Sunday, July 23, 2017

Field of Screams



I can hear your screams now. More, more, Morticians!


With my Engineers still sitting on the painting table it was again down to my Morticians to carry the day at Field of Screams way way down on the South coast of the UK.  With a good chunk of the 'top rated' GB players in attendance I had my work cut it for me again. Plus, 5 hours travelling for a tourney? NZ taught me well.


Round 1: James Reeves (Masons)


My last few games on (and off) here against Masons have almost universally been against Honour, Marbles, Brick, Flint, Mallet & Harmony1.




James took not a single one of these models.


Hammer, Tower and Granite meant I had a locomotive of pain heading my way. Accordingly I swapped Casket into Brainpan & Memory's slot (the only real variation in my team these days).


True to my predictions, Hammer came screaming out the gate by kicking off and rocketing into my sacrificial lamb (Casket). With Iron Fist and Tooled up, Hammer will easily put out 3-4 momentous damage per hit, and crucially his "Knockback" ability makes it almost impossible to cage him in.


Casket eventually succumbed but it took Granite and Tower too long to join the scrum. Mist slotted two into the goal in the meantime and the pic below is Obulus' successful run on goal for my twelve points. Ten points if you can work out the stages that the wooden tokens represent ;)




Final Score: 12-2


Lesson learned: When it comes to Masons, Oranges are not the only fruit. Though I'd still probably rate Honour over Hammer currently.


Round 2: Maria Wieland (Alchemists)




I've seen Maria around a few tournaments but haven't had the chance to play her until today. She took Midas, Naja, Vitriol, Mist, Compound and Katalyst. I haven't seen too many Alchemists players use Mist AND Vitriol in a while, and along with Midas this was a powerful football squad.


This was a masterclass in how to play the game. Vitriol push/dodged people into vKatalysts threat range when I thought they were safe. Memory strayed a little too far forward allowing Midas to catch him for push/dodges and a goal. I managed to swamp Midas and take him down and of course Katalyst exploded taking it to 4-8. What to do at that point with so many strikers and vKatalyst returning to the pitch? 


Just DIE!


I'd killed the ball to the best of my ability and just plain ran away from Katalyst. My best bet was to score with the puppet on the last activation and hope for a lucky kick-off but it was not to be and evil-timeline Mist skipped through the scrum to collect the ball and slot in the winner.




Final Score: 8-12


Lesson: Vitriol and Midas are pseudo threat-extenders for vKatalyst with their push/dodges. Brilliant play.


#Lunch #PressureOff #Submarine


Round 3: Barry Gingell (Alchemists)




Obviously. Alchemists again. He also took Midas and Vitriol but Avarisse & Greede and Katalyst1. In my mind this switched the dynamic such that even if I lost the goal race I could hold my own in a brawl without 'witness me' on the table. I switched in Casket again as that means Greede's turn1 ubergoal is pretty risky.


He snagged a goal with Vitriol, and in return I swamped her and stuffed her in the coffin. This starved him of Influence and activations for a couple of turns allowing me to set up a goal and 8-4. He isn't winning the brawl race so he too was forced to score and hope to retrieve the ball in time. Alas, Obulus jank meant I could move half the length of the pitch for the winner. Another ten points for describing this Obulus activation. Every one of those tokens is relevant.



Final Score: 12-8


Lesson: Do not, do not, do not forget that Midas has unpredictable movement and Light footed. I moved Casket up to engage him and slow him down and it actually essentially sped him up. Stupid Dave.


Round 4: Neil Bates (Masons)


DOES NOONE PLAY ANYTHING OTHER THAN MASONS OR ALCHEMISTS ANYMORE?




At least Mr Bates took a more familiar list. If I'm honest I think he misplayed his first turn, using Honour's legendary just to allow a "superior strategy'd" Mallet to put a few points of damage on Ghast. In return Mist scored and if I'm honest I probably, arrogantly, relaxed too much. We traded another goal apiece and I even took down Mallet. 10-4? Happy days.


Then things started to fall apart. Honour deletes a player a turn. 10-6. Fine. 10-8. Hmm. Mist made a run on goal but I completely forgot about Marbles' countercharge. Momentous tackle on 1? Ahh! I took the ball back for a tap-in. I missed. Aaaaah! No worries, Obulus can try another tap-in. He also missed. Aaaaaaaah! I'm not too proud to admit that I might have slightly been on tilt at this point.


