BOLS article covering my Mechanicon reprinted here.

For those of you who do not read Bell of Lost Souls, I am copying the Mechanicon Review I posted up last week here. Enjoy!  You can find the original article with the comments HERE on BOLS.

Hey Folks, Jawaballs here!

Mechanicon was this past weekend. It is one of the biggest East coast tournaments, however tournament organizer Tony Spino and the boys take a slightly different approach to running it. Lets take a look.

The event itself was a very ambitious project. They planned a whole weekend of activities which included a kill team tournament, a "veteran's" tournament which took place on Friday, open gaming, board gaming like Talisman, and other tournaments throughout the weekend like Battle Fleet Gothic, Blood Bowl, and even Warmachine! There was a silent auction for a boat load of great loot, a bar right in the gaming room that was serving as long as we were playing, and most importantly the 1850 40k tournament. I may have missed some of the activities, but those were the highlights.

Having arrived there in the evening on Friday I did not get to take part in the vets tournament. This was pretty much a 3 game mini tournament that had about 10 guys playing.  Other than that, it was just like any other tournament with complete prize support, painting scores, best painted, sportsman etc. Just in case a 5 game GT was not enough, the die hards could arrive early and get in 3 more games!  Alex Fennel, a cool guy and member of the English ETC team won the tournament and scored some sweet Forgeworld loot.

Ted Nagel won Friday Night Fight Best Army 
and Worst Beatings "The Flagellant"

Last year, I managed to take third overall in the GT. I was in contention to win it all, but got a draw on the last game due to Corbulo falling a 3+ save on the last shot of the game.  My hopes for a successful result this year were low. I have not been having luck with my Blood Angels lately and did not expect that to change at Mechanicon.

I did do some thinking about my tactics though. The best I could come up with was that I was playing too aggressive.  My army is NOT an offensive Blood Angels army, contrary to the popular trend.  However I was playing them as such and getting wooped.  I was ramming my Land Raider down my opponent's throat, and wasting a squad, then losing it all.  So I decided the first thing I would do to adjust would be to play a primarily defensive game. I decided to keep my raider back and rely on my shooting to give me a quick advantage, and forcing my opponent to come to me.  Patience and target selection were key.  I would focus on target suppression first by glancing or killing stuff that could hit me at range, then kill the squishy transports and force his hand.  Other than that, I had few plans.  I would reserve my razor back with the heavy flamer for a late game boost, and occasionally reserve an ac/lc pred to come onto the table and snipe from side positions.

Here is my 1850 list

Librarian with STR 10 and Preferred enemy powers
Elite chaplain with melta pistol
Elite sang priest in termy armor w/ PW
RAS assault squad x4 in razor backs. Each has a PW. two have melta guns.
3 las/plas razors and one heavy flamer
Predator with auto cannon/las cannons spons x3
assault termies claws x4 hammer x1 in Land Raider Crusader with EA and melta gun

Libby, chap and priest rode in the raider with the termies

9 las cannons
3 auto cannons
2 melta guns
1 multi melta
1 assault cannon
3 twin linked plasma guns

Pictures of my army:
(WARNING) If you want to be surprised, look past these pics until you finish reading the article.

My army on it's display board. I included the Mechanicon
2009 3rd Best Overall trophy and Army Domination awards as well

Terminator assault squad with Sanguinary Priest in Terminator Armor.

6th Squad Sergeant, Elite Chaplain and HQ Librarian

Bring forth the Banners! (Hand Painted)

The signature Jawaballs touch. All of my razorbacks had
hand painted squad markings, company markings, numbers
and angel wing symbols.

The Mechanicon 2010 Best Overall Blood Angels
By: Jawaballs

As we were setting up I walked around the room and shot pics of the armies.  There were around 50 guys playing and weirdly, maybe 10 marine players including Wolves and Blood Angels.  Zero Tau, a couple Tyranids, couple Necrons, lots of Chaos, Daemons, and IG.  I think all races were represented except for Demonhunters and Tau.  The players were mostly heavy hitting veterans.  A large contingent of the seasoned vet "grey beards" from the big clubs in the PA and DC areas were there including DonMondo for example.  Also many familiar faces were there from every other major event I have been to like Ted Nagel, Alex Fennel, Brad Park and Matt Cassidy, most of whom were at the Hard Boys finals.  (Say what you want about Hard Boys but you don't get to the finals without having a good idea of how to beat face.)  The point here is that while there were a few guys in their first GT, most of the guys at this event were very good, hard core players. The armies were beautiful and the competition was no joke. This was no slouch event!  Gulp...

