Quickfire Tournament Report – Battlefield Birmingham

As readers of my reports last week will know, this past weekend was another tournament, Battlefield Birmingham. Unfortunately, as we’ll see I had a rather rough time of it on the Sunday, and have also had an extraordinarily busy week at work, which has thus far killed my impetus to write this up. However, I don’t want to let the window slip away, so what I’ve resolved to do is to very quickly power through my games in a single post, because there are some useful takeaways that I don’t want to lose, and I know that some people really enjoy these. I’ll be going into my next round of events both fresh and (hopefully) at a slightly quieter time at work in April, so look forward to some more in-depth reports then (plus maybe a review of Vigilus 2 if it lands in the interim).

The Army

When I wrote my LWG report I was, if you remember, mostly happy with my list other than questioning the value of the Autarch given he can’t have a Banshee mask in ETC style missions. Originally I was going to sneak in some more characters and some upgrades, but after experimenting with the maths a bit I found a way to squeeze in a slightly bigger swap that I thought might be well suited to the metagame, and ended up with this:
Army List - Click to expand

+ BEST IN FACTION: Not Eligible
+ ARMY FACTIONS USED: Aeldari, Drukari, Alaitoc
== Battalion Detachment == Mixed Drukari [567pts] +5CP
HQ: Archon (Black Heart) (70), Venom Blade (2) [72pts]
WARLORD - Labyrinthine Cunning
HQ: Haemoculus (Prophets of Flesh) (70), Electrocorrosive Whip (6), Stinger Pistol (5) [81pts]
HQ: Succubus (Red Grief) (50), Archite Glaive (0), Splinter Pistol (0) [50pts]
FREE RELIC - The Blood Glaive, COMBAT DRUGS - Adrenalight (+1A)

Troops: 5 Kabalite Warriors (Black Heart) (30), Sybarite (0), Shredder (8) - [38pts]
Troops: 5 Kabalite Warriors (Black Heart) (30), Sybarite (0) - [30pts]
Troops: 5 Wracks (Prophets of Flesh) (45), Acothyst (0), Venom Blade (2) - [47pts]

FA: 5 Scourges (60), Solarite (0), 4 Haywire Blasters (32) - [92pts]
FA: 5 Scourges (60), Solarite (0), 4 Haywire Blasters (32) - [92pts]

DT: Venom (Black Heart) (65pts), Twin Splinter Rifle (0) - [65pts]

== Battalion Detachment == Alaitoc [900pts] +5CP
HQ: Warlock Skyrunner (65), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2), Witchblade (0) [67pts]
POWERS: Jinx/Protect
HQ: Farseer (110), Witchblade (0) [110pts]
POWERS: Doom, Exectioner

Troop: 5 Dire Avengers (40), Exarch (0), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (15), Exarch Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (3) - [3pl] [58pts]
Troop: 5 Dire Avengers (40), Exarch (0), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (15), Exarch Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (3) - [3pl] [58pts]
Troop: 10 Guardian Defenders (80), Guardian Heavy Weapon platform (5), Shuriken Cannon (10) [95pts]

DT: Wave Serpent (120), Twin Shuriken Cannon (17), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) - [139pts]
DT: Wave Serpent (120), Twin Shuriken Cannon (17), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) - [139pts]

HS: Night Spinner (110), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2), Crystal Targeting Matrix (5) - [117pts]
HS: Night Spinner (110), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2), Crystal Targeting Matrix (5) - [117pts]

== Air Wing Detachment == Alaitoc [532pts] +1CP
Flyer: Hemlock Wraithfighter (200), Spirit Stones (10) - [210pts]
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), 2 Starcannons (26) - [161pts]
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), 2 Starcannons (26) - [161pts]

All aboard the bullshit bus once more.

The big change is losing the Guardian bomb for a second Wave Serpent. I made this swap for two key reasons:

  • I was worried about eversor assassins – a single Eversor can plausibly go through a whole guardian bomb in a fight phase, and can very reliably be deployed as a counter, making using the bomb very risky against them (and I expected a few).
  • Battlefield Birmingham uses fixed psychic powers, and my calculation was that I wanted “Executioner” on my Farseer in the matches where it mattered more than I wanted Guide when it didn’t.

I was a bit apprehensive about this but I’m basically happy with the call – the second wave serpent came in handy a lot of the time, and I honestly might stick with this version for a bit and see how it plays (especially given I have some other changes planned that might help with some of what the bomb normally does for me, more later).

