Monday, May 23, 2011

'Ardboyz Semi-Finals - Flaming Skulls for the Win!

     I attended the 2011 Fantasy Ardboyz Semi-Finals on Saturday at Gryphon Games in Ft. Collins, CO.  I had actually never been up to the store before and decided to get an early start, so grabbed a shower and some coffee and hit the road at 0730.
The store is right off of U.S.287 on the east side and pretty much right downtown Ft. Collins.  The proprietors are Sherman and his wife (didn't catch her name unfortunately) who were both really nice people, organized and ready for the tournament.  The store is clean and well stocked with a bit of everything: Games Workshop; CCGs; FoW; Comic Books, etc., etc..  They have a really big room off the back of the store where their miniature tables are.  Overall, a really nice set-up.  Most of the opponents that showed up I had either played against before or at least seen at various other tournaments.

     I had already play-tested the 3 scenarios that were going to be in play, so I built my list accordingly.  The first scenario was using Killpoints ( 5-General, 2-Characters, 2-Core, 4-Special, 8-Rare), something the 40K guys are used to, but Fantasy players never use.  Due to the amount of points that could be handed to your opponent if you built wrong, I constructed a list that I felt would be strong in all three scenarios without giving up a ton of points in the first one.  Only playing three games, you can't really recover if you get curb-stomped in the first game.

      Warriors of Chaos - 3K - The Flaming Skulls

      Sorcerer Lord of Fire  Lvl 4, General                                                       385 Pts
      Fencer's Blades, Charmed Shield, Inf. Puppet
      Necrotic Phy, Potion of Speed, 3rd Eye of Tzeentch

      BSB                                                                                                    194 Pts
      Halberd, Shield, Book of Secrets, Dispel Scroll

      60 Marauders of Khorne                                                                         350 Pts 
      GWs, FC

      20 Chaos Warriors of Khorne  (BSB)                                                       410 Pts
      Halberds, Shields, FC, Banner of Eternal Flame

      29 Chosen of Khorne  ( General here)                                                      686 Pts
      AHW, FC, FotG, Wailing Banner

      6 Knights of Khorne                                                                               360 Pts
      FC, Blasted Standard

      5 Knights of Nurgle                                                                                315 Pts
      FC, Banner of Rage

      Warshrine of Tzeentch                                                                           150 Pts

      Warshrine of Tzeentch                                                                           150 Pts

      Totals:                                                                                                3000 Pts
     19.3% Chars, 10.2% Magic Items, 25.3% Core, 45.4% Special, 10% Rare

     This list was 36 KPs total, which I figured would be about average.  It had 8 Breakpoints in it (Important for the 3rd Scenario) and was a pretty balanced, tough list to play against.  It is also a list that I have played with a great deal and was really familiar with, both the strengths and weaknesses.

     So I was all ready, sizing up the competition and a bit nervous about the first game...he picks my name and my opponent was...DRAW!!!  We had an odd number of players and I got stuck with the draw.  Big time disappointment! Not only was I bored out of my mind for the next three hours, but I was also worried that I would get screwed out of the points I needed to be in the competition.  I asked our organizer how many points I would get and he told me he would give me the max...Wow!, I actually thought that was too much and told him so but then he told me I'd get the best player next round and it would even out.  So, nobody else had a problem with it and I just went with the flow.  All that work on making sure my Killpoints were reasonable for nothing, but I at least had a chance to check out my opponent's armies and how they played.

Second Round - Crazed Fanatic Scenario

     After the first round I was really looking forward to finally getting my game on.  I ended up drawing Wes and his Daemons of Chaos army.  I had played Wes a few times before in tournaments and had actually beat him on my way to winning the Prelim round of Ardboyz, so I knew I was in for a tough game.  He had changed his list a bit and was running:

Herald of Tzeentch - The Flying Power Scroll of Purple Sun guy.
Skulltaker - In a really big horde of Bloodletters w a BSB
2 other big units of Bloodletters w Heralds
6 Flamers
A big unit of Nurglings - 10 bases worth, a bit of a surprise here.

