TheChirurgeon’s Road Through 2021, Part 9: The GW New Orleans Open, Part 1 (of 2)

Credit: Robert "TheChirurgeon" Jones

This is it, Dear Reader! After several more weeks of meandering posts talking about my practice games and hemming and hawing about daemon princes and bloat-drones and chaos lords, it was finally time to Put up or Shut up at the Games Workshop US Open event in New Orleans. There’s a lot for me to cover here and generally speaking I had a blast. There’s a ton to cover here, and not just the games, so I’ve decided to split this into two bloated, rambling articles instead of one.

Thursday

Games in New Orleans started bright and early Friday morning, which meant driving out Thursday night. I’m carpooling with Swiftblade, a Goonhammer Patron and the usual punching bag in my practice game articles. He’s bringing his Daughters of Khaine to play in the Age of Sigmar tournament, but is on board with showing up a day early and splitting a room for the event. On the way down we find out that my reservation has gotten messed up and we’re set to check out on Saturday. After several frustrating calls it looks like there’s nothing we can do to book an extra night, so I make some calls and arrange some alternate accommodations for us. We have a few other Goonhammer people not bunking, so I’ll end up spending Saturday night crashing with Dan Boyd of the Badcast Bad Bois while Swiftblade crashes with Joe Krier, who writes some of our Age of Sigmar content. This all ends up working out for the best in that we’re able to stow our stuff in those rooms on Sunday instead of figuring out where we’ll put our things.

It’s about five and a half hours from Houston to New Orleans, and four and a half of those hours are just one long, straight drive down Interstate 10 that starts in Beaumont. We end up leaving around 5 after Swiftblade is delayed by traffic coming up to grab me. We stop for gas and road food on our way up route 90 about an hour in, then end up stopping one more time for a bathroom break and some additional caffeine. This is the easy drive of the two, because we’re still fresh and excited. Swiftblade unveils his Spotify road playlist, a real wall-to-wall list of bangers that he’s gotten input for from the rest of the Goonhammer Discord. We sing along to several of them and make good time, hitting downtown New Orleans around 10:30. We head up to the room and get situated by 11, then Dan Boyd invites us up to hang out in Mike Brandt’s room, where they’re throwing a small room party with a bunch of the judges. In addition to Dan, Scott Horras and his wife Katie are up there and we end up shooting the shit and drinking til about 1am, then it’s time to crash.

Walking in to the event floor you’re greeted by this big blue idiot

Friday

I actually slept OK the first night, but for the rest of the event I’ll be sleeping like shit. This is a running them with me and hotels, particularly when I’m staying there for an event. A combination of nerves, bad food, beer, and sleeping in a new place generally cause me to sleep poorly and I end up waking up around 4am, only to get back to sleep for another hour or so from 6 to 7. Fortunately I sleep until about 7 on the first night and wander downstairs for some breakfast. The hotel makes one of the worst breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. It’s sausage, egg, and cheese (and grits?) sandwich on an English muffin that’s been pre-made and the paper it’s wrapped in has become chemically bonded to the bread, making it impossible to separate the two. So I eat it without one of the pieces of bread. It sucks.

The mission cards handed to participants
The secondary cards handed out to participants

I unpack my army while Swiftblade gets ready and we head downstairs for registration. I’m not on the super fancy ticket so I get a small GW minis case (sure, whatever), and a set of printed objective and mission cards that basically serve as a very slick mission pack for the event. I tend to track all of my games in a notebook, but I really like these cards and how they can make the “secondary objective reveal” more of an event. They’re a fine substitute for a printed player packet, and more useful later.

Players waiting for round 1 to begin

I make the rounds early and say hello to a few people. Siegler and the Art of War crew are all out in their blue jerseys, save Nanvati, who’s wearing a sports coat and buzzing around the stream tables as they prep the setup. He’s settling into more of a Dan Marino/Tony Romo role these days, giving up Majors and GTs to focus on the business side of AoW and doing commentary at events. It’s an interesting angle, and one he can afford to take given the rest of the team seems to be doing just fine without him. I run into my friend Thomas, who is perhaps better known as “Goatboy” from Bell of Lost Souls. He’s normally all about that Chaos life but he’s forsaken the proper Way for a Grey Knights list that’s a fucking hate crime, packing six (6) Nemesis Dreadknights. We set up some plans for later, since it’s unlikely we’ll see each other during the games. After that, Round 1 pairings go up and it’s time to get started.

 

The Games

The New Orleans event is eight games, with an unusual structure. The first four rounds are played Win Paths > Random, meaning you’ll play someone each round with your same win path, i.e. a WLW player will be matched to another, random WLW player. After the first four rounds are over, players are then sorted into pods. The top 8 get sorted into a single elimination, seeded bracket, while the rest get put into larger pods in which they’re win-matched. Win 4 games after the cut and you win your pod. There are some caveats here, though – final scoring within pods appears to have been done on the basis of wins and battle points for some inexplicable reason, leading to wonky final standings.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

My List

Before we dive in, we should do a quick recap of the list I was bringing, for everyone who wasn’t following along last week.

