Limited Championships 2010/2011 report
NeonCon in Las Vegas saw the DDM Guild crown a new limited Champion, Joel Barnabe of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Joel, known on most boards as Kezghan, won in the finals against Joel Broveleit, the reigning constructed champion. Both Joels are pictured here, with Joel Barnabe holding his amazing Beholder Set provided by Wizards of the Coast, and Astral Giant repaint by Peter Lee, lead minis designer for Wizards of the Coast.
Joel is a talented player that I’ve known several years, going back to the days when I still competed in Qualifiers and Championship tournaments. He’s the first Canadian to win the limited championships, and his win More than that, he’s all around friendly, and will be the first to volunteer to help folks improve their game. With that in mind, I’ll let Joel tell his own story….
Kezghan’s Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Limited Championships Experience.
Well it was pretty amazing all told. I was looking forward to Neoncon since Gencon ended but wasn’t sure I would be able to go until a few days into October. Turns out it was a great idea making it, to which I have to thank my special lady Chelsea Wallace for making my journey a reality.
The format the DDMGuild Organized Play came up with for this Limited Championships was really special. 200 and 500 point builds alternating each round was ridiculously fun in concept and even more so in actuality. So with that in mind I was so eager to rip open the 3 boosters presented to me by the head of Organized Play D.Garry Stupack (Who ran Neoncon sublimely I must add). The excitement at the tables as each player had their boosters in front of them was palpable, the Limited Format really excels for so many reasons and this is one of them.
Given a planned 25, and (but actually just over 30 mins) to open boosters and construct 2 warbands was a challenge in its own. I remember feeling somewhat dejected when I first laid eyes on my pulls. These figures would build into okay warbands but not the kind of warbands I like to build. So my warbands looked like this:
200: Iron Golem Juggernaut, Astral Giant, Rot Grub Swarm, Human Town Guard (thx OJ!), Kobold Slinger w/ Glue Globe and a Skeleton. 198pnts 6acts Map: Hellspike.
500: Heroslayer Hydra, Iron Golem Juggernaut, Astral Giant, Swordwing, Rot Grub Swarm, Human Town Guard, and a Skeleton. 499pnts 7acts Map: Evermelt.
Now both of those bands look like point denial type of builds, both centered on huge figures that are tough to take down but perhaps lack the damage output to seriously take out their own costs worth of miniatures. Miniatures I left out of my builds were the Feymire Crocodile, Water Archon Shoal Reaver, Dwarf Beguiler, Zhent Champion and a few others which escape me at the moment. I really did want to play the Water Archon Shoal Reaver but it just couldn’t make it into either build. I don’t think we saw any Elder Blue Dragons, or either Devil Lords pulled from the 48 boosters used from the event.
Well, on to the matches…
Round 1: 200pnt vs. David Gish.
David recognized me from D&D XP 2008 Limited Championships (the very last big 1.0 event ever). He completely destroyed me in the first round of that event. History seemed like it wanted to repeat itself. David had a killer 200pnt band that starred the Neogi Great Old Master, Oni Night Haunter, Deva Fanatic and some capable fodder. His map was Hellspike as well. I set up first and took the top left side of the map for all my units. Things in this match seemed like they would be going okay as my Rot Grub managed to land its attack on the Neogi at the beginning of the second round, David’s band though came well equipped with burst tech, burst tech that only targeted enemies!!
Through some pretty crafty play David managed to get rid of the swarm and protect his Oni after my Astral Giant failed to do anything for a few rounds before it died. A huge moment in this match was when I had his Oni at 5hp and his Neogi at 35hp and both in range of my Golem, going for the cleave move I conjured up everyone’s favorite critical miss. The Natural 1, the match quickly went downhill from there as David utilized a very wise run and scatter strategy. All I ever killed in this match was near the end I managed to finally get that damn Oni!! Well played David, well played. Loss: 0-1.
I’m going to interrupt this article with some commentary – I believe that Joel is the first ever champion to start with a losing record.
Round 2: 500pnt vs. Don Lyon.
Well getting beat down so quickly in a tournament you really want to win can be quite offsetting, I really wanted to get back on track in Round 2 instead of letting the wheels fall off completely (like my last Limited Champs in 2008, I was a proud member of Team 0-2 drop). It was time to take the Hydra out for a walk. Don was running a lot of acts and one of those nasty, nasty Trebuchets. Other miniatures were a Rime Hound, Roc, Rot Harbinger , Astral Giant, C’tallun, and some decent fodder, I am sure he ran 9 acts on Frost Fell Rift. Oh joy I lost map.
