Interview with Dave Kerr, Three-Time Australian Master

by @plasticcraic

Dave Kerr just smoked the competition to win his third Australian Masters. Over the years, he’s won mountains of trophies with new-book filth, old-book flexes and everything in-between. Dave has come out on top against the best players running the best armies – time and again. He’s been there, seen it, done it, won it.

Am I kissing his ass? You’re Gork-damn right I’m kissing his ass, and so should you. Cobber’s just won his 3rd Masters!

Credit: Australian Age of Sigmar Masters League

You and Your Army

Congrats on the big win…another big achievement, and another trophy for the cabinet.  Where does this one rank alongside your other wins?

Really high actually, the scene and meta is getting stronger each year. Coming into this event I didn’t feel very confident in getting the win and was a bit low on AoS energy to be honest. However every time I get to the table I’ll always try to push and play well. So I think a combination of all the above means I’m really proud of myself for this one.

Yeah man you should be, winning your 3rd Masters is a fantastic achievement.  Would you have brought the same list to a big singles event on the same weekend, or was the list specifically designed for a Masters field in any way?

This list was just designed as a strong list. I don’t think there is too many secrets that Helon LRL is a very good army. I didn’t have anyone in mind to try and counter as such. Just take each game as they came.

Fair.  Can you talk us through the strengths of your army and how it works?

Toolbox army through and through. There are a lot of outs and ways to control the opponent’s army. LRL generally has an answer to any problem and then also has a fairly reliable way of applying that. That gives the army a high skill ceiling that you can really leverage to win most games.

Your Triumph bid at 1910 points might have been the most aggressive I’ve ever seen: were you aiming to undercut Gloomspite specifically, or was the Triumph more important to your own army?

The list was actually 1990, warscroll builder hadn’t updated yet. The master’s event runners knew and I let my opponents know. I got the triumph once and it was nice. Under cutting GSG triumphs is actually something that has play for sure, good tech.

Ha! Finger on the pulse here hey. So the event was using new points: how much impact did the Battlescroll update have on LRL?

Absolutely none, the list still functions exactly the same with all the same tools. There was some slight tweaking as the old Helon list went up 80ish points. However the intended nerfing to one of the top lists in the game was a full swing and a miss.

Ah well, at least they battered Bonesplitterz right out of the game.  The old Destro Nerf Express: we all know that train never runs late. 

14 factions from 16 players is a hell of a spread though: were there any armies you expected to see more of / less of in that field?

It’s a really good spread and I think a good reflection on the health of our scene that there wasn’t five GSG or LRL. I certainly didn’t expect Kruleboys or two Skaven; Ogors could have been a strong contender as well that weren’t present. I did think there might have been more GSG.

Credit: @seanzor

The Games and The Event

Can you run us through games themselves, and how you went about winning them? 

1st game I was able to lock the snakes out using control spells and impassable terrain; as LRL it’s very easy to put 3 wounds on Morathi a turn. Very hard match up for DoK. 

2nd game was duck hunting, they kept coming and I kept shooting them down. This game is on stream and probably a decent one to see how I unpack a game. 

3rd game into NH, I’ve played Mat heaps in this exact matchup and I know the key pieces that make it tick (on the flip so does he), there was a pathway for NH to get the victory but the double turn couldn’t get enough done. 

4th game was controlling the board 100%, forcing Keiran to take all the risk and myself to be able to capitalise.

In every game except the second I got doubled but I wasn’t fazed by it – I was in a position where I could wear it and not lose anything of value or table control. 

Nah mate that can’t be right. Everything hinges on the priority roll, hadn’t you heard?

Now I can tell you that watching it from the outside, the coverage from Failed Charge was superb.  Did you have a sense of that while you were playing?  Did playing on stream impact the games themselves?

I’ve played on stream a few times and don’t really notice it too much, the table boss I sometimes use as a personal resource. Last game I just relayed the game score for him to record, haha. I don’t think they impact the games other than I’m trying to keep clutter to a minimum. I have watched my last game back to see if I could pick out things I could have done better and there are a couple points in the game I could have moved units to stop high chance plays from my opponents. Sometimes a 12” charge happens and setting up your army every turn to try and deny every small thing is pretty key at the top end.

Fair enough.  And how about the chess clocks: are you a fan?  Did you feel like they had an impact on the games?

