Monday, 5 January 2015

UK Masters Preview!

Well, well, well…

It is that time of year. Dead, ugly and flightless birds have been eaten under the mistaken belief they are good (seriously, if they were *that* good they would be eaten more often), in-laws have been borne, office parties and the associated embarrassments are fading from memory and people are getting over their misguided wish for snow (forgetting that this country does not function if anything more than heavy dandruff is at hand). Now we move on from all that, into the bright, hopeful new beginning of the New Year. The time when where lots of mistakes will be made writing out dates, where train fares will go up, and the time when the greatest players of the beautiful game (that wanted to and could make it) battle it out to establish the eternal title of “UK Warhammer Master [insert date here]”, before inevitably fading, like all previous winners, into obscurity. Good to start on a positive vibe, don’t you think?

Once again Mr Ben “Daddy” Curry from the Bad Dice Podcast will be organising the event (in between trying to engineer (successfully it is looking like!) enough drop outs so that he can use his newly painted Eternity King). As he does every year, Ben has chosen a comp pack used at a major event in the UK for the event, this year Sheffield getting the nod (of the three previous Masters I have been to, the packs have been: SCGT, Swedish and 2000pts No Comp). This year’s pack has proven rather controversially, but that was always going to be the case in the midst of the End Times. The pack can be found here: .

As you will see, it is *almost* uncomped, and the End Times lists out at the time are allowed. [Cue cries of dismay and weeks of trying to figure out what the field would look like].

The Field
For many, myself included, this is always a fun celebration event – a “well done” for the previous year. For others it is a desperate struggle to get one over on the other top performers of the previous year. The field has seen  number of drop outs this year, and, at the time of writing the field is:

   Andy 'The Master' Potter
1              Luke Morton
             Craig Johnson
3              Russ Veal
4              Terry Pike
5              Stephen Follows
6              Will Goodwin
7              Mike Newman
8              Marcus Lake
9              Zach Martin
10           Amit Hindocha
                Stuart Hawkins
11           Hristo Nikolov
12           Raf Harbinson
13           Tom Harris
14           Dom Pemberton
                Nav Hussain
15           Mark Wildman

It being this particular time of year also means it is time to have a brief look through the lists. Summoning all the management skills I have learnt over the years, I decided the best approach would be to get others to do the work for me, and add my two cents at the end – genius right?!

Who would step up to deliver their verdicts upon the lists?

First up, someone who needs absolutely no introduction to readers of this blog (or of others, when he is moonlighting, the bloody mercenary!), none other than friend-of-the-blog and full on Doctor, Jake. He was kind enough to take a break from suggesting lists with folding fortresses to anyone who would listen and analyse the lists in his usual thorough way.

Our second contributor is a first time poster and long-time friend of the author, Ian Sturgess – I will let him introduce himself:

Hi everyone I’m Ian Sturgess, due to the fact everyone else in the UK is busy [literally, I asked *everyone* else ;-)] Raf asked me to do a write up of the masters lists for his blog, or more precisely how I see this sh*t going down.  For the vast majority of you who probably don’t know me, I’m a past-his-best [a bit harsh on yourself there, but this blog approves of self-depreciation] High Elf pusher, that has been playing Warhammer for a quarter of a century. I also get invited onto Ohio Hammer from time to time, probably just to act as Andy’s fall guy [an important role, undoubtedly].  I came short a few places this year on getting to the masters so like most people ill just sit here and hurl opinions from the safety of my sofa! [you would think this would be easy, but anyone who watches football pundits try this out will appreciate it is clearly harder than it looks!].


So, without any further ado that I can think of right now, let’s have a look through the lists!

Andy Potter (UK Master)

Jake: The Masters field does seem to have gone for disc lords over Daemon Princes, and I think it is entirely the right call (especially looking at all the Empire!) Though I think I’d take Spellshield over Dragonhelm, myself. In any case, the list has a series of extremely hard (and hard to kill, barring poor saving throws) hunter-killer characters, enough support to clear minor chaff, and relatively few easy points. I’ll start now by saying that I think Fortitude is absolutely key to the Slaughter comp pack, as it’s a 4TP swing and you only need 16 to win – Andy has a fortitude of 4, so if he loses any of it he is broken; but on the other hand it is all locked down in extremely resilient elements, and his Tzeentch characters are pretty good at breaking the opposing Fortitude. I think this list in the right matchups could score a lot of points and give away very few – with Blasted Standard about, even concentrated cannon fire doesn’t have high odds of getting the characters.

I can’t just look at the list in a vacuum though, one has to ask what it can do against the rest of the field. Against the more MSU armies, it should be pretty good – lots of powerful hunter-killer elements and few easy points. Against the Kairos-powered builds with their own hard combat units, I’m less sure – the Warrior unit when properly deathstarred-up is hard, sure – very hard in fact – but can it cope with the plaguebearers and/or an opponent’s own warrior deathstar backed by powerful combat buffs? I’m just not sure. It can, I suppose, play defensively and look not to lose by much (3 characters in building, one floating about hunting the backfield, could in theory work for example – but I’ve not thought it through exhaustively).
Should Beat: Craig Johnson, Steve Follows, Mike Newman, Marcus Lake, Zach Martin, Amit Hindocha, Stuart Hawkins, Tom Harris, Dom Pemberton, Nav Hussain
Close Matchups: Hristo, Raf Harbinson,
Should Lose To: Luke Morton, Russ Veal, Terry Pike, Will Goodwin, (though against many of these can keep things small by correct use of buildings if the dice roll for table sides comes up right).

