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Monday, December 9, 2013

Off The Rails Chicagoland Tournament

Well, Sunday was another Dust Warfare Tournament at Draxtar Games in Bativia, IL. After the great time I had last time, and mentioning I'd make the trip again, I figured I'd hold my word. I was also determined to make a better showing this time. How'd it go? Let's find out...

As before, Draxtar Games is still a nice, clean store. Playing areas are superb, lighting is good. They also had a decent selection of Warfare units, and a nice deal on the stuff they got from Fantasy Flight's big Black Friday Sale. Since we got store credit for entering, and I had some from my last visit - I cashed in and bought a toy. But enough of that, lets get to the gaming!

My list: (same as last time)

Sturmgrenadier Platoon:
CS - Ilsa (Kommandotrupp)
1 - Heavy Flak Grenadiers
Cmd Sup- Snipers
Support - Wotan

Blutkruetz Platoon: w/ 2nd Gen Serum
CS - Strumpioniere
1 - Axis Zombies
2 - Battle Grenadiers
3 - Helige Tod Zombies - rat fighers
4 - Axis Zombies
Cmd Sup - Snipers
Support - Heinrich
Support - Heinrich       300AP

Game One : VS Jeff (Attrition, Off Target Shelling, Advancing Lines)

Jeff was the new player last time that took highest rank. His Axis list just pounded me before, and this game didn't appear as if it were going to be much different. He was rocking several identical units, making this game tricky. He had an Angela, 2 sniper units, a Heinrich and Wotan AR. What was different than my list was the upgraded Wotan, and rocking heavy troops with Lara.

As you can see the houses made great walls. Why is my army bunched up? To hide from snipers of course. His Angela was on the upper right from me. Guess what she could see? Nothing. On turn one, my Wotan utterly decimated his lone Heinrich which was straight in front of him. My 2nd sniper team killed his 2nd sniper team's spotter. Then the rest of my stuff advanced on the building. His lone sniper runs out of range on his turn. His Wotan pops a shot at one of my Heinrichs giving it 2 damage after cover and saves. 

You can see his Angela frustrated with her lack of targets.

On the Second Turn, Jeff takes initiative, with nothing to shoot at. Angela can see a bit of a unit and picks off a couple of suicide zombies. He moves his heavy flak up to get in range, and also another behind the center building. My forces march behind the center building still out of sight of the entire opposing force. My snipers advance and finish off his lone sniper. My Angela backs from her building allowing me to only reveal her to the heavy flaks in the open. She fires and kills 2, her other sniper buddy misses. Jeff decides those flak grenadiers should flee, but loses the last in the next turn.

 The other unit of flak grenadiers is behind that center building. My Strumpionere and Zombies on my right flank furiously advance. The command puts a few shots down suppressing them. The zombies head for the building . Jeff knows he cant take on the entire of my force with one unit, so pulls them back.

Here's where Johnny gets the game. Knowing I'm up in points, and knowing that exposing my Angela to his is a very risky gamble, and that Lara and her unit are essentially untouched, I start to retreat. My army is way faster as a whole, has great cover from the 2 buildings. He manages to destroy my other Heinrich after 3 turns of Wotan fire (it can be a pretty finicky vehicle. Even sustaining fire he was producing nothing for several turns). I make a straight run for my board edge, and Jeff knows this game is done for. My patience has proven successful in this round.

Final Score: JRock - 58AP, Jeff - 40AP
I must say, Jeff and I have a bond that few others have. He has the same eye problems that I have, which is kinda rare for guys of our age. Heck of a guy. I can't wait to get in another game with him as they're always tough! Great game Jeff!!!

Game Two: VS Brian (Decoy, Off Target Shelling, Advancing Lines)
FIRST AND FOREMOST - We totally screwed up the battle builder. I think our deployment was supposed to be Force Collision (24" bubbles), but we both deployed wrong, or we had a condition other than off target shelling. Either way - neither of us caught that and played this set. 

I had never played against Brian. He is a regular at Draxtar, and was at the last Dust Tournament, but was observing rather than playing. He is relatively new to the game which explained some of his frustrations with the game mechanics. I kinda felt bad knowing the rules well (ish) and him not. What that boiled down to was me making tactically advantageous choices in deployment and shot selection - which was granting me good cover, and denying him the same. I suppose it's the same for almost any newcomer to a tournament, where it seems everything goes in your opponent's favor. Nonetheless, Brian was a gentleman and stuck it out. 

So with the intro I just gave, you might think this was a one-sided battle. Nope. Like so many Allied players I know (I'm talking about you Bill!), Brian loves his Reapers. So 3 units of those, some Hammers with the obligatory Rhino (ugh), a Pounder, Wildfire, Boss, BBQ, Death dealers, and 2 Sniper teams. I told Brian this was a meaty list. He says he wants to field more Reapers. I said simply, "Don't be that guy."
So our crates were basically on each side of the center building. Brian deployed Rhino and the hammers early, which let me place both of my Sniper teams and Angela with a nice clear view. During my first order phase, Angie hits twice, both snipers as well leaving Rhino down to 1 wound and one hammer out. He orders the Pounder to fire on the Wotan giving it 2 damage and blinding it. My first activation gets me my mechanic to repair the blinded result, and the Wotan sustaining on the Pounder. For the game the two monsters fire on each other with minimal success. THIS, I might add was one of the issues Brian was disliking. My gargant of walker is perched in clear view on a hill. BUT, having his base completely within the boundaries of this hill grants him soft cover. And yes, I have to explain this. I agree, it really doesn't make much sense, but the rules are the rules. The T.O. had to reaffirm this ruling, (which I hate having to do honestly) but as it goes, that's why I deployed him there. Then, as in game one, I used the buildings to hide and rush my crate. I also used Angela and her sniper unit in my Activation Phase to wipe out a unit of Reapers. Angie was HOT all tournament. Once again, Brian thought a rule was a bit off. He had learned to play that areas of trees COMPLETELY block line of sight. That may have affected his decision to move them where he did - but ultimately, my snipers were deployed with a line of sight to his crate, so sooner or later they would have taken some fire. 

