Episode 81.3: The New ITC Missions

Hey everyone, if you're like me you just came back from the movies and saw that the new ITC Missions, which were said to come out after BAO, are live! While the Mission Pack is largely the same it has some changes, mostly to Secondaries, which were requested via community interaction a few weeks back. These are likely to be the Missions for quite some time, and unless Games Workshop puts effort into better Missions they're also likely to be the competitive standard. So what's the good and bad?



The Good

To their credit the ITC Guys seemed to have realized that their Secondary Objectives were a complete joke. Only half the list, if that, was ever used and the Secondaries were trivial to build around for some armies, impossible for others, which created yet more imbalance with the game. Of particular note were Gangbusters and Behind Enemy Lines, both almost never taken as they applied to very few armies (none that are competitive) or were effectively impossible to max out.

These have been overhauled with Gangbusters getting the boot and replaced with Ground Control which allows you to score for every Objective you hold at the end of the game you score a point. Sadly this isn't a very good addition as it falls into the "Win More" category, if you're holding 4 Objectives at the end of the game then you were going to win anyway. If you're going to hold less than 4....why would you take this? While Gangbusters was literally useless and this new addition is not it's still likely to be rarely taken, especially since not all the ITC Missions even use 4+ Objectives. Oof.

Moving onto completely better news, Death By a Thousand Cuts has been changed to only need 2 Enemy Units but they have to be killed in the Turn, not the Round. This is a great change as even the most elite armies include 8 Units, although there is counter-play with your opponent suiciding units into your army to decrease the count. Fortunately this isn't viable when playing with the ITC Clock Rules, which are getting popular, as you cannot be forced to attack enemies in the Fight Phase. Overall a very good change to a bad Secondary although I think making it the Round would be a good change.

Behind Enemy Lines has also been changed to only require one unit but it has to live through your opponent's turn. Again this is a great change as previously this was up there with the most useless Secondaries, now armies with durability can make this work. Because it has to be done over four Turns I still don't think this will be a popular choice but it's at least now viable and that's a big step in the right direction.

The other small changes were moving The Reaper to just killing 20 Enemy Models, whenever. This should now be extremely popular as there are no timing restrictions and many armies fall into having 80+ Models, even in the competitive scene. Big Game Hunter is also now 7+ Wound models instead of 10+, get wrecked Carnifex spam. Right now this change isn't very big as it really does largely target Tyranids but when the next balance pass is done it could be a bigger deal.

A change made to the other Secondaries is limiting stacking, this was very punishing to models like Mortarion and Magnus who surrendered full Kingslayer Points, a Headhunter Point, and a Big Game Hunter Point. While my personal feelings are these models should not have a place in regular play I am not the taste maker for Warhammer 40K and I'm sure many people will be happy to see this. Fortunately for me most big models are still garbage in the game and this is unlikely to change that but if you choose to bring them you may find yourself in less of an auto-lose situation.

Lastly we have one more new Secondary, Marked for Death, which is by far my favorite. This actively attacks elite armies as you get to pick 4 Units, each with Power Level 7+, and you get a point for each one you destroy. With Knights and Tanks being most of the meta right now you can get good work out of this Secondary.



The Bad

While the good things were decently good, I fear the bad is going to be VERY bad. Prior to this update a big part of competitive play was limiting Secondaries via list building, things like sticking a Mortar in Guardsmen Units to avoid The Reaper, limiting Characters/Tanks, that kind of thing. This practice was on the down swing a bit ever since the Knights Codex dropped as people were throwing Secondaries out and just spamming the most powerful stuff they could get. That's pretty much where we reside now and where the game will stay until changes are made by Games Workshop.

What we have now with the ITC Missions is an environment where you should always score 12/12 Secondaries in a competitive game. With the amount of viable options and how deadly 8th Edition is I have a hard time seeing evenly matched armies not being able to punch 12 Points out of each other, especially with what's good in the game right now. So instead of a focus on Secondaries, the focus shifts to Primaries.

As anyone who has played ITC Missions knows you score a point if you killed something on your turn, a point if you held an Objective on your turn, and at the end of the round the player with the most kills, as well as the player holding the most Objectives, get a point for each. While I'm happy to see Objectives getting more focus the "Kill More" Primary is now going to turn into an issue. Personally I've always hated Kill More and thought it has no place in a competitive game because it massively favors elite armies. For example I played in a recent tournament against another Imperium Player who was fielding a Big Knight. I was able to kill his entire army but because he had so fewer units than I did he was able to rack up Kill More for most of the game. Even though I beat the crap out of his army he nearly won the game because of that one thing, when he had no business being in the game.

With Knights being such a massive presence in the meta, I'd argue they're the most impactful Codex we've had in 8th Edition thus far, it's now extremely punishing if you don't fall in line and move to an elite build. The option is certainly on the table to counter Kill More with Hold More but Objectives are much more volatile than removing units. The only counter-play to Kill More is to purposefully leave stuff around so you can kill it later, something that can backfire if you're not playing with a Chess Clock (as mentioned earlier). While one can argue it's tactically interesting to play that way it's extremely unintuitive and gives elite armies an advantage, even a damaged Vehicle/Monster can put out some pain while you wait around to kill it at the right time. Even worse some of the popular big models don't meaningfully degrade or they can operate at full functionality via Stratagems.



