Tournament Preview – Allies of Convenience Open

A month has passed. Too long have the forces of the Aeldari lain dormant. Watching. Waiting. Acquiring new models. This weekend, it’s once again their time to shine.

Welcome to another tournament preview, this time for the Allies of Convenience Open, run by the Welsh ETC team and the producers of the Podcast of the same name. While it’s going to be a little bit smaller than Blood and Glory, booking numbers have been sneakily creeping up every time I’ve gone back and it’s looking like a solidly sized event, and with a healthy level of competition.

As ever, next week we’ll be going through how the event went and details of my games, and in order to tee that up, today we’ll be covering:

  • The tournament format and style
  • Details of my list
  • Any exciting tricks or considerations for playing the army.

I’m painfully aware that I also promised an article about mathhammer at some point – part 1 of that is about 70% written, but as you’ll see I’ve added a not-inconsiderable number of new models to bolster my forces in the month since you last heard from me, and my hobby time has been eaten up doing that (especially as in a twist that will shock no-one, my attempt at a quick bitesize piece about mathhammer is at 3,500 words and counting for part 1).

Lets review the tournament format before we find out what terrible new things I’ve added to my army.

Tournament Format

The AoC open is a 2000 point, 5-round tournament using full ETC rules. The event pack is available here if anyone wants to read the whole thing, but the short summary is:

  • Combined Maelstrom/Eternal War missions. We’ve covered this exhaustively in previous editions of this, and Corrode did a good write up of it here.
  • All missions have the following additional tweaks:
    • Tabling is a max point win.
    • Differential kill points for up to 6VP. We saw this at the Glasshammer Open, and tends to slightly advantage and encourage small model count armies like full knights or Magnus and the Bois, because if they don’t get tabled they’re almost always getting 6 bonus VP here.
    • Unachievable cards can be discarded, max three cards scored a turn.
    • Re-roll off for deployment zones after objectives are placed. This tends to give a more balanced and less busted setup – hopefully at no point will I face a wall of plaguebearers parked on four objectives.
  • An ETC rule that was for some reason left out of the Glasshammer pack (which was otherwise pretty much pure ETC) is in-play – while you have to specify psychic/warlord traits/free relic on your army list, they can be freely changed in each game, they’re just on the list as a “fall-back” in case you forget to specify. Most recent UK events have mandated fixed powers, and this is a nice little buff to my army because there are specific matchups where I want to switch my default psychic setup out (more on that later).
  • Oh also we have to write Power Level on our army list for some reason. I think this is a holdover from pre- the Autumn FAQ where it mattered for reserves, and I guess it still technically matters for some strategems. Ugh, Power Level.

Other than the last thing, none of this is particularly new and helpfully that means everything we’ve learnt from the last few events should be relevant. Where has that taken us? Well…

The List

You know I mentioned before wanting to do a tricksy mixed Drukari Battalion to include a Succubus? It got worse…

Two planes good, three planes better.

Army list - Click to Expand

+ ARMY FACTIONS USED: Aeldari, Drukari, Alaitoc
== Battalion Detachment == Drukari [30 Power Points] [476pts] 5CP
HQ: Archon  (70), Husk Blade (6)  - [4pls]  [76pts] - WARLORD 
HQ: Succubus , Archite Glaive (0), Splinter Pistol (0), The Blood Glaive (free) - [4pls] [50pts] 
HQ: Haemoculus  (70), Electrocorrosive Whip (6), Stinger Pistol (5) - [5pls] [81pts]
Troop: 8 Kabalite Warriors  (48), Sybarite (0), Shredder (8) - [4pls] [56pts] 
DT: Raider  (65), Disintegrator Cannon (15) - [5pls] [80pts]
Troop: 5 Kabalite Warriors  (30), Sybarite (0), Shredder (8) - [4pls] [38pts]
DT: Venom  (65pts), Twin Splinter Rifle (0) - [4pls] [65pts]
Troop: 5 Kabalite Warriors  (30), Sybarite (0) - [4pls] [30pts] 