My Death Guard - Click to Expand

+++ Death Guard Battalion Detachment (-3 CP, 2,000 points) +++

Plague Company: The Inexorable
Extra Relic (-1 CP)

Extra WL Trait (-1 CP)

HQ: Death Guard Chaos Lord w/Power Sword, Bolt Pistol, WARLORD: Ferric Blight, RELIC: Plaguebringer
HQ: Malignant plaguecaster, POWERS: Miasma of Pestilence, Curse of the Leper

TP: Plague marines x5: Flail, Champion: Bolter and Plague Knife
TP: Plague marines x5: Flail, Champion: Bolter and Plague Knife
TP: Poxwalkers x10
TP: Poxwalkers x10

EL: Blightlord Terminators x10: 2x flail, 2x reaper autocannon + Combi-bolter, 5x axe + combi-bolter, Champion: Combi-bolter + Bubotic Axe, Plague Skull of Glothila (-1 CP)
EL: Deathshroud Terminators x3
EL: Foul Blightspawn: Relic: Revolting stench-vats, Plaguechosen: Arch-Contaminator
EL: Biologus Putrifier
EL: Tallyman, Relic: Tollkeeper

HS: PBC w/2x entropy cannon
HS: PBC w/2x entropy cannon

FA: Foetid Bloat-Drone w/Fleshmower
FA: Foetid Bloat-Drone w/Heavy Blight Launcher

DT: Chaos Rhino

+++ 2,000 points, 9 CP +++

 

 

My game plan here is pretty simple: The Poxwalkers and Plagueburst Crawlers occupy backfield objectives and spread the sickness, while the blightlords essentially act as a Death Star-like threat, rolling across the table with support from the characters to make them even more threatening and difficult to remove. The Plague Marines act as a secondary threat, and in a pinch I can split the army by rolling the Deathshroud and some of the characters in a different direction creating a second, credible front. Meanwhile the bloat-drones act as quick threats that can support either side of my two-pronged approach. My plan is to generally occupy the middle of the table on any mission that will allow me to do so and force my opponents to come deal with me, wherein they’ll have to contend with fighting last thanks to the Blightspawn and the incredible toughness of the T5, 3W, 2+/4++ terminators. They can hit like a train as well – the Tallyman gives them +1 to hit while the Chaos Lord lets them re-roll 1s and the Arch-Contaminator Warlord Trait on the Blightspan lets them re-roll all wound with plague weapons. Add the ability to push out mortal wounds on 6s to wound with the Putrifier and you’ve got an incredibly nasty unit that most people are jus better off avoiding.

Something I’ve been working hard on over the last few weeks is figuring out what to do if they *do* avoid the Blightlords, and I’ve come up with a reasonably OK solution that sees the two bloat drones able to zip around and using the deathshrouds more aggressively, splitting them up early. The Deathshroud don’t have as many wounds but are plenty capable of doing damage in melee and accept buffs just the same as the Blightlords. I’ve also split the Plague Marines into two squads of 5 to give me more leeway to do things like Raise Banners and Spread the Sickness if it turns out I need more bodies to do so.

On the whole I think the army is in a very good place, albeit one that’s likely to lose to Grey Knights and Thousand Sons, but my plan is to just not play them.

Alright, so that’s the plan – on to the games.

 

Game 1: vs. Namon Allen’s T’au

Namon’s Tau, deployed in classic “Castlefucker” formation

My first game is simultaneously a relief and a tension-builder. On the one hand I’m playing T’au, one of the worst armies in 40k. On the other hand, that now means I’ve got pressure to win a “gimme” game, which suddenly turns into not-such-a-gimme when it turns out I’m going second – T’au can be brutal if they get the first turn to move onto objectives and shoot.

My Secondaries

  • Grind Them Down
  • Spread the Sickness
  • Stranglehold

Namon’s Secondaries

  • Engage on All Fronts
  • To The Last – The Riptide and both units of broadsides
  • Retrieve Octarius Data

Six objectives and a good chance for me to get 4-5 spreads, plus Stranglehold is good against this list since I just need to keep holding the two middle objectives. To The Last is out since T’au shooting can focus down key targets, but Grind is great against drones.

