Monday, May 21, 2012

Revenge of Tournament Mode

The right way to prepare for a tournament. 
I keep my eyes open for tournaments in the DMV, and this weekend was full of them.  On Sunday Games & Stuff (which I'll get to one of these days) had a tournament going and on Saturday my local group was trying to put together an end of Olgunholt tournament.  Unfortunately that fell through because of the other tournament going on Saturday, a 50 point Steam Roller down at Game Vault, which was already on the calendar for a number of the locals.  We ended up sending five people down south to take the fight to Fredericksburg, the first expedition of the still coalescing Nova Nomads (of which more will undoubtedly be written later, when there's more to write about).  I met up with Danny, Hawk, and Ron in Falls Church, where we all piled in Hawk's car.  After a quick drive down and a stop at Sonic, we got to Game Vault and saw our fifth local, Austin, making his way in.  There were 15 players when we got started, so the TO filled in to even up the numbers.  Fortunately there was another willing organizer who took over the administrative duties (also the same guy whose Skorne I played at Dream Wizards about a month ago, but whose name I still can't manage to hang onto.  Third time is the charm).  I'd played a handful of games over the past week to reacquaint myself with Legion and fielded the following:

Absylonia, Terror of Everblight  +5 points
* Angelius  8 points
* Carnivean  10 points
* Ravagore  9 points
* Scythean  8 points
* Seraph  7 points
* 3x Shredder  2 points each
Shepherd  1 point
3x The Forsaken  2 points each

Reinforcements: Carnivean

 Vayl, Disciple of Everblight  +6 points
* Carnivean  11 points
* Raek  4 points
* Ravagore  10 points
* Scythean  9 points
* Shredder  2 points
* Typhon  12 points
2x Shepherd  1 point each
Strider Deathstalker  2 points
2x The Forsaken  2 points each

Reinforcements: Harrier, Seraph

Aby is my go-to girl, so the plan going in was to play her until I lost.  Despite getting in a handful of games with pVayl over the past week I still don't feel like I have a good handle on how she works, and a tournament is not the best place to learn a new(ish) caster.  Both lists are pretty straight-forward: lots of beasts to smash faces with.  Now, on with the show.

The lines form.
My first round was against Ron (a different one than I rode down with) and his Xerxis brick.  EV has run Xerxis a couple times, with Cetrati no less, but not in the configuration I faced here.  Ron ran a couple support pieces (Agonizer, Krea) that decreased my hitting power and increased his staying power, which resulted in a far more resilient brick than I planned on.  With Close Quarters as the scenario a head-on collision was almost required, and we both delivered.  There were two obstructions that formed a bottleneck between the two zones.  It was just wide enough for two beasts to gum up, which I did, so the game quickly became me trying to grind down his Cetrati while fending off a unit of Nihilators that made a push on his zone.  Ron seemed content to let his beasts hang back while I flailed away at the Cetrati, and our game ran long as a result.

At the end of the grindfest.
Lately I've heard/read a lot about people jamming zones with models when they think a round is about to end, which didn't make any sense to me until Thursday when I was playing a tune-up game with Hawk.  I ended up winning on a tie-breaker because I had more models in the relevant zones than he did.  While I'd love to take credit for that as some master planning, the reality is it was blind luck.  I learned a good lesson about tie-breakers in Steam Roller though, and I put that lesson to use in this first round.  When I thought the round was getting close to ending, I ran a Forsaken around into my zone.  The round went longer than I thought, but Ron neglected the Forsaken during his turn which allowed me to drop a second F-bomb on his backfield (I had set one off earlier in the game), which knocked out his Agonizer (which isn't a beast like I assumed it was) and did some other damage.  The round ended soon after and I won with my lone Forsaken in my zone as Ron didn't have anything in his zone.  This game was much closer than I would have liked and featured some mistakes and poor play on both sides.  In writing this report up here, I realize I could have exploited Flight and the obstructions in the center to send some pieces into his flanks.  I also could have made a stronger push on Xerxis, who I had tagged with a Ravagore shot early in the game, instead of letting him limp around on a handful of boxes.  Ron could have used his beasts to greater effect, and neglecting my Forsaken was enough to cost him the game.  While it wasn't a resounding victory, it was a win all the same.  They don't ask how, they ask how many.

