Welcome to my recap of my experience as the Warhammer 40k Open Championships at the 2014 Las Vegas Open. This was my first tournament in 6th edition, and my first major tournament for Warhammer 40k. I’ve done dozen of Warhammer 40k tournaments, but nothing bigger than a Rogue Trader or a running store campaign or ‘Ard Boyz. But enough of that, on to the report! (Warning: long)
For reference, here’s my list:
Chapter Master (Artificer Armor, Bike, Power Fist, The Shield Eternal)
Librarian (Terminator Armor, Storm Shield, ML2, Force Sword)
Commander (Command and Control Node, Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite, Puretide Engram Neurochip, Vectored Retro-thrusters, Shield Generator)
Bike Squad (5 Bikers, 2x Grav-gun)
Bike Squad (5 Bikers, 2x Grav-gun)
Bike Squad (5 Bikers, 2x Meltagun)
Kroot Carnivore Squad (10 Kroot, Sniper Rounds)
Centurion Devastator Squad (4 Centurions, Omniscope, 4x with Grav-cannon, Grav-amp, and Missile Launcher)
XV88 Broadside Team (3 Broadsides with Twin-linked High-Yield Missile Pods and EWO, 5 Missile Drones)
The list centers around two unit groups. The first is the Centurion Devastator Squad, which generally is deployed aggressively and designed to take the brunt of the damage thanks to T5 W2 2+ models and powerful character support from the Chapter Master (CM) and Tau Commander (also known as a Scarstar, Centstar, or Gravstar). Unlike some other durable deathstars, it also puts out very strong damage against a wide variety of targets in both shooting and assault, is hard to tie down thanks to Hit & Run, and can operate without character support if those characters would be better used elsewhere. This may sound obvious, but many of the popular deathstars do not share all of these strengths.
The second group is the Bike squads, which serve to contest/control objectives and to flush out any enemy units that are hiding from the Gravstar. Grav-guns combined with TL bolters mean that the bikers are able to put out respectable damage against almost any target.
Everything else is in the list to deal with things that either the Gravstar or the Biker squads do not. The Librarian provides an extra tanking character, which can be joined to whichever unit needs a 2+/3++ the most. The Kroot allow me to take objectives in higher level ruins and get to parts of the board that the Bikes may not be able to reach efficiently. The Thunderfire Cannon (TFC) is there to handle hordes and punish clumping. Finally, the Broadsides provide high volume, accurate, high S firepower, useful for swatting light vehicles and fliers that the Graviton weapons would rather avoid shooting. They also serve to punish Deep Strike / Drop Pods / Reserves, all of which are frequently seen in the current meta.
Now, on to the games. These are from memory, and due to time constraints I did not take notes nor pictures. I apologize in advance to any opponents whom feel I misrepresent the games or leave out key details. Feel free to correct me.
Herald of Slaanesh (1x Greater Reward, Steed of Slaanesh)
Herald of Tzeentch (ML3, Disc of Tzeentch)
Herald of Khorne (1x Lesser Reward, Juggernaut of Khorne)
Pink Horrors (11x Horrors)
Daemonettes (10x Daemonettes)
Daemonettes (10x Daemonettes)
Seekers of Slaanesh (14x Seekers)
Screamers of Tzeentch (7x Screamers)
Flesh Hounds of Khorne (9x Flesh Hounds)
Daemon Prince (Wings, Mark of Tzeentch, 1x Greater Reward, ML2)
My opponent is a Daemons player with Screamerstar, although their list only runs one Herald of Tzeentch and no real shooting so it can run a flying DP, a unit of Seekers, and a unit of Hounds with a Herald of Khorne. Pretty much my second worst matchup, after Helldrake spam.
The tournament starts off poorly for me… we don’t get pairings until round start time because of some stragglers, chewing into our already very limited game time. I don’t have an army tray, and both my opponent and I take awhile to set up. Both my opponent and I are more precise players, and play slower. This is also my first tabletop game with the list, as I’ve been using VASSAL to handle the dice rolling. These factors (among others) combine to leave us only ending turn 2 as the round timer nears…
The judge rules that in order to finish as much of the game as possible, my opponent gets 3 turns to my 2. I think this is a very poor call, as I go from a game I almost can’t possibly lose (I have a guaranteed win at the end of 2 and nearly guaranteed win at the end of turn 3) to a game I auto-lose, because my opponent can just throw their units on the objectives I’m holding. This poor call left a very sour taste in my mouth, but I played on.
