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The Post Masters Post Hey all. I did say there would be one. I had planned to get this out a little sooner but needed some time to detox. Masters 2019 was a reasonably mixed bag, with the Top 20 players for 2019 majority living in the North Island only 11 of them accepted the invite. This is not out of the ordinary, no masters event has ever been attended by more than 65% of the Top 20. However due to the nature of the event and it being in the South Island, only a single North Island player who didn’t make the Top 20 (number 21 on the rankings) accepted the invite and the rest of the numbers were filled by locals, causing the field to go as deep as number 85 on the standings. The result was the top quarter of players largely playing others in their bracket, while the middle pack had an awkward disparity in levels of skill and experience. Another bugbear some players from the North had during the wind-up to the event was the introduction of soft scores into Masters. The previous Masters events have categorically lacked these, a fully painted army and perfect sportsmanship aren’t fields to be rewarded, they’re expected. These soft scores caused heavy consternation initially, though I personally defended them saying that as long as people maintained the standard expected from previous Masters events, they’d receive full points in these fields anyway. Given I played five full, five turn games over the weekend I’m obviously not going to cover them all. I will post my results for each match, and I plan to cover off my game against New Zealand Master 2019 James Page and my personal favorite game of the event against NZ Warhammer icon Shaun Bates in future posts as they characterize what happens in the worst possible matchup and what happens in the best (army-wise). So without further ado, the results. Game One · Opponent: Big Waagh · Scenario: Duality of Death · Secondaries: Secret Mission and Defend (both achieved) · Outcome: Major Loss Opponent would go on to win the event. A canny player, James used his superior movement and the ability to decide who starts to tag both objectives on turn one while throwing disposable units of Ardboyz into my only units capable of contesting these points. As I was unable to retreat and push the enemy off the points in the same turn I lost this one handily. Game Two · Opponent: Cities of Sigmar – Living City · Scenario: Scorched Earth · Secondaries: Terrify and Ancient Heirloom (both achieved) · Outcome: Major Win I made my opponent start as I had the choice, and interestingly he summoned Chronomantic Cogs and immediately set it to speed up time, while deploying his whole army directly in front of me (the tournament ruled that all woods on the tables were Citadel Woods, an interesting concept none of the northern players abided by in games between each other due to it not being in the pack. However it seems my opponent misread/cheated me here as Living City can’t just deploy on Citadel Woods. This would be the beginning of my disappointment). Not realizing my opponent was not actually allowed to do this, I simply charged headlong into him, obliterated a full 60% of his army immediately and burned all the objectives on the table turn two. The decision to set Cogs to speed up time sealed my opponent’s defeat more or less immediately, as well as his cocky (and illegal) choice of giving me his army as a stepping stone to get to his objectives. Overall a frustrating game as I spent far too much of it having to read my opponent’s battletome and correct countless errors that came up. Game Three · Opponent: Stormcast Eternals – Anvils of the Heldenhammer · Scenario: Border War · Secondaries: Invade and Onslaught (both achieved) · Outcome: Major Win This game was a rough one for my opponent. Shaun’s army excels against all comers unless they have large numbers with resistance to battleshock, or the ability to get around his devastating rend. Conveniently I had both in spades, so Shaun’s superior ability to play the game didn’t mean a lot in the face off 150 wounds hiding behind an ethereal save. Shaun and I yarned the majority of the game, engaged in flagrant cheating and deception, then wrapped up quickly to get a beer and get ready to shoot back to our accommodation for more yarns and beer. Intermission This was the highlight of the weekend. One of The Boys (Cameron, Seraphon) has a lovely family home locally overlooking the ocean with a fantastic outdoor