Goonhammer Interviews: Ben Williams – Man, Myth, Legend at the GW Tacoma Open

Ben Williams takes a selfie before playing TheChirurgeon. Credit: Ben Williams

Wake up, a new guy just dropped.

Readers may recall from my recent Road Through 2023 series I mentioned playing against Ben Williams in round 1 of the Tacoma Open, most notable for playing a list that included a Warhound Titan. In addition to being a great person to play against, Ben shocked the world at the event by winning three games, with matches against Aeldari, Knights, and Custodes in the mix. 

We wanted to take some time to highlight Ben and his list this week and talk about what it’s like being the Warhound Guy at an event. First, let’s start with Ben’s list.

Ben’s entire army. King shit

Ben's List - click to expand

Warhound v2 (1995 points)
Space Marines
Strike Force (2000 points)
Gladius Task Force

CHARACTER

Captain (105 points)
• Warlord
• 1x Bolt Pistol
1x Power fist
1x Storm bolter
• Enhancement: Bolter Discipline

BATTLELINE

Tactical Squad (175 points)
• 1x Tactical Sergeant
• 1x Bolt pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Power weapon
• 8x Tactical Marine
• 8x Bolt pistol
7x Boltgun
8x Close combat weapon
1x Flamer
• 1x Tactical Marine
• 1x Bolt pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Missile launcher

OTHER DATASHEETS

Vindicator (205 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
1x Demolisher cannon
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Storm bolter

Vindicator (205 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
1x Demolisher cannon
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Storm bolter

Vindicator (205 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
1x Demolisher cannon
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Storm bolter

ALLIED UNITS

Warhound Titan (1100 points)
• 1x Warhound feet
1x Warhound plasma blastgun
1x Warhound turbo-laser destructor

That’s basically a warhound, 3 Vindicators, and a Tactical Squad. Now I want you to picture this list in your mind, and think about how many wins you’d be able to get with this list. Alright, let’s talk to Ben.

Hey Ben, thanks again for speaking with us. Let’s start with your list – in addition to running a Warhound, you went with three Vindicators. What went into picking your list for the Tacoma Open?

Hey, thanks for having me! When the new edition came out with the points, I realized that my normal army that I played, Adeptus Sororitas, would not function. They had dropped several hundred points and weren’t viable in their current form. So I would have had to build and paint several hundred points worth of models in 3 weeks, time that I just did not have. So when the points for the Warhound came out, I realized that I could use it and other models I’d already finished years ago. As I started to write lists, I initially had a terminator assault squad in the list for some nice melee along with 2 Vindicators, but I realized over time talking with friends and watching game reports that shooting was going to be king this edition. So I got rid of the terminators and added the third Vindicator. It also helps that they have a special place in my heart from playing with them a lot in 5th edition and were finally looking viable again. I rounded out the army with a Tactical Squad led by a Captain with a powerfist and storm bolter. If you look close, that’s actually Pedro from the Crimson Fists.

Magnus stares down the Warhound

How did the list do compared to your expectations? Did you do better or worse than you expected?

Oh man, the list did way better than I ever dreamed! I truly expected to go 0-8 at the tournament. I was going for fun and to have a good time. Even winning 1 game was really pushing my expectations, given the limited size of my army. So going 3-5 was absolutely wild.

You won three games with this list. Talk to us about those Wins – how did you make those happen, and did they have anything in common? 

My first win was in the third round, facing Aeldar. My opponent had a dreaded Wraithknight, a pair of Night Spinners, and several units of Harlequins in boats, as well as a 10 man squad of Dark Reapers. I chose the secondaries Engage on all Fronts and Assassination. We both deployed on the line, and I won the roll for first turn. The Wraithknight had the bad luck to be out front, and between Oath of moment and two Vindicators he died very fast. My Warhound throughout the game obliterated or severely weakened every unit it shot. At the bottom of turn 2, two of my Vindicators were assaulted by the remnants of a Harlequin unit, each with 1 or 2 models. And they both won those combats, running over the Harlequins. It was a ridiculous scene. This was the mission where the primary score was partially obtained by killing more units than your opponent.  Simply put, I just didn’t have enough units to ever lose on primary. Nonetheless, the game was over by the beginning of turn 4. 

My second win was in round 4. This game, I faced off against Custodes, an army that I had no practice against and very little knowledge of overall. My opponent had several units of 3-5 Custodians, all with a character leading them, as well as a Land Raider and a Caladius. I chose the same secondaries I had in the previous round, more because I didn’t have any better choices. We deployed, and he was the roll-off. His first turn he moved several of the squads forwards towards the objectives and shot both tanks at the Warhound. The Land Raider straight whiffed all of its shots, not able to damage the Warhounds Toughness 13. The Caladius did not miss. I had to make two saves, and rolled a 5 and 6 for both invulnerability saves, a very lucky roll. Yay Void Shields! The only damage it took was from a heavy bolter round, I think. It did 2 damage, that’s what I remember.