Some of the other armies:

Bill my newest 40k friend! Thanks for those DDO points. :)

The Storm Wardens Charity Army Project was on the scene
Go Jacob!

Brad "The Spoiler" Park

Rich my turn one opponent

Alex Fennel

Ted Nagel

Game One
I found myself vs a Dark Eldar army, and no he was not using the new codex. The deployment was DoW and I won the roll to go first. The mission was victory points.  He had 3 ravagers and 7 raiders full of spikey death. I deployed nothing and he deployed a single raider in the center of the table.

When I came onto the board turn one, I brought all of my boys into my back left corner.  I managed to draw a bead on his center raider, and popped it.  It would be all down hill for him from here.  On his turn, he came onto the table in his left corner just like I did.  He moved every thing 24" and braced for impact.

On the next turn I moved into position and opened fire.  I started with the forward raiders, hoping to create an area of burned out hulks and dead angry elves in the spots where the Ravagers who were bringing up the rear would have to land in order to open fire on me.  It worked.  My opponent failed nearly every cover save, and I killed 4 Raiders and a Ravager.  The carnage was so massive that he would have to turbo his Ravagers to avoid landing on dangerous terrain.

On his turn, as expected, he turbo boosted his surviving ships to try to get in range and shoot me up next turn. The ones that could reach opened fire, but failed to hurt the Land Raider.  The guys in the center of the table moved up and tried to blast the Raider but failed.

The next turn would end the game for all intents and purposes. I destroyed the rest of his ships leaving all of his Dark Eldar hiding in or around burning wreckage.  We played out the rest of the game for victory points, and I ended up not quite maxing out, and scored 18 out of 20 points.  My opponent Rich was very good humored in loss I must add. He had the new codex in his bag and as the game went on we talked about how things will change for him etc.  During the game no less than 5 people commented on how he can't wait to use the new book and I would imagine throughout the weekend he must have heard it infinity times.  All weekend he had a smile on his face in anticipation of brighter days to come!  He was a great guy and fun opponent.

My turn one entry.

The Dark Eldar await their fate...

Game Two
I ended up playing against Alex Fennel, again from ETC Team England.  He lives near me and we actually play tested our lists against each other.  (He beat me with his BA at my house and I beat him using his other list, a Chaos army, BA ended up being his tournament choice.) He is a smart and outstanding player.  I knew I had my work cut out for me here.  He was playing Blood Angels with two Land Raider redeemers, one god hammer Land Raider, Mephiston, 2 Assault Termy squads, an Assault Squad in the god hammer and an assault squad in a TL-las Razorback.  He won the vets tournament on Friday with the list, and almost won Battle for Salvation with it.  Double Gulp.

The deployment was table corners and mission was capture the flag.  Secondary objectives were kill the commander.  I have to say that the mission ruined what could have been a great game between two very different BA armies.  It became apparent when my reserves came in on turn 2, and were dead by the bottom of 2, (I reserved a Razorback to try to sneak in) that I was not going to get behind his Raiders to contest his base, and his Raiders were not going to make it through my defenses to get to mine. I immobilized the god hammer on my first shot and destroyed a redeemer shortly after, the one Mephiston was hiding behind.  So it became apparent that we were clearly going to be playing for a draw.  We made our pushes, but as expected stalled in the middle of the board.  In a show of sportsmanship we both committed our commanders giving each other a fair shot at killing them. We could have both denied the points by hiding them.  I assaulted Mephiston with my Librarian and an RAS, after shooting the crap out of him with las cannons and reducing him to almost dead.  He of course killed my libby and most of the squad, but my RAS sergeant struck the fatal blow and took him down!  The game ended a draw.