Overall

While overall the ITC Missions have been improved I think any canny player is going to see the new holes and quickly exploit them. Since Knights are everywhere it's not like a lot of the top armies have to be changed to work in this environment and I fear the ITC Panel wasn't able to see the forest through the trees. Time will tell and I'll certainly be play-testing these Missions in the hopes that I'm wrong.

If I were to change the ITC Packet I would omit Kill More completely, change The Butcher's Bill to Round, and change Ground Control to 2 Points per Objective. This would likely make for a more even playing field and also pair nicely with any meta the game can throw at the packet.

On an optimistic note I think the balance problems with 40K are so obvious right now that I'd be surprised if Games Workshop didn't hit every single one of them. Knights are likely to see both direct and indirect nerfs which may very well clear up the Kill More problem, making it something I just fund stupid as opposed to potentially game deciding. As the ITC Guys are in bed with Games Workshop it's very possible they know what changes are coming in the next few months, as well as the next few Codexes, and have designed accordingly. That's why I'm saying for now I think there will be a problem, in a few months who knows. What are your thoughts?

Episode 81: Is it November Yet? [Tournament Report - Pictures/Detail Light]

Missed my previous posts? Check them out below!

After an almost two week break from Warhammer except for some excursions into Kill Teams (which is amazing) I decided to play in a local RTT. Some of the heavy hitters in my meta went to the Bay Area Open but many other good players didn't and we ended up having a very good, twelve person turn out. Unfortunately the monthlies at this particular store always suffer from not enough terrain but it's been slowly getting better. You're likely to see some very ghetto setups though as some tables had to use things like a Land Raider Box as a central, LoS blocking piece. You make due with what you have.

I entered the tournament with a goal of going 2-1, as I try to do for all smaller events. With me being one of the better players in attendance I figured I had a shot at winning but I brought a list I had never played before, although it is fairly point and click. If you're intending to play at a high level right now most armies are point and click which is one of my biggest reasons for having some fatigue with the game.



Army List

Supreme Command Detachment - Blood Angels

Librarian Dreadnought [Wings of Sanguinius & Quickening]
Captain on Bike w/ Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield
Captain on Bike w/ Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield

Battalion Detachment - Blood Angels

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

5 Scouts w/ Bolters, Sergeant w/ Chainsword
5 Scouts w/ Bolters, Sergeant w/ Chainsword
5 Scouts w/ Bolters, Sergeant w/ Chainsword

Battalion Detachment - Imperial Guard (Catachans)

Company Commander w/ Boltgun, Karov's Aquila (Warlord w/ Grand Strategist)
Primaris Psyker [Nightshroud, Psychic Maelstrom]

Infantry Squad w/ Mortar, Sergeant w/ Boltgun
Infantry Squad
Infantry Squad

3 Artemia Hellhounds w/ 2 Heavy Flamers. 1 Heavy Bolter
3 Artemia Hellhounds w/ Heavy Flamers
3 Artemia Hellhounds w/ Heavy Flamers

 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This list is pure janky filth but on paper it does well against everything that's popular right now except Tau. Custodes have no way to handle Vehicles except stabbing them and the Hellhounds explode on a 4+ for d6 Mortal Wounds, Smash Captains are also good against them. Dark Eldar don't enjoy auto-hitting weapons with the perfect stats to kill Kabalites/Venoms although Ynaari can still make my life hard, as I'd expect from the best army in the game. Knights have no game against 5 Smash Captains and a Librarian Dreadnought, which is a conscious choice by me because Knights are by far the most popular faction locally. No offense to Knight players but they're the easiest army to get results with while not playing well. Until the next set of balance revisions I will always tech for Knights the most, they're just that popular.

Our turn out was decently eclectic with Knights being the dominant option but a lot of mix-ins. Two Tyranids, a Tau, and a Necron player were the Xenos representatives and one Death Guard player holding the banner for Chaos. Everyone else was some mix of Knights, Blood Angels, Guard, Custodes, and a few weird things like a random Guilliman as well as some Raven Guard. For players of renown we had the 5th ranked ITC Blood Angels player (and LVO Top 8 contender) as well as the 2nd Dark Angel player and a top Imperial Knight/Dark Mechanicus player. Sometimes I wonder where I'd be in the ITC Rankings if I didn't constantly swap Factions but ultimately I don't care about them.



Game 1 - vs. Tau

For my first round I was against Jarod, a known local Tau player who I haven't played against. He brought the following:

Commander w/ Supernova Launcher and ATS
2x Cadre Fireblades

Firesight Marksman
Riptide Battlesuit w/ Heavy Burst Cannon
Riptide Battlesuit w/ Ion Accelerator

6x 5 Fire Warriors

5 Pathfinders
5x Shield Drones
5x Shield Drones
Y'Vahra Battlesuit

Broadside Battlesuit
Broadside Battlesuit
Broadside Battlesuit

Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #4
Hammer & Anvil

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

Tau Secondary Objectives (Jarod)
Big Game Hunter, Head Hunter, Old School



All the suits had some upgrades but I can't remember them all. Everything was Tau Sept except for the Y'Vahra which was Bor'kan for the obvious flamer synergy.

Our Mission was What's Yours Is Mine, easily the worst Mission in the packet against Tau. We also rolled up Hammer & Anvil as Deployment, the worst Deployment against Tau. Oh boy. At this point I felt like I'd either need to go first or for Jarod to have a very bad Turn 1 for me to be in the game, he correctly brought a very anti-Vehicle list.