Namon's List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (T’au Empire) [92 PL, 11CP, 1,996pts] ++

Sept Choice: Ke’lshan Sept: Hardened Warheads, Soldiers in Arms
Emergency Dispensation (1 Relic) [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Ethereal [4 PL, 90pts]: 2. Through Unity, Devastation, Honour blade, Hover drone, Puretide engram neurochip, Warlord
. 2x MV4 Shield Drone: 2x Shield generator

Shas’o R’alai [5 PL, 100pts] . 2x Blacklight Marker Drone: 2x Blacklight markerlight

+ Troops +

Breacher Team [3 PL, 65pts] . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster, Pulse pistol
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Pistol: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster, 4x Pulse pistol
. 2x MV7 Marker Drone: 2x Markerlight

Breacher Team [3 PL, 65pts] . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster, Pulse pistol
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Pistol: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster, 4x Pulse pistol
. 2x MV7 Marker Drone: 2x Markerlight

Breacher Team [3 PL, 65pts]: MV36 Guardian Drone
. Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster, Pulse pistol
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Pistol: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster, 4x Pulse pistol
. MV7 Marker Drone

Breacher Team [2 PL, 45pts] . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster, Pulse pistol
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Pistol: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster, 4x Pulse pistol

Breacher Team [2 PL, 45pts] . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster, Pulse pistol
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Pistol: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster, 4x Pulse pistol

+ Elites +

XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [19 PL, 339pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Amplified ion accelerator, Counterfire defence system, Ion accelerator, Velocity tracker
. 2x MV84 Shielded Missile Drone: 2x Missile pod, 2x Shield generator

+ Fast Attack +

Tetras [4 PL, 80pts] . 2x Tetra Scout Speeder: 2x High intensity markerlight, 4x Pulse rifle

Vespid Stingwings [2 PL, 56pts] . 3x Vespid Stingwing: 3x Neutron blaster
. Vespid Strain Leader

Vespid Stingwings [2 PL, 56pts] . 3x Vespid Stingwing: 3x Neutron blaster
. Vespid Strain Leader

+ Heavy Support +

XV88 Broadside Battlesuits [16 PL, 390pts] . Broadside Shas’ui: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile
. Broadside Shas’ui: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile
. Broadside Shas’vre: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile
. 2x MV4 Shield Drone: 2x Shield generator

XV88 Broadside Battlesuits [15 PL, 360pts] . Broadside Shas’ui: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile
. Broadside Shas’ui: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile
. Broadside Shas’vre: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile

+ Flyer +

DX-6 Remora Stealth Drones [6 PL, 120pts] . 2x DX-6 Remora Stealth Drone: 4x Long-barrelled burst cannon, 2x Markerlight, 4x Remora seeker missile

DX-6 Remora Stealth Drones [6 PL, 120pts] . 2x DX-6 Remora Stealth Drone: 4x Long-barrelled burst cannon, 2x Markerlight, 4x Remora seeker missile

++ Total: [92 PL, 11CP, 1,996pts] ++

 

 

Namon’s deploying his army as a castle, placing both units of Broadsides, his Riptide, and all his drones around the Shas’O and Ethereal in order to give them feel no pain saves and re-rolls on his wound rolls. He’s using the Hardened Warheads Sept bonus, which gives him additional AP on his missiles and turns otherwise not-so-deadly shooting into something that can really tear into my terminators. The Smart Missile System is also big for this, giving him a way to shoot me without line of sight. Helping that he’s got the Riptide with an upgraded Ion Cannon, and which is more than capable of wrecking my vehicles’ days. He’s also got the Remoras and the Tetras for quick movement and markerlights early on and easy scoring on Engage on All Fronts. On top of that, T’au overwatch is very nasty when you have to charge into that many missile shots, even if they’re still only hitting on 6s. It’s a nasty list and one that would end up catching a few players off guard after our game.

Here’s the thing, though: T’au are bad. They can absolutely throw out good firepower and remove units from the table but they fundamentally lack a key skill in 9th edition: The ability to reliably capture an objective occupied by an enemy unit. Sure, they can shoot you off it, but if you cover an objective well they lack the ability to charge in and remove your presence via melee while simultaneously using their combat movement to move on to and capture the objective. Additionally, one of their biggest strengths in 8th edition – using drones to tank shots for more valuable units – is a total liability here as I’m going to take Grind Them Down as a secondary and score a kill tally every time I shoot two drones off the table.

The Mission: Scorched Earth

So yeah, T’au aren’t great, but if they get the first turn they can be a real danger and that’s what happens here. Namon throws his Remoras into my deployment zone for some early Engage Points and then pops off a few shots but isn’t able to kill any units. On my turn I make the mistake of forgetting the Remoras are AIRCRAFT and can’t be charged, so I get caught a bit out of position on turn 2 with some units that had moved into charge position. What *can* charge them however are my Bloat-Drones, who happily eat one of the Remoras while the other is able to escape. Namon’s plan is to primarily press his castle forward while the fast units sit in my deployment zone and disrupt me but I’m able to screen out his Vespids pretty well and he’s only able to get one unit to Retrieve Octarius data, which the Blightspawn walks over to and kills by himself – one of the neat things about playing T’au – particularly if they don’t take Assassination – is that the fight last/stench-vats on the Blightspawn are just completely unnecessary. I’ll lose arch-contaminator for a turn or two but it doesn’t matter that much for what I’m doing. The rough part is that Namon’s able to effectively kill most of my blightlords and both bloat-drones early on with his Riptide, but isn’t so good at killing the Plagueburst Crawlers. A lot of early trades involve Namon shooting me off an objective, then me taking it back with a melee unit to score Stranglehold points and get a Grind tally.

