DOGC has first player qualify for Masters!!!

This past weekend at TempleCon, in Warwick, RI our own Anthony Ferraiolo completed an incredible run to be the first Dark Omen member to qualify as a Masters player. He put together his Battle Reports for the Standard Issue Tournament on Saturday where he qualified…

As I reflect on qualifying for my first Masters this past weekend at TemleCon, the largest Warmachine event in the world, I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t start by thanking my teammates and friends. Without the constant encouragement, practice, and support I would not have been able to accomplish this. TempleCon, one year ago, was my first ever Con. After my friends and I played against the best in the world we decided, despite only having about a year in the game, that we wanted to form our own Warmachine clique to compete at a high level; like so many other great metas around the world. So we did, and one year later, to the day, we were celebrating our first Masters appearance!  I feel that this is not so much about my performance this weekend as it is about all the players in DOGC, and the community that supported us. THANK YOU!

Now to the Battle Reports:

For those of you that have read/followed the DOGC Battle Reports leading up to TempleCon you would know that the lists I have been working on were Terminus and eSkarre, and that is exactly who I ran all weekend. The lists were the same, (and are now publicized by MattieK), but in case you haven’t seen them:

Satyxis Raiders x10 w/ UA
Mechanithralls x10
Bane Knights x10
Witherwshadow Combine
Pistol Wraith
Bane Lord Tartarus
Darrage Wrathe
Madelyn Corbeau

Satyxis Raiders x10 w/ UA
Pistil Wraith x2

My lists had been a work in progress up until the final week of the event. I had settled on them and was playing at a relatively high level, confident in both their strengths and weaknesses. My strategy for TC was to view my opponents list, and if I felt that it was a good matchup for eSkarre, I would play her, if not, I would play Terminus. Sounds remedial, but it was really that simple. She really is a poor play against competent ranged, and she is not nearly as survivable on her feat turn as many people think. I would consider what my opponent had played before each match, and what lists they had available. But ultimately my strategy was fairly simple to execute. Now to the games!

I played a TON of highly competitive games this weekend, and the lists/scenarios I played against started to run together in my memory, but I will do the best I can:

Round 1: vs Khal (Toronto, Canada)
Scenario: Supply and Demand
Opposing List:
Mountain King
Slag Troll
Kriel Stone w/ UA
Trollkin Champion Hero

Recap: So Khal is a player from a surprisingly large contingent of Canadian players that made the 9 hour trek down to TC. His crew organized the first ever Canadian Masters! As such, I was certain I was in for a formidable match. He sported a Grim list (I believe) and his Borka List. With Bombers in one list, and a Borka list with a big POW 16 Spray that I could not stop from firing, and the ability to scrap a Kraken with Rage, Acid Touch, and the Stone I felt that Skarre was not the right play, thus based on my pre-game strategy, it was Terminus for me.

I lost the starting roll and my opponent chose to go 2nd; for deployment I had a lot of terrain on the table w/ Forrest on my near L and far R, and wall in the dead center of the battlefield. I put the Mechanithralls on the side of the near forest (my L); I figured it best that they were delayed early rather than later when trying to engage. I put the Knights on the R so they could go right through the terrain if need be. Raiders in the middle as per usual. My opponent put the Mountain King dead center, Mauler on the L (as I look at him) with the Slag Troll, and the Axer on the R w/ Borka, Stones and Champion.

On the opening turn I moved up to threaten the middle of the board w/ the Raiders, and ran everything else up in support, w/ Terminus in the middle of it all w/ Malediction up. My opponent ran the MK forward but not in the zone, and put the Slag Troll up front to start the piece exchange, with the Mauler slightly in front of the MK but in the zone.

I took the dice back and opted to make this my minifeat turn w/ the Raiders, charging the Slag Troll and the Mauler. While I was able to remove the Slag Troll from the table, I was also able to do a lot of damage to the Mauler as well, and pin back the Gargantuan, not too bad. The rest of my MechThralls were ready for a counter charge, as were the Bane Knights. My opponent moved forward the Axer and Threshered some Raiders out of the way to allow the MK to get into the zone, and the Mauler fought back, reducing the Raider unit even more. He brought the Champion thru the woods to threaten my support hiding behind, and made the mistake of killing a lone Bane Knight, triggering Vengeance.

