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On October 3rd and 4th, 2009, I attended Da Grand Waaagh, a tournament held aboard the U.S.S. Hornet Museum in Alameda, California. The tournament was a fantastic experience; one that I plan on attending in the future. In this article I'll be giving you an overview of the tournament and (hopefully) some detailed reports on some of the games played.


The Hornet

The Hornet Museum is an Essex-class Aircraft Carrier, the eighth ship of the United States Navy to bear the name. The Hornet served with distinction during World War II and recovered the Apollo 11 space capsule and the first men to walk on the moon. The Hornet opened to the public as an aircraft carrier museum in 1998. The tournament directly supported the museum, a non-profit organization.

For more information about the U.S.S. Hornet, go to her website and by all means pay her a visit if you're in the Bay Area.

The Tournament

I've competed in quite a few local tournaments over the years, all organized by local game stores, but this was my first event to carry the title of 'Grand Tournament'. A Grand Tournament is an event which is sponsored, at least in part, by Games Workshop. This means they have to abide by certain criteria with regard to scoring and sportsmanship.

Since they are part of the GW 'tournament circuit', Grand Tournaments also tend to draw a larger group of players from a wider area, not just the local scene. The competition I faced in those local events was pretty fierce, but I was curious to see how my tactical skills would measure up in a larger event, against a greater cross-section of players.

The Hornet

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of what I'll call the douche factor. I'd heard horror stories about the win-at-all-costs players that congregate at events such as this, but my fears turned out to be largely unfounded. For the most part, I was impressed with the quality of the players and their level of maturity and sportsmanship.

Gaming Area

Upon entering the ship, I was blown away by the venue. The gaming area was set up on the hangar deck of the carrier, with the tables cordoned off by naval fighter planes.

Our entry fee also gave us full acces to the rest of the ship. During our lunch breaks and any other free time we could scrounge up between games, we were free to tour the ship. I'll definitely be taking my family back to the Hornet for a full day just to see all the things I missed.

I would highly recommend this tournament to anyone, not just those folks who live in or near the San Francisco Bay Area. Plan a vacation with the family ... just let 'em know that you'll be occupied for a couple of days. ;-)

My Army List

Big Boss Dawg's Reddnekk Renegadez

Here's a full list of the Ork Army I fielded at Da Grand Waaagh. It's a fairly large army to bring to a tournament. You generally don't see many horde armies played in tournaments with time limits. However, I was comfortable with this army list and I'd worked on my speed using it. I only played one game that went less than the full length, and that was the other guy's fault.

The Games

Game 1

Opposing Army: Chaos Space Marines
Mission Type: Capture and Control
Deployment Type: Pitched Battle

Result: Victory

Game 2

Opposing Army: Eldar (Mechanized)
Mission Type: Seize Ground (5 objectives)
Deployment Type: Spearhead

Result: Victory

Game 3

Opposing Army: Adeptus Mechanicus (Space Marines w/ allied Demonhunters)
Mission Type: Capture and Control
Deployment Type: Spearhead

Result: Major Victory

Game 4

Opposing Army: Death Guard (Chaos Space Marines: Nurgle Themed)
Mission Type: Seize Ground (5 objectives)
Deployment Type: Pitched Battle

Result: Victory

Game 5

Opposing Army: Orks
Mission Type: Annihilation
Deployment Type: Dawn of War

Result: Major Loss

Tournament Results

At the end of the tournament, I came away in the top spot, taking home the "Best Overall" trophy and the Grand Prize, a copy of the limited release Space Hulk game. Pretty sweet!

While my record was a respectable 4-1, I didn't score the most Battle Points. That went to Tim Ayres, my opponent in the final round. However, in this tournament, tabletop performance was only part of the scoring criteria. Players were also scored for Sportsmanship as well as 'Army Points', a combination of army composition and painting scores. Full details on the scoring system as well as the final standings are available on Da Grand Waaagh website, http://dagrandwaaaghgt.com

'Best Overall'

I scored 207 points out of a possible 245. I was the only player to break 200 and the second place guy trailed me by 15 points. My Battle Points were very strong, I played on the top table in the final round, but what really made the difference were my Sportsmanship and Army scores.

The Grand Prize

It's a good lesson to anyone thinking of going to a tournament, crushing your opponents with an uber-powerful army list may get you a good record, but it's just as important that your opponents have fun playing as well. Pay attention to how tournaments are scored. If there are scores for army comp and sportsmanship, a well-played balanced list will often do much better. It also pays to be a nice guy when you play... and to put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into your army.

I had a blast and the organizers put on a great event. The venue was fantastic, the people were cool, and it was an all-around great time. In the end, it's not the trophies and prizes that matter. What matters is that I got to spend a couple of days playing some great games against some great people...
... and all on a World War II aircraft carrier. How cool is that!