TheChirurgeon’s Road Through 2023, Part 17: Warzone Houston

Welcome back, Dear Reader, to my ongoing chronicle of misadventures through competitive Warhammer 40,000. In my most recent update I was blazing through practice games prior to Warzone Houston, prepping for the big event. In this article, I’ll run through the event itself, what I learned, and what I have planned for Tampa.

Friday

I have a finite number of events I can attend in a given year. I mean, we all do, in the sense that the constraints of space and time bind us to being in a single place at any given time, but specifically for me in the sense that my wife will only tolerate so many days and weekends away. Generally most events are fine as long as I’m back home in the evening, so RTTs and Warzone Houston are, for the most part, “free” in this regard, while four “away” events in a given year is about the max the missus will put up with.

The wrinkle with that is my wife’s annual trip to Vegas with her friends, which this year happened to coincide with the weekend of Warzone Houston. She caught a flight out Friday morning, leaving me with Bryce for the weekend. And by “leaving me with Bryce,” I mean, “forcing me to pawn him off to my parents,” because that’s exactly what I did. Much as I love my son, he is not old enough to hang out for a full day of 9-5 at the Warhammer Factory.

There’s a second wrinkle, I guess, but it’s more of a treat – Thomas “Goatboy” Reidy is visiting this weekend, coming into town for Warzone Houston and staying at my house. Goatboy and I met officially at the 2021 Lone Star Open and have been friends ever since, despite the heinous war crimes he perpetrated against me with a 6-Dreadknight list at the GW New Orleans Open later that year. He’s made the drive out from Austin to hang out for the weekend. We grab dinner at the Lake Houston Brewery and run through a quick practice game the night before the event. He’s on World Eaters running what I’d describe as a hastily-made list that could use a bit more optimization. He’ll push through those problems on sheer play skill, though.

The Final Practice Game

Gettin cute with my Nurglings

We’ve got lots of time and the venue for WZH is only half an hour away so Goatboy and I get in a practice game. I’m loosely modeling the terrain after what I’ve seen in the player packet, though it’ll turn out this is a way more generous helping of sight-blocking terrain than we’ll actually get. Notable things from this game:

  • I figure out that I can use the Nurglings to block Thomas’ turn 1 moves, essentially funneling him to mid-board and stopping him basically 9″ out from his Deployment Zone. This is great given what he really wants is a first turn charge.
  • The Plague Marines are deadly threats against beefy infantry squads like the Exalted Eightbound.
  • Eightbound can absolutely tear through Mortarion in a turn.
  • Thomas learns that you only roll once per round for Blood Dice. Glad we sorted that out before the event.

I end up winning the game pretty handily, mostly because Thomas runs out of steam pretty quickly. I went with -1 to saves this game to punch through more damage and I think that was the right call but I’m not 100% on that one.

We call it a night and I finish painting my second unit of Deathshroud, making me ready for the event.

Saturday

Sam Houston Racetrack is about 30 minutes from my house, give or take. It’s an easy ride and we stop for some McDonald’s breakfast on the way. The event space itself is fine – not too cramped, but laid out in a way that makes it a long walk to the restroom no matter which restroom you want to go to. The event ends up starting nearly an hour late as people take time getting checked in and they have to resolve the challenges thing before the round starts.

We meet up with the rest of the Astros Militarum and Goatboy is introduced to the crew while we mull around waiting for things to start. There’s a lot of good energy in the room.

Round 1: vs. Ryan Blair’s Death Guard

Deployment for the mirror match

The Mission: Crucible of Battle, Chilling Rain, Purge the Foe

Round 1 and it’s a mirror match. Huzzah, I guess. This isn’t quite as grueling as it used to be but with both of us running Mortarion it means a lot of the Contagion effects aren’t going to be felt by units near Morty – including the -1 to saves. That means this game is going to be a lot less deadly than it could be, and with the number of 2+ saves on the table, that could be an issue.

Ryan's List - click to expand

Typhus and Morty (2000 Points)

Death Guard
Plague Company
Strike Force (2000 Points)

CHARACTERS

Lord of Virulence (100 Points)
• 1x Heavy plague fist
1x Twin plague spewer

Mortarion (325 Points)
• Warlord
• 1x Rotwind
1x Silence
1x The Lantern

Typhus (100 Points)
• 1x Master-crafted manreaper

OTHER DATASHEETS

Blightlord Terminators (330 Points)
• 1x Blightlord Champion
• 1x Bubotic blade
1x Plague combi-bolter
• 9x Blightlord Terminator
• 7x Bubotic blade
2x Flail of corruption
3x Plague combi-bolter
2x Plague spewer
2x Reaper autocannon

