On Saturday, the 14th of December 2019, the first annual Dutch Nationals were played. With a grand total of 22 attendees, hailing from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Sweden. What was on the line? The title of first Dutch Champion, and a ticket to the next SteamCon.
The link to the event is https://www.longshanks.org/events/?event=2691.
As a disclaimer: we knew that going over 16 players and still keeping it a 4-round tournament would have the possibility for two undefeated players. We decided we would grant the winner on SoS the title of Dutch Champion, as per the system of the Longshanks, but we’d buy the second undefeated player a ticket to SteamCon ourselves. This way, no one left empty-handed.
For me, this was the first time organising a tournament of this scale. Sure, 24 players isn’t much, but it’s quite a step up from when you’re struggling to get even 12 to come to your own local tournaments. We stayed at the Novotel hotel in Eindhoven – only a 10 minute walk away from the Eindhoven Airport busstop. Eindhoven is closeby for our southern and eastern neighbours, and with Eindhoven Airport so close (or Schiphol Airport only being a ~2 hour travel away), the location was very practical. The Novotel conference rooms are quite spaceous, and easily fitted 24 people, a small shop stand ánd the TO table. And it was even possible to enlarge it… I guess I’ve found my venue for 32+ player multiple day tournaments at reasonable pricing!
We even had a small storefront set up, where people could also play Godtear!
I was quite content with the spread of Guilds at the Nationals, but it was clear that there were certain preference picks. Alchemists, Farmers, Fishermen and Hunters were present in force, which was understandable. Alchemists are quite strong at the moment, Farmers have always been the pick to beat them, Fishermen are also not to be underestimated, and Steeljaw is a beast. The only absent major Guilds were Blacksmiths and Butchers, and we were also missing a sleuth of minors: Miners, Ratcatchers, Navigators and Falconers. So basically Miners, and the season 4.2 bottom five of the Longshanks pack. It was clear to see that people came to win.
I myself was playing Engineers at a tournament for the first time. With a handful of practice matches under my belt within my own local group, I went into the tournament hoping to win at least 2 games. But winning wasn’t one of my concerns. I just wanted the tournament to be successful, and for everyone to have a fun experience.
My twelve was the following, with some of my personal notes as to why I brought them:
- Impossible to leave behind. She is such a powerhouse, and her kicking presence is amazing. She opens up playstyles for the Guild that are right up my alley.
- Pin Vice
- While I’m aware that Ballista has been coined as ‘the Scalpel counter’, I’m also aware that Rivet on receive is quite a step down in projected threat. When considering a second captain, Pin Vice is the obvious choice as a receiving captain, even if I consider her playbook as atrocious at the moment.
- While Mother and Mainspring as both very viable mascots, I myself prefer the influence efficiency that Mainspring brings to the table. The little bug has won me a couple of games in the past, either by being able to pass without spending influence, or being a sneaky 4″ snap shot turret.
- The big man himself. 10″ melee threat, strong scrum control options, very good at setting up others, while also being able to destroy others with enough help. Close Control, Tough Hide, Stoic, Light Footed. I’d be crazy to leave him at home.
- Thé kicking model of choice for most situations. Salvo with a 2″ melee range and momentous damage results alongside Swift Strikes is just… gross. And if the ball scatter off of Floored Bolt is favourable, he can be gamechanging. Definite auto-pick.
- What might be the strongest striker in the game at the moment. Certainly the hardest to pin down, and she can even make momentum while making scrums more favourable. Another one that can’t be benched.
- Tooled Up. Fixer. Overclocked. His only weakness is his survivability, which makes him just short of an auto-pick in my book. Definite must-have for certain match-ups, though.
- Corsair, Theron, Obulus. Fuse is the best way of saying ‘nope’ to these guys, while also bringing tools to break bunkers. Very strong tech piece.
- If I ám forced to receive, I would like to have Pin Vice’s favourite aura around. But most notably: who would I be if I’d not bring The Inspiring Hat in my twelve?
- Perfect all-rounder model, and a very strong answer to 1″ melee models without buyable dodges (or 2″ melee with Use This!). If you’re not sure what else to bring, or just need that 6th model, you can never go wrong with this guy. His legendary alone has won me games.
