Friday, October 20, 2017

Running a Local Tournament - One Warcor Event at a Time

Recently I had the pleasure of running a small local tournament for the first time as a Warcor! Despite my placement and the event itself being nothing special, I was chatting to Pride of Rodina afterwards who said I should do a writeup on what it was like to organize such an event, and showcase any advice I might have for other people who are looking at organizing events of their own in the future.


For once, being no expert on the matter is the perfect position to be in, as most of us at some point in our tenure as a gamer find ourselves organizing (or helping to organize) amateur local events, and a writeup of the whole process might make an interesting bit of reading. So, while I’ll preface this by saying that I’m relatively new to organizing little tournaments, I think sharing my experiences as a Tournament Organizer (TO) might help some of you out there who are looking at doing something similar in the future.

I’ll divide this little writeup into different sections for consideration, which I’ll break down into Timing, Format, People, Setup, Playing, Judging, and Prizes.


Timing

Plan ahead, budget hours, be flexible. 

















Timing is everything with an event, especially when you live in a city like Las Vegas where everybody has enormously varied work schedules (some weekends, some nights, some changing week-to-week…). A good month’s notice (or even 2) makes it much easier to guarantee that people will be able to request a shift, not make plans or take time off if they need to in order to make it the event. It also lets you anticipate potential problems, such as getting enough room for your scheduled event at the local store, or moving the date if there is an unexpected clash or a big change in availability among your locals.

In terms of timing for the event itself, you’ll need to anticipate having 2 hours for each round (ideally with 15-30 minutes in between for breaks), an hour before for setup, an hour after for prizes/packing up, and of course time for a meal/lunch probably in there somewhere, especially for a 4+ round event. All in all, we started our 3-round event late at around 1pm and finished up by about 7.45, so that can give you a rough idea of how much time you need.

Of course, it helps if everybody is on the same page here, so everybody getting there on time and with the boards setup beforehand is a massive help. The more newer players you have in your meta, the more flexible you need to be with timing, as they need enough to be able to not just play, but also pack/unpack and of course ask questions as they go.

Format

Choose rounds, point limits, scenarios, extras, and house rules.


Usually this is the easiest part of the whole event, simply because it’s entirely down to you, the TO, to decide beforehand. While you can take in SOME input from the players (any narrative scenarios this is probably a good idea, along with unusual formats like Soldiers of Fortune), I would urge you to largely resolve this one yourself, lest you get swamped with input and spawn a big debate about what you are playing. If you DO want input, it’s better to list what you’re planning (e.g. “Supremacy for round 3, sound good?”) and then seek input, rather than ask open-ended questions (like “What shall we play for round 3?”).

Most of the time this is standard stuff – you’re usually playing 300 points, ITS scenarios, 3-4 rounds depending on your time, and then whatever house rules your meta is used to + any clarifications needed for specific terrain as needed. For example, my home board has a lot of stores and houses without internal stairs, so the house rule we have is “1 short skill to move up/down a floor, 1 long skill to go to any floor” (like an elevator). Once you’ve done one of these you can reuse the list of house rules and add to it as needed, so mercifully this only gets easier with each event you do!


- Working out my board layout at 2am the night before... haha (this was before the cars were all added as scatter). 


People

Experience, local meta, contact info, conduct

In contrast, this is one of the elements that you have almost no control over, and yet it’s incredibly important. For instance, are most of your players highly competitive and experienced, or totally new and might need a lot of help? Does everybody know each other and are familiar with how your meta handles local rules, or do you have people coming in from out of town who will need introducing and welcoming into your little community? Do you have everybody’s contact information to reach out to them as necessary? Will you have an even number of players, and if you do have an odd number on the day, will you randomize the byes and/or save one for yourself, so you can resolve matters as the TO? 


Long story short - You can obviously decide how many people to cap your event at, who to invite and so on, but it’s something else entirely to see who can actually go on the day and how everybody will get along. As with any social gathering, there’s no hard and fast “rules” for organizing a group event like this, but you will want to remind people to be polite, respectful and courteous, and work as a TO to ensure that people get along and can resolve disputes quickly. 

 
Setup

Space, boards, terrain, rotations

Setting up a good hour or so beforehand is a given, but your planning ahead really comes into play here in trying to make life easy for your players. Deciding which store you’re going to have the event at is a big part of this, as whether they’ll have enough tables for your players, terrain for them to play on, and enough space for everybody to move around in varies enormously depending on the size of the event.


The bigger issue of course is when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t really KNOW how many people are planning on attending, so you might want to think about a minimum/maximum headcount and ensure you have enough available space for either case scenario so that players can be comfortable accordingly. You don’t want people to be nudging elbows and squeezing past each other if you can avoid it, and if you do need multiple rooms/areas, you want to make sure people can communicate with each other/the TO as needed.

As part of this, once you have a rough idea of who is coming, you want to plan out your boards. Work out who is bringing mats and terrain, and ideally get them to think about their layouts in advance so that things like overpowered fire lanes or seriously unbalanced tables are less likely to occur. You can’t cover every eventuality – some boards will have not enough terrain, be too open, or have other balance issues, but planning can at least help mitigate this to some extent and cut down on possible complaints. You might also want to do a last-minute review of all the boards before the event from different angles, and suggest a few changes just in case something stands out to you as a potential problem.


Finally, work out which table is which in terms of numbers (table 1, table 2 etc.), and if players are rotating. Should you have more tables than players (e.g. last-minute cancellations), then it’s important to decide which aren’t getting used so that all of the terrain and variety is maximized. As part of this, it can really help your space situation in a cramped setting if you spread people out a bit more if you know tables aren’t being used, and otherwise work to supply spare “side tables” or even chairs so people have a place to put their stuff. Most important of all, you’re going to need space for your laptop (or whatever you’re using to run the OTM on) and any other equipment you need to do your job as TO.

Playing

Participation, breaks, lists, photos

This section really revolves around one central questionWill you also be playing in the event? If it’s a small event it’s entirely possible to play in your event (and perhaps recommended to keep the player numbers up!) but the bigger the event gets (or the newer the people), the more issues you’ll have to resolve and the more interruptions you can expect.

