Thursday, October 23, 2014

Warmachine Batrep 32: Circle at Feast of Blades, Day 3 (MASTERS TOURNAMENT), Lots of Pictures!

I'm certainly not this guy. Not yet anyways :)
Howdy, everyone! Today I've got a fun one for you! This is from my Day 3 at Feast of Blades. More importantly, it's a masters report! I got to play a total of four games against great players, and took pictures of all of them! I was really looking forward to playing, despite knowing that I stood very little chance to even win one game, much less the whole thing. Still, I was excited to play against the best players in the tournament, and at least get some experience.

I certainly got both, that's for sure!



First, let's look at my list of goals going into Feast:

Here are my goals for Feast:

  1. Win all my games and events and be tournament champion
If Goal #1 isn't met, I'll attempt to be satisfied if I can at least do some/all of the following:
  1. Qualify for Masters
  2. Qualify for Finals of Iron Gauntlet
  3. Get a ton of really awesome learning games in to help me get better
  4. Go above .500.
    1. This may sound a little "meh", but I have no idea how many games I'll be playing this weekend, so saying I want to go at least "13-10" doesn't work. Having a winning record is good enough for me for now. Soon enough I'll start to get a little more greedy.
  5. Win some sort of prize for being awesome (i.e. NOT a "learn to play better, or choose a different game because you lost all of your games and you're the worst player here" award)
With that, here's a list of the events I plan on playing. Here's a link to the Feast schedule.


Many of these goals were still in limbo, but I was happy to note that I had succeeded at Goals 1, 3, and 4 (I had gone 8-2 up to that point, which meant even if I lost all my games, I'd still end up at better than 50% win ratio). Sadly, I did fail at #2. Ah well :)

Before the event started, I noticed that the flag for 40k was up. It has a list of all the old champions for the 40k invitational, and I was feeling a bit nostalgic. 40k was the entirety of my gaming life for several years, and Feast was one of my earliest major victories. Check it out:

Nicely painted, eh?

You can see my name "Adam T." on there - I won the damn thing at one point!
It was kind of a weird moment for me. I had been very close to a "top" player in 40k for several years, with lots of high showings at lots of major events. I'm still good friends with many of the best players in the country, and still have about 7 40k armies.

Yet, I've since started playing a new game (new to me, at least), and was (and am still) nowhere near being a "top" player in WM/H. Hard to encapsulate my exact feelings on the matter, but suffice it to say that while I'm really enjoying WM/H, there is a certain element of the bitter-sweet to it. I've invested tens of thousands of dollars to 40k, and to turn my back on it the way I have in favor of a similar (yet very different) game is something I have not experienced up to this point.

At any rate, the tournament soon began, and my sentimental self gave way to my focused tournament self.

Here are my lists:

Changed my Cassius list a little bit, FYI

My Cassius list was changed at the last minute (well, the night before is when I made it, but next to the same thing). I decided that I was pretty good with Krueger2 the way that list is constructed, and that without Nuala, I'd be missing something very important. In my old Cassius list, I put Nuala in there with him, and Krueger got another set of Stones.

This time, I decided to keep Nuala in the Krueger list, and instead just add a second Blackclad to the Cassius list.

Looking around the field, there didn't seem to be a ton of diversity in the armies representing. I saw the following (not a definitive list, to be sure):

  • At least one other Circle player (my friend Jeeves!)
  • 3 Khador players
  • 3 Legion players
  • 2 Menoth players
  • 2 Cryx players
  • 1 Skorne player
I know I missed a few, but the feeling was that there were only 6 or 7 factions represented at all. Maybe there was a Stormwall Cygnar list? I'm having trouble remembering...

At any rate, I was hoping to avoid Legion and Cryx. I just didn't have enough experience against either factions, and felt that they would probably really mess with me. Further, since this was a Masters event, I would only be playing against good players.

First round pairings went up, and I found myself facing off against an opponent I had already played that weekend. Specifically, I was playing against my most recent opponent, Ben!

Game 1: Circle Orboros vs. Ben Mosseau's Khador!

His Lists:


pVlad in a Butcher Sandwich!

Pairings Debate:

There wasn't much of a debate in my mind here. I didn't know what Vlad1 did very well, but I was almost certain Ben would drop Butcher3 on me, though I knew that there was an off chance he'd drop Butcher2. Off chance, because Butcher2 was his list that he qualified with in the Hardcore tournament.

I knew that Krueger2 would be the best choice here against any of these lists, with his ability to keep charges at bay for a round. Morv2 would be acceptable later in the tournament, but Krueger2 was the obviously best choice.

I dropped Krueger2, while Ben somewhat surprised me by dropping Butcher2.

The Mission: Fire Support (destroy enemy objective for 1 CP, control a flag for 1 CP, dominate a flag for 2 CP, KILLBOX)

**I won the roll to go first, and took it

Pre-game thoughts:

Let's set the stage a little bit here: First, this was a "TV table". You'll be able to watch this game on YouTube eventually, if you really feel like it. Second, I want to give a shout out to Ben, who is a great player. He had already won the Hardcore event with a very similar list to this one. He also ended up getting 3rd in the Iron Gauntlet the night before, after playing 4 games in the team tournament. I wasn't facing a scrub, to be sure. It was going to be very difficult to beat such a good player twice in a row.

I was happy enough to see Butcher2 here. The Doom Reaver spam list is a really tough list to beat for many armies, but I felt like I had enough shooting that I could really put a huge dent in the Doom Reavers over the course of two turns (one turn I'd need to feat, to keep them from charging me).

Really, the plan was to run up, wait for him to jam me, and then shoot as many models off the table as possible. Then, I'd have Krueger get up as far as he could, and feat. My hope was to keep the Doom Reavers back far enough that they wouldn't be able to get many of their number engaged with me. If I could kill most of them over the course of two rounds of shooting, I'd probably win.

The other key to this game was to keep both of my heavies alive, so that they could kill Conquest if necessary.

I chose the Orange squad as my Prey target.

His lines look very straight, while mine are a little bit um... sleepy. As in, I was sleepy, and therefore failed to make them very straight, heh.

