The blood has cooled, the paints are put away, and the results are posted - it's time to reflect on the Gathering that is past. Well, my part in it, anyway.
First off, I can definitely call the tournament a success. Having gotten 4th Overall and 2nd General were both achievements I can be proud of in that field. I understand how the army works pretty well and it showed in my battles. I had a great time playing and did my best to make sure my opponent had a good time as well. I did pretty well in Sportsmanship - if Brent gave me #1 on his opponent ranking (which I think he did) then I earned the equivalent of one #2 and three #3 rankings. My downfall (if you can call it that) was my rushed painting. I only had a higher score than 4 other players, and was well behind 2nd and 3rd Overall. If I got the score I'd earned in Vegas I'd have gotten 3rd Overall and nearly taken Best Overall (since #1 didn't paint his own army).
I had about as good an army design as you can get with a big burly character in the lead. I was light on numbers but still had the survivability to avoid being laid to waste. The Guards of the Fountain Court, as suggested by Brent (I think), were a fantastic addition to the list. Ecthelion, using the King of Men stat line, was a great combat hero, overtaking most opposition with his F5 and two attacks plus spear support. The rangers also earned their place, softening up the opposition before rushing into help out via trapping and spear support. Gandalf definitely made the list what it was, though - all the tricksy stuff I could pull with him was awesome. I really enjoy playing with magical powers, partly because so few people actually have encountered them it leaves a significant imprint on them. I'm not sure how the army would have performed on objective holding missions or mobility missions (like Reconnoiter), but the missions given suited the army well, except for those darn Uruks.
Sportsmanship scores are always something of a quandary for me - I can't deny that I play to win and that I understand the rules very well and will let my opponent know when they are doing something wrong. However, I try to be nice about it and will readily point out when they could do something advantageous or bad to me as a result of a rule they don't understand. The biggest problems come when I encounter someone who thinks they know the rules but really don't, or someone who conveniently forgets rules when it doesn't suit them.
One brief point of conflict in my last game that troubled me was when I trapped a Morgul Stalker between the edge of the long hill we were on and a combat. It was on the Angmar table, and the hill had started against the edge of the table (it was flat along one side, clearly designed to sit along the edge). However, when this combat happened it had gotten bumped, so there was about a 1/2-3/4 inch gap between the actual table edge and the edge of the hill. My opponent brought up that he could retreat down the hill, and I pointed out that it had started against the table. He had been leaning over this hill to move his models in the center, and I'm thinking that was when it got bumped. He gave me this snort, and when I asked if it was a problem, he replied, "Oh, no, it's just one model", with a subtext (to my mind) of "You're an ass for pushing this point, but I'm going to let you have it to keep my sportsmanship score up". He wasn't obnoxious or anything, but I'm pretty sure that because I didn't back down there I got a lower ranking on the final sportsmanship sort. I'm just not sure how to deal with this, as I don't want to be walked all over, but I also don't want to lose a potential advantage that the rules say I have.
Ah, my painting. I knew it wasn't up to snuff, but the full impact of the rating did make me sad. I completely deserved it, though. I was painting on the plane, had minimal highlights on most of my models, and used a lot of quick and dirty methods. I need to significantly step up the detail painting and do another layer or two of highlights all over the models. That could earn me 6 more points on painting without a huge expenditure of effort, and possibly even 8 if I really impress the judges. 6 would have put me less than a point behind Brent and Best Overall, 8 would have given me the tournament. I can see adding some detailing to the cloaks and trim of the Fountain Court, plus maybe some battle damage on the warriors shields to get that Hand Painted Details level.
So I'll definitely put some more time into painting. I'm going to have to skip Adepticon - some day I will definitely have to go there, though. However, I can see doing the Necronomicon and GT Vegas, and might even be able to squeeze in a Games Day or something. Of course, I'm going to have to be very, VERY nice to my wife, and hope our child doesn't decide to be born while I'm playing with toy soldiers...