Tom: It took three strong coffees and a questionable energy to perk me up for the drive from Sheffield to Milton Keynes with my Steel City comrades. The 2 hour drive down the M1 mainly consisted of me being abused for my unshakable faith in the new Moonclan warband, as well as a discussion around which of our warbands were best suited to play against which opposition. We were bringing aggro Bloodreavers, defensive Stormcast and a midrange Farstriders deck. Mike wanted to avoid Skaven with his Farstriders, Iains Stormcast didn’t want to face Farstriders or Bloodreavers, and I was mostly afraid of an aggro deck that would close me down and not allow me to hit and run.
After arriving at the border of Milton Keynes and experiencing the local tradition of bizarrely excessive roundabout placement, we arrived at the hotel for the night before the tournament. Hitting 9 o clock in the evening my body had begun to wake up (I’d been on nights that week) so me and Mike played a game to decide who got the double bed. Mike added Bloodreavers to the list of warbands he didn’t want to face, and I got to starfish like a boss all night.
Time for tournament day!
We arrived in the tournament hall and got our deck-lists ready. I received more abuse for having forgotten to write a list prior to the event. This meant I had to scribble on an old maths exercise book I nicked off my brother. I am very professional.
After another coffee and a overwhelming feeling of nervous excitement, we walked up to the desk to find out our first round pairings.
Mike: Just a quick note on the unique format of this Grand Clash, the UK Team Championship had us playing as teams of 3 instead of the usual solo affair. Each team had to consist of 3 unique warbands and would be paired against another team with the same limitation. In order to determine individual match ups the captains for each team start with a coin toss, and the winner picks the first pair of warbands/players to face off, the loser picks the next match up and the remaining players form the final match up. I was our team captain so i was in charge of that bit of strategy (as well as booking the hotel).
I book the best hotel rooms.
Round 1 – Steel City Relics vs Da Divas
Mike: We were facing off against a team consisting of Orks, Farstriders and Fiends. Winning the coin toss – wahoo first win – i picked Iain’s Steelhearts to go against the other teams Orks as Orks are generally a free win for Iains defensive style of deck. They picked the Farstrider mirror, which left Tom with a fight between the Reavers and Fiends for Khornes affection.
Tom’s Match – Garrek’s Reavers vs Magore’s Fiends
Tom: Round 1 I faced up against Stu. This chap was running Magore’s Fiends and had apparently been dragged along by his mates having only played 3 games of Shadespire prior to the day. My team where confident the odds were stacked in my favour here, and I entered my first match full of bravado.
Naturally i bounced off his Fiends for 3 turns and ended the game with an 11-12 loss. Turns out for me at least there is no such thing as a free win. Well played Stu, the man made me work!
The next two games I bucked my ideas up and played a little bit more carefully. Instead of going hell for leather at the start of my game i held back and avoided Stu’s charges until my hand was stacked with aggro ploys. As soon as the Fiends got too close I swept in with all my extra activation cards in my hand, taking Zharkus and Riptooth off the board. I had secured a good enough lead at this point to simply avoid the other two fiends and close out the game with a win.
My final game i drew the perfect opening hands, Twist the Knife and Trap along with advancing Strike and Masterstroke allowed me to secure an early glory lead, from there the game snowballed and I managed to secure a 2-1 victory over my opponent.
Mike’a Match – The Farstriders vs The Farstriders
Mike: Tom has already mentioned that I wanted to avoid Skaven… well my 2nd most feared match up is the Farstrider mirror. The way my deck is built does not fair well into how most other players build Farstriders, I’ll write an article soon going into more detail, suffice to say I run a very defensive orientated objective deck and although I have a lot of killy stuff in my power deck I will never score much off of killing enemy models. Most people that I have seen at tournaments run super aggro Farstriders and synergise the inspire condition with charging into their opponents territory, if I ignore that and hold back then I might get more glory on turn 1 but I will be facing 3 inspired models who are all up in my grill and ready to rumble on turns 2 and 3, its not a pretty site.
Game 1:My opponent won boards and we went short, I don’t think he was quite prepared for how my deck worked, he probably hasn’t played against too many defensive lists. I managed to mostly win game 1 by hanging back and strangling him out on glory.
