The Goonhammer/Art of War Roundtable: The 2021 Las Vegas Team Tournament

The 2021 Las Vegas Team Tournament (LVTT) just wrapped up, with the Art of War team taking home the top honors. We’ve been looking to cover more team events recently and when the Art of War team reached out to us about collaborating on a piece about team events, we were happy to jump on board. In this article we’ll be talking about the event, the experience, and playing in team tournaments.


The Art of War Team

You can check out more from the Art of War team and explore their coaching services by visiting their website: The Art of War 40k.

AoW: The truism that Team events are the ultimate form of fun and competition in the Warhammer community was put to the test once more at the Las Vegas Team Tournament, which ran September 25th and 26th.  We here at the Art of War – Nick Nanavati, Richard Siegler, John Lennon, Brad Chester, and Jack Harpster – played against some amazingly talented teams and ended up coming out on top. Rather than talk about all the individual matchups that we played, we wanted to provide some commentary on our experiences either leading up to, during, and after the event, and emphasize just how awesome team competition is, as well as talk about some of the insight we gleaned from preparing and executing our plan for the event.

Nick Nanavati

I was excited for the Las Vegas Team Tournament, eagerly counting the hours until the event began. Nothing gets me more excited about 40k than team 40k, and this was a chance to attend the largest team event in years. Some of the best players in America were forming teams as opposition, and we knew everyone would come prepared. But as much as I was excited, no one – and I do mean NO ONE – was as excited as my teammates. They left no stone unturned when it came to preparation, and on game day everyone showed up with a singular purpose – to be the best team in the room. I’ve been on different teams for 40k events for more than ten years now, both nationally and abroad, and there has never been a team that I’ve been on with such trust in each other and support for one another. It truly made the experience incredible. 

I must also say that each and every one of our opponents were all of the highest class of sportsman. We hit some of the toughest teams in the room with increasing stakes, and not once did we have any issues. In fact, I personally played some amazingly enjoyable games against people I’ve never played before. It was awesome! I wanted to give a big “thank you” to both my team, all of our opponents, and the FLG staff for putting on a truly fantastic weekend.


Old Man Brad (Brad Chester)

 I love me some team tournaments. They’re by far my favorite way to play 40k and I can’t recommend enough that everyone try and play in a team event if they get the chance. 

Singles events are fantastic, but it is only in team events that you add the added complexity of pairing against the other team and creating lists that work together as a team to get the best pairings possible. I was extra lucky to have a team that not only spent a lot of time preparing the best possible lists, but each person was willing to take a terrible match up for themselves so the team could win the round.  That’s really the best thing about team events – it’s that you can take a loss and still come out a winner.  Boom OMB for the old man clichés!


Richard Siegler

Team tournament Warhammer is the best form of competitive 40k. You gather a bunch of your best friends, spend weeks cleverly crafting lists and testing them, strategizing about what other teams might do, create unique symbols and jerseys for your team, and then get to the event and brush shoulders against players from all over the world.  

We, as a team, went on a wild journey to figure out what our lists would end up being. I was, of course, the Admech player, but throughout the process I was asked to bring more and more guns to put the fear into opposing teams who might have flyer spam, especially those nasty Freebooterz Ork lists. John was dominating with the Sororitas, and many teams even brought lists almost identical to his! Brad was tearing up the Midwest with his Drukhari. That left Jack and Nick. Jack loves his melee marines and Black Templars have amazing utility and were a perfect fit for the heavy cover board that Frontline had created.  But what about Nick? 

We went on a rollercoaster ride of lists to figure out what Nick would play since he couldn’t take the Drukhari he was most familiar with as Brad had the best results. He started believing that a janky Harlequin list with Craftworlds indirect fire would be a useful list in pairings, being able to play the mission well and force action.  But it just was nowhere near as good as the Drukhari plus Craftworlds soup that Sean Nayden had pioneered. Then we thought about Custodes, as we wanted a second list that could work as a defender. But Custodes often had a tough third secondary and typically lost close games by a few points even with their durability. “What about Grey Knights?,” I asked two weeks before list submission?

