Apologies for the delay, I'm sure you've all been on tenterhooks waiting to hear how I won the British National tournament a couple of weeks ago. Or did I? Read on friend.
A possibly disappointing 64 players still made this the largest tourney I think I've been to. Whilst there were some friendly faces in the crowd I was hoping to meet new and interesting
people opponents. And kill beat them.
I took my usual lineup of Obulus, Dirge, Ghast and Mist. Last two slots were a choice of Graves1, Graves2, Casket and Brainpan& Memory. You're probably familiar with my reasoning. Casket if I know I'll be dragged into a fight and want to players who take a lot of work to get taken down, otherwise Brainpan & Memory in that slot. I've also started to favour Casket if i know I'm facing teams who can keep the ball away from me (fighty Alchemists with Naja for example, or Vitriol/Snakeskin with clone) so I can aim for two goals one takeout rather than the three. I can't say I'm getting bored of these options but maybe in future I should force myself to try Scalpel and Cosset more.
Game 1: Dave Culver (Brewers)
One of the 'Culver brothers', I think Dave has been playing Brewers for a good long time. I'm pretty sure I saw his goal at the first tournament I ever went to.
He took a pretty standard Brewers lineup but with Friday in the space that might otherwise have been taken by Avarisse & Greede/Pintpot if he was going "full beater". This actually ended up as a stroke of genius. I took Casket instead of B&M because Brewers.
He received and passed down the line, managing to stay out of puppetmaster range until Friday managed to slot in an opening goal. I should have kicked off with Obulus. I reply with a Mist goal, though almost certainly dooming him to a beat down.
That indeed happens and Mist and Graves1 go down to the drunken deluge whilst my opponent masterfully keeps the ball away from Obulus' grasp, though he can't quite score himself.
It's taken almost his whole team to take down my boys, and now they're stranded on the far side of the pitch. Friday is isolated and ends up in the coffin before an unchallenged Obulus bounces off Stoker for a winning goal.
Final Score: 12-8
Lesson learned: Don't assume all Brewers players are aiming for 6-0 or 4-1. Friday is slippery and being 0-4 down to a hitty team on turn one is bad.
I'm also loving Casket more and more. Not in every game, but his legendary play has gotten me out of a few sticky situations that probably would have otherwise ended with me losing 10-12.
Game 2: James Coleman (Fishermen)
I've seen recently that it's trendy amongst some Fish players to get a whole lot of work out of Salt, including a turn one goal. With Jac, he has a potential 26"ish threat on goal (the majority of that being dodges) without any teamwork actions. However putting 3INF on the little fellow on turn one is rather a giveaway. If I'm playing someone who is going to try and get a lot of work out of Salt that I'll take Graves2. Outside of charges, TAC2 does not like ARM2 and gravedigger can make it worth my while to go otter clubbing (like seal clubbing more even more inhumane).
Nevertheless he tries a Salt turn one goal but due to terrain and other players he leaves Salt within puppetmaster range. The ball is now mine and my opponent goes 0-4 down on turn one after receiving. Ouch.
It's never easy for Shark, Salt, Angel, Greyscales, Jac and Sakana to recover from that. Probably one of the reasons I doubt I'll ever play Fish.
Final Score: 12-8
Lesson Learned: Salt is still a tricksy mister and I need to be more careful about player placement to make it harder for him to tag that goal.
Game 3: Chris Tamplin (Hunters)
I've seen Chris around but never had a chance to play his rather nice looking Hunters until now. It turns out he was a priest of Theron BEFORE the errata, so now he's just the happiest Hunters player who ever was.
I receive and manoeuvre for the Turn1 Mist goal. I don't know why this guy isn't more prevalent. People still love A&G so I'm happy for them to take them instead I guess. After spending far too long measuring where to put Mist to avoid Hearne's retaliation (including forestjumping), I settle on a spot that completely forgets about the forestjumping. I know, I can't explain it either. Brainfart.
"Well it'd be rude of me not to kill him now" says the ever gentlemanly Chris. Mist goes down to Hearne. Silly Dave.
It descends into a bit of a scrap, with me taking out Theron and even getting Hearne in the Casket while he duffs up Graves and Ghast. 10-6 to me, still a pretty sweet spot right?
But I'm not used to playing Hunters. Especially not Theron. Especially not after the errata. I "umm" and I "ahh" and I clock out.
I can't get to the ball or kill anyone.
I can't get to the ball or kill anyone.
I can't get to the ball or kill anyone.
In my panic I've forgotten to heal a beaten and snared Mist, who goes down to a rabid Fahad.
