Episode 76: Tournament Games Lead to the Best Conclusions

Yesterday I was able to make it out to my RTT as planned and get some practice games in for the much larger event I'll be traveling for in a few weeks. While not all our local heavy hitters were there a few did attend as well as some faces I wasn't familiar with. Sadly we only had ten players but this worked out as the venue only had six tables and barely enough terrain for five. I'm not sure why the local TOs keep using that store when the other options are better but it could have been worse.

As expected I took my Imperium army that I've been work-shopping for a few months now. I also decided to make some last minute changes to it, although not very big ones. For this event I had the following:

Battalion - Imperial Guard (Cadian)

Company Commander w/ Shotgun, Chainsword, Kurov's Aquila [Warlord w/ Grand Strategist]
Primaris Psyker
Primaris Psyker

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

Heavy Weapon Squad w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapon Squad w/ 3 Mortars


Battalion - Blood Angels

Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield [The Angel's Wings]
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
 Captain on Bike w/ Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

5 Scouts w/ Bolters
5 Scouts w/ Bolters
5 Scouts w/ Bolters

8 Death Company w/ Jump Packs, 1 Boltgun, 8 Chainswords, 7 Powerfists

Battalion - Deathwatch

Librarian w/ Jump Pack, Force Stave, Stormbolter
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Stormbolter
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

6 Intercessors, 1 Hellblaster
7 Intercessors, 1 Hellblaster
7 Intercessors, 1 Hellblaster



My hope was to test a few key things with this list:

1. Are the Hellblasters worth it? Do I want more, or none?
2. Is the second Watch Captain worth it, which load out works best?
3. Does a Bike Captain have any place in this army or am I better off with all Jump Packs?
4. Should the Death Company be split up or one big group?

Fortunately I was able to get answers to all these questions, and more, which I'll go over after the individual games. Because these are tournament games I'm not going to be going into exhaustive detail as I would with a normal report but instead giving an overview of the game and my thoughts on it.
Round 1 - vs. Dark Mechanicum

For this game I was up against Derek, the TO for the event and someone I'd played before at my last tournament when I was spamming Plagueburst Crawlers. He was running the same list with a few small tweaks, featuring three small Cultist units, a Fire Raptor, a unit of Obliterators, Chaos Lord/Sorcerer w/ Jump Packs, two Quad Heavy Bolter Rapier Batteries, a Hellwright, and a Knight Porphyrion.

From experience I knew that ignoring the Knight is the way to win, it doesn't hurt that bad unless you have a lot of Tanks/Monsters for it to blow away but my army is primarily infantry with a lot of ObSec. This made the Fire Raptor the primary target. For the Mission we pulled What's Yours Is Mine, not only the worst Mission in the ITC Packet but also the worst possible Mission for me in this matchup. Derek's list is horrible on Objectives but gives up very few kills, this Mission makes ObSec do nothing and only forces him to be in one place at a time.

Deployment was Hammer & Anvil, again probably the worst outcome for me as everything can bunch up but move out at a lower opportunity cost and I can't use terrain to my advantage as much due to how the table was set. During Deployment I hid as much as I could, putting the Infantry Squads a bit more up front and using them to bubble out a possible Obliterator drop. With Mark of Slaanesh the last thing I wanted was them dropping in, double tapping my Mortars, and then opening up a Charge on the Company Commander. One unit of Scouts went very forward in a building just to try and handle some Cultists, everything else stayed back or was in Deep Strike.

Derek castled up as expected with Cultists in the left, right, and center but the rest of his army except the Chaos Lord, Sorcerer, and Obliterators in the left corner. Immediately I saw an opening on the Fire Raptor where my Relic Captain could drop in, beat up a Rapier, and then Consolidate into the Fire Raptor and fight again. While the odds are bad that I'll kill it I would take it down 1-2 profiles usually which makes it easier to finish off and reduces some of the output. In an error to start the game I didn't use Death Visions of Sanguinius on that Captain to improve my odds.

For Secondaries I took The Reaper, which I could only get 3 Points for, Old School, and Recon. My reasoning was The Reaper can't be maxed but is easy to get, Old School shouldn't be too bad, and I have the units to keep Recon going while I need to get upfield anyways. Titan Slayer is a trap against this list as the Knight is just too hard to kill for me, Toughness 9 ruins all my math. Derek took Headhunter, Old School, and Death By a Thousand Cuts. I won the roll for turn one and Derek failed to seize.

Unfortunately this game was decided pretty much from the get go. I moved my Scouts up to Charge the Cultists near them and pounded the unit with my Mortars but rolled incredibly badly, averaging about 5 shots over the two Heavy Weapon Teams on top of them being Alpha Legion. I also used Upon Wings of Fire to drop the Captain in and follow through on my plan. That wasn't to be though as he failed both Charge rolls on 3d6, rolling something like a 4 for the initial and a 6 for the followup. The Scouts made it in but couldn't kill the Cultists with yet more poor dice and Derek made them immune to Morale via Stratagem, denying me First Strike as well as Kill Something.

From here I mentally quit in the game. I've never rolled so poorly for a turn that I could remember and everything failed, I couldn't even kill 10 Cultists. The Captain was easily killed and the Fire Raptor started going to work, killing a few things. On Turn 2 I dropped everything in, killing all the Cultists, the Sorcerer, and one Rapier. However it didn't matter as the Fire Raptor was still unhurt and my Death Company was easily killed off along with the accompanying Captain. This left me no way to kill the Fire Raptor as I couldn't get a Watch Captain within range and I wouldn't be able to protect the Psykers for long enough to Mortal Wound it down. I also made a further mental error on Derek's turn where I used a re-roll to keep a Hellblaster alive but then lost my Bike Captain to Obliterator shooting where the re-roll may have saved him.

We played through Turn 3 and then I called it quits as I continued to roll badly for everything such as a last ditch effort to kill the Fire Raptor with my Deathwatch and Psykers. In a bigger event I'd have kept playing for points but Derek was a good sport and we talked the game through, reasoning I'd max out Recon and always get Hold an Objective. This gave me like a 15 Point loss and I assumed put me at the bottom of the bracket but a few other games barely went to Turn 3 and ended with weird scores like 12-10. Fortunately we broke for lunch after Round 1 so I was able to shake the loss off and try to at least go 2-1 for the day.








Round 2 - vs. Tyranids

My belly full of Subway I was ready to play Matthew, a local at my store and someone I've played many times. I was also in a good mood as I love playing against Tyranids no matter the outcome, they're one of the few armies that actually play the game in that they move, shoot, fight, etc.

This rounds Mission was Nexus Control, which I like a lot and I felt was pretty even for the matchup. Matthew was packing Kraken with 3 Flyrants with Dakka Devourers and Rending Claws, a Malanthrope, 19 Genestealers, 19 Termagaunts, 6 Hive Guard, 4 units of Rippers, and a Genestealer Cult Detachment of two Magus, 19 Purestrain Genestealers, and a Primus. Our Deployment was Dawn of War which I again felt was pretty neutral.

