Ooph. Well, that was a marathon couple of months. The draft for this post was originally titled "11.15-11.16 Fall In! After-Action Report" but then things got a wee bit crazy over here. Fall In! became Thanksgiving became a quick prep for PAX Unplugged (12.08 for me) led into holiday party season led into Christmas & New Years, oh, and we wrapped up audit corrective actions while down an average of 3-4 people in the department for end of year "use it or lose it" vacation dumps... so yeah that happened. I did manage to get up to CT one last time for a couple of games before the New Year, so that was good.
Workbench updates will probably follow sometime later next week, along with a proper battle report for the Iron Warriors playtest later today/this weekend. For now, here's a shorter recap of how I rounded out the year, interspersed with a few photos where I remembered to take them ;)
2019.11.15 - Fall In! - Warmaster Tournament
So yeah, I got barely any painting done before Fall In! - something about a government audit eating up all my free time for a few months? Oops. Well anyway. I borrowed pretty much an entire army from one of the guys (huge thanks, Matt!), and got two of my three games in. Both games were against great guys, one with a Dogs of War army and the other an Ogre Kingdoms army. Won one, lost one, and damn were both fun to play.
I (re)learned a LOT of how to play Warmaster over the course of those games, as well as important stuff like paying attention to unit rules (note: Dragon Ogres are monsters and not cavalry - the only move 20cm, genius!), as well as just how nasty certain units can be when properly buffed with spells and supported by a character (note: Dragon Ogres... and I thought Chaos Knights were nasty!).
Finishing painting my Warmaster Chaos army is definitely a project for 2020. Not sure I'll get it done in time for Cold Wars, but I definitely want to have it ready for Fall In! this year.
2019.11.15 - Fall In! - Adeptus Titanicus Event
This event was run by the Mechanicon guys. As far as I can tell, they've largely rolled their tournament events into HMGS' Fall In!, and even then they've stepped things down a bit. This was... frustrating. We had 4 players show up including the event organizer and each player was limited to 1000 points, which pretty much meant everything was a bare-bones Axiom maniple. It took some effort on my part convincing to get the TO to even permit Legio rules and Princeps Senioris abilities, but Stratagems were out of the question.
I walked away from this game with the impression that I was the only person at the table with a really solid grasp of the rules. Honestly, I wish I'd stuck around the Warmaster Tournament for a third game. PAX Unplugged really made up for this. I like playing against my regular AT18 gaming bud, but we both need variety in our opponents to help improve our games, IMO.
2019.11.16 - Fall In! - Epic: Armageddon Tournament
My reason for going to Fall In! every year! When the dust settled, I came in fifth overall, 1-1-1 (last tie was a win on points), and I think we had ~18-20 players or so in attendance? Definitely one of our best-attended tournaments yet! I took another Legio Suturvora force, this time dropping the Warlord for a second Warhound and third Reaver.
Brad - Fall In! 2019, 3000 POINTS
Legio Gryphonicus (NetEA v3.24 *APPROVED*)
REAVER TITAN 
Legate, Carapace Landing Pad, 2 Quake Cannon, Carapace Multi-Lasers
REAVER TITAN 
Apocalypse Missile Launcher, Veteran Princeps, Laser Blaster, Gatling Blaster, Carapace Multi-Lasers
REAVER TITAN 
Apocalypse Missile Launcher, Veteran Princeps, Laser Blaster, Close Combat Weapon, Carapace Multi-Lasers
WARHOUND TITAN 
Inferno Gun, Vulcan Megabolter
WARHOUND TITAN 
Inferno Gun, Vulcan Megabolter
SKITARII DEMI-CENTURY 
2 Secutor, 8 Hypaspists
Yes, it's only six activations. From experience, the carapace multilasers are worth more than a flight of Thunderbolts and a seventh activation. Do I think the Reaver CCW was a crutch? No; for the same reason the CCW on the Warlord was worth it at PAX. You don't assault EA (+3), TK (D3). You don't end your move anywhere within 20cm of it either. You eyeball the objective it's sitting on and weigh your odds of shooting it off said objective, if you're lucky. Again, it's not an army where you go flying across the board and try to outmaneuver your opponent or threaten their Blitz; you play for TSNP & either T&H or DTF and deny your opponent the other one, while trying not to give up BTS. If you're lucky, you can grab BTS along the way.
Game One: Shaun's Minervan Tank Legion (Win).
This was a brawl, but it made up for the Mechanicon event the previous day. When the smoke cleared I'd won 2-0 (BTS, T&H).
+++Target locked, princeps+++
The shooting did exactly what it needed to. I pounded away at his SHT company and managed to pop the Shadowsword on turn one, which was absurdly lucky. After that, it was a fire & maneuver game, moving up the board and lighting up his Leman Russ company to keep it suppressed / shoot it off the board. Dual quake cannons did a lot of work for me in this game and sort of made up for not taking a volcano cannon.
+++Exload: OH YEAH!+++
The best moment of the game was definitely Shaun parking his Warhound within charge range of my Reaver. Remember, titans can step over anything <2cm wide and up to their knees! Just because there's a building I can step over in the way, that doesn't mean I can't reach you at the maximum end of my charge range :D
Game Two: Dave's Iyanden Ghost Warriors (Loss).
Yeah, this was rough. My Iron Warriors don't have a good answer to the magical flying 4+ RA / MW circus, and Legio Suturvora sure as heck doesn't either. When your opponent massively out-activates, out-manuevers, and outshoots you in engagements, there isn't a whole lot you can do to counter it. Pretty sure this one ended 0-4.
