Slowly At First, Then All At Once: Norman and Greg’s Road to a Teams RTT

We’re three months into the new ITC season, and it is time for the Reign of Terror 2k22 Presented By Gregbot to begin in earnest. To kick it off we’ll be starting with a bang: a local doubles tournament. I (Norman) heard about the event from someone at my local game store and I was hooked on trying to win the thing from there. For those who aren’t aware, a doubles game is one where you and a partner each bring half an army (1,000 points in this case) and play against other teams in otherwise normal games. Now what you might be saying is “OK, but these are usually casual events” to which we say, you gotta start somewhere. When I (Norman) found out about this event I figured it would be a lot of fun and could think of no better partner than Greg to go super hard into a casual event.

Greg: There’s been a weird scheduling problem for me the last few months, where there haven’t been a lot of events happening locally, and every single time there is, it’s on a weekend where I already have plans. This was the first one in a while that I might actually be able to attend, so I moved some things around to make it work. The doubles format is usually something I’d avoid, unless Rob and I are on a team and can talk wild amounts of trash, but Norman’s a good player and a pretty cool dude, so he can carry the team while I goof around. I also have no intentions, ever, of playing at anything less than Full Power, so everyone else can just go ahead and deal with that.

Here we’ll talk about our preparation for the event, and we’ll check back in later with a rundown of how it went.

Our First Attempt: The Friendmaker

We did not come to play, as will become apparent. Our first thought was to do some seal-clubbing, and come up with the most busted and least-fun list to play against, based on the armies we have access to. I would be bringing my Tau, and Norman would be bringing Custodes.

Greg: My half of the list was brutal in its simplicity. I leaned incredibly hard into spamming the good units, while also relying entirely on models I already own and have painted, and took advantage of a loophole that I’m surprised is still open. 

Tau Broadside Battlesuit with Missiles
Tau Broadside Battlesuit with Missiles. Credit: Jack Hunter

T‘au Empire Spearhead Detachment (Farsight-aligned sept)

HQ: Ethereal (stone/grace) Relic: The Humble Stave
HS: 3 Broadsides: Rail rifle/SMS/ATS
HS: 3 Broadsides: Rail rifle/SMS/ATS
HS: 3 Broadsides: Rail rifle/SMS/ATS

Easy to play, surprisingly durable, absurdly good at shooting, and fully committed to a Bit. The Outer Circle is a gimmick that involves making use of Farsight Enclaves and an oversight in the rules that lets a successor Sept inherit the FSE trait while side-stepping the restriction on Ethereals. On the crucial early turns, with Mont’ka up and the FSE tenet, when targeting anything within 12” you hit it on 3s, and can re-roll all 1s to wound as well as a single other failure. I’m also, personally, a big fan of the ATS. Auto-wounding on sixes is a nice treat, but mostly I love it for Overwatch, where any hit is also automatically a wound. Hilarious.

The downside to this list is that it starts with only 3CP, but here again there’s an angle to shoot. The Humble Stave is a relic that lets an Ethereal chant twice, and have them succeed on a 2 or higher. So our cheap 60 point HQ, in addition to putting a 5+ Feel No Pain on whichever broadsides are firing directly instead of indirectly, can fairly consistently result in my gaining 2CP a turn. Considering the somewhat limited hunger for stratagems in this list, I don’t really care about that, but it’s nice to have.

The plan was simple: Get 2 CP, drop a 5+++ on some of the robots, and stand around obliterating anything in or out of line of sight, while Norman clogged the board with Golden Gods, handling board control and Activities.

This was instantly shot to hell when the Balance Dataslate dropped.

Norman: My half was also made to be as brain dead as possible in order to maximize “friend making”:

Custodes Patrol (Emperor’s Chosen (duh))

Adeptus Custodes Dawneagle Jetbikes by Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

HQ: Trajann
Troop: 3x Shield Guard
Elite: Achilus Dreadnought
FA: 3x Salvo Launcher Bikes
FA: 3x Salvo Launcher Bikes

The plan here was to get the bikes onto the flanks and roll up the middle with Trajann and his big friend while railguns rained down behind him and a unit of shield guard helped keep him safe. Emperor’s Chosen was and sort of still is the obvious choice, and with the ability to turn off re-rolls and Transhuman those incredibly fast bikes I could tie up whatever threats necessary while Greg blasted away. The plan was perfect until, you know.