As I sweep up the left side of the table with plague marines to wipe out his ObSec units and force him to deal with me in his deployment zone, I decide to get aggressive in the middle of the table – something I should have done earlier. The PBCs are perfectly fine being close to Tau since those idiots aren’t going to charge one, so I take the fight to Namon, charging his Riptide with a damaged-but-not-bracketed PBC. This requires an 8″ charge, so it’s a bit risky but not a massive gamble, and the PBC makes it, helping clear things up a bit for the Deathshroud, who charge in and lose 2 models to Overwatch but still make it. I knock the Riptide down to 4 wounds, bracketing it but missing the chance to take it out. Namon follows up on his turn by calling a Mont’ka, falling back, and shooting up my PBC, which then dies. So I pay 2 CP for Putrid Detonation to force it to explode. The ensuing explosion kills my Deathshroud, sure (bad luck, as I roll a 3 for mortal wounds there) – but it also wipes out 3 units of drones (all the remaining ones Namon had), drops the RIptide to 2 wounds, puts damage on both broadside units (killing one model), and damaging his characters. It’s a big swing for me and ensures I’ll score Grind for another turn and it sets me up to eventually kill the Riptide and take away five points for To the Last from Namon.

Battle round 5 starts and I do some quick math. Namon can’t stop me from maxing out primary – I’m already at 40 points to his 35 and he’d have to table me, which he won’t – plus I have 9 on spread, 9 on grind, and 12 on Stranglehold, compared to only 8 for Engage on his end, 8 for Retrieve Octarius Data, and 10 for To the Last. The score’s 72-63 before paint points and Namon’s only play is to stop me from scoring spread and grind one more time – he can score 2 more for Engage but can’t make another RoD happen and it’s unlikely I’ll kill two broadsides, especially if he hides them. We run through the last round quickly but this one’s over.

Result: 82-73, Victory

 

Hell yeah, 1-0. The sweetest victory of the event. I’m not going to go winless and while that isn’t a serious concern for me any more, it’s good to go into round 2 still “alive” in tournament terms. I walk around and meet some more people. I catch up with Richard Siegler, who’s also finished his game. We talk about both being incredible champions who won their first game and potentially meeting in the second round. He’ll avoid me (lucky for him, really), but it’s good to finally meet up with him in person. We talk about plans for the evening and what he’ll be up to. The Goonhammer crew are planning to get dinner and drinks, so I invite him to join us. Lists weren’t uploaded last night so he tells me his plan is to grab food then head back to the room early to study lists for tomorrow. I call him a nerd and he reminds me that “he is here to win the event.” I express some shock, since I was absolutely certain he was here for Best Painted, but I suppose he’ll have to settle for winning 7-8 games. Unlike Namon, Siegler has jettisoned T’au for an Adeptus Mechanicus army so heinous it has gone something like 100-0 in the Art of War test games and will likely lead to specific faction nerfs. It’s an incredibly brutal lists and a good half of Siegler’s games are legitimately over before deployment begins.

Anyways, it’s time for lunch. I am very hungry at this point, since all I have is half of a horrible breakfast sandwich in me. I meet up with James “Boon” Kelling who is one of my favorite people to meet up with. He’s running Drukhari and he’s got a very good chance of winning this event, though to do so he’ll have to go through Siegler and two or three other Art of War goons. He’s competing this weekend on team Goonhammer, since the rest of his Frozen North crew couldn’t make it. We decide to go grab lunch and walk over to a nearby taco place, because tacos fucking rule. This place has some solid tacos, and I ask for extra plaintain chips with our guac because let’s be honest – this is the most fruit and/or vegetables I’m likely to eat all weekend. Boon and I talk about the event, the terrain, our lists, what we’re aiming to do, playoff baseball – it’s a good time. Toward the end James asks me what armies I’m “afraid of” – who do I really not want to play? Thinking about my games against Garrett, I tell him “Grey Knights,” obviously.

 

Game 2: vs. Thomas “Goatboy” Reidy’s Grey Knights

This sucks so bad

This is where we confirm that my life is basically a sitcom, as we smash-cut to me arriving at the table to see Thomas with his goddamn six-dreadknight Grey Knights. I’m barely equipped to deal with a single Dreadknight and now I have to handle six of the stupid things. On top of that, Thomas is more than familiar with both Death Guard, having played them, and my list, having followed along with my wacky misadventures during the weeks prior. That said, Thomas is a wonderful person whom I first met at the Lone Star Open back in July and I was very much looking forward to hanging out with him for a couple of hours.

