Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Once more to Cancon

I thought I would interrupt my series of Finuval Plain battle report segments to post briefly about what is coming up this weekend. For what is probably close to the 15th time for me, I will be heading up to Canberra for the annual event that is Cancon. As always, I will be playing Warhammer Fantasy – and so will another 129 people! This makes it the largest Australian tournament in years, by a fair margin. Cancon is also the only remaining 3 day, 8 game tournament on the calendar. Between that and the huge number of players attending, it's shaping as the big event for the year.

Warhammer at Cancon has a rich history of wildly varied and sometimes terrible composition rules and scores. I've seen peer comp, panel comp, hard caps, really really hard caps, and everything in between. This year the TOs have elected to run Swedish Comp, which I have talked about before. Given that I don't think comp worked all that well last year, and 130 is a stupendous number of lists to assess, I believe the decision is a good one. How it has actually been implemented, I am not so keen on.

Allow me to explain. Swedish Comp gives you a framework with which to score any list that is thrown at it. It will output a score somewhere between 0 and 20 (assuming scores below 0 are automatically to heinous to consider). What the organisers then do with those scores is up to them. In this case, the TOs are using the score for 2 purposes: firstly, all lists must score at least a 10.0 on the scale, and should be below 16.0 (although scores above 16.0 will simply count as 16). Secondly, after each game, the 2 players compare their comp scores and use the difference to modify the final battle point result (scored out of 20). So if a player with a 16.0 players one with a 12.0, the player with the softer list gets 4 bonus battle points, and the one with the harder list loses 4. So if they had drawn 10-10, it actually becomes a 14-6 victory for the guy with the squishy army.

Now when you consider the fact that players can take lists scoring 16.0, you would be a very brave man to enter with a list scoring 10.0. Conceding as much as 6 points per game through comp would leave you with a monstrous hill to climb. Even if you thrashed every opponent 20-0 (highly unlikely, especially if you're playing people who know they really only need a draw), you would still be getting as little as a 14-6, and that might not be enough for you to finish on top of the heap.

The up-shot of all this is that people are angling their lists toward the higher end of the comp scores. Many have been slightly silly about it and gone to great lengths to get exactly 16.0, but this is overkill. I figured that anything above about a 14.0 would be good enough. You'd only be giving up a couple of points against the very softest armies, which is not that bad, and it gives you a few more points to get an army you're happy with.

I might have considered taking something different to this event, but the huge battle report has consumed any hobby time I have had available, so I was realistically only going to be able to use things I already had available. If I wanted options, that really meant taking Empire again. And then there was the matter of actually deciding on a list. For all that I think Swedish comp was a good way to go for the tournament, having to come up with a list I wanted to use that fitted roughly between 14.0 and 16.0 was a bit of a headache. When you've played in as many tournaments as I have (especially after using the same army so often in recent years), part of the fun is to come up with a certain theme or eccentric plan, and run with that. But this is pretty much the opposite of what Swedish comp encourages, as it basically works on an “all things in moderation” policy. So anything I might have considered amusing and fun was going to end up off-limits.

I kind of knew this would be the case, and so I barely fiddled with lists in the lead-up to when they were due. In the end I decided that my only “theme” was going to be to use lots of Flagellants, because I had once again read how terrible they were on the internet, and felt like making a point. I couldn't take really big units because Swedish hates fun things like that, so I ended up with the following:
My Cancon Empire army. Sorry about the focus. Need to master the aperture feature on this better camera...
  • Arch Lector on War Altar with Great Weapon, Heavy Armour, Shield, White Cloak of Ulric
  • Wizard Lord of the Light Order (Level 3) on Warhorse with Scroll of Shielding, Talisman of Endurance
  • Captain of the Empire with Battle Standard on Barded Steed with Full Plate Armour, Shield, Sword of Might, Dawn Stone
  • Battle Wizard of the Amber Order (Level 1) on Warhorse with Dragonbane Gem
  • 9 Knights of the Inner Circle with Lances, Standard, Musician, Banner of Swiftness
  • 10 Knightly Orders with Great Weapons, Standard, Musician
  • 5 Knightly Orders with Lances
  • 4 Demigryph Knights with Lances, Standard, Musician
  • 28 Flagellants
  • 25 Flagellants
  • Celestial Hurricanum
Total Army Cost: 2400
Final Swedish Score: 15.3

I am happy with the army's comp score, but it is a pretty compromised force because of it. No Cannons, no Steam Tank, only a level 3 Wizard Lord (dropping his 4th level and some sundry models and adding the little Beast Wizard lifted my comp score by 1.3, and arguably made the list more flexible). In fact, the list has no shooting at all.

In general, my insistence on spending 660 points on Flagellants was probably the list's undoing. Having gone so overboard, I then had to make them the focus and put things in there largely for their benefit (like the Hurricanum). There will be games where they do exceptionally well, and take the enemy apart. But there will be games where they are in danger of getting shot off, or having something else terrible befall them. We shall see.

So after all that, I only had to paint a mounted Amber Wizard in order to have all the models I needed. I have a fair stockpile of the old metal battle wizards from 4th edition, however a mounted Amber Wizard was not amongst them. I ended up using the guy below (a more recent, though still outdated model), swapped his hand for a plastic militia one, and added a crow from the plastic Giant set. He looks the part, more or less. I was then able to paint him in a couple of hours, rather than wasting lots of time that I really needed for report writing. Kind of like the time I wasted making this post. I shall go now and be constructive in a way more people will appreciate...
My kitbashed mounted Amber Wizard. Nothing fancy, but he will do the job.
I'll see some of you at Cancon!


  1. I think the flagellants are the business. My marshmallowy legions may have defeated you on the weekend, but it was not really the fault of the flagellants, who were both hurty and scary.

  2. It actually looks like a fun list to play,both with and against.