Las Vegas Nopen Match 6: Art of War

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.

The Las Vegas Nopen is nearly upon us, and come this Friday you’ll be able to watch all the action! Make sure to check out the schedule here and plan out your viewing, as it’s promising to be a great showcase for the competitive game. In addition, if you’ve been enjoying seeing our panel make their predictions, you can now have a go too – head over to the event website to find out more.

With the event rapidly approaching, that means we need to blast through our last three sets of first round preview. Today, we’ll be looking at the first of two previews from the Florida contingent of the Art of War team. If you’re a keen follower of the 40K scene then I strongly suspect AoW need no introduction, as they count within their ranks multiple LVO winners and ITC champions. They produce regular free articles and video battle reports, as well as offering coaching and subscription offerings delivered by some of the very best players in the game right now. Their two games are sure to be absolute masterclasses of high0level play, so let’s dive straight in to the first one.

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 6 – Mark Perry vs. Richard Siegler

Mark Perry – Slaanesh Daemons

The Player

Mark “the Beast” Perry is a foremost expert in aggressive and anti-meta style lists. Rather than playing stock standard meta lists that other top players will be planning to counter, Mark prefers designing lists that are equal measure unexpected and powerful, taking advantage of rules and synergizes that are underexplored and underrated. With a decade of experience under his belt, Mark has spent the last five years honing his craft as a consistent GT and Major winner with 9 GT wins, 3 Major wins, 6 Best Overalls.

The List

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Daemons) [50 PL, 9CP, 975pts] ++
Chaos Allegiance: Slaanesh

  • Stratagems [-1CP] +
    Rewards of Chaos (1 Relic) [-1CP]

+ HQ [24 PL, -2CP, 460pts] +
Keeper of Secrets [12 PL, -1CP, 230pts]: Bewitching Aura, Cacophonic Choir, Exalted Keeper of Secrets [-1CP], Living whip, Soulstealer, Symphony of Pain, Warlord

Keeper of Secrets [12 PL, -1CP, 230pts]: Exalted Keeper of Secrets [-1CP], Hysterical Frenzy, Living whip, Phantasmagoria, The Forbidden Gem

+ Troops [24 PL, 470pts] +
Daemonettes [12 PL, 235pts]: Alluress [7pts], Daemonic Icon [15pts], Instrument of Chaos [10pts], 29x Daemonette [203pts]: 29x Piercing claws

Daemonettes [12 PL, 235pts]: Alluress [7pts], Daemonic Icon [15pts], Instrument of Chaos [10pts], 29x Daemonette [203pts]: 29x Piercing claws

+ Fast Attack [2 PL, 45pts] +
Furies [2 PL, 45pts]: Mark of Slaanesh: 5x Fury [45pts]: 5x Daemonic claws
Furies [2 PL, 45pts]: Mark of Slaanesh: 5x Fury [45pts]: 5x Daemonic claws

++ Patrol Detachment -2CP (Chaos – Daemons) [55 PL, -2CP, 1,024pts] ++
Chaos Allegiance: Slaanesh

+ HQ [25 PL, 470pts] +
Shalaxi Helbane [13 PL, 240pts]: Living whip

Syll’Esske, the Vengeful Allegiance [12 PL, 230pts]

+ Troops [12 PL, 179pts] +
Daemonettes [12 PL, 179pts]: Alluress [7pts], Daemonic Icon [15pts], Instrument of Chaos [10pts], 21x Daemonette [147pts]: 21x Piercing claws

+ Elites [14 PL, 285pts] +
Fiends [14 PL, 285pts]: Blissbringer [2 PL, 45pts]: 6x Fiend [12 PL, 240pts]: 6x Dissecting claws, 6x Vicious barbed tail

+ Fast Attack [4 PL, 90pts] +

Furies [2 PL, 45pts]: Mark of Slaanesh: 5x Fury [45pts]: 5x Daemonic claws

The Highlights

  • A build that takes the tools that have been driving Slaanesh’s success and brings them together to an optimised killing machine.
  • Rolled exaltations for the two vanilla Keepers take advantage of how strong their table is.
  • Hordes of Daemonettes to gum up the board, with a large roving unit of Fiends to trap enemies.
  • Three units of Furies shore up the Action/objective game.

