Tournament Report – Blood and Glory 2019

An article by    Battle Reports Gaming Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

Wraithknight

In last week’s preview I promised you an exciting chronicle of the consequences of making extremely silly decisions regarding Wraithknights and here at Goonhammer we don’t let our readers down. I held my nerve and my largest robot son strode proudly onto the battlefields at an ITC major ready to die gloriously (or more likely, pointlessly) while I rage against the Marines.

If you normally skip the previews it’s probably worth having at least a quick look at my list via the link above, as it’s obviously somewhat different than normal!

Wraithknight

About to go on his biggest weekend out ever

I won’t pretend I wasn’t a bit apprehensive before round 1 – all jokes aside, a part of me was worried that I was just going to get dunked off the board every game and wouldn’t have any fun. Still, the die was cast, and I was determined to put up the best showing I could, maybe scrape at least a respectable 3-2.

As ever for my reports we’ll dive into all five of my games and look at:

  • 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.

Here goes nothing!

Round 1 – Tau

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (T'au Empire) [60 PL, 1,134pts] ++
T'au Sept
+ HQ [9 PL, 182pts] +
Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 182pts]: 
4x Fusion blaster [72pts] 
2x MV4 Shield Drone [20pts]

+ Elites [51 PL, 952pts] + Dahyak Grekh [2 PL, 20pts]
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 278pts]: 
2x Smart missile system [30pts], Advanced targeting system [18pts], Heavy burst cannon [35pts], Velocity tracker [10pts]
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 278pts]: 
2x Smart missile system [30pts], Advanced targeting system [18pts], Heavy burst cannon [35pts], Velocity tracker [10pts]

XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 278pts]: 
2x Smart missile system [30pts], Advanced targeting system [18pts], Heavy burst cannon [35pts], Velocity tracker [10pts]

XV9 Hazard Support Team [7 PL, 98pts]
2x MV4 Shield Drone [20pts]
XV9 Hazard Battlesuit [5 PL, 78pts]: Advanced targeting system [6pts], 2x Double-barelled burst cannon [32pts]

++ Supreme Command Detachment +1CP (T'au Empire) [18 PL, 350pts] ++ T'au Sept
+ HQ [18 PL, 350pts] +
Cadre Fireblade [3 PL, 62pts]: Markerlight [3pts]
2x MV4 Shield Drone [20pts]
Cadre Fireblade [2 PL, 42pts]: Markerlight [3pts]

Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [8 PL, 156pts]: Advanced targeting system [6pts], 3x Cyclic ion blaster [54pts]
Puretide engram neurochip
2x MV4 Shield Drone [20pts]

Darkstrider [3 PL, 45pts]

Ethereal [2 PL, 45pts]: Honour blade

++ Outrider Detachment +1CP (T'au Empire) [29 PL, 516pts] ++
T’au sept
+ HQ [11 PL, 218pts] +
Cadre Fireblade [3 PL, 62pts]: Markerlight [3pts] 
2x MV4 Shield Drone [20pts]
Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [8 PL, 156pts]: 1. Precision of the Hunter, Advanced targeting system [6pts], 3x Cyclic ion blaster [54pts], Warlord
2x MV4 Shield Drone [20pts]

+ Fast Attack [18 PL, 298pts] +
Pathfinder Team [6 PL, 88pts]: 
MV31 Pulse Accelerator Drone [8pts]
MV33 Grav-inhibitor Drone [8pts]
MB3 Recon Drone [12pts]
2x MV4 Shield Drone [20pts]
4x Pathfinder [32pts]: 4x Markerlight [12pts]
Pathfinder Shas'ui [8pts]: Markerlight [3pts]

Tactical Drones [4 PL, 70pts] . 7x MV4 Shield Drone [70pts]

Tactical Drones [4 PL, 70pts] . 7x MV4 Shield Drone [70pts]

Tactical Drones [4 PL, 70pts] . 7x MV4 Shield Drone [70pts]

++ Total: [107 PL, 2,000pts] ++

The Mission

ITC Mission one, Seize Ground (6 objectives, bonus for holding and contesting 5)

Vanguard Strike Deployment

Both basically good for me – I’m better able to control the board and want them in a corner if possible but also the space to deploy so they have to move to come get me if they go first.

The Plan

Welp, going to need to start rolling well for first turn nice and early I guess. Arguably this is a somewhat more benign Tau list to come up against than others. I’m a big fan of multiple commanders as they provide a really great tool for defending a castle that can turn mobile in the mid/late game, but with the Wraithknight it’s very helpful that I can just deploy out of range of this list. Sure they can still marker it up and ignore the move/shoot penalty, but Kauyon is out and without the Broadside bomb their targets for command and control node are less good.

We’re still in huge trouble if the Tau go first mind. Three Riptides should just about do the job against the Knight even without Kauyon (unless the markerlights completely whiff) which will leave me quite a bit behind. It’s not unwinnable from there but it will be real tough, especially as what we really want to do is have a turn to move up and dominate the centre board.

In terms of killing stuff, as ever with Tau we need to strip away the drones first. Combining Jinx with Crimson Hunter shooting lets you go through them real fast, and mortal wounds from Yvraine plus incidental scatter shots should help too. We ideally want to take the first turn, shields up the Knight and grab the centre, then in turn 2 slam him into the enemy line, having soaked up as much overwatch as possible with the Autarch. Once the drones are down any live plane is going to be a serious threat, and catching random characters unawares and butchering them is also on the table.

Ultimately, I know how this matchup basically goes, but this game would be an exciting new context on it.

My Secondaries

  • Marked for Death (Riptides, Coldstar)
  • Kingslayer (CIB commander)
  • Headhunter

Their Secondaries

  • Recon
  • Ground Control
  • Big Game Hunter

The Summary

Facing down the Tau gunline

Facing down the Tau gunline (far enough back to force a move/shoot if he goes first).

