After the VTC and the Belgian Masters, I played a few more online events and was planning to play some tournaments in Belgium and Germany over the summer. I didn´t apply to play for the German WTC team as I was aware that I wouldn´t be able to take part in their training weekend as my work begins before that and I did not want to burden them with a less trained player, as the three German teams had ambitions for decent standings.
However, after talking to Wout from the Belgian Masters TO team, I decided to apply to become a judge as I felt that I could appropriately prepare for that and get to experience WTC that way.
Then three things happened: our family unexpectedly became bigger and that put the kibbosh to all my gaming time over the summer. Then Mk4 was announced and with it the big reboot of the competitive tournament format, meaning that most old-school characters would go away or be relegated to second fiddle. This would especially impact all mixed-faction and mercenary characters. Finally, team Switzerland send a post on page5 that they needed a fifth player. I got in touch with their captain and he assured me that they were mainly there to have fun, not to win the event, so after consulting with my wife, who assured me that she could hold down the fort for three days, I joined their team.
For nostalgia´s sake, I decided to go for Stryker1 as he was the caster I first played in international events and Haley2 because I have so many fond memories of really mastering the game with her.
Stryker1 ran a Galleon, Jakes with a Gallant, two Thamarite and a Morrowan Archon, some Precursor Knights with CA and a Battle Priest, some Battle Mechanics, Ragman, a Hermit, Alexia2 and Gabriel Throne.
Haley2 ran a Squire, Brickhouse, Thorn, a Firefly, Nemo4 with a Mangler, a Storm Strider, Alexia with the Risen, min Storm Lances, 2 Stormsmith Stormcallers and two Storm Towers.
Stryker was pretty basic with Jakes running a second heavy, two Thamarites because they are broken as all hell and some Precursors to clear out anything left over. The plan is to ram the Galleon down the centre, sit out the enemy attack and then counterpunch with it.
The Haley2 list was called ´looks like someone took a Nemo3 list and changed the caster midway´, which I guess is an accurate description. I wanted it to have multiple sources of disruption to deal with Karchev2 and other jack bricks, while still bringing Haley2´s assassination and scenario potential.
I left midday on Friday to be there well in time for the 6 o´clock check-in time, but I had forgotten one crucial detail: Belgium is full of Belgians, especially the roads around Brussels. I managed to get to the venue by 8 due to a truck having rammed a wall in a tunnel on the Ring around Brussels.
After checking in, having sandwiches with some of the Belgian players and finally meeting my team face-to-face, I played a game against one of the players of Norway Hugin because one of the Belgians had called all the Norwegians´ mums trolls and now needed people to back him up on the tabletop. As I had played exactly 0 games since 4th July, I was happy to shake off some of the rust and dropped Haley2 into Crucible Guard, not that I fancied my chances into that faction at all.
It was a big back and forth and my opponent forgot to switch the clock to himself or run it again after a rules question, so we decided to count two minutes off his timer. Anyways, I managed to withstand his firepower for 5 turns but was falling behind on scenario when his time ran out. As we had both made sloppy plays (better that day than the days after), we decided to call it a draw, which also turned the Norway vs Belgium grudge match into a tie. Fair enough.
After nearly falling off a children´s cot in our team apartment, I got a few hours of sleep before the next day.
Round 1: Toms of Finland on Invasion
Like in most rounds, I was dropped early to take a problem matchup away from the rest of the team. This round I got Circle with Kromac1 and Wurmwood and as both lists ran big(gish) battle groups, I decided to drop Haley2. My opponent dropped Wurmwood and went first.
We traded back and forth but the old adage holds true that if both players have a defensive feat, whoever feats first will be at a disadvantage. I killed all of his heavies and most of his armies, but we both had one cleared out circular zone we were scoring on. However, he was on less than a minute starting round 5 and I still have 12 minutes to go, so he let the clock run out and conceded.
My team went 1-4 this round, so off to the beer bracket with us. Well, that should mean we won´t have to play top teams anymore. Right?
Round 2: Germany Gold (Split Decision)
So much for that idea.
I get paired into Nicci, playing Circle (sigh). We had played on the same VTC team this spring, but never actually met in real life, so that was great. He played Krueger 2, which was less fun and also made Haley2 significantly less attractive to play.