Chess clocks are good at the right events, this was one of those events that was a great usage. My opponents in most games had a turn where they spent about 10 minutes thinking on the turn without making a single move or dice roll, when the clock is ticking it’s fine as it’s their time so that stress is gone. Without it 10 mins seems like a very long time and I’d potentially be pushing for them to move.

On the flip regular events shouldn’t have chess clocks, let people play out their games and have fun.

Which was your toughest game of the weekend?

My game 2 into Tzeentch was the closest and Scott is a great player. Tzeentch is another toolbox army that has outs and tricks that allows them to keep scoring and moving. That game is a trade and attrition game, I have the slight edge due to Teclis bouncing enemy spells back at them.

You know, I watched that one on stream myself and it was epic.  Scott will tell you I DM’d him afterwards to say it would probably end up being your toughest game of the event – well worth watching back for anyone keen to see the wheels in motion.

So what was the social side of the event like?  Any stories?

It was a really good atmosphere, everyone was friendly and getting amongst it. Masters is a really special experience, it’s the best players all gathered together to try and beat each other with hyper competitive lists and claim the first place, but it’s also one of the friendliest, camaradery-filled weekends you’ll go to. Everyone plays tight and hard games and then laughs and cheers on the rest playing.

I don’t have any stories as I’m so boring these days and I get up early and go to bed early. But I can guarantee your fellow Measured lads have some, they ended up at Fitzys till they kicked them out in the early hours. 

Measured Gaming: officially the drinkingest club in Australia.  I can imagine them running amok when I wasn’t there to keep them on the straight and narrow. Everything in moderation, that’s my motto.

Credit: Michael “Rocky” Thompson

Looking Ahead

Anything you’d change about the list?

No I don’t think so, it’s got about 2% fat on it with nowhere to go.

Maybe they’ll do a better job next timet they nerf it then.  I can tell you that if they had let me at Helon last time, it wouldn’t have come out the other side intact. 

And how is Worlds prep going?  Looks like we’ve got a really strong team this year. 

Worlds prep is going as well as it can for team spread over 3 countries and no one living in the same city in a country the size of most of Europe. Haha.

Our team is strong and we have taken all the lessons we learnt last year and tried to improve and remedy. I think we will have a much stronger bid this year.

Can’t wait to see it mate, I hope you serve it up to them!  And in general, how are you enjoying 3rd Ed currently?

On the whole I enjoy 3rd, I do think it’s an improvement on 2nd.

The parts I don’t like are 6 month GHB rotations, and the recent minigun of battletome releases lately, they have all gone up a notch and I’m just not into Seraphon doing stupid shit for the next 3 years.

My image is Predator 1: Dutch and the team just shooting respectable guns into the trees, then Blain the sexual tyrannosaurus comes out and just blows everything in a 100m radius apart. Blain is the last 6 battletomes.

Hahaha yeah it does feel like power creep has launched into an 18” charge over the last couple of months. 

Do you have any general tips for the readers to improve their own game?

  • Get reps into better players if you can, you’ll pick up movement tricks and the way they set up, trade units, push etc.
  • Pay for some of the coaching services around*
  • Try and visualise the entire board space and how you will control the areas you can influence. For example you might not be able to influence the centre of someone’s castle easily, but if you can control the centre objective and the left side of the board, ask yourself whether you can also apply pressure to the right side as that’s were you’ve set your opponent up to try and influence.

That makes sense: pulling resources around to trade space and influence.  From watching your games I saw you doing that with the allied Khinerai quite often: just drop them on a lonely objective so your opponent has to send something more expensive to deal with them, and you can load up your mismatches elsewhere on the board.

Credit: Michael “Rocky” Thompson

Now then.  I’m making you King of AOS for the day: give me…

  • One points increase (for any unit) – Seraphon in its entirety, I don’t care if they tank on release.  And Thunderers, they have rocks in their head if they think that unit is 135 points.
  • One points drop (for any unit) – Gutrippaz, Brutes, Orruks, please …..
  • One rule change (can be any unit or core rule) – Rally still sucks massive willies; I’d potentially make ward saves instead of making a regular save (not as well as); Gobsprakk doing anything cool; Kruleboys being renamed Cuteboys. Maybe dropping first should give you +1 to first turn roll off, instead of guaranteeing you the choice. Seraphon losing almost any rule that makes them do anything better than a current book already does.

