Welcome reader! Tom, the Lowest of Men here. I’m back with another event report, this time covering a rare foray into Incursion sized 1,000 point games of Warhammer 40,000. I’ll be reflecting on the Incursion scale, as well as offering some initial thoughts on Arks of Omen, as this was my first competitive event using that ruleset. Let’s get into it.
Tabletop Republic is a wonderful game store in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. They put on a whole range of events for different game systems and formats including 2K, Teams, and 1K events for 40k, Age of Sigmar events, Kill Team and Kings of War. The staff at TTR are a really friendly, welcoming bunch and work hard at refining and improving their event packs, terrain set ups and prizes, and there is a strong local community of regulars who are all a lot of fun to play against (shout out to Jake with his double Great Unclean One list, a man after my own heart who once lined up against me with NINE Basilisks). I can’t recommend this store enough to those looking for affordable and high quality local events.
When 9th edition launched, it did so with a whole set of missions and recommendations for playing half sized, 1,000 point games. I’ve played the earlier versions of this ‘Incursion’ format a bit during the pandemic era (we even rigged up cameras and had one player piloting both armies during the worst of it!). You get a lot of the tactical depth and crunch of a full sized 40k game, but it is punchier, quicker, and slightly harder to balance for. Games can get out of hand fast once one side gains an advantage, but its a lot of fun and a more casual way to play. I recommend trying it if you haven’t.
Vigilant and Faithful was a 1,000 point incursion RTT, featuring four 2 hour rounds, a fixed terrain set up, and an adjusted 4×4 board size. The latter change makes the boards bigger, and counters the slightly claustrophobic feel of 1K games on their recommended board size, which always feels a little too small and hurts armies looking to exploit the space to stay in games. The terrain itself falls somewhere between GW and UKTC, with some nice offset angles alongside some very large, block style obscuring ruins, half of which is typically blocked out allowing some shooting angles but also some reliable cover for those seeking to hide inside.
It’s me! I’d had this weekend pencilled in as a non-hobby weekend for sometime, but a change of plans had suddenly presented me with the Saturday entirely free. I was keen to ride the Arks of Omen excitement that is currently bubbling away in 40k WhatsApps around the world, and 1,000 points felt like a nice, chilled way to ease my way into the new meta and system.
I arranged to attend this event at the last minute with my good friends Scrivo and Adam, who were taking Orks and Tau respectively. The question I needed to answer was what to take myself…. I’ve been maining Genestealer Cults competitively for about three months, and having a lot of fun with them. However, they’re a defensive, passive, and reactive army, focused on wracking up points and often playing on the backfoot. This isn’t my natural preference as a player, and I was in need of a break. Over the last few weeks of games something had begun to itch, to scratch, to scrape in the back of my mind. A hunger, a thirst, for a more aggressive, assertive playstyle…
Enter, the Flesh Tearers. The angriest of Blood Angels Successors, the Flesh Tearers are a seldom-seen combat marines army, with a focus on the same agressive jump pack units and push play as their more storied progenitors. I’d painted a few up as a hobby project during lockdown, and have been running them in a local crusade. As such 1,000 points offered the ideal opportunity to finally field my angry little band of maniacs in a competitive event! The list I took was as follows:
Arks of Omen Detachment: Blood Angels Successor (Flesh Tearers)
Captain with Jump Pack, Inferno Pistol and Thunder Hammer (Of Wrath and Rage, and the Hammer of Baal)
5 Sanguinary Guard (Inferno Pistols, Encarmine Axes)
5 Death Company (Inferno Pistols, Power Fists)
5 Death Company (Inferno Pistols, Power Swords)
5 Assault Terminators (Thunder Hammers, Storm Shields)
1 Apothecary (Rites of War)
5 Plasma Inceptors
Subtle, this list ain’t. My Flesh Tearers play on the front foot, looking to hound the opponent with an early assault from a Death Company squad through the pre-game movement of Forlorn Fury, and follow that up with a powerful beta strike as Inceptors drop from the sky and unload with Descent of Angels, juicing up their accuracy, a second wave of jump packs pouncing from hiding as required. The Apothecary and Terminators anchor the rear and the midboard depending on the mission, the Ob Sec sprinkling offered by Rites of War helping to bolster my grip on the primary. The terrain at Vigilant and Faithful offered plenty of places to hide and pounce from, and I would seek to exploit this as much as I could with my hard hitting but fragile angry bois…
Angry bois inc.
