On Sunday I attended my local shop’s quarterly one-day event, Tides of War, along with Artum and One_Wing. The venue is the excellent Bristol Independent Gaming, and the format is 1500pts with 3 games, played using the Maelstrom missions from the rulebook. This was the 4th and last event of the calendar year, so along with the tournament itself, there was a secondary prize up for grabs, which was an overall championship – basically the person who performed best over the course of the year. Having turned up to all 3 of the previous events and come 3rd, 2nd, and 3rd at them with a 9-0 record, I was strongly positioned to win this outright. The prize is small but helpful – free entry to the Winter edition held in February.
The format is very simple and One_Wing has already written it up elsewhere. The only real changes to normal are that no named characters are allowed, all deployments are Dawn of War, cards which are impossible when drawn can be discarded, and finally if you table someone you win regardless of VPs, and have until the end of the battle round to score further points.
At the previous editions of the event I’ve run Imperial Guard (February) and Dark Eldar (April and July). Recently I’ve been playing with various mixed Imperium forces, so for this event I decided I would keep it simple and run pure Knights (with the standard Guard splash to support them) – I painted them recently and they look good, they’re fun to play, and most importantly they’re easy to use since there’s only 35 models on the table and 95% of the force’s effectiveness is in 3 of them.
My list was:
1500pts, 14 CP (12 after pre-game relics/stratagems). Knights are House Raven, Guard are Cadian.
Knight Castellan Warlord with Ion Bulwark and Cawl’s Wrath, with 4 missiles
Knight Gallant, which I usually expected to take the Paragon Gauntlet and Landstrider with stratagems
2 Company Commanders
3 Infantry Squads, one with a mortar
The plan was straightforward but effective. The Gallants would either counter-charge anything which wanted to be aggressively charging at me (unlikely) or they would be heading upfield for punching purposes. The relic-bearing one in particular would be there to try and get off a first-turn charge against a hard target, what you might call the “sack the quarterback” stratagem. The Castellan has the obvious role of obliterating whatever it looks at from maximum range, while being very difficult to hurt itself. The Guardsmen provide screening, scoring bodies, surprising mobility with Move! Move! Move!, and a certain amount of anti-infantry firepower. With my net 12 CP going into each game, I expected to run out fairly quickly with the new 3pt Order of Companions, the 3pt Rotate on the Castellan, and wanting to splurge for Full Tilt as well. Hopefully the front-loaded firepower would be enough.
One other aspect of the event which I hadn’t previously mentioned is fluff. The TO asks people to submit fluff for their list before the event, which is worth an extra tournament point. The requirement is not very stringent and I’m usually a bit low effort about it. Here’s this event’s submission:
Three mighty war machines stride forward, knee-deep in the Tides of War.
Two are Knight Gallants, piloted by Alexander Komnenos and his son, Petros Komnenos. These mighty warmachines are known as Imperial Grandeur and Fate of Heretics, and they come ready to charge forward into glorious close combat.
Supporting them is the fearsome Knight Castellan, Song of the Tomb, piloted by Doux Julian Arcadius Komnenos, brother to Alexander and known as the Theodosian Gate for his qualities as an immovable barrier against the enemies of the House.
Around their feet swarm the Guardsmen of the Phlegethon Regiments. They are not sure of their role, but apparently their presence is so inspiring to the noble Knights that they are essential. They expect to die in the service of the Emperor shortly after first contact is made.
Game 1, vs Alex with Deathwatch/Imperial Knights (Race to Victory)
My first game was against a local opponent, Alex. We played once before, when I took Venom-spam Dark Eldar against his newly-minted Deathwatch. It did not end well for him.
This time around he was running a mixed list, with the Deathwatch supported by some Knights, as follows:
Primaris Watch Captain with Thief of Secrets (Warlord)
Primaris Librarian with Null Zone and Psychic Scourge
4x Fortis Kill Teams, 1 6-man with 2 Hellblasters, 1 5-man with nothing, 1 7-man with 2 Hellblasters
1x 3 Aggressors
House Taranis Super-heavy Detachment
Knight Errant with the relic thermal cannon and Ion Bulwark
2x Armiger Helverins
The mission was Race to Victory. This is a Chapter Approved mission – players have up to 3 cards in their hand, scoring them as normal. If either player scores 10 cards, the game ends immediately and that player receives +4 VPs.
