Friday, March 5, 2010

20 February 2010 Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree and Pancake Breakfast (Game 2)

Opponent: M (Sisters of Battle).  I shall call him simply “M”, because there’s no point in calling out someone by their real name on the Internet if you’ve got nothing nice to say.  Indeed, this was a thoroughly unpleasant game against a thoroughly unpleasant individual, and easily one of the least enjoyable games I have played in years.  And I had gone into the game with such high hopes for an interesting Sisters-vs-Sisters matchup.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • Canoness with Mantle, Book, Cloak, Blessed Weapon, 6x Celestian Retinue, Veteran with Eviscerator, and Priest with Eviscerator
  • Junior Inquisitor with 2 Mystics and a Land Raider transport
  • 2x 10 Battle Sisters with 2 Meltas and Veteran Sister, in Rhino (no upgrades)
  • 2x 9 Dominion Sisters with 4 Meltas and Veteran Sister, in Rhino (no upgrades)
  • 2x5 Imperial Storm Troops, with 2 Plasmas
  • 3x Exorcists
Mission: Dawn of War, Seize Ground.  4th-edition style Victory Points were also to be recorded, to help determine the overall tournament victor.

Terrain: After terrain placement, the left side of M’s deployment zone (my right) had a sprawling low ruins where he placed his objective marker.  On my side, a blocky ruin in the far left corner, and some woods on the right, where I deployed my objective marker.  Between our 2 objective markers were two rows of trees and a low hill; another row of trees were neatly granting cover saves on the far center left of the table.  In all, excellent cover saves from nearly every angle for nearly anything being shot at long range.

What happened?
M deployed his Storm Troopers around his objective, and during the top of the first turn, moved his army onto the table in two groups: a smaller wing consisting of one unit of Battle Sisters, screening an Exorcist, on the left (my right) of the ruins his objective was in, and a larger wing consisting of his other vehicles, spread out across the rest of his deployment zone.

I moved on and felt comfortable enough about the heavy terrain and M’s lack of significant vehicle-stopping firepower to split into two wings myself, sending half my Chimeras and several units of Immolators (with Storm Troopers) to challenge his smaller ‘wing’ and seize the objective, and the rest to delay and harass the other side of the table and keep M’s other units off my objective – held by my last two Chimeras.

In short, my plan succeeded – M failed to really stop any of my units, he failed to concentrate fire on any of my vehicles before they got to him (shooting mostly at the Chimeras on my objective, rather than the transports rushing toward him), he failed to keep away from the nasty Immolator madness (particularly around his objective, which he was trying to hold with T3 guys in 4+ armor… and all my Immolators with a S5 AP4 weapon) and his one nasty hitter squad was isolated and overwhelmed in detail, managing to kill only one squad and several transports before going down hard.

Okay, what really happened?
The game started with M insisting that any units I deployed in woods (= agreed as area terrain) would have to shoot through woods to hit his vehicles, thus his vehicles would gain cover saves (= not true).  He also insisted that since transports count as units (= true), that my HQ would HAVE to start on foot at the start of the game (= not true).  I placed it in reserve instead, still in the transport.  He contested LOS constantly from my vantage point, insisting that the trees I was deployed in would individually block LOS to his units (= true in general, but not in this case).  When I pointed out to him that his arguments were not only illogical, but not supported by the rules, he babbled on about something new.  But you know, whatever, right?  Sometimes people just don’t know what they’re doing.  Sometimes it’s not malicious.

Then, at the start of turn one, it became crystal clear what sort of player M was.  His transports and Exorcists zipped on, moving an inch or so further than they normally could have.  When called on this, a jockeying match with tape measures ensued, and vehicles ended up being moved and replaced and repositioned ad nauseum.  However, none of them moved more than 12 inches from his table edge, so I was mildly satisfied.  I consoled myself by reminding myself that M didn’t have any blast weapons (imagine the “fun” playing someone with a floating tape measure when there are blast templates involved).

