Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tourney Recap - NOVA Open 2016 Masters

What's up guys!?  It's Trevy here again and I'm two conventions down in the last two weeks so I figured it's time for a writeup of some sort.  At the end of August I played in Templecon 2016 Masters and didn't have a particularly exciting go of it; losing in round 2 to Mike Ireland and his rascally Retribution but squeaking in at 2nd place purely on strong tiebreakers.  Honestly I don't feel like I deserved the position and kind of resent the fact that the Masters format doesn't include top table scoring so finalist Andrew Briggs could've placed higher, but thems the (tie)breaks, I guess.

The week after Templecon was another relatively local convention; the NOVA Open in Arlington, VA.  NOVA has been a steadily growing WM/H con for the last couple of years, sporting both WMWI and IG qualifiers since last year with a steadily expanding player base (this year was over 90 unique WM/H players from what I understand).  One of the unfortunate consequences of Templecon's move from the start of the year to the summer is that these two conventions will compete to some extent.

The NOVA Open Masters event qualified from a set of two preliminary heats; 3-round events that each cut the top 8 players to duke it out in the finals event.  I ended up 2-1 in the qualifier, learning the hard way in the first round that Mk3 Vayl2 got Boundless Charge!  I still placed top 8 by winning my two subsequent rounds on scenario and squeaking into a qualifying spot on tiebreakers.  With that, I sat down to come up with some sweet lists to play!

List 1:
Major Victoria Haley [+25]
 - Thorn [13]
 - Stormclad [18]
 - Dynamo [18]
 - Squire [5]
Journeyman Warcaster [4]
 - Firefly [8]
Arcane Tempest Rifleman [4]
Arcane Tempest Rifleman [4]
Gun Mage Captain Adept [5]
Black 13th Strike Force [10]
Ragman [4]
Alten Ashley [5]
Gobber Tinker [2]

Haley has been my main for years, and Mk3 didn't change that.  With the emphasis shifting to focus on heavies, she completely dominates (see what I did there!?) a lot of matchups.  It's as if 60% of the meta has turned into lists that Mk2 Haley2 salivated over but never got to play into.  The list is a little weird, but is meant to play a relatively balanced game into both heavies and infantry support and most of the models in it pull double duty.  The only super weird inclusion I guess might be Dynamo, but the interaction between Multi-Fire and Future Sight making him laser-accurate is sweet, not to mention that Haley can increase both his damage output and threat range while protecting him from reprisal.  Sounds pretty cute, right?  It's not; it's fucking terrifying and Haley's Dynamo is as a voltaic god made manifest in metal and storm chambers.  Pew pew pew and stuff.

Normally I pair this list with Sloan to fight gunlines and infantry spam, but I'd been losing to stupid Ret over and over for the last two weeks and decided to make a calculated knee-jerk into playing some janky bullshit that might fight the nasty elves on a good day.  Enter Stryker1...

List 2:
Commander Coleman Stryker [+30]
 - Stormwall [39]
Storm Lances (max) [20]
Storm Lances (min) [12]
Journeyman Warcaster [4]
 - Firefly [8]
Arcane Tempest Rifleman [4]
Arcane Tempest Rifleman [4]
Captain Arlan Strangewayes [4]
Ragman [4]
Gobber Tinker [2]
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord [4]

The general idea was that Stryker can stack enough armor on the way in to deliver the Storm Lances through gunlines like Ossyan, or protect the Stormwall enough to get the requisite work done vs. ARM bricks like Helynna.  Also Riflemen kill Dawnguard Sentinels good, so that helps.  I just had to cross my fingers and hope that A. I didn't miss Kara and B. it actually worked.

Round 1 - vs. Legion.

Already missing Kara. :(

I was paired vs. John F. and his metallic blighted monsters.  John was the capable Legion player who taught me a lesson in the first round of the qualifying round, so I was itching for a rematch.  He was bring two very interesting lists; Thagrosh1 w/ three Angelii and Vayl2 w/ an Archangel.  I dropped Haley into Thagrosh on Recon.

Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight [+28]
 - Angelius [17]
 - Angelius [17]
 - Angelius [17]
 - Typhon [24]
 - Seraph [14]
Hellmouth [6]
Hellmouth [6]
Blighted Nyss Shepherd [1]
Blighted Nyss Shepherd [1]

I won the roll to take first turn and chose to do so; John got a side with a helpful forest and building to hide Hellmouths behind (which he did) while I got a wall and hill.  After deployment I was able to Accelerate one Rifleman into range to shoot one of the Hellmouths but the dude was still groggy from his beauty sleep and snake-eyes'd one of his shots, leaving the thing on 5 HP.  Everything else ran up under Deflection and Thorn w/ Arc Shield.