Blood Angels lost most of their secondary choices in Arks of Omen, but still have one excellent albeit situational secondary in Relentless Assault, offering you 4 points for having more of your units in the enemy deployment zone than they have in yours. They can score nicely on Oaths of Moment too, and I would typically use Raise Banners to secure secondary points as I tightened my hold on the board unless an obvious kill secondary presented itself. This list loves to go first, loves to take big swings and go for the knockout, and was the ideal antidote to several months of cagey, sneaky GSC play.
Arks of Omen has made the list cheaper and more versatile, as a showering of free inferno pistols across the elite units gives them a horrible ranged punch to go with their excellent melee output. The detachment format also massively benefits Blood Angels- there was no need for troops on these tiny 4×4 boards, and all that tax could be channelled into raw killing power instead.
I had played a single practice game with the Flesh Tearers against Adam’s Tau before attending Vigilant and Faithful, losing by a point in an absolute nail-biter. This taught me three important things as I looked to refine the list:
- As much as I love Gabriel Seth, the Flesh Tearers named Chapter Master, he is too slow to keep up with his flying buddies in a 1K game. Sorry Seth, you’re out. My Jump Pack Smash-Captain Ruben Salvio, and his definitely-not-a-daemon-weapon ‘Slaker’ is in…
- Assault Centurions probably weren’t the one at this scale, and they’re really going to miss Armour of Contempt! These were subbed out for some Assault Terminators, accompanied by an Apothecary for extra durability in my backfield / the midboard.
- Flesh Tearers secondary game is fragile, and won’t win games on its own. I needed to put the complete shut down on enemy primary and secondaries to ensure victory.
Mercifully, I had no expectations whatsoever. Incursion is a less heavy duty format than 2K games, and I had brought a brutal but simple list (with a deliciously low 27 model body-count) for some short, violent games, win or lose. I would use this event to start learning the ins and outs of Flesh Tearers, with an eye to running them at 2,000 points someway down the line, but my main goal was to meet some people and have some fun.
I drew Matthew Bunker’s Thousand Sons for game one. This was a very well designed list for incursion format, with five squads of Rubric Marines, an Exalted Sorceror and Daemon Prince, and some Spawn and Cultists to serve as chaff. It could put out a devastating amount of mortal wounds relative to the scale of the game, and Matthew ran Host of Duplicity giving him access to multiple methods of teleportation around the board. Flesh Tearers can really hurt the Tsons if they can catch them, but doing so with my small number of units whilst weathering smites and shooting would be the core challenge of the match up. Matthew was a veteran player, and a very intelligent opponent.
The Pre Game
Our mission was Display of Spiritual Might. On this mission you each have a home objective, and there are two in the middle of no man’s land on either flank. The corners were empty space, exacerbated by the 4×4 board size to give a lot of scope for deep striking and teleporting! Neither player gain command points in the first two rounds, but you gain more later on to compensate, and players earn kill points to top up their primary, one for each unit destroyed.