He took out Dirge and even Obulus himself (thanks Mallet). 10-11. Aaaaaaaaaaaah!


The clouds finally break when Mist carefully retrieves the ball, avoids Marbles and bounces in a winner from 1" away with me pointing to the goal like I'm trying to housetrain a dog.


Final Score: 12-11


Lesson: 1.) MARBLES HAS COUNTERCHARGE 2.) Don't get cocky kid 3.) Never tell me the odds 


Round 5: Greg Day (Masons)


I have a bad feeling about this.




I've played Greg a couple of times on this blog. He's a lovely guy and currently ranked world '3rd' (I get these from theblackorifice.co.uk by the way. Don't worry, it's not NSFW). I've gotten lucky against him in the past so I don't think he was happy to see me.



These plots. Francine, these plot cards.


Again it's Masons, of course. Honour, Mallet, Tower, Harmony1, Marbles, Brick. Without Flint I thought I might have a chance of winning the goal race so I opted for Brainpan & Memory over Casket.



Honour kicked to me and in taunting her further forward I mistakenly walked Ghast right into Marbles' countercharge range. AGAIN!!!


'Tooled up' plus Assist [Marbles] meant that Honour put Ghast in the ground on turn1. This is a mental bodyslam, I messed up badly.


I did manage to slot in a Mist goal and use Obulus' legendary play early to gain first activation on turn 2. However Mist failed to get the ball from Brick (sigh). That, plus Memory AND Obulus getting their shins smashed meant that I was flapping in the breeze for a turn before getting another goal. Pretty tilting I can tell you.


Greg seems to prefer takeouts regardless of faction so to some extent he ignored the ball (once he'd smashed my team's shins in sufficiently to remove goal threats). He continued to ramp up the bloodshed with Honour dispatching Graves, Brainpan and Mist in quick succession. A linked activation from Harmony stole the ball from under Obulus' nose and booted it off the pitch just to get it away from him.


8-8


The ball scattered back on from the centre of the pitch (been a while since I've seen that) and only 1" to Mallet who after some thought elected to snap it to.


This did however leave him within puppet master range so Obulus did what Obulus does and the football legend obligingly returned the ball to the Spooks captain for a winning goal.


Final Score: 12-8


Lesson: MARBLES HAS COUNTERCHARGE!


Final thoughts




What a lovely day! 4-1 and a good SoS meant I came in third and picked up a bronze certificate/dice/patch to add to my silver and gold ones. Full set! I also picked up another set of measuring sticks, tokens and "Shadow Games" for coming third along with a Best Morticians patch.


I think I let myself down by forgetting Unpredictable movement and Countercharge TWICE (from the same model) but I got lucky that they didn't affect the outcome of the games.


Next time: British Nationals! 




Sunday, June 4, 2017

Irish National Championship 2017


 

 

The Irish National Guild Ball tournament was this weekend, and I thought I'd pop across. The winner is rewarded with a sweet trophy along with travel, accommodation and a spot at the World Championship in December at SteamCon US. So it was certainly worth a punt!


My hopes were slightly dashed when I found out that people were travelling from all over the UK and beyond to seek the top spot, including 'world number 2' Steve Easton.


 

My lineup remains unchanged: Obulus, Scalpel, Dirge, Graves1, Graves2, Ghast, Casket, Brainpan&Memory, Silence, Mist. So sorry Mr Stent, I just can't get off the Mist train.


The field seemed pretty different from what I'm used to. 0 Union players, 0 Hunters players and 25% Engineers. The times, they are a-changing.


Round 1: Koen Vliegen (Engineers)


 


No, I couldn't avoid them for even one round. Koen was a very pleasant Belgian who was fired up to use the team I am woefully inexperienced against. I can't even really differentiate Velocity from Hoist. All those wooden people look the same to me.


A lot of surprises come my way including Mother's 'webbing' to retrieve a free ball and Hoist's 'Sturdy' ability to essentially ignore a parting blow from Ghast. I also forget Compound's Gluttonous Mass, essentially wasting a 6 influence Obulus activation as I can't Puppet master him and have to flee into the corner to survive. Bugger.


