The Corroad to NoVA Part 4: Sorry Yncarne, This is the End of Your Road

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Welcome back to the Corroad to NovA! My flight to the US is just 12 days away which is Extremely Soon and it has crept up on me enormously. There’s still more painting to get done than I really want or ever anticipated (check out my smug, lazy past self in parts 1 and 2, and the growing panic in part 3), but I’m confident I can get it done in time.

So what’s changed since then? Well, everything I’m taking is built now, with the exception of a Ravager which needs some emergency sail repairs. I’ve finished painting all my Crimson Hunter Exarchs, which is a big shift out of the way, and done some basecoats on the Ravagers.

Crimson Hunter Exarchs

Look at those painted planes!

I’ve also played some games! Last weekend I played in the London Open Part 2, which used slightly modified ITC missions. This event is run by the LGT team, and while I’ve been highly critical of them in the past, the event was mostly great – the terrain, the big sticking point at the LGT last year, was a huge improvement. The set-up was really good and made for really tactical games. I would absolutely play on it again, and I’m considering using something similar for my own events.

There were a couple of stumbling blocks. We were using BCP for pairings in a venue which was underground with no WiFi, which was a bit challenging, and the TO started the event by saying chess clocks were in use by default and then… had no chess clocks available to use. My opinion is that if you’re making clocks mandatory, then they should be made available, and “use an app on your phone!” isn’t good enough.

That said, none of this spoiled the event at all. I’m not going to write a full report up – I didn’t take enough pictures, and in any case Wings is doing an excellent job (start with his part 1 here). What I will do is briefly talk about my games, what worked and what didn’t, and then what last-minute changes I’m making to my list off the back of the event.

For reference, I ran:

Army List - Click to expand

 

== Air Wing Detachment == Asuryani, Alaitoc [27PL, 483pts] 1 CP

Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), two starcannons (26), pulse laser (0) – [9PL] [161]

Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), two starcannons (26), pulse laser (0) – [9PL] [161]

Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), two starcannons (26), pulse laser (0) – [9PL] [161]

 

== Battalion Detachment == Drukhari, Kabal of the Flayed Skull [39 PL, 800pts] 5 CP

HQ: Archon (70), blaster (17), venom blade (2) – [4PL] [89] – WARLORD

HQ: The Yncarne (337) – [17 PL] [337]

TR: 4 Kabalite Warriors (24), 1 Sybarite (6), 1 shredder (8) – [2PL] [38]

TR: 4 Kabalite Warriors (24), 1 Sybarite (6), 1 shredder (8) – [2PL] [38]

TR: 4 Kabalite Warriors (24), 1 Sybarite (6), 1 shredder (8) – [2PL] [38]

DT: Venom (55), one splinter cannon (10), twin splinter rifle (0) [4PL] [65]

DT: Venom (55), one splinter cannon (10), twin splinter rifle (0) [4PL] [65]

DT: Venom (55), one splinter cannon (10), twin splinter rifle (0) [4PL] [65]

DT: Venom (55), one splinter cannon (10), twin splinter rifle (0) [4PL] [65]

 

== Spearhead Detachment == Drukhari, Kabal of the Black Heart [41PL, 717pts] 1 CP

HQ: Archon (70) splinter pistol (0), venom blade (2) – [4PL] [75] – RELIC: Writ of the Living Muse

HS: Ravager (80), 3 disintegrator cannons (45) [7PL] [125]

HS: Ravager (80), 3 disintegrator cannons (45) [7PL] [125]

HS: Ravager (80), 3 disintegrator cannons (45) [7PL] [125]

Flyer: Razorwing Jetfighter (105), 2 disintegrator cannons (30), twin splinter rifle (0), Razorwing missiles (0) – [8PL] [135]

Flyer: Razorwing Jetfighter (105), 2 disintegrator cannons (30), twin splinter rifle (0), Razorwing missiles (0) – [8PL] [135]

Corrode's Drukhari at London Open

Ready for war PC: Corrode

Game 1 – Aaron (Custodes/IG/Knights)

My first round opponent was Aaron, a nice guy with a list that wasn’t really up to the job. He had a patrol of Custodes with a bike Shield-Captain, a foot Shield-Captain, 3 Custodian Guard, the -1 to hit flag, and a unit of 5 Vertus Praetors, a Knight Errant and two Helverins, and then a loyal 32. He had to change his list last minute because of the ban on taking a Caladius in the format, and it showed.

