Primer to the Bay Area Open
Greetings fellow gamers. I am new to the scene of writing articles, but I have recently had the extra time and wanted to start making some contributions. I am a 15 year vet of Warhammer 40K and I play at many of the most competitive events in the nation (Nova, AdeptiCon, BAO). No titles yet, but I am working on it. The point of this article is to examine the BAO format and what you might expect to see from your fellow gamers. The BAO is one of the most competitive 40K events in the nation. A majority of the players are long time veterans, play highly competitive lists, and will make few to no mistakes. Hopefully this guide will help any new or rusty players get a better idea of what to expect. And for those of you who know your stuff, I would still encourage you to read through. It never hurts to review and you might just find something that you didn’t consider. The things that I will examine in this article are:
-The BAO special mission.
-The terrain of the BOA.
-What armies you can expect.
The topics that I will not be talking about in this article are:
-How to win the BAO.
-Strategy for particular armies.
-What use GW intended for the Pyrovore (I just don’t know).
A few things you should also note. First, this article is just my opinion. Take it with a grain of salt. If you disagree with something, that’s fine. If I make a point, I probably have a good reason based on my experience, but I am sure that you also have good reasons based on yours. Second, I don’t cover all the armies. I only cover the ones that I feel are competitive and that have the greatest likelihood of being seen at the tournament. Eldar lists, for example, have so many bad matchups that I do not think they are a competitive army, nor do I think you will see that many of them (although I do know of one player who will be running the 9 Wave Serpent list…nasty). Last, bring your army! Have fun! That is the true point. Don’t say “Aw Facepuncher. You didn’t touch on my sweet Sisters list. I probably don’t stand a chance. Think I will go play Pokemon instead.” I will be the first to admit, last year I got completely creamed the first day, but I still had one of the best times ever and can’t wait to come back for more this year! Now on to the good stuff…
The terrain at BAO is standard on all tables with little variance. It is also mostly symmetrical. First picking deployment will not result in an overwhelming advantage. At most you might get an extra bit of space in a crater or an extra level of vision in a ruin. I would classify the size and amount of terrain at the BAO as medium to scarce. It is probably comparable to what you play with at your local store but perhaps slightly less. There is always a large piece of terrain in the center of the board. It does not always block LOS. Sometimes it will be solid and you can hide troops behind it, but most of the time it has windows or empty spots that can be shot through.
Here is the impact that you can expect this format of terrain to have. LOS blocking terrain will not play a big part of battles. Your MC and walkers will not be getting terrain cover saves. Go in with the expectation that your opponent will be able to fire almost everything in his army at whatever he wants. You can reasonably expect cover saves but don’t expect to be able to hide too much. Additionally, the driving lanes for vehicles are fairly open. Don’t expect a lot of dangerous terrain tests. Most transports will be able to move where they want fairly unhindered.
BAO Battle Mission
The BAO battle mission is similar to the one used at NOVA but with some substantial differences that deserve going over. Here are some general points that I think should be considered:
-The combination of the seize ground and capture & control missions will require a player to, in most cases, hold 3 points on the field uncontested, one of which must be unique, while simultaneously contesting at least one other point.
– The dreaded “auto-tie” capture and control objectives can and will be placed very far back in deployment zones.
-The objective placement is not arbitrary. You get to place the objectives where you want.
-There will be very few LOS blocking locations to place objectives. Players will be able to see and shoot at your stuff and vice-versa.
There are several ways that I see this affecting the game. First, low KP armies (like Draigowing) may be a double edged sword. Traditionally, these armies could almost always count on winning the KP missions when necessary and combat squading for objective based missions. The BAO mission makes this a trickier choice. While I still think they will easily win the KP objective, combat squading or no, they may be stretched a little thinner than usual given that they must also hold objectives at the same time. Second, reliable backfield plans should be prioritized more than usual. I can see many games coming down to who has the better way of contesting their opponent’s capture and control objective. Expect to see multiple wolf scout units, GK grandmaster deep-strike reserve play, and Snikrot+biker warbosses. Third, there are a ton of things you are going to want to have your troop selections sitting on and they will be getting shot at a lot. I see resilient troop heavy lists doing well. Lastly, for the above mentioned reasons and more, objective placement will be very, very, VERY important. Having a rubric for what type of placement works best against what type of army may be your best weapon.
Competitive meta lists that you can expect to see
Space Wolves–didn’t see as much of this as I expected, but it is still something to watch out for.
–Grey Hunter spam. This is nothing new, but it is still terribly effective. 5-6 mounted GH squads, some wolf scouts, psychic protection and a bunch of missile long fangs. This type of list won NOVA the last two years. It is very resilient, mobile, and can bring a surprising amount of firepower where it needs to. It has good matchups against everything.
-SW MSU/Razor spam. These armies boast a lot of firepower. They can very easily cripple an opponent turn one. All variants take a base of 5-6 razorbacks and 15-18 LF. Some particular variants to watch out for are: Bjorn-wolves. This list prioritizes going first with Bjorn and beefs up the early turn’s firepower at the cost of resilience by adding additional missile-speeders and razorbacks. Loganwing MSU. Similar composition to regular MSU except razors are filled with Wolf Guard. Can pack a lot more of a short range special weapon punch than the GH version but sacrifices a few units to do it. GH MSU. This list is generally min/maxes every unit it can with razorbacks. Even the long fangs get them. Expect 8+razorbacks.