My Secondaries

  • Grind Them Down
  • Spread the Sickness
  • Assassination

Thomas’ Secondaries

  • Assassination
  • Purifying Ritual
  • Engage on All Fronts

I need to kill the Dreadknights anyways so Assassination against five characters isn’t a terrible pick here. I also take Spread again since I like my chances of getting it on 3 objectives. Grind is the only likely mistake – To the Last probably would have been better in retrospect, but I’m always worried about a squad of Interceptors just yeeting themselves at a PBC and throwing out 30 mortal wounds.

 

Thomas' List - Click to Expand

++ Patrol Detachment -2CP (Imperium – Grey Knights) [16 PL, 330pts, 9CP] ++

Brotherhood: Precient Berthren

+ HQ +

Grand Master in Nemesis Dreadknight [10 PL, 215pts, -1CP]: 1: Gate of Infinity, 5: Warp Shaping, Divination, Dreadfist, Dreadknight teleporter, Gatling Psilencer, Heavy Psycannon, Nemesis Greatsword, Shield of Humanity

+ Troops +

Strike Squad [6 PL, 115pts] . Grey Knight (Psycannon): Psycannon
. 3x Grey Knight (Sword): 3x Nemesis Force Sword, 3x Storm Bolter
. Grey Knight Justicar
. . Nemesis Force Sword

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Grey Knights) [43 PL, 825pts] ++

Brotherhood: Rapiers

+ HQ +

Brotherhood Chaplain [6 PL, 110pts]: 1. Words of Power, 1: Gate of Infinity

Grand Master in Nemesis Dreadknight [11 PL, 225pts]: 1: Gate of Infinity, 4: Vortex of Doom, Augurium Scrolls, Dreadfist, Gatling Psilencer, Heavy Psycannon, Inescapable Wrath, Nemesis Greatsword, Servant of the Throne, Warlord

+ Troops +

Strike Squad [12 PL, 240pts] . 2x Grey Knight (Psycannon): 2x Psycannon
. 7x Grey Knight (Sword): 7x Nemesis Force Sword, 7x Storm Bolter
. Grey Knight Justicar
. . Nemesis Daemon Hammer: Nemesis Daemon Hammer

+ Fast Attack +

Interceptor Squad [14 PL, 250pts] . 9x Interceptor (Sword): 9x Nemesis Force Sword, 9x Storm Bolter
. Interceptor Justicar
. . Nemesis Daemon Hammer: Nemesis Daemon Hammer

++ Spearhead Detachment -3CP (Imperium – Grey Knights) [38 PL, 840pts, -4CP] ++

Brotherhood: Swordbearers

+ HQ +

Brotherhood Techmarine [4 PL, 80pts, -1CP]: 3: Unyielding Anvil, 5: Warp Shaping, Boltgun, Omnissian Power Axe, Shield of Humanity
. Servo Arms

Grand Master in Nemesis Dreadknight [10 PL, 205pts]: 1: Gate of Infinity, 2: Empyric Amplification, Dreadfist, Gatling Psilencer, Heavy Psycannon, Nemesis Greatsword

+ Heavy Support +

Nemesis Dreadknight [8 PL, 185pts]: Dreadfist, Dreadknight teleporter, Gatling Psilencer, Heavy Psycannon, Nemesis Greatsword

Nemesis Dreadknight [8 PL, 185pts]: Dreadfist, Dreadknight teleporter, Gatling Psilencer, Heavy Psycannon, Nemesis Greatsword

Nemesis Dreadknight [8 PL, 185pts]: Dreadfist, Dreadknight teleporter, Gatling Psilencer, Heavy Psycannon, Nemesis Greatsword

++ Total: [97 PL, 5CP, 1,995pts] ++

 

 

Thomas’ list is well-equipped to be anywhere it wants to be on the table, and that makes it my nightmare. Between just deep striking, the 12″ teleport jump (and shunt moves) on the Interceptors, and Gate of Infinity, he can dart around the table and easily avoid any part of my army that he doesn’t like while crippling the parts he wants to take out. I’ve played against Grey Knights before, and I know that I need to play a perfect game and go first to pull this out. For this game he put one of his Strike Squads in deep strike reserves.

I did not play a perfect game. Almost nothing went right for me this game, and the deck was already stacked against me. Let’s recount the ways I was disadvantaged:

  1. Playing on a hammer-and-anvil deployment, which I’ve already identified as an issue
  2. Going second against an opponent that very much wants to go first for earlier reinforcements and to cast buffs
  3. Not having access to Abhor the Witch
  4. Up against an army that will score an easy 15 points for Purifying Ritual

On top of that, the terrain itself is a problem here. I generally only had two problems with the GW event terrain and this was a major one – the board felt like it should have been reset with layout 2 for this mission, but instead table layouts were by day, with Day 1 using the same layout for all three missions regardless of deployment. This meant very awkward ruin placement with long, unprotected firing lanes. That makes it very difficult to move up while avoiding Smites and other shooting while holding objectives, especially with weaker units like Poxwalkers.

