Wednesday, August 5, 2020

9th Ed GT Missions Breakdown - Secondaries

Greetings, all! Today I'm going to break down the Secondary missions from the 9th Ed GT pack and give my initial impressions. Biggest caveat being, this is nearly all theoretical at this point, so take my conclusions with a grain of salt.

Grand Tournament 2020 Chapter Approved 2020 Mission Pack ...

Just at face value, I want to start by focusing on the Secondaries. The Primary mission is essentially the same for all missions, with a couple wrinkles thrown in here and there. The strategy for the Primary boils down to "hold at least two objectives to start each of your turns." However, the Secondary objectives add up to half your possible score, and there are a bunch to choose from.

As an overview, each secondary comes from one of five categories, or the mission itself. Each player selects three secondaries, with none coming from the same category. Each secondary is worth up to 15 points. I've put together a spreadsheet listing all the secondaries and a few thoughts on them. To note, I included a "Floor" column, which is essentially my best guess at a reasonable worst outcome when selecting the secondary, but we'll get more into that as we continue. Now, on to the analysis!

Selection: To note, secondaries are selected before deployment zones are chosen and who is going first is known. There are a couple that are easier or harder going first or second, and as a result, may be a bit of a gamble to take, since they go from maybe easy to achieve when going first to extremely difficult if going second.

Now, let's go through each of the categories and missions.

Battlefield Supremacy
As a whole, these are some of the safer secondaries, in that you can reasonably expect to earn 6-9 points from them, even if the game goes fairly poorly. Part of that is that they rely on just existing in a space and are achieved at the end of your turn, so just moving into those spaces will net you some points, and as long as you have enough units, you can continue to throw units into the spaces to continue existing. That said, they are also fairly difficult to max out.

