2022-2023 Events: 8 Game Wins: 32 Game Losses: 8 Win Rate: 80.0%
Joshua Bennett(JB): First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with us and our readers. Has the feeling of winning the largest AOS event (Las Vegas Open) in the world worn off yet?
Jiwan Noah Singh (JNS): No problem, I’m a chatty guy. LVO really was quite something, not going to downplay how fun that was. But I had an itch to play some warhammer like 5-6 days after I got back. Sometimes, I look at the photos of everyone storming the stage during the ITC awards when I need a little serotonin boost
JB: I bet that was an insane experience. especially with your club behind you for support. Tough crowd is really amazing. The love and support you have for each other, not to mention the energy you guys bring to events. Do you think that is one of the things that keeps bringing you back?
JNS: I love Tough Crowd, and it was super special this year getting the team award. We also have other clubs we are super close with, Harumbes, Wicked Dicey, Georgia Warband, and a bunch of others. Having my wife come for the first time was great too, she got to see this part of my life that is so important to me. Having an amazing club and friends for sure is part of it, but I loved going to events even without knowing anyone. I met a lot of my close friends in the hobby now by just showing up to my first LVO, knowing nobody with three screaming bells, a gong and edible warpspark tokens.
I think even if you know nobody, you should rock up and make them know you
JB: That’s amazing, and let me take a moment to point out you are an amazing human being and make everyone feel welcome and an absolute joy to be around. How long have you been into the competitive world.
JNS: Lots of amazing people in this hobby. It’s so good. I started playing Aos in a shed in my yard in Key West during first edition, but most games didn’t end, and we got distracted or did stuff like try fireball objectives. I went to a couple of tournaments pre Covid but not really with any specific expectations, and they were really fun. Over Covid I started playing on tts, and the community and access to talking to people really helped me (I’m a classic extrovert and was kinda losing my mind up on a mountain in Vermont) The group I stumbled into happened to be competitive and it eventually led to being coach of the 2021 worlds team. I think I just got in a routine of playing aos constantly and became a competitive player out of that.
I would say I try to be competitively social, but I really enjoy figuring out puzzles in games and how to put myself in a position to win.
JB: which you do very well. being a coach to the worlds team had to be so much fun.
JNS: Yeah it was great, that year was Milan, which was a super fun place to roll around with a crew of warhammer players. Worlds and teams are such a fun part of warhammer, I highly suggest people participate in team events.
JB: I have seen team event pick up popularity in the states do you think that’s the future of AOS competition
JNS: I think gt play is great, I have loved that more premier events are swapping to top 8. There is something really fun about getting space to watch the top tables duke it out while you hang with the people you met. I think teams is a great second thing to expand though. There is room for both in my imagined future and I think it sounds fantastic.
JB: Speaking of the top 8 what advice would you give readers that want to get to that level?
JNS: I think the only real advice I have to get better is to play more and play clean and to lose more to great players.
JB: you have gone from AOS worlds coach to LVO winner what can we expect from you next
JNS: Lol I don’t know, I love playing AoS and am going to try to get to some new areas I haven’t played in yet. I like finding new lists and metas and seeing what they have going on in those places, that’s really what motivated me to keep doing this.
Although I am on the team this year again and will be playing in Amsterdam which will be a blast.
So I guess that’s next?
JB: Noah thank you so much for your time and good luck at worlds. I look forward to seeing you on the tables.
Joshua Bennett, Daughters of Khaine supremo, has joined our team and set about interviewing the top players from around the world! Having been to many of the top tournaments in the USA, Joshua has amassed a tonne of connections in that time.
Events in 22-23 Pitched Battles (Season 1 and 2): 10 Game Wins: 43.5 (Draws counting as 0.5 wins and 0.5 losses) Game Losses: 6.5 Win Rate: 87.0% Woehammer Ranking Points: 928.4 North America Woehammer Ranking: 2nd Worldwide Woehammer Ranking: 2nd
Events (Sorted by Woehammer Ranking Points):
Las Vegas Open 2023
US Open Kansas City
Old Town Throwdown Summer Smash
The Slambo GT
Harambe’s Heroes and Goldmine Games Rumble in the Jungle
US Open Chicago
Sooper Seekret Kastell Chon
The Lone Star Grand Tournament
Joshua Bennett (JB): Hey buddy, first, I wanna say thank you so much for taking time out of your day and chatting with us. I guess we should start off with asking how long have you been wargaming?
Gavin Grigar (GG): Thanks for having me! I started wargaming around 2003 as a kid with 40k and then lost interest when I got to high school, which is probably similar to a lot of folks. Picked it up again in 2017 after I realized it was ok to be a nerd and then started playing Age of Sigmar in 2019 because it was what my friends were playing. Haven’t looked back since.
JB: You were last seasons number 1 ITC player with a few number 1s in multiple factions, you’re also representingteam USA in the AOS worlds event. Has it always been competitive play for you?
GG: Yea, I think I’ve always had a thing. Basketball, football (Peter: You mean Gridiron? That sport wherey, and Halo 3 growing up, then League of Legends for a while and now wargaming. This is probably the most invested I’ve been in a thing, though. The camaraderie of the community makes it easy to keep coming back.
JB: You boys in Texas have a pretty big community, and when we met, you and others from that community were very welcoming. Do you think that’s what makes you enjoy AOS more than the other hobbies you have done
GG: Thanks dude, you Georgia fellas are alright too, I guess. Yea, no matter what the game state is, the community consistently makes it a blast to travel and hang out.
JB: What do you think is an important step in becoming a competitive player? What advice would you give somebody wanting to play at that next level
GG: The most consistent thing I’ve noticed in other players that consistently do well is an obsession with the game. There are so many moving parts in AoS, and those parts are constantly changing, so it takes an obsessive person to learn and relearn the game as it evolves. Surrounding yourself with other great players and consistent practice also helps a ton.
JB: I know you’re getting ready for worlds, I would assume you’re getting to practice against some of the best. How much does that shift your focus while still playing in events?
