Episode 80: See That Knight? Imma Kick It (Imperium vs. Imperium)

Missed my previous posts? Check them out below!


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As an occasionally proud American I spent my 4th of July the way the Founding Fathers intended, rolling dice to find out if miniature warriors from the fictitious future do stuff. True to my recently posted Battle Report I made some tweaks to my list that I'm going to go over BEFORE the game, feel free to skip it if you don't care.

As I've been running a Patrol Detachment to fit in Vertus Praetors I added the Vexillus Praetor back in. The guy is pretty tough, in some matchups he can keep my Guardsmen/Devastators alive a little longer, and with an axe he's a very good fighter. I also want to be able to make use of Vexilla Teleport Homer in certain matchups, such as against Knights, so having that delivery option is very worthwhile. I also added another guy to the Custodian Guard, they've proven themselves to be a Bullgryn type unit to me that can operate without support while having Objective Secured. This makes the Patrol much more tolerable, I don't get Command Points but I'm paying no tax as everyone contributes. I also pumped another Vertus Praetor into the unit for a total of five.

My Blood Angels also changed slightly as I swapped a Smash Captain for a Librarian Dreadnought. Normally I don't think these are very good but the focus of my list is adding anti-Vehicle/Monster. The Dreadnought has S10/12 which means with Red Thirst it's wounding on 2's even against T8. The Force Halberd is also AP4, cutting through almost every Armor Save those targets have, and does a flat 3 Damage. Having only three Attacks is sad but with Quickening you can average five, and then put Red Rampage on top of that. The reliance on Psychic Powers, lack of shooting, and lack of Invulnerable are the problems. However in my list he replaced a Smash Captain and Primaris Psyker, each not known for their shooting. While the Smash Captain has a 3+ Invulnerable he often gets gunned down by small arms fire whereas the Dreadnought isn't weak to that, both being survivable against different things. Finally armies have been cutting Psykers with the exception of Ynaari/Eldar and Tyranids which I already feel favored against so I'm okay with that weakness for now. If only the Dreadnought could use Honor the Chapter.....

As a final small change I moved my Imperial Guard to Tallarn. This is solely to access the Ambush Stratagem if I'm against a Dominus Knight and feel like the game may hinge on keeping my Warlord alive. I don't expect this to happen often as the Dominus Knights aren't quite as popular and it would also depend on the Mission/List Composition that I was facing. Still I like the option and the Guard Regiment is overall irrelevant to the army.

So far this is the best I've felt about a list since switching to Imperium, both in style of play and in regards to Missions. I don't expect it to last long as Grand Strategist is almost certainly taking a bat to knee in the next Big FAQ and Shield-Captains on Jetbikes are likely taking a hit in the FAQ or Chapter Approved. It's also rumored the ITC Missions are being changed in July/August but for now I'm reasonably content. The Librarian Dreadnought is likely my lone "eh" inclusion but I'll know more after testing. Anyways, onto the game!

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For this game I was against Jacob, a local who I've played once or twice. He's migrated a bit in 8th Edition as he started with Tyranids, then moved to Custodes, and now to Knights. I was specifically looking for games against a Knight heavy army as that's a huge focal point of my testing and Jacob didn't disappoint. It's also clear he's not someone who wants to be bothered painting a lot of models, something that's also near and dear to my heart.



Imperium (Me)

Patrol Detachment - Adeptus Custodes

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Auric Aquilis)
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Eagle's Eye)

Vexillus Praetor w/ Castellan Axe

4 Custodian Guard, 1 w/ Sentinel Blade and Storm Shield

5 Vertus Praetors

Battalion Detachment - Blood Angels

Librarian Dreadnought (Quickening, Wings of Sanguinius)
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield (The Angel's Wings)
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

5 Scouts
5 Scouts
5 Scouts

5 Devastators w/ Heavy Bolter, Missile Launcher, Armorium Cherub

Battalion Detachment - Imperial Guard (Tallarn)

