We managed to get some time with the current LVO Grand Clash champ Sam Cameron, and talked to him about decks, Shadespire and being on Warhammer TV!
So Sam, First congratulations on your recent win at LVO, did you enter with any expectations of doing well?
Thank you, it was a really well run and a fun couple of tournaments to play in. And the LVO is always an amazing Con, I’d encourage anyone thinking about attending to do so!
As for expectations, it’s always so hard to judge what the competition will be like. I had been doing quite well locally, and with my experience playing tight competitive games like Warmachine and Guild Ball so I was feeling pretty confident. I also felt I had identified a very strong build with Steelheart, one that wasn’t quite the norm and perhaps wouldn’t be expected at least in game 1 of 3. But all that being said, I would never have predicted that I would win both Warhammer Underworld tournaments at the LVO and luck was definitely on my side for several of my games so that always helps!
With Warhammer Underworlds being a relatively new game, can you give us a bit of insight into your gaming history? what systems have you played in the past? what attracted you to WU?
Like every other miniature gamer, I started playing Warhammer and Warhammer 40K in high school. Although GW makes amazing models for those games, the rules from a competitive and balanced standpoint leave some to be desired. From 2013-2017 I played Warmachine and Guildball quite competitively and travelled to a fair amount of cons and tournaments. However, between the model bloat in Warmachine, and a dying local Guildball meta, I was in the market for a new competitive game.
Warhammer Underworlds offered an interesting prospect. To begin with, being a GW game and based on the Age of Sigmar IP, Warhammer Underworlds has a large established player base to draw off . Unlike most new games that take years trying to significantly break into the gaming scene, Warhammer Underworlds did so very quickly, simply on the merits of being a GW game. Look at the very first Grand Clash, the game was roughly a month old and they had an 80 odd player tournament, that’s insane! So popularity and ease of finding games was a big draw for me.
The game is designed from the ground up with competitive balance in mind was the biggest draw, however. Its claim of being “The Ultimate Competitive Miniatures Game” is, of course, dubious at this point, but the game has a ton of potential and growing space. The deck building aspect lends itself to a rotating card format which can drastically extend the life and balance of the game while warding off rule bloat. GW is also really supporting this game with a tournament focus, with regular FAQs and Errata as well as tournament support even to small local game stores.
All that, and the game is fun, simple and very aggressively priced as far as miniature games go. If GW handles it correctly, they have a winner here for years to come.
Did you try many warbands/deck combinations out before settling on Steelheart’s Champions
I only picked up Warhammer underworlds in December so I didn’t have a ton of time with other warbands. Played at least 5 games (not best of 3) with each warband but really found myself at home with Steelheart’s champions. They had the strongest base stats in the game, both offensively and defensively and really lent themselves to the aggressive play style that I like.
Initially, I played a very defensive Steelheart build focusing on hold objectives and turtling up until the enemy comes to me. Over the internet, this was thought to be the strongest build for Steelheart and it certainly had its strengths. However, a hold objective based Sepulchral Guard deck generally does this game plan better, especially when the Guard player has 3 objectives on their side. Since Steelheart’s Champions have the best offensive and defensive stats in the game, I decided to do a complete aggressive deck. This worked quite well due in part to the many aggressive faction specific power and upgrade cards available to Steelheart. The gameplan of an aggressive deck lends itself to a snowball style of success. Assuming a few rolls go your way, you get glory for killing the model, often get glory for scoring an objective because you killed a model, and finally, you get ahead attrition-wise.
What would you like to see in the future of the game?
There are many avenues GW could take this game. I hope they continue to make new settings, core sets and warbands, all aggressively priced as they currently are. I think that eventually the game is going to reach a critical mass of cards available so I do think a rotating card format should be somehow implemented in the future, this would drastically help stave off card bloat.
Another neat idea would be to release at least two warbands for each “faction”. Just like there will be two Stormcast Eternal warbands and two Khornate warbands, I’d also like to see two undead, two Skaven, two Elven etc. Now when you come to a tournament, you’d bring both warbands for your faction (and perhaps separate decks, or the same deck with a sideboard) and each round you’d choose which warband you’d want to play once you know what faction your opponent is playing, similar to the two list format in Warmachine. This could greatly help the balance of the game as more warbands are released, it is likely some warbands are going to have bad matchups with others.
I’d also like to see a bit tighter wording on future cards with less room for interpretation. Though that being said GW has been very good at releasing regular Errata’s and FAQ’s to deal with ambiguity, the game is also very new, and there are bound to be growing pains.
Whatever happens, the game designer David Sanders seems like a really switched on guy and I’m sure the game will continue to be great.
Did playing Live on Warhammer TV affect how you played? what was it like being streamed live?
I have played several streamed games of Warmachine before so I didn’t really have an issue, though I was of course slightly nervous because my opponent was a skilled player. The streamed games were really well set up, they had screens for you to put your cards face up behind so that the overhead camera could see them but your opponent couldn’t, and it was really neat having the game designer David Sanders personally judge our games.
Have you got any advice for anyone thinking of entering the next Grand Clash?
The best advice I can give is to get games in with your deck. Theory crafting is very useful, but you don’t know how it will actually play until its on the table. My winning deck started out significantly different, but through 20 or so games I slowly refined it into something I really liked. Every card and objective, for the most part, felt useful and score-able. Know what’s on your deck and what’s left to draw as the game goes on becomes very important to your decision making as well, so knowing every card that’s in your deck is very useful.
We would love to see your winning deck, can share that with us?
Sure, its all about fighting and being aggressive. Since the LVO I’ve made some changes with the new cards, but the idea remains the same. Anyways, here’s the LVO deck:
Duel of Wits
Peal of Thunder
Army of One
Blessed by Sigmar
Slayer of Tyrants
Finally, when will we see you in Tournament action next?
Unfortunately, besides local tournaments up in Victoria here or maybe Vancouver, I won’t be able to make any tournaments until August or September. I work as a commercial fisherman between May and August so no gaming for me during that time. I’ll hopefully make the Nova open Grand Clash at the end of August, though I’ll probably be pretty rusty!
Thanks Sam, we look forward to seeing you in action at Nova!