So a few weeks ago on the 21st of April I headed North for the Belfast Brawl Steamroller tournament. I was looking forward to getting onto the battlefield with my newly painted Gators. Gerry Nolan was kind enough to give me a lift to the event, had Phil Johnston and Stuart Gorman in the car with us as well. We managed to get to Belfast easily enough but then we realised we did not know how to get to the Queen's University Student's Union where the event was being held. In the end we followed a few streets with "University" or "College" in the name, found Queen's University and finally backtracked a little to find the venue. We even had time for a quick breakfast.
Below is the army I brought with me.
Two lists were allowed for the event, in my case both were the same except for the warlock.
Bloody Barnabas / Maelok the Dreadbound (6 WP)
Blackhide Wrastler (9)
Ironback Spitter (8)
Bull Snapper (3)
Gatorman Posse x5 (9)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)
I had never used the Gators before the event, in fact I had never used a HORDES army before (played against plenty of them alright). So I hope I didn't annoy any of my opponents with my rules queries and questions. In all there were ten players at the event - 3 Trollbloods, 2 Mercenaries, 2 Khador, and a single Minion, Skorne, and Cryx army. I was a little disappointed that there were so few of the local players at the event, it would have been nice to get to know more of them. Everyone at the event was very friendly and the event was run extremely well, so thanks to John Foster for all his work. Anyway, to battle.
Game 1 vs. Anthony O'Reilly (Trollbloods)
Anthony had travelled up to the event from Maynooth and had brought his Trollblood army. He chose to use a list composed of a small number of high value models. He had Grim Angus, Earthborn Dire Troll, Troll Axer, Troll Impaler, a War Wagon and a Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew. I selected Bloody Barnabas as my warlock. The scenario for the battle was Incursion.
We both began the game by barrelling forward and casting a couple of upkeep spells. It turned out to be the centre flag that disappeared, which suited neither of us as we would need to spread our forces. Anthony sent his War Wagon and Troll Axer toward the left flag (from my perspective) and the rest of his army was more toward the right. I sent my Gatorman Posse into the Troll Axer and killed it. The Feralgeist and Bull Snapper went right towards the right, although I lost the Feralgeist to Grim's shooting and the Bull Snapper to the Earthborn (I misjudged slightly by allowing the Earthborn to charge the Bull Snapper while remaining in contact with the flag. Over on the left, it took the Gatorman Posse attacked the War Wagon, which killed off a couple of Gators and knocked them down repeatedly. The Blackhide Wrastler beat the Troll Impaler to death, only to fall to the Earthborn. Anthony claimed his second control point with Grim on the right. The Posse finished the War Wagon, scoring me a control point on the left, while my remaining force had to run towards the right flag to contest. Unfortunately for me only the Swamp Gobbers could get close enough, so Anthony killed them off with Grim. I scored a second control point on the left flag, but Grim scored Anthony's third point at the same time winning him the game via scenario.
This was my first game with the Gators. I learned a few important lessons, first is Barnabas is an excellent support warlock, he has two good upkeep spells in Iron Flesh and particularly Warpath, allowing for extra movement for his Battlegroup. Between the Swamp Gobbers and Barnabas' Swamp Pit, there's plenty of protection against shooting available to this army. If I had been able to finish off the War Wagon a turn sooner it would have been difficult for Anthony to stop me scoring Control Points with what remained of his force (just Grim and the Earthborn by the end of the game). Congrats to Anthony, who played a good game and deserved his win.
Game 2 vs. Niall O'Donnell (Khador)
Niall was running a lot of the models from the Starter Box in his Khador army, but had swapped in eVlad as his warcaster. His list was eVlad, Juggernaut, Destroyer, Man-O-War Shocktroopers (5) and the Great Bears of the Gallowswood. I selected Bloody Barnabas again. Scenario was Close Quarters.
This battlefield had a large water feature on it, although it was on Niall's side of the table. Niall advanced up with Vlad, the Juggernaut and his Shocktroopers on my left avoiding the water, while the Destroyer and Great Bears advanced over it on the right. I sent the Blackhide Wrastler over to deal with them, while luring Niall forward. The Wrastler ate the Great Bears over two turns. Niall advanced his Shocktroopers forward in Shield Wall with Vlad behind. When they had come close enough, I spied a quick finish. Barnabas advanced and feated, knocking over Vlad, the Juggernaut and the Shocktroopers. The Posse then charged the Shocktroopers, killing a couple and allowing the Ironback Spitter a free path to charge the prone eVlad, who was quickly beaten to death.
