[Mordheim] Interlude With A Vampire

This is a repost. The original article has bounced around two forums, three blogs and several content purges. Hopefully it will survive and thrive here.

The year is 2008, and for the three months before my MA course is due to start, I am home, playing games with my formative opponents. The local GW, locus of our lives back in the sixth form days, is running a campaign. Four weeks of Mordheim games. One big map showing our warbands’ progression into the ruined city (and governing what sort of terrain will appear when two warbands meet, although the scenarios themselves would be played by-the-book). ‘Victory’ is a tenuous sort of thing really, but for the sake of people who need to know who ‘won’ a wargames campaign, whoever’s warband came out with the highest rating at the end of the month would be lauded, applauded, and relieved of the sandwich run.

I decided to treat the campaign as a prequel of sorts. During the 2004 Storm of Chaos campaign I built a heavily kitbashed Army of Sylvania (which actually grew out of a Mordheim warband box) led by that Mordheim vampire with the swooshy cloak and later, after I lost him in a house move, by a swashbuckling undead Imperial Noble from the Warhammer Quest range. I didn’t do any conversion work at all on him – merely painted on an eyepatch after he caught the wrong end of a Dwarf rune axe in his first outing.

Since Mordheim is set some five hundred years prior to the Storm of Chaos, during the slow rise to power of the Von Carsteins, I thought this would be a good chance to see how my newly-turned Vampire started out his career and made himself noticeable to his antecedents.

Continue reading “[Mordheim] Interlude With A Vampire”

[WM/H] Road to SmogCon: At The End Of The Road, He Calls Everyone Home…

Let’s start with an admission.

I played eleven games of Warmahordes over two days and lost ten of them.

Weirdly enough, this doesn’t bother me as much as it might. It’s all in the expectations. I went to the Winter Warmup thinking I might win something; I went to SmogCon thinking I’d probably win nothing, but that if I got to catch up with everyone I know from previous clubs/the tournament circuit, and play a shitload of Warmahordes, and try out the IKRPG at last, and take home some swag from the SmogPit, I’d be basically happy.

I managed to miss Russ entirely, and I didn’t get to play many of the Darklords in the end, and I did end up dropping from the Con on the Saturday night. Turns out that sleeping on the floor of the drawing room, for about three hours, after a twenty-two hour day, renders you quite vulnerable to chronic sleepiness and con-plague; since I need to be awake and in possession of a working voicebox to do my job, I decided to bail and sleep off the side-effects rather than drag myself through a painful Sunday.

Apart from that, though, mission accomplished. My second three-day con ever, and the first where I’d be doing anything more stressful than host a panel or two and spend the rest of the weekend in my hotel room writing, surfacing for dinner and the occasional round of Mijnlieff, and I bloody loved it.

I rolled up to the venue at about two p/m on the Friday, ‘fresh’ from a four-day depressive funk, about three hours’ sleep since Thursday morning, and a six-hour marking session as I tried to cram in all the work I should have done instead of sitting around in my dressing gown, feeling near-fatally miserable and playing Hearthstone. Took me a while to find the Mandolay Hotel, as I’d come in on the ‘wrong’ side of Guildford; fortunately, I stumbled on foppish Nick Topham and the lovely Adrienne and they informed me that no, I hadn’t walked up that sodding great hill for nothing.

Anyway, I got in and, lacking any of that tedious ‘hotel room’ business to deal with, threw myself straight into the SmogPit; a run of tables open for casual gaming all weekend, with every game played accumulating points that could be exchanged for Valuable Prizes, or for Mr. Chom’s Mystery Boxes. I had my eye on the nifty Iron Arena template sets, and set myself two missions: earn 25 Pit points to get some templates, and play on some of the special scenario tables.

The undoubted highlight of my first day in the Pit was FINALLY getting to play the ‘Smoke on the Water’ scenario from Escalation… but I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Let’s run through the first day’s Pit results:

  1. 35 points vs. Jay’s Trollbloods. Lost after an Earthborn Trampled and Goaded through difficult terrain to nab Ossyran, who’d moved upfield to try and Chronophage Cannon the aforementioned Earthborn and missed.
  2. 35 points vs. … someone… with a Cygnar army. I conceded this one after horribly botching my second turn, effectively denying my army a turn of shooting and thus the opportunity to do anything before being massacred. Wouldn’t normally have done that, but my opponent was also playing in Hydra later in the night so I figured we might well draw each other again and get a proper game in.
  3. 35 points vs. Darklord Dave P.’s shiny new Convergence of Cyriss. A player I’ve never beaten, and an army I still haven’t figured out, but a game I played surprisingly well, only just failing an assassination run on Syntherion, who was left on two boxes by the time Ossyran’s feat turn was over. I regret nothing – the closest I’ve ever come to beating Dave, and it was marvellous catching up with him.
  4. 35 points vs. Benj’s Menoth – SMOKE ON THE WATER, and a Battle Box game ’cause we were killing time between Hydra registration and the actual event. My notes start to become indecipherable at this point… “fucked up – nearly lost, ate 2 frees, nearly won”… I think this is something to do with poor movement of Kaelyssa or one of her ‘jacks, against a knocked-together eFeora force (which isn’t, technically speaking, a Battle Box, but whatever).

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And then it was Hydra time! Y’know, the event for which I put together this whole Retribution project in the first place, since my Mercenaries would be virtually unplayable in the format. 35 points, same list with a random caster from a pool of 5, running from 2100 to 0300 (or ‘whenever we’re done’, as foppish Topham put it).

First round: I drew Ossyran (who I’d been playing all day…) against Khador, with the new Super Epic Mega Plus Butcher – the one with the two Arguses (Arguii?). I lost this one ’cause I gimped my activation order on a turn in which Ossyran was engaged by Fenris but somehow (due to high DEF, I think) still alive. I moved my Dawnguard on the basis that I could CRA into melee, which of course I can’t: one of those things you don’t know if you started out playing Cryx and don’t know a Combined Ranged Attack from a Massive Casualties Check. I also learned that you can’t Combine charge and non-charge attacks, having made some decisions involving Houseguard Halberdiers on the understanding that you could. Had I just had Ossyran swing his sword and kill Fenris, I’d have been in a reasonable position to just shoot the Butcher’s army out from under him and then stay out of his way until I could win on scenario or something.

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Second round: Garryth. Oh poop. Against Lich Lord Asphyxious. Oh poop poop. Arguably the best warcaster in the game against arguably the worst… and as you can see, Stewart and his turquoise-and-pink Cryx were very confident about their chances.

And yet, and yet… this was the game I managed to win. With Bane Knights carpet-bombed by Stormfall Archers, dying of Fire on their own turns and thus not getting to Vengeance, with Bile Thralls Combustioned off the field (though this did mean the poor Phoenix got rear-charged by the Withershadow Combine and turned into a Harrower), and with Halberdiers dying in droves to Venom and Nightwretch blasts, the game was a rather tense pile-up until Garryth was able to leap forward, drill Asphyxious with two bullets, feat to prevent him spending his eleven focus to teleport away, and then chase him down to plug two more shots in his face and finish the job. Stewart… didn’t take it well. He had my usual face – the “what the fuck, I had that in the bag, I hate this game” face, and much like myself he needed a good five minutes to pull himself together and apologise for his graceless behaviour. All was of course forgiven; I’ve been there and done that too many times in the last eight years, and that is Garryth’s game, really; lose, lose, lose and then seize on the chance for a crafty last-minute win.

Also, apropos of nothing, I miss Cryx.

Third round: Kaelyssa, vs. Paul F.’s Legion of Everblight with Rhyas at the helm. A somewhat overambitious assassination attempt on a camped-up Rhyas with Rapport upkept left Kaelyssa too far forward, and gave Paul a textbook ‘walk in and whack’ Rhyas kill. The PGs who’d taken over from Foppish asked if I’d be dropping, given that I couldn’t win anything and it was well after one o’clock by now. I said words to the event of “sod that, Hydra’s what I built this army to play!” and pressed on…

Fourth and final round: Ravyn, vs. a nice bloke called Luke running eKreoss. Tackling Menoth in timed turns is always difficult; working out what you’re actually allowed to do takes up precious doing-things time, especially at two in the bloody morning. Despite that, I managed to dismantle the army pretty well, shooting up Exemplars and reducing Kreoss to his battlegroup and support elements. Unfortunately, I bodged up the activation order again – what should have been a “shoot the screen, CRA the caster, charge in with the Phoenix to finish” became a “charge the screen, charge the caster, try for dodgy Flank run” – once again, I failed to implement the Blood Bowler’s Lessons (“Greed Ain’t Good”, “Safety First” and “Don’t Roll Dice Unless You Need To”). In my defence, it was two a/m and I’d not slept in twenty-four hours.