For Deployment I played to my out of going first, placing the tanks and Characters very aggressively. My Guardsmen hid behind terrain, they aren't going to win a shoot out with how many Fire Warriors Jarod has so all they'll do is surrender Kill Points, instead I wanted them to just guard against the Y'Vahra as if it ever hops in the back I can counter with a Captain. Being able to hide them also made Recon more viable as 2/4 Table Quarters are a freebie. Jarod spread out more than I expected but mostly bunkered on the right with the big Suits, the Broadsides, Commander, Drones, and some screening elements. On the left and middle some of Fire Warriors, a Cadre, and the Pathfinders held the flank. I was able to drop my Guardsmen to bait out some things and once I saw that at least some units were on the left I knew I could spread my tanks out a bit more. Ideally I would have been able to play refused flank, hiding with the large terrain piece in the center on my advance, but I didn't have enough chaff to bait that out. As a break for me Jarod won the roll for first turn but I Seized the Initiative, giving me some life in the game.








Round 1

My turn was very brisk I Advanced all the Hellhounds and popped smoke with them, trying to keep some of them around. The Captains mostly went up the left flank while one used Upon Wings of Fire to try a Charge against the non-Warlord Cadre Fireblade. My hope for this was to kill it and also kill a Fire Warrior Squad, that's not the most favorable trade for me but I need to win on the left flank so I can box Jarod in. The plan for the game was to kill everything but the Big Suits and pull the game out on Secondaries and some Hold More scoring.

I was able to make the Charge and kill the Fireblade as well as four Fire Warriors although the Overwatch hurt a bit. I also secured First Strike for Old School which was crucial for my plan.

Jarod didn't move much, falling back with the one Fire Warrior and shuffling some others. One Riptide moved up to a good firing position behind terrain and the Y'Vahra moved forward to start flaming stuff. This put it in threat range but out of Drone range as they didn't keep up quite enough.

Shooting was brutal as Jarod consistently rolled more 5's and 6's than anything else despite not having any Markerlights up. This cost me two Hellhounds although fortunately none of them exploded as that could have been a disaster. Past that I took a few miscellaneous wounds from Pulse Rifles and so on but nothing major.

Score
5-7 for Tau






Round 2

Now that I was in Jarod's face I wanted to start following through on my plan, sadly most of my strength was on the left so I wouldn't be able to get to everything I want to. A Bike Captain and Jump Captain moved up to try and clobber the Y'Vahra as that's a major prize. My remaining Hellhounds moved up to try and clear the left and middle, I held the remaining Captains back. My Primaris Psyker also started running up the board as it looked like he was pretty safe.

In the Psychic Phase I got both powers off on my Librarian Dreadnought and put Nightshroud on one of the tanks, moving the Dreadnought towards the center to try and take out the Warlord Fireblade. Shooting did what I wanted, killing off most of the Fire Warriors and all the Pathfinders. I intentionally left a few one man units around to pick up kills later as Fire Warriors do low damage in small groups and are unlikely to run. Unfortunately I wasn't able to remove any of the bigger targets but I don't have the shooting to do that. The Marksman was killed by the Hellhounds on the right though.

For Combat I got both Captains into the Y'Vahra and Charged a single Fire Warrior with a few Hellhounds, one making it in, to get the extra movement. Unfortunately my Librarian Dreadnought whiffed a low Charge roll even with a Command Point, preventing me from getting a big kill and a likely Bonus Point. A Hellhound was able to tag the Cadre Fireblade and Consolidate into a Broadside but ultimately did nothing and took a wound. I left the Y'vahra on two wounds even after burning Red Fury and Honor the Chapter, a disappointing result. My Hellound and the Fire Warrior bounced off each other and Jarod passed his Morale checks as I'd hoped.

On Jarod's Turn he started moving further into his bunker. The Warlord Advanced and the Y'Vahra moved back a bit while getting healed and put on full profile via Stratagem. The turn was quite to the point as the Librarian Dreadnought got reduced to one wound but surprisingly survived, another Hellhound also died. Most importantly both my Captains on the right were removed but they held through most firepower which allowed the Dreadnought to stick around. Sadly one wound models that need to Charge are not super useful against Tau.....

Score
10-12 for Tau







Round 3

Looking to finally execute my original plan and box Jarod in I continued moving up, eyeing the Drones and Broadsides. Everything started shifting to the right as the Primaris Psyker kept Advancing up the table. My Dreadnought moved to try and deny Line of Sight for a Charge via the Terrain. Finally my remaining Jump Pack Captain used Upon Wings of Fire to get in and go after the Commander.

In the Psychic Phase my Dreadnought killed itself with Perils through a re-roll and the Primaris Psyker Smite'd the one Fire Warrior in Combat with my Hellhound, freeing it up. Shooting removed all but one of the remaining Fire Warriors and all the Drones, I also got lucky and killed the Y'Vahra with some Hellhounds.

In Combat I got a Charge off onto the Commander, killing it with my Captain. I was also able to Consolidate into a Broadside and killed that as well with Honor the Chapter. This left me where I wanted to be, with Jarod boxed in, having only the big Suits left, and with me in control of both Objectives.

On Jarod's Turn he didn't have much to do except move back more and shoot. This ended with very little happening as the dice got cold and the Riptides were starting to take some damage from Nova Reactor each turn and Mortal Wounds from the one with an Ion Accelerator.



Remaining Rounds

Over the next few turns I was able to focus down what Jarod had left while continuing to hold his Objective with multiple tanks and continually tying the Broadside up. At the end of Turn 5 we called the game as Jarod wasn't able to score anything and I was going to max out what I had left.

