Goonhammer Interviews the Top 3 Players from GW’s Dallas Open

We’re back with the kick off to the United States summer of Kill Team with Games Workshops brand new Dallas Open. Hosted at the eSports Stadium Arlington, the pictures from this event really put many of the past venues to shame! Everything is bigger in Texas, and with those wall to wall screens, it’s easy to believe!

Everything is bigger in Texas, credit: Mike C

In the post-dataslate world it seems that players have opted to explore the stronger teams in Dallas, with only 19 factions in attendance and a full eighth of the meta being Heirotek Circle. Additionally the new Nightmare box seems massive popularity on par with the 16% play rate in the wider world meta. It seems players stuck to the more powerful teams, and fewer players opted to explore Scouts, Blades of Khaine, and other weakly positioned teams.

As far as the conversion rates, the top 8 ended up being pretty diverse with a preponderance of shooting teams taking the top slots. You’ll see when we hit the interviews. It seems that none of the Fellgor were able to brave the killzones, and no elites either! It does seem that even with all the tools given to the Nemesis Claw they weren’t able to find much purchase.

Our first interview is actually with someone I’d never have pegged for winning a best painted award. Mike C is a player local to my home region, the North East, and has told me he didn’t enjoy painting at all. However when you take a look at his display board, it’s not a surprise that he was able to snag the Best Overall prize! Really quite the change of fates for Mike.

Best Overall’s display board, credit: Mike C

Mike C, Best Overall (Fifth & Best Painted), Pathfinders

Goonhammer: Thanks for taking the time to catch up on this tournament! Congrats on winning the first Kill Team Best Overall award for Games Workshop events, as far as we know. How’s it feel?

Mike C: It was surreal hearing my name announced for Best Overall and I was thrilled. The stage GW put together was AMAZING and it was special being able to get up there and claim an award. I didn’t know that it might be the first Best Overall, but if so then I am even more honored to get that award.

GH: Your display board is a lovely diorama, and we’ve heard you aren’t generally known as a painter in your local meta. What had you flip the switch and come up with this beautiful piece?

Mike C: Thanks, and it’s true that I am generally not much of a painter… but I like competition. After a very disappointing fourth place for Kill Team Best Painted at WCW, I decided to kick it up a notch for Dallas to lock in an award. I put in a ton of effort and thought into it and I’m glad it paid off.

GH: With a ticket to the finals secured, what other tournaments are you looking forward to? Any other aspirational painting dreams now that you’ve done this?

Mike C: I will definitely be going to NYO3! Other than that, I am not sure since I usually take a break during June and July to focus on time with my kids. Leading up to Dallas, I was trying to decide between Heirotek Circle and Pathfinders, so I have a really fun idea for a Necron diorama that I might have to make happen.

Third place sees a Bay Area player assemble the ancients in the Heirotek Circle. Landon’s probably got incredible practice partners with tournament winner Chris B in his locale. With only a single loss to the mirror, and eventual second place Leander, the youths are on the rise!

Landon E, Third, Heirotek Circle, Bay Area Miniature Fighters

GH: Congrats to you for the third place finish, and so far from home! How’s it feel to travel to Dallas to take such a high slot amongst the US’s top players?

Landon E: Honestly it was amazing; I came in honestly not expecting to make it into the top 5 let alone a podium. I knew the competition would be fierce and that some of the best players in the area were coming, but it turned out even better than I expected and got to meet some amazing people.

GH: Do the Heirotek nerfs in the spring dataslate leave the Necrons too strong? Or are you feeling pretty good about where they are in the meta?

Landon E: I think after the spring data slate these guys feel a little too good. I think with a couple of minor fixes they would be just right. Honestly if they got rid of rolling for reanimation completely and instead made it an automatic pass but then guaranteed that the Necron would come in at just below half I think they would be just fine.

GH: You had an early round two loss against one of Texas’s top competitors, Alexander S on Farstalkers. With how bad the Farstalkers seem in the meta, what was he doing right in that game to grab the victory?

Landon E: Alexander was a great opponent; he was probably one of the best opponents I’ve played even with Farstalkers. He was able to play at a very high level and I’m proud of what he accomplished. If I had to amount what he did right that game, I would have to say that his pistoleer’s positioning helped him stay in the game and pick off a Necron or two. However, the big play that really solidified the game was in two separate rounds he was able to Poach two separate points and bring the primary scores to his favor [which] ultimately won him the game.

GH: Are you excited about any other events in the coming months? It seems that California has no shortage of large events, and we’re wondering what else has your eye.