Ian: Andy is known for his slightly quirky style - he takes powerful lists and puts his own twist on them.  This list disappoints me in that he didn’t bring his famed Hell Fire sword [don’t worry, as someone who has been beaten like an unfortunately-haired step child by his current Lord, he doesn’t need a flamy-poky stick], however this wall of Tzentch ward saves boosts the list’s power and Andy has one “Andy” pick which has to be the Warshrine [absolutely brilliant, shocked you don’t see it more!].  This list should do well, it’s very hard to get the points off the 3+ ward characters and it can stay back and use the magic and cannon or go forward using the fast elements.  I feel a stubborn crown and another point of fortitude would have benefitted this list lots and had these been present I would predict an even stronger finish.  If this list draws several empire it could all go horribly wrong.
Sturgess guess 5/16

Raf: Andy, everyone’s favourite evil doctor (though it is interesting we all assume he is evil, and that he accepts this… the more I think about it, the more I worry…), is running a list that is actually relatively normal for him (he has been running a variation on the theme for a little while). I was surprised to see no Archeon in the list to be honest. Incredibly solid list with tough tough characters. Played tightly, it technically has the potential to not lose a game all weekend…
Prediction: Top Quarter

Luke Morton (UK Number 1 [well, that’s depressing! ;)])

Jake: While this looks like a medium between Andy’s list, and the armies piloted by Terry and Will, in practice it can play a little differently, since it has quite significantly more powerful magic, letting it do a lot more damage at range while playing defensively. The disclord also gives it the potential to hunt down Fortitude for the 4TP bonus, while keeping other points safe and scoring some with magic for the win.

Don’t get me wrong – against other armies it’ll be shoving those Warriors in their face for the big points, backed by magical artillery and combat buffs as needed. Lots of tricks in the army too, but I won’t reveal them all as that’d be rather impolite.

Spellshield on the Disclord is pretty big, I have to say. And for those wondering how Kairos fares against Empire, I point out the line of sight blocking Herdstone.
Should Beat: Andy Potter, Craig Johnson, Russ Veal, Steve Follows, Mike Newman, Marcus Lake, Zach Martin, Tom Harris, Dom Pemberton, Rafael Harbinson (though I think small), Nav Hussain
Close Matchups: Terry Pike, Will Goodwin, Amit Hindocha, Hristo
Should Lose To:

Ian: This purveyor of filth has really taken this to the extreme, a similar list to Andy’s but then he drops all the chariots and Hell Cannon and fits in Kairos [yay…..]and a herd-stone [yay…].  Luke is unashamedly [proudly I would say!] That Guy that bought the Horrors and the Herd-stone, he’s even clever enough to have put 2 bray shamans on death in the list so they can be guaranteed purple sun leaving the initiative 1 Kairos to not need to take risks.  He intelligently uses the lord for blocking as well with that Crown of Command.  Bad match up vs Russ Veal with Malekith, and a couple of other tight ones, needs to be careful of his breaking point, but if he avoids this I think he could do well
Sturgess guess 1/16 [really?! Surprised by this]
Raf: Luke, Luke, Luke, the gobby so and so… ;). I was expecting *more* from this list somehow (mainly because he won’t shut up about how good it is). That being said, it is obvious a very good list. Too many points in (and far too reliant on) magic for my liking really, but solid anyway. This list *should* struggle to push for big wins against some of the lists out there… That being said, it is nice and simple, and you could give it to your pet hamster to use ;)
Prediction: Top Quarter

Craig Johnson

Jake: A very solid, fairly standardish Lizards list from a pre-Endtimes environment. The question being whether it can cope with the new style of game, and with the metagame of the field. While often viewed as a weaker choice, in actual fact Focus of Mystery has been doing very solidly for me recently (though weaker than Death, or uncomped Life, in many situations). It’s also very solid against the Plaguebearer-star-based lists, from regular practice games (though I wasn’t running Temple Guard).

No Chameleons is interesting – I always like to see a unit present to clear space for Vanguards. I’m also dubious about Luckstone over Dragonbane Gem on one of the vets, where skullcannons are likely to be a decent part of the meta and Metal magic is growing in popularity. Maybe Craig has guessed better than I would though – only 2 lists with skullcannons in the field.

I think Craig does have some chance here – but the Empire matchup is a worrying one, with several mounted vets to give up points. Life-powered Temple Guard can usually chew through Empire armies, if the Tanks can be kept out the way (or eaten by the Oldblood), but with High’s lack of combat impacting spells, it might be tight as to how many Temple Guard survive. Still – Arcane Unforging remains amazing in the field, there remain some shooting targets, and TG still fight pretty well. A classic test, really, of if a pre-End Times list can cope with the new environment. My honest suspicion? Yes, but it’s more matchup-dependent than it used to be, and harder to play too. Against some of the lists here, it’ll be a tight judgement call about how defensive or otherwise to be with the Temple Guard.
Should Beat: Raf Harbinson, Tom Harris, Nav Hussain
Close Matchups: Russ Veal, Terry Pike, Will Goodwin, Steve Follows, Marcus Lake, Hristo, Dom Pemberton, Zach Martin, Amit Hindocha, Mike Newman
Should Lose To: Andy Potter, Luke Morton,

