Competitive Innovations in the Mortal Realms: Analysing Armies in Aqshy

Oh my Nagash, dear readers, it is so damn hot right now as I write this. The UK is going through a heatwave that many in the US or Australia would smirk at and call us ‘filthy casuals’ for, which is fair! But consider that the UK has heavily insulated homes for energy efficiency purposes that are simply not designed for this kind of heat, and a not insignificant portion of the populace may not have even heard of Air Conditioners, let alone own one. Spare a thought for your snobbish friends across the pond.

Texas Masters Grand Tournament

32-player, 5-round Grand Tournament in Waco, TX, US on July 16 2022. All the lists for this event can be found in Best Coast Pairings.Please note that the event was using the 2021 GHB AND Warcoda so uhhh, time to swap out hats for a moment.

The Showdown

Bonesplitterz vs Maggotkin of Nurgle – Focal Points (Warcoda Battleplan)

Bonesplitterz – Thomas zhennann Guan – Double Wurgogg gives some ranged punch, approximately 5000 Big Stabbaz provide the melee crunch.

Thomas' List - Click to Expand

Army Faction: Orruk Warclans
– Army Type: Bonesplitterz
– Army Subfaction: Drakkfoot
– Grand Strategy: Get Dem Bones!
– Triumphs: Inspired

LEADER
Wurrgog Prophet (150)*
– Artefacts: Glowin’ Tattooz
– Spells: Gorkamorka’s War Cry
Wurrgog Prophet (150)*
– Artefacts: Mork’s Boney Bitz
– Spells: Gorkamorka’s War Cry
Savage Big Boss (65)*
– General
– Command Traits: Great Hunter

BATTLELINE
Savage Orruk Morboys (155)**
Savage Orruk Morboys (155)**
Savage Orruks (165) **

ENDLESS SPELL
The Burning Head (20)

OTHER
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)
Savage Big Stabbas (80)*

CORE BATTALIONS:
*Warlord
**Hunters of heartland

TOTAL POINTS: (1980/2000)

Maggotkin of Nurgle – James West – Glotkinn, Bloab and 20 Blightkings.

James' List - Click to Expand
Allegiance: Maggotkin of Nurgle
– Subfaction: Blessed Sons
– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
– Triumphs: Indomitable

Leaders
The Glottkin (700)
– Lore of Malignance: Rancid Visitations
Bloab Rotspawned (300)
– General
– Lore of Malignance: Plague Squall

Battleline
10 x Putrid Blightkings (500)*
– Reinforced x 1
5 x Putrid Blightkings (250)*
5 x Putrid Blightkings (250)*

Core Battalions
*Hunters of the Heartlands
Total: 2000 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 1 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 113
Drops: 5

Thoughts

Well let’s start with probably the single most impactful rule in this matchup: Drakkfoot‘s Strength of Purpose, which shuts off wards for attacks made by all of Thomas’ Orruks. This means that one of the greatest strengths of the Nurgle army – it’s 5+ ward from Disgustingly Resilient, is negated for most of the damage the BS army will be doing. It’s hard not to state how brutal this is for James, whose Blightkings are now effectively large fleshy bags that burst like Pinatas when they get near those deadly Big Stabbas. James’ gameplan typically is to use the Glottkin’s Blightkrieg ability to countercharge with the Glottkin and one of the big units of Blightkings or Bloab Rotspawned, which can help mitigate some of the issues of having so few units by allowing him to effectively dictate combats on both his and his opponent’s turn. This will be vital when dealing with the sheer number of MSU Big Stabba units there are. Another point his favour is the battleplan, which rewards a central board slaughter as both sides are hoping to push straight up the gut and get to their opponent’s objective on the opposite corner for big points.

