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Old August 9th, 2010, 11:40 AM
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GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

... or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the Fen Hydra.

I'm going to link this in my regular battle reports thread, where I will also put my General Wars and Heroes only battle reports, but I figure I should put the championship report in its own thread so that it's easier for people to find.

Before I get to the actual games I played in the Gencon championship, I’ll talk about what led me to the army I played. Those who play me in the local scene in Colorado know that I’m not shy about playing Raelin and Q9. I had pretty much decided I was playing them at the championship, and I was going to build out from there. With the popularity of Braxas and Grimnak in the previous year's event, and the somewhat similar format, I wanted a powerful large/huge ranged figure, and Q9 was my guy.

My signature army, insofar as I have one, is the Raelin/Q9/Zombiesx4 combo, which I won the inaugural Colorado NHSD with last year. I tested a similar variant at a game day in July, and I was definitely leaning towards playing that army in the championship for most of the summer. The zombies are a lot more competitive than people give them credit for, and I sort of wanted to pull a killercactus and make day 2 with my pet army.

However, I kept playing with other options for the last (up to) 250 points of that army. And one I kept coming back to was three sets of Deathreavers and the Fen Hydra. I actually suggested this army on the forums just a couple weeks after the release of the stats of the Fen Hydra (nicknaming it "cheeseheads" at the time). I'd never played rats in a competitive setting before, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of putting the Hydra alongside Q9 behind a screen. The Fen Hydra, like Q9, is immune to PAB/Chomp d20 powers. And while Q9 is at his best mowing down low to mid-defense squad figures, the Hydra excels at taking down tough heroes or high defense melee squaddies, making them a natural complement to one another. And the Hydra, with its effective range of 2 (there aren't many spots on Gencon maps where Reach is different than a range of 2) actually works quite well with rats, unlike pure melee figures. Combine Q9/Hydra with the extra defense of Raelin and the board control of the rats, and you have an exceptionally tough and versatile army. Moreover, if I left out Isamu and went 10 points light, I had extremely strong upgrades available at every point level for day 2. The Fen Hydra is an inherently high-variance figure, but since the rest of the army is so low-variance, this seemed acceptable to me.

Still, I wanted to play the zombies, and I probably did 60% of my championship playtesting with that army and only about 30% with the Hydra build. It was only after the Gencon prep tournament a week before the Con, where I played the Hydra army, that I started leaning that way. I have won all the events out here, so winning a tournament in Colorado is not that big of a deal for me (sorry guys), but the level of dominance the Q9/Raelin/rat/Hydra army displayed was just dumb. The more I thought about it, the less doubt I had that this was the strongest possible army I could pick for the championship event, given the maps, glyphs, and the set of opposing armies I expected to see. I packed the zombies for Gencon, but it was largely symbolic; by the time I arrived in Indy I already knew I was going with the cheeseheads.


Round 1
Opponent: Fishtako (Raelin, Q9, Marro Dividers x5)
Map: Invasion (Wound and Healer)

I had actually brought up Fishtako's exact army on the championship speculation thread, and it was definitely no joke. (For the record, I had also brought up my own army. The signal to noise ratio on that thread wasn't great, but there was plenty of good stuff if you knew who to read.) It's closely related to the zombie army that I know and love to play. I liked my end of the matchup, for sure, but not all that much.

The opening round started out with both of us spooling out our screening figures and parking our Raelin next to the jungle bush on our right hand side. My Raelin was covering the wound glyph, and Fishtako put the first wound on Raelin. This surprised me, but I guess it's possible he was already worried about giving up points in a game that was almost sure to go to time.

In round 2, both of our Q9s got to work at the opposing screen. My Raelin-protected Deathreavers pretty much refused to die, but the dividers were hitting enough divides that the game stayed pretty close. Once I had the dividers cleared from the high ground on the left side, I moved the Hydra up and prepared to take on Raelin and Q9, hopefully in that order. Fishtako intervened with Q9 and a divider, clogging things up so that I couldn't reach Raelin easily. Fishtako put the second Wannok wound on Raelin.