Game Three
I wound up playing a nurgle army. 3 Rhinos with 6 man Plaguemarine squads, 2 winged princes, a summoned demon, and 3 squads of 3 Oblits.  Nasty.  The deployment was spearhead again, and objectives were also table corners.  Unfortunately for me there was one of those large landing platform terrain pieces right in the middle of the table, creating him a perfect bastion from which he could hide and shoot.  I tried my best to blast him, but his Oblits made the difference.  He finally committed a demon prince to force my Termies out of their Raider, killing the Raider, then losing the prince in my ensuing assault. My consolidate roll was bad and my Termies were exposed and subsequently killed by Oblit plasma cannons.  I spent the rest of the game zooming around tanks and razors trying my best to contest the corners.  The closest I came was turn 5 where had the game ended I would have had a draw.  But the game went on and he finished me off, almost to a man.

This was a case where dice and terrain had a huge effect on the game.  Had we played on a different table that lacked a huge castle in the middle of the table, like the table I played on in game 1, it would have gone differently. But that is the way tournaments go. The variables are against guys marching their way to a final. There are just too many things that can go against an army.

In this case, I should have played more aggressively. I sat back and let his Oblits shoot. He made a lot of cover saves with them vs lascannons. I should have moved up all of my Razorbacks and the Raider, then assaulted everything. Sure I would have taken heavy losses, but I would have delivered more then my share.  Then I could have used the rest of my fire power to finish off the survivors.  I would take this lesson with me into day two.

Game Four
I was against my nemesis Brad Park, or as I named him, Brad the Spoiler.  Last year I played him in game two and he handed me my only loss, with NECRONS.  This year he had Tyranids, and was out to spoil my bid for a day two comback. I went 1-1-1 on day one, but knew from experience at Mechanicon that I was still in position to maybe get 3rd.  But to do so I had to kill my two opponents on day two.  We placed terrain as per the rules, and I deliberately put most of the terrain on the side Brad was setting up for himself.  I needed some luck and was going balls out.  I then won the right to go first with the dice, and took his side.  Brad the Spoiler looked up to the heavens for a sign, a message, a glimmer of hope... there would be none. Or would there?

So I deployed in all the great terrain on my new side of the table, and Brad was forced to cower around the 8x8" terrain feature, that was the only bit of cover he would find on his side of the table.  The mission was destroy ALL troops and HQ. He had lots of big shooty nids.  Two Tervigons, a Swarmy, two Carnifexs, two big shooty bugs with a str 10 assault two blast, 3 squads of shooty Warriors, some HQ IC, and a few squads of Gaunts.  So he had I think 5 troops on the table at deployment and was able to make four more during the game.  I had to kill them all.

As expected, his big shooty bugs went down first. I ate into them with lascannon fire and advanced my Land Raider.  After a couple of turns, lots of his big bugs were dead as were some of his Warriors and it was time to start working on his troops.  But the game was late...

I moved up my flamer and burned some bugs then assaulted what I could, and despite him spawning a lot of Gaunts, I managed to kill every last troops and all of his HQ... except for one single big bug, which was barely alive.  In fact, I managed to kill every thing on the table except for a couple of Warriors and the bug.  I scored nearly full victory points, yet only got a minor victory... 14 out of 20 points.  Brad the Spoiler had struck again.  A curse upon you and your pathetic bugs - Brad the Spoiler :)

So I went to game five.  Conversation at lunch with all the guys centered around what the leaders had to do to win, who they were going to play and what had to happen. Possible outcomes if the leaders got draws or losses were equationed out.  We figured out who the leaders would be playing based on points and who played who previously, had some rules arguments, contemplated existence and ate.  No one gave Jawaballs even a glimmer of a thought as a contender.  But I sat, biding my time...  and I worked on my hoping skills.  While every one knew the tournament rules, I was the only one at the lunch table who had a real idea of just how valuable painting, sportsmanship and the quiz were.  (They gave us a 10 question "open book" quiz. We were allowed to look up the answers, which I did and scored max.)  The current leader Nick slapped himself for not turning in his lamenting on how he hoped it would not take him out of the running...  I knew that last year, with a loss and a draw on my record, I came a 3+ save away from winning it all because of my soft scores.  I hoped that I still had a chance to place... at the very least.