He tripped me up a little bit by not making his Knight a character, forcing me to switch secondaries, from my planned Gangbusters/Kingslayer/Marked for Death but I could still take Recon, Gangbusters, and Marked for Death which hit on everything I wanted to kill (remember, prioritising by what you want to do anyway is a great way to pick ITC secondaries!) and gave me some fairly easy Recon points.

The game opened with me blasting both his Helverins off the board, then killing his Knight with a combination of shooting and the Yncarne (who promptly lost 5 wounds to it exploding…) and then just chunking through his army from there. The final score was 35-10, his jetbikes never made combat, and overall it was a fairly easy opening game for the Aeldari. 

I always hate an “easy” opening game because I get nervous I’m gonna blow it, but in this case everything went according to plan.

 

Game 2 – James (Tau Empire)

I’d been chatting with James’ dad after round 1, and then ended up playing James in round 2. This was one of the nice things about the event – in a small field of 32 or so, you tend to have a chance to talk to almost everyone, which lends it a really nice social atmosphere.

James was playing all Tau Sept, with double Riptides, a Ghostkeel and some Stealth Suits, a pile of Fire Warriors and Drones, and Aun’va and his mates hanging out right in the middle. There was also a Sunshark plane, which is something I’ve never seen on a table before.

I got to go first again in this game, which was a huge help. We had Vanguard Strike deployment, and this is where the LGT terrain really came into its own. Drukhari vs. Tau can be a painful matchup because their shooting can overwhelm all your paper planes, but with the big central LoS blockers and this deployment map I had a reasonable shot at doing something about it.  I set up so that I could try and move out carefully, isolating part of his shooting out of LoS while blowing away a piece at a time.

This plan worked excellently. On turn 1 I downed almost all the Drones, some Fire Warriors, and an entire Riptide, and stopped his secondary Riptide from being able to see all but one Ravager. He had a good go at punching back, with the plane flying in and unloading a surprising amount of firepower, but he was unlucky not to kill the Ravager he could see and after that things went heavily my way. The Yncarne murdered the Sunshark in my backfield, and my other planes flew around wiping out infantry while mostly just ignoring the Riptide. I took over the centre objective on turn 1 and held it for the rest of the game, which in our mission meant I was claiming hold more every turn, often kill more, and racking up secondaries. I don’t think I claimed the bonus until late in the game, but I started miles ahead on points and stayed that way throughout. A 36-10 finish on this one and I was doing great!

Corrode's Drukhari fighting Tau at the London Open

Terrain is good, it turns out. PC: Corrode

 

Game 3 – Mike (Chaos)

So of course I ran right into Mike’s Chaos horror show. If you read the preview or part 1 of the Wings report, you know the drill here. If you don’t, go read those, the list write-up was excellent. One thing that I got to experience first hand which Wings didn’t initially get when he was doing the review was the exact use of the Master of Possession – Mike utilised him really intelligently to maximise Cursed Earth, getting +1 to those important invulnerable saves on his Discordants.

This time around we were playing quarters (not good for me) and he went first (also not good for me). Although he had the Knight of no modifiers, Mike sensibly didn’t bother attacking planes and instead set out with the bloody-minded goal of Bootsing me by taking out the ground units.

This game was a bit of a rollercoaster for me. His turn 1 was quite painless, with only a single Ravager dying thanks to an errant heavy stubber wound, and then I turned around and decked two Lord Discordants in a single Shooting phase. I knew I was up against it, but that gave me a little bit of hope.

Sadly the hope was to be cruelly crushed as turn 2 proved to be much more of a return to expectations. I think I only held an objective once in this game, didn’t touch most of my secondaries, and in general really struggled to score points. About the only positive to take away was that I dragged it right out to turn 6, and but for a couple of things going differently (or slightly better choices on my part) I might have gotten all the way through without being quasi-tabled. Daemon Princes who’ve been around for thousands of bloody years didn’t help.

On the plus side, despite the rough scoreline (35-12 in Mike’s favour), the game was still fun and really forced me to work for my points, and Mike was a great opponent I’d happily play again. I’m keen to see how he does with the list in future events, because it’s brutal and uncompromising and I liked it a lot (it may or may not be coincidence that I just bought a box of Chaos Marines).

 

Game 4 – Alun (Grey Knights)

On to day 2 then, after a night in my less than lovely accommodation (plus points for convenient location, minus points for unemptied bins), and facing down Alun’s Grey Knights. 

