Articles by SmithF 103

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

The latest issue of the 9th Scroll is available! You can read all about it in the news.

  • Greetings once more, dear reader!

    I promised a proper ending for the Ocho series, so I guess that even a very late article will do! When I last updated this blog we were in the process of fighting an against-the-odds battle versus none other than the Danish team, boasting a roster of ETC veterans and tournament winners. As mentioned before, the team went into the “get creative” mode, an approach that could also be translated into “anything can happen”. And happen it did: right after I finished my game, we sat on a 51-49 score with three games remaining.

    Our Dread Elves (chariot-star list) faced a double Duke KoE army and won 13-7 in a bloody game that saw the elves bounce off armour everywhere, but still manage to give as good as they got, on top of scoring the objective. We were ahead: Undying Dynasties then faced an aggressive flying Vampire Covenant army, and proceeded to kill vampire after vampire in a mix of shooting, magic, and exploding caskets. We learned that a charging Colossus is more than a match for 40 Ghouls and that if you throw enough s3 arrows at a Shrieking Horror it will eventually curl up and die (again). A 16-4 win brought us at the 80-point mark, with a single game to go. No way we’d get beaten now, so our Saurian Ancients player could play without any pressure, knowing he’d have to fight Wilhelm of RT and ETC fame. SA clashed with Warriors of the Dark Gods, in a game that was too weird to watch and could have gone wrong numerous times. Only it didn’t: @bolard stuck to his guns and managed an impressive 18-2 win, bringing the round to an unbelievable 98-62 win!

    So when the smoke cleared we had won two rounds convincingly, suffered a near-cap defeat at the hands of the French, and fought three draw-ish rounds. As is the case in team tournaments, consistency is key: the 500 points we were able to score were just enough to push us past teams such as England, Canada and Australia for a final 8th place out of 30!

    The undisputed champions of the Ocho were the Swiss, last year’s Bronze medalists: they bested the Spanish, the French, the English and then capped our host, team USA, to get the first place. The only ones that were able to keep the well-oiled swiss clock in control were their Italian neighbors, who came second after having to fight behemoths such as Russia, Switzerland and Germany; it turns out pizza and pasta IS the breakfast of champions! Well done lads! The podium was completed by team Russia, to nobody’s surprise; Russians know their T9A, and are always top3 contenders. One can only hope to achieve their level of consistency, one day…

    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the performance of our hosts, the amiable Team USA: they not only opened their Discord server to the international community and made the international UB tournaments a reality, but spent a great deal of time on the top tables, only to be toppled down in the end by the Swiss. Their final placing was 5th, commendable although I can understand their disappointment for not bringing the trophy home. A huge thanks to them, and to the tournament organizer, @Sergrum for making this 200+ player, 6-week event a success! Alex runs a Youtube channel where he discusses tactics and muses on about Warriors of the Dark Gods, Tactics and chicken wings. I’d listen to him if I were you, because not only is he a very competent general, but his Discord/Messenger contact list is littered with past and present tournament winners; if you consistently win tournaments and there’s a nugget of T9A wisdom in your head, chances are that Sergrum has managed to squeeze it out of you in after-midnight talks. So when he rambles on while munching on fried bird extremities, you should listen.

    To get back to Team Belgium, we were very happy with the final result: we entered the event with several off-the-wall lists, and still managed to finish in a respectable position. That’s a testament to the hard work that my fellow team members have put into the preparation for this year’s (cancelled) ETC, and a bright beacon for the years to come. So kudos to them, and a particular shout-out to @Arthur for his impressive 92/120 points that put him just shy of the top10 scorer list for the tournament.

    But what about the Beasts? I’d say that for an “outdated book” they did quite well: team tournament considerations notwithstanding , the Beast Herds were only barely knocked off the top position for average score! With 6 players representing them , and zero “Spanish lists” to be found, I take this as a positive sign for the beasts as a whole: perhaps more generals can be persuaded to take a walk on the wild side.

    Regarding the SmithF beasts in particular… that’s a more complex question: the list did well overall, ending up with 85 points. But it did nothing to help the pairings for our team, meaning that it was difficult to try and get into a good game: So the positive thing is possibly that the beasts held their own in what I considered… [Read More]
  • What can one say for the Danish? When it comes to the international wargaming scene, they are up there with the Polish, Italians and the Spanish: they’ve been around since the beginning of the international team tournaments in the legacy game, they are one of a handful teams to have won the coveted ETC gold, and they count among their ranks many wargaming veterans. In recent years we’ve had the pleasure of facing them twice, the last time in 2018 in a very tight round that saw the Belgian team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat: that year that victory earned us the 4th spot, and allowed us to jump ahead of the Danish. But the Top 5 is where the Danes naturally reside, as they’ve proven time and time again.

