Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NETT: Debriefing

Saturday was the New England Team Tournament and while I posted the results for my team (Regular Team) yesterday, I do want to spend some time reflecting on the lessons that my team and I learned from the experience.  Aside from my complaints about the lunch break (which admittedly only really affected me), the tournament was run very well and the two PGs who ran the event were fantastic judges and prompt at answering any questions that arose, as well as keeping everything running quickly and smoothly.  There were some big changes from last year and I figured that it is worth discussing what those changes were and how they were perceived to have affected the event and me, personally.

Last year's team tournament was held around the same time but the rules were 3 lists required, 50 points, and there were no reinforcement scenarios in SR 2011.  Death clock was still used for the tournament but players had more time to play their games due to the nature of having larger lists.  I don't think the timing for this tournament was nearly as important of an issue as it was last year, as I generally found myself having plenty of time to do what I needed to do and to think about how I wanted to do it.  The only game where I almost ran out of time was that game against pDoomshaper.  So what are some of the other implications of the switch from 50 points to 35?

There were a lot of Warmachine armies there.  While you'd think that at 35 points there would be more Mercenaries/Minions present, they were still represented in low numbers.  Character restriction was still present last year, so why not more mercs?  Well, Team Danger Apartment proved that it didn't matter what faction they brought, since they brought Circle, Mercs, and Minions and still were able to wipe the floor with their competition.  So why not more Mercs or Minions?  I think it has to do with Colossals.

Now, only the Stormwall was available to be played at the NETT but it certainly did make an appearance.  There were at least 3 in attendance and my 1st Lieutenant got to play against 2 of them with his Menoth list - wrecking it the first time and losing to it the second.  The Stormwall has changed the game significantly since last year, along with releases like Ghetorix and Tiberion from Domination.  Whereas the game favored high-DEF models last year, suddenly high-ARM/damage boxes is a big problem for which everyone needs an answer.  Last year we saw lots of Legion and Cryx players, and while Cryx was reasonably represented, they were not a significant proportion of the players present and there were even fewer Legion players!  Very strange! 

No, instead we saw lots of Cygnar and a surprising number of Circle - especially considering the belief out there by some that Circle isn't good until 50 points.  Even more shocking is that the captain of the 1st place team not only brought Circle, but his two lists were pKrueger and Morvahna - bet you didn't see that coming!  So what's going on here with the meta?  Well, naturally everyone wants to play with the newest toys and this year it happened to be Cygnar - sporting both a Colossal and a new warcaster (Threemo).  Even then, most people didn't even take Threemo and there were only a couple of Colossals present.  So what other faction happened to be popular?  Trolls.

There are many who will suggest that Trolls are not a competitive army, or at least not as competitive as other "all-star" factions.  I think, however, that we're seeing a huge shift in the meta of Warmachine/Hordes - at least around here.  Again, high-ARM/damage boxes is becoming more important than being able to deal with high-DEF and Trolls are one of the few factions which has had little problem dealing with that in the past.  They have had problems with high-DEF in the past and had to rely on knockdown effects or blast damage to help them, but now there's less of that around and the Mauler is clapping it's monstrous hands in excitement, "MY ANIMUS IS USEFUL NOW!!!"  I kid, but Mulg will frighten the pants off of any Colossal with the Mauler's animus on him - hitting harder than any Colossal out there (minus buffs, of course).  Even Mulg's fist hits super hard and he can potentially wreck a Stormwall in one charge.  Sure enough, Mulg was present in a list for every Troll player I played against - and I know it was so he could deal with a Stormwall.

Another reason why Trolls were such a good choice for the tournament is that they have real staying power when it comes to scenarios with zones and objectives.  While their statlines are typically unimpressive, it's much more difficult to deal with Kriel Warriors at ARM 17 with the KSB nearby - especially if you're relying on massed POW 10s like Cygnar or my pKrueger list.  This is really what made my pKrueger list suffer against the trolls - and they're still tough on top of that!  Even with so many bodies, POW 12s from the Stormwall can only keep the Trolls at bay for so long before Mulg comes barreling at your face - and he's not easy to put down.  Trust me - I've tried.  The worst part about dealing with Trolls and their buffs is that they are largely non-magical, meaning that they aren't ignored by typical tricks out there like Blessed or spells like Purgation.  No, you'll just have to deal with the fact that those Trolls are going to be annoying.  It looks like I should have brought my Sloan list after all.

Lastly, one of the things I didn't like about the tournament was that it had Divide and Conquer rules.  Last year, I didn't even have to play one of my lists because it ended after round 3.  I don't like Divide and Conquer with my Circle because I have yet to find a list that can deal with a variety of threats like pBaldur can and that means playing an extra game with an inferior list.  Don't get me wrong - I understand why they chose it for the NETT, I just don't like it.  This is probably why there was a lot of Warmachine in attendance (especially Cygnar) - it's a lot easier to have two solid lists capable of dealing with a variety of threats.  Divide and Conquer discourages bad match-ups a little bit, but it also means that you're stuck with a particular list on that last round or that you have to play the third round with your sub-par list in hopes that your last round list will be ideal.  In other words, Divide and Conquer only discourages one-dimensional warcasters/warlocks that might not otherwise see play.  Mohsar, for example, will not likely be seen in Divide and Conquer because his feat is practically useless against Warmachine lists and you wouldn't want to get stuck playing with him.  Granted, I played 3 Hordes players that day, but I also played Trolls 3 times and what were the odds of that happening?

Lastly, I still hate Outflank, Outfight, Outlast.
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