It’s that time of year again!
No, not ETC. We all know the ETC is coming – it hangs over the scene like a London smog, exciting a vigorous minority and reducing as many to grumble about why the Europeans don’t just play “Proper Warhammer”. I expect somewhere in the States people are complaining about how the team was selected – come to think of it am surprised there has not been another thread about the States getting more than one team when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland gets to field four. Still time for that, but someone had better step up, time is running out, and traditions are important!
Though speaking of ETC traditions, the build up, in the UK at least, has been rather muted – a product, I am sure, of the fact that fewer podcasters are attending, and that Mr Curry has taken a break from podcasting on some spurious “having a baby” grounds. Mark likes to waffle on about two colour blending, and as we all know painting is the devil’s hobby, we can ignore that.
But anyway, this is not about the ETC, but rather, that other great Summer tradition – me missing the Midlands GT.
I have been to this event twice, and each time it has, for various reasons, it has been one of my favourite events of the year (it was the birthplace of the Best Vermin Lord icon!). And then I decided to get married within a week of it and missed a year. Little did I consider that the whole concept of “anniversaries” would impact future events – I should really have read the marriage event pack.
Not everyone is as ‘blessed’ as I though, and the tournament, despite some key personnel changes, is boasting a full field – plenty of ETC players getting some last minute practice in, plenty of gamers with no concerns about an upcoming weekend of deploying in opposite corners and shaking on a 10-10 ready to smash some face. All in all, it looks set to be another good event.
The organisers did something I really like – they released the closed lists for the event. This allows for the much loved pouring over lists and the fun and games that brings with it – apart from those going to the ETC of course, who are, generally speaking, by now completely over the “fun” of list reading.
The event itself is the now sort-of-standard Battle line + Missions type affair. I like this, and if taken seriously (as it should be!) it has its own pseudo-comping effect on some lists.
I thought we should try something a bit different this time. Assembling a crack team of Warhammerers I thought (well, it was Mikey’s idea really, but I am taking the credit, I’m sneaky like that) it would be fun to get their predictions on the field. More specifically, with a focus on Best in Race – which is where the real fun always is. If the “A Team” is anything to go by, the key to assembling a crack team is knowing how to find them, though thankfully due to twitter this wasn’t all that hard a challenge.
Jake Corteen (not attending): Long term friend of the blog, all round Warhammer brain who taught me pretty much all I know about Lizardmen (mainly that lots of naked Skink Chiefs are not > Warhammer), now off dabbling in the far more enticing depravities of Dark Elves. Known by various names, none of which are (yet): Pusher Of Kroak, Lamenter Of Raf’s Lists, Scourge Of Sheffield, 40k Dabbler (shush with with boos and hisses, we are all friends here!) and a fully blown Doctor of something technical or other.
Hristo Nikolov: Captain Bulgaria, friend of the blog (and chief nagger when I don’t post for a while), Commander of the Corner and, as a long time Dwarf player, someone who has watched a lot of people play Warhammer for years. Has recently been spotted stretching himself, using all those hours of watching Warhammer into practice and using other armies. Let’s not talk about #InsectGate.
Craig Johnson: The #FatCraig himself. Top ranked player in the UK (…) who stormed to the top of the rankings using a whole range of armies (podium-ing with Skaven, High Elves and, as he may mention on occasion, was the very first person to win a 60+ player event with the new Lizardmen) – until we made him take Dark Elves to the ETC and told him to, well, practice not rolling misfires on his Purple Suns. Bastiladon wrangler extraordinaire.
Mikey Newman: Chaos Dwarf Uberfuhrer (though nowadays playing a, well, Real, army), astonishingly good painter with a painting studio and everything (check out http://www.golempaintingstudio.co.uk/ ), top player who is at least partially responsible for the Elven filth we see everywhere, and, despite all that, is a thoroughly nice guy (though he is friends with #FatCraig AND Tom Mawdsley… so not sure what that says about him).
Terry Pike: Tzeentch’s Bridesmaid. Ranked number 2 in the rankings, *almost* UK Master this year and a master of all the flexible nuances provided by the Daemon book (sometimes he takes Kairos, sometimes he doesn’t). Goes to far too many tournaments for his own good (yes, I am bitterly jealous) and always expected to be there or thereabout at the business end of events. Like Hristo, his Daemonic gun line has allowed him to watch a lot of people play Warhammer over the years, so he should know what he is talking about.
