Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Road to CAG-BASH: Part 1

…Planning for the trip

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting my thoughts on Warhammer 40k trends and tactics.  This week, I'm starting with my first tournament experience, CAG-Bash.

CAG-Bash, for those who don’t know, is an 1850 point regional tournament in Southwest Ohio.  It draws players from the major metropolitan areas of Cincinnati and Dayton, mostly, but occasionally all the way out to Indianapolis and a bit of Kentucky as well.  This is the goal I’ve set for myself as my first “major tournament” event.  My goal is simple: to attend the event and not embarrass myself.  Of course, in order to do that, I need a list!

Generally speaking, a good tournament list should be able to handle all of the following things:

1. Be able to hold objectives
2. Hordes
3. Multiple Small Units (referred to as MSU)
4. Monstrous Creatures
5. Flyers
6. Deathstars (a.k.a. Terminators and their ilk)
7. Heavy Vehicles (AV13 and AV14)
8. Light Vehicles (AV12 and under)

In addition to this, I have my own criteria that I look at as well when building a list.  I also want my list to be able to handle any armor value type.  So add the following:

A. 2+
B. 3+
C. 4+
D. 5+ and 6+

That’s a lot to handle for 1850 points.  Often, when building a Take All Comers (TAC) list like this, you can’t adequately handle everything on these lists.  However, you should at least have something for each item, even if it’s not the best thing you could have come up with.  For this reason, it is frequently beneficial to have units that can fill multiple roles at once.

Now, for this particular list that I’m building I had several options.  I love my Blood Angels, but I have not been able to transition them well to 6th edition, and I just don’t have enough of a solid footing with them to feel tournament-level confident.  Dark Angels are still a very new codex, and while I think they have merit, again I don’t feel confident enough with them to bring them to a tournament.  Grey Knights are a possibility…widely considered a strong codex and I am a huge fan of the Nemesis Dreadknight.  I spent weeks trying to come up with a tournament list that I thought would work well with my play style, but in the end I couldn’t do it to my satisfaction.  Which leaves me with just one choice…Necrons.

I’ve been playing Necrons since the end of 5th edition.  I’ve had some experience using many different units in the codex, and the one thing that they have in 6th edition that really synced well with my play style was mobility.  The Night Scythe is a fantastic delivery vehicle.  You can drop your troops almost anywhere you need them while still protecting them from enemy shooting/assaults and being able to take objectives.  It’s also undeniable that Flyers are very strong in the current 40k Meta because they are hard to hit.  In addition, the Night Scythe comes with a Twin-Linked Tesla Destructor, a high volume medium strength gun that is good at killing hordes, light vehicles, other flyers, small units, and occasionally monstrous creatures.  This is what I will base my army around.

Alright, so I know my list is going to rely on flyers.  All flyers start in reserves, so even though the reserves rolls were improved in 6th edition, I still need them to be reliable, which means I’m also taking a Communications Relay either on an Aegis Defense Line or a Bastion.

Troops.  They’re definitely riding in the Scythes, and Necrons have two options: Warriors and Immortals.  I’m sticking with Gauss here, so we’re ignoring Tesla Immortals (Why?  Well, that’s a whole other post, but the short version: Gauss beats Tesla at 12 inches or less, and with Night Scythes, you can guarantee you are inside your sweet zone).  Without going into too much detail, I can tell you that point for point Warriors and Immortals are statistically identical.  A lot of people prefer to run Warriors in their Scythes because they’re cheaper, which allows you to bring more Scythes!  This is all well and good, but what many people overlook about Immortals is the crucial AP4 on their Gauss weapons.  Again, I’ve run the statistics on Warriors vs. Immortals…Against 2+, 3+, 5+, and 6+ armor values, they are functionally identical point for point.  But against 4+ armor?  Immortals are the clear winner. 

And 4+ armor, in my opinion, is the most over-looked unit type in 40k.  Anything with 4+ armor is either going to be decent at shooting or assaulting, is going to be cheap enough that you can take quite a few models, but is also going to be decently tough.  Most AP3 weapons have enough draw-backs that you generally prefer not to shoot them at 4+ models unless you have to (except the Heldrake, of course), and almost every other “standard” anti-infantry weapon in the game is AP5 or worse (Heavy Bolters and Assault Cannons are the two ranged exceptions…and honestly, they are pretty rare if you think about it).

So, I’m taking Immortals for the AP4.  With Immortals in Scythes, I’ve got 1, 2, 5, 8, C, D, and a little bit of 3 and 4 covered.  However, in order to be sure I can tackle MSU 3+ armor, I’m going to need some AP3.  What’s the best AP3 platform I can think of?  The Heldrake.  I think the Heldrake is the most broken, over-powered, meta-changing addition to 40k…but you know what?  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  The Heldrake will take care of my 3+ armor and MSU nicely.

