Tournament Preview – Blood & Glory 2018

A philosophical question for you readers – is there such a thing as too much 40K?

Lol, no obviously not.

Welcome to another tournament preview, this time for Blood & Glory 2018. As usual, we will be covering:

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

Lets dive right in!

Tournament Format

Blood and Glory is a 1750pts matched play event using the UK classic of mixed Eternal War and Maelstrom missions. We’ve covered this before, so I won’t spend too much time on it, but there are a couple of unusual things to call out:

  1. The scoring is slightly odd.
    1. It’s using VP difference brackets to determine tournament points, which as I’ve mentioned before I like, but the brackets are a bit wider here – you have to beat your opponent by at least five points to not draw, but only nine to get max points. That potentially creates a lot more draws than usual, but at the same time people running good are likely to max out their points a lot, which means draws will potentially take you out of contention for high placing
    2. The event pack says “Completing the Main Mission will award 6 VP’s in addition to any Maelstrom Points scored during the game”. I’m not really sure what that means – it could be that EW scoring is capped at 6VPs? If so, I’d potentially expect a lot of draws in the two rounds where kill point missions are in play, as it’s very likely both players will max out at six in anything other than a turbostomping (or with full knight armies). I’m just going to have to ask about this on the day.
  2. They’re using one mission that doesn’t turn up in events very often in “Recon”, which is one of the ones where you split your army into 3 and start with only one on the board. I fear that in a format where Castellans are still popular, that’s going to be a bit of a wild ride – I think it’s extremely difficult to beat a Castellan army in that mission if they hit the 1/3 and the Castellan starts on the board, but conversely extremely terrible for them if it doesn’t show up till turn 2.

These are both relatively minor quibbles (though ask me again about recon after the event) and I’m looking forward to the missions – importantly they do make the sensible choices of:

  1. Removing first blood.
  2. Allowing you to cycle un-achievable cards.

There’s also quite a few points for painting which I’m not going to get all of (though I actually like their painting rubric a lot, it’s well designed to encourage people to push a little bit of extra effort and I’m going to get some points for things like having a converted character model) and points for sportsmanship. I’ll have you know I’m now certified as a lovely guy to play against by the Caledonian Deathwatch podcast, so who knows, maybe I’ll get some of those.

In terms of competition I expected it to be less outrageously murderous than Glasshammer was – B&G is an actual bona-fide convention in a fun city so I think there’s less of a barrier that you have to really like ultra-competitive 40K to come along, and they also run the biggest AoS event in the country, so anyone hyper competitive who plays that too is likely to want to slam that. All that being said, several people I chatted to at Glasshammer were going to this as well, and scrolling down the event list I can definitely see names I’m starting to recognise as “the usual suspects” (including the winner of Glasshammer).

With all that in mind, time to lock and load the latest iteration of my army list and see what we’ve got.

The List

As I covered in my Glasshammer wrap-up, having done a bit of thinking I’ve come up with an exceptionally nasty 1750 list built around a tricksy core including a mixed Drukari battalion. Unfortunately, I was never going to have the time to paint the new units required (Lelith, 10 kabalites, 10 guardians and a plane) in two weeks, so I’ve had to put together something that tries to capture the learning points from Glasshammer within the tools I already have available. This is what I’ve come up with:

ARMY FACTIONS: Aeldari, Craftworld Mara-Nai (Alaitoc trait), Kabal of the Black Heart

Battalion Detachment, Craftworld Mara-Nai (Alaitoc trait) [403pts] +5CP

HQ1: Warlock Skyrunner (65pts), Twin Shuriken Catapults (5pts), Singing Spear (5pts), WARLORD Seer of the Shifting Vector, POWERS Protect/Jinx - [75pts]
HQ2: Spiritseer (65pts) POWERS Quicken/Restrain - [65pts]

Troop1: 5 Dire Avengers (40pts), Exarch (0pts), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (20pts) - [60pts]
Troop2: 5 Rangers (60pts) - [60pts]
Troop3: 16 Guardian Defenders (128pts), Guardian Heavy Weapon platform (5pts), Shuriken Cannon (10pts) - [143pts]

Battalion Detachment, Craftworld Mara-Nai (Alaitoc trait) [1119pts] +5CP

HQ1: Autarch Skyrunner (95pts), Laser Lance (8pts), Twin Shuriken Catapult (5pts) [108pts]
HQ2: Farseer (110pts), Witchblade (0pts), POWERS Executioner, Doom, RELIC Faolchu’s Wing  [110pts]

Troop1: 5 Dire Avengers (40pts), Exarch (0pts), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (20pts), Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (Exarch) (4pts) - [64pts]
Troop2: 5 Dire Avengers (40pts), Exarch (0pts), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (20pts), Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (Exarch) (4pts) - [64pts]
Troop3: 5 Dire Avengers (40pts), Exarch (0pts), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (20pts), Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (Exarch) (4pts) - [64pts]

