Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Australian Masters 2014 List Analysis (p1)

In this post I'm going to go over all the lists being used at this years Australian Masters. The Masters is an awesome invitational event that gets run at the end of the year to reward players who finish strongly in the national rankings. It serves as both a contest to determine the "Master" or best player for the year as well as a celebration of a good year of gaming. This can create an interesting paradox of people playing as hard as possible and going to win while simultaneously getting outrageously drunk and having an amazing time.

This year is the first time since my debut in 2009 that I won't be able to attend the masters, which makes me a sad panda. Being stuck overseas watching all the #hype for this year is lame, so I'm going to try and get in on it. I'm going to do a run down of all the lists (this post) then later on I'll probably go through all the first round match ups and see if I can pick a winner.

So onto the lists!

Alex Treble - Lizardmen - 12.1
Slann Mage Priest, BSB, Standard of Swiftness, Harmonic Convergence, Reservoir of Eldritch Energy, Soul of Stone, Focus of Mystery, Book of Asur, Egg of Quango 550
Saurus Scar Veteran w/ GW, LA, Cold One , Dawnstone, Dragonhelm 145
Skink Chief w/ Spear, LA, Terradon, Enchanted Shield, Dragonbane Gem 89
Skink Chief w/ Spear, Terradon, LA, Charmed Shield, Luckstone 89
Skink Priest (Beasts magic), Dispel Scroll 90
10 Skink Skirmishers (Jav/Shield) 70
10 Skink Skirmishers (Jav/Shield) 70
10 Skink Skirmishers (Jav/Shield) 70
12 Skinks w/ Musician, Standard, Kroxigor 130
12 Skinks w/ Musician, Standard, Kroxigor 130
12 Skinks w/ Musician, Standard, Kroxigor 130
Bastilodon, solar engine 150 
38 Temple Guard w/ Full Command razor standard 607
Salamander 80

This is a very tough list, and could well be one of my favorite lists of the event. Alex has enough chaff that he should be able to control the game, and not a lot of units are going to be able to take on those Temple Guard in a straight up fight. Alex caters to the prevalence of elf armies in the competition by having a Bastilodon, meaning he can threaten with several strong magic missiles each turn, particularly after swapping out a spell (such as a first turn Tempest) for Fireball.

If Alex misplays his chaff or loses it cheaply the Temple Guard might be liable to being combo charged by a large number of units, but this would require a mistake on his part. Particularly tough characters could also give this list issues, particularly if they can avoid arcane unforging.

What makes this list so good though is that it is perfect for grinding out 13-14 point wins on the top tables. If Alex shuts up shop and doesn't take risks its going to be exceptionally difficult to take points off him. If Alex can perform strongly in the sealed section (importantly occurring in games 2 an 3 this year) he will be in a position where he can grind out the small-medium wins on the top tables with his own list and potentially take out the event.

Ben Leopold - High Elves - 13.0
Alith Anar: General 250
Eltharion: Life magic 295
Korhil 150
Caradryan 170
Noble: Battle Standard, Armour of Caledor, halberd 147
Mage: Dispel Scroll, Metal magic 110
13 Archers: Standard, Musician 150
12 Archers: Standard, Musician 140
8 Silver Helms: Full Command, shields 214
5 Reavers: Standard, Musician 100
19 White Lions: Full command, Banner of Swiftness 292
Frostheart Phoenix 240
Repeater Bolt Thrower 70
Repeater Bolt Thrower 70

Ben has been to the masters before and performed quite strongly with a 3rd place finish in 2011. Not sure that is going to happen again this year, because this list is a bit all over the place. I'm not entirely surprised that Ben has this kind of list. Qualifying at rank 20 or so due to multiple declined invites Ben likely wasn't expecting to play masters and has just taken something for shits and giggles. I did exactly the same thing in Sydney 2010 when I got invited at rank 23, rocking an appallingly bad tomb king list under the old book (in 8th ediiton). The difference between Ben and I is that my list got resubbed and his hasn't.

 That said I'm not sure the list is as terrible as people have made out. It has an okay shooting phase with the Bolt Throwers and Alith Anar, and the white lion bus with the characters won't be the worst thing in combat. The problem is that while Ben has shooting, magic and CC elements to his army he isn't particularly strong in any phase. The player using this list will really have to know what they are doing to make it work, and absolutely no one will be wanting to draw this list in the sealed section.

