I’m inviting the Goonhammer community to follow along my two mini goals in 2023:
- Play in every game store in the state of Georgia – estimated to be around 30-35 from Bainbridge to Augusta and Dalton to St. Marys.
- Have zero Age of Sigmar models in my backlog at the end of the year. My current count is 294 (including models on order) with an influx expected when the Gitz book drops.
- I don’t have any specific competitive goals – I’m too far away from playing well and devoting the time needed to improve in a serious way. However, as part of the Georgia Warband I have access to some of the best people and players and have learned a lot from my friends since I started playing mini games in 2020. It would be pretty cool to go 4-1 this year.
I play Age of Sigmar at events, paint my models for the events, and think about how the models interact on the table. I started playing at the tail end of 2nd edition and had a few 40K models, but never a completed army. I’m decidedly average as player. I don’t like TTS and don’t get the number of reps in that I should, but I should get more games in 2023 compared to 2022.
I’m not one for the bedtime stories associated with the minis. My preference is to celebrate my models that, through luck of the dice, have amazing stories unfold on the table. The highs include a squig herder who damaged a mega-gargant, and the lows include all my sluderakers failing charges and flubbing attacks all night.
This year I’m going to travel to several events like the Las Vegas Open (LVO), Cherokee Open, Southern Fried Open, Nashcon, and NOVA. The Georgia Warband has a series of events in 2023 that I’m looking to attend in addition to any random GTs or RTTs that I can fit into my schedule.
I mostly like to mess around in my goblin basement, paint, and think about lists and play Sigmar. Last year at this time, under the encouragement of my friends, I had thought of myself as a pretty good player who had the misfortune to select an underpowered army. After playing in some GTs and meeting several top players I think the gulf between an average player like myself and the top players is wide and getting wider as more people use discord and TTS to improve and theorycraft. My day two performance (Something like 4-12 in 2022) in singles events continues to lag and I think it is a reflection of a lack of work and effort. One way to address this has been to add a gaming table to our sunroom in hopes of getting more in person games in 2023.
I think that the Age of Sigmar, and mini community in general, is a great place and would encourage you to go to events, meet people, and not be afraid to be nerdy.
One thing I’m I’m going to try to do is make declarative statements that can be proven wrong. If we’re lucky, at the end of the year we can count up how wrong they are.
What am I working on?
I have packed two bags of dice, 89 models, five high powered deployment strategies, a Go-Pro case half filled with tokens, a whole galaxy of tape measures; measuring sticks; and objective markers, also a bottle of paint, magnetic carrying case, a bunch of glue, and two dozen sheets of paper that had my list on it. Not that you need all that for the trip but once you get locked into a serious mini collection the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
I’m ambivalent about my magnetic case most of all. I like the cooking sheet that holds all my models but it doesn’t store inside an overhead compartment. It doesn’t have a height restriction so I’m not leaving my preferred sludgeraker at home and taking the one whose top has broken off so much I’ve stopped trying to attach the two pieces of layered crazy glue plastic that I’ve fixed and broken multiple times.
Whatever form success at LVO is for some people I have clear goals for myself. I’m going to spend time with my friends, go 2-3, and have fun rolling the dice. Despite a strong start, I’ve failed in the competitive goals I set for 2022 and I’m happy and fortunate to be able to play orcs this entire year and look forward to Gloomspite for next year.
LVO 2022 was my first travel event and really one of the first times I took a trip without my family that wasn’t for work. I drank, enjoyed Vegas, and really enjoyed the hottub where we debated swords vs. scythes.
My list from last year was:
2022 LVO - Click to Expand
Now this list would run at a cool 1840 – enough for a fourth unit of gutrippaz.
I lost to Soulblight, Dragons, and Fyreslayers and beat Ogors and Luminith. I distinctly remember that every game I had was great, with a fun person, and the only complaint about the weekend was that the Rio didn’t provide any water. I went in nervous about meeting the biggest stars of Age of Sigmar on the biggest stage and left determined to have a lot more weekends trapped in a hotel rolling dice with new friends.
