Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Skaven Adventures at the ETC

So I spent the last fortnight travelling to and from and participating in ETC 2015.

I intend to do a series of posts over the next week or so on my experiences and thoughts coming out of the event - especially re Team NZ. Today I thought I'd start with my own playing performance (and get that out of the way).

My list was as follows:

Grey Seer - Screaming Bell, Skalm, Earthing Rod, Dragonbane Gem

Chieftain - BSB, Shield
Assassin - Weeping Blade, Potion of Strength
Engineer - Level 2, Doomrocket, Condenser
Engineer - Level 1, Dispel Scroll, Ruby Ring
Engineer - Potion of Foolhardiness

39 Stormvermin - Full Command, Storm Banner
3 x 39 Slaves - Pawleader, Muso
2x 2 Rat Swarms

2x 5 Gutter Runners - Poison, Slings

2x Doomwheel
Plagueclaw Catapult
Warp Lightning Cannon

To say I have some familiarity with the Screaming Bell list is a bit of an understatement. I had played the list for about 18 months before I applied for ETC (with some forays into DoC  to get variety). Once selected it meant the next 12 months of Screaming Bell (enormous fun for all my regular opponents).

Leading into the event I played three ETC warmup events - Horned Rat VII, Wrath & Ruin and Panzershreck. In the first I suffered a 5-15 loss after blowing up my Bell but other than that I didn't give away points. I managed to win W&R and Panzershreck by winning 9 out of 11 games and drawing 2. In the process I learned that the nemesis - apart from three dicing the bell - is Life magic. I did manage to secure two draws vs. Empire Life armies which to me are the devil.

I'd like to thank the locals who did play me so I could try things really helped.

When it came to matchups I had one set of "reds", the ten armies with Level 4 Life and minimal "orange" - generally Empire, Lore of Hashut Chaos Dwarfs and the Swedish Wood Elves. Other than that I fancied I could generally hold points. I saw my role in the team as a blocker trying to take the enemy hard hitters - Dark Elves, Daemons, Woodies (wrongly it seems) and (as a back up) High Elves. I didn't expect to be given the chance to play Lizards, WoC, ethereal VC etc.

Warm Up Games

We played warmups vs. Serbia and Singapore. In my game vs. Serbia I fought out a 10-10 vs. their Daemons (4 VPs my way), while against Singapore Dark Elves (Flying Circus) it was also 10-10 (3 VPs). Both were hard games which blew away some of the cobwebs.


Round 1 I was drawn vs. Scotland (Rob Ritchie - who is a lovely bloke). In the end we fought out a 10-10 (about 70 points my way) with me removing two blocks but leaving 4 warmachines on 1 wound. I cast 13th for the only time on the weekend and removed 16 Hammerers. I'd argue it should have been 12-8 my way but Rob would similarly argue the same if I hadn't got the spell off.

In the second round I played Oystein Berg (Norway) who had a Chaos Dwarf list. I fancied the matchup if he didn't castle - he placed everything into a 16" corner square. I could rush him but he had Death/Hellcannon, Deathshriekers, Magma Cannon and Iron I saw a steady bleed of points. I deployed in the other half with important stuff outside his range. 10-10. We then played a game with me rushing him...10-10.

The 3rd round saw me matched up vs. Sebastian Berg (Switzerland) and his Daemons. He hid his LoC behind the hill and baselined the rest. I managed to get a unit of Plague Drones, Beast of Nurgle and pressured his Horrors and Plaguebearers. He didn't want to come out and play and so it petered out to 12-8.

Our grudge round saw me up against Mick Ferraro (Australia) and his High Elves. He had a White Lion BotWD buss which he deployed away from me. I deployed in corner then began the push forward. He sacrificed his two units of Silver Helms to extricate his Frostheart and by start of Turn 3 I was about 300 points up. It petered out again and we called a 12-8.

Fifth round saw me up against the Czech Daemon player. He had a similar list to the Swiss DoC but crucially rolled up 2+ armour save on his LoC. This removed the threat of my Gutter Runners and the Doomwheels. As long as he hid it from WLC it was safe. This he did and he held the rest of his army back. He had Final Trans and Searing Doom, as well as Blue Fire so rushing him was risky - I could see my Doomwheels giving up a bracket early. Final Trans always scares me (thanks Tom) after deployment we agreed a 10-10 (as an aside this suited me as it freed me up to act as Captain).

