I got an opportunity to ask Charles a few questions about his experience at the fifth world ender!
His lists were: Hit Squad and Fist of Halaak
1. Hi Charles and congrats on the win! How long have you been playing the game and how many factions do you play competitively? Do you consider Skorne your main faction? Was this your first World Ender?
I’ve been playing since late 2008, so about 7 years. I own models for Cygnar, Khador, Merc, Retribution, Cryx, Skorne and Legion. I’ve been playing Cygnar competitively for the first few years (Templecon, throwing Nemo into the killbox, things like that) and mostly Skorne for the past 3. I consider Skorne to be my main faction but I’m also trying to diversify into Legion and Ret this year. This is the first world ender I’ve had the time to attend, great event and great turn out !
2. You played Fist of Halak and Hit Squad for the tournament. I understand you normally play the Zaal Immortal host Tier, can I ask why you decided not to play that list and also your opinion on tier lists in the competitive meta. Are they a good thing for the game or have they become a degenerative way to take advantage of poorly designed options that are intended to add flavour to the game?
I’ve had enough of Zaal for a while and want to change. (at least until the advocate comes out) I actually just want to play Hit Squad for the day but brought fist to cover its weaknesses, end up playing fist for 4 rounds due to matchup and my overestimation of Hit Squad.
Tier list seems to be dominating a lot of competitive events, Skorne is especially skewed toward it because they don’t have (in my opinion) powerhouse casters like eVayl, eKrueger and eHaley, but happens to have a good number of tiers that brings them to that level. I think it’s getting to a point where the amount of discounts in tier lists should be limited, but then you have things like Arkadius’ tier that makes a bottom caster merely usable, so no single fix will be sufficient as it stands. The fact that the tier compilation book came out recently also means they won’t be changed anytime soon.
3. Out of the two lists did you consider either to be your primary and did you select the lists so that they would compliment each other in any certain way?
I wanted to play Hit Squad all day. It has issue against legion, some Cygnar, most of Circle.. and eh, a lot of things in general. In my mind it was an A-, but after this weekend’s event, practically it’s probably closer to a B. Shucks. Fist covers almost all the weakness though, it’s fist.
4.I’d love to know more about hit squad and your particular list. What is it about this particular tier that makes epic morghul playable? Morghul is built like a fantastic assassination caster, does the list play for assassination?
All the benefits of this tier are significant. Tormentor getting shadowwhip (which works for any friendly model) means eMorg threatens 15.5″, bronzeback at 12.5″ plus beatback, plus various positioning advantages like pulling a model further back after a sprint. Opponent lose AD can be huge in pushing the scenario, with eMorg’s assassination potential people are already going to be holding further back, and being able to bully the middle of the board helps that. Last, cheaper heavies is never a bad thing, 6pt archidon is just too good to pass up.
The list plays for attrition but by virtue of eMorg always keeps assassination open. Keeping opponent caster back means they support the army less, and in killbox means they have to disproportionally block landing spots, and have less board control overall. Most turns I start with a few seconds to see if there’s an obvious opening, otherwise I stick to just killing his army and pulling pieces apart and not waste time going for a long shot assassination. eMorg can either go kill a solo and sprint away, or hand out animus/ghost walk to the army.
5. I’m interested in your opinion on the Aradius Sentinels and what their specific function is in your Zerxis list. I’ve seen fist with Tibbers and with molik kharn but have yet to play against one with Sentinels. How does this different battle group affect the over all play of the tier list?
Their function is to turn fist into a gunline and forces the opponent to engage. With 2 AD sentinels and 2 AD flayer cannons (tier3 benefit) it has a signififcant board presence that can push early or hold the opponent AD elements back. They are only spd3 and I don’t have far strike support, so they only threat 13″, but boy that’s 13″ of possible caster death that is harder to block than Karn. One of the main weakness of fist is the predictable threat range, and a control list can sometimes piece it apart, by having enough guns I can win or fight most gunlines and force the opponent to engage, allowing the arcurii to do the heavy lifting that they sometimes don’t get to do.
Having 2 heavy guns as the only battlegroup also has the benefit of letting Xerxis full camp every turn if I wanted to, they can put up swarm to protect nearby models and Xerxis can camp 5, which I did a few times over the day.
The flayer cannon are not to be discounted either, the potential damage output is pretty insane with the armoury objective, and I can easily sac the 2 grunts for asset protection to deny scenario.
