Las Vegas Open – Field Analysis and Three Cool Lists

An article by and    Gaming Road to LVO Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

You didn’t think we’d skip out on this did you?

Starting this Friday is the Las Vegas open, the largest event of the 40K year and (in this instance) likely to be the largest 40K event ever run. I’m writing this from my hotel room in Vegas, my army has made it to the US in one piece (overcoming a common hazard to Goonhammer authors) and I am incredibly excited.

Over the next few days the resort is going to fill up with 40K players from around the globe, all bringing their A-game to try and take down the event, or secure their spot at the top of their Best in Faction standings (as the LVO is the final ITC scored event of the season). Pretty much every faction is represented (even pure Ynnari) and James “Boon” Kelling is joining me for this preview to dive deeper into the numbers. You can also take a look at our analysis of some recently successful armies in the January State of the Meta that Rob, Kevin, and Boon put together, with comments from Shane Watts, Corrode, and yours truly.

However, the metagame is a slipperly, fast-moving thing, lots of new rules have come available recently, and late December/January tend to be pretty quiet tournament wise, so many players haven’t yet brought out their latest toys.

In order to make then mammoth task of filtering down the gigantic number of lists that are in BCP more feasible, I’ve decided to put my focus specifically on new toys. The three armies that have gained the most stuff that is both legal for LVO and hasn’t really been seen in big numbers in the wild are:

Going through the lists, I’m pleased to say that even examining a few of them from each faction shows some definite trends within each, so hopefully looking at them will help prepare readers for if they come up against these unfamiliar forces.

Normally we’d talk about our own lists at this point, but both Boon and I have talked about what we’re packing already in the Road to LVO series (my final update here, Boon’s here). As for the format of the tournament – it’s the premier ITC event of the year, so naturally it’s pure ITC, with the only new thing being fixed terrain layouts for the top tables (which I covered in my last update). We’ll have a quick resource roundup post for the ITC on Thursday.

With all of that out of the way, time to look at the field – take it away Boon!

 

Las Vegas Open – Field Analysis

With hundreds of lists already submitted for LVO 2020, we can add to our existing field research by looking specifically at the upcoming event. Note that all of this list data is based on BCP registrants as of January 20th, 2020. A total of 921 registrants submitted 789 lists (leaving 132 potential drops). For the remainder of this analysis we will assume that the field is comprised only of those 789 submissions. This is up from the 661 registered lists in 2019. Below we see the total breakouts at the highest keyword level.

High Level Breakouts

I don’t think it’s any surprise that the Imperium dominates the field. A total of 19 factions representing 17 mono-factions and 2 soup (Imperium, Adeptus Astartes) comprise over 50% or 421 list submissions. Overall the faction breakouts are as follows:

  • Imperium – 421 Lists (53.4%)
  • Chaos – 141 Lists (17.9%)
  • Aeldari – 102 Lists (12.9%)
  • Orks – 32 (4.1%)
  • Tau – 37 Lists (4.7%)
  • Necrons – 33 Lists (2.8%)
  • Forces of the Hive Mind – 34 Lists (4.3%)

Below we drill down another level and classify the groupings:

Imperial Breakouts

Breaking out these categories, we have the following :

  • Imperium – 67 Lists (8.5%)
  • New Supplement Marines – 231 Lists (29.3%)
    • Adeptus Astartes – 81 (10.3%)
    • Iron Hands – 62 (7.9%)
    • Imperial Fists – 23 (2.9%)
    • Blood Angels – 22 (2.8%)
    • Ultramarines – 19 (2.4%)
    • Raven Guard – 11 (1.4%)
    • White Scars – 7 (0.9%)
    • Salamanders – 4 (0.5%)
    • Black Templars – 2 (0.3%)
  • Old Marines – 27 Lists (3.4%)
    • Space Wolves – 9 (1.1%)
    • Grey Knights – 9 (1.1%)
    • Dark Angels – 5 (0.6%)
    • Deathwatch – 4 (0.6%)
  • Other Imperium – 96 (12.2%)
    • Adeptus Mechanicus – 25 (3.2%)
    • Sisters of Battle – 21 (2.7%)
    • Imperial Guard – 20 (2.5%)
    • Adeptus Custodes – 18 (2.3%)
    • Imperial Knights – 12 (1.5%)
    • Imperial Agents – 1 (0.1%) (yes one brave soul is actually doing this)