I “won” the roll for objective placement, so I deployed one fairly centrally (knowing that I had some big hitters to push into midfield with) and the other two on “my” side, since Alex showed his hand early in terms of which deployment zone he was going to take. He deployed all his objectives above ground, with one on top of each ruin on my right flank (see below) and another on the boxes in the centre which his Marines are standing on. This meant that he could sit on objectives, claiming cover, and prevented my Knights from claiming either of objectives 2 or 4 since they were on top of ruins. Theoretically this was a good plan, but that didn’t bear out through the game.
The deployment ended up as below, with Alex choosing to deep strike his Aggressors and the big Fortis squad:
As would become the pattern for the day, Alex won the roll off to go first and chose to do so.
Alex’s opening salvo of fire mostly targeted the right-hand squad of Guardsmen, with a few shots peppering the Castellan’s screen as well. His Errant and the Helverins targeted my relic-bearing Gallant and knocked it down to 12 wounds. He scored a point for something I don’t recall, and that was that.
The response was instant and brutal. After a quick Machine Spirit Resurgent to act on his top profile, the primary Gallant pelted across the board with Landstrider, putting him within charge range of both the Errant and the Librarian. The other Gallant pushed left towards Alex’s flank with the Captain and one Helverin. The remaining Guardsmen on the right hand side popped up onto the ruins, with the Company Commander following them, and the others spread out a little to screen the Castellan against any possible deep strikers. A few anti-infantry shots knocked over an Intercessor, before the Castellan opened up with an Order of Companions-fuelled flurry of firepower and did absolutely nothing. The only notable shooting 593pts of Imperial Knight achieved was the siegebreaker cannons randomly taking 8 wounds off the right-hand Helverin, with all the other shots either plinking off a rotated ion shield or missing completely. Good use of 3 CPs!
Happily the Gallant made up for it. He took two wounds from the thermal cannon the charge and saved one, dropping down to 8 wounds, before charging in with bullish ferocity. His total movement this turn was, if I remember correctly, 31″. Importantly at this stage, I declared charges on not only the Errant, but also the Librarian stood next to him.
Despite being down to hitting on 3s the Paragon Gauntlet swung 5 times, hit 4 times, and wounded 4 times, for a total of 32 damage. It also rolled a 4+ to throw the dead Knight at the Librarian, scoring 2 mortal wounds, before Death Gripping the unfortunate psyker and squeezing him to death! A Man of the Match performance within the first 20 minutes of the game. to add insult to injury, the Errant failed to get back up with the Taranis stratagem, making my victory complete. The turn 1 sack had worked perfectly.
Alex was a little shellshocked at this stage but fought back ferociously. His Aggressors dropped in on the right hand side of the board, next to my Guard in the ruin, and the big kill team appeared inside the blue ruin at the board centre. The Helverins closed in on my wounded Gallant, who with only 8 wounds was looking very vulnerable. After a brutal round of plasma and autocannon fire he had 1 wound remaining, which Captain Aether promptly took off him with a well-aimed tempest shell.
There was still plenty of firepower left, and thanks to some truly awful rolling on my part, the Gallant on the left flank was pounded down to 6 wounds in short order. He was vulnerable, but surely not that vulnerable?
The Aggressors had a little less luck, pouring fire into the Guardsmen in the ruins only to see them shrug most of it off. Sadly the tattered remnants were shot again by kraken rounds, leaving only the Sergeant alive and soon to flee. This took me off objective 4, which I was trying to defend.
In my turn 2, I had several problems all at once. Firstly, there were still two Helverins motoring about the board, one of them completely untouched. There were about as many Space Marines as Guardsmen still alive, all in cover and covering objectives. The Aggressors were uncontested on the right hand side of the board, while my board presence in the form of two Gallants had been reduced to just one, very badly damaged Gallant.
This took some thinking about, but eventually I settled on the following. The Gallant pushed up next to the unwounded Helverin, giving himself a nice short charge to make should it be necessary. The Castellan pushed right to get away from his central squad. With luck, he could destroy the Aggressors and both Helverins in one big flurry of fire, making up for his earlier poor performance. The central Guardsmen made their trembling way forwards towards the central ruin, while my right-hand Company Commander sprinted up on to the right-hand ruin. One immediate flaw became apparent when Alex pointed out that he wasn’t actually holding objective 4, which meant I had to wait another turn for that to happen.
