Event Review: 2nd Place at GenCon
Earlier, this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend GenCon 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. As many of you who have been along the ride, I have been going to as many tournaments as I can possibly attend in order to complete my quest: win a Grand Clash trophy.
GenCon was a pretty entertaining experience. I had never been to a convention of that size and was truly taken aback by the fervor displayed by thousands upon thousands of tabletop and board game enthusiasts. While being transported from my hotel to the event, my Lyft driver told me that we had over 85,000 attendees that year. That's insane, in an awesome way.
While at GenCon, I met a myriad of wonderful people. I visited countless booths, engaged in plenty of small talk, and even demo'ed my fair share of games. A particular highlight was playing a very entertaining game of Wild West: Exodus.
In regards to the Underworlds event, I would like to give a shoutout to the following community members who I got to see. Shoutout to Duncan Bilz, Jonathan Lloyd, and Robert Schwarz, James, Steve, and Joey from Games Workshop, Luke Hartman, Sean and the Cincinnati Arsenal Gaming Club for putting on the event, and of course Jimmy Molini.
As the title implies, I fell short of title and placed second at the Warhammer Underworlds Grand Clash at GenCon. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and had fun during every single round of the tournament. The final against Jimmy and his Reavers was particularly tactically tense.
In this article, I will be sharing my experience at the Grand Clash. You can expect my deck list, why I chose certain cards, brief game summaries, and other musings.
To learn more about Thundrik's Profiteers and some general tactics on how to play them, visit one of my previous articles here.
So prepping for GenCon was interesting in the fact that I didn't really commit to going until the Tuesday prior to the tournament. As a result, not only did I feel a bit underprepared, I also paid for a more expensive flight and hotel than I should have. Note to self (and everyone really): book your traveling requirements well in advance!
So with four days to go before the event, I wracked my brain on exactly what warband to take, especially with this most recent BAR list putting a huge dent in my initial plans. I narrowed it down to the following four: Stormsire's Cursebreakers, Thorns of the Briar Queen, Godsworn Hunt, and the ever-faithful Thundrik's Profiteers.
So you're probably thinking, why those four? Well, good reader, let me tell you. After the update to the BAR list, I felt like the meta was turned on its head. Sure, there were some warbands that were still quite potent but I felt like there were a couple that would take my opponents by surprise. Furthermore, I wasn't sure what exactly to expect as this would be the first Grand Clash using the new BAR list. I really felt like these four could adapt to any opposing strategy and come out on top.
Stormsire's Cursebreakers: Despite the hit to their potent magical abilities, I still felt like the Stormcasts could hold their own. The intention was to play them similarly to the way I had piloted them at Adepticon. A bit more aggressive while relying on a similar score immediate strategy to win the day. At the end of the day, Ammis and Stormsire are still very solid fighters.
Thorns of the Briar Queen: With the recent shakeup, I felt like objective play would be on the rise. That specific play style hadn't really taken a hit and recent players across the globe had demonstrated the potential behind it. Plus, the Queen is a beast and can melt any opponent, even Mollog.
Godsworn Hunt: This warband was a bit of a 'dark horse'. Some would say they had peaked after the release of Power Unbound and were significantly hampered once the BAR dropped. I had a feeling I could take opponents unawares and to their displeasure, nuke them with the sheer damage output these wiry Darkoath are capable of. I will admit, there might have been heavy influence from Tom "King of Godsworn" Bond as well.
Thundrik's Profiteers: These guys were going to be automatic finalists just because of the sheer number of reps I have had with them. I love this warband and felt like they still had their bite despite the fact that they had lost access to a bunch of solid cards. Furthermore, I wanted to prove that they still could win a major event despite their perceived drop in power by the online community.
After a bit of playtesting with Jonathan Davis, Michael Carlin, Tom Bond, and Steven Housenick I narrowed it down to either Stormsire's Cursebreakers or Thundrik's Profiteers. As you can surmise from the photo above, I ended up going with the latter. The reasons for this were fairly simple: I was intimately familiar with them. As many people have said, "experience trumps everything."
