Competitive Innovations in the Mortal Realms: Droning On (and On)

Two tournaments to cover this week, and as you’ll see below there’s been a noticeable shift from high damage armies that can project their power at range to more board control, resilient lists that can seek to outlast the opponent. That’s not to say that alpha strike armies are dead, simply that the meta game seems to be shifting somewhat to compensate for the presence of Stormdrakes, Nurgle and Seraphon in general. Let’s get to it.

Weekend Warlords 2022

A two-day, five-round event which took place in Milan, Italy. This was a 44 player event and you can find the lists for this event at Tabletop.to

The Showdown

Maggotkin of Nurgle VS Seraphon – Battleplan Unknown

Nurgle – Luca Quinale – A few years back we toyed with the idea of creating a ‘one box challenge’ series, where we would create lists for every army in the game but try and make it entirely from one kit, a sort of bizarre mix of value and kitbashing ingenuity. We scrapped it but Luca decided to take the idea and run with it: 8 copies of the Blightlord kit would get you this monstrosity which manages to combine Nurgle’s resiliency and grind with some much appreciated mobility elements.

Luca's Maggotkin of Nurgle - Click to Expand

Army Faction: Maggotkin of Nurgle
– Army Subfaction: Drowned Men
– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
– Triumphs: Bloodthirsty

LEADER

Lord of Afflictions (210)*
– General
– Command Traits: Overpowering Stench
– Artefacts: The Splithorn Helm

Lord of Afflictions (210)*

BATTLELINE

1 x Pusgoyle Blightlords (440)*

1 x Pusgoyle Blightlords (440)*

Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*

Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*

Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*

CORE BATTALIONS:

*Rotbringer Cyst

TOTAL POINTS: (1960/2000)

Seraphon – Lorenzo Baccifava – Pretty much your standard Thunder Lizards good stuff list on display here. There’s not much here that’s off the beaten path, just your standard brick of skinks supported by the big monsters and support heroes.

Lorenzo's Seraphon - Click to Expand

Allegiance: Seraphon
– Constellation: Thunder Lizard
– Mortal Realm: Ghur
– Grand Strategy: Beast Master
– Triumphs: Inspired

Leaders

Engine of the Gods (265)**
– Artefact: Fusil of Conflaguration
– Mount Trait: Beastmaster
– Universal Prayer Scripture: Curse

Skink Priest (80)*
– Universal Prayer Scripture: Heal Skink Starseer (145)*
– Spell: Hand of Glory

Slann Starmaster (265)**
– Spell: Stellar Tempest

Stegadon with Skink Chief (305)*
– General
– Command Trait: Prime Warbeast
– Artefact: Cloak of Feathers
– Weapon: Skystreak Bow

Battleline

30 x Skinks (225)**
– Boltspitters Celestite Daggers & Star Bucklers
– Reinforced x 2

10 x Skinks (75)*
– Boltspitters Celestite Daggers & Star Bucklers

10 x Skinks (75)**
– Boltspitters Celestite Daggers & Star Bucklers

Behemoths

Bastiladon with Solar Engine (250)**

Bastiladon with Solar Engine (250)

Endless Spells & Invocations

Emerald Lifeswarm (60)

Total: 1995 / 2000 Reinforced Units: 2 / 4 Allies: 0 / 400 Wounds: 108 Drops: 6

Thoughts

This showdown represents a crossroads in the metagame. Nurgle is a fresh, third edition book that’s still getting attention from listbuilders trying to ‘solve’ the army and find the best list. Seraphon on the other hand have been not only a mainstay in the metagame for a very long time, but they are very much a solved army – there is flex to be creative within the list but the basic engine of a top performing Thunder Lizards list inevitably revolves around it’s mainstays.

When it comes to the matchup, the Thunder Lizards army have damage output and spellcasting dominance, and thanks to the lack of range by his opponent he can screen his support pieces and largely keep them safe.

On the other hand, thanks to the pre-game move from the Drowned Men subfaction, Luca can establish board control before the game has even begun, and thanks to the armies damage output being entirely damage 1, he effectively negates the excellent Scaly Skin battle trait that all Seraphon Coalesced armies enjoy (reduce incoming damage by 1 to a minimum of 1), which is quite the equalizer. Forcing the Seraphon player to come to him will be a big win in the matchup, as Nurgle always wants to be in combat and Seraphon more wants to control space and slowly whittle the opponent down and take the lead late game when board control is surrendered to them.

