10th Edition has been a rollercoaster. Every time I don’t play for a while, I think “40K is a mess, I don’t feel drawn to play it right now.” But then every time I go out and play, I remember the most important thing: Playing Warhammer is just fundamentally fun as hell.
With the recent dataslate breathing fresh air back into the game, I took my Black Legion themed Chaos Space Marines out to wage the Long War at the Flying Monkey major this weekend. Let’s see how they did, and what we can learn from the list and the games.
I’ll spoil the results so you know what to expect: I finished 5-1 (WWLWWW). I’m also appreciative that all 6 of my opponents were good sports, and I had nothing but clean and friendly games all weekend.
I do have one small bone to pick: This was a Battle Points event (Final standings were determined by W/L record and then your total VP for the event). I’m going to give Flying Monkey a ton of credit for a great event later in this article, but this is a really bad scoring system and I hope its reconsidered in the future. Battle Points rewards two things you never want to reward in a competitive event: Collusion, and submarining (unintentional or not). I want to make it clear that I’m not saying this because of anything I saw, just a general thought on the Battle Points system. If two friends are playing and one of the them gets a commanding lead early, they’re going to “talk out” a really high score for the other to push them up the standings instead of being honest about how the game is going. This system also heavily punishes armies like Death Guard that deny points better than score points. If a tournament is going to use Battle Points as the main placing metric, then at least they should use Battle Point differential, similar to the WTC system. That incentivizes each player to keep playing the game as long as possible. And no, I’m not biased because I would have finished top CSM with BP differential, but was near the bottom of the 10 5-1 players by BP. Why do you ask?
- Chaos Space Marines
- Abaddon the Despoiler, the Warmaster of Chaos, and the Arch-Fiend: Warlord
- “Bringers Of Despair”, 10 Chaos Terminators: 2 Chainfists, 6 Powerfists, 2 Accursed Weapons, all Combi-weapons
- 10 Cultists: Nurgle
- 10 Cultists: Nurgle
- 3 Bikers: Nurgle, 2 Meltas, Powerfist, Icon
- Predator Annihilator: Nurgle, Lascannon Sponsons, Havoc Launcher, Combi-weapon
- Forgefiend: Nurgle, all Plasma
- 4 Obliterators: Undivided
- 2 Obliterators: Nurgle
- Daemon Allies
- 3 Nurglings
- 3 Nurglings
- The Changeling
I had the following considerations in mind when building the list:
- Be able to kill Deathwing Terminators
- Be able to play on light terrain tables
- Be able to play Tactical missions
- Be tough to pick Fixed secondaries into
- Have game into Eldar
- Be fun to play
The idea of the list was to build around one big unit to get the most value out of Dark Obscuration, and then have every other unit be some variation of shooty and/or able to hide easily and/or unable to be shot.
Whenever I’m not sure what to run, I always default to the coolest unit in the game: Abaddon leading his Bringers Of Despair Terminator bodyguards. 700 points is probably too much for this unit, but it really is incredibly and uniquely powerful. Having access to all of the Marks opens up an outrageous amount of plays.
Just a few plays I made with the Abaddon Terminator brick that you can use in your own games:
- Using Unnatural Swiftness on the Terminators when they were stuck in sustained combat to fall back and re-charge in, letting me fight first instead of the opponent in my turn
- Moving forward to drown a dangerous infantry unit in dev wounds with the combi-weapons, and then charging backwards into a unit behind them for a janky 0CP version of Fire And Fade.
- Using Eternal Hate for a 3+ Fight On Death almost every single game since Abaddon gives us the Khorne keyword.
- “Shooting” without a target in range to generate a CP on a successful leadership check on a 2+, since “selected to shoot” happens before “selecting targets” and Dark Pacts trigger when a unit is “selected to shoot”.
The cool thing about the Terminators is not just that they’re a vicious melee unit and dominate their area of the board, but they actually have surprisingly effective shooting. By loading up on combi-weapons and taking advantage of the Mark Of Nurgle and Profane Zeal, they average 20 Devastating Wounds into any infantry in rapid fire range, and 8 or 9 into non-infantry. This was my secret sauce in case I ran into one of those increasingly common Marine lists that just push Deathwing Terminators up the board. I wasn’t able to source Reaper Autocannon bits in time so I ran them with all combi-weapons, but you’ll definitely want to take the Reapers if you have them.