Regardless, about the game itself, my opponent deployed their Hounds and Seekers on my left, and their Screamers centrally with their two Flying Monstrous Creatures (FMCs) out of line of sight in the far back left corner. I deployed starting in my center, with my units in the following order – Broadsides w/ Librarian, Centurions w/ Chapter Master & Commander, Bikers, and finally my Thunderfire Cannon (TFC). I infiltrate the Kroot into some ruins near the center of the board.
Here’s an image of deployment. Now, in case it isn’t obvious – this is, again, me going from memory. The point of this image is to give an idea of where units were relative to each other, objectives, and key pieces of terrain. Each board had much more terrain than I’m going to put on the maps, but I’m only going to show the pieces that mattered in the match or that I mention. Since the LVO doesn’t make their terrain pieces based on VASSAL terrain libraries, some terrain pieces may have been much bigger or smaller than seen in the VASSAL pictures, but it should be enough to give you an idea. Let me know if these are helpful or not, and it’ll help decide if I make them in the future.
My deployment is pretty much entirely a mistake. In a game that would actually play to completion I would have been okay, but with how long the game was taking to play I crippled my ability to take enough of the objectives.
My opponent plays super-aggressive and guns for my Kroot, sending their Screamers over them with a turbo-boost. I think this is a misplay – the odds didn’t seem that good to kill all of the Kroot (as even one survivor denies First Blood, since they are too far away to run off the board), and in turn it meant the Screamers were in shooting range of my entire army, most of which didn’t have a target otherwise. Further, all of my Bikers and Centurions were in guaranteed assault range of the Screamers.
My opponent killed 7 of the Kroot and they broke, doing almost no other damage to my list. In return, my combined fire blasted through most of the Screamers, and subsequent assault wiped out the rest of them easily, even before Demonic Instability and even without my Chapter Master being able to pile-in. My CM was able to bully the Herald into not fighting, as my CM had the Warlord trait that gives me 1 VP for every character he slays in a challenge. The Broadsides shred quite a few of the Seekers and the Librarian Dominates them, making their assault the next turn almost a guaranteed failure.
On my opponent’s next turn, they throw their DP and Hounds at my Broadsides, whom manage to gun down a few in the process. In my opponent’s eagerness to save their DP from my Broadsides’ Overwatch, they block their DP’s assault, another mistake. The Seekers try a long assault and fail because they failed their Dominate check on either their move or assault. I think the Broadsides hold here thanks to the Librarian, but my memory about this assault is pretty shaky. They eventually lose and get run down, freeing the Hounds.
From here it doesn’t matter what I do, because my opponent got both the first and last turn, and gets their guaranteed win. For kickers, I only net 1 point, crippling my tiebreakers.
Dark Apostle (Sigil of Corruption, Power Maul)
Lord of Change (2x Greater Reward, 1x Lesser Reward, Psyker Level 3)
Chaos Cultists (9x Autogun)
Chaos Cultists (9x Autogun)
Pink Horrors of Tzeentch
Chaos Spawn (3x Spawn w/ Mark of Nurgle)
Plague Drones of Nurgle (3x Drones, Rot Proboscis, Plaguebringer w/ 1x Greater Reward)
Obliterators (2x Obliterators w/ Mark of Nurgle & Veterans of the Long War)
Daemon Prince (Power Armor, ML2, Mark of Tzeentch, Wings, Greater Reward, Lesser Reward)
So a pretty awful start, but if I win out with strong tiebreakers I still have a shot, albeit a very long shot. And my next opponent… is running Heldrake/FMC spam. The good news is they are only running 2 Heldrakes? I guess that counts as good news.
