Once more unto the breach, it’s Dernicus with another After Action Report! This past Veteran’s Day weekend I ventured to the concrete jungles of Atlanta, GA to battle it out at WarzoneATL2017. I had the fortune of attending their inaugural GT back in 2015, and this year was just as exciting! Below is my experience, but feel free to check out our Faction Breakdown and Best Armies of WarzoneATL articles for a wider view of event as well.
WarzoneATL, What are we playing again?
First off, the basics of the event are as follows: The event consisted of 5 rounds, played over 2 days. Armies were composed of a maximum of 3 detachments, must have been Battleforged, with no restrictions on Forgeworld or any units currently released. With 2000 points to spend, armies consisted of all manner of savagery. Players brought armies that were at least 3 colors minimum, though many went well beyond as we’ll see.
My list this year consisted of a firebase of <Mars> Adeptus Mechanicus led by Belisarius Cawl, complimented by Cadian Mortar teams, Valhallan Conscripts, and Tempestus Command Squads. I oversaturated my side with high damage tanks, screened by “fearless” guard and supported by waves of Mortar shells. While the army was not overly mobile, it could focus large threats and “chaff” units alike.
Over 100 players made the journey. Many of them were returning attendees that received early access to ticket sales. They came from as far afield as Toronto Canada, Las Vegas, and Michigan. My own travels took a fair more than the projected 6 hours to drive thanks to more than a few accidents and construction spots along I-85. Despite the trials, many combatants arrived Friday either to attend the many events (teams tournament, Apocalypse game, etc), or to just mingle with players over drinks. Jon Caspian, of Jon Caspian Media, was on hand as the event’s official photographer, offering his services. To anyone (like myself) looking to immortalize their armies in super high resolution, or even a short video he was the man to see. Check out this amazing video of Thomas Byrd’s Stormbird done by Jon at WarzoneATL.
Day 1, The Masses Descend on WarzoneATL
Waking bright and early, we arrived ready to do battle! The first pairings brought more than a few cheers, both of triumph and lament as old rivalries flared. My name showed next to Clint Hoffman at table 26. Clint brought along a nasty Alaitoc Eldar list bristling with auto-hitting weapons such as Shadow Spectres, Fire Prisms, Hemlocks, and Dark Reapers. The mission included Power Level % along with end of game objectives. Uniquely, objectives were worth more the deeper into your opponent’s side of the table. Clint went first as my army has so many drops and couldn’t outroll his +1.
When he did so, and with the limited LoS blocking terrain at my disposal, Clint wreaked havoc on my forces. Immediately the Leman Russ was destroyed, it’s explosion caused Mortal wounds abound to further salt the wound. Furthermore his Ranger’s sniped out my Valhallan Company Commander with Petrov’s 45, leaving the conscripts as no longer pseudo-fearless. Even with the majority of my forces alive, I was unable to recover from the opening salvo. We ended on turn 4 as a combination of shadowy Eldar surrounded and brought Cawl down for the final blow.
Final score, 2-33 (yay for splitting First Blood). This certainly wasn’t how I’d hoped to start the event, but I could work with this. Early losses can serve to lessen stress in later games as one has already taken the hit instead of waiting for the other foot to drop. Furthermore, at WarzoneATL 2017 the illustrious Twitch(Mike Twitchell) introduced a sort of scavenger hunt: The Warzone Atlanta Experience. A series of challenges to encourage players to get the fullest out of their visit. It included sharing drinks with each opponent, completing bounties, winning games, and even losing them. More on that later.
Round 2, WarzoneATL heard you like Eldar, how about another flavor?
Next up saw the sons of Mars facing off against a fleet of sleek, sadistic, space pirates: Dark Eldar! We faced off in a variant of Relic, with 3 mobile objectives, scored at the end of the game, each worth more points the closer to the opponents board you were. Also, there was a sort of Marked for Death mechanic, where 3 units were chosen and awarded points based on how many lived or died. My opponent’s list consisted mostly of 3 Ravagers and 5 Raiders (4 full of Warriors, the 5th chock full of Incubi and his 2 combat characters).
