Tournament Report – BIG Bristol GT 2019 – Part 1


Another weekend and another GT under the belt. The BIG GT was an absolute blast to play in, and it was great to both see lots of the Goonhammer community come out to play, and also to chat with a few readers of the blog.

We previewed the event and my list for it last week, so today we’ll jump straight into covering my games. As ever, we’ll cover:

  • The Competition – Details of my opponent’s army
  • The Mission – Details of mission and deployment
  • The Plan – how I aimed to play out the game and target priorities.
  • The Summary – how the game played out at a high level
  • The Takeaways – points of interest and things I learnt from the game
  • The Score – my score after the game.

Did the changes I made to the list help out? Let’s jump on in and see!

Round 1 – Guard/Custodes

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

ARMY FACTIONS USED: Astra Militarum, Adeptus Custodes
== Supreme Command Detachment == AdeptusCustodes[33 PL] [615 Points] 1 CP
HQ: Shield-Captain on DawneagleJetbike(150) Interceptor Lance (0) Salvo Launcher (15) Misericordia (4)
Warlord, Superior Creation, Auric Aquilas(169) (9PL)
HQ: Shield-Captain on DawneagleJetbike (150) Interceptor Lance (0) Hurricane Bolter (10) Misericordia
(4)(164) (9PL)
HQ: Shield-Captain on DawneagleJetbike (150) Interceptor Lance (0) Hurricane Bolter (10) Misericordia
(4) (164) (9PL)
EL: Vexillus Praetor (80) Castellan Axe (14) Misericordia (4) VexillaDefensor(20) (118) (6PL)
== Battalion Detachment == Astra Militarum[27 PL] [500 Points] 5 CP –Catachan
HQ: Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken(75) (4PL)
HQ: Company Commander (30) Boltgun (1) Power Fist (8) (39) (2PL)
TR: Sergeant (4) 7 Guardsman (28) Guardsman with Flamer (10) Guardsman with Voxcaster (9) (51) (3PL)
TR: Sergeant (4) 7 Guardsman (28) Guardsman with Flamer (10) Guardsman with Voxcaster (9) (51) (3PL)
TR: Sergeant (4) 7 Guardsman (28) Guardsman with Flamer (10) Guardsman with Voxcaster (9) (51) (3PL)
TR: Tempestor (9) Plasma Pistol (5) Power Fist (8) 2 Tempestus Scions (18) Scion with Melta (23) Scion
with Plasma Gun (20) (83) (3PL)
EL:BullgrynBone’ed(35) Bullgryn Maul (7) Slabshield (0) Bullgryn (35) Bullgryn Maul (7) Slabshield (0)
Bullgryn (35) Bullgryn Maul (7) Slabshield (0)
EL: Commissar (15) Plasma Pistol (5) Power Sword (4) (24) (2 PL)

== Spearhead Detachment == Astra Militarum (48 PL)(883 Points) 1CP
HQ: Knight Commander Pask(177) Command Battle Tank (22) Lascannon (20) 2 Plasma Cannons (20)
(239) (13 PL)
HQ: PrimarisPsyker(38) Force Stave (8) (46) (2PL)
EL: Astropath(26) Telepathica Stave (6) (32) (1 PL)
EL: Tech-Priest Enginseer(30) (2PL)
HV: Leman Russ Battle Tank (122) Battle Cannon (22) Lascannon (20) 2Heavy Bolters (16) (180) (10 PL)
HV: Leman Russ Battle Tank (122) Demolisher Cannon (20) Lascannon (20) 2 Heavy Bolters (16) (178) (10
HV: Leman Russ Battle Tank (122) Punisher Gatling Cannon (20) Lascannon (20) 2 Heavy Bolters (16)
(178) (10 PL)

Nothing wildly surprising here. Custodes Jetbikes are definitely one of the better things that a guard list can include to shore up the matchup against lists like mine, but pretty much everything else in the list is quite weak to what I’m bringing – especially now I no longer have to deploy any targetable infantry at the start of the game (which both the Bike bolters and the Punisher Russ would make a mess of.

The Mission

A nice simple warmup – Retrieval Mission (3VP end-of-game for objectives 1-4) and Kill Confirmed (3 cards a turn, Kill Points, can’t discard cards about killing things unless they’re unachievable).

Dawn of War deployment.

