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TSHFT Invitational Coverage (from a TO’s perspective)

The Invitational had always been something that I’ve been planning.  You can say it was my goal for 5 years every since the first formation of the first TSHFT.  But I didn’t just want to throw an event filled with booze and fun, I wanted to throw a worthwhile event that not only will draw hobbyists to it but make it rewarding for them as well.  Thus started my arduous journey with TSHFT.  Thanked to a few trusty friends and a lot of open minded gamers, the Invitational became a reality this past weekend.

A little more about the Invitational event of TSHFT before I get on the actual coverage.  As I said before, I’ve always wanted to throw a fantastic tournament for the miniature hobby, but was held back after some reality checks.  How do I assure that all the players are not only veterans but also fantastic sportsmen as well?  How do I make the event not only interesting but challenging as well?  How do I make the event into something more than just another tournament?  These were constant questions and concerns that prevented the Invitational from taking off from the past.

I addressed the first question by making all my attendees run through the TSHFT gauntlets first.  My thought was that if they qualify, they should already be good enough general and have decent personalities.   The hardest part was to make the event entertaining while challenging.  I took some liberty and tried some special scenario at a few TSHFT championships but didn’t feel like they were right for the event.  I wanted something unique and different.  Luckily I started designing my own board game late last year, and while making the cards for the playtesting beta, an idea struck me, how about card based objectives?  This way, I can offer players the freedom to carve their own gaming experience while challenging them to score the maximum possible points.  It was only during the final sleeving part I regretted a little about my decision.  12 cards per player with 28 invited (at the moment) required me making 380 cards (with extras ), and the cutting and trimming and sleeving part alone took 7 1/2 hours to finish.  One of the reason why it took so long was that the company that made sleeves decided to cut their cost and shrunk their card sleeves from 67mm to 66mm.  And since my designs were based on a few sleeves I had on hand(which are old sleeves), it added a few frustrations after I bought new sleeves and found that they were unfit for the print outs I had.

Then came the TSHFT Invitational Saturday morning.  I found out that morning two of my attendees couldn’t make it.  But since I had paired them up already, I had to change the pairing on the spot.  But since a few other attendees were late, that really didn’t impact me as much.

After the last couple stragglers stepped into the hall, I had the players picking up their cards and their score sheet and sent them on their merry way.  It was then I realized that despite the fact that I posted objectives online prior to the event, over half of the invitees didn’t have a clue what they were as they feverishly read through them.

So after another 15 to 20 minutes of delay, first round games are finally on their way.  Some players, Nick (Tastytaste) for example, just picked them at random to save time. (though he admitted that he could probably performed better had he studied them a bit longer)  The clock struck 1020 at the time.  I am now 50 minutes behind the scheduled time.  :(

I ran over to the bar and talked to the kitchen manager and found a few more problems: The AV system was not working (which resulted in a few players missing the announcement that all information pertaining the tournament was printed on their scoring sheet), the bar was scheduled to open at 1400 (what?), and the lunch was scheduled way too early.  Thankfully Jay, the catering manager, was quite resourceful.  He quickly fixed the AV system, briefed the cooks, and called his bartender in early.  The only thing that we weren’t sure was when the bartender was supposed to get here considering he was last briefed wrongly and lives quite the ways away.

I crossed my finger and ran back and made a quick announcement with the now fixed mike regarding revealing the tertiary objectives.  I then started laying out the trophies and trinkets that I planned on handing out.

Quinquennial Anniversary CoinQuinquennial Anniversary Coins

Class AClass BClass C


All of these trophies took me awhile to conceptualize as well.  I thought of giving away cups, stands or some generic trophies before, but they seem, well generic.  Chris Michaelson suggested ordering some military ID tags and hand out to the Best overall and Best general winners.  But after I got them in hands, they seem really flimsy and cheap. (well they were pretty cheap :) ) and just doesn’t fit well with the event.  So I called up one of my former clients when I was in the advertising business and he suggested me to one of his partner’s company in California – specializing in coin making.  I was originally going to have the winners name engraved on each of the coin, but that would be very expensive and the engraver didn’t have the proper font.  So I opt to keep one side clear.  That actually ended up very useful to some players after I handed them out as they used them for objective markers.  Genius!

