Hey all, travelling back from the WTC seemed like a perfect time to write some match reports from the weekend, so here goes. I took my trusty Morticians as the captain of team SFG along with fellow Game Developers Bryce Johnston playing Farmers and Steve Martgetson playing Brewers. We managed to finish 2nd last year and were super excited to see how well we could do this time around.
My roster was slightly different to my solo event 12 as I had to be the team's main drop into high tempo/pressure goal scoring match ups so I took a few flex picks specifically for that purpose.
France 1 was a super tough draw for round one. Incredibly strong players and a harsh line up of guilds for us (they also had Engineers and Masons). I was dropped into Fishermen, Bryce took on the Engineers while Steve faced the Masons.
I ran Scalpel, Dirge, BP & M, Ghast, Graves, and vHemlocke. Gauthier ran Corsair, Tentacles, Hag, Knuckles, Kraken, and Siren.
Corsair is one I've been practicing for a fair amount so I felt reasonably comfortable going into it. Although it's a match up where if things start to go wrong it can spiral really quickly. I also noticed that Gauthier hadn't chosen any of the typical goal scorers like Fathom or Sakana, so his intention to fight me and score opportunistically was clear.
Brainpan & Memory are a little out of favour with most Morticians but I have them specifically for this match up. They're incredibly useful for positioning in front of vulnerable drag targets, generally blocking movement, and also serving as additional melee zones for Scalpel to manipulate with Voodoo Strings.
I kicked off with Scalpel, making sure not to step within 12” of Corsair (his max drag threat without help), using Memory to block any drags of Scalpel. Once she was Tooled Up I positioned Dirge ahead of Scalpel and then used vHemlocke's Legendary Play to move Scalpel from behind Memory up to being behind Dirge, now within range of several Fishermen for Scalpel's activation.
Gauthier moved up and used Corsair's Legendary Play to drag Scalpel and Dirge into melee. But because I was cautious with my placement, he was unable to get more than one gang up bonus for most of his attacks which means he was very unlikely to take out Scalpel from full health. He left her knocked down within 4 melee zones.
Scalpel is excellent at getting herself out of such situations however and because she was still on the pitch Gauthier had very little momentum. If I could damage Corsair and win the initiative, I could finish him at the top of turn 2. Which is exactly what happened, after which I retreated Scalpel to safety.
Gauthier was trying to get the angle for a Lure or Drag on Scalpel with his remaining models but each attempt was blocked by a combination of Dirge and Memory. I continue to take apart Gauthier's team with take outs on Kraken and Hag.
When Corsair returned he immediately reengaged Scalpel due to the speed bonus from Get Back In There. Corsair finishes off a wounded vHemlocke in the process and seriously wounds Scalpel again. But as I'd healed her back to full health this attempt also ended in failure and a Tooled Up Scalpel took Corsair out for a second time in reply.
Knuckles manages to take out Scalpel later on. But at this point I felt in a commanding position in the game at 8-4 up. Gauthier drags in Graves with Kraken and sets up for Corsair to take him out at the top of the next turn.
Unfortunately for him I managed to win the Initiative and using Full Back for a cheaper charge Scalpel comes in from the side of the board and manages to take out Corsair for a third time, this time a stack of 6 influence goes with him.
More brawling ensues and I end the turn winning the initiative again with Knuckles on half health and knocked down in 3 friendly melee zones. Scalpel takes him out at the top of the following turn for the win.
I think this match up is difficult for Corsair, particularly when he doesn't put me under any goal pressure. I never saw the ball during the game but also never felt threatened by it which ultimately worked to my advantage. Memory and Dirge were critical for ensuring I engaged the Fishermen team on favourable terms.
Steve lost his match but Bryce pulled out a difficult match up into Engineers so we won round 1 overall by two games to one.
I tell you what, these French teams are TOUGH. They know what they're doing and they play with confidence which is most of what you need to challenge anyone. So we knew we were in for a difficult set of games again in round 2. Bryce was matched up with Morticians and Steve faced their Farmers player.
I ran Scalpel, Dirge, Ghast, Graves, vHemlocke, and Skulk. Romain ran Skatha, Snow, Egret, Minerva, vMinx, and Seenah.