Last year at LVO there were A LOT of dragons, giants, and ironjawz. And Kragnos. I had forgotten the plague of living cities stormcast until I looked through the lists in preparation for this event. I just miss all those narrative players using fulimators in living cities – what a time to be alive.
My goal, between travel, fun, Covid-19, and Kragnos just getting a glow-up was to show up and play a simple list without a lot of moving parts. I ended up going 2-3 and was generally happy with my choices. While I don’t remember everything that happened I do know that Kragnos and the sludgeraker did all the work in my wins. Looking forward to this year my kids are old enough to be vaccinated and I’ve already gotten in more games preparing for 2023 than I did preparing for 2022. However, last year I was taking Kruleboyz or nothing else. I didn’t have the wide range of ork models I have now and I really didn’t want to travel with my Gitz on a plane.
What is LVO?
Apparently LVO is a tabletop convention for more than playing Age of Sigmar, but I don’t know about all of that. There’s gonna be a lot of plastic, a lot of painted models, and a lot of people looking to party, drink, talk minis, and have fun. For Age of Sigmar it represents the end of the ITC year and we’ll find out who the person with the highest ITC points is at the end of the event. A few of my warband teammates have lofty goals but I’ve definitely failed in my personal bid to be a top-10 faction players.
With the most recent update in points LVO provided clarity that we would be using the new points but the old missions including:
In the Presence of Idols – This mission rewards extra points when an idol unit kills another idol unit and has a bravery rule. Three objectives all located in the neutral zone.
The Prize of Gallet – Per the TSN Stats Center this is the most popular mission in two day events. It involves 5 objectives that get activated and is the mission that my most likely list suffers against the most. High drops, combined with activating when somebody goes second, lead to a punishing mission for a slow army with low saves.
Silksteel Nests – This is the eight objective mission that is either loved or hated depending on the match-up. For whatever reason you need to make a bravery check to avoid mortal wounds because when burning an objective.
The Realm Cache – A single objective mission that explodes into two more objectives. Since it’s going to be played on a Saturday morning after everyone has a night in Vegas I’m sure the technical play will be at the highest level.
The Nidus Paths – A four objective mission with a fun little teleport mechanic.
Overall these are fine missions for a big event. Mostly balanced, similar to the missions that have been selected for other events. While there is a shadow round for all of the 5-0 finishers and three missions after the cut to the top eight is made those aren’t my concern. I’m just trying to keep my head above water and get two wins after a November and December where I had fewer games than expected due to work and family.
The uncertainty of what points and missions are being used lasted up until the 12th when the new points dropped. It’s a little wild that this year, after Front Line Gaming and Games Workshop made a big deal about partnering we had less clarity on what the rules will be for the largest AoS event in North America during the holiday season when many people are able to build and paint models as work slows. Given the time intensive nature of the hobby I’m a huge advocate in having a real timeline for people to plan and build models for the future. While the official Goonhammer position is “leaks are bad” I know that being able to plan for different points scenarios in advance of them being released due to leaks has made my planning for LVO much better and easier. In a very real and practical sense the points that were released the 12th could have easily been distributed in late December without impacting any major events.
Last year the balance patch was dropped about a week before Christmas giving players ample time to paint Kragnos in time for the event. I’m not the first person to remark on the confusion this creates but I think most players would have expected better communication and integration in 2023 compared to 2022.
So what army will I pack? I guess it depends. My options are:
- Ironjawz – My most “competitive” faction based on the TSN stats center (47%) my lists have included Kragnos and/or a Mawcrusher with a lot of pigs. However, I have the least amount of playtime with this army and was hoping to get in a good number of games in November/December that I didn’t. I also feel that everything that the traditional Bloodtoof Ironjawz does the new Slaves to Darkness book does better (even if I can’t check the app to see warscrolls). It’s the faction I have the least amount of playtime with since I’ve basically taken it to two major events and run 5-10 games locally. Several strong competitive players have told me to play this army.