Blood and Glory Opp Deployment Round 1

Riptides always come in 3s

I got the first turn and used Phantasm to bring my Knight, Autarch and one Serpent forward from their very defensive positions. The Serpent had Yvraine in and the Riptides being out front let me slam some mortals into one (every little helps). The rest of the army formed a doom bubble, the Wraithknight went shields up and we started picking away drones, and pathfinders which went pretty well.

Mont’ka is declared and the Tau move to engage

My opponent declared Mont’ka and moved up very aggressively to contest the centre, while boosting to 3++ saves. They sensibly ignored the Wraithknight and focused on hurting planes, one of which duly died.

From there, however, I was able to wipe away enough drones that one of the Riptides was unprotected, while the one that had been being slammed with mortals was looking very unhealthy. The unprotected one went down to 5 wounds remaining with Doom and Jinx on it, so I went for the attack, the Autarch soaking up the overwatch from as much as possible and the Knight slamming into the wounded one. Unfortunately, my opponent saved all the wounds that went through, leaving me in an awkward spot, as that Riptide was positioned to swing round and go after Yvraine, who was duly murdered along with the Serpent that was screening her. The Autarch was also thoroughly dealt with. Worse, on my next turn I failed Fortune, which left me unable to really charge with the Knight, as I had no CP left for the 4++. While I was able to take down one riptide, things looked real bad – the whiff on the attack against the Riptide that could flank was going to cost me the game.

Luckily I got a reprieve. My opponent, now the Wraithknight was shields down, went all in on killing it, which they managed – but it exploded in the middle of pretty much 100% of their remaining forces, killing a minor character and finishing off a wounded commander too. It also left the second and third Riptides vulnerable, one quickly crumbling to mortals to unwrap some more characters for quick murder (other than the world’s most improbably tough Ethereal). I still had a serpent and Hemlock live, along with three characters, and was able to use them to pick his stuff off. My opponent had sensibly switched gears to trying to control objectives but I’d already taken out all of his “bulk” earlier on, so only really had characters and a roving hazard suit to do it. Ultimately the game was locked up by his Coldstar Commander losing a duel to a Hemlock – two rounds of shooting from him got it down to a single wound – but that was all it needed to fly over and disintegrate him, effectively closing the game in my favour. Without that I think I still would have had it on Primary, but he would have scored a lot more secondary points and maybe pushed it close to a draw.

The dust settles after a complete bloodbath

 

The Takeaways

This felt like the most “Wraithknight” way to win an opening game – save the day by dying dramatically. That probably was what won it here – without it I was probably a goner when his Riptide tanked the hits to enable an attack on Yvraine.

Despite that I didn’t feel terrible about the list coming out of it, other than feeling like I needed a few more elements to screen the character bubble. The forward components felt like they gave a lot of scope for tactical play and all the components fit together well.

The Scorpions had sat on a backfield objective till the Hazard suit came and killed them but that was fine, I guess?

All in all, about as good an opener as I could have hoped for against a tough matchup – but I was painfully aware that I’d needed a lucky break to get back into the game as soon as something went wrong.

The Score

Primary: 22-11

Secondary: 12-6

Total: 34-17

Match Score: 1-0

Round 2 – Ultramarines

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

+ ARMY FACTION: Ultramarines
+ TOTAL COMMAND POINTS: 8
+ TOTAL ARMY POINTS: 2000pts
+ POWER LEVELS: 105pls
+ ARMY FACTIONS USED: Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, Ultramarines
+ TOTAL REINFORCEMENT POINTS: Not Applicable +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
== Battalion Detachment == Adeptus Astartes [35pls] [663 Points] 5-2 CP – Ultramarines
HQ: Gravis Captain (90), Boltstorm Gauntlet (12), MC Power Sword (6) - [6pls] [108] – STRATAGEM: Chapter Master (-2cp)
HQ: Primaris Lieutenant (65), MC Auto Bolt Rifle (4) - [5pls] [69] WARLORD: Adept of the Codex 

TR: 10 Intercessors (170), Power Fist (sgt, 9), 2x Auxiliary Launcher (intercessors, 2) - [10pls] [181]
TR: 5 Intercessors (85), Power Fist (9), Auxiliary Launcher (1) - [5pls] [95]
TR: 5 Infiltrators (110), Helix adept (10) - [5pls] [120]

FA: 3 Suppressors (54), Accelerator Autocannons (30pts), Grav Chutes (6pts) - [4pls] [90]

== Vanguard Detachment == Adeptus Astartes [32pls] [479 Points] 1 CP – Ultramarines
HQ: Primaris Chaplain (77) – [4pl] [77] LITANY: Recitation of focus

EL: 3 Aggressors (63), Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets (36), Fragstorm Launchers (12) - [6pls] [111]
EL: Redemptor Dreadnought (105), Macro Plasma Incinerator (31) Onslaught Gatling Cannon (16), 2 storm bolters (4), Icarus Rocket Pod (6) – [7pls] [162]
EL: Primaris Ancient (69) – [4pls] (69) RELIC: The Standard of Macragge Inviolate
EL: Victrix Guard (60) – [3pls] (60)

== Spearhead Detachment == Adeptus Astartes [38pls] [764 Points] 1 CP – Ultramarines
HQ: Chief Librarian Tigurius (130) - [7pls] [130] POWERS: Scryer’s Gaze, Precognition, Psychic Shackles
HS: Repulsor Executioner (210), Heavy Laser Destroyer (40), Heavy Onslaught (30), Twin Heavy bolter (17), Twin Icarus Ironhail (10), 2 storm bolters (4), 2 Fragstorm launchers (8) – [15pls] (324)
HS: 3 Eliminators (54), Bolt Sniper Rifles (6), Instigator Bolt Carbine (sgt, 5), Camo Cloaks (9) – [4pls] [74]
HS: 10 Hellblasters (180), Assault Plasma Incinerators (150) – [12pls] [330]

Inevitably, with only two of the Goonhammer crew at the event we got paired round 2 – I was up against our very own Patrick “Artum” Robbins, whose Ultramarines are a frequent fixture in our articles.