During Deployment I made an error where I dropped the Mortar Teams too soon, this allowed the Hive Guard to go across from them. Matthew had a ton of Deep Strike, although the Flyrants start on the board, so I was either forced to castle early or waste some drops on diversions. In hindsight I should have bundled into a corner and gave up the Objectives early and made a Turn 2-3 push with my Deep Strike, using the Scouts to feign towards the middle/flank. Matthew's army is more telegraphed than mine as he wants to keep most everything in range of the Malanthrope to start with. In any case Matthew ended up very central with a castle of Termagaunts around his Hive Guard and Malanthrope. I spread out very, very far so that the Purestrains would have to wait a turn or come in and do very little. My hope was that the Hive Tyrants would have to come forward and clear the way and I could pick up 2-3 of them in turn. From there the Genestealers would eat something but they can't be everywhere at once and they aren't very durable.

Secondaries for me were Old School as I expected to be able to pick up a Hive Tyrant if I went second or the Hive Guard via Captain if I went first. I also took Headhunter as there's a lot of Characters and Recon. Big Game Hunter and The Reaper would only afford me 3/4 and I felt like Recon was very doable. Matthew took Recon, Old School, and Headhunter as well.

In a twist on what I'd planned for Matthew gave me first turn. This meant I had the Deep Strike advantage and also got to shoot first. Immediately the new plan was to crack a hole in the Termagaunts and then toss my Relic Captain in and take out the Hive Guard. With that I'd have shooting supremacy and also throw the Tyranid backfield into disarray, I also had a vertical piece of terrain which meant the Captain's charge would be at worst 5".

On Turn 1 I put that plan into effect, dropping Mortars on the Termagaunts and killing around 10 of them which is average. The Captain hopped up on the tower and then came down, getting +3 Attacks from Red Fury and leaving two Hive Guard left. He then fought again after taking no wounds, finishing the unit and killing a few Termagaunts to boot while tying them up.

Answering back the Flyrants moved out and the Genestealers shuffled over to eat the Captain. What was left of the Gaunts fell back and circled the Malanthrope to try and keep him safe. All the Genestealer Cult stuff also came in, getting a 6 on the chart thanks to their Stratagem, popping up on my right flank. This struck me as a huge mistake because they could only charge an Infantry Squad and Scout unit there but then would be subject to reprisal from my Deathwatch.

Shooting and combat wiped out two Infantry Squads except a Sergeant and Mortar as well an a Scout unit. I also lost the Captain to the Genestealers, fighting with him as he went down but Matthew made all the Invulnerables. I also managed to stop Catalyst on the Purestrains which was a pretty crucial moment.

On my turn all the Reserves came in with a Captain and Death Company eyeing the Tyrant on the left and the Intercessors focusing on the Purestrains, although two units could throw shots into the Hive Tyrants on the right. My Librarian also moved up to try and get a few of the Genestealer Cult characters down and setup a trade for the far right Hive Tyrant. At this moment I felt very advantaged so I was happy to trade off some Secondaries to secure my own.

Shooting and Psychic wiped out the Purestrains, put a few wounds on a Flyrant, and killed the Primus. I also shot a Hive Tyrant to death with one unit of Intercessors as Matthew rolled some truly terrible saves, I had two Captains nearby to finish it off as I expected it to easily live. Combat saw the Death Company drop the left Hive Tyrant, which did a few wounds to their Captain before perishing, and my Scouts killed a few of the normal Genestealers who'd been ravaged by Mortars and only left with two models at the end of the turn. I also finished off both Magus with the Librarian thanks to fighting twice and my Mission Tactic being for HQs.

From here the game was all but over. Matthew played to get some points and brought the Rippers in for Recon. The Malathrope and Gaunts moved to finish the Scouts off as the Genestealers fell back, the remaining Flyrant also prepared to eat the Librarian. I ended up losing the Scouts and Librarian as expected.

On my Turn 3 I killed all but one Ripper unit, the Malanthrope, the Gaunts, and left the Hive Tyrant half-dead as he was sandwiched between two Deathwatch Captains. Matthew dropped one of them on his turn and brought the last Rippers in to hold an Objective. I then tabled him on Turn 4, maxing out all my Secondaries and getting points for the remaining turns.

Unfortunately Matthew made some big mistakes, giving me Turn 1 was huge and bringing the Purestrains in immediately combined to seal the game. Without that I think I would have won but it would have been harder, I likely lose all my Mortar Teams if I don't go first but I still could have gotten to the Hive Guard as the castle had holes if I killed even one model, failing that I could have just bagged a few Tyrants. My army is very hard on Tyranids because of all the Intercessors, they just shred everything the army can bring with wounding on 2's and a built in AP1. ~14 Intercessors in Rapid Fire will kill a Hive Tyrant if their Mission Tactic is HQs, that's just not something the army can handle.























Round 3 - vs. Dark Eldar

I wasn't able to check the scores for the round but once again a lot of games were pretty low on scores, including a tie in one game. I figured if I could get another blow out win I might place in the Top 3 but when I saw that I was going against Dark Eldar that fantasy quickly drifted away. Dark Eldar is the army I'm worst against on paper so I was grateful for the practice but figured at best I'd pull out a narrow win.

My opponent, Korey, was packing two Battalions, one Flayed Skulls and one Kabal of the Black Heart. Flayed Skulls was 5 Venoms with Blaster Kabalites, an Archon, and Drazhar. Black Hearts comprised of two Archons, three Raiders with Disintegrators and 9 Kabalites with a Splinter Cannon, and three Ravagers with Dark Lances. While this is a far below optimal composition it still preys on my inability to deal with Flying Vehicles en masse and has enough big guns to threaten my Captains and Intercessors.

Our Mission was Cut to the Heart which I felt was a bit better for me as my ObSec is more durable and can hold Objectives at less opportunity cost. Again I played Dawn of War which was pretty neutral, Dark Eldar can re-deploy as they want. For Deployment the Dark Eldar spread out the Venoms and Raiders, keeping two Ravagers on the left flank and one on the right, their Objective went in the center. I castled up a bit on the right with my Objective, unfortunately the terrain on this table was terrible so I had to spread out a bit more and hope to deny some Line of Sight. All my Scouts started on the Center Objective which was on a big rock, we agreed to play it as no vertical distance for controlling that Objective rather than move the terrain piece.

For Secondaries I took Headhunter, Old School, and Big Game Hunter. In hindsight Headhunter was very optimistic and I should have gone with Recon, I was going to be all over the board chasing stuff down and with an important center Objective I'd likely always be able to get that one troublesome corner. Korey went with Recon, Headhunter, and Old School.

I lost the roll to go first and failed to Seize, my hope for going first was just to take less shooting before my Reserves came in. Either way I expected to lose most of what started on the board and have to win on the back of my Deep Strikers.

