The Basement Open Tournament 2019

Hey guys, Freddie Lovebeard here, and I just got back from the Basement Open in Sudbury late last night, so now I’m here to talk about my experiences bringing my 2000 points of Grey Knights to their first tournament. I played 6 games against 6 pretty cool players, but the games themselves weren’t as interesting as I’d have liked, so I’ll talk about my general experience at the tournament before getting into specifics about my games.

Tournament Experience

When I first got to the venue I knew I was going to have a hard time. My list is designed to slow things down and outplay my opponents, but I don’t do it like a chaos player who just throws enough poxbringers at you that you can’t kill them, I hide. Anyone who’s read any of my battlereports either here or on Reddit knows that I spend most of my time trying to position in such a way that I won’t die while scoring enough points to keep me in the game, until I can swoop in and turn the tables all at once. That playstyle requires them to be functional terrain. Line-of-Sight blocking pieces that you can actually hide behind, ruins that you can turtle in, and things like that. There were ruins on maybe half of the tables, and most of them were too tiny to be reliable. I saw I think three enclosed ruins at the event as a whole. Three Quarters of the tables – even if they looked cool – didn’t have enough terrain to hide anything. They might be covered in LoS blocking pieces, but if every piece is just a 3″ wide cylinder there’s nowhere you can hide that your opponents won’t be able to shoot whatever they want after moving. More tables than I was comfortable with were bare apart from a couple rocks.

The tournament was run by a guy, and his brother came along. They both spoke at the opening ceremony, and they both hung out all weekend without playing. It seemed to me like they were both TOs, and was never made clear that one brother just wasn’t.

I after game four the pairings went up for the first round the next day, and I was assigned to this table against 2 Castellans and a Valiant. This was not the first bad table I was assigned to play on, but it was the worst. I was – I think – reasonably frustrated and when one of the brothers that I believed to be running the tournament came up and talked to us I asked if I could switch to one of the empty tables for Game 5. Not even the Knight player wanted to play on the worst table in the whole hall.

His response was that all tournaments have tables just like this and that we just have to deal with it. Even though there were other tables available we’d have to play on this one.

Okay, first thing’s first. Saying “All tournaments are like this,” when explaining how your terrain is this bad is just an excuse to keep your tournament woefully inadequate. It’s a flawed mentality when we as a hobby are growing, and should be actively striving to improve ourselves AND our tournaments to keep people invested and involved.

I didn’t start ripping into him though, I just explained that I’d driven a pretty long way to actually play games, and so far the tables hadn’t been really condusive to that.

His response was to kind of stifle a laugh and dismiss me with, “You’re playing Grey Knights,” as if that means I came to just hang out and mess around. That’s absolutely not the case. Everyone who reads these reports knows that I push myself hard to improve and make good plays. I brought Grey Knights to the tournament because I wanted a challenge. I’m fine with losing games, but I want to lose DURING the game, instead of before any dice are rolled just because the entire opposing army is able to see me no matter where I place anything in my deployment zone. I didn’t go in expecting to win the tournament, obviously, but I did want to play against people of similar skill, and I don’t feel like I ever got to.

It is worth noting that my friend and teammate messaged the real TOs over night that night and got the tables switched to something a little bit more reasonable, and the TO came over and apologized about his brother first thing in the morning and made explicitly clear that he did NOT represent the tournament in any fashion, which I appreciate, but that should have been clear from the start.

I spent most of the first day and all of the night before going to bed really salty about the tables and how much money I’d spent to go to a tournament at which I wasn’t even really having fun. It wasn’t a great experience.

Day 2 I came in, accepted the TO’s apology, and played my games, which half of were again decided by terrain, but without a whole other day of it to look forward to it was a lot easier to just relax and accept that it was happening and have fun hanging out with cool people that share a common interest.

Overall, I’m glad I went because it was a fun weekend away with my friend and my wife. I didn’t really enjoy the tournament itself, but I’d probably still go back next year with a VERY different army so I could actually compete. Even then I’m not sure I’d have fun, but at least I’d place better. Playing Who Goes First? isn’t as fun as a tactical game of scoring objectives, but it’s better than having an army that’d just get shot off the table even if they did go first and still not scoring any points on objectives.

