Redcap’s June tournament was the first for 7th edition. Unfortunately it was very lightly attended, probably mostly due to the start of summer. In particular the two adjacent colleges, Drexel and UPenn, just went on summer break. Pat and John volunteered to team up to make an even four contestants and enable a round robin tournament. We bumped the points up from the planned 1850 to 2000 to make list rebuilding easier for them.
Otherwise this was a straight 7th edition tournament. Benn and Jake made up some new bonus battle point conditions and elaborated new details on the more exotic terrain pieces (Radiation! Tesla Towers!) but the missions followed Redcap’s existing format based on the 5e/6e/7e core missions. Notably, this already includes a simple alternate scoring scheme. For objective control missions you can optionally score one victory point each cumulatively at the start of your turn rather than three VPs each at game end. In annihilation you can opt to score a victory point for every 200pts killed rather than one per unit. No limitation was placed on detachments, unbound armies, allies, or anything else. Unfortunately no one showed up with anything super crazy, despite our hopes.
More photos are available in the Flickr gallery.
The least traditional army composition actually wound up being mine, which featured a big stack of five source books: Space Marines, Astra Militarum, Inquisition, Stronghold Assault, Imperial Knights:
- Combined Arms Detachment: Space Marines (Salamanders)
- Captain Angholan—Vulkan
- Ghost Squad Harmon—Sternguard x5 w/ 3x Combi-Meltas, Poweraxe, Drop Pod
- Squad Scolirus—Tacticals x10 w/ Vet Sgt, Powerfist+Boltgun, Flamer, Multi-Melta, Drop Pod
- Squad Titus—Tacticals x10 w/ Vet Sgt, Chainsword+Bolt Pistol, Meltagun, Missile Launcher, Drop Pod
- Scouts x5 w/ 5x Camo Cloaks, 5x Sniper Rifles
- Squad Harbinger—Devastators x5 w/ Chainsword+Bolt Pistol+Signum, 2x Plasmacannons, 2x Heavy Bolters
- Akil—Predator w/ Autocannon
- Justus—Predator w/ Autocannon
- Imperial Bunker w/ 2x Void Shields
- Combined Arms Detachment: Astra Militarum
- Commander Higgenbotham—Company Command Squad w/ Plasmapistol, Flamer
- Veterans w/ Flamer
- Veterans w/ Flamer
- Armoured Sentinel w/ Plasmacannon
- Inquisitorial Detachment
- Inquisitor Coteaz
- Imperial Knight Detachment
- Knight Errant
The Predators were last second additions to bump to 2000 pts. Given more time to prep I would probably have kitted up another Drop Pod of Tacticals for more deep striking objective grabbing and camping.
One reason for that particular Guard structure is to have two Combined Arms detachments and together with Coteaz have three options for my warlord:
- Vulkan if a bonus point condition warranted it;
- Coteaz if I faced daemons;
- The Company Commander otherwise.
I wound up using the Company Commander each time to get access to the BRB traits but they did not matter.
In each battle I took all of Coteaz’s powers from Divination as I really only cared about Prescience. Despite this list being a bit all over the place, I’m a big fan of keeping things simple, particularly new elements. I wasn’t planning on spending brain cycles debating between multiple powers. In addition, with two mastery levels I generally wouldn’t have enough warp charge to cast multiple powers.
This was the first time in quite some while that my army wasn’t pretty much entirely painted. That was a bummer, but I decided it was worth it in the spirit of trying new stuff for 7th edition. Unfortunately much of that army I had essentially no experience with. Coteaz I’ve used once before. Guardsmen I used in our January Apocalypse battle but they just sat around in a bunker. The Knight I just assembled this week; I actually had to buy the codex while signing up for the tournament yesterday.
All that said, despite its many parts and source books, for a 2000pt battle that doesn’t seem like an obnoxious list to me and is actually pretty balanced and fluffy. Unfortunately it seems like it would be banned under the restrictions some of the major tournaments are gravitating toward. More on that in a future post.
First up: Carl and his Tau, featuring a Commander, some Broadsides and Marker Drones, a Skyray, 2 Riptides and 18 Crisis Suits. The mission was Crusade (4 objectives), long axis deployment. We both picked alternate scoring. I deployed first and went first.
On the drop I wasn’t able to land my Sternguard out of line of sight and they got hammered by Riptides on the intercept, yielding First Blood, a 2 VP swing as it also denied me First Blood on the Skyray. Tacticals though came down to contest Carl’s home objective. With all his Crisis Suits reserved and the army preferring not to move out aggressively, that left Carl scoring little in the early going. In contrast the Kingbreakers spread out all over the board and ran up an early lead.