- Big Waagh! – Likely the best “flavor” of orcs in the near term from a competitive standpoint. GW lowering Kruleboyz points makes them more powerful in the faction and they have several critters with multiple attack profiles that benefit from the WAAGH!. The combination and flexibility is unmatched and the ability to access two strong spell lores, mighty destroyers, and the laser eye prophet is great. If I had the painted collection of models I have now when the Ork book dropped in 2021 I likely would have been playing this allegiance ability for the past 15 months. With the last drop in points Kruleboyz almost have a place and have several units (Vulture, Sludgeraker, Gnashtooth) that really benefit from getting an additional attack. However, in addition to being cumbersome to fly with, just explaining and remember all of the rules might not be so easy when my goal is to party and see friends.
- Gloomspite Gitz – The once and future king of my heart. I love my gitz and the people love playing against them. However, with a new book coming out so soon I mentally haven’t been thinking about the 2.0 rules. Gitz require A LOT of dice rolling, picking out dice, and rolling again all for units with a 6+ save. I’ve been unsuccessful in borrowing 160 shootas and really feel like all the local gitz players have let me down. On the other hand I could bring the really great Loonshrine that my daughter has been painting for nearly half her life.
- Kruleboyz – It’s wild for me to think that I am seriously considering bringing this faction to LVO and it might be the best competitive option. They models travel exceptionally well, everything is painted, and the upgrades to Grinnin’ Blades and the Swampcalla Shaman play well into the counters to a potential Slaves to Darkness list. I spent the majority of my last therapy session discussing my feelings on taking this faction and why I feel so conflicted in building a list around them now. While I played some events with the army early in the season I mostly dropped them for Ironjawz after the outlaw open. Bounty Hunters and the Incarnate really did a number on to my slow moving orcs.
“THEY CAN’T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT” – Jesse Pinkman, Kruleboyz player, continuing to learn that grief is not a LINEAR process.
I spent my limited hobby time in December putting together and priming a bunch of models. I have a few WIP kruleboyz and gitz and put together and endless spell. Earlier tonight I finished two spider riders bringing my 2023 finished model total to two. I have not purchased, traded, or sold any models.
Starting Model Count – 294
Finished – 2
Ending Model Count -292
My Swampcalla shaman had been acquired in a model trade sometime in July of 2022. I finally put him together and painted him up but he remains strictly a WIP.
This year I didn’t receive a great deal of models for Christmas – only the squig box. I started putting together the leader and the squig herd and primed them along with 15 boingrot bounders I’d built. I’ll wait until the new gitz book comes out to decide how to build the bounders/hoppers and Mangler Squigs. I’m not a big airbrush user but want to use it as a tool in 2023 to help me learn new painting technics.
Knowing that the Gitz book is coming out next month has made putting the last bits of paint on my orc models a bittersweet process. I’ve enjoyed painting them and learning new technics. I even used slapchop or underpainted my Murknob and was incredibly upset over how little time it took to get it tabletop ready. The longest part of finishing a model that sat unpainted for over 18 months is going to be letting the still water dry on the base. Instead of multiple coats of paint, wash, highlighting and cleanup on the shields of my gutrippaz I can just dump some contrast paint, some metalics, and have a model look fine from three feet away. Truly lifechanging stuff.
By the time I get to LVO I will have moved an additional 13 models from “WIP” to fully painted.
I’ve played about a dozen or more test games preparing for LVO. For me, this is a pretty high number going into an event and I’ve made some significant changes to my potential lists as I refamiliarze myself with kruleboyz after playing IJ for a few months. Two of my Kruleboyz games came with 18 boltboyz and two sludgerakers in grinnin’ blades. As a true lover of trash on the table and lots of models I’ve moved to using additional hobgrot screens and will be looking to rely on movement blocking from endless spells. With over 300 players at LVO and a realistic understanding of what it takes to be at the top tables I’ve been playing to streamline my decision processes and not embarrass myself.