GG: Practice for worlds has priority, and as it gets closer, I’ve scaled back my travel to focus on it. When I do get out to events lately, it’s been experimental things, and I’ve tried to start enjoying the hangout more(Tried being the keyword). After Worlds, I’ll probably readjust goals.
JB: Speaking of goals, did you plan on dominating the best in faction class, or was it more playing what was fun
GG: One of the things I wanted to do better at this year was focusing on a few factions, as in 2021, I felt like I had played too many (11 or 12, I believe). Daughters of Khaine have always been my favorite faction, and Seraphon has mechanics that I really enjoy the playstyle of (Yes, they are also strong). I missed out on best Gitz, though…
JB: Can we expect a repeat this season?
GG: In approach to army choice, I think so, yea, I have less time to allocate to the AoS this year and will be more selective of when I travel. As far as ITC, there are a ton of really talented people gunning for placements. I look forward to seeing everybody at upcoming GTs and competing, though!
JB: Gavin, thank you so much for your time. I just have one last question for you. What advice could you give to our readers that are just starting out in the hoppy
GG: If you’re already thinking about tournaments, my advice is just go and see what it’s like. The community is fantastic and very welcoming. Once you go, you can really decide what it is that you want from Aos, and there is plenty more available than just the competitive aspect. If competitive is your thing, find other like-minded people and enjoy the ride. Thanks for having me!
JB: It was our pleasure, and I look forward to seeing how the season shapes out for you. Good luck at Worlds, and I’ll see you on the tables!
It’s been a while since I last published a General Speaking, but I think you’ll agree it was worth the wait. I was lucky enough to speak to Daughters of Khaine supremo Joshua Bennett!
We’re also doubly lucky because Josh recently agreed to join the team and feed us some comments for the Daughters of Khaine lists that pop up, as well as doing his own interviews with other big name players around the world.
Events in 22-23 Pitched Battles (Season 1 and 2): 6 Game Wins: 21.5 (Draws counting as 0.5 wins and 0.5 losses) Game Losses: 7.5 Win Rate: 74.1% Woehammer Ranking Points: 688.4 North America Woehammer Ranking: 36th Worldwide Woehammer Ranking: 65th
Events (Sorted by Woehammer Ranking Points):
The Outlaw Open
Las Vegas Open 2023
Epic Level Showdown
Nashcon GT 2022
Mighty Meeple AoS GT
Peter: Thank you for agreeing to the interview! I guess we should start by asking how long you’ve been into wargaming?
Joshua: Hi thank you for having me. I would say that i have been into wargaming for about two years now. was always a video game kinda guy and my little brother begged and begged me to come out and try AOS. I finally went out to a local gaming store in the area, I tried it out and fell in love with it. And me being the type of person that doesn’t just dip my toes into something, I dove all the way into the hobby. I started out just like everyone else, finding an army that I thought looked really cool and getting my butt kicked a lot. Then I started off with local RTT’s and just wanted more.
Peter: So has it been the Daughters of Khaine for you since you started or have you been lured by other factions as well?
Joshua: No actually, I started with Flesh eaters. I really loved the look of them when I first saw them. Turnouts when I started playing them it was the time of the big smash bat . I had so much fun with them. Then I started playing in local RTT’s and actually getting to see different armies. I started to then play Nurgle because I thought they were awesome. I was super excited because I had a really good list that was destroying the local meta. I was going to go to LVO that year with my one drop 55 blight king list…. Covid said no lol…. then the GHB came out and I couldn’t play my blight king list anymore, so I picked up the Daughters because Morathi looked amazing. Turns out I was pretty good with them..
Peter: Pretty good! You’re being modest! Will you be sticking with them for the new GHB?
Joshua: It all depends. For a team format i think DOK is still very strong. But for the GT standpoint i think it looses some of its punch. I have been playing around with Beast of Chaos and then the Dinos. I guess we shall see what we look like after the books.
Peter: Do you have any lists in mind for the new season? A better question would be, how do you approach list building? Do you focus around units you like or do you look at units that can achieve certain strategies for you? Or perhaps something else?
Joshua: Right not i am working with beast of chaos and dinos. waiting till their new books come out. As far as list building i build a list with the idea of of does best to counter most the current meta. You can build a list to beat everything but if you build a list to counter most then your just hoping for a good dodge of the list that are horrible matchups. When i build list i am not building a 5-0 list because those just don’t exist . 5-0 list are 4-1 list with really good matchups. I go into the event with the knowledge that if i get paired against this list i loose, or really have to outplay my opponent. I also try to design list that do well with most of the missions because they play a big part in the game as well.
Peter: I believe you’re lucky enough to be in the same club as some of the top players in the US? How much do you all discuss the game, tactics and events? Are there any fun rivalries?
Joshua: Yeah we are lucky to have some very top notch players in the club. If you ask my fiancé i discuss the game way to much! hahahaha. We theory craft and list craft everyday, but no so much for us but for the newer players we have in the club. We have a lot of players that are not into the tournament scene as much as other and that want to be competitive. Our club is focused on growing the scene so the more experienced players take a lot of time with coaching games and walk throughs of list. Our goal is for everyone that wants to be at a competitive level can be and we help them achieve their goal. So we put a lot of effort into that then whatever time is let we work on our list for the next event.
Peter: I’ve asked this to a few players now, but what’s your key to maintaining focus over a tournament weekend?
Joshua: Well for me it’s not hard.. I’m a combat vet so I almost hyper focus on anything I do as it is. This game is actually a way I clear my head and it calms me down. People thought I was crazy when I did a invitational,gt and a rtt all in the same weekend….
Peter: What would your best piece of advice be for someone looking to start in AoS competitively
Joshua: First and foremost, this is a game meant to entertain us. If your not having fun no matter what the outcome then we aren’t doing it right. Secondly just know competitive play is as much about knowing your army (while that’s important). It’s also knowing your opponent’s army. Having the basic idea of what’s coming at you so you can counter.