Final Score
32-18 for Imperium






Post-Game Thoughts

I only ended up winning because I went first, which is a bit sad, but if I had given Jarod two turns of free shooting, one without smoke, I'd have lost too much. Sadly the game was pretty boring as we both have point and click armies, I was going to move up the board while the Tau were going to bunker up, do an early Kauyon, and then just do whatever. Tau is one of the armies that I most hope gets nerfed, not because they're broken but because they're boring. Riptides and Y'Vahras sucking would force Tau to play a screen game, or move, or just do something to pretend like they actually play a game.

I felt very good about my play this game as I was still disadvantaged due to the Mission and Deployment type. No real mistakes stick out in my mind looking back over it except maybe deploying one unit of Scouts forward which allowed them to die for free to Smart Missile Systems. Against Tau I just need to write-off the Guard and Scouts unless I can go for a Turn 1 Charge with the latter, which was not on the table this game.

Jarod didn't make many mistakes from my perspective but we didn't talk much after the game. His build was certainly not the usual as it lacks stuff like a ColdFusion Commander but I think for this meta it's reasonable. Fusion against Knights does very little and the Commander has to die to try. I've seen some going to Hammerheads because of all the big models floating around but they die pretty easily for my taste and are hard to protect from both shooting and melee. If it were me I think kitting the Commander out a bit more would have been better as he's a useful model, I don't think the Brigade is necessary either. Tau don't to all that much with Stratgems and you can screen Broadsides with Drones/Big Suits instead of Fire Warriors. Might have opened up some upgrades, Steal Suits, etc.



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



Game 2

After lunch I was up against Chris, a well-known local Dark Angel player who I also haven't played against. He was packing an odd list but as it turned out, a pretty effective one.


Sammael on Corvex
4 Inceptors w/ Plasma Exterminators
4 Inceptors w/ Plasma Exterminators
 Ravenwing Darkshroud
Dark Talon
Dark Talon

2x Company Commanders
3x Infantry Squad w/ Mortar

Knight Castellan (Tartaris, Ion Bulwark, Cawl's Wrath)


Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #3
Front-line Assault

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

Imperium Secondary Objectives (Chris)
Big Game Hunter, Head Hunter, Old School



This game looked much easier on paper than my last round. Chris has a fairly elite army but I can protect myself from it, then hit back and eliminate threats. The Deployment is very good for me as is the Mission since Chris is packing two Fliers and has very little Objective Secured. Only the Knight is really a threat to my Vehicles which means I can hopefully run the table with them.

Apologies in advance, I have very few pictures of this game and it started very brutally then slowed way down. With that in mind I'm just going to give an overview of what happened.

Deployment was pretty standard, I dropped my Scouts on my home Objective while hiding them and used the others to wrap my Characters. The Tanks hid using the center piece to force the Knight into one of two corners, this would also force the Guardsmen to go with it or for the Knight to be exposed. If the Guardsmen went with then the center Objective would be very hard to hold.

Chris ended up putting nearly everything in the center, put the Knight in a corner, and put the Inceptors in Reserve. He also won the roll off and this time I wasn't able to Seize. My reasoning was we were so close together that I could act first and drop both of the Fliers plus probably more, leaving Chris in a poor position to capitalize on the ability to play for Objectives going second.



Round 1

Chris moved the Fliers up towards mid-table and jostled the Knight a bit. With Shooting he was able to kill the Scouts wrapping my Characters but the Knight completely whiffed and I lost no Hellhounds at all. The Mortars also rolled a low amount of shots and were only able to kill some of my Guardsmen, overall I took very few losses.

On my Turn the Hellhounds rolled out, some left and some right. The Librarian Dreadnought moved up the center and I used Upon Wings of Fire to drop one Captain where he could get to Sammael or the Darkshroud. I positioned a Bike Captain to also try a Charge into some of those targets if I could drop both Fliers with shooting, which was unlikely.

In shooting I killed one Flier and badly wounded another with the Hellhounds. I was also able to kill off most of one Guard squad and a few from another with the other Hellhounds and stray shots. Combat also went well as the Dreadnought hopped over the middle thanks to Fly, crashing into Sammael and the Darkshroud while the Captain Charged the Flier. I was able to remove both Vehicles but Sammael made all his Saves.



Round 2

Not having much to move Sammael Fell Back to the left Objective while the Knight shuffled a bit more. Both units of Inceptors also came down on the left, within range of the re-roll aura. Shooting was brisk with my Scouts taking some losses from the Mortars while two Hellhounds got nuked thanks to the Knight. I lose a Character, some wounds off the Librarian Dreadnought, and another Hellhound from the Inceptors but overall I still had a lot left.

On my turn I wanted to put the nail in the coffin, moving to overrun the Guardsmen and moving the Dreadnought towards the Knight along with a Bike Captain. Shooting didn't go as well as I'd lost all my Hellhounds on the left, which are great at killing Inceptors, but I killed most of the remaining Guardsmen and an Inceptor.

For Charges I got both the Librarian Dreadnought and Bike Captain into the Knight while another Captain got into one Inceptor unit. I was able to kill everything but the Knight came back via Stratagem with three wounds.



Round 3

Via Stratagem the Knight was able to act at full profile, killing both the Dreadnought and the Bike Captain. I lost a few more Scouts and another Hellhound which put me on pretty slim pickings for my army but Chris was also out of stuff. Nothing was really moving for Chris, one unit of Inceptor's hopped down to hold the left Objective with Sammael and the Knight just stayed on the left flank.