Now that I had a warband - I had to build a deck. I took the list I had built for the Grand Skirmish at ATC and tweaked it a bunch. I felt pretty confident with it. The deck, in theory, did what it needed to and my initial playtesting went fairly well. I was cognizant of the fact that I was vulnerable to warbands that could just passively outscore me like the Thorns of the Briar Queen and Zarbag's Gitz while also being susceptible to warbands that could swiftly engage like Spiteclaw's Swarm, Garrek's Reavers, Magore Fiends, and Godsworn Hunt. Still, I felt like I could prevail with some smart micro decision making and a bit of luck.
It didn't work.
For some reason, the warband wasn't performing as consistently as I had hoped. I was getting smashed by Thorns, Gitz, and Godsworn - the warbands I was primarily concerned with. So, I went back to the drawing board and after a late night theory crafting session with Jonathan, my co-host on Path to Glory, the following deck was born:
I know what you are thinking. That's ballsy. Well, you aren't wrong.
The deck had evolved quite a bit and I decided to get of of Pit Trap for another easy to score objective, Calculated Risk. The glory engine felt a lot smoother and I was consistently scoring every card in the deck.
The build is also very reminiscent of old Farstriders lists and for good reason. I needed damage and accuracy. However, due to the many the accuracy cards that were now hit with the restricted tag, I opted for guaranteed damage.
Shardgale is perhaps the most controversial choice as I have two fighters, Ironhail and Alensen, who start off with two health. This would effectively put them each at a single hit-point after playing the card. Matters could potentially could worsen and I could even eliminate one of them if I had used them to trigger Calculated Risk (usually Alensen). In the end, I decided to keep the card for the sheer surprise factor. No one would see this coming and furthermore, I could seriously threaten the warbands I was having the biggest problem with. It would literally melt high model count warbands with low health.
Change of Tactics is fantastic in general and especially good with the Profiteers because it doesn't require you to hit your opponent. Sure, it can be a bit telegraphed but if you stick it on Khazgan, you have a threat range of seven. Escalation is a personal staple for me and fairly easy to score. Many play styles rely on getting their upgrades on their fighters quickly and with a bit of help from your opponent, it can be scored reliably. Victory After Victory is another personal staple in that it's really just a force multiplier. With eight score immediate objectives in the deck, this card was scored quite consistently.
Headshot is awesome as you're bound to roll a crit during the game, especially with an inspired Ironhail. Furthermore, I've had a couple cards that provided re-rolls should the desired roll elude you naturally. Seeking Advancement was a bit of a risky choice as two of the warbands I was expecting to see, Gitz and Godsworn, didn't have a four health fighter. Still, aggro is king in the US and I figured I'd have plenty chances enough to score it. Sound Finances works really well with this particular type of deck. I had actually never used it with the Profiteers before but I needed objectives that provided me more than one glory and this fit the bill quite well. Again, because I was planning on melting my opponents through attacks and gambits, it was quite easy to gain five unspent glory tokens.
I was really disappointed that Calculated Risk was restricted but I understood why. While playtesting, I actually had Warning Shot instead but ended up switching it for this card because it was guaranteed passive glory. It really helped with inspiring key fighters early on. Combination Strike is a must nowadays in this score immediate meta and because 3/4 of my deck consisted of score immediates, this one was a no brainer. Death From Afar, on paper, seems great for a ranged warband. However, it can sometimes lead to wonky plays when trying to score it as you must be three hexes away. Despite that, I ended up taking it anyways because it was effectively a two glory card (one for elimination and one for the score).
Get The Hence is awesome when you can actually get Ironhail to survive past round one and hit his opponent. The problem is that I only had a single way to score it. A previous rendition of the list did include Mutating Maul but I ended up cutting it for Prized Vendetta. Strong Start was also another interesting choice as I am more likely to lose either Ironhail or Alensen quite frequently, especially with Shardgale. Still, I felt like I could get a guaranteed elimination through the gambits I'd selected. I still think you could take Martyred over this but I dislike taking my own fighters out of action. What Armour? is a very good card with these fellas as both Lund and Bjorgen have innate cleave. The former also has it prior to inspiring.