Otherwise it’s largely window dressing and squeezing free points out, plus adding CTMs to the Night Spinners so they can be a bit more mobile some of the time. I will say that while saving the points is good, I missed having one of the CH’s armed with lances more than I was expecting – there are some targets where the lances are just really good, so I actually think one of each might be justified when you have the points (but it’s still a sensible way to free up 14 if you need them).

The Games

I’ll very quickly summarise the mission rules in each one. In addition, for all games except round 4 we were playing ITC style “kill more” as an additional secondary (which worked really well amidst the maelstrom).

Round 1 – Imperium

I kicked off round one against an ETC player with:

  • Two Castellans
  • Gallant
  • Admech Battalion
  • Two Eversors
  • A Culexus

The game was 3 cards a turn, plus 3VP End-of-game for objectives 1-4

…that’s quite a round 1!

Pure filth

Luckily we were on a table with a big central terrain piece that was non-navigable by knights, so the plan was basically:

  • Swing hard towards whichever flank the non-bulwarked Castellan is on.
  • Brutally murder it.
  • Hold the gallant up with planes.
  • Profit?

This…honestly largely worked. The non-bulwarked castellan was isolated on the left flank, and while I substantially low-rolled against it turn 1, his first and second turns were also significant low-rolls (other than my warlock being consumed by a mixture of a perils and a re-rolled vehicle explosion still going off, which was a bit of a yikes). On my second turn I *just* took out the first Castellan, and that left a substantial portion of my forces threatening his quarter, where most of the scoring objectives were.

The Castellan is surrounded and taken down.

That forced him to turn his other knights around and hope his assassins could take out my castle, but my character squad managed to put them down.

…but his buddies come take revenge.


Things didn’t go all my way, however – while I eventually dropped the second Castellan he made a nasty mess of a lot of my stuff first, and we ended up with the game ending on 5 on a draw. We forgot to count the EOG objectives in our scoring, but we were both holding 1 so it cancelled out. I could have taken a win if it had gone to 7, simply because I was holding “behind enemy lines” with “priority orders received” and my archon was desperately sprinting towards his deployment zone, but other than that I had too little stuff left to do much, and a draw felt about right for how the game

Game Score: 17-16 to me (a draw under the scoring rubric)

Score: 0-0-1

…honestly, I’ll take a draw here, this was a great game of 40K!

Round 2 – Astra Militarum

My opponent had:

  • Banehammer
  • Pask.
  • Some other Russes/Commanders
  • Some infantry in Chimeras
  • Vigilus Artillery company with:
    • 2 Basilisks
    • 2 Wyverns
  • Big blob of Rough Riders
  • Some other minor things.

This should be a good matchup, though the Wyverns, while a bit our of favour in general, are very good against me.

Nasty tankses

Game was end of game objectives on 1-6 plus “Contact Lost” (draw 1 card at the start of each turn for each objective you hold).

My opponent went first, but this was basically an exercise in discovering exactly how little damage a guard tank company does to an Alaitoc army under prepared positions (i.e. almost nothing). He did manage to blow my wracks away with a Wyvern, but otherwise my whole army was still live.

…with logical consequences.

I responded by blowing up his Banehammer and starting tying up his tanks with Wave Serpents, and importantly got over the key hump of depleting his stuff that could kill my planes before it managed it. From there it should have been a fairly easy slide to victory, but I think that’s underselling what my opponent managed – while I did end up with a win, between good use of an especially metal unit of rough riders and good use of other assets, my opponent made me work hard for the win in what’s on-paper pretty much my best matchup, right up to the point of me having to bodily cover an objective with a plane to stop his warlord sprinting over and claiming a “Priority Orders” on it and threatening to take me down to a minor win or draw. Very well played from him to make a real game out of a tough matchup where I started strong.

Score: 24-14 to me (max win)

Match Score: 1-0-1

Round 3 – Imperial Knights

He had:

  • Krast Crusader w/ Ion Bulwark and Headsman’s Mark
  • Warden w/ Endless Fury
  • Gallant w/Landstrider
  • Errant
  • Admech Battalion

Mission was “Disruptive Signals” (4 cards, can spend Cp to turn an opponent’s card off for a turn) and “supplies from above”, a screaming pit of madness in which objectives can move and you score them at the start of your turn.

Lots of gigantic, beautifully painted robots on the table.

