Style Series – Adam Trunzo
Welcome back you lovelies, I hope you and yours are safe and well and that you had a good holiday and New Year! This time our subject is a chap I have followed ever since I decided to hop back into AoS after rage quitting Warhammer Fantasy Battle.
At the time I felt I was doing well with Seraphon and Kroaknando, he was tearing up the US scene with non Kroak lists, (a feat I’d not thought would be possible). Since then I have always looked forward to seeing what he’d be using at the events attended and I’ve never been disappointed. A true maverick that seems to be most comfortable in the fringes and has the success to prove netlisting isn’t always the path to victory. Not only that, but his armies are absolute stunners (his Seraphon Prime is my favourite conversion ever) and he still finds the time to create beautiful display boards to accompany them.
Please let me introduce Mr Adam Trunzo!
Q1: Hi Adam! I’m so pleased to be chatting AoS with someone I’ve followed in the US scene for as long as I’ve played myself. How has your hobby been during the pandemic?
A: Tournaments were always the primary motivator for my hobby so I have not been as active as I have in the past. It is interesting discussing lists and tactics with people knowing that it will shift multiple times before I reach a gaming table again.
Q2: Thank goodness for toy soldiers huh! So, tell us a little bit about your background in Warhammer.
I am a member of the Wisko Kings, a loose affiliation of rural players in my state that fly under the same flag at tournaments but don’t generally get together. As an adult, I came back to the hobby in 2013, played through the End Times, and stuck with AoS through the transition while also playing Infinity and Saga. I do quite well at tournaments, usually either winning them or coming in the top 3. In the last two Adepticons I placed third then second (and was aiming for first this year!). I have done particularly well with my Skaven, having an undefeated record of 33-0 with them at tournaments since the book came out.
Q3: What is your approach to tournaments like? Where are your favourite places to compete?
I live in the Midwest of the United States, which has long been a bastion of sportsmanship and hobby while still being fairly competitive. I personally am somewhat unique as a competitive player in that I live in a very rural area and don’t ever play games outside of the tournaments I attend. I also only really attend tournaments within the Midwest and typically attend 3-5 a year. I’ve always wondered how I would fare if I travelled around the country playing but I am pretty happy staying within the Midwest. I regularly attend Adepticon, Midwest Meltdown, and Holy Wars along with some other regional events.
Q4: How would you describe the Mid-West’s approach to competitive AoS? Is there anything unique about this part of the world and do you see any influences there on your own playstyle/approach?
The midwest has always been a hobby first scene. I could not imagine showing up to a tournament without a top level paint job, conversion work, and display board. We have a lot of pride for the level of hobbyists we have in the midwest and have earned our reputation. When I see folks in other parts of the world play on rather bland tables with barely painted armies it just looks strange to me.
Q5: The hobby aspect is clear from the photos! The level of hobby envy I have for the incredible display boards and the beautiful armies you produce is only matched by how impressed I am at how consistently you perform at the events you attend. How do you find the time?
Thank you for your kind words. Getting the creative juices flowing has always been more of a limiting factor than time. I never feel great just assembling an army just to get it on the table. I much rather like having a completely unique project. I may go weeks or months at a time just occasionally studying started projects until some inspiration strikes or I am feeling bold enough to do a resin pour or chop into some pink foam. I consider myself a passable painter but my real strength comes in having a creative vision for space and composition for display boards so I just lean in to that to do the heavy lifting for hobby awards.
Q6: You clearly put a lot of effort into the armies you run hobby wise, and the lists I’ve seen you run are often unique and go against the grain. Are the lists you run inspired by the hobby front primarily, or are there darker forces at work (anti-meta picks, podium aspirations etc)?
I am usually hoping to win or place well at any tournament I attend but have refrained from chasing the filthiest lists. I tend to like using slightly off-meta armies and units that maybe lack solid punch and staying power but have rules that allow me to come at the game from a different angle with things like teleports, power projection, etc.
Whenever I build a list I try to present problems that people are not building counters for and I spend a lot of time trying to think about how other players are envisioning what a game looks like and try to avoid playing that game to keep them off balance. If I have built a list that has the opponent scratching their head from the start then I know I am in a good spot. This is a particularly solid tactic when people know you are competitive as they assume you know something they don’t when you aren’t bringing one of the top tier lists.
Q7: This out-of-the-box style of thinking is my favourite approach to AoS, and a 100% winning record over 33 games in competitive play is something rarely seen indeed – bravo! What is it about Skaven that resonates so well with you and your playstyle?
Skaven are far and away the most superior faction in AoS and all games of all time both in terms of lore and dominance on the tabletop! The other armies I have painted since AoS dropped were just something to play with until my rat boys received their own battletome.