The rest, however, worked almost perfectly. After a second Order of Companions, which ate the last of my command points, Cawl’s Wrath obliterated the Aggressors. The shieldbreaker and siegebreakers deleted the wounded Helverin. The volcano cannon did exactly 12 damage to the other Helverin, but Alex, having finally remembered the Taranis trait, made a single 6+++ to keep it alive, which would have dire consequences. The Gallant charged in to finish the Helverin off, only to take 2 wounds from autocannon fire and fail both saves, taking exactly enough damage to die. He didn’t even have the good grace to explode and take the 1-wound Armiger with him.
At the end of this turn Alex also scored a defend, as well as getting 2 points from Big Game Hunter for destroying my Gallant (in my own turn!), and the game became very interesting. I had more or less neutered his threats to my Castellan, but at the price of my Gallants both being dead and with a very light board presence. Having failed to score my defend 4 due to poor positioning, I was 2-5 down on objectives, with no CPs left. The game now became very tight, since I had one effective unit to attempt to punish his troops with, while in theory he had better ability to control objectives and score points.
At this point it all got a little bit pillow-fisted. He didn’t touch the Castellan in his turn, only killing a few more Guardsmen. In turn 3 I moved the Castellan forwards, and killed off the Helverin and a couple of the right-most Fortis kill team. The Company Commander mounted the ruins this time, securing the Defend after weathering a flurry of turn 4 fire from one squad, with the Castellan and some infantrymen at board centre preventing anyone else from shooting him. His opposite number pushed up towards objective 1, while the mortar-toting squad moved into the blue ruin and out of LoS, preventing Alex from shooting the Commander while being invisible themselves. The Castellan covered himself in glory by strafing up the field and not only dropping the 3-man squad with his twin meltas, but also killing 6/7 of the bigger kill team. The remaining Marine fled after a re-rolled And They Shall Know No Fear.
As we drew into turn 5 the score was 8-6 in my favour, a turn around from earlier. At this point Alex nearly conceded, but we decided to play on since both of us could score more VPs, and VPs scored is the tiebreaker for positioning. This worked out hugely for me – we went all the way to 7, and my cards went crazy, as I not only scored a 3 from Supremacy but also picked up a few others to come up to 9 cards scored. With the final act of the game, the Castellan shot Watch-Captain Aether to pieces, scoring me No Prisoners and triggering the Race to Victory condition for bonus VPs.
Overall the score was 18-8, with a tabling at the end of 7. Alex played a very creditable game, reacting well to losing his Errant so early on. His only real mistake was leaving it so far forwards – when he positioned it that way I was concerned he was going to try the charge against me, but apparently he simply underestimated how far the Gallant could charge, and placed the Errant there because that’s where it normally goes to anchor the centre. For myself, I felt like I played about right, although potentially the secondary Gallant should have come back to kill the 7-man team in the ruin (which had hung a couple of Marines out to take objective 1) instead of facing down the Helverin which had a low, but potential, chance to kill him on the charge.
After a long, slugging back and forth of a game, I was 1-0 up for the day.
Game 2, vs Chris with Tyranids (Tactical Gambit)
For game 2 I was playing Chris with his Tyranids, on table 2. Chris is a previous winner of the event and a good player, with a well-designed list:
Hive Fleet Kraken Battalion
Flyrant with the -1 to hit relic
2x 3 Ripper Swarms
Hive Fleet Kronos Battalion
3x 10 Termagants
5 Hive Guard
He had two key problems here:
1) Tyranids are not great at killing Knights, and I had 3.
2) I played against quite a similar army on Wednesday in my sole practice game at 1500pts, and won handily.
This made planning quite simple. The Castellan can fairly trivially kill both the Hive Guard and the Exocrine in turn 1, and that removes most of the threats to my armour. Since Chris had two Flyrants rather than the solo one I’d faced earlier in the week he had a little more ability to threaten them, but a Tyrant comes way down the list compared to the potentially double-firing Hive Guard. As long as I could remove those two units, I could deal with the Hive Tyrants afterwards, and then the Knights could roam around unchallenged.
However, there were a couple of things in his favour. Firstly, he had a lot of mobility, which counts for a lot in Maelstrom. Secondly, the whole right side of the board was a series of ruin walls which the Knights can’t move through, restricting their ability to get around. Once again I “won” the deployment roll, and Chris did the needful by deploying his objectives safely in a backfield line on his table edge. We were playing Tactical Gambit this time, so having control of a safe selection of objectives was helpful to say the least.
