Monday, November 20, 2017

New Zealand Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Masters 2017

The last two years of the steadily-growing Warhammer: Age of Sigmar competitive tournament scene is finally culminating in a few weeks time, with our first Masters tournament!

It means a great deal to myself and others who have put in a lot of our time and energy into organising events since the game launched in 2015, to cap it off with one final tournament - a celebration of the friends we have made over this time, the amazing new armies that have sprung up and of course the great games we have had!

I want to acknowledge the hard work of Dan S., James P., Andrew L., James M., Nathan S., Nicholas J., and Shaun B., Rob S. and Marlin F., as well as anyone I may have missed who organised events over the last few years and contributed towards our growing scene.

We wanted to try something a bit different to the other invitational end-of-year events that happen around NZ at this time of year, and so we made the event open to anyone who has played three or more events, or won a major event. Pairings for the first round are seeded based on the final rankings, with rounds two and three also being seeded but with winners playing winners. Rounds four and five will be 'Swiss Pairing'.

This embodies the goal we had right at the start to try to foster an inclusive, relaxed, but by all means competitive tournament scene. It means that anyone on the rankings could potentially become the NZ Master, but the lower down you are, the harder the road will be.

I am delighted by the turnout of those registered, and am looking forward to seeing everyone!

This year, the NZ AOS Masters will be held in Kāpiti. The full player's pack can be viewed here (with PDF version here).

Based on the current registration list, and the current standings in the NZ Rankings, the first round draw looks like this:

  1. Matt B (Stormcast) vs Seth M (Stormcast)
  2. Shaun T (Chaos) vs Rex F (Nighthaunts)
  3. James P (Tzeentch) vs Nick J (Ironjawz)
  4. Julien L (Skryre) vs Will M (Ironjawz) 
  5. Tim L (Death) vs Shalom W (Sylvaneth) 
  6. Bo P (Sylvaneth) vs Matt W (Tzeentch)
  7. Lee W (Sylvaneth) vs Matt B (Beastclaw Raiders)
  8. Hayden H (Kharadron Overlords) vs Aiden N (Pestilens)
The lists for each can be viewed here.

As is tradition, it is time for a ...

Now, as I am still in the darkest depths of study mode, my associates have kindly stepped in to provide the sort of top-notch analysis you have come to expect. 

Much about him is a mystery. They say when he is cut, he bleeds dice. Rumour has it when he was born, the hospital produced a spreadsheet instead of a birth certificate. No-one really knows the truth. All we do know, is his name is "Jim".

Jim has been assisted by the now internet-famous Antipodean Dan Himself! Go check out his podcast AOS Shorts if you are not already a listener.

Thanks guys for your hard work! From what I have seen, the lists coming to Masters are absolutely top-tier, and pretty much everyone is in with a chance.


Ok so Age of Sigmars first masters event for New Zealand! As a disclaimer not everything in the lists is covered by this review, so for participants make sure you review all your opponents list and know what they do!

Aiden N - Clan Pestilens

Aiden has ventured far and wide from his daemon nurgles to bring us his skaven nurgles.  90 Plague monks in the congregation of filth along with the plague furnace gives them re rolled failed charges and a 6up ward save.  These bodies are use as a shield while getting his verminlord corruptor, screaming bell, plague furnace and 3 plague priests into medium range to do some real damage.  The plague furnace and 3 plague priests can all cause great plagues to manifest which can be fairly devastating - only one can go off per turn but they pack some serious punch on top of the d3 mortal wounds to all units in a 4 inch bubble from the prayers.  The corruptors spell with a 13 inch range is also amazing and when backed up by the long range plague catapults killing high priority targets this list is very well rounded.  The other factor you have to take into account is the 90 plague monks do actually pack a punch! When combined with the prayer to give them +1 to wound these guys on top of the corruptor giving them +1 attacks this can really go off against lower armour armies.  The army does have a slight weakness in its on the slower side and getting into 13 inch range without taking casualties is hard but i can really see this army going off some games with its 3 phases of damage.

