Gunum Presents: Hear me out, Cyle! Raising a Champion.

Dark Fists in a World of Iron

Hello everyone! Doing-his-best Angel Gunum here, bringing you another write-up on trying to come up with my own powerful Dark Angel meta, one unit at a time. Also, and maybe even harder, trying to convince my teammate that this idea has some legs to it!

The way I do this, is that I’ll start with a unit that I think has some real Gold-Star potential that you could bring to a competitive event and have a real shot at doing well, and then build a list around it. Hopefully, through my painful and almost methodical thought process, you’ll be able to glean some insight about how even if some units or even ideas are bad, you can still take a battle plan to an event and see it through. These lists will be primarily Dark Angels focused, but I play a wide variety of armies and will explore this format often.

This will be a list run through the filter of my partner in Hog-crime, Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson. Cyle is one of the best — and most boring — players that I know and he has been suffering through my focus on “bad” units throughout our entire friendship. Cyle plays very meta-focused lists, sometimes even trying to craft that meta himself. Ideally, by the end of this I’ll be able to pull him over to my side of thinking and sell my list idea as the new meta-list I know it can be.

++++++Cyle’s Notes++++++

My suffering continues

++++++End Notes++++++

Excellent.

This week the unit I will be trying to focus on is…

~Company Champions~

The List

Hear Me Out Cyle! - Click to expand

Hear me out Cyle! Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition) [112 PL, 15CP, 1,998pts] +++

Brigade Detachment +12CP [112 PL, 15CP, 1,999pts] ++

Battle-forged CP [3CP]

Detachment CP [12CP]

+ HQ +

Asmodai [7 PL, 130pts]: 1. Fury of the Lion, Warlord

Ezekiel [7 PL, 135pts]: 2) Aversion, 6) Mind Wipe

Librarian in Phobos Armour [6 PL, 101pts]: 1) Tenebrous Curse, 2) Hallucination, Camo cloak, Force sword

Lieutenant in Phobos Armor [5 PL, 81pts]

+ Troops +

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts] 
4x Scout (Combat Knife) 
Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Combat knife

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
4x Scout (Combat Knife)
Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Combat knife

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
4x Scout (Combat Knife)
Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Combat knife

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
4x Scout (Combat Knife)
Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Combat knife

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
4x Scout (Shotgun)
Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Sniper-Rifle 

Tactical Squad [5PL, 77pts]
3x Space Marine (Boltgun)
1x Space Marine (Grav-gun)
Tactical Marine Sergeant

+ Elites +

Company Champion [3 PL, 44pts]: Blade of Caliban, Combat shield

Company Champion [3 PL, 44pts]: Blade of Caliban, Combat shield 

Company Champion [3 PL, 44pts]: Blade of Caliban, Combat shield 

Company Veterans [8 PL, 183pts]
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-melta, Thunder hammer
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-melta, Storm shield
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-melta, Storm shield
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-melta, Storm shield
Veteran Sergeant: Combi-melta, Thunder hammer

Company Veterans [8 PL, 163pts]
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-plasma, Thunder hammer
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-plasma, Storm shield
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-plasma, Storm shield
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-plasma, Storm shield
Veteran Sergeant: Combi-plasma, Thunder hammer

Company Veterans [8 PL, 183pts]
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-melta, Thunder hammer
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-melta, Storm shield
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-melta, Storm shield
Space Marine Veteran: Combi-melta, Storm shield
Veteran Sergeant: Combi-melta, Thunder hammer

Deathwing Knights [12 PL, 185pts]
4x Deathwing Knight
1x Knight Master 

+ Fast Attack +

Ravenwing Attack Bike Squad [3 PL, 37pts] 
Ravenwing Attack Bike: Heavy bolter 
Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun

Ravenwing Attack Bike Squad [3 PL, 37pts] 
Ravenwing Attack Bike: Heavy bolter 
Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun
Ravenwing Attack Bike Squad [3 PL, 37pts]
Ravenwing Attack Bike: Heavy bolter
Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun

+ Heavy Support +

Eliminator Squad [3 PL, 72pts]

Eliminator Squad [3 PL, 72pts]

Eliminator Squad [3 PL, 72pts]
+ Dedicated Transport +

Drop Pod [5 PL, 68pts]: Deathwind launcher

Drop Pod [5 PL, 68pts]: Deathwind launcher

Rhino [4 PL, 72pts]: Storm Bolter

 

The Tactics

That’s right! It’s time for some Champions! These things are unique to the Dark Angels codex, and boy do they feel like it! Since they all wear robes of varying degrees, I figured I’d shove as much as I could into that Elite slot and let it ride. Cause they will all be in drop pods.

