I played may Vassal league game against Chunky last night, and it provided an excellent opportunity to reflect on the absolute finer points of competitive Judgement play. This game had one of the most horrific runs of poor dice I have seen in 25 odd years of gaming. Despite that, I still should have won had I not made 1 or 2 minor errors at the death.

For context, here are the Warbands.

Chunky: Allandir, Sharn, Styx, Thorgar, Viktor (Kvarto banned, Thrommel dropped)

Guns: Haksa, Marcus, Jaegar, Kogan, Rakkir (Sharn banned, Brok dropped)

I have been on an inspired run since the playoffs of the last Vassal league, compiling a 14-1 win/loss record on Scorched Earth, both on the table and on Vassal. I wrote the game and live and breath Judgement. It makes sense that I would be a decent player. However, lately, the game is absolutely crystal clear to me, and I have been methodically dismantling opponents with a variety of Warbands.

Last night's game began much the same. I was 2 Souls to nil up after turn 2 and had board control. Chunky was forced to cut Sharn for six health to get a Fate at the start of turn 3, and I had opportunities in this turn to close out the game. The only things of concern was an Ashtooth that was bearing down on my right flank, and Vujasha randomly spawned on my left. The latter would end up costing me the game. However, there was a lot of stuff to happen before that.

My Rakkir was deep into his backline, leaving both Thorgar and Allandir on two before Shadow Stepping back to my Effigy. At this point, the game started to heat up. Jaegar, who had soul gazed a Soul on turn two stepped up and killed both Thorgar and Allandir in the one activation which put me up four to nil however it also meant Vujasha raced 6 inches across the board, rolling 5+ twice in a row, to engage and hit Jaegar. Still in great shape at this point.

Chunky, realising the game was about to end, soul gazed a Soul with Styx to improve his play-offs tie-breaker chances which activated Vujasha again. However, I was still in good shape with Jaegar on 6-7 health and Kogan in charge range of his Effigy. At this point, I started to make minor mistakes that have been bouncing around my head for the last 16 hours. These mistakes often do not matter, and we could play the conclusion of this game 100 times, and in 90+ of those games they would not matter, however, yesterday they cost me the game. My excuse is that I had a greater than 90% chance to win with the Kogan charge so thought it all irrelevant.

My concern with Kogan was that he was engaged by Sharn, and I did not want to give her a parting blow. I realise the chance of triple J was very small on five dice, however, with the damage Vujasha had done to Jaegar, who was carrying 3 Souls, I did not want to have that triple J lose me the game, and it would have. So I decided to cast Battle Cry and have Kogan charge the Effigy while still engaged by Sharn and Al'garath. The crowding out meant I was four dice on the charge. However, I could re-roll two dice, and I had my final action if I needed it.

The charge attack roll was weak; however, with the two re-rolls, I was able to do two damage to the Effigy, leaving it on two health. With two move symbols, I was able to push myself out of combat of Sharn and Al'garath meaning I had four dice on my last action as well, once again needing a solid hit to win the game, and once again had the ability to re-roll two dice. At this precise moment, I made a massive error, however with the odds still stacked in my favour to close out the game I did not think straight and just attacked the Effigy again with my Chainsaw. I should have switched to my Blunderbuss. It meant I would drop down to 3 dice, however, I only needed a single hit to win the game and with the two re-rolls that was ~97% chance to win. The odds of the melee weapon were still very high however not quite as high. Sure enough, rolled the four dice to get a single hit. Re-rolled two of them and they both missed, leaving the Effigy on 1.

Chunky had finished all his activations since I killed two of his heroes this turn, so I still had one final activation to try to win the game. Haksa could move twice and get a single magic attack on the Effigy with a 50% chance to win me the game still. The only problem was Ashtooth engaged him. I had no choice but to go for it at this point, and with five dice on the parting blow (Haksa suffered the poison condition from an earlier Ashtooth attack) Ashtooth managed to roll triple J knocking Haksa down.

It was just an incredible sequence if poor dice that lost me this game — just nuts.

Start of next turn, Vujasha activates and attacks Jaegar, carrying three Souls, and leaves him on two health. Ashtooth activates and attacks Haksa, who had one Soul, and leaves him on two health. Chunky activates Viktor who kills both of them swinging the game from 4-1 to me to 3-0 to him. From there he proceeded to close out the game for a 5-0 win.

The lesson here was not that Vassal dice suck. It was that I should have switched to the Blunderbuss for Kogan's second attack and all but guaranteed the win. If this were a final at a big tournament, it would have haunted me for some time. Thankfully it was a single round game in the Vassal league however it still stung. 🙂
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insightful read. even with the mistakes, it sounds like switching to your gun with Kogan was Defo the way to go
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Tofubones wrote:
Thanks for sharing, my take away, is how Judgement really can turn on a die roll not going the way you anticipate.  Current board position and future board position awareness is critical.

That is 100% true. I took my eye off the ball in this regard assuming that I was going to easily win with the Kogan activation. It was bad play and it cost me.
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I had a similar thing happen at Adepticon  I was playing Spencer and running low on clock with the effigy at 4.  I Charged Thorgar in on a freshly low Zhonyja instead of the effigy figuring oh hey just need to get one more soul instead of charging the effigy.  I ended up losing since I was starting to run out of clock and gave up the soul he needed to win.  It was one of the most back and forth and enjoyable games I have ever had of judgement but that one misstep really really stuck with me for the rest of the day.  Though since that has occurred it has kicked me into thinking about ways to get on effigies a bit more to do that final damage instead of always trying to get  it just through souls.
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Judgement - The 54mm scale, MOBA inspired, table-top miniatures game