This is pretty much the baseline of “horrible stuff you can do with the Knight Codex” and an inevitably tough matchup. Helpfully, the table once again had central terrain (as you can see above) that wasn’t really knight-navigable, which meant the plan was pretty much the same – break hard to one flank, clear out the knight there, then force the rest to come to me and pick them off one at a time.

Given the warlord crusader is the one I want dead the most, and the one on the left above, that means it’s probably the priority target, which is potentially going to mean leaving at least one Night Spinner behind to distract the other knights.

“Luckily” (imagine those air quotes are extremely big) both spinners got blown to pieces on his turn 1, so I didn’t really even have anything to leave behind! With three knights on one flank and just the Crusader on the other, this “locked me in” to breaking left – without the spinners the kill would be a bit dicey but I had to go for it, as another turn of Headsman’s shooting would leave me with too little left. Luckily, with the full “Doom, Jinx, Vect on rotate” combo and bringing  everything to bear on it, I just got the kill, and it blew up in a helpfully contained way and atomised a tech priest as well.

I have Marie-Condoed the crap out of this half of the board.

My warlord also sacrificed himself because I drew “Priority orders” on objective 2 and rolled a big advance to get him on it, and honestly given he wasn’t going to do much this game, and we’d both burned huge piles of CP already, binning him for 4VP seemed worth it.

From there the game went pretty much perfectly – the next turn my scourges came in and, with doom and the planes helping, took out the Endless Fury knight, while my Venom dropped in to harrass one half of his back line and the infantry and serpents reached the other. From here the game was academic – some planes and a squad of scourges were still up with little that could kill them efficiently. I finished blowing him off the board on 5, and we were playing “acceptable casualties” and the game went on to 7, allowing me to rack up a truly horrendous VP score (which wasn’t entirely fair on my opponent – if the game had ended on five I believe it would have been 28-22, and I think that’s a bit more representative.

Score: 43-22 to me (max win)

Match Score: 2-0-1

Game 4 – Talos

Oh no, they back.

  • 6 Talos
  • 8 Grotesques
  • 3 ravagers
  • Drukari characters
  • Eldrad
  • Spiritseer,
  • 3x Dire Avengers
  • 3x Wracks

Dominate and Destroy (full kill points, progressive per objective) and Targets of Opportunity (draw 3 a turn, lose them on your next).


Story 1 of this game was “yet again against Talos, my dice were dumpster trash, his were great, I lost”. Dice “highlights” included a Talos on 4W taking 5 unsaved damage and making 4/5 6+++’es, and a Haemoculus attacking a 2W Doomed, Jinxed Grotesque to clear him out of my deployment zone to score a point, hitting 5 times then failing all 10 4+ wound rolls.

Story 2 is “I saw Talos and went on tilt and probably did the wrong plan”. My dice were so bad that it might not have helped, but after “kill the Ravagers first” failed last time I was back on the plan of “try and dumpster a Talos unit”. This was plain wrong here – again that nice big bit of terrain would have let me break hard to the left, effectively taking the grotesques out of the game for a while, probably snipe out two Ravagers turn 1 then play a very cautious game from there. Instead, I went right, Doomed a Talos unit, failed the cast on the Jinx (with him vecting the re-roll) and tried to block the grotesques with the planes. Unfortunately, he rolled high against one of them and killed it, then rolled a very long charge to get his grotesques through the hole into my army, and with the dice I was getting I definitely couldn’t come back from that sucker punch.

Things go bad.

The learning point here is that I just need to try and be calm the next time I see this matchup – I still think I would have lost if I’d played perfectly, but at least we’d have had more of a game.

Given I got blown off the board and this was progressive scoring, he obviously got an outrageous amount of VP.

Score: 30-74 (lol)

Matches: 2-1-1

Round 5 – Craftworlds

He had:

  • 3 Prisms
  • 2 Hemlocks
  • Dark Reapers
  • Shining Spears
  • Dire Avengers
  • Guardian bomb
  • Characters

Another extremely pretty army

The big target here is obviously the Hemlocks – much like my Eldar game last time, I really want to kill one if I go first, and he wants to kill mine if he does.

Luckily I went first and just about took one out, and in terms of flow of the actual game, this looks fantastic – while I had a few moments of bad dice, I pressed forward, took stuff out, controlled space, killed things efficiently, and by the end of the game held 3/4 of the EOG scoring objectives (having controlled 4/6 of the objectives pretty much all game), had 2 largely unscathed Night Spinners, my warlord, some infantry and my psykers still up against a badly crippled Fire Prism, 6 dire avengers and an Autarch on 2W, pressed into the corners on his board edge.

