Episode 73.2: A Breakdown of Competitive Chaos in the Post-FAQ Meta

Since I'm started testing my Imperium list, posting it around online and also tossing up my Battle Reports, I've gotten a lot of people who seem to be disappointed that I wasn't carrying the banner for Chaos anymore. This seems strange to me because I wasn't the most successful Chaos player out there but perhaps I was one of the most vocal. Perhaps I also played off-beat armies as my Cultists builds never followed what people assumed were good (because I disagreed with those builds) and I did what I could to get more lime-light on the Plagueburst Crawler list and how dumb it was.

In any case, I'm not abandoning Chaos entirely. One of the reasons I went with Imperium is because I like armies with a lot of models which isn't something Chaos can do while being competitive at this point in time. I also didn't want to buy what would amount to an entirely new army, most of my currently owned models are invalidated by the FAQ. I'm not bitter about these changes, it was just a bit of a financial issue to hit the ground running with Chaos right away. Finally I'm someone who really like to prove the 40K Internet Hivemind wrong, for better or worse when it comes to my competitive performance. Day 1 of the FAQ I saw people saying how over Blood Angels were and how gunlines are now unstoppable, well I wanted to disprove that.

With that out of the way I have been thinking about what works in Chaos inside of the new meta that's still to be explored. To that effect I'm going to lay out how I see the meta changing, the nerfs that Chaos took in the FAQ, both direct and indirect, and finally present some builds that might get people thinking about what Chaos can do. So let's start!


This Is Not The Meta You're Looking For

One major thing that people need to grasp for this discussion is that in terms of unexplored territory we are as close to the launch of 8th Edition as we have been since that actually took place. Some units are known to be good which gives people a leg up in building armies but not one successful tournament list made it through the FAQ untouched. Not a single one. In light of this many players are trying to squeeze old lists into the new meta that Games Workshop has created, you'll see a lot of armies with three Flyrants, three units of Dark Reapers, etc. if you poke around any of the online haunts. It's easy to cling to the familiar, but it's not always optimal.
Let's start with where I think the meta will go. For purposes of this one way discussion I'd like to lay out my exact opinion of the Warhammer 40K Meta and how it's formed. The first step is whatever the Internet thinks is good will see a major pickup in play. When there are no tournament results to base "opinions" on people will just shout that anything is the next top tier army and those who shout the loudest get the most attention. We can see this at work right now all over the place when it comes to gunlines, popular opinion says they're the top of the hill right now.

The next step in forming the meta are going to be the first few major events and what does well at them. Having published lists with weight behind them allows players to start picking up those armies or at least say they're good in order to make it seem like they have an educated opinion on the game. Sometimes this is without really understanding why the list did well, which I have a perfect example of. At the Las Vegas Open several months back a Blood Angels Primaris army did very well, made Top 8 in fact. People took this as Primaris are good but in reality that player just had an absurdly easy road to the Top 8, playing against no Eldar/Ynaari and no real gunlines. How do I know this? The pilot of that army plays in my area and it's widely discussed.

The final step is when the meta actually settles. This happens when certain armies have done well at numerous large events and have also trickled down into individual groups so that people actually learn the list, why it's good or not good, and opinion starts giving away to tested fact. Prior to the Spring FAQ that's where we were, there were multiple armies that had been through the fire and proven themselves. Now we're back to square one.

 As of typing this right now the Internet group-think is shouting that gunlines are king, Deep Strike is dying, and everything is up for grabs. This is an extremely simplistic view of the game right now based on almost nothing but the change to how Reserves work. It's true that not being able to drop models, unmolested, into an opponent's lines on Turn 1 is a boon to gunlines. This lets them shoot at the non-Reserves at least once, maybe twice, before they have to defend themselves. Similarly it feels like a hammer blow to armies that relied on these strategies such as Demons and Blood Angels because their army might get shot up before they can try to even the odds. Spend some time on DakkaDakka or Reddit and you'll see a lot of armies built with all that in mind.

So where do I think the meta is actually headed? Well to answer that question I do have to say that I only exist within the ITC, Progressive Scoring sphere of influence. I do not play Core Rulebook Missions as they're not suitable for competitive games or events. This colors my perception a bit but with the ITC being so popular in North America I think I'm on pretty common ground with many other players.

In actuality I expect very little to change. Gunline armies are going to rise up and start cutting screens/chaff to keep up with a perceived arms race against other gunlines. Competent assault armies will retain, or add, elements to strip screens away within 1-2 Turns and then continue charging the gunlines and wreaking havoc. Once that happens enough times we'll go back to more balanced lists, offensively, which is where we were prior to the FAQ.

The fact of the matter is gunlines don't work in this Edition and are going to get worse if Games Workshop can throw together competent, progressive scoring missions and remove the multi-mission issue we have right now. By definition gunlines stand around and shoot, they don't take ground and they can't hold ground when they try. The shooting armies that do work are much more mid-ranged focused, this is stuff like Dark Eldar, Tyranids, and correctly built Tau. If you're looking to combat gunlines all you need is cheap shooting that can mathematically kill three units of Scouts or four units of Imperial Guard infantry. Bake that into your list, make sure it can survive a turn of shooting, and you're golden.


Chaos Rising, or Falling?

 Now that I wasted many paragraphs detailing why I don't think the game is going to change from a macro perspective, what actually happened to Chaos? Well beyond the obvious things like The Rule of Three, Cultists and Poxwalkers being nerfed, and the blanket change to Reserves there's a few others things. A big one for Chaos is that you cannot Warptime units coming from Reserves, this shuts down strategies that may have come to the forefront like Drop Pods with Berserkers. These types of builds were kicked around before but now that the power level of the game has dropped with new restrictions I think there would have been strong viability there.

A very indirect nerf is that Chaos does not have access to the types of models I touched on above, that can remove screens efficiently from range. There are solutions but the goal is to get this done on the cheap and not as a main points of the list. Things like the Pink Horror Bomb were hit hard by the inability to come down on Turn 1 while units like Obliterators are simply overkill. This will lead to Chaos paying more for something other Factions can do on the cheap.

One more kick in the shins comes with the clarification of how FLY and Charging interact, along with being able to keep models out of melee by filling up multi-level terrain. Chaos has very poor models with FLY, both Raptors and Warp-Talons are overpriced and frankly unappealing. Chaos Lords with Jump Packs are not as good in a fight as their loyalist counter-parts (no Thunder Hammers, Storm Shields, and wonky Relics) which leaves some Demons and Heldrakes as the remainder. This means it's going to be easier to bubble out Charges from Chaos than other armies.

All this combines to limit the few units Chaos was leaning heavily on while outright removing Cultists which were the main cog in most of the powerful Chaos lists. Not being able to clog up the board leaves the Faction in a hole compared to Imperium as Imperial Guard was not touched. While you can still use Cultists they require a much higher tax than Guardsmen do both to deal with Morale as well as getting offense out of them. Comparatively Guard just picks up two Company Commanders, a Regiment, and away they go.


Oh Where Do We Go Now?

While it seems bleak for Chaos right now, I think there's some gold to be mined yet still. I'm going to detail very loose builds that I've been kicking around and focus on why I think they work but not dive into too much detail as these are templates, not fleshed out armies.
Nurgle Demon Vehicles

Anyone who's seen my Plagueburst Crawler games knows the effectiveness of Epidemius and Vehicles/Obliterators. With the still under-priced Crawlers being limited to a three of that list has lost power but remember most others have as well. What still works is the basic idea of the army, take resilient units and power them up with Epidemius to snowball the game.
Crawlers obviously still work in this but I love a unit of Blight-Haulers as well. They're an amazing Prescience, Warptime, and Miasma target which helps keep them around for the late game. Since they're a squad you can even get nine of them in a list, if you wanted to. Like Crawlers they benefit from everything Epidemius gives out and they shore up the weakness of Plagueburst Crawlers as they bring long-range, anti-tank shooting to the table. Defilers are another possible inclusion, while they aren't as strong defensively their offense and flexibility is under-appreciated. Sadly Obliterators have taken a backseat with the odd points increase to the Feculent Gnarlmaw pushing that model out of viability.

Other great additions to this type of build are Ahriman, Demon Princes, Nurglings, and Plaguebearers. You want to keep most of the offense focused on Nurgle Demons to get the Tally up but some peppering of other things here and there won't hurt. Vehicles also don't care about being a Death Guard Detachment, their only good Stratagem is the auto-explosion, so you can soup it up if you like.


Alpha Legion "Gunline-Bomb"

I've long railed against the Alpha Legion armies which relied on going first to win by swarming an opponent with Berzerkers and Cultists. That style list is just too swingy but a unit who makes great use of Alpha Legion is Noise Marines. While pricey when equipped with Sonic Blasters the ability to start them at mid-range is very strong and they don't mind hiding out a bit further away if you wind up going second. Even if they get killed they get to shoot which will help them take out screens no matter what and they love all the common buffs Chaos likes to bring. Even better you can shoot twice with them using the newly upgraded Battalion that Chaos can easily fill with minimum Cultist units.

This enables the beloved Bloodletter Bomb to ride again, have the Noise Marines gun down those pesky Charge blockers and then get into Combat with the Bloodletters. While they don't have FLY they do Charge quite far. Noise Marines also help clear space for them as they ignore Cover which should kill off the few models you need to climb up those ruins and into Combat.

