This past weekend a bunch of folks from Corvallis and I drove up to Seattle for TSHFT (The Seattle Heart of Fire Tournament), one of the northwest’s largest 40K events. I’ve been to quite a few of them in the past and most always had a good time, so I was looking forward to it. Since TSHFT recently switched over to the ITC format, it was also good practice for LVO and I had been preparing for them both for a while now. Apparently all of that practice paid off, as I came away from things with first place in the tournament and a ticket to the Cruisehammer even happening next year.
Details on my list, the format, opponents, etc, after the break.
TSHFT is an event usually run in the Seattle area (this time it was in Bellevue, but it bounces around different places depending on availability and cost of venues) for quite a number of years now; typically 2-3 TSHFTs are held each year, although once again it varies depending on the organizer’s schedule and other factors. It’s typically fairly large and draws 50+ people, with this year clocking in at I believe just over sixty 40K players, twenty Fantasy players, and twenty X-Wing players. The event was five rounds (unfortunately not enough for a “perfect” winner) and 1850pts with the usual ITC restrictions on detachments, Lords of War, etc.
We Corvallians brought up a crew of seven people for things and a lot of other folks came traveling as well- Team Zero Comp brought in eight-ish members from SoCal and a lot of other big names from the Pacific Northwest made their appearances as well. The TSHFT folks have always been very friendly and very rarely have I had a bad opponent in a game there. Like with a lot of tournaments the tables were sadly rather light on terrain, but apparently this is someething that they will be working on going forward so hopefully by the next event this year they’ll have picked things up a bit and it will have improved.
Armies present at the list were… something of a surprise, to be quite honest. I had expected something like I saw at the Harvester, but instead there was an absolute deluge of Tyranids- a full TEN players there that I counted, I believe every single one of them running the Barbed Heirodule and most of them with multiple Flyrants. Only one player that I know of had the Adamantine Lance, although there were a scatting of other Knights in ones and twos. None of the 7th Edition codices made strong appearances, although there were a small handful of Space Wolf and Ork players; other than that, it was mostly the usual suspects, with a good number of Eldar, Tau, Space Marines, and quite a fair number of Necrons.
The list I ended up bringing was one I had been toying with in various forms for quite a while now, essentially since mid-6th Edition; I played at the Harvester of Souls with a similar type of list as well as two Guardian Cups, with varying degrees of success. However, I think this time I’ve really found something that has crystalized- it might be a bit much to call it perfect, but it’s certainly quite brutal against most of the armies in the field today.
1 Farseer (Jetbike, Mantle of the Laughing God, Spirit Stone of Anlathan; Warlord)
5 Fire Dragons (Wave Serpent w/TLScatter Laser, Holofields, Shuriken Cannon)
5 Fire Dragons (Wave Serpent w/TLScatter Laser, Holofields, Shuriken Cannon)
5 Dire Avengers (Wave Serpent w/TLScatter Laser, Holofields, Shuriken Cannon)
5 Dire Avengers (Wave Serpent w/TLScatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon)
1 Hornet (2 Pulse Lasers)
1 Hornet (2 Pulse Lasers)
1 Riptide (Ion Accelerator, Smart Missiles, Early Warning)
3 Broadsides (High-Yield Missiles, Early Warning)
3 Broadsides (High-Yield Missiles, 2 Early Warnings)
It’s a firepower army, pure and simple- it throws down an insane number of shots (with average Serpent Shield rolls and sitting at 24″ from the enemy, it puts down 109 shots of S5 or higher) and can add in even more firepower from the embarked units in a pinch. Most all of those shots are twin-linked, many of them ignore cover, and half of them are BS4, not to even mention the bonuses from Tank Hunter, Preferred Enemy, etc. Moreover, the army also has a good number of low-AP shots (19 AP2 or better ones, and that’s discounting any bonuses from Bladestorm) as well as excellent mobility and resilience (2+ armor, 3+ cover on the tanks.)