Of course, another key point here then is to consider taking a break in your own game every now and then to check on how other folks are doing. Sweep around the room and ask If anybody needs help, and of course encourage people to politely come and talk to you if they have any issues. This is also a great time to get some photos (if you want any), so don’t forget to bring that camera.


If you are playing in your own event, then you’ll also need to think about how you handle lists. To maintain the “surprise” of closed information, I like to inspect them at the end but at least have all participants show me their “ITS check mark” so I know they’re legal. For your own list you might want to opt for something straightforward and familiar to reduce your own personal stress because you don’t want to be juggling a complex build and models you don’t know or wasting time looking up a ton of stuff AND running the event.

Now if you aren’t playing in the event at least this won’t be much of an issue for you – just inspect the lists as normal, and be prepared for a more active role in…

Judging

Looking up rules, checking LOS/distances, courtesy, responsibility

It’s one of your main duties in running the event, and while in my experience most issues are more rules questions than actual debates about interpretation, you do have to be prepared to resolve disputes as they come up.

Where possible, I like to refer to the wiki/rulebook and then closed rule threads to resolve most questions about the rules, which makes having a device important to look things up quickly and show people the relevant section. Always provide the caveat though that if you’ve overlooked something that you’re happy to talk it through with people, but that they will need to show you relevant sections/rulings if it does come down to challenging your particular interpretation.



When it comes to more physical questions about the state of play (is X in range, can X see Y etc.), then it’s also worth following a few extra guidelines. Move as little as possible, and always ask the respective players if you do need to move something (with the caveats about not being liable here…), take a deep breath and move as slowly as is reasonable to avoid changing the state of play. Once the answer is found, ask both players to verify what you’ve found (yes that is in range). I also find a cellphone camera can be helpful in certain situations to show LOS, but space won’t always allow for this. If nobody can agree, they’ll either have to dice off or sadly, you might have to make a best judgement call.

Really the most important thing here is that everybody maintains courtesy and manners at all times, and take responsibility for their own game or any necessary rulings they wish to highlight. You’ll do the best you can to resolve things quickly, effectively and fairly, but you aren’t infallible and sometimes it’ll go wrong, and people will get upset. All you can do is be careful, considerate and remember that while on the one hand you’ll sometimes have to take charge and upset people, on the other hand you’ll sometimes have to apologize and admit that you were wrong. It’s just part of the job.


Awards

Prizes, painting, photos, packing

This is the fun part, and probably the most rewarding. The games are done, the scores have been added up, and you’re ready to give out prizes. Now before your event you probably want a rough idea on how many people are coming so you can plan ahead for prizes. Little events will probably just be the tournament box and maybe the odd blister or bit of terrain, but the more people you have playing, the more you might want to consider bigger boxes, unique trophies, gift certificates and more. If you are requesting prize support from other companies, remember to contact them well in advance and let them know what you’re planning and how many people can be expected for the event you’re running.

Once you’re giving out the prizes, lots of clapping and cheering is a given, and I always think it’s nice to do some photos as well (at least for the top places). If you’re doing a prize for painting (as I like to), it’s often good to have the players judge their favorite submissions during the break and issue a prize at the end for whoever had the best painted model/list etc.


 - Our first, second, and third place winners!

Last but not least is packing up. Don’t forget to do a last-minute sweep for anything that might have been left behind, and touch base with folks afterwards to thank them for coming! J

Conclusion

Well I may not be the most experienced event organizer out there, but hopefully some of these guidelines come in use someday for a few of you, and you’ll maybe read through this and be tempted to organize some tournaments of your own! Organizing an event like this can really be exhausting work, but it’s immensely rewarding both for yourself and your local community, and if everybody has a good time playing, that’s really what it’s all about!

Best of luck!    

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Arizona Armageddon - The Great Vegas Infinity 2017 Roadtrip

So as I promised to both my locals and the fans of POR alike, I wanted to do a writeup of our trip to Arizona Armageddon II… complete with many photos!


- Boom!

Being from the Vegas meta, a little weekend roadtrip seemed like exactly the kind of thing we all needed to kick off some gaming this fall, and what better than to head to a major national tournament here in the Southwest. 63 attendees made this one of the bigger infinity tournaments this year, so we were all very excited to be going down, duking it out with some of our rivals from the other states, and hopefully coming away with some sweet prizes.


- And speaking of prizes, look at that impressive collection!  

Due to reception being spotty and the drive being mostly desert, this is my only worthwhile shot of the road ahead, but 5 hours each way isn’t bad with a few breaks in between, and plenty of banter on the road.

As soon as we got there, we checked in at the store and began setting up the majestic lady that is the home board on table 4.


I’m also pretty impressed by how much stock these guys carry in terms of infinity products, and friggin envious as hell about how many tables and people they had gaming there. We have a small meta of only 10 of us, so a gaming store this large and this devoted to infinity for the weekend brings a small Slavic tear right to my eye J


 



After our long drive down, it was time for some drinks and dinner, with the three of us grabbing a quick bite at The Hub and trying to get some rest. Of course one drink became many…


… and here is a very tired looking Lazarus the next morning haha.


Still, nothing some good coffee and aspirin couldn’t fix, and with that, we made it to the store with plenty of time for them to announce the pairings. It would be one game before lunch, a nice juicy reveal (Hospitallers sculpts mmmm) and then rounds 2 and 3 after that.


By now the crowd was so huge I literally couldn’t fit everybody in a single shot – an impressive accomplishment for any infinity event.




I was playing Shock Army, which surprised many people who were perhaps expecting my familiar Vanilla Ariadna. The reasons for this were manifold, but mostly it came down to just trying something different,  and as my Pano are currently on the painting table, I at least got everybody up to a “painted state”, even if only a small handful of models were finished on time.