Such a build would probably want as much as three Battalions with all the fun it can have through Command Points. It would also need anti-tank which can be obtained from a lot of places although Obliterators are probably taking a backseat in an already Command Point thirsty build. You could likely run this without Alpha Legion if needed but I think the -1 to Hit on the Noise Marines and the ability to put them where you want them is quite a big deal. They can even tie stuff up if you do get Turn 1!


Tide-o-Plague

With a lot of the too good models now being restricted and/or nerfed I think the the almost all Plaguebearer army finally has room to shine. Putting down around 120 Plaguebearers with Epidemius and the other Support Characters is nothing to sneeze at and is pretty resilient to a lot of the shooting out there. Speeding the Plaguebearers up with a Scrivener and their Instrument means you can get Charges going on Turn 2 while heavily controlling the board, take some Demon Princes along for the ride in case there's any big models that try to slow you down.

This is the type of list I think Obliterators would work well in as they can come down to get the Tally up to three as quickly as possible, speeding you up, and Deep Striking in the deployment zone is no issue with their 24" range. This build is pretty blatant with what it wants to do but by stuffing in some Characters and as many Plaguebearers as you can it will overwhelm a lot of fancier armies. If you're a true badass just run 180 Plaguebearers and let come what may.

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

So what are you looking at to keep the forces of Chaos among the top tables at your next event? I'd like to see what more committed players out there are thinking. I quite like the Noise Marines and Bloodletters, might be something to that...

Episode 73: Friendship with Chaos Ended, Now Imperium Is My New Friend

The Spring FAQ has come and gone, if you're interested in checking out my thoughts on the update you can view them on this very blog. With the update I believe Chaos is going to have a very tough time maintaining a competitive edge prior to another Chapter Approved pass. The good thing is that the FAQ is curing some of the underlying sickness in the game, such as spam, which should allow Games Workshop to make much more precise changes. For example the Plagueburst Crawler list never really took off because people didn't want to buy 9+ of that model, now that it's restricted to three in a list you'll see them all over the place. As an overall trend I think the power-curve within 40K is going down and I consider that to be a very good thing.

Onto my list, I have repented and seen the Emperor's Light! My glorious Skaven have decided to join the Imperial Guard and makeup for their wrong-doings. I chose to go with Imperium for a few reasons, one Cultists are no longer a viable unit in the competitive game. Since I like Hordes, that was a bit of a turn off from Chaos. Secondly I didn't want to buy an entirely new army so I wanted to re-tool some of what I had. Thirdly the reason I didn't go with Imperium in the first place is they had too many ingredients in their soup and I didn't want to buy all that stuff. Fortunately the change to Detachments means I likely won't have to.

I'm now playing what is close to a standard Blood Angels and Imperial Guard build. I've tested this list once in the Post-FAQ Meta but I've made some tweaks since then and I was HEAVILY proxying in that game. This time around I have more models but still need to do a lot of conversion work, which will most likely consume my week. For this game I'm playing Dylan, one of two brothers that I've played quite a few times. Both have improved a lot since 8th Edition dropped and Dylan recently made the change to Raven Guard from Iron Hands which I thought would be a good test for my list.


Army Lists

Imperium

Battalion Detachment - Catachans
Company Commander w/ Shotgun [Warlord w/ Grand Strategist, Kurov's Aquila]
Primaris Psyker w/ Psychic Maelstrom, Terrifying Visions

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


Brigade Detachment - Catachans
Colonel "Iron Hands" Straken
Company Commander w/ Boltgun
Company Commander w/ Boltgun
Ministorum Priest w/ Chainsword, Laspistol
Sergeant Harker
Astropath w/ Laspistol
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer
Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer
Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer

Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars


Supreme Command Detachment - Blood Angels
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield [The Angel's Wings]
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain on Bike w/ Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain on Bike w/ Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
10 Death Company w/ Jump Packs, 9 Power Fists, 1 Chainsword, 10 Boltguns



Raven Guard

Battalion Detachment - Cadians
Company Commander [Kurov's Aquila]
Company Commander

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


Battalion Detachment - Raven Guard
Kayvaan Shrike
Lieutenant

5 Scouts w/ Boltguns
5 Scouts w/ Boltguns
5 Scouts w/ Boltguns
5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Missile Launcher, Armorium Cherub
5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Heavy Bolter, Armorium Cherub
5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Heavy Bolter, Armorium Cherub
Vanguard Detachment - Raven Guard
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Power Axe, Combi-Plasma

Company Ancient w/ Boltgun [Banner of the Emperor Ascendant]
10 Hellblasters
6 Aggressors
6 Aggressors


Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #3
Spearhead Assault

Imperium Secondary Objectives
Old School, Recon, Headhunter

Raven Guard Secondary Objectives
Old School, Recon, Headhunter


Terrain was laid out in a very familiar style for my tables, two Line of Sight obstructing pieces in the center-ish, something in each corner, and two small pieces along the flanks. Everything was declared Ruins with the first level blocking Line of Sight, per ITC recommendation, and the Craters were payed as just that.

Dylan started Deployment by announcing he was going to Infiltrate the Jump Pack Captain, Hellblasters, and both Aggressor units. I put the Death Company and one non-Relic Captain in Deep Strike and then started putting my Guardsmen down and getting them all in Cover. Dylan did much the same although his were not in Cover, ringing around the building to my left where it was clear the Devastators and other fire base models would go.

I committed two Sentinels to the left, one to the right, and a Bike Captain to each side while the Jump Pack Captains held the center. My Priest and both Psykers went in my center building while I spread the Commanders out for Leadership and Orders. Dylan put all his Devastators, Shrike, Lieutenant, and the Acient where I knew they would go.

We then rolled off for pre-game movement as the Raven Guard have Scouts and I have Sentinels, Dylan won the roll and was able to put the Scouts forward. I moved two Sentinels back to break up some Line of Sight from the Devastators, hoping to save maybe one of them. Unfortunately I'd boxed them in a bit so I wasn't able to go as far as I wanted.

Dylan also won the roll for first turn which I elected to give him in the interest of testing my list. One Aggressor unit each went on the flanks while the Captain and Hellblasters reinforced the left side.












Pre-Game

Turn 1 is going to hurt as the Aggressors will no doubt punish my Guardsmen. Fortunately I think I can hit back and kill them all with the Captains once the dust settles, my goal is to take the middle Objectives by Turn 2. Because the Raven Guard army is so gunline focused it should be hard for Dylan to reclaim that ground once I've dealt with the units he infiltrated, but there's a lot there.

My Mortars are just going to try and counter his Mortars, I have more shots and buffs so that shouldn't be too hard. If I can clear a path by Turn 3 then I can get in and start beating up some of the Devastators which should seal the game. The big worries are the Hellblasters as I don't have much to kill them from range, which is their weakness, and all that Plasma is a real threat to my Blood Angels stuff. It may also be hard to get to some of the Characters that Dylan has, in hindsight I think I should have taken Behind Enemy Lines and just parked two Captains back there from Turn 3 onward, that would also make Headhunter a lot harder for Dylan to get.



Turn 1 - Raven Guard

With predictably little movement given the nature of his army Dylan goes pretty much right into shooting. Both the Aggressors claim two units of Catachans, which is about what I expected, while I lose both Sentinels on the left to the Hellblasters and some stray Devastator shots. Guardsmen on the middle floor of my building also bite it from spare Lascannons and end up running from Morale.

With no Charges to speak of Dylan passes the turn. All in all that's about the damage I expected to take, having Cover on all the Guardsmen fortunately forced the Aggressors to be a bit more conservative with their shooting. I felt there could have been a few more splits and some reliance on Morale to maybe get one more unit away from me but other than that it was a pretty straight-forward turn from a gunline.

Score
4-0 for Raven Guard
(Recon, First Strike)






Turn 1 - Imperium

Having a pretty clear plan in mind I moved all the available Captains, sending the Bike to the left and the rest to the right. My Sentinel Advanced towards the right as well, hoping to make a long Charge via Crush Them into the center. None of the Guardsmen move and I Deep Strike a Captain to help with the Aggressors on the left, which Dylan uses Auspex Scan on, doing 4 Wounds with the Aggressors.

Shooting sees Bring It Down go out on most of the Mortars, killing 3 from one of Dylan's units and 6 from another. All around pretty poor dice from me and good saves from Dylan. My Sentinel flames a few Scouts on the right side who actually get finished off by the Bike Captain in an unexpected turn of events.

Charges go out with Crush Them going on the Sentinel. The Bike Captain on the left takes the Overwatch from the Aggressors, losing no wounds, as both Captains get into Combat thanks to Descent of Angels. Everybody on the right gets in as well with the Angel's Wings Captain leading the way to stop any pesky Overwatch. My Sentinel also rolls a raw 8 to get into Combat with the Scouts, taking no damage. Because of his placement this will ensure my Captain on the right can't be shot and the Sentinel can't be seen by the Devastators.

I start off with the damaged Captain on the left to prevent as much as I can from Counter-Attack, he kills 4 Aggressors which allows Dylan to pull my Bike Captain out of Combat due to my bad placement. Dylan does interrupt me on the right but only does three wounds to the regular Jump Pack Captain before I wipe that whole unit out. Combat with the Scouts is a wash, which I'm fine with.