If Dark Angels are known for anything, it’s their very unique look, whether we are talking about the robes of the Veterans or the bone-white of the Deathwing. This list allows me to showcase a bit of that look and try out the effectiveness of some of those units on the table. One of the units I did not give a lot of credit to in our Stop Competing article was the Deathwing Knights and the Company Champions that are in the book. Let’s look at this pint-sized little Watcher.

Champions, Cyle! The cool thing about them–that made them stand out to me–is that you can take more than one (and even use more than one datasheet, see below) and be able to fill the board with warrior-monks.

The champions using their Swords of Caliban at S7, -3 and D3 damage felt like a great stand out and honestly something I could build around. Using those sweet new drop pod rules, we should able to get our Champs downtown and put the pressure on. With a 5++ invulnerable save, and being able to put 4 attacks, thanks to Shock Assault, if we can get a charge off we will be able to chop down anything from light vehicles to medium infantry units. Finally, and probably more important, he’s a Character so he’s going to be safe from the, surely, light shooting that will be coming his way.

++++++Company Champs certainly are a thing and Dark Angel ones might actually be the best because they are S7. I know they have floated into and out of my lists but they are always the first unit I cut. Using them as Brigade filler isn’t a bad use, if it wasn’t for the fact marines have some of their best stuff in the Elite slots.++++++

Now digging into the rest of the list, we have a couple more stand-outs I could dig into with their own article, but what I want to call out are the Company Veterans, Asmodai, and the Deathwing Knights. When we are looking at these units I’ll be looking to use them as my downtown punch!

No Dark Angels list is complete without plasma guns. Using the Vets we can get a turn one threat to dump a bunch of damage three shooting using Weapons of the Dark Age. The shields are there to absorb any focused or hard-hitting shooting coming in. The real truth is with all the high AP floating around in the game, it’s really hard to take a unit that does not have an option to have an invulnerable save when there is a point investment. Finally, if we are using drop pods, we should be looking for some turn one charge options. Putting thunder hammers into the Veteran units allows us a big threat that will need to be dealt with before we start crashing into their lines. At a minimum of 2 attacks a guy, getting 3 on the charge with TH’s is pretty great. What if they were 4 attacks though!? Well, let me talk about Asmodai real quick.

What a cool guy, huh? Very approachable. Everyone wants to be around him, sometimes skull masks are just the coolest thing. What he brings to this is a warlord who gives me a trait of +1S whenever you charge, become charged or heroically intervene. When I am looking at making a big splash on turn one, having a guy who gives all my thunder hammers and even my Knights +1A, well, that math starts to add up.

After that first wave arrives in their pods and the Company Veterans kills whatever needs a good plasma-ing, then the Deathwing Knights are going to come down on that backfield. As they are one of our only durable heavy hitters, their job is going to be crashing into that back objective that our unfortunate opponent is trying to hold on to. Hopefully, we will be able to use the Knights mixed with the pressure of the drop pod to rush forward and deny Engineer points.

Essentially, this list wants to take up as much space on the table as we can, using Scouts as our screen and midfield, our Eliminators as our backfield and sniper support and using the drop pod anti-tank as our forward assault force.  The plan is to put Zeke, Asmodai, the 3 Champs and a squad of Vets in a pod, and the other pod will have the Vets with plasma along with the Grav-marine unit.

++++++ I do actually like the idea of this list. My list building leans towards board control and having 20+ drops. But pods man? Turn one safety sticks? It’s gonna bite you.++++++

So let us talk about our ITC missions that we can use here. Right now we are looking at Engineers, Recon and an offensive pick like Butchers Bill or Marked for Death. This list can hang back with Scouts to score and will want to be on all parts of the table regardless of the matchup. We have the scouting units, as well as the pod’s deployment to own the table. The Secondary that’s going to be an easy pick for my opponents are going to be Head Hunter, as I’m going to be force-feeding them all the characters they will ever need. The next big pick I can foresee is things like Ground Control or even Old School.  My army is going to hit hard, but it won’t have much in the way of staying power.