Fortunately I score first (Mist I love you) and as we trade goals I manage to hit three first.


Final Score: 12-8


Lesson Learned: No amount of reading/theoryball will make up for playing against a team. Engineers have a lot of tricky character traits that you need to know about.


Round 2: Fraser Mcfetridge (Alchemists)


 


Fraser had also travelled quite a distance, coming down from Glasgow. Quite the EU we've got going here! 


He rates Alchemists as probably the strongest Guild in the game and takes what I consider a pretty strong lineup of Smoke, Flask, Vitriol, vKatalyst (I hate him so much), Calculus and Mercury. Flask I suppose is interchangeable with Naja and Mercury for Harry but otherwise it's a reliable 6.


In my opinion games against Smoke, rather like a forest fire, either snowball out of control or can be nipped in the bud if you're lucky/meticulous about clearing up conditions. Time is also rather on her side as she can tick you down with conditions until you're easy pickings for one or two 'Witness Me's.


After this game I asked Fraser how I could improve and I think he was speaking the truth when he said you can't really analyse a game where so much went wrong on both sides. 


Clustermess 


My initial kick ends up squarely in the corner of the pitch, inaccessible even to Vitriol starting in cover. Mist misses a goal. Obulus misses a goal. Multiple passes go astray for us both. Vitriol fails to tackle/escape from Graves through 3INF. vKatalyst doesn't get anyone to witness him do anything.


This all leaves me scratching my head and I'm sad to say that I clock out. I manage to scrape back 8 points worth of honour but Fraser had competently outplayed me and still had about 10 mins on his clock.


Final Score: 8-12


Lesson learned: Hard to judge. Admittedly Mist's miss was on one dice due to intervening models so maybe I shouldn't have risked it.


Round 3: Gary Green (Fishermen)


 


Mr Green (wish I was making it up) was the first Irishman I played. He brought Fisherman and a rather solid lineup of Shark, Siren1, Greyscales, Sakana, Hag and Salt. In return I decide to try out Graves2 to replace Graves1. This is exactly the kind of scenario where Graves1's lack of KD threat has burned me in the past.


I'm glad I did. Fish's relatively low TAC means that ARM2 really dents their ability to do much. Graves ended up facing off against Siren (TAC3) and Salt (TAC2) and to be honest didn't feel threatened.


 

I manage to wrangle the "Shark Cage" and subsequently take out Sakana too in the same manner. Fish do fish and manage to score but I tag two goals for the win.


Final Score: 12-4


Lesson learned: 


Morticians: Graves2 certainly does have the occasional justification.


Fishermen: Don't let Shark get trapped :(


Round 4: Gavin O'Reilly (Fishermen)


 


Gavin was another local who brought the Fish. His lineup is slightly unorthodox, favouring Kraken and Jac over Siren or Hag. I swap back to Graves1 just for the comparison.


He plays Shark very wide on the flank. This is surprising, given that I'm the one holding the Wingback plot card. I think that Puppet mastering Shark back in to beat on him would actually be correcting my opponent's mistake for him so I choose to target Jac instead for a beating. It turns out that he has tough hide and a mini unmasking as a Heroic play so that was not the best move. But he was a bit of a momentum farm whilst it lasted.


If I'm honest I think he spread both his players and his Influence too thin, with no single player able to pull off anything impressive. Kraken could have been a wonderful counter to Obulus but he gets distracted by Mist celebrating a goal behind his lines and chases the little guy down rather like Clegane vs the Red Viper.


I don't want to spoil the books but it ends rather differently with Mist flip dodging away and scoring a winning goal. 'Acrobatics' wins games, pure and simple.


Final Score: 12-4


Lesson Learned: Jac is a much, much harder target to take down than Shark. I should have known that.


Final Thoughts


 
 


A wonderful day of gaming in a wonderful city. The final was won by Fraser who had taken me down in round two so I can't complain at all about that. Although he's Scottish he takes Blackheart to America in December to represent Ireland with his strongest, fakest accent. Good luck!


 

The new strength of schedule placed me fourth overall, top Morticians player and in line for a handful of swag including another carry case and perhaps a hint at my next Guild? Who knows.


 



All that remained was a Guinness, a pub quiz with the stragglers and a late night half-cut game against the tournament organiser which ended with his Mist getting stuffed in Casket's casket. What a way to end the day.