Earlier in the year I was a big proponent of being the lowest possible Kruleboyz drop you could be. That still might be the best plan. However, in testing out my limited list I’ve found that I often gave the first turn away and didn’t want to include a sacrifice piece like a Mirebrute or third sluderaker. Extra screens and making sure I had enough units to respond to a double slowly evolved into wanting both Nasty Hex and another spell on my shamans. I’m far more likely to use Supa Sneaky to create an additional screen than to position a unit offensively. Because of this I’ve migrated towards a 15 drop monstrosity that allows me to get all of the goodies in list creation. Two warlord battalions, two units of hobgrots in expert conquerors, gutrippaz and a unit of hobgrots in bounty hunters, and an extra spell and Morks Eye Pebble are much more appealing than being a two drop for what I want to accomplish. Even the unloved Murknob, the only Kruleboyz unit I didn’t paint in 2021 or 2022, is making the trip to vegas for his ability to ignore a spell or two.
Wanting to get through five games and party for a few days with minifriends is a strategy all of its own. I could pretend that I’m taking a high drop list for competitive reasons but the truth is I don’t want to have to think. Game 4 on Saturday is going to be brutal for many people. 15 drops is enough that I’ll never have to decided who goes first or second. Want me to go first? Cool, I’ll throw up some buffs. Want me to go second? Cool, I’ll avoid a double turn.
Over the holiday the Georgia Warband had a day where we got in a lot of games in preparation for LVO. I played against a 1-drop slaves to darkness list and my son provided support using some space marines. Unfortunately, despite my son telling me multiple times that his space marines were shooting the bad guys, I wasn’t able to defeat a unit of chosen and lost the game. This was the third or fourth time I’d played or observed the new Slaves to Darkness book and I’ve found that they hit really hard and have all sorts of tricks to charge. I don’t know if the local meta is representative of anything but the excitement around this book and it’s rare power caused me to start looking at different options for LVO.
The picture below shows me losing to a Khorne list on Turf War. A part of this was my two sluderakers failing charges and failing to do more than 4 damage in most combat rounds. While I don’t make changes based on statistical anomalies I don’t like it when my boltboyz roll below average in the shooting phase. I like the simple hobgrot, a unit that is only expected to stand on a point, throw a grenade, and die. Earlier in 2022 I played similar lists with shootas as screens and extra bodies on the points In 2023 this is as cheugy as using cheugy but I needed additional bodies when playing Kruleboyz.
I dropped a sludgeraker and 6 boltboyz for more gutrippaz, a Gnashtooth, and hobgrots. I played a game against my friend at Challenges, the closest mini store to me. As we’re both going to LVO we picked Prize of Gallet and he brought his one drop slaves to darkness list vs. a 2000ish point Kruleboyz list. My brilliant plan was stopped as I forgot Archaon had gained some new monstrous actions so I couldn’t pin him in-between an endless spell, the 3-inch movement bubble of some hobgrots, and an impassible terrain. I was happy to play against he priority role ability and was forced to take priority into the second turn when I would have preferred to give it up and activate my home objective. Even worse, I was doubled 2-3 and left without enough units to fight back and was tabled.
I’d like to rerack this game a few times and get more experience fighting against big blocks of knights and maybe see him use some Choosen. However, I don’t think that this is a mission/list combination that I’m favored it. With only one or two objectives turned on per turn my opponent is able to fight my models before I can use my extra bodies and units to contest objectives. Fortunately, the recent FAQ to Blades of Khorne makes this list less viable so StD will have to reach into their deep book and pull out another trick for LVO.
Challenges, located inside the Atlanta perimeter, has a special place in my heart (and wallet) as it was the first store that I bought warhammer models. It would be really great if the AoS scene there continued to grow so I could get games in without fighting Atlanta traffic.
I also played a game at Gigabytes, another Atlanta metro hobbystore with a strong mini scene. My opponent was nice enough to play fyreslayers on Realmston catch as I wanted to try out a very disadvantaged matchup/mission with my reworked Kruleboyz. He used two flamekeepers and all three invocations to prevent me from being able to control the center objective all while offering up his vulkites up for sacrifice. If I draw a high model count/wound army on silksteel nests I might have a better chance but allowing him to keep everything within a single bubble created some real problems for me. However, I really liked the way a reinforced unit of gutrippaz performed with mystic shield and the elixir from the shaman.
