Staring is Caring: Drakkfoot at Snake Eyes GT, Part Two

Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world. Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!

~ Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes

After banging on at length about how much I loved my current Bonesplitterz list, I promised I’d do a write-up on the tourney itself. If you’re wondering how I won all my games but still only went 4-1, let’s relive the highs and lows from what was a pretty wild ride.

Ready?  Let’s go.

Day 0

“There’s no car faster than a hire car”, so the saying goes.  Well we spent our Friday night in the Airbnb slamming contrast paints onto Tyson’s Sylvaneth, and let me tell you: that stuff can go on real quick when you’re chucking it at someone else’s models.  We all chipped in and bashed it out together, fueled by a slab of Carlton that Tyson had brought to the working bee, and woke up the next day ready for war.

Day 1

Round 1 potentially included a mission with 30” deployment and that stressed the hell out of me, especially when we got the pairings a couple of days out and I was up against a whole bunch of Namarti Reavers.

Round 1: Leo Li, Idoneth Deepkin

Running down an Order gunline I can do, but that whole extra turn of shooting on the way in is one too many.  So when the missions were announced and we got the 22” deployment, I’m not gonna lie – I popped a huge green boner.

The Opposition

Leo is new to the tournament scene but a very thoughtful player, and I reckon he’ll do well.  He was rocking an Idoneth gunline with enough Namarti Reavers to punch out plenty of pain, and remove roughly 25% of my army with each volley.  The flipside being that if I can get into them, the troops will just be slaughtered en masse.  Between Purple Sun and his magic loadout, Leo was set up to crack good armour saves with rend -3 shooting, but the joke’s on him: my armour saves are fucking terrible across the board, so he’d overinvested in that aspect for this matchup.

The Strategy

Well I’m not gonna stand there and get shot off, am I?  Thing is, I’ve got plenty of units that can turn his Reavers into a red puddle at first contact.  If I can pregame move up the board and park my tanks on his lawn without overcommitting, not only does Leo have to take first turn (putting me on for the double), but I can essentially dictate which units he has to shoot off.

Rather than smooshing our two Krondspines together, I aimed to deploy mine on the opposite side (high drop privilege) because a fast, moderately hard hitting unit is way more threatening to his archers than Leo’s equivalent is to my tarpit troops.  I’m happy to bog down his Incarnate with Morrboyz while mine goes on the rampage, and I had no interest in engaging in the head to head until I’d bracketed Leo’s at least once, so my own Krondalicious would walk out the other side intact.

By managing my resources in this way, I should be able to engineer a big turn 2 where I soak up Unleash Hell with the Big Stabbas then rip the heart out of Leo’s army.  Let’s see how it goes.

How It Played Out

Yeah, pretty much that.  Leo had to take first turn or see me tear a big chunk out of his army, so he did take it – and unfortunately, by moving his Krondspine up to claim the central objective, he ended up within 12” of Starey McLaserface.  Oops.

My Wurrgog stared at him like he was an attractive female at a Warhammer tournament, and he went down a bracket like he was one of my opponents at a Warhammer tournament.  With my own Krondspine at Level Two, as long as I didn’t do anything dumb (such as casting Ravenak for Leo’s Krondspine to snack on), I knew I had the edge in that one.  I got my pigs into Leo’s archers and when Prio went my way, that one was wrapped up nice and early.

Side Bar: Priority Roll

One thing worth touching on here is playing around the Priority roll – it’s something I see discussed online a lot.  And when I say discussed, what I mean is that Facebook-tier players whinge about the existence of Prio, and good players tell them to play around it, but the conversation rarely goes much deeper than that.  That’s partly because you can’t reason with Facebook-tier players, but what you can do is lecture them (if you’ve got your own little soapbox), so here goes.

You could write whole articles on playing around Prio but one thing I tried to do in this game (and across the tournament) is piling in with my units to tag as many opposing units as possible within 3”.  What that means is that if I do lose Priority, I’m controlling what my opponent can shoot at, and / or preventing them moving up the board and charging me.  This is why retreat and charge is a rule that always excites competitive players – it gives them a way around being tagged in combat – and that, in turn, is why Krondspine is so fucking powerful right now. 

Forget everything else, it’s the No Retreat rule that makes him, just as it made Bonegrinz in the last Warclans book.  Granted, Nighthaunt switches him off to a large extent (rend 0 damage 1 is sadface when you’re paying for rend -2 damage 2), but I beat the spooky ghosts convincingly in a practice match mainly because Krondspine locked up their whole “Lozenge of Doom” for most of the game.

