So I have returned from my favoriite annual tournament - Astronomi-Con Toronto, and I am Glad to report that I return in Victory! This year my Zoat army, built specifically to take to Astro, proved to be a favorite with players and the judges alike. In fact, it was so positively recieved as to earn me the 2007 Best Army appearance award! There were several other BEAUTIFUL armies there, Jamie Sanchez's is one that jumps immediately to mind (pictured below) and so I am really amazed and honoured.
Although I was asked to say a few words at Astro, I had been so totally taken by surprise that I really didnt say or explain much :P So here goes: Though it was a project that came together very quickly at the very end it represented 3 years of collecting and 9 months of planning (I actually announced on the Games Workshop Website last January that I was going to be building a new army just for Astro) and one special commission of professionally sculpted and cast resin replacement parts for several of my zoats (thanks to Jeff Wilhelm of dragonforge dot com for those "leaping" lower bodies). By the time I sat down to start blogging the one month of marathon building and painting I really knew what it is I would be doing, how to go about it and how to avoid time wasting mistakes and pitfalls. In the end I think it came together and I am pleased with the army. I used all my best army painting shortcuts and techniques to achieve a really unified and clean looking army - models which wouldnt stand up in Golden demon but have genuine impact and visual interest on the table. Using things like cork basing, weathering powders, dips and washes really help pull a model together quickly and effectively. I think including the narrative elements to the bases and the integrated matching themed display tray also went a long way for me on this one (the bases often took as long to paint and definitely longer to build than the models themselves).
Anyway the bottom line is thankyou. Im glad that I got these done, Im REALLY glad that people liked them and I am grateful that there is such a great event as Astro to motivate me to do silly things just like this.
Zoats rule. Fear My Fimir.
That having been said, you will find lots of shots from Astro in my Events Gallery as well, is a brief synopsis of this year's Astro experience - I hope you enjoy!
Game 1. I was paired up against a really spectacular tank company and its owner Jason Kebic. He also won the best Army list award for his incredible custom codex book and deathdealer playing cards set. The army was a real treat to see - the conversions were incredible! As you look at the pics it would be easy to assume these are mostly 1/35 tanks kitbashed together but if you look closely you may be amazed to discover that these are very much GW pieces first and foremost with some additional plasticard details. Really as genuine a pleasure to see as its owner was to play against.
This was a really crazy table in that it was a take and hold jungle fight. There were two buildings on the table which were the only objectives for victory. Aside from this there was only 6" visability through the jungle foliage though the rivers provided clear lines of sight. This battle went extremely well for me as I systematically wiped out each of his tanks taking minimal casualties in return (thanks to we'll be back!). I think the dual key to success here was the incredible maneuverability of the destroyers and the versatility of gauss weaponry. My first ever game with my new army (finished only the day before!), this ended up being a great victory for me and a trial by fire for my Zoats - their first battle and first victory!My second game was against Rob Ragbirsingh and his tough space marine army packed full of termies (which I would soon discover were one of the most difficult units for my army to deal with). It was a convoy raid which worked out nicely in that the majority of my hits against the line of chimeras would end up being glancing and so have no chance of destroying the precious cargo. The down side was that the chimeras were slightly off boad center and thus they and their sentinel bodyguard spent the first couple of turns firing at me while ignoring my opponent. This allowed my opponent to get close enough to fight me for one of the cargo drops and slowed me down in such a way that I had to entrust another piece of cargo to a footslogging Fimir unit instead of a speedy Zoat destroyer unit. In the end it came down to a game of inches and ones. The Chaplain and his retinue of Termies ripped through my army and it was only the luck (and phylactery) of my lord that kept him getting back up and into the combat and keeping them from completely decimating my Fimir. Even so, by the last turn if he had rolled just a couple more wounds he would have phased me out. Instead, I claimed a 2:1 victory in this really exciting and enjoyable game.
