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

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

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



Imperium

Battalion - Imperial Guard - Catachans

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

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

Battalion - Blood Angels

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

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

5 Scouts
5 Scouts
5 Scouts

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

Patrol - Adeptus Custodes

Shield-Captain on Jetbike
Shield-Captain on Jetbike

Custodian Guard w/ 1 Sentinel Blade and Storm Shield

4 Vertus Praetors

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

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







Round 2 - Versus Mixed Imperium

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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








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

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

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

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

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

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








Round 3 - Versus Harlequins

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

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

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







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

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

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


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

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

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









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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Tournament Wrapup

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

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

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

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



Army List

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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