Last weekend, I attended an event. The event in question was the Games Workshop Age of Sigmar Heat 1, in Brisbane, QLD. I was pretty stoked with how the weekend went, so figured it deserved its own article about it. I will warn any readers that this article is significantly longer than most, so grab yourself a drink or a snack (or both) and settle in.
This tournament was different from most of the other local events for two reasons. Firstly, it was officially run at one of the local Warhammer stores (which meant no proxies or 3rd party models), and secondly, it had a unique scoring system. You could only score a third of the tournament points from games, the other two thirds came from your opponents picking you as one of their favourite games and armies they played against. This is very unique, as it meant even if you went undefeated, you weren’t guaranteed to win it, which makes it unlike almost every other tournament in the local scene.
As I am a very busy person, I would be playing Seraphon, as they are the only army that I am practised with, and the only one I would be able to get finished in time. I wasn’t unhappy with that decision, as I quite like how they are performing as an army in the current meta, they have a good game against most other armies, and with my list in particular, I felt like I could limit any really bad matchups or battleplans. So I set about trying to tweak my list to be the best it possibly could be. I swapped a model here, changed a spell there, and ended up with a list that I really enjoyed playing. It had good mobility, decent damage output, could take a solid hit, and had a decent amount of tricks.
– Constellation: Thunder Lizard
– Grand Strategy: Prized Sorcery
– Triumphs: Inspired
Stegadon with Skink Chief (305)**
– Command Trait: Prime Warbeast
– Artefact: Cloak of Feathers
– Weapon: Skystreak Bow
– Mount Trait: Beastmaster
Slann Starmaster (265)*
– Spell: Stellar Tempest
Skink Starpriest (130)*
– Spell: Hand of Glory
Skink Priest (80)*
– Universal Prayer Scripture: Heal
Terradon Chief (80)**
– Artefact: Fusil of Conflaguration
Celestant-Prime, Hammer of Sigmar (325)**
10 x Skinks (75)*
– Boltspitters Celestite Daggers & Star Bucklers
10 x Skinks (75)**
– Boltspitters Celestite Daggers & Star Bucklers
10 x Skinks (75)**
– Boltspitters Celestite Daggers & Star Bucklers
10 x Skinks (75)**
– Boltspitters Celestite Daggers & Star Bucklers
3 x Terradon Riders (105)**
– Sunleech Bolas
3 x Terradon Riders (105)**
– Sunleech Bolas
Bastiladon with Solar Engine (250)**
Endless Spells & Invocations
The Burning Head (20)
Total: 1965 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 0 / 4
Allies: 325 / 400
The overall gist of the list was adaptability, it was designed to compete in every phase of the game, so any specialised armies I faced, I could adapt and try and beat them where they were weakest. To start with, it was a 5 drop list. This wasn’t low enough to get the choice every game, but it outdrops the lists that aren’t designed to outdrop other lists. Over the course of the event, I out dropped four of my opponents, only being beaten by a single drop army. In addition, the list was 45 points under the limit, this meant that I often got my triumph, and with it being Inspired (+1 to wound for a phase), it can be devastating depending on how I used it.
Majority of my list is built around my bunker, starting with the Realmshaper Engine. This terrain piece is amazing and it’s ability to protect my squishy heroes and provide some good damage is awesome. Majority of the time, my two skink heroes and the slann go into it, but I occasionally left them behind it instead, if I was facing a shooting heavy list and was worried about them being sniped out.
Accompanying my heroes are my monsters, a Bastiladon and a Stegadon. Most games, the Bastiladon goes on one side, with the Stegadon on the other. These two models combined give me a really solid firebase, and with the amount of buffs I can put out, either of them can be turned into a wrecking ball. The Stegadon in particular, with the cloak of feathers, can just reach out and remove entire units, if I need it to. Often these models would be hugging terrain, as any terrain in my terrority counts as Mystical for me, granting my models a 6+ ward save. Whilst this isn’t a huge buff, having a ward save for the majority of my models is nice, as it mitigates some of the incoming damage.
And speaking of incoming damage, Scaly Skin is downright the most amazing defensive buff in the game. Reducing all incoming damage by 1, (to a minimum of 1), is fantastic. Almost all my opponents had at least one model that was crippled by this ability, and to get it for free is just mean. I’m genuinely surprised I got any sports votes, as the most common phrase I said at the tournament was “2 damage goes down to 1”.