Ian: Fat Craig is everyone’s ‘Booo boy’ when Mr Curry isn’t around, but this pantomime villain can certainly play a little and has proven time and time again not to discount him.  However this Lizard list is just OK really, don’t get me wrong it’s a nicely balanced list and the same we have all played before (Slann, Tetto, 3 cowboys, cloud and temple guard [its called the Raf Special ;)]). However this is an End Times, [almost] uncomped Warhammer filth fest and I just don’t think it quite cuts it, although you need to get the deathstar [most flattering description of Temple Guard I have heard in a good long while!] to break its fortitude.  Now I know why I didn’t want to do this job, hope you prove me wrong but sorry mate.
Sturgess guess 14/16

Raf: Craig always does his best when he is using one of my lists, so he will probably win this event ;). Craig and I agreed on three things during list writing: Lizards are out-gunned in End Times poker, lots of “Super” Characters will be present, and people will be brining cannons to deal with them… Two out of 3 aint bad.
It’s a very good list for a standard event – though the Lore on the Slann is a bit mehish. I think people need to bear some stuff in mind – Lizards tend to look worse than they are. This list has the realistic potential to beat the Wood Elves, High Elves, Chaos Warrior and maybe even Empire Lists out there. Do not underestimate (no pressure there mate! ;) )
Prediction: Top Half


Russ Veal

Jake: To contrast to the previous, Russ has embraced the End Times and taken a super-character. Interesting, in many ways, that nobody else has done the same. As always when spending 1000pts on a character, it’ll come down to how well he performs – the list has a lot of tricks, with the potentially quite resilient (vs certain threats) and Mindrazor-enabled Darkshards being very mobile. In practice though it remains very possible to pin them down (if I recall correctly the special move can’t take them through units), and without Mindrazor support a lot of the field just takes them off for a lot of points. Malekith is very hard, but most people have brought the tools to worry him – lots of magical ranged damage, which he really doesn’t like. I find this list hard to evaluate on paper to be honest, because I haven’t seen it in play and don’t know just how well the support elements can protect the Darkshards, and how effective the shooting is. Fortitude of 4 means it doesn’t take much to lose those tournament points.

It must be noted, though, that there are armies in the field that Malekith can just push at – he has a huge amount of raw power, and it may come down to just how effective that is. Without some direct play experience, I just can’t say. This means my predictions below may be way off…
Should Beat: Andy Potter, Steve Follows, Amit Hindocha, Dom Pemberton, Tom Harris, Nav Hussain
Close Matchups: Craig Johnson, Terry Pike, Will Goodwin, Marcus Lake, Zach Martin, Hristo, Raf Harbinson
Loses To: Luke Morton, Mike Newman,

Ian: “The Face” - having had the pleasure of playing Russ just the once I realised he is more of a smiley face than a gamey one [don’t tell him that!]. Russ is the only person at the event to be ballsy [really? We are going with “ballsy”?] enough to take a “Super Character”.  Whether this gamble pays off I honestly don’t know but as I look around some people better be Searing Dooming this dude because they have little else to hurt him.  I love that he is supported by a Twilight peg guy [Edward or Jacob?] to mop up skill cannons etc, and the Warlocks are a solid choice, but then other than the Scroll I’ll be honest I don’t like the use of the World Dragon I think I’d have gone for a mobile BSB.  The Dark Shards will be interesting and can be pushed using the shadow ability as a combat unit if necessary with Mindrazor.  Anyway I think the player is better than the list, and the list is stronger than I thought at first glance so [sounds like a dangerous combo!]
Sturgess guess 6/16

Raf: The Face is never someone I bet against, as long time readers will know. He has brought the funtimes with Malekith (I was expecting Maggot Lord Spam, so this caught me out). No one *really* knows how good the Eternity King is – the mobility power is incredible, and he obviously lays a mighty smack down if needed. I rate him as the best “super” character under this comp (Nagash being comped out of playability). I am surprised the mage is not on foot – would have expected Banner of World Dragon + a 3-spell High Mage to make that DarkShard unit a pseudo death star. Failing that I expected some Life to do healing duties. Even the *answers* to Malekith are not really answers – sure, Searing Doom, but he has a lot of wounds, and is mostly safe in combat.
Prediction: Top Quarter.

Terry Pike

Jake: A classic list this, and it was tearing up the metagame pre End Times. I actually think it comes out of it still pretty powerful – Kairos is still horrid, and Sheffield tables offer up reasonable guarantees of places to hide. Something that surprises people who haven’t seen the matchup playout is that this build typically utterly destroys Empire armies, as they can’t get a solid hit on Kairos and the plaguebearer star walks through their army (though as always controlling steam tanks can be an issue – cannons help, as do the Greater Gifts, especially combined with Mindrazor or Savage Beasts.) Given the Masters metagame, that leaves the list looking fairly strong in quite a few matches. This said, some of the other armies can give it a few more issues. The Lizards, with High magic, do surprisingly well against it (though I’ve not tested that out with less Skinks and more Temple Guard). It has to be very careful against Russ’ Darkshards with Kairos, and the Wood Elf shooting can be a right pain. Not sure how it copes vs Teclis either – though it has previously proven able to cope with World Dragon powered infantry, the magical flexibility may change things a little.
Should Beat: Andy Potter, Steve Follows, Tom Harris, Dom Pemberton, Nav Hussain
Close Matchups: Luke Morton, Russ Veal, Craig Johnson, Will Goodwin, Hristo, Raf Harbinson
Loses To: Amit Hindocha, Zach Martin, Marcus Lake, Mike Newman

