On Saturday I headed down to the local games store for my last event of the year, the perennial Christmas Carnage. Being on home ground, as it were, it was good to have some extra club representation. Not only was Steve Evans playing his Empire of Dust, but another club mate made his debut tournament performance with his Orcs.
The venue was Bristol Independent Gaming, which moved to new premises in September this year. Whilst packed lunches were the order of the day the venue is a definite improvement on the previous warehouse which was a tad on the cold side (the dress code at this time of year used to be hot water bottles and thermals).
For a full event experience, I decided to go sans packed lunch to see what could be scavenged and ended up with a Beef and Tomato Pot Noddle for lunch, an oddly nice blast from the past. Fortunately, there seemed to be a near never ending supply of mince pies on hand which more than made up for the foamy noodle experience.
As expected, the event was well organised by Matt James, who was sadly absent from the event, which meant Nick Oftime stepped into the TO shoes and did a damn good job. Hats off to you both.
Because it’s crimbo time there were presents in abundance. The marvellous Moonrakers were in attendance with Andy’s massive display board and a box of treats for every player, rivalled only by those provided by Matt. I was massively excited to receive what can only be described as a popular best seller that no home should be without, and a book about Warhammer. I’m hoping no-one will be offended if I regift. Can’t wait to see my wife’s face on Christmas morning. Priceless.
Order of the day
The programme for the day was… eerm… ambitious. Four 2,300 point games, 50 mins each side (a ten minute reduction on the time allowed for Clash of Kings games). Wow. It definitely impacted my army choice. I had been thinking about playing Basilieans, but they’re still a relatively new army for me and completely different to my rats. After a few practice games it became painfully apparent that if I wanted to get further than turn three, in any of my games, I would need to use something a bit more familiar, so the rat wheels were dusted off.
The list I settled on was pretty much my Clash of Kings (the event) list with a couple of swaps. After Clash I had a bit of a reflection on the games and what other rat players had taken. The main issues seemed to be an over reliance on a Warlock with Boomstick to deal with fast movers like flying titans and werewolves, as well as a general feeling I didn’t have enough units on the table (particularly to deal with Loot Counter scenarios). I felt my suspicions were confirmed when I had a look at the other rat armies in attendance to find that, at 14 units, I had the lowest unit count. So, the Warlock went, as did the Master Scurrier, and a Brute Enforcer, Vermintide Regiment and Hackpaw Troop were added in their place, leaving the list looking like this:
Warchief mounted on a fleabag with Blade of Slashing
Brute Enforcer with Mace of Crushing
Warrior Horde with Plague Pot
Shock Troops Horde with Plague Pot and Brew of Sharpness
Hackpaw Regiments (2)
Tunnel Runner Regiment with Potion of the Caterpillar
Weapons Teams (2)
Vermintide Regiments (2)
Mutant Rat Fiend
Game 1, Control, Ratkin – loss
This is my first ever time playing against Ratkin, and what a way to start. The army was very different to mine, including the new shooting formation and no less than 4 infantry hordes (also no more, so basically exactly 4 infantry hordes). It was undoubtedly a hard slog that gave me a really useful insight into how annoying Broodmothers are. It was a real nail biter down to the final whistle where a turn 7 may well have swung the result, but didn’t get rolled. All in all, it was massively enjoyable and a great start to the day.
Game 2, Push, Nightstalkers – loss
Nightstalkers is another army I haven’t played against that much and it was absolutely rammed full of fliers. An early failure by my Hackpaw Troop to injure one of the flying units resulted in a Void Lurker and a Soulflayer Regiment finding their way behind my army and pulling it all apart. It didn’t help that the army was powered by one of the mighty Moonrakers which basically meant it became a bit of a masterclass in rat removal. Lots of lessons learnt, and each one painful!
Game 3, Pillage, Imperial Dwarfs – loss
Mistakes and bad dice followed me into this game from the last. In my second turn I mistakenly opened up a flank on a Hackpaw Regiment to a Brock Rider Troop (although to be fair the Brocks took about three turns to kill them which was the one respite in this game). My Warrior Horde then got taken down a turn earlier than expected thanks to a roll of double nine on the nerve test which opened up lots of flanks for Dwarf Regiments to get stuck into. Then to top it all off Scud failed to deal with a Dwarf Lord on a Beast before the Lord dealt with him in 2 turns. Basically, another tough game, which I have to admit, following the previous game, didn’t exactly have me jumping with joy.
Game 4, Dominate, Orcs – win
With everything going south for the rats I sort of knew that this match up was on the cards, and it wasn’t one I was looking forward too. The army belongs to friend from my local club, and I’ve found it a really tough list to pull apart. Losing to this list with my Basileans was what convinced me to go with my rats.
The game was really close, with some great Ork movement shenanigans that prevented my Shock Troops from doing as much damage as they usually would and meant that the Orcs probably would have taken the win if they didn’t time out. I’m never a fan of winning on a time out, but I guess it is as much a component of competitive play as scenarios and list building. It did mean though that I finished the day as it started, a closely fought game. My favourite kind.
I came away with quite a few final thoughts, mainly around tournament prep. My first thought was just how differently my army behaved with the changes I made. Having the extra unit count definitely felt better, although half the time I had no idea what to do with the Brute and the additional Vermintide Troop. It was something of an odd experience to have them wandering around the board not really doing very much. It almost felt like some sort of practice might have been useful.
Connected to this was the issue that I hadn’t played with my rats since Clash of Kings. I don’t think this in itself was a problem, but because I’d been playing with Basileans I wasn’t as close to the army as I should have been. There were a couple of times I overlooked my shooting, amongst other things, which might have had an impact.
All in all, it was good to see so many faces, which in my second proper year of Kings of Warring, I’m happy to say are now becoming familiar and friendly. My fingers are crossed for lots more events in 2022 (I’m already booked into a doubles in January with Steve and have something lined up for February).
Thanks to the extension of the season, it means that I have managed to complete my Moonraker’s bingo card, playing and loosing to all four. So, a big thanks to everyone involved in making that ambition a reality.
And finally, a big thanks to Matt and Nick, and all the people I got to play Simon, Leo, Dan and Ken (I really did enjoy the day although, I might have been a little bit grumpy during games two and three). Now I’m off to fiddle with some new rat lists.
Merry Christmas everybody.