I had the benefit of getting smoked at a new store, Level-Up, crossing another Georgia store off my list and bringing me to three for the year. While I lost, I really benefited from seeing how a high-drop version of Kruleboyz functioned and decided to lean into this for a few reasons. First, I’m OK with being given first turn, putting up a bunch of buffs, and sitting still. Second, the benefits of gaining an additional spell, limited protection against shooting, and two additional command points outweighed the ability to determine turn order and….. do something I”m not too sure about. Finally, it lets me focus on what’s really important, the attacker/defender roll that allows terrain to be set up.
An under appreciated part of the ITC AoS experience is learning the nuance of the terrain pieces. Those big ol’ foam blocks, weird looking tri-pointed censers things, the 90 degree building part. I’ll grab some pictures for next week but placing the terrain is an essential part of my underdog plan. I don’t want to put myself in a situation where, with even number of drops, I am tempted to be the attacker.
The matchup was a repeat against Fyreslayers where we played on Prize of Gallet. With my current high drop list I’m likely going first in 90% of my matches and Prize of Gallet punishes you for having that many drops. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to not winning on this mission unless I get a favorable match up due to the way that objectives are activated and my assumption of competent opponents. My opponent took a lower powered list but still included his invocations and is a skilled opponent. The benefit of playing against him is I get experience against these immoveable and all-powerful note-endless spells and how my Gravetide needs to move to create a perfect traffic jam.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to reach a definitive conclusion but I’m assuming that I would have lost given our history. He graciously offered me a tie that I informed him was likely a loss for me. I relish the ability to get an ass-kicking on this mission so that if I, through luck or skill, are put into a situation I’ve practiced how to squeeze out the potential angles I need to win.
Despite my distaste for Table Top Simulator I did fire it up for a few games as well. I got stomped by one of the top ranked Lumineth players and by a strong DOK player. I really hate TTS but like my friends so I don’t have much of a choice if I want to play with my friends. A common theme in both match-ups was thinking that Grinnin’ Blades didn’t impact magic. Locally I’ve been playing Kruleboyz against players so much that they know that models must be within 12″ to see Kruleboyz models. I can’t imagine anyone except the most sick of players are practicing Kruleboyz specific counter deployments. I think players who play on TTS might not sample every army in the garden of delights that AoS has to offer as who would take an underpowered army when you could just select Beasts of Chaos?
I also played another 1000 point game at Challenges against a more casual player on a half-sized board. Even against casual players the assumption that Kruleboyz are underpowered (except for boltboyz) seems to be the dominate view. While it wasn’t a perfect test for LVO I”m glad that a store close to me is having games and they’ll be starting a Path to Glory soon that I’ll participate with my Sylvaneth and talk about throughout the year.
A big part of getting ready for an event is knowing what your opponent is going to ask you and when to be prepared to jump in. the scareshield rule makes no sense, is a block of text, and has such a middling effect that it’s easy to justify skipping it during games. However, an intentional part of my practice has been holding my hand up at the start of the charge phase and activating it with my gutrippaz. I’m going to need to remember my Murknob does a few mortal wounds at the start of combat. If you’re near me in Vegas and I’ve gotten off “Summon Boggy Mist” I’ll say “Min-IS One! Min-IS One to charge” right after a scareshield roll. No, Grinnin’ Blades impacts anything that uses line of sight, not just shooting. It’s been nice returning to a faction that I know fairly well and can focus on avoiding “gotcha” moments or takebacks. Unless we’re trying to run through a turn ASAP I hate the idea of giving or receiving a takeback and hope that my opponents are going to be similarly focused playing the best game possible.