I used to run Casket into Hunters until I realised how rarely I would get to Casket Time anything due to Seenah and vMinx not being human. Also Skatha can have a difficult time working through Skulk's abilities, sometimes having to trigger Horrific Odour twice due to Snowball and often triggering Lightning Reflexes.
Skatha kicked off and I was very cautious with who was handling the ball until I was able to get Horrific Odour up and running. Realising Romain will be unable to score a goal, he switches plans and hits most of my team with a Cold Snap to snare my players before running away. Skatha also placed her fast ground AOE underneath Egret and Seenah.
Scalpel goes into Minerva, setting her up for a turn two take out and ensuring Seenah can't reach her in reply. Seenah runs forward to threaten me in turn two.
Scalpel takes out Minerva and tries to start working on Egret, leaving her on 4 health and positioned closer to my team. Scalpel second winds into cover. Things get scrappy and Seenah puts a lot of damage onto Scalpel. Realising the Hunters are likely to win the initiative and kill Scalpel, at the end of the turn I spend my momentum on healing and I pass the ball to Scalpel to retreat her to a safer position.
Unable to take down Scalpel, the Hunters get to work on Ghast and leave him on low health. Ghast had 3 influence so, knowing he would soon go down, I activate him to knock down Seenah and trigger an unmasking to break up the brawl a bit and put Egret onto 1 health. vMinx then takes down Ghast.
Skatha scores with a Snowball and is threatening the real ball for next turn. Scalpel goes to work on Seenah putting her on low health and gaining enough momentum for me to win the initiative.
I win the initiative but Romain plays Seize the Initiative to try to save Seenah from Scalpel. Unfortunately this puts a knocked down Seenah within walking range of Graves who walks up and scything blows both Seenah and Skatha to death at the top of the turn. Removing 8 influence and 2 activations.
After that I had full control of the game, taking out vMinx next and finishing with a goal to win the game.
Another very tactical game from an excellent opponent. It really was the positioning of Seenah that sealed the win for me but before that things were looking sketchy. Hunters winning the initiative is incredibly dangerous for Morticians.
Bryce unfortunately lost to the Morticians but Steve pulled it out in a super close game with the Farmers giving us another round win with two games to one.
We groaned seeing that we had to face the Germans. Match ups were only going to keep getting tougher and we'd not had an easy start. With Fishermen, Farmers and Navigators, there were two high tempo goal scoring teams and I could only take one of them. So we dropped Bryce into the Farmers mirror match and Steve had a difficult match up versus Fishermen.
I ran Obulus, Dirge, Casket, Ghast, Graves, and Skulk. Joachim ran Windfinder, Wander, Angel, Azimuth, Fathom, and Siren.
Another match up where I needed Skulk to slow down the goal scoring any way that I could and Obulus gives me additional control over the ball which is needed here. Also Scalpel can have trouble with defence 5 enemies with good counter attacks, which Navigators can field several of.
Siren kicks off and similar to the previous game I'm very cautious with where I place the ball, trying to give Joachim suboptimal goal scoring options where I can. Joachim advances very aggressively, threatening an Azimuth charge into my lines at the end of the turn to generate him MP, knock my players down and win the initiative, which I can't allow. So Obulus puppet masters him backwards out of range and engages Siren to generate momentum through momentous dodge results to win the initiative.
Being unsure what to do with the initiative, I change my mind and play a relatively low card for the bonus influence. Joachim wins the initiative and Windfinder comes in to score. Unfortunately she can't quite fit through the available gaps in my models and the terrain with playbook dodges so is forced to Legendary to get the distance and score. This is good for me because it means the Legendary is now out of the way, but I'm still a goal down.
For my goal kick I place it base to base with my goal to reduce the chances of Joachim immediately scoring a second. Azimuth and Ghast start duelling in the centre of the pitch and we jostle for momentum and position. I end the turn by using Obulus' Legendary to ensure I will go first next turn, using Confidence to ensure I knock Windfinder down with my charge attack, and then pile bonus timed attacks into her to drop her to 7 health. Casket also moves to engage her.