That said, Thunder Lizards represent the biggest obstacle for many armies, as they’re a very strong all rounder that have the damage output to keep up with most game plans. If the battleplan is defensive in nature and doesn’t have any meaningful central objective presence, I favour Lorenzo. Likewise, if things are more centrally located I favour Luca in the matchup.

Result

Maggotkin of Nurgle (Luca Quinale) Victory – Major Win

 

Luca Quinale – Maggotkin of Nurgle – First Place

Luca’s List – See Above

Why it’s Interesting

Let’s be realistic here – it’s simply leaning into a very efficient warscroll that can do a bit of everything. We expect the Pusgoyle Blightlords will get a price bump with the next GHB, but for now Luca is really securing the value here. The Lord of Afflictions can tuck the big units of Pusgoyles into deep strike against unfavourable matchups ready to guarantee an effective counter punch, and Overpowering Stench shuts off all enemy CA usage within 7″, which is pretty good to stop Unleash Hell, Inspiring Presence, All out Defence, as well as any number of strong faction specific command abilities.

It’s a skew list, and a skew list will do very well indeed if it’s got a strong gameplan against Seraphon and high save units (damage 1 output and mortal wound output respectively). Seraphon and Stormcast together make up a significant portion of the metagame, and the raw power of the warscroll means he’s got at least a neutral matchup against everything else in the game too. Expect to see more of this.

Tommaso Mariani – Maggotkin of Nurgle – Second Place

Be'lakor
Be’lakor – Credit: RichyP

Joshua's List - Click to Expand

Army Faction: Maggotkin of Nurgle
– Army Subfaction: Drowned Men
– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
– Triumphs: Bloodthirsty

LEADER

Orghotts Daemonspew (300)

Lord of Afflictions (210)*
– General
– Command Traits: Overpowering Stench
– Artefacts: The Splithorn Helm

Be’lakor (360)*

BATTLELINE

1 x Pusgoyle Blightlords (440)*

Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*

Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*

Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*

CORE BATTALIONS:

*Battle Regiment TOTAL POINTS: (1970/2000)

Why it’s Interesting

The core of the list is the same here, the difference is that Tommaso has gone for toys over boys, opting to bring Be’lakor and Orghotts Daemonspew (the armoured combat one) over their equivalent points in Pusgoyles. Be’lakor shuts down the opponent’s best unit for a turn (potentially two if there’s a double) and Orghotts is just a giant pain in the ass for many fair armies to effectively kill thanks to his defensive profile: 14 Wounds on a 3+/5++!

Notably, Tommaso also went undefeated at the event, so it’s fair to say Grandfather Nurgle would be very proud!

The Rest of the Best

Big event means lots of 4-1s, so let’s cover the 6 that make up the top 8:

  • 3rd – Lorenzo Baccifava – Seraphon: See showdown.
  • 4th – Giovanni Catena – Stormcast Eternals: 7 Stormdrakes soaring, 6 Longstrikes shooting, 1 Lord-Relictor and a partridge in a- *cough*. Yeah it’s that list again.
  • 5th – Luigi Mauri – Ironjawz: A balanced Ironsunz list that brings Kragnos as it’s only behemoth and fits him and a bled of Ardboyz, Brutes and Gore Gruntas into a 1 drop list.
  • 6th – Marco Vago – Seraphon: Thunder Lizards goodstuff with a Celestant Prime.
  • 7th – Andrea Cuntro Chiari – Lumineth Realm Lords: Teclis, 30 Sentinels and friends in a classic Zaitrec control list.
  • 8th – Mirko Fina – Stormcast Eternals: A Knights Excelsior list that brings the strong core of 4 Stormdrake and 6 Longstrikes, then goes a bit off the beaten path with 3 Annihilators, 10 Vindictors and a Lord-Imperatant to make the armies deep strike more effective and consistent.