My lists were as follows:

Group 1
Group 1
Naga KHD
Tikbalang
Regular Sniper
Regular Sniper
Regular Lt
Regular FO
Regular
Regular Minelayer
Machinist + Palbot
Fugazi
Naga KHD
Bagh Sniper
Bagh HMG
Bagh HMG
Bagh Paramedic
Bagh N2
Regular Lt
Pathfinder
Trauma Doc
Machinist
Group 2
Group 2
Naga FO
Fugazi
Fugazi
Pathfinder
Tech Bee
Warcor 
Naga FO
Akali Hacker
Fugazi
Fugazi
Fugazi
Regular Minelayer

List 1 was designed for Capture and Control, Acquisition, and Power Pack. It has a durable + mobile data tracker (Tikbalang) who eats most of the orders, and then the rest of the list can provide plenty of orders and serious ARO power (2 Snipers, as many as 8 flash pulses…) and midfield scoring.

List 2 was designed for Highly Classified and Supplies. It has a good array of specialists, a flexible link, enough orders to get objectives done (important in those missions), active turn shooting, and valuable upfield scoring.

Or that’s the theory. Let’s see how it did!

Round 1 – Acquisition (Tohaa)

My first game was against Tohaa, and vs. a great guy who went on to win second for the whole event (congrats man!). Right away though, I looked at the table and noticed that the central building totally precluded using my TAG as a data tracker to sit on the central objective, and with that being worth a massive 5 points at the end of the game, I was left with the difficult choice of carrying on regardless and hoping to get a regular mook on the objective, or running with my other list.


In the end, I chose to take my Bagh Mari list, and was given turn order to go first. I setup the link just off to the left with good view of that side of the board but with some flexibility to reposition, the rest of my force off to the right, and a Naga on each side.

During the first turn, my sniper gets in a volley exchange with the Sukeul missile inside her 0 ranageband (<24”), needing 15s myself vs. her needing 7s thanks to ignoring her mimetism with MSV1 and having Mimetism of my own. One hit and a crit dealt her a wound (the Symbiomate and armor save eating the rest), and even though I won the second exchange, it was only enough to leave her unconscious with a G:servant right behind her). Damn.

While I thought about it for a minute, I moved up the Pathfinder up to see if I could at least sensor around and uncover a Clipsos (which I did, but sadly not close enough to whack with the Baghs). Then I came back to the Sukeul, and decided that if I could land my Akali next to her, he could climb up with an order and step on her neck unopposed. But first I had to clear out the sniper on the opposite side of the board. So I reposition the link and level the HMG at the Gao Rael….

First exchange, I strip the symbiomate. I figure he might guts to go prone and save himself, but instead he gets lucky in the second exchange and crits, and now I’m out of orders in pool 1. I try to move up the Naga in pool 2 (figuring I only need a couple), and despite trying to gun down the Gao Rael in my rifle band from cover (3x 12s vs. 2 dice on 9s) I can’t bring it down or even force it prone, and he even forces me to go Dogged with a decent roll. Not only did I lose the HMG and my Naga (who after going Dogged opted to shoot some Makauls in the open, but even they survived!), but now I have no way to finish off the Sukeul or get all of my Baghs to total cover if he brings her back. I brace for the worst.



His turn, and the Makauls run up, one dying from a mine and the other catching an ARO from a rifle (I believe?). Then the assistant brings back to Sukeul. I made a terrible mistake here – instead of shooting the assistant helper, I should have attempted to dodge with the link to spread them out more, but the issue was that only the snipers/HMG could even see it (not the others who were going to be suffering collateral here from guarding the short approaches). The Sukeul gets up, fires, and largely vapes the team (the HMG and Sniper surviving thanks to their own shots, but the others turning to dust). It was all downhill from here. His Clipsos takes one objective, and the Rasail gets into an exchange with the surviving Bagh sniper, both of us flailing rather ineffectually. He does eat my FO bot and the other Naga though, and passes turn.

I try to recover and finally finish off the Sukeul and the Clipsos I revealed, and I land my Akal on the right to grab the right objective and try to shoot the Gao Rael (no luck there). I’m pretty lost for options here with mostly supporting models left, so I try to kill the Rasail with the Sniper (also no luck there) and pass turn.

He moves up to take the center, pushing the Surda and Kerail into the central room. My Akali takes a shot and we both crit, so he survives and reaches the objective. My turn and my Akali kills the beast but can’t get a bead on the Datatracker Kerail on the objective, so I try to move up the Machinist to take him out. Again, no luck here, and my Sniper can’t force the Rasail away so I can’t move her onto the objective either to contest the middle. My Akali wips the right objective and sits on it, but knowing theres another Clipsos there, I know I can’t hold it, so it tries to stand in the open in the hops of gunning down the Kerail, fails, and dies to the sniper.

Loss – 0-8.

Well between a couple of mistakes and some rather vicious dice, I was not off to a good start. I’ll admit that part of it was definitely that I wasn’t prepared to have to take my other list for this mission, but c’est la vie. Time for lunch!






































- Mmmm Brisket… 

Round 2 – Power Pack (Vanilla Haqqislam)

What a table this was – giant desert mesas, scary (read: largely open) deployment zones that of course were already restricted thanks to Power Pack, and some serious height with wide open firelanes. My opponent won the rolloff and elected to choose deployment, so I thought immediately that with my very open table before me, it was time to give list #1 a chance to shine.


- Friggin sun ruining every shot of this game...

I stuck the Regular sniper firebase on the left, most of my other models on the right, and held back the Tik. My opponent deployed a few scattered cheerleaders around the backfield, a TR bot behind the wall, a Druze Spitfire hidden off to my left side, an Al Fasid HMG and Djan Sniper overwatching to the right, plenty of Ghazi on both sides… and a pair of impersonators.
Yikes.

My dice came back from the previous game though with an utter vengeance, and not only did my opponent fail both rolls with a pair of 20s, but the two of them scattered into really bad landing spots right in the open outside my deployment zone. Right away, Tikbalang spins up and kills Djabel outside my sniper nest, clambers onto a mesa, kills one right ghazi, the Djan sniper, does a wound to the Fasid, kills the Fiday over on the left (by leaning sideways off the side of the rock, Climbing Plus rocks…) and suppressing to defend that flank. Next, my pathfinder bot stepped on Djabel for an easy Extreme Prejudice. Finally, I grabbed the left side objective with the Naga KHD, killed his Halqa there, mined it and recamo’d.