Landon E: I have one right now back down in Miami I’m heading to this weekend, but besides that I’m in a tough situation of getting around. Honestly if I had the chance, I would come to them all; unfortunately college and soccer is very unrelenting and makes it hard for me to make a lot of tournaments. However if I have the opportunity to come in play in any big tournament on the east coast, I’ll take the opportunity to be able to play against some of the best in the world.

GH: Any shout outs to the reader of Goonhammer?

Landon E: I’d like to shout out all my Florida boys back home that supported and help get me into this game and taught me everything I know, and all of my opponents and amazing individuals I’ve been able to meet from tournaments and games around America. I’d honestly just like to thank the Kill Team community as a whole for being so supportive and awesome!

Leander G is no stranger to our Goonhammer articles. With appearances throughout the East Coast and the rest of the continental United States. He’s been known to follow the fickle whims of the meta, and it is no surprise that he’s landed on Heirotek Circle. With a loss to Orion W on Gellerpox, and against top dog Chris in the finals. We’re wondering what tips he’s willing to share with newer Heirotek players!

Leander and Papa G credit: Marc G, woulditkillyoulift

Leander G, Second, Heirotek Circle, Plasma Spam

GH: Congratulations on the second place finish in Dallas! It seems that the winds of change have blown you over to the Necrons. How do they feel compared to other teams at the height of their power spikes?

Leander G: Thank you! Necrons are certainly quite strong, but compared to how other teams were at the height of their power spikes such as Pathfinders, Chaos Cult, and Inquisition, Necrons aren’t that overpowered.

GH: You’re a player that has continually changed teams tournament to tournament. How have you managed to stay at such a high level of play with so many rules knocking around?

Leander G: For almost all the teams I play, there have been top players pioneering the right way to use them for a while, such as Shane being one of the first top Necrons players in the US to try the Security archetype. This makes switching to a new team easy, since often how to best approach different matchups and play the game has been solved. The way that I remember the rules of all these Kill Teams is when I’m bored I’ll pick up a Kill Team’s rules and read it for a few minutes. Over a few months, this led to me knowing almost all of the rules in the game, quite often better than my opponent playing the team.

GH: Were there any big secrets to the Heirotek mirror match? With the Circle being such a strong contender, having some tools in the back pocket must be nice!

Leander G: Although this was my first Necrons mirror match, I had done a lot of theory crafting leading up to my mirror against Landon, a very strong Heirotek player who got 3rd at Dallas Open. One advantage over Landon in our game is that I took the blast gun on my leader, while Landon took the AP1 non-blast gun. Even though the AP1 gun on the Chronomancer has much higher single target damage, the power of stun on the blast gun can’t be overstated: a 1APL and injured Immortal is a useless Immortal.

Something else that helps in the mirror (and in general with Necrons) is keeping the reanimator bug safe, since it gives you basically twice as many reanimations as your opponent. I prioritized keeping my reanimator bug safe by body blocking doors, and I was able to take out Landon’s bug early, which gave me a huge edge in the rest of the game.

One thing Landon did better than me in the mirror was taking the Timesplinter psychic power (3+ invulnerable save) instead of the Temporal Nanomine (reduce enemy operative’s movement). Since after the latest nerfs the Nanomine does not reduce enemies’ dashes and does not reduce movement below 4” (which is how far immortals can move anyways), it is largely ineffective in the mirror match, and it was a mistake for me to take it.

Another component that is important to the Necrons mirror match is taking Recon instead of Security. Security is a great pick in many scenarios with Necrons, but in the mirror match seems like a poor choice. Against a team identical to yours there is no guarantee of scoring central control, center line, or seize ground / access point. In addition, once you pick your escort operative in turning point two, Necrons have the crazy movement necessary to kill your escort operative no matter where you hide it. Landon and I both made the right call and took recon, and maxed or nearly maxed our recon tacops.

GH: How were the vibes at the tournament in comparison to our East Coast scenes? Any particularly noteworthy people who made the game a joy to play?

Leander G: The vibe at this tournament was great: all my opponents were friendly and there was no drama I was aware of at the Dallas Open. One opponent that was great to play against was Alex taking Nemesis Claw: we had a very close and enjoyable game that came down to the last roll of the game, which caused me to win.

GH: With so many teams under your tool belt, is there another tournament on the horizon for Heirotek? New releases that got your juices pumping?

