Tournament Report – Winter Tides of War 2019 – March of the Crimson Fists

This past Sunday was the first in the 2019 edition of our store’s local tournament, the Tides of War. This is a quarterly series of one-day events, with 3 games played at 1,500pts. It’s all played with Maelstrom missions, Dawn of War deployment, and no special characters, so it’s a bit different to other events, but a fun day out. No-one knew what missions we were playing until the day of, but it turned out to be 3 of the new Chapter Approved 2018 ones – at which point chaos ensued since no-one knew how they worked.

Last year I played in all 4 of the series and came 3rd, 3rd, 2nd and 3rd, which meant I was the series winner and got into this one for free! A handy bonus for taking gimpy lists all year – you can read my report from the final tournament of last year here. This year I can’t make all of them thanks to other commitments, and my friend had challenged our team to take mono-faction builds to raise the difficulty level a bit, so I decided to bring out the Space Marines.

Crimson Fists were my first army when I started playing again in 5th edition. I have a huge collection of them, and I love their look and their fluff, but they haven’t seen the table much in 8th since Space Marines have been pretty bad. Happily for me, three fortuitous things came along at once – firstly Chapter Approved 2018, which made them a bit cheaper, the Vigilus Defiant book, which includes the awesome Crimson Fists Liberation Strike Force detachment, and finally, just days before the tournament, the White Dwarf Index Astartes rules. The fisty boys have gotten a lot of recent love, so I hurriedly painted up some more Intercessors and Hellblasters so I was ready to go.

My army list was:

Battalion Detachment – Liberation Strike Force

Primaris Captain with plasma pistol and power fist – Warlord with Storm of Fire and the Fist of Vengeance relic

Primaris LT with master-crafted auto bolt rifle

Primaris Ancient with the Standard of the Emperor Ascendant relic

3x 5 Intercessors, all with auxiliary grenade launchers, 2 with power fists on the sergeants

10 Hellblasters with plasma incinerators

5 Devastators with 2 lascannons, 1 missile launcher, 1 heavy bolter and 1 armorium cherub/baby

Vanguard Detachment

Librarian with force stave, Null Zone/Might of Heroes

2x Venerable Dreadnoughts, twin lascannons and missile launcher

3 Aggressors with auto boltstorm gauntlets

1492pts, 9 CP (8 effective CP)

This comes in at a weird points level because I didn’t have a Primaris Librarian painted so I had to substitute a little guy instead. I should have had a bike Librarian, but I wanted to include both power fists on the Intercessors because I’d had to rush to paint them. Not optimal, but whatever! (this did not turn out to be “whatever”, see Warp, Perils of the). On the subject of painting, I was sad not to have completed everything – 5 Hellblasters are missing their final highlights and the new Intercessors are distinctly ropey, having not got any further than being washed – but it was still good enough for tabletop and I can come back to them soon and get them finished.

Arrayed for war


The plan

There’s a few key elements to this list, which take advantage of new introductions from both the Vigilus and White Dwarf.

Firstly we have the Liberation Strike Force, which covers all the Primaris characters, the Intercessors and the Hellblasters. I didn’t take the Warlord Trait or the relic from this detachment, but it has two key stratagems I was planning to utilise with the Hellblasters. One is a 1CP stratagem to make unmodified hit rolls of 6 count as two hits. This has obvious application for the Hellblasters, getting you that extra bit of firepower from them. The other, more important, is the stratagem – also 1CP – which allows you, if your opponent has targeted one of your units with a ranged weapon, to fire that unit at the end of their Shooting phase. Hellblasters are the kind of thing which people love to shoot at, but a unit of them in cover is surprisingly tough to get rid of, which makes a big block of them perfect for taking advantage of this.

Besides Vigilus, the White Dwarf rules add some real horde-clearing power to the Fists. The new Chapter trait allows you to add 1 to hit rolls when firing a Crimson Fists infantry, bike or Dreadnought unit at something which outnumbers them by twice or more (Dreads count as 5 models for this purpose). This is handy on my Intercessors and absolutely deadly on the 3-man unit of Aggressors, which are usually outnumbered by everything on the table. There’s also a stratagem to re-roll wounds against Orks which didn’t come up, and another key stratagem which is really helpful, especially against Imperial Knights – add 1 to hit rolls against CHARACTER models. This is a very flexible stratagem – it’s great for the Hellblasters, particularly since it makes them immune to killing themselves when overcharging, and it also has application for taking out individual characters if you have the chance.

Finally there’s the flag – everyone is familiar with this by now I expect, where models get to shoot on a 3+ when they die.