At that point, I made what was probably the biggest tactical error I made in the entire Con. Rather than attempt to kill a 10 defense Q9 (certainly doable with 4 attacks of 5!) or disengage, hit the healer glyph if necessary, and work the Hydra around the outside, I chose to bring the Hydra into the center of the map on the far side of the hive to try to outflank Q9 that way. Predictably, this led to the FH being mobbed with dividers, and a few bad rolls later he was dead. I was unlucky to lose the Hydra so quickly in that spot, but I really had no business putting him in that spot in the first place.

However, Q9 bailed me out by taking out Fishtako's wounded Raelin from behind the safety of my rat screen. (This, of course, just further underscores why I shouldn't have been playing the Hydra that way.) I had taken out two squads of dividers at this point, so I was ahead on points. Fishtako, aware that this game wasn't going to get finished by this point, slid his Q9 across and tried to take out my Raelin. He actually did get three wounds on Raelin before I killed the dividers on that side and managed to get my Q9 face-to-face with his, with mine in Raelin's aura. At that point, time was called, and I was comfortably ahead - the wound glyph had taken out a couple dividers, bringing my total above three full squads. If he had killed my Raelin I actually still would have won, but only by a tiny margin. Still, I felt a lot better that my Raelin was still alive, as that gave me a comfortable lead by the "who would probably win if the game were untimed" measure.

It was a really tough opening game - certainly no softball like I got in general wars. As it turns out, Fishtako swept through the rest of the day, and didn't take another loss until the semifinals on day 2, when Mantrainchoochoo took him down. It was an impressive and well-deserved run for Fishtako and the dividers.


Round 2
Opponent: Cleon (Nilfheim, Stingersx5, Marcu)
Map: Just Passing Through (move and defense)

NERV game!

Things certainly weren't getting any easier for me with this matchup. Cleon's army was offense, offense, and more offense. However, the map draw, and in particular the glyph draw, was pretty favorable to me. However, I lost my game of what I call "glyph gambling". Let me explain: at Gencon, the glyphs are revealed after armies are placed. On a couple maps in the pool (most obviously Midnight Lagoon and Just Passing Through, but others to a lesser degree), the startzones are so wide and the glyphs are so wide that figures can really only be placed near to one of the glyphs. In those cases, I have to decide on which side of the startzone to place Raelin/Q9/Hydra, and which side just gets a smattering of rats. In this case, I stacked my startzone toward the side with the move glyph, while the real prize, the defense glyph, was on the far side. It's a gamble I have to take, and I lost.

At any rate, things started well for me as I won initiative, claimed both glpyhs, and screened off the potential Stinger approaches to my side of the map. Nilfheim was very effective clearing the defense glyph, though, and I had to devote order markers to rats in the second and third round to engage Nilfheim and re-fill the glyph. Stingers actually claimed the defense glyph at one point, but I held it for most of the game.

In the second round, I brought the Hydra across the map and had him drop four attacks of five on stingers that were idle in the startzone. I figured this would lead to the death of the Hydra, but I also figured that it was worth given the amount of damage it could do in that spot.

Cleon chose to try to work across the map to get at my Raelin/Q9 pod with Nilfheim. My rats double-engaged him twice, leading to two disengagement wounds for Nilfheim. Nilfheim did land two wounds on the Raelin-protected Q9, but Q9 managed to take down the weakened Nilfheim. While the stingers eventually did take out the Hydra, the rats kept them from reaching a threatening position, and Q9 was able to clean up the remaining stingers without too much trouble.

Cleon ended up winning his next two games, only to take his second loss of the day to Fishtako, dropping him to 17th place, one spot out of day 2. It's Cleon's second time missing day 2 by a slim margin, which is pretty brutal. He won Monster Mash at the end of the Con, bringing back at least one title for the northeast.


