There are many aspects of Warhammer that I enjoy thoroughly: the painting, the theorycrafting, the collecting and of course the game itself. I usually have this natural process of mood swings around the game: procrastinating painting to over think the painting scheme, the mildly stressed painting because I’d like to finish something in time, the endless calculations in my head when building a list… and then the butterflies of excitement rumbling in my belly right before the match. But all in all… it’s manageable (or so I like to fool myself). But this easy going flow is shaken up profoundly when some of our team decided to join our first competition in 8th edition.
When I pressed the button “Enlist” for a tournament in april, it felt like setting a landmark: that’s the day I’ll be ready to start a different kind of gaming. It’s the day I’ll have an army assembled, fit for tournament play. It’s the day I’ll know the rules well enough to be able to play on a tournament. It’s the day the game will have unveiled its surprised to me and let my cunning mind see the realm of all tactics and possibilities. It’s the day where I’ll have grown taller by 3 foot, died my hair pink and will henceforth be known as “That Dark Elf player!”.
Well maybe it was a little less dramatic, but I had to stop myself from running down the hall of my office building, screaming like a girl. It was the ultimate confrontation with my own procrastination.
Still under the influence of “the buzz”, I started building ideas and views about my preparation for the tournament. A little later I cancelled a few of those ideas (I may yet try that idea of a giant wooden badger…) and pulled myself back in line. In order to get ready, I needed the following:
- An army list
- Some training with the army list
- The actual models in this army list
- Preferably paint the models in the army
When you’re still collecting your army, I always struggled to choose between “buy what you play” or “buy, play, expand”. The former is often a struggle to find a suitable proxy, get the experience you need and turn it into a unit you’re willing to spend money on… But the latter could make me run out of budget before getting the units I need. Combined with the pressure of a tournament coming up, my thoughts kept going in a loop. Every once in a while the alarm “But you have to get the models and paint them” started ringing.
I broke the deadlock with a few rules: I’ll build the list around a horde of Corsairs, a unit of Black Guards and some Shades. I have most of these models, the rest on order, and they won’t introduce “tough to think of” elements of the color scheme.
The army list
The army size of the tournament was unknown at the time of subscription. I deviously started digging in the past to find that past iterations of this tournament required armies of 1750 points: a very convenient size for a starting player. Now for the building of the list:
- With the core slots taking up a horde of Corsairs, I’m close to the core requirements. Thus I wouldn’t be taking a unit of Warriors. I consider a unit of RXBs and a unit of DRs.
- I like armies “light” on characters, so I decided to go for 1 Supreme Sorceress and 1 Cauldron of Blood BSB. Without bunker for the Sorceress, I’d put her on a Pegasus. Because of the pegasus, I’d give her pendant of Kaeleth. As she’s the only character, I give her the mandatory Dispel Scroll. This leaves me with little choices left. I try to bring in the black dragon egg, simply because I love it -that- much, and I’m left wondering if I should pick Shadow or Metal.
- The BG’s would be as large as they come with a banner of murder.
- To keep the army mobile, help me against warmachines and get some shooting in… I’m putting in two large units of Shades. With their mobility, they are hard enough to get rid off which may deny my enemy some points. Downside: fragile to fireballs. This means enough shooting is available, and I make my remaining core choice the Dark Riders instead of RXBs.
What remains is a bit of tweaking here and there. I manage to squeeze in some harpies and voila: the list is ready.
Silence before the storm
With a list in hand, the knowledge that all the models in it are ordered or in my hands, part of the storm in my mind calms down and makes way for anxiety. Is this list alright? Will it hold up against this type of foe or that type of foe? How can I train? How much training do I need? What if the list isn’t good? What if I need to change a lot and can’t get the army together in time? What’s the meta going to be like?
I find myself eyeing the list of participants and their army choices (without the list) and grow restless until one our group’s first training days comes around: finally a chance to test the metal of this army!
Training helps… in more than one way!
I’m grateful that Dimetrius and Dourin offered me a chance to play with my list… Yes, it did give me a taste of how my army list will work and it did impress me as a solid list.
But more importantly: it helped that anxiety cool down! It helped me calm down and conclude “all is well… Sure, you may not become national champion on your first tournament ever… But it’s alright. You’ll be able to play. All is well.”
I know I’m one of those guys that’s hell bent on getting their game done. I’m one of those guys who only starts to breathe more calmly once the dice start rolling. The buzz of a tournament augmented that… but I got by with a little help from my friends!!