Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The LifeGuard of the Golden Frog – a MKGT Report

As keen readers and casual passers-by (probably not too many of those on a blog one assumes you either have to click on a link for or google God knows what to find) will be aware, this past weekend was the MKGT event at Rollcall (which, it turns out, was a multi system event hosted by the British Historical Games Society) outside of (shockingly) Milton Keynes.

To answer the obvious question – yes, I am deeply disappointed. I would go as far as to say the whole weekend was ruined…
I did not see the concrete cows.

The event itself, held at a school on what has to have been the most gloriously summery weekend the UK has seen in a long time, was great fun. An incredibly relaxed atmosphere, 96 players (of whom I assume the majority were good people), close to London (much rarer than foreign readers would probably think), good games, bonus Mrs points for going on up on Saturday morning and spending the Saturday night at home… all in all, a Good Time was had.

As has become somewhat customary, I thought it would be appropriate to make myself look suitably busy and hammer the keyboard for a while to compile a brief rundown of my games at this event.

To recap, my list was as follows:

-1 unit between 400 and 599
-1 Slann w channeling staff and harmonic convergence
-1 Scar Vet on Cold One
-1 Scar Vet on Cold One
-1 Tetto'Eko

+1 Old Blood on foot
+1 Razordon unit
+1 Razordon unit

Comp Score -2

Slann Mage-Priest: Harmonic Convergence; Channelling Staff; Lore of Life; Battle Standard Bearer 370
Saurus Oldblood: Enchanted Shield; Dawnstone; Sword of Might; The Other Trickster's Shard; light armour 214

Tetto'eko 185
Saurus Scar-Veteran: Armour of Destiny; great weapon; Cold One 154
Saurus Scar-Veteran: Armour of Fortune; Dragonbane Gem; great weapon; Cold One 144
Skink Priest: Dispel Scroll; Lore of Heavens 90

10 Skink Skirmishers 70
10 Skink Skirmishers: Lustrian javelins and shields 70
10 Skink Skirmishers: Lustrian javelins and shields 70
18 Skinks: musician 100
20 Skinks: musician 110
20 Skinks: musician 110
20 Skinks: musician 110

26 Temple Guard: Revered Guardian; musician; standard bearer (Razor Standard) 439
5 Chameleon Skinks 65
5 Chameleon Skinks 65

1 Razordon Hunting Pack 65
1 Razordon Hunting Pack 65

2,496 points

Game 1: Slatch (Warriors of Chaos) 

The draw for the event was done a couple of days prior on Twitter and as fate would have it I was drawn to play none other than Slatch AKA The Saturday Destroyer, AKA MonsterSlatch, AKA Dreamkiller, AKA Day One’s Bane, AKA Sabbath Slayer AKA Sunday’s B*tch AKA… Steve.

As per the last time we played, he was rocking Galrauch and what could be called a Monsters of Chaos… collection of models? Not sure something with quite so few models can really qualify as an “Army”… maybe a Warriors of Chaos rugby team? I have, in my usual subtle way, indicated that Slatch has a reputation for ripping everything up that opposes him on a Saturday, before averaging something between zero and no points on day two. This was bad news.

In summary, his list was:

Unkillable BSB on Disc
Mounted Lvl1 Death Wizard
3 Slaanesh Chariots
2 x 5 Marauder Horse
2 x 5 Dogs
2 x Chimerae
2 x Shaggoths

The LifeGuard advances...

Following my patent-pending approach to the new Lizardmen book, I “bunkered up” (to epically misuse the term) the Slann, Old Blood and Vets into the Temple Guard and shoved it straight at him, guarding my flank with the building. I then sat there, Life-buffed, at roughly an average charge range away from the entirety of his army and waited whilst his brain fried at the sight of lizards not backing away.

You never know what you will find round the corner...

The skink elements of my army, as is their want, started harassing the flanks. Senor Compo Pointo, the trusty Razordon who only EVER gets to play in competitive games showed that he was not purely there to make up the (comp) points and mercilessly gunned down all 5 marauders in a unit. The units in and around the building started picking on Shaggoths (my skinks have developed a taste for them following our previous game at Bjorn Teams).

