2011 D&D Miniatures Constructed Championship Report
I for one never thought I would win the D&D Miniatures Championship this year. Sure, I’m a decent player, and I did spend a little time warband building and practicing, but this year was one I was just happy to actually be at GenCon, much less do well in the Championships, or more wild yet, win the Championship.
Before my tale and a recap of the matches, I have to hand out some well deserved kudos and thank you’s. First, HUGE kudos and thank you’s to Tried for putting together one of the best DDM GenCons in many many years. He said it was going to be one you would not want to miss and he delivered! Second, a huge thank you again to Tried for keeping this game we love so much alive and kicking. It definitely showed in how much work he put it with the number and quality of events, not to mention the Item Cards and the Rules update. Wow. Third, I would like to thank the Wizards of the Coast for their continued support of D&D Miniatures and the DDM Guild. The prizes for the GenCon and the Championship were AWSOME! And finally, and just as important, a HUGE thanks to all of the DDM Community! You are a very large part of why it is so fun to go to GenCon and play DDM. So thank you to everyone!
On to my tale
As some know from my posts I lost my job back in March. My main focus since then was finding a new job and going to GenCon was a very distant thought. It was not looking good as spring rolled into summer and I had only 5 interviews, but then in early July one of the companies I interviewed with said they would be making an offer. Yea and phew on many levels. With an offer of new employment on the way I booked my flight to GenCon.
Quest for a warband
Now knowing I was going to the show, I had about three weeks to come up with a warband and get a little practice with it. I knew this year’s meta was going to be wide open with potentially a huge variety of warbands. But I also knew that a lot of really talented DDM players were going to be at GenCon this year and these players always bring some of the most creative and challenging warbands. Finally, I was also certain that some particular figures / warbands would show up at the Championship. Specifically, I was anticipating seeing Eye of Shadow warbands, Dispater, Ambush Drakes, Wild PORC, Wand Experts, Skullcleave Warriors, and Gith Monks (gotta love the auto damage).
Some of my initial warband ideas were 1) Mind Flayer Lich + 2 Large Shadow Dragons + Umber Hulk + Filler; 2) Civilization PORC (ie Hobgoblin Marshal + Thrall + Wand Expert + Skullcleave Warrior, or other); and 3) x2 Cleric of Kord + Bladesinger + Oni + Tiefling Cleric + filler (I love Borderlands). Ultimately picking my warband was pretty simple – I wanted to play my favorite mini once more in the Championship, the Oni! But in which faction? My first pass was Borderlands and my old warband from a few GenCons back that used the Eternal Blade:
Eternal Blade, x3 Oni, x4 Merchant Guards.
A perfect 8 figure 200 point warband. Wow, seemed like it was meant to be. I could not find a really good figure to use the Eternal Training items on, so I would skip them and use the EB’s Champ Powers for defense. The warband had four strong hitters and good area attacks versus Eye of Shadow warbands. After a few play test games, I still felt the warband was not optimal for an anticipated varied and open meta, the potential for “Blindness,” and especially so with the revised figures, rules, and the new magic items.
My next thought was to use a warband from a GenCon a few years back where I won the 200 point warm-up tournament. That warband used the Ogre Mage (another favorite of mine) with x1 Oni, x1 Skullcleave Warrior, x1 Wand Expert, plus x3 Merchant Guards and filler. I really really wanted to use as many Oni’s as possible, so I decided to go with x2 Oni’s with the Ogre Mage. I also liked the synergy between the Ogre Mage and Oni’s where its Champ Power turning allies invisible for the round would give the Oni’s Combat Advantage and additional Sneak Attack damage and be of benefit versus the Eye of Shadow. And if the Ogre Mage hits with his Sleep spell, it’s just “sauce for the goose.”