It had been a brutal first turn, and things didn’t improve on my poor opponent’s turn either. Every single roll, no matter what, I always seemed to roll one higher than he did. The Ghazis on the left got picked off by the snipers, he buffed the TR bot and then it killed one sniper but couldn’t get to the other. The Tik killed the other Ghazi on the right, and his Fasid couldn’t outgun it while I was suppressing, so he hunkered down for the next turn by suppressing with the Druze.

My turn, and Tik finished off the Al Fasid, the Naga grabbed the right objective, and then Tik powered through the TR bot and the Druze. I knew he was close to retreat, so I marched the Tik over to his objective, camping it for the win. It turns out he was indeed in retreat, and that was that.

Win 10-0

So luck is an odd mistress. Failing both impersonation rolls was very unfortunate for my opponent (I perhaps would have used the impersonators in the midfield if I was going second?) but he had no option to deploy outside of my deployment if he wanted to go after the link as the bluffs were just too steep.

I was feeling a bit more confident now going into game 3 that maybe I could still place half decently after all?

Round 3 – Supplies (JSA)

In my experience with Supplies (assuming you build for it with 3 scoring infiltrators to grab the boxes turn 1), it can be very hard game to come back from if you don’t go first, and this game was no exception.

Thankfully, I won the rolloff this time, and that was exactly my choice. It was time for the Bagh list to earn some redemption. My turn one and the Bagh take centerfield opposite his Keisotsu link, with my infiltrators on either side, the Pathfinder bot near the middle, and Fugazi’s running delay tactics on overwatch.

Turn 1, and both Nagas grab the side objectives without incident, but the middle is proving more problematic with his missile launchers staring at it. Fortunately, while I can’t approach from my side of the board, there is a wall in front of it, so I go for a risky drop with my Akal and land nearby, planning to go prone, grab the box, and maybe make it at least some of the way home. All goes according to plan except for the Ninja KHD, who fries my poor Akal after he grabs the box and only makes it 4” closer to home.

Hmm. I know I’ll need all 3 to pull this off, so it’s time to make a calculated risk. My Bagh Sniper is unfortunately squared off against both Keisotsu Missiles, but I figured that if I can at least pop one, use the HMG to get the other, then the FO bot can come to the rescue. With them needing 10s (my Mimetism) on 2 dice each vs. my 15s with 3 total, I divide, and the plucky Bagh actually beats both to put them down. Awesome. The FO bot grabs the central box, legs it home, and I brace for impact with my Sniper, HMGs and flash pulses covering as many approaches as I can.



His turn, and Yojimbo motors up to an absolute torrent of fire from the Bagh Mari, tearing him up something fierce. The Karakuri then eat most of his eight orders marching all the way across the table, one getting stunned before taking out a Flash Pulse bot as they go, and eventually reaching the Bagh link. We get into a violent exchange on the last couple of orders, and one of my HMGs and the Sniper goes down.

My turn, and the Doc heals up the Sniper, and I focus my orders on the boarding shotgun Bagh to clear away those Karakuri. They’re pretty tough beasts, but eventually weight of dice and modifiers gets through and they’ve largely been pushed back. The rest of my orders go into pulling the boxes back even further, laying a mine over on the right, and using the FO bot to nab Telemetry on a dead Karakuri.



His turn and he’s pretty low on orders (~5 and 4 in each pool?) and still has got to get some serious aggression going to take back those boxes, so the Rui Shi comes storming down the table to deal some damage, taking out the Bagh Mari shotgun and the Sniper before positioning for the next turn. The Ninja then climbs down from her perch, surviving all manner of flash pulses and the mine and killing my other Bagh HMG. I have the boxes still, but my FO bot is right there and he’ll have the last turn, so I could well lose out on full points.

My turn, and the trauma doc stands up, blazing away at the Ninja and eventually taking her out thanks to lack of available cover. My last remaining Bagh Mari gets heroic, rounding the corner and getting into a spat with the Rui Shi. It’s a shotgun in my good range and his 0, but it sinks too many orders, so eventually I just rush to the open and finish the damn thing off at point blank range. 


Unfortunately, I don’t have enough to data scan his body with the Naga (I rolled, I would have passed) or reach his HVT, but it’s a solid victory all the same.

Win 9-0

Really first turn was very decisive here, and despite my opponent having a lot of mobility here, it’s always tricky to get the boxes back from a well-entrenched opponent. We both had a lot of laughs though with this one and he definitely had me sweating quite a bit through this game, so I was quite glad to have a break until tomorrow for rounds 4 and 5.

Dinner

Lance had a lot of money riding on a bet (which paid off handsomely, I might add!) so back to The Hub we went for dinner! This time easily half of the players joined us, making this a truly memorable night of drinks and banter!


Round 4 - Highly Classified (Vanilla Aleph)

The next day we were up and my back was killing me from an incredibly soft hotel mattress (and this meant fewer photos, sorry!), but with a solid chance of placing well, it was time to power through. Amusingly enough, my opponent this time was my round 4 opponent at the top table at LVO (Case), so let the grudge match begin!

We drew Data Scan, Espionage, Test Run and Innoculation, with me having Experimental Drug as my secondary and him having Extreme Prejudice (damn). I won the rolloff and opted for deployment, as his side would make short range attacking way too easy and that would be a problem for my list vs. Vanilla Aleph. 


- The view from his side of the table, and as you can see, approaching from the right would be way too easy for an Achilles/Asura rampage. 

He chose turn one, dropping your usual array of Posthumans, Dasyus and of course…Achilles! About the only unexpected choice was a single Naga Minelayer to keep his backfield secure.

Turn one and the Achilles rampage begins, taking a couple of orders to move up the table and gun down my left Fugazi in the process. The Posthuman 2 Hacker in the other pool appears, data scanning the Fugazi’s corpse and hiding by the building. 


