Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nova Open Recap: Masters

After I failed to qualify for Masters (or the Championship, whatever you want to call it) after the Team tournament I threw caution to the wind and did the Deathrace tournament that started somewhat after midnight.  I'll do a tiny bit on it later, but for now the important bit is that I got into bed around 3.  After checking out and meeting up with NGF for breakfast (and to leave my non-gaming baggage with him) I made my way back to the Warmachine room trying to figure out how to make a list without knowing who my caster would be.

McKayla is hard to please.
You can imagine my surprise when I was greeted on entry and told that someone had dropped (before the event began...) and that I was the replacement.*

I was looking forward to the wackiness that would have been the Caster Madness tournament and thought about declining Masters, but since the ultimate goal of the weekend was to qualify for the Big Tournament I couldn't turn down the shot.  My preparation was nil, not even a caster lineup, but I put lists together with a quickness and got down to it.  I went with what I knew: my Saeryn Hardcore list, pVayl, and eLylyth (which I don't really know like the other two, but I had a list ready to go).  The Lylyth list just builds on the shooting theme, while the pVayl list is more or less the nigh-ubiquitous eVayl t4 list with Typhon replacing an Angel and Scythean.  I had reinforcements, but they never saw play.  Plus I forget exactly what they were.

My first match was against Andrew, who you might recall from round one of the team tournament, who again ran eCaine.  For no good reason I took pVayl, despite tagging her as my Hordes list.  This game went very much like our first match.  Andrew moved his mens up, took some shots, killed some things, but left Caine too close.  I took a "why not?" shot at Caine with a Ravagore and connected, doing big damage and setting him on fire.  Next turn the fire keeps burning and I've won my first game, albeit with the primary assist going to my dice and the secondary to Andrew for not putting up Blur.

Just add Trolls.  And Nyss.
Round two was my third game against Lee, who this time ran pDoomy.  I took Saeryn again for no good reason,  but it did work out that most of Lee's hitters were melee only, so at least I had that.  He ran Mulg, an Earthborn, Janissa, the Stone, and a horde of Runeshapers.  This one was an epic grindfest.  I munched through most of his Runeshapers while keeping most of my beasts alive and got two shots at Doomie, thanks in large part again to some good dice.  My first "run" didn't take off too well, for reasons now lost to me but certainly including my most egregious non-feat yet (I even looked for clarification on what would and wouldn't be covered by the feat from units I wasn't familiar with and did everything except actually feating), but it did pin Doomie down pretty good and make Lee work to get out of the bind.  He didn't quite break the lock I had going, though he did remember his feat, and came up short on reprisal (Saeryn had a few boxes left), so I got a second shot at it (this time with my feat going).  Doomie was camping a bunch of Fury for transfers and I couldn't get Saeryn close enough while also having LoS to hit him with a Deathspur, so instead I burned through all his transfers but came up a box or three short.  Next turn Mulg trampled over Saeryn, which apparently ignores her feat, and did enough damage to explode the pre-damaged Seraph I transferred to and take out Saeryn as well.  This game was a blast, easily the most enjoyable game of the weekend, and was tight the whole way through.  Lee had some bad dice going throughout while fighting uphill against my dice, but he kept plugging along and got rewarded for it in the end.

After the epic grind, my day went downhill quick.  Round three I played Charlie, another NY/J guy, who fielded eHaley with a Stormwall, shooting, and Stormguard.  I'd never played against eHaley before and was eager to see how bad she really is after hearing so much about her.  I went with eLylyth, mostly to keep my options open for the last round but also with the hope that I could mitigate losing either my movement or my action by having plenty of shooting.  The scenario was a big zone in the center with four flags spread around outside it, where your caster had to control a flag while you also controlled the zone.  On turn two I had the chance to try and score a point by popping feat to wipe all the infantry out and take the zone, but I held onto the feat and came up a piece or two short.  In his next turn Charlie popped feat, then zoomed the Stormwall into my line and Electroleaped my caster to death.  This was a good learning experience as I didn't anticipate all the arcing lightning, but also poor instruction in that I didn't get to go through eHaley's feat.  I thought that perhaps my non-feat had cost me, but in post game chatter Charlie said it wouldn't have changed much for him.  It was unlikely that I would have done any significant damage to the Stormwall, and once my feat was gone it would be doubly hard to take it out.  Most of all this game brought home the need for some sort of melee backup for eLylyth.  Straight gun line is nice on paper, but doesn't take a whole lot before it folds.

Artist's rendition of my state on Sunday.
For my final match of the Open I got Chris, a local from GNS (I think) who played eFeora.  In another fit of inspiration I took eLylyth (who has tons of fire damage), mostly because I wanted to get more experience in with her.  This game was perhaps my worst of the weekend and isn't getting anything else written about it.

I watched the final match, or at least the end of it, featuring Lee (Calandra) vs Jake (some flavor of Caine).  This was an amazing game on two levels.  First was speed.  Jake had less than a minute left on the clock and got in at least three turns.  Granted he was down to a unit of Gun Mages and Caine, but it was still remarkable.  Second was fun.  I don't think I've ever seen two people have more fun playing Warmachine before.  This also bled over into sportsmanship as Lee had a commanding advantage on the clock, but in the final turns was down to just Calandra and maybe another piece.  He was obviously playing for the clock win, but would often flip the clock to himself to deviate Jake's shots, double check distances, any numbers of things to give his opponent the most use out of what little remained of his clock.  Jake ended up clocking out, everyone still around went down for the award presentation, then I packed my bag up and called it a weekend.

There's always something to play for, even if it's as a spoiler.
As a final note I'll mention dropping out of tournaments.  I gather from the internets that this is a common practice if you lose your first game or two, and I can understand why.  By Sunday I was pretty well spent, had far too much difficulty adding up pips, suffered from general balance issues (meaning I had to try to not fall over), and was generally worse for wear.  In the face of that I get the lure of sleep, or just doing something that doesn't involve math and tape measures.  I'll also be the last person to tell someone to suffer through something they won't enjoy.  With all that said, I was surprised and disappointed with how Masters turned out.  Someone dropped after the first round, and by the end of round two we were down to 11 players (of 16).  I get disappointment and frustration, but at the same time Masters is (at least in theory) what you showed up for and played through however many qualifiers to get into.  Quitting when your shot to win is gone strikes me as poor sportsmanship at best, and at the very least it's wasting an opportunity to game which is the whole reason for the weekend.  The last two rounds of Masters were the most laid-back, let's just have some fun style gaming I had all weekend.  The only prize on offer was having a good time, and it was a prize I was happy to claim along with my opponents.  Of course if someone hadn't dropped out before the whole thing even started I wouldn't have played in Masters at all, so I guess some "good" came out of it in the end.

* - I got the vacated spot because whoever dropped had qualified in the Team tournament and I was the top non-qualifier from said tournament.  This led to a pair of thought-provokers after the Open.  First, did the bye get me in by virtue of the "win" it gives?  Second, did I get in because I was the least reluctant to collect paperwork?  We may never know...

1 comment:

  1. As the second person to drop from Masters, it's hardly poor sportsmanship to recognize defeat, and not waste other people's time with games that will not affect the outcome. In tournaments prior to Masters, it is possible that a single loss won't prevent you from qualifying or winning a prize. The only prize for Masters however, was an invite to Warmachine Weekend, and that only went to first place. After that is off the table, its just playing for fun. Most people at that point in the weekend were well past playing for fun -- it was a long 3 days to get through to Sunday. Congratulations on trucking it out. Some of us didn't feel the need to.