Monday, 20 January 2014

A Yellow Lizard's Weekend at the UK Masters

The much anticipated (by the very bored) follow up to my previous post.

Well, that was fun.
 Seems only sensible to take a quick look at the 2013 Masters that took place this past weekend.
I find describing games incredibly hard to do – I don’t have Andy’s flair for the description of battle – seriously, check out his reports, invariably fantastic . This is not helped by the fact that I am a) using Lizardmen and b) my games tend to be a frenetic mess that would require prose rivalling that of Tolkenian Elvish poetry (in length, and perhaps in clarity) to describe. 

But, first to the most important thing here – how did my first round predictions pan out?!

Players - Round 1
Predicted Winner
Actual Winner
Tom H
Tom H
Tom M
Tom M
Tom M
Ben J
Ben J
Ben J
Ben C
Ben C
Ben C

 Well, 7/8 ain’t bad, we’ll take that. And with more thought may have changed the one I got wrong. Was about to press the “publish” button when the news of Jack pulling out and Tom coming in came through. That put the cat amongst the pigeons. Bloody quitters being a nuisance (not as bad as when you can’t find a lighter because everyone has quit, but close).

As for my own experiences –

Game 1 vs Matty (O&G) – Meeting Engagement

This was always going to be a Bad Time. Other than playing Matty for the first time, that bit is cool. His Dwarfs – he pretended to be offended I kept calling them Dwarfs, I think it is because he expects the new book out in a month or so will be more interesting than his army – were all set up to shoot me to death. What I needed was to be able to get to grips with him quickly and start thinning down the savage orcs (whilst getting shelled to death) in the vague hope of winning. The scenario did not help.

Any resemblance the army on the left has to a Dwarf army, is, I am told, entirely coincidental. 

I set up on the 6” line and risked the rush from Matty (I think he almost went for it, which would have been perfect), he promptly deployed a million miles away from me in the corner, near a bottleneck caused by a building. In the end it took three turns to get effective firepower even close to range – and then it all went wrong. I had survived the artillery barrage on my brave Stegadons for a while, and was up in the chaff wars, slowly (very, VERY slowly) picking off his warmachines. And then a single rock connected to a poor brave cow’s face and pulverised it. 250pts down, no way in the world of getting that many points off him. All that was left to do was throw the remaining Scar Vets into the Savage Orc unit (turn 5) and hope for the miracle to happen.
It did not.
Matty won.
I’m ok with that.
No, it’s not protesting too much, it is simply making it clear to the readers.
Let’s move on already.

Game 2 vs Pash (HE) – Battleline

The reward for failure is to play Pash, I shortly found out. Edinburgh’s own Ukranian puppy was as aggressive as expected, throwing his flying boys in my face. This is OK though, he’s charming, and I don’t bruise easily. Pretty much the entirety of both our armies were in combat by turn 2. Real Warhammer! It was a crazy mess, and impossible to describe. He didn’t get quite enough wounds through to break through a Skink Cohort on the charge with his Dragon and BSB, which let me launch the trap, pinning the dragon for the rest of the game with Scar Vets. The BSB got into my Slann a tad easily (was effectively pressured by the annoying snowflake bird- indigenous to Scotland I hear). Being in a unit of skirmishers with no steadfast, I was concerned for the ikle frog’s safety, so took the challenge round one, got punched a lot, and promptly used Smoke and Mirrors to swap out with the skink priest, who valiant got turned into paste for his efforts.
Rules Query: So, model A (dragon) is in a challenge and is subsequently charged by an impact hit causing model B (Stegadon), can they be hurt by the impact hits?
Meanwhile, my herd of cows tapdanced on his white lions, killing them in two rounds of combat, before going off and killing the snowflake bird and bsb – they are good pets, though their milk has something slightly about it.
The Prince on Dragon (eventually!) chopped down by a Scar Vet, the Dragon took a look at the banner the Slann was holding (well, someone had stapled to his back) and legged it, escaping the clutches of the fat frog, but was eventually run off the bored by SeƱor Scar Vet. The elves were broken, and pesky Reaver surviving to tell the tale.