eating area. Local legend Richard acquired vast sums of meat as a tithe-offering and manned his barbecue, bring succor to the masses. A few of the locals made it up as well as all the players who traveled for the event. We had a fantastic time, had some good chats and overall it was a perfect experience. The next day we rose early, briefly debated the virtues of going to the Zoo, then made our way down to a local café for a group breakfast. Given the large number of Wellingtonians in the group we needed to get some avocado toast in their systems before they start shriveling up. We took pictures, I mounted an antique motorbike and smashed back a milkshake and mince on toast for breakfast. Overall pretty fantastic. Remembering we had come down for a Warhammer tournament, we paid up and headed to the venue. Round Four · Opponent: Grand Alliance Chaos – Everchosen Battalion · Scenario: Gifts from the Heavens · Secondaries: Dominate and Seize (both achieved) · Outcome: Major Victory This was a slow-burn game. My opponent was hesitant to leave his deployment knowing that I would swamp him and fly directly over him to the objective, and resolved to turtle up. The game boiled down to me mowing my way diligently through the numbers while constantly reviving my losses to ensure control of my home objective. This was the game in which I entered the “Grief Zone”, spending 7 Command Points in a single turn, while starting on only 2. This made my army in the last turn of the game majority hitting on 2’s rerolling 1’s, wounding on 2’s, with the enemy saves diminished by my rend and Dread Withering. Round Five · Opponent: Skaven · Scenario: The Better Part of Valour · Secondaries: Ancient Heirloom and Sacrifice (failed to earn Sacrifice) · Outcome: Major Loss This game was extremely swingy the whole way through. I used my gravesites to sneakily move around his overwhelming numbers while keeping his rats locked on his side of the table for the first 3 turns by callously discarding my Grimghast Reapers and Dreadscythe Harridans, fully intending (and succeeding) to return them to the table due to my general being so far removed from the game I could safely bet on it. My army copped massive waves of shooting but rolled less well than against the Longstrike Stormcast and I was pushed back to my deployment. A dicey Skitterleap from a Verminlord Warbringer burned an objective of mine and pushed the game towards my opponent, ending things. Final Results · Win/Loss: Three Major Wins / Two Major Losses · Secondaries: Nine Achieved / One Failed · Kill Points: 6260pts · Paint Points: Full Points · Sports Points: Full Points Overall, my issues with Masters 2019 stem strongly from the scoring. I defended the soft score element to those that didn’t like them, explaining that if we maintained our usual standard these wouldn’t matter. However, many people had armies that were not completed, lacking basing on models, having less than 3 colors and a variety of other issues, only to receive full paint points. I purchased and painted my army to it’s (in my opinion) high standard and full rubric in less than a month, only for it to be considered equal to these other armies. Furthermore, I experienced numerous issues over the event with opponents either not knowing their rules or misrepresenting them, and even experiencing the poor sports of a player constantly interjecting into my game rudely and into the TO when he attended the table, only for full sports to be awarded across the board. These issues are not unique to this tournament, and overall I’ve no doubt not representative of the scene in the South Island. However I was disappointed to travel down for a Masters event only for it to be this way. Many of my friends declined to attend due to issues with the harshness of the painting rubric making them fear they would lose out for not being as talented painters, only for it to not matter at all. I was sadly disappointed, and given the severe financial expense of the weekend compared to the payoff have little desire to travel beyond the capital city any time soon. Despite these flaws I met a good collection of people, and I hope I acquitted myself well enough that they don’t unfollow me the moment they read this. I initially only wanted to cover the positives, but as my local club explained to me people who know me know my thoughts, and to cover less than that would be disingenuous.