So, without too much further waffling, the Best in Race predictions – in their own words*
*Any offense or litigation arising from what they say should be directed at them!
JAKE: Got to give this one to Luke Tranter, just because odd list or not, he knows exactly what he is doing with it.
HRISTO: Luke Tranter. Razorgors rule! Not sure why there is no Level 4, but the rest of that list is awesome, and can pick up the scenarios to boot. Plus the only competition is running jank monsters, so yeah.
MIKEY: Will Francis - for me the strength of the Beastmen book is in the big blocks + Wildform, Luke's, Razorgor is a decent list but really lacks something with no lvl4/Beast magic IMO
CRAIG: Luke Tranter. The Razorgor man himself, 21 Razorgor looks rubbish, but he's used it a lot, so obviously knows something we all don't. That, and double Beastlord. We all know Beastlords are OP right?
TERRY: Luke Tranter - Always seems to do well with his off the wall random Beast lists, missions should be easy with all the units.
JAKE: Goes to Jak Spedding, especially if he plays Tom Mawdsley at some point. I do like Paul Whitehead’s list though, no trebs or not.
HRISTO: Neil Littlewood. Good well-rounded list, have seen similar in action and they are underrated. The other two lists are either missing trebuchets, or gimmicky 3-lord affairs.
MIKEY: Jak Spedding - I find Brets easy to manage in today's avoidance/MSU Warhammer, Jack’s extra units pose a challenge to this style of lists.
CRAIG: Neil Littleword. DWELLERS! And he's not Jak Spedding. Therefore he has my vote. [Raf: there is a logic to this…]
TERRY: Neil Littlewood - Has Life, Dwellers the world! [Raf: noticing a theme here…]
JAKE: Will Goodwin takes this – Death magic is just stronger than Hashut in most lists, and his has a lot more flexibility and options than the more one-dimensional offerings of the other players.
HRISTO: Will Goodwin. Yawnfest of a list, but the competition is weird though, relying on templates and Iron Deamons, both wrong for the meta IMO. Option B: not giving a crap who wins this, because its #NotARealArmy [Raf: could not have put it better myself]
MIKEY: Will Goodwin - has everything I look for in a CD list, rockets, Hellcannon, Kdaii, Tauruk, no Iron Daemons, Chaff, etc
CRAIG: Kieran Showell. I know the other two. They're both rubbish. That, and magma cannons are getting super popular at the minute. And I want to know why.
TERRY: Will Goodwin - Strong list, may struggle with the missions though
Daemons of Chaos
JAKE: A tight call here with several strong contenders. BenJ knows exactly what he is doing with that MSU build. Barrie Norman’s list looks consistent and strong. I’ve played against Luke Morton’s list enough to know just how hard it is, and he and I wrote something similar to Terry’s list and seriously considered taking it to something – the Exalted Flamers are very very good. I’m going to tip Luke here as he’ll be sad at me otherwise [Raf: can’t argue with that], but it’s ultra-close between him and Terry.
HRISTO: Terry Pike. What the f is an exalted flamer? It must be bent for him to be taking 3 [Raf: agreed!]. It probably casts Dwellers as abound spell on a 3+ #NotARealUnit
MIKEY: Luke Morton - only 1 skill cannon and no flies! But a big Nurgle block with 3 heralds is hard to shift + Fate Weaver!
CRAIG: Purely on list - Gaz Taylor. That list is awesome against quite a few armies around, but I think Luke's Kairos and luck could see him through in this too.
TERRY: Luke Morton - Kairos + Wall of Nurgle, no one will get points out of it unless they have Sun/Pit
JAKE: Lots of similar lists here, the comp really pushed the Dark Elves in one particular direction. I reckon Craig’s list is the most consistent, but Brian Carmicheal’s MSU could if it gets a good run be a surprise contender, and Tim Joss’ offering is also very solid indeed. I’m going to give it to Craig.