None of Dylan's Guardsmen run from Morale which keeps him way out in front on kills for the round. Fortunately I was able to even the Objectives up and not dig myself too big of a hole, I'm just short of Recon on the left. I definitely made a few mistakes this turn, the Aggressors should have been wiped out but I also forgot to usse Honor the Chapter on the damaged Captain and finish them off that way. Not moving my Psykers was also a blunder as they'll likely play no part in this game now with me already pushing Dylan back.

Score
5-3 for Raven Guard









Turn 2 - Raven Guard

Dylan starts off by Falling Back with the Aggressors and Scouts, moving back towards the left with both. The Hellblasters come down towards me, still on the left flank, and the Captain jumps between my two Captains. The Guardsmen also spread out to keep the anti-Deep Strike bubble going, no longer as concerned with accurate shots.

Scouts, the Mortars and some of the Hellblasters take shots at my Sentinel but only manage to do two wounds via some fortunate dice (for me), my damaged Captain gets mowed down by the remaining plasma. Devastators wipe out my back Mortars with ease and then just kill a few more Guardsmen as they have no other targets of value thanks to my trusty Sentinel.

One Charge goes out from the Raven Guard Captain into my Bike Captain, which felt optimistic. I take one Wound and then beat the imitator down with Honor the Chapter and regular attacks, the Captain then uses Only In Death Does Duty End for another wound on me.

Overall this was a huge swing turn for me as I managed to avoid any real damage and even netted a Captain kill, although that shouldn't have happened. I'm now aiming to finish off the first part of my plan and claim the middle which is only defended by some Scouts, two Aggressors, and the Hellblasters.

Score
8-4 for Raven Guard
(Headhunter for both)







Imperium - Turn 2

On the left my Bike Captain moves up to deal with any of the threats over there while the rest of the Captains move up the right and hug terrain, avoiding the eager Devastators. Having done his job I send the Sentinel over to the left to try and clear off the Objective before his demise. The Death Company also come down on the left but I forgot about Auspex Scan again so I lose 5 of them to the Hellblasters. Really bad move by me. I also didn't move the Psykers, again, furthering my Movement Phase mistakes.

Shooting sees me leave each damaged Guard unit with one model, a Sergeant and Mortar respectively, while Lasguns net me a Scout. Between the Sentinel and Captains I'm able to remove the Scouts on the left Objective, to my surprise. At this point my shooting targets are drying up.

Charges get the Bike Captain into the Hellblasters, taking no damage, as he's joined by the Death Company using Descent of Angels. My Sentinel gets into a slightly damaged unit of Scouts, again taking no wounds.

Combat kills all but two of the Hellblasters and does nothing to the Scouts, who then do nothing to me. I then use Honor the Chapter on the Death Company, piling them in and finishing off the Hellblasters. They're then able to consolidate into the Aggressors who fortunately only kill one. Originally I'd planned to do this with the Bike Captain but I was a bit nervous with there being two Hellblasters left and wanted them gone, in hindsight they were no threat at this point so I should have gone with my original plan.

The Mortar runs from Morale while the Sergeant sticks around although I still get kill more for the round as well as hold more since I cleared off the left Objective. I'm now where I wanted to be in the game, although I did have to commit the Death Company and they'll all die on Dylan's turn. From here I need to mop up the center and then keep Dylan off his hoe Objective and I should be able to get a win from there.

Score
8-9 for the Imperium
(Recon)







Raven Guard Turn 3

Without much left to think about Dylan Falls Back with the Aggressors and Scouts again. The Guardsmen Advance to try and keep a defensive line but by now there's gaps in it they can't fill. Shooting removes the heroic Sentinel and minces the Death Company along with what Guardsmen can be seen. After a short turn Dylan passes.

This turn there were a few errors made such as leaving both the Company Commanders out. They were the only models holding the home Objective, which could be been relegated to the Sergeant while the Commanders ran away to preserve Headhunter. As is I have an easy Charge into both of them with a Captain, which should remove them both. I think Shrike should have also gotten into a much more offensive position while Dylan closed the gaps along the ruins to deny me from being able to Charge up there, that's more important than shooting some Guardsmen.

Score
10-9 for Raven Guard






Imperium Turn 3

I move to put the game away early with the right Bike Captain getting up to the Company Commanders while his counter-part readies to finish the Aggressors. I use Upon Wings of Fire to move the Angel's Wings Captain to Charge the Devastators, netting yet another Auspex Scan for Dylan. Ugh! I'm writing a note about the Strategem from now on. I finally Advance both Psykers down the building to try and Smite the Aggressors as killing one would really seal the deal there.

In the Psychic Phase my Primaris Psyker Perils, through a re-roll, doing a wound to himself while the Astropath does nothing. Shooting removes the Guard Sergeant and all but the Mortar from the last unit which is guaranteed to run as Dylan is out of Command Points. I also gun down the last of the Scouts.

Charges get me into the Devastators, Aggressors, and Company Commanders for no damage. I kill three Devastators while taking no wounds back, finish both Aggressors, and kill both Company Commanders after using Honor the Chapter due to some awful dice.

At this point we effectively call the game as Dylan can't do anything more and I have plenty of time to kill a few more Devastators with the Astropath's help while easily getting Linebreaker and Recon maxed out. Dylan puts some shots into the Captain in his building, which I absorb, and Charges with Shrike, where neither of us nets a kill. For fun we roll out the combat fully and Shrike kills my Captain, surviving with one wound. I don't believe I'd be able to finish him off for Slay the Warlord but I would likely get Last Strike by thinning the Devastators a bit over three turns and then finishing a unit with a Jump Pack Captain Charge.







Post-Game

Overall I was very unhappy with my play this game but it was a very enjoyable one. Dylan's twist on a gunline was interesting and I can see it being very effective moving forward. The Aggressors really hurt but even going second they can be put in a reasonably forward position, depending on terrain, and provide a great counter-punch with the Powerfists. We both agreed the Hellblasters seem out of place as they're pretty squishy against most armies, I believe they're getting swapped out for Dreadnoughts in the next test game.

As for other changes I suggested making one of the Company Commanders the Warlord as it's very easy to keep them safe and it enables more Command Point recycling. The Banner can still be bought with Command Points, although I'm not sure how effective it is in this list. With some more creative placement and in games where the Aggressors hang back I think it could get value but it's close, those points may be better spent elsewhere. Time and testing will tell.

I love my list, so far it's everything I wanted it to be. The only tweak I may do is dropping the Chainsword Death Company to upgrade one of the Captains to a Bike. Initially I was worried about elevated terrain and Fliers but it's so easy to block all Charges onto a building that I don't know that it matters, and the Death Company more than help with Fliers. Toughness 5 and the extra wound is a big deal, I also like the extra 2" of Movement without as much reliance on Strategems. This would give me more flexibility in my Deep Strike versus Deployment as well.

Looking back on the game I should have gotten moving with the Guardsmen a lot earlier, probably on Turn 2. This would have let me control the board more, have effective Overwatch absorbers, and also position myself to keep getting kills in the later half of the game should we have kept playing. As is this would have been a medium score win, probably a 28 being realistic. Not terrible but given how much I was able to get ahead it could have been better. Doing small things like keeping the Sergeant around to net a kill later in the game matter when you look back.

Besides that I didn't move out with the Psykers early enough, who could have helped get some of those Devastators down, I didn't finish off the Aggressors right away with poor positioning and poor Strategem use. I also got caught by Auspex Scan three times this game which is just inexcusable, all I can say is I kept forgetting it. Now that I'm playing a much more assault oriented Deep Strike list I need to keep that and the similar Eldar Strategem in mind or it could cost me big time.

For positive I stuck to my plan and executed it well overall which enabled me to win the game. I used my combat tricks well and did order of operations almost entirely correctly. I started the game with 20 Command Points (after buying The Angel's Wings) and managed to spend them all by the Top of Turn 4 which reassures me that the Brigade is worth it. From now on I'll probably also buy The Veritas Vitae, it's pricey to buy two Relics but with how many Strategems I use I should always make the Command Points back. I also like all the things I "have" to take in the Brigade, Sentinels in particular are just monsters. I do need to learn to move forward with the Guardsmen better, they're actually much better in Combat than they are with shooting in this list because of my Regiment and the buffs I can put on them, my Heavy Weapon Teams can hold the back-field.

As I anticipated Guard is completely broken and I wouldn't be surprised if Games Workshop has to re-write the Battalion/Brigade change to exclude armies like them and Tyranids. There should be some opportunity cost when taking a Brigade but if you have super cheap or super useful Elites/Heavy Support/Fast Attack like those Factions do it's something you'd do anyways! The amount of Command Points that Guard in particular can recycle is just stupid and I expect to see at least a Battalion in every Imperium list. In fact I'd go as far to say if you can take Guard and aren't your list is probably sub-optimal. Pure Marines/Custodes/AdMech/etc. is completely dead.

I'm going to try hard to get a game against non-Loyalist Marines this week as that feels like all I play against lately and I want to test against other stuff. If you'd like to see my army go against something in particular please let me know, I do have access to people that are happy to proxy. Other than that I have to do a lot of conversion work for a big GT that's happening in three weeks, I'll probably post pictures of the finished army when I'm done.