Company Commander [Warlord - Grand Strategist] (Kurov's Aquila)
Primaris Psyker (Psychic Maelstrom, Nightshroud)

Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad
Infantry Squad

Imperium - Jacob

Supreme Command Detachment - Adeptus Custodes

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Auric Aquilis)
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Eagle's Eye)

Battalion Detachment - Imperial Guard (Cadian)

Company Commander [Warlord - Grand Strategist]
Company Commander (Kurov's Aquila)

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

Super-Heavy Detachment - Imperial Knights (Hawkshroud)

Knight Gallant [Landstrider] (Sanctuary)
Knight Warden (Endless Fury)
Knight Crusader w/ Stormspear Rocket Pod [Ion Bulwark]



Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #2
Vanguard Strike

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

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

Terrain was a tad heavier than I normally do, I got a few complaints in the tournament that I ran saying the Line of Sight blocking was a bit sparse. I don't think it's a good idea to let people hide their entire army but a bit more Cover was probably due. I've also been favoring Craters as less intrusive Terrain, it still plays a role but it's not splitting up the table more.

Since Jacob has so many drops I wanted to make sure I knew where his guns were before I put down my important units. The goal was to cut off as much shooting as I could on Turn 1 with Knights not being the most maneuverable models. With that in mind I started with the Scouts, putting two units in the central building and one off to the side but near my army. In hindsight I should have put all three in the building, more than 1" from the walls to prevent Jacob from doing much of anything to them.

Jacob responded by starting with his Guard, putting everything in the back of his corner and on his Objective. I put down some Guard as well, tucking them behind my Ruins, and put the Custodian Guard in with the bulk of the Scouts. So far the game felt like we might have a brawl in the center so access to Objective Secured there would be a big help if I ended up going first. Jacob moved on to his Shield-Captains, keeping them mostly clustered in the middle. I finished my Guard, not being able to hide all of it as I had to prioritize covering the Devastators.

Finally the Knights came down, again mostly in the center. Once I saw one I started dumping Characters up as far as I could, screened by the Scouts and Custodian Guard, with the Librarian Dreadnought and Vexillus further back. The Dreadnought has a good threat range so there's no need to toss him out just yet and the 5++ would be useful in saving some of the Guard and possibly stopping First Strike if I went second. I can also just Advance with the Vexillus to setup the Deep Strike for my Praetors, who went in Deep Strike. Overall I was able to hide all my important units while Jacob would either have to bring his Knights to me one at a time or move around buildings.

I won the roll to go first and after a lot of consideration gave the turn to Jacob. Having second turn in this Mission is very valuable because there are so few Objectives and I wasn't going to get anything done on Turn 1. If Jacob moves up then I can start getting my melee pieces into position, if he doesn't move up then I can hide my entire army and play for Turn 2, hitting where I want. In hindsight I should have taken Kingslayer on one of the Knights instead of Old School, it's much easier to achieve. But that's why we test isn't it?







Imperium Turn 1 - Jacob

True to the aggressive nature of Jacob's army he moved almost everything forward, the Warden going left and the Gallant going right around the building. All the Guardsmen stayed put, hiding behind Ruins, while the Crusader shuffled just a bit to get some Line of Sight on Guardsmen. All the Shield-Captains also came up the board, favoring the left, with one staying behind the Ruins on Jacob's side.

Shooting was very minimal with the Gallant doing nothing to the Scouts via its Heavy Stubber. The Crusader did manage to kill three Guardsmen with the Gatling Cannon but the other guns were out of range. I passed my Morale Check having successfully denied giving up First Strike and Kill Something, a solid start to the game.
Score
1-0 for Jacob





Imperium Turn 1 - Me

After some pre-measuring it was clear I could get a lot of my models into Combat with the Warden and some of the Shield-Captains. Both my Shield-Captains, the Blood Angel Captains, and the Custodian Guard moved to the center to prepare for those charges. I shuffled the Scouts a bit to hide the unit that was more in the open, I also moved the Librarian Dreadnought and Primaris Psyker up to Smite in future turns. Overall I had these models too far back and should have deployed more aggressively. The Vexillus shuffled a bit but he wasn't going to have too far to move in future turns.

