Tournament Report – Last Chance Open 2019 – Part 2

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Who am I kidding I love this.

Introduction

Part 1

Welcome back to my LCO report. We’re going to dive straight in and cover the rest of my games, then move onto my thoughts about the format and any tweaks I’m planning to make to my army for my next ITC event.

Day one finished off with a not-to-shabby 2-1 record – after surviving nearly being blown away by the wind overnight, could I come back and put in at least a 3-2, or maybe even push through to a 4-1? Lets find out!

Round 4 – Imperium

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

Custodes Vanguard
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Foot Shield Captain
Vexilus Praetor
2x Venerable Contemptor with Kheres
1x Venerable Contemptor with Multi-Melta
1x (Beta) Comtemptor Achilius with Spear
1x (Beta) Contemptor Exemplar with 2 CCWs
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Officio Assassinorum Vanguard
3x Vindicares
3x Eversors

Officio Assassinorum Vanguard
3x Callidus
2x Culexus

That’s…quite the list. We’d had access to our pairings overnight, and one of my teammates had played against this earlier and won fairly comfortably, but I was a bit intimidated. This is very much an “ITC” list – it gets tabled far too high a proportion of the time to be good in ETC, especially if your opponent can afford to focus solely on castling up and blowing you away, but the mobility and absurd level of threat it pushes can let it build a commanding lead in ITC, so it’s a force to be reckoned with.

The Mission

ITC Mission 4: What’s yours is mine.

Players each place one objective in their deployment zone and one in their opponent’s, getting a bonus for holding both of the ones they placed. In addition, there’s one in the centre.

Search and Destroy Deployment

Mixed bag here – the mission trends bad for me, as he’s likely to be pushing into my deployment zone long before I go in his. However, Search and Destroy (especially as there was a huge piece of terrain that blocked his dreads in the middle of the board) is very good, as it allows me to manage the threat of the dreads – if they all go one way, I can shift my whole army the other, if they split up, I can probably punch one flank and move that way, or use my flyers to alternate blocking flanks for a turn or two while I clear the dreads out.

The Plan

My feeling was that if I went first getting a win should be quite easy – I can loop the planes back round turn 2 to build an assassin proof fortress, and potentially not even get (for example) my Farseer out of his transport till the assassins come down t2, at which point I can hopefully identify where the threats are. The Vindicares are a bit of a problem, as with three of them there’s a very real prospect of my farseer getting popped as soon as he appears, and my warlock is vulnerable to.

The general plan, either way, is to manage the threats coming at me using movement as above, try and avoid getting wrecked too badly by assassins and make sure I don’t fall too far behind on objectives. With an eye to being able to castle up more, and because my opponent had a suitable army, I didn’t pick Recon here – I wanted to make sure that I could use my planes for blocking when needed, and not feel compelled to send them out.

My Secondaries

  • Kingslayer (the Shield Captain)
  • Headhunter
  • Big Game Hunter

His Secondaries

  • Recon
  • Behind Enemy Lines
  • Headhunter

The Summary

My opponent got the first turn, but thanks to my warlock being well hidden, mostly all that happened was a bunch of dreads came zooming up the board and my Autarch got popped for a few wounds by a Vindicare.

Here they come!

On my turn, I largely broke to the left and re-castled up. The Hemlock flew over to the on-board Vindicare and wasted it, while Doom and the rest of my shooting wasted the dread near the bottom of the ruin that you can see. After he was finished off my Wave Serpent was still to shoot, so I went for a bit of a hail mary and blew its shield (which was largely irrelevant in this game) to try and take out the banner bearer (along with its guns), but missed by 1W.

On his turn 2, predictably enough, assassin havoc broke out. Unfortunately I’d made a small mistake in my screening, and with a roll of 1 or 2 a Callidus could come in dangerously near to my warlock (and maybe even Farseer), which 2 of them duly did. In addition, it turned out the very top of that tower on the right above was just more than 9″ away from my Tank’s hull, so a Vindicare popped up there able to take pot shots too (though at least he was >12″ away from key targets). Other assassins popped up elsewhere, as the dreads got closer, with a single Eversor staying in reserve.

After all was said and done from a variety of assassin charges this turn, several of my small infantry units had been butchered, and my warlock had sadly died a Culexus related death, but largely things were still live – although my opponent had wasted several units, and got the bonus this turn. I did at least do a pretty good job of clearing out several assassins in my turn – the Farseer blew one Callidus clean away with Smite and Executioner, and the other got mopped up with shooting, and I’d also cunningly found that if I put my Farseer in the shadow of the turret of the Night Spinner, the Vindicare directly above him couldn’t see him, and didn’t want to move because where he was there was no space to assault him with my Autarch on bike. My character squad wasted an Eversor, and my planes swung round to block the right flank as I shrunk in from the left. I blew up the Exemplar this turn, and in the one time this event where explosions didn’t screw me over, it blew up and took the last wound off his Praetor.

