Danny’s Road to SoCal: Expectations

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, I am going to start documenting my process for getting ready to go to one of my favorite events, Frontline’s SoCal Open 2021! I love the location, the people, and of course, that spacious hangar with a cool sea breeze and ample opportunities for good times. Of course, for someone who mostly judges big events, getting to go and play isn’t as simple as others.

Last time I went to SoCal Open, before the Plague Years, I joked about taking a meta army instead of my usual Tyranids, World Eaters, or Chaos Knights, so I took Iron Hands Repulsor spam.  Granted, the main nerf to the Ironstone and all that landed right before, so it wasn’t the most meta of Iron Hands list, but I was locked into it. I ended up 4-2, which was fine with me, and promptly sold it to the Second Hand store after Round 6.

For this year, I want to go with my heart rather than the meta, so the process has started for determining what I am going to play.  I am certainly not going into SoCal 2021 with big plans of top tables or anything, more just to play and enjoy being around folk for the first time in quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean that I want to just roll over either.  I have plenty of options, but as I usually take Tyranids to local events, I figured it was time to go back to my World Eaters and play around.  That brings me to my usual list of things to do to prep for a big tournament.

What are my expectations?

When planning for an event, I think too often, players don’t quite start on good footing.  They are thinking about matchups, models to paint, places to stay, and of course, how to win.  For me, I like to start at what I want out of the weekend.  Am I expecting to win my games?  Am I expected to win a “Best X” award? Am I expecting to do well in painting?  Am I going just to kibitz with friends and ingest far more food and drink than I should? These are all pertinent questions because everything else is a result of the answer to these questions. 

I am not going to win it all. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want a list that is capable of winning games, but I also know that I am not going to take the whole event. I don’t want that stress of building a new army to better adapt to the meta, practicing as much as possible, playing my weekly games with a different focus than just enjoying my night out to myself , and of course, the stress of trying to win every game at every moment while essentially on vacation.  So no, I am not going to win all my games. That said, do I want to go 0-6? Hell no. I like to win games, so I do need to build a list that can at least get me something.

something like this

Would it be cool to win a “Best X” for one of the less powerful factions? Sure, and that could be doable with enough practice.  Am I going to win Best Painted? Nah. I want to practice and refine my painting, but in a few months, I won’t have the kind of painted army that is going to beat the top painters.  Am I going mostly for the social experience? Yes, absolutely. I could help my co-host and co-judge Adam run SoCal, but I want to play, not judge.  Do I want each of my games to be a hard-fought, to the buzzer, nail biter? Also no.  I want to either win fast or lose fast, so I have more time to enjoy wandering the hall.

With all that in mind, I know my expectations: Try to win games, but win or lose them fast, so I have time to just hang out and enjoy my weekend. Do my best at painting, more for me than anything else. Eat food and drink my drinks.  My loftiest goal, which may or may not be tenable, to win a “Best X” award.

Pick a Faction.

Now that I know that I am not trying to be a 40k influencer and have a flawless record at a Major, I can settle on using something out of my collection. That narrows it down to Chaos (Khorne Daemons, World Eaters, Chaos Knights), and Tyranids (way too many Tyranids).

That was easy, Chaos, specifically World Eaters.  I actually play Chaos Soup more than pure Knights or World Eaters at this point, but for this year, I am going to try and do the exact opposite of last time and choose a very much non-meta, non-power build, so pure World Eaters.  I haven’t taken them to a big tournament before, and a lot of them are painted to a pretty high standard, and while I may need to add some stuff, I have time to paint them well.  I can also focus on practicing those crucial steps that take a model from above table-top standard up into the higher realms.

Can I take Best Chaos or Chaos Space Marines? That’s a tall order. For those who don’t know, SoCal has a heavy Chaos bent to our local meta, and a lot of great Chaos players come to SoCal like the fine folk from Rage Quit Table Flip. Still, Chaos isn’t the new hotness (although new Thousand Sons could change that), so we’ll see what happens.  Again, that’s definitely the tallest stretch of my goals, but hey, worth pursuing.

Build a List.

Now this is the hard part, and I am not 100% sure (as of writing this) what I want to take.  World Eaters is very much a melee focused army although it can definitely bring some shooting elements.  As I’ve talked about before, World Eaters are often pulled in two distinct directions: horde infantry that maximizes all our overlapping buffs in melee for big burst damage or really heavy armor for grinding with a few punches out of reserve. 

Seeing as how my primary goal for the weekend is to enjoy the people around me, a horde doesn’t help with that.  I’m not quite as young as I used to be, so moving 80+ models for 6 games gets real on my back.  Horde lists also primarily win in the long game, so while that is certainly a viable path, I don’t think it is for me.

So I am pretty sure I am going to go for armor here.  Whether that be Rhinos and Berserkers, some Lord of Skulls, maybe some of the other FW Superheavies if I can source them like a good old Brass Scorpion.  What the list is will take time and some testing, but at least for right now, I have a good direction.

Well, that’s my meandering a bit about prepping for a tournament that is 2 and a half months away, but hey, anything worth doing is worth doing right.  Hopefully by next week, I’ll at least have a few ideas for lists, so I can start sourcing models or working on the models that I do have, making them extra pretty. Thanks as always for reading, and as usual, play games and be nice to each other.

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About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.
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