Death Guard Cultists (50 Points)
• 1x Death Guard Cultist Champion
• 1x Brutal assault weapon
1x Cultist firearm
• 9x Death Guard Cultist
• 9x Brutal assault weapon
7x Cultist firearm
1x Flamer
1x Grenade launcher

Deathshroud Terminators (125 Points)
• 1x Deathshroud Champion
• 1x Manreaper
1x Plaguespurt gauntlet 1x Plaguespurt gauntlet
• 2x Deathshroud Terminator
• 2x Manreaper
2x Plaguespurt gauntlet

Deathshroud Terminators (125 Points)
• 1x Deathshroud Champion
• 1x Manreaper
1x Plaguespurt gauntlet 1x Plaguespurt gauntlet
• 2x Deathshroud Terminator
• 2x Manreaper
2x Plaguespurt gauntlet

Foetid Bloat-Drone (100 Points)
• 1x Fleshmower
1x Plague probe

Foetid Bloat-Drone (100 Points)
• 1x Fleshmower
1x Plague probe

Foetid Bloat-Drone (100 Points)
• 1x Fleshmower
1x Plague probe

Plagueburst Crawler (165 Points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
2x Entropy cannon
1x Heavy slugger
1x Plagueburst mortar

Plagueburst Crawler (165 Points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
1x Heavy slugger
1x Plagueburst mortar
2x Plaguespitter

Plagueburst Crawler (165 Points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
1x Heavy slugger
1x Plagueburst mortar
2x Plaguespitter

Poxwalkers (50 Points)
• 10x Poxwalker
• 10x Improvised weapon

Ryan’s list isn’t too far off from mine but he’s traded out the Plague Marines, Rhino, and Nurglings for an extra Bloat-Drone and Blightlords. I take the -1 to saves Contagion (Rattlejoint Ague), while he takes Skullsquirm Blight (-1 WS/BS).

I’m Going Second.

That’s not ideal but Ryan doesn’t have a ton of shooting he can drop on me first turn to worry about. He pulls better secondaries than I do, however – he nabs deploy teleport homers and engage on turn 1 to score an easy 6 VP while I draw the unscorable duo of Capture Enemy Outpost and Assassination. Ryan pushes to the middle early but tries to flank north with Mortarion to destroy my shooty Bloat-Drone, leaving him out of range of the Blightlords. That ends up killing him as I wipe them out pretty quickly with anti-infantry shooting at boosted saves. I also end up coming in behind his home objective with Typhus and Deathshroud Terminators, wiping out his Bloat-drone there and taking his home objective, but I forget to deep strike my Nurglings on turn 2. It was a sloppy game on my end and it was slow going in a shortened round.

At one point my parents stopped in with my son – a nice treat, since he’d never seen a Warhammer tournament. I had him roll some dice for me and he promptly beefed the roll. Not great, Bryce.

We’re not exactly slow playing here but nothing is dying in this game. I’m way ahead on primary (32-20) but Ryan has had much better Secondary draws and is up 26-14 on secondaries. We hit dice down at the end of round 3 and I’m up 56-54 but it’s still anyone’s game. We both have Morty on the table, and I have Typhus, poxwalkers, and some Deathshrouds and Nurglings while he has Morty and some PBCs. A good turn from either of us could be the difference. While I’m technically up winning on time is a shitty way to go out so we agree to a 56-56 draw. Neither of us was going to win this thing anyways. Ryan was a great guy and I had fun playing him. It was a good game and I’d happily play him again some time.

Result: 56-56, Draw

This is my first draw in competitive play. Feels weird, but whatever – I’m undefeated, baby! We sit down and grab lunch. After last year’s Food Truck Fiasco we resolved to bring sandwich stuff from home. I bring some lunch meat, chips and sodas while Andrew and Dan brought some bread, mustard, and… warm Kraft singles. For whatever reason these guys haven’t figured out the secret technology of “a cooler with ice packs.” Still the lunch is pretty good.

Round 2: vs. Bernard Clark’s Adeptus Mechanicus

The Mission: Hammer & Anvil, Sweep & Clear, Priority Targets

This is a game where my practice two weeks ago immediately paid off (special thank you to Eric Chirlin for making me play a game). There’s really only one thing I need to worry about for the Admech and that’s Kataphron shooting – both in their shooting phase and with their ability to use a Stratagem to shoot back after being shot. If I can avoid those 3-damage volleys, I’ll be fine. Plus most of the army is INFANTRY and that’s going to crumble pretty fast to my anti-infantry shooting.

