Tournament Report – Allies of Convenience Open – Part 1


As promised, I went to Wales. It rained pretty much continuously. Classic Wales.

Welcome to my tournament report for the Allies of Convenience open, held at Firestorm Games in Cardiff this past weekend. I previewed the event and my army list last week, so if you want to know about the horrible filth I was packing, you can check that out here. Today we’re going to jump straight into the write up, covering the following for each game.

  • The Competition – Details of my opponent’s army
  • The Mission – Details of mission and deployment
  • The Plan – how I aimed to play out the game and target priorities.
  • The Summary – how the game played out at a high level
  • The Takeaways – points of interest and things I learnt from the game
  • The Score – my score after the game.

Once again there’s a full list document, so I’ve extracted the relevant army lists, but if you want to check out the full set of lists to see what the competition was like (summary – pretty filthy) they’re available here. Lets dive in to my last attempt this year to break through the curse of the 3-2 finish.

Round 1 – Magnus and the Bois

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

+ ARMY FACTIONS USED: Thousand Sons, Questor Traitoris
-Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment: Thousand Sons, (+0 CP) [445pts, 23 PL]
LoW 1: Magnus the Red (445) [445, 23 PL] WARLORD - Lord of Forbiden Lore
,(Pyschic power's , Warp time wc6,Death hex wc8, Weaver of fates wc6, Glamour of Tzeentch wc7)

-Super Heavy Detachment: Renegate Knight (+6 CP) [1550, 80 PL]
LoW 2: Renegade Knight (285), Avenger Gatling Cannon x2 (150), Heavy Flamer x2 (34), Heavy Stuber
(4),Ironstorm missile pod (16) [489, 25 PL] (Character)
LoW 3: Renegade Knight (285), Thermal cannon x2 (152), Heavy Stuber (4),Ironstorm missile pod (16) [457,
25 PL]
LoW 4: Renegade Knight Dominus (500), Plasma Decimator (0), Volcano Lance (10), Shieldbreker missile
x2 (24), Siegebreaker
cannon x2 (70), Twin meltagun x2 (0) [604, 30]

If this looks hauntingly familiar to regular readers that would be because I played against a very similar list at the Glasshammer Open, where I narrowly squeaked a win against almost exactly the same army (with just one weapon swap). Hopefully we’ll be able to improve on that.

The Mission

Frontline Warfare (modified to not restrict objective placement) + Contact Lost, with Spearhead Assault Deployment.

Could be better, could be worse. My main takeaway from the last time around was that I really want Dawn of War deployment in this matchup, as that makes it difficult for Magnus to shield all the knights from Psychic in the case I go first, and allows me to use Phantasm to swing hard away from some of his knights if I go second. I’d also like a progressive scoring mission, but Contact Lost is probably the next best thing given it focuses on camping objectives.

The Plan

Given the deployment map, it’s overwhelmingly likely that Magnus will deploy on the tip of the spear, and at that juncture I want to deploy my stuff highly back-lined so that if I go second and he wants to come and party he at least has to leave his knights well behind – the reason this went south for me last time is that while I went first, I whiffed on killing Magnus and left myself close to the knights, at which point they started mercilessly treading on my infantry, so if I’m starting (presumably) down a few models from shooting I want to make sure I engage Magnus first and the knights only once he’s gone. Once he’s in my lines, I try to gank him as hard as possible, hoping I have enough left to go for the knights afterwards.

If I go first, this list should be better at killing Magnus than the last one was – instead of scourges I have tonnes of splinter fire, which is real good against Magnus before he buffs up thanks to him not having the Titanic keyword. Crimson Hunter Exarchs are also pound-for-pound better than link-fire Fire Prisms against exactly T7 things with Fly. The plan is therefore to Phantasm my two transports and Autarch up the board to attack positions and go for it – the upside of spearhead assault with Magnus on the tip is that I’m less likely to get an immediate stomping if I whiff.