- Veteran Velocity
- My favourite surprise tech piece for Rivet. No one expects Rivet to one-round models without Tooled Up, but just Lend a Hand’s TAC buff. Tow is amazing for getting her into position, and her momentous >< on 2 with TAC 7 is amazing for pulling people into your grinder. People are scared for her 4/8″ KICK, but to me that’s just an added bonus.
- Not a piece that I’d want to play a lot, but rather something that makes 3-0 teams sweat during the model draft.
Left at home were Ballista, Mother, Hoist, Locus and, to everyone’s amazement at the tournament, original Velocity. In retrospect, maybe I should’ve brought her for a Pin Vice list, but it’s still something I’m theorycrafting about. Making a twelve for Engineers certainly isn’t easy… or rather picking the last four to complete it.
The Guilds I was hoping to be able to avoid were Brewers, Masons, Morticians and Union. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.
My first round was against the dreaded Brewers, piloted by fellow pundit and tournament organiser extraordinaire, Kim Pipers. I was happy to have him around, as I valued his feedback on the event and the venue itself. I lost the roll-off and had to kick.
Brewers: Corker, Quaff, Spigot, Friday, Hooper, Mash
Engineers: Rivet, Mainspring, Spade, Salvo, Nomad, Veteran Velocity
When Kim picked Mash, I let go a sigh of relief. That meant he didn’t bring one of either Spigot, Friday, Hooper or Veteran Decimate, which are the four squaddies I am most scared for. I brought Veteran Velocity as my last pick and kicked with Salvo, having the ball end up close to him, just over the line.
Mash collected the ball and put it on Friday immediately. The rest of the turn was Kim trying to keep the ball safe, while I buffed Salvo, shot Mash’s Resilience off with Nomad’s Spark, and taxi’d him towards my team with Spade and Veteran Velocity, after knocking him down with the latter. I threw Salvo towards his team and dodged him out of Hooper’s range to threaten a goal run first activation turn 2.
Turn 2 started with me giving Salvo “Put me Back In, Coach!” from the gameplan card and Rivet one-rounding Mash with some gang-ups. (2-0) The goal run with Salvo would’ve been very tricky, as Friday was protected by many melee zones, and she was still at 5+ with Spigot nearby. With Rivet going first, I now had enough momentum to last through the turn to threaten the ball for a goal run. Kim was posturing to protect Friday, but also punish Salvo’s forward placement. When Salvo was taken out by a combination of Corker and Spigot, I grabbed my chance with Spade. (2-2) Spigot taking out Salvo meant him being more than 2″ away from Friday, which meant that a Controlled Explosion would lower Friday’s DEF to manageable proportions. With some Bonus Times I tackled and scored a goal. (6-2) The ball was punted back into play and picked up by Spigot – a mistake in my books, as Spigot had already activated and couldn’t bring the ball to Friday. As Hooper was posturing menacingly towards the rest of my team, I had Salvo let the ball scatter by putting Spigot on his ass with a Floored Bolt, and was able to Tether Ball by Swift Striking into range of the scatter, and run backwards to keep the ball safe from Friday, who came forward to put threat on the ball. Hooper decided to casually delete Veteran Velocity. (6-4)
Kim had a momentum lead for turn three, and chose to use that to tackle the ball away from Salvo and punt it behind my goal line. This made it that the just returned Veteran Velocity and Rivet could tag team to take down the lovely lass. (8-4) Now Kim had some choices to make, as I still had Spade inside of goal range, and Nomad at 4″ of a terrain piece, ready to go for goal as well. I had Spade stand in tap-in snap shot range, and she got engaged by Quaff. I then got the ball back with Salvo via Tether Ball and punted it towards Mainspring, who dodged backwards, out of range of Hooper. Hooper decided to start wailing onto Nomad, who barely survived the beatdown. Hooper with two beer tokens is scary… Mainspring passed to Nomad, who dodged out of Hooper’s melee range. Only having Mash left without influence and on the other side of the pitch, Kim was now subject to my dice. Nomad used his Legendary, sprinted and shot on goal. He hit, which meant the first round win for me. (12-4)
An amazing start, as I had to play against one of the Guilds that I really didn’t want to play against. I was somewhat lucky on the ball scatter with the ball on Spigot, and was fortunate that Kim misplaced his Spigot outside of 2″ of Friday for my first goal run, but I capitalized on these situations and these brought me to victory.