John responded by Slipstreaming into range to take two Angelius potshots on Thorn who I'd put too close.  Still, even needing 10s to hit and at dice -9 he was able to do ~10 damage to the poor guy. :(  The third Angelius ran up so that it was partially obscured by the building but still pretty far forward.  Fog of War went up to make me sad.

Time for Dynamo to strut his stuff.  The Angelius behind the building got TK'd around the building and Dynamo was Accelerated.  Booting to get through Fog, he was able to deal most of the Angelius' damage and the B13 finished the poor thing off before Alten even had a chance to aim his gun.  One Rifleman tagged the previously damaged Hellmout again, bringing it to 2 HP and the Firefly contested the zone.

In response, John brought the aggro; one Angelius charged into Dynamo and ripped his arms off with an Armor Peirce (I wasn't able to get him out of threat range and also in range of the other Angelius) while the other killed the objective and Repulsed the Firefly out of the zone.  Thagrosh moved up to Dominate and Feated the first Angelius back to life, in front of him to protect him from TKs.  John scored 3 CPs and Typhon stayed pretty far back to be safe.

Going down 3 CPs was not great, especially on Recon where my opponent could easily win the long game by going for a flag.  Still, I was pretty sure that getting the feat out early and in a position to kill the other Angelii was probably worth it.  Stuff got TK'd, Focus was allocated and lightning happened.  At the end of the turn both forward Angelii and one Hellmouth were dead, Haley had caught the remaining stuff under Shift and hit Thagrosh and the other Angelius with a Time Bomb to shut down any other shenanigans.

Under Shift the Legion force wasn't able to accomplish much; Thagrosh and Typhon began moving towards his flag and left the remaining Angelius in the zone to contest.  From this point most of the game was mop-up. Guns blew up the Angelius and Time Bomb hit Thagrosh again so he couldn't make it too far away.  He tried running for the right-hand flag but across the forest he couldn't make it very far.  The next turn Thorn and the Stormclad killed off the objective and a Shielded Haley Dominated the zone, putting me at 3CPs as well.  The Seraph was able to get a couple shots at Haley but had to spend one shooting through blocking models and wasn't able to punch much through her Arc Shield, only dealing a few damage before getting TK'd out for the win.

The game-state at the end of the game

A much more exciting game than our last; John played a very aggressive game that had me on the back foot early on but her extreme damage output and Shift helped keep me in it.  Combined with Time Bombs stopping Thagrosh from going for one of the flags, without too much left to reciprocate it was a losing proposition.  He and I both agreed that he should've focused more on Thorn early on to stop the TKs and Bombs that wreaked havoc in the late game.

Round 2 - vs. Cryx

This time vs. Michael K., a.k.a the terrifying Granite Fistmeat!  This game (as well as the semi and final rounds) was recorded by Advanced Maneuvers, so the full-length video should be available soon from them.  I'm hoping to also be able to make video batreps of these games as well (no promises, unfortunately), so I won't go into too much detail here.

The scenario was Linebreaker... missing Kara even more.  Mike was bringing Coven and Deneghra1... neither a great prospect for my pair.  I hoped Haley could save me by bringing some sweet guns and a counter-feat!  Mike dropped Coven.

The Witch Coven of Garlghast [+26]
 - Egregore [0]
 - Deathripper [6]
 - Deathripper [6]
 - Deathjack [23]
 - The Withershadow Combine [9]
Satyxis Blood Witches (max) [13]
 - Satyxis Blood Hag [4]
Satyxis Raiders (max) [16]
 - Satyxis Raider Sea Witch [3]
Machine Wraith [2]
Soulhunters (max) [18]

Sooo much Stealth... gross.  Missing Kara even more.
I can't remember who got first turn, but I got a side of the table with a bunch of walls on it, which was pretty neat.  His stuff ran first; Mike's objective was Stockpile so between it, Veil of Mists and a big forest he was able to make a pretty impressive cloud wall sort of thingy across the center.

Stuff ran up; Mike had Deathjack behind his clouds, Occultation on the Satyxis on the left flank and Bloodwitches on the right with Soulhunters hard flanking along with them.  My Stormclad was across from the Soulhunters, Dynamo and Thorn in the center and the B13 with Alten on the far left to contest.