At the end of the day, 16 glory still felt low to me even when I counted it as 17 due to Death From Afar. On second thought, the glory count could potentially jump up to 19+ with Crown of Avarice and Tome of Glories.
Still, the game plan was to eliminate so many enemy fighters that my opponent would struggle to score their own objectives.I felt confident I could get my glory count to respectable levels.
Also, does anyone know who the Champion is hitting in the card art for What Armour? - I've never been able to make it out.
Distraction is awesome because you can push an enemy fighter within range, out of charge distance, off an objective, or even into a lethal hex. Either way you spin it, it benefits you greatly. Fuelled by Fury is pretty mandatory when you really need your attacks to go through. Plus, despite being a fairly accurate warband, I've missed plenty of times on two attack dice. Hidden Paths provides your warband with much needed maneuverability. Whether using it offensively or defensively, it's a boon to these slow moving duardin.
Ready for Action is arguably the best gambit in the game because it offers you an extra attack or move action which is very powerful when each player only really has twelve. It can also function as an attack do-over should your initially attack or charge miss. Shardgale is, as I mentioned earlier, a bit of a wild card but one that I felt was needed in certain matchups. It's utterly devastating against larger warbands. Trap is a tried and true card that can reliably finish off enemy fighters especially when your warband has a hard time getting to four damage reliably. It's very good.
Seek the Skyvessel is a great faction card. It's similar to Ready for Action in that it allows you to get up to two extra move actions in a game. This can allow you to run away or get closer in your opponent's power phase so that you can shoot at them in yours. Toxic Gases is one of my favorite cards due to its unique design nature. You are effectively giving your opponent a bad choice. I like to to use when my opponent is within two hexes of a lethal hex. Either way, they are taking that damage. Encroaching Shadow and Lethal Ward help me get that ping damage up that is central to my game plan. Lots of people like to keep their important fighters near edge hexes which makes the former super easy to use. The latter functions a bit like Trap in that you can push an enemy fighter onto an objective hex and then finish them off. Furthermore, objective based warbands hate both!
Ancestral Fortitude is reliable like any another hit-point inducing upgrade. It's especially useful on Alensen and Ironhail. Rapid Reload was a bit of a last minute addition because again it relies on Ironhail being alive and being able to make attack to use it. Still, the idea of getting Shardgale off and then popping two enemy fighters in quick succession was a temptation I could not ignore. Crown of Avarice is probably the best upgrade in the game. It's essentially a two glory swing and allows you to be super aggressive with a fighter early on also while making any fighter, especially at the end of the game, a less attractive target. Either way, glory denial is huge.
Faneway Crystal operates very similarly to Hidden Paths as it effectively can be used as an initiator or escape tactic. I highly recommend you throw the card on in your opponent's power step so that their ability to respond is limited to only their hand. Don't forget you can use it with Seek the Skyvessel and Ready for Action as well. Fighter's Ferocity provides another damage boost in the game and lucky rolls can help finish opponents off quickly. Ideally, you want this on Ironhail but it works for everyone - especially Alensen and Khazgan's ranged attacks. Gloryseeker is a must have as it helps make short work of higher health fighters. Lund doing three damage with cleave is terrifying.
Potion of Constitution allows your fighters to whether the storm so that they can live for at least another activation. It also has the added benefit of keeping your three health fighters, inspired or otherwise, safe from Gloryseeker while still effectively giving you an extra hit-point. Potion of Rage provides you with some much needed accuracy at critical moments in the game so that you can score the objectives you need to. Tome of Glories is interesting in that it can provide you with at least one extra glory token each game. Faneway also helps with getting fighters onto objectives should you draw this late in the game. The dream is to get three extra glory and trust me, it can be done. Prized Vendetta is another accuracy boost that helps ensure key attacks hit. Keep in mind that the wording on the card is up for discussion. Clarify with your opponent, or better yet the TO, prior to your game starting. Personally, I've interpreted as you have to re-roll ALL the dice in the attack role.
GenCon was held at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was huge venue with hundreds of booths featuring all sorts of board, card, and tabletop miniature games. I didn't realize it, but GenCon is actually a pretty big deal - the locals knew all about it and loved the fact that it was hosted there every year. Fun fact: it's actually the state's largest convention.