Early game, he killed a Thamarite with some rather lucky dice turn 2, but my other one was sniping solos on his flank, which was also near the circular zone. As Krueger was quite far towards the centre of the table, I decided to ram an Arcane Shielded Galleon down his throat and feating. I had also come 6 boxes short of killing a Warpwolf Stalker with the now dead Thamarite Archon and the Galleon, but Hordes being Hordes, anything over 1 damage box is functionally the same.
He obliged and had two Warpwolves and a Woldwarden charge the Galleon after a River Raider and his Hermit had dropped its armour to a mere 23, but his dice shat the bed (plus Hermit negated a charge attack from a Wolf) and he came 24 boxes short. He also feated here. This let me take his 3 heavies and two Death Archons off the table, but unfortunately I could not kill the River Raider who was contesting my flag, nor a Shifting Stone contesting the circular zone, so unfortunately he only had to kill my objective with his last Woldwarden and Krueger2 to win the game on scenario.
My team went 1-4 this round, with our Circle player winning his game.
Round 3: Netherlands Vermeer Recon 2
Their lists looked just as casual as ours and all looked well, so I got dropped into Cryx. He dropped the Witch Coven and as both lists had a fair number of warjacks and Haley can clear out infantry quite easily with all the Lightning Generator models, I dropped her.
He went first and rushed Barathrum with Infernal Machine behind a building, then had Deathjack and Kharybdis a bit further behind, but all in the left zone. Asphyxious and his Inflictor went right and there were some McThralls with 3 Brutes on the table and another set in Ambush. I funneled my army into the centre.
Turn2: Roberth Barathrum ghostwalked through the building and into melee with the Mangler. He felt that he should be able to take it, but come up very short. It didn´t help that he had to move it in 6″ of Nemo4, so the Mangler got to smack it first with a fully boosted attack thanks to Watcher and ripped off an arm. The rest moved up and the Coven feated on my entire army. However he decided to keep the Thralls in ambush and Asphyxious stayed far back in cover.
This is where I reached peak Haley bullshit level. Nemo´s assistants fixed the Mangler and Super Tuned Nemo, who then shot Barathrum and knocked it down, so the Mangler stomped it into oblivion. Haley cast Telekinesis and Temporal Manipulation on Brickhouse, which also had 3 focus. She also feated on all his warjacks and Asphyxious. Brickhouse then walked into 2″ of Deathjack and a Deathripper, killed the arc node and punched Deathjack once because there was nothing else to do with its focus. A Storm Tower that was not in the feat aimed and disrupted Kharybdis.
He brought in the McThralls on his right and they killed all the remaining Risen (two were now Thrall Warriors and engaging his other Thrall unit), but not anyone else. Asphyxious postured a bit and tried to shoot a Stormcaller off my flag, but missed. He wanted to Ghostwalk Deathjack out of melee with Brickhouse, but then I read him Brickhouse´s Magnahold rule and he realised that unless someone went and killed Brickhouse, it would just be able to whale on Deathjack without DJ ever being able to retaliate. Kharybdis flailed at Brickhouse, but without focus there wasn´t much it could do.
The Storm Strider and Nemo4 casually finished off the unit of McThralls in my rear and the Mangler walked into the other unit and cleared most of them with a Thresher and electro leaps from Lightning Shroud. My Lances and Thorn beat up Kharybdis and Brickhouse smashed bits off Deathjack, who lost his movement, so my Storm Tower disrupted him. With that, the writing was on the wall as Asphyxious 4 could not kill the Mangler without risking being shot be Nemo4 or the Storm Strider (I had the True Sight objective and warped in a Gun Mage Captain Adept to apply Flare too in case he was Occultated) and his two heavies were disrupted and also running out of boxes. His Inflictor tried to clear out Brickhouse, but as it was still on nearly full boxes and too far away for any initials bar the two-inch Stinger, no systems broke, so I won on scenario while also having 13:07 minutes to my opponent´s two minutes.
My team mates broke their curse and we won the round 3-2.
Round 4: Sweden Super Trouper (King of the Hill)
I got paired last and got the Dreamer. My opponent picked Ruin, Sacrifice and her trump. I rolled higher and went first.