Spending most of the game rallying broken units doesn't make for engaging gameplay. Losing a Reaver on turn one to critical hit effects certainly didn't help either. It happens though. Take a list with pronounced strengths and weaknesses, expect to lose when you run up against your hard counter.
Game Three I played Kal's Sisters of Battle (Tie - Won on VP).
Damn was this a fun game. Kal's good. His Sisters list had 12-13 activations, BUT most of the list relies on short-ranged firefight and/or assault to win, and a lot of it was either on foot or rocking up in Rhinos, the 40K universe's purple heart box. Lightning Strike fighters are nasty for their barrage of AT missiles and lascannon, but that and his Exorcist formation were really his only reliable antitank firepower.
I spent most of this game shooting up garrisoned Penitent Engine formations, bouncing off his assaults, and maneuvering for position. Apocalypse Launchers and Quake Cannon did a lot of work for me in this game, loading smaller units up with blast markers and ensuring they'd break.
If I had line of sight, it died. If it charged me, it died.
Still, this was where the activation count bit me in the butt. It doesn't matter if you break their BTS - you need to annihilate it to keep it from rallying at the end of turn three. If you only have 5-6 activations a turn, you probably have more immediate threats to deal with than lobbing some long-range shots at a distant potential victory condition you might not even be able to reach after it broke & fell back. Plus, when you're out-activated 2:1, it's really hard to hold objective uncontested, or to ensure there's *nothing* unbroken at the end of turn four on your side of the board. And yeah, he had a couple of good rallies at the end of turn four, otherwise I might have won 2-0 for TSNP & T&H.
That was a great game though, honestly the most challenging and enjoyable game I've played in a long time, and Kal is a great guy to throw down against with a great attitude even late in the day after 10+ hours of wargaming ;)
2019.12.08 - PAX Unplugged - Betrayer (Adeptus Titanicus Narrative Event)
So this was apparently year three for PAX Unplugged and the first time the local wargaming group (HAWC) decided applied to host an event. They ran a three day Horus Heresy narrative campaign - Friday/Saturday were large force battles, while Sunday was a smaller Zone Mortalis event paired with Adeptus Titanicus. The broader narrative was that the forces of the Warmaster held a major sub-sector base at a warp route conjunction, and Dorn's forces opted to strike back and attempt to take it / delay the assault on Terra a little longer. Over the course of the three days, ultimately the Loyalists came out on top by quite a bit (boo!), but I walked away with the second place painting award for my battleforce, and a medal for the highest bodycount overall amongst the AT18 players (and by a good margin; 8 engine kills and 4 knights over 2 games!).
Pict capture: Tempestus marches to meet the oncoming loyalists.
The Adeptus Titanicus event took place on the final days of the siege as Loyalist forces advanced on the final holdout cities. The TO set things up with 1750 point games and gave us the nastiest weather conditions from the back of the Titandeath campaign book - the first two turns of game one were night fighting in a radiation storm (weakened shields), and the second two turns were in the middle of an electrical storm with limited visibility (reverse the order for game two) to represent all of the atmospheric disturbance from days heavy planetary bombardment. It was a bit of extra bookkeeping, but the the radiation storms and lightning strikes helped speed up gameplay as shields dropped very rapidly on all sides.
Also, rather than drawing from the mission objective cards, we used Graham Sanders' Adeptus Titanicus Matched Play rules - check his stuff out over at Claws & Fists! This was a good thing, overall; you roll 2D10 on a set of rebalanced random mission objectives, with usually 3-4 mission objective tokens out on the board, and consequently it's a little harder for each player to guess what the other's victory conditions are. This was my first time with the matched play rules, and I liked it I'll definitely be exploring these more in future games.
Pict Capture: House Malinax Knights go in for the kill.
In game one I squared off against a beautifully painted Legio Solaria force, and game two I threw down against Shaun's Legio Atarus. Both games' bodycounts were high, but while I was able to box out Legio Solaria, poor dice rolls prevented me from killing Atarus' Warhound while it fled off the board with their rescued titan crew.
Overall it was a fun event. We had a very broad mix of skill levels and experience, ranging from psychos like me who play way too much to guys getting their second or third game in at the event... which is something I probably should expect for what's more of a niche game compared to GW's more marquee 40K, Age of Sigmar, and 30K. My only major criticism is that throwing in all of the weather conditions might have been a little much for some of the newer players. I'm not sure everybody actually played with them, so I may have been handicapping myself. Some of the more experienced players were really bad about remembering to roll for weapon ranges, too.
The narrative nature of the event helped though - largely, nobody brought an abusive list (aside from the one guy with a Lupercal backed up by a Banner or two of Acastus - although apparently he wasn't a great player, and he did leave early). I took the opportunity to mount a power fist on my Warlord (along with carapace gatling blasters and a sunfury plasma annihilator), and man was that entertaining. I never once actually swung with it, but man, it really dictated the flow of the game. The one thing I could count on during both games - anywhere that Warlord stood was the center of a 16" diameter bubble completely devoid of enemy Titans and Knights! Nobody wanted to even consider risking letting me get the charge off ;)
All in all, it was a fun day. Our tournament tables were set up at an intersection of two major walking arteries within the convention center on the way to the GW store & painting station, and we got a LOT of attention for the fully-painted titans and terrain setups. We all got a lot of attention for our games, and apparently HAWC already knows we'll be invited back for PAX Unplugged again next year, so I'll call that a win!