Heading Beyond The Wall
On this Emerald Isle of ours, conventions are most often run by college gaming societies, with some notable exceptions. These have great advantages to them, they can often get a space for less than the going rate, and they have a ready stable of volunteers to help run the thing. The risk with them is that priorities and expectations among the organisers can change. Up in Belfast, the Queen’s University convention is called Q-Con. Back when I went to it first in 2007 it was mainly a gaming convention, but with quite a lot of anime and cosplay going on. Last year, the convention had grown but only in terms of these two elements. Wargaming in particular as a space-heavy pastime was feeling marginalised. So they broke away and formed their own convention just for them, called Nordicon. It uses the same amazing space as Q-Con, but instead of people in Sailor Moon costumes it’s exclusively wargamers.
As a member of Team Northern Ireland for the upcoming WTC, it was my duty and delight to attend. Bright and early on Saturday morning, Stu Who Learns From Forums and I were collected by Noel and we began the journey. Talk on the way up was about the Northern Irish meta, what lists we were bringing, and previous misadventures regarding the North. We got up to Belfast in good time, and then proceeded to drive at random (I had unwisely proclaimed I knew the way to Queen’s) until we found our location. Convenient parking and a short walk brought us to the fantastic Student Union building, and we were ready to go!
The tournament was being run by Northern Ireland Team Captain Mike, and the layout looked amazing. Every table was its own little space, two 6×4 tables put together with a 4×4 marked out with masking tape. We had 16 players, which made it the largest Warmachine tournament that Northern Ireland has ever had. A bunch of players had come up from the Republic, and the Northern players looked ready to give us a good fight.
I’ve more or less settled on my lists for the WTC, and I plan to play them at every tournament I can until October. A brainstorming session at the gaming shop ended with the following two lists and a list of what match-ups each list was for, all carefully catalogued in my little green book:
High Exemplar Kreoss (+5 warjack points)
* Reckoner – 8 points
Vessel of Judgement – 9 points
Max Exemplar Errants + UA – 10 points
Min Holy Zealots + UA – 6 points
Min Choir of Menoth – 2 points
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt – 4 points
Visgoth Juviah Rhoven & Honour Guard – 4 points
Covenant of Menoth -2 points
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios – 3 points
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – 2 points
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord -2 points
Vassal of Menoth – 2 points
Wracks – 1 point
As I expect to be playing against a lot of Cryx when it comes to WTC, this is my anti-incorporeal and troop spam list. Magic weapons are the order of the day. I played a similar list for the Irish Masters, with a Judicator in place of the Reckoner, Vessel and Wracks. The Vessel is still a pretty new addition for me; at this tournament my objective is to learn how to play it well, since placement is so important.
This is the list I plan to play most often, my column of match-ups has Cryx, Khador, Minions, Legion, Harbinger-based Protectorate, Retribution and Mercs with a big tick beside them.
Intercessor Kreoss (+5 warjack points)
* Fire of Salvation – 9 points
* Templar – 8 points
* Reckoner – 8 points
* Hierophant – 2 points
Max Temple Flameguard + UA – 8 points
Max Exemplar Vengers – 11 points
Min Choir – 2 points
Reclaimer – 2 points
Saxon Orrick – 2 points
Vassal of Menoth – 2 points
Wracks – 1 point
This list is really versatile and plans to hit hard and be difficult to remove. The Warpath shenanigans with the heavy warjacks means they are unpredictable, and I’ve been getting better at keeping the Vengers alive. Saxon Orrick is there to enable Kreoss to charge stuff. The Flameguard are the chaff, but they’re bothersome enough to drag a lot of attention!
The planned match-ups for the Intercessor are other non-Harbinger Protectorate lists, Cygnar, Skorne, Trollbloods, Convergence and Circle, and anyone who looks like they’re putting a colossal or gargantuan down across the table from me. And anyone who asks what Kreoss3 does.