After the dataslate dropped we needed to go back to the drawing board. We still wanted a hammer and anvil type of pairing, where one side could do activities and screen, and the other could throw ordnance downrange, but with the clobbering that Custodes took that was looking like less of the play here. I (Greg) was in luck. The only nerfs Tau really absorbed were precision-targeted at the exact list I’d written, which I didn’t love, but look on the bright side: that also left me the entire rest of the codex to play with. I (Norman), on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. The inability to easily keep the bikes safe makes for a much more cautious list and we needed something that could play the objective game well.

Greg: This is where things started to go off the rails. I was pretty locked in on T’au, aside from a brief consideration of running Deathwing Terminators, but I needed a new gimmick, one that hadn’t been nerfed to the seventh circle of hell. Fortunately, I own Booley’s Stormsurge.

Tau Stormsurge
Tau Stormsurge. Credit: Jack Hunter

The Stormsurge is basically an Imperial Knight, with twice the shooting, at two thirds the price. As much as I loved my Farsight boys, it also seemed worth it at this point to pivot to Bork’an, because their Sept stratagem – Experimental Weaponry – lets a single gun on a model ignore invulnerable saves. Between that and the half of the sept tent that’s basically a pseudo-Ramshackle (attacks of S7 or less are -1S: effectively this means you’re never wounding a Riptide on a 4, it’s either still a 3 or beaten down to a 5), Big Robots seemed like the way of it.

What I first wanted to do here was run the Stormsurge in a SHA detachment, and a Spearhead full of Riptides. I ran out of points and, as it happens, models, before I could get the full Triptide build in, but two ‘tides and a ‘side would work. It did leave me starting with 2CP though, and that little Ethereal would have to chant his butt off to keep me flush with command points. Since nothing in the army has CORE, his second chant is useless, but I’d still definitely want the Humble Stave just to make sure the CP-regen went off. It’s not like I could take any other relics anyway. The biggest problem with this list was that the Broadside is too small, and I don’t want tiny robots in the Big Boys Club. The second problem was an utter lack of Markerlight support, leaving the Riptides hitting on 4s with no source of rerolls. Not awful, but we can work with this.

We also needed to start planning for Secondaries. The general idea going into an event is that you should have two relatively fixed secondaries that the army is built around, and a short list of picks for the third to flex into based on the opponent and mission. The Big Bots definitely weren’t going to be doing many Activities, and I didn’t have enough models to credibly threaten Engage, so the only things I’d be good for here were To The Last and Grind Them Down. Real Tournament Heads will note that those are in the same category, thus we can’t pick them both. I didn’t want to leave Norman with two secondaries to worry about, so I had to re-factor things a little bit.

Norman: I, uh, went a little nuts post-Dataslate, the first idea was to go for GSC since they can do activities and secondaries really well. The idea was to have a unit of 10 Genestealers using They Came From Below to turn 1 charge something and have a truck of Aberrants bully the center, upgraded with a 5+++. Meanwhile I filled out the rest of the list with minimum sized Acolyte squads to do activities and hold objectives. This was great until I realized I’d probably be picking up my entire army by the end of turn 3. We needed a sturdy anvil upon which the enemy could throw melee threats while the Stormsurge rained unholy hell upon them. So I went to my case and started building lists seemingly at random.

From there I thought “maybe a Wraithknight?” then realized I only owned wraith constructs and that probably wouldn’t go super well with only 1k to work with, as we needed to still be able to play objectives. Then I considered my Chaos Knights. They may have lost ObSec, but they’re all cute as hell and maybe I could win best painted by dazzling the judges with my conversions. There again we ran into the secondary issue: we’d be giving up a ton for Bring It Down and could only really achieve 2 secondaries reliably every game. There was talk of giving one of the War Dogs the Tzeentchian Pyrothrone so he could sit and do warp rituals all game but that seemed like a stretch as to whether it would actually work.

Death Guard command squad by MildNorman
Norman’s Bruisers

Finally, I circled all the way back to my sweet babies, my first ever army, Death Guard. 20 Terminators and a Lord of Contagion (plus some weapon upgrades) is exactly 1k points. They were all obsec now, and I had seen just how tough they are through some test games with the new Armor of Contempt rule. We could easily score Stranglehold and take To The Last, so our primary and secondary plans were on lock. We were good to go. 

Then knights got ObSec back. 

