Wave Serpent vs Basilisk in the 41st Millenium

Warhammer 40,000 friendly tournament? It can be done!

Ash Gavin

Hey there, players! 

We recently (ish) hosted the third Warhammer 40,000 Social, part of our series of friendly 40k tournaments. The idea is to introduce the idea of playing to win, against strangers, to players who are new to the tournament scene, or reluctant to join hyper-competitive events for their first rodeo.

Stop hiding, come out and play!

I'm here to give you an insight, because despite my 15+ years of Warhammer 40,000, I've never played in an organised event against someone I didn't know. How did it go? Let's find out...

The promise of a competition without extreme competitiveness must have resonated with our local scene and well into the surrounding areas. Some of our regular winners were keen to try something more thematic and fun than their usual tournament lists, and some beginners turned up to play their second or third games of 40k ever!

Some of my Craftworlders ready to go

We had a good spread of factions throughout - the Imperium was well represented by the Dark Angels, a force of Cadians and two Ultramarine armies, one entirely made up of Primaris marines and one featuring the oldest Predator we've ever seen in the store!

Arrayed against them were the Death Guard and Alpha Legion, and various Xenos. My own Craftworld Ulthwé were in the mix with a pair of Ynnari, a hard-hitting T'au force and a very intimidating Ork WAAAGH! 

Never let a Plaguecaster within spitting distance.

With 12 players signed up, a first prize, last prize, and Coolest Looking prize up for grabs, we lined up to face off and roll off!

My first game was against the Primaris Ultramarines force, commanded by Chris who was an almost total newcomer to the game - it was great to have such a spread of experience among the players. Some would say it was also great for me to get such a matchup on game 1, and I did enjoy talking us both through the game and easing my brain back into tactical thinking. I would need it.

Some Deathwing Terminators take inspiration from the hunting tactics of the polar bear...

The tournament used the Open War deck. Not only is this a great way to generate games, lots of fun and requiring a lot of adaptive thinking, but it ensures nobody can truly optimise their army list for the missions ahead of time. We drew a different Deployment and Objective for each match, leaving the twists out, as nobody ever remembers them anyway.

Match 1 without any no-man's land favoured the brave, the bold, and the player that went first! I got lucky, threw my Storm Guardians in to keep the Marines' guns quiet and D-Scythed my way to victory, while the Ynnari beside me did virtually the same to some Dark Angels. 

Yay for D-Scythes. These Wraithguard followed the "try your best and have fun" rule to the letter.

We voted for the Coolest Looking Army over lunch. This wasn't necessarily a Best Painted award in terms of skill, but took the overall aesthetic and visual impact of the army into account. There were plenty of strong contenders, but the greenskin tide with their ramshackle engines of war captured our hearts and won the vote and the prize money.

Orks Is Da Best! Painting rules were very relaxed for entrants, while we focused on playing the game, but even so, the level of effort on display was great.

Keen to get back to killing, we drew the second mission, winners wondering if our victories had been down to luck or skill, and those who missed out in round 1 eager to prove themselves.

"Invasion" against an Astra Militarum gunline was far from an ideal matchup, but I had great fun playing against store founder Ian. We played a very fun back-and-forth game came down to a draw, out of which he claimed a convincing tiebreaker. Another learning experience under my belt! 

Tanks for the memories!

Time for the final game, and I found myself tooth and nail for third place. My opponent was Death Guard fan Jack, with Typhus leading a swarm of poxwalkers. A Foul Blightspawn melted my Wraithlord effortlessly very early on, and I played catchup right until the final round, when a foolhardy Wave Serpent charge brought us to a draw on objectives, and I took the win on kill points. An absolutely nail-biting and incredibly funny game, and I can't wait for the rematch!


All told, the event couldn't have gone better. Players both new and experienced had fun and really got into the spirit of "friendly but competitive." My first opponent ended up taking the coveted Wooden Spoon of Defeat, so you're welcome Chris! I confidently expect a strong return from your Ultramarines in May. 

The next 40k Social is on good old Cinco de Mayo, and if you've been on the fence about attending a tournament in the past, come on down! The players and armies are all reasonable, friendly and keen to meet you. See you there!

Hi friend!

Nice one, players. We'll see you there!

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