Monday, March 5, 2012

This "Week" in the Gnarls League, Part 5

Not this Death Race (thank Jebus).
As entertaining as the Gnarls league was, by the end of last week I was feeling a little crisp around the edges after all that gaming.  What better way to cap that off than with a tournament?  The format was simple: 25 points, single list, all rounds use the Overrun scenario.  Apparently this is a "Death Race" format.  Looking back on the tournament, the name is fitting.  With 27 minute death clocks (54 minutes total for the game at most) and a scenario that forces you to the center, things got hot and heavy with a quickness.  It was an entertaining setup.

Coming up with a 25 point list was more challenging than I expected.  After getting used to playing at 50 points, cutting my list in half required some tough compromises.  While I could manage to run a tier list at 25 points the resulting list (Typhon, Seraph, 3 Shredders, 2 Shepherds, 2 Forsaken) was too heavy on support pieces (which I count the Shredders as) and too light on heavy hitters.  (I think of Typhon as heavy support instead of a heavy hitter, so the list is all support and no hammer.)  My second try was a little better (2 Carnis, 3 Shredders, 2 Forsaken), but there were two big problems: first I had one Carnivean too many, second I had no Seraph (and therefore no Slipstream).  Slipstream is too versatile to leave behind, so I went back to the drawing board.  Leaving behind the tier list I've come to love so much, my third attempt was much better: 2 Scytheans, a Seraph, a Shredder, and a Forsaken.  With both Slipstream and Tenacity I felt better about this list, but finally decided to trade in the Shredder to upgrade a Scythean to a Carnivean.  My final list was thus:

Small but effective.
25+5 points, 5 models

Absylonia, Terror of Everblight  +5 points
* Carnivean  11 points
* Scythean  9 points
* Seraph  8 points

The Forsaken  2 points

Lean and mean with only 5 models, this list had everything I wanted (that I could reasonably fit into 25 points.)  Spiny Growth is a fantastic animus and worth trading a Shredder for, plus the Carni is no slouch in the realm of eating things.  The Scythean is a pure beatstick, and more reasonably priced than the Carnivean.  (There's a story behind getting a Scythean on the table, but it will have to wait until next time.)  The Seraph is just amazing and doesn't really need more comment, though I will add that it makes a great target for Forced Evolution (16 DEF is nice.)  Add a Forsaken for Fury management and general utility, then call it done.  The prospect of facing an infantry horde was unsettling, but I'd probably be outnumbered no matter what my build looked like, so I decided to just play my own game and force my opponent to react.  Eight combatants showed up, including myself, which was a bit of a disappointment considering we had 23 league participants and 10-15 people turning out on any given Thursday night, but scheduling rears its ugly head at times and keeps us from where we'd like to be.  Enough maudlin musings, on to the carnage.

Horrible shaky cam.
My first opponent was Ron from Miniature armies, huge time sink.  He stuck to his caster-guns, just like I did, and fielded Strakhov.  You can find his list, general tournament recap, and a nice photo gallery in this post.  This first round was the quickest and most brutal game I played.  The board had an obstruction in the center which I tried to use to block up the inevitable feat turn charge, but to no avail.  I lost the Carni and Scythean both at the top of turn two, but there was a silver lining.  Strakhov has to play up-field to make his feat effective, and the 12" range on his feat is the same as Aby's charge range when she has Reach.  Ron did a good job trying to hide Strakhov behind the central obstruction, but couldn't quite keep him away from Aby (with a little help from a Slipstreaming Seraph.)  Ron was running a little late, so we got started a couple minutes after the other games but finished well before any of the others, a testament to the effectiveness of the Death Race format.