Circle Turn 1:

I did my advance thing. I really tried to keep most of my models outside of running/engage range of the Doom Reavers.

Storm Wall went up as well, in case Conquest got frisky.

They don't look intimidating yet...

Khador Turn 1:

Ben ran everything up. I can't remember if Conquest got any shots off, but if they did, they didn't do much (Krueger could choose the deviation direction with Storm Wall.

Okay, NOW they look intimidating. Note how he ran his Orange unit into the back middle, to deny me my Prey bonus :-/

Circle Turn 2:

I had a simple goal: I needed to kill as many Doom Reavers this turn as possible, then remember to pop my feat.

If some of you watch this game on YouTube, you will note that some of my activations will be out of order when compared to this report. I know mostly what happened, but I played a lot of Warmachine games over the weekend, and if I don't get the exact order right, please don't get too angry :)

I had the Blackclad go first, and target the Conquest with his magic spray. He managed to kill a couple, I believe.

Bloodtrackers went next, and many of them advanced just a little bit. I had them aiming against their targets (needing 5's to hit for some of them, needing 7's to hit normally).  I believe that some of them even got themselves engaged, so as to make best use of Quick Work. They managed to kill a TON of Doom Reavers. Like, probably at least 10. Their reform moved them backwards a little bit.

Shrimp went next, and killed two or three Doom Reavers.

Gorax charged in and killed two Doom Reavers on the left.

Ghettorix walked up and killed a few Doom Reavers, then put up his Animus (retaliatory strike)

Stones teleported my Stalker into a few more Doom Reavers.

Stalker warped for Berserk, and killed another swathe of models.

At some point, the Druids put up Counter Magic and got the hell out of the way.

Krueger finally went, advanced as far as I deemed was safe, then popped his feat. The feat caught all but three Doom Reavers, as well as Conquest, Butcher, and the dog.

Most of the Doom Reavers would be unable to anything in their own activation. I hoped that the Stalker was far enough back to avoid too much pain.

Krueger also (maybe before he popped it?) took a few shots with his gun, and put up Storm Wall to help protect against Conquest's shooting. I kept one transfer, as I felt that Conquest might just be able to get a lucky shot on me, and I needed to be able to transfer once.

Far less intimidating now - look at the pile of Doom Reavers on the right there! Lots of dead dudes.

Khador Turn 2:

Ben didn't have a lot he could do this turn.

Conquest moved up his massive 2", and shot at Krueger. He missed, and I picked a harmless deviation direction.

Doom Reavers didn't run, as I expected. Probably the best move, honestly - putting my in Melee would just let the Bloodtrackers make best use of Quick Work, and after I finished off the Orange unit, I'd be able to just cycle Prey targets and kill Reavers in droves.

Butcher ran behind Conquest.

When his turn ended and he passed it to me, I asked him to check Killbox. Butcher was just outside the box (he was less than 14" from the table edge), and I therefore scored two points. Two VERY LUCKY points.

Score: 2-0, advantage Circle

I'm so lucky....

Circle Turn 3:

Wow, that was a HUGE break for me. Getting two points like that essentially made my decision for me: I could win via scenario this turn, if I did it right.

The first decision was difficult, however. I needed one of my heavies to kill the objective, and the Stalker was by far the most likely to get there. However, I would have to take a frenzy check on one of the heavies. Which beast should I choose to keep a Fury on?

In the end, I did the math - if Ghetto frenzied, he would do some damage to the Stalker, but had no chance to one-shot the Stalker.

So, I took all the fury off of the Stalker, and Ghetto tried to roll a "7" to avoid frenzying. I rolled an "8", and he did some massive damage to my Stalker, but not enough to kill him. He did knock out one of his spirals though.

Note that if I had chosen the Stalker to test on frenzy, he'd have passed. Ah well :)

I needed to kill all of the Doom Reavers that were contesting the flag on the right, and get Krueger on the flag. I also wanted to clear a charge lane for the Stalker to get into the objective.

At some point, I had a Druid go over and medicate the Stalker to get his spirals all repaired.

Bloodtrackers mostly stood still, and killed off a bunch of Doom Reavers by the flag, and the Shrimp also did their part.

Blackclad walked up and put a Hunter's Mark on the objective, so that I could get a free charge for the Stalker, and to MAKE SURE that the Stalker had enough range.

I had Krueger go next, and he TK'd the Stalker forward 2" - I made sure to give him the right facing to be able to see the objective. Krueger then moved over to get onto the cleared flag. Maybe he also shot some Reavers? Who really knows. The flag and charge lane at that point were entirely clear.

Stalker charged the objective, and killed it with his initial attacks.

Krueger dominated for 2, and the objective gave me another, and the game ended.


I took forever this turn making sure I didn't forget anything.

Results: Win for Circle Orboros via scenario!!

Post-game thoughts:

I was elated to have won my first game at this Masters event! Wow, Playing against one of the best players in our area was nerve-wracking for my first game, and being on the TV table again after my last TV performance (against Khador as well, at the IMC Game 5 - go find the report if you want! It's on here somewhere) where I embarrassed myself for everyone to see, I was happy to have a little bit of vindication.

However, I will say this: I got lucky. Ben was tired, and forgot about the Killbox. If he hadn't, this game would have been much harder to win. Granted, I still probably had the advantage, but it would have been much more difficult.

I also again misplayed my Gorax. I need him to be my transfer target, as well as a Primal battery, NOT just die when two or three Doom Reavers decide to glance his direction.

Still, I was happy enough with my play this game - Doom Reavers can be tough to deal with, but apparently Krueger2 does the trick well enough. Shout out to Josh "Newbstomp" Nordstrom for preparing me for insane Khador matchups!

My wife then sent me a picture of my son eating strawberries at home in an attempt to make me feel guilty for being gone all weekend. It worked, a little bit.

He looks unimpressed.

Going into the final 8, the following armies remained:

  • 1x Circle (me)
  • 2x Cryx (Tom Guan and James Brannan)
  • 2x Menoth (Vlad (my opponent from Game 2 of the D&C on day 1) and some other guy)
  • 2x Legion (Casey (my opponent from Game 3 of the D&C on day 1) and Brian Marino
  • 1x Skorne (Andrew (my opponent from Game 5 of the D&C on day 1)
Notice that the from the D&C event, I had to play against THREE people who made it into the top 8 at masters.

