Saturday, June 17, 2017

Out with 7th; In with 8th

I've had the beginnings of this post, a tournament report from the De-La-Warr Open, partially written for over a month. And like much of my attitude to 7th this year, I just never felt fully motivated to finish it and was more interested in looking ahead to 8th. With the official release of 8th today, I thought I'd finish this, and talk briefly about the path ahead in the new edition.

For those who don't know, the DeLaWarr Open is a 6-round GT held in Newark, Delaware, hosting some absolutely brutal top-end competition. Some notable names in the field included Andrew Gonyo (ETC Team America Captain), Nick Nanavati (4-time Adepticon Champion), Matt Schuchman (2-time Hammer in the New Year Champion), and Nick Rose.

I'd been agonizing over my list for months, and had been planning on running Magnus with Daemons, but between the Sisters of Silence update and the official announcement of 8th Edition, my devotion to the army waned. I had been expecting 8th Edition this summer, but when it was officially announced I questioned my initial plan of buying a good number of models and spending a lot of time painting up a force for one event.

In the end, I opted to take Tyranids in no small part because they were all painted already. In hindsight I regret it just a little; I knew the field would be tough, but still wanted to go at least 3-3. I probably should have gone for an Ynnari list instead, similar to what I took to an RTT back in February, or spent a bit more time on my models and painted up the Knights I have assembled.

Regardless, the list I ended up was a variation of my list from Warzone Atlanta:

Double CAD Tyranids:
  • 3x Hive Tyrants: 2xTL Devourers, Electroshock Grubs, Wings
  • Hive Tyrant: 2xTL Devourers, Electroshock Grubs, Wings, Hive Commander
  • 2x Tervigon
  • 2x30 Termagants
  • 10 Hormagaunts
  • 2x1 Malanthrope
  • Sanctum Imperialis
Round 1 I had the somewhat misfortune of drawing Nick Nanavati with his "unholy matrimony" list of Daemons and Eldar. The list was a Daemon CAD with Fatey, Screamerstar, and Brimstones; then a Pale Host detachment with 6x7 Warp Spiders with Exarchs, 3 of which were in an Aspect Host.

I got some pretty good rolls pregame, with the Infiltrate Warlord trait, two Psychic Screams and two Catalysts. The mission was Scouring on Hammer & Anvil and I was deploying first. I opted to infiltrate 3 of the flyrants and one of the blobs of gants to surround the midfield objectives. As a result, Nick could null deploy with his own Sanctum Imperialis and the two brimstone units. 

I went for the table (best play) and flew up the three infiltrating flyrants to draw line of sight on the Brimstones. After two screams and flamers and devourers, I killed 9 of 11 in one squad, and only about 5 in the other. Even had I had a fourth flyrant infiltrating I probably wouldn't have killed off both squads, but would have likely forced Nick to deploy a third unit to be safe. 

From there I had to bail off the board with the forward flyrants, but then proceeded to perils on a catalyst with one who grounded himself, getting stuck on the board. That flyrant promptly died to Warp Spiders in the bottom of turn 2.

I maxed primary by turn 4, but missed out on two tertiary kill points and Moment of Bloodshed thanks to Fateweaver's reroll being used to save the last wound on a Bloodcrusher. Throughout the game I was 0-3 on grounding checks, two of which were self-induced thanks to Perils; the second was a 6 which I then rolled 11 for the Ld check. Nick capitalized on my mistakes and poor rolls and by turn 5 was firmly in control of the board. The game ended with a 19-13 win for Nick. 

Game two I wound up against James Watkins, who was running a Ravenwing force with Sisters of Silence and Skyhammer. The mission was board quarters and I opted for end game scoring as my primary mission. I chose Linebreaker, Strike the Rank and File (Troops), and Moment of Bloodshed as my secondaries. James opted for turn by turn and took First Blood, Linebreaker, and Marked for Death on my red Tervigon.

I won the roll for deploying and let Skyhammer and James taking first blood get in my head and opted to deploy first. This probably killed what little chance I had of winning in hindsight. James counter deployed defensively, protecting the Sisters and rhinos really well. 