  • Engage on All Fronts (ITC Recon): Have a unit wholly within three quarters (and not within 6" of center) for 2VP, or all four quarters for 3VP at the end of your turn. Most armies should be able to achieve this at least three times in three quarters, for 6VP. However, to max, you must occupy all four quarters for all five turns of the game. I expect the average score will be somewhere around 10VP for reasonably mobile and MSU armies, which makes it a very safe option. Difficulty Rating: Medium
  • Linebreaker: Have two units wholly within the enemy deployment zone for 4VP. This is a little army dependent, but more aggressive combat armies should be able to achieve this at least twice in a game, for a floor of 8VP. However, doing so can lead to some hefty attrition, making achieving it more than that potentially problematic. Fast Assault armies can reasonably expect 8-12 VP from this, but maxing out by doing it in four out of five turns could be difficult, particularly without simply throwing units away. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • Domination: Hold and control more than half the objectives at the end of your turn for 3VP. Most of the missions have 6 objectives, with some having 4 or 5. Holding 4 objectives can be difficult to pull off reliably, which is why I think a floor floor for this objective is 6VP. 9VP will be a reasonable expectation as long as the game is going ok for you, but 12VP seems difficult unless you're already dominating the game. As such, this becomes a "win-more" objective, which means it relies on you doing well otherwise, and will be difficult to pull anything from if the game is going poorly. The upside is this is in-line with what you need to do for the Primary mission to both maximize your score and mitigate your opponent's, so you're not diverting attention away from the Primary to achieve this Secondary. Lastly, this is one of the Secondaries that seems marginally easier if you are going first, and somewhat harder when going second. Difficulty Rating: Medium
No Mercy, No Respite:
This category of mission (along with the next category, Purge the Enemy) is about destruction and is almost entirely dependent on how your list matches up with your opponent's. As such, these are some of the easiest to analyze at the table when glancing over your opponent's list, and should potentially be your first set of decision points when opting for secondaries. 
  • Thin Their Ranks: Kill points, essentially: 1 point per model, with 10+ Wound models counting for 10. Divide the tally by 10 and round down at the end of the game for your total. This mission is entirely dependent on the enemy list and how well you think you can whittle it down. Elite infantry armies won't give up many points at all to this mission, so you can skip right on by. Even hoardier armies will often give up 10 or less points to this unless completely tabled, so it's not an auto-take, even when facing down 120 Termagants (and will that still be a thing?) As we get into the new edition, this might be a good secondary just to calculate out at the end of the game to get a feel for how your army would do if you need to choose it in a given matchup. Difficulty Rating: Matchup Dependent
  • Grind Them Down: Score 3VP at the end of the Battle Round if more enemy units were destroyed than Friendly units. This one is interesting, and is the anti-MSU secondary. Given the fairly wide consensus early on that MSU is the way to go for most armies, this may become an easy choice for certain armies that are fielding only a handful of durable units. For many armies and matchups though, this will be more of a coin-flip, and another "win-more" objective that would be tough to rely on for more than 6VP. Difficulty Rating: Matchup Dependent
  • While We Stand, We Fight: Select the three most expensive models in your army. Get 5VP for each one that is still alive at the end of the game. This is definitely an interesting one, and unlike the others in this category, does not require destroying enemies, but instead preserving a couple models on your side. This is very army dependent, but armies that rely on expensive but somewhat durable buffing characters might see this as a bit of a no-brainer. Difficulty Rating: List Dependent
Purge the Enemy:
As the previous category, these secondaries are based on destroying enemy units and dependent on the opposing list's composition, as well as how well equipped your list is to deal with it. 
  • Titan Hunters: Score 10VP for destroying one enemy model with the Titanic keyword, 12VP if you destroy two, and 15VP if you destroy three or more. If facing down a Knight army or something similar, this is a pretty straightforward choice and should make for at least 10 points. Difficulty Rating: Matchup Dependent
  • Bring It Down: Score 2VP for each monster or vehicle of 10 or less wounds, and 3VP for each over 10 wounds, that you destroy. Again, fairly straightforward and dependent on the enemy list. Even against lists that it might not be maxable, this is a good choice if they have a handful of vehicles or monsters that either must be used aggressively to be effective, or must be removed quickly to preserve your own forces. Difficulty Rating: Matchup Dependent
  • Cut off the Head: Score points for killing the enemy Warlord, with diminishing returns the longer the game goes on. The max is 13VP if you destroy the enemy Warlord in turn one. Meanwhile, this potential goes down to 10VP on turn two, 6VP on turn three, 3VP on turn four, and just 1VP on turn five. The diminishing returns and general ability of armies to protect their Warlord makes this look like a pretty poor choice at first glance. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • Assassinate: Score 3VP for each enemy Character that you destroy. This one is dependent on matchup and enemy list, but will likely be a decent option against many lists that feature four or more characters. Difficulty Rating: Matchup Dependent
Shadow Operations:
These four Secondaries are the first to involve the new (Action) mechanics, requiring Infantry units to give up their offensive turn when on a particular location on the table in order to score points. The (Action) mechanic is a new one and is an interesting twist for armies including units traditionally that just camped on objectives. This gives those units something to do, but may require them to be hardy enough to survive for a while. 
  • Raise the Banners High: Units begin this action at the end of the movement phase, and complete it at the end of their turn. They must be controlling an objective that has no enemy units in range, and does not already have a banner on it. Banners remain until the objective is controlled by the enemy at the end of any phase. Points for this objective are scored at the end of the command phase and the game, with one point per objective with a banner raised on it. It sounds a little convoluted, but in practice won't be. That said, since scoring this objective isn't done until the turn after which the banner was raised, and they can be removed somewhat simply, keeping more than one or two banners up at the start of each turn seems difficult. Doing well on this objective may again fall into the category of "win-more" - while it becomes impossible to use to scrape out points if the battle of attrition is going poorly. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • Investigate Sites: Non-character Infantry units can begin this action and complete it at the end of their turn if they are within 6" of the center of the battlefield and there are no enemy units in range. Each successful completion of this action scores 3VP. This secondary seems very dependent on going first, as it's theoretically possible to max out in the top of the first turn. However, when going second, it becomes extremely straightforward to deny by the enemy, by simply moving one or more units within 6" of the middle of the table. The only upside is this will force enemies to come to the middle (even more than objectives already do), allowing some armies to bait in combats, though at the expense of scoring this secondary for most or all of the game. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • Deploy Scramblers: Non-character Infantry units can complete this action when wholly within either deployment zone, or outside 6" of both deployment zones. If this action is completed in all three of those zones, you score 10VP. This objective is all-or-nothing, and capped at 10/15 points. However, it is impossible to deny, so armies with a plan and units capable of getting to the two further zones can reasonably achieve this secondary and earn a safe 10VP. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • Teleport Homer: An Infantry unit begins this action at the end of your movement phase, and completes it at the end of your next Command phase, and has to be wholly within the enemy Deployment zone. Each successful completion of this action earns 4VP. The fact that units must be danger-close to where most enemy forces are and survive until your next turn, makes this a fairly difficult secondary to accomplish. Not to mention, units generally capable of getting into the enemy zone and surviving usually want to be dealing damage while they are still there. That said, there may be a bit of value in forcing enemy target priority. Difficulty Rating: Very Hard