As usual with the alpha strike though and particularly against Tau shooting, the momentum slowly turned and the thinly spread Kingbreakers got rolled back across all quadrants. Exacerbating the issue, the Knight was taken down right in the locus of the army, generating a catastrophic titanic explosion that crippled a number of units. Eventually the bunker’s void shields were broken through and the battlements started taking casualties, notably yielding Slay the Warlord when Commander Higgenbotham and his veterans got fragged by a cover-ignoring blast.
Kingbreakers hold out for the win, 9 objective points versus the Tau’s 3 objective points, Slay, and Blood. Tragically the endgame death of my warlord deprived me of a crushing victory by putting Carl just above half my points.
I think Carl’s big issue here was that he incorrectly decided very early on that he would have to table me to reclaim victory from my initial points lead, and he focused entirely on that. Among other things, that’s a risky strategy if you’re not totally sure of the clock; between my infantry movement and his extensive shooting + movement—the many assault jumps in his army take quite a bit of time, effectively adding an entire second movement phase to his turn—this game only went 4 turns. Particularly with those assault jumps giving so much mobility, if he hadn’t lost sight of the objectives he would have been easily able to start cranking out objectives points very soon after his Crisis Suits arrived from reserve.
Next up: John and Pat with their Clan Raukaan and Imperial Fists team-up, both using their respective codex supplements. Core elements included 3 lascannon Devastator Centurions, 3 grav-amp/hurricane bolter Devastator Centurions, two Librarians with various relics, a Stormtalon flyer, a Thunderfire Cannon, a collection of Drop Pod Tacticals and Sternguard, and of course meltaguns and lascannons everywhere. The mission was Purge the Alien (annihilation), very much a rarity at Redcap’s. Deployment was 12″ long edges. I chose alternate scoring, they went for normal. I deployed first and went first.
Ghosts on the drop managed to wound the Raukaan Librarian despite his Centurion bodyguards soaking up wounds. This paved the way for the Librarian to die from Perils of the Warp and yield First Blood and Slay the Warlord. Tactical 1 had little impact on the drop and took heavy casualties but Angholan eliminated the Thunderfire Cannon before expiring to overwatch fire. Most of the Imperial Fists spent the game engaging the Knight Errant en route to their encampment, eventually taking it down as it thrashed through ruins. The Stormtalon buzzed about strafing the bunker’s void shields to hopefully expose it for random lascannon potshots. Everybody else spent the match in a drop pod furball mirror match, with Raukaan and Kingbreakers going blow for blow throughout the trench works and ruins across the board.
Kingbreakers prevail again by a slim margin, 5 kill points plus First Blood, Slay, and Linebreaker versus 6 kill points plus Linebreaker. This was a really great game, with tons of different activity going on all over the board. Not only was it extremely close but it was super hard to quickly gauge the score throughout. Nobody had any real idea who was up or down until the final tally, though I think they thought they were much farther behind than they were.
One notable local meta thing is that Redcap’s reworked their cathedral/dockyard ruins set up quite a bit. It’s now visibly more open, though there’s still a ton of ruins for cover and straight out line of sight blocking. I liked the board a lot before even though its very limited firing lanes hampered me, but the new version is much smoother for 40k play, particularly at the larger end of the points spectrum, and more fair to more armies.
No doubt important in this game was the Sternguard more or less successfully going after the Raukaan Librarian. Him taking a Perils wound was huge, but it was a big deal that the Sternguard got at least one wound on him beforehand. The guy’s tough to kill: Can’t be insta-gibbed by double strength, has a 3+/3++ save, Feel No Pain, and typically hangs around with some 2+ save Centurion bodyguards. Even without the Libby going down though, taking out two grav-amp Centurions in that first turn was a big mental boost. John did come in with Invisibility known to his Librarian, but with two of them down I was much less worried about him being able to shield that unit even before he expired prematurely.
This was the first I’ve seen Redcap’s alternate annihilation scoring, and it might actually have been its first appearance. It was pretty obvious for Pat and John that they should take normal scoring as my list featured a whopping 21 possible kill points, even before any combat squadding. Much of that was also fairly squishy.
On my end, choosing alternate scoring was a mistake that very nearly cost me the round. Glancing at John & Pat’s army they didn’t seem to have a ton of units, certainly an underestimate. None of it seemed super squishy either—not many Rhinos or such, and a bunch of hard targets like Centurions and a flyer. My logic was that alternate scoring would defeat a core strength of Marines: Having a bunch of single dudes or pairs hanging around doing nothing but not yielding up a kill point for wiping their entire unit. This is precisely a big part of how I snuck in the win: By the end I had four near-dead but persistent Space Marine infantry units—3 Tacticals, 2 Tacticals, 1 Sternguard, 1 Scout. Thinking about it more clearly though, 200 pts per Victory Point in alternate versus a straight-up unit per point in normal scoring is too high a tradeoff. For example, you’d have to kill an entire 10 man Tactical (140 pts + upgrades) as well as their transport (35 pts) for that point, versus two under normal scoring, three if they combat squad.
