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That's a LOT of glory...



It’s been a while in coming, but it’s time for the inaugural No Gitz, No Glory Tournament Report!

Yesterday my long-time gaming buddy Alex and I drove down to a small tournament held by Spieledelxue, in Melbourne, Victoria.   





Spieledeluxe is a boutique board games shop in North Melbourne. Unfortunately, they’re *too* boutique to hold the tournament in-house, so instead the venue was the Royal Mail Hotel on Spencer St, which was very easy to get to from out-of-towners, being a single “Is it this exit? I think its exit, OH GOD I HOPE IT’S THIS EXIT!” from the freeway. Also, it’s a pub, which makes it very easy to get beer. The bar manager, David, was very friendly, and brought over jugs of water for us, and offered to cook us food before the kitchen opened in the evening. 

The Royal Mail Hotel had some interesting decor. I can't wait to start using the word 'vulva' in more conversations!


Steve Radcliffe was the TO, and this was his first time in that role, which I wouldn’t have guessed, as he kept things moving on, gave a few gentle reminders about time remaining, and generally ran a pretty organised ship. I suspect his job was made easier by letting Best Coast Pairings handle the heavy lifting. It seems like a great and hassle-free app.

All told we had six players, though it seemed that everyone was pretty experienced, and I recognised many of their names from various Underworlds-related Facebook pages. Everyone attending had a different warband, which is always nice, with Grymwatch, Cursebreakers, Ravagers, Guardians, Eyes of the Nine, and Gitz (fancy that!) represented.

The List


I took my fairly standard Tomes build. Recent changes included adding Rebound  mostly because it's such a wholesome, feel-good card, but also because it gives me some much needed game against warbands like Mournflight, Mollog, and various flavours of Stormcast. Also, a recent addition is Mischievous Spirits. Over the course of the day I only used it once. I think it will go back to being Distraction 

Great Strength is probably the only questionable card in the Upgrades section, but its ability to turn all of my non-archer fighters into a legitimate threat is significant. Larval Lance is another option, but it's only superior to Strength in Round 3, and if I'm going to get my hands dirty with kills, I'd rather do it earlier than that. 


Anyway, on with the report:


James – Grymwatch


James was a late arrival to the tournament, having gone to the Spieledeluxe shop by accident. Before he arrived the rest of us looked around and expressed with some relief that no one was playing Grymwatch. I was particularly pleased as I hadn’t practiced against them with my Gitz.  Predictably James plonked down the ghoulie men (and woman). Irony.

Game 1
I won the roll for boards and chose to place objectives. Offering up the Shattered Refractor, I deployed three objectives reasonably far back on my side.  I won the deployment roll, and deployed first to get the extra crit on first turn roll, which I won and took. My Gitz were clearly anxious about this matchup too, and weren’t taking any chances - A first activation score of Calculated Risk and Temporary Victory inspired my team before he’d had a chance to move, and Scrum, Supremacy and Keep Them Guessing following shortly thereafter. I finished the round 8-2 up. They didn’t look back from there. I did have a little bit of luck early doors though -  I’d already spent 3 activations of my first round before I remembered about the Grymwatch’s inspire mechanic; but had enough push ploys in hand to brute force my way into James’ territory with Snirk and a Squig.
23-9 win.

Game 2

Game two was much less explosive. My objective hand was Mad Scurry, Fired up and Shortcut. Not ideal, but playable (Yes, this is a sign of the crazy Temporary Victory world we live in, where having two easy score end phase cards and a surge card is ‘not ideal’; but more on that later). I believe James won the roll off and made me choose a board. I chose the Mirror Well board (I mildly freaked myself out by noticing the screaming skull face in the jacuzzi for the first time*).  Having not much of a plan, I thought I would attempt to slow down the ghouls’ advance. I spent my first two actioins charging with squigs. Bonekrakker (who had a bad day all told) missed Ribcage-Suit-Man; but Gobbalukk (who had a good day; and is the best boy) made up for his colleague. Chomp.  Sadly Gobbalukk was then subjected to some extreme vegetable cruelty, afterward I gave Bonekrakker Survival Instincts, who survived the game, and kept the Ghouls from inspiring until round two. I also made tactical use of Restless Prize to deny him Path to Victory.

