Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dash of Ranting: Nova Invitational Against Stelek

Good day fine peoples of the 40k universe.

Hulksmash keeps me on a leash here (in jest at least, because I don’t flip out often). Then again, not being on Dakka and far away from stupid people probably helps me contain my fury.

At any rate, I wrote a bit about my game against Stelek in my Nova Invitational Review. I hadn't thought about it since, until today when someone linked me his battle report if we can even call it that.

Having read it, I'm truly affronted. Appreciative of his commentators that are affronted on my behalf at his sniping, but still affronted myself. So I thought I would address a few things.

First, I'm not writing this as a reply on YTTH because I'm not a member, don't want to have to subscribe to post something, and Stelek has a nasty habit of deleting things I've posted there in the past - the only posts I've made there being on nuances of DE and Ork gameplay.

Stelek said: "Not-fun Dash showed up Friday, and intentionally tried to make me miserable. Because I called you names on the internet? Really. Well, I hope to never see that side of you again, because it was…ugly. Distasteful. I was embarrassed for you."

I've only played against Stelek once before. Last year during the Whiskey Challenge at the Nova Open. Mike had made me promise to be on my best behavior, not to say anything negative...and I kept my word.

Before the event, I went looking for him to introduce myself and take his measure. I was pleasantly surprised at his attitude, and thought I might like him. During our game, he literally transformed. Openly hostile, derogatory, uncommunicative about my questions about his units/embarkations/psychic powers, telling me multiple times that I was cheating (over inocuous things like disagreeing about terrain / the famous "Is it Impassable" thing), and even going so far as to interrupt my turn, pick up my models, move them back - because he had forgotten to make an assault and wanted to go back a turn.

All of this I tolerated with gritted teeth because of my promise. But this was the Stelek I was expecting.

In the year between then and now, I'd attempted several times to give voice to ideas on his blog about something Orky or Dark Eldar related - and my posts were generally deleted. I e-mailed him a couple of times with my thoughts on an issue, and he would make an entire blog post out of it with an offensive title like "Dash being stupid again" or such which he would pick out a tiny piece of something I said, attempt to discredit it in a unique scenario unlike anything I was talking about, and then boldly claim that he had disproven me.

Eventually I gave up - disgusted that I had even attempted to influence his sphere of influence.

So imagine my surprise when Friday morning of the Invitational rolls around, and I'm paired against Stelek. And he says, "Dash, you want to bury the hatchet?"'s the deal shitpickle. Prior to just now, I've not called you a name. There it is. You're a hypocritical shitpickle. Not to confuse the ability to engage in hypocricy with any particular level of intelligence, because it takes a "special" kind of "intelligence" to engage in a behavior that you claim is offensive to you.

You said that I intentionally tried to make you miserable. The message, "Stop being a jerk to me online, stop selectively arguing against pieces of what I say in unrealistic situations, and then we'll bury the hatchet" should not be construed as an attempt to make you miserable unless that message is asking you to stop being yourself - which I could believe would be an attempt to make you miserable if you actually enjoy being a miserable and hypocritical shitpickle.

And for you to think me asking you to stop engaging in the behavior causing animosity is an attempt to make you miserable is indicative of thin skin....something you accuse me of for making the statement in the first place? If you wanted to bury the hatchet, you wouldn't have written the inaccurate, highly-selective-memory-impaired recollection of our game that you did.

I'll get to that. In the meantime, don't be embarrassed for me. I'm not. Be embarrassed that you compiled the pickle-scented offal of your thoughts into words and shat them onto your blog. If I had a picture of a green turd, I would send it to you to use as an avatar. Since you're broke and undesirable, I'd even buy you a shirt like mine. Mine says "Dashofpepper Posting in Your Threads!" I'd make you one that says "Stelek PickleShit Crapping on Your Internet"

That was fun. Let's talk about the actual game. The half-remembered report that Stelek gave is a bit high on the inaccurate side, and while I didn't take pictures, I can still give a blow by blow.

Stelek wrote:

"So, Dark Eldar players like to play very aggressive. Sadly, that is not how to play Dark Eldar. But they do it, so you have to have a game plan.
My plan?
Give him kill points and quarters, and claim objectives.
How did I plan on doing that?
Well, I was setup along the right, and I reserved a unit and their transport.
Primarily to take the lower left objective.
I figured with my scouts I could clear the back objectives, and hold my own.
So that’s 2-1, with the center objective being one he’d probably hold as most Dark Eldar players just love to sit in midfield and get pummeled. Dash is no exception."