So, under the current Redcap’s rules, my new heuristic is I should all but always choose alternate objective scoring and almost always choose normal annihilation. Alternate annihilation only possibly makes sense if facing an extremely dense Terminator army or such, and even then only if they have large blobs (not the standard 5 man squads) or very expensive kit-outs. I think that logic holds for most armies, so both sets of alternate scoring conditions probably warrant some tweaking, one for being universally better and the other universally worse.
Final match: Colin and his Blood Angels/Dark Angels deep striking bonanza. He brought close to what he announced he would: Belial, 15 Terminators, a Reclusiarch, 2 Furioso Dreadnoughts, a Death Company Dreadnought, Assault Marines, Death Company Tacticals, and Scouts. The mission was Crusade (4 objectives) and table corners deployment. We both went for alternate scoring. I deployed first and went first.
This was probably the most thought I’ve seen put into objective placement under the new 7th edition rules. I placed mine as hard as possible into diagonally opposed corners, hoping to curtail adjacent deep striking surface area. Colin placed both of his near the center, in opposite directions along the long axis.
The Inquisition detects a group of Blood Angels Scouts skulking about outside a continental capital and decides to bring them in for questioning about suspected mutations within their geneseed. Captain Angholan takes this charge a bit too zealously and accidentally flames the initiates to a crisp for First Blood. Hearing their dieing calls for help, equally suspicion-clouded Dark Angels in the sector drop in alongside more Blood Angels to avenge their barbecuing. Kingbreakers call in reinforcements, and before long nobody can back down from the fighting throughout the shanty town surrounding the city.
Far from the Kingbreakers outpost, Belial precision deep strikes in tight quarters and wipes out Squad Titus. The Kingbreakers’ Knight ally is mobbed by Furiosos and assault cannon Terminators, with Angholan nearby but unable to break through copious slum detritus in time to assist before it is detonated. Ghosts make a desperate landing into a massive vat of highly corrosive industrial waste, taking heavy casualties as the veterans struggle to not sink under the weight of their power armor. Their sacrifices are awarded however by perfect positioning and the outright kill of a fearsome Death Company Dreadnought before joining the ongoing firefight echoing down the main avenues.
Up and down the alleyways, Devastators and Predators trade fire with Terminators, screaming balls of plasma charges and pounding autocannon thumps rebutted by the continual chittering of assault cannon hits across the scrap metal structures. Heads tucked low, the Forest Guard charge forward in all directions to reclaim ground for their fallen battle brothers but are repulsed by the raging Blood Angels Reclusiarch and caught short working their way through ruined Drop Pods.
Dark-Blood Angels win convincingly, 8 objective points and Linebreaker to 1 objective point and First Blood.
Through turn 3 we were tied, neither of us scoring much on objectives as nearly all were contested. After that though Colin had swept my Troops off and gotten more of his on, quickly racking up the points with three objectives scored on each of turns 3 and 4. Nearly all his army consists of troops, including the Dreadnoughts and Drop Pods, and in several cases trumped my Predators and other units to claim objectives out from under them.
Both of us screwed up and forgot to take a moment to punch a building when we had nothing else to do, and thus gave up a cheap bonus battle point. Always stay on top of your bonus points!
Everybody else chose to go second against Colin so the Deathwing and Pods would come down and they’d have a chance to shoot at him on their first turn. I went first so I could claim First Blood against the Scouts and setup my guys on objectives to hopefully claim points on turn 2. I think that was a reasonable decision, though I have to think more about whether it was best. Among the downsides were letting Colin basically optimally target all my dudes rather than forcing him to go after some objectives blind. It put a lot of pressure on me to instantly build up effective defenses around those objectives to score at least once or twice before probably getting wiped. Compounding the basic challenge there is basically everything in his army having Objective Secured. It’d be a lot easier to do when looking at opposing Sternguard or regular Terminators coming down. All in all, not a ridiculously poor strategy, but a tough road.
In practice though I poorly bubble wrapped the far objective with disembarked Tacticals. In my head I was trying to get a couple shots on the opposing Scouts just in case, and to bubble wrap the Drop Pod a bit. The first of course was completely unnecessary, and the second a lesser priority. That line of thought wound up skewing my deployment around the objective and Belial’s squad was able to contest it, preventing me from scoring it on turn 2. In reality with how my Pod came down I should have been able to deploy those guys to force Belial far enough away from the objective to score that critical point at least once.
