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In mid April, 2010, I attended The Kalm Before the Waaagh in Huntsville, Alabama. The tournament is unlike any other in the United States. It is an invitational tounament held in a bar, complete with a catered barbeque lunch and limo service to and from the hotel.

In addition to the typical tournament prizes, like 'Best Overall' and 'Best Sportsman', they also have a prize for 'Biggest Bar Tab'. Not only is it encouraged for players to knock a few back and relax, one of the missions actually required your drink to be placed on the table as terrain. For anyone of legal drinking age, I highly recommend going if you can manage to get invited.

 

The Prelude

Folks in the southern part of the United States are the victims of a number of stereotypes, some deserved, and some not. Well, I can tell you for a fact the stereotype of 'southern hospitality' is richly deserved.

I no more than get off the plane, and George (the tournament organizer) picks me up in his truck and says "We're headed to my place and you're playing a game tonight." At this point I've been either on a plane or in an airport for well over 9 hours, but I figure, "What the hell!" I've never been one to turn down a 40k game. Sleep is for the weak :)

 
We pull up to George's house in Huntsville, he sticks a bottle of Guiness in my hand and gives me the grand tour of his place. Paul (one of 2 friends that made the trip with me) arrived earlier in the day and was already playing a game on one of the two gaming tables in George's basement. Within a half hour I'm back downstairs, playing 40k against Jose, one of George's local gaming group and a great guy. we were all swapping stories, drinking beer, and having a blast. I didn't make it to the hotel until past 2am.

 
The next morning I crawl out of bed and grab some breakfast with Paul and Bill, my other friend who came to The Kalm. After getting some food in us, we decide to head for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, where they developed the rockets for the space program back in the day.

George came through for us again. Another member of his local gaming group works out there and got us in for free. You da man, Josh!

After looking at the Saturn V rocket responsible for taking our guys to the moon, I've come to a realization. We're a bunch of sissies compared to those early astronauts. Those guys had balls! You've got to have some big brass cajones to sit on top of several million pounds of liquid fuel, light the fuse, and have your ass shot to the moon!
 



 
Paul and I at the base of the Saturn V

 
Pizza, Beer and Blood Bowl.
Good Times!

After wandering about and looking at some of the coolest artifacts of the 'Space Race' of the 60's, we headed back to the hotel.

They held a Blood Bowl tournament in the hotel dining room the night before the main event, and there was open 40k gaming in the conference room. Bill got in a game of 40k while I took Da Ninerz out for their debut performance on the Blood Bowl pitch. How did I do?

I got stomped, but at least the boyz caused quite a few casualties on their way down. I wasn't expecting to do that great, having not played Blood Bowl in years, but winning wasn't the point anyway. The point was to have a good time playing a tabletop parody of football, while having pizza and a beer at the same time. Mission accomplished.

 
The Venue

The morning of the tournament, we headed to Mason's Pub in Huntsville. My friends and I offered to help get the venue ready to go, meaning we had to be there at 6am, while the rest of the participants got a couple more hours of sleep. It wasn't to bad though, the guy who would go on to win the prize for 'Biggest Bar Tab' was buying drinks for folks while we were setting up. I was carrying tables and drinking Maker's Mark at 7:30. Nothing like a "liquid breakfast" to get you going.

Bill went out a bit later with a couple of the Huntsville gang and returned with some downright scrumptious breakfast. A buttermilk biscuit sliced in half and packed with eggs, bacon and cheese. Similar to another 'breakfast sandwich' you can find at McDonald's, only this one tasted fantastic and didn't give me stomach cramps.
 


 
Mason's Pub

Once the tables were set up and we were all fed, it was time to get down to business. The tournament consisted of 3 rounds, with a catered Barbeque lunch served after the first game. The missions for this event, available here, were based on WWII movies, and were designed not only for amusement but also as a big 'screw you' to those folks who decided to bring 'deathstar' units.

The Kalm is meant to be a fun event, playing 40k in a relaxed environment while knocking back a few drinks, not some win-at-all-costs cheese fest like some 'other' tournaments out there.
 

 
My Army List
 

Big Boss Dawg's Reddnekk Renegadez

Here's a full list of the Ork Army I ran at 'The Kalm'. If it looks familiar, that's because it's pretty much the same army I took to Da Grand Waaagh in '09, just scaled up to 2000 points with the addition of a few models. I took 'Best Overall' with the army at that tournament so I figured, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

 
Game 1
 


  Deployment

Opponent: Jose
Army: Space Marines

  • Bike Squad of Doom (Kor'sarro Khan, Chaplain, and 5 Bikers)
  • 3 Tactical Squads (1 in Rhino, 1 in Razorback, 1 in Drop Pod)
  • Ironclad Dreadnought in a Drop Pod
  • Assault Terminators in a Landraider Redeemer
  • Landspeeder
Mission: Da 'Urty Dozen (see mission pack)

 
Jose deployed the Terminators in the Landraider, the Razorback, and one combat squad with a missile launcher up in a building deep in his deployment zone. The rest he held in reserve for a combination of deep striking and outflanking. I lined up across a broad frontage, armor up front and boyz behind. I held Da Boss w/ Trukk Boyz, Grotz, and Meganobz in reserve, while the Vommit Kommitz and Kommandos were set to outflank.