The Mission

ITC Mission 3 – Nexus Control (four objectives, bonus for holding all four)

Dawn of War Deployment

This is fine for me – there was a nice big central LOS blocker, so this combination lets me aim to push hard on one side.

The Plan

Space Marines eh? I mean I play Eldar so my plan for this matchup is basically “kill all the Space Marines” but I was wary after my LGT experience that this might not be the galaxy brain level plan it once was. However, on this terrain and against this list I felt it basically still held – In order to stop me taking control of three objectives he’ll have to commit some resources to both sides of the board, and I can pick whichever direction looks safest and smash it, building myself a safe castle from which to try and pull his stuff down at range.

The Wraithknight plays into this in an interesting way – what I decided to do with it here was use it as a gigantic distraction carnifex to push the flank I wasn’t prioritising. The thinking here was that with it shields up, he either has to commit his whole force to trying to take it down (a tough sell with the S7 plasma, though the Seal of Oath would presumably get added and help) or abandon the flank to it and face down the other half of my force where I have mortals and screening and stuff. Hopefully that would provide enough output to let me get things done.

My Secondaries

  • Marked for Death (Intercessors, Hellblasters, Repulsor, Redemptor)
  • Old School
  • Ground Control

Their Secondaries

  • Headhunter
  • Big Game Hunter
  • Engineers

The Summary

We hide at the back line.

Danger Tank

Other blue heroes

Patrick went first, but I’d deployed carefully enough that the only real heavy fire he’d be able to get on the knight would be the Repulsor. Wanting to make sure he got a kill he decided not to gamble on getting enough of a high roll to kill it and went after a Serpent instead. Unfortunately he needed to move far enough to only get two shots, and didn’t manage to get the kill. With his infiltrators also failing to take out my Warlock, that left him with nothing dead.

I responded by taking out the Repulsor and smashing away the infiltrators and some of the intercessors on the left flank, while also blowing the Eliminators up via psychic.

I felt pretty great at this point, but was quickly reminded that new Space Marines are a terrible thing as they started melting Crimson Hunters. At the start of the turn Patrick cunningly applied a bunch of buffs to them via the Chaplain and Tigurius then split the squad, allowing him to more carefully tune their fire. While some of the Hellblasters melted after I Lightning Fasted the first Crimosn, killing it was a good trade for him. He also got his Aggressors camped in the central ruin, giving me a dangerous threat that I no longer had convenient D3 shots to melt them. To make matters worse, his banner rolls were great from here on out, were great, meaning that my forces depleted much faster than I had planned for.

The fight phase was also a mixed back. Having baited out Duty Eternal for his last CP with some Starshot Missiles, the Wraithknight strode into combat with the Redemptor and unleashed the Wrath of the Dead/Supreme Disdain combo. With a decent clutch of sixes on my initial roll I was able to unleash an eye watering number of hit rolls, killing the dread outright. That left the Wraithknight facing down some slightly nervous looking intercessors and ready to steal the flank (Spiritseer in tow ready to quicken onto an objective).

A Redemptor about to have a bad time

Elsewhere, however, the Autarch totally messed up – he was meant to go into three Hellblasters, kill them, then consolidate into the other squad to force them to take the -1 if they wanted to shoot. He instead rolled all ones and twos on his wound rolls, needing to use the Craftworld re-roll to get even a single kill.

My Autarch about to humiliate himself and die

With seven Hellblasters left I suddenly had a big problem, as the Autarch was swiftly put down and his character pile charged and butchered the Serpent. I was forced to start using super careful screening and LOS tricks to try and keep my characters from getting killed by banner shooting as the Wraithknight picked off models. The good news for me was that he did seem to be below the critical threshold where he couldn’t really kill it even with its shields down.

Desperate defences of characters

I also got a break with my Scorpions. In order to try and maximise their effectiveness I’d Protected and Fortuned them, and that meant that when the Gravis captain charged them the Exarch and a few others survived to fight back, taking a big chunk out of him between mandiblasters and the claw. This combined with one other thing to form a turning point in a game which i had thought was heading for defeat. The gap into the central ruin was big enough for the Wraithknight to go through sideways and there was a convenient squad of intercessors in the middle. The Wraithknight used a charge into these to rapidly redeploy towards the action, while the Scorpions were able to finish off the Gravis captain. Things didn’t go all my way – Yvraine tried to assassinate his Lieutenant to take Warlord and turn off the Seal and failed, quickly paying for her mistake.

However, it turned out that all these things had combined to be just enough to give me the game – my positioning meant that he couldn’t achieve super much on his turn and on mine the Wraithknight was able to get amongst his characters and start picking them up, all the while blowing away his remaining infantry with Wraithcannon shots. One final bit of good fortune sealed it for me, as I was able to deny a smite aimed at finishing off my warlock, denying him a kill and point of Headhunter and letting me take linebreaker. I would still just have had it 25-24 without that, but as it was the game closed with a 26-22 victory for me after an incredibly tense final few turns.

The Takeaways

This one felt much more interesting because the Wraithknight was actively good here. While the horrendous attrition from his banner shooting was able to take out a lot of my core, I was able to deal with enough of his stuff that when a fully operational Wraithknight then strode into his lines (having, lets remember, already soloed a flank) he just couldn’t quite stop it, allowing me to pull back a game that had been on the brink of falling apart.

New Marines continue to be absolutely horrendous, and the extent to which my planes just melted was really alarming. The characters all being murder machines is also tough to deal with sometimes. They do, ultimately, still die to shooting though (at least the more conventional lists like this) and the mixture of being able to outrange them early and bring in the punch of the Wraithknight seemed to work reasonably well. Definitely going to try and stay further away from Hellblasters in the future though. Brrr.