    So if anyone was looking forward to an easy round for the closing of the tournament, he’d be very disappointed! Their lists were all very well built, with a clear monster-mash orientation that made us a bit nervous. It was no surprise that our pairing matrix ended up looking like a sunset: loads of oranges and reds everywhere. After the pairing process was done, we ended up with a projected score that was close to the 60-point cap; that wouldn’t do, clearly. We’ve faced this problem before in team tournaments: that’s where our captain says “get creative”. By that he means trying to win games that you would normally be struggling to not lose by much. I have to say that I enjoy this mode, because it’s very close to my usual approach; I’d never go into a game trying to not lose, but rather consider the enemy army as a puzzle or challenge that I have to overcome. For this round my puzzle would be Jens’ @Myggen88 Sylvan Elves.

    Myggen88 wrote:

    So that’s practically one bow short of the maximum amount of bows one can field in a Sylvan Elf army, accompanied by a couple of Treefathers, some scorers and Druidism magic to keep these archers operational for as long as possible.
    The army is also deceptively hard to crack for Beasts, because despite their squishy nature the elite archers have fangs: every skirmishing unit can pump out around 15 high-quality attacks that almost hit automatically, which is kind of the perfect counter for my MSU elements.

    So I’d have to (you guessed it) get creative. First order of business was to stack the odds in my favor for the one thing that I could control: the secondary objective. That was Secure Target for this round, and this meant that at least I’d get to decide in part where the action would happen. This is really welcome when fighting against such a maneuverable enemy that has no intention of engaging unless it’s on their own terms. Our deployment would be Counterthrust, which again helped by ensuring that I’d know the positioning of the enemy scorers prior to deploying mine. I won the roll for sides and picked the side with the hill: while it had less cover, it also meant that my opponent wouldn’t be able to dance around the hill, denying me crucial charges on the turn that I finally got close enough to his squishy elves. I also placed my objective marker to the top left, thus forcing the SE to commit at least some forces into that corner, and thus allowing some of my units to take advantage of the cover of the impassable.

    For magic we both chose Master of Earth, Stoneskin and Summer Growth, with the only difference being that I opted for Healing Waters for my last spell whereas my opponent picked Entwining Roots.

    When fighting Sylvans with such ranged potential and 360 degree movement, it is important to somehow control the flow of the battle. In my case, that would happen by targeting the elements that were least maneuverable, namely the Dryads and the Treefathers. After exchanging the mandatory three deployments (for my opponent these proved to be the two treefathers and a unit of Sylvan Archers, my adversary dropped all that remained to get a chance at that opening volley, Dark Rain or not. That was a justified decision, because the alternative would be starting the game with the beasts too close to the SE lines for the elves’ comfort.

    I countered with a deployment that covered the entire zone, both to protect against scouts, but also to force the SE to spread out as well or risk a mid-game enveloping maneuver. This time the Minotaurs decided to forego their usual conga formation… [Read More]
  • Every team in sports has a “rivalry” with someone, for reasons usually nobody understands: Bulls vs Pistons, Manchester United vs Liverpool, Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Red Sox vs Yankees (I admit that I googled that). It turns out the Belgians also have this, with no other than our neighbors: yes, we and the friendly Dutch have had many a fight in T9A and before that, quite often with a pint of good old beer (and not the piss that is Heineken). I remember when I got recruited in the team back in 2016, and asked what our goals were for the year, our then-captain said without hesitating: “we need to beat the Dutch”.

    Now, reader, don’t criticize us just yet: it’s not that we dislike our border friends, nor that we are threatened by their abnormal height or the fact that they combine savory pancakes with syrup. Nor that they call it Stroop instead of syrup, like a normal person would. It’s just good to have something of a healthy competition. Back in the Warhammer days, the Dutch would come across the border and “healthy competition” the poor Belgian scene, steal their pride and their prizes along with it. Long before I even stepped my foot in the land of chocolate, compromise and overall political indifference (who else could go on without a government for 2 years??), Belgian wargamers devised a plan called “soft scores” to keep the Dutch away. Then the Dutch went ahead and became some of the best painters in Europe, just to spite their neighbors. I could go on, but it should be clear to you by now that we’re in the right and they are in the wrong and that we should win for reasons.

    Or at least that’s how my then captain explained it to me. So when we got paired against the Dutch for our game 5, it suddenly became clear that our objective for the tournament had changed: we just couldn’t lose against the Dutch.

    My opponent, Niek, @Wurzaq was an embodiment of all the virtues that spite the Belgians: super-nice and fun to play against, was Dutch and probably drank Heineken and mispronounced the word “syrup”. That’s all I needed to know, and reason enough to do battle with imaginary toy soldiers!
    It was a good thing that the objective for the round was King of the Hill, but a bit worse that my enemy was bringing more speed, better armour and better fighting characters than me!