I took Abhor the Witch, Oaths of Moment, and Relentless Assault, aiming to power into the Tsons as quickly as I could and take out their key characters. Matthew took Warp Ritual, Banners, and Behind Enemy Lines, looking to build up his score passively whilst also threatening the Flesh Tearers backfield. Of the two game plans, I rated Matthew’s better. My scoring dictated that I go forwards into the hail of psychic damage, and his was more flexible, but would also reward him richly for hitting my vulnerable home objective with teleporting units. On the flip side, if I did manage to connect with his two characters and shut off the majority of his psychic output, I would be in a very strong position both in game and on the scoring board…
The Thousand Sons take up their positions
The Thousand Sons took first turn, and ramped up the pressure immediately. Matthew dropped two squads of Rubrics into the far left corner of my deployment zone, picking up some Sanguinary Guard with smites and shooting and giving me a serious question to answer in reply. He also kicked his secondary scoring off in the centre with Warp Ritual, and put up some banners. Uh oh!
Feeling the heat, I tried to do too much at once in response, throwing Death Company with power firsts into Matthew’s lines to try and assassinate his Exalted Sorceror, and throwing my Captain and the Inceptors to the bottom left to try and clean out the Rubrics. In both cases I fell just short- the Exalted Sorceror dodged nimbly and made a slew of 4++ saves to narrowly survive the Death Company, who also killed all but one of a Rubric squad (I’d got greedy here trying to recover the early losses and was punished for my optimism with spiking saves!). My Captain slew one Rubric squad happily in the left corner, but the other survived the Inceptors effortlessly, as the -1 damage at range stratagem that Thousand Sons have completely neutered their output. In retaliation several Death Company fell, which left me in an extremely vulnerable position.
Nice bottom left corner you got there, be a shame if anybody teleported into it….
Matthew continued to unleash his psychic barrage in 2-3, pushing back my Death Company, smiting my Captain into oblivion, and securing his hold on the mid board. I picked up some cultists and Rubrics with incidental shooting, and then my Assault Terminators failed a charge as they bid to bring down the Exalted Sorceror where their brothers had failed, which sealed my fate. The Flesh Tearers were wiped from the board in a hail of sorcerous mastery and precision shooting. 36-97 to Matthew.
The Decisive Moments
Matthew’s decision to send in two Rubric squads turn one, and my failure / inability to screen them was huge here, as it split my focus and stopped me from committing wholesale to the centre, and to trying to kill his characters. Once my force was split up it was much easier to outmanoeuvre and slay, and the mortal wounds made light work of my Captain in particular. My hail-mary with the Death Company almost dragged me back into the match, as the Exalted Sorceror was a significant part of Matthew’s psychic output and continuing to score ritual AND clear me out of his homefield would’ve put a greater demand on his resources in retaliation.
As it was, I got greedy, presumably overcome with the Black Rage, and tried to get myself two kills with them and ended up getting neither. Those that know me know that this is a distinctly un-Tom kind of play, and one I re-learned a harsh lesson from immediately, but it was a lot of fun throwing it all on the line and watching Matthew’s (very short-lived) alarm as it looked like a turn one assassination might be on the cards. As it was my big swing collapsed completely, which made things very straightforward for the Thousand Sons, who executed the clean up to perfection. Just as planned.
Having taken a fairly heavy beating in round one, I was keen to bounce back as quickly as I could! I was drawn into Leagues of Votann, piloted by Callum. A man after my own heart, Callum had chosen Kronus Hegemony as his league. This league takes the Votann combat potential up to eleven, at the cost of ranged power and durability. Callum ran two squads of Hearnkyn Pioneer bikers, two squads of Bezerks, two Sagitaurs and a Kahl. It was a speedy, punchy list, but it was also lower on assets and very dependent on the Bezerks for combat push. I was relatively comfortable I could control the terms of engagement unless Callum was extremely agressive with the bikes early on.
The Pre Game
Our mission was Cleanse the Land, a fairly conventional five objective mission with corner objectives and a single central one, all of which was fairly well covered by the terrain layout. I opted for Relentless Assault, Oaths of Moment, and Raise Banners, aiming to pin Callum in his deployment and decorate the board with dwarven skulls in a distinctly un-Khorne like manner (I promise). Callum took Behind Enemy Lines, The Ancestors are Watching (rewarding kills on units with judgement tokens), and Retrieve Battlefield Data (the artist formerly known as RND). This last pick felt rogue to me, as he was low on units that could realistically score it, but the rest made perfect sense. We both wanted to spread out and get stuck in to the enemy defensive lines- the question was, who would get their wish? I started my Plasma Inceptors in reserve, looking to hit the Votann with Descent of Angels in round two. Callum started everything on the board, with his Sagitaurs loaded up with Bezerks.