Next, what else would be a good fit in this warband? What would help the Oni’s? What else has Invisibility or Hide, as this looked to be very important for this year’s Championship? The answer, one of Tian-Zi’s favorite mins the Yuan-Ti Half Blood Sorcerer! Invisibility, good attack bonuses, good defenses, and a Line 10 attack that Dazes with ongoing damage. Perfect. I then had enough points left for 3 Merchant Guards and a 5 point VP grabber. My 5 point choices were between the Blue (5 points), Kobold Monk (5 points), and Goblin Runner (4 points and a 199 pt warband), or using a Loadstone attached to the Ogre Mage to get a 7 point figure (ie Infernal Armor). I tried a bunch of figures, but ultimately I decided to play the Kobold Monk based on its speed and high AC and DEF (better IMO for survivability). In retrospect the Blue or Goblin Runner would have been better choices, but the Kobold Monk just looks cool.
So here is my Championship warband:
Yuan-Ti Half Blood Sorcerer
x3 Merchant Guard
8 Activations, 200 points.
I got in a number of vassal games with a friend and play tested late night with positioning on this year’s Championship maps. I felt good about my warbands speed, versatility, and staying power. Invisibility and Daze would really make the Oni’s that much more dangerous, the Yuan-Ti Half Blood Sorcerer is a beast on her own, and finally the Merchant Guards and Gaseous form would stretch the Oni’s hit points out over a game. And in play testing the warband did well versus the Eye of Shadow. Of course my lack of real face to face DDM play, I figured, would hurt my chances (I had only played a couple of real games since last year’s GenCon), but then again this is GenCon, it’s DDM, and all I need to do is follow Kevizoid’s #1 rule for DDM – Roll Well!
On to the matches
And for all of my opponents, the description of the matches is from my best recollection of the games and the notes I took. If there are some subtle difference from your recollections, feel free to add any notes to the article. Thanks.
Round 1 vs Joe Quiazon
on Broken Demongate, ASSAULT
Moon Elf Fighter
x4 Elf Stalkers
WILD, Good, 9 Activations
First, it was great seeing Joe back at GenCon playing D&D Miniatures. Second, I played Joe and this same warband on Friday in the 200 point warm-up tournament and I knew this would be a tough matchup. The Elf Stalkers are brutal when buffed up from Storm, the Mercenary General, the Moon Elf Fighter, and Combat Advantage: +20 attack for 20 damage with the Deadeye Shot. So potential 40 damage each Elf Stalker with Twin Strike. Ouch. Round 1 Joe and I spent way too much time maneuvering into position in the center of the map. I guess it was mostly rust on both are parts, and myself not wanting to give the Elf Stalkers any easy targets. Round 2 I turned the Yuan-Ti Invisible, moved, and lined Storm, an Elf Stalker, and Mialee trying to hide around a corner. All 3 were hit. I moved up an Invisible Oni to attack the Merc General who had hit the Invisible Yuan-Ti. Then I used the Ogre Mages Sleep and hit Storm, Mialee, and the Elf Stalker. But again Joe and I were a little slow and at start of round 3 45 minutes had passed. Yikes. We received a warning from the judge for slow play. Round 3 I moved the other Oni to a Sacred Circle and Cold Coned Storm, Elf Stalker, and Mialee. The Oni missed Storm for the kill, but took out the other two. Then in this round the Merc General was damaged and also hit by the Yuan-Ti Venom Bolt. The other Oni killed Storm (who had made the save for Helpless and Dazed). The Moon Elf Fighter was completely missed again this round. In the 3rd and 4th rounds I used the Bodyguards and Gaseous Form to minimize the damage from the Elf Stalkers, an Oni hit a flanked Merc General, and with 15 ongoing damage the Merc General would die in round 5. Then in Round 5 I scored 10 VP’s and the General dies. All told 3 Merchant Guards and the Kobold Monk were killed by my opponent. The final score was 132-29 after 5 rounds. Record 1-0.
