SRM’s Road to Adepticon Part 2: Smoothbrain Mode Activated

This will be my last check-in before the event itself, so I’ll give a quick reminder of what I’m playing in each day at Adepticon:

  • Thursday: Kill Team Pod: A short Kill Team event run by Games Workshop
  • Friday: Necromunda Into the Wastes: A Necromunda Ash Wastes event with a fittingly chill vibe
  • Saturday: Age of Sigmar Dawnbreaker: A 4-round, 1000 point tournament aimed at newer and less competitive players
  • Sunday: Battletech Open: A 3 round non-elimination tournament where players are able to choose from prescribed of pairs of mechs, supplied by the organizers

This chronological series of events fortunately provides my article with a semblance of structure, which I will be following hereafter.

Kill Team

Elucidian Starstriders. Credit: SRM

As luck would have it, in the weeks prior to Adepticon, my FLGS ran a “learn 2 kill a team day” in preparation for a tournament in April. My goal with this learning day was to determine if the Elucidian Starstriders I painted last year were worth taking, or if I should just take my minimum brain power Intercessor team instead. After playing through a few practice matches and learning how to actually play this damn game, I can confidently say these Starstriders will be striding their way to Illinois. Every turn they can call down the fist of God and zap some dudes from orbit, their specialists are rather potent, and even the rank and file voidsmen are reliable enough and easily loaded up to be something more lethal and durable. I rocked my way through their practice games and had a ton of fun lighting up Orks and Admech. Kill Team just feels modern in a way that 40k doesn’t, and is immensely satisfying to play. I wish they went with inch increments instead of colored symbols and plastic measuring devices, but pobody’s nerfect.


Goliath Mauler. Credit: SRM

Unfortunately, I have not had time to play any games of Ash Wastes before Adepticon, and as February gave way to march I realized I had to paint up a second Mauler to go with The Butchers’ Bloc, my Goliath gang. As luck would have it, Goonhammer Patron, Badcast Patron, and personal friend of mine, Quinn, gave me some Maulers for Crimbo. I built this model one day and painted it the next, and, as with in my review coverage, I found it to be a speedy and pleasant experience. A pair of them with a few upgrades will fit into the 400 credits of vehicle allotments in the event, and I can probably build a standard Goliath gang in my sleep at this point – badabing, badaboltgun.

Age of Sigmar

Slaves to Darkness Chosen. Credit: SRM

This is the event I have done the most prep for, carefully rereading my Slaves to Darkness Battletome and figuring out a list and strategy that will work for me. This is also where the title of this article comes into its own. Echoing Greg’s banger article about playing The Least Army, I decided to build a force that was easy to use, limited in its tricks, and painfully straightforward to play. I also painted 10 Chosen, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get to ram them into somebody’s deployment zone.

SRM's Himbo Heathens

Allegiance: Slaves to Darkness
– Damned Legion: Host of the Everchosen
– Grand Strategy: Take What’s Theirs
– Triumphs:
Chaos Sorcerer Lord (120)*
– General
– Command Trait: Arch-sorcerer
– Artefact: Arcane Tome
– Mark of Chaos: Slaanesh
– The Lore of the Damned: Binding Damnation
– Aspect of the Champion: Leadership of the Alpha
10 x Chaos Chosen (480)*
– Mark of Chaos: Slaanesh
– Ensorcelled Banner: The Banner of Screaming Flesh
10 x Chaos Warriors (220)*
– Hand Weapon & Shield
– Mark of Chaos: Khorne
– Ensorcelled Banner: The Banner of Rage
9 x Untamed Beasts (90)*
– Mark of Chaos: Undivided
9 x Untamed Beasts (90)*
– Mark of Chaos: Undivided

Untamed Beasts. Credit: SRM

With Host of the Everchosen, my dudes are all Battleline, I get an extra banner, and my Warriors and Chosen rally on a 5+. That’s good, I think? They’re also all in a Battle Regiment for that sweet single drop deployment. My sorceror will only ever be casting a few spells, two of which he can muster a turn: the one that gives my dudes +1 to hit and wound, Binding Damnation to make my enemies fight last, and Mystic Shield for that +1 armor if no baddies are around. He also hands out a 6+ Ward save to a friendly unit with no casting roll, which is welcome. A Banner of Screaming Flesh lets my Chosen run and charge, plus they get the movement bonuses from Slaanesh to really book it. The Banner of Rage on my Khorne Warriors will let them hit a bit harder, as all those stock 3+/3+ rend -1 attacks often underperform for me. As for the Untamed Beasts, they’re here to range in front of my main force, maybe snag some objectives early on, and screen my more valuable units. I’d hate to lose out on the charge with my brick of 10 Chosen, so that’s why we brought these chumps along.

