Posted 16/02/2017

Martin goes to the GT – Part 5: The Main Event

When we last saw Martin, he was finishing off the last details of his army list. Since then, he’s been to the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Grand Tournament – Heat 1 and he’s written up this little review of his experience:

Martin: A few weekends ago, I finally made it to the Grand Tournament with my new Stormcast Eternals army that I have built up over the last few months, and here’s how I got on…

I had a bunch of fellow gamers staying with me for the weekend and we all turned up nice and early at Warhammer World for breakfast and coffee. With full bellies and caffeinated minds, we were ready to do battle to become The Champion!

Game one saw me face Jon, someone I know from the tournament scene and who I had played previously at a one-day 1000 point event (using my Moonclan Grot army). I won that game, and if I wanted to have a go at winning this event then I would have to win this one too.

He had a mixed Order force which revolved around having six units of Kurnoth Hunters (four bows and two scythes) and a Celestial Hurricanum all supported by a Skink Starseer and a Skink skirmish screen. He also had five tunnelling Fyreslayers with a character. Kurnoth Hunters are one of the best units in the game thanks to the immense ranged threat of their bows. Adding +1 to hit with the Hurricanum and then having a selection of potential re-rolls from the Starseer made it quite formidable.

The scenario was Blood and Glory. Jon mustered his force around a hill on his right, around one of the objectives. My plan here was to lightning strike in turn two and hope for a double turn. I would use the minimum force needed to take the three largely uncontested objectives and then go all in on the objective Jon controlled. I would have to weather a counter-attack if he got the turn but was confident I could take his objective at a push.

As it was, Jon’s Skink Starpriest was kind enough to give me 6 re-rolls on my turn two which pretty much guaranteed me the double turn and major victory at the end of turn three. We played on until turn five for fun to see if he could kill some of my army – which he did.

Game two was against Joe (who I kept calling Rob for some reason, sorry Joe!) and his sylvaneth army. He had a Gnarlroot Wargrove warscroll battalion including a Treelord Ancient, six Kurnoth Hunters with scythes, three with bows, some Spite-Revenants, some Dryads, Drycha Hamadreth, a Branchwych and a Celestial Hurricanum (which he could have as an Order Wizard as part of the battalion).

The scenario was Gift from the Heavens which I had practiced quite a bit so I was looking forward to it. My plan was to brave it out and see where the comets landed and then go all out to take them both. With this army, I prefer both on one flank or opposite corners to make the most of the flexibility of deployment. They landed in opposite corners so I split my force in two almost equal halves and went to take them.

This went well for me, as Joe used his teleport shenanigans to put his six Kurnoth Hunters with Scythes onto the spot where he gambled my comet would strike. He guessed right and threatened that area of the board, but the defending half of my army (with ten Retributors and more than half of my shooting) was able to deal with them over a couple of turns and leave that objective safe and secure. The attacking half of my army had equally good fortune and were able to take out some Dryads, Kurnoth Hunters with bows and a Treelord Ancient over two turns – helped a lot by a double turn for me.

I won the scenario and went into game three with hopes of finishing three for three on the first day. However…

In game three I faced my Warhammer nemesis (and great friend) Russ Veal (of Facehammer podcast fame). He is currently the top player in the UK and has stopped me from winning tournaments on several occasions. Most recently in the Clash of Swords event in Cardiff when we battled it out on table one in the final game for the trophy. Needless to say, he won that time, with the Warrior Brotherhood no less. This time, he was using a large Khorne army made up of Blood Warriors, Bloodreavers, Wrathmongers and Skull Reapers supported by Sayl the Faithless, 30 Bloodletters and two Warp Lightning Cannons. He also had two Bloodsecrators and an Aspiring Deathbringer.

