Episode 80.7: The Disappointing State of the 40K Meta and How I'm Playing In It

No Battle Report from me last week, I had two games lined up one of which I canceled. The other I played which was against a bit of a different Ynaari list featuring three Autarch Skyrunners and two Shining Spear units. I didn't throw that game up as I got meaningfully tabled on Turn 2 and just wasn't even trying, I haven't wanted to play in a bit so I'm not putting my best play forward.

A big reason that I've been turned off from the game lately is that the meta is more or less solved, worst still it's solved in a very boring way. Right now Aeldari are on top by a huge margin when you look at what they can do as a whole. Dark Eldar is running rampant because of under-priced units and Agent of Vect disabling some popular lists or Factions. Ynaari is also still extremely good, the nerfs Games Workshop applied have done almost nothing to them other than make the list a bit smaller when running Dark Reapers (which are now required).

On the other side of the coin Imperium armies are still starting with a Guard base and then adding some combination of Knights, Custodes, and Blood Angels. Knights are VERY popular right now and will likely stay that way as they're extremely easy to play and get results with. I've definitely noticed a lot of less skilled players shooting up tournament charts both locally and reading reports online because of Knights. Fortunately the meta has pretty much accounted for Knights and by the end of July/August you should stop seeing poor play with Knights perform well.

Sadly few other armies are viable right now competitively, making the game feel like last years LVO Meta where Ynaari was the only viable list but not everyone knew it yet. Chaos is trying to pretend it's relevant with Thousand Sons Detachments and Obliterators but when you run the numbers they just don't have the juice to handle Aeldari or Imperium builds. Chaos players will continue to be stuck with that build and/or Alpha Legion all in lists until there's a massive shakeup, if one even comes. Tyranids are also trying to hold on but have a very hard time countering Knights while staying balanced. Hive Guard are needed in huge amounts and have to all stay hidden or they disappear while most melee threats struggle to be delivered or with damage output.

With 40K maybe not even getting a Codex in July because of Kill Teams and AoS 2.0, the game has grown very stale on the competitive stage. Most armies simply can't handle both Knights and Aeldari at the same time which means you're likely to go even at an event, at best, by making a read on your meta. Recalling my recent RTT Report one person brought three Baneblades, a hard read on Knights, but then lost to Ynaari. Softening the list against Knights would have only made those games he won harder, likely losing one to going second, to improve the Aeldari matchup some amount. Probably not worth it overall.

I could go into all the reasons for where the meta has settled but they're fairly obvious. Ynaari is still a huge obstacle for Games Workshop as the game simply isn't made to let units act twice. It would be best if they put out a temporary Renegade Knight e-Codex and just dismantled the existing abilities, unfortunately that's unlikely to occur. Dark Eldar is working off their most competitive options also being too cheap for matched play, I expect Venoms, Blasters, Disintegrators, and Fliers to all go up in points and probably tack on around 200 to existing lists. Knights are too cheap for a viable skew list and need to settle back somewhere between where they started and where they are now, making it much harder to fit three Knights into a list with other powerful elements. They'll also of course be touched when Guard gets nerfed which I think will also balance Blood Angels. Custodes are also too cheap on their units that see play with Shield-Captains being at least 30pts too cheap and Jetbikes being around 10 points under where they should be.

Fortunately the problems with 40K right now are obvious and I hope all of them get changed in the August/September FAQ, although since most of it is point changes they may wait for some until Chapter Approved. Guard are an easy fix in an FAQ and Agents of Vect will likely eat its nerf there too but it's likely the game is looking at another 4-5 Months in pretty much the same state as points are the main issue.

To that end I'm basically giving up on making or playing a list that's inventive or interesting in tournaments for the time being. I was making my previous lists works, which certainly had all the elements of powerful Imperium lists but had some flavor and tweaks that I thought set them apart. I particularly wanted to see if I could go back to Deathwatch but they just don't work in this climate and are going to be very bad once you can't get Command Points back with Guard, hopefully Games Workshop gives them a break. In any case I'll likely be building the following:


[b]++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium - Astra Militarum) [67 PL, 1004pts] ++[/b]

[b]+ No Force Org Slot +[/b]

[b]Regimental Doctrine:[/b] Catachan

[b]+ HQ +[/b]

[b]Company Commander [2 PL, 31pts]:[/b] Boltgun, Chainsword

[b]Primaris Psyker [2 PL, 46pts]:[/b] Force Stave

[b]+ Troops +[/b]

[b]Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts]:[/b] 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Chainsword, Laspistol

[b]Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts]:[/b] 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Chainsword, Laspistol

[b]Infantry Squad [3 PL, 46pts][/b]
. 7x Guardsman
. Heavy Weapon Team: Mortar
. Sergeant: Boltgun, Chainsword

[b]+ Fast Attack +[/b]

[b]Artemia Pattern Hellhound [18 PL, 270pts][/b]
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Flamer
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Flamer
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Flamer

[b]Artemia Pattern Hellhound [18 PL, 270pts][/b]
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Flamer
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Flamer
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Flamer

[b]Artemia Pattern Hellhound [18 PL, 261pts][/b]
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Flamer
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Flamer
. Artemia Pattern Hellhound: Heavy Bolter

[b]++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium - Blood Angels) [30 PL, 552pts] ++[/b]

[b]+ HQ +[/b]

[b]Captain [6 PL, 129pts]:[/b] Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer

[b]Captain [6 PL, 129pts]:[/b] Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer

[b]Captain [6 PL, 129pts]:[/b] Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer

[b]+ Troops +[/b]

[b]Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts][/b]
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