The best outcome of all is tagging combat units within 3” of you but behind their own screens – so they can’t fight you, but they also can’t get away from you without retreating and wasting a whole turn.  Top players will rarely let you do this, but always keep an eye out for the opportunity.

Lessons Learned

I reckon Leo will do really well at AOS if he sticks the course, because in our conversation after the game he nailed exactly where it was won and lost.  Leo could have deployed in a much more condensed formation and used layers of troops to protect each other: specifically, the game would have gone a lot deeper if his units of 10 Reavers were protecting his unit of 20, with the 20 perched just behind to Unleash Hell each time.  Advancing as a block up the centre, with his Sharks and Krondspine leaping out to cap objectives and hit isolated units, would have made my life really tough. 

Leo went on to record a solid 3-2 result at the event and we checked in on each other over the weekend, so I’m hoping to see you around at future events mate – but you’ll forgive me for being delighted that I charged down an Order Gunline in Round 1.

Result: Major Victory to the Bonesplitterz

Round 2: Dan Trotter, Seraphon

Here we go!  Win Round 1, and straight into Thunder Lizards on Table 1.  Dan’s a fuggin legend and we’ve played once before at Summer Smash, so I knew it would be a good experience as well as a good challenge. 

The Opposition

Dan was packing a scary Seraphon list, with Kroaky Boy backed up by a double-tapping Bastilodon, an Engine of the Gods and the classic support Hero package.  Dan’s own twist on the list was a block of 30 Skinks and a bunch of MSU Saurus Knights in Bounty Hunters – although they don’t have a great reputation amongst spoilt bastards Seraphon players, those things can chuck out a lot of dice at damage 2 and they’re not to be trifled with.

The Strategy

Well I’m not gonna stand there and get shot off, am I?  Dan loaded up one side which gave me the opportunity to lock up the opposite side on the cheap (again – high drop privilege).  My plan there was to secure my right hand objective with the Big Stabbas and then run them up to claim Battle Tactics later in the game.  That would allow me to overload the centre and undercommit to Dan’s castle on the opposite side, forcing Dan to fight on two fronts while I only need to push forward on one.  Essentially the aim is to put 90% of my army into 50% of Dan’s.

How It Played Out

Well my Wurrgog took a golf club to the cane toad and out-magicked Kroak in the early game.  Having Mork’s Boney Bits and the Incarnate – plus Arcane terrain – meant that I was casting and Dispelling at +4 with a reroll (and that’s without even getting the Krondspine close enough to Kroaky Boy to nerf his casting).  I reckon Dan was shell-shocked after the first turn when I’d pushed through both of my own spells through and denied two of his.

We had a rolling series of mini battles on the left hand side of the board, with the Saurus Knights doing some serious work at damage 2, but when the chips were down Starey McLaserface stared at Dan’s army like it was wearing a Bonesplitterz t-shirt in Young & Jacksons on a Saturday night.  In my first hero phase I stared off a unit of Knights that were inconveniently blocking my access to the centre objectives; the next turn I stared off his Bastilodon; and when I stared off the Engine of the Derps in the 3rd hero phase, that’s when Dan chucked in the towel.

The Wardokk did his job here because the healing dance (on a 3+) combined with Heroic Recovery (only fails on a 9+) means you can quite reliably heal your ‘Goggs back up ready to go again.  When you go from 6 wounds taken back down to 2, get ready to open up your shoulders and watch your opponent silently die inside.

Hey remember that time Kroak rolled a natural 10 to cast and still got unbound?

Side Bar: Ravenak’s Massive Fail

Ravenak had a real chance to shine here, with those ludicrously undercosted Skink heroes lurking around and tormenting me.  I cast it on a 16 (fuck you Kroak) and got a big move on the reroll – enough to fly over to his little hero bubble and pop one of the little fuckers on a 2+.

Can you guess what I rolled?  Can you take a wild fucking guess what I rolled?  Motherfucker.

In the next Hero Phase I had to tuck Ravenak away with a Dispell, to prevent those bastards from Binding the damn thing and chucking it back at me.  And so his saga ends.

Lessons Learned

If you can roll like a legend, Wurggogs are really nice.  But don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret.  I reckon I’m the only person who’s cottoned on that infinite mortal wounds are good.  You’re welcome.

In truth, all you ever hear online are the times he goes off. You never hear about the failures, and the times when you flush hundreds of points down the shitter just to destroy a chunk of your own army.  The insanity is priced in: for illustration, at my last event before this one, across five games Starey McLaserface (and with the 4++ ward Artefact mind you) killed a grand total of 3 models.  All of which were himself.