I’ve been playing these two warcasters solidly for a year now, and I feel confident with them. There are still new tricks and traps I come across every time I play. For example, cavalry impact attacks are not a super-trample! Also, the Vessel of Judgment has tons of stuff that I haven’t gotten my head around since I’ve yet to get to ten games with it. Still, I have been playing quite a lot recently and many of my favourite podcasts have done handy Protectorate-related segments. I felt ready to fulfill my resolution of an even record for this tournament!
Game 1 vs Stuart from Scotland playing Khador – Old Witch
I haven’t met Stuart before so we have a little chat before the game. He’s been playing since October or so, and used to play Warhammer 40k. This is his first tournament so we go over the scenario and how list selection works. His two lists are pVlad and Old Witch, and he decides to go with Old Witch. His list has the Behemoth, Kazazy Assassins, Doom Reavers, the full Winter Guard Infantry loadout, Fenris, Sylys, Gorman and the Great Bears. I consult my little green book, and Khador says Kreoss1.
The scenario is Destruction, and the zone has two forests close to it at the same corners as the objectives. There is a hill on my side of the board to the left of the zone, and a big rock in the middle which we agree blocks line of sight to small-based models.
I win the roll and elect to go first. Stuart picks the side of the table which is a bit more clear of terrain, to allow that Winter Guard module to move more easily while still having the forest for Old Witch and Scrapjack to make nuisances of themselves.
7” is a very small space to fit a huge base, so I put the Vessel over to my left a bit, with the aim of trundling onto that hill and shooting whatever I please. The Errants set up in a big line across the front of the rest of the army, with all the support in the centre. The Zealots are on the right, Kreoss and the Reckoner more to the left.
Stuart sets up his Winter Guard and Great Bears to his right, while the Behemoth is front and centre and the Kazazy are over on his left. Old Witch and her retinue take up the centre.
My first turn is pretty standard. Defender’s Ward and Heroic Call on the Errants, who run up into the zone, straight across from the AD’d Doom Reavers. The Zealots run over to the right, on the other side of the forest from Stuart’s Kayazy. The Vessel runs up onto the hill. Kreoss and the rest of the support staff move up around the rock terrain feature, keeping cautious. The Covenant reads Power of Faith.
Stuart runs the Great Bears around the left-hand forest to where they’ll be in charge range against the Vessel next turn. The Doom Reavers charge the Errants, but thanks to the defensive buffs and more Tough rolls than is fair, he only gets to kill 1. The Old Witch casts Weald Secrets on the Kayazy and they move into the right-hand forest. Fenris runs around the side, menacing the Zealots a bit.
My turn 2, I upkeep Defender’s Ward, then the Errants strike back and kill all of the Doom Reavers facing them. The Zealots move up and throw their bombs into the forest, killing all but 1 of the Kayazy, who are spread out in bunches throughout the forest. They also put Greater Destiny on themselves to avoid any retribution. The Vessel fires at the central Great Bear, killing him and wounding another. This still leaves the other two to charge it next turn, which probably means unhappy times for the Vessel! The Reckoner is protected by Passage, leaving him safe from the Behemoth’s weapons.
To his credit, Stuart is not phased by me killing off two of his units, and he proceeds to feat, then Unseen Paths over to Scrapjack who ran over to the right-hand forest. It’s been a while since I played against Old Witch so I had forgotten how nasty that feat is! His Great Bears charge the Vessel and put about 10 damage on it. Behemoth shells the Errants a bit but still hangs back, and my ridiculous luck with Tough rolls keeps the death toll low. Fenris ignores the Zealots altogether and runs down the side of the board, preparing to menace my back ranks next turn. The Winter Guard move up with Kovnik Joe and put a few CRAs into the Errants, having a bit better luck than the Behemoth. He bought himself another turn with that feat, as I don’t have the elements to clear the objective and score next turn.