Also, it appears my mission pack on which I took a lot of notes went missing while packing up so these won’t be as detailed as my normal reports, but hey, at least you get 6 of them!

Anyway, on to my list!

My List

I brought my standard Battalion and Vanguard, but my relics and psychic powers I ended up switching around from game-to-game.

Lord Kaldor Draigo
Grand Master Voldus
Brother Captain – Psycannon, Nemesis Daemon Hammer, Warlord, First to the Fray

3x 5-man Strike Teams – Justicars w/ Halberds, 3x Falchions, 1x Psycannon

2x 10-man Paladin Squads – Paragon w/ Nemesis Daemon Hammer, 7x Halberds, 2x Warding Staves, all with Stormbolters
Paladin Ancient – Psycannon
Apothecary – Nemesis Daemon Hammer

Game One

Game One I played against a super fun dude from Beef and Wing, who host their own tournaments across the border every now and then who was playing Custodes with Elysian Drop Troop Allies.

2 Shield Captains on Bikes
3x 5-man Bike units
Callidius grav-tank

2 Elysian Characters
3x elysian drop troops
2x plasma command squads

Mission 1 is the mission with 6 objectives where the bonus is for holding 5, and we rolled up Spearhead Assault. That left us 18″ apart, and the points were just close enough to be in scoring range of the objectives (which were inside the center ruin) but not close enough to actually get us IN the ruins. I took marked for death on his bike units and on one of his captains, kingslayer on his bike warlord, and Ground Control. He took Behind Enemy Lines, Gangbusters, and I think Old School.

Since he had 14″ moves on his bikes I couldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t make a charge against me turn 1 starting only 18″ apart, but to stand back would be to give up Hold More turn 1, which I didn’t want to do either. I won the roll-off to go first and moved in through the ruins center-table with my characters behind my paladins, but half an inch from the wall, so even with fly to fly through the wall and over my paladins he wouldn’t be able to place them within 1″ to fight Draigo or Voldus. I couldn’t charge him but I gave myself Hammerhand and Sanctuary and just braced for impact.

He charged my paladins, as expected. I heroically intervened with Draigo and interrupted with the paladins. I ended up losing 8 paladins, and killing a handful of bikes. We held the same and neither of us killed a unit, but he lost the opportunity for First Strike since he couldn’t kill all 10.

Turn 2 I moved my apothecary up from my back objective without a ruin to protect it and dropped a strike team on it. I dropped my brother captain in range to give my Apothecary charge rerolls and to give my Ancient (who I dropped in with another paladin unit – who also needed to reroll their charges) double range on the relic banner. I also dropped a strike team on top of the ruin 9″ above everyone else to smite his warlord. After some smiting I charged my Apothecary and Brother Captain into the melee mid-table, as well as Voldus who I couldn’t fit to heroically intervene the turn before. I killed his warlord for kingslayer and a unit of bikes in close combat, but failed the charge with my paladins into his bike unit on the left side.

On his turn 2 his second captain came to fight Draigo, and his 4 remaining bikes were split between Voldus and the Brother captain, without rerolls to wound since they’d been in combat since turn 1, and failed to kill either. Draigo also made his saves, but my 2 remaining paladins from the previous unit were shot to death. My characters killed 2 of his remaining 4 bikes, and his Drop Troops killed my strike team off a deep strike near my objective. He had his bikes charge my big paladin unit, but Sanctuary and Hammerhand kept a handful of them alive and they hit back pretty hard.

Again we killed and held the same.

On turn 3 my strike team that started on the table killed one of his units of elysians, and my paladins killed all of his bikes but 1 on the left side. My characters finished his 2 bikes in the center.

His Captain fell back out of the fight in the middle and hid behind his Callidius to deny me my last Marked for Death. He advanced his last bike into my table corner to get far enough away from my paladins that I wouldn’t be able to charge him again and moved his Elysians onto my objective that they’d shot the strike teams off of. His Callidius killed a few of my paladins and left me with just my Paragon.