On top of that, there were over 85,000 people in attendance which is awesome. Some people said that they estimated there were more than 100,00. Wow. Just wow.
I got to check out a bunch of booths and even got say hi to some of the Games Workshop Team at the Warhammer booth. A lot of cool items were on display, including ForgeWorld. I was very happy to see a large number of Underworlds products as well. It's nice to see GW promoting this game, especially at conventions. There was also a copy of Dreadfane on display but in a unfortunate turn of event, it was stolen!
The highlight of the convention outside of the Grand Clash, at least for me, was that the two new warbands from the Beastgrave starter set were on full display. The models looked fantastic online and ten times better in person. This was especially so for the Kurnothi warband, Skaeth's Wild Hunt. Being able to see them up close really demonstrated their unique character and fluidity. Kudos to the miniatures design team for some awesome looking models.
Here are some pics I snapped:
The Underworlds Grand Clash event was hosted on the Saturday and Sunday of the event. A huge shoutout to the Cincinnati Arsenal Gaming Club for putting on the event. The team were fantastic TO's and really ran the event smoothly.
There were a total of 26 players in the event which was a bit disappointing. Previous Grand Clashes in the US had over 75 players so I was bit dismayed to see the number of attendees take a dip. However, there are a lot of competitive tournaments at GenCon and it somewhat explains why the numbers were low here. Furthermore, traveling in the US can be fairly costly. Unlike smaller countries, there isn't a mass train system that can transport us all over.
I hope that in the future we see more players in competitive events here. Games Workshop is showing us tons of support and the game is fairly well balanced especially when you compare it to 40K and Age of Sigmar.
Despite the smaller number of participants, there was a fair variety of warbands in attendance. Every faction was represented aside from the Godsworn Hunt, Eyes of the Nine, Spiteclaw's Swarm and Steelheart's Champions. 11/16 isn't too bad!
Due to the lower than anticipated numbers (we had a bunch of no-shows), there was some debate on how the event should have been run. The intention was to host a two-day event but from a logistical perspective, it partially didn't make sense.
In the end, the TO decided to continue with the two-day format as many players, myself included, had prepared for the event in that regard as well as commit to buying a ticket to play over two days. Using the original template as a blueprint, it was decided that the top 20-ish percent of players would make it to day 2: the top 6 players.
I fully support that decision, despite some of the criticism that decision has faced online. The players built their decks and paid to play in a two-day format. A huge shoutout to the TO team for catering to their attendees. I am sure everyone will be back next year just based off that single act.
Interestingly, the new BAR list was not enforced at this event as its release was after the cutoff for the Grand Clash. Despite that, I believe all players bar two brought legal lists (one of them had banned cards 😂). All in all, that's awesome and goes to show how awesome our community is!
Note: I won't be able to provide detail play by plays as, for good reason, I was not able to take notes. I will do my best to generally summarize the matches while highlighting key moments.
Round 1: Sean - Ironskull's Boyz
My first game of the day was against a player named Sean and he was piloting his Ironskull's Boyz. He wasn't too keen on the matchup but felt like he had some cards that could take me unawares. I was excited and we rolled off!
I won board and opted with a diagonal setup. The plan was to funnel the Orruks one by one while still being able to deal with a Hidden Paths. As you can see from the setup, it would appear as if my opponent didn't have the card in hand. Things were looking good!
Unfortunately for my opponent, Sean really wasn't able to gain any steam. Things started slow as he marched up the board. I got an early Change of Tactics with Khazgan but that was really it. Going into round two, things picked up and it became a bit of a brawl albeit a one-sided one. I was able to take down his fighters fairly quickly and score some quick score immediate objectives. Game 1 went to me 11-1.
In game two, Sean won boards and set the boards straight up. Despite getting some early charges in, I was able to fend off the destructive band of warriors. Sean played his own Shardgale which heavily deterred me from playing my own copy. Still, I was able to cleave through his fighters efficiently. I won game 2, 18-2.