++++++ .Head Hunter and Butcher’s Bill will be picked by every opponent and they will be making the correct choice. There isn’t much you can do about that.++++++

++++++ So what would I do with this? And be Dark Angels? Ugh. Dark Angels are bad because they don’t have turn one anti-tank. Nothing has changed. However the new marine book does have some new screening tools. Maybe DA character hammer has some legs.++++++

Champion of UnChasing, click to expand

Dark Angels Battalion
HQ 
Lieutenant In Phobos Armor, Warlord, Trait: Target Priority
Smash Captain

Elite
Invictor, flamer
Invictor, flamer
Invictor, flamer
Company Champ
Company Champ
Company Champ

Fast Attack:
6x Plasma Inceptors

Troops:
5x Intercessors, GL
5x Scouts
5x Scouts

Heavy Support:
3x Eliminators, carbine
3x Eliminators, carbine
3x Eliminators, carbine

Dark Angels Battalion
HQ:
Smash Captain
Smash Captain

Troops:
5x Scouts
5x Scouts
5x Scouts

Assassin

++++++This goes more all in on the character plan. Invictors, setup cautiously, can be a pain to remove, help clear screens, and provide pressure while waiting for the smash caps and champs to make it up the field. It’s hard not to play DA and have a plasma source so the Inteceptors and +1 hit LT are there to help with a heavy target on turn two. The rest of the list grabs the board and digs in.  Also an Assassin because you aren’t real loyalists so you don’t have doctrines to break.++++++

++++++Alternatively, you can really use company champs for their real purpose: Relic Taxes++++++

Champion of UnChasing 2: Relic Dread Boogaloo

Dark Angels Battalion
HQ 
Librarian in Phobos Armor, Lord of Deceit
Gravis Captain, -1 Hit Relic

Elite
Relic Contemptor, 2x Twin Las, Typhoon missiles
Relic Contemptor, 2x Twin Las, Typhoon missiles
Relic Contemptor, 2x Twin Las, Typhoon missiles
Company Champ
Company Champ
Company Champ

Troops:
5x Scouts
5x Scouts
5x Scouts

Heavy Support:
3x Eliminators, carbine
3x Eliminators, carbine
3x Eliminators, carbine

Dark Angels Battalion
HQ:
LT
Techmarine

Elite
6x Aggressors

Troops:
5x Scouts
5x Scouts
5x Scouts

Assassin

++++++This goes all in on three pretty durable anti-tank platforms and asks you to deal with them after getting though Eliminator/Lord of Deceit Deployment shenanigans, and a brick of aggressors being followed around by three Company Champs and maybe a Gravis Captain (depending on if your Contemptors need to shuffle around and keep their rerolls) while the scouts and eliminators grab the board. This also leans into the HQ thing but doesn’t willy-nilly throw all of them away in addition to having some other problematic secondaries with only 3 on Gangbusters and BGH.++++++

I know you feel good just putting those guys in your list at all. Big win for me. Well, more like… a default win. Default, default!

The Field Test

This time around, we are going to try the list out at a small RTT in a great place called Bismark, North Dakota. The midwest has a high focus of competitive-minded people (spoke with some Bias as this is where my team, the Warhogs, got our start). Getting three games in with a list I was genuinely excited about–and getting the opportunity to throw Cyle under the bus three times as he was also attending–was something I was quite enthralled about. So this will be doubling as a…..

Hold on. My first game is against what?

180 Plaguebearers? 

This will be fine. I’m set up with a list that can handle this.

Right? Right?

Billy Payne's Swamp, click to expand

Chaos Daemons Battalion
Pox Bringer
Sloppity Bilepiper
Spoilpox Scrivener

3x 30 Plaguebearers with upgraded flag

Chaos Daemons Battalion
Pox Bringer
Sloppity Bilepiper
Spoilpox Scrivener

3x 30 Plaguebearers with upgraded flag

Chaos Daemons Fortification Detachment
2x Feculent Gnarlmaws

Pre-Game One, Test One:

As is custom, Cyle, how do you think it went?

++++++ So you put him on a clock right?++++++

…Well hold on, lets focus on what I get to really try out! I get to exercise my melee muscles here. I knew it was going to be Reaper and Engineers, but the rest of the game would come down to my Eliminators to deal with his leadership tricks.

++++++I mean, sure. But you grabbed my clock, right? I literally had it in my bag.++++++

Look, I hear you, but have you -seen- the amount of shooting combis can put out when they come down in pods? I can Weapons of the Dark Age the combi-plasma to 2D and rapid fire the bolters right into the zombies heads! Not to mention, the attacks off of my Azmodai buffed Champions and Vets? And don’t you even forget about the Knights!