The Score

Primary: 16-12

Secondary: 10-10

Total: 26-22

Match Score: 2-0

Round 3 – Imperium

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

ARMY FACTIONS: Imperial Knights, Adepta Sororitas, Astra Militarum
TOTAL COMMANDS POINTS:12, 7 Faith Points
TOTAL ARMY POINTS: 2000pts
Battalion Detachment, Adepta Sororitas Ebon Chalice +5CP Command Points (585)
160 Celestine HQ
60 Canoness (45) with combi-melta (15) HQ

51 5 Battle sisters Squad (9*5) with 3 storm bolters(3*2) T
51 5 Battle sisters Squad (9*5) with 3 storm bolters(3*2) T
75 5 Battle sister Squad (9*5) with 2 Melta Gun (14*2) and one storm bolter (2) T
63 6 Battle sister Squad (9*5) with 1 Melta Gun (14) and two storm bolters (2*2) T

99 6 Seraphin Squad (6*11) with 4 inferno pistols (7*4) and seraphin superior with plasma pistol (5) FA
99 6 Seraphin Squad (6*11) with 4 inferno pistols (7*4) and seraphin superior with plasma pistol (5) FA
99 6 Seraphin Squad (6*11) with 4 inferno pistols (7*4) and seraphin superior with plasma pistol (5) FA

Super heavy auxiliary detachment Taranis Imperial Knights 1286 points +3CP
594 Knight Valiant(500), with twin siegebreaker cannon (35*2) and two shieldbreaker missle (12*2) with Ion Bulwark, sanctuary. LW 1

172 Armiger Helverin(170) with Heavy Stubber (2) LW 2
174 Armiger Warglave(160) with Meltagun (14) LW 4
174 Armiger Warglave(160) with Meltagun (14) LW 5

Spearhead Detachment,Astra Militarum Cadian 130 points +1CP
30 Company Commander 30, Warlord with grand Strategist and Kurov's Aquila HQ

33 Heavy Weapon Squad (6*3) with 3 Morters (5*3) HS
33 Heavy Weapon Squad (6*3) with 3 Morters (5*3) HS
33 Heavy Weapon Squad (6*3) with 3 Morters (5*3) HS

The Mission

ITC Mission 4 – What’s Yours is Mine (5 objectives, one central, 2 placed each, bonus for holding the two you placed)

Frontline Assault deployment

Hmm, not super sure about this. On the one hand I do normally ruck in the middle with this list. On the other hand, is that still true against a Valiant, Celestine and all the meltaguns? Guess we’d find out.

The Plan

In an ideal world this is definitely a place where we’d want to whittle things down at range, but the deployment and mission don’t really allow that – we’re going to have to engage with the Knight at some point so it’s probably best to bite the bullet and go for it. The nice thing about facing a Valiant is that we can, at least, backline far enough that it isn’t going to be able to wreck us on his first turn (he deployed first), meaning we almost certainly get to go shields up and fight it. The Armigers are also very vulnerable targets against Eldar in general, and most of the stuff here should pretty reliably crumble if we can get the big Knight down.

That’s obviously a fairly big if though. Because it’s Taranis we want to engage it in multiple phases if possible, which this list can do pretty well (Yvraine in Psychic, most stuff in Shooting, Knight and Autarch in the fight phase) but a badly timed revival can still mess with our plans a lot, and the army packs a powerful counterpunch.

I also planned to put one serpent and some Avengers on harrassment duty, striking out to try and take the objective I’d placed in his zone. I’m not going to talk about these too much because they were a bit boring, but I’ll say now this was probably a mistake – normally pushing for the early bonus in mission four is correct, but with this list you need the threats able to support one another more of the time. It was at least an OK distraction that gradually picked off some stuff.

My Secondaries

  • Marked for Death (Armigers, Celestine)
  • Kingslayer (Valiant)
  • Ground Control

Their Secondaries

  • Butcher’s Bill
  • Big Game Hunter
  • Recon

The Summary

Maximum cowardice to start…

…after all, we don’t want to get harpooned.

I almost didn’t even go for the seize, as I was snugly backlined, but decided that it was worth it because I would get essentially a risk free turn of shooting while still backlined. I duly made the roll, getting me off to a great start and allowing me to pick off the Helverin and badly hurt one of the Warglaives. He moved up and did a bit of damage here and there, but wasn’t able to kill anything because of the range now that the Helverin was gone.

That meant it was party time. We slammed Doom into the Valiant, and although he stopped Jinx with the Sister strat we still went for an all out attack. The wounded Warglaive was picked off with some shooting, and the rest went into the Valiant to soften it up before the strat combo was deployed in the fight phase. While he did Rotate (the Imperial version works in melee if you have Santuary) the sheer volume of hit rolls that ensured punched (well, kicked) 15 damage into it, and better yet thanks to the expensive Rotate and other strat use he was now not able to revive.

Glorious battle is joined

The Wraithknight was also shielded up, allowing it to save the Harpoon shot the next turn and a lot of the other punishment sent at it. All told, his turn was a bit underwhelming, with a bunch of misses from melta and Celestine also failing to do much to a plane, and that gave me the chance to really pull ahead. The Valiant went down and the last Armiger soon followed, leaving me in control of the centre and the game basically locked up. While he killed off a good few of my units as time went on (including his canoness managing to finish off the Wraithknight with a melta shot on overwatch!) all my characters and a Serpent were live and mobile, and meandered around the board tidying stuff up, sealing a convincing win.

The Takeaways

Another game where the Wraithknight actually felt…good?

It’s fair to say that I was a bit confused to be 3-0 at this point, especially after two back to back games where the Wraithknight felt like my MVP. Obviously seizing here helped a lot, but the game really showcased that against armies that can’t stop you getting the buffs on him the knight can be extremely good, especially when he also has the ability to drop-kick either a large target or a big unit into the sun with the strat combo.

The emerging strategic lessons about how much you can afford to go wide (some, but less) were also useful – having the second Serpent adding to the punch in the middle would have been just way better here.