The final subsection of secondaries, these all have to do with Psykers and most require a Psyker to perform a Psychic Action, which is a psychic test and can be done instead of casting other powers, and cannot be done if performing other actions or if they fell back. Most of these are easy to cast powers (WC 3-4) and outside of Deny the Witch, is instantaneous and easily accomplished. However, the downside is you're giving up a psyker's output otherwise. 
  • Abhor the Witch: This secondary can only be taken if you have no Psykers in your army, and gets you 5VP for each Psyker Character that is destroyed, and 3VP for non-character Psyker units. So long as you don't have psykers, this will be a good option if your opponent has 2-3 important Psykers. Difficulty Rating: Matchup Dependent
  • Mental Interrogation: Score 3VP each time the psychic action is completed, which must be cast on an enemy Character within 18". If your army has one or more psykers, particularly mobile ones, this will be potential secondary for a safe 6-9VP. The upside for this Secondary is that it is scored as you go, and can be performed by multiple casters throughout the game (though you can only attempt it with one psyker per turn. Difficulty Rating: Medium
  • Psychic Ritual: Score 15VP if you perform the Action three times with the same Psyker. The Action is performed if within 6" of the center of the board. The upside to this secondary is that it only has to be done three times to score max. The downside, however, is that it has to be performed by a single psyker, and it is all-or-nothing; if you have a psyker who performs the action twice and is then destroyed (or otherwise prevented from performing the action), a different psyker performing the action once will not award any points. Difficulty Rating: Medium
  • Pierce the Veil: Score 8VP if one unit completed the Action twice, or 15VP if one unit completed the Action four times. The Action must be performed within 6" of the enemy battlefield edge and more than 6" from any enemy models. On the surface, this secondary seems incredibly difficult. This is the only Psychic Action that requires the Psyker to be away from enemy units, and also needs to be on the opposing board edge, and performed four times to max, or twice to score a decent 8VP. Like Psychic Ritual, the same Psyker must perform the action all four times - two Psykers performing it twice each will still only award 8VP. Difficulty Rating: Very Hard
Mission Secondaries:
In addition to the five categories, each mission also comes with a bespoke Secondary. We'll run through the nine Strike Force Secondaries here, very briefly. 
  • 11 - Retrieval Mission: Minimise Losses: Count the number of units in your army and score 5VP for every full 25% of that unit count remaining at the end of the game. This total count is adjusted if units split or merge together. For example, if you begin with 15 units, and then during the game, split one unit into two units, your unit count is 16. At the end of the game, for every 4 units you have left, you score 5VP. Another "win-more" secondary, but also a reasonably passive one for most armies that will generally be trying to minimize losses. Difficulty Rating: List Dependent
  • 12 - Scorched Earth: Raze: Score 6VP for each objective on the enemy deployment line that was Razed (which is done by performing an Action on the objective). The Action must begin at the start of the Movement Phase, meaning you have to have a unit already on an enemy objective and no enemies within range. This will be doable by some armies in some matchups, but seems fairly difficult. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • 13 - Vital Intelligence: Data Intercept: Score a number of VP equal to the number of Objectives you control when the Action is completed. The Action can be performed at the end of the Movement phase, when holding an objective without enemy units in range, and is completed at the end of your following Command Phase. Only one unit per turn can perform this action, and has to be able to survive on that objective until your next turn. The mission features four objectives across the diagonal midline, and one in each deployment zone, so, depending on terrain setup, many armies could devote one of their backfield objective holders to completing this objective for several turns, earning at least 6 or so points. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • 21 - Surround and Destroy: Surround Them: Score 4VP if you control both home objectives and one enemy objective at the end of your Command Phase and end of the game, and 8VP if you control all four. While difficult, armies with mobile and durable Troops, or just generally aggressive armies may be able to score this with some regularity. Importantly, it doesn't require Actions, or even clean objectives, just control. Difficulty Rating: Medium
  • 22 - Battle Lines: Vital Ground: At the end of each friendly Command Phase (outside the first), score 3VP for controlling the Objective in the enemy deployment zone, and 2VP for each of the two midfield objectives. This secondary aligns with your goals within the Primary mission, and most armies should hope to be holding at least one midfield objective each turn. While maxing might require "win-more" - scoring a healthy 6-8 points is fairly reasonable. Difficulty Rating: Medium
  • 23 - The Scouring: Strategic Scan: Score points based on the number of Objectives you successfully perform the Strategic Scan Action on. The Action must be done on un-scanned objectives and no enemy units can be in range; the Action begins at the end of the Movement phase, and is completed in the following Command phase. One or two objectives scanned awards 3VP each, three objectives awards 10VP, and four or more objectives is worth 15VP. To note, no objectives are in the deployment zones in this mission. This will be easier if going first, but regardless, scanning two objectives is fairly reasonable, for 6VP. Difficulty Rating: Medium
  • 31 - Overrun: Overrun: Score at the end of your command phase based on the number of Objectives you control in the enemy half of the table. Score 2VP for one, 3VP for two, and 5VP for all three. This feels like another "win-more" objective, as controlling more than one of the objectives after the opponent's turn will require the game to be going well as a whole. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • 32 - Sweep and Clear: Direct Assault: Score 3VP for controlling the center or enemy Objective, and 5VP for controlling both, at the end of your turn. With the scoring of these objectives done at the end of your turn, this becomes a very appealing objective as you have your turn to clear and claim one or both of the objectives. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • 33 - Priority Target: Priority Targets: Score 3VP for controlling either Priority Objective, and 5VP for controlling both, at the end of your turn. With one of the Priority Objectives chosen by you and within your table half, holding one at the end of your turn should be a fairly straightforward goal for most armies, and doing so for at least four turns seems very reasonable. Difficulty Rating: Easy
Strategy For Selecting Secondaries:
We have gone through all the secondaries, and there are a bunch! Selecting three of these is going to take some practice and experience on the table to really nail down, but in general, I think there are a couple strategies you can employ to make the best choices, as these will often spell the difference in games. 

