn't kill a single Marine. You can probably imagine the carnage I caused in the following shooting phase.
Scott survived the game with a single Raider. I captured the three scoring quarters and picked up another massacre.

I know how dangerous Dark Eldar can be, but I also know they depend on a good first couple of turns. They either win big or lose big, depending on the early game, and Scott had appalling luck in the first turn. He gambled on a very aggressive start and it didn't pay off. Them's the breaks.

I was having a few bad dice rolls myself. I had lost all the rolls for table quarters and first turn, and I hadn't gotten any reserves before the third turn. With two massacres under my belt and the army playing well, I was praying for better dice in my third and final game. I would need them as I knew I'd be playing a tough army; they would also have scored two massacres and we would meet on the top table.

21-08-2005, 15:07
Eric Hoath - World Eaters
Army - Tooled up Lord on Juggernaught, 3x8 Khorne Berzerkers, Dreadnought with 2 Close Combat Weapons

Terrain and Deployment
This type of table was exactly what I was expecting in terms of terrain before I came to the tournament. It was dead flat, with only three stands of trees towards the edges of the board, and one small rocky outcrop in the centre. Eric won the dice off to choose table quarters and after a lot of deliberation chose the one with most cover, containing two forests. In my opinion this was a mistake, as he would have to leave the cover to attack my army and I would have totally clear lines of sight between all of my shooty units.

As my opponent won the choice of deployment I got to set up the first unit. Squad Abraxar stepped up to the plate again and started front and forward, to push back the Khorne deployment. The World Eaters all set up centrally, as close to my army as possible. There was one Berzerker squad to my right of the wood, and two to the left, including the Lord. The Dreadnought was in the forest itself. It was clear that Eric's gameplan was simply to rush into my lines and overwhelm me in combat.

I figured that the best way to win would be to spread out my units (ideally about 12" apart) so that even if the Berzerkers wiped out a unit, they would have to weather a round of shooting before initiating another assault. I ignored the infiltrate ability for Squad Imber and they began deep in my starting quarter, as did my Obliterators. With no indirect firers or heavy vehicles to worry about, I thought their extra firepower would be more useful from turn one. Squad Profuge sneaked into a wood on my right. Ferocitor, my Lord, began behind the rocks in the centre of the table. Squad Krall went on the left of my starting quarter with Squad Infractis infiltrating beyond them, behind a wood on the extreme left of the table. I planned to bring the Furies on from Squad Infractis to capture the enemy deployment zone if I was doing well, otherwise they'd have to help defend my starting quarter.

Turn 1
Eric won first turn, and his Berzerkers did their thing, raging toward Squad Abraxar. Predictably, the Exigators squad was torn apart by the frothing madmen. On the left, one Khorne unit was drawn off to Squad Infractis, as they were nearer. Excellent, I was already beginning to break up the enemy assault.

To the surprise of my opponent I spurned two assaults this turn. I dropped Squad Infractis back into the corner of the table, hopefully out of assault range from the Berzerkers, and I pulled back Ferocitor. I just wanted to get as much shooting in as possible before the inevitable assault. In the shooting phase I managed to whittle down the lead Berzerker squad which had advanced into the rocks, and the unit the Lord had joined. I forgot to shoot Squad Profuge, as they were hidden in the forest and I couldn't see them. Idiot!

Turn 2
Eric split his attack still further in turn two as he tried to threaten each of my squads.

The lead Berzerkers failed (passed?) the rage and rolled low difficult terrain tests to leave them stranded on the central rocks. The Dreadnought followed behind. One Berzerker squad got it's running shoes on and broke right to assault Squad Profuge. After two turns, and four assault phases, the Berzerkers finally cut down the Exigators for the cost of three Marines. The Lord and the Berzerkers he had joined split left and just failed to contact Squad Krall. Phew!

I shot pretty much everything I had at the Lord's squad and took them down to just one model. I even caused a lucky wound on the Lord.

Meanwhile, on the left flank the Berzerkers failed to rage and got tangled up in the forest. That left them a tempting target for Squad Infractis. I stepped up, dropped one with bolt pistol fire and then got stuck in.

It was a very even fight for several turns, with only a Marine or two falling in each round of combat. I really needed the Furies to show up and help swing the tide. They hadn't arrived on turn two, so they must show up in turn three, mustn't they?

My final assault was with Ferocitor. I charged him into the five Berzerkers on the rocks and took four of them down without taking a wound in return. Result!

Turn 3
This was a crucial turn for Eric as he was up against the ropes. His Dreadnought came up trumps for him and raged 12", right into the combat with Ferocitor. Now I was facing something like seven strength 10 attacks and four strength 8 attacks in my next assault phase. Ouch.

In the event, my five initiative allowed me to go first and I put all of my attacks onto the Dread. By this stage of the game our table was surrounded by onlookers and they waiting nervously for the result of my one penetrating hit. I got a four and destroyed the raging walker. Get in! The Aspiring champion caused two wounds with his power fist, but I was still more than happy with the outcome.

Squad Krall weren't quite so lucky. The Khorne Lord smashed into them on the back of his Juggernaught, and slaughtered them to a man.

Turn 4
With the fall of Squad Profuge, Eric had a virtually full squad of Berzerkers to sic on Ferocitor. My Lord went down under a flurry of chainaxe blows, although he managed to drag three Marines down with him. That left the Berzerkers out in the open in front of Squad Imber, and they were reduced to a single model.