Game 2: My opponent won boards and set up long, I was not expecting this. I had seen some defensive objectives in his deck from the first game, Skirting Danger amongst others, and so decided that I didn’t want to play the card draw RNG game and instead would try and take the fight to him. I set up aggressively and struck decisively. This was a rare occurrence where i got to use the Farstriders inspiration condition in the mirror match and it felt so good. After the dust had settled i had managed to wipe his warband out with 3 very badly wounded fighters on my side, I had 4 wounds left between all my models. My opponent managed to use inspiration strikes on his own Farstrider and we both made multiple ranged attacks with the bird and further proved rule 6. of Warhammer Underworlds: The bird always crits.
Iain’s Match – Steelheart’s Champions vs Ironskull’s Boyz
Iain: My opponent in round 1 was Tim, playing Ironskull’s Boyz. This is a matchup I’m usually extremely confident in, as I feel the Orruks are generally the weakest of the aggro-focused warbands and have never previously had a problem playing against them – either with my current defensive Steelhearts or earlier more aggressive builds. Gurzag’s high wounds, their easy inspire condition, and a few of their ploys are really the only things that stand out.
Game 1 went pretty much as I was expecting. Despite getting confused and mulligan-ing what was actually a perfectly good objective hand, I was able to use my push ploys to keep a good distance until I’d built up enough glory to upgrade Obryn and start killing greenskins. My opponent had kept his starting hand on the assumption that I was playing an aggressive list, and combined with my own draws coming out pretty much perfectly after my early mistake a I ended up with a 10-2 win.
Unfortunately, the first game going so well meant I was completely surprised by Tim’s spicy deck choices. He had included the Shadeglass Axe and Spear rather than the more common Hammer and Dagger to give more reach against defensive lists, and brought the Keys to provide late-game glory swings. Both of these combined to let him come back from my early lead and edge out a win by applying more pressure than normal with the ranged weapons and a big end game swing from Denial and a Key. The end result was 11-12
The deciding Game 3 started off poorly for me, having to discard a bad objective hand into a second one that was only slightly better and left me behind on glory at the end of turn 1. I charged an inspired Gurzag with Angharad in turn 2 to score Change of Tactics then made the mistake of not pushing him away, as he would have been able to attack anyway using the Shadeglass Spear equipped to him – completely overlooking that this would be 1 less base damage and Tim using Twist the Knife. I was immediately punished by a 6 damage counter attack that took Angharad out action and left me even further behind.
In the final turn, Tim won the roll-off and charged in to try and take out Obryn. Fortunately, I managed to get lucky and Gurzag’s first attack missed, Obryn inspired, and Gurzag’s Time Trap follow-up couldn’t get through his 2 defense dice. With 2 activations in a row, I was able to take out both Gurzag and Bonekutta, then use Hidden Paths to send Severin into Tim’s territory to stop Denial. This was enough to let me equalize at 9-9, and with neither side completely out of action and no fighters on objectives the game was a draw.
This meant that my overall match result was a tie, although when reporting our results it turned out that the TOs had decided to tiebreak individual matches using total glory which meant it was recorded as a win for me.
Round 2 – Steel City Relics vs Unlikely Friends
Mike: The other team consisted of Fiends, Farstriders and The Sepulchra Guard. I once again won the coin toss – woo 2 for 2 – and picked Iains Steelhearts into their Fiends. Despite what had happened in round 1 we still thought it was the most likely free win of all the matchups. Our opponents picked the Farstrider mirror (urgh), which left Tom facing off against the Warden and his abnormally low BMI buddies.
Tom’s Match – Garrek’s Reavers vs
The Sepulchral Guard Nurglings
My second bout pit me against Ceri, who was playing a Sepulchral Guard list. These wonderfully converted Nurgling models proved to be as dangerous as they were interesting. Initially I felt my Bloodreavers had plenty of opportunity to pick up free glory and score-immediately objectives off of the Petitioners, however Game 1 was a bizarre affair. I set up aggressively intending to disrupt the skeletons objective play, but a Turn 1 charge from the Champion scoring Ceri Advancing Strike revealed how I had misread my opponent. This game was bloody, with me scoring Khorne Cares Not in Turn 1, despite a resurrection coming in on Ceri’s side. I had scored 6 objectives and sat on 12 glory at the end of Turn 2, unfortunately i had also run out of living worshippers of the blood god. Escalation therefore became unscorable Turn 3, and we tied on 15 glory at the end of the game with me scoring Superior Tactician. Unfortunately for me having no models remaining meant Ceri won the tiebreaker.
