Thursday, August 21, 2014

Team NZ Performance at ETC 2014 - Captain's Observations

This was the fifth time that NZ had sent a team to the ETC. Six of the team plus the Coach (James Milner) were returnees with only Rory Finnemore and myself as debutants.

When the team was put together last September, I set out the goal I wanted the team to achieve. This was to improve from last year's 26th Place into the top half of the table. Effectively this meant Top 16. I also identified 12th or above as significant outperformance given the playing resources, set up and logistics of other countries.

The team selected was:

Pete Dunn (Skaven) - Captain
Mal Patel (Lizards)
Dave Grant (Ogres)
Dave Meachen (Daemons)
Thomas van Roekel (Dwarfs)
Tim Joss (Dark Elves)
Dan Butler (Warriors of Chaos)
Rory Finnemore (Empire)

James Milner - Coach

Initially we did not have Dwarfs in the mix - Rory was playing Vampires and Thomas Empire - but we switched late last year. The other decision was around Dave Grant's army. We considered switching him to Wood Elves when the new book fell but decided against it. In retrospect both these decisions were correct.

Going into the event we played two practice rounds - beating Serbia and then a narrow loss to Singapore. After the Singapore game we spent 5+ hours reviewing and revising our matchups - remedial homework from the Captain.

So our round results were as follows:

Round 1 - Scotland (eventual finish 11th)  - Win 97-63

Round 2 - Norway (21st) - Loss 60-100

Round 3 - Switzerland (12th) - Win 84-76

Round 4 - Australia (19th) - Win 87-63

Round 5 - Czech Republic (9th) - Loss 76-84

Round 6 - Finland (14th) - Loss 63-97

Our record was 3 wins and 3 losses. In achieving that we beat the 11th and 12th placed teams and took a narrow loss to the 9th Place team.

Going into Day 3 we were placed 11th and I gave the team a target of a minimum 150 points. Unfortunately we only got 139 points and were jumped by teams coming from much lower on the table.

This meant that we finished 20th and failed to achieve the placing we had wanted. This was very disappointing to the team - I personally was gutted - as we felt we had done well.

With the benefit of a week to provide context I think the final placing undersells the performance.  Throughout the weekend we were always playing on the Top Half tables. This means that we have a very strong strength of schedule. All our opponents came from the other top twenty teams. We had three wins and all of those came against teams that finished above us. Against the Czechs, the team gave up what looked like a solid "85 point" win when a few things went awry. That would have set us up for a Top 12 finish last round.....might have beens.

To give some context of how ruthless the ETC is. Norway who finished below us placed eventual winners Sweden in Round 5.

Obviously the highlight for me was the win over Australia who had been tipped to do very well. They were quite confident going into the event and to beat them 87-73 was a big fillup for the NZ team. The haka performed by Rory post Dan Butler's win over Nick Hoen (in what Oz had as a solid Green) brought a standing ovation from the room.

Regarding our lists I think we had two lists that were problematic. The traditional Skink Cloud Lizardman list was just too 2012. I think one (Jack Armstrong from England) did well with it but generally the Lizards that achieved were "newer" builds. We may have got some assessments wrong but generally I think the list itself was pressured. And WoC. They underperformed last year and did so again this year. The problem was that they didn't have enough good matchups and had more orange than in the past. In the end it meant Dan went under the bus to get the team better matchups. I also found in the matchup process that we relied a lot on DoC, Skaven and Dwarfs to take what would be problematic matchups for other armies. We certainly missed not having High Elves.

I'm going to talk more about Matchups in a later post as this really is a topic that deserves wider review. However I will say here that the team owes a great debt to Jack Dunn for his work in developing matchup software. While it is only as good as its inputs, based on team assessment this software regular gave the team a pickup of between 5-10 points in the matchup process with no angst. While other teams mulled over matchups, James and I shuffled cards and pushed buttons. We never left the matchup process with an expected score less than 86 - some cases improving from 76. Perhaps his MIT PhD can be on enhancements of ETC Matchup software.

So where will I grade us.....a "C" on recount. But it could have been a B+/A-. Curses.

And playing Captain....Forget about it.

EDIT: And I'm not sure how I forgot to mention the efforts of James in herding us cats during the round. Thanks mate you made my life a lot easier.


  1. Well said Pete.
    Id agree with 99% of that.


  2. Yep, it's painful to have had 'everything' within reach, only for it to slip away. Thanks to Jack for the software, thanks to Pete for keeping us on track/having a banker brain/having Jack, and thanks to the band of brothers that went away to fight in Serbia. Proud to have served. Dan.

  3. Yeah great assessment. Thanks for all your efforts and Jack for the software. There are things that I'll regret (like losing 10-12 tournament points in the bottom of 6th in rounds 5 & 6 to things essentially out of my control)...seeing things like Tom getting 0 in round 5 then getting 17/18 in round 6 to essentially the same army...also round 2 vs Norway the massive eye-opener to the importance of the match up process...
    Proud to have served and to have learned. So fired up! All I can think about is Warhammer!

  4. I've edited the post to acknowledge the efforts of James Milner. Thanks again mate you made my life a lot easier.

    And don't you forget - Even Manchester City need a James Milner!

    1. Haha all good mate! Twas a pleasure being coach/media representative for the team (though maybe too much of the later at times :-))

      Must say though not playing the games can be a painful thing at times due to the lack of control! Though I cant say I miss all the background work and match ups etc

  5. It was a very good performance, really. Winning half your rounds, and playing against so many teams that finished near the top is a really good result. I guess it was just that the two larger losses really outweighed only one really heavy win. Bit sad that you guys came away disappointed by your placing, given how good some of your results were.

    I don't know what it is with NZ beating Australia in the match-up and then finishing immediately below us. Hard to believe it happened that way again.

  6. Is the underperformance of WOC and possibly DOC lists at ETC related to the CTA performance and the Elfapocalypse? Are Elves now a bad match up for WOC? If so who are the good matchups?
    Dark elves and especially warlocks are good against Nurgle and Khorne, but it's hard to play avoidance after half your army has been choired and your warlocks have no save.

  7. Pete, isn't this about 2014 not 2015?