My intent had been to track all the Zoom League games we’d been playing but found that I either had time to play the games or write about them afterwards and, unsurprisingly, chose the former.
But with our third Zoom tournament kicking off next week I thought I would check back in and provide a broad update.
The first Zoom League tournament was a Death & Destruction Escalation League that pitted Ironjawz against Boulderhead and Blisterskin. We started at 1K and with 250 point increments worked our way up to 2K. This one was largely about the MONSTERS as we saw Triple Frostlord on Stonehorn (though we were proxy in a Huskard on Thundertusk to have the models to do it) builds and a frequent pairing of Mawkrusha and Rogue Idol and even a double Cabbage plus RI finale. The Abhorrant Ghoul King on Royal Terrorgheist was the weak link, getting one-spotted before they did anything in most match-ups but FEC’s Muster abilities with Crypt Flayers escorted by Varghulf Courtiers proved surprisingly effective as a counter, at least at the higher point levels.
Ironjawz and Boulderhead did very well in the early rounds with Ironjawz in particular proving difficult for the other players to counter all the Mighty Destroyers shenanigans at lower points. Blisterskin truly came into its own at higher points where the combination of summoning and mustering finally gave it enough resilience to hold on against the hard initial hits from the Cabbage and FLoSHs, allowing them to go undefeated at 1.75K and 2K and climb back from worst into a tie for first with Boulderhead.
This tournament reinforced that Elite Builds work well over Zoom, and that we could manage some larger units (e.g. when a big block of Crypt Ghouls showed up in the 1.75K round) okay but the combination of larger units and higher point counts was pushing games too long. We adjusted for that in our second tournament by creating a relatively novel format. Each player submitted a 1.25K list that was fixed for the length of the tournament. Based on the battleplan and match up though each game the player had 250 “flex” points they could add to their list.
Our second tournament also added a fourth player and saw Ironjawz go up against Mawtribes, a heavy Putrid Blightking Nurgle list and a Guild of Summoners TZ Mortals list. Original intent was for November to Dismember to go three rounds followed by a Championship & Consolation match but as two players (Ironjawz and Tzeentch) meeting in the third round were 2-0 and the other two players were 0-2 the decision was made to make the third round the Championship, rather than play the same matches, even with different battleplans, two times in a row.
The flex concept worked very well and was arguably the key to TZ tournament win. In G1 a flex Soul Grinder was a useful Distraction Carnifex for the FLoSH and allowed TZ to ignore the FLoSH, stuck over on far side of table for a well timed double-turn that proved decisive. In G2 the Blue Scribes and Fluxmaster gave TZ enough spell casting to summon a LoC R1, right onto an objective, so even after the Varanguard flopped against a unit of PBKs, TZ was able to hold on for a VP win. In the third and final match Be’lakor wasn’t as much of a factor but may have goaded the Ironjawz player (very familiar with using B’s special ability in their BoC lists) into an overly aggressive T1.
We’ll definitely bring it back, but the new player (who’d picked up Mawtribes when the Boulderhead player switched back to Nurgle) wants to try escalation. So Holiday Havoc (as in the Holidays will play Havoc with our scheduling...) will see Mawtribes vs Big Waaagh!!! vs Gristlegore vs Stormcast Eternals.
Stepping back one of the biggest questions that Zoom League has created is the role of the “concierge” in games they aren’t playing. As the one moving the models when I am going head-to-head I will go out of my way to call out opportunities and risks and work diligently to ensure things like pile-in are done to my opponent’s advantage, or at least make them aware that certain choices have consequences (e.g. if they pile-in an extra model they’ll activate a nearby enemy unit). Some of this carries over clearly into matches where I am not playing but just moving the models around the table. There has been some debate though regarding where the line between calling out things that may not easily be determined by remote players on their screen and “coaching” is.
Some players prefer a minimalist approach (e.g. only providing the measurements they or an opponent explicitly asks for) while others prefer a more maximalist approach given they can’t check things out for themselves (e.g. when it is Shooting Phase the concierge calling out all the units that are in range). As always though it is the middle case that seem to cause the most controversy. Fortunately a good gaming group so in the end everybody rolls with it but a difficult line to walk, especially as somebody who wants to see everybody get better and thus wants to avoid games going off the rails just because of mistakes they were much less likely to make in person.
Tried uploading some pictures but had problems. May try again later.