The next turn was going to be crucial to the outcome of the game as I had to deal with the MK; I decided to charge everything into the Gargantuan and was able to get him down to about single digit boxes with most of the Mechanithralls and remaining Raiders, used the Bane Knights to charge the objective, and stones, with a few swings on Borka. I had Terminus left. I knew if I did not take out the Mountain King everything was going to die as he could heal back up to full. I used the Pistol Wraith to clear a few MechThralls so Terminus could get b2b and used both attacks to try and clear him off. With the Stones aura gone (by self sac), and Malediction up I was dice minus very little and the charge attack took the Gargantuan down. Unfortunately with all the models clogged in the middle i was not able to get the Seether in too far to clog the path and was concerned about the Terminus well being at this point, but removing the Mountain King was paramount. I moved up Darrage Wrathe to further protect him w/ Beyond Death. Then braced for Borka’s counter assault, which would likely be for the game; I did score a CP for destroying the objective.

Khal didn’t hesitate, now knowing the game was on tilt for him w/out the Mountain King. He topped off, put Rage on Borka, and put up the Stones ST buff. He was POW 19 and sucked a free strike on the way into Terminus, unable to charge was a good thing for me. He put up Mosh Pit, and KD Terminus on the first swing, but wasn’t able to do much damage, he only had one attack boosting to hit and damage. The Mauler activated ate a bunch of Whelps and healed, put Rage on himself and took three more free strikes on the way in which despite the heal took out his Body and Spirit again. He was outside the Stone Aura so was only POW 19 and under the effect of Beyond Death which wouldn’t be enough against a full camp Terminus. I took the dice on my turn to clean up. Used Tartarus to Curse Borka and put him under Dark Shroud, then the Bane Knights moved to lock Borka in place so he couldn’t stumble. With no Fury, and being at DEF 12 and ARM 13 due to all the debuffs, he didn’t survive the Knights, despite a tough roll. On to round 2!

Round 2: vs Craig (California, USA)
Scenario: Into the Breach
Opposing Lis:
Woldstalkers x2
Shifting Stones w/ UA
Shifting Stones
Gallows Grove x2

Recap: In my second round match I drew Circle which is always somewhat relieving for me because I’m so familiar with them, I don’t sweat the pairing as much. Going into the matchup I also knew that I was going to play eSkarre, as I can really neuter their shenanigans with her feat, and nothing they do really catches me by surprise. My opponent is a regular tourney player from California and a great opponent. This would go on to become the most epic game I’ve ever played, given the stakes, and the twists and turns it would ultimately take.

My opponent had eKaya and Kromac, ultimately he chose Kromac and this is a matchup i’m very comfortable with as he is my main Circle Warlock and I had already played my eSkarre list against Circle the night before and it worked out fine. Circle beast heavy lists are very capable of killing Terminus and I find it to be a relatively poor matchup for him, so eSkarre was never not going to get played. I won the starting roll this time, and my opponent opted to go first. I had a building of sorts to the R of  my deployment zone, and a wall to my L so I put the Kraken in the middle, w/ Skarre near the wall so she could advance up to it, and the Nightwretch in between the two, with all the support behind and the Pistol Wraiths flanking my deployment. I put the Raiders amidst the building ruins, and Deathjack on the opposite side of the Linear at the very R end of my deployment opposite a forest on my opponents side of the board. Kromac deployed essentially across from Skarre, w/ the majority of his battlegroup on the L side (as I stood) ready to jump the zone) supported by one unit of Woldshrimp and the Stalker on the other side of his deployment across the forest from Deathjack supported by the second unit of Woldshrimp and the Gallows Grove.

