Thursday, 25 October 2012

Axemaster 2012 Aftermath - Day 2

This is the second part of my 2-post account of Axemaster. You can find the other here.

I had come off day 1 feeling a bit flat to be honest. I don't know what it was. Maybe I was just tired from getting nowhere near enough sleep for the past couple of nights (I was up until midnight rolling truffles the night before, then we got to the venue at 7am to start setting up). Speaking of truffles, this is why I was making unhealthy food in the middle of the night:
Black forest cake, cupcakes, truffles, donuts, jelly shots, energy drink... Everything a growing gamer needs to keep growing (in the wrong direction)
It had been decreed in the player pack that bonus points were available for anyone who baked/prepared cake or some similar food and brought it to share on the day. Nick got this idea from a tournament he attended in Germany, and it seemed to be a hit. Even if it did cost some of us sleep.

Oh, and I said I would include a photo of my army in this post. Well I went and took it the other night, then realised (when it was far too much hassle to go and re-take it) that I had missed the biggest model, the Hurricanum. I am a stupidhead.
My army, minus the Celestial Hurricanum, which had gotten lost on the way to the photo shoot.
You'd think it would be hard to miss, right? Duh...
Anyway, on with the tournament. 

Celestial Hurricanum finished

I was hoping to post the second half of my Axemaster report today, but I found myself a bit busy and it's not done yet. Instead, you will have to make do with pictures of my most recent painting effort, the Celestial Hurricanum. This thing was part of my army at Axemaster, although technically it wasn't quite finished. I've added a couple of last touches now, and am happy to declare it done.
The Hurricanum doesn't share my army's colour scheme - I figure it's purely affiliated with the Celestial college

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Axemaster 2012 Aftermath - Day 1

Axemaster is over for another year, and now that I've had a day to recover, it's probably time for me to start writing a report before I completely forget what happened...
The tournament about to kick off
I've posted my list before, but I'll repeat it here for convenience. I received a 12/20 for comp (scores for everything were doubled in the event in order to avoid rounding and decimals, so you'll find the games were out of 40 instead of 20, and the comp scores out of 20 instead of 10). Axemaster used comp-battle, where you take the difference between the two comp scores, halve it, and apply it as a modified to both battle scores (so higher comp adds half, lower comp subtracts half). Overall scores for the round were capped at 0 and 40.

Arch Lector on War Altar
     General; Prayers of Sigmar; Great Weapon; Light Armour; 
     Talisman of Preservation
     Van Horstman's Speculum

Wizard Lord of the Light Order
     Magic Level 4; 
     White Cloak of Ulric
     Fencer's Blades

Captain of the Empire
     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Battle Standard; Warhorse
     Charmed Shield
     Talisman of Endurance
     Biting Blade

51 Halberdiers
     Standard; Musician; Sergeant
     Detachment - 6 Archers

9 Knights of the Inner Circle
    Standard; Musician; Barding; Shields; Lances
     Banner of the Eternal Flame

28 Flagellants

4 Demigryph Knights 
     Standard; Musician; Barding; Shields; Lances

Great Cannon

Celestial Hurricanum

Steam Tank

TOTAL: 2498 points

If 12/20 seems like a pretty high comp score, that is because everyone across the field was slightly higher than you might expect. I felt my list was fairly strong, with good synergies and answers for most things. It was competitive. I haven't taken a photo of my army yet, but I'll make sure there's one on the report for day 2.

Round 1 - Glood and Glory
David Lowe (High Elves)

Archmage (L4 Shadow) with Folariath's Robe, Talisman of Saphery
Noble (BSB) with Armour of Caledor, Dawnstone, Great Weapon, Longbow
Mage (L2 Life) with Annulian Crystal
32 Sea Guard with Full Command
10 Archers with Musician
10 Archers with Musician
20 Phoenix Guard with Full Command, Razor Standard
20 Phoenix Guard with Full Command, Banner of Arcane Protection
5 Dragon Princes with Standard, Musician, Banner of Swiftness
5 Dragon Princes with Standard, Musician

Comp Score: 16/20

Monday, 15 October 2012

Axemaster and beyond

This coming weekend sees me involved in yet another tournament. Axemaster will most likely be the last event on the local calendar. This is probably a good thing, as I'm about ready for a break. I always make resolutions to step back and attend fewer tournaments, then end up getting caught up in the social aspect of things when lots of other people are going.

Axemaster will also be the final tournament to be included in the rankings system for this year, along with Castle Assault which is running at the same time up in New South Wales. The push to make Masters will be extremely tight this time - it looks like there are at least 8 players at Axemaster who could make the cut if they finish on the podium. 8 into 3 doesn't fit, so this could be a very competitive event.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Warhammer World Series - Did it work?

Well the weekend is now well past and I've had time to recover from the frenzy of gaming that was the Warhammer World Series. I've already talked about the unique format out the event and my concerns leading into it. Now it's time to look back and see what worked, and what could have been done differently.