First turn was massive in this tie, and it went to the Flesh Tearers. I YEETed some Death Company into the Dwarven deployment zone with narratively appropriate levels of reckless abandon, destroying a Sagitaur and killing a biker with a stray inferno pistol shot (free inferno pistols really, really slaps). As Callum cleared out the Death Company and spread out in his turn one he struggled to get his secondary game into action, and left himself very vulnerable in my round two. Plasma Inceptors dropped in and picked up a squad of Pioneer Bikers, and my second wave of Death Company and Sanguinary Guard destroyed the second Sagitaur. I was putting Banners up wherever I could via the Terminators, Apothecary and Captain, and was building up a healthy lead.
Death Company on the attack in turn one. That’s a judging!
Despite looking comfortably on the back foot, the sheer violence Leagues of Votann can bring to the party under Kronus kept Callum in the game a little longer. A single squad of Bezerks demolished the Sanguinary Guard, Death Company, and Apothecary as they carved a bloody trail down the left flank. Fortunately for the Flesh Tearers their Captain had launched from the centre and smashed the Kahl off his backfield objective with a hammer in a thoroughly dwarven manner as he sat orchestrating the battle from afar. Despite enormous casualties, the marines triumphed 96-43.
The Decisive Moments
Getting to set the tempo with Forlorn Fury was vital in this tie. Just as the Thousand Sons had stretched my resources thin in the first game, this time I was able to concentrate them to the task of pinning the dwarf forces back, which contributed to my secondaries whilst denying them theirs. If I had gone second I’d have found myself under immediate fire from the pioneers, who are well equipped for picking up marine bodies, but was able to stage in the centre ruins and largely avoid them by taking the initiative.
Bezerks continuing to put a huge hole in every marine they touch
The Leagues of Votann really struggle with mission play and screening at 2,000 points as it is, much less 1,000, and this rendered them massively vulnerable to the powerful Beta strike of my Plasma Inceptors. As it was, the dwarf game unravelled to such an extent that even a single Bezerk squad managing to kill roughly twice its own bodyweight in points wasn’t enough to salvage the situation.
I’ve developed a habit recently of drawing my friends and teammates at events, and this RTT proved no exception. For round three I was drawn against my good friend and regular gaming buddy Adam, and his beautiful Orange Tau army (HOW NOW ORANGE TAU, HOW NOW ORANGE TAU. I’ll just get that out of my system at this stage).
Adam was running a Ghostkeel, A Coldstar Commander, two small but punchy Crisis Suit squads, some Pathfinders, and some Fire Warriors. I’d lost into the list in my only practice game, finding that the volume of good ap shooting was massively nasty into my marine bodies. Could I find a solution this time?
How now, orange Tau? (Ok it really is out of my system now I promise). How beautiful is Adam’s Ghostkeel?!
The Pre Game
The Mission was Surge of Faith, a Hammer and Anvil style deployment with two central objectives and two home field ones. Players can perform an action on the Objectives outside their deployment zone to accrue additional primary points, the reward being greater the further from home you manage to get! I liked the mission in this tie as it gave me a way to rack up a big score early on before the Tau guns began to tell – they always come on strong in the late game but the mission would reward me for burning out hard and bright. In pursuit of that goal I took Shock Tactics, Raise Banners, and Oaths of Moment. Adam took Decisive Action, Grind them Down, and Aerospace Targeting Relays, and opted to be in Kauyon. This meant he would be looking to get his points in in the later turns, which is very much the way to play Tau. I put my inceptors in the sky again (my goodness it had worked well last time), and Adam placed one suit team in the sky.
