It’s been a long time coming.
Ya boy Michael Thomson is running the 2-day Everwinter event in Canberra this weekend (26th – 27th November 2020), and it’s set to be the first open-borders tourney since Saggy T: so look out, because the Vics are coming.
One of the great joys of playing Australian AOS is visiting different States and Territories, spending the weekend drinking their beer and telling them it tastes like piss. I’ve honestly got NFI what they drink in Canberra – I’ve only been to CanCon once, and we mainly drank slabs at the campsite – but I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it.
This is a solid 38-player field, packed out with Masters-level players, so let’s take a look at some of the runners and riders. I’ll take you through my own list, then hand you over to our guest writers for their insights into how this might shake out.
Ready? Let’s go.
Check out the full pack (with credit to NC Dave), including all lists, right here:
Well the first thing that strikes me here is that we have a set of missions that are not entirely awful for Beastclaw Raiders, which is pretty appropriate for an event called Everwinter. Day One in particular skews heavily to Leaders, Monsters and Behemoths. Yep, we got ’em.
We’re going with Auxilliaries: the TO has nominated 10 that we all have to aim for across the weekend (seen after list submission). We each pick 2 per game from that pool (no repetition), and you get tournament points for completing both in a given match (although not for denying your opponent’s, which I might personally have done differently):
We’re going with Realms: you pick your own “home” Realm at list building stage. At the start of each game, you roll off, and the winner can either pick Realms (nominating to play in their home Realm or none at all), or pick sides and drop a unit first. The loser of the roll off does the other.
This layers a little more onto the list building challenge, and gives you a decision point before the game even begins, which is a pretty interesting way of doing things. I like it.
Pretty standard Eurlbad fare, familiar to anyone who’s been living that Stonehorn Lyf. With Ethereal Amulet in the bin, it’s time to move on to Alvagr Rune Tokens: rerolling hits on the Frost Spear feels pretty damn good, and since it’s active until your own next Hero Phase, it acts as decent double-turn insurance and gives you the option (temptation?) of YOLOing your Frosty with relative impunity.
The list is low-drop (coming in at three), it’s got a CP in the bank for those sexy, sexy rerolls, and it quite often sneaks a Triumph, which is dynamite for this army. 86 wounds is frankly alarming, but do bear in mind that most of your army has a 5++ aftersave, each Stonehorn gets an extra wound because Boulderhead (you’d be amazed how often they survive on 1 wound), and there is a splash of healing available from the Maw Pot.
The Mournfang love bashing out Mortals on both 6s to hit and 6s to save, they’re cheap enough to throw under the bus or strong enough to blow up bad chaff. The Murderhorn is gonna murder you, the Crunchhorn is gonna crunch you and we’ll be doing the late-game scramble to chuck 10 or 20 bodies onto an objective at a moment’s notice.
Shyish is the Realm choice for a cheeky unbind, an opportunity to remove blocking Endless Spells and crucially, no powerful Realm Spell that will help my opponent more than me.
What doesn’t it do well? The list really doesn’t like getting bogged down in tarpits: with this army, if you’re not charging, you’re not winning. And like most armies out there, it is susceptible to getting shot up by the teleport ‘n’ bang builds that are hoovering up podiums currently (Seraphon, KO, Tzeentch) – although even then, a lucky double turn and a helpful Battleplan can come to the rescue.
The Auxiliaries also skew against this army, since lots of them revolve around killing specific units. This is obviously far easier if you have reach (like KO) than it is if you have to go through screens the hard way, so for Ogors, in practice a lot of these are going to be variations on “table your opponent”.
I reckon I’ll be hovering somewhere around the 3-2 mark, so wish me luck!
Michael Wendel, Republic of Ireland
Michael is one of Ireland’s most renowned and accomplished wargamers, and TO of the Irish GT. Along with being a regular on the Hero Phase podcast, Mike shot to global AOS fame by winning a GT with Gutbusters, an achievement that will echo through history. Not only did Gutbusters not have a Battletome, they didn’t even have a General’s Handbook allegiance kit!
Looking through these top notch lists I had to pick two stand out lists. One that had the cool factor and one that I thought was a solid list. I took a bit of liberty with the latter and decided to pick out a list that looked strong but not your usual suspect. I am very openly biased and as a result I completely wrote off KO as an option to talk about. So, if you were looking forward to hearing me talk about these stunty assholes then I am happy to say you will be disappointed. Fuck Seraphon too.
