Las Vegas Nopen Match 8: Hellstorm Wargaming

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.

We’ve been round the world as we’ve toured through the lists, but after all that we’re ending up where we began – in the grey, rainy United Kingdom. Luckily things aren’t all dreary here (just mostly) and one thing we’ve all got to look forward to is the final first round matchup for the Las Vegas Nopen. This time, the show is being put on by the fine folks at Hellstorm Wargaming. The home of the #SMALLBOARDGANG, Hellstorm bring you video battle reports and a whole host of other content, including your weekly spicy Sunday morning take in the form of Coffee Time. They know how to put on a great show, and they’ve lined up some fantastic lists for us which we’ll look at in just a second.

We’re obviously now only days away from the Las Vegas Nopen kicking off, so make sure you check out the schedule and make sure you’re ready to tune in on Friday. If you’ve been enjoying these previews, and want to see if you can outperform our panel at predicting the results, you can see all of the army lists and submit your own bracket predictions here. The weekend promises to be a fantastic 40K showcase, so make sure you don’t miss out. With that out the way, on to our final pair of lists!

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 8 – Mikey Herbert vs. Tank Roberts

Mikey Herbert – Blood Angels

The Player

Some know him as the King of the #SMALLBOARDGANG, others know him as the leader of the Death Guard Gaming Group. With absolutely 0 Deaths in Warhammer, Mikey is something of a master tactician when it comes to his Blood Ravens – by playing them as literally any chapter that is good that week.

A big strapping lad from northern England, boasting AT LEAST 50 Subscribers on his YouTube Channel – Hellstorm Wargaming, Mikey is no stranger to heated battles (on the tabletop, or just the internet). Whether that’s scoring ‘A Place’ in the Las Vegas Open 2020, or defending his ‘cLiCkBaTe’ titles in the comments section.

He is a __ to be reckoned with.

The List

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Adeptus Astartes – Blood Angels) [110 PL, 1,996pts, 8CP] ++

  • Stratagems +

. Relics of the Chapter [-2CP]: 2x Number of Extra Relics
. Hero of the Chapter(extra Warlord) -1CP
. Angel Exemplar (Second Warlord Trait) -1cp

+ HQ +

Captain [6 PL, 140pts]: Thunder hammer, Stormshield, Jumppack WARLORD
WLT: The Imperium’s Sword
Angel Exemplar: Gift of Foresight
Relic: Hammer of Baal

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

The Sanguinor [9 PL, 150pts]

+ Troops +

Incursor Squad [5 PL, 105pts]
. 4x Incursor/ Sergeant: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Occulus bolt carbine, 4x Paired combat blades

Incursor Squad [5 PL, 105pts]
. 4x Incursor/ Sergeant: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Occulus bolt carbine, 4x Paired combat blades

Tactical Squad [5 PL, 105pts]
. 3x Space Marine / Sergeant: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, Chainsword
. Space Marine w/Heavy Weapon: Lascannon

+ Elites +

3 x Bladeguard Veteran Squad [5 PL, 105pts]
Heavy Bolt Pistol, Master-crafted power sword, Storm Shield

6 x Death Company Marines [15 PL, 189pts]: Jump Pack
. DC Marine: Thunder hammer x 3
. DC Marine: Bolt pistol and chainsword x3

Redemptor Dreadnought [9 PL, 180pts]: 2x Storm Bolters, Macro Plasma Incinerator, Onslaught Gatling Cannon

Sanguinary Ancient [7 PL, 125pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword,
Relic: Wrath of Baal

8 x Sanguinary Guard [17 PL, 250pts]
. SG: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword x 6
. SG: Angelus boltgun, Power fist x 2

5x Vanguard Veteran Squad [7 PL, 147pts]: Jump Pack
. VV: Lightning Claw, Storm shield x 4
. Sergeant: Relic blade, Storm shield

+ Heavy Support +

Eradicator Squad [6 PL, 135pts]: Melta rifle

+ Dedicated Transport +

Impulsor [7 PL, 125pts]: 2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome

Total: [110 PL, 8CP, 1,996pts]

The Highlights

  • A more flexible iteration of Blood Angels than we saw last week, dialing back the extreme melee brutality for more shooting and board control.
  • Incursors help control the board against opposing infiltrators.
  • Death Company and Eradicators provide some surgical threats.
  • Redemptor can flex between a bully piece and a backline guardian as the game requires.

The Details

Thanks to how potent their Chapter Tactic is, there are quite a few valid ways you can take a Blood Angels list, and Mikey’s army here shows off a very different flavour to the all-in golden host we saw last week. While still packing some terrifying jet pack melee in the form of the Sanguinary Guard, Vanguard and Death Company, this list goes a bit wider and packs a few more surgical threats to go with its alpha units. One of the nice things about Eradicators, the first of these, is that even after their point increase a single unit is a pretty cost-effective way to give your opponent headaches, because the damage output is there to just pop a tank or monster outright, and has to be planned round accordingly. Meanwhile, Redemptor Dreadnoughts have gone from being a joke for most of 8th to being all-stars in 9th, with their macro-plasma incinerator now a weapon to be truly feared, and especially strong at picking up a few enemy Inceptors when the ranged playing field needs to be levelled. Having one about also gives Mikey access to Wisdom of the Ancients, letting him access an Lt. aura on demand (which his list otherwise lacks) or spread a captain aura out if he’s busy murdering something elsewhere.