“No, Siegler, no one is going to learn Grey Knights in two weeks and you have to play Admech.” Fine, let’s just run an absurd Ork list with the nine squigbuggies, some scrapjets and three Kill Rigs that we received approval to convert since the official model was still not released at this point. The list actually dominated in our playtesting matches, but Nick felt it was so mono-dimensional and boring. He wanted something that could win games based on movement but still did damage. Tyranids, Tau, Knights, and even GSC were considered–some being tongue-in-cheek!

Well, he finally picked up the Grey Knight book and enjoyed what he read. Then I delivered a beatdown on his Drukhari on stream with my Grey Knight list and that convinced him that it could be an option. Together we refined it and with less than a week until we left for the tournament, Nick got in as many games as he could against as many top lists that we expected to be there. To his credit, he went 5-1 with the Grey Knights and loved every minute of it (though I didn’t love the broken Dreadknight swords I was handed when we got home!).  

I wanted to give some background on how we chose our lists for the event, because it might seem like we just brought what we thought was best right now, but it actually involved a lot more debate and testing than you might think.  And even though Orks had the best win rate in our practice games, we believed in Nick to play the Grey Knights to a high level and be an asset to our team in pairings and it worked!  It just highlights how important it is to find a list that fits a player’s style and that they can not only get the most out of, but also enjoy doing it!  

And we truly enjoyed the Las Vegas team tournament! We got to meet so many wonderful friends, new and old, and play against people we had not seen in awhile. I also want to give a shout-out to the community of players there in Vegas who respected the seriousness of Covid-19 and the mask ordinance. The whole event showcased how wonderful our community is!


John Lennon

It’s been over two years since a large team event was held in the US, and it felt like the wait was worth it. Honestly, I have been more excited for this event than for anything else on my calendar, as the staple American Team Championship is actually what got me traveling for tournaments for the first time. There’s nothing quite like forming a plan with your closest friends and spending long nights plotting every detail of every list for a team event. My absolute favorite part is the minigame of pairings, and planning every member of the team to have a specific role that leads to group victory. Between Brad, Nick and myself there were a lot of cooks in the pairings kitchen, but we worked together to make sure everyone covered their weaknesses. 

I also feel like the team format really helps cover up some problems with the meta. Going in, I was really worried about how my trusted Sisters of Battle would do if someone showed up with a multitude of Dakkajets and Squigbuggies, but in a team tournament I love that I can avoid skewed matchups that would normally end my weekend. In return, I was happy to jump into the Space Marines that some of my teammates would rather avoid! Each round, we carefully chose which of our players would get favorable matchups, while others had difficult rounds ahead. The team mentality is something else though, as each member would happily lose a round to guarantee victory elsewhere! I ended up losing a very enjoyable game, but felt no disappointment at all because my team was able to carry the round. I can’t stress enough how much the team format keeps me invested, and that it is by far the most enjoyable way to play!


Jack Harpster

Each of us has emphasized how much we love team tournaments, and that’s for a simple reason.  They’re just that much fun.  The whole feeling of the event is different as you aren’t just playing for yourself like in the singles events we’re all used to and you must cover for your teammates’ weaknesses and rely on them to cover yours.  Each of us had to eat a loss so our team could get the matchups they needed.  The only one who didn’t was Brad, who over and over we shoved into bad matchups, he got his ass kicked and then he pulled out the win anyway.  On our team, my Black Templars were the dedicated Ork buggy hunters as the rest of the team preferred to avoid the matchup, whereas my terminators and bladeguard could walk through the fire and engage the vehicles deceptively quickly with devout push.  Somehow we managed to get me into them twice in two excellent games against Dan Sansone and Matt Root. Our hardest round came in the finals against team N is for Netlist, a team literally no one saw coming until after they’d carved through several fantastic teams in a row.  They showcased how much 40k has spread, that people who previously were relative unknowns can still show up with the skill and game plan to compete at the top level.  We hit the airport Sunday night, kicking off a whirlwind 15 or so hours of travel before we finally got to sleep in our own beds, thoroughly exhausted. I wish team events happened more often, right now I just want to do another one.