Result

*Record Scratch* DRAW (Go watch the match on Twitch, it’s a fun one)

Big Stabbas by Matt “chimp” Ward

Thomas zhennann Guan – Bonesplitterz – First Place (on overall tournament points)

Thomas’ List – See Above

Why it’s Interesting

It’s a solid board control list that’s putting a ton of wounds on the table for starters. While Bonesplitterz lists lack widespread access to high quality rend, the Big Stabbaz come with rend 2 and you can put a ton of them down on the table. That high quality attack profile combined with the Drakfoot’s subfaction ability as mentioned above allows them to fight very well into the heavy Nurgle meta that was evident late in last season, as well as other popular picks like Idoneth Deepkin, Daughters of Nurgle or Nighthaunt, all of whom gain incremental advantages from their ward saves to boost durability. It’s a fairly straight forward board control list that trades well thanks to it’s MSU nature and can get up the board quickly thanks to a pregame move of 8″ afforded to them by the command trait Great Hunter. I’ve got this far and I’ve not even mentioned Wurgogg Prophets! He has two of them! They’re amazing!

James West – Maggotkin of Nurgle – Second Place

James’ List – See Above

Why it’s Interesting

By opting out of any and all fly based shenanigans, James’ list would normally give up a great deal of mobility. However, Blightkrieg is a great boon in getting what is typically a very slow unit in the Blightkings across the board quickly. On James’ turn he can run with them, maybe even burn a CP to ensure its a 6 to hurtle 10″ up the board. Now normally this would mean they can’t charge right? Well yes, but you just do it on their opponent’s turn. The Blightkings themselves might not be as in fashion as their cavalry brethren, but they are still a very efficient unit that can take up a large amount of space and do respectable damage to any enemy in the game.

The Rest of the Best

The rest of the top 8:

  • 3rd – Dmitri Hochard – Idoneth Deepkin: Just a really balanced mixed arms Nautilar list anchored by 40 Thralls and a Turtle.
  • 4th – Benjamin Richardson – Ossiarch Bonereapers: Ben takes advantage of the Soulmason points drops with an endless spell heavy list which supports 60 Mortek Guard and 2 Crawlers.
  • 5th – Andrew Fornea – Seraphon: Thunder lizards good stuff with Saurus Cav acting as the disposable screens.
  • 6th – Alex Brokenshire – Idoneth Deepkin: A Mor’Phann list centred around 30 Thralls with requisite buff heroes and a Sea Eidolon to cast Purple Sun.
  • 7th – Chris Creech – Soulblight Gravelords: Mixed arms Kastelai that doesn’t opt for many expensive heroes (just Vhordrai because ya gotta) and thus manages to cram in 20 Dire wolves, 10 Blood Knights, 40 Zombies *AND* 20 Graveguard. Oh I’m just kidding he also brought a Vengorian Lord.
  • 8th – Taran Huffman – Lumineth Realm Lords: Syar Warden spam backed up by Sevireth and Teclis himself with a spell portal.

Clash of Swords 22

46-player, 5-round Grand Tournament in England, GB on July 16 2022. All the lists for this event can be found by scrolling through the TO’s twitter feed.

The Showdown

Nighthaunt vs Skaven – Turf War

Nighthaunt – Andy Hughes – Nagash and another wizard in order to include both Cogs and Purple Sun in this otherwise nasty Scarlet Doom list.

Andy's List - Click to Expand
Allegiance: Nighthaunt
– Procession: Scarlet Doom
– Grand Strategy: Fright or Flight
– Triumphs:

Leaders
Nagash, Supreme Lord of the Undead (955)*
Spirit Torment (115)*
– General
– Command Trait: Master of Magic
– Artefact: Arcane Tome (Universal Artefact)
– Lore of the Underworlds: Seal of Shyish

Battleline
20 x Bladegheist Revenants (350)*
– Reinforced x 1
10 x Bladegheist Revenants (175)*
10 x Bladegheist Revenants (175)*

Units
4 x Myrmourn Banshees (105)*

Endless Spells & Invocations
Chronomantic Cogs (40)
Purple Sun of Shyish (70)

Core Battalions
*Battle Regiment
Total: 1985 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 1 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 65
Drops: 1

Skaven – Tom Mawsdley – Hero hammer supreme with 3 big boy monsters doing all the dirty work.