Round 2 vs Pat Lynch
on Caves of Chaos, BOUNTY
x4 Wand Experts
x2 Goblin Runners
x2 Potion of Blindsight
CIVILIZATION, Neutral, 8 Activations
I was so happy to see Pat back at GenCon the day before, now across the table from me, not so much. Just kidding. Pat is one of the best players in the world, always fun to play against, a very tough opponent to play against, and all in all a great guy. I won initiative and took the forest side (I did not want to have to attack him in those nasty forest corners). Round 1 we both jockeyed for position – I moved my warband along to bottom of the map, making use of the forest, Pat moving some of his forces to lower forest VP area and the rest into the cave with the statue. Round 2 I went after a Wand Expert and the Rogue in the forest while Pat’s other Wand Experts quaffed their Potions of Blindsight to see my “invisible” figures. He then proceeded to pick off my Guards and then start damaging my Oni’s and Yuan-Ti. In rounds 3 and 4 I missed a Wand Expert 3 straight times with an Oni, the Yuan-Ti, and the Ogre Mage. The misses allowed the Wand Expert to deal out a lot of extra damage before I killed it in Round 5. During this time Pat kept his forces out of my Line and Cone ranges. Eventually I killed a 2nd Wand Expert and then charged the Runecarved Eidelon in the 6th round with the Oni and hit. Then in the 8th round I moved up my Yuan-Ti and if I hit with the Venom Bolt I have a chance to kill it with my remaining Oni and possibly pull out a win, but the Yuan-Ti misses. The Eidelon pulls out of attack range and it is game over after 8 rounds. The final score was 109-97. Record 1-1.
Round 3 vs Jeremy Rose
on Dwarven Outpost, HAND of FATE
CIVILIZATION, Good, 9 Activations
A Sellsword Swarm. This would be a challenge, both from the hit points and the caliber of player sitting across from me. I won initiative and set up behind the fort. Round 1 my warband advance into the dwarven fort, whereas Jeremy advances across the open area around the central victory area. He did a great job spacing out the Sellswords so that I could not get more than 1 in my Orge Mage’s Sleep. Round 2 we engage. An Oni and the Yuan-Ti Half Blood Sorcerer go invisible and attack. My opponent retaliates and hits with a crit on my Oni, and likewise hits and makes the conceal 11 roll on the Yuan-Ti. But all the area attacks add up and 2 Sellswords are killed. Then the Ogre Mage sleeps two more Sellswords. Jeremy gets a Merchant Guard from bodyguardeing. Round 3 the Sellswords take out my Oni and I kill two more Sellswords as well as damage the Mercenary General. Also, Jeremy masterfully uses Alusaur’s “healing” powers to keep some of his Sellswords around longer than they should have been. Round 4 Jeremy kills another Merchant Guard and I go after Raistlin while both of us collect VP. Round 5 I kill Raistlin and the Mercenary General will die on activation, but Jeremy concedes after missing with attacks from Alusair. The final score was 158-84 (with the death of the Mercenary General) after 5 rounds. Record 2-1.
Round 4 vs Joel Barnabe (Kezghan)
on Frostfell Rift, HAND of FATE
Duergar Cleric of Asmodeus
x2 Duergar Guard
UNDERDARK, Evil, 5 Activations
Oh boy, I just climbed back into it with a win to get to 2-1, now I have to face Joel and his Dispater warband, and on Frostfell Rift. This is one warband (or a similar version of one) that I practiced against. The key is to get to Dispater as fast as possible. I win initiative and set up on side A. Joel sets up and were off to the races (to get to Dispater before he wears out my warband). I move up the top side of the map using the “L” shaped wall to hide behind while picking up VP. Joel hits my warband with 5 fire and puts down fire squares in addition to hiding his figures well from my Orge Mage. Round 2 I let Joel activate his figures and he kills off x2 Merchant Guards. I run an Oni around the bottom side of the map to hopefully catch Dispater in a flank. I move up the Yuan-Ti and line a Duergar Guard bodyguarding Dispater. Round 3 another Merchant Guard dies. My Ogre Mage has a nice shot on Duergar Cleric, Witchknife, and Duergar Guard, or I can Get Dispater. I go for the 3 figures, and the Duergar Guard bodyguards the Witchknife. I hit both with sleep, but both make their saves next round. Round 3 both my Oni’s and Yuan-Ti miss Dispater. Joel’s Witchknife and Dispater then kill the Yuan-Ti at end of round. Round 4 I manage to kill off both Duergar Guards, but I manage to miss Duergar Cleric and Dispaer again. Kobold Monk and tile grabbing go up in flames. Round’s 5 and 6 my Oni’s and Ogre Mage are basically pinned down by Dispater, Duergar Cleric, and Witchknife and taking a lot of fire damage. Dispater has been damaged, but I have no way to kill him or the undamaged Duergar Cleric. And an Oni dies as time expires. Too many misses, letting the Yuan-Ti get too easily killed, and a well played game by Joel spelled my demise this game. I would now have to win out and hope for good tie-breakers to have any chance at winning the Championship. The final score was 58-128 after 6 rounds. Record 2-2.
