Six minute timed turns and five rounds in a day mean no time for pictures even if I did have a decent camera. I can’t even copy and paste anyone else’s to Photobucket because library computers don’t let me use right-click menus. FAIL.
Game the first, without so much as a cup of tea inside me, was against a nice chap called Rich who’d brought Magnus the Traitor, a couple of ‘jacks and Boomhowler’s merry troll minions. He’d also not played much Warmachine before, and if I’d known that before I chose which list to use I might not have forced epic Deneghra on him. The scenario proved slightly irrelevant, even with the house rule that control points wouldn’t be counted until the bottom of round two (to stop the move-move-feat-win non-tactic beloved of epic Deneghra fans everywhere, which I actually approve of as it means she gets to use her spell list once in a while). With his movement locked down on the third turn, and Curse of Shadows allowing movement through Boomhowler’s boys, Rich could do little to stop the Nightmare from closing in and pulling Magnus’ head off. I didn’t have the range of hitsies necessary to kill everything in the big circle we were fighting over, so it was assassination or nothing. Took longer than the usual Wraith Witch game, and Rich had a couple of shots at me that didn’t materialise, but I don’t think he had masses of fun and I sort of wish I’d run the Iron Lich list instead.
One cup of tea later and along comes an even nicer chap called Drew who’d played ten games beforehand. If you’re starting to see a pattern in these early games, well done. It would later prove to be my downfall. This time I brought in epic Skarre to face Sorscha, her Widowmakers and two chunky melee ‘jacks. Drew had me on the rocks here, and he knew it; some excellent target priority on his part saw the Necrosurgeon stripped clean off the board and one of my Pistol Wraiths copped after Death Chilling Beast-09. However, he’d left Sorscha with no focus and a DEF9 or 10 warjack next to her; dropping a Blood Rain on the ‘jack, boosting the damage on her, and finishing her off with the other Pistol Wraith proved easy enough. Game of the day for me; Drew was a fine and fun opponent, and I think it was him who sold me… no, we’ll come back to that later.
After hanging around bothering the chaps from Invasion, who’d been good enough to bring their mobile shop down and tolerate my indecisive buying-no-wait-not-buying habits, the draws for the third round were announced and… oh crap. Former UK number one Martyn Jenkins and his Cryx. Not to worry, I thought, Martyn’s a nice bloke, I’ve almost beaten him before…
Fool’s words. Martyn’s damn good. He’s a past master of formation management and board control, and he’d brought along so many Thralls of various flavours and set them up so cunningly that no AOE or Reach weapon would kill more than maybe two at a time, and the rest would be positioned to pounce me right back. Given that my Asphyxious army relied on these things to clear crowds, and couldn’t really take a counter-punch, I was onto a wrong ‘un from the start. When we remembered that Asphyxious’ feat doesn’t damage undead models, that was about all she wrote. My Satyxis were scared to go near Terminus, I gave away a free strike that crippled my Soulhunters, and Martyn’s adept placement skills gave him the scenario on turn three. Still, it’s always a pleasure losing to the best, and Martyn’s definitely one of the best; proper gent and I always learn a lot from playing him.
Losing to him trapped me on the middle boards to face up-and-coming ace Aaron (third place in this year’s Nationals… yes, those two relatively easy games were coming back to bite me in the arse now, and the tension was starting to build). Aaron brought Ashlynn, Gun Mages with a UA and marshalled Mule, a Nomad and Aiyana and Holt. I had melee pieces with poor DEF and ARM. It was a bloody mess. This was my first unsatisfactory game – not because Aaron was anything less than pleasant (he was a bit more intense than is my preference in opposition, but not rudely so – just focused), but because it was such a poor matchup and because I played it so badly. No spells arced onto the back of my own Thralls to catch Gun Mages in the blast, no Skarre moving up and feating early on (I actually forgot to move her at all on turn one), I forgot Ashy had Admonition up to escape charges (even though Skarre’s got it and I used it in the second game) and her stupid feat made any counter-attack an impossibility. I might have been able to make good in an untimed game with some thinking room and the chance to observe exactly what was falling on the dice and use Seas of Fate to dodge the feat, but it was not to be.
I confess that I was less than gentlemanly after this round. I’d had a pint after the game with Martyn – big mistake, I should NEVER drink at tournaments – and I was halfway to the bar before we’d finished shaking hands in this one. I did apologise, and Aaron was good enough to say he hadn’t noticed anything, it was a bad matchup, had I considered trying this/that/the other, but I still feel a bit guilty. Good advice though; I definitely agree with him about the list changes that need making.
Final game was against my own colleague Neal, who’d been battering his way up from the bottom tables all day. He had the High Reclaimer and a LOT of infantry against an Epic Deneghra list designed to kill lots of infantry and assassinate. It’s the first time in ages that I’ve had a list do exactly what it was designed to do and, in doing so, give away a game. We were able to pinpoint some obvious mistakes (like choosing to go second – I’m a ninny sometimes), and I could scrape together the insight to suggest things might have been different with a Siren and some better target priority on my part (Curse of Shadows the front stuff, walk through and Purge to clear a route for the Nightmare to kill the Reclaimer before his souls turned into focus, and pick a more sensible Prey so the Nightmare could notch up some more speed), but this was my third bad list pairing of the day and it left something of a bad taste in my mouth. We might restage this one in an untimed, casual environment and see if we can crack it, or we might not.
As I thought before I went in, my collection isn’t really appropriate for tourney play in this day and age. Goreshade would have been a solid caster choice, maybe more so than Asphyxious; Sirens and some sort of gun-toting helljack would have come in very handy at least twice.
New toys are going to have to wait, however, as right now I want a break from the Cryx. The tinfoil armour, limited shooting and dependence on debuffs are starting to weary me a bit, and I have an itch to do a Hordes faction, ideally one that has the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t gameplay the Menites frustrated me with.
The Beasts from the East are back on. I play Skorne now. The Invasion lads sold me a battlebox, Drew (I’m sure it was Drew) sold me a faction book, and I still have that Hexeris model lying around. They still don’t shoot all that much, but they can take some punches as well as dish them out and they don’t seem to have the embarrassingly one-pip-shy statlines Cryx troops are often burdened with. Only problem is it’s more red and bronze and that’s what I’ve done on the Dark Elves. We’ll see how it works out.