Interview with Brandon Andrews from the FLORIDA META and LnL 2017 Masters Champion
Tseung Tsu: We’re here with Brandon Andrews recent winner of Lock and Load 2017 Masters and Giga Con a Warmachine Weekend Qualifier. In addition Brandon is a member of this years Team America WTC, and proud member of the FLORIDA META. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us!
Brandon Andrews: It’s my pleasure, you know I love talking shop.
TT: So let's start with the obvious, how was Lock and Load? Some of us weren’t able to make it, so what stuck out to you from the Keynote?
BA: I’m a big fan of Privateer Press and I’ve played Warmachine since it’s initial release back in like … 2004? What stuck out to me was the massive failure of last years “keynote panel.” You see companies spend millions of dollars on advertising. In business few things are as important as a captive audience. PP had everyone's attention and they really dropped the ball. What stuck out to me this year was how they fixed it. They delivered an hour long keynote panel addressing new games, new features and more importantly, they showed lots of exciting new models for Warmahordes. Their ability to rebound gave me a lot of faith in them as a company. It made me feel a lot better as a person who owns, what? $10,000 dollars worth of Warmachine product and has invested years of his life into playing the game. I really think they did an outstanding job and that stuck out to me.
TT: Was there anything in particular they touched on that really piqued your interest?
BA: Model wise: Gastonne 2. Ashlynn is by far my favorite caster in the game and I’ve been waiting patiently for more Llaelese models to release. Skarre on a boat is pretty hilarious also. I think the “12 Factions of Christmas” is a great idea to keep players engaged.
TT: Who doesn't love Christmas! With Grymkin finally released they represent the first in what sounds like a series of releases from Privateer Press what do you think about Grymkin?
BA: Grymkin feels big. They really captured the theme with these guys. The models took some getting used to but now they feel like a welcome addition to the hordes line-up. The faction book is brilliant. I am about halfway through it now and I think it’s the coolest book they have ever published. When COC was released I remember feeling like “who is gonna play these?” At Grymkin release I’m feeling like “who the hell is not playing these guys?” Grymkin are polarizing but I think they are pretty dope.
TT: Any chance of you jumping ship for the greener pastures of Grymkin?
BA: I own every faction and I bought into Grymkin at L&L plus I pre-ordered like every single model of the first wave. So it’s safe to say I’ll be playing them some. We are starting an “enhanced” Journeyman league this week so I’ll probably run them for that. At a tournament level I’ll probably stick to Cryx or play my Mercs. I have been very interested in Protectorate lately as so many people are calling them bad. That’s like my bat signal, especially when I know for a fact that they are strong.
TT: Crawdad, champion of the maligned faction! I like it! What impact do you think Grymkin will have on the national meta?
BA: All of the casters make a case competitively. The arcana choices gave the faction a way to address problems despite a smaller caster pool. Going into L&L I thought the child was one of the worst, but after seeing her on the table I had to rethink that. This has been consistent with each caster thus far. The Wanderer is now my absolute favorite and I coasted through CID telling everyone he was unplayable trash. The biggest advantage in Grymkin seem to be the efficiency of the models. Each model / unit is priced effectively and while other factions cycle through CID and receive small deductions in cost the Grymkin have already been fine-tuned which makes everything feel more useful. Everything really has a place in the faction and that is very cool.
TT: Grymkin were the first ANYTHING to go through CID. Have you had a chance to test CID? What do you think about the process thus far?
BA: I played a LOT of CID when the Cryx were in it. Most local tournaments were allowing CID and guys were nice enough to let me table them with Dark Host over and over again. The guys in my meta like the CID but we are not spending a lot of time testing anymore. After the initial burst of Cryx models I wrote some battle reports and spent some time contributing but for the most part I leave it be. I don’t want to take anything away from it because I really love the idea… it’s just my time is limited, I have a lot of new players right now as our meta is swelling and I’m playing 3-4 nights a week. I support the process and I think they have the right guys running it.
TT: Okay let’s get to what everyone wants to know about, how was Lock and Load Masters?