List Breakdown – Legion of Grief – NZ Masters 2019 Overview Gidday all, Aiden here with the first “List Breakdown” for this blog. I had planned to do this the night before Masters but with me flying down tomorrow lunchtime and then likely drinking from there on out I’m not going to have the time. New Zealand Masters 2019 is the third Masters event our country as hosted, we have had one for every full year of Age of Sigmar gameplay since the game began. I’ve attended all of them so far, but this will be my first not running Skaven. In NZ we send out invites to our top 20 players then as people accept or decline, we work our way up the rankings from 20 to make up the numbers, with usually just over half of the top 20 being able to attend. Our country provides a unique challenge to masters attendance numbers, namely being split into two large islands (named Te Ika-a-Maui and Te Waipounamu by the native Maori culture. In true colonial fashion, European settlers applied their own well thought out and creative names for them, North Island and South Island respectively), despite this challenge to attendance we have had a good turnout for the event. The field is an interesting spread, with each of the Grand Alliances being well represented. The most represented is Destruction, with a wide range of Big Waagh lists, Ironjawz and a Gloomspite player. Death is the least represented with just myself and a Legions of Nagash list. How they do and general stats will all be covered in a post tournament report next week. The List Allegiance: Legion of Grief Mortal Realm: Hysh Leaders Dreadblade Harrow (90) - General - Trait: Vassal of the Craven King (whenever you spend a CP, roll a dice. On a 5+ you get 1 CP) Necromancer (130) - Artefact: Aetherquartz Brooch (whenever you spend a CP, roll a dice. On a 5+ you get 1 CP) - Spell: Dread Withering (-1 to a unit’s save rolls within 18” of the caster) Guardian of Souls with Nightmare Lantern (140) - Spell: Dread Withering (-1 to a unit’s save rolls within 18” of the caster) Knight of Shrouds (100) Battleline 40 x Chainrasp Horde (280) 10 x Chainrasp Horde (80) 10 x Chainrasp Horde (80) Units 20 x Dreadscythe Harridans (280) 15 x Dreadscythe Harridans (240) 12 x Myrmourn Banshees (210) 20 x Grimghast Reapers (320) Endless Spells / Terrain / CPs Extra Command Point (50) Total: 2000 / 2000 Extra Command Points: 1 Allies: 0 / 400 Wounds: 147 Overall very standard Legion of Grief fare for me. I’ve ran this self-same list for 10+ games now, with a variety of wins and… learning experiences. Overall it works well and what it does well, and has some weaknesses which can be covered with placement and planning. Below I have outlined the choices I made with this army, and why I made them. Allegiance Choice – The Legion of Grief Anyone familiar with my dreams of a competitive ghost army knows I’m in a perpetual pull between the Nighthaunt and Legions of Grief allegiances. Nighthaunt offers battalions, Wave of Terror and a flexible deployment method, Legion of Grief offers Gravesites and all the thrills that come with them. Given the local meta has a proclivity for taking lots of threat units, I valued the defensive capabilities of Gravesites and they won out this time. I will however be trialling Nighthaunt post-Masters to see if I want to take them to CanCon. Realm Choice – Hysh, Realm of Light Lol, you know why I picked this. At this stage Aetherquartz Broach is going to end up in my Last Will and Testament. Dreadblade Harrow – General – Vassal of the Craven King This one goes without saying. The combination of his ability to teleport basically wherever he needs to be every turn to resurrect fallen minions and the sheer power of the command trait Vassal of the Craven King singlehandedly prevent Olynder from ever being ran in her OWN legion. The Dreadblade is no close-combat king, he’ll struggle in a fight against even the most basic of chaff, but what he lacks in punch he makes up for with sheer utility. His movement happens at the START of the movement phase, and resurrection can be used at the END, ensuring he is always right where he needs to be to pull a unit out of the dirt. He’s a good boy. Necromancer – Aetherquartz Broach – Dread Withering Another that goes without saying. Pre-Grief, Nighthaunt players were willing to give up their first CP of the game just to sneak one of these into their army with Sons of the Lichemaster. His unique spell turns any of the threat units in this army into a slaughtermachine, and his Deathly Invocation is always handy if he’s near said units. Giving him Aetherquartz