Bikers were one of my secret all star units, and I can highly recommend them after this event. When I was theorying the list, their on-board mobility and durability/damage was weak, but the ability to go back into deepstrike would be useful for scoring objectives late game. In practice, those were reversed. I never once used their Outmaneuver ability. Instead, they functioned as excellent skirmishers. They are capable of doing swingy damage into a wide variety of targets, and are just durable enough to be annoying to kill. They have the mobility to reach midboard objectives early, and a bit of volume between their combi-bolters and chainswords. For 85 points, they provided real value.
Speaking of value, the Predator Annihilator way overperformed all weekend. This unit feels like excellent value at just 130 points, consistently throwing out 4 or 5 hits with its lascannons near Abaddon. The havoc launcher being able to pick up a couple Eldar from downtown when it shot was weirdly helpful. And it being OC4 actually came up a few times.
I’m really happy whenever old-school units like Predators, Bikers, Land Raiders, and Vindicators are good because long-time collectors can play tournaments without having to rebuy their armies. CSM are in a great spot overall!
Choosing Your Allies
Syll’Esske was a unit I had my eye on previously at 140 points. Once they dropped to 120 in the dataslate, I was all-in on including them in almost every list I write.
They are just durable enough and just killy enough to sweep through enemy backfields by themselves. What takes them over the top is the ability to resurrect on a 2+ (with full wounds) the first time they die. Having a unit with this ability running around their backfield is a nightmare for the opponent. Often times the opponent wouldn’t even bother putting firepower into them because it would most likely be “wasted”. If you’ve got a Fire Prism that can choose between shooting my Predator with no invuln or Syll’Esske with a 4++ invuln, 9 wounds, and will get back up on a 2+ anyway, it’s so tough to justify shooting Syll’Esske even if it makes sense based on the scoreboard. Their shooting is also weirdly good, with a 2d6 shot quality flamer that even sprinkles Dev Wounds on top. They even have an Assault weapon so they can advance and action in a pinch!
The trick to using Syll’Esske is to start them off the board and then Rapid Ingress them into their half of the board. After that Syll’Esske can just run around harassing units on objectives and causing chaos.
The Changeling remains a great asset, but I used him differently in this tournament compared to most. Generally I just leave him on a back objective. Because I had 2 units of Cultists and could sticky my back objective every game immediately, I used to him to deepstrike and score secondaries almost every game instead.
Nurglings remain the best value you can get for 35 points. Against rush lists like World Eaters, I forward deployed them to moveblock. Against other lists, I would deploy one unit hidden in the midboard to do Homers in the center or Cleanse on an objective (I’m aware they can’t Cleanse by themselves because of OC0, but they can do the action while another unit advances over). The second unit would be a cheap deepstriker to Investigate Signals or score Engage On All Fronts or something.
Thoughts on Flying Monkey
Flying Monkey was a great event, and I’ll definitely come back. There was really positive energy in the hall and you could tell that everyone was having a good time. I haven’t played in the Lord Marshall Circuit before because of geography, but it’s really cool that they’ve put together an established independent circuit and built a strong community in their area. The several times I had to call a judge during a game, they were always friendly and their rulings were quick and reasonable. It was well-organized and ran at a good pace. Sign me up again for next year!
I love that the TO gave a speech at the start about “tell us about anything bad that happens during your games right away so we can fix it, because by the time you’re complaining about it later on the internet it’s too late”. That’s so true, and something everyone can learn from. TOs want to hear about any disagreements or mistakes when they happen so they can come smooth it over. Setting a tone that it’s normal and expected to interact with TOs helps everyone.