Grey Knights are always a weird one for me. I know they’re rubbish. Everyone says they are. Alun was open that he expected to lose this game and he was just in it to have a laugh. But they fuck me up. They can do so much and it always feels like there’s a lot going in, and I don’t know their stuff anywhere near well enough.

Alun was rolling with a Battalion of Stern, 2 GMNDKs, 3 Strike Squads, an Ancient, a big squad of Interceptors, and then a Spearhead of Draigo, a Land Raider Crusader, and two Purgation Squads.

I ended up going second here, and immediately making mistakes. We had short edge deployment, which in some ways is beneficial for me since his army is so short ranged, but also means that there’s a very deep deployment zone to have to defend. I set up all my planes and such to screen out the GMNDKs when they arrived, and deployed very defensively, and then totally forgot that Gate of Infinity or the Interceptor shunt are a thing and was surprised as he promptly zipped Draigo and the Interceptors into my half of the board, behind a ruin. Luckily he picked wrong for his target (shooting a Razorwing instead of a Ravager) and I didn’t lose anything, but what a thing to get wrong immediately! I was only saved from real damage by the crater rules being in use and stopping Draigo and the Inceptors from making charges.

The mistakes kind of compounded from there. I murdered the Interceptors, but then miscalculated my positioning with the Ravagers and the planes that were meant to be screening them and nearly let Draigo murder one. I placed an Archon such that it was almost in range to get charged by his GMNDK through a wall – mostly saved by my own laziness in not having pushed her right the way in. Probably most egregious, I jumped the Yncarne away from being murdered by a GMNDK, only to fail to kill anything in my turn and therefore dooming it to be exterminated by the rest of his army instead of zipping back to safety. Probably the worst bit of decision-making here was choosing to shoot a Ravager at a 2-wound GMNDK instead of just blowing away two Strike Marines. I also offhandedly mentioned the Yncarne was a DAEMON without thinking anything of it, and learned a new Grey Knight rule – 3 damage Smites! It’s certainly not information I would have concealed if I’d realised it mattered, but it’s never great to surprise yourself by realising your situation is so much worse than you thought because of a rule you’d almost forgotten about.

In the end, I managed to drag out a 33-23 win here, but it was probably the worst game I played all event (in terms of my own play – Alun was a great opponent and really earned every point he got) and I think I must have come across a bit miserable by being annoyed at my own mistakes. Sorry Alun if you ever read this!

That leaves game 5 then. There’s never easy games in the 3-1 bracket, but especially so in a 32 person event which someone in Discord had labelled “a pit of vipers” beforehand, given the relatively high quality of lists and players attending.

 

Game 5 – Joe (Drukhari/Harlequins)

Of course that meant I ran into Joe and his Aeldari. I’ve met Joe a few times, mostly via him attending events I’ve TOed, and we get on well. On the other hand, I also know that he’s a very good player, and he was running a strong list (one which I thought about bringing with me to NoVA, incidentally). He had a Spearhead of Prophets of the Flesh with 3×2 Talos and the obligatory Haemonculus, a Black Heart Battalion with 3 sets of Kabalites with Shredders in Venoms, Yvraine, an Archon, 3 Ravagers, and a Razorwing, and then the clown car detachment of Harlequins – a Shadowseer with Twilight Pathways/Shards of Light, a Solitaire, and 2 Death Jesters. 

Joe won the roll to go first here, and deployed and went first, as expected. He deployed hard on one side, so I deployed well away from his Talos, and spent the whole game giving them a healthy respect which stopped them ever reaching combat. He was very unlucky on turn 1, not managing a unit kill on my Ravagers, while I blew up 2 of his in response. 

In theory the game went all my way from here on out, barring some lucky FNPs which kept key things alive a little longer than I would have hoped for. I nuked the Talos as they bimbled around mid-board not getting anywhere, I took out all his Ravagers, he never really touched a Crimson Hunter. I was doing all the Drukhari moves, kiting around things and not letting them get close.

In practice, I kept fucking up and it showed. Joe had board control for a huge chunk of the game thanks to the Talos sitting in midfield daring me to come out and fight them. I forgot to claim a second objective on turn 1 by like half an inch, letting him have hold more. I left my Archon where the Solitaire could get at it and was only saved by a key Perils of the Warp stopping his Shadowseer from casting Twilight Pathways at the vital moment. I forgot to yeet the Yncarne out of harm’s way, and let it get killed pointlessly. Late in the game, I mismeasured an objective again (or more likely, didn’t measure at all and just moved lazily) and missed out on hold more and the bonus point. The game went all the way to 6, when my Crimson Hunters just managed to kill off a single Death Jester (good job, guys) and Boots him, earning me 4pts and ending the game 30-28.