BA: Man, it was really amazing. I want to say that every opponent I had was awesome. Not just solid players but everyone was cool as hell during our games and after. I mean; I spent the entire weekend playing Warmachine or talking about Warmachine. That’s pretty damn hard to beat… the weather was beautiful outside and I even got to see some hills and basements!
My two toughest games on the final day were both Cygnar. I dropped Dark Host into Sloane on Line Breaker. There was no blocking terrain in the center of the table but there was a string of forests and a house on my right side of the board. I leap frogged my army up the terrain and was able to win that one by extreme scenario pressure. That game required some very abstract thinking and I was fending off tilt every turn as I started to forget small things and missed the few rolls I made early. That entire game was changed by me killing Archduke Runewood and spawning a machine wraith. The machine wraith whacked a hunter and used his gun to kill my opponents Journeyman. Once arcane shield fell off the Stormwall my game came into focus and I pulled it out via scenario. That game was really an exercise in staying calm and trusting my army.
The finals game was kind of similar. I dropped Dark Host into 3Caine on “The Pit.” The pit itself had a massive piece of burning rubble centered in it and I had no obstructions on the board except for one on my right that was way outside of the kill box. 3Caine of course, has mage sight and can gun me down with his feat no problem as his army was all chargers and hunters. I had to run Skarre behind the house outside of the kill box on my first turn and leverage my incorporeal models to hold space in the table center. The following turn I was able to feat and engage his army which baited his feat out in return. Once he feated me I felt like I could attrition him but a stalker hopped his lines and ended it early by assassinating Caine. I’ve been very busy lately but I took pictures of my games to spark my memory. My goal is to post a battle report of L&L on our website.
TT: Got to say the machine wraith has saved my butt more than once! And I loved what you said about staying calm and trusting the process. Going in using a “new” theme what match-ups were you most worried about?
BA: Yeah, I mean. You’ve gotta trust your decisions… even if the game comes down to luck, a good player puts himself in a position where luck can win him the game. Matchups are a good question and I can answer it simply. Skorne and Circle. Both are obnoxious to beat with Cryx and both are almost non-existent in the meta. Ghost Fleet would be far less terrifying to the world if some Skorne and Circle were there to knock em out.
TT: Real quickly what about those two factions worry you? Is it just lack of reps?
BA: EZaal with 20-30 immortals is insane into Cryx. No living models, no souls, tons of magic weaponry, and as you kill the army you increase the chance of Zaal assassinating you. He can kill any Cryx caster in the game with spells. Eyeless sight is available so they can snipe out your stalkers or hunt our stealth casters. So many things are off the table for you in that matchup. Just the fact that all of my great threat ranges are irrelevant to him because he just takes the charge and keeps moving. Circle is obnoxious because tree can kill you at any minute. I may get assassinated by Wurmwood while doing this interview. Hell mouth is an incredible spell and the abstract threat ranges plus wraith bane anywhere it’s needed are a problem. You do have the advantage of incorporeal models being immune to hell mouth which makes Black Bane’s pretty cool but then they die to sentry stones. Circle is just very well equipped to fight Cryx and most games end with your caster dying. They are very punchy and they like to play Warmachine by the rules that the rest of us do. If I line up against Khador I see two turns ahead where we smash into each others face and roll out a win. Circle is coming at you sideways and that can make for some bizarre games or dead casters. Sentry stones are really good at killing stalkers!
TT: I'll be sure to watch your back for Wurmwood and Cassius as we finish this interview. As sr2016 draws to a close what do you think of sr2017 thus far?
BA: I have mixed feelings about it. But ultimately it’s just a new problem that we have to solve. Which is exciting to me and I feel like Cryx is balanced or at the very least runs throw-away models that can score. Broken bone jacks and scrap thralls score just as well as anything else.
TT: What from the recent BANE CID really stands out to you? Is there something overlooked by the masses that you think is a gem?
BA: My first answer was “WRAITH ENGINE” but I can’t imagine people are overlooking it. So I’ll refine my answer to Bane Knights. Being overlooked is their advantage… they are hard to kill and you don’t feel like you got a lot of bang for your buck when you kill one. They tend to just stick around and a pow 14 charge with access to dark shroud can not be ignored. Yet somehow they are the least threatening models in the army. It’s crazy.
