Competitive Innovations in the Mortal Realms: Finding the Definition of Insanity

Man, this past weekend was a whole jethose of content huh? Between the new GHB hitting the community and two new books that offer interesting and powerful lists, the whole landscape of AoS is inevitably going to shift, and now might be the time if we’re honest, take a look at the win rate for the past week for factions (minimum of 3 players), small sample size but it illustrates my point nicely:

Name # Player % Games Wins Win % Avg First Loss
Maggotkin of Nurgle 7 10.29% 35 22 62.86% 3.1
Cities of Sigmar 5 7.35% 25 14 56.00% 2.0
Sylvaneth 3 4.41% 15 8 53.33% 1.7
Stormcast Eternals 10 14.71% 50 26 52.00% 1.7
Fyreslayers 4 5.88% 20 10 50.00% 1.3
Idoneth Deepkin 4 5.88% 20 9 45.00% 1.8
Seraphon 7 10.29% 35 15 42.86% 1.7
Soulblight 5 7.35% 25 9 36.00% 2.0

That point being that Nurgle is a lot and it seems to have risen to the top of the metagame like a lazy helium balloon. Why is this the case? Well after playing it a number of times across practice games, tournament outings and just talking to players I think it can be distilled down into the following key points:

  • The army is resilient and thus forgiving, as mistakes that would cost other armies might harmlessly bounce off their 5+ ward.
  • While there *are* synergies in the book, each Warscroll is largely a self contained unit that can operate independently and thus be difficult to ‘break apart’ like traditional armies are.
  • Overpowering Stench and the Wheel provide opportunities to flat out shut down elements of your opponent’s game plan, without a dice roll needed.
  • As it’s primary damage sources are either mortal wounds or 1 damage weaponry, it doesn’t particularly mind the metagame warping effect of Scaly Skin from Coalesced Seraphon armies.
  • Pusgoyle Blightlords are just… insanely efficient.

I’m tempted to collate my thoughts about the overall changes in GHB 2022 into a more formal editorial but the short version is that by making bodies matter more and make battle tactics trickier, we should see a good old shake up of list construction and pure chaos until a balance strikes itself. I could see armies falling into one of four broad categories in the early outings:

  1. Board Control lists that utilize Galletian Veterans heavily, and likewise Conquerors and/or Bounty Hunters to outnumber their opponent on the board and win through primary points scoring. They will prey on category 3.
  2. Bounty Hunter lists that try to forego GV completely in order to limit their weakness to such a powerful battalion, putting their best damage dealers in BH and slapping a Battle Regiment on top to get to that 2-3 drop threshold. They will prey on category 1.
  3. 1 Drop lists that will be much the same as they have been before, leveraging powerful ranged threats to simply blow their opponent’s key pieces off the board by either taking 1st and letting loose at range, or limiting exposure and giving away first turn and banking on a double to deliver the knock out blow. By undercutting category 2, they will prey on them.
  4. Red Deck Wins is a deck building concept I’m borrowing from Magic the Gathering as shorthand, what it means in essence is: make the most straight forward, linear game plan possible with highly efficient units and just capitalise on being able to consistently carry out your game plan regardless of what your opponent is doing. Ironjawz excelled at this early on in GHB 2021 and may be primed for a come back.

Many are lamenting that the Bounty Hunter battalion will strangle this ‘infantry focused season’ in the crib before it has a chance to develop, but I am somewhat of an optimist and between the Proving Ground mechanic, the new set of Battle Tactics and just how important Primary Scoring will become as a result of these secondaries being trickier I foresee Galletian Veterans being an important part of list building once the initial rush of ‘Holy crap I can have damage 3 Sharks!’ subsides. Anyway, tSportsNetwork invited along the top 16 UK players from their rankings for a weekend of tournament action that did things a little differently with such a smaller pool of players. I’d advise you go check out their coverage on twitch as they’ll be able to explain it far better than I could, but while it does not fall within the scope of this column (28 players minimum, 5 rounds), I wanted to give a quick shout out to Dan Bradshaw who took the title over the weekend, here’s his list: Dan's List - Click to Expand

Allegiance: Beasts of Chaos
– Greatfray: Allherd
– Grand Strategy: None Chosen
– Triumphs:

Leaders

Dragon Ogor Shaggoth (155)*
 General
 Command Trait: Dominator
 Lore of Dark Storms: Sundering Blades
Tzaangor Shaman of Beasts of Chaos (135)*
 Artefact: Blade of the Desecrator
 Lore of the Twisted Wilds: Wild Rampage

Battleline
10 x Ungors (70)*
 Mauls & Half-Shields
10 x Ungors (70)*
 Mauls & Half-Shields
10 x Ungors (70)*
 Mauls & Half-Shields

Units
20 x Tzaangors of Beasts of Chaos (350)**
 Reinforced x 1
6 x Tzaangor Enlightened on Disc of Beasts of Chaos (360)**
 Reinforced x 1
6 x Tzaangor Enlightened on Disc of Beasts of Chaos (360)**
 Reinforced x 1

Behemoths
Krondspine Incarnate of Ghur (400)*
 Allies

Core Battalions
*Battle Regiment
**Hunters of the Heartlands

Total: 1970 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 3 / 4
Allies: 400 / 400
Wounds: 134
Drops: 4

Notable here is that Dan has strayed a little from pure BoC to include the Krondspine Incarnate of Ghur, an exceptionally powerful monster available to every army that was *all over* the weekend, showing up in many of the lists and with lists including the Incarnate taking 1st, 2nd AND third. Toby Meadows and Ritchie McAlley took 2nd and 3rd respectively, each with Pusgoyle Nurgle lists and the Incarnate.

PYRHAMMER GT 2022

A 38-player, 5-round Grand Tournament in Poland/Wielkopolskie/Pozna on June 18 2022. All the lists for this event can be found in <a href=”https://tabletop.to/pyrhammer-gt-2022/rounds”>Tabletop.to</a>. This tournament took the unusual decision of not factoring in W/L record in placing at all, instead determining it by overall tournament score (i.e. your collated points over the course of the weekend from each game + soft scores), which means that if a player won big in one game, they could potentially completely wipe out the significance of a close loss later on. As such I’ll be skipping the Showdown for this event and just covering the top 3 lists:

Łukasz Krysiak – Sons of Behemat – First Place (4-0-1)

Giant Green Centaur stop a Boulder brandishing a hammer and shield.
Kragnos, End of Empires by FreshPrinceofBielTan

Łukasz' List - Click to Expand

Allegiance: Sons of Behemat
– Tribe: Breaker Tribe (Fierce Loathing: Bossy Pants and Clever Clog)
– Grand Strategy: Beast Master
– Triumphs: Inspired

Leaders
Kragnos, The End of Empires (720)
Gatebreaker Mega-Gargant – kaptur (525)*
– General
– Command Trait: Old and Gnarly
– Artefact: Enchanted Portcullis
Gatebreaker Mega-Gargant – Broda (525)*
– Artefact: Amulet of Destiny (Universal Artefact)

Battleline
1 x Mancrusher Gargants (170)

Core Battalions
*Bosses of the Stomp
– Magnificent

Additional Enhancements
Artefact

Total: 1940 / 2000
Wounds: 100
Drops: 4

Why it’s Interesting

3 Big Dudes with a 6+ Ward and a cheerleader mini Gargant who likely sits in the back and sulks. Kragnos obviously is the engine that makes the whole thing go by granting 3D6 charges to the others and thus helping them apply pressure on your opponent’s objectives as early as turn one, deployment depending (and hey, if they deploy way back to prevent a turn one charge, you just sit on their objectives and establish a very strong early lead that they’ll have a hard time coming back from). It’s Gargants, it’s Kragnos, it’s relatively passive play that doesn’t make for interesting analysis, next!