Look at this bullshit

Anyways, any hopes I had of pulling out even a close game flew out the window when it turned out my dice were rancid and Thomas’ were red hot. I failed several critical re-rolled 6″ charges that would have kept me in the game, whiffed nearly all my Plagueburst Crawler shots, and lost a silly number of models to improbably bad save rolls. Meanwhile Thomas’ dice were white hot – at one point he charged my full-health Plagueburst Crawler with a Strike Squad and ends up rolling five (5) sixes (6+) on five dice, which explode and cause enough damage to kill the thing. At no point was in control of the game and any chance I had was quashed mercilessly by Thomas and my dice.

During our game, AoS player Joseph “JoeK” Krier swings by and we talk for a bit, then he and Swiftblade organize a pick-up/practice game of AoS. It’s a good refresher for Swiftblade, and gives them both something to do. JoeK’s shoe game is strong, and he’s a big fan of doing black/white alternating color sneakers, which is a solid look. I also meet up with TheArmorofContempt (JD), CathexisZero (Kevin), and MasterSlowPoke (Craig) to coordinate things for dinner that night.

Thomas, you’re a great guy and I enjoyed our terrible game but also I hate you and you’re awful.

Result: 53-85, Loss

 

Oh well, 1-1. My chances of reaching the final table have been dashed, but they aren’t realistic hopes I had anyways. I’m still angling for 3-3 and happy with 4-2. There are 30 minutes before Round 3 and a this point I’m pretty tired – and it’s only day one! Dan Boyd’s doing surprisingly well at this point – he’s 2-0 after beating a dreadful T’au list in round one and Deathwatch in round 2. He’ll continue the streak when he’s paired against Raven Guard in game 3. At this point I’d love to have a bit more of a breather game and finish the day 2-1.

 

Game 3: vs. Adam Abramowicz’s White Scars

Adam’s beautiful White Scars

As luck would have it, game 3 is against Adam’s wonderfully painted White Scars. He’s the US rep for Army Painter, and helped us coordinate prizes for the Goonhammer Lockdown painting contest last year. Just an absolute sweetheart, and his army is beautiful. He’ll go on to finish second in the painting competition but today he’s looking to finish out day 1 and go back home.

My Secondaries

  • To The Last – Blightlords, PBC, PBC
  • Spread the Sickness
  • Stranglehold

Adam’s Secondaries

  • Assassination
  • Surround & Destroy
  • Engage on All Fronts

This game might get grindy so I go with To The Last, expecting to keep both PBCs and hoping to force Adam to challenge my Blightlords. If I can keep them in good position they’ll wipe out any incoming units. Spread the Sickness is back in play on a 6-objective mission with dawn of war deployment, and Stranglehold also feels like a good pick for me given what he’s got and what I think will be an easy time holding objectives.

Adam’s Very Meta (Bad) List - click to expand

+++ Adeptus Astartes Outrider Detachment ( -3 CP, 1,895 points) +++
SUB-FACTION: White Scars

++HQ++
WARLORD: Captain on Bike (110) Astartes chainsword, Storm shield
TRAITS: Chogorian Storm
RELICS: Teeth of Terra
STRATAGEMS: Relic of the Chapter

Primaris Chaplain on Bike (140)
CHAPTER COMMAND UPGRADE: Master of Sanctity
TRAITS: The Imperium’s Sword
LITANIES: Roll for 1 random Litany
RELICS: Benediction of Fury
STRATAGEMS: Hero of the Chapter

++TROOPS++
Infiltrator Squad (130)
3x Infiltrator
1x Infiltrator Sergeant
1x Infiltrator: Helix gauntlet
Infiltrator Squad (130)
3x Infiltrator
1x Infiltrator Sergeant
1x Infiltrator: Helix gauntlet

++ELITES++
Centurion Assault Squad (325)
1x Assault Centurion Sergeant: Hurricane bolter
4x Assault Centurion: Hurricane bolter
Judiciar (85)

++FAST ATTACK++
Land Speeders (60)
Land Speeders (60)
Land Speeders (60)

HEAVY SUPPORT
Eliminator Squad (75)
2x Eliminator
1x Eliminator Sergeant
Repulsor Executioner (350) Heavy laser destroyer, Icarus ironhail heavy stubber, Icarus rocket pod

++FLYER++
Stormtalon Gunship (185) Typhoon missile launcher
Stormtalon Gunship (185) Typhoon missile launcher

STRATAGEMS
Hero of the Chapter (1CP)
Relic of the Chapter (1CP)

Total Command Points: 5/12
Reinforcement Points: 0
Total Points: 2000/2000

 

 

I can tell right off the bat that Adam’s list is neither a traditional nor a good White Scars list. It’s more shooty than fighty, and while I generally am not afraid of the fighty version, I am even less afraid of this shooty version, particularly when it packs Stormtalons and a Repulsor Executioner. Ironically this list might have legs if it were being run as Iron Hands but as White Scars it’s just not doing much. The only threat I’m moderately worried about are the Assault Centurions, and even those aren’t too nasty if I can get them fighting after my Blightlords.