The scenario was Take and Hold and Russ knew my army inside out, so I figured I’d have to take a chance to win. My plan was to go all in on whichever flank didn’t have the Wrathmongers in it, to take out the tough screen of troops and get into the slightly more tough centre. I also wanted to put a chunk of shooting onto the 30 Bloodletters to limit what was sure to be a fierce counter-attack by trying to get them below 20 models.

This was pretty much how it went, however, I didn’t quite get the impetus I needed from my big push on the left flank and I ended up missing out on the minor victory by about 80 victory points. I did fail a 4″ charge in the fourth turn, which surely would have won it for me, but my major mistake was choosing to fight with the wrong unit in a multiple combat earlier in the game. This allowed Russ to remove casualties to take my second unit out of the fight, slowing my momentum and keeping me in combat a turn longer where I would have otherwise pushed on. Russ, I am sure, would have had other ideas – he seems to always have something up his sleeve, which is what makes him such a top player.

Game four was against my long standing club mate and friend (and another Age of Sigmar podcast legend) Ben Curry. He had a similar army to mine except with double Protectors rather than Retributors which allowed him nine Prosecutors with Javelins.

The scenario was Three Places of Power. In one sense, I was happy to face off against another Stormcast army in this scenario as we were matched in number of Heroes. In order to make a plan, though, I had to see who would go first and therefore who may get a double turn first. Ben won the roll and I was going first. My plan here was to put down one character and a ring of defensive Liberators to lure Ben into attacking. I hoped to trade my beach head in exchange for Ben deploying his whole army, which would in turn allow me to counter-attack and pick off some of Ben’s choice units to leave us evenly matched for the end game.

As it was, Ben played an excellent positional game, setting up layers of Stormcasts making it very difficult for me to get to the units I wanted to in order to even things up. I held an objective for most of the game and pushed hard for the minor loss (and some points at least) but failed a 3″ charge in my fourth turn which meant that Ben killed my Knight-Azyros on his last turn to get the major win.

Getting the charge, or even winning turn 5’s priority roll, would have netted me a minor loss, I am sure, and so this showed me a retrospective mistake: I should never have deployed my general as the bait, since he was sure to die. Getting to re-roll that charge in the fourth turn would have made all the difference. Ben is a great opponent, and I would happily play this match up and scenario over and over again.

My final game was against Wayne, another super nice guy, who had travelled up from Portsmouth for the weekend. He had one of the coolest armies I have played against which was the Bullgor Stampede, which included a Doombull, three units of six Bullgors and a Ghorgon. He also had another Doombull, three units of Ungor and Sayl the Faithless.

The scenario here was Escalation and so my plan was to use Liberators to hold the flanking objectives while trying to keep Wayne interested in the centre. It was important to kill off Sayl early to allow me to have more control over where the fights happened, so I dropped all my shooting units in range on the first turn and managed to take him out.

Wayne went all out with a counter-attack and I learned to fear his individually named Bullgors! Their damage output is amazing and every wound through my armour killed a Paladin. In the end, I managed to stick to my plan and, through a fortunate Mystical Terrain roll (where Wayne’s unit of Bullgors became befuddled) win the scenario.

This was an excellent game to finish the weekend on and put me on three major wins and a minor loss. I had also been fortunate enough to get an honourable mention in the best painted army nominations which also netted me a minor win – putting my total for the weekend to a hefty 80 points, so when the dust settled, I was in a respectable tenth place.

So in the end, I didn’t quite win the Heat, but I did get my army painted to a noteworthy standard and managed a top ten finish which was great. I did go home with one prize though, as I took out the Most Sporting Opponent award which I was very pleased with. I learned a good deal about my army and I’m already planning some minor tweaks for my next event at the end of February.

Well, that brings me to the end of this little series. I hope you have enjoyed my posts on preparing for the Grand Tournament Heat 1. I plan to be back with a report of my build up and performance at the Sheffield Slaughter next month and if the editors are keen, maybe a new series getting a brand new army ready for Heat 2.

Thanks again and bye for now!

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