 

And I quote, "Warmachine is the tabletop game invented, and subsequently run into the ground, by Privateer Press"




Until next time, look after yourselves. And each other.

 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Potters Guild

Whilst half of NZ was off enjoying the OTC I was over here with another GB tournament to come second in. Or did I?


I was fired up(!) by news of the Potters Guild in the very English sounding town of Stoke-on-Trent. A group of 12-16 players who meet to play every month. Very welcoming and down to earth(enware). Would I do well or would I clay down and die? I'll stop this now.


 

I loved that these guys have picked a club theme and stuck with it. From their mats to terrain and club accessories the Potters Guild is a theme that thrives.


 

I've got a solid lock on the (repainted)  roster I like, but it's now expanded up to 10. A coin toss between Cosset and vGraves but to be honest neither was likely to be used. Personally I think 9 is plenty, greedy Hobbitses.


This was my first experience with the new organised play rules and I have to say I'm a fan of the drafting process. Picking Captains first followed by the rest of the team works on both a fluff and mechanics level and seemed to really speed up the drafting process. We also employed a rather unique way of placing terrain. The kicking team would place two pieces and scatter them as per a goal kick, then the receiving team would do the same. Made each table different each time whilst still giving the kicking team a terrain advantage.


Game 1 - Kevin Smith (Butchers)


 


David Cameron vs Kevin Smith. There's a celebrity death match that we'd all be keen to see I'm sure. And with that line I may have gotten this blog picked up by the security services so my apologies for that.


Kev brought Fillet along with Princess, Shank, vOx, Boiler and Brisket. In response I felt that Brainpan and Memory would be little more than fodder and so I replaced them with Casket as a damage sponge.


I tag a first turn goal with Mist, who slides back down the pitch on his knees to the jeers of the opposing crowd. Is it me or do these two cards come up together more often than I'd expect?


 


I also manage to puppet master Fillet into a crowd of Morticians and bled her down to 6 health. Next to Casket. Oooooo.


 


Things go downhill for my opponent when Shank misses a goal and Obulus manages to finish out the game with a tap-in. Fillet? Yeah she's in Casket's coffin.


Final Score: 12-0


Lesson learned: I hadn't appreciated vOx's combination of "whirling chains" and "get stuck in". Talk about a tarpit. Treat that guy with respect. 


Game 2 - Joshua Niemcysk (Masons)


 

I haven't played against Masons in a while but I remember being wary/terrified of Hammer so I was happy to see that Josh brought Honour. How tough can that lady be?


This game so nearly went pearshaped quickly.


Despite receiving the ball, Flint's first activation very nearly led to a goal thanks to "Where'd they go" getting round Unpredictable Movement. Luckily he missed the tackle and in response Memory slices and dices him, immune to his charms.

 

Between two countercharging models, Linked, and Superior Strategy these guy have almost as many tricks up their sleeve as the Morticians. My lack of experience against them meant that my clock ticked down and I clocked out at 8 points (thanks to a Mist goal and having taken out Flint and Honour). In return my opponent had scored and taken out Mist and Graves1, all with Honour.


 

Luckily, in a truly heroic move, Mist returns to the pitch in time to collect the ball and sprint half the width before booting it to Obulus for a game winning goal.


Final Score: A rather sphincter tightening 12-9


Lesson learned: There is no range limit on 'Linked', and the Masons player can potentially have 12 INF worth of actions in one go.


Game 3 - Greg Day (Brewers)


 


Greg had made his way up from the South coast, hot on the tail of placing fourth of 116 at Venegeance two weeks earlier. We've played before when he nearly took me apart with hittyfish so I was apprehensive at the idea of facing his Brewers. He took Tappyboy along with Scum, Hooper, Spigod1, Stoker and Avarisse&Greede. I again swapped out Brainpan&Memory for Casket as a damage sponge, less vulnerable to KD than Memory and far sturdier than Brainpan.


He kicks off with Tapper and I spend a great deal of effort to avoid him charging Obulus with Tapper with Ghostly visage and Unpredictable Movement. However I score too early with Mist and once he has the ball back he uses a couple of passes to dodge Tapper into melee with the Ferryman. Oops. I end up KD'd and heavily damaged.