Battle continues

My counterattack had been good but the game wasn’t over, as in turn 3 he continued to pull ahead on points – according to my notes, in battle round 3 he scored 5/5 on the primary mission, at least partially because when my guardians popped up in his backline they narrowly (by 1W) failed to take a Culexus off his home objective, then missed their charge. I did at least partially manage to stem the bleeding – I’d worked out that if I moved my raider up to engage the Vindicare, it was tall enough to parallel park within 1″ of his base, thus effectively taking him out of the game. I did at least waste another dread. Finally, my Hemlock had a creditable go at killing the shield captain, but missed finishing the job.

Luckily, in round 4 I managed to channel my inner Nick Nanivatti, and managed to use a number of different charge and combat phase tricks to suddenly swing things in my favour. His turn was OK – my falcon bit the dust, as did some of my guardians from the small squad when they got dread charged, but he low rolled sufficiently that I was able to use some pile in/consolidate shenanigans to get two within range of the objective he was trying to take in my zone. Then, in my turn, my guardians moved to stand right next to the Culexus, then many of them used their charge move to string out massively, again managing to obsec the objective in his zone (and punched the assassin to death), meaning that this turn I got the 5 points (though my Archon died to a melting down Eversor)!

From here, the rest of the battle was much more in my favour – on turn 5 my Hemlock finished the job on the Shield Captain, leaving my guardians holding two backline objectives uncontested while I tidied up the dreads. Eventually, my turn 6 consisted of my entire army trying to murder a Culexus and failing hilariously, but it didn’t matter – max points on five and six, especially as he missed a unit kill on 6, took the game for me.

The Takeaways

This was definitely the first game all weekend where I went “Oh I see, that’s why everyone loves ITC”. On paper, this should be a great matchup for me, but by using his army well, pushing for an early lead and maximising his objectives, my opponent was able to keep me right on the back foot all the way through turns 1-3, and if he’s done just a bit more damage, might have been able to stop me swinging through for  the win. I had to use every trick in the book to swing turn 4 in my favour, and felt like I’d earnt the win by playing the game well.

In terms of macro-strategy I think I played this correctly – with the minor failing of leaving a small sliver where a sufficiently low rolling Callidus could pop in, my plan largely went off. The only question mark was whether leaving the guardians in deep strike till 3 was correct – my feeling is that it was, because I didn’t want an Eversor getting amongst them, but equally I could have done the same drop I did on 3 on 2, and maybe started pulling ahead earlier. However, if the Eversor had then come in and eventually taken them out that would have been a complete (possibly game losing) disaster for me, especially because they didn’t succeed in killing the Culexus straight off, so on balance I think caution was correct here.

The Score

Primary: 21-14

Secondary: 12-12

Total: 33-26

Match Score: 3-1

Round 5 – Knights and (Nastier) Friends

The Competition

Army List - Click to expand

Raven Super Heavy Detachment
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Castellan (Cawl's, Ion Bulwark)
Gallant (Landstrider)
Gallant

Custodes Supreme Command
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3x Bike Captain (1 with Auric via strat).

Astra Militarum Battalion
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The loyal 32

My opponent also has a blog, so we swapped helpful photos!

Oof. 2 for 2 this weekend on knight lists where their special spice is quite good against me – I’m well practiced against Custodes on their own and generally view that matchup as favourable, but with knights they’re a very different kettle of fish, adding an anti-flyer dimension that’s really, really good against me. The Gallants at least should be more manageable than Crusaders are, so there’s at least some cost to the presence of the Custodes.

The Mission

ITC Mission 6: Crucible of Champions

Spearhead Assault Deployment

The deployment is nice, but the mission is horrendous for me – he has loads of mobile characters that are hard to kill, and I’ll end up boxed in my deployment zone for at least two turns whiel the Gallants die. Would vastly have preferred Precious Cargo (the other one we hadn’t played) here.

The Plan

The one bit of good news here is that the terrain was quite appealing for me, and I got to choose ends, meaning I could set up nice and defensively. The plan here is to draw the Gallants and captains in, ideally pop them off by turn 3, and then dominate the rest of the game on objectives. With this deployment, there’s no realistic chance of going after the Castellan early, and as long as I can burst down the other units that shouldn’t be the end of the world, as I can use my mobility to sweep forward once the melee threats are done.