Windfinder is Casket timed at the top of the turn and Casket then uses his movement to secure the ball and pass to Obulus who then dodges out to the left to keep it safe. Wander guides Siren to threaten Obulus so Obulus is forced to activate to keep it safe. He charges up the field at Angel. This knocks her down and does around 5 damage. Obulus then kicks the ball into the Navigator deployment zone which should keep it safe for the rest of the turn and difficult to retrieve since Windfinder won't be coming back on next turn as she's "in the bo"'.
Joachim sends Fathom to recover the ball but won't reach it until next turn. Exceptional Azimuth play continues to keep Ghast and Skulk busy in the midfield with no real gains to be made. I'm concerned at how spread out my players are as Morticians struggle to inflict burst damage without knockdowns and crowd outs helping out our playbooks. Joachim knows this and is positioning to minimise my damage while he chases his goals.
At the top of the turn Fathom recovers the ball, passes to Angel who scores using a linked activation. I'm 8-4 down but if I can keep the ball safe I have a decent activation advantage as a result. The goal kick goes out to the right where there are few players. Ghast knocks down Azimuth and manages an unmasking to damage Azimuth and Siren. Azimuth knocks down Graves and Ghast in return before sprinting to snap the ball. This is catastrophic and I need to recover the ball.
Luckily the effort of recovering the ball leaves the Navigators without momentum. Graves charges Azimuth, inflicting momentous damage and bleed but not taking the ball (if it's stuck on Azimuth then he can't score by taking it off my players). Joachim forgets to heal Siren and I seize on the mistake by taking her out with Obulus removing 3 influence from Joachim in the process. I manage to win the initiative and bleed puts Azimuth down to 5 health.
Graves finishes off Azimuth, tackling the ball in the process and drops it onto Skulk. I was hoping to spike a damage roll allowing me to pass dodge Skulk to safety but didn't quite manage it (it was a big ask in fairness). The returned Windfinder charges Skulk, I defensive stance and use poised to free counter. Windfinder tackle double dodges into shot range but Skulk uses Lightning Reflexes to reengage and tackle with a bonus timed counter. Unable to recover the ball, Windfinder uses eye spy to knock Skulk down to see if the scatter is kind. It scatters away from Windfinder and I breathe a massive sigh of relief.
Skulk recovers the ball, spikes an attack to knock Windfinder down and passes out to Graves who dodges away to the right. Obulus returns to the centre of the pitch and attacks for more momentum to win the initiative. Joachim's team race towards Graves to pressure the ball. He ends the turn with 90 seconds of clock time left.
Obulus takes out Windfinder at the top of the turn and moves to puppet master Graves to kick the ball into my back right corner in a desperate attempt to keep it safe. Fathom is about 2 inches shy of being able to recover it and shoot. This also times Joachim out so he concedes.
Being honest, I learned something new here. I was under the impression that Obulus was difficult for the Navigators to beat but Joachim knew his team inside out, and mine. He ordered his activations perfectly to capitalise on any small mistakes that I made and apply incredible goal scoring pressure whilst keeping my midfield bruisers busy to resist take outs at the same time. It was incredibly impressive and I have a new found respect for the Navigator's chances against Obulus.
Bryce managed to win his Farmers mirror and Steve managed to pull it out of the bag and win his super difficult match up into Fishermen giving us a third win of the day with three wins to zero.
Onwards and upwards to day two!
Some opponents we were more familiar with. While we definitely didn't underestimate this match up, we were glad to avoid some of the teams with an extremely difficult team composition. Brewers, Masons, and Union presented us with match ups we were a little better prepared for. Bryce faced off against the infamous and amazing looking Fangtooth Union, while Steve faced the Brewers mirror.
I ran Scalpel, Dirge, Casket, Ghast, Graves, and vHemlocke. Albert ran Honour, Marbles, Brick, Chisel, Flint, and vHarmony.
Having played this match up in practice, I think it's one that Scalpel is advantaged into due to the Mason's reliance on armour and precise positioning. Also because of the inclusion of Flint in combination with Honour's Superior Strategy I knew there could be some strong pressure on the ball.