*That might be my favourite sentence ever

The rest of the game was something of a blur. James had a heartbreaking moment where he would have pulled ahead, simultaneously scoring In the Name of the King and Temporary Victory, until we realised the bats can’t hold objectives. I was able to close it out with a big library bag of Tomes.
23-18

Round 2  - Rob – Cursebreakers

Amis is clearly the only one who shampoos her beard

Rob was the first one there, he and Alex and I had had plenty of time to chat before hand, and it was clear that Rob was a serious Underworlds player. He’d even flown over to Perth for the first Grand Clash in Australia (which is about as far as Chicago to Seattle for my American readers; or from London to Jupiter for those in the Mother Country). That’s keen.
He was playing a spell heavy Cursebreakers deck; clearly exploring the options given by Lost Pages as a way to consistently score high numbers of spells in a round.

Game 1
Rob won boards and hoarded the objectives.  I went back to the Shattered Refractor. As against James my deck caught fire in the early game. I hit the holy duopoly of Temporary Victory and Calculated Risk, en route to another big Round 1 score. Meanwhile Rob had the worst luck I’ve seen with magic dice for quite some time, failing two empower rolls either side of two failed spell ploys. To compound matters, when he did cast a spell successfully Stormsire managed to set fire to his own face courtesy of Rebound.

By the time the dust had settled I’d won 21-10, prompting TO Steve to proclaim my deck the James Harden of Underworlds. Which as a Houston Rockets fan, I was not at all adverse too. 


If you frame by frame, you can pinpoint the moment when he realises I'm not going to activate Snirk


Game 2.

Rob won boards and refused to share his delicious hexagonal biscuits again. Rude.

I chose the Mirror Well again, and attempted to deploy conservatively, as my objective had was poor.  Rob mulliganed his opening power hand and I really should have done the same, as while I had a few useful ploys, I lacked any push tech, which hurt me in the end. 
To make matters worse, Rob’s magic dice had started to behave and pulled a nasty trick where he used Centre of Attention prime Cry of Thunder to hit my 5 of my team. Boom. Rebound claimed Stormsire again, but I couldn’t churn through either deck to mount a decent score.

To take nothing away from Rob though, this game showed that heavy spell-casting Cursebreakers could definitely be a thing, those Lost Pages can really push up the number of spells that can be cast in a turn.

13-17


Game 3.
This time I won the roll, and handed Rob the Penitent’s Throne, while I got the objectives. This game was definitely one of the closest for the day.  Rob squared the boards up, and then deployed as far forward is possible, shooting gallery style. I hadn’t used this board since Beastgrave mixed things up with its deployable lethal hexes and it showed. My deployment was more than a little wonky.

I had Zarbag and Stikkit dangling in the centre of my territory, Z-bags got shot for his trouble, but fortunately only for one. Rob fortunately missed with Sphere of Aqshy,  which allowed me to run Zarbag and Stikkit onto objectives (via lethal hexes in both cases. I had Calculated Risk, but Rob still raised his eyebrows).  Fortunately, a Cry of Thunder centered on Prog (who’d been pulled into a lethal hex with Centre of Attention again – clearly a set play from Rob), which would have also taken out Stikkit, failed.  The game went back and forth from there. Rob was killing enough goblins, but my objective deck was more or less behaving itself and enabled me to keep pace.
The play that made the game work for me was actually doing nothing in the final power step of Round 2. That may sound strange, but it was pretty accurate. The board state looked was as follows - a badly wounded Zarbag on a objective in my extreme righthand corner; Drizgit with a Tome and Survival Instinct on the centre-left; and Snirk on Rob’s extreme righthand corner, also on an objective. Stikkit was loitering near Zarbag. Amis was standing in no-person’s territory, while Stormsire was somewhat close to Drizgit.
I held two Tomes in hand, and had ample glory to equip them; but opted not to. I then drew into three other Tomes at the beginning of the third round, and was able to then wait for Rob to commit to one of my fighters before loading up Snirk in the final power step. Rob did kill Drizgit and Stikkit, but couldn’t quite score enough objectives in the last round to take the W