I wasn't happy with the remaining armies. I didn't want to face Cryx, Legion, or Menoth. And to be honest, Andrew was a really good player - I didn't want to play against him either.

On the counter-swing, I think they were all looking forward to a game against me. I was the only obvious sub-par player remaining.

Game 2: Circle Orboros vs. Casey Campbell's Legion of Everblight

His Lists:


Sorry for the sideways nature of this sheet. He took Saeryn, Vayl1, and Vayl2. Heh.

Pairings Debate:

Yikes. This one was really, really hard for me. I couldn't play Cassius against him (he'd just shoot my tree to death immediately), and Morv2 wasn't going to be awesome against the Saeryn build I was guessing Casey would drop on me again.

Krueger2 seemed like the wise choice, but the thing was, that in this particular format, if I played Krueger2 again, it meant that I was done with him for the rest of the event. I'd be locked into Morv2 and Cassius. And there was still another Legion player out there.

I finally decided that if I wanted to get to the top 4, I'd have the best chance if I just took Krueger2 again. You can't lose in the finals with a crappy matchup if you don't win the games before it. I'd rather get as far as I could rather than play the "what if" game.

I dropped Krueger2, and Casey dropped Saeryn.

The Mission: Destruction (dominate the zone for 2 CP, control the zone for 1 CP, destroy opponent's objective for 1 CP)

**I won the roll to go first, and took it.

Pre-game thoughts:

*sigh*

Another rematch from previously this weekend. Casey (as I said before) is a great player, and I really didn't feel like playing against either him OR Legion. Especially not against Saeryn. As with Ben, it was going to be really difficult to beat a great player like Casey twice in a row. Especially since we have proof of just how bad he can trounce me.

This was another TV table (same one as last game, actually), and that came with even more pressure.

My plan was to kill his beasts as quickly as I could. The key in my mind was to kill the Angels, though the Scythean was going to mess with me as well.

I wanted to use the Bloodtrackers as distractions for Casey, and force him into unoptimized table positions. Not that there were a lot of those in this scenario. It was going to be a very tough scenario for me to win, as Saeryn's feat could keep the heavies safe for a turn.

Essentially, I wanted to pop my feat at a time that I could threaten the zone, and force Saeryn into popping her feat defensively. Once the feats were out of the way, we could actually begin the game.

I could already tell this one was going to be rough for me. At least I had made the top 8, right? :)

Deployment:

At least I'm getting to be really familiar with Saeryn :)


I put the white Angel as my Prey target (surprise!) and the Totem Hunter put my Druids as his Prey target (surprise again!)

Circle Turn 1:

I ran up. Druids put up Elemental Defense and Counter magic (this and all my other turns, until I tell you otherwise).

Krueger put up Storm Wall, and advanced, also TK'ing himself forward another 2".

Not much more here, honestly.

Note that the Blackclad went on the left there because I figured he'd be able to kill one of the Deathstalkers. Casey was having none of it, and put both Deathstalkers on the right side. Heh.

Legion Turn 1:

Casey did a general advance as well. He put Tenacity and Banishing Ward on the painted Angel, and ran his white Angel to the left side to avoid my Bloodtrackers.

Raek got Tenacity and Regrowth.

The only non-lethal turn of Casey's. :)

Circle Turn 2:

My Bloodtrackers were definitely in range to try and kill the Deathstalkers, and I felt that if I could kill them immediately, it might help to give me a little "mental momentum".

I also decided that this was the right turn to feat. If Casey didn't react by counter-feating, he was going to lose a lot of points, or a lot of beasts. Essentially, drawing out his feat immediately was my #1 priority.

So, the Bloodtrackers went, and with three total shots at each Deathstalker (needing 9's), I managed to kill them both, and reformed backwards.

My heavies stayed behind the wall, and the Druids put clouds up behind them, for no apparent reason.

Shrimp advanced and put some damage on the Scythean.

Krueger advanced his full 6" and popped his feat. It caught most of the heavies, pushing them back 3". He then put up Storm Wall to help protect the rest of my dudes, and camped 4, which I believed to be sufficient.

The ball was now in Casey's court - would he pop his feat, or not?

Interesting to see what Casey will do here next.
Legion Turn 2:

Casey was well aware that he needed to put pressure on me, and that he could gain a positional advantage if he did things right

He couldn't do much damage to me this turn, as his shooting would mostly be against Krueger, who had Storm Wall up. So, he mostly ran his models up. You'll see in the picture.

Casey did do a couple hits on Krueger, but I transferred them away to Gorax. One spell by Saeryn managed to take out a few of my Shrimp as well.

Saeryn also remembered to pop her feat this turn. Yikes.

Not the best board position to have, but I do have a few good things going for me.

Circle Turn 3:

I wasn't going to accomplish much this turn. But, I did have a plan, of sorts.

The zone was going to be mostly easy for Casey to claim next turn, regardless if I put beasts in the zone or not. I decided to try to try and trap Casey into making a mistake: I wanted Saeryn to try and dominate the zone. If she did, I'd be in a great position to send a couple of beasts to her face and end it immediately.

This turn was a little bumbling for me, though.

Krueger went first, and got a TK off on the Raek engaging him. The Raek was turned backwards, and Krueger then walked back behind the wall. He tried to take a shot at the Raek, but had forgotten the damn thing was stealthed, so he missed. Whoops :-/

Bloodtrackers and Shrimp didn't do much good - I think I took out the Raek's spirit, but I kind of messed things up by engaging it early on. Same against the Scythean - he was engaged and therefore I didn't do much damage to him.

I was actually concerned that the Scythean would be able to trample his way through a bunch of Bloodtrackers, so I put the Gorax at the end point. In danger. Again.

Blackclad ran up to engage the white Angel.

No points scored, but I hoped that I made it just difficult enough for Casey to clear the zone that he would be unable to waste a shot at one of my Stones.