First off, consider secondaries when list-building. Make sure there are one or two Secondaries your army can achieve reasonably well, regardless of opponent. Most likely these will come from the Battlefield Supremacy or Shadow Operations sections, but it may be worth glancing at No Mercy, No Respite and Warpcraft Secondaries as well when building your list. For example, if your army wants to have two or more buffing characters and few other expensive models, it might be worth skipping taking one transport to make your three most expensive models protectable Characters that want to be in the midst of your lines. 

Next, keep in mind the difficulty, particularly of maxing, on all these Secondaries. Many of us, coming from 8th Edition and ITC missions, are used to looking to which Secondaries we can score full points on. However, these secondaries are largely extremely difficult to max out, so instead, weigh the Secondaries that should reliably return 6-10VP over the ones that could score you 15. For example, don't dismiss Bring It Down as an option when your opponent only has three vehicles, particularly if you need to destroy those three vehicles to reliably perform your goals on the table. 

Finally, be wary of Secondaries that require your opponent's cooperation, or otherwise have a straightforward means of denial by your opponent. Examples of this would be Investigate Sites or the Warpcraft Secondaries that require performing Psychic Actions. For the former, your opponent simply has to move a single model within 6" of the center of the table in each of their turns to deny this secondary all game long, particularly if they went first. For Warpcraft, if you only have a single Psyker in your list, that model becomes a prime target for the enemy to remove and thus turn off any potential to score those Secondaries.

For a briefer breakdown, again, check out the spreadsheet we put together, and let us know if you disagree with any of our assessments. 

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