Early on (my 2nd turn I think) I ran Thorn into the clouds to Dominate Deathjack forward a couple inches so I could see him.  The Firefly ran up and Accelerated Dynamo blew the big 'jack off the table while still remaining out of all the Cryx stuff's threat ranges.  Unfortunately I made a bit of a mistake and Reaction Drive'd Thorn behind a wall such that his facing was against the Soul Hunters, which I was most worried about charging him.

The world after Deathjack
This let Mike get his Machine Wraith in Thorn's back arc and move him forward; Arc Shield got knocked off by the Blood Hag and a couple Blood Witches killed the poor guy.  A couple Raiders succeeded in killing off the Firefly as well.

Losing Thorn was sad but I wasn't altogether unhappy with the trade; the Soulhunters killed Ragman but started dying to guns and that left Mike with few ways to kill my two remaining heavies.  From there the game ground on for way too long; the non-scenario of Linebreaker made it impossible to score until ~90 minutes into the game.  Meanwhile the Riflemen and GMCA did massive amounts of work killing off stealthy duders while the rest of my army sat around and contested.

Eventually my Stormclad had advanced far enough up the table to be accelerated and walk to my opponent's right most flag.  The only model contesting it was a Deathripper hiding behind a wall, but with Acceleration I was able to move the Stormclad laterally and get it around the wall while still controlling the flag.  The lucky bastard hit one of his gunshots without needing to boost and so was able to finish off the bonejack with two POW 14s, scoring me 1 CP.

Mike had pushed very hard for my right flag and hadn't expected the Deathripper to go down so fast so had very little to contest.  A Soulhunter ran in that got pulverized by the Stormclad and Haley ran to the flag w/ Arcane Shield and a bunch of Focus to get me to 3 CPs.  Mike killed some stuff but wasn't able to contest the flag and I won at the end of his following turn.  There was a total of about 5 minutes left on our clocks.

This game was one hell of a grind, mostly due to the stupid scenario.  I do feel like the matchup was in Mike's favor; the mass Stealth spam is a problem for folks that aren't Kara Sloan, but the scenario gave me enough time to whittle the army down to a manageable size.  Killing DJ early was important too as it let the heavies run wild and free, even in exchange for Thorn.  All in all, a great game!

Round 3 - vs. Mercenaries

In the semi-final round I was paired vs. Liam P. running Magnus2 and a Damiano Kingmakers list.  The other table was a Retribution mirror match and I wasn't super comfortable with Stryker into my opponent's lists (although it probably would've been fine in all honesty), so I dropped Haley and locked myself in.  Fortunately I got Magnus so I wouldn't have to deal with DEF 19 Trenchers.

Magnus the Warlord [+28]
 - Nomad [11]
 - Nomad [11]
 - Mangler [15]
 - Sylys Wyshnalyrr, The Seeker [4]
Alten Ashley [5]
Wrong Eye [17]
 - Snapjaw [0]
Rorsh [15]
 - Brine [0]
Gobber Tinker [2]
Lanyssa Ryssyl, Nyss Sorceress [3]
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios [7]
Kell Bailoch [5]

Lady Aiyana & Master Holt [8]

Scenario was Entrenched and my opponent won initiative and chose to take the first turn.

I was pretty wary of Magnus' ability to force scenario with his feat and a bunch of heavy armor, so I resolved to play this game pretty cagily so I didn't get locked out and lose.  My opponent ran stuff forward as far as it could; Nomads and Warbeasts on the left towards his zone with the Mangler on the right.  Bullet Dodger went up on Brine and the gators submerged.

I thought it would be cool to start the game off with a complementary heavy free of charge, so Thorn ran up behind a wall and Dominated a Nomad forward into the Ionization bubble of the Firefly so Accelerated Dynamo could rip it off the table.  Everything else stayed pretty far back, making sure to stay out of Eiryss' threat range.

Liam took a couple shots at stuff; Eiryss moved up into my zone and killed Ryan, Kell took a couple shots at Thorn and hit one before the little 'jack dodged away.  The remaining Nomad moved behind a forest in the middle, the Mangler ran into my zone and the Warbeasts kept plodding forward, Wrong Eye Submerging and casting Starcrossed.

Based on Wrong Eye's positioning I was able to get Thorn on him and decided that killing him was worth an early Shift.  So I TK+Accelerated Thorn and used his Reaction Drive to get into charge range.  Unfortunately he had to boost to hit to get through Star Crossed and rolled some pretty bad damage rolls, only dealing ~3 damage to Wrong Eye.  Dynamo ripped half the boxes off the remaining Nomad, the B13 killed Eiryss, GMCA hit his '8' to gun down Ashley in a forest and the Firefly got a rad shot onto my opponent's objective that Lightning Gen'd through Kell and both Aiyana and Holt, killing them off.  Despite not killing Wrong Eye I was feeling pretty good.