Bernard's List - Click to Expand

Imperium – Adeptus Mechanicus – IT Wants You to Factory Reset 10th Edition – [1995pts]

## Army Roster [1995pts]

### Configuration
Battle Size: Strike Force (2000 Point limit)
Detachment: Rad-cohort
Show/Hide Options

### Character [325pts]
Tech-Priest Dominus [100pts]: Excoriating Emanation, Eradication ray, Macrostubber
Tech-Priest Dominus [95pts]: Omni-Steriliser, Volkite blaster, Phosphor serpenta
Tech-Priest Enginseer [40pts]
Tech-Priest Manipulus [90pts]: Master Annihilator, Magnarail lance, Warlord

### Battleline [250pts]
Skitarii Rangers [90pts]: Omnispex
• Skitarii Ranger (Transuranic arquebus)
• Skitarii Ranger (Arc rifle)
• Skitarii Ranger (Plasma caliver)
• 6x Skitarii Ranger (Galvanic rifle)
• Skitarii Ranger Alpha: Galvanic rifle, Alpha combat weapon
Skitarii Vanguard [80pts]: Omnispex
• Skitarii Vanguard (Arc rifle)
• Skitarii Vanguard (Plasma caliver)
• 7x Skitarii Vanguard (Radium carbine)
• Skitarii Vanguard Alpha: Radium carbine, Alpha combat weapon
Skitarii Vanguard [80pts]: Omnispex
• Skitarii Vanguard (Arc rifle)
• Skitarii Vanguard (Plasma caliver)
• 7x Skitarii Vanguard (Radium carbine)
• Skitarii Vanguard Alpha: Radium carbine, Alpha combat weapon

### Infantry [865pts]
Corpuscarii Electro-Priests [110pts]
• 10x Corpuscarii Electro-Priests
Corpuscarii Electro-Priests [110pts]
• 10x Corpuscarii Electro-Priests
Kataphron Breachers [290pts]
• 6x Kataphron Breacher (Heavy arc rifle & hydraulic claw)
Kataphron Breachers [290pts]
• 6x Kataphron Breacher (Heavy arc rifle & hydraulic claw)
Pteraxii Skystalkers [65pts]
• 4x Pteraxii Skystalkers
• Pteraxii Skystalker Alpha

### Mounted [55pts]
Serberys Sulphurhounds [55pts]
• 2x Serberys Sulphurhound (Twin phosphor pistols)
• Serberys Sulphurhound Alpha

### Vehicle [340pts]
Ironstrider Ballistarii [50pts]
• Ironstrider Ballistarius(Twin cognis lascannon) [50pts]
Ironstrider Ballistarii [50pts]
• Ironstrider Ballistarius(Twin cognis lascannon) [50pts]
Sydonian Dragoons [120pts]
• 2x Sydonian Dragoon (Taser lance & Phosphor Serpenta) [120pts]
Sydonian Dragoons [120pts]
• 2x Sydonian Dragoon (Taser lance & Phosphor Serpenta) [120pts]

### Dedicated Transport [160pts]
Skorpius Dunerider [80pts]
Skorpius Dunerider [80pts]

This list can score but it’s going to crumble quickly when it starts getting hit, and outside the Kataphrons it’s not packing enough damage to take me out, especially once it has to eat -1 BS. I take Skullsquirm Blight (-1 WS/BS) and get ready.

I’m Going Second. 

That’s fine here, mostly because Bernard has to push up and play aggressively if he wants to keep me from just dominating on primary. Unfortunately, that means he’s already in Contagion range on turn 2 as I press forward and start going to town. I step out of the south building with the Lord of Virulence and start shelling his Kataphrons with mortars as they’re unable to retaliate. I charge Mortarion into some Ironstriders. the Plague Marines wipe out the Electoo-Priests. It’s a bloodbath.

The crazy thing about this is that Bernard was absolutely spiking his saves. 5s and 6s everywhere. It just did not matter, because he couldn’t do it at the volume he needed to stay on the table. He asked me after the game if there was anything he could have done outside of playing another army and I honestly don’t know if there was. He probably would have been better off going second and maybe playing a bit more coy but honestly I don’t think that would have mattered either. I table him on turn 3. Bernard’s a fine opponent and the game was enjoyable despite being short.

Result: 98-39, Victory

I was paired down in my round 2 game, and the same thing will happen to me in round 3. The good news is I’m up against my favorite member of Team Swamp Fox 40k, Steven Fox (name a coincidence, I believe).

Round 3: vs. Steven Fox’s Imperial Knights

The Mission: Search & Destroy, Secret Intel, Sites of Power

I played Steven last year in round 6 of Warzone Houston, when he was on Tyranids. Steven is legitimately one of the chillest, best dudes in the hobby and an absolute joy to play. Our game was an absolute nail-biter and ultimately came down to my getting lucky? unlucky? on the first turn.