I killed more, he held more.

On turn 4 I advanced my paladin into smite range of his last bike, and gated Voldus to 9″ away from the elysians within 6″ of the brother captain. I advanced my strike team from center to chain out within the Brother Captain’s aura and got within 24″ of the bike, but not anything else. I finished the last bike with smites and shooting from a strike team, and killed his plasma command squad with shooting from my ancient and brother captain, then killed the character with a charge from Voldus to hold all 3 objectives.

He moved up to shoot me with his Callidius but nothing was really in range. He ended up killing just a couple strikes from the unit that had advanced and smited.

I killed more and we held the same.

After that we ran out of time and ended up scoring 20-19 in my favor for a really narrow win.

Game Two

Game Two I played against a chaos player. He had Ahriman, 3 Disco Lords, Mortarion 50 poxbringers, a unit of brimstone horrors, and a handful of other less important characters.

Since his list was effectively all assault I used 2 of my strike teams to screen instead of hiding them in deepstrike like I usually would. I didn’t want to risk eating a warp timed Mortarion on turn 1 on my paladins.

He went first and moved everything up and failed or was denied on just about every psychic test except for one smite that did a couple wounds to one of my strike teams.

I walked up and smited and shot 20 of his poxbringers from one unit to death. I intentionally stopped early because I didn’t want him to get to bring them back for 2 CP, which is completely ridiculous, but something we have to deal with. If they fail morale it’s not Grey Knights destroying the unit so they can’t, but he spent 2 CP to autopass morale. I charged onto the center objective but his pile-ins ended up having 1 more model on the objective anyway.

On turn 2 he charged me with 3 Lord Discordants and his Slaanesh model that stops people from falling back. Morty charged my strikes mid-table and just annihilated them. He fought first with his warlord Lord Discordant and I interrupted combat with my unit of Paladins that he would have another discordant and the slaanesh model fight into, and killed both of them. His third discordant killed my Apothecary and few of my paladins. I charged my second paladin unit around his warlord into another Discolord, and ended up killing both, but he interrupted combat with his warlord to finish off my original paladin unit.

On turn 3 he picked a couple characters off with Mortarion and I took a lot of wounds off him but had to turn back to my side of the table instead of starting to advance up.

On turn 4 he had Mortarion charge my strike team on the rock to kill them, and I charged Morty with my Paladins to kill him.

Turn 5 and 6 we both had to just pass. He’d killed everything I had with Gate of Infinity so I couldn’t get my paladins re-engaged and I ended up losing 26 – 17.

Looking back on the game we agreed that I lost as a result of the table we were on. Without any ruins and playing an army a lot slower on foot it’s impossible to hide anything from Mortarion or the Lord Discordants and so my units I usually hide to always have Gate of Infinity to keep myself in the game but it just wasn’t possible on this table.

Game Three

Game Three was against a super friendly Ork player with an awesome list.

He had a bunch of stuff, but the major parts were 6 Mek Guns, 6 Scrapjets, 2 Dakkajets, and one other plane with some bigger guns, all run as Freebooterz.

We rolled up Vanguard strike and he chose a quarter that was opposite of what the book list, but I hadn’t printed the FAQ to prove that he had to choose one of the others and it ended up making the terrain mid-table just be parallel to the firing lanes instead of blocking anything. My deployment zone had literally nothing in it but barricades, so nowhere to hide. I deepstruck 1 paladin unit, my warlord, and 2 strike teams.

On turn 1 he shot my strike team on the table with his Mek Guns and killed them, giving himself a 24″ aura of +1 to hit across all of his Scrapjetz, and he killed my whole paladin unit with them, which gave his planes +1 to hit, and his planes killed all 3 of my characters, tabling me turn 1.

I lost 36 – 0.

I wasn’t even upset about losing, I was just bummed that there was nothing I could have done to actually be able to play. His list countered mine pretty hard with the S8 AP-2 3 damage wing missiles, and it should have been a tough game, but with any terrain at all to hide behind we could have had a really interesting game I think. Regardless, I had a good time with this game because it was proof that Speedfreakz actually work when I’d never seen it before.

