The Stages of Grief in Age of Sigmar
After getting completely destroyed at the Southern Fried Open and the Outlaw Open, I sat waiting for the sword awards to be handed out at Nashcon and felt a little weird. While under the influence of a 5% alcohol Baja Blast I let my mind wander. I felt more in control during my games with my limited win condition Big Waaagh! list than I had with my Kruleboyz and had three or four events over the next few months to play. I was finally ready to stop playing, in the words of my friend, “dogshit lists”.
For Nova I didn’t worrying about lists, or how to design them, or what to bring. I simply copied a list my friend had used at ATC and borrowed enough (7) Ironjawz models for the event. My friend, who has successfully run this list, served as the clown blanc, or sophisticated clown who instructs the auguste. Traditional clowning typically has the clown blanc, a respected clown with great authority, give orders to the redface, or auguste who has a hard time following instructions. Moe is a clown blanc while Curley is the auguste. In true auguste fashion I was unable to perform the simple task of winning every match and was confused and foolish during the entire event.
One note – I’m focused on the correctable mistakes that I made at this event. My goal in my next event is to avoid taking a pie to the face through practice and reduce these simple and correctable issues. This isn’t to take away anything from my opponents, who I all enjoyed playing against in the GT.
NOVA required proof of vaccination, and at least officially, masks. My understanding is that several players dropped or sold tickets because of these requirements and I went in fully understanding that I would spend most of the weekend in a mask. However, because of exceptions for eating/drinking there was a very nudge nudge feel to enforcement. I think this does a real disservice to people that are still taking precautions against potential Covid-19 exposure but I, a regular person living in America, no longer have a strong opinion one way or the other.
Terrain was inconsistent at best and would likely have required a lot of discussion if we were in a strong shooting meta. The stream table was noticeably better than other tables and there were clearly three levels of declining quality of terrain. Most tables had at least two large pieces of terrain that impacted my games but painting/hobby wasn’t always inspired. The strong lists, great TO experience, and size of the event more than made up with any complaints I had with the terrain.
Scoring was also done by points differential. This really encouraged players to max out on points and I think is an appropriate system for large events. The top eight spots were cut after the first 5 matches and the winner, as covered by Mike, was decided by single elimination matches on Sunday.
Ironjawz - Click to Expand
– Warclan: Bloodtoofs
– Grand Strategy: Waaagh!
– Triumphs: Indomitable
Kragnos, The End of Empires (720)
Megaboss on Maw-Krusha (480)*
– Boss Choppa and Rip-tooth fist
– Command Trait: Hulking Brute
– Artefact: Destroyer
– Mount Trait: Fast ‘Un
Orruk Warchanter (115)*
– Warbeat: Get ‘Em Beat
3 x Orruk Gore-gruntas (170)*
– Jagged Gore-hackas
3 x Orruk Gore-gruntas (170)*
– Jagged Gore-hackas
3 x Orruk Gore-gruntas (170)*
– Jagged Gore-hackas
3 x Orruk Gore-gruntas (170)*
– Jagged Gore-hackas
Total: 1995 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 0 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
Since I didn’t write the list I didn’t change anything. It’s a close choice between staying at two drops or selecting 2 units of pigs to be bounty hunters. In addition to Bloodtoofs allowing pigs to be bounty hunters they provide free movement, pile in, or charge at the end of every combat phase if they fought. This was an incredibility useful ability that caught several opponents off guard. The entire list has great synergy with Kragnos allowing a 3D6 mighty destroyers charge if an opponent moves within 12″. Finally, WAAGH! is a grand strategy that is earned when a battleline unit or general is wholly within your opponent’s territory.