In short, it’s a list designed to hit the other guy so hard that they don’t really have a chance to fight back in a meaningful way. It has the right kinds of guns to down Knights, AV13, hordes, transports, and Bikes and can deal with many of the other alternative lists you’ll see at a tournament these days as well. It has the speed to avoid slower armies as well as pick up Maelstrom objectives as needed and does not easily give up Slay the Warlord or First Blood even in non-ideal situations. While not perfect against flying targets, the masses of twin-linked shots mean that it’s more than capable of doing so when needed.
I’ll have another post in the near future talking about the army some more, but suffice to say that I doubt I’ll be making any changes in the near future, as I think it’s reach its culminative state. However, that’s probably enough preening about my army- onto the tournament reports.
The guy this round (apologies for forgetting your name if you’re reading, sir, I forgot to write it down :\ ) had a very unusual list- he was running a Fireblade Cadre (his primary detachment) on the Tau side, pretty much identical to my own, and on the Tyranid side he had two Flyrants, a Heirodule, a Malanthrope, and two units of Rippers. Very, very low model count overall, but surprisingly resilient. His Tyranids were modeled to be “controlled” by the Tau via implants and the Heirodule in particular actually had a pair of railguns for its main cannons.
I knew going into the mission that I had both a firepower and scoring advantage over him as well as a range advantage on most of my weapons. Though the Heirodule would present a significant threat with its twelve S10 shots, the low accuracy would be a major hindrance for it and I would be using Jink pretty freely due to needing to shoot at air targets anyways. I got the first turn (which I think he gave to me? I don’t remember) and set up centrally to maximize where my Broadsides could reach to; he put his Tyranids centered on one flank and the Tau on the opposite, with the ‘Nids largely out of range of my 36″ guns and the Tau within reach.
I started out shooting hard, downing the Malanthrope on the first turn thanks to Serpent Shields and punking out one of the Broadsides with some AP2 as well as forcing a squad to hit the dirt. My Summoning failed this turn but I set myself up to be largely immune to his shooting, with few good targets due to his very conservative deployments. His firing back took down a Hornet and did some minimal other damage, but otherwise was unimpressive. Turn 2 my Farseer jetted forward to drop a unit of Daemonettes into midfield, who then Ran to within a pretty close distance of his two Broadside units. As his two Flyrants had pushed forward along with his Riptide I opened up on them, dealing a couple of wounds to each and managing to ground one as well as causing more casualties on the Broadsides with AP2 weapons. His own turn 2 put the grounded Flyrant into combat with my Riptide and his Riptide into combat with a Broadside unit. He managed to inflict non-trivial damage on both units but couldn’t get in enough to Sweep me and I managed to inflict yet more damage back onto him, grinding him down. His Heirodule was still deep in his backfield at this point, contributing only minimally to the battle.
By the late half of the game I had things solidly in hand- we were inflicting roughly equal damage in the combats, which was killing his units first due to the earlier shooting damage I had inflicted. Turn 3 also got rid of most all of his remaining fire support thanks to an assault from the Daemonettes (enabled by one of his XV-88 teams being forced to Go to Ground, allowing me to charge largely unimpeded) and on his own turn a Perils result grounded the last flyrant right next to most of my remaining army. While I was down a Serpent, a Broadside unit, a Riptide, and both Hornets, he was left with only the Heirodule and the Rippers at the bottom of three and we both knew where things were going to go. He did pop my HQ with a lucky S10 shot despite my 2+ rerollable save (not the first nor the last time that very thing had happened to me, as Heirodules seem to be the absolute bane of my Farseer’s existence) but it hardly mattered as I came out of the round with 10/10 possible points.