Steven's list - click to expand

Fisto Roboto (2000 points)
Imperial Knights
Strike Force (2000 points)
Noble Lance

CHARACTER

Knight Gallant (400 points)
• Warlord
• 1x Meltagun
1x Reaper chainsword
1x Stormspear rocket pod
1x Thunderstrike gauntlet

Knight Gallant (400 points)
• 1x Meltagun
1x Reaper chainsword
1x Stormspear rocket pod
1x Thunderstrike gauntlet

BATTLELINE

Armiger Helverin (150 points)
• 2x Armiger autocannon
1x Armoured feet
1x Questoris heavy stubber

Armiger Helverin (150 points)
• 2x Armiger autocannon
1x Armoured feet
1x Questoris heavy stubber

Armiger Helverin (150 points)
• 2x Armiger autocannon
1x Armoured feet
1x Questoris heavy stubber

Armiger Warglaive (150 points)
• 1x Questoris heavy stubber
1x Reaper chain-cleaver
1x Thermal spear

Armiger Warglaive (150 points)
• 1x Questoris heavy stubber
1x Reaper chain-cleaver
1x Thermal spear

Armiger Warglaive (150 points)
• 1x Questoris heavy stubber
1x Reaper chain-cleaver
1x Thermal spear

Armiger Warglaive (150 points)
• 1x Questoris heavy stubber
1x Reaper chain-cleaver
1x Thermal spear

Armiger Warglaive (150 points)
• 1x Questoris heavy stubber
1x Reaper chain-cleaver
1x Thermal spear

I haven’t gone up against Knights yet and I’m admittedly worried about it. I don’t have a lot of anti-vehicle firepower. My plan is to take the Skullsquirm Blight (-1 WS/BS) and get into combat with them early and often. I need to kill the Warglaives and tie up the Helverins. If I can take down the big knights, I’ll be in good shape but two of them is a big ask. The mission rules here favor Steven – Secret Intel means we draw 3, discard 1 for secondaries, which is much more generous to armies which aren’t tuned for scoring some secondaries – he can just discard the action secondaries that might otherwise tie up his big units from shooting.

I’m going First.

This is one of two games where I go first and I definitely needed it. I pull A Tempting Target, Deploy Teleport Homer, and Bring it Down. I discard Teleport Homer, thinking I’ll snag BiD easy. Turns out I don’t – I whiff my rolls trying to split fire and leave two Armigers alive on a couple of wounds. This seems like a disaster at first but will turn out to be a very savvy(?) or strong move later on. Steven pulls No Prisoners and Area Denial on his turn and is able to pick up one of my Bloat-drones immediately, plus a PBC. He sends one big knight around the top and one around the south side, and both are a problem.

The good news is on my turn I’m able to kill both wounded Armigers, plus a third to snag 8 VP on Bring it Down, maxing it out – something Steven wasn’t aware was possible. So even though I didn’t score it turn 1, I wasn’t completely boned by it, though arguably I’d have scored more getting 6 for it turn 1 and another secondary later. Either way, it’s a big swing.

Steven’s big knight wipes Morty out and handles Typhus and his Deathshroud pretty easily but walks off the northwest objective to fight more stuff, giving up points for Sites of Power. In another pivotal moment I charge Steven’s Helverins with my 3W-left Chaos Lord, hoping to tie them up and keep scoring sites of power, only for him to hit 3 6s in the overwatch shooting and just blow the guy off the table. Steven ends up beating me on Primary – 30-27, but thanks to just not having many units left late in the game – one big knight plus two helverins tied up in combat with Nurglings – he can’t score anything that comes up, meaning I outscore him on secondaries, 40-23. This is a game where the Nurglings really put in some work.

Result: 77-63, Victory

Steven’s a joy to play and puts up with my bullshit very well. This game came down to the wire and I legitimately thought I had lost it when my Chaos Lord died to Overwatch there but I wasn’t paying close attention to the secondary scoring and Steven just didn’t have anything left in his deck he could draw to make up the difference. We’ll end up cursing the Cowboys’ piss-poor play together against the Cardinals the next day as we watch the game on his phone after round 6 ends.

I take my army back up to the paint judging table for submission. They didn’t have time to make it through every army with the shortened lunch and I’m happy to throw my hat in again. My Death Guard aren’t my prettiest army but they look decent with Mortarion and I have a display board so I may as well use it.