The little bastard owed me, and in this game poor Dan copped it big time.

Result: Major Victory to the Bonesplitterz

Round 3: Wayne Buck, Skaven

Wayne doesn’t mess around – he’s a top, top player and fresh from taking out a big Measured Gaming event in Victoria, so facing a bloke like him on Table 1 is what you play the game for. 

The Opposition

A true competitor, Wayne was rocking an interesting Skaven build with a couple of artillery pieces backing up the Censer Bearer insanity and the Verminlord brutality…with a cheeky side order of Thanquol.  Worth noting that Wayne had gone for the “all-comers” 2+2 loadout on Thanquol which I really rate, because it means he’s always a menace in every phase of the game.

The Strategy

Nice 5++ ward you have on your Monsters there…be a shame if anything happened to it.  I do play against Skaven a lot locally, so I have the cadence down in terms of committing enough to punch through the Clanrats then being in position to rip into the heart of the army.  That being said there’s nothing in the game that trades like Censer Bearers, so you really have to pick your moment (and your unit) to engage with them. Oh, and if I could please roll like an absolute God of War throughout, that would be nice too.

How It Played Out

I expected this one to be a classic, and boy did it deliver.  Wayne was a fantastic opponent and the game was played in a great spirit, both players declaring their intent at all times and creating a rolling, complex puzzle to solve.  Thanquol and the Verminlord buffed my own Unbinds, which in turn meant that it was hard for Wayne to get off Death Frenzy, which in turn helped to tip the scales on the trading game my way. 

Credit: Games Workshop via Wahapedia

I started out by pregame moving aggressively forward, with the Hunters units ready to swoop in as Wave Two once the screens were dealt with.  I did have a dilemma in terms of how to deal with the big Monsters: fight them with Morrboyz to get weight of dice and switch off Wards, or try and knock them off with Kronspine and level him up?  In the end I chipped a few wounds off Thanquol with the Wurggog Mask and finished him off with Krondspine – the Masks were only a minor factor in this game but if Krondy rolls well, that’s a lot of 5++ wards he’s forcing through, and it proved to be more than Thanquol could handle.

We were slapping each other about in the middle while I tried to break through on the top right flank, and just hold on the bottom left.  Censer Bearers will lift a unit every time but without Death Frenzy the dynamic changes significantly and they are swapping units one-for-one instead of the common “Heads I win, Tails you lose” scenario they can engineer.  I managed to blow a few up with the Wurrgog’s warscroll spell too so by the time I engaged with them, I had too many units in their vicinity and the right hand section of the board was mine.

Wayne doesn’t give up easily and he fought to the last rat – leaping units through his Gnawhole to get away from the heat and apply his own pressure to my weaker left hand side.  Wayne keeps asking question after question of your army, like a physician poking his patient and asking “Is this where it hurts?  How about here?”  Deep into the game (I’m going to say bottom of 3) Wayne got his Verminlord into my Morrboys on the bottom left objective, aiming to punch through them, secure the Objective and then rip into my Heroes.

I’d been holding the 4++ Waaagh in reserve (letting units die early to the Censer Bearers) and this is where it came in clutch.  Man those Verminlords smack you so fucking hard, but the Waaagh turn kept 2 Morrboyz standing and this is where the Expert Conquerors Battalion really had its moment. Thanks to that, those two straggling models were enough to retain the Objective from Wayne’s Monster and keep him in combat if Wayne got priority.  Even worse for Wayne was that it denied him his Eye for an Eye Battle Tactic, and with my dominant position on the rest of the board I was just too far ahead at that point.

Representative sample of how I rolled for this whole game

Lessons Learned

This was probably the first time Expert Conquerors had been a major factor in one of my games, and I must admit it felt pretty good.  Worth a mention for those of you going that higher drop route – which generally means taking a Warlord Battalion – is the timing on using your Warlord CP. 

In a nutshell, I always take mine in the second Battle Round.  You will always make productive use of it while shit is going down, so it’s just one little fragment of mental energy you can save yourself.  Don’t stress, take it Round 2, job’s a good un.

Result: Major Victory to the Bonesplitterz

Saturday night with my main man Pat, shortly before it all went wrong

Day 2

And we’re playing on top tables Day 2, let’s gooooooo!

The draw overnight

Round 4: Pat Nevan, Maggotkin of Nurgle

So here I am, sitting on 3-0 overnight and with what should be a favourable matchup on paper.  Drakkfoot into Nurgle was one of the main reasons I took Bonesplitterz, so I was happy with the draw, but Pat is a serious opponent and not to be taken lightly. 