Game 3 vs Craig (Skaven) - Watchtower

Definitely one of the single best games of Warhammer I have ever had. And yes, this is down to Craig’s bad luck :)
Such a great game, and literally impossible to describe.
Craig decided to not destroy the building, instead to capture it with his Stormvermin (not a bad shout, not sure exactly what I would do with them in there).
I captured the watchtower from the slave unit he had in there turn one, and he failed to assault it on his turn, allowing me to hold him up for a while. So far, so great. Then Plague magic started its thing and started smashing my army.
Not great.
An Iceshard on the Stormvermin was just enough to mean that the Lord, Assassin and 8 Stormvermin that assaulted the 10 or so skinks left in the building utterly failed to capture it. Slann and second unit then proceeded to take over the watchtower and cross its fingers – the webbing makes this hard, so give him some dues.
The Warlord, who had just finished killing a Stegadon with contemptuous ease, promptly decided that was enough and killed himself with his sword (with a little help form Death magic). Constant shooting was wearing the Vermin down, and the Vets were wreaking havoc on the Slave units on my left. Craig’s magic was decimating skinks by the handful. Eventually the Slann was alone in the building, all his little skink friends withered husks.

All that was left on the table turn 4...

Finally free of the slaves the vets threw themselves on the Stormvermin to try and hold them up, one promptly struck down by an assassin. The Slann tried to help Craig out by miscasting and causing 6 S10 hits on himself – but then forgot his lines and warded all the wounds. The remaining doomwheel’s drive by attacks were foiled by the tattered remnants of skink units thrown to their doom, and by the contraption misfiring twice and careening away. I had the building turn 4, the game did not end. I had the building turn 5, the game did not end. On Craig’s 6th turn he unleashed a mighty spell, turning the ancient servant of the Old Ones into a mewling clanrat, in the building… after all that! The remaining Scar vet in combat with the Vermin was grinding his way through them until finally, in an effort to show his useless minions how it was done, The Grey Seer stepped up to take the challenge. This failed, with the Vet ripping him limb from limb in front of the Vermin, who decided this was too much, turn tail and tried to flee, only to be butchered.
The lone remaining Clanrat, not sure that the angry Scar Vet outside would believe that he used to be a Slann, looked upon the butchering of the Stormvermin and promptly fled the building.
And the game ended.
With a Scar Vet next to the watchtower giving me the win.
Total models left on the table:
Me: 2 Scar Veterans
Craig: 1 Doomwheel, 1 (fleeing) slannrat.
That make no sense? I warned you it wouldn’t. All I can say is that it was a fantastic game.

Day two kicked off with the ever popular, and in no way annoying to play when all the tables are all joined up Battle in a Corridor

Game 4 vs Leggy (WoC) – Battle for the Pass.

Netlist WoC are a nightmare for lizards, even if you plan for them. As in this case. I got the side with a building and deployed around it, narrowing the table and causing a WoC traffic jam.
Everything went according to plan. Slann hid in a building and I offered a juicy target for the Prince with a cohort containing multiple Scar Vets and a Priest in. An innocent looking Ancient held back, grazing and trying it’s best not to attract any attention. I took a wound off the prince somehow or other. He took the bait. Cautious of having the Prince protected from impact hits by being in a challenge the ever so brave sacrificial skink champ was pulverised. In my turn the Ancient burst into action and thundered into the flank of the Prince. 3 wounds needed to be caused. After some bad dice rolls 3 wounds caused by the mighty beast.
Everything went according to plan.
Until it didn’t.
Leggy casually saved all the wounds from the now bashful looking Prince and proceeded, over the course of the game, to kill the overgrown cow and break the unit with the Vet in… leaving them on double 1s and off the board they went. On my Eastern flank the other mighty beast of burden sat on the 3+ warded BSB, eventually getting two wounds through. And then Leggy causally purple sunned him off (damn initiative 4 is not enough!). The now unengaged BSB proceeded to survive a million (no, am not exaggerating) shots and see out the game. This was, all things considered, a Bad Thing.
The remaining Scar Vet, rather peeved by the inability of his cold blooded kin to do anything right this morning, proceeded to account for almost the entirety of the rest of the Chaos army. My plan of getting the Prince with him rather undone by the Predatory Fighter need to pursue fleeing units. Which he did, and caught, time and again, until he ended the game right on Leggy’s table edge.
As the dust settled, Leggy had his Prince, BSB and lvl2 on Disc (who had, wisely, hid all game) alive and nothing else. I, crucially, had lost both of the expensive to feed cows, and lost this game by 3 points.
Much cursing (amongst the basking in the sun, which is necessary for a good complexion) followed, and on to the 5th game.