Blood Angels Redemptor Dreadnought
Blood Angels Redemptor Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

It’s not just ranged threats where Mikey has diversified, you see. One of the things Blood Angels are notorious for is herohammer, and that’s something that this list exploits through two models – the Captain and the Sanguinor. The Captain is merely amped up to be about as nasty as you can make one, sporting the always excellent Imperium’s Sword Warlord Trait alongside the Hammer of Baal and Gift of Foresight to make him a reliable heavy hitter. Whether a monster needs a stern talking to or a whole squad of elite troops needs to be scattered like skittles, this bad boy is available to get it done. The Sanguinor is a bit more of a subtle tool, but should prove extremely valuable in the melee-heavy environment this list is being thrust into. His unique ability to just straight up appear in combat is something opponents will need to plan round all the way to turn three, and his ability to do that then draw aggro with Angel’s Sacrifice can save one of the other key units, allowing them to punch back with extreme force. A 150pt model isn’t something to be thrown away lightly, but if it means that an opposing monster ends up stuck in combat with 250pts of Sanguinary Guard that they hadn’t planned for, it can be well worth it. It can also badly mess with the pile-in plans of opposing horde melee units – and wouldn’t you know, there are plenty of those around too.

Rounding out the list, we have some board control in the form of Incursors and a backline Tactical Squad, and then a reactive battle bus carrying a Bladeguard unit. Three might not seem like many, but with the Red Thirst and (later) Savage Echoes amplifying their output, they’re likely to significantly outclass other units in their weight class, and they and the Impulsor that’s carrying them can split up to occupy forward objectives, especially handy in Domination scoring missions like the first round.

This list shows off the power of Blood Angels very effectively – because of just how much better they are in melee than everyone else at base rate, you can afford to diversify your units quite a bit without losing the ability to dominate the fight phase. They also have access to several ways to create big headaches and punish overextension, with the Sanguinor and the Death Company (who an opponent needs to plan for a potential Forlorn Fury from) carrying that banner here. Flexibility is very strong in 9th, and this list has it in spades, and it’ll be interesting to see how it performs against a similarly adaptable list on the other side.

Tank Roberts – Imperium

The Player

Tank Roberts is a former rugby player based out of Manchester, England. Aside from being a Warhammer fanatic he is a business owner and has a second socially stigmatised hobby as a keen hunter.

Tank is a self proclaimed Space Wolf player with some Tau tendencies, but through hobby ADD and a problem with impulse buying new armies you’ll generally find him using a different army every month.

He has competed internationally at a number of Majors and Super Majors but is not a world class player by any means, generally being a 3-2 or 4-1 kind of guy. However by being in the right place at the right time, and some lucky twists of fate he has found himself in the privileged position of playing Warhammer on YouTube and helping cover events with Hellstorm Wargaming.

The List – The Emperor’s Allstars

++ Battalion Detachment  0CP (Imperium – Adepta Sororitas) [61 PL, 0CP, 1,088pts] ++

Order Convictions: Order: Bloody Rose

+ HQ [6 PL, -2CP, 100pts] +

Canoness [3 PL, 50pts]: Bolt pistol, Chainsword, Null Rod, Relic: Litanies of Faith, Warlord, Warlord Trait: 4. Beacon of Faith

Missionary [3PL, 45pts]

+ Troops [12 PL, 165pts] +
Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts]: 4x Battle Sister [44pts]: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, Sister Superior [11pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts]: 4x Battle Sister [44pts]: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, Sister Superior [11pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts]: 4x Battle Sister [44pts]: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, Sister Superior [11pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword

+ Elites [14 PL, 308pts] +
Death Cult Assassins [1 PL, 26pts]: 2x Death Cult Assassins [26pts]: 2x Death Cult power blades

Death Cult Assassins [1 PL, 26pts]: 2x Death Cult Assassins [26pts]: 2x Death Cult power blades

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 128pts]: 8x Sisters Repentia [128pts]: 8x Penitent Eviscerator

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 128pts]: 8x Sisters Repentia [128pts]: 8x Penitent Eviscerator

+ Heavy Support [21 PL, 360pts] +
Retributor Squad [7 PL, 120pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub [10pts], 2x Retributor [28pts]: 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Boltgun, 2x Frag & Krak grenades, Retributor Superior [14pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon [34pts]: Multi-melta [20pts]
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon [34pts]: Multi-melta [20pts]

Retributor Squad [7 PL, 120pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub [10pts], 2x Retributor [28pts]: 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Boltgun, 2x Frag & Krak grenades, Retributor Superior [14pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon [34pts]: Multi-melta [20pts]
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon [34pts]: Multi-melta [20pts]