In the Psychic Phase I got both Quickening and Wings of Sanguinius on the Librarian Dreadnought, moving him into my central Ruins. He was going to need a pretty long Charge to help out with the Warden, around 11" even with his buff, so I wrote him off for the moment. I failed to cast Nightshroud on the exposed Guardsmen.

Shooting was minimal as usual for my army. I did a wound to Warden with a lot of Hurricane Bolters, being unable to put them into the Shield-Captains. My Devastators also had Line of Sight issues because of the Ruins so they were no use. Moving to Charges I put the Relic Captain into the Warden, avoiding Overwatch, and he was joined by the other Captain. Both Shield-Captains were able to Charge the Knight and the non-Relic Shield-Captain, finally the Custodian Guard moved to help with the Knight and one of the Relic Shield-Captains.

I started with the Relic Captain, knowing it was extremely likely that Jacob would interrupt me. Red Rampage netted an additional two attacks and with re-rolls I was able to put six saves on the Warden. Unfortunately Jacob passed three of them without any re-rolls. Jacob did Counter-Attack, going with the Titanic Feet and putting four attacks into each Captain and the Custodian Guard. This only netted a wound on the Custodian Guard and three wounds on the non-Relic Captain. Jacob also forgot to use With the other Captain and Custodian Guard I chipped more wounds off the Knight. Both of my Shield-Captains went into Jacob's but he made every single save, completely bouncing me. Fortunately both of Jacob's Shield-Captains also bounced, I then finished the Warden off with Honor the Chapter. Jacob attempted to make it Explode via Noble Sacrifice but the Knight instead just slumped over.

Score
8-1 for Me




Imperium Turn 2 - Jacob

True to what I expected it was clear that the game was going to be decided by a big brawl in the center. Jacob Fell Back with both of his Shield-Captains in combat, the other zooming into the fray from over the building. True to their roles the Guardsmen stayed put and the Crusader shuffled a bit to get shooting angles but stayed out of the combat zone.

Shooting gunned down two of my Custodian Guard via the Crusader, one of my Shield-Captains was also wounded but survived thanks to a re-roll. Two Scouts went down to the Guardsmen Mortars but everything else bounced off as S4 shots into 2+ Saves don't often yield much.

The Gallant Charged my Relic Captain and Custodian Guard with the Shield-Captain who was available getting into my Shield-Captains (Man it is annoying to keep all this straight!) I was barely able to Heroically Intervene with my other Captain, getting me some valuable attacks into the Knight. Combat was a mixed bag, Jacob once again spread out his stomps onto both Captains and the Custodian Guard, not killing anything as the Storm Shields held. Jacob then forgot the timing on Death Grip, moving to his Shield-Captain which poked mine down to one wound.

Answering back my Blood Angels and Custodians were able to chip a few wounds off the Gallant but his 5+ Invulnerable held tough. Both my Shield-Captains managed to put down Jacob's, although via Even In Death... he was able to finish off my one wound Character.

Score
9-5 for Me




Imperium Turn 2 - Me

With everything in the center I knew this would be my deciding turn. I had more left alive than I should have due to some good Saves and Jacob not using Death Grip so I wanted to make the most of it. The remaining Shield-Captain moved to Charge whatever I needed, the Librarian Dreadnough poked out as well. My bottom Scouts moved up to try a go on the Knight as they can wound on 5's. The Vexilus Advanced to get the Praetors in range when they came down, I had an unfailable Charge by using the buildings but I wanted to get in the habit of thinking about Vexilla Teleport Homer. Finally the Primaris Psyker Advanced and the Devastators walked, both trying to contribute.

