Episode 53: The Testing Before the Storm (Chaos vs. Sisters of Battle) [Tournament Testing - Gross List]

Hey guys, I was fortunate to get a game in this week after one I had scheduled for the middle of the week fell through. Since I started my new job it's been harder to get games since I have a bit of an odd schedule, getting done at 2:30PM during the week, but I'm trying to make it work and luckily 40K is so active that it's not impossible for me.

Currently my focus is to get reps in with my Chaos army in preparation for two Tournaments in November, one on the 11th and one on the 18th. The latter is a two-day GT sized event and I'm taking it very seriously after I wasn't able to attend the previous offering. Unfortunately that means I have to play an extremely hard as nails army list and a lot of people find that boring to read about, especially for Chaos. I completely understand since spoilers, I'm taking a ton of Malefic Lords. However I'm doing a lot of experimentation with my army and I think there's more to be seen than just the Psyker spam, but if you see Tournament Testing or anything in the header for my Battle Reports, you're probably free to assume I'm taking just that.

This time I'm against Jon who is a latecomer to the Ladder League I'm involved in but has been tearing it up. He usually plays pure Sisters of Battle although he can mix in Dark Angels as well which I was excited for. My position has been that Mechanized Armies have the tools to do well against what I'm bringing, particularly Flier armies, since the Smites are not as impactful and a lot of my firepower (Cultists) can be without solid targets.

Finally I've made some fairly big changes to my army, again. I'll refrain from going into that too much since I have so many ideas for tweaks to Chaos, maybe when I calm down I'll post another writeup.


Chaos

Abaddon (Warlord w/ First Among Traitors)
Demon Prince w/ Wings, Malefic Talons, MoS, Intoxicating Elixir [Warptime]
Demon Prince w/ Wings, Malefic Talons, MoS [Demonic Strength]

40 Cultists w/ MoS
40 Cultists w/ MoS
40 Cultists w/ MoS

3 Obliterators w/ MoS
3 Obliterators w/ MoS
3 Obliterators w/ MoS

Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]
Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]
Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]
Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]
Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]

Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]
Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]
Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]
Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]
Malefic Lord [Warp Flux & Creeping Terror]

Summoning Pool: 10 Brimstone Horrors and 1 Blue Horror


Sisters of Battle

Celestine w/ 2 Geminae (Warlord w/ Legendary Fighter)
Inquisitor Greyfax [Dominate]

Callidus Assassin

5 Battle Sisters w/ Flamer, Meltagun, Sergeant w/ a Plasma Pistol
5 Battle Sisters w/ Flamer, Meltagun, Sergeant w/ a Plasma Pistol
Immolator w/ Immolation Flamer
6 Battle Sisters w/ Flamer, Meltagun, Sergeant w/ a Plasma Pistol
Immolator w/ Immolation Flamer

6 Dominions w/ 2 Flamers, 2 Meltas
Immolator w/ Immolation Flamer
6 Dominions w/ 2 Flamers, 2 Meltas
Immolator w/ Immolation Flamer
10 Seraphim w/ 2 Hand Flamers, Sergeant w/ Power Sword

Exorcist
Exorcist
Exorcist


Scenario and Deployment
ITC Mission 2 | Vanguard Strike

As per usual from here on out I will be using the new ITC Missions, they're much more interesting than the old ones in my opinion and they're the standard choice in my meta.

Deployment was pretty standard for both of us. Jon put his Exorcists in the back with good lines of fire and the Immolators up pretty aggressively. Celestine and the Seraphim was also up and ready to try an alpha strike with her guaranteed Act of Faith. The foot bound Sisters went onto the Objective nearest Jon's long table edge and of course the Assassin went into Reserves. Greyfax rides with the 5 man Sisters squad.

I put two Cultist units up front and one in the back. Obviously the Assassin can appear very close from anywhere and Celestine is very mobile. My Characters all went in the sandwich between the Cultists and the Obliterators went into Reserve.

For Secondaries I took Kingslayer [Kingslayer], Big Game Hunter, and Recon. Jon took Headhunter, The Reaper, and Kingslayer [Abaddon]. I think taking The Reaper against me is a mistake, it's hard to actually destroy my units for many armies and I didn't feel like Jon would be able to do that in one turn. To be fair he didn't have great options, Death By a Thousand Cuts is on the table but I'm very safe with my Characters and if he's not going to get through the screen for The Reaper he's not going to get to the Malefic Lords in any quantity.

Jon won the roll to go first and I failed to Seize. My plan for this game is to just move up the board while focusing on the Transports. I'll likely lose the Obliterators to Exorcists unless I can make terrain work for me but overall they have few good targets and aren't going to win the game. I also want to leverage how hard it is to attack my army and get an early Scenario lead, this army is built to be strong in the ITC Missions whereas I don't see other prioritizing that yet.






