As 40k Players, dice are an intrinsic part of any game we play. Over the long run the expectation is that they’ll balance out and that you can account for a roughly even amount of 1s, 2s and 6s over the course of a game.
The issue that inevitably comes from that is the variance. Play enough games and you’ll begin to the the extreme highs and the extreme lows of any action. However many times I’ve rolled two dice with a reroll, there’s easily 1300 of those, I’ve played hundreds or thousands of games of warhammer. So when that double one into double one happened on the top table of the North East Open this weekend, while it hurt my soul on a deep level,and in theory costing me my first major win, it was bound to happen eventually. I’m sure I’ve rolled 2 ones into ones in the bulk of a shooting phase before, or on a less impactful charge. It’s happened before and it will happen again. Such is life when rolling large numbers of dice.
So in lieu of complaining about the lovely Mike Porter being a complete lucksack and having me fail both of the most important charges I declared all weekend, I want to talk about why I didn’t lose this game because of bad dice, poor luck, or anything other than the terrible strategic play on the worst turn of 40k I’ve ever played, my turn one. Because that’s way more interesting, and I think it helps illustrate a point that I hear almost all of the top players echo.
You didn’t lose because of your dice, you lost because you put yourself in a position where the dice mattered.
This is a tale of how I fucked up the only thing I could control, and then didn’t even try and bail myself out.
On the stream provided by Hellstorm Wargaming, at some point on my turn 1, you’ll see me measure a bunch of distances from Mike’s advance deploy units, in order to prevent him from being able to use Souls of Iron to deny my astral aim, or the edict imperator that I didn’t even decide to cast. This would have allowed me to use the squad of 10 Paladins to pick up my turn 1 kill, hopefully my butcher's bill, and also clear out some of Mike’s screening units to allow me to bring in my reserves in more effective positions.
To this end, I moved the squad of 10 Paladins backward, and the Librarian with them. Conveniently into full line of sight of 9 Eliminators and 2 Chaplain Dreadnoughts. And out of cover. Then with Astral Aim, allowing me to shoot out of line of sight, ignoring cover and with masses of 2D bolter fire, didn’t shoot the 3 man squads of Eliminators. Just shot something else. Not only would these squads have been easier to kill, and not have cost me my t1 butchers, which I didn’t max, it left the Eliminators alive. This resulted in a net loss of 1pt for me.
And then Mike's turn starts. 9 Eliminators pick up my Librarian to the surprise of absolutely nobody, costing me a t1 kill that Mike never would have achieved without some insane dice on indirect fire, losing me my perils protection in the form of the Librarian’s relic, (allowing me to change the result of a dice once per turn) and my CP generation. This also was Mike’s only kill for that turn, and the only kill that I gave up on t1 in the entire event.
So that’s an extra point to Mike, we now tie on kills so I lose out on scoring kill more. Net that’s a 3pt swing. Just that play alone of shooting the Eliminators brings this game to a 26/26 draw if everything continued exactly the same elsewise. And I’d have had an extra Librarian. Now consider if I just move without going into LoS of the chaplain dreads, which would have been perfectly easy.
On games with margins like this, at the top of competition you can’t afford to be making mistakes like I did. And I want to warn of hyperfixation. I focussed too much on the souls of iron, and as such the units projecting it. Ignoring the Eliminators despite the much more imminent threat. I exposed key elements for a marginal upside, and it cost me a tournament in the realest sense.
It’s very easy for me, and for everyone who was commenting on the game, who spoke to me afterward, who’s heard the story, or seen the clips to place this game on the charges that I failed. But it’s my fault for putting the game on those charges when I didn’t have to.
But hey, that’s not as good a story is it?
Congratulations to Mike Porter who played out the game following my mistakes like a champ. I made him work for that win and he really is as good as his record says. Congratulations to Konrad Bartkiewicz for his event win, and a massive thanks to Ricci Lowe for running the event and Hellstorm Mikey for the amazing stream coverage which allows me to relive the epic highs and lows of a game of toy soldiers that I put way more pressure on that I'm willing to admit sometimes.