Only a few of my models in the zone there, which was actually planned.
 Legion Turn 3:

This was the fateful turn: would Casey make the mistake of getting Saeryn in the zone to dominate it?

First, the Forsaken charged my Blackclad on the left, who was engaging the Angel. He boosted to hit and obliterated the poor Blackclad. Not sure why I didn't see that coming.

White Angel then backed up to the full 2" away from the objective, and destroyed it in a couple easy hits.

Ravagore and other Angel combined to kill my poor Gorax.

Scythean killed a couple Bloodtrackers and backed up. Bloodtrackers passed their CMD check for casualties.

Raek attacked some of the Bloodtrackers, and might have killed one. It doesn't really matter.

Saeryn finally went, and decided not to dominate the zone, which was a great decision :-/

She did cast that spell on the Raek again, which killed a bunch of Bloodtrackers nearby.

Totem Hunter used an awesome run move to get into B2B with a few Druids to tie them up.

Casey controlled the zone for another CP.

Score: 2-0, advantage Legion



Casey still has all but his two Deathstriders left alive. :-/

Circle Turn 4:

The feats were finished, and the game could finally start.

My goal this turn was to kill two heavies, and the Forsaken. I was alright with Casey holding the zone this turn again - I felt that if Saeryn tried to dominate it, I'd be able to kill her, and even if I couldn't, Casey couldn't win this turn, regardless of what happened.

Druids went first, and dragged the White angel a little bit closer, and also managed to get a lucky shot at the Raek, dragging it closer, but also knocking it down! They also managed to knock the Totem Hunter down on their first try, and killed him dead.

Krueger went, moving away from the wall, and cast TK on the white Angel. His boosted attempt hit, and the Angel was turned backwards and moved 2" closer to him. He then TK'd himself backwards 2".

Stones ported Ghetto into B2B with the Angel.

Ghetto activated, and needed 6's to hit the Angel (who had Tenacity on it). He swung 6 times, and hit twice, leaving the Angel on a couple of boxes. Sigh.

Stalker advanced into melee with the Angel, and boosted his hit and damage roll, killing the Angel. Whew!

Bloodtrackers shifted their Prey to the Raek. They managed to kill it easy enough, since it was knocked down. They shifted Prey to the Scythean, but didn't do much damage to it (only one shot at it - I was down to three Bloodtrackers heh.

Not really my best turn, but at least I was able to kill the always-annoying Raek, as well as one of the Angels.

Score: 2-0, advantage Legion


Waaaay too many resources spent to kill one Heavy. Sigh.

Legion Turn 4:

Casey thought about this turn for a long time. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to be in range to hit my Stalker with his Angel, and he also wasn't sure if he should use the Angel's animus to repulse my models out of the zone.

He finally decided to try and do as much damage as he could.

The Forsaken went first, and hit Ghetto with another of its awesome bomb attack things. At dice -11, he rolled 6 dice for damage on Ghetto. He made me take a picture of his roll:

Two damage to Ghetto!

The Angel went next, and charged my Shrimp, deciding he was outside of 12" to get to the Stalker. As it turned out, the Stalker would have been in range, but the Shrimp took the full brunt of the Angel's Armor Piercing Attack, and exploded. Subsequent attacks from the Angel and the Shredder failed to finish the Stalker off.

Scythean charged in and killed my Stoneward and a Bloodtracker.

Well, that could have gone worse.

Circle Turn 5:

I had a fury management issue: one of my beasts would have to roll to frenzy. I selected the Stalker, as he was the least vital to my success. He failed his check, and OBLITERATED the Shredder.

I think this turn Krueger also managed to turn the Angel around, but I'm not sure. I'm fairly certain that he managed to kill the Forsaken though.

At any rate, Ghetto walked up and annihilated the Angel.

Bloodtrackers walked up and put a little more damage on the Scythean, and kept him engaged with few enough boxes that he would take significant damage if he walked away from them.

I shifted my stones to get the Stalker and Krueger inside of them for endgame shenanigans.

No score this turn, but I did manage to kill another couple beasts. My Stalker is still barely alive, but Ghetto is at full health.

Legion Turn 5:

The Ravagore charged in at Ghetto, but rolled poorly and failed to kill him.

The Scythean tried to kill both remaining Bloodtrackers, but somehow failed. I think through poor dice.

Not a good turn for Casey.

Circle Turn 6:

Ghetto killed the Ravagore easily enough. Stalker charged in and finished off the Scythean, barely.

Casey has Saeryn and a Spell Martyr left. And, technically, an objective.


Legion Turn 6:

Casey decided to call it here. Even if he killed my Stalker with Saeryn, Ghetto would come and kill her easy enough. I had the tools to win the game in any way I wanted. I probably should have insisted on a scenario victory, but just decided to call it an assassination instead.

Results: Win for Circle via assassination!!

Post-game thoughts:

Wow. Just... wow. I won two games in a row at masters! I was in the top 4!  I'd managed to beat two great players twice in a row each! Pretty awesome!

There were several things I did wrong this game. One of them was letting the Forsaken kill my Blackclad for no apparent reason. I just didn't notice the Forsaken there, and gave Casey a freebie. I again over-exposed my Gorax, and he died another preventable death.

I also got very lucky. I knocked down both the Raek and Totem Hunter with my Druids in one turn, which resulted in two dead models. (As a side note, I've never gotten a Crit: Knockdown with the Druids without the help of my Wrath. Awesome!) I also rolled for fire to extinguish on Krueger at least once, without taking any damage first.

That said, I did feel much more in control this game. I was able to essentially nullify both of our feats for the price of a couple CP, which is a fine trade if you ask me. I feel that Saeryn's feat trumps Krueger2's feat - overall, I like K2's feat, but in this matchup, Saeryn's feat is just really damn strong.

Overall, I was proud of my execution. I was able to do things in the right order to ensure that I'd be able to do the things I wanted. I kept Krueger mostly safe. I killed two annoying solos (Deathstalkers) when presented the chance.

