Monday, December 5, 2011

Brothers Grim Steamroller Tournament!

This past Saturday Dec 3rd I attended my first ever Steamroller tournament: 35 points of Warmachine/Hordes at Brothers Grim Gaming on Long Island...a GREAT place that I can't recommend highly enough. Fully painted armies were not required, but I recruited my wife and we burnt the midnight oil Thursday and Friday nights, and got everything reasonably well painted, but had no time for proper basing. It was very nice to show up with everything looking pretty!

Here I'll post some pics of the army, and have some kind of report on the battles I fought and thoughts on my first Steamroller event!

I brought two lists, though really unsure of which to choose at which time. The rules were that if you brought two lists, you had to use them both at least once, which was fine by me...I like them both very much!

My first list was a very beast-centric Morghoul list:

Master Tormentor Morghoul

Aptimus Marketh

Titan Gladiator

Bronzeback Titan


Cyclops Brute

6 Nihilators

4 Paingiver Beast Handlers

and an Agonizer
I think the list has a potent combination of anti-infantry (Nihilators, Rhinodon, Morghoul), incredible heavy-hitting beasts with the Bronzeback and Gladiator, super support with the Agonizer and PGBH. I felt comfortable using this list against nearly anything. At least I did until they mentioned the Accelerated Time Limits...

My second list was minimal on the beasts, with lots of souls for Zaal to direct:

Supreme Aptimus Zaal & Kovaas

Titan Gladiator

Cyclops Brute

10 Praetorian Karax

10 Nihilators

Hakaar and two Ancestral Guardians

Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
This list floods the table with bodies, with a lot of fun tricks and a potentially incredible Feat turn. My favorite is getting a Gladiator with Last Stand on a Caster on Feat Turn! Up to Seven attacks with 4-dice to hit and damage equals a dead caster! Moreover, as a not-very-common caster I hoped to take advantage of folks being less familiar with him and his heavily armoured statues!

Well, this was my first WM/H tournament at all. I really wasn't sure what to expect. I'm a WM/H novice, with me feeling a lot of stress over the what-I-expected 10 minute turn limits. When I learned they were going to use 7-minute turn limits, I kind of went in to a panic. How could I do that Zaal army in only 7 minutes?! Well, I was there to learn, not to win, so I swallowed and took a deep breath and listened for first pairing.

My first game was against a guy that was new to table-top gaming, and if anything he was more nervous than I was. He'd only played a handful of games with his Menoth force, but handled the mechanics of the game extremely well! I took no notes for army lists, and I know very little about Menoth, but his army was led by pKreoss, and included the Avatar, two heavy jacks, two light jacks, two mechanics, and a big Choir unit.

Lined up against Kreoss and Avatar!

Menoth Deployment
The mission was Incursion, and as it turned out our middle flag disappeared. Both of us had run up towards the middle, between the two stands of trees on Turn 1, leaving us both unsure of what to do...go get flags, or just kill stuff! We kind of did both at the same time. :)

Rhinodon with Admonition as bait...which he didn't take.

Go get them, my tortured and mutilated mutant elephants!!

Note the backwards Bronzeback...those tusks make
base-to-base impossible!

I ended up charging the buffed up Bronzeback in to one of his Heavy Jacks (I'm sorry, I don't know their names, and it died so fast I don't even know what it did!) near the right flag. If I'd been a little smarter, I could have won outright on turn 2...I'd also charged with Nihilators, with them getting flung out wide enough that one of them got on the left-hand flag too. If I'd left the Bronzback base-to-base with the flag while fighting his Jack, I would have had two points right away! Oh well.

I also buffed up the Rhinodon and sent him in to Slam his other Heavy Jack. I had some bad dice, or it would have died too...buffed up Rhino is hitting at POW 18!...instead leaving it very crippled with just 3 boxes left. It was knocked-down from the Slam, along with Avatar who it was slammed in to. The Gladiator stayed back to counter-charge whatever went after the Rhinodon, and the Agonzier cried Spiritual Affliction and ran in to the woods...I was trying to get coverage on Avatar, but forgot he doesn't get focus Allocated, so was a waste of time really.