For round two I drew Greg (I think) and eSorscha.  When I saw the scenario was Guidons I was very happy.  Guidons absolutely requires a strategy going into it.  Lots of podcasts have covered ideas for the scenario and I also played it against Herman when I got my lunch handed to me a month or so back.  Greg looked a little confused while reading the scenario and had more than a few questions, so I felt confident before the game even started.  Add in the fact that I knew what his list (WGI Deathstar, Behemoth, Beast 09, eEiryss, Aiyana & Holt) would try to do and I thought I was in a strong position.  My plan to take out his guidon on turn 2 went south when I didn't Slipstream my Seraph forward on turn 1 (which left it too far away to shoot in turn 2), and I took a further hit when I carefully positioned a beast screen in front of my guidon before moving it.  This left the door open for a salvo from the Behemoth and the WGI Rocketeers that took my guidon down below half, but when Greg moved his guidon away from the zone(!) I felt better.  There was a tense moment or two when I left Aby a bit far forward while neglecting to remember that WGI can spray which, when combined with eSorscha's feat, pushed Aby's DEF 17 to the limit.  Fortunately I had camped sufficient Fury for transfers and survived the turn.  When Greg again failed to get his guidon into the zone I had the game in the bag, but still had to do some dirty work.  I've learned that in tournaments you have to score as many points as possible in case of tie-breakers, so I apologized profusely and then set about murdering his mens before ending my turn and winning by scenario.  As usual, no pictures means I was fully invested in the game.  I think Greg's army was fully painted, so it's a shame I don't have any record of it.

Judging from this one experience with timed turn tournaments, there's always one or two games that go the distance.  Since I managed to win (relatively) quickly, I had plenty of time to look in on other games and chat up the other players.  During this time, all the 2-0 players found each other: Danny, Hawk, Philip (my first round opponent from the Dream Wizards tournament), and myself.   This collection pleased me in that our group would take at least two of the top three spots, potentially all three, and I might get another crack at Philip on a day that I felt better about my play.  Unfortunately, something went wrong in the tournament software tubes.  I drew Danny for round three, but Hawk and Philip didn't play each other.  This would come into play later...

End of game.  Note the massive mortar.
Danny pulled a bit of a switcheroo on me.  His two lists were Saeryn and eLylyth, but I was fairly confident he would play Saeryn since she's the caster I think he's played the most and we'd talked on the way down about writing up an eLylyth list just to scare the pants off potential opponents but having no intention of running it (or even the models for it in my case).  You can imagine my surprise when he picked eLylyth (Ravagore, Bolt Thrower, Carnivean, Scythean[I think], full Raptors, two Deathstalkers).  This made me think for a minute about how I'd play against eLylyth, but I decided to stick to playing my game instead of countering Danny's.  Plus there was a big Khador mortar in the center of the table that I hoped to hide behind.  The scenario was Sacrifice which involves radial (corner) deployment, so the mortar was even more useful as a LoS blocker than if we'd had the standard table edge deployment.  This game was a nasty one for me.  Danny cut down all my Forsaken on turn two with a combination of Raptors and Deathstalkers and did a good job of getting around my attempts to screen/hide my pieces.  I misjudged the size of the zone on one turn (it's a 6" radius, not 4") and narrowly missed scoring one turn, but when Danny didn't reinforce the zone during his turn I was able to clear it out and score a point.  That same turn I saw a lane to eLylyth, so I walked my Scythean over to pick her apart.  Despite boosting I managed to miss three of four attacks and figured my battleship was sunk.  I pushed on anyway and fired a hail mary with my ravagore at an in-melee eLylyth and somehow managed to hit, then rolled bananas for damage and left her on a single box and on fire.  During Danny's turn the fire didn't go out and I rolled well enough to burn Lylyth to a cinder.  A narrow victory in what was easily the most entertaining game of the day for me.