Game Five
I played a Guard army with a Vendetta, Vanquisher, standard Russ, Demolisher, 4 Chimeras with vets, meltas, plasmas and auto cannons, an allied Inquisitor with retinue, and Grey Knight Termy squad.  The mission was 5 objectives, deployment was DOW.  Crap.  So much for hope.  Where were you now Obama???

Any way, the game began and I won first turn.  I came onto the table and hugged my edge.  He came on and hugged his.  On my next turn, I opened up with the las cannons, and he made EVERY cover save.  His Vendetta made no less than five, while the Vanquisher was penned twice and made cover saves with smoke.  At this time, I knew it was over.

On his shooting phase, he managed to some how cause a stunned or shaken to almost every vehicle on my side of the table.  I was doomed.

So thinking back to the lesson I had learned earlier, I realized that sitting back in this case was going to cause me to fail.  I had to move and get in his face.  So I moved every thing that was not stunned or could still shoot 18" and popped smoke.  His eyes got big when he suddenly had a wall of red right in his face... My Land Raider moved up and used machine spirit to melta gun his Vanquisher, and stunned it.  The squad disembarked and charged his Grey Knights and a vet squad.  He was not prepared for the vengeance of the Blood Angels, and lost all but two knights.  I did manage to kill his Vendetta with a lascannon shot.  That would turn the game around as he no longer had reliable long range tank killing punch.

From this point it flip flopped into my hands.  The rest of the game my Raider would keep the Vanquisher and a Russ stunned until my Terminators were finally able to kill them.  My Predators kept the other Russ stunned as well, and opened up the Chimeras for my troops to assault.  Rather than sitting back on my objectives and taking losses, I took the fight to him before he could get to any objectives at all.  By the end of the game, he was almost tabled, and I had a 20 out of 20 victory.  The ferocity with which I beat him back after such a devastating round of shooting was shocking - even to me!

My opponent was a pleasure to play against.  He was apologetic when it seemed he had me beaten, and good humored as I turned the game around. He was understanding that I had to go for blood and played like a true professional. I have to say that all five of my opponents were fantastic.  Mechanicon brought out the best in its participants.

Onward Towards Fate
So I finished day two with a 3-1-1 record and as I reported my results to the table I encountered a circle of guys looking at the other results and whispering. The top two guys got a draw, knocking each other out... the rest got minor wins or losses.  It was now that people saw the effects of having a well painted army.  I had 47 of 48 painting points.  The other guys were in the low 30s...  It was now that Jawaballs would get the chance to march into glory!  

When the final scores were figured, I stood atop the heap.  I had not only made the top three, I had won the whole damned thing.  It was not without controversy of course.  Some players felt they were matched up against the wrong guys causing them to have to play tougher opponents than they should have, some felt their paint scores were wrong, some felt their quiz scores were wrong.  Some of the gripes may have been valid, some were likely off base.  But in the end, there can be only one. And this day, it was ME!  I had won my first GT, and my third ticket to Vegas which I passed to the next guy in line.  (I got 2nd at The Conflict GT last Jan and default won for Nova Renaisance man I was second by .01 points when Danny Internets passed on the Vegas invite.)

In talking to Tony I was originally considering donating back any loot I would receive if I placed for one of the three painting awards.  I did place by the way, I got third best army which went to the next guy in line since I won best overall.  But when I saw the loot pile for best overall though, I decided to pluck the fruits of my labor.  I received a Battle Foam case, a Dark Eldar codex which I gave back since I already had one from GW preorder, two Dark Eldar Raiders, a box set of Incubi, and two Wychs kits. I also received a gift certificate to Secret Weapon for resin bases, an invite to the Nova Open Invitational along with a weekend badge, some little odds and ends, and finally the best prize of all, a complete Dremel drill set.  With my arthritic hands, menial tasks like pinning models can be torturous and I had been meaning to get that Dremel kit for years to help ease the pain.  I also won Army Domination for the second straight year, which is an award they give out to the best overall player for each army.  With the award came a set of Forge World Blood Angels Terminator shoulder pads which I gave to my friend Bill, whom I had met at the Battle for Salvation. He played orks at BFS but brought his new BA army to Mechanicon and I figured he would put them to good use.  Share and share alike!