Alright...he knows my game plan. I'm going to deploy in the middle, zerg up the middle or towards whichever flank he chooses, and work on tabling him. The only mistake in his assumptions is that his scouts are going to need to clear off rear objectives - playing "very aggressively" doesn't account for leaving units sitting in the backfield - I never do, and I don't plan on starting now.

We roll to go first, and I win - I deploy centrally. Stelek then deploys. I need to interject here with a note - he said in his blog that we got through three turns...he's right. And the reason we got through three turns is because of his deployment. Stelek's blog (that I quoted above) has a succinct game-plan for what he plans on doing - it didn't materialize during setup, so he either thought of it after the fact, or was intentionally slow-playing. First, he deploys centrally, with his long-fangs in various cover. Then he moves all of his stuff over to my right (his left). Then he moves it all over to my left (his right). Then he fiddles around with vehicle angles. Then he picks two of them up and deploys them centrally. THEN he re-arranges his long fangs on my left in a line, with one behind the BLOS terrain, two not behind BLOS terrain, but mostly screened by a rhino and a razorback. We've 1 hour, 27 minutes left...and he is STILL twaddling around in his deployment zone. I said, "Dude...please hurry, we still need to play."

I deploy pretty much the same in every pitched battle game - optimally to deal with any enemy deployment. It takes me 2-3 minutes to do it. It took this asshole 30 or so minutes to put down three units of longfangs and a handful of vehicles. Less models than me.

As for the "Dark Eldar players like to play very aggressively - that is not how to play Dark Eldar" comment...we'll get back to that later.

So Stelek finally finishes deploying, and I start my first turn. As he predicts, I rush the middle. There's a glaring error in his deployment though - if I don't swing to my right (his left), two of his longfang packs are going to have very little to shoot at because they're behind the BLOS terrain. The middle longfang pack is only going to be able to see elevated targets if his rhino doesn't move. On the flip side, if I want to shoot at two of his longfang packs, I'm going to be forced to jump up onto elevated terrain to get shots in. I'll risk losing venoms in exchange for killing long fangs; I'm not a defensive player. Hell, I'm the guy who charges mobs of boyz into Vulkan-toting Redeemer Land Raiders for a shot at beating on it with a powerklaw.

Since he deployed on the line, even my blasters are going to be in range, and he hasn't utilized cover well enough in his deployment to give himself cover saves from the angles I can fire on given my deployment. The only thing that he can count on is my statistically bad dice rolling. True to form, lots of whiffs. Between 10 dark lances and 14 blasters (3 of my units stayed embarked) I got 7 hits. Out of those 7 hits, I got three results: I stunned the rhino in front of his long fangs, weapon-destroyed and stunned one of the central razorbacks. On the Venom front, where I should be statistically killing 11 of them on my alpha-strike, I killed six: Three and the sergeant behind the rhino (leaving him a single missile), and the sergeant + one missile in the front unit of Long fangs behind the BLOS terrain.

He passes leadership on both units and we go to his turn. His heavy bolter razorbacks move forward and he starts pressing around my left flank...which I expected since he deployed his whole army there. That's why my army moved forward and a bit left.

Stelek writes:

So, during the course of the game, I got units out both left and right for him to roll his poison on, while I did my best to keep the potential damage to a minimum by stunning Venoms. I’d rather kill them, but I’m happy with any result as that means at a minimum they aren’t doing anything but standing there. Now why would I do this?
Well, Dark Eldar players are very aggressive with a paper airplane army. Much like Orks, being too aggressive just gets you dead. Plus Dash was trying to play mind games with me, so I pretended like I was angry and focused his attention on killing my Marines.
This allowed me to slowly but surely chop his army into manageable pieces while I waited for my reserves to enter. Due to the slow pace of the game, we only had a handful of turns (I think 3?) but my reserves entered.

I expect Space Wolf players (especially with an army like this) to try shooting down ravagers with long fangs, and venoms with heavy bolters. Since his remaining long fangs have no ravagers in LOS (except for the lone gunman) they went after my venoms. Flickerfields paid for themselves here - the one remaining longfang by himself took a shot at a ravager and it bounced. The second depleted squad shot at a venom and weapon destroyed and stunned it (centrally elevated venom), and the third one split fire between the damaged venom and the second elevated venom and stunned it.