Now it was time for lunch!
My second round brought me to face my second Belgian of the day. I had never played Michiel Pillards before, although we were well acquainted. I knew he was somewhat of a Grange fanatic, so I was dreading having to pick apart the Grange Cage, but I was quite surprised when I saw Michiel’s twelve: no Tater. I knew I could be more aggressive now, not having to be afraid for a sudden Counter Charge. Michiel won the roll-off and chose to receive, as Grange is wont to do.
Farmers: Grange, Buckwheat, Amber, Bushel, Ploughman, Veteran Honour
Engineers: Rivet, Mainspring, Colossus, Salvo, Spade, Veteran Velocity
I was thoroughly confused by Michiel’s squad. If anything, it looked to me like a 2-2 type game. I didn’t see Windle, so I knew I’d win any scrum if I’d play it right, as my damage potential was higher and Rivet’s Protect Those Close would help immensely against Grange’s KD game.
I kicked with Salvo, gave him a 2″ melee zone and momentous damage results again, and just waited. Michiel came in with Buckwheat, trying to push Salvo away 4″, but misplaced just slightly and only pushed me against the outer edge of an obstruction. In the end, I pulled in Buckwheat from out of Grange’s Tough Hide aura and started making some momentum. But out of nowhere, Michiel came in with Bushel and the ball, jumping over terrain pieces and between my models, ready to score, but he missed his shot on goal. This spelled certain doom for the lovely lass, as now she was in between my team and my goal post, far away from the safety of her team.
Turn two started with me one-rounding Bushel with Rivet and some crowd-outs (2-0), and also beating down on the mule (3-0). I gave Michiel Colossus to beat on, but he got his fingers on Veteran Velocity as well. Amber was there to lay the beatdown, but got pulled into my squad by Colossus, Spade and Salvo after, giving me another big momentum lead for the next turn. (3-2)
The next turn started just as the previous one: Rivet beat a Farmer to a bloody pulp. (5-2) Now the captain of the Farmers wanted to have some part of the fun and started knocking my whole team down – I forgot to put up Protect Those Close… – but in the end, I still pulled him into my grinder.
It was quite the repeat: Grange fell to a fully stacked Rivet with some help from her friends. (7-2) Buckwheat at the last moment tried to come in and at least stop a goal run from happening, but Michiel forgot I had Sturdy from Rivet’s Heroic Play and his KD wouldn’t let the ball scatter from off of Spade. He chose to go with a damage result and the push, basically consigning the win to me, as Bucky was my final VP needed (8-2) before I would go on my goal run to win the game. (12-2)
I had never played the Engineers like this before. It kinda felt like playing the Corker grinder, having squaddies pull in enemy models one by one to take them down, protecting the ball on your striker constantly. I felt dirty, but a win is a win, certainly at a Nationals tournament. 2-0
I was almost expecting to face Tom for the Belgian hattrick, but he sadly lost and fate decided it would be the Dutch-off. The final two undefeated Dutch players, facing off for a place in the finals against our German overlords. I had to play Mark’s Fishermen. In a previous tournament, I lost to them while playing Scalpel. It was a very close match then, where I mainly lost due to some stupid mistakes on my part, so I expected my winning streak to end here, as I was way more experienced with Morticians at the time than with Engineers now. I won the roll-off and decided to kick.
Fishermen: Corsair, Tentacles, Knuckles, Kraken, Fathom, Veteran Sakana
Engineers: Rivet, Mainspring, Salvo, Fuse, Spade, Colossus
When Mark put down the Corsair card, I was actually quite happy, as I had worked out some strategies against the big pirate. I kicked with Fuse, as his Sapper’s Instincts would protect him from Drag quite nicely. I gave him a 2″ melee zone, and gave momentous damage to Salvo to get momentous Swift Strikes, and after having Towed Colossus, Spade ánd Salvo upfield, Colossus would protect Rivet & co from being pulled into the fray. Mark placed the ball on Kraken after receiving it with Fathom, and decided he would use his Corsair’s legendary to pull in Fuse and beat him down for a bit. Big mistake. Corsair usually can’t one-round models, so he just pulls them into his grinder for Kraken and Knuckles to get in with the fun. But Fuse is a Miner, and I hadn’t used my kicking momentum yet. I used Secret Tunnel to jump into melee with only Kraken, cleared my KD with momentum, and attacked Kraken. After the declaring of a counter, I decided to dodge out of Kraken’s melee range, triggering Knuckles’ Lightning Reflexes. But Fuse doesn’t care about being engaged, as I used Under the Lines to get back into Kraken, steal the ball off of him and score my first goal, dodging into base to base with the Fisherman’s goalpost. (4-0) Mark decided to punish Fuse for his insolence and started to surround the Miner and beat him down, but this left Corsair unprotected, whom I pulled into my team with the help of Spade, Colossus and Salvo.
