Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Race to the (UK) Masters. And a hashtag.


To me, at least, the essence of the Renaissance Man (enlightenment notwithstanding, one does not read much about the Renaissance Woman, but am pretty sure the concept remains broadly the same) is the epitome of the pinnacle of human achievement. To be able to discourse knowledgably, productively, and at length on any given topic with equal eloquence and confidence is a far cry, in my view at least, above the vast majority of humanity in this day and age – a time, where quite simply, we have the capability to know more than any ancestor could ever dream of knowing, commanding, as we do, the sum total of human knowledge literally at our fingertips.


Despite these previously unimaginable technological advancements that are nothing more than normal to us fortunate present-day dwellers, I sometimes feel we have, as a race, failed. At least, the average commuter on the Northern Line (for those readers who have the privilege, nay, the God-given fortune to not know what the Northern Line is, or to have experienced its unique ‘character’ at 6.30am on a workday… well, let’s just say that if the passengers on those trains were anything other than human it would be an illegal form of transportation), the average shopper on Oxford Street (seriously, what’s the attraction?) or even one’s distinctly average work colleagues fail to live up to the ideal. It seems at times people are full of nothing but malformed opinion and ignorance.


To be fair to the, I guess it’s technically information, and not knowledge, that is so readily assessable to us all – and as I think Einstein once said [pause to Google whether it was indeed the wiry haired letch who said it],  Information is not Knowledge.




Bit of a snobbery-infused tangential meandering there. It’s been one of those days. I should point out I associate myself with the lamentable lack of knowledge. It is the norm, most of us suffer from it. Every now and then, however, this hobby throws up an incandescent comet of awe-inspiring awesomeness that makes the self-conscious and overly pensive amongst us even more self-conscious, more pensive, at times aggressive and generally envious.


This colossus will take the scene by storm, casually destroying aspirations and hobbies in its wake. Petty things like practice games, the rules and perceived norms are abandoned in the face of this implacable force. Picking seemingly random armies at each event, mastering them instantly, whilst dropping out of events randomly and with the smallest of provocation… there is no explanation, this is Rock & Roll reborn. Frequently spoken about in international multimedia platforms – never by name, simply by hashtag. Such a brilliant star can only surely only burn for a limited time…


#BenDiesel terrifies all before him, at the head of his very own propaganda machine. Experienced players quake at the very tho…



Oh… wait.

Wrong hashtag.

Damn it.


I was meant to be writing about #FatCraig… pretty sure all the same applies though…



Why on earth would I do such a thing?


Well, we are coming up to the traditional climax of the UK tournament season (UK rankings can now be found here: ) and I thought I would have a quick look around to see what it shows us, and what the race for those Masters spots are shaping up.


Most importantly, it shows I have not been to enough events this year! Thankfully the last few months of the year look to be jam packed with tournament goodness.


In less me-centric news, Hashtag sits proudly at the top of the rankings, as he has done for pretty much the entire year. Rankings systems have all sorts of detractors, understandably so - but I won’t get into that right now. Now, being ranked number 1 is not overly newsworthy (hell, even I have done that before!) - there is such a degree of luck and other factors involved (relative  strength of fields/schedules, being ‘carried’ in a team event, gaming the comp system, one of your scoring events being Downfall :) ) that all it can really be taken for is a mark of consistent good performance by a player during one calendar year.


No. What I find interesting is that Craig’s top four scores have come from four different armies. This is something I have always wanted to do. Unfortunately my allergic reaction to all things hobby related means that the likelihood of me being able to take 4 different armies to events in a year I, well, rather unlikely.


The ability to pick up an army and do (relatively) well with it given limited practice is an interesting topic in itself. A lot of people understandably don’t understand it. The skillsets involved are often rather different than people expect, in my experience at least. Army flexibility is far less about knowing the rules inside out and back to front. Rather it requires more of what I would call an artistic brain – you have to have a feel for the table, the relative power of the opposing forces (built up less from in-depth study of the books, but through have played against things over the years, allowing you to have an understanding of capabilities, what has killing blow, that sort of thing), a rough understanding (rather than mathematical certainty) of what will happen if two units engage, and what impact potential available buffs/hexes could have. I notice as I type that I have digressed into babbling about how I view the table. I have never been a ‘fractions-of-an-inch’ player (which largely goes to explain my utter hatred of 7th edition WFB), and rarely look to be overly tricksy on the table (during the vast majority of tournament games I will not conga-line or slingshot stuff around, for example. Even railroading is something I rarely set out to do), rather preferring to take a birds-eye view of table – treating it a as a battlefield in pseudo-realism I guess. Having over the years played quite a few games, I know, subconsciously, what impact a given unit should have in a situation (helped of course, that this information can be transposed from similar units in different armies). Of course, this will, on occasion bite me on my posterior when I get it wrong, or someone tries something I have never seen before, but that’s ok with me.