If not the long fangs, the damage came from his heavy bolters...which miraculously fired statistically average. Twin-linked made him hit pretty much everything, but needing 5+ to glance....against a 5+ invulnerable save...isn't very good odds. When you shoot at ravagers with heavy bolters, STR5 vs AV11 is even worse odds. Two of his razorbacks went after one of my ravagers to no effect, and the other (four?) undamaged ones- went after a trueborn unit and another venom - causing no damage.

Back to me for turn two. Now, my deployment is pretty automatic. The downside here is that my beasts deploy centrally too. In hindsight, I should have stuck them on a flank - they're really only in the army to keep Baron Sathonyx alive - who is really only in the army to give me +1 to go first. Turn two realizes that my beasts aren't going to do anything this game unless I put them somewhere - they're not going to make it into the enemy deployment zone until the end of the game, and he doesn't look to be coming forward. While Stelek thinks that DE players like to sit in the middle and get pummeled, the reality is that I'll start in the middle, push the middle the first turn against a centrally deployed army, and then converge on whichever flank is stronger. My beasts follow behind my army to control the center against possible threats.

In this game, he's not really pushing forward, just moving out to my left flank more. My beasts are just right of center and won't make it over I push them out to the right, equidistant between the empty objectives on my left flank - one in his deployment zone, one in mine. I'm expecting scouts to show up over there somewhere - whether on my objective, or on his I'm not sure. All my vehicles stay centrally located this turn because I don't want to get melta-ed by scouts moving in on his turn.

My blasters and ravagers shift for optimal fire, and the rest of my venoms also shift to get me into firing range/arcs of fire/LOS. Razorbacks for my embarked warriors, long-fangs for my venoms. My firing this turn doesn't make up for my awful alpha-strike, but it's more like what I expected. One of his empty long-fang razorbacks on my left flank explodes. A second gets weapon-destroyed. On the right side, I explode a razorback with troops inside. I don't typically fire at rhinos while razorbacks are alive, but his positioning is too good to resist - that un-moving rhino is blocking his long-fangs from most of the fight. Trueborn fire at it and immobilize it. Venoms open up and kill the lone gunman long-fang, the remainder of his second unit...and given the restricted field of fire on the last unit to fire at a stunned, empty, weapon-destroyed venom my venoms with embarked troops on the right rapid-fire and splinter cannon into his razorback-less troops and wipe them out to a man.

Stelek Turn Two: He rolls for reserves and gets one scout unit and his rhino reserve. He can put his scouts where he chooses, so he picks my rear right table and moves them on 6" to start getting towards my objective over there. His rhino moves as expected, towards his other objective. The unit from the immobilized rhino gets out in front of me and rapid-fires into a trueborn unit, who go to ground and survive (and pass leadership). His remaining long-fangs stun and weapon-destroy a second venom...while the last of the heavy bolters continues to try eating into my venoms ineffectively. His scouts run forward towards the objective in my rear.

My turn three: At this point, I've not lost a unit yet. I've got a weapon-destroyed venom, another that is stunned and weapon destroyed (and immobilized, but I did that myself), and a depleted trueborn unit.

Stelek wrote: My reserves entered, and while neither Dash nor the judge seemed to notice..."

Yes, I noticed them. So did you. Not like last year, where you forgot about them, and forcibly rewound my turn, moving my models for me, pushing my battlewagons back, FLICKING my gretchin across the table so we could go back to your turn so you could make some forgotten assaults...

The difference is that we're on turn three, half your army is dead, I'm virtually untouched, and I'll go back to your scouts when the rest of your stuff is dead. I'm not worried about them yet. At any rate, I break out of the center. Troops re-embark and move to my rear left objective. One of my troops still embarked plops onto his objective in my top right. More troops sit in the center, and my beasts break from their central positioning to head towards his scouts. They won't make it across the board to anything of his before I kill it, but they can get to the scouts while I focus my energies elsewhere.

For shooting, I finish off the last of the longfangs, and concentrate fire on his disembarked unit. They die to the last man (thanks in large part to trueborn). Ravagers take down the other razorback on my left flank, leaving only the weaponless one. I still can't seem to hurt the one on the right. My embarked troops on the right try blastering his rhino that came in from reserve but whiff - the other venom over there tries the same thing and whiffs too. His scouts are hiding in my rear, and the rest of my venoms have no targets to shoot at - it's mostly dead. I'm sitting on two objectives, and I think he's got one (his scouts) - most of his army is dead.