Chris Cousens - Warriors of Chaos - 12.3
Chaos Lord, Disc of Tzeentch, Mark of Tzeentch, Enchanted Shield, Talisman of Preservation, Ogre Blade 340
Exalted Sorceror, Mark of Tzeentch,Lore of Tzeench 250
Exalted Hero, Talisman of Endurance, Dragonhelm, Great Weapon, Barded Daemonic Steed, Mark of Tzeentch, 216
Exalted Hero, Daemonic Steed, Battle Standard, Dawnstone, Scaled Skin, Charmed Shield, Ironcurse Icon, great weapon, mark of tzeench 241
15 Warriors of Chaos, Mark of Tzeentch, Shields, Full Command, Banner of Swiftness 300
24 Marauders, Mark of Tzeentch, Full Command 222
5 Marauder Horsemen, Mark of Slaanesh, Shields 80
Chimera, Regenerating Flesh 245
Chimera, Regernrating Flesh 245
3 Skullcrushers, Ensorcelled Weapons, Musician, Standard, Gleaming Pennant 259

The Egg himself Christopher Cousens. Chris clamed to have single handedly broken Swedish v1.14 in the lead up to the event (along with about 15 other people), and while I'm not sure if this is entirely the case the list has some undeniable strength to it. This list is surprisingly flexible, Chris has the option of running all of the characters seperate to saturate the board with strong single models, or he can put the exalted into the Chaos Warriors and create a more powerful hammer unit backed up by some ranks. 

The lack of cannons is going to undoubtedly help Chris, and if he goes for an alpha strike he should be able to overwhelm the medium level shooting that a lot of the lists have. A big danger for Chris though is losing his general. While he is fairly well protected with a 3+ ward if he does go down early then panic and the like could really take its toll.

Chris' opponents will need to be super careful in zoning out all the fast elements of Chris' list. One mistake could lead to Chris breaking the game open, which will probably lead to an excellent score for the egg.

Chris is a definite chance to take out the event, particularly given his formidable record in the sealed section in past events.

Haig McLisky - Orcs and Goblins 12.1
Black Orc Warboss 5+ ward, dwarf basher, enchanted shield, other trickers shard 260
Savage Orc Shammy Lvl 4, Fencers Blades, Shrunken Head, Dragonbane Gem 296
Savage Orc Bigboss BSB, MR 1, GW 119
Night Goblin Shammy Lvl 2, Scroll, Iron Curse 115
Goblin Big Boss Wolf, la, shield, dragonhelm, shrekin Blades, potion of fool hardiness,bow 78
Savage Orc Big Uns 23 with Full command and extra H/W 288
Night Goblins 23 with f/c, 2 x fanatics 149
Arrow Boys 10 Boys with Banner 80
Wolf Boys 5 with Banner, muso, shields, la, bows, spears 85
Black Orcs 18 with Full command , shields and Banner of Discipline 284
Wolf Chariot 50
Wolf Chariot 50
Orc Chariot 85
Orc Chariot 85
Stone Thrower 85
Doom Diver Doom 80
Doom Diver Doom 80
Mangler Squig 65
Mangler Squig 65

Last years master Haig has turned up the same list this year as he did last year. I guess if it isn't broke then don't fix it, but a little more imagination and fantasy would be appreciated. This list will defend and chaff up the board, Haig knows what he's doing and will make it difficult for people to get at his Savage block. May struggle a bit more this year due to the prevalence of elves, who will be able to nullify the manglers and chaff fairly easily as well as hunt down warmachines. A decent list by all measures but I don't think it will have the same success as last year.

Jamie Payne - Bretonnians - 15.6
Bretonnian Lord, general, steed, shield, virtue of heroism, sword of swift slaying, dragonbane gem, gromhil great helm 234
Bretonnian Lord, virtue of the joust, siriennes locket, dragonhelm, potion of speed, lance, shield, pegasus 264
Paladin, steed, bsb, enchanted shield, dawnstone, gauntlet of the duel 119
paladin, steed, lance, charmed shield, luckstone, holy icon 128
Damsel, level 2 beasts, scroll, steed 140
Damsel, level 2 beasts, falcon horn, steed 160
12 knights of the realm, full commad, war banner 337
12 knights errant, full command, banner of discipline 276
8 knights errant, full command 181
5 mounted yoeman, shields, champion 94
5 mounted yoeman, champion 89
3 pegasus knights, full command 192
Trebuchet 90
Trebuchet 90

As one of the best players in the country Jamie is always going to be a contender for the title, he narrowly lost out last year and since then has lifted his game another level, winning more than 50% of the tournaments he entered. A debut at the ETC will have only further developed his game, making him a very formidable opponent.

That said I'm not sure about the list. It has many things that a typical aggressive Bretonnian list normally has, but Jamie has pitched it at a strangely high comp score given the cap is at 13. Perhaps he thought he was submitting his list for cancon, or he's just not worried by anyone else in the field.

I think he's going to struggle to keep up with some of the faster armies at the event, although clever use of the falcon horn may help. Jamies is a good enough player that he'll still undoubtedly do well with this list, and it has the advantage of being quite flexible which is always important in the masters environment.