Master Tactician [Golden Bullet]

The Master Tactician trophies were a pain in the butt to make.  It wasn’t until a month ago the idea came to me as I couldn’t find the proper item to identify the qualities in a master tactician.  I thought of using, fans, pens, parchment, but all of those are more Asian tactician related rather than something commonly used in the Western culture.  Then it hit me while chatting with an old battle buddy of mine from service, how about a bullet?  “One shot, one kill” for our master tactician sounded like a fitting choice.  But getting them ready took even a bigger undertaking than the coins.  All I had to do with the coins is to design the vector graphics and send to the printer (something I used to do on a daily basis when I had my publishing business), but the bullet cartridge required me scouting them out first…

It turned out there are only 2 gun dealers in WA authorized in dealing brass casing and only one of them (thanks goes to Kessering’s) had the brass casing of what I wanted.  But I must get a bag of 50….  Why not?  That means TSHFT will have another 25 years to go, right? :)   Unfortunately the brass were for those gun hobbyist who wanted to do their own reloading so they came quite dirty.  Doh.  So I used a formula I made up when I was in service by mixing a few cleaning agents (don’t ever do that!) and spent a few hours cleaning and polishing them.  They turned out alright.  But when I picked them up from the engraver Friday morning I realized he spelled couple names wrong, and had I not in a rush to get those cards done, I would probably throw a fit at his store.  They are alright, probably need another polish from some gun oils to bring out the natural brass shine.  And if a player wants, he can get some key rings and make a key chain out of it.  (I thought of it but it would take even more of my time).

TSHFT Championship Trophy [Marble Obelisk]


Arh, the Championship trophies.  I promised my players them roughly 2 years ago when I started the ranking system, but wasn’t sure what to give a away.  I thought of a trophy made up by TSHFT’s acronyms, but that seemed too campy; I then thought of cups or plaque, but those are way too common.  So I walked into the awards/trophy shop and asked for something different.  While the sales was trying to show off some of their glass trophies, my eyes were drawn to a piece of obelisk stuck deep in the corner, away from the common area.  I questioned him how come this wasn’t out in display, he told me that since most of his customers are looking for sports related trophies, the marble obelisks are too heavy for them.  Perfect.  I placed an order for 5 right away.  I actually wasn’t sure how they would turn out.  Thank god that they turned out as they did.

1130 came too soon after I set up the trophy table.  I quickly gave the 1 hour warning then rushed to the bar.  Luckily the bartender showed up on time and was setting the bar.  I took a few shots and walked away with a Guiness in hand.  It seems everything had gone under control, or was it?

Drink Tickets handed out at the event

The belated lunch started at 1230 and plenty pasta and sandwiches were served.  While I was trying to get a quick bit bite after recording the scores, I realized Chris Dinsmore is lingering the event hall with nothing in his hands.  When I questioned him, I found out that he is a vegan.  I did plan ahead for vegetarians in my guests (I knew at least 2) but I did not realize I had a vegan.  Thankfully Jay was willing to help out and had his chef whip a fruitveg salad for Chris or poor Chris will had to substitute beer for real food (not that he wasn’t doing that already :) ).  And when I picked up my sandwich the second times, I realize Dan Root is sitting next to me, not eating.  Further inquiries told me that he doesn’t like vinegar and thus mayonnaise.  And it just seems everything presented (pasta, sandwiches, bread?) had them on it.  So I had to ran back to the kitchen again and pulled the chef away to make a special sandwich for Dan.  Problems averted, time to eat.  Unfortunately the time was around 1310 when I was done running about, which didn’t leave me much time to socialize with my players.

I gathered everyone around 1330 and made announcement for our past winners and handed out trophies.  Since I also had 2 no shows.  I borrowed some physical labor and moved a few of the tables around to make sure players had plenty rooms to place their gaming pieces.  The clock is now 1340 when round 2 starts.  I am now 40 minutes behind.

So I started rushing everyone through the rounds, and most of them managed to finish their games in time (without stopping short in the middle of the turns).  By the start of 4th round, I am finally back on the schedule.  Yeah me!