The Opposition

Pat is more than capable of winning any game with any army against any opponent, as he has proven time and again with multiple 5-0s to his name.  Sadly we never got to see how this one would play out because I went way too hard on the piss on Saturday night and missed the start.  Idiot.

How It Played Out

By the time I dragged myself in there I was already timed out, so that’s a 20-0 to Pat.  Pat goes on to the big dance, and I was bumped down to Table 5 for my last game.

Lessons Learned

Ummm….maybe I need to grow the fuck up?  Failing to turn up for a game on Table 1 is pretty bloody weak.  So let me take the opportunity to apologise to Pat for denying him a game, and to Sam and the other TOs for messing up the event.  It wasn’t good enough.

Result: Major Loss by Forfeit

Round 5: Michael Clarke, Cities of Sigmar

Well it’s time to pick myself up and get back in the game.  It’s another tough matchup vs Australia’s Michael Clarke on Table 5, and regardless of where my head was at you can’t just scurry off home.  So chin up and let’s face the music.

The Opposition

Fate brings me and Clarkey together at almost every event, and we’ve had a good back and forth rivalry over the years.  I’m sure he’s got a spreadsheet with his exact win-loss ratio against everyone he’s ever played because he’s extremely analytical but suffice to say we’ve had some classics. 

The Strategy

Oh look!  An Order army with a whole bunch of shooting.  Can’t remember the last time I played against one of those. 

OK, we know what we’re doing here. Stabbas and pigs up the board and let’s go.

How It Played Out

I’ll be honest, my energy levels were pretty low for this one and I didn’t really give my mate Clarkey the thriller we usually have.  With the firepower coming out of those Reavers, I knew I was on the clock, so I had to punch through those chaff screens then rip and tear.

My plan was then to tie up Krondis with Krondspine, and make a big upwards trade by locking down a far bigger points-sink up in a slap fight.  That would give my Wurrgogs the chance to wander forward and stare him off while my Hunters rip the Pointy-Ears to shreds.

Mick had made a little castle but did need to contest the wide Objectives, meaning there was a bit of skirmishing around the edge while the true battle happened in the centre.  I played the already-familiar game of baiting out overwatch with credible threats but when I nailed a long bomb charge that could get me through a gap and into his Reavers, I had to take it.

The thing about Reavers is that they are so bloody consistent and naturally offset the penalty to Unleash Hell.  The flipside is that because you know roughly how much damage they will push through, you have a good idea what you’ll cop and the spike potential is just as limited as the whiff potential.  They’ll hit and wound with most of their attacks, and it is what it is.

A bit of head maths told me they’d very likely leave one Boarboy alive, and I had to take that chance.  That’s one model with 8 attacks at damage 2, and given that I’d already thinned the ranks with the Wurrgog’s warscroll spell, that should be enough to cripple or kill the unit.  At that point Clarkey would just be down to his Fulminators and Krondis, so it was a chance to get a real stranglehold on the game.

And that’s exactly what happened.  One Maniak got through the hail of fire and massacred a whole bunch of Reavers – Bounty Hunters in full working motion, and it was a beautiful thing to see.  My Incarnate and Morrboys had already butchered the screening Aelves, and with Inspiring Presence needed to keep the last few straggling Reavers around, the wide objectives were mine.  I got the priority, locked up Krondy with Krondy and after that it was just a matter of feeding chaff to the Fulminators while racking up the VPs.

Pictured, Left to Right: Dalton’s arse, Clarkey’s face

Lessons Learned

By this point everyone is well aware of what Wurggog Masks can do, but people are really sleeping on his warscroll spell.  That thing is the hidden filth in the army and it’s worth the investment in buffed casting for that alone.

Result: Major Victory to the Bonesplitterz


Celebrating Success

Hats off to Sean O’Callaghan-Daft for picking up Best Opponent at the event. I don’t think we’ve ever met but in a room packed full of legends, this man stood out, so he must be an absolute king. I hope we get the chance to roll dice soon.

Let’s give a shout out to Lachlan McClean for running Sean very, very close in the Best Opponent stakes while racking up a 5-0, which is a really special achievement. Speaking of which…

The Podium

Winner: Lachlan McClean, 5-0 with Serpahon (now do it with Gloomspite!)

