It’s solo clash time in Derby at Blood and Glory!
After last month’s Grand Clash at the UKTC 2018 I was down in Derby for the Grand Clash at the annual Blood and Glory event. It was the 2nd time they hosted such an event but I had missed out on it due to being too new to the game so it was the only UK Grand Clash I haven’t attended. Due to this and with the new cards added with the most recent expansion wave, I was eager to see how I’d do with the influx of new cards and warbands.
Because of work and blogging, this Grand Clash was probably the least prepared one I have attended. Normally I use the local London gaming nights and store tournaments to practice but with the limited time available to me I just focused on what I had learned via playing the new warbands as well as playing friends who were using them. It was going to be a tough event as I had to rely on my experience with Skaven to stay on top.
My list has remained mostly unchanged. I dropped my favoured Honed Survival Instincts due to how much guaranteed damage cards via gambits as well as Pit Trap meaning it was very easy to lose a rat now. Master of War was also dropped due to not being entirely reliable to score consistently. To replace them I added Fired Up and Extreme Flank. Both of these cards are incredibly easy to score reliably, especially for my Skaven. With these additions I had a very easy path to achieving Superior Tactician which is my end goal objective.
What I had trouble with was developing tactics against the new warbands. My Skaven had only played against Zarbag’s Gits and the Thorns of the Briar Queen briefly. The Cursebreakers and Eyes of the Nine I had not played against but only used so I just had to use my time playing with the warbands. There was also the new Farstrider build which focuses on the new cards to allow them to easily kill 4 wound fighters solely with their pistols alone but I wasn’t too worried. It’s a great build but requires glory to get going. All I had to do was just kill them before they scored any.
Despite expecting 20 to 30 players, the event ended up having 42. Out of this, Magore’s Fiends dominated the numbers followed by Zarbag’s Gitz. Unsurprisingly there were only 3 Spiteclaw’s Swarm players (including myself) but strangely only 2 Farstrider players. Still, I was ready and we promptly began.
As always, here is the official symbols key I’ll be following (thanks to the Facebook user who made this combined image, you’re a star!):
For my first round of the day Toby and his Fiends would be my opponent.
Winning boards, I placed the following:
The rationale behind this choice is that I really like it as a “reaction board”. This is because the left side has 2 blocked hexes which I sit an objective behind and the right side has 2 lethal hexes which I put another objective inbetween the two. It also leaves only 1 Skaven vulnerable for a first activation charge to which I usually place Lurking Skaven. As an aside, I’ll be talking about which boards chosen for every game as long as I remember what board I picked.
Losing priority but going first, I simply moved Lurking Skaven to the left corner so that I could deny any charges this phase to starve the Fiends. As phase 1 went on, Riptooth inspired via a ploy and charged in but I dodged it thanks to Quick Thinker. Phase 1 closed out with me scoring Shining Example, Fired Up and Extreme Flanks.
Phase 2 was combat time but now I had glory to spare. I lost a clanrat but Skritch was able to go on a killing spree, taking down Magore and Riptooth. Phase 3 had me lose another rat yet I was now too far ahead. Skritch finished off the rest of the opposing warband while a used Krrk to move deep into enemy territory and deny Denial. Game 1 ended on a 21/5 to me.
Game 2 began the same way as previously. Boards remained unchanged but this time I won priority! Capitalising on my chance, I went first to once again move Lurking Skaven out of charge range. In response, Toby inspired Magore and charged into Krrk with Spectral Wings. However the dice were not on his side, 2 single support rolls meant Magore was out on his own. I used Great Concussion to push the Fiends back and keep Magore close. Skritch stabbed him over 2 activations, slaying him to score Victorious Duel. Once again I closed out phase 1 with Extreme Flank, Escalation and Ploymaster.
Phase 2 had Skritch kill Riptooth and then buff up with Deathly Fortitude. Zharkus charged in and took 2 wounds off Skritch while Ghartok remained away from the carnage. Phase 3 had Skritch slay Zharkus but Ghartok remained alive and free, ending on a 11/2 win for me.
Toby was a great opponent with a beautifully painted warband. He made a few slip-ups with positioning and committing Magore far too early in game 2 but he was solid overall.
The next round was against my good friend Donal. Not only was he my Gitz practice but he’s probably the best Destruction player for Age of Sigmar in the world. We really didn’t want to play each other but such is the way of tournament pairings.
Losing board but going first, I moved Lurking away. He then advanced Drizgit with the Squigs in a diagonal line. He knew I wanted to kill the Squigs first but Drizgit was the only safe target. Deciding to take the bait, I used Illusory Fighter to teleport within range and then killed Drizgit to score Precise Use of Force. Krrk charged into a Squig but failed to hit. I closed out phase 1 by charging away at a Grot on the corner but missed.
