Friday, February 4, 2011

Dundracon 2011 - 40k Tournament around the corner

It's tourney time in this neck of the woods, and with the approach of the ONE Con I'm pretty much guaranteed to attend during the year, my thoughts turn to lists.

With MSU, Null Deployment, Razorspam, Wolfmissiles and Dark Eldar Alpha Strike all abuzz on teh interwebz, one might be tempted to gear one's list towards beating these power-builds. I, however, am not. I'm going to go have FUN. Too bad the WAACs won't be joining me...

Let's take a look at my first prospective list...

1 Autarch
   1 Autarch - Forceshield; Mandiblaster; Warp Jump Generators; Power Weapon; Shuriken Pistol; Fusion Gun; Haywire Grenades; Plasma Grenades

7 Dire Avengers
  1 Dire Avenger Exarch - Power Weapon; Shimmershield
  1 Wave Serpent - Spirit Stones; Star Engines; TL Shuriken Catapults; TL Missile Launchers
7 Dire Avengers
  1 Dire Avenger Exarch - Power Weapon; Shimmershield
  1 Wave Serpent - Spirit Stones; Star Engines; TL Shuriken Catapults; TL Missile Launchers

5 Fire Dragons
   5 Fire Dragons - Fusion Gun
   1 Wave Serpent - Spirit Stones; Star Engines; TL Shuriken Catapults; TL Starcannons

3 Night Spinner
   3 Night Spinner - Spirit Stones; TL Shuriken Catapults; Doomweaver

8 Striking Scorpions
   7 Striking Scorpions - Mandiblaster; Scorpion Chainsword; Shuriken Pistol; Plasma Grenades
   1 Striking Scorpion Exarch - Mandiblaster; Scorpion Chainsword; Scorpion Claw; Plasma Grenades
   1 Wave Serpent - Spirit Stones; Star Engines; TL Shuriken Catapults; TL Bright Lances

7 Warp Spiders
   6 Warp Spiders - Warp Jump Generators; Death Spinner
   1 Warp Spider Exarch - Warp Jump Generators; Powerblades; Death Spinner x2

Total Roster Cost: 1837

Now while not exactly a power build, this is a pretty mech-heavy list. There are a few details to be worked out yet (I still have 13 points to spend and I'm not entirely sold on starcannons, for example), but overall this is the basic template I'm going for.

You may notice a dearth of anti-tank spam (and yes I consider 6 fusion guns and 3 other S8 weapons a "dearth" of anti-tank in the current metagame). Like my 2010 list (which included Eldrad and 3 scatterlaser war walkers but lacked the night spinners, instead including 2 fire prisms) there is a LOT of S6 guns, most without an AP value.

'So, Fonkin, just what the heck are you trying to do with this list?' Why, I'm glad you asked, Rhetorical-Question-Used-As-An-Expository-Device!

The overall strategy is to break up the opposition and force them to come at me in discrete chunks. I'm going to use the Night Spinners to slow down massed units wherever possible, while the remaining units will attempt to digest targets of opportunity. If you can create a 'trickle' of enemy units, so that they can't all come at you at once, you have a good chance of being able to stall or stop his advance and force him to change tactics mid-game - hopefully to his or her detriment! This should handle most armies that use foot-sloggers like orks or tyranids, and even a few others.

There are many army lists that this tactic won't work against; drop-pod lists, IG Air Cavalry, fast marine lists like Descent of Angels, or any army that stays in its transports until it is where it wants to be. In those cases I will probably use a strategy of keeping everything in reserve (if I get to go last) or perhaps keeping the Night Spinners on the table as annoyance/bait if I'm forced to go first. In any event this probably won't work that well against a savvy opponent or one with a tough, modern list. I don't know how to out-resource newer codices.

Here's where the metagame comes in. Most tournaments are 3 round affairs. In the first round, anything goes. The opponent you draw is random, so you could be facing a new kid or the best player in the room. The result of that game determines what level of player you face in the second round. The results of the 2nd game determine your ranking in the final game.

I'm a middle-table player. If I face a tough opponent in turn 1, I'll probably get clobbered and end up playing someone else who lost the first round. In that case, I have a better chance of winning the 2nd game, as I'm not a really terrible player, I'm just not a super one. If I win that one, I'll be facing someone in the 3rd game who is more or less on a level with me.