Round 5 vs Michael Johnson
on Jungle Temple, BOUNTY
Large Deep Dragon
x2 Ambush Drakes
x3 Kobold Miners
UNDERDARK, Neutral, 7 Activations
Well, not a matchup I wanted to see after facing Joel – two Ambush Drakes. I lose initiative and Michael sets up in the hidden side. Round 1 my opponent hides his Drakes and Large Deep Dragon from any long range attacks. I spread out and bodyguard my Oni’s and Yuan-Ti while grabbing VP and killing a Kobold Miner. Round 2 changes this game. Large Deep Dragon with Blindsight comes after my Yuan-Ti, who returns the favor and dazes the Large Deep Dragon and an Ambush Drake. Michael then sets up the Ambush Drake and Large Deep Dragon where my Ogre Mage can get his Sleep attack off on both – and he hits both rolling 18 for each. The Oni’s then proceed to kill the Large Deep Dragon. Round 3 the Ambush Drake fails it save it is then quickly killed. The other Ambush Drake uses its Ambush Strike on the Yuan-Ti Half Blood Sorcerer and rolls a crit. A quick 51 points, but game is out of reach as I need one more round of VP to hit 202. Michael concedes. The final score was 192-100 after 3 rounds. Record 3-2.
A quick check and Pat is continuing to win while Joel drops a close one. Good for my tie-breakers and chances to make top 4. One more win and I might make it in.
Round 6 vs Brad Shrugg
on Teleport Temple, Assault
x7 Kuo-Toa Whip
Windsoul Genasai Paladin
UNDERDARK, Neutral, 8 Activations
The moving lightning cloud. This was a fantastic idea by Brad. He took the octawhips I ran the day before in the 200 point warm up tournament and dropped a Kuo-Toa Whip for the Windsoul Genasai Paladin and some Loadstones. Simply brilliant versus all the range of sight warbands. Brad wins initiative and sets up in the Statue Room (start area A). I set up and its game on. My initial thought was to try and take out the Paladin, so in Round 1 I move as fast and far as I could while at the same time spreading out so that a line could not hit too many targets. Brad sends 3 Whips around the backside of the room, while moving the cloud and rest of the Whips towards my warband and the stairs. Round 2 we engage in the corridor just below the stairs. He kills my Kobold Monk and some Merchant Guards that are bodyguarding, while I damage some Whips (and miss the Pally). Round 3 my Ogre Mage moves up into position for a shot that can “Sleep” 3 Whips. He hits all 3. I loose another Merchant Guard and use Gaseous Form to minimize damage. In this round I kill 3 Whips, and finally start damaging the Pally. In Round 4 Brads Whips start faltering with some key misses, while I manage to kill another Whip and the Paladin. I kill one more Whip in Round 5 and overall my 4 main figures are in ok shape. Time ends the game with the final score 153-39 after 5 rounds. Record 4-2.
Top 4. Or not?