Round 1 saw almost all my Infantry Squads get chewed up by Splinter weapons while a unit of Scouts also went down. Korey didn't move as far up as he could have which I felt was odd, this meant a good amount of his shooting had no targets. On my Turn the Relic Captain moved out to try for a long charge and kill some Vehicles, I shifted my remaining Characters to the center as there was no way to get them into anything. Between Psychic and Shooting I dropped one Venom and half killed another, however my Primaris Psykers were out in the open and likely to die. My Captain easily bonked down a Raider and attempted to fight again into a Venom but Agents of Vect stopped me. Drazhar and the Kabalites weren't able to do damage to my Captain. For the Turn I got Hold More while Korey got Kill More.

Round 2 Korey played more for the center, swinging around the left flank which was his stronger side, and hoping to shoot me off of the Objective. The Kabalites and Drazhar stayed in Combat while one Venom went on the extreme right and one went for the Primaris Psykers. A Ravager moved near Korey's Objective while a Venom unloaded some Kabalites onto it.

Shooting wiped out my Guardsmen except the Mortar Teams who were still hiding, the Librarian and one Primaris Psyker while the other managed to live with a Blaster doing 1 Damage even through a re-roll. All the Scouts were gunned down but my Captains held tough, taking no damage. Charges went out from the Venom into the Mortar Teams and Primaris Psyker. My Psyker managed to kill the Venom which Exploded, killing him and one of the Mortar Teams while the other Venom did nothing. My Captain killed Drazhar but took a few wounds back from Kabalites.

On my Turn I brought everything in, needing a big turn. My Death Company abused some multi-level terrain to eye up a Ravager or two while the Bike and non-Relic Captain prepared to go after the center. I put one Intercessor unit on the center Objective but on Korey's side of the terrain, a Deathwatch Captain joined them. The other Deathwatch Captain dropped in on my very tall building where my castle was and the last two Intercessors grabbed some cover in my center Deployment Zone.

I was able to get one Mortar Team out of Combat thanks to the Venom Explosion, they wiped out the recently dropped off Kabalites. I then killed off most of the Kabalites on the Korey's Objective with the Intercessors, also damaging the Ravager some. The remaining shooting did some wounds to a Venom but couldn't kill it. 

Combat went better as I popped the Venom in my castle and Consolidated into the unit, I also managed to drop another Venom and a Raider in the center, also consolidating into Combat. My Relic Captain bashed a few more Kabalites but went down to one wound. The Deathwatch Captin also made it onto Korey's Objective and started smashing Kabalites there but didn't clear it yet. In a disastrous mistake I didn't Charge with the Death Company at all, they were far away and unpainted/primed so I just missed them with the stress of the turn. That left at least one Ravager alive that shouldn't have been, two unless Korey spent more CP to stop them. I also hadn't gotten some of the Charge distances I wanted to fight twice and maybe open another Transport. Once again we split Kill More and Hold More, more salt in the wound as I should have easily dropped the Ravager which would have put me over on that.

Round 3 Korey kept moving along the left flank, trying to leave the Death Company behind. The Ravager in the center also took off to the right, not wanting to deal with the Captain there. A Venom moved up towards Korey's Objective to reinforce it while the Kabalites in the center Fell Back. At this moment we also noticed that the Archon in the Raider I killed on Turn 1 had never been placed, I let him put the model down into Combat.

Shooting killed my Bike Captain but left the Blood Angels Captain with a few wounds. My Intercessors soaked a lot of shots as most of the Flayed Skull stuff was dead by now meaning I retained my Cover. One Death Company died to Dark Lances but they were largely ignored. The Venom near Korye's Objective used Fire and Fade to get onto it. In Combat I finished off the Kabalites on Korey's Objective, denying it with the Captain. I killed a few more Kabalites near my Objective and my Relic Captain died, finishing off the Kabalites there via Stratagem.

On my Turn I tried to re-establish control over the center with my Intercessors, however the terrain piece was really wonky so I was only able to get one model within 3". The Death Company moved down to finally end a Ravager and the last Blood Angels Captain moved to open the last of the Transports. On Korey's Objective I moved behind a wall to Charge the Venom and avoid Overwatch.

Shooting got most of the remaining Vehicles down a few wounds so that I'd have an easier time opening them, I also killed off all the Kabalites in the center. With Combat I popped the last of the Venoms and a Ravager, leaving two Raiders and two Ravagers. I finished the Kabalites in Combat with the Watch Captain and Consolidated into the Kabalites on Kroey's Objective, fighting twice to kill some of them.

Round 4 was largely mop up. Korey moved some but wasn't able to score any kills in the shooting phase, he also wasn't able to control the Center Objective. One of the last Raiders got into Combat with my remaining Mortars and Watch Captain, I was able to kill it off but that gave Korey my Objective as ObSec models fell out of it. I then finished off the Kabalites on Korey's Objective, taking control of that.

My Turn 4 was the last we got to play, I finished off everything but one Ravager, the Raider with the remaining Characters, the Archon on foot, and the Kabalites on my Objective. I also had firm control of the center which netted me a Bonus Point, Hold More, and Kill More. We tallied our Secondaries with both of us 3/4 on Old School, Korey getting 3/4 on Recon and maxing Headhunter while I got one for Headhunter and maxed out Big Game Hunter. In the end I won 22-19 and probably would have crept up to 30 if we played the whole game out. My Intercessors had lost almost no models and I still had three Captains plus the Deathwatch left, Command Points would have enabled me to chase down the Archon or Ravager, or both, with the Death Company while I opened the last Raider and then get everyone ready for the firing line.










 
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Event Wrap-Up And Post Game Thoughts

In the end I took 4th Place with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd going to Tau, Raven Guard + Imperial Guard, and Harlequins respectively. I missed out on 3rd by 6pts but had a very high Strength of Schedule. With better Secondary decisions in Game Three and my dice not completely failing in Game One I would have been able to pull that out, which I'm happy with. I was hoping I'd have gotten to play Harlequins as I feel like I do better against them than Dark Eldar, I also know I beat the Raven Guard army as it was piloted by one of my regulars. The Tau list was very sub-optimal, only two Riptides with an Ethereal and way too many Drones, he had a very easy road playing against Death Guard, Custodes/Imperial Guard, and something else that I don't recall.

Overall the event was very low scoring, I had one of three blow out wins for the whole event. I attribute this to only three players being familiar with tournament speeds, in the future I hope Death Clock gets used more. Locally it's in all of our GTs but hasn't quite spread to the RTTs yet.

Overall I was largely happy with my play. The first game I just lost to dice, nothing I can do about that, and that's why it was so tilting. If I make mistakes that I can learn from I don't really get angry but when the game just straight up says I lose I get salty. In the big picture I think I rarely lose to that list, it was the perfect Mission/Deployment for that army on top of all the dice flubs.Once the Fire Raptor goes down the army can't stop me from holding stuff and the Knight can't be everywhere at once. I had a good game plan but just wasn't able to see it through.

