Ok maybe ITC is good. I might be willing to admit that.
Welcome to my tournament report for the Last Chance Open 2019, my first major event of 2019 and my first proper crack at the ITC champions pack. For those just joining us, last week I wrote a preview article covering my army list and my thoughts about how it would perform in the format. That means that today we can jump straight into my games, where for each round we’ll be covering:
- 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.
Unfortunately this time around the lists are contained in Best Coast Pairings rather than easily accessible in a public doc, so I’ll be summarising what my opponents had in each case. The event was BCP sponsored, so the lists will be publicly available in the app for at least the next few days, so you can get the full details there if you need them.
Of course, if you don’t want to be spoiled on how I did in each round I highly recommend you don’t do that just yet, and stick with us as we get right into the excitement…
Round 1 – Tau
Army List - Click to expand
Tau Sept Battalion
3x Fire Warrior squads
3x Riptides (HBC, SMS, Target Lock, ATS)
2x Broadsides (HRR, SMS, Shield Generators, single unit)
10x Shield Drones
5x Shield Drones
Tau Sept Battalion
3x Fire Warrior Squads
3x Firesight Marksman
This is a relatively standard Tau list, but there are a couple of things worth drawing attention to:
- 2x Fusion Coldstars – A lot of people have switched to running 1 + Shadowsun, or a bare bones “buff commander” as a second one. This means I have to be very careful about screening out my characters, as assassinating my Farseer in particular would be extremely good for him.
- No velocity trackers on the Riptides. Tau player opinion still seems to be slightly split on this, but this is great news for me, as Alaitoc is the matchup where you really want the trackers – without them I can use Lightning Fast to literally no-sell a round of shooting on one of my planes if he targets one without enough markerlights, and…
- He’s a little short on markerlights. I really like Ben Bone’s (of Tabletop Tactics fame) build of mixing and matching marker and shield drones in units to get some extra in. He’s heavily leaning on the Sa’cea strat and the uplinked marker strat to land them, and I have the option on Vecting these.
ITC Scenario 1 – Seize Ground. 6 objectives, bonus point if you hold or contest five in a turn.
Dawn of War deployment.
On balance, the mission favours me here, while the deployment slightly doesn’t (in the abstract anyway) – against his list, Hammer and Anvil or Spearhead Assault would let me backline out of range of his riptides, forcing him to break up his castle to come out and play. However, the fact that he does want to be in a castle is good for me on the mission, as I’ve got a lot more mobility.
Also, I turned up to my table and this was the terrain waiting for me.
I took that as a good omen.
With the terrain as it is, I have the luxury of deploying extremely defensively, and can outright hide the units that are usually a bit of a liability against Tau like the Venom The terrain being this dense actually swaps Dawn of War to favouring me, because I can hide my units out of LOS if I go second and have range to pounce out and alpha strike if I go first.
The key think I absolutely need to do is take out the big unit of shield drones as soon as possible, and ensure that I don’t set up a good opportunity for his Coldstars to take out my characters. With that in mind, if I go first the plan is to stick doom and jinx on the drones and waste them with as many of my D2 weapons as possible (everything’s coming up Night Spinner already). I’ll leave the Crimson Hunters to last, because if the drones do die hopefully at least one Riptide will be exposed, and they don’t need doom to get the re-roll wounds on them.
I also want to set up my overwatch denying characters into position to charge the broadsides as early as possible, which will effectively take them out of the game. From there, on my second turn I Doom and Jinx a Riptide and end it with the Guardian Bomb, hopefully mop up whichever one I started on T1 with the Crimsons, and roll the game from there. I also want to keep an eye out for opportunities to waste his commanders with planes – because they don’t have shield gens, any plane should comfortably waste one in a single turn of shooting.
This plan honestly doesn’t change that much if I go second – I’m comfortable that he can’t really kill enough through prepared positions, Lightning Fast and me Vecting his marker bomb to seriously cripple me, and probably even has to move out a bit to do it properly.