By turn two he had had enough, and almost the entirety of the Chaos Warrior army declared charges upon the rather bored looking (regenerating) Temple Guard. Three chariots, a Chimera and a Shaggoth made it in (the rest could not fit). A fearsome carnage ensued – 11 noble temple guard brought down by an unholy mix of scythe, halberd and claw. As is frankly their job my unit hit back, killing the Shaggoth before it could strike, wrecking another chariot, badly hurting the other two. In my turn the chariots were dispatched and the Chimera, now with only one wound left, fled to land in the midst of 3 skink units (who had just been playing a nice game of “kill the nasty death wizard”) and was promptly shot down. 

"Bundle" is a technical term, right?

Further disciplined fire killed the other Shaggoth (on a side note, I remember being blown away by that model when it was released, now it looks tiny!). The temple guard, now boasting a frankly silly Toughness of 8 turned to behold the rest of the WoC army to see what Steve would do.

Akin to a bus hitting a building

There were two options for the Warriors here – either go for it and try to pick up as many points as possible, or run away and try and conserve points. He went for it. The BSB charged a cohort unit (finally killing it in the last turn of the game), whilst Galrauch and the last Chimera tried to breath/magic stuff off… it didn’t work, and both the flappy monster thingies (technical term in the language of the Old Ones) were brought down. At the end of the game the warriors on the table numbered the BSB, his disc, 5 marauders on horses… and their horses.


Game 2: Cai (Beastmen)
Scenario: Blood and Glory (825 points for breaking your opponent)

In summary his list was:

Lvl4 Shadow
Doombull on Flying Carpet
Lvl2 Death
39 Gor
39 Gor
30+ Bestigor
2 x Razorgor Chariots
2 x Razorgor
2 x Ungor Raiders

Thinks started badly – he rolled Purple Sun.
I don’t, as a rule, like that spell very much if I am not the one skilling people up with it. I get nostalgic and sad.
It also meant I could not readily risk a protracted engagement for fear of Purple Sun goodness (and that’s before even worrying about Mindrazor, Withering or Enfeebling).

Goats and Lizards. turn up to play

After a turn of dancing around a bit, something generally seen as the Done Thing, I remembered that I was actually really skilled.
I had rolled Dwellers.

As luck, fate or a higher power would have it, both his lvl4 and the Purple Sun-totting Shaman were in the same unit.
Cue the master plan. A casual 2 dice Throne was thrown up by this mightiest of the Old One’s servants…
Now to…
Wait what?
Cai was blathering something about a Hex scroll… This could be bad.

Thankfully, the universe could not cope with the idea of a big fat frog being turned into a small (and, one assumes, still chubby) frog because someone read gibberish on a piece of paper, so disaster was averted.
Appalled at Cai for trying such a despicable thing in a friendly game of Warhammer, I took the moral high ground, and said the three most cherished words in Warhammer: “Six Dice Dwellers”, pointing at his general.

Cue the irresistible (safely ignored by the throne) and the undoubtedly highly deserved death of both the lvl4 general and the aforementioned Purple Sun-wielding goat.
My Dweller-Fu was strong.

Post Dwellers-Fu

Now was the time to capitalise – Beastmen armies sans general or effective magic are almost the definition of victims of opportunity.

Cai, as we have seen, being someone full of low cunning and at least partially evil saw that things were going badly and promptly turned his Bestigor around marched away full speed. Drats! It’s been a while since I used them, but I knew a lvl4 and a lvl2 (plus the Ungor raiders and a Razorgor that Senor Comp Pointo picked up) was not going to be enough to get me anything close to a big win. I had to try and chase them down, if I failed to catch that unit I would really have to break his fortitude…

Slugtongue was rather unceremoniously thrown out of the Bestigor unit and told to go and stand in front of the Temple Guard to buy time. What proceeded to occur over the next few turns was relatively simple, if rather frantic.

