Last weekend I played in my first warmachine tournament. My FLGS put on a "Battlebox beatdown" tournament to try and give some of the newer folks (like me) a chance to get involved. Battleboxes only, and they asked that if more experienced players were going to play that they play a totally new faction. I was a really good time, although I didn't fare that well.
I lost two, had one bye round, and won my final game. Two of my games were against Hordes, and that just confused the hell out of me. Warlocks can just do so much stuff in one turn, and their ability to push their damage off to their warbeasts threw me at first. I had a better handle on the Fury mechanics by my second game vs. Hordes, and I managed to pull out a VP win against the trolls. I didn't pull off a single caster kill (weak sauce, I know), but my caster never got killed either.
The tourney has pretty much given me Warmachine fever. I've been painting whenever I can, and I've got a pretty solid set of options put together for 500pt games. I'd like to get a set of Long Gunners done, but I haven't got to them yet, instead spending most of my time rounding out my core units with some additional solos, another heavy, and Hailey to giver me some options at warcaster.
A Defender seems like the right idea with Hailey.
Gun Mage Captain Adept
A Stormsmith, for dealing with that hard to reach unit leader or solo.
Next month my FLGS is planning a 350-point, anything goes tournament they are calling "CheeseMachine," where they are encouraging us to bring the stinkiest, cheesiest lists we can think of. It should be fun, be I'm having a hard time coming up good Cygnar cheese. Everyone else just seem to have more... After that, we are working up to a 500 pt. tournament in November. I can't wait.