The first of my matchups against Team Zero Comp, I was up against Grant and his very deathstar/anti-deathstar list. Sadly I didn’t manage to get a good picture of it, but it consistent of a Lynx with Pulsar, a Skyshield Landing Pad for it to sit on, two Farseers and their attendant unit of Warlocks on Jetbikes, two minimum units of Jetbike troops, and then Space Furry allies with a minimal Rune Priest and two units of Blood Claws in Stormwolves. Grant is a good player and a very enthusiastic guy, although sadly most every game I’ve watched him play he’s gotten seriously screwed over by something or other- at BAO it was forgetting a critical psychic phase against my buddy, this time around it was really bad dice.
He put his Skyshield over in one corner of the field, since Vanguard Strike doesn’t really give you a lot of options for where something that big can go. He ended up getting pretty good power selection overall- Invisibility on one Farseer, Fortune on another, Horrify on one of the Warlocks to go with Shriek and Terrify on the Farseer, etc. I got the first turn and due to the Skyshield knew pretty much exactly where he had to put his big ol’ skimmer, so I managed to get both Broadside units in range and everything else stationed around ready to shoot at it. He put the Lynx as far back as he could manage, which wasn’t really far enough for most things, and hid his Seer Council out of LoS behind some terrain, with everything else in reserve. I opened up on it and while Night Fighting was annoying (giving him a 3+ cover save against many guns due to obscurement), his being stationary and the Lynx’s weak Armor Value/Hull Points meant that I was able to blast it down without too much difficulty. Nothing unexpected so far, really. On his own turn his Council moved up, cast their buffs, and got off a few powers to put some damage on me (forcing a Broadside unit to fall back and doing a wound or two to the Riptide, I believe.) He Turbo’d deep into my deployment zone, ready to go for assaults and everything next turn and prepared to endure the storm.
However, his dice refused to cooperate at all. Even with Invisibility up and middling Serpent Shield rolls in many cases, I managed to kill one Farseer entirely and drop six members of Council even despite Fortune- Grant was simply rolling nonstop 2s on almost everything. On his own turn he got into assault with the Broadsides and Riptide, a combat that continued on for four or so more combat phases as we both ground each other down slowly. He eventually killed them off, but was down to nothing but a wounded Farseer and I quickly blasted it off the table. In the interim his Stormwolves arrived, one at a time of course, and were hammered by the other units in my army that had nothing else to do and I tabled him fairly shortly after as he got a few token maelstrom points.
I felt really bad for Grant because this could’ve been a much more interesting matchup if his dice hadn’t been such a mess, but sadly that is a risk you take when investing almost 800pts into twelve models. With any luck I’ll be able to get a better game in against him in the future, perhaps at LVO, but as it was I walked away with another 10/10 victory and a lot of time to spare before the next round.
(Sorry, I missed getting a picture for this one.)
MISSION: The Relic, Hammer/Anvil depoyment
Another Team Zero Comp player was my last opponent of the first day, and actually one I had been up against before. About two weeks prior to the event I had traveled up to Portland to get in some practice games at the excellent Guardian Games and had played Geoff and his Tyranid army, which seemed to be the template for rather a lot of the Tyranids that were making their rounds this day. That version of my list was near-identical but had an Autarch in place of the Farseer, a concession to the need for a close-in melee defense unit of some kind when I couldn’t afford a Wraithknight; after a sound beating from Geoff, he suggested that a Farseer using Summoning would fill the role better, which ended up being something of a “eureka!” moment for me and prompted the final changes to the army I had made. (I had run with a Farseer in the past, and had played around with summoning with such a Farseer in other lists, but for whatever reason I’d been completely blind to the idea of doing so in this particular army.) With one loss to him under my belt already I was a little nervous about the game, but knew I had the tools to handle him better this time around as well as more experience against his list and how he played it. In particular, he was running the Hive Fleet Leviathan detachment with a Tyranid CAD, allowing him to bring three Flyrants, the Heirodule, the Swarmlord (to buff the Heirodule and provide melee support against things like Wraithknights), a Malanthrope, four Mucolids, and two Rippers.