It goes without saying that the new Marines are the flavor of the… past 4 months (and also the next 4-12 months). However, it is remarkable seeing just how much of an impact they have to the meta. At this point last year Space Marines of any flavor (including Adeptus Astartes) comprised approximately 13.5% of all mono-faction lists. That number has skyrocketed to almost a third of the field at 32.7% this year. Last year you needed to be prepared to deal with Castellans… this year it’s all about the many various forms of Primaris. Interestingly Imperial Fists as a stand-alone faction are not as popular as I would have assumed – I speak to my thoughts on this a bit in the meta update article published yesterday.

Moving on to Chaos we see:

Chaos Breakouts

  • Chaos– 65 Lists (8.2%)
  • Chaos Space Marines – 50 Lists (6.3%)
    • Codex: Chaos Space Marines – 34 (4.3%)
    • Thousand Sons – 4 (0.5%)
    • Death Guard – 12 (1.5%)
  • Daemons – 13 Lists (1.7%)
  • Renegade Knights – 13 (1.7%)

I’m not sure there are any real surprises here either – Chaos is a faction that appears to perform best in a soup setting and the breakouts represent this with a strong plurality as soup. Last year Thousand Sons had a strong showing at 3.3% of mono-lists, so this years 0.5% represents a significant drop-off. Unsurprising given the meta results of the past few months and the major nerfs in Chapter Approved to Tzaangors and Winged Daemon Princes. Chaos Space Marines generally have gotten a boost from Faith and Fury and Chapter Approved, and as a result they are actually up 1.4% over last year’s 2.9% of the field.

Moving onto our final ‘mega’ faction, we have the Aeldari at 12.9% of the field:

Aeldari Breakouts

  • Aeldari – 46 Lists (8.2%)
  • Asuryani – 33 Lists (4.2%)
  • Drukhari– 18 Lists (2.3%)
  • Harlequins – 4 (0.5%)
  • Ynnari – 1 (0.1%)

The only real surprise here is the lowered number of pure Drukhari lists. The Marine meta and the subsequent underwhelming impact of PA:PR likely leads to the fall of a faction that just one year ago comprised 7.1% of the field. Also congratulations to William Hamor on your Best in Faction (Ynnari) for this tournament. You are a brave man taking Ynnari with the full Triumvirate. Goonspeed sir, and may god have mercy on your immortal soul.

 

The only other interesting note is that the Forces of the Hive mind comprise a total 34 lists, but only 5 represent pure Genestealer Cults. Despite the recent release, Tyranids only see play in 22 lists in this years LVO, and at 2.8% they represent approximately half of last year’s total. You’re about as likely to face off in the first-round against a player named Matt/Matthew than you are to face Tyranids.

 

List Reviews

So that’s the field. Yesterday we talked about some of the popular lists for each major faction, and today Wings is going to talk about some lists to watch out for at LVO. Note that we are well aware that the most likely outcome is that, with marines making up one third of the field, including many of the most skilled players at the event, the winner is likely to be a marines army. But marine lists are rather boring to talk about five months in, so we’ve chosen three other factions to look at.

Darren Thibault’s Sisters of Battle

Adepta Sororitas Sister Superoir

Adepta Sororitas Sister Superoir. Credit: Jack Hunter

The List

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium - Adepta Sororitas) [55 PL, 1,058pts] ++
+ No Force Org Slot +

Order Convictions: Order: Valorous Heart

+ HQ [11 PL, 221pts] +

Canoness [3 PL, 61pts]: Blessed Blade [9pts], Inferno pistol [7pts], Relic: Litanies of Faith, Warlord, Warlord Trait: 4. Beacon of Faith

Celestine [8 PL, 160pts]