Round 3
Opponent: Dragonmaster384 (Zelrig, Nilfheim, Greenscale Warriors x2, Isamu, Otonashi)
Map: Rift Valley (Initiative and Healer)

Greenscales with one of the big special attacking dragons (Nilf/Braxas/Zelrig) is definitely one of the tougher matchups for my army. It can clear rats with the dragon king and take key spots with the Greenscales, sort of like how the Heavy Grut army works. However, with relatively weak glyphs, and with a map that's one of the easiest ones in the pool to clog up, I wasn't too worried about wanting OMs on my rats. Also, this double dragon/no Raelin/2 squad version is not quite as intimidating to my army as the versions that Jexik and EternalThanos86 rode into day 2.

Chris took a long time trying to decide which dragon was going to be his king for the game, and eventually settled on Zelrig. Obviously, the goal was to drop some Z-bombs on the most Z-bomb friendly map out there. He opened with OMs on the GSWs and won initiative, but a first turn majestic fires whiff made his good luck suddenly look pretty bad. By the time I had evacuated the lava field in my startzones and put rats all over the road ring, I had only lost one rat to Z-bombs; they were still rolling 4 defense dice, after all. Raelin herself was the primary victim, as she had taken two wounds.

Q9 was just starting to get to work sniping at Greenscales when the key sequence of the game happened. DM384 sent Nilfheim across into my startzone to attempt to kill Raelin with adjacent normal attacks. My Hydra was engaged to Nilfheim, but I took a disengage (no wound) to wind around a tree and re-engage Nilfheim with height advantage. On that turn, I dropped 20 attack dice on Nilfheim... and got 2 wounds. After winning initiative to start the next round, I dropped another 20 attack dice on Nilfheim... and got one more wound. DM384 took one more swing at Raelin but couldn't get the kill, and the third round of 20 attack dice finally managed to eliminate Nilfheim. Even though it was frustrating at the time, I gotta say that it was pretty fun to roll that many attack dice!

Chris brought Zelrig and his Greenscales forward to near my startzone, but Q9 queglix'ed Zelrig to death soon after that, and DM384 conceded rather than try to defeat my largely intact army with some kingless GSWs and a couple ninjas.

I tend to think this is the most surprising army to make day 2 (although you can easily make an argument for killercactus's viper swarm), so even though our match wasn't all that close, Chris gets a lot of respect from me.


Round 4
Opponent: R˙chean (10th x3, Romans x2, Marcus, Raelin)
Map: Midnight Lagoon (defense and healer)

I joked with R˙chean that he had an unfair advantage since we were playing on his map. However, we both knew full well who had the edge here. R˙chean was my first opponent without any special attacks, and Mark was going to have to conjure some clever tactics to come up with the win. He was not very high on his chances.

I lost on glyph gambling again on this map, and my Raelin was out of position to cover the defense glyph. However, Mark hacked up his startzone placement even worse than I did, and ended up not being able to claim the defense glyph despite winning initiative (his 10th, who took the early OMs, were on the wrong side of his startzone). Ry tried to contest the glyph as best he could, but it was a scatter-fest, and once I had the approach to the glyph screened off with rats, he decided to concede the glyph and try to take out my heroes in the center of the map. My Raelin slid over to the right on the low ground (the consequence of my failed glyph gamble) while Mark's Raelin moved up to the high ground on the left (non-defense glyph) side of the middle of the map.

R˙chean was sniping at my Raelin with the 10th, so I moved Q9 up to start shooting back. I left an opportunity for R˙chean to get elevated bayonet hits on Q9, and the 4Av10D attacks did manage one wound on Q9. However, the Fen Hydra followed in behind Q9, and was able to take out the nearby 10th. I moved the Fen Hydra forward outside Raelin's aura to continue the killing and tie up the remaining redcoats. This allowed the FH to get bayoneted and eventually brought down, but it bought Q9 time to move onto the high ground on the right side of the middle of the map and finish off Raelin.