Adding the terradons into the list was the most recent change I had made, previously I had some Chameleon Skinks and a Skink Starseer. These guys were useful, but I found that after they appeared people either dealt with them quickly or they were left alone. The terradons gave me a threat from the start of the game, and with the Chief being able to drop bombs on a 2+, they had some very good damage output. Add in the Chief carrying the Fusil, means that I can get good use of the required artefact, and he is much more of a threat than his points would suggest.
The final key to the list was my ally. I debated either the Celestant-Prime or a pair of Stormdrake Guard. I ended up going for the Prime for one big important reason. I had the model. Unfortunately, the Stormdrakes I ordered didn’t arrive in time, so the Prime was in. I’m still not sold on the Stormdrakes being better than the Prime, they out performed in a couple of practice games, but the auto charge from the Prime, and the Rend 3 attacks bring a lot to the list. I’ll keep debating this in future, as it changes the list quite a bit.
So, I had the list, I had my ticket, I was ready to do my best and see what I got. I was hoping to get a place in the finals, but what I got was so much more.
Round 1 – Jarrod – Nerves and Knights
My first round was against Jarrod, someone I had never met. I have a real problem whenever I travel for a tournament, and that is I usually end up playing someone from the local scene, so I was happy to dodge the two other Toowoomba guys at the event in the first round. Then I saw Jarrod was pulling Stormcast out of his box and I got nervous. From previous experiences, my list can compete against Stormcast, but I need to get lucky and ideally need my opponent to make a mistake.
After a quick introduction, I looked over his list and saw that he had two units of Annihilators, one unit of nine and one of six. Both these units would be hard to deal with and hit like trucks, so I was worried. During deployment, I focused on setting up all my important units in the middle of my army, far enough away that Jarrod couldn’t do too much damage if he made his charges. I gave him first turn, held my breath and waited.
Jarrod did not mess around, immediately moving up his army and bombing down both units on each of my flanks. Phew, at least I wouldn’t have to screen out the drops for the rest of the game. Then both units made their charges and my fears were justified. Both units completely annihilated (pun intended) their targets (two units of skinks and one unit of terradons), and were locking me into my deployment zone. I knew I had to deal with both of them this turn or things were going to get rough. I ended up popping absolutely everything I had and every once per game ability was used that turn. I put the majority of my buffs on my stegadon, relying on my spells and shooting to deal with one side, whilst my stegadon went in on the other. When the dust settled at the end of the turn, both units had one member left and Jarrod had no command points left. Both lone annihilators ran away, and I breathed again.
Jarrod won priority the next turn, but it had started going downhill already. He just didn’t have enough models left to really do too much damage, and just secured some of the middle objectives. My turn saw two units of vindictors disappear as my magical and ranged power was brought to bear, with me taking one of the middle objectives off Jarrod.
Jarrod won priority again, but with only two support heroes and a single unit, he knew it was over. My turn saw the Celestant-Prime come down and the rest of Jarrod’s army was slain. We shook hands, and round one was finished.
As we finished so quickly, we had plenty of time to chat and it was nice to get to know an opponent after the game, instead of just quickly packing up and moving to the next one. Jarrod took the loss like a champ and we had a good discussion about what we thought of the game, the meta, the other players, and the hobby as a whole. He hadn’t played many games of third edition yet, so was still wrapping his head around some of the finer details and tricks you can pull. He was keen to try and get to one of the Gauntlet events I was running, just to get more games in and learn all the new combos, and I heavily encouraged him. Hopefully I’ll see him at a Gauntlet or two, but as he often works weekends it will make it hard.
Getting up in the first game was definitely a load off my mind. I’m always nervous before an event, no matter what level or seriousness it is, so getting through round one without making a huge mistake is always the first goal of the day for me. Everyone went off for lunch after that and when we came back, I was ready for round two.
Round 2 – Tyler – Fast and Furious Flies
My round two was against Tyler, another person I hadn’t played before, hooray! The difference was I had seen Tyler play at several other events, and I knew he was no pushover. I’ve watched him systematically dismantle several other people at a previous Gauntlet, so I prepared as best I could.