The biggest risk is if he plays very cannily with his Coldstars, keeping them in his lines behind screens and taking pot shots at my stuff as I get closer (because I do want to come to him). I genuinely wondered about giving him first turn (if I won the roll) to try and bait him into Mont’kaing them out to me, but decided he was unlikely to fall for that and that I had enough chance to pop a Riptide outright going first that I couldn’t turn it up, and getting my guardian bomb in early would help.
- Marked For Death (Riptides and Broadside Squad)
- Butcher’s Bill
I got the first turn, and started enacting the plan as above. The Wave Serpent and Raider moved forward to build a defensive hole for my characters next to the big rock in the middle, which my Farseer and Autarch flew into. The Warlock punched slightly further forward, still within 6 of the Farseer, so as to get range on the drones, which he’d sensibly backlined. Jinx and Doom went off, as did a guide on the Night Spinner, and a random smite on the Broadsides from the Hemlock. The Venom went up the right to distract the Fire Warriors while I dealt with his castle, and hopefully kill a few of them before dying..
In the shooting phase, the Warlock shot his shurikens ineffectually at the nearest riptide, then used Fire and Fade to zip 7″ back into the safety bubble, his jinxing done. The Hemlock, Night Spinner and a few other things then blew the shield drones clean off the board, Jinx, Guide, Doom and the magic of D2 weapons doing their filthy work. Both Crimson Hunters thus got to shoot at an unshielded Riptide, but his 5++ saves ran quite hot and it was only lightly scratched. The Venom also underperformed against the Fire Warriors, but held me an objective and a quarter for Recon, so thoroughly did it’s job.
In his turn, he Kau’yoned with one of his commanders (which was honestly fine for me as that commander was > 18″ away from any of my stuff, moved the fire warriors up to engage the Venom and positioned the other commander to take pot shots at my Hemlock (but had to be outside 12″ to stay safe from swooping red murder planes). I Vected the marker bomb, and Lightning Fasted the Hemlock once it was targeted with a markerlight, and all of this paid off – he ended up with no lights on the Hemlock, and only managing four on my Wave Serpent, which he had picked as his priority target. The Riptides and Broadsides still managed to kill it, but really only just, leaving my army relatively unscathed. The only heart in mouth moment for me came when his commander shot at my Hemlock, and got three hits and wounds despite being at -3 to hit. Luckily his damage lowballed slightly, and I rolled a few successes on FNPs, so the Hemlock stayed a going concern.
Some SMS shots wasted my squad of Kabalites near the Archon, and over the far side the Venom got narrowly blown up by hails of Pulse Fire (it was very close to pulling through, I think literally his last shot took it out). Because I’d only taken out the drones, he got “Kill More” and I got “Hold More”.
However, the plan was entirely live at this point, and I went in for the kill. My Autarch and the Drukari characters swept up to his right flank ready to lock down the Broadsides (and would be able to tag a Riptide as well), leaving the Succubus only needing to take FTGG from a single commander, which she should be able to tank thanks to her 3++. Meanwhile, the guardian bomb dropped in next to a Doomed, Jinxed Riptide, while the second squad went over to help kill some Kabalites. The Hemlock also managed to land next to the Ethereal, and halve his wounds with a Smite.
In the shooting phase, the Night Spinner and a few other minor things tidied up the remaining things, the Hemlock executed the Ethereal, then the Guardian Bomb eviscerated a Riptide (I think with a few pot shots of help from elsewhere). I also put some considerable damage onto a second one. The only slight disappointment was that the Guardians and Kabalites on the right flank kind of messed things up, not really depleting the Fire Warriors that much and thus looking dangerously vulnerable. In the combat phase, my charges went off, and a Broadside went down and the second was badly hurt.