After deployment the board looked like this:
Chris left one Tyrant and his Rippers in deep strike. Despite once again having the +1 to go first, I went second.
On his one he shuffled his right-hand Termagants forwards, and the Tyrant came down my left flank to land just by the corner of the bigger circular ruin piece. His Genestealers tried to burst forwards using the Kraken stratagem to double their advance roll, but even after a CP re-roll they weren’t getting close enough to charge so instead they stood still looking a bit sheepish.
The Exocrine and Hive Guard both battered the primary Gallant. This highlighted the Tyranid issue though – even with me rolling poorly for saves and the Hive Guard double shooting, they didn’t put it down, or even really manage to hurt it enough to count. He did score a few points though.
In my 1, the goal was to take out the shooting threats, and potentially punch out the Tyrant. After my Gallant’s strong performance last game, it seemed inevitable that he would do the same again. Unfortunately this was not the case – he rolled a 1 for his advance, re-rolled into another 1, to stumble forwards 13″ and put himself just barely in charge range. At this point I’d invested 2 CP for a net return of fuck all, so I decided not to throw good points after bad and accepted his inevitable death.
Shooting went better. Even through the -1 to hit from the Malanthrope, the Castellan wiped out the Hive Guard and the Exocrine in its opening volley, neatly removing the clearest threats to itself. A few Genestealers died to mortar fire, and the Gallants did nothing at all with their sidearms.
I’d drawn an absolutely horrible hand of cards, including Behind Enemy Lines, Scour the Skies and whatever the one is for killing a psyker. This was theoretically good, but with the Castellan needing to focus on the shooters, the only chance of getting it was the Gallant punching out a Hive Tyrant which was not to be. The only achievable one was to defend objective 5, neatly sat in front of my leftmost Guardsmen. They shuffled forwards, looking unhappily at the Genestealers facing them across the pitch.
In his 2 the second Hive Tyrant dropped, and the Genestealers burst forwards. The other Tyrant flew to the opposite side of my Knights. The Neurothrope flew forwards to support the Tyrants, while the Malanthrope, its job of protecting the shooting base over, flew off to the right-hand corner to try and get as many bodies between it and my guns as possible.
Shooting and Smites took the Gallant down to 2 wounds. The Stealers charged into my Guardsmen, while the Tyrants both charged into the wounded Gallant, its life metre flashing red now.
Chris made the smart choice and fought with a Hive Tyrant first, but unluckily for him did no damage. I interrupted and hit the other one with the Paragon Gauntlet. Purists might say the feet would have been a better choice, but I was gambling on a couple of big hits killing the Tyrant and then being able to throw it at the other one. Sadly it wasn’t to be, with only one wound going through (although that did make for a cool 8 damage!). The rest of the phase saw the inevitable happen, with the Stealers ripping the Guardsmen to pieces, and the Gallant going down to the wounded Flyrant. Chris got my point as I was no longer defending 5, meaning I scored no cards, plus he’d gambled two on his turn and scored three. At this point he was something like 9-1 ahead as I’d only scored First Blood.
Things were looking tough, but the game was still very much all to play for. The first order of business was to take out the Hive Tyrants and the Genestealers. The Castellan moved up towards the Genestealers for a possible charge, while Guardsmen moved into First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire! range. Castellan shooting took out the wounded Tyrant and put 7 wounds on the other, while shooting reduced the Genestealers down to 6 guys. I was hoping that the Gallant could have charged the Genestealers, but instead he had to divert and finish off the Tyrant. Chris also pulled the closest ‘stealers away to stop the Castellan charging them, so no progress on clearing them out this turn. The Gallant kicked the Hive Tyrant to death, looming over the Genestealers without engaging them, and I finally picked up some points.
The final real point of interest was in turn 3. Chris moved his Genestealers forwards poised to charge my infantry, only to realise he had “Secure Objective 5” which they were sat on. Now that they were out of synapse and reduced in size they were vulnerable, and he chose not to charge. Unfortunately for him he’d put them forwards so that the Castellan was in range to Heroic Intervention, so it stomped in and kicked three of them to death, leaving just 3 on the board.
With all the big threats dead, the rest of the game consisted of the Knights stomping forwards slaying everything in their path. The Rippers had arrived on turn 3 and were dispatched by Cawl’s Wrath, which felt a little overkill, while Termagants were shelled relentlessly before taking the full force of a volcano cannon. The final confrontation was my Gallant kicking the Malanthrope to death, having crossed the whole board to do so:
Before this point the score was 18-20 against me, at the end of turn 5, so the final stamping out of the Malanthrope was vital as it scored me Assassinate, Kingslayer and Blood and Guts + my gambit points to swing me up to 26-20 for, and a tabling win.