I lose both choice of deployment zone and first turn. This pattern repeats for all 3 of my games day 1. In this matchup it is particularly critical however – I have one less turn to kill units before Heldrakes arrive, and my opponent is able to get a huge piece of terrain that has a roof to stop my TFC from blasting the cultists into oblivion (which was the only piece on the board with a roof) while my only piece of area terrain has a large blind side.
My opponent deploys two big units of cultists in the building, and I expect that his plan was to hop them out in later turns on to nearby objectives. I think this is rather risky, however, as the objective would require more than a 6″ move to reach – so not only do the Cultists have to make a high Run move and a high roll on their move through cover, but a simple screen could prevent their move (and it’s not like the Cultists are going to be able to move any of my units off of an objective reliably). The last unit of Cultists deploy on a farther objective to try to minimize TFC damage. The Spawn and Drones are deployed partially behind the giant building to minimize damage from me Seizing the Initiative (StI). The FMCs deploy in the building as Jump MC. The Obliterators opt to Deep Strike.
I push everything far forward, clustering for the first turn since all of my opponent’s template weapons are off the board. My Cents deploy far forward in the area terrain, followed by the Broadsides and finally the TFC. All of my Bikes deploy in a 5×3 formation on my left flank. I Infiltrate my Kroot on the opposite flank, to try to draw away some of my opponent’s tough assault units from my lines to kill a 70 point unit.
Which worked too well. I fail to seize, and I somehow screwed up measuring my opponent’s assault range. I thought my Kroot were just over 24″ away to stop the T1 assault but my opponent’s jump troops reached them easily and wiped them for an easy First Blood. At this point I decide the Kroot really don’t belong on the board T1.
My opponent flies both of his FMC right in front of my Cents, which I think is foolishly risky. I don’t have any Skyfire, but if either of his FMC get grounded, they’ll get pulped easily by the combination of Grav-cannons, my CM, and my Librarian. Of course, the key word being “if”, as my opponent proceeds to pass every Grounding test the entire game (somewhere around 8 in total over the course of the game). Despite the fact that I can’t make them fail a Grounding test, I still bring the DP crashing to the ground by simply killing it instead. Fuck Grounding tests.
I manage to cause enough wounds on the Cultists in the open to cause a Morale test, despite how spread out they are, and they promptly run off the board. Would have had First Blood if I hadn’t mis-deployed my Kroot. I spread out my bikes, making sure they can’t be the victim of Vector Strike by the potentially incoming Heldrakes and to hopefully minimize their terrifying damage output. It doesn’t really matter.
My opponent gets both drakes in. My Broadsides choke utterly, managing to cause only one glance (which thankfully he doesn’t save). My opponent forgets to roll his It Will Not Die but during my turn I let him make the roll, meaning my Broadsides caused absolutely no lasting damage. He manages to torch 4-5 Bikers, but unluckily for me they all hold, meaning his Lord of Change gets to assault one Biker squad.
His Drones and Spawn assault my Centurions, but thanks to the Overwatch of my Broadsides and 2+ saves I beat him handily, wiping him out to a single wound on a spawn… which is, of course, Fearless. I then fail my first attempted Hit & Run(H&R) of the tournament, tying up a huge amount of my shooting. My Biker Sergeant challenges The Lord of Change to save his squad and dies valiantly. The survivors either flee or Hit & Run out.
My Broadsides take advantage of The Lord of Change being on the ground and drop him to 1 Wound. Unfortunately nothing else is really nearby to finish the job, meaning that The Lord of Change survives another turn because I couldn’t finish off that Spawn or H&R out. My Bikers spread out further and slide past the Heldrakes, forcing them to hover if they want to attack anything besides my Broadsides on the next turn. I don’t expect my opponent to take this obvious bait, considering how much damage my Broadsides are doing unchecked and how he has no other options to even damage them at this point. Despite having 4-5 special weapons in ideal range, the Bikers fail to cause any damage at all to the Heldrakes.
Despite seeing how much I struggle to deal with Fliers this game, my opponent hovers one Heldrake and kills a few more Bikers with the help of The Lord of Change. The other Heldrake chases a Biker squad that Turbo-boosted away. My opponent finally pulls the Cultists out of the buildings and starts going for objectives, realizing that the only point my opponent has is First Blood. The Horrors try to Deep Strike and Mishap, letting me place them in a corner far away from any objective and my models.