+ Troops [18 PL, 282pts] +

Battle Sister Squad [6 PL, 94pts]
. 7x Battle Sister [63pts]
. Battle Sister w/ Special or Heavy Weapon [11pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
. Battle Sister w/ Special Weapon [11pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
. Sister Superior [9pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

Battle Sister Squad [6 PL, 94pts]
. 7x Battle Sister [63pts]
. Battle Sister w/ Special or Heavy Weapon [11pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
. Battle Sister w/ Special Weapon [11pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
. Sister Superior [9pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

Battle Sister Squad [6 PL, 94pts]
. 7x Battle Sister [63pts]
. Battle Sister w/ Special or Heavy Weapon [11pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
. Battle Sister w/ Special Weapon [11pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
. Sister Superior [9pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

+ Elites [2 PL, 45pts] +

Imagifier [2 PL, 45pts]: Tale of the Stoic

+ Heavy Support [24 PL, 510pts] +

Exorcist [8 PL, 170pts]: Exorcist Missile Launcher [70pts], Heavy bolter [10pts]
Exorcist [8 PL, 170pts]: Exorcist Missile Launcher [70pts], Heavy bolter [10pts]
Exorcist [8 PL, 170pts]: Exorcist Missile Launcher [70pts], Heavy bolter [10pts]

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium - Adepta Sororitas) [59 PL, -2CP, 941pts] ++
+ No Force Org Slot [-1CP] +
Open the Reliquaries [-1CP]: Additional Relics of the Ecclesiarchy [-1CP]
Order Convictions: Order: Bloody Rose

+ HQ [5 PL, -1CP, 90pts] +

Canoness [3 PL, -1CP, 52pts]: Chainsword, Heroine in the Making [-1CP], Inferno pistol [7pts], Relic: Beneficence, Warlord Trait: 2. Righteous Rage

Missionary [2 PL, 38pts]
. Bolt Pistol and Shotgun

+ Troops [12 PL, 139pts] +
Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 47pts]
. 3x Battle Sister [27pts]
. Battle Sister w/ Special or Heavy Weapon [11pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
. Sister Superior [9pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 45pts]
. 4x Battle Sister [36pts]
. Sister Superior [9pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 47pts]
. 3x Battle Sister [27pts]
. Battle Sister w/ Special or Heavy Weapon [11pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
. Sister Superior [9pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

+ Elites [14 PL, 288pts] +
Imagifier [2 PL, 45pts]: Tale of the Warrior

Repentia Superior [2 PL, 35pts]
Sisters Repentia [5 PL, 104pts]: 8x Sisters Repentia [104pts]
Sisters Repentia [5 PL, 104pts]: 8x Sisters Repentia [104pts]

+ Fast Attack [14 PL, 178pts] +

Seraphim Squad [7 PL, 89pts]
. 4x Seraphim [44pts]
. Seraphim Superior [11pts]: Bolt pistol, Bolt pistol
. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons [17pts]: 2x Hand Flamers [6pts]
. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons [17pts]: 2x Hand Flamers [6pts]

Seraphim Squad [7 PL, 89pts]
. 4x Seraphim [44pts]
. Seraphim Superior [11pts]: Bolt pistol, Bolt pistol
. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons [17pts]: 2x Hand Flamers [6pts]
. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons [17pts]: 2x Hand Flamers [6pts]

+ Heavy Support [6 PL, 112pts] +
Penitent Engines [6 PL, 112pts]
. Penitent Engine [3 PL, 56pts]: 2x Heavy Flamer [28pts], 2x Penitent buzz-blades
. Penitent Engine [3 PL, 56pts]: 2x Heavy Flamer [28pts], 2x Penitent buzz-blades

+ Dedicated Transport [8 PL, 134pts] +
Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 67pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 67pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]
++ Total: [114 PL, -2CP, 1,999pts] ++

Strengths

People are still finding their feet with the Sisters, but if you go through the lists coming to LVO you can definitely see the beginnings of a consensus emerging. Common features seem to be:

  • Dual Battalion
  • One Valorous Heart detachment with Exorcists
  • One Bloody Rose detachment with Repentia

This isn’t universal, and there are lists that deviate from this, but if you pull up a pure Sisters build there’s a good chance this is what you’ll see.

