So bit of a Friday night post here on the eve when Ireland has ousted its current government in favour of another crowd of gobsheens.
But our attention is on much more important things; The Irish Wargaming Meta.
Ireland is unique from other countries in its wargaming meta. Our players tend to be well researched, coordinated in small clubs, scattered throughout the country and, with very few wargaming only events in the country, tend only to meet at University conventions or independent conventions that have wargames tournaments. Quite unlike Ireland’s competitors at the ETC and Home Nations events who’s countries tend to be characterised by massive wargaming events, Games Workshop Games Days, GTs, Independent Wargames Events and national retailers of wargames that are internationally known.
So then it is no surprise that these aspects impact on the Irish Wargaming Meta.
Having so few members in clubs, as seen in the figure below of the current clubs in Ireland that are on the 40k rankings table on Rankings HQ., tends to result in a wide spread of codexes being used with some clubs (WAC and Warheads notably) sharing member’s armies between themselves.
This has its good points of course, learning your own army and sticking to it leads to a familiarity of what you, as a player, can achieve with the tools at your disposal. You know your models’ capabilities and their ranges on a 6’x4′ table to near perfection.
The drawbacks are less obvious to those who may not play in tournaments frequently. Not using other codexes and trying new things can lead to stagnation of the playing environment. It can also result in unfavourable results at tournaments due to not understanding your opponent’s potential with the tools at his/her (Hi Rachael) disposal.
But this is what Ireland has to take to the International field with. Highly experienced, motivated players who are knowledgeable not only in the rules of the game, but their competency as a player and their army.
Now onto our meta.
The armies most typically seen at the top tables are similar to those in other countries;
After which the spread varies somewhat from the typical, Tyranids, Storm Raven Blood Angels, Eldar, Witch Hunters, Dark Eldar etc. (interesting to note that Daemons are the top army in the United Kingdom and are barely represented in our top 20…).
The Imperial Guard list (the top general for this codex being Tristram Hills of the Warheads) tends to feature all of the typical ‘Leafblower’ elements most Imperial Guard lists have:
Command Squad in Chimera, 4xPlasmas, additional officers
A wing of Vendettas
Veterans in Chimeras or mounted in Vendettas
LR Executioner, sponsons
An effective mixture which has lead Hills to victory in two of the smaller Irish tournaments and high placings in other Irish tournaments.
This list will surely see a place on the Irish ETC Team in the coming 6 months (last year it saw use by Kildare’s finest, Cian O’Dowd of the Naas Wargames Fraternity).
The Space Wolves have their best general in the form of Mervyn Murphy (who’s blog you can catch here) of the Wargames Association of Cork. Again we see the international wargames scene’s effect with these top lists in their similarity to tournament winning lists using the same codex the world over.
A Rune Priest with Jaws and Lightning/Storm Caller/Tempest’s Wrath and a Chooser of the Slain
Grey Hunters in rhinos/razorbacks with a wolf guard
Space Wolf Scouts
Thunderwolf Cavalry (not all of these units appear in Mervyn’s lists but these are the units commonly seen sported by other Wolf players on the Irish scene, John Stowe [Dublin Games Guild], Philip (sexy gypsie) Johnston [Dublin Games Guild], Ken Chambers [Unaffiliated to this author’s knowledge], James Jennings [Lisburn Gaming Club])
This is a strong list which, due to its auto trumping of some lists (Tyranids) and ability to hold a draw against tough lists (Imperial Guard) will probably have a likely spot on the ETC Team for Ireland also although it was not represented on last year’s team.
Next up, Orks. Brian McKenzie (Warheads) leads the Waaaaaaaaaaagggghhhhhhhh!!!!! for the Orks this year as their top general in Ireland and a well earned title it is. Brian is (ironically) the prototypical Irish Wargamer; he knows his army well and understands his limits, he is the only Ork player in his club and is well versed in tournament play. Even with the small number of showings at tournaments these traits shine through as McKenzie’s record is impressive with this codex. His prototypical Ork list tends to revolve around a theme of:
Big Mek, KFF
and a squadron of Warbuggies just to give him that edge when turn 5 flat out contesting is required.
This is a strong list and was represented last year by the Wargames Association of Cork’s Jimmy Murphy, and should see a place on this year’s team.
The less typical lists tend to revolve around similar principles to the above lists, hard hitting shooting combined with codex specific nifty tricks or survivable close combat elements that harass and intimidate the enemy from early in the game.
Tyranids for instance revolve around survivability, massive attritional capability with Tervigon spawning and effective shooting against mechanised armies.
Witch Hunters combine high strength, low ap shooting to deal with mech, and template weapons and massed potentially AP1 bolter fire to deal with enemy scoring units along with some nifty tricks for regrouping while falling back from close combat using faith points. In the hands of a good general these ladies can do damage and I have good ideas for them for the ETC so hopefully they’ll have a place like the one they earned under Darragh Cullen of the Dublin Games Guild who brought the ladies to Cardiff last year and also to Germany for the ETC.
Barra MacNiocaill (Warheads) and Pearce Condren (Dublin Games Guild) are both in the top 20 in Ireland using a Storm Raven based Blood Angel list. The list tends to revolve around hard hitting assault units, fast, delicate delivery systems and fast moving scoring units to win its games and it’s an effective combination. Seemingly only hampered by its inability to deliver killing blows early on the game when not going first.
Eldar are up there, and so they should be since their generals is one of the most dangerous players on the island, Michael Tangney of the Dublin Games Guild. If any one man could be given the credit for Ireland Home Nations Victory last year in Cardiff it would have to be Mike for his impossible victories and steadfast draws under the most difficult conditions against some of the toughest matchups possible. His list features all the typical gypsie units required to completely brainmelt your opponent, minimum troops bikes, council in transport, AT, epic survivability and last minute contention to seal crucial victory points.
Chaos Space Marines are still on the scene, and strong too with five Chaos players in the top 30 of the Irish rankings. Each of these lists tends to have a recurring theme of OBLITS OBLITS OBLITS.
There are many aspects of the Irish Gaming community which are closely knit together also, recently a Black Templar ‘Crusade’ has been launched on Ireland by quite a few players high up in the rankings from different clubs. I personally have had a great time being helped along the way by those greats I’ve met from other clubs who shared their experience and knowledge with me to help me improve my game.
The major clubs communicate regularly and a great sense of camaraderie has developed between players (especially after Ireland’s entry into the national circuit as a team). Ironic then that this post is being made at a time when Irish Warhammer Fantasy seems to be suffering a schism of sorts after the 2010/2011 tournament season.
Let’s hope our prosperity continues well into the future and that Ireland can improve its international reputation on the wargaming front this year by hosting the Home Nations and by attending the ETC in Switzerland.
I hope this letter has shown those new to our scene some of its nuances and to those veterans, brought back some good memories of the past 12 months.
Bua nó bás,