Game 1 – VS IDK on Close to the Chest
Fish people are apparently a great matchup for Ironjawz. My opponent was a very nice person who ran a turtle, two sharks, a bunch of kill eels, and Volturnos. This was the first time I truly played my army and I set up pretty far back in the deployment with the intention of giving away the first turn. My opponent joked that because we both brought cavalry armies we were going to get into combat quickly on this map. During a few discussions with my clown blanc he insisted that he had only taken first turn with the list one or two times and that setting up for the double was almost always better. With enough space to prevent him from pinning me in with eels turn one I gave my opponent went turn. He moved to take more points, accomplish his battle tactic, and smartly positioned his turtle behind a large central piece of terrain that made it difficult for Kragnos or my Mawcrusher to engage.
During my turn I decided to fire it up and moved up with mighty destroyers, positioned my Mawcrusher and pigs for a fight, and made my first major error of the event.
Clown Blanc Orders:
When you commit to a WAAAGH! make sure you get as many units into combat as possible
It is actually pretty hard to navigate a Mawcrusher and pigs around the territory. As this is my first competitive game with this list I hadn’t thought about what to do beyond “hold more and battle tactic” during my turn. I called an Ironjawz Waaagh! on my first turn but was physically unable to get the majority of my units into combat. I only put two units into combat during the Waagh! turn.
I didn’t use my Destroyer on the turn I called the WAAGH!.
I did fail 8-inch 3D6 charge with my violent fury unit of pigs and Kragnos failed to get into combat. I did stumble into a the great tactic of fighting with my pigs and then piling in at the end of combat to prevent an opponent getting full value if they win priority. I used my mawcrusher and two units of pigs in combat and eliminate a unit of eels and tie up some of his other units. Between the cover and the +1 between from the turtle most of my attacks were blunted and I didn’t do nearly as much damage as I had thought I would. After the first turn we ended up even on primary points and battle tactics. My opponent won priority but because of my pile-ins after combat he wasn’t able to maneuver his to attack key pieces into my army. He only managed to hold two points and I continued to clear out his eels with my pigs and mawcrusher. However, he was able to charge Kragnos with a unit of eels that brought him down to 2 wounds. I was able to wipe them out on the crackback but Kragnos was too wounded to solo the turtle and died to shooting in turn 3.
On my turn I had planned to pile in the pigs away from his turtle with mighty destroyers and then set up a Kragnos charge.
Clown Blanc Orders:
Use the free movement and pile-ins from mighty destroyers to open up charges for your larger models like Kragnos into a turtle.
I forgot to pile in my pigs during the hero phase and had selected “Desecrate their lands” forcing me to keep Kragnos within 3″ of the terrain.
Fortunately, the raw power of my list, and the ability for Pigs to count as 2 models on an objective vs. eels counting as 1, allowed me to continue to hold more points during the second turn.
The Bloodtoof movement shenanigans at the end of the combat phase allowed me to be well set up for turn 3 with the majority of his units engaged in combat with pigs while my mawcrusher was safely out of combat. With multiple units engaged with a single unit of pigs I gave priority away in 3 knowing that he would have to choose between retreating in high tide or taking part in suboptimal fights. During my turn I retreated from combats and used my mawcrusher to destroy his ship denying him a grand strategy and positioning me to complete mine. I had built a significant lead in points.
He won priority in turn 4 he and charged Volturnus into my Mawcrusher and completely whiffed securing me the game. At this point we each had two units remaining but I had more than enough points from objectives and could score my grand strategy.
Upon reflection I played a really inconsistent game. I used the additional movement at the end of the combat phase well, but I never set up any strong combos. My opponent was a really good and generous guy but had a very fluffy list that I was able to overpower through my warscrolls.
Game 2 – Vs. Soulblight Gravelord on In the Presence of Idols
Despite losing this game it was by far my favorite game I played during the weekend. My opponent was a great guy who had played against some Georgia Warband members at other events and had a Vyrkos dynasty list with an incarnate bonded to a necromancer, Radukar, Gorslav, and Belladomma, a purple sun, and A LOT of wolves in expert conquerors. I was really concerned about the layers of screens in front of the incarnate and didn’t want my monsters to engage it at all.
