Friday, February 10, 2017

Back From LVO 2017

by Novus

My posting has been few and far between lately.  Mostly because any spare time I had was spent either getting my fleet painted for Dropfleet at LVO or getting product ready for the long drive and subsequent marathon that is the LVO.

Hall 1

Hall 2

As always, the event was big and impressive!  Housed in two giant ballrooms of approximately 100k square feet (total), it's the biggest gaming event I've ever been to.  There were many vendors: GW, Forgeworld, Greenman Designs, Tablewar, Fez-O-Rama, etc.  There were many players: about 500 for GW based games, alone!  Probably another 200+ for other games like Dropzone and Dropfleet, Warmachine and Hordes, X-wing, Bloodbowl, etc!  There were classes taught by experts in the fields of airbrushing, painting, and sculpting!  In short, if you are a modeler or a tabletop wargamer, this is the place to be!

As my primary camera, a refurb I bought on Amazon (don't ever do this!), didn't want to focus all weekend, I didn't take many pictures.  The poor quality of the photos herein are due to my camera-phone.  Apologies.

The Vendor Side of Things

Day 3 - Product wall is looking thin!

GSI is a side gig for me.  It's a lot of work outside of my day job, but it does support my gaming habit and also allows me to build fun stuff for myself and others.  I almost bowed out of the event at the last second because shows like this are very expensive for vendors to attend (though the LVO has probably the lowest barrier to entry of any major tournament in existence).  The last 2 years we pretty much broke even.  This year we (my wife and I) actually each made a couple of dollars an hour!  Gotta love them Third World wages!  All kidding aside, that's a major accomplishment in my mind.  It means GSI is growing and that people actually want the things I make.

In fact, I under-produced because I didn't want to get stuck with a bunch of product no one bought.  Big mistake!  If even half of the folks who said they wanted to buy an Underground Hangar were able to, it would have been a shockingly successful event for GSI.  We sold out of nearly all of the laser cut terrain we brought!  We sold out of the Underground Hangar before the event officially started!  And the feedback from folks was astonishing in it's positivity!

Also, this is the first time we represented other cottage gaming companies, as well.  DeckagonDesign and Low Orbit Mats.  Deckagon makes 3D printed terrain for 10mm games and Low Orbit makes high-quality/low-cost PVC orbital mats, like you'd use in Dropfleet.  I sell both companies items on the GSI store so come and have a look!

Things went so well this last weekend that I'm seriously thinking about how I could make GSI my day job.  One can dream.

The Hawk Booth with Solomon, Dave, and JD

My Tournament Experience: Dropfleet

My paint scheme (WIP)
Dropfleet is an amazing orbital assault game!  It's based in Hawk Wargames' Dropzone Commander universe; it retains the feel and flavor of Dropzone while requiring a completely different tactical style.  Rather than slug-fest space battles like Firestorm Armada, the object is to drop troops and tanks into cities or space stations as well as hold the space above the cities or around the stations with the most tonnage of ships.  It's a superb concept and a lot of fun to play.

Don, our TO (center).  Thanks, Don!
That said, up until the day of the tournament I'd played maybe 3 games worth of DfC, some of which were 3-4 fractional games that added up to maybe a full game.  So, I knew going in that it would be a rough 9 hours of play.  I was not wrong.

My summations of the games, below, will be bare-bones because I can't really remember the details and am still learning the game, so any attempted analysis would be near incoherent.  The major issue I had was wrapping my head around the odd deployments... some games battle groups are staggered into the gamespace, others they all come in at once.  It really messes with how the mission plays.

Game 1
Mission: Take and Hold

My memory being what it is, I can't remember the name/face of the player (Scott? Yes, Scott.), but he had a really cool Scourge fleet.  I'd never played against Scourge before so I just decided to go at him and try to land as much stuff as I could as fast as I could.  Turns out, going straight at Scourge is a bad idea.  That strong close action weaponry is to be feared.  If I recall, I lost this one 3-17 due to my Noob tactics.

Game 2
Mission: Mixed Engagement

This game was played against Ward of the North (Ward's from Canada and a great dude who also won the Sportsmanship award) and his PHR (I think).  I played really well here but misread the mission.  I dropped all my troops in the 3 space stations up the center thinking they scored the same as the 2 flanking cities.  I really thought I had this game well in hand but then we asked Don, the TO, for help scoring after dice-down was called and he pointed out my mistake.  I played well, I just played the wrong mission.  I lost this one 4-16, I think.

Game 3
Mission: Moonshot

I played vs Don the TO and his Scourge.  Having played Scourge earlier, I was a bit more careful in what I did.  Scourge is somewhat of a glass cannon.  I was able to weather his first strikes and do some serious return damage with my surviving fleet elements.  And I learned exactly how devastating PHR bombardment can be.  I also learned what a double crit from a Dark Matter cannon can do to a cruiser!  That was three crippling blow rolls in one shot!  I knocked out his scanners, his engines, and set him on fire!  That gun is impressive.  I lost this very close one 8-12, if I remember correctly.

