Remembering The Immortals…
Dark Age has held the much lauded and heavily sought after March to Immortality tournament circuit annually since 2008. Each year (with 2010 being the exception) a single skilled or lucky player has crawled and climbed to the top of a pile of vanquished foes to be crowned as one of Dark Age’s Immortals. These Immortals, transformed into game play pieces by the Dark Age staff, fought hard to get where they have – they earned their place in our story.
Now however, we want to look at their story. We took a closer look at our Immortals and asked them a few questions about how their journey down the road to Immortality treated them, and what the tournament circuit was like in their experiences.
Today we are going to have a little chat with Chris Hojnowski, the original winner of the 2008 March to Immortality, the first Immortal in Dark Age, and the devious mind that helped us come up with the brutal and deadly Warlord Hoj.
Bryan Steele: Hello Chris! Thanks for giving us a few minutes of your time and talk to us today about your March to Immortality and your powerful presence in the Dark Age. With GenCon just a few months away and time running out to get in on March to Immortality Qualifiers, we figured you and the other past winners who have been immortalized in the game might have some fun insight for the masses. First and foremost, how did it feel to win the March to Immortality in 2008?
Chris Hojnowski: Well Dark Age was still "new" at the time. I remember playing (and winning) every tournament for three years in a row at GenCon, so I went in expecting to win that. I mean I literally beat the makers of the game and even started an annual challenge with one of the guys of stealing a d20 from the loser. I have four of his dice… he has never taken one of mine. I was overwhelmingly happy that I won, but not surprised.
BS: I know it was a few years ago, but do you remember some of your matches you faced during YOUR grind to the Immortality finals? How tough was the competition?
CH: I'm not sure if anyone remembers, some of the "old timers" will remember, I literally broke the game. I made the "Gunline" list; no one stood a chance. My army list was put up on the net for a year because I dominated the tournaments the years before the first Immortality. No one found a solution (because at the time, there was none), the "re-launch" fixed my exploit, but still I was hung over and throwing up cheap booze from the night before in the minutes leading up to the match, and I tabled EVERY opponent, I achieved EVERY objective and denied EVERY objective, I had a great list that just did more than everyone else could. There were good players for sure, but on a "math-hammer" basis, they never stood a chance.
BS: Well, I’m glad we on the design team have re-vamped the tournament system yet again to help stop the exploit-lists from cropping up again. Even so, did any opponent or specific force stand out as your greatest obstacle?
CH: Only one, and I didn't even play him. My best friend, also from our New Jersey crew: Wong. He had a "Mary Bomb" list with min-maxed squads all with grenades, all hidden in terrain and just throwing AoEs (this exploit was also corrected), but he lost to Kyle who was running a very fast and well-constructed Skarrd list. So I never even played against it in a tourney.
BS: What was your force like? Did you have a particular goal in mind when you were building it?
CH: As I said earlier, I MADE the Gunline. I thought it was foolish not to have as much range as possible in as many squads as possible! I out-activated every other force and the only thing that didn't shoot in my list was a medic. My goal, shoot it... If anything managed to reach me, the Saint would chain fist it away.
BS: Other than coming out on top in the finals, what was your shining moment along the way?
CH: Round one I played versus an Ice Caste guy. I got the first activation, activated Saint Mark, aimed and shot his Soulcaster. I rolled a 1, auto-wound; aimed again, shot again, I rolled a 4 to hit him… and he rolled a 20 for his save! In the first minute of the match he had lost the main part of his force and literally said, “Well, my objective was to keep him alive, so I guess you win.” Ha! He was a good sport though; so I killed everything else too just for good measure.
BS: Cool story! It is scenario situations like that one that has come up in our tournament format design meetings, so hopefully games will be a little more balanced from here out. How did you decide upon the great warlord Hoj, and what sort of input did you have on his creation?
CH: Well I was told that my guy could be put into a new faction, so I was excited, but I didn't know the rules of anyone else in my faction. I decided upon making a very survivable character that looks like me. I was given a long leash in making my mini, and it truly was a great experience.
BS: Are you currently playing any Dark Age for 2012's March to Immortality?
CH: I honestly have given my input on this, I know I auto-qualify for the immortal since I'm a past winner, but I truly believe that once you win the immortal once, you shouldn't be allowed to make another guy again. So no, I haven't been playing. The Immortal is the Highest prize in all mini games right now; name one other company that lets you create your own model with its own rules!!! The prize is awesome, and as such, I'd want as many 'new' people to have the ability to make their dream-mini come true. So no, I generally abstain from the Qualifiers. I mean, I'll play in the Immortal, but my goal isn't to win and break the game (again). Also, I had my fame, I had my fun. I don't want to trivialize my win, so I won't make another model, even if I ever won again.
BS: Well, as I said earlier, we are re-vamping the tourney system…and have some ideas if an Immortal wins the finals again…but we’ll see. Regardless, in the games you HAVE been playing, what sort of force have you been using this year?
CH: Outcasts, with Hoj leading the charge (behind Mongo of course, ha ha!), I'd expect someone to slap me if I wasn't using my own creation; I love myself far too much.
BS: It’s actually a pre-requisite for the auto-qualifying, to play your own figure… so your ego is well deserved! Any parting advice to everyone walking along the Road to Immortality in Dark Age: Apocalypse along with you?
CH: Play the game with what you like. Don't net-list. My best friend plays the game with what he loves and is the toughest competition out there. Be creative, and in the end, enjoy the game. I know everyone wants to win, but what fun is winning if you never have fun actually playing?
BS: Hey, thanks for your time, Chris! We’ll see you at GenCon!