The Score

Primary: 21-12

Secondary: 12-6

Total: 33-18

Match Score: 3-0

Round 4 – Imperial Fist Successors

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

+ ARMY FACTION: Space Marines +
+ TOTAL COMMAND POINTS: 6 +
+ TOTAL ARMY POINTS: 2000 +
+ POWER LEVEL: 115 +
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Tin Pigeons – Imperial Fists Successor (Scions of the Forge, Stealthy) Tin Pigeons Battalion
Chapter Master [74], Jump Pack [19], Bolt Pistol, Chainsword, Warlord (Architect of War) - 93pts 
Chaplain [72], Jump Pack [18], Bolter, Catechism of Fire, The Eye of Hypnoth - 90pts

5 Intercessors [85], 5 Stalker Bolt Rifles, Sergeant (Chainsword) - 85pts
5 Intercessors [85], 5 Stalker Bolt Rifles, Sergeant (Chainsword) - 85pts
5 Scouts [55], 4 Camo Cloaks [12], 5 Sniper Rifles [10], Sergeant (Chainsword) - 77pts

Invictor Tactical Warsuit [90], Incendium Cannon [15], Heavy Bolter [10], 2 Ironhail Heavy Stubbers [12], Fragstorm Grenade Launcher [4] - 131pts
Invictor Tactical Warsuit [90], Incendium Cannon [15], Heavy Bolter [10], 2 Ironhail Heavy Stubbers [12], Fragstorm Grenade Launcher [4] - 131pts

4 Centurion Devastators [160], 4 Grav Cannons [80], 4 Hurricane Bolters [40], Sergeant - 280pts 
3 Eliminators [54], 3 Bolt Sniper Rifles [9], 3 Camo Cloaks [9], Sergeant - 72pts

Stormraven Gunship [192], Twin Assault Cannon [44], Twin Heavy Bolter [17], Two Stormstrike Missile Launchers [42], Two Hurricane Bolters [20] - 315pts

Tin Pigeons Air Wing
Stormhawk Interceptor [85], Icarus Stormcannon [10], Two Assault Cannons [44], Two Heavy Bolters [20] – 159pts
Stormhawk Interceptor [85], Icarus Stormcannon [10], Two Assault Cannons [44], Two Heavy Bolters [20] – 159pts
Stormhawk Interceptor [85], Icarus Stormcannon [10], Two Assault Cannons [44], Two Heavy Bolters [20] – 159pts
Stormtalon Gunship [100], Two Assault Cannons [44], Two Heavy Bolters [20] – 164pts

The Mission

ITC Mission five – Precious Cargo (four objectives, each player moves one 6″, bonus for holding the one your opponent moved).

Dawn of War Deployment

The Plan

This list was being piloted by UK tournament veteran Simon Priddis and I knew it was an absolute nightmare, as I’d had a good look while preparing my preview article (it was on my longlist of five after my initial scan through). While the Fists damage boost at least doesn’t work on the Knight, it does on most of the rest of my stuff, and with the first turn he can just delete me.

My plan therefore, is to go first, kill the Stormraven and another plane and then have an actual game from there. If I go second it’s pretty much just flat game over. The only cheery thing is that I think this would be true even without the Wraithknight.

If I can take out two planes straight away and force him to come within Assault cannon range to fight back, I think there’s a reasonably good chance I can follow through to a win – the Autarch is a dangerous threat to the planes and the Wraithknight can blow one apart a lot of the time, while psychic also rocks in to help. I think I have to bank on that as the mission doesn’t super help me here – I normally like this one, but against this army I can’t afford to leave a unit unsupported to hold an out of position objective. Instead I have to rely on smashing my way to the one opposite me within a few turns, scoring kills on the way.

My Secondaries

  • Marked for Death
  • Big Game Hunter
  • Old School

Their Secondaries

  • Big Game Hunter
  • Headhunter
  • Titanslayers

The Summary

Ready to move up this time

Evil pigeons loom

I went first, which was good. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the last good thing that happened in the game.

My shooting kind of whiffed. A lot of misses and a good run of 6+ saves from him left my Wraithknight remaining to fire at a Stormhawk on 3 and the Stormraven on two. Knowing I needed a great turn, and that an average of one wounding hit on each was what I needed and could reasonably expect, I swung for the fences and split the big guns. Sadly, I rolled a one for the damage against the Stormhawk and he made a clutch 6+ on the Stormraven. To make matters infinitely worse, my knight and Autarch charged and took out some scouts and a Redemptor, but the latter exploded – and did 6MW to the Autarch, killing him outright.

A brief detour is made to tread on some stuff

That was basically game over on the spot, but having a shielded up Wraithknight at least let me participate for a few turns to rack up some points. His planes and Grav cents quickly deleted my planes, but in a small spot of light my Hemlock had the decency to explode, taking out both the planes he had left on 2W.

The alpha pigeon leads its merciless flock to devour a poor Hemlock.

That freed up enough space for me to bring my remaining stuff up, blow away the last plane and have the Wraithknight tread on his chapter master. This (combined with it later killing the chaplain and some Centurions as well) was extremely cathartic but ultimately couldn’t do much more than rack up some pity points. This game ended the moment the Stormraven made that last 6+.

The Takeaways

Goodness me are the Marine plane lists brutal. Hilariously I do think this was another game where the Wraithknight helped a lot. With or without it in my army the game is just instantly over if I go second, so having something that can shield up to the point where this army can’t trivially murder it is about the best outcome, and it did a lot of damage overall, despite the whiff first turn.

That didn’t matter in the slightest, because this was one of those games where everything that could go wrong did. Even above the stuff already mentioned, I had one psychic phase where I rolled five ones in a row to chain perils, and seemed unable to achieve anything at all. Happens sometimes!

Not much more to say honestly. Welcome to Marine meta.