Hayden H - Kharadron Overlords

Hayden is running Kharadron Overlords and boy does it pack a punch for anyone not expecting what it can do.  His units can start deployed in his ironclad which can be deployed in the sky awaiting to come down in the first hero phase.  The ironclad can then move during the hero phase once per game and deploy his army right up on your lines augmenting his troops with extra attacks from the aether khemists.  His most damaging combo lies augmenting his Endrinriggers with plus 2 attacks to give them massive melee damage at rend 2 hitting on 3s wounding on 2s doing d3 damage.  These endrinriggers can also quickly redeploy with a 12 inch move and a 4up chance to move an extra 24 inches towards scenery or 10+ wound single models!  The amount of pick the army has is also impressive with another aether khemist option being the 6 light hooks on the arkanaut company  with a 24 inch range doing d3 damage rend 2.  The list hits hard and fast but is also on the lower wound side and will lose effectiveness quickly if damage can be done to them.  This is definitely not an army you can be defensive against and the multitude of rend 2 damage for both melee and ranged combat means this army can deal with almost anything.

Julien L - Clan Skrye

For those of you who don't know, Julien was team captain for the french 40k ETC team some time ago - this guy knows his warhammer.  Julien is running a rather nasty clan skyre list which has a lot of neat tricks to it.  The warp lightning cannon fires in both the hero phase and the shooting phase as long as the warlock engineer is nearby from the arkhspark voltik.  All the units from the Gautfyre Skorch come up in a movement phase with the warp grinder team.  The warp grinder team is placed then all other units (stormfiends and warpfire thrower) are placed within 8 inches of the grinder team with no restrictions! Can even be placed into combat if julien so wants.  6 stormfiends pop up and do 12d3 mortal wounds worth of damage no rolling required!.  On top of this once per phase clan skyre can use warpstone sparks to re roll hero attacks, spells or double the damage characteristic of a weapon - thankfully the bulk of Julien's army does (and i could be wrong about this) not have damage characteristics.  The stormfiends warpfire projector, warpfire thrower and warp lightning cannons all do not have damage characteristics to double.  There is a few units that do however like the 3 damage from the warp grinder can be increased to 6 (julien gets to choose after the attack is successful whether to use one which also which means attacks that do d3 can be selected to be doubled after being resolved as being damage 3 which is the acolytes and the warlock engineers pistols).  On top of this the arch warlock can use a spark for free once per turn without expending one of them which he has a few decent attacks himself (d3 and 3 damage characteristics).  Lastly Julien can add +1 to hit and charge for one unit from the vigordust injector which gives him one more tool to use. This list will do very well against elite lists but may struggle against lists with larger wound counts.  Looking forward to seeing what this list can do in Julien's hands.

Lee W - Sylvaneth

Dreadwood, the new Sylvaneth one-drop hotness that focuses on combat output and a (limited) bravery bomb.  4x5 Spite Revenants, Treelord Ancient, 2 support casters, 30 dryads for bodies, 6 scythe hunters and 3 bow hunters for reach. 

The key to the Dreadwood is its strategems.  Lee will roll a dice at the beginning of the first battleround (note after set-up and priority roll) to see how many strategems he will have, 1-3 of the following: (1) redeploy one unit up to 6” away from the enemy (expect this to be the 6 scythes!); (2) the enemy’s attacks, abilities and spells against Deadwood units are limited to 12” for the first battleround and (3) up to 3 Deadwood units can move as if it were the movement phase (but no running) (great for camping on objectives early as needed).  

Dreadwood also allows the Spites to re-roll 1s to wound.  The Dreadwood also contains the Outcasts battalion - In Lee’s hero phase he will roll two dice for each enemy unit within 8” of at least 2 units of Spite Revenants.  The enemy unit takes a mortal wound for each point the total dice roll exceeds that unit’s bravery. 

This effect is boosted by the innate abilities of Spite Revenants which reduce enemy units’ bravery by 1 and requires the enemy to roll 2 dice for battleshock tests and use the highest.  However, the Spite-revenants themselves are very fragile, 5 wound units with a 5+ save drop quickly. 