At this point, I secured my rat screen around Q9 and finished off most of the remaining 10th, pushing R˙chean under a full squad of redcoats. R˙chean started to move up his Romans, but they got tied up and it looked like just a matter of time before Q9 chewed through them. Rather than play it out, Mark simply offered a handshake and congratulated me on making day 2. Fortunately, I gave him enough of a strength of schedule boost that he ended up being one of three 3-2 armies that made it as well.


Round 5
Opponent: Matthias Maccabeus (Sir Gilbert, Knights of Weston x4, Airborne Elite)
Map: Elswin Plateau (move and healer)

As we were both 4-0, this was essentially a game for seeding, which is to say, a game for pride, since the seedings on day 2 don't really count for much. However, at this point all four of my previous opponents were 3-1 with their only loss being to me, so I was pretty sure that a win would get me the top seed for day 2. And I liked the sound of that.

Once again I was playing against an army with no special attacks (other than the grenades, which aren't all that great). The Airborne Elite dropped on the opening turn, leading to me putting three OMs on Q9 while Ken put three on the AE. Matthias carefully arranged the dropped figures so that Q9 would not have a shot on more than one if I won initiative, but he ended up winning it. He made what I thought was a curious decision to concentrate his fire on Q9 rather than Raelin, but he did manage 2 wounds before Q9 killed the last AE in turn three.

At that point, we were left with a classic knights versus rats & range fight, give or take the Fen Hydra. I spooled out rats, taking the move glyph to speed things along a bit, while Matthias cautiously advanced his figures out of range or behind ruins. He mobbed and took the move glyph from me, but I decided to try to continue to build my shell on the high side of the map with my three heroes inside, rather than contest it. It seemed to me that Matthias was trying to bait me to push Q9 forward to Queglix his figures, but I was content to use the normal attack, knowing full well that the knights inevitably had to come to me. I avoided shooting Gilbert as this would just lead to a trip to the healer glyph. Matthias put all of his experience on display as he probed every weak point in my rat screen, managing to get one knight through to Raelin at one point and engaging Q9 in another spot shortly after that, but as he closed in, the scatters became more frequent and the Q-gun and Hydra head attacks became more consistent. When "last order marker" was called, I had killed about six knights and the Airborne, and had lost only four rats. Ken tried some desperation double-disengages in order to take a shot at Q9, but it was not to be.

Matthias thought that he still had a good chance to win that match. Given his track record, I'm hesitant to say that he is wrong, but I really didn't see it. Since Q9 was now unengaged behind a solid wall of rats, I was going to slide Q9 back two hexes to make room for some Fen Hydra reach hits on the three nearest knights. I don't think it was going to get much easier for the knights of Maccabeus after that. Unfortunately for Matthias, he ran into the other rat-podge, piloted by Mantrainchoochoo, in the round of 16. Honestly, my army and MTCC's army are the only two armies in the day 2 field that I would have been at all confident picking to beat Matthias.

5-0, first seed for day 2.

Since I was into day 2, I wasn't going to be able to play my Charos, 4thx3, Eldgrim (the eventual winner!) army in Dragon Wars the next day. My plan had been to play the 4thx4, Captain America army in Marvel if I made day 2, as this gives me an alternative valiant army. However, after five pretty intense games, I really just wanted to relax and get some food in my system, so I decided to bag it rather than cash in some generic tickets and play Marvel.

The upgrade roll was a symbol, leading to the maximum possible upgrade, all the way to 640 points. I had considered multiple options at each point level, but when I considered that my first opponent was playing stingers and my likely second opponent was playing 4th Mass, it was pretty obvious that a fourth squad of rats and the Krav Maga Agents was the best option. This took me to exactly 24 hexes, gave me a better offense/defense balance, and made for a pretty amazingly nasty army. I used to agree with the people who say that three squads of rats is all you really want. I don't agree with that any more. It's probably all you want at 500, but only because you need offense more. At 640, the 16 rat army makes a lot of sense.