The final round saw me drawn against the Finnish HE player. Here he was all-mounted with a Silver Helm bus that included 6 characters. He pressured me early but I was able to delay him and started working on the two smaller SH units. My hope was to get Deafening Peals off once or twice to remove the warmachines. Unfortunately that only happened once (Turn 4) and I only got 1 - typically I should get between 2-3. There was one bit of play I was quite proud of in this came, I combat reformed a Slave Block facing a single SH, 19 wide preventing his bus going around it. Into the last turn I had dragged the game back to a 10-10 when my opponent made a very strange combat reform putting his bus into one long line. I then had two opportunities - to try for the magical charge into flank hoping he'd fail Break Test and/or Cracks Call down the line. I need a 5 to get in on the charge which was only about a 16% chance....against that I had the opportunity (25%) to Deafening Peal off the warmachines. I rolled Scorch. However I still had Cracks Call - my 5 Dice plus Level 4 vs. his 4 Dice and now Level 1. It had the potential to go through 10 models - six characters and 4 SHs. Each character was a bracket on a roll of a 6 and one SH was worth 170 points (also on a 6). Unfortunately he dispelled it.....I still don't want to do the maths :-(. The game was 10-10


So in the end I went 2-4-0 scoring 64 points.

Looking at my matchups - using the ETC average for the matchup - my baseline was 53.3.  The sample size is small but it gives you an idea on performance.

Scoring 10.7 points more than I "should" makes me feel happier about my performance. I know through the event I felt under enormous pressure to contribute both as a captain and as a player. Certainly in the matchups for a lot of armies Dave Meachen's DoC and my Skaven were the first line of defence. This generally made my conservative buttons kick in, possibly more than they could have.

Apart from hitting the 13th against Rob I didn't feel I had a huge amount of luck at the event. Deafening Peals was generally underwhelming in its results and the Storm Banner never stayed up more than one opponent turn. If these had been a little bit more in my favour I suspect I could have squeezed another 5-6 points out of my result. However the important thing was that - apart from the speed of the SH bus in the last round - I never really felt under pressure of losing a lot of points. The army holds points well and if you play tight, it makes things very difficult for opponents.

About three months ago I changed out a Hell Pit Abomination plus 65 points for two Doomwheels. That was the correct decision as I think I would have struggled to protect its points, while the Doomwheels have more projection (and importantly scare the shit out of most Elves).

Overall it was a very interesting experience. I was mentally and physically shattered at the end - 48 hours door to door to get there. One thing that became blatantly clear is that acting as a Playing Captain is a very difficult road to travel. I'd never combine the roles in the future.


  1. Just curious. How many games did you and your opponent call early after you had both agreed on what the probable score line would be and is that something that happens a lot at ETC level? I understand that skilled players can predict score lines like this but at which stage do these predictions allow you to stop playing without seeing what the result would actually be?

    1. Four games didn't play the full six turns.

      I'm not sure whether is "something that happens a lot at ETC" but it wasn't uncommon on the upper-mid tables we were playing.

      Certainly when it gets to a stage where anything of value is either hidden or out of range then there seems little point going through the motions.

      If neither party wants to commit to headlong charge then there's not much to be done.

      In each case I felt my time was better spent assisting James to maximise our team result.

  2. G'day Pete,

    I'm wondering why Life magic was your worst lore to face. Is it because of the threat of Dwellers vs your Bell and Seer? Aren't you rolling on the Bell's strength for that? I know you wouldn't want to face a 1-in-6 chance of dying if you could help it, but is that the main reason?

    Or is it the threat of Dwellers on slave blocks early on, halving their size and allowing enemy units to blow through them in a single turn?

    Is the synergy between Throne of Vines and Dwellers, allowing your opponent to cast 6-dice Dwellers with near immunity one of the main factors?


    1. Dwellers......Seer and Bell roll separately. And half the unit disappears

    2. Oh, my reading of it was that the model rolls together, therefore the Seer uses the Bells S5. Isn't that how it works for a character on a mount? I know that the Bell is Unique, so is there a specific rule or FAQ that states the Seer rolls separately?

      Losing half the unit, and therefore the ablative wounds I can see as being a real problem, thanks for clarifying that.

    3. At the ETC its separate rolls. I'm not sure in proper Warhammer - it's been a while

  3. Reading through this doesn't make me miss the ETC style of warhammer at all. The emphasis on playing tight and not screwing up (and thereby blowing the whole round for your team) makes a lot of games a "non-event". I think some people don't mind this, but it's not for everyone. Certainly I have no interest in travelling across the world to set up my models in a corner, then shake hands and agree to a 10-10.

    Solid performance, Pete.

    1. Different armies have different roles - Bell Skaven were always a blocker.

      I understand what you are saying. The key is team result and unless you buy into it from the start then it would be very frustrating. Same being chucked under the bus every round :-)

      Pretty sure you'd love Adepticon Greg - which is the polar opposite.

    2. Adepticon. Yeah, I'd love to. Maybe one day...