The Score

Primary: 9-22

Secondary: 8-11

Total: 17-33

Match Score: 3-1

Round 5 – Tau

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (T'au Empire) [59 PL, 8CP, 995pts] ++ + No Force Org Slot +
Battle-forged CP [3CP]
Detachment CP [5CP]
T'au Empire Sept Choice: T'au Sept + HQ +
Cadre Fireblade [2 PL, 42pts]: 2. Through Unity, Devastation, Markerlight, Warlord . Puretide engram neurochip
Commander Shadowsun [9 PL, 110pts] 

+ Troops +
Strike Team [2 PL, 35pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas'ui: Pulse rifle . 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team [2 PL, 35pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas'ui: Pulse rifle . 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team [2 PL, 35pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas'ui: Pulse rifle . 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle

+ Fast Attack +
Tactical Drones [6 PL, 100pts] . 10x MV4 Shield Drone
Tactical Drones [6 PL, 100pts] . 10x MV4 Shield Drone
Tactical Drones [6 PL, 100pts] . 10x MV4 Shield Drone

+ Heavy Support +
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits [24 PL, 438pts]
. Broadside Shas'ui: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile
. Broadside Shas'ui: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile
. Broadside Shas'vre: 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Seeker missile
. 6x MV4 Shield Drone

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (T'au Empire) [5 PL, 1CP, 120pts] ++ + No Force Org Slot +
Detachment CP [1CP]
T'au Empire Sept Choice: Sa'cea Sept
+ HQ +
Ethereal [2 PL, 45pts]: Honour blade

+ Elites +
Firesight Marksman [1 PL, 25pts]: Markerlight, Pulse pistol
Firesight Marksman [1 PL, 25pts]: Markerlight, Pulse pistol
Firesight Marksman [1 PL, 25pts]: Markerlight, Pulse pistol

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (T'au Empire) [44 PL, 1CP, 883pts] ++ + No Force Org Slot +
Detachment CP [1CP]
T'au Empire Sept Choice: T'au Sept
+ HQ +
Ethereal [2 PL, 45pts]: Honour blade

+ Elites +
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 280pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Target lock
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 280pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Target lock
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 278pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Velocity tracker
++ Total: [108 PL, 10CP, 1,998pts] ++

The Mission

ITC Mission 6 – Crucible of Champions (5 objectives, bonus for having a character in range of three)

Frontline Assault deployment

This is a very good combo for me, because he’s on a much more conventional castle Tau list than our first opponent, and we can start scoring the bonus from turn 1 with ease.

The Plan

I mean that basically is our plan – score the bonus and all the “mores” early on and keep him boxed in his castle long enough to kill his drones and start whittling away his stuff while building an unassailable primary lead.

The Autarch is obviously a huge asset here – if I go first and quicken him into the Broadsides that leaves him in a very tough spot as it strips away some key firepower. At that point, a shields up Wraithknight almost certainly makes it to turn 2. I should be able to wrap up killing the drones turn 2, at which point I can use Serpents to soak up FtGG (or just use the Wraithknight if it’s fully shielded) and get the Wraithknight into the Broadsides for some big kicking.

If I go second this is tough. I can probably phantasm the Knight out of range of the castle, but that will remove my ability to screen characters with it centrally to wrack up the bonus. I guess I can send characters out to grab objectives in a “V”, leaving the centre alone, but things are a lot harder.

My Secondaries

  • Marked for Death
  • Headhunter
  • Old School

Their Secondaries

  • Titanslayers
  • Headhunter
  • Old School

The Summary

Tau castle arrayed for battle

The mean wraithknight plots to kick over the castle

I got the first turn and got the plan going, but failed the Quicken cast on the Autarch!

Quicken fails, leaving the Wraithknight facing down a lot of firepower

That meant I had to content myself with stripping away Drones, which I did, to be fair, manage a lot of.

Drone kills wrack up.

He Kau’yoned and turned all his firepower on the Wraithknight and killed it – just. In what would set the story of the game, his wound rolls were pretty terrible and my saves were good (and only got better from here), meaning it took literally the whole army to do the job.

That meant I still had a lot of options. My Scorpions came in and charged the Fire Warriors in the ruin to his left, while the Autarch blitzed into the Broadsides, a Riptide and a Fireblade after I killed most of the rest of the Drones, picking up the Fireblade for Warlord and shutting the Broadsides down for a turn. He obviously died (a hero) but with only two Kauyonned Riptides and one moving one, his second turn was a lot less good than the first, especially as my saves continued hot.

The Autarch gets there on the second try and we start locking the game down

Although my attempts to actually kill big stuff kept whiffing, I was able to leverage good defensive rolls to close out the game. The next turn I fortuned up a Wave Serpent, then used a combination of the Scorpions charging out of cover and the serpent to offset FtGG, and got it into the Broadsides in one piece, while the Scorpions wrapped a Firesight and tagged a Riptide. The turn after that I fortuned up the one that was still fresh, used the Scorpions (fresh from snipping the Firesight to death) to declare on Shadowsun, forcing some FTGG to stop them charging then piling into the Riptides, and the new Serpent got in again, practically unscathed. Throughout all of this I’d been gradually whittling stuff down and my saves have continued excellent, leaving him boxed in for a fourth turn of high Primary scoring from me. At that point we talked it out – I made a final run of infuriatingly good saves and just had too much left for him to meaningfully interact with the game.

The Takeaways

This game is a bit skewed by what I can only call my absurdly good luck on saves and FNPs. However, I do think i’d probably have taken it anyway – even with normal rolling I can probably keep him fully boxed in for 3 turns of maxed scoring, and contest the board for more than that, and while it wasn’t as extreme my offense also frequently whiffed against the key targets. That’s definitely how I’d prefer the luck to fall in this game though – when your goal is just “keep your opponent in place long enough to build an unassailable lead” you’d rather roll hot on saves than attacks.

Not picking Recon was definitely a huge mistake here, and in a closer game it might have cost me. I should have realised that if I’m scoring the bonus I’m practically guaranteed Recon, and my whole plan was “score the bonus for at least four turns”. I have only myself to blame for that.