The reverse is also true. Play a weaker opponent (not judging!) on turn 1 and I'll be in the top half of the grid for game 2. Get creamed in game 2 and I'm back in the middle. Game 3, there I am at the Tier 2 table again!

'But Fonkin, what has this got to do with your army list?' Why, everything, my disembodied sidekick!

The competitive part of my brain tells me that each year we will see this type of list and that type of list and so I should try to plan accordingly, or as well as I can given my 4th ed codex. I expect that Blood Angels will be very common (last year at Kublacon, the codex was brand new and there were no less than 6 Blood Angels armies present). Now that the codex is better-understood, I expect that there will be more people playing them. I know several of the people going to Dundracon this year are either switching to Blood Angels or are diehard BA fans already.

I think my list will work better against orks, tyranids, and more vanilla armies like chaos or standard marines. By game 3 of a tournament, all the toughest players are playing against other tough players. Those who bottomed out in games 1 and 2 will be playing each other. That leaves middle-of-the-road players like, well, me!

Knowing that low-armor value armies tend to land in the middle, I should really be building my army to deal with generic threats - not to try to beat the biggest, baddest armies currently published. Night Spinners handle this sort of army beautifully, as do warp spiders and scorpions.

So, in short, I'm building my list to try to win game 3.

I could be sabotaging myself. I could misjudge the metagame, and there's always room for statistical anomalies, but overall I'm looking for a good 3rd game at Dundracon this time.


  1. Love your thinking, and I'm a huge fan of the nightspinner (although have never tried 3!). It sure would make a mess of a horde army and would be brilliant against a BA foot army (nightspinners are perfect against BA jump army's - they're never going to be in cover so you get to make the most of the rending plus there's no FnP against dangerous terrain tests).

    What's your reasoning on the serpent weaponry? I generally find as a scatter lasers (or plain old cannons) more effective against any armour up to 12 than a EML, and better against troops too. (of course if you have the underslung cannon on the serpents the eml's great as you can move 12 and still fire both by using the plasma missile (ST 4 so defensive)).

    Sure, you've got a lack on long range AT, but the nightspinners can fill in at a pinch - even against AV14. Sure it won't even scratch it, but you have a 1/6 chance of immobilising it, which is actually about the same chance you have when you shoot it with a bright lance. And an immobilised landraider is a lot less scary than a moving one.

  2. Thanks! My thinking with the loadout on the wave serpents is to be more proactive with ranged tank-busting. The chance Immobilized result is fine, but the more vehicles I pop, the more exposed infantry there will be on the table for the night spinners to web up, or to chew up with my assault units.

    As you say, the EMLs are good for hordes plus pinning checks - and wow i hadn't even thought of the EML as a defensive weapon so NICE CATCH!

    However, against FNP targets, the lances, krak EML and starcannons are golden. And I've got a thing about Blood Angels.

  3. Got a tournament of my own in a couple of weeks - 2000 points (which is crazy big for UK) and my current thinking is this:

    Eldrad = 210
    Maugan-ra = 195
    6 firedragons in wave serpent with TL scatter laser = 211
    6 firedragons in wave serpent with TL scatter laser = 211
    7 Harlequins, all with kisses, and troop master, shadow seer and death jester = 206
    5 pathfinders = 120
    6 jetbikes with 2 x shuri-cans = 152
    5 dire avengers = 60
    5 dire avengers = 60
    Fast Attack
    2 hornets with 2 scatter lasers each = 170

    heavy Support
    Night spinner = 115
    falcon with Scatter laser & shuri-can = 140
    falcon with Scatter laser & shuri-can = 140

    Would be good to compare and contrast after the tourney's are done. I'm half tempted to add another Night spinner after seeing your three, but don't know how I'd make up the troops (losing the cheap DA's in a falcon).

  4. That's an interesting list, Stuart, and I'm more than a little jealous that you have hornets to play with... what is your overall list strategy when it comes to kill points? What about Objectives?

    Would losing the falcon be that bad? If not being able to claim an objective with your DAs in a tank is a big problem, consider the roles your foot units will be filling.

    Outflanking pathfinders can potentially claim objectives later in the game (IIRC even if they Go to Ground they can still contest an objective rather than claim it). The other DAs in a falcon will draw a lot of fire, while you could keep your last unit of DAs in reserve, to come in later and claim an objective near your board edge.

