Former GW staffer and hobby fanatic Brad shares his hobby with the world. I love ska music, darts, long walks on the beach and playing with tactical war-dollies.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
A Beastman Tourney Report (Guest Post)
ConVic Report – A Tale of Beastly Slythiness (As written by my good mate Chris Cousins)
I never planned on going to ConVic. Without the promise of making Bobo wear amusing rabbit-related costumes, it wasn’t even on my radar until I bumped into Staks on Brunswick Street a week before the tournament. From ‘I’m not going’ to ‘When is it?’ to ‘I’ll talk to Dale’, I was suddenly trying to come up with a reason why I was not going. A persuasive young man, that Staks. So, I decided a couple of days before the tournament that I felt like attending. While I was offered a Daemon army to use, I considered a few other lists. I quickly realised that my High Elves list would be used by one or two others at the tournament, and I figured that I would let them ride the Star Dragon of Victory. My Dark Elves would be uninspiring, to say the least. And I kept coming back to my Beastmen... My Beastman army has had a chequered past. After crushing CanCon in 2011, they performed admirably at Book of Grudges,and nearly cost HGC the VICCs last year... and I liked the idea of bringing them out to play again. However, I had only used the army before at 2250 point tournaments, and ConVic was looking for 2400. I didn’t have enough painted. I only owned 2250 points of models. There was no time to paint anything else. Then I remembered. At the bottom of my Warhammer cupboard, hidden by a layer of shadow and dust. The most maligned unit in all of Warhammer. The Jabberslythe... It was the work of moments to write up a list, dropping the chaff units to find the points for the Jabberslythe. I couldn’t help but feel somewhat liberated. I had never planned on attending the tournament. I was using Beastmen again, with no magic. And a Jabberslythe. Clearly, I was not in it to win it, but looking forward to some fun games and epic karaoke. Then something happened. Over the course of six games, I found a new level of understanding. The Jabberslythe is actually good. Schluuurpppp....... The List Doombull – Sword of Swift Slaying, Gnarly Hide, Flying Carpet, Charmed Shield, Heavy Armour Gorebull – BSB, Armour of Destiny, Great Weapon Gorebull – Talisman of Preservation, Heavy Armour, Great Weapon 2 x 36 Ungors – Full Command 3 x 5 Ungor Raiders 2 x Tuskgor Chariot 2 x Razorgor Chariot 2 x 5 Harpies Ghorgon Jabberslythe The Gorebulls sit in the front of the Ungor blocks, soaking up damage that would otherwise be directed at squishy Ungor. This gives the unit massive ranks (to negate enemy steadfast and keep the Gorebull Stubborn), resilience (lots of attacks on t5, 4+ Ward character) and huge hitting power (5+ s7 attacks). That’s the core of the army right there, people. Clearly, the rest of the list was so filled with undercosted filth that I needed to avoid magic to make up for it. Or, I just didn’t feel that the army really needed it. It uses the diverters to take such control of the movement phase that combat buffs are rarely enough to help my opponents out, and few spells efficiently deal with the threats in the army (which are basically the Minotaur characters). The army tends to deploy its chaff, then load up one part of the battlefield with Ungor blocks and chariots. The Ghorgon and Jabberslythe tend to pick a flank and rip it apart. The Doombull often helps. Having such heavy hitters moving so quickly allows you to crush one flank while the rest of the army sits in a cloud of units in the centre. The Bloodgreeders charge up some extra attacks, and you grind through the opposition. Sadly, lots of stuff in the list dies. Leadership is low, cannons have a field day, and virtually nothing has any armour. This means that even the games you win, or are in total control of, still involve losing 500+ points of units because they’re just not very solid. This is the brittleness of the Beastman army, and while I feel that they should get a comp boost. It’s easy enough to eke out small wins, but very difficult to really punish an opponent without losing a lot of points in the process. I wasn’t unhappy with my 4 for comp, except by comparison to some of the 3s and 4s that were also there. Day One Game 1 – Tom (DoC) This scenario was blood and glory, and there was a massive tower in the middle of the table. I deployed chaff at the front, and then plonked an Ungor block and the Chariots down on the right flank, opposite the Bloodletter horde. On the right, I put the Ghorgon and Jabberslythe