One of his Gallants will inevitably be on the tip of the spear, so if I get to go first I can probably try and alpha it, but he underdrops me, so I’ll deploy assuming I’m going second.

My Secondaries

  • Recon
  • Kingslayer (Landstrider Gallant)
  • Titanslayer

His Secondaries

  • Big Game Hunter
  • Marked for Death
  • Old School

The Summary

As planned, and thanks to the great terrain, I went full cowardly.

Soooo sneaky. Also pictured – hateful Pepsi Max, ruining my Diet Coke Lyfe

My opponent went first, and with an advance on the Castellan was just able to get a shot at the Raider and CH, while the gallants and shield captains roared up the board. I obviously lightning fasted my plane and the Volcano lance streaked harmlessly by, but four Cawl’s wrath wounds went into my Raider, and I failed all the saves. I went for the 1/3 re-roll, as it would be worth two whole points if I made it, but sadly it was not to be. I also Vected Oathbreaker Guidance, and rolled a 6, which was a nice bonus!

Sadly, my luck didn’t hold at all – in my turn I missed Jinx on the closest Gallant, and thanks to my opponent making a great string of exact rolls of 4 towards the end of my shooting, it lived on 7W, losing me a VP for a kill and giving him a point.

At least in his turn my Hemlock blocked off that Gallant, and the other came forward to smash my Venom (which was planned for). Sadly, his turn was extremely murderous, with both CHs getting wasted (one by the Castellan, the other by Custodes charges, the second one dying exactly after I lightning fasted to try and save it X_X). At least in my turn I was able to deploy the guardian bomb and my character squad to murder his Landstrider Gallant, him being out of CP to interrupt, but my shooting trying to finish off the other one completely whiffed, and I was very much into “I’ve lost” mode.

That turned out to be a bit premature, as entire turn 3 largely whiffed as well. Two of his shield captains came forward, but didn’t do that much (my autarch creeping through a charge with 1W left thanks to a re-roll on a save), and his Castellan spent the whole turn finishing off the Hemlock. Crucially, in the fight phase, his 5W gallant failed to take out my Wave Serpent – he only got two wounds through with the chainsword, and I made one of the 6+ saves to survive without even being profiled. Then, to kick off proceedings on my turn 3, my farseer, having carefully lined up so that his smite went into Gallant, rolled an 11, then 5 wounds on the D6 to obliterate it outright. When I think followed this up by killing both of the shield Captains that were in my lines, it suddenly became clear that we actually had a game left.

From here, things were extremely tactical. He wisely kept his remaining SC back to score the bonus on 4, but his Castellan completely whiffed, leaving my Falcon on a sliver of wounds left and letting it limp back behind a building to live out the rest of the game and deny him a point. Meanwhile, I rushed my gank squad forward and thanks to having doomed the guard squad on the central objective (given there were no better targets) managed to completely wipe them, taking hold and kill more in combination with a company commander sitting alone on an objective suddenly finding himself the closest model to my Night Spinner and having a very, very bad time.

The last two turns were incredibly tense, and big plays were made on both sides. The dice were probably a bit kinder to me here, and I got a few good breaks, such as my big guardian squad ending up on 1 model remaining after morale, forcing him to waste another turn of fire to guarantee the kill, but equally his guardsmen managed to shoot my Autarch off an objective when I really wanted him to live, and I kept just missing charge/advance numbers I needed. On the very last turn, he had a shield captain in my lines that I wanted out to claim an objective and stop him getting linebreaker, and just managed to do it, leading us to a very tense tot up of points, especially because he hadn’t been able to max his secondaries thanks to my warlord hiding in a ruin and my guardians/falcon limping through. In the end, he’d narrowly edged it – but from a game I was sure I was clean out of turn 2, it was very nearly an incredible comeback.

The Takeaways

Following on from the last game, this made me see why people love ITC so much – after an disastrous start, I’d recovered to a situation where if I pushed everything to the limit and made all the right calls, I was actually still in with a chance. My opponent gave as good as he got in that regard, and this was one of the most intense games of 40K I’ve played for a while (and shout out to my opponent for letting me take back a key thing I forgot to do in a brain fart at a crucial moment even when victory might have been on the line).

