Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tournament Mode Redux

Path to improvement or plotting my own downfall?  
If you've read this blog over the last week or two it will be no surprise that today was my first trip to a non-local tournament.  (By non-local I mean not at my FLGS, even though the trip today was only about 30 minutes.)  I made the trip up the Beltway and into Purgatory Maryland, ending up at Dream Wizards for a 35 point Steam Roller.  While trawling the events forum on the PP site I see Dream Wizards come up a lot, so it was good to finally make the trip out to get a fix on where it is.  Turns out it's really not that much further than Huzzah Hobbies, though much of that is traffic-dependent.  Plus Huzzah isn't in Maryland.

As usual I over-thought my lists in the days preceding the tournament and ended up making some changes about 10 minutes before the first round.  Three lists were under consideration: pButcher tier 4 for armor-spamming zone-holding goodness, pIrusk for high DEF spam and general attrition grind, and eVlad for crazy assassinations and general entertainment.  The pButcher list was very appealing, but in the end I convinced myself I needed to be prepared for Incorporeal/only hurt by magic targets, and having just Lola to deal with those situations wasn't going to cut it.  The two lists I ran were:

Kommandant Irusk  +6 points
* Black Ivan  10 points
* War Dog  1 point

Eiryss, Angel of Retribution  3 points
Greylord Ternion  4 points
6 Kayazy Assassins  5 points
* Kayazy Underboss  2 points
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich  2 points
Widowmakers  4 points
10 Winter Guard Infantry  6 points
* Winter Guard Officer & Standard  2 points
* 2 Winter Guard Rocketeers  2 points

Reinforcements: Drakhun with dismount, Widowmaker Marksman

Basic high DEF spam here.  On the drive in I got to thinking about Bile Thralls and how I didn't really have any tools for them, so I cut Reinholdt and went from max to min Kayazy so I could put in Widowmakers.  I'd had some decent success over the past week or so jamming with Iron Fleshed Kayazy, then giving them Battle Lust once they're engaged and cycling IF to the Winter Guard.  The Ternion are there for magic attacks and clouds, while eEiryss is there for obvious reasons (upkeep removal).  I'm fairly sure I've talked about Black Ivan with Superiority, but if not it's good fun.  DEF 14 with Dodge is very entertaining on a Khador heavy.

The venue.
Vladimir Tzepesci, Dark Champion  +5 points
* Juggernaut  7 points
* War Dog  1 point

Doom Reavers  6 points
* Greylord Escort  2 points
Harlan Versh, Illuminated One  2 points
10 Kayazy Assassins  8 points
* Kayazy Underboss  2 points
Kayazy Eliminators  3 points
Man-O-War Drakhun (+dismount)  5 points
Manhunter  2 points
Saxon Orrik  2 points

Reinforcements: Yuri the Axe, Manhunter, Widowmaker Marksman

Straight-forward here: mobility and weapon masters.  Plenty of feat targets to either clear large swathes of stuff (Doomies) or charge through everything straight to their target (Kayazy).  Harlan Versh is in to deal with Iron Flesh/Defenders Ward/general upkeep nastiness.  Saxon Orrik got added purely to hand out Pathfinder, but I also discovered he can be very effective as a combatant as well.  The Drakhun is the crown jewel here.  After spending a large portion of Friday assembling it, I was eager to see how it world perform.

