Hey folks! Warning, this is a long one…
We just got back from Charlotte (well technically Matthews) yesterday for the first “Carolina Regional”. This was a 16 man even lead by Local Pundit Matt Williams, who by the way, is a true gentleman. If you are ever in Charlotte area I would highly recommend taking a trip over to “Your Local Game Store” (actual name) and hanging out with Matt.
The drive to Charlotte is not so bad so Raleigh took 5 players. There were a good number from Greenville, SC which is fairly close by. Oddly there was only one individual who played at that exact store, but there were a few from the other side of Charlotte and even a true champion who drove all the way from Myrtle Beach! This was certainly not the first tournament in the (edit) Carolinas, but I think it is fair to say it was the first truly cross-meta event (edit) for our region!
A couple notes before I get into my matches: The event was being run on the 45:1 minute clock. None of is in Raleigh have had any clock experience yet so this was certainly Baptism by fire in our case. Also this was a “same 6 all day” event with no side board so teams had to be planned carefully. I decided to go with my tried and true “3 goal fish”. No one else does this in my local meta, so I was hoping it would catch others off-guard as well. The line-up was Shark, Salt, Jac, Sakana, Greyscales, and Angel.
In round one I played Clayton’s Butchers from Myrtle Beach. Clayton brought Ox, Princess, Shank, Boar, Gutter, and TENDERSIZER. I’m thinking “wow, the goal hate already?”. I kicked off on this one and was able to score 2 extremely quick goals BAM BAM, but as tends to be the case, the third goal tends to be the most difficult. Jac was able to keep boar and ox in check most of the match, before eventually dying. After the 2nd goal Clayton did a good job spreading the ball around. However, I was able to chase it with my superior speed. We had a moment near the end of the game where Greyscales was up for the final shot of the game, with tenderizer next to the goal. I had clocked myself at this point so I stopped fussing with the exact placement. We called tenderizer intervening which dropped Greyscales to 2 dice on a 5+ so I decided to bonus time. I rolled 4/3/3 :*-( Tenderizer blocked the shot. Later in the day Clayton let me know this was the first time that had ever happened for him. Thankfully Angel was able to pick up the slack a moment later and score the game winner after plinking around boar. Fish win 12-5. He has 2VPs off a Jac takeout and 3VPs off me clocking myself. I felt incredibly stressed out after this first match and took my first step towards learning time management skills.
In round two I was up against Butchers again (ugh) but this time I was against Mike from Greenville (who went on to win the tourney). Thankfully he at least had a very different lineup. He lead Fillet, Princess, Brisket, Boiler, Shank, then Avarisse/Greed. This felt like a very intimidating list because I’ve toyed with a very similar one and I know he can match my speed. After kicking off again (ugh) I decided the only way I can win this game is to somehow minimize Fillet’s impact as much as possible. The main things I remember about this match is taking the initiative to charge Fillet with the Shark immediate goal strategy. Shark was able to get the ball off Fillet, Net her, and shoot on goal. The net seemed wasteful to me, but it was done to limit fillet’s options. without the net she could have charged into Jac/Sakana in the center of the pitch. I decided to allow her to charge shark because I was confident a) shark would not die and b) he’d counterattack and get out of her melee. Turns out I was right. I took the first attack on the chin and bounced out of 1″ and ate a follow up pain circle. Shark was about half dead, and took even more after condition damage. Shark was able to get behind the goal and hung out there for a majority of the rest of the game, cowering in fear of Fillet. The middle of the game is a bit of a blur, but I do remember a questionable play where he passed the ball to boiler, who proceeded to get charged by Greyscales who Momentous Ball’s Gone’d to Jac. Jac scored what was maybe the first time in his career with me. Mike scored a goal in there somewhere and shank banked some momentum off salt, but was careful not to kill him because then we’d have been tied on momentum because of loved creature. Turns out this was great foresight on his part because the end result of the game was all reliant on the initiative roll for turn 4. Shark was coming back on the board in range to score. Greyscales was also in range to score with angel in the center of the pitch also ready to pounce. We both rolled a 4, which meant he won since he was one up on me. Fillet proceeds to murder Shark (a second time) then kick the ball into space. I get one activation, but all I can do is use Greyscale to prey for a long pass to Angel. He actually makes it but then shank finishes off Salt for the win. He had 3 takeouts, 1 goal, and 2VPS off my Clock to my 2 goals. This was easily my most enjoyable game of the day. I think I played my best in this match barbecue I had got over my clock jitters, but fatigue hadn’t set in either. Also, it never hurts one’s confidence to lose to the eventual victor due to an initiative roll. Mike was a super nice guy also. All the folks from Greenville were Grade A personality and skill wise.
