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.
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
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.
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.