Tweak and Test

I haven't done any painting, but I did tweak my army list after my last game with Rob. He tries to arrange a game against Jonathan's Tyranids for me but it always seems to fall through. I may have to play some random people in Nanaimo or perhaps my friend Thor. Maybe a Deathguard versus Deathguard game, but Thor was working on Speedfreaks last I heard. He also has loyalists and necrons. Thor is a more efficient painter than I. He also knows when to stop and move on to another project.

Although I have many more pressing problems, such as unemployment, I've found some time to tweak my army list and look at the Hall of Heroes PDFs. Rob and I are going to start trying these missions out in our games, I also looked at the changes in the scoring system since I last entered a Grand Tournament, back when they were all called Grand Tournaments, now they have been cheapened to a degree.

Maximizing your GT Score

After my last grand tournament I looked at the scoring, which seems to keep changing making it hard to compare your previous performance. I think my advice still stands:

Winning is hard, but if you make sure you have a decently painted army, which you know the rules for, does not abuse any weaknesses in the army list, is consistent with background/fiction, and you play for fun you should do well.

I've looked at some other army lists, even Nurgle ones, and occasionally offer my advice. I also looked at the missions and scoring system being used this year in Canada. I may have to look at the American rules too, because once I get a job a US GT may be more convenient. I've interviewed for several jobs in the States.

Category Maximum Score Percentage of Total
Generalmanship 75 47%
Sportsmanship 20* 13%
Presentation 25 16%
Army Selection 20 13%
Honor 20 13%

I think they have neutered painting to a large degree. I've played armies in Grand Tournaments that did not meet the three colors and based minimum standards. I can't believe they let these armies in. They wouldn't have at the original Grand Tournaments. Part of the point of these things is showing off your army, people work really hard on their armies and others should put in the effort too. That said I think the addition of "Honor Points" could be used to reward the cool armies. Generalmanship ie winning is still worth the most, but you get points for losing and if you aren't a prick and people actually enjoy playing against you, then you can actually earn more than 20 points for Sportsmanship, still not as much as Generalmanship but more than Painting potentially. I see Army Selection also connected to Honor and Sportsmanship and it definitely affects Painting.

Army List Changes

As detailed previously, I sacrificed some wargear on my commander and one of my aspiring champions in order to afford Tank Hunters for my terminators. I also bought infiltration for my Lieutenant. This is very popular in Chaos armies it seems. Normally it is combined with Daemonic Speed to endeavour to get in H2H combat on potentially the first turn. As my leader is designed to shoot rather than fight in H2H I intend to use him as a sniper and possibly as a target for my terminators should I ever decide to Deep Strike them.

Thoughts on the missions

Compared to previous GTs most of the missions aren't terribly exciting. I think some of the previous GTs had missions that were unfair to the attacker or defender or really harsh for certain armies, some in the PDF are a bit bland. All missions use Victory Points so my one third Alpha theory was wrong, every mission also has additional Victory Objective which could be worth 250 points, 750 points, or potentially even more. Making it possible to concentrate on something other than maximizing your kill count. I'll have to double check the special rules and victory conditions, plus playtest a few but here are some initial thoughts:

  1. Straight Fight there is always one basic mission and it usually is the last mission you play, though making it the first on either day also makes sense. The reason is after all the other games if there is some doubt who is the best general, they can just fight it out, rather than make them jump through more hoops. This mission's objective is Annihilation which upon consulting the rules gives you points for surviving in addition to killing.
  2. Dawn Raid this is the night fight mission. There is always one night fight mission, but since it is only for three turns, my decision to abandon using the Nightfighting veteran ability seems to have been wise. The additional victory objective is Enemy Lines which is a particularly hard one for my army. However with Infiltrators, Deep Striking terminators and three turns of darkness maybe I have a chance. I'd also likely gun my tanks and move 12 inches in the first turn. Smoke launchers aren't so vital in the dark. I also noticed this mission has Escalation further limiting the number of turns some of my units will have to walk across the board. Basically I don't think I can complete this mission, certainly not as well as some armies, I'd prefer not to play it, or I may just play defensively.
  3. Flank Attack is an early candidate for favourite mission. I hope I get to play it. The reason is it has an unusual deployment/reserves rules. You troops can enter on a flank instead of your own side, and your opponent gets to determine which half of your force goes in reserve, after you divide your forces. Until I clued in that your opponent determines which half of your army appears on the board I was thinking of having a static half and a more mobile half. In order to give my opponent something to think about, I won't evenly divide my army, I don't mind having my best units come on the table threatening my opponent's flank at all...
    • Annoying Half: Terminators, Infiltrators, Lord, Blastmarker Billy, Nurglings
    • Less Annoying Half: Syphilis Squad, Rhino, Predator
    I'd like to start with Syphilis and the Predator on the board so I put them in the smaller, less dangerous looking group. But if they are reserves they might be able to come on and decimate an enemy unit in a single turn with massed fire. The Rhino and Predator have mobility so if they are reserves, they can quickly deploy.
    The possibly more expensive half, if forced to deploy normally contains the majority of my heavy weapons, more models, more wounds, even my general. The infiltrators won't accomplish much in this game unless they get to flank attack, the Nurglings never accomplish much that is why they are in this half. The general, terminators, and Blastmarker Billy all have the ability to walk on the board and put a hurtin' on something in a single round of shooting, that is why I would prefer them to be my reserves.
    Unless there is something I absolutely don't want to fight, I would choose the larger half of my opponent's forces to be in reserve. Even allowing for the potential flank attack, the fact reserves are random means I can limit my opposition. Maybe Rob and I will have to try this mission out.
  4. No Ground Given normally missions in which I have to hold something are good for me, but I don't benefit from sustained attack much because my troops toughness and fearlessness works against them. Also some opponents just ignore the mission objective, "Field of Battle" in this case and just concentrate on killing, sustained attack might work against that tactic.
  5. Seek and Secure it is a bit unclear, but I think this mission uses alternate deployment zones. It also uses the Loot objective, something I have had some success at accomplishing. Any mission that forces my opponent to advance is generally in my best interest. The fact you can Deep Strike and Infiltrate means I probably will.
  6. Enemy's Pride this is another interesting mission. You get to pick one enemy unit to be worth double victory points. You have to nominate it before the game, I say go for the gusto and choose the most expensive unit you can find. This would be my terminators and my second most expensive unit is Syphilis, both are difficult to wipe out in their entirety. I definitely won't be choosing anything with armour value fourteen. This mission again has Deep Strike and Infiltrate, I'll definitely infiltrate but I'm less keen to have my most expensive unit randomly arrive. This mission also has from Dusk til Dawn which is a non-factor in most cases.
  7. Scouting Engagement this is both the table quarters mission and the mission where you start with two troops on the board because of Escalation. I think the rules have changed slightly over time, now you can't start a unit with a transport on the board. I planned for this mission, Syphilis is designed for this mission.
  8. Head Hunting this is another mission I've seen previously, basically you get an extra 250 points for killing the enemy's commander. This is actually not that great for me, often cowardly commanders huddle in the corner, and I really want to be more aggressive with my Chaos commander to try and earn his points, but considering he is now worth over 300 VPs, has no unmodified save and only two wounds, I'll have to think defensively in his deployment. Once again Deep Strike, Infiltrate, and Dusk til Dawn are in effect. This is one mission where it might pay to ignore the extra objective. Depending on terrain I might Infiltrate my commander, not to get in range, but to deploy him somewhere difficult to reach such as in a building, ideally a tower so he can shoot if desired, but will be difficult to assault. Hiding him in a large squad might also be wise. This mission may also have alternatively shaped deployment zones.
  9. Land Grab this is the other table quarter mission. This time only the quarters outside your deployment zone are worth extra victory points. They are worth half the points value of the game, this is a lot of points, so this mission might be particularly hard fought. There is no random turn length games in the PDF, but you can run out of time at a tournament, so you don't want to wait until turn six to occupy/contest a table quarter. This mission also has Infiltrators, Deep Strike, and Dusk til Dawn those three seem to be very common in fourth edition missions. I might Deep Strike my terminators just because their late arrival might win or deny 850 victory points.
  10. Personal Objectives is one of the cooler missions. Each player assigns 750 victory points to pieces of terrain, no more than 375 points per terrain feature. This works out to an additional 1500 victory points just for having the closest scoring unit to a piece of terrain. I'll have to remember to bring some stickies. You know how much the terrain piece is worth but your opponent doesn't. You do know which pieces of terrain are worth extra points. It isn't completely clear but you seem to only get the points for the terrain you nominate, but you can deny your opponent his/her extra victory points which may be more important. This mission also has Infiltrate, Deep Strike and Dusk til Dawn. I'll definitely infiltrate on top of my most valuable personal objective, I probably won't Deep Strike. It is too random. Landing in a table quarter is one thing, but teleporting onto an objective is a bit risky. Maybe I'll infiltrate my leader and teleport or summon the daemons to capture the objective as an independent character he doesn't count as a scoring unit.
  11. Hidden Deployment this makes use of rule that used to be popular in second edition 40K and previous editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Basically you draw a map where you plan to deploy your units and your opponent does the same, then you both reveal your entire battle line all at once. The game is then played normally. This game doesn't have the Infiltrators and Deep Strike, so your entire army is deployed at once. The extra victory condition is once again Loot.

