I Took A Faction I Had Never Played Before To A GT. Here Is How It Went.

Pre-Article Note

I want you, the reader, to get two things out of this article. First and foremost, I want you to have fun and enjoy a few laughs while reading. While “learning an army while playing at a GT” sounds stressful, in reality it was a hilarious experience and I hope I captured all the moments where both players were laughing in this article.

Most importantly, I want you to learn the lesson I learned. Enjoy.

Why a Chaos Player Brought… AdMech and Knights

I attended the Maryland Open GT last weekend. I have a lot of competitive experience playing Daemons, Necrons, and Grey Knights, so I ended up playing… AdMech and Imperial Knights?

Let’s take a step back quickly. I moved to Alaska from Maryland six months ago. I timed a visit to see family so that I was back in town for the Maryland Open (Mother’s Day was the perfect excuse). I didn’t want to transport my spindly Necrons or Chaos armies as checked-in baggage, so I planned to fly into town and hit up people I know that own multiple armies to borrow one.

Eric Shifflett kindly offered to loan me his Necrons. Josh Myers kindly offered to loan me his Daemons. These are both armies I’ve got a lot of experience with and have won some local tournaments with, and I really should have just accepted one of those offers in hindsight. The issue was both lists were missing some units that were a key part of my tactics with those armies. I also would have felt a lot of pressure to do well with those factions, and some personal things were pulling my mind in a few directions in the week leading up to the event. So then it hit me: Why not play an army I’ve literally never played before at the GT, and have a fun time (and article idea) no matter whether I win or lose?

So I turned to my friend Chris Gosselin when we were hanging at his house that week, beer in hand, and said “Just give me any list you have pre-made in battlescribe and available on your shelf”. And that’s the story of how I ended up playing a soup of AdMech and Knights at the Maryland Open!

How the Lack of Experience Led to Losses

The biggest issue was Secondary choices. While We Stand We Fight is an extremely strong Secondary and one I take often, but you have to practice your list to get a feel for how often your units die and which matchups are safe. I have played silver tide Necrons a ton, and never get less than 10 when I take it because I know which games I’ll lose Warrior blobs in uncontrollably and which I won’t. I never get less than 10 on WWSWF as Daemons because it’s easy to tweak your points so your WWSWF targets are absurdly durable units.

I selected WWSWF in all three of my day one matchups, figuring that I could keep my Knights safe with their stat-lines and Electropriests safe with the 2++ invuln trick. I got a total of ZERO points from While We Stand We Fight across those three games, two of those being one point losses. Every game there were one or two Secondaries that I just completely whiffed on, which is rather unfortunate.

I also forgot my Psychic Phase probably over half the time. In my mind I was like “I’m playing AdMech not Chaos, just go to shooting”, when the extra Mortal Wounds from the Inquisitor would have been super helpful in a few situations.

In general, having to learn/remember the army’s stats and stratagems on the fly (I apologize to my opponents for how often I had to look up a unit’s stats when they asked!) took a lot of mental space that I couldn’t afford to waste. I was too busy trying to remember my own stats to remember there was a unit of Intercessors behind that wall that I needed to shoot with my artillery.

At a micro level, I did a lot of things that have made me a strong 40K player. I screened my opponent’s threat ranges well, I did some clever Fight phase movement tricks, I found a few opportunities to snipe Characters by whittling nearby units to under 3 models. But at a macro level, it was a mess. I remember one game I was screening my Knight from a unit of deepstriking Eradicators with a Disintegrator. I realized later I should actually have been screening my Disintegrator using my Knight, because they were no threat to kill my Knight and I could immediately pick them up in return. Whereas the Disintegrator would definitely die to Eradicators, and I gain nothing in that exchange.

I don’t want to focus too hard on individual games, but here is a quick run-down of each match.