with the second Ungor block. I was able to use the building to split up the Daemon army and isolate the Bloodletters. While their initial charge saw some poor dice from Tom, my followup took off 20 bloodletters and popped the rest. On the other flank, the Ghorgon and Jabberslythe were having fun Thunderstomping the Horrors and Flesh Hounds. After killing off the infantry, I tried to deal with the Bloodcrushers and Great Unclean One. I sent a block of Ungor with the BSB into the GUO, who had the Miasma spell on. This meant that I foolishly declined to challenge with the BSB who could have soaked up wounds on his ward save. The GUP jumped up and down, and the -2LD banner saw the Ungor unit and BSB flee. Which broke me. And mean I had no static combat res to stick into the GUO. And meant I couldn’t break Tom. So, you know, up to 2200 points of punishment for my stupidity. Still, I managed to draw out the Bloodcrushers with Herald and take them out in turn 6 to claw back to a 13-7 win. Jabberslythe helped kill 20 Horrors with Herald and diverted the GUO for a turn. Survived. Game 2 – James (O&G) The Watchtower – poster child for why scenarios suck in tournaments. But that’s a rant for another time. I lost this game because of one dice roll – a failed, re-rollable frenzy test, followed by successfull making the charge distance. My BSB’s unit ran headlong into a Savage Orc Big Un unit, and did not survive this. That’s not to say that I would have won without this happening. James had a solid list, and used it very well, particularly the wolf riding Big Bosses. But that charge pulled me out of position, broke up my battle line, and let him take me apart piecemeal. If I had passed that test, James could well have found another way to achieve similar results, and he capitalised on some of my silly mistakes (letting the Trolls flank the Doombull). But I think it is interesting to make that distinction – while I lost because of that one dice roll, passing the test would not guarantee victory. The game would have been very different, and it would have been another dice roll that would have won or lost the game. Anyway, the rest of the game saw me madly scrambling for points. The Ghorgon, Doombull and Jabberslythe decided to take revenge on the Greenskin centre after their infantry crushed mine. They tag-teamed the Black Orcs and General, and the Night Goblins and Arachnarok that James sent in to help fled and were summarily dealt with. The Jabberslythe went off to kill the Doomdiver, and the Doombull tried to regain some pride by killing the two trolls that had broken him earlier in the game and were now happily munching on carrots or something in the Wacthtower. Needless to say, he failed. Then got a large stikka inserted into his rear as the Savage Orcs with Lvl 4 went in. The Ghorgon went down as well, leaving the Jabberslythe a chance to play hero. He flanked the Savage Orcs, killed 5 or so, and won combat. James had a steadfast test on an 8 to make, and if he failed this, and the Slythe managed to shift the 2 Trolls out of the building, I would have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Sadly, James passed, reformed and killed the Jabberer, but it was a close thing indeed. A cracking game that swung back and forth, with crazy dice and epic combats. Top notch warhammer. 4-16 loss. Jabberslythe helped kill 18 Black Orcs, ran down 35 Night Goblins and a Doom Diver and had a chance to break and kill the Savage Orcs with Lvl 4. Died. Game 3 – Justin (Ogres) Dawn Attack often screws someone up – this time it was Justin. His Gutstar deployed on one flank, the Bulls with Firebelly on the other. As a result, I was able to send in the Doombull to deal with the Bulls and get some easy points. Back in the centre though, things were a little trickier. The Stonehorn, Ironblaster and Mournfangs were buying time for the Gutstar to rock up and smash me, while I was trying to get some diverters round the flank to hold them up. There were a couple of mistakes on Justin’s behalf that allowed my Ungor blocks to charge the Stonehorn and flank the Mournfangs, and while the Ghorgon ate a cannonball, I was comfortably ahead on points at this stage. However, the Gutstar was about to appear on the scene, and the overruns forced by frenzy had my line units in a precarious position. The Jabberslythe had screamed a couple of wounds off the Ironblaster, and went into the rear to try and get the points back. This mean that the Gutstar could charge him, but would do so in such a way that I would be able to threaten multiple charges with the Ungor blocks. The last couple of turns saw me block up the Gutstar with diverters until the Doombull could get back into action. I sent both Ungor blocks and the Doombull into the front, flank and rear of the Gutstar, and after 4 rounds of combat, the Doombull, Slaughtermaster and BSB were dead, with a single Irongut fleeing the combat. I was again able to get ahead on points, but lost a lot in the process. 