The third annual Standish Standoff has come and gone, and I have some mixed feelings about it. This is going to be a long post, so be prepared.
The first thing I did when I arrived was get my army set up on my old display board. I was up the night before working on my Devastator Sergeant, and never did finish the new display box/board. If you remember, I brought a half-company of Ultramarines. Three Tac Squads in Rhinos, one Assault Squad, a Devastator Squad, Cato Sicarius and his Command Squad in a Land Raider Crusader, and an Aegis Defense Line with an Icarus Lascannon. After that, I dropped off my two entries into the painting competition: my 5-man Sternguard squad in the Squad category and my Hive Tyrant in the 60mm category.
My first game was against Daemons, an almost entirely scratch built force run by a guy I've played a couple times before. We were tied 1-1 in lifetime games. We played a kill point mission with objectives as secondary and destruction of all HQs as tertiary. It was a solid, fun game that I took primary on, we split secondary and tertiary. Technically a win for me, so now I'm up 2 games to 1. I discovered that I liked the 96" range of the Icarus, but it wasn't overly useful against the one flying monster in the Daemon list.
Second game was against a Nid list with monsters and Gaunts. Flyrant with double twinned devourers, HQ Tervigon, Troop Tervigon, 20 Devilgaunts, 20 Hormagaunts, Raveners (repurposed Warriors counts-as Raveners), Ymgarl Genestealers, the Doom in a Pod, and a Trygon Prime. Primary objective was objectives (3 on the board, each counting as a Relic from the BRB missions), secondary was kill points, and tertiary was...something I forget. There were simply too many monsters to kill off. The highlight of the game for me was using Sicarius to challenge the incoming Trygon, and lopping off its head with a Coup De Gras attack. I lost the primary, took the secondary, and I can't remember who got tertiary. The ADL was a hindrance for me in this game, blocking in my units and generally being a pain in the ass. I should have jammed it up in a far corner and forgotten about it. There's no rule that the Icarus has to be behind the line, or anywhere NEAR the line, so I could have dumped the ADL and just used the Icarus in my zone.
My final game was against the new Eldar Serpent list. Farseer on a bike accompanied by a bunch of Warlocks on bikes with all the buff powers (+Armor, +Cover, Guide, Fortune, blah blah), three minimum sized Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents with scatter lasers, minimum Fire Dragons in a Serpent with scatter lasers, a Fire prism, and the obligatory Wraithknight with sun cannon and scatter lasers. It was the first time I had played against the new Eldar. Before this game, I'd told the folks who complained loudest about Serpent Spam that it wasn't that bad.
It is that bad.
My opponent was a nice guy, but the army is absolutely zero fun to play against. Every weapon on every unit that isn't buttoned up inside a transport is twin linked or made twin linked with Guide. If it doesn't put out 12 shots of some type a turn, it's an AP3 or better blast weapon. All at long range. After the first turn and Night Fight expired, I felt like I might as well just ask which units should be removed from the board each turn. It would have saved time. My fluffy army that took a comp hit to perfectly represent a Codex formation put up no resistance whatsoever to an army that managed a perfect comp score while still building the most soul-sucking list possible.
I find that this happens to me in every large event/tourney I go to. I have two good games, and then the day is given a black eye when I face a list like this in the final round. I've had it happen with Grey Knights, Necrons, and now Eldar.
At the end of the day was the awards ceremony (duh, lol). I somehow managed second place with my Sternguard, and was very surprised. There were squads I felt were better than mine.
My Hive Tyrant also took second, and again I was surprised.
I made the drive home feeling...dissatisfied? I can't tell if it's because that last game sent me home feeling abused and taken advantage of, or if it was an inadvertent deflation of ego from the Hive Tyrant not taking top spot in its category. One minor thing I noticed is that some of the efforts I put in for others' sakes go unnoticed. Last month at Shocktober, I wrote a way-too-long story into for my army and attached it to my army list. I think it contributed to my Dorka's Choice award, but my actual opponents, bar one, showed no interest in it. Yes, it was long, and I can understand not wanting to sit down with it before a game. So for the Standoff, I took a different approach. I grabbed some quotes from the Codex Astartes that described each unit in the army and its role, and a Marneus Calgar quote that made the transition to the army itself. I stapled that sheet to the FRONT of each copy my army list that I gave to my opponents. Only one had any interest in it. One flipped it without a passing glance, and one tore it off entirely. Only the first player kept the copy of the list I gave out. The others left it on the table when they left.
Is that the wrong place for an army into? The wrong time? I'm not sure. When I get things like that, I either read them during deployment/setup, or if they're long I read them after the game. If my opponents give me a list to keep, I keep it.
I think my malaise comes from the general question of "Why do I bother with this?" I have always been a proponent of the "social contract" of wargaming. The game involves two people, each of whom is playing a game. For fun. when I build armies for events, I want them to be fun and interesting to play against. A half-company might be boring to some, so I attempt to use fiction or quotes to help explain WHY the army even exists on the table. I'm putting forth great effort in painting, building a list, and including fiction or fluff for both myself and my opponent. When I play the game and get what I interpret as "that's cute, shut up and roll dice," it hurts my tender feelings. The whole lead-in to the event feels like wasted effort if I face a list designed purely to kick teeth, or the effort I expend is dismissed due to indifference. You cannot pick your opponents in a 40-man randomly paired event, but I guess I was hoping for a larger percentage of the field to contain like-minded individuals.
Where do I go from here? Do I continue to expend heart and energy on efforts that may or may not be noticed or appreciated by my opponents, or do I just stop and roll the damned dice? Do I shed the willingness to play within the universe of the game, and just play the hardest list I can? Do I break my brushes and pen in frustration and throw them in the ocean?
40K is a creative outlet for me. I like the quiet times of painting and writing and imagining, but you can only throw so much out into the void before futility sets in. I do all of this stuff because it calms me down and fills a creative need, but I also do it because I want other people to share my vision and stories. I don't want to be lauded for my efforts, but I would like them at least noticed by my opponents, their intended audience.