Art of War: We as a team believe that such events offer the best platform for healthy competition, camaraderie, community excitement and hype, sportsmanship and showcasing the hobby as a whole!  Frontline Gaming did an outstanding job running the LVTT and we hope that more tournament circuits will continue to add such events to build off the groundwork laid by the American Team Championships (ATC)!  



Don Hooson – Smite Club Project Mayhem

The Las Vegas Team Tournament was a blast this year and has proven to be an event that will continuously get large amounts of people interested in going every year. My team was Smite Club: Project Mayhem. I will admit that I was the weak link of the team –  we had Aaron W with Ad Mech, Dan O with Drukhari, Ben J with Orkz, Steve R with Grey Knights, and me with Death Guard. Fortunately I was able to fill the slot of “Weird list” on the team and proved to confuse most of my opponents with the lack of ObSec. Our team would wind up going 19 wins,10 losses, and 1 draw, scoring 2322 points and giving up 1788 points throughout the event (acquiring 1.3 points to every 1 we gave up). Over the six actual rounds we went 4 wins and 2 losses, for a 10th place finish, and both of the team’s losses were my fault. My hubris caused our Ad Mech player to go into unfavorable matchups that I had a significantly better time against than Ad Mech does. This is where team events prove to be amazing – it is about making sure the team wins. Sometimes that means you don’t chase the cookie for yourself and instead try to figure out how your team will handle the match to the best outcome. I do love these team events as well. You get to meet so many people compared to singles events. I can hardly wait for the next LVTT. I plan on being more prepared for the next time. Smite Club will be back and we will aim for ever greater heights at these events. 


James “Boon” Kelling – Advanced Warfare (Ryan Olson, Matt Root, Charlie Andre, Elliott Levy, and James Kelling. Coach: Ben Cherwien):

If it wasn’t clear from the members of the Art of War team above, they went on to win the event in a dominating fashion, having played through all of the best teams in the field. You can see their emphasis on the team component clearly, but I want to offer a different perspective – one of pairing into them in round four. 

Finishing out our day one, the round four pairing went up that night and we saw that we had drawn the guys over at Art of War. A matchup we knew to be inevitable if we wanted to win. As a team we went out to dinner that night to discuss our pairing strategy – a process that we had actually done prior to the event start for key teams of interest. 

That night was a frustrating exercise indeed. For those not familiar with the team events, pairings are a game unto itself – teams will each select one of their members in secret to ‘defend’ then reveal at the same time. Then the teams will secretly select two ‘attackers’ to go into the revealed opposing defender, and reveal those at the same time. Finally, the defender on each team will select which of the two attackers to play and on which board. Then the whole process repeats a second time with the remaining player on each team pairing afterwards.

We began by first identifying, at an individual player level, who we thought we could reasonably play into on the AoW team and win, who we might win against pending a go-first and/or board advantage, and who we probably lose to on pure list-by-list basis. The disappointing outcome of this exercise saw more probable losses than wins and circuitous speculation as to the potential options based on who we thought AoW may choose to defend with first and how they’d react by defending one of our players. As a corollary, the discussion of whether we sacrifice a defender (assume loss) to select out a scary attacking player/list added additional wrinkles. This conversation with its countless permutations reflected a matchup with no good options and we did not come out with a satisfying conclusion that night. Unlike other teams, the AoW team simply did not give us many good or even coinflip matchups where we might reliably count on good luck. 

It showed the next day – we were forced into bad pairings that resulted in a 4-1 defeat with our lone win being Charlie Andre’s Grey Knights into John Lennon’s Sisters. A fact Charlie made sure we knew and that he was very proud of. So in turn we made sure to remind him over and over again during the weekend that we were aware.

And that is the essence of the team event, a building of camaraderie through mutual gain, loss, problem solving, celebrating, and ribbing. It’s a fantastic experience even in defeat.


You can check out more from the Art of War team and explore their coaching services by visiting their website: The Art of War 40k.

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