Episode 72.4: Musings on the Spring '18 Warhammer 40K FAQ

Well I'm so glad I put time and effort into working on my Chaos lists and then Games Workshop decided that Monday was the day to drop the much anticipated/feared FAQ. At least I know what to expect for the Fall FAQ, but I'll get into some of that later.

For those not in the know, the Spring FAQ is the first iteration of one of GW's new initiatives to improve Warhammer 40K on a semi-frequent basis. There are two FAQs per year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall, along with Chapter Approved in the Fall. The FAQs are an opportunity for GW to address rules imbalances, test new rules, and overall make larger changes to the game. Chapter Approved is the yearly points re-balance where under-performing, and over-performing, units can be brought more in line for the coming year. Overall I'm a big fan of this model, coming from the perspective of an almost life long gamer I'm getting used to regular updates from online game while miniatures were stuck in the mud. Games Workshop was particularly notorious for this, rarely releasing anything to balance the game and just leaving players with whatever was in the Codex. But it's a new GW, as they continue to tell us, and I'm very excited about their update model.

Going into the FAQ no one in the community knew what to expect. It wasn't clear if there would be point cost adjustments, new rules, or how sweeping the changes we did get would be. Fortunately all that is revealed now so I'm going to dive into the FAQ itself, then what it means for the game, and finally what this indicates for the game moving forward.

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

The Times They Are a-Changin'

By now I think most people that are interested in the competitive side of the game have probably read the FAQ but if you haven't it's freely available on the Game Workshop Community Page. Feel free to follow along!

Smite and Character Keyword Changes Codified

I think this is something most people were expecting. Awhile back GW proposed two Beta Rules, which quickly became the standard way to play in a lot of communities, that nerfed Smite and also nerfed Character spam. These have now been ratified with some small changes to the Smite nerf, Thousand Sons (some) and Grey Knights are exempt but everyone else has to add +1 to the Warp Charge of Smite, for each Smite that's been attempted that turn. This caps at a Warp Charge of 11 and doesn't impact the "overload" where you can get d6 Mortal Wounds.

For Characters, you cannot "block" shooting of a Character with another Character. This means the once popular tactic of stacking Culexus Assassins to defend Guilliman and other powerful models no longer works. Characters must also be visible and the closest unit (besides other Characters with 10 or less Wounds) to shoot them. This removes "Rhino Blocking" a tactic that was becoming popular where players would intentionally block LoS to anything but a Character which allows them to shoot it.

I strongly agree with both of these changes and have ever since they were unveiled. Exempting Grey Knights and some Thousand Sons from the Smite nerf is a good addition, those armies are already hurting and were never the issue when it came to Smite Spam lists. Some have lamented the loss of Smite Spam, saying it can be countered by screens and such but in reality it invalidates a lot of builds. The only Smite Spam army left with that rule is Orks because they can easily generate huge Warp Charges, but that was taken care of as we'll explore below.

Being able to perform weird interactions with Characters was also very awkward and clearly not something Games Workshop intended. This weakens Character Spam armies, which were previously very boring to play against, but also takes away a tool from the opponent to be able to snipe out a Character without "earning" it by abusing LoS. Overall I think this change streamlines the game and takes away a bit of a dirty trick.


Beta Rules

 Now we come to some of the fun stuff that people were NOT expecting. First off let's look at the change to Reserves, which I usually just refer to as Deep Strike. As explained in the Facebook interview with the Developers, Alpha Strikes were seen as too powerful in 8th Edition. This is something I agree with and I think everyone who's played enough games has been on the wrong side of Turn 1, losing most of their army and making for a boring game. The change to Reserves prohibits coming onto the board anywhere but your own Deployment Zone on Turn 1 UNLESS the "movement ability" happens BEFORE the game begins. Let's do a quick example:

Turn 1 and Player A is using Raven Guard. He has an Assault Squad in Reserves and has also used the Strike From Shadows Strategem on a Tactical Squad. The Tactical Squad may be setup anywhere on the board pursuant to the Strategem wording. During the Movement Phase on Turn 1, the Assault Squad may ONLY be setup within Player A's Deployment Zone. If instead setup on Turn 2-3 it can be setup per the normal rules for Reserves on its Datasheet.

On top of this GW added onto the Reserve Restriction by forcing you to have at least half your units setup normally and half the Power Rating in your army setup normally as well. This shuts things down like the old Tau Commander Spam list as the common trick was to setup Pathfinders/Kroot Hounds/Fire Warriors and Deep Strike all the Commanders which would have not been equal in terms of Power Rating.
I think this change has generated the most salt online, and I can see why. At first blush this severely nerfs melee armies such as Blood Angels, Demons, and Chaos Space Marines. An opponent will always get the chance to spread out and set their defensive lines before you can bring Reserves in and Charge, they'll also get a chance to use Psychic Powers, Strategems, and so on. That being said, I really like this change. It's important to keep in mind that I only play within what I call the ITC Meta, I do not use official Games Workshop Missions under any circumstances (and no one should). Within that Meta this change makes complete sense. 

Gunline armies are horrible in Progressive Scoring Missions e.g. you accumulate points as you play instead of all at once, usually at the end of the game. Most of the time gunlines are very static, they do not take ground well and they don't hold ground well. The entire goal is just to shoot threats as they come, which obviously Reserves get around because they arrive right in your face and often Charge that same turn, or have a good shot at doing so. I don't think this change will even make gunlines better, they still don't hold Objectives well and that's a big part of progressive scoring.

But Josh, I don't use ITC Missions! Well then this change only buffs gunlines if you play on incorret tables e.g. not enough Line of Sight blocking Terrain. I think, at minimum, a 6x4 table for 8th Edition Warhammer 40K should be made up of 25% Line of Sight blocking terrain, preferably 33%. This makes the game better in all situations, even if you're playing melee army against melee army. I won't get too into why right now, just try it and see for yourself.

To top this off, I don't think the change was even targeted at gunlines. As I mentioned most people aren't playing static shooting armies even in official GW Missions, it's usually mid-range armies with some backline units and some frontline units. What Reserves did was force you to either keep your mid-line units back until Reserves came in, or give up your back-line. Let's say I'm playing Orks against Blood Angels and I get to go first. Most of my army is Ork Boyz, they want to move up and get in the game. I also have some Mek Gunz for supporting fire and my opponent has some Death Company in Reserves. My options are to keep 1-2 units back with my Mek Gunz and ward off the Reserves or just abandon them. No matter what I do the Death Company can come down somewhere and get work done, so I have no effective counter-play, I just get to pick my poison.

That situation is the overwhelming majority of game states when it comes to Reserves, at least that I see. When I use Reserves and I go against a gunline their entire army is balled up in the back, they're never split. But against other types of armies I'll be able to nip at the heels of something and get much more value out of those units. This is doubly hard on Factions which either don't have access to meaningful Reserves and cannot threaten an opponent back in the same manner. Realistically many units in Warhammer are bad, you can't build a good list and just throw a Deep Strike element in to have one. As I see it this is allowing more counter-play from mid-range armies while limiting armies that can get extreme board control from the get go without interaction. Personally I also get the feeling that Games Workshop is going to swap to Progressive Scoring in the next Chapter Approved but I have nothing concrete to back that up with.

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

The other Beta Rule was something I honestly never expected to see - a limitation on Soup Lists. You may now no longer use CHAOS, IMPERIUM, AELDARI, YNAARI, OR TYRANIDS as the Faction Keyword for a Battle-Force Detachment. This means no throwing models like Saint Celestine into a Detachment that also have Imperial Guard in it, no more Ahriman mixed with Demons, the list goes on.

It should be said that Soup is still very powerful and likely to keep the Factions with access to it near the top of the tier list, they've just lost some luster. All of my previous lists would now be illegal as I would frequently mix Demons with Chaos Space Marines. The heaviest impact will be felt from Imperium and Chaos because they could benefit the most from it but the Ynaari hit is big as well.

There are some exemptions to this rule such as Sisters of Silence, Lost and the Damned, and Assassins but they force you to take a Vanguard Detachment so there is opportunity cost. Curiously Inquisitors didn't make the cut there, the Internet is insisting GW is stupid and forgot them but I just feel like there might be an Inquisition book coming soon which will have its own rules regarding adding those models.

I don't have many thoughts on this change as it's fairly cut and dry. I do like that Soup armies have been made a little less ridiculous and from a book-keeping perspective I think it will help people know what's what. Of the two changes this one is almost certain to go through whereas I could see some changes to the Reserves update, even though I like that as is. There's just a lot of salt out there from Blood Angel players.


Balance Review

This is where I think the second largest changes to the game were made, so let's run through the smaller ones quickly and then get into the meat.