Some of the tables had terrain that got a bit dicey, but as you moved towards the higher tables the terrain was generally good enough. The 6th game that I played in particular was on some of the best terrain (in terms of both function and looks) I’ve seen in 10th Edition. Other tables were still in the process of being updated to 10th, and definitely advantaged shooting armies. The lower bracket tables might have been better as player-placed terrain, as they had enough terrain if you could place it exactly where you wanted it but not enough if it was set in place. Terrain is a massive investment in terms of time, money, and storage so I can respect all the work that went into what they had, but I do want to set some context for anyone who wasn’t there.
The secret sauce of the event for me was sneaking out during lunch to a local coffee shop called Grow during the lunch breaks. I love hanging out with old and new friends, but I also really need some breaks from people to recharge. Grow had a beautiful aesthetic to just hang out and enjoy lunch because it’s also a plant store (the combo sounds weird, but it works). And as a 12-15 minute walk away, it was just far enough that no one else from the event was going there. Being able to stretch my legs, get some fresh air, and get some sunshine in between rounds really kept me focused when I was playing.
With that out of the way, lets jump into the games!
Round 1: Jennie’s Thousand Sons (W, 95-47)
Jennie was a lovely opponent. She mentioned that she runs a game store, and I always appreciate someone investing their time and money into growing this hobby.
Jennie was on the newer side to 10th Edition. Thousand Sons are a wildly complicated army in 10th, so I really respect her taking them out to an event and battling with them while still learning 10th. We had a good time, and I asked her to roll some of my key rolls for me so she could decide what Tzeentch had planned for me. This game was a little less interesting from a technical perspective than other games so I’ll keep the writeup short, but I hope Jennie had a great time over the rest of the event!
Round 2: Andy’s Space Wolves (W, 72-60)
Andy’s List: 2×6 Thunderwolf Cavwolves with Different Wolfleaders, Ragnar leading Bladeguard Wolves in a Wolf Raider, 10 Wolfguard Terminators with a Captainwolf in Terminator Wolf Pelt, Callidus, Razorwolf with Wolf Guard inside, some other small units.
I’m giving Space Wolves a bit of grief in the list area, but I have to give Andy credit for a well-painted and thematic army. He was also a good sport in the face of some big high rolls offensively from me, as it felt like I rolled many critical hits in this game as the last 5 games I played combined.
My overall gameplan was to moveblock his damage dealers for a few turns as I whittled him down with shooting, and then take over the board in the late game. Syll’Esske and 4 Obliterators started off the board. I deployed Abaddon and the Bringers Of Despair behind a wall, the Annihilator hidden, and the Forgefiend ready to receive Dark Obscuration if he went first. Nurglings were forward deployed but behind crates so he would have to commit resources to killing them if he didn’t want me to moveblock with them on the following turn. Both of us had stratagems to fight on death, which made interacting with our big melee bricks scary for both of us.
Turn 1 was pretty quiet. My Annihilator killed a Razorback with Abaddon rerolls, and my Forgefiend killed 2 Thunderwolf Cav and change. My Nurglings and Bikers moved up and blocked lanes he could move through in terrain. In his turn, Andy basically rushed me, killing some screening units and walking onto all the objectives.
Turn 2, Andy was applying a ton of pressure. He basically had 2 units of Thunderwolf Cav, a Land Raider with Ragnar and the Bladeguard Vets, and the Terminators who Rapid Ingress’d in all in my face. This is the kind of situation where I feel many players get stressed and start making mistakes. I took a minute to evaluate the board and decided which units I was going to deal with by moveblocking, which ones I had to shoot, and which ones I had to charge. The decision was shoot everything at the Terminators, charge the wounded Thunderwolf Cav because their potential fight on death would be less scary, moveblock the full Thunderwolf Cav with a Predator, and move the Terminators closest to the Land Raider and use Eternal hate to soak the Bladeguard in the following turn. The Terminator Combi-weapons, Undivided Oblits, and Forgefiend combined to nearly wipeout his Terminators. The Nurgle Oblits and Terminators charged the wounded Thunderwolf Cav, with the Nurgle Oblits being closer to most of them so if they fought on death they would take the damage instead of the Terminators.
Andy made a tiny mistake and put 2 random wounds I had put into his full health Thunderwolf Cavalry on the front model in the squad, leaving it at 1 wound. This let me charge my Predator into them to push my moveblock all the way up an alley they were in, and then use Tank Shock to kill the wounded model and pull us both out of Engagement Range so he didn’t get to fight.