 
Jose had wised up since the game at George's house the night I arrived. In that game, he decided to deep strike with his Terminators. Not the best move since they don't have any guns and can't assault the turn they land. This time, he loaded them in the Landraider to make sure they got into the fight.

Jose didn't waste any time. Figuring that my Killa Kanz needed to die, he rammed those Assault Terminators straight down my throat. He also deep striked his Ironclad behind my line in an effort to get me to split my forces.

The Terminators ended up killing two of the Kanz, but couldn't withstand the countercharge of a huge mob of Orks. It would take a couple of assault phases, but even terminator armor has it limits. The emperor's finest would drownin a sea of green.
 



 
The Terminators charge in

 
The Battlewagon bites it!

After burying the terminators in an overwhelming mob of boyz, I rolled out with the battlewagon to make a move toward his deployment zone. I figured the boyz and the Kanz could handle themselves and I still had plenty of mobile units to toss back that way if needed. The marines, however, had a different idea...

The drop pod with the tactical squad came down behind the battlewagon and out came two combat squads. One squad was five marines with a missile launcher that didn't worry me. The other had a meltagun and a combi-melta on the sarge! Now those guys got my attention.

Despite the Big Mek riding inside, giving the Battlewagon a force field save, those marines managed to blow it to smithereens.

 
The primary objective of the mission is to get your most expensive unit killed. Now that my 'Ard Boyz were on foot back in my deployment zone, that was going to be a tall order.

Around the rest of the table, the Slugga Boyz tarpitted the Ironclad after finishing of the Terminators, and the Killa Kanz were chasing down the Landraider. The Landraider was his most expensive unit, and I'd be handing him 6 battle points if I destroyed it... Hey, I'm an Ork player. What the hell did you think I was gonna do?

My two Trukks rolled on the field and smashed the Razorback in a brutal display of orky overkill. Not the smartest move, since the Bike Squad of Doom subsequently charged in and wiped out the MegaNobz.



 
Things get dicey

 
That part of the table would turn out to be a wash for both sides. The unsuing carnage was pretty impressive. The Bike Squad, Khan, the Chaplain and the Marines in the Razorback were all wiped out, as were Da Boss, Trukk Boyz, Meganobz and 2 Trukks. Jose and I lost a combined total of almost 1400 points worth of models in that area, and the objective they were fighting over would go unclaimed at game's end. Too damn funny.
 


 
By the skin of my teef!

At the end of the game, things were looking grim for the Orks. I'd destroyed the Landraider handing a pile of Battle Points to Jose, and my most expensive unit, the 'Ard Boyz, were still alive and kicking.

I'd be running around my backfield assaulting everything in sight trying to get them killed. I had 2 drop Pods blow up in my face, but I still had a good 10 boyz left. My only hope was to assault a combat squad and the remnants of a another marine squad making a beeline for their table edge. The odds of 8 marines taking down 10 charging 'Ard Boyz including Powerklaw Nob are slim at best. I'd have to flub my rolls. Badly.

 
And that's exactly what happened. The marines caused 3 casualites to my 2, and when it came time to roll for the Nob... 4 misses. All that remained now was for me to blow a leadership check. I picked up my dice...

... and rolled an 11!!

The 'Ard Boyz beat hasty retreat and counted as destroyed at the end of the game. It was down to the wire, but Da Orks came away with the full 20 Battle Points for the mission. Made it by the skin of my teef!
 

 
Game 2
 


  Deployment

Opponent: Steve Martino
Army: Imperial Guard

  • Ironhand Straken and his goonz in a Chimera
  • 3 Veteran Squads in Chimeras
  • 2 Leman Russ Demolishers
  • A squadron of 2 Hydras
  • 3 Vendettas
  • Allied Inquisitor and retinue
  • 2 Allied Inquistional Stormtrooper Squads
Mission: Da Gunz of Navarone (see mission pack)

 
In this mission you were actually required to have a beverage (preferably alcoholic) on your table as a piece of terrain. This beverage (hereafter referred to as a 'Big Gun') would fire on the opponent late in the game with same effect as an IG Deathstrike Missile. Pretty Nasty. We both lined up across from one another and prepared for the nastiness to come.