After a quick chat with Corehammer‘s Neil (the rest of the lads were off at Ill Blood in London), I found a quiet corner in which to doze and did so fitfully, awakening at 0530 to the sound of the night manager watching Takeshi’s Castle. Lacking the gumption to attempt further sleepage, and gasping for a cuppa, I essayed forth to the SmogPit once again – many of the chaps were still awake, most notably Jimmy ‘GStar’ Stark, who’d been running the Pit since midnight and who was still in a fit state to throw down on the Smoke on the Water table again. Day two went no better than day one…

  1. 35 points vs. Jimmy and his Trollbloods – Smoke On The Water again, and my fifth game and fifth opponent, earning heap big bonus points. This was a loooong game for two insomniacs, neither of whom had really had any rest in two days. My one fatal mistake was putting my Dawnguard in the middle of the barge rather than toward the back; to get them into the action they had to move forward toward Boris the Night Troll, who kept them locked down in melee with Warders for most of the game. With Grissel standing behind walls or elevated on walkways, under the protection of the Krielstone, I just couldn’t land a kill shot on her, although I did, to my glee, manage to Force Hammer/Telekinesis a Dire Troll off the side of the barge.
  2. Image35 points vs. Alex and his Retribution, in the Beer Barrel Bash! scenario. A fun one on paper, with a tent that handed out Fearless/Tough/Stumbling Drunk/Hyper-Aggressive if Dominated, and barrels that needed to be moved back to the deployment zone or destroyed in order to score control points. Alas, this was a non-game in which Alex had the perfect list to remove two barrels on cue and score full points for the third. Might have been more fun if Garryth hadn’t had to spend the whole game hiding out of the effective range of Alex’s Mage Hunters, too, or if I’d managed to hit his Kaelyssa with my Eiryss.
  3. And finally, needing to earn three more Pit points, I opted for a 50 pointer against Paul G’s. Privateers. A huge infantry swarm with a Colossal. In 50 points. Was I mad? After the Winter Warmup, had I not learned that this was a game I’d hate?
    And yet, and yet, I didn’t. The Galleon is much less scary when it doesn’t have Dougal hiding behind it (he’s not welcome in Captain Shae’s Theme Force, you see), and the infantry swarm stayed sufficiently bunched up for a few key Star Falls on their back line and a run of Halberdier stabbings up front. My Banshee drew the Colossal’s tender affections and my Phoenix, on the other flank, had free reign to hot-swap Death Sentence between Pirate units as needed. Garryth had a route to plant two shots on Shae… and alas, didn’t quite manage it. The only piece I had left with which to land the kill was the flanking Eiryss, who’d run around the side of Paul’s army two turns ago for that express purpose… and who I’d forgotten to move for two turns. Bugger, blast and damnation.
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Mad props to Paul though; the first 50 point game I haven’t hated!

With 25 points under my belt and the template set in my pocket, I hied me onwards to the Iron Kingdoms Role Playing Game demo. I’d been itching to give this game a go for a while, but not being made of money I couldn’t justify dropping £45 on it sight-unseen. Long-suffering demo-GM Aaron (I think that was his name…) put on an outstanding show. While I’ll be making another post down the line (here or on COREHAMMER) in which I actually review the IKRPG, I’d like to take the time to thank Aaron for one of the best RPG sessions I’ve had the privilege of playing in, and for convincing me that the game was not only worth a shot but potentially a better route into the Iron Kingdoms for yours truly than the wargame is.. I would also like to apologise to my fellow players for ze outrageous Llaelese accent, and for deciding that my logical course of action was OBVIOUSLY “convert to Thamarism and take over the antagonist’s cult”. I’d actually like to play my character in that group again – being the token evil teammate’s always had a certain appeal to me, and the chaps were outrageously good sports.

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Now, I’d registered for the Scalpel tournament on Saturday night, but at this stage, the thought of playing any more Retribution made me want to throw up. There was the prospect of Malifaux, but it’d involve a trek down to the other SmogCon site, and I haven’t so much as glanced at the M2E rules for my Gremlins. There was Mr. Chom’s SmogPit BattleBox tournament, but… well… I stopped off behind the Pit desk for an hour’s nap, and Chom – despite instructions – woke me after registering people for the mini-tournament, not before.

Under the circumstances, and with the option of a half-hour walk, an hour’s train ride, and a night’s sleep in my own bed, I decided that might as well be the end of the road.