Austin (L) vs Danny (R) in round one.  Note the Menite temple.
With Hawk and Philip both winning, there were three undefeated players going into what was supposed to be the final round.  Despite wanting another crack at Philip, I hoped to pull Hawk as my opponent as I was reasonably familiar with his lists (Fiona and Durgen), and because I think Absylonia matches up better against Warmachine (Blight Field) than Hordes (Spirit Eater is nice, but requires her to get into melee).  Luck was with me in the assignment phase as I drew Hawk, but that also meant I had to hope Philip lost his match or else face the possibility of a round five.  Hawk went with his Fiona list (3-4 jacks, Sea Dogs, Boomhowler, lots of solos), which I had seen in action a couple times over the past few weeks and had played on Thursday, so despite not being 100% on how things like Ragman or Bosun Grogspar work I still felt like I knew what the list would try to do.  This was a very back-and-forth game that got bogged down in and around a big Menite temple that dominated the center of the board.  Hawk declared the game over at least twice, but we played on until dice down.  He couldn't do much about my Angelius (between Forced Evolution, Tenacity, and hugging a wall it was ~DEF 21), where I always meant to use its animus to free it up from the press of bodies but never remembered to.  That worked in my favor though as it made it nigh immune to shooting and magic.  This was also a reinforcements scenario which meant I got my first taste of what Alexia does (fires off weapon master solos) while also getting to bring a Carnivean in off the flank to take a cluster of Boomhowlers in the rear.  This was a grindfest where no one could score a point.  Having learned my lesson about when games might end in the first round, I kept an eye on how long we had been playing and ran a Seraph into my zone when I thought dice down was coming.  Sure enough the round ended a minute or two into Hawk's turn and I squeaked out another win on army points in the zone.

Philip also won his game, so at the end of round four we had two players at 4-0.  We had the option of playing out the round or going to tiebreakers (strength of schedule, however that works).  This was around 7:30-7:45, which was 12 hours since I'd woken up and about 8.5 hours since the tournament began.  I was pretty done with Warmahordes for the day but probably would have played out the final round if I'd driven myself down.  Of course I was part of a carpool and didn't want to hold up three other people for another two hours, so I told Philip I'd rather go to the tiebreaker which he agreed with.  Before the tally came in I asked him if he wanted to pool the first and second place prizes and split them evenly since we were tied for the win, which he also agreed to.  The tiebreaker went my way, so I ended up the victor.  Hawk took third, so the Nomads had a successful first outing.

Hopefully the first of many.
In addition to the Steam Roller coin (which I'm very happy about), I also got a certificate and $45 in store credit, which was a very pleasant surprise.  I had taken a look through the Warmahordes stuff between rounds for interesting stuff, which was fortunate since it was getting late in the night and I was eager to find a friendly toilet to demolish (bad form to stink up the store).  Legion and Khador was high up on the shelf, so they got the best looks, while Minions was further down and the Menoth stuff was perhaps two inches off the floor, so didn't get any real attention.  I had spotted a pair of Bolt Throwers in my previous passes, so I went with those plus Alten Ashely (for my NFL games when I draw a Hordes opponent).  The Bolt Throwers should offer some extra board control shenanigans with their Pushing shots, plus non-elemental shooting attacks, and they'll allow me to give eLylyth a whirl.  A unit of Striders or maybe Raptors and I'll have everything I want for eLylyth, at least until the Naga Nightlurker and Succubus come out.  In retrospect I kinda wish I'd gotten the box of Errants I saw instead as I've been planning on doing Menoth for the Journeyman league that's starting up soon, but on further reflection I might go with Legion for it.  I've been pondering the Nova Open (and its Hardcore tournament), which takes place towards the end of the Journeyman league, and would want to bring Legion for it.  If I'm hip-deep in Menoth on the painting table from the middle of June on, I'll face the decision of putting a hold on my Journeyman painting or taking Khador or Menoth (whatever tiny collection I'd end up with) to Hardcore, and I definitely feel like I'd have a better shot with Legion than with Khador or the Exemplar-heavy Menoth collection I've been pondering.  Plus if I do Legion for the Journeyman league then I'll be getting in plenty of practice with the faction to learn a caster other than Aby.  While I love the lady with the freaky fingers, she's not Legion's strongest caster.  Saeryn looks pretty strong, as do both Vayls, but they'll all take some learning (plus I have yet to lay hands on a Saeryn model).  For now, Absylonia again carried me to victory.  I'll savor it for a day or two before pushing on with a new caster.


  1. Congrats! Looks like you played very well.

    1. I think I got lucky as much as anything, but I'll take them where I can get them.

  2. Congrats on the win! Heard all about the mess up with the software from Phil.

    Hopefully, we'll see you at Games and Stuff for a tournament sometime.

    1. GnS is on my list of places to bring the fight to this summer. Hopefully the next event fits into my schedule a little better than the last.

  3. Congratulations on your victory. I can only dream about going first, I'm more "lower end of the upper half" as a competitive player.

    1. It's all about practice and thinking outside the box. I still routinely get my lunch eaten right in front of me by folks who do things I'm not expecting.