A nail-biting 21-18 win
Intermission and liquid lunch

Beer is made of hops. Hops is a herb. I'm basically drinking herbal tea. 

Rob and my game went for a considerable time past when we were scheduled to finish round two, so Steve called a lunch break while we were still playing. This made the choice of venue being at a pub super convenient, as we were able to wander over to the bar when we’d finished up.  They had lots of great craft beers on tap (including a Wheel of Fortune style spinner if you really can’t make up your mind). We had a relaxed pint and talked about the state of the game. Which was almost as fun as the actual games.

Round 3 -  Alex -  Despoilers



Alex is a very good friend of mine and my normal gaming buddy.  He’d also had a good day, having been laying waste to people on the other side of the bracket.  We’d trucked down from the country to the city together, and now we were playing off for the glass.  This was a great spot to be in, as Alex hadn’t won glass before (even though he should have with Skeletons, but the TO messed up the results somewhere along the line) so I’d have been happy for him to win, or equally I would have liked to win it too.  I was apprehensive going into the game though, as we’d played this game out a several times, and his goats had always had my number. I had made some changes (not really as a result, but just because I can’t help tinkering with my lists). Time to see if the changes added up to anything much.

Apologies for the lack of detail here, we played very fast (we finished about an hour before the other games), and having alcohol and adrenaline touring my circulatory system didn’t help matters.

Game 1
Game 1 I lost boards, but Alex wanted to score Swift Capture I believe, so set up his final objective inside my territory on the edge (Korsh ‘the Sneak’, I’m looking in your direction).  As was becoming routine, I got my turbo charged Game 1 yet again and was able to quickly inspire, and push on.  Rebound foiled Alex’s attempts to mount a comeback, killing Draknar as he attempted to smash Dibbz in the face. There’s not much more that needs to be said about this game, except to note Steve pointing out to me that before the end of Round 2 I had ONE card left in my objective deck.

Alex really couldn’t get going in this game, and it ended 24-9. My biggest blowout of the day.

Game 2
I was a bit lightheaded after game one (or perhaps that was the beer….) On the strength of the games we’d played before, I would have been less surprised to have been on the receiving of 24-9.  

In game two, I won the roll for boards, and opted to take objectives. As I had the last objective, I knew Alex would be wanting it placed on an edge hex in my territory. So that’s exactly what I didn’t do. Alex had put one objective token in my board already, so I returned the favour.

I kept a slow hand but learned from my game against Rob and would have mulliganed if I didn’t have push ploys. Early doors, Alex took the lead, and but for a timely Rebound on one of his archers (for those playing at home, that’s 5 successful Rebound rolls in 7 games!) would have been all over me. I stayed in the hunt and did as best I could. There were a few crucial moments towards the end of the match, including Alex having to discard Supremacy to keep his objectives ticking over (not saying that was the wrong move, but I was able to relax about objectives once Path to Victory, Despoilers and Temporary Victory  had all been scored (More James Harden parallels – if you let them score then you don’t need to worry about them scoring!). 