That’s not hugely surprising, as it brings in a bunch of the best tools that the Sisters have access to. The cheap, core infantry makes dual battalions a no-brainer (and packing as many storm bolters into the squads as can be afforded is the norm, as seen here), and shifting that many power armoured bodies (all of which will usually be packing a 5++ from Celestine or ignoring some amount of AP) can be challenging for some armies in and of itself. Sisters are always going to have the numbers and durability to confidently push early game, and having the option to be aggressive backed up by long-ranged firepower provides access to a flexible game plan that’s tremendously useful in tournament formats where you need to beat lots of different armies to take the crown.

Battle Sisters

Battle Sisters. Credit: RichyP

The long-ranged firepower here takes the form of the Exorcists. T8 tanks with the ability to ignore AP-2  (thanks to being Valorous Heart and having a babysitting Imagifier) are an absolute nightmare for some armies to deal with, as a huge number of lists rely on firepower of that nature to chew through stuff. If the Exorcists come up against an army like that (Tau being a good example) they’re tremendously well placed to win that firefight. Without modifiers it takes an average of 54 hits from a heavy burst cannon to take an Exorcist with these defences and god help you if you’re trying to do it through cover (yes I know markerlights exist, this is an example only). Quite a few factions rely on this, and even when they have more powerful options these might be shorter ranged, meaning that deploying them opens the units involved up to a melee counterattack.

In this list (and many others) this comes in the form of the Repentia. As Order of the Bloody Rose (for extra attacks/AP and access to Tear Them Down) these are absolute monsters and will blender almost anything they touch, and their Rhinos make taking them out at least somewhat challenging. They’re also extremely good on the LVO terrain – combining the Holy Rage stratagem with judiciously applied Acts of Faith on advances and charges should reliably bounce them from one L-block to the other, where they can start wreaking absolute havoc (particularly because their high volume of attacks makes them able to kill pretty much any type of target).

This list is active in multiple phases, durable, and will put an opponent under pressure early on and keep them there.

Weaknesses

This early in the list building process people are still trying out different combinations of things and looking for what comes together best, and closing weaknesses is part of that. As I look at this, a couple of things stand out as potential challenges that later iterations might aim to improve:

  1. It’s pretty vulnerable on Secondaries. Tough as they are, taking down the Exorcists is going to be part of beating this, and combined with the Rhinos that gives BGH up easily. No one beating this is going to struggle with Butcher’s Bill, and Headhunter is also a risk as most of the characters are going to be forward operators. Basically, run this up against a shooting army that has the AP to pop the Exorcists fast and they can then play shooting gallery against the rest of it pretty easily.
  2. The Exorcists will struggle with some terrain setups, and I think the LVO set is one of them. They don’t ignore LOS and don’t want to be forced on the move.
  3. The Repentia die hard in this version if they get caught in the open, as they don’t have Shield of Faith stacked all the way to 4++

Not all of these are trivial things to fix – you definitely want three Exorcists and if you’re taking Repentia you probably need them in some sort of transport, leaving BGH open, and easy Butcher’s Bill is a downside of easy dual battalions. I would, were I running this, probably want to be bringing a couple different choices to mitigate it though. A second Valorous Heart Tale of the Stoic Imagifier to run with the castle, and putting the Bloody Rose Canoness on Indomitable Belief would make all the Sisters squads a bit harder to kill, and the latter would also help the Repentia. An alternative option we saw explored by Andrew Gonyo is to go for Zephyrim instead, and while I think sticking to Repentia probably gives the army more overall punch, that does let you keep the Exorcists and dodge BGH, so might turn out better in ITC. If you do go that route, a squad of three Mortifiers in place of the Penitent Engines and one of the Rhinos would help maintain some anti-vehicle melee capability (stick to three because opening up Gangbusters will do the opposite of helping).

I’m excited to see how Sisters continue to evolve over the next few months, and despite some minor quibbles, I do think a real solid core has been arrived at here.