He marked my 3 Dunecrawlers as his targets, while I responded by marking his 3 Ravagers. This made sense as we each would seek to tear down the other’s heavy weapons while our infantry made for the Relic Objectives. We deployed in a Spearhead fashion and the Dark Eldar were able to secure 1st turn. Surging into range, the sadistic Xenos unleashed their fury into my Dunecrawlers, managing to bring one down quickly. It’s death spread mortal wounds to the remaining Mechancius units but little else happened. The response of Mars was to destroy one Ravager, the Raider with his assault unit/Warlord and damage 3 of the other spikey boats! Assassins arrived to strike out for the side Relic’s (the center being swarmed by his skimmers) while the main force engaged.
My Tempestus Command squads made short work of his vehicles and the unit that fell from it. The attack left his characters exposed to my army’s full fury. In subsequent turns saw a unit of his die every turn while mine remained neigh indestructible. Be it from Bionics, Immeritus Force Fields, and the ministrations of Cawl himself I did not lose another vehicle. In the end, he was only able to kill a handful of infantry, while his army was torn asunder.
Victory was mine, 33-7. A better outcome there couldn’t be as the score this game helped recover from Round 1. Game 3 would solidify my placements in Day 2, so I began to prepare.
Round 3, Wait, didn’t we do this already?
The last round of the day I once again faced with a force of hard to hit space pixies: Alaitoc Eldar! This time around it was a full Brigade with Swooping Hawks, Scorpions, Rangers, and a Nightwing from Forgeworld. For this mission we struggled over progressive objectives that only scored once for each player. Once more I played on Dawn of War deployment, and went second.
His initial volley was not nearly as devastating due to some godly saving throws on my part, but I couldn’t bank on that luck as my only way out. I needed to go for the throat early as the Eldar constantly showed their elusive nature. Again I sent in the Tempestus hit-squad to strike at the heart of his firepower: his Fireprisms. It worked out that a piece of terrain was available to provide cover in return. That same cover was center board, which gave me striking range to 2 objectives. A sneaky (and lucky) ambush of one Assassin saw a chance to strike his characters too.
Because of those early moves the game was very touch and go. He would strike at my forward units, I would return with focused fire. Back and forth we went, with neither side making much real headway. The game ground on for 5 rounds and ended with the majority of both forces destroyed. The final score was an astonishing 15-15. A tie, of all things! Now let that sink in, as I have never tied in my 40k career and have only witnessed a bare handful firsthand. What a game though, which left us both breathless and exhausted.
Day 1 Thoughts
I closed Day 1 with a record of 1-1-1 and a total of 50 out of a possible 99 points. While I could have done better (in the 3rd game I missed a chance to strike down his Warlord) I still felt proud of my showing. Eldar isn’t easy for many armies to deal with and I faced 3 games of them. A median possible score also meant I would face similar win/loss armies, but it also meant I might avoid some of the nastier lists. Even so, my list was partially designed with facing a Primarch in mind (our local meta and the WarzoneATL meta as well showing plenty).
That night was Armies on Parade, where players could set up their armies with the display boards and a popular vote factored into Best Painted. I will say that an event like WarzoneATL does an excellent job encouraging all aspects of the hobby beyond the game itself. The painting/modeling skill all focused into that space, without the trappings of dice rolls and tensions of combat was something to behold.
Day 2, The Reckoning at WarzoneATL
Waking bright and early Sunday morning I trudged to the Doubletree, armed with conviction (and a Monster). With only 2 games to go, the pressure was on to perform.
While not true brackets, everyone was broken down into “groups” based on Day 1 standings. A small aside on that point: this was a bit confusing to us here at Field of Fire Gaming. In the first year of WarzoneATL (2015) I was able to attend and it had a bracketing set up Day 2, as do many GTs. In this way players are fighting for championship of their bracket (usually 8 players in each). But this was not possible as 2 games are not enough to determine a winner from 8 players. I believe due to the 5 rounds instead of 6 they chose to group for similar prizes but did not pair from those groups. Without that line of play, I’m not clear as to why Groups were played as they were (we’ll get into that in a minute).