I opened the game with the Raiders moving to threaten the zone but not too far in total, put a Pistol Wraith and Ragman in the ruins on the L of my deployment area behind the Raiders, and had Skarre put Death Ward on Kraken and move to the linear obstacle, supported by a Pistol Wraith and Necrosurgeon with the Nightwretch moving forward as well. I had DJ put Admonition on himself and moved him behind the wall as well. Kraken took an erroneous shot at their lines to let them know he meant business, scattered onto the Gobbers and killed one! Kromac’s force inched up as well on the opening turn; the Warlock put Inviolable Resolve on Ghetorix and Warpath on himself, camping the final few in case of another long shot from the Hellblaster Cannon. He moved the battlegroup up, save for the Stalker (who was not near him), into the Stones to threaten Teleportation, and the Stalker toed into the far side of the forest outside of 3” LOS, and in Prowl.

On the second turn I could see this match was going to be cagey. I gave one to the Kraken and camped the rest. I moved the Raiders in an extreme flanking maneuver, to the far L side of the board (as I stood) walling them off in the zone between the ruined building (on my side) and a wall (on the other side), with the zone in the middle. I was very happy with the placement. Deathjack remained back, as I was afraid of Kromac triggering Warpath on the Stalker moving him 3” forward and having LOS to DeathJack so I camped the wall, and stayed w/in 4” of the Flag. I could have moved him forward and used Admonition but I wanted to save it, and not have to recast. Kraken took another long Hellcannon shot and this time took out a non Stealth Shifting Stone, a subtle yet super important piece off the board. I turned the dice back over to my opponent. Kromac was going to start to engage, Zephyr’d the Woldshrimp on the side of the board with the zone forward starting to shoot the Raiders. They clipped one, and triggered Warpath on the Feral, moving into the zone and then it went on to kill a couple more Raiders. Blood drawn but nothing serious at this point. He did inch the Stalker forward and had Kromac put Wild Aggression on him, as well as casting Beastial for the first time. DJ and the Stalker now had LOS to each other, but I did not want to go into the forest and get stuck there for a turn, plus I wasnt’ sure I would be able to make it w/ the difficult terrain.

I took the dice back and was still not in a position to do a lot, but he did have the other unit of Stones available for the Raiders to reach. So I opted to use their minifeat and charge into them and the Feral. I took out two stones, and did a good amount of damage to the heavy beat, 12-15 pts or so. Now with both unit of Stones no longer able to Teleport, I opted to run Deathjack into the game in front of the Kraken, at extreme threat range of the Feral and Ghetorix, with Raiders in between. With Beastial up I was not going to be able to arc on that side of the board anyway, I opted to use the Nightwretch to contest the Flag, and used the wall as best I could remaining w/in 4” of the Flag.The Pistol Wraith on my L ran from behind the ruins across the zone and up against the wall on my opponents side of the board across from the Woldshrimp unit. Kraken opened fire on the Woldshirmp and plucked a few, then took a Hellcannon shot on the Wilder and did 4 damage from the blast, then I used the other Pistol Wraith to finish off the Wilder. I turned the dice back over to my opponent waiting to see how he would respond. Kromac was not going to get aggressive as most of my army was not accessible, so he did not take the bait on sending a heavy across the board at DJ. He instead opted to use the Stalker to kill the Nightwretch. With no more Wilder, he had to come forward a bit to keep the Stalker in his CNTL to force him appropriately. He decided to not upkeep Inviolable Resolve on Ghetorix, and but kept the other two spells in play. He moved forward to make sure he could force the Stalker, but only just enough. Then took the free charge on the Stalker into the Nightwretch, put Lightning Strike on himself, and warped for ST. He destroyed the bone chicken then and Sprinted back to the woods. The Woldshrimp came forward and took the Pistol Wraith off the table. The Feral and Ghetorix moved foward and continued to close the ranks on the Kraken but only slightly, not wanting to give up the alpha, and continued to take apart the Raiders, who were holding up rather well. The Woldshrimp on that side failed to hit the Pistol Wraith, who was still causing problems, by contesting and shooting at the rear ranks.