Tyler was playing Maggotkin of Nurgle and had a boatload of flies. He also out dropped me, and I knew those flies were faster than they seemed, so I deployed my entire army behind a solid screen of skinks. The issue that arose was that the flies do mortal wounds on the charge, so I carefully made sure all my important models were far enough back to stop him hitting my frontline and then piling into my heroes and monsters. Little did I know this would be my undoing.
Tyler took first turn, and with a pregame move for the flies, was in my face at the end of his first movement phase. I knew this turn was going to hurt, but I was confident my counterattack would be just as brutal. Then Tyler started rolling his charges, and every single roll was high enough for his flies to leapfrog my screen and get straight into my heros. Because I was worried about the piling in, I had left enough room for his flies to land just behind my front line. His impact hits did a lot of damage, but the kicker was his Lord of Afflictions. He shutdown my ability to use my own command abilities when I was near him and thanks to an excellent play by Tyler, he was near all my heroes.
So my counterattack was dismal compared to what I was hoping for. I managed to kill one of the smaller units, but in return he killed all my heroes in my realmshaper. I was in trouble and definitely needed some big plays to get back in the game.
Tyler won priority going into turn 2 and just kept up the pressure. I was losing models everywhere, through a combination of disease, spells, and attacks. That turn I lost my Bastiladon and Stegadon and Tyler cemented his hold on the game. I played very passively in my turn, to try and hang on for as long as possible and hope he made a mistake.
I managed to win the priority round three, but I could feel the game slipping. I went for a big play with my lone terradon rider and the chief trying to clear an objective and failing. My Celestant-Prime came down and killed the Lord of Afflictions that had been such a pain, but it was only a moral victory. Tyler finished me off the next turn and took a big win.
After the game, as we were talking, both of us agreed that there wasn’t much I could’ve done once he got stuck in. His army is designed to hit, stick and grind and he was seeing great success with it. Over the course of the weekend, Tyler won every single game, completely tabled most opponents, and only failed a single battle tactic! I was right to be worried going into our game, but one loss wasn’t the end of the world, so I packed up my army and moved on to the next game.
Round 3 – Barry – The Neverending Wards
Round three saw me matched up against Barry, another new opponent! Barry is very new to the wider scene, with this being his second two-day event. He had come to a couple of the Gauntlet events, so I had seen him play previously, and I knew he had been doing better and better, so I was on my guard.
His Stormcast list was different from most, having three chariots threatening from the sky meant that I had to be really careful about screening, as I really didn’t want any of them hitting me from a surprise angle. Add in a big unit of Judicators with their ability to double shoot and I knew this was going to be interesting. I out dropped him, and gave away the first turn, as he had deployed his judicators out of range of all my attacks, so I knew I would need to weather at least one turn before I could deal with them.
Barry’s first turn was simple, as he hadn’t played against seraphon in a while, he asked for a quick crash course through what my list can do. He very quickly identified that the Bastiladon was a problem, so decided to kill that first. After teleporting his Judicators into range of it, and firing off two volleys of shots, he had significantly scratched it up.
Then lightning struck, and three chariots and Gardus appeared in front of it and tried to charge in. One chariot charged into the screen and another chariot made it into the bastiladon and killed it with the impact hits.
Okay, so I’ve now lost one of my major sources of damage and I have three chariots directly in front of my heroes. I then decided that whilst the chariots are deadly, I’m more worried about the judicators. If I can’t kill them now, then I’m in for a bad time, as they teleport around the board and snipe out all my models. I threw my stegadon forward to deal with them, whilst the rest of my forces converged on the chariots. I managed to do some damage to the chariots with the terradons, and skinks, but they hung around thanks to some clutch ward saves that Barry made. However my stegadon did its job and wiped out the judicators.
Barry won priority for turn two, and tasked two fulminators and a chariot with clearing the stegadon, whilst the other chariots continued to grind down my forces. They ended up just killing the stegadon, whilst the rest of his troops secured his position on the table. My turn two saw me continue to try and wipe out the pesky chariots. I did manage to end one, but the other one hung around with another couple of important ward saves. The chariot and fulminators in the centre also survived everything I threw at them, with Gardus’s ward save bubble being perfectly positioned to foil my plans.
Going into turn three, I lost priority again and Barry kept his foot down and continued clearing out my remaining troops. He had some horrible dice that meant my Slann managed to live, whilst his ward saves showed no signs of slowing, with me failing to do much damage at all.