The Khorne Lord took a lascannon shot to the face from the Obliterators, and that ended any lingering hope of a comeback for the Berzerker army. The Berzerkers pushed on into the table quarter on my right and claimed it for the Exigators.

My Furies had arrived on the left and that allowed me to finally overwhelm the Berzerkers on that flank. Squad Infractis claimed this left quarter and I went to move the Furies into my opponents starting quarter. I was stopped by my opponent, though, who said that the game had ended because his army had been wiped out.

I was absolutely stunned. I was sure the rules said nothing about the game ending automatically upon the destruction of a force and that proved to be the case. Still, Eric insisted, so we turned to the judges. They said the rules were unclear and we had to dice for it. Eric won, so I had officially scored a Decisive Victory, rather than a Victorious Slaughter. Unbelievable!

I have to say that this little episode at the end threatened to spoil what had been my favourite game of the tournament. Otherwise, Eric had been a good, solid opponent, with a decent knowledge of the rules which meant we could actually get on and play the game quickly. In the event I decided to just 'suck it up.' I had won all three of my games, which had been my target at the start, and I knew I was in with a good chance to win the whole tournament anyway.

I was really optimistic when I saw the table and opposing army for my final game. The lack of terrain meant I had a massive advantage as a mainly shooty army, and I have played against Khorne armies numerous times, so I knew their strengths and weaknesses. Eric played right into my hands with his choice of table quarter and splitting his army during the game, so it was all pretty straightforward. He had no long range fire support and no really quick units (like Flesh Hounds) so his army was pretty one dimensional.

21-08-2005, 15:08
Before the results were announced, I felt that this was my best showing in a tournament so far. I had achieved my objective of three wins out of three, picking up 85 out of a possible 90 battle points, I knew I'd do well in the painting scores, although I knew I wouldn't win it, and I thought my army selection scores would be pretty high, as I had one HQ, Elites, Fast Attack and Heavy Support choice and four Troops choices. I was playing on the giddy heights of the top table for my third game and I beat my nearest rival. The only worry was that those dropped 5 battle points would allow a player from the second or third tables to catch me up and overtake me with their 'soft' scores.

I won the Tournament. In the event, I was 10 points ahead of my nearest rivals in battle scores, I picked up the maximum 36 points in army selection and got a hefty 39 out of a possible 54 points for painting. That left me 15 points clear of second place. Sweet.

I duly went up on stage to collect my prizes. I received a Forgeworld wrecked Chimera terrain piece (really heavy), a 20 gift voucher (which I have put towards the start of a Witch Hunters army) and a framed certificate.

The rest of my buddies from the Newcastle store showed strongly, too. Gary finished in the top half for the third year running with his Slaanesh Chaos Marine army, Wayne won all of his games to take sixth with his Tau and Maurice stole second spot and (as predicted) the best painted army prize with his stunning Ultramarines.

The reasons I did so well in this tournament, compared to previous years, are many and varied.

First, was my choice of army. In 2003 I took a Radical Daemonhunters force, which was very fluffy but unlikely to win games. The list was too weak. In 2004 I took Guard. Their list was stronger, and I got two wins, but it had exploitable weaknesses, most notably close combat. This year I had Chaos Marines and their list is far stronger. It has no major flaws. I could compete with most armies in the shooting phase, I had quick, hard hitting assault elements and I had the durability of 3+ armour saves and re-rollable 10 leadership. Now I understand why so many people go for Marines.

The second reason was preparation. I thought about the mission carefully and played numerous practice games to test my ideas. The final list I took was radically different from my starting list. I began with an all-infiltrating, elite army but ended up with a hybrid, half-infiltrating force with more models and a drastically cheaper and weaker Lord. This was in contrast to my pal Gary who picked his army on a whim three weeks before the deadline and almost immediately regretted his decision. He still went on to win two out of three games, but he could have done better with a little tweaking.

One thing you can't win a tournament without is a bit of luck. I got this in my opponents armies, I reckon. I had never played Dark Angels in 4th edition but my opponent was fairly young and inexperienced so I took the game anyway. Next I played Dark Eldar, an army I have faced numerous times with Gary as their general. I know how dangerous they can be but I also know how fragile they are. And I knew not to get caught out by their speed. In my last game I faced the World Eaters. This is probably the army I have played the most number of games with over the years, as my long time foe, Gary, uses them as his main army. I am very familiar with their rules and know their weaknesses inside out.

The flip side of that good fortune was my abysmal 'pre-game' dice rolls. This began in my test games and didn't improve. I lost every roll to choose table quarters and lost every roll to determine first turn. Additionally, I never got a single reserve unit in the second turn of any of my games despite 50/50 odds. Ironically, losing the choice of table quarters turned out to be a good thing. That allowed me to deploy a unit first, and to push back the enemy deployment and give me more space on the table. I feel that the missions are one of the things that Games Workshop really got right with 4th edition, and little quirks like this help to even out those crucial early dice rolls.
All in all, though, it was a very enjoyable and memorable tournament for me. I must give a shout out to Gary Warriner for organising the tournament and putting up with lots of griping about the painting scores, and the rest of the Games Workshop staff for running around after us during the day.

Now then, when is the next Conflict tournament?