This year, the Irish team attempted to mitigate this by bringing three “shield” lists, designed to limit the potential loss when bid. These were the Ork Kan Wall, Blood Angels Raider Spam and Eldar Seer Council lists. We also attempted to maximise our gains by bringing two “sword” lists designed to take advantage of the ability to choose your matchups. These were Tyranid Stealer Shock and Dark Eldar Venom Spam. The remaining three lists were generalist in nature, Chaos Lash, Grey Knight Standard and Space Wolf Standard.
Round 1: Ireland vs Finland
We were relatively confident of a good result in the first round. Prior to the tournament, we had run through several mock bidding sessions and realised that whether going first or second, the correct order of bids would leave the Finns with poor matchups.
We lost the roll-off and had to bid first.
1. We bid our Blood Angels and were countered by their similar Blood Angels list. Our defender fulfilled their duty exactly, scoring a 10-10 draw.
2. The Finns bid their Tyranid list and we replied with our Dark Eldar. Our attacker scored a respectable 16-4.
3. We bid our Orks and they put forward their Chaos Space Marines. Again, our defender scored a 10-10 draw.
4. They bid Space Wolves and we threw our Eldar into the fray. He won 16-4.
5. We bid our Grey Knights and they countered with their Black Templars. Once more, a 10-10 draw.
6. They bid their Imperial Guard and we responded with our Space Wolves. A third 16-4 win.
7. The remaining list was our Tyranid player and the opponent was Grey Knights. A 3-17 defeat for the Irish.
8. Their champion was the Orks player and ours was the Chaos player. A 10-10 draw.
Three defending lists managed their perfect results garnering 30 points. Three attacking lists managed solid victories securing 48 points. This was a great result considering the very equal opposition. Our initial belief that attackers should aim for 20-0 was shattered in the face of very good players who didn’t feel like assisting in their destruction. A 16 point win came to represent a solid win rather than an average win.
Thus, the exacting performance by those six lists left us requiring 8 points from two games for a round win. The Tyranids collapsed to a 3-17 loss but the Chaos drew the Champion’s Game to grab an additional 10 points.
As you can see, the sword/shield division wasn’t strictly upheld when it came to the actual pairings and attempting to force our lists into their pre-determined roles would have led to a worse result. Both teams were evenly matched in skills, comparable in list quality and so it was the pairings decided the victor.
I’ll restate that for emphasis, this round highlights the critical importance of generating the best possible match-ups. While never guaranteed, bidding exercises involving the actual ETC lists can help identify certain combinations which the opponent cannot unlock.
After last year’s ETC, the Irish team concluded that the Irish tournament scene could provide players of the calibre required but that an over-arching list design philosophy would be required. This was implemented. For 2012, bidding practice must take equal priority alongside game practice. This is not a task for the captain alone, he needs a variety of opponents to hone his skill against. One man cannot identify all possible combinations.