The Dreamer advanced a bit, but stayed in 3″ of an Arcane Vortex from a Cage Rager and with a Crabbit in 3″ too. She also dropped to two Fury and created a wall of rough terrain in the centre with the help of the two Defiled Archons.
Unfortunately, she also stood in the perfect place for my Firefly to walk into 5″ of her, then Thorn ran to get line of sight to her and be in 8″. Haley cast three TKs to get through Ruin and the Arcane Vortex, but the third one turned the Dreamer around and moved her into the open, 3.2″ from the Crabbit and with her back against my army. Haley2 also cast Temporal Acceleration onto the Storm Strider and feated on all the heavies and Archons, so even if the assassination run would fail, there would be no serious retaliation. The Storm Strider walked into 10″ of the Dreamer so now I had +2 to hit and damage on her, so she got unceremoniously dumped by the Storm Strider and a final shot from a Storm Tower. Nemo4 would have been able to shoot her too if necessary.
My team was ahead 2-0 after my 20-minute game and another early assassination, but then unfortunately lost 2-3.
Round 5: Hungary (Spread the Net)
I got dropped into a Cygnar mirror into Sloan with all the lights. I went first and decided to be cute and give the Galleon Snipe instead of Arcane Shield to pick off lights next turn.
He saw that as a golden opportunity to kill the Galleon turn 1, so he feated and pumped a ton of shots into it, but came 7 points short thanks to the Hermit and the Morrowan Archon. After that, the game was functionally over as I feated on him and contested his zone whilst clearing the middle circle. Eventually, my Thamarite Archon on the right started scoring that flag too after Gabriel Throne had charged and killed Caine0 who had been hiding behind a wall on that flag.
In the end, he ran out of time and Stryker ended the game by standing with one leg and ball in the central circle and his other leg and ball in my square zone.
Maybe I lucked out (Oddsmachine has his odds of killing the Galleon at about 50%), or maybe I am just a masterful baiter.
Sadly, my team went 1-4 again.
Round 6: Netherlands Rembrandt (Bunkers)
I was paired into their first player, but they decided to leave me on the table, so I got Skorne in the end. My opponent was Duane from South Africa, whom I had played against during the first VTC. He brought Xekaar and Jalaam, both with some beasts but no serious beatsticks, so I felt that Stryker1 ramming a Galleon into his lists was better than Haley2 having to get through Force Auras, Lightning immune beasts and other shenanigans. I went first into Xekaar.
There were only some clouds in the centre of the table, so I went with an Observatory, moved forward, put Snipe of the Galleon again, Blur on the Precursor Knights and Arcane Shield on a Thamarite Archon because I had never tried that.
He had little shooting beyond Chiron´s spray (which can however threaten about 21 inches with Assault and stuff) so he had to cautiously move up and couldn´t do much more. This opened him up for a cheeky 14″ Harpoon shot on his Rhinodon after Ragman turned on his Deathfield on the Galleon. It promptly clowned the Rhinodon and also dealt some chip damage with its nipple guns to a Basilisk Drake. As I was still far from him, the rest of my force took some potshots and I did not feat.
All he could reach was an Archidon that could charge the Thamarite Archon in the middle, but missed on its second attack after only dealing 9 damage on the first one plus Vorkesh and a single Cetrati on the same Archon after it dodged out of melee with the Archidon. They missed it due to the Morrowan Archon´s aura and it dodged further to the side to line up shots into their back arc after they repositioned with their mini feat. Xekaar feated, covering most of his army.
The Hermit walked into his army and opened the gate for -2 ARM. Gallant managed to kill three Cetrati as it could just stay out of feat range. The Thamarite then killed the rest of the unit by shooting them in the back and exploding them into each other. The Galleon got Arcane Shield and killed Chiron with the help of the Precursor Knights, which also killed the Archidon after the Morrowan Archon had blinded it.
As he was down to his caster, a Death Archon and his support models against my ful army under feat, he threw in the towel, especially as I was able to score both flags and also start contesting his flag next turn.
Due to some not very kosher moves of one Dutch player, we lost the deciding game to end up with 2-3 in the round and a final 1-5 for the WTC, while I went 5-1 in my individual games.
I would like to thank the judge staff for running a tight ship, the Belgian logistics team for saving the event and dealing with 250 nerds and the Swiss team for letting me play for them.