What went right
My primary concern going into the event was time. Our schedule was brutally tight, with 1 hour and 45 minutes per round, and no gaps between rounds except for the lunch break. In truth, I was worried it wouldn't work - especially when many players would be using armies they were completely unfamiliar with. I did my best to convey my concerns to the participants, and issued regular warnings as the time ticked down. I also setup a large countdown clock on the TV sitting on the stage, and I think all of these things combined to keep people moving. In the end the event ran almost exactly to schedule, and I believe only 1 or 2 games over the whole tournament had to be cut short. This is an amazing result, and testament to how quickly 1500pt games can be played, especially when people are conscious of the time.

A major danger in this unique event was potential army mismatches. One of the great strengths of the format was that each table could be setup with armies that were more or less on a par in terms of power, allowing for relatively even games across the board. However, if the matches were done poorly, this strength would instead become a pronounced weakness - the mismatches would be locked in and games would suffer each round as a different pair of players arrived on the unbalanced table. We ended up setting up 16 tables, although in the end we had only 22 players. Having 5 extra tables was not a problem, and just allowed for a bit more variety for the players. Over the course of the event, I only heard a few concerns about match-ups, which I will cover later. In general people seemed to be happy with what they were using and facing, and as a whole I would consider this aspect of the tournament a success. 
The tables are setup and the armies come out - more preparation than usual for this event

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Ulric War Altar Finished!

Well I may have been delayed by the tournament over the weekend (I'll discuss this in a later post), but the War Altar is now finished. I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out, and I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I'm using something unique when I put it on the table. Now I have over a week to paint a Celestial Hurricanum. It's a pretty fancy model, but how hard can it be..?
All pimped up and ready to go!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A very different tournament

On the weekend we will be running the Warhammer World Series, which (despite the grandiose name) is a small 1500pt one-day tournament with a difference. There will be no comp scores, nor will there be any painting scores. Neither of these things are applicable, because players are not turning up with their own armies. Instead, the armies are already allocated to the tables, and the players arrive at the table and play with what they find there. The scenario is also pre-determined for the given table. 

This is not a concept I have ever seen tried before, but I think it's quite exciting. I was looking forward to playing in such an event, but in the end I've put my hand up to run it instead, to try to ensure everything goes smoothly. There are a number of advantages and potential pitfalls for a tournament using this approach:

Players don't need to worry about making armies, and there are no comp restrictions or scoring required. Entering an event like this couldn't be simpler. This is a particular advantage for those who don't like the underlying game of writing competitive army lists and trying to "beat the system" as some might.

Armies and scenarios can be balanced in advance. Not all armies in a tournament like this need to be of a similar strength. All that matters is that they face off well against the force on the other side of the table. You can even field unusual, unbalanced armies that would be a serious liability in a normal tournament, because you know what they will be up against. You can make it work.

Players will be tested in ways they never have before. It is a rare player that has used every army in Warhammer - many tend to focus on one or two. Entering a tournament where they could find themselves with a different unfamiliar army each game will test their versatility and overall game knowledge. It also adds variety for the players - no chance of getting bored with the using the same list all day. For players who are looking for a new army to collect, this offers quite the opportunity to take a few for a test drive.

Organising an event like this can be problematic because you need a sufficient supply of armies that people are willing to let other people (potentially strangers) play with. With the amount of time and care that goes into preparing armies, people can be quite protective of their work. You also need a wide variety of armies available, or the whole point of the exercise is somewhat lost. If everyone just brings along a Daemon army, you haven't gained much. In our case we have every army represented except Tomb Kings, so we're doing well. some armies are more numerous than others, but that's partly my fault - I'll be contributing 15 of the armies (not looking forward to setup)...

Whilst it's all well and good for players to try to adapt to new things, it will inevitably slow things down. In our case this promises to be a particular problem because we've ended up with a very tight schedule. Combine that with people picking up a new army every round, and we may be headed for problems. I'll be trying to keep on top of that, but people can expect to be hurried up. Under different circumstances, the learning process could be better accommodated by allowing extra time for each round.

Being able to pick the armies that will face each other round after round and choose an appropriate scenario is definitely an advantage when it comes to game balance. However, there is still the requirement to get this bit right. An unbalanced match-up could see one player on the table with a disadvantage each round. Of course, in a normal tournament you are relying on a comp panel to get the scoring right (or a set of caps to level the field), so the element of risk may be no greater overall.

The Armies
So, having looked at the potential advantages and pitfalls of this unusual tournament, let's have a look at the armies we have lined up. Ideally with more preparation you could actually playtest the pairings to determine how well they stack up, but we will have to make do with the analysis of several experienced players.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Empire War Altar progress

So, I have finally stopped putting off the construction of an War Altar, and progress is now going well. I talked previously about being an inefficient fool who ignores a perfectly good plastic kit in order to make something unique. This delayed me in the past, but no longer! Construction is complete and painting has commenced...
It always amazes me how much a project comes together visually when the undercoat hides all the bits and modifications.