TT: I do agree that the bane knight is being overlooked. I’m working on a blog article about it now (shameless self promotion).What advice do you have out there for newer Cryx players trying to win their first event?
BA: I started playing this faction because the national meta hated it. We are not a glass half empty kind of group in Florida and we had some local guys who were legitimately distraught by the state of Cryx. My only goal was to prove Cryx’s competence and I put my faith in PSkarre. Since then I have won tournaments with a long list of casters. The faction has access to very powerful pieces and it rewards players for learning it. My advice to a newer Cryx player would be to find your rock. Figure out a caster that you like and want to get good with. Once you have that you can start answering their problems with a second list and you’ll find yourself a better player every week you invest in them. Cryx rewards practice, put some time in and you will love it.
TT: What goes into your mind when creating a tournament pair? DId that change with SR2017?
BA: That is a hard question to answer. Figuring out the meta is very important. What works one month may not be relevant at your next tournament. Obviously we ask questions like “can this beat armor skew” or “how does this handle shooting?” Then you can address major lists in the meta like Fyanna2 Oracles or Ghost Fleet. Some scenarios in 2017 require what I call “placeholders” which are models that may just stand in the back lines for scenario points. Cryx is particularly fond of this because we have extra randoms like bone jacks and scrap thralls, granted some factions have long range guns or weapon crews that would be fine in that position as well. We have great infantry so that should give us some help in 2017 but I don’t think it changes my approach really.
TT: Do you think there is another sleeping beast of a theme like ghost fleet currently out there and waiting to be discovered?
BA: The sleeping beast of a theme is whatever theme EZaal gets for his immortals… the Cryxian gold rush will end on that day. Seeing as that doesn’t exist yet I’ve got another good answer; Protectorate’s “Examplar Interdiction” theme. 2’’ of extra deployment with expensive free models, blessed warjacks, and a really nice selection of models to choose from. This theme is strong and the faction is just waiting for somebody to pilot it. The other day I was talking to some guys about the possibility of EKreoss as an anti Ghost Fleet drop and the pair involved Errants and Castigators. Crazy talk…
TT: I think we all know you love Pskarre, but what model in cryx is your favorite? Rules wise or fluff.
BA: The Wraith Engine is bae. I started Cryx knowing I wanted to play the newly buffed MK3 wraith engine. Yes I am talking about the pre-cid wraith engine. The model is hilarious for so many reasons. Being incorporeal allows so many dumb things like unjamming yourself, ignoring enemy models or counter charging seethers through your own battle engines. It looks hilarious and it spawns machine wraiths. Machine wraiths are one of the strongest effects in the game and they make enemy jacks more of a liability than a benefit. I once played against a Harkevich list with Terminus where I was fighting and killing jacks in the middle of his army but the mass of the incorporeal wraith engine prevented landing spots for his jacks every turn. The model is genius and hilarious. Love it.
TT: So far 2017 has been an amazing year for you, and Warmachine. What are you looking forward to for the foreseable future?
BA: The first rule of being good in competitive Warmachine is attendance. Without attending these cons you’ve got a pretty awful shot at winning them, right? This was my first year ever running a serious tournament schedule and it has been a very rewarding experience. We were able to introduce the national scene to our local guys via ATC and I’ve been able to attend more national tournaments in this year alone than my entire playing career previous. Before this year began my Warmachine dream was just to play in the ATC with a group of Florida players. Fast forward to July and I am two months away from traveling to Belgium and representing America at the WTC. The game is in a very exciting place right now. The emphasis on balance and updating the players is refreshing. Our local meta is booming and competitive with new players already joining our Steamroller tournaments hungry to compete.
I appreciate everyone taking the time to read this.
TT: Thanks again Brandon for taking the time to join us. For more of his insight into the game from Brandon and other members of FLORIDA META be sure to jump over to www.FloMachine.com for slow but steady updates on our favorite game, Warmachine.