 

Micah Chapman’s Tyranids

Tyranid Warrior armed with Venom Cannon

A Tyranid Warrior armed with a Venom Cannon – Credit: Sharkopath

The List

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Tyranids) [55 PL, -1CP, 956pts] ++
+ No Force Org Slot +
Hive Fleet: Kronos

Stratagem: Progeny of the Hive [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Malanthropes [5 PL, 120pts]: Warlord
. Malanthrope
Tyranid Prime [6 PL, 76pts]: Adrenal Glands, Lash Whip and Bonesword, Scything Talons, Toxin Sacs

+ Troops +

Hormagaunts [9 PL, 174pts]: Adrenal Glands, 29x Hormagaunt

Termagants [9 PL, 88pts]
. 22x Termagant (Fleshborer)

Tyranid Warriors [13 PL, 240pts]
. Adaptive Physiology: Enhanced Resistance
. Tyranid Warrior: Boneswords, Deathspitter
. Tyranid Warrior: Boneswords, Deathspitter
. Tyranid Warrior: Boneswords, Deathspitter
. Tyranid Warrior: Boneswords, Deathspitter
. Tyranid Warrior: Boneswords, Deathspitter
. Tyranid Warrior: Boneswords, Deathspitter
. Tyranid Warrior (Bio-cannon): Scything Talons, Venom Cannon
. Tyranid Warrior (Bio-cannon): Scything Talons, Venom Cannon
. Tyranid Warrior (Bio-cannon): Scything Talons, Venom Cannon

+ Elites +

Hive Guard [13 PL, 258pts]
. 6x Hive Guard (Impaler): 6x Impaler Cannon

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Tyranids) [63 PL, -1CP, 1,042pts] ++

+ No Force Org Slot +

Hive Fleet: Kronos

Stratagem: Bounty of the Hive Fleet [-1CP]: 1 Extra Bio-artefact

+ HQ +

Hive Tyrant [11 PL, 213pts]: Adrenal Glands, Monstrous Rending Claws, Power: Catalyst, Power: Psychic Scream, Toxin Sacs, Two Devourers with Brainleech Worms, Wings, Xenogenic Acid

Hive Tyrant [9 PL, 170pts]: Adrenal Glands, Heavy Venom Cannon, Monstrous Rending Claws, Power: Onslaught, Power: Symbiostorm, The Venomthorn Parasite, Toxin Sacs

The Swarmlord [15 PL, 250pts]: Power: Catalyst, Power: The Horror

+ Troops +

Ripper Swarms [2 PL, 33pts]: 3x Ripper Swarm
Ripper Swarms [2 PL, 33pts]: 3x Ripper Swarm
Ripper Swarms [2 PL, 33pts]: 3x Ripper Swarm

+ Heavy Support +

Exocrine [11 PL, 155pts]
. Adaptive Physiology: Dermic Symbiosis
Exocrine [11 PL, 155pts]

++ Total: [118 PL, -2CP, 1,998pts] ++

Strengths

This list is another one that’s a great example of a wider trend – Tyranid Warriors seem to be back.

It would appear that the combination of their slight discount in Chapter Approved, Adaptive Physiology (notably Enhanced Resistance, letting them ignore AP-1 and AP-2) and access to the Unyielding Chitin stratagem (reducing incoming multi-damage shots by 1 damage) combine together to give you a package that does a lot of work. When you really think about it that’s not super surprising – for your ~250pts you get a massive number of objective-secured wounds that are tricky to shift with most relevant types of firepower, and provide both melee and ranged threat. There are still some things that will butcher them at range, but popular metagame choices like Whirlwinds and stalker bolt rifles lose some part of their value to one of the defensive options these now have. This version likes them so much it even invests as a Tyranid Prime to further boost them up.

Elsewhere, the army aligns pretty well with the kind of builds Blood of Baal encourages, namely having one big unit of a lot of things so that you can make use of their specific stratagems. The massive unit of Hormagaunts here, probably pushed up the field by the Swarmlord, is a discount version of throwing a huge Genestealer blob, trading some amount of efficiency for more wounds but still being able to do a good amount of damage via Feral Instincts boosting their AP, potentially doubling up using Aggressive Adaptation if someone feeds them some Scouts or something.