I voted this guy best painted for this model alone.

Game Four

Game four was against a Stygies Admech player with some Kastelan Dakkabots, some Charge Chickens, destroyers, a bunch of rangers, and 2 dunecrawlers. This was the first table I’d played on and I went into try-hard mode fast, which I feel a little bad about because I was playing in the 1 – 2 bracket so I was really just punishing someone who I normally wouldn’t want to play against anyway, but he was super cool about it and just asked for advice at the end.

His deployment was to get line of sight on where I deployed, but didn’t really account for where I could be after my first turn.

I gated my paladins up beside the stack of crates where he couldn’t see them with any of the shooting after Sanctuary, Hammerhand, and Astral Aim went off. My strike team shot the ranger team on top of the crates off the table, then Psybolt ammunition let my paladins kill the whole destroyer unit with Draigo’s rerolls. I failed the charge into his chickens, but he charged me on his turn and ended up losing all his chickens when I fought back twice.

On turn 2 I deepstruck my paladins, warlord, and ancient to behind the pile of much larger steel containers and gated voldus across the table to join in. I put Sanctuary, Hammerhand, and Astral aim on the big unit. My smaller paladin unit shot his ranger team off the steel boxes, and my big paladin unit shot his 10 man Engineer unit off of his objective in the corner. I then made a charge with the paladins using one of his characters as an anchor to be able to make a 12″ charge into his kastelan robots, and fighting twice killed both the character AND all 4 dakkabots.

On Turn 3 I charged in and killed 3 tech priests with my paladins, and piled in to both of his dunecrawlers – locking one in combat so I’d get a kill in his turn.

We talked out the rest of the game with me intentionally only killing 1 unit/turn so I could keep scoring the bonus instead of tabling him and only getting 4 primary points/round.

I won this game 39 – 11, and ended day 1 with a 2 – 2 record.

The dude I was playing was super friendly and we chatted about what he could have done differently, which is normal, but a lot of people keep making the same mistakes anyway. I watched most of his game 6 and he took all my advice to heart and kicked the ass of some Thousand Sons player by positioning his dakkabots to see down firing lanes better and using rangers to screen instead of risking eating a charge on his important stuff, so that was cool.

Game 5

In Game 5 I played against a Valiant, and 2 Castellans.

We rolled up Vanguard Strike again, and he went first. There was nothing big enough to hide my paladins behind, but I did manage to hide all 3 strike teams.

I’d learned my lesson from my game against chaos and gave my paladins Gate of Infinity and my strikes Hammerhand, Gate of Infinity, and Sanctuary. I actually deepstruck all my characters in this game and left everything else on the table in this game so I wouldn’t get characters assassinated by shieldbreakers.

Turn 1 he moved his castellans out to get LOS on my paladins and started shooting them, killing 6. I responded by buffing up the other unit and gating them onto the objective on the right side of the picture behind the ruins so they couldn’t be shot.

Neither of us killed anything but I held more.

Turn 2 he finished off the wounded paladin unit and charged the unhurt paladin unit through the wall to contest the objective, but with Sanctuary and Hammerhand I only lost 2 paladins and popped 3 CP to fight twice to kill his Castellan. He blew up with a strategem and killed another paladin and a half.

I then deepstruck all my characters 9″ away from his Castellan, but more than 18″ away the Valiant so he couldn’t use the flamer to overwatch, and dropped my apothecary on the top left objective. I tried to charge with my Paladins and lost 3 guys to overwatch, and failed the rerollable charge, after buffing everything up and smiting the castellan a handful of times, but made the charge with Draigo, Voldus, and the Brother Captain. They killed the knight, and he blew up with a strategem again rolling 6 MW to kill my ancient outright, and bringing Draigo down to 3 wounds, Voldus down to 3 wounds, and my Brother Captain down to 2. He also brought me down to 1 Paladin with only 1 wound left.

He Killed More but I held More.

Turn 3 he couldn’t come close enough to shoot my paladin with anything without leaving the only objective he held so he unloaded into Draigo and killed him.

