Masters 2018 Day 2 – ‘Go Big or Go Home’

Last minute addendum: Minutes before I was to publish this Kylie publicly announced she would be stepping down from running Masters and handing the torch over to our own Adam Jenkinson. So I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the work that Kylie has done in establishing and running this event over the past 5 years, and the way in which its helped act as a touchstone to keep the national community together. I missed out on the first one but have attended every one since, and without exception they produce heavy competition, great terrain and some of the best missions and tournament structures I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. There’s now another event I can expect to play you in, I’m sure you will be gaining the title yourself sooner if not later.


Welcome to back to Andrew’s adventures at Masters! If you haven’t already, be sure to go back and read the previous two components to this series for this year. At the end of day one I was staring down the barrel of a very grim position in the standings, but it was a new day. It’d take a little luck and other match ups going my way to reach the podium, but far more than anything it required 3 big wins and nothing less. All the missions today mirror those of yesterday, by some coincidence they were played in the same order. Lets find out how that went shall we?


Game 4 – Pillage and Burn vs Matthew Todd

Azog with The White Warg
4 Hunter Orcs
1 Hunter Orc with 2H weapon
5 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow
1 Hunter Orc with Banner

Fimbul with Fell warg
4 Hunter Orcs
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow

Narzug with Fell warg
3 Hunter Orcs
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow
1 Hunter Orc with War horn and Orc bow

Yazneg with Fell warg, Lance
3 Hunter Orcs
1 Hunter Orc with 2H weapon
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow

Hunter Orc Captain with Fell Warg

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Matt was piloting a list he’d used to great success at Clash earlier this year with the Hunter Orcs. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying their presentation took a slight boost as well as he was borrowing Jeremy’s models. If I wasn’t rotating through the cavalry Hunter Orcs was an army I was considering myself. They can cut through any army like butter with Strength 4 and 2 Attacks on every model. Pitting that against the cloth armour of my army, if I ever got locked down I would be annihilated. If I could get a good round of charges off however, I could potentially do the same with the Serpent Riders charging in with higher fight value, lances and banner support to rip through them. The presence of 5 heroes made me hesitant to consider that plan straight up however, as there was lots of might and fight value kicking around between them. They also had more bowfire than I did. My advantage lay in my mobility and the flying monsters, I had to use it to spread Matt out as much as possible and then hit the more isolated targets.

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We were playing Pillage and Burn, as per the first mission the previous day. I placed two objectives behind the river, which should slow Matt down considerably, and reasoned I was fine with sacrificing one because I could get it back later. I had to spread him out until I found an opportunity to pounce, and that would require some bait.

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The opening went off very smoothly. The Knight of Umbar successfully compelled Narzug (far right above) out of the lines and subsequently eviscerated him turn 1. Matt elected not to send his other heroes in that direction which I though may have been a possibility, keeping them centralised. He wasn’t spreading yet. The rest of my force scooted back slightly, the horses all standing mid stream as we exchanged bowfire. The dice were hot this game, and Hunter Orcs steadily dropped to the poisonous arrows of the raiders

Matt continued to advance onto my objective the following turn and I saw an opening. The Betrayer and Suladan both charged forward, the Betrayer with an excellent hurling line available that would dismount Azog and Yazneg as well dealing considerable damage and preventing Matt from destroying my objective this turn. At the same time, the Knight of Umbar threatened the far flank, and it was very much in my mind at this point that he could simply ignore the fight and fly straight to the back of the board where Matt’s objectives lay.

It was then that the Betrayer would betray me for the 3rd time! He lost combat against a single Hunter Orc, and suddenly the game turns on its head on a single dice roll. Not only are Matt’s heroes still mounted, but he’s taken no casualties, he can destroy the objective this turn and Betrayer is exposed and on his own. I then painstakingly ran through my options, Suladan retreating with his own Heroic Combat, and accepted that the Betrayers fate would come down to a 50-50 Heroic Move contest next turn.

On this occasion, I got lucky, as the dice take so they give. Suladan was forced to dismount to pull off the heroic move, and my might reserves were down to one on both him and the Betrayer, but they got out with their lives.

It was a grim blow, but the Knight of Umbar was still active, and he surged up the flank, demanding a response. Matt diverted some hunter orcs but only one hero to tie him off, and my eyes lit up, as I could potentially isolate and destroy Fimbul like I had Narzug and call a heroic combat off him to fly well beyond reach onto his objectives.