As my turn started, I realized that Craig had brought Kromac too far forward, he was within range of a Perditioned Deathjack. Craig didn’t see it but I had Skarre move to the R end of the wall (out of Beastial range) and cast Perdition at the Woldshrimp, killed one, and moved the Deathjack forward, with full focus. I then Feated, putting it on DJ, Skarre, the Stalker, Necrosurgeon and one Raider making charges on the Kraken difficult, I then moved Admonition to Skarre, typically the feat turn is the best turn to rotate that spell to her. I didn’t think it would matter, as Kromac was only sitting on two Fury, I charged DJ in, MAT 8, 7 attacks, +4 on damage. I hit the charge attack, did 20 damage, which transferred to Ghetorix. I missed the second, hit the third which he took, I missed the fourth, and hit the 5th which was transferred. With two attacks left, Kromac had 6 boxes and no Fury remaining; I needed 7’s to hit, opted to take two chances instead of one boosted, and missed them both… :(. (As i’m sure you might be questioning, Deathjack at this point, was outside of Skarre’s CNTL area so I could not use Seas of Fate. I disappointed obviously, but was still in good shape as I was under Feat and his battlegroup was very damaged. Ghetorix, was locked in, and the Feral had a number of Raiders in front of him. My opponent handled this about as well as he could have. He boxed Deathjack in so he couldn’t move before attacking. Used Ghetorix and the Woldshrimp to spring the Feral; snacking as he went to heal. Kromac then feated (crazy I know), took 1 damage point, cast Wild Aggression on the Feral and swapped to Beast form, so he could jump to place 5” away avoiding a free strike from DJ, well done. The Feral then braved the charge past the remaining Raider in the path, she whiffed and he crashed home on the Kraken taking out his entire L side. He then ran the Woldshrimp that were near Skarre straight back behind the forest so they could not be Perdition targets again; leaving the tree as the only contesting model on the flag.

I took the dice back knowing that I was still in control of the game. I should likely finish off Ghetorix w/ DJ, and get the Feral w/ Kraken after a heal from the Necrotech and help from Ragman. That would leave the Stalker versus both heavies, DJ on full boxes, and Kromac w/ only 5 left. Sounds like a plan; I started w/ Necrotech, who got enough to get the L arm back up. Then Ragmen was up, gets Death Field cast. Kraken’s turn, he goes to town on the Feral with full focus and leaves the Feral on 1 box… :/. I have recourse still, but Deathjack is next. This should be easier, w/ 5 attacks, Ghetorix had healed to about half, so I should not have an issue finishing him off. Five attacks later, and Ghetorix had taken… 1 wound. That’s correct, one friggen wound! I missed four attacks and rolled snake eyes on damage (dice -1) for the one I did hit. Now all three heavies were available. This is not good. I charged the remaining Raiders into the Feral’s rear, and finished him off thanks to Deafthfield and CMA. I opted not to use the last Raider to go near Ghetorix out of fear of not making the CMND for the Terror check, she couldn’t do enough damage anyway. I used Skarre last to take a shot at the Gallows that was not more than 5” from me, and took it out, to score the first CP of the game. At this point, I took stock in the game state,  it was a contest that I had clearly had well in hand not long ago; then the past two turns the dice had just taken it away from me, and now it was a matter of time before I was going to lose. I’m not one to ever complain about dice, as this is a game of chance, as any game of dice is. Even if there are negotiable odds, it’s still chance; if I didn’t want dice involved I would play Chess. However it is what it is. My opponent was great about it and promised me a beer… or two, after he was able to finalize the game. On his turn he took care of business, Ghetorix under Primal took the boots to Deathjack, turning him into scrap, with a little help from the Gorax. Then Kromac moved up to cycle Wild Aggression back onto the Stalker. He charged in and finished off the Kraken. He finished his turn by running the Woldshrimp forward and contesting the Flag again.

