I really enjoyed the Benelux Masters 2012: It was a great tournament and weekend in general! I had lots of very interesting games with very nice people before and during the tournament. I met lots of those – previously – purely virtual gamers from the forums and Twitter face to face and had a great time with them. The only drawback: deprivation of sleep hurts badly.
Thanks to everyone involved in organising the Benelux Masters: GameForce and its whole crew for providing a nice space, food, drinks, and a smile. René (TO), Niek (PG), Norbert (PG/HJ), and Marijn (PG) for their straightforward, helpful, always friendly but emphatic if necessary communication and organisation before and during the event:
Norbert and his Press Ganger crew did an awesome job: I loved that they changed the terrain and worked throughout Friday night to give us linear obstacles, trenches, and playable woods (without glued trees), rough terrain, hills. Some complained about it and wanted to play with all the beautiful terrain available at GameForce, but in my opinion form follows function, so it’s been the right decision. We’re playing Warmachine & Hordes, not Warhammer Fantasy or 40K, aren’t we? The tables were prepared very professionally with 6-8 terrain pieces around the midline (about 10” in both directions): 2 linear obstacles, 1-2 trenches (2 templates each), the rest randomly.
Thanks to all my counterparts for very interesting, nice, relaxed, and sportive games: It’s been a pleasure to play with all of you! – And special thanks to Daniel for lending me his Conquest while I’m still waiting for my Conquest’s left shoulder and main cannon: Privateer Press, you really need to fix your quality controls and speed up your delivery if things go wrong!
To summarise: If you’re thinking about going to the next Benelux Masters, I can only highly recommend it and encourage you to do so. Meet nice people from Belgium, England, Germany, and the Netherlands (perhaps even Luxembourg next year?) and learn a lot about playing Warmachine and Hordes on a highly competitive level…
1. Don’t fall into hubris! It’s a common mistake and I thought I’m beyond it. But well, I’m not. I definitely lost 2 of my games (starting with the very first one) from a strong and pretty good position by taking too high risks. If you’re in the stronger position, stay calm and finish the game in the next or even the following turn. There’s absolutely no need to fall into hubris and try to do it this turn (at least if the time isn’t running out). Take high risks if there’s no other way left, stay cool otherwise. Period. – Examples? Here you are:
1.1. Charging Conquest out of the scoring zone without a need is just a bad decision: I still had 6 Kayazy and the Underboss plus a Pikeman in it. But with the Conquest in the zone it would have been contested securely. Ashes to Ashes with a 5 and some luck with shootings at Iron Fleshed Kayazy, a missed tough roll … and you lose a whole game. It simply isn’t worth it.
1.2. Risk a caster kill for an attrition charge? Even if highly effective? It was just another bad decision: Butcher1 moved up, put Fury on the Assassins, Iron Flesh on himself, feated. Gorman put his cloud in front of Butcher. The Underboss minifeated, the Kayazy charged. The Bronzeback was boxed, Molik Karn was boxed. The scoring zone was contested. Great! And Hakaar the Destroyer was in melee with a Kayazy. – But well, that was still not enough to take Hakaar down while just moving out of melee, risking a free strike. Fury plus the free strike bonus didn’t equal the necessary 100% security in this situation. Zaal took down Iron Flesh thanks to Ghost Sight and feated. Hakaar assassinated Butcher. Another lost game from a very, very strong position. Was it worth it? No. One more Assassin in front of Butcher and this wouldn’t have happened and the Bronzeback would still have been close to boxed.
2. Have valid answers for all scenarios! The only aspect you can rely on while preparing your lists and general strategies are the scenario rules. At least if you’re playing a SR tournament some of them will occur: randomly but securely. And there are some scenarios that might be bad ones for your faction, your lists, or just in general. Like Destruction.
I found myself in a game vs. a shooty Grim list: Grim who got the first turn. None of my lists had an effective answer to this scenario played vs. a good shooty list. And more important: I didn’t have a general answer for this situation for any given list. The game ended pretty quickly. Round 1: Grim’s army ran up, mine ran up. Round 2: Grim shot objective #1, feated, I tried to avoid line of sight to objective #2. Round 3: Grim shot objective #2. Game over. Pretty boring for everyone. My fault.
My goal for SR 2013: to play-test each and every scenario consistently and find the bad match ups (or general scenarios) and answers to all of them. – Hint: that’s a lot less “work” than play-testing factions with all their casters and unit combinations…
3. “My dice are on fire!” Well, and then there are games where you’re hardly learning anything. At least: nothing about the game but probably something about yourself. Losing a game is the best thing that can happen to you. Every lost game teaches you something – at least: it should. You’ll be prepared next time. On the other hand: winning a game is nice, but mostly doesn’t teach you as much – if at all. So, losing is great! But well, a game where your opponent starts excusing himself for his dice being on fire (and even changes his dice in round 3 – what didn’t help ;) is really annoying. Want an example?
After some really bad turns and after losing lots of models at chances below 40%, while not boxing anything on the other side at chances over 60%, Vlad2 feated on 4 Uhlans and a Pikeman: One Uhlan could only charge 1 Ancestral Guardian in front of the scenario’s scoring zone, the others had to take down 1 Ancestral Guardian within the scoring zone, and 5 Immortals in front and within the zone to gain one control point. A great job for the Uhlans! The idea was to get that one control point and bunker in my zone with the rest of the crew.
The Uhlans charged under feat and with Hand of Fate: That the Guardian would hit the DEF 16 Uhlan with his Defensive Strike was expectable. But that he would box an ARM 20, 5 boxes Uhlan? Not really. But what about the Guardian within the zone? Well, the 2nd Uhlan got boxed as well. Pow wow! Anyway, one chance left! But the 3rd Uhlan had to charge through one Immortal, so the impact attack had to be successful. Guess what? It didn’t happen. At MAT 9 it missed. The other Uhlan and the Pikeman killed 3 or 4 of the Immortals and all 3 died next turn being still under feat.
Learning: Keep going. Don’t give up the match. Laugh about the situation and forget about it as soon as possible. The good thing about it: This happens very, very rarely…
4. Oh, and take some photos! If you really want to learn something and be able to reflect your tournament games: take a picture of the deployments and terrain! Not necessarily of all your turns but of your opponents lists and the starting positions at least. Hopefully, Norbert will post all of the lists later on? (You’ll find mine here.)
So what have I learned? I’ve learned that I’m able to laugh about a really unlikely situation and keep going without complaining. Nice. I need effective answers for all scenarios – especially those quite well known problematic ones – and will work on this. I’ve (hopefully and finally) learned that hubris is a really bad consultant – even while just playing a game for fun.