During deployment he put the majority of his casting power on the right flank, the incarnate in the center, and a unit of wolves with the necromancer on the left. My biggest fear was having his Incarnate eat one of my monsters and level up. My second biggest fear was having the purple sun eat my mawcrusher. I picked my Warchanter, my Mawcrusher, and Kragnos as my idols. My opponent picked Grandma Belladomma, Radukar, and Gorslav. I thought Groslav was a pretty inspired choice as the Incarnate is no longer allowed to be an idol unit.
In keeping with advice I had received I deployed pretty far back and gave away first turn. My plan was to attack the center with pigs, the left flank with the Mawcrusher (far away from his casting) and use Kragnos to clear out any non-incarnate units on the center and right.
Clown Blanc Orders:
Build up points early by using superior movement to secure objectives.
Auguste Decision: I picked the middle point to be a proving grounds as I didn’t want to lose it in the future. I always play with vet units and have no idea why I did this. This cost me two points in the first battle round. I think I was trying to set up outmuscle?
He advanced wolves and zombies onto all points and I picked this one’s mine with his unit of zombies holding the upper left point. Using this list allowed me to pick battle tactics in a different order compared to what I normally picked with more aggressive tactics (gaining momentum/this ones mine) being picked on full strength units. I was quickly able to lift them and do enough damage to his wolf units that I could charge into the incarnate located between two terrain pieces after combat.
I was lucky enough to win priority and took the double to create the board state below (including killing his necromancer bound to the incarnate and causing it to attack Radukar). I was certainly helped by multiple misses on deathless minions rolls as I eliminated all of his wolves and engaged Gorslav on all sides to prevent him from bringing back a unit as well. I also was able to move my pigs in combat with the incarnate during the end of my combat phase to prevent him from moving it outside of his deployment. With only a few units remaining, and a few in the ground, I was in a commanding position going into turn 4.
Clown Blanc Orders: Like Al Davis said – just win baby win.
Auguste Decision: I had hoped to kill Gorslav with my pigs in combat during his turn and wasn’t able to finish off the stubborn 7 wound unit. Because my pigs were in combat I picked the wrong terrain piece for Desecrate Their Lands and failed to get into combat with Kragnos on the units that I needed. My opponent was able to bring out two units of graveguard to even the board odds and moved his incarnate away from his units and towards my upper left corner. I also overestimated the amount of damage that a unit of 10 graveguard would do to a Mawcrusher and lost a unit a pigs in combat.
My error in turn 4 would have doomed me but we were able to shake hands after I lost my mawcrusher to his purple sun at the start of turn 4 and talk things out. It was by far my favorite game of the event and you can watch my opponent play against Morathi and the Bow snakes in round three of the Nova Stream.
Game 3 – Vs. Skaven on Won’t Back Down
Another event, another fight against Thanqoul. I don’t really have anything interesting or insightful to say because I made a:
Clown Blanc Orders: Every once in a while you come up against an army that you should take first turn against.
Auguste Decision: Not taking first turn against the rats and allowing a block of 30 stormvermin get double death frenzy the entire game.
This ones short because I don’t need that much time to write “I didn’t move my large models well” and “I made a really poor choice and failed my turn 1 battle tactic because the purple sun ate my against all odds hero” and “Kragnos dicked around a piece of terrain instead of doing anything useful because I didn’t move or position my large models well”
My opponent was a great guy and we talked about Masterclan and how weird it was that more people didn’t take the run/charge/pile-in option when Thanquol + 2 grey seers was already a great combination of units to have in many lists. I guess that 9 stormfiends is the better list, but the ability to swarm a board is underrated (underratted?). I enjoyed the asswhipping as much as one could and both my opponent and I remarked how weird it was to see so few masterclan builds being used.
I got completely worked through a combination of screening from endless spells, the inability to navigate terrain, and my huge mistake to give away priority in turn 1. The endless spell screening was a tactic that I had used in 2.0 with lifeswarm but the lack of shooting armies in the current meta make it much more effective.
In talking with my list writer I asked about bounty hunters vs. 2 drop several times. As my opponent had three drops I would have had no chance to control the flow of the game if I had selected bounty hunters. Of all the games I played this is the one that I wish I could re-rack the most.