Top of 1 I stayed fairly still, but flew two flyrants off the board, hiding a third, and moving up into a corner with the fourth. James dropped both Skyhammer Devastators right by the forward flyrant, rolled an obscene number of 6s to hit, and downed the Flyrant in short order. From there I leaned heavily to my left flank (as the Grav devs would have to hoof it from the back right), but over the next two turns would ground two of my flyrants with Perils (on the one spell I tried to cast as most of the board was covered by Sisters' Nope Aura) and the game descended pretty rapidly as I couldn't get any breaks to overcome my early mistakes. In the end, James won 19-5.

By game three I was a bit down from being crushed, and also melting as the AC had broken, but still was going to have a good time and rolled up against Kenneth and his Necrons. My first thought was that I knew Necrons pretty well so this is good; and then I remembered Round 1 from Warzone Atlanta where I let time beat me against Necrons by being a bit complacent, as well as the fact I took Necrons to the last two NOVAs because I couldn't beat the Necron lists I had with my Tyranid lists.

Kenneth's list was a Decurion with two Ghost Arks in the Reclamation Legion and a 10 man squad of Tesla Immortals, a beefed up Canoptek Harvest with 6 Whip Coil Wraiths, and a Destroyer Cult with the Overlord tooled up to lead the Wraiths.

The mission was NOVA Mission 1 - Crusade, with pre-placed objectives, and Vanguard Strike Deployment. I took the progressive primary looking to capitalize on my Objective Secured, and Kenneth did as well. For secondaries I took Marked for Death on the Harvest Spyder, Slay the Warlord, and Linebreaker. Kenneth took Linebreaker, Marked for Death on my Hormagaunts, and Last Laugh.

I deployed first and deployed the two gant blobs along my line, with the flyrants in two pockets of two around the malanthropes. I'd rolled the Stealth Ruins Warlord trait so made sure to hug to ruins a bit, even if very little of the Necron shooting ignored my armor. I outflanked with one Tervigon and held the marked hormagaunts in reserve. Kenneth deployed his Harvest and Reclamation Legion, with the Wraiths in the center lead by the Destroyer Lord. He held the Destroyers and Warlord Overlord in reserve.

I had first turn and the flyrants spent the early turns swooping around killing stuff, as they do, while my Tervigon on the board spawned massive brood after massive brood, clogging up the board with more bodies than the Necrons could chew through. Turns three on largely revolved around him trying to chew through my Termagant walls and my Tervigons just constantly resupplying them with super high rolls; the Tervigon that started on the board never doubled out and rolled a 6 and a 5 on all five turns. On turn four Kenneth made a play for the marked Hormagaunts, using Veil of Darkness to jump out of Termagant hell, but scattered 10" and just clipped the Hormagaunts, mishapping and going into reserves. Had I managed to kill a single Wraith they would have been able to fit.

At the end of the game, the numbers of ObSec bodies were just too much and my Nids took home their first victory, 16-12. And so ended Day 1; after a few hours of sleep we were back at it for day 2, where I started off against Mark and his War Convocation army. Blissfully, the room was much cooler on Sunday.

Mark's WarCon included a Tigurius Libby Conclave and a shooty Knight. The mission was Relic on Hammer & Anvil deployment. I went for End Game, as did Mark. I took Slay them All (destroy a detachment), Marked the Onager with Skyfire, and Through Attrition, Victory (HPs on the Knight). Mark took Linebreaker, Slay the Warlord, and Big Game Hunter on the Hive Commander flyrant.

Mark deployed first and went largely up on the line. I'd rolled the Infiltrate Warlord Trait and put it on all of my Flyrants. Deploying and going second, I had to keep the flyrants in reserve, choosing to Outflank with them. In the top of the turn, Mark jumped forward with his Conclave and Grav Destroyers with the electric slide power, while putting Ignores Cover on the squad. Revealing objectives, he managed to get a Skyfire nexus in part thanks to the relic on his Rangers Princeps which let him reroll. He blasted the Tervigon to pieces without trouble and brought the Ruststalkers and Infiltrators up to be right in my face.

