Did a quick review of the army lists I will/may be facing at NATCON this weekend to see what my major concerns are going to be.
All up there are 32 competitors fielding most of the newer book armies in the game. Most lists are about what you would expect to see at a tournament but with a very strong tendency toward magic heavy. Only 3 are what I would call OTT and are lists that I would have thought would have been questioned by the judges. These were a Dark Elf list with a Dragon and 2 Hydras and a Warriors of Chaos list with 4 units of Chaos Knights, and a Skink heavy Lizard army. The basics of each of the armies going are:
Skaven - 4 players
Standard massed ranks of Clanrats, Slaves and Rat Ogres. 3 armies have Doomwheels, two of those in combination with a Warp Lightning Cannon. The 4th has a Hell pt Abomination. Having briefly glanced at the new Skaven book the Doomwheel looks scary but is likely to do just as much damage to the Skaven as to me especially as there are more Skaven on the board than Dwarfs.
Wood Elves - 2 players
Nothing major here just normal lists I have come up against before. One has a Treeman, the other a Treeman Ancient. Although this last list also includes 2 units of Wardancers which I really dont like.
Dark Elves - 4 players
This group stands out because of the list (submitted and accepted by the judges) which contains: 5 units of Harpies, 4 units of Shades, 2 Hydras and a Black Dragon.
Vampire Counts - 3 players
Nothing major here although there are a couple of Vampire Lords w. Infinite Hatred and Blood Drinker. One has the Drakenhoff Banner and another has 2 units of Black Knights in combo with a unit of Blood Knights. Nice targets for the Organ Gun.
Tomb Kings - 1 player
Seen this before not worried about it.
Beasts of Chaos - 1 player
Seems Ok to me.
Empire - 1 player
Mike T's army in his usual standard mix with 4 units of Knights, about what you would expect.
Lizards - 5 players
Three of these have Lvl 4 Slanns, 2 have Stegadons and one list that is OTT IMO as it has 60 Skinks, a Stegadon and a Lvl 4 Slann. If a Dwarf army takes a Gunline we get pinged in comp, so having 60 multiple poison shooting Skinks in an army seems some contradictory to me.
High Elves - 2 players
Standard lists here. One player has the Battle Banner and the other magic heavy with a Lvl 4, Lvl 2 and the Banner of Sorcery plus 3 RBT's, the Lvl 4 also has the Ring of Fury so thats 8+D3 PD and a bound spell.
Dwarfs - 3 players
Very interesting stuff here with the 2 other Dwarf players in the tournament. Of those 1 has a Lord on Shieldbearers like me that he has for some weird reason given the MR Gromil to which is a complete waste of time. MR Gromil gives you a 1+ AS. But a Lord on Shieldbearers already has a 2+ AS which you can increase to 1+ with the RO Stone, so spending more pts than that on the MR Gromil is just stupid really. The other guy has a VERY interesting list. Only two characters both hero level, one a Runesmith, NO warmachines and lots of infantry.
First impressions are that people seem to be going hard out to win and worrying about comp scoring last. Me I build armies around comp scoring and what works for me. Personally, I think the majority of the lists submitted are standard normal fare and OK, but many seem pretty brutal and its a pity to see them let through without some form of modification.
Now you could be cynical and say that the brutal lists belong to the leading players in the country, who are also the judges, and who also set the rules so they are ensuring the stay at the top. This seems to be the theme among many of the complainers on the local forums.
But I much prefer to be realistic and accept the fact that the NZ Warhammer tournament scene is getting stronger and tougher and people are adjusting their lists accordingly. This is after all the National (NAT) convention (CON) so you would expect to see strong lists. I would expect this theme to continue throughout the rest of the year as fighting for a Top 30 ranking and a place at the Masters heats up.
Of the course the other factor is that outside the first game in which your opponent is randomly picked your match ups are based on placings. So I don't really expect to meet the nasty lists in battle unless I do outstandingly well ;)
My goals haven't remained unchanged though I am going to enjoy myself, play as many different armies and players as possible, win as many games as possible and have a good time. But, the trend toward stronger playing fields is the reason I am taking High Elves to tournaments from now on. Dwarfs are A LOT OF FUN but you are not going to win tournaments with them unless you are an exceptional player and I am not (yet) an exceptional player. High Elves mean I can put together some much nastier lists and go hard out in my next few tournaments, especially now that I know that the Lvl 4, Lvl 2 with Banner of Sorcery combo is acceptable.