 

Games Workshop US Open Seattle 2022

A two-day, five-round event which took place in Seattle in the US. It was a 66 player event and you can find the lists for this event at BCP

The Showdown

 

Legion of the First Prince VS Soulblight Gravelords – Battleplan Unknown

LOFP – Matt Beasley – The army has traditionally gone heavy herohammer and simply summoned its attrition bodies on over the course of the game, but GW had steadily nerfed some of it’s strongest Hero elements through points adjustments and/or The Hunt battlescroll making them worth more VP. Matt pivots here and goes (relatively) light on heroes to afford the new Incarnate of Ghur, who synergizes really well with the armies gameplan.

Legion of the First Prince- Click to Expand

Army Faction: Legion of the First Prince
– Grand Strategy: Beast Master
– Triumphs: Inspired

LEADER

Be’lakor (360)
– Spells: The Master’s Command

Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage (280)
– General
– Command Traits: Ruinous Aura
– Artefacts: Armour of the Pact
– Bonding: Krondspine Incarnate of Ghur

Kairos Fateweaver (435)*
– Spells: The Master’s Command

BATTLELINE

Flesh Hounds (105)*

Bloodletters (115)*

Plaguebearers (150)*

BEHEMOTH

Krondspine Incarnate of Ghur (400)*

ENDLESS SPELL

Umbral Spellportal (70)
Emerald Lifeswarm (60)

CORE BATTALIONS: *Battle Regiment

TOTAL POINTS: (1975/2000)

Soulblight Gravelords – Roger Barker – This list *also* wants to control the board with bodies, in this case 100 Zombies with recursion mechanics and the potential to fight twice. 10 Blood Knights and 2 Mortarchs make up the hammer to the Zombies anvil.

Soulblight Gravelords- Click to Expand

Army Faction: Soulblight Gravelords
– Army Type: Kastelai Dynasty
– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
– Triumphs: Indomitable

LEADER

Gorslav the Gravekeeper (75)**

Mannfred Von Carstein (380)**
– Spells: Amethystine Pinions, Overwhelming Dread

Necromancer (125)**
– General
– Command Traits: Master of Magic
– Artefacts: Grave-sand Shard
– Spells: Fading Vigour, Invigorating Aura, Prison of Grief

Neferata (365)**
– Spells: Amethystine Pinions, Decrepify

BATTLELINE

1 x Blood Knights (390)*

1 x Deadwalker Zombies (230)*

1 x Deadwalker Zombies (230)*

Deadwalker Zombies (115)**

Deathrattle Skeletons (85)**

CORE BATTALIONS:
*Hunters of the Heartlands
**Warlord

TOTAL POINTS: (1995/2000)

Thoughts

It’s strength against strength here, as both want to lean on a grindy matchup and focusing on area control. The difference here being that LOFP is set up better to play the long game, as they’ll be bringing more and more chaff units of reasonably high quality onto the board as the game progresses, whereas the Kastelai list *can* return units back to play once they’re dead, but can’t necessarily grow as the game progresses.

On the vampire side, Grave-sand Shard allows a once per game 5+ ward on a sizable portion of his army which is helpful against the boomthirster, and MoM on his Necromancer means his spellcasting will be a bit more consistent (though he’ll still struggle to do much against Kairos). The Blood Knights can’t get tarpitted at all and will be an absolute death star here, as there’s nothing defensive in the Legion list other than sheer wounds, and I expect the combat between them and the Boomthirster will be an important one, as while Mannfred and Neferata are strong in their own right in combat, raw low quality damage is needed to keep up with the Legion’s summoning output so they’re not at their best here. That said, he has the early numbers to establish board control if given first turn, but being a higher drop list than Matt means he’s likely going to be attacking to establish board control.

As for the Daemons, the Krondspine is the most interesting aspect here, as he can lock a Zombie unit in place and shut off retreats, making the typical Zombie retreat and pile in shenanigans not possible and really slowing down what the SBGL list is wanting to do. He will be a slow start, but being a 1 drop he can go first and get bodies on points and get summoning going early, counting on the Krondspine to effectively block off a portion of the board until it’s eventually killed. If Matt can keep the SBGL back long enough for the Plaguebearer/Horror engine to get going in earnest, it’s going to be hard to lose here.