From this point, the game is mostly just cleanup. He has very little to damage my list (a 1W Lord of Change and 2x Heldrakes that unwisely Hover against my list) and can’t get the Cultists to any objectives in time, not to mention that I gun almost all of them down once they leave cover anyways. I end up only missing Slay the Warlord and First Blood.
Lord Kaldor Draigo
Farseer (Singing Spear, Ghosthelm, Jetbike)
Paladins (10x Paladins, 4x Psycannon, 3x Nemesis Force Sword, 6x Nemesis Daemon Hammer, Brotherhood Banner)
Paladins (1x Paladin, Nemesis Daemon Hammer)
Windrider Guardians (4x Guardians)
Dire Avengers (5x Dire Avengers, Wave Serpent)
Hornets (3x Hornets with 2x Pulse Lasers)
War Walkers (2x War Walkers with 2x Scatter Laser & Power Field)
This game is versus a strange Grey Knights / Eldar hybrid, but my opponent went on to win best Grey Knights player so apparently it worked.
This game was rather unexciting, as I think my opponent underestimated both my long-range firepower and durability, and lost track of the objectives. I also wonder how much of my opponent’s stalling was to avoid my Gravstar shooting at their Paladinstar. My opponent hid their massive Paladinstar in a building for two turns while the Eldar elements engaged in long range rocket launcher tag with my Broadsides and Centurions. They lost.
While the Eldar shooting was impressive, and I lost models every turn, my opponent lost entire units, and I scooted off with the Relic and controlled 3/4 of the Big Guns Never Tire objectives almost the entire game. Once the Paladinstar finally decided to play, I lost all of my Centurions and Broadsides, but by that point it was far too late and the game was a blowout in points.
This was despite some pretty awful rolling on my part – about 20 wounds resulted in 8 failed 2+ saves and 3 failed LoS rolls, killing my CM and 2 Centurions, crippling my ability to fight back against the Paladinstar. My Librarian died on the first turn to a failed LoS and failed invulnerable save. The Kroot caused 10+ wounds on my opponent’s jetbikes and never actually caused a casualty. Two meltaguns at close range on a Serpent Shield-less Wave Serpent failed to even hit. My point here is that even with some pretty awful rolling, paying attention to the objectives is critical and still can get you the win – I didn’t have to roll any dice to pick up the Relic (thankfully).
First, I want to give a shout out to my opponent as this was my favorite game of the tournament. It was very relaxed, and we played it rather casually – both of us reminded the other about missing abilities and forgetting to shoot units (even when it resulted in him waxing some of my Broadsides).
I managed to lose my copy of his list, but here is what I remember:
Chapter Master (Artificer Armor, Shield Eternal, Power Fist)
Legion of the Damned (5x Legion, 1x Multi-melta, 1x Meltagun)
Legion of the Damned (5x Legion, 1x Heavy Flamer, 1x Flamer)
Tactical Squad (10x Marines, 1x Missile Launcher w/ Flakk, 1x Flamer, Rhino w/ Dozer Blade)
Tactical Squad (10x Marines, 1x Missile Launcher w/ Flakk, 1x Flamer, Rhino w/ Dozer Blade)
Scout Squad (5x Scouts, 1x Heavy Bolter, Land Speeder Storm)
Centurion Devastator Squad (3x Centurions)
His list was one of the few other Centstars that I saw playing at the tournament at all, and pre-game I was really worried about him rolling up Gate of Infinity and basically getting the alpha-strike on each one of my squads, effectively crippling my return fire abilities. I think if he had done so, it would have been a very different game. Instead he stacked Prescience, 4++, and Ignores Cover. A potent mix, but problematic for him, which I’ll go over why.
This was my first game where I won deployment, and I chose the side that had two pieces of cover I could use. It wouldn’t matter, but it was nice to have. I also won the roll to go first, but I made him go first – I wanted to counterdeploy against his gravstar.