Peter: You have a high ITC ranking, how much do you take note of various player Rankings and what benefit (if any) do you believe they add to the competitive scene?
Joshua: Itc is really cool. At first i was fixated on it. I wanted to be the top for my faction and was for awhile. But once i started to get to know the top players its started not to matter anymore, and the games became less pressure and more about having fun. but it does spark some very friendly rivalries between friends.
Peter: Joshua thank you so much for you time and agreeing to speak to us. All the best for the coming season!
Events: 7 Wins: 31.5* Losses: 5.5* Win Rate: 85.1% Current World Woehammer Ranking: 6th Current UK & Ireland WoehammerRanking: 1st
*In our Woehammer stats we count all draws as 0.5 wins and losses
Phil, thank you for talking to me and firstly a massive congratulations on your Age of Sigmar (Best Overall) win! That seemed pretty wild, heading out to the US to compete in a such a prestigious competition! How did you find it?
Thanks! It was all pretty surreal to be perfectly honest with you, there wasn’t much communication that there was a way for any of us in the UK for qualifying for the US Open so it came as a massive surprise when I got the email come through. To be invited is one thing, but to be informed that Games Workshop were covering my flights and accommodation was equally unexpected. The resort that they hired out in Santa Ana Albuquerque was simply amazing, the views, the amenities were all second to none. With that being said I wasn’t there to soak in the joys of what the resort had to offer and I certainly didn’t help myself by having to play 7 games of Warhammer in 2 days! I really enjoyed the structure of the event with the 2 loss knockout system, meaning you were still in with a chance of taking out the event until you suffered your second loss. What was interesting was the rankings were done on ITC seedings, in the UK we don’t really follow the ITC so I was the lowest ranked seed in my category. This meant my game 1 I had to play against the number 1 ranked seed in my category which was Team Americas Matt Beasley. We had a great game which I ended up losing by 1VP, which meant if I was to win the event I would need to win all of my remaining games. As a result on the Saturday I was now scheduled to play 8.00am to midnight. Thankfully, I managed to get the wins required in my remaining 3 games to see me through to the Sunday and a rematch with Matt in the morning. I managed to take out the rematch winning by 7Vps. This led me to taking on the legendary Scooter Walters who was still unbeaten meaning I had to take him out twice in a row. Game 1 I managed a big win in Realmstone Cache (26-2), we then played a much more even scenario in the Nidus Paths and we had a great game of warhammer which could have closer resembled a chess game. The game ended 28-20 to me, meaning I was crowned Best Overall for 2022 which is a pretty cool achievement to do considering I didn’t start playing competitively until September last year. It was also amazing to meet all the other AoS players that were at the event that I have been following and interacting with on Twitter and was great to put names and faces and build better relationships with these people in the hobby. Finally, a massive shout out to Mike and Zach who put the event on deserve massive credit for the way the event was organised and ran. We all got some call memorabilia to remember our trip. As they said during the event, it doesn’t matter how we did, we had already won by being invited (obviously I didn’t spend 27 hours traveling not to go out there without the intent of bringing it home). They have great plans to expand this in future years so hopefully we will see more people from the UK heading over and making sure the crown remains in British hands. Fingers crossed I will manage to qualify to either retain it myself or try and take out best general.
Wow, that’s incredible! You never know, you may be doing this every year!
Seven games over two days is a tough shout. We heard from Jeremy Veysseire on his methods for maintaining focus over a gaming weekend, but what are your methods. How do you keep yourself mentally focused on what you need to do?
I am quite different to most wargamers, I don’t drink any alcohol at events (boring I know), I like to feel very fresh each day and keep myself hydrated. I always tend to find, I like to get to the event nice and early, being the first player to the table and get it all set up. I don’t like the feeling of being rushed so I do all these little things to alleviate that prior to the game. The next things is whilst playing is that I try to only focus on the elements of the game that I can control, you have to take the dice out of it. By focusing on you and your game, it will allow you to think a few turns ahead and have a game plan for when priority either goes your way or against you. I think the most important thing I have learnt which I believe to be the biggest by-product of my consistency on the table top is the ability to know your opponents army as well as your own or at least have a very clear understanding of how that army likes to play and what they need to do to win, I have been very fortunate to play at a lot of top tables over the last 15 months and learnt a lot about a lot of armies from top tier players. This all helps with the pre game focus for me, it helps give me a clear mind set and plan of action that I need to execute.
There’s a rumour among the Woehammer team that you’re an accountant? Do you use your spreadsheet skills and organisation from this in Age of Sigmar, and how do you approach list building?
Haha yes, the rumours are true. If you don’t find me at a Warhammer table you will most likely find me in excel. This season I took the time to make myself a tracker for age of sigmar, I played a lot of games last year and wish I had kept a record of how many. With that being said, I have managed to play 134 games this year, with 120 wins, 12 losses and 2 draws. Whilst its nice to be able to breakdown what I have played against and the scenarios I have played, it doesn’t really offer much benefit from a singles point of view as there is so much variety at a singles event from potential scenarios and match ups. However, for teams Warhammer it enables me to provide an informed opinion based on personal statistics when completing the matrix for match ups and scenarios. For example I know based on playing realmstone cache 9 times this year, with 5 of those at events I have a 100% win rate in this scenario with an average differential of 20VPs with my Slaves to Darkness. On the flip side of this, I know based on my statistics that I have a 0% win rate against Sylvaneth in Close to the Chest and Silksteel nests, this allows us to know that these scenarios aren’t great for me, even if I believe the list to be beatable as they can win by just playing the primary better than I can. I love pivot tables I so use these and pivot graphs to slice and dice my data in a far more readable format, otherwise its just a sheet of data. There are some things I want to add to this next year, including a small synopsis of what the bulk of the list was, any key take aways from the game (things I thought were strong in opponents army, where I won the game and where I lost the game).
I also use excel in my list building to work out damage out put against units with varying saves and probabilities of getting plays off etc. With this information it allows me to build lists that I deem to be strong and then test them on the table top to make sure that they suit the way I play and that I feel the output is mirrored to what the numbers tell me.