Current opinion of this list is that it’s stronger than any of the tier2 versions.
6. Do you feel your pairing had any inherent weaknesses and if so how were you prepared to deal with them?
eKrueger will be an issue for both lists, though I’d be curious to see if this version of fist can handle it. eVayl is also an issue, my traditional fist tier2 with Karn and Archidon is about 50/50 going into that, although I feel this version has slightly better odds. Things eMorg really don’t want to see include Brad and eHaley and fist handles those fine.
7. There were 25 players at the event, with a wide variety of factions present (even a single COC player!) . Was there any particular player or match up you were hoping to avoid?
I brought Hit Squad with countering trolls in mind because Doomy3 was the hot new thing, not realizing that he’s not available for this event yet. (I was thinking of the WMW prep event next month). I was pretty sure I can’t avoid all of Chris/Chandler/David, end up playing 2 of them.
8. Can you briefly outline your matches (just player/caster/ win condition) and whether or not you have played that player at a World Ender Before?
I’ve played against all the players here, although not at a previous world ender event.
Round 1 vs Derrick (eThag/pVayl) Recon
Want to drop Hit Squad, but pVayl with rampager is real bad news. Dropped fist.
His list was melee focused so I moved up and started popping off shredders with my guns. That forced him to engage and then to go all in with eThag’s feat. The main strength of this Fist tier list is in forcing opponent to engage, as martial discipline allows me to unjam my models very easily and still shoot/advance. eThag did a respectable amount of killing himself but eventually died in the zone.
Round 2 vs Owen (Durst/eFeora?) Incursion
This is one I’m alright dropping hit squad in, so I did. He saw that both of my list have no magical weapon except caster (and both of them have no offensive spell, shock !) so he dropped Durst tier4 with 5 paladins. I knew the Paladins will contest the zones forever and eMorg will have to do the heavy lifting himself, so I positioned him to my left flank, ready to gank the paladin on the left or middle flag, and hoping that tough/steady croaks can jam the right flag sufficiently. Probably due to the threat range of eMorg and bronzeback, he feated top of 2 defensively. Over a few more rounds eMorg was able to scalpel out the 2 paladins and vilmon and eventually started scoring on the center and right flag while agonizer kept his battlegroup from functioning effectively. Won on scenario.
Round 3 vs Kevin A (eHaley/eCaine) Fire support
Want to drop hit squad, would probably do if he didn’t have eCaine. (struggle against eHaley double stormwall but might be ok because I can blind a stormwall and agonizer it, effectively shutting it down) but eCaine is a definite no-no. Dropped fist, play conservatively and just lobbed AoEs until he’s almost out of troops. Caine feated, and with harm was able to kill a sentinel after all the shots. After another round and boomies were gone, cetrati went to his flag to contest. Caine killed 4 of them himself by gate crashing into their back arc, and fire went out on him twice. At last I got a sentinel to slam a cetrati into him and killed with the flayer cannon for flavour.
Round 4 vs Chandler (Harby/eFeora) Close Quarters
Want to drop hit squad, probably be terrible against both lists. He went first and pressed forward. I moved up slowly and started lobbing AoEs to whittle down the errants and daughters. He used the book to let errants light up my infantry with fire and that worked quite well, while holding back his vengers. Nicia came in on a 1-box incind to do her thing, rolled 4 twice to leave her sitting in front of me. I missed a 9 three times with 1 arcurii and 2 incinds, so the sentinel took a free strike, backed up to 2.1″, shot her, miss and deviated to clip her, boosting that pow7 poison killed her easily. Inhospitable ground on my feat turn slowed his push into me a bit, critically making the KES fail his charge. Attrition went my way and harby bullied her flag up to 3 points then died there.