Back to Achilles and he wheels around, eventually getting a bead on my Regular Minelayer, and then turning around the building to get extreme prejudice on the aforementioned Fugazi (sigh). Finally, Achilles ended his rampage pretty deep in my deployment zone, suppressing for defense. He was right by my repeater bot, but with no hacking AROs on my turn and no AHD on the board, my opponent wasn’t worried. Finally, the Posthuman 2 attempts to recamo, but my Naga KHD interrupts it and brings it down to NWI, leaving him injured.



Thankfully for me, it was Akali time! Eyeing up the table and noting the lack of overwatch, I dropped just outside of my deployment zone and thankfully didn’t have to worry about any hidden deployment AROs. The Akali scatters off to the right but lands nicely behind some boxes, and then Oblivion’s Achilles neatly. Absolute hero. 


In the main pool I wasn’t quite so lucky, and the Naga attempts to finish the Posthuman with some Redrum, only to waste 2 orders and get immobilized in turn. My Bagh Mari then march up, kill a Netrod with a Crit (lol), shoot Achilles (he survives both saves and sensibly ducks for total cover) and cross the board towards the Posthuman 2. I coordinate my Doc, FO bot, and Machinist upfield in the hopes of getting some classifieds next turn, and as my FO bot crosses close to his HVT, the Posthuman 2 I forgot about shotguns it, thankfully missing at long range! Whew. The Akali then proceeds to Espionage his HVT (yes!) and with a couple of orders left out of 4 to play with, I figure hey, I might as well, and immobilize Achilles for 2 turns just for good measure. Not too shabby.
Then I switch back to the Bagh Mari so I can deal with that Posthuman. I pour a couple of HMG bursts into the Posthuman 2 in the open with my 5 man Bagh Mari link but have no luck at all and the damn thing is still alive (Seriously?!). I reposition defensively in the midfield, with the Sniper covering my backfield from aggressors and largely avoiding LOS.

His turn and the Dasyus emerges on my right, killing my Akali behind the boxes but getting stunned by my flash pulse bot as she crosses into the open. Achilles is basically out of luck, so my opponent focuses on moving the rest of his forces upfield. The Dakini Paramedic over on the right runs after my Doc to try and hunt her down, but the doc survives to duck around the corner, and my sniper blows it apart (he was hoping for unconscious so he could Test Run back to life, but linked DA ammo is painful). The Posthuman 5 has a go at fighting my Bagh Mari Shotgun, but with both of us outside 16” and me actually having pretty decent odds, he gives up with that plan and leaves the Posthuman 4 HRL to erase my FO bot and cover the gap instead. My stuff is pretty well hidden, so not a lot happens on his turn.

My turn and I need some Classifieds. My Naga KHD AGAIN attempts to finish off the Posthuman as she walks away to get to his backfield for a Data Scan, and AGAIN gets immobilized, this time at the base of the ladder. My Bagh Mari HMG plans to try again to get rid of the Posthuman 2, but this time has to contend with the Posthuman 4 HRL on the other side, but I eventually force it back to total cover and finish off the Posthuman 2. Unfortunately this whole process takes too many orders, so I don’t have enough to try and get a REM killed and/or repaired for Test Run, and I can’t go for Data Scan either (inoculation being a non-starter for either of us). In the other pool, my Naga lays a mine for the return of the Dasyus and I pass turn.   

- No picture. Too much back pain!

His turn, and Achilles creeps around the corner with his only order, killing my Bagh Sniper watching my backfield. The Posthuman 4 creeps around the building to deal with the mine, and then watches the open lane so I can’t go for an easy test run to get back my Remote. His Dasyus kills my Fugazi, goes for my HVT + passes Espionage, and he finishes his turn by suppressing the Dasyus, the Naga Minelayer, and the Thorakitai for a last ditch defense. So he’s got 2/4 middle classifieds and his own secondary Classified. Hmm.  

My last turn and I’ve got to play a bit of catch-up to pull off some classifieds, but I’m confident I can do this. My Naga FO in the baby pool lays a mine for the Dasyus (if I can kill her, I have secure HVT), comes around the corner and combis her in the open, but she survives everything unscathed. Dammit.

So I attempt my secondary classified. My doctor attempts to heal the Sniper, but fails (even with my last command token for a reroll). Ugh.

Alright fine. Main classifieds. My Naga fails to data scan his Thorakitai after 5 rolls (!). Sigh. Now I don’t have enough orders to pull off Test Run by killing my own REM (or rushing up to heal the FO bot). But maybe I can tie?

Back to that Dasyus. The 4 man link of Bagh Mari round the corner and spray her, dealing no damage and the Posthuman 4 killing the HMG. The remaining Bagh HMG rounds the corner and sprays her… and he crits on a 6.

Loss 2-8

Well then. Not a lot I could say about this one. What I really should have done is lept my own REM off a crate for an easy Test Run, but even if I had remembered to do that, I’d have only given my opponent the same idea and he easily could have done the same instead of suppressing his backfield. Beyond some frustrating dice this was otherwise pretty textbook, and now a wonderful rivalry is born!

Round 5 – Capture and Protect (ISS)

Well now I’m fighting for top half in placings. It’s an interesting setup with this beautiful board, and once again I win the rolloff, choosing to go first with the Tik list.


My opponent has an incredibly elite ISS build (10 orders, 1 missing so I know that there’s a likely Ninja), but with a severe lack of long range weapons, he had a tough fight ahead of him. He strips the Tik pool of 2 orders and we’re away.

The Tikbalang stomps up the table, putting a burst into the Hsien Multi rifle leading the Haris (injuring him before he ducks for cover), and killing the CoC Pheasant who was unfortunately not as well protected as it first appeared. I knew the Lu Duan poking around the corner was likely fake (and was happy to risk the MK12 shot to find out), so I left that alone.