Stelek Turn Three: Literally as Stelek is starting his turn, the judge announces that this is the last turn because we just hit the 15 minute mark. I'm like WTF!!!!!!!!! You think I'd be doing things a bit differently if I knew this was going to be the last turn? Something like...I don't know, moving some of those venoms on the right to literally semi-circle his troops in the rhino that is sitting on the board edge? I'll take my chances of him trying to ram 1" through my skimmer wall. If nothing else, I could have dropped the troops off, then still moved up in front of him to wall him off of the objective. I thought we had more time. I'm positioned to take objectives, but I haven't pushed onto them yet - that's something I plan on doing turn 4-6 if I haven't tabled him.

At any rate, his weaponless razorback on the right twiddles around, the immobilized rhino fires it's bolter at something, the razorback on my right shoots at my venom on the objective and kills it. His marines had disembarked from their rhino and moved up 6"towards the objective I was sitting on (now in a wreck). Most of my warriors were dead (failed 4/4 saves from the explosion) leaving my Blaster sitting alone in the wreckage. I failed pinning, but passed leadership. His assault needed a 5+ to get in, and he rolled...well, not what he needed.

The game ended with me winning primary, secondary, tertiary, and having a massive VP lead.

Stelek wrote: Dash thought my Wolf Scouts 40″ from the nearest transport were troops. Umm, yeah, those are troops, and I rolled a 4 so I’ll take this objective from you and win the game.
Anyway, since I’m an honest player I told Dash he had me.

When I think of Space Marine scouts, I think of troops. My bad, SW scouts are different. What makes you a bitch is that when I *ASK* you a question - like, "Are those troops?" and "What's inside that razorback" you have only two stock answers, neither of which is the answer to my question. It's either, "C'mon Dash, you already know that" or "I already told you, I'm not telling you again." You wonder why I was pissed off during our game? Because of your douchery. I didn't need you to be honest with me at the end of the game, I needed you to answer my fucking questions when I asked them.

Stelek wrote: When you think you are losing, instead of getting upset–talk to your opponent. Especially me. I gave advice freely all tournament, because despite having a stake in the game, I will tell you immediately what you are doing wrong and how I am about to beat you.

What?!? I can't talk to you during a game, you're snide, arrogant, offensive, rude, and don't answer polite questions. I didn't need advice from you about what I'm doing wrong, because as far as I'm concerned, I was doing it right. I was tabling you, exploiting your awful deployment to punish your lanes of fire, and removing your army from the table. You were about to "beat me" as you put it because you dawdled around to give your reserves time to come out near the end of the game so that you could sneak in a win by slow-playing me. I have no respect for that.

Stelek wrote: Before you gleefully post about how you ‘crushed’ me, maybe you should think hard about how you were baited into killing what I wanted you to, and within an average assault roll of losing–because you lost sight of the objectives. Unless there’s some miracle Dark Eldar Warrior out there who is going to pwn 6 Grey Hunters. Could happen, I guess. Would make for a good story, anyway.

I was baited into killing what you wanted me to kill. What's that...everything? We're on turn three, and would never make it to a random turn. We were only within an assault roll of losing because of how slow you played, and because the judge announced that it was the final turn during YOUR turn - denying me the ability to make end of game moves.

The morale of the story here isn't that I crushed you, although I did. Saved from being tabled by slow-playing and time intervention. The morale of the story here is that good triumphs over evil. You're rude, arrogant, offensive, your shenanigans are boundless (they've got you on tape cheating)...and even though you did all of still couldn't slide a win under the table on me. Last year...we tied primary, secondary, tertiary, and you got me on VP. You know why? Because I let your shenanigans slide. It cost me the game. Two table quarters and an objective. I was FORCED to be nice to you by our host. This year, you were going to get tabled. Yeah, I saw your scouts. I figured I had 2-3 more turns to deal with them.

Stelek wrote: Despite the problem Dash has with me, it’s not actually personal for me.

Yes dude, it is. Dashofpepper = Justin Hilderbrandt. There is no distinction between my online avatar and me in real life. I don't have dual personalities, and neither do you. Stelek = Andrew Sutton. Stelek is a shitpickle, and so is Andrew Sutton. Whichever you you think you are at any given're a douche. The Andrew Sutton in real life isn't nice. You have flashes of nicety, but you're a fucking jerk during games. Congratulations Stelek, Andrew Sutton got particularly shitty sportsmanship scores during the GT. I gave you an average game vote during the invitational...but the whole world knows by now that I can tolerate a lot.

My mistake: Not tracking time well enough. Who'd think you only get three turns? And that the end-of-game announcement at the 15 minute mark would come during your opponent's turn? That's a pretty crappy set of variables to work with, and it makes me extra glad that I still won - despite all that I had to deal with.

