Friday, 29 July 2016

Through The Eyes Of A Host

Being the odd man at a tournament can be a little, well, odd. You never really know if you will be playing or not until the event starts, so you can't get the normal tournament sickness in the week building up to it. We all know the illness; a feeling of constant lethargy, causing procrastination on a dangerous scale during the week, which heats up into a sweaty and panicked fever the night before as you realise you have models to paint and / or repair.  As The Ringer if you prepare your force and don't end up playing it's just disappointing, so I made a very wise (and lazy) decision to not bother and leave the Jellys at home.

As it turned out we did have a single flake (a 99er if you like) and I ended up playing. I can feel your cries resonating through the screen; "But Dan, what did you play if you didn't have your beloved Scourgeywurgeys?!?". Before I get into that, I need to share with you another oddity about being Ring Man Dan, in that you can't, or rather, shouldn't win too many games. Ideally your Odd Man will be mincing about in the mid to lower tables, where the final placing isn't so key. I'm not saying that players at lower tables aren't competing for a higher finish, but they might be striving to beat their personal best rather than kerb stomping others for a podium finish. With that in mind, if I played my Scourge it could have caused issues. I have a strong track record my tadpoles, and as I don't have it in me to hold back to much (if I'm playing, I'm playing to win dawg) I didn't want to steam roller anyone.

Despite playing Dropzone since the beginning of time, there is a race I have literally never played before, and being the Odd Man I though it might be nice to try them. Taking off my crown, weird three-optic gas mask and muddy trench coat, I pulled on the fresh khaki uniform of the enemy. That's right, I was playing as the cattle - the UCM!

With the whistle denoting the sound of round one about to be blown, Mike and I whipped up a list in literally a minute and half which looked like this;

Phoenix (CV2)
Hazard Suits, Raven


Legionnaires, Raven [missile]
Legionnaires, Raven [missile]

Mortars, Bear


When I sat down with Mike my only must-haves were two Archangels (as having only played pre-awesomespear Shaltari and useless-Corsair Scourge forever had not used worthwhile fast movers) and a Phoenix. Other than that, it was pretty fair game! Looking at the list now though, I guess apart from Praetorians there isn't really much else I could have taken, but there you go.

As for the tournament, I may have broken one or two Odd Man rules. Perhaps even three or four. I came 2nd overall and took best UCM player... 

Look, it's not my fault I did so well, I just so happens that this list suited my play style! It turns out that 'Air Wing' UCM (which I guess this list was a minor variant of) is actually a lot like a Scourge list. They have numerous aircraft, soft armour, a few specific dangerous units and find focal point missions a bit of a challenge. The differences that I did notice were the varied weapon types that the UCM have at their disposal, and their ability to be very pliable to every mission type.

And speaking of missions, I pretty much played each army I didn't want too in each mission type. For
Ground Control I was paired off against Scourge, who don't mind GC so much as aircraft score. My extra level of experience counted greatly in this mission, as I was able to dispatch my opponents Destroyers and Eviscerators early in turn 2 through a wily couple of Archangel runs, and this changed the complexion of the game which ended in a large victory to me.

Game 2 was our Take & Extract, and I was up against the Resistance. Wrestling the focal point from a heavy and fast ground force was not an ideal proposition to be up against, especially when he found a middle objective in the third turn on a roll of a six! It turned out to be okay, as the Phoenix (which is like an actually useful Desolator) dominated the central focal point and earned me three VPs to win the game.

Surging Strike was next up and I was facing against Ed's PHR... Whywhywhy do I always end up facing these bloody PHR lists with such fragile armies?! I lost this game at 13-7, but I'm going to put it down to inferior dice. Not to take anything from Tech Boy, as he made some good moves, but if you can't kill two Helios over four turns with between 5-7 drones something's wrong... The lack of boots on the ground in this UCM build was really highlighted in this game, but I did only lose it by the skin of my teeth. If my dice had performed averagely I'm confident I could have won! Que sera, sera.

Last up I was placed against Joe's arch-nemesis Andrew Page and his Shaltari, in our Military Complex variant. Having seen he only had two units of Infantry I fancied my chances (I had four), and as it turned out it did work in my favour and I won the game, finishing the tournament on a strong finish. The sheer amount of mistakes we both made in this game was comical; I totally forgot I could redeploy in turn 2, so only put one stand of Infantry in my home building meaning I never ending up finding it! Mr Page made his mistakes too, relocating his Pungari and Braves the wrong way round, activating gates also in the wrong order and playing the strangest Underground Monorail card between two of my buildings instead of his.

But there you have it. If my dice had not divebombed against Ed or I had not made such a silly mistake against Andrew it may have been my title (which I awkwardly wouldn't have been allowed to have). I enjoyed the UCM more than I ever thought I could do, and for the most part they suited my cautious nature. I really missed my Scourge exotics and craved CQB, so squeezing in some Praetorians is a must next time.

That's interesting though, as I'm already referring to next time. I thought PHR would be next race after my amble down Shaltari Lane, but it's looking likely I'll be picking up some cattle instead! Hopefully Sabres will be useful by then, considering I have nine of the things from various starter sets. One can dream...


  1. "As for the tournament, I may have broken one or two Odd Man rules. Perhaps even three or four. I came 2nd overall and took best UCM player... Look, it's not my fault I did so well."

    Ha ha, yeah, sorry - that was partly my fault, handing you 19 points in your first game...

    Still, it was a much more fun game than the score might suggest. And the first of a full day of games in which I felt like I really learned things. e.g. From game 2 onwards, I tried to have a plan!

    1. I'm glad it didn't feel as 'penetrative' for you as I thought it might have! Glad you had a good time chap.

  2. Yeah, the cattle have some kick to them, eh?

    Well done, Dan.

    You've made a data point entry in my general theory of "what wins" -- It's not so much the faction as it is the player. With your vast yeast of experience playing the game, and having faced UCM no doubt plenty of times, so you have a good understanding of what their units are capable of, it's no wonder you did so well on your first outing. Glad to hear that you'll be continuing down this road...

    Now, it will be interesting to see what you take and how you do when you venture down the Path of the White Sphere... 8^D

    1. My many yeasts of experience probably did tell, as well as all my barley and thyme.

      It'll be a while now before I venture into traitor territory, with hogs lined even before UCM! Who knows, maybe even Phase 3 will be out by then...

    2. Git.

      You're a git. iOS spell checker is a git. I'm a git for trying to post at 1:30 AM.

      Now go write another post, Dan, Ed's given you some competition. Go on, now, git!