HRISTO: Marcus Lake. Running something pretty near to his ideal uncomped list I believe, plus modified to take the scenarios into account. And he wrecked people at the 6 Nations with something similar, so clearly better than the other ETC Dark Elf tryhards as a player :P I didn't even read the other lists.
MIKEY: Marcus Lake. Double Warlocks. 3 pegs. Steed lvl4 Death +Dreadlord! Good Core. Best list here for me. Plus he's got a turkey.
CRAIG: Me. ‘Cos I'm awesome. That, or Andy Potter who's taking that list to ETC and will have played a ton of games with it. Yeah, let's go with the Master. Andy Potter.
TERRY: Marcus Lake - Marcus will get drunk and then do well, as he always does lol
JAKE: I reckon David Seago’s list does what Dwarfs (dwarves? [Raf: don’t get this started!]) do best – score some points with artillery then not go anywhere, standing up to whatever opponents can throw at them combat wise. The other lists are tricksier, but give up points more easily. David has it.
HRISTO: Rupert Read. With Midlands Dwarf comp, everybody is a loser in this category :( but this list takes a good shot at it. David Seago's is actually probably better in games (big fan of the dual lord!), but it makes no attempt at the scenarios, flushing lots of TPs down the drain; the third list has no war machines and footslogging across at M3 is bad times.
MIKEY: Andrew Smith. 4 big Dwarf blocks, and 6 chaff units. No war machines! But if he has plenty of vanguard, played right this could pose a big problem to a lot of armies
CRAIG: "Who has the most war machines?" David Seago to pip Rupert Read [Raf: logical, I like it].
TERRY: Andrew Smith. Looks like all those will be vanguarding up, should do well in missions, Dwarf combat will catch people out
JAKE: Mike Newman’s list is well-known to be strong, and will do well. Lots of respect for Lee Madeley for that list. I think the front runners here are Oliver Rowan and Tom Mawdsley, and Tom’s list is just that little bit more finely tuned, so Tom gets my vote (unless he plays Jak Spedding).
HRISTO: Mike Newman. Light council, with a Loremaster for flexibility, in a probably-bannered-white-lions-unit, and chaff. Light beats the new meta (magic missiles > elves) and the old meta (banishment > DoC / WoC).
MIKEY: Josh Heald - really like the idea of massive BoTWD WL unit with characters, backed up by Star Dragon, Frosties and couple of RBTs - plus plenty of archers and Reavers
CRAIG: Alex Read has read the ETC lists evidently...but I'm going to back Tom Mawdsley's Star Dragon to go fecking nuts and win at Warhammer, but finish one place behind Mikey Newman [Raf: lol :)].
TEERY: Mike Newman - Light Council, WL Bus, rounded list, should be able to do the missions and get big points
JAKE: Kim Hughes, Matt Hinton and Nav Hussein all get respect for their lists – once again the ‘boring’ book produces more list variety than many. This said, the tried and tested formula probably is better, and I reckon Adam Daly has the strongest example of it. Dan Heelan and Jonathon Chester also have good lists, but I don’t hugely rate the Saurus personally, preferring the Skink Cohorts in core. Adam has my vote.
HRISTO: Dan Heelan. 4 Slaan lists, of which this is the only one with Deliberations (and Saurus!) and is therefore the best one; bastilladon is nice as well. Bus and Special Character gimmicks are interesting, but not as effective.
MIKEY: Adam Daly. He's got more Skinks, more Temple Guard and Tetto [Raf: I literally can't argue with that]
CRAIG: Why are Basties still so unpopular?!? I'm going to back the man Dan Heelan for being the only one totting one of my favourite laser beam carrying monsters.
TERRY: Nav Hussain - Quadra Steg + Life, love it
JAKE: Adam Jones has the strongest list here – two big blocks that are hard to shift and few easy points to score. A close second to Mark Borland. Lots of Leadbelchers about, but I reckon they’ll give up points too easily to dedicated hunter units.
HRISTO: Mark Boreland. Not much variety here, although Mr Boreland probably has the (by a very small margin) best version of the more or less standard list, and is a contender for being the best Ogre player there.
