Las Vegas Nopen Match 2: Tabletop Titans

An article by    Competitive Play Warhammer 40k        0

The Las Vegas Nopen, taking place on 29th-31st January 2021, is going to bring together some of 40K’s biggest names in a unique tournament to entertain the community and raise some money for charity in these dark times. 16 players will enter the first round of this knockout event, but rather than the winners themselves advancing, the triumphant lists will be passed on to another pair of streamers to clash in the following round. After a blowout weekend of gaming, one list will emerge triumphant from a gauntlet put together by some of the finest minds in 40K – so what will it be?

All of this week, we’re going to be introducing the sixteen first round competitors and taking a look at the creations they’re about to unleash, covering a first round pairing every day. James “One_Wing” Grover will take you through the lists and what makes them tick, then a guest panel from our competitive team will make their predictions about which army they think is going to triumph.

Hopefully yesterday’s first look at a Las Vegas Nopen matchup has got you hungering for more hot previews, and if so we’ve got good news – it’s time to dive into matchup two. Yesterday saw us measuring up two quite different Imperium lists, a brutal hammer of a Sororitas force and a sturdy anvil out of Custodes, and trying to work out whether there would be anything standing once the impact hit.

Matchup two, brought to you by Brian Pullen and Adrian Phillips from Tabletop Titans, producers of epic video battle reports, promises to be a very different affair. Both these lists continue the trend of packing a whole bunch of melee power, but this time both armies are capable of mounting lightning strikes on one another, as the Harlequins of the Frozen Stars face down against the Blood Angels. Will one side find an opening for a knockout blow? Let’s dig into the lists and find out.

How This Works

If you’ve already had the lowdown from the introduction, you can skip straight onto the lists, otherwise click below to expand the details.

Details - Click to Expand

For each of these previews we’re going to be looking at the lists in the same style as the Competitive Innovations series, breaking down what the big highlights are of each list are and then digging in to some of the things they can do on the table. For this special event, I’m also going to take things a bit further – having studied all 16 lists, I’ve rated each out of five on the following criteria:

  • Ranged Power: how much damage the army can do while the opponent is still at arm’s length.
  • Close Quarters: how much damage the army inflicts up close, either via short ranged firepower or melee attacks.
  • Mobility: How effectively the army can manoeuvre around the table.
  • Durability: How much punishment the army can soak up.
  • Tricks: How many tricks and clutch options the army has up its sleeve to turn the game to its advantage.

Bear in mind when looking at these ratings that I’ve done them in the context of the lists in the event, not the wider 40K world – because with the power that our 16 top players are bringing to bear, I’d mostly just be handing out fives otherwise, and there wouldn’t be a one in sight!

Once we’ve been through the two lists, I’ve assembled a panel of Goonhammer’s finest tournament minds to vote on the outcome of each matchup and tell me why. We’ll pick out who we think is going into each game with the upper hand, then come the event itself find out whether they manage to cruise to victory or if we have an upset on the cards.

The panel are:

  • Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson: All-round Imperium fan and currently ranked 7th in the ITC.
  • James “Boon” Kelling: Aeldari mastermind and winner of the Mid-MO Maelstrom GT, currently ranked 13th in the ITC.
  • Shane Watts: Multi-faction mastermind with multiple 9th Edition top-fours. You might have seen his Ork list featured over on Metawatch!
  • Chase “Gunum” Garber: Creator of our “Hear Me Out” series, and a big fan of more unusual lists.
  • Liam “Corrode” Royle: Goonhammer’s editor in chief and TO at Black Heart Wargaming.

Matchup 2 – Adrian Phillips vs. Brian Pullen

Adrian Phillips – Harlequins

The Player

Adrian Phillips is a lifelong wargamer, and was painting as soon as he was old enough to not eat the paint (a lifelong struggle). Much of his Warhammer time has been spent in the competitive scene, and is the captain and cofounder of his ITC team, Feel No Shame.

Best known as a founder and cohost of Tabletop Titans, he is also known for his appalling rolling and incredible scratch built conversion models. While he collects and plays many armies, his heart lies decidedly away from all things Imperial, tending to the Xenos and heretic alike.