[WM/H] Road to SmogCon – Winter Warmup Tournament Report

*sigh*

I’ve lied to you a bit. This isn’t going to be a conventional ‘report’ in the sense that I talk about what went on in my turns and their turns and what we were thinking and who won and who lost. This is instead going to be a series of reflections on why I came last, why I had two appalling non-games that I didn’t really enjoy, and my awkward relationship with 50 point games and the tournament scene.

The Winter Warmup was pretty much the first event of the year for Cross Gaming Club and the first time I’d played in the shiny new Dark Sphere site on Hercules Road. I was the odd man out in more ways than one; the only Claphamite to put in an appearance, the only player that Press Ganger Tom hadn’t met before; the only one, I suspect, who hadn’t played a fifty point game or a tournament in about a year; and the odd-numbered player who induced the bye.

Shiny new Dark Sphere.
Shiny new Dark Sphere.

Fifty points for me means one list, dumping everything I own into it, and hoping like hell. Two lists are impossible when nine points of my collection are FA: C and when I’ve blown money I barely have on the Banshee and the entry fee. Whatever, I’d been laid up with a horrible infection for a week and wanted to do something in the real world before I went back to work. Nonetheless, going single-list in a multi-list tournament is generally a recipe for disaster, given the number of hard counters and bad matchups inherent in the game’s design.

The list/collection I ran with was:

Kaelyssa, Night’s Whisper
– Phoenix
– Banshee
– Sylys Wyshnylarr

10 Dawnguard Invictors with Officer & Standard
10 Houseguard Halberdiers with Officer & Standard
Stormfall Archers
Lady Aiyana and Master Holt

Arcanist
Arcanist
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios

Not bad, but not brilliant, and lacking a really obvious, simple-to-execute win button. A recurring theme during the post-wipeout chit-chat was that I’d bought the wrong caster (some people laboured this point more than others), and in retrospect I agree. I’d probably have been better off running Ossyran, leaving Eiryss at home, and picking up a Houseguard Thane, for reasons which will become clear as we move along. The Banshee was totally new, only built the day before the event. I hadn’t played fifty points or a tournament game in over a year. I was, as a great man… demon… elf… thing… once said, NOT PREPARED.

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That smug git across the table is Sicily’s Marcin Garbino, a nice chap who’s played everything under the sun and, unfortunately, had brought a meteor to a gunfight. His Baldur Theme Force (that’s the Stonecleaver, at Tier 4) was entirely occupying the scenario control zone, shown centre, by the end of his first turn, and everything was either ARM Obscene or hiding in one of the two trenches (the black felt bits). Cross use trenches a lot. Cross toss trenches onto the board and put them in the scenario zones. This is not forbidden anywhere in the rules but it definitely made a bad situation worse for me; hitting the Druids on DEF 20 and knowing that they were immune to blast damage was definitely not sexy at all.

I had a vague shot at assassinating Baldur on my second turn, but I gimped it by firing the Banshee first since it had Phantom Hunter on it. That slammed Baldur back, even though he was immune to being knocked down thanks to his feat, and left him out of range for either Kaelyssa or the Phoenix. That was, in essence, game, since there was no way I could crack that wall of DEF/ARM 20+ sitting in the middle racking up control points, and I’d already blown Kaelyssa’s feat on forcing the Woldstalkers to move forward if they wanted to massacre my infantry (and they did). Since I’d moved Kaelyssa up to try for the shots on Baldur, she was hanging out in front of the army, and… it wasn’t really worth going on. I was in a foul mood by the end of this game, and quite prepared to turn around and go home if the prospect of similar non-starters was likely.

Tom and the neighbouring players talked me down, though, and instead Marcin and I went for a walk, since we had an hour to kill. He treated me to an informative if slightly overlong lecture on the merits of Issyria, the Mage Hunter Assassin, and those of the Houseguard Thane in the absence of Riflemen. I have, I think, underestimated the effect of Desperate Pace; I looked at the Thane, saw the obvious synergy with Riflemen (who I don’t own), and wrote him off, instead of considering the advantages of more speed in scenario play. Fair cop, and by the time I’d calmed down a bit, I saw what he was driving at. I also think he was right about taking Ossyran; I’d just nailed the list together the night before and picked the caster who’d let me take everything, but if I’d had a Thane handy I’d have gleefully chucked Eiryss to field him instead. Marcin’s a decent chap, just light-years beyond me as a player, and not the best first-round draw. I like losing my first round game, but I like being able to play in the game at all. Didn’t help that I was well flustered from arriving half an hour late to an event fifteen minutes’ bus ride from my house. I’m just the MOST prepared sometimes.