Unfortunately, the gap between the truck and the building to get to his flag was rather tight, so I decided to bring the Naga KHD through to nab it instead of wasting orders going around with the Tik. The Naga reaches the flag in camo state (he delayed ARO, I kept moving), and then spends a fresh order to pick it up and get back through the gap, getting killed by unopposed Bao troop fire in the meantime. I’m okay with this though, as now the Tik can grab the flag and at least make it part of the way home.

Now I have a bit of a choice to make, but I decide to go for the objective. I rush up with my Pathfinder bot and take the flag off Tik, before running all the way home (even converting my two irregular orders to make it way the hell away to safety). I know Tik has a solid chance of dying, but if he does I own the flag, my opponent is already down 2 orders, and my defense means he can’t kill Tik AND have a hope of going for the objective.



This proved to be a good move. The Hsien Haris kills my Warcor on overwatch, kills a Fugazi (orders I’m more than happy to lose) and then rounds the corner to blaze away at Tik with his last 6 orders. The multirifle is about 18” away though, and between that and my shooting back on 15s, and cover, the Tik only takes a wound. He tries again, and I know I’m done for sooner or later, so I shoot one of the Zhanying’s instead, killing it in the open and taking another wound. His ninja reveals and then he tries that instead, successfully bringing down the Tik, but not before the snipers frag her crossing the open gap. The Tik is dead but he’s still in a tough bind thanks to the snipers cutting off many good places to stand – does he leave the Hsien facing the Tik in case I opt to run the palbot up for repair, or facing the Naga on the right flank who will otherwise be able to shoot it in the back in the open?

He opts for the latter, and now the writing is on the wall. The palbot makes it to the Tik, I repair it twice for good measure, and then the Tik blows away the Hsien in the back (his Lt). I then stun the last Zhanying with my Tech Bee, and the Naga finishes it off. The Naga Telemetry’s one of the bodies, and then I pull the Tikbalang home to safety, suppressing in my deployment zone.


His turn, and he’s only got 6 orders while in Loss of Lt. The Lu Duan fires at the Tik, loses, and then the Sophotect repairs it. His Kanren on the left moves up to inch closer to my Deployment zone for a potential last turn dash, and the Bao troops in his backfield just reposition.

My turn, and Tik kills the Lu Duan again, lays some mines on the approach to my flag as he retreats back to my DZ, takes the flag back off my bot, and then all remaining orders go into a truly ludicrous defense – 3 mines, 2 snipers active, all the flash pulses, and suppressing with my Tikbalang, Pathfinder and Minelayer Regular. His last few models try to run up in the small hope of potentially critting the Tik, but they die to the gunfire and that’s it.



Win – 10-0

This one was pretty much set from the get go I think, as part of it was due to the fact that the board setup favored my longer ranged shooting, and part of it due to me having enough orders to both grab the flag turn 1 and successfully defend my own with AROs and mines.

The end result – 13th out of 63, which I don’t think was bad for a 3-2 W/L weekend!



- Awards Ceremony

Conclusion

With an awesome array of prizes, I chose some Mavericks to flesh out my US Ariadna and a couple of lovely tokens, plus there were a few leftover coupons which will no doubt go towards boosting our local store. 


All 3 of us had an amazing time, with my buddy Lance taking 19th (and winning the table raffle woo!) and our newer player Andy taking 41st, which is pretty kickass for a player who only started two months ago and playing his first tournament.


Thanks to everybody for having us here in Vegas, especially Tom Schadle and the others who organized this event. We look forward to seeing you all next year at LVO!

(Oh, and more QK content coming soon folks!)

- Lazarus0909    





       



Monday, August 28, 2017

The Qapu Khalqi Project - Part 1 (Overview and Odalisques)

Well with Gencon now behind us and having a moment to breathe as a result, I figured it was high time I got started in the first part of my article series, talking about my journey with Qapu Khalqi (QK) and all the juicy discoveries, tactical thoughts, and progress I’ll be making as I delve into the sectorial.

Now some of you may have gotten a hint of things to come when I mentioned my charity project for QK, and efforts on that front have been seriously productive. Thanks to a healthy amount of donations (and more welcome by the way), winnings, store credit and profits from a decent online trade, I’ve managed to secure myself a decent-sized QK army… all without spending a penny. Once we’ve hit about $250 worth (and we’re very close to that goal), I can make a decent-sized check out for the same amount to Spread the Word here in Nevada and support a local charity so we can all feel good about having done something for a good cause!

But that’s enough about the project itself, let’s talk about QK itself.

Overview

QK is an interesting beast. I’ve noticed that ever since the drop of Human Sphere N3 (HSN3), much of the chatter on them has really died down into the background. This is quite surprising for an army that once won Interplanetary (2014) and still make a decent showing in many tournaments.

In fact, in many ways this is definitely a testament to the “new shiny syndrome” that many gamers suffer from, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with the sectorial in any competitive sense, and yet perhaps due to the relative sparseness of recent releases for them, discussion is at an all-time low. A cursory glance at the Haqqislam forum shows most posts relating to QK dated back to 2014-2015, with a few sprinkled through last year and even fewer this. What’s going on?

Well it’s funny because I chatted to a few of the more prominent members of the community, where many of them (perhaps rightly or wrongly) believed that QK was nerfed with the changes in HSN3, and haven’t had cause to look back since.


It’s perhaps easy to see what they mean – Azra’ils lost linkability (which saddened many), Druze and KTS can’t take Hafza (which is annoying) and perhaps more fundamentally, Hafzas were limited to 2x per core link, preventing you from going overboard on cheap filler bodies. Combined with Haris becoming more widespread in other sectorials, some might be tempted to say that QK got a bit of a beating in HSN3.