The plan was quite straightforward then – castle up in a big block around the characters, with Intercessors screening out threats, and hope to take advantage of my newfound horde-clearing ability to wreck anything that came nearby while the Hellblasters shot as often as possible.

My only practice game. Note the bike librarian who was over points, woops!



The event also requires people to submit some fluff for their force. Please feel free to read mine and laugh at the low effort.

The Crimson Fists have been tireless in their defence of the beleaguered world of Vigilus. They have fought a hundred actions, against Orks, Genestealer Cultists, the warriors of Chaos, and even, in secret, against some of the other Imperial forces who seek to undermine the war effort for their own selfish interests. Now they are forced to battle once more, with Primaris Captain Borges, recently returned from the Deathwatch, leading a Liberation Strike Force against the enemies of the Emperor. There is only the Emperor! He is our shield and protector!

The day

With the preamble out of the way, let’s talk about gaming! I didn’t take enough pictures to give solid blow by blow accounts of each game, so instead I’m going to talk about my opponents and their armies, my general impressions before and after the game, and pick out some key moments from each.

Game 1 – Travis Whittaker, Deathwatch (Disruptive Signals)

My first game was against Travis, running a pure Deathwatch army. I can’t remember his exact list, but it was something like:

Watch Master

Watch Captain with jump pack/hammer/combi-melta

Intercessors + Aggressor, stalker bolters

Bikes + jump pack with hammer

2x Deathwatch Veterans, storm shield and frag cannon (the bike squad was part of one of these)

Leviathan Dreadnought with grav flux bombard and storm cannon array

5 Hellblasters

Corvus Blackstar

I think that was everything. We were playing Disruptive Signals, where you get to draw 4 cards, and for 1CP your opponent can make you unable to score one. This came up not at all.

Before the game, Travis mentioned that he was nervous to be playing the winner of last year’s series – finally, my name inspires fear! I was initially disappointed to be playing against Deathwatch because the chances of the shiny new Chapter Tactic coming into play were minimal (and so it proved…) but Travis was a nice guy with a cool looking army so it promised to be a fun game.

I picked table side, and made my opponent swap with me, so he got to deploy first and choose to go first or second. We had a large central ruin which you can see to the right of my photo, and he deployed mostly to the left of it (from my point of view). He chose to deep strike the Hellblasters, Leviathan and his Watch Captain for 3CP, and the Veterans and Watch Master went in the Corvus.

I deployed in my defensive castle also mostly left of the ruin, with Intercessors spreading out to guard against his deep strikers, and the Hellblasters sat back in a crater in cover. I was completely prepared to go second and honestly probably wouldn’t have benefited from going first, so I chose not to try and seize.

This was a game where my plan worked almost perfectly. He flew his Blackstar into my left-hand corner over the Hellblasters and killed one with the bombs – he shot back but failed to do anything. The other shooting from the Corvus killed a Venerable Dreadnought, which was fine. He then shot the Hellblasters with the hurricane bolters and did absolutely nothing except prime them to shoot. They duly did so and wiped out his squad of 4 bikes and a Vanguard Veteran – meaning I picked up first strike in his turn.

The Corvus swoops over the Hellblasters, and they respond by deleting the bikes which used to be where the Vanguard Vet is

In my turn 1 the Devastators shot the Corvus to death, and thanks to the mass of Marines piled around it he was forced into the corner to be able to deploy them. A volley of fire annihilated the Veterans and wounded the Watch Master. I did make a mistake here, by failing to move the Aggressors and forgetting how short ranged they were so that they ended up shooting absolutely nothing – they might have helped finish the Watch Master off this turn. Instead the Intercessors had to go in and did a very creditable 2 wounds to him, leaving him with 1 – although he would have been dead if I hadn’t wasted a CP re-rolling 2 wounds into 1!

The Deathwatch bail out of their Corvus Blackstar

His turn 2 is where things really swung in my favour. He deep struck his Hellblasters, Leviathan, and Watch Captain in range of my Hellblasters, who jammed the Auspex Scan button as hard as they could. 9 guys fired, and 6 of them immediately killed themselves – but enough shots went through to wipe out his Hellblasters in return. 4 of the dead guys got to shoot, so they fired again and killed the Watch Captain as well! So far I’d had one player turn and the Hellblasters had had 4 shooting phases. Not bad!

With his forces severely diminished Travis put up a good fight, but the Leviathan didn’t really achieve anything and his remaining unit of guys with stalker bolters weren’t really up to the job of clearing out my pile of Primaris bodies. The rest of the game consisted of me slowly piling across the board and slowly grinding through his remaining units – the only other moment of note was my Librarian managing to Perils of the Warp on a double 6, causing 3 wounds to himself and 5 to the Leviathan! Primaris Captain Borges also covered himself in glory by beating the Leviathan to death with the Fist of Vengeance.