My opponent deployed all in the back left corner from my perspective, placing two 5-man tac squads with missile launchers in cover, 2 TFCs on the roof of the ruins, and the gravstar spread out in the open, acting as a bubble preventing me from moving too close.
Left to right, I deploy one Biker squad inside some ruins behind a wall, then my Broadsides behind some pipes, then my Centurions in the open, then finally my TFC in some ruins. My other two Biker squads go into reserve and my Kroot Outflank. I make sure everything is out of range of his gravstar, since he lacks Missile Launchers on his (unlike mine). This ended up being crucial. Everything is also spaced out, as I expect an Orbital Strike.
On the first turn, my opponent actually failed to get Forewarning off even with Tiggy’s reroll, but it didn’t matter. Even with a reroll, I couldn’t get the Orbital Strike to land on his Centurions, and I pretty much ignored them for the rest of the game. Critically, his Orbital Strike killed two of my Centurions due to it being Barrage, greatly limiting my ability to check his Gravstar.
Basically, my opponent tried the same tactic that my opponent from Game 3 tried – spend the entire game out of range of the Gravstar. It worked about as well for him. My Broadsides, Centurion Missile Launchers, and TFC traded shots with his Missile Launcher Tacs and single TFC. I had killed the other TFC on my first turn with a Grav-gun Bike squad, trading the squad for First Blood and to secure long-range dominance.
Each turn, I made sure that I kept my Broadsides and Centurions out of range of his Centurions, and he kept shifting them back so I couldn’t get the jump on them instead. My opponent was so concerned with losing his Gravstar that they caused about 150 points worth of kills throughout the entire game. My TFC and Broadsides wrecked most of his light vehicles, while my bikes and Centurions cleaned up the Legion of the Damned that dropped in my deployment zone, crippling his ability to control/contest 2 of the 3 objectives. I dropped my Kroot into his back left corner and killed 3 of his tactical marines, to which he then turned back all of his vehicles and troops to handle. This is one of the few games where I think the Kroot pulled their weight – my opponent was so worried about the Kroot contesting his Emperor’s Will objective that he moved a large number of units to clear them out. Further, he brought all of his vehicles in to his corner, which meant that while they were supported, their mobility was largely wasted.
At the end of the game, I used my Chapter Master to contest his Crusade objective and I had First Blood, securing a 5-0 victory.
Chapter Master (Artificer Armor, Power Fist, Bike, The Gorgon’s Chain)
Librarian (Mindforge Stave)
Rune Priest (Terminator Armor)
Sternguard Veteran Squad (9x Veterans, 2x Combi-Grav, 2x Combi-Melta, 2x Grav-gun)
Tactical Squad (10x Marines, Meltagun, Multi-melta, Drop Pod)
Bike Squad (7x Bikers, 2x Grav-gun, 1x Attack Bike w/ Multi-melta)
Bike Squad (8x Bikers, 2x Grav-gun, 1x Attack Bike w/ Multi-melta)
Grey Hunters Pack (8x Grey Hunters, 1x Plasma Gun, Drop Pod
Devastator Squad (5x Marines, 4 Missile Launchers w/ Flakk Missiles)
I thought this game would be rather interesting, as my opponent was running the allies I had strongly considered – Space Wolves – as well as the support elements I considered (Drop Pods). I won choice of deployment zone and denied my opponent any area terrain. My opponent won first turn and clumped both biker squads, which made me really want to try to StI, despite the objective advantage of going second. I failed. My opponent’s devastators hid behind a hill, just camping an objective. Everything else was in reserves.
For me, I deployed my Centurions/CM/Commander aggressively, as far forward as I could to threaten any bikes that over-extended. My Broadsides and TFC were about 6-10″ back, sharing a crater. My two Grav-gun squads bubblewrapped everything as best I could, while my Melta-gun squad went into reserves (as did my Kroot). I was expecting to send either of them after the hiding devastators to get 1 point for BGNT and to contest/take their objective.