Deployment played out pretty much as expected, and my opponent won the roll off, so we were off on the “going second” plan. I did get to pick my deployment zone as evinced by the extremely helpful raider-hiding giant rock, which thanks to ranges meant there was no way Magnus was charging my characters turn 1. There are also some Kabalites hidden in the building on the left, out of LOS but within 3 of the objective.

Silly giant bird man won’t find us behind this massive rock

The Summary

As expected Magnus buffed up then Warptimed himself forward, and opened hostilities by super smiting the wave serpent on the left in the deployment picture for a cool 7 MWs.

“Oh yes I will”

In the shooting phase I popped Vect on “Trail of Destruction” to stop the Renegade Dominus doing too much damage and that paid off hard – the wave serpent Magnus was now next to got finished off, and the other one took a bit of a beating. This had been an assumed part of my plan though – part of the reason the tactical rock was so helpful was that I had enough relatively expendable infantry in each serpent that if it got blown up I could use the models inside to build a wall between Magnus and the rest of my army, leaving him only able to charge (in this case) guardians while the rest of my army limbered up to try and take him down. Some guardians were duly eviscerated, but all in all this felt like this turn could have gone a lot worse.

On my turn, the plan was duly to move out from my deployment zone as little as possible and try and take Magnus off the board right away. The Crimson Hunters criss-crossed their positions, while the Hemlock did unfortunately have to move forward a bit to maintain line of sight on Magnus. Psychic phase started with a bang, with my Farseer charging up with “Seer Council” and throwing a super smite right back at Magnus for a cool 5MW. Unfortunately, both Doom and Jinx did get denied though, which put the chance of killing the big bird man right on a knife edge.

My entire army duly shot at him, but annoyingly he passed all of his saves against the decent number of lascannon equivalent wounds the CH exarchs put into him, as well as the hemlock. Volleys of shurikens and splinter fire, and the shield off the second serpent (given it was clearly not long for this world) did better, and as the dust settled he was left on a single wound. All the melee elements of my army (the Drukari gank squad, the Banshees, the Autarch and even some Kabalites because any hit could count) duly charged in, but thanks to him interrupting combat and killing the Autarch, he managed to make it through the whole phase unscathed, living on a single wound. I had at least remembered to do the proper next level play of locking Magnus in B2B with the Kabalites and leaving all the valuable characters 1/2 an inch out so that his smite would hit the expendable Kabalites.

He chose to stay in combat with Magnus turn 2, and this time I denied several of his powers (given he was no longer getting a bonus) but he did still land the 3++. The knights got to blow the hemlock up and finish off the second WS. Luckily, in the combat phase the Vexator Mask did its dirty work and forced Magnus to fight last, and this time I managed to sneak a wound in before he got to strike, finishing him off.

That left it time for my counter attack, and happily the next most important target, the Gatling Gun Knight, was also the closest. It learnt a valuable lesson about what happens to wicked giant robots that get Doomed, Jinxed and get a full 20-man guardian bomb dropped on them. Nothing good, is the answer, with it being cut down so hard that I even had some pot-shots from my CH spare to toss at the Melta Knight.

Thinks felt good but this wasn’t over. He had a good turn 3 while mine was a bit disappointing, a Crimson Hunter getting fully cold-cocked by the Volcano Lance and my response being a little ineffectual. However, I did make (what I think was) an extremely good play in carefully using my resources – I needed to get my melee characters into touch with one of the knights to help deal with the fact that I was running out of Alpha units (especially as my guardians were going to get stamped on at some point, but was going to struggle to shield them from shooting. I also needed to defend an objective, as due to KP differential, and the unlikelihood of getting a tabling at this point, I needed every point I could get.

However, I realised that bimbling around in the middle of the board, I had a venom, and if I moved it onto the objective I could move my two characters and a squad of two residual kabalites and embark them all. That guaranteed  that unless I got extremely unlucky and rolled 2+ 1s on a dying transport roll (and I still had some CP for emergencies) I would hold the objective and keep my characters – because you have to declare a whole unit’s shooting at once, his first knight could potentially kill the venom, but then once I disembark I just drop the two kabalites closer to the second knight than the characters, and they wouldn’t be valid targets.