Doing a bad job of taking the zones.
The place filled up fairly quick, and soon dice were rolling.  There was some confusion since there were two Adams (I never run into another one), but I figured out where I was headed and found out I'd be facing Legion to start.  This seemed pretty good since I actually play Legion, but turns out my opponent (Phillip) would be playing Bethayne, who is the Legion caster I'm least familiar with.  She has a character beast attachment that she can meld with, about 17 miles of text on her card, and has never really caught my eye, so I've barely spared her a glance.  Since her feat grants an additional die on magic attacks, the Internet (and common sense really) tells you to take Hex Hunters and Bayal with her, which Phillip did.  Also featured were a pair of Seraphs, a pair of Hellions, and the Blackfrost Shard.  Hex Hunters look weak on paper to me, so seeing them and no Carnivean-chassis beasts gave me a good feeling about the match-up.  Turns out this was a mistake.  That additional die on magic attacks, plus arcing Eruption of Spines, meant my Iron Fleshed infantry didn't do a lot of dodging and I found myself with about a dozen pieces in the bottom of turn two, or about 65% casualties.  After that the game was more or less decided.  I thought I had a chance at a ranged assassination but was out of range with everything except for a lone Widowmaker who didn't even have the decency to hit.  This was a mercifully quick game where I killed maybe six models, leaving me 0-1 with no control points and ~7 army/kill points.  Not an auspicious start.

For round two I drew Michael and Menoth.  The first thing I noticed about him was the flask he set down with his models.  He said since he'd lost his first game he was in fun mode, which after the thrashing I'd had in the first round sounded like a good idea.  I decided then to play Vlad for the rest of the day.  (I have the notion the pIrusk is a top-tier caster lodged in my head, and he probably is, but he's never been the fun or sexy choice.)  Michael put down a list that I've been considering myself: t4 eKreoss.  Lots and lots of Exemplars, which is what I like most about Menoth, backed up by a model I really like.  Michael's list was painted very well, which made all the primer on my side (plus the occasional, shameful glint of bare metal) seem even more disappointing to me.  We played a reinforcements scenario, which caused me to be immediately jealous of his unit of cavalry (which are a perfect reinforcement).  This was another poor showing on my part.  Despite already having an idea of what eKreoss does, asking Michael about it, and looking at the card, I still managed to feed most of my army straight into the feat-fueled bout of auto-hitting attacks.  Jamming with my Kayazy seemed like a great idea until it dawned on me that their DEF would again not save them and that I had done my opponent's work for him by running the in to engage the Menites.  After again seeing most of my army evaporate I made a number of activation and positioning errors which would have lost me the game on scenario at the top of turn three (aka the earliest scenario loss possible.)  Michael was nice enough to not only let me reconsider my final Hail Mary attempt to contest a zone after he pointed out that while I could kill an Errant solo with an impact attack he could just kill another Errant off to leave the solo in place, but also to point out the best route to get my Drakhun into the zone to contest.  We had a good time trying to engineer a Venger charge on Vlad for a while before noticing that we were the last game going, the clocks had expired already, and that the lunch break was half over.  Despite shoving my army into a woodchipper of my own accord, and not getting a picture of the game, this was the most enjoyable game of the day.
Round three in progress.  My box of troops is lonely.

I drew the bye in round three which was both lame and unfortunate, but someone's number has to come up for it.  The silver lining was that I had time to collect my gaming balance after losing ugly in the first two rounds, plus I got to wander around and check out the store and the other armies.  While looking at models I was struck by how familiar one of the Menoth armies looked, and how odd it was that I was seeing the High Reclaimer for the second time in three days after having never seen him on the table before.  Turns out it Herman who smacked me so hard on Thursday that I had a so-called "level up" experience.  Seems he's a traveling gamer walking the path I'm trying to find myself.  Considering I didn't expect to see anyone even remotely familiar, this was quite a surprise.  As a side note, he ended up taking second after losing in the bottom of turn one to some wacky long-ranged assassination I'd never even heard of before, where the win condition is to move your caster more than 3" out of your deployment zone...which the Kill Box artifice inherent to all games forces you to do.  This is something that bears looking out for, though I have no real idea how you avoid/counter it other than taking a caster with a solid stat line or hexing your opponent's dice at the start of the game.