[b]Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts][/b]
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

[b]Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts][/b]
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout: Boltgun
. Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

[b]++ Supreme Command Detachment +1CP (Imperium - Blood Angels) [21 PL, 444pts] ++[/b]

[b]+ HQ +[/b]

[b]Captain on Bike [6 PL, 136pts]:[/b] Storm shield, Thunder hammer, Twin boltgun

[b]Captain on Bike [6 PL, 136pts]:[/b] Storm shield, Thunder hammer, Twin boltgun

[b]Librarian Dreadnought [9 PL, 172pts]:[/b] Furioso fist, Storm bolter

[b]++ Total: [118 PL, 2000pts] ++[/b]

Those who have paid attention to GTs will know that the Artemia Hellhounds are completely busted, clocking in at 90pts on a chassis where taking damage largely does nothing and sporting a huge threat range. These pretty much beat Aeldari lists by themselves as they kill all the common threats except Wave Serpents (which do nothing to them in kind) and Dark Reapers (although you can dice them down). The tanks also Explode on a 4+ for d6 Wounds which invalidates Custodes heavy builds as they must melee them to death or be slowly flame'd to death. In general the Hellhounds are probably the most broken single model in the game right now, they just aren't pursued because the cost is so high and they're certain to be nerfed. Fortunately for me I'm getting them for ~$10 each so why not put some filth on the table?

The rest of the list is the Guard CP farm, which I don't need but you might as well take it if you can, and a ton of Blood Angels to smash Knights and other big targets. With all the Stratagems two Captains have a 50/50 at one-rounding a Knight (likely losing one Captain even without going against a Thunder Gauntlet) while the Librarian Dreadnought will take one out if it dies after attacking (using the fight again Stratagem) which makes it an excellent candidate against Gallants. Against smaller targets like average Tanks/Monsters the Hellhounds can pitch in a few wounds, allowing the Captains to drop something in one turn without Stratagem reliance.

I'm not very excited about playing the army as it reminds me a lot of the Plagueburst Crawler Spam army I had, although it's not that unbeatable and not that same level of boring. Most of the "skill" will come from keeping the tanks apart so they don't explode on each other and the Captains. Against Aeldari in general the list will be criminally simple as I'll just run at them and flame stuff while eating through their CP trying to play the game. *sigh*

That's where I'm at for now, and where the game seems to be at. I doubt there will be any big changes until Games Workshop dishes them out, Orks may prove to be a thing but with Custodes being so prevalent it's hard to see them being top tier. I look forward to bringing you some filth-ridden Battle Reports until things switch up, although I will try to play some games with my more normal lists that are actually interesting to pilot.

Episode 80: See That Knight? Imma Kick It (Imperium vs. Imperium)

Missed my previous posts? Check them out below!


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As an occasionally proud American I spent my 4th of July the way the Founding Fathers intended, rolling dice to find out if miniature warriors from the fictitious future do stuff. True to my recently posted Battle Report I made some tweaks to my list that I'm going to go over BEFORE the game, feel free to skip it if you don't care.

As I've been running a Patrol Detachment to fit in Vertus Praetors I added the Vexillus Praetor back in. The guy is pretty tough, in some matchups he can keep my Guardsmen/Devastators alive a little longer, and with an axe he's a very good fighter. I also want to be able to make use of Vexilla Teleport Homer in certain matchups, such as against Knights, so having that delivery option is very worthwhile. I also added another guy to the Custodian Guard, they've proven themselves to be a Bullgryn type unit to me that can operate without support while having Objective Secured. This makes the Patrol much more tolerable, I don't get Command Points but I'm paying no tax as everyone contributes. I also pumped another Vertus Praetor into the unit for a total of five.

My Blood Angels also changed slightly as I swapped a Smash Captain for a Librarian Dreadnought. Normally I don't think these are very good but the focus of my list is adding anti-Vehicle/Monster. The Dreadnought has S10/12 which means with Red Thirst it's wounding on 2's even against T8. The Force Halberd is also AP4, cutting through almost every Armor Save those targets have, and does a flat 3 Damage. Having only three Attacks is sad but with Quickening you can average five, and then put Red Rampage on top of that. The reliance on Psychic Powers, lack of shooting, and lack of Invulnerable are the problems. However in my list he replaced a Smash Captain and Primaris Psyker, each not known for their shooting. While the Smash Captain has a 3+ Invulnerable he often gets gunned down by small arms fire whereas the Dreadnought isn't weak to that, both being survivable against different things. Finally armies have been cutting Psykers with the exception of Ynaari/Eldar and Tyranids which I already feel favored against so I'm okay with that weakness for now. If only the Dreadnought could use Honor the Chapter.....

As a final small change I moved my Imperial Guard to Tallarn. This is solely to access the Ambush Stratagem if I'm against a Dominus Knight and feel like the game may hinge on keeping my Warlord alive. I don't expect this to happen often as the Dominus Knights aren't quite as popular and it would also depend on the Mission/List Composition that I was facing. Still I like the option and the Guard Regiment is overall irrelevant to the army.

So far this is the best I've felt about a list since switching to Imperium, both in style of play and in regards to Missions. I don't expect it to last long as Grand Strategist is almost certainly taking a bat to knee in the next Big FAQ and Shield-Captains on Jetbikes are likely taking a hit in the FAQ or Chapter Approved. It's also rumored the ITC Missions are being changed in July/August but for now I'm reasonably content. The Librarian Dreadnought is likely my lone "eh" inclusion but I'll know more after testing. Anyways, onto the game!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For this game I was against Jacob, a local who I've played once or twice. He's migrated a bit in 8th Edition as he started with Tyranids, then moved to Custodes, and now to Knights. I was specifically looking for games against a Knight heavy army as that's a huge focal point of my testing and Jacob didn't disappoint. It's also clear he's not someone who wants to be bothered painting a lot of models, something that's also near and dear to my heart.



