torsdag 3. januar 2013

Final preparations before Norwegian Masters

My two lists are finalized. I've had numerous practice games working out the Hoarluk2 and Grim lists now, and I'm reasonably happy with how they're performing. So far I'm 9-2 with Grim, and 8-3 with Hoarluk2, which I think is acceptable. Now, all that remains is to make sure that I know my lists inside and out before the tournament, and to try to stop making dumb mistakes. So, here's my strategy for improving my game before the tournament.

Play bad matchups

Look how happy Gard is now...
before he got one-shotted by Grim :D
The normal thing to do when playing a list in a friendly game is to take the most balanced matchup. unfortunately, I think this is a really bad habit to get into. When I get into a tournament there will be many cases where my A list is bad against his B list, and vice versa. And that means that I might get a less than ideal matchup. So, I think it's important to play those bad matchups, to try to see how I can pull a win out of the hat even if I should really be screwed.

For example, my Grim list cannot really deal directly with Colossals and Gargantuans. I had a practice game playing against the Judicator on Restoration, I just ran everything upfield, sacrificed my Earthborn to kill the Objective, and managed to jam the colossal outside the one single midfield scoring zone. So, I lost my army, but won on the scenario. 

Also, this might reveal matchups where I'm just screwed. For example, Thunderhead + movement shenanigans just kills my Grim list dead, and I don't think I can do much about it. This is important to know for the tournament matchup... I don't want to pick a list that just cannot win against one of the opposing lists.

Also, there are some opponents I always have problems with (yes, I'm looking at you, Jonas Brand). So I need to play them more, even if it means getting my ass kicked a lot...

Read the opponent's cards

My threat is 14", your threat is 13", and I'm 13.5" away from you.

I find it hard to remember everything, but at the very least I try to memorize or take a note of:

  • The Feat.
  • Anything that messes with threat ranges, moves my pieces, allows models to pass through each other, and so on.
  • The longest theoretical threat of the enemy pieces.
  • Any very dangerous spells or abilities.
  • Any special immunities.
  • Any especially hard hitting or accurate models, that I need to keep away from my heavily armored or high defense models.
  • And vice versa, any especially hard to kill models, that I need specific models to remove.

Note down tactical errors

I use the cards for this. Every time I do some silly mistake, I write a note across the relevant card to remind me after the game. These are some of the mistakes I've done way too many times:

- After moving the Earthborn, leaving him facing in a direction that will face away from Grim after he has moved. It's an easy mistake to make, since the Earthborn uses his Transmutation on Grim to give him +2" movement, and then moves before Grim. The result of doing this correctly is that the Earthborn can move more freely the next turn.

- Moving so that I can't cover Earthborn, Grim and Janyssa with the wall.

- Not checking what AOEs the opponent can throw at me, and therefore placing the units too close to each other.

- Not leaving openings for Grim and Janyssa to move through the infantry, and not leaving an open charge lane for Hoarluk if I need some extra range for forcing.

- Forgetting to shed Whelps.

- Forgetting abilities I use rarely, like Hoarluk's regeneration.

Discuss the game afterwards

Run, Fennblades, run, tarpit that Judicator out of the zone,
or I'll be roflstomped.
I find that having a chat with my opponent after the game, trying to figure out what could have been done differently, almost always reveals some ways in which I could have played better. Often, I have made mistakes I haven't even spotted, and having my opponent pointing them out reveals things I might never have figured out on my own.

Reread the cards

Most units have some abilities that are only used rarely. It's a very good idea to reread the cards before playing the first match of the day, and make a note about the abilities that haven't been used in a long time.

Mark important states with tokens

For example, if a Warbeast has it's Spirit shot out, I out down a token marked 'Spirit'. If a Fennblade dies, I put down a token marked 'Vengeance'. If Mulg is hurt, I put down a token marked with 'Mulg +2"'. And I always have a "Feat" token. This takes out any possibility of a misunderstanding, and makes it much easier to remember to use those abilities.

Don't get greedy

If I have the edge, it's better to play carefully, hold back a bit and grind down the opponent before delivering the coup de grace. If I'm ahead, I don't have to deal the maximum damage each turn, it's enough to just keep the snowball rolling. I just have to make sure I don't get assassinated or accidentally fail the scenario.

Play the tournament format

Use the same time limits, same scenarios, and so on. Nothing is more annoying than failing to score objectives because I have misread the scenario.

Play play play

And play some more. I should know every stat of every model in my army, and every ability. I want to get used to how all the models need to be placed so as to not block each other, and thereby prevent order of activation problems. I need to know all the threat ranges, with and without the different buffs. I don't want to ever have to look at the scenario booklet. And I want to know all the most played opponent casters and models.

All in all, I want to know my army so well that when I play in the tournament, the only thing I need to think about is strategy and tactics, the rest should be muscle memory.

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