So… what to do, what to do, what to do. Kromac is sitting on three Fury at the moment, after not upkeeping anything, and casting Wild Aggression. I have a Pistol Wraith that is behind him, and Skarre left, w/ Ragman, a Necrosurgeon and a Necrotech. Since he had to come forward to buff the Stalker, he was completely in the open. I have no jacks left, my only recourse at this point was to to try and finish Kromac off. As such, I moved the Pistol Wraith forward, keeping him in Kromac’s back arc, and was able to tag him twice! Were my dice finally going to come around? I did five damage each time, meaning he had to transfer both or die, the last hit splashed a couple of damage back onto Kromac; three left. Skarre was left, she had full focus, a gun and a spell list. Here we go: first the Hand Cannon shot, hits!!!! I rolled boosted damage on him, did enough to cause the last transfer, killing Ghetorix, and causing splash back damage again. Now down to a box, I cast Blood Rain on him, hit!!! Damage roll… GOT HIM!!!!! Don’t call it a comeback :D. After I picked myself up off the mat (literally and figuratively) I was moving onto round 3.  Most epic game (for me)… ever.

Round 3: vs Zak (Massachusetts, USA)
Scenario: Fire Support
Opposing List:
Reckoner x2
Knights Exemplar Errants x10 w/ UA
Zealots w/ UA
Bastions x5
Choir x3

Recap: I looked at my opponents lists, and saw that he had played Harbinger in both of his previous two games, my suspicion was that he would likely do the same in this match, either way in both lists, he had double Reckoners. This was not a match up I wanted Skarre in, Purification is pretty horrendous for her and with those long range guns, I really wanted no part of that; so it was back to Terminus for me. Of course my opponent dropped Harbinger, who I have become used to seeing at this point.

I lost the starting roll, and my opponent opted to go first. He set up his battlegroup all to the L center (as I looked at the board) supported by the Bastians with his Zealots on the R. The Errants would set up front and center. There was terrain mostly in the middle horizontal line of the board, with ruins on the L and woods on my R. I decided to put the Bane Knights on the L to deal w/ the Ruins and my opponents battlegroup supported by the Seether, and the MechThralls on the R to deal w/ the Zealots, as they would be fronted by the Raiders allowing the Mechanithralls to navigate the woods..

My opponent went first and moved out aggressively, Feating on the opening turn, opting to pin me back as far as possible. This is a strong tactic and one that I am not unfamiliar with, so I toed around the edge of Harbinger’s CNTL area, ran the Raiders to the extreme R flank, and edged the rest of my force forward to the outside of her feat. I ran the Seether to the ruins, and decided I would have Terminus support the Banes to deal with the opposing battlegroup. I was comfortable in my position, as Harbinger would not be able to score this upcoming turn and both sides of my force were properly supported.

Harbinger’s fwp turn went reasonably well, both Reckoners took Assault shots on the Seether, and the Vassal allowed for one more; my opponent caught some hot dice and took him down to half boxes right away. Not good for me, but I’ll take it as the Seether is serving his roll correctly, and still alive to have a fwp turn. He activated the Errants and started to fire on the Banes, killing one and triggering Vengeance. On the other side of the battle, the Zealots triggered their minifeat and ran forward. Not a lot of blood drawn, but I’m ready to start counter assaulting. I took the dice back, and in response to the Zealots, I ran the Raiders to complete the extreme flanking maneuver to the far side of the battllefield deep into my opponent’s half of the board, to about ¾ of the way across threatening the objective and the rear of the zealots as well as the flank of Harbinger. I ran the Mechanithralls in to engage the Zealots and camped the Necrosurgeon behind the trees setting up the McThrall factory next turn, protected nicely by a piece of terrain to hide her Stitch Thralls in while they collected corpses. On the other side of the board, I crashed home with the Banes, and did a number on the Errants. I moved my support and Terminus to back up their efforts, affording them Tough and Curse, as well as Beyond Death. That entire side of the battlefield was locked in melee. With the early game clearly in Harbinger’s favor, I felt that the game was at a pivot point, ready to turn in my favor.

