Tourney recap time! This was both the first Judgement tourney I've played in and the first miniatures tournament I've traveled for, so I figured I'd share my experience.
I decided to head on down to Castle of Games in Springfield, Oregon, for the 5’s tournament Alex Najdek and his crew were putting on. It ended up being a 3-round, 8-person event, played on Scorched Earth maps 2-4.
A quick introduction, or "Who’s this jerk?":
I’ve been playing Judgement for 7 months, with a growing group of folks up around the Seattle, WA area. We’ve played a split of 3’s and 5’s - slightly more 3’s - but we’re starting to tip over into 5’s more regularly. I played Protectorate of Menoth and dabbled in Circle Orboros in Warmahordes casually before getting into Judgement, because the models and rules are sweet, and I don’t have to paint five dozen models to play painted. I don’t consider myself a terribly competitive player, but I enjoy learning and being knowledgeable about my hobbies, which, aside from Judgement, includes craft beer and homebrewing (it’s not a problem, it’s a hobby!).
The warband I ended up deciding to bring was:
Doenrakkar, Zhonyja, Brok, Viktor, Haksa, Gendris, Kruul
After getting thrashed in the Vassal league, I decided to crutch on the heroes I was most familiar with for the tournament: the Don, Zhonyja, Haksa, and Gendris. Brok also got to come along because he doesn’t need a lot of fate, he’s fills the “tankbuster” aggressor slot if Zhonyja gets banned (as she often does), and I had played him a fair amount since my Zhonyja often gets banned. Haksa and Gendris are servicable off-tanks in the event Don gets banned, and bring their own flavors of valuable utility depending on what I’m facing.
I also knew I wanted a soulgazer, but it was a toss-up between Zaron and Kruul for that slot. I like Zaron for the extreme potential range on his soulgazing via his skeletons, and his ability to support my melee heroes with skeleton crowds and Gift of Life. I like Kruul because he doesn’t need any help, and can turn into a serious damage threat once he gets a couple souls on him.
With my warband being: <Doenrakkar / Zhonyja / Brok / Haksa / Gendris / Soulgazer / ? >, I didn’t want to repeat my mistake in the Vassal league and end up too damage-light if one of my aggressors got banned. I settled on Viktor for that 7th slot, because he’s the only ranged aggressor I own, his demons can support my melee heroes (and vice-versa), and he might pull bans away from Zhonyja, because Dorgy is scary.
Since I had settled on Viktor, Kruul won the soulgazer slot, because Zaron was competing for fate too much with Zhonyja, Viktor, and Haksa.
My “ideal” 5 is probably: Doenrakkar, Haksa, Zhonyja, Viktor, Kruul, but it depends on the fate constraints of the map and the enemy’s warband:
- Do they have fire? Do they have an easy way to reach out and threaten Viktor and Kruul? Do they want to use a lot of fate? Gendris can get tagged in to try to control and mitigate those threats, while sapping their fate with Hold Person.
- Do they just want to have a melee scrum, have a bunch of AGI 3, or a lot of RES? Brok can tag in for Viktor or Kruul (or Zhonyja, if she’s banned).
- Did they ban Doenrakkar? That’s fine, I’ll just play both 3” supports and Viktor, and defend via control, healing, crowding, and a taunting Al’garath. It can also be pretty silly to play Haksa, Gendris, Zhonyja, Brok, and Viktor (who summons Dorg) and just go full melee deathball.
- Am I likely to be fate-starved because of the map or their warband being better at the shrine game than mine? Brok rises in priority because of his self-sufficiency and ability to generate fate for me via monster kills. I’ve had games where he did almost nothing but ping-pong between monster spawns, but it kept me happy and fate-satiated.
With the warband construction out of the way, onto the event! There’s no way I can do a play-by-play, and I’m sure I’m forgetting important parts of the games (apologies to my opponents), but I’ll describe the gist of what happened from my perspective and my takeaways from each match.
Game 1, Map 2:
His warband: Doenrakkar, Marcus, Kogan, Rakkir, Zaron | Haksa (banned), Thorgar (dropped).
My warband: Doenrakkar, Zhonyja, Haksa, Brok, Viktor | Kruul (banned), Gendris (dropped).
With no soulgazer and both Doenrakkar and Marcus on the table, I wanted all 3 of my aggressors around. I banned Haksa because I didn’t have fire, and knew I’d struggle to get kills against a Haksa/Don/Marcus trio if he banned Zhonyja or Brok.
