I was lucky enough to get to the Iron Moot this year. Here is the story of how I did, the people I met, and the craic I had!
Day 0 – Getting There
The hardest part of flying to play Warmachine & Hordes is packing your bag. Your miniatures are the priority, it’s fitting everything else that’s the problem. Given the relaxed standards of hygiene amongst gamers, you could probably get away with a spare pair of underwear or two and nothing else. For those of us who care about our fellow human beings, some more preparation is required. I was heading to the Iron Moot in Sweden, a three-day convention, with a day either side for travel, so I needed five days’ worth of essentials, plus enough Warmachine stuff for two three-list tournaments and who knows how many side-tournaments and casual games. This took a bit of planning.
I decided to go with lists with as much overlap as possible. I had made the mistake before of constructing three Masters lists that had very little to do with each other, and so had to carry a big carrier bag along with my Battlefoam bag to the Irish Masters. It was miserable, nothing would fit on my tray and getting the models from one place to the other was hell. This time I was boxing smart: no colossals, no battle engines, at least one unit in common between each list. The reason for my caution was that I had hit upon the bright idea of packing my clothes into the top of my Battlefoam case. It’s just like extra foam, and I’m not using the space anyway, right??
My objective in going to the Moot was not to come home covered in glory, so my pre-submitted lists for the Swedish Masters and the Iron Gauntlet didn’t have to figuratively set the world on fire, just literally. I brought three theme forces: Harbinger’s Army of the Righteous, Severius1’s Legions of the Faith, and Feora2’s Defenders of the Temple. Since I have a truly silly amount of Protectorate models, filling these theme forces presented no problems, and there was at least one unit of Temple Flameguard in each, and the warjacks were pretty similar between all three. I also got to bring along some lesser-seen models, like the Flamebringers, the Sanctifier, the Vigilant and the Deliverer Sunburst Crew, for their first real table time. Once everything was in its foam, I still had a good 10” of space left in the bag. Lucky out!
Thanks to Ryanair’s slightly less draconian baggage allowances, I got my Battlefoam bag and my man-bag safely on the plane, and I was away! There are no direct flights from Dublin to Gothenberg, so I stopped in London Stansted for a few hours. There I did what anyone who was on their way to a major tournament would do, I got out my notebook and jotted some thoughts in the hopes that people would notice how intellectual I am.
After four hours or so, the inestimate Dr Norbert joined me, and we shot the breeze for a while before boarding our flight to the lovely city of Gothenberg. A short flight of an hour and half passed, during which I discovered the book which I had bought on my Kindle was not in fact the beginning of the series but the continuation of another. Don’t you just hate when that happens?
Two quick bus rides left us in Backa, nearby our hotel and the Folkets Hus where the Moot would be taking place. We arrived at the Hotel Quality Winn (not a forecast of our performance at the Moot unfortunately), and ran into a rowdy crowd of Scandinavians and Scots in the lobby, sure what other type can you expect when those two demographics are involved? After dropping off our bags we joined the throng and got re-acquainted with some friends old and new. Suddenly it was 1 o’clock in the morning and the day’s travel was bearing down on me, so I took to my Ikea-designed bed and slept the sleep of the just.
Day 1 – Whose Theme Force Is It Anyway?
Up I got the next morning, bushy-headed and watery-eyed, and ready to conquer all. The hotel had a fabulous selection for breakfast, everything from watermelon to pickled herring, stopping off at some delicious smoked rashers and pancakes on the way. The tea left something to be desired, but it always does.
Once I was at the Moot itself, I remembered all the things I had forgotten. Item number one was a tray, but five minutes with a pair of scissors and a cardboard box sorted that out, and I had my customised jagged-edged receptacle for the rest of the weekend. Item number two was a marker, but after a first round where I marked out damage boxes with a biro I managed to beg one off Rickard “King Minion” Nilsson and I was sorted. Item number three was enough wall templates for the Harbinger theme force. I had two, and got another two from the friendly token salesman at the front of the hall. They may have said llaw instead of wall, but they were perfect! The message to take from this episode is not to get disheartened when you’ve left stuff behind. With the appropriate amount of ingenuity and shamelessness, you can probably scrounge what you need from your fellow attendees!