The Details

If you had to pick the army that has most overperformed expectations for 9th I think pure Slaanesh Daemons could make a good claim to the crown. While there were some murmerings of their power in late 8th in the hands of Asa Carlson, I don’t think anyone was ready for just how dominant they’ve proven in 9th, both as “monofaction” builds as seen here and in various Daemon or Chaos Soup lists.

The driving factors behind their breakout success are that 9th Edition’s missions massively reward strong melee armies and that Slaanesh can put together a fight-phase focused list that massively trumps other armies trying to do the same. Fight First is a weird mechanic balance wise, because when it turns up on just a single unit an opponent can trump it with well timed charges, but once it’s army-wide it’s an absolute nightmare to deal with, constricting the number of fronts that they can safely engage on at once, and tilting control of the game firmly towards the Slaanesh player, especially because all of their units are pretty nippy and will be Advancing and Charging.

Obviously for the threat of Fight First to work it requires the units at the Slaanesh end to be powerful, but luckily they very much are. Keepers of Secrets are one of the most efficiently costed big monsters in the game, and benefit massively from their Exaltation table being very strong, meaning that unlike most of the Daemon flavours they can pretty much always afford to just roll and enjoy whichever results they get. They’re fantastic at chewing through the elite units that are popular in the metagame, very tough to one-shot off the table now most Marine characters don’t benefit from their own re-rolls, and mobile enough to get where they need to be even round terrain. Here, bringing along Syll’Esske as a hype daemon makes them even nastier, with re-roll 1s amping up their already considerable output.

Daemonettes of Slaanesh
Daemonettes of Slaanesh. Credit: Richyp

The Keepers are the standout damage dealers, but Daemonettes are no slouches. With the +1S aura from Syll’Esske around, they’re hitting at S4 with a huge volume of attacks, and because they spike up to AP-4 on 6s to wound, they sit in that sweet spot of being able to put real hurt on almost anything. That combines very nicely with coming in large, ObSec units and the Fight First, because it means they can play aggressively when needed, and any time your opponent wants to engage with them they’re taking a real risk. The Aura of Acquiescence strat (-1A to enemies within 3″) also lines up super well with fielding large units, as it steeply increases the number of models the opponent needs to commit to take them out. Given they’re also very cheap per model, it’s no surprise that these form an effective anchor for many Slaanesh lists, and as a final “screw you” to opponents here, Syll’Esske’s morale re-rolls gives a flat 30% chance that a unit suffering casualties will get some back instead of morale causing any issues for them.

The last big offensive unit here is the fiends, here seen in a large block. While they’re yet another extremely effective damage dealer, their real strength is as a gigantic headache for the opponent. Their Soporific Musk ability, especially on such a large unit, allows them to reach out and trap an opposing unit in combat at a key moment, which can then be taken advantage of with swings in the following turn (thanks to Fight First) and/or use of Hysterical Frenzy for an extra swing off something else. A unit this large is going to be able to reliably go into what it needs to and tank the swingback, and may also be able to trap multiple enemy units via pile-in shenanigans – all very nasty stuff.

Filling out, we have three units of Furies. These have been growing more and more popular because of how great they are for Actions – they’re cheap, fast and can be cheaply chucked into Denizens of the Warp if you want to reliably reach into your opponent’s deployment zone for Scramblers. Like many Action units people started using a few units of these once the importance of Scramblers became clear, but just like we saw with the Ork lists their numbers have been on the rise, and that’s only encouraged by the changes to final turn scoring. Here, they let the rest of the army get on with doing what it does best – exactly what you want.

The power of Slaanesh is undeniable, and what we’ve got here really pares it down to the hard core of units that make the faction great. Will it be able to triumph against the ominous hordes arrayed against it though? Let’s take a look.

Richard Siegler – Necrons

The Player

Richard Siegler is perhaps best known for winning the ITC circuit in 2019 in his first season of competing in the 40k tournament scene. In that magical season, he had the great fortune of taking first place at the Las Vegas Open, NOVA Open, Atlanta Open 10k event, and Warzone Atlanta. In that breakout season, he predominantly played the T’au Empire, but he has a love for all things imperium as well as the mechanical factions like Necrons. His affinity for robots and calm demeanor earned him the nickname “The Machine.” and he’ll also be playing as part of Team America when they compete in this year’s World Team Championships.