Game 3 was at the end of a long day - but for it I make no real excuses. I started out facing off against Thomas Faulkner and his combined sisters of battle/grey knight army. It was a cityfight game as well which severly limited my lines of sight and angles of fire. Still I went in with a clear plan of action - kill the seraphim, kill the canoness and the immolater and then work my way through the army before it could catch me.
And then the dreadnaughts showed themselves.
And I thought oooh what a perfect pair of targets....
And I destroyed them.....
And by then the seraphim were so close that I realised I had neglected my battle plan and that I was about to pay for my greed. Ah well. The serahim and jump packing cannoness beat many of my guys to a pulp and held the rest close enough that the grey knight terminators pretty much mopped up what was left. I was phased out, but I had learned a valuable lesson.
Game 4: Day two got off to an incredible start with a game against Steve Masson and his BRIGHT Yellow Imperial Fist Space Marines.
Steve is a player that I have run into at many great events over the years but this is the first time I have had a chance to play him. I must say folks that if you ever find yourself with an opportunity to do so, challenge him. I have no qualms about sharing the fact that I gave him a perfect sportsmanship score for this match, as Steve is the penultimate gentleman gamer. Rarely have I enjoyed a tournament game this much. It was challenging, fair and fun. We played "Wrong side of the tracks" on the Toron-Tau table. It was a blast and came down to the very last shot of the game. We each had two scoring units in the opponents deployment zone when on the very last shot of the very last turn I immobalized his dreadnaught on a glancing gauss weapon hit. That swung the battle 2:1 for me. What a great game.
Game 5 was against Garrett's Chaos forces. Mostly Slaanesh in style, the army also boasted a unit of the all too tempting Thousand sons. I gotta tell ya I was more than a little worried. It was my job to storm the beach securing as many victory points as I could and to earn extra victory points by crossing the road. I decided to advance slowly and keep my forces massed together and systematically pick away at the defending forces on the beach while Garrrett's reinforcements slowly made their way up fron the rear. By keeping the pressure on his defences I was able to clear the beach and earn some solid VP's. Because of the scenario I was also allowed to call for an extra turn of game play. I used this final turn to turbo boost my way across the road with a few units to earn a few more victory points and ensure that I won the scenario handily.
Game 6: Was yet another match against a player that I have long admired and looked forward to playing - Fabio Ferraro. A player with a great reputation for being both a blast to play and an incredibly skilled opponent Fabio has long been on my personal list of people I want to play against. Now that I have had a game against him he goes directly to the list of people I want to play AGAIN (other notables on this list are Steve Masson, Nick Itsou who won Best Overall astro this year, Dave Graham who won Best Sportsman this year, and my buddy Jamie williams who I rode up with. He may have had three monoliths, but he is a great guy and an absolute riot!)
Anyhoo Fabio kicked the living bejeezus out of me. Phased me out by the end of turn 3. Wow. I got caught in preliminary bombardment and pinned inside a building with a few of my units. The very mobile plague marines rolled on up, summoned demons into my midst and proceeded to turn my fimir to mush while the demon prince sauntered up the table to lend a hand in the slaughter. It was a fair and square beat down and Id do it all again in a second (though admittedly I'd play it rather differently :P)
Aside from all the fun of our game I really have to point out Fabio's army list too! It was just about the coolest gimmick list ever - it was a bottle of mountain dew(or so he says....) with his list on the label - ill let the pics speak for themselves on this one. Just really cool.
So that was it :) Another year at Astro. The Servants of the Old Ones went 4-0-2 which is pretty awesome! The landed me a best Army Appearance award which is seriously awesome! And I had some truly wonderful games - which is the best part of all and the very reason I keep coming back to Astronomi-Con year after year. On that note, it is getting late and I am ready for bed. So check out the Events gallery if you want to see the rest of my photos from Astro 2007 while I go dream up a force for Astro 08!
Cya next week - hopefully with a proper photo shoot of the completed Zoat army!