Sisters of Battle Turn 1

Movement Phase
Celestine and the Seraphim both use Hand of the Emperor to scream across the table and stop right in front of my leftmost Cultists. The Dominions also use their pre-game move to get in position on the right and prepare to flame my Cultists there.

In the actual Movement Phase the Immolators finish getting into position while the two with Battle Sisters in them move up to the center-right. Jon also decides to bring the Assassin in but rolls a 6 for her and decides against using a re-roll. She's placed on the right with a possible Charge onto the Intoxicating Elixir Demon Prince.

Psychic & Shooting Phase
With no Psychic Jon moves to shooting. Bolt Pistols from the Seraphim and Geminae kill a few Cultists and Celestine chips in for another few. The Immolators roast ~10 Cultists, I was almost able to pull one out of Shooting range since Jon hung back but I needed to lose one more model. The Exorcists sadly fire into some Cultists but two of them only get one shot so they don't do too much.

Charge, Fight, & Morale Phase
Jon does quite a bit of thinking and decides to start with the Seraphim into the Cultists, making it in but losing 4 to Overwatch. I had 60+ shots with full re-rolls and wounding on 4's, really painful for a unit like Seraphim to walk into.

Celestine was a bit far back, I'm not sure why Jon didn't move her as aggressively as possible. My guess would be fear of getting Seized on and having Celestine dropped, which is possible but very unlikely. In any case she tried a Charge into the Cultists and Abaddon but came up short, taking no damage. Jon did use a re-roll but in classic fashion, rolled another 1. The Assassin also failed her Charge.

In Combat I lost a few Cultists and drug down another two Seraphim. The fly girls passed their Morale, my units auto-passed due to Abaddon.

Jon picked up 1 Point for having an Objective but didn't manage to destroy a unit or pick up any Secondaries.

Score | 1-0 for Jon









Chaos Turn 1

Movement Phase
With my left Cultists in Combat I moved up on the right, hoping to open at least one Immolator with Smite and then shoot up the squishy Sisters. My right Demon Prince moved to set himself between the Assassin and Immolators while the other one and Abaddon hid behind a wall to Charge Celestine without Overwatch if necessary.

My Obliterators came down but Jon did a good job of walling me out. In the end I decided to place them defensively which will make it hard to get the Exorcists, sadly I wasn't able to get two units within Abaddon's Aura since the Seraphim are so in my lines. Overall I placed these very badly and really need more practice with them combined with Jon doing a good job with his army placement.

Psychic & Shooting Phase
My Psychic Phase is brutal to the surprise of no one. I kill all the Seraphim, both Geminae, and Celestine who has to burn a re-roll to come back to life. I also put wounds on both the Immolators due to some weird LoS but destroy neither of them.

Shooting kills the Assassin with an Obliterator unit and destroys both the Dominion Immolators although none of them die. I put a Wound on another Immolator with Cultists and kill 2 Sisters with the Cultists on the right.

Charge, Fight, & Morale Phase
My Demon Prince tries a Charge on the Dominions who are undamaged and makes it, taking 1 Wound. He then eats all of them, going up to 11 Attacks thanks to Death to the False Emperor! I Consolidate into the other unit who do no damage in Combat. Morale does nothing again.

I score 2 Points for Big Game Hunter, 3 Points for Kingslayer, 2 Points for Destroying a Unit and Destroying more Units, and 1 Point for Holding an Objective.

Score | 8-1 for Chaos







Sisters of Battle Turn 2

Movement Phase
Celestine returns to play well away from my lines, as close as she can be to the Demon Prince. Reading this ability now the revival is immediate but I don't think that had an impact on the game. She uses an Act of Faith to revive a Geminae and then brings the other back per her normal ability. The other Act of Faith is used to move the Sisters on the Objective, stringing them out but allowing for some shooting.

Normal Movement has Celestine sit there as Jon didn't know she could move normally (again we didn't look this up during the game) while everything else circle the Demon Prince. The Sisters in Combat Fall Back through the Ruins. 

Psychic & Shooting Phase
Greyfax tries a Smite on the Demon Prince and does a Wound, Jon then moves into Shooting. Bolters bounce off and Flamers are out of range but I do take 5 more Wounds from an Exorcist and a Meltagun. Overall Jon's dice are very bad this turn and I fully expected the Demon Prince to die. I do lose 3 Obliterators across two different units from other Exorcist shots.

Charge, Fight, & Morale Phase
Celestine whiffs another Charge even with a re-roll but a desperation Charge from Greyfax is successful. Unfortunately even with her re-rolls she bounce off and the Demon Prince eats her. Both me and Jon thought that was a fitting end to the terrible turn he had.

