Tournament Preview – BIG Bristol GT

Hello tournament fans. The Goonhammer writing team (including me) have never been busier, but the stars have aligned once more and a tournament weekend is upon us, so as well as the followup to my Assassins article (this time covering how to play against them) that’ll be going up on Thursday or Friday, this week you get a tournament preview, followed by a report next week.

The tournament in question is the BIG Bristol GT, an 80-player ETC style event being TOed by our very own Talos enthusiast Corrode. BIG (Bristol Independent Gaming) was the scene of a triumphant 1st place finish for me at their last ETC style 2-dayer, so I’ve got a title to defend, and am fully intending to have a lot of fun while doing so.

As is standard, in this preview we’ll cover:

  • The tournament format and style
  • Details of my list
  • Any new strategies and the thinking behind the changes from last time

Let’s go!

Tournament Format

The BIG GT is an ETC style event (meaning combined Eternal War/Maelstrom missions) with a few tweaks to the missions as written in the book. These are:

  • Fixed/Curated objective placement, rather than entirely free placing. This is good – in my opinion you either have to do this or have a second roll off after placing objectives to make Maestrom fair, as otherwise you usually end up with one player being able to stack one more to their advantage.
  • Mixed deployment types. Rather than doing all missions with one deployment style, rounds 1,3 and 5 are CA2017 while 2 and 4 are 2018. Given that Corrode added this to his pack way before the ITC did, I feel it should only enhance Goonhammer’s reputation of being populated with visionary geniuses.
  • No Priority Orders Received card. Good.
  • Refined Strategy in play, but no discarding un-achievable cards.
  • Only who your warlord is and your free relic need to be pre-picked, all other pre-game choices (like psychic powers, warlord traits etc.) can be varied game to game.

The mission selection is also good, with none of my anti-faves (looking at you Deadlock) and plenty of the ones I really like. Overall, I think it’s a good chance to show off what Maelstrom can do tournament wise.

…but you lot better behave yourselves.

There are no unusual restrictions on lists – everything is permitted, Indexes, Forge World, the lot, so people are going to be bringing their shiniest toys (though the list doc is up, and mercifully no one brought a Tau’nar). With that in mind, I’ve made another few tune ups to my list and ended up with the following.

The List

Army list - Click to Expand


+ ARMY FACTIONS USED: Aeldari, Black Heart, Alaitoc
== Battalion Detachment == Black Heart [591pts] +5CP
HQ: Archon (70), Venom Blade (2) [72pts]
WARLORD - Labyrinthine Cunning
HQ: Archon (70), Huskblade (6) [76pts]
FREE RELIC - Parasite’s Kiss

Troops: 5 Kabalite Warriors (30), Sybarite (0), Shredder (8) - [38pts]
Troops: 5 Kabalite Warriors (30), Sybarite (0), Shredder (8) - [38pts]
Troops: 5 Kabalite Warriors (30), Sybarite (0), Shredder (8) - [38pts]

FA: 5 Scourges (60), Solarite (0), 4 Haywire Blasters (32) - [92pts]
FA: 5 Scourges (60), Solarite (0), 4 Haywire Blasters (32) - [92pts]

DT: Venom (55pts), Splinter Cannon (10), Twin Splinter Rifle (0) - [65pts]
DT: Raider (65pts), Disintegrator Cannon (15) - [80pts]

== Battalion Detachment == Alaitoc [877pts] +5CP
HQ: Warlock Skyrunner (65), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2), Witchblade (0) [67pts]
POWERS: Jinx/Protect
HQ: Farseer (110), Witchblade (0) [110pts]
POWERS: Doom, Exectioner

Troop: 5 Dire Avengers (40), Exarch (0), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (15), Exarch Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (3) - [3pl] [58pts]
Troop: 5 Dire Avengers (40), Exarch (0), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (15), Exarch Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (3) - [3pl] [58pts]
Troop: 10 Guardian Defenders (80), Guardian Heavy Weapon platform (5), Scatter Laser (7) [92pts]

DT: Wave Serpent (120), Twin Scatter Laser (12), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) - [134pts]
DT: Wave Serpent (120), Twin Scatter Laser (12), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) - [134pts]

HS: Night Spinner (110), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) - [112pts]
HS: Night Spinner (110), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) - [112pts]

== Air Wing Detachment == Alaitoc [532pts] +1CP
Flyer: Hemlock Wraithfighter (200), Spirit Stones (10) - [210pts]
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), 2 Starcannons (26) - [161pts]
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), 2 Starcannons (26) - [161pts]

Hello old friends

Obviously this is not going to be wildly surprising to any readers, but there are a few tweaks based on what I found lacking when diving back into the ETC format at Battlefield Birmingham after my more ITC focused few months.