Still, this is no time to dwell on the negatives!

The Score

Primary: 25-13

Secondary: 9-9

Total: 34-22

Match Score: 4-1

Final Score

Match Score: 4-1

8th place on ITC rankings, 11th including comp (I’ll remember to make a display board next year X_X).

Best Aeldari

Er…

…So What the Heck Just Happened?

The Wraithknight

I went into this event willing to settle for 2-3, with 3-2 maybe as an upper limit. Instead, despite facing down some reasonably tough matchups I pulled through with a pretty good result, miles above expectation. How?

I think I have to reasonably preface this that I ran pretty hot all weekend. Not universally – Yvraine was incredibly off form, I had frequent offensive faceplants and round four was one of those wall to wall disaster games where you do stuff like roll five 1s in a row for psychic. However, the stuff that mattered was mostly tilted my way – my saves were good (especially in the last game where they were kind of outrageous) and I got the first turn four times. The army is low drop so getting 3/5 would be reasonable, but four is lucky, and this army really wants to go first.

However, even casting a pessimistic eye over things can’t disguise the fact that the army and the Wraithknight in particular was just plain better than I expected. The Expert Crafters re-rolls are just great across the board but are at their peak on the knight. Especially once you queue up Fateful Divergence and keep him in an Autarch bubble, all four Wraithcannon shots suddenly land a decent proportion of the time, and even against stuff with -1 to hit you can usually manage to get three in, enough to just about kill a Marine flyer on average dice once you factor in that you’ve got a re-roll for the first 1 you roll to wound as well. Being able to do this without having to use Guide frees you up to only have a single Farseer to provide the mandatory Doom and Fortune. You have to put in the work, but all of these new tricks combine to bring the damage output from his shooting multi-wound targets without an invuln (which are suddenly popular again) to actual good levels.

Combined with the ability to do the ultimate roundhouse kick stratagem combo in melee, he’s a much deadlier threat than most people price in when planning their offence. Also, if you can go shields up then he’s prohibitively tough to shift, and not going first doesn’t always mean you won’t get to. Lots of armies can now reach out and just kill him or some planes, but for most it is still either-or and opponents may decide to go after the planes to try and blunt your reliable offence. Compared to the lists I normally play, I’m in a much better position at that point than if multiple planes are dead and I only have more finesse tools on the ground – there’s a big stompy robot with an invuln and a FNP just itching to take some revenge. Also, although I didn’t play against any, there are a decent number lists out there that don’t even want to always go first, or can’t meaningfully stop my putting shields up if they do. In those matchups, it should excel (although they’re diminishing a bit as Marines drive a first turn meta).

Finally, it also helps in close games. I’ve been on the receiving end of matches where things go down to the wire and I put off trying to finish a knight off to go for easier targets, but find myself unable to stop the knight rolling over me right at the end because I’m out of stuff and it’s deadly in two phases. In games with this list where I manage to go shields up and there is heavy attrition on both sides my opponent might well make that same choice – and just like as happened in game 2, find there isn’t quite enough left to stop the rampage.

The Rest of the List

Mobile bubble – apparently how this works

I didn’t get any chance to playtest the list before round 1 so I was kind of learning it on the fly, but what quickly emerged (as you can probably tell from the pictures) is that it played like a really weird version of the Nurgle/Thousand Sons list, building a central bubble of characters surrounded by vehicles and a Wraithknight leading the charge. This isn’t the only strategy it can play, and having the option of engaging at range or using speed to contest the board is a big plus, but that seemed to be the core strategy. Looking back over my secondaries, my normal aversion to taking Recon unless I really have to was a mistake here – I would trivially have maxed it in I think every game except round 4 (where I wouldn’t have taken it anyway because of the matchup). I was comfortably fighting for the mid board with many active pieces until turn 4 most of the time, making it easy to score, and speaking pretty well of the resilience.

Hawkeye turns out to be just as stupid as expected, especially as in support of the above strategy I was frequently converging the planes on the Autarch. Expert Crafters is also great with Hawkeye because you’re only averaging one miss each time you shoot. Bladestorm was cool and did a decent bit of extra dakka sometimes, but what I wanted from the Avengers in this list was for them to die slowly, and having the Exarch 4++ would just have been better most of the time here. For normal lists I’d be Bladestorm all the way. The Scorpions were meh. Stalker did literally nothing at any point, and there are too many lists that can just trivially blow them out of cover regardless. They did some decent work in a few games, reminding me that they aren’t an outright horrible unit, but are easily cuttable.

Striking Scorpion Exarch with Biting Blade

Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

The AMLs on the Wave Serpents were good and worked well with Expert Crafters as expected, and did some great damage in a few games. However, they do make the price on the Serpents pretty steep, and I think this list mostly needed Serpents for the high-resilience bumper car aspect. Losing one hurts a lot more when they’re 25% more expensive as well.

Fateful Divergence was fantastic but fixing it on my Farseer was probably a mistake. It was right in some games – this list actually doesn’t always need to be casting Doom every turn (a nice upside as it removes some positioning constraints) so in matchups where that was the case having the Farseer on Fortune/Fateful for the early game and switching to Doom later was nice. Not having his smite suuuucked though and I think was a contributing factor to why Yvraine felt less good than normal – Smite is best in critical mass. It’ll be a fixture on my Warlock most of the time, and in flex power formats (like most ITC events) there are a number of different possible loadouts for this list you can configure by matchup.

The surprising thing that I felt underperformed was Masters of Concealment. It wasn’t bad but wasn’t great either. That’s partially a factor of the matchups I played – Tau no-sell it with markerlights and getting to take a 6+ against AP-4 (as Marines have in spades) doesn’t usually swing whole games (and yes I realise the irony of that after the round 4 writeup). However, because I often wanted to be an mid-board deathball it often just wasn’t kicking in. In a list that wanted to hang back more I think it would be worth it, but it wasn’t quite right here.

