Just got done with the first day of the Seattle Heart of Fire Tournament. I knew going in that this event has a great reputation. I know that Zen, the tournament organizer, has recently lost a lot of his support crew, including his webmaster. As a result, this event has not been as widely publicized as previous TSHFTs. We had I think 24 players show up, where previous events have seen nearly 60. Still, 24 players is certainly a respectable amount given that there was literally no official internet presence for this event.
The venue was the old Naval Hangar at Magnusun Park in Seattle. The building stayed comfortable and cool throughout the day, is well lit, and has plenty of space. So two thumbs up. In all reality, the main advantage of having a GT at a hotel is that you get the ability to drink in the Hotel bar, and do some late night gaming in the gaming area. So that type of a venue is certainly my preference, however it's nice not to be paying for a hotel room as well as the GT. Washington State is in need of that style of full blown GTs, and the Conquest circuit is so wrought with mismanagement and bad feelings that they are not really carrying that torch very well.
In any case, rabbit trail ended, the venue is nice.
The terrain was quite lovely as well, and offered both an appropriate quantity and variety on all the tables that I saw. While not quite as "clinically" set up as the NOVA, I don't think there are any tables which I would feel would provide me with a particular advantage or disadvantage.
Game one I was faced up against a hybrid mech/foot Eldar list. Eldrad was leading the way with two squads of Harlequins. There was also a single squad of Pathfinders. He had a unit of Fire Dragons in a Falcon, 2 Fire Prisms, 2 Dire Avenger squads in Wave Serpents. The game was Objectives, with four Objectives centered in each table quarter. The objectives scattered D6 inches at the top of every game turn. Players who had scoring units on an objective could 'Anchor' the objective by having that scoring unit Go to Ground, and this would prevent the scatter. So a bit wonky, but not TOO unbalancing. So, highlights of that game included learning that no, you really shouldn't cast psychic powers around Eldrad, and two, Harlequins are not something that you can charge Thunderwolves into and get away with. My opponent apparently had misread the tourney pack and until the top of Turn 3 thought we were playing for Kill Points. He figured it out but even with him trying to do the contest/control shuffle I was in control of 2 Objectives to his 0 at the end of turn 5 when the game ended. I got 14 points for the win, 3 bonus points for having more Fast Attack alive at the end of the game (he had none, I had one left), and 1 bonus point for having "Anchored" my objective more times than him. So 18 points put me in the top chunk of players heading into 2.
Game 2 I had the pleasure of playing Fluger from Blood of Kitten's Ork Defense Force fame (I also got to chat with Chaosgerbil which was cool). Now, as anyone who follows this blog closely knows, I am something of an Orkophobic. My only loss at the Montana GT was to a very similar Ork list to Fluger's. Well, I made the mistake of spreading out too much and being too aggressive with my Cavalry (the two mistakes that I ALWAYS make) and ended getting nearly tabled. I gave him a good fight, killed a whole ton of Orks and almost all of his vehicles, but at the end he controlled one objective and I controlled none. I was shooting for a turn 6 Draw of possibly even a win but I just couldn't pull it together with the limited resources I had left during the last few turns. He won the battle of attrition on this one. So I walked away with 9 Battle Points having earned some on the secondary.
Game 3 was against an Imperial Fists player. He had Lysander with a 10 man Tactical Terminator squad with 2 Cyclone Launchers, a 10 man Dev squad with Missile Launchers, 3 Full Tactical squads mounted in Rhinos, a Thunderfire cannon and a Vindicator. This was a game against a haphazard Mech Marine list that I have practiced dozens of times. I stun locked the Vindi, killed the Thunderfire early (which ironically presented a pretty valid danger to my all-foot list), and demeched him. I got a huge-combi-assault onto his Terminator squad with 2 Thundercav units and my 2 Lone Wolves, and while I took some damage I basically gutted his unit, and stayed locked with a couple of Terminators and Lysander. I then proceeded to bring up Logan and all five of my Wolf Guard units, and a Wolf Scout unit off the flank, and engaged in literally the biggest continuous combi-assault I have ever seen, with 3 Tactical squads, the remnants of a Tactical Terminator squad and Lysander on one side, and Logan, 4 Wolf Guard units, 2 Lone Wolves and my Cav units on the other. It didn't go well for the Fists. I ended up tabling that opponent and technically earned 22 Battle Points but only 20 could be applied to my score as there was a hard cap.
At the end of the day I am sitting at 47 Battle points, with 4 players ahead of me. The current leader is at either at 52 or 53, but basically I am still in the (very tight) top end of the field. Even though I really don't like Battle Point formats (basically I am exemplifying the "why" of it right now, by clubbing a seal hard enough to get back up near the top), but I will admit that it is a good feeling to know that I am still in competition tomorrow.
I have come to the realization that at almost every event that I have gone to, I have ended up in the top quarter of players, sometimes in the top 10%, but rarely in the First or Second place spots. I think an honest assessment of myself would be that that's about where I am as a player. I am one of the best around, but not "the best" and at an event like the NOVA I would be confident of being in the top 1/3 to 1/4 but know I would have no chance at Champion or Ren. Man.
A lot of that is because I simply do not play enough and against enough of a variety of players to get from "good" to "great." I have Orkophobia because I have simply not played them enough with my Loganwing to get comfortable. Against Eldar I made stupid mistakes because I was not experienced playing against that codex with my army. Against Mech Marines, even really well played and well built Mech Marines, I feel really good because I have practiced enough.
To a certain extent there is not a lot I can do about that. I have a family and limited time to play. Also, our local shop has seen more and more players flee to Warmahordes, and frankly I get in more Warmahordes than 40k games because if I show up at the shop with my Hordes army and my 40k army, I can IMMEDIATELY get a Warmahordes army but usually have to spend 40 - 50 minutes watching, waiting and asking around to get a 40k game. Food for thought.
So that's me. I feel like I'm a good to occasionally great list builder and analyst, and my on the table skills put me into the top 10 - 25% of players in most venues. I'm not satisfied with that, but it's good to know where I am.