Runner Up: Alex Krohn, 5-0 with Kharadron Overlords

3rd Place: Pat Nevan, 4-1 with Nurgle

Destruction Focus

My own 4-1 made me the top Destruction player in 7th place. Shout out to my boy Icetea who racked up a strong 3-2 with his Ironjawz (single Cabbage plus an Incarnate in Bloodtoofs) and joined me as the only other Destro player with a winning record.

I was surprised that my mate Dalton Copeland could only rustle up a 2-3 with what looked like a highly competitive Big Waaagh toolkit army (apparently dice were a big factor), and our clubmate NC Dave‘s sexy Kragnos + Stonehorns build unfortunately laboured to a 1-4. Tauriel Black could only win one game with his Giants and apologies if I’ve missed anyone else, but sadly it wasn’t a great weekend for Team Green in general.


Conclusion

Well I guess this will always be “the one that got away”.  Fuck knows what would have happened on Day Two if I’d fronted up: I reckon I was slightly favoured in one matchup (Nurgle) and a corresponding underdog in the other (KO), but certainly within margin of error in both cases.  You’ve got experienced players who know how to look for an opening on both sides of the table, and I could easily have won both, either or neither.  We’ll never know.

I obviously wanted that 5-0 but if that was my main or only goal, I wouldn’t have spent the last 7 years running nothing but Destro armies through thick and thin.  The truth is I’ve got nothing but good memories of this event from a competitive gaming viewpoint: I spent all weekend repping my favourite faction on top tables against top opponents with top armies, and I beat the lot of them. 

Bearing in mind that we Victorians missed out entirely on Sons of Behemat’s reign of terror in early 3rd Ed due to lockdowns, this is honestly the strongest army I’ve ran in years.  Every game felt like stepping into a boxing match with a nuclear bomb strapped to both fists, and I walked away feeling uber confident in the game, in my army and in myself.

Where I’m finding it harder to look on the bright side is on a personal level – missing a game on Table 1 because you got yourself into a state the night before is just pathetic for a grown man.  I’m not in my 20s any more, and I need to have a long look in the mirror and come back stronger.  I won’t be touching whisky at tourneys any more, that’s for sure, and I’m not doing myself any favours if I gloss over that.  It’s not good enough.

To end on a brighter note, there have been a couple of great results recorded by other people with similar lists since.  My mate Calvin Rarie took a very similar Drakkfoot army to NOVA a week or two later and smashed face with it, recording a strong 4-1 of his own.  Calvin came within a bee’s dick of making the play-offs (Top 8 makes the cut, and Calvin finished in a three-way tie for 8th but missed out on tie breakers) while picking up a sick trophy for Best Destruction along the way.  Well done that man!

And the icing on the cake is that my old sparring partner Dalton Copeland rattled off a cheeky 5-0 with an Icebone version of the army to take out Bathurst GT in NSW last weekend!  I’m twisting both of their arms to write up their experiences for the blog, so hopefully you can join me in celebrating their success. 

What’s next?

I’m rapt with how well this list has done and my DMs have lit up with people keen to give their own take on it.  The event was like a heist movie where every piece of tech in the army was introduced one by one and had their moment in the spotlight.

The meta was shooting. Every army I faced had significant ranged output and there was a double-Ironclad KO army that went 5-0, so I don’t think you can go to a big competitive event (over here at least) without having a plan to tackle it. It’s essential for taking them on that the list can threaten to charge with two units in Turn One (one unit to soak up overwatch, the other to merck shit), so if I was playing an event where Tireless Trackers didn’t stack – or if it goes the way of the Gitmob – I’d want at least one more unit of Pigs in there, and probably the 8” Tireless Tracker move CT too.

I know from my DMs that I’ve sold quite a few Bonesplitterz armies for GW at this point, but I’m a bit nervous about their medium term prospects: you have to recognise that the sustained success the army has recently seen will have its consequences.  I couldn’t in good conscience advise anybody to buy in right now because I’m braced for some changes to Big Stabbas, and no doubt Krondspine is on the naughty list too. I’d have to look very carefully at moving on if Krondspine and Big Stabbas get whacked simultaneously, so let’s just see where the dust settles and hope that Ogors or Sons of Behemat get a solid Battletome, shall we?


Thanks again to Sam, Gerard and Hayden for putting on the event – it’s great to see a fire being lit under the Melbourne scene, and here’s to many more. The army played like a dream all weekend and I’ve loved seeing some other top players grabbing the baton and running their own versions of the list – and on that note, I’m rapt to say that Shirtripper will be here next Friday to tell you about his own adventures at NOVA, and I’m hoping to rope in Dalton for a write-up on Sovereign Smash too.  Come on you Boyz in Green!

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