The Light Jacks take out the Nihilators securing the left Flag.

On the other side of the table the Nihilators ran up to tie up his light jacks, while one of them ran and was able to get on the left flag.

Big scrum around the Rhinodon!

 Things turned in to a giant scrum as his Mechanics tried to fix the Rhinodon-beaten Jack, only healing 1 point. It got up and had nothing in it's short melee range, so advanced and did nothing. Avatar used focus to stand up in the Control Phase (can he do that?) and advanced to beat down the Rhinodon, but with limited focus didn't remove any aspects.

The game got hot and heavy from here, so no more pictures. I charged Avatar with the buffed up Gladiator, but didn't do too much. I SHOULD have Slammed it, killing the jack behind it and followed up to beat it down with the Gladiator, and the Rhino too. Nihilators on my flag were eventually wiped out, but the others were able to kill off Mechanics and a couple Choir. On his next turn he finished off the Rhinodon, while moving to the left flag with his light jacks. On my last turn I got Bronzeback buffed up and charged Avatar, and dice-down was called.

Other than the first turn, when all it was was running, I don't think I had a turn where I had time to use all my beasts. On the last turn, if I'd had a few more minutes Bronzeback would have torn Avatar apart, and the Cyclops would run to get on the right flag, winning it for me 2-1 with a ton of points...this set the theme for the day. Still, I won the game on 4th tie-breaker, on overall points killed. He'd killed Rhinodon and half the Nihilators, while I'd killed 2 heavy jacks and 2 solos. I'll take the win!

Second game was against something that I was actually a bit familiar with from the local meta...Terminus with a lot of Bane Thralls...two min units, one with UA. Along he had the Withershade Combine; Darragh Wrathe; Madelyn Corbeau; and one jack: Erebus, I believe, but am not 100% sure. Also 6 Bile Thralls...I hate those things!

Terminus wants these souls, but Zaal wants them more!

Well, I learned awhile back that Zaal trumps Terminus' feat, and since I needed to use both lists anyway, I decided to get Zaal on the table and hope I could play fast! Our mission was two Zones near the middle, which we completely ignored and went for the throats!

That's a lot of dead guys!

He went first, ran everything forward, got his extra move from Wrathe, and I just shuffled forward a bit, staying out of his charge ranges. He shuffled forward a bit as well, but got close enough for Nihilator charge. They ran ahead, and did good damage, taking out almost half of the Bane Knights.

He brought up a Bile and purged before moving his other Biles...then tried to move the others after the purge. I was kind of mean, and didn't let him: it's a tournament, after all. That purge only killed one Karax, but the Corrosion wiped out all but 3 on my next turn. Hakaar got Vengence and moved up to Terminus, who'd came very far forward to kill off a few Nihilators. Hakaar took a small chunk out of him. Zaal activated, popped his Feat (I had about 14 Rage at this point), put Last Stand on Hakaar. The Karax charged Terminus, using a CMA, and hoping to whittle him down some, but did nothing. A Guardian charged him, with Rage and Souls took a few chunks out of him. Then Hakaar went to work, with Last Stand he was able to finish off Terminus and win the game on turn 3! Yeah!! Note that I had to use my extension to finish off the Hakaar assassination, and hadn't even done any beasts, the Nihilators, or anything else. 7 minutes is rough! If I'd not killed him, I'd be in a pickle...I think the Gladiator MIGHT have had charge range to him, which would have sealed the deal, but if not Zaal was pretty exposed...probably death by Bane Thrall.

Dead Terminus!
The third game was a rough one. I played the guy that ended up winning the tournament. He was using Cygnar led by Sloan, and including a Charger, a Defender, and a Sentinel. ATGM with UA (one of the Jacks was Marshalled here, but I don't remember which). One Stormsmith Stormcaller was along, and a very fearsome combination: Nyss Hunters led by Jonas Murdoch!

Well, I thought the shooting would rip my beasts apart in two turns, so turned again to Zaal and the massive number of bodies. With not super-hard targets, I thought the Guardians would do OK, and that the Nihilators would make quick work of the Nyss if they could get the charge.