Andy delivered a strong counterpunch, killing most of the Terminators with Ragnar’s Bladeguard squad, but Eternal Hate took a huge chunk out of them in return. From that point we were able to push aggressively onto objectives with most of his damage dealers dealt with. Syll’Esske’s Rapid Ingress let her kill the Callidus guarding his back objective, and she won the fight versus the units Andy sent backwards to deal with them. Syll’Esske really proved her value in this game, splitting Andy’s attention in multiple directions when I presented all my threats. I definitely got some very hot offensive dice in this game, and I appreciate Andy staying in the fight and battling for 5 turns.
Highlight: Evaporating his 10 Terminators with the Undivided Obliterators and Forgefiend after they Rapid Ingress’d in
Lowlight: Having to sacrifice the Changeling early to moveblock
Round 3: Tim’s Black Templars in GTF (L, 76-70)
Tim’s List: 2 Gladiator Lancers, Impulsor, Land Raider Redeemer, 2×10 Primaris Sword Bretheren, Helbrecht, Grimaldus, Infiltrators, Black Templars Troops with a weird amount of Grav, 6 Aggressors, Harmicist with Bolter Discipline, 3 Eradicators
Tim was a great sport, and had such a cool army. He themed it around the Last Wall Protocol, using the FW Rogal Dorn model as his Helbrecht and a mix of Imperial Fist and successor chapter paint schemes.
We had an absolute slugfest, battling for every single point. This was a great game with swings in both directions. I remember thinking during the game that he was just grinding me down, and I was going to run out of stuff at the end. That was correct. Syll’Esske eventually lost her multi-turn battle to a unit of Eradicators and a unit of Crusaders on his back objective, his Aggressors shot my surviving Obliterators off the central objective, and I was effectively tabled turn 5. We exchange handshakes, and I bend down to pick up my tray and start packing up my army. My army tray, to my surprise, was not empty. Guess what was on there?
MY FORGEFIEND (AND A UNIT OF NURGLINGS) THAT I HAD STARTED OFF THE BOARD AND THEN FORGOT ABOUT ALL GAME!
My main issue was not being able to kill 3-wound Marine models fast enough. Turns out that’s difficult when you never put your Nurgle Plasma Forgefiend on the table. This was absolutely the perfect matchup and it literally never entered the game. This is no disrespect to Tim, but I think that if I had actually use all of my units, that would have more than swung the narrow points gap.
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Lowlight: Leaving my Forgefiend and Nurglings to die in deepstrike, obviously
Highlight: Using my Predator to tie up his Impulsor in the late game and protect a sticky objective
Round 4: Douglas’s Daemons (W, 91-56)
Douglas’s List: KHORNE DAEMONS! Bloodthirster, 2×6 Crushers, Daemon Prince, Rendmaster, Skarbrand, 10 Bloodletters, 3×5 Flesh Hounds, Skull Cannon
Douglas had such a cool list, and I was honestly going to be happy no matter which one of us won. I mean, the man was running pure Khorne Daemons. How can you not love it?
One of the benefits of running an off-meta list is people aren’t as familiar with your tactics and haven’t practiced against you. Unfortunately for him, he got matched into maybe the one other person at the hall that has spent as much time as him playing with and thinking about Khorne Daemons. I knew every play he could make and how to predict and counter them.
Just like the Space Wolves game, my strategy was to moveblock early, kill as much as I could, and then catch up on points in the later turns. We were playing Priority Target, which heavily rewards you for controlling objectives at the end of the game but caps your Primary score at 10 in each of the earlier turns. Whether I’m holding 1 objective vs 5 objectives is only a 5 VP difference for most of the game, and holding 2 objectives vs 5 objectives is a 0 VP difference. My goal was to guarantee I hold my back objective, try to sometimes hold one of the side objectives, and just do as much damage as I could every single turn before turn 5.
The issue with his list (and really all melee-only lists) is he does damage in the same place he is. When Syll’Esske Rapid Ingress’d Turn 2 and took over his backfield objective, he couldn’t get anything back there to deal with it for the rest of the game.