Power Pick: John Burns, Cities of Sigmar
This was tough because there are quite a few strong lists. There are the usual KO, Seraphon, HGB Fyreslayers and Eurlbad Ogor lists, but they’re all well-known strong lists. I was really looking for something different that I think will make people sweat. Without the knowledge of the players’ abilities it was even harder. If I was to put my money on the top 3, without taking player skill into consideration, I would go for Corey Beilharz with his Changehost, John Burns with his Cities of Sigmar list, and one of the Eurlbad lists. KO suck!
Personally, I see the Cities of Sigmar list doing quite well as the army has a lot of versatility. It has bodies, it has screens and it has the damage. Those Phoenix Guard and Ironbreakers will be tough to get through, and they are not short of damage either. Couple them with the ability to stretch out 36” with the Irondrakes on the Soulscream Bridge, and they have it all.
You can’t hide, and it’s no easy task to get through their lines so your opponent has to play this one carefully. With their volume of bodies they have a strong objective game, and the army also can take a few hits before losing its momentum. I think if this list is piloted well it could easily take out the event. Deployment and movement will be the key to winning with this army.
Coolest List: Stephen Binek, Ogor Mawtribes
There is hands down only one contender for the “cool”est list going at this event for me. This player has clearly embraced the event in its entirety and taken a list worthy of its name sake. I am of course talking about the absolute fucking legend that is Stephen Binek and his 7 THUNDERTUSKS!!!!
Shock horror, Mick picked an Ogor list. I did say I was openly biased.
I remember us all talking about this in whispers and jokes. Taunting the idea to each other. Wanting to do it, but not having the balls to commit to 7 Tusks. But now some hero has actually gone and done it.
I’ll be honest, when someone first mentioned the very idea of this list my first impression was 7 times Zero is still Zero. But then we started to talk about it and think. First you have the vultures. That’s 7 chances to do a massive-ranged mortal wound attack on a 2+. That’s most 4-6 wound characters dead on turn 1. That’s incredibly difficult to hide from, so straight off the bat you have players protecting their squishy support heroes, giving you deployment advantage.
Then the numbers really started to add up. 84 shots! That’s right, off the bat, they have 12 shots each with their icy breath. Now I know they hit on 6/5/4 depending on unit sizes, but that’s still a lot of shots. If you are lucky you can blast a load of 20+ sized units, and shred them in the first couple of turns. Assuming you are focusing units until they drop below 10, you can comfortably do about 40 mortals in a turn (including vultures). THAT’S A LOT OF MORTAL WOUNDS!
So not only do I think this list is fucking cool, but it was a contender for one of the strongest lists here*. Let us also not forget that each of these monsters counts as 10 models for the purposes of objectives and they still do decent damage in combat. Honestly, I am expecting big things from this fantastic army! Pretty sure he can heal his dudes here too.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Matt Tyrell’s Nighthaunt list, which is just an amazing collection of the best models in that army. Since its inception I have wanted to do an all-female Nighthaunt army but again never had the balls to do it. Very happy to see this sort of list on the table!
They’re my thoughts anyway so whether you agree or not, thanks for reading!
*Other sources may disagree with this statement
JP Ganis, United Kingdom
JP is the brains behind Listbot and Metabreakers, and along with LLV is one of the great statisticians making sense of the Mortal Realms. As well as bringing his analytical approach to the meta, JP is a top-table player in the cutthroat UK scene, with recent event wins including Onslaught and Fall of the Old World.
Power Pick: Tyson Gleeson, Fyreslayers
I think Fyreslayers are just a great army right now. This list has play in every Battleplan, and is powerful and resilient vs both shooting and melee armies thanks to how tanky and damaging HGB are. Many of these buffs rely on characters, but these characters can be protected from shooting by the Runic Fyrewall. Sentinels can dodge the wall with their lofted shots, but Lumineth aren’t that prevalent yet, and even with the characters dead HGB are no slouch.
I think a lot of armies just don’t have the tools to deal with two blocks of 20 HGB, and their Battleline status has made them even more valuable on certain Battleplans. A very tough nut to crack.
Coolest List: Joel McGrath, Beasts of Chaos
This has to go out to Joel McGrath with his Beasts of Chaos. Joel is a long time metabreaker with his goats, and this army is super cool. The MSU style gives lots of opportunities for Joel to try and leverage his experience with the army by presenting difficult choices to his opponents, and utilizing board control and ambushes to make up for some of the weaknesses in the BoC warscrolls.
I love the inclusion of the Mindstealer Sphiranx. A weakness of MSU can be that if you multicharge a unit, when it activates it hits back into all your units, whereas you can only hit it with one at a time. Joel has both the Sphiranx and the Taurus, to allow him to make multiple units fight last, allowing him to hit them with everything he’s got, and the Taurus even does this between rounds to protect against bad priority rolls.