After last year’s bullshit I’m happy to say that paint judging this year was much, much better. The judges were a little hamstrung by adhering to the pisspoor ITC scoring rubric (Note: You don’t have to do this! It’s fine to not dock points for not having OSL or two colors of flock on a base), but the judges took what they were doing seriously and did what I felt was a stellar and fair job. I was by no means the top painted army at the event – there were some real stunners there this year – but I placed a respectable 11th, and that felt appropriate.

Dinner that night is at  BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, with the entire Astros Militarum crew plus a couple of the Kingwood guys hanging out. It’s late but the burger is fine. Greg “Klobasnek” Narro is hanging out as well – he’s not playing in the event but he’s a leader in the community group and was able to steal some time away from his one year-old to hang out. I’ve been there, buddy.

We watch the Astros piss away their lead in the AL West by dropping another game to the Royals, one of this year’s worst teams, and we talk about the day’s games. Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson is riding high at the moment on 3-0 and I don’t feel too bad about 2-0-1. We bounce around 9:30, have to deal with some construction traffic on the way back, and end up crashing around 10:30. Sleeping in your own bed after a day at an event fuckin rules.

 

Sunday

Prep is pretty fast on Sunday – we have an extra hour, give or take, to get ready as we don’t have to worry about checking in. I pack some extra stuff for sandwiches this time around, bringing some sliced tomato and some lettuce in the cooler pack. Having sandwiches at the event is great but just eating meat, cheese, and mustard kind of sucks. Today we’re doing it right.

Sunday’s a bit more laid back than Saturday, and things actually start on time, which helps. What doesn’t help is that the BCP app has shit out on me, and just keeps crashing. The good news is that I can just submit scores through Tabletop Battles once I’ve connected my account to BCP, so that’s an easy fix.

There’s one big catch for Sunday, though – the terrain has shifted. On Saturday the terrain layouts looked like this:

Those two L-shaped ruins in the middle are Ruins. On Sunday? They’ve swapped places with the crates, which are not ruins, i.e. Obscuring. This means that the middle of the table is just wide fucking open, turning the board into a shooting gallery. It’s also way harder to get through the middle of the table. The event didn’t have great terrain, but it was close to serviceable on Saturday. This Sunday layout sucks shit.

Round 4: vs. Nathaniel Bjorge’s Astra Militarum

The Mission: : Sweeping Engagement, Targets of Opportunity, Supply Drop

This is the second time I’ve had to play a round 4 game against Nathaniel Bjorge – the last time was at the 2022 Lone Star Open – and just like last time there’s not a lot I can do against him if I don’t go first. Nathaniel is basically playing a skew list he came up with after he took one look at the terrain layouts in the event player pack.

The roughest part is I almost was paired into Dane Mercer instead (who I played at last year’s Warzone Houston and is a joy to play), but got repaired into Nate at the last minute. Curses!

Nathaniel's List - Click to Expand

Tank you sir (2000 points)
Astra Militarum
Strike Force (2000 points)
Combined Regiment

CHARACTER

Gaunt’s Ghosts (100 points)
• 1x Ibram Gaunt
• 1x Bolt Pistol
1x Gaunt’s chainsword
• 1x Colm Corbec
• 1x Corbec’s hot-shot lascarbine
1x Straight silver knife
• 1x Elim Rawne
• 1x Rawne’s lascarbine
1x Straight silver knife
• 1x Hlaine Larkin
• 1x Larkin’s long-las
1x Straight silver knife
• 1x ’Try Again’ Bragg
• 1x Bragg’s autocannon
1x Straight silver knife
• 1x Oan Mkoll
• 1x Lascarbine
1x Mkoll’s straight silver knife

Lord Solar Leontus (125 points)
• Warlord
• 1x Conquest
1x Konstantin’s hooves
1x Sol’s Righteous Gaze

Platoon Command Squad (70 points)
• 1x Platoon Commander
• 1x Boltgun
1x Close combat weapon
1x Power fist
• Enhancement: Death Mask of Ollanius
• 4x Veteran Guardsman
• 4x Close combat weapon
1x Flamer
1x Heavy flamer
2x Lasgun
4x Laspistol
1x Master Vox
1x Medi-pack

Regimental Enginseer (45 points)
• 1x Archeotech pistol
1x Enginseer axe
1x Servo-arm

Regimental Enginseer (45 points)
• 1x Archeotech pistol
1x Enginseer axe
1x Servo-arm

BATTLELINE

Infantry Squad (60 points)
• 1x Sergeant
• 1x Plasma pistol
1x Power weapon
• 7x Guardsman
• 7x Close combat weapon
1x Flamer
6x Lasgun
1x Vox-caster
• 1x Heavy Weapons Team
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x Laspistol
1x Mortar

