Polymath Tabletop

The World Championships of Warhammer

So, how do you sum up an event like the World Championships of Warhammer? I had a fantastic time there, and I definitely want to do it justice, so this is going to be a challenge. No a challenge compared to the road to get there, and the quality of my opponents there, but a challenge nonetheless.

I earnt my “Golden Ticket” at Cancon’s Call to Glory 2023. I came fourth out of over 200 people, going undefeated over five rounds. You can read all about my games there in a previous blog article here. There was a definite upside to getting one of the first Golden Tickets, but it came with some downsides as well. The upside was that I knew that I wanted to go, so I could organise flights and the hotel with plenty of time, as well as be able to properly plan in advance to get away from work. The downsides was that with so much time to plan everything, I knew I would be putting a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I’m a fairly competitive guy, so pushing myself to get a solid result was only natural, but I knew I needed to taper my ambitions. The field was going to be the best of the best, so there would be no easy game there. Knowing that, and actually knowing it, were two completely different things.

Fast forwarding almost a full year, I’m getting on a plane (with my wife) to travel to Atlanta, USA. After a mere 30 hours of travel, we finally get there, with only one flight making me panic and nearly forcing me to check my army box. We were collected by Seth, one of the local wargamers, who very kindly drove us to our hotel. I cannot thank Seth and the Georgia Wargamers enough, as after travelling for so long, having someone meet us there, and help us to our hotel was amazing.

We only arrived two days before the event started, so we were keen to make the most of it. The first day we went to the Georgia Aquarium, and if you haven’t been before, I can highly recommend it. After a quick tour behind the “seas”, we zoned out in front of the exhibits, a perfect solution to try and adjust to the timezone, whilst also not really pushing us too hard.

We ended up meeting some of the other Australian AoS players, Tom, Mitch, and Joel, and went to a barbecue place for lunch. It was awesome to meet Mitch and Joel, and catch up with Tom, who I hadn’t properly caught up with in years. We had many discussions about the upcoming event. The pools, the lists, the players. We were all excited and pumped to be able to play in it.

That night we ended up meeting at the hotel, pushing a couple of tables together, used some disposable cups as terrain, and had a quick practice game to get the rust off. Whilst we were playing, we meet a whole stack of the event staff, including most of the top-level organisers. They were pumped to see that we were so excited to play, we weren’t going to let anything stop us.

The next day was the most terrifying day. No, it wasn’t the first day of the tournament, it was the day I had promised my wife we would go shopping…. And that I would cover it….. So I was suitably worried. But my fears were unfounded, as we had a really enjoyable day visiting all the local US stores that we don’t have back home. The afternoon was spent moving hotels, and harrassing the GW staff trying to set everything up, whilst we all hung around and very clearly just got in the way.

From Left; Joel, Tom, Coach, Mitch, Myself, and Dave

Thursday was the official start of the event, with the first two rounds of the pool play happening. I got matched up against one of the US guys, Chris, who had brought his Gloomspite Gitz. Now this game was about to begin a theme of the weekend, bad luck. I’m not one to discount any mistakes that I make, I always find that if you make mistakes, that is good, because it is something you can improve on. The problem with luck, is there isn’t too much you can do to improve it. You can make different decisions in the game and with list design, to give you the most reliable rolls, but if you have bad luck, you have bad luck.The turning point was when my Kurnoth Hunters attacked Chris’s Fellwater Troggs, and proceeded to miss 15 out of their 18 attacks (needing 4’s). Chris was a little speechless at this point, but that pretty much sealed the game. That isn’t to discount Chris’s game, he played impeccably. He didn’t make any mistakes, and never gave me a gap in his lines to exploit. But a solid loss early was not how I was hoping to start the tournament, but things could only go up from here.

Unfortunately, my luck didn’t really improve. My next round was against another US local, Tommy, with his Ogor Mawtribes. I really liked Tommy’s list and will likely be putting something similar on the table, and after playing him, I definitely know how to pilot the list well. The crux of the game was me winning the priority roll for turn 2, and giving it away. Now, at the time, I wasn’t going to be able to achieve a lot, and Tommy would need to make 9 inch charges (or higher) for his entire army, so I was (and still am) confident it was the right play. Until Tommy made every single charge, and did an absolute bucket of damage with mortal wounds. He made all five 9+ charges, and devastated my front line units. He was a little taken aback by just how much carnage he has inflicted. But we pressed on, and just like Chris, he played beautifully. He accounted for all the moves I could make, was systematic with his choices, and just kept up the pressure until I had nothing left.

