I had finally caught up to the rest of the Steel City blog team on two trophies with my win at the excellent Boards and Swords, I was now on the hunt to be the first to three so I could kick my feet up and let the rest of the team get up to my level. I had the event at Impact gaming as my next target with my Co-Author vanadis popping along for the ride, no doubt with the same plan in mind. Of all the Steel City bloggers vanadis is the one I practice against the most, and is an expert at defensive Steelhearts – if that style of deck appeals to you then I would heavily recommend reading our article series.
I was taking the same Farstriders list that has done me so well in the past, note i’m trying to keep the exact details of the deck a secret, if it does well at the next grand clash I promise I will post it publicly.
Format and factions
The tournament format was 3 rounds of best of three with 75 minutes given for each round. 75 minutes sounds a little tight but in reality there were breaks after each round and the tournament organiser was willing to let people play longer if they needed. I am always very happy for proper best of three rounds, I feel like best of three is how competitive Shadespire is meant to be played as it lets you adapt your game plan and usually evens luck out over the multiple games.
The event organiser posted a table with a score breakdown after the tournament – so I can accurately report on what factions were at the event. In order of least to most we had:
- 1 Ironskull’s Boyz
- 1 Spiteclaw’s Swarm
- 1 The Chosen Axes
- 1 Magore’s Fiends
- 2 Farstriders
- 4 Steelheart’s Champions
That’s a lot of shield defence. I am currently in the middle of writing the 2nd part in my Shadespire for beginners series and have a section entitled ‘Cleave or leave’, I feel like this tournament is a perfect example of why cleave is such a strong ability.
Round 1 – vs Mick M and his mobile Rats
Chatting to Mick at the start of the game I found out that he was a fan of the blog! This was super exciting to me as I had never met someone in real life who read our blog before.
Skaven are a tricky opponent from the moment you see them. You have to guess if they are playing either objective or aggro and set up accordingly. Luckily we were playing best of three so if I guessed wrong in game one and got punished for that I could potentially make it up in the next 2 games. I won board roll off so with nothing to else to go on I assumed it was aggro Skaven and set the boards up long with my 3 fighter’s right at the back.
I had guessed wrong, Mick was playing objective Skaven. Luckily for me Mick is fairly new to the game of Shadespire so I didn’t get super punished for this mistake, he placed one of his objectives just within my territory so I could contest him from getting objectives like supremacy. Turn 1 I won the roll off to choose which player goes first and let Mick have the first turn. I draw two power cards and put my leader on guard for my first 3 activation’s. On Mick’s 4th activation he committed a model to the dangerous objective, I played spectral wings in his power step and Farstrider leapt across the board to stop the vermin from taking control of the game, coincidentally scoring a nice Change of Tactics as well. I used a ranged attack to hit the Skaven and then killed it with either trap or Raptors strike (can’t remember which), that attack hitting was very important – if it had missed my backup plan was to use the glory from Change of Tactics to equip an upgrade and try again with ready for action. Neither of us had anything to play in my power step so we scored objectives – I got skirting danger to take me up to 3 total and Mick got a couple based off the two objective tokens he did hold letting him equal me on 3.
Note turn 1 is a perfect example of why I always like to go 2nd at the beginning of a game, after I had killed his Skaven Mick had no more activation’s left to try and grab that objective back so he had to score turn 1 without holding it.
Going into turn 2 I put Deathly Fortitude on my leader to make him somewhat safe form a counter attack. This turn I had decided not to play hard for objectives but instead to get all my models into Micks territory, ready for them all to fight in turn 3. As I advanced I managed to kill another unimportant Skaven turn but failed to score any of my objectives, while Mick kept scoring some safe objectives – putting us at 4-5 glory going into turn 3.
By this point my models were mostly inspired and all up in Micks grill. I had saved my unspent glory from last turn for the chance to score escalation this turn and went all out on fighting. After the dust had settled I had killed 2 models (sadly not Scritch) and used the ever potent Great Concussion to stop Mick scoring anything. My scoring in turn 3 was Escalation + Alone in the Darkness + Ploymaster + Heroes mantle taking me to a 10 – 5 victory. I had been a tad worried going into turn 3 what with being at a glory deficit, but knew I had a solid plan and the dice shined on me enough to let that plan work.