A great lesson in why you need to practice (so you remember to do things like “hold objectives”) and the importance of maximising your points each turn, because despite being theoretically on the back foot for most of the game here, Joe played it cool and kept racking points and nearly won the thing.

Hopefully this has shaken some rust out of me ahead of NoVA, and I can get a practice game or two in before then.

Despite a shakey day 2, I finished strong on 4 wins to 1 loss, and 4th overall – missing out on a trophy to a certain Goonhammer author. After some disappointing weekends out this year, it was good to get to an event and perform strongly again.

So what’s the end result of all this? Well, the Yncarne is out. At 337pts it’s a lot to pay for something that doesn’t quite get to where it needs to be.

The Yncarne, Avatar of Ynnead

Sorry buddy, maybe after Chapter Approved PC: Corrode

Trading in, the new list is:

Army List - Click to expand

 

== Air Wing Detachment == Asuryani, Alaitoc [27PL, 483pts] 1 CP

Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), two starcannons (26), pulse laser (0) – [9PL] [161]

Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), two starcannons (26), pulse laser (0) – [9PL] [161]

Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), two starcannons (26), pulse laser (0) – [9PL] [161]

 

== Battalion Detachment == Drukhari, Kabal of the Black Heart [66 PL, 1,158pts] 5 CP

HQ: Archon (70), splinter pistol (0), venom blade (2) – [4PL] [72]

HQ: Yvraine (132) – [7PL] [132]

TR: 4 Kabalite Warriors (24), 1 Sybarite (6), 1 shredder (8) – [2PL] [38]

TR: 4 Kabalite Warriors (24), 1 Sybarite (6), 1 shredder (8) – [2PL] [38]

TR: 4 Kabalite Warriors (24), 1 Sybarite (6), 1 shredder (8) – [2PL] [38]

DT: Venom (55), one splinter cannon (10), twin splinter rifle (0) [4PL] [65]

DT: Venom (55), one splinter cannon (10), twin splinter rifle (0) [4PL] [65]

DT: Venom (55), one splinter cannon (10), twin splinter rifle (0) [4PL] [65]

HS: Ravager (80), 3 disintegrator cannons (45) [7PL] [125]

HS: Ravager (80), 3 disintegrator cannons (45) [7PL] [125]

HS: Ravager (80), 3 disintegrator cannons (45) [7PL] [125]

Flyer: Razorwing Jetfighter (105), 2 disintegrator cannons (30), twin splinter rifle (0), Razorwing missiles (0) – [8PL] [135]

Flyer: Razorwing Jetfighter (105), 2 disintegrator cannons (30), twin splinter rifle (0), Razorwing missiles (0) – [8PL] [135]

 

== Vanguard Detachment == Harlequins, mixed Masque [21PL, 358pts] 1 CP

HQ: Shadowseer (125), hallucinogen grenade launcher (0), shuriken pistol (0), miststave (0) [7PL] [125] – WARLORD, default trait: Player of the Twilight, default psychic powers: Twilight Pathways, Shards of Light <DREAMING SHADOW>

EL: Death Jester (45), shrieker cannon (0) [3PL] [45] <DREAMING SHADOW>

EL: Death Jester (45), shrieker cannon (0) [3PL] [45] <DREAMING SHADOW>

EL: Death Jester (45), shrieker cannon (0) [3PL] [45] <DREAMING SHADOW>

EL: Solitaire (84), harlequin’s caress (7), harlequin’s kiss (7) [5PL] [98] <MIDNIGHT SORROW>

 

You may recognise that Harlequin detachment from, uh, about five minutes ago. Seeing it in skilled hands (which to be fair, has happened before back when I played Stephen Box at Battlefield Birmingham, but it’s been a while ok?) really brought home how useful it is. In particular, having snipers available is fantastic in a faction which often struggles to deal with characters buffing things. Also, good news: Death Jesters paint up really quickly, as I’m finding out!

This also means that I have, technically, kept my promise from the very first Road to NoVA post – I’ve brought ALL the Eldar, with all 4 factions being represented in the list. Great stuff.

This will probably be my last Road to NoVA post until the big one – setting off on the journey to America. In the meantime, there’s lots of painting to be done. Let’s hope I can get down with the clown quickly enough.

 

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