Boon’s Road to LVO

Well dear reader, it’s nearly the end of the road on another year in the ITC. LVO looms tall and with the curtain falling on the season it’s time to look back at the year past and see how we got here. The year prior was a busy one, capstoned by a strong 5-0 run at last year’s LVO before narrowly falling in round six to the eventual runner-up Matt Lorah (Custodes). I had spent much of that year on Drukhari, but with the advent of 2022 and the release of the Aeldari codex, my true love of Craftworlds was back in a big way. Accordingly, this year’s campaign was spent doing cool, puritan elf shit across a total of 15 ranked events locally, regionally, and internationally.

Using the handy-dandy Tabletop Battles app to keep track, I racked up a combined 74-13-1 record with Craftworlds. For much of the year Art of War had my number having notched four of my total losses by the likes of John Lennon, Nick Nanavati, and Andrew Gonyo. Local champion Ben Cherwien also registered several wins into me and accounting for three of his own. Another four losses came from local and regional top players including Charlie Andre, Tim Doran, Connor Haugen, and Dan Sammons. My final two came in the same event – GW San Diego, where ultimately, I’d qualify for the Best Overall and a ticket to my second GW Finale. Both Mark Ferek and Hogan Franklin upended an otherwise top bracket run there.

Overall it was a season of high-highs and low-lows. There was the come-from-behind victory at the GW US Open Finale to win Best Overall against some absolutely punishing (and lovely/lovingly painted) competition. Then there was an undefeated run at the second annual Iowaaagh, and a sixth-place finish at this past year’s Adepticon. However, there was also the tough times – a red-card at Dallas for the infamous display board-gate and a drop from the London GT following a 0-0 game decision, having stood up for myself against an individual attempting to bully his way out of a loss.

On the year, I won some big games, lost some big games, saw the best of the community, saw the worst of the community, made some mistakes, learned some lessons, and had some fun along the way. I met some new people, reconnected with those I’d met previously, and overall had a great time hanging out with friends and slamming hams. So on to LVO we go.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The List

Getting ready for the event I was pretty sure I was going to run something a different and bring the big boy Avatar, a Webway Gate, and some Phoenix Lords. However, Games Workshop had other plans for me and decided that the D-Scythes must pay for their crimes. They stand falsely accused but nevertheless their days are numbered, and so I must give them their final send off.

James' Ulthwe - click to expand

Battalion Detachment

Ulthwe: Foresight of the Damned

No Force Org Slot

Seer Council (40pts)

2x Warlock

-Protect/Jinx, Seer Council

Seer Council (60)

Warlock Skyrunner



Baharroth (160pts)

Eldrad Ulthran (145)

-Guide, Fortune, Will of Asuryan, Fate Reader, Seer Council

Farseer Skyrunner (125)

-Fateful Divergence, Executioner, Doom, The Ghosthelm of Alishazier


Rangers (75)

-5x Ranger w/ Wireweave Net

Rangers (65)

.-5x Ranger

Rangers (65)

-5x Ranger


Howling Banshees (110)

-4x Howling Banshee

-Howling Banshee Exarch w/ Mirror Swords & Piercing Strikes

Striking Scorpions (110)

-4x Striking Scorpion

-Striking Scorpion Exarch w/ Biting Blade & Crushing Blows

Wraithguard (270)

-6x Wraithguard with D-Scythes

Fast Attack

Shining Spears (125)

-Exarch w/ Paragon Sabre, Heartstrike

Shroud Runners (105)

-3x Shroud Runner

Vyper Jetbike (55)

-Bright Lance

Heavy Support

Support Weapons (195)

-3x Support Weapon w/ D-Cannon

-2x Support Weapon w/ D-Cannon

Dedicated Transport

Wave Serpent (165) w/ Bright Lances

The list by this point is a classic. I still like it because it remains very flexible into a wide array of armies and brings a lot of problem-solving tools to the table. The D-Cannons create large zones of area denial, can cover objectives to balance Craftworld struggles on primary, and facilitates powerful Forewarning defense. While the second squad isn’t as hard-hitting it’s also used a little bit more disposably than the larger, 3-gun unit, able to move forward and press if I need too. My signature block of D-Scythes, doomed as they are, remains as flexible as ever out of deep-strike and keeps my opponent honest in their attempt to sprint into my lines. Everything else acts as utility pieces, pressing objectives, picking off units on the edges, and scoring. It’s a well rounded and fun army to play, very reliable in what it wants to do, and I’ve enjoyed playing it immensely over the past few months.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

 The Meta

I’m not going to lie; it’s not looking great out there for Craftworlds. LVO will be using the Nephilim rules pre-dataslate, pre-Arks, pre-Munitorum Field Manual. Craftworlds really struggled in that game outside of Ynnari (which I don’t really count as Craftworlds) generally pulling sub-50% win rates in a meta that was still led by factions approaching 60%. In order of most terrifying to least; Thousands Sons with Flamers, Anything with Flamers, Flamers, Harlequins, Tyranids (particularly Kraken), and Tau.  All create plenty of issues for a Craftworlds player who, realistically, simply needs to make fewer mistakes or get luckier in order to pull out a win because the dynamics of these factions don’t offer much in the way of advantages. The Tau matchup is purely a game of who went first. On player-placed terrain layouts, which often leaves monstrous fire lanes, the mobility of the Tau means that going second I’ll end up losing 400-600 points before I even get to move. Kraken and Harlequins are able to stay out of my range while keeping me off the primary before rushing in for the kill, and Flamers are Flamers. They’re a unit so tailor made to killing elves that I’d say it’s not fair but who cares. They’re one of GW’s most recent galaxy-brain inclusions and I’m very glad that they’ve at least been addressed moving forward.

I do not have high hopes here. I can likely gut out wins against bad matchups in earlier rounds by simply outplaying my opponents. But as the field tightens and some of the meta armies rise to the top I’ll inevitably pair into one. I can always hope to go first into some, or get lucky into others, but that’s no way to gameplan. Instead, I’m resigned to the fact that at the end of the day I’ll play my army the best I can, I’ll take the circumstances as they come and adjust accordingly, and if I win, I win. If I lose, I lose. I’d say 6-0 is my goal, but it’ll just depend on the circumstances of the matchups and 4-2 isn’t out of scope. LVO has not been kind to me in the past – last year I played into three Crusher Tyranids, a Custodes, a Thick City mirror, and one of the best players in the game on Grey Knights. The year before that, it was Iron Hands Broviathan lists and Raven Guard. So, I just assume that I’m going to hit every hard matchup I can, and we’ll see where it takes me. The excellent news is that I’ll get to hang out with friends while doing it, and that’s what it makes it fun.

And if nothing else, I’ll get some burnt and expensive coffee, a soggy, flavorless breakfast burrito doused in hot sauce like I’m back in the Navy, and a total lack of sleep before I go back to work on Monday. The Packers did me a solid this year and made sure I wouldn’t have to rush down to the sportsbook and watch them lose in embarrassing fashion again. So, I’ve got that going for me.