My second game was just bad play on Matthew's part combined with a lot of really bad dice from him. Genestealer Cults are very scary for gunlines but my list can take the hit and then clean up while threatening things with Characters. We both agreed that the Genestealers need to go as they don't Deep Strike like the Purestrains, they just die because there's nothing else to throw anti-Infantry shots at. He's going to look into running DakkaFexes instead and it's very likely you'll see that list featured on this very blog in the near future.

The last game had a bit of a sour taste to it at times. Apparently Korey is a bit newer, which I did not know, and I was very hard on him with Line of Sight and Stratagems. Twice he tried to use a Stratagem after the opportunity had passed which I disallowed, he also frequently tried to shoot things that he couldn't see. I would stick to those things regardless but I chalk it up more to inexperience than any malice. We also had a few issues where our Command Point totals for his army were mismatched in his favor, I feel I had the right count but in the future I'll be much clearer about that. Finally we had a rules issue with the interaction for Agents of Vect and Labyrinthine Cunning on if he is allowed to roll for a "negated" Stratagem, having read it I think he's allowed to roll for enemy Stratagems but we didn't play it that way.

With regards to the game itself his list was very sub-optimal, there's no reason to run Dark Lances ever with their current cost against Disintegrators and there's no reason to run Raiders. Every Venom had an upgraded gun which barely gives out more offense but really adds the cost up, all that could have gone to Fliers or another Battalion. The fact that I would have won against that list doesn't make me feel better about my Dark Eldar matchup.



Army Changes

With all that said, how did my questions about the army before the tournament come out?

1. Are the Hellblasters worth it? Do I want more, or none?

I've found that Hellblasters are not worth it for my list. Plasma doesn't help any matchups that I feel I have an issue with right now as almost every viable Monster/Vehicle has an Invulnerable. Hellblasters also force your Watch Captains to be around if you want to get mileage out of them but my list thrives in free movement. I will be cutting them all after having experimented with 1-3 per Intercessor unit.

2. Is the second Watch Captain worth it, which load out works best?

The Second Watch Captain is also not worth it and will be cut. Without Red Rage and bonus Attacks via Stratagems, as well as being able to re-deploy/charge reliably a Watch Captain is a buff and counter-attack piece. With just one I can make him a good fighter via Might of Heroes when needed.

3. Does a Bike Captain have any place in this army or am I better off with all Jump Packs?

Once again the Bike Captain is getting brought back to a Jump Pack Captain. Deep Strike, Upon Wings of Fire, easier access to Cover, and FLY are just too many advantages for +2" Movement, +1 Toughness/Wound to overcome. Every single game I wished that model was a Jump Captain instead.

4. Should the Death Company be split up or one big group?

And rounding out the changes I believe the Death Company need to be two units instead of one. This is a bit more expensive but being able to hit in two places is too powerful to pass up. My argument for one big unit is they're much better at killing Knights and I expect to see a ton of those when the Codex drops next week, people can't wait to put the super hard to kill Knight in their lists. However with repeated Captain application and use of Might of Heroes I think I can drop a Knight.

Splitting the units makes me a lot better against things like Dark Eldar because I can chase more units down. I've been preferring the Chainsword/Powerfist combo as well compared to my Thunder Hammers, the damage is lower but the units are more flexible and Powerfists get the job done against normal Vehicle/Monster profiles.



The really big standouts for me were the Intercessors, they do so much damage to anything that's not a Vehicle that it's insane. With a Captain and the right Mission Tactic they'll kill any Infantry or Monster, I just need to work on my anti-Vehicle so I can set them up for success. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Mortar Teams, they were consistently useful and give my Commander something to do while protecting him, all for less than 70pts.

The biggest holes were a lack of shooting and a lack of ability to open up light Transports. Cracking things like Venoms in the Combat Phase means I have to wait until my next turn to shoot the occupants. If I can open up a few with Psychic/Shooting then I can be a lot more effective. With those goals in mind I'll be testing this:

Battalion - Imperial Guard [Cadians]

Company Commander w/ Plasma Pistol, Chainsword, Karov's Aquila [Warlord w/ Grand Strategist]
Primaris Pysker
Primaris Psyker

Astropath w/ Laspistol

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

Heavy Weapon Squad w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapon Squad w/ 3 Mortars


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

5 Death Company w/ 1 Boltgun, 5 Chainswords, 4 Powerfists
5 Death Company w/ 1 Boltgun, 5 Chainswords, 4 Powerfists

5 Scouts w/ Bolters
5 Tactical Marines w/ Heavy Bolter
5 Tactical Marines w/ Missile Launcher


Battalion - Deathwatch

Librarian w/ Jump Pack, Force Axe, Stormbolter
Watch Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

8 Intercessors w/ Auxillary Grenade Launcher
8 Intercessors w/ Auxillary Grenade Launcher
8 Intercessors w/ Auxillary Grenade Launcher

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This list gives me another Psyker for a chance at some Mortal Wounds as well as two Tactical Squads to also possibly put out Mortal Wounds or just help shoot. Because of the Power Levels in the list only one Blood Angel Captain can natively Deep Strike, this gives the one that's left behind something to do. I've been consistently unimpressed with Scouts post-FAQ, they now just die by the time someone would drop into you anyways. While Tactical Marines aren't very good they do hold up well to small arms fire, they're easy to hide, and they give me something I'm lacking. This frees the Scouts up to go hide somewhere and "screen" the Characters or go play on an Objective.

I've slightly bumped the amount of Intercessors in the list up, they're amazing on Objectives with Cover and they do solid, consistent damage. My list can free them up from melee if someone wants to go that route and the Grenade Launchers add just a bit of anti-Venom to the list. I decided to keep the fightier Watch Captain as he was the most consistently useful over all my test games and the tournament, the Stormbolter just doesn't contribute. I left it on the Librarian because I had points and it can be used to pump out Mortal Wounds on Vehicles via Stratagem.

I think this list is much stronger against the field while having a harder time with Super-Heavies. A lot of that will depend on how the new Knight Codex looks, depending on how popular the Big Knights with Warlord Seeking Missiles are the list may have to change more. Overall I'm very unhappy that Knights are becoming more viable as I don't think they belong in the game, it does make me hope that 1750 becomes the new standard as everyone has been talking about though.

That's all I have this time, I may play in another small event next week but it depends on how I feel. In two weeks I'm off to Vegas for a decent sized GT so I'm trying to balance taxing myself when it comes to the game versus practice. The store putting on the event is also very casual and known for some....weird stuff so I might not benefit much. In any case thanks for reading!

Episode 75.6: Forming Meta Conclusions Based on Tournaments Is Pretty Useless, And You Should Probably Stop Doing It

As I mentioned in my last Battle Report I'll be a bit quiet this week as work continues on my Imperium list, not so much the list itself but the actual models! My timeline for getting three colors on everything for my GT is getting tighter but I think I'll make it, I just need more Skaven heads...