Imperium (Me)

Patrol Detachment - Adeptus Custodes

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Auric Aquilis)
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Eagle's Eye)

Vexillus Praetor w/ Castellan Axe

4 Custodian Guard, 1 w/ Sentinel Blade and Storm Shield

5 Vertus Praetors

Battalion Detachment - Blood Angels

Librarian Dreadnought (Quickening, Wings of Sanguinius)
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield (The Angel's Wings)
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

5 Scouts
5 Scouts
5 Scouts

5 Devastators w/ Heavy Bolter, Missile Launcher, Armorium Cherub

Battalion Detachment - Imperial Guard (Tallarn)

Company Commander [Warlord - Grand Strategist] (Kurov's Aquila)
Primaris Psyker (Psychic Maelstrom, Nightshroud)

Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad
Infantry Squad

Imperium - Jacob

Supreme Command Detachment - Adeptus Custodes

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Auric Aquilis)
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Eagle's Eye)

Battalion Detachment - Imperial Guard (Cadian)

Company Commander [Warlord - Grand Strategist]
Company Commander (Kurov's Aquila)

Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar

Super-Heavy Detachment - Imperial Knights (Hawkshroud)

Knight Gallant [Landstrider] (Sanctuary)
Knight Warden (Endless Fury)
Knight Crusader w/ Stormspear Rocket Pod [Ion Bulwark]



Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #2
Vanguard Strike

 Imperium Secondary Objectives (Me)
Headhunter, Old School, Titanslayer

Imperium Secondary Objectives (Jacob)
Headhunter, Old School, Recon

Terrain was a tad heavier than I normally do, I got a few complaints in the tournament that I ran saying the Line of Sight blocking was a bit sparse. I don't think it's a good idea to let people hide their entire army but a bit more Cover was probably due. I've also been favoring Craters as less intrusive Terrain, it still plays a role but it's not splitting up the table more.

Since Jacob has so many drops I wanted to make sure I knew where his guns were before I put down my important units. The goal was to cut off as much shooting as I could on Turn 1 with Knights not being the most maneuverable models. With that in mind I started with the Scouts, putting two units in the central building and one off to the side but near my army. In hindsight I should have put all three in the building, more than 1" from the walls to prevent Jacob from doing much of anything to them.

Jacob responded by starting with his Guard, putting everything in the back of his corner and on his Objective. I put down some Guard as well, tucking them behind my Ruins, and put the Custodian Guard in with the bulk of the Scouts. So far the game felt like we might have a brawl in the center so access to Objective Secured there would be a big help if I ended up going first. Jacob moved on to his Shield-Captains, keeping them mostly clustered in the middle. I finished my Guard, not being able to hide all of it as I had to prioritize covering the Devastators.

Finally the Knights came down, again mostly in the center. Once I saw one I started dumping Characters up as far as I could, screened by the Scouts and Custodian Guard, with the Librarian Dreadnought and Vexillus further back. The Dreadnought has a good threat range so there's no need to toss him out just yet and the 5++ would be useful in saving some of the Guard and possibly stopping First Strike if I went second. I can also just Advance with the Vexillus to setup the Deep Strike for my Praetors, who went in Deep Strike. Overall I was able to hide all my important units while Jacob would either have to bring his Knights to me one at a time or move around buildings.

I won the roll to go first and after a lot of consideration gave the turn to Jacob. Having second turn in this Mission is very valuable because there are so few Objectives and I wasn't going to get anything done on Turn 1. If Jacob moves up then I can start getting my melee pieces into position, if he doesn't move up then I can hide my entire army and play for Turn 2, hitting where I want. In hindsight I should have taken Kingslayer on one of the Knights instead of Old School, it's much easier to achieve. But that's why we test isn't it?







Imperium Turn 1 - Jacob

True to the aggressive nature of Jacob's army he moved almost everything forward, the Warden going left and the Gallant going right around the building. All the Guardsmen stayed put, hiding behind Ruins, while the Crusader shuffled just a bit to get some Line of Sight on Guardsmen. All the Shield-Captains also came up the board, favoring the left, with one staying behind the Ruins on Jacob's side.

Shooting was very minimal with the Gallant doing nothing to the Scouts via its Heavy Stubber. The Crusader did manage to kill three Guardsmen with the Gatling Cannon but the other guns were out of range. I passed my Morale Check having successfully denied giving up First Strike and Kill Something, a solid start to the game.
Score
1-0 for Jacob





Imperium Turn 1 - Me

After some pre-measuring it was clear I could get a lot of my models into Combat with the Warden and some of the Shield-Captains. Both my Shield-Captains, the Blood Angel Captains, and the Custodian Guard moved to the center to prepare for those charges. I shuffled the Scouts a bit to hide the unit that was more in the open, I also moved the Librarian Dreadnought and Primaris Psyker up to Smite in future turns. Overall I had these models too far back and should have deployed more aggressively. The Vexillus shuffled a bit but he wasn't going to have too far to move in future turns.

In the Psychic Phase I got both Quickening and Wings of Sanguinius on the Librarian Dreadnought, moving him into my central Ruins. He was going to need a pretty long Charge to help out with the Warden, around 11" even with his buff, so I wrote him off for the moment. I failed to cast Nightshroud on the exposed Guardsmen.