The List

++ Patrol Detachment -2CP (Necrons) [75 PL, 7CP, 1,550pts] ++

  • Configuration +

Dynasty Choice: Dynasty: Novokh

+ No Force Org Slot +

Bound Creation [2 PL, 40pts]
. Cryptothralls
. . 2x Cryptothrall: 2x Scouring Eye, 2x Scythed Limbs

Dynastic Advisor [4 PL, 80pts]
. Chronomancer: Entropic Lance

+ HQ +

Chronomancer [4 PL, -1CP, 80pts]: Dynastic Heirlooms, Entropic Lance, Relic: Veil of Darkness

Lord [5 PL, -2CP, 100pts]: Dynastic Heirlooms, Rarefied Nobility, Relic: Voltaic Staff, Resurrection Orb, Staff of Light, Warlord Trait (BRB): Inspiring Leader (Aura)

+ Troops +

Necron Warriors [12 PL, 260pts]
. 20x Necron Warrior (Gauss Reaper): 20x Gauss Reaper

Necron Warriors [12 PL, 260pts]
. 20x Necron Warrior (Gauss Reaper): 20x Gauss Reaper

Necron Warriors [12 PL, 260pts]
. 20x Necron Warrior (Gauss Reaper): 20x Gauss Reaper

+ Elites +

Cryptothralls [2 PL, 40pts]
. 2x Cryptothrall: 2x Scouring Eye, 2x Scythed Limbs

Lychguard [14 PL, 280pts]: 10x Lychguard
. Hyperphase Sword and Dispersion Shield

+ Fast Attack +

Canoptek Scarab Swarms [4 PL, 75pts]
. 5x Canoptek Scarab Swarm: 5x Feeder Mandibles

Canoptek Scarab Swarms [4 PL, 75pts]
. 5x Canoptek Scarab Swarm: 5x Feeder Mandibles

++ Supreme Command Detachment +2CP (Necrons) [23 PL, 5CP, 450pts] ++

  • Configuration +

Dynasty Choice: Dynasty: Szarekhan

+ Primarch | Daemon Primarch | Supreme Commander +

The Silent King [23 PL, 3CP, 450pts]
. 2x Triarchal Menhir: 2x Annihilator Beam

++ Total: [98 PL, 12CP, 2,000pts] ++

The Highlights

  • The brutal and numerous legions of the Novokh march to war, with the Silent King watching over them and amping them up to maximum potential.
  • Lychguard provide a hammer unit that’s extremely broadly applicable.
  • Chronomancers keep two of the blocks shields up, while the Lord provides a cheap source of a Resurrection Orb for emergencies.
  • Scarab Swarms and Cryptothralls provide cheap objective holders and can perform Ancient Machineries or (for the thralls) other actions.

The Details

While people are still experimenting with the considerable depth the Necron Codex options, two flavours of list are definitely out in front for competitive play right now: Canoptek Eternal Expansionists and Novokh. This list is a fairly brutal example of the latter. Under the watchful (and extremely force multiplicative) gaze of the Silent King, 70 Novokh infantry march to war, and when they hit there’s going to be some serious bloodshed.

Necron Warriors being affirmitively “back” is one of the big highlights of the new book for many players, and one of the reasons that Novokh is so strong right now is that it provides some of the best support for them. Everyone loves the durability and the vicious firepower of the gauss reaper, getting a point of AP in the first round of combat and (more importantly) being able to juice up to two attacks on demand with Blood Rites completely changes the character of the unit from one that can be easily tied up and tarpitted in melee to one that actually poses some threat. That’s even more true when the Silent King is hovering around, as he’ll be bringing along two turns worth of Protocol of the Hungry Void via his warlord trait and full wound re-rolls in a fight. Units that are active in multiple phases are better than ever in 9th, and Novokh warriors go hard on this. You do still need to watch out for units that can evaporate them in a single swing, but the presence of multiple Chronomancers to keep the front units shielded up helps reduce the number of things that can reliably pull that off (and a swing and miss is often a disaster for the opponent). 60 of them is a huge flex, and immediately puts some armies on the back foot in planning out how to deal with them.