I won the roll and chose to go second to get the bottom side of the map – given the Eldir and friendly shrine location on this map, I strongly prioritize picking bottom side on this map, so the top side is forced to overextend to contest those two shrines, while you can use them defensively. Another important trick on this map is using the center monster to contest your opponent’s friendly shrine. If you can swing it, wait to activate the heroes you want to put close to the center, so you can make sure they’re just slightly further away from the center monster than your opponent is, and the monster contests their shrine for you. All bets are off if they’re planning on moving or killing that center monster – your mileage may vary.
This game ended up being a long grind of a game where his Zaron got to pick up souls from his nearby soul pit, while we traded blows but had few kills elsewhere on the map. I had a level 3 Brok (x2 monster kills) out on the right flank when Kogan scored a KD on him with Rakkir nearby, so I took the “safe” approach and effigy recalled to prevent giving up a soul needlessly. However, that effectively took Brok out of the game, and didn’t help me when I chose to teleport Zhonyja behind his effigy to finish off his Doenrakkar, so he picked up the Zhonyja kill, Zaron souls, and I ultimately clocked, giving him the final soul he needed to win.
My takeaway from this game was:
- It’s almost never worth it to isolate an aggressor unless you have a safe escape plan. Zhonyja shouldn’t have gone in to get the kill by herself – either back her up or don’t go in.
- Assuming you don’t have other movement tricks to get them quickly relevant again, sending a MOV 3 hero back to the effigy without them doing anything to your opponent is probably worse than just sending them in and getting them killed after dealing some damage. I had got Brok to level 3 with a Vorpal Blade and Boots of Agility (to try to prevent Kogan and Rakkir’s combat maneuvers from being reliable), but all those resources were wasted when I recalled him.
Game 2, Map 3:
His warband: Saiyin, Thorgar, Zhonyja, Allandir, Istariel | Marcus (banned), Piper (dropped)
My warband: Haksa, Gendris, Zhonyja, Viktor, Kruul | Doenrakkar (banned), Brok (dropped)
I honestly reeled a bit when I first saw his warband.. I had no idea how I was going to deal with all the output coming from the quad-aggressor warband, so I figured I’d try to make the game as quick as I could and just banned Marcus. He banned Doenrakkar, and I dropped Brok because his AGI 3 felt like a major liability against this warband.
It turns out, that was the way to go. I favored putting my warband on the right-hand side to get a little cover against Allandir and to consolidate my force (staying outside of 2” of each other!), with Kruul hovering behind the center wall within 4” of my soul pit. Gendris took center-shrine duty. Haksa charged the right-side monster into Zhonyja’s threat range and sat on the right shrine, Zhonyja killed the monster and picked up Boots of Agility, and Viktor just walked up behind everyone in the cloud to set up for shots into his melee aggressors next turn.
Zhonyja got missile’d into his aggressors to take them low and then die (hopefully without getting a kill and to allow one of my other heroes to pick up the soul). Gendris and Haksa followed up to stall and jam up Saiyin, Thorgar, and Zhonyja while giving Allandir unappealing targets, while Viktor peppered his melee aggressors with Necrotic Blasts and I think ultimately ended up killing one of them. I might’ve summoned a Dorg at some point? Kruul and Saiyin picked up the souls that spawned on our respective sides.
After a forest got dropped in front of him, Allandir went on a spec ops mission through the teleporter to assassinate Kruul, while Istariel pressured Kruul from the top. However, Istariel’s path to threaten Kruul took her closer to Inferno than any other hero, so she ended up taking two Inferno shots over two turns and ultimately dying (to Viktor, I think) without doing too much.
After getting killed, the respawned Zhonyja ended up taking vengeance on Allandir after he killed Kruul, which got me to 4 souls. The next turn, I spent an extra activation jamming Haksa into Thorgar and Saiyin before realizing that my respawned Kruul was within 4” of the newly spawned soul on my side, so Kruul was able to get the final soulgaze for the win.
Honestly, this game was a bit of a blur because I was sweating bullets from all of his damage potential. Having Istariel softened up by the Inferno shots was a big deal in limiting her threat and letting me pick up her soul for relatively little investment.