Overall, I came in 8th of 10.  Based on my first two games, I was pretty sure I was going to be last of the bunch.  It's a new game and very tactically deep so I guess I didn't do too badly.  I did get to double the amount of full games I played!

Final Standings

1 - James Winnett - Shaltari
2 - Andrew Fitzgerald - SHaltari
3 - Scott Watanabe - Scourge
4 - J.D. Welch - PHR
5 - Kevin Barrett - Scourge
6 - Jonathan Kuhl - Scourge
7 - Ward Kapach - PHR
8 - Rich Kappmeier - PHR
9 - Joseph Oliveira - Scourge
10 - Don Roach - Scourge (TO)

Best Sportsmanship - Ward Kapach (I owe him a drink)

My Tournament Experience: Dropzone

I've been playing Dropzone for a bit less than two years now.  I'm, at best, an average player and really only play in these events to get more games in and play against folks I only ever talk to online or at the LVO.  Once again, there was a strong contingent from Arizona: Andrew, James, and JD (I think, holy cow my memory is bad!  I remember faces, just not names).  Turns out there was a decent Bay Area group: Scott, Joe, (both from an FLGS near my home) and I.  And a Canadian group: Ward and his buddy (I can see his face, just not his name).  And of course, Jon and Jeff & Trish, from Utah.

This is the list I brought...

Hammer of the Sphere
Clash: 1498/1500 points
Hand of the Sphere [407 pts]
Hera Squad: Hera(Councillor), Hera (Guardian), 2x Apollo-A, Njord [407 pts]
Battle Pantheon [223 pts]
Battle Squad: Phobos [63 pts]
Helios Squad: 2x Helios, Neptune [160 pts]
Battle Pantheon [223 pts]
Battle Squad: Phobos [63 pts]
Helios Squad: 2x Helios, Neptune [160 pts]
Immortals [113 pts]
AM Rifle Team: 2x Immortal Longreach Team, Triton A1 [113 pts]
Pegasus Group [362 pts]
Valkyries: 2x Valkyries, Neptune, 2x Juno A2 [162 pts]
^ Sharing ^ Sirens: 2x Sirens [100 pts]
Medusa: Medusa [100 pts]
Heavy Pantheon [170 pts]
Heavy Squad: 2x Odin, Neptune [170 pts]

The opposing army rosters are all from my flawed memory, so don't hold me too closely to them.  It's simply a list of what I think I remember.

Game 1
Mission: Survey and Control

Hera & Hera Bodyguard with 3x Apollos
5x Apollos
3x Phobos
2x Menchit A2
2x Angelos A2 and Neptune
3x Valks
1x Immortals
2x Juno A2

James, my opponent for this game, is from the extremely capable Arizona crew.  He has a beautiful PHR army painted in a winter motif that are the knees of bees. And his display board (see above)!  Wow!  James was running a similar army to me, but he had 3 squads of Valks and a whole lot of Apollos, like a million of them!

In short, I just couldn't keep up.  He out gunned me on demo with the vast Apollo force and he out moved me with the Valks.  This was probably the worst possible match up for me on this mission as I had a more middle-of-the-road army and he was built for speed.  It was really hard trying to keep him from gobbling up the Intel.  I out shot him, though, and did a fair amount of damage.  I was able to slow him down a bit on T3 by killing a squad of his Valks in CQB using some Sirens and my own Valks.  I probably over-killed them.  It would have been better to just let the Sirens have them and go collect with my Valks instead of doubling up on them.  I shudder to think what the score would have been if I didn't lay them low.

It was a great game.  Fairly close throughout.  But, things fell apart in T6 and in the end I lost something like 4-16 with no KP bonus for James.

Game 2
Mission: Crucible

This game was against Jeff from Utah and his well-painted Shaltari.  This was Jeff's first tournament (or the first one at a major event like LVO, anyway).  He had...

Eden x2
Spirit x2
Haven x2
Gharial CV2
Tomahawks x6
Braves x4
Kukri x3

I hadn't played vs Shaltari since before the Panther came out, so I guess it worked out in my favor seeing as they just Nerf'ed the thing.  I was deathly afraid of the Panther and kept my Njord well hidden and avoided exposing anything I had to it.

It was great to see a Fast Mover on the table, too!  I half-wish I'd brought mine.  It really made me think hard about AA coverage and how to avoid leaving my troops exposed in a light dropship.  Slowed my advance down considerably in that respect.  I did end up killing it mid-game as I had really good overlapping AA set up between the dual Phobos and the quad Helios.  It would have been hard for him to use it more than twice, statistically speaking.

Jeff wounded my home building pretty badly in the first two turns and I lost some Sirens and Valks to Falling Masonry.  I finally had to abandon that Objective without finding it.  I found the second/left side Objective on a lucky 6 and scooted off-table on T4.  He found his home Objective on T4 also.  In T5 I killed a squad of occupier Braves that was holding an Objective they found last turn.  But, in the same activation/Battlegroup on T5 he moved a second squad of Braves in so that when I did beat the occupier squad, the Objective passed to the new squad instead of me.  Then my squad got killed in T6.  Well played, Jeff!