OTHER DATASHEETS

Hellhound (125 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
1x Heavy flamer
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Inferno cannon

Hellhound (125 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
1x Heavy bolter
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Inferno cannon

Hellhound (125 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
1x Heavy bolter
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Inferno cannon

Stormsword (495 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
2x Lascannon
2x Lascannon
1x Stormsword siege cannon
1x Twin heavy bolter
2x Twin heavy bolter
2x Twin heavy bolter

Stormsword (495 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
2x Lascannon
2x Lascannon
1x Stormsword siege cannon
1x Twin heavy bolter
2x Twin heavy bolter
2x Twin heavy bolter

Tempestus Scions (55 points)
• 1x Tempestor
• 1x Plasma pistol
1x Power fist
• 4x Tempestus Scion
• 4x Close combat weapon
2x Hot-shot lasgun
1x Hot-shot volley gun
1x Plasma gun

Tempestus Scions (55 points)
• 1x Tempestor
• 1x Plasma pistol
1x Power fist
• 4x Tempestus Scion
• 4x Close combat weapon
2x Hot-shot lasgun
1x Hot-shot volley gun
1x Plasma gun

ALLIED UNITS

Vindicare Assassin (80 points)
• 1x Exitus pistol
1x Exitus rifle
1x Vindicare combat knife

The general plan for Nathaniel is this: Give Take Aim orders to both Stormswords, giving them +1 to hit. Then pick a target with the Hellhound and hit it, stripping it of cover for the turn. Then murder that target with the stormsword. Everything else is here just to do actions.

This is pretty bad for me. The terrain heavily favors Nathaniel and so does the mission – drawing three cards per turn means he’s much more likely to max out on secondaries regardless of whether I kill his action-doers. I basically have to go first this game and take out a Hellhound or two early, then get into melee with the tanks before they start shooting me up too bad. I take Rattlejoint Ague (-1 to saves) as the Hellhounds are going to auto-hit me anyways and the big tanks will always have Take Aim.

I’m Going Second. 

That’s basically game and we both know it. On top of all the other shit, I get diced hard this game. Nathaniel passes a bunch of saves, I roll a bunch of 1s, and the whole thing is a complete shitshow. The only saving grace is that Nate’s inability to roll low leads to one of his hellhounds exploding and killing his Vindicare before it can score anything, but he also does double digit mortal wounds to my units at the same time so it’s a wash at best. This game is an absolute rout.

Result: 41-100, Loss

Anyways, Nate’s a good guy and a fine opponent to play so it’s not a bad time or anything, but it is frustrating – I came into the game way down and then just never had a chance to claw my way out of it. We sit down for lunch and crush most of the sandwich stuff. Having my first loss isn’t great, but there wasn’t much I could have done in that game once I lost the first turn roll-off so I don’t feel too bad about it.

Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson is riding high at the moment, talking about how he’s on 1 loss and pacing for his best finish yet with CSM. He’s asks me if finishing 4-1 means I’ll have to acknowledge he’s a good player finally and I let him know that I will never give him the fatherly approval he so desperately wants – I will happily lift the goalposts each time and move them to a different stadium if I have to.

Then it’s time for round 5.

Round 5: vs. Noah Pope’s Aeldari (Ynnari)

The Mission: Take and Hold, Crucible of Battle, Minefields

Next up is a Ynnari Eldar list run by Noah Pope. Noah’s a fan of the site and an absolute pleasure to play. My one regret from this game is that I didn’t have more time to talk to him about site stuff, because he had questions but I was too caught up in trying to get through the game (we didn’t run out of time but our game came down to the wire).

Noah's List - click to expand

Only reason I’m not bringing 78 cyclic ion blasters is because I couldn’t find the bits (1995 points)
Aeldari
Strike Force (2000 points)
Battle Host

CHARACTER

Farseer Skyrunner (90 points)
• 1x Eldritch Storm
1x Shuriken pistol
1x Twin shuriken catapult
1x Witchblade

Illic Nightspear (70 points)
• 1x Aeldari power sword
1x Shuriken pistol
1x Voidbringer

The Yncarne (350 points)
• 1x Swirling soul energy
1x Vilith-zhar, the Sword of Souls

Yvraine (100 points)
• Warlord
• 1x Kha-vir, the Sword of Sorrows
1x Storm of Whispers

OTHER DATASHEETS

Night Spinner (180 points)
• 1x Doomweaver
1x Twin shuriken catapult
1x Wraithbone hull

Shadow Spectres (190 points)
• 10x Shadow Spectre
• 10x Close combat weapon
10x Prism rifle

Support Weapons (125 points)
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x D-cannon
1x Shuriken catapult