     We set up, my Cavalry were both on my left flank, Chosen and Warriors in the middle with Marauders on my Right Flank.  The Warshrines were in position to cast onto my Chosen.  Wes had the big Skulltaker block in the middle, the other 2 Bloodletter units on his right flank; Flamers and Kairos on his left.  The Nurglings have the Scout rule (not sure why..) and deployed 12 inches in front of my Marauders...ok, I know what's going to happen here.  I had gotten the spells I wanted and Kairos had most of the big damage type spells from the BRB lores, along with Transformation, Throne, and Timewarp.  The Crazed Fanatic was placed in the center of the board (no real terrain that would affect gameplay much) and we rolled for the first turn.

     Fanatic moved towards my left flank - Wes won and advanced his Flamers and Kairos into range on my right flank.  The horde of Nurglings moved up in front of my Marauders too.  He concentrated his casting and shooting on my Warriors for the next couple of turns for the most part.  I couldn't stop all of his spells of course and he gradually wore down my unit.  I charged the Nurglings with my Marauder Horde and began the war of attrition there that I knew I would eventually win.  I advanced both Cav units to threaten his right flank and moved up slightly with my Chosen and Warriors.  Fanatic is captured by one of my Warshrines - T6 and a 3+ WS was great for fending off 2D6 hits and I rolled a 3 on the Strength Test to corral the bugger!  Wes kept retreating with his Bloodletter units which prompted me to taunt him that it wasn't very Khorne-like to retreat from opposing Khorne units.  He told me that he remembered what my Khorne units had done to his Bloodletters last game and wasn't making the same mistake twice.
     I think it was turn 4 that things heated up, by then I had destroyed the Nurglings and charged into the big Skulltaker horde with the Khorne Marauder Horde.  I knew I would lose the fight, but figured I could keep it occupied for a little while and hopefully wear him down some.  I also had both Cav units where I wanted them, but actually ended up a little too close with the Nurgle guys and Wes charged in.  The other big mistake was getting my Chosen Miasma'ed and then hit with a Purple Sun at Initiative 2!  I figured that cost me the game right there and that I deserved to lose.  After the spell I had roughly 12 Chosen left in the unit and was in big trouble.  I knew that even 12 Chosen could put out some pain, so I combo-charged with my Warrior unit into the untouched Bloodletter unit and started chopping on them.  I put out roughly 40 attacks at WS5, Strength 5, wounding on 2s that were actually wounding on 1s! - Thanks to Flaming Sword of Rhuin and the latest FAQ.  Wes made his big mistake right here...Kairos transformed into some big Gribbly thing and charged into the rear of my Chosen.  I actually won the combat on overall CR (Thank You 4+ WS) and had put a couple wounds on Kairos the Mountain Chimera.  I promptly dispelled Transformation during my turn and killed Kairos, along with finishing off the Bloodletters.  When the game ended, I had a Major Victory and all of the additional Battle Points.  Good, tense game where we both made a couple errors but Wes got a bit greedy and it cost him.

Third Round - Blood and Glory

     I was matched up against the current front-runner (only fair after my bye the first round), a fellow WoC player named John from Albuquerque, NM. I don't remember his exact list, but it was basically a Tzeentch themed list:

      Tzeentch Chaos Lord/Daemonic Mount                                                        
      Level 4 Death Sorcerer
      Level 2 Fire Sorcerer
      2 Units of 19 Tzeentch HW/Sh Warriors (1 Sorcerer in each, BSB in one)
      40 Khorne Flail Marauders
      5 Marauder Horse
      2 Units of 5 Dogs
      5 Tzeentch Knights
      2 Hellcannons

     I've been playing WoC for the last couple years and I instantly thought this list was too heavy in Characters.  I also tried the whole Hellcannon thing (I ran 3 of them at last years Ardboyz) and had decided that they were too unpredictable for me to use in tournaments.  I actually haven't lost a tournament game with WoC since I went character light and dumped the HCs.  I'm also one of the WoC players that think Tzeentch is overrated and prefer Khorne units.  You win the game by causing casualties and breaking your opponents units, I'd rather have the increased strength, attacks and ItP that Khorne grants than the +1 WS that Tzeentch grants.  You just have to manage Frenzy correctly.