== Battalion Detachment == Alaitoc [54 Power Points] [963pts] 5CP
HQ: Warlock Skyrunner (65), Twin Shuriken Catapult (5), Singing Spear (5) - [4pls] [75pts] - Psychic Powers: Smite, Protect/Jinx
HQ: Autarch Skyrunner (95), Laser Lance (8), Twin Shuriken Catapult (5) - [6pls] [108pts]
HQ: Farseer (110), Witchblade (0) - [6pls] [110pts] - Psychic Powers: Smite, Executioner, Doom
Troop: 5 Dire Avengers (40), Exarch (0), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (20), Exarch Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (4) - [3pls] [64pts]
DT: Wave Serpent (107), Twin Shuriken Cannon (17), Shuriken Cannon (10) - [9pls] [134pts]
Troop: 20 Guardian Defenders (160), Guardian Heavy Weapon platform (5), Shuriken Cannon (10) - [9pls] [175pts]
Troop: 10 Guardian Defenders (80), Guardian Heavy Weapon platform (5), Shuriken Cannon (10) - [5pls] [95pts]
DT: Wave Serpent (107), Twin Shuriken Cannon (17), Shuriken Cannon (10) - [9pls] [134pts]
Elite: 5 Howling Banshees (45), Exarch (0), 4 Power Sword (16), Exarch Executioner (7) - [3pls] [68pts]

== Air Wing Detachment == Alaitoc [28 Power Points] [560pts] 1CP
Flyer: Hemlock Wraithfighter (200), Spirit Stones (10) - [10pls] [210pts] - Psychic Powers: Smite, Jinx
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), 2 Bright Lances (40) - [9pls] [175pts]
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), 2 Bright Lances (40) - [9pls] [175pts]

In order to realise the full power of what the Drukari detachment offers me, I’ll obviously be using “Alliance of Agony” strategem to add “Hyper-Swift Reflexes” to the Succubus (changes her invuln to 3++) and “Diabolical Soothsayer” to the Haemoculus (one re-roll per game + gain D3 command points at game start). I’ll also likely add Faolchu’s Wing to the Farseer because honestly at this point I’d probably forget I didn’t have it and cheat outrageously if I didn’t. Finally, if my opponent has any melee threats likely to come at me, I’ll probably buy the Vexator Mask for the Haemoculus.

Thanks to Soothsayer, doing all of that will only “cost” 0-1CP most of the time. I’ll also almost always deep strike the big guardian blob outside of some very unusual matchups or situations.

Since this represents the culmination of the last few month’s experience, a lot of what’s in there has been covered in previous of these, but there are obviously a few changes as well. Lets start with those

Tactics and Thoughts

The Black Heart Warlord

Oh no, he back.

At Blood and Glory I still didn’t have enough command points. Honestly, I’m not convinced it’s possible in an Eldar army to have a number of command points where you won’t use them all – the strategems are all great, and Vect is the greatest and most expensive of them all. The Black Heart trait is good for 3-4CP a game, and with the slightly larger army size than B&G I’m a bit less bothered by having a model that is going to be away from the action a lot of the time (and in fact I even found I wanted a few more dedicated back line models at B&G. While the warlord trait on the warlock was good (and definitely helped land a Jinx a few times), I found he was very vulnerable up front, and there are situations where it can be “correct” to take serious risks with a warlock to get a power in range, which isn’t great if he’s worth a point (or more via the Kingslayer card).

I was still wavering a bit on the idea, but fell down hard on the side of this choice once I realised it would allow me to include.

The Gank Squad and the Drukari Battalion

Bullshit levels rising…

I’d previously floated the idea of doing a mixed Battalion using a Red Grief Succubus and Lelith to get around having to have two Archons to fill one out, but Lelith is honestly kinda “meh” – she’s fine, but at the same price as an Archon I’m not certain she’s a better choice. Instead, an opponent using “Alliance of Agony” to get access to Diabolical Soothsayer at B&G, combined with the experience playing against a mixed Harlequin detachment done in order to access the best relics and strategems at Glasshammer got me wondering whether there was something along those lines I could do here.

Turns out that the best of the Wych and Haemoculus relics and warlord traits are both grouped into one of the sub-factions each. Mixing a Battalion like this stops me getting the obsessions, but doesn’t stop me taking relics or warlord traits that are faction specific. Losing obsessions is a little sad, but the only serious downside is not getting the 6+ FNP on my two Drukari vehicles (another thing I’m going to have to try and ram into my brain since I’ve literally never played them without it).