Brian going to 'POUND-TOWN' against my Wotan.

As the game progressed the center of the board became a cluster of figs swarming their crates. 

Knowing that he was going to outnumber me in units, I began using Heinrichs to suppress the units behind the building, and snipers to pick off more reapers. My one sniper team fell to crap rolls, unable to finish off one last reaper in 3 activations. However, after finally suppressing all the units behind the building, my zombies ran around and beat down the reaper. 

The game was taking a long time, and we were running short. Knowing the game would not end, I simply ordered as many units to the crate as possible. I informed Brian that our order phases would be the last things we would have time to do (with 3 minutes left in play) and advised him to bum rush his crate. He did which made me gasp a bit because I was afraid that advise handed him the game. As it turns out I sneaked off the win with 5 units to 4. Wow. Break points were low again, but I kept to the objective and was patient in my attacks. 

Despite the rules issues and couple of hiccups in the game, Brian is a hell of a guy. Super funny and a great hang. Once, he gets some of the little details down in the rules, this guy is gonna be a huge competitor. His list was solid, and his tactics were pretty sound for a newcomer. I'd like to think I was that good in my first few games - but we all know better. It's really a shame they don't have a bigger group up there, because their core players are awesome. Thanks Brian!!!

Game Three: VS Steve (Attrition, The Long March, None)
So coming off of two hard fought wins, I was soundly in the lead. And now I'm facing Steve. Since there were only four of us at the event, we just did a round robin pairing - pitching all of us against one another at some point. Steve was literally playing for his FIRST TIME at the tournament. He had watched Youtube videos and that was about it. So we really (The TO and us players) had to help him along while not giving him all the advice in the world. I was confident that my tactics would be superior, but his list was a nightmare.
LET THE ZOMBIE HORDE ADVANCE!!! 3 Suicide squads, 2 Braineaters, 1 standard Zombie unit, Markus and the Gorillas, 2 Heavy Flak units, Manfred, and a Strumpioniere. Good thing I've got that Wotan. Knowing he had UBER FAST units, and friggin Markus, I was hoping for long march and got it! I tried to keep the big terrain away from the mid of the table. Then set up my firing squads and ambushing units. 
Orders were pretty much nonexistent for the first turn. I Blitzkreiged Angela and the Snipers up. Then it was all about waiting for him to expose himself. After Angela wiped out a unit of Flak grenadiers, he got really cautious. This ended up costing him the game. A full out bum-rush of units I can't suppress would eventually overrun me. He kept to cover - which was good, but I just had way to good of a firing lane. 

Here come the Monkeys!

With some savvy reactions, Markus and the Apes just couldn't do what they wanted. 

Here, I managed to re-direct his force with Angela and the other sniper team. Since he had no long range support, I was never suppressed and could just basically move and shoot as I pleased. Eventually he makes his move with Markus and the Apes by just running as fast as he can toward me. I had pre-measured of course, and stayed outside of their 21" threat range. He knew sooner of later he'd have to cross the gap and did with Markus at 3 wounds. Then my snipers get Markus to his last wound, and my strumpionere unit (now within 6") sustains fire in my turn. There went the beasts. After that I just picked at a few units that were weaker, and tactically retreated units that were in danger. At the end of the game, my score was something like 253, his score...0.
That's correct, I didn't lose a single unit. Miniatures  yes, but units no. Tactically retreating isn't always the most noble or manly thing to do, but when points are awarded to wiping out units, I have to deny my opponent what I can.

Now about Steve. Let me also say that all of us, myself included were helping him with advice on how to play this game. Unfortunately for him, the deployment just killed him. Having to long range while crossing the length of the board and facing Angela is just tough. However, it appears Draxtar has a new player now, as he was very excited to run these minis he had bought. And for a guy who went 0-3, never played, and was at the mercy of 3 good players he had a great attitude. Cutting up with the rest of us, & making jokes. This is why I love Dust Warfare! It's a super easy and fun game to learn, hard to master, and has so far, I killer group of players. Hang in there Steve! We need more players like you! Thanks for the game buddy!!! 

The Crew. 
Brian, Jeff, Steve (in back), Carlton, and JRock.

My campaign ribbon with Victory pin, and my 1st place medal. 
I do want to give a shout out to Draxtar Games for hosting the event in their great store. 
And a very huge thanks to Carlton for putting together this event. His swag (ribbons, medals) is just fantastic. The effort he puts in for his events is truly appreciated. 
Carlton - I'm looking forward to meeting up again at Adepticon if not sooner.
Thanks Pal!

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