It turns out that Graham painted some of the models in the BFG Armada rulebook.

As tournaments go, this one was excellent fun. No stress, no rushing, just a chilled out day of gaming. Despite half the players dropping out in the final few days with excuses ranging from the feeble “I have a thing” to the far more impressive “I’ve started coughing up blood”, the determined survivors got to play in Ireland’s first Battlefleet Gothic tournament.

After a pleasant night in Dicey’s (required to prepare me for the noise and confusion of miniature space combat), I woke up early, grabbed a plucky Eldar pirate captain from Maynooth and headed to Bray. The venue was the Methodist Church Hall, which bore a certain resemblance to the average Imperial Navy cruiser. The players shuffled around for a few minutes, looking at each other’s toys and the battlefields.

Round 1
I focused heavily on nova cannons with the smaller, 750 point, fleet bringing two Dominators. They were backed by two Tyrant class cruisers. This proved a touch unwise as Eldar holo-fields laugh at nova cannons.

 My first game was a small-scale battle against Graham’s Craftworld Eldar. This was a cagey, close run affair that saw no ships destroyed but a handful crippled. I managed to corner his fleet briefly and deal some damage, he pulled off a close-range bomber strike which did awful things to its target.

 
With the game on a knife-edge, both players disengaged and planned their next strike. Unfortunately for the Imperials, disengaging just left the Eldar with an easy path into my rear arc.

Had he managed to get those bombers into the air again, it would have gone very badly for me. But his luck was poor and by the time he had re-armed, we had reached turn eight. My rational caution and his damnable cowardice saw us score very few VPs and creep into the bottom of the table.

Elsewhere, Tau and Imperials clashed in what appeared to be a head-on collision. The Imperials triumphed, as is right and proper.

 The Eldar Corsairs suffered a mauling at the hands of their Dark cousins who used their lightning speed to good effect to catch the hapless good guys off-guard.

Round 2

Another game, another new fleet. This time, it was the Tau. After my experiences with the one successful Eldar bomber strike, I was quite terrified by the number of launch bays I faced and used nova cannons to suppress his carriers. His deflector shields protected him during the initial clashes and my dispersed fleet didn’t really inflict enough harm at range.

Shots were exchanged, bombers were shot out of the sky and his escorts proved to be awesome. I know that the Tau aren’t exactly veteran of space combat but the Warden class is a great design. Our fleets managed one good pass before the game ended and we counted our losses. I had lost one ship, he had lost a less expensive vessel and taken some damage. Victory to the blueskins.

Elsewhere, it was civil war as Craftworld and Corsair Eldar fleets met, with the pirates losing out.

The Dark Eldar and the more effective Imperial fleet fought it out with the pointy-eared gits tasting Imperial justice.

We all popped off for a leisurely lunch at the Porterhouse before returning for the last two rounds. The fleets now scaled up to something akin to normal Gothic with each player bringing 1500 points of vessels and a transport flotilla with 120 points of upgrades.

Round 3

Ah, the Dark Eldar. This game reminded me why I adore BFG, it’s just so fluffy. The Dark Eldar used their speed and mimic engines to sneak three raiding parties aboard my battleship in the first turn, taking out its steering, setting it alight and killing my commanders.

 
The mission involved delivering invasion transports to the target planet. The Dark Eldar took full advantage of the chaos and snuck their transports into the shadow of the planet. My tranports lurked nearby, unwilling to advance into range of the raiders.

Suicidal strikes by his escorts kept my fleet at bay until his landings had been completed. The cost was high but it did completely stall the advance.

His cruisers had taken the longer route and appeared behind my fleet. Bombers took to the air (space) and my crews could only watch their approach and brace for impact. After the initial strike, the enemy switched back to Impaler-borne raiding parties.

The rain of assault boats continued throughout the game but they are a little too eager as the raiders constantly hit the wrong targets, taking out prow/dorsal weapons control or lighting fires when their own ships are being raked by the starboard weapons. I put it down to the heroic crews defending critical sectors of their ships.

But he gets close enough to maul my transports and vanishes, having taken some surprise hits from the plucky rearguard. A close run game but the damage inflicted on the Dark Eldar outweighed the bonus points for his successful landing.

The Tau and Eldar fly straight at each other with amusing consequences. See below.

The Craftworld Eldar narrowly lose to the Imperial Navy as they get run down like roadkill.

My favourite shot. An Eldar battleship is destroyed and its core detonates with the largest possible explosion radius. The first picture is John measuring the extent of the explosion. The second is what remains of his fleet afterwards.

Round 4

The last round was against my oldest adversary, John’s Eldar Corsairs. My Retribution class battleship enjoys this match up.

The early clashes go my way as a brave strike against the Retribution fails to cripple it (very unlucky dice) and things continue along those lines. The Eldar are harried, hunted and smashed on my right as they are trapped in open space.

It all going well, with his escorts being forced into the open and wiped out. After the initial firefight, he used the asteroid fields on my right to bypass the guns of the fleet with his largest ships. His battered capital ships move against my transport flotilla with surprising results, they deal damage but some transports survive. An honourable mention goes to the Q-ship which delivered the final blow to his battleship as it closed in. Unfortunately, the crew of the up-gunned transport did not live to receive their giant medals.

The Dark Eldar do terrible things to the Tau. The transports are shredded and much of the fleet lost. Elsewhere on the battlefield, the surviving Tau ships chase off one cruiser and hide.

Conclusion 
While the organiser was disappointed by the drop-out rate, I’ll argue he can be pleased with the result. The event ran, the fleets were pretty and the players had a fantastic time. In my own case, I got to play three completely new fleets for the very first time. Now, if we can avoid any Necron players finding out about the next one, we’ll all be very happy.
 
Name Fleet Game 1 VPs Game 2  VPs Game 3 VPs Game 4 VPs Total VPs
Graham Craftworld Eldar 55 547 880 2100 3582
Ugo Tau Protection Fleet 250 220 1650 475 2595
Padraic Imperial Navy 80 152 795 1201 2228
Conor Dark Eldar 257 0 519 1348 2124
Lloyd Imperial Navy 445 245 940 0 1630
John Eldar Corsairs 170 160 150 215 695

And with a venue like that, there should be a next one. There were also rumours of a Blood Bowl or Epic event in the future. As a massive fan of both, I’m ecstatic.