Obulus makes a run for it and hides behind Graves, Ghast, Casket and a building. Safe? Maybe. Effective? Not really. 


Mist does a lot of the heavy lifting, scoring again and hanging out near the goal to avoid the scrum in my half. Casket goes down, struggles to his feet and gets taken down for good. Dirge is a crumpled heap of feathers and Graves and Ghast aren't looking good. Can Obulus step up and save the day? 


 


Between his Legendary play, Puppet Master and Dodges, Obulus moves 25" in two back-to-back activations to get the ball to Mist for a tap-in snapshot. Legen...wait for it....


Final Score: 12-3


Lesson learned: Don't just assume that Brewers will rely on charges. They can dodge too! Casket has gone well up in my estimation, being critical in two games so far even if he costs an INF over B&M


Game 4 - Adam Coxon (Alchemists)


 


Adam had some lovely painted Alchemists with a slew of options open to him. He took Midas (ok), Naja (fine) Vitriol (typical), Harry (expected), Mercury (meh) and vKatalyst (f*#k I hate that guy this is so unfair, he's going to ruin my day isn't he).


I kick to him and expect a Vitriol goal that doesn't come. Instead he passes down the line to Midas and his pet monstrosity. Unfortunately he's so wary of staying out of Puppet Master range that Midas is too far away to score and the first turn ends 0-0. 


 

 


I tag goals with Midas and Obulus (requiring a Puppet Mastered pass from Naha, thanks Ms Snake). All whilst playing a merry dance around vKatalyst who misses a 'witness me' on Mist by 1 point, though he still goes down to poison. Midas scores and earns the ire of my crowd. 8-6 at this point with Obulus tottering about 3" from vKatalyst.


 


Mist returns to the pitch and spends the Vengeance token on Midas for momentous shenanigans before sprinting headlong at Katalyst and lobbing the ball over his head into the goal. How I love that man.


Final Score: 12-6


Lesson Learned: vKatalyst is still scary but perhaps the best strategy is to aim for two goals/one takeout which would scare the Alchemist player off using witness me. 


Afterthoughts


 


Well that's a turn up for the books! Managed to do better than second! Snagged myself a shiny patch/certificate/dice along with a pack of Chibi captain cards. Chibi Obulus is finally mine. Though having finally won something, is it time for me to retire the Morts? 


These guys seem like a very welcoming bunch and meet regularly so expect more reports from their monthly events :D


Until next time my dears.


..dary.



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bend it like Bonesaw II

Right. Another six weeks have passed and so that means that it's surely time for me to play more Guild Ball! And by that I mean another tournament. Seems to be the only play I get these days.


 


"Bend it Like Bonesaw II" was held down South (where the Tory party lives). A last minute spot opened up and I was in there like a flash. As an actor said to a bishop.


My lineup was only changed in one key regard. I had been sold on the merits of Avarisse and Greede. They are more popular here than breathable air.


 

"They're quicker than Mist"


"They can also deal damage if it descends into fisticuffs" 


These were the most common arguments for their inclusion and I was sold. But would they do me proud or be consigned to the bin? Read on, my dears. For simplicity I took the same lineup in each game: Obulus, Dirge, Graves1, Ghast, Brainpan and Memory, A&G. Decoys were Scalpel, Casket and Silence. For those keeping score that is indeed 8 players on the pitch. Mind = blown.


Game 1: Union (Matt Burns)


I think Union are in a really strong position these days. Three captains to choose from *and* they get Avarisse and Greede? Beautiful. 


 


vRage, A&G, Snakeskin, Minx, Harry, Strongbox


I receive the ball and act a bit cagey. I don't push forward too far, wary of just how much Rage can F my S up. Also, and this is very important advice to any aspiring Morticians players, I forget to dodge Memory. At all. Because I'm a moron. Snakeskin (who kicked off) ploughs into Dirge but is quickly surrounded and shown what the dirt looks like close up. I manage to hold off out of Rage's threat range for a good 3 turns.


This does not seem to be how great Guild Ball is played 


However, forgetting to dodge Memory forward costs me the ability to score and things rapidly go downhill. Snakeskin returns and with Clone makes an exceptional ball carrier/hider. Rage finally reaches my lines and I'm scrambling to get the ball. One catastrophic 10 point turn later the game ends 12-4 to the Union.