Not surprisingly, my opponent dropped right on top of me. Curiously, he went after my Centurions, instead of my bikes, which confused me. My Centurions were in area terrain, had multiple invulnerable saves and weren’t ID’d by anything besides the Orbital Strike of my opponent’s Chapter Master. My opponent’s bikes scooped up the Relic, and then both squads darted away, which also I feel was a poor play. Sure, he had the Relic, but it was only the secondary, and even if he got First Blood (he didn’t), he was giving up the primary and could, at best, tie. Even not considering that, both Bike squads certainly weren’t needed to carry the Relic. Regardless, he caused some wounds on the Tau Commander, some cents and JotWW ate two Broadsides, but crucially it was far off from getting First Blood.
My return fire was devastating. I killed both Psykers and their respective squads, netting First Blood and effectively clearing my backfield short of the Drop Pods. I even remembered my Omniscope which allowed my Centurions to clean up both squads. I was also able to spread out and secure both my Jink save and force my opponent’s next Drop Pod even farther away. My die rolling was pretty hot and at some points it got so bad I apologized to my opponent. Even without the rolls, however, I imagine the end result would have been the same, as I would have been able to assault with several squads to clean up any stragglers. Still, my good luck was not how I wanted to win the game.
The next turn my opponent dropped in his last squad, and had his CM make a desperation assault against my Centurions. I used Hit & Run to get out (one of the few times it was both useful and actually worked the entire tournament). The next turn I wiped out the Grey Hunters and his Chapter Master, and my opponent conceded. All he had left were his two large bike squads and devastators, and he had given up First Blood, Slay the Warlord, and was almost guaranteed to lose Big Guns Never Tire.
It was very, very frustrating to practice against traditional Eldar and Tau lists and not see a single one and further see both of my worst matchups to kick off the tournament. I did well (4-1) despite this, but it was no less frustrating.
I think, however, that critically my performance, combined with the performance of other Space Marine players, proves that the Space Marine codex is a viable one, if not “tier 1” material. Further, that the Space Marine codex is capable of producing a variety of lists – Gravstar, bike spam, and Drop Pod assault (or some combination thereof).
I need to practice more on the tabletop. On VASSAL, I have no problems playing in a timely manner, nor did I have any issues in 5th. But playing 6th is noticeably slower for me, likely because I haven’t played nearly as many tabletop games. I’m used to VASSAL being able to cleanly handle the mixed attacks, mixed strengths, and frequent rerolls I have available. On the tabletop, however, these consumed a large amount of time I wasn’t used to dealing with, and it showed.
White Scars Chapter Tactics weren’t nearly as useful as they were in the practice games, and the components that were useful weren’t the same. My Jink save rarely mattered – when I was hit with AP 3- weapons, it was either in assault or also had Ignores Cover. Hammer of Wrath failed to cause damage in pretty much every situation, accounting for maybe 1 wound per game on average (if that). Hit & Run was rarely used (maybe 1-2 times per game) and it failed at the most useful time of the tournament during round 2. However, I abused not-Skilled Rider liberally, using it almost every turn with every squad. The high concentration of terrain combined with the fact that LVO rules you can bust through ruin “walls” means the added mobility was exceptionally useful. It was the most reliable way to guarantee my alpha strike and keep my rather limited number of bikes safe.
Things I Learned / Need to Remember
Sometimes I forgot that the Centurions can’t fire Overwatch, which is kind of a big deal, but I remembered it by the time it mattered in any game. I’ve been treating the Thunderfire Cannon as much, much weaker than it really is. First, I forgot it automatically causes Pinning. I never made an opponent make a Pinning test, and only my first opponent had Fearless units I was hitting. Second, I didn’t read how the Barrage rules worked well enough, and missed that on a hit you are allowed to reposition the template – until my opponent in round 4, I was playing it as the template was stuck where it was on a hit. I didn’t know about directing attacks in assault against specific units, either.
I really need to remember all of my special rules. I kept forgetting about the assault moves of the Tau units, and the Split Fire of the Centurions. I also need to remember that Supporting Fire allows the Broadsides to Overwatch against anything assaulting any of my units within 6”, not just other Tau units. And Grav-amps. I need to remember Grav-amps.