Shooting was minimal as usual for my army. I did a wound to Warden with a lot of Hurricane Bolters, being unable to put them into the Shield-Captains. My Devastators also had Line of Sight issues because of the Ruins so they were no use. Moving to Charges I put the Relic Captain into the Warden, avoiding Overwatch, and he was joined by the other Captain. Both Shield-Captains were able to Charge the Knight and the non-Relic Shield-Captain, finally the Custodian Guard moved to help with the Knight and one of the Relic Shield-Captains.

I started with the Relic Captain, knowing it was extremely likely that Jacob would interrupt me. Red Rampage netted an additional two attacks and with re-rolls I was able to put six saves on the Warden. Unfortunately Jacob passed three of them without any re-rolls. Jacob did Counter-Attack, going with the Titanic Feet and putting four attacks into each Captain and the Custodian Guard. This only netted a wound on the Custodian Guard and three wounds on the non-Relic Captain. Jacob also forgot to use With the other Captain and Custodian Guard I chipped more wounds off the Knight. Both of my Shield-Captains went into Jacob's but he made every single save, completely bouncing me. Fortunately both of Jacob's Shield-Captains also bounced, I then finished the Warden off with Honor the Chapter. Jacob attempted to make it Explode via Noble Sacrifice but the Knight instead just slumped over.

Score
8-1 for Me




Imperium Turn 2 - Jacob

True to what I expected it was clear that the game was going to be decided by a big brawl in the center. Jacob Fell Back with both of his Shield-Captains in combat, the other zooming into the fray from over the building. True to their roles the Guardsmen stayed put and the Crusader shuffled a bit to get shooting angles but stayed out of the combat zone.

Shooting gunned down two of my Custodian Guard via the Crusader, one of my Shield-Captains was also wounded but survived thanks to a re-roll. Two Scouts went down to the Guardsmen Mortars but everything else bounced off as S4 shots into 2+ Saves don't often yield much.

The Gallant Charged my Relic Captain and Custodian Guard with the Shield-Captain who was available getting into my Shield-Captains (Man it is annoying to keep all this straight!) I was barely able to Heroically Intervene with my other Captain, getting me some valuable attacks into the Knight. Combat was a mixed bag, Jacob once again spread out his stomps onto both Captains and the Custodian Guard, not killing anything as the Storm Shields held. Jacob then forgot the timing on Death Grip, moving to his Shield-Captain which poked mine down to one wound.

Answering back my Blood Angels and Custodians were able to chip a few wounds off the Gallant but his 5+ Invulnerable held tough. Both my Shield-Captains managed to put down Jacob's, although via Even In Death... he was able to finish off my one wound Character.

Score
9-5 for Me




Imperium Turn 2 - Me

With everything in the center I knew this would be my deciding turn. I had more left alive than I should have due to some good Saves and Jacob not using Death Grip so I wanted to make the most of it. The remaining Shield-Captain moved to Charge whatever I needed, the Librarian Dreadnough poked out as well. My bottom Scouts moved up to try a go on the Knight as they can wound on 5's. The Vexilus Advanced to get the Praetors in range when they came down, I had an unfailable Charge by using the buildings but I wanted to get in the habit of thinking about Vexilla Teleport Homer. Finally the Primaris Psyker Advanced and the Devastators walked, both trying to contribute.

In the Psychic Phase I landed a Smite on the Shield-Captain for a wound, the Librarian Dreadnought also go both of its powers, putting it right where I needed. Shooting was minimal as my normal guns did nothing but Flakk Missile with the Armorium Cherub did 5 wounds to the Shield-Captain, leaving him barely standing. With better Praetor positioning I could have likely dumped Hurricane Bolters into him and maybe finished him off.

For Charges everything but my Shield-Captain got into the Knight, the Librarian Dreadnought and Praetors tagging the damaged Shield-Captain as well. My Dreadnought took 2 wounds from Overwatch on the Shield-Captains. I started with the Dreadnought, getting 7 Attacks via Quickening and Red Rampage. With that I was able to drop the Gallant to barely any wounds remaining although Jacob still used Counter-Attack. Once again the Storm Shields held as Jacob had a less than stellar roll. I was then able to finish the Gallant with a Smash Captain, which Jacob answered with Noble Sacrifice, causing it to Explode. This killed my Dreadnought, 3 Scouts, both Smash Captains, Jacob's Shield Captains, a Praetor, a Custodian, and dropping my Shield-Captain to barely any wounds.

Score
16-9 for Me





Imperium Turn 3 - Jacob

While Jacob's army was in tatters mine was too and I was running low on models that can put meaningful damage into a Knight. The Warden trudged forward, hoping to wipe out its opposition. At this point Jacob had maxed out Headhunter and would have a hard time with Recon, having six units on the table. Unless my Praetors got completely mauled, which was unlikely because the Crusader would have to shoot the units in its way and then roll very well in Combat, I could fly away and cut down some Guardsmen to remove that as an option. From there I could also hide the majority of my army continuously, so my mind was on playing for the win.

Shooting largely went into the Praetors, killing two more while the Shield-Captain took a few pot shots but survived. My small Scout units also got wiped by Mortars from the almost forgotten Guardsmen. The Crusader then crashed in on the Shield-Captain and Custodian Guard, killing the Shield-Captain but taking a few wounds back.

Score
16-11 for Me





Imperium Turn 3 - Me

With nothing left but to try and kill the Crusader I moved the Praetors into position along with the Vexilus. I should have also pulled the remaining Scouts out as they can chip in for a wound or two, I just wasn't thinking about that.