Tyranid Hive Guard

Tyranid Hive Guard. Credit: That Gobbo

Hive Guard didn’t get a specific strat but they didn’t really need one, especially as Kronos. I’m a little bit surprised to see the second Adaptive Physiology not spent here on giving them Enhanced Resistance as well, as it does a lot to help keep them alive against the kind of fire that shoots out of LOS. However, they get a tonne from Symbiostorm, and this list has the CP to keep them firing with Single Minded Annihilation.

Exocrines also enjoy Symbiostorm a lot, and a couple of these parked in the backfield with a Malanthrope to babysit is a nice amount of firepower. The Symbiotic Devastation stratagem will let one of them move to pick a good firing position, helping a lot with the LVO terrain, and their damage output is great against the marine-heavy field.

Finally, Hive Tyrants. Everyone kind of assumes these left the metagame after their nerf because they weren’t good any more, but the atrocious matchup Tyranids had against Castellan lists played a pretty big part of it, and now that the ‘nids have more options expect to see them more. I’m particularly pleased to see someone trying out a shooty Walkrant with the Venomthorn Parasite, as that looked genuinely interesting out of Blood of Baal.

This list has chosen to go in on pure Kronos – a very defensible choice as it allows the Malanthrope aura to cover pretty much everything during deployment, and makes worrying about synapse less of an issue. Other versions I saw on my tour were trying out Jormundgar for the detachment with the Tyranid Warriors, packing a Mawloc so that they can Deep Strike with The Enemy Below. The Jormundgar trait combines really well with Enhanced Resistance and the unit gets lots of value out of Lurking Maws as well. I’ll be interested to see which version performs better.

Weaknesses

While the OG Tyranid crusher the Castellan is long gone from the metagame, there is still a popular Knight heavy build that I think gives this serious problems – the Triple Dual Thermal/Discolord lists that are popular in Chaos. As long as the player of those is cagey enough not to let themselves get repeatedly charged by the Swarmlord, they’ll go through this like a hot knife, and the shooting this list packs just doesn’t line up super well against it. That someone compounds the fact that this list gives up secondaries pretty easily against armies that can kill its stuff, with it being possible to line up Gangbusters/Big Game/Marked for Death against it thanks to the two big gaunt squads giving up the latter. The Knight matchup is a pretty tricky one to fix, but I’d wonder about looking at a Monstrous Sized Trygon Prime in this version of the list. That gives you something that can break a Knight in half in the Fight phase, and also gives you an option on Deep Striking the Tyranid Warriors if you need to. I’d probably swap the second Exocrine out for that and find the other 18pts (accounting for adrenal glands) somewhere, probably starting with removing those two extra guilty Termagants that are making their unit Marked for Deathable.

Speaking of the Exocrines, while they’re clearly good now I do wonder if “exactly one” will emerge as the correct number. Especially with dense terrain, you want to be able to keep them on the move when needed and the strat only works on one. I think I’d like the second if the list was more skewed towards shooting and could thus expect the enemy to come towards it, but here I’d rather have the extra push threat.

The final challenge with this style of list (and the return of Tyranid warriors in general) is that while the defences they can stack are super-great against most ranged threats, popular powerful melee tools make a horrendous mess of them.  This list does at least have the bodies to try and wrap them up so it’s hard to position for a charge, which gives some protection against that, but if I were playing this I’d still be worried about the entire unit just getting evaporated in the fight phase at least once.