14-6 win. Jabberslythe killed the Ironblaster and helped cramp the Gutstar’s movement for a crucial turn of delay and board position. Died. Interlude The Saturday evening hit, and after the sacred tradition of Halo and pizza at Greg’s (with the amazing Coke fridge), most of the NSW contingent, along with Hoen, Leopold, Nasher and myself went to the dreaded K-Box. Some truly masterful karaoke followed, with the always amazing Total Eclipse of the Heart supported by tracks like My Heart Will Go On, Paradise City and a truly brutal Hallowed Be Thy Name. With out voices destroyed for the next day, I got home around 3:30am. Excellent preparation... Day Two
Game 4 – Julian (Empire) When we arrived at the venue on day 2, Mouse said 5 words to me on entering the building: “We destroyed Julian last night”. For those unfamiliar with Beerball, let me just say this. ‘Destroyed’ is far too kind a term for what happens. So Julian and I played Battle for the Pass. His Empire set up in the middle of the deployment zone, around a hill. I set up opposite, and charged. The cannon eventually shot off a Razorgor chariot while the monsters hid behind a tree until the harpies were able to start tying up the war machines. The Ghorgon got into the flank of the Flagellants and jumped up and down on them for a while, and the Ungor blocks were able to crash through the Swordsmen and assorted detachments and War Altar, while the Doombull and Jabberslythe hopped over the intervening battle line to take out the Spearmen with lord-level mage. As neither of us felt up to much, we sat on the same side of the table and most of the game happened within an easy arms reach. A relaxed and dazed 18-2 win. Jabberslythe helped kill 20 Spearmen and Wizard Lord. Lived. Game 5 – Steve (Skaven) The double abomination list. With the same comp as me. I whad a bad feeling about this, particularly as Steve had towelled me up in the last round of CanCon. Meeting engagement decided to screw with me, as all but 19 models started off the table. I set up defensively, kept chariots on the lookout for Gutter Runners, and waited for the rest to show up. Steve sent his Abombs wide, and I used chaff and a couple of buildings to keep them out of the game for as long as possible while I rushed my blocks and monsters at his. After crunching a unit of gutter runners, a Razorgor chariot played bait for a unti of Stormvermin who came within range of the Jabberslythe and Doombull. For the third time this tournament, those two got down and dirty with a block on infantry, and cut them down in short order. Meanwhile I was able to get a unit of Ungor and a chariot into the flank of the clanrat unit with both Warlords (yeah, the comp score was actually fine – Steve had a very soft and themed list outside of the Abombs). While I broke them, they fled across the table and rallied on the board edge. Ahead on points, I spent the rest of the game trying to consolidate my lead. I managed to break the Rat Ogres but they fled over to where the Warlords where sitting, bouncing through the same couple of buildings to escape my army. However, they panicked off the slave unit with Engineer, and failed to rally, which helped stretch my lead to 14-6. While the leadership in the last round was lucky, so was the escape of the Warlords and Clanrat unit early on in the game, and I feel that the dice ended up averaging out, as they are wont to do. Jabberslythe helped kill a unit of Stormvermin and a Rat Ogre unit. Lived. Game 6 – Mark/Nick (Wood Elves) This was not the Wood Elf list with two Treemen. It was the Wood Elf list with three Treemen! This was a torrid matchup – the shooting kills my chaff quickly, I have only the Doombull capable of taking down the big forest spirit units, and he only has 5 wounds before he dies. It didn’t help that Mark got the first turn and killed a unit of Ungors, panicking off a chariot. I felt that after Mark’s turn two, I had all but lost. So, in my turn two, it was BALLS TO THE WALL TIME! Everything barrelled forward, I declared something like 8 charges in into everything from the Treekin to Mage Bunkers. I was very lucky in the first rounds of combat, breaking the Treekin and the Doombull killed a Treeman. The Doombull also survived a huge amount of shooting, several misfiring strangleroots helping the cause. While I was