Game 5 Tom M (High Elves), Dawn Attack

The memory of everything in my army was fresh from my last encounter with Tom – a blissful experience of being constantly shot at by a Dwarf-inspired High Elf army, before and overly cold bird of undiscernible heritage caused havoc before being eventually brought to earth by those dutiful servants of the Old Ones – javelins – for a hard fought draw.
Not so this time, I vowed. Firstly chilly bird was clearly having a day off, deciding that even it was not up for the frozen wastes that is the North of England in the Winter.
Tom had over 1000 points in his White Lion unit – I knew that the only way to pull something off here was to go for him. That, and I had lost two games at this point, so we may as well have fun. The random deployment was rather annoying, one of my Stegadons denied the early game cover of a building as its addle-brained grazing took it off into the open, and the Priest decided that he did not want to hang out with the rest, taking a scenic route to the battlefield and eventually turning up on my Western flank all by themselves – at which point they proceeded to be mercilessly persecuted by the rather rude Elves. He somehow survived the game, but is now rather less keen on making excursions to spot the Lesser Billed Razordon – that, or everyone else is refusing to go with him.
My plan was simple – throw everything at the Lions whilst they were still deployed wide and had limited attacks, and cause enough damage that the second waved could finish it up.
Everything went according to plan.
A Stegadon, reminded of his utter failure to skewer a prancing Prince an hour earlier, lanced himself at the Lions, and some skinkies charged the unit on the other end of the line, to stop any SeaHelm reform nonsense. And it worked – between impacts, attacks and some graceful jumping up and down on the Lions over a third of the unit was killed. For some further brilliant tactical goodness, some skinks survived on the other end of the unit, once again preventing any reform nonsense. Sure, the other cow got stuck in traffic, and a Scar Vet decided that it was too cold to charge the extra couple of yards to get in on the fun (he had, after all, just finished smashing half a warrior army). But at the time it seemed that these were minor inconveniences.
Everything was going according to plan.
Until it didn’t.

Those pesky Elves had stolen the trees. For this they shall not be forgiven

The Lions, with some frankly stupendous rolling, brought down the cow before it was able to do too much further damage – though not before it skewered the Banishment-totting mage. Then Tom had one of those incredible magic phases where he got off 3 magic buffs (seriously, Forbidden rod + Banner of the World Dragon is brutal), and it was not worth charging them the following turn. Bored by this wait, a skirmish unit and the remaining cow shot off all 20 archers in his archer unit in one turn. So there.
Things did not go great from here. Using some book he had recently taken out of the local library (its mass produced, so no waiting around), Tom’s lvl2 Loremaster somehow established magical dominance over the oldest of the servants of the Old Ones. To add insult to injury, the aforementioned Loremaster proceeded to hack down a scar vet in short order.
Then a Bad Thing happened.
Will had been valiantly running the event from an admin and timekeeping point of view. After a lengthy (and, as it happens, irrelevant) rules query, he vanished. We had no clear idea when the round was due to end. We asked around and it was guessimated that there was probably about 10 minutes left. So we agreed there would be one more turn (turn 5). Half way through this we were told we had another 20 minutes. Having agreed to only play one turn we did so – and this cost me the game. As the final dice of my fifth turn were rolled, a scar vet spannered his attacks, leaving one remaining White Lion alive. One more turn and either I kill the unit in combat, or he kills me and I have a gazillion (technical term that) shots surrounding the 4 remaining models of that unit – White Lion banner bearer, Loremaster, lvl2 and BSB.
As it was. A draw.

Always important to finish on a high when you have circa 5 hours of travel to look forward to post event, and the gods were smiling.

Game 6 vs Dan (WoC) – Blood and Glory.

All Khorne Warrior armies are fun! Unless something went very wrong there should only be one winner. As it was I was not in the mood to play uber avoidance, and played a bit fast and loose.
Facing the tactical might of an army led by Khorne’s very favourite pet spawn, the Three Amigos (scar vets for the slow) banded together in one unit and proceeded to pick on things. Sloppy play gave Dan a cow to butcher, but that one deserved it (no, I have not forgotten the Prince incident!). Other than that though, shooting, magic and angry Amigos cleared things up. Was a debate about which way to break him once had left him with 3 fortitude, and eventually I decided that caution was lame and big diced off a searing doom to remove the knights.
The Slann, being brave and everything, hid in a building this entire game.
Hell yeah. Hard one to describe – Dan was there to have fun, and it was.

End result was just north of the middle of the pack – 3 wins, 2 losses and a draw. I’ll take that with Lizards at two thousand points in that field – especially considering how close one of the losses and the draw were.
Thing I am proudest of though is achieving the second highest VPs (I think, maybe third) at the event with Lizardmen.

In case anyone out there was unaware, the winner of the Masters was none other than the evil doctor Potter himself – Morathi proving she is capable of more than seducing her own children.
And seriously, not better winner could have been had in that field.