Where have all the Morticians gone? 


These guys aren't playing around.


Lesson learned (1): When your model has at least 10" of free dodges per turn, USE THEM.


Lesson learned (2): Snakeskin makes a fantastic counter to Puppet Master



Game 2: Hunters (Henry Clark)


I don't know what these guys do. I've been told by Miller that they're terrible and can be discounted. But I don't know what they do. 11 seems very low for influence, but I don't know what they do. They have a Captain with pigtails and a loner guy who I swear looks like an Orc. I don't know what they do.


Skatha, Fahad, Seenah, Jaecar, Zarola, Ulfr


 


I receive and again set up for an A&G turn 1 goal. I forget to dodge Memory forward repeatedly until my opponent 'kindly' reminds me. Then I realise I've dodged him into Jaecar's charge range. Sneaky hunters. 


A&G snag the goal, but Greede is very shortly thereafter trampled to death by a wild bear. His Captain throws out areas of Fast ground, but Obulus gets better use out of them than anyone else - gliding around like an undertaker on roller skates. The Ferryman loves being 6"/8".


We trade a couple of goals whilst Ghast and Graves desperately take lion taming duty, keeping Seenah locked down.


Obulus clinches a winning goal but my clock was close to running down. 12-11 to the Morticians.


Lesson learned: Despite what the judge ruled (though much later graciously admitted he got wrong) Jaecar *can* trigger his own trap if under the effect of puppet master (or similar). Don't be fooled kids.


Lunch: Coffee shop sandwich. 3/7


Game 3: Union (Kev Bryant)


Kev may or may not be familiar to you. UK wargaming stalwart. Pressganger, Pundit and I'm sure many other things. Good lad. He was playing Union. Bastard.


All the LE models, just for Chris 

All the great measuring stick just for Nicola ;) 

Blackheart, A&G, Mist, Coin, Minx, Harry. 


I kick off and he scores rather rapidly with A&G. I had been tempted to puppet master A&G apart to screw up their "attach/detach" shenanigans but I instead I invite the goal, then put Greede 6' under. Only 7 health, isolated from his team and with a Vengeance token on him, Greede is easy prey. 4-2 down (with Greede back to his board edge) is much easier to swallow than 4-0. Then I get the ball to A&G who try shenanigans of their own. And miss the goal. Ffs.


I dance around Blackheart for a bit, score, and even take out Avarisse after two turns of surrounding him with Obulus, Ghast, Dirge, Graves and Brainpan. Obulus makes a heroic sprint across the pitch, 2"  +6" +1" +8", puppet mastering the ball off Mist 17" away and getting it to Brainpan for a winning goal. For some reason B&M with 4INF is infinitely better than with 3. No idea why.


Lesson learned: When separated from Avarisse, Greede is really very vulnerable to a half determined effort.



Game 4: Fishermen (Conor Rooney)


This feels familiar. Shark Fishermen.


 

Shark, Greyscales, Tentacles, Angel, Siren, Sakana.


This was definitely the Shark show, as it so often is. I don't think Greyscales and Tentacles got more than 1 INF for the entire game, and Angel/Siren only got a couple.


 

We trade two goals apiece until he kicks the ball into space near my goal rather than attempting a snapshot. I'm at +3 on the deciding initiative roll and of course lose it along with the game. Such is life vs Fish I guess. 12-8 to the Fishermen. I'm tempted to try more keepaway practice.


Lesson learned: You can't puppet master a model to pass to a member of their own team. I'll claim that it was late and my brain was fried.



Results


 An overall record of 2-2 saw me place 8th of 16. Top half! Not the coveted second place that I was hoping for though. There was also a raffle where I won....nothing. Boo.


 



I won none of this bounty :( 


I came away having had a great day, but not overly enamoured with Avarisse nor Greede. When things go well they're beautiful but when seperated (e.g. after a first turn goal), things can go downhill for both of them rapidly. If Greede is forced to return to play miles away from Avarisse then things are going to be rubbish for a turn or two. I'll also add that having 8 players in the pitch ate up my clock faster than me attacking a wedding buffet. 


Final lesson learned: I think I'll head back to the loving embrace of Mist for the time being. 


 


I've got a couple more irons in the fire so to speak, will update you when I do anything of any note: whether you like it or not.