I took few pictures this game, between fatigue and stressing the 7 minute turns (I didn't have a single turn where I moved everything, except the first!) I just didn't think about photos. The mission was actually really have to damage objectives, when you "kill" it, it moves, and you try to move it in to a scoring zone.

Gun Mages and Sentinel alone on the flank.

With so few pictures, the game will just be a summary. I set up opposite the corner he was in, hoping to minimize the shooting from the ATGM as they'd have to spend two turns moving to get in to range. In retrospect, I probably should have set up opposite him and just ran across the table to kill him asap instead of playing the mission. I did a good job at first of keeping the damage limited to Nihilators and solos that I didn't think would add much...gobbers, and agonizer...for the first few turns, while moving my "objective" very well. Then I got sidetracked and decided to start to kill stuff...which might have gone all right if I'd had time to do it. I bungled Kovaas, frankly my opponent had something to do with that. In the photo below, that Guardian on the right was killed, Kovaas popping out. I asked to confirm that the ATGM had magical ranged attacks, he responded yes. I asked if they had Gunfighter, and he again responded yes, they do. Probably just a misunderstanding, but I didn't want to send Kovaas in to fight a bunch of high Def meanies that can kill him in melee, so I sent him to tie up as many Nyss and Jacks as I could, which also got him on Sloan. I wish I'd known they didn't have GF, as I would have tied most of them up. Instead, Sloan killed Kovaas easily, and he continued picking apart my army. Still, I'd focused on the objective more than him. On what turned out to be the last turn, he has two ATGM that had no targets, so I reminded him that he could shoot the objective, so he did, finally moving it once. This cost me the game.

Nihilators in the lead, taking it to them!

The game ended with me just starting my turn...if I'd had a minute or less, I would have scored on my objective (3 Nihilators and a Guardian set to charge it), and that would have won it for me. As it was, it went to tie-breaker since neither of us had scored. The first tiebreaker was if one of us had their objective completely in their opponent's half of the table. We both did, so it went to Points Killed, and he won handily, as I'd not actually killed any units or Jacks. If I'd kept my mouth shut and not encouraged him to shoot the Objective on his last turn, I would have won on that tie-breaker.

Despite the loss it was a fun game where I was exposed to what I really consider the first "serious" tournament player. I believe this guy was from a dedicated WM/H club in New Jersey, and my lack of experience was really telling in this game. This one I felt the time crunch acutely, I simply had too many units to activate them all every turn. Very frustrating!

The last game was against the one army there that I really wanted to play, almost an exact mirror of the Talion Charter Shae list that I want to build! The army looked great, with a fun ship-deck display board that I sadly did not get a good photo of. The list was Shae, the Commodore Cannon, of course; a Mariner, a Freebooter, and a Buccaneer were his jacks; he had a min unit of Press Gangers and a min unit of Sea Dogs with Walls. His solos were many, thanks to Tier 4: Hawk; Grogspar; Dirty Meg; the Doc; Aiyanna & Holt, and Lord Rockbottom.

My, what a big gun you have...

With Shae Tier 4 he of course won the roll and had me go first. The Mission was a strange Radial deployment where we had to hold a flag and contest a zone in our opponent's side of the table to score a point. I set up with the Nihilators forward, as usual, with the beasts centrally behind, waiting to see what the Pirates would throw at me.

He set up with all his Jacks on my Right, the Cannon in the middle, and the PG and Sea Dogs were at max AD, with the PG off to my left, clearly heading for his flag. The Sea Dogs looked to be coming right at me.

Note the stack of Steamroller coins for Rockbottom!

On my first turn I ran up a bit. I know Shae has lots of movement tricks, and I wanted too get charged by stuff early and get it out of the way. I threw some Nihilators up forward, with some more where I hoped they'd be out of range, along with the Rhinodon ready to counter charge.

He obliged, popping his feat and casting Coup d'main right away. The Sea Dogs charged using their mini-feat, but only got on a few of the Nihilators, and I was happy to see out-ran Grogspar and most of them were too far ahead of the Doc for the 4+ Tough! I lost a few Nihilators, Marketh happily collecting their souls, and I counter charged! A nice few rolls of the dice (my last for the day) left only one Sea Dog and Walls alive. The Rhino charged in to try to finish them, but he missed three attempts to kill Walls, and had no more Fury left to get that last Sea Dog.