The upside is considerable. The Succubus is a 50pt package of pure murder – once you factor in combat drugs, she has 5 attacks hitting on 2s with re-rolls at S6, AP-3 and D3 damage, all neatly garnished with a 3+ invuln. That’s frankly faintly outrageous, and means that pretty much any character has to fear her in combat, and she can comfortably look at putting 4-6 wounds onto a Knight once it’s been doomed. Her extreme survivability combined with the “no escape” rule also means that she can occasionally randomly lock a key squad in combat and completely ruin the day of an opponent.

The Haemoculus is a little less outrageously good, but still no slouch with the Electrocorrosive Whip, and also has access to the “Vexator Mask”. This nasty piece of kit both makes the bearer immune overwatch (so he can help the Succubus make combat against something nasty like a knight) and has the ability to force a target unit to fight last each fight phase (even if they charged). This means that if I’m in a situation where I’m worried about, for example, deep striking bloodletters or Boyz charging me, I can weave these two characters into the front rank of my unit. If the charge then comes in, I can intervene in, force them to fight last and kill off a moderate number before they even get to strike, hopefully blunting their attack, or getting them below key break points for ability changes (i.e. bloodletters not getting 2+ WS if they’re below 20, Boyz losing at attack. It can also give the charged unit time to pile in in such a way to prevent me being locked in combat after my opponent does his.

These two will be riding around in the Raider with the larger Kabalite squad, while the completely vanilla squad will help hold the backfield, and the other small squad can either do that or ride around on the Venom. Both mobile squads have Shredders rather than Blasters – they’re a bit cheaper, and I’m happy based on field testing that the army has sufficient anti-tank without them, while shredders can do vicious things to stuff like Ork Boyz. Taken together, they also provide a very efficient way of grinding some precious command points without having to buy too many Dire Avengers.

Red Boi 2 – Son of Red Boi

Just look at their majesty!

Yes I’m the monster with three planes now. Honestly, they’re just too good not to take in an Eldar list, for all that the best Aeldari plane at the moment is probably the Razorwing. Crimson Hunters are here to shoot doomed tanks all day, and the Hemlock is, you know, the Hemlock (though pricy enough that CHs are where you want to double up in my opinion). I am slightly apprehensive about what (ironically) Ork shooting might be capable of doing to them, but equally the blocking capability of three planes against Orks is absurdly valuable (like all melee units, Boyz are extremely afraid of shadows), and there’s an “upside” to how good Dakka Dakka Dakka is against them in that it means you effectively aren’t penalised for parking them right in the Orks faces when need.

Outside of that matchup, they remain my current favoured anti-knight choice over fire prisms because the extra point of hit modifier is the only thing that will really defend you against a Castellan on the warpath – at 5s to hit, a complete whiff is plausible, and with lightning fast and a few crossed fingers you can usually get one through unscathed.  On dense-ish tables, one can often manage a solo block on a Gallant in an emergency as well.

They also add a lot of value against Deep Strike melee units like the hated Bloodletter bomb (or indeed “Da Jump” from Orks) – because they can’t be charged, they can wall off an entire flank by themselves if used correctly, and can engage in fringe setup shenanigans with “Phantasm” to do the same if your opponent has a lot of redeploy changes.

Not much more to say – you know them, you (probably) hate them, and they’re the reason I have to fear Chapter Approved.

Other Craftworld Things

Please could you point us towards the nearest Tau gunline we have a…delivery for them. Yes.

Most of the rest of the Craftworlds stuff you’ve seen before – the deep striking guardian bomb has been bulked out to the full 20, while a second squad of ten effectively replaces two squads of Dire Avengers (at the cost of 25 hours of my life painting early 00s sculpts in a terrible colour scheme chosen by child One_Wing). One squad of DAs is still here to fill out the Battalion, and obviously the Serpents are still around (but back to Shuriken Cannons given we have more dedicated anti-tank from the extra plane).

