So it’s been a week or so since the Hard Boyz semifinals. I’ve posted about Game 2 and promised I’d make time to post about Game 3. I’ve had to think about it some, given how disgusted I was about the whole thing.
My opponent was (and forgive me if I butcher this) Simonold, a casual player from Lubbock. I’m fairly sure I’ve got his name wrong but I guess that’s beside the point. He said he didn't play much this year, coming out only for Hard Boyz.
Let’s run through a quick synopsis of the game.
So we have table quarters and an objective in the middle; pretty standard stuff. I set up my Dark Reapers, screened by Pathfinders, at the extreme diagonal with a view of the objective. My Serpents and Council lined up behind cover and my Avatar was front and center; I had two units of Pathfinders on the wings. My opponent deployed in a fairly standard brick, Land Raiders up front ready to blitz forward, providing cover for more breakable units to approach behind. Each Land Raider had a 14 strong Crusader squad (mixed Initiates and Neophytes), one led by the Emperor’s Champion and the other by the High Marshal. I knew the Black Templars were going to teleport a Terminator Assault squad and land a Drop Pod with Crusaders, but I didn’t allow this to adjust my deployment much other than to lay out some bait. Both would have to deploy from reserves, so I judged it safe to assume one would arrive in Turn 2 and the other in Turn 3. My Reapers played bait and I gave him a nice big hole to land in, but when these units arrived they didn’t deploy in my backfield at all. More on this later, but this was the reason I kept my Harlequins in reserve; I didn’t want to give him an easy opportunity to take out this squad. I had the first turn; he tried to steal it but didn’t. The first two turns the armies jockeyed for position. I quickly immobilized a Land Raider and this seemed to throw him off his plan, which naturally was driving both forward and unloading two squads all over me. There was sort of a ‘No-man’s Land’ in the middle, where neither army wanted to step foot since it would give the opposition the opportunity to jump all over them. I was content with this, but it was the bottom of Turn Two when he realized he needed to break the stalemate and move forward, otherwise I was going to have an easy game of it…
(There was some discussion of this later; for the record, I would have turbo-boosted everything forward, deploying my Seer Council as a long screen against his army, backed up by Serpents and Avatar, with troops behind this holding the objective. The Seer Council is a fantastic tar-pit; even his assault-oriented Marines couldn’t have shifted all this for a win. I wouldn’t have bet against the Eldar, either, with the Avatar and Eldrad backing up the army.)
The middle game was a fight around in the center with elements of both armies held in reserve. For the record, I think he was too passive. I destroyed the Land Raider he moved forward to sit on the objective and killed the troops inside it, but this shouldn’t have stopped him from trying. When his Terminators and Drop Pod came in, he teleported the first behind his lines in relative safety and dropped the second on one of my flanks… why? Had I been in his shoes, I would have dropped the Terminators in the middle of the fray and landed the pod right on the objective. Yes, I had the tools to take care of both, but he still should have made me do it – that’s why you roll the dice during a game! Had any portion of these units survived the initial assault they would have made my life miserable. Regardless of all this speculation, we tore each other’s armies up some and tried to be the one holding the objective at the end of the game.
Here's the last pic I took. The poker chip is the objective and I'd placed the Dire Avenger in range to control it but with the squad strung out to take cover behind the close combat. This is from the last movement; after my shooting and assault phase, there wasn't as much left.
Okay, I’ve been avoiding really talking about the bullshit that happened. Let’s cut to the chase: I won the game. It wasn’t that exciting and, except for the argument at the end, I had no real trouble winning it. Simonold was a really nice guy and we both laughed and joked during the game.
That said, we were both disgusted and argumentative by the end of it, because he was one of the slowest players I’ve ever come across and he didn’t want to play the last turn.
Okay, it’s like this.
