Tales from the Scrub Tier
by Dane Leitch · Published · Updated
Every year I count down the days until GenCon, excited for the adventures waiting to be experienced. Ten consecutive years have taught me that no two people go to the same convention. With more than 17,000 events to choose from, your adventure is entirely unique from everyone else’s. Over the next few days my posts will share some of what I did between Wednesday at 1pm and Sunday at noon of GenCon 2018. Is it August 1st yet?
As you have found your way to Midwest Wargaming it would be appropriate to begin with my GenCon wargaming, more specifically Tales from the Scrub Tier!…Tier…Tier…Tier…Tier.
In case you have not had the pleasure of beating me at GenCon, allow me a moment’s introduction. I am one of the last remaining fully monogamous, faction complete Warmachine/Hordes players in existence. Aside from a brief and uneventful foray into Trollbloods, I have spent 8 uninterrupted years playing Protectorate of Menoth exclusively. We are kind of a thing. Facebook official. Through highs and lows, sickness and health, and persistent upper echelon of scrub tier status, here I am. Not letting a lack of competitive aptitude stop me, I entered the GenCon Masters Tournament to fight and claw my way to my goal of two wins. Here is how my Thursday went.
First onto the field, I nervously awaited the bracket filling up. Being a local, many of the faces were familiar, but with thirtyish players I doubted we would meet in battle. On my tray were Reznik2 in Faithful Masses and High Reclaimer1 in Exemplar Interdiction. It can safely be said that there was no significant planning for an assumed meta taking place. I brought what I liked.
Game one I was presented with Madrak1 Band of Heroes in a pairing with something else. If there is anything I know about Hordes it is that they do not like to see Lamentation on a beefy caster. Meanwhile, the High Reclaimer1 does not like to see an entire army with RFP. High Reclaimer1 could not play with that threat and Reznik2 presented a big threat, so Reznik2 it is. The short version is as follows: With the support of the Champions of the Order of the Wall, the Fennblades on either flank could not outmaneuver two full units of Idrians. Meanwhile a few turns of AOE 5” POW 20 (Blast 15) pie plates on the bunched up Champs’ heads meant bad news for them. Reznik2’s feat helped finish off Skaldi and the beerskateers leaving Madrak1 in the mega-danger zone. Scourge and a Crusader clubbed a Mauler, while the other Crusader danced with the Bomber. Poor rolls happened, but by this point the dice didn’t matter. Although I was 2 minutes from clocking myself and it took all of Reznik2’s focus (don’t worry a crusader was nearby for back up if needed), the Verdict was guilty and penalty death for the Trollblood Chieftain.
Game two presented an opportunity to try out my new Cinerator Officer and Shrine of Menoth as the armor cracking power of Weapon Masters and boostable guns with true sight and sprays felt right into my Retribution opponent. Scrub Tip: List chicken doesn’t faze you when you don’t know what your opponent’s armies do! The Retribution sent out Elara2 Defenders of Ios. Although I am not positive that was my opponent’s army it quickly did not matter. Over the course of the game a convenient forest with a High Reclaimer1 smoke screen on one flank kept my Cinerators and Knights from being charged. Meanwhile the Halberdiers on the other flank were unable to survive boostable shots from the Shrine and also kill enough Errants to keep me from recurring them with the Shrine. By the time I won on scenario, SEVENTEEN models including five Cinerators had been brought back with my various forms of recursion and Ret was left with almost nothing. This was one of the few Warmachine games I have played where I truly felt as though I was in control from the very beginning. That feeling soon passed with the next and final round.
Game three I looked at my opponent’s two Legion of Everblight lists, quickly looked up a few things here and there, closed my eyes and twirled my army list around before landing on High Reclaimer1. Actually, I felt that infantry in the Faithful Masses list would flee from the field if stuck facing the Blightbringer list and the Weapon Masters would be the best way to counter an armor bubble. Kallus1 Primal Terrors was indeed the list I faced and my lack of experience (I play maybe one game every other week) shone brightly. My plan was to have Errants supported by the Shrine delay the left flank long enough for my Cinerators and two units of Knights to overrun the right flank. He sent almost everything into the Errants and Golab the Hate Chicken gobbled up all my Errants. I was soundly dispatched by scenario and despite a surprise ghostly Judicator getting closer than he thought it could his position was never significantly threatened.
Lessons from these Tales from the Scrub Tier!…Tier…Tier…Tier…Tier.
“Play more” might sound about as useful as “roll better,” but it is the primary gap between the skilled and struggling. The games I am most comfortable playing are those I have played. With a small meta of Trollbloods, Cygnar, and Khador as regular opponents my experience is limited to those factions. The true lesson is to mostly ignore the big scary “meta” and just play what you are comfortable playing. Keep your eyes open for models in an opponent’s army that can screw over your schtick (like Golab the Hate Chicken) or try to kill them early. Last, keep your head. If you are playing a few games a month or every other month sweeping the field with ease is just not going to happen in this game. Set realistic goals and when you can reach them, set your sights higher. I am two years in a row of two wins at GenCon Masters. Next year I’ll see if the Scrub Tier can make it to day two!