Last year I started playing Warmachine & Hordes. Best decision ever! I had quite a few years with other miniature games behind me but before I had even learned the rules properly I was completely hooked. I'm obviously a very competitive player and I always have been. A great part about this game in particular is the community. Whenever I go abroad I find people who want to have quality games and who can be super competitive while staying friendly and fair.
Follow the Norwegian Masters in January I realized I was at a level where I could nearly go toe to toe with some of the best players in the game. I faced two highly skilled Swedes and managed to win one of the games. The other was extremely close. I was the only Norwegian player to make it undefeated to game 5 (out of 6). I finished the tournament with a 5-1 record. What stood out to me though, more than my own surprising result, was how incredibly good the games were. Everything about them were amazing. Fast forward a couple of months and I find myself in Lund, playing the Swedish Masters. Again it's the same, really good games with friendly people. At the Lund convention (Battle at Lund) I also made two German players and a Danish one. Same all over. This struck me as weird as in Warhammer I was used to facing people who were not pleasant at all to play against every now and then. Unfortunately. In any case, I won the Swedish Masters and received an invitation to the European Invitationals at ClogCon. Thinking about this for a short while I decided I'd either have to go all in or leave it be. I decided to commit. Everything I have done since that has been with the European Invitationals in mind.
Let's talk lists and tactics! The Haley2 list I played in Mk. 2 was absolutely, positively bat-shit broken beyond belief. On paper it was underwhelming. In practice it was devastating. Most players, even the very good ones, got it wrong. Patrick Dunford helped me get on track with Haley3 to complete my pair and that was in my opinion the strongest pairing in Mk. 2 by a mile. I was pretty sure all I had to to do was practice my ass off to have the best possible shot at ClogCon. Then Mk. 3 hit of course and we were back to scratch. Haley2's biggest strength was completely taken away: Her ability to never commit and just keep attritioning. I realized this fairly quickly and learned to adapt my play accordingly. As early as June I already landed on the basics which I've stuck with ever since: Thorn, Stormwall, Ironclad, min. Lances and support.
The problem was figuring out what to play with Haley2. I started off with Sloan. Oh my the first games were fun. The meta had not landed yet, nobody knew what to play and I was just pew-pewing things left, right and center. Problems quickly mounted up though, Lylyth3, Wurmwood and Makeda2 kitkat were all lists she did not enjoy playing into. I tried to go with Caine2 for a while but given my Haley2 list I could not for the life of me play decently into Wurmwood, who at this point in time had emerged as the number one bad boy in town. I kept losing to him both in practice games and in tournaments, something had to be done. I first tried to tweak the Haley2 list a bit to better play into him but I found out that it was not really playable once Wurmwood understood the list and could adapt.
The switch to Haley3 followed Olov Winroth's success at Iron Moot. He beat some really good players there, including Tom Guan and his Wurmwood list, with Haley3. Now, I know Olov quite well. I think he's capable of beating any player in the world. However I saw most of this game live as my game ended early and they were playing on the table next to me and it was just such a brilliant one from Olov. However, even in Mk. 2 where Haley3 was almost as broken as Haley2 because of the Revive angles I was never anywhere close to as comfortable with Haley3 as I am with Haley2 or even Caine2 (another caster I really enjoy playing). However results speak for themselves and I simply had to grind, grind and grind to understand Haley3.
The first games were miserable. I was ashamed of my play and hardly even wanted to put the reports up. Not that I wanted to hide my play from anyone, but it was actually painful watching my own horrible moves at times. It might sound weird but situations like that also motivate me. I'm always looking to improve, to optimize, to analyze. There was plenty to work with! A few dozen games later and it was starting to look better and I was ready for ClogCon.
I arrived at ClogCon on Friday night. I spent a game watching Patrick Dunford try out Haley2 vs Olov Winroth's Mad Dogs. A quick and one-sided game showing off how important it is to truly know a matchup. On Saturday I got two really, really good games in against Olov's Mad Dogs and Robin Maukisch's Una2. The final practice games were done and it was time for the real deal. Literally over 200 games and at least as many hours spent writing, contemplating, analyzing this game had gone into my preparations since Lund.
Let me pause for a minute and write a few words about ClogCon. I do not know how many times I've gone travelling to play with miniatures. I've lost count. ClogCon is without a doubt the best event I have ever been to. By a mile. The venue was amazing, it is simply miles beyond anything else I've ever attended. Take a look at these pictures:
It was spacious, the noise was low (nearly non-existant), the air was good, the food was amazing (and there was plenty to go around!), sleeping arrangements were good, travel to and from the airport was easy and free. We also had a dedicated bar a few feet away from our gaming tables. Awesome! I simply cannot compliment this event enough. If you are planning your events for 2017, make ClogCon your first priority. I've spoken with the organizers and they've already booked the same venue. I know I'm going and I can highly recommend you do the same.