In my turn I used the hormagaunts to eat the overwatch from the grav squad, then followed up with the larger remaining termagant blob, just looking to tie them down for a little bit. In his second turn Mark shuffled around a little, with the two Sicaran units jumping into the two gant blobs and basically wiping both.

In the bottom of the turn, I got three of my four flyrants and had the Warlord come on one side while I could choose with the other two. I plinked two hull points off the Onager with the Warlord, but then failed to do much of anything else with the other two. Mark promptly shot the Warlord and both other flyrants out of the sky with Grav Devastators and the Knight standing on the Skyfire Nexus, while Ignoring Cover on the Knight. The rest of the game was pretty much mop up for Mark, ending with a 19-3 Victory as I was eventually able to kill the Onager before being tabled.

I made a few mistakes in this game, but was in a bit of a hole from the start with the powers Mark was able to roll and then getting a Skyfire Nexus while going first. I might have been better served deploying the Flyrants, knowing at least one was going to eat it turn 1, but then having an actual counter punch on the table turn 1. I also probably shouldn't have charged the Grav squad with the Conclave at all. I was looking to tie them up, but at the time I had mostly gaunts with 6+ saves, so didn't really need to be worrying about the grav then. Also, had I taken the progressive primary I might have been able to squeak out a few more points, though I don't think the game would have gone my way with that change.

Deflated from my tabling, I rolled up to Game 5 to see Dave and his Magnus, Fateweaver, Screamerstar list. I feel bad for saying it in hindsight, but I asked him something to the effect of "how the hell are you 1-3?" The list was pretty brutal and I was definitely concerned about this matchup. The mission was the Scouring on Hammer & Anvil deployment. I took the progressive primary while Dave opted for end game. For secondaries I took Linebreaker, Kill Points, and Big Game Hunter (expecting Warlord/Fatey to be hard to get to and Magnus an enemy linchpin).

Dave won the roll for deployment and chose to go first, putting Fatey and Magnus up on the line on either side of the Screamer star, with Cultist units holding down objectives in the backfield along with the VSG. I deployed with gaunts strung across my line and my big stuff 43+" from Fatey and Magnus to avoid D powers.

Turn 1 Dave flew forward with the star and two big FMCs, cast a few powers killing off some gants, and summoning a couple chariots. I flew my flyrants up and into range of Magnus while my gant screens bumped forward very slowly (rolled low on MTC and runs, and had to regain coherency from the holes blasted in them by powers). In shooting I unloaded everything into Magnus and wounded him twice, as well as grounding him, but had nothing in range to charge to pin him down.

In turn 2 Dave continued to push forward, putting Magnus toward the board edge as I'd conveniently lined up 3 of my flyrants for a D beam. He also deep struck a unit of Brimstones in my back corner. The flyrants took 3, 2, and 3 wounds respectively from the beam, with the one taking 2 getting grounded (but not wounded) and then charged by the screamer star. Flickering fires also did 3 wounds to the fourth flyrant, who managed to stay in the air. The combat with the screamerstar was fairly uneventful with neither side taking a wound.

In my turn my flyrants limped forward and unloaded on Fateweaver, taking him down to 1 wound remaining, then grounding him, but he used his reroll to stay in the air. One of the gant blobs, along with a spawned unit and the tervigon, shot into the Brimstone horrors, with the blob then charging in to get rid of the survivors. My hormagaunts and one blob of termagants charged in to a summoned unit of Pink Horrors, hoping to use shadows and a few wounds to cause an instability flicker out, but largely whiffed or bounced thanks to cursed earth.

In the remaining time, my Outflanking Tervigon came in on his back board corner and spawned a couple big units into the building occupied by cultists, ending up wiping them out with the help of their progenitor and taking that objective. Two of the flyrants were cut down while the third in the air just managed to limp away long enough to take down fateweaver. Magnus was up to no good in my backfield, but was still in the air at the end of the game, where I managed to eke out a victory.

The last game of the event I came up against Aaron and his Tau gunrig army that was based around a funny gimmick he wanted to try just once in 7th: three gunrigs operated and fired by Darkstrider, giving the target -1 Toughness, and comboing with a buff commander to basically auto-delete T6 Monsters.