Given the field Jamie probably would have been better off with a lvl4 life mage. Swedish doesn't allow a look out sir for Dwellers, and there are a lot of S3 or 4 characters running around, as well as some fairly large units. Life would help him against Alex Treble's Lizardmen, which is currently an absolute horror match up for this list.

Marc Hurwitz – High elves - 12.9
Archmage, Lvl 4, Talisman of Preservation, Scroll of Shielding, Lore of Heavens 280
Noble, BSB, Armour of Destiny, Halberd 147
Mage - High Magic, Dispel Scroll, level 2 145
15 Seaguard, shields, standard, Muso 200
10 Archers, muso 110
10 Archers, muso 110
5 Ellyrian reavers, bow and spear, muso 105
5 Ellyrian reavers, bow and spear, muso 105
15 White lions, standard, muso 215
20 Pheonix Guard, Champion, Muso, Razor banner 375
5 shadow warriors 70
Flamspyre 225
Great Eagle 50
Great Eagle 50
Bolt Thrower 70
Bolt Thrower 70
5 Sisters of avalon 70

Marc is another Masters first timer, having qualified off the back of some strong results in NSW. He's gone for a lot of smaller units with a pair of medium sized infantry units at the core of his army. The Pheonix guard will be a tough nut to crack for many opponents, but I fear the list lacks the combat damage output required to be successful. Heavens is an interesting lore, but probably not the most effective in the field. The lack of static gunlines reduces the effect of comet, and much of harmonic convergences strength is wasted on elves.

The main problem as I see it is that the list only has three close combat units, none of which are particularly dangerous. Flamespyre pheonixes are at best a glorified great eagle in combat, more suited to doing flyover attacks, and while the Pheonix Guard and White Lions will be difficult to shift, their actual damage output is not particularly high, particularly given the small size of the White Lion unit.

Marc will struggle to get big wins with this list, and will potentially struggle in the sealed section due to his penchant for only ever playing High Elves at tournaments. 

Matt Wilson – Dark Elves - 8.8
Hellebron 310
Master, sea dragon cloak, heavy armour, lance, shield, cloak of twilight, pegasus 188
Sorceress, level 2, metal, ring of hotek 165
Master, sea dragon cloak, heavy armour, cold one, halberd, BSB, luckstone 124
28 witch elves, champion, standard, banner of swiftness 343
5 dark riders 80
5 dark riders shield 85
5 dark riders shield, banner 95
Repeater bolt thrower 70
Repeater bolt thrower 70
Repeater bolt thrower 70
Repeater bolt thrower 70
10 cold one knights, champion, banner 320
17 black guard, champion, muso 275
5 doomfire warlocks, champion 135

Took the warhammer world by storm 12 months ago when he turned up to the masters with a Vermin Lord. Has gone down the more boring gamey path this year by turning up with Dark Elves. This list is super strong, super flexible and will give some people absolute nightmares. Hellebron gives the list the ability to smash through units and take big wins, but the list is also excellent defensively as well.

Matt is going to be held back by his comp score though, on average Matt gives up 280vp per round, which in the enviroment of the masters where games are traditionally pretty tight can be a huge amount.

Max Kay - Wood Elves - 13.4
Spellweaver, Level 4, Lore of life, Talisman of preservation, Dispel scroll 290
Glade captain, BSB, Armour of destiny, Great weapon, 154
Spellsinger, Level 2, Lore of metal, Scroll of shielding, 130
Shadowdancer, Potion of strength 120
13 Glade guard, trueflights, Musician 205
12 Glade guard, trueflights, Musician 190
5 Glade riders starfire 115
5 Glade riders 95
34 Wildwood rangers, Banner, Musician, Champion, Banner of swiftness 419
8 Wild riders, shields 224
6 Wild riders, shields 168
5 waywatchers 100
7 waywatchers 140
Eagle 50

Max surprised almost everyone when this list was posted. Normally a player of empire, an army capable of excellent lists in Swedish comp everyone would have expected a list similar to the empire that he took last year. Every year someone gambles on swapping to something unexpected and it could be this is the year that it pays off. Historically it doesn't though, and the player finishes terribly. 

The life mage could be set for an awesome tournament. The metal mage is a great addition that will add to the army as a whole. In fact nothing in this list doesn't add value to the army, (except perhaps the 5 glade riders without any magic arrows) and if Max plays this well it is going to do well. Max probably hasn't had that many games with it though, and Wood Elves aren't really an army you can just pick up and be at top level with straight away.

The Warriors of Chaos lists are probably something Max wants to avoid, as they don't really care about a lot of the shooting, and will go to town on the Wildwood rangers, but if he can avoid them Max could be in for a strong finish.

That's it for today folks, the rest of the lists will be put up tomorrow. My favorite so far is probably Treble's though.

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