The Plan

The only real way this should go badly for me is if I let the Custodes overperform – the three of them hunting as a pack can take my planes out of the sky and just blow infantry away with their bolters. If he looks like trying to do that, I need to just fly my planes back and forth around the flanks, gradually picking away at his army until they have no choice but to engage, and keeping the rest of his stuff bundled up so that I can pull ahead on Maelstrom by grabbing objectives. Dawn of War deployment helps hugely with this, as it means that either he has to string out or I get a lot of space to play with.

Given that I comfortably win a war of shooting attrition against this list, the above plan should get me through fairly safely unless something wild happens. The Bikes are by far the priority target, and any opportunity to take them out is to be seized with maximum prejudice.

The Summary

“Here we see the vicious plane, travelling in a hunting pack…”

My opponent deployed wide and took the first turn. The non-warlord bikes came forward and his army opened fire on mine, but through prepared positions and Alaitoc did very little to me, missing out on “First Strike”. With two of the bikes out and vulnerable I positioned my forces to take them out, aiming to mostly blat one via psychic and Doom, while Jinxing the other and wasting it with the Crimson Hunters thanks to their built in re-rolls. My psychic rolls were extremely underwhelming, which meant that pretty much all of my shooting had to go into the bikes rather than only some of it, but I still managed to drop both, putting me in an excellent position.

Really only a very heroic turn of shooting by the guard could salvage it, and while Prepared Positions was no longer in place, damage was still relatively minimal on his second turn.

At that point, the game was unfortunately effectively over – my deep strikers came in and I started making a horrible mess of his stuff, with the Scourges blowing away a Doomed Russ, an infantry squad going down to each of the guardians and the Venom squad (the latter with a bit of help), the Bullgryns getting wasted, the third Shield Captain dying to the planes and the Gatling Russ getting rammed by a Wave Serpent.

“…the alpha plane, identifiable by its distinctive plumage, ranges ahead of the rest…”

His characters made a reasonably heroic showing as the noose closed in, with the Vexilus Praetor chopping up a modest number of Guardians, tanking some outrageous punishment and even decapitating my roving Archon before finally falling, while Straken and the psykers at the back managed to take out the venom in the squad, but his final commissar died on his turn 5 to overwatch from the Scourges as he tried to take a few filthy Xenos with him.

…a  brave hero of the Imperium makes a defiant last stand…”

The Takeaways

Not a huge amount of new things learnt here – we know my army tends to take guard tanks to pieces, and without other mobile elements to support them there’s only much the Custodes can to to improve that.

Vanilla Russes probably need a buff, honestly – they are so bad in matchups like this that it’s really difficult to justify them over other choices – three Helverins would have been vastly scarier to my army at a slightly cheaper price.

The Score

VP: 50-8

Match Score: 1-0

Round 2 – Space Wolves

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

+ ARMY FACTION: Space Wolves
=Battalion Detachment== Space Wolves [62pl] [1147pts] 5CP
HQ: Wolf Lord With Jump Pack [6pl, 124pts] Wolf Lord Jump Pack (93) Thunder Hammer (21), Storm
Shield (10)
HQ: Wolf Lord With Jump Pack [6pl, 124pts] Wolf Lord Jump Pack (93) Thunder Hammer (21), Storm
Shield (10)
TROOP:Intercessors [5pl, 85pts] Intercessors x 5 (85), Auxiliary Grenade Launcher (0), Bolt Rifle x 5 (0),
Bolt pistol x 5 (0), Chainsword (0)
TROOP: Grey Hunters [4pl, 65pts] Grey Hunter x 5 (65), Chainsword x 5 (0), boltgun x 5 (0)
TROOP: Grey Hunters [4pl, 65pts] Grey Hunter x 5 (65), Chainsword x 5 (0), boltgun x 5 (0)
ELITE: Wulfen [22pl, 411pts] wulfen x 9 (252), Frost claws (15), Thunder hammer x 8 (128), Storm Shield
x 8 (16)
HEAVY: Long Fangs [11pl, 188pts] Long Fang x 5 (70) Wolf Guard Terminator Pack Leader (26), Cyclone
Missile Launcher (38), Storm Bolter (2), Storm Shield (2), Missile Launcher x 2 (40), Heavy Bolter (10),
Bolt gun x 2 (0), Chainsword (0)
HEAVY: Rapier Carrier [4pl, 85pts] Rapier Carrier (20) Marine Gunners (20) Quad Launcher (45)
=Battalion Detachment== Space Wolves [44pl] [768pts] 5CP
HQ: Rune Priest on Bike [8pl, 135pts] Rune Priest on Bike (109) Runic Sword (10), Storm Bolter (2), Twin
boltgun (2), Psychic hood (5), Runic Armour (7)
HQ: Wolf Lord on Bike [7pl, 121pts] Wolf Lord on Bike (88) Thunder Hammer (21), Storm Shield (10),
Twin Boltgun (2)
HQ: Rune Priest in Phobos Armour [6pl, 111pts] Rune Priest in Phobos Armour (100) Force Sword (8)
Cammo Cloak (3)
TROOP:Intercessors [5pl, 85pts] Intercessors x 5 (85), Auxiliary Grenade Launcher (0), Bolt Rifle x 5 (0),
Bolt pistol x 5 (0), Chainsword (0)
TROOP: Infiltrator Squad [5pl, 110pts] infiltrators x 5 (110) Marksman Bolt carbine x 5 (0) Bolt Pistol (0)
TROOP: Blood Claws [9pl, 134pts] Blood Claws x 8 (104) Wolf Guard Pack Leader (16) Wolf Claws Pair
(14) Chainsword x 8 (0) Bolt pistol x 8 (0)
DEDICATED TRANSPORT: Rhino [4pl, 72pts] Rhino (70) Stormbolter (2)