My turn was nasty. The Warhound shot its Turbo Laser at the Land raider. And every shot hit. And most of them wounded. I recall doing something like 25 damage to it. The Plasma Blastgun shot a unit of Custodes unit out in the open, and I learned that Damage 5 is exceptionally good versus their infantry. On his turn he destroyed one of my Vindicators, but both shots from the Caladius into the Warhound I saved with another roll of 5 and 6. I then moved my warhound towards taking the point that would last all game and basically stood over it and dared his army to come at me. By the time most of his units could, they were whittled down to 1 or 2 models. At the bottom of turn 3 Trajann charged the Warhound, did nothing, then got stomped into the ground and turned to mush. Turn 4 his blade champion did the same thing and got stomped on. It was pretty insane. The game ended with me getting full primary and middling secondary points. At this point I was put in the 2-2 bracket.

My last win was against Imperial Knights in the 8th round, an army I had been defeated by earlier in round 5. Elias, my opponent, had three big knights and three of the little guys with what looked like big melta guns and a melee weapon. This was very similar to the other army I’d lost to. I deployed my Warhound almost in the corner of my deployment zone, with the Vindicators on the flanks and the Tactical squad ready to go into the center. For secondaries I chose Bring it down (an obvious choice) and Engage on all Fronts. I then lost the roll for first turn. At this point I was resigned to another loss, as that had happened in my previous round. Elias chose to go with Tactical missions, and advanced one of his big titans to my side, as well as all of the little guys. He shot one big knight at one of my vindicators, and truth be told, I was extremely lucky that his rolls for number of shots were abysmal. After everything settled, he had done a total of four wounds to one Vindicator.

Suddenly, I realized I was in this game and had a real chance. My turn came up, and I put oath of moment on the big Knight that had advanced at me. Then both Vindicators on that side unloaded with everything they had. The first rolled a 5 for number of shots, and the second rolled a 6. So this Knight took 17 shots from my tanks, re-rolling hits and wounds. It exploded. Then my Warhound shot a 2nd tall knight over one of the objectives with just the turbolaser and did around 11 or 12 wounds. The 3rd vindicator finished him off. And my Plasma blastgun knocked one of the little guys down to 5 wounds. His 2nd turn, he moved the 3 little guys up onto the mid points and all shot the Warhound. And did nothing to him. His last big Knight destroyed the injured Vindicator and did 6 wounds to the one right next to it. My 2nd turn I destroyed all 3 little knights, leaving him with only his big guy left. So, in the interest of fun, he teleported him?! Into my deployment zone, 9 inches away from the warhound, and unleashed everything on him. I think he did like 10 damage to it? Then the rest of my army blew it away. So it was quite a wild game.

Did the three armies have anything in common? Not really, they all played quite differently. The Aeldar and Custodes only had a little anti-tank, certainly not enough to take out the amount of armor I had without good rolls. But the Imperial Knights had more than enough and I got exceptionally lucky versus them. The one thing they could all do much better than I could was score secondaries better than me. After our first round game where I chose tactical missions, I only chose fixed missions through the rest of the tournament. 

Ben’s Warhound takes on Jack Hunter’s Imperial Fists

Do you have a favorite moment from the event?

Oh my, so many moments spring to mind. My absolute favorite was round 2 versus Matthew and his Necrons. On my first turn my warhound shot his Doomsday Ark and Doomstalker, and they both Exploded! Second turn, I shot his Ghost Ark with the Warhound and it also exploded! And so did his Doom Scythe from the Vindicators! Four explosions in a row, it was a riot and we both were laughing. I still lost that game because I couldn’t kill warriors fast enough!

Also, stepping on Trajann and the Blade Champion was quite a highlight. 

Finally, in the 7th round, I was playing against Jack’s wonderfully painted Imperial Fists. That was the first game I actually used Tank Shock for the first time, to his bewilderment. It didn’t do a ton, but was a lot of fun. I left multiple dreadnoughts of his alive on a single wound! So aggravating because I was so close to killing them. Then he charged my tactical squad with the remnants of his terminator squad. I Overwatched with a Vindicator and scored 3 hits, which killed everyone left in the squad except the captain. He killed 2 or 3 of my guys in combat, then my Captain shockingly punched him into the ground! He was a great opponent, and I learned a lot from him about the game.

What was the general response to bringing a Warhound to the event? Is it something you’d do again?

Truth be told, I was and still am blown away by how nice and encouraging everyone was at the tournament! So many people came over to chat about it, whether about building and painting it, how it played, transporting it, or just chatting about 40k in general. It was a great ice breaker for conversations! I realized after the tournament that Stu, the studio Warboss on Metawatch, had come over and chatted with me quite a bit about playing with it. I had no idea who he was! 

Would I go to the tournament again with the Warhound? You know, I probably would. It’s honestly fun to take out and use, and because I know I’m taking it, I relax a lot more and just enjoy playing the game. It’s a nice change from trying to be more competitive.

The Warhound looms large. Credit: Ben Williams

On that note, what’s the future look like? Are you running the Warhound at your next event, or changing things up?

Right now, I don’t have any events in the immediate future. My life is crazy at home as it is. I have three little boys under age 5, and I’m currently playing full time Dad, so it leaves little time to hobby or go to tournaments. But if and when I do go to another tournament soon, I honestly might bring the Warhound again. Because absolutely no one expects it. Thanks for chatting and good luck in your future tournaments!

Thanks again for speaking with us about the event – both Jack (Hunter) and I had a blast playing against you and look forward to seeing what madness you get up to in the future.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.