I rushed my Hydra across the map towards the Trebuchet while the Iron Golem and the rest of my band took on the brunt of his band near the center of the map. His Trebuchet missed my Golem first shot, second shot the Human Town Guard absorbed, and the third did kill him. Though he got off 2 Toxic Bursts with most of Don’s warband surrounding. I collected vp every round and killed his Rime Hound when he dispatched my Iron Golem, we both had hot and cold dice in this match. In the end I won on victory points. Trebuchets are really annoying! Good game Don, look forward to seeing you at future events with your son Mark. Win: 1-1.
Round 3: 200pnt vs. Edward Kim.
Finally someone I was familiar with, none other than the current Limited Champion (something about a Graz’zt?) from D&D XP early 2010. I’ve been seeing and playing Edward for several years now, great person, and a lot of fun to hang out with. I was looking forward to this match no matter what the possible outcome. Edward was fielding some nice figures most notably Manshoon, also in the his warband was the Neogi Slaver, Astral Giant, Rot Grub Swarm, Human Town Guard, and a Kobold Slinger w/ Glue Globe. His map choice was Temple of the Unseeing.
He won map, so I split my forces up to avoid the inevitable auto radius 2 from Manshoon, luckily I also had a couple of unliving miniatures in my warband. I was fortunate enough to win first around initiative (key initiative wins would be crucial later on as well), so I moved my Human Town Guard out of the top right start area and killed his Kobold Slinger with a ranged attack. He blasted by only my Astral Giant, instead of going for my Rot Grub Swarm and Kobold Slinger in the bottom right start area, I think this was his only real mistake in the battle. Eventually I got my Iron Golem to the middle of the map and he proved (as he often did) to be indestructible. His Manshoon was plagued by my Rot Scarab swarm where I labored fiercely to take out his, those things are fantastic vs. Titans. Sturdy game Champ, get up here for some DDM soon! Win: 2-1.
Round 4: 500pnt vs. Josh Zerfas.
Another face I knew, – we shared a room at Neoncon! (thanks South Dakota for taking care of me) I had faced Josh in the 2009 DDM Constructed Championships and while winning that match it was one of the worst series of failed saving throw’s I had ever had. We are talking 13 failed saves in a row, Witch Knives I have not missed you. Josh’s band included a Fettered Dracolich, Epic Tri-horn Behemoth, 2 Will-o’-wisps, Efreet Fireblade and a million other activations. Okay more like 9, I did manage to win map in this match which was rather large as the Hydra is very hard to ignore on a single VA map. This match came down to Josh’s inability to hit my Golem or Hydra and those same 2 figures pinned his Behemoth in and just beat it down. This match made me realize just how hard AC 38 is to hit. Good game Josh, better luck next time man. Win: 3-1.
Final Round of Swiss, Round 5: 200pnt vs. Sven Myrin.
Well at this juncture I had figured if I could win the last match I would most likely top 4(which was the cut). Okay all I had to do was beat one of DDM’s Legendary Players of Old (aka 1.0 days in which Sven was a well known top notch player from the Champion Laden SoCal DDM Crew). Sven’s band consisted of a Young Volcanic Dragon, Efreet Fireblade, Kenku Wing Mage, Shardmind Dominator, Stormclaw Scorpion, Zhent Champion and Skeleton on Fane of Lolth. Well this match can really be summed up by thinking, what the heck can his warband do to a Resist Fire 15 Iron Golem Juggernaut? Not much as it played out, though this was close until Sven had a sequence of attacks (burst vs. swarm from Efreet and YVD burst vs. Rot and Astral) vs. my Rot Grub and Astral Giant go so abysmally for him (he missed everything). That pretty much sealed it. I got up on VP and parked the Golem in a VA. He conceded there. Still a great player Sven, I hope we get to see you at more events next year! Get that SoCal Scene going strong again. Win: 4-1.
Whew… made it! I really wanted to at least make the cut and get to keep playing. The top 4 rounded out in order: David Gish 4-1, Joel Barnabe 4-1, Kevin Cleveland 4-1 and Current Constructed DDM Champion Joel Broveleit 4-1. Just missing the cut were Sven Myrin and 2010 Limited DDM Champion Edward Kim. Congratulations to all who came out to play in this most excellent of tournaments.
Semi-Finals: 500pnt vs. Kevin Cleveland.
You all know the name; this kid (not so much a kid anymore!) has been sniffing around hard for a DDM Championship for years, finalist in 2008 for the Limited Crown in fact. Having played Kevin numerous times now, I can say without any uncertainty that he is the best player to not have won a Championship, yet. The guy has more top 8 finishes than anyone, that’s pro.