One Scar Vet went off and picked on the Dwellered Gor unit (who  were eventually mopped up), one went galloping after the Bestigor in the hope I could catch them and hold them up for long enough for the Temple Guard to get there. The Vet eventually got to them, but the Temple Guard fluffed their lines and failed to get in, leaving the Vet stranded… and killed. The Old Blood, having soloed out to deal with the redirecting Slugtongue, was not paying much attention and got charged in the rear by a Razorgor Chariot. Upon noticing this fact (some minutes later) he dispatched that too.

Over on my right flank the other Gor unit got rather mercilessly picked on by what one safely say was “a lot” of skinks.

Meanwhile, in an epic combat that is sure to go down in the annals of history, the mighty Doom Bull went to war with Warhammer’s mightiest predator – a Skink Cohort.
With magical dominance and not much to do with it, Tetto and the Priest had some fun casting double Iceshard Blizzard upon the hapless carpet-wielding cow – even causing a few wounds on him, which is always fun. The inevitable eventually happened. Despite having around 9 attacks the chilly blast of wind put him off, he lost combat by 2 and, aided by the -2 to his Leadership, was run off by the mighty skinks – who promptly finished him off in a much more dignified way – by throwing pointy poisoned sticks at it until he stopped moving.

In the end I got the 20, though Cai, being the terrible person he is*, he refused to let me kill his Bestigor, BSB or one of his Razorgor chariots.

*Disclaimer for the dense – Cai is not actually a terrible person – quite the opposite, and indeed was my favourite opponent to of the weekend. He is, however, clearly evil.

Game 3 – Greg (Mono-Khorne goodness)
Capture the Blood Forest (825pts for doing so)

There are truisms in life. They exist, generally, because they are true.
One of these is that if there is killing blow on the table, it WILL killing blow at least one of my characters. The other is that Final Transmutation will turn frogs into gold (alchemists were surely in the midst of exploring the close links between frogs and gold before that whole science fell out of fashion). Thankfully the Lord of Skulls is more of a brass man, and left metal wizards at home.

In summary:

Blood Thirster, greater gift (Eternal blade and impact hits), lesser gift (ASF)
Khorne Herald BSB, lesser gift (ASF)
2 x 15 Bloodletters
1 x 10 Bloodletters
1 x 5 Furies
3 x 5 Flesh Hounds (1 ambushing)
1 x 3 Blood Crushers
1 x Skullcannon
1 x Soulgrinder

A thing that is rarely mentioned in matchups is experience against the player (or type of player), as well as the army. Daemons everyone has played to death. This type of list less so, and I had no idea how aggressive Greg would be with it. All I knew was that Blood Thirsters are REALLY hard to kill (something that Blood Thirster-controlling players seem to underrate – granted I bet they miss their 2+ armour…, but relying on 1-in-6 poison (or a 1-in-6 to wound from hits), followed by failure of both 5+ armour and 5+ ward is asking for a lot), and that capturing the wood was likely to be a game winner.

If you go into the woods today, you're in for a big surprise....

This uncertainty translated in misemployment on my part (I tend to go for highly compacted deployment patterns) – which exposes the pathetic leadership of skinks. Still, it meant he had to direct stuff to deal with those elements, which was the plan anyway. I was worried he would push it all in – mainly because you are then in the lap of the dice gods (though against life magic a Thirster is asking for combat res). So that didn’t happen.
What did, of course happen, was my old blood getting killing blowed. That goes without saying.

It was a tight but simple game – I pushed forward, he fed me a couple of units (flesh hounds, a unit of Bloodletters, furies and a soul grinder) before I parked the Temple Guard in the Blood Forrest and waited out the game (refusing to cast in case the wood did anything silly). On the flanks Skinks epically underperformed, leaving the Blood Crushers just about alive on my left. On my right I *just* managed to kill the small letter unit. I lost most of my skinks, the old Blood, Priest and a Vet.

When the butcher’s billy was tallied, and the claiming of freaky forests accounted for, I had gotten myself a 16-4 win.

