Hot on the heels of my narrow defeat at Wargames Emporium on the 28th, I woke up the next day at 7.30 to attend a glass tournament at the wonderful Boards and Swords venue in Derby. Having never been to Boards and Swords before (or even Derby itself for that matter) and traveling on my own I was a bit nervous. It was also close to payday and my bank account was emptier then a Sepulchral Guard players board on turn 3 vs aggro fiends so I was trusting to google maps that it would only be a half hour walk from the train station and that I wouldn’t need to ply a taxi driver with all the copper coins under the sun in order to reach my destination.
I needn’t have worried, in spite of the torrential rain I made my way with ease to the venue with plenty of time to spare and got chatting to the very chill and nice owner (sorry I have already forgotten his name). After a few more players arrived the owner put out a batch of pastries for everyone to eat from, this was followed later in the day with a catered lunch that included small slices of wraps, crisps and cake! The ticket price was only £10 and I have to say I would heavily recommend anyone else goes based on the grub alone.
Ok enough pleasantries, I didn’t wake up at 7.30 to eat pastries and have a good time. No I came to win glass. At this point I am the only member of the Steel City blog team that has not made it to two trophies. I can hear their endless mocking in my head, and on our team slack. I need this win. Pretty please. The format was best of 3, which is by far my preference, and we were to play 4 rounds at which point a winner would be declared. My faction of choice was Farstriders and I had some tricks that I think would surprise the locals…
Deck notes – my Farstriders deck is heavily defensive. The entirety of my objective deck is passive glory scoring but if you were to take a look at my power deck you might be confused into thinking I was playing aggro as it is packed to the brim with damage cards (Twist the knife + Raptors strike+ Trap) and movement cards that can let me close with me enemy (Hidden Paths + Spectral wings). The reason for this mishmash is that I change my play depending on my opponent – against aggro lists I do the same thing as full defensive stallcast and just sit at the back and starve them of glory while ticking up the odd passive point or two. However, against enemy stallcast or objective based decks I go in swinging. I have learnt that objective decks outscore the passive ones and I’ll be damned if I am letting Skellies take a game off me.
Round 1 – A Shattered mirror
My round one opponent was called Rich (sorry I forgot to note anyone’s surnames and my memory is worse than Gurzags aim) and he was piloting some excellently painted Farstriders (see above). It’s always interesting facing Farstriders as you can never be sure what type of deck they are playing until you get stuck in. My experience tells me that most people play them as aggro, synergising the inspire condition with objectives that reward you for advancing into your opponents territory (Swift Advance + conquest) and running general solid aggro objectives (Advancing strike). Rich won board setup on game one so I picked the shiny new lighting board (hoping to use the lethal hexes for extra damage) and Rich set the boards up in an aggro short board style. Seeing the board setup I was even surer these were Aggrostriders so I deployed as far back as possible. Sure enough in turn 1 Rich boldly advanced 2 of his models into my territory, leaving them scarily close to my huddled defenders. Knowing this matchup I cannot just sit back and score passive glory, when the boards are setup like this letting his models inspire while I get +2/3 glory usually means the Aggrostriders player has far better models for fighting with in the next 2 turns. So I pounced before they could inspire, turn 1 saw a string of lucky dice rolls from myself (I literally hit 4 50/50 attacks in a row) leaving both of his advancing models dead before they could inspire. The rest of the game played out fast as I avoided combat as much as possible and just secured a safe win. 14 – 5 glory to me.
Game 2 saw Rich winning the board roll off again and a similar chain of events played out to game 1, this time however my leader died early on, leaving me a bit under pressure but an attack buffed by both twist the knife and trap slaughtered one of his models and I managed to score more glory. This glory led to upgrades like deathly fortitude so my remaining models became impossible for him to kill. Again I played cautious after the initial brawl and eked out a 14 – 7 win. Both games I had just managed to score superior tactician, having scored exactly 6 other objectives.
Rich played well and definitely had by far the worse end of the dice rolls. I feel if luck had been even it would have been 2-1 but it’s impossible to say. Still I will take my lucky 2-0 win and advance to the next round.
Round 2 – The Pied Piper
Rats. I hate rats. Skaven are another faction that can play multiple ways, namely pure objective, one rat army Skritch agro or a hybrid mix of the 2. Currently with the card great concussion being so oppressive most Skaven play the aggro style so in a game 1 I assume that’s whats going down and deploy based on that. My opponent, Francois, had board setup, I picked lightning again and deployed back, worrying about Skritch coming in to one shot my guys. Game 1 was strange… very strange. I sat back and trusted to scoring passive glory while Francois slowly advanced across the board. I killed a couple of unimportant rats and ended up winning by 11 – 3 despite not doing much. At the end of the game Francois had confessed that he thought I was playing aggro striders when his deck was hybrid so he had kept a hand full of stuff like defensive strike and then didn’t have the tools to get to me. This is a big advantage to playing slightly different to people’s expectations; you sometimes just get a free game.
Game 2, the jig was up, Francois knew what I was about but this time I had won board placement. Seeing how his deck played I was more worried about him scoring big off some objectives then losing in a fair fight so I placed the boards short ways and deployed aggressively. The rats mostly ignored Sigmar’s finest for this engagement, focusing on the shiny treasures hidden in the city instead. Over the first 2 turns I had killed 3 rats (none of them Skritch) one of which had come back and denied my opponent all his objectives through pushing rats off them via ranged attacks or using the ever broken great concussion. On turn 3 I couldn’t add to the pile of corpses so instead just secured some passive glory. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw Francois score 8 glory in turn 3 – literally just from objectives and not from any keys. This is why you should fear objective decks, when left alone they will shit glory out of every orifice they can. However I had garnered enough over my turns to edge out a win. 10 – 8 to me.
Another 2 -0 victory. I was starting to get a tad nervous; I always get nervous when I have a chance of doing well. I may have been seen pacing in between rounds (my games were much shorter than other peoples). I was trying to think calm thoughts and it wasn’t working but my head was definitely in the game.
Rounds 3 and 4 – Polishing the bulwark
I have placed both of these sets of games into one section for a reason. Both of my opponents, Timo and Scott, were running aggro fiends. I won board placement in game 1 of both rounds. Both of my opponents were not ready for the horror of the turtle deck. I stand by the fact that defensive decks are good for the state of the game but it does feel bad when your opponents have almost nothing they can do to beat you. Neither had put the tools in their decks to deal with my shenanigans, in no way were they let down by their play.
Both players were very chill about what happened, despite it being a frustrating experience for them. For anyone else out there who is struggling against this type of turtle I heavily recommend reading my co authors 3 part series on Breaking the Bulwark, there is a reason Tom is the only player i dropped a game to over both days.
So after the dust settled I had scored 2-0 in both rounds 3 and 4 giving me an 8-0 record over my 4 rounds and securing me a little less mocking from the rest of the Steel City team.
One thing that I absolutely loved about my time at Boards and Swords was how my opponents dealt with their losses. Instead of getting frustrated at my play style they wanted to know what made my deck tick and often we would both go through each others decks afterwards and have a good chat about the state of the game. Hopefully next time they come across defensive decks they will be ready. I already said that Tom was the only play I dropped a game to this weekend – my total over both this and the Wargames tournament was 11-1 in games.
As for you Tom, i think its about time i stopped your happy go lucky aggro rampage. See you at the next tournament.