Okay, so two losses now, which is not how I had pictured the first day. But with that being said, I played two great games against two great opponents, and I had held my own. Neither game had been a whitewash, and I fought for every point that I could. Both games ended 13-28 to my opponent, but both games were some of the cleanest and most fun games I had played.

Day 2 of the pools was three games, and first up was Ricky from the US. Ricky was playing Gloomspite Gitz, and his army was amazing! He made it through to the showcase for the painting awards, and it was well deserved. But not only did he have an absolutely beautiful army, he was also an absolutely kickass person. Our game was incredibly enjoyable, with both of us helping and reminding each other of special rules, abilities, throughout the game. I played very well, and only through some hot dice, did I manage to hold on and sneak through a win. Ricky played an amazing game, and he definitely cemented my opinion that nobody here was going to be a walkover.

My second game that day was against Evariste. He was my first non-US opponent, having travelled over from France, and he was playing Lumineth. Now I will preface this game (and the next one) by saying I have played against some French players when I attended the World Team Championships for Warmachine, in 2016 and 2018. Neither game was very enjoyable, and both had some questionable events happen. But Evariste proved that this was just a player issue, and not a stereotype. We had a fantastic game. And I’ve said that before, but this game was probably the most intense and interesting game of Age of Sigmar I have ever played. Despite a little mess up by me, we both agonised over every decision, celebrated every dice roll, lamented over failures, and had an amazing time! And for the game to end in draw was an incredible way to end it. After we had shaken hands, we both slumped down in our chairs, absolutely wrecked from the game.

But I couldn’t rest too much as my next game was right around the corner, and it was another Frenchman, this time it was Martin with his Sylvaneth. I love and hate the mirror matchup, especially Sylvaneth. I love it, because it is such a technical skill check, but hate it because once someone gets ahead, they usually stay ahead. This game was a blast, and after Martin had warmed up to my particular brand of humour (insulting Drycha at every opportunity) we had a pretty fun game. Martin took an early lead, and managed to keep me from scoring a perfect turn in round 3, and combined with some really hot dice in the closing turns, took it out with a solid win. It was still a great game, and I’m definitely happy with how I played.

Unfortunately going 1-1-3 in the pool play wasn’t my ideal outcome. I was hoping for a positive result, but I definitely underestimated the calibre of players. Every game was a finals top-table level game, every player was an absolutely top player. One of the best parts of the event so far was that both my opponents and I had seemed to enjoy every game, so I was very happy about that.

Day 3, or Saturday, introduced the split between the top 8 (Championship Bracket) and the rest (Worlds Bracket), I was solidly in the worlds bracket, but that still meant another three games against some of the best players in the world. My first game that day was against Matthew, and his Nighthaunt, that he had brought all the way from Wales. His was another army that made the showcase, and it was well deserved, with extensive conversions throughout. Unfortunately for me, Nighthaunt is a bad matchup, as they don’t care about the rend that I can bring, and all my mortal wounds are on 6’s to hit, so they can be very unreliable. Even more unfortunately, Matt knew his army inside and out, and definitely knew he had the advantage. He played an amazing game, and never really gave me the opportunity to scalpel out his important pieces, and he got a solid win.

My second game that day was against Ricky again. I checked with the judges, and they confirmed that because it was a new tournament (in the system) then it was fine. I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t get to play someone new, but I was pumped to play Ricky again. This game was even better than the last, we had each other’s measure, and had an amazing game. We were both shocked when a judge came over and asked why we were taking so long, as it turned out that we played for four and half hours without realising it. This was another great game, and it ended in a tie, after a massive longshot play from me in the final turn. I definitely think a tie was a suitable result for that game, as we both played quite well, with neither of us really having control of the game. Each turn was a puzzle to be solved, and we both helped each other throughout. It was truly the way Age of Sigmar was meant to be played.

My last game was another mirror match, this time against Alexis from Canada. He had a really nicely converted army, built around several monsters, and it really popped on the table. Unfortunately for me, being another mirror matchup, Alexis had some good dice early, and combined with a poor turn of dice for getting my buffs out, saw him take a very solid win. But once again, despite the dice going one way, Alexis played an awesome game, never letting up and stopping all opportunities for me to try and come back. He was also a fantastic opponent, so despite not being the result I was hoping for, it was still a great game to end the event.