So using spreadsheets and analysing the damage outputs, is this the main way you construct your lists?
Yeah, I essentially use it after I have worked out what models I want to use and then work out the ROI essentially. Then there are other factors such as movement etc that need to factored in afterwards. I dont tend to use models that I dont like, as an example, I never used marauders despite actaully making the list better, with an 83% chance of casting mask of darkness with master of magic and a 99% liklihood of sucessfully charging gave the list a much bigger threat turn 1. However, despite the numbers stating this unit was better for the way in which I like to play, I refused to paint the models as I didnt like them and I also felt that Varanguard benefited my playstyle more than the maraduers.
That’s awesome, I suspect you and I could talk spreadsheets for hours, so probably best to move on haha.
A lot of other players have spoken to have mentioned how practice is a key factor to success. Has there been a certain point after so many games where you thought ‘I’ve got this sorted now and I feel pretty confident’?
Obviously the best way to learn the minutia of the way in which you and your army like to play is by getting a lot of reps in with it and that’s the thing i would most likely put down to my success on the tabletop over the last 12 months. I got to the point probably after 3/4 months of playing Archaon religiously that I didn’t feel I need to practice with him anymore at club etc. I played an obscene amount of games and tournaments with him and was extremely consistent with the way in which I deployed, counter deployed and the plays I had against both good and bad match ups. This then allowed me to play with other armies during the week and learn how they like to be played which ultimately gave me a much better understanding when playing against them at events. Despite playing lots of varying armies, I was still taking Archaon to events and being very consistent with my results with him.
I feel that despite not having played with Archaon since LGT, I could pick up my list, go to an event tomorrow and would feel I could play it to a level where I have a chance of taking out the event.
Looking forward to the end of the year and new year, what are your plans AoS wise? Will you be sticking with the Slaves for now or do you fancy playing any other factions?
I’ve got a very busy year planned already to be honest with you! Starting off with going to LVO in January which I’m super excited for and can’t wait to meet all the Americans, Canadians and other nationalities of people I interact with on Twitter a lot. After that I have two tournaments a month in the build up to worlds which im buzzing to be representing England for.
The plan is to play as much slaves to darkness as possible. It’s my happy place, where I call home in this wonderful world. I have lots of lists that I’m wanting to get on the table top from both a teams and singles perspective. There are so many options in the new book which I think will keep playing with the fresh and exciting! My mates may not think so when I continuously run my next idea of filth into them for testing.
With all this being said, I have little interest in playing the old book now, so for a lot of events I need the new book to come out and a FAQ for the book to be legal for competitive play. If events don’t allow the new book I think I might have some fun and play some FEC gristlegore or maybe 11 dragons.
Our own Randal Brasher states the other day that he though all the top 3 lists at the Leicester GT would get beaten 10 times put of 10 by the Ogor 4x Ironblaster list.
Have you had to face them yet, and if you haven’t, how would you go about beating them?
The Ogre Iron Blaster list is a great list now that will be sure to shake things up. The KOTET list I ran at Leicester I would back to beat it to be honest, but I would need to make 1 change and go into a 2 drop. Would still look to give turn 1 away, hide my key pieces with terrain from the long range shooting of the ironblasters. I am then looking to save stake 1 unit and get all the rerolls up. Depending on mission this would either be the general if I can realistically get into grots turn 1 or if I am relying on teleporting it will be my other unit. Once there and the very real threat of VG in their deployement, turn priority can go 1 of 2 ways – I would look to give away as I know with plus 4 to save re-rolling 1s the chances of taking any damage is minimal, not likely to kill a single varanguard. If I have the turn, with finest hour, warshrine potential buff I belive the maths states that being on a 3+ re-rolling 1s against 40 shots at rend 2 damage 2 and the other option of 8 shots at rend 3 damage d3+3 I am looking at taking 10 damage, so 9 with ward from warshrine. Which kills 1 varanguard. Most Blasters tend to be lobbied together and with a double fight I would expect two blasters to be gone as a minimum.
With all this being said, its a much different story for the new slaves to darkness due to the save stacking. However, there are some tricks if shooting really becomes the meta. We have the Tzeentch banner which gives a 4+ ward against shooting to a unit, whoch for me would be a unit of 10 knights. You still play for the double and look to outdrop. 10 Knights will clear the gnoblar screens and have decent reliability with getting into combat. with demonic speed allowing to charge 3d6 changing the lowest dice to a 4, that combined with leviatate, you could bypass the screen in its entirety and just lift a chunk of ironblasters. Be interesting to see how common the list is in the UK and its something I am wanting to play test against as much as possible.
Great stuff Phil, thank you for your time and agreeing to speak to us again. Hopefully we’ll meet at some point in the future
Following on from our conversations with Randal Brasher and Baz Norman Jr, we’re back in North America this week and talking to Jeremy Veysseire.
Jeremy has appeared in so many top three list articles over the last year I’ve lost count of his GT wins and podiums!
Jeremy Veysseire – The Stats
Events: 6 Wins: 29 Losses: 2 Win Rate: 93.5% Current World Woehammer Ranking: 3rd Current North America Woehammer Ranking: 2nd Current US Woehammer Ranking: 2nd
Thank you for agreeing to the interview Jeremy! Those who follow Woehammer’s Top Three Lists are used to seeing your name at on the podium many times a year! But what we want is how did this all begin? When did you start playing Warhammer and when did you start playing competitively?
Thanks for having me on first off. and to get right into it with your question. I was 9 years old (so 28 years ago) when I got my first boxset of Warhammer miniature boxset (the Lizardmen and Brettonian one) and it was a bribe from my parents when we moved from Paris France to Palo Alto California as I did not want to leave my entire extended family and didn’t really want to move to a country that I barely understood the language. My grandfather is a collector of Napoleonic & World Wars miniatures and I hung out a lot with him watching him assemble and paint them so I guess they thought it would be a good bribe but little did they know it would dictate so much of my life going forward haha.