The List

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Harlequins) [109 PL, 1,997pts, 10CP] ++
Masque Form: The Frozen Stars: Hysterical Fury
+ Stratagems +
Enigmas of the Black Library (1 Relic) [-1CP] Pivotal Role [-1CP] + HQ +
Shadowseer [6 PL, 115pts, -1CP]: 6: Player of the Twilight, Hallucinogen Grenade Launcher, Miststave, Shield From Harm, Shuriken Pistol, Smite, Stratagem: Pivotal Role, The Shadowstone, Twilight Pathways, Veil of Illusion, Warlord, Webway Dance
Troupe Master [4 PL, 65pts]: Choreographer of War, Harlequin’s Blade, Plasma Grenades, Shuriken Pistol, The Twilight Fang
Troupe Master [4 PL, 76pts]: Choreographer of War, Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Kiss, Plasma Grenades
+ Troops +
Troupe [10 PL, 188pts] . Player: (Harlequin’s Caress, Plasma Grenades, Shuriken Pistol) x8
. Player: (Harlequin’s Blade, Plasma Grenades, Shuriken Pistol) x2
Troupe [10 PL, 188pts] . Player: (Harlequin’s Kiss, Plasma Grenades, Shuriken Pistol) x8
. Player: (Harlequin’s Blade, Plasma Grenades, Shuriken Pistol) x2
Troupe [5 PL, 90pts] . Player: (Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Blade, Plasma Grenades) x4
. Player: Harlequin’s Blade, Plasma Grenades, Shuriken Pistol
Troupe [5 PL, 70pts] . Player: (Harlequin’s Blade, Plasma Grenades, Shuriken Pistol) x5
Troupe [5 PL, 90pts] . Player: (Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Blade, Plasma Grenades) x4
. Player: Harlequin’s Blade, Plasma Grenades, Shuriken Pistol
+ Elites +
Death Jester [3 PL, 50pts]: Humbling Cruelty, Shrieker Cannon
+ Fast Attack +
Skyweavers [15 PL, 275pts] . Skyweaver: (Haywire Cannon, Zephyrglaive) x5
Skyweavers [15 PL, 275pts] . Skyweaver: (Haywire Cannon, Zephyrglaive) x5
Skyweavers [15 PL, 275pts] . Skyweaver: (Haywire Cannon, Zephyrglaive) x5
+ Dedicated Transport +
Starweaver [4 PL, 80pts]: 2x Shuriken Cannon
Starweaver [4 PL, 80pts]: 2x Shuriken Cannon
Starweaver [4 PL, 80pts]: 2x Shuriken Cannon
++ Total: [109 PL, 10CP, 1,997pts] ++

The Highlights

  • A melee-focused Harlequin list that packs both the classic Bikes and Boats alongside some large foot squads to take advantage of the Frozen Stars Masque.
  • Two differently armed big melee squads, allowing them to be pointed at optimal targets.
  • 15 Skyweavers provide some potent, durable ranged options against vehicles and hordes.
  • Lots of the standout character options on display, including the Shadowstone Shadowseer to protect the army, a Twilight Fang troupe master for general murder purposes and a Humbling Cruelty Death Jester to shut off overwatch at key moments.

The Details

Harlequins, by this point, need no introduction – they are one of the dominant forces in the 9th Edition metagame, and came through the recent FAQ with only the slightest knock to their capabilities (losing the ability to Advance with Twilight Pathways, stopping double Prismatic Blur). That leaves them as one of the armies to beat right now and this list shows why – it’s fast, viciously dangerous and, while the units are all quite brittle, very hard to pin down and destroy thanks to the array of tricks it has access to.

Two main builds of Harlequins have been performing in the top tiers – Soaring Spite lists that go all-in on the bike and boat plan (sometimes adding the Yncarne) and then builds like this, which trade out some of the mobile firepower that Soaring Spite get for substantially enhanced melee crunch via Frozen StarsTheir extremely powerful Masque Form (+1A on the charge) and lethal stratagem (+1 to wound against INFANTRY, BIKERS and BEASTS) makes them by far the deadliest Harlequin subfaction in a brawl, and looking across the full set of lists that feels like a pretty shrewd call. You’ll have to wait a few more days to see some of what it’s could come up against, but suffice it to say that the presence of those two foot blocks, which correctly deployed can punt almost any target directly into the sun via Murderous Entrance, is going to be a huge asset in the nightmare thunderdome that this event represents. Packing big foot units also provides you with a greater variety of ways to make use of the fantastic Twilit Encore stratagem, allowing them to cause extreme difficulties if they get among the shooting components of an enemy force. In such an elite event, more opponents are going to be prepared for what the Harlequins can do, but they have so many tricks up their sleeves that it simply isn’t always going to be possible to play around all of them.