Tom's List - Click to Expand
Allegiance: Skaven
– Grand Strategy: Take What’s Theirs
– Triumphs:

Leaders
Verminlord Deceiver (405)
– General
– Command Trait: Devious Adversary
– Artefact: Shadow Magnet Trinket
– Universal Spell Lore: Flaming Weapon
Lord Skreech Verminking (425)
Thanquol on Boneripper (415)**
– 2 Warpfire Braziers & 2 Warpfire Projectors
– Lore of Ruin: Skitterleap
Warlock Bombardier (115)**
– Universal Spell Lore: Levitate

Battleline
20 x Clanrats (100)*
– Rusty Blade
– 2x Standard Bearers
– 2x Standard Bell Ringers
20 x Clanrats (100)*
– Rusty Blade
– 2x Standard Bearers
– 2x Standard Bell Ringers
5 x Skryre Acolytes (75)*

Units
1 x Ratling Gun (65)**
1 x Ratling Gun (65)**
1 x Ratling Gun (65)** 

Endless Spells & Invocations
Purple Sun of Shyish (70)
Umbral Spellportal (70)
Lauchon the Soulseeker (30)

Core Battalions
*Expert Conquerors
**Battle Regiment
Total: 2000 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 0 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 99
Drops: 6

Thoughts

Let’s start with Tom – A single Bombardier lets him up the damage of 1 Ratling gun each turn to damage 2, meaning an average of 17 damage 2 shots coming from a single 65 point model if they overcharge their weapons (which spoiler alert: You’re gonna do). This is a very sneaky way to put out a respectable amount of damage for not much investment. Other than that, the Deceiver is here to be an absolute knob and kick the shit out of Nagash if the gets flaming weapon off (though he’s unlikely to do so), Thanquol will utterly destroy the Bladegheist Revenants if left alive for long enough thanks to 2 Warpfire throwers. The biggest thing that Tom will struggle with here is getting off those pivotal spells, but if he can lift Nagash early he’s likely to run away with things. Andy on the other hand has a different problem – keeping his meagre forces alive long enough to keep up with primary scoring while Nagash does his bloody work. The Bladegheists will murder anything they touch, though they’ll need to dodge Thanquol for a while lest they get efficiently handled. The mission also means he can’t tuck the BGR in reserves either, and will have to be flexible as Thanquol can boat all over the board.

Result

Nighthaunt Victory

Nighthaunt – Andy Hughes – First Place

Nagash
Credit: Silks

Andy’s List – See Above

Why it’s Interesting

Primarily it’s because many wondered if Nagash was even potent enough to be worth considering in a metagame rife with shooting elements that he typically struggles against. The recent buffs to Chronomantic Cogs help mitigate his miscasting tendencies (by granting him rerolls to his casts) and help turn him into a spellcasting powerhouse capable of lifting any unit in the game with enough stacked Arcane bolts. The Nighthaunt element of his pie is mainly focused on being versatile and efficient threats in the 3 units of Bladegheists who do mortals on the charge thanks to Scarlet Doom. By bringing a single unit of Myrmourn Banshees, he also insulates the achilles heel to a list like this – the dreaded Purple Sun. The Banshees have a fairly reasonable chance of dispelling the Sun outright if it ever comes near them.

Rob Symes – Disciples of Tzeentch – Second Place

Curseling, Eye of Tzeentch
Curseling, Eye of Tzeentch. That Gobbo
Rob's List - Click to Expand
Allegiance: Tzeentch
– Change Coven: Hosts Arcanum
– Grand Strategy: Take What’s Theirs
– Triumphs: Inspired

Leaders
Changecaster, Herald of Tzeentch (140)*
– Lore of Change: Bolt of Tzeentch
Curseling, Eye of Tzeentch (180)*
– General
– Command Trait: Spell Hunters
– Artefact: The Fanged Circlet
– Lore of Fate: Arcane Suggestion
Bonded to Krondpsine
Kairos Fateweaver (435)*
– Lore of Change: Tzeentch’s Firestorm

Battleline
3 x Screamers of Tzeentch (100)*
3 x Screamers of Tzeentch (100)*
3 x Screamers of Tzeentch (100)*

Units
3 x Tzaangor Skyfires (190)*
3 x Tzaangor Skyfires (190)*

Behemoths
Krondspine Incarnate of Ghur (400)*
– Allies

Endless Spells & Invocations
Chronomantic Cogs (40)
Purple Sun of Shyish (70)
Horrorghast (40)

Core Battalions
*Battle Regiment
Total: 1985 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 0 / 4
Allies: 400 / 400
Wounds: 75
Drops: 1