How does Hashtag do it?

He’s a gamey b*****d, obviously.


More seriously, Mr Hashtag does his prep for events. He makes sure he will get the painting points available, and will make sure to get the benefits on offer from a given comp pack.

Is that enough about Craig? I thought so too.



A look at the runners and riders


Bridesmaid Terry has continued with the consistency from last year into this by the ingenious use of daemons. A lot of daemons. A lot of the time. He is walking proof that taking the same overpowered daemon lists to an event every other week will get you a good rankings spot – and if one of those is AGOM you may even make the number 2 spot your own.

I jest, of course (or do I? I am still bitter about him turning my Slann AND Tetto into gold…).

Terry has done well, and sails into the Masters on the back of a good SCGT performance, and doing well in three other events I have barely heard of.

No. Not bitter.


Luke has been smashing stuff up North for a wee while now with one of those interesting things that always puzzle me. An obviously powerful list (commonly rocking out with a Herald-heavy Plague Bearer block) that people keep underestimating and getting smashed by – I honestly think people don’t know how to play daemons sometimes – reminds me of a couple of years ago when Nick Pym was running people over with 90 Bloodletter lists… No, this is not to take anything away from Luke (The fact he has done all this with Daemons does that already…), he has proven highly consistent and is now all set for (what I think is) his first Master’s bow.


What can be said about Mr Goodwin that is polite enough to publish? The big bad England ETC team made him take Chaos Dwarfs (quite a unique form of punishment really), and he sits there proudly the bearer of the Best Chaos Dwarf Icon (turns out anyone with rambling fanboy scribbled book can have an icon these days). Interestingly enough his ticket for the Masters was not earned with a single Chaos Dwarf point, rather Will has gone back to his old reliable – Empire, Daemons, and a Net List, to get the job done.


Andi “The Anointed of (the Foot of) Gork” has been rocking it this year, both with his trusty foot template and, more interestingly, with the Beastmen. Sure, I think he made some of those events up, but all points count! Recently relocated from the *literal* middle of nowhere (well, with the caveat that this is the UK, so to our colonial cousins he was just down the road) to a far more reachable location, I look forward to seeing more of him next year. Every Masters event should have a friendly giant.


Amit “the Terror from London” has been having a very impressive year. Do I attribute that simply to the Dark Elves’ new book? No, of course not! Only about 75% of it is down to the book I reckon :) Amit, being the superstar he is, has also broken up the mundanity of it all by taking the odd full on fun list to events like Clash. In short, Amit is a superstar, but it should never be forgotten he has made our club legend Sami rage quit Warhammer in one player turn down the store, so he is, above all, a Bad Man. Don’t forget that.


Stuart plays Empire and High Elves. Which is just too exciting a combo to get excited about. Even the consistency of his performances are so Empire/High Elf in nature. On the plus side, the Black Sun like to get his name wrong deliberately, so that has to count for something, right?


Friend of the blog and ever present twitter argument provider (for when you need distraction whilst at work), Captain Bulgaria has only ruined the enjoyment of everyone in the vicinity in three of his seven events this year. Which is fantastic news! Well, ok, two of the four remaining were using Daemons, but I understand weaning oneself off Dwarfs must be difficult. How comes all the worse habits (and there are fewer than rocking dwarfs) are the hardest to quit?