This ploy ended up succeeded, but not without some pure class from Matt. I was just short of killing him and in danger of being locked down, when he unprompted reminded me to roll a hit for thrown rider, which dealt the killing blow. I said it at the time and Matt if you’re reading here it is again, that may have cost you in the match, but you won the real game in that moment.

With that success the Knight of Umbar was free to roam the backboard, looting and pillaging as he went. At the same time I wheeled around my force for a death and glory charge. Either I would burst through and end the game before he could reach my objectives by killing everything, or by losing everything. With the objectives piling up on my side as the Betrayer bailed on the fight to join the Knight, the sooner the game could end the better.

My heroic sacrifice proved enough, and all 6 objectives ended on my side of the board, bought with blood and horse meat. One big win down, two to go. I’d beaten one of my podium picks, and there were more coming in the future.


 

Game 5 Race to the Prize vs David Leonard

Suladȃn the Serpent Lord, Horse (Army Leader) -100
5 Serpent Guards -40
5 Black Númenórean, Venomblade Knights -50
2 Serpent Riders -26 -216 -216

The Betrayer, Fell Beast -170
5 Serpent Guards -40
5 Black Númenóreans, Venomblade Knights -50
1 Haradrim Warrior, Spear and Banner -32
1 Haradrim Warrior, Spear -07 -299 -515

Haradrim Chieftain, Spear -46
12 Haradrim Warriors – Bow -84 -130 -645

Haradrim Chieftain, Spear -46
4 Haradrim Warriors, Bow -28
7 Haradrim Warriors, Spear -49
1 Haradrim Warriors, Spear and Banner -32 -155 -800

IMG_20180708_130525

It was time for the Harad civil war! Perhaps a debate over the merits of horses… David had brought a horde harad force, with a monstrous amount of bows and a large body count. Much like Henry’s Gondor, I could not let them get into the center unopposed. Unlike Henry’s army however, David’s didn’t have as many threatening heroes and they were much more lightly armored. His single wraith wouldn’t be able to contend with both of mine if they apprehended it simultaneously.

The deployment for this scenario ultimately played a heavy role in the outcome of this game. I drew upon my Might reserves to ensure that my army came on cohesively, with the exception of Suladan, who was fashionably late (rolled a one two times in a row). I’m a big advocate of the idea that you should be spending as much might as necessary to deploy how you want to. David however opted to split his force, the elites including the Betrayer coming on from the opposite edge whilst the Chieftans entered from my side. I think David’s plan was to get some early rounds of heavy bow fire on me and buy the time necessary to get half of his force on the objective.

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I was more than happy to take this outcome however. It mean I’d be able to take out half his force without much resistant, coming out very much ahead in the trade and not quite break him to risk the game ending, giving me all the time in the world to slam into the second half and cut through and take the objective by killing everything whilst flanking from the sides.

IMG_20180708_133947

The bowfire did some damage, but not enough to unduly concern me, and men of Harad began to be knocked down left right and centre from calvary charges and Fell Beast hurls. Over the course of a few turns they were well and truly routed from the field, the chieftains having some magic thrown at them to contain them and allow the slaughter to continue.

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Meanwhile the other half of Davids force was desperately rushing towards the center, but I’d made sure to keep units out of the fight on intercept duty, ready to slow and delay them. A plucky Serpent Rider dismounted and grabbed the artifact from the central objective and even succeeded in killing a Black Numenorean before going down, much to my chagrin. With that model dead, if I killed everything the Chieftans had brought on, David would break and begin to run away, possibly reducing himself to 25% before I could contest the objective. I thus made a very conscious decision to go non lethal with the fellbeast as the only model that could, getting the Betrayer to barge so as to avoid strking blows, leaving a single model shaking his fist as the thunder of hooves faded from his hearing.

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With the line reassembled and feeling confident, the cavalry charged once more into the centre, looking to break the remaining footmen and cause them to flee enmasse. In the final turns, everything was committed, so it came as a great surprise when David was one model from the game ending, that we had a final turn afterwards, because I didn’t kill a single model in around of combat. This led to a most memorable and amusing sequence of events. The Betrayer had spent almost all his will the previous turn killing the Knight of Umbar assuming it was the last turn, so my Suladan called a heroic move intending to charge him and have him fade out of existence by running out of will. Suladan then failed his courage test to charge despite having three will available with a snake eyes, courtesy of the Betrayer’s Harbinger of Evil. My heroic move having failed, David then picks up the dice and makes a courage test for his Betrayer for broken. He fails it by one, courtesy of my own Betrayer’s Harbinger of Evil. In the ultimate fulfillment of his purpose, the Betrayer had now betrayed himself. David opted to take the noble way out and spent his last will to pass that test and then fade out of existence rather than flee the battlefield, granting me the leader kill and prompting more Harad to flee the battlefield, sealing his fate.