I lost this game by 1 point.

Unfortunately, we were playing Deadlock. I am a firm believer that Maelstrom is a workable tournament format if you stick to the missions that minimise Maelstrom’s issues. Deadlock is not one of them.

In Deadlock, you start with 6 cards on turn 1, then have 5 on turn 2 (drawing or discarding as needed), 4 on turn 3 etc. The big problem with this is that, because you can only discard 1 card a turn, if you draw 6 very bad cards turn 1, you can end up in a situation where you can score hardly anything all game, because you can’t get the cards out of your hand fast enough. This is what happened here – I scored 5 points on cards this game to my opponent’s 15, because I drew a starting hand of very hard to score things, while his cards were very good, notably including “defend” cards for the two objectives he had and “gimme” kill cards. Even despite all of that, without a string of unfortunate events in turns 4 and 5, or the game going to 6, I might have salvaged a draw – I had blood and guts for the duration of these, during which 1 dire avenger managed to survive being attacked by a full squad of Kabalites, a Fire Prism survived on one wound after my Succubus and Haemi attacked it, then my Haemi got the Farseer down to 1 wound, had him locked in combat then…the nearby Dire avengers lobbed a grenade at aforesaid Fire Prism, it died, blew up, and atomised both the Farseer and Haemi. With a sixth turn, I could also have blown his Dire Avengers off the fourth scoring objective (my Farseer could get in range for executioner) and taken that, another route to a draw.

This was the game that really hurt and why I’ve put off writing this – much like the last game the previous time, despite having a good go at this game I really felt like there was nothing I could do to win based on things outside my control. Obviously that happens sometimes, but I’m a little frustrated that it’s been the story of (now) three tournaments running – a good start is taken down by some games of rotten luck.

Score: 18-22

Matches: 2-2-1

Army Round Up

The good news out of this weekend is that fellow Goonhammer writer Corrode did exceptionally well, managing a 5-0 and a podium finish, and there’s nothing like mates doing well to cheer you up after a bad run.

The other good news is that while I’m salty about how day 2 went, this was an event where I have 5/5 games of 40K against great opponents who I’d play again in a heartbeat, which certainly helped dull the sting of day 2 a bit.

While the army underperformed, I was happy with the Wave Serpent swap, and am probably going to keep that for the forseeable. What notably underperformed here were the Wracks, which I think are a strictly ITC choice going forward. In ITC, the value of an objective is “predictable”, so you don’t mind having a unit that you can choose to either allocate to sitting on 1 or doing something else. In the ETC style missions of BB, they spent several games doing literally nothing, sitting on an objective that never became relevant.

The thing that has consistently overperformed in both ETC and ITC is deep striking the Venom. This turns out to be a really, really good addition to my setup, providing a bit of reach and harassment in a package that needs a lot less support than the guardian bomb, and is less easily killed by some kinds of counter. My plan for what I’m going to test next time (which is another ETC style event) is somewhat doubling down on this – remove the Wracks, take out the two non-archon characters then use the freed-up points to put in a second Archon, have three min squads of Kabalites with shredders and put the Raider back in.

I mean this Autarch body needed repurposing anyway (after the tragic and inexplicable theft of its Banshee-mask wearing head), so why not?

Load up the Raider with two Shredder squads, the Venom with one then use Screaming Jets to deep strike both and that’s a heck of a package. The second Archon can then take either the Parasite’s kiss or the Djin Blade (matchup dependent) and do either the line guardian or roving assassin role. This also gets me back on being an actual “Black Heart” detachment, which is worth it once I have the second Vehicle.

I’ve run the points and I can do that by squeezing a few things elsewhere (swapping in some scatter lasers on Wave Serpents, for example), and I’m quite interested to try it – it takes out all the things that sometimes didn’t do much (the character squad, the wracks) and adds in more stuff with a delivery mechanism that means they’ll pretty much always contribute without sacrificing the core of what makes the army work.

Wrap Up

I hope this has still been a good read, and apologies again that it’s a bit briefer than normal. Tune back in next month for my write ups around the BIG Bristol GT (where I’ll be defending my title as winner of the only 2-dayer held for 8th edition thus far at BIG) and Glasshammer Gaming’s “St George’s Champion” event, where terrible alchemy involving the mixing of ETC and ITC rules is going to be attempted, hopefully with good results.

Thanks for reading!