At this point the game is heavily in my favour, but his second turn was OK – his infantry on the right flank punched back at least somewhat against my guardians (though the platform did a good job tanking) while his badly wounded Riptide used the “act on full strategem”, allowing the two to work together to blow away my guardian bomb (I’d saved CP for “Celestial Shield”, but the 4++ did naff all as my rolls were horrible). The commanders were forced to prioritise making my Autarch and Haemoculus dead in order to avoid getting completely locked out of the game, but that stopped them from being able to go out and menace my CHs.
Turn 3 let me put the fix in fully. While I’d lost the main guardian bomb, I was able to land a CH next to each of his commanders and take them both out, while another Riptide crumpled under Jinx/Doom assisted assault, and the last was stripped down to a princely single wound. Also, while my overwatch deniers were dead, a nice solid wall next to the remaining Broadside let my Succubus play an extremely violent game of peekaboo with over this and the next few turns till it finally died.
All this combined to make his holding of the right flank an entirely temporary affair – unable to even Nova Charge his Riptide, he did almost nothing to me on his turn 3, and by the end of my turn 5 he had only a handful of models left on the table, and we called it a day and racked up points.
Woo, I won my first ITC tournament game. Fairly comfortably as well.
Honestly a lot of factors here favoured me heavily, so it’s nothing to get too worked up about. The terrain, mission and specific unlucky wargear choices on his end all conspired to make this abit less threatening than Tau games can be, and especially once my first turn allowed me to clear out the Shield Drones, this was always looking pretty good for me.
It’s always worth thinking about things you could have done better, even in decent wins, and I think I made a mistake in under-committing to the right flank here. I could probably have borne to start the Raider over there as well, and accepted that I was going to have to move the Falcon in this game to be a moving Coldstar shield. This might have given me enough firepower to actually meaningfully take the flank rather than merely running distraction for a few turns, while also keeping the Raider away from the Riptide fire.
Overall though very happy with how this went – I had a plan, stuck to it, and it worked.
Match Score: 1-0
Round 2 – Imperium
Army List - Click to expand
Canoness (+ Shield of Faith warlord trait, Deny Aura Relic)
5 Arco Flagellants
3x5 Battle Sisters
Watch Captain w/jump pack, master crafted boltgun, Beacon Angelis
3x absurd veteran squads, which were
- Sergeant, Black Shield and 3x vets, all with storm bolters and storm shields.
- Van vet with chainsword and bolt pistol.
- Two Terminators (one in the last squad to squeeze points) with Power Maul and Storm Bolter
House Krast Super Heavy Auxiliary
Crusader w/ RFBC, Gatling Cannon, Ironstorm Rockets and the Krast Relic (+1 damage on all shots to vehicles).
No more “safe” lists here – this was being run by very strong player from the legendary team Draco. I played against an embryonic form of the Deathwatch elements of this list a while back with my Necrons when another member of Draco was trying it out, but at that time it was too overpriced to quite come together. With the Chapter Approved point changes, especially the major drop on Storm Shields, this list is now incredibly legit – the veteran squads are quite cheap for what they do, as they can absolutely destroy some targets and are a nightmare to shift. I am at least probably one of the worse matchups for this part of the list, as my planes can help to screen out their deep strike zones, and as long as I don’t let him get “the jump” on my guardians there aren’t any targets where they can reliably immediately make their points back.
I’m delighted to see the Sisters component out to play, since it’s a bunch of the stuff i was very hot on in my review. The exorcists can potentially do some nasty work against me too, though they’re at risk of getting rammed and locked down if they’re not careful. The deny relic and strategems have the potential to be a massive thorn in my side.
The Crusader is obviously good, but not a gigantic concern. The Krast relic is very good against me, but my experience has been that attrition from a RFBC crusader is something I can afford to suck up thanks to Alaitoc and Lightning Fast if there are better targets to go for first.