Ian: Pink dice Pike or 22 Tournament Terry, the most regular (or certainly most [in]famous) Kairos user in the UK, not surprisingly made the Masters [be more impressed if he didn’t with that many events with Daemons!]. Last year he was second - a result which shocked some people myself included, but this genuinely friendly guy certainly knows how to push Daemons [his actually tend to stand still a lot…].  This list is different to others I’ve seen Terry play though in that he left all but 1 unit of Horrors at home.  Double skill cannon, Kairos, Beasts and a Plaguebearer death star - it sounds horrendous, but I think its missing fast threat and I can see this getting pushed at, I’m a little concerned the list is super vulnerable to Purple sun.  I like Terry but I don’t think a player with a losing record to me can be taken that seriously :P [boom #headshot]
Sturgess guess 4/16

Raf: I am disappointed that Terry did not manage to get his KFC monstrosity painted in time. We are instead left with a standard Daemon list, the particulars of which Jake has covered fully. And he has Kairos, which is never something to underestimate. A bit of a nothing list though, as far as commentary goes. If magic does not work he will struggle to really hurt the more mobile armies.
Prediction: Bottom Half (Because someone has to be down there)

Steve Follows

Jake: Again a fairly classic pre-End Times list. Miniature Light Council (though only S5 and S6), big Halberd block with a few support elements, cannons, Tanks. Certainly has lots of firepower. Still, the question is how it copes against the rest of the field. Lack of Van Horstmann’s Speculum is, I suspect, a bit of a pain. The army has a fair bit of Fortitude, though bound up mainly in quite small units – some of the armies may be able to hunt these down for easy tournament points, though they’ll be taking fire along the way.

I think a lot of Steve’s success or otherwise will rest in how good or otherwise Tanks really are in this metagame. He can’t stop a dedicated hard combat unit’s push without them – most of the units in the rest of the field will laugh off cannon fire and a Banishment or two. Possibly the lack of light support units around will be a saviour – makes tying them down rather more difficult.
Should Beat:  Er, oh dear, sorry Steve…
Close Matchups: Craig Johnson, Hristo, Raf Harbinson, Tom Harris, Mike Newman, Nav Hussain
Should Lose To: Terry Pike, Russ Veal, Andy Potter, Luke Morton, Will Goodwin, Dom Pemberton, Marcus Lake, Zach Martin, Amit Hindocha

Ian: OMG I used to be mates with Steve but 4 cannons and 2 banishments means we are no longer on talking terms.  This is an interesting Empire list (well as interesting as Banishment council empire gets) in that Steve has literally tried to get everything in his list so nothing is quite at full power.  So he has double banishment but its only S5/6, 40 halberds but if the War Altar dies no hatred, 2 sets of Demis but only 3s.  However he has importantly managed 2 Stanks which I think are unbelievably good.  My biggest concern with this list is I’m really not a fan of the War Altar general, especially when the general and 5 knights will mean Steve breaks.  Anyway I wish Steve the best but I don’t hold high hopes especially as I have never seen him play Empire before
Sturgess guess 13/16

Raf: Steve’s list is good. As mentioned, it lacks a killer *something*, but with a bit of luck Steam Tanks still ruin hobbies. Doing a bit of everything is a Good Thing – he doesn’t have to push, but can, which, after all, is the key to not losing big. Solid list. How will it do in field is anyone’s guess, but I would be surprised if it finished in the placings.
Prediction: Bottom Half


Will Goodwin

Jake: A lot of what I’d say here has been already covered under Terry’s list, as the two are so similar. There are differences – Terry has three Heralds to Will’s effective two (counting Epidemus). A lot will hence depend on what the Nurgle stuff kills – I suspect in a lot of cases Epidemus will be rather win-more, and I’d rather have the additional heralds. The extra Beast might be important here and there, as might the 4 Plaguebearers, but more than overcoming this to my view is the presence of Terry’s Greater Gift, which (with Savage Beasts or the like) turns the herald with it (and hence multiple wounds: D3) into an utter monster in some otherwise difficult situations. Both lists are basically very similar though – while Will’s is slightly the worse of the two in my view, there isn’t *that* much in it, and matchups, dice and play on the day will make more impact I imagine.
Should Beat: Andy Potter, Steve Follows, Tom Harris, Dom Pemberton, Nav Hussain
Close Matchups: Luke Morton, Russ Veal, Craig Johnson, Will Goodwin Terry Pike, Hristo, Raf Harbinson
Loses To: Amit Hindocha, Zach Martin, Marcus Lake, Mike Newman

Ian: Will was known as Empire player when I first came onto the tournament scene but these days has been winning events Dark elves and pushing around Daemons.  Very similar list to Terry’s but with the addition of Epidemus this looks similar to the list Steve Follows won Reading Warfare with.   Solid list, solid player could miss those Plague Drones like Terry I feel, and I can only think the Daemon players are all playing double cannon because they thought the “Super Characters” would be here, but there is only 1.  Can see this doing ok, but not setting the world on fire tbh.  I fancy Terry to win the Daemon off just because of experience with the list.
Sturgess guess 7/16

Raf: Everything I have said about Terry’s list could be applied to Will (other than painting Karl Franz – knowing the filthmonger Will is, he already has that painted). I think it is better than Terry’s if only because there will be at least one game where Epi will shine.
Prediction: Top Half