    Wurzaq wrote:

    685 - Duke, General, Hippogriff, Shield, Bastard Sword (Blessed Inscriptions), Crusader's
    Salvation, Dragonfire Gem, Renown, Questing Oath and Bastard Sword
    425 - Duke, Barded Warhorse, Shield (Fortress of Faith), Lance (Supernatural Dexterity), Might
    385 - Damsel, Barded Warhorse, Wizard Master, Shamanism
    255 - Paladin, Barded Warhorse, Shield, Battle Standard Bearer, Lance, Grail Oath
    675 - 15 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer (Banner of the Last Charge)
    369 - 8 Knights of the Realm, Champion
    225 - 5 Knights Aspirant
    225 - 5 Knights Aspirant
    565 - 7 Knights of the Grail, Champion
    560 - 12 Knights of the Quest
    125 - 5 Yeoman Outriders, Bow

    So reading the list I noticed something that gave me a glimmer of hope: my adversary had skimped on the command model options, so as to get more models in his list! While I’m not the one to talk about ignoring command models, it is slightly riskier for a big lance of knights with a huge footprint, compared to a small minotaur conga. So going back to my Sylvan Elf roots, I decided that the way to win this was by taking advantage of the superior maneuverability of my army, or at least part of it: all of the centaurs would begin the game sober, giving me three vanguarding units that could be either used as late-game redirectors or simply threaten the knight busses with flank charges and the such.

    I also resolved to make King of the Hill harder for my the knights by splitting the terrain pieces diagonally. With fewer units than me and with no possibility for sneaky swift reforms, I was confident that at the very least I could keep the knights away from my terrain piece or land a foot into theirs.

    For spells, the Damsel got Awaken the Beast, Swarm of Insects, Totemic Summon and Break the Spirit, while the Soothsayer went with Healing Waters, Entwining Roots, Summer Regrowth and Stoneskin.

    We alternated deployments (it was Frontline Clash) all the way till the end, with me keeping my big blocks for until after the KoE had dropped their entire force. My opponent went for the side with the hill, and used his lances to make sure that I wouldn’t be able to infiltrate my vanguarding centaurs past his arc of sight if I got first turn. This left him with a weighed left flank, with only a single unit of aspirants threatening to move past my forces and cheekily score the objective. To counter this, I placed my GW centaurs on the right hand side of the board: they’d have to first deal with the aspirants, then move back towards the center where the action would happen. The rest of my army went across from the knights,… [Read More]
  • So moving past the halftime of the Ocho, we’d face Guardia Varega, a Spanish team comprised of seasoned tournament players. My opponent for the round would be Gonzalo @gundizalbo , of former Balance Team glory, and of ETC Australia fame. His build of Saurian Ancients seems to have defined the SA meta Down Under, and he’s had a great run with it in the past years’ ETCs.

    To me, this was a very nostalgic kind of list, taking me back to the first games of 5th edition when all I had was a bunch of skinks with bows, a big block of monopose Saurus Warriors and my precious Slann mage-priest carried to battle inside a huge Temple Guard unit. Only difference is that back then my Temple guard used to be called in jest “Proxy Guard” (because what student had enough $$ to buy a full pewter unit using blisters of 2 figurines!), and they tended to ran away from Fear-causing skeletons. Ah, the joys of mid-hammer!

    gundizalbo wrote:

    So taking a closer look, the list has a very impressive magic phase, with loads of spells that are easily cast on 2-dice with a +2 to cast bonus. It also has some ranged support as well as the dreaded Ramphodons to hunt my squishy centaurs. Nevertheless, I had this down as a good game, possibly because of the Breakthrough Scenario: the odds of Beast Herds losing Breakthrough are low, unless you really mess things up. So first order of business was to make sure I wouldn’t mess up that badly!

    Our deployment was Refused Flank. I had the choice of the side, and decided to deny the hill to the saurus blocks: they’d be hard to shift from there. Gonzalo seized the initiative and went for a drop for the first turn. That in turn meant that I could counterdeploy and the first thing to do was make sure that the Ramphodons couldn’t fly behind my lines.

    We ended up with weighed flanks for me, my big blocks facing each a unit of ramphodons and a unit of Caimans. In the center, I kept as many chaff-like units, to try and block the saurian infantry from pushing outwards and crushing my big blocks while the Ramphodons and Caimans kept them occupied. The Lance centaurs were drunk, and the big unit sober.

    For magic, the Skink Priest picked Awaken the Beast and Insect Swarm, while the Quatl went with Fireball, Healing Waters, Quickilver Lash, Spectral Blades, Know thy Enemy and Spark of Life. My soothsayer opted for Healing Waters, Master of Earth, Stoneskin and Summer Growth.The gargoyles found a cozy place 18” away from all enemies behind their lines and scouted there. The Ramphodons unsurprisingly marked my big centaurs and the wildhorns. The Chameleons scouted inside the forest opposite my wildhorns, and the battle horns were sounded!

    TURN 1 – Saurian Ancients

    First turn movement was cautious from the SA: the ramphodons found a spot out of the wildhorn’s arc of sight to the right, while the chameleons and spearbacks moved up to pepper the centaurs with arrows. In the middle the Warriors and Temple Guard both moved up, while the ramphodons to the left backed away from my centaurs.