Personally, I think the reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, once you drill down beneath the surface, I think QK actually gained from HSN3, which is quite an accomplishment considering it was considered a top-tier sectorial before. Take a look at all of these buffs:

- Sekban overhaul
- Druze overhaul (and scheduled to get ANOTHER overhaul in the fall)
- Odalisques got cheaper Haris
- Janissary Missile launcher cheaper
- Yuan Yuans bumped to PH 14 (important for grenades and combat jump if desired)
- Better Feuerbach on the Azra’il
- Better SMGs all round
- Better holo1/2 changes
- Better i-Kohl changes
- Spec Fire/Hacking won’t kick you from a link (good for a link heavy sect!)
- KHD exists
- Druze/Sekban Duo exists
- Leila exists
- Brigada Hacker
- Djanbazan Shock Marksman Rifle
- HRL Hafza
- Assault on Scarface (with a pts bump mind)

Oh, and the BIG one…

- Hafzas can join a Haris now… a definite gain over losing the ability to take more than 2 in a core, I say.

It’s quite an impressive list (of just the things I’ve noticed – add more in the comments if you find them!). **

**In many ways, I’d say the gains FAR outweigh the losses, particularly in the case of Azra’il/Druze/KTS which I’ll cover in their sections, but I don’t think those were much of a loss at all. We’ll get to that.

And yet, QK isn’t really getting nearly the love that it deserves. Well it’s time to put an end to that I think, and both this project and the article series I think will be a solid step in the right direction. Let’s start with one of my favorite pieces in QK, the outstanding Odalisques!


Profile

Odalisques are, IMO, some of the nicest older sculpts out there on the market, and as soon as I had a chance to look at some, I knew QK would be a faction I’d be playing one day. But aside from being gorgeous “models” (heh), they’re also an interesting and surprisingly nuanced profile that I think a lot of people fall flat on, and yet it’s one that I just can’t get enough of.


On the face of it, none of the stats on the Odalisques particularly jump out at you, and yet it’s the combination of skills and equipment that really makes them an outstanding choice once they hit the table. They’re tough (NWI + ARM 2 +SSL2 to cancel bad mods), cheap (<25 ppm for most of them, +Hafza), and quite frankly, up close Odalisques represent nothing less than close range obliteration thanks to their deadly guns and i-Kohl. The most apt analogy I’ve come to consider Odalisques under is that they are a “pocket battleship”, providing something with close to the killing power and durability of a HI on a cheap and unassuming LI frame. Nasty stuff.

But let’s break things down more specifically:


Skills

i-Kohl Level 3 – The main unique feature of the Odalisques, i-Kohl slaps your target with a fat -9 modifier so long as you meet two conditions – you have to reach them in B2B, and you have to be declaring Engage, Dodge or a CC Attack (with the former 2 cases being pretty nice bumps in HSN3). It’s a pretty fluffy rule and yet nobody really gets excited by it, largely because I’ve seen games where people are trying to do something silly like tie down Achilles or a Ninja and finding that the ladies get cut down all the same.

The uses for this skill are actually twofold. First, you can grab things like your usual line troops who tend to range from CC 11-15, and largely turn them into mewling kittens. This is a great tar pit situation, and being in melee means that folks are -6 to hit you (note, always choose SSL2 IMO, we’ll get to that) and might even kill their friends.


The second is to force difficult choices. If I move up to engage somebody and he chooses anything but dodge, I can blast him with the nanopulser and odds are decent that he’ll die (and hey, I might live with NWI assuming a normal single shot ARO/melee swing).


If he knows that and chooses to dodge instead, I can swing in melee combat and he’s now dodging on a -9 and probably looking for a 4-5 at best vs. your 15. In short, so long as you aren’t trying to melee superheroes, Odalisques rock at killing stuff in combat. Just remember in doesn't work on robots (anything with structure)... 

NWI – Aside from ammunition like shock, DA, linked ARO’s and so forth, Odalisques take a pair of hits to kill just like HI, which usually means that even if you flub a critical roll, the little lady can keep on going and kicking ass. This is an absolutely stellar ability on a 5-man link where “crits happen”, and if you’re feeling racy you can even move up one of those great Haqqislam doctors (17s mmm) and stitch them back together – without having to wait till the link breaks because they won’t be unconscious! Lovely. All in all, NWI keeps each lady going longer and thus keeps the link bonuses going longer, which only helps to up their offensive and defensive capabilities.

Where this really comes into its own is when you consider most AROs. Chain Rifles and nanopulsers that would be lethal to just about any other LI link can be shrugged off by the Odalisque, and most single shot AROs can’t kill you, so you can cross gaps if you don’t mind taking a hit and get to a valuable objective. Even in melee, with the odds in your favor, you’re annoyingly difficult to get rid of thanks to the combination with i-Kohl. I’ll give you an amusing example – when engaged with an Odalisque, an Asura will only deal a wound 10% of the time, which statistically means spending up to 20 (!!!) orders to deal two wounds and shrug one off. Have fun with that.

360 Visor/SSL2 – Yes you only get one, and yes, it’s a difficult choice. Each player has their preference, and conventional advice seems to dictate taking 360 visor in a core link (because they’d be getting SSL2 anyway from being a 4 man+ link) and otherwise take SSL2. Personally, I always take SSL2 which might surprise some of you, but here’s my reasoning:
·         Shit happens, links break or lose members. It’s not just enemy activity though – the amount of times where a dangerous enemy has come around the corner on their turn (particularly w a template) and I’ve broken one Odalisque out to dodge to engage while the rest dodge/shoot comes up a LOT.
·         If somebody tries to shoot you while melee, you still get to shoot! It gets me every time when I see the thought process of dealing with an Odalisque tying up something valuable – first they try and swing away, then the math syncs in and they switch to shooting the poor lady with something else. With SSL2 though, you can still dodge, which puts the odds back in your favor again vs. them dealing with the -6 to avoid hitting their buddy.
·         You can delay your ARO. A lot of people forget about this, but assuming the enemy moves into your ZOC (SSL1) or attack you (SSL2), you can delay your ARO until their second skill is declared. This is immensely valuable for something with a template weapon, because if dodge is not one of the skills declared, you can hose them down unopposed with the nanopulser, and if they do dodge then they aren’t shooting you, letting you shoot them with better odds on a F2F roll or even dodge yourself out of LOS. For those of you who are fans of Chasseurs, you know how great this is.
·         No surprise attack, no surprise shot (all good tools on your reactive turn, you’ll sense a theme here), and if you do get attacked from behind, you’re getting 360 essentially anyway.