Leander G: I’m not sure I will take Heirotek to another GT this season, at least until I have my golden ticket. They have trouble hanging with the tippy-top teams such as Gellerpox and Fellgor. And even Necrons have a good matchup into Pathfinders, it was scarring to play against Pathfinders on open board capture, where you have to stand on objectives till the end of the turn, and they shoot you off the board. I’m thinking I’ll take pathfinders to the next GT.

GH: What else would you like to say to Goonhammer’s readers?

Leander G: I’d like to thank Ben for doing a great job at running Dallas Open: almost every board I played on allowed melee teams to move up the board without being too shooting favored. I’d also like to shout out my podcast, called Woodley Warriors Kill Team. My brother and I are working on an episode about the math behind Kill Team, and are covering topics such as sunk cost and expected value. If you could check that out that would be great!

It seems the meta boogeymen of the Pathfinders have found multiple champions in Dallas. Between Mike and Chris, who had a round 1 mirror match, Dallas it seemed was not prepared to be markerlighted by the best. Chris has been hard at work over the last year building up the Bay Area competitive scene and it seems it’s time for them to shine!

Chris B, and Mike C in a round one mirror match! credit: Marc Garrett, woulditkillyoulift

Chris B, First, Pathfinders, BATS

GH: Congrats on nabbing a golden ticket to this year’s championships! It seems you’re not one to miss the event twice! How’s it feel locking that in?

Chris B: Last year was crammed with weddings and a whole lot of life stuff that made it hard to grab a ticket. I was committed to going back to Atlanta this year and am going to most of the big US events this year. It feels awesome that I managed to pull it off at Dallas, and my team is pretty stoked as well.

GH: We’ve been on-and-off again rivals over the earliest years of Killteam 2021, generally with me being the pilot of the Pathfinders. What caused you to switch over the dark side of the meta?

Chris B: So many great games. We both played our respective teams back in the height of their power – with me eventually going against the pathfinders with novitiates and blooded later. I always thought Pathfinders were strong- even after some of the nerfs- and felt that the post LVO meta was definitely missing pathfinders. I wanted to prove that they still got it.

GH: Are there any particular plays that you are proud of that you care to share? Any pathfinder lines that you found in hard to win situations?

Chris B: My most memorable play was in my second pathfinder mirror match, against Mike. Mike was such a knowledgeable and lovely opponent, and it was such a coincidence we happened to play round 1 day 1, then again in the finals!

It was the top of Turning point 2, and he’d made the first move (with AWC) to kill off my Transpectral Interference Pathfinder and my Assault Grenadier who had +1 APL, except the assault grenadier was in medic range. The Grenadier ignores negative APL modifiers, so even at 1 wound he was able to activate, move forward, and use Reposition to slip through an open door and past engagement range to go into a room, use the fusion grenade to kill a pathfinder on the objective, and then secure it. This move definitely won me the game.

I was put in a series of tough situations, but my most memorable was against Rob’s Mandrakes. The game had originally been going quite well for me, but at one point Rob teleported the last Mandrake away from a flank I was winning over to a flank that was about at a stalemate, and suddenly the game was neck-and-neck again. Lategame shadow portal to strategically reposition is SO GOOD.

GH: Pathfinders can feel like a particularly brutal team when you’re ahead, however they can sometimes start to come apart at the wheels. What sorts of strategic choices have you used to try and mitigate these issues?

Chris B: Pathfinders break down when not at full strength much more dramatically than other teams. They need to work as a team. Often later in the game, the casualty count means I have to switch from killing mode to just trying to score points and hide. Perhaps this was most evident in the Pathfinder mirror matches, where both games led to an endgame with players hiding key operatives on conceal to squeak out those last points.

GH: Over the last year the Bay Area has begun to grow up as a scene. Who has been instrumental in building up the scene? With California being such a large place there must be a laundry list of people to call out!

Chris B: Two of the notable players building the scene are Garrett, from the Berkeley / East Bay area, and John, from Sacramento (hear John on Just Another Killteam Podcast). These two have near single handedly built up their local scenes. A few years ago there was practically no kill team community in the area, and we now have multiple communities that are teaching new players to play and running tournaments.

And absolutely an honorable mention to my great friend Dakota Luster, who is a SoCal guy, but provides great event support, and comes up here to help run larger events.

GH: What else would you like to say to Goonhammer’s readers?

For those of you who are able to make it out to events this year, I can’t wait to see you! So many fantastic events coming up this year, two I’m specifically excited for are the World Team Championships in Belgium, and the All-Valley Team Tournament in Southern California. If you can make it to these events, you definitely should.