ATC 2018

“Dietzy, where have you been?!”. Yes, I know. It has been over a month. All I can say is… I’m sorry! After ATC, life decided to get really hectic! By hectic I mean that after ATC, I ended up with an upper respiratory infection on top of having to return to teaching my six-week Introduction to Philosophy course! Things are finally winding down and now (especially after being able to reflect on my experience for a couple of weeks) is as good a time as ever to talk about my time at ATC! One thing before I get started: I do not want to talk about what happened with Team Happy. One reason is because plenty of other blogs and podcasts have dedicated their time, effort, and energy to talking about it. Another reason is that, given that ATC was my first grand tournament, I don’t feel like I have the knowledge, experience, or authority to talk about what does or does not constitute cheating in a tournament setting. Given all the gossip and rumors that swirled around at ATC anyway, I just don’t think I should present an opinion if it isn’t fully informed. That being said, if you are interested in the official statement made by ATC regarding Team Happy, here is the link to ATC’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ATC40k/posts/1726053044108648.

Here is the list I ended up taking to ATC 2018:

Battalion Detachment [1038pts] [5 Command Points] [59 Power Level]

Chaos Daemons (Chaos Allegiance: Tzeentch)

Headquarters:

Daemon Prince of Chaos: Tzeentch (Malefic Talons, Wings)

The Changeling

Changecaster

Troops:

Horrors (28x Pink Horror)

Horrors (28x Pink Horror)

Horrors (10x pair of Brimstone Horrors)
Elites:

Exalted Flamer

Flamers (2x Pyrocaster)

Flamers (2x, Pyrocaster)

Battalion Detachment [956pts] [5CP] [51 Power Level]

Chaos Space Marines: Thousand Sons

Headquarters:

Ahriman (on Disc)

Daemon Prince of Chaos: Thousand Sons (Malefic Talons, Wings)

Daemon Prince of Chaos: Thousand Sons (Malefic Talons, Wings)

Troops:

Chaos Cultists (9x Cultists, Cultist Champion)

Chaos Cultists (9x Cultists, Cultist Champion)

Chaos Cultists (9x Cultists, Cultist Champion)

Tzaangors (29x Tzaangor with Tzaangor Blades, Twistbray, Brayhorn)

Elites:

Tzaangor Shaman (on Disc)

Obviously, this is different from the preliminary list I detailed in a previous blog post. Ultimately, I am glad that I went with this list after taking into consideration some suggestions and advice from both friends and acquaintances. Adding Ahriman was invaluable; his ability to cast three psychic powers and deny three psychic powers was a huge help in most of the matches I played. The Tzaangors definitely pose more of a threat when in a much larger unit, and the giant blobs of Pink Horrors are certainly more annoying in units of 20 or more with three shots per Horror!

I traveled to Chattanooga (East Ridge, really) with Team Crazy Frog, which consisted of myself, Mitch, Randy (our team captain), and Big Nate. Our fifth and final member, Sebastian, we actually didn’t meet until we arrived at the hotel the night before the tournament began. Originally, our friend Jeremy was going to join us at ATC, but unfortunately, he couldn’t make it. Thankfully, some of the bros from Brohammer pulled through and offered up Sebastian’s name. Without a whole lot of time to spare, Sebastian joined our team with his army of Orks! I am really glad it ended up working out with Sebastian—even though he is on the shy side, he plays like a well-oiled machine. It was pretty awesome to watch him play!

I’m not going to lie about how nervous I was, especially heading into the very first match. I was trying to remember and keep in mind all of the things I had learned the last six months. Our first match was against Gateway Gamers Alpha Squad. Gabe was my opponent and I am really glad he was given how relaxed and sweet he was! Funny enough, before the tournament even got underway, I walked by his army and complimented the paint job on it. Who knew he would end up being my first opponent? Gabe was running a Tyranid list, all Hive Fleet Kronos. This wasn’t great for me given that Hive Fleet Kronos makes it such that, if you fail a psychic power, you take a mortal wound if you are within 18” of the Warlord. Given that my army is psyker heavy, this resulted in me taking quite a few mortal wounds. What did work to my advantage was the Tzaangors coming in with the help of the Dark Matter Crystal on turn one and causing some chaos. I was also able to deepstrike one unit of Pink Horrors in Gabe’s backfield. What ended up giving me the hardest time were Gabe’s Flyrants. They wiped out a lot of my troops, for sure! I managed to whittle the wounds down on Gabe’s Flyrants and actually take one out with the Changeling at the very end of the match! I ended up losing, but only by a few points! I was happy that for my first match I was able to keep up with Gabe, who really seemed to know his army well and played his list with ease. For the first match of the tournament, it was a lot of fun!

