D&D Miniatures06/21/2007

Benelux Qualifier Report
An Inspiring Performance

My warband and my reasons behind it are explained in the companion article.

My goal for this tournament was finishing in the top half. I knew that the Germans were coming (and believe me, they know how to play). Peter Scot was going to be there (everyone knows how skilled he is). Jan Elfman was coming along with us (I consider him the best Belgian Player at this time), and the Dutch had been practicing a lot in recent months … something I don't have enough time for around this time of year.

I didn't expect many other Belgian and Dutch players except the ones I knew already, so I was surprised that we ended up with 21 players. It was great to learn that there are other small groups in the Benelux, and I will soon get around to contacting those that gave me their email addresses.

The following descriptions of my matches are short because they've been reconstructed from memory instead of notes. I hope to convey the feeling and flow of the games instead of blow-by-blow details.

Round 1 -- Marcel Oschwald

Marcel brought Ryld Argith, two Large Black Dragons, the Thrall of Blackrazor, and the usual CE filler. I won map initiative, so Teleport Temple it was.

Just winning map initiative essentially won me the game. My opponent (who I believe was relatively new to the game) didn't feel comfortable on that map. He fell for my lure (Wolf and Inspiring Marshal) right away, and then the trap closed. One Dragon went down without my hitters taking any damage and without my needing the Grant Move Action. That pretty much decided the game then and there.

This was an easy win, but I must mention that I was nonetheless impressed by Marcel. He learned fast from his mistakes and showed that he had a natural feeling for the game. I am pretty sure we'll hear more from him if he keeps playing.

Score -- 1:0

Round 2 -- Johan van Dammen

Johan brought Ryld Argith, Storm Silverhand, the Elf Warmage, a Cormyrean War Wizard, Bat Familiar, and supporting pieces. Once again, I won map initiative, chose my Teleport Temple, and even got to set up on the side I prefer.

Marcel moved all of his units up toward the top teleporter, which left me free to grab all the other teleporters I deemed important. I also collected tile points and he didn't.

In round two, I won initiative and, since Marcel was leading with his Bat Familiar, I teleported in front of his troops with a Graycloak Ranger and destroyed the Bat. With it went his threat of shocking grasp. I thanked the Graycloak for his brave sacrifice -- he didn't live long enough to feel a hero. It's a tough job ….

After that, things got strange. My opponent made some strange decisions (probably because of being inexperienced with the map). He exposed Ryld Argith, who got clobbered while I was still in very good shape. Marcel may have resigned at that point, or perhaps we finished the game -- I don't remember. Whichever it was, the outcome was decided there.

I was happy to play against one of the Belgians that I didn't know yet and enjoyed the match.

Score -- 2:0

Round 3 -- Jan Elfman

Oh no, not Jan! I've played many games against Jan, and he just gets better and better. Even worse, his warband is a close match for mine -- Ultroloth, Duergar Champion, Dragonmark Heir of Deneith, Chraal, Snig + sniglets, Greenspawn Sneak, and two Goblin Skirmishers (yes, he is also a fan of many activations). Map choice would be very important …

… and Jan won his choice, placing us on Drow Outpost.

I had won the exact same game in Utrecht by one point, so I decided to try the same strategy again. I really should have known better. Jan doesn't make the same mistake twice and learns from every defeat. The stupid thing is, I know this all too well, because Jan and I have played each other many, many times.

I started the first round by turning invisible and running a wolf onto the middle victory area, denying his Chraal access to it. Since Jan didn't want to send in his Sneak for fear of the Graycloaks, I managed to get an early tile-point lead. I maneuvered my creatures so they could swing toward either the topside or bottomside of the map and placed my tile grabbers within range of the middle and top victory areas. The plan was to get tile points and count on invisibility to keep figures alive.

Jan advanced with his main force and kept all his fodder behind. That was bad for me -- I needed to destroy those Goblins to maintain a small point lead and avoid falling too far behind in activations.

But it was not to happen. By round two, Jan was hitting my little guys and my Conceal gamble wasn't working. By the end of round 2, I was behind in activations and out of fodder. Sometime in round 3 or 4, I moved in for one last, desperate assault on Jan's Ultroloth. I knew that I needed some luck on this, but he countered the move very simply and effectively.

In short, I got my butt kicked pretty hard.