I was able to get a game in against an incarnate and deepkin. I did 11 mortal wounds and failed to delevel it but learned a few important lessons. First, if you just boss saves you can’t lose a game (roll only sixes never roll ones) and second, as long as your monster has three inch reach and you have enough gutrippaz you can get into combat with an incarnate. Sometimes physically playing the game unlocks interactions that you know to be true and being able to wrap the incarnate with gutrippaz was one of them.
Final List and Thoughts:
Part of me thinks that taking Ironjawz is the best choice because I can slam into people and roll some dice. Despite taking them to multiple large events I don’t feel nearly as comfortable taking them as I do Kruleboyz. If I take my ironjawz I feel like I’ll be easily countered by all of the lists looking to matchup against a Slaves to Darkness or other combat army. I’ll be easier to shoot, have worse armor, and worse mortal wound protection. Slaves has predictable casting, charging, and strong units that can be buffed. They are faster and do more damage than ironjawz and have better tools to control turn orders. Having the second best combat army isn’t very much fun.
Big Waagh! is right out for logistical and practice purposes. As much fun as it is to roll a teleport and use laser eyes, and as much as I enjoyed taking 80 orcs to Nashcon, I don’t really have the games under my belt to even narrow down a list that I want to take.
Gitz can wait a month. I love the models and can’t want to get back to painting them after LVO. My favorite faction in a new GHB and new ITC season will be perfect to continue through 2023 with.
In the end I just can’t quit my lanky orcs. I started my travel event circuit at LVO last year and it’s a fitting place to put them to rest in Vegas. Last year I hoped to just roll dice and have fun. This year I’m hoping to do the same and see mini friends I’ve made throughout the year.
Between dirty tricks and the Grinnin’ Blades ability to hide from line of sight I’ve leaned into picking units that just sort of muck around and make life harder. I’m a fool to battle fate, but I will attempt to trick it through throwing out random debuffs. Despite going back to Kruleboyz I don’t recommend this army to anyone who is looking to start playing Age of Sigmar. It’s still the same old slow Kruleboyz with limited armor and a lack of ward. I’m likely to get tabled by something like Sylvaneth or a weird murder-elf list at some point during LVO. I’ve found that a lot of people aren’t familiar with Kruleboyz beyond “they shoot a lot but are just really bad”. The big change since I seriously played them last, to allow shamans to cast spells and offer buffs, is a great change that allows for you to cast some risky spells that debuff your opponent and still get some buffs that just work.
2023 LVO - Click to Expand
– Warclan: Grinnin’ Blades
– Grand Strategy: Waaagh!
– Triumphs: Inspired
Killaboss on Great Gnashtoof (130)***
– Artefact: Mork’s Eye Pebble
– Mount Trait: Fast ‘Un
Murknob with Belcha-banna (80)***
Swampcalla Shaman with Pot-grot (100)***
– Lore of the Swamp: Nasty Hex
– Lore of the Swamp: Da Black Pit
Swampcalla Shaman with Pot-grot (100)****
– Lore of the Swamp: Choking Mist
– Lore of the Swamp: Nasty Hex
Swampcalla Shaman with Pot-grot (100)****
– Lore of the Swamp: Choking Mist
– Lore of the Swamp: Nasty Hex
Snatchaboss on Sludgeraker Beast (290)****
– Artefact: Arcane Tome (Universal Artefact)
– Lore of the Swamp: Sneaky Miasma
– Universal Spell Lore: Flaming Weapon
20 x Gutrippaz (300)*
– Reinforced x 1
10 x Gutrippaz (150)*
10 x Hobgrot Slittaz (80)**
10 x Hobgrot Slittaz (80)**
10 x Hobgrot Slittaz (80)*
10 x Hobgrot Slittaz (80)
3 x Man-skewer Boltboyz (120)
3 x Man-skewer Boltboyz (120)
Beast-skewer Killbow (100)
Suffocating Gravetide (30)
Geminids of Uhl-Gysh (50)
Total: 1990 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 1 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
I play games, paint models to play games, and think about the interactions of the models on the table. Next time I’ll give a recap of how LVO went!