On my turn the remaining Hellhounds and a Bike Captain got into the Guard bunker, finishing the last of the Infantry Squads. I was also able to move my remaining Jump Pack Captains to fight the Knight and the Inceptors. Combat saw the Knight go down again, and then come back again with one wound, while I killed the Guard Characters and the Inceptors. This left Chris with the Knight and Sammael.



Remaining Rounds

On Turn 4 Chris killed everything but a Captain, four Scouts, and most of my Guardsmen. I was then able to finish off the Knight as Chris ran out of Command Points. Sammael killed the Captain and the rest of the game was Sammael moving around to try and kill Guardsmen while I kept making sure to get Hold More. In the end the game was a very tight 26-24 win for me, largely because on the last three turns I ran out of stuff to kill which enabled Chris to get Kill, Kill More, and Hold while I was only getting Hold and Hold More. In the end I maxed out my Secondaries except for Last Strike while Chris was unable to get Slay the Warlord or Linebreaker.

Overall the game was enjoyable but got stale very quickly, with Chris only being in the game because of the Knight never staying dead and getting to act as though it wasn't hurt. This game made me cheer for the removal/nerf of Grand Strategist because there's no counter-play to a Knight standing back up and acting on full profile except luck or Command Points running out. Most armies can't kill the Knight in shooting and then again in combat so it just gets to ride the round out.









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

Game 3

At this point I was one of three undefeated players but did not get paired down, instead facing down Mark and his Imperium army. Similar to the rest of the day I had never played Mark although I've been at many events with him but I knew him to be a serious player. He brought the following:

Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield (The Angels' Wings)
Lemartes

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

14 Death Company with Jump Packs, 3 Thunder Hammers, 11 Chainsword and Boltgun
14 Death Company with Jump Packs, 3 Thunder Hammers, 11 Chainsword and Boltgun

Company Commander
Company Commander

3x Infantry Squad w/ Mortar

2x Basilisk

Knight Crusader w/ Battle-Cannon/Heavy Stubber



Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #2
Vanguard Strike

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

Imperium Secondary Objectives (Mark)
Big Game Hunter, Head Hunter, Behind Enemy Lines



Going into this game I wasn't sure what to make of the list. The Death Company units will kill anything they touch but won't survive counter-attack so keeping my tanks and Characters alive was the most important thing. It was also obvious that Mark's plan would be to tie as much up as he could on the Charge so spreading out would also be a big deal. The Mission is good for both of us but better for me as my army has more staying power, we did have to alter the terrain to make the Mission work though.

I won the roll off for Deployment Zones and took the one that the terrain moved into. Looking at the chart we actually did this incorrectly as we played the corners flipped, in hindsight I should have taken the other corner to not be boxed in and if we played correctly it wouldn't have really mattered which side I took. My Deployment was very conservative, unfortunately this bunched my tanks up which would leave me open to an early explosion. If I go first that won't happen and with Mark's firepower he only opens up one Hellhound unless he gets very lucky, so that's a risk worth taking.

Mark Deployed a bit all over, we had a minor Scout battle with me trying to keep him out as best I can and him trying to keep my Scouts back. The Guardsmen mostly hid in the corner protecting the Basilisks and the Knight went more in the middle along with the Smash Captain and one Death Company unit. The remaining unit and Lemartes both stayed in Reserves.

Mark then won the roll to go first and I failed to Seize the Initiative. Prior to the game he moved the Death Company with Forlorn Fury, guaranteeing the Turn 1 Charge. This was a pretty risky strategy as if I'd gone first I could easily move around and put all my Flamers into the unit, likely killing most of it.






Round 1

 True to what was expected Mark hopped into my Deployment Zone with the Death Company but left the Smash Captain back. Both units of Scouts in my side of the table also moved forward but weren't able to make it into my Deployment Zone. The Knight came up a bit and all the Guard stayed put.

Shooting saw the Knight and Basilisks both aim for a Hellhound I had clumped around 3-4 others but through some bad dice it was left with three wounds, helped by the fact that I had Cover. The Mortars and Boltguns killed most of a Guard unit and a few Scouts got shot down by Mark's Scouts.

For Charges the Death Company went into all my Guard and all my Characters, losing two from Overwatch and not quite making it into all the Characters. The Scouts near the right middle of the board Charged my Scouts, looking to tag a Hellhound or two on the Pile In. Unfortunately I was just outside of a few Heroic Interventions but I deployed my Characters very safely as a lot of Chainswords will tear through the normal Captains.

Combat went well for both sides, the Death Company bounced off my Captains but cut down two Guard units, leaving me with just one. I used Counter-Attack on my Scouts to pin Mark's Scouts in place, denying him the ability to tag my Hellhounds, and killed a Scout to boot. Mark bounced off my Scouts and then lost six more Death Company to Captains and Guardsmen, losing all but two to Morale.

On my turn I started moving out with the Hellhound, sending a few in the center, one to the left to handle the far Scouts, and the rest up the table and left. Because of Terrain I had to take a longer route around so a few of the tanks Advanced. I moved up all my Characters a bit and re-established my defensive line as best I could with my remaining Scouts and Guardsmen, putting the Company Commander in the back corner. Lastly I used Upon Wings of Fire to get my Relic Captain into range of the Knight.

In the Psychic Phase I Smite'd one Death Company down, leaving him to be dealt with in melee. Shooting nearly wiped out Mark's Scouts on my side of the table, setting up an instance where he could get his Smash Captain into my Hellhound, I wanted this to happen as the explosion could soften him quite a bit.