    In magic I witnessed first-hand the effectiveness of the SA magic phase, even on the card “1”. Swarm of Insects and Spark of creation both went off, putting two wounds to my minotaurs to the left and killing a feral hound respectively. Shooting was greatly hampered by the Dark Rain, still a Centaur died to poisoned blowpipe shots to the right, and two feral hounds died to the skink chief’s magical bow: they passed their leadership with the general’s help.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    The fact that my feral hounds were still alive enabled me to make a push for the flanks: the left centaurs spotted the Ramphodons 19” away and declared that long charge, making it in. The rightmost centaurs fell upon the chameleons, since the Saurians had truly trapped them: I figured that taking the 160 points of the chameleons would be a fair trade!

    Gaining momentum from the successful centaur charge to the left, the Centaurs + BSB were now able to push forward aggressively, past the Saurian Warriors’ arc of sight and in front of the Caimans, hoping to collapse that flank on the following turn. The Feral Hounds jumped in front of the Temple Guard to keep them occupied while the wildhorns and gargoyles both… [Read More]
  • So after the sound beating we took by the French, we were going up against team Ukraine. These guys have been around for quite some time, and they’ve made their presence felt both at the ETC (6th last year) and in other international events. Our team strategy against them revolved around getting as many good matches as possible, which meant that yours truly had to be thrown under the bus a bit: this usually happens when one player’s estimation matrix is not good enough to guarantee a favorable matchup, and means that he’s instead used to draw a bad game away from the teammates.

    Team Ukraine’s lists were a mix of very defensive lists capable of point denial, with a couple of very aggressive armies tacked on. I’d be facing one of the latter, the Sylvan Elves of Artem @Artem Kurhanskii.

    I was intrigued by this army, because it combined elements that I am a big fan of (namely the bladedancers and the kestrels backed up by Shamanism and Cosmology) with some lesser used entries such as the Shapeshifters, as well as the Sacred Seeds/Mist Walker combo. I had rated this as a bad matchup, but was relatively optimistic about my chances of picking up the objective for the round, which was hold the ground.

    How does one deal with such an aggressive vanguard army? I thought about this a bit prior to the game, and I decided that stealing the initiative against a vanguarding army that moves 2-3” more than me and strikes first across the board was not possible. So instead my path to victory would have to come from forcing combats that would be favorable to me in the long run, or by baiting the enemy into losing positions.

    I got to pick sides, and opted for the one with the hill. My opponent then dropped his entire army for the first turn, which allowed me to counterdeploy and close off any passage to my backline for the kestrels and the vanguarding shapeshifters. I expected the SE to rush me so as to prevent the wildhorns from getting to the central objective, but there was no way around that, just hoping that my countermeasures worked.

    (deployment picture was forgotten, so here's a mockup based on the first turn pic - Spoilers!)

    For magic, I picked Healing Waters, Master of Earth, Stoneskin and Summer Growth, while my opponent opted for Ice and Fire/Perception of Strength and Beast Awakens/ Totemic Summon/ Break the spirit and the SE hereditary spell.

    TURN 1 – SE

    Artem wasted no time messing around: the Shapeshifter chieftain moved up in front of my Wildhorns, plonked the Sacred Seed forest down, and the Dancer unit teleported right in front of my general! The Shapeshifter prince moved up to block my rightmost minotaurs from aiding in that fight, while both kestrels used their 30” move to relocate to the center of the board and threaten big parts of my army. The heath hunters formed a conga that blocked half my left side in place, and the scorers just kept up, staying out of charge range for the time being. With the Dark Rain up, shooting only killed a single centaur, while magic managed to boost the teleporting Dancers with +1 Strength.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    To say that I had the SE where I wanted them would be a stretch, but I was relatively happy with the position in the board: the dancers had used their mirror, and two key SE characters were exposed. So I went ahead with my pre-formulated plan: the minotaurs charged into the Shapeshifter Prince to pin him down, their counterparts on the other side charged the Heath Hunter chaff, and the Beastlord on foot charged solo into the Bladedancer unit: if the dancers have one weakness, it’s dealing with cowboys. I aligned him opposite the BSB, knowing that I’d get a champion for the first round of combat but that I’d get the BSB on the following one. Finally, the Gargoyles spotted the kestrel flank 19” away and went for it, sadly failing: completing that charge would make my life much easier by pinning the birds down for a turn, enough time for the Beastlord in chariot to wheel around and charge them.

    So with the charges all done, I had to deal with the elephant in the room: two kestrel… [Read More]
  • On the second round of the tournament we came across the Relentless Company. This name might not ring any bells to you, but it’s an alias for the Enfants du Sud team, of French ETC glory. We’ve faced Benji and his mates multiple times in international tournaments, they are always contenders for the podium and offer us great and challenging rounds of T9A. Now they have expanded their project to encompass the whole of France instead of just the southern parts, and they are the favorites in the race for the 2021 French team nomination.