Then I blasted his Land Raider (carrying his heavy-hitter Canoness unit) to pieces with meltaguns on the bottom of turn 2 – after having a rather lengthy discussion with M about how far units were allowed to deploy from transports, and showing him the specific rule.  I later overheard him double-checking this with a more rules-competent acquaintance.  Because after all, you never know if your opponent showed you a fake rulebook or something to prove his point, right?

The insanity continued – M never bothered to explain what he was doing, and would argue (!) instead of explain when I asked him to do so.  If I didn’t already know what his units could do, his actions would have been completely opaque to me.  He blathered nonstop and blatantly tried to pressure me into making all sorts of bad decisions, and insisted that I reroll “cocked” dice that were no such thing – but of course, only those “cocked” dice that favored me.  He used dice with a variety of different custom faces, but never bothered to explain the value of any of those faces.  He conspicuously lied about his rolls on at least two occasions (treating rolls of “2” as rolls of “3’, for example), and had a habit of quickly snatching up his ‘successful’ to-hit rolls to roll again for wounds, rather than pausing to show his opponent (me) what the outcomes were.  On one occasion, he ‘forgot’ to roll for wounds, simply telling me that the hits he had rolled were wounds.

The breaking point was (I believe) on Turn 3 when M failed a morale check with a unit of his Battle Sisters, who fell back more than enough to flee off the table given where they were.  M tried to flee them at a diagonal angle instead, “around” one of his nearby Exorcists, to keep them barely on the table.  I had to point out twice (!) that the actual location of the Exorcist model physically did not prevent his unit from moving directly back and off the table.  In other words, even WITH the Exorcist nearby, there was a shorter and perfectly clear line of retreat off the table.  With poor humor and even poorer grace, M removed his unit.  “Fine, if that’s the way you want to play it,” he grumped.

Oh, bucko, you have no f’in clue.

For those who don’t know me, I spent ten years in the Ivory Tower of Academia before I got tired of the vile toxicity and left.  In case you have don’t know what that entails, let me explain.  Being a practicing research academic means being a professional asshole, at a level that most people cannot possibly conceive.  It means knowing a hundred different stupid rhetorical tricks to make the target of your righteous (or not) wrath feel like a complete moron, and a hundred more stupid tricks for cutting them off at the knees and destroying their logic, their argument, their reason, and their ability to keep speaking.  It’s been a long time since I was in practice being that scale of asshole, but it’s not like the skills just vanished when I left the Ninth Circle of Hell to get a job in the Real World.

With a grim vindictiveness, I proceeded to give M what I sincerely hope was one of the worst games of 40K in his life.  I cut him off constantly, attacked his credibility and knowledge of the rules, created multiple fake confrontations which I then readily won, consistently fought his every interpretation of the rules, and refused to let him get away with any more shenanigans, point blank.  When he “nudged” a Rhino into a better firing position, I moved it back for him, chiding him like a recalcitrant child.  When he moved a unit too far, I moved them back to the proper location, explaining the movement rules to him like he were an idiot.  When he tried to fast-play, I conspicuously slow-played, forcing him to change his pace to match mine.  When he asked about rules questions, I made him look them up himself.  When he challenged anything I did, I made him prove that I couldn’t – and kept playing and making moves while he tried to find the relevant rules in the book.  When he blathered, I shut him up with a scathing retort.

In short, I completely subordinated M’s personality and authority to mine, in a very blatant and vicious manner.  Meantime, of course, I took liberal advantage of every move, angle, weapon, rule, and special ability that I had – and stopped bothering to explain what I was doing, either.  Given how rusty I was at the task, I probably pulled off what in my prime I would have considered a C- performance in terms of ass-hattery (slightly below mediocre) – I stopped short of ad hominem (personal attacks), and definitely didn’t go full-bore.  What can I say, I’m years out of practice.  In this case, it was more than sufficient, as M quickly folded like the fake-ass punk he was.