My remaining Psyker did 2 wounds with Psychic Maelstrom while shooting did nothing because the Knight was tied up. All my Charges went off, starting with the Praetors who did a lot of damage thanks to great damage rolls. Jacob once again Counter-Attack'd, killing two of the Praetors as I'd reduced him a profile, making it unlikely to kill the Vexilus with me having access to re-rolls and still being able to fight with him if he died. The Vexilus and Custodian then finished the Crusader off which did not Explode as Jacob used his last Command Point to try and re-roll it.

Score
19-12 for Me





Remaining Turns

With all of Jacob's important models dead the game was decided but we played on for fun. The game went six turns with me tabling at the bottom of Turn 6. I started moving my Guardsmen up the board as the Custodes went after what Jacob had left, eventually getting into combat. My last Custodian finished the game with 2 wounds, as did the Vexilus. On Turn 6 my Guardsmen got into the combat but helped very little, one unit stayed home to keep my Objective so the Company Commander could use Move, Move, Move and cross the board faster. Overall nothing exciting happened on the remaining three turns, just the occasional cheer when a Guardsmen did a wound to a Custodes from both me and Jacob.

Final Score
31-15 for Me









Post-Game Thoughts

Gonna have a lot to say here, I'll start with my army and how it performed. My list is clearly cheating towards killing big targets and I was able to get that done very effectively. I'm able to leverage more resources than I should need into a big target which was key to me killing the Warden on Turn 1, overkill seems to be the way to go right now. I do feel like I need more Mortal Wounds to handle Custodes but there's not really anywhere to get more of them and I should be able to drop a Shield-Captain a turn with what I have and smart play. Mixing Custodes with Knights is also probably the only combination where I can't get to them early because I am not shooting a Knight down.

I made a few Deployment mistakes such as compromising the Devastators Line of Sight, not hiding more Scouts, and putting the Librarian Dreadnought too far back. The Devastators should have deployed very far up and been circled by the Scouts to prevent Shield-Captain interference, that would have leveraged my advantage on knowing what Jacob could and couldn't get Line of Sight to on Turn 1. Putting the Psykers further up would have softened the Warden or the Shield-Captain depending on what I needed, getting me more value from those pieces. I'd likely have to defend the Primaris Psyker with Scouts but that's what they're there for. As far as my decisions during the game I feel pretty good about all of them, I just always made sure to dedicate as much force as I could when something had to die, that seemed to work out.

Jacob's list is extremely good, previously he did not have the Shield-Captains but they add much needed speed and Objective Secured to the list. Knights are prone to getting bogged down and are often lighter on anti-infantry shooting, Shield-Captains smooth that out and also open up Recon as a Secondary Objective. Knights give up a lot of Secondaries but aren't the best at recouping them into armies optimized for ITC play.

I think the decisions made on Turns 1 and 2 solidified the game for me even though my dice were cold and Jacob's were hot. Putting the Shield-Captains so far up let me tag them in combat, making them less of a threat without their re-roll. Most of the time I would have also killed the non-Relic Shield-Captain, holding those models back would have been the better play. Jacob's army out-shoots me but I out-fight him so he could have leveraged that more, coming in on Turn 2 and doing heavy damage. As it was two of the Shield-Captains were useless when he needed them the most. Playing that out I would have also held back, still killing the Warden, and then things get messier.

I don't fault Jacob for coming in with at least one Knight, with the terrain I can hide and I out-threat him when it comes to Charges because of favorable terrain interactions (FLY versus no FLY). I'm also much better off with my Secondaries (even having picked on incorrectly) so if the game becomes a stalemate until late then I'd likely still win. Hopefully this illustrates how Knights can be abused on tables with a correct amount of Terrain, don't play on open fields!

As for Knight compositions, I think Jacob's list is close to optimized. Gallants are completely insane and the Errant is probably second best. I don't much care for the Crusaders, the Battle Cannon is a very hit and miss weapon and they're horrendously expensive. I'd rather take a Castellan if you want backline support or just another Errant. D3 Damage just isn't sexy to me and that's on top of random shots in a Faction where every Command Point is precious. The Guardsmen could probably drop some Mortars, or all of them as no one is ever going to take The Reaper anyways and a Primaris Psyker would provide much needed Deny the Witch. I expect the Guardsmen and Shield-Captains to be staples until they both get nerfed soon, which is good because everyone in on Imperium is playing some mix of Blood Angels, Guard, Custodes, and Knights right now. Anything else feels sub-optimal. Once Shield-Captains creep up to ~190 and some combination of Grand Strategist/Kurov's Aquila gets nerfed then things will open up again. I also expect Knights will get nerfed a bit, especially the Gallant.

So far I feel good about playing into Knights which is good because they're everywhere. I'm trying to get more games against Tau, there's still no viable answer for Riptides that I have access to but with Knights being ascendant people seem to be massing Fire Warriors or Hammerheads. If that's the way their builds get pushed then Tau becomes much less of a threat for me. Ynaari also seems questionable but I don't know what they do against Knights, Dark Reapers don't kill one even with a full unit and all the buffs/debuffs and they die the second they pop their heads out. Shining Spears are worse than that while Disintegrators/Blasters rely on going first (so no Doom) and have other issues.

Overall I think the meta is very good for me right now, I can handle the big threat in the game and the changes from everyone else make their armies worse against mine. Of course my list will still have plenty of obstacles but it's in a good place for now, we'll see what changes may come in the next four months. Thanks for reading!