Fuck Seraphon. Like me, you’re unfortunate enough to like Kruleboyz; but unlike me, you had to balls to take them to an event last year and smashed out a strong 4-1 with them.  What kind of shape do you think they’re in currently?  What would be on your wishlist for the army?

I love Cuteboys, I’m probably obsessed with them more than any other army. I think they are in a terrible place, they pump damage but the restrictions on everything they do are crippling.  The lack of anything really cool, everything is just average at best. I think LRL and KB’s are somewhat similar in what they do and the difference is night and day. My wish list is a full rewrite of the army in a modern way where you aren’t fighting against your own rules to do things, but instead the army works within itself. Kruleboys models are fairly heavily armoured with big fuckoff scary shields, a 4+ save wouldn’t break the bank. I could complain for hours about them at the moment, it’s sad and GW should fuck Seraphon off and get the next Warclans book out.  

Well said Dave, I knew we’d get along!  Totally agree on the 4+ save too by the way, I’ve been saying that for ages.  Those shields are a huge part of their fluff and their aesthetic, so they should give out a 4+ save at minimum.  They could also do something cool like a 5+ magic ignore too (since they are baby Kragnos shields).

Now I reckon the world looks at Australia how Australia looks at Queensland: a land packed with glorious sunshine, beautiful beaches and a whole lot of rednecks.  Hot weather, cold beer and a wild AOS scene.  How is the scene in QLD these days?  

I had no idea that Aus thought QLD were rednecks haha. We do have sunshine, great beaches and very good looking people.**
The QLD scene hasn’t caught up to pre-Covid yet but it’s starting to really ramp up again with events coming out thick and fast. We are lucky to have a lot of good players in the SEQ area and it’s a good time. Most of the year I love my QLD brothers and sisters. During State of Origin (rugby league) they are scum and my enemy.

If you want a good time come to QLD.

Credit: The Betoota Advocate

Haha well maybe that’s just my own anti-Maroon bias coming through. As you will know, Joel McGrath is a big League fan and he barracks hard for the Maroons, so I go for the Blues just to be a dickhead.  We have a slab on the Origin every year and that shit is getting expensive, so any chance to have a cheap crack at The Bluey State and I’m there.

Who do you game with in Queensland these days?  We had a ball when we came up to RuneAxe last year but I wouldn’t be super clued up on who is tight with who up there.

I play on TTS a bit with a bunch of different peeps in Aus. Locally I play with the Mango Mafia lads and Simple Math crew a lot. I try to get around a bit when I can.

I was thinking about this the other day but QLD scene and clubs don’t actually revolve around a store or gaming club but just groups of people from all over. I think this is pretty cool actually, we aren’t bound to suburbs/towns and have about 5 gaming stores that we frequent in Brisbane. Most of QLD is tight with QLD, good bunch, surprising what a bit of sun does for the soul.

You’ve got some lifestyle up there for sure.  Have you got a movie or music recommendations for the people out there?

  • Predator 1 and 2. Top Gun 1 and 2. Legend of Vox Machina. Most Will Ferrell movies. Zack Snyder’s DC universe.
    I’m sure with the above I’ve painted myself as a Giga chad. So let’s chuck Pursuit of Happyness in there as well.
  • Music you do you, I listen to so much different shit.  Currently my listening is actually audio books with the Stormlight series right now.

Not sure if you follow the soccer at all, but when Brazil won the World Cup for the third time in 1970, they were allowed to keep the Jules Rimet trophy forever, and FIFA had to commission a new one.  Has there been any talk from the Masters committee about something special to commemorate your 3rd win?

No, but I’m probably going to keep the hammer. If I don’t break it smashing watermelons first. They also told me I have to engrave my own name on the side with the year, so I’m going to use the entire space left for that one. Probably better to just let me keep it.

Hahahahaha.  Well they’ve had fair warning now.  Any shoutouts you wanna give?

Mango Mafia and the QLD scene, Gobsprakk you loser I’ll shout you out too.

Cheers Dave. Good luck for the 4-peat next year.

*The guys at OnwardsAoS really know their shit, I’d start with them

**Facebook stalk Jimmy from Runeaxe Radio if you don’t believe him. 

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