A special shoutout to Sean for being an awesome opponent despite playing a hard matchup. Again, I love our community.
Round 2: Mark - Ironskull's Boyz
In round two, I faced against another set of Ironskull's Boyz! I hadn't anticipated there to be any of the Orruks to be about and was surprised I got play two of them back to back. This time they were piloted by Mark. He was a very kind opponent and very excited to be there as this time, his son was also playing in the event, too.
Mark won boards and set things up slightly offset. Learning from my last game, I set up Khazgan somewhat aggressively. I wanted to get in there and cause some mayhem as it looked like Mark was headed right for Thundrik.
I expected to see a hyper aggressive style of play but was surprised when Mark started moving his Boyz onto objectives. As realization dawned on me, I couldn't really do anything about it. Khazgan had missed his attack role and I didn't draw Distraction. I braced for what was coming...
Mark scored Supremacy in the first phase!
After that, I started playing a bit more aggressively and started blasting Orruks. There was a power step where I had played Shardgale and Mark has responded with his own which took out Alensen. Still, I was able to whether the storm and pull out the win. I won game 1, 22-7.
In the second game, Mark won boards again and set things straight up. This time I was wary of Mark's passive tricks and went in hard. Khazgan took an early hit but was able to push through and take some pot shoots here and there. The MVP here was Lund as with Gloryseeker he was able to take down two Orruks with a Ready for Action play.
Playing aggressive against Orruks is a bit risky and Mark was able to capitalize on the shorter charge distances. Still, Taking the fight to Mark early proved to be the correct strategy and after the dust settled, I won game 2, 21-8.
Round 3: Samuel - Thorns of the Briar Queen
Samuel was a very pleasant opponent and had played a friend of mine, Rob and his Gitz, the round before where he narrowly took the game.
I was really looking forward to this matchup. I had a feeling Thorns would be popular at this event and here was the chance to prove that my tech worked.
In our first game, I won board and set things straight up. I wanted my fighters to be able to get in and start shooting Chainrasps as my opponent had three objectives on his end. When we drew cards, I had the perfect hand. I drew Lethal Ward, Encroaching Shadow, Toxic Gases, Fuelled by Fury, and Shardgale. This game was going to be a brutal affair.
I started things slow and didn't really do much other than score Calculated Risk and play Toxic Gases on a chainrasp. Samuel decided to take the damage so I couldn't get a charge off. Still, I was waiting for Samuel to use Varclav's push ability before I played any power cards. In my opponent's third activation, he used the ability and in his power step, I dropped Shardgale, Lethal Ward, and Encroaching Shadows which took down a total of three chainrasps.
Despite facing a major setback, Samuel was not deterred and kept the pressure on. In the end though, he couldn't come back from losing three fighters early and failed to score some of his stronger end phase cards. To his credit though, he did close the gap and I only won game 1, 13-8.
Samuel "won" boards in game 2 which induced a sigh of relief as this meant he had to come to me for that third objective. He set things up slightly offset and we went to drawing. In typical Aman fashion, I drew five upgrades and a gambit card... Knowing I needed to draw into my damage cards, I tossed my hand and drew the mulligan. My eyes went wide. I drew into Shardgale, Lethal Ward, Encroaching Shadow, Hidden Paths and an upgrade.
As you can expect, things went fairly similarly to the previous game. I waited for Varclav to start shoving his buddies around before dropping the combo. Two chainrasps went down and I was able to take two more fighters down thanks to some smart shooting from Lund.
The Briar Queen did make my life hell for a bit by teleporting in and whacking some of my duardin around but a timely set of shots from Ironhail upgraded with Fighter's Ferocity ended her murderous rampage.
I won game 2, 21-8.
Round 4: Duncan - Mollog's Mob
Going into the last round of the day, I knew I was going to face one of the three other undefeated players: Duncan, Paul, or Jimmy. As fate would have it, I sat across from Duncan Bilz and his fearsome Mollog. Duncan is an enthusiastic opponent and I've come to really enjoy playing against him.
I've managed to get my fair share of games in against Mollog and felt confident taking him down. Still, Duncan is a fantastic player and I only narrowly beat him in the finals of ATC. Duncan was primed and ready for the anticipated rematch.