    The Beasts had some good matchups and some bad matchups, but we decided as an overall strategy to not protect them, in order to get good games elsewhere. So I ended up fighting @damsetoi and his Daemon Legions:

    damsetoi wrote:

    950 - Vanadra's Scourge, Wizard (Wizard Adept, evocation), Living Shield, centiped legs, Brimstone Secretions, Whipcrack Tail
    850 - Omen 490, général 40, WM 225 taumaturgy, brimestone sécrétion 25, bronze backbone 30, hammer hand 40
    295 - 10 Succubi, Smothering Coils, Champion
    295 - 10 Succubi, Smothering Coils, Champion
    295 - 10 Succubi, Smothering Coils, Champion
    270 - 10 lemures, unatural roots, Banner, musician
    300 - Blazing Glory, Cloven Hooves
    300 - Blazing Glory, Cloven Hooves
    200 - 5 Sirens, Centipede Legs
    195 - 5 Sirens
    175 - 2 Mageblight Gremlins
    375 - 3 Veil Serpents, Champion

    So essentially a list that can be broken up in three separate parts: the single models (fast, hard hitting, can take my units or characters one-on-one), the fast support (chaff but also capable of hurting my smaller units with their higher agility) and then the scoring core. I find facing such an army interesting, because on paper nothing’s in the beasts’ favor, yet there is almost always a way to get the upper hand, if you play your cards right.

    The secondary objective here would be Capture the Flags, and our deployment was Counterthrust. The Soothsayer picked Healing Waters, Master of Earth, Summer Growth and Stoneskin, and the Daemons ended up with Spectral Blades/Whispers of the Veil on the Scourge, Hand of Heaven, Smite the Unbeliever, Cleansing Fire and Wrath of God for the Omen, while the Veil Serpents picked Deceptive Glamour and Twisted Effigy.

    Keeping my scorers safe against the daemons would be a challenge, and for that reason I opted for mobility over hitting power for the centaurs: they all would start the game sober, hopefully helping out in controlling the single models of the daemons.

    We exchanged the typical three drops of Counterthrust, then my opponent dropped his entire army to get the first turn. I was happy that he did so, as counterdeploying was essential to my plan. The daemonic positioning gave me two options: either go for the scorers head-on, and give the Scourge and Blazing Glories the room to maneuver and come crushing into my flank, or focus on the single monsters while keeping the scoring occupied.

    I opted for the latter, and ended up with a refused flank deployment, with the chariot Beastlord and a single Centaur unit occupying the weak flank. The abundance of terrain on the table meant that I could keep my Soothsayer in the middle, away from the action, and still be able to cast spells. I couldn’t risk having Mageblight Gremlins in my backfield right at the moment when I’d be initiating my attack.

    TURN 1 – Daemon Legions

    My opponent found a position out of the chariots’ arc of sight to land the Scourge, and went for an aggressive position from which he could see most of my army. The Blazing Glories stayed on either side of the building, to keep the centaurs from outflanking the daemons. The rest of the DL army maneuvered cautiously, the Omen relocating towards the right side of the board, to threaten my Beastlord.

    The first magic phase was a preview of what the full force of the DL magic can do; I had to dispel the boosted Hand of heaven on my centaurs, unwilling to give up a scoring unit that early in the game. This allowed the Omen to cast Wrath of God in the middle of my units, and also to put a boosted Twisted Effigy on my Soothsayer.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    Starting turn 1 with a comet about to drop and a Scourge about to charge is bad news, but I figured I needed to stick to the plan: Both centaur units on the left pushed forward, away from the comet and in a position to threaten the Blazing Glories. The Wildhorns and minotaurs maneuvered to create a trap for the Scourge, and the dogs stepped in front of him to lower his threat range by 1”. I then split my Soothsayer from his unit, and used the chariots and Gargoyles to create a Gremlin-free zone around him. On the right hand side, the Beastlord moved up towards the scorers all alone, and the centaurs moved back to avoid any more magic missiles coming their way.

    In magic I only managed to cast the Oaken Throne, the rest of my spells failing or getting dispelled. The comet… [Read More]
  • Greetings, one and all.

    I hope that reading this finds you in good health and good spirits, the better to enjoy the exciting tale of the Beast Herd at 2020’s biggest international team tournament. Now, normally, this would have meant the ETC, but since this won’t be happening our good friends from across the pond stepped in and pulled the gaming community together. So instead of ETC 2020 this year we have The Ocho 2020, sponsored and ran by Team USA. As it says on the tin, this is a team tournament for teams of 8 players, and will run until roughly the end of July for a total of 6 rounds of competitive T9A played on UB.