A final thought, leading in to the next section.

How much does it matter that this list really wants to go first?

The brutal truth is that in the current meta full of overtuned Marine lists I’m probably losing most games where I don’t go first against them anyway. In what I have to kind of admit is a fair turnaround, Marines brutally stomp all over conventional Eldar lists because they now have too many tools that get over the accuracy hump with ease, and they get full value of of boosted AP due to the low number of invulns in the Eldar range.

Given that, how bad an idea actually is it to be playing a list with a core unit that, when you get a turn, goes shields up to become something that they can’t trivially swat? It even has good output against Centurions and Marine fliers, and shores up weaknesses against melee armies.

Look, there is an extent to which this result was obviously some degree of outlier, and if you’re starting out Eldar, you should probably not play this list.

However.

I had a boring two hour drive home filled with the buzz of success to convince myself that I might just be the tiniest bit on to something and start optimising.

I have another Major in three weeks.

I do not want to paint more Shining Spears, which was my pedestrian, sensible plan.

Shovel some more coal into the furnace, we’re seeing just how fast this bad decisions train can go.

Once More, With Feeling

I have thoroughly botched my attempt to get the desire to take Wraithknights to tournaments out of my system. Whatever its flaws, this list felt surprisingly potent on the table, I’ve just gone 4-1 with it and I think I can make it better. Maybe I’ll turn up to my next event and get blown off the table five rounds in a row, proving this to be a freak convergence of good luck and the right games.

Maybe. We’re going to find out.

Having brainstormed what I can change, I’ve ended up with the following V2 of the list that I think improves it a decent amount:

Army List - Click to Expand

+ ARMY FACTION: Asuryani
+ TOTAL COMMAND POINTS: 9
+ TOTAL ARMY POINTS: 2000pts
+ POWER LEVEL: 116
+ ARMY FACTIONS USED: Asuryani, Craftworld Mara-Nai (Expert Crafters, Masterful Shots)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

== Battalion Detachment == Asuryani, Craftworld Mara-Nai (Expert Crafters, Masterful Shots)
[41PL, 739pts] 5CP
HQ: Farseer (110), Witchblade (0) [6PL] [110pts]
Relic: Faolchu’s Wing
HQ: Warlock Skyrunner (65), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2),  Witchblade (0), Warlord [4PL] [67pts]

TR: 5 Dire Avengers (40), Exarch (0), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (15), Exarch Additional Avenger Shuriken Catapult (3), Exarch Power - Battle Fortune [3PL] [58pts]
TR: 5 Dire Avengers (40), Exarch (0), 5 Avenger Shuriken catapults (15), Exarch Power- Battle Fortune [3PL] [55pts]
TR: 8 Storm Guardians (48), 2 Chainswords (0), 6 Aeldari Blades (0) [48pts]

DT: Wave Serpent (120), Twin Scatter Laser (12), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) [9PL] [134pts]
DT: Wave Serpent (120), Twin Scatter Laser (12), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) [9PL] [134pts]
DT: Wave Serpent (120), Twin Scatter Laser (12), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2) [9PL] [134pts]

== Supreme Command Detachment == Asuryani, Craftworld Mara-Nai (Expert Crafters, Masterful Shots)
[42PL, 728pts] 0CP (1 base, -1 Wraithhost)
Specialist Detachment: Vigilus Defiant - Wraithhost -1CP
HQ: Autarch Skyrunner (95), Laser Lance (8), Fusion Gun (14), Twin Shuriken Catapult (2), Banshee Mask (0) [6PL] [119pts]
HQ: Spiritseer (65) [3PL] [65pts]
HQ: Yvraine (115) [6PL] [115pts]

LOW: Wraithknight (315), 2 Heavy Wraithcannons (100), 2 Scatter Lasers (14) [27PL] [429pts]

== Air Wing Detachment == Asuryani, Craftworld Mara-Nai (Expert Crafters, Masterful Shots)
[28PL, 532pts] 1CP
FL: Hemlock Wraithfighter (200), Spirit Stones (10) [10PL] [210pts]
FL: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), 2 Starcannons (26), Exarch Power - Hawkeye [9PL] [161pts]
FL: Crimson Hunter Exarch (135), 2 Starcannons (26), Exarch Power - Hawkeye [9PL] [161pts]

Cutting the Scorpions and downgrading the Serpents to Scatters lets me squeeze in a third tank, giving a list that leans hard into what seemed to be working here, mainly gumming up the mid board and screening my characters long enough to get the job done. Masters of Concealment wasn’t working for me, so it’s out in favour of Masterful Shots (ignore cover). It feels a bit strange to take out an ability that wasn’t working in favour of one that counters that same ability, but there are a lot of Marine armies running Stealthy out there, and as I learned them passing a clutch 6+ save against a Wraithcannon shot can be game changing. They also allow the Crimson Hunters to engage at a way safer distance – their output drops a lot if your opponent is taking 5+s.

In a Marine world, it also makes scatter lasers a tonne better. One of their big problems is that they’re totally worthless against Marines in cover, but capping their save at 3+ does a lot of work to improve this (literally doubling your damage output). That makes me more comfortable losing the missile shots in favour of the bodies.

Unless I come up with an extremely good sensible option that involves almost no painting, I’m going to be taking that to the Element Grand Slam in a few weeks, another ITC major. I think this one actually allows swapping Psychic powers per game, which is an additional improvement to the list.

I mean look. When it comes down to it I have what can be accurately described as a 4-1 list that I think does OK against an inclement metagame and I can improve it.

Really I’d be silly not to take it out again!

Check back in a few weeks to find out just how much of a fluke this was, I guess. In the meantime, if you want to tell me that I got super lucky (I am aware, it came up a few times) or instead thank me for bringing glorious news about Wraithknights to the downtrodden Aeldari masses, you can reach us at contact@goonhammer.com or via our Facebook page.