Why It’s Interesting

Two things standout here in Rob’s list construction that are interesting and/or powerful. The first of which is that the Krondspine works quite well with Tzeentch as it gives them a resilient front line for their wizards to hide behind that also buffs the Curseling’s wizarding prowess. The second is that (pending Tournament Organiser’s ruling on the matter) this is one of the rare armies that could technically cast two Purple Suns at once. The brief explanation is that the wording on the Curseling’s Vessel of Chaos ability is such that the caster immediately casts the spell it unbinds in it’s opponent’s hero phase. So if your opponent casts Purple Sun successfully and you unbind it, you can then cast it again even if you already have your own Sun out. Because you’re not casting yours, you’re casting theirs. It’s a RAW interpretation but it’s undeniably cool as a possibility. The other thing to note here in what is seemingly becoming more of a spell domination metagame is how well Hosts Arcanum plays into it with their 3 automatic unbinds. Interesting choices and well done Rob!

The Rest of the Best

  • 3rd – Eddie Harrison – Bonesplitterz: 16 Big Stabbaz and 30 Boarboys and 5 Savage Big Bosses all doing Mortal wounds on 6s to wound.
  • 4th – Tom Mawsdley – Skaven: See showdown.
  • 5th – Mark Wildman – Nighthaunt: A balanced Emerald Host list led by Olynder and 15 Hexwraiths.
  • 6th – Tom Cunnell – Sylvaneth: A Dreadwood list that leans on the ability to hit hard with 15 Spite Revenants and teleport away safe, likely in tandem with the Spirit of Durthu doing the same.

Midwest Bash GT

30-player, 5-round Grand Tournament in St. Louis, MO, United States on July 16 2022. All the lists for this event can be found in Best Coast Pairings. Notably, armies were allowed to bring a single Underworlds warband for free as part of their forces. I’ve made note of said selection when given.

The Showdown

Stormcast Eternals vs Stormcast Eternals – Battleplan Unknown

Stormcast Eternals – Tyler Emerson – A rather interesting new take on Stormcast with 10 Protectors (4 Maces!) and 10 Judicators.

Tyler's List - Click to Expand
Allegiance: Stormcast Eternals
– Stormhost: Hammers of Sigmar (Scions of the Storm)
– Grand Strategy: Take What’s Theirs

Leaders Celestant-Prime, Hammer of Sigmar (325)*
Lord-Commander Bastian Carthalos (300)*
Knight-Relictor (140)*
– General
– Command Trait: High Priest
– Prayer: Translocation
Lord-Castellant (155)*
– Artefact: Arcane Tome
– Spell: Celestial Blades

Battleline
10 x Judicators with Skybolt Bows (400)**
– Reinforced x 1
5 x Liberators (115)**
– Heavens-wrought Weapon and Shield
– 1x Grandweapons
5 x Liberators (115)***
– Heavens-wrought Weapon and Shield
– 1x Grandweapons

Units
10 x Protectors (450)***
– 4x Starsoul Maces
– Reinforced x 1

Core Battalions
*Command Entourage
– Magnificent
**Expert Conquerors
***Bounty Hunters

Additional Enhancements
Holy Command: Call for Aid
Holy Command: Unleash Thy Hatred
Total: 2000 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 2 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 100
Drops: 8

Stormcast Eternals – John Lindsey – The big man Krondys is here! It’s a fairly numbers light (even for Stormcast) list that uses two chariots to screen for a bunch of Dracothian Guard.

John's List - Click to Expand
Army Faction: Stormcast Eternals
– Army Type: Scions of the Storm
– Army Subfaction: Hammers of Sigmar
– Grand Strategy: Take What’s Theirs
– Triumphs: Inspired

LEADER Krondys (600)*
– Spells: Thundershock
Lord-Relictor (145)*
– General
– Command Traits: High Priest
– Artefacts: Mirrorshield
– Prayers: Translocation

BATTLELINE
1 x Dracothian Guard Tempestors (440)*
Judicators with Boltstorm Crossbows (190)*
– Thunderbolt Crossbow
Dracothian Guard Desolators (220)**

ENDLESS SPELL
Purple Sun of Shyish (70)

OTHER
Stormstrike Chariot (165)*
– Stormstrike Axe and Tempestuous Spear
Stormstrike Chariot (165)**
– Stormstrike Axe and Tempestuous Spear