still bleeding points, things looked good until the rallied Treekin broke the Ungor block and swung 800 points back to Mark. The last couple of turns saw the Doombull (my only relevant combat unit left) chasing the Treekin to grab some final points. The WE were able to dance around and make it very difficult to pin them down, and I tried to use movement to compress them as much as possible, but Mark was able to move out of it. While the first couple of turns saw me in a terrible position, some labyrinthine charges and redirections helped me get some points and take control of the game, aided by good dice rolls. If I had backed off and disengaged, I would have lost a lot of points, and I feel that as long as you are able to take victory points off your opponent, it is much better to try and put yourself in a position to win the game if possible. While it didn’t pay off against James in round 2, this time the dice gave me the helping hand I needed for the Doombull to take me to a 13-7 win. Jabberslythe declared the charge that was needed to send the Lvl 4 and unit into the path of the Harpies, and helped bring the dryads forward to where the Ungor blocks could get them. Died. Conclusion In the end, I finished with 76 battle points, which was good enough for 7th place. The tournament was a blast, and I am amazed that I had ever planned on not attending. The TO, Dale, did a great job, the venue was pleasant as always, the bar well stocked, and my opponents all gentlemen and scholars. The judgement of the Sexiest General arbiters should perhaps be questioned, however. I found the army great fun, as expected, but also surprisingly competitive. Only 5 of my points came from comp, and I had ways to answer even the more unfair things, like 3 Treemen or 2 Hellpit Abominations. While the army naturally bleeds points, it hits hard enough and exerts enough control over the movement phase that you are often able to command small wins, 300-800 or so points. However, the army doesn’t possess the raw power needed to get the big wins easily. Magic was once again unnecessary. With so many threats, and so much control over movement, you are able to minimise the damage that enemy mages can do. While there were times that magic caused headaches this tournament, it was always containable, and I never regretted running the Jabberslythe over, say, a Lvl 3 mage with Lore of Shadow. The Jabberslythe himself became something of a mascot this weekend. Despite him being taken as a joke addition to an army that was first assembled as something of a joke, he earned his place in the army. While the infantry based Herdstone Beastman lists wouldn’t appreciate what he adds, he’s perfect here. Being fast and manoeuvrable enough to team up with the Ghorgon or Doombull, or able to get into the flanks, gives him loads of chances to start jumping on infantry. Plus, it’s more fast-moving threats that can get to enemy shooting. Models licked to death – Black Orc who was licked to the flank, and Packmaster who took a tongue to the rear. The army works by isolating one enemy unit at a time and slamming more stuff into it than it can handle, before using some diverters to buy time to set the same thing up again. But importantly, the army works, and you don’t need to fall back on overpowered magic phases, gunlines or deathstars to win with 8th edition. You need an army with a clear plan of attack, you need practice with it, and you need to be able to switch gears to be more offensive or defensive when the situation calls for it. I defended for the last 3 turns of the game against the Skaven, as I was ahead and didn’t have real opportunities to do much more than lose victory points against the Abombs that were threatening to get behind me. On the other hand, a cautious advance turned into a headlong rush against the Wood Elves. The sheer speed and hitting power of the army allowed me to pick my fights, and prevent my opponents from doing much about it. You have to think a couple of turns ahead even with units like the raiders – I often deploy them behind the lines, moving them out to delay enemy units that threaten the flanks of the blocks, but when they need to redeploy, sometimes, they need to start moving two turns before they’re needed. 8th edition gives us so much to think about in every single game, and this sort of army, with a variety of units, gives you the tools to deal with most of the situations the game can throw at you. A criminally underrated unit like the Jabberslythe can shine in the right list, so don’t discount a unit, item or army until you’ve tried it out for yourself. And as Mr Jabber would say himself... Schluuurrrppp!