I had the fortune to be able to attend DEFCON 1, a 3-day series of tournaments across multiple game systems. Today was Warmachine/Hordes day and there were two events being run – a 50pt Highlander event (for the pro’s) and a 25pt SR2013 event (for the not so pro’s). Both formats were causally focused, but the prize pool was anything but! Highlander was giving out $150 or CoC Battle box, CoC book, 3x Vector kits, Aurora and a unit of Angels – and that was just for first place!

While I am an “experienced” player, I have not played in many tournaments of late (2 in 18 months) so I thought I’d go to the supposedly easier of the two events, the 25pt SR2013. Prizes for this would be a blister for non-winners, and a small-box for the winner. So even if I had a great time and did not place, I’d still walk away with a $10-15 prize – or about the same as the entry fee.

I took the following lists:

Vayl, Disciple of Everblight
– Typhon
– Scythean
Blighted Nyss Legionnaires (max)
Spawning Vessel (min)
Strider Deathstalker

Thagrosh, Messiah of Everblight
– 2x Scythean
– 4x Shredder
2x Blighted Nyss Shepherd

Thagrosh was a list I knew how to play, but I didn’t think it was very good for scenario play – low model count makes it hard to contest multiple zones.
Vayl was the list I was looking forward to playing, having just painted up the Legionnaires and Spawning Vessel, but I was worried that even with relaxed timings (10mins per turn) I’d have trouble doing everything I needed to do. I never had to use my extension though, so that is a positive sign even though I went to the wire on some turns.

Round 1 – Vayl1 vs Makeda1 (Michael) – 1/0
Legion vs SkorneI was a little worried about this list. I play Skorne a bit, and I have a good mate who beats me with them a lot of the time, so I knew what was coming. I split up my Legionnaires to tie up the Nihilators for a bit and get in the way of Molik and the Gladiator.

Not a lot to say about this battle (mainly because I forgot it all), but with Makeda on 0 Fury, I knew I had to go for the assassination and so Vayl advanced rather forward to catch both Makeda and the Gladiator in Incite. Rampaging the Gladiator out there meant that Typhon could charge and a double spray later Makeda was toast.

Highlight – Casting Excessive Healing on Typhon because I was going to Rile for two anyway – only for it to save his bacon when the Gladiator walked into him.

Mistake – I still have a tendancy to charge without thinking. Typhon should have walked instead of charging and then he would have had 3 sprays to assassinate with – not just two.

Round 2 – Vayl1 vs Vindictus (Peter) – 2/0
Vayl1 vs Vindictus It appears I fear all lists. This list had a LOT of infantry. I’ve never faced Vindictus before so I knew I was going to be surprised by something. I HAD played against Zealots and Errants though, so I knew the former were going to be near impossible to shift out of a zone once they got there. The latter were just going to be a pain in my butt until I could kill them.

This game was a grind. Legionnaires under Defensive Line blocked the Zealots long enough for Typhon and the Scythean to destroy the Errants and take the left-most zone for Vayl to dominate it. With both the mini-feat and Vindictus’ feat occurring the Legionnaires spent a lot of time standing around not hitting things.

With 5mins to go on the clock, I won on scenario 6 to 4.

Highlight – Vayl camping behind the mining building and then feating to bring both Typhon and the Scythean back from the left zone to near contesting the right zone.

Mistake – I either put the Vessel up too far (so it could be shot by the Reckoner) or too far to the right (so I failed to get the souls from my own Legionnaires on the left). I”m still learning this unit.

Round 3 – Vayl1 vs Feora2 (Brett) – 3/0
Vayl vs FeoraI played against Brett, playing this list against Feora on the previous Tuesday, so I knew it was going to hurt. I was almost going to play Thagrosh2 for some variation, but I really though that Vayl was the stronger list and one I wanted more practice with.

I must have had a big lunch as my brain went to sleep for this game. TWICE I forgot to dominate the objective into the zone and I even hung Vayl out too far to achieve it. Brett was playing a little paranoid, and when I over-ran my Deathstalker on turn one he engaged her with over half the Temple Flameguard and CMA’d her. That left them nicely out on one flank with nothing much else to do except earn control points (I kept forgetting to contest the zone).

In the end, Feora put both Typhon and Vayl on fire, charged Scythean, casting Convection on Vayl for 6,6,5 on the damage (1 transfer remaining to my only target Typhon) and then failing to kill the Scythean with her remaining focus. To be fair to Brett, he’d put focus on his Castigator that he didn’t need to use and that would have made the difference. He totally out played me, but didn’t come out with the win. On the following turn I got both Chiller and Incite in range of Feora and the Scythean did it’s thing. If I’d failed, well it would have been a race to see if the fire killed me before Brett earned 5 CPs.

Highlight – Transferring fire damage. That, and having Excessive Healing, saved me.

Mistake – Putting 9 Legionnaires within 2″ of the Castigator for a mis-guided attempt at a CMA. He combusted and took out 7 of them for only 3 souls being fed into the Spawning Vessel. I need to remember to trickle them out.

Round 4 – Vayl1 vs Rhyas (Scott) – 3/1
Vayl1 vs Rhyas
Holy jam Batman! Turn one saw the Swordsmen at SPD 9, running 18 inches to jam me up in my deployment zone – under a Kill Box scenario none-the-less!

Still, I knew the Angelii were his assassination trick, so I played the long game and got Vayl just out of the Kill Box and started whittling things down. Making sure there was enough around me that he could’t land an Angelius within 2″. Still, with Scott on 4 CPs I had to do something. I used the Legionnaires as screens to protect my heavies from charges from the Angelii and counter-punched to remove both of his beasts without buying attacks. Gosh I love Incite!

All I had to do was contest zones to deny Scott any more CPs and I could weather Rhyas and the BFS and come away with the win. Smartly, I used Cat and Mouse to move my jammed forces up into the zones but not so smartly I moved too many Legionnaires on the right (where nothing could really clear them) but only a single Legionnaire moved into the left zone. I’d mis-counted the handful of models he had left and was not able to move Typhon (I was trying to protect him for some reason from charges from the BFS).

Scott did the smart move and ran Rhyas to dominate the left flag and then charged (under feat for good measure) with the BFS into my lone Legionnaire for the win. To say I was annoyed with myself was an understatement.

Highlight – Using Dark Sentinel to move the Scythean away from the Angelius to deny the charge.

Mistake – I think it’s pretty obvious what my mistake was.

In the end I walked away with a Destor Thane for my faction ADHD and a great day. I’m starting to think a lot more when I play, and the addition of the Legionnaires has helped immensely, giving me options for blocking, Chiller and vengeance.

It was a fantastic day, with the two tournaments intermingling and a buzz in the air. Thanks to all my opponents for some great games and I hope I was a good opponent myself. I hope every “noob” that played in the event now realises what a great experience tournaments can be and signs up for more tournaments later on.


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