For Combat I made my Charge into the Knight thanks to Descent of Angels and Charged my damaged Scout unit into Mark's. The Death Company were finished off by my Bike Captain and I drug one Scout down as did Mark, leaving us each with one model The Knight died to my Captain after getting +3 Attacks via Red Rampage and Only In Death Does Duty End as the Knight squashed him with great rolls. This left Mark with only one serious threat in the form of the other Death Company unit, putting the game into a paused state until they came down.







Round 2

Having lost most of his immediate punch the Smash Captain moved up to take on the Hellhound and everything else stayed put. Mark declined to bring in any of his Reserves. Shooting was brisk with the damaged Hellhound getting finished off and another taking some wounds, the Mortars all went at Hellhounds and netted a wound.

The Smash Captain got into my Hellhound, avoiding Overwatch thanks to the Relic. He put one attack into my Scout and the rest into the tank, killing it with Red Rampage. The Hellhound then Exploded, killing Mark's Scout and putting 4 Wounds on the Captain.

On my Turn I moved my one Hellhound to blast Mark's remaining Scouts and kept moving the others around terrain as I could, largely Advancing and using Smoke Launchers. My remaining Scouts hopped into the center to try and help with the Captain and/or hold the center, it was ruled you couldn't see models inside the large center piece unless you were also inside it. My defensive line mostly stayed still. I was able to finish the Captain with shooting and kill one Scout on the left, as well as a few Guardsmen in the center.





Round 3

Having nothing to move Mark brought the Death Company and Lemartes in, hoping to reclaim and hold the center. I believe he forgot about the Scouts as they could have moved behind a wall and then Charged my Hellhound to tie it up, I positioned the tank poorly.

Shooting popped another Hellhound but the Smoke Launchers were hard on the Basilisks. I lost a few more Scouts and Guardsmen thanks to the Mortars. The Death Company made their Charge into my Scouts and Hellhound thanks to Descent of Angels and Lemartes, the Chaplain was left in the wind though. I lost my Scouts and the Hellhound although it managed to Explode, killing a few Death Company.

Now that all the threats were down I moved my Characters to intercept, using Upon Wings of Fire on one Captain to get him in position. The Hellhounds kept moving towards the Guardsmen with a few being in range this turn.

For Psychic I got both buffs on my Librarian, allowing him to hop over and into Terrain. I forgot to place my Captain which Mark said meant he was dead, I disagree with that after reading the Stratagem but that's how we played it in game, netting Mark a Head Hunter point. Shooting killed a few Death Company and all the rightmost Guardsmen with Flamers, I also killed another two Scouts.

Combat got the Dreadnought and a Captain into the Death Company, the Dreadnought getting up to 8 Attacks with Stratagems and mostly finishing off the unit. Mark declined to use Counter-Attack, losing all but one model who did nothing back. He then used the Stratagem to keep the unit from running due to Morale.



Round 4

Mark used Upon Wings of Fire to bail out the last Death Company, moving Lemartes up to try and take out a Hellhound. Nothing else moved, I assume the Scouts were forgotten about again. The non-Warlord Company Commander also moved back as his screen had been removed. The last Death Company came down behind the Basilisks.

Shooting softened up a Hellhound but did little else as Mark didn't have many targets for his Guardsmen. Lemartes made his Charge and finished off the Hellhound which Exploded, leaving him on one wound but only doing one wound to each of my Characters.

On my turn I pushed the rest of the tanks and Characters towards Mark and resolved to start scoring Recon which I'd missed so far. Shooting finished off the Scouts and removed another Guard unit. My Dreadnought failed his Charge into the Company Commander.



Remaining Turns

With little left Mark managed to pick off another Hellhound before the game ended. He also dropped the last Death Company near my Warlord, making the Charge and killing him by using his last Command Points to fight again.

I killed the Death Company, the Guardsmen, and the Company Commanders on Turn 5, getting the Dreadnought into both Basilisks. Mark fell back with both but we rolled it out and I'd kill both of them easily on the bottom of Turn 6, tabling Mark.

After counting everything up I'd maxed out all my Secondaries except Recon (3/4) while Mark had gotten 8/12, getting nothing for Behind Enemy Lines. I ended with a 30-18 win having gotten the Bonus twice and a fair few Kill More and Hold More.




Post-Game and Post-Tournament Thoughts

Me and the paired down person were the lone undefeateds but with the better score and Strength of Schedule I claimed First Place, winning out by 14 Points. I was pretty happy with that result as I'd played two very tight games, although I played very poorly in the final round. For not having played in two weeks and having never played this list some mistakes were to be expected.

Looking back my first round was a crap-shoot, I had to go first and I did. That was really the story of the game along with Jarod's dice being insanely hot early on and then getting very cold later. Every time I play against Tau I feel like there's very little skill involved on my opponent's part but I have to work very hard to win, a lot of that is down to my composition but some of it is just the nature of Tau. I never really got down about Tau before aside from the Big Suits being broken for their cost but Tau is just a poorly designed Faction that encourages camping and castling to abuse For The Greater Good. I don't know if there's much to be done about that.