Devious Venom-based trickery

That payed off in spades over the course of turn 4 – he further depleted my forces, including the venom, but couldn’t stop the characters, and in my turn I got doom and jinx onto the Dominus and stripped a bunch of wounds off it with my residual shooting, before putting the gank squad into melee, the Haemoculus denying the overwatch. The Succubus went full Shadow of the Colossus with the Blood Glaive, dealing an outrageous 10 wounds, leaving it near completely crippled.

On his turn 5, he managed to kill the succubus after falling back, but that fight phase sealed it, as he was unable to do quite enough damage elsewhere to threaten to take me off the board, and I was ahead on Maelstrom and was on enough objectives to cancel out the KP difference. His only hope for winning was for the Dominus to somehow limp through turn 5 and the game to continue – as it was I killed it through smite and some last bits of doom-enhanced shooting and the game ended on 5 with a win for me.

The Takeaways

That basically just went really well – pretty much everything I’d changed about the list since last time performed in this game, and I ended up with more points than I did last time I played against the similar list, despite going second rather than first. The character gank squad made their first premier showing, and seeing just how deadly they could be in melee against a knight (that roll was obviously a high roll for the succubus alone, but actually is about right for the Succubus, Haemoculus and Autarch going in against a Doomed, Jinxed knight together) helped shape my tactics for a later game. Finally, the extra infantry helped lock the game up – they gave me just that bit more staying power once I started having things blown off the board, buying my psykers and characters time to get the job done.

Yes, good, more of this sort of thing.

The Score

18-13 VP

13/20 TP

1-0 Match Score

Round 2 – Magnus and Some Different Bois

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

++ ARMY FACTIONS: Thousand Sons ++
+ TOTAL ARMY POINTS: 2,000pts +
== Battalion Detachment == Thousand Sons [34 Power Level] [660 Points] 5 CP
HQ1: Daemon Prince with Wings (170), 2 Malefic Talons (10), Relic: Dark Matter Crystal – [9 PL, 180pts]
WARLORD (High Magister)
HQ2: Daemon Prince with Wings (170), 2 Malefic Talons – [9 PL, 180pts]
Troops1: 30 Tzaangors (210), Bray Horn (10), Tzaangor Blades (0) – [10 PL, 220pts]
Troops2: 10 Cultists (40), Brutal Close Combat Weapons – [3 PL, 40pts]
Troops3: 10 Cultists (40), Brutal Close Combat Weapons – [3 PL, 40pts]
== Outrider Detachment == Thousand Sons [67 Power Level] [895 Points] 1 CP
HQ3: Ahriman on Disc (166) – [9 PL, 166pts]
HQ4: Daemon Prince with Wings (170), 2 Malefic Talons – [9 PL, 180pts]
Elite1: Tzaangor Shaman (82), Force Stave (8) – [5 PL, 90pts]
Fast1: 9 Tzaangor Enlightened (135), 9 Great Bows (18) – [7 PL, 153pts]
Fast2: 9 Tzaangor Enlightened (135), 9 Great Bows (18) – [7 PL, 153pts]
Fast3: 9 Tzaangor Enlightened (135), 9 Great Bows (18) – [7 PL, 153pts]
== Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment == Thousand Sons [23 Power Level] [445 Points] 0 CP
LoW1: Magnus the Red (445) – [23 PL, 445pts]

Again? Really? Ugh, fine. Somebody still hasn’t learnt who the true masters of the Arcane Arts are.

The Mission

Resupply Drop + Deadlock, Vanguard Strike deployment.

The Plan

This should be a better matchup than the previous one simply because unlike in the knight game, when Magnus comes roaring at my lines turn 1 a lot of the rest of his army isn’t doing that much – the bows from the enlightened might pick off some wounds here and there, but nothing on the level of Knight shooting. Worse for him, he has to keep his princes thoroughly screened from my planes, which he can do, but means that his Enlightened units aren’t going to be under the deny umbrella, and I can pick them off with relative ease. As long as I remember to screen from the Tzaangor bomb (which I will do with Phantasm if needed) and manage to kick Magnus out of my lines then I should be good from there.