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Exhibit B: Rob Parsons and his Menoth. Tom had politely asked him to go easy on me since I’d had such a shit day so far, and laughed bitterly when he saw that “going nice” involved the Harbinger, the Covenant, the customary ‘jack wall, Visgoth Rhoven and a big unit of Exemplars Errant. A classic ‘Menoth Says No’ list, then, but at least I’ve fought and beaten the Harbinger before, and she’s on that nice big base that makes her easy to shoot.

I actually really enjoyed this game. Why? Well. Here’s the top of turn two:

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And here’s the bottom of turn four, when dice down were called:

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This was closer than it looked. Rob’s left-hand Reckoner and Vanquisher were both badly damaged (the former was on one box and had been for two damn rounds!) and the latter was immobilised ready for more Stormfalling, and I had cleaned out many of the Menite infantry. The Harbinger had been forced to spend most of the game camping focus and avoiding Eiryss, and I was able to weather the feat turn by bunkering up between those two rocks, taking hits on the two myrmidons (who could eat a power 14) and having everyone else shoot at whatever Menites they could see before Kaelyssa’s feat came down. I did manage to layer some damage onto the Harbinger through Martyrdom, as Rob Martyred a lot of Errants and one of Rhoven’s bodyguards at least twice in an effort to make my flanking Dawnguard behave themselves.

The only huge cockup I made involved sinking far too much effort into killing two Exemplar Errants engaging my Banshee so it could be free to charge Rob’s Vanquisher. As well as squandering the activations of Eiryss and Kaelyssa, who could have been locking down a ‘jack with Disruption/Arcantrik Bolt a turn earlier than they did, it meant diverting my Halberdiers’ attention, which mean leaving the Vanquisher on one sodding box on its primary weapon, which meant that when the Banshee was eventually freed, it took a free strike in passing that crippled its own primary weapon, and ended up scrapped by the Vanquisher on the next turn. Should have just trampled and taken my chance on the free strikes, maybe, or wailed on the Exemplars and had Eiryss and Kaelyssa paralyse the Vanquisher for next turn.

I was losing, but I lost through identifiable errors and Rob only scored one control point in the whole game. I did, however, only score two tiebreaker points, as most of Rob’s units had one or two guys left alive, and I hadn’t been able to nail his ‘jacks while he’d trashed both of mine. This was a simpler game, where I could see what went wrong, and I enjoyed it – my brain simply overheated with the combination of timed turns, more actors to handle than usual, and winkling into the “Menoth says NO” rules combinations to work out what I could actually do.

After lunch, round three, and this is where the beast emerged…

Obligatory crotch shot.
Obligatory crotch shot.

Sometimes, good players have bad days, and end up in the bottom of the brackets with the likes of me. Trevor Couper is such a player; he was running on next to no sleep and had, I think, timed out on one of this games and badly misplayed another. I drew him in a complex scenario (so many ways to earn and deny points – my brain hurt just trying to deploy in a way that would manage its impact), and while he was list-locked like me, his list was… simpler, and brutal, and had more direct ways to deploy greater killing power on a broader range of targets. Martial Discipline, twenty tough Weapon Master infantry, a feat that delivered them to the control zones and points quickly with extra ARM (just like the first game) and a Colossal that could point, click and delete one of my myrmidons or units every turn. To cap it all off, I’d misdeployed, giving my Dawnguard the task of keeping the Colossal from racking up all the Control Points in the world, and maybe taking it down with Flank charges (not likely at four dice minus twelve). I’d have been better off putting them in the lines to take down the infantry, and feeding both my myrmidons and the Stormfall Archers at the Colossal.

Despite Trevor point-click-deleting the Banshee, and being in a very strong place at the top of my turn two, I did actually have a way of putting some damage onto Ossrum and maybe securing the game. I just didn’t think of it in time. See, the Dawnguard could, with three or four man CRAs, put damage on the Colossal, as could the Stormfall Archers and the Phoenix. They’d been doing it since turn one, when Extended Fire let them get a few shots in before Trevor’s feat turn. Now, had I thought to slap Backlash onto it ASAP, I’d probably have been able to get nine to twelve damage onto Ossrum and maybe, just maybe, keep Kaelyssa alive long enough to Phantom Hunter her way to the win. Alas, I didn’t think of that until turn two, and after losing most of my Halberdiers and my Banshee and realising that I’d lose either the Dawnguard, the Phoenix or both in the next turn, I just gave up. Dishonourable, strength-of-schedule wrecking, but fuck it, I was having an appalling time in this game and I had no intention of inflicting my grotty side on Trevor any more than was necessary.