With 11 mission there is room for variety should someone attend many tournaments, but I suspect you will most likely have to do missions: 1, 2, and 7 or 9, this is the straight fight, the night fight, and the table quarters mission. These are staples of grand tournaments I've attended. The other missions will be a selection of the wackier ones. I'd like to playtest at least: 2, 3, 9, 10, 11. Missions five and eleven are both Loot so I imagine in a tournament you play one or the other. Mission two worries me the most, mission eight doesn't seem to play to the strengths of my army either. Hopefully don't have to play both, ideally I'd prefer not to play mission two at all.

Playtesting

This week I may get in some serious playtesting, possibly two games on two separate days against two different armies and neither of which is the Imperial Guard. My first game was against Rob's Inquistional army, then I hope to play the Necrons, an army with even more staying power than Nurgle's finest. I ended up playing against an untested, heavily converted and custom built Speedfreaks army.

I've also been checking out the forums more regularly. I'm not sure I've been making friends and influencing people. I just haven't been right in the head since March 17th 2005. While trying to pass on some of my hard earned experience playing with Nurgle in 40K, through three editions of the game no less, I seem to have trouble convincing people my opinion is valid. Why do people not believe me, what do I say wrong, what do I do wrong? I just try to tell the truth, try to give an honest opinion, let people know how I feel...

There are two threads over at Bolter And Chainsword where people posted a 1700 and also a 1750 point Deathguard army list. These armies were suppose to be for tournaments, but in actuality neither will be at a GT, they are using them to practice though. I wouldn't worry about practising against the Deathguard, they aren't that common and they aren't that 'tricksy'. I tried to warn the dude about really extreme armies, about the extremely high liklihood he will lose a game or more, especially in his first grand tournament. I told him how difficult it is to win a trophy, and that massacres though worth the most points are not that common and mathematically only two people could possibly go undefeated in a 50 person tournament under the Swiss system and in all liklihood at most one. I also stumbled upon some advice given by OrcBoy who is an experienced tournament player and part of the Warmonger's crew.

I also learned that the US GT this year has no army composition scoring, allows armies painted by other people to win first overall, and has far less imaginative missions than in Canada. Plus I learned Vegas GT is sold out so, especially considering my employment situation, I'm unlikely to go down South this year.

Also while writing this updated I discovered rumors online of a new Chaos Codex due out possibly in September of this year. I don't want a new Chaos Codex, at least not before I get to use this army in a tournament. Both geographical and chronologically the Vancouver GT seems like the best fit you can register in June and the tournament takes place in August. At least that is what I wrote down I had trouble finding that information on GW's Canadian Conflict website.

Further Army List Tweaks

One major victory if not a massacre and a draw later and I think my army list could be better. I can't go with three heavy support choices or get rid of the big unit to get another scoring unit as those were fundamental decisions I made years ago. What I can do is adjust the armament of the models and squads already present. A common source for additional points is selling Nurgling bases. A Nurgling base costs the exact same as a Mealta Gun or Plasma Pistol as a special weapon in a squad. I also plan to sell back flamers which never seem to fire or do much.

I've been a big fan of the flamer going back to 2nd Edition and although they are good at killing horde armies or lightly armored troops, the fact is killing those models is not my problem. I can kill those models with rapid firing bolters. The sad fact is the most common army is loyalist marines and several other armies make heavy use of power armor meaning flamers aren't effective. My problem ever since they took heavy weapons toted by chaos marines out of the Nurgle tactical manual, has been damaging vehicles. That is why my army will have more plasma pistols and mealta guns, even a chainfist just for Rob.

While rewriting my army list I discovered I was paying 3 points too much for my Predator, but I just figured out those three points were smoke launchers. I also decided to not be a slave to symentry and that I don't need Nurgle's Rot on every single possible model. That and selling back two stands of Nurglings left me with some points to play with.

I had so many points I could afford to go nuts and boost one of my champions ass kicking ability. The problem is I don't want my terminators to cost even more and H2H ability isn't lacking in my current army list. I could go plasma pistol crazy, I always forget them, they're not bad at damaging light armor but they won't help me with my AV 14 issues.

I now only have Nurgle's Rot on my "green champs" and mealta bombs on my "purple champs". I've also added a Plague Sword instead of a power sword, that is only a five point upgrade. I also bought two more Daemonic rewards which should give me three decent close combat specialists. With mealta bombs, mealta guns, a plasma pistol and a chainfist hopefully I can finally kill a Leman Russ or a Land Raider. Heaven forbid I have to kill a floating pyramid.

Read how this army actually did at a small local tournament.

Words and Images © Andrew "Muskie" McKay.
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