Tide of Traitors
You can now only use this once per game, effectively rendering it useless. As a Cultist player I expected a nerf but I think was a bit too heavy-handed. My hope was to make the cost much higher (4-5 Command Points) and limit the unit to returning to your own table edge. Now Cultists are effectively useless except to fill Battalions/Brigades and that just doesn't feel right.
Word of the Phoenix
The Warp Charge for this is now an 8, meaning Ynaari will have a 50/50 chance to cast it in almost every build. Small nerf that I agree with, the spell is way too good and was way too reliable. I think it's still very reliable but you have to have a re-roll on hand.
Feel No Pain Stacking
In a reversal of a Core Rulebook Errata you cannot stack Feel No Pain effect anymore. I don't know why this needed to be changed unless Games Workshop has plans to add more options for it, most things couldn't stack these rules and when they could it was commonly a 6+ followed by a 6+.
Detachment Changes
Okay this is a huge deal so let's dig in. According to the Facebook interview the Developers noticed elite armies were having issues getting enough Command Points to use Strategems while also fielding a powerful army. Necrons are a good example of a Faction with exactly that issue, they have no access to cheap Troops and the Troops they do have are unexciting. With that in mind Battalions are now worth 5 CP and Brigades are worth 12 CP.

The problem with this change is that they forgot Imperial Guard exist. While Necrons, Eldar, Tau, and other Xenos armies will get more Strategems to play with Imperial Soup will be drowning in Command Points. I would expect to see a minimum of two Battalions in every single Imperium list, often a Brigade instead. The Developers said that armies which already get lots of Command Points, like Imperial Guard, won't notice that much because they are used to being flooded. That being said you can still put other armies in with Guard and use those Command Points. Armies like, oh I don't know, Blood Angels. More on that at the end of this post.

No matter what this is a huge game changer as every army will now have much more access to Strategems. This means a lot of the less used Strategems will see more play and likely result in a bigger power spike for Turns 1-3. That seems puzzling because per the Reserves change we are pursuing a game with less alpha strikes, I see that as two steps forward and one step back. Overall I like the change, Strategems are incredibly fun and tactical to use so more of them means more room for player skill and maybe even new army compositions. But I'm sure this sucks if your army doesn't have a Codex yet, how does that feel Ork players?

Organized Play
And here we have it, the change I never thought I would ever, ever see from Games Workshop. A limitation on spam. This is not only the biggest change in the Spring FAQ, it's the biggest change I think has ever been made to Warhammer in the context of competitive play. We are essentially going back to the Force Organization Charts of old but within the current Edition that is impossible to overstate as a meta bender.

As of the moment this change dropped almost every single top tier competitive list was invalidated. If you're unfamiliar with the change you may no longer take more than (3) of a single Datasheet, per army, in 2000 Point games UNLESS it is a Troop or Dedicated Transport. Plagueburst Crawlers? Bye. Flying Hive Tyrants? See you. Minimum Dark Reaper units? Nice knowing you. Obliterators, Flier Spam, Death Company/Captains/Assassins are gone, gone, gone. The other top lists were dealt with in others ways which I'll touch on but the point is not only is the slate wiped clean but there's now massive restrictions in place.

I love this change more than I can express in words on this very blog. Warhammer has needed this for so long and I never thought Games Workshop would put the game before models sales, everyone knows that right after a big event people would buy up the winning list. BUT PEOPLE WILL STILL DO THIS! Even if you can take no more than three of something people will still figure out how to min/max and people will still buy models to copy it. That's a never ending part of the game.

What this does is make the game much more interesting while vastly limiting skews. You will see a lot less lists with nothing but the same unit copied and pasted over and over again. You'll still see some, Guardsmen and Ork Boyz for example, but I consider those far less problematic than seeing the same Flier six times or the same tank ten times. There are no Troop entries that I consider tobe a problem in and of themselves, Transports are another story.

Skews are also going to be largely gone, with Infantry being the only one that remains. You can run an all Tank/Flier list still if you want but you'll be forced to use models that you don't want to, which will then make that an unattractive option. This is probably the only downside of the change as it forces armies like Knights, Death Wing, Raven Wing, and a few others into non-existence. My assumption would be this can be resolved via Keywords in a future update, if Games Workshop wants to, because while this change is only intended for Tournaments it will quickly become the default Matched Play standard.

I feel like this points towards the eventual phasing out of the Indexes as well, there's been some differentiation of opinions on that but there's a pretty clear advantage for some armies being able to take very similar units because of their Index. It's not a huge advantage but you can do some cute things, I may be referring to myself in this instance.


Points Adjustments

Last but certainly not least we have a few points adjustments that tagged along in the FAQ. Once more I'll point to the Facebook interview as it gave great insight into how the Designers think and will be moving forward, they said some units are too good to let them slide until Chapter Approved.

Notable changes are Dark Reapers (shocking!), pretty much every Eldar Psyker, Guilliman (again!), and Fire Raptors. A lot of the typical Ynaari builds are going to be easily 200 Points over so I expect a major retooling for Eldar, they took some hammer blows. Fire Raptors are now more expensive than ever, thankfully continuing the trend of making sure Forge World sucks. Guilliman is getting closer to being relegated to Apocalypse games along with Mortarion and Magnus which is exactly where I want them.

Other than that there's some minor changes, you'll see less Biovore Spam in Tyranids which was more of an annoying list than anything. Hive Tyrants got another hit, probably deserved, and Dark Talons are now costed appropriately. It is fun to know you could personally get a unit nerfed, Adepticon seems to have been the killing fields for these nerfs.

I am happy to see Commissars/Lord Commissars get cheaper as it gives them some use without being overpowered, as they once were, but I do not understand the Gnarlmaw nerf. I know there was a meme list where you just blanketed the table with them but it's not a good army and the unit is awful at what it was intended to do. Oh well.


Codex/Core Rule Changes

What some might have missed in all the excitement is that almost every Codex got updated along with the Core Rulebook. Most of these are very minor things to clarify rules but there are some important standouts.

One is that units coming from Reserves cannot "double move" now, they can't have Warptime, Quicken, The Swarmlord, etc. used on them. There were very few armies that made good use of this and I'm not sure how needed it was given the Reserve change but it's a safeguard against wombo-combos.

Another change worth noting is that units which increase beyond their starting size have to pay points, notably Poxwalkers. This takes care of the one top tier list that made it through the Fire Raptor nerf and Rule of Three, this on top of the Tide of Traitors nerf is oblieration for that army.

The last interesting change to me is that you cannot Charge units on the second level or higher of a building if you can't fit there. Previously most people would use Wobbly Model Syndrome to make the Charge work, which was awkward but felt fair, whereas now it's cut and dry. If I were making tables I'd probably use less multi-level terrain near the edges of the table or make sure there's tons of space on each floor, otherwise melee units feel penalized.


Summation and Where To Go From Here

There's really nothing in this FAQ that I object to, at worst there's a few head scratchers. I expect the Reserve change to be divisive for a long time but there's plenty of ways to work around it. To prove it I'll be picking up Blood Angels, if you want more info keep reading.

The FAQ puts a huge priority on having powerful Troops, which was already a big deal. Access to Objective Secured and being able to spam a unit is going to rise to the top because so many other things fell down. This seems very good for Imperial Guard, Orks, Tau, Tyranids, and Dark Eldar. Anti-Infantry also feels like the initially smart way to plan a list, Fire Raptors got nerfed and other Vehicles are now restricted to a three off, although there are ways to play a Vehicle/Monster spam still via Carnifexes and the like. In the past I favored anti-tank a bit more when picking Special/Heavy Weapons whereas now I'll probably favor anti-Infantry a bit but stay overall balanced.

I expect the amount of Imperial Guard in Imperium armies to stay high and to see more Soup lists of that variety as there are now more powerful combinations. On the flip side Chaos is pretty destroyed, I can't think of a single powerful build for them right now. Obliterators have taken several synergy nerfs and are now capped, Cultists are gone which means Chaos lacks useful screens (Guardsmen are more resilient and have better offense while requiring a lower investment), and I just dobn't see any powerful combinations. The Reserve and "double Move" changes also hurt Chaos, they do have an incredibly broken list with the Termite Transports from Forge World but those are going to get nerfed the second someone exploits it on a big stage.

Despite the amount of nerfs taken I expect Ynaari to still be quite powerful, they can run one big unit of Reapers and get all the same synergies. Fire and Fade is good enough to keep them safe on most tables so you can cut Warlocks/Farseers and just run minimal offensive buffs. Having more Command Points will probably open up some fun things for Eldar and Harlequins are coming soon, plus Dark Eldar fit right into a lot of the gaps.

There will of course be new broken things but overall it feels like the power level of the game is going down, in a good way. People are already spouting new meta benders like triple Vault in Necrons but most of these things have huge weaknesses and won't be good outside of 3 Round Events. I think it's too early for all that but it's fun to feel like there's a lot of room for experimentation again. That's about all I have to say, I'm not going to pretend like I have all the answers on the new hotness armies or all the ways to exploit these changes, I'm just glad we're getting changes and I plan to enjoy them.

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

New FAQ, New Army

For those interested I will be playing a very different list in light of the FAQ changes, abandoning Chaos entirely for the time being. There's dual reasons for this, one is I really like playing Infantry heavy armies even if the setup/tear down makes me hate my life. Chaos has no builds for this with Cultists and Poxwalkers getting multiple kicks to the face, I also can't see much working for Demons with the Reserve changes. I also just don't see any good Chaos builds as I mentioned in my summation, I'm not buying a bunch of Forge World models that will get nerfed in 6 months tops. I'm sure better list brewers than myself will figure out something eventually, for now I'm taking the path of least resistance.