Now there are some downsides – you can’t suppress with 360 vision, models can technically slip past you by moving into your back arc, and of course if the whole team is attacked from behind, only the person being attacked can react. Still, those gains above are pretty huge, and good placement can usually overcome the drawbacks associated with lacking 360 most of the time anyway.


Weapons

Odalisques essentially have 5 weapons to choose from, plus they all have nanopulsers for a nasty template surprise – good when the enemy doesn’t dodge, hosing down links, auto-hitting melee attackers as they approach and so on. We’ve basically covered a lot of the main uses for this weapon, but just remember it’s a big part of what makes Odalisques good up close because there are few ways to avoid it, its B2 so long as you have at least a 3-man link, and it forces difficult choices once you get stuck in there.

The Spitfire is usually a given for any Odalisque setup (single, Haris, or Core) as the high burst and longest ranged weapon, so I think you’re always taking at least one no matter what you do.

But by far the most interesting loadout for me is the SMG + Contender. Call it a “poor man’s linked multi-rifle” (back to our pocket battleship analogy again here), and the SMG part gives you warband wrecking (shock), armor cracking (AP) bursts of death (up to B4, BS 15 in a 5-girl link) while the Contender gives you a lethal rifle-range ARO (B1 DA, + link bonuses).

It’s also the cheapest of the loadouts, so once you start talking bigger teams, those savings are important. Most of the time, your spitfire and Hafza have your long-longer range bands covered, so the SMG + Contender is bumping up capabilities here.

Finally, if you are running alone or drop out of the link, this loadout is also an absolutely crazy suppressing fire platform. It can’t be surprised or simply shot in the back, it has NWI, it’s cheap, it’s ARM 5 in cover, it has a template weapon, it’s basically a multi-rifle in suppressing with both shock and AP ammo, it’s got a DA non-suppressing shot if need be, and it’s not a good idea to melee one. Not bad for 22 points!  

The Rifle + LSG is mandatory in a Haris (duh) as the provider of that bonus, but otherwise I don’t much rate it. While it is flexible in terms of range bands, your cheaper Hafza offer similar capabilities for far less, and it’s not usually doing much the rest of the link doesn’t do already as a result. The Boarding Shotgun is a little better – nobody is saying no to Shotgun weapons up close, and you can certainly bring down Armored foes (AP) or clustered enemies (impact template) with it, but again, I feel like the SMG + Contender + Nanopulser combinations are giving me plenty there already. But to each their own of course – if you like the weapon, it’s perfectly serviceable, and I can see a solid case being made for weapon flexibility here.

We’ll talk about that here when we come to…



The Link

Basically, most people naturally gravitate towards the Haris option here – normally a Spitfire, Haris, and Hafza FO, and call it a day. I don’t think it’s a bad approach per se, but I do feel like it misses out on the best loadout the Odalisques have to offer (the SMG + Contender) and might go some way towards explaining why people aren’t as crazy about the ladies as I am. You also lose out on that second Hafza (usually an HRL, again I’ll get there), which means giving up an important range band and a deadly ARO piece. Finally, that incredible 3-man link bonus is threatened with just a single casualty, drastically reducing your offensive and defensive capabilities.























Now the Haris is a given if you’re trying to run a core of something else (e.g. KTS or Djanbazans) and I don’t blame people for running it this way, but I’d urge more folks to give the Core a second look. This is how I build mine

Odalisque Spitfire
Odalisque SMG/Contender
Odalisque SMG/Contender
Hafza FO
Hafza HRL

Suddenly that’s a rather terrifying package of close range firepower, I’ve got a solid ranged weapon to march up the board with as team leader, and I still get to keep my valuable specialist and spitfire while arguably shedding the much less important rifle + LSG. Not bad. Where I do consider the Haris model actually is IN a core like this, running a combat group with something like:

Odalisque Spitfire
Odalisque SMG/Contender
Odalisque Haris
Hafza FO
Hafza FO
Hafza HRL
Sekban HRL
Sekban Doctor
Sekban Haris

It’s a pretty cool list template actually, because you can mix-and-match which list is the Haris or Core upon deployment according to your needs, and the spare Hafza FO lets you shore up one of the links if it breaks to help maintain full strength, or replace a member of the Haris if you want to leave a man behind and escort a specialist up the table. That’s the kind of flexibility you get with QK and is one of the main strengths of the sectorial – use it, love it!

Side note – that lone model Sekban/Odalisque looks very conspicuous standing by their lonesome and most people will think it’s a Hafza, so it’s pretty funny when it turns around to spray them with a real template!   


Hafza

Really these belong in their own article, but what I will do is discuss the use of Hafza here within the context of the link. Really these guys are serving three main purposes here – keeping the cost of the link down because they’re cheaper than the ladies, masking which model has the real Spitfire (which is good, because people want that gone!) and bringing capabilities to the link that they otherwise can’t get.






















With the latter, what we’re mainly concerned with are two primary profiles. The FO loadout let’s Odalisques escort a scoring model up the table, which is essential to most scenarios, and more important on Odalisques vs. any other link because they otherwise can’t score! Amusingly enough, you also gain a valuable flash pulse ARO, which is nice to have. Finally, the HRL loadout simply rocks in any 5-man team, but again Odalisques benefit more than most in QK because they otherwise simply lack long range weapons, so both Hafza I consider really important choices to have.

We’ll touch more upon Hafza in their own article, but given the importance of both types of models, I think you can see why I naturally gravitate towards having 2 of them…


Conclusion

As the first article in my series on QK, it’s not hard to see why I picked Odalisques to focus on. Most people tend to only run them as a Haris or pick other core links to focus on, and while the models are just stunning visually, they don’t get enough love. But with a crazy level of both flexibility and power, they’re a really interesting choice to drop on the table, and can leave even a great opponent in fits once they get close enough to really unleash hell and break some hearts.

That’s all for me this time folks, but I’ll be back with more QK thoughts soon!