The Leviathan faces down the fists of the Fists

At game end the score was 22-4, a resounding victory of the Sons of Dorn.

Record – 1-0-0

Game 2 – Matthew Pearce, Thousand Sons (Tactical Cascade)

 Game 2 was playing Matthew and his Thousand Sons, which were somewhat lacking in the “Thousand Sons” department and featured a lot more Tzaangors. This is de rigueur for competitive Chaos.

A quick word here on the mission. At the start of the first turn you pick 2 tactical objectives to automatically generate; throughout the game, you generate up to 6 more per turn for each one you scored in the previous turn. We messed this up and drew to a maximum of 6 in the hand, but that’s not true – you can go higher and we should have. Whoops! Also, and more pertinent, Thousand Sons have an objective which works as follow: for every 2 psychic powers you cast, score a VP, up to a maximum of 6. Matt obviously picked this as one of his two early ones, along with Master the Warp. I stupidly picked two easy Secures (I say stupidly, because I should have picked Defends instead and had double the points).

His list was:

2x Exalted Sorceror on Disc (1 is Warlord)

3x Daemon Princes with Wings, one with Dark Matter Crystal

Tzaangor Shaman

30 Tzaangors

2x 10 Cultists

9x Tzaangor Enlightened with bows

7x Tzaangor Enlightened with spears

The Thousand Sons, at deployment

A very straightforward Thousand Sons list. I’d not played it before, but I knew what it was going to do – DMC the Tzaangor blob across the table for a first turn charge, with everything else flying up behind and bombing me with psychic powers. Once again I went second, and that’s exactly what happened, and it was glorious. Glorious for me, that is, because I’d set up with my Aggressors just behind my screening Intercessors, putting them precisely in range to Auspex Scan the bomb when it landed. Matt had actually thought of this but thought Auspex Scan didn’t work on Dark Matter Crystal – one quick FAQ check later though and I was firing a hail of boltstorm ammunition into the Tzeentch Daemons. One thing you may notice is that there are 3 Aggressors in my list and 30 Tzaangors sitting in front of them, and that the latter are most definitely more than double the number of the former, so even with Auspex Scan’s -1 to hit penalty I was still hitting on 3s, rerolling 1s. I popped Bolter Drill too for good measure. Shortly afterwards, 15 Tzaangors were dead on the floor. Even better, he killed an Aggressor later on and I got to shoot again, killing even more. To add insult to injury the remaining Tzaangors failed their charge, leaving them standing around waiting for death next turn, and forcing him to blow 2 CP just to keep them on the table.

Tzaangors aside, his first psychic phase was ferocious.A hail of Smites cleared out some Intercessors and, thanks to poor positioning on my part, the Lieutenant. He missed a couple of key powers though, including Warptime. Still it was enough to rack up 5 VPs from his card, plus another 2 from Master the Warp, and a First Strike point.

The Thousand Sons, after deep striking in front of the Aggressors…

As ferocious as his psychic had been, mine was even more powerful, with the Librarian managing to Perils on his Smite again and blow 2 wounds off himself. Still, he finished off the Tzaangors, which cleared the way to a Daemon Prince which was promptly dispatched by the Devastators firing a flakk round at him, twice. Everything else unloaded into his unit of bow-wielding Enlightened and annihilated them. I was able to take out a Prince, but I gambled on the Hellblasters killing both his Warlord and another Sorceror, and only got the secondary one.

With a lot dead on 1 I felt like I was in control, but the psychic barrage continued, with most of his characters advancing except for the Warlord, who fled to cower behind some Cultists. Luckily he missed most powers other than Smite, so although he killed off some Intercessors, most of the big hitters were still around. My Librarian set himself up to wipe the invulnerable saves from a Daemon Prince which had charged into my lines and the spear-wielding Tzaangors, but failed the Null Zone test with a re-roll, then added insult to injury by blowing his own head off with his THIRD Perils of the day. He detonated in the middle of my lines, but luckily didn’t cause too much damage to anyone else. Definitely a moment where a Primaris version would have been an improvement.

Psychic mishaps aside, I was able to clear the spear Tzaangors, the Shaman, the Sorceror and the Prince,leaving just one Daemon Prince, the Cultists, and the Warlord cowering. Captain Borges suffered a final ignominy after being blown up by his own Librarian, with the Prince smiting him to death, but the Fists pushed across the table to start claiming objectives.

