Gunum Presents: In the shadow of greatness, an interview with Ryan Olson- The Renegade Open Champion.

Between Two Turns

Hello everyone, Chase “Gunum” Garber here and I am bringing to you a work of personal pride for me, an interview with the winner of The Renegade Open, Ryan Olson.

The Renegade Open is a Major level gaming event held between November 22nd and 24th this year. They offer over 21 different events, such as 40k, AOS, Bolt Action, Infinity, Batman Miniatures, X-Wing, Kings of War, and other events. You can find more information about them here

As you may recall about my team, the Warhogs, we have a strong presence in the midwest and we were out in force at Renegade. Of our team, we had four players finish in the top 20, including the event’s grand champion. The 40k tournament drew big names from all over the area, ranging from some names you might recognize from previous articles such as Andrew Gonyo and Justin Curtis. Fellow Goonhammer writer Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson was there, as well as fellow ITC heavy hitter Aaron Aleong. The field here was full of tough lists and parlous matchups, with a top 10 finishers list that saw 6 Adeptus Astartes armies, 1 Slanneshi Daemons list, 1 Aeldari, 1 Chaos Knights and 1 Chaos undivided list.

Enough about all that side stuff though! Let’s cut to the heart of the matter – the Man of the Hour, the Red-Headed Wonder, the Man of Iron, the Top Hog:  Ryan Olson.


Ryan's Renegade Open List, click to expand

+++Space Marines Brigade Detachment (1,999 points, 12 CP)+++
Iron Hands Successors – Stealthy, Master Artisans

HQ: Captain w/Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield, Warlord
HQ: Lieutenant
HQ: Primaris Librarian

Troops: Intercessors x5 w/Stalker Bolt Rifle
Troops: Intercessors x5 w/Stalker Bolt Rifle
Troops: Intercessors x5 w/Stalker Bolt Rifle
Troops: Intercessors x5 w/Stalker Bolt Rifle
Troops: Scouts x5 w/Boltgun
Troops: Scouts x5 w/Boltgun

EL: Invictor Tactical Warsuit w/Twin ironhail autocannon
EL: Invictor Tactical Warsuit w/Twin ironhail autocannon
EL: Invictor Tactical Warsuit w/Twin ironhail autocannon
EL: Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin autocannon, twin lascannon

FA: Suppressor Squad
FA: Suppressor Squad
FA: Suppressor Squad

HS: Devastator Squad x5 w/Grav-Cannon and grav-amp
HS: Thunderfire Cannon
HS: Thunderfire Cannon

DT: Drop Pod


The Pig Pen

Chase: Okay Ryan, let’s get right into it. Who are you, how long have you been playing, and how would you describe your playstyle for 40k? 

Hey there, glad to be here chatting with Chase, always a pleasure. I’ve been playing Warhammer since ~2001 when I started playing High Elves in 6th edition fantasy. I got into 40k in 2012 after finishing college, and have been playing competitively since 2014. My 40k playstyle is usually to go for combin[ing] heavy shooting efficiency with fast movement, playing to cripple the opponent first and score the mission late. As such, I’ve been an Eldar player for the majority of my competitive career aside from a few dalliances with Space Marines.

Talking about the event, what kind of preparation do you normally do to get ready for a GT like this? 

I am absolutely the worst with event prep unless it is a team format, in which case I never want to let my teammates down, so I go hard. I don’t play games outside of events at all anymore, and I usually don’t finalize what I’m playing until the last minute, at which point I paint like a fiend while doing some studying/refreshing of the rules for whatever I decide to play. With the lack of practice, I heavily utilize intel and chat from both my Warhogs friends and a few others on different teams. Between you and Cyle the Hogs are obviously well known here, but I also want to give a big shout out to Elliott Levy, Steven Pampreen, and Stephen Burris who all listen to me endlessly list spiral before every event.

When you are list building, do you take ITC missions into account or are you more focused on how the list plays? 

I like to initially build lists that have the elements that fit my shooting/movement play style, and then tweak from there to game ITC missions as needed. For Renegade, in particular, I wanted to focus on playing something that had more board presence, counter-assault and could use the L blocker terrain format to go second when needed. This was a big change for me as I had been running pure shooting Eldar flyers/tanks previously. The advent of Marines really took away their defense of hit modifiers and I didn’t feel comfortable going second with that list anymore. Hence the switch to Marines. The Iron Hands successor brigade brought all the new elements I was looking for while still maintaining the hyper-efficient shooting I love to play.

What in this list do you feel was your standout unit? Were there things that underperformed? 