Instead I'm going to pursuing an Imperial Soup army, mostly utilizing the models I have now. Since I already have tons of Cultists the leap isn't that big financially and I'm happy to convert the other inclusions from Chaos models to keep my chaotic, Skaven theme. Here's what I have brewed for now, although it needs a lot of play testing:

Supreme Command Detachment - Blood Angels
Captain w/ Bike, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Bike, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

Vanguard Detachment
 Captain w/ Bike, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

Culexus Assassin
Eversor Assassin
Eversor Assassin

Brigade Detachment - Imperial Guard [Catachans]
Straken
Company Commander
Company Commander

 Harker
Priest
Astropath

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

Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer
Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer
Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer

Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars

1975/2000 Points
17 Command Points


At some point I'll do a more in-depth review of the list but that's where it's at for now, obviously some points to play with.  I got a test game with a similar list, unfortunately it was against almost nothing but Dreadnoughts so not the best test. My main verdict is that Blood Angel Captains are insane, especially when you can just hurl Command Points at them.

I still need to find out if the Assassins are worth it and the list feels a bit light on anti-tank, which is why I have the two Eversors to go tie things up. Catachans feel like they'll be good, S4 is a huge deal and the units can pump out a lot of attacks for almost no investment. I also love the Sentinels, they cost less than a Scout Squad and put out a surprising amount of damage, they can also go tie things up with ease.

I think the list will have problems in ITC Missions just because it has so many easy kills to get, the Objective game is strong though. I give up Secondaries fairly easily, no way I don't lose four Guard units and four fighty Charaters over the course of a game. I don't know that there's a way to mitigate that though, I may experiment with turning some of those into Death Company or Sanguine Guard units. Blood Angel stuff is just a blast to play with though, they hit so hard.

That's all I have for now, I'll try to post some Battle Reports with the list soon but it's in proxy hell right now and it'll be a bit before I can fix that. Feel free to post comments if you have any thoughts about my feelings toward the FAQ, I love talking Warhammer!

Episode 72: Oh Yeah, I Play In Tournaments Sometimes

Man I have not had much to post about 40K in awhile! I have played some games but nothing that motivated me to write about it. I did have a loss in there with my Cultist oriented list, quite a bad one as I played like shit. It was at that point I started thinking that there are just too many moving parts in that army, especially for tournament play where a clock in involved. I regularly make major mistakes with that army despite a lot of games with it and trying to take my time. With the FAQ coming down the pipe pretty soon I wanted to play something that was simpler and definitely not going to be nerfed so.....

Back to Plagueburst Crawlers.

Today I played in a 17 man RTT with some of the best players in my state. I decided to take my version of Plagueburst Crawler Spam as I'm a tad rusty with 40K (haven't played in almost a week) as well as the reasons I mentioned above. My goal for this event was to go 2-X out of three rounds, I think it's always good to go in with a goal and a realistic one at that. Here's my list:


Supreme Command Detachment - Nurgle Demons

Epidemius
Horticulus Slimux
Poxbringer
Poxbringer
Poxbringer


Spearhead Detachment - Chaos

Ahriman

Plagueburst Crawler
Plagueburst Crawler
Plagueburst Crawler
Plagueburst Crawler


Spearhead Detachment - Death Guard

Chaos Lord w/ Balesword, Combi-Bolter

Plagueburst Crawler
Plagueburst Crawler
Plagueburst Crawler
Plagueburst Crawler
Plagueburst Crawler

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

I have only tested this list a few times ever and I'll get to my thoughts in the wrap up at the end of this. The point is just to spam a criminally under-priced model and then enable it with various models. All three games I took Fugaris' Helm and Arch-Contaminator for the Warlord Trait/Relic on the Chaos Lord. The more pure spam is to take 10 Crawlers and trim some support but I wanted the Gnarlmaw for some matchups, so a bit more support.

Just to preface, I was not able to take a ton of pictures for these games but I will go round by round and give kind of an overview followed by what pictures I have. Sounds good? Good.



Round 1 | Chaos vs. Craftworld Eldar

This game was against Andrew, one of the more casual players in the local group who attends pretty much every event. Here's what he was running:


Farseer Skyrunner
Farseer Skyrunner
Warlock
Warlock
Autarch

10 Guardians
10 Guardians
5 Rangers
5 Rangers
5 Rangers
5 Rangers

Wave Serpent
Wave Serpent

3 Shadow Specters
3 Shadow Specters
3 Shadow Specters

3 Dark Reapers w/ Tempest Launcher
5 Dark Reapers w/ Tempest Launcher
10 Dark Reapers w/ Tempest Launcher


Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #4
Search and Destroy

Chaos Secondary Objectives
Old School, Kingslayer (Skyrunner), Headhunter

Eldar Secondary Objectives
Old School, Big Game Hunter, Headhunter



Pregame

Well this is a good Mission for me and probably a middle of the road deployment. Because my list is bad at Objectives I'm happy to stay even on those and then see what I can do with the other ways to score points.

All of the Eldar are Alaitoc, because of course they are. This means most of my guns will be useless this game and I have to close the distance to let the Plaguespitters do their work. Fortunately there's no Ynaari element for the Dark Reapers so while they're harder to kill they don't have as good of an output. There's not much to get my Tally going up quickly unless I can get to the Rangers with the flamers.

Deployment had two of the Shadow Specters go into Deep Strike via Strategem and all of the Rangers. The big Reaper unit went into one Wave Serpent and the others with the ground Characters went in the other. Everything else pretty much hides behind the large building. I did a pretty even spread so I could get to the Rangers unless they went really far away, most of my Characters hid behind my building as well.

For the Rangers one went into the building Andrew controlled, one went center, and two on the right flank from my perspective. This will allow me to flame some of them on Turn 2, not ideal but not terrible. I won the roll off and took first turn because there's no consideration for Objectives and I want to start moving up before I lose tanks.



Game Overview

True to my plan I started moving out, blocked a bit by there being all buildings on the table. Some of the Characters came out of hiding, this will expose them to Rangers but I need them in the game. Ahriman continued to hide but I needed the Chaos Lord.

Shooting was fairly ineffective since I needed 6's and had a lot of Line of Sight issues. I managed to kill 8 Guardians between Mortars and Morale, I also got into Flamer range of one Ranger unit and wiped them out. Andrew answered back by disembarking everything and getting into fire positions, also pushing the Wave Serpents up. Both the Specter units stayed in Deep Strike for now. All the Reapers and other shots managed to kill one Crawler and wound another, I also lost a wound on the Chaos Lord. All in all a fairly even turn where I'm staying even which is exactly what I needed.

I started moving three Crawlers up the right flank to handle the Rangers and unclog my bottleneck because of terrain, the rest kept going left. Ahriman came out and hid as did my Chaos Lord, I also put the Gnarlmaw down in case the Serpents felt frisky. Shooting wiped out a Ranger unit and left another with a model, I also started killing guys from the smaller Reaper units because Andrew layered all kind of defensive powers on the big unit. This removed most of the threat to my Characters but I'm still not killing much.

As per usual for Eldar nothing but the Wave Serpents came forward and the Specters dropped into my backfield which was I was fine with, they do very little against my list. Once again pretty much every defensive buff in the game goes on the big Reaper unit and I lose another tank as well as a few wounds on Characters from the Specters. Both Wave Serpents charge me but I'm in range of the tree, they take some wounds for their troubles. Next turn I'm hoping to start getting kill more finally.

I continue moving up, using the center building to keep the Rangers off my Characters. Both Wave Serpents die and I've pretty much gotten all the small Dark Reaper units down as well. I finish the last Ranger from the one unit and finish the Guardians. This makes the Tally go crazy, I also moved Slimux and a Poxbringer back to handle the Specters, now that I'm Toughness 6/7 on the Characters they're no threat. Combat drops one unit of them, maxing out my Tally.

Having not much left to battle back with Andrew goes in with the Autarch but flees with most of the other Characters. I lose another tank after the defensive buffs go up once more, the Shadow Specters that didn't Deep Strike go in on Ahriman and a Poxbringer. I take a few wounds there and another few on Slimux but nothing major. The Autarch tries to charge a Crawler and dies for his trouble.

My Turn 4 I'm in cleanup mode, both my back line Characters position to finish the Specters and I keep pressing forward, getting into Flamer range of the big Reaper unit. My Psychic Phase takes care of all but one Specter and heals a bit while Shooting finishes the smaller Reapers off completely and about half the big unit. Charges kill off the last Specter.

From here Andrew does very little, I think just finishing off a Crawler to max out Big Game Hunter. We go all 6 Turns and I manage to kill the Skyrunner Warlord for Kingslayer as well as two Warlock to max out Headhunter. I also maxed out Old School but wasn't ever able to get score more and I think 3/6 Turns we split on kills. In any case this gave me a good win, twenty something points while Andrew got around thirteen.
















Post-Game

This went how I figured it would, a low score win. Eldar are one of the armies, along with Marines, that just give up no points in ITC Missions. Usually you can get Characters but it's hard to get those sometimes, fortunately the Mortars not needing Line of Sight is a help. -1 to Hit is really hard on my army though, I think it's easier for me to handle the Ynaari version of Reaper spam because they fall over so much faster.