In terms of allegiance abilities, Lee is taking double Regrowth on his support casters but Verdant Blessing (if cast generate a Wyldwood) on the TLA.  This is an interesting choice in that the TLA also has Moonstone of the Hidden Ways which will allow the TLA to re-deploy once in the game.  Moonstone has most commonly been used on combat orientated TLAs to teleport them 4” away from an enemy unit for an easy charge.  However, if Lee does this he may find that his TLA is left outside the 18” of the Regrowth from his support casters.  The standard Gnarled Warrior (ignore Rend 1) load-out of the TLA will help its survivability. 

Will M - Ironjawz

Will is bringing a well thought out ironjawz list.  The main damage threats from this army come in the form of two units of 10 brutes and a maw krusha.  These are some heavy hitting units that will lay out some serious damage to anyone who gets close.  The Maw Krushas command ability to give all units +1 or +2 attacks in a huge bubble along with two warchanters for extra +hit for one or two units really brings home this damage output.  The list doesn't stop there however and deploys two weird nob shamans who are amazing casters when surrounded by orruks (+2 to cast with 20 around) one of these will be used for mystic shields and the other will be casting balewind vortex to do some long range foot of gork (amazing spell) stomping which could lead to some early advantages with some half decent rolling.  Ironjawz have some extra tricks up their sleeves on top of this with a chance to move units 6 inches in the hero phase, the ability to string together attacks when wiping out units and a blanket +1 to charge ranges.  This means the gore gruntas or maw crusha could easily achieve some first turn long distance charging.  Lastly the Krusha is taking brutish cunning which allows Will to pick a unit within 6 inches of him during the opponent's charge phase and attempt a charge with that unit - this can include the maw krusha itself! Leading to extra chances for excessive bulk to deal some mortal wounds.  The list has two small weaknesses in the lack of ranged damage and low bravery scores which could lead to some excessive casualties from small amounts of damage but the list more than makes up for this with the tools at its disposal.

Seth M - Stormcast Eternals

Seth is running a well rounded stormcast eternals army.  Seth has the lord aquillor with a 5 up ward save against mortal wounds from the shielded by faith, a chance to regen a lost wound each hero phase form the seed of rebirth and a gryph charger with aetheral stalker which gives the gryph re rolls to hit and wound vs one enemy hero for the game.  The rest of seths army is a well rounded assortment of units.  6 longstrike crossbows offer ranged support while decimators, palladors and tempestors offer the bulk of the armys damage.  The list also includes a heraldor for toot toot damage around scenery and a venator and relictor.  This list will look to overpower its opponents by sheer force and armour saves and seth will have to make some good decisions on what to deep strike and what to not to ensure he does not lose board control.

Rex F- Night-Haunt

The anti rend night haunt army is a sight to behold.  Nearly every model in the army ignores your rend and has you fail hopelessly at their decent armour saves.  The list is lower on the damage side but will look to overcome this fact through attrition - the spirit hosts, mournguls and hexwraiths will slowly grind through your ranks.  The army lacks ranged damage except the banshess abilities to do mortals vs low bravery armies.  Rex has included a vampire lord for a bit of magical support allowing the casting of mystic shield where required although thanks to the midnight tome the general cairn wraith is also a wizard and maybe the vampire will be used for its -1 attacks spell to really make it a battle of attrition by lowering the opponent's damage output.  For those who have not checked out the nighthaunt allegiance abilities they can start the game in the etheral realm and deep strike on a 3+ much like a stormcast army and given Rex is taking ruler of the spirit host which allows him to re roll the dice for whether they come on i suspect this will be a key element of his strategy.  The lists major weakness will be against armies with good board control and high mortal wound damage or high damage output in general (with or without rend).

Matt B - Stormcast Eternals

After a long year dominating the scene with his stonehorns matt has decided to play the shiny armoured guys.  Matt is running a 6 drop Aetherstrike force with a unit of 9 longstrike raptors.  The main goal of the aetherstrike battalion is to make this near 500 point unit shoot as many times as possible.  Matt gets to choose one unit in the hero phase to shoot at a unit that is within 12 inches of one of the 2 aetherwings in the force or the knight azyros (which will most likely be the longstrikes shooting). The units in the aetherstrike force include 2 aetherwings 2 vangaurd raptors 2 judicators the knight venator and the knight azyros so care must be taken when finishing off these units.  When you combine this shooting with the ability to re roll 1s to hit against units near the knight azyros enough damage is done to wipe out your troops in quick succession.  Matt has two tooters (heraldors) to blow up terrain for those who stray to close to them which leads to some much needed board control in the list.  Staunch defender on his general allows a 3 up armour save bubble around him which enables the defensive blocks to live long enough to deal the damage.  For all this shooting however the list still only has 24 inch range and there is a few lists that may cause matt a bit of trouble and the fact that its 6 drops does not enable him to set the pace of the game against a lot of the top armies at the tournament.