Another game with a tough opening stage, and being so far back on points even when I was in the driving seat made it really tight. Chris played very well and maximised his points everywhere he could, and a poor result on that last combat for me (which the Knight tried to do, scoring only 6 wounds!) would have potentially clinched it for him.
That put me at 2-0 and playing on table 1 in the final game.
Game 3, vs Marley with Imperial Knights (Sealed Orders)
Game 1 went 7 turns. Game 2 went 5 turns. Game 3 went, uh, 1 turn.
Looking around me during game 2, I saw Eldar everywhere. There were Harlequins on table 3, Dark Eldar facing mixed Eldar/Dark Eldar on table 1, and somewhere lurking below that was One_Wing with his Eldar and gimmick Wraithknight. Instead of all those vicious space elves I played Marley’s Imperial Knights instead.
This was one of the few lists which had fewer drops than I did:
Knight Castellan (identical to mine except 2 siegebreakers instead of 1)
Knight Errant, thermal cannon and reaper chainsword
Knight Crusader, rapid-fire battle cannon and Avenger gatling cannon
I can see how he’d done well with this list, because it’s a lot of guns and a lot of T8 wounds, but from my point of view it had a significant weakness – it brought no screening at all.
He deployed his Castellan behind a bastion while I put mine centrally, his Errant hung out next to the Castellan, and his Crusader went over to my right flank to push that side.
The Gallants hung out to my left, with appropriate screening from his Errant in case it came rumbling forwards, and the game was on. Once again I went 2nd.
His shooting plinked off a squad of Guardsmen and put some wounds on the Gallants. He kept his Castellan back to the end, which forced me to wait and take the rest of the fire without rotating shields, which was smart play. Unfortunately it also meant he forgot to use Order of Companions, so when the Castellan fired it did so without the re-rolling 1s. I felt a little bad about this because I could have easily let it go, but it was also top table at a tournament and he shrugged and let it go. Realistically I don’t think it changes much – he only rolled two meaningful 1s which would have changed with the re-roll. He said afterwards that he would have focused one Gallant rather than shooting both had he had the stratagem up, but even then if you take the damage done to both Knights and add say, another 6, he doesn’t kill the primary Gallant and it staying alive was all I needed. In the event it only took 1 wound. He scored a couple of points and that was that.
My turn 1 rolled around, and the game basically ended there. I moved some Guardsmen up to score cards, and the primary Gallant rolled a cool 6 on his Advance roll to sprint 20″ up the board and into charge range of his Castellan. My Castellan – which did have Order of Companions! – blew up his Errant, before the Gallant charged and uppercutted his Castellan for a cool 32 damage. It blew up, and did 1 damage with the explosion, and at that point Marley shook my hand and we called the game.
I scored 5 points, and that was that. From start to finish the game was 20 minutes.
That left me on 3 wins with 49 victory points. Unfortunately the quick resolution of my game meant that I was out of the running for top spot by virtue of not scoring enough VPs, but it did mean I’d gone 3-0 on the day and 12-0 for the year, which was a nice result. After a couple of hours of waiting around, where I got to hang out with One_Wing for a while and chat with a bunch of other friends and acquaintances as they finished up their games, the results were announced – I was 3rd, which safely secured the overall league and got me free entry to the January version of the event. Having finished in the top places each time and earned store credit, and now gotten free entry overall, that means that I’ve actually paid to enter the event exactly once and then gone free to the rest – and this time I doubled up, since I got £10 store credit on top of a free entry. A good investment.
In terms of the list, it performed exactly as expected. It was fast, tough, overwhelming for people who couldn’t deal with the skew it presents, and great fun to play. I’d happily run it again at 1500pts. Unfortunately I doubt it will survive Chapter Approved – I expect every part of it to go up in points, particularly the Castellan and the Guardsmen. For next year’s events my team are giving ourselves a mono-codex challenge mode, so I’m looking forward to reviving the Crimson Fists.
Finally, for anyone in striking distance to Bristol, I fully recommend coming to Tides – it’s a great event played in a good spirit, with excellent terrain in a welcoming venue stuffed full of all the toys your wallet fears.