Phase 2 had Skritch strike again but failed to roll any smashes. With his glory gain, Donal upgraded an inspired Squig who charged in and killed Skritch with Twist the Knife. Krrk was soon to follow and I was left with 3 clanrats. Phase 3 failed to fare any better as the Squigs tore up whoever remained, leaving me on a 9/13 loss.
Game 2 had me lose boards, resulting in a horizontal choke point. I placed Skritch in range of Lurking as bait. Letting Donal go first, the Squig charged in but rolled no smashes. Skritch swung back and easily killed it. By the end of phase 1, no Squigs were left and I was ahead by a fair number of glory.
Skritch went deep in phase 2 and killed Drizgit. His rampage was brought short however, by Snirk inspired with Hidden Paths who whirled him to death. I had a decent glory gain but was now behind. Phase 3 had Krrk die leaving me on the ropes. I cycled out an objective and just tried staying alive. In the end Donal scored only a single objective while I was able to pull off Escalation, Alone in the Darkness and Superior Tactician with A Destiny to Meet which gave me an 8 glory boost as well as an important 17/13 win.
Game 3 had Skritch do his thing once again and he racked up a big glory gain early on via killing Squigs. Still, Donal was able to put an end to his murder spree in phase 2 once again. Krrk was shortly killed in return and I was down to just Hungering and Festering Skaven.
Striking first in phase 3, Hungering killed an adjacent Grot archer. Zarbag charged in with 3 fury but I had crits on my side. Hungering then charged and killed another Grot before he was killed by Zarbag charging again via Time Trap. Festering died shortly after leaving me with no rats but 7 scored objectives. As it went to tallying up glory, I was able to get another Superior Tactician to help me win 16/10.
It was an incredibly tough set. I had said Grand Clashes get tough from round 3 but Donal broke that. He’s an amazingly tactical player who’s fearsome despite his lack of experience with Underworlds. I hope I never have to play him in a Clash again hahaha.
My 3rd set had me face off against Iain, another member of Steel City Underworlds. Both him and Michael were known for defensive/control play and as he was running Stormsire’s Cursebreakers I expected such. After all my experience in the game, however, I try not to assume and still played cautiously in order to not commit to anti-control play and then get punished for it.
Phase 1 went through the motions as we both stood-off while the Cursebreakers began casting magic. Suddenly, a surprise Shardgale changed everything. Combined with the magic damage cards, I was quickly losing clanrats yet I was able to kill Ammis which supplied me with needed glory. With the continuation of phase 2, the magic barrage continued.
Weathering the storm, Skritch brought down Rastus. Phase 3 had an 8 wound Stormsire who healed via Vital Surge. It took a Ready for Action to get my 2 combo-swing which slayed Averon, denying Iain’s passive glory upgrades and scoring me Victorious Duel. Game 1 ended on a close 15/12 win to me.
The second game had things continue as before. Iain’s magic wasn’t as effective like in game 1 so I was able to kill Ammis with Skritch while advancing Krrk. Phase 2 became a positioning stand-off. A bodyguard for a price started Skritch on guard but Krrk was pulled onto an adjacent objective by Irresistible Prize and then blasted apart by magic. Skritch was out of charge range but Iain pushed my leader too far. Now out of pushes, I played Sidestep and then Hidden Paths to put Skritch next to Averon and Rastus who were in a corner. Rend the Earth went off, damaging Skritch and Rastus. Skritch then pushed back with Sneaky Stab-Stab and killed Averon.
Rastus died shortly after in phase 3 so all that was left was the cycling of cards. Going through objectives, I pulled out a 17/16 win thanks to A Destiny to Meet. It was another tough but enjoyable pair of games from the Steel City warrior. Iain’s deck and playstyle was extremely interesting to see as well as being refreshing. Using magic in the way he did was unexpected, almost beating me in both games. He definitely proved that magic-heavy warbands are viable.
Andy was my 4th opponent of the day and was representing the Farstriders as their best player of the event. I had a theory he was either playing defensively as well as with the new meta style Farstrider warband which killed you quick via all the new Nightvault cards. Still I was prepared. They need glory to get going while Skritch just needs Trap or a single upgrade, I just had to kill them early.
Losing boards, I placed my anti-Farstrider board:
Normally I use the Cog board from the Shattered City board pack but as he was probably running Shardgale plus all the other guaranteed damage cards made the lethal hexes too much of a risk. The 3 single blocked hexes allow me to obscure valuable rats and mitigate the range of the Farstriders. It also has decent edge hexes for length-ways setup. I call it the Pyramid board.