Add a Ghorgon in as an independent threat/distraction carnifex, and you have a list that’s going to look phenomenal on the table, and I’m sure with a pilot like Joel some people are going to get a lesson in not paying too much attention to tier lists.
Theo Jansen, Netherlands
Theo already has over 20 years of Warhammer experience under his belt, transitioning from WHFB to AOS. Theo is one of the leading lights in growing the competitive Age of Sigmar scene in the Netherlands, and is the captain of the Dutch ETC team, who will be aiming to represent strongly in 2021.
Power Pick: Matt Kent, Ogor Mawtribes
This list is one of my personal favorites: it’s fast, fun and easy to run. It takes away the clutter, and allows the player to focus on perfecting positioning and movement. The trick with this list is to try and get the Beastriders up the field, positioning the Frostlords for a counter charge. It prefers going second, but can comfortably implement a nul-turn if required to go first: the Vultures shoot off four MWs on a 2+, the two Beastriders get a toe into the objectives, and you dare your opponent to charge.
For a couple of reasons it is a very potent pick for this tournament in particular. For one, the missions. With Focal Points and Total Conquest, it has two missions it can absolutely dominate. Focal points is 18” deployment, has 5 objectives, giving extra CP if a Monster is near. Well, a Monster is going to be near, isn’t it? Similarly, Total Conquest moved the objectives in compared to previous years, and gives bonus VPs to leaders. These leaders are hard to shift and count for 10 models. The other scenarios are not to the disadvantage of this list either.
The second reason is the submitted lists. No Kroak, no Teclis. Only one Seraphon. Loads of KO, which Ogors can deal with quite well, especially since KO will struggle in the objective game (as they have few bodies to contest objectives with). With a bit of luck, this list is going to have some fantastic match-ups.
And thirdly, the games last just 2.5 hours. With these Stonehorn lists, it’s normally hanging on by the skin of your teeth from the third round onwards, often retreating to somewhere safe. A shorter game means a greater chance to be up on points on dice-down.
Some of the poor match-ups include the Changehost list by Corey Beilharz, and that nasty Tristan Smith Nurgle filth. Let’s hope for Matt that draws he draws one of those in Focal Points!
Coolest List: Rohit Thomas, Skaventide
How cool is this list? A 200+ rat strong tidal wave of filthy vermin. This is what a Skaven list should look like. Let’s hope Rohit Thomas hasn’t lost his mind during painting before he gets to the start of the tournament.
The Bell and the Furnace give bravery immunity with two ~30″ diameter bubbles, which should keep this army from taking Battleshock tests. The Arch Warlock should be the priority target, but with a 2+ save in cover and a -1 to hit (as well as the ability to Scurry Away), it is deceptively hard to kill. This list dares the opponent to charge them, risking shots from those Acolytes at (buffed) h2+w4+ D3+1 wounds, rerolling everything. Then the Monks will counter charge with their 160 attacks, with Death Frenzy allowing them to attack when slain.
When allowed to advance, this list can be a nightmare to remove off the objectives, with 200 BS immune foot rats. The big downside is the high drop and dependency on the two war machines. When they go down, this list is in trouble. But against most lists it is pretty easy to screen them out for 3 to 4 turns, by which time the game is already decided. Lists like Jake Gunning’s piggy list are probably not going to be able to do enough damage quickly enough to avoid being overrun, and have no reach to take out a Bell or Furnace.
This list is going to have a rough old time against Sentinel murder by Terrence Voller for instance. Anti-bravery tech Mortek Crawlers will also be an issue, like in that disgusting David Fizzell Double Crawler – Double Harvester list. Even though that army is a bit light on damage output, it is a nightmare to get through and this list might not have the reach to get to the Harvester.
The high drop count means it will rarely get the choice for first turn, and might get speedbumbed quite badly by some lists, like Matt Tyrell’s Spirit Hosts. And if the warmachines do go down, that Battleshock is going to be brutal due to the Shrieker Host battalion. It also means the Gnawholes are not going to be used, as the unit will move outside of the bubble.
But hey, even if Rohit does lose a game, he will do it like a true Skaven overlord, pushing 200 lesser rats forward to do his bidding.
Joel Hennessy – New South Wales
Based in Sydney, Joel is one of the top Destruction players in Australia. Joel followed up an excellent 4-1 performance at Sydney GT (rocking a double Colossal Squig list, no less!) by taking out Best Destruction at Cancon 2019 with his Gloomspite Gits.