There's not much Andrew could have done, Reapers just don't beat this list. Even with Guide you're looking at ~4 shots getting through per turn which is only 8 Damage after Feel No Pain. Once any of the Reapers start dying it just goes south and you struggle to kill even one tank. This makes Doom mandatory but I have good odds at stopping that after Turn 2-3 via Ahriman. Also if there's easy stuff to kill like Guardians the Tally can rack up too fast, Toughness 9 tanks completely ends the game in any situation.

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

Round 2 | Chaos vs. Dark Mechanicum

After a quick lunch I'm against Derek, someone I've played a few times before. Derek is known for purposefully playing Factions no one else does so he can shoot up the ITC Faction Rankings, I believe he's Rank 1 Imperial Knights and has his eye on Corsairs after this.


Demon Prince w/ Malefic Talons and Wings [Warptime]
Chaos Lord w/ Lightning Claw and Combi-Bolter
Sorcerer w/ Jump Pack, Combi-Bolter, Force Axe [Prescience, Warptime]

10 Cultists w/ MoS
10 Cultists w/ MoS
10 Cultists w/ MoS

3 Obliterators w/ MoS
Quad Heavy Bolter Battery
Quad Heavy Bolter Battery

Fire Raptor

Renegade Knight Porphyrion


Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #3
Search and Destroy

Chaos Secondary Objectives
The Reaper, Recon, Old School

Dark Mechanicum Secondary Objectives
Old School, Big Game Hunter, Headhunter



Pregame

So I had to do a lot of clarifying about what the Titan does, which was pretty horrifying. Derek also insisted he can use the Chapter Approved Knight Strategem for a 4+ Invulnerable against shooting, which I'm 90% sure you can't, but we played it as is.

Early on I decided that I had to just ignore the Titan and kill everything else. It's going to kill a tank a turn without issue and my math against it is pretty bad because of Toughness 9. Most of the army is super easy to kill and does almost nothing to me so that seems to be the way to go. A possible alternate plan is just to rush the Titan and prevent it from leaving Combat with two Crawlers, the math on it in melee is awful. However that's extremely dependent on how Derek plays the model.

Overall the Mission is good for me, Deployment is bad though as I want more room to be upfield and threaten the other army elements. I'm also going to need two models minimum on any of the Objectives because the Titan will remove a tank.

The Sorcerer and Obliterators went in Deep Strike while everything else stayed pretty tucked away, especially the Titan which was in the very back corner. I jammed as far forward as I could, intentionally leaving the Characters open for the Obliterators. The last thing I want is them in Cover all game and shooting, I'd rather lose a Character or two and just remove them.




Game Overview

This game was a series of highlights with mostly nothing in between, which is kind of what I expected. I managed to Seize the Initiative which is a huge deal, I started rolling out with the tanks to get in position. Shooting killed a few Cultists and one Heavy Bolter with mostly bad rolls but at least I was on the board, after Morale the Cultists had two left. I also put one Mortar into the Titan which caused Derek to buff the Invulnerable Save, I counted that as a victory because we both had practically no Command Points.

Derek leaves the Titan where it is and moves the Fire Raptor up. He recycles the Cultists into my back line, the Sorcerer and Obliterators also come down there. I'm able to stop Smite and Warptime from the Sorcerer/Demon Prince but Prescience goes off on the Obliterators. Shooting kills two tanks just from the Fire Raptor and Titan, fortunately the Obliterators hugely whiff and roll 1 for their Damage even after a re-roll. This allows Ahriman to live with one wound, the Cultists also shot into a Poxbringer with Veterans of the Long War but only did two wounds. This meant Derek was on 2 Command Points and got nothing to show for it, a huge win for me.

Finally the Demon Prince Charges Slimux and a tank through the wall, leaving Slimux on 3 wounds, but I swing back and kill the Prince from full! This is a big swing because it meant Derek didn't score for killing more units and I removed a serious threat for really no cost. I was able to hold two Objectives to Derek's one as well because the Cultists got recycled off of it.

I keep moving up on Turn 2 with some tanks, staying still with others for the accuracy. Between Psychic and Shooting I kill all the Cultists, one Obliterator, put a few wounds on the Fire Raptor, and remove another Cultist unit via their Morale check. Charges go out from a Poxbringer and Epidemius into the Obliterators where I kill one more. I'm also in firm control of two Objectives but Derek will be able to hoof the two former Quad Bolter gunners onto it and keep things even.

Bottom of two Derek flies the Fire Raptor in to try and finish some Characters while the Chaos Lord and two gunners move towards the Objective on the left. The Obtlierator falls back as does the Sorcerer who Intervene'd, flying over to Ahriman to finish him off. Smite kills Ahriman but Perils and does 3 Wounds to the Sorcerer, I also lose a tank and some damage on another to the Titan. Fortunately the Fire Raptor whiffs the Characters as it split fire so they're just wounded. At the end of the turn I killed more and we tie on Objectives, another win for me.

Turn 3 I mostly hold still, just reinforcing on the right Objective. Smites finish the Sorcerer while also putting some damage on the Fire Raptor which I then bring down with two Crawlers, freeing me up to shoot at other things. I'm able to kill both gunners on the left Objective, again getting Derek off that, and I kill a few Cultists but not enough to make them run. A last Charge from Epidemius puts the remaining Obliterator down.

Derek now moves the Titan onto his Objective, seeing the end of his Cultists, and Advances the Chaos Lord onto the left Objective. The Quad Bolter moves down as well, we both know the game is all about Objectives at this point. I lose another two tanks from the Titan which I just can't stop but there's nothing else to threaten me. Once again we tie on Objectives but I killed more units.

Turn 4 I kill the Chaos Lord by pushing up a Crawler for some Flamers, I also remove the Quad Bolter and the last Cultists. This means Derek has to use the Titan to get two Objectives, which I can contest, as it's just that model and two gunners versus my list.

Once again Derek does what I expected, moving up with the Titan but not close enough to the Objective. He also splits fire and doesn't kill a tank, only badly wounding two of them. This gives me points for holding more and killing more, again huge, because I probably won't be able to kill anything for the rest of the game.

From here I just move my tanks around and score Recon twice, doing no further damage while I hide most of my Characters. The Titan completely whiffs on Turn 5, rolling minimum shots for its guns which Derek split again, and I lose no models. On the last turn the guns go crazy, killing two more tanks. Some big moments were the Titan failing a Charge by 1" to contest the right Objective and then failing to kill a Poxbringer on Turn 6 in Combat to net another point.













Post-Game

This ended up being super close, I think I won by 4 Points. I believe if I'd gone for the Titan I would have lost easily, Toughness 9 is just a deal-breaker. A lot of things didn't go Derek's way this game, I think he should have killed two more Characters on more average rolls but he also made some questionable plays. Not moving the Titan up right away was a mistake, he needed to recognize I was playing for Objectives but didn't until about Turn 3.

My only real mistake was putting Ahriman in a questionable position, it was difficult with the tanks dying so much though because they Explode on a 5+ and Mortal Wounds are very bad for Ahriman. I probably should have taken his healing spell, this really just wasn't a game for him to shine once the Sorcerer was dealt with. I would have liked having Smite and other Mortal Wounds on the left Objective though, it would have made it much easier to clear it off whereas sometimes I was down to my last shots just hoping to remove the units on it.

As I told Derek I think if we play 10 times he's a 60/40 winner, I just cannot handle that Titan. Luckily the list isn't very good in the ITC as some armies can handle the Titan, which is the whole army, and it just has so many other weaknesses to exploit.

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

Round 3 | Chaos vs. Aeldari

At this point I'm playing for Top 2 and up against Herb, an extremely well known local who usually mains Dark Eldar. I had not played Herb before but he had a pretty interesting list with a mix of Dark Eldar and Ynaari:

Yvraine
Warlock
Warlock

5 Kabalites
5 Kabalites
5 Kabalites

3 Dark Reapers w/ Tempest Launcher
5 Dark Reapers w/ Temptest Launcher
10 Dark Reapers w/ Tempest Launcher


Archon
Archon

5 Kabalites w/ Blaster
5 Kabalites w/ Blaster
5 Kabalites w/ Blaster

Venom
Venom
Venom

Tantalus


Farseer

5 Rangers
5 Rangers

Wave Serpent



Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #2
Vanguard Strike

Chaos Secondary Objectives
Old School, Head Hunter, Recon

Aeldari Secondary Objectives
Old School, Big Game Hunter, Headhunter



Pregame

This is more what I expect from Eldar, stupid Dark Reaper and Ynaari shenanigans. I wasn't aware of what the Tantalus did and should have looked that up before we got into the game. However I felt favored once I saw the list, I can kill the Dark Reapers pretty quickly since there's only offensive enables for them (Guide, Doom) and there's not much else to kill tanks. I do need to hide Characters from all the Poison though, wounding on 4's kills demons super fast.

I deployed very fanned out, ready to get up field, with my Characters all behind. Most are kept 6" away to dodge early explosions, those can quickly kill off Ahriman and the Chaos Lord.This time I wasn't so afraid of the Rangers, two units is unlikely to do much so you play the odds.