I started playing competitively after I graduated from University and moved to Portland Oregon, I had an income from my new job and noticed that that the Pacific Northwest that I lived in had a vibrant Warhammer tournament scene as I got back into the hobby full time after University. Of course for me those days were mostly Warhammer 40,000 as this was the days of 5th edition and it culminated in my first ever east Coast GT being Nova Open. I ended up 3rd there with Sisters of Battle at the onset of 6th edition. Eventually Frontline Gaming started their own event called Bay Area Open which then created the proto circuit now known as ITC and I was hooked. While I never won ITC for 40k, I did get close a few years running. When 8th edition dropped for 40k, I remember going to the first GT in the US with Index Harlequin and losing only to a Blood Angel army that had nothing but Flyers/Planes and thats when I saw the writing on the wall for me and 40k. And its also when the first General’s Handbook came out which gave AOS the structure it needed for me to become a full convert. I swapped to it and never looked back.
A fellow convert! Did your experience of list building and competitive play in 40k transfer over to Age of Sigmar?
To an extent, at the time the game systems were fairly different in how you would achieve a win. Most 40k players I believe look at the double turn potential in AoS as the primary different reason for that but in my experience, the games approach the win condition very differently. I started out in competitive AoS with Ironjawz and got my ass handed to me by 1.0 Tzeentch over and over and while that army at the time was just this powerhouse of just straight ability to remove your models off the table, I noticed that all my losses were always because I kept trying to feeling like I had to kill the threats that killed my army which is usually at the time a good 40k tactic but in AoS it turns out doing that meant I was always giving my opponent the ability to maximize his output versus making him have to take risky position to get into effect while retaining superior board state.
Eventually, I transitioned to 1.0 Fyreslayer which grew from my experience early and I was luckily blessed with a new tome when 2.0 dropped and it greatly rewarded that type of approach to the game. Age of Sigmar is a game that rewards board positioning more than anything, be it you are a super shooty or super melee army. If you choose to be super shooty or fighty, at the end of the day winning the game wasn’t so much about waht you could kill but where you could kill it. Had a really good year with 2.0 Fyreslayer, I think I had a 95% winning rate with them in 5 Roung GTs, went to the final at LVO against pre nerf 2.0 Slaanesh and the game was pretty close, but with that finish at LVO it assured me my first place finish in ITC and best Fyreslayers.
I do want to point out to the audience, that I do not think AoS or 40k is better than one or the other. I played both competitively for a long time and still play 40k today a bit but I personally prefer AoS (who knows now that Leagues of Votann is out, yes I am a Dwarf guy. Ungrim Ironfist is one of my favorite characters from the old world) because the game currently is one of the best its ever been. I will say that I find that the experience and skills I have learned from AoS today have translated very well into the games of 40k I do play and as the games keep moving towards a rule singularity like they are maybe one day being a great player at one also means being great at the other, who knows.
You mentioned your win rate of 95%. By my calculations you’re at 93.5% this season after 6 GT’s. That’s insane! 29 wins and just 2 losses. What’s they key around your army lists to give you such success? How do you go about constructing a tournament winning list?
Honestly, the percentage is a point of pride but also I fully admit its a bit silly. Fyreslayers in 2.0 were perfectly designed for that edition and nowadays I am more going into the hobby with a bit less severity. I think I played probably close to 300 games in and outside of tournaments with 2.0 Fyreslayers and I believe I won more coin flips than my opponents when the game came down to that in 2.0. Today, I am playing KO, Legion of Blood, NoMorathi DoK, 6 Grimwrath and Gotrek FS and taking a lot more of what I think is cool and interesting but still follows some core design philosophy with how 3.0 Winning dynamism works.
KO is just good nowadays because so many Battle Tactics in Season 2 of 3.0 reward you for killing things without always being on max primary points, Legion Of Blood is an army that can just punish aggressive armies and dictate the rules of engagement in the center of the board while still scoring BT, NoMorathi does the same but with more punch and arguably less durability/attrition play and then there is my Gotrek and Grimwrath list which is more of an army this about trying something different. Honestly, I took it for the NOVA invitational because I wanted play something that was fun and since the event was single elim and that I would be playing potentially be playing 15 games at NOVA (4 games at the invitational, potentially 8 at the GT and 3 at the RTT) and the weekend before I just had a 5 round GT so 20 games in 1 week but man did that backfire. I ended up winning the invitational with it and making it to round 6 of the GT with NoMorathi and played all 3 RTT games with NoMorathi so 18 games, I had hit Warhammer Fatigue. But back to the original topic at hand, why play that Grimwrath and Gotrek list outside of fun, it is honestly pretty good in the current format because it has a lot of diversified threats and the fight of death gives you the ability to get any value out of them and the double activations gives you trade up value plus the ability to activate at the end of the combat vs strike last means you can use that toolkit to lock up units into combats and rob them of their plan to do what they wanted with them the following turn.
I struggle with 3 games over a weekend, 20 in one week must be a huge ask. Do you have any methods for keeping your focus?
Oh god, well I have methods that I should apply more often than not ahahah. When I was younger, getting drunk day 1 and sleeping only 4 hours the night of, was no issue with focus and play but now as I get older, I notice that method is really not helping anymore. Nowadays, while I still drink (Scotch Single Malt preferably, thanks) during my games if we are allowed, I do have more reservation about how much. I try to drink a lot water nowadays on and off the table and try to sleep 7-8 hours during the event and most importantly go into the event with zero to little sleep debt. When I “coach” newer tournament players, I try to educate them about tournament fatigue. The idea that there is no way you can play all of these games at max mental acuity and physical one as well especially when the game is so social; as in people aren’t just there to game, they want comradery, they want to share moments with new strangers/friends over our ridiculous game. The way to deal with it is in 2 ways, at the table and off the table, at the table there is always the rule of have as much fun as you are afforded be it your own personal energy level and what is your opponent energy level but make sure you don’t tunnel on the bad things that happen and same for the good things, never lose focus on scoring points and don’t seek some personal vendetta on a unit you feel deserves to die, etc… Just have fun, score points and try to do it without having to kill things at the table. When you can do that effectively well, then you can start adding the new complexity to that and that is: How can you do that now and next turn with the decisions you are making now, and keep moving the time horizons as you get more comfortable with that. The off the table is really about people’s own preference but as I mentioned earlier that knowing what your limit is very important. While its important to win don’t forget to have fun, god I sound a like a lame Dad.