CORE BATTALIONS:
*Battle Regiment
**Bounty Hunters
TOTAL POINTS: (1995/2000)
Warband: Stormsire’s Cursebreakers – Celestial Blades

Thoughts

Tyler’s list has a nice little mortal wound output unit in the Protectors with Starsoul Maces, especially so because Unleash Thy Hatred gives them 2 attacks each, meaning that unit can do up to 8d3 mortal wounds with just the 4 special weapon models alone – of particular import when staring down as much armour as John has. Krondys’ Ancient Master of War ability however means UTH won’t be much good when dealing with the big man in particular. Bastian can also chip away at him thanks to The Thunderborn ability. In terms of awkwardness, the Protectors’ Bounty Hunter status won’t do much good against John as there’s only one GV unit in his list. John has a hodge podge of pieces here but the standouts in this matchup are the Dracothian Guard and the Chariots, who can put out high quality damage enough to wear down the Protectors with concerted effort. For similar reasons Purple Sun will play a pivotal role, as it’s extra pip of rend is invaluable (though a double edged sword because of it’s nature). Sadly, the Judicator’s John has have no innate rend as he brought Crossbows instead of Bows which is unfortunate considering his opponent.

Result

Stormcast Eternals (Tyler) – Major Win 

Stormcast Eternals – Tyler Emerson – First Place

Tyler’s List – See Above Why It’s Interesting

It provides a hint of what Stormcast could be beyond simply ‘apply Longstrikes and Stormdrake liberally to face’, and that’s interesting after such a long time when those two units sucked all the life out of listbuilding for such a large book. There are some misses in the tome for sure but Paladins have always been quietly very good and Judicators make for a more fairer and interesting yet still potent ranged element. Tyler is also able to bring both Bastian and a Celestant Prime with the points saved, not to mention benefiting from the Lord Castellant’s always excellent automatic +1 save to a unit, as well as the budget conscious Stormcast priest in the Knight-Relictor for a still excellent though slightly less reliable Translocation to get the Protectors to where they need to go.

Stormstrike Chariot. Credit: SRM

Stormcast Eternals – John Lindsey – Second Place

John’s List – See Showdown

Why It’s Interesting

A chariot is an interesting choice for a Bounty Hunter unit but a melee variant actually throws out a fair amount of quality attacks so it makes sense here. Dracothian Guard come in more flavours than just Fulminators, with John choosing the shooty kind (Tempestors, usually found in old Living City lists) and Desolators flavours, the latter of which can throw out an appalling number of attacks for it’s footprint against units larger than it. Finally there’s Krondys himself, who offers a very good melee profile and excellent spellcasting (but not unbinding) prowess with which to throw out his extremely versatile Atavistic Tempest spell or Purple Sun of Shyish. About his biggest weakness is simply his vulnerability to instant death effects and not having any innate ward save.

The Rest of the Best

Four other players went 4-1:

  • 3rd – Walker Snapp – Sons of Behemat – Taker tribe with 2 Kraken Eaters, and one each of a Gatebreaker and Warstomper.
  • 4th – Zano Korellio – Stormcast Eternals – A Celestial Vindicators list that does well even with the nerfed incarnations of Longstrikes and Stormdrakes, taking 2 minimum sized units of each, the latter each in Bounty Hunters.
  • 5th – Jeffrey Naumann – Maggotkin of Nurgle – Flies and Blightkings galore in this Drowned Men list, the former in Bounty Hunters.
  • 6th – Cody Bailey – Tzeentch – A spellcasting heavy Hosts Arcanum list that even brings along the Burning Sigil of Tzeentch and a Gaunt summoner.

Wrap Up

There was another event that was borderline for inclusion as it was exactly 28 players, though it had 2 dropouts and thus fell below our requirements. A pretty damn wild OBR list won the event (Midwest Makeup, check out the list here ) which is super interesting as it suggests that there’s life in those rather old bones yet. Speaking of bones, Bonesplitterz! Holy crap! What interesting times. Until next time.

Ellarr has recently started a Youtube channel to catalog those thoughts that spilleth over from Competitive Innovations which you can find here. If you have any questions or comments leave one down below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.