The only “new” unit is the Banshees. On my original draft of the list these were another squad of Dire Avengers, but I realised I could find the five extra points, and have been itching to take these back out for a while. Although they don’t really kill anything (in line with pretty much all Craftworld melee units whose name doesn’t rhyme with “Whining Tears”) their absurd charge range out of a transport (up to 32 inches if you get really lucky, and minimum 21 inches if you’re willing to spend a command point on the auto-max advance) can catch opponents by surprise. Their complete immunity to overwatch lets them hideously punish anything that can’t fall back and shoot, and the built in -1 to hit them in melee means that even that squad of five can stride into moderately nasty things and get away with it. They’re also a great back-up plan for getting the Succubus or Bike Autarch into combat with something like a knight, and assuming that we’ve doomed aforementioned knight are probably good for stripping a few wounds off it. Last time I took them to an event one of then got the last tap on Magnus. They’re metal. Technically literally metal, but that wasn’t where I was going with that, shut up.

They could arguably also have been replaced with a squad of swooping hawks, which would have given me a good emergency objective grabber but:

  1. That would add 1 to my drop count, and we’re already creeping towards the danger zone at 12 being the lowest we can get to.
  2. They’re much more boring – I’ve used them a lot more because they’re useful, but they’re kinda dull.
  3. I didn’t think of it till after list submission closed.

Hawks are also weaker than they were at the moment because a lot of popular “horde” choices have T4, which makes them a lot less good. Plus I have an absolute tonne of anti-infantry, have you seen this list?

Psychic Shenanigans

I mentioned earlier that being able to swap out Psychic Powers lets me swap to a different loadout in some matchups. Very specifically, if I’m up against:

  • Daemon/Cultist Board Flooding
  • Character heavy Ynnari
  • Talos Heavy Drukari

…then I probably swap Executioner out for Mind War on my Farseer, and depending on the exact list (definitely against Nurgle) swap the Bike Warlock to Embolden (a +2 LD buff). Between that and the Hemlock, I can set up a situation where my Farseer has 4-5 higher LD than a key buff character hiding in the lines, and blow its brains clean out. Against something like the 100+ Plaguebearer list I played at B&G (random aside – the player of that recently came 2nd at the Alliance GT with pretty much the same list, so I feel less bad about getting crushed now), being able to roll the dice on sniping out their buff characters is way more valuable than a few more mortal wounds into their endless hordes. Against Eldar, I probably don’t go all in on Embolden, as I really need the spare Jinx caster, but they’ll probably have warlocks in their army, which I can still hit a “difference” of 3 LD on without Embolden, enough to waste one on average. That’s a bit more of a “play it by ear” though – if there are Shining Spears coming at me, keeping Executioner is probably best.

It’s worth saying that I probably won’t be swapping out for Guide in matchups like knights where Executioner is just an overcosted smite – it turns out that even with Doom and Jinx landed, the extra hits generated on the maxed out guardian squad by guide still only pay off about as many wounds as Executioner does, and less reliably. On top of that, as long as I position my Autarch correctly I get “half” of Guide’s benefit already, at which point it definitely isn’t worth it. The only place it does substantially better is against exactly T5-7 vehicles with no invluns, but good news – my army trivially obliterates those anyway.

Any Other Thoughts..

A few thoughts on specific matchups:

  • The elephant in the room is obviously Orks. Assuming they’re on the “Loota Bomb” that seems to be the emerging favourite I should have good game if I go first (and I’ll almost definitely under-drop them), as I can fan out my planes to block “Da Jump”, and use Vect on Grot shields to allow me to likely take the majority of the 20 Loota Squad off the board turn 1. If I go second, prepared positions and Vect on “More Dakka” should mean that I at least only lose one plane to the Loota onslaught, but I’ll freely admit it looks a bit dicey.
  • I’m much more confident on my strategy for the Knight and/or Magnus matchups now – plan to go hard in on taking down one of the gatling knights first, and leave the tougher cookies for later – the advantage of my list against them is that I have all three of tough vehicles, a decent body count and nasty characters, and that means taking out any of their knights is really good for me, I don’t need to aggressively prioritise the best one.
  • I have more of a plan for Daemon or Cultist spam now but it’s still a pretty tough matchup.
  • Other Aeldari are also obviously tough – one day I’ll get a game against Taloses where I manage to land both Jinx and Doom. One day. Nasty melee characters does at least feel like it’s adding something here.

Wrap Up

That’s it from me for this week – wish me luck for the weekend (and my last chance to break the terrible 3-2 curse this year), and tune in next week to see how it went, or if Corrode ended up in battle of wits with death on the line or something.