My opponent was frustrated on the main side of the battle by all my Banes Reach weapons clogging his lines; he was not able to do much and really unable to get his Bastions into the mix the way he wanted. He did clear a couple more Banes, but was facing down counter assault from more Banes and the support next turn. The Bastions were able to finish off the Seether on the near side of the wall, leaving a nice piece of difficult terrain to clog things up more. On the other side of the battle he turned the Vanquisher away from the main scrum to help deal w/ the Raiders, dropping a pie plate on a few to set them on fire. The Zealots started to dig their way out of the McThralls, but that was a losing proposition, as they were only fueling their own demise. I took the dice back ready to start stepping on Harbinger’s throat. I mini feated the Raiders and charged into the Objective, Zealots and Vanquisher. They took out the Objective for the first CP of the game, and had took the Zealots down a few models. The McThralls did a number on the Zealots as well, and there was only a one or two left when they were done. On the other side of the board, Terminus continued to close ranks on Harbinger. Tartarus activated first, and charged into the Reckoner threshering four Errants, making three more Bane Knights, who popped up behind the line of the jacks and Bastions. They activated next, and took apart the rest of the Errants, and started to do major damage to the Reckoners, also leaving the Bastions all tied in. With one Reckoner ready to go down, I decided to commit Terminus to finishing the job, as there was a Mechanik lurking in the background close enough to start repairing it next turn. The combo of Dark Shroud from BLT and Malediction from Terminus allowed him to swing once and finish the heavy jack off. I finished my turn by moving Darrage Wrathe forward to get Beyond Death up, and then turned over the dice to my opponent feeling good about my spot.

Harbinger assessed the board and it was apparent the flank on the R (from my view) was collapsing rapidly, and the main battle front was falling with one ‘jack now gone and another in severe shape. The Errants were all but eliminated, save for the standard bearer,, and only a couple of Bastions remained. Zak thought it was time to try and salvage the game with an assassination run. He gave the Rekoner full focus, and walked it up, hit then proceeded to roll HUGE damage, triple box car… :/. Really!?!? Sad part is, that this was not the first time that has happened to me in a Terminus v Harbinger game; apparently, here we go again. Good news is the followup attack missed leaving Terminus at half his damage boxes. Harbinger was next and was not able to get super close due to the Banes clogging the way, and dropped a POW 15 Cataclysm on Terminus, not doing any damage. Phew! I was not concerned until those trip 6’s dropped, ultimately it was okay, and Harbinger died to Vengeance attacks the beginning of my next turn. Winning round 3, now Masters clearly within my sights, just one victory away!

Round 4: Tom (California, USA)
Scenario: Incursion
Opposing List:
eLiche (2)
Bane Knights x 10
Bane Thralls x10 w/ UA
Blood Witches x10 w/ UA
Bile Thralls x6
Wrong Eye & Snapjaw

Recap: Mirror matches are simply never fun. My opponent was sporting eLiche and pDenny. I knew with little doubt that he was going to play eLiche; he had played both lists to that point, but had played Liche twice; given that a spot in the masters was at stake I knew that his horse was eLiche in this match. That list was one of the two that I really don’t have a good answer to, the other being a double Stormwall list. I considered my options, I knew that eLiche would have little trouble with Kraken, based on his feat, and while the Biles wouldn’t be a huge issue, they were still an effective way to deal with the one unit of infantry I had in the list. That left the entire game on Deathjack to win, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. To be honest, I wasn’t comfortable w/ my Terminus match up either. I don’t play Biles with him, and given I have 40 models in the list, I would expect to get purged off the table. So neither was really preferable, and in that situation, I fall back to what I’m most comfortable with, which is Terminus. So I dropped my Terminus list and away we went.

I won the starting role, and opted to go first. There was ruins on the L side of the battlefield just out front of my deployment zone, and a hill out front of the R side of my deployment zone. A small forest on the L side near my opponent’s deployment zone and a wall on the R also near his zone. I put Terminus in the middle as per usual w/ the Mechthralls on my R and the Bane Knights on my L so they could easily navigate the ruins. The Raiders AD out in front on the hill on the R of my board. My opponent put Liche just behind the wall so he could move first turn and camp there. The bone chicken was next to him on his L (as I looked at the table), with the Bane Knights to the L of the them and the Bane Thralls to the R. WE&SJ were supporting the Bane Thralls, and the Witches were on the far L of the board, across from my Bane Knights. In the middle of his deployment was a conga line of Biles separating the arc node from the Bane Knights, in a single file line going directly back towards his own table edge.