Going first in phase 1 in length-ways deployment, we began cycling cards. I ended it by moving Skritch and Krrk up which allowed me to score 5 glory via Fired Up, Alone in the Darkness and Extreme Flanks. In phase 2, Skritch charged and killed a Stormcast due to Incredible Strength and Awakened Weapon. With Time Trap he charged again and killed Farstrider. The last Stormcast stood his ground but was swiftly slain by my Skaven warlord and ending on a 18/10 win.
In game 2 I kept the same board but lost deployment again so it was length-ways again. I made a miscalculation in regards to my activations and thus was unable to score Change of Tactics in phase 1 while the Farstriders began to rack up glory. Phase 2 had me kill a Stormcast while they where able to play Shardgale again and thus start murdering my clanrats. I charged into Farstrider and brought him down to 1 wound with Skritch. Instead of playing Time Trap immediately, I gave him Awakened Weapon first. Tony then used Hidden Paths to save Farstrider so I charged and killed the other Stormcast but had missed my opportunity. In phase 3, Farstrider killed the rest of my rats freely and I ended up losing 11/17.
For game 3, I finally won deployment but stuck with the Pyramid board. I moved a clanrat in position for Extreme Flank while a Stormcast moved into the right Flank. Farstrider was in my top-left corner and 2 hexes away from another friendly model near a lethal hex. This was probably bait but I had Trap, Incredible Strength and Ready for Action as well as Victorious Duel. Pulling it off would win me the game.
Taking the risk, Skritch charged into the Stormcast while being in range if Farstrider. I rolled a single smash while he rolled a dodge, using Trap to kill him. Then with Incredible Strength and Ready for Action, Skritch rolled 2 smashes to his single block and thus he was dead. Playing on into phase 2, Andy used Great Concussion to push Skritch onto an edge hex and his last warrior further away. Thankfully I had Hidden Paths in-hand, Skritch appeared 2 hexes away and killed the last warrior with a crit and a smash. After cycling cards, I ended the game with an 18/2 win.
This was a super tough set again and Andy played extremely well, especially considering he finished 4th overall. The newly buffed Farstriders are definitely a force to be reckoned with.
After 4 gruelling sets, I finished in the top 2! My 3rd final at my 7th Grand Clash to boot. I was up against Mike’s Steelheart’s Champions. After the prize giving ceremony, we begun…
Due to a bug with Best Coast Pairings, apparently all the decklists became visible. In order to be fair, Dave Sanders (creator of Warhammer Underworlds and the tournament organiser) allowed us to each look through each other’s deck first to which we both agreed to. It was an interesting twist but I already knew I was playing against control/turtle Steelheart’s Champions. Taking apart turtle/control play was my speciality as it was why I chose to run Skaven, I had my sneaky plans ready.
After shuffling decks, we began. Due to winning boards I had chosen the following:
I call it the aggro pyramid. As a reaction board, it’s great. Sets up Extreme Flank from deployment and puts you super close to the enemy.
Going first, Krrk was next to Skritch and so I put him on guard. Playing Confusion, Skritch charged in and killed Brightshield scoring Change of Tactics. In phase 2 I was able to kill Obryn while Sevrin began buffing up with wounds. However in End Phase 2 I made an error and drew an objective card before discarding my power hand and thus was stuck with it.
After cycling 2 cards in phase 3, Skritch charged Sevrin who was on my edge thanks to Faneway Crystal. He had 8 wounds but Skritch charged, doing 3. With Time Trap I did another 3 leaving him on 2 wounds. Then I went for Ready for Action but realised I only had Bodyguard for a Price as an Upgrade. Thus I was unable to kill him. Mike then played Great Concussion to push him back onto the objective. I placed GC back and then he played Earthquake. With Extreme flanks stopped, it was a 9/9 draw but Mike won due to being on an objective, very nicely played.
Going into game 2, I won boards again. Krrk charged into Obryn and Brightshield, attacking the hammer man with a single smash to a dodge resulting in 2 damage and a push back. I expected Mike to charge back with Obryn or attack with Brightshield but he remembered I had Rebound and just refused to attack at all. I did have Rebound in-hand but this knowledge was huge to me. Mike had already said in the first game that he wouldn’t move and with these 2 pieces of information I knew I could do whatever I want on the board.
Brightshield moved to the right edge while Obryn moved towards Sevrin. Seeing a setup for Extreme Flank, Skritch charged and killed Brightshield thanks to Great Strength as well as a crit and a smash. Phase 1 ended with me getting Extreme Flanks, Fired Up and Alone in the Darkness. Phase 2 had Obryn die to Skritch, shortly followed by Sevrin. Phase 3 was cycling cards and I ended up with a 14/7 win.