    Also, those harlequins (particularly if Maugan Ra is attached) should be able to push just about anyone off an objective themselves.

  5. The idea of the army is to manipulate deployment to give me maximum space between the opposition and me to allow my long range shooting to come to bear. Harlequins with eldrad and hornets stare them right in the face all challenging while everything else is sidling away, hopefully all the deathstars will take the bait (I mean, who can resist pummelling eldrad on foot) and then you use eldrads deployment sneakiness and hornets scouting turbo to evapourate. I find when you pull away suddenly chances are the opposition will split inot chunks, and it's easier to deal with the chunks on their own. Fire dragons are there to suicide themselves on landraiders/MC and all the vehicles close in at the end for contesting. Much the same with kill points keeping the harlequins in between them and the rest of the army with maugan shooting invisibly out. Interesting mathhammer fact about maugan - roughly twice as likely to pen a landraider than a space marine with lascannon! Anything with low leadership gets a snipering/spinnering/Eldritch storming/shreikering and reapering (5 chances to pin).

    Path finders are normally a distraction unit. no good at holding objectives cos they just draw nasties too them. not for the damage they do(rarely notable), but for the potential. The first time your opponent realises they can be AP1 they go way down his christmas card list.

    Losing the falcon isn't bad, it's the cheap mobile troops I lose with it, I do have plenty of jetbikes to play with but they're 152 points for 6 with 2 cannons.

    Eldrad is kind of wasted in the list, only there to doom really (nothing worth fortuning) so i could save myself 115 points but his deployment shennanigans are just so fun.

    It'll rock against marines of all flavours, as well as 'nids and orks... No idea what i'd do against imp guard mind.

    p.s. that was the plan anyways - it turns out I might have been a bit premature with my hornets - Tourney rules state 1 unit up to 300 points of Imp armour, which they aren't yet! sob. and I've yet to paint them!

  6. Hmm, well you could swap out the hornets for 2 vypers with scatter lasers or even double shuriken cannons. That should save you 50 points which you could spread out in the form of extra bodies.

    If I really wanted to be an all-arounder with my list, I'd drop a nightspinner and fill out my scorpion and avenger squads, then I'd still have enough points leftover to buff up the spiders or fire dragons.

  7. Played a trial game against a nice balanced ork list, and I could have really done with another spinner! Against orks it's lethal, (especially it's ability to snipe spcial types in units - first turn hit a unit of 30 shoota boys, and the next movement phase 2 of 3 rockitt boys failed theirdangerous terrain). It was a kill point mission so I reqlly got to use my speed to make sure i didn't get caught - would have been a different story if there'd been objectives.

  8. Good job! Thanks for sharing.

    I'll admit that when I picked the Nightspinner rulse up, the first thing I was drooling over was the thought of a ginormous ork squad, or even a battlewaggon. The con is coming up in 5 days, so I'll be sure to post a follow-up (good or bad)!

  9. well, my tournanment has come and gone, and it's proved your thinking for mid table eldar was spot on - 3 games, came up against a tough BA army in the first one and lost but won the next two (space wolves and dark angels respectively).

    That said I won the 3rd by the skin of my teeth, and that was despite getting a right pummelling - It was an odd mission - kill troop choices (5pts each) and the enemy general (20pts). ok I thought, lets target his weak troop choices to wrack up some points - then i see my opponent - Death wing terminators!

    A teleport mishap for death wing assault let me place his first squad, so I sandwiched them in difficult terrain between my 2 fire dragon serpents. A nightspinner, 16 st 8 ap2 shots, 44 st6 shots (most twinlinked thanks to guide), path finders and a maugan ra-ing later, and I'd killed... 3 terminators. This was pretty much how the game went on - with him refusing to roll ones.

    Things I'd learned - Maugan Ra really is ace, his rending cover save dodging cannon really is a tank killer.
    I used my fire dragons very badly - As they were my only real anti av14 weapon i was was trying to horde them for later in the game - and they invariably got cracked out of their serpent and nulified before they did anything useful.
    Brightlances kill falcons - Both my falcons were armed with scatter lasers, and they survived every game due to being way down the opponents fire order - and two guided falcons put out a fearsome amount of firepower.