In the Psychic Phase I landed a Smite on the Shield-Captain for a wound, the Librarian Dreadnought also go both of its powers, putting it right where I needed. Shooting was minimal as my normal guns did nothing but Flakk Missile with the Armorium Cherub did 5 wounds to the Shield-Captain, leaving him barely standing. With better Praetor positioning I could have likely dumped Hurricane Bolters into him and maybe finished him off.

For Charges everything but my Shield-Captain got into the Knight, the Librarian Dreadnought and Praetors tagging the damaged Shield-Captain as well. My Dreadnought took 2 wounds from Overwatch on the Shield-Captains. I started with the Dreadnought, getting 7 Attacks via Quickening and Red Rampage. With that I was able to drop the Gallant to barely any wounds remaining although Jacob still used Counter-Attack. Once again the Storm Shields held as Jacob had a less than stellar roll. I was then able to finish the Gallant with a Smash Captain, which Jacob answered with Noble Sacrifice, causing it to Explode. This killed my Dreadnought, 3 Scouts, both Smash Captains, Jacob's Shield Captains, a Praetor, a Custodian, and dropping my Shield-Captain to barely any wounds.

Score
16-9 for Me





Imperium Turn 3 - Jacob

While Jacob's army was in tatters mine was too and I was running low on models that can put meaningful damage into a Knight. The Warden trudged forward, hoping to wipe out its opposition. At this point Jacob had maxed out Headhunter and would have a hard time with Recon, having six units on the table. Unless my Praetors got completely mauled, which was unlikely because the Crusader would have to shoot the units in its way and then roll very well in Combat, I could fly away and cut down some Guardsmen to remove that as an option. From there I could also hide the majority of my army continuously, so my mind was on playing for the win.

Shooting largely went into the Praetors, killing two more while the Shield-Captain took a few pot shots but survived. My small Scout units also got wiped by Mortars from the almost forgotten Guardsmen. The Crusader then crashed in on the Shield-Captain and Custodian Guard, killing the Shield-Captain but taking a few wounds back.

Score
16-11 for Me





Imperium Turn 3 - Me

With nothing left but to try and kill the Crusader I moved the Praetors into position along with the Vexilus. I should have also pulled the remaining Scouts out as they can chip in for a wound or two, I just wasn't thinking about that.

My remaining Psyker did 2 wounds with Psychic Maelstrom while shooting did nothing because the Knight was tied up. All my Charges went off, starting with the Praetors who did a lot of damage thanks to great damage rolls. Jacob once again Counter-Attack'd, killing two of the Praetors as I'd reduced him a profile, making it unlikely to kill the Vexilus with me having access to re-rolls and still being able to fight with him if he died. The Vexilus and Custodian then finished the Crusader off which did not Explode as Jacob used his last Command Point to try and re-roll it.

Score
19-12 for Me





Remaining Turns

With all of Jacob's important models dead the game was decided but we played on for fun. The game went six turns with me tabling at the bottom of Turn 6. I started moving my Guardsmen up the board as the Custodes went after what Jacob had left, eventually getting into combat. My last Custodian finished the game with 2 wounds, as did the Vexilus. On Turn 6 my Guardsmen got into the combat but helped very little, one unit stayed home to keep my Objective so the Company Commander could use Move, Move, Move and cross the board faster. Overall nothing exciting happened on the remaining three turns, just the occasional cheer when a Guardsmen did a wound to a Custodes from both me and Jacob.

Final Score
31-15 for Me









Post-Game Thoughts

Gonna have a lot to say here, I'll start with my army and how it performed. My list is clearly cheating towards killing big targets and I was able to get that done very effectively. I'm able to leverage more resources than I should need into a big target which was key to me killing the Warden on Turn 1, overkill seems to be the way to go right now. I do feel like I need more Mortal Wounds to handle Custodes but there's not really anywhere to get more of them and I should be able to drop a Shield-Captain a turn with what I have and smart play. Mixing Custodes with Knights is also probably the only combination where I can't get to them early because I am not shooting a Knight down.