Harlequins Troupe Master. Credit: Corrode

It isn’t just on the offence that this list has some options up its sleeve. With so many of the popular ranged threats in the metagame being relatively short ranged, bringing along a Veil of Illusion Shadowseer with a boosted aura radius is extremely powerful, and it’s going to do some real work right out of the gate here, helping hugely in reducing the amount of chip damage the angelus boltguns will rack up over the course of the game. If the list goes through to later rounds there are plenty of other weapons where a 6″ range change makes a massive difference, and it’s an incredibly useful effect for Harlequins all-round. All the while the opponent is trying to line up shots, the Skyweavers can rack up some considerable casualties against vehicles and hordes, though I guess it is worth saying that against armies with neither of those (such as this one) the ranged rating is probably closer to a 2/5 than a 3 – in this game I certainly don’t think it gives them outright supremacy because of the guns being pretty weak against Sanguinary Guard and Inceptors.

Even if an opponent navigates that and manages to hit melee this list can be tough to pin down – if an opponent tries to fight multiple valuable units at once, they risk getting blown out by the combination of Counter Offensive and The Curtain Falls, allowing the Harlequins to take a swing and then immediately fall back, leaving their attackers grasping at empty air.

If this all sounds like a complete nightmare to play against then rest assured, it is, but astute readers may have noticed something a lot of these tricks have in common – they cost a bunch of CP. Harlequins have some of the best stratagems in the game, but a lot of their units do rely on those strats to go fully toe-to-toe with opposing melee forces, meaning they have to ration their CP carefully, and can run dry if they overcommit. They’re helped by having access to the recently buffed Player of Twilight, meaning that if they roll well they’re going to be flooded with more CP than almost anyone else can get, but that’s extremely swingy and can’t be relied on. If the Harlequins pick their battles right they should be able to overcome almost anything, but if they bite off more than they can chew they risk being overwhelmed and ground down on the counterattack.

Brian Pullen – Blood Angels

The Player

Brian is a Warhammer super fan that loves all aspects of this hobby. He’s an avid competitive player that has won multiple GTs and super major events. Because of his obsession he collects and plays over 20 armies.

Brian is best known as a founder and host of Tabletop Titans, a YouTube channel dedicated to playing epic games of 40k live every week. When not rolling 6’s, Brian is also a UX lead working at Google in California.

The List – ABC – Always Be Charging

++ Battalion Detachment (Imperium – Adeptus Astartes – Blood Angels) [108 PL, 7 CommandPoints, 1,995pts] ++

  • Configuration +

Chapter Selection: Blood Angels

+ Stratagems +

Relics of the Chapter [-2 Command Points]: 2x Number of Extra Relics

+ HQ +

Commander Dante [9 PL, 175pts]

Sanguinary Priest [7 PL, -1 Command Points, 135pts]: Astartes Chainsword, Bolt pistol, Chapter Command: Chief Apothecary, Icon of The Angel, Jump Pack, Selfless Healer, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter

+ Troops +

Assault Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 105pts] . 4x Assault Intercessor: 4x Astartes Chainsword, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Heavy Bolt Pistol
. Assault Intercessor Sgt: Heavy Bolt Pistol, Power fist

Assault Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 105pts] . 4x Assault Intercessor: 4x Astartes Chainsword, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Heavy Bolt Pistol
. Assault Intercessor Sgt: Heavy Bolt Pistol, Power fist

Assault Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 95pts] . 4x Assault Intercessor: 4x Astartes Chainsword, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Heavy Bolt Pistol
. Assault Intercessor Sgt: Astartes Chainsword, Heavy Bolt Pistol

+ Elites +

Judiciar [5 PL, -1 Command Points, 85pts]: 5. Gift of Foresight, 6. Selfless Valour, Angel Exemplar, Visage of Death, Warlord

Sanguinary Ancient [7 PL, -1 Command Points, 125pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword, Rites of War, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter, Wrath of Baal

Sanguinary Guard [17 PL, 300pts] . Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword

Sanguinary Guard [17 PL, 270pts] . Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword

Sanguinary Guard [17 PL, 270pts] . Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword

+ Fast Attack +

Inceptor Squad [14 PL, 330pts]: 5x Inceptor, Inceptor Sergeant, Plasma Exterminator x2

++ Total: [108 PL, 7 Command Points, 1,995pts] ++

The Highlights

  • The full might of the Sanguinary Guard flies to war!
  • Superpowered buff characters let the glorious golden host operate at maximum efficiency.
  • A sneaky Judiciar sporting a 6″ Heroic and the ability to shut down ObSec threatens to change the flow of battle at a key moment.
  • Dante-powered Plasma Inceptors provide all the shooting backup you could want.