This game has a little bit of early back-and-forth but it’s never really out of hand for me. I’m once again going second – the third game in a row – and that means dealing with planes in my deployment zone from turn 1. Surround & Destroy is one of the 6-objective “hold one/hold two” missions, with two home objectives, so scoring fewer than 40 points on primary here is very, very difficult. Adam’s made a large mistake taking Surround Them here – something I suggested he not do – since his planes can’t control those markers in my deployment zone. He’s very concerned with taking out my Plagueburst Crawlers early, but the guns on a Stormtalon just aren’t equipped to do that and he ends up with nothing to show for his efforts turn 1 while the Fleshmower promptly plows through one of his planes. My goal here is to press up the right side of the table and draw him out, which works – but I get a bit too greedy and take a big hit when the Centurions charge in on turn 2 and are able to wipe out my blightlords with some hot rolling and a fights last effect from the Judiciar that I can’t counter with the Blightspawn as he’s too far away to tag the Centurions. That’s a tough break, but I respond by just removing the Centurions from the table with shooting the following turn, while the Plague Marines and Fleshmower go on to kill the Executioner in melee. From there Adam just doesn’t have any gas left and while his Chapter Master survives a round of avoiding mutant strain attacks form my Poxwalkers, I’m able to all but wipe him out by turn 4.

Adam was a great opponent and it was great to meet him in person. His army was beautiful and he was a lot of fun to play. Exactly the kind of game I was looking for to finish out the day.

Result: 89-66, Victory

 

Alright, Day 1 in the books. There’s nothing special planned on GW’s end so it’s time for GOONHAMMER MEET-UPS and EAT-UPS. We meet up to talk about the day’s games and shoot the shit at a sports bar across the street called Walk-Ons. Dan “Cha BoI” Boyd bigtimes us by heading to a fancy restaurant with Brandt, but we fill the gap with Goatboy, who’s great company. I end up eating way too much food and regretting it later but it’s a good time. We head back around midnight and I sleep very little that night, waking up around 4 with some nasty heart burn. I’m up for a while, nap again for about 30 minutes, and then I’m off to find some kind of breakfast solution again, with few good options to consider. I’m pretty exhausted going into this morning’s games but I’ll perk up before too long, then feel like shit again later. The Age of Sigmar event is this morning and somewhere in all this I run into Alice, or “RagnarokAngel,” our lead AoS writer. I’m handing off a bunch of old metal horrors to her that I haven’t gotten much use out of. She’s been looking for these models for a long time so it works out.

 

Saturday

Game 4: vs. SENSEI SWAG’s Imperial Knights

Knights on the move

This was the only game of the weekend I didn’t enjoy, for a few reasons I’ll outline below. I’m pretty clear on what Knights can do coming into this game, and I know that the terrain isn’t good for them, but it’ll mostly depend on my ability to hide and rack up points while my opponent struggles his way around the terrain. Unfortunately, Sweep and Clear is a bad deployment map for that since I’m only starting on one objective and will have to spread out and open myself up to knights bullshit if I want to actually score points.

My Secondaries

  • Titanslayer
  • Spread the Sickness
  • Direct Assault

Adam’s Secondaries

  • Assassination
  • Grind Them Down
  • Engage on All Fronts

This is a terrible mission for picking secondary objectives on against Knights. Any other game, I’d be in heaven, since occupying the middle of the table is my jam. Here it just means exposing myself by moving into the open against an army that is equipped to shoot it off the table. Titanslayer is still a given, and Spread the Sickness is 6 points easy and if I can actually hold the middle I can live with 9 + whatever I get from Direct Assault. In retrospect I should have taken banners for 10 relatively easy points and possibly To The Last, but most of that wouldn’t have mattered given how the game played out. More on that in a moment.

SENSEI SWAG's List - Click to Expand

++ Super-Heavy Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Imperial Knights) [101 PL, -2CP, 2,000pts] ++

Household Choice: Questor Mechanicus – House Raven
Exalted Court [-1CP]: Exalted Court: 1 Extra Warlord Trait

Heirlooms of the Household [-1CP]: Heirlooms of the Household: 1 Extra Heirloom

+ Lord of War +

Armiger Warglaives [7 PL, 140pts] . Armiger Warglaive: Freeblade, Meltagun
. . Qualities and Burdens
. . . Chosen Burdens: Burden: Exiled in Shame, Burden: Obsessed with Vengeance
. . . Chosen Qualities: Quality: Sworn to a Quest

Armiger Warglaives [14 PL, 280pts] . Armiger Warglaive: Meltagun
. Armiger Warglaive: Meltagun

Knight Castellan [32 PL, 620pts]: Character (Knight Lance), Heirloom: Cawl’s Wrath, Warlord, Warlord Trait (Mechanicus): Cold Eradication
. One Siegebreaker Cannon and Four Shieldbreaker Missiles: Twin Siegebreaker Cannon