Winning board I set up my favorite reactionary board: the Arcane Nexus. Setting up wide might be a bit of a curious decision but the game plan was to kill Mollog quick - easiest way to do that was to have him be accessible by everyone.
I had a feeling Duncan would be playing a hyper aggressive Mollog variant and he did not disappoint. Mollog whacked Alensen earlier and then got Blazing Soul on. Things were not looking good.
Khazgan went down next after missing his attack. Luckily, I was still able to get some objectives scored and high-tailed Lund out of there. While he was going to town on the Squigs, I was trying to whether the storm with Ironhail and Bjorgen. In the end, Shardgale, Lethal Ward, and Encroaching Shadow managed to take down both Mollog and the Stalagsquig who was sitting on an objective to prevent a faneway.
I barely scraped by 13-10.
Duncan positioned his fighters very well and chose to not place the Stalagsquig on an objective this time. When I drew my hand, I had a pretty good trio of score immediate cards that I felt like I could score easily enough. I ate those words immediately after.
Ironhail failed four attacks against Mollog, including a Ready for Action play... Mollog did block two of them with a shield.
That pretty much sealed the game as I had essentially wasted the entirety of turn one in trying to land this attack. Duncan playing Inspiration Strikes on Mollog didn't help either. My opponent then went in on warband in the second round and despite being able to gain a bit of steam in the end, I could not catch up.
I lost game 2 by a fairly large margin, unfortunately I didn't record the scores - my guess is I was a bit stressed! 😅
Duncan won boards again and set things up straight up. Duncan played Inspiration Strikes again after the first activation. Despite that there was a bit of ebb and flow in the game. As expected, Duncan prioritized Khazgan and despite missing his attack, he asked me to role my defense dice. I failed to roll a block and my opponent played Upperhand. Bye-bye Khazgan. God, I hate that card.
After the first phase, I had lost three of my fighters. In the second phase, I did manage to get Bjorgen back there but some crucial misses stalled out my glory train. The third phase was a . bit more fruitful but again, I couldn't catch up. Duncan took Game 3 by a handful of glory.
I lost the round, 29-45.
After the poor showing, I clicked open the rankings and saw that despite my loss, I was still in third place. I was going to make it to day 2!
Here are the final standings as recorded on BCP:
Unfortunately, due to his commitment to TO'ing the Game of Thrones event the next morning, Paul had to drop from the next day. Cat also dropped as well, though I am not sure as to what her reasoning was.
The updated top 6 were as follows:
Due to the unique nature of the cut, Duncan and I received byes for the first round. The opening matches of day 2 were as follows: Rob vs Sheryl and Jimmy vs Gentry.
After the event, Jimmy invited me out for drinks and we had a pretty fun night. I got to meet some of his friends from his other gaming escapades and enjoyed (too many) drinks. 🍻
After waking up a bit hungover, I headed on to the convention center and while drinking copious amounts of water, watched bits and pieces of both quarter final games. An interesting thing to note was that the TO provided us an unsealed pack of dice to use - they were the frosted ones from the Nightvault pre-order.
Rob managed to take the win from Sheryl and her Mollog 2-1 while Jimmy, after an unusually cagey (and not bloody) matchup between two followers of the Blood God, pulled out a 2-1 win against Gentry and his Fiends.
Semi Finals: Rob - Zarbag's Gitz
Going into this game, I was a bit cautious. Goblins can move very quickly and inspire even quicker. Two dodge is nothing to laugh at. Rob was a solid player and piloted the warband well.
I won boards and as you can see, set up fairly aggressively. I wanted to be able to get some early eliminations while waiting to draw into my set of damage gambits.
Phase one went well enough, Khazgan was able to carve through both the squigs while I was able to also get off Get Thee Hence and Calculated Risk. I got an early Encroaching Shadow as well which pinged Prog. Fortunately, Rob didn't have any objective based scoring which was a boon. In the second phase, I drew into both Shardgale and Lethal Ward which provided me the ammunition needed to nuke his board. Prog and Stikkit went down and Toxic Gases presented Rob with no choice as Dibbz was within two hexes of a lethal hex. Snirk did manage to take out two of my fighters.