I made a few Deployment mistakes such as compromising the Devastators Line of Sight, not hiding more Scouts, and putting the Librarian Dreadnought too far back. The Devastators should have deployed very far up and been circled by the Scouts to prevent Shield-Captain interference, that would have leveraged my advantage on knowing what Jacob could and couldn't get Line of Sight to on Turn 1. Putting the Psykers further up would have softened the Warden or the Shield-Captain depending on what I needed, getting me more value from those pieces. I'd likely have to defend the Primaris Psyker with Scouts but that's what they're there for. As far as my decisions during the game I feel pretty good about all of them, I just always made sure to dedicate as much force as I could when something had to die, that seemed to work out.

Jacob's list is extremely good, previously he did not have the Shield-Captains but they add much needed speed and Objective Secured to the list. Knights are prone to getting bogged down and are often lighter on anti-infantry shooting, Shield-Captains smooth that out and also open up Recon as a Secondary Objective. Knights give up a lot of Secondaries but aren't the best at recouping them into armies optimized for ITC play.

I think the decisions made on Turns 1 and 2 solidified the game for me even though my dice were cold and Jacob's were hot. Putting the Shield-Captains so far up let me tag them in combat, making them less of a threat without their re-roll. Most of the time I would have also killed the non-Relic Shield-Captain, holding those models back would have been the better play. Jacob's army out-shoots me but I out-fight him so he could have leveraged that more, coming in on Turn 2 and doing heavy damage. As it was two of the Shield-Captains were useless when he needed them the most. Playing that out I would have also held back, still killing the Warden, and then things get messier.

I don't fault Jacob for coming in with at least one Knight, with the terrain I can hide and I out-threat him when it comes to Charges because of favorable terrain interactions (FLY versus no FLY). I'm also much better off with my Secondaries (even having picked on incorrectly) so if the game becomes a stalemate until late then I'd likely still win. Hopefully this illustrates how Knights can be abused on tables with a correct amount of Terrain, don't play on open fields!

As for Knight compositions, I think Jacob's list is close to optimized. Gallants are completely insane and the Errant is probably second best. I don't much care for the Crusaders, the Battle Cannon is a very hit and miss weapon and they're horrendously expensive. I'd rather take a Castellan if you want backline support or just another Errant. D3 Damage just isn't sexy to me and that's on top of random shots in a Faction where every Command Point is precious. The Guardsmen could probably drop some Mortars, or all of them as no one is ever going to take The Reaper anyways and a Primaris Psyker would provide much needed Deny the Witch. I expect the Guardsmen and Shield-Captains to be staples until they both get nerfed soon, which is good because everyone in on Imperium is playing some mix of Blood Angels, Guard, Custodes, and Knights right now. Anything else feels sub-optimal. Once Shield-Captains creep up to ~190 and some combination of Grand Strategist/Kurov's Aquila gets nerfed then things will open up again. I also expect Knights will get nerfed a bit, especially the Gallant.

So far I feel good about playing into Knights which is good because they're everywhere. I'm trying to get more games against Tau, there's still no viable answer for Riptides that I have access to but with Knights being ascendant people seem to be massing Fire Warriors or Hammerheads. If that's the way their builds get pushed then Tau becomes much less of a threat for me. Ynaari also seems questionable but I don't know what they do against Knights, Dark Reapers don't kill one even with a full unit and all the buffs/debuffs and they die the second they pop their heads out. Shining Spears are worse than that while Disintegrators/Blasters rely on going first (so no Doom) and have other issues.

Overall I think the meta is very good for me right now, I can handle the big threat in the game and the changes from everyone else make their armies worse against mine. Of course my list will still have plenty of obstacles but it's in a good place for now, we'll see what changes may come in the next four months. Thanks for reading!

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