Game number two was against Hawk, who I played with in my first league team game.  He ran Durgen Madhammer with a Driller, a Blaster, Croe's Cutthroats, Gorman, Dougal MacNaile, an Ogrun Bokur, Reinholdt, Rhupert, and Thor Steinhammer.  I have no picture for this game as I was busy trying to learn about all the things I saw across the table, having never played against Mercs before.  This was a strange game from my perspective.  Hawk played Durgen much farther up than I would have, and after I cleared out the Cutthroats he had sent in to tie up my beasts I got a Trampling Carni in on Durgen and made a wee snack out of him.  I may have unintentionally thrown Hawk a curve the first time he used Durgen's triple-template shot.  I hadn't read that part of his card, or else had forgotten the details by the time he started shooting, and didn't know how it worked (I now know he shoots and possibly deviates, then the rest of the shots deviate from wherever the first shot ended up.)  While a tournament game isn't my first choice for a learning environment, there weren't a lot of options in this case.  In my limited experience of one game playing with him and watching him play here and there between turns of my own games, Hawk plays at a rapid clip and has the encyclopedic knowledge of a Mk. 1 veteran, so it's entirely possible that having to slow down a bit and explain what was going on put a kink in his mojo.  We had a lengthy post-game breakdown where we discussed what he could have done.  My thoughts were foremost to keep Durgen back further and to use his jacks as counter-punchers (the only pieces that took part in the action were Durgen and the Cutthroats) while using the Cutthroats to focus down one beast at a time.  Hawk was of the opinion that he just didn't have the punch to take out all my beefy beasts, and it's very possible he was right.  While the Cutthroats and their Poisoned weapons seemed like a viable threat to me, I will concede that at P+S 8 they face a long, uphill slog to crack ARM 20 beasts.  Ultimately I don't know Mercs very well, certainly not enough to figure out how they could have countered my list.

The Carnivean got a little too eager.
After two rounds I found myself on the top table, a repeat of my first tournament outing.  My final opponent was Jason, who had previously beat me up pretty good with a swarm of lights and Amon.  This time he was running eFeora with a Reckoner, a Redeemer, min Choir, max Errants with UA, Rhupert, the Covenant, and Wracks.  This game swung on a pair of events.  First, I took out about half of the Errants with an epic Blight Bomb Shroud where I managed to roll far more 9s on two dice than I should have while Jason managed to fail every Tough roll.  Second was a Blight Field that shut down both of his jacks, which kept my beasts alive for another turn and allowed them to scrap both jacks and take a couple bites out of the rest of the infantry.  After I took out the jacks it was a game of maneuvering which saw Feora move in to take out my Scythean.  I thought I had the game in the bag after that when I Trampled my Carnivean through most of the remaining infantry and over Feora, only to find out that I couldn't turn around to eat her once the stomping was over.  After deflating a bit, I sent the Seraph in to Headbutt Feora and poke her a few times, then Aby flew in to finish the job.  While I feel I had this one sewn up fairly early (the Blight Field that caught both his jacks was brutal), I had lots of opportunities to make some small mistake in positioning.  Jason is a good enough player that he would have been able to capitalize on any opening I presented, and as a result this game was the most satisfying.

Go me.
Thus ended the Gnarls league.  The final results saw me win both the league and the tournament.  I ended up tied on points with Danny, but got first because I finished my games a day before he did (not because I had beaten him our head-to-head match like we both thought.)  In the post-tournament loot handout I was more than a little embarrassed by the end when I took:
  • $20 in store credit for the league
  • A medal for finishing first in the league
  • Another $5 in store credit for winning the tournament
  • A PP bandana for having the fastest caster kill
Nice as all these things are, the most valuable thing I got from the entire league was experience.  After writing a decent sized paragraph about what I learned, I realized I wrote the exact same thing in my last post, so if you're curious and didn't read that past then go check it out.  What I said there still applies.

For now I get a brief respite from the frenzy of the league, but not for too long.  The next seasonal league starts up a little over a month from now, with a Longest Night event in between.  There's also Paint the Target for this month (a model with a template or AoE, which will be Typhon and/or a Ravagore), the newly announced "Make Something Amazing Contest" also at Lost Hemisphere, plus another top-secret project or two.  Then there's the box of Death Company I got with my league winnings that's waiting to be turned into an Honor Guard, plus my intention to do some base coating on all my "in progress" Blood Angels so my army doesn't look quite so shabby when EV finishes up his Dark Eldar (if he doesn't get entirely distracted by Space Wolves in the meantime).  Throw in general life things as well and my plate is as full as ever.  No rest for the weary and all that...


  1. Congrats on the win! Those games looked really fun!

  2. Yeah, congrats! Great fun to read.

  3. It was a good time. Being on the clock makes games more entertaining for reasons I have no grasp on, but I don't have to understand it to enjoy it.