Somewhat similarly, despite me placing my objectives in the corners, I opted to not build my castle there. That left my control over that objective much much more tenuous, and in fact Colin got a lucky break when my combat squad holding it broke from shooting casualties and ran out of place, costing me another point. Otherwise though my whole castle group would have had extremely limited firing options.
Instead I placed the fortification where the Devastators would have somewhat reasonable firing lanes on both the central objectives, and they did wind up doing a lot. The fort was also then positioned for the Guardsmen to run at either my corner objective or the closer of the central markers.
Unfortunately I wound up not actually executing that well and used my Guardsmen poorly. Timing is everything and I misgauged a bit. I also didn’t utilize my orders well, just through inexperience. Moving toward the corner objective, if my Guardsmen had charged Colin’s Assault Marines a turn earlier instead of rapid firing I might have been able to stall the Blood Angels just long enough for my Predator to score it once. Similarly, I started moving my other squad of Guardsmen toward the central objective late, partly out of neglect and partly fear they’d get shot up too early. I then compounded that by not using my orders to have them shoot + run, or even better to run faster, and potentially get onto that objective to score once.
Despite the crushing loss at the end, I still wound up apparently winning the tournament, though I confess I don’t fully understand the rankings. Carl actually wound up with more battle points than me, with John and then Colin in 3rd and 4th. I’m assuming that whatever scoring was used in Torrent of Fire to run the round-robin—not the way most 40k tournaments are usually done—bracketed me ahead for beating Carl and John, Carl beating both John and Colin, and John beating Colin. Carl also won the painting raffle so I think he came out ahead on loot regardless.
Either way and despite the low attendance, I was pleased to continue my streak of not finishing worse than 2nd this year. The loss to Colin was a blow as I had tried to kit out my army specifically to fight his, but I think with just a bit better play I might be able to swing at least a close game.
Scouts continue to be particularly useful in 7th to infiltrate onto objectives way out in no-man’s land. That’s going to be increasingly important through the combination of the new objective placement rules with increasing focus on cumulative and other scoring mechanisms not simply applied at game-end.
Even with my inexperience and some misplay, the Guard contingent did a good job. The bubble wrapping was useful and they actually did some damage in shooting. That core of Company Command + a Veteran Squad or two is basically the cheapest setup for an Allied or Combined Arms detachment, respectively. Taking an Infantry Platoon would incur another ~40 points, trading off the Vet Squad surcharge for a required Platoon Command Squad. This scheme also basically matched the models I had on hand, though I still had to build four plain Guardsmen the morning of the tournament as my others all had obvious special weapons and such. I would definitely consider bringing more Guardsmen just to sacrifice for bubble wrapping both the bunker and the Knight.
Two Combined Arms detachments would also enable both a bunker and a Void Shield Generator. That’s definitely something I’m thinking about, caveat that I think castling up is going to be less and less viable with the newly developing objective placement rules and scoring mechanisms.
The Knight was somewhat disappointing, though not a blowout. It didn’t actually manage to kill hardly anything, but everybody saw it as a huge threat and devoted significant focus toward bringing it down, in and itself a useful thing. I was torn beforehand but currently think the Errant with its melta blast is indeed the better option, compared to the 2x large blast of the Paladin variant. It’s a tough call, but the second blast is probably overkill and the melta bonuses more useful.
With Drop Pods and such increasingly back in vogue the Knight can really stand solid bubble wrapping to stand off melta weapons. It also needs to be kept away from terrain to have maximal impact. Somewhat oddly it moves a very fast 12″ over open ground but apparently—the intent is unclear—moves in terrain like a typical model with Move Through Cover, at most 6″. Note that this is a big debuff for super-heavy walkers versus other super-heavy vehicles, which move 12″ regardless of terrain and can’t immobilize. Given the fire that will concentrate on the Knight, I think you really want it running forward as fast as possible to smash some enemies in assault before it goes down. Just as importantly, that will help ensure the catastrophic super-heavy explosion happens in their lines and not yours.
Although a small tournament, this was a great day with a bunch of good players and tight games. It was unfortunate there wasn’t a wider variety of armies to see more of what’s possible under raw 7th edition rules. We also did uncover a whole bunch of things that are either ambiguous or deceptively substantial changes in the rules. But I remain really optimistic about the core of this edition, and am currently as excited about 40k as I was at the start of 5th, which is quite a bit.
Again, more photos are in the Flickr gallery.