Back to the European Invitationals! For my first game I was playing vs Cryx. Haley3 did what she does best and I came out ahead. It's always one game at a time and it's important to focus and ignore everything else. For this game I really managed to do that, keep my cool and bring it home despite a bit of a disaster early game. The second game saw me play on stream in a mirror match vs Sloan. My opponent went for a very aggressive deployment which I managed to neutralize and defeat with a textbook Haley2 scenario play. The third game, well, the third game was simply a nightmare where dice saved me. For the finals I got the worst of the worst: Scenario being Incursion and going second against an optimized Una2 list? Those of you've followed this blog for a while know that I am crazy about finding angles. Whether I go for them or not, I always consider the plays I have available. To master Haley2 you really need to spot these angles. Haley3 has some pretty cool plays as well which I indeed managed to get off here to bring home the title.
Winning the European Invitationals was an indescribable feeling. So much work coming to fruition. On top of this, every game I played the entire weekend was a good game. All of my opponents were great sports, a special shoutout to Marcin for taking it well that his dice completely did not agree with him. There were also solid plays and a high average quality level. Win at all costs, but in a fair and relaxed environment.
The rest of the Norwegian squad also performed very well. We took home two more tournament wins and several podium finishes. An amazing weekend for us and an important boost to our morale following the abysmal results we had at this year's WTC.
So... Now what? We have started preparing for WTC 2017. It's not a lot of scheduled things going on just yet but it's a start. As part of that I will be continuing to play my serious lists. I won't delve too much into the meta for this post but to make a long story short I think Haley2 and Haley3 combine to make our best pair right now. My lists have been the same for multiple events in a row now and that's not because I've been lazy. I simply cannot find tweaks to optimize them further given my analysis and understanding of the game.
However, I have a challenge! I challenged a friend of mine to start playing Haley2. The deal was that I pick up Stryker3. I've already gotten in a couple of games with him. Not as many as I had hoped because there were things I needed to playtest for the Haleys, but it's a start. I just picked up an order today of multiple models solely bought for Stryker3. I will be trying out some different conceps with him to try and get a feel of how he plays. It would not be a real challenge if I did not commit to him so I will be playing Stryker3 at events in a couple of months now, which includes the Norwegian Masters in January. I haven't decided yet what to pair him with. Maybe I'll take the opportunity to try out some of my other list concepts and simply leave all the Haleys be for now. Maybe I'll try and optimize it with Haley3. I don't know yet. I do know however that I will be taking a break from the hyper-competitive mindset I've had since I decided to commit myself to the European Invitationals. That doesn't mean I'll stop playing or analyzing, it simply means I won't bother too much with finding an optimal pairing (not that I think it can be done with Stryker3 ^^) and that my time spent not playing/reporting is less likely to be spent in War Room. That app has stolen a hefty amount of my time! I'm open to ideas as well. I can't promise anything but I am looking to try out casters I haven't fielded before and concepts I haven't tested. Do note that I won't become a fluffbunny in any sense of the word, I'm simply open to new ideas if I believe they could be legit.
There is an errata coming in January. I originally intended for this piece to hold my thoughts on the matter but I decided against it. I simply don't think my voice matters that much (or at all) and an in-depth game analysis will be void in two months anyway. Instead, I'll simply say that I welcome the changes. The game overall has improved a lot I think. Currently there are a few outliers which are way over the top. Bringing them in line will help the game.
The beauty of playing Stryker3 until the errata is out is that I can basically reset in a new meta. I'll have a period of more casual gaming behind me and I'll be ready to try and find the new optimal pairing in Cygnar. Following the Norwegian Masters I am attending SmogCon in February and hopefully Lund in April, so it will be serious time again.
This was a big wall of text and if you've made it this far I can only thank you for taking the time. I guesstimate that 95% of my posts are battle reports, but after all this is still a blog. Every now and then I expect to do more fluff pieces. It's partly to clarify my own thoughts but also partly to help you understand how I think. Given my hyper competitive approach to the game it might sound counter-intuitive to spread my "secret tech", ideas and experiences like this where everyone can read them. In my experience though the benefits far, far outweigh the possible drawbacks. I get a ton of high-quality discussions and feedback for example. I also meet a lot of people who approach me at cons and want to discuss some of the things I've written or simply thank me for all the posts. I do my best to keep the quality on this blog high quality and truth be told, doing so helps me more than anyone else I believe. Once again, thank you for reading. This game is all about the community, I would not have put the time and effort into it if the people I meet had not been amazing to be around. I love the feedback and critical questions you have.
If we meet in real life, don't be a stranger.