War Walkers (110 points)
• 2x Bright lance
1x War Walker feet

War Walkers (110 points)
• 2x Bright lance
1x War Walker feet

War Walkers (110 points)
• 2x Bright lance
1x War Walker feet

Warp Spiders (115 points)
• 1x Warp Spider Exarch
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x Death spinner
• 4x Warp Spider
• 4x Close combat weapon
4x Death spinner

Warp Spiders (115 points)
• 1x Warp Spider Exarch
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x Death spinner
• 4x Warp Spider
• 4x Close combat weapon
4x Death spinner

ALLIED UNITS

Scourges (110 points)
• 1x Solarite
• 1x Blast pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Solarite weapon
• 4x Scourge
• 4x Close combat weapon
4x Heat lance

Scourges (110 points)
• 1x Solarite
• 1x Blast pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Solarite weapon
• 4x Scourge
• 4x Close combat weapon
4x Dark lance

Scourges (110 points)
• 1x Solarite
• 1x Blast pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Solarite weapon
• 4x Scourge
• 4x Close combat weapon
4x Dark lance

I’ve played Eldar a few times but not Noah’s list. My big concerns are the Yncarne popping up to cause some trouble and the sheer volume of bright/dark lances in the list, which let it just shit out a ton of damage to vehicle targets at range. It’s also very mobile, but if I can get to it in melee, things will go south quickly. I reserve Typhus’ Deathshround and the two units of Nurglings.

I’m going Second.

Not what you want to see against a list that’s running a shitload of lances. This was the closest game I played of the weekend, and came down to the final turn.

Noah kicks things off and draws Area Denial and Engage on All fronts for a free easy 8 VP on turn 1. Why they let Area Denial score T1 is beyond me but here we are. He brings his Warwalkers around and uses them to kill one of my PBCs, forcing through damage with a Fate Dice to get the result he needed when I failed both saves. Then Noah did what I think was his biggest mistake, bringing his Yncarne around to charge my Deathshroud and Lord of Virulence. The Yncarne would kill three Deathshroud (but not the LoV) and end up dying on my turn as Morty and the PBCs lit into him.

From there Noah had to play it much more coy, doing a lot of fire-and-fade as I advanced across the table. I used Mortarion early on to avoid taking movement penalties from the Nightspinner and dropped Typhus and his Deathshroud on the northwest objective. Meanwhile I dropped the Nurglings in on the north spot. Noah for his part kept dropping his jump units out of cover, shooting the bejeezus out of me, then dropping back in.

The biggest blow came when I lost my entire unit of Plague Marines. Noah blew up the Rhino they were in then proceeded to light them up with the rest of his army, taking out all ten of them – but leaving the Chaos Lord alive. He’d go on to charge into Noah’s backfield the next turn through the wall, wipe out one unit, and put real damage into another. Meanwhile Morty was able to swing to the Southeast objective and steal it on the final turns.

Ultimately, this is what got the game for me – I was able to take all three No Man’s Land objectives on the final turn and win on Primary after being beat pretty soundly on secondary most of the game.

Result: 88-85, Victory

Noah was an extremely chill dude and a blast to play. A+ guy, would play against him again. I bought him a beer after the game and we chatted for a bit, but we didn’t have a ton of time to talk as we only finished our game with a few minutes to spare.

Round 6: vs. Kevin McCormick’s Necrons

The Mission: Hammer & Anvil, Hidden Supplies, Scorched Earth

This game was wild. Kevin’s a much better player than I am, but we were both in a hurry here – I wanted to get home to take my son off my parents’ hands, and Kevin had a friend at the event with an injured foot and he wanted to finish early so they could leave. We agreed to speed run this game a bit and just kind of deployed without looking at what the other player was doing. I don’t think Kevin appreciated what that might mean.

Kevin's List - click to expand

Dynasty of Falling Stars MK-V (2000 Points)

Necrons
Awakened Dynasty
Strike Force (2000 Points)

CHARACTERS

Hexmark Destroyer (80 Points)
• Warlord
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x Enmitic disintegrator pistols

Hexmark Destroyer (80 Points)
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x Enmitic disintegrator pistols

Imotekh the Stormlord (100 Points)
• 1x Gauntlet of Fire
1x Staff of the Destroyer

Lokhust Lord (80 Points)
• 1x Lord’s blade
1x Resurrection Orb

Lord (85 Points)
• 1x Lord’s blade
1x Resurrection Orb
• Enhancements: Veil of Darkness

Orikan the Diviner (80 Points)
• 1x Staff of Tomorrow

Royal Warden (40 Points)
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x Relic gauss blaster