The event itself was the most fun of the three masters I have been to, and endless thanks must go to Ben for setting it up (check out how he epically threw the Masters away on his podcast, you may have heard of it) and to Darren for hosting us all. The all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant with the vanishing food on the Saturday was a particular highlight).

Until next time


Thursday, 9 January 2014

The UK Masters!

So, it’s been a long time – been busy living the rock and roll lifestyle of expensive cars, fast women and scandalous boats that writing a blog leads to.
That, or work and life have been crazy – but that sounds a whole lot less fun.
Hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year period, have made the appropriate resolutions (and ideally broken them again) etc etc blah blah.

To get the ball rolling on 2014, I thought would be good to have a brief look at the UK Masters – happening this very weekend. Now, Ben Curry has covered this in some detail thus far in his various media outlets, but seems rude not to have my own look at things.

The matchups for round one have been done (no one knows the scenario yet), last minute painting is frantically being done (by me at least!) and the newbies are starting to get nervous about the Chris Legg initiation rituals….

It’s time for the old country to show those colonial types how things are done!

Matty - Raf

So, Matty is rocking out his trusty Dwarfs for this. Not surprising – I know several comments have been made about how Ogres would have been a good option, but he was always going to bring the Dwarfs.
And actually, it’s almost a perfect list for out of the book 2000pt Warhammer, commentary on this has been far too negative. Two units no one wants to fight, effectively immune to non-initiative based magic, lots of ranged threat, capable of sitting in the corner and easily picking up 100pts more than the opponent. It even has a very strong likelihood of getting Foot, which is something you don’t always see in a Dwarf list, it has to be said. I think this army will do solidly well – unless the artillery all goes epically wrong of course. It will struggle to win big in a lot of matchups, but with W/L/D you really don’t need to. Sure, it’s his first Masters, but think that is an overrated handicap. (turns out it's not his first - rest is true though!)

I… decided to bring Lizardmen. This is despite the fact I think they are terrible at 2000pts, especially if everyone brings the armies that really rock at this points level (namely the Chaos ones) – interestingly not as many people did that as I expected. On the other hand, most people, unlike me, were clearly paying attention to the fact that this is W/L/D nonsense; hence the number of shooting avoidance lists out there. My original list was along the same lines, Slann, Tetto’eko and the rest of the points in skinks. But no, every time I go to the Masters I want to have fun, and whilst there is a degree of fun in rocking out with 1400 points worth of skinks, it’s probably the wrong kind of fun. Hence this. A list that EPICALLY bleeds points against anyone rocking warmachine goodness. I also ignored my own advice and left the Death Magic at home – trying out Wandering Deliberations to provide a bit more of a magical artillery role for the Slann. Of course, I should have known that as soon as I dropped Death magic I would be paired up against green-tinted dwarfs.

When not rocking 25% of my points in dinosaurs and close to another 25% on 2 wound characters with no look out sir I tend to like this matchup. But then again, I also normally have Death magic. Being a dwarf player at heart, Matty will probably sit in the corner shelling me with warmachines and artillery, daring me to try and get at him. Of course, we have no idea what the scenario is going to be, but Dwarf armies can gunline it up in most scenarios really. This will really boil down to how well his warmachines do. If they are on fire I lose, if not I should have a good chance of pulling this off. In summary, it goes without saying that this is a terrible matchup and I have absolutely no chance! J

Jack has pulled out of the Masters just as I was about to click “post”!
Enter the Harris.
Cue some hasty rewrites…

Jack – Lorenzo Lorenzo – Tom H

Jack has let me down. Yet again he is going to the Masters without taking the Lizardmen. How am I meant to learn without being able to shamelessly copy everything he does?! I mean seriously, he comes across as a lovely chap and everything, but clearly he has got his priorities utterly wrong. Bad Jack. Bad.  To be fair though, the Lizards really are not great at this points level, so maybe he decided to take something fun instead.
Nope. Jack clearly wanted to be “that guy”. Two Steam Tanks and three further units of 1+ armour save. Oh, and double banishment at strength 7 and 6. Because why not?
From a purely effective point of view, it is very hard to argue with this list. It has no weaknesses (other than Metal, but Metal is overrated (unless you are down under, where people roll way too many 6s with Final Transmutation). It has elements that can push, and it can very very happily sit back and shoot/magic, almost guaranteed to get over 100pts more than his opponent in the ranged game. From a fun point of view this is an abomination, even worse than the Dwarf list that Matty is running.