No! That’s great advice that I think many of us forget mid game. You must face many new players who have recognised your name on the tournament circuit, have you found that this recognition affects their game judgement? I guess what I’m trying to say is, do mind games come into it very often?
Yes, I had a few events where people recognize me and yes there is sometimes some self defeatism that happens at the table but I often remind my opponents especially the newer ones on how to go about either defeating a combo of mine or how to approach the game with of course as many mulligans as they want to take as long as we have not moved too far into the game. The issue is that some players either rise to the moment or fold perhaps because they don’t trust that I would give away pointers to my detriment or because they want to prove me wrong. I fully recognize its pretty condescending for someone to approach a table and offer up advice in a competitive environment as if they know that empowerment of their opponent is somehow not able to beat the cocky player. But the reality is that I play so many games where I am trying to coach people outside of events that I find that I just revert to that. I get a lot more value out of a game where my opponent grows in skill during the game as much as me facing a challenging new paradigm. Most folks forget that top players can suffer from impostor syndrome and my way of tackling it is by trying to maximize my opportunities into playing what I consider good or better players than I. I too want to become better than what I am today and elevating everyone’s game even mine is an important reason why I go to competitive events.
Regarding mind games, I do not try to engage into it too much but I know some folks I play regularly who joke that I own real estate in their mind. My type of mind games is maybe playing or designing armies which are maybe a bit off meta I guess. I do love the call out videos and the bit of jabbing that happens here stateside between the teams and players because its just good ol fun but I know some folks could consider them a form of mind game. I think the only mind games that end up affecting players is they one they give power to. I have seen it, folks who approach a game versus Bill Souza and just give up before the first roll happens and it breaks my heart. That player would have gotten so much more value from the game against Bill in growth and learning if he went about it with a winning attitude and heck people like me and Bill can lose. Queue: “If it bleeds, we can kill it”
If you could give advice to new tournament players what would it be?
Outside of making sure you give yourself the proper expectation how mentally tiring and how its hard to keep the same level of play after 5 games and a night out, my biggest advice to new players is to come to an event with achievable goals. Some players like a ratio of wins to losses but I prefer more of things related to the game such as: “Not dropping a Battle Tactic.” or “Sequencing combat activations correctly” or “Did I always make sure to pile in advantageously?”. I find that while everyone wants to go to events for games and the overall communal experience, its also nice to go for a more personal reason such as making sure you are getting some growth out of it. I personally attend tournaments to hope to play against certain players as a way to learn how to improve my game in those situations. Finally, tournaments are fun but you will always get what you put into them; meaning that if you choose to go there for just games, you will get that, if you go to improve your games, you will get that and if you go there to have fun, you will have fun and if you are transparent and obvious about those things, you will find that people will put the same energy into the game.
Jeremy, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you, thank you. All the best for the remainder of the season!
Following on from our conversation with Randal Brasher last week, we hop over the pond and catch up with Baz Norman Jr in the UK.
Baz is well known and liked in the UK tournament scene pushing his Daughters of Khaine across tables along the length and breadth of England. But what makes him tick, and how did he start out?
Baz Norman Jr – The Stats
Events: 6 Wins: 23 Losses: 7 Win Rate: 76.7% Current World Woehammer Ranking: 48th Current European Woehammer Ranking: 16th Current UK Woehammer Ranking: 14th
Baz! Thank you for talking to me. So, my first question is when did you start wargaming and what drew you into the hobby and competitive gaming?
I started my journey with the Games Workshop brand at 4th edition in 1994 when I was around 12. The draw of fantasy battles of dragons, goblins, dwarves, elves and magic was what brought me into it.
Over the years I dipped in and out of the hobby, never fully leaving it. Aged 18 I joined the armed Forces and this saw the longest gap to be fair.
Combinations of work and personal life meant I didn’t really get into the hobby until a couple of years ago now, and I then only really started the tournament scene after getting invited to join The Warrior Lodge club in November 2021. My first event was later that month where I went 1-4. It was then, the tournament bug bit.
So going from 1-4 to frequenting the podiums on multiple occasions. What made the difference?
After going 1-4, Tom Patton from our club (The Warrior Lodge) kind of took my under his wing and I’ve got him to thank really for helping me get started on this journey. This, coupled with practice games against many other players, such as Mike Stewart, Sam Kimberly and playing at events saw my skill level increase.
2022 I wanted to fully immerse myself into the tournament scene to get the practice in, not only to get better at the game, but also to thrive in the social aspect of the hobby.
Any events that I could attend, I would. 1 dayers, two 1 dayers back to back, 2 dayers, any and all. The tournaments are an excellent ways of getting to know people, and its really nice to be able to catch up with people you’ve not seen for a couple of months or so, plus not to mention the nights away with mates. Outside of the tournament scene, I regularly do demo and intro games for other new people into the hobby.
So in a nutshell, reps, reps, reps. I believe you are only as good as the players you player against personally, and if you want to improve, you have to push to play the big names in the game.
You mentioned about competing in one dayers and two dayers and even back to back one dayers. Does your approach and lost building change depending on the type of event?
When I started practicing with the Daughters, my list did change as 1 dayers in particular are a great way of getting some ‘test’ games in, however once I had honed in what I was going to run and my skills improved, I now use 1 dayers as a way to get some chilled games in so I run one of my other armies Ive got, such as Slaves to Darkness, Giants or more likely my Gitz….. which are soon to be a top tier army! 😉
You’ve probably seen the rules for S2D. Thought of any good lists?