ITC Mission 3 – Nexus Control – four objectives, hold all four for a bonus point
Hammer and Anvil Deployment
This is pretty good for me – Hammer and Anvil is very helpful for building a nice, rolling wave of Drop Zone denial, and also allows me to force his knight to move to get the Gatling in range. I’ve also got the mobility to go push objectives, where he kind of doesn’t
I want to deploy nice and far back here, relying on mobility to push forward and attack if I go first, but drawing his stuff, especially the knight, closer to me if he wants to use it to full effect. Because he wants the Exorcists to be standing still, there’s only so far away they can go if I huddle along the back of the board.
I really want to go first in this one, because with two turns to play with I can build an outrageously huge bubble where no nasty veterans can come in. If I do go first, I’m expecting to largely ignore the knight for the first few turns, and pop Exorcists instead. The Doom/Jinx combo that’s normally aimed at knights is actually more important here for allowing me to delete the veteran squads one at time – if I can get them off the board with my guardians still “live” he’ll have real trouble pushing me out of the game.
If I go second and he does choose to bring his knight forward withing 36″ the maths changes considerably – at that point I probably want to try and alpha strike that first (with the full Doom, Jinx, Vect on Rotate dunk), as I won’t have as long to pick off other things before the veterans appear, and need to cut out the threat the knight represents if there’s a chance I’m on the back foot. If he chooses to backline it and only snipe with the RFBC I instead swing hard to whichever flank is away from it, engaging other stuff first and reverting to something more like the first turn plan.
- Marked for Death (Exorcists + the 8-man veteran squad)
- Kingslayer (the Knight)
- Butcher’s Bill
- Old School
- Big Game Hunter
I set up and the knight fully back-lined, meaning we were on plan a.) pretty much whatever happened. My army swung up the board and started taking out infantry and hitting the Exorcists, with one getting taken out but some decent shield of faith saves saving the second.
However, I can’t really talk about luck on saves for this game, because mine was absolutely outrageous, to the point where the rest of this was a bit of a wash. He narrowly blew away my Falcon for a kill turn 1, but missed taking out my raider by a single wound, meaning he missed “Butcher’s bill” and “Kill More”. On my turn 2 I zipped around my planes, building an absurdly large anti-drop zone, and while I didn’t kill any more exorcists, I badly hurt the one further from me and shut the closer one down with a charge (also managing to get within a whisker of the fourth objective with a guardian to take the bonus for a turn).
His turn 2 did an alright job of pushing my stuff off objectives, and one squad of vets did come in in the bottom left to waste my venom and threaten my backline. However, my saves against Knight shooting continued outrageous, and other than my small guardian squad being perfunctorily deleted by the arco-flagellants, my army wasn’t meaningfully scratched (though he did take Kill and Hold more in this round).
My turn 3 counterattack was brutal though – my other guardians came in and deleted the Flagellants and a bunch of sisters, while my psykers, Autarch and Wave Serpent swung back to deal with the veteran squad. Between psychic powers, the shooting from the Serpent and Night Spinner and some Starcannons from one hunter, and finally an Autarch charge, I wiped the squad, and getting the charge off put the autarch far enough into the corner to completely close off my end of the board.from further drops (and had also kept the guardians at least out of rapid fire range). Meanwhile, other shooting and charges from my Drukari characters wiped the remaining exorcists, and the Hemlock sniped the Canoness to turn off her pesky deny power.
This left him only able to drop in at his end of the board to see if the Deathwatch could punch their way out of this. Unfortunately, given my dice continued to be totally outrageous, they couldn’t – at one point my Succubus managed to come through being shot with an Avenger Gatling cannon taking no damage at all. While he did a great job squeezing out as many points as possible by using clever moves to put units on objectives, I was able to start work on dunking the knight on four, butcher the veteran squad that came to try and mess with my characters, then gradually chew through what he had left until only the Watchmaster remained on turn 6
Honestly this was a bit rough, because the matchup was interesting and it could have been a great game, but the dice were so outrageously in my favour that it didn’t feel like one. We had a nice chat after the game about my list – my opponent had been a bit unimpressed by it before the game, but was more favourable having seen it in action, and he did a great job playing his army – despite the dice, my margin of victory here wasn’t that huge, and he did a good job maximising his turns of holding or killing more.