Few people know this, but Lorenzo is a bad man. People take in his nice relaxed personality and think “well, he seems nice enough”. They are wrong. He is evil. You would think this would be obvious given his previous exploits with Ogres, but maybe it will be acknowledged now that he is rocking the Daemons. I admire lists that have a very clear aim. I admire them slightly less when the aim is to see how many Beasts of Nurgle you can fit in a list at 2000pts. I would almost have forgiven him if he had gone all out Nurgle (ok, who am I kidding, I wouldn’t have), but he didn’t even have the decency to do that. It’s actually quite a nice list – shooting, armour-busting magic, Beasts to grind away, decent chaff. I don’t think it packs enough of a punch though, and there are high powered, fast moving things out there that could cause this list a hell of a lot of issues should they be able to avoid the tide of Nurgle puppies wanting to play. Puppies are obviously awesome (if sometimes lacking in house training), but I do think that this many points pumped into them leaves the list exposed if they get pinned down by things that will not die to them.

This should be a solid win to Jack. Not a shocking statement, given Jack’s well known prowess on the gaming table (and probably press ups), but also because his list has the ability to take Lorenzo’s toys out of the game (unless Lorenzo gets some brutal magic and shooting phases early on).

Well, Tom has brought the fun to this event. We have discussed this as a possible list between us for a while – what is there to simply not love about this?! Captain Canada has is looking to recreate his Throne of Skulls glory, bringing the single most powerful unit in the game. Will it do well?
Well, I actually think it is better than people will think on first glance (sure the super fast avoidance nuisance armies that no one likes won’t care. But there are other that really will). Sorry to not write more about this list I love, but Craig is upset (probably because someone other that him dropped out, and wants me to post this).

Unfortunately for Tom, he is facing the one list that probably does not care all that much about his. Not done (and not going to do) the maths on it, but not sure Beasts care all that much about Trolls. At the very least, expect to see a LOT of combat out of this (either that, or Tom hides the Prince and takes the draw…).

Leggy – Tom M

Chris is the most picked on player in Warhammer. It’s sad really. Everyone should give him a hug and a big wet kiss on the cheek. Poor guy.
This bullying is what has led him to lash out, tormenting the scene with a sludge of undiluted net filth.
That has to be the reason; why else would anyone do this to themselves?!
Oh… he was forced to play Dwarfs a while back. That’ll make the nicest person odious.
Chris, bring the free styling Warhammer brain we know he is, has brought the list everyone expected to see (I honestly thought I would see closer to half the field take either this or a Throgg version) – WoC at 2k are insanely good, the things they have to drop from a 2.4k makes little to no difference to the effectiveness of the list. And it looks like almost everyone has tooled up to beat it. That is, it has to be said, rather easier said than done. In a win/loss system with VPs being the tiebreaker, this list is great, though I don’t like the marauders. They add nothing for me – but then again I guess they are cheap enough that in some games he can simply not use them. As ever with Warriors the combination of mobile and durable hand grenade units makes it a complete handful. It’s so good it’s utterly dull.

The Master is bringing his/Mikey’s/Sweden’s (opinions on this matter vary wildly) High Elf list cut down to fit. It is, with all the best will in the world, utterly dull and yet uncompromisingly effective (a strange parallel with its general come to think of it ;-) ). A gunline backed up by a book-totting librarian and banner-wielding White Lions, it does not have to do anything to win games under this system. Its fundamental power is that I am pretty sure it would be utterly effective to play whilst completely drunk. That says a lot about a list. Tom is probably the favourite for the title this year, based on the list (almost all (this author, and Pash obviously, notwithstanding) of the players there are extremely good, the lack of weaknesses in the list and answers to almost all problems is a big deal).
At least, that’s what I thought at first.
The loss of the Lvl4 (on Light) and the Frostheart from the 2400pt list is actually massive. There are things (or even single models) that can take on the White Lion unit in combat. So this could not work as well as expected. That being what it is, it is still a good list.

The beauty in this matchup, of course, is that the only ljijk;ilnjjnASVsdvGFjjnnoji;iojijdsafadfrgvsc szbh…

Oh… sorry, I fell asleep there.
Umm, Tom will probably win it, unless Chris has one of those games he has whenever I play him and his dice go turbo (I didn’t have any cannons to shoot his Vampire Lord in the face with, a tactical error, I’ll admit) and the Bolt Throwers don’t take the Prince down, in which case Chris can probably win by picking up the points not in the Lion unit.