And with that, my run at the World Championships of Warhammer was over. I ended the event with one win, 2 draws, and five loses. I’ve fairly happy with how I played, I only dropped a single battle tactic over the event (before getting tabled), and that was on purpose to get up on attrition. My biggest issue with the games, was my grand strategy. I didn’t score it in a single game, but I knew that it was always a weak point in the list. The problem was there isn’t a good alternative with this list, at least not one that wouldn’t be easily deniable by any opponent. But my list was originally written for a different style tournament (but more on that later), so I’m very happy with how it performed.

Now onto reviewing the event itself. I’ll briefly touch on issues that I had with the event, as they are massively outnumbered by the aspects that I enjoyed, but they are all worth noting.

Firstly, the lack of a any concrete event details until only a couple of months before. I had to email the organisers to get any details about the exact dates so I could plan my flights, and even then, the response was just a vague “It should be Thursday through to Sunday”. This made it annoying as I had hoped to organise the rest of the trip earlier, but held off so I didn’t mistakenly book the wrong flights.

Also, my only recent experience with Games Workshop tournaments is at the local championship store. This is a bad thing, as I assumed that Games Workshop events would have a similar scoring system, with a split between battle (50%), painting (25%), and sportsmanship (25%). The WCW had almost an even split between battle and painting, with sportsmanship nowhere to be seen.

Now, I completely understand why sportsmanship wasn’t being used in the final scoring, with an international field and a possible language barrier, but to completely omit it entirely is a mistake in my opinion. I originally designed my list to be fairly interactive, giving my opponent an interesting game, as opposed to my Seraphon list at the moment, which is a very dull game for my opponent. This ties back into the lack of a players pack early, as had I known that sportsmanship wasn’t included, and that painting was so heavily weighted, I might have taken a very different list.

Another issue with not including any sportsmanship awards, is that it unfortunately allows toxic behaviour to come to the forefront. Now, none of my opponents were anything less than amazing, so I cannot comment on this firsthand. But some of other games that I watched, or that I heard about after the fact, sounded less than pleasant. In my experience, by not having any sportsmanship component, even just a player vote, completely separate to the overall winner, there is nothing to discourage people from acting in an unsportsmanlike way in order to claim a win.

The last issue that I had was with the tournament software, Best Coast Pairings. Multiple times during the event, the data on the website, was different to the app, which was different to the webapp. This caused immense confusion, and at one point the round could only be viewed by iPhone. I’m a bit disappointed that such a premier event had such issues with its software, but with such a custom scoring system for the overall world medal tracker, it isn’t surprising.

Now, onto the parts of the event that I enjoyed. Despite this section being significantly shorter, I can’t state enough how much fun I had at the event. Overall, I had an absolutely amazing time, with the positives massively outweighing any negatives.

Firstly, my opponents. I know some people had issues with their opponents throughout and after the game, but I did not. Every one of my opponents were excellent to play against, and they made our games an absolute pleasure. Everyone played clean, precise, accurate games, they knew their rules, and any rules issues got resolved quickly and smoothly. And speaking of rules issues, the judging for the AoS portion of the event was excellent. Every judge we received a ruling from was super friendly and easy to deal with. They were 100% clear with why and how the ruling was made and made sure both players understood.

The other highlight of the event was the company. I had a fantastic time hanging out with my opponents and the other AoS players, especially the other Australians. They were all absolute legends and were great to be around. They were definitely one of the highlights of the trip. And they didn’t dissappoint on the tabletop either, with Joel earning Best-In-Faction with Big Waagh, Mitch claiming 3rd Best-In-Faction with Ironjawz, and Tom not only getting 3rd Best-In-Faction with Maggotkin, but also winning the Best Painted for the entire Age of Sigmar event!

Overall, the event was run really well run, and a massive bout of fun. There were some teething issues, but that is to be expected with a new event of this size. I’m confident that everything about the event will improve every year that Games Workshop runs it, and it will grow into the flagship event that we all know it can be. I would 100% go back, if I manage to earn another Golden Ticket, but I would definitely want to taper my expectations. With this experience, I know I can hang with the best, but to be the best of the best, that is another challenge entirely.

Until Next Time,


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