Four of Goonhammer’s AoS team happen to be going to the same event in January so we sat down and wrote about it. In fairness, three of them are on the same team…but prepping for a teams event format takes a bit more planning and communication than a “normal” grand tournament.
What is the team format, and why does it rule?
Most Warhammer fans will be familiar with the normal event or tournament format where you take your army up to a certain points cost (most often 2,000) and play a series of games one after another against single opponents. Simple. Many will also be familiar with Doubles formatting where you and a friend (or acquaintance? Or something?) pair up with a smaller army each and play against another set of 2 players with their own mini-armies. This is referred to as two-headed giant in the Magic the Gathering Community and works along the same principle: you’re acting as a single side against one other single side. Teams is a bit different and can range in the number of players on each.
What teams isn’t is a mega battle with 6 people on each side all playing the same game. While that can be fun for some it usually takes all day and isn’t very compelling for a multi-game event! Instead it’s a group of individual players that will have adhered to stricter list building across their team playing individual games against 1 other person. They’re 1v1 games with a twist.
In order to match these individual opponents up teams will draft the specific matches. To avoid this becoming a scrum an event will usually require teams to have nominated captains, or even non-playing coaches, to do this away from the team at the start of the round. There isn’t another feeling in Warhammer like finishing a draft and turning around to see your entire team gnashing and wailing at you in agony over it.
What does that mean though? How players build their armies and lists can vary quite a bit to “normal” GT lists to be less all-comers styled armies and lean into specific play styles a little more freely. Team Captains can help ensure there are no incredibly unfavourable matches to their team or at least save themselves if they’re playing by matching up what they don’t to play against with someone
Part of the stricter list building mentioned means that each team can’t just spam out all of the best toys all of the time. The restrictions are what makes this format far more interesting since it means you’ll likely be playing against a larger variety of armies even on “top” tables.
For Brotherhood each team can only include one of any given faction. So you can’t have a team that’s just 6 Cities of Sigmar players or anything like that! But also no duplicate warscrolls across multiple players either; so can’t have multiple Gotreks across various Order armies.
Team members can take each Grand Strategy up to twice each, which is largely fine and doesn’t stop too much depending on what armies are chosen. The current battlepack doesn’t really have too many auto-take Grand Strategies like previous ones have, enough factions are opting to try and score one from their own book.
On top of needing to have 6 separate factions there are no duplicate Enhancements allowed either. This really only affects using the core-rule and General’s Handbook artefacts, spells, prayers, etc. Knowing that only one team member can make use of Hoarfrost can definitely make a difference in how players put their lists together. Of course those decisions will have to be made between the team – whether they can come to an agreement amicably or need to draw pistols at dawn is down to them…
Preparing for Teams
This is my second teams event after playing in one at LGT in 2021 with Fyreslayers in early 3rd edition. Since then I’ve still really only been playing with Fyreslayers, other than missing out one GHB entirely while being distracted by other games…
So naturally I decided to start a whole new army for this event in November, giving me about 2 months to build and paint it as well as learning how it actually works. Honestly I’ve gotten pretty frustrated with Fyreslayers in a competitive setting as well as wanting a change of pace. Here I am writing this mid-December with a Gloomspite Gitz army fully painted up and ready to put on the table; it’s not quite the army I’d like to take to Brotherhood but it’ll work if I don’t get anything else done in time.
So far I’ve got painted:
- Trugg – which I did for review back in September
- Dankhold Troggboss
- Fungoid Cave Shaman
- 2 Madcap Shamans
- 12 Rockgut Troggoths
- 20 Stabbas
- 10 Boingrot Bounderz
- 12 Squig Herd
- 5 Sporesplatta Fanatics
There’s a few pieces I’d like to get together like Skragrott and a second unit of Sporesplattas, leaning harder on the troggs and not squigs in general, but using most of that makes for a reasonable army anyways. I haven’t played against Gitz much at all this edition and really underestimated just how vast the toolbox is and how strong so many units actually are, and not just the Bounderz which have been doing the competitive rounds.
The setup here regardless of what else I put together is using the Troggboss as a General with Alpha Trogg and the Glowy Howzit to make him as hard to kill as possible with extra wounds, a 4+ ward, and becoming a Monster for rampages to turn off commands. Always using both units of Rockguts because they’re just incredibly tough to kill and hit like a freight train. Trugg is great too as long as he stays under the Bad Moon’s Light for +1 save and can be very difficult to remove even without a Ward using Finest Hour, Mystic Shield, and All Out Defence as needed for massive bonuses to save while healing D3+3 wounds.