Mike Newman

Jake: An absolute classic of a High Elf build, very defensive, very “safe”, and now augmented with the significant magical firepower of Teclis. World Dragon is very powerful in the field, but the list remains vulnerable to stuff that can actually fight the Lions, and/or assassinate the characters. I think possibly when doing matchups I may have underestimated Teclis’ combat buffing power a bit – normally White Lions are very vulnerable to attrition and being either shot down by huge volumes of firepower, or having characters assassinated out of them, or dying to stuff like steam tanks, impact hits, and so on. I suspect Teclis helps there rather. Still, the RBTs don’t have *that* much firepower, and the army has quite a few available points outside the White Lions. This is another one I don’t have a good feel for the capabilities of, just because I don’t have a handle on how much Teclis impacts an otherwise established list. Certainly I think he helps a lot vs Will and Terry, where Purple Sun (and Destroy Scroll) really help the matchup vs what the normal Light-powered build does.
Should Beat: Russ Veal, Dom Pemberton, Tom Harris,
Close Matchups: Will Goodwin, Hristo, Craig Johnson, Terry Pike, Raf Harbinson, Steve Follows, Zach Martin, Amit Hindocha, Nav Hussain
Loses To: Andy Potter, Luke Morton, Marcus Lake

Ian: Mikey is a very relaxed player but don’t let this fool you he is a clever guy [does this mean most relaxed players are idiots? ;) ]. The painting Maestro has once again picked High Elves as his weapon of choice and in fairness although I hate the style of list he is using as I am a much more aggressive high elf player, I can see its power.  The addition of Teclis from Mikey over the Loremaster he usually takes I find an interesting one, as it certainly sets out the whitelions as defensive only [interesting point].  Love that Mikey makes the Sea Helm work and I think in a meta of avoidance elves and daemons this double banishment [no double banishment! Let’s not start this debate again…] list could prove very, very potent indeed.  A very brave choice (like last years but that was a bad gamble) because I feel if end times characters were everywhere Mikey may have been over whelmed but as they are not… [disagree… seems very safe list….]
Sturgess guess 2/16

Raf: Mikey’s list has a bit of everything and is, I believe, the most well rounded list at the event. Potential S6 Banishment, plus all the fun that Teclis is bringing to the party will be dangerous. Pseudo immunity to most magic coming the other way is also massive. Not discussed much is the fact he has the tools to hold up the single unit armies for a good while with his chaff, which could provide opportunities to combo in and do the fun times.
Prediction: Top Quarter


Marcus Lake

Jake: It looked pretty weak to me, then I saw the TWF post about the error that left a great eagle and a total of 18 waywatchers off the end! That changes things quite a bit. This army has an apocalyptic quantity of shooting backed by a toolbox of options, and some nasty hunter-killer characters. It will possibly get run over by some of the harder to shoot off stuff out there, though, especially if it isn’t particularly susceptible to the cloak of twilight. Marcus’ Fortitude is also fairly easy to break, as these things go. It’s a solid, scary list – but there are a few things in the field I suspect it may just fold over to if Marcus isn’t careful.
Should Beat: Mike Newman, Will Goodwin, Terry Pike, Steve Follows, Raf Harbinson, Tom Harris, Dom Pemberton, Zach Martin, Nav Hussain
Close Matchups: Craig Johnson, Russ Veal, Hristo, Amit Hindocha
Loses To: Andy Potter, Luke Morton

Ian: Marcus is well known for his consumption of Jaegar and his friendly approach to gaming [and for his gorgeous Yeti models].  Don’t let this fool you though the New England boy has picked the best bits from the elf books and put them into one msu army.  I think one of his mages could be some Wildriders or a Phoenix but overall Marcus should do well with this list as it’s just an improvement on his normal Dark Elf list he has done so well with.  My only big concern is with a field not wanting to give up easy points this elven msu gives up quite a few.
Sturgess guess 8/16

Raf: Marcus has brought ALL the guns to the fight. Good magic defence in scroll + sceptre, a couple of hard hitting characters and then lots of shooting. Oh, and Warlocks, because why not? I actually think he has invested too many points in Waywaters… that’s a massive investment that could come under serious threat from the magic missiles flying around. The list is good, but wonder how well it will do against the tough as nails blocks out there (though he should not lose big). He is also only 22 Elf bodies away from breaking each game.
Prediction: Bottom Half


Zach Martin

Jake: Zach has been doing well with this style of list for a while. They tend to be mobile and have a large amount of firepower combined with a terrifying magic phase, but if something does make it through (and can weather the wild riders) it can spell big trouble. The differences between the matchups for this and Amit’s list come down to magic, mainly (though the eagles and trueflight vs hagbane make differences in certain matchups too). In general, the wood elves were among the harder armies for me to do predictions for.

Got to say, I really do like High magic in the Wood Elves, and would far rather see it over Metal. Other than that, an incredibly solid offering – but likely to have trouble with the likes of warriors or dark elf characters pushing at it. Lizards, if they shove at it, can also prove problematic – though being able to block vanguard helps a lot.
Should Beat: Will Goodwin, Terry Pike, Steve Follows, Andy Potter, Luke Morton, Raf Harbinson, Tom Harris, Dom Pemberton
Close Matchups: Mike Newman, Russ Veal, Craig Johnson, Hristo, Nav Hussain
Loses To: Marcus Lake, Amit Hindocha,

Ian: This quiet American seems to have come from nowhere to podiums at events.  I’ve only played Zach the once but he seemed very thoughtful in his approach to the game.  His list is pretty much what all wood elf lists are magic, Way Watchers and Wildriders, however at least for this list he has no true flight arrows which I feel could haunt him vs the 2 Lizard [mwahahaha…?] lists.  Solid player solid enough list and could do well if he gets the right draws, but just seems a little uninspiring tbh I think it may get run at and over run in a few matches here.
Sturgess guess 12/16