Even with the boosts from Novokh, or course, some targets are going to be a bit too crunchy for Warriors to take on in melee, and when that arises, the Lychguard step in. These looked a little bit innocuous straight out of the book, but it turns out the full combination of what they can do is incredibly effective. With access to both Blood Rites and Eternal Protectors if they’re near the Lord, this unit can crank as high as 50 attacks that start at S6 AP-4 on the charge, and you can crank that S as high as 8 in a pinch too, and as a CORE unit they’ll get wound re-rolls from the Silent King. Just like with Vanguard Veterans, when you can get enough powerful D1 attacks coming out of the same unit it starts to look extremely strong, as there’s very few things in the game that won’t crumple to it. They’re also tough – not ridiculously so but it’s still 20 T5 wounds with a 2+/4++ to chew through, and reanimation to boot. I’m a big fan of Novokh myself, and I basically will not leave home without this block in my army right now, and expect to see them getting up to some real mischief.

Necron Warriors
Necron Warriors. Credit: Pendulin

Moving on to the objective play units, we’ve got two units each of Cryptothralls and Scarabs. Cryptothralls are all-stars that every Necron player should own at least two units of – they’re cheap to both put in your list and Strat Reserve, can perform both normal actions and the Necron-specific Ancient Machineries one, and are surprisingly durable for their cost, especially if they’re sitting in cover somewhere. Necrons tend to want to pack large, expensive units, so having some small, expendable things to screen out the backfield or sit on objectives is a massive gift, and these are one of the most important units in the book. Scarabs are also pretty efficient in this role with the additional upside of being very nippy, allowing them to move reactively onto objectives as needed (especially under the new T5 scoring). It’s also notable that, while they’re not INFANTRY, the aforementioned Ancient Machineries objective can be scored by Canoptek units, which makes it an appealing alternative to Scramblers in games with nearby mid-board objectives against opponents that can screen you out. They’re also not completely puny as Novokh, as they’ll push through at least enough auto-wounds when they swing to trouble something like enemy Servitors, always appealing in a harrassment unit (plus they have the threat of using Self-Destruction to drop some mortals). Thanks to these cheap units, this list comes loaded for effective mission play.

Finally, the Silent King. What an all-star – deadly at range, deadly in a fight (and messing with opposing plans via Obeisance Generators) and a huge force multiplier, there’s a whole bunch to like about the supreme commander of the dynasties, and with so many lists skewing their threats towards the fight phase, he’s got the potential to really clean up in this tournament. Being shot to bits is his one real weakess (and even then people tend to forget he can hide behind Obscuring), and that’s not going to come up in that many of these games, making him look even more potent than he normally does. Will he lead the Novokh legions to victory in their first test though? Let’s 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?

The panel have once again weighed in, so click below to see their verdict.

The Panel's Verdict - Click to Expand

As befits such a clash of titans, this one was close, with Necrons edging to the pick by a margin of three votes to two. The big factor here is that the Slaanesh list is short of ways to reach out and kill the Silent King, meaning that they’re going to be dealing with buffed up Novokh units for a substantial portion of the game. With both the shooting and the melee well positioned to carve through Daemonettes, the Novokh legions have a shot at conquering the board and rolling on to the win from there, as the other Slaanesh threats aren’t was well equipped to take out the Warriors. That’s by no means a sure-run thing though – full Daemonette units do, as long as they’re in Syll’Esske’s buff, have the volume of attacks to evaporate a warrior blob outright, and that kind of only needs to happen once for this game to turn on its head.

The potential big obstacle to that is that, especially with the Silent King around, the Overwatch from a big warrior squad is going to be pretty devastating, and might take the Daemons below the threshold to pull that off, though by charging with a Keeper first that can be mitigated. With the Silent King also able to “bank” Protocol of the Conquering Tyrant for an emergency turn of Fall Back and shoot (and the Veil of Darkness giving another route to that) it just about feels like the Necrons can endure the Slaanesh onslaught and triumph – but the forces of Chaos still have a whole bunch of (upsettingly pointy) angles to make the game theirs.

Wrap Up

Two reveals remain, so make sure to check back in over the next couple of days for the final previews. 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