    Team Belgium couldn’t miss such an event, so we answered the call. Now, reader, if you are looking for a guide on how to win at an event like that, you’ll have to keep on looking: our initial approach here was “pretend this is the ETC and bring your most competitive list”, but somehow this meant bringing Undying Dynasties when the whole world knows that they are literally dead and not just resting. Also it meant that people actually came to me for list advice, which may explain why our Vampire Covenant player ended up with 16 spells and our Sylvan Elves with more flying models than elves with bows. To round this selection up, we included all kinds of elves, Saurians without a Quatl, and – of course- everyone’s favorite underdog, the Beast Herds. Oh, and Kingdom of Equitaine because we didn’t get the memo that armour was so 2017.

    So if you want to actually win one of these, here’s my advice: don’t take my advice, and also at least remember to bring Daemon Legions, Warriors of the Dark Gods, Vermin Swarm, and Infernal Dwarves, especially at the specific timepoint where successful list building for the infernal stunties relies on closing your eyes and picking any random amount of unit entries, provided it has a shooting weapon or a name that starts with Bast and ends with Ion.

    But what good is winning if you cannot win in style, I ask you. Which brings me to the list I submitted for the event :

    To the uninitiated it might seem like a random smattering of units, but these have been actually tried and tested over the past 8 months, and they have surprised me pleasantly time and time again. The big problem however is that you cannot actually predict in what way they will surprise you each game, just that they will. So you can imagine the nightmare that is doing pre-game estimations when on paper all of your units die before they get to strike the enemy. Needless to say, there was a whole lot of purple in my estimation matrix (purple being the colour attributed to open matchups or -simply put- “I don’t know how this will pan out”) .

    For the first round we’d get to face the “Old Team”, a Spanish team made up from experienced tournament players some of which are often contenders for the ETC qualifiers. I would get to play their captain, Álex @Portador de Tormento with his Vermin Swarm army:

    Portador de Tormento wrote:

    850 - Vermin Daemon, General
    310 - Sicarra Assassin, Titanic Might, Throwing Weapons
    230 - 2x1 Rakachit Machinist, Ratlock Pistols, Binding Scroll
    180 - Chief, Battle Standard (Aether Icon, Aether Icon), Light Armour, Ratlock Pistols
    543 - 33 Vermin Guard, Standard Bearer (Lightning Rod), Musician, Champion
    205 - 20 Plague Brotherhood
    150 - 10 Footpads, Vanguard
    120 - 2x10 Footpads
    150 - 5 Gutter Blades, Throwing Weapons, Scout and Ambush
    340 - 2x1 Dreadmill
    200 - 2x1 Verminous Artillery, Plague Catapult
    330 - Abomination

    So a lot of the usual suspects were there: Vermin Daemon, double Dreadmill, footpad core, Plague Catapults, but then he put his own special touch with an Abomination and a big Vermin Guard unit: The latter had me worried, since the machinists on their own are often enough to deal devastating amounts of damage to naked beasts. Add to that the Assassin with his S7 Ap4 attacks and multiwounds against my… [Read More]
  • So, Social Distancing was a great team event. It doesn’t compare to “real life” events because you lack the rush that comes from winning or losing for the team, as well as the quick succession of events: this was more of a slow burn, with a single round per week and games spread out. However, that had its upsides, too. You can actually see your teammates play the game, which offers an opportunity for improvement as you get critique post game from people who watched the entire battle as opposed to just a recount of events. Knowing the matchups and scenario/map beforehand meant that a decent amount of theorizing went on, which adds to the depth of the game: you cannot rely on surprising your opponent as much, and you expect him to have a coherent battle plan by the time you actually get to play the game.

    Curiously enough, the social aspect was present in this event: through interactions via Discord I actually got to discuss more with the other teams than I would have during a 2-day event. Team USA and the TO @Sergrum have achieved something spectacular with this initiative, which is bringing T9A enthusiasts together to talk about the game and get to know each other in these weird times we live in.

    So who won? Our team certainly didn’t, we ended up near the bottom (28/34) of the board after suffering yet another loss in the final round. But Belgium did win: the team Beer, Cheese and Surf, comprised of 3 Team Belgium current or former members and an Australian (now honorary Belgian, too!) beat all that stood before them and claimed the first place. Right behind them were the Germans and the Spanish, completing the podium in a multi-national way.

    This field was one of the toughest I’ve ever faced, rivaling the ETC. So congrats are in order for all of the top finishers, for they truly showed they are the best in this game we so like to play! While our final placing isn’t what we had expected going in, we got 6 great rounds, meeting people from all over the world in the process. Shout out to my 7 opponents, they were all very fun to play with and very competent generals as well: Paul, Dave, Anton, Pablo, Justin, Mike and Marek, thanks a lot for making this quarantine easier to bear!