 

Our second match was against Critical Strike. I am going to be honest, I didn’t find my opponent to be the friendliest or most approachable opponent. I say this because, upon telling him ATC was my first grand tournament, he responded almost with indignation, saying, “You picked a hell of a first tournament to come to.” Even then, at multiple times during the match, he went about correcting me and telling me what I ought to be doing in a way that wasn’t particularly tactful. For example, at a time when I should have been shooting overwatch and hitting on sixes, I forgot I was shooting overwatch. I had the GW Assault Dice app flat on the table for him to see the hits, and when I reported the amount of hits, his response was, “I have a really hard time believing you landed that many sixes.” Of course, I apologized profusely, realizing that I had forgotten I should have been firing overwatch, but it probably would have been better had he said something like, “Was that firing on overwatch?” or “Remember that you are firing overwatch!”. He made me feel like I was trying to be shifty, which I wasn’t. This match was probably the least fun I had at ATC. All I will say is that he ran a “Chaos Soup” list. What ended up being the death of me was that his Bloodletters were able to deepstrike and eliminate my backfield (comprised of Brimstone Horrors and Chaos Cultists). He was nice enough to tell me that my “allowing him” to deepstrike “was my biggest mistake,” but I genuinely didn’t anticipate he would be able to fit all of his Bloodletters in my backfield. He was able to do this by essentially putting them in a single file line. I ended up losing by a substantial point margin, but if there was one thing I was able to pick up from this match, it was to spread my units out a bit more to cover more ground and prevent deepstrike opportunities.

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That concluded the first (very long) day of ATC 2018. Actually, nearly every day of ATC was unnecessarily long and drawn out. Why? Because of Best Coast Pairings. Best Coast Pairings is an app for iOS and Android that allows a player to connect to competitive events (tabletop events, in this case). Using the app, you can search for, browse through, and register for various competitive events. What is relevant for ATC’s purposes is the ability for teams to see table assignments and pairings and view placings for the tournament. For some reason or another, the pairings and assignments were, at times, taking too long to load, loading improperly, or not loading at all. Other times, the points were added incorrectly for the teams. This made things a bit of a mess. Last year when I attended ATC, the organizers of the tournament were not using Best Coast Pairings, so I am not sure what needs to be fixed or changed for things to run smoothly like they did at ATC 2017, but please try to rectify this issue, ATC! Hear the cries and complaints of the people!

I woke up the second morning of the tournament determined to at least win one game! Unfortunately, the first match was really rough for me and completely shattered my spirit. In some sense, it was unfortunate that the match left me dismayed, because my opponent was absolutely great! He went by the name C.K. and played for Team Borderland Battle Brothers. He was incredibly funny, really entertaining, and didn’t make me feel bad for getting my ass kicked. Ultimately, I don’t think I should have been matched up against his list, despite being told I could “probably handle it.” His KV128 Stormsurges put out way too many shots that not even my 4+ Invulnerable Saves plus the Locus of Transmogrification granted by the Changeling could defend against. C.K.’s list had an immense amount of firepower between the Stormsurges and XV104 Riptide Battlesuit—the Tactical Drones only made the firepower that much more deadly. I should also note that playing C.K. was the first time I ever played against Tau, so I didn’t quite know what I was doing or what I needed to look out for. I just played to the best of my ability!

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When I thought things couldn’t get any worse after the first match, I ended up getting paired up against another Tau list! Fortunately for me, this Tau list was quite different from C.K.’s. For one, there were no Stormsurges (thank God). Really, the only major firepower on this list were a few Battlesuits (both Riptide and Y’vahra). My opponent’s name was Jason (from Team Barnyard Brawlers) and he was incredibly nice. He was kind, conversational, and laid back. To my surprise, this match was pretty much point for point. At the end of each round (and during our turns), we both were scoring a considerable amount of points. The biggest mistake I made was actually not listening to Jason. He warned me about the flamers on his XV109 Y’vahra Riptide and I didn’t listen…Because I am a tool bag. I figured it was worth the risk charging the Riptide with my Daemon Prince given that he would fire at one of them anyway, but I did end up getting toasted. That was probably my only major tactical mistake, but by the end of the match, I only lost by a couple of points. It was probably the best match I played as it was incredibly close the entire time!