Even the Bronzeback got to eat a pirate!

The Commodore wasn't able to do anything decisive the first few turns. I lined up a great Grand Slam with the Gladiator that would have sent the Freebooter through Shae, and my follow-up with the Gladiator would likely have finished Shae off, but needing a 6 to hit with three dice, I rolled two 1s and a 2. Ordo! The Gladiator did finish off the Freebooter, but killing off Shae would have been better.

Dogpile on the Gladiator!
So on our left, he moved up A&H and Grogspar to contest the objective, the Doc went back to hold his flag, and the Press Gangers went after the Rhino and Hawk went after the rest of the Nihilators. The Nihilators went down, but the Rhino was barely scratched. On the Left Rockbottom flamed down the Agonizer that had been giving his Jacks fits, and his Jacks ganged up on the Gladiator, who was beat up but still kicking.

Morghoul himself killed Hawk (ballsy move, but I needed the way clear!) and sprinted up. I did some nonsense first, which I should have saved, beating up the Press Gang with Rhino, killed Grogspar with a Torment. The got Bronzeback buffed up and got a charge on Shae! Unbelievably, I ran out of time as I rolled the Hit for his initial attack. POW 21 against Shae's ARM 16, I need an 11 on three dice to kill him, I roll it...and get two 1s and a 2. Sigh. A few more seconds to get the second initial attack in and I win.

Instead I'd been rushing around and left the Brute in a bad spot, where he was able to pop him with the Commodore, Slamming him through Morghoul.

Now here fatigue and defeatism set in. Two things...Pow 16 collateral damage, he rolled an 11 against Morghoul's ARM 13, doing 14 points of damage, and somehow my math said that that did enough to kill him. I congratulated him, and we started the post-game chit-chat...and I realized the Morghoul had a Fury left on him! I could have transferred to something (probably Brute) and been fine and dandy! Man, I hate being a newb! Later, eating dinner and talking over the games with Eric (who did very well, by the way), I realized that the damage he did wasn't even enough to kill Morghoul! I could have eaten that flying Brute with a smile and kept on going! There wasn't much he could do to stop the Bronzeback from getting on Shae again, and I would have focused on getting that done first. Oh well...lesson learned! And I really won't complain about the game at all. The Pirate game was definitely my favorite of the day, as it looked great, he was a lot of fun to play against, and the army is one of my favorites!

So overall my first WM/H tournament honestly left me feeling a bit disappointed. Two of four games I felt like I was going to win when time was called. I really felt like the Accelerated Time Limits were unnecessary and really detracted from the experience for me. I can understand if they wanted to get things done early (I think we finished before 6pm), but in every game there was a ton of time spent waiting for everyone to deploy before the clock started. Limit the deployment time and go back to normal time limits, and I think the event would have been a lot more positive for me.

Other than the time limits, it was a blast to get down to Brothers Grim again after a long time away, and I'm really glad they ran this Steamroller event. I will definitely go again, Accelerated Time Limits or not!

The Prize Support was really excellent, with extra prizes coming from to include a $25 gift certificate to the player that did not end in the top 3 but killed the most number of points...that went to my friend Eric with his eHaley Cygnar force.

The TO did a great job keeping things moving, and pointing out where to find the answers to the questions I had (primarily about tie-breaking). Dr. Norbert put on a good Tourney, and if I seem critical of the Accelerated Time Limits, there's literally nothing else even remotely negative I could say about the gig.

As for my game play, I felt like I played mediocre. The first two games I did really solid, the third I did OK, though I lost focus on the objective and didn't make good use of Kovaas. The last game I felt I played one of my best games ever, and while I hate to blame dice, I had more than my share of bad rolls in there.

My lists did exactly what I expected of them. I have one minor quibble with them and that's a lack of any ranged ability whatsoever. I'm really considering replacing the Brute with a Shaman in both lists, and possibly the Karax and Swamp Gobbers in the Zaal list with min Venators and UA. In fact, I'm going to order them tonight!

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