So to quickly recap the first article in this series I started wargaming in the Pacific northwest where there was a lot of emphasis placed on both theme and composition. Those have always stuck with me throughout my career as a wargamer. It wasn't until I moved back east that I started getting involved in the national tournament scene and in my opinion the old GW GTs were simply the best... You paid to play plus the cost of staying in a nice hotel with lunch covered. It was really exciting back then and you saw some really amazing armies like Mike Butcher's and Troy Clifton's.
The gaming scene in the area where I played in NC tended to be rather cliquish and I am one of those guys that likes to play at different stores. One of the best ever gaming stores I have ever played at is All Fun & Games located in Cary, NC. AF&G is owned and run by Vivian Carlton and I remember back when she was just kid working at a gaming store close to my apartment. They were big into leagues with a tournament to end each season and that was always a lot of fun. I met one of my best friends while I lived in NC, Mike Walsh... I still remember the first time we played, I brutalized his eldar but within a matter of a few weeks Mike raised his game and looking back I think our overall record versus each other is dead even. Mike is a very competitive player and his old Word Bearers army ended up being copied by a lot of other gamers around the country. Mike forced me to also raise my game and constantly playing against each other we both were able to take our game to the next level.
I won my share of RTTs in the area and as a result everybody came to play me with their A game so I had to raise it up another notch to keep my spot intact. I would say that my World Eaters army was my first very competitive list and it eventually became very mechanical. Back then rhino rush was still in play and in my opinion World Eaters could considtently beat all other rhino rush armies such as Blood Angels, Black Templars and Space Wolves... Being able to field good daemonic units made the difference. While they werent as good as they are now they could quickly saturate your opponent's battleline, tying them up long enough so that your World Eaters could finish them off. It was with the release of the 4th edition CSM codex that I was able to break through to a higher level of play, first with the Undivided/heavy Khorne then next with Emperor's Children. Emperor's Children will always be one of my favorite armies ever and they were just amazing both shooting (noise weapons) and in close combat. I finally took the plunge and started fielding a siren prince. Later some other top gamers elsewhere in the country had a year of phenomonal success using the siren prince but I was like 'already been there & done that'. Hee! Emperor's Children was an army I could smash other local gamers with but it was not until my first trip to Adepticon (2007) that I had the opportunity to take them to the national level leading a team to the team tourney. I won two games, lost one and tied another. It wasn't the best team I have played on but it was the opportunity to learn what it takes to be successful in Chicago. The first game of the team tourney I was hoodwinked by another team that brought an army themed on zombies using the Lost & the Damned rules... They had a lot of mutants modeled as shuffling zombies but then after my initial movement phase they informed their mutants were in fact not zombies and as such were not bound by the Slow & Purposeful rule. I thought that was extremely misleading and if I had known I would have played it entirely different... I lost some of my best units the first turn as a result of the deception. Later Mike Walsh and I ended up playing against Pete Deflorio from the Warmongers in the last round... They were fielding eldar & CSM... it was a brutal match that went down the wire with the end result a draw. That was and will always be one of my favorite games ever!
By this time I had moved to Florida starting off in the Orlando area. I was heavy into Blood Angels at the time and ended up winning over six RTTs that year with Deathwing, Space Marines, Blood Angels, Thirteenth Company and Dark Angels... That year was a milestone in my 40k career and I eventually found myself joining the club 40k Wrecking Crew and meeting my other best friend Gareth Hunt. It seemed like wherever Gareth and I played we always ended up in the top two spots.