Round of 16
Opponent: wdgrant (Stingersx5, Raelin, Fen Hydra, Kaemon Awa, Marcu)
Map: Fossil (move and healer)

Despite some suggestions otherwise, wdgrant made the correct decision in my opinion by adding Kaemon on day 2. Against some other armies, adding two more squads of stingers is probably better, but I think having Kaemon the rat killer was pretty crucial for him.

I opened the game with rats, grabbing the move glyph and taking spots on the high ground all the way on wdgrant's side of the map, and moved Raelin up to the high ground next to the big tree. wdgrant had some very hot early stinger rolls, taking out 5 rats by the time Q9 had sniped a single stinger, and basically clearing out his side of the map. He then moved Kaemon up to his high ground, and shot straight across to Raelin with his normal attack, getting 4 wounds in only two OMs. Realizing that Kaemon was simply going to quick release any adjacent rats or normal attack Raelin if he was free, I had to take out Kaemon, but in order to do that I decided to first take out Raelin 4 hexes back in the startzone. I pushed Q9 forward, and he did manage to kill Raelin right after Kaemon killed mine. wdgrant tried to get his Hydra in the game, but it was pretty tied up with rats, so he wasn't really able to do much with it. However, elevated, juiced stingers then proceeded to kill Q9 with only two shots.

I was feeling pretty low at this point, and figured I might end up being a first round flameout. However, the newest addition to my army ended up bailing me out. The Krav moved up, and three turns later Kaemon and five stingers were dead. It was about as sudden and dramatic a swing of fortune as you'll see in a game.

At that point it was Krav, Hydra, and 9 rats versus four stingers, a Hydra, and Marcu. The Krav finished the stingers off, and I managed the truly nasty Hydra reach over rats, from elevation, to put three wounds on the opposing Hydra. The Krav finished the Hydra, and when a 4-wound Marcu decided that Eternal Hatred sounded better than the healer glyph, wdgrant conceded the match.

This game ended up being far closer than I had thought it would be, and while some of that was the early luck killing rats and Q9, none of that would have been possible if Dair hadn't had such a great game plan. He took Raelin out the only way that was likely to work, and then drew Q9 in to where he had a chance to take him out. The luck did end up more or less balancing out by the end, anyway.

Opponent: Pickle4112 (4th Mass x5, Braxas, Raelin)
Map: Fissure

Rather than his most obvious upgrade of 6 minutemen, Pickle decided to add Raelin to give Braxas a bit more of a chance against my large figure pair. He opened the game with Raelin, putting her on a perch where she could aid Braxas's advance. Q9 tagged her for 2 wounds on the first OM, but after that I left her alone, as Braxas had to advance further to engage Q9 or the Hydra anyway.

The second round was a dance between the three large/huge figures while the rest of the figures sat idle. If Pickle made any mistake in this game, it was continuing to fight Q9 and the Hydra rather than disengaging to my startzone in an effort to gas Raelin and the Krav. At any rate, at the end of the second round Braxas was dead, mostly at the hands heads of the Hydra, and I hadn't taken a single wound.

Pickle was obviously in a bind at this point, but he put up a valiant (ha) effort anyway. I put my Raelin on the map's extreme peak and sent rats across, leaving pickle with a maximum of two minutemen who had a shot at Raelin each turn. Meanwhile, Q9 and the Krav methodically picked off the 4th. Pickle did get some good fortune, getting three wounds on Q9 with 3v10 shots, and getting a 6D whiff on a Krav. Eventually I got with the program and realized that it's better to lose reavers than risk high defense whiffs, and I swarmed his startzone completely.

At that point, there was really nothing at all Pickle could do. He was obviously and understandably frustrated. I didn't take out Raelin - in part because she's not as big a deal with +1 defense, in part because her presence restricted where pickle went and cost him an OM at one point, in part because I did manage to attack defense 2 minutemen a few times, and in part because killercactus was watching and I wanted to impress him. Anyway, I methodically eliminated one minuteman after the other, finally taking Raelin out second-to-last.