Round Two was the one I enjoyed most as the game was very tight and I had to make some good plays on Turn 5-6 to win. These included charging Sammael with a Guard unit to prevent him shooting one to death and then Charging another as well as using Move, Move, Move to get Linebreaker. In reality this game should have been a blow-out and only wasn't because the Knight got back up twice and Chris got first turn. Chris's list isn't terrible but it's very elite, my composition perfectly countered his as I eat Fliers for breakfast and invalidate the Darkshroud. Chris could have played a much more kitey game, keeping the Fliers at max range so I could only pick up one of them, that probably would have seen him win the game but then again I wouldn't have committed as hard so who knows. Chris also chose the wrong Relic/Trait for his Knight, I think he was just locked in on an anti-shooting and offense combination.

My final game was very sloppy on both my part and Mark's. We both made numerous positional errors such as me not getting Recon before Turn 4, not defending my Warlord when I easily could have, the Knight being in the wind instead of in the corner, and over-aggression with the Death Company. As we talked the game over Mark said he should have parked the Knight in the corner, then the Basilisks, then the Guardsmen and made me eat through all that. I think he also should have hidden the Death Company until he'd bombed me out a bit, that wouldn't work on most tables but because we had the weird center-piece it would have in this game. Overall I think Mark had the weakest list I played, it's way too many points in Death Company that don't do anything. He remarked that most people ignore the Death Company in favor of the Knight and Basilisks, I don't see how a good player would ever do that. I was able to negate the second wave but not getting too aggressive and just holding the center, that's probably what won me the game besides our list pairing.

As for my army I think the list is very strong. It gives up a lot more Secondaries than I prefer but it kills anything and everything. A few people have said I'm running too many Smash Captains but after this event I'm convinced I have the right amount, there's so many big targets in the game right now as well as units meant to kill big targets, all of which Captains excel against. The Hellhounds are a bit scary to play with because their Explosions are so devastating, I think in the future I have to deploy them on the line and try to keep no more than one in range of each, barring terrain, and fit the Characters where I can. My primary weakness is still armies that can kite well but I've massively improved that with the addition of the Hellhounds.

I won't be making any changes to the army unless there's a drastic shift in the meta. Over the weekend I kept an eye on the Bay Area Open, which was won by one of my locals, and I didn't see a single list on stream or on a high table that I don't think I can play into with what I have. Chapter Approved is unlikely to change the army as I still prefer an easy to defend Warlord, however Knights may take some hits as should Dark Eldar/Ynaari, making me even better. Chapter Approved will break the army as the Hellhounds will go up in price but so will a lot of things and I look forward to a new meta, the one we have now is very stale.

For the moment I'm going to focus more on Kill Teams as it just seems like a better game and it's more fun to play, this could swing back if Games Workshop fixes all the issues with 40K by the end of the year. A lot is up in the air right now as far as changes, it may just be a boring few months until we get all of them. In light of how many sweeping changes we got last time I have a lot of hope, the developers just also need to make a hefty amount of point changes. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Thanks for reading!

Episode 80.9: Kill Teams AKA The Game I Wish 40K Was

While I continue to toil away (paying people to assemble models counts as toiling right?) on my new, unexciting list that I'll be jamming people's throats until Games Workshop does another balance pass, I find myself looking for stuff to do. Fortunately my FLGS got an advance copy of Kill Teams, which officially launches on July 28th. I've been somewhat excited for Kill Teams since I started looking into it as I really enjoy faster paced, small model games. These types of systems are pretty limited in the Miniature Wargaming market while also having some degree of popularity, Infinity is pretty much there but the rules are so dense it turns many people, such as myself, off. X-Wing is its own beast for the most part and the only thing I can think of besides those are the Batman game, which isn't all that popular from what I understand. Most games are too big in scale to be truly Skirmish based e.g. Warmachine/Hordes.

Kill Teams solves a lot of these issues for me, and more. It's a true skirmish rule set as your roster is limited to 20 models for Matched Play and I suspect 6-12 will be a very standard number. The rules are extremely simple, even simpler if you're familiar with Warhammer 40K already. Even better there's no special models for Kill Teams, the most that's asked of a player is having WYSIWYG models. This turns out to be very easy if you have an existing 40K army and even easier if you're starting from scratch, most boxes of playable models come with all the necessary options. Finally the game should be fairly popular as it's more inclusive than Shadows of Armageddon and doesn't require new models ala Necromunda.



The Rules

What I like the most about Kill Teams are the rules. The game overcomes a lot of hurdles that bog down other skirmish games I've played, some of the most common are camping being too good, models being too resilient, and certain models dominating all levels of play. So what does Kill Team do correct (subjectively)?

First of all the models are almost the exact same as what a 40K player would be familiar with when it comes to stats. I haven't reviewed every model in-depth yet but I don't recall seeing any stat line changes, only ability changes. For example Rangers no longer have a static -1 to Hit from Shooting, instead they gain this if they're Obscured (in Cover). Space Marines also have some rules that make them a bit better at fighting through damage but not unduly so. This makes transitioning between the two games very fluid, even if an ability has changed it's usually similar across both offerings.

Continuing the familiarity are Stratagems, which work in the same way as 40K and are mostly lifted from the Core Rules and various Codexes. Of course some tweaks have been made but Eldar can still do things like shoot and move away, Marines can fight twice, Death Guard can make Poxwalkers, the list goes on. Many Stratagems are new but fit the flavor of the army and the lifted Stratagems have had their costs re-adjusted. For example fighting twice costs two CP instead of three in 40K while Veterans of the Long War costs two CP in Kill Teams. This is likely to reflect that you do not "pool" CP in Kill Teams, instead you accrue it as the game is played.