My game 2 takeaways were:
- Thanks to Kruul, Viktor, and Zhonyja, I had a fair amount of soul-collecting pressure of my own, and his warband died faster than mine.
- Taking chip damage from monsters can end up being fatal.
- Again, sending in a solo aggressor through the teleporters if it’s not to immediately win the game is a high risk move that may very well backfire.
- Games without defenders are fun!
Game 3, Map 4:
His warband: Marcus, Thorgar, Fazeal, Rakkir, Zaron | Zaffen (banned), Kvarto (dropped)
My warband: Kruul, Haksa, Brok, Viktor, Gendris | Zhonyja (banned), Doenrakkar (dropped)
After the Round 2 nailbiter, I was relieved to see only one ranged aggressor in his warband and promptly banned it. I was also pretty happy to see two AGI 3 melee aggressors, which meant Brok would have good targets if Zhonyja got banned out (she did).I dropped Doenrakkar because he had a decent warband to blow him up, and I figured having more damage, control, and soulgazing potential would be more helpful for this match.
This was a much more traditional game, with each of us pushing forward and into the center from our effigy sides - as such, effigy kills weren’t much of an option this game since we had clustered around them. I think the biggest tipping point in the game was when his damaged Zaron recalled back to his effigy to bank his souls, but took a solid from a Haksa parting blow, arrived engaged with Ashtooth at the effigy, and had Ashtooth crit to drop him to 0 HP, suicidally exploding and giving my Gendris - who was engaged with Thorgar, Rakkir, and Fazeal next to his effigy - level 2 and his soul.
After that, the game ground on mostly around the central shrine, with Fazeal and Thorgar pushing into the center to support Marcus (who had been getting Cursed by a feisty Kruul), but Brok eventually came back from his table-edge monster hunting duties to kill Marcus and eventually Fazeal, while Kruul, back from dying to Fazeal, walked over and soul-gazed the final soul to finish out the game.
Game 3 takeaways:
- I didn’t feel bad about semi-throwing away a hero (RIP Gendris) since she didn’t have a soul on her (at least, until Zaron suicided) and was able to occupy multiple enemy heroes’ activations while I focused on getting board control and souls elsewhere.
- I need to get better at making sure Hold Person doesn’t just mean Gendris gets pushed into the Held hero for butchering. Marcus was more than happy to serve Fazeal some beef.
- It’s nice to be able to be aggressive with Kruul, having him contribute melee crowds, chip damage, do some cursing, and not worry too much about the 1 soul he’s sitting on.
- Again, monster management was a big factor in this game, with the random’d Ashtooth causing him a lot of headache as it closed in on his effigy.
My first round opponent ended up winning the event, so I felt pretty darn good about my 2-1 record. I had gone down there with the goal to win one game and have a good time, so mission accomplished.
Overall tournament takeaways:
#1: it was a fantastic event, with great opponents, and if you haven’t had a chance to eat at Plank Town Brewing in Springfield, OR, you’re missing out. I literally went there 3 times that day. Get a burger, thank me later.
#2: I was happy with how my warband performed. I was worried going into it that I’d be vulnerable to my typical boogymen (Allandir or ranged aggressors in general), RES skews, or high-displacement warbands. It handled the Istariel/Allandir combo admirably, and though I got jammed out of Game 1 by Doen and Marcus, that was partially my fault for playing so conservatively with Brok and essentially playing down an aggressor. I didn’t end up facing off against Sharn, Styx, and/or Kvarto, so I didn’t get to see how well it’d do there.
I’ll probably swap out Brok for Fazeal once he's available, since I like the extended threat range and utility that Fazeal offers with his combat maneuvers and Consume Soul. He’s not quite as good a monster killer as Brok, but he also doesn’t lean as hard on getting an item as Brok does, which gives me more flexibility. One concern is that both Zhonya and Fazeal really like having Boots of Agility, but I can look towards another defensive item for one of them if it makes sense (Glyph of Warding, Astral Stasis Potion, Ring of Teleportation, etc.).
Saiyin also might come in for Kruul, thanks to her healing, fire resistance, and ability to Augury Zhonyja's Death Toll, but that also means I lose a potential crowd and curse, so I'll probably experiment with that one a bit.
Well, that was a larger wall of text than I was expecting to write, but hopefully it was some degree of enjoyable, insightful, or a combination of the two for you. Thanks again to all my opponents for 3 great games, and for Alex for running the event!