MIKEY: Hristo. Think the leadbelchers make a big difference vs Elves. Add in double Ironblaster and big Mournfang unit and think he has all bases covered
CRAIG: Where have they all come from?!? [Raf: I know, right?! It’s madness!] Love Hristo's list. Let's go with him.
TERRY: Donal Taylor - Played this list at the pillage, hard to get points from if you don't have the right magic or your cannons do 0 wounds! [Raf: beware his Hellhearts, that’s all I’m saying!]
Orcs & Goblins
JAKE: Wow, some unusual stuff here for once – not the expected green dwarfs at all! I’m going to pick Zack Martin, whose army is probably less fragile than some of the others.
HRISTO: Patrick O'Sullivan. O&G players generally went for Special Character abuse (completely negating the fact their lists were quite cool otherwise), so as a SC hater, I hope the all lose! Paddy didn't mess around and went for standard filth.
MIKEY: Zack Martin. One unit of 50 orcs, 3 units of trolls, Gorbad - try killing all that quickly! Just need to keep Gorbad alive....
CRAIG: Dave Sweeting. It's a proper O&G list. Good lad [Raf: stunning army as well, for what that’s worth (nothing)].
TERRY: Andi Avery - Will be hard to get points from this list, can do missions well, solid player
JAKE: Three very similar builds from Mark Wildman, Matt Sewell and Simon Clifford. I think Mark’s is marginally stronger, and he has the form, so gets my vote.
HRISTO: Rob Smith. Vermin Lord comp allowing you to ignore other restrictions is a goldmine, so kudos to Rob being the only filthmonger to take double HPA - with a combat list to run behind the pair! Even if this goes down, it will submarine right back up as it wrecks the low tables.
MIKEY: Andrew Tunnadine - yes he's got a Vermin Lord. But he's also got 2 Doomwheels, an Abomb and 20 gutter runners!!
CRAIG: Mark Wildman. I love him. He's my hero. Him and Matt Sewell copying one another to almost identical lists, it's between those two.
TERRY: Mark Wildman - Mark will ride the luck train all weekend! Unless he gets distracted by all the fake gays
JAKE: I like Kev Weaver’s approach the best – balanced, sticks to what is known to work, has a relentless magic phase. Stuart Hawkins’ build is in a way similar, but I prefer the Life/Light Lv4 pair to the Altar+Heavens approach Stuart has taken. Kev has it (ban him! [Raf: we keep trying, he keeps turning up anyway!]).
HRISTO: Olly Walters. Double Tank Yo. And some other stuff, but mostly double Tank. How only one person took a pair I'll never know
MIKEY: Kev Weaver. Lvl4+light council, 2 units of Demi's, Cannon, Stank, Hellblaster - hits all the right notes for me
CRAIG: As much as I love Kieran Lambert's list, and I think Kev Weaver's list is solid, I think Olly Walters with the double Steam Tank will pretend he's playing 40k with his tanks and finish above the others.
TERRY: Dom Pemberton - See him on the top tables a lot at the moment, appears to play better when drunk, should get 20-0 win game 3 easily
JAKE: I actually don’t like any of the TK builds much [Raf: ouch!]. Ed Symons’ list is probably the best of a dubious bunch.
HRISTO: Adrian Downey. Arkhan the Black, with Light council advisers. Adrian fit more snakes in than the other guys, so he wins.
MIKEY: Ed Symons. Arkan and light council, plenty of chaff/cheap units and big Necroknight and Tomb Guard blocks. Seems solid, only 2 catapults across 3 TK armies though?
CRAIG: A list with Arkhan will defo win. I think Ed Symons has a bit more chaff, and his list is a tiny bit more solid, but missing the catapults of Nick's. I'll stick with Ed though.
TERRY: Ed Symons. lvl5 death + light council, should just pewpew the world off, also has a Daemon chump first round for a free win
JAKE: An odd bunch again – I’ve not added the points up but wonder if Ieuan Morrigan’s list is missing a cav unit. Russ Harris and Andrew Whelan are the frontrunners – I think I’m going to give it to Whelan, with Russ’ lack of magic, and lack of a great weapon on the vamplord, likely to cost him.
HRISTO: Andrew Wheelan. Manfred + double TG being a big gaping comp loophole, and the only other Manfred riding on a nightmare for some reason, means Andrew wins the list race.