The Summary

He went first, so I Phatasmed. Note that the serpent positioning makes it hard for Tzaangors to wrap them and gives space between and behind to bail key models out in the worst case. The raider is also angled against a building to make it hard to wrap fully if he doesn’t take the bait of my main force. I honestly could probably have just used a unit of kabalites to screen more, but equally there’s a large degree to which I want the Tzaangor bomb out of the way so I can stop worrying about it, so baiting him to do it T1 isn’t a terrible thing.

All huddled up

As expected, Magnus came out to play.

I’m gonna get you this time meddling space elves!

As expected, he was accompanied by some teleporting Tzaangors.

Behold my new, more avian-themed minons.

Magnus checked in and trashed a wave serpent, while the Tzaangors charged the raider and the other serpent and charged up with Veterans of the Long War. However, neither died on the first swing, and I slammed the Vect button on their double fight.

In my turn I bailed all the passengers out of the live transports, and this time, crucially, landed Doom on Magnus. He again tanked most of the plane shots, but with Doom in he got absolutely shredded by splinter fire and various other  smaller things and died early enough that I still had some shooting spare to throw at the Tzaangors, dropping a good number of them. My gank squad and Archon then rocked in, making sure to spread out and base models such that when he interupted he couldn’t focus enough attacks on any one character to bring them down. The squad then butchered enough Tzaangors that by the time it got to the end of the turn, the remaining 8 fled from morale (not saving them with CP was correct on his part – because of the Vexator mask my gank squad would have gotten to fight first in his turn, at which point there’s a good chance 6-7 die and the last one runs anyway.

With two of his alpha units gone  off the bat for minimal losses for me things looked pretty dire for him, and didn’t get that much better on T2 – his only bright spot being that a hail of smites and some other fire put paid to a CH I’d used to claim “behind enemy lines”.

Pictured – a battlefield containing the correct number of Magnuses

Unmoored from needing to bundle up, my army spread out in both directions to go after an Enlightened unit on both flanks, putting doom into one and jinx into the other, the idea being that I use my relatively reliable flat damage attacks on the jinxed one and everything else on the doomed one. Both units were duly wiped, while in his backlines the guardians were able to warp in and wipe out a squad of cultists that were going for a Defend.

That forced him to send his only real remaining alpha units, the DPs, over to try and clear them out, allowing the rest of my army to mop up the remaining Tzaangors and hold a huge amount of ground for several turns. To add insult to injury, once we’d rolled down to the remaining objectives they were both in my half of the board.

While the guardians were eventually torn messily limb-from-limb by three enraged Daemon Princes (after they killed the second cultist unit) the damage was done – he did just dodge getting tabled, partially thanks to one Tzaangor enlightened tanking an improbable amount of firepower to block one turn of my remaining CH shooting at the princes. In the end he had a single DP left as the game ended on T5.

The Takeaways

Another good game here. One small drawback this time was that, having used them against the Tzaangors, the gank squad didn’t do that much more this game. This is in quite a large part because they kept running towards Enlightened units only to have them cut down by shooting before they could charge. I didn’t really need them, but I did end up one point off max in this game thanks to not getting the table. In future, it might be worth considering advancing them in situations where I’m confident that shooting is going to do the job so that they can get to other, more useful places down the line.

I did also make a small mistake with my setup screening that my opponent didn’t spot – I parsed the building visible in my setup shot as a solid object where it was in fact ruins, so my opponent could have tried probably a 10″ charge against my warlord and warlock. That might not have helped him *that* much, but it’s still something I could have trivially prevented and should have spotted.

