I put "semi-competitive" in quotes because while it's touted as such by the shop and the organizers every year, some folks abide by the spirit and some...don't.
I brought my Ultramarines on what I declared as their "swan song" as a primary force. Yes, I'm holding on to my Ultramarine models until I can subsume them with Raven Guard, but they'll never be the primary force for my army again. I'll expand on the reasons later in this post.
My list was a Demi Company made of a Captain and Command Squad in a Razorback, three ten-man Tacticals in Rhinos, a 10-man Assault Squad with jump packs, and a 10-man Devastator Squad with missiles. Joining that formation was a Strike Force Command formation of a 9-man Honour Guard unit with a banner, relic-bladed Champion. Half had swords, and half had axes. They were led by a Chaplain, and all rode in a drop pod. Nothing overwhelming, and nothing abusive. I didn't opt to min/max with 5-man squads in a metric assload of free transports, because I'm not a huge fan of 5-man squads, nor do I own any additional transport models.
My first game was against Orks, which I haven't seen on a table in a very long time. The list was several units of Tankbustas, Boyz, and Lootaz in Trukks, a unit of Grots, and several units of Bikerz. The core of the army was a massive unit of 14 Bikerz, joined by a Painboy and Warboss on bikes, all led by another special Warboss on a bike who gave them all Skilled Rider and Scout.
We duked it out for only two and a half turns until time was called, with the win going to the Orks. I was rusty and play terribly slow with such a high points level, so I think I lost sportsmanship points as a result.
Game Two was against Tyranids. I don't remember the exact makeup of the force. I just remember that he had no duplicate units, and had GENESTEALERS. That made my day, seeing Genestealers actually played and enjoyed. We got a full four turns before game end, tied, with the Nids player taking some additional points on secondary objectives.
My last game of the day was against a Krieg army heavy in infantry and artillery units, backed up by a Baneblade. I steamrolled a tired and seemingly uninterested opponent. It had been a loooong day. My Honour Guard killed 80% or more of the infantry in his army single-handedly, though I think he took a bit of a fascination in seeing how many men it would take to drown them in blood and body parts.
I did poorly in battle points, and had less than perfect sportsmanship points. That was a first for me, and stung the whole way home and a little of this morning until I realized it was likely because I was so damn slow in my play. Who knows? Less than half the field had perfect sports scores, which is a HUGE departure from all but the very first Standoff.
I was awarded Second Best Army, which was a collation of Painting, Sportsmanship, Pub Quiz, and Favorite Opponent votes. There was some low grumbling from various players regarding their paint scores in relation to others' scores, and I'll freely admit I had a couple grumbles of my own, but those grumbles have been there for each of the five years the event has run. Anything from "How did an army without 100% of its models fully painted get THAT score?!" to "That guy just uses airbrush and washes!" have been voiced over the years. I've had to judge painting personally on two or more occasions, and it is HARD to be consistent across a 40 point scale. So no shade thrown at the judges by me, just some bruised ego on my part.
I achieved the one goal I had for myself on the day though, that being winning the Best Painted Squad category in the painting competition with my Ultramarine Command Squad. Mission accomplished!
There is one huge, glaring lesson that I take from the Standoff though, and that is that the Space Marine Demi Company formation is the most boring thing that has ever bored a player. I've actually been running a list of that type for several years off an on, and I thought that with new rules that support the build it would be more fun. Wrong. So wrong. The Demi Company (and even moreso the Gladius built with a double Demi), is a big bag of yawns thrown in a river of suck. Does it win games? Yes, it does. Does it appeal to me any longer? Not on your life.
I sat down in each of my three games and explained to my opponents what the Demi did, and what all my Ultramarines Doctrines did, and I watched their eyes glaze over. As I lay in bed last night trying to sleep, I realized that an ObSec Marine with a bolter is the worst thing ever. It has no special skills, no interesting stats/attacks, etc. Its role on the field is to exist, take up space, and not die while either sitting inside a Rhino or moving around 6" at a time and taking cover or pot shots with a mediocre weapon. I don't want to aim to win my games simply by existing, I want to win them by outmaneuvering, attacking, falling back, and generally playing more cerebrally. Ultramarines in a Demi Company play and win by Mathhammer, and I hate Mathhammer.
So, I'll be bidding a fond farewell to my Ultramarines from here on out. I picked up my copy of Kauyon, and will be painting Raven Guard from this point on, no exceptions. Ok, maybe a couple exceptions for the Grey Knight Terminators I still have kicking around here someplace, as well as some Tempestus Scions I'd like to pick up to spice things up as allies to the Sons of Corax.
I had built a squad of five Raven Guard Tactical Marines to add to my existing Scout Squad. Here's a couple WIP shots of two of the squad members (excuse the poor pics, I've still not set up my painting desk and photo area since the move to the farm):
Originally, I wanted my RG to be city fighters. Guys who are posed dynamically like they're kicking in doors and clearing rooms. Lots of gear and pouches. I chopped the arms and leg joints on every squad member, reposing them ever so slightly here and there. The sergeant in the first two pics has his legs at new angles and elevations, and the other Marine is about to pull the mag from his bolter. another non-pictured model is high-stepping over some rubble. The models without standard studded pads got scratchbuilt ones made from old third edition pads with the rims filed down and microbeads drilled in as studs. Those five Marines took a week or more of time and energy just to chop and build, and they don't really look all that great to me. The sergeant is too thin in the waist area, and the bolter Marine's hand isn't quite right in its grip or spacing. The high-stepping Marine I mentioned looks unbalanced in his run, like some sort of Khorne Berserker model.
When you combine what I feel is a failed first effort at building chop-shopped Marines with the new focus given by the Kauyon book and my sudden loathing for ObSec Tactical Marines, I'm hitting rewind on the Raven Guard machine. The squad will go into a box, and instead I'm building a Land Speeder. There are six different formations in Kauyon that involve Land Speeders. I've had one sitting in a box since the kit was recut in Fifth Edition, so it'll be my starting point. I will either build the Raptor Wing (Speeders and Stormtalons), Shadow Force (Speeder, Captain, Vanguard, Sternguard), Speartip Strike (Speeders and Bikes/Attack Bikes/Scout Bikes), or Stormbringer Squadron (Speeders and Scouts with Speeder Storms). They all have neat rules, and I can't decide quite yet.
I'm newly excited about my Raven Guard thanks to the new things Kauyon lets me do with them, and thanks to the realization that I've hit my limit with Tactical Marines, ObSec, and Doctrine rerolls. here comes a new way to play, and it dresses in black!
Now I just have to figure out how to fund purchases of so many more Land Speeders...eBay bitz selloff?