Radosław Wróblewski – Stormcast Eternals – Second Place (4-0-1)

Instagram: aelvenpainter

Radosław's List - Click to Expand

Allegiance: Stormcast Eternals
-Stormhost: Hammers of Sigmar (Scions of the Storm)
– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
– Triumphs: Inspired

Leaders
Knight-Draconis (300)*
– General
– Command Trait: Master of Magic
– Artefact: Arcane Tome (Universal Artefact)
– Mount Trait: Scintillating Trail
– Universal Spell Lore: Flaming Weapon
Lord-Castellant (155)*

Battleline
4 x Stormdrake Guard (680)*
– Drakerider’s Lance
– Reinforced x 1
2 x Stormdrake Guard (340)*
– Drakerider’s Lance
2 x Stormdrake Guard (340)*
– Drakerider’s Lance

Units 20 x Skinks (150)*
– Meteoric Javelins Celestite Daggers & Star Bucklers
– Allies
– Reinforced x 1

Core Battalions
*Battle Regiment

Additional Enhancements
Holy Command: Steadfast March

Total: 1965 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 2 / 4
Allies: 150 / 400
Wounds: 111
Drops: 1

Why it’s Interesting

A Lord Castellant and 20 Skinks offer a meagre amount of spice on what is otherwise quite stale bread – 9 Stormdrake Guard. The Castellant offers a reliable +1 save to the big brick of Stormdrakes, who go smash face with their friends. The skinks provide a cheap and efficient backline unit that require SOME amount of pressure to dislodge.

Robert Rupert Rajkowski – Beasts of Chaos – Third Place (5-0)

Ghorghon Credit: JoeK

Robert's List - Click to Expand

Allegiance: Beasts of Chaos
– Grand Strategy: Predator’s Domain
– Triumphs: brak

Dragon Ogor Shaggoth (155)*
– General
– Command Trait: Master of Magic
– Lore of Dark Storms: Sundering Blades
Dragon Ogor Shaggoth (155)**
– Artefact: Horn of the Tempest
– Lore of Dark Storms: Hailstorm
Great Bray-Shaman (100)**
– Lore of the Twisted Wilds: Tendrils of Atrophy

9 x Dragon Ogors (375)*
– 3x Paired Ancient Weapons
– 6x Draconic War glaives
– Reinforced x 2
6 x Dragon Ogors (250)*
– 3x Paired Ancient Weapons
– 3x Draconic War glaives
– Reinforced x 1
6 x Dragon Ogors (250)**
– 3x Paired Ancient Weapons
– 3x Draconic War glaives
– Reinforced x 1
1 x Mindstealer Sphiranx (95)**
– Allies
Ghorgon (155)*
Ghorgon (155)**
Ghorgon (155)
Ghorgon (155)

*Battle Regiment
**Battle Regiment

Total: 2000 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 4 / 4
Allies: 95 / 400
Wounds: 196

Drops: 4

Why it’s Interesting

Good lord have you seen that wound count? 196 in the starting army, with summoning promising many more. This is an effective bodies list that brings so many efficient Dragon Ogors and ludicrously cheap monsters as to overload the board with threats and just win through pure churn – Robert’s opponent will run out of hammers long before he will.

The Rest of the Best

The other 4-0-1 or better players were:

  • 4th – Grzegorz Trzaskoma- Sylvaneth: Alarielle, the Celestant Prime and a spellslinger Warsong Revenant make up the primary threats in this unusual mixed arms Sylvaneth list.
  • 5th – Sebastian Stanik – Maggotkin of Nurgle: Pusgoyle spam.

RISE OF THE EVERCHOSEN – FINALE LEGA CAOS 2022

30-player, 5-round Grand Tournament in Italy/Emilia-Romagna/Spilamberto (MO)/Via Castelnuovo R., 796, 41057 Spilamberto MO on June 18 2022. All the lists for this event can be found in <a href=”https://tabletop.to/rise-of-the-everchosen-finale-lega-caos-2022/rounds”>Tabletop.to</a>.

The Showdown

Seraphon vs Maggotkin of Nurgle – Battleplan Unknown

Seraphon – Samuel Marra – A standard Thunder Lizards list that’s notable for it’s balance, just a good mix of everything that makes Seraphon reliable in this metagame.