Result

Legion of the First Prince (Matt Beasley) Victory – Major Win

 

Matt Beasley – Legion of the First Prince – First Place

Credit: Liebot – https://instagram.com/liebot_pics

Matt’s List – See Above

Why it’s Interesting

LOFP lists start off slow and become a nightmare late game due to summoning a new unit of daemons every battle round. The Krondspine’s inclusion here helps mitigate a weakness as the Krondspine is impossible to kill in one turn and quite difficult to kill in two, serving a useful role as an initial speedbump that can also provided high rend high damage attacks in an army that typically lacks them.

Losing bloodslicked ground from a Khorne DP hurts here, and by necessity the list is a little lighter on bodies in order to spare the points for the Incarnate, but the DP was typically low impact in ranged matchups anyway and the Krondspine is going to be a nightmare in more matchups as nobody likes to deal with Morathi, and the Incarnate is effectively a Morathi.

Matthias Krushel – Maggotkin of Nurgle – Second Place

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Matthias' List - Click to Expand

Allegiance: Maggotkin of Nurgle
– Subfaction: Droning Guard
– Mortal Realm: Ghur
– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
– Triumphs: Bloodthirsty

The Glottkin (700) –
Lore of Malignance: Gift of Disease

Harbinger of Decay (140)**
– General
– Command Trait: Overpowering Stench
– Artefact: The Splithorn Helm

10 x Putrid Blightkings (500)*
– Reinforced x 1

3 x Plague Drones (200)*

3 x Plague Drones (200)*

3 x Nurglings (105)**

3 x Nurglings (105)**

The Burning Head (20) *

Hunters of the Heartlands **

Vanguard

Total: 1970 / 2000 Reinforced Units: 1 / 4 Allies: 0 / 400 Wounds: 121 Drops: 7

Why it’s Interesting

Having the Glottkin means opponent’s turn charges thanks to Blightkrieg, and the rest of the list is built around that fact, as Blightkings can leverage that power to run forward early and get stuck in on the opponent’s turn, effectively slingshotting them up the board to get stuck in ASAP. Plague Drones are an oft overlooked part of the book which can effectively spread disease at range thanks to their high dice volume ranged attacks, and they’re still a pain in the ass to kill even if they aren’t as tough as their mortal equivalent.

That said, the Glottkin’s eye watering price tag means he’s a lot lighter on bodies than many Nurgle armies, so the Glottkin himself will have to do a lot of heavy lifting. Thankfully, it’s a seriously tough and seriously punchy centrepiece, acting as a sort of stinky Archaon that will typically blow through whatever it’s pointed at (and again thanks to Blightkrieg it could charge something on your turn, kill something, charge something else on *their* turn).

The Rest of the Best

Big event means lots of 4-1s, so let’s cover the 6 that make up the top 8:

  • 3rd – Roger Barker – Soulblight Gravelords: See showdown.
  • 4th – Thomas Guan – Seraphon: Thunder Lizards good stuff, with some budget Saurus Knights to add some mobility.
  • 5th – David Deveraux – Stormcast Eternals: 9 Stormdrakes and some Vindictors for flavour.
  • 6th – Mason Knox – Nurgle: Drowned Men Pusgoyles, with a Pusgoyle salad and a LoA on a Pusgoyle for dessert.
  • 7th – Alexander Gonzalez – Soulblight Gravelords: Vyrkos hero hammer, featuring both Mortarchs and Radukar, with chaff and Graveguard to support.
  • 8th – Chris LaMoy – Soulblight Gravelords: More Vyrkos hero hammer, this time with Mannfred and Prince Vhordrai for fights twice nonsense and Belladama + Radukar for their buffs.

 

Wrap Up

I think it’s fair at this point to say that Nurgle have cracked into the top tier, as they’ve been a mainstay in top 8’s since the books release and a variety of builds have been proven to work. This means an interesting challenge for players now, as they have to thread the needle of being strong enough to make a dent in Thunder Lizard armies and cripple them early, while still having the staying power to trade blows with Nurgle armies over a full five founds. Perhaps then it’s not a surprise that we’ve seen an influx of LOFP and Soulblight lists at the top end of tournaments. See you next week!

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