MIKEY: Adam Lake - blender lord (I assume) in Black Knight bus, double Hexwraiths and Terroghiest + all the chaff in the world (well 12 units) means this will be quite the headache for his opponent
CRAIG: Andrew Whelan. There's 2 Manfred double T-Gheist lists, and his is slightly better in my opinion! And special characters are OP.
TERRY: Dan Broxholme - Don't really like any of the vamp lists, but Dan is a solid player and should be able to do the missions with his list
Warriors of Chaos
JAKE: Some real love for the Mark of Slaanesh on show here. I reckon this one falls down to Chris Legg vs Chris Appleford, and I think Leggy can fight through the waves of High Elves better.
HRITO: Chris Legg. Almost gave this to the Slaanesh hellstrider star, before I realised they it has no wizard levels whatsoever. Shame, if the non-BSB hero was a sorcerer, it would have had my vote by far. From the rest of the boring pile, Leggy will probably come out on top.
MIKEY: Chris Appleford. Double Hellcannon, double Chimera, Daemon Prince - does what it says on the tin.
CRAIG: Chris Legg. I've heard he's proper good at Warhammer, and his list looks mediocre.
TERRY: Chris Legg - Smash people off the table list and play style, think he'll struggle with missions though only having 1 scoring unit
JAKE: Shahrul Azmi has the strongest list there, with a good mix of firepower, mobility, magical output and combat punch, and should come top wood elf.
HRISTO: Shahrul Azmi. I'd like to say I gave this to Shahrul, because he has a nasty teleporting Sister-star with 6 levels of death magic, backed up by lots of shooting, and 3 nasty units of 6 wild riders to charge and evaporate things - but, whilst this is all true, it was all retrospective. I just removed everyone who had a forest spirit in their list, and Shahrul was the only one left standing.
MIKEY: Joshua Townley. Strength of the book is in Shadow (has a lvl4) Moonstone (in his 27 eternal guard?) Wildriders (2x6) and Waywatchers (2x9)
CRIAG: If any form of trees = no. Which only leaves Shahrul Azmi [Raf: Simple, brutal, and correct].
TERRY: Sharul Azmi - Teleporting Death Sister Bus, will retain points well, breeze through most missions, loads of shooting for the 18 HE players
So there we have it, some of the greatest minds in Warhammer available and their thoughts on the best in race. Summarised the predictions on below – lots of pressure on the clear favourites – will they live up to the challenge?!
Only time, skill, dice and hangovers will tell. The event kicks off tomorrow, so will be interesting to see who, if any, got their predictions right.
On a side note, some of the team put together some top 3 predictions – for what they are worth!
1 – Chris Legg will just keep on grinding his way to the top.
2 – Tom Mawdsley’s fast-moving aggression should see him do well.
3 – Kev Weaver’s Empire just has a lot of answers for metagame problems.
(4-5 – one of Luke and Terry ought to be in the top few with those horrid Daemons.)
1st: Marcus Lake, because his army breaks the comp and he knows how to play it.
2nd: Terry Pike, because he somehow wins things
3rd: Dan Heelan, because Saurus
Top 3. I think it's going to come from Dark Elves, Wood Elves and High Elves. Just to prove that elves are super OP. So here's my predictions...
1st - Andy Potter
2nd - Shahrul Azmi
3rd - Tom Mawdsley
(Which means Mikey Newman is 4th according to my predictions).
Top 3 in no particular order:
Mike Newman - has everything needed in the list: buffs, missiles, shooting, combat, scoring units. Strong player with a well-rounded list, would be surprised if Mike didn't finish top 10.
Sharul Azmi - has scoring units, avoidance, shooting, death. Shouldn't give up to many points while the Sister bus ports around everywhere purple sunning the world and sniping out characters, the 3 units of wild riders should mow through most units getting the big points as well.
Luke Morton - has units to complete missions, Wall of Nurgle, Kairos, won't give up many points at all, should be able to grind through anything with the buffs Kairos can hand out. If he plays anyone with Death/Shadow he will struggle, initiative 1 on Kairos makes him a 5/6 dice priority on Sun/Pit every turn.
Good luck to everyone involved!
Until next time…