Andy - Mark

Being all scientific and stuff, Andy knows that unit on unit combat is for losers, and that the only things that should fight are either cheap or characters. The modern man shoots people (though a nice man like Andy doesn’t shoot people all that much).
This is an absolutely terrifying list. Getting hold of it will be like catching a lone sheep in a field (ahem, I am told this is hard to do, I obviously would have no idea…). With Morathi choosing her lore depending on the matchup, the power level here only goes up. And Morathi is cool (cool in a “crazy lady who sleeps with her son” kind of way, but still cool), so there.
If there is one weakness to the list it is that there a LOT of points invested in magic. Sure, a lot of that is in the absolutely-crazy-someone-should-check-out-who-playtested-this-army Warlock units, but some poor winds of magic rolls could hurt. Other than that, it’s a small model count army and with the amount of shooting at this event with a bit of bad luck he could be in big trouble. And Morathi is of course asking for a cannonball/rock lobber/bolt thrower to the face – but then almost every single thing that is cool in this game is.

Mark, whose most recent achievement was getting no less a gaming powerhouse than Tom Loyn a podium at Downfall by lending him a nicely painted army, is famous the world over for his ironclad (read: prone to rust and slightly leaky) rules analysis on the show they put stuff on that Ben has forgotten to mention in the Daily, and a complete and utter distain for people who are unable to seamlessly blend their highlighting. Away from the world of internet stardom, he is prone to bringing Troll and Tomb King shaped filth whenever he can. The shock of being able to bring an extra 400pts of Tomb Kings to a 2k event was so great that he clearly blacked out and woke up thinking this is 2011, so Skaven makes sense.
It’s a Skaven list. It is a truth universally accepted that a Skaven list is the most underwhelming thing to read in the world. Just… the usual stuff.
Plague Monks?
I guess they are good at assaulting small gangs of unarmoured girls? Maybe it’s because they can start in the Watchtower, are at least toughness 4 and wont panic out, holding the fort if the old grey rat at the back can’t bring it down. Oh, nope, they are not even core. More it smells of spare points syndrome. Seer? Check. All the Rares? Check. Stormvermin? Check. All the usual Engineer equipment? Check. Giant Rat chaff? Have some points left over, may as well take them, they can have a banner, are ITP and hit like one of those snowballs with a tad too much ice in. All that aside, I think Gutter Runners would have been better.
It’s an effective list. Any list with an Abomination, a WLC, a Doomwheel and a Seer can ruin someone’s day. Can it deal with the modern game? The evidence of the tournament scene would suggest not so much – sure, they can bring everything to 2k, but is everything enough?
All that being said, I am really not sure about his comment he made on the Podcast. He did not take 2400pts of Tomb Kings because he wanted an army that could win 5 games and draw another… Am really not sure that Skaven was the solution here – but maybe he will prove me wrong.

Baring the Warp Lighting Cannon going nuts, or the Abomination having one of those games we all know it can have, there should be no way Andy doesn’t get the win here. He does not have to engage, has plenty of units that can shut down the artillery, shooting, and incredibly offensive magic.

Mikey - Ben J 

Mikey has brought Batman. And therefore he wins.
I have played close to a dozen games with a terrifyingly similar list at 2400points (the extra 400 points obviously being spent on Shadow Warriors in case you are wondering). The only things in this list that does not get to deploy after the opponent get to move before the game starts (apart from the Bolt Throwers, Phoenix and lvl4… ok, to be fair, that’s about a third of his points, but let’s not ruin the narrative with the mundane banality of facts).
People laugh, but Alith Anar is actually really (ok, quite) good. Sure he doesn’t smash much up in combat, but shooting people keeps you safe, especially if shooting them with a bolt thrower. Factor in the nuisance units in the list, the Bolt Throwers, Death Magic and the Phoenix, and this list could actually do really well. Sure, there definitely lists here that it does not want to face – he would have benefited more if people stuck to the script and brought a bunch of Warrior lists.

Ben “El Capitan” Johnson has brought a simply great list, which is not getting enough justice from the casual observer. It’s the issue with this type of list, the threats are not obvious. And that’s a fair point. Nothing here is as scary as a Sword of Swiftness and Eternal Blade-wielding Lord of Change (seriously, don’t get me started on this rules interpretation (again!)). That being said, it has two cannons, more than enough magic (including potential for combat buffs) and fast threats… what else does one want? The only thing I am not sold on is the ambushing hounds. Having used them a bit, I tend to find that the equivalent points of stuff that’s actually on the board is more effective most of the time – though it plays havoc with your opponents brain and could work beautifully against the never ending number of gunline lists at this event. There is little to say here. If there were more Daemon Princes running around he would have potentially been in a spot of bother, but one in 15 potential opponents is not bad odds at all.