Pickle had done me a huge favor in the first round by defeating my very worst matchup: the Heaviesx4, Grimnak, Nerak, Krav, Raelin army of Scaper_Dude. The 4th/Braxas combo is probably the worst possible matchup that army has, while my army is probably the worst matchup for 4th/Braxas (give or take my Krav addition, which is a juicy target for Braxas). It formed a matchup triangle, and I was very fortunate that the seedings led to the games playing out in the order they did.

Opponent: RoninValentina (Knightsx3, Gilbert, Finn, Krav, Fen Hydra, Marcu)
Map: Fossil (wound and initiative)

I won initiative, but I committed a major OM SNAFU by accidentally putting my "2" on the Krav in stead of the rats. Oy. This kept me from sealing up the map, and when the Krav failed to kill the lead knight and Ronin got a good dispatch roll on the next OM, a knight managed to get up to my Krav and get an adjacent attack. I got a block, but then I rolled a 1 for the wound glyph, lost initiative despite the initiative glyph, and lost the krav to a second attack from the knight that was past my screen. Oy.

It was a nasty cocktail of a brain fart and some bad luck, and it denied me the opportunity to rain 3 attacks of 4 on approaching figures for the remainder of the game, which would have made things go a lot faster. But I figured I was still OK as long as I didn't let the screen collapse again. My Q9 managed to take out two of the three Krav with three turns of 111111111, and my Krav managed to wound the Hydra with attacks of 4 from height. All the while, RV was slowly grinding through my rats. I was steadily giving ground, backing up in one hex increments to limit him to only a couple of attacks per OM. Eventually the Krav brought down the Hydra and it was only the knights left.

Ronin managed to slip Finn through (I believe there was a disengagement involved) and get some attacks on Raelin, so I had to kill Finn - his spirit went on Gilbert. As the screen slowly contracted in more tightly, the Hydra got involved, taking out several knights and wounding Gilbert before the rat screen was finally broken by RV's knights. Raelin died, and the Hydra was brought down to one wound, but he couldn't quite land that last wound. Q9 finished off Gilbert, the last knight, and Marcu. I had Q9, a 3 wound Hydra, and a single rat left at the end.

I had some lousy luck (and some poor play) early on, but my Hydra held up like a champ at the end, so it evened out fairly well. I'm pretty sure that Q9 never even took an attack, much less a wound, so I really felt fairly in control. If I had lost this game, I would probably never have forgiven myself for that critical first round OM error. The game did take an awfully long time - Mantrain had annihilated Fishtako in the other semifinal, and was watching to see who his finals opponent would be for a while.

Opponent: Mantrainchoochoo (Deathreaversx4, Raelin RotV, Major Q9, Kaemon Awa, Marro Warriors, Arkmer (drop a rat))
Map: Warden (defense and initiative)

Before I get to the game, I should probably comment on what is the significance, if any, of a match between two ratx4/Raelin/Q9 armies in the finals. On the one hand, this could be seen as a horrible thing - the logical endpoint of people minmaxing their builds, and something which could have a stifling effect on competitive Heroscape. I know I'm not an unbiased observer, but I don't see it that way. First, while the army I brought is in my opinion the strongest army for the current Gencon championship metagame, it is far from unbeatable. In fact, there are several builds that are probably favored against it, even if those builds may have fewer strong matchups overall. Secondly, there is still a great degree of diversity in the top builds.

Third, and I really want to emphasize this one - playing a Raelin/Deathreaver/unique range army well is not easy. It requires a lot of skill to make all the right decisions on order marker management and figure placement. Yes, it's very, very powerful, and I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy. But there's a number of other top competitive builds that are, in my opinion, significantly easier to play. There were other rat/Raelin and rat/Q9 and even rat/Raelin/Q9 armies out there on day 1, and only Mantrainchoochoo and myself made day 2. If it was just the army, we would have seen more similar armies in the top 16. But Ben is a freaking incredible player, and I happen to think I'm pretty good too. It's not just the army. Yes, it's favored over a lot of stuff on paper, but you've got to know what you're doing.