Samuel's List - Click to Expand
– Army Faction: Seraphon
– Army Type: Coalesced
– Subfaction: Thunder Lizard
– Grand Strategy: Beast Master
– Triumph: Inspired

LEADERS
Engine of the Gods (265)*
– Artefacts of Power: Fusil of Conflagration
– Prayers: Curse
Skink Priest (80)*
– Prayers: Heal
Slann Starmaster (265)*
– Spells: Stellar Tempest
Skink Starpriest (130)**
– Spells: Hand of Glory
Stegadon with Skink Chief (305)**
– General
– Command Traits: Prime Warbeast
– Skystreak Bow
– Artefacts of Power: Cloak of Feathers
– Mount Traits: Beastmaster

BATTLELINE
Skinks (225)*
– Boltspitter, Celestite Dagger and Star-buckler
Skinks (75)**
– Boltspitter, Celestite Dagger and Star-buckler
Skinks (75)**
– Boltspitter, Celestite Dagger and Star-buckler
Skinks (75)**
– Boltspitter, Celestite Dagger and Star-buckler

BEHEMOTH
Bastiladon with Solar Engine (250)
Bastiladon with Solar Engine (250)**

TERRAIN
1 x Realmshaper Engine (0)

CORE BATTALIONS
– *Warlord
– **Battle Regiment

TOTAL POINTS: 1995/2000
Created with Warhammer Age of Sigmar: The App

Nurgle – Andrea Epis – Pusgoyle Drowned Men that adds some Plaguebearers for more objective presence while still finding space to pack in 2 Maggoth Lords and 8 of those fiendish flying friends.

Andrea's List - Click to Expand
Army Faction: Maggotkin of Nurgle

– Army Subfaction: Drowned Men
– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
– Triumphs: Bloodthirsty

LEADER
Bloab Rotspawned (300)
– Spells: Rancid Visitations
Lord of Afflictions (210)*
– General
– Command Traits: Overpowering Stench
– Artefacts: The Splithorn Helm
Orghotts Daemonspew (300)*

BATTLELINE
10 Plaguebearers (150)*
10 Plaguebearers (150)*
4 Pusgoyle Blightlords (440)**
2 Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)**
2 Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)**

CORE BATTALIONS:
*Battle Regiment
**Hunters of the Heartlands

TOTAL POINTS: (1990/2000)

Thoughts

So two powerhouses of late GHB 2021 clash for one of the final times before the whole field is ripped out and something new is planted. It’s probably a bit reductionist to say ‘the better general will win out’ but there’s some merit to this considering how the two lists exemplify the strengths of their respective factions. What we can do is play around in the margins somewhat and talk about the minor edges that may decide things:

  • By bringing 2 Bastiladons with Solar Engines, Samuel opens himself up to giving away several bonus VP thanks to The Hunt making them priority targets
  • Andrea manages to get underneath Samuel in terms of drops and thus will dictate the early goings – this is likely to be a blitz up the board to apply turn 1 pressure with the flies and sit on objectives with the Plaguebearers, this will be trouble for Samuel who lacks the melee hammers required to easily shift PB off objectives and try to regain board control

Result

Nurgle Victory – Major Win

Nurgle – Andrea Epis – First Place

Andrea’s List – See Above

Why it’s Interesting

I might as well just copy paste elements of what I said last week: The LoA with Splithorn Helm and overpowering stench makes for an exceptionally tough lone operator that can shut off command abilities simply by bearing nearby, and the Pusgoyles will simply fly up the board pre-game thanks to Drowned Men and slowly grind the opponent into bubbling rot thanks to the sheer versatility of the warscroll – it’s fairly fast, it’s very tough, and it does *just* about enough damage to be respectable. To provide an extra element two the list, Bloab comes along, who can pile on the mortal wounds thanks to their Miasma of Pestilence warscroll spell.

Tommaso Mariani – Maggotkin of Nurgle – Second Place

All Flies and No Variety Makes Ellarr a Dull Boy
Tommaso's List
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
– Dolorous Tocsin
– Incubatch
– Artefacts: The Splithorn Helm
Lord of Afflictions (210)*

BATTLELINE
1 x Pusgoyle Blightlords (440)*
Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*
Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*
Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*
Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*
Pusgoyle Blightlords (220)*

CORE BATTALIONS:
*Rotbringer Cyst

TOTAL POINTS: (1960/2000)
Created with Warhammer Age of Sigmar: The App

Why It’s Interesting

Did I ever tell you what the definition of Insanity is?

The Rest of the Best

Naaa you know what, I’m pulling the ripcord on my parachute and let’s call it here.

Wrap Up

Likely one more week of this before we see a reset, perhaps sooner if events decide to be cheeky next week and get a headstart on proceedings. Please let there not be flies, PLEASE.

If you have any questions or comments leave one down below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.