My first activation in turn two was Rivet beating onto a 5 influence Corsair. Knowing that he’s Sturdy, I decided I had to go for just damage results and hope for the best. Having 3 extra dice to play with every roll, and Bonus Timing after my first result left me with 10 dice per roll. I had to hit the momentous 4 every single time to take him out, which was asking a lot, but I got there in the end. (6-0) Having taken down 5 influence ánd his Captain activation in my first activation didn’t do Mark’s mental state any good. Instead of disengaging and protecting his weaker models, he let Veteran Sakana run away with the ball, towards my goal, and started beating onto Fuse with Kraken, leaving Knuckles to fend for himself. A combo of Spade, Salvo and gang-ups from Mainspring let Colossus come in and beat the rookie to a single point of health. I won the momentum race again.
Mark let Corsair come in with 6 influence, ready to push off any models after dragging them in, but he forgot one thing. I didn’t have to go for Knuckles first, as Knuckles had 0 influence allocated to him and was knocked down. Spade charged onto Corsair, pushing him 2″ back towards the edge of the pitch, and threw him off with Controlled Explosion. (8-0) That was 11 influence and two captain activations denied in back to back turns. Ouch! To make matters even worse, Mark, who already saw that he was losing the match, missed his shot on goal with Veteran Sakana, and the ball flew off of the pitch, and scattered right onto my team afterwards. I took out Knuckles (10-0) and passed to ball to Salvo to win the game, but forgot about Fathom’s enormous threat range. Fathom got the ball back into play, but at the cost of her own safety. Kraken took out Fuse, but the writing was on the wall. (10-2)
Turn 4 started with Rivet Towing in multiple friendlies and taking out Fathom. (12-2)
While some of my plays had hot dice (i.e. both Corsair take-outs), I actually dismantled his grinder quite adeptly, having played against it once before with Scalpel. It’s so nice not only having a captain doing the heavy lifting, but having squaddies being able to pitch in as well and make set up for the next turn. I still am proud of my Fuse play in the first turn. I was hoping Mark took the bait, and he did.
I went 3-0, and now had to face Dominik Khaleg, the Longshanks #3 of Germany (behind Timmy and Metz), #4 Brewer of the World, and #29 player of the World. I had faced him before on the WTC, where I almost bested him, but now I was playing Engineers. At least Scalpel is adept at breaking the Corker scrum apart… I knew exactly how he’d play it, and had zero ideas on how to win it. If anything, I hoped I would be able to receive and at least have those four points on the board before 5+/2 Friday would ruin my day…
ROUND FOUR – FINAL
And he won the roll off and decided to receive. Crap.
Brewers: Corker, Quaff, Veteran Decimate, Hooper, Friday, Spigot
Engineers: Rivet, Mainspring, Fuse, Spade, Salvo, Nomad
I went into this game with one thing in mind: I need to throw everything I have against this bunker. Because of Veteran Decimate’s ability to pick apart my lines, I can’t try and fight him, as he’ll just pick my squad apart one by one, and he’ll always out-damage me due to his high amount of Tough Hide models. I could’ve chosen to play with Colossus, Veteran Velocity and Ratchet and try and bring the fight to him, or at least go for a 2-2, but I was scared and opted into the 3-0 gameplan.
The game went as he planned: Hooper collected the ball and passed it to Friday, Friday was buffed to 5+/2, Spigot was placed in base to base with her, and Veteran Decimate was buffed by Quaff. But I had an ace up my sleeve: boxing in Decimate with Fuse’s Clear to screw with his activation order and neutering his turn 1. Hooper: hit. Corker: hit. Veteran Decimate: hit. Quaff… miss. “You should’ve Bonus Timed that one.” No s***, ‘Nik. And Decimate did Decimate things.
Turn two started off with Corker taking out Fuse and buffing Friday back to 5+/2. (0-2) Luckily, I had my models a tad more forward now, which meant I’d be able to threaten Friday some more. Nomad went in first, having received a 2″ melee range from Rivet, and he was miraculously able to get the ball off of Friday and score! (4-2) The ball was punted back into play and… scattered right onto Friday. Dominik chose to go for Salvo as his next victim, so I had Spade go into Friday. Attack 1: miss. Attack 2: miss. Attack 3: miss… Attack 4: tackle… And now Veteran Decimate came into the mix and destroyed my hopes and dreams by taking out Salvo (4-4) and getting the ball back to her team from Spade. I had Bonus Timed the first couple of Spade’s rolls, so didn’t have anything left to counter Decimate and push her away. Spade was taken out in the end by Spigot. (4-6)
Knowing that I was very far behind in the game, Dominik even came forward to score with Friday in turn three, before he even had his final take-out, but that didn’t take long. (4-10) Salvo scored my second goal on the crack back, (8-10) right before Rivet was one-rounded by Hooper. (8-12)
Three things went wrong for me here, I feel.
- I played something different than what I was successful with all day. (i.e. I went for a 3-0, while I had been winning with 2-2/1-4 playstyles.)
- I was greedy and skipped on expending additional resources to increase my chances of winning. (i.e. no Bonus Time on Fuse’s turn 1 Clear!)
- I let Dominik, and the fact I was in the finals, get into my head.
#3 was the biggest issue, and might just be the root cause of #1 and #2. I went into my first three games with zero expectation, which gave me a calmness and a peace of mind that I hadn’t previously encountered before. No pressure, just simple fun and games with friends or new acquaintances. But the fact that I had the possibility of becoming Dutch Champ, and the fact that I had to face Dominik to do it, really screwed with my mind, and I started stressing out and making mistakes. Still not ready for the big leagues, I guess…
ENDING CEREMONY AND PRIZES
And there we have it. The Dutch Nationals of 2019 were over. The reigning champion, and man to beat, is Dominik Khaleg. 12-4 against Wink de Groot’s Farmers (#21, 127), 12-5 against William Chapman’s Morticians (#8, 211), 12-4 against Sebastian Sonnhalter’s Alchemists (#5, 533) and 12-8 against my Engineers (#3, 520).
Also undefeated was Martin Rockenfeller, who went #2 due to SoS by having to play the downpair. My congratulations on also winning a SteamCon ticket! 13-10 against Olav Kamies’ Order (#17, 52), 12-4 against Koen Vliegen’s Fishermen (#14, 538), 12-4 against Matthias Kuhlmann’s Masons (#4, 565) and 12-4 against Ola Segerberg’s Farmers (#10, 575).
I myself claimed the #3 spot above Matthias Kuhlmann, Sebastian Sonnhalter, Michiel Pillards and Tom Vananderoye as other 3-1 players on SoS. 12-4 against Kim Pipers’ Brewers (#16, 528), 12-2 against Michiel Pillards’ Farmers (#6, 520), 12-2 against Mark de Rooij’s Fishermen (#9, 513) and 8-12 against Dominik Khaleg’s Brewers (#1, 615).
The best painted award was handed to Mark de Rooij, who brought his WTC gold medal Fishermen along, and the best goal award was handed to Michiel Pillards’ festive christmas tree goal marker.
Looking back at the tournament, however losing the final was a darn shame, I’m overall very content with not only my tournament run, but the tournament itself as well. Here’s hoping that the 2020 Nationals will be even more prestigious – a two-day event with 40+ players is my goal. I certainly have the support of my new Swedish buds, Ola and Rickard!
My thanks to Jeroen Schoonbrood as co-organiser, Stefan Quintarelli as graphics designer and Maikel Tegelaers from CCGwinkel for bringing a small storefront. Also to Steamforged for allowing us to hold an unofficial Nationals, and offering to give the winner a SteamCon ticket. And last, but certainly not least, the players. We wouldn’t even be able to hold a tournament without the community.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you all soon!