Game 4 – Tony (Empire)

To say I was worried about this game on table 2 is an epic understatement.
Here’s why (in summary)

Grandmaster, Runefang
Lvl4 Life, barded steed
BSB, barded steed.
Captain on Pegasus
Captain on Pegasus
c13 Knights
c12 Inner Circle Knights w Great Weapons
5 Demigriffs
Laserbeam go cart
Steam Tank
Steam Tank

Yes… one quarter of the functioning steam tanks within the Empire, and one of the 12 legendary Runefangs. Tony is one connected guy, clearly.

So… we both had Dwellers., let’s just get that out in the open. This was, as some would call it, Bad News. It’s a tough one for me when facing this spell – part of me thinks putting Slann in Temple Guard is the best plan, as it allows him to seek safety in combat. On the other, it means he will be in range, which is never fun – first rule of dwellers defence – do not be in range of the spell. If that can’t be avoided, don’t offer up too many targets.

Tony deployed centrally – the Steam Tanks forming up on the (my) far right, his Inner Circle knights with Grandmaster, BSB, lvl4 Life and one of the Peg Captain right of centre, the Demis in the middle (with a Peg Captain) and the normal knights left of centre. The go-kart hung out at the back somewhere. I deployed in a standard way, Temple Guard centrally, supported by various skink units. Senor Compo Pointo, a skirmishing unit and a cohort advancing up my right flank.
The Slann hid out in a some skinks a long way away from his lvl4.
The Priest… not so much.

Given that his Dwellers was on a 14” moving unit, I was worried about a “push-it-forward-6-dice” approach, so sacrificed a chameleon unit in front of it, angled so that a turn one charge would take all the likely targets for dwellers out of arch. The other chameleon unit went on the far left, in his deployment zone. Either they would be dealt with (diverting resources) or, more likely, they were going to run across the back of his army to target the lasercart – they would be in range, turn 3 (maybe 2), and skinks like shooting those things. My vanguards saw me push the Temple Guard up a bit, inviting aggressive charges.

Tony commenced by pushing the baby knights on my left flank aggressively, threatening skinks/Slann/the backfield whilst holding back with everything else. He went for the dweller money shot on the Temple guard, and was stopped.
In my turn a couple of key things happened.
A Scar Vet was tasked with killing the knights on my left, which he eventually did before the end of the game.
More importantly, the Priest moved to within 12” of his Inner Circle bunker, within easy charge range of the Tanks. There was only going to get one shot here….

Cue magic, with not much seemingly on, I rolled heavy on throne. He dispelled it with all dice. I then casually 4 diced Dwellers via the wee priesty (think had some Tetto reroll help). No Scroll? Boom. Breaths held…

Nice. Magic superiority, achieved.

The tanks promptly ran over the offending priest and buddies.

From here, I dealt with the tanks in my the usual way:
The Old Blood soloed out of the Temple Guard unit into one – eventually ripping it apart (before going on to kill the lasercart that had sought protection in combat with some skinks. A skink cohort charged the other tank in the flank, effectively removing it as a threat for a few turns (just need to remember to not stand in front of the cannon…).

Tony then went for one last throw of the dice – hurtling the Demis and the Inner Circle into the Temple Guard. It was pretty bloody, but in the end the Inner Circle unit fled… numbers reduced to the point where only insane courage would save them. The Demi’s, helped by the Peg Captain’s ‘Hold The Line’ hung around to the last man…

When the dust cleared a badly damaged Steam Tank surrounded by a bloody mess was all that was left of the hyper elite empire list.
Dwellers has a habit of ruining games (there really should only be one conclusion once I had killed his lvl4 and BSB), and Lizardmen with the skink’s Vassal rule are very good at getting the alpha strike on this. Of course, from then it is a 50/50 (at best)….

Game 5: Terry (Daemons of Chaos) 

For the final game of the event, amidst a gloriously sunny day when the last thing I wanted to do was go back into a room that, in all honesty, was starting to smell, I had Terry and his Daemons of Magic.
Terry had been busy making table one his at this event, but with a comp score of -6 and a 15-5 win against Wood Elves in game 4, I had a 5 TP lead going into the game.