I have a chance. What did Joel and Pat do? I find out Pat won to go 6-0, while Joel wins his last round game to end at 4-2. But the opponent who beat Joel loses his match (this may hurt his tiebreakers). We now wait for Tried to announce Top 8. Tried announces positions from 8th to 5th and I was not among them! So I’m in the Top 4! The final list is 4th – me (Sirohk), 3rd – Joel Broveleit (demetri0s), 2nd – Mark Liberman (markdragon), 1st – Pat Lynch (6-0, undefeated). So it will be me facing Pat (again) and Joel versus Mark (again).
2011 Top 4
1st – Matthew Noble (Sirohk) (center right), 2nd – Joel Broveleit (demetri0s) (center left), 3rd – Pat Lynch (far left), 4th – Mark Liberman (markdragon) (far right).
Thinking it will be tomorrow, Tried announces we will play the first round of the finals tonight, right now. Wow. We also find out that the final two rounds of the Championship will be played on a new map – the Twined Dwarven Halls map. And, we will be playing the short way from side to side (in the back of my mind I am thinking this is good for me as I can get to Pat’s Wand Experts more quickly). We get a few minutes to look the map over and its initiative roll for set up.
Semifinal vs Pat Lynch
on Twined Dwarven Halls map (short way), Assault
x4 Wand Experts
x2 Goblin Runners
x2 Potion of Blindsight
CIVILIZATION, Neutral, 8 Activations
I win initiative and make Pat set up first. He puts 2 Wand experts and Runecarved Eidelon in 1 room and 2 other Wand Experts on the other side of the map in a room. I set up on side with Runecarved and 2 Wand Experts. I know I have to kill the Eidelon to have a chance at winning.
Round 1. I move what I can to keep things hidden from the Wand Experts. In particular I move the Yuan-Ti and Kobold Monk to hide in the alcove so that the Wand Experts cannot get shots on them. I then make a huge blunder that eventually actually works in my favor – I leave my Ogre Mage exposed to 2 Wand Experts. Pat sees this and jumps on it to kill my Champion, but his two Wand experts are now bunched up together. I move an Oni in for a Cone on the Wand Experts and they both Fey Jump. Pat and I score VP.
Round 2. Pat goes first and moves a Goblin Runner. I then use my Kobold Monk to hold the secret door open for my Yuan-Ti to Venom Bolt line a Wand Expert, the Changing Rogue, and the Eidelon. All 3 are hit, Dazed, and taking 15 ongoing damage, while the Kobold Monk dies. I kill a Wand Expert, loose another Merchant Guard, and the Eidelon fails it’s save. My other Oni runs into the room and hit’s the Eidelon for 30 damage – it will die on activation next round. Pat scores VP in the round.
Round 3. I make the best use of Gaseous Form to minimize damage and Pat’s Wand Experts start missing without the Eidelon boost. I kill a second Wand Expert while loosing my last Merchant Guard. Finally then the Eidelon activates and dies. Pat scores VP. I am ahead on points 134-113 with both Oni’s (at 45 and 50 hit points) and the Yaun-Ti (at 65 hit points) versus Pat and his x2 Wand Experts and Goblin Runner. I can’t run at him, he’d gun me down. So I do the next best thing – I move my Oni’s into the rooms behind the secret doors and hide, while using my Yuan-Ti (and an Oni) to grab VP’s. If he comes at my Oni’s I can kill a Wand Expert fairly easily.
Rounds 4, 5, and 6. I win all 3 initiatives and either move out of VP area or force Pat to go first so that I have the last move into the VP area. He gets a couple of Wand Expert shots and we trade 3 rounds of VP. Games ends at end of round 6. The final score was 168-143 for the win after 6 rounds. Record 5-2.
Another incredible game with Pat. And I still cannot believe I won. I’m playing in the Championship game on Sunday. Crazy!
My opponent in the Championship game I find out is Joel Broveleit (demetri0s), last year’s 2010 D&D Miniatures Constructed Champion. He extracted revenge on Mark and beat him in the semifinal match. It now falls to me to stop Joel and his Eye of Shadow warband from becoming the first repeat Champion.
