The Gauntlet Opens.

Hey There folks!

For those who were wondering where my weekly reports have been recently, me and my wonderful girlfriend both turned 21 last week, so its been awfully manic for me.

Normal service will resume as of next wednesday, but for today I wanted to talk briefly about the new Iron Gauntlet format.

Iron What?

The Iron Gauntlet was Privateer Press’ unique format that ran as an “Alternative” To masters throughout the last year. The format was a bold new step to exploring new avenues of competitive play.

An enormous portion of the U.K player base have probably never played in the Iron Gauntlet. This is because the format was only really pushed over seas.

The format has been changed for the coming competitive season, and now that the dust has settled and people are actually playing the new format, I wanted to give my views on it.

Whats changed?

I won’t go into huge details about the changes, but essentially, the format holds very little similarity to last Seasons.

You turn up with 3 standard, 50 point masters list, with character restrictions applicable. You play a standard masters format tournament, until you have 4 players undefeated. (This can vary depending on tournament size).

The field then cuts to the top 4, those players get paired off and play in the “Gauntlet” Rounds. Players and their opponents in this round simultaneously decide which caster of their 3 they are going to play, and then have 20 minutes to write a 75 point list, including any of the models that they used in their masters lists.

There are certain finer nuances, but that is the general idea.

List construction

The first thing to think about in any tournament, especially one that has an entirely new format, is how to construct your list. The new Iron Gauntlet format puts immense importance on a players ability to construct lists.

Iron Gauntlet does something new with this, forcing a player to list build on the fly, and within a time limit.

How people approach list building in this format will be a very personal thing, but the main styles that i’ve seen so far have been;

– Creating solid 50 point lists, purely with the intention of getting yourself to the gauntlet rounds, and doing the best you can at 75

– Creating 75 point lists, and reverse engineering your 50 point lists to include those models. Often taking casters that scale better to reinforce this.

I don’t personally think any way of writing lists favours the format over others. However, I think its very important to remember, that only the top 4 players get to even experience the gauntlet rounds. If you aren’t prepared to get there, then devising your best 75 Point lists is worthless.

From a Protectorate point of view, I believe this format is won or lost at list construction for us. And its difficult. Seriously difficult. There is a lot of support that PoM has, that becomes exceptionally more useful at higher points levels. My best example of this is the reclaimer. A model that has almost never made it into my 50 point lists, but I would consider an auto-include in most 75 point lists.

Another interesting dilemma presented to PoM players, is warjack loadout. We’re a faction renowned for our warjacks, and many of them fair better in different matchups. However to have access to the full suite of them at 75, we have to be very careful with our list construction at 50.

Having access to, Judicator, Devout, Avatar, multiple Reckoners,  Redeemer, Arc Nodes, and a smattering of other character warjacks, is a serious points investment, even over 3 seperate 50 point lists.

Finally, warcasters that scale better into large point formats, should potentially be favoured. Sevvy 1 is probably the prime candidate for this format, and our factions all star. On the other side of the coin, High Reclaimer potentially struggles with this format greatly.

Overall I believe that its best served writing lists with casters that scale well, and at least attempt to include the support you want access to at 75 points, without putting so much emphasis onto them, that your 50 point lists suffer.

Is this healthy?

Last year, the Iron Gauntlet format, in the UK especially, didn’t fare very well. This was mostly due to the lack of Iron Gauntlet events available to UK players, and the few events that were available, were ran alongside Masters, the tried and tested format.

This year, we’ve been promise a significant increase in Iron Gauntlet events, and this has begun to show already. “Some” of our Iron Gauntlet Qualifying events have already been announced, and several practice events have sprung up.

Overall, new formats can only be a good thing for the competitive scene, and the community, as long as they are supported properly. Iron Gauntlet feels like the format the Privateer Press want to push as “The main event”

With such a firm schedule and structure, painting restrictions, the various streams and recordings, as well as the incredible trophy that was presented to this years winner, this seems like a format that is for the best of the best.

The way the format plays reflects that. Not only are Privateer Press challenging your gaming ability, but they’re challenging your ability to write lists, they’re pushing the hobby aspect of the game through painting restrictions, and they’re pushing your devotion to the game.

Iron Gauntlet is turning into a serious event. Where players at the top of their game, play their best caster, with access to their best models, in any variety they want, to best go toe to toe with their opponent. Player skill is being tested in almost the purest way possible with the new format.

So, Where to?

The question remains, whether the Iron Gauntlet format will change every year, whether this will just be their wild card event. I for one, hope it doesn’t.

I hope that privateer press can settle on new and exciting formats that players will readily have access to. My only trepidation is the fear of dividing an already quite small community (Comparably to other major competitive games)

Where as MTG has the player base to support 3 or 4 different formats regularly, and often simultaneously, I’m not sure if Warmachine does.

In spite of this, I hope that Privateer Press continues to develop new formats, and supports them the same way that masters and Iron Gauntlet are now being supported. Variety is the spice of life after all.

I’m one of the lucky people who will be attending smogcon in 2015, which will play host to Privateer Press and the UK’s biggest Iron Gauntlet qualifier. I plan on pushing this format as hard as possible, and will be sharing my journey as I go.

In the mean time, I’d love to hear peoples experience with the new format so far.

Join me next week, where I most likely rant about a game!

– Stem

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