Episode 79: Yay More Tournaments! (Abridged Reports and Meta Discussion)

This past weekend I participated in yet another RTT, this time run by yours truly. Due to an uncertain headcount I wasn't sure if I was going to be participating in the tournament and as it turned out we had an even number of players without me. This was more than fine with me as I recently added some Custodes to my army but they need to be magnetized and converted so the list wasn't 100% tabletop ready.

Unfortunately one player dropped after the first round due to having his Knight destroyed on Turn 1 by two Shadowswords, which then exploded and killed almost all of his Characters. With that I had to step in and prevent a bye, being the TO I just seeded myself at the bottom, taking the player's zero score. I'm not going to do full Battle Reports for these games but I will go over them from a high level and also talk about what I learned from the event. Let's start with my list:



Imperium

Battalion - Imperial Guard - Catachans

Company Commander w/ Kurov's Aquila (Warlord w/ Grand Strategist)
Primaris Psyker

Infantry Squad
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar

Battalion - Blood Angels

Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

3 Company Veterans w/ Jump Pack and 2 Chainswords
3 Company Veterans w/ Jump Pack and 2 Chainswords
5 Death Company w/ Jump Packs and 4 Thunder Hammers

5 Scouts
5 Scouts
5 Scouts

6 Devastators w/ 1 Missile Launcher, 1 Heavy Bolter, 1 Stormbolter, and Cherub

Patrol - Adeptus Custodes

Shield-Captain on Jetbike
Shield-Captain on Jetbike

Custodian Guard w/ 1 Sentinel Blade and Storm Shield

4 Vertus Praetors

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The list is pretty anti-Vehicle/Monster which is a meta decision I made. Aeldari is all over the place as are Custodes, Blood Angels, and Knights so killing hordes is largely irrelevant for now. I'll talk more about the list at the end of this post.

We had 12 participants with a fairly even mix of Xenos and Imperium. Two players were on Knights with a small Guard Detachment, another had a Valiant along with Deatchwatch and Custodes, and the other two were sporting at least one Shadowsword. Besides that there were two Tyranids, a Ynaari, Harlequins, and Tau. Chaos only had one player who dropped after Round 1, unfortunately Chaos is likely to be on an even further downswing as their tools for handling Knights efficiently are very poor.







Round 2 - Versus Mixed Imperium

After the Round 1 drop I took over, being paired at the bottom as I had inherited a 0 Score. This game I was against Kevin, a Midwestern transplant who I had not played or met before. He was packing a reasonably competitive army featuring three Shield-Captains on Jetbikes, a Praetor, a Knight Valiant, and a Primaris force of Deathwatch. This was comprised of three Kill Teams each with five Intercessors and one of each special model except the Inceptor. They were backed by a Primaris Librarian and Primaris Watch-Captain with Plasma Pistol and Powerfist. Overall a very elite army but certainly some hard hitting elements.

For Mission we did ITC Champion's #2 with Hammer & Anvil Deployment, probably better for Kevin than me as he has more decent range shooting. However because his list lacked screens he's not going to be able to keep my melee elements out and my Mortal Wounds will give me the edge in the battle of the Shield-Captains.

Deployment wasn't much to write about, the Knight went down center left with a Captain, the other two went center right. The three Kill Teams spread out, a bit back from the line, with the Praetor on Kevin's Objective. I put my Guardsmen in the center behind a larger building along with some Scouts, grabbing me the center Objective, and put most of the Characters in with them. My Shield-Captains were both on the right along with the Devastators while the remaining elements hid in my backfield.

Pre-game I purchased The Angel's Wings and Death Visions of Sanguinius on a Captain and both 3++ Save Relics for the Shield-Captains. Kevin purchased the 3++ and re-roll Charges for his Warlord Shield-Captain who also had a 5+ FNP. He also set Troops as his Mission Tactic. Kevin also won the roll to go first and I failed to Seize the Initiative.






Kevin went through Turn 1 by moving everything up but not Advancing. All his units stayed in pretty much the same position on the board, keeping the matchups I had of my Smash Captains against the Knight and my Custodes and Mortal Wound output against two of his Shield-Captains.

In Shooting my Custodian Guard took a wound from the Hurricane Bolters of their Jetbike brethren but nothing else had Line of Sight. Kevin also declined to put a Shield-Breaker Missile into my Company Commander, I assume because his list is very low on Command Points so spending 2-3 would severely deplete him. One Shield-Captain Charged my Custodian Guard but bounced off as I made good saves, the Guard then killed the Shield-Captain outright as Kevin failed virtually all of his Saves!

On my Turn 1 I moved my fighty forces out, using Upon Wings of Fire to get my Relic Captain into a good position on top of Kevin's center building. He was joined by another Captain while the Custodes moved to deal with the enemy Custodes. In the Psychic Phase I did a wound to the Warlord Shield-Captain, following it up with four more from Flakk Missile and Hellfire Rounds. My remaining shooting was still mostly hidden although the Mortars downed an Intercessor and the Hurricane Bolters dropped a few more.

In Charges I put two Captains into the Knight, ignoring Overwatch thanks to the Relic, while the Custodian Guard and both my Shield-Captains Charged the Warlord. I started with my Relic Captain who popped Red Rampage, putting 12 wounds on the Knight. Kevin interrupted with the Warlord into one of my Shield-Captains but only did a wound. I then killed the Shield-Captain as Kevin just had to make too many 3++ Saves, I also destroyed the Knight with the other Captain and use of Honor the Chapter. Fortunately it didn't explode and I consolidated into Cover.








Having lost nearly half his army on the first turn Kevin was pretty resigned to his fate and went for points. The Librarian moved over to try and handle the Captains along with the remaining Shield-Captain while two of the Deathwatch Teams moved up on the right with their Watch Captain. Finally the remaining Kill Team strung out a bit while still holding the Objective.