I haven't played many Critical Location missions so I had to rely on Internet Wisdom here.  As the Hawk Forum pundits say, "Grab that Critical Location early!"  They were right!  You end up scoring better with the Critical Location than the Objectives.  Once I had a good presence, meaning the Odins, on the Critical Location, it became hard for Jeff to keep up, score-wise.  We each scored an Objective extraction and he ended up holding one at the end of the game, but the aggregate Critical Location points put me ahead when dice-down came.

I won this game 14-6 with no KP bonus.

Game 3
Mission: Bunker Assault

PHR 1,500 - LVO 2017 - J.D. Welch
Hera (CV3 - Counsillor), Hera (Guardian), 3x Apollo-A
2x Phobos, 2x Menchit A2, Njord
1x Phobos
2x Immortals, Triton A1
2x Helios, Neptune
2x Immortals, Triton A1
2x Erebos-B, Neptune
2x Valkyries, 2x Angelos
2x Valkyries, 2x Angelos

In this game I played vs JD Welch of the Arizona crew.  I was not confident, to put it mildly.  Those guys play a lot, they are well read of the rules, and they each bring great lists.  I was still high on my win from the last game, so I didn't mind too much if I lost this game, too.  Really, as long as I get to play and score at least one in the "W" column for the weekend, I'm happy.

Surprisingly, I played well above my skill level this game and my dice didn't crap all over me like they usually do.  JD and I had very similar lists and the only advantage I had on the table was that I feel I was positioned better, overall, than he was.  I was able to kill a squad of his Valks with my Sirens and my own Valks on T3, limiting his ability to score double in the bunkers.  Also on T3, I killed his Erebos, who were well passed the center line and disrupting my forces, with my Herra/Apollo command squad via a short-hop back out of range of his jammers and then better than average rolling on the guns.  This opened up my shooting options for the rest of the game.

We danced around the bunkers for the first three turns, not committing our troops in order to hide our intentions.  Of course, our home bunkers were easily scored by each of us.  He did get a squad of Immortals and a squad of Valks in the North bunker, but I was able to hop my command squad, 2 helios, a squad of Long Reach in the open, and half a squad of Valks in the open to within scoring range to offset his double scoring troops on T6.  The center bunker scoring was closer as my Sirens ducked in there on T6 to hopefully outscore his 3 Angelos and whatever else he could muster in that area.  I ended up being able to contest the south bunker as he forgot that Medusa can travel over short buildings unimpeded.  He surrounded the bunker with ground units except for a small gap left between the nearby building she was hiding behind and the bunker.  She had been hiding, out of LOS from those fiery Menchits, for 3 turns in preparation for ducking in there, last second.  I spent all that time hoping that gap wouldn't close.  Thankfully, it didn't.

Ultimately, I was able to control 3 of the bunkers to his two and beat him on KP, I think.  Final score was like 12-8.  This game was kind of a win/win for both JD and I as the loss didn't prevent him from winning the event, overall, and I FINALLY beat an Arizona player at something.

Final Standings
1 - J.D. Welch - PHR
2 - Jon Kuhl - Scourge
3 - Andrew Fitzgerald - Shaltari
4 - Rich Kappmeier - PHR
5 - James Winnett - PHR
6 - Jeff Doty - Shaltari
7 - Ward Kapach - PHR
8 - Solomon Chang - PHR

Best Painted - Rich Kappmeier

It was a great day for me as this 4th place position is the best placement I've had at the LVO to date and I also won Best Painted by a small margin (army pictures above not from the event).  This netted me $30 in free Hawk merch!  This bonus turned into my half-price purchase of a box of DfC Space Stations which are freakin' beautiful!  And Joel, one of the Infinity TO's, had some extra DzC FAT Mats that he was given erroneously and kindly passed them off to our group as prize support.  I got one of those, too!

Picture Dump

I took probably 100 photos but these are the only ones that are acceptable for publishing.  There's some really beautiful work on many of these models!

As expected, LVO was an exhausting weekend of challenging games and stupendous folks.  I really can't recommend attending more!  Thanks to all the TO's and Players and Vendors for making that weekend something I look forward to all year.  See you next year!

Click the Hot New Products photo right now to see what's new in the GSI store! 


  1. Great writeup, Rich!

    Thanks for the game!

    1. One note: Jon is not from AZ, he's from Utah, AFAIK. (Wouldn't want to lump him in with us gamey Arizona boys, now...). ;-)

    2. Thanks! I wish my camera worked, though.

      And thank YOU for the game!

    3. Corrected! Everyone is a little gamey. You guys just play A LOT.

    4. True, we do manage to play fairly frequently.

      Then again, our FLGSs (plural) don't restrict us to certain nights of the week, or days of the month, and stay open until midnight on Friday and Saturday... ;-)


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