Nick J - Ironjawz

Nicks list is a slightly slimmed down version of Wills but includes the awesome ironskullz boyz!  Look for this list to do much of the same thing as wills with a straight frontal smash being the main goal of the army.  The list misses out on the shooting phase the same as Wills but includes a weirdnob shaman for foot of gork and a moonclan grot shaman for curse of the bad moon.  If both these spells go off for Nick this can lead to some quick removal of chaff lines, the can opener so his Maw Krusha can dig in on the softies inside.

Matt W - Tzeentch

Matt is a man after my own heart running a summoning list backed up by a large unit of tzaangor enlightened.  With the 840 reinforcement points matt will look to take control of the board through splitting horrors and by summoning casters up ahead in the field so they are able to do some damage first turn.  This is backed up by a gaunt summoner who will most likely be using a balewind vortex to extend the range of his devastating spells.  To ensure all his magics go off matt has chosen to take the blue scribes whos spell gives a bubble of rerolling failed casting attempts for his army ensuring he gets all the summons off the he wants to achieve.  The army is on the heavier side at 8 drops so there is a lot of fast armies which will out deploy and threaten turn one and possibly gain board control but once matt gaines board control it's going to be very hard to move him from objectives.  Matt will most likely be shielding his enlightened behind horror screens allowing them to strike back at units that assault his lines - and when enlightened get to hit second they hit hard gaining the ability to re roll both failed hits and failed wound rolls and at 2 attacks each doing 2 damage along with d3 attacks doing d3 damage all rend 1 these guys really pack the melee punch needed to back up matts magic and shooting.  The shooting of course is something that shouldn't be forgotten about, there may not be any rend in it but between horrors and possible summoned flamers they can chip away with a large amount of no rend shots.  Looking forward to a good showing from Matt and as a fellow tzeentch player i hope not to face him.

Shalom W - Sylvaneth

Shalom has gone for a low model count army with a trio of big characters, 20 dryads, 2x5 tree revenants and 3x3 hunters (6 bows and 3 scythes).  With 9 drops, many opponents will outdeploy this list, so Shalom will be dependent on the 20 dryads to protect her main heroes.  The list’s combat output rests with Durthu and Drycha. 

Shalom has also gone for some interesting choices for allegiance abilities.  Acorn as standard for the free wyldwood turn one, Regrowth (to protect the TLA/Durthu) and Dwellers (for anti-horde) but Lord of Spites stands out.  Lord of Spites allows the TLA to re-roll the first failed hit roll made in each phase, which will be useful as the TLA declines in effectiveness and the to-hit rolls get worse.  

Tim L - Death

New Zealand's death incarnate, Tim has stuck with death through thick and thin and here he is at masters bringing another awesome death list.  Tim is running a triple threat army with a unit of 40 skeletons, 4 morghast and 20 grave guard as the big damage threats.  The morghast function well as a solo unit without any buffing and at rend 2 damage 3 offer the punch required to bring down heavily armoured defenses.  The long range on the morghast also means they can sit in behind skeletons or behind black knights and strike anything that gets close without risking themselves to retaliation.  The grave guard and skeletons are backed up by the wight king for +1 attacks command ability and the necromancer allowing these units to pile in twice in a single combat phase - all of a sudden no rend skeletons are bringing down even the hardiest of troops by death of a thousand papercuts.  Tim is also using the legion of death allowing him an extra move in the hero phase for all units in the battalion which allows tim to have a fairly reliable turn two charge range for the bulk of his army.  Backing up the army is none other than Arkhan the black ready to curse of years anything from the board - for those who don't know what his spell does it has a roughly 18 percent chance to inflict an infinite amount of mortal wounds on a unit and even when that does not occur the spell normally does a few mortal wounds to make it worth while casting no matter what.  The list of course has some weaknesses being mainly a one phase army tim can quickly be held up in advancing by even the most minor of obstacles.