Flyer1: Hemlock Wraithfighter (200pts), Spirit Stones (10pts), POWER - Jinx  - [210pts]
Flyer2: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135pts), 2 Bright Lances (40pts) - [175pts]

DT1: Wave Serpent (107pts), Twin Bright Lance (40pts), Shuriken Cannon (10pts), Crystal Targeting Matrix (5pts) - [162pts]
DT2: Wave Serpent (107pts), Twin Bright Lance (40pts), Shuriken Cannon (10pts), Crystal Targeting Matrix (5pts) - [162pts]

Patrol Detachment, Kabal of the Black Heart [228pts] +0CP

HQ1: Archon (72pts), Huskblade (4pts) - [76pts]

Troop1: 8 Kabalite Warriors (48pts), Sybarite (0pts), Phantasm Grenade Launcher (3pts), Blaster (17pts) - [68pts] 

DT1: Raider (65pts), Disintegrator Cannon (15pts), Phantasm Grenade Launcher (3pts), Shock Prow (1pt) - [84pts]

If you’ve been following my previous exploits this isn’t going to look wildly unfamiliar, and a lot of the tricks are quite similar to what I’ve had access to previously. With that in mind, I’m going to spend the tactics section largely talking about what’s in and out and why.

The Tactics

Fire Prisms – Out

My experience of Glasshammer indicates to me that at this point if you’re running Fire Prisms you need to be running the full three or none at all. They were the softest on-board target for most armies at the event, and in particular I felt they were weak in the two game I lost (against Harlequin/Drukari and a Castellan). Against the Castellan, if it goes first it will very likely blow one up, and if you’re only running two that leaves the second very weak without strategem access. Against Skyweavers out of Harlies (and also thinking back to Battlefield Birmingham, against Ynnari spears) having an element of the army that needs to stay relatively static was a huge liability.

I’ll likely pick up a third at some point, but they’re lower down my list than another…

Crimson Hunter Exarch – In

I’m sorry I ever doubted you beautiful red boi, please forgive me.

For my money, Crimson Hunter Exarchs are superior to Fire Prisms in the meta at the moment, and will remain so unless they catch a point hike in CA (which isn’t impossible, they’re extremely efficiently pointed). They are harder for a Castellan to put down thanks to the additional -1 to hit (which alongside invulns is the only defence that really matters), and have a number of advantages against other Aeldari armies:

  • They can spread your threats around the board – you can shoot a Crimson hunter out to the far side of the field and still target things, and if mean bullshit bikes want to kill it they then have to divert from your other stuff.
  • They match up very well against Eldar targets – flat three damage from the main gun is great against the hated Skyweavers, and S8 re-rolling wounds against fliers is the perfect profile for hunting all Eldar vehicles and Talosi (we’re going with Talosi).

If you run them in multiples, they also don’t get any worse if you lose one, which is a nice bonus, and I’ve got a second on order that I’ll have painted in time for the Allies of Convenience Open in December.

Please don’t nerf them in CA GW.

Scourges – Out

This breaks my heart a bit, but for this event at least they’re going on the bench. My experience from Glasshammer was that having too much of my anti-vehicle in reserve was a huge liability in some matchups, and in the smaller 1750 format I expect that to be even more true. The Deep Strike changes in the Big FAQ have actually hurt them a lot too – their 24″ range meant that against, for example, a heavy knight list that wanted to come towards you, you would quite likely be able to drop them in your own deployment zone turn 1 if you went second. Now that they can never do that on turn 1 leaning on them is a big risk. If I was sure that there would be good terrain at the event with lots of LOS blockers I might still include them, as deploying them on board but hidden is still good, but not knowing what the quality will be I don’t want to rely on that.

Bright Lances – In

Without the Scourges and the Fire Prisms my anti-tank starts to look a bit light, and while “Doom + Adequate Shurikens” is always in your back pocket as an Eldar player, I wanted to get a bit more AT punch into the list (and wanting to be able to project anti-tank threat at a distance was on the learning list from Glasshammer), so have swapped the Wave Serpents to Bright Lances. I’ve used Lance Serpents to some success in smaller games before – having them able to pull double duty as a main battle tank is a nice way to sneak some of this extra capability in. I’ve obviously also added the Crystal Targeting Matrices to improve their accuracy on the move, helping the entire army to be mobile.

Kabalites and Raider – In

I definitely still want the Black Heart detachment – Vect is definitely a “sometimes treat” now, but in some games (e.g. glasshammer game 1) using it at the right time is still absolutely critical to winning. In theory it’s still good defensively against “Order of Companions” or “Trail of Destruction” but I’m a bit down on that after Glasshammer where in all cases my opponent still just high-rolled and did what they needed anyway. I’m likely to think a lot harder about holding it in reserve this time.