Like many others, ive seen some leaks for S2D, all of which I think are quite tasty tbf! The GT’s are now achievable and the Eye of the Gods table will certainly add some curveballs. There is still play with Archaon and Varanguard for sure, but I also feel you will see more Chaos knights and Chaos Warriors (especially with the Bringers of Desolation ability) on the table….might even see Chosen now they can dish out MWs in addition to their attacks!
You’re a big Daughters of Khaine fan, can you break down the key to playing them well, for others interested in the faction?
My first collection of models when I started was Dark Elves and currently this faction is the closest, so that resonates with me, but they also play very well into my play style. I like to have something to do in every phase, rather than just dominating in 1, such as the hero phase, and my list (in particular) does this for me. As with most factions, you can semi-tailor your sub allegiance abilities and unit take, to fit into your play style.
Most of the units in the army are referred to as ‘glass cannons’, they can dish out a lot of attacks and with a buff or two they can do a devastating amount of damage. But they die to a stiff breeze, so if you havent done the damage before they die, thats the unit potentially being taken off the table, so thinking several moves if not turns ahead is key. Doing this for your own army is great, the difficulty comes (this is where the reps gives dividends) is knowing how and what the opponents army can do as a reaction.
Having a God character like Morathi is good, however she will still die and when she does die, the earliest being bottom of turn 2. It leaves a big 680 pt hole in your army, not to mention a decent hero phase and the buffs she gives out, but all is not necessarily lost when she dies.
If you’re interested in the faction then speak to someone who plays them, and get a game in with them, I’ve not got any issues with people using mine to see how they feel before making the big investment themselves.
When you’re looking at building a new list, what’s your approach to it? Do you focus on one unit and build up or is it a specific trick?
When building a list, I want to ensure firstly that I’ve got play in each phase, so I can act and react accordingly. Secondly, battle tactics, ensuring that you can achieve as many battle tactics as possible, as they score you points.
Then its a case of bringing units together that can complement each other and work well together and have strengths in each phase. I know some players do think about points worth, but thats something I’m starting to consider.
With the ability to have allies etc you have the flexibility to bring in other factions units into your army that maybe your army doesn’t naturally have.
All this experience comes down to practice, watching other games and armies and talking to players 🙂
Do you have any other GT’s organised under the current season?
Music to my ears! Lol
I’m going to War in the Heartlands Act 2 next weekend which I’ve been told is a big event, so am looking forward to that, but after that, ive got the GAF 2 dayer in Hull and then, Teams Carnage in Stokeport hosted by the legend that is Alex. December, ive only got the 1 event in atm (boo!) but thats a double event at Sanctuary with Dice N Ducks.
2023 is filling up nicely though already! 6 events booked so far!
Baz, as always, it’s an absolute pleasure talking to you and I look forward to meeting you at the Woehammer GT!
General Speaking is a new series on Woehammer, that focuses on the mentality of competitive gamers in Age of Sigmar. How did they start their hobby journey and what kind of thought process goes into their list creation?
This week I talk to Radal Brasher who so far under the current General’s Handbook. Randal has walked away with a 4-1 at the Outlaw Open in July with Kharadron Overlords and a 3-2 at Hammerfest with Cities of Sigmar.
Randal Brasher – The Stats
Events: 2 Wins: 7 Losses: 3 Win Rate: 70% Current World Woehammer Ranking: 278th Current North America Woehammer Ranking: 151st Current US Woehammer Ranking: 136th
Randal! Thank you for talking to me. I’d like to start by getting a little background to your wargaming history for everyone reading. When did you first start wargaming and what drew you into the hobby?
I got started with Wargaming in 1988 at the ripe old age of 11. I was an avid TTRPG player growing up in a small, conservative town in Texas, my father thought he could refocus my attention to a more wholesome hobby. Namely giant robots blowing each other up. I dabbled with it as a teenager even traveling to some conventions to play, including GenCon in 1993, which diverted my attention to Magic: The Gathering.
Much later in 2001 I got into Warhammer Fantasy Battles playing Bretonnians and Empire in 6th edition and played that for several years until the Bretonnians got their book and they nixed my beloved wedge formations. I dabbled a bit in 40k in 5th and 6th editions, but mostly my hobby time was mostly spent playing Magic earning myself a couple of Pro Tour invites but I never cashed.
That remained really the extent of my foray into wargaming until the COVID Pandemic where I needed something new to keep me busy. Luckily it was right when the 40k Indomitus box came out, and the low(er) cost of entry dragged me back in. After a year of painting, but not playing 40k with anyone other than my son, I started going to our local gaming shop to get games. What I found was a whole bunch of people playing Age of Sigmar and the few 40k players were not interested in playing anything that wasn’t tournament preparation. The community was awesome and welcoming and that is really what drew me in. After being isolated for so long, I think I wanted to be around people more than I cared about the nature of the game. Thus I pivoted to AoS, picking up Kharadron Overlords with zero knowledge of what the army did or how it played, they were just steampunk dwarfs!
Who doesn’t love Steampunk Dwarves! And more recently you’ve been starting to make an impact on the competitive scene. This season alone you went 4-1 with KO at the Outlaw Open and 3-2 at Hammerfest. What got you into the competitive side of the game?
When I got started in AoS had promised my wife that I wouldn’t get into competitive side of the game and would stick to narrative play, that lasted a month. 😛 I’m a competitive person, it is just part of who I am and we both should have known that narrative play was never going to satisfy me as much as high-level tournament play.
My path to playing competitively was odd in that I started off with a whole bunch of local success. Using KO I managed to take down our local Path to Glory League with a 26-4 record, then went 3-0 and 2-0-1 in my first two tournaments. I think this was actually a bad thing as I got my butt kicked badly at my first GT (Hammerfest 2021). It was really difficult to take a step back and realize that I was still a newbie, and that my success was more due to luck than any skill on my part. I thankfully had a wonderful team around me in the Austin Weirdnobz with some of the top players in Texas to help me work through it. Guys like Matt Robisch, Eli Ramos, and Macro Hernandez, who are perpetual 4-1 bracket or better players.