On my opening turn, it was standard fare, I put Malediction on Terminus and charged him up the board, and surrounded him by the MechThralls and the Banes. I moved the Raiders to a tentative position middle of the board, on the far side of battle, on the hill out of threat range of the Bane Thralls. The Seether ran up along side Terminus, and I turned the dice to my opponent. On the opening turn, he ran the bone chicken into Excarnate range of the Raiders near the hill, and then activated Liche and did just that; successfully casting then popping a Bile and purging three Raiders from the table. He then put Hellbound on himself; and was very aggressive with the rest of his army, as his Feat allows him to be, and forced his army down my throat. The Witches as expected moved to front my Knights and did their mini feat to prevent the alpha. Liche’s force was in a strong position.

I surveyed the table, and could see that this battle already looking bad before it had really begun. I could not stand toe to toe w/ Tom’s list, based on my build, and decided instead that I would try to put some quick damage on Liche and see if I could get him on his heels. So I started w/ the Raiders, figured they would likely be purged from the table next turn anyway, so charged in and mini Feated sending four at the Nightwretch; my hope was to get a few points of Feedback damage on Liche. Plan executed well, I did two to Asphyxious and was able to scrap the bone chicken after a few CMAs. I also fronted the Bane Thralls, taking a few of them down. With Liche at the wall, I was within spray range of him w/ Terminus after a move. Liche was on little camp, so I decided if I could get a decent roll, He would be well below half right away and that would change the landscape of the game, forcing him backwards and neutralizing his feat. So I did, and caught good dice, doing another 10 damage to him, putting Liche down to only 6 boxes. I did forget that he was suffering Corrosion continuous effect, but realized it in the middle of my next turn. I was satisfied at this point, and engaged the rest of his force crashing around Terminus to thwart any effort to get to him this turn, killing what could be killed. Finishing w/ the Seether blocking off the charge lane from Snapjaw if Liche was able to clear the area in front of him with purging. With that I turned the dice back over to my opponent, hoping I had bought myself some breathing room on his Feat; if so I could begin to apply my resources next turn. Liche went first, backed straight away from Terminus, and dropped his Soul Reaper on the Raiders clumped in front of the Bane Thralls. After upkeeping Hellbound, he camped the rest leaving him on ARM 22. The Biles did there thing and netted him another five (or so) souls, and freeing the Bane Thralls to mix it up and get more in the game. Snapjaw was not able to get free from behind the infantry, and only inched up. The Witches crashed home on the Bane Knights but did minimal damage as they could not get thru the Reach in most cases. Overall it was a rather moot turn for Liche, which made me feel like my plan was working.

In taking the dice back, I surveyed the setup, and after very little deliberation it was apparent I could go for the game this turn; I was relatively surprised that Tom didn’t get Liche further away with a Teleport. The plan was rather simple, use Puppet Strings to cheese out the dice on another spray from Terminus, and use my Feat if it didn’t work. I could fuel Terminus up with Witch souls which could be easily snatched by my Banes and McThralls all mixed in. I could secure his position with the wall and negate charges as I would have Big T in everyone’s back arc. It was actually a relatively low risk assassination attempt. At this point I remembered the Corrosion, too little too late for the prior turn, but it made me feel a lot better about what I was about to do. So I used the Vengeance attacks from the Knights to clear what needed to be cleared in front of Terminus. Trampled the Seether into Snapjaw so he would not be a factor next turn. Then activated the Combine to put Puppet Strings on Terminus, and moved him up to the wall were Liche once was, and sprayed him again. Boost to hit, and damage. Got the hit, and on the damage I rolled a 6,1,1 so I opted to use the re-roll on the two ones, and… BOOM a 5 and 3, which means another 6 damage… wait count it again… yup 6 damage FTW!!!!!!  GOING TO MASTERS!!!!

It certainly took a moment to realize what just happened, then I was swamped by my teammates from all around so it became real right away. I have to say receiving lots of love from all the players at the Con, as anybody who has ever tried to qualify knows how difficult it is, was probably the best part of the whole thing.