Games 2 and 3, knowing I was up against aggressive Sepulchral guard I did exactly the same thing I had done against my first round opponent. I sat out of range and picked up kills more surgically until my glory lead was big enough to push in harder. Game 2 was still a close run thing, ending at 12-10 to me. Game 3 having finally got to grips with Ceri’s deck I managed to get a 21 glory total to take a second win. On a side note Inspired Karsus + Time Trap + Squishy models = Bloodbath.
It was brilliant to see a the surprise factor of the Guard deck combined with clever play and more aggressive warden be successful. In the end however the Deathrattle’s lack of mobility is always a big task to overcome.
Mike’s Match – The Farstriders vs The Farstriders (again)
Mike: Do other Farstrider players fear Reavers? Twice they had picked my Farstriders over Tom’s scarlet clad mad men, oh well, I had done well in round one at the mirror so maybe this would go ok.
Game 1: My opponent won the board roll off and set up short, he was playing the feared aggro Striders. It hurt. I had to be dragged down to his level and fight like a common Khorne worshipper. At the end of the game we both had one model left and he had won by 1 glory, I have no idea how the glory was so close. I don’t have a single objective for killing models. It should be noted that on turn one my opponent made an amazing Shardgale/My turn combo to kill 2 of my fighters in one activation, leaving me with one model left to try and claw back the game. I didn’t but I made him work for it.
Game 2: I won board – thank god yes I have a chance – my notes on this game are “Flashing Handaxe attacks missed twice fuck my life” – after that it still managed to be a tie. I think I had managed to get a fair lead in glory before my opponent closed and the fighting had begun. So the rare tie – this left all to play for in game 3.
Game 3: My opponent won boards. See game 1 except this time he won by 2 glory. My opponent played a solid game and didn’t leave me the openings I needed to close the difference in this mis match of styles. Still a very enjoyable series. Having lost my game I was very nervously watching the results of Tom’s games (no conferring allowed) to see what fate had in store for the Steel City Relics.
Iain’s Match – Steelheart’s Champions vs Magore’s Fiends
Iain: I was paired against Keith, a Fiends player that Mike and I had previously played against at a Clash in Wargames Armoury in Langley Mill. I managed to win the board choice roll-off in both games, picking a diagonal placement that minimised the number of enemy fighters that could come at me early. Game 1 was pretty much textbook for a defensive list against an aggressive one, with my objectives and upgrades coming out in basically the perfect order to give me a 13-3 win.
Game 2 was much closer, as my starting objectives meant I had to deploy a bit closer and I had fewer early pushes, resulting in a brutal melee raging through much of rounds 2 and 3. Fortunately I was just able to pull ahead and score an 11-10 victory.
Round 3 – Steel City Relics vs Can You Roll a Crit?
Mike: We were up against John Rees of ‘Can you Roll a Crit?’ fame and his team from the home of aggro in the UKTm. This meant we were playing with the big boys and on table 1. John’s team were running his famous Skaven, Fiends and Reavers. Unfortunately my luck deserted me and I lost the coin toss. John being the canny player that he is picked his Skaven into my Farstriders, god help me, we then picked Iains bulwark to stand against the Fiends which left Tom picking up the scraps with another Khorne match up – this time in the mirror.
Tom’s Match – Garrek’s Reavers vs Garrek’s Reavers
Tom: My third round opponent was Alec, a fellow Reavers player. This matchup was different to any of my previous games from the start. Not only was my opponent playing what is indisputably the most incredible warband, the sexual tension between us across our games was palpable. Seriously though…our Arnulf’s touched tips on more than one occasion… (picture featuring Karsus the jilted lover)
Game 1 went as well as I could’ve hoped in terms of my dice and my power cards, the only thing that went against me was my opening objective hand. I had to bin Denial, Superior Tactician and Ploymaster. Myself and Alec traded blows and score immediately objectives through the entire game, with me edging out a slight lead overall. Unfortunately for me when turn three came around my big scorers were in the bin and Alecs were not – the end result was 15-16 to my opponent. A Grisly Trophy kill seperated us. I have always favoured A Destiny To Meet myself as i rarely get more than one Grisly Trophy kill in a game, but alas my Destiny remained in my power deck this time. This first game was as tight as any I’ve played, and huge respect to my opponent for incredible Bloodreavers play.
Game 2 I kept hold of an Objective hand containing Superior Tactician, Bold Advance and Masterstroke – without a reaction to score my 3rd objective in my hand. I think my decision was coloured too much by missing Superior Tactician last game. On reflection it’s an obvious hand to bin, but I didn’t make the correct decision under pressure and it stunted my Turn 1 glory. We traded kills Game 2 much like Game 1, but this time Alec profited from the bloodshed much more, with the final score being 11-18 to Alec.