It was all on TV. It was an intense game, with a few rules debates resulting in Judge-calling, but it never got too intense. I think that I lost on both of the rules debates, haha :-p

At the end of the round, the top 4 armies were:

  1. Cryx (Tom Guan)
  2. Circle (me)
  3. Legion (Brian Marino)
  4. Menoth (A guy named Chris, I believe?)
I was just praying for anything but Legion. Without Krueger2, how could I hope to beat that sort of list? Really, I was hoping for the Menoth player. 

Pairings went up and I saw who I was playing.

Game 3: Circle Orboros vs. Brian Marino's Legion of Everblight

...sigh

His List:


Sideways again! It's Vayl2, Saeryn, and Abby2

Pairings Debate:

There really wasn't much of a debate to be found here. If I took Cassius and Brian took a list with any shooting at all, I'd come close to auto-losing. Whereas Morv2 may not be ideal against Legion, she would be a damn sight better than Cassius. I was nearly certain that Brian would drop Saeryn on me, which would hurt (and actually make some aspects of Cassius more attractive, as I'd have more shooting available to counter his feat turn), but Morv could give buffs against living models, give me rerolls, etc.

The only other bad thing was that I'd be locking myself into Cassius in Game 4. However, if I wanted even a chance to get to the finals, I would need my best caster for the scenario. I'd worry about the finals if and when they actually happened.

I dropped Morv2, while Brian shocked me by dropping Abby2, stating that he "needed the practice". Hm.

The Mission: The dumb one where if you dominate your flag, you take away one opponent CP.

**Brian won the roll to go first, and chose the "good" table edge. I think. Maybe I won and chose first? At any rate, I got first turn.

Pre-game thoughts:

I already knew that Brian was a great player. Like, really good. Before Feast, he let me know he would be in attendance, and that it would be fun to talk about WM/H. I agreed, though I'm sad to say that we never really made the time to do this - tournaments are stupidly busy, and we didn't really have each other's contact info.

At any rate, I also knew one other piece of information about him: he had just recently won Kingdom Con, and was obviously in contention to win Feast as well. Not really the caliber of player I was excited to play against, but it was unavoidable at this stage of such a big tournament. He played Legion, which further made my life difficult.

BUT, he was really laid back, and our game was awesome. Just so you know in advance :)

My plan... my plan was really to just win the attrition war. I knew that my Ravagers would have a good chance to kill at least a couple of Brian's heavies if given the opportunity, and I also knew that Stalkers were golden against them. I also knew that all of my models were going to be trivially removed against Brian's list, especially on his feat turn.

My idea then was to try to get ahead in attrition early, lose a lot of models from his feat, then get everyone I have left to try and grind it out. One thing in my favor going into this match was the fact that I had Purification, and could get rid of the many (many!) animi that would be on the various beasts.

Deployment:

Legion has all the beasts. I'm kinda jealous - I should try out Kaya2 someday.


Poor old Morv2. At least Brian doesn't have a ton of shooting. Still, there were a few opportunities for him to RFP my models.

Circle Turn 1:

I put up Fog of War and Carnivore on the Skinwalkers. Fog of War would affect Brian's Deathstalkers, which was a valid use of early fury, if you ask me. Carnivore was put up out of habit - I was pretty sure I'd need to Purify it off before I actually got to use it.

Everything else just generally advanced.

Ravagers are being a little more reserved than normal - Legion gets long threat ranges. I probably should have scooted them up a little closer though.

Legion Turn 1:

Brian moved his models up cautiously. He put lots of defensive buffs/animi on his various beasts, but didn't get too far up. He managed to kill three Ravagers with shooting, spells, and the Raek. Yikes, didn't really think he'd get that many!

Poor old Ravagers :)

Circle Turn 2:

I wanted to kill the Raek, rightmost Deathstalker, and rightmost Scythean this turn, which I thought was possible.

Morv went first and advanced outside of the Killbox, cast Purification to get rid of the various upkeeps and animi, then used her light cavalry move to get back to toe the hill. She camped 4, in anticipation of assassination.

Next, I had a Stalker put Lightning Strike on the other Stalker.

Stones ported Lightning Struck Stalker near to the Raek and Deathstalker. He managed to kill them both, and Lightning Struck near to Morv. I kept him close to Morv because I felt that if I couldn't kill the Scythean, the Scythean might just decide to charge Morv or the Stalker. If he charged Morv, I'd keep enough transfers to survive, and if he killed the Stalker, I felt that the Skinwalkers + Morv + Gorax could kill him. Fair trade, in my opinion.

Blackclad Wayfarer then advanced as far as he could, to try and put Hunters Mark on the rightmost Scythean. We had to carefully measure it, but he was just outside of 10" range. If I had gotten it off, I believe I could have gotten 4 Ravagers into him, which probably would have been sufficient to kill the Scythean.

Instead, I only got three Ravagers into the Carnivean. They rolled some good damage, but he stayed alive. I hid one of my Ravagers, and even used a Skinwalker B2B shield to keep him out of LOS.

Overall, kind of a failed turn, though killing the Raek and Deathstalker was good at least, and the Carnivean was about ready to topple if Brian exposed him too much.

If I'd killed a heavy this turn, I'd say that attrition was definitely in my favor. Now, I would get to see just how destructive Brian's list could be.

Legion Turn 2:

Brian hemmed and hawed for a while over his turn, which I think was wise. He had a few different things he could try to accomplish. He could likely get a few shots on Morvanha with his Seraph, and then get his Scythean into her as well. Not a wonderful chance at success, but it might have worked.

He could also try to finish off all of my Ravagers, and deny me my feat. In addition, he had a vector on at least one of my Stalkers, and if he wanted to be risky, he could probably get to my other Stalker - Brian would just need to take a couple free strikes from my Skinwalkers first.

We had a strange altercation this turn. He pointed out that Abby had flight, and that it meant that he could ignore intervening models when determining line of sight to her charge targets. I read the rule 3 times, but somehow didn't see it. If you watch the video, it's pretty weird. I didn't know the rule, and was somehow blind to it. He finally pointed it out with his finger, and lo and behold! There it was! Maybe it was stress? Weird. Good to know though, for Krueger's sake (he has flight).

At any rate, Abbey went first. She popped her feat, then walked up and killed a Ravager, which triggered all sorts of awesome stuff for the rest of her Battlegroup.