Power Pick: Tyson Gleeson, Fyreslayers
The main reason for making this army my Power Pick is those 2x 20 blocks of Hearthguard in the face of the sheer number of combat armies entering the tournament. There will likely be some tough matchups for the list in the form of Kharadron or the gunline Lumineth, but I believe this list will still have some legs even then, and will be dependent on the scenarios they draw.
There’s not going to be too many surprises with this list – Lords of the Lodge, double pile-in Hearthguard are just really solid and can take an absolute beating. Most people should know what they’re doing against Fyreslayers by now, but if you make any mistakes this army will just roll over you.
I would expect that this list will likely go 4-1 with a possibility of 5-0.
Coolest List: Matt Tyrrell, Nighthaunt
This is going to be an interesting list, particularly with the number of low-bravery Destruction armies in the form of Ogors and Warclans. I’m concerned (as with most Nighthaunt armies) that it just won’t have the staying power to avoid the beatdown that is coming, but it has a ton of tricks and a cunning general may be able to get a lot out of this army.
Kurdoss will be potentially stealing critical CPs to deal damage, meanwhile every casualty potentially causes you to lose a bunch of models (potentially multi-wound ones too) through bravery debuffs and the denial of Inspiring Presence.
Really cool list and I hope it does well. I’d really like to see this list go at least 3-2 with the possibility of 4-1 and in the running for Best Death.
Donal Taylor, Northern Ireland
Donal is one of the world‘s most accomplished competitive wargamers. His many achievements include a Top 10 at London GT 2018 with Stoneklaw’s Gutstompa’s Allegiance, and 5-0 at Facehammer GT 2018 with Mixed Destruction. Donal also ruined the Command Ability “I’m Da Boss, Now Stab ‘Em Good” for the rest of us forever, by unleashing Moonclan Grots with a Damage characteristic of 128 per swing on a world that just wasn’t ready.
As an Irishman who’s never played a game of Age of Sigmar in Australia, I always feel honoured to be considered for these article reviews. As such my lack of knowledge of individuals within the scene often mean I get the personalities, and picks, incredibly wrong. That won’t stop me though.
Power Pick: Corey Beilharz, Disciples of Tzeentch
I struggled between two lists here: Tyson and his Fyreslayers, and Corey with his Changehost. I saw that Tyson donated prizes in the pack so I decided to
attack do a write up on Corey instead.
Corey may or may not like to ask the question that every wargamer wants to know: What’s the least fun army to play against? And he’s brought it in spades with Changehost. Though he did decide to make it slightly easier for his opponents by only bringing units of 10 Pinks instead of 20, and minimum heroes (no Blue Scribes, Changeling or my personal bane, the Gaunt Summoner).
So granted, not the strongest Changehost in the world, but he does have Flamers (the OG Salamanders in terms of undercosted shooting units) and Destiny Dice.
The lack of (significant) shooting and bodies at the event should help propel
the list Corey forward. And if he doesn’t, just remember, I actually meant to pick Tyson instead.
Coolest List: Stephen Binek, Ogor Mawtribes
There was only one real choice for me here, and that is my new Warhammer Hero, Stephen Binek. He’s bringing not 1, not 2, not 3…you see where this is going… not 6 but SEVEN THUNDERTUSKS. He’s gonna be pumping out mortal wounds like they’re going out of fashion and will almost certainly win at least 1 game.
How does the army work: Basically, it shoots things with its mediocre breath attack (remember when that was the terror of the Mortal Realms, and left Sigmar quaking in his boots?). But he does also have 6 Blood Vultures pumping out mortal wounds. Either way, he should be comfortably killing 1 support hero a turn with the vultures, and doing between 14 and 42 further mortal wounds (while the Thundertusks are in the top bracket).
Is this meta breaking? No.
But is Stephen a hero for painting up seven Thundertusks? Yes. Yes he is.
Also – narratively this is the coolest list, so it’s a double win.
Quick shout out to Martin Brooks running a 3 drop Bloodgullet Eurlbad list. This is a great list and anyone taking something similar with Boulderhead is a fool (thats right Peter I mean you); and Cody Howden, who is bringing all the Squigs (which proves that at least someone in Australia gets White Dwarf). Bringing 3 Loonbosses on Giant Cave Squig, what a hero.
So there you have it! Can’t wait to get stuck in, roll beers, drink dice and do it all again on the Sunday.
Thanks to everyone for their contributions and analysis, and for this weekend in particular: May Gork bring me strength, may Mork bring me wisdom.