Round 1: Kyle Myer’s Dark Angels (79 – 80 L)

Dark Angels movement phase, bottom of turn 1

Low moment for me: I charged my Electropriests into an Attack Bike unit and my Magaera into a Bike unit. I activated my Magaera and killed the Bikes. Kyle then spent 2 CP to interrupt and 2 CP for the Dark Angels strat to fall out of combat, denying my Electropriests a 3++ invuln for killing them. Mistake by me to not select the Electropriests first, I forgot Dark Angels could do that. I then go on autopilot and spend 2 CP to give the Electropriests +1 to their invuln anyway. I just knew “people charge Electropriests in, get kill, spend 2 CP for the +1 invuln to get a 2++ invuln” and spent the strat even though I would only be upgrading from a 5++ to a 4++ invuln. I basically just set 2 CP on fire in an extremely tight game.

Where Experience Would Have Helped:

  • I didn’t realize you could give Canticles to a Knight. Would have been great to give cover to my second Knight as he was ground down by 3 Talonmasters over the last two turns.
  • I didn’t realize that the bonus to Hit strat is +2 to Hit, not +1 to Hit. I just used to cancel out Dense Cover for my Disintegrator, but should have been hitting on a 2+ not 3+. What the hell AdMech, why are all of your 1CP stratagems so good?

Round 2, Sam Lucidi’s Death Guard (88 – 89 L)

End of Deployment

Low Moment for Me: I charged my Magaera into a unit of 6 Blightlord Terminators. I spent 1 CP for the Krast strat for double exploding 6’s to hit. I then whiffed my Hit rolls… and forgot Krast allows me to re-roll my Hits when I charge. I did 2 Wounds. Good times. The smack back from the Terminators did ~10 Wounds, and my Knight was finished off by the rest of his army. I spent 1 CP to reroll the charge, I spent 1 CP to rotate my ion shields, and I spent 1 CP for the Krast stratagem. Not only did I trade way down because I forgot to re-roll my awful initial hit roll, I spent 3 CP for the privilege too.

Where Experience Would Have Helped:

  • Don’t forget you have Hit rerolls if you have Hit rerolls. If you’re impressed by that in-depth level of analysis, please support Warphammer through our Patreon, available here: Patreon.com/Warphammer 
  • I had a hilariously bad mis-play. I had a Character trail my Knight into the mid-board to pop Blaring Glory and turn off rerolls when his units with Arch Contaminator charged me. His Blightlords charged me, and I announce I’m spending 1 CP to turn off their re-rolls. Sam asks me which Metallica unit is in range for the strat. I point to the Character touching the Knight’s base. Sam looks very confused. I look back at the Character. It’s my Inquisitor. I could easily have gotten an Enginseer into range, but I grabbed my Inquisitor because they were closer and forgot not all Characters were Metallica.

Round 3, Matt Wilkens’s Space Wolves (60-87 L)

End of Deployment

My target priority with my Disintegrators was poor. Matt had all of his army on one side, with a single unit of Intercessors holding his other objective behind a wall across the map. Turn 1 and 2, I should have been pounding those Intercessors with my Disintegrator’s artillery to force him to send resources scrambling across the map or take a big loss on Primary. Honestly, because of where I was standing, I couldn’t see them behind a wall and forgot they were there turn 1.

One Knight was shot dead turn two, which I also didn’t really expect this Space Wolves list to be able to do. Turn 3, my other Knight charged a unit of 5 Bladeguard. I killed 2 on the charge. His 3 Bladeguard did… 20 Wounds to my Knight on the swing back. Dice are going to dice.

Where Experience Would Have Helped:

  • I think of Knights as fast, with a 12″ base movement. I deployed one Knight on either side and figured I could react to wherever the fighting was thickest. In truth, with huge bases trying to maneuver around those big buildings and with lots of Difficult Ground on this table, my second Knight was out of the fight for half the game.
  • My Artillery needed to be peeling his Intercessors off objectives. I don’t even remember what irrelevant units I shot with my Disintegrators, but it was nothing that was leading to Primary points. Note: Don’t be afraid to take a walk around the table, sometimes you’ll remember units behind walls that you forgot.

Round 4, Jack McCall (46-91 L)

Say what you will about the flaws of Imperial Guard, of which there are many. They are not the army you want to go second against with un-Obscurable vehicles.