I think my strategy was sound here again, but I did start to pick up a weakness I need to correct for ITC, in that I needlessly dropped a few points to not leaving quite enough on what should have been a “save” objective at the end of my turn. That’ll should come with practice, and writing it down will help me focus on it for next time!
Match Score: 2-0
Round 3 – Knights and Friends
Army List - Click to expand
Raven Super Heavy
Castellan (Ion Bulwark, Cawl's Wrath)
Crusader (Sainted Iron)
Warden (Endless Fury)
(possible warlord traits on those two, can't remember for sure.)
2 CoCos (one with Kurov's)
2 Infantry Squads
1 Scion squad with a Plasma Gun, Volley Gun and Plasma Pistol
2 Mortar Squads
2 Ranger Squads with 1 Arquebus
1 Vanguard Squad
The Graia battalion is a neat addition to the standard here, and quite good against me – they’re one of the factions that gets a “deny on a 4+” strat, which can most certainly ruin my day. It does mean that the second Crusader you might more conventionally see in this list has to get downgraded to a warden, which reduces the threat level somewhat. On balance I’d rather the Graia stuff wasn’t there though. Getting to heal Knights is also nice for him, though not super relevant as the goal is for them to exist in binary “alive” or “blown to smithereens”, and if I narrowly miss he’ll buff using the “Machine Spirit Resurgent” strat (which I am more and more starting to think is another place where the +1CP cost hammer should fall).
Cut to the Heart – 1 centre objective, one placed by each player in their own zone (which ended up on opposite quarters).
Front-line Assault deployment.
On balance this is in my favour – I prefer to face multi-knight lists on DOW or Front-line, as it forces them to spread out more. The mission is relatively unlikely to affect much in my judgement – this’ll come down to a slug fest.
Realistically the plan is our standard for knights – deploy outside of charge range, hope to go first and kill the juiciest target. Here that’s clearly the Crusader, especially as it’s eligible for Kingslayer. Sometimes it might be right to try and alpha the Castellan with the full Vect, Doom, Jinx etc., but here that’s not going to work, because he’ll be able to set up Admech to throw the strat at one of my powers, and I don’t think I can afford to use Vect twice to try and push the kill through, because if I then miss I’ll get destroyed utterly on the crack back. Better to go for the more vulnerable Crusader first – if it dies it should still heavily deplete the firepower I face.
- Kingslayer (the Crusader)
- Big Game Hunter
- Marked for Death (I realised as we were going through my list for this one that I’d totally missed my guardians being an eligible target for this in my preview. Doh!)
- Old School
I went first, used Vect to push Jinx onto the Crusader through the deny strategem (a minor mistake – given I was only willing to use it once, I should have waited for the rotate, as the strat has a chance to fail!), also doomed it then blew it clean off the table, along with some infantry, a few more of whom died in the explosion. My Wave Serpent was also in position to block the Warden (almost certainly in a terminal sacrificial fashion, but whatever. Things were looking good! My venom also popped up the right flank to start harassing his infantry over there.
Most of the way through his first turn things also looked pretty OK – his shooting did some stuff (blew my raider clean up, allowing the characters inside to get in position threatening to heroic the Castellan if it didn’t charge), but very manageable amounts (I vected an Oathbreaker missile that would have gone after my farseer). The warden charged the serpent as predicted and narrowly missed the kill on the main attacks, but finished the job with Death Grip. This is where things started to go wrong, as the Serpent exploded, the six remained after a CP reroll, and the explosion just clipped my warlock, and promptly rolled 3 wounds to kill him. This was obviously incredibly improbable and a massive setback. Over the far side, the Castellan stomped my Haemoculus (and marking yet another game where I forgot to use his once per game reroll on the save for the attack that was going to kill him because you may as well and holy crap I apparently just can’t get this plan into my head), taking negligible damage in return from the Succubus.