I was absolutely gutted to lose, so it’s a testament to my opponent and this game that I had an absolutely brilliant time playing. A lot of people came to this event for a shot at the trophy, and not everyone can get it. The next best thing is an exciting set of games and a gracious opponent, and I was fortunate enough to get both.
The raw physical chemistry between us also helped.
Mike’s Match – The Farstriders vs Spiteclaw’s Swarm
Mike: You know they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well here’s a vod of the best of 3 match between me and John. Honestly if anyone is complaining about defensive decks then they should witness the horror of trying to hide from a 7 threat range fighter that wins the game if kills a single model and has about 72 shenanigans, e.g. illusary fighter, to stop you from fighting back. I’m not salty.
To do a more objective analysis – on game 1 I missed 2 ranged 3 attacks that if either had been a hit or even a tie I could have pushed Scritch further out of range, leaving my models safe for a turn where I would have scored Well-Guarded and Unbroken Wall. Unfortunately for me John is very good at rolling crits leaving only 3 hexes between our models, one sidestep later and Scritch started carving up my team. I couldn’t come back.
Game 2 was much closer despite the start of Scritch decapitating Farstrider with Hidden Paths and then running away with Illusory fighter. Honestly I am super happy that I even made game 2 vaguely close after that start, 90% of my objective deck can only be scored with all 3 models being safe at the back. Fair play to John though, although he only won by 2 glory he played the game very conservatively once he got his lead and instead of trying to score big simply made it impossible for me to come back. Note there was a fun little play in turn 1 – when Scritch uses hidden paths to teleport in-between my models I use Rangers Advance to re position – that changed the chances of him killing a model with dice by about 50% – if your unsure of why then have a good think about where the models were.
Iain’s Match – Steelheart’s Champions vs Magore’s Fiends
Iain: Of the 3 decks we were playing against, my chances were probably highest against the Fiends. I’ve got a lot of experience playing against them as they’re one of the most popular warbands and used to be Tom’s main deck. Even though Magore and Riptooth are both pretty strong against Steelhearts. and flexible Fiends lists are quite good against defensive decks, it’s still primarily an aggro vs defensive match-up and that usually favors the defensive deck.
Unfortunately my luck was absolutely terrible in all 3 games, and my opponent’s excellent play meant that I was under too much pressure to recover enough to get a convincing lead – whether it was from doing-over into bad redraws or strings of unfortunate dice rolls. It was all I could do to try and hit objectives every turn while trying to stop his.
Game 1 ended up in a low-scoring 8-8 draw, with neither us able to fully execute our game-plans. Game 2 played out pretty similarly, although I was just able to pull ahead at the end by drawing into the last objective I could score to get Superior Tactician and finish 14-10.
Even with how close the last 2 games had been, going into game 3 I knew that based on how my round 1 match had been scored I would still win the match as long as I didn’t lose by more than 4. Unfortunately I made a huge misplay in turn 1 that ultimately cost me the game. After pushing Magore off the back edge hex he deployed to protect me from Hidden Paths, I had to use Great Concussion to protect me from a Spectral Wings charge from Riptooth that would score Change of Tactics. I completely forgot to try and leave enemy fighters off edge hexes, and Ghartok and Magore both ended up on them.
Ghartok Hidden Paths-ed in to attack Angharad, who had moved back into a corner earlier in the turn. He successfully hit, and between Daemonic Resilience and Ghartok’s resistance to being driven back I could neither. This completely killed my opening objective hand of Alone in the Darkness, Sigmar’s Bulwark, and Consecrated Area, giving my opponent a head start that I just couldn’t recover from. I ended up losing 4-10.
Round 4 – Steel City Relics vs The Hex-Obsessed Gamers (maybe?)
Edit: I originally had the wrong team name here, and it might still be wrong? If you were part of the team we played in round 4 let us know if we got the name right this time – Iain
Mike: Now that we were out of the running I had started drinking. So pint in hand I won the coin flip and assessed our opponents warbands. They had Fiends, Farstriders and Skaven. Desperately wanting to avoid Skaven and have a nice chill final match i picked my Farstriders into Fiends. Our opponents then chose Tom’s Reavers (omg Tom finally got picked) for their Farstrider player which left Iain and the Steelheart’s having to tango with Scritch.