Speaking of powerful melee lists…

 

Stephen Box’s Blood Angels

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard. Credit: Jack Hunter

The List

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment 5CP (Imperium - Blood Angels) [69 PL, 878pts] ++

CHAPTER: Blood Angels

+ HQ [15 PL, 205pts] +

Astorath [8 PL, 105pts]

Lemartes [7 PL, 100pts]

+ Troops [15 PL, 285pts] +

Incursor Squad [5 PL, 95pts]: 4x Incursor [76pts], Incursor Sergeant [19pts]
Incursor Squad [5 PL, 95pts]: 4x Incursor [76pts], Incursor Sergeant [19pts]
Incursor Squad [5 PL, 95pts]: 4x Incursor [76pts], Incursor Sergeant [19pts]

+ Elites [39 PL, 388pts] +

Death Company [27 PL, 262pts]: Jump Pack [3 PL, 33pts]
. Death Company Marine [31pts]
. . Thunder hammer [16pts]
. Death Company Marine [31pts]
. . Thunder hammer [16pts]
. Death Company Marine [31pts]
. . Thunder hammer [16pts]
. Death Company Marine [31pts]
. . Thunder hammer [16pts]
. Death Company Marine [15pts]
. . Bolt pistol and chainsword
. Death Company Marine [15pts]
. . Bolt pistol and chainsword
. Death Company Marine [15pts]
. . Bolt pistol and chainsword
. Death Company Marine [15pts]
. . Bolt pistol and chainsword
. Death Company Marine [15pts]
. . Bolt pistol and chainsword
. Death Company Marine [15pts]
. . Bolt pistol and chainsword
. Death Company Marine [15pts]
. . Bolt pistol and chainsword

Sanguinary Ancient [6 PL, 63pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
Sanguinary Ancient [6 PL, 63pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium - Blood Angels) [87 PL, 1,122pts] ++

CHAPTER: Blood Angels

+ HQ [15 PL, 273pts] +

Captain [6 PL, 143pts]: Jump Pack [1 PL, 19pts], Storm shield [10pts], Thunder hammer [40pts], Warlord

The Sanguinor [9 PL, 130pts]

+ Troops [12 PL, 165pts] +

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout Sergeant [11pts]: Chainsword, Combat knife

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout Sergeant [11pts]: Chainsword, Combat knife

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout [11pts]: Combat knife
. Scout Sergeant [11pts]: Chainsword, Combat knife

+ Elites [60 PL, 684pts] +

Sanguinary Guard [20 PL, 226pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Power fist [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Power fist [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]

Sanguinary Guard [20 PL, 232pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine axe [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine axe [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine axe [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine axe [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine axe [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine axe [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine axe [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine axe [9pts]

Sanguinary Guard [20 PL, 226pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Power fist [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [29pts]: Angelus boltgun, Power fist [9pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]
. Sanguinary Guard [28pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword [8pts]

++ Total: [156 PL, 2,000pts] ++

Strengths

Stephen is the mastermind behind Vanguard Tactics and a fixture on the UK tournament scene, and there’s been quite a bit of hype bouncing around about the Blood Angels list he was planning on bringing to the LVO.

The finished product doesn’t disappoint.

We’ve talked before about brutal lists that get right into an opponent’s face and try to hit them so hard that they never recover, but this might be the single most vicious example of the genre we’ve ever seen, and one of the most appallingly nasty lists I’ve ever reviewed. Given that it’s also near-perfectly suited to the LVO terrain, and in the hands of a tactical master, Stephen is absolutely one of the players to watch as the rounds progress for a potential winning finish.

So why is this list quite so horrific? I mean, basically because every single unit in it is either

  • Infiltrating troops to provide a pile of CP and control the board.
  • A fast, deadly hammer unit that can punch out almost anything.

The LVO terrain favours fast melee units, but jump pack Death Company might be the single biggest beneficiaries of it, as it allows them to set up in safety then, with the first turn and Forlorn Fury, move far enough to threaten a charge on most of the opponent’s deployment zone, and certainly on anything they set up aggressively. If they do that and pull off a wrap and trap then the game is damn near over on the spot unless the opponent has a melee unit that can kill them on the countercharge, and even if they do, that was only the first wave. Three units of Sanguinary Guard provide a pretty crunchy second wave, especially as all three units have weapon specs that will let them trash targets both large and small. These units present a terrifying threat to both shooting and melee based opposition – against shooting armies the early rush of the Death Company risks shutting key ones down, and this army can hug the terrain well, while against other melee armies the units in this one can use their superior speed to ensure they get the charge and thus the first strike, and there really isn’t that much that’s gonna be left alive to hit back.