Game 4 – Vs. Stormcast Eternals on Realmstone Cache
After going 1-2 I was looking forward to this deployment. The single objective and my ability to dictate who went first gave me an advantage against a reinforced unit of Fulminators, Dragons, and Bastion with a few assorted Liberators as battleline. My opponent deployed his power units pretty far back and I decided to take the first turn and get my Mawcrusher into combat ASAP.
Clown Blanc Orders: Sometimes you need to do 40 damage to a unit
Auguste Decision: No, I do not want to do 40 damage to a unit of fulminators, I would rather have them live.
I was able to squeeze my opponent into his zone and eliminate a few units of liberators and remove half of his fulminators. This also served to keep him from moving. After combat I piled in a unit of my pigs to prevent his dragons from moving if I was doubled. Per my opponent I would have won if I had given away the second turn but I hadn’t thought through all the permutations. In addition to this being my first time playing Ironjaws it is my first time playing an elite list without multiple units for screening and trading. I wasn’t, and still am not, comfortable giving away a turn compared to when I play a Big Waaagh!. As a result of not having my 10-15 practice games under my belt I’m not identifying the correct play in the board state during my games.
After a few combats I eliminated his fulminators but his dragons were free to move. In turn three the points were put in the middle (5/6) and I lost control of priority. He was able to capture the and hold the right point with the majority of his remaining army and moved his dragons and Bastion towards the left point. In my turn I had an opportunity to charge with Kragnos but did 3 mortals on the charge and whiffed on most of my attacks (I forgot to roll the spell ignore on his dragons mystic shield with Kragnos). This left the dragons and Bastion alive and they killed Kragnos and my hopes of a positive win record at this event.
Game 5 – Vs. Nighthaunt on Silkskitter Nests
Nighthaunt presented a potential problem matchup with two large units of Bladegeist Revenants, a cruciator, and a unit of hexwraiths. My opponent positioned in the upper right area and I picked the lower left for the majority of my units. I left the lower right point undefended and gave my opponent the turn.
He was able to take my lower right point and surprised me by dropping all three of his units near my deployment zone. I decided to move a single unit of pigs to his upper left objective to secure my grand strategy and camp one of his points. The rest of my force moved to take back my objective and I through my mawcrusher into his 30 man block of bladegeistto prevent them from breaking out of the board.
This matchup required A LOT of pile ins and movement from my pig units to keep his units engaged in combat and make any retreat and charge moves more difficult. In addition to pinning him into the upper right points I was able to control the board space throughout the match. I won priority and decided to double him and start burning his points. I picked the center left point to create a no-mans zone that would require at least two turns of movement to threaten a point and continued to fight and push into his troops.
In the third turn we maintained priority and I put Kragnos on the central right point with another unit inside an inch to burn it putting me ahead on primary points to a huge degree. If my opponent retreated to grab points I would be able to chase units down with Kragons, and if he killed Kragnos I would hold more points. He picked to kill Kragos (Unga Bunga) and we spent the final two rounds maximizing points for a scenario that resulted in my second win. I feel like this was the first game I didn’t make a major error but I should have activated my destroyer in the first round.
I had a great time at Nova and played in the RTT the next day. The quality of lists and players was extremely high, making this the most competitive event I ever attended. I also would be remise if I didn’t point out that the competitive Age of Sigmar has an extremely wide area for skill expression. The six Ironjawz at the event had placings that ranged from 2nd overall to 1-4. Lightly played factions, like Bonesplitters and OBR, were both represented in the top 20. Compared to other events that I’ve been to there was little to no shooting at range.
I’m excited to take finish painting Ironjawz and continuing playing the faction in the future. While I would recommend borrowing models and playing an army with a completely different style, I wouldn’t recommend taking it to a major GT for your first competitive run. As a clumsy Auguste I ended up looking even more foolish than I would have if I had taken a faction I was more familiar with. However, the strength and predictability of the faction and warscrolls bailed me out on more than one occasion.