The Mission

Supplies From Above (objectives 1-4 can move and score a point at the start of your turn, fliers are super-obsec) and Decapitation Strike (Draw 3 cards a turn up to a max of 6, discard one at random if you lose a character or D3 for your warlord).

Vanguard Strike Deployment.

I’m not a massive fan of this mission because it can be quite luck based – who wins the roll-off to move each objective can heavily swing the score. It does favour my army a bit though, so that’s nice.

This mission was also using Chapter Approved 2018 deployment, meaning that one player would deploy completely first, but then automatically get the first turn if they didn’t seize. I “won” the roll off to choose deployment zones, so he deployed first and would likely get the first turn.

The Plan

This should be pretty OK. He’s got some neat stuff – the Wolf Lords are dangerous to my planes, but not as dangerous as their Blood Angels equivalents, and the Long Fangs not having maxed out their guns helps a bit. He should bring in a Vindicare as his assassin in my opinion, but a Culexus is also a possibility (which would be great, as I’ll largely just ignore it).

Obviously the Wulfen need to be contained, and later murdered. Bad Wulfen.

I mean, it’s basically Space Marines. How bad can it be?



The Summary

“Next on our nature documentary – can planes hunt wolves?”

They don’t look so tough right?

I didn’t seize, so he went first. As can be seen above he did, in fact, choose a Vindicare, but I was able to deploy so he only really had a shot on my warlord, who it was very unlikely to kill. He used his warlord trait to reposition his Long Fangs to make sure he had a line on lots of my stuff.

His first turn was largely uneventful in terms of killing – I Vected the “ignore modifiers” stratagem on the Long Fangs, who had to settle for doing a small amount of damage to my Raider (which I’d put on the board because I wanted the Shredders to hand). The Vindicare also managed to fail to wound, even after a re-roll. He did get a good start on the cards though, picking up a few points.

My turn was almost perfect. The Long Fangs had been screening the Vindicare, meaning my Hemlock could fly over and murder it, which it duly did, while the rest of my army moved into blocking positions and killed stuff elsewhere, with the most notable thing being the Long Fangs biting the dust.

Unfortunately, I said this turn was almost perfect, because I made one mistake from which a number of bad things would cascade. I’d never played against a full Space Wolf list before, and had managed to leave my Wave Serpent (doing an important job of acting as a Wulfen Speed bump) a hair’s breadth within 6″ of a Wolf Lord. He duly used the 6″ Heroic that they have to come in and smash it with his hammer. This left a gaping hole for the Wulfen to stream through next turn, and to add insult to injury, got him the First Strike he’d missed on his turn 1.

Wulfen stream through a gaping hole where an incautious Wave Serpent used to be.

His second turn was extremely bad for me. He popped the ignore modifiers strat on his Quad Gun and put 6 wounds into the Hemlock, allowing one of the Wolf Lords to smash it up, while the other smashed a Crimson Hunter. The Wulfen made it to the Dire Avengers (who’d been patiently waiting to be next turn’s speedbump…

…with predictable consequences.
Used with permission from official event photos

At least the other flank went a bit better, as most of his alpha units were elsewhere. He murdered some guardians and his characters managed to kill the Raider, but with only a few models he hadn’t been able to completely wrap it, and the Kabalites could get out.