Broach makes sense because he can be kept the safest of my 4 heroes (except the Dreadblade, but never put all the eggs in one basket) so I don’t need to fear losing it. I’ve also given him Dread Withering in the even I need to dig through a high save value. Necromancer is another good boy. Guardian of Souls with Nightmare Lantern – Dread Withering This lad is less certain than the previous two. He’s here purely for his Nightmare Lantern buff that provides a radiant wholly within 12” bubble of +1 to wound for NIGHTHAUNT units. Weighing in at 140pts, this guy is 8 Myrmourn Banshees’ worth of model and I’m grimly aware of it whenever he underperforms. A vulnerable character with only 5 wounds, this can be smacked out of the game by an opportunistic chaff squad or just a good round of shooting. However despite these flaws, when he’s in the right place at the right time the Guardian of Souls can guarantee a unit of Dreadscythe Harridans or Grimghast Reapers will destroy their targets, and even give Chainrasps a dangerous punch. His spell is not worth relying on but it’s nice, he’ll mostly cast Dread Withering. An average boy, with a lot to prove given he replaced the Knight of Shrouds on Ethereal Steed and a potential Triumph. Knight of Shrouds My personal favourite character in the army, nay, the Nighthaunt line-up in general. He’s very simple, a cheap close combat bruiser with a niche healing mechanic and a very powerful command ability. Spectral Overseer can turn even the infamously swingy Myrmourn Banshee melee profile into a weapon of nuclear destruction, and he spends most of his time smack in the centre of a unit of Dreadscythe Harridans. Serving as the nozzle of the funnel I pour all my excess Command Points into, he supports the team, he looks after the ‘Rasps and he’s the type of guy who’s happy to sober drive the Black Coach home. A very good boy, potentially the best boy. Chainrasp Hordes Hands down the best generic 80pt Battleline available to the entire Death Grand Alliance (fight me Skeleton Warriors). Chainrasps are another very simple unit, they have an Ethereal 5+ save and if there’s more than 10 of them, reroll 1’s to wound. Like any Death unit, their big vulnerability is mortal wounds and magic, but they make up with this with high bravery and the occasional deflection of a -3 rend attack that should by all rights erase them. They swamp objectives well, and nothing crushes the enemy spirits more than resurrecting 40 Chainrasps right as they manage to finally brick them the first time. Dreadscythe Harridans Alright these are a stylistic choice if I’m being honest. I bought 4 boxes when I started playing Nighthaunt (wanted to run a Shrieker Host to ****** off Skaven players) and ever since I’ve tried to make them good. They bring a lot to Legion of Grief as the best of the Big Three Nighthaunt threat units (Grimghast, Dreadscythe, Bladegheist) for buffing with the Knight of Shrouds command ability given they’re cheaper than the other 2 while having the most output raw damage wise with 2CP invested. Their -1 to hit aura also tends to come in handy against Destruction armies (well well well) and their large footprint and Ethereal save give them a wide range of options to contribute to the force. Myrmourn Banshees World’s most monopose unit. Coming in at a grand total of 4 available poses, which is 3 more than they have attacks. What they do have however is -2 rend and D3 damage on said attack, and they get a bonus attack for unbinding enemy spells, which they also get a large bonus to do. They can also dispel an endless spell at the cost of taking D3 wounds (happens at the start of the phase, do it near a gravesite and you’re golden) which ALSO gives them +1 attack. With even a single bonus attack this unit becomes scary, with 2CP invested from a Knight of Shrouds there isn’t a single thing they won’t kill. With only 12 in the unit, it’s not very hard for the enemy to murk this unit pretty quickly, but it would be a shame if somebody… brought them back. Grimghast Reapers A unit that needs neither justification nor explanation. Grimghast Reapers singlehandedly kept Legions of Nagash relevant during the Daughters of Khaine Winter, and even bumping their cost to 160pts for 10 couldn’t hamper their effectiveness. Point them at an enemy threat unit and watch it die. Invest some CP in them and watch the enemy army die. When THEY die, bring them back. Rinse and repeat. The Game Plan Nice try James (my round 1 opponent) and anyone else attending, a wizard never reveals his secrets. Look forward to how it all turns out in the post tournament review, and all the pictures to come which will end up on my twitter at @ThreeTwoPrince.