Psychic resolved a Smite for three wounds on the Relic Captain and also put Null Zone up. The Relic Captain was then shot to death by the Shield-Captain while his counterpart held strong. One of my Shield-Captains was also killed off as Kevin moved his curse of being unable to make saves over to me.

For Charges both the Librarian and the Shield-Captain failed to get into my remaining Blood Angel Captain that was up the board.

My Turn 2 was busily spent moving up the board. All my non-Guard models moved to at least mid-field while I pressed further into the Primaris. I dropped the Death Company and Custodes Jetbikes on the extreme left of Kevin's Deployment Zone, the hope was to shoot and Charge him off the Objective and then pin his remaining units between my whole army.

I wasn't able to get Line of Sight for Smite but shooting killed off a lot of Primaris between all the Hurricane Bolters and other attacks. Charges got a Captain into the Watch-Captain and my Shield-Captain alongside the Custodian Guard into the front Primaris. Finally my Captain on the left CHarged the Librarian. I was able to get the Death Company into what remained of the Primaris on Kevin's Objective as well. Everything but the Watch-Captain was killed off for no losses although Kevin retained his Objective because of the Custodes having Objective Secured.

At this point the game was decided, we played through one more turn each. Kevin got some shots off and managed to kill a Captain but then got tabled on my Turn 3 as the tide of melee units overwhelmed the remaining Primaris.








Round 3 - Versus Harlequins

In the final round I played Collin, a local who I've played several times but who doesn't frequent my store. While he usually packs Tyrnaids or Nurgle this time he was seeing what could be done with Harlequins, an army I have not played since they got their Codex.

We played ITC Champion's Mission #3 with Frontline Assault. While Deployment favored the Harlequins the Mission was heavily in my favor as Collin wasn't packing anything that could stay on Objectives. His list was four Troupes of five each with a Transport, each with Kisses and Melta-Pistols, two Shadowseers, a Solitaire, a Troupe Leader, and three units of Jetbikes with Glaives.

Knowing I could out-deploy Collin I wanted to see if I could force something from him before committing the bulk of my army. To that end I put the Death Company in Deep Strike, then dropped the small Company Veteran units, and put the Custodian Guard in the middle. Collin started fanning out with the Jetbikes, putting a unit on each flank, and did the same with the Transports. I committed the bulk of my army to the extreme left flank but put a Captain on the right along with an Infantry Squad and the Devastators. I also Deep Stuck the Custodes Jetbikes and purchased Relics for both Shield-Captains. Collin won the roll to go first.







In true Harlequin fashion everything Advanced forward, a few of the Transports eyeing a Scout unit I'd put way up front for no real reason (I correctly deployed the other two as a screen for the Company Commander). Everything largely stayed where it started which was what I'd hoped for as Harlequins really need synergy from their Characters as well as bodies to win the day.

Shooting killed two Scouts with some truly awful dice from Collin, my Custodian Guard were also unhampered by the Shuriken Cannons from the Jetbikes. I did end up losing all the extra bodies from the Devastators but the important models remained.

For Charges the Jetbikes moved in on the Custodian Guard where I lost a wound but did four back. This left no-one in control of my center Objective instead of me Charging Collin on it and winning out with Objective Secured. I passed my Morale checks.


On my Turn 1 I sent all the Captains and Shield-Captains out, reasoning the if I can break the Transports Collin would have to contend with my Characters and I can mop up the now exposed Troupes. Some of the Scouts and Guardsmen shuffled around to build a better wall now that I could see what I was working with.

In the Psychic Phase I did a wound to a Jetbike, shooting put some Mortal Wounds on another unit of Jetbikes to soften them for a Captain. For Charges I go one Captain in with two Transports, one into the Jetbikes on the right, and one into a Transport on the left. The Shield-Captains each got into Combat with a Transport on the left as well.

Combat generally went my way as I wiped out the Jetbikes in the center and on the right, Consolidating my Custodian Guard onto my Objective. Also on the right I broke both Transports with Red Rampage and Honor the Chapter, this was great for me as those units were far from anything relevant going on. Turning towards the left I left a Transport on one wound between the Captain and Shield-Captain, fortunately the other Shield-Captain blew his target away, which Exploded, killing the other Transport. A few models died from each Troupe that fell out. I declined to Consolidate into any of the units as it gets me nothing.









For the second game my opponent found themselves missing a large part of their army on Turn 2 and looking to get back in the game. Everything that fell out of Transports readied to Charge into various Characters while the remaining Jetbikes Advanced up to threaten my Guard bunker. The Soiltaire used Blitz to get into my Guardsmen on the right.

Psychic put -1 to Hit on one of the Shield-Captains and -1 to Hit on the Troupe Master. The "infinite" Mortal Wound power also went onto my Shield-Captain but I won the first roll, nullifying it. Shooting killed two Captains under the pressure of endless Meltashots, the Jetbikes killed most of a Guard unit.

For Charges the Jetbikes got into a few units but lost a model to Overwatch while my Shield-Captains got Charged by everything but the Shadowseer. The Solitaire Charged both the Guardsmen and my Company Veterans. In Combat I lost a Shield-Captain but killed a few Troupes, I also lost the Company Veterans and some Scouts to the Solitaire and Jetbikes. Punching back I was able to kill a Jetbike.

On my Turn 2 the Custodians moved over to the right along with my remaining Captain, everything else held firm. The Death Company dropped to help with the big Combat on the left while the Custodes Jetbikes came in on Collin's Objective.