Because this game was so close, I’ve been going over it with the benefit of hindsight, and I think I made a few key mistakes that I should remember:

  • (the biggest): Recon was the wrong pick here. As far as I am concerned, there’s no path through this game where I win and the shield captains are alive at the end, and picking off one CoCo on top of that isn’t a big ask, so I should have picked Headhunter. While I did max it,  picking Recon forced me to send my Crimsons up the board turn 1, where they were brutally murdered by an advancing Castellan getting in range of 1, and Shield Captains ganking another. Really I wanted them at my end of the board criss-crossing turn 1.
  • I should have used “Screaming Jets” to put my Venom with Kabalites in deep strike. In this mission/map, there’s a good chance a CoCo ends up on an objective alone (they did), and the loaded Venom with a shredder kills one on average, which might have let me stem the points bleed a bit.
  • I dropped my guardians on the wrong side of the Gallant (they came in towards my board edge). I was playing on tilt at this point, and was thinking about keeping them safe, but really they needed to come out swinging to try and get me back in the game – keeping them safe wasn’t enough.
  • I deployed the Raider on the wrong side of the board. If I’d kept it in my castle with the rest of my units it might have denied him 2pts.

Of these, I think if I’d made the right choice with secondaries I might have had a winning path through the game – there’s a good chance I still lose 1 CH on turn 2, but that’s a lot better than both. The rest are more minor things, but all points I want to remember for the future.

The Score

Primary: 16-22

Secondary: 11-9 (I missed the last point of titanslayer, he missed one Marked for Death and two Old School (LB and Slay)

Total: 27-31

Matches: 3-2

Final Score

3-2 on Matches

20th place out of 97 (I came near the top of the 3-2s, my SoS was ridiculous as 3/5 of my opponents top-10ed)

I feel like on another day I could have got 4-1, but as an intro to ITC I’ll take that, and while I got a bit unlucky in 3 and 5, I have to remember that I got extremely good luck in game 2.

Army Thoughts

What Worked?

The Army

Here in all their glory.

This army basically works in ITC, so that’s nice! I’m definitely starting to get a feel for how ITC differs from ETC in terms of what’s good, and I think the key thing that matters a bit more is the ability to push some sort of threat into the middle of the board. While my army doesn’t do anything as serious as a knight in that regard, I’ve basically got two turns worth of “distractions” I can throw into the centre while the rest of my army works if I need to, these being the Wave Serpent and the character squad. The only major flaw is realising half way through that I actually can be BGHed and MFDed in the same match, which is somewhat annoying.

The Character Squad

Worth calling attention to them again – they usually died, but the caused havoc on the way, and in several games they stuck around for a good few turns, creating the kind of mayhem my army needs to give it a window to win. These’ll definitely be staying. They killed a Gallant in melee game 5, how metal is that?

The only slight change I’m wondering about is that next time I see a knight, I might give the Succubus the “Stim Addict” warlord trait via AoA rather than Hyper Swift-Reflexes. Taking +1S as well as +1A puts her to 7, and what that means against Knights is that if you start the battle round in a position to get a charge off, you can use the Hyperstim Backlash strat to push her to S8 and 6A for a round, which combined with Doom, sticks a healthy 8-10 wounds on a knight compared to the 4-6 she normally averages. What I’ve found is that once she’s gone in against a knight even the 3++ isn’t usually (unless I have game 2’s dice) good enough to keep her alive when it falls back and shoots, so having the ability to “detonate” her for truly absurd amounts of damage is worth considering. It’s good against Talos as well, as their Chain Flails are ideally statted to chew through a 3++ anyway, and with S7 she’s wounding them on 4s anyway. This may turn out to be a pipe dream, as the timing on the strat is very restrictive, I need to do it at the start of a battle round and (thanks to FAQs) with her not in a transport at the time, but I think it’s worth testing.

The Night Spinner

Yessssss. The Night Spinner is my new strong friend, and I am planning to paint up another one as soon as possible. It basically played out how I wanted – it’s cheap and disposable, and now almost always makes back its points in a game, with a chance to do some absurd spikes. I should bear in mind that I think I was rolling slightly above average with it all weekend (I remember a couple of 11 shotters going off, and don’t think I rolled less than a 5), so need to monitor it to ensure it’s still good in general, but for now I’m on team Night Spinner.

The Guardian Bomb

It’s even better in ITC. Yay.

ITC Missions

OK fine I like them. Spam me with pictures of crying bald eagles in front of flags. Games 4 and 5 really showed off what ITC can do, and while I still enjoy ETC, I definitely want to get some more ITC in my diet alongside it.

What Didn’t Work?

The Falcon

I kind of knew going in from my playtesting that unless something had been going very strangely in those games, I’d come out of this wanting to swap the Falcon for another Night Spinner, but didn’t have time to paint another one up.