At the start of this game, I wasn't sure how I was going to deal with the high ARM and huge number of damage boxes of the Khador jacks, so the assassination was the way to go here. It worked perfectly, but made for a rather quick game with few casualties.
After this game it was time for lunch, so we decamped to the pub across the road from the Student's Union. After a nice meal and a couple of bottles of San Miguel, it was time for the next round.
Game 3 vs. Mike Marchal (Skorne)
Mike was next up for my Gators, he had won both his games so far so I knew I was in for a tough round, especially when I saw Molik Karn among his models. He was using eMakeda, a Titan Gladiator, Molik Karn, Paingiver Beast Handlers, Praetorian Swordsmen and Aptimus Marketh. As had used Barnabas so far, I decided to give Maelok a try. The scenario was Demolition.
I was concerned about the threat range of Mike's army, he could get up into my face very quickly with plenty of speed buffs available. I hadn't played Molik before, but I had heard he was very powerful. Mike managed to completely upset my plans, and had me in real difficulty quickly. He managed to get his Swordsmen up in my face, leaving me little movement options, then a turn later his Titan made mincemeat of my Blackhide Wrastler, before Molik Karn charged into my Gatorman Posse and wiped all but the leader out. It turns out Mike had made an error however, and I saw my opportunity. I had very few models left, so I had no choice but to go for the kill. Maelok activated, cast Revive to bring back two Grunts from my Gatorman Posse, then feated. The now Incorporeal Gatormen charged Makeda, opted for re-rolls to hit and just about killed her.
I was lucky Mike had left me an assassination on, because I wouldn't have lasted another turn with the attrition I had suffered. Mike admitted after the game he had thought a single Gatorman couldn't kill Makeda. He was right about that, but hadn't taken into account I had a way to bring them back. Maybe there's something to playing a lesser used army after all!
Game 4 vs. Ciaran (Mercenaries)
First things first, I should apologise to Ciaran, I didn't catch his last name and the tournament results didn't list it either. Ciaran was playing the Searforge Commission contract, led by Gorten Grundback, and including 2 Grundback Gunners, a Ghordson Driller, Horgenhold Forge Guard, Thor Steinhammer marshalling a Wroughthammer Rockram, Ogrun Bokur and Gudrun the Wanderer. I decided to pick Barnabas again, and the scenario was Diversion.
I had never faced the Dwarfs of Rhul before either so this was another new experience for me. Ciaran moved less forward than sideways while I rushed forward with my Gator force. I managed to get the Gatorman into Gudrun and kill him, but this led to a back and forth battle against the Forge Guard. The Gunners were taking pot shots at my force as it advanced, and I had a feeling this would turn into a slugfest. In the end Gorten feated to pull my army towards the Rhulfolk, but Ciaran was unable to kill Barnabas. In response, the Ironback Spitter advanced and hit Gorten with his corrosive spit and rolled high for damage. This allowed Barnabas to follow in and finish him, although it was close thanks to the stat lowering effect of the feat.
So, in the end I had managed to go 3-1 with the Gators in my first outing, which was a lot better than I had expected to do. The leaderboard was as follows
Stuart Gorman 4 (Trollbloods)
Mike Marchal 3 (Skorne)
Brian Leonard 3 (Minions)
Owen Conlan 2 (Khador)
Ciaran 2 (Mercenaries)
Gerry Nolan 2 (Mercenaries)
Phil Johnston 2 (Cryx)
Anthony O'Reilly 1 (Trollbloods)
Niall O'Donnell 1 (Khador)
Adam Fox 0 (Trollbloods)
Due to my 3rd place finish I won a nice certificate to put with my other winnings from over the years, as well as £5 credit in local (to Queen's) gaming shop Nerdtopia, so off we went on our adventures to find the shop. Of course, we managed to get John's directions mixed up but managed to find the shop anyway, so I picked up a set of new templates. All that was left was the trip home, and would you believe it, we got lost! Again! We did end up on the M1, but managed to end up heading west instead of south. We all reckon Phil was trying to take us on a detour through Cavan so he didn't have to get a bus home.
All that's left to be said is a few thank yous, to John and the guys from Dragonslayers for running the event, my opponents for the four games and Gerry for the lift. I had a great time and will do my best to go back should there be another event run.
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