Reader, this was one of the weirdest games of 40k I have had in awhile. The Flesh Tearers took first turn, at which point Adam placed ALL his remaining heavy hitters back into reserves via a redeploy trait. This left his lines very lightly defended by some Fire Warriors and Pathfinders, but meant there was a donkey punch of EPIC proportions waiting for me in his turn two.
Death Company into Fire Warriors. There have been fairer fights.
Adam had leant heavily into his game plan, so I leant heavily into mine. Death Company hurtled forwards and cleaned up some Fire Warriors, before my Plasma Inceptors arrived to take down the Pathfinders. The rest of my force greedily chucked up Banners and undertook the mission objective to try and pile on some points, but Adam’s complete absence from the board meant that Shock Tactics suddenly became a dreadful pick, and Oaths proved hard to score on this mission layout (two bad calls from me!). In my turn two I spread out to stop Adam landing on Objectives when he came in, and braced for impact…
Not like this!! The Tau bring in one hell of a Beta strike at the end of turn two
The entire Tau gunline arrived in the Flesh Tearers backfield, and unleashed hell. Sanguinary Guard and Death Company went up in Smoke. In retaliation my Terminators waded in and bounced flaccidly off some Crisis Suits, before they too were killed. Fortunately for me my Rites of War Apothecary held on for some more Primary before being slain, and Adam’s exposed Commander was picked off by a volley of fire from the Plasma Inceptors, before they themselves were nuked in reply by his entourage.
I ended the game almost completely tabled, with my Captain skulking in Adam’s backfield. However, the Tau had left it late to get primary, and struggled to score the mission secondary, Aerospace, and retake the objectives in their final turns with the limited assets available. As a result the Astartes clung on, 69-57. Nice.
The nature of this mission aided the Flesh Tearers enormously in their pursuit of an early lead. Being able to scan Adam’s objectives to accrue additional primary meant that once my annihilation kicked off in turns 2-4 I was still able to hang on and keep scoring. Adam played the secondary game far better than I did, denying me any meaningful points on Oaths and Banners and nullifying Shock Tactics by simply NOT BEING ANYWHERE (very Sun Tzu of him really). My Terminators and Apothecary just about managed to slow Adam up for a turn and long enough to occupy him and stop him ticking off all his secondary tasks.
I should acknowledge one other key moment that probably decided the game itself, and this was my Death Company charge into Adam’s Fire Warriors turn one. I’d measured this out as a seven, but had totally forgotten that Tau can extend your charge by two with a stratagem. As it was I was able to make the 9 charge with a CP reroll, but had that failed I’d have lost the game, as Adam could then get a foothold in his homefield and my Death Company would’ve died for nothing. Talk about a let off! Adam is one of my favourite people to play games with, and this was an extremely funny match. I can’t say I’ve ever had the entire board to myself in my turn two before!
Four games in a day, even tiny baby Incursion ones, is a lot, and I was definitely starting to flag as we headed into the final round. I was drawn against CJ, a lovely chap who was running his Imperial Knights. CJ had six Armigers, two shooty Helverin ones and four melta and blade ones, and a Culexus Assassin for shenanigans. I’d had McDonalds for lunch but this list had me licking my lips for a second time that day, unfortunately for CJ. Flesh Tearers love large, fragile targets that they can engage with on their terms, and the terrain was a lot friendlier to me than to the Armigers…
Our mission was Deliverance, another five objective map with a central objective and corners. My game plan was an agressive one (shocking, I know), as I took Relentless Assault, Oaths of Moment, and Bring it Down. The six baby knights meant unless the game went wrong for me I would score very handsomely just by decking one or two knights a turn. CJ took Grind them down, Yield no Ground, and Renew the Oaths. He placed two Armigers in reserve, and I opted to start my Inceptors on the ground this time, in case I found myself going second and needing to repel multiple knights from the centre.
