Back home in London Town.
Hot on the heels of the Warhammer Fest, I was on home turf at the London Grand Tournament. I had claimed 3rd place at the Fest and 1st place was on my sights.
I was a little tired for this event however. I had been playing Shadespire for almost 7 days straight and I was bordering on burning out. London is also a very tough area for my Skaven as it’s the home of aggro play in the UK. Everyone knows how I play due to all the weekly meet-ups and many of them being on the receiving end of a blood-thirst Skritch. The players in London have also dramatically improved in skill and are some of the best players in the country.
Still I was hopeful and ready. I had already claimed the 3 big stores in London as my own for Shadespire (Warboar, Magic Madhouse and Darksphere) and claiming the London GT as my own would be the icing on the cake.
The new beta rules were in use so there was no need to use my new Reaver warband as SCE relics were dead (a good thing in my book). Sadly I had finally found the perfect counter to relics (about an 80% win rate vs them) and other warbands (you have to play out of your mind with it however) but I’m happy that the issue was addressed for the health of the game. My Skaven were back in action. Here’s the deck:
Objectives (12) (19☆):
#146 Arm’s Length (☆*)
#154 Skritch is the Greatest, Yes-yes (☆*)
#234 Advancing Strike (☆*)
#235 Alone in the Darkness (☆☆)
#243 Change of Tactics (☆*)
#257 Escalation (☆☆)
#272 Master of War (☆)
#282 Ploymaster (☆)
#284 Precise Use of Force (☆*)
#291 Superior Tactician (☆☆☆)
#292 Supremacy (☆☆☆)
#305 Victorious Duel (☆☆*)
Power Cards (22):
#159 Musk of Fear
#329 Great Concussion
#331 Hidden Paths
#332 Illusory Fighter
#347 Quick Thinker
#348 Ready for Action
#368 Time Trap
#372 Twist the Knife
#166 Bodyguard for a Price
#171 Sneaky Stab-Stab
#373 A Destiny to Meet
#376 Awakened Weapon
#384 Deathly Fortitude
#391 Great Strength
#395 Incredible Strength
#410 Shadeglass Dagger
#412 Shadeglass Hammer
#424 Tethered Spirit
I swapped out Trapped for Arm’s Length. I was not sure about it as Arm’s Length forces you into bad positions for Skritch but I preferred it over Defensive Strike. It was a last-minute change but time would tell if I was right to do so.
Round 1 brought me up against a lovely chap named Thomas. He was running aggro Stormcast and was already a fan of my blog, clearly a great dude from the start. I was a bit worried about the match-up though. As an old aggro Stormcast player (they where what got me famous in the first place) I knew how tough they can be for Skaven as well as how they operated.
Game 1 started off with a neutral affair. I held back and played the defensive game. I needed glory first to get Skritch into the range of killing Stormcasts in 1 hit while also starving them of glory as well. After a phase 1 of drawing cards, I managed to score Ploymaster for a 1 glory lead. Phase 2 was a weird affair. Both our attacks kept bouncing off each other or failing to hit. Either way I managed to score a cheeky Alone in the Darkness for a cheeky 2 Glory. Phase my attacks all failed again but my opponent made a successful charge kill and got a glory. The end of phase 3 was super tense, I knew he had Denial in the deck and I had failed to get anyone over to his board. Scoring nothing, I expected a loss until my opponent told me he had also scored nothing! I had secured a might 3/1 win.
Game 2 started off cautiously again but Skritch went in early and managed to get a kill. Sadly in Phase 2 he met his demise and my gameplan began to fall apart. I managed to gain some glory back but the damage had been done. I scored my secondaries to achieve a 4/6 loss. Low scoring again but the loss would be a big impact for my Grand Clash progression.
Taking a minute to focus, we went into game 3. Once again phase 1 was super cautious. I edged in a Ploymaster while my opponent was successfully starved of glory. I gave an inspired Skritch Great Strength and waited out for phase 2. Once again it was very tense, my opponent’s attacks failed and I was able to push Brightshield into a corner while also doing 2 wounds in damage. Skritch made a sneaky last-minute charge against Sevrin, rolling 1 hit vs my opponent’s 2 dodges. I killed him in one hit, scoring Victorious Duel and a few other objectives too. With such a huge jump in glory and getting a kill, my opponent was unable to score again. Powering up my rats, I wiped out the rest of the Stormcast and ended up winning 16/0.