I was surprised by Rob's tenacity as he was able to score a whopping 7 glory in the final end phase. Sound Finances and Victory After Victory were able to push me ahead to win 21-19.
Rob won boards and went long-board on me. Thankfully I had drawn Hidden Paths which was able to mitigate the movement disadvantage by a bit. I also drew Shardgale. Again, Khazgan was placed last and aggressively in hopes of giving me some early glory.
Khazgan scored me Change of Tactics despite missing his attack against the opposing goblin archer. I spent my other turns drawing cards in hopes of drawing some other damage ploys. I managed to draw into Encroaching Shadow and Potion of Constitution. Playing Shardgale and Encroaching Shadow took down two of the goblins and a timely Distraction prevent my opponent from scoring either Supremacy or Our Only Way Out (I'm not sure which one he had, if not both).
The rest of the game was spent peppering his warband until they fell down. Zarbag did manage to take down Lund but at that point, it was a bit too late. I won game 2, 18-12.
A very well played to Rob! His glory engine was absurd and if I hadn't teched for the matchup, I don't think I would have been able to take down his powerful Gitz.
After the game, I walked over to where Jimmy and Duncan were duking it out. Right as I walked up, I saw Saek take down Mollog with a massive five damage attack. Things were looking good for the Reavers. In the end, game 3 ended with a true tie. However, since Jimmy had the edge in glory over the course of the three games, he won the set.
Reavers in the final. This was gonna be fun...and bloody.
Finals: Jimmy - Garrek's Reavers
As I mentioned earlier, Jimmy and I had grabbed drinks the night before and over the course of escapades, we got along fairly well. I was happy to see my newly made friend in the final but was also a bit concerned. When I first started playing Profiteers seriously, I had been with John Reese in London. While we were discussing their pros and cons, we realized that Reavers were actually a pretty bad matchup for the gun-toting duardin. The matchup plays a bit similarly like the Godsworn due to their speed but the Reavers have some surprisingly good faction cards that can definitely take you by surprise.
In particular, I was concerned with the following cards: It Begins, Khorne Cares Not, and Pure Carnage. The thing with Reavers is that they are fairly easy to take down but the problem is that, in this particular matchup, eliminating Jimmy's fighters furthered his machinations. His deck pretty much had a built in 6 guaranteed glory.
This made matters even worse as my deck revolved around eliminating opposing fighters. Right off the bat, I was at a serious disadvantage.
I won boards in the primary game and offset them in an attempt to funnel Jimmy's Reavers. The hope here was to use the lethal hexes to help with eliminations. Jimmy won the initiative roll and asked me to start things off.
Interestingly enough, Jimmy didn't charge. He just drew cards while I was sitting there with a Khazgan on guard and no targets to be able to charge with. At the end of the first phase, I used Hidden Paths to get Khazgan into his backfield and hit Saek for two. Trap finished him off and then I played Crown of Avarice onto my freshly inspired fighter. Either he would continue his bloody work or he'd net me a glory on his demise. Win-win for me. Jimmy then charged with Garrek in his final activation and with the help of some damage inducing gambits, chopped my duardin into oblivion.
Realizing I didn't have much of an option, I moved my fighters up in hopes of baiting some charges. Jimmy continued to draw cards until he found what he needed. It was a smart strategy. When he had the cards he needed, he would charge and roll so many dice that he was bound to roll a crit. We traded fighters for a bit but I wasn't able to score a couple of my cards. A unintended double Shardgale power phase also eliminated Alensen and one of his fighters. Still, I managed to score a couple cards in the end, including Sound Finances, which bumped me up to ten glory. Still, the lack of engagement meant that I would lose the first game by a hair's width - 10-11.
Note: Jimmy did not score Pure Carnage.
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of this game. I suppose I was a bit stressed being down a game in the final! 😅
I won boards and set things up fairly straight up. As we drew cards, Jimmy mulligan'ed his power had as he had drawn four upgrades, including Crown of Avarice. When he drew his next set of cards, I saw him breathe a slight sigh of relief and elicit a quick smile. Damn - he got a great hand.