The last tournament I attended in 2017 was the NZ Masters. Attended by just under 20 people (suck it 9th Age), it was a massive event attended by a host of extremely skilled players. I was there too. This is the list I ran for the event. Allegiance: Skaven Pestilens Leaders Verminlord Corruptor (220) Plague Furnace (200) Plague Priest with Plague Censer (80) Plague Priest with Plague Censer (80) Plague Priest with Plague Censer (80) Screaming Bell (200) Battleline 30 x Plague Monks (210) - Foetid Blades - Pestilens Battleline 20 x Plague Monks (140) - Foetid Blades - Pestilens Battleline 20 x Plague Monks (140) - Foetid Blades - Pestilens Battleline 20 x Plague Monks (140) - Foetid Blades - Pestilens Battleline War Machines Plagueclaw (180) Plagueclaw (180) Battalions Congregation of Filth (140) Total: 1990 / 2000 Allies: 200 / 400 Wounds: 153 With this list I managed to go 3/5 Major WIns, a huge achievment for me as all 3 of the players I defeated are in my eyes leaps and bounds ahead of me in skill and all people I would aspire to be as good as at the game. Frankly looking back I'm honestly not sure how i beat them. Game 1 was VS Lee and his tree people, in the GHB16 scenario "Border War". Lee took the Dreadwood Wargrove, which for those unfamiliar is the spooky sylvaneth batllion that makes use of Spite Revenants and let's the army gain d3 starting abilities, which all affect the first turn of the game. He teleported a bunch of dryads directly in front of my forces to prevent me from leaving my deployment, then shuffled his troops around the table taking 3 of the 4 available obectives, shooting up to 5 Victory Points. As my turn begun I let loose all my firepower on the line of dryads (The Screaming Bell rung up a bonus to casting rolls, handy) and mortal wounded them into oblivion, washing away 18 of the 30 dryads. This gave my plague monks room to leave deployment, and I had my eyes on revenge. I immediately moved them in the direction of the eastern midfield objective and charged 20 rats through a wyldwood. I lost 2 rats to the trees and they immediately shoved the Revenants they reached via charge into a meatgrinder, taking the objective for the Horned Rat. I also managed to take the western midfield objective by swarming 30 rats at some Revenants over there, taking it over by weight of numbers. Once i secured these two points I essentially spent the rest of the game keeping my rats smack on the two midfield objectives and shaved down any threats at distance with my catapults and magic. In the end Pestilens won the day, dribing back the hated trees. Game 2 was VS Tim and his Skeletal Legion, playing "Starstrike". Never been keen on facing TIm, anyone hard enough to play Death through the long winter of it's discontent and still come out on top against armies with updates and battletomes is not someone you want to take lightly. However, fortunately for me the matchup was favorable in my direction and even the dreaded 40 man skeleton bubble crumpled before the buff stacked 30 man plague monks. I got off a Great Plague every single turn, which was a massive boost. At one stage Arkhan the Black erratically turned his Dread Abyssal onto a group of Morghast Archai floating next to him, which was disturbing. I held all objectives for the majority of the game, despite losing 80% of my army by the end. Major Victory to Pestilens. Game 3 was VS Shaun and his Murderhost, playing the GHB16 scenario "Escalation". Man, this game was horrific. Shaun is a deadly player who brings actual strategy to Khorne, never good for his oponents. Shaun actually handed me my frst major defeat in a tournament, in my very first tournament game. Being seasoned AOS players and both being aware the game is nothing more than a brawl in the middle, we did the gentlemanly thing and lined up our bloodletters and plague monks as close to each other as we could in deployment, and proceeded to throw buckets of dice at each other for the next hour and a half. Pestilens' ability to fight after being killed however assured that my troops were getting at least a chance to fight, and at best two chances to fight. Also the fact that bloodletters' mortal wound ability is what makes them lethal isn't as useful against an army with no saves anyway was quite the boon. In