It all seemed to be going really well until I realized that I was 3 points behind and tabling wouldn’t win me the game thanks to Acceptable Casualties. Luckily I had a single Intercessor claiming Linebreaker, and I had Assassinate so I could kill his wounded Warlord, table, and draw – but not win. I almost, almost, gambled on going to turn 6, but in the end I decided it was too risky. After 105 games of 8th edition, we finished with my first draw, 17-17.

Overall I think the game went about as well as I could have hoped for. If I’d been a bit smarter about picking my objectives I could have been up a couple of points on where I was, and if we hadn’t decided they were capped at 6 I might have picked up more I could achieve, instead of a constant succession of Secure and Defends for things I was miles away from – but also I might have lost points on the Burden of Command at the end. Who knows!

Record – 1-1-0

Game 3 – Martin Butler, Imperial Knights (Desperate Gamble)

My final game of the day was against Martin, and a trio of Imperial Knights. His list was:

1x Knight Atropos – Warlord with Landstrider and Armour of Sainted Ion

1x Knight Crusader with Endless Fury

1x Knight Gallant – I think this had a trait or relic but I can’t remember what

1x Tech-priest Enginseer

1x 6 Skitarii, 2 Transuranic Arquebuses

The Knights were Hawkshroud and the Skitarii were Stygies VIII.

This looked pretty intimidating to face, but in this mission I had some advantages. He struggles to get around the board and claim objectives, and since I once again lost the roll and deployed second, I could see where his Gallant and Atropos were going and deploy as far away from them as possible. In the event he set up centrally (see picture) and I deployed on the opposite flank to the Gallant, forming a castle in a crater and woods bunched together. This was the same board as I played on in game 1, and I essentially took the opposite side and played where my opponent from that game did.

The Imperial Knights

He rushed to close with me, but two of the three Knights were never going to get into position. The Crusader fired a few shots at the Devastators and some Hellblasters and was rewarded with a lascannon through the face for his troubles, before a hail of Hellblaster stratagem fire hit him and stripped some more wounds off. In my turn I shuffled up a bit, and between the mortal wounds from Hellfire shells, Smite going off (and not killing myself!!) and Hellblasters piling on, I was able to down the Crusader.

I’m struggling to remember the exact progression of scoring, but I was able to put down the Gallant in my next turn by baiting him to rotate his shields on the Atropos instead and then firing full power into the Gallant, then spent about 3 turns trying to finish off the Atropos with what was left. His Transuranic Arquebuses murdered my Librarian, losing me Smite and Null Zone and meaning that he’d died in 2 games and been left on 1 wound in the other – a feeble effort all round from him! Somewhere in here Captain Borges was smashed into the dirt by a laser sword, but only after dealing out a mighty blow to the Atropos and helping it on its way to death.

At the end of the day though, I was miles ahead on points, winning something like 16-6. Another clear win for the Crimson Fists!

Record – 2-1-0


So that’s that. A great day out for the Crimson Fists in their first tournament of 8th edition, with 2 wins, a tight draw and most importantly, no losses. Looking back, my army did exactly what I hoped it would do, and my Hellblasters and Aggressors both had opportunities to show off their potential – especially the Hellblasters in game 1. It would have been nice to have a game where I could have tried being a bit more mobile – I think it has potential to do that, but all three games involved opponents who wanted to aggressively get into my lines, so the castle sat still and blasted at them and didn’t really move until turns 2 or 3 at which point it was all pretty much over. That said, I claimed Linebreaker in 2 out of 3 games and could have gotten it in the other if I wanted, so I don’t feel too bad.

The three new missions were really good, even if we all got a bit confused in game 2 – I know other tables played it completely differently, to varying degrees of wrongness. The mission in game 1 didn’t really come into effect, but I think in an environment with more CP (i.e. at 2000pts) it might matter more. I didn’t get an opportunity to really talk about the mission in game 3, but it did come into play and was pretty helpful for avoiding the “draw 2 useless cards” syndrome, and I think I scored double points on at least 1 or 2 turns.

Also worth mentioning is that I went second in every game. This possibly suited me, since all three of my opponents wanted to aggressively come at me and I wanted to castle, but I can see a situation where it might have cost me if I’d played against something with serious firepower which could have done more to take out a key target (probably the Hellblasters) early on. That said, knowing I was going second also helped me to be able to focus on deploying purely defensively. More experience required, I think.

I have to miss the next Tides, but I’m hopeful for the Crimson Fists to make their return at the Summer edition, and this time to even be fully painted! In between times I’m visiting Warhammer World – maybe there’s some Forge World Dreadnoughts in store for the Sons of Dorn?

There is only the Emperor! He is our shield and protector!