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Matched Play Review/First Impressions

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This last Sunday I did a matched play game and I thought I would give my thoughts on how it went and how it felt.


We decided on a relatively small game of 1000 points apiece.  It was Stormcast vs. Stormcast, but we had very different army compositions.  I took force of Liberators, Retributors and Prosecutors led by a Lord Celestant on Dracoth while my opponent brought mostly Judicators and Concussors led by a Lord Celestant on Dracoth.  His was a smaller model count force, but just by first glance everything seemed pretty even.  


The Scenario:  We rolled for and played one of the scenarios outlined in the General's Handbook.  I don't remember names, but it was an objective scenario where each side starts with one objective at the inner edge of your deployment zone and you essentially win by trying to capture your opponents zone with a victory occuring if you manage to hold both at the 5th battleround.  Or something like that.  It was straightforward and balanced and seemed like it would work for tournament play well.  It appeared to be really simple at first and it mostly seemed like a simple pitched battle where the winner of the fray would end up having both points so you really didn't need to worry about the objectives that much.  However, that was proven wrong pretty quick as 5 models were required to take an objective and flanking attacks allowed one to bypass fights and try to ninja grab the opponents objective.  Overall it was very fun!


Battleline Units:  Matched play introduces battleline unit requirements to AoS.  Basically the core tax from Fantasy.  For a 1000 pt army you are required to bring 2+ battleline units which for Stomcast are Liberators and Judicators.  I had Liberators and my opponent had Judicators.  At his point level this 'tax' really didn't seem like a burden and it made the armies seem more realistic.  The other limitations are 1-4 leaders 0-2 Artillery and 0-2 Behemoths at this point level. This forces players to not have 'cheesy' lists, or monster mashes or endless artillery lines.  There are definitely some issues with the smaller factions. For example, Collegiate Arcane which has no battleline forces which means you have to take a mixed faction force.  Allowable and not a big deal.  Once battletomes are out for everything I think these little issues will be smoothed out.


Alligiance Traits, Artefacts, Command Traits:  Played utilizing these new modifiers that the GH introduces.  Basically bonuses to your army if you have a consistent force as well as buffs to your general and select heros.  This added another dimension to the game and made it so our two forces, which were already very different, played even differently since we decided to load out our generals differently.  


The balance:  Points definitely made the game feel extremely balanced.  It felt like a much more competitive oriented game and I enjoyed that aspect quite a bit.  The game went back and forth.  My Retributors were able to blow apart his Concussors early before they could do a lot of damage, but his Lord-Celestant bested mine which really threw the game into his favor and I ended losing almost all my Liberators, but then my Prosecutors got around to his objective started beating up his Judicators.  Had my Prosecutors had better dice rolls I may have sneaked in the victory.  So the game overall felt very balanced and went back in forth in a satisfying matter.  He won because his composition was smarter and he planned his early turn movement better, but through strategy I still had a chance which feels very competitive to me.


Other things: The GH opens up a lot of options for how to play.  Do you want to measure base to base?  GH opens that possibility up to those that feel that is better.  In our game we kept the basic rules and didn't use and of these competitive modifiers.  But they exist and fill some holes many people have seen in the competitive realm of AoS.


Conclusion:  There is more I could say, but this is already pretty long and I only played one game.  Overall the game felt extremely balanced and made it feel more focused on strategy, both with composition and in-game actions.  I could see this system being used in a tournament very easily.  I can't wait to get the book for myself instead of just borrowing from the store!  I think those that have been unhappy with the 'floppy' rules of AoS will be happy with this new way to play.  I'm already very happy with it!  List building is back!


Does anybody have any other thoughts or played any matched play games in the past month?  How did it go and did you like it?

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