    Before the list review, I’ll do a team review: we took a gamble going into the tournament, and that was to bring lists that we hadn’t had experience with. What we learned was that

    1. Undying Dynasties cannot pull off the same plays as last year: large units with big footprints get swarmed by superior opposition and crumble away before the -lacking- magic phase can even begin to raise them and boost them. Another approach is needed in list building, and -after watching some UD games- I’d also point out that a book rewrite cannot come fast enough.
    2. Tree spirit lists are good if they match the player’s demeanor. Our SE player has played so many games with the elven part of the army book, he’s gotten used to striking first and charging into combat instead of getting charged. I admit that I’d find playing a Tree Spirit list quite boring, and lacking in flair: not unlike a Dwarven Holds vanguard list, the trees lack the potential for late game counterplay if things do not go their way.
    3. MSU Vampires. They either work beautifully, or they don’t. Having played a game with the list as a stand-in, I felt that one could accomplish the same thing with KoE, only better and without the risk of your army crumbling.
    Overall we lacked the go-to armies for a 4-player event. These proved to be Daemonic Legion, Vermin Swarm, Highborn Elves and Warriors of the Dark Gods (the latter tied in 4th position with Vampire Covenant). This doesn’t come as a surprise, as these armies are highly reliable in terms of Leadership (yes, even Vermin!), with a good amount of Fearless troops, good fighting power/magic/speed, and able to play any scenario.

    "But what about the Beasts?", I hear you say. If I had to sum it up, I’d say that the list exceeded expectations given the opposition. What I mean by this is that I brought a list based on infantry, vulnerable to psychology (way more than any of my previous lists) and with a good amount of points invested in discipline-based tricks (Aura of Madness, Hereditary, Whispers of the Veil, Terror). The opposition was in the vast majority comprised of armies immune to most of these effects. Where the opponents had good magic, high-performance shooting and overall a skewed/extreme list building approach, the March of the Jabberwocks army brought a minimal-investment magic phase, low-armour (and low-agility) infantry and very few traditional hard hitters.

    Some of the entries I tried surprised me in a positive way, while others portrayed the shortcomings of such a take in BH listbuilding. But as a whole, the army always gave me ways to approach the game with the goal of winning. Full-combat beasts are not the army that will play for a draw or a… [Read More]
  • So for the last game of the tournament we got to play Team K. , which brought together players from Poland and the Czech Republic. They had brought Barbarian-heavy Warriors of the Dark Gods, MSU DH, MSU KoE and Mercenary-heavy Ogre Khans. My opponent would be Marek, a UB regular and ETC player for the Czech Republic. We’ve played games before, and they are always challenging and fun. He had brought a list that I found interesting and with a lot of potential:

    Marek wrote:

    660 - Duke, Pegasus, Shield (Fortress of Faith), Lance, Bastard Sword, Crusader's Salvation, Obsidian Rock, Might, Questing Oath and Bastard Sword
    545 - Damsel, Equitan Unicorn, Wizard Master, Shamanism, Magical Heirloom, Talisman of the Void
    315 - Paladin, Barded Warhorse, Shield, Battle Standard Bearer (Aether Icon), Lance, Daring, Grail Oath
    275 - 6 Knights of the Realm, Standard Bearer
    275 - 6 Knights of the Realm, Standard Bearer
    245 - 5 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer
    245 - 5 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer
    245 - 5 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer
    245 - 5 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer
    825 - 9 Knights of the Grail, Standard Bearer (Banner of Speed), Musician, Champion
    135 - 5 Yeoman Outriders, Shield, Light Armour, Throwing Weapons
    135 - 5 Yeoman Outriders, Shield, Light Armour, Throwing Weapons
    354 - 3 Pegasus Knights, Loose Formation, Champion

    So a full MSU KoE list supported by a Pegasus Duke and a solid unit of Grail knights. Looking at the list, the first thing I noticed was the lack of musicians on the small knight units: while this is understandable as it would cost a lot of points just to put musicians on these, I figured I’d be able to exploit it to force favorable combats and take the small units apart using my ambushers and fliers.

    The main threat in the list was of course the Questing Pegasus lord that could effectively zone my Jabberwocks and could potentially killany of my characters if in a combined charge with the grails or the Pegasus knights. We would get to play Secure Target and Counterthrust, meaning that our armies would be even closer together.

    I expected the cavalry to be upon me by turn 2, so I decided that I’d have to use the objectives to split the knights’ forces, hopefully isolating scoring units with low discipline from the main leadership bubble; that would allow my jabberwocks to overwhelm them, leaving my ambushers free to claim the objective. My opponent won the roll of sides, and picked the side with a sizeable hill inside the deployment zone. It was clear that the Pegasus block or the Grail unit would sit atop this and threaten long charges on my units, so instead of dropping for the first turn (which I wasn’t that keen on having, anyway) I opted for alternate drops.