In my turn I had to start running distraction – the Venom came in in the far corner near-ish to where the Hemlock had been to force him to keep stuff there or lose an objective, while the Scourges dropped in near the Quad Gun, as it was the only thing they could kill that I cared about, and would again let them threaten to get me some points off an objective thanks to their super obsec. Meanwhile I got to clearing out the stuff on the top left, which went OK but not fantastic, with a good string of saves keeping most of his characters in the game.

He kept the pressure on the next turn, with his blood claws coming out of the Rhino to come after my Night Spinner. The big thing was whether he could make the 10″ charge for the Wulfen to join them. Unfortunately he did, and the tank got helldunked. At least his remaining stuff on the other flank didn’t do much, and the Venom and Scourges did their job of being distractions (neither getting completely wiped out either, meaning they kept their corners “live”).

With the Wulfen up close I could no longer follow the plan I’d hoped for (pull everything back for the turn, wipe the blood claws, then wipe the Wulfen the next turn with a bit of breathing room) and had to just gamble on a much more aggressive option. A few things on the top flank mopped up the characters there, while everything else moved to unleash every kind of murder on the Wulfen. Setting this up meant putting my Farseer into harms way, and if it didn’t work i would almost certainly lose, but I judged that I would lose anyway if they got to rampage for another turn – and once they were dead, I could use a Night Spinner to effectively lock the Blood Claws down indefinitely.

Luckily, a hail of psychic nastiness (Jinx, Doom and Executioner) combined with the firepower of my army left just a single Wulfen alive on 1 wound. My warlord duly put him down with a Venom blade, while the Blood Claws got locked up as planned, thought they did manage to off my Warlord in revenge, as they’d ended up close enough to pile in (I had forgotten that my opponent had a model on top of an awkward piece of terrain to represent it being underneath it, and had thus not measured it right). The Scourges also continued to be vaguely pesty and contest an objective, scoring me some points.

Combined with the distractions, this turn was enough to even things out. His turn 4 was uneventful other than flicking in a bit of inconsequential damage, as all I really let him do was put basic melee attacks into tank hulls. I duly dunked the blood claws in response, and when his Wolf Lord finally turned up the next turn, he whiffed and left the last Night Spinner alive.

That actually put me into my final turn (time was approaching so we’d agreed to end it after five) – I was only 1 point behind and holding “Hold the Line”, so if I could clear out his stuff from my deployment zone (very doable) I would get that, I could score Linebreaker, and so needed to get 2 more points from my 3 new cards to get the three points clear for a win. I managed to clear out my zone, but my new cards were a brace of defends and a secure for an objective he held comfortably, so the game ended in a draw, which honestly definitely felt like the “fair” result from a tightly fought game.

The Takeaways

Did you know Space Wolves have a 6″ Heroic Intervention? I do now!

While it’s mildly annoying that a single mistake led to such a cascade of failures, but equally I’m very happy with how I played to salvage the game from there, and will definitely be chalking this up as a learning experience. It also teaches a valuable lesson – if it costs you nothing, be a bit extra careful, even if you don’t think there’s any way they can get you. I was allured by the prospect of shooting stuff with my Dire Avengers, but I could have left one of the two units in the Transport even if I’d been expecting it to get smashed. Because of the way I’d set it up end-to-end with the Crimson Hunter, he would never have been able to wrap it, and doing that would have ensured that in some bizarre edge case where he managed to kill it from full in shooting the crash survivors can then bail out of the back and form a wall against any Wulfen trying a long bomb charge past where it was or something. The units on this flank were purely there as speedbumps, so I should have considered how to maximise that.

Other than that I think I played pretty well – my target priority was good, I made the right call about when I needed to go “all in” and squeezed the maximum possible efficiency out of my distraction units, all of which combined to pull this back to a draw from something that looked truly dire at the end of his second turn.

The Score

VP: 17-16

Match Score: 1-1-0

Round 3 – Knights/AdMech

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

+ ARMY FACTION: Imperial knights
+ POWER LEVELS: 111pls
+ ARMY FACTIONS USED: imperial knights, adeptusmechanicus
== super heavy detachment == imperial knights [78 PL] [1494 Points] 6 CP - questor mechanicus, house
LOW - Knight castallen (510), 2x twin siege breaker cannons and 2 shield breaker missles (94), 2x twin
meltaguns (0), 1x cawl wrath (relic), 1x volcano lance (0), Warlord (Warlord trait - ion bulwark) [30pls]
LOW - Knight crusader (285), 1x avenger gatling cannon with heavy flamer (89), 1x thermal cannon
(76),1x iron storm missle pod (16), 1x heavy Stubber (2) - [25pls] [468]
LOW - Knight warden (285), 1x avenger gatling cannon with heavy flamer (89), 1x reaper chainsword
(30),1x iron storm missle pod (16), 1x heavy Stubber (2) - [23pls] [422]
== Battalion Detachment == adeptusmechanicus [33PL] [505Points] 5 CP - stygies 7
HQ - tech priest enginseer [3pls] [30]
HQ - tech priest enginseer [3pls] [30]
Troops - 5x skitarii rangers [4pls] [35]
Troops - 5x skitarii rangers [4pls] [35]
Troops - 5x skitarii rangers [4pls] [35]
Fast attack - 5x sydonian dragoons [15pls] [340]