The Score

26-8 VP

19/20 TP

2-0 Match Score

Round 3 – Imperium

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

++ ARMY FACTIONS: Astra Militarum, Imperial Knights, Space Wolves ++
+ TOTAL ARMY POINTS: 1,995pts +
==Battalion Detachment== Astra Militarum [40 Power Level] [590 Points] 5CP <Cadian>
HQ1: Company Commander (30), Relic: Relic of Lost Cadia – [2 PL, 30pts] WARLORD (Grand Strategist)
HQ2: Knight Commander Pask (177), Punisher Gatling Cannon (20), Heavy Bolter (8), Heavy Stubber (4) –
[13pl] [209pts]
Troops1: Infantry Squad (40), Sergeant with Laspistol (0) and Chainsword (0), Mortar Team (5) – [3 PL,
Troops2: Infantry Squad (40), Sergeant with Laspistol (0) and Chainsword (0), Mortar Team (5) – [3 PL,
Troops3: Infantry Squad (40), Sergeant with Laspistol (0) and Chainsword (0), Mortar Team (5) – [3 PL,
Heavy1: Basilisk (100), Heavy Bolter (8) – [7 PL, 108pts]
Heavy2: Basilisk (100), Heavy Bolter (8) – [7 PL, 108pts]
==Battalion Detachment== Space Wolves [24 Power Level] [453 Points] 5CP
HQ3: Wolf Lord with Jump Pack (93), Thunder Hammer (21), Storm Shield (15) – [6 PL, 129pts]
HQ4: Wolf Lord with Jump Pack (93), Thunder Hammer (21), Storm Shield (15) – [6 PL, 129pts]
Troops4: Grey Hunters (65), Chainswords (0) – [4 PL, 65pts]
Troops5: Grey Hunters (65), Chainswords (0) – [4 PL, 65pts]
Troops6: Grey Hunters (65), Chainswords (0) – [4 PL, 65pts]
==Super Heavy Detachment== Imperial Knights [48 Power Level] [952 Points] <House Raven>
LoW1: Knight Castellan (510), 2x Shieldbreaker Missiles (2x12=24), 2x Twin Siegebreaker Cannons
(2x35=70) – [30 PL, 604pts]
LoW2: Armiger Helverin (170), Heavy Stubber (4) – [9 PL, 174pts] – (Character: Knight Lance)
LoW3: Armiger Helverin (170), Heavy Stubber (4) – [9 PL, 174pts]

He obviously added Ion Bulwark and Cawl’s Wrath to the Castellan.

The Mission

Scorched Earth + Tactical Escalation, Dawn of War Deployment

A good one for me in the matchup – he really wants a nice big corner to build a castle in, and this deployment doesn’t give him one, and the mission discourages putting objectives in a dep zone you’re going to be in. Tactical escalation also punishes being static, as you want to fan out to score big on later turns and make sure you hit your priority cards when they come up. Basically, everything about this mission and deployment slightly favours the kind of game I want to play.

The Plan

He has several more drops than me so I have a good chance of going first, and once you factor in an assumption that I’ll Vect Order of Companions, even if he does take first turn I can probably suck most of it up, as Basilisks are weak against me and Helverins struggle against prepared positions. With that in mind, the plan is to deploy aggressively and go for the throat – his screening is thin enough when covering DOW (after I made sure to string the objectives all the way down the middle of the board) that I can punch through it pretty much wherever I choose to. I do need to keep a vague eye on the wolf lords, but as long as I don’t let them get my characters (which I can definitely screen for) I don’t really mind them hell-murdering any one thing they choose to go after.

The other notable tactical point is that my Serpent with the Banshees will be making a beeline for wherever the Basilisks are – this is the job the Banshees were born for. I should say that if I go first the plan isn’t to try and kill the Castellan, as if I whiff it’s incredibly bad for me. Instead, I plan to Doom Pask and blow him cleanly off the board, as that will near-definitely stick, and clear out a decent proportion of his screen. Then I go for the kill on the Knight turn 2, presumably get the Banshees into either the Helverins or Basilisks past the now removed screen, and mop up from there.

The Summary

Deployment was as follows:

Basilisks to the left of me…

…Helverins to the right…

I went first and blew Pask apart as planned, while also taking out a guard squad and most of a grey hunter squad.