The Carnivean killed two of my Ravagers, and a Shredder killed another one.

Scythean on the right decided to charge my Stalker on the right, and killed him easily enough.

Seraph decided to snipe out my remaining Ravager, and had an easy enough time doing so. This would deny me the ability to feat back any models in that unit - pretty powerful move!

I don't really remember what the remaining Scythean did - I think he just wanted to hang out and block my assassination vectors on Abby, which as you'll see, was a valid decision.

My turn started with me wondering what exactly I should/could do in the face of such a strong punch, attritionally.

Brian has lost... 2 mostly inconsequential models. I've lost 8 Ravagers and a Stalker, and can't feat my Ravagers back. Not really a great trade. I'm not even ahead on scenario!

Circle Turn 3:

I felt that I had a reasonable assassination vector on Abby, in the form of a ported Stalker with Primal on him. I'd need to clear out some models first though, and even then it would be a little sketchy.

Skinwalkers went first, and I managed to kill the Deathstalker on the left side, while the other two Skinwalkers did a couple CMAs on the nearby Shredder, killing him. Brian leeched the fury from this, and I realized my mistake: There was no way I'd be able to assassinate Abby now, with as many transfers as she was sitting on. I also had my Skinwalker Alpha kill one of my Gallows Groves, so that I could feat it back at some point.

After scratching my head for a while, I decided my only recourse was to try to get back into the attrition game.

Morvahna acted first. She had a tall order: kill a fully healthy Scythean on her own. She used Purification to get rid of everyone's defensive animi, then charged the Scythean. It took a few swings and some crazy spiked dice, but she managed to kill the Scythean with two fury remaining! She used her light cavalry move to get back on the hill, but I made sure to stay in range to be able to force

This freed the Gorax to put Primal on the Stalker (he was the backup to kill the Scythean if necessary), so he durdled over and did just that.

Stones ported the Stalker in between the Seraph and remaining Scythean.

My dice went bonkers, and I managed to kill both the Scythean and the Seraph in 5 total attacks. I didn't even reroll a single roll with Morvahna. My rolls were off the charts good, and I won't pretend that I didn't get lucky. However, I *did* have another attack to lean on if I needed it, and I think that even if it was a little below average chance to kill both beasts with 6 attacks without any rerolls, but with Morvahna giving me rerolls, I had a pretty decent shot at killing both.

And that was that. I had killed two Scytheans,a Seraph, a Deathstalker, and a Shredder in a single turn. Attrition had evened itself out, at least somewhat.

I even scored a point for controlling the zone!

Score: 1-0, advantage Circle.


You can see my proxy base on the hill there where Morvahna actually is.

Legion Turn 3:

Brian wasn't quite sure what to do here. He needed to kill my Stalker ASAP, but there wasn't much else he could probably do.

The Shredder frenzied and charged the Stalker, doing some good damage. Carnivean did not frenzy, unfortunately.

Abby went next, and charged the Stalker, killing him easy enough. She then teleported over to the corner of the zone.

Carnivean got a spray off on some of my Skinwalkers, doing some trivial damage.

Forsaken walked up and spiked some really big rolls (needed a "9" to even cause a single point of damage to my Skinwalkers), and caused two points of damage to two of them.

Score: 1-0, advantage Circle.

Not even remotely close to out of the ballpark here.


Circle Turn 4:

We had a few rules things this turn. I'm sorry to say that Brian was basically correct in all of them. I need to learn the rules better :-/

At any rate, I thought I had a good opportunity to kill Abbey, as close as she was to all of my Skinwalkers. However, after we checked it out, only three of my Skinwalkers could get into her.

They did so, but did some trivial damage.

One Skinwalker charged the Shredder on the right, and mega-whiffed.

Gorax charged the Forsaken and killed it. Woot.

I decided to keep Morv away from the action this turn. Brian didn't have much he could threaten her with, and I wasn't in much danger of losing all of my Skinwalkers anytime too soon. I just needed to try to grind things out, then anchor with Morvahna if necessary.

Score: 1-0, advantage Circle.



Model-wise, it looks like I have the upper hand. But, Brian does have the only heavy remaining on the table, which is actually a pretty big deal.
Time for some Skinwalkers to die...

Legion Turn 4:

Abby and the Carnivean combined to kill four of my Skinwalkers, and Abby teleported herself deep into the forest behind the zone.

Score: 1-0, advantage Circle.


I only have about 8 models remaining. Brian has 5 left, including his heavy.

Circle Turn 5:

I decided to just try to win via attrition. I had a vector on killing Abby with a feated Gallows Grove + 3 Sunder Spirits in the back, but I decided against it. It just wasn't necessary.

Gorax killed the remaining Shredder.

Skinwalkers used CMAs to finish off the Carnivean, as well as the Forsaken.

Morvahna popped her feat, and brought back the Blackclad, Gallows Grove, and 4 Skinwalkers. I moved her into the center of my Stones unit, so that she could be more reactive, then cast Sunder Spirit through the feated Gallows Grove to kill off the Succubus. Brian's only model remaining was Abby.

I scored another point.

Score: 2-0, advantage Circle.

Looks a little more lopsided now.

Legion Turn 5:

Abby charged my Gorax and killed him, then teleported over to stare at Morvahna. Remember, she couldn't contest the zone, so I scored again.

Score: 3-0, advantage Circle.

Circle Turn 6:

I ported Morvahna into the zone with the Stones, and ended my turn, dominating the zone for 2 more CP.

Abby is like, "wait, what?"
Results: Win for Circle via Scenario!!

Post-game thoughts:

I wasn't quite sure how I had won another game, to be honest. Brian was a great player, as well as a great opponent, and I wasn't quite sure if I was just dreaming, and maybe I would wake up and the masters tournament would start soon thereafter.

Honestly, I think it was a lot of luck on my part. If the Skinwalkers hadn't killed the Shredder (and Brian hadn't leeched the fury from it), then I'd have probably tried to get the Stalker into Abby, after Morv had feated the Grove into Abby's back arc and shot her with some boosted Sunder Spirits. We measured afterward, and determined that the Stalker would probably have been just outside of 2" from Abby, dooming me to failure.