My first round in the Swedish Masters was against Erik Andersson, a Swedish Skorne player. It’s been a long time since I played against any Skorne, so I put down my Feora2 list since I wanted to test it against as much of the field as possible. I had an idea I would play the theme force into everything this weekend, just to see what its good and bad matchups were. Erik played Makeda1, with Praetorian Swordsmen, Incendiarii, Molik Karn, an Archidon and a Gladiator. I’ve fielded it a good few times now, so I was making good use of my infantry, blocking the flags (it was Close Quarters) and not dying too rapidly. The Sanctifier was doing what it was supposed to, gathering souls and breaking skulls. I blocked off charge lanes with the Cleanser cloud, and was generally making the most of things. Then Erik took off the gloves, popped his feat, and Molik Karn and a Gladiator were in Feora’s back arc, showing her that ARM 21 matters not a damn when Beasthandlers are around. So while I thought I was doing well hampering his forces, in reality Erik was just holding back until the optimal moment.
Second game of the Masters I play against Hermanni Raatevaara, a Finnish Legion player more often seen occupying a sauna. To my surprise he was fully clothed, and rocking Absylonia2. I put down my Harbinger theme force for the first time. The first problem was wall placement. The tables at Iron Moot were pretty good for terrain, which meant that placing my walls was stressful. I ended up going for a V-formation, with the table’s original wall in the centre of a row of 3. The second problem was getting over those walls once I had placed them. I ended up doing a lot of lateral charging in this game which was interesting, as the Paladins and Flameguard worked their way from cover to cover. In the end, Hermanni’s force was much more mobile, but Martyrdom kept him from scoring more than 1 point. The Devout can only soak so many shots however, so Typhon shot the Harbinger to death. In other news, his Scythean killed the Avatar without spending any fury. That was something to behold!
With the second round over it was time for lunch, where we had something that I decided was probably ham in a tomato sauce with rice. Lunch is covered in your ticket at Iron Moot, and this year they were running a tuck shop with cheap everything. This meant the weekend ended up costing me about half what I expected, which was a pleasant surprise!
When I was done with lunch I dropped from the Swedish Masters, and registered for the Blood Sweat and Tiers tournament, which was a theme force tournament. This was 35 points, so I spent nearly a half an hour trying to retrofit my Harbinger theme force down to 35 points. I ended up dropping a Reckoner, the Temple Flameguard and one of the Paladins, and taking a Vassal Mechanik. For my other list I brought my Severius theme force with random elements taken out. I was ready!
Day 1 Part 2 – Blood Sweat and Tiers
Something I should mention before I go on. They were running an Iron Arena at the Iron Moot, with some cool prizes like t-shirts, mugs, boosters/boxes and badges. As cool as the t-shirts were, I’ve been a convention-going nerd for nearly a decade now, so my wardrobe is fit to bursting with convention t-shirts. My objective was the mug, and the badge. This way I wouldn’t have to buy my fiancé a present in Gothenberg, and I’d have a cool badge! This meant I had to get to 32 points. I began to form my strategy as I entered the theme force tournament.
You got points for playing people from different countries, up to a maximum of four. I was a free point for my opponents in that respect, but I figured I had a good chance of getting it myself since all of Scandinavia was represented, as well as Scotland, America and Russia. You got points for completing at least one tournament. You got points for playing a non-tournament game each day of the Moot. And finally, the Holy Grail, you got points for playing different amounts of games, to a realistic maximum of 20. That’s what I set my sights on.
I rocked up to the theme force tournament and my first round opponent was…Erik Andersson! This was great, as you so rarely get to play the same opponent twice at a convention. This time the pressure was lessened, so we had a fun game. Erik was playing Mordikaar’s theme force Legions of the Abyss, and I played Severius’ Legions of the Faith because the scenario was Fire Support and I had a Deliverer Sunburst Crew in the list (see what I mean about random elements?). The four Void Spirits in Mordikaar’s theme force with the Void Lord ability are pretty fiendish when they can get a charge off, boosted attack rolls and four damage dice on the charge due to Annihilator does not endear them to the Grand Scrutator!