Score -- 2:1

Round 4 -- Erwin (Charles the Ghoul)

Erwin is another good friend who I consider to be at my level of play. This was another mirror matchup, but instead of Graycloaks and 10 activations, he plays a Living Flaming Sphere and 8 activations. Oooh, how I hate that invisible Flaming Sphere. I lost to Erwin in Utrecht after missing a Conceal roll against that ball six or seven times in a row.

We both had brought Teleport Temple, so that choice was easy.

I won't go into details here because I've already described several mirror battles on Teleport Temple. It's enough to state that Erwin was very tired, and he had a bad day. He was not playing up to his skill, and I didn't miss those Conceal rolls this time.

Score -- 3:1

Round 5 -- Roger Witte (Janos)

Roger brought an Ultroloth, three Chraals, a Duergar Slaver, a Skeleton Warrior, and a Skeletal Legionnaire. I really was hoping to play against Roger at some point that day, because I have great respect for him as both a player and as a person. Besides that, I've never played him before.

I won map initiative, so it was Teleport Temple once again. Roger, however, took the good side, sticking me with the bad side.

I can't recount too many details of this game … for some reason it's all kind of blurry. I felt outplayed the whole game, although the result tells a different story.

I started out defensively and tried to eliminate the Legionnaire with the Graycloaks, but failed to do so. As an answer to that, Roger sent one Chraal around the back way to threaten the now visible Graycloaks and Mialee.

In round two, his Ultroloth holed up on a victory area behind a Chraal. Another Chraal breathed ice all over at least one Graycloak, who turned tail. I believe he froze Mialee in the same attack, too. To deal with this pressure, I decide to attack the Duergar Slaver with my Wemic, but failed the Conceal check.

This is where things get blurry. I know I got lucky when Roger coned my Inspiring Marshal, because he passed his morale check. A short time later, I sandwiched a Chraal that failed its morale check and ran off, saving me from taking all that Death Burst damage. After that, I ran off to play keep-away and avoid losing points.

I won the game but not because I was the better player. This game confirmed in me my respect for Roger as a formidable player and great person. I look forward to seeing him again in Manchester (though I hope to avoid him in the match-ups!).

Score -- 4:1

Round 6 -- Marco Van den Berg

Marco brought Ryld Argith, two Mounted Drow Patrol, a Large Deep Dragon, two Lolth's Stings, and two Hunting Hyenas.

I didn't have much chance to get to know Marco during the game, but he knows how to play D&D Miniatures, and he brought an interesting warband to the table.

He won map initiative and pulled out … another Teleport Temple! He took the good side, and I took the bad.

This match-up worried me -- between teleporters and Mounted Melee Attack, those Mounted Drow Patrols are very dangerous and very hard to catch. I decided to set a trap and, if he didn't take the bait, go for a full scale assault concentrated against the Mounted Drow. With just 50 hps, at least they fall fast once you get into contact.

In the first round, I went invisible except for Mialee, who just lingered -- she was the bait. I also left the Trickster behind, because I would need him if Marco went for the bait. The rest of the warband moved to the top teleporter to disperse. The Graycloak Rangers even forced a morale check on one of the Hyenas, which ran.

Marco went for the bait on the second round. Two Mounted Drow dashed in along the bottom teleporters. Mialee died, but she'd done her job. I brought back the Frenzied Berserker, who attacked and routed one Mounted Drow, and closed in on the second with my Wemic Barbarian. As I'd hoped, even the Gnome Trickster scored a sneak attack for a quick 15 points of damage.

I held onto the snake's swiftness spell, however, believing that it would be more useful later on.

In round three, Marco brought up the Deep Dragon and Ryld Argith. The routing Mounted Drow left the battle mat and the other was destroyed, although I suffered some damage in the process. Despite that, I knew I was in control of the situation at that point (barring bad die rolls).

In relatively short order, I dropped the Large Deep Dragon and a Lolth's Sting. At one point, Marco managed to put the Frenzied Berserker to sleep, but she was awakened by the Xeph. He was unable to recover the lead, however, and the game fell to me.

Final Score -- 5:1

I finished the tournament much stronger than I expected or hoped. I owe a lot of that success to the fact that five out these six matches were player on Teleport Temple, my preferred map.

Overall, I had a great day. My congratulations go to Jan for winning, and my thanks go to Peter Scott, Kristin De Brandt, Marjolein, and everyone else who put this event together and showed up to play.

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