My experience with tournaments or any sort of competition is probably lower than most of you reading this. I've only really entered a few local events, never dreaming of entering Grand Tournaments and the like (probably due to the excessive competition attitude).
My first was a local under 16's event, coming third in the battles and first overall (knowledge and having the only fully painted and non-commission painted army helps). The second was a doubles, though I have long forgot where I came. I'm sure it wasn't last. Then last year I also partook in another doubles (a blind doubles) coming fourth overall. So, not a terrible set of results over the years. I've decided to enter an event this year, Wartorn's 1500 points 40k tournament singles. This is the first singles event I've joined in a long while, and in way's I'm not sure what to expect, as whilst it is local, it is in a far bigger venue with more people attending.
In most cases, the armies I've played have been 'fun' lists and not the uber-hardcore exploitation lists. I'm expecting some people to do that though, but I'm also sure the majority will play for fun, as the costs of the event are for a charitable cause. Well, that's the stance I will be taking. I will have some good units, but I am aiming for a more fun list. Here is my first draft of my 1500 point list
HQ-Sorcerer, mastery three, Terminator armour, mark of tzeentch, spell familiar
ELITES-3 mutilators, veterans of the long war
TROOPS-20 cultists, 17 autoguns, 2 heavy stubbers
TROOPS-21 cultists, 2 flamers
TROOPS-9 Thousand Sons, meltabombs, rhino
FAST ATTACK-Heldrake, Hades autocannon
HEAVY SUPPORT-Vindicator, siege shield, warpflame gargoyles
HEAVY SUPPORT-Land Raider
HEAVY SUPPORT-5 havocs, 4 autocannons
What I have here is a list which plays to my theme, and has a number of units able to tackle most types of units. The heavies are where my main fire-power is, the havocs are ideal for anti-infantry, anti-transport, and could even handle a flyer with the amount of high-powered shots. The vindicator is my big blasting unit, able to take on tanks or squads; the latter will be vulnerable to the soul blaze hits granted by the gargoyles. The Land raider's main role is to drop off the mutilators and sorcerer. The re-rolls granted by VOTLW will be very handy in smashing anything from a space marine codex, plus if I run a biomancy sorcerer, I could see these guys buffed even further.
The big cultist mobs are for 'bagging and tagging', acting as my main objective holders. the auto/stubber squad will sit on my own objective, whilst the other mob will run ahead. Why twenty-ONE though? Truth be told, I had four points spare and extra bodies is always good. The Thousand sons are able to either stay back or charge ahead in thw wake of the Land Raider, thanks to their Rhino. The sorcerer allows them to be scoring troops choices, and of course is thematic. The Drake gives me some nice areal support against ground targets like tanks with its str8 gun, or against other flyers.
My main worries about this list are AV14 spam and flyer spam (i.e. more than one). I am capable of taking down such units, but if they are copy-pasted throughout a list I might struggle. Armour shouldn't be a problem though if I can get my mutilators in close, 3 pairs of chain-fists can carve up anything. The Drake's Daemonforge rule will help against those targets that must die soon, or against high-armour. This is a first draft though, and I'm still waiting approval of Forgeworld units, allies and fortifications, so this list may change a lot or a little.
Whatever happens, my core will be the Thousand Sons and sorcerer, so I need to get at least those guys painted for now. I'd be interested to hear your feedback, but do remember that I want to stick to my theme (tank-heavy thousand sons).