As per usual I was browsing the WarhammerCompetitive Reddit this week and got a lot of backlash for posting a relatively throw-away comment that Riptides were both mandatory for Tau and in need of a nerf. Numerous people came back at with an argument that boiled down to "Tau didn't do well at the London GT so you're an idiot!" I was somewhat shocked that people could be so bad at the game to not recognize an obviously problematic model but then I thought about the comments a bit more and it all made sense.

Humans really, really like to copy things that work well. While I wasn't quite around back in the caveman era I'm sure things like fire spread pretty quickly through copying your neighbor and that practice continues today even in gaming. For many years I played competitive TCGs like Magic: The Gathering, the card game genre is rife with people who can't wait to copy the newest and best decks after a big event. Much like most other games players rarely take the time to understand why the thing they're copying is good, they just latch onto it and get decent results. Even if you don't play an inherently powerful deck to its full potential, understand small changes it may need as the meta evolves, and so on, you can still do well.

This is much the same for miniature wargames and you see the same practices at play all the time. The problem with wargames, particularly Warhammer 40K, is that there are so many different metas that fragment an already very small competitive player-base. There are far more great card players than there are wargamers which means there are less eyes and minds working on the next big thing in Warhammer. There's less money at stake in wargames and if you don't think that's a big motivator then you don't know how the world really works.

The point I'm working towards is that Warhammer 40K events very rarely show off armies that can become the next big thing. This years Las Vegas Open, maybe the premier event in all of Warhammer 40K, showed off one very powerful Ynaari build. That's it. Look at the Top 8, there's nothing else there that has done well since or is agreed upon to be that powerful. One list is even actively bad! You can also take a look at the London GT, no real revelations there. Imperium and Ynaari continue to do well with all kinds of different builds and some other stuff snuck in much like every Top 8 of every major event.

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While you can argue that looking at Top 8's confirms that certain armies are doing well you can gain that information without looking at big events. I would say that when a player constantly follows what made Top 8/16/4/etc. that they're overloading on information. Rarely do articles focus on the background players of why a list did well. What Missions were in play, what did it face on its road to wherever it finished, how was the tournament ranking matches? All of these things are hugely impactful, for example a list might be made to win very narrowly against a lot of different armies which would see it do well in events with straight Wins/Losses. Taking that same list to a different tournament that uses Margin of Victory could lead to issues.

I've been looking at lists ever since LVO '18 and that is the only event that I got any revelations from, and only because of the Ynaari lists using Shining Spears. Everything else was known, Shining Spears were the only soup ingredient I hadn't seen before. Since then I've gotten much more serious about reading Codexes, watching games (online and locally) and talking to other players which has prevented any further surprises from well performing armies. Of course not everyone has the time/ability to do that so you might again point to peeking at lists as a viable alternative. I would still rail against it though because without a background of why and how a player did well their list is of limited use to a competitive player.

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As much as I'm not for copying lists without underlying knowledge, I'm much more against saying an army isn't good, or a model isn't good, because it didn't perform well. I'd like to go over two examples that fit this mold: Riptides and Tesseract Vaults.

Neither of these units have really been tearing up the Top 8 scene although Tau has steadily been improving since their Codex. If you based your knowledge of the game on nothing but results you'd think they aren't powerful, that's where doing actual research and playing games makes for a better and more informed player.

Both units are easily taken as a two or three of in an army and not only make it easy to play a skew but have very little offensive/defensive drawbacks of their own. Riptides start the game with a 2+/5++, a good amount of Wounds, access to healing, and the ability to improve to a 3++. On top of being hard to wound they are good to the last drop, also via Stratagem, so hurting them is useless unless multiple Riptides can br brought down a profile and do not heal back up to their top profile. That's a lot to ask of your army and if you go second it gets even worse as their 3++ will be in full effect.

Riptides are also a good example of Games Workshop not doing their math before releasing a Codex. The Riptides cheaper gun is much more powerful, having decent math into T7+ while mincing Infantry. You can see this at play with armies like Dark Eldar where Disintegrators are far and away better than Dark Lances but are also cheaper. To top it off Riptides can shunt wounds to Drones, making an alpha-strike that much harder, and can Fall Back from Combat at no penalty at all with a simple Target Lock clamped on.

So what's the counter-play this model affords an opponent? Well you can go first and shoot it but you have to clear out the Drones first, if there are any. These may be hidden or have Cover so they can be hard to remove themselves without wasting valuable high AP/Damage shots. Without Drones the Riptide will typically have a 5++ or 4+ which is far from squishy. Tying them up in Combat is useless and by the time most armies can get there the 3++ will be in effect which leaves very few armies that can meaningfully damage it. All the while the model is putting out strong offense event without something like Markerlights or an ATS.

I can save a lot of words and say the same thing about Vaults. While their main guns are good at shooting any type of target they also put out Mortal Wounds where the only thing your opponent can do is watch you roll dice. They pack a boatload of wounds, FLY Keyword, and an always on 4++  along with the same good to the last drop Stratagem Tau have. Being allowed to play three Vaults makes for an even harder skew, rendering anything that's not meant to kill tanks entirely useless.

It may never come to pass that three Riptides or three Vaults win a major event. That's not the point. These models, and others that I have not mentioned, are too good at what they do and present major roadblocks for an opponent trying to counter them. The competitive portion of the game has many tiers within it, is it good for the game if a budding tournament player runs into three of these models and gets run over without any recourse? I don't think so, it echoes back to earlier Editions where some armies said you lose, deal with it.

Having models which detract from player skill in terms of being able to handle them is bad for the game and bad for the community. Counter-play is what makes Warhammer, and most games, so fun as you get that rush when you pull off a good move. What feels good about just hurling dice into something and hoping for the best?

Fortunately most of the offenders can be easily fixed, although I hope Games Workshop doesn't opt for simply tacking on points. Vaults should be more expensive but Riptides have numerous options to tone them down. Maybe they shouldn't have FLY Keyword, maybe Savior Protocols shouln't work on anything with 10 or more Wounds. Nova Reactor could be limited to not allowing the same benefits in consecutive turns, there's so many inventive ways to change them and other units to make them playable but not as egregious.

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To sum up, looking at lists for Warhammer 40K that do well in events is only a small glimpse at the bigger picture. So many things go into making even a Top 8 run at a major event that just mindlessly copying what you see will never yield the best results. Lists have their place, they can be a great starting point for an army that you learn about and grow as you play. But wargames are not card games, they're more complex and have more variance which means more is asked of the player. Just look at the Finals for LVO '18, a copied list resulted in one player not using a Stratagem correctly and losing the game. Would that have happened if he was actually an Eldar player or had more experience with the list than just ripping it off Best Coast Pairings? Probably not.

So temper your list peeking with game knowledge and table time. Have something to back up your arguments for why something is good or bad without running and pointing to the most recent tournament. Otherwise you might end up looking pretty silly.

Episode 75: Riptides are F****** Broken [Not As Many Pictures As Normal]

Missed my previous posts? Check them out below!


