Sorry for the week off, I fully intended to do the write up for the big tournament I attended, but I got back and needed more time to fully digest what had happened. That means you’ll get the 1st half of the write up today and the 2nd half on Wednesday.
Right, so over the weekend of the 13th and 14th of May I attended the Welsh Masters. This is one of the big five events held in the UK each year, along with Smog Con, European Team Championships, UK Nationals and, Blood and Oil. It’s a 128 man, seven round event with no cut held in Cardiff. This year it attracted players from Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, France as well as the usual strong contingents from England and Wales itself. It’s also the third year I’ve attended the event and if you get the chance I’d highly recommend it, even over the other UK events as it usually has the most competitive field, it’s at a great venue and it has truly ridiculous prize support (they give away a BNIB Army every single round.)
So going into the event I was filled with a bit more trepidation than normal. During my previous two events I’d managed to only go 3-4 (3 Wins, 4 Losses) despite going 3-1 on the first day in 2015 and my opponent surviving 4 tough checks on their caster in my last game in 2016. Some would call it bad luck, but basically I choked. Three wins or less would not be acceptable, this year. After all I’d feel like a bit of a fraud on this blog telling you my ideas on Trolls if I couldn’t even manage to finish in the top half. So, no pressure, right?
I turn up on the Friday and get a quick practice game against last year’s winner Richard Beech using Vlad1 with 12 rockets and 5 heavies. I drop Grissel2 and the matchup is absolutely miserable. I decide I’m not changing my lists regardless and register the two I have practiced with:
Doomy3 (Power of Dhunia)
– Mountain King
Max Krielstone + UA
I’ve spoken about this list before and I’m still really happy with it. I’m expecting to drop it in to lots of hordes lists, jack heavy Retribution and Cygnar.
Grissel2 (Band of Heroes)
Min Stone + UA
Max Fennblades + UA
Fell Caller Hero (Free)
Stone Scribe Chronicler
This list is ok. Truth be told I enjoy playing Grissel2 in Power of Dhunia much more and if this was a three list event then I’d be running that, but the proliferation of Ghost Fleet and Legion of Steel means that this is what I need to run to deal with all those troop spams and recursion.
Round 1 Vs Chris Lindley
Grissel2 vs Strakhov2 (Outlast)
127 possible opponents and I not only draw the theme that scares me the most, but it’s being piloted by a good player. I’ve played Chris before and outside of drawing a WTC player this was probably the worst case scenario. On a plus side the scenario means he will need to spread out. Unfortunately he wins the dice roll and decides to go first. I make the best of a bad situation and make him play on the side with a building so he will further be spread out and I have a nice wall so I can sit the Earthborn centrally with the extra armour and that helps. Right from the start it’s clear my only win conditions are Assassination and Clock.
He goes first and deploys one unit of Black Dragons on the far side of the building with the Kovnik, Great Bears and Markov. Strakhov2 is central with the second unit of Black Dragons and a unit of Uhlans on his left threatening my right zone. He runs everything forward turn1 and I notice Strakhov is a long way away from this Uhlans. This means he wouldn’t be able to get Last Stand or Mobility on them, which is important, because I’m about to take a huge risk. I move Grissel up and lay down some Crescendos. I purposely place her on 1 Fury in charge range of two Uhlans. I Screen with two Fennblades and keep the rest back. My Earthborn sits central between the two zones getting the Arm buff and my Longriders stay pretty far back again.
He decides to charge my caster. He makes two impact attacks on the Fennblades and both unfortunately fail their tough rolls meaning both charges connect. He does some damage, but with the transfer I don’t die. He manages to kill one other Fennblades with the charge and hopefully I’ll be able to pick apart the cavalry before the rest of his army arrives. He moves the rest of his Black Dragons up the board and decides to feat. He does catch two of the Uhlans, but the rest are out of feat and even out of base to base. He keeps Markov back hiding behind the building, which split his force up and he knows he’s high on my priority list and moves the Dragons on my right aggressively into the zone with Great Bears and Kovnik stopping any chance I have of charging them with their counter charges.
This turn would be a great one to assassinate Strakhov. He’s sitting behind the central unit of Black Dragons who I could knock down. It would means two shots from Grissel and 2 shots from the Bomber. The only issue is that he has Feign Death thanks to the feat meaning I need to be patient and wait another turn. I use my fennblades and beasts to kill four of the five Uhlans including both that were jamming Grissel. I give the Earthborn Rage and walk him into melee with one of the Juggernauts that is relatively central. The Earthborn kills it, he no longer gets the armour buff but he will draw resources centrally, which might let me score a zone. Grissel fires knockdown shots that takes down most of the unit of Black Dragons. This is only possible, because the Kovnik is far away from them due to the central building. I also stick one Longrider in the left zone to contest. He should struggle to get more than two dragons on him due to rough terrain in the middle of that zone and Black Dragons not having access to pathfinder.