Raf: Someone mention too many points spent on Waywatchers?! This is a classic list, and therefore is classically good. Some magic goodness, followed by Pew Pew and then some crazy charging nutters. The Australians love this stuff. I know Jake was very positive on this, but I am not that impressed. I am not sure it cuts it on the End Times battlefield – too many things are not *that* worried about that much the list does. Not sure the others mentioned it, but starting every game with broken fortitude is a Bad Thing. Combine that with somehow keeping people out of buildings in the Watchtowers and I worry.
Prediction: Bottom Quarter


Amit Hindocha

Jake: As mentioned above, superficially pretty similar to Zach’s list – why change a winning formula? Taking more Trueflight over Hagbane changes a few of the matchups, and the magic setup also has an impact – I reckon High/Shadow is a pretty good choice. The eagles help in a number of matchups, though this Masters is full of flying threats which reduces their impact.
Should Beat: Zach Martin, Will Goodwin, Terry Pike, Steve Follows, Raf Harbinson, Dom Pemberton, Nav Hussain
Close Matchups: Marcus Lake, Mike Newman, Hristo, Luke Morton, Craig Johnson, Tom Harris,
Loses To: Andy Potter, Russ Veal

Ian: The smallest guy in the tournament scene was winding me up in August saying he had already qualified for masters.  I’m interested to see what my friend Amit can do with this list which is similar to Zachs but that adds the Moonstone, True Flight arrows and extra Wildriders, which at least I believe stops the list getting run over as easily and covers for bad match ups a little better.  Winning big though could be very difficult especially against the death star lists.
Sturgess guess 10/16


Raf: I like Amit’s list. It has the best magic lore combo (in my ever-humble opinion). It has banners up the whats-it-called, it has 3 Wild Rider units… In fact, I LOVE this list (as much as this author is able to love any Elf list). Amit is also a highly capable player who has just spent the last 5 months or so taking fun lists for the sake of fun. I am going to back him to do well at his maiden Masters.
Prediction: Top Half


Hristo Nikolov

Jake: Hristo’s list rather breaks my metrics. The list is self-evident: it sits in a tower, gives away no points, and scores (if the opponent is sensible and plays defensively) a few points here and there from magic, ending up with a small win in every game – in a field like the Masters, especially with Sheffield-style 16-0 scoring, this can end up getting close to or even on the podium, depending how well the magic goes off. I’ve put this down as “close matchup” for everyone, but in practice there’ll be a range of results from 10 to 13 or so, somewhat dice and army dependent. Hristo should do well.
Close Matchups: Everyone.

Ian: Hristo is renowned [and much… loved?] for being a 3 cannon 2 block dwarf player, this will not help his reputation.  However I think the Bulgarian ETC captain may have broken the comp.  Basically in any event using uncomped or near uncomped Warhammer 2 look out sirs from the big spells is just encouraging deathstars.  Hristo wrote a nice death star (Teclis, Alarielle, Level 4 death etc) then bought it a house. Unless this unit is panics out of the house or is dwellered off I don’t see how it loses.  However I think this could sometimes struggle to get points and for that reason alone
Sturgess guess 3/16

Raf: Good Ol’ Hristo. I am jealous. Not of the list per se, but of the ability, or perhaps inclination, to just flat-out write whatever he thinks is the best possible list for the pack, something I can never do (I tend to stubbornly decide on an army or concept that I want to try and work, regardless of pack, and then fine tune (sometimes)). The list has had caused a lot of ribbing thus far – understandable perhaps, it is hardly “fun”. I, as it happens also don’t think it is necessarily *that* strong either. Force through one of the hit-all-models spells and there is a chance to knock them out of their tower. Dwellers will hit 4 characters after all (and one of which will probably be Allarielle if he is worried about being broken), and should kill half the unit, two and you have half the points for the 65 archers. Hard to do of course with Hristo sitting on two scrolls, but with 6 dice flying around (and something like Kairos rerolling a casting die) it is not *that* unlikely you can force through two such spells. It all comes down to how well the list picks up points from the opposition – there are some lists he could make hay (assuming he is rolling hot on winds of magic), others less so. It is important to note that the terrain will likely include a lot of line of sight blocking goodness.

All this aside though, the big trick of the list is none of this. It is actually that it is so boring to face that instead of people deploying safe and losing narrowly in 20 minutes they will rush the list, at which point anything can happen.

Prediction: Top Half


Raf Harbinson [what. a. dude.]

Jake: Points denial Lizards. The magic setup is potentially very effective indeed – as it should be, for the points spent on it! Against some armies, the slow push of the Temple Guard (or not so slow, if Walk goes off) with the Oldblood to handle tanks and the like will prove their downfall. Against others, the TG will just not be hard enough to fight, or may suffer in the face of Purple Sun or similar. Without vets, the Wood Elves become much more of a problem (though High and Wandering are pretty good for damaging their small units). On the other hand, it doesn’t bleed points against Empire, and unlike Craig’s list, has the buffs to fight them head-on. I’d make a few tweaks to this – and may yet, as I’m contemplating taking something similarish to Sheffield. We’ll see. Still solid, but has some problem matchups. One notable advantage is a chance against Terry and Will’s lists, though lack of testing with the temple guard variant has kept me from listing it favourable.
Should Beat:  Tom Harris, Dom Pemberton,
Close Matchups: Hristo, Will Goodwin, Terry Pike, Russ Veal, Mike Newman, Steve Follows, Andy Potter, Nav Hussain
Should Lose To: Amit Hindocha, Zach Martin, Marcus Lake, Craig Johnson, Luke Morton (though I believe small)