I won board setup again and this time set them up short ways, using the lightning board (the lethal hex board with blue hexes) as my board. I then did the super cheeky trick of deploying my objective tokens onto the lethal hexes so that Mick’s Skaven would have to take damage if they even wanted what was on my board. Turn 1 I went controlled aggressive – all my models ended up charging into Mick’s territory but they were mostly using their ranged attacks to simple push Skaven off of objectives and not actually going into melee for kills. I say not going in for kills, Farstrider himself did manage a kill through the use of one of the best ploys in the game – Raptors Strike. I had also scored a glory from change of tactics as I advanced and ended the turn with all my fighters inspiring. Turn 2 saw Farstrider equip the Swift Stride upgrade and boldly… run away to the back hex of the board, scoring cover ground in the process. My other 2 fighters just sat in Mick’s board, using ranged attacks to push Skaven off of objectives, now that my fighters were inspired they were almost impossible for the sneaky rats to hit as Mick tried multiple attacks that all bounced off my armour. Turn 3 there was a lot of fighting – Krrk and Scritch missed every single attack and Farstrider came out of hiding with his 6 hex movement speed (as he still had Swift Stride on) to help in the fray. I only actually killed one model (again not Scritch) but I had kept all of the Skaven off of objectives and scored a nice set of glory from Alone in the Darkness + Ploymaster + Master of War + a Destiny to meet leaving the game at 12 – 3 to me.
Mick was a really interesting opponent as he was very new to Shadespire but had been gaming for a long time and was learning fast as we played. I expect that once he gets properly to grips with the game he will be a very strong opponent and look forward to playing him again in the future.
Raptor Strike is one of the most powerful cards in the game – it is absolutely bonkers.
Round 2 – Eva’s Steelhearts
Eva is Mick’s daughter and also new to the game; she was playing Steelhearts champions and trying for the more defensive approach but hadn’t quite got the strategy down. Both games were fairly one sided and it was straight up down to a lack of experience, Eva said that she was used to playing vs her Dad’s objective Skaven so she had learned to deploy her fighters a bit forward to try to contest their objectives, however vs a deck stacked to the brim with ploys that help you fight I got the better of her. In game 1 it was a bit of a nail biter as she got Obryn inspired and he managed to do 3 damage to each of my fighters but he never quite finished any of them off – I may have been strategically running fighters away as they got hurt. In game 2 Eva pulled off a solid ‘No time’ to stop me equipping an upgrade at the end of the game and denying me Escalation but I managed to just outscore based on passive objectives and the occasional kill. No time is an underrated card and when used correctly it can completely destroy your opponents plans, the issue is in using it correctly as often it is either a dead card in your hand or you misjudge what your opponent is trying to do and waste a ploy.
After the games Eva straight away said that she wanted to change some elements of her deck and we chatted for a bit about general Shadespire tactics. This is one of my favourite parts of tournaments, wherein you meet likeminded people and just chat about the hobby.
Notice the pile of wounds on each of my Farstriders
Round 3 – Bryce’s Midgets
Bryce is a familiar face to me, being a player from Manchester who also travels a bit in search of glass trophies. He is a very good Dwarf player and I was definitely nervous when matched vs him. Before the game started we chatted a little bit about general Shadespire stuff and I mentioned how disgusted I was at the experience Jamie had gone through when he played vs a 4 trophy winner a few weeks before. It turned out Bryce is a friend of Jamie’s so he had a fair bit to say on the subject, we both agreed that it is not the type of behaviour we want in the scene and we are very happy that it is an extremely rare occurrence.
Bryce won board setup and deployed long. I had selected the lightning board as my option which worked out well as it let me deploy close to his fighters. Note vs Dwarves I try to play aggressive, Dwarf lists often run some Hold objective cards and an inspired Fjul-Grimnir is the most terrifying model in the game, I do not want him using hidden paths and coming after me. Despite my best efforts Fjul did inspire at the end of turn 1 – so I spent the rest of the game running away. There was Benny Hill music playing in my ears the whole time as the angry Dwarf Leader kept trying and failing to run down my rangers. Fjul did finally connect with an attack in the final turn of the game, I had raptors strike in hand and used it on his leader on the off chance he was trying to score bloodless, he reacted with my turn and pushed Fjul next to one of my inspired fighters and one shot him. Ouch, that was a costly mistake. I still won the game on passive glory though so I breathed a sigh of relief.