The lesson to learn from this is to not get stuck on assassinations without looking for other solutions. If I had seen the potential for the Stalker to kill two heavies, while Morv killed another one, I'd have probably just done that in the first place. But, Brian had killed a Stalker and all of my Ravagers in one turn, and I immediately felt that I was behind by 20 points and therefore doomed to lose via attrition.

So, keep your head!

I also rolled pretty marvelously. Brian pointed it out, and I won't deny it. If either the Scythean OR Seraph had survived his attacks, I'd have had a rough time trying to win. There was definitely some recourse, but the game would have been pretty different.

Good, fun game in the semi-finals, and I look forward to seeing more from Brian in the months/years to come!

It was then that I was informed that Tom Guan had won his match, and that it would be between him and me for the final. He was locked into Gaspy1, and I was locked into Cassius. Looking at his lists, I thought there might just maybe be a chance to pull this whole thing off...

Game 4: Circle Orboros vs. Tom Guan's Cryx!!

His List:

Should be a unit of Skeletons or whatever they're called in the Lich1 list. I actually caught that before the game, though it was mostly inconsequential.


Pairing Debate:

Zero debate. I was forced to play Cassius, while Tom was forced to play Lich1 (aka Gaspy1, aka Asphyxious1)

The Mission: Close Quarters (dominate your flag for 1 CP, control enemy flag for 1 CP, dominate enemy flag for 2 CP, KILLBOX)

**Tom won the roll to go first, and ... he took it. DAMNIT.

Pre-game thoughts:

On one hand, I was elated - this was the kind of list my Cassius list was designed to beat. Hellmouth to get around the incorporeal/high DEF/recursion shenanigans that Cryx does. On the other hand, I had not really played Cassius very often, and while I had played against Gaspy1 a fair bit in the grow league, I knew there must be more tricks to him than what had been done to me.

I also knew that Tom was a great player - he had already qualified for the Warmachine Weekend Invitational, and had already destroyed me earlier this weekend in the Iron Gauntlet. Whereas I wasn't exactly intimidated (very hard to intimidate me in any game), I was possessed of the understanding that Tom not only had a lot more experience than me, but that he actually had natural talent as well. It's a pretty deadly combination.

That said, I wasn't about to just roll over. Plenty of people who were arguably better players than I was had already lost to me, and I felt that in this case, I could probably hold my own. I just wished I was a little more practiced with Cassius.

My plan wasn't very complicated - I would try to zap as many of his infantry with Hellmouth as possible. I noticed early on that Tom didn't have much that could *easily* take out my heavies, and I intended to capitalize on that as much as possible. That meant the Bane Riders had to die quickly as well.

Deployment:


That's a lot of dudes!

Bloodtrackers chose the Satyxis Raiders to be their Prey.

Cryx Turn 1:

Tom ran his stuff up. He put Parasite on his Revnants. Kind of a cool idea.

Lots of stuff, much close to me now.

Circle Turn 1:

I also ran my stuff up. I spread the Bloodtrackers out, in an effort to keep Tom from advancing too far on the left. I knew that at least half of them would die, but with luck, it would also create some sort of cluster where I could then hellmouth them to death.

Otherwise, I really didn't move up too far. I didn't want the Bane Riders to be in charge range of me, and I felt that I had an alright table position where I was.

Things are about to get crazy!

Cryx Turn 2:

This is where my inexperience really kicked in. I hadn't ever even contemplated this move. It's pretty cool though. :)

Tom had an Arc Node run within 5" of one of my Bloodtrackers. He then had Gaspy cast Parasite on the Bloodtrackers, advanced pretty far up, then popped his feat, which caused a POW 6 on every enemy model in his control. Because of Parasite, Bloodtrackers went down to ARM 8, and Tom managed to catch every single one of my models in it. One Bloodtracker survived. OUCH.

Then Gaspy teleported behind a wall to safety.

Without a left flank, Tom just advanced without fear, and jammed me pretty well. Yikes.

Pretty rough turn for me - not sure what I could have done to offset it though.

Circle Turn 2:

I hemmed and hawed for a while. Cassius was being threatened by the Bane Riders, but I needed to get Hellmouth twice if possible, and avoid killboxing myself.

I eventually settled on having two Stones shift up between two clusters of infantry. Using my Gallows Groves, I managed to kill around 10 infantry, which was really pretty good - that's close to a third of Tom's infantry. It also included a huge number of incorporeal (from their mini-feat) Blood Witches, which made me feel fancy.

I had Cassius move over into a forest on the right, and made sure to keep him 14" from my own table edge for killbox.

Nyss were a little out of position - I actually don't remember much of what they did, honestly. It's been a while, and I apparently didn't take a picture of the end of my own turn :-/ I actually think that I got a bunch of them into melee with an arc node. They missed all their swings though.

I had left the two objectives pretty obtainable for Tom, though I was alright with that - another turn or two of Hellmouths, along with my Stalker walking his way through Bane Riders would mean that Tom didn't have much left. I felt that losing a couple points was preferable to overcommitting, since I could win the attrition game eventually, despite not having my Bloodtrackers anymore.

Cryx Turn 3:

Tom started by asking me to check my killbox. I was confident that I had kept Cassius outside of 14" from my table edge. I measured, and sure enough, I was just over 14" from my table edge. However, he then pointed out that I wasn't over 14" from the RIGHT table edge.

I killboxed myself, despite my very deliberate efforts to stay outside of Killbox. *facepalm*

SUCH a newb mistake!

With that, Tom easily cleared the two flags, and Gaspy dominated his. That gave him 4 total points.

Score: 4-0, advantage Cryx

Killbox is a pretty big deal, it turns out.

Circle Turn 3:

I was in an alright place in an attrition sense. Another couple Hellmouths would really clear out a ton of infantry, and I personally didn't feel that Tom would be able to continue to apply pressure on me.

However, the game was essentially over, due to my foolish kill-boxing. I could have just popped my feat and stayed safe, but I had wanted to use that later. I feel that this was a sound decision IF Killbox hadn't been part of the scenario. As it was, it essentially meant that if I couldn't contest Gaspy's flag this turn, I'd auto-lose.