Ian: Don’t know who this chump is, but he gets to the masters every year.  On a serious note Raf’s list looks like a walk back 18 months to the old Lizardman book and double Slann [sigh… the Good Ol Days!]. The rest of the list is a cloud and a block of Temple Guard, I’m guessing the reason there are no cowboys is Raf knew there would be lots of cannons [yup!], however I’m worried this takes away a lot from the list [yup! ;( ]and that aggressive lists may just try and run at Raf, guess we will see how the Brazillian love god holds up. I don’t think Raf will ever let me write on this blog again [it’s ok, you should see my predictions!]
Sturgess guess 11/16

Raf: Unashamedly the worse list at the event by a nautical mile. Dropping the vets was a very last minute thing when guessing the number of cannons in play, and I wanted to test out how a double Slann, no Vet list would work. I also got the meta game wrong (I may blame Craig for this), expecting Karl Franz and the like to be out in force. I would honestly be surprised to win any games this weekend, despite the contributors on this article doing their best to suck up (which I appreciate!).
Prediction: Bottom Quarter


Tom Harris

Jake: Superficially very similar to Steve Follows’ build, but only one tank and only one cannon is a big change. Instead of those toys, Tom has a far more tooled up War Altar (with the always useful Speculum), an extra demi in each unit, another Lv1 Light and a slightly different Core setup. Again this changes the matchups – the Speculum helps against certain things, but the lack of artillery firepower (and space denial from the second tank) will hurt rather a bit, I suspect.
Should Beat: Er, again, sorry Tom! I don’t seem to favour Empire much here…
Close Matchups: Hristo, Amit Hindocha, Steve Follows, Dom Pemberton, Nav Hussain
Should Lose To: Raf Harbinson, Zach Martin, Marcus Lake, Mike Newman, Will Goodwin, Terry Pike,  Craig Johnson, Luke Morton, Andy Potter, Russ Veal

Ian: The England coach used to once be renowned for pushing large targets at people then too many got cannoned off, and this year he decided to try and fill Dan Thomas’ shoes [literally?]. Tom is a very mathematical player and empire suits him but I just think he has this comp slightly wrong.  Tom normally has a no War Altar and I guess the War Altar is in to combat the non-existent super characters, I think with no other changes to his list though the balance doesn’t feel right and he won’t do as well as he otherwise could have.
Sturgess guess 9/16

Raf: I love Tom, and he will have a very clear idea of how he will beat each and any of the other lists at this event (Tom is always sure of such things). He will understand if I say I haven’t got that much to say about this list – it’s an Empire list, and, with the best will in the world, they all look the same to me. Its such a traditional Empire list that I have to believe that people bringing the big guns will be ready to deal with it…
Prediction: Bottom Half

Dom Pemberton

Jake: Certainly the least similar of the Empire builds. Two huge Halberd bricks stacked with characters and supported by three cannons and a tank. I’ve always liked dual Lv4 Empire builds, but this doesn’t look to be one of the strongest I’ve seen – just not enough on the table. Halberds can fight better than people expect, but not *that* much better when they’re also having to protect your artillery and characters, and I don’t trust the cannons and tank alone to pick up the points in this field. Some stuff can’t go near it, and some armies may struggle to get points – but I think once anything solid in combat gets in, the army starts to fall apart. I could be surprised – it is easy to underestimate Empire infantry – so we’ll see.
Should Beat: Steve Follows
Close Matchups: Tom Harris, Hristo, Craig Johnson, Nav Hussain
Should Lose To: Raf Harbinson, Mike Newman, Amit Hindocha, Zach Martin, Marcus Lake, Russ Veal, Terry Pike, Will Goodwin, Luke Morton, Andy Potter

Ian: I remember meeting Dom for the first time and thinking what a gobbie Aussie he was [some truth here… ;) ], well I still do but I was really happy to see him make his first masters until I read his list.  Double Halberds are great but no real support pieces for him, if people reach him passed the wall of Cannon balls and Banishments, I think he will fold fast. I guess Dom was hunting super characters but they are not there and I can see this list getting a couple of big wins but getting a few big losses.
Sturgess guess 15/16

Raf: I like the no-nonsense approach of Dom’s list. 3 Cannons, a Stank, lots of characters and a couple of units. What else do you need? Unfortunately for Dom I think he also expected the field to be full of big flappy demigods, and am not sure the list has *quite* got what it takes to take the field by storm. If pushed to guess I would expect him to be chilling out with me on the bottom tables over a cold drink at the end of the event.
Prediction: Bottom Quarter


Nav Hussain

Jake: Ooh, interesting – last minute entry, and Beastmen too. Very cool. The Doombulls with 3+ ward saves are very hard indeed, and have the Chalice to protect them a bit too. Undeath is interesting – fun to play with I imagine, but I don’t rate it hugely in an environment where raised models give away victory points, and in any case think it is merely mid-strength in most armies even without that – it needs boosts like certain special characters give to push it over the edge. The field is full of magic missiles and in particular Light magic, too. Other than that, there are loads of small units to give away points, though some of them also hit pretty hard against the right targets before they do. Slugtongue is brilliant (if slightly costly), and could win games in certain of the matchups outright with a good set of rolls, but it really can’t be relied upon. I suspect this army will do ok against things that give away their character points to assassination runs, or will get overrun and lose small units, and lose to anything with no soft points for it to get hold of (which, sadly, is a fair bit of the field).
Should Beat:

Close Matchups: Mike Newman, Steve Follows, Zach Martin, Hristo, Raf Harbinson, Tom Harris, Dom Pemberton
Should Lose To: Andy Potter, Luke Morton, Craig Johnson, Russ Veal, Terry Pike, Will Goodwin, Marcus Lake, Amit Hindocha,

Ian: [Ian did his write up prior to Nav’s late entry unfortunately]

Raf: Love. This. List. What is not to love?! I mean sure, he seems to be lacking an actual *army*, but Doombulls are cool. Lore of Undeath is an interesting option, and some Hexwraiths could really cause issues for some armies. I worry that there are too many cannons/magic missiles out there, even for a 3++ Doombull to survive. That being said, bunch of ambushing units could threaten artillery parks (if he rolls well enough on the table edges). I think this will be fun and different, but don’t think it will end up doing all that well, and *should* bleed points.

Prediction: Bottom Quarter

Nav has now dropped out.

Mark Wildman

Unfortunately Nav dropped out as I was about to publish. It looks like Mark will fill in, and I will update the blog as soon as have his list – expect it to include Imrik!

And indeed he did! I love Imrik :_)

Imrik, Crown Prince of Caledor 810
Spellweaver: Dispel Scroll; Level 4 Wizard; Lore of Death; Elven Steed 265

Master: Cloak of Twilight; heavy armour; lance; Sea Dragon cloak; shield; Dark Pegasus 188
Noble: Banner of the World Dragon; lance; heavy armour; shield; Battle Standard; Elven Steed (Ithilmar barding) 172

12 Glade Guard: hagbane tips; standard bearer 190
10 Dark Riders: shields; repeater crossbows; Herald; musician; standard bearer 230
12 Glade Guard: hagbane tips; musician; standard bearer (Gleaming Pennant) 205

Reaper Bolt Thrower 70
Reaper Bolt Thrower 70

2,200 points

Despite my love of all things Imrik (and all things Mark!) I think it is fair to say that Mark probably wont do that well with this list :)

I love it... but yeah... (though people said that about his Skaven list last year too...). Miracles aside he can join me in the bottom quarter (...) at the end of the weekend. 


So, after all that I guess some sort of conclusion/overall guess is in order, people demand such things. Annoyingly, as mentioned above, Nav has now dropped out, but lets, for now, pretend he hasn’t:

Without any more blathering, let us look at our experts’ opinions:


If we very arbitrarily count a should-beat as 2 points, a close match as 1 and a should-lose-to as 0 (very crude, given the asymmetric scoring, but it’ll do for comparison), we end up with:

In joint 15th: Dom Pemberton and Tom Harris.
In 14th: Steve Follows. Apparently I just don’t rate Empire in this field.
In 13th: Nav Hussain.
In 12th: Raf Harbinson. Maybe I shouldn’t be so mean to the blog author if I want to keep getting writing slots…
In joint 10th: Mikey and Hristo. This is a clear anomaly of the scoring system – in practice Hristo will place much higher, I’m idly guessing 4th or 5th. Mikey is also a strong player with a good list – I’ve put down lots of close matchups for him, but would expect more to go in his favour than not.
In joint 7th: all of Will, Terry and Craig.
In 6th: Malekith. Er, I mean Russ.
In 5th: Amit. I actually thought his list was stronger than Zach’s, but the scores don’t lie. (Maybe.)
In 4th: Zach. Just outside the podium, but all the “wood elf” armies have several strong matchups – in practice, though, I expect at least one of them to fall notably lower than this after a bad run.
In joint 2nd: Marcus. Strong list, but will Marcus have one of his occasional hiccoughs? Also Andy. Just a step away from retaining the title, and it could happen. Save for:
In 1st: Luke Morton. Well, he has the form this year, and the list to do it – but have I been caught up in the ego field? Will the famous Morton dice finally fail him? Will the new list turn out to be all it is made out to be? Find out next week, same Raf-time, same Raf-channel…

Ian’s Conclusion

This year for me the masters is very disappointing, a couple of cool lists but generally pretty boring and safe.  I’m not inspired by the comp pack for the event, I would have sooner un-comped than the 7/8 of the way there we have and it’s a shame to see a terribly narrow width of armies.  No orcs, undead, beasts except a herdstone [written prior to Nav’s late entry and subsequent withdrawl], ogres, brets or dwarfs at the event.  I know the guys will enjoy it in Derby and congrats to whoever wins, maybe it’s my age [you old git] or the End Times but just seems to be something missing this year, and I think that is units of troops! Now to wait a week and see how bad my predictions are!

1st          Luke
2nd        Mikey
3rd         Hristo
4th         Terry
5th         Andy
6th         Russ
7th         Will
8th         Marcus
9th         Tom
10th       Amit
11th       Raf
12th       Zach
13th       Steve
14th       Craig
15th       Dom


I went for the easier quartile system (organised in a gut-feel order), because I cheat, and stating definitive opinions is against my religion. Most obvious thing is that I clearly don’t rate Wood Elves all that much, and that I refuse to back Luke to win it ;)

Q1          Mikey
Q2          Hristo
Q3          Will
Q4          Zach

In summary:
So, only time will tell if we were talking anything other than absolute rubbish!
I am looking forward to a weekend of drinking, playing and (it being in the North) being rained on.
Until next week (or until updated with Mark's list)...


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