Flint kicks off and I kept the ball as far away from him as possible. Albert advances aggressively but mainly behind brick. Chisel advances with 4 influence meaning that either a goal or a take out can be threatened by Superior Strategy, which is problematic.
I pass to vHemlocke and dodge her out to the left (flint was slightly off to the right). Hemlocke also moves further left after using her Legendary to advance Scalpel to threaten more of the Masons. Flint sprints to the right to threaten the ball. Scalpel needs to take down Chisel and keep Flint from scoring, so I do some measurements. Albert has positioned his team quite well, with Fulcrum up to give free counter attacks, Marbles to the left of Chisel to threaten counter charge whilst also making it more difficult to separate Chisel from vHarmony (who can take damage in place of Chisel due to Team Player).
Tooled Up Scalpel jogs to engage Chisel and Marbles, vHarmony takes the damage from the first attack, which I use to push Chisel backwards and away from vHarmony. I hit Marbles next, either wanting damage to push vHarmony away or a spirit bomb to move and damage Chisel more. I get the Spirit Bomb. Another attack sees me reengage Chisel on the other side of Marbles and I bonus time my remaining attacks to take her out. I use these attacks to Voodoo Strings Flint away from the ball and Honour backwards.
Honour Superior Strategies and Quick Times Flint into range of vHemlocke. He reaches her but with only one attack which he uses to tackle the ball.
I take the first activation with a +1 TAC Ghast who charges Flint, knocks him down, and pushes him so that he isn't within 1” of any of my players. Albert moves his other players into defensive positions around brick and marbles. Scalpel doesn't have an easy target so switches and sprints back to take out Flint to secure the ball once again.
Albert moves up his remaining players behind Brick and I put the ball back onto vHemlocke.
Brick leads the next attack, coming into Casket to knock him down and concussion his influence away. A scrum builds around Brick, Honour Legendaries for armour and brings up vHarmony to keep a Brick alive.
Albert doesn't heal vHarmony so Scalpel engages Brick with the intention of pulling in and taking out vHarmony, which she does. Also leaving Brick knocked down and wounded. At some point during this brawl Ghast also goes down.
Brick goes down in the next turn and Chisel rejoins the game supporting Honour and Marbles. Whilst taking Brick down, Chisel gets dragged into the fray and wounded. She attacks Graves, leaving him low but also suffering a counter attack which does damage and bleed. Now that I'm on 8 points I feel confident enough to advance vHemlocke to threaten a goal, more to split Albert's attention so that I can either finish the game with a goal or more take outs as the situation suits.
Dirge is taken out and Honour engages vHemlocke to steal the ball but gets some unlucky rolls and is unable to score. Scalpel takes out Chisel again and I surround Honour preparing to take her out at the top of the next turn which wins me the game.
As long as the Scalpel player accepts they will never have full control over the last activation and just focuses on causing as much damage as possible, I feel like she has a strong game plan into Honour. Her team also comes with a decent amount of kit for causing disruption such as Blind and the various tools that Casket brings.
Steve unfortunately loses the mirror match but Bryce takes down the Fangtooth Union to give us a team victory of two wins to one.
This was the big one, the only team to defeat us last year and winners of the two previous WTCs. The Germans brought Masons, Alchemists, and Fishermen. Bryce went on the streamed table against Christian Metz playing Masons and Steve faced off against the seemingly unstoppable Timmay playing Alchemists. As a side note, since Bryce lost the day before, Timmay had become the only remaining person to have never lost a game at the GB WTC.
I ran the same line up from round one - Scalpel, Dirge, BP & M, Ghast, Graves, and vHemlocke. Christoph ran Corsair, Tentacles, Hag, Knuckles, Kraken, and Siren.
Corsair kicked off and, similar to the first game, I advanced cagily behind Memory and placed other models behind obstructions to prevent being dragged. The ball eventually wound up on Brainpan. Corsair had been moved up by Hag to threaten a drag onto Scalpel or Ghast, and was Christoph's final activation.