In his turn he see’s a chance to score two control points so moves Strakhov in front on the house in my left zone. He gives the Dragons Quicken and two of them kill the only contesting Longrider. The Great Bears charge my Earthborn and leave it relatively low. The central IFP stand up and take a combined melee attack on the Earthborn that does no damage.
On my turn I would like to assassinate his caster, but there is a central forest in the way so it won’t be happening this turn. I decide I need to assassinate him next turn so I need to be in position. I move Grissel behind the forest towards the zone Strakhov is in. I use her gun to kill the two IFP that killed my Longrider, there are other ways to do this, but I don’t want my opponent think about why she is moving that way. My Mauler moves up to contest my left zone. The Earthborn frenzies and fails to kill one Great Bear. The Fennblades charge the central Dragons and I send two Longriders into that zone to contest again. I end my turn and immediately realise I’ve forgotten to activate my Bomber and these is no way it will be able to get line of sight on Strakhov due to that huge forest.
On his fourth turn he concentrates on clearing his left zone so he can go up to four CP’s. His Dragons kill both Longriders meaning he will do it. He somehow doesn’t kill the Earthborn, but the central Dragons start to turn the attrition heavily in his favour as I lose most of the Fennblades in that zone.
It’s come to my turn and seeing how poorly I’m doing on Attrition I decide to go for it. He’s left a gap to Strakhov and for some reason hasn’t bothered with the cloud wall. I run the stone up to strip stealth and then I give Grissel2 pathfinder with the Fell caller, walk her through the forest and hit the first boosted 10 to knock him down. After that it’s three boosted damage rolls and he dies. I consider myself incredibly lucky and move on to round 2.
Round 2 vs Richard Stone
Grissel2 vs Magnus2 (The Pit)
I’ve played more than four hundred and fifty games of Warmachine in the last three years since I started this game. Seven of them have been against Minions and none of them against Magnus2. I had literally no idea what I was doing. Alas he reads my card, but it doesn’t really register to him how good Grissel’s gun is, you kind of need to see it. He walks up and feats on me with 3 Focus. I aim, knock him down. The first shot knocks him down, but my bomber misses one of it’s shots on a double 1 and I need to finish him off with a Fennblade, who was in the perfect place just outside of his feat due to vengeance. This is a bottom of two assassination and if you play Grissel against people in tournaments this kind of thing happens and you get a nice short round.
Round 3 vs Ryan Evans
Grissel2 vs Deneghra 1 (Entrenched)
So Ryan is on England WTC Team 1 is the foremost practitioner of Ghost Fleet in the UK. At the start of the tournament I would have told you I was confident playing my Grissel 2 list into any Ghost Fleet player at the tournament except him. He wins the dice roll and decides to go first.
I line up the Earthborn centrally so he can take advantage of a wall. On his first turn he runs and on my turn I run the Earthborn past the wall to have a nice arm buff in an area that threatens his zone and gives me some control over where his caster can go to feat and stay safe. I keep my caster, bomber and stone back very deep and advance some Fennblades.
Top of two my opponent goes in the tank, I’m pretty worried, because I’ve played Ryan before and usually when he spends a long time thinking he has an amazing turn you weren’t expecting and you lose heavily on attrition. He keeps placing a proxy base on a central hill 3-4 inches away from the EBDT so he scores his zone, but he keeps measuring different things and it becomes clear he’s not happy with any of his options. Eventually he moves Denny up and feats but the feat doesn’t catch Grissel, the Bomber or the stone. He jams the Earthborn with an arcnode and kills all but two Fennblades with gunfire. The two that don’t die are knocked down with feign death. He moves Ghost Raiders into my zone to contest and passes the clock.
Obviously I see this as my chance to go for it. Grissel is inside walk and shoot range. The stone strips stealth and Grissel needs a boosted 12 to knock her down. Luckily I get it on the first shot and even though Denny is camping three focus she dies to Grissel on her own. My dice are little hot, but when you take into consideration the Bomber it’s a 75% assassination run and I’ll take that against such a good player, especially when I feel he gained an attrition advantage by playing so risky. If you don’t punish then you I would almost certainly lose the long game.
So I look around and it takes a moment to sink in, but I’m now 3-0 and into the final 16 undefeated players at the tournament. What’s more, because of two incredibly quick games I’m well rested and can walk around, watch games and relax. What happens next, will be discussed in Part 2.