As for this game, well, either could win it (shock!). The daemons are fast enough, and can pack enough magic missiles (and double cannons to go Phoenix hunting) to give Mikey a real headache. That being said, if Mikey not only has the tools to deal with this daemon army at range, but also (assuming it’s alive!) in combat to – all depending on who can force the engagement on their turn. I’m going to go ahead and give this one to Ben.

Ben C - Craig

The new streamlined Ben is a happy bunny. This event will give him an excuse (as if he needed it!) to talk about Dark Elves every weekday for the next few weeks following the Masters.
Ben’s is an epic story of a boy who lost his identity with the death of a dear friend (the good old Mindrazor days) and had to resort to full time talking to make up for the vacuum  this left in his life. Could this d***head list be his salvation?
We can only hope.
Except that it’s a d***head list. And if (as undoubtedly he will) he does well expect hordes of fanboys to start descending on the scene with MSU nonsense (completely different to Skink spam, which is a noble and virtuous thing).
I love this list, though I am finding it impressive just how small these Dark Elf list are. The one major failing of this list is, of course, that he only has 15 Warlocks. Weak.
The whole 30” vanguard and move followed by Purple Sun and short ranged death snipes is frankly horrendous, and simply cannot be overlooked. Factor in a trio of the stupidly good Dark Elf Masters (the only reason people are not going apoplectic with rage over these guys is the fact that Doomfire Warlocks exists) and some bolt throwers to keep anything that could actually fight a Master honest, and you have a painful list. Add in 18 (presumably flaming) Witch Elves to take that watchtower and you have something akin to a perfect list in this field (due primarily to the lack of Death Stars on show).
Don’t tell him, his ego couldn’t take it, but I think he could win the whole event with this.
Unless he gets utterly shot off by the gunlines that make half this event of course, but that would serve him right.

Craig, Craig, Craig… The wargaming polymath and spurner of the mainstream. The one who singlehandedly took my list and went merrily chump bashing in Wales for the first UK 60+ man tournament win with the new Lizardmen book – something Jack will never now be able to, however many million rankings points he gets. Or, The Man Who Epically Let The Side Down, as he will be known from now on.
And he knows it.
Bad Craig.
Not taking Lizards I get – they really are bad at 2k. Taking Skaven is sort of (well, maybe not) excusable. Taking Skaven and not taking his much loved “RatStar” is an utter disgrace. A Grey Seer?! I had expected more from him.
Putting aside the eternal shame he will forever have to endure from now on, it’s a good list.
The rare section is truly terrifying by itself, with the potentially to go crazy. And it has all the stuff that you would expect to see, and that stuff is really powerful. And I like the MSU slaves. Kind of cute, like those pet rats you see with top hats and canes. As mentioned previously – Skaven lists are hard to get excited about.

As to the first round… Well, in all honesty, if Ben can deal with the Doomwheels and Cannons (or is not hurt too badly by them) there should be absolutely no way he doesn’t win this game. Could be a very boring game if Ben decides to just keep out of the way and pick up points at range. Yawn.

Pash - Steve

Pash, despite his name, is a truly mad skirt wearing lovable Scottish oatcake.
And he likes Dragons.
We like Dragons.
Therefore, we like him.
Sometimes I like maths, there is a simple beauty to it.
Bottom kissing out of the way, I was disappointed by the sheer lack of Dragons in this list. It’s a whole 50% short of what he should have had. No, the one painted on the White Lion’s banner does not count.
He does get epic points for the list though – no gunline here! Of course, there is not actually that much of an army here either, once you take out the Dragon and Phoenix you have a small unit of lions and… not much else.
If he rides the luck whirlwind with enough flair and panache he could actually do ok – there are a lot of armies with limited teeth at this event. More likely, however, he will get shot. A lot.

Steve, as well as being charming, handsome and great at Warhammer (yes, he is giving me a lift to the event) is the only one brave enough to bring an “internet tells me they are terrible” book.
Consistently consistent (?) with these lovable French showponies, he is bringing a very solid list to this event. The issue with Bretts a lot of the time is that after the charge they are somewhat mediocre. The positive thing is that pretty much no one is bringing anything that fights all that well. The army also has a combination of the insanely under costed Trebuchets and Heavens magic to punish things at range, and the overall speed to put those pansy elves under pressure. I think a lot of the commentary has underrated Steve’s chances of doing well here. After all, in keeping with the theme of the event, he too can sit in the corner and shoot people.
All these positive things being said… he will probably get cannoned off in half his games.
Of course… his approach to dealing with the Watchtower scenario is… interesting J

As for the first round draw… it sort of depends. If it turns out we are playing Watchtower Steve may be in an ikle bit of trouble! If not, I actually think it’s Steve’s to lose (unless he gets fooled by Pash’s girlish charms or skirt). Dragons are not great against Bretts. Daemons with a 2+ armour save can take a lot of punishment, and Trebs are somewhat mean. Of course, no one thought there was a chance in hell of Pash doing so well at the Bjorn event, so who knows what craziness is going on? 