Questoris Knight Magaera [24 PL, 480pts]: Character (Exalted Court), Warlord Trait: Ion Bulwark
. Hekaton Siege Claw and Twin Rad-Cleanser

Questoris Knight Magaera [24 PL, 480pts]: Character (Exalted Court), Character (Heirloom of the House), Heirloom: Armour of the Sainted Ion
. Hekaton Siege Claw and Twin Rad-Cleanser

++ Total: [101 PL, -2CP, 2,000pts] ++

 

 

This is a relatively straightforward knights list, though the Castellan is a bit of a surprise. It gives him some nasty firepower and the ability to take out Plagueburst Crawlers quickly if he can get them in his sights. My goal will be to keep them as hidden as possible. If I can stop him from getting Grind and Assassination while killing two big knights I’ll be in a solid place points-wise.

Before the game, my opponent offers me a shot. I decline, in part because I’m hungover and in part because it’s 9:30 in the morning. I don’t generally have an issue with this, but he’ll then proceed to offer another half a dozen times in the next hour and a half and his teammate will come along and do the same. And in addition to that, this is the game where everything gets really fucked: During set-up my opponent wins the roll for attacker/defender, then decides to swap sides. It’s not clear to me at all why he does this, given the terrain is supposed to be broadly symmetrical. We deploy and then start on first turn. He wins the roll-off, so I’m 0-4. Then he proceeds to move his Castellan into place and shoot me through a gap in the wall where the terrain is open. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about this since I’m under the impression the first floor is supposed to be closed off for LOS, but he insists a judge told him it was true line of sight when you’re in the building. Unfortunately I’m tired and this semi-jibes with what happened in my game against Namon the day before, where he shot over the first floor with his Riptide, and a judge told us the terrain wasn’t infinitely tall (though note the Riptide was in the building at the time, so this jibes with the current rules).

So I spend all game losing key units – including both PBCs – to a Castellan shooting through this gap:

Some real bullshit tbh

And it becomes clear to me the reason he swapped is because the other side of the table has a ruin that looks like this:

must be nice

I’ll later ask a judge to clarify this and he’ll say that, no, the gap is considered blocked, but by then it’s too late and I’ve already lost the game. And make no mistake – I lost it because of this. The game itself is pretty close – I lose 51-67 before painting scores – and that’s because shooting that gap allows him to score Grind points every turn while simultaneously removing my best anti-tank shooting. I make an early play for the middle and am able to take down a Magaera there while keeping his Armigers off the other quarters, but I can’t kill a second Titanic knight without help from PBCs and he ends up taking it as a result. I don’t think he was willfully cheating – I think someone probably did mess up and tell him that – but the net result is still a devastating mis-play that essentially tilted the game in his direction and that sucks. And in either case, the outcome is on me – I should have called a judge immediately and gotten the issue clarified during the game, instead of waiting until after like a fuckin idiot. But here we are, and it’s not the end of the world. It wouldn’t be a Road To blog if I wasn’t learning lessons the most painful way possible.

Result: 61-77, Loss

 

The result of that game puts me in a bad mood throughout lunch, and that’s not improved by our mad dash attempt to get something to eat in the hotel that results in total failure. The Starbucks upstairs is positively swamped and also not at all fast or efficient, and I wait in line for 25 minutes before just leaving to try and find something else. Fortunately Boon is around and he gives me half his sandwich, plus I have a granola bar in my backpack that I didn’t eat during the road trip. Those two are enough to tide me over until dinner. Boon, by the way, is 4-0 at this point, while Scott Horras is 3-1 and Dan Boyd, despite a blistering 3-0 start, has lost to Space Wolves on the streaming table.

At this point, we hit a major cutoff and I’m locked into a lower standing. Players are separated into multiple brackets, with the top 16 being sorted into the top bracket, the leftover 3-1s going into another, the 2-2s going into another, and ditto the 1-3s and 0-4s. Losing that last game has put me into the 2-2 bracket but if I’m honest, that’s not so bad, even if it does mean I can’t get higher prizes. I’m much more likely to win more games here, and meanwhile I look at Dan’s Raven Guard list and can’t help but think he’s probably in the wrong bracket after over-performing against some softball lists. I may not have enjoyed my last game but I cannot say my opponent wasn’t a good player, even if he was wrong in a pretty heinous way about the terrain. Hell, even Namon has gone 3-1 at this point and Goatboy’s also on 3-1 so my only “weak” opponent to this point was Adam. I’m not super-hype to be 2-2 – I’d rather be 3-1 – but I’m also not upset about it, either. My goal is still to do better than .500.

 

Next Time: Conquering The 2-2 Bracket

This is a good time to break up an already long article into two chunks. Next time (tomorrow, most likely), I’ll cover the final four games of the tournament and talk about those results and the long ride back home. So stay tuned and come back tomorrow, Dear Reader, for the EXCITING CONCLUSION! And if you have any feedback or questions, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.