After a while of staring at the board blankly, unsure how to get there, I finally had an idea. I was a very slim chance that it would actually work, but I felt that I should at least try it. It was the finals, after all!

I had the Stalker go first, and put Lightning Strike on Megalith.

He also walked up and killed a Bane Rider, I believe.

Cassius used Hellmouth to clear out a few more models, and popped his feat to keep him safe in case my crazy plan somehow worked.

Bladclad on the right did some good work as well, clearing out a few more infantry models, including his Warwitch Siren and the Blood Hag.

Gorax was a boss, and threw one Raider at three clustered Raiders, killing all 4.

Nyss shredded a couple more Bane Riders.

Finally, it was time for Megalith to go on his epic run for glory.

I had him Trample 8" up to a few of the Revnant crew models, then killed the both with melee attacks. Having destroyed models in melee, he used Lightning Strike to sprint over to within 4" of the flag, contesting it!

Score: 4-0, advantage Cryx



If Tom couldn't kill Megalith, I could find a way to win... maybe. Still very questionable.

Cryx Turn 4:

Tom started by getting Parasite off on Megalith with the Skarlock Thrall.

It went downhill from there, and his infantry did a bunch of damage. I asked Tom to finish Megalith off with Gaspy even though he didn't need to, and he acquiesced, once Megalith was sitting on about 2 health. Not that he needed it, but Tom spiked some seriously ridiculous damage rolls from his infantry. Salt in the wound :)

Gaspy easily finished Megalith off, teleported back onto the objective, and scored his final point.

Results: Loss for Circle via scenario!!

Post-game thoughts:

Well, damnit. I actually thought I had a reasonable chance this game. I was killing infantry in droves, and was even killing some key pieces. If it had been a straight attrition game, I honestly think I'd have won. Even with Tom getting two scenario points on his Turn 3, I felt like I could win the game.

Killboxing myself when I was very deliberate about not doing that really just killed me. I didn't let it tilt me, which I'm proud of, but it essentially lost the game for me before we actually got to start playing. Please don't take this as a "if I didn't killbox myself, I'd have won for sure" statement - the outcome was still very much in question, even without it. But, I would have had a fighting chance.

Sometimes you just have to lose that way to learn to play better. I won't promise that I won't make that same killbox mistake again, but I will say that it is unlikely it happens again anytime soon.

Tom is a great opponent, and I think that most people just assumed that he would win this game. I really really wish I hadn't just handed him the game the way I did by Killboxing myself, but sometimes that's just how it goes. Popping my feat that turn was very possible, and I did think about it.

Tournament Results:

The thing I hate about the Win/Loss system in Warmachine is that once you lose, your strength of schedule (SOS) dictates your placing. In this case, instead of being undefeated until the top table and therefore getting 2nd by default, I was faced with the knowledge that I could go as low as 4th place. I knew that every opponent I played against had failed to win a single game after I played them, putting my SOS at 7.

I knew that one of my opponents from the Divide and Conquer (Andrew Durso) had gone 3-1 as well, and my heart stopped when he told me he also had a 7 for his SOS.

It would come down to who had more command points, and I immediately kicked myself for not taking the extra 5 points I could have gotten easily enough in my game against Saeryn in Game 2.

I had 10 CP for the day.

Andrew had....

...

...

...

*suspense*

...

...

...

...

Andrew had 9 CP.

This meant that I just barely beat him out and took 2nd place at Feast of Blades.

...

I GOT SECOND PLACE AT FEAST OF BLADES MASTERS!!!

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

Here's a couple bad pictures of my trophy. It came with a bottom light thing, but the batteries weren't in it, and therefore the trophy looks a little bit lame in these pictures. When it's lighted up, you can read it much better, and it looks a lot cooler. Anyways, here's the "proof":

Wow, these are even more awful than I remember.

In case this one is somehow better...?

Post-tournament thoughts:

Well. It's hard not to feel disappointed at not having won the whole thing. Especially when I was the one who did it to myself. Tom played a great game, and very well probably would have still beat me, but it just kills me that I handed him a couple free points like that.

That said, I don't think anyone could have predicted my run. I won 3 games in a row at a very competitive Masters event, and had a real shot at winning the 4th one. That's not bad at all (if I do say so myself) for only having played this game for less than 6 months. In addition, I got two wins over very solid Legion players, which is especially meaningful because Circle traditionally struggles mightily against Legion.

I realize that there was a lot of luck involved in all of my wins - I was pretty clearly not the 2nd best player at that tournament. But, doing this well against great opponents, even with a lot of luck involved, is a pretty cool thing to me. I think it means I'm getting better. You may disagree, but please don't be too rude about it when you tell me so :)

One thing I almost forgot - Tom had already qualified for the Warmachine Weekend Invitational, so the honor went to me. I was actually planning on going, after a few guys told me they'd start a "go fund me" thing to help pay for my last-minute trip. I'd get REALLY stomped there, playing against all the most awesome players in the country, but it would be some awesome experience.

HOWEVER, I then discovered that it was the same weekend as my best friend's wedding, which I will be the best man for. Pretty disappointing that two awesome events would be on the same weekend, but I think it's obvious enough that I won't be going to WMW. Not this year anyways :-/

So, what's next?

I'm not really sure! There aren't any major events I intend to attend until Adepticon in March. I think there will be another IMC sometime around then as well, which I intend to attend. Genghis Con is in February, which I'll probably attend, but it's not really a "major" event.

I do intend on messing around with a few new casters. Tonight I'm hoping I can take Bradigus Tier 4 for a spin (6x Watchers, 2x Guardians, 2x Sentry Stones, 3x Shifting Stones), and I also intend on messing around with Mohsar a little bit as well. Cassius is out of my circle of love for now - he may make a return one day, but for now, I'm going to find another caster I'm more comfortable playing as my 3rd drop.

My intent is to keep playing lots of games, and doing lots of battle reports. There will be lots of local events to tide y'all over until the slew of events begins again (Adepticon, IMC, either Gen Con or Lock 'n Load).

Thanks for reading my wall(s) of text! Hope you all enjoyed the reports :)

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