It was a great set of tense games with a great opponent. Thomas told me he had been reading my Steelheart articles which were very helpful to him. I was happy to hear that but also mentioned that I know how aggro-cast play inside and out so it was always going to be a difficult game based on who’s dice broke first.
Round 2 was against Paul, a fellow HATEr and gaming buddy of mine. Sadly we had literally played each other the night before and tried to swap but were unable to do so. It was going to be a HATE rumble to the death…
Starting off, we both prepared each other for the stand-off. The night before I had shown him how damaging starving an aggro deck can be so this time he was prepared for my tricks. Throughout the phases we each slowly stood our ground, waiting for the first mistake. Riptooth made an appearance with Hidden Paths in my back end but then failed an attack. Skritch moved in and the dog was poked to death from afar by the warlord. While being ahead in phase 1, in phase 2 my opponent was able to get a kill and catch up to my glory gain. Phase 3 was super tense and we both lost fighters evening out on us both being at 7 glory each. With no other objectives scored I was able to eek out 1 glory thanks to a phase 2 A Destiny to Meet and won 8/7.
Game 2 was just like the first, we both stood our ground and waited for the first move. With back and forth drawing of cards and cycling objectives I scored nothing whereas my opponent scored Alone in the Darkness. Phase 2 was a bunch of failed attacks but now each of us where in each other’s face. It ended with no kills but I had scored Ploymaster. Phase 3 began with us bouncing off each other again. Unfortunately I had made an error, I sent off Hungering Skaven deep into enemy territory but gave Deathly Fortitude to Skritch instead. With a clever timing of Daemonic Resilience, I couldn’t get the 4th activation kill after my opponent killed Hungering so I ended up losing 1/3.
With 20 minutes remaining, we began game 3. It was more standoff-ish again but at the end of phase 1 I sent in Skritch deep. He didn’t get a kill but was able to do some damage. With my passive objectives I was able to get a few glory over my opponent and buff up the boss. Phase 2 was where Skritch survived the onslaught of the fiends and managed to kill the dog as well as one of the lesser warriors. As we finished off round 2 time was called so sadly we had to call it there just as I had gotten the aggro ball rolling. Still I managed achieve a 7/4 victory but at the cost of a 2-1 win with a small glory gain.
The games were super close and tense, a testament to how well Paul played and had adapted from the games we played the day before.
Round 3 had me paired against Daniel again, somehow it seems we are always fated to play each other in the 3rd round at almost every Grand Clash we meet. He was riding high at the top of the tournament while I was at the bottom of players with 2 round wins. Once again we did try to swap around but there was no one on 6 tournament points and 2 losses so we had to play each other sadly. He was running his Reavers again and neither of us really wanted to play each other at such a crucial stage in the tournament but sadly we had to do what was asked of us.
Game 1 started off with Arnulf charging into Krrk. Sadly he fluffed the dice rolls and Krrk struck back, netting me 2 glory from the kill. He then took a hit from Karsus but hit back and Twisted the knife to kill him in return. Luckily surviving an assault from Garek, Skritch charged in and wounded the Reaver leader. We both managed to get glory in phase 1 but I was in the lead. Phase 2 started with Skritch killing Garek and netting Victorious Duel but also inspired the Reavers. Krrk then died to Targor who was then killed by a clanrat after Skritch baited out Saek and then teleported away. Going into phase 3, I was able to wipe out the Reavers and win 13/10.