 
I started rolling forward behind the cover of some buildings, heading for what I hoped would be a fairly direct route to my objective, the Big Gun and a solid concentration of enemy tanks.

There wasn't much shooting from the Orks, apart from downing a Vendetta with the Vommit Kommitz. The Guard on the other hand were unloading on Da Boyz with all kinds of firepower. Most of it was diverted by the Big Mek's force field, but they did manage to take out a few boyz and a Killa Kan or two. The worst thing was they managed to immobilize the Battlewagon right as I was about to make my run for the gun.

The Big Mek made handy with his wrench and got it mobile again in turn 3, and the Guard couldn'y manage to dent the wagon with their third round of shooting. Everything was looking good for the boyz until...
 



 
The Orks close in!

 
Immobilized!

BAM! I cruise into terrain and roll a '1' for my dangerous terrain check.

No problem. My Deff Rolla allows me to re-roll dangerous terrain checks. I pick up a die and roll the check again...

... another '1'...

%$#@!

I just immobilized myself within spitting distance of my target. Things were looking pretty grim for the Orks. And yes, that is Steve giving the double thumbs up in the picture. Dude got lucky and he knew it!

 
It would be turn 6 before my boyz could get to the gun and take it out. By then the Guard had taken a hefty chunk out of my army, but Da Boyz had caused a fair bit of damage of their own. In the end, victory went to the guard... by one kill point!.

Steve scored 20 Battle Points in the mission, to my 15. So I was 1 and 1 going into the final round, with a pretty hefty tally of Battle Points.

 
Game 3
 


  Game 3 (Orks turn 1)

Opponent: Donovan
Army: Imperial Guard

  • Company Command Squad in a Chimera
  • 3 Veteran Squads in Chimeras
  • Leman Russ Eradicator
  • Leman Russ Punisher
  • A squadron of 2 Hydras
  • 3 squadrons of 2 Vendettas (6 total)
Mission: Dr. Strangewaaagh (see mission pack)

 
I only managed to take one picture of this game, as I had quite the combination of whiskeys (Irish, Scotch, and Bourbon) in my system by this point. This picture was taken at the end of the Orks turn 1. You should be able to see where the game was headed by this one picture. Poor Donovan was worse off than I was when it came to blood acohol level and scout-moved his Vendetta squadrons a bit too close.

This mission was a blast. One unit in each army turns traitor and is under the control of the opposing player. This was designed specifically to stick it to folks who would bring 'Maxed-Out Nob Bikers' or 'Uber Seer Councils of Doom' to what is supposed to be a laid back event.

Since I was going first, I got to choose my traitor unit first. I looked over his army list and thought to myself "What's he got that I need desperately and Da Boyz can't get themselves. *cue Homer Simpson voice* Mmmmmmm.... Vendettas. I grabbed the unit near the rear on his left flank and proceeded to pound the crap out of his Hydras. My Boss and Trukk Boyz hit one Vendetta squadron on my left flank, while the 'Ard Boyz and Vommit Kommitz hit the squadron on my right flank. By the end of Ork turn 1, one Vendetta was down, a couple were shaken and the Hydras wouldn't be firing their guns at me.

Donovan had a look at my list and decided he needed a couple of things. First off, he needed some close combat punch. Second he needed to disrupt that wall of armored death that was going to run up the middle and pound his face in. He grabbed my unit of 29 Slugga Boyz and proceeded to shoot the crap out of the Big Mek so that the Kan wall wouldn't be getting any force field cover. In hindsight, we both agreed he would have been better off assaulting both the Big Mek and a mob of Kanz and tying the whole mess up.

As it was, in my turn 2, my Killa Kanz with Grotzookas pulled an about face and turned that 29-strong Mob of Slugga Boyz into a 7-strong Mob. OUCH! It really sucks to be an unprotected Ork Mob in Grotzooka range.

From there things went downhill fast for Donovan. I rolled up the flanks of his army with my Orks and pounded vehicles into oblivion with the stolen Vendettas. I had him tabled in turn 5, but as one-sided as the game was, we both had a great time. I would play Donovan again in a heartbeat, but I bet next time he keeps those Vendettas back a bit :)

 
Tournament Results

When all was said and done, I took 'Best Overall'. I had a 2-1 record with a total of 55 Battle Points, the highest in the tournament. I also got max score for sportsmanship and high painting marks as well. Steve Martino, my Opponent in the second round took Best General and was hot on my heels with 51 Battle Points.

And my favorite prize of the day....

'Biggest Bar Tab' went to Paddy with a respectable total of $186. Thanks again, Paddy.

For full details and a ton more pictures, head to http://thekalm.com


 
'Best Overall'