Obviously with the Scourges gone my Archon needs some friends, and the (historically very successful) Kabalite + Raider combo is back to provide them. I was a bit sceptical about including these after the FAQ – in theory this weakens how strong my army is in “prepared positions” but having now played some games with that I’m less concerned it’s a huge issue. In some matchups (i.e. where an opponent is heavily leaning on a Castellan for anti-tank) the raider is not actually meaningfully squishier – in fact a 5++ makes shooting it more dicey for the Castellan. In other matchups it would be a problem – guard or tau will take it apart, but in that case I can just put the Kabalites in it and deploy via screaming jets. In some “medium” cases, it’ll still take enough firepower to put down that luring that firepower onto it (a relatively expendable unit) is better than it going into something more valuable.

I do want to deploy it on board where possible – in particular, the plan this time is for the Archon to mount up and go out hunting with the squad in matchups where I don’t want him hidden in the back for contingency purposes, as much like with the Scourges I don’t want to waste points on a unit who often isn’t doing much in the lower point format.

This does raise the risk of losing all my units that allow me to do Vect, but honestly it remains true that you overwhelmingly want to use Vect to either try and stick a kill on something if you go first by nullifying a defensive strategem or to counteract some sort of double move or super shooting nonsense if you go second. In the limited matchups where this isn’t true (i.e. against cultist spam you likely want it in your back pocket for tide of traitors) the option of putting the Archon in the back lines is still there.

Psychic Powers – Mortal Wounds for Everyone

Not a huge amount to see here but worth calling out – Conceal/Reveal and Guide for the guardian blob were just a bit too cute, and what I overwhelmingly found is that what I wanted out of my psykers was a barrage of Mortal Wounds. With that in mind, Guide has swapped for Executioner, allowing my Farseer to potentially throw effectively two smites a turn against big targets (getting to Doom as well via “Unparalleled Mastery”) and to occasionally randomly ruin the day of something like a squad of Crusaders. Given that I overwhelmingly found my Spiritseer just throwing Smite, I’ve given him Quicken/Restrain as the power with the highest chance of being the exact right answer for some random hypothetical situation I find myself in (if you’re feeling lucky or desperate zipping a Farseer forward into range to throw a doom then quickening him back out of dodge is a hilarious way to gamble).

Bodies – Still Here

Having lots of bodies to contest the board with definitely worked at Glasshammer, so they’re still here. I prefer the configuration of models I worked out for my idealised 1750 list, as Dire Avengers are still just a bit too pricy for what they do, but they definitely did some good work, and I like using them, so I’m not super sad to have them in my army.

Recon Split

I figure I should at least have a plan of some kind for how I split my army into three for Recon. I’m working on the pessimistic assumption that you can’t use Cloudstrike/Webway Strike/etc. on any units outside your primary detachment (worth saying that if it turns out you can then I definitely Cloudstrike the Hemlock if it isn’t in my primary detachment, because otherwise it has a real risk of doing nothing till turn 3).

The principles I’m following here are:

  1. Warlock should be with Guardians, as if I have to deploy them I want to “Protect” them if I go first.
  2. I should split the Kabalites and Archon up – I want a higher chance of having Black Heart on the board turn 1, but not enough to take the Kabalites away from the raider.
  3. I should try and split resilient units up.

With that in mind, my planned split is:

Group 1

  • Warlock Skyrunner
  • Guardians
  • Kabalites
  • Raider
  • Rangers
  • Hemlock

Group 2

  • Wave Serpent
  • Dire Avengers
  • Dire Avengers
  • Archon
  • Autarch
  • Spiritseer

Group 3

  • Wave Serpent
  • Dire Avengers
  • Dire Avengers
  • Crimson Hunter
  • Farseer

For what it’s worth, I probably don’t declare my foot characters as setting up in transports on this one – because if they do they won’t be able to use psychic powers in the turn they come on. This does have the minor downside that if I do get one of the ones where they’re there I get one more drop, but I think the upside outweighs the downside here. I am wondering if the rangers should move to group 3, as that keeps all groups at four drops whereas currently the first is five, but equally having only three drops on the smaller group 3 is quite valuable. I’ll probably audible that based on opponent army size – if they’re going to end up 5/5/5 then it makes sense to ensure that I’m 4/4/4, if they’re going to be wildly higher or lower it doesn’t matter.

Wrap Up

Because B&G is a con there are also evening events so on Saturday I’m going to be playing Kill Team, but unfortunately I haven’t written my list up yet. Suffice it to say I’m taking some handsome large green sons along and hope to do OK, but am not taking it super seriously (especially as they’re sadly not allowing faction box strats, which heavily nerfs space marines). The focus is on 40k and seeing if this is where we break the curse of 3-2.

Wish my luck and check back in next week for the report.