Round 5 vs Chris (Issy/Ravyn) Destruction
Definitely not dropping hit squad, both lists can murder him. Issyria probably can’t clear the jam as efficiently so it’s Ravyn on fist. A lot came down to whether he can spike a few damage rolls and remove as many incindiarii before they start burning MHSFs to death. I went first, moved up slowly, he sniped Eiryss’s unit (the other side of the board I hogged a hill) and took out 1 incind and 1 unit of flayer. I feated defensively and pressed up, killing ~10 models between the AoEs. I bundled up a bit too much on the right flank with a manpile of Incind and Arcurii, and Chris lit up my entire 2 front row with starfire shots from stormfalls. His feat turn attack rolls were hot, but damage roll not as much, which averaged out to I think 2 dead cataphracts, the flayer’s gunner, and 1 cetrati, and some damage spread around. Most of my fire didn’t go out and he cranked those rolls, bringing a few to 1 box. My turn cleared out most on my right flank and the OBJ and scored 2, Xerxis camping 5 and everything on my left kind of formed a curve to block LoS. (in hindsight Xerxis should not be anywhere near where he was). Chris opened a lane and got eiryss3 a shot to remove all of my fury, did 2 pts. Banshee slammed him and did 7, then Ravyn charged into the zone, sniped herself to take a shot, overall came up short of killing me and the 2 sentinels aimed and shot her to death.
9. Which game, in your opinion, was the greatest struggle? Why? Did you do anything unusual to overcome the challenges?
Game 2 against Owen I had to switch up the tactics due to the paladins. There was a turn where eMorg was sitting in Durst’ charge range, so I camped 5 and had safeguard on. He can probably hit me 3 times, and I had over 60 boxes to transfer to.
Game 5 vs Chris was probably the hardest because I know it is difficult to deny him a chance to assassinate, I could’ve played that better and lowered his odds even more, (we calculated that he averaged about 1 damage short at that point, but even a 45% chance is very plausible). Him taking out my left flank was the right choice because that took away my ability to burn Eiryss, if she’s out then there’s no way he can assassinate a 5 fury Xerxis. I concentrated efforts on the stormfall when I could because they are actually the heavy hitters in that list against a kd caster.
10. I heard that luck and bad dice may have been a factor in some of your games at WTC, can you tell me how you deal with situations were dice seem to shut down the best laid plans?
It happens to everyone. At WTC I had a game where ignited Karn got into a paralyzed Butcher3 (full camp) with 5 swings, missed 2. Last game my opponent had 3 bane knights charging Zaal (eGaspy feat), lands 2 of them, the last one literally at 1 second left. I gave it to him thinking that minimum damage would have killed me but have since been reminded that the opponent doesn’t have time to roll damage then I win by time. That would’ve been the difference of our team placing 19th vs 7th (we had the highest SoS of that event). Sorry to my team mates for that.
One of the most tilting game I’ve had recently was the Ottawa WMW qualifier against Marc. I was visibly frustrated halfway through the game but when you lose a lot of models you end up spending less time to activate them, so I made myself sit down and evaluate my board position every turn. Marc knows that too and played very conservatively once he gained the lead, otherwise I might have had a better chance to assassinate him. That game is on youtube, my girlfriend watched it and her comment was, “You poor thing”
11. What do you consider the most important thing to do or remember when you play/prepare for a tournament?
Besides being familiar with the lists you’re playing, consider the strongest players and what they are bringing. You can not have 2 lists cover every single top tier matchups so it is crucial to narrow that down to what will be present. I only started to think in this mindset this year, and used to just bring whatever I want to play that week.
12. Do you have any advice for players just starting to get into the competitive scene?
The game has the steepest learning curve of any that I’ve played, it rivals Dwarven Fortress (which is its own epicness). The amount of things you have to memorize is daunting and the number of losses you will have starting the game can be discouraging. For starters, stick to the few casters you like and get really familiar with them against the good players in your area. This will narrow down the casters/army you have to remember to about 1/3 of the entire game and make it more manageable. As you get familiar, try out new casters, net decks, and travel to play in other metas. Constantly trying out new things is the best way to learn and be well-rounded.
13. How much is the hobby aspect of the game (painting/collecting) mean to you? Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a competitive player?
I consider myself a competitive player. It has turned me from a computer games fanatic into a miniature game fanatic.
I’ve wanted to enjoy the hobby side of things. I really like putting models together and converting them, and try to be creative in model postures to distinguish them. Painting is a huge time drain for me and I know the time I spend painting could be spent playing, which I enjoy tremendously more, so I’ve long given up on painting standards and only do it to tabletop quality these days unless it’s a model I particularly like. Small sacrifices.
14. I understand that you are soon to be a father, congratulations! Are you prepared for this challenge and what faction do you think your daughter will play if she ever gets into warmachine?
She can pick the faction, but I probably won’t give her a choice about playing or not.