Unfortunately my luck stayed on a bad downturn the next battle round, and I missed the cast of Doom even after farseer re-rolls, and the Jinx from the Hemlock was strategemed away, with the upshot that I missed the kill on the warden by a few wounds, as the Guardian bomb were both missing Doom, missing Guide (I failed the cast too) and low rolled. I also messed up enormously – I’d been hugely careful with positioning my warlord because of the waiting Scions, but fucked up and put my Farseer somewhere that they could drop in and shoot at him (he’d also lost a few wounds to the Wave Serpent explosion earlier). I left the Succubus in combat and she took a few more wounds off the Castellan, but again slightly underperformed, as did her saves on the response (even with a CP reroll), leaving her clinging to life on a single wound after FNPs.
From here things went from bad to worse, and he deleted my Succubus with the melta from the Castellan, then deleted the Night Spinner, which naturally blew up, taking my Farseer down another two wounds, just enough for him to get popped by the Scions, as his saves were running quite good but not good enough when he’d lost four wounds to explosions.
After that disaster of a turn, I was never quite able to get back into it. I did kill the second knight and put some wounds onto the Castellan, and murdered most of his infantry, but there was still a Castellan standing King-Kong like on the centre of the board once pretty much all my stuff was dead at the end of turn 6.
Man, this one hurt a lot. I was very happy with my turn 1, and other than the minor mistake with the strategem, was following a tried and true plan that works with this list against knights. Unfortunately, the end of his turn 1 and my two were such a screaming cascade failure that I went from looking incredibly well positioned to a fairly significant defeat. Losing the Farseer was obviously a big mistake, but I would almost certainly have gotten away with even that positioning mistake if he hadn’t only been on a single wound – unless I botch multiple overcharged plasma saves I don’t think his average dakka gets me. Even then, if there’d only been the Castellan left I could probably have coped, but an extra turn of the Warden acting on full and butchering stuff was just absolutely game over.
The only other thing I think I should have done differently is killed his mortars earlier – at one point towards the end I put the Starcannon Crimson Hunter into them because I needed to get a kill and stem the bleeding a bit, and it just deleted 5/6 bases instantly, leaving me going “huh, maybe I should have done that a while ago”. Perhaps when I missed Doom I should have assumed I wasn’t getting the Knight kill and tidied them up at this point. Another thing I could have done (this also comes up in a later game) is put the Venom with the small Kabalite squad with the Shredder in Deep Strike via Screaming jets – I believe that on dropping in they average 2 and a bit dead mortar bases depending on how the Shredder rolls, and they didn’t do that much on their flank – one of the hangovers from being used to ETC missions is that in that there’s almost always intrinsic value to having something in every table quarter in case an objective there comes “live”, which just was not true here – I could safely have ignored that quarter for pretty much the whole game if I’d wanted to.
Even if I’d done all of these things I still think I would have lost after the chain of disasters early on, but my margin of defeat was big but not wildly unreasonable, so I could probably have at least made it close with some tighter decisions. Planning for a failed Doom is definitely an area to work on.
My opponent went on to place very well, and he was a wonderful guy to play against – definitely someone I’d love to get a rematch against in a future event!
Match Score: 2-1
Day 1 Wrap Up
A bit of a sad end to day 1, but overall not a start I could complain about (I definitely felt I’d been paid back hard for my luck in game 2 though!). At this point, I still wasn’t totally sure how I felt about ITC – none of the games had felt like they’d gone that differently than they would have done under ETC style missions – but I was certainly having fun, and keen to see if I could power through the next day and put in a respectable placing. How did that go? Tune back in later in the week to find out.