Between shooting and Psychic I was able to kill two Troupes off and put some wounds on the Jetbikes. I then Charged with everything that could, getting the Captain in on the Solitaire, the Shield-Captain in on a Troupe and Shadowseer, and the Death Company on the same. My leftover Scouts and Guardsmen jumped into the Jetbike Combat.

When the dust settled I'd killed the Troupe and the Shadowseer on the left, the Jetbikes, and the Solitaire. I lost a few Death Company.

From here we played a quick Round 3 where the remaining Troupe and Shadowseer tried to threaten my Jetbikes but only killed one while the Troupe Master finished the Death Company. I then tabled Collin as the Jetbikes Fell Back and shot while the Troupe Master got shot by and Charged.






Tournament Wrapup

I finished with 76 Points, two perfect victories on top of the 0 Points I inherited. First place went to our local Ynaari Player, who's top in the country, Second went to the gentleman running two Shadowswords, and Third went to a pure Knights Player. Overall the Shadowswords got two great matchups and then lost a somewhat close one to Ynaari.

Both pure Knight players did very well, coming in the Top 5. I was 6th on Points with Xenos doing overall poorly and Imperium claiming most of the top spots. I was disappointed that I played but didn't get to go against Ynaari, I think my list now does extremely well against either the Shining Spears or Dark Reaper variants. The Harlequin/Yncarne build is harder but I don't think it'll be as popular because it can't handle more prominent threats.

Judging from this event and seeing reports from recent GTs, Knights are the new meta. They're extremely simple to play, have a low cost investment, and can be tailored to handle any threat. With a Guard Battalion they can keep up the pace of their expensive Stratagems and also retain their home Objective in certain situations, reinforcing with a shooty Knight if needed. The Dominus classes seem to be a bit weak overall, they're just too expensive for their damage output compared to other variants and Shield-Breaker Missiles aren't all they're cracked up to be except against Imperium. I feel comfortable saying the Knight Codex will have the most drastic change on the meta of any Codex and with what we have left in the barrel are likely to retain that position.

I had numerous conversations during and after the tournament with people who just didn't bring a list to counter Knights effectively. Both Tyranid players are looking at more Hive Guard in order to trigger Ion Shields and then swap to another Knight. Imperium Players seem to be considering Blood Angels or Shadowswords. Unfortunately one Shadowsword isn't enough and they have to be Tallarn in order to guarantee the Alpha Strike. Oddly enough Imperium seem to have some of the worst non-Knight solutions for dealing with the big stompies, at least among the top Factions. It's very interesting to see how the meta has shifted so drastically in such a short time, I'm curious if Orks will pull back the other way. My gut says no as I don't think Orks were made with the tools to be competitive, time will tell.



Army List

As this was the first time I'd ever played this list I think it went well. The Custodes are very powerful and I expect the Shield-Captains to go up by about 30 Points each in Chapter Approved, they're stupidly under-priced when you look at similar models. That's one of the reasons I'm focusing more on the Vertus Praetors themselves, they're the better unit against Knights anyways. I was super impressed by the Custodian Guard, originally I was put off from taking the Patrol Detachment because they're a pretty big tax but instead they showed themselves as a great unit. Custodian Guard seem like they can fulfill a role similar to Bullgryn, they aren't quite as durable but they hit much harder, they shoot, and they have Objective Secured.

The Company Veterans were an experiment in being able to take out small screen units efficiently, stuff like Rangers and Fire Warriors, but I feel like the Hurricane Bolters can do that when I started running the numbers. They're also an Index inclusion as they cannot take Jump Packs in the Blood Angels Codex and I'm getting the feeling the Indexes are going to be gone at the end of the year. They're also very easy kill points so dropping them feels right for now.

I'm much happier with the limited Imperial Guard Detachment, Guard are just not great right now except for killing other Guard. The meta is looking to be more and more about killing Monsters/Vehicles with Infantry armies only fitting in as a counter to those lists (Plaguebearer Spam) so I don't want to be saddled with these Mortars and Lasguns. The amount of Hurricane Bolters I have clears hordes very effectively anyways.

My focus is now pretty much on being able to drop at least one Knight in a turn, preferably two. With Hawkshroud being by far the most popular House you're either killing the Knight or you're bouncing off of it. Having the ability to do Mortal Wounds certainly helps soften them up so the Devastators and Psyker are earning their keep there. Sadly the Death Company are likely to be out, they'll never have the chance to fight twice and even in a combo-charge with a Captain the Knight can interrupt and kill the Death Company, making them a one shot deal. The cost to get a unit that does meaningful damage to a Knight in one swing is also extremely high and not worth it.

Instead I'm going to experiment with the Vexillus Praetor and Vertus Praetors package which allows them to Charge from Deep Strike, this combo'd with a Shield-Captain does very high damage and both units survive the Titanic Feet well. As a weird inclusion I also want to test a Librarian Dreadnought, I normally wouldn't advise this but in my list it takes the place of a Captain and some small units, giving me less Kill Points. With Red Rampage and Quicken you can do extremely high damage and the Force Halberd removes the Knight's Save. The problem with the model is its total reliance on Psychic Powers, I'm gonna give it a shot though.

If you're looking to stay competitive I'd recommend cheating your list towards killing big targets. Knights are a big deal (get it?) and it turns out a lot of the models that kill them are also big. This is a pretty bad turn of events for some armies (Necrons, Chaos) but it is what it is. I'm going to be trying to get a lot of games against Knights as I expect them to continue to be popular in my area and maybe I can get a better understanding of how to beat them.

Thanks for reading!