Round 4, A Gentlemen’s Consequence
I squared off versus an extremely well painted Spacewolves army for this round. His list consisted of Bjorn, Logan, Quad-Mortars, a Whirlwind Sicarius, a Thunderbolt(Guard), and a sorte of Thuderwolves and Bloodclaws. This list felt like it might be trouble, but I figured if I could take out a few of the hard hitting guns I’d be set. The game was plain Relic along with a Killpoints variant. We deployed on Hammer and Anvil and yet again I lost the first turn roll.
One of the aspects of The Warzone Experience I’d mentioned earlier was to achieve a Bounty from the event’s Bounty Board. They ranged from defeating a particular opponent to pulling off a crazy play like killing a psyker with a Psykout Grenade from a Cullexus. By this point, I really only had the chance to achieve a few, and it was the Gentleman’s Award that was both savior and downfall for me. This Bounty, created by the infamous Horton, required a player to use the Command Reroll stratagem to reroll a successful Seize the Initiative roll. That’s right, spend a command point to reroll a 6, hoping for another 6. In this game, I rolled that 6 to successfully Seize… only to reroll it away for the Bounty. Now I DID get a cool purity seal and the checkmark on my Experience sheet, but going 2nd would spell my doom.
The sheer weight of ordinance that was hurled my way was staggering. In his first turn, my opponent removed the Leman Russ, a Ballistarii, and half of a Dunecrawler. Subsequent turns fared just as poorly for my forces and it was quickly a route. A Tempestor Prime hid out of line of sight in the corner at the end of the game. That model surviving kept me from being tabled. I killed exactly zero of his units, while he killed all but that one model. The loss was a harsh awakening, the score ended 2-33.
Game 5, All or Nothing
So, with my second loss I had to finish strong in this last game. Deathwatch was the last army to feel the fury of my guns. A good guy, and a beautiful army consisting of a pair of Xiphon fighters, a Corvus Blackstar, and several Kill-teams. The list was interesting, as it certainly had a solid punch, but a relatively low model count and short range. The mission was a combination of 6 progressive objectives and Kill Points. Keeping to form, I went second in this game as well.
With a single-minded focus of a Space Marine, he was able to destroy one of my Dunecralwers. He also moved to secure or contest 3 of the 6 objectives in preparation of turn 2. In retaliation I destroyed his Warlord’s transport with Scions as well as threatened 4 of the objectives. Against the relentless guns of Mars and it’s attending Guardsmen he could not hold. My range was longer than his and I simply had more guns. It was a tight game though by the end. At one point, all of his planes were flying directly over my forces. Across the board a Chaplin was locked in mortal combat with Cawl in that same instant. That said, he could not suffer the losses as I could and the final score was 25-15.
The WarzoneATL results
My final record was 2-2-1; with a combined Battle Points of 77 out of a possible 165. This put me in 45th out of 110 in Overall, 73rd in Battle Points, 29th in Sportsmanship. I did face one repeat faction (Alaitoc Eldar), and one opponent I’d met before (the Dark Eldar general). However, I can safely say I enjoyed every single game that weekend. Regardless of the outcome, every opponent was there to play the game and enjoyed the hobby as much as I. Don’t get me wrong, we were all out to see the other ground into the dust, but we all had fun in the process.
This event did include a full service table-side bar service which certainly helped the tension, but it was more than that. The event was designed to reward every aspect of the game equally. Raw Battle prowess, Painting/Hobbying, and Sportsmanship (determined by player rankings each day) all weighed equally in the overall score. Each category had it’s own ranking and awards as well. I didn’t win my Group (in fact, my last 2 opponents each won their respective Groups…). I did place in the Social Exposure award (this year being the first for the award, utilizing the #WarzoneATL2017).
Congratulations to Andrew Whittaker for his victory as Best Overall, Luke Slothower for Best Painted, and all the other champions. To the General Staff and all the sponsors I can’t thank you enough for making this yet another great event. Looking forward to next year for sure. Thank you all for sticking with my ramblings and for supporting Field of Fire Gaming.