2015 40k Tournament Survival 101 – A Rawdogger Rumination

Hello all!

Rawdogger here and I just flew in from the Las Vegas Open and boy are my arms tired! Ohohohoho.  The 2015 LVO was a huge success and it wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous support of the gaming community, so thanks to all those that attended or supported the event through various forums and social media outlets.  Another BIG THANKS to those of you who volunteered their time and energy at the event (in Las Vegas even!) to help assemble and then disassemble the convention hall.  These types of events would not be able to function without help from volunteers and year after year I am surprised and humbled by the amount of work these guys and gals do to help us make our tournaments happen.


With the LVO being the first large competitive tournament of the year and many of the competitive who’s who from around the country in attendance, I was very keen to see what types of armies and strategies would dominate the top tables.  I myself had tried to weigh in to the competition, despite also trying to work the event, and was eternally grateful when Reece and Frankie asked me if I would like to bow out after playing 2 games and getting roflstomped for a total of 0 points.  Since another player had dropped and the number of players would have been uneven, I felt that there was enough evidence to support the fact that I bowed out gracefully rather than quitting in disgrace and shame (though I REALLY wanted to drop at that point).  As it turns out I wouldn’t be the first or the last to bow out of the tournament throughout the first 2 days.  With some of the extreme lists that were populating the tables and the intense sexual energy emanating from 40k dynamos such as Ben Cromwell and Aaron Albert, it was no surprise that those who were unprepared for onslaught felt that bowing out and enjoying their time at the event trumped playing another 2-3 games against mass Flyrant spam or Ad-Lