BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

40K: Battle for Salvation GT – A Jawa-Report

19 Minute Read
Oct 12 2011

Home and Exhausted, I decided to write up my review of The Battle for Salvation while it was fresh in my mind.

The BFS is a Nova style GT put on by the White Plains NY gaming club with the same name.  Aptly named because they used to play in the White Plains Salvation Army building!  Trying to grab a good date that does not interfere with other area GTs is a difficult thing.  When looking for a date to put on theirs, the club noticed Columbus Day weekend was wide open.  There had to be a reason!  Would no one play 40k on a holiday weekend?

Well, with bold assertiveness, the club threw their first GT last year with resounding success.  This year, they looked to top their efforts.  First, they got a much bigger and better place for the event, a large gathering room at the Palisades Mall.  This place had it all.  Hotels were really close, and loads of food and bars were on hand.  The venue is just about the best available in the NY area!  (It is a VERY expensive place to do anything.) Finding a place like Palisades mall for the price is great.  
Of course a place with a combined Hotel and Convention Space is ideal, but sometimes geographic locations and prices prohibit this. The location for the BFS was as good as it gets.
The good part? I don’t have to complain about yet another hotel!  
On Friday, there was a doubles tournament going on while the guys finished setting up the event. 10 teams entered. I could not because I had to work that day, but I did arrive midway through game two and helped out as a rules and paint judge.  Bill Mcfadden and his girlfriend won Best Painted team army. (Sorry Bill’s girl I cannot remember your name. 🙁  
Friday night was great because every one was arriving and reporting in like Mike Brandt and Joe Johnson. We all headed over to Buffalo Wild Wings, which shared the top floor of the mall, and commenced with the booze! You learn a lot about some one over wings and beer. For example, Mike Brandt used to make a living out of training dolphins and diving into rich peoples fish tanks to clean them. 
Both he and Joe share a special affinity for fish. The passion in their conversation almost became obsessive. Weirdly obsessive. 
This reminded me of the girl I saw Brandt sneaking to his room at The Nova.
So the night wore on and I found myself crashing with Bob Evers. Great guy. But I think I won the snore/fart contest. I did not have a hotel room for the weekend since I live in driving distance, but did bring my air mattress just in case I drank too much. It was great knowing that the members of our community are so helpful and open. Bob didn’t think twice about offering me a space. I set up my air mattress right in front of the AC where I like it, and slept like a noisy flagellant baby. 

Day One:

The format of the GT was based on Nova Style. There were four games scheduled for Saturday and a configuration for Sunday that I had never seen before.  Last year on Sunday you had to qualify to play. (I did not.) If you did not do well enough, you were unable to play on Sunday unless you wanted to play Apocalypse. (I did not.)  If I had traveled last year to play in a one day tournament I would not have been happy. Thankfully Bob and Ed did away with that with good and bad results. More on that later.
Only 5 games mattered towards things like Ren Man and Best Sportsman.  The four on Saturday and the first game on Sunday.  
While we were setting up, Joe Johnson and I were joking about how we have been dogging each other for over a year now with him winning Best Painted at every GT we were both at, and us having never played. Sure enough, it happened. I scored Joe as my first round opponent. 
Joe was a good opponent and put up a valiant fight. His army is indeed beautiful. But he was about to get beat down like a carrot top and didn’t even know it.
Joe, like me, has gone with an army that looks great on the table but may not play as well. However, my army is designed to gobble up armies like Joe’s like a candy coated after dinner mint.  Or in Joe’s case, a handful of skittles.
Why are there no Salmon colored skittles?
Taste the Rainbow?
Joe’s army is all about the drop pods. He has a dreadnought, Vulkan, and lots of guys coming out of pods with butt loads of melta and flamer. There is one problem. You have to get close to use these. Not a good thing when my entire army assaults you at initiative 5+ with 70 or so power weapon hits.  
To be fair to Joe, he had no clue about the brutality of my list. It is very good at one thing – killing Space Marines. Notice how I did not say “power armor” since GKs eat me for breakfast.  I did a video batrep so I wont spend much more time on this now, but to be short with it, he did his best. He dropped his pods right into my meat grinder but whiffed big with his melta on my Land Raider. Then it was all over.  Sorta like this guy…
I hate skittles you noob…
Joe was amazed at the lethal efficiency of my army. I was amazed that he rivaled myself in the rolling of 1s. We kept track of who rolled the most 1s.  I won the contest simply because as the game wore on, I was rolling bigger handfulls of dice, and he was rolling smaller and smaller amounts. But we both had our share of epic fails. I think with his Terminators he had to make 3 saves, and rolled 3 ones. I rolled three separate 1s in a row testing for dangerous terrain.  We both sucked! I think we shall have to have a rematch to get to the bottom of it.  Joe – you still owe me a beer. So I massacred him, earning the biggest win of round one.
That set me up with what should have been the weakest winner of round one… Boy was I wrong.
Round Two:
I found myself against my old nemesis Sean Nayden.  He has beaten me every time we played. He would make this no exception. He was playing foot Dark Eldar. Essentially a list where with the exception of my two HQ units, every unit in his army was better at assault than my best.  And he even had tricks to deal with my HQs.  It’s bad enough that I have to score an initiative 8 just to get the drop on his HQ with Mephiston, but then he has powers that reduce him to ZERO attacks, then has a shank that instant kills him if he wounds.  I dodged the bullet on the instant kill, but come on!  The game went downhill fast as his Beast hordes gobbled up wounds like it was their job, and his Talos engines ate my squishy troops for dinner.  

Tabled – Owwwww!

Round Three:
I was up against Jeff from BFS and his Space Wolves.  This game would be a pleasure to play. Jeff was a fair and skilled opponent.  And like it should be, the game was close with the outcome in doubt til the very end.  I got the win.
Round Four:
I found myself up against Neil from The 11th Company and his Grey Knights. It is always a pleasure to talk with Neil and I love what he does for the community. But I hate his army. 🙂 First of all, Neil would go on to win BFS 2011 Tournament Champion, and he was a really nice guy, even apologetic for the beating he was giving me.  But our game? Complete domination. Almost a flawless victory for him. It is saying something for a codex when you can out assault just about one of the nastiest assault armies a Space Marine player can put on the table, while still shooting 24+ twin linked STR 7/8/9 shots a turn with some of them rending.  Sure, he won BFS… but I have to raise the question to all guys playing this stuff. Is the win satisfying? I mean, I have seen armies like the “leaf blower” variants being called “point and click” but never really agreed with that. I can say with certainty that the moniker can be applied to the army Neil was playing. 
I might not play on the ETC team, but I am no slouch. And yes as Joe found out, my army can be hard as nails and stink of cheese. But that strength comes at great cost, almost no shooting.  Neil’s army made me look like a noob playing in my first tournament. There was zero tactic involved with playing it. He deployed with his razor wall protecting his Land Raiders from my one Scout Missile Launcher. Then on his turn he moved out to take shots, and really needed not move again the rest of the game.  I knew it was going to be brutal, but I was going to try to simply outlast his shooting while using my Land Raider for cover and hopefully immobilizing/destroying his razorbacks, then use my surviving marines and expensive HQs to jump around and take/contest table quarters which were the primary objective, then hope for tie breakers.  Even a single marine counts as if his entire squad was still alive.  So I would only need a few models left on the table to have a chance.  
Sadly, there was no place to block line of sight and hide. And at the end of turn two, my Land Raider was dead to a rending assault cannon with psy bolts, and my scout snipers were dead as well as most of an assault squad.  
With that Neil and I conferred that my strategy was about the best I could attempt with my army, and it was not going to work.  So I charged. The next turn every thing was dead when his assassins came pouring out of his Land Raiders.  His HQs grenades reduced mine to Initiative 1 and the assassins proceeded to slaughter all of my Termies and both HQ units.
Not since the days of Fritz showing me how to play the game but not telling me that Starcannons slaughter marines out of cover have I been so out classed.  It was like Operation Iraqi Freedom.
To be fair to Neal, he did lose a game. A guard player got the drop on him turn one and had the fire power to reduce his effectiveness enough to outlast him on the table and win by a few victory points in tie breaker. And yes, in the last game vs Mike Brandt’s guard Neal actually had to play his army in a tight game for the win. (I believe before the BFS Brandt had never lost a tournament game with his guard list.)
Neal vs Brandt for the win!
To be clear on this, I am not bemoaning Neal for playing his army. I like and respect him. I am a strong supporter of playing the most whacked out army your codex can provide. Like when we sent the 1992 Dream Team to Barcelona. It was time to show the world that we did indeed have the cheesiest book. I also made the choice to play an unbalanced army with model choice decided by what I could paint well in order to win Best Painted. Neil came to win BFS, and brought the right list to do it. If winning the BFS really mattered to me I could simply do what Neal and many many others have done, build a GK army, spray it silver with a few colors to meet the 3 color minimum, and blast away. Minimal effort, big win. Glancing up at my shelf, I see the mountain of GK stuff I have accumulated from winning local tournaments. I think I may have to start cracking…  

Lessons Learned

To sum up all of this GK stuff, it is just an example of extreme codex creep. The GK book is essentially a book designed for a different game than Tau, Eldar and most of the current books. Sure they won’t win every tournament. Some books can compete like Guard, and Wolves when the game of paper/rock/scissors goes in their favor. But when a 100 point unit of basic humans can slaughter the best assault forces in the best assault army the imperium has to offer, that is a balance issue. I mean, why have Space Marines at all, when you can breed billions of Assassins and team them with Acolytes in psy backs for next to nothing and obliterate any other race in existence. 
Aside from that, I had a good time playing Neal. I knew coming into the BFS that I was simply going to get tabled if I encountered an army like his. I accepted that and we moved on and had fun.  Which really is what tournaments are about. Remove yourself from your drive to win once in a while, and simply enjoy playing a game with a good dude, and I honestly think that Neal will agree with just about every thing I just typed. I think he felt a little bad playing his own army.
That wrapped up day one for me, I finished at 2-2.  I packed it up and went to TGI Fridays with Bill McFadden, then drove home so that I could wake up in the morning and play with the Jawa-baby. 
Day Two:
This brings me to the big glaring negative I encountered at The BFS.  And yes, it was a big deal.  Day two was single elimination, and you had to enter it.  Every one had to play the first game of the day and Ren Man was supposedly decided after that 5th game. But was it really? I don’t recall if sportsmanship was taken into consideration for game 5. We were all divided into sub brackets like at Nova, but this time, if you lost, you went home. Or played in a 500 point kill team tournament. If you won you went on.  But this was the problem. What if you have no interest in Kill Team? Best sportsman was decided on Saturday night after Game Four. (So I guess was Ren Man?) If you were a guy who thought he had a chance at taking that award, but lost your first game on Sunday, you had to hang around for roughly 8 hours to find out. Sure you could pass some of that time with the KT tournament, but many players simply decided it was not worth it and left. 
Some guys had a 6 hour drive ahead of them or worse. Also, there were the painting awards. I was a finalist for each of the three categories, Best Army, Best Single Mini and Best Conversion.  But I was done playing at 2:30.  I would have to wait around for 6 hours to find out if I won any thing.  The issue was compounded by the fact that my wife was calling me every 20 minutes asking me to come home because the baby was going nuts. 
At the end of the night, Brandt and Neil were allowed to play out their entire game past the time limit while every one sat and waited for them to finish. Some of us had been sitting around waiting for 5 or more hours.  I am all for socializing and enjoying good company, but enough was enough. 
What is the answer? Like Nova, I say less games. But definitely, get rid of the single elimination and forced Kill Team stuff.  Absolutely do not replace it with apocalypse.  I believe it is becoming clear as GTs try to pack in more and more games that bigger is NOT always better. The Nova win/loss format is good in theory, equating 40k to the NCAA tournament in a way with brackets and such. But to be done right it requires more high pressure games of 40k than most guys can handle in a span of 48 hours.  I can’t wait for Mechanicon where we only play 5 games! In a five game GT you rarely see guys dropping out of game five despite the fact that they have no chance to win.  But at both Nova and BFS there were a number of day two drop outs which ruin the point of having so many games to begin with. The number of games is chosen to create a theoretically perfect winner. But drop outs force the fudging of those numbers. If you are going to have to fudge numbers because of drop outs for so many games, have less games and get less drop outs.  
I think it is time to start cutting back on the number of games in a tournament guys.  Have the doubles/trios on Friday, then run a 5 game GT, and lets call it a weekend. We all leave fat, dumb and happy by 3pm on Sunday and make it home for dinner with the wife, making her happy too.  Happy wife happy life. 

