søndag 17. januar 2016

NM2016 - Prologue

Preparing for the Norwegian Masters was the main goal of my games last year. I started with Haley2 right off the bat when I chose Cygnar because I realized she was a safe bet (i.e. strong caster). Since then, I've never looked back.

The question was how to develop the list pair. While Haley is great, she has her weaknesses. As I eventually (and luckily!) found it (in time for NM), optimizing her list made for some hard pairings. Consider MMM-type of lists or Bradigus, or even Legion. Running into these with Haley2 + Thorn + Stormwall is not something I'm comfortable doing, especially not when stuff like Lylyth2 is in ADR. I originally paired Haley2 with Stryker1, the latter taking double Stormwalls, and while I did have an answer to most lists on paper, I found that actually pairing became a bit of a headache. Consider Circle for example. With Bradigus and Krueger2, what do you drop? The wrong pairing here is disastrous.

So it was that I landed on Haley2 with double Stormwall and Caine2. Rather than optimizing Haley's list and having a backup caster along with her, I decided on a different approach: Have both lists equally "important", with different matchups, goals and strengths. Assuming I meet a normal distribution in a tournament they should both see play without me being list-locked. In this pair I found that Haley's power was significantly weakened. Without an arc node you really can't make her shine in the same way. Thorn amplifies her power tremendously and while 8 points is a steep cost, I believe it's well worth it. The thing is though that she managed to hold her own in the matchups I needed her to and the pairing was a lot easier. Haley with doublewall + atgm + tac can handle for example a pairing like Krueger2 + Bradigus: In my experience she has game into both.

Practicing Caine2 became a top priority for me and I managed to get in quite a few games with him. Although some of them were at 35 points and that is a whole other game than 50 points, it taught me how he plays, what he's good at and what he needs. My Haley game is still miles ahead of my Caine game, the casters play so differently and I have tons more experience with Haley. I also "understand" her a lot better.

So anyway, onto NM. With 4 final practice games this week, 2 with Caine and 2 with Haley, I was as ready as I could get.

For my first game I got Trollbloods, MMM-list with Grissel1 and the typical Doomshaper3 variant. I dropped Haley and received Grissel1 in return.

Game on!
As I have never played against Grissel before this was... An interesting game to say the least. Without spoiling too much, this was one of the closest game I had all tournament.

For my second game I was paired up against Retribution. My opponent had Rahn and Issyria with specialists so I dropped Caine. In my experience he is a very effective choice against this faction.

Chaos ensues as both sides try and swarm the table as best they can.
A scenario without killbox allows for the troop-heavy lists to really use the table to its full potential, however it also allows Issyria to escape an otherwise tricky situation. This was a game where I found multiple openings but also felt how destructive Retribution can be when they hit their stride.

For my third game I got Legion, in one of the worst possible scenarios: Fire Support. Fire Support is shit for me because it's so slow, has killbox and last but not least there are 2 elements preventing my Stormwalls from protecting Haley optimally unless I can get past them. I was up against a Vayl2/Saeryn1 pairing and I'll never drop Caine here because I just don't think he can survive. Luckily, Haley won the roll-off and instantly chose T1.

Haley manages to establish a somewhat decent position based on winning the roll-off. 
The game swung back and forth with tenacity being a huge deal and 2 big mistakes (1 each) shaping the game massively.

The last game of day 1 was against Legion as well. Prior to NM I was hoping to avoid Trolls, Retribution and Legion in particular. Thus far, I had met nothing else. This matchup was even worse: Lylyth2 with specialists allows Legion to bring insane amounts of shooting.

My opponent is kind enough to teach me why you don't advance >7" if you get T1...
A terrible start had me really searching my brain for options. Was there an opening? How?

Day 2, game 1. Yet again I draw Retribution. This was anticipated as there were many Retribution armies in my vicinity. Rahn/Issyria came up and I dropped Caine2 again, expecting Issyria but instead getting Rahn.

Another chaotic battle with tons of models! 
This was easily one of the most crazy games I've played. The game ended with one player having 30 seconds left, the other 5 minutes. Combined we had 10 models left on the table and the scenario score was 5-4. Incredible game!

For my very last game I finally got a faction I feel I'm up against. While Haley has game into Trolls & Legion I feel it's often an uphill battle. Caine2 is often up against Retribution but I lack experience with him and can't fully utilize his abilities (more on this matter later). Menoth is a faction I've played a lot against and in my experience this is in Cygnar's favour. My opponent had Durst with jack-spam and Harbinger with dude-spam. I dropped Haley which I'll drop against most Menoth lists and much to my surprise, he chose Durst. I was surprised by this because in my experience it's incredibly hard to out-brick Haley. Her feat + Time Bomb and the shooting power of the Stormwalls typically allows her to choose when and where to engage. The bond + temporal acceleration pretty much guarantees alpha as well. Durst however has some pretty crazy defensive abilities and I've never played against him before.

I do something I don't normally do: I put Temporal on the bonded 'wall T1 as I want to establish a skewed battleline. 
I had a plan in this game which I managed to execute flawlessly for the first couple of turns. Would it be enough against the crazy amount of boxes and arm that Durst brings to the table?

All in all I had a blast, 6 great games, tons of new experiences, lots to analyze and learn and a performance I'm proud of. Stay tuned for reports!

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