Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ides reports - how I learned to hate Circle (on principle, and amongst other things)

This post is dedicated to Ides of March TO Dave Stent.
Over the course of the tournament, I developed a growing hatred for certain things: Circle, sugar drinks, Warmachine, Gatormans, Hordes, the game, this blog, myself, Warpwolf Stalkers, 2 units of Shifting Stones in every list, and Lake Road. I was considering stopping Warmachine, rage quitting this blog, moving to Sweden, starting up a ski/hiking business somewhere on the Finnish/Swedish border, and living in perpetual happiness until my inevitable and eventual death. Or I could sell all my Gators (1) and play a good Hordes faction.
Dave not only did a very good job organizing and running the tournament, but also made sure I played against every Circle player present (2). But he also gave me a free mug and a firm handshake during the prize giving ceremonies, which gave me a deep sense of guilt towards the aforementioned plans.  Damn you, Dave. Damn you.

The tournament was a good time. I got to hang out with a lot of really cool gamer types, despite not attending the Thunderdome event on the evening of day one (I'm vegetarian, so one sausage-fest is more than enough for me). I also got to rage and whine about practically everything (one of the highlights of any Warmachine-related activity), and ended up admitting that Retribution is an 'ok' faction (3).

Game 1 - Tony playing Kromac

I choose Rask for this since both lists had a decent amount of heavies. It was the wrong choice. Rask looks a bit like this usually:
Unpredictably violent.

but then Kromac casts Bestial, and Rask suddenly turns into this:
A small teddybear undergoing a colonoscopy.
Tony played well and slowly ground me into the dust, and did more damage to Rask in one game than Rask had taken in his first 12+ games combined (including fury cutting). I did what I could, but being subjected to Bestial (a 3-cost feat) every turn from turn 2 onwards really takes your power level down a notch.
Lesson: Play Barnabas against Circle.

Game 2 - Peter playing Morvahna

Another Circle player (I played Barnabas). Peter tells me he doesn't really have a local gaming group nor play in Vassal, so only gets practice at tournaments. In a game like Warmachine, where knowing is about 1/4 of the battle (see end of post), that is rough.

Either way, it was quite a close game, where I got an assassination with my last activation of the turn. I made some foolish mistakes early in the game which decreased my assassination potential significantly, like killing a lot more Regrowthed Bloodtrackers than I needed to, and not being aggressive enough with my beast placement.
I managed to KD Morvahna with Black Tide and shoot her with a Spitter (which was redirected to a nearby Stone - lesson learned), Trample to her with Snapjaw and hit her once, then throw Megalith at her with a Wrastler, killing her to the box. No transfers where available, since all the beasts were full (unecessarily).

Game 3 - Greg  playing Mohsar

Third Circle player of the day. Ain't life grand?

I played Barnabas again. This was a pretty good game. I made some crucial mistakes during deployment and my first turn that basically led to me being unable to use my Wrastler the whole game as he had to sit in my zone to stop Greg controlling it with some Gallows Groves. Greg played very safe, sitting Mohsar on the edge of his zone safely and putting up 4 salt pillars every round, which coincidentally is really annoying againsts an almost all-melee faction.
In the end, I died to assassination after I failed to kill a Stalker with 6 remaining boxes with a charge from Barnabas and 5 fury (really wanted a free Iron Flesh or Spiny Growth). I did tough 3 times in a row though - Barnabas never dies, unless you also do something dumb and cause yourself to die inside.

I feel my matchup in this was good (other than an unkillable Megalith), but played poorly whereas Greg played well (also a very fun opponent). I feel I could have grinded it out had my dice not completely abandoned me on my Barnabas charge, but then again one should never trust dice. Dirty cheating backstabbing whores, the lot of them.

Game 4 - Dan playing pButcher

Dan was playing a pButcher tier list with 3 jacks and 2 full units of MoW. That list does not like Inhospitable Ground. I killed Butcher turn 3 with a furied Swamp Horror after shooting Butcher with a Paralysis bolt from Rask. Pretty uneventful, but good fun nevertheless. Got to go home afterwards and have an excellent home-cooked meal, which was a highlight of the tournament.

Game 5 - Jason playing eMorghoul

Normally I would play Rask against Skorne, but neither list had any Titans or high ARM to speak of, so I choose Barnabas. Jason chose to play eMorghoul with 2 Archidons, 2 Brutes, Rhadeim and some Paingivers.
The Archidons were jammed in my face under eMorg's feat, which wasn't a big deal until I discovered they were Serpentine and seemingly crit pitch on every single attack they made, hence knocking down most of my Gators on their attacks or free strikes. That was a nice discovery.
Anyway, I threw Barnabas with Spiny Growth (animus-version, not spell-version) and Unyielding close to Morghoul (not the best call) since he was dice -9 on damage. He rolled multiple 13+ dice rolls on damage to kill me. In retrospect this was terrible since I probably could just have grinded for an hour and achieved more. That is after all, how you win with Barnabas.

Jason was my vote for best sports and ended up winning, which was really cool. He is one of my favourite people to play, win or lose.

Game 6 - Matt playing pIrusk

pIrusk, Conquest, Kayazy, Iron Fangs + UA. The other list was eSorscha with Kayazy. I pretty much can't kill Conquest anyway, and Barnabas's feat is the most reasonable Gator answer to Iron Flesh Kayazy (shooting off IF with Rask is possible, but far riskier).

Basically we both ran forward, and I popped my feat first, thus wiping the Kayazy off the table. We then danced for a few more rounds while I fed Iron Flesh Gatormans and heavy warbeasts to the Conquest, managing to win on scenario (2 consecutive zone dominations + objective destruction). If he had popped his feat a turn earlier purely defensively, the vast majority of the Kayazy would have lived and been able to kill most of the Gators (Gang + Battle Lust = dead Gatormans), thereby pretty much costing me the game outside a potential low percentage Rise Gator Missile assassination.
I traded Snapjaw for Gorman de Wulfe. Good trade, I think.