Jon scores 1 Point for having an Objective but again nothing else.

Score | 8-2 for Chaos



Chaos Turn 2

Movement Phase
Jon did a good job using his available terrain and range advantage to make sure I'll have a bad turn, to that end pretty much everything I have Advances. My wounded Prince moves up to Charge over the Ruins and avoid Overwatch, the other Prince also moves up to do the same. Obliterators just walk as well although I'm low on targets.

Psychic & Shooting Phase
In the Psychic Phase I try to Demonic Strength but fail and can't see anything or have range to it for Smites with the Malefic Lords. My other Prince Smites an Immolator, doing a few Wounds.

Shooting is also very low, I put 1 Wound on the forward Immolator but otherwise I don't have LoS or range.

Charge, Fight, & Morale Phase
Both Demon Princes Charge and make it, the damaged one getting into the Immolator and a full Sisters unit while the other gets into both Sisters units. Since LoS is an issue I didn't have to contend with any Overwatch.

I leave the Immolator on 1 Wound which is unfortunate since there's a unit inside. The smaller Sisters unit gets eater, then other is down to 3 models. Attacks back do no damage and Morale again does nothing.

I score none of my Secondaries but 2 for Destroying Units and 1 for Holding an Objective.

Score | 11-2 for Chaos



Remaining Turns

Not much happened on Round 3 and then we called it so I'll give a high level. Jon Falls Back and then kills both Demon Princes as Celestine finally decides to make a Charge. I also lose another Obliterator and Jon has most of his army hiding behind Terrain.

On my Turn I continue the mass Advance and recycle a Cultist unit to right flank. Shooting kills almost all the remaining Sisters, only a few remain behind a Ruins on Jon's Objective. Again my Smites and such can't see anything or get in range so my offense is very limited.

On Jon's Turn he moves Celestine up for a run on Abaddon, shooting into the nearby Cultists with what he has left. Abaddon makes 4/4 Invulnerable Saves and then kills both Geminae and leave Celestine on 3 Wounds. Finally on my last Turn I Smite her to death and recycle another Cultist unit to kill all the Sisters on Jon's Objective. At this point we call it.

Jon ended with 7 Points as he killed two Characters and did 3 Wounds to Abaddon with some Shooting. I would have ended with 2 for Recon, maxed Kinglsayer/Big Game Hunter and scored the remaining Bonus/Round/Turn Points for a nearly maxed score.







Post-Game Thoughts

So this game was a stomp, me and Jon admitted it after the game. As he said he wanted to see a really competitive army to get a feel for the level of optimization he needs. I will say Jon had some really heads up plays this game mostly revolving around using that Ruin to hide so much of his army and deny me any offense. That's why it's so important to play Ruins as blocking LoS for the first level!

To speak about Sisters of Battle for a moment, I think Exorcists are horrible. D3 Damage is not viable for a platform that's supposed to be anti-tank, they really can't have a Canoness around to give re-rolls and they're too random while also being static. Sisters can make it rain Meltaguns, I'd rather have those. Exorcists can hold the backfield but I'd rather get some cheap unit to do that, which Jon has in a minimum sized Troop unit.

Sisters also need to crutch on Repressors, getting out of their Transports is a death sentence. It's not great to have to rely on Forge World but I just don't think you can hop out with T3 models and expect them to survive. Taking all Melta on the girls and Flamers on the Transports gives a great overlap in what you can handle via shooting, the weakness then becomes Psychic Powers. But if you play pure Sisters there's some things that will always be an issue. I'm also not the biggest fan of the Assassin, melee Character killers are very easy to play around. Taking the anti-Psyker one would probably be a lot better since it can just absorb Smites for a turn.

For my part I certainly made some mistakes. I placed the Obliterators poorly but Jon also did a good job of denying space as I mentioned. I also didn't get them re-rolls which is kind of the point of taking them. Overall I should have been more aggressive as Jon was locking down all my offense with the Terrain, granted by then I'd inflicted significant casualties so it wasn't as hard to hide the remainder of the army. I also incorrectly pulled some casualties which let Abaddon get shot by two Exorcists, fortunately my dice bailed me out but it was just a dumb positional error.

I'm not sure how I feel about the Obliterators. Part of me wants to play them more but I don't think in a real game I can get as much as I want from them. I have no issue killing Vehicles that come to me, Demon Princes and Smite takes care of it no problem. If I put Obliterators more into the backline/midfield they're very exposed and will not benefit from re-rolls. Obliterators are also a very high variance unit, a subtle theme of my army is to limit variance as much as I can. It's likely I'll head back into the lab and see what I can do, I love the core of the army with Abaddon and Cultists so it's just getting the right pieces around that core.








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