I made 2 absolutely brain dead mistakes this game and 1 utterly ridiculous one. Mistake number 1, I lost track of what turn it was and at the end of turn 2 I thought it was turn 3 and had won, when Bryce pointed out my error I may have face palmed. Mistake number 2, in the last activation of the game I charged towards a Dwarf on an objective and made a ranged attack, the attack was not successful but we both had the same amount of successes on our dice so I pushed him off, I then played trap thinking about bloodless again… Bryce resisted mocking me too much when he used My Turn to get his Dwarf back on an objective, even worse that made enough difference to swing the game in his direction for glory. The end result was 11 – 12 to Bryce but I need to talk about my horrific mistake before I go on to game 3:
In the first turn I scored change of tactics with Farstrider who then got hit for 3 damage by an uninspired Fjul. I then planned to use spectral wings to charge another model into the fray, using Farstrider as a means for getting support when I realised that the model I had actually charged with wasn’t Farstrider, it was Eagle Eye. This made a big difference to how the previous turns would have played because Eagle eye did not have enough base movement to make the charge and thus score change of tactics, unfortunately we could not reverse the game state as I had drawn a new objective card. The fact that this had happened after I had talked to Bryce about the Jamie situation made me feel even worse. Trying to be objective about the situation there were a couple of things I did right:
- I was the one who spotted the mistake and I instantly told Bryce about my idiocy and why it made a difference to previous turns.
- I offered to swap the Eagle Eye model with that of Farstrider so that my leader would be the one with 3 damage and the charge token, I let Bryce choose.
In the end Bryce was very understanding that it was a mistake and just let the game continue in the state it was, with hindsight I think the fairest thing for me to do would be to put spectral wings from hand into the discard pile as that would have allowed Eagle eye the movement to score change of tactics, annoyingly I did not think of this at the time.
I really need to stop doing this, I say stop because in a previous tournament I have mixed up those same 2 models, in that case it was a best of one format and my opponent noticed straight away and it cost me the game. With all 3 of those mistakes that was one of the sloppiest games of competitive Shadespire I have ever played, going into game 3 I had to calm myself and make sure I didn’t go on tilt.
Ok, this was a fresh game and I had to be focused. I got board setup and placed short. Turn 1 my general strategy was to play aggressive and stop his Dwarfs from inspiring, while getting into his territory and making sure my models inspired. On Bryce’s 2nd activation he used inspiration strikes on Fjul and one shot Eagle eye. Ouch. The next activation saw Farstrider reply in kind by one shooting one of the weaker Dwarves. I successful inspired my remaining 2 models and Bryce inspired the other weak Dwarf, Teft remained uninspired. Turns 2 and 3 were a very cagey affair – I equipped deathly fortitude to Farstrider so that Fjul could not one shot him with a charge and kept shooting his dwarfs. I managed to kill Teft in turn 3 while taking no casualties and won 10 – 5.
Phew. I had finally managed to resist giving Bryce a free My Turn – I was being exceptionally careful about when I was pinging his models and making sure to leave his inspired leader alone.
My Turn was the cause of much consternation for me.
I had won all 3 rounds while only dropping one game. Normally I would expect this to win me the tournament but my co-author and partner in Shadespire vanadis had the exact same record as me. This meant that the horror of tiebreakers would decide who won the tournament. The store manager read out and the winner is… and I had got it! Another trophy in the bag and the first to 3 for the Steelcity blog team. I left the event with a smile on my face, knowing that the pressure was off.
About 30 minutes after the event the Tournament organiser posted a table of the final standings which the two of us quickly pored over. It quickly became apparent that one of vanadis’ wins had not been recorded and that the tiebreaker in use was glory difference, which I was losing out on.
Vanadis was trying to be as chill as possible but was obviously more than annoyed at the result. As far as we could determine I had walked away with the trophy despite not being the legitimate winner of the event. After about 5 minutes of getting progressively more annoyed with myself I offered up the trophy and the win – always conscientious, my co-author refused on the grounds that it didn’t matter what we thought about who won, I was the one given the trophy.
This left a sour taste in both our mouths, it was obviously a mistake that the guy running the event had made and nothing malicious, he would not have posted the results otherwise but my win felt cheap and my co-author was missing a trophy.
If the tournament organiser gets a chance to read this and thinks we were wrong in our assessment, please contact us as it would help put our minds at rest. Even with the results being off I would still heavily recommend the venue as every other part of the event was run amazingly and there was a lot of passion put in to making it a great experience for everyone.
As for me I think I am hanging the Farstriders up for a bit. I’ve won all my 3 trophies with them, all in the Q2 kit as well, and would like to try something else.
The next event I am going to is at Boards and Swords in Derby on the 26th of August, where i will be defending my title of store Shadespire champion (in my head this is actually a thing) from all comers. I hope to see some of you there.
I may not be the best at taking pictures.
Great article as always.
It was a pleasure to play you mate and Eva was grateful of your advice for her deck.
Keep up the good work!