Once you get past the models Kill Team is a very melee focused and deadly game, two things I love. Shooting is very toned down compared to Warhammer 40K as there are a lot of penalties the game puts on models for doing things like being far away from the target, shooting into something that is Obscured (in Cover/through models) on top of the normal penalties in 40K. When models lose Wounds they don't automatically die, instead they are either removed or take a Flesh Wound. Having Flesh Wounds on a model makes them worse at just about everything, there's a chance they get scared and do nothing each turn, and they're more likely to die when taking future damage. Both of these systems balance each other out, while it can be hard to damage models at times things can really snowball once you get that first Flesh Wound. This also prevents not KO'ing a model from feeling like you got nothing done, sure removing models is the optimal outcome but dealing with you and your opponent's Flesh Wounds is a big part of the game.

Another notable difference is the departure from 40K's Turn System. Kill Teams uses this for Movement but Shooting and Combat are both "You Go, I Go" in that players take turns performing action. Initially I wanted Movement to be the same way but having played the game it's better the way it is. By taking turns in Movement, Combat models are hugely advantaged because Charges are done during the Movement Phase. Back and forth play would result in Fall Back being a useless option, you'd move away and then get Charged by the same model more than likely.



The Problems

 What I love most about Kill Teams, the fast play and how quickly models can be removed, turns into an issue when you play with the supplied Missions. I am only discussing the Matched Play Missions as I haven't looked at the Open/Narrative offerings and don't much care about them personally.

Kill Teams comes with four Missions for each style of play, I would have preferred six but that's a minor issue. The larger problem is how much the Matched Play Missions encourage camping and/or extremely defensive options. For example one Mission requires that you kill opposing models, while one of your models is in melee with it, and no enemy models are within 2" of the model killed. So you can very easily clump your roster together and only give up one Victory Point, for the last model slain, if the game even makes it that far. Tie-breakers are having the most Points lest on the table, again encouraging defensive play.

In and of itself a vanilla Kill Team game would have a lot of dice rolling but not much Movement unless you're playing one of the more melee focused rosters. Missions need to switch that up and force playing for the center or for the table, they don't do a good job of this though. In my opinion Kill Teams would do very well with Warmachine Missions such as keeping more models in a certain area, holding the middle, and so on. While this could hurt armies like Tau the rules are already made in such a way that long-range shooting is a poor option. What encourages camping is wanting to hug cover for dear life and the bonuses that can be accrued, or penalties that can be avoided. Without a reason to move, beyond being melee oriented, the game will quickly dissolve into just standing around and rolling dice.

Fortunately this is both the only real issue I see with the system and a very easy one to solve. 40K Players are already used to ignoring the official Missions, so that pattern can keep going. The downside is a lot of people will come to the game and may not have a good experience with the Missions, although frankly Kill Teams will probably be a largely casual game (just like 40K).



What Looks Good

At this time I've played two games of Kill Teams, one with Deathwatch and one with Genestealer Cults. I have played against Harlequins and Orks as well as watched a game between Harlequins and Dark Eldar. Based on that and reading the book over the game seems very well balanced as strategies that look awesome on paper don't hold up. I'll use Guard as an example.

Guard can easily field 20 Models, swarming the board in bodies. This makes them good at the activation economy e.g. they'll have a lot more models to attack with than an opponent and can start focusing models down with more efficiency. However once you put such a list on the table it's clear that it has issues. BS4 is a major drawback in a game where there are so many penalties to hit and WS4/S3 doesn't get the job done against many lists. Guardsmen are also not very tough with T3 and a 5+ Save so particular powerful models, such as those holding a Plasmagun, can be focused and either Flesh Wounded into oblivion or just removed. Furthermore the game really starts to punish "big" rosters when models get removed and others are wounded, that's when they can start taking Nerve tests and not activate during the next round. With Guardsmen having Ld6 it doesn't take much for them to start freaking out.

I've seen numerous other skew lists like 4 Lictors but none of them hold up past the idea phase, especially with Missions. What seems best to me is an actual balanced force. Chaff to tie things up or play to the Mission, various specialists to remove chaff/elites, and mid-rangers to protect your specialists. Fortunately every army can play this style although Tau feels the weakest as they have no melee options (Kroot would have been great) and their reliance on BS4 shooting, with or without Markerlights, is problematic.

The two Factions I most have my eye on are Thousand Sons and Deathwatch. Thousand Sons gets Psykers, one of only two armies, and All Is Dust is extremely powerful in a game with few d3/d6 Damage attacks. Being able to get a 2+ Save on top of penalties is very strong and they can also take Tzaangors for chaff/melee. Deathwatch are just incredibly adaptable, being able to put Storm Shields on a lot of models is great and their Shotguns having an auto-hit variant is extremely good. They also fight well as an MEQ profile goes a long way in Kill Teams, especially when all your guys have two Attacks. I don't think there are big power peaks/valleys in the game but those are my Factions that I want to play with and see where they fit in.

----------------------------------

In the end Kill Teams is just a good system that has positioned itself well for balance and multiple play-styles. I'd recommend it to anyone with an existing 40K army, unless you play something like Knights/Custodes/Demons you'll be able to use stuff you already have. Right now the game has much more of my interest than 40K does, admittedly a lot of that is the newness of the game and meta but I also like being able to play quick matches during the week. I'm really hoping the game catches on and I'll be getting some Battle Reports for it once my list is up and running, let me know if you're excited for Kill Teams too!

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!


--------------------------------------------

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!