As far as being Teams-Friendly my army isn’t planning on using any of the enhancements available to any of my teammates. Using just Gitz spells, artefacts, and grand strategy allows my teammates who really “need” Hoarfrost or Spellcasting Savant to take them without issue. Whether my other teammates will be fighting over Hoarfrost is entirely up to them, it’s not my fault!
I’m 7 games in so far with this army and loving how it plays but need to get more practice since I’m still slow deciding battle tactics and checking the Gitz book a little too often for stats and battle tactic specifics. Just comes with practice! Luckily there’s plenty to get another half dozen games in before hopefully and maybe get some other units pained up for more options too.
I’ve done a few team events at this point – a couple of previous iterations of Brotherhood, plus a 4-person Bloodtithe event at London GT a few years ago. I really enjoy the extra tactical layer that comes in the drafting stage and knowing that every point you scrape for your team could be the difference between victory and defeat! I think there’s a tendency in solo events to focus on winning, because without 5 wins across a weekend you’re almost certainly not going to get the podium. Whilst winning is still important in a team setting, you open the possibility for playing an army that is reliably going to scrape a close loss even when it doesn’t win, and put points in the team’s coffers still.
I have a dreadful tendency of switching armies a lot, and as a painter first I’m normally more motivated by creating a new army for an event than I am by reliable reps and gaming experience. This event is no different really – I’ve been working on an Ironjawz project for a few months now, with the intent of running them at Brotherhood. I do finally have 2,000 points finished, so the remaining time before list submission is going to be spent refining lists and painting extra units to swap in.
Ironjawz don’t feel in a fantastic place at the moment. Occasionally a list pops up on a podium somewhere, but by and large they seem to be struggling as an all-comers force. They effectively have one trick – hit hard and fast, and take the wind out of your opponent’s sails before they can establish board presence. There are a few great, hard-hitting pieces in the army – for my money the new Brute Ragerz and Maw-Grunta Gouger are fantastic, as well as being great targets for the Warchanters’ Violent Fury (+1 damage) ability. Brutes and Gore-Gruntas are a fairly reliable core, and the Maw-Krusha is an un-ignorable threat (although it does seem to die very quickly). Success with the army lies in getting these pieces into play at the right time, and making sure they are trading beyond their own value. Hard in a solo tournament, but something that feels more feasible when there is some matchup control.
My current painted force also includes two blocks of the new Ardboyz. I’m very torn on these – they’re quite an effective screen, and harder to shift than expected on a 3+ save and 2 wounds each, however they’re also over 200 points per block of 10 which feels very spendy. I’m really pleased with how I’ve painted mine though, with lots of freehand on the shields, and think they add some great visual impact to the army when setting it up for painting votes/nominations (honestly, normally what I’m shooting for at events). It’s hard to imagine a list where those points aren’t more effectively used on units of Brutes and Gruntas though.
Other changes I’m planning are to include some magic in the force, namely a Weirdnob Shaman. I think the magic focus of the Andtor pitched battles season is impossible to ignore, and in my practice games so far I’ve been finding myself struggling for battle tactics, so opening up Magical Dominance/Magical Mayhem should help with that. Beyond that, I need to be more conscious of setting up for Surround and Destroy/Intimidate the Invaders, getting the points on the board early in the game.
So with that list of thoughts on the army – not enough magic, expensive screens, a good core of models but perhaps lacking a bit of utility – there seems to be one obvious choice, which would be to switch the army to Big Waaagh. Hobgrots make for a good screen, The Wurrgog Prophet and Gobsprakk are great casting threats, and the core of the army can still be Ironjawz’ effective combat units. I’m currently undecided on this, I’ve got some reservations over my ability to play it effectively with so much to remember, and this has come out in some practice games as just forgetting key buffs at important parts of the turn. However practice would improve this, and the army does seem a bit more capable than pure Ironjawz. So in short, I haven’t quite decided yet! Overall I’m just really looking forward to the fun atmosphere of the team event, catching up with some friends and getting some great games in. I can’t wait!
I’ve been wanting to play the new Cities of Sigmar since they first dropped and, with the full release and FAQ meaning they’re now fully legal for tournament play, they were my first and only pick when it came to Brotherhood. Luckily the strength of the book meant that the rest of my team didn’t need too much convincing.