-Thunderwolf Variants. This list is only borderline competitive, but I have included it because a lot of players bring the TWC and know how to make it work. It is essentially a GH/or MSU spam list that sacrifices some elements for a min/max TWC squad or a few Wolf lords on TWs. With the terrain specifications, these units can certainly get turn one charges off most of the time and they tend to wreck face.
Grey Knights-Expect dakka dreads. No one likes them but they are all going to take them, some more than 3.
-Draigowing. Big nasty diversified unit of Paladins with Draigo at its core, some strike squads and a few objective-grabbing interceptors. This army is compact and frustratingly hard to kill. It did very well last year and I expect that it will do the same this year. It’s also worth noting(again) that this list boast only 5-6 KP in general and should have no problem winning that objective most games.
-Coteaz/strikesquad/purifier combo. Very mobile with lots of mounted units. Scary amount of mid-close range firepower with psycannons and special-weapon toting inquisitor squads. This list plays a lot like GH spam but sacrifices sheer numbers for more powerful units and firepower in the troop selections.
Imperial Guard- Expect to see lots of this at the top tables. You will have to beat at least one of these to win the event. I believe IG won last year’s event without a single loss. In general, the guard army is an expensive and large endeavor. It is generally only collected by veterans of the game. The point being that those that own it know how to use it well and you shouldn’t expect any free rides here.
-Leafblower. Absolutely decimating firepower. I would go so far as to say that this army is unbeatable if their dice get hot and a close game if they are not(although Necrons may change this). Generally takes 2 manticores, some hydras, a couple vendettas, and a bunch of mounted vets with special and heavy weapons.
-Infantry blob variant. This army is like the leafblower but subs out a little firepower and some vets for a big stubborn infantry squad with a bunch of power weapons. I can see this variant being more popular this year with its ability to easily sit on several objectives while maintaining respect from the opponents squads.
Orks– Many say they are not competitive, but their consistently high results at both last year’s BAO and other prestigious events says to me that they are. They also have one of the best backfield disruption units in the game which will be useful in every single round. I expect to see a lot of Snikrot w/ attached warboss/Ghaz play. Plan accordingly.
-Battlewagon Orks. 2-3 battlewagons with KFG filled full of boyz/nobz/Ghaz. The rest of this army tends to be player preference, but priority is normally given to anti-armor units or large mobs of orks.
-Ghaz Foot Orks. I don’t actually think this is competitive, but it does often win for the wrong reason. It generally packs 150+ foot slogging boyz of various types. You think it’s an easy win till turn three roles around and time is called with you at the disadvantage. I think the BAO is sensitive to this type of problem and I don’t think that Ork players are intentionally trying to pull a fast one, but just keep on top of time if you happen to play one, they are out there.
Dark Eldar– The terrain at this event does not favor the DE fragility but there will still be quite a few nasty lists out there. I find that in both variants of the list, the DE player will have a decent amount of points left over for adding his favorite pet units. This could be an upgrade to Vect, a big unit of Incubi on a raider, or something more exotic ( last year one player had several mounted grotesque units with Homunculus and double liquefier guns).
-Venom Spam. 7-9 venoms, 3 ravagers. This list absolutely devastates infantry. It is also adept at holding/contesting objectives. Its only real weakness is its fragility and inconsistency at popping transports from range.
-Raider/venom hybrid. This list drops some of the venoms for some wyches on raiders and maybe a few warrior squads. Not as fragile when it gets in your face.
Blood Angels- Life in the tourney scene is still too hard for close combat. I don’t think that BA are competitive but people always bring them in droves. Expect a lot of Mephiston. He is in the most competitive of the BA lists(arguably). If you don’t plan around him you might just lose to him.
-BA MSU Razor Spam. Min/max assault marines mounted in razorbacks, 3 predators and a bunch of HK missiles. It’s like the Wolves variant except faster. This list can decimate an opponent in a single round of shooting. It is also very good in Dawn of War deployment.
-DOA. A bunch of Assault squads, lots of melta, and everything has FNP. I would like to say that the “new” clarification (cough) on combat squading may make this list slightly more competitive, but I just don’t see it.
Black Templars- I don’t know about this list at all. I have never played one under this edition of rules nor even seen one that I can remember. A lot of buzz has been going around about them though. I would refer you to Reece’s article if you want more information. http://bloodofkittens.com/blog/2011/12/18/zero-comp-are-bt-the-sleeper-tier-1-army/
Necrons– Woot Woot! This is the army I am hoping will change the vehicle dominated meta. I do not have much experience with the new codex, but I have seen the Imotek/Scarab farm list absolutely wrecks IG leaf blower and MSU lists while getting pwnd by traditionally weaker more CC oriented armies. I don’t know how many Necron players will show up at the open or even if they will run the Farm list, but they will hopefully be a nice wildcard to shake things up a bit.
So what do you all think? Getting geared up for the BAO? We’ve added a lot of terrain this year, so that will help to shore up the open fire lanes, but the analysis here was good.