My next round was against Magnus Wendel, also from Sweden, and playing Mortenebra’s theme force Infernal Machines (Why do Privateer Press re-use names like this? There’s no excuse!) with Deathjack, a Leviathan and two Slayers. I’d never played against Mortenebra before, and I’m not the sort of player who can synthesise a strategy out of just reading rules, so there was nothing for it but to take a swing. I played Army of the Righteous. The scenario was Two Fronts. I realised I could put a wall into my zone, but due to a brain fart I put the Harbinger in the centre rather than in a spot where she could move to dominate my zone. I was already starting to miss the Vassal of Menoth in this list, as the Avatar was removed trivially, and Deathjack with spectral steel cast on it ran around Vilmon and a Paladin, got to Harbinger and that was all she wrote. It was interesting to see a Cryx list that wasn’t afraid at all of my feat!
I went for dinner to the nearby Backa Pizza with some Swedish guys, where I got the most fish-ful pizza I have ever seen. It had tuna, prawns, crab meat and mussels! As nice as this pizza was, I couldn’t get through it. It turns out that when you’ve had a big lunch and you’re drinking all day, you’re not that hungry. I had to admit defeat halfway through, and slunk back to the Folkets Hus.
My third round was against one of the Swedes I had gotten pizza with, Erik Boge playing Morvahna1’s theme force Harvest of Blood. It turns out that lots and lots of single-wound low-ARM infantry don’t like Harbinger’s feat at all. Also Erik was only playing one beast, the Woldwyrd, which the Avatar dealt with pretty handily. This is the risk of bringing one list to a two list event, if I’d been stuck with my Severius list against Morvahna1 I’d be pretty miserable. As it was, I got my first win of the day.
Last round of the theme force tournament was against another Swede, Henrik Gavell, playing Kaelyssa’s beautifully-painted Force Wall theme force. I’d heard about this one, because of all the furor and immediate errata when it first came out. He was playing it with an Arcantrik Force Generator, a Phoenix, a Manticore, some Battle Mages, Artificers, and other things I have forgotten. Due to very unlucky dice on his part, he didn’t kill the Avatar with a charging Phoenix, and a counter-swinging Avatar first killed the Phoenix, then the Manticore, then went on to kill Kaelyssa. The wall templates were hugely helpful in this game, since the Battle Mages couldn’t push the Zealots too far away, and Harbinger had a handy bit of cover from the battle engine, which couldn’t target its true quarry the Avatar because of its unaccountable lack of magical ranged attacks. Another win, and I felt like I was starting to get the hang of Harbinger.
The last game finished up at about 10 o’clock, and there was still plenty of time for hanging around and hijinks, since we were waiting for one of the Scottish guys to finish up before heading back to the hotel. The Iron Arena points were still weighing on my mind, so I took one of the Scots, Michael Dick, up on his offer to play a game with me “at some stage during the weekend”. He had Bradigus Thorle the Runecarver, I had no idea how that would go, so I played the Harbinger as theoretically the strongest ‘caster I had.
Let me tell you, the Wold War theme force is not to be trifled with. I had heard rumours but they don’t live up to the truth of it. It does look like enormous fun to play, and it makes mince meat out of Menoth. Since I didn’t have the energy at this stage to think out a new list I played my Harbinger theme force at 50 points, breaking my mantra that you need all of your tricks to play against Circle Orboros. With the Covenant of Menoth and a Vassal of Menoth, I might have made a fair game of it. As it was, I got to see a skilled player take my list apart, which is not a bad experience. By the end of it we were knackered (that’s what you get for starting a 2 hour game at half past ten), so it was back to the hostel and bed.
That was day one. I had already played against three nationalities, and I had my first non-tournament game in the bag. I’ll tell you how days two and three went next time. Here’s a spoiler: I did not win the Nordic Invitational, nor the Iron Gauntlet Qualifier, nor the Hardcore. What did I win? You’ll have to read on to find out!