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Guess who's back, back again. I've stopped posting again for a bit because I'm trying to get my Imperium list together through never ending changes. While I have some more stuff in the mail and a few models being painted it's probably better to get these games up. While testing this list I've had very tight games against some legitimately punishing lists. I didn't know what I was in for before showing up to this game but it ended up being very enjoyable, although I got super salty at several points.

So far my list has been somewhat confusing to play. It feels very powerful but keeps going up against things which feel like harder counters. Most of those games I was able to pull out but they were pretty low point wins. I don't really know what that means in the end but I'm enjoying the play-style and I feel that the list is pretty unique while being successful, which matters quite a bit to me. It definitely has some counter-play available that I didn't see when working on the army but I think those can be smoothed out.

Today's game was against Joey, someone I know from our local group but have not played personally. I was extremely happy to see that he was bringing Tau as I've not been able to play against them in 8th Edition. My only experience was from playing them very early in the Edition but they're completely different now with their Codex so that's not much help. I think Tau are one of the harder matchups for this list, along with Dark Eldar, but both vary on composition. Fortunately Joey was packing three Riptides which is very brutal against me so I'd get to see my worst case scenario.



Imperium

Battalion Detachment - Imperial Guard (Tallarn)

Company Commander w/ Shotgun, Karov's Aquila [Warlord w/ Grand Strategist]
Primaris Psyker [Psychic Malestrom, Terrifying Visions]
Primaris Psyker [Psychic Malestrom, Terrifying Visions]

Astropath [Psychic Maelstrom]

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

Battalion Detachment - 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 [The Angel's Wings]

5 Scouts w/ Bolters
5 Scouts w/ Bolters
5 Scouts w/ Bolters

Battalion Detachment - Deathwatch

Librarian [Null Zone, Might of Heroes]
Watch Captain w/ Jump Pack, Stormbolter, Thunder Hammer
Watch Captain w/ Jump Pack, Stormbolter, Thunder Hammer

5 Intercessors, 3 Hell Blasters, 1 Inceptor
5 Intercessors, 3 Hell Blasters, 1 Inceptor
5 Intercessors, 3 Hell Blasters, 1 Inceptor



Tau

Battalion Detachment - Bor'kan

Cadre Fireblade w/ Puretide Engram Neurochip [Warlord w/ Through Unity, Devastation]
Enforcer Commander w/ ATS, 3x Cyclic Ion Blaster

Riptide w/ Ion Accelerator, Target Lock
Riptide w/ ATS, Target Lock
Riptide w/ ATS, Target Lock

5 Fire Warriors
5 Fire Warriors
5 Fire Warriors

4 Marker Drones
4 Marker Drones

Battalion Detachment - Bor'kan

Cadre Fireblade
Enforcer Commander w/ ATS, 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters

3 Crisis Bodyguards [2 w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters, 1 w/ 2 Cyclic Ion Blasters and Drone Controller]
(5 Marker Drones Attached)
 
 10 Fire Warriors
10 Fire Warriors
10 Fire Warriors



Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #6
Hammer and Anvil

 Imperium Secondary Objectives
Headhunter, Recon, Old School

Tau Secondary Objectives
Kingslayer (Relic Captain), Headhunter, Old School

 Readers of this blog will recognize my terrain setup, two biggish pieces in the center to break up Line of Sight with some more minimal terrain in the Deployment Zones and flanks. I think a bigger circle of three pieces in the center, with gaps, would be better and more interesting to play with. Overall the terrain wasn't going to give me much reprieve from the shooting so I figured I'd be better off going for cover.

While Joey's list isn't perfectly optimized it's going to be good at keeping me out and has so many guns which just rip my Primaris Marines apart. It's also going to be nearly impossible dealing with the Riptides unless I go first, a 3++ on such a tough model is very hard to handle, plus Savior Protocols. The rest of the threats are also high output, multiple damage attacks where other lists might have more anti-Infantry or lower output e.g. Fusion Blasters.

The Deployment was also quite bad for me, Tau loves to clump up and this makes it much easier. The Mission would normally be good for me but there's very little opportunity cost to Tau while covering them both. In most of Deployments they'd be forced to spread out a little, meaning a weak flank to an army that's not very fast (but can shoot far!)

My strategy of denying Secondaries seemed to work as Joey was uncomfortable taking Death By A Thousand Cuts, leaving some harder options. Kingslayer would only give up two as again Joey didn't think he could kill the Commander off and I don't think Old School will yield more than 2/4. On my side I was pretty sure I could get at least three from Recon, Old School was a bit optimistic though. Joey has the models to defend his Cadre, as well as terrain to hide him, and me ending the game in his deployment zone isn't likely unless the game is a stomp. In hindsight I should have taken The Reaper as it's an easy three points. Headhunter was also somewhat optimistic but I was running out of options.

For Deployment my plan was to be somewhat aggressive as I couldn't see any way to defend the Guardsmen or Scouts and get any use out of them. My hope was to put a hole in the Drones and Fire Warriors before all those units died and then finish up with the Deathwatch. Punchy Captains would mop up and try to handle the Characters/Suits but I didn't have the highest hopes for them. 3++ Saves are just too good on big models and Riptides lose nothing from Falling Back. One Blood Angel Captain and all the Deathwatch went into Deep Strike while the Guardsmen and Scouts pressed a bit forward, all having Cover, with one Mortar unit hanging back to protect the Commander and Librarian. I reasoned that if Joey brought some of his own Deep Strike down back there I could probably counter with a Captain.

The Tau deployed further up than I expected with their range advantage, hoping to keep my Deep Strike units out of the action. All the small Fire Warrior units grabbed the backfield while the bigger units held the front. Riptides deployed in a line, along with one Commander and the Cadres. Drones also spread evenly except the larger unit that went into Reserves with the remaining Commander and Bodyguards. Overall this set a stage for first turn to have a huge impact, if I got to go first then I could get the Scouts into Combat by using the center building to protect from Overwatch, I'd also likely get a Captain into a Riptide and possibly kill it, assuming I could remove the Drones with Mortars/Bolters. If I went second I expected to lose most of my front-line and have a very uphill battle. Turns out I went second which put me in a disadvantaged mindset right away.







Tau Turn 1

 Joey moved up fairly conservatively, getting his Riptides into Line of Sight of more targets. The bigger Fire Warrior units also moved up, one climbing the ruins but the other two not able to claim Cover. All the Riptides correctly activated the 3++ Nova Reactor, Joey had no need for extra shots at this point.

Shooting got a Markerlight onto each Scout unit and one Infantry Squad, Joey spread them instead of focusing on one unit and didn't wind up using Uplinked Markerlight. One Cadre (the Warlord) was also hiding on Joey's declared Objective and didn't contribute. Actual shots killed one Scout unit, left another on two models, and the last on three while removing the Infantry Squad.

With my front line sufficiently butchered and no Charges in sight I passed both my Morale checks. My Scouts are now pretty useless because of how much Overwatch Joey will get off my Charges, there's not much I can do except try sadly.