It has been a rollercoaster of adjustments since then but I think Skaven are one of the most flexible armies in the game. I think that competitively, their core strength is their ability to ignore the normal rules of how to play the game. They have shooting that isnt shooting (cannons, warpfire throwers, etc) and they can effectively ignore battleshock. My main success has been with a core of stormfiends and other power projection pieces shoved to the middle of the table using the soulscream bridge and surrounded by clanrats.
Unfortunately, I think the meta is seeing their strengths of upper end casting and hordes put to the test by top end casters and horde busting tools in other armies. I always watch the meta and hope to see Skaven slip off the most wanted list, the better to show up and catch opponents unawares (and preferably with their back turned)!
Q8: I loved your point earlier, about how bringing a head-scratcher of a list rather than one of the usual top tier lists can make ‘traditional’ competitive players assume you know something they don’t. It’s my firm belief many games are won or lost in your head.
How important to success do you think what’s happening off the table is, and do you have any advice for those hoping to shore up their own mental defences?
Interesting question. There have been a number of articles covering this recently and I can only echo what they say about exuding a confident presence, putting your opponent off balance (without being gamey), and giving opponents decision fatigue by presenting many difficult choices right from the start of the game. Psychology is certainly a fundamental part of the game and can certainly lead to some poor snap decisions or opponents squirting the musk of fear during deployment.
As far as preparing yourself, my main tactic is to download all the opponents warscrolls and save them in the ‘My Army’ tab of the AoS app and ask for a paper copy of their list which I then scribble notes on regarding what spells/prayers/artifacts do. By laying out all the information early, I can start to get inside their head and see what sort of play style they tend to prefer and adjust accordingly.
I also favor the concept of flipping the idea of choosing who goes first on its head and making it a liability rather than an asset by having a high drop army with massive power projection. It makes them start off the game with a no win choice between going first and facing a wall of clanrats/skinks/etc or letting me go first at which point I take the center ground and can hammer key units from range.
Finally, I think it is important for everyone to take stock of how much risk/randomness they are comfortable with and come up with ways to stretch their comfort zone on this. It seems to me that as gamers become more competitive they also become more risk averse. They want their rerolls or automatic actions. This means that if you let them know that turn one you could hypothetically do something calamitous to them they naturally avoid it and might deploy or act more cautiously. If you have a few of these in your list then it can really get under the skin of players who like to control the situation. Paradoxically, by embracing chaos you can become the one in control of the game. Just as the Great Horned Rat wills it…
Q9: All of that and a packet of crisps – top notch insight! I appreciate your gaming experience is mainly centred around the Midwest. Do you know much about other parts of the American scene? If you did manage to compete away from your typical hunting grounds, what considerations would you give to the local metas? Would this have any bearing on your list choices or in-game strategies?
From what little I catch from battle reports and other articles is that other parts of the States hold the competitive part of the game as the most important with hobby as a less important aspect. That being said, there are incredible hobbyists all over the US, I just see more conversation about squeezing the most out of the rules than hobby stuff.
The biggest consideration I would have for playing outside my area is just to make sure all ambiguity is handled before the game regarding dice rolls, terrain, movement, etc. Each region plays with some basic assumptions that aren’t necessarily universal.
Q10: With 2020 being a bit of a write-off, what are your plans for 2021? Any new army projects you’re working or planning on?
I don’t really have any plans for 2021. It’s kind of amazing how much not having tournaments to go to has suppressed my ability to plan new hobby projects. I am intrigued by the new books that are coming out and how they can breathe new life into all the older armies out there. Of course, if there are new eshin or moulder rules then I will be all in. I guess there’s also the Kurnothi floating around out there…
Q11: Finally, with this forced sabbatical from events, what are you most looking forward to when we can all roll dice together again?
Seeing my friends and hearing and seeing what they have been working on is definitely what I look forward to the most.
I think that is certainly what I’ve missed the most in 2020 too!
Once again, thanks to Adam for taking the time to shed some light on your area of the world hobby-wise, and for sharing your take on our hobby. Check him out over on Twitter @Mr_Trunzo if you don’t already follow him and have a scroll through his timeline. You’ll see many wonderful W.I.P shots of all the commission and personal boards he creates, plenty of gorgeous models and more shots of him with all his trophies, equal parts hobby and gaming (he sports a fine beard to boot)!
And thanks to you, the reader, as well! I hope this was a useful way to spend your time. Do let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see more of from these little interviews, questions you would like to be put forward to these exceptional AoS minds or if there’s anyone in particular from any part of the world you think would be great to probe, I’ll happily give it a try.