The game turned in the final round. Alex's dice had been cooling since the first round, but they went stone cold. I can't recall an attack or defence roll that Alex succeeded in that last round.  Despite that, the final two activations were vital. Alex was ahead on glory 17-11 but had drawn out his objective deck and only had Keep Them Guessing to score. Alex then need to make an attack and a Guard action and misplayed with Two Steps Forward.  He needed to push one fighter, but as there was two fighters who could be pushed, he had to move Fellhoof off the objective he was holding.  This allowed me to swoop in with Stikkit, and stand on the objective, putting me in place for Supremacy (with Sidestep in hand if I needed it).  Clearly concerned at what I could score, Alex abandoned his pursuit of Keep Them Guessing and charged Zarbag (holding three tomes) who standing on a central objective. Lacking a Ritual re-roll, but empowered with Bull Charge and Great Strength, a fatal hit would have clearly won the game for him, even a driveback would have denied me Supremacy.    The Bad Moon blessed my dice and I rolled the Crit I needed.  Zarbag then calmly read from the Tome of Glories, and I was able to score Supremacy and Acolyte of the Katophranes for a further 3.

…and breathe...

18-17 win.

As I mentioned earlier, we finished well before everyone else, and were able to spectate on the other games, which was a nice way to finish the afternoon off.  Of particular interest was the game for third, between James’ Grymwatch and Patrick’s Eyes of the Nine, which ended up going Patrick’s way, though he wasn’t able to close the gap on Alex in second.

So, a 1-2 finish for the stump-jumping country Jethros! That was a very good feeling, and made for a good drive home. It was particularly nice for us to have turned a few heads with warbands that don’t often feature in the top of the rankings of major tournaments. Before things kicked off a few of the guys were a little bit down on the Ravagers compared to the Grymwatch, which I think, and Alex demonstrated, that’s a bit unfair.  I’m also proud to have won some more glass with the Gitz, especially as I was a little concerned that the rotation had been unkind to them.
Soft Focus -  Sensual Gitz


So, all told a very impressive outing! I must confess I was surprised by how well the deck behaved and how consistent it was at scoring high volumes of glory. Across the seven games I raked in 143 glory, which felt great, but as I’ll go on to talk about in a second, at times I felt like I wasn’t earning the glory I was receiving. I’d set myself the goal of winning more games than I lost, and I certainly did that. I was also very proud to have the opportunity to play my best mate for the glass, which made for something of a win-win situation! Thanks to Steve for TOing, and thanks to James, Rob, Huw, Patrick, and Alex for being excellent sports and great company.

 Reflections



Oh, look, there’s an elephant in this room!
Glamour Elephant   Ellephant 

Temporary Victory
needs to be banned*. Not restricted. Banned.

*Yes, I know it’s meant to be referred as ‘forsaken’, but saying ‘this should be forsaken!’ sounds so dumb it hurts.

I’ll explain why. While most warbands (not Mollog) can make use of Temporary Victory,  there are four factions that stand head and shoulders about others in terms of their ability to abuse it. Those are Grymwatch and Ravagers (who double up with in-faction varieties and good push cards), while Gitz and (especially) Thorns can score it in one activation. Each of these factions could comfortably make room for Temporary Victory.I threw together a Thorns deck the other day it had one restricted card in it (Sudden Growth). Restricting Temporary Victory would do NOTHING to Thorns. Similarly, with my Gitz, I’d merely replace Warning Shot with Martyred and call it a day. No biggie at all.

Grymwatch and Ravagers might have slightly more head-scratching to do, but would invariably take it.

Now, Temporary Victory opens up some interesting build options for other factions, Godsworn, Profiteers and Reavers in particular, but those factions can’t use it as well as the others, and have fewer other objectives that dovetail with Temporary Victory.  Ironically, those factions also have a higher requirement on other restricted cards. So in effect, the warbands who would be most affected with Temporary Victory’s restriction would be those factions that use it least effectively, resulting in a ‘rich-get-richer’ phenomenon.