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Another big win! At the same time Jeremy had fallen to the hands of Henry, meaning that there was now no one undefeated. I’d have to leave it to fate and Henry’s final opponent to topple him, but with Jeremy losing I felt I had a decent chance of reaching the podium if I could take any kind of win in the last game. A mindset that ultimately, might end up hurting me!


Game 6 – Random Encounter vs Jeremy Shannon

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
8 Gundabad Berserker
1 Gundabad Berserker with Two-handed pick;
3 War Bat

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
4 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Spear; Shield;
5 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield;
1 Troll Brute

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
4 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Spear; Shield;
5 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield;
1 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield; Banner;
1 Gundabad Troll

 

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Jeremys list was unsurprisingly gorgeous, but it had only 3 generic captains for its heroes. I am always in admiration for how he manages to eke the most out of anything that is put in front of him. My missions were to keep my heroes alive, kill his and capture his objectives. What I realized was, with the ability to fire off black darts at his heroes, is that I could do this absolutely no risk and not take fights of any kind. Being so close, I tunneled on purely getting a win to end up on the podium which meant no risk taking and no fighting.

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That doesn’t make for a particularly engaging game, and there isn’t that much to take photos of either. Hence I wasn’t taking many in this final game and there isn’t that much to talk about either. I spent 8 of the 10 turn limit skirting around, shooting bowfire that was predominantly ineffective and firing black darts off at his heroes before Jeremy cunningly concealed them inside a tower I couldn’t reach. With the benefit of hindsight, as soon as the two surviving captains took shelter in the corner, I should have charged straight up the middle to annihilate his army on the objectives as I could get guaranteed heroic moves and charges off every turn and should be able to isolate and take down the rolls. But I did not. I was so afraid of losing I forgot to try and win, which was the opposite of how I’d been playing up until that point. It also wan’t very fun. The Knight of Umbar was in a tentative position at one point and I did commit a charge on the 9th turn, but it was too late for the outcome I was looking for. I took the small win I was guaranteed, knowing it could possibly get me on the podium. It wasn’t a big win though, and thinking back now as I type this the opportunity for one was starting me in the face on turn 6. I didn’t discover until after that game that I was only 10 points behind on the leader board, and in my head as I heard this I knew I’d blown a chance of possibly taking the whole thing!


 

The final podium was :

1. Jeremy

2. Me (!)

3. Henry

I’d come 2nd, and only 5 points behind Jeremy! If I’d been told that on the end of day 1, I’d have been rather cautious about believing it. If I’d been told I’d actually had a chance to win it, I would have hardly believed it. It comes of course, at the cost of my podium predictions, as I’d played and beaten all 3 members featuring on mine. It was not quite the Green Dragon Podcast sweep with my defeat to Kylie,  but it was a respectable haul.

Part of me wishes I could play the last game again, but if wishes were fishes there’d be no room for the water. Best way to learn is to do something wrong. Melbourne ends its title drought, with a hearty congratulations to Jeremy as this years Master, a title well deserved, his involvement in the game is second to none. A thank you also to Joshua for lending me one of his fellbeasts, and to Kylie for a spare magnet when the Betrayer opted to yet again play to the name and lose his. Tim was most generous in hosting Ben and I over the weekend and driving us all over Melbourne, it was most appreciated Tim! Ben unanimously won best sports again (because of course he did, he’s such a swell guy) and we posted something for the first time in a few years (I am such a product of my generation) as we sent home our winnings to avoid extra baggage costs and airport security potentially objecting to pointed trophies.

I was really pleased with the aesthetic of my force in the end as well, my mumaks and remaining infantry are going to get a similar paint job at some point as well. Let this stand as a good example of why you shouldn’t give up after a poor start. Each day and indeed each game is a new one! Ultimately it was close but no cigar, I will be back next year.

hcon

If you’re in Sydney or the surrounding areas, I am running Hobbitcon on the 11th and 12th of August at the Hall of Heroes, Campbelltown. There are single day options if you can’t make both days, and if it’s an incentive given my recent run of form at home you won’t have to play me!

Thanks for reading!

Andrew C

 

 

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