In the next few days, there is going to be a lot of posts about the results of the Las Vegas Open 40K Championship, and for good reason. It is an amazing event, with some phenomenal players, and warrants looking at to see where the game is right now when played at the highest level.
Frankly, I’ll be doing some of that writing myself, if all goes according to plan.
But there was another event going on at the same time, the 40K Friendly, which I participated in. Needless to say, this event will garner somewhat less attention, but for the interested player…what is it, and how was it?
The TL;DR Version: I had a blast, comment the guys at Frontline Gaming for putting on a great event, and would gladly go next year, schedule permitting.
The Somewhat Longer Take:
First, it’s always a good sign when people pass by the tables where you’re setting up, say “Is this the Friendly?” and when told yes, immediately reply with “Man, I should have done this instead…” And frankly, I agree with them. Taking a walk through the tournament hall toward the tables where the Friendly was taking place, I got an eye-full of the best and hardest armies out there. And they are hard. And scary. And would toss my modest force around like a rag-doll, probably resulting in a boring game for both myself and my opponent.
Which brings me to my first observation about the 40K Friendly: It wasn’t that “friendly” in terms of the armies on the table. The way I eventually ended up describing it was “The toughest armies at your local store” (assuming your local store isn’t home to a tournament team). I had expected to be, to put it bluntly, “That jerk who brought three Wave Serpents and three Hornets to the Friendly”, and to give my opponents the benefit of the doubt with things like “I forgot to do my psychic phase” because of it. Turns out, I had a pretty standard toughness list, all things considered. Everything was painted, and themed, and it was awesome, but come prepared for hard fights. Fights with Lords of Skulls, and Knights, and Wrathknights. And the jerk with three Wave Serpents and three Hornets. These are after all people still serious enough about the game to be able to field 2000 points of painted, themed miniatures, and be of the opinion that spending several hundred dollars in Vegas to play games is a good idea.
Those four hard fights were awesome however. The Friendly opponent matching algorithm was “Find someone you’ve never played, shake their hand, and find a table.” This is an excellent algorithm. I played great opponents – friendly players there for a good time, enjoying the more relaxed two-games-a-day schedule, who were in good spirits whether they were winning, losing, or we had hammered out a truly improbable tie. Long lunch breaks, chatting 40K around beautiful table layouts and admiring each other’s armies. Seriously some of the best games of 40K I’ve ever played, against armies I had never seen before. My opponents (whose names I regrettably have written down somewhere not here) had:
- A wonderfully themed Khorne daemon army with a Lord of Skulls, a Blood Thirster, a Daemon Prince, a Soulgrinder and lots of Bloodletters.
- An Iyanden Eldar list with all manner of Wrath troops, a Wrathknight, and one of the Forge World Wrathseers.
- A Salamanders Space Marine army themed around retrieving Vulkan’s relics.
- A Chaos Space Marines/Dark Mechanicum army featuring lots of Maulerfiends, Helbrutes, a Knight and some Mechanicum guys in the back cackling with glee.
Basically, some of the best games of 40K I’ve played, with some great moments that will live on in memory – Crimson Hunters making strafing runs down a long corridor, a nasty, bloody grudge match between a unit of Guardians and a unit of Tactical Marines that, despite being a small part of the game, felt really important, and running over a Bloodletter with a jetbike.
My only other word of advice is to go with someone. Your club. A friend. In my case, my brother. Your spouse. It was very helpful to have someone able to watch “home base” while someone else went to go get food, and Vegas can be a somewhat isolating experience if you’re not also looking forward to the cheap alcohol/gambling/women and/or men without much clothing on aspect to the city.
Overall rating: 9/10