Douglas played really, really well. He used Realm Of Chaos well, focused on objectives, and applied pressure in smart places. There was only one small mistake I noticed that sealed up the game. I saw at the end of my turn 3 that he had 0CP, which meant he would only have 1CP in his turn. I was worried because the Bloodthirster was easily in charge range of my Terminators, and if he used Heroic Challenge to kill Abaddon with the Bloothirster, I would be in deep trouble. He spent his CP right away at the start of his turn to sticky an objective the Bloodthirster was on before moving it away, which let me breath a big sigh of relief. If he had saved that CP for Heroic Challenge it would have made my late game much scarier. This is especially true on Priority Targets, where the game is largely decided by which player controls the most objectives at the end of the game.
Highlight: Syll’Esske Rapid Ingressing onto his objective to keep my Primary game alive
Lowlight: Douglas’s Rendmaster doing 20+ damage to my Changeling as I failed literally every save, punting it so deep into the sun that I’ll be embarrassed to place that model on the table ever again
Round 5: Brent’s Eldar (W, 66-49)
Brent’s List: Yncarne, Wayleaper, 3×5 Shadow Spectres, 3×5 Warp Spiders, 3 Fire Prisms, Nightspinner, Rangers
I’ll talk about what actually happened in this game in a bit, but first I want to make sure we all give Brent some credit for sportsmanship. I couldn’t see the round clock from where I was standing, and didn’t hear any announcements about time remaining. I thought we were moving at a good pace all game. I was really surprised when they announced the round was over during my turn on the bottom of round 4 with no warning. Brent was slightly up on points at this point, but I had effectively tabled him and was guaranteed to win if we had played 5 rounds. Brent let me finish my last shooting activations to table him and then agreed to quickly score out round 5, without any hesitation from him. I would have done the same for him if the situation was reversed, but not everyone would have done what he did. Some players get really difficult in situations like this. It was nice to have an easy ending to the game.
Eldar still have an absolutely insane ruleset, but this was my first time playing against them since the dataslate nerfs and for the first time in 10th, I actually really the impact of their nerfs on the game. They now are really thin on damage dealing units. Units like Fire Prisms are still insane, but not being able to Phantasm them means that at least the one they expose to fire the others through is in real danger.
Brent set the tone of this game from turn 1, using Warp Spiders and the Nightspinner to kill some Nurglings and teleport the Yncarne into my area of the board. His early aggression had both pros and cons for each of us. On the one hand, he succeeded in drawing all of my attention to deal with the Yncarne (and nearby War Walker) turn 1. In fact, I was so busy making sure the Yncarne was dead that I literally didn’t even have a free unit available to do The Ritual and create an objective. I also couldn’t kill his objective holders or the Yncarne would teleport away. You’ll notice that Brent scored 15 Primary over the first 2 turns, while I scored literally 0. But on the other hand, giving me the Yncarne turn 1 greatly simplified the board state for me. Having to deal with that bastard for 5 turns is way harder than dealing with him for 1. My Nurgle Obliterators next to Abaddon shooting at the Yncarne did 2 wounds, my Terminators’ combi-weapons did 4 or 5 dev wounds, and activating the Khorne Dark Pact with full hit rerolls meant that 5 Terminators could finish off the Yncarne in melee even though I didn’t have enough CP for Profane Zeal.
In his turn 2 he deepstruck his Spectres and Spiders and fired everything into Abaddon. With the -1 to Hit from Dark Obscuration (and the Nurgle Mark preventing the Nightspinner from piling on a few extra wounds), all 10 Terminators still died and Abaddon was down to 3 Wounds at the end of his turn. Brent was smart and drew distance from most of his units to the Abaddon model specifically, which meant I couldn’t pull out of range of remaining units by correctly pulling Terminator casualties. He also killed both of my Nurgle Obliterators. But once the Eldar army was down, we were able to put serious damage into it. The Predator and Bikers with Abaddon rerolls and the Forgefiend and Undivided Oblits with Profane Zeal and Syll’Esske combined to do *massive* damage. We killed 2 Fire Prisms, put the Nightspinner at 4 wounds, and killed around 15-20 combined Spiders and Spectres. My Obliterators failed a 5″ charge onto an objective, but that’s just life sometimes. Because Eldar are no longer playing with 500 more points than everyone else, once he took all those casualties he struggled to kill my remaining units fast enough.