Flesh Tearers forces bunch up around Captain Salvio, ready to go on the offensive, their absolute favourite fensive…
This one spun out of control REAL fast. Flesh Tearers got first turn, and hurled the Death Company into the enemy lines, as the rest of the army staged very aggressively in the centre and waited for their moment. The Death Company bounced off an armiger with their inferno pistols, but managed to toppled the warlord Armiger in combat with their fists (CJ had an atrocious time on his saves here). The Knights found themselves trapped in a holding pattern where they were clearing off one Flesh Tearers unit each turn, only to be hit by the next, losing an Armiger every turn and falling behind on score. Reserve Armigers weren’t in a position to salvage the situation, and the Astartes romped to a decisive 97-32 victory.
CJs Warlord (with the post-it), about to have a Death Company based accident at work that really wasn’t his fault
The Decisive Moments
Honestly, this match up is the nightmare scenario for CJ. My gameplan loves the profiles he is putting out on the table, and his scoring brings him right into the danger zone. Mission and turn order favoured me, and getting a bit of luck to drop his warlord after an underwhelming round of shooting definitely ensure this one spiralled away from being a fair contest pretty quickly. CJ took it like an absolute champ and was a pleasure to meet and play, but my goodness this one was brutal.
I finished the day in third place, stealing a podium position with a 3-1 and a few high scores to counterbalance my heavy loss in round one. I hadn’t been looking for a high finish so much as some explosive and entertaining games, and I was very chuffed indeed to get both! Incursion scale games are a laugh, prone to getting out of hand for one side very quickly, but quick and punchy, a nice antidote to the full 2K format. My good friend Scrivo had taken second place with his Kill Rig based Orks list, and there was much celebrating and revelry on our way home.
Two happy fellas (Scrivo on the left, yours truly on the right)
Flesh Tearers were a breath of ‘Flesh’ air (why am I like this) from my recent games with GSC, offering a very direct, brutal, and simplistic game plan that is high risk and high reward. They love going first, love making big plays, and have a great toolset for putting the opposition on the back foot and burning out hard and bright. I will absolutely be running them at 2K in the future (it felt wrong leaving Gabriel Seth out so he has to come in down the line), and it felt like the free inferno pistols you get as Blood Angels now definitely helped to mitigate the loss of Armour of Contempt (though secondary scoring might be an issue for them at times). I had a great time at Tabletop Republic as always, and I’ll be back again. If you haven’t given the incursion missions from recent matched play packs a try, I highlight recommend it!
Terminology and FAQs
Thank you for all your kind comments and suggestions after my first article. Please keep these coming, I’m happy to adapt and refine the format and, as I say in my day job, there are no bad questions!
I was asked about some of my terminology last time out so I am going to define some that I used frequently here:
Trading – in 40k terms this means sending out a damage dealing unit to destroy something, usually anticipating its being destroyed in return. The goal here is either to kill more expensive or important units with cheap or less vital ones, or to sacrifice assets in order to pull ahead on scoring. If you are ‘trading well’ it means that losses are playing out favourably for you- a good example being my trading of Death Company units for Armigers (and the warlord) into the Imperial Knights in my final match of this event, which hurt the Knights much more in scoring terms and benefitted me greatly.
‘Limited trading’ is when you are standing off the opposing army at a distance and only sacrificing one or two units a turn- some armies really like to do this as they can score well whilst staying out of harms way, but it can also leave you vulnerable as it doesn’t commit much to fully shutting down the opponent!
Brick – nice easy one this, it’s when you have a large block of a particular unit. Ten Terminators, or 20 Neophytes, a maximum sized unit you’re taking for its damage output or board presence.
Castle- this is a defensive formation, usually with characters, ranged units, and some kind of melee counter push all wrapped up in it, that you use to hold a portion of the board. I do this a lot with GSC, hiding all my buffing characters in a big swarm of Neophytes and Bikers. It works best for defensive game plans and armies- other offence based armies are usually looking to break the castle down!
Lowest of Men, out.
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