I gated my paladin into a ruin to make a 9″ charge without overwatch, and Sanctuaried Voldus just in case. My Brother Captain moved to 8″ away from the Valiant and Voldus got to about 3″ away. I couldn’t keep the paladin within 6″ of the brother captain to reroll the charge without having them outside the ruin so I just risked it and rolled a 2″ on the charge for them. Failing that, I had to dive in through relic flamer overwatch with Voldus, who made a bunch of 3++ invulns and the Brother Captain made his rerollable 8″ charge. The 2 of them put in enough wounds to score me max points for kingslayer, but Voldus made all his saves when the Valiant stomped back so I couldn’t spend my last CP to fight again.

In turn 4 the Valiant fell back and killed both Voldus and the Brother Captain, and rather than risk dying for the kill I just gated my paladin away to the objective I gated them onto turn 2, and the Valiant was too far away to shoot anything without leaving the objective for the rest of the game, but if he’d left I would have gated a strike team over for the bonus point and an extra point for Ground Control at the end, so he decided to just pass the rest of his turns, as did I.

I won this game 23 – 19.

Game Six

Game six I played against another GK player with Draigo, a Brother Captain, an Apothecary, 10 Paladins, a 10 man purifier unit, and 3 land raiders.

With more terrain I feel like I could easily have won this game, but as it was there was nowhere to block LoS from any of the landraiders in my deployment zone, so I had to basically abandon it and try to take center table and start scoring the bonus early to get a point lead and hope to make some good charges, but I failed the advance roll to get my ancient on the right objective by 1″ turn 1 so failed to get the bonus turn 1, and failed the 9″ charge for my paladins after gating them, and then failed a whole lot of 4++ saves with sanctuary and lost half the paladin unit to lascannons, and he gated a landraider into my deployment zone to kill my Apothecary so he killed more.

Turn 2 I dropped my paladins on the left side 9″ away from a land raider with the brother captain on the objective and moved my ancient onto the objective and surrounded them with strikes and used my other 2 strike teams to zone out his paladins coming in from killing a character that turn. My wounded paladin unit had to stay where they were to keep him from moving a landraider and targeting Voldus, but my new unit failed their rerollable 9″ charge. On his turn 2 he dropped paladins and shot a strike team to death and disembarked purifiers out of the landraider I tried to charge but got denied both smites. He finished off my half-strength paladin unit, and didn’t charge with the purifiers, he just used them to keep me 9″ from the landraider.

Turn 3 I shot both purifier units to death and failed the 9″ rerollable charge AGAIN, and gated a strike team to protect my ancient again after moving my ancient further back, and charged 2 strike marines into the landraider that he’d put on my objective to take it and stop it from shooting. He gated the land raider I had tried to charge across the table to kill that strike marine after falling back with his own landraider, and after killing the strikes around my ancient with shooting, made a 10″ charge with his paladins to kill my ancient.

At that point he was holding more and killing more and I lost 4 of my remaining paladins to his lascannons so I just conceded rather than fight against terrain for another hour for an extra 3 points while I was ranked in the middle of the pack.

The other Grey Knight player was a super awesome dude, and seemed to feel bad about how cold my dice were on saves in the first couple turns and about the table we got since he could see everything on the table with his Landraiders every turn. He thought he was going to lose until he saw what table we were on, which makes sense since I thought I would win until I saw the table. It really sucks fighting terrain instead of your opponent, and even though there was nothing I could do I still think my list is better than his list, because it has more potential whereas his is basically just going to sit there and shoot you with landraiders.

His has more shooting than my list, but nowhere near as much shooting as other lists with a similar mentality, so whereas I can compete with anything on a table with enough terrain to hide for a little while his list just loses to some lists outright.

Final Thoughts

The Northern Ontario meta is super boring, with the dude who won best general playing a Tau List with just like 9 tanks. People don’t bring TAC lists because they don’t have enough terrain to stay alive to use all the tools they bring. It’s more a statistics game and hoping you go first so you can shoot the other guy off the table instead of a tactical game where you have to outplay your opponent, which I found really disappointing. I don’t know if I’d go to the Basement Open again next year, but I do know that if I did it wouldn’t be with that list.

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