The dinner was worth mentioning as the chicken in white cream/vinaigrette was quite delicious.  They were so delicious Flugey thought they were fish at one time and kept helping himself with seconds and thirds (the hotel was generous to provide plenty chicken but only 1 serving of pasta).  I manage to chat a little bit with my players finally since everything is back on schedule.

The rest of the evening went uneventful (thankfully) with round 4 finishing around 2100.  I then went out with some of players for a bite and talked about baseballs and NFL drafts.  Maybe we talked about gaming a little bit, but after spending the last couple of days making sure the event will go smoothly and a day running it, I crushed in my bed around 0130..

Day two started out great.  Corey and JP couldn’t continue the tournament due to family concerns and I bid them farewell wishing them luck with their loved ones.  The 1000 starting time for day 2 was great as I finally get a chance to enjoy my meal.  It also give me a chance to talk to my invitees and getting some feedback from them.

I then realized I paired Bentley a fourth time with a GK player.  The Invitational is different from the regular TSHFT, since there is no soft scores and everyone is expect to compete, I care less about matching arrangement.  And had Bentley lost a few rounds, it would be great too, so I could pair him downwards.  But he didn’t, he had been winning and drawing against GK players and considering all 5 GK players made to the top, he was stuck playing them again.  He did throw me a fit during the round, but after I explained everything to him and 4 margaritas, he calmed down.  (send in the margaritas first in future instances)

Round 5 ended with little unplanned events and I got a chance to sit with everyone outside during lunch and enjoyed the sun as well as the conversation.  It is apparent that Ben Cromwell is going to walk away with the title since Jeremy failed utterly (or his dice failed utterly according to him) during their match and wasn’t able to limit the BP Ben could’ve gained.  Since Ben had already played all the players from 2nd place to 6th, I had to pair him against Joel Talley at 7th place.  Joel shook his head and informed that the only results that he got playing Ben in the past were draws and he thought the same result was going to happen again.  In truth, since Ben stumped over Jeremy in round 5 and was smart about his secondaries (he kept the easiest secondary and tertiary till the final round) unless Joel beat him and deny him completely on the tertiary objectives, Ben is going to finish top no matter how well the runner-up performed. (Chris Dinsmore ended up getting a perfect 25 and still finished 6 points behind him).

The end of round 6 finished with a quick announcement of our grand champion – Ben Cromwell.  It seems that almost everyone had a fantastic weekend of 40K gaming and quickly bugged out of the event.

Below are the attendees for the first TSHFT Invitational.  Unfortunately some genius chose a background with lights and messed up the exposure adjustment for the smart phone.  So everything is a blur if zoomed in.

Until next year.

8 comments to TSHFT Invitational Coverage (from a TO’s perspective)

  • flugerNo Gravatar

    YOU thought it was fish! :P

  • MikhailLeninNo Gravatar

    Love the Cards, Love the Format, I think every TSHFT should be run this way (Knowing that you would reintroduce Soft Scores). I preferred this Format a lot more but alas while my performance was good on the first day, I am having serious doubts about my DE and Mech Armies, which used to not be such a problem before Fortitude and Living Armor(to less of a degree) as stunning or shaking was enough to keep my Paper Plans flying and still fail terribly at killing vehicles. What ended up happening is exactly what I feared, inability to demech leads to sub par performance from Venoms.I will take Zen’s advice on trying Deep Striking Heat Lances with Scourges but with doubts of their performance. Also, Incubi were serious under-performers the entire weekend and will probably disappear off the list for a while, I wanted to give Bloodbribes a try so I might just do that.

    In regards to my game versus Ben, winning first turn was huge in a spearhead KP deployment as it forced my opponent into a tight space and I had the chance to get at his throat fast and early. Ben deployed exactly like I thought he would but kept his Wraith, His command Barge and his Annil Barge in reserve and knowing he would use his Solar Pulses, I opted for maneuvering within about 20″ of his line to keep a decent distance from his Swarms and being in easy nightfight range with Night Vision during my Turn 2. During his Turn 1, Ben moved his beefed up Swarm towards the nearest Raider with Incubi and Archon, his opening volley of fire saw the Incubi Raider get popped on the first shot and he took this opportunity to whittle the squad down to the Klaivex, 1 Incubi and the Archon as well as Stunned 1 of the Wyches Raider, his Scarab Charge at my Incubi might have been made by his misinformed WS value of Scarabs (He thought they were 3 when in fact they were 2 which resulted in them hitting Incubis on 5s). The combat resulted in my taking about 3 Pies of Scarab (with fearless) and that was a poor performance from the Klaivex and Archon (Klaivex hit twice and the Archon only hit 3 times but they all wounded).