Blood Angels Chaplain Lemartes

Blood Angels Chaplain Lemartes. Credit: Jack Hunter

While all of that’s being dealt with, the opponent also has to worry about the characters. As we predicted in our review, the Blood Angels named character Chaplains are extremely good choices with their new rules, the ability to turn them into terrifying melee monsters with Mantra of Strength is welcome. Both of those and the Captain are serious threats to almost everything, and are all also fast, making them another nightmare to keep track of. The Chaplains also make Death Company way better.

Finally, this list is ghastly to try and pick Secondaries against. I guess you can take Marked for Death, but when I’m picking that I don’t tend to want to be committing to killing literally half their army. For my points. Headhunter is also technically possible but, uh, not really something I’d expect to lock in during a close game. It’s a known issue that Marine lists are hard to pick secondaries against (something we expect to see improved for the next season), but even by those standards this one is a real challenge.

Most Blood Angel lists at the event are packing a big Death Company blob and a big Sanguinary Guard squad, suggesting both units “get there” after Blood of Baal, but this list is the one that’s looked at that and decided to increase the thing. The result is one of the best armies going into the event, and I’m terribly, terribly sorry in advance for whichever poor soul draws this round one (it’s going to be me isn’t it?).

Weaknesses

Er. Hrmm. Maybe…no.

OK, so the serious version of this is that the army is a little bit vulnerable to anything that can lay down Mortal Wounds in a big way. Luckily, or more likely because-the-player-understands-the-metagame-ly, these aren’t super popular right now, with the big nerfs to the Nurgle/Tsons lists in Chapter Approved taking out the heaviest source of them. Funnily enough, post-Ritual of the Damned Grey Knights might actually be worth a look in trying to face this kind of army down – a big wall of D2 Smites is going to cause it problems, as is the fact that every unit in that army can meaningfully pile into a fight with this list and do some damage on the way out.

Anything that can charge in and reliably flatten any of these units after they finish punching something does provide a thread to this list, as it can crumble if it loses two of its alpha units in quick succession. I guess Shining Spears are the unit that’s actually in the metagame that have a real shot here, as with the buffs they can stack they can pull it off, but even that feels a bit fraught because they’ll then get kicked in by the next wave. Still, for all that I joke about it, my list’s matchup against this isn’t completely unsalvageable because I’ve got a combination of multiple MW sources, a melee unit that can take a big squad out, and shooting tools that’ll get the job done as well in the form of Doom/Jinx. I think to beat this list you want to try and set up a brutal counterattack turn when it commits to a fight, and Eldar do a decent job there.

The final possible challenge is Tau. I think the terrain setup largely mitigates it for the LVO but on more open boards the fact that there’s only one source of overwatch denial here, and that Drones might be able to tank the first wave of melee could be enough to give this list pause against a skilled Tau player. I’d honestly still bet on the Blood Angels, however.

guess not always being able to get a kill turn one is a more “generic” problem with the list? That’s never been an insurmountable issue for armies built around the melee gut punch, but it does hurt this just a teeny bit more because of all the scout deployed units – its opponents often won’t struggle to pick up that early kill, potentially forcing this army to commit to an attack earlier than it really wants to to stem the bleeding on primary points. The sheer mobility of the threats mitigates that a tonne though.

Ultimately, I don’t think this army has too many severe weaknesses – it’s an exceptionally strong list – but even for those it’s worth considering what a game it loses looks like. Here I think the losing games (if they exist) will be ones where opponents manage to set up a counterattack that takes out 2+ big units in a single turn.

 

Wrap Up

That’s nearly it for pre-LVO content from us, with a final roundup of resources coming tomorrow morning as the last thing. We’ll be keeping you updated on the team’s progress during the event however, so stay tuned to our Facebook Page, if you want to hear glorious tales of high-stakes 40k. If you want to get in touch, you can also reach us via contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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