Benelux Masters: Review and Learnings of #BM12

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.

Benelux Masters Crowd

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:

René (TO), Niek (PG), Norbert (PG/HJ), Marijn (PG) [Photo from Norbert, click to see all of them!]

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!

Khador Butcher list with Daniel's Conquest

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…

My Learnings

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.

About Kriegsspiele

Kriegsspiele (wargames) talks about tabletop wargaming: Warmachine and Hordes in particular;


  1. wargolem

    How were your uhlans def 16? Using eVlad instead of LVlad? Also how were uhlans mat 9 on impact attacks

    • Indeed, I had decided to use Vlad2 instead of Vlad3 at the Benelux Masters. His feat added +3 to all of the Uhlans stats (generally speaking: to all of the feated model’s base stats), so DEF went up from 13 to 16, MAT from 6 to 9, and base ARM from 17 to 20 or even from 19 to 22 while base to base. It’s a great feat for the Uhlans, although I mostly use it on my 2×2 Eliminators (which were already boxed).

      • Also don’t forget if your cavalry charged, their charge attack is +2 to to hit (Prime MKII p.82). So with Vlad2’s feat they should be MAT11 on the charge attack :)

  2. Shockwave

    While the point you were making in 1.2 is valid. I’m not convinced what you did was a bad call. Hakaar isn’t a weapon master and is dice-5 against an un-camping butcher. Random question though, you had the Drakhun as re-enforcements for pIrusk and pButcher but he was no where to be found in the eVlad list.

    • True, I really prefer the 2x Eliminators and added A&H and Eyriss2 vs. Cryx (what has worked very effectively in Vlad2’s other game at BM12), so there’s been no room left for a Drakhun. Beyond that, I’ve to admit that I’ve been ignoring the Drakhun way too long. I just bought and started playing the Drakhun some weeks before Vlad3 came out and realised how good he really is and how nicely he fits into some of my Vlad2 lists. – I’ve been playing Vlad2 since I’ve started playing Warmachine about 15 months ago and I’m going to retire Vlad2 for some months now to completely focus on Vlad3 instead. Afterwards I want to restart my Vlad2 lists and the Drakhun is definitely a consideration, just like Yuri with Manhunters.

  3. I love your blog!

    (PP Forums are having their daily crash, so some of this is discussing your thread there):

    I’ve long said that IFP Shield-Wall is a trap. I think it’s best to mostly ignore it, and think of them as cheapo Doom Reavers with a minifeat. The exception is with Erusk (as I said in the thread) as he can give them +3″ move under shield-wall. I also think they badly need a damage buff of some kind (and are excellent targets for it). Battle Lust is great, and I think good ol’ pVlad does nicely too (more damage and a few extra crits). I can’t take them with pSorscha, though – they can’t kill anything wot needs killin’.

    Re: hubris – I hear you. That could be #1 on every lessons-learned I’ve ever got from a tournament! I also heartily agree with some setup photos. Strange how divorced from reality my memory can be after the fact…

    My boys like ’em, too. They’re 4 and 6, and painted several of my models (sadly, they take after their father in artistic talent).

    Re: Eliminators: told ya! The are AWESOME! And best right now when they’re still a bit unfamilar – their stat-line is completely misleading. They’d probably be WEAKER if they had DEF17 across the board, just because people would notice…

    Re: Conquest: you’ve convinced me at last. Damn you. My children need shoes!

    Re: Drakhun: you’re familiar with the counter-charge “OMG it doesn’t stop” slightly dodgy move? If your impact kills the counter-charge target you are obliged to continue in a straight line for the full movement (as the charge move resumes after impact, and you can only stop a charge move in range of the target (which no longer exists), or if you hit a model). So, for example, if the first member of a squad charges a nearby friend, and you’ve lined it up right, you can trample it to death, then end up right in the rest of the squad’s face. They can’t get past without free strikes, so they end up having to mob the Drakhun instead of the thing (caster?) they wanted to kill…

    Every half-dozen games or so, that move results in something HILARIOUS.

    The other great use for counter-charge (IMO) is to punch arc-nodes right in their stupid faces. Can’t be an arc-node in melee.

    Re: risking casters – I’ve had an epiphany (having lost a LOT of games where the only real loss was my caster). The problem with high ARM is charges – it’s a bonus to movement, AND an extra 3.5 (plus some terrifying outliers) on the damage. The problem with high DEF is aiming – but that comes with a movement DISadvantage, making high DEF a little more reliable, which is then mitigated by auto-hit effects…

    …but the problem with extreme-high DEF in a single target is the *value of the target*. If there are boosts available (3-dice mean even MAT-RAT6 can hit DEF18 pretty often) or debuffs out there, they will be applied. Solid defensive stats on a caster only really work if you can screen from the potential killers. It’s still good, because it reduces the field you need to screen against – it limits the potential killers – but it’s always dangerous to be explosed, and a good hard look at the threats is ALWAYS required.

    I reckon that view is going to help my game. Probably everyone else in the world already worked it out.

    Re: losing – totally agree. I rarely learn a thing by winning. I’m actually (even in tournaments) a big softy with regards to letting the other person have as much leeway as possible (though some, which I repsect a lot, refuse the offer). I like losing, perhaps a little too much! It’s just that the post-mortem is so much more interesting….

    Finally: PAINT MY MODELS! I should rummage about the blog (and will) but because I’m lazy I’ll ask – what’s the primary colour you’re using? It is Buff. My IFP cloaks look like they were vomited on by a giant baby – but that only happened to one of them.

    • Well, I don’t think the IFP’s shield wall is a trap: ARM 18 is pretty solid against lots of opposing units. And the minifeat of the standard UA is indeed great – especially because you’re getting them into shield wall with it. But what the IFP really don’t like are bad match ups: getting charged by jacks/beasts, weapon masters or shot by snipers is something the just can’t survive. – And yes, definitely, Battle Lust is great on them, although I think that MAT 8 and P&S 15 (combined) is pretty hard already. Adding BL or Butcher1’s Fury or even feat is just nice. But in my opinion the best caster for them is Irusk1: spreading the IFP spaced out under Shield wall, being tough on 4+, fearless and not going to be knockdown is really lovely.

      You’re really going to love the Conquest (after you’ve bought those shoes ;). And absolutely: The Drakhun’s counter charge isn’t that great because of the Drakhun but because of its MAT 8 P&S 14 impact attacks. I’ve really started loving him (both to be serious) with Vlad3’s tier list and I’m going to play them a lot during the coming months.

      The game I lost with the death of Butcher1 ended 30:24 (APs). My opponent had started the game so you’ve got an idea how the table looked like. Same for Irusk1’s lost game: 17:12 and my opponent started as well. – BTW: I won the start roll just once, in Vlad2’s second game. Probably this has been my best roll during the whole game…

  4. Pingback: “If Only My Dice Were on Average!” « Kriegsspiele

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