The rout is well underway.
After more name-based confusion I found my table for round four.  This time my opponent was Carl(I think, we're going with it until I learn otherwise), who was playing Skorne.  Even though EV plays Skorne, they're one of the factions I'm least familiar with.  This unfamiliarity was compounded when the only thing I recognized on the table was a unit of Pain Givers (plus Gatormen, but they're not technically Skorne.)  Carl played eMorghul (who I mistook for eMakeda at first) with a pair of Rhinodons, an Archidon, a Pain Giver solo, and a Cyclops Brute.  It quickly became apparent that the gaming gods had decided my five game losing streak (plus a bye) was punishment enough.  I made a ridiculous number of Tough rolls while Carl muffed roll after roll.  Harlan Versh did very well, shooting down two Gatormen in a single turn (they had an upkeep on them), and I found out that Saxon Orrick can do a number on warbeasts.  Crazy dice on both sides makes it hard to tell, but I think I played better in this game.  I wasn't as zealous in my jamming and kept the Eliminators back until a good opportunity presented itself instead of running them in to engage and trusting their high DEF to keep them safe.  I also didn't jump at the first chance to launch an assassination run but instead took a turn to consolidate my advantage before going in for the kill in the next turn.  Part of my reasoning was that I didn't want to go straight in (which always seems a bit rude), though in retrospect that was probably the kinder option.  That said, one of the things I've learned about Steam Roller is that you want to score as many points as possible, both control and army/kill, because those ultimately determine where you finish up.

In the end it didn't really matter how many points of whatever stripe I accumulated.  Going 1-2 meant I was way out of the running, despite the "win" you get from a bye, but I had a good time and learned plenty, which was the whole point of the endeavor.  I took my first step outside of my local-local meta in search of the larger DMV meta, which seems to both exist and be fairly healthy.  The number of jacks surprised me with most lists running three, and a fair number of jack-intensive lists as well, despite the Internet rumors that jacks are dead and it's all about infantry now.  A more pleasant surprise was the complete lack of Cryx along with a strong showing from the Motherland, which had four loyal scions defending her honor.  Although I didn't leave with the hardware I wanted, I also didn't leave empty handed.  Waiting at each round one table were a pair of objective markers and dice with the Beltway Gamers logo.  Plus all the aforementioned learning and entertainment of course.  To cap the day off in the best possible fashion the Nats won and the Caps won, scratching my DMV sports itch at the same time as my DMV gaming itch.  Now to line up the next event...


  1. Phil is a pretty tough opponent, so don't feel too bad about losing to him. He's got a solid and fairly annoying list to play against and he plays it well.

    1. He was good with his list and caught me off-guard with a number of things. Most disappointing for me was that I completely wrote off the Seraphs. I've had plenty of experience with them and their strafing mouths, I know they really have no reason not to boost their shots, I (should) know that DEF 17 is nice but not invincible, and above all else I should have remembered that Legion doesn't care about Stealth. After feeling very confident with my high DEF troops over the last little while, I've been thoroughly reminded that in Warmahordes everything has a counter and that high DEF isn't anything close to a secret weapon.

      It was good to see how Bethayne works. She's a very effective anti-infantry caster, which I somehow hadn't anticipated. Unfortunately I never got to see how she worked while melded with Belphagore, but there's always next time.

  2. Hey, This was a great write-up. I was actually your second round opponent (name's Michael, not Carl, but I'll take it).

    We had a great game, and I'm glad to have played you and the three other new people I met on Saturday.

    FWIW I played eKreoss all day, went 3-1 ultimately and had a blast. Hope to see you around at other events!

    I'll blog about my experience at this week.

    1. Maybe I swapped names for rounds two and three/four. My bad in either case. I'll have to fix it up when it isn't time for hockey. Hopefully my Caps can take your (assumption based on the Sox hat from Saturday) Bruins down another peg tonight.

      As with my first game, I kinda fed my troops into your blender. In retrospect I really should have gone with the pButcher list I wanted to play as it might have forced my opponents to consider facing troops or facing armor instead of facing troops or troops. Good lessons to take into future tournaments.

      Grats on your finish. I'm fairly sure you took best painted and maybe third as well? The important thing is that you had a good time of course, but taking home some hardware never hurts. This was my first step in what I hope is a tour of the DMV gaming meta, so if I can manage to stay on that trail chances are we'll meet up again in the future. Next time I'll try and put up more of a fight for you. :P