After a ton of back and forth Greg and I landed on two options: if I wanted to try and go for best painted Knights were the move, but if we wanted to win I should do Death Guard. After much deliberation I ended up just flipping a coin so I could stop pinging Greg with me endlessly changing my mind.

The Final List

Greg: So, the final list. I solved my Markerlight problem by throwing a relic on the Warlord that lets him throw out 6 tokens, and had spare points for a couple of drones on the Breachers. Moving to a Patrol cost me a Heavy Rail Rifle, but it gave me back some CP. Worth it.

Tau Riptide
Tau Riptide. Credit: Jack Hunter

Bork’an SHA
LoW: Stormsurge

Bork’an Patrol
HQ: Cadre Fireblade
TR: breachers, 2 markerdrones
HS: Ion/plasma Riptide
HS: Burst/SMS Riptide

With a perfectly fine 5CP to start with, but only gaining 1 a turn, I can’t go quite as hog-wild as I’d like, but again this list isn’t crying out for stratagems: aside from the Bork’an stratagem, it’s basically Overwatch, Jump/Shoot/Jump on a Riptide, the Backup AI to act at top profile for a turn once something gets bracketed, and maybe, at best, one use of Breach And Clear before the Breachers stop existing. I also think the Fireblade has better Synergy with the Breachers than the Ethereal had with, well, anything. Between strats and his abilities, it’s possible for that squad to be jamming out 20 S6/AP-2 shots that hit on 3s re-rolling 1s, with a +1 to wound and ignore cover, out to 12”, and score one auto-wound and a second regular hit on 6s. Anything that fails a charge out of Deep Strike near them is going to have a bad time, and it gives me a unit that can perform Activities.

I’m going to try A Thing here, which is that I can either take Mont’ka, or audible into Kau’yon. Mont’ka is still real solid even with the loss of the AP boost, but this is the first time I’ve ever thought it might not be the default pick, for two reasons. One, the Exemplar of Kau’yon warlord trait will let me re-deploy 3 units, which is, for those of you playing along at home, functionally my entire army. Being able to shuffle the ‘surge and both ‘tides after knowing who won the first turn roll-off is insanely powerful for opening up (or closing) shooting lanes and just generally fucking with people. Two, between the Borkan trait and the durability of the three Big Bots, it’s actually fairly likely that I’d still be alive to make use of the extra hits coming online in turn 3. If I decide to stick with the tried-and-true Mont’ka, I can still re-deploy one of the battlesuits, so it’s probably going to be a game-time decision. More accurately, I’ll pick randomly in round 1, realize it was the wrong choice, and then use the other option in the next two games and realize that that was somehow also wrong.

It was definitely a fun experience trying to make this work. I’m not going to say I was happy about the Balance Dataslate tanking our first attempt, but it did make things more interesting, and having a teammate with whom to work through all this added a new layer to it, which was both confounding and also extremely helpful. I think we have a decent shot at 3-0 here, but I’m choosing to set my goals lower: this is feeling like the best time yet for me to score that first 9th edition game win at an event.

Norman: The coin showed heads, so Death Guard it was! My list is braindead simple with exactly 2 datasheets in the whole thing.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


Death Guard Vanguard
HQ: Lord of Contagion w/ Gloaming Bloat and The Warp Insect Hive
Elite: 10x Blightlord Terminators w/ 2x Flails, 2x Blight Launchers and the Plague Skull of Glothila
Elite: 5x Blightlord Terminators w/ Flail and Reaper Autocannon
Elite: 5x Blightlord Terminators w/ Flail and Reaper Autocannon

A poxwalker could probably play this list but it’s also exactly what we needed. The big block of terminators and the character go up the middle, trying to threaten as many objectives as they can as soon as they can, while the two 5 man squads go around the sides. That’s it. Gloaming Bloat will help keep the backline alive if I can get the Lord of Contagion in range of threats that would be re-rolling against them, while also helping keep the 10 man terminator squad as frustrating as possible to shift. Meanwhile the Plague Skull of Glothilla gives us a once per game Mortal Wound bomb that we can toss out to help the 10 man squad not get stuck, or snipe a low health character. It’s about as elegant as a hammer but a big blunt object should be exactly what we need. I think we have a real shot of winning this thing, mostly because of all the overthinking we’ve been doing. Either that or the 0-3 curse will continue to follow Greg and I’ll be caught up in it too.

Come back next week, when we’ve actually done this thing, and we can talk about how it went.