Final vs Joel Broveleit (demetri0s)
on Twined Dwarven Halls map (long way), Assault
Eye of Shadow
UNDERDARK, Evil, 8 Activations
Looking over Joel’s warband the night before I knew its weakness – low hit points on the Seer, Flayer, and Mangler. I knew if I basically ignored the Eye of Shadow and went after the other 3, then my changes for winning were good. That was the plan, but now how do I put it into action.
We sit down to set up and find out in addition to playing on the new map – the Twinned Dwarven Halls, we will be playing the long way on the map. Sweet. This helps me out as the Shadow Flayer of Eye of Shadow can no longer jump the length of the map with the Seer.
Also, I am very calm at the start of this game. No hands shaking, not nervous. Heck, I did not expect to get this far, so I figured I would play this game and have some fun, win or lose.
Round 1. I win initiative and make Joel set up first. I notice he’s leaves his Mangler within Venom Bolt range of set up from my Yuan-Ti. I decide to go for it and set up to do so. Away we go. We move fodder and I keep my Ogre Mage behind the secret door. I then make my move with the Yaun-Ti (invisible from the Ogre Mage) and hit the Mangler, who later in the round moves and fails it’s save. I set up an Oni to kill the Mangler next round if I get the opportunity. Also in the round Joel kills the Kobold Monk and a Merchant Guard on the Yuan-Ti. He then stuns the Yuan-Ti with the Shadow Flayer at end of round. I score VP.
Round 2. I unstun the Yuan-Ti and turn her Invisible. Joel kills some Merchant Guards who are bobyguarding and then Blinds and Dazes an Oni. I take the move and kill the Mangler with my other Oni. Joel while setting things up leaves his Seer and Shadow Flayer in a position where I can “Sleep” both of them. I hit the Seer and miss the Shadow Flayer. We both VP.
Round 3. Yuan–Ti lines Shadow Flayer and Seer, hitting the Flayer and missing the Seer. That miss hurt. I then use the Ogre mage to auto hit the Seer and do 30 damage. Seer then saves for Sleep. I now have to use my Gaseous Oni to run up and hit a flanked Seer for 30 damage (See is now at 5 HP). And finally I use my other Dazed Oni to Line the Eye of Shadow and the Seer. Hits the Seer for the kill. Phew, some breathing room on points. Joel and I both score VP.
Round 4. I win initiative. I had to think long and hard on this one. Score is at 113-49. Game is far from over, as my Yuan-Ti is at 45 hit points and could be killed by the Eye of Shadow in 1 round of attacks. Plus my Oni’s are damaged (45 and 50 hit points). Ultimately I was worried too much about the Yuan-Ti dying and Joel later told me he would not have attacked it if he went first. I decided to go first and use my Yuan-Ti. I was going to shift but said move, so Joel got an attack of opportunity from the Shadow Flayer, but misses. I had the Yuan-Ti attack the Shadow Flayer and rolled a “20”! Bang, Shadow Flayer is dead. Game changer! This was HUGE as if I had not rolled a crit, the Shadow Flayer gets Shadow Cloak and Mind Blast attack back again. Joel said if this had happened he thought he would be in a great position to win, and I agree. The Ogre Mage then uses Cone of Cold and kills a Blue and the damaged Lolth’s Sting. At this point the score was 165-49. We then both score VP.
Round 5. I win initiative. We both take turns and Joel tries to come up with a way to win, and he actually rolls a “20” from a Blue on my Ogre Mage for the kill. But it is not enough to pull out the victory. The final score is 185-103 for the win after 5 rounds. Record 6-2. I am the new D&D Miniatures Constructed World Champion. Unbelievable.
Some last thoughts
First, all I can say is thank you to the entire DDM community. It is an honor and a privilege to be your 2011 DDM Constructed Champion. Second, never give up in a tournament, you never know when opportunity will cross with being prepared, good things can happen. I kept playing and made it to the top 4, and then used the opportunity to win the World DDM Championship. Finally, winning this year was definitely a combination of skill, luck, being prepared (knowing your warband), getting good matchups, and rolling well.