It was a brutal war of attrition from there. My Forgefiend did the Dark Gods’ work, and ripped huge chunks out of both his infantry and his hulls. Eldar hulls are massive models, and even with limited mobility on my heavy weapons units I was almost always able to draw line of sight to something good to shoot. We completely tabled the Eldar on the bottom of turn 4, driving his scoring down and completing the comeback.
Highlight: The Changeling making 4/4 invuln saves using Brent’s own dice that I rolled on his Tzeentch logo objective marker… Just As Planned!
Lowlight: Wasting a CP on a pointless overwatch with my Terminators into Warp Spiders, trading 1CP for 1 dead Warp Spider
Round 6: Kyle’s Dark Angels in GTF (W, 73-69)
Kyle’s List: 2 Gladiator Lancers, 2×10 Terminators, 2×3 Plasma Inceptors, Infiltrators, 2 Armiger Warglaives
This was an incredible game, and I wish I remembered more of it. Kyle was an amazing sport, and we both played as well as we could while keeping things light and working together to agree on the details of every technical situation. But as the 6th game of the weekend, most it it was a blur… until the amazing ending.
Let me cut straight to turn 5. I have Defend Stronghold, and I know Kyle has kept Capture Enemy Outpost from turn 4. He has a Terminator Captain and an Inceptor on my back objective engaging my 4 wound Predator, Abaddon limping around with 5 wounds and his bodyguard all dead, and Syll’Esske who has just finished razing his back objective. It’s crucial that I stop him taking my back objective in his turn or the game is over. I use Insane Bravery on the Predator to keep my OC4 and use Unnatural Swiftness to Fall Back and shoot/charge. Abaddon fires at a Lancer, but most importantly generates 1CP after passing his Dark Pact. The Predator fires into the Terminator Captain, leaving him at 1 wound. This is really bad, because the Terminator Captain can definitely kill the wounded Predator in his next turn. But wait–the Dark God’s gifts are deep and varied. Because Abaddon generated 1CP for me, I have the ability to use Tank Shock. I charge my Predator into his 1 wound Terminator Captain, declare Tank Shock, and do exactly 1 Mortal Wound. The Inceptor can’t finish off the Predator in his next turn, and once we tally up the score and include our Razed Objectives points, it’s a narrow CSM win.
A great ending to a great weekend, and credit to Kyle for playing well and battling all game.
I never would have guessed that Tank Shock from my Predator would have played a key role in 2 games, but here we are. In your own games, play like me in games 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6, and squeeze every bit of value that you can from your units. Don’t play like me in game 3, where I let my key unit die in deepstrike and got literally the least possible value from it.
Having had a great time all weekend and going 5-0 in games where I didn’t play 215 points down for no reason (and only a 6 point loss in that one), I feel like I’m really hitting my personal next level with 10th Edition. I have an RTT and a GT lined up in October, and look forward to taking some other Chaos armies out for a spin at those events.
Fun fact: I was planning to play Death Guard for this event, and got ~15 practice games with various Death Guard lists in the weeks leading up to the event. I couldn’t take them because I ran out of hobby time for personal reasons, but I’ve put a ton of work in with them over the last few weeks and feel really strong with them. My pain is your gain–even though I couldn’t take them to Flying Monkey, all of those Death Guard reps and testing of different units and list will go into writing the official Warphammer guide to playing Death Guard! As one of my favorite armies, I’ve already started the Death Guard guide and plan to have it wrapped up soon. Check back Friday to uncover the secrets to playing one of the most thematic and smelliest armies in the entire game.
As always, have fun, stay safe, and may the Dark Gods bless your rolls! And while you’re here, hop on over and join us in the official Warphammer discord. Look forward to seeing you there! https://discord.gg/DVVn6Xwx