I made the 3.5 hour drive home with an euphoric smile on my face and plotted my plans for next year every mile of the trip.  Do I go with Blood Angels again? Or do I play my new Dark Eldar army which got a huge boost from my winnings...  

Closing Thoughts
So ended Mechanicon 2010.  I have to say that Tony and the boys run a good event.  The hotel is nice. It is convenient, aside from a few construction and traffic issues. The gaming venue is great. There was a bar open in the hall any time there were players in there and they also were selling food and snacks all day.  The restaurant staff upstairs was friendly, if not particularly fast.  But it was the volume and variety of offerings that made Mechanicon stand out.  Surprisingly only two people entered the Warmachine tournament.  I did not get to see what else was going on in the room, but every time I passed by, there seemed to be plenty of dudes in there having fun with the other offerings.  There was a separate Golden Demon style painting competition called the Iron Ogre, which was a nice touch. I got 2nd best single 40k model with my Sanguinary priest, and 3rd best Vehicle with my Land Raider Crusader.  

The tables and terrain were impeccable. The best I have seen at any event I have played in.  This is where Mechanicon shines. Each table is hand made by Tony out of the finest materials and finished to top notch degree.  The surfaces are flat and gritty which keeps models from sliding around, and dice from landing cocked in cracks and on bits of flock. The terrain is a combination of actual GW pieces, perfectly painted, and hand made ones using cut up bits of toys like Millenium Falcons and Slave 1. Every piece of terrain also has predetermined rules laid out for them in the rules packet. (Crashed ships are dangerous terrain.) Nice touch. This is great for eliminating any sort of argument about what is what and guys trying to bully you into terrain rules at the start of the game that suit his army.  Tony was a constantly present fixture and always available for questions and asking about the well being of the participants.  The price tag may have scared away the more casual gamer, but when you look at the sheer volume of things to do if you want, it was a steal.  A lot of the events, with full prize support, went surprisingly unfilled.  Most prizes had three levels of loot, I was selected for 3rd best army for example before they realized their mistake, and the prize was about 80 bucks worth of Tyranid models. I for one bowed out of the kill team tournament and passed on the invite to play Talisman, which is my favorite board game.  Had I realized I could have arrived early on Friday and played in the 3 game tournament before the real tournament even started, I would have been all over it, and fat dumb and happy today.  Or should I say fatter, dumber and happier... 

The bottom line, Mechanicon has taken a place along with Adepticon, WargamesCon, and the Nova  as one of the top events in the country.  It is the true hobbiest tournament.  It rewards you for being a good sport, player and painter, giving you a chance to use all three skills to qualify for the overall win.  You can draw and even lose games, and still win it all. Power gamers using 3 color minimum drybrushed flavor of the month armies may not care much for Mechanicon, but frankly, that only makes the tournament better in my opinion.  The guys at Mechanicon truly care about the game, as evidenced by the outstanding sportsmanship scores, beautiful armies and great players.  The weekend truly catches and inspires the spirit of the hobby, from charity auctions to fantastic tournaments, and for that reason alone, will always remain as one of my destination events of the year.  My next tournament will probably be The Conflict at Toywiz in January, then Adepticon where Fritz and I will be hooking up with the BoLS guys as honorary members, and then on to Vegas baby!!

Be sure to check out MY BLOG. Where you can find updates on my painting, tactics, and other projects. More to come...


Alex Fennel (left) and Ted Nagel (right) chat with another
player after hours.

"Greybeard" Don Mondo schemes with
Mike from Showcase Comics and Games

The Fez adorned Mechanicon crew pours over 
a tight game of Talisman late night

Cheers to Mechanicon 2010
great stuff guys


Cannonfodder said...

Great read- congrats on the win. This may very well be my favourite article you ever did.

Necrotyr18 said...

Chris always a pleasure to play you. Here's to next year.

- Brad "The Spoiler" Park

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