Shaun T - Chaos

Shaun is running a max unit murderhost, this allows him to not only move all the murderhost 2d6 after deployment but also during each movement phase as long as the skullmaster herald of khorne is alive and only units within 8” of him.  This is combined with 2 bloodstokers to add either +6 inches to run or +6 inches to charge range for one unit - this is a nice tactic to attempt to get around lines of chaff - move up close to them, shoot holes in the chaff with skull cannons then charge 12-13 inches right around your troops encompassing you in bloodletters.  To top it off shaun runs a bloodsecrator for that +1 attack bubble all those khorne players love.  To drive this list home shaun is running it as a chaos allegiance list utilising cunning deceiver to give the opponent -1 to hit in the first battle round and favour of the gods to make his general slightly tankier with 1 extra wound.  No real tricks to the army it moves forward and plows face but shaun is well versed in the intricacies of this list which has netted him a solid 3rd place in the New Zealand rankings.  A few weak points against armies that have enough chaff to hold him back a few turns but not many lists that have that ability coming to the tourney.

Bo P - Sylvaneth

Bo has a reasonably balanced one-drop combat Sylvaneth list focused on Gnarlroot.  

Durthu supported by the Loremaster for Hand of Glory (re-roll all missed hits and wounds), 2 units of scythe hunters and a block of 30 dryads to hold the centre.  If the combo comes off, Durthu could come close to unleashing all 18 damage in one combat phase.  If facing this, chip wounds off Durthu early to make sure he is not hitting you at 6 damage.  Thanks to the Household battalion, Bo will also be able to pin juicy targets in place for Durthu (or his scythes) using the TLA and/or one of the tree-revenant units.

Bo won’t have any trouble getting woods out for the dryads to camp in with the branchwych carrying an acorn and the TLA having Verdant blessing.  

The TLA is also made survivable with Gnarled Warrior and Briarsheath (-1 to hit), which is super helpful against attacks causing extra attacks of mortal wounds (cough Skyfires cough).  

Matt B - Beastclaw Raiders

Note: This list is currently under review by the TO.

Matt….. You're a bad bad man and i like it.  Four thundertusks! For the uninitiated thundertusks move 8” then have an 18” shooting attack that does 6 automatic mortal wounds! Do add to the movement matt is running the beastclaw raiders allegiance which has a 33% chance to add 3inches movement in the hero phase to all his troops.  All the thunderusks also carry bloodvultures to deal extra mortal wounds with a 30 inch range!  Within two turns this list will quickly have dealt with the biggest threats in the opponent's army.  To add insult to injury the huskard on thundertusk can also heal one unit per turn.  Some interesting additions to the army includes a moonclan grot shaman for curse of the bad moon or mystic shield and a butcher who can buff or heal the ogors in the army!  Ogors include all the thundertusks! Very nice addition seen it also gets to cast a spell on top of this ability, and its spell is awesome! D3 mortal wounds with a 4up chance to keep repeating d3 mortal wounds a mini foot of gork.  An 80 point ally any beast claw raider player will be adding in.  Apart from this there is 8 frost sabres and 4 goblin chariots whose main job will be screening units from damaging the thundertusks while they out range and heal up wounds suffered.  Awesome list with not too many flaws, looking forward to seeing it do well.

James P - Tzeentch

A Changehost, a gaunt summoner and 680 points of summoning which i have no idea what i am going to be summoning but i plan to make some purchases before the event haha.  The Changehost consists of the changeling with the new rules allowing me to redeploy him after deployment anywhere in the opponent's territory not just the opponent's deployment zone.  Changehost allows me to switch 2 units places swapping one model then placing the rest of the unit within 9 inches of the swapped models.  This allows some extra distance forwards before casting spells with the pink horror units.  The changeling can be swapped with pink horrors, lord of change or some blue or brimstone horrors to establish board control.  Two drop army with high board control and summoning options.