This is exceptionally nasty even compared to other Knight builds, but I think exactly why didn’t become obvious until we were into the game, so I’ll leave it for then.

She added Landstrider and Endless Fury to her Warden.

The Mission

Scorched Earth (1VP per objective each turn, or burn one you hold in your opponent’s zone for D3 once) and Targets of Opportunity (Draw 3 a turn, discard them at the start of your next turn).

Search and Destroy deployment.

The mission matters here because it means whoever goes first is going to pull massively ahead on VP, putting pressure on the other player to table them.

Search and Destroy is very bad news for me – it combines not forcing the enemy to split up with them starting very close. Joy.

The Plan

I mean, there’s an extent to which it is the same plan we always do – use “Lightning Fast” on whatever she points the Volcano Lance at and cross out fingers that she doesn’t high roll on that or the Thermal Cannon. Here there’s the additional complication of the Dragoons – they’re going to get right in my face and need to be dealt with, but at least they’ll go down pretty easy, especially if we can land out psychic. If we can go first we want to swing hard onto one flank as ever – there was a big piece of blocking terrain in the middle that would allow me to split things up a bit?

The Summary

We’re not that scared of knights right? -1 to hit is like the best defence against them…

I mean, look at how heroic all these elves look.

She went first, and while the Dragoons missed their charge (me having backlined considerably), both the Volcano Lance and Thermal Spear killed a whole vehicle each, and while I re-rolled the first one exploding, the second went up too and consumed my warlock (because this is apparently my other curse, along with Talos) and scattered 2-3MWs on my entire army.

I then missed my Doom cast by 1, at which point the game was over, though honestly it pretty much already was by that point because of how boxed in I was. Between Landstrider and the Raven trait, her knights moved up absurdly quickly (really only just behind the Dragoons), meaning that although I mostly took the admech stuff down (leaving 1 on a single wound) her Knights were close enough to then just blow apart all the planes I’d had to commit to killing them (needing to be within 12″ of the Dragoons), quickly sealing the deal. On my second turn my harrassment stuff came in and did an alright job, and my Scourges took off half the Castellan’s health to make me feel better, but this game ended quickly and violently.

It was still a surprisingly fun experience, in some ways a game going so far against you that fast takes a lot of the pressure off, and me and my opponent had a good laugh as I sequentially declared each remaining unit in my army the heroes that were going to save the day (before they got brutally killed). A very pleasant horrendous drubbing, all told.

Oh no.

The Takeaways

Good lord that army is nasty. On paper I hadn’t been totally sold on the Dragoons, but seeing it on the field made it clear how well it worked together. I do think the deployment map was ideal for her and I’d have been able to make more of a game of it on some of the others (especially Dawn of War), but I think it’s a uniquely potent build that takes full advantage of the power of the Raven trait (which it turns out is also real good).

I think were I playing this again the correct move would have been to completely flatten myself against the long board edge in deployment, and try and break out along the long board edge straight away from turn 1. I was arguably worrying too much about EW scoring, where realistically I was only going to win this game with a strong start leading to a tabling or near tabling. Because I had way more drops I could have had the luxury of deploying most of my stuff with quite a lot of information available, and being down at the bottom would have kept me as far away as possible from the Warden. I can potentially, at that point, sacrifice some chaff like the Dire Avengers to block the Dragoons for a turn and engage the Crusader turn 1 instead, potentially killing it and also allowing me to keep my planes out of short range of the other Knights.

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, and I think the sheer surprise factor of how quickly the Knights can close the net is a big part of the strength of that list.

The Score

VP: 8-45

Match Score: 1-1-1

Day One Wrap Up

Hmm. On the one hand, not the start I’d hoped for, but on the other I was having a great time anyway, and felt like I’d learnt a decent amount from both the draw and the lost. It did mean the pressure was on for day two though to try and improve on the disappointing 2-1-2 at Battlefield Birmingham. Tune in tomorrow to find out how that went!