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The third and final match on Saturday was, by far, the most entertaining. We were playing against Team PMT (Playing Mediocre at Tournaments). I should note that, at ATC this year, alcohol was permitted. The reason I bring this up is because Team PMT was completely smashed by the time we were matched up with them. It could have been possible that they were drunk before they played us, but all of them being hammered was pretty hilarious. I will admit, at first I didn’t know what to do about having a drunk opponent. Aside from being tired and feeling a little discouraged, I figured the round would be more taxing than anything. I was wrong! My opponent, Mike, was great! He was animated, funny, and seemed like all he wanted to do was genuinely have fun. That helped me ease out of the funk I was in. He was running a Sisters of Battle list complete with Celestine and Geminae. He was also running quite a bit of Heavy Support, which made me nervous as I didn’t have many units with high Armor Penetration. He had Basilisks, Leman Russ Battle Tanks, Rhinos. What really made Mike’s list tough for me were the Sisters of Silence, as they gave me a minus to my casting. Not only that, the minus would stack. If two units of Sisters were within 18” of me, then I was at a -2 for my casting. Again, as a psyker heavy army, that sucked. Eventually I was able to wipe them out, though, but they definitely gave me some trouble during turn two. Again, to my surprise, this match was incredibly close—I only lost by a few points. Mike was really encouraging as well and was pretty adamant that if we played another turn I would have won, but maybe he was just being generous! (Thanks for telling me about the poop knife, Mike).

The very last match of the tournament took place on Sunday and saw us matched up against Team Least Coast. I was paired up against Patrick, who was a super nice guy running a Drukhari (Eldar) list. I am going to keep this short and sweet: I got my ass handed to me. Let me tell you, I have absolutely no desire to ever play against Haemonculus, Grotesques, or Talos again! Each unit is so incredibly tough! Even with my Daemon Princes engaged in close combat, I didn’t stand much of a chance. Overall, this match was pretty much an Invulnerable Save fight. Patrick had Invulnerable Saves and I had Invulnerable Saves, and that is pretty much what our game consisted of. I think I probably should have focused more of my psychic powers on his Grotesques and whittled them down rather than getting stuck in close combat with them.

I didn’t go to ATC 2018 disillusioned; I didn’t think that my team would be coming in as underdogs and making it to the top. I figured that, at best, we would place somewhere in the low to middle of the road. We ended up placing 66th or something around there out of 74 or 75 teams. What was important to me was the experience as well as having fun. All in all, I think I have identified the weaknesses of my army and I have already started making some changes. I need range and I need firepower, for sure. After viewing some of the lists from ATC and talking with competitors, I have seen the value of running a “Chaos Soup” list, but I have also realized and uncovered strategies regarding Tzeentch that I didn’t know about prior to the tournament. As far as improving is concerned, I think I just need to keep playing, practicing, and learning!

Going to ATC would not have been possible without the support, help, and patience of a number of people. First, I need to thank Mitch. I don’t think I would’ve made the jump to 40K without his encouragement, love, and support. It is amazing to find that person who makes you feel so comfortable in your own nerdy skin; he is my dweeby partner in crime. To Team Crazy Frog, who supported me and accepted me as the new and inexperienced player on the team and made each moment of the tournament one to remember. I would be remiss to not thank the guys of Team Huckleberry. I have had the privilege of knowing each member of Team Huckleberry for a couple of years now, but since I picked up 40K, each one of them has dedicated their time and energy to helping me learn the game, tailor my list, and quite frankly, they each have tolerated my shenanigans. Thank you to Ted, Dan, John, and Aaron. Also, a huge thanks to Charles, who unfortunately was not able to participate at ATC, but helped me immensely in figuring out the strengths of Tzeentch and Thousand Sons and how to run them effectively. And lastly, to the bros of Brohammer who I have interacted with and elicited advice and help from: Daniel S., William T., John L., Cass, Aurelio, Shane. You guys are seriously awesome bros. It really took a village to help me prepare for ATC, and I still have so much to learn. Despite not winning a match at ATC, I definitely want to continue playing 40K. I really have come to love the hobby, so much so that I have already purchased some Slaanesh stuff!

Next up is Crucible…

As always, thank you for reading and thank you for hanging tight! I appreciate it! Until next time!

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