My sad-sack opponent had started the game talking a mile a minute, and by the end was almost completely silent.  It probably would have been a victory for my army anyway, but given how thoroughly I took advantage of him, M was almost completely wiped out.  I had lost three of my Chimeras, two of my Storm Trooper units, immobilized one Immolator in terrain, and lost one squad of Celestians (nearly all of them lost to a rampaging Canoness and her two pet Eviscerators that would miraculously have been assaulting 13+ inches, had I not been clamping down on M’s stupidity).  M had his Inquisitor, one Exorcist, and half a Dominion squad left when he conceded midway through my fifth or sixth turn.

Technically, because he conceded, I should have gotten a full 2000 victory points out of M, but I was too tired after this little jaunt through the sewer of bad sportsmanship to care to push it.  I let the little weasel get away with preserving a few victory points, and he slunk off to bother me no more.  In hindsight, given that the tournament standings were based on victory points (scored and preserved), I probably should have gone all-in and taken the points, but oh well.  Good riddance.

As an Exciting Footnote (tm) to this tale: throughout the game, such as it was, I had taken notes for this report on the back of an extra army list M had provided me before the game.  After this game, I cleaned up the table a bit, stacked my papers and notes under my miniatures, and went out to grab dinner.  When I came back from dinner to get ready for game three, those game notes (and the army list they had been written on) had vanished.  Gee, how mysterious.  I wonder what could have happened to them?

Turning the Tables
Lesson one: don’t be a dick.  M clearly did not enjoy the game he played with me.  Surprise, moron.  That’s what other people experience when they play YOU.  I’m positive, because I double-checked.  What, you didn’t think that your tournament opponents would talk to each other?

Oh, I’m sorry, you didn’t like being on the receiving end?  Then stop doing it.  Because here’s lesson two:

Lesson two: there is ALWAYS a bigger asshole than you out there.  I’ve no idea why M plays like he does.  I’ve no idea if it’s just something he brings out at tournaments, or against people he doesn’t know, or what.  I’ve no idea if this is the way his entire circle of friends plays, cultivating the bad sportsmanship like a rare-blooming carrion flower.  But being this kind of gamer is a dead-end road.  Eventually you WILL run into someone who can make you his/her whipping boy, and I’m not just talking about game-wise, or tactics-wise.  I gave you a really unpleasant two hours, and this wasn’t even the most unpleasant I can be – and there are plenty of people that I’ve met, that I guarantee can make my worst efforts feel like a wonderful and rejuvenating day at the spa in comparison with what THEY can bring.  And when you provoke THAT expert in douche-baggery, are you really going to be having all that much fun?

Lesson three: stop cheating.  There are ways to be successful at dickishness.  Being an obvious cheat is not one of them.  Not only do you have much less leverage in a “rules” confrontation if you’re totally making shit up, but when you make honest mistakes in the game, as nearly everyone does, it will just look like you’re cheating some more.

Lesson four: concentrate fire.  This is the only piece of tactical advice I can really give, for three reasons.  First, M’s tactics were pretty bad: he split his forces and his firepower and got overwhelmed in detail – he should have concentrated both his forces and his firepower.  The fact that he didn’t is why I figured I would probably have won the game anyway.  Second, most of my notes from the battle “mysteriously” vanished, and I had to recreate what happened from memory – and honestly, what happened in the game is not what I remember most clearly here.  Finally, why am I going to bother giving useful game advice to someone I don’t respect, and intensely dislike?


  1. Wow. Lets hope you don't have a repeat of this guy with anyone else, anytime soon. >.<

  2. Brutal. What part of academia teaches you how to be an asshole? I'm only familiar with philosophy, but everyone seems pretty congenial. Maybe it's because they knew from the get-go that their subject matter didn't, well, matter. Probably makes for a more relaxed attitude.

    I really like the format of your battle reports. especially the advice to your opponent at the end. I don't know how it is for veterans, but I often struggle to glean useful information from "I did X, he did Y, so I crushed him." It also helps that you write clearly.

    So, yeah, thanks.