Road to a Grand Tournament: Armed Forces Day 2023

Carter Kachmarik
June 09, 2023


The day had finally arrived, and my teammates & I were ready to go: The Armed Forces Day GT was officially on, though not without complications.  Before we dive into this article, I think some hindsight & background is necessary.  I’m someone who goes to about 10 or so tournaments a year for AoS, and not every single one goes perfectly.  This was my teammates’ first tournament, as well, and likewise they were new to the experience.  Despite the difficulties we’ll discuss later in this article, I feel confident about my play, and look forward to bringing this list, or a tweaked version of it, to more events this year: The major fault in its construction was my poor assessment of the meta I’d be going into.  With that out of the way, let’s go over my experience at AFD23.

As a brief review, the list I brought centered on a trio of 6-man units of Tzeentch Enlightened on Foot, and a Krondspine Incarnate to facilitate their 8” charges from ambush.  This was a list designed to tackle all-comers, generalist lists without ‘castle’ blobs, like Slaves to Darkness, Khorne, and other Beasts players.  Unfortunately, the meta I played into contained a tremendous 6 Kharadron Overlord players, out of a 59-person event, as well as a high amount of Sylvaneth.  KO specifically are a tough matchup for this variant of BoC, given we lack Bullgors in our list.  Bullgors are known as tremendous castle-crackers, who despite often trading down can essentially kill anything on the charge.  This list, meanwhile, was focused on debuffs, from the Wildfire Taurus, Enlightened, and Morghurite Spawn, trying to remove avenues for my opponents to break parity in melee with me.  All told, I would bring this list again, with the caveat that perhaps some Bullgors would be a worthwhile inclusion.

My Round 1 pairing (Mission: Only the Worthy) was an immediate show of the competition I’d be facing: Ravager StD, with 70 Splintered Fang, across 3 units.  This was a tremendous amount of bodies, and I knew the only way to chew through them would be Enlightened, although that wasn’t all I had to be worried about.  Also in the list were Varanguard, Knights, and a block of Chaos Warriors, which I knew would require management in the midboard.  The game began with him giving me first turn, after essentially null-deploying, so I moved up some sacrificial Spawn to score max points, and pass back.  We trade blows, with him killing all but 1 Spawn by the game’s end, but my Enlightened (and Beastlord) proving their worth, 1-turning his Varanguard, and following it up by 1-turning his Knights.  The game begins to go south for him by top of Round 4, and with no leaders left to bring back his Cultists, due to a combination of my Rituals of Ruin & Enlightened, the game ends with me scoring max points, and a major victory.  My opponent’s list was a fantastic show of what StD are bringing to the table, but a few missteps in terms of his experience facing Beasts allowed him to underestimate my Enlightened, letting the 180pt wonders do their thing.

Round 2 (Mission: The Prize of Gallet) was a rough one, though not for reasons I’m especially content about.  My opponent was on Kharadron Overlords, with 1 Ironclad, and Gotrek, but otherwise a standard list.  This game was decided by two major factors, one which kept me from a Major Victory, and the other, from a Minor Defeat.  The first, was during Battle Round 2, where I had set up my alpha strike perfectly.  The boat & Grundstok were tied up in the midboard, the Krondspine was in the perfect place for rerolls, and I had all my Enlightened, Beastlord, and several Spawn at the ready to close in and wipe his army’s core.  The turn had also gone my way in terms of magic, with the Taurus tagging all of his key units, and Tendrils of Atrophy on his Grunstok.  Out of 5 of my 8” rerollable charges, I made 1, with an Enlightened block.  He fires with the Last Word, and his Great Endrinwork, wiping them to 2 models, which chew through a ton of Grunstok, but not all of them.  Moreover, the Krondspine was still in combat, and did a decent amount alongside another Spawn who had already gotten in, but my opponent “forgot” to take the extra Tendrils damage, after I explained how it worked, and notified him of base damage numbers (The spawn being D1 in melee).  The TO put it to a roll off, and with him winning, my chances for victory were gone.  While playing to your averages is important in AoS, there’s some things that can’t be helped, and this list has the unfortunate side effect of needing to hit those 8” rerollables to play the game.  The game ended 20-25 in his favor, the 1 point skew keeping me from a Minor Defeat, and other factors from a Victory.  Can’t win them all.

My last Round of Day 1 (Mission: In the Presence of Idols) was what can only be described as a slobberknocker.  I was tilted by my last round, especially given the conduct of my opponent, and another game against KO wasn’t something I looked forward to.  That said, I knew I still very much had a chance, and my opponent was the exact kind of good sport I needed to bounce back.  His list was standard KO fare, with the exception of a Codewright to shore up his CP usage, but as a player he was something else: The man had brought a physical, aged Book of Grudges, in which he recorded every painful wound against his duardin pride.  The game went to Round 5, with no resolution, simply because we were neck & neck every single round.  Each of our lists were optimized to max score, due to a combination of bodies & mobility, and trading objectives round-after-round was a tense game of chess.  In the early game, it was all about baiting one another: He set up some juicy Arkanauts to try and force a charge, which I didn’t take, while I placed my Krondspine along the far flank to try and crack his line.  As if to apologize for my rolls last game, this round my charge dice were kind to me, and with an Alpha Strike of Spawn, Krond, and 2 Enlightened blocks, I killed outright a full unit of Arkanauts & a Frigate.  That said, nearly all of my army was gone by the tail end of Battle Round 4, and I needed to keep him off of my Herdstone to secure my Grand Strategy, the way he intended to win.  In a heroic last charge, my Beastlord managed to tie up the last frigate, standing right beside the terrain piece, and with some hot rolls, finish off its last 7 wounds.  The game ended 28-28, both of us tied at max scoring.

I ended Day 1 of AFD23 1-1-1, which, with 2 wins the following day, could absolutely take me to Top8; the same weekend, another BoC player I’ve chatted with even got 4th place at the Texas Masters GT with that hypothetical record.  I was hyped to get back in there, and try for another metaphorical trophy on my shelf.

This is the point at which, however, things started to fall apart.  Despite my difficult Day 1 (2 KO is about the worst you can ask for as a squishy melee faction), my teammates had it rougher.  The Skaven player had gone 0-3, and my Slaanesh teammate, 1-2, with some spirit-crushing Round 3s.  It was about an hour’s drive to the venue, and before we even left, the Skaven player dropped, citing illness.  Day 1 had started 90 minutes late, the worst time management I’ve ever seen at a GT, so given my remaining teammate was pretty groggy, not used to the drain a GT places on you, we gambled on leaving a bit late so he could sleep in.  As you can probably guess, Day 2 started about 10 minutes early, and with Pairings for Round 4 posted while we were 40 minutes away, the two of us decided to drop as well, given I was the only one likely to have a shot at top cut.

This was my first GT where I wasn’t the lone player in terms of logistics, and I played in it largely so my teammates could have a feel for what Tournament AoS was like.  I feel as though my play for Day 1, which essentially ended up as a mini-RTT for us, was solid, and my list was clean (although less-so into this meta).  All told, there were a number of organizer errors that happened this weekend, the start time being the worst of it, and I don’t know if I’d attend again without a good reason.  Still, tournament play always gets my blood pumping, and it felt good repping Beasts in such a competitive environment.

That’s a wrap on my AFD23 experience!  It’s unfortunate I didn’t make Day 2, but knowing when to drop is an important skill for tourney grinding.  I’m planning to attend plenty more events this year, so keep an eye out for more recaps!  Let me know any thoughts you have in the comments below!


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