Geoff won the rolloff for first and gave me the top of the turn, as he is wont to deploy in a big cluster on his end of the field where few weapons can reach him and Hammer/Anvil is just about perfect for this strategy. I took positions full forward and readied to hit his Malanthrope as hard as I could in that initial turn- while the Flyrants were obviously targets I needed to handle, it was the 2+ cover save on his big monsters I most needed to worry about and so it took priority. I also managed to place my Farseer such that her 12″ move would get her in contact with the Relic, allowing me to drag it away with Turbo-Boost moves and keep it as far separated from the Heirodule as possible while hiding behind a small piece of blocking terrain during the first turn. My shooting did manage to kill the Malanthrope and even put a couple of wounds on other models to boot, which was honestly as good as I could’ve expected; he downed a Hornet on his own first turn and began moving forward much more aggressively than my previous Tyranid opponent. I backed up and threw bullets into his Tyrants, slaying one and wounding another while keeping him from getting rear arcs on any of my vehicles; he destroyed the other Hornet in turn and began raining down Mucolids on me, forcing me to divert Interceptor shots to ensure they couldn’t charge me on ensuing turns and cause severe damage, though middling rolls meant several of them survived to be a problem. I had the Relic well into my own deployment zone at this point and while the Heirodule was still an issue, I was quickly whittling down his other models. He did some damage to Serpents and Broadsides as well as bringing in Rippers on opposite ends of the field (to hold his own maelstrom objective and threaten mine), but still hadn’t done anything really critical to my army in terms of eliminating its threats. He did, however, explode my Farseer instantly again (having done so to the Autarch in our practice game as well) with a volley of shots from the Heirodule, preventing me from Summoning into his backfield or tying him up with Daemonettes.
I eventually downed the second Tyrant and wounded the third, grounding it, as well as killing all of the Mucilids and getting into combat with the Rippers with some derpy elves, but an assault from the downed Tyrant killed a unit of Broadsides. I erased the Tyrant and then began hammering the Heirodule, with my Riptide standing guard over the Relic as it tried to get out of range of assaults. However, the big dude finally caught up with him and obliterated him in a flurry of attacks, though not before taking one more hit in retaliation. With the Heirodule down to its last couple of wounds and my combat with the Rippers finally finished, I hammered it with the full force of all my Wave Serpents (none of which had died at this point) and all the subsidiary firepower I could muster, eventually bringing it down. The game ended with only his stranded Swarmlord and Rippers left on the field and my getting another 10/10 victory.
With my first match of the day all but certain already, I knew what I was up against: the big man of Frontline Gaming himself, Reece Robins. I hadn’t gotten to play Reece before despite seeing him in several different tournaments, so this was definitely a high point for me; as I’d already been up against two of his teammates already, I took the chance to throw down the gauntlet and issue a challenge match for a spot on Team Zero Comp so I could at least read all of the nasty things they were saying about me on their top-secret website forums and internet dungeons. Reece obliged, and the contest was on. He had brought a new list he had been working on, with a huge unit of Fenrisian Wolves led by Battle Leader and an Iron Priest, two Stormwolves with Blood Claws (one minimum size, one maximum with Ulrik attached), a Siege Dreadnought in a Lucius Pod, a Sicaran with all of the anti-tank fixin’s, an empty Rhino (for utility, I guess?), and a Culexus assassin for anti-psyker shenanigans. Reece won the roll for first turn and with some visible trepidation deployed to keep his small squads safe for the early turn, the Sicaran out of range of my Broadsides, and eventually slipped the Culexus up on one flank where he would be useful. I hid Serpents behind all of the cover I could find (it was Night Fight), outflanked both Hornets, hid the Farseer out of sight on a flank, and put all of the Tau inside a large building with some decent fire arcs towards his army and in the oncoming path of his Puppystar.
