Apologies to Michal, I neglected to post when Mark and I would be playing the finals. We were able to get to those this (my) morning (Mark's late night):
Game 1: AC13 Sentinum
Mark/Samnite: 3 Banners Won, 36 Blocks Lost
Todd/Roman: 8 Banners Won, 21 Blocks Lost
If the Romans had been able to peer into the Samnite hand, maybe they would have pushed on the Samnite Left early in the game and been able to rout the Barbarian Chariots. Instead the early game was spent pecking away with the slingers until the Samnite Right made a concerted and cohesive push. Romans were holding Double Time and First Strike, and felt confident about being able to control the upcoming clash. A little too confident, as the first engagement involved a roman MI and HI going against a pinned Samnite MI, with a 2-block HI as the follow-on target. The first Roman attack only garnered a hit, while the bb took 3. A coin-flip for the Roman HI against the now 3-block Samnite unit was called heads and came up tails. Fortunately for the Romans, the Samnites could not transfer the leader to the 4-block HI, and after crushing the 1-block Roman MI with that unit, chose to attack the Roman 2-block HI with the Smanite 2-block-leader-attached HI. First Strike was successful in removing the unit, and then sealed victory by hitting on the leader check as well. The single block Samnite MI still had a shot, but only grabbed one hit, since not supported by a leader. The Romans were able to keep the momentum going to a 5-1 lead, and then played Spartacus, hoping to get the final three banners before losing any further units. The rolls were too good, however, and no follow-on action could be had to get the last banner. On the following, final turn, the Samnites had the possibility of four banners, with some luck. They were able to get two, before a battle back ended the game, setting up a benchmark of four banners for the Samnites in the deciding game.
Game 2: AC13 Sentinum
Mark/Roman: 3 Banners Won, 31 Blocks Lost
Todd/Samnite: 8 Banners Won, 20 Blocks Lost
The initial draw coupled with only needing four banners allowed the Samnites to be very aggressive after a couple set up/protect from ranged attacks moves. The first charge was a Double Time from the Samnite Right that took one of the pinned Roman MC's. The response by the Romans took one of the Samnite HI's, but not before a three hit bb softened the Roman flank, allowing the Samnites to remove a pinned HI and the weakened MI, taking the banner count to 3-1, Samnite. A good Spartacus roll went a ways towards the Romans being able to squash the Samnite Right, but the margin for error was gone, not being able to relinquish another banner. The Samnites had just drawn FS, and though the timing of the play was debatable, it was vicious and prevented 6d from the Roman HI. Being the fourth banner, this ended the overall match, but the game played on. The Roman dice did not come through, and the 4-block Smanite HI only took two hits from the two Roman MC's, and dealt three (or more...) hits on each of the battle backs, bringing the game to 6-1. In a measure of revenge, the Romans were able to take down the Roman HI with ranged attacks, but the clash in the middle lead to the Samnites fielding the last two necessary banners, ending the game at 8-3.
One note, First Strike played a large role in both games, and happened to be drawn by the same player. I think we've had discussion about this before, but any interest in playing a tournament where the First Strike card is not in the deck? Myself, I am fine either way, and see merit in both allowing and disallowing the card.