Final Score: 12-10
Lesson Learned: Gah! No one to blame but myself, I faffed about when I could've made clear and straightforward decisions and saved myself time. Clock management people, learn it.
It was about this time that I start receiving the "you'd better be on the top table so we can see you on the stream" messages from you guys. Well **** you ;)
Game 4: James Reeves (Masons)
Going to time, clocking out and losing means that you have very little time to lick your wounds before the next game. I won't lie, I was mentally exhausted even later into the evening.
I've played James before, he's the Masons player who took the 'non traditional' team consisting of Hammer, Granite, Wrecker, vHarmony, Tower and Minx at the last tournament.
He changed his mind this time and took the usual Honour, Brick, Flint, Mallet and, oddly, Wrecker. He tells me he doesn't have room in his 10 for both mascots and both captains and doesn't always play Brick so finds Marbles less useful than Wrecker. Another nonstandard viewpoint but I respect him for it!
I can't quite recollect the ebb and flow of this game (see above re mental exhaustion) but I score and in response he triggers a 6 point activation with an Honour and Harmony linked activation. Powerful stuff, hard to avoid. I must have hidden the ball and scored at the end of the next turn after using Rigor Mortis to guarantee the first activation of the following turn to score again. It's all rather a blur.
Final Score 12-6
Lesson Learned: You know I think I want to play Masons. Honour's output is just a spectacle to watch, and a linked 6 point activation must feel so good
Q&A session: The Steamforged guys kindly sat down for a bit of a preview of next year's models and a Q&A. My main concern/question was that although me knew at some point they would stop expanding the guilds, the move to six man boxes rather than blisters appears to be a rather tacit admission that we've now reached that point (unless they're going to announce six new Morticians players at once). Time to find new guilds boys, nothing to see here.
Game 5: Barrie Voice (Alchemists)
The next morning, and time to see how much the errata has crippled old Midas! Thankfully he took Katalyst instead of vKatalyst. You all know my feelings on that vhunk of vbroken.
As it turns out, the errata changes have not overly affected Midas. He is still his old pushdodging self. I make no excuses for this game, I played dreadfully. I gave Midas one too many openings and he exploited them beautifully. Of course 5INF is enough for Midas to push/dodge his way to Obulus, tackle the ball and score. I have no defence for thinking that it wouldn't be.
I tired hard, and knowing that I'd be outscored I put Vitriol in the coffin again to make up some ground but ultimately the Alchemists always had the game in hand.
Final Score 12-8
Lesson Learned: I got complacent about Midas. No excuses for that. Give him an inch and he'll take a mile. He's still just as powerful in all honesty.
Game 6: Oliver Visick (Fishermen)
Oliver was another new face, so I was doing quite well on that front. I'd also done well on not repeating an opponent Guild until now, the second Fisherman player of the weekend. He also took Shark and a football heavy team including the now well recognised Jac/Salt combo. I almost wish that people would take Corsair against me as I feel woefully unprepared!
This game did not go poor Oliver's way. I received and scored at the end of turn one. For some reason he had no one in an ideal spot for the kickoff so didn't immediately score in response. Taking his opportunity, Mist managed to pluck the ball back off Siren and score again for 8-0. Sad times for the Fish.
I'll be honest, the challenge was now seeing if I could win 12-0 rather than just winning. That may sound harsh but I wondered if it was do-able in a tournament setting against Fishermen. Sakana is quicker than I remembered however, and managed to get a shot off..
....which he missed! Leaving the ball sad and alone until Salt got to it to put the Fish on the scoreboard at 8-4. With 12-0 out of the equation I scored again asap in case anything else went wrong.
Final Score: 12-4
Lesson Learned: If I ever DO play Fish, I think it'll be Corsair.
Those of you who watched the streams may have seen Aaron Wilson's Morticians pull off a (perhaps) surprise win against Steve Easton's Engineers, putting him 3rd overall and so of course I was not the top Morticians player. I did come away with the giftbag swag for attending which included a LE Morticians ball. Yeah baby! 4-2 and 17th/64 overall is something I think I can live with. Just have to learn how to deal with Alchemists, my Achilles heal.
Of special note for the weekend was friend of mine called Quinn Duggan who ripped open his Farmers box on Friday evening and even managed to get three colours on them by Saturday morning. With Tater not yet officially released Quinn was trapped into the original six plus Benediction. The mad fool was the sole Farmers representative (so guaranteed the world's first official "Best Farmer" award) but even managed to go 4-2 into the bargain, ending 23/64. A fair dinkum achievement I think you'll agree. Farmers seem more and more appealing...
Next time: Spreading my wild oats?