Herb put all the Blaster Kabalites in the Tantalus and Deep Struck it very Strategem, the big Dark Reaper unit and some Characters started in the Wave Serpent while everything else hid out. The Rangers went center and in a building to the top right which I thought was just poor placement because I can Flamer them easily while doing other stuff. Each Venom had the bare Kabalites in it which also started in the Ruins that Herb controlled.





Game Overview

Herb won the roll off and went first, which is going to hurt but this Mission is very centered around going second because you can dictate who controls the center and thus who holds more. All of the Dark Reapers got out and/or moved into position while the Venoms zoomed around, one on the far left and two more centered. The Tantalus also dropped in in the left, just barely in range for Blasters (intentionally).

Between all the guns I lost two tanks, which is quite a blow to my offense. I was also out of range for the Flamers now so I decided to just ignore the Tantalus for a turn, it's a harder to kill target than the Reapers and I'm going to have to fully remove it to make a realistic dent in its offense. On my turn I moved up and started shelling the big Dark Reaper unit so as to make the Psychic Powers less useful, killing a few. I also removed a Venom and the Kabalites in it from the center Objective and killed four Rangers from the unit on the right. My intention was also to be on the center Objective, which I was, but when we went to measure it I was less than a quarter inch out. Herb wouldn't agree that the model had likely gotten bumped so I didn't get the points and made a mental note to establish anything I did from then on but the game definitely took a downturn in my mind.

Turn two the Venoms basically play leap-frog, one going back to the center while the other hides behind the nearby ruins. The Wave Serpent also came up, along with the Tantalus, dropping another two Crawlers between the Guided/Doom'd Reapers and the Tantalus itself. At this point I was getting worried as losing two tanks a turn is not a viable pace for this list but I hadn't been able to do a ton of damage on Turn 1 and my saves were pretty cold.

Bottom of two I decided to get pretty aggressive with my Characters, pushing most of them up into the center just to get extra attacks as it was obvious this is where the action would be. Via Psychic and Shooting I dropped the center Venom and killed 4 of the Kabalites, finished off the Rangers, and reduced the large Reaper unit to ~3 models. I also managed to put ~6 Wounds on the Tantalus with Flamers which should set it up to get finished off next turn. Unfortunately Herb insisted that the last Kabalite was in range of the Objective after Ahriman failed a Charge into it, because of the crater, even though the models position was ambiguous. Continued bad taste in my mouth.

Turn 3 the Aeldari offense is slowing down so Herb decided to go for Characters. The Tantalus zooms up to get close to Slimux, as does the last Venom. At this point I realized I made a huge mistake in not putting the Gnarlmaw down, if my tanks get Charged then I'm probably going to lose because I won't have enough offense next turn. Shooting mostly goes into Slimux, who dies, but the anti-tank shooting sputters and I lose no Crawlers due to denying Doom and the requirement for 4's to Wound kicking in. Herb however does no Charges, which was a gigantic mistake, meaning I can hit back next turn.

At this point I feel like if I don't make a big play I lose. Via Psychic I'm able to finish off the last Venom and the lone Kabalite as well as reduce the Tantalus by one Toughness and put a few more Wounds on it. Mortars take out effectively the last of the Dark Reapers, leaving maybe 2 on the table along with Exarchs. I then finish off the remaining Kabalites except one, again. Finally I charge with two Crawlers, Epidemius, and a Poxbringer into the Tantalus and finish it off. Unfortunately I wasn't able to tie up the units that fell out and only one model died, Herb also held the center again which I couldn't remove him from.

Herb is now going for Characters all out as the score is pretty even but he has the edge in Secondaries because I've had trouble getting Recon done and haven't been able to get at any Characters. All the Blaster Kabalites and the Archon move up to shoot my Chaos Lord, the Wave Serpent also gets on the center Objective as Yvraine and some of the Characters back off (after some hmmm'ing and hawww'ing). Shooting mostly goes into the Chaos Lord, only doing two wounds as the Blasters have a miss parade, and the Exarchs contribute a few Wounds on my Crawlers. Two Kabalite units then Charge the Chaos Lord who takes a wound but cuts three down.

On my Turn I'm playing very fast because there's barely 15 minutes left and I feel behind. I get a Poxbringer to Charge the Kabalites and reinforce the Chaos Lord while Ahriman and my other Characters get ready to Charge whatever they can. Psychic kills the Archon with a 6 Wound Smite and beats up the Wave Serpent a bit which I then finish off along with all the Rangers and the remaining Reaper Exarchs. The last Kabalites who couldn't Charge also get flame'd. Combat kills more of the Kabalites, only leaving three or so.

At this point we have 8 Minutes in the Round so we agree to talk through the game. This is where I had big problems with Herb and honestly label him as a bad sport. To me talking through the game means the remainder of the game, not just one turn, but that's all fine and good. Herb rolled out trying to kill the Chaos Lord in Combat, which failed, and otherwise ran away with his Characters. I rolled out killed a Farseer with Psychic Powers and a combo-Charge from Ahriman, Epidemius, and other Characters, which I did, and then trying to kill Yvraine, which I failed. However Herb pointed out that I didn't have something on the center Objective, which was complete bullshit because I wasn't positioning my models and we were just talking the turn out. I easily had the movement to do this with at least two models who did nothing during the talk through but he wouldn't budge.










Post-Game

In the end I won the game 17-13, which we then figured out was 18-14 as Herb forgot to record that we each had an additional Headhunter point. This was the first competitive game that really left a bad taste in my mouth and I wouldn't voluntarily play Herb again. Besides the issues I raised there was a lot of slow play going on, particularly in the last two turns when he had very few models left and very few decisions to make. There is no reason our game shouldn't have gone six turns, which would have likely resulted in the death of Yvraine and the remaining non-Archon Characters, netting me another 3 Points plus a Recon score.

Overall I made some huge mistakes this game, not dropping the Gnarlmaw being a big one, but I did what I needed to from Turn 3 on. I think letting Slimux get killed was a bad move, if he'd taken some anti-tank shots that would have been one thing but he just died to Poison shooting. It did let me kill the Tantalus which probably won the game but there's really no reason that should have happened. Herb played very poorly, never charging my Vehicles, losing the Tantlus in a bad trade instead of constantly needling me with it at exactly 18", and focusing on my most defensive Character at the end instead of going for one of the demons who just melt to Poison weapons.

I did learn a valuable lesson that some people just deserve no slack. Once the tone of this game was set early I should have been hyper-specific about all of Herb's movements, put a lot of pressure on him to play faster, and just generally gone tit for tat. Normally I play very laid back, I'll allow people to redo things, remind them of rules (which I did numerous times even in this game), and just generally try to be nice about the game. But sometimes that's just not the right thing to do.

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

Tournament Retrospective

Fortunately for me I ended up getting 2nd Place, 1st Place beat me by ~20 Points so the very questionable outcome of my last round didn't cost me anything. The person above me was also playing Plagueburst Crawler Spam and is the person who generally popularized the list online. His road went through two Flyrant Spam armies, which he completely demolished, showing the power of the list. Flyrant Spam is something I've seen brought up a lot as a list that beats Crawlers, it really doesn't as their shooting/combat is worthless against Toughness 8. The army also has to play a ton of Spores which you can easily kill and get to a maximum Tally on Turn 1. Flyrant Spam also gives up a lot of Secondaries but has a hard time getting its own done, it's probably an 80-20 matchup for Crawler Spam.

Overall I'm probably going to continue with the list for Competitive play, it just has all the features you want in that environment. It plays fast, which is a huge deal in the ITC because more turns played gives you more points. It doesn't mind going second or first and counters a lot of the popular lists right now with proper Deployment. Conversely my Cultist list takes a lot time to play and can lose to random jank like someone just taking a load of Inceptors. Crawlers are also frankly safe from the Spring FAQ because no one has placed well with them. The guy who plays in my meta got 13th at LVO and wins a good amount of the local events with it but there's just not enough pilots yet on the national stage to get the attention of Games Workshop. Unfortunately that shows a lack of play-testing on GW's part, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that a Plagueburst Crawler being cheaper than a Bloat Drone or Blight-Hauler is a huge problem with the game as they're strictly better than those models.

I'm certainly going to re-tool my list based on what I learned from the event. While the Gnarlmaw wins some matchups, such as going against Blood Angels, Demon Bomb, etc., it's too niche to justify 215 Points. I'd much rather drop that package and upgrade the Chaos Lord to a Demon Prince as this gives me huge benefits:

* Picking up another melee Character
* Another use for Warptime
* Able to pivot my Relic/Trait choice effectively
* Much more resilient to Mortal Wounds
* Adds to and benefits from the Tally
* Another Psyker which also turns on my third Poxbringer more (Virulent Blessing)
* Helps kill Fliers

Beyond that I'm not sure what to add, I need to see where the meta goes after the FAQ. I'd like something that I can Deep Strike to take out back line shooting and may experiment with some Plaguebearers/Bloodletters. I don't think there's a point to trying to win the mirror match in the list building phase, it sadly comes down to who gets Turn 1 in many situations. Instead I want something that can deal with Tau, Dark Reapers and just generally tie stuff up while being a nuisance. While Bloodletters are generally better they're also a bigger investment and less resilient.

Hopefully I'll get some more games in, I don't know if there's been a slow down locally or what. Fortunately there's a local GT that should attract some players from surrounding states, people like to practice for that kind of stuff.