The Details

In 9th Edition the Blood Angels have fully joined the supplement club, allowing them to combine their unique melee units and specialised force multipliers with powerful rules from the main Marine Codex, and that’s on full show here. 30 elite killers clad in angelic golden armour are flying to war here, and thanks to the Rites of War and Selfless Healer rules they’re going to be both better at staking a claim on objectives and much harder to chew through via attrition alone. Chief Apothecaries have proven to be particularly strong in both Angel themed Marine chapters thanks to them having specialised Apothecaries with mobility options. In Blood Angels, of course, the Sanguinary Priest isn’t just a defensive tool – their Blood Chalice massively soups up one (or optionally two) nearby units each turn, amplifying their already massive damage output and leaving them with very few targets they can’t tear to pieces if they get a chance.

Sanguinary Guard

Sanguinary Guard. Credits: That Gobbo

Helping them to do that, and acting as just a general massive annoyance to the enemy plans, is a tooled up Judiciar. Being able to Heroic up to 6″ thanks to Selfless Valour then force an enemy unit to fight last can throw a massive wrench into an opponent’s plans, and equipping him with the Visage of Death also allows him to be deployed to trump the enemy’s ObSec at a crucial juncture. Close games are very common in 9th Edition, and upsetting the scoring on a single turn can be the difference between victory or defeat, and having tools to do that is a huge advantage when playing at the elite level. Elsewhere among the Characters, the list sports Dante himself, providing both a powerful beatstick and great buffs for the Plasma Inceptors, and a Sanguinary Ancient with the Wrath of Baal standard. This model is going to be a huge help in this matchup, as increasing the movement of the Guard and Inceptors will help bring the list’s mobility closer to the level of the clown menace, and make it much easier for the Plasma Inceptors in particular to find targets through Veil of Illusion.

The last neat thing this list has going for it is just how nasty its Troops are. Assault Intercessors are attractively priced at 19ppm, and with the Blood Angels Chapter Tactic (and Doctrine later in the game) they should be able to trivially overcome any harrassment units that the opponent sends to try and steal objectives (especially the power fist squads), and can push up to secure a mid-board position while the Guard are elsewhere in a pinch. They’re both reasonably tough and surprisingly dangerous, and anyone who underestimates them is going to quickly and bitterly regret it.

Blood Angels are quickly proving to be a real force in competitive play – while on paper some of the things in their book are tuned down from 8th, the exceptiona synergy between their special units and the wider Marine Codex gives them some excellent unique options, and lets you put enormously intimidating armies like this one on the table. Will it be enough to overcome the deadly precision killers of the Harlequins? Let’s move on and ask our panel.

The Panel’s Verdict

So, we’ve gone through these two lists, checked out their strengths, and we know that they’ll be throwing down on the Overrun mission. With all that in mind, who’s going to take the victory?

I put that question to our expert panel, and after some deliberation they’ve come back with a prediction. Click below to find out what it is!

The Panel's Verdict - Click to Expand

By a narrow margin of three votes to two, our panel thinks the Harlequins will take this game. They expect this one to be a real boxing match as the armies dance for position and try to line up a knockout blow. Both are mobile and deadly, but the Harlequins ultimately have the edge in mobility, giving them an opportunity to find an opening to land a killer blow. However, the Blood Angels are significantly more resilient and taking down one of those big Sanguinary Guard squads is no mean feat, so if the Harlequins miscalculate or can’t find an opening then the Blood Angels can potentially launch an overwhelming counter attack. What’s clear is that this is going to test the skill of two players to the full – and one mistake from either side could turn a close run thing into a total rout.

Wrap Up

That’s it for another preview, check back in tomorrow for a look at another pair of lists. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the Las Vegas Nopen website and the gleam contest, and if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, let me know at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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