    On my turn 2 with the Incubi Locked in combat, I couldn’t charge his unit of Immortals with 2 Crypteks but I had 1 Wyches (From the stunned Raider) Unit who could and got as close as they could to them knowing that he could reduce my charge range by D3. The second Unit of Wyches flew deeper into his side to charge his second swarm unit and potentially obstruct his movement. My real first turn of shooting saw me finally Demech units before turn 3 for the entire weekend. I popped both of his Barges with Blasterborn (the Ravagers whiffed) and the Venoms unloaded on the Tomb Spyders, Statistically leaving 1 Spyder with 1 wound on average but due to some poor rolling, I killed off 1 Spyder and left 1 with 1 wound and the other undamaged. The Wyches charged the swarm and wiped it out, with the consolidation blockaded his second unit of Immortals. The second Wyches got lucky and in combat with his first unit of immortals and won by 1 wound but unfortunatly Ben rolled a 10 for Morale they were swept off but his Overlord (Which I didnt know was even in the unit), and one of the two Cryptek passed their WBB roll and his Overlord came back up to life in the midst of my vehicle line while the Cryptek came back up in cover. The Wyches had consolidated deeper into his deployment zone. My Archon whiffed and did 2 wounds to the Swarm while the Klaivex missed entirely, I lost the last Incubi and we were stuck for another round.

    On Ben’s Turn 2 his Annilihation Barge and Wraith came in at a perfect time, for it looked Dire for Ben if the Wraith didnt enter. I had 2 Wyches Unit with FNP and Furious Charge in his line ready for some multi-charge. He moved his Tomb Spyders behind cover out of LOS from my Venoms, the Annilihation Barge came off to his side to take shots at my Ravagers. His Lord that came back to life moved towards my Empty stunned Raider and his Wraith flew at my obstructing Wyches. His Shooting Phase was much better this time as he took down 2 Venoms and 1 Raider that turn and his Wraith wiped off the Wyches in C&C (He actually killed 2 in Shooting and I rolled Morale Test while I checked if it was enough for Morale 2/9=22%. Thankfully it wasnt a morale test because my dice had rolled a 10 which would have left his wraith in the open and plenty of space for the Wyches to rally.) He also shot his second immortal unit at the second wyches unit but with Cover and FNP managed to only kill 1 Wyche. My Archon Djinn blade rolled double (for the second time in this game) and finally stripped off his Shadowfield and caused 1 additional Wound, he also failed to cause a wound with any of the other hits, the Klaivex whiffed again. His last 2 Scarab swarm plates killed off the Archon and the Klaivex and consolidated into cover. The Lord blew up the Raider. (Ben and I both exchanged laughter at our terrible HQ’s performance)

    My turn 3, With diminished shooting, I stood my ground and 2 of my Ravagers decided to hunt the Annil Barge while the rest of the army moved a bit back to focus on the Wraiths. The second Wyches unit had 2 choices, chase down the scarab swarm that killed the archon and move back or go for the second big unit of immortal. This is where I made a terrible call, I didn’t know his second Unit of Immortals had his second Overlord, so I went after the scarabs because I wanted to clear out the midfield and not get pressured into a parking lot. Looking back, going for the Immortals would have been a much better choice as they were the better KP advantage. During my Shooting, 1 of the Blasterborn unit put the Lord back to sleep, the Ravagers immobilized the Annil Barge with 2 pens (which was bad cause that thing was still firing) the Venoms and the second unit of Blasterborn tore up the Wraiths and killed all of them. The Third Ravager tried to put the last of the first unit of immortal cryptek back to sleep but whiffed. The Wyches charged the left over swarm and killed them all.

    His Turn 4 resulted in his Command Barge entering the game with little other movement. His shooting dropped 2 more Venoms and the Blaster Born down to 1 unit of 2 and 1 Unit of 1. He also shook and weapon destroyed 1 Ravager.