What to do? Try and hide – limiting loss to less than would make a difference? Push it and see?
The fact that there could well be some people on crazy comp scores winning games the last round meant we both thought we should push it.
To say I was pessimistic is an understatement – his list gives me nightmares.

In summary:

Kairos – took Dwellers, Final Transmutation, Purple Sun, Pitt, Doom and Darkness and Other Spells
Tzeentch Herald lvl 2, BSB
Blue Scribes
4 x 10 Horrors
2 Nurglings
2 Beasts of Nurgle
5 Plague Drones, poison
3 Screamers
5 Flesh Hounds (ambushing)
3 Flamers

So… Kairos has all the tools to win this by himself, which is bad news. Lots of magic missiles, fast combat threats… all in all, bad news.

I had the same issue as in the previous game – Slann in Temple Guard or not?
In this case I made a big mistake, opting to sit in skinks instead. Bad choice.

I wanted to do two things here. Firstly I had to tie down his combat power. Secondly I wanted to pick on horror units – they gave him channels, magic missiles, and, well, they are not THAT hard to kill and points are points.
I split my army roughly into 3 – right flank to go and duel with two horror units and the flamers, centre to try and hold the combat threats and the left to cover as needed/ideally get behind and start threatening Kairos.

I got to put skinks in a pond. This game was always going to be good.

I got first turn and pushed the Temple Guard to be in easy-ish charge range of all his combat elements. Kairos, as he did for pretty much the entirety of the game, managed to shut down all my Life spells completely – I did get one cheeky spell through though...

The Blue Scribes, being all annoying smug due to being stupidly good for their points cost, were hanging out in a unit of Horrors. Tetto (who is also somewhat ok for his points cost (though come to think of it, he did not do all that much at this event)) was jealous and cast Iceshard Blizzard on the Horror unit. Pointless. Except for the lore attribute, that promptly killed the annoying authors. Sure, it’s only 81 odd points, but the pleasure was priceless :)

In Terry’s first turn he went for it. Screamers, Cannon, Drones, Beasts and Nurglings charged the Temple Guard (I was happy to note none of those units can break steadfast, and as such my unit would be there a long time whatever happened - which, after all, was the point. Annoyingly the Beasts could not fit, so later on ended up killing a bunch of skinks instead. From here the combat ground out for most of the game – the right flank went toe to toe for roughly similar loses on both sides. My left flank got caught in the traffic jam caused by the massive combat. Kairos tried to Dweller the Slann. I scrolled it.
The Skullcannon, whose Bloodletters have killing blow, of course killed a Scar Vet. Why not?

Turn 2 I was getting the upper hand in the mass grinding combat. Terry 6 dice Dwellered the Slann, I stopped it.
Turn 3 the much diminished Temple Guard were left fighting just the Nurglings on their flanks – damn their being steadfast in a wood! Terry 6 diced Dwellers on the Slann, irresistibly. I survived. He forgot Dwellers.

Because such a big combat kicked off turn 1 it became apparent there was no way we would get through all 6 turns. I didn’t feel like a 4 turn game was really acceptable, so we agreed to speed play to 5. Another mistake.

Turn 4 the remaining Temple Guard (some 7 plus Old Blood and Scar Vet), finally free, charged a blocking Horror unit, lining up for an overrun into the BSB’s unit. Senor Compo Pointo charged in to let the Temple Guard fight twice in a round if I blew through the first unit as I should. Sure enough, the Temple Guard accounted for two horror units and the BSB. The Slann, under some pressure from the 2 Beast of Nurgle, moved into Tetto’s unit of skirmishing skinks to safety. Terry 6 diced Final Transmutation at the Slann and Tetto. He rolled really badly – barely casting it, using Kairos’ reroll to increase the roll (which he did, by 1). I rolled far worse on 8 dice and failed to stop it.

Readers with elephantine memories will recall me noting that the molecular make up of frogs is clearly akin to that of gold.
Terry picked up his infamous pink cuboid dice…

Tetto… 6.

