Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Road to Templecon 2012: Masters Review

So Templecon 2012 is over and was the best one yet.  While some might not have respected Templecon as a "major event" in the past, this year should have blown all of those perceptions out of the water with (my estimate) over 300 people playing casual games alone - let alone the multiple tournaments throughout the weekend.  Even the 40k and Fantasy crowds grew and the old ballroom, where the event was held last year, wouldn't even hold half of the tables that were present this year.  So where does that leave us?

The Masters are over and people are wondering what actually happened.  From each of the tournaments over the weekend some of the best performers qualified to be present in the Masters tournament which took place Sunday afternoon.  It was a serious affair and the organizers were keen on making sure that the usual distractions were absent.

Which armies were present in the final masters?  Here's the demographic breakdown:
5 Cryx
3 Trollbloods
2 Skorne
2 Khador
1 Gator (Jared from Team Gat'R Dun)
1 Legion
1 Menoth
1 Circle

Unsurprisingly, Cryx were very well-represented in the Masters tournament.  However, this tournament was a 4 round with 3-lists required, meaning that each list had to be played once, with one being optional.  Given this and character restriction, I think that Cryx suffers heavily, only being able to take so many characters in their lists.  What's interesting is that looking at the poll that was put up earlier in the month, here's what you thought about what faction would win Templecon:

  7 (10%)
  12 (17%)
  8 (11%)
  4 (5%)
  4 (5%)
  2 (2%)
  5 (7%)
  8 (11%)
  4 (5%)
  10 (14%)
  5 (7%)

While there's clearly a good spread, I thought it interesting that Khador and Legion were #1 and #2 choices, respectively, while Cryx and Circle were tied for #3.  Surprisingly, only 1 Legion and 1 Circle player were present in the Masters, and the number of Cryx players outnumbered the Legion, Circle, and Khador players combined!  Also, notably absent were any Cygnar players, despite the relatively strong opinion that they had a good chance of winning the Masters.

So which player ended up taking it all?  I couldn't find the name (if you know, please comment below), but it was actually a Khador player.  Interesting, considering the majority thought that Khador would be the faction to do it anyway!  Curious!  Why is that?  Well I did find the lists that the player used and let's take a look:

Old Witch
- Behemoth
- Spriggan
10 Kayazy + UA
10 Nyss Hunters
Aiyana and Holt
Gorman di Wulfe
Reinforcements: 10 Iron Fang Pikemen + UA

- Spriggan
Iron Fang Pikemen + UA
10 Black Dragon Pikemen + UA
10 Kayazy + UA
Great Bears
Harlan Versh
Saxon Irrik
Reinforcements: 3 Uhlans and Yuri the Axe

- Spriggan (bonded)
- Black Ivan
10 Winter Guard + UA, 3 Rockets
Kovnik Joe
10 Kayazy + UA
3 Uhlans
Sylys Wyshnalyrr
Reinforcements: 10 Iron Fang Pikemen + UA

It is worth noting that the final round featured this Khador player matched up against the Circle player, who was fielding pBaldur against the Old Witch list - a tough matchup for Circle indeed.  What trends to we observe?  Well as much as people have complained about character restriction, I think we see why Khador can actually play fairly strong in this format: Kayazy.  While we may be seeing the end of the Winter Guard Death Star, Kayazy are fantastic units anyway, but can function really well under the new restrictions and add some consistency between lists.  We also see that Iron Flesh is still alive and well in Khador, as each warcaster had access to it.  Similarly, the Spriggan continues to be a popular choice for loads of flexibility.  Surprisingly, we see Iron Fang Pikemen being a popular choice, but it's not so surprising when we see them as reinforcements as they offer loads of flexibility and present a significant threat when they are coming in from the flank.

What I think is great is that these lists are all solid Khador lists without following all of the internet min/maxing wisdom (yes, it also applies to Warmachine/Hordes).  While there are still obvious choices (Kayazy), these are lists that I don't think many people see terribly often.  While some might have a knee-jerk reaction that Khador are broken for winning, we can look at the results from the last set of tournaments last year to see that Warmachine/Hordes continues to be a well-balanced game where no one faction is dominating the tournament scene - not even those mangy Cryx.

As for me, while I quit round 3 into the team tournament (I wanted to go out to buy booze), I did only lose one game all weekend - and that was to another Circle player.  Words cannot express how fun it was and it is absolutely worth it for those of you considering playing.
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