    My turn 5 resulted into me moving my Wyches back down the field to engage his small warrior unit while my shooting produce no kills or results (The lone Cryptek took a wound and then came back again). The Wyche swept off the small warrior unit and consolidated behind a wrecked barge but 1 of their Crpytek came back to life.

    Ben’s Turn 5 saw him moving out of his defensive line, kill off another Venom and charge my Wyches with his Immortals after killing 3 of them in shooting. When he charged, I was taken aback but thats when I learned that he had his other Overlord in the unit, I had convinced myself that he was in the command barge but thats my fault (Always ask your opponents where the IC are!). The Overlord killed 2 Wyches and the Unit 1 more. I put two Immortals to sleep but they came back up. Wyches are now very few and stuck in combat.

    We roll, turn 6.
    On my turn 6, Ben is leading in KP but there is 2 Units of 1 Cryptek, 1 Unit of 5 Warriors and 2 Crypteks, an Immoblized Anni Barge and 1 Command Barge for me to grab KP off. My Shooting see me finish off the Annil barge (After a total of 13 Dark Lances are fired at it), the Command Barge suffers no damage and finally 1 of the Cryptek dies. He finishes off my Wyches in my turn.

    Ben’s Turn 6, he gets no KP this turn due to some lackluster rolls.

    We roll, turn 7.
    At this Point I have 3 Ravagers, 1 Venom that is functional and I am trailing by 2 KP. There is a Command Barge and 1 Cryptek. My ravagers manage to drop the Barge and the Cryptek takes a wound and its now or never for that bastard to stay down but alas he gets back up for the 3rd time and I lost by 1 KP. If the Cryptek had died, Ben would have only 1 Immortal Squad effectively to kill a Vehicle to get 1 KP for the lead as the small Warrior Squad had gone to ground (if I recall correctly).

    It was a hard fought battle and I had some moments where I was a dick, Ben is a great player and a sportsman. I had slept very badly and I think I was just irritated at my Dark Eldar performance the first day (I had 2 Wins and 1 Loss but my loss was just a game of nothing going well and my last game was just very very very hard game). Against Ben’s I think I had the upper hand until his Wraith came in and also my bad call going after the scarab over his 2 KP unit was not good. I had the +1 Str Drug and I felt with Str 5, the Wyches could really hammer the Immortals and sweep them off. Anyways it was my first game against the new Necrons with Dark Eldar and it was quite a well learned lesson.

  • AdrianNo Gravatar

    Thanks again for everything, I had a really good time.

  • Zen13No Gravatar

    @ Flugey. I was messing around with you.. I was, after all, the one who did the menu ;-)

    @ ML. Now I see why you said you lost the tournament to 1 cryptek. Give those heat lances a try. They aren’t good on paper, but they are the only AP1 weapon for DE for now.

  • Alex YuenNo Gravatar

    I enjoy the most; no noob, no auto win game. I had to work for a win

  • PurgatusNo Gravatar

    Thank you for all your hard work Zen. What a poor performance on my part, but I won’t be bringing footslogging lists to any more events… ever. :D And to be perfectly honest I was pretty much pulling my objective cards more or less at random during some of the games too.

    But I appreciated your listening to my concerns and even if we don’t always see eye to eye you are a perfect gentleman to be sure.


  • Zen13No Gravatar

    @ Alex. Aye. Unfortunately those games are hard to find.

    @ Purgatus. Don’t get me wrong, I love foot slogging army. But I shelved my foot slogging CSM and TYR pretty much years ago (tried to give TYR a chance but no) as vehicles (especially cheap, fast, or those Fortitude !@%%@ transports) dominate the current 40K meta.

    I honest hope the next edition will address those concerns. A pity you didn’t get a chance to fully understand the format due to the fact you got lost in the process or I am sure you would find it an otherwise entertaining yet challenging weekend.

    If I were a used car sales man, I would say “25 other people can’t be wrong!”

  • Chris DinsmoreNo Gravatar

    Thank you so much for the experience Zen! It was a truly incredible weekend, mad props to you for making it all happen! Ben is a tough and smart player and truly deserves the win.

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