My turn three saw my Celestant Prime come down and finally end the chariot in the centre, but then disaster struck and he was slain by the counterattacking fulminators. Combining that disappointment with the chariot finally killing the slann, I was left crushed. Barry cleared the rest of the field, except for a lone skink starpriest hiding at the back of the board. He took the win and looked relieved the day was over.
Chatting after the game, we both had a blast, he has been perfecting his use of the chariots over the last couple of one-day events and it showed on the table. He brought them down where he needed, sent them in when required and they hung around long enough to stymy any of my plans. For me, Gardus’s ward save was the greatest struggle, thanks to Barry’s expert positioning throughout the game, never giving me a chance to snipe him out, and almost always having that ward save on all the important models.
Round 4 – Anthony – What is Dead needs to Die
Round 4 was first up on day two and everyone was back with a vengeance. My opponent was Anthony, who had brought his Soulblight army all the way from Melbourne. Two of my friends both play soulblight, so I thought I knew what I was in for. That was until Anthony unpacked his army and I saw a ton of models I had never faced. Blood Knights, a Vengorian Lord and Fell Bats all faced me smugly, and not knowing what they could do, I was worried. Anthony quickly explained what they could do, easing my concerns slightly, but I knew I needed to play well if I wanted the win.
I gave Anthony first turn, and he played it fairly passively, just moving up slightly to get some position and using some of his defensive abilities. These proved crucial as I wasn’t able to do much damage with any of my spells or ranged attacks, and he mostly survived the first turn unscathed.
He won the roll for priority and decided that it was go time! He committed Prince Vhordrai and the Vengorian Lord into my forces and wrecked a big chunk of my units. At the end of the turn, he had complete control of one flank, and had 2 big monsters threatening my centre. I knew I had to clear the monsters if I wanted to have an army at the end of the next turn. So I didn’t hold back, I knew I couldn’t afford to. Every once per game ability was popped again and when the smoke cleared, I had managed to kill both of the monsters. I hadn’t scratched anything else, and there was still a mass of blood knights about to hit me, but I was able to deal with the most immediate threat.
Anthony won the roll for priority and his eyes locked on the bastiladon. He decided to commit everything to clearing it, and in doing so, he would take my centre objective and force me into a corner. He threw everything had at it, charging in several units of dire wolves, several units of blood knights and even his necromancer, but the mighty bastiladon held on, tanked it out and was ready for his revenge. Despite this, Anthony still took my centre objective and burnt it for the extra points.
My turn saw my celestant come down and clear off the isolated blood knights who were guarding an objective in his backfield, whilst the stegadon turned to face the growing combat in the centre and moved in to assist his monstrous buddy. After the rampaging monsters finished, most of the wolves were dealt with and the knights were severely reduced.
Turn four saw me win priority and Anthony agreed to call it, it was highly likely that I was going to clean up what he had left this turn, and we discussed and rolled out some key things to finish off the game.
A fantastic way to start the second day, I very much enjoyed playing Anthony. Despite suffering some big losses early, he stayed in, continued to push for victory and had a very “never-say-die” attitude about the game. This is one game where I really think the final score didn’t represent the game, as it could have gone a different way very easily.
Round 5 – Steven – Skulls and Crossbows
The last game of the weekend was against Steven the Pirate. Steven rocked up with a beautifully converted cities army, a massive display board, and in full pirate costume. He was playing a tempest eye army that had an ironclad and gunhauler as allies, and was chock full of corsairs! The final battle plan was veins of ghur, so I knew his mobility was going to be key, so I needed to do damage and do it fast.
He out dropped me and took first, and started with his frostheart phoenix flying directly towards me, whilst the rest of his army followed suit. I was immediately on the back foot, as he was almost on my frontlines and if he could keep me off the objectives I had no chance. He started his shooting phase with the ironclad nuking my terradon chief with a cannon, then his hurricanum opened up and with a terrible roll only managed a couple of wounds on my slann, but he solved that particular problem by charging in his phoenix to put the frog down.
In my turn I knew I needed to do two things, firstly, I needed to deal with the phoenix, and secondly I needed to kill that hurricanum. I spiked massively with one unit of terradons and put 7 wounds on the phoenix, taking it down to only a couple left after the shooting from the bastiladon. My stegadon got greedy and shot his bow at some corsairs instead of trying to bracket the hurricanum, and so took 9 wounds from an unleash hell when he charged it. The stegadon didn’t manage to end the hurricanum, thanks to being bracketed so much and some nice saves from Steven, and the phoenix was left alive on 2 wounds. Not the most ideal situation, but I figured if I could win priority it wouldn’t be too bad.