Liam positioned very aggressively after Shift; moving both the Mangler and Nomad aggressively at my zone and Feating to protect them from Dynamo and the Stormclad.  I was able to kill Brine with Dynamo on the post-Shift turn but I didn't want to put the Stormclad too far forward lest it get beat up by a scary Mangler, so Liam was able to kill the B13 and Rifleman in my zone as well as my objective to score 3 CPs.

With both our Feats used and the game boiling down to a scrum between out heavies, I was feeling pretty confident I could win that.  Unfortunately I punted mildly; putting Ragman in the middle of everything to Death Field Snapjaw and hopefully the Mangler, but moved Dynamo in my own way so the Stormclad wasn't able to get the damage increase.  It was okay because he rolled like garbage and missed two attacks anyway, really only scratching up the Mangler's paint job due to Magnus' Field Marshal.  Dynamo fired into the remaining Nomad and left it on 1 box while Thorn finally stabbed Snapjaw to death.

With only one functional heavy remaining, Liam was going to be hard pressed to clear the zone.  The Mangler tried throwing the Stormclad out so that Magnus could try to kill Dynamo by himself (Ashley and Ragman were also contesting) but failed its strength check.  Lucky me!  On the second go-round I was able to scrap both Warjacks and kill off the Lesser Warlocks so an Accelerated Thorn could finish off my opponent's objective and score me 2 CPs.  Liam didn't have anything to contest, so I scored again on his turn and ran Haley into his zone the next turn for the win.

Another grindy game, but Haley has the advantage in big brawls between heavies.  I'm glad Magnus got dropped into me; heavy armor like his is traditionally pretty effective against Cygnar but Damiano's Deadeyed Trenchers was a scary proposition for all my little solo dudes.  I definitely would've wanted Stryker into that matchup, but was also a little worried about Damiano's ability to crack armor and Magnus' really powerful control shutting off the Stormwall.  An interesting game of list-chicken to be sure, but it did leave me locked into Stryker for the final round.

Round 4 - vs. Retribution

Finals time!  This time it was vs. Mike Ireland and his gross elves on Extraction.  Interestingly, the last 3 times I've played Mike in tournaments has been on that scenario.  He chose Issyria to fight me and won the roll to go first.

Issyria, Sibyl of Dawn [+29]
 - Hyperion [36]
 - Chimera [8]
 - Sylys Wyshnalyrr, The Seeker [4]
Dawnguard Sentinels (max) [18]
 - Dawnguard Sentinel Officer & Standard [4]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Mage Hunter Assassin [4]
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (max) [19]
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios [7]

Stuff ran forward out of the gate; Mike had his Hyperion on the right along with Dawnguard Sentinels and Issyria with just the Nyss and Assassin on the left flank.  I deployed my larger unit of Lances on the right across from the colossal, the smaller unit on the left and the Stormwall centrally.  I got Arcane Shields onto both cav units and ran the right unit far forward onto a hill.  Unfortunately I made a mistake and neglected to Dirge them, leaving them more vulnerable than I would've liked.  Still, the left unit killed the Assassin with lightning off a pod.

Stuff running
Stuff running from a more exciting angle! (photo courtesy of Stephen Williams)

Mike responded with an early Feat, Blinding both the Stormwall and larger cav unit.  This let the Hyperion waltz up and blow 3 of them off the table with guns and some good dice.  The Nyss killed one Lance out of the left unit and everything else ran up.  Stupid Dawn's Light.

Losing 3 Lances was pretty sad and after the game Mike mentioned that he felt I should've feated that turn to deliver them, which is probably true but I was worried about the Stormwall's survivability later on.  I definitely should've Dirged the Storm Lances instead of forgetting to do that thing, forcing the Hyperion to roll 10s to hit them.  Still, I opted to make the best of it; killed half the Dawnguard with Riflemen and the remaining 2 Storm Lances from the large unit.  The other unit cleared the left flag and scored a point.  Unfortunately the Sniped Firefly missed his boosted '8' to kill most of the remaining Nyss Hunters and lock down that flag.  My stuff became Invincible.

In response Mike rolled forward with all his heavy armor, easily clearing the right flag and Dominating it with Issyria and Blinding the Stormwall again.  Sad times.  Nyss swarmed the left flag and killed off one Storm Lance with good dice, putting the score to 1-1.  The Chimera got Admonition and ran in front of the Stormwall to shut it down.