Despite joking before the event that he had the one army I didn't want to face, this was definitely my favorite game of the weekend, with both of us slugging it out to an extremely well played draw, which Aaron won on points destroyed tie-breaker.

In the end, I enjoyed the event and spending time with friends I've made at previous events. However, I was pretty disappointed with my games; partly my performance and overall record, but moreso just taking Tyranids. But, onward to 8th!

Unlike for just about the entirety of 7th Edition, Tyranids are starting out looking pretty rosy for 8th edition, with a bunch of units across the book having potential, and some really strong lists coming together.

Beyond just my first love army, the edition itself is looking really great to me, and pretty much everyone I've talked to is excited about the revamp. It's only the official release day, but thanks to leaked copies, I've actually already played six games in the new edition and I feel that I've homed in a bit on my list for ATC in just four weeks!

Last weekend, James, Andrew, and Ron came over and we threw down a bunch of games on Friday and Saturday. I think we all left the weekend feeling pretty happy with the edition, having learned a lot, which I was able to start processing later in the week after my brain recovered.

Rushing Nids encounter stalwart gunline AdMech Robots
My early takeaways from the edition are:

The game is balanced like it never has been before: that's not saying it's perfect or even extremely balanced across all factions - I haven't seen enough to make that call. Instead, what I mean is that there have been clear attempts made at balancing mechanics and builds - combat is extremely strong, but doesn't inherently trump shooting if a combat army reaches (which they will). Similaly, MSU and Elite or Large Blob armies have balanced strengths and weaknesses through various mechanics like the player who gets to pick first turn (favoring low unit count) vs. filling out bigger detachments to get more command points (favoring MSU).

The fight phase can be pivotal and can require clear communication and precise movement. Particularly in a competitive setting, it's going to be vital that players are very clear about their intentions with model placement in the fight phase as it matters, a LOT. And while a lot of the game mechanics are more streamlined, my games haven't been faster in large part because I'm playing a combat army that requires very exacting movement of a lot of models in the Fight phase. This is probably the most time consuming part of the game as it stands now.

Everything dies, and dies fast. So far I haven't seen an instance where there hasn't been pretty heavy casualties on both sides, and things dying very quickly when units are doing what they're supposed to be doing. To be fair, I haven't played or seen a game with Necrons or Nurgle yet, but in the games with 24W T8 super heavies - things died fast, including the superheavies.
It's fun - just flat out, the game is so much more fun that it has been for a long time - in most of my games I felt like I was about to win a crushing victory in my turn, and thought I was about to be tabled in my opponent's turn. This won't always be the case of course, but with balanced matchups and solid play on both sides, players are able to absorb casualties and hit back really hard.

It's a different game, do your best to leave your preconceived notions at the door. This is pretty straightforward to say, but pretty hard to do. The game, while maintaining some core characteristics, plays totally different and comparing stats, points, or much of anything else from 8th to its predecessors is really a bit of a waste of time. Really you're just going to have to dig in to start figuring out what works and what doesn't, because what works now may only work because of totally new mechanics in the game.

Play it as it lies for a while - don't make knee-jerk reactions and changes, This is my last point for this article, and I think it can't be stressed enough. I've seen outrage and unease all over about various mechanics, but from my experience so far, those mechanics work and changing them could upset some of the balancing mechanics built into the game.

The mechanic I've seen questioned the most is giving the player who finishes deploying first the choice of first turn. The complaints often cite how hard 4 Knights are going to hit getting to always go first. While true, they hit hard, in my game against 3 Knights with Daemon support with my Tyranids, I can confidently say it wouldn't have been a game at all if the Nids got to go first. The game still ended in a tabling of the Knights on turn 5, but it was very much in the balance through turn 3. Had I gone first with the Nids, one or two Knights would have been destroyed or seriously damaged and degraded before getting to do anything, putting most of the punch out of the list from the word go.

Thank you for making it to the end of this long and long overdue post. With excitement way up for the new edition, we here at FTGT are hopeful that we'll start getting a little more regular again. In the mean time, what have been your early impressions of the New Warhammer 40k? How are you liking it and what takeaways do you have so far?

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