The character Venerable Dread was the best unit in the army, bar none. [It was] beyond consistent in its role, and was never touched. After that the grav pod, smash Captain, and Teeth of Terra LT were all absolute monsters. Nothing particularly underwhelmed as everything performed admirably, but if I was forced to pick I’d probably say the Primaris Librarian as he had a handful of games doing essentially nothing.

The character venerable dread was the best unit in the army, bar none.

In what round on the first day, did you feel the most pressure? 

Definitely round 3 of day 1, I was playing Max Schuchard’s Tau. 3 Riptides, 3 Broadsides, all the drones. Deploy first go first mission, so I’m worried about going second in the wrong deployment and just getting shot off the table. This was the ONLY game all tournament that I won (in this case “lost”) the pregame roll off and got to choose turn order, and also the only game I went first. That took a lot of pressure off as it meant I got the initial turn of chewing through drones out of the way at full strength, and let me use my Invictors to pressure early and grab the bonus turn 1.

So here we are, it’s day two and you’re staring at a mirror match with Corey Spaith’s Space Marines. I always find the day two build-up to be pretty hard, especially when pairings are up and you have a chance to look over your opponent’s army. Did you do any pre-game planning?

Knowing I was matched up with Corey actually made the night before far more relaxing as I didn’t super need to prep. Just think about how my own list plays, what I’m afraid of/would pick against it, and go from there. I liked my chances going first or second as the grav-pod gives me one different heavy-hitting element that Corey’s list didn’t have, but I knew it was going to be a bloody slog regardless.

Were there any standouts in this game? Getting the fourth win in a row I feel like is a great feeling and helps push into the challenge of round five. 

My characters were definitely the standouts for this game. I was slightly on the back foot in the kill trades through the first 1.5 turns, but all 3 of my HQs were able to dive into his lines and put in work, including locking down the Leviathan for 1 round of shooting which is what I needed to tilt the game back very very slightly in my favor.

Okay. Round five. You were playing one table down from me on the same row. I was also in the event, playing my Dark Angels, and I was doing my best to try and finish 4 – 2. I’m giving the business to my opponent, and I look over and there’s Ryan, a Drop Pod deployed and beads of sweat forming on his brow. Can you break down your round 5? What was the final gatekeeper before the finals pressuring you with?  

Round 5 was absolutely terrifying. I was going second against the killing power of Scott Blegen’s 8 Eldar flyers + 60 Wracks for board presence. I took it on the chin turn 1 as all three of my Invictors died. The first exploded in my lines, so I CP rerolled to prevent it. Then the 2nd Invictor died and also exploded, and chipped wounds off of all my characters. I was definitely sweating at this point. Thankfully, I was able to make up for it by taking out 4 planes between the grav bomb, character dread, and hammer Captain, with just a bit of chipping from my other shooting. This was enough to sufficiently limit the damage back on his 2. Suppressors came in as a second wave and combined with the dread to drop another two planes while my Intercessors started diving into Wracks in close combat on the middle objective. At this point, I had neutered Scott’s killing power enough that I could just clean up. The 2 waves of shooting from reserve proved key. Oddly, this was the only matchup I actually deep struck the Suppressors; they were able to hide on the table in every other game. 

Round 5 was absolutely terrifying. I was going second against the killing power of Scott Blegen’s 8 Eldar flyers + 60 Wracks for board presence.

So there we were. Together. Ryan sitting at 5-0, Chase at 3-2, standing as equals in the Hog-dom. Both on the brink of achieving their own individual, equally valid, goals. When you saw the match-up for game six, how did you feel? What were you the most worried about? 

I was terrified of their killing power – Scott Pockat’s list was absolutely tuned to kill Marines. 2 damage or more everywhere, the crazy buffs Chaos Knights can get to their shooting, etc. I was mostly worried about having enough of my own killing power to trade units efficiently, as autocannons can be really swingy against T8 even with Artisans/LT rerolls.

I was terrified of their killing power – Scott Pockat’s list was absolutely tuned to kill Marines.

As a finalist, you were also on stream for this big game. Before we actually talk about the game itself, how did you feel about being on stream? (Run by the wonderful Jason Horn of the Iron Halo) Do you think there are any pressures associated with that which could affect your game? The internet tends to be a bit critical in “The Chat.” Did those kinds of things help or hurt your game at all? 

I actually wasn’t worried about the stream aspect at all. I’d played on stream a few times prior so I have experience with it and I’m not worried at all about what “The Chat” has to say. I always try to pride myself on playing clean and friendly 40k, so no concerns with any of those aspects either.

Ryan’s Iron Marines army. Credit: Ryan Olson

Tell us about the game! Let’s get into the meat. Even though this game was recorded, I really want to dig into the choices you made throughout the game. Was side selection or the map a huge thing for you? 