Winning boards for a 3rd time, I deployed Skritch upfront as I knew he would now never be attacked. Krrk went on guard and charged Brightshield. With 2 smashes to a single block, she took 2 damage while I got a glory. Thanks to Incredible Strength, Skritch charged Sevrin and killed him, scoring Victorious Duel. Phase 2 had Obryn die to Skritch who then Time Trap’d into Brightshield and killed her with a crit and a smash. I’d won 14/5 and was a Grand Clash champion for a 2nd time!
Despite how it may sound and ended, the games were very close. The problem with turtle/control play is that it’s so restrictive and rigid that it can’t adapt to my Skaven flex play. The information that Mike wouldn’t move or attack as well allowed me free rein to charge in super aggressively. In order to defeat my Skaven, he would have had to play aggressively which doesn’t work with that style of play. Of course it didn’t help that I consistently won boards and his first 2 hands were terrible in the 3rd game. Still, Mike played extremely well and was a super tough opponent to play against. I was the only player to take any games from him all day due to his consistently strong control play.
After claiming my prize as being crowned Clash winner, my Underworlds gaming was not yet finished…
Friday Evening Tournament
Being coerced by my friends, I quickily built a Thorns of the Briar Queen deck. Normally I’d post the deck but I don’t remember what I put in as I canabalised it from my Skaven deck and have already broken it down again as of now. The tournament was 3 best of 1 games so it was down to quick-fire consistency.
Game 1 had me playoff against Henrick and his Orruks. I took an early lead with Supremacy and Our Only Way Out but he caught up with killing in phase 2. Phase 3 had me wipeout the Greenskins leaving me with a 16/3 win.
Game 2 was Ewan and his Fiends. We played previously down in London but I was able to push back his Fiends to prevent being swarmed. With an unlucky charge from Riptooth, he did kill the Briar Queen but I was able to secure a 15/6 win due to the sneaky ghosts.
Game 3 was against Martin and his Tzeentch! It was a closely fought game with phases 1 and 2 being fairly tight. In phase 3 I was able to edge ahead and wipeout the enemy warband to secure a 22/12 win.
After 3 rounds I had won on glory difference! A special thanks goes out to my 3 opponents who were a great joy to play against and put up with my overly tired state. Tough with sneaky plays but also super enjoyable to face.
After all that, it’s time to talk about the event. Originally the Grand Clash was supposed to be a 2 day weekend event but was cancelled with less than 3 weeks to go with no prior warning and changed to a Friday single day clash. I was annoyed by this as me and my friends had booked for the event back in July. I still had the Friday off so I could go but my friends were less fortunate as they work Monday to Friday and had no real way to come now.
To be fair, the TO for Blood and Glory refunded their tickets as well as one of their hotel rooms but the short notice cancellation was very disheartening. I know of players who were in a similar situation as well as those flying in from Europe who just abandoned the event entirely.
So what went wrong when there was high demand for 2 day clash with a day 2 cut (something I’ve been pushing for) but there were only about 20 tickets booked? Firstly was the price. Grand Clashes in the UK usually go for £25 in total but Blood and Glory was charging £45. What made it worse as 40k and AoS events were the same price so people just chose to go to those instead as they were better value for money. Secondly was the lack of promotion but that’s also a problem with Grand Clashes in general. Thirdly was also the lack of communication. I myself had major issues with this as it impacted my travel booking as well as what to do for the event itself.
Now I know TOs have a very hard job and planning out multiple events over 3 days is a huge strain too. I could easily say the TO was terrible and it was a bad event but I don’t want to. Speaking to Ben Curry on the day and seeing his passion for the event showed there was no malice in his actions, he was just managing a huge event.
Going into Blood and Glory I was expecting it to be my worst Grand Clash experience since the London GT, but it turned out to be a very positive event. This was largely thanks to the amazing Underworlds community but also the nice venue, decent layout and fairly organised event (despite a late start). Now I’m not saying Blood and Glory was my best Clash experience but it was nowhere near as bad as the aforementioned London GT Clash that was saved from being cancelled by the amazing Greg Dan. Not to mention that me and my friend Alec never received an apology from the LGT organisers over their cancellation of the Underworlds final due to the poor Saturday entrance management among other issues.
So would I recommend Blood and Glory? Yes but with the caveat that I’d just like to see better communication next time. I feel that if customer questions were responded to quickly as well as a far earlier notice about the cancellation/attendance issues, things would have been much better.
Overall I had a great time and so did pretty much everyone I spoke to. I was lucky enough to meet my hobby hero Phil Kelly as well as the awesome Underworlds event community. No matter the event, the community always pulls through to make it an enjoyable one. Special thanks to all my friends who helped me out via offering to join-in on their drive up to the event as well as being great training partners. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you all. So what to do now I’ve won 2 Grand Clashes? Keep rolling crits of course 😉