Hi lovelies and welcome back to the second in our “Style Series” of interviews from around the Age of Sigmar world. I’m super pleased to be joined by Ash McEwan from Australia, the land down under- one of my favourite AoS scenes outside of the UK.
I love to see how the game is played in such a diverse manner, regionally and internationally and Oz feels very unique in its community approach. I always enjoy seeing the lists used in their events and Ash in particular, has always made me smile with his list build choices.
He’s a proper misfit!
He’s been heavily involved in the Australian Age of Sigmar scene since it first emerged at Cancon 4 years ago now. A proud member of his club, Clan Filth, he has been representing them at tournaments across Australia since their inception back in 2017.
The highlight tournaments in his calendar and the calendar of many an Aussie include Call to Glory at Cancon, Sydney Slaughter, Sydney GT and his favourite event of the year is the Rune Axe Team Tournament.
He’s been fortunate enough to achieve entry into the Australian Age of Sigmar Masters for the last 3 years and managed to win the ANZAC Cup with Nighthaunt last year! Nighthaunt you say?
Yup, ruddy Nighthaunt, told you he was a misfit…
So without further waffle from me, let’s crack on.
Q1: Hi Ash! How was the down under lockdown- are you back to gaming yet?
I’ve been doing well mate! Lockdown has been a super productive time for me, getting a bunch of side projects finished and playing loads of games of Blood Bowl and Warhammer Underworlds Online. I’m back on the front line in my Warhammer store now, and it’s been good to get back to seeing the community in person again- albeit without any activity going on in store for the foreseeable future. I’m yet to play a game of Age of Sigmar since lockdown but am definitely chomping at the bit to get back to tournaments again when they start back up!
Q2: What hobby projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m working towards a small Adepta Sororitas force for the new edition of Warhammer 40,000. I’m also getting my Blood Bowl Ogre team ready for a league with a slave giant (built from the Fomoroid Crusher) and a Firebelly to be the head coach and inducement if I start to fall behind. I’ve also got plans in the works to dive headfirst into the Sons of Behemat as soon as they drop and try and get them painted for Cancon 2021!
Q3: So let’s talk about your favoured playstyle/styles! To me, it seems like you’re quite adaptive, with unorthodox list builds even within highly competitive events like the Masters. What do you think?
Yeah I would agree with that. I think I’m adaptive both in the variety of lists I find enjoyable and challenging to play, as well as in the game itself- I very rarely have a set plan going into a game that I need to pull off as a win condition. I think if you want to compete at the top level of Age of Sigmar then one plan to victory just won’t cut it, and indeed the times I have attempted this strategy it has gone against me in the mental game where I feel I’ve lost if it doesn’t go off without a hitch.
The lists I build will always have multiple threats in multiple phases of the game which mitigates the effect of running into a hard counter. Beyond that I think the essence of my play style is more akin to poker than chess. I’m not just thinking about where my pieces and my opponents’ are on the board, I’m thinking about what my opponent is trying to achieve and throwing out bluffs and rises to force error in their critical plays.
Q4: You’ve been a consistent performer and I always enjoy looking out for your list choices. Do you feel you like the leftfield more than the standard builds? And if so, why?
Ash: I definitely prefer the left field choices over standard builds, but my army choices are far more driven by the models than the rules. My origin in the hobby is definitely more as a painter than a gamer so if the models don’t do it for me I’m not going to consider them. This in and of itself creates some interesting list choices (I’m looking at you Kairic Acolytes and your ugly cousin Chaos Marauders).
The other factor to this approach is that I always strive to make sure my lists are enjoyable for both myself to play and my opponent to play against. People light up when they see models they haven’t seen before other than on the box art, and you immediately have a talking point to break the ice in what can sometimes be a difficult social interaction at the start of a game.
Q5: How did you “discover” your style? Eg was there a list you used and realised it was “The One”, or did a friend tell you how you played, or did you realise by yourself?
I sort of naturally fell into my playstyle. It started back in 8th edition days when I played vampire counts in London. I was restricted by the scale of models I would be able to transport safely back to Australia, so instead of running around with a Terrorgheist like everyone else I learned to play the mind game- bigging up my threats to make my opponent second guess themself etc. That translated well into Age of Sigmar where my first army was Ironjawz– it was an ok army at best but by focusing on playing my opponent not their army I was able to mitigate its shortcomings.
Since then of course I’ve developed my skills through playing a variety of different armies but I do always commit to playing an army for a 12 month period. That way you have the time to understand how each army plays, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how to mitigate them.
Q6: What are the playstyles you don’t like? Have you used any armies you realised didn’t suit you?
The biggest no-go for me play style wise is something that’s not interactive for my opponent. The best example of this was Tzeentch when it first got a battletome. There were a number of mechanics in the Tzeentch arsenal that the meta of the time had no answers to, that lead to games where my opponent felt helpless and I got no joy from victories. As much as I was enjoying the new models and painting them to a high standard, I actually shelved that army for a while whilst it cooled off a bit.
Q7: I’m also super interested in different playstyles, be it within a club, between regions, or between nations. Do you feel there are any playstyle differences between territories in Oz? Or how does Oz compare with NZ, and globally?
That’s a very tough question! Of course there are outliers in any meta and if those are the people in your gaming club it may seem skewed one way or another. From my perspective Clan Filth was so named by its members as a tongue in cheek dig at the meta-chasers we saw popping up across Sydney, Australia and the world at the time. We weren’t prone to jumping to the newest filth and we prided ourselves in achieving despite the odds. I think this attitude can be seen across Australia quite a bit due to a phenomenon called “tall poppy syndrome”. Aussies like to cut down anyone who starts to rise above the crowd and that applies to the armies that rise in the meta. We go hunting for those overpowered armies and look for ways to prove to the world you don’t need *insert latest filth here* to succeed.
Comparing that to the few New Zealanders who have crossed the ditch to play in our events I definitely see a more standard approach to choosing armies based on the latest hotness.
That being said, I think they still play more reserved and cool headed than what we’ve seen from tournaments on display over in the US and UK. Certainly when I came over to Nottingham for Heat 3 in 2018, the players I faced relied upon the alpha strike a lot and when that failed immediately would pull back and play for the minor loss rather than keep pushing the Major wins.
Q8: Thanks very much Ash! Any parting words for budding “unorthodox” players/misfits?
The main thing with Warhammer is it’s something to be enjoyed. My play style is not for everyone, and if you enjoy playing Sunday morning armies that romp across the board with little regard for interactivity, that aren’t challenging to unpick how they work, mate go for it!
However if you want to play a very rewarding game that is more scalpel than hammer, a play style similar to mine is probably something to consider. You’ll find the glory in beating Flesh Eater Courts with Nighthaunt, and Slaanesh with Devoted of Sigmar, very intoxicating!
Q9 + Q10: Actually, another two final questions! My dream is to attend an event in Oz. Which one should I go to? And will you put me up on your sofa?
Well, the Pantheon of filth is looking for a fourth player for the Rune axe team tournament if it goes ahead this year- so you should join us for that and we’ll put you up for sure!
There with bells on mate!
Well, I am certainly not disappointed. Again I’ll reiterate my love for the whole Ozzie scene- bravo chaps for making it so diverse and dynamic, and bravo Ash for embodying that poppy cutting spirit!
I’d also like to thank Simon Weakley for helping me put the series together, and for editing my babble into articles. Cheers Bruce!
Next time, I’ll be having my good friend Benjamin Savva divulge what makes him tick (other than attempting to grow Warhammer’s longest rectangular beard). Until then, hope you and yours are well brother/sister..
Enjoy yourself x