    We had this back-and-forth for a while, and in the end we ended up with a heavily weighed left flank for the KoE, against a powerful center with the “weak side” protected by the building. The Jabberwocks were both near the impassable terrain pieces, hoping to exploit any blind spots and put the pressure on the knights’ advance early on. I won the roll for the turn and opted to play second: this might seem odd, but the unit placement meant that I’d have to use my chaff early on if I wanted to push, while the KoE would get to keep theirs for later during the game. By giving my opponent the first turn I’d force him to use his redirectors, while also retaining the possibility for late-game objective claiming. (picture taken after my opponent's deployment, expertly edited to give you an idea of how the KoE deployed: the Realm Knights were actually more to the side, see red cross next to impassable)

    In magic, I went for the usual: Echoes of the Dark Forest, Spectral Blades, Whispers of the Veil. Th Shamanism Damsel picked Breath of the Lady, Awaken the Beast, Swarm of Insects, Totemic Summon and Break the Spirit.

    TURN 1 – Kingdom of Equitaine

    The Grail Knights opened the game by trying the double 6 charge into my feral hounds, with an overrun into the Longhorns (and barely out of the Wildhorns’ arc). Although casualties would have been tremendous, I figured the risk was relatively low. The Grails failed and moved upon the hill with their failed charge move. The Yeomen advanced, blocking my Feral Hounds (and Longhorns right behind). The rest of the movement was overall a cautious advance up the left flank, with a notable yeoman/aspirant alignment that prevented my Jabberwock from charging the knights.

    In the magic phase I let the Swarm of Insects through on the Razorgors, losing a model. The Totemic Summon was then dispelled. Two Feral hounds died to yeomen throwing weapons, but they held their ground.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    With part of my battleline blocked, I decided that stalling in the middle and left flank was not a bad idea. The weak part of the enemy formation was the right flank (only a single unit of Aspirants) and the… [Read More]
  • After 3 consecutive team losses, we still wouldn’t get to face a “weak” team, but we had the pleasure of facing team “Little Giants”.Justin @Kaedo and his mates are experienced T9A generals and tournament generals in the mid-Atlantic region (I think?) of the USA. They had lined up a triple-kraken DE army, MSU shooty DH,Wildheart OK and, finally, a skinkstar Saurian Ancients army.

    “How would one define a skinkstar?”, I hear you ask: take your basic skink unit. Give it Hatred. Give it Poison. Then add 4 heroes with assorted equipment and you’ve got a skinkstar. If your next question was “And what does a skinkstar do?” then you’re reading the right blogpost.

    My round 5 opponent would be Justin, of team USA fame,and his highly unusual SA army.

    So the aforementioned skink star was accompanied by a second hard-hitting block, plus all kinds of support units and monsters. This time the deployment would be Frontline Clash and the secondary objective Spoils of War.

    I took some time before the game to read up on the SA rules (I don’t get to fight them often), and to find out exactly what a Skink Captain can do. It turns out that if he’s equipped right, he can be downright scary! After some thinking I came to the conclusion that I could probably take on the SkinkStar in two waves, but there was practically nothing in my army that would appreciate going toe-to-toe with the Saurian Warrior unit. So plan was to scare these sufficiently so that they do not barrel down my lines, while trying to get the satellite units and claim the objective.

    For magic, I picked the Echoes of the Dark Forest, Spectral Blades and Whispers of the Veil. The Skink Priest took Spark of Creation, Healing Waters, Stoneskin and Summer Regrowth, and the Stygiosaur opted for Awaken the Beast and Swarm of Insects. I won the roll for sides, and opted for the side with the hill, appropriately leaving the skinks with the Water feature on their side.

    Justin then dropped his army for the first turn, and went for all 3 tokens using his cavalry units in the flanks, the Saurian Warriors in the middle and theSkink Star, Taurosaur and Stygiosaur ready to support either side.

    This left me free to counter the deployment: I kept my chariots and a Jabberwock on the hill, projecting a decent threat range and giving the Saurian scorers something to think about before the stepped on the objectives on turn 1. After a bit of consideration, I elected to play the Wildhorns and Razortusks to the far right, where they’d get to bully the Stygiosaur and the cavalry in the early game, then hopefully combine charges into the skink star. The left flank would be handled by my second Jabberwock along with the unit of Mongrels. Finally, the Longhorns went across the Saurian Warriors and the Taurosaur; their intention was to look menacing enough so as to dissuade an aggressive move. In reality, they’d have to flee a Saurian Warrior charge if it came to that.

    My Gargoyles scouted right inside the ruins, fully taking advantage of the Taurosaur’s sideways deployment so as to stay safe on turn 1.

    TURN 1 – Saurian Ancients

    The saurian army moved up rather cautiously, close enough to the objective tokes to dissuade me from making the move to grab them, but still long enough so as to not give my units on the hill any good charges.

    In the magic phase the Swarm of Insects went through on the Feral Hounds, killing 3 of them. The Beastlord kept the dogs from panicking, and then I managed to dispel the Spark of Creation against the Raiding Chariots.

    The salamander tried to fry my two remaining hounds, but rolled a “1” and took a wound instead. Two javelins from the skink heroes also missed their mark, leaving the redirectors alive -a very rare occurrence!

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    The turn 1 movement of the saurian had effectively shut down most of my routes for… [Read More]