Thankfully I won priority, even with Steven getting his girlfriend to roll the dice for good luck. I eagerly took the turn as I knew I needed to really get work done if I wanted to stay in the game. I managed to kill the phoenix with some shooting, freeing up the bastiladon to start chipping down the big block of corsairs that was bearing down on me. The stegadon killed the hurricanum in combat and held the centre objective for me. Steven countered with guns, lots and lots of guns. After manoeuvring around for the optimal firing angles, he took down some terradons, some skinks, and the stegadon. He shot at the bastiladon as well, but only managed to put a couple of wounds on it.
Priority came up again, and once again it was important. If Steven won it, likely he would’ve been able to clear one side of my army, and bring the pressure to keep me held back. If I won it, I would’ve been able to break out and start dismantling his army.
I won it again, phew! The bastiladon continued chipping down the mass of pirates that were about to swarm me, whilst the rest of my force moved around to threaten and take the new objectives. I brought down the celestant-prime and charged him into the ironclad holding the centre of the table, and disaster, a below average roll for me, and a nice spike from the saves saw the skyboat alive and well, holding on with a couple of wounds left. Thankfully I had done enough damage to the rest of Steven’s army to mitigate his response. He cleared out the rest of my skinks on one objective but crucially he wasn’t able to kill the prime or the bastiladon. The prime brought the ironclad down to a single wound, but got greedy and killed some corsairs instead of finishing it off.
Again priority was vital. Once again I won it, and couldn’t afford to give it away. Thanks to a couple of failed deadly tests, a lot of Steven’s models were missing a couple of wounds, so I began trying to clean up. I managed to wipe the corsairs, the ironclad, the gunhauler, his general and the few chariots Steven had littered around the board. Left with just his runelord, we called it in the bottom of turn 4.
After the game, we were both wrecked, it was easily the closest game we both played over the weekend, and every priority roll mattered. If I had lost a single roll, I doubt the game would have ended the same way. But it was a fantastic game that I enjoyed immensely, and I’m really happy that it was how I ended the weekend.
TLDR: This Weekend was Kickass
So I ended the weekend on a solid 3-2. I was a little disappointed, as I was really hoping to manage 4-1, but I had an awesome time. I got to play 5 people I hadn’t played before, and three of them I had never met before that day, and against all very different armies. I was happy with how I played as well, and honestly, at the end of the day, making no big mistakes at a tournament is an achievement all by itself.
As we all hung around for the prizes, they started with a couple of other awards, then got into announcing the final ladder. Now, I mentioned that this was a different style tournament, with sportsmanship and painting nominations (2 from each player) being counted as part of the final standings. I was expecting to get maybe 9th or 10th, and really hoping to sneak into the top 8 so I could get an invite to the final.
They started announcing from the bottom and once they got in the low teens, I got ready to stand up and get my scoresheet back. Then they said they only had the top 8 left, and I hadn’t been called yet. Awesome, I’ve made it into the finals, I thought. They then started with the top 8, and name after name was called, and still I didn’t hear mine. Then they announced 3rd place and 2nd place, and still no name. I immediately start wondering if I forgot to hand in my final sheet, or they’ve lost it. There was no way I could be first. Well, I was wrong.
The Tournament Organiser stood there and said that the overall winner exemplified the three aspects of what the Warhammer Championships are all about – Generalship, Hobby and Sportsmanship. Then he looked over to me, called me out and everyone started clapping. As I walked up to get the trophy, he explained that every single one of my opponents voted for me as one of their favourite games, and one of their favourite armies that they faced. So I had won the event by a landslide. I scored 39 out of 45 possible points.
So after writing almost 5000 words about this tournament, I’m still in a bit of shock that I did as well as I did. I played 5 awesome games, against 5 awesome people and it culminated in an awesome weekend. I would highly recommend anyone who is thinking about going to a tournament to take that plunge. You might find a hyper-competitive environment that is quite toxic, but more than likely you will find a welcoming community, full of people who are obsessed with the same game as yourself, and who are keen to make more friends. Taking that leap will most likely take your enjoyment of this wonderful hobby to the next level.
Until Next Time,