Furthermore, Temporary Victory has few fans. When the card was released, Dean Bilz mentioned on the Warhammer Underworlds Facebook Group that Temporary Victory made him want to not play Thorns of The Briar Queen, as it made things feel too easy.  GW have essentially handed Michelangelo a 3D printer.  Now, I’m a toddler playing with play-dough compared to Dean, but I know exactly how he feels –It feels bad to score. I don’t feel clever; I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything. In fact, I feel like I’ve cheated.  I apologized every time I scored it yesterday. 

Grymwatch and Ravagers’ in-faction varieties feel strong, but at the same time, they feel fair. That’s their schtick. That’s what makes them different. Some factions have good spells, some have good abilities (Varclav, Scurry etc), and some have good objective cards. I have absolutely zero problem with either of those cards.

Remembering stuff is really good
Before the tournament I set myself a small list of memory pegs.

Alas, I while I have Doctor's Scrawl, I don't have Doctor's Salary

Those were just little elements that I wanted to address in my play, and two of them were very useful, potentially winning 2-3 games.  I’m not someone who plays a lot of games, so I find reflecting on games played to be my best method of ‘practice’. I firmly believe you can learn something from every game you play, even if that is simply 'Temporary Victory is broken'.

Snirk is losing his momentum
I’ve had another piece ready to go on the blog for a while, essentially looking at how the meta is against Snirk at the moment, but I didn’t publish as it felt rather like I was just having a whinge. In saying that, Snirk was conspicuous by his absence yesterday. In three games I didn’t activate him once.  I can’t seem to justify the risk of a wasted activation.  It’s also noteworthy that my objective started behaving much more consistently once I removed Obliterated from my deck.
As Alex pointed out on the drive home when I raised it with him, my deck was consistently scoring approximately 22-24 glory a game. That’s essentially two glory per activation. In that context, Snirk’s randomness doesn’t really cut it.

“Now wait a cotton-picking minute!”, I hear literally every aggro player say, “We deal with randomness every day, and we have to put up with Rebound!” Well, yes, you do, BUT staple ploys and upgrades like Inspired Attack, Sitting Target, Spirit Bond, the endless varieties of Lightning Assault, Archer’s Focus and so on, all work quite well to reduce that randomness. Steven Vann, the OG Zarbag’s enthusiast, has broken down Snirk’s numbers*, and they are reasonably impressive, being roughly equivalent to 3 Hammer attack in terms of being able to consistently deal 3 damage if Snirk starts adjacent to his target, but there are vastly fewer options to  mitigate dodgy dice.

* http://www.callitshadespire.com/2019/02/cardiology-obliterated.html

Now, I’m not saying that Gitz are weaker because Snirk isn’t the badass he used to be. Nor am I saying that Snirk is objectively bad now, I’m just finding it challenging to use him effectively. Now, what Snirk could very much benefit from, would be a card like this: “Snirk’s Best Friend – Ploy – Reaction:  Play this during an action or gambit that uses the scatter token, after the scatter token is placed but before any dice are rolled. The scatter roll has an innate [hammer].
I will have to do some serious thinking over the Christmas period as to what Snirk’s best role is. My instinct is to have him as something of an enforcer or bait. Plonk him near the line of scrimmage, then inspire him on the first activation. He still has a bit of an aura about him, and as Stephen Vann’s numbers testify, you’d be foolhardy to leave a fighter adjacent to him.

What Next?

I think the Gitz have earned a bit of a rest. They’re still consistently fun to play with, but I fear until Temporary Victory is ousted from the meta, I don’t think they’re particularly fun to play against. Perhaps it’s the hipster in me, but with objective token play being all the rage, I’m keen to throw a few more attack dice around. Even with all my moralising about how much better dresses are than wolves, Rippa’s Snarlfangs look quite interesting. Perhaps the game has shifted now to where Mollog is wholesome now? I never thought I’d see the day.


As ever, please drop me a line on Facebook or via the comment feature below (though I’m not super great at checking that). I’d love to hear your thoughts about Temporary Victory or the meta in general.


Cheers

Rowan




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