Game 7 - Darryl playing eGoreshade

eGoreshade Bane Thrall spam. We all know how that turns out.
Unfortunately I make it a personal rule to never forfeit, so we played it out and had a good time laughing about Cryx in general. Fun way to spend an hour despite the circumstances. I killed probably around 25 Bane Thralls and half the Kraken, but only got about 10 Kill Points out of the game when we totalled everything. Seems balanced.

In summary


Seems like a pattern. Should have started with a win. Remember that for next time.

I did not achieve my goal of being in the top half of the tournament. This fills me with a curious mix of ambivalence, bitter disappointment and general misanthropy.

Total losses due to my list: 2
  • Rask vs Kromac = playing almost casterless (very very bad for Minions), Barnabas is the right choice vs Circle outside eBaldur ARM lists. He doesn't have to be as far up as Rask.
  • Gators vs eGoreshade Bane Spam = unwinnable matchup.
Total losses due to poor play: 2, both unforced assassinations.
  • Barnabas vs anti-KD eMorg list (should have gone for the grind rather than risk a face tank)
  • Barnabas vs Mohsar (don't risk casters on dice rolls if you don't have to!)
All 3 wins were due to pure skill of course, and not luck.

What makes a good player

I theorize that there are four aspects to being successful in Warmahordes:
  1. List Building
  2. Knowledge
  3. Dice
  4. Actually playing well
These are not equivalently important, naturally. 


List Building

Fact is, there are bad matchups for many casters. Gators cannot beat an eGoreshade Bane Thrall spam backed by a Kraken, for example. Morvahna has a really bad time against upkeep removal, and most Khador lists don't love facing the Harbinger.
You also need answers for certain problems - Inhospitable Ground used to shut down Kreoss2 tier lists completely, until the clearly overpowered Errant UA came out. You need upkeep removal, answers to rough terrain, RFP effects, ideally a way to deal with tough, and so on. Basically, the tools to get the job done. Without the tools, you can't do the job (4).


Knowing what your stuff and what your opponent's stuff does and remembering it is vitally important. Some people are great at remembering this kind of stuff and dedicate a lot of time to it, others aren't so good. I like to think I'm somewhere in the middle, depending on how much alcohol or water I have consumed in the last few hours.
It's also why you tend to win more games if you don't do things like remind your opponents about stealth, counter-charge, free strikes, spell effects, not allowing minor takebacks, etc. - generally being a fair but douchy player and letting things happen when they are called. For people who have been around the game a while though, this kind of play isn't actually looked down upon, as long as it's going on at the higher-rank tables.


Dice are the random element, and keep things interesting. You can't control the outcome of the roll, but you can hedge your bets and create opportunities.

Actually playing well

Playing well is probably the most important part, as it should be in any game worth playing. The point however is that it is not the sole factor. You can and will lose games because Minions are the weakest faction and cannot answer certain matchups. You will lose games because something in your opponent's army has some ability that denies your clever plan. You will get diced. And a large part of good play is minimizing the impact of the other factions.

Casey Hills, who has been playing Gators a good while longer than me and is a much better player, managed to rank 8/34 with 5 wins and 2 loses which shows that you can do very well with Gators if you know what you're doing. But the top tables remain in the firm grasp of factions like Cryx, Protectorate, Skorne and Legion, played by experienced and knowledgeable tournament regulars (5)

Shine on, you crazy butterflies.


(1) Make me an offer! I've been told I paint to an almost-pro tabletop quality! I also package models like a boss!
(2) Such an act of kindness is sure to be rewarded in some cosmic faction - perhaps through universal karma, or perhaps St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

(3) Chris Russel did eventually make me realize that I do not in fact hate elves, and I am probably deeply fond of them in some way or another. Also as far as I can tell, Gators still seem to be a terrible matchup for Ret
(4) PS - Gators are missing a lot of tools. Just a pro tip for potential players (don't do it).
(5) Or the legendary Ian Hart, who plays like 3 games in the preceding 18 months, and then places in the top 6. What the hell.


  1. I dare say if I managed to keep you on the Gator train then... everybody's winning?

    1. They certainly are winning - every time they play me.

      Wouldn't be as fun complaining if I played PoM or Cryx though:
      "But I have to take a 2pt unit to make my 3 Reckoners good! QQ."
      "eGoreshade's Elite Cadre only works on Bane Thralls and not Knights? What a money-grabbing scam, PP"

      Doesn't quite work for some reason......

  2. I would have to say that as a newish Gator player seeing my new found idol lose faith in our Bloody crew is a bit disheartening. Especially after reading your comments and hints on playing them I went from a 3 and 13 league record to a 15 and 3 league losing out only because I couldn't fully paint my army! Your tactics and rhetoric in your blogs are always helpful in me learning to overcome new opposition and crushing the nasty evil Khador friends I have (using the term friends loosely...Khador yuck). Hopefully now we can get back to just slaughtering some jacks with deep water ;)

    1. First of all I must strongly advise against having me as your idol, but thank you for your patronage :)
      Secondly, I am happy to hear you are having more success with the Pact and are motivated to play them.
      As noted, I was especially out of practice tournament-wise and it showed at this tournament, where I lost two games to entirely foolish playing (ie. getting assassinated). I have always been straight-forward about my acknowledgement that Blindwater is gimped in certain matchups, I just happened to come across two of them (one of which list selection on my end, the other was DC's fault).

      I must say that if anything kills my willingness to play Gators this year, it's 2 releases in Gargantuans. Rask by himself is not enough to give good competitive games in a Gargossal meta.