Dan - Terry

They say geniuses tend to be inherently mad. Now, I don’t know if Dan is actually a genius, but he has spreadsheets and works out tangents, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Thankfully he had somewhat of an epiphany at some point last year, and parked his tediously effective Empire army in the 1+ armour save garage and started rocking the Warriors. Yes, I dislike his Empire list that much that I am ok with him going all Warriors on our ass. Madness takes many forms. One of those, it appears, is a full on Khorne army. Let by non other than Khorne’s puppydog, whose inspirational presence rivals that of the Everchosen himself (or any two-bit unit with a cheap stick from the knock off magic items factory).
Sure, the list is terrible. But terrible does work, at times. God looks after mad dogs and Englishmen, to bastardise some sayings, and Dan is both mad and English – and we all know two out of three ain’t bad.
He is unlucky here in that so many people have taken 2000pts as a challenge to create armies that never fight. That being said, with a  decent draw he could do ok. And, above any other nonsense, I approve of not-having-to-think Warhammer.

Terry hails from one of those classic adventure novels. Unknown, tagging on to the fringes of society, uncared for but stoically struggling through, he comes across an incredible item that gives him unimaginable power and soon his name is known throughout the land. So, yeah, basically he is a Hobbit. Somewhat annoyingly for pretty much everyone, this item turned out not to be a magical ring that leads to a year’s worth of walking to, and back from, a mountain in the middle of nowhere (getting a lift with an Eagle would have been too easy, clearly), but actually a Daemon army.
He has maintained his usual core basis of the army, mass horrors and a Lord of change – the horrors pouring magical damage onto the opponent, forcing them to commit before the Jedi Lord of Change and (normally) Beasts and Flies ruin their days. For 2000 points it looks like he has had to drop two magic levels form the LoC and the big unit of Beasts he normally takes – and he clearly couldn’t resist the urge to bow down to the no comp gods and double down on Skullcannons. The loss in magic levels from the Lord of Change is not a big deal – sure he is slightly worse at dispelling, but he will still be able to roll Gateway on a Horror unit, so he will be happy enough. The solid barrier that the Beasts provide, screening the more vulnerable aspects of his list is a bigger loss, however.

In theory this should be straight forward. Terry magics and shoots Dan as he runs in for a couple of turns. Then, when Dan gets too close, he charges one element of the Warrior army with the Lord of Change, redirecting the others. Depending on how far away from each other they start, this could be more than enough to take the win. That, or the Lord of Change just flies behind thus plucky warrior army and charges units in the rear when he feels like it. That being said, it is always easy to say “chaff it up, shoot it off”. If the army does make it in, Terry is in incredible amounts of trouble. And Dan has Scyla. So there.
Someone should warn Terry though – Dan knows Kung Fu.
And don’t slow play him at the Masters.
Just don’t.

Overall predictions

Damn, was hoping would not have to do those.

1. Ben C (I know, no one wants to see this happen! – but 100pts for the win and his list is just bad news)
2.  Tom M (probably the favourite going in, but think may just miss out)
3. Jack (incredibly dull effective list for this situation – may struggle in Watchtower (depending on who he faces))  Ben J (very good list in the hands of a top player)
4. Andy (similar to Ben’s list, and will do well, could finish higher than this)
5. Leggy (good record vs the field, and the army of 2013, but think too many people geared to take it down)
6. Tom H (he’s going to smash some people, just you see)
7. Terry (the patented DoC list does what it does)
8. Lorenzo (another good list, but perhaps lacking a little bite)
9. Steve (Bretts are very good at keeping their points, and can smash through several of the armies here, but may come unstuck vs the top)
10. Dan (Will smash at least two players at this event)
11. Craig (Skaven have some great tricks… but not sure they cut it as they used to. Should have brought the RatStar)
12. Mikey (All the games should be close – he could actually end up doing well. But probably not)
13. Mark (as with Craig really, should have brought Tomb Kings.)
14. Matty (Dwarf shooting only goes so far)
15. Me (too many shooty armies out there, and the ones that don’t shoot fight…)
16. Pash (he’s Scottish)

On a related note – you should check out:

Should be a fun one, and we shall see who will be crowned, America’s Next Top Model The Master!

Until next time