So what was the change between those first few GT’s that you attended and the success you garnered later on? Was there a particular piece of advice you received or was it the way in which you prepped that made the difference?
I kept trying to force my KO list into situations where it was not well positioned and it did not end well. There was a joke going around that Hammerfest 2021 wrecked me as I went 1-2 or 1-1-1 in every local tournament through the end of the year. The only other GT I played in was the Austin Open where I took the exact same list from Hammerfest and dug out a 3-2 but did not leave feeling like I did a good job. In spite of my club doing what they could to get me prepared I was not in the right mental space to understand what I was doing wrong (which was nothing). There is an inherent randomness to wargames and our place in it is to mitigate that randomness. The tools we have available are fairly limited in that respect as well: perfect play, solid lists, practice, but in the end the dice are still the masters of the day. In spite of decades of playing various games that have randomness baked in, dice games have always been tough for me to accept. I am a statistician by trade and knowing the probability of things happening really skews you toward bad risk/reward plays.
The best thing that happened during this timeframe was the realization that list building and theory crafting was just as fun as playing and it is where my real skillset lies. Since then I’ve been helping build and tune lists for our locals. It has been awesome seeing my ideas and work take struggling players to winning records and even a few 4-1 finishes where previously they were happy with a 1-4.
You mentioned list building, what is your approach to it? Do you set aside a certain number of points for an anvil or a hammer for example or is it around playing on a certain strength?
It tends to be more holistic rather than a step by step process, but the first step is almost always answering, “What do I want this list to do?” Sometimes that can be as simple as, “Unleash a devastating alpha strike.” or could be as complex as, “Execute this obscure gimmick that will pin my opponent in their deployment zone, while winning the attrition game via stacked bravery penalties.”
When helping others theorycraft it is most important to understand what they want to get out of the list when they play it. Asking the above question is just the ground work so that you do not waste time building something that, “It just wins,” when their goal is really, “Do this awesome thing with this centerpiece model I spent a hundred hours painting.” It can be really hard to get there because often players don’t fully understand themselves what it is they want out of a list, but once you get there they will often build themselves.
For me personally, I am a speed freak, I want go fast and I want to go hard. That plays into my army selection to a great extent, and it’s there if you look at the lists I’ve played. Kharadron, Stormcast Dragons, and eventually Tempest Eye, speed and shooting are the hallmarks of what I want to do.
As for filling in the blanks on list building, I like to find some build around piece, and it’s often not a hammer or an anvil, but force multipliers. In my Tempest Eye lists the Hurricanum is the unit everything keys off of, and the entire army exists to exploit the force multipliers while protecting the boss. In my Stormcast lists it was the Knight Incantor/s who provided a level of counterplay and disruption to how an opponent might want to stop whatever it was that was supporting them.
I think this is a great point, as a lot of people may look at the meta and see a certain army with a 60% win rate and think ‘I should play those, they’re winning all the time’. But, that army may not suit them in their play style or aesthetically.
In a way, the old ‘rule of cool’ really does come into it?
Oh the “rule of cool” is always there, sometimes in the foreground but often just underneath the covers. When working with newer players finding out what they want is so rewarding because it often comes down to finding whatever cool thing they want to do and figuring out how to make it work.
It is fairly easy to make a winning list for most armies, but it is far more difficult to do it and still stick with a chosen theme or gimmick. It does bring up a good side note for this, winning while the desired outcome is often not the only or most important outcome of playing the game. I think it is far more important to play something you enjoy, that you can help your opponents enjoy, and win or lose come out of a game/tournament feeling like something special has happened.
It is hard as a highly competitive player to remember this when you are deep into theorycrafting or actually at a tournament in an intense match-up. I know I struggle with it, especially when the dice have it out for me. In the end we have to remember that the wargaming community is mostly middle-age, middle-class folks pushing around painted dolls, the absurdity of it all means we probably shouldn’t take wargaming too seriously.
Amen! So, you’ve also entered a number of one day events under the new GHB, does your approach to these events differ to that of a two day event?
Sometimes. One day events get separated into two different types. There are casual events where playing whatever is just fine and I’ll often bring whatever sounds fun regardless of how good it is, or how good I think it is. Then there are GT prep tournaments where the goal is to stress test a potential GT list. In the former I’ll often try to test out some silly gimmick or play something so off meta that I get raised eyebrows. My go-to army in those cases is Stormcast Eternals, the army has an absurd number of units and almost endless ally options so you can really have fun with it when the stakes are low. For GT prep it is more business as usual and it is time to bring out the nasty to mercilessly crush the opposition.
As for the current GHB I am not a fan. I think the current GHB is OK, but it really highlights how phenomenal GHB 2021 was for the competitive scene. The new GHB really punishes list building as the battle tactics are often so difficult or narrow that many armies cannot consistently score them even if they are winning. Combine that with missions that do not have separation or catch-up mechanics and games look close even when it is a blowout. This leads to considering ability to complete battle tactics when list building. Let me tell you, doing so sucks away a lot of the silliness and coolness that are fun to bake into lists.
Looking forward to the new season already then? Are you booked into any other GT’s under the current GHB? What are your hopes for the remainder of the season?
I am looking forward to Games Workshop’s promise of a new GHB every six months, but if they do this the quality will need to improve from this season. It is to the point that I am playing in the Slambo GT in two weeks and they are using missions from the last GHB, albeit with the current battle tactics/rules, instead of the current one.
Slambo will be my last GT this year, but locally we are going to do some doubles tournaments, maybe something for charity, and try to get a narrative league started. After Slambo my next big tournament will be LVO, hopefully with a new GHB.
GTs tend to happen in bursts I played in three GTs in two months in June/July this year, missing a fourth in the same timeframe due to COVID. I think that is my limit honestly and the six weeks between Hammerfest and Slambo feels too short to do my due diligence. Next year I think things will end up spread out more as the Texas Masters series will be back to its normal schedule and I intend to limit myself to no more than six in-person GTs.
It’s been a pleasure talking to you, all the best for the coming season!