At number 9 is some blog writing chump. Thankfully after my first three events I had done well enough to make Masters qualification likely (barring any madness this will be my 4th in 4 years of tournament play, which I can’t really argue with), and this has allowed me to take silliness. Maybe this year I will event take the Masters seriously… probably not though…



That being said, as has been discussed on twitter, this is in and around the mark that could well be the cut off point for Masters qualification this year. With over 4 100pt events still to come this year, there is no knowing what will happen. Generally speaking, in years like this, with a lot of events everywhere (and therefore a lot of different winners out there) there is far more fluctuation and chaos than in more ‘traditional’ times when Jack, Russ and Ben would share two thirds of the big events between them. As a result all those players below here (and potentially Hristo and myself) are in danger of not making the cut – obviously, the further down the list, the more danger…)



Mikey had a great start to the year, and this will probably be enough to see him through to the Masters. The madness that has been his return to the scene after a few months off (you wouldn’t believe the dice luck if I told you) is quickly becoming a legend in itself. I just feel sorry for those people at whatever event his luck finally changes at. Looking to make it his third Masters in a row.


The Face is back with a vengeance (though he also seems to have gone to this “Stormlords” event that I am starting to suspect a bunch of players have made up to give themselves nice points… I note he has been painting up his VC, be interesting is he makes a move to wrest back the crown of undisputed VC hotshot in the UK. If people start allowing Undead Legion rules I will be fascinated to see what Russ rocks out to. Russ always qualifies for Masters – whether he goes or not is a different question.


Steve has continued his fine form from last year – though he seems to be abandoning his mantle of greatest Bretonnian player on these fair isles to go to that skill improving powerhouse, the daemon book. Maybe he knew Bretonnia was about to get gutted in the End of Times book, and that, despite initial rumours, there appears to be no likelihood of a new Army Book anytime soon. If so he is almost excused, but not forgiven. Steve is going for his second Masters in a row.


Nav bows to no man when it comes to tournament attendance, matching event for event the efforts of Mr Pike (who I sometimes suspect has that fabled dream job of being payed to attend events). Nav gets all sorts of extra cool points for taking four different armies to the 347 events he has gone to this year. Would be his very first Masters – good luck!


Mark, at some point over the past few years, became the high performing member of the Bad Dice Podcast – who saw that coming? He also has been rocking the army changes this year – in this case down largely to ETC commitments. It was a touching revelation when he remembered that Skaven are utterly broken :) This could either be Mark’s 4th Masters in a row (he may have missed one? Not sure). Watch out of self railroading and/or dice complaints.


Adam occupies the final masters spot right now, and as such easily the most vulnerable. He has had a good year, rocking a nice mix of armies. He also gets bonus points for largely having attended events I have heard of (which in itself should be worth more points). I think this would be his first Masters.



And now a random look at some of the people who will be trying to break into this “elite” (in literally the loosest sense of that word) group.



Marcus (17th) has some great runs of form this year – including a top level performance for England at the 6 Nations event. I’d expect him to make the cut in the coming months (never mind that due to drop outs he is likely in anyway). Would be his first Masters.


Mr Sewell (19th) is keeping himself being busy, in between being grumpy (current hot topic – the boringness of Wood Elves), with taking a lot of different armies to events. This would be cool, but alas he is also a Teclis user, and the least said about that the better. Would be his second Masters.


Matt Yeo (22nd) I include not only for him being an old man (and they deserve our respect) but also because he has kept plugging away at that VC army. I would have gone mad by now. Think this would be his first Masters?


Captain Leggy (24th) has never missed a Masters I believe. Will this be the year? He has been doing well with his march of the warriors on the road to the ETC – only not being ranked far higher because of the size of events he went to. Be interesting to see what he takes towards the end of the year – he is in a tough position as he needs to improve his score by roughly 20 points – which given that his low scores are in the 80s means he has to win an event, or maybe podium/top 5 at two. And time is running out. I for one would not bet against him though. This would be his millionth Masters.


Former Captain Ben (25th) is in at first glance  in a similar position to Leggy, but in actuality he is in a better place as it is easier for him to improve on his qualifying scores. A good shot of getting in really.


Jack (122nd) has only played two events this year. And done, shall we say, rather well at them. No idea if he is going to any in the coming months, but if he is going to at least two, I would expect him to qualify with ease (whether he attends or not is, of course a whole other thing).


Stockport wont know what hit it...




So, there you have it. Two and a bit months left of the tournament season, a lot to play for.

If you are in to that sort of thing.


At the very least, there appears to be a literal cluster fudge of events coming up, so fun will be had.




Until next time,





1 comment:

  1. Hahahaha, knowing what has killing blow. Never gets old.