Side selection/map/mission actually ended up being a massive boon to me this game. 4 objectives with one being priority to move and defend, and square corners deployment. That combination actually gave me 4 fairly sure points as it let me pull my priority objective back so it was partially under a “magic box” at which point I could hide in there and play Engineers as a secondary. That plus the usual Kingslayer/Titanslayer combo put me in a great spot as my own list can be a bear to score secondaries against, and I was essentially guaranteed 12 points unless something went horribly wrong. The priority objective aspect also gave me play to get the bonus as it’s really hard for the Knights to lock down all the objectives.

Side selection/map/mission actually ended up being a massive boon to me this game.

Did you feel out of the game at all? When did you feel the game start to really swing in your direction? 

Scott had turn 1, and it was a pretty standard beating, similar to what I had taken vs the 8 Eldar planes – [I lost] all the Invictors, plus some chaff. I absolutely had to give up some chaff to charges in order to wall off the Knight movement as a Chaos Knight can go something like 40” in a turn, which would have been all the way into my backfield. This left me fighting uphill again, but I was cautiously optimistic about my chances. I was able to trade back 2 big Knights on my turn 1 between my shooting (grav bomb was amazing, even after I failed Null Zone on its target) and the hammer Captain, who aced his rolls (this will become a theme) against the Knight Rampager to do 16 wounds and kill it.

I was still up against it at this point though as one of the Moirax Armigers had shots on my Captain who had 2 wounds left, with him being my only real heavy threat to go kill another Knight. I believe this was my one big mistake of the game – I could have piled in or consolidated more effectively with my Intercessors and characters to screen. But I believe the Captain made four or five 3++ saves there to survive, again clutching his roll and keeping me alive in the game. At this point, I felt like things were back in my court as he could go into another big Knight, and hopefully start to get me the bonus point. 

The only concern was surviving full re-roll Overwatch to get there. I ended up sending 2 Suppressors forward to eat the Overwatch, which they did with only 1 dying. I then failed the charge while sitting on 3 CP. This left me with the choice between keeping 3 CP to double fight but forcing the Captain to eat Overwatch, or re-rolling the Suppressors’ charge to try and get the Captain in safely. In the end, I decided they had to make it and fight on death for 2 CP was enough for the Captain. Luckily I got the roll I needed for the Suppressors, and then the Captain got in and absolutely went to town again, 6 hits, 6 wounds, 5 failed saves for the 20 wounds needed to down the Knight. Thankfully luck was on my side and the Captain single-handedly willed me through this game.

At this point it was effectively game based on the killing power we each had and the board state which would allow me a guaranteed 3 points for hold/hold more/bonus from that point forward. Scott played it out perfectly from there to get points, bouncing in and out of combat with the drop pod while shooting but it just wasn’t enough. 

With that, it’s all over. Even with victory in your rearview mirror, was there anything you would have done differently? Anything in your list you’ll be changing? 

Locking in the scores at the end was probably the only time I actually relaxed and breathed on day 2, and it took a while for it to sink in. Going forward the only minor change to the list I see is the loadout on the Venerable Dread, as the twin autocannon is an index option which will [probably] be going with Legends, but who knows if I’ll come up with some other changes after Chapter Approved 2019 or other Marine releases. As for what I could have done better, I think some of my character positioning and combat pile-ins/consolidate moves were really sloppy at times, so I need to tighten up to avoid being punished harder for it. 

Now that you’re the Champion of a Major, What’s next? Have you been approached by GW to be molded into a Space Marine? What can I do to be as cool and good as you are? 

LVO is next, so hopefully, I can carry some good momentum into there. I might play in an RTT between now and then to get a little tune-up in, but we will see. As for getting cooler and better? I have only one thing and this is a pro tip for you alone Chase: Regular Marines > Dark Angels, ha. Hopefully, CA will give you some nice points drops though and expand the DA toolbox.

The End of a Journey

I want to say a huge thank you for taking the time to be lambasted by my questions. We’ve fought side by side, getting 2nd in the ATC Tourney of 2018 and have been teammates for years. I think it’s been a while since you had a big win in your pocket and I’m really proud of you! Any last words for the people of the internet? 

Thanks, Chase, the support from you and the rest of the team means a lot, and I’ve been grinding for a long time waiting for a Major win. I can’t wait to see everyone, both teammates and from the 40k community at large, again at LVO and see what 2020 brings for the game. 

That’s it, people. Thanks for swinging by and taking the time to read the thoughts of a top tier player being asked questions by a Dark Angel player.  As always, if you have any comments questions or concerns, or just want to reach out and talk to us about how awesome Ryan is. You can reach out to us at

Good Game.