Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ordo Fanaticus Club Challenge: What I Learned from my first Tournament

This weekend I participated in my first big 40k tournament. More to the point, I played more 40k in two days than I have in the last two editions (about 7 years, really). Ordo Fanaticus Club Challenge (OFCC) is a more casual tourney, with more emphasis on painting and sportsmanship than other competitions. They sell themselves as a place to play if you've never been to a tourney before, which really appealed to me.

In truth, it was difficult at times, but I enjoyed my first experience.
Our Team, the Imperial Fist Bumps
So if you're thinking about going to your first tourney, here are a few things I wished I'd known beforehand. (plus a few shots of some of the minis I liked)
One of the best parts was seeing all the well painted armies, and models that I've never seen in person before, like this Ultraforge mini

Get a Board
The first, and most important lesson I garnered from my first tourney is definitely to get a display board.

Walking around, you could see the boards were extensions of the armies. When I first arrived teams would display their game boards along the tables, and often the best boards got the most of attention.

The high quality displays matched the bases of the minis themselves, incorporating themselves into the scenery, sharing details like terrain, lighting effects, or bits. A lot of people clearly spent a lot of time creating, painting & tricking out their boards & it was really impressive.

Beyond the artistic appeal, the boards serve an important function as well: Carrying your army. Loading and unloading my daemon army from it's carrying cases took a long time, and moving it from table to table was cumbersome. People with their own game boards were able to simply put their armies in place & walk to their next game. After my first game I realized it was a real hassle to be without, so I borrowed a tupperware tub lid from the terrain containers and used that to haul my army around for the rest of the tourney. 

If you want to go to a tournament get a board. It doesn't have to be fancy. One of my teammates bought a cork board on his way to Portland. It worked great. Get a board.

It's Tiring
You shouldn't leave a day of gaming feeling like you spent a whole day at work, but that's how I felt at the end of the first day. We spent 9 hours gaming, with a few extra hours of lunch, inspecting people's armies, and whatever it is people chose to do afterwards. (I also chose to drive to and from the event each day, which added 3 hours to my commute each day)

I'm also night owl so the 8am start took a small toll on me as well.

By the end of my third game I was leaning my back hard against a nearby pillar to help ease my spine. I was tired, my back ached, and my feet were throbbing. Then I drove another 90 minutes. I was sore.

So quick bits of advice to ease your body:
* Wear comfy shoes (one of my teammates suffered for wearing flip flops)
* Drink plenty of liquids
* Sit when you have the opportunity

in one battle I faced a pirate themed Daemon list that featured a Helchicken & a Helparrot.

Take everything you'll need
This might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but if you're used to playing pickup games with friends, you might not always take all the essentials along with you. The idea is to be properly prepared for each game, or able to help out a teammate should they have forgotten anything. Some items include:

* Base Rule Book
* Your army book(s)
* 5+ printed army lists (one for yourself, each of your opponents, & the tourney organizers)
* Templates
* Dice
* Measuring Tape
* Glue

That last one is important. My Be-lakor mini lost his arm, & I saw several necron wraiths snap in transit to their next game. Minis are being packed, unpacked, moved from table to table, and placed in some pretty precarious situations during games. There's a really good chance something will break, & when it does it's important to have glue ready to fix it.

Be Prepared to Lose
OFCC is billed as a friendlier tournament. Before the event teams send in their lists to admin who rate how aggressive the list is, and they discourage powerful, hyper-competitive lists. That being said, there were still a lot of Imperial Knights, Wraithnights, Waveserpent spam, and I even faced a Firestorm Redoubt (a 600+ point fortification of death). Even a friendly competition got pretty competitive, so be ready for that.

That being said, even when I was losing I kept it friendly. Laugh when your dice get the better of you. At one point my Flying Daemon Prince Warlord with 4+ Feel No Pain was shot from the sky, took a wound for falling, then was promptly blown to bits by a D-strength missile without a save (If my math is correct, there's only a 0.8% chance of that happening). In another game I lost my Lord of Change to the first round of shooting from Orks (!).

The dice gods were laughing at me. (Others noticed too & even offered to buy me new ones)

I laughed though. It doesn't do you any good to get upset about dice rolls beyond your control. All you can do is joke about the situation and change your battle plans moving forward. I ended up winning the game against the Orks, & even tied 10-10 against the Astra Militarum player with the enormous fortification.

Make some Friends
Finally, tournaments are a rare opportunity to meet fellow hobbyists from all around. The Portland tournament drew folks from Spokane and Canada (each over 300 miles away) so take some time to connect with other people who are passionate enough about the hobby to come long distances to compete.

I played five games over the weekend & all of my opponents seemed like good people. Each game was slated for three hours, which is plenty of time to get to know someone. My first game was against a guy named Aaron, & it turned out we both served as military cryptologists, and even went to the same school. It's great to make those kind of connections anywhere, let alone with someone who shares the same pass-time. Plus if you continue to play tournaments there's a good chance you'll see the same faces over and over again, so making a few connections is a good way of ensuring you'll have a good time at future events as well.

Going to your first tournament can be a bit daunting, but you should go prepared to to meet some fun people, play all of your games with class, and to be sore for a few days afterwards. It'll be worth it though.


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