Scalpel engaged Corsair and Tentacles, avoiding Corsair's counter attack by pushing him away with Voodoo Strings. I then switched to hitting Tentacles with the aim of leaving the wounded Corsair within the "sad trian"le' (which is, placing 3 models from his own team around him, pinning him in place since they've already activated and Corsair has no way to move them). I leave Corsair on 13 health, Tentacles on 1 health, and then retreat to just over 6” away from Corsair. Christoph passes Corsair's activation knowing he can't do anything.
I win the initiative and after allocating my influence, take a quick look at Christoph's allocation. The only knock down threat to Scalpel, Kraken, only has 2 which is not enough for a drag and attack. So knowing Scalpel is safe I go first with Graves and Tool Up Scalpel. Christoph is backed into a corner so goes for a risky play of bonus timing a Blind at Scalpel, which, if it hits, might allow Corsair to live. But it misses, and now Corsair has no momentum to defend himself with.
Scalpel takes out Corsair and damages other models with a spirit bomb before backing away. With limited options, Christoph opts to drag in Memory using Kraken to get some momentum on the board later in the turn. A scrum starts to form around Kraken whilst I keep the ball on Brainpan behind an obstruction. Ghast ends the turn by entering the fray and knocking down Kraken.
Corsair returns next to Christoph's goal post and the melee around Kraken intensifies with Knuckles wading in. Siren, who has been damaged by the two Tooled Up Spirit Bombs is taken out by Ghast. Graves takes out Tentacles and Tools Up Scalpel. At the end of the turn Scalpel launches at Corsair once again and drops him to 1 health whilst winning the initiative.
Christoph plays Seize the Initiative to try to slow Scalpel down but I move vHemlocke around him to block his escape. Scalpel takes down Corsair and then starts laying into Knuckles.
Knuckles goes down at the top of the next turn and then Brainpan & Memory end the game by scoring a tap in goal. I just 12-0'd a member of Germany 1.
I was the first to finish, Bryce followed soon after by losing to Christian Metz's Masons. At that moment Steve was 8-6 up versus Timmay and looking really strong with a commanding hold on the centre of the pitch having pushed Midas off the back edge of the pitch with Quaff!!
Timmay was clearly under pressure and was spending a long time thinking, although he was up on clock so had the time to spare, and the ball was on Vitrol on the left edge of the pitch. Timmay needed a take out but couldn't threaten Steve without eventually giving up vKatalyst in return.
Vitriol passes the ball to Midas, who dodges up, and charges vDecimate to get some momentum. She push dodges off vDecimate. Steve, not realising Hooper no longer has Whiskey Chaser since it was spent while performing a parting blow on Flask, jogs Hooper into Vitriol. Had he realised, he could have sprinted into base to base to nullify the Vitriol counter attack. As it was Hooper fails to knockdown the 6 health Vitriol and she push dodges away with her counter attack.
Timmay moves vKatalyst up with Lure of Gold to threaten vDecimate and Hooper, and passes the ball to Crucible who is up near the top left corner of the pitch, out of range of Steve's team and threatening a goal. Midas charges vDecimate, knocks her down, and generates MP with his last attack to seal the initiative.
Steve has an ace up his sleeve, playing Get Back In There, Mash returns to the game and moves base to base with Crucible. Now Timmay has a huge problem. He elects to go with vKatalyst and takes out vDecimate.
Mash activates, tackles the ball from Crucible. She counter attacks to pop Mash's resilience. Mash pushes her off the pitch with Howzat and the game goes to 10-8. Steve, worried Midas is in range to steal the ball and score, uses Mash's Heroic to lob the ball across the pitch in an attempt to keep the ball safe.
Unfortunately it doesn't scatter quite far enough and Midas is just able to reach it with a Where'd They Go, Sprint, and Fulminated Push Dodge off Quaff, and scores to win the game 12-10. What a game!
Unfortunately we lose to the Germans yet again, two wins to one in a repeat of last year's result. We got so SO close! Steve had Timmay on the ropes but alas, it was not to be.
So, this one was strange, the Fins had the same guild line up as we did and were keen to play the three mirrors. I protested but Bryce was comically drumming the table and chanting “Mirror! Mirror!” So, we flipped a coin, and set up the mirror matches when Bryce won, to much amusement.