Reece’s first turn was both good and bad; he put his Pod in a risky spot near the board edge and managed to land it almost exactly on target, flaming two wounds off of my HQ in the first go (with Interceptor doing essentially nothing to the Pod), but his Sicaran failed to kill the Serpent it shot at due to Night Fighting. From there on out things slid downhill and Reece never quite managed to catch the breaks he needed- as he said at the time, it was a tough matchup for him going in and the dice were just never good enough. My Broadsides carved wounds off his Puppystar like it wasn’t even a thing and I methodically blasted his other units to pieces one at a time- the Lucius Pod, the Sicaran (via Hornets), the Dreadnought (via Meltaguns), the rest of the Puppystar and its attendant characters, the Culexus, each of the Stormwolves one at a time, etc. His luck was never atrocious, but it was never good enough to get what he really needed done and my luck never took enough of a nose-dive to give him a strong opportunity. By the end of the game he’d done a significant amount of damage to me (one Broadside unit, the Riptide, a Serpent, both Hornets, etc) but I had essentially wiped him off the field. I came out with 10/10 again and went on to the final match of the tournament.
Jeremy the French Overlord again, just like at the Harvester; history repeats itself. My list was fairly different, dumping the Necrons for Eldar, but his was the same and the essential details were still pretty much identical- he was going to try and assault me with his deathstar and I was going to throw high-Strength shots at him and hope he failed saves. He had Khan, a decked-out Chapter Master, three units of seven bikes with Grav, two units of six bikes with Melta (but no Attack Bikes), a Wolf Lord with lots of toys and two Iron Priests, all on Thunderwolves. I won the roll to deploy first and lined up across the board and he did the same, avoiding his mistake in our last game of trying to reserve heavily against an Interceptor army. I also won the roll to Scout first, allowing me to push one Hornet forward and hold back his deathstar (the other one was outflanking to force him to protect his backfield or risk losing the Maelstrom mission.) He brought up both flanks as far as he could and I began the shooting.
I killed almost two full units of bikes and an Iron Priest in the first turn despite Night Fighting; on his own turn, his deathstar moved forward , his other squads shot ineffectually at my Hornet (unable to charge because of having Scouted) and he held onto several of his own objectives for Maelstrom points. He succeeded a nigh-miraculous 11″ charge with his deathstar, slaughtering my Riptide and putting him well back in the running for the game as now I had two full units of bikes on top of my army that I had to deal with, and one of them had sixteen FNP wounds, many of them with 2+ armor. I unloaded from my transports and opened up on him with every single unit I had, although the terrain on my side of the board prevented me from making full use of the infantry to screen my tanks. His saves for the turn were rather mediocre as I wiped out one squad and did a lot of damage to the deathstar, though I didn’t actually kill any of the characters in it. On his own turn he made a massive multicharge and hit a unit each of Broadsides, Fire Dragons, Dire Avengers, and a Wave Serpent, destroying them all in a flurry of attacks. However, with his deathstar out of combat, I continued focusing fire on it and whittled it down to a single Apothecary as well as killing off one of his two remaining Bike units, leaving only one full-strength squad in the backfield and an Iron Priest on my side of things. The Priest killed my other Broadside squad on his turn, but it wasn’t even close to enough- despite a series of excellent saves on his own turn coming far too late in the game to save him, I managed to go on and chop down his last few units and eventually tabled him for another 10/10 victory.
I had a great time at TSHFT as always and it was really good to get to see the Team Zero Comp guys as well as many of the usual suspects- Aaron from the Guardian Cup, Nick from Blood of Kittens, Ben Cromwell, etc, etc. Zen himself even came in for a bit to talk with folks despite having mostly stepped back from running the event due to having an actual life and kids and job and school and stuff. I’m obviously quite happy with my performance at the event as a whole and I’m looking forward to getting to play Warhams on a cruise ship essentially for free; with any luck, I’ll have at least something close to a repeat of my success here when I head down to LVO in another month, so I’m crossing my fingers.
jy2 was kind enough to post a bunch of good pics of the various armies. Enjoy.