Untamed Beasts. Credit: SRM

As for why I chose those two units of Untamed Beasts, I was stuck in a situation where I had exactly enough points leftover to take to one unit of cultists and leave a bunch of points on the table, or take a unit I liked and be 10-20 points over. I had built and primed both groups of 9 almost 2 years to the day of Adepticon, painting one and shoving the other into the back of my backlog. With a bit of the work already done, getting these guys ready to go was realistic, and they’d have some time-saving Contrast applied like the last regiment. The actual process of painting up these 9 dudes and dudettes was honestly pretty miserable, with the sheer amount of straps and bones jutting out of said straps being a real pain. There always seemed to be another detail I’d missed, and as my podcast cohost said in an episode leading up to Adepticon, each of these models has a unit champion’s worth of details on them. It’s an unreasonable amount of work for a unit of chaff, but I had to knock em out, and I wasn’t about to make my second unit look less appealing than my first. I also painted their cloth blue instead of my typical green to distinguish them, which will be important when they stick together like a barrel of monkeys on the battlefield.

I was able to play a single test game with the list to really figure out what makes them tick. Ian, a member of my local gaming group, brought over some Nighthaunt, tortilla chips, and Skunkape IPAs, and we played a full 5-turns. It was a remarkably close 19-21 game, with his ghosties sealing victory only by grabbing their Grand Strategy in the last turn. I had a lot of trouble getting my Battle Tactics off, as well as achieving my own Grand Strategy, Take What’s Theirs. He got the double turn going into turn 2 and I was immediately boxed in, and the only fast-ranging objective grabbers I had doubled as my screening units. The real highlight was buffing my Chosen up to a 2+ to hit and wound, letting them advance and charge with my Slaanesh Command Ability, then yeeting them 12″ before charging with an At the Double order plus the Mark of Slaanesh. That took my ponderous freight train of a hammer unit and let it go pretty much wherever it wanted. I also figured that the easiest Battle Tactic to get off for this army would likely be one that requires me to roll on the Eye of the Gods table. This is typically done by having one of your Eye of the Gods units (characters, usually) kill a monster or opposing character, but there’s a fairly easy to cast spell that gives you a roll on the table right away. With the help of a Slaves to Darkness heroic action that let my wizard roll 3 casting dice instead of 2, I got this one easily on turn 2. I think come Adepticon, I’ll roll that one out turn 1 for some easy initial points. It did cause my wizard’s head to explode, but play Chaotic games, win Chaotic prizes.

I learned a lot over the course of this game, and the fact that I was able to come so close to victory with a new Battletome I’d only played once and a list I’d never played at all boded rather well. Ian is a gracious and skilled opponent, and even if I flub all 4 games at Adepticon, I’m glad we could reconnect and get a game in.


Lyran Commonwealth Stinger, Archer, and Urbanmech. Credit: SRM

The proposed skill level for this event is “expert” which is very, very funny to me. I’ve been playing 40k for 18 years and not only am I not an “expert”, I’ve got a whole podcast about how bad I am at it. Hopefully, with the influx of new blood into one of wargaming’s oldest supported games, I’ll end up against some folks as unpracticed as myself. I roped in one of these fellow unpracticed jamokes – my best friend of 26 years, Ben – and we slammed some of my mechs together.

Over the course of an evening, we played through half of a 4000 BV game. Ben’s approach is thoughtful and lengthy; at one point he made no fewer than three consecutive multiple seconds-long sighs as he carefully considered his moves. Conversely, I played with the level of careful thought and consideration you may expect from a bowling ball finding its way towards the gutter, inexorable in its advance, incapable of thought, and burdened with the intent to knock down and destroy. My Urbanmech trundled along, occasionally slamming the rear armor of his mechs with its AC10, his Locust was Running in the 90s every turn, and my Bushwacker and his Marauder were terrors on the battlefield. I find the general ins and outs of Battletech to be pretty easy to grasp. It’s just a bit of basic math, and the real complexity comes into play when systems get critically damaged, obscure tables need to be rolled on, and when all those rules interact. It’s wonderfully crunchy, though I’m yet to speed through a game.


Necromunda Goliaths. Credit: SRM

I think I’m done painting models for events – not just for Adepticon this year, but altogether. Spending as many days painting 9 Untamed Beasts was not particularly enjoyable, and I developed a not insignificant pain and accompanying stiffness in my neck. Fortunately, I did enjoy playing my Slaves to Darkness an awful lot, and I feel like I “get” what the army and that list are all about. I would have loved to luxuriate in my Maulers and painted both of them, thus sending that box out of my backlog closet and into my recycling bin, but I wanted to err on the side of caution and try not to batch paint them both at once, given the time constraints. I feel like I should have picked a less complex Team with which to Kill than the Elucidian Starstriders, but fortunately an article dropped here on Goonhammer about how to play them that definitely put them in better context for me. Finally, enough muscle memory is in place that I feel I can confidently play Battletech, if not exactly thrive in it, and that’s good enough for me. The lesson here may be “don’t pick 4 different events that require wholly different prep” but we’ll see just how hard that bites me in the ass later this month!

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