Game Five
I was up against yet another 11th Company member, Steve.  He was playing Logan Wing wolves and we looked at each other and smiled. We knew it was going to be a good game.  I had the advantage in assault. He had me in shooting. I had to get across the table with enough surviving forces to cut through his army. He also only had 10 kill points. (13 if I failed to kill his lone wolves. Yah right, he was not going to let me.)  I had to win by three, so if I gave up 8 of my 12 kill points, the game would go to tie breakers.  Something like that any way.  
After getting owned, in game four, game five turned out to be my most enjoyable game of the weekend. It was DOW Kill points and he went first. We deployed minimal stuff and he came onto the table spanning his board edge.  I think he thought I would come right down the middle. He set up a nearly symmetrical board entry with logan in the middle with long fang laz, and the rest of his long fangs in the opposite corner from Mephiston.  I wrote about this not long ago. I use Mephiston for battlefield control.  A very subtle way to make up for his big point cost.  He was the only model I deployed and I put him in my extreme right corner with blocked LoS and Steve and I spoke about his assault range. I wanted to plant that seed of doubt in his head. Would I assault with Meph turn one? I wanted his long fangs far away because I intended to skirt the right board edge with my assault marines to get across the table, then work my way down his line.  Sure enough, Steve put his fangs in the opposite side. 
When I came on I hugged the right edge with my raider, and piled in my assault marines behind it and some ruins. Half of Steve’s missiles were out of the game.  I am not saying I mind gamed or any nonsense like that. But I do believe that the position of Mephiston helped put those missiles where they were, which is right where I wanted them.  I could not have all of those missiles pounding me for two full turns.
Now I had a chance of making it across the board with less than half of his missiles able to reach me.
I still had to get lucky.
I rolled up my raider another 12″, hugging the right edge of the table, and popped smoke. It was now in the open.  I left it in an angle to get the most benefit from it for my assault marines.  For another round the only thing his missiles would have to really shoot at would be my sniper scouts. He failed to kill them all, and eventually they would hide then claim an objective and corner.  
On turn three I made my move.  I estimated that I would have enough range to assault one of his big squads from my raider, so I moved up and disembarked, tank shocking one of his lone wolves in the process and killing it.  Upon disembarking, I realized though that I was going to be short. Not willing to chance it I assaulted another lone wolf instead, barely killing it then leaving my boys exposed. My assault troops finished off the third. I did not need them bogging me down.  And yes, my termies would have been a half inch short.  Close but no cigar!  
My combat scouts came in out flanked behind his far long fangs and now he had to make a choice. Shoot the scouts, or use those missiles to hit my tightly packed marines that were finally in range.  He went for the marines, but only killed a handful. He also had to make the choice between shooting his tank hunter las at my raider or exposed termies. He chose the raider… and only stunned it. Phew.  
His shooting failed to dent my exposed termies so he assaulted them with Logan and a big squad, killing a couple but taking heavy losses.  On my turn, I jumped every one up and went to work. I made it to his lines at nearly full strength.  Very soon the las fangs, logan and co, and another large squad were dead or near death. Also my combat scouts started the first of three straight turns locked in with a squad of missile long fangs. 
Steve tried his best to slow down my advance, he only needed to score a couple kill points to force a tie breaker, but in the end he realized that the game was going to go to me so just charged instead to his doom. 
The turning point was turn two when he failed to kill my raider after penning it with 3 las hits. That allowed me to move it one more time and use it as a spring board in open terrain.  
If we could have assigned favorite opponent votes in game five, I would have given it to Steve. We both agreed that it was a truly enjoyable and tactical game of 40k between two balanced forces.  The way it was meant to be played.  
This is getting long so I will wrap it up.  I lost my next game after a center field slug fest against some Death Wing termies.  Then began waiting for the results.  
What were the results you ask?  Well, Neal won Tournament Champion and Brandt won runner up and Ren Man.  Well done to both. 

The Paint Judging (what really matters) 🙂

First of all, before the BFS I had to repair damage suffered at The Nova.
The Sanguinors sword took damage on the tip, as well as some of his details like the blood drops on his chest and back.
I also had to repair a wing whos feather tips broke.  
After some work he was good as new.  
Well maybe not good as new as his sword did not look as good as it did the first time, but I was still happy with it.  
I tried to get good pics of all of the finalists. Here we go. Sorry for not showing more, the rest were blurry. Sorry Brother Captain James!


Winner Best Painted Single Mini 
Joe Johnson



Wish I had more pics but I only had a crappy pocket cam and just getting these required dozens and dozens of tries.  
And to the victor…
I have been shut out of winning another major GT Best Painted for quite a while. Finally I bring one home again.  Considering the competition I was up against… it is most satisfying indeed. Which is another point I want to quickly discuss. For me, painting is just as much a competition as playing.  Joe and Bob Evers and myself were discussing it. We have a friendly rivalry going on where we constantly try to top each other.  We push each other to get better. Bob with his hand painting, me with my blending and now Joe has to pick it up with his display.  I think I have set the bar on display boards and Bob is right there. Joe’s is boring compared to ours which is probably what made the difference!  But Joe has something cooking in the background and I can only imagine what it will look like. Cant wait til next time!
Overall I am guessing I was in the top five or ten for Ren Man consideration and had a great weekend.
The Battle for Salvation was well run and efficient. Bob and Ed were forced to make some difficult rules calls, but tried their best to make decisions based on sound reason rather than knee jerk response.  For that I applaud them.  The tournament format needs some improvement but was a definite upgrade from the previous year.  So long as we keep getting better right?  I pointed out what I thought was a glaring negative, but I also suggest a way to improve it.  The point is that the issue is fixable.  I think that the BFS is a good addition to the 40k GT circuit and once they get the bugs banged out they will be joining the ranks of the elite. Adepticon was not built in a day.  
Ok, fingers hurt and I need to go snuggle with the wife.  
I have some hobby and painting articles for the noob coming up.  Stay tuned!


  • HOBBY: A Bit of Nothing, Too: October Terrain