++++++Whelp.++++++

The Mission

When I first looked at his list, I was thinking that I was more set up for this matchup than I expected. My army does want to be in melee, it does do multiple damages, and power armor can last for a while against plague bearers. We were doing ITC missions 1, 2, and 3 at this event. I knew that he had a strong presence so I was going to have to focus on chopping this big ole Nurgle tree down.

Snipers line up for some first blood action

I locked down the huge first turn. I had a plan, he had no guns, if I could just hang back I’ll start picking off his characters with my snipers and get the job done. Once he loses the leadership buff, this game is mine. As we began, I made my first crucial mistake.

He had 180 models just in troops…….I should ask for a clock. 

++++++OMNISSIAH GRANT ME STRENGTH++++++

Oh well, It should be fine!

My first turn goes as planned, I drop my pods at 19 inches so his run and charge shenanigans can’t pay off. I then move forward with shooting his chars, killing off a Spoilpox Scrivener and on the other end of the table killing off a Sloppity Bilepiper. Now, one thing I found interesting about this, is that it is very alike SOMEONE else’s daemon lists, it did not have the smites and pure mortal wounds that you would expect from such a mud pile. So when my HEROES OF THE IMPERIUM arrived, it was time to dive right in.

The boys are back in town!

So this is when the game really slowed down. I want to lead this by saying it is not my opponents’ fault, but sometimes just the pure weight of dice from attacks, all the way to saves, eats up oodles and oodles of time.

My team crashed into his block of 30 on the left side, the rest of my forces pushing into the brick in the middle.

And there we fought, for the rest of the game, which only got to turn 4.  We had hit 2:30 hours in the middle of 3, but it was the by the grace of our T.O we pushed into turn 4 and finished.

Zombie hordes pushing up the table.

To break down this game, my Champions did their job through the data was a bit skewed as they fought Plague bearer after Plague bearer. Their D3 damage was really making sure each zombie hit stayed down, but it just wasn’t enough. Asmodai and his friends all did exactly what they were supposed to do, punching into the blob of plague bearers and eventually cutting them down to size. But the issue was I couldn’t kill enough, fast enough before they would all just come back from their leadership buffs. Eventually my snipers were covered in bodies and I was no longer able to shoot at his characters to get Kill a Thing for my primary missions.

This game also took 3.15 hours on a 2.5-hour time limit

As the game ground to an end, I lost 17 – 22.

Pre-Game Two, Test Two:

Nick Moran's Angelic Robots

Super Heavy Detachment – Imperial Knights
Knight with Battle Cannon / Gatling
Knight with Gatling / Chainsword
Knight with Fist / Chainsword

Dark Angels Battalion
Sammy in Speeder
Talonmaster
3x Scouts
5x Black Knights

I suppose when it came right down to it. This was fated to happen. Other people -do- play Dark Angels after all. The knights were going to be a problem of course, but this will give me a good chance to see how the combi-melta and the combi-plasma will do when faced with that high shooting output that is provided to his speeders.

Cyle I am sure is a huge fan of this match-up on paper. This guy doesn’t have the screening to stop my pods, I should be able to get my guns on the knights and my snipers should be able to clean up the speeders with some focused fire. Let’s look at the mission.

++++++ You are right this does feel like a winnable match-up…except it’s three objectives and man does he have three big things that want to stand on said objective. I can see picking up a knight with the pods and eliminators, but if you aren’t careful that pod is going to prevent your whole army from shooting at the knights. Also I expect you to melt real bad to Sammy and his Talonmaster. Finally the Black Knights are kind of whatever, but you might be out of gas to deal with them. ++++++

This mission was probably one that I had the best shot at. Mission two gives me the chance to have MUCH more drops then someone, but still have a very high chance of going first. Against his list? I needed to go first. I needed the board position and to use my Phobos Librarian to cast Curse on his knights to keep them back.

We roll off, I get first to turn, totally as planned. He places his objective in the far NW corner, I place mine right in the middle in the south. I deploy with my sniper’s point right down the middle, and among the L blockers, able to threaten every angle I can see.

He deploys his knights about 12″ apart from one another, placing his Gatling gun/Battle Cannon knight in the most NW corner, flanked on both sides by scouts acting as screens. He placed Sammy and the Talon Master together in the center, surrounding them with his Black Knights and the final squad of scouts working as a forward.

One of the reasons not to bring drop pods.