End of Guard turn 1. They did a magic trick and made a Knight disappear.

Low Moment for Me: One Knight died turn 1. I unfortunately rolled a 6, and it exploded in my lines. This killed my Inquisitor, Enginseer, and damaged a Disintegrator. My next Knight died turn 2. I unfortunately rolled a 6, and it exploded in my lines. This killed my other Enginseer, killed several Skitarii, and damaged two Vehicles.

Where Experience Would Have Helped:

  • Yes it’s horribly unlucky to have both Knights roll 6’s to explode and then roll “hot” on explosion radius and damage, but I also could have hedged better against the explosions by not keeping Characters near the Knight. Having never played Knights before, explosions in my own lines were something I wasn’t preparing for.
  • This game really soured me on Knights overall. I lost one Knight and 9 Wounds off my second Knight before I even got to go, due to being targetable through Obscuring and hot rolls on his Manticores. I’m a very defensive player at heart, and love when my opponent goes first and wastes a turn with no good targets to shoot. I can’t help but think this matchup is much better with pure AdMech than AdMech and Knights. The Disintegrators, Dunerider, and Moirax were all excellent, picking up Guardsmen by the bucket. I basically played down 1000 points and still scored 9 on Thin The Ranks.

Round 5, George Hanson’s White Scars (63-53 W)

This win was by far my least enjoyable game of the tournament. I played great in some previous matches–particularly round 1 and 4–but was a bit lazy for this match. I really didn’t deserve the win. With how the objectives were laid out and the mobility of my guns, I was consistently blowing his units off of any visible objective they were on. George played a bit too aggressively and sent both Vanguard Vet units forward turn one while I still had them screened with the Dunerider and cavalry. He picked Titanslayer as a Secondary, so probably should have waited until he had a better shot to deliver his Vanguard Vets into one of the Magaeras. He also admitted this wasn’t his main army and he was running an unoptimized list, and I have to give him credit for some smart Fight phase movement to try to steal objectives or wrap units.

Where Experience Would Have Helped:

  • I didn’t realize that the +1 to Hit strat could be applied to the Electropriests in melee. My Electropriests completely whiffed when charging his Vanguard Vets (killing 2 or 3), and not using that strat was part of the reason why. I probably also should have picked the Canticle to reroll 1’s to Hit in melee that turn, as Shroudpsalm did nothing. My screening Disintegrator was dying to his deepstriking Eradicators either way.

Moving Forward

I had an incredibly fun time at the tournament. With the pressure lifted because I was going for the meme of “learning an army at a GT” rather than “play your best at a GT”, I was free to wander around more and root for my friends. Anthony Birdsong has done a wonderful job setting up Tables and Towers, and Don Gregor did a great job organizing the tournament (and even provided wise relationship advice when we were chatting in between rounds!). It was really great seeing all my old 40K mates again, and I was nearly falling over laughing exchanging stories in between rounds.

I will also just say, the quality of opponents I played was weirdly high given my record was 0 – X every time a pairing was made. Kyle was a high finisher at the tourney, Sam is a longtime Death Guard beast, and Matt, Jack, and George seemed like solid, experienced players that had been on a run of bad matchups rather than someone I would expect to always start 0-3. Well played to all of them.

Returning to armies I actually intend to play competitively, I have a few concepts I’m very excited to keep playtesting. Both Necron silver tide with The Silent King and vehicle spam in custom dynasties seem strong in both killing and playing the mission. ObSec Ghost Arks are something I just can’t get out of my head.

In terms of Daemons, I’m very excited about large amounts of Daemonettes into Drukhari. Basically every list I’ve been writing is Slaanesh Battalion with 6 x 20 Daemonettes and Undivided Patrol with Lord of Change and Bloodletter bomb, with around 250 points of wiggle room. Lots of units with Fights First are a counter to MSU melee units, so I’m looking forward to painting my last 20 Daemonettes and getting back on the Daemons grind.

As always, have fun, stay safe, and may the Dark Gods (or Omnissiah!) bless your rolls.

Published: May 20th, 2021. Last Updated: May 20th, 2021.

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