The playoff rounds were played on the new map (Pit of Doom) which made Huges seem well, kind of confined…
Kevin had a Rime Hound, Epic Tri-horn, and Trebuchet, as well as Efreet Fireblade and some other smaller figs. I won map and set up on the right side (the side with Red and Purple circles closest). It was a far better side for Huge bases of which I had 2. This map was a boon to my 2 Huges, extra +2 to all Defenses if you were in a circle that did not match your faction’s colour, or +2 to all attacks if you were in a circle that matched your colour (sorry Civ no bonus to attack for you). This game was very, very close and only was so because Kevin went on a spree much like Sven did early of not being able to hit when necessary (perhaps it’s a SoCal thing). When my Iron Golem did finally die I was able to kill his Rime Hound to keep it close, he also had a Trapped Chest getting super important VP for some time.
Killing it and the Hound put me over the top eventually, the game ended with the Tri-horn trying to push or pin the Hydra but the Hydra’s defenses held out in the end. Close match, one I felt lucky to win. Better luck next year Kevin, I can’t imagine it could take much longer (just skip the semi rounds, heh). Win: On to the finals!
Finals: 200pnt vs. Joel Broveleit aka 2010’s Reigning Constructed DDM Champion.
Well I knew to win I would eventually have to face OJ (Other Joel), we have been close since pre Gencon 2009. Practicing together on Vassal, tearing apart stats, and just generally loving this game we call Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Skirmish together. He was on a quest to become the first ever Champion in both of the major formats, Constructed and Limited. I never really wanted to stop him per se but such is the way of it sometimes. Joel, you’re an amazing player and even a better person, you help keep this great game that we all love going. I raise my glass to you, my friend.
Okay sure some match details, OJ’s band was a Spell Weaver (Nasty piece of business this thing is!), the ubiquitous Efreet Fireblade, Kenku Warrior (these have potential!) and Zhent Soldier. 4 acts, really? Wow. Seeing I would have activation control I was pleased but one on one I figured with a pit in the center of the map and the awesome abilities of the Spell Weaver my Iron Golem was going to be at a disadvantage. I felt OJ had the advantage going in.
A few things went my way to make this game a wash, it clocked in at 40 minutes, winning initiative for me on Rounds 4 -6 was huge as I was able to keep my Golem ( Iron Cleave makes this guy a winner) on top of his band, my Rot Grub Swarm actually landed ongoing 15 on the Weaver. I also kept pressure on OJ to take his actions, 4 acts shouldn’t take too long and I kept reminding him of the fact, nicely of course.
In the end I was able to maneuver my Iron Golem to charge while squeezed vs. his 45hp Spell Weaver who had 15 ongoing damage, I needed an 8 to hit. After thinking about it for a few seconds I knew I had to go for it. I had luckily against the odds won initiative yet again in Round 6 and I took my chance, rolling a 13 to seal the game.
Shockingly an easy victory due to the way it just came together, the map aided my warband more than his though the pit was very useful for the Weaver and my Rot Grub was able to keep himself under the Weaver for most of the match.
To the winner go the spoils, and in this Wizards stepped up to support the DDM Guild. In addition to painted trophies by Peter Lee of WotC and D. Garry Stupack of the DDM Guild, Wizards supplied Lords of Madness product to the top 4, and the unreleased Beholder Colector’s Set (These things are awesome, btw: Beholder Eye of Frost 1/4, Translucent and repainted version of Eye of Flame, an Eye of Shadow 2/4, originally i thought this was a purple painted original beholder, its not its translucent purple! ABeholder Eye Tyrant 3/4, exact same as the Beholder Eye Tyrant 5/40 with a much better base, and finally Ghost Beholder 4/4,Blue translucent recast of Beholder Lich.)
Then, from among the trophies
I chose Peter’s repaint…shown here in all its glory…
...and received a case of Lords of Madness and the Beholder set (the other case went to OJ, along with the Oni. Second and Third scored half a case of Lords of Madness Each, with David Gish taking the Wild Elf Warsinger and Kevin Cleveland taking the Half-Orc Monk).
What more can I say then thank you to OJ for meeting me in the last game instead of the second to last game (re: 2010 Gencon) I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Special thanks to the DDM Guild, in particular D.Garry Stupack (and his wife Jackie) for his organization of our organized play (and he kicked my butt in the community draft and the auction draft, this guy knows how to play!)
If you’re only going to make it to one Con a year, seriously folks NEONCON was a remarkable event, I can’t wait to go back next year! See you all in 2011.