Turn 3 for me, and it looks awkward. Stuart doesn’t have any models in the zone, but I can’t move my Errants for fear of them all dying. I upkeep Defender’s Ward anyway and consider my options for a moment. Kreoss gives a focus to the Reckoner and sits on the rest, then he activates first, moves up into her feat, taking 3 damage, and uses his own feat. Then 2 of the Errants move forward, taking the Old Witch’s feat in the face while the rest shoot some Winter Guard. The Reckoner then charges up through the gap left by these brave martyrs, takes 4 damage from the feat and Assaults the objective, dealing it 5 damage.
Eiryss is too far away from a Stealthy Old Witch (Prowl is so annoying!) to peg her, so instead she shoots the Behemoth, who is outside of the zone and now Disrupted. The Zealots rotate in place and attempt to drift some bombs onto the Old Witch, doing her a handful of damage.The Vessel uses its Eruption of Faith miracle to repel the Great Bears who are annoyingly steady. I waste one of the Honour Guard determining the exact extent of Old Witch’s feat.
Stuart starts his turn with a bang, shaking knockdown on the Old Witch and Scrapjack, scurrying the Old Witch more into the forest, casting Avatar of Slaughter on the Scrapjack and letting it loose. The Scrapjack tears through the forest and kills the entire unit of Zealots in one go, ending up toeing into the zone. That is one serious spell, and it didn’t help that I had dealt a few points of damage to the Old Witch last turn one little bit! The fire on the Great Bears unhelpfully went out, and they both charged, one into the Vessel and the other into my objective. Both targets were finished off that turn, the rest of the damage on the objective was dealt by a big CRA from the Winter Guard. 1 point to Stuart.
Since he couldn’t shake knockdown, Stuart chose to stand the Behemoth up and take some potshots on the Choir, killing all of them. This is a man who has played against Protectorate before! Fenris ran right up to the big stone in the middle of my side of the table, right in position to menace Kreoss and maybe kill Aiyana next turn.
I still had plenty of Errants, and the zone was clear apart from Scrapjack and Stuart’s objective. Now that pesky feat was gone I had the chance to dominate the zone and block him out of it to win. I’m still upkeeping Defender’s Ward, and the Reckoner gets 3 focus this turn to make sure it kills the objective since it can’t rely on the Choir for help.
Aiyana and Holt activate, putting Kiss of Lyliss on Scrapjack. Then the Errants charge him, and 4 of them get into contact. It takes every last attack, but finally the wretched thing is dead! I’m feeling a bit more confident now, I just want to take care of loose ends. Gorman swaps his clouds for a Black Oil bomb and throws against Fenris, thankfully drifting away from Aiyana and still catching the dragoon. That should keep him out of mischief.
As I’m getting ready to charge the objective with the Reckoner Stuart realises that the Old Witch is outside of the Killbox, and things start falling into place. The Reckoner finishes off the objective in two attacks, and Kreoss runs up into the zone, bringing my score up to 5 points and that’s game.
That was a good game! This is my second or third game against Old Witch, and I see a new nasty side of her with each experience. After a brief enquiry, it transpires that Scrapjack is not worth any army points?! Best 0 point ‘jack I’ve ever seen!
She’s complex and a bit delicate herself so I can see why Stuart wanted to keep her safe, the line between caution and recklessness is one that I find difficult to tread. It was lucky for me that he noticed he was out of the Killbox, I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed until too late. As a result of this game, in future Killbox games I was keeping an eye on my opponent’s ‘caster to make sure. With Game 1 under our belts, it was time to get some food. A great bar across the road from the venue did bacon butties and nice pints of obsolete lager, so we had a pleasant lunch.
After the last games were done, Mike arrived to let us know our Round 2 match-ups. I had the rest of lunch to decide what I was going to do against a man I am routinely mistaken for: History’s Greatest Monster, none other than the Master of Disaster, the Nemesis, Cataphract of Woe, the VagrantPoet!!!