Of course, if I’m bringing a Drake, I need a Chaos troop choice.  The troops I already have are all buttoned up in Scythes, so I really need a backfield objective holder.  Cultists are cheap, which is perfect for this role.  It would be nice if they could shoot or something, but let’s be honest…they just need to hold an objective and the Comms Relay.  Stick ‘em behind an Aegis, and now they’re tough to kill as well.  Perfect.  Even if my opponent has something that can kill them, he has to go all the way to the other side of the board to do it, costing him time and effort while I focus the rest of my army on his juicy parts.

Alright, so what am I missing?  I have not yet covered 6, 7, or A, and I don’t have a ton of 4 or 8.  Well, to add to my 4 and 8, I’m going to take Annihilation Barges, which are basically just Night Scythes that can’t fly and have Heavy Armor (AV13).  By adding more Twin-Linked Tesla Destructors I up the amount of 8 I can deal with, and I have the secondary ability to handle 4, 6, and A through volume of fire.

At this point, I should also point out that my list is developing a strong sense of denial.  I’ve already got mobility, but now I’ve also got another thing going for me:  my opponent won’t have anything to shoot his anti-infantry weapons at until I let him.  I’m completely denying him an entire aspect of his army.  On turn one, he can shoot his small weapons at two things: AV13 armor, and cultists behind an Aegis.  Not ideal choices for him.

We’re almost done.  I still haven’t gotten to my HQs yet, and I know I have nothing that can handle 7 (Heavy Vehicles).  Well, I decided to add in Harbingers of the Storm, a Necron unit that has Haywire shooting.  Mathematically, I know that I will average 4 glances with a unit of 8 Immortals with one Harbinger of the Storm attached.  Perfect for Heavy Vehicles.  However, I do have to be close to do it, because the Harbinger range is only 12 inches, plus I need to be in rapid fire range for the Gauss.  However, this is not a problem because it synchronizes very well with my Night Scythes, which allow me to place my troops exactly in my sweet spot shooting range.  Put one Harbinger in each Immortal squad.

And since I’m bringing Harbingers, I know I need an HQ that lets me take a Royal Court.  I’m not a big fan of any of the named HQs, because they’re expensive, so I’m going to go with a standard Overlord.  I debated for a long time whether to have the Lord sit in one of the Scythes, or to have him on his own in a Command Barge.  The Barge is nice, because he gets freedom of movement, its another AV13 vehicle on the field which adds to the deny aspect of my army, the Barge is pretty good at taking out Heavy Vehicles which adds to my ability to handle 7, with Mindshackle Scarabs he can be a nasty deterrent to Monstrous Creatures, and he can be a nice bait unit due to the Slay the Warlord secondary objective.  If I put him in a Scythe he would….well, he would be protected but he wouldn’t do much else.  Reward over risk, Command Barge it is. 

Finally, I still need an HQ for my Chaos allies.  Am I still missing anything on my list?  Most of it is covered, but I do have one gap that is empty…counter-assault.  I have a very shooty army that does not want to be anywhere near assault, so it makes sense that I would at least want some kind of assault deterrent.  That, and I love monstrous creatures.  Daemon Princes!  And they can fly, which is synergistic with my flyer theme.  So, the final piece of the puzzle is a beefy Daemon Prince with wings.

So there we have it.  I’ve got solutions for all of the TAC problems listed, as well as my own.  They are not all perfect…I’m slightly weak in the Monstrous Creature and the Heavy Vehicles department, but at least I have a tool to use should I come up against those in a match.

The final list below is the one I submitted for my first preparation tournament.  There are two primer tournaments before the big CAG-Bash tournament, and I’m going to take this list with me to test out my ideas before the big dance. 

Next week, I’ll dive into Battle Reports and Tactical thoughts from my first Tournament Primer where I faced none other than Drkmorals!!!!

                        -Mindshackle Scarabs
                        -Command Barge

Royal Court
                        -3x Harbinger of the Storm

Daemon Prince
                        -Power Armor
                        -Black Mace
8x Gauss Immortals
                        8x Gauss Immortals
8x Gauss Immortals
20x Chaos Cultists

Fast Attack

            Heavy Support
Annihilation Barge
                        -Tesla Cannon
Annihilation Barge
                        -Tesla Cannon
Annihilation Barge
                        -Tesla Cannon

Aegis Defense Line
                        -Comms Relay

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