I asked for the bye in round four, just to save myself from melting down any further, and spent the round doing two things. Firstly, watching Trevor’s next game, since he’d drawn another Retribution player, and I wanted to see how that would go. The Retribution that rolled up – and I’ve forgotten their owner’s name, alas – were a very different beast to mine, with Ossyran, two units of Mage Hunters (Strike Force with their Officer, Infiltrators with Eiryss). Trevor had the shot at a first turn win, and spent seven minutes of his extended first turn puzzling it out and talking it through. The Colossal could just about inch forward, have range to Ossyran, knock him down with one of its guns by shooting the warjack next to him (and boosting its damage roll to boot), then lay into him with the rest of its guns. If Trevor hadn’t rolled double ones for the number of multi-shots, he’d have won before the game started. As it was, he did roll double ones, and Ossyran lived. The high-DEF infantry fanned out and jammed up the zones, and Trevor settled in for a longer, slower grind. He did eventually win, but by this stage I’d moved on to my second bye-round activity; talking 50 points with Kev Bryant and his hat.

Fortunately, Kev Bryant and his hat were on the next table, and convinced me not to.

 

Kev and I had a good old natter about the effect of Colossals on the game, and he re-introduced me to the concept of ‘list poker’. Not playing many multi-list events, or having much of a collection of anything, this hasn’t always been something I’ve thought about, although I’ve always known it existed. Anyway, it’s the pre-game stage where you’re looking at each other’s lists and identifying the potential matches and, if you’ve prepared at all well, identifying the pairings that just won’t work for you and picking the list that can take any of the opponent’s two or three.

Colossals skew this hugely. Being so huge and hard to either kill (so many boxes!) or tie down (so many immunities! can shoot out of melee! though factions with Gorman di Wulfe or unshakeable effects like Death Chill have it so much easier – in related news, I almost miss Cryx…), the Colossal presence demands that one of your lists is capable of dealing with one. Which is fine, except that the Colossal will also have a caster behind it, effectively meaning they have an extra card for list poker, and it’s always an ace. Let me explain.

Say I take Ossyran as my Colossal-smashing caster, with his whole extra-damage-on-ranged-attacks thing going on. Say now that the caster running the enemy Colossal is one who Ossyran struggles to beat, or that the rest of their list hard-counters the stuff in my Ossyran list. Say also that Issyria (for example’s sake) might be a better match for the caster running the Colossal. Do I take the Issyria list, which is just not equipped to handle that giant mass of boxes lumbering across the table, and hope I can score an assassination when I’m losing ten points of my stuff every turn, or do I take the Ossyran list, and focus on negating the impact of the Colossal at the expense of managing the rest of the enemy army and trying to win the game?

It’s doubly hard when the other thirty-odd points are, as they were in Trevor’s list, already quite hard for me to deal with; that’s a lot of weapon masters to pin down and chip through the high ARM on, and a few spoilers in the form of fireproof Tactical Arcanist Corps and the like, and they can all move through one another. And this is before we factor in the prospect of Trevor or whoever maybe having another list to consider. Zugwang, for those who don’t know, is the chess term for a situation in which every possible move is a bad one. That’s kinda how I feel when I see a Colossal in someone’s list. I don’t think they’re too good in and of themselves – they cost twenty points and focusing twenty points onto ten of mine should leave me coming off worse, after all. I do think that they break, or at least skew, the ‘list poker’ stage of gameplay, and that’s awkward.

So. All in all, an unsatisfactory day’s gameplay, in which I either didn’t really get to play at all, or in which I made some significant errors, or both, and for which I was NOT PREPARED. And yet, on balance, I think I had an informative day. Everyone was friendly, despite the rather spiky mood I was in while and after playing Trevor. I think I’ve learned a few things about how I might approach Steamroller 2014, and 50 points, and the prospect of encountering Colossals, assuming that I don’t just sulk in my bunker and refuse to interact with any of them (also a possibility). The day was supposed to be a warm-up and a clue-up for the 2014 season, and to be honest, it did what it said on the tin.

Time’s a-wastin’, word count’s a-creepin’, and I have to be at work soon. Next time, I’ll have some thoughts on my Retribution and where I might go with them post-SmogCon, in the light of the experience I had at the Winter Warmup. For the time being… duty calls.