Instead of slow-playing me out of tabling you for the win, and instead of slow-playing me out of winning....instead you just *ALMOST* slow-played me out of the win.

Stelek wrote: What was the first thing I said to you, Justin? Bury the hatchet? Well, you don’t seem to take criticism or losses very well. I hope next time we meet, you have the ‘good’ Dash demeanor on, and a thicker skin. Equating Stelek with Andrew is a silly thing to do, the former IS a personality, the latter HAS a personality.

I take criticism just fine. I'm an excellent loser. Ask Tony Kopack, who beat me fair and square. Or anyone on the broadcast who saw the game, or watched it. But as I said to you in return for "bury the hatchet" was that we would bury the hatchet when you stopped being a douche to me on your blog. The only reason you're a douche instead of a lying douche is because I didn't agree to bury it until you stopped being offensive.

Well, here we are. This is the first time I've gone on the true offensive against Stelek. The bullshit that he writes is obscene. And equating Andrew to Stelek is not silly, it's common sense. You don't have split personalities - I see the same Stelek being a retard on your website that I do in person. Apparently others do too - I can be myself and win Best Sportsman, and you can be yourself and win Worst Sportsman. If that's the distinction that you think gives Andrew personality that Stelek doesn't have, you have some personal introspection to do. How about instead of asking your fans to send you to tournaments so that you can lose, whine about Dashofpepper, and claim that you intentionally brought an underpowered ask them to send you to a career counselor or a life counselor instead. Get your fans to pay to clean you up, make you look presentable, have someone coach you on venacular and attitude, and start getting you in the door with employers - all that effort might work to keep you from getting tossed out as a douchebag.

Then, when you get your life in order, learn to communicate, moderate your behavior, and not look like a slovenly neckbeard pedophile....THEN use the income from your job to pay back your fans and attend tournaments on your own dime, where your new and improved behavior won't get you trashy sportsmanship scores, and blog posts like this.

You thought I needed DE advice - there's some life advice.

Returning to the "Dark Eldar players like to play aggressively, and that is not how to play Dark Eldar" would you know? You don't play Dark Eldar. You armchair general them. And when faced with a decent opponent like me....who has a *LOT* of battle reports floating around in which I do the same thing every game (fuck the mission, kill the other guy), you advertised that you knew exactly what I was going to do.

But you didn't win. You didn't lose because you failed an assault roll. The only reason that would have mattered is because you were slow-playing me out of the game. I was delightfully unmolested, and you were 1-2 turns away from getting tabled.

How is it that you think I play Dark Eldar completely wrong, know EXACTLY what I'm going to do, and still get molested on the table? 2+2 does NOT equal five. Don't say that it was because of an assault roll. Leave your slow-playing deployment shenanigans and game-denial tactics out of it. With the game progressing to it's natural conclusion, which was an evident tabling, massacre, pimp-slap, whatever you like....what was I doing wrong?

To me...that's the pinnacle of gaming. If you know exactly what I'm going to play, exactly what I'm going to do with it, and how to react....and all of your efforts STILL can't stop you from getting tabled...then I'm doing it right. Not wrong.

Stelek wrote: Play skill level, above average. Army building skill level, average. Fun factor, very low. Deployment skill level, low.

Let me return in kind:

Play Skill Level: Below Average. Stelek gimped himself on deployment - deploying to optimize my alpha-strike and neuter his long fang wing if I stunned, wrecked, or immobilized a single rhino. On top of that, his target priority selection was poor - heavy bolters shouldn't be shooting at ravagers. But that's circular. His heavy bolters wouldn't have had to shoot at ravagers if he hadn't deployed his long fangs so poorly.

Army Building Skill: Good. His army is optimized to take down mine. He just used it piss poorly. Hulksmash has ripped me apart with the same army (or a close approximation).

Fun Factor: Zilch. Please Gork and Mork, Emperor, Abaddon, Celestine, and anyone else listening....don't make me have to do this again.

Last year, it was a huge deal that Stelek squeaked out a win on me with his shenanigans. This year, it's a non-entity that Stelek avoided getting tabled with shenanigans. I think he's become less relevant - which is a boon to all 40k players looking for competent sources of advice out there.
As always...thanks for reading. Please click the ads on the page because they fill Hulksmash's coffers, which bought us shirts! =D And if someone would be so kind as to direct this to Stelek's eyes so that he can rage about it.