the end after an hour of 2 lines of troops fighting one another I pushed out my half of the table and took the field, winning objectively. Game 4 was VS Matt and his Aetherstrike Force playing "Three Places of Power". You know when looking back at life you can spot one particular moment where it all went bad? Good god it was here in this game. I didn't even leave my deployment mostly, I lost 5/6 of my heroes before my second turn, scored a single point to his 14 or something and barely even moved my army before taking it off the table. Shooting is a terrible matchup for Pestilens, and Aetherstrike is the premier shooting list. Feedback from this game? Matt should have at least taken me to dinner first. Major Defeat to Pestilens. Game 5 was VS James and his Changehost playing "Scorched Earth". I've always wanted to beat James Page, when I first started playing he was the top of the scene, and took out the first tournament I played in with 5 Major Victories handily. However today wasn't fated to be the day. He used the Changeling and the Changehost ability to swap a big unit into my army on turn 1, and destroyed 2 of the 3 objectives on my side. This effectively ended the game for me, but not knowing when to give up is one of my issues. I pulled back a respectable amount of points, bringing the table to 8/12 to him, but couldn't cope with the Tzeentch mortal wounds and went down in the end. Major Defeat to Pestilens (I'll get you one day Jim). Overall a great day of gaming, I caused a lot of unexpected upsets and played to the best of my ability. Next year I'm going for podium at the masters, so look forward to that.
An important part of improving play is constantly working and innoavting your list, changing it as you learn new things about your army. This post is taking a look at the force I personally ran for the majority of the NZ AOS 2017 tournaments, and an overview of how it went. Here's the list. Allegiance: Skaven Pestilens Leaders Plague Furnace (200) Plague Priest with Plague Censer (80) Plague Priest with Plague Censer (80) Battleline 30 x Plague Monks (210) - Foetid Blades - Pestilens Battleline 30 x Plague Monks (210) - Foetid Blades - Pestilens Battleline 10 x Plague Monks (70) - Foetid Blades - Pestilens Battleline 30 x Plaguebearers Of Nurgle (270) War Machines Plagueclaw (180) Plagueclaw (180) Plagueclaw (180) Battalions Congregation of Filth (140) Foulrain Congregation (200) Total: 2000 / 2000 Allies: 0 / 400 Wounds: 140 Not a terrible list, but looking back with a bit more experience this list needs a lot of improvement to be competitive. Two big errors that are immediately apparent to me now are clear, the first is the fact that Clan Pestilens is a horde army but I only have 70 rats here, and the second is the fact that I'm spending 720pts on a catapult formation that over the course of the tournament would on average only ever kill cheap battleline chaff. Furthermore, the prayers on the Plague Furnace are absolutely vital if you want to run Plague Monks in units of 30 or more, so you shoul take at least one Plague Furnace per unit of 30+, something I haven't done here. The plaguebearers are nice, but this is an agressive army and any point spent towards defensive takes away from the overall army strategy. The last tournament this list was used was NZ Inpeticon in October last year. I went 3 Major Voctories 2 Major Defeats, which isn't a bad result at all. However to learn we look to our defeats, not our victories. I faced a moderately elite, multi wound destruction army that I absolutely should have run over the top of, but lost due to persuing character kills and not reaching objectives fast enough. While hindsight is 20/20, i recognize the mistakes I made here and won't be making them again. My second loss however was against Sylvaneth, a good friend of mine called Lee who I regularly practise against. I went into this game fresh with a jumble of different skaven strats tumbling about in my head raring to go but Lee manipulated the table extremely well, locking me off from sections and forcing me to funnel my rats into a killbox where his Kurnoth Scythes were waiting. This game was straight up murder, I don't think there was any stage where I had a viable method of pulling it back into my favor. Sylvaneth are often a problem for rats, especially when the Sylvaneth player is experienced. I'll get ya next time Lee. Soon I'll post my list for the NZ Masters tournament last month, and go over the results had there.