Game 2 started off with another failed charge with Reavers. After getting some glory and drawing a card, I sent Skritch into the backfield. His first attack missed Saek but then I Time Trapped and killed him, netting me 3 glory and cycling my deck. I then used Musk of Fear to put Skritch on Guard and brave the ensuing assault. Garek charged in and did 2 wounds. Next Karsus charged in scoring 2 hits. I was trapped. It looked like the end for Skritch but I was able to roll that all important crit! Gambling, I gave Skritch Great Strength and hoped for priority. Going into phase 2, I went first! I rolled a crit against Garek and he died, netting me Victorious Duel and Precise Use of Force. I then played Illusory Fighter to bring Skritch back to safety. The phase continued with Krrk dieing but I had gained so much glory now that I was able to upgrade everyone. Skritch killed Karsus in phase 2 and then phase 3 ended with him killing the last reaver. The game ended with a 17/3 win for me.
Once again I was able to get the momentum going first and just prevent my opponent from keeping up in glory. It was a shame as Daniel is a great opponent and friend with the scores not reflecting how good a player he is, especially with Reavers. Either way, I was now on 9 tournament points and placed 4th. The finals were in sight.
For round 4 I was playing against Laura. She was another regular London opponent of mine and our games were always tough. Recently she had been having a lot of issues with my Skaven against her Reavers and Fyre Slayers. This time she was running Farstriders, a warband I had very little experience in playing against.
Game 1 started of with a length-ways deployment. It took time to move up the board and tried going for a Supremacy but was too easily pushed off of objectives. Skritch Hidden Path’d his way in but missed his attack. Phase 2 started with me losing priority, Skritch survived the bows and then killed Farstrider with the help of Trap. I then went on to kill the other Stormcast but the third one was doing a lot of damage himself. Phase had Skritch die and I was unable to cause any damage to the remaining warband member while still suffering casualties of my own ending up in a 7/10 loss.
For game 2, I needed to win priority, which I was able to do. Now the Farstriders had nowhere to hide. Phase 1 started with my Rats wearing down the Stormcast. Then, sneakily, at the bottom of 1 I charged into Farstrider and killed him. With the boost of glory I got from that, I quickly took the lead. Phase 2 started with Skritch killing another warrior and by the end of phase 2, the Farstriders were whiped out. Phase 3 was mop-up time and I won 14/5.
Down to the line, I knew I needed to win board placement again. Luck was with me again and I had got my way. However both of us were very tense as we knew that whoever won this game would go into the final. It started off with Krrk being shot repeatedly down to 1 wound and my opponent getting a glory with Change of Tactics. This was where things got a bit messy. Due to the pressure I had misread what the Furious Blow upgrade did and charged with Lurking Skaven. Upon realising this I asked Laura if she was okay with me charging in with the 1 wound Krrk instead as that is what I would have done. She graciously allowed me to but then realised she had gotten her fighters mixed up and Swiftblade had been given the wrong upgrade as he wasn’t Eagle-Eye. As a compromise I just said we swap around the fighters and go back to the charge step again (as it would cause the least amount of disruption without a restart) to which she agreed and we continued. Krrk charged in and got a single hammer, Eagle-Eye rolled 2 dodges and took 2 damage then was pushed away. Surviving return fire, Krrkk watched on as Lurking charged Swiftblade and rolled a crit, doing 1 damage. He died but then Skritch ran in and killed the Stormcast at the bottom of phase 1, securing the needed glory. In phase 2 Krrk died but was shortly avenged by Skritch. Going into phase 3 I was ahead by a small number of glory but had to deal with Farstrider with Tethered Spirit. Skritch charged in and killed the leader in one, fell swoop but his upgrade card went off. Luckily for me, he was placed 3 hexes away. I then played Sneaky Stab-Stab and awaited a response. With nothing I then played Time Trap and killed Farstrider with a crit! I had just gotten enough glory to edge out a very tough 12/10 win.
I was totally drained but it was another set of great games against my regular opponent. It was good to see that we each corrected each other on our mistakes to make sure each person won fairly and not on punishing small mistakes that you sometimes get in other game systems, helping to reinforce how friendly the Shadespire community is. Also, I had also made it into the Saturday final! I was ranked 2nd after 4 gruelling games. I was 1 game away from my goal.
Back on the Friday before the Clash,I had wanted 2 things from this tournament: either a London final or for me to be in the final. To get both was a dream come true and not only that but a London top 4 too!