I do want to swap the Falcon for another Night Spinner. It wasn’t completely horrible, and I think they’re fine for casual games now, but it just wasn’t going anything well enough to justify its presence.

Pushing Ground

While (as outlined above) my army does OK at holding ground for a bit, I definitely felt I was in a “fighting retreat” for several of these games, and if I could find a way to put a bit more pressure on without compromising the core design of the army that would be good. Another Wave Serpent or a melee threat would do it.

ITC Terrain Rules

I said I like the missions. Fully enclosed buildings are still hot garbage that has no place in the game, and while I appreciate the change to charging in buildings, the rules need to be re-written to not be internally contradictory (currently they say “if any part of the base can fit you can charge” but also “small protrusions like a windowsill don’t allow a model to be placed” only one of these can be true).

That’s all. Moving on.

So Where Next?

I enjoyed this enough to change some of my tourney plans such that my next event is another ITC one, the new LWG (London Wargaming Guild) Open being held at the start of March. This should be an extremely crunchy field (given it’s home field for Team Draco) and I look forward to taking another swing at the format.

Based on the way things went, the following goals are things I’d like to be able to achieve with my list:

  • Add some emergency mobility
  • Add another Night Spinner
  • Deny max points on MFD and Big Game.
  • Add another Wave Serpent

I obviously can’t achieve all of these, but I’ve worked out a few “packages” I can pull off:

Option 1 – The Obvious Changes

Out: Falcon, Dire Avengers, 7 Kabalites

In: Night Spinner, Rangers, 7 Wracks

This is most likely what I’ll do for the LWG Open, as it makes some of the obvious swaps and fits neatly into 2K points with the two “spare” I had in my current list.

Trading the Falcon for the Spinner is a no brainer as above. At that point, we don’t want to be deploying footslogging Avengers, so the Rangers come in, which also gives me another thing to Deep Strike in some games, while still contributing to a Doom/Jinx gank thanks to MWs.

Finally, the Raider Kabalites become Wracks, specifically Prophets of Flesh Wracks. This gives me just one infantry unit that won’t melt to anything (thanks to T5 if near my Haemi), and allows me to access the “Black Cornucopia” strategem (Tide of Traitors for PoF wracks), which can be incredibly good if (as often happened with this unit) the transport gets blown then most of the models die. It would also have been great just in general in the two games I lost – putting some Wracks into the backfield to go after the mortars in 3 or a company commander in 5 could have been really great.

Option 2 – A Bit Deeper

Out: Falcon, Venom, 7 Kabalites, Shredder on Venom Squad

In: Wave Serpent, Dire Avengers (no second gun), 6 Wracks

This list consciously trades in a bit of the artillery of the above, and flanking mobility from the current list (which I found good but less clutch than in ETC) to allow me to get a second Serpent to ram into the middle of the board and make a nuisance of itself. D2 weapons are still such a massive part of the metagame that the Serpent Shield is outrageously great, and this option would allow me to stall the board centre for a lot longer (but at the cost of having less powerful fire flowing in). I think I’d probably rather try out a 2 Spinner list first

Option 3 – Tinkering

Out: Falcon, Small Guardian Squad, 7 Kabalites

In: Night Spinner, 5 Dire Avengers, 7 Wracks, upgrade Farseer to Skyrunner, scatter some upgrades around.

This is the other option I might end up running, depending on how much testing time I can get and if I can paint up a second Bikeseer on top of the wracks. Having the Farseer on a bike would free up a relic slot to buy my warlock the Phoenix Gem against lists with Oathbreaker missiles, or the Shimmerplume on my Autarch against anything else, and the smaller guardian unit didn’t always do that much. In addition, one of their main failings is that they often can’t fully contribute to a turn 1 gank thanks to 12″ range, whereas Dire Avengers usually can.

I’ll probably try the other list first, but if I manage to get playtesting in will definitely try this too.

Option Double Secret Bonus

I want to try that Wraithknight list I put in my Eldar changes review. Based on having played a tournament of it, I think “giant central melee threat” + “loads of Venoms” actually might have legs in ITC in a way that it might not in ETC.

Some day. Some day.

Wrap Up

That’s it from me for now – expect to see my pop back up with a GSC Codex review on (presumably) 2nd February. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and if Tournament Reports are your speed, I’ll have one for a local event (1750 ITC champs) in early February, then a preview and 2 part write-up of the LWG Open in early March, followed by a return to ETC-style fun with Battlefield Birmingham in mid-March (where I need to avenge my terrible 2-3 record last time).

Thanks for reading!

 

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