A Champion's Perspective: Warhammer: Diskwars
A Tournament Report by 2014 North American Champion Francois Fressen
After Gen Con wrapped up in August, we contacted the winners of the North American Championships and asked each player to write a short summary of their experience and their strategies. As World Championship Weekend approaches, we will be posting articles each week so players can learn how to best prepare for their next large tournament, as well as begin readying themselves for the biggest FFG event of the year!
We start our series with 2014 Warhammer: Diskwars North American Champion Francois Fressen sharing how he arrived at his tournament-winning army list and highlights from a few of his games.
I am a data scientist in healthcare and an astrophysicist at Harvard. I live in Boston with my wife and our two young children. I used to play international board game competitions in high school and college, but now I mainly spend time playing solo and theorizing about games when my little ones are sleeping. This hypothetical testing turned useful earlier this year when I realized I could attend Gen Con in August. Theorizing has way more flavor when there is a tournament I can imagine myself attending!
On Preparing for the Tournament
This game has had a hold on me since its first announcement. It takes the best of both worlds: the great concept of disk flipping as a smart and elegant alternative to miniatures and cardboard grids, and the flavor of Warhammer’s world. This combines with FFG’s game design dedication to make a fair, fast-paced, highly strategic and thematic game.
While testing, I realized that the game played surprisingly well solo by choosing potentially appropriate action cards on both sides and then randomly selecting which card to play from among those. The first list that emerged from my tests featured Karl Franz, Alarielle the Radiant, and their respective faction’s siege range weapon. It was only late in my tests that Teclis and his Sun Dragon got my preference over Alarielle. As my list changed, the factions remained Empire and Elves, but the focus became much more mobile and aggressive.
I was unable to find an army list with Orcs or Dwarfs that could convincingly challenge this list. But interestingly, some other solid contenders emerged from my tests: an Empire army focusing on priests, a Chaos army with two Bloodthirsters and their versatile action cards, and a Vampire Counts army with Zombie Dragons and Tomb Banshees. These three armies all managed to pull several victories against my well-trained Order army, but Karl and Teclis had the edge overall.
On my North American Championship Army List
- Karl Franz (33)
- 2x Knights Panther (20)
- 1x Talabheim Greatsword (8)
- 1x Marienburg Swordsman (5)
- Arcane Attack
- Teclis (34)
- 1x Sun Dragon (15)
- 1x High Mage (7)
- 2x Militia Spearmen (12)
- Speed of Asuryan
- Shield of Saphery
- Alarielle the Radiant (35)
- 1x Sun Dragon (15)
- 1x Ellyrian Reavers (9)
- 1x Militia Spearmen (6)
- 1x Lothern Sea Guard (5)
- Eager Troops
I did not really consider the Dark Elves, Skaven, Wood Elves, and Lizardmen factions introduced in Hammer and Hold and Legions of Darkness, as they don’t have access to elite units yet. I consider elite units both a flavorful and necessary component of most lists. However, the Empire is an exception to this requirement for me, as it can include two Knights Panther units which stand very close to the elite status for me. With that in mind, I added Marienburg Swordsmen and Talabheim Greatswords to two Knights Panther units to complete Karl Franz’s regiment.
Teclis’s support consists of a mighty Sun Dragon, two very solid Militia Spearmen, and one important High Mage. My command cards covered the four initiative keywords in order to have my actions harder to read by my opponent: Speed of Asuryan, Shield of Saphery, Arcane Attack, and Rally. Three of these cards relied entirely on Teclis and the High Mage. The reliance is a bit risky, but I felt the reward was worth it.
I think it is the number of synergies in this list that made it a good choice for me. Although an army usually benefits from having its two regiments sharing the same faction, it looked like the respective support that my two regiments offered to each other either enhanced their strengths or covered their vulnerabilities. Here are the most noteworthy combinations:
- Speed of Asuryan on Teclis with Karl Franz’s ability and the second action of Speed of Asuryan allows a “run, hit, remove the activation token, hit again, and run again” sequence of actions.
- Teclis and the High Mage’s arcane resistance protect them from the unstable nature of Arcane Attack.
- A charging Knights Panther pinning several units is a good target for the Sun Dragon’s fire thanks to the Panther’s physical resistance.
- Rally shines in this army list where it can provide additional early reach to very aggressive units.
- The High Mage provides backup for magic command cards in case Teclis bites the dust and a much needed arcane resistance to my Knights Panther.
On the 2014 North American Championship
I did not get initiative in any of my games, but I did get the benefit of choosing the scenario card, and battling on my own terrain. This helped because my terrain was not favorable to ranged armies and did not provide much fortification against my cavalry’s impact abilities. I got an early edge in several games, being able to claim a few wounds and disks as soon as turn one thanks to the extra mobility provided by my command cards.
Overall, I faced a combination of the base set armies, but surprisingly no Vampire Counts armies. My training games against the Counts had been the most unpredictable, and I had expected them to be in at least a few army lists.
The most intense situation in the tournament came as I faced an entirely ranged army. I exposed Teclis on turn one without the protection of my Shield of Saphery command card, as I was tempted to use his magic to burn a unit of Militia Archers. The following turn, Teclis was in a perfect position to use Arcane Attack and Rally, but another vengeful Militia Archers and the fearsome Helblaster Volley Gun combined to wound Teclis twice. I had lost my centerpiece on the second action sequence of the game. My Knights Panther surprisingly dodged more arrows than my overconfident hero, and they eventually turned the tide in an uphill battle and saved my troops from an early doom.
On the Final Match
In the final match, I faced a High Elf army featuring a variety of ranged units and two Sun Dragons. The deciding factor for this game was probably having the appropriate resistances for the different damage sources my respective troops were facing as the state of the battlefield evolved. I decided not to challenge my opponent’s Sun Dragon in the middle of the field, as I did not want to test my luck against its Shield of Saphery. Instead, I accepted a few unit exchanges to create an early advantage until I was able to pin most of the opposing units and decide how to deploy my reserves to claim the battle.
The Warhammer: Diskwars tournament was the first event I registered for at Gen Con, and the experience has made me eager for other tournaments and to see new expansions featuring the factions recently introduced. I now hope to foster local tournament scenes, and Warhammer: Diskwars will be the game I have in my bag at future conventions. I don’t think there are many other ‘miniature’ games this deep, where you can fit your entire army in your wallet!
2014 World Championship Weekend
Francois’ story shows that you don’t always need a group of friends to prepare for a tournament. Check back in the coming weeks to hear stories from other North American Champions, and if you haven’t already, register for FFG’s 2014 World Championship Weekend, and join us next month for your chance to gain fame in your favorite game!
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