OK, sorry, that's the end of the rant. Let me get to the game, because hoo boy, does it deserve some comment. I know some people were saying that this was going to be an unwatchable match with 31 rats on the map. I think we heard the "5 minutes, guys" joke about 10 times over the course of the game. But honestly, this was the most tactically intense game of Heroscape I've ever played, and I'm not sure any other game I've played really rates all that close. To say this was a game worthy of the final is, in my obviously biased opinion, a gross understatement.

(As an aside, it didn't take all that long, either. Any game with two full startzones is going to take a while, but it wasn't ridiculous. It was over an hour, but it was shorter than my semifinal game, shorter than the third place game that happened parallel to it, and shorter than some games I've had in other tournaments. Ben plays really fast, and I play reasonably fast, and with our special attacks scatter almost never happened in this game.)

On paper, my army had the advantage in this battle. While Kaemon is certainly very useful in a fight with so many rats, The Fen Hydra is a great weapon to have to use against the opposing Q9. More crucially, though, I had the Krav, while Mantrain had Marro Warriors and Arkmer (who crowded out a rat). While Arkmer may have had some use in Mantrainchoochoo's first match against knights, he was basically 50 points of dead weight in our match. (We speculated after the match that MTCC may have been better off sitting Arkmer for another rat, actually.) The upgrade regime was just a lot easier to handle for my 500 point army than it was for MTCC's 510 point army.

When the glyphs flipped, it was immediately obvious that both of us would be racing for the defense glyph, and the initial initiative roll was absolutely crucial. I lost initial initiative, and both of us agreed that that might decide the game right there. Sure enough, MTCC had rats on defense and wound on turn 2, conceding the relatively unimportant initiative glyph to me as consolation. At that point, both of us moved up our Q9s, and the rat-killing began.

As I said earlier, MTCC is an incredible player. Where he stands out more than anything else, to me, is OM management. He's the only player I've ever faced where I felt like he wasn't just planning out his best moves for the next round, but consistently figuring out what I was going to do and then setting his against that. (And somehow completing this entire process in under ten seconds.) Because we were both relying on special attacks and not triggering scatter, each of us was putting OMs on the rats in nearly every round. For two rounds in a row, I cleared the defense glyph, had my next OM on the rats to claim the glyph myself... and Ben flipped his rat OM. It was uncanny. Then, in the third round, I cleared defense after the second OM but didn't put OM 3 on rats because I figured he'd have his OM 2 on rats. Nope. It was his 3. He had me second-guessing myself between every round, trying to figure out what he was thinking that I was thinking and how he would plan against that.

I've gotten ahead of the action, though, so let me back up. In the second round, MTCC brought up his Raelin to the shadow tile on the edge of the central platform. I think the intention was to bring Q9 up next to it, but I walled off MTCC's side of the entrance to the platform with a pair of rats, which allowed me to slip Q9 onto the platform myself, and I managed to kill his Raelin. (If Ben made any mistake this game, it was that he moved Raelin up a bit too early.) MTCC was working his rats across the map on the initiative side of the map, but I was walling off the platform as best I could with rats. I moved my Raelin up to the mirror image spot to where MTCC had put his, but at this point it was relatively safe. I brought the Fen Hydra up into the aura as well, although I lost a head to a disengagement strike along the way. By the fourth round I had claimed the wound glyph in the middle, which was nice because it was clear this was going to be a war of rat attrition and every little bit counted.

While I was concentrating most of my fire on rats, MTCC was trying to kill Q9. I was hucking 10 dice on defense, but you've gotta whiff sometime, right? MTCC did get Q9 to 3 wounds, but that fourth wound just would not come out. Rather than risk losing Q9 and basically having no way to get the defense glyph back, I retreated Q9 to the low ground on the defense side of the map, still in Raelin's aura, and shot at the rats from there while standing on shadow. At long last, after five rounds, I had whittled the rats down to just the one on the defense glyph. The Krav got in the game and finished off the last rat, and I finally had the glyph. I advanced my Hydra over the top and put two wounds on Q9. The Hydra took a couple quick wounds from Kaemon, but was still tying up Q9, so I then switched to the Krav, who got on the elevated platform and started doing what the Krav do when they have height, Raelin, and a screen.

