Tales From The Maul: Game 1

This past weekend saw the 10th and final Maul tournament in Sheffield, organised by erstwhile Mierce production manager Tim Fisher. Where this had previously been a Warhammer only affair, the death of WHFB and subsequent rebirth as Age of Sigmar has led to a multi system approach.

Early efforts to get 9th age off the ground were obviously way ahead of their time judging by the now rapturous repsponse to other 9th age tournaments, and Age of Sigmar and Darklands were left as the two battles being fought across the Daveys events hall (oh…and one humongous game of X-wing)

16 players signed up for Darklands and, despite a few drop outs and near misses and Tim having to fill in for two games, 16 people played in 40 games across the weekend.

Experience levels ranged from the game’s creator to one player who only played his first (half) game on the Friday night. Everyone seemed to approach the weekend as an opportunity to gain some experience playing the actual game and an understanding of the rules and tactical depth rather than a full on competitive event and I don’t think anyone was disappointed, well, the less said about Luke’s list the better.

Game 1: Liam Jordan – Fomoraic

Liam is a fellow beast player and his army was only really different to mine in one significant manner…it was much better. In Darklands feral troops are pretty hard to control, they have to move as far as they can towards an enemy each turn and this can lead to them sprinting off into charge range of something that can eat them for breakfast. Liam took a character riding a pig (Toracx) and used it to block the moves of some of his other frenzied troops, meaning he could keep them back until the time was right for them to go charging into the fray. He also had three times as many Gabrax warlocks as I did, which means three times as much of his time was spent blasting me clean off the table.

One of the most special aspects of Darklands is the deployment, you pick a deployment pattern from one of eight, depending on which edge and flank you control, and set up a command at a time in reverse authority order. The nature of these positioning fields means that it is entirely possible for your armies to overlap and start the game throwing themselves at each other.

Liam and I both picked corner deployments but I made the mistake of deploying in two separate groups, hoping to pull off some kind of pincer maneuver. Early on he moved his Tain on Toracx into the path of my Tarvox (huge four armed feral Minotaur-esque killing machine) in the hope of slowing him down. This proved to be exactly the wrong sort of turning point when I dutifully made the charge, spannered all my attacks and took an unexpected amount of damage in return. I’m not entirely sure what happened next, with us all still getting to grips with the mechanics I didn’t want to slow the games down any further by making notes. The crux of it though was that my Tarvox won the combat and proceeded to barrel straight through into one of Liam’s gabrax warlock’s who performed a ‘hold and invoke’ reaction and nuked my big beastie straight off the table. We later learned that not only should he not have been able to cast three spells as part of a charge reaction but he shouldn’t have had a charge reaction to make as you don’t get one against a breakthrough. We were all learning though, and neither of us spotted it, add in the fact that Liam had two other warlocks waiting on the wings to fry my big guy and I’m sure it made very little difference.

My own Gabrax Warlock ended up on one constitution trying to win me some gold back and I’m proud to say his head exploded while he was trying to recover rather than falling into enemy hands. After two years of Warhammer tournaments it’s reassuring to know that your wizard can still kill himself game 1.

After that Liam was able to take advantage of his magical superiority and bigger unit of monstrous infantry to mop up the remains of my army, and as soon as my general died my Gabrax unit fled off the table, compounding my problems.

Result: a deserved 20-0 to Liam who went on to nab second place.

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