I need to remember Focus Fire. Against most of the lists I played, it didn’t matter that much, as either I was trying to wipe out the entire unit, or the unit was identical across the board, so Focus Fire wouldn’t really have mattered much. I might have been able to use it against the Daemons player to single out the Heralds, but I couldn’t think of a time that I was in position to do so. The CSM player lacked any specialists/characters in most of the units, as did the GK player. Against the Ultramarines player I could have used it to get around the Chapter Master, maybe. Finally, playing against the bike list, I was going for clearing out whole units at a time so FF wouldn’t matter.
The Chapter Master was an amazing tank, and Orbital Bombardment got around 100 points worth of kills nearly every game (except the one game it scattered off the board). The loss of Feel No Pain, as I had noted in test matches, was a big deal, but even still he only died in one game. He’s surprisingly capable in assault (something I’m not used to when playing vanilla Space Marines) and keeping him on a Bike is critical for late-game contesting and bouncing around. He does feel kind of pricey for what he does, especially considering he basically doesn’t contribute anything if the Centurions aren’t shot at or don’t get into assault.
The Librarian… I just don’t see it. I’ve given him a run of about 10 games now, against a wide range of opponents and I struggle to see a game where he really earned his keep. Without being able to pick powers, and being limited to only 2, several games I just didn’t get the useful powers. It seems like with psykers you either need to be able to pick your powers, spam them, or have an always useful Primaris power (Divination, I’m looking at you). It was nice to have the invulnerable save for the Broadsides, but much of the firepower that was AP2 was also S8 (or better) meaning when he did fail his save, he was dead. I think the drones act as a sufficient shield, really.
The Commander wasn’t as key as I thought he was going to be, but that was mostly because I didn’t really run into the lists that I brought him specifically to combat. That said, he was still very useful in making the Centurions much more viable against fliers and the Broadsides much more potent against vehicles. Really, however, his crucial contributions were granting Ignores Cover (especially for denying Jink saves) and another 4++ multi-wound model. He didn’t bounce around as much as I expected him to either, but again, this was because I didn’t fight some of the lists that I expected, where the Broadsides would have played more of a key role.
Bike squads… are tough to measure. I like their firepower, and their durability. Just their model count is so low, and they’re such as a high target priority for opponents in some missions it’s hard to make them useful and keep them alive. Many games I would put 1-2 squads in reserves just to ensure I’d have a scoring unit or two by the end of the game.
Kroot just need to stay off the board, I think, unless they can Infiltrate somewhere they can’t possibly be attacked for the first couple turns. Admittedly I botched their deployment, but after reconsidering the games, I realized I could have achieved the same thing with Outflanking that I did with Infiltrate, without giving up First Blood so easily (and they may actually kill something first). Sniper rounds are probably going, since the Kroot rarely survive the turn they come on the board to use them effectively.
The Broadsides did not perform as well as they did in the test games, but they were still solid. S7 AP4 is just frustratingly close to being much, much scarier. S8 drastically improves its profile against vehicles and causes Instant Death to a large swathe of important targets (Space Marines, Hounds, Broadsides, etc) while AP3 would let them/ eat through power armor. But they’re neither of those, and their relatively disappointing performance against fliers makes me reluctant to take them again. Sure, they did cause solid damage – but they also sank over 250 points. Then again, most of the games I played they lacked ideal targets, compared to the Centurions, who had good targets in many of the games.
The Thunderfire Cannon stepped up its game from the test runs, and thankfully so. Simply by being present, it caused nearly every opponent to hide models in ruins and avoid clustering, all for the low price tag of 100 points. Surprisingly, despite the hassles it gave nearly every opponent, it never even got attacked, let alone destroyed. I’ve also been playing it drastically weaker than I should have been, as noted above.
Devastator Centurions, while not completely as dominating as they were in test games, were still the stars of the show. The sheer amount of damage they absorbed was impressive, and their durability and damage output in assault seems to surprise most opponents. T5 2+ W2 is not easy to crack in assault. Even in games where they didn’t cause much damage they controlled the board, forcing my opponents to make bad decisions or hide units to avoid them getting pummeled.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed. Feel free to add your own thoughts and comments, as well as any constructive criticism.