Indian Summer is over and I had a blast! 6 games against a wide range of lists and factions. Some well known, some less known. Instead of focusing too much on the games I'll try and look at the bigger picture here. Where are we? What is the current meta? Who should we look out for? What Cygnar pairings can I go for?
First of all, Indian Summer was a fairly small event with lots of small, local metas converging for the sole purpose of playing a nice tournament. Before basically everyone switched from Warhammer this tournament had a well-earned and deserved reputation for being a really nice tournament with a great atmosphere and a laid-back attitude. This must also be kept in mind when we evaluate what worked and what didn't here. For example there was only a single Retribution player I believe and he played Helynna + Rahn in ADR. I also don't think I saw any Butcher3's or Vlad1's. I could be wrong on both accounts. Regardless, natural variance like this skews what works well and what doesn't, as always.
So what did people play and what did perform well? The Circle player I lost to in the 5th game took the tournament with a 6-0 record, pairing Wurmwood and Kromac2. He faced Cygnar no less than 3 games, taking down Stryker3, Haley2 (my list) and Haley2 (Stormclad + Trenchers instead of Stormwall). There is no doubt that Wurmwood is a powerful caster and now that the Circle players are figuring out how to build him and get the most out of him (not to mention play him), it's becoming increasingly hard for us Swans. The problem with Wurmwood in my experience is three-fold: You have to be able to deal with Sentry Stones, Stranglehold and Feat. Haley2 struggles with the former two. Don't get me wrong she's not amazing against him when he feats, but her own feat can accomplish more than his given the right situation. The combination of sentry stones buying incredible amounts of space and hiding out a ton of his army and Stranglehold threatening to "Haley2 feat" you makes it very hard to capitalize on her angles.
Apart from Wurmwood, Cygnar did very well. I placed 2nd and a friend of mine, Tor Egil (which I played in Game 4 - battle report is here) from www.playtestedforyears.com took 3rd. There was also a Cygnar player in 7th place with a 4-2 run. In 4th place we had Cryx, an interesting pair of Skarre1 and Coven. I believe the Cryx players will eventually find what works well for them and despite the salt there will be viable builds. Ending up 4th place is of course a testament to the player's skill as well. I believe he lost vs the winning Circle player as well.
The Protectorate was a popular faction but unfortunately didn't do too well. The ones at Indian Summer at least struggled heavily with Cygnar, more notably Haley2. The initial optimism at the start of Mk. 3 has drained away somewhat. Part of this possibly has to do with us swans adapting to a new playstyle for Haley2 as well though to be fair. I have a scheduled set of games against Christian, my regular Protectorate opponent (which I played in Game 1 - battle report is here) on Thursday and we have dojo'd a couple of interesting concepts which are solely made to be played into Haley2. This should be very interesting for both parties involved: The best part about this for me is that if it indeed works, I get to play it a lot and thus have more experience before meeting it in tournaments. Haley2 is a huge problem for Protectorate players and I can assure you that if there exists a silver bullet for them to counter her, they will find it.
Overall I see the control casters being on top. The ones dominating the top tables typically have Fury/Focus 7 or more and very strong abilities. The question is whether a stronger showing from factions like Khador, Retribution and possibly Skorne could have changed this. It's very hard to say and I really don't know, but it's important to remember the other top dogs as well and not just focus on the top X in any one given event.
What's up for me next? I want to start playtesting Haley1 and Haley3. I don't want to change up my Haley2 list just yet. I need more data on Wurmwood (both personal experience and meta-wise to understand what he'll end up looking like) at least before I make a decision. The Haley2 list I play now has been unchanged for a long time now for a reason: It just works damned well where it's meant to. Circle have other problematic casters as well, for example Kromac1, so I'm trying to look at perhaps handling this with the other caster anyway. The aforementioned Haley1 and Haley3 could both be interesting here. Haley1 can deal with Stones by way of GMCA and Stormwall/Storm Lances and Stranglehold through Arcane Vortex. Haley3 has a couple of interesting options against Sentry Stones and I don't think dealing with Trenchers is trivial for Wurmwood. Also Ghost Walk helps against his feat.
In a little less than 3 weeks I'm going to Iron Moot in Gothenburg, Sweden. I'm playing both two- and three list events there and I really don't know what I'll pair yet. I know I'll take Haley2 (shocker). I feel like I understand and play Caine2 and Sloan well enough to at least bring them. If I can manage enough games with Haley1 and/or Haley3 as well in the meantime I could bring all 5 casters and decide from day to day basically what to play. Hopefully I can make a strong showing and get some more answers as to what works, what doesn't, and what I'll need to practice more with towards the WTC and ClogCon!