A number of people have asked me since this weekend how I was able to qualify with only a year of tournament experience. You have to be a good player of course, but it’s more than that. You also have to have a reasonable draw, the dice have to cooperate, and you need to have stamina for days… literally. I played 12 games in 3 days, which may or may not sound like a lot, but I promise you by itself that alone is taxing, add in the pressure of each game that mounts as the days build, plus the combined 30+ hours of standing, and people draped all around you while play, especially as the rounds go later. It is a mental exercise like not much else I have experienced in my life.

If qualifying to play in a Masters is something that you want to try and go for, my #1 piece of advice is that you definitely need a meta that shares the same goal. I cannot say enough about my DOGC friends. Not only do we push each other in our practice sessions, but this weekend, they truly supported everything I was doing. Staying after their events were over to watch me play. Making sure I had water and food so I didn’t starve, and generally knowing you have ‘fans’ supporting you makes you play that much better. The second piece of advice I can offer, is to not be intimidated by the scene. We all just like to play games, roll dice, and push models around a table. Of course there is more on the line than that, but it seems to me what holds a lot of good local players back is the assumption that other players are ‘better’ than them or they are generally afraid to put themselves in the arena for fear of failure. Just enjoy the games, put yourself out there, play lots of games, and don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel to have a chance. Play what works for you, and don’t try to do what somebody else is doing, unless it’s what you want to do. It’s a game above all else, if you’re not enjoying yourself then don’t play. Find what you like to play and play it, if you get comfortable with what that is, the wins will come. If you want to play better in big events, then put yourself in big events and play, how else is it going to happen? If you get your teeth knocked in, you learn and get better. I learn way more from losses than I do from wins. I’m pretty sure most players who are honest with themselves will tell you the same thing.

Of the other reflections from TempleCon this weekend, the biggest one is in regard to dice. I never have felt much sway of dice on my game play in one game or another. I have always felt that players saying ‘i got diced’ or ‘they diced me’ was a quasi cop out on a game they probably made other mistakes that allowed you to be in a position to be ‘diced’. After my second round game with Craig in Standard Issue, it did feel like the dice had gone way past uncooperative, and I wanted to start making that excuse. What I learned though, is that solid tactics still prevailed, in spite of epic bad dice. I think what bad dice do is lead to bad play or a self fulfilling prophecy that you ‘feel’ like you’re ‘supposed’ to lose the game so you play in a manner that facilitates that. If the dice won’t cooperate, don’t simply hand the game the game over, play it until it’s completion. Finish what you started, and make your opponent win the game. If you’ve played a solid game to that point, there may well come a point where the dice have a chance to come around again or your opponent simply makes a grave mistake. That’s what happened to me in that 2nd round, and if I gave up on the game, I would not have been playing in Masters on Sunday. It’s a dice game, and I encourage you to always remember that. Rolls go good and bad; play each game the best you can, never assume anything ‘will’ or ‘won’t’ happen, and never concede a game willingly because of dice, make your opponent win the game, don’t simply lose it for them.

Another reflection from this weekend is about poor matchups. I would argue that I faced a number of them in my 12 games, namely Harbinger, whom I saw multiple times, and eLiche. Bad matchups are going to happen, and the same rule applies as it does with dice. Uphill battles exist with any build; you need to have a plan on how you’re going to deal with it. I wouldn’t just offer over the game because the matchup is not one you want to face. Play the game, and again make sure your opponent has to play well to win. Be able to understand why that matchup beats you, do the best you can to avoid falling for the usual tricks and traps. I have found that often times your opponent knows it’s a favorable matchup, the same as you expect it to be unfavorable, and often will get impatient because they want to hurry up and win an ‘easy’ game. That leads to mistakes and/or sloppy play, and very few games at all are auto lose for any combination in my experience. If games were played on paper, we’d have no reason to paint the models!

Overall, the experience I had this weekend was a great one, and I hope it’s one I will have a chance to live again. I finished strong in Masters going 2-1, and finishing among the top 8 players in the Con. I can’t wait to go at it again, I hope to see you all across a table soon, and wish you the best in your own gaming endeavors be it Masters, or open play night at your LGS!

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