It was odd going into the final for the next day compared to of the same day as well. It gave me more time to prepare but hardly any time to warm up first. I was also excited to have the final streamed live on Twitch with WHTV in front of a live audience. Sadly, things were not meant to be.
Now what happened next was not the fault of GW and I was sad to see a lot of people lambasting them for cancelling the Shadespire stream. Due to prior events with the entrance to the London GT on the Saturday morning, the whole event was 2.5 hours behind schedule. This meant WHTV had no time to set up the Shadespire final without it starting at around 21:00/21:30 and with the venue closing around 22:00 it was all but impossible. On the upside, me and my opponent were both interviewed by John, a great member of the Warhammer Community team and the rest of the team tried their best to help us out to make up for the cancelled stream and final. We would still play but it would be far more casual than a conventional final and sadly unable to be viewed by the Shadespire fans around the world.
The final was against my opponent Alec, a regular gaming partner that I had always beaten but the games were tough and never easy. Reavers are a very tough match-up for Skaven as it can go either way depending on who gets the right kills. I knew it was too risky to go straight in for the kill so I had to mix it up.
Winning deployment, I setup the board length-ways to make as much space as possible and starve glory. My hand had 4 ploys and I had Skritch is the Greatest, Arm’s Length and Victorious Duel. I decided to keep my objectives but I should have ditched them. Anyway, we both spent time drawing cards until I played Hidden Paths and attacked Karsus at the bottom of 1. I missed, then used Illusory Fighter to get Skritch to safety. With no glory scored, we went onto phase 2 and I got rid of Victorious Duel. Karsus, on Guard charged but the terrain I was next to blocked any ranged attacks made. After that Skritch charged in and killed Karsus, netting 3 glory. In phase 3 Saek charged in and killed Krrk, netting 2 Glory. I Quick Thinker’d Skritch but a Great Concussion put me out of range. Using Ready for Action and Sneaky Stab-Stab I pushed myself into range but missed, then attacked in my next activation and did 3 damage but Sake lived due to Great Fortitude. Then un-inspired Garek charged in. He rolled a crit and hit then did Twist the Knife and Trap. Skritch died. It was pretty much game over from that point and my lead was gone, so I lost 3/6.
Game 2 started with me going for a more traditional deployment but with a chokepoint, making the Reavers only having 1 way in. Phase 1 was tense but Karsus charged in and failed again. Skritch swooped in and killed him at the bottom of 1 to score 4 glory, cycle 2 into Master of War and Escalation, score my 3 upgrades and end me on 7 glory to 2 with a Skritch that was on Guard with Tethered Spirit. I was in the corner and 2 hexes away from Garek on the other corner, aka attack range. I lost priority, but that was fine. Saek charged in and rolled a crit, I failed, then Twist the Knife and rolled for Tethered Spirit. I failed and Skritch died. Then my opponent Sidestep’d into Krrk. I originally used Confusion on Krrk and Festering but then swapped Saek into the middle. Sadly he played Shadeglass Dagger and Ready for Action, killing Krrk. I teleported in Lurking with his Shadeglass Dagger but missed even with a support. Garek charged in and failed to kill Festering. Lurking attacked again but Saek was saved by Soul Trap. I won priority and attacked again with Awakened Weapon and….missed. Lurking and Festering then died. Hungering killed Arnulf and scored Precise Use of Force but then died. The game ended 10/12.
Sadly my plans had failed. I had made the positioning so neutral meaning that it would come down to who’s dice broke first. This time it was me. I was gutted losing the London GT as it was very important to me in regards to winning. Either way I lost to a good opponent and London was claimed by a Londoner.
2nd place was mine and now I had 2 cards of Shadeglass (first person in the world people 😎). Had very tough but great games and the London Shadespire community shined as a whole. It was great meeting everybody and thanks to everyone who came up and said hello to me, fan feedback and support is always welcome. My next event will be the UK Games Expo which I plan to win. After all I came 3rd at Warhammer Fest and now 2nd at the LGT, the only logical next step is clear. Apart from rolling crits of course.