When I took down Q9 with a shot from the Krav, I actually started to believe I was going to pull off the comeback after losing the opening race for the glyph, and win this thing. The Marro Warriors and Kaemon put up a fight - MTCC was trying to bust a hole in the screen with Kaemon so that the Marro could engage the Krav, so I took out Kaemon first. The Marro actually did kill a Krav thanks to a stealth dodge whiff on seven defense dice. Q9 returned from exile in the lowlands to take out the last two Marro. Arkmer only had one activation and no attacks before Q9 finished him off.

It was an almost surreal experience playing in this game. Like I said, it was a super intense game that required a ton of concentration, and it was only every few minutes or so that I would look up and remember, "oh, right, there's a decent-sized crowd gathered around us watching this game". Having people applaud when the game ended was also sort of surreal, albeit gratifying. Again, I have to also give props to Ben, who is such a great player. He only needed one more whiff from my Q9 in those middle rounds, and he cruises to the win. It was a razor-close game.

Anyway, for winning the championship, I got an RotV set (my first! I've only had the figures!), a full wave of D2, one of those cool hologram skull trophies, a awesome plaque with a digital picture frame in the middle that cycles through Heroscape pics, a gift certificate to Miniatures Market, a dice tower, one of Cav's lexan maps, the autographed copy of River of Blood, and a set of the much-coveted Gencon custom dice. It was a lot of swag.

Unfortunately CVN was apparently off babysitting some executives all weekend, so I didn't get to play against him. Too bad; that would have been my chance to finally whip out the zombies.

Last edited by dok; August 10th, 2010 at 01:33 AM.
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Old August 9th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Sounds amazing, a great read! Congrats again!
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Old August 9th, 2010, 12:20 PM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Yea, for a while I was so sure I had it but then my rats disappeared... still it was a great game and I look forward to getting some revenge next year
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Old August 10th, 2010, 12:21 AM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Great Job Dok! Fun to read! Were all proud to have played against your winning army.

The Colorado King pulled it off! Horray!

Deathreacers should be banned!
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Old August 10th, 2010, 10:27 AM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Good recap. Congrats on the W!
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Old August 10th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Great read. Great tourney. Great job. Nice to see a new face winning it all. Although I do curse you for bringing back rats and Q9 into the meta I can't argue with the army (it is a great one). Congrats and enjoy that swag. Those trophies and dice are what I've been trying to get for years. This years' looked particularly cool.
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Old August 10th, 2010, 12:13 PM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Originally Posted by gamjuven View Post
bringing back rats and Q9 into the meta
They left?

Looking for a way to get casual players involved in Heroscape? Do your opponents lack the interest or knowledge to build/draft their own armies? If so, check out Project 500!
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Old August 10th, 2010, 01:11 PM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Originally Posted by happyjosiah View Post
Originally Posted by gamjuven View Post
bringing back rats and Q9 into the meta
They left?
Well, no. But they haven't won the whole thing in a couple years.
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Old August 10th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Fantastic detailed report dok, enjoy the prizes.
You have an impressive winloss record, and will go up there with the names to beat.

I won initiative, but I committed a major OM SNAFU by accidentally putting my "2" on the Krav in stead of the rats. Oy.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 12:00 AM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

It took a while to get through, but this was a great report. Every detail of map and glyph and opponents figure, I'm rooting for you again next year just to get another like it.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 06:13 PM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

An awesome report from an exceptional player!

Most of my games went to time, so I didn't really get a chance to see how everyone else was playing. Thanks for the recap!
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Old August 14th, 2010, 11:01 AM
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Re: GenCon 2010 Champion's battle report

Since I couldn't be there, this is the next best thing. You're a great player and a good writer, too. Here in NYC Kolakoski loves to get your advice on army building, so sometimes I feel like I'm playing both of you!

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