Pre-game wise, the vast majority of the time I’ll be taking:

  • Warlord Trait: Labyrinthine Cunning.
  • Farseer: Doom, Guide/Executioner (the only thing that commonly changes based on matchup), buy’s Faolchu’s wing.
  • Warlock: Protect/Jinx
  • Hemlock: Jinx

I will also use Screaming Jets to deploy both Drukari transports in deep strike in most games, with all 3 Kabalite units inside. The only exception to this might be against something like Daemons (my nemesis from Blood and Glory is here with all of his Plaguebearer friends) where there’s no ranged threat to them and I want to start wracking up infantry kills early and need to potentially use the Kabalites to screen.

Tactics and Thoughts

Drukari Changes

Deploying my Venom via Cloudstrike with a little squad of Shredder Kabalites has worked really, really well. It’s given me a way to get something out onto the board, harass backline units and grab a back-line objective in a surprisingly durable way (thanks to bailing out ObSec models when it dies). My policy, when something is working, is always to look at whether I can try “that, but more” and it turns out that with a few other re-configurations, I could squeeze in the points to do the above. The Venom could put a decent bit of hurt on a backline unit, but it was notable that a big proportion of the damage came from the Shredder, so if that whiffed things could go badly. With two Shredders and a Disintegrator the Raider offers a rather firmer punch I can throw, and having both that and the Venom gives me a neat bundle of configurable solutions – I can put both down in one place if I need some serious firepower, or can split them up and give my opponent a war to fight on lots of fronts if they’ve left multiple weaker units in peril.

Having the Raider in the list seriously motivates it to actually have the “Black Heart” trait, and given that the Wracks performed very badly at BB, and the mixed character team felt like more of a “nice to have” than actually really good (as it was in ITC), swapping to a second Archon to fill out that Battalion made a lot of sense. I’ve whacked the “Parasite’s Kiss” on the non-warlord one to help pick up a bit of the “roving hunter” role that the Succubus used to have. The Kiss is extremely nasty against a lot of good targets, and I find tends to help in more matchups than the Blade does (also avoids having to commit him to combat!). It also gives the fringe option of sticking him in the Raider in place of one of the Kabalite squads if there’s some compelling reason to do that.

Substantially more painted than last time you saw him.

I’ve managed one practice game with the changed up version of the list and the Raider swap definitely performed. It also means I’ve got nothing squishy deploying on the board, giving me a real chance of denying my opponent First Strike in a lot of games.

Scatter Lasers Everywhere

This isn’t especially deep or meaningful, I just needed to find 23 points to make the above swaps work, and it turns out swapping the two Wave Serpent top guns and the Guardian platform to Scatter Lasers, along with cutting the CTMs on the Night Spinners did that exactly, and while it does marginally diminish them, it doesn’t stop them from doing their job, and will have occasional fringe advantages if I find myself in a game I need to play a bit more cautiously thanks to the extra range.

The CTMs are a bit more of a loss – everyone’s used to Fire Prisms where they never move >8″ thanks to Pulsed Laser Discharge, so being able to throw a Night Spinner 16″ and still shoot at full effect in some cases can really catch people out. However, in the cases where that’s what I want to do I can afford to lump the -1 to hit, and I certainly wasn’t always managing to use the Matrix if I had to move them at BB. Once again, it’s a loss I’m willing to accept to soup up some other things.

One Concern

The only mild concern I have is that losing the Haemoculus, along with not including the Autarch, means that I have no overwatch suppressing option. I might find myself regretting this if I come up against one of the two Tau lists with Broadsides, but I think it’s manageable in most other things – I don’t have any real melee “threats”, and almost nothing kills a Wave Serpent on overwarch if I just need to tie something up. We don’t talk about the one time I charged a Knight Valiant and got Harpooned.

It was mathematically in my favour, OK?

They’ll certainly talk about it if it happens again

Wrap Up

As I said at the start, my list hasn’t changed too much so I don’t think there’s too many other things to cover. I’m very comfortable playing this after so much practice which counts for a lot, and unless things go horribly wrong, this version would normally be locked in for the forseeable future. With that being said the Big FAQ detector we installed in the Goonhammer offices at exorbitant expense is making occasional suspicious bleeping sounds, so there’s a chance that for the Glasshammer GT at the end of the month I could be packing something completely different – we’ll just have to see!

For any Goonhammer readers joining me at the BIG GT do say hi (I think I’m the only person who will have both a Goonhammer t-shirt on and Eldar planes), and for everyone else stay tuned over the next few weeks as we bring you more exciting strategic content.