Score
3-0 for Tau







Imperium Turn 1

 Looking over the board I did not think I could drop the Deatchwatch in, this is one of the areas Tau makes my life hard because they don't come forward which will keep me out of Rapid Fire range. Going first I may have risked it because I could go for a Riptide and limit the counter-attack but my Marines are going to have to win the game for me so I have to put them in a position to do so.

I used Upon Wings of Fire on the Relic Captain and Advanced all of the Guardsmen, which was a mistake as it didn't gain me much Rapid Fire but stopped all my Mortars from shooting. My Scouts also moved up as the Librarian Advanced out of his hole and the other Blood Angel Captain moved up. While this did expose them both I figured a trade with the Commander/Bodyguards would be fine.

Shooting removed some Marker Drones and Fire Warriors but not many, I didn't have too many attacks to even throw out. Charges saw one of my Scout units get chewed up, and one just not make it even with a re-roll. The Captain had come down along the front-lines after a lot of consideration and made his Charge after I declared everything as a target. Ultimately I decided to put him into the Marker Drones as I needed a Turn 1 kill for Old School. He was able to remove them all using Red Fury and then Consolidated into the Commander and fought again with Honor the Chapter. Unfortunately I rolled poorly and Joey made two 6+ Saves, leaving the Commander on half health. This was pretty tilting as the math on killing that model is about 96% with my extra attacks and I would have been able to force a Fall Back on a Fire Warrior unit along with taking out a huge threat to my Primaris.

Morale saw one Fire Warrior flee, leaving a unit of three from a 10 man. With some better decisions I would have been able to get Kill More as the Commander should have died and if I didn't Advance my Mortars probably see that Fire Warrior unit finished off. As it was that went to Joey and we split on Objectives.

This is also when my camera went screwy so apologies for the lack of pictures!

Score
4-3 for Tau 


 
Tau Turn 2

Emboldened but still aware that I had a lot in Reserves Joey fell back with the Commander and moved forward a bit more with the Riptides and bigger Fire Warrior units. Everything else largely held still, waiting on me to commit. Again all the Riptides used the 3++ for their Nova Reactor. Joey also used Automated Repair System on the Commander, healing it for a wound. After some contemplation Joey put all his Reserves on my right flank.

 Shooting finished off the Scout unit and spread out into a few Infantry Squads, taking bodies out of three. My Relic Captain was mercilessly gunned down by the Commander and my other Captain took two wounds from a Riptide. I really didn't take much damage here but there wasn't much for Joey to shoot.

I managed to pass all my Morale Checks, using one instance of Fight to the Death, this was all fairly lucky as it kept me in the round for Kill More.

Score
9-3 for Tau



Imperium Turn 2

Well it's basically do or die time for me, my goal is now to kill everything but the Riptides over hopefully the next two turns. I don't think I can kill them period so I need to focus on Objectives and score, Joey has pretty much gotten all the Secondaries he can get (minus more Characters) but I have a lot more available to me.

My Captain jumped up into the ruins on Joey's side while the Librarian moved up to prepare for a trick play. My last Blood Angel Captain came down on the left, 9" from a Riptide that the Librarian was near. I split the Deathwatch up, dropping two units and a Captain on the right to handle all of Joey's recent arrivals while the other unit with Captain went left to keep Recon alive and to help with Fire Warriors.

In the Psychic Phase I was able to get Null Zone off on the Librarian and Smite/Psychic Maelstrom the Marker Drones away and put a wound on the Crisis Bodyguards. Null Zone was the most important part of the turn so far, next I needed to get the Librarian to make a Charge near the Riptide.

Shooting was pretty strong as I killed off all the Crisis Suits with Joey forgetting to use Neuroweb System Jammer, I didn't have the shots leftover to put into the Commander though. I was also able to remove two units of Fire Warriors and get another fairly low. While this wasn't the most damage ever it removes all of Joey's front line which weakens his Objective game and opens things up for me.

Charges mostly my way as the Librarian made it into the Fire Warriors, getting within 6" of the Riptide to strip its Invulnerable. My Blood Angel Captain made it into the Riptide unscathed and the Watch Captain on the left also made it into the Fire Warriors. Stupidly I didn't declare the Fireblade there as a target and even worse I forgot to Charge with my center Blood Angel Captain. He just blended into the Terrain and I forgot about him, this was a huge mistake as that would have likely finished off the damaged Commander, really damaging Joey's ability to fight back against my Primaris.

Combat went horribly, I finished the Fire Warriors off but left the Cadre alive, tying him up. The Riptide also survived with 3 Wounds as I rolled poorly again, despite using Red Fury and Honor the Chapter, which invalidated my whole plan. Now Joey can just heal it and use Stimulant Injector, there's no point in hurting Riptides unless you finish them off.

At this point I was super on tilt, not only had every important dice roll not gone my way but I'd made a huge mistake. I expected to lose all my forward Captains and Librarian which would probably seal the game. Both Commanders still being alive is also a huge threat to my Deathwatch, nine shots at near perfect accuracy with d3 Damage is just too much. On a positive note I was able to contest Joey's left Objective, giving me Score More and Kill More as well as Recon.

Score
9-8 for Tau



Tau Turn 3

With the path to victory pretty clear Joey fell back again with the Riptide and the Fireblade. The smaller Fire Warrior units moved up but the Warlord Cadre continued to hide. All the Riptides went with a 3++ again although one used Branched Nova Charge for shots as well and the damaged one continued to heal.

Shooting killed all my forward Characters, as expected, and took out most of the Intercessors from all three units. This probably would have been wore but Joey only had one Marker Drone left and it kept missing. Overall I had some thing to fight back with but not much and all the Riptides are still kicking. Fortunately my remaining Psykers were spared so maybe I could do something with them.

 Once again I lost nothing from Morale but Joey regained control of his Objective and had essentially maxed out Secondaries except for Last Strike, it was very unlikely he'd ever be able to get to my Warlord.

Score
14-8 for Tau




Imperium Turn 3

Winning by attrition is no longer an option so I have to play for Scenario. To that end I hunkered down on the left and moved up with my remaining Deathwatch Captain. My few remaining Guardsmen moved back to hide and hold my right Objective, as well and try and not give up kills. My Psykers ran up to kill the Commander on the right, if possible.

In the Psychic Phase my bad rolls continued and I left the Commander with 2 Wounds. Shooting was able to finish him off as well as the last Marker Drone and one of the small Fire Warrior units. Finally I shot the Fireblade off the Objective, netting me Kill More and Hold More once again. Being able to get an extra 6" with remaining Intercessors was extremely helpful for reaching out and touching some of those units.

With no Charges and no Morale losses I managed to squeak out a narrow lead on Secondaries. I may be able to get one more instance of Score More via the Watch Captain contesting something but Kill More will be an uphill battle.

Score
15-14 for Imperium





Tau Turn 4

Joey moved a Riptide onto his Objective and all of them Nova'd for shots, continuing to heal and have one of them pick shots as well via Stratagem. The remaining Commander flew left to help get my Deathwatch down and remove Recon.