Jarkko honoured me by saying that he was incredibly happy to be playing this match, win or lose, it was something he had hoped would happen. We ran almost identical line ups, Scalpel, Dirge, Casket, Ghast, Graves, and vHemlocke. The only difference being Jarkko took Vileswarm over Dirge.
So, I'll be honest, I'd never played AGAINST Scalpel before this, and I was getting very tired as it was the last game of the weekend. This played out to comic effect.
I kicked off with Scalpel, my first mistake. During the course of the turn I used vHemlocke's Legendary Play to try to Blind his Scalpel with a bonus time, but missed. I was so paranoid about his Scalpel walking in and taking out mine, that I built "Fort Mort" around her, in cover near to Ghast, Casket, and Graves. And then the realisation hit me, I'D JUST SAD TRIANGLED MYSELF!
Jarkko pass dodges Scalpel up and charges Ghast, who defensive stances and counter attacks (I had 3 MP because Dirge had charged Vileswarm and wrapped the Singled Out earlier in the turn). The dice gods smiled on me and Jarkko only rolled 3 hits, missing the Spirit Bomb. Ghast's counter pushes Scalpel to the edge of 2”, meaning that she had to spend influence for the Spirit Bomb to seal the triangle whilst engaged. She rolls her one die at Ghast, she hits, she rolls on Casket, she hits, she rolls on Graves, she misses. And I breath a HUGE sigh of relief.
My Scalpel emerges from Fort Mort and drops his Scalpel down to 2 health and knocked down whilst I move up my Casket using Voodoo Strings in preparation for the top of turn Casket Time.
The enemy Scalpel goes into the Casket and Heavy Burden is placed on the enemy Ghast. A melee forms around the Caskets, my vHemlocke is threatened by Casket Time so my efforts go into disrupting it and dropping Graves down to 1 health. Jarkko has used the ball to move his Heavy Burdened Ghast around but to keep it safe from me scoring a goal he kicks it up field towards my goal.
I prevent the Casket Time, take out the enemy Graves and put the enemy Casket onto very low health.
The enemy Scalpel returns with Get Back In There and fast ground putting her within striking distance of my Scalpel but I was out of range to get to her directly. I take out the enemy Casket and Tool Up my Scalpel. Jarkko uses Graves to Tool Up his own Scalpel, then charges my Casket to generate damage and momentum, scything blowing my Graves and Casket. Graves heals himself.
I need to take out the enemy Scalpel again to seal the game as the ball is unreachable. So Scalpel runs around the melee and engages the enemy Ghast, who can't counter as Jarkko has no MP. The enemy Scalpel is more than 3” away so one attack won't do it. I attack and hit the Spirit Bomb, so move the enemy Scalpel towards mine. I hit again and Voodoo Strings my Scalpel out of melee with Ghast and into melee with the enemy Scalpel. I only have two influence left due to Ghast's Fear. The enemy Scalpel counter attacks. I drop her to 2 health with my attack (and she was damaged by the Spirit Bomb). She bonus times her counter but doesn't hit her own Spirit Bomb, the dice gods smile on me again and I take her out.
At the top of the turn I get another take out and win the game with another 12-0, but this time a completely undeserved one. Jarkko made all the right choices early on but just wasn't rewarded for his efforts. In an enormous show of sportsmanship he was still smiling and said he was incredibly happy to have played the game. We talked about Morticians and exchanged team shirts, the Finland team shirts look WICKED!
Bryce and Steve both won their mirror matches too so we finished with a three win victory and ended the WTC with 5 team wins and 1 loss.
So there is it, I finished undefeated at the WTC for the first time ever and am hugely proud of how well we played as a team. 5-1 is a fantastic record in an event which features most of the best players in the world. Overall finishing 4th out of 50 as a team and 3rd out of 150 individually is an achievement I'll never forget.
The next WTC will be in Slovenia and I highly recommend going to it if you can, on a national team or as part of a United Nations team. It's one of the best experiences you can have in miniatures gaming and you get to meet so many amazing people from around the world.
The views and opinions expressed in Tales from the Pitch are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Longshanks.
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