     So, we alternated set-up and I ended up with Chosen in the middle/left, Marauder Horde middle, Khorne Warrior middle/right.  Khorne Knights on the left flank with the Nurgle Knights on the right, slightly refused..  My Warshrines were in the middle, behind the Chosen.  John had a unit of Warriors on his far right flank with the Marauder Horse in front of them.  His Khorne Marauder Horde faced off against mine, while his left flank had his Lord/Cav unit and the other Tzeentch Warrior unit.  His Hellcannons were rear/center.  There was a tall rock (impassable terrain) in the middle/right of the table that played a big role in my tactics, but otherwise terrain was no factor.  John vanguard-ed his Marauder Horse up a bit, about 16" from my Khorne Knights

      I went first and declared a charge with my Khorne Knights against the Marauder Horse.  I didn't think I'd make it but figured it was worth a try.  John did a Stand and Shoot reaction (Throwing Axes) and I actually made the charge successfully.  I then moved forward with everything, anchoring my left flank on the rock and my Marauders right flank on the same rock. I managed to successfully cast a couple spells and  I also ended up with +1 T, +1 S and the 4+/Stubborn on my Chosen by the time shooting ended.  I figured being T5 with the WS would dissuade the Hell-cannons from blowing away my Chosen.  In CC my CKs stomped the MH and then overran into the Tzeentch Warrior block.  John moved his Lord/Knights and his other unit of Tzeentch Warriors up on my right flank and held in the middle with his Khorne Marauders.  He managed to get his War-hounds in front of my Chosen and my Marauders.  He then got off Flame Cage against my Marauder Horde which ended up being a really smart and sneaky move...He then put both HC shots into my Chosen but did little damage due to the Favor of the Gods rolls.
     I rolled lousy and blew my Frenzy roll with my Marauders who then charged the War-hounds and got cooked ( I lost 39 out of 60), nice move by John! I did a combo charge on the dogs with a Warshrine and the Chosen (managed to hit the flank with the Warshrine..important!) I jockeyed around on the right trying to get position to charge the Tzeentch guys.  My magic phase I made sure I got Flaming Sword on the Khorne Warriors facing off against the Tzeentch/Knights on the right and cast Flaming Cage on John's Marauders.  I figured my Marauder's would kill the Dogs, overrun into John's Marauders..lose combat..flee..John has to pursue..and then he cooks like I did!  CC saw my Khorne Knights win combat and break his steadfast Tzeentch Warriors (8 isn't that great with no re-roll) and promptly run them down.  The Warshrine/Chosen ate the Dogs and because the Chosen overlapped the Warshrine I did not have anywhere to overrun which was the plan.  The Marauders did what I expected and ended up face-to-face with John's Marauders at the end of the round.
      John charged my Khorne/Nurgle units on the right with his Tzeentch/Lord units.  He failed to get any spells off and targeted my Chosen with the Hell-cannons again, killing a couple.  In the CC round his Khorne Marauders broke mine but failed to catch the 5 guys left, while he was barbequed by the Flame Cage spell!  It killed all but 11 of his guys!  He challenged with his Lord and I accepted with my Nurgle Champion but he only managed 1 wound on the guy and the rest of my Nurgle Knights slew 3 of his Tzeentch Knights with no for me!  My Khorne Warriors were wounding on 2s with 3 attacks apiece vs wounding on 4s with 2 attacks apiece, so I cut down his BSB in a challenge and killed the level 4 with directed attacks.  Both of his units broke (bad rolls on his part) and I ran them down.  The game was basically over at this point and I spent 3 turns killing off what was left...Massacre with full BPs!  John was a good guy and a good player that ran into the wrong build and needed more luck than he had.
     So, the tournament was over and I ended up winning by a comfortable margin (18 points I believe) and though I wasn't comfortable with the Draw points, I thought I had earned it. Then I found out that the guy who came in second was handed a massacre in the last round when his opponent quit first turn over a rule dispute!  So, that made me feel better and honestly I had put in so much work on the list for that first game that I feel I probably would have done all right.  Stores should have a ringer army for this kind of thing though.

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