Slann… 6.

10 Skinks… 7 5+s…
7 Dead.

Sigh. The thing about living through a truism is that, despite you knowing it was going to happen, it is a tad annoying when it does.

Turn 5 I bailed characters out the now 5-strong Temple Guard, the Vet failing a long range to get the flamers. And the Old Blood hanging with some skinks to avoid purple sun goodness. Terry 6 diced Gateway, and took off the remnants of the Temple guard, and picked up another 100ish points of skinks.

And that was all she wrote.

End result a 10-10 in a bloody encounter (we both got c1500 vps off the other). Annoyed at the double 6 on Final Transmutation, but I had no business having Tetto in that unit anyway!

I personally think Terry made a big mistake in this game by focusing so much on trying to kill the Slann. The combat with the Temple Guard could have been won by him with some combat buffs/hexes, at which point he would be on me, my only defensive block gone. I get the temptation – and hindsight is brilliant of course.

The biggest mistake was actually not putting the Slann in the Temple Guard. That would have made a big difference, though the unit would have become a Purple Sun target.

Still the 10-10 meant I finished on 84 points after comp and, well, finished 1st overall.
Which is jolly good, so can’t really complain :)

Good to finally win a 60+ player two day event – it’s good to play in an event with no soft scores! :)

Thoughts on the list:

Temple Guard with Life magic (the LifeGuard as they have been dubbed) are extremely effective (shock). Sure it’s extremely ‘old school’, but the ability to tag an opponent’s threats and hold it (killing it is a big bonus) allowing the rest of the army freedom of manoeuvre is priceless. They need the Old Blood and Vets to be in the unit to reliably kill tough things though.

Tetto, as ever, was a superstar. Even though I did very little casting with him compared to other events, his ability to vanguard the Temple Guard means the opponent has to deal with the unit, one way or another. The odd combat buff thrown in is priceless, and the ability to reroll 1s to cast allows for spamming of Life magic spells with almost-certainty of casting.  

Am tempted to try out a more “Party” Slann for a while instead of the Old Blood (though the list loses a lot by not having him), just for giggles.

Closing thoughts:

Success in an event, as anyone that goes to a lot will tell you, relies on luck. Luck in matchups. Luck in miscasts. Luck in dice. Luck in opponents mistakes. It is very rare in any area of life that someone can keep things perfect with no regard for luck, especially in the inherently rock paper scissors world of WFB.

I was lucky in my matchups – I did not face elves. It’s that simple really. Elves are bad news. People should stop taking them. An avoidance Dark Elf Death list, for example would have been Very Bad News.

The big spells do decide games. Three of my five games were to one extent or another decided by Dwellers or Final Transmutation (and could easily have been so by Purple Sun). Defending from them, winning the positional battle, is a skill. Using it to win is less so. It’s a pity. But they are now some of the only answers to some things in the game – so am not sure what the solution is. Even one look out sir is massive when the person protected can have the potential to win games (an example being a Purple Sun-wielding wizard in the right matchup). I think I tend more towards the idea of encouraging armies that do not rely on a character, so are less effective. Food for thought though.

My opponents, one and all, were true gents, and made the already relaxing weekend a real joy – it was also great to catch up with the usual crowd. Big shout out to #FatCraig finally getting Purple Sun to work for him (a 30” one that by all accounts took off Marcus’ entire Ogre Army off) – its always nice when someone else gets to experience the true power of Purple Sun – and for being seemingly the only one to keep up a good Twitter coverage of the event – though as he has a blocked account if you don’t already follow him you wouldn’t know that, and if you do, you do.

The organisers were also incredibly relaxed and made for a good atmosphere at the event – no one wants overly bossy TOs after all. In short, I recommend this event, highly.

As ever after a weekend of using Lizardmen, I am slightly fed up of them. There is talk of Brets in August, and I have my fingers crossed! In the meantime have the whole house moving/work thing to do, so can relax a bit.

Though, come to think of it… Clash of Swords is in August… time to read the comp pack!

Until next time!