Shooting was less than amazing for Joey as I was left with three Hellblasters and the Tau Commander took 2 Wounds from Overcharge, leaving him with one. One of my other units went down to just one Hellblaster as well. My Psykers were also basically ignored which leaves the possibility for sniping out the remaining Commander. One forward unit of Guardsmen was finished off though, giving Joey a kill for the turn.

Once again I passed all my Morale setting up for a decent Turn 4 but the game was getting very tight and I couldn't count on the Riptides to just keep missing forever.

Score
16-15 for Tau


 
Imperium Turn 4

My remaining Deathwatch Captain jumped up into the center ruins, hoping for a Charge into the last Commander for more points. All my Psykers Advanced but none were able to get a bead on the Cadre Fireblade, meaning I probably wouldn't be able to kill him this game. After some consideration I went to hide with the Deathwatch I had on the left, hoping to limit Joey's kills.

In the Psychic Phase I put 4 Wounds on a Riptide but failed to cast Psychic Maelstrom on the Commander. I also wasn't able to finish him with shooting, doing one wound with the Captain as the Hellblasters and Mortars finished off a Firewarrior unit for a kill. If I'd Advanced them I could have likely contested the left Objective but a kill was the better plan.

 My Charge failed even with a re-roll although the Commander came out unscathed. Regaining a slight lead I didn't feel like I had enough steam to finish the game, my Commander was likely dead along with the Hellblasters which would remove Recon from being maxed out and surrender Kill More for the last two rounds.

Score
18-15 for the Imperium



Tau Turn 5

 Once again the damaged Riptide healed and everyone Nova'd for extra shots with the Plasma Riptide also getting a 3++. One Riptide went to the right Objective (my perspective) just to reinforce and help kill the Psykers. The Commander stayed back as if he jumped the wall I'd likely be able to finish him with my remaining Deathwatch.

Shooting killed the Astropath and one Primaris Psyker but the Captain lived with one wound, rolling well for his Iron Halo. I also lost all the Hellblasters on the left but being able to still max out Recon is a big deal.

Score
18-17 for the Imperium



Imperium Turn 5

With a slight lead and the game really winding down I went for a series of plays that would seal the win, having no other real option. The last Primaris Psyker moved up to Charge the Cadre through the wall, avoiding Overwatch. My Captain also hopped down and made use of a wall to only take Overwatch from one Riptide.

In the Pyschic Phase I was finally able to finish the Commander off, netting a Headhunter point. Shooting did nothing of value, as expected. Finally I made both my Charges, with the Captain living after making a few saves and using a re-roll.

I elected to start with the Captain as he had the better odds of doing something, I also used Dominatus Doctrine to have him wound on 2's, re-rolling 1's thanks to Mission Tactics. Unfortunately I wasn't able to finish it off but I did leave it with three wounds.

Joey interrupted with the Cadre but I made my saves on the Primaris Psyker, leaving it alive with one wound. I only did a single wound back to the Cadre but then was able to finish off the Riptide with Honor Your Brothers, equaling the kill score. I was also able to score Recon again as both Characters had lived, which I needed them too, maxing that out.

Score
22-17 for the Imperium



Round 6

Joey and I decided to talk out the last turn, we both agreed I'd lose the two Characters up front which would give him Last Strike and Kill More. We would also split Objectives but to get into my Deployment Zone he'd have to Nova Reactor and Advance which would leave my Death Watch Captain alive, making Kill More not certain and not splitting on Objectives. No matter what I would win by at least 1 Point assuming I scored nothing on my turn but I had one Objective locked in.

This gave me a very narrow victory, likely by a 23-21 margin if we were reporting the game.

 

Post-Game Thoughts

 While I unfortunately don't have the pictures to illustrate this, I shouldn't have won the game for numerous reasons. Besides the mistakes I mentioned Joey was a bit too reserved with his movement as there were a few times he could have had redundancy on his left Objective. The Commanders probably should have also just ran away during the later portions of the game, one could have been saved for sure. Finally the Riptides should have been moving forward to guarantee Linebreaker while retaining their 3++, me being able to kill one late in the game was an anomaly. Unity Through Devastation also never got used which isn't the most gigantic ability but it would have helped with the Primaris Marines in cover, although putting the Warlord in danger could have been bad.

Even with all that I played very poorly in some respects and was only able to pull the game out at the end because of some things finally going my way and capitalizing on Joey's mistakes. I went on tilt very hard this game after all the important rolls went against me, both the Commander living on Turn 1 and the Riptide living on Turn 2 had an enormous impact on the game and were very much in my favor to not go down that way. Forgetting a Charge and losing a Character for nothing just compounded that.

Looking back on the game now I should have played extremely defensively with most of my units to limit Joey's ability to kill stuff and then just edged him out by as often as I could, slowly making units smaller so I could finish them off when needed. I should have also been more aggressive with some of the Characters, going for a Deep Strike snipe on the Warlord early on and maybe pre-game moving.

I did learn a lot about Tau, I was unfamiliar with their Stratagems and in some ways Joey's composition was better against me than a normal list would be. He had a lot more multiple Damage guns than I see from Tau, usually they opt for Fusion Commanders and Stealth Suits. He had less Characters than normal and more Fire Warriors which just chewed up my Guardsmen early. I think against the more cookie-cutter Tau builds I'd have done a bit better. This was also the worst Deployment option for me, a middle of the road Mission, and I went second.

Besides tightening up my play I learned a few things about my list this game. One is that the Infantry Squads are useless, I'm cutting two of them and replacing with Mortar Teams. This will let me double wrap the Company Commander and give his Orders more use. It also takes easy kills off the table for my opponents and gives me more screen clearing. I'll probably go with Cadian instead of Tallarn as a result.

The Deathwatch provide plenty of bodies to keep my Characters safe until they commit, and while pricey I like the second Captain for allowing me to spread out. I may see about getting them Storm Shields instead of Stormbolters, the extra shots aren't that big of a deal and I'd rather have more fighters. I also really want a Jump Pack on the Librarian, Veil of Time and Might of Heroes get a lot more done with him being able to zip around and Null Zone becomes better against shooty armies. Finally I'm not feeling the Astropath anymore, Psychic Maelstrom is really hard to cast and it's so variable. With my change to the Guard Battalion I'll also never use his cover stripping ability.

So far I really like this version of the list. It is vulnerable to armies with lots of multiple damage attacks but I have the tools to shut a lot of that down and I almost always get the first meaningful hits of the game. Adding Inceptors and better Mortars should help keep my anti-Infantry game going but also surrender less kills and not make me vulnerable to being tied up. While Watch Captains are not as good in Combat as a Blood Angels Captain they're still great, particularly with Mission Tactics and Stratagems. With those tweaks I think I'd have done better this game, although I need to tighten up my play.

Next weekend I have an RTT and then two GTs in June, which is insane. I'm trying to find time to practice but I also have to get a lot of painting done so it's going to be tight. I'll try to get a full Battle Report up this week now that I have my camera fixed but thank you for reading in any case. :]