Mike putting Issyria so far forward gave me an assassination run; she was camping 1 Focus so I'd need to throw 2 Earthquakes, either at a Dawnguard or a pod to knock her down, then I'd just have Stryker's gun and the 2 Riflemen to shoot her because apparently Stormwalls are not morning Warjacks and are easily confused by bright lights.  It wasn't great so I opted to keep scoring CPs.  The Stormwall knocked down the Chimera and the Lances cleared the left flag for a second point.

In hindsight it might have been better to move the Stormwall away and try disrupting the Chimera, because now the big guy was in range of the Hyperion and a couple of his Dawnguard buddies.  They didn't have much trouble killing the poor Colossal and Issyria scored her 2nd CP; 2-2.

The one remaining Storm Lance had no trouble clearing the flag again for Rhupert to score; Arlan and the Firefly ran forward to jam out the Dawnguard and I contested the right flag with my last Rifleman, putting the score to 3-2.  Mike had no trouble clearing his flag again and killing my objective to go to 4 CPs.  It was technically possible for me to go to 5 points with some good dice to kill the objective but with basically nothing left there was nothing to stop Mike scoring on my turn to tie the score and winning on his following so the game was over.

Blech, Ret.  I'll admit that I was mildly tilted at the matchup and that probably influenced my play, but I honestly believe that I had very little chance in this game.  In all honesty going for the astronomically bad assassination early in the game was by best option but I'd hoped I could jam out scenario enough to make something good happen.  Blinding Light stopping the Stormwall from contributing at all is back breaking and makes the Colossal basically only good for holding down stacks of important papers.  I lost Ragman to a lucky Hyperion crit on my feat turn as well, which didn't help matters even if I were able to get something in melee with the colossal.  Still, with strong tiebreakers I secured 2nd place in the event and seeing as Mike had already qualified for the WMWI the week previously at Templecon, the spot was mine!

I'll cover more in depth why I feel Retribution is so difficult for Cygnar in the future, but the vast majority of my tournament losses so far have been to them.  I was lucky in this event to dodge the two Retribution players present until the final round; if I don't I think the event goes a lot differently for me.

Anyhoo, I hope you all enjoyed this little recap!  I apologize for the scarce photos but I'm working with the Advanced Maneuvers crew to dub over the videos for my channel, so stay tuned for those and keep it classy, folks!


  1. Dude this Ret doom and gloom is getting a little sad. You were once a bright shinning beacon of light for Swans everywhere but this new attitude is really sad. They are a good faction no doubt but common. First off Haley is up in every Ret match baring Ossyan who just hoses her, but Caine2 and Haley3 can play into him. Kaelyssa is probably a 50/50. You even pointed out your mistakes early game like not dirging the lances. In fact why did you even put them in threat range? I'm not going to buy that the ret players in the north east are somehow better than the rest of the world either. Play H2. She is just fine into ret. Her control is too much for most ret to handle. If ret is such a problem than build a list that can handle it. We do have answer. What has happened to you Trevy :( ?

    1. This is a lot of stuff, so I'll try to respond to each thing individually.

      "First off Haley is up in every Ret match baring Ossyan who just hoses her, but Caine2 and Haley3 can play into him."

      Haley is *playable* into a lot of Ret matchups. She's good enough that she's playable into a lot, but her weakness to gunlines makes it difficult to play a real game vs. the majority of Ret stuff; not to mention the fact that she has very little answer to their heavier infantry options. She's probably safest into the likes of Helynna or Vyros and even then I'd give that a 50/50 at best.
      Ossyan annihilates Haley3 and with Deadeye plays a very strong game into Caine. Obviously it's a dangerous matchup for both 'casters but assuming neither player makes a huge mistake and dies I believe Caine comes out on the losing end of that long game.

      "In fact why did you even put [the Storm Lances] in threat range?"
      So that they were relevant in the game at all; I could've kept all my models far out of threat range but on a scenario as live as Extraction there's nothing to stop my opponent from sitting on flags and scoring to his heart's content. Even if were Dirged/my opponent didn't roll a bunch of 13s I doubt their survival changes the game that much; they don't really do anything to an ARM-buffed Colossal besides get in the way for a couple turns.

      "If ret is such a problem than build a list that can handle it."
      I wish it were that simple; the reality is that Ret has hard counters to just about every playstyle Cygnar can bring to the table. At the very best you can boil the matchup down to a dicey game of list-chicken, which doesn't really work if you're trying to do well in large events.