Retributor Squad [7 PL, 120pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub [10pts], 2x Retributor [28pts]: 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Boltgun, 2x Frag & Krak grenades, Retributor Superior [14pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon [34pts]: Multi-melta [20pts]
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon [34pts]: Multi-melta [20pts]

+ Dedicated Transport [8 PL, 160pts] +
Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 80pts]
Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 80pts]

++ Patrol Detachment -2CP (Imperium – Adeptus Custodes) [41 PL, -5CP, 912pts] ++
Shield Host: Shadowkeepers

+ HQ [19 PL, -2CP, 368pts] +

Captain-General Trajann Valoris [10 PL, 190pts]

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike [9 PL, -2CP, 178pts]: Auric Aquilas [-1CP], Captain-Commander [-1CP], Hurricane Bolter, Indomitable Constitution, Misericordia [3pts], Superior Creation, Ten Thousand Heroes [-1CP]

+ Troops [22 PL, 544pts] +

Custodian Guard Squad [11 PL, 275pts]: 5x Custodian [225pts]: 5 Misericordia [15pts], Sentinel Blade [10pts], Storm Shield [25pts]

Custodian Guard Squad [11 PL, 269pts]: 5x Custodian [225pts]: 3 Misericordia [9pts] Sentinel Blade [10pts], Storm Shield [25pts]

2000pts, 7CP

The Highlights

  • A classic hammer and anvil list to finish us up, with a rock solid core of storm shield Custodians holding the line for Sororitas damage dealers.
  • Retributors save on points by configuring for pure alpha strike mode, leaning on cherubs for their first volley.
  • Death Cult Assassins provide great Strat Reserve Action units.
  • Shield Captain provides a roving ObSec nasty to push onto and steal objectives.

The Details

We’ve been through 15 epic lists on the way here and now as we come to the final one we end up almost where we started – with Sisters and Custodes on the table. This time they aren’t fighting one another, however – they’ve teamed up to bring the light of the Emperor to as many Heretics and Xenos as possible. Also the Blood Angels I guess, but let’s just go with it.

What a spicy combo it is, as well. Sisters excel at spike damage (both at range and in melee) and providing cheap units to occupy the board, but while they can put together a durable core, it’s the kind that just takes a while to die rather than absorbing a punch and throwing the foe back. Two five-model units of storm shield custodians is a very different matter – packing a 1+/3++ save, and able to be defended by all the exceptional stratagems in the Custodes and Shadowkeeper arsenal, they are an ObSec rock on which even some of the horrific melee units we’ve seen throughout these previews will break, and their swingback (combined with Repentia popping in to help) will make a nasty mess of many a foe. With Trajan overseeing them they’re very reliable melee killers, and the Captain General is, of course, no slouch in a fight himself.

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

With that redoubtable anchor in place, the rest of the army can focus on doing what it does best – murdering stuff. Repentia have one of the nastiest charges in the game, being able to slaughter well above their price tag’s worth of enemies if they get the drop on them, and with Rhinos to get them into position (or the option of an auto-charge from Strategic Reserves) they’ll be difficult to dodge. Retributors can do a similar thing at range, and here Tank has gone for the cheeky two melta two cherub configuration. This brings the costs of the unit down, but means that the first time you unleash each squad they still get four multi-meltas worth of shooting, which once you add some judicious miracle dice or the Storm of Retribution stratagem is going to make a horrible mess of the opposition. These units feel particularly good here, because with such a dependable core to hold the line, if they manage to “trade up” the game is going to tilt inexorably towards the Custodes, and they’re cheap and deadly enough that they have a great chance to pull it off.

To complete the process of bringing the game firmly under control, the list packs some basic sister squads, who are still hyper cost-efficient roving ObSec units (especially if some pack into a Rhino), two units of Death Cult Assassins (exquisite Action fodder), and finally a nightmare Shield Captain of Doom. Sporting 9W, a 2+/3++/5+++, he’s harder to kill than most battle tanks, vicious in combat, fast and ObSec and can charge during the opponent’s turn with Stooping Dive to just make a complete mockery of objective maths (and probably kill some stuff in the process). He’s an exceptionally flexible model that leans in to everything 9th Edition wants you to be doing, and is a great way to cap off a phenomenal all-rounder army.

The Panel’s Verdict

For one last time pre-event I have summoned the dread council, and submitted this matchup for perusal. Here’s what they thought.

The Panel's Verdict - Click to Expand

As is only right and proper, we end on a close run thing – by a narrow margin of 3-2, the panel have given the Blood Angels the nod as the likely winners here. This one had some strong feelings in both directions – some on the panel felt that the Sisters having more units to control the board with would see them victorious, while others think that the Blood Angels threats line up well enough against the Sororitas defences that they’re going to win out once the forces collide, then conquer the ashes. This might have been the most divided the panel have been on any of the matches, so it’s sure to be a nailbiter to close out the first round!

Wrap Up

That’s it for the previews, and we’re now just days away from the event itself kicking off. Make sure 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