I’ve played a few team events in the past, including Brotherhood a couple of years ago, so I’m familiar enough with the format, though I leave the nitty gritty of the match ups and pairings to people far smarter about these things than me. When it comes to building a list however, I’ve learnt that avoiding skew lists, ones with very strong and very weak matchups, is normally the way to go. I wanted a list that could take all comers, and perform on all missions, to make it as easy as possible when it came to match ups.
I settled on a cavalier centric build, partly because the human side of the army interests me the most, partly because I felt it offered a nice well rounded list. Between the various buffs the army gives out, and the solid warscrolls of the cavaliers, you can have a durable, fast, and hard hitting army.
I also took the novel approach (for me) of getting some practice in with the army before the tournament. I’ve had a casual game and gone to a tournament now with different variations of the list, and from what I’ve learnt tweaked it further. The core of the army, command corps, cavaliers, cavalier marshal, and warforger, were all set, but I’ve been tweaking with the number of cavaliers, the types of screens, and the addition of a monster. Though I considered a more mixed arms force, I’m currently looking at a list that goes heavy on the cavaliers and includes a Freeguild Marshal on Gryphon, to take advantage of a potential flying 3D6” counter charge.
With no restrictions on how many times battalions could be taken, list building from a team perspective became a lot easier. While I wouldn’t say the Cities book enhancements are particularly strong, they’re good enough that I don’t feel like I need the universal ones, allowing me to leave them for the rest of the team. The biggest impact is definitely the GHB spell lore, and while it’s always good to have a blizzard in your back pocket, it wasn’t something that my list relied on.
From a hobby perspective, Cities of Sigmar was an army that I loved, but couldn’t quite find a theme for before. I’ve never met an army I didn’t want to convert, so finding a strong identity for them was really important for me. I recently settled on a soulsborne style, grimdark hunting force that really clicked and, with the upcoming tournament, has given me a lot of motivation to get the army done. It’s been great having the drive to get things modelled up and painted to try out, even if they don’t make the final list.
I’ve got one more tournament coming up before Brotherhood, the Bristol Brawl also in January. Both tournaments have the same submission deadline so I’ll for sure be taking the same army to both. Several of my teammates are going as well, so it’ll be a great chance for us all to get some reps in with our armies and discuss tactics. A double header of tournaments feels like a great finale for this little hobby and gaming journey, but considering how much I’ve been enjoying playing Cities, I’m sure they’ll be hitting the table top again soon after.
When the last battlescroll dropped every Deepkin player’s eyes turned into the shark emoji and started bulging out of their heads like a horny cartoon and so here I am enjoying the classic competitive warhammer experience of “owning multiple thousands of points of an army but still painting something new for every event”.
I’ve played Deepkin off and on all edition now and my thoughts on the battletome are broadly that it’s deeply mediocre – not great at scoring and with too much glass and not enough cannon. The changes to Fuethán feel like a bit of a desperation patch to tide the army over before things get shaken up in fourth, there’s no more points to drop without getting silly so it’s machinegun shark time.
That being said, the sharks cropping up in CI every week are being spammed in a way I can’t replicate – 9s (in three bloodthirsty shivers) are the new normal. I went into this new battlescroll period with five, so painting up the extra one to do double shiver is a no-brainer but I can’t bring myself to do more than that. These single scroll spam armies never last long un-nerfed and it’s just too money and time expensive to continually chase that bleeding edge. So instead I’ve inserted what I enjoy to play with: a smash king and a block of 6 Morrsarr Guard. Kings are just great and can go on little rampages of destruction swinging around rend -3 damage 3 attacks, plus giving you an extra turn of High Tide is massive in keeping what is an incredibly fragile army intact. Dropping a King High Tide in battle round 2 can give you two back-to-back alpha turns. The Morrsarr Guard are, uh, personal flair? I love using them and they always do well for me, but I’m acutely aware that nobody else is taking these in any capacity.
This army build tones down the shooting significantly and forces me to commit more of an army than is ideal onto objectives, though in return I do get a powerful counter-attacking force and a bit more beef than sharks on their own provide. My practice games have been close so far – the shooting is swingy and it comes down to the nitty gritty of points scoring and that’s where I’ve been having issues. Really I need to knuckle down and think about battle tactics more deeply, but that’s boring. If all else fails I have a Sylvaneth army that I do have decent reps and results in this season.
On the Road
Brotherhood is about a month away and we have the whole festive period to get through first. We’ll be back post-event to talk about how it went, what armies we actually ended up taking (will Bair decide last-minute to just take Fyreslayers anyways? It’s very possible), and most importantly how much we enjoyed the format.
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