The people who played him in the first two games told me there was an issue with time, so I told him right up front that I wanted to make sure we got to Turn 5 and beyond. I was nice about it, telling him I understood he was meticulous, but that it was important we have a fair game since it would determine who went to Chicago. I made this point twice and he understood. During the game, I took very little time, hurrying through my rounds. I also played cheerleader during his turns, trying to keep him moving.
Turns 1 and the top of 2 took 15 minutes, the bottom of 2 (his turn) and Turn 3 took 1.5 HOURS. Believe me when I tell you, it wasn’t me. So now we were in a position where we began Turn 4 with about ½ hour of play left. I explained this to him and told him we could do it. After all, this is a competitive event, right? Turn 4 took 15 minutes, so we’re about to start turn 5 and we have 17 minutes left…
And he doesn’t want to play Turn 5.
Why should he? He’d taken his turn knowing he had no intention of going on, so he’d slyly placed one model to control the objective. I’d seen it, of course, but it didn’t matter to me since my Harlequins were going to kill that unit next turn. After all, I’d taken my Turn 4 with the expectation I’d get another.
Even as I write this a week later, I’m getting angry. This, more than anything else, is why tournaments have the reputation they do. The BULLSHIT people pull to win that has nothing to do with the game at hand.
I wasn’t going to stand for it. Had I known we weren’t going to get to Turn 5 I would have played Turn 4 differently. It wouldn’t have been optimal, because obviously I wanted that extra turn of shooting/assault before jumping on the objective, but I tell you truthfully I would have won regardless, barring some outrageous shift of luck. I basically had at him. I said approximately the following, “Look, this is bullshit. We got through the last turn in 15 minutes and we’ll get through this one the same. I guarantee you you’ll get your turn. But this is Hard Boyz and if you didn’t want to finish the game you have no reason to be here… Hell, this isn’t a surprise: I told you we needed to hurry, and it wasn’t me that used the bulk of two hours. My army wins in the last half of the game; you think its right to deprive me of that? Bullshit. We’ve got plenty of time, but we’ve wasted 3 minutes on this shit and I’m getting my turn. If you don’t want yours after that, fine.”
Then I moved and started telling him which dice to roll. I only moved the part of my army that mattered (and I actually forgot to move an element that was going to control a board quarter) and got done in a few minutes, leaving 10 minutes for his turn. He stood around mumbling to himself but finally got around to rolling dice.
So I won, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth. After the game he kept saying he couldn’t believe I’d ‘talked him into that,’ pointing out he had the win at the bottom of 4. I was pretty sick of the whole thing but stuck to my guns, telling him that the only turn that matters was the last one and slow-playing to avoid it was a bullshit strategy.
And make no mistake, I found out later it was his strategy. I talked to his opponents from round 1 and 2 afterward and they pointed out something I’d missed: he kept checking his watch throughout the game. He knew exactly how long he had. His game 1 got through 3 turns, which he won; the guy he beat said it was really frustrating to sit through these long turns and to lose knowing he would have won had the game gone on. The dude Simonold played game 2 said the same thing but with the twist that Simonold started playing really, really quickly when one of the random objectives fell into a bad spot for him and he needed more turns to grab it… Guess what? He then asked his opponent to start another turn with only a few minutes left on the clock.
One last thing… While I was adding up points he went to tell his sob-story to the judge, so I felt the need to call him out from across the room. Look, I’m a decent, chill guy for the most part. People tell me they enjoy playing me and I can put up with almost anything, but I’m not the kind to let something like that go. I won’t be walked on in this world, not even over a game of toy soldiers. I tell you three times, I would have taken the whole thing a LOT further.
Bottom line, you have to advocate for yourself. The tournament scene can be really cool and most people on it are decent, honest people, but the sad fact is even good judges can’t do much to the guy that’s cheating, or slow-playing, or pulling some other form of nonsense: the judge or TO only has so much authority. The best tournaments are those where the judge doesn’t tolerate such bullshit, but those are usually local events where he gets a chance to know the players and what to watch for.