Round three was against Gavin’s Greenville Hunters! Another thing I have literally zero experience again. He brings the box set since those are the only legal models for now. My initial impression is I need to play this match like I play engineers. Strike hard and fast, dont worry about a couple of deaths along the way. You can come back on board from takeout for another bombing run on the goal. I don’t really recall all that much from this match sadly. I do know Gavin gave me a MFing Clinic on Jaecar. Pretty sure that dude dropped at least two characters. And the pit is probably one of the most powerful things the team can do. Oddly, slowing me down, did not feel very effective. The various snare here or there did help him to generate buckets of momentum, but I was still able to move when and where I needed to be. I did get Snared and Gutted by Jaecar on Grescales once moving him down to a 0″/1″ MOV but it was really the gut and string which did more than the snare. Now that I am typing this I do remember surprising him with a long-bomb goal from angel. The match ended when I had Theron Triangulated at the end of a turn. Any of 3 characters were going to tackle him and shoot. Gavin rolled a 1 on his initiative roll and I believe Greyscales took the chip-shot. Three goals for fish. I believe he ended up with 3 takeouts and at least 1VP off my dead clock.
So I am feeling pretty good about my team/strategy going into round 4. I am matched up against Local Brian’s Butchers. He brought the classic Ox, Princess, Boiler, Shank, Brisket, Boar lineup. I actually felt really good about this match because I am generally confident I can move faster / score goals quicker than he can kill me. I finally receive, I draw tap in. I cannot get 1st place. Fatigue is setting in. I decide to live the dream. TURN, ONE, SALT, GOAL. I set everything up perfectly. Jack pulls him forward. We’ve got momentum to kick with bonus time. Sadly shank decided to roll hot dice on poor salt and wrecked him before we could even try it :*-(. Super Sad Otter. YOU WILL HAVE YOUR DAY SOON. Thankfully shark at least had the ball so we charge Boar, knock him down and dodge in for a goal on my last activation. I actually hate the turn 1 receiving goal with shark on last activation because you can’t thrown the net with much effect, then shark is all up in the danger zone for turn two. I don’t do this very often, but the otter crash and burn required it to be done. He punts out to brisket. Here’s where being tired as all hell catches up with me. I lay out influence for turn 2. Stacks on Shark, Jac, and Sakana. We’re looking to crowd control with Jac, Tackle or rebound with Sakana, and end the game with Shark. Brian has other plans. He wins initiative easily and surprised me by NOT activating Brisket who is in line for the goal. In hindsight I am not sure why I was so taken aback by this because Brisket is nearly perfect for this purpose. Instead he activates Ox with 6 influence, legendary, and carves Jac up for the dogs. Okay…. not good… at least I can score with Sakana now. Sakana Declares his charge against brisket, no reaction, for no reason at all I place Sakana about a half inch away from Brisket’s base… Unpredictable Movement triggers… 4 influence and a potential goal down the drain. I am going to be totally honest, I was a little salty here because I play Brisket. I know exactly what she does. I am not sure what was going through my mind other than “gotta hurry or he’s gonna get clock points again!” Sadly after that there was no chance of me winning. He had the momentum to stand up knocked down boar to eat Shark alive where the rest of my influence was. I asked if he’d mind if I conceded, but turns out you only get the VPs earned up to that point if a player concedes. It was a legit error on my part and I didn’t want his tiebreakers to suffer just because I was a salty noob. So I basically let him eat Shark (who needed Sakana’s momentum to escape Boar via Defensive Stance + Counter attack). Brisket still had the ball. I had only one influence alive on the field so I can’t prevent the goal. All he needs is one more easy takeout to win. Butchers win with 4 takeouts and a goal. Fish walk with their tails between their legs and 1 goal. Kind of a bummer way to end the day, but Brian was super chill about it. I chalk it up to an overtaxed brain / attempting a BS trick play. But sometimes you just have to SHOOT FOR THE STARS to redeem Salt in the minds of the masses!
Overall the entire day was an incredible experience. There were a couple things I did not personally care for. First there was a giant forest on every table. All our tables were set to be exactly equal in terrain amount/type. Aside from a lack of tactical depth between matches, the forests create a fairly sizable advantage for fishermen and especially hunters. This was particularly true as looking at most of the tables the forest was almost always very near the center or on a goal line. I don’t think that is an advantage either team needs. I know I was able to exploit the forest in several of my matches. Second I don’t like the way to Organized Play document handles the clock, but perhaps this will change as I get more experienced in that method of play. I don’t mind the 45 minute timer. What I did mind was the 60 second activation after you clock. 60 seconds, in a back and forth game like guild ball, is barely enough time complete more than one action, not to mention any type of tactical thinking. Think about it. You have to measure placement, pick out enough dice, Roll the dice, select a playbook result and resolve it. There is no chance to use up all the influence players require. I guess the argument is #getbetter or #dontclockout, but I think it creates a negative play experience and encourages sloppy play. 1VP is enough punishment. The clock out activation could easily be 3 minutes and have next to no negative impact, yet increase enjoyability for less experienced players. I do want to make it known, however, that these two things were vastly outweighed by the charm of the tournament! The Carolinas are strong with players of integrity and skill! A meeting of several Pundits is always nice as well. Matt, especially, ran an excellent event. I was impressed by his kindness and professionalism! The prize support from the store was incredibly generous. I am sure every dollar was returned to the players. Bonus Achievement: I had the most goals (9) and the least takeouts (0) Woo!!! Maybe next time I try for a more balanced approach? Looking forward to getting all these guys on my home turf so I can sleep in that morning!