He did manage to throw me a bit of a curveball by taking out both my Jinx casters turn 1 – I’d mispositioned my Hemlock by a fraction of an inch, and he was able to get the Castellan’s meltas to bear on it, taking it down with help from some other things. He then successfully used a shieldbreaker missile to kill my warlock. The wolf lords also brought the hammer down on a wave serpent.

That left the game a bit more live for him, as killing the Castellan suddenly looked a more challenging prospect. However, it was a chance for the new parts of my list to shine. Over on the left flank, with the screening done the banshees burst from their transport and engaged both Basilisks, pinning one in against the wall. Meanwhile the guardians warped in on the right, collapsing the screen around the Helverins and threatening to lock them into combat the next turn.

In the middle, I doomed the Castellan then put enough shots into it to bait out rotate, then switched targets and used my shooting more profitably elsewhere. I also cleared out the wolf lords with smite and small arms fire. In the fight phase the gank squad and Autarch went into the Castellan and put some serious hurt on it.

At this stage, he needed an exceptional turn to get back in the game and didn’t get it – I Vected Companions again, and the Helverins didn’t achieve too much. My gank squad also got quite lucky on their saves and dodged levels of fire/stomping that should probably have killed at least some of them.

…here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

Once we hit my turn my win was pretty much assured – once I’d put in all my bully charges, his Castellan was going to be his only Alpha unit really able to do anything, and I was on a lot of the progressive objectives. The objective for him was to kill enough of my stuff to deny me max points, and he was helped in this by his Castellan surviving my third turn on a single wound, after which he went full 360 no-scope in the middle of the board, using the mechanicus strat to go to full profile, getting a CP back from that via grand strat and using Order of Companions with the 3CP he then had remaining. This did an impressive amount of damage to my remaining forces, but the knight itself died in the process, due to my opponent taking the (fully acknowledged, he was just going for maximising his kills here) risk of overcharging Cawl’s at a thing with -1 to hit.

We then had to find out if I could table his remaining stuff in 2 turns, and I pulled it off. The Banshees eventually finished off the Basilisk they’d been plinking at for ages, and my succubus destroyed the other one and then moved on to the company commander who had been sheltering desperately behind it. The last holdouts were a squad of Grey hunters on the far right of the table, who made impressive account of themselves – first my archon walked up, they completely tanked his husk blade then ripped him to shreds with chainswords. They then shrugged off hails of Shurikens, nearly killed my autarch on the charge with a well placed Krak grenade, and in the end died exactly to laser lance attacks at the end of my turn 5.

The Takeaways

Again the huge value in having an actual melee threat in my army was showcased to the max here – it means that if I find myself up against a Castellan with access to a 3++ I can’t stop I have another way to put some hurt on it. More units again helped – according to my score notes, I never scored fewer than 3 points from EW in a turn, and scored the full 6 on multiple turns. It also again helped with closing out the game with an early lead – unlike my older armies, if this one gets ahead it’s incredibly difficult for your opponent to get a lucky punch back and table it because there are just too many little things that need killing.

I do need to do better at remembering the underslung meltas on the Castellan – I consistently forget they exist, and this isn’t the first match where I’ve been badly caught out by them.

Picking a target that wasn’t the Castellan turn 1 was a good call – shoot what you can kill is a good mantra, and while my army has plenty of dakka, it really needs to have closed range a bit before killing a Castellan in a single turn is a realistic prospect. That does leave me vulnerable to losing both my Jinx casters though, which is certainly food for thought.

The Score

35-8 VP (I don’t think this includes KP but I don’t have that down)

20/20 TP

3-0 Match Score

Day 1 Wrap Up

This is it – we’re doing it! 3-0 after day one, and while it isn’t necessarily good for my final placing, being down a few points puts me probably in with a better chance of hitting my 4-1 goal, because I’m less likely to face either of the hideous Talos spam lists that are my toughest matchup in the event. Join me later in the week to find out if the curse was finally broken or not!