Technomancer (85 Points)
• 1x Canoptek Cloak
1x Staff of light
• Enhancements: Hypermaterial Ablator

Technomancer (60 Points)
• 1x Canoptek Cloak
1x Staff of light

BATTLELINE

Necron Warriors (220 Points)
• 20x Necron Warrior
• 20x Close combat weapon
10x Gauss flayer
10x Gauss reaper

OTHER DATASHEETS

Cryptothralls (60 Points)
• 2x Cryptothrall
• 2x Scouring eye
2x Scythed limbs

Cryptothralls (60 Points)
• 2x Cryptothrall
• 2x Scouring eye
2x Scythed limbs

Cryptothralls (60 Points)
• 2x Cryptothrall
• 2x Scouring eye
2x Scythed limbs

Flayed Ones (70 Points)
• 5x Flayed One
• 5x Flayer claws

Lokhust Heavy Destroyers (150 Points)
• 3x Lokhust Heavy Destroyer
• 3x Close combat weapon
3x Gauss destructor

Lokhust Heavy Destroyers (100 Points)
• 2x Lokhust Heavy Destroyer
• 2x Close combat weapon
2x Gauss destructor

Lokhust Heavy Destroyers (50 Points)
• 1x Close combat weapon
1x Gauss destructor

Lychguard (230 Points)
• 10x Lychguard
• 10x Dispersion Shield
10x Hyperphase sword

Lychguard (230 Points)
• 10x Lychguard
• 10x Dispersion Shield
10x Hyperphase sword

Tomb Blades (80 Points)
• 3x Tomb Blade
• 3x Close combat weapon
3x Shadowloom
3x Shieldvanes
3x Twin tesla carbine

I’d normally have no business winning this game, but without vehicles to worry about I can actually deal with Kevin’s list pretty easily. On top of that, in his hurry he’s deployed his Warriors in line of sight out of the ruin on turn 1. And as a cherry on top, he has nothing on the table to threaten Morty or the PBCs with round 1.

I’m Going First. 

In an absolute windfall, I get to go first for only the second time this event. Holy shit. I roll forward with the Lord of Virulence, speed forward with the Rhino and drop out the plague marines, then proceed to light up the warrior blob with anti-infantry shooting followed by every mortar. I kill the entire unit on the first turn. On Kevin’s turn, he ambles forward with the Lychguard, and I overwatch them with my Plague Marines, killing 4 of them plus the two thralls. Then he charges my unit, and they fight first, killing the remaining 6 Lychguard and the Overlord. That’s basically game, and we’re done before turn 2 really gets into it. I take out the Tomb blades and Flayed ones, can mostly ignore the other Lychguard blob, and the Heavy Destroyers won’t be too big an issue when they arrive.

It’s kind of a hilarious mismatch and we both have a good laugh about it. In any normal matchup Kevin probably bodies me but today, rushing through the game, I get the drop on him and it’s pretty brutal and funny. Kevin’s a really great guy and fun to play and I’m looking forward to getting another game in against him soon.

I hang out for a little bit – whether I finish Best in Faction Death Guard depends largely on Jony Velazquez and his game against Russell Tassin. I watch the Cowboys game on Steven Fox’s phone for a bit (the team shit the bed badly against the Cardinals), and as soon as it looks like Jony has the game on lock I bounce. 4-1-1 is my best record yet, finally breaking the 4-2 barrier, but it’s not quite as good as starting Warhammer Fest 4-0, even if that ended on 4-2. I head home early enough to eat dinner at my folks’ house with the family.

Final Thoughts

Warzone Houston was a good time this year. For the first time in a while I had six really great opponents, and I was playing a list that felt pretty fun and balanced, with a lot of interesting choices to be made. I ended up taking -1 WS/BS in four of my six games, far more than I originally expected, and it was the right call in those games. Being able to put people on -2 to hit in melee is huge, and on more dense terrain I think this list has some solid play – I’m even considering whether I want to run more plague marines.

The event itself was also run better this year, and I have to give props to Jay, the event organizer, for doing a solid job, even if I think the terrain was bad. It’s definitely a holdover from 9th edition and replacing that shit is expensive. Otherwise I felt the event was better this year than last, with better TOs and judging.

At this point the big question is whether I run Death Guard or Thousand Sons at Tampa next weekend. Right now I’m on the fence. The Thousand Sons are painted much better, but they’re far less fun to play. That said, they also travel much easier, with the entire army fitting into a small Citadel minis case. That will probably be the determining factor here but I have time for a practice game or two this weekend and I’ll figure it out over the course of those games.

Check back next week when I finalize my plans for Tampa.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email me at contact@goonhammer.com.