Tom’s Match – Garrek’s Reavers vs The Farstriders
Tom: My final set was against Jane, a Farstriders player. This was a matchup I was far more familiar with, having spent a good deal of time playing into Mike’s deck. Game 1 Turn 1 started quietly, with the long board setup coming into play. Arnulf was popped, and I traded one damage onto Farstrider with Karsus two close out the round. Scoring 2 glory, I popped Whirlwind of Death on Karsus. Jane put Sanson On Guard with her first Activation, after which I sent Karsus into melee range of Eagle-Eye. Twist the Knife secured the kill, and a Great Strength into Ready For Action took down Sanson. After this massacre Game 1 was a wrap.
Game 2 was a short board. I offered up Arnulf and Targor pretty early and traded back a kill to get Saek inspired. After Saek had cleave he tore through the remaining Farstriders and secured me the 2-0 in my final set of games.
Mike’s Match – The Farstriders vs Magore’s Fiends
Mike: Game 1:My opponent set up short. I sat back and enjoyed the first match up that my deck was built to do well against. Fiends are (as of the time of writing) the most common warband to see at tournaments and my defensive flavour of Farstriders was built to abuse this. Still with short boards I have to work a bit and occasionally kill a khorne worshipper towards the end of the game. I edged out the win with 2 glory.
Game 2:I won boards, set them up long. Farstrider and his crew put their feet up and relaxed as the fiends failed to close the distance. I countered Hidden Paths with Rangers Advanced and collected a lot of glory. At least I had ended the tournament on a high.
Iain’s Match – Steelheart’s Champions vs Spiteclaw’s Swarm
Iain: By now I assume that anyone running the Skaven warband is running the aggressive variant. It’s a strong deck, but very reliant on Skritch so if he can be countered or killed early then it’s not too hard to close out the game favourably.
In game 1 my opponent deployed Skritch on an edge hex right at the back of his board. I debated pushing him off it with Distraction, but decided that because there were too many ways for him to recover it was better to hope on Forceful Denial as a counter and leave my pushes to try and reduce the impact when he came in. Forceful denial worked, and with Skritch now so far out of place I could happily play out the rest of the game as though I was against a hold objectives deck – albeit one with a power deck that was mostly of little use to it. I won the game 13-3.
Game 2 saw Skritch deploying further forward, although not on an edge hex initially. My opponent moved Krrk up next to Skritch then used Confusion to inspire them both and put Skritch on an edge hex for Hidden Paths. I tried Forceful Denial again, but unfortunately it performed in a statistically average way and failed this time. Skritch’s attacks disrupted my objectives, and I wasn’t able to take him out in turn 2 meaning I ended up slightly behind on glory and in a bad position.
With no objectives left able to be scored, I identified that my only out was to reach Hidden Paths in the last 3 cards of my deck and send Obryn back to kill 2 Skaven with my remaining activation and Ready for Action off A Destiny to Meet – giving me 3 glory and a chance at winning if my opponent only scored a small amount of glory. It succeeded – just – and I finished the game 11-10 and the match 2-0.
Opening the Nightvault
Tom: The quality of opponents, both in tabletop skill and attitude to the game was unquestionably the highest I have experienced. Every set was a nail-biter with highlight plays made by both sides. Whilst obviously we were gutted not to take home the trophy, we thoroughly enjoyed the day and managed to nab all the prizes bar the trophy with a 4th place finish. The ultimate victors, Jamie Giblin, Jay Clare and Michael Bax, thoroughly deserved the win with some excellent play from some very versatile decks. Congratulations to you guys! (you can read Jamie’s article here!)
Having never played any sort of game competitively before, Warhammer Underworlds has seen me meet a brand new group of people. I’ve started contributing to a blog for the first time with a top group of blokes I never would have met without the game! It’s been a brilliant year and I’d encourage everyone to get involved in local tournaments, you never know when you’ll meet the team you attend the next UKTC with!
With this likely being the last tournament with the Shadespire meta somewhat intact, we will probably end up putting away our warbands and delving into the new world of Nightvault! There hasn’t been a new warband announced that I’m not excited to play, and I can’t wait to get my grubby mitts on it all!
Stay tuned to the blog as we unravel the mysteries of Nightvault in the Steel City and beyond. To our opponents at the UKTC, we can’t wait till the next time we meet! A brilliant event ended a brilliant year of Warhammer Underworlds!
Even if we didn’t win this time…
Khorne Cares Not!
The Steel City Team
Mike – Hybrid Farstriders