My first turn was, fine. But could have been more potent. I pushed all my forces forward except the snipers, trying to make sure I had shots lined up on knights and Sammy. I brought a pod down on the center objective and another one down on his NE to threaten the knight on the end. In my magic phase, I hit his center knight with that juicy half movement and then moved into my shooting.

My shooting started with Weapons of the Dark Age, overcharged combi-plasma pouring from my Veterans into his flanked knight. That knight, of course, rotated its shields to only take a whopping 9 damage. I then took that as some sort of sign to put my +1 hit +1 wound sniper shots into the knight, dealing 6 more by the time my shooting was done. My front line was my Char blob, setting up to charge the screening scouts. Those scouts were charged by both Asmodai and champions and did not live to swing back through the champion’s attacks. Shock assault, mixed with D3 damage power swords is still pretty scary. Course they were just scouts. I don’t know what I was excited about.

My opponent’s turn was taking over my drop pods with his bikes and his knight. He drove up, shot my infantry into small pieces and then charged the pods to hide from my shooting. His damaged knight came tearing up the middle where all my units were, made a large charge into my center pod where he engaged Ezekiel, a champ and the pod. He swung, killed Ezekiel who swung back with his glorious righteous, with his five attacks, hitting with all thanks to Asmodai, wounding with 4, of which my opponent saved none of, taking 11 whopping damage from his force sword.

Then the knight exploded.

Knight Crusader Exploded. Everyone Died.

When the knight was done creating a tsunami of fire and Dark Angel body parts, Asmodai was dead, Ezekiel was dead, 2 squads of my scouts were dead, 2 champions died and he did 5 to both his Sammy and his Talonmaster.

Brave Scouts Saving the Day

My turn 2, was… Lackluster, to say the least, as everything that could do anything was slag. I was able to finish off Sammy and the Talonmaster with incidental fire. But I never brought it back. My Death Wing knights came into his backfield behind my King Slayer target knight, made their charge but also lost 3 knights in the over-watch. Only to swing at the knight, and miss every attack. They tried so hard, as they were introduced to the latest new dance craze the Knight had been practicing in his bedroom.

I spent the rest of the game running away trying not to get tabled.

Thanks to secondaries on both sides, he picking Recon and never being able to get it, and me picking King Slayer and never being able to touch that knight, it was a low scoring game.

20 -25. Loss.

The Champions could have been such a force multiplier, but you know what they say! All the best lane planes will fall apart when a bomb goes off in your face. I wanted so badly to get them to their strength 8 with Asmodai’s warlord trait nearby, but I just never had a chance.

Pre-Game Three, Test Three:

This game can’t possibly go wrong. The match-up is perfect. The mission is exactly what my army is set up for.  All my ideas will meet full fruition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got the bye.

The Byes Undeniable List

Being Short One Player Detachment – Unaligned 
HQ: Chase being right.

~The Winner~

CYLE, AGAIN.

Okay so. I want to say, I realized going into this that spamming characters isn’t the best idea. Missions like Butcher’s Bill or Head Hunter end up being easy, easy points for my opponent. Not only that, but the characters that I am sending down want to be fighting and in the face of my enemy, conveniently right where they want them to be too. There were three of my teammates playing Iron Hands here, and I can’t imagine trying to charge any of them with my list–it’d be a slaughter.

So what would I fix? I enjoyed the drop pods and the first turn presence. Fighting in the Plaguebearer game gave me a good feel of the damage output of the champions. I would cut the veterans and go for more of a heavy-duty melee presence. Either investing in Terminators and more into DeathWing Knights. I feel like if there is more of a feeling of urgency with my threats, those small 4W men might be able to slip around unnoticed, threatening objectives, and being used as bullies in that way.

++++++It’s a real tough break on 180 plaguebearer guy and losing to the clock and diving right into one of the big problems for DA: Gatekeeping three knights and getting blown up in an explosion. Such is melee character life.++++++

As I said in my last Hear Me Out Cyle, the plan was to go after Cyle and show him how these little men can go the distance when needed. I didn’t come close.

I want to say a quick thank you to the venue for hosting us, as well as the T.O for really trying to build up his local event. I’ll be sure to show up to everything I can! As long as I can make it back from Cyles wedding alive this weekend…

Readers, as it’s said. Third times the charm. I have something I think will work here coming up next, as I start to prep for the Renegade open in November. Don’t think this will be the last time you hear of Company Champions in my lists.

Variety is the spice of life, don’t let a meta lock you down from having a good time. Cyle.

++++I feel personally attacked++++

Good Game.

 

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