Winning the initiative roll again, Jimmy elected for me to go first. Things looked a bit better for me as I drew into some awesome score immediate objectives. I decided to be a bit more aggressive this time around in hopes of just taking out his fighters quick while scoring a bunch of glory to overcome his innate 6 glory.
Unfortunately, things went pretty poorly for me. I missed a lot of attacks. So many so that Jimmy looked at me and was like, "damn dude, sorry you're rolling so bad." Still, I had planned for missing attacks here and there so I continued on with the game plan. Jimmy dropped a bunch of accuracy buffing cards and just went to town. By the end of the second phase, I was down by 6-7 glory and half my warband was gone. Understanding that there was no possible way for me to come back from this, I offered my hand to Jimmy and congratulated him on a superbly played game.
I can't honestly say that I'm not disappointed with my loss. It's a bit difficult, at least for me, to make it to three Grand Clash finals in a row and then lose them. It's a tough pill to swallow.
As I was sitting at the airport and analyzing how my games with Jimmy went, I was a bit of a loss as to how I could have played that game differently. To reinforce that opinion, Duncan, who had watched the final, pulled me aside and told me that I couldn't have played that any better. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty down because I was so close, for the third time, and failed again.
I thought about taking a break from the game and skipping out on NoVA. Perhaps Beastgrave would make things different? I don't know.
I said as much to my friends, Jonathan Davis and Tony Field as we have a group chat. Obviously they were very supportive and were really instrumental in making me feel better. But it didn't really do much to lift my spirits.
That was at least until Tony pointed this out to me: "Now’s not the best time, but I(f) you analyze your GC loses, the consistent theme is difficultly engaging and losing a few key dice rolls."
Damn. That was the perfect time and it really brought a true sense of clarity.
I can't impart enough about how important it is to have a group of friends, or even a community, to fall back on when you're feeling down about your hobby. At the end of the day, this is a game and yes, some of us (including myself) take it pretty seriously but you shouldn't forget why you started playing the game in the first: it's boatloads of fun!
Furthermore, that was bad matchup for me. The Reaver's speed is a huge advantage and the way Jimmy had designed that deck was superb. His deck played well whether his fighters went down or his opponents his deck just innately beat mine and I wasn't able to find a solution. It happens and I can't be too upset about that.
Now, I would be like to be very clear that Jimmy outplayed me in the final. He learned from his loss from Paul, the day before, and applied that knowledge the next day against me. After speaking with him after the event, he was kind enough to invite me to lunch, I learned that he also was a dominant player in his local community.
At the end of the day, when your opponent is a class act, understands the game well, and plays a solid game - you can't be too upset. I apologize if I have been rambling but it was important for me to articulate this not only for myself, but for others out there as well who have experienced something similar.
At the end of the day, you have to take your losses in stride and seek to do better. Appreciate the game, learn from your mistakes, and don't make them next time.
In the end, GenCon was an awesome experience. I got to visit an awesome convention, meet a bunch of new people, revisit with old friends, and most importantly - play competitive games of Underworlds. I can't wait to be back next year.
Furthermore, making it to three Grand Clash finals is also an achievement. I know its a bit of running joke in the community but I'm happy with my finish. If anything, I am indeed consistent even if the Curse of the Katophranes is quite literal in my case! 😂
Additionally, REAVERS WON GENCON! Did anyone expect to hear that prior the event? No, I don't think so. I hope this goes to show that ANY warband with the right build, execution, and a bit of luck can win ANY event. Even if it was at my expense, I am very happy to prove that.
Next up, I've got the NoVA open which is being hosted at the end of this month. I am really looking forward to that experience as a bunch of solid players (and friends) are going to be in attendance: Jonathan Davis, Max Bernstein, Randall Slate, Dean and Duncan Bilz, and of course, Jimmy Molini.
After that, we've got Beastgrave and the SoCal open which will be the first state-side event featuring the new warbands and rules from season 3!
I am looking forward to clashing with opponents from around the world in the realm of Ghur!