So. We have a VTC this year to forget the woes of not having an annual get-together of Warmachine players from all over the world, for hugs and laughs and beers and exchange of obscure local spirits and pyramids and legendary stories of what happens at night, all against a backdrop of some of the tightest Warmachine and Hordes games being played in the history of humankind(1).
Still, traditions are meant to be upheld. Since asking the teams who went 5-1 last year about the teams who would go there this year proved more challenging than usual (if only for the fact that the VTC will be played with just 20 teams), this article is ... slightly different than you'd expect.
I started out relatively seriously. As a nation, Canada have done outstandingly in the past (and had two 5-1 teams last year), so I asked Cory "The" Doyle about his top four picks, with a dark horse on the side. It all went sideways from there. I should have known, getting a serious answer out of "The" Cory Doyle is about as feasible as organizing a WTC in a week.
He came up with England Lions and All Gas No Brakes (which I can get behind), and then went for Australia Quokka Soccer, for the following reason: "this is all dependent on how well player 1, 3 and 4 are able to carry player 5. Player 2 is solid and should be able to anchor the team solidly though".
I should have known, I should have known.(2)
So .. hello Chris Davies in Australia? How about this dissing from Canada? Turns out Chris just let all that slide, and even took my question for a lineup seriously. What a double champ.(3)
Starting with the dark horse pick, Chris went for Wales. Only slightly paraphrasing here: "They did real good last year and even though they've decided to pre-emptively cheat by bringing 9 lists to a 10 list event they seem like they have a good thing going." I personally am a bit afraid though that Wales will fall flat to anyone who knows how to pronounce their team name, as some dragons of legend are wont to.
Chris' other picks are Irregulars, Sweden Bop Bap, Canadia Goose and Belgium Lich, Please. A short discussion on the why - Belgium is the obvious choice, Mercs are OP and Belgium have 5 Merc players, so clearly they must be 5 times as OP. The Swedes have a good team comp, good players and decent lists, with a nod to Daniel who brings the Siege1 terror, and Robin who is so awesome he can play an Aurora1 list that is a whopping 22 points down. As for Canadia, Chris picked Goose over Beaver, despite saying that one's OP factor is directly tied into how many Merc players you have, he prefers the Faction spread of Goose, and the fact they remembered that Infernals are also a Faction.
Irregulars have the nations-crossing star lineup and had the advantage of seeing all lists before submitting theirs(4), resulting in a Kromac1 to prey on Infernals and a Shae list to represent traditional Polish jank. Of course, all we really wanted was info on the elusive Australian team, so Chris spilled the beans with the following inside info: "they're the nutters from Western Australia, running some true off-meta craziness - one doesn't show up randomly to an event with Kozlov." Sounds promising.
Right. Next up: Stephanie Berry, who you all have to thank for successfully poking me to write this article. Her choices are Canada Goose, Sweden Bop Bap, USA Red White and Pew Pew, and All Gas No Brakes. Her dark horse is Portugalux Primal.
The astute observer would notice that not a single English team features in this lineup, about which she had to say the following: "I have faith in my countrymen". Some puzzling learns that actually only three out of the five members of England Lions are actually English, and everyone knows that you have to be called Germany Loreley to win a WTC with just three people (5).
Next up, a guy who should feature in this article every year, but who somehow managed to dodge it until now. I'm talking about the best player you don't know, Wout Maerschalck.
His list is the following: Sweden Bop Bap, All gas no Brakes, Canada Beaver and England Lions, and as a dark horse he went for The Irregulars. His reasoning for the latter would be that they're bringing the Polish Jank Touch(6), and will probably mess people up in new ways we do not understand yet.
Also, Wout was quite adamant - the Swedes would win the thing this year.
I can't talk about Polish jank, and not talk to any Poles. Cue Marcin Mycek, the Most Missed Man in this year's lineup - if only for keeping his streak of attending all WTCs and never finishing outside of the top 5 alive.
He clearly chose right by going for Belgium Lich, Please as his dark horse. What a stand up guy. Very cool. Also, thank you for the Bart list, Marcin.
Oh, and as "real" choices he went with Canada Beaver, Sweden Bop Bap, USA Red, White and Pew Pew, and Irregulars.
Tally time! A clear favourite emerges, Sweden Bop Bap. Who knows, for all the times the Swedes have featured on this list, it might finally be the moment. In the past, the Swedes used to have issues forging a team that had played together (the country is deceptively big) and therefore often broke up their big names according to region. In this event no one really played together, so why handicap yourself, I say.
Next we have All Gas No Brakes and Irregulars. All Gas feature some of North America's hottest names in Warmachine, and the only Troll player in the tournament (that alone is a reason to root for them), while Irregulars seem to rock that rebel without a cause vibe very well(7).
After these two favourites, the teams to watch are the Canadas, England Lions and USA Red White and Pew Pew. Both Wales and Portugalux seem to draw attention as dark horses - we drew Portugalux first round, we'll let you know how that went.
As an encore, I talked to Bryce Johnston, a legendary legend in (miniature) games, and generally a very nice person to get shitfaced with. He came up with the next train of thought that would make James Joyce jealous, and of which I have decided that I will give it to you, unfiltered.
"23 Merc players, lads. I have no idea why Mercs are so good now (and I refuse to learn) but 23 Merc players out of 90 means Mercs are more than a quarter of the field (I may have counted the Merc players wrong, please don’t write in and complain, I simply do not care). Special props to Belgium for dropping five Merc players, all with Gaspy4 in their pairs, proving that running an all Cryx WTC team is still an option. Sort of. Hugely excited to see a lot of Fiona mirrors. I always say the game’s the most fun when absolutely nothing happens for an extended period of time.
In terms of other choices, gotta give a special shout to Per Nilsson Sandin, who’s my best friend I never talk to any more, for not only running a Shrine of the Lawgiver, but convincing someone from the other Swedish team to do so as well. I’ve played five games of Warmans in the last year and I used a Shrine in one of them and started regretting it from somehow before I even deployed the thing. Maximum respect for bringing genuinely bad models and not trying to game the system like those Belgian chumps.
Also a huge fan of Team England’s bold choice to finally take the Pat Dunford training wheels off and strike out on their own, very keen to see how that goes for them. Golly’s there with Mercs, so that’s something and I guess if all else fails, Pat coming out of the shadows at the last minute with a Captain America/Black Panther pair feels like he counters Archon spam pretty hard, which is more than I can say for anything that exists in actual Warmachine.
In terms of ranking, team names are basically what I’ve got to go off, so I guess my teams to watch are both Placeholder teams; lot to live up to in those names, the Aussies, who are so powerful their player’s names must be censored for fear of reprisals, and finally the country of “Portugalux” which I cannot find on any map of the world and therefore can only assume that Narnia has finally joined the WTC under a veil of secrecy. Don’t play MK1 casters against Aslan. He was there when they were written.
In the end, I gotta give it to the Welsh though, who appear to have sneezed on the keyboard while deciding on a name. Also Dan Jones is in there, and he’s very nice, so good luck Wales."Bryce Johnston, person who lost to pLylyth
There's absolutely nothing I can add to that.
(1) Can you tell I miss the WTC?
(2) In his defense, the names of the players weren't known at that time.
(3) This little reference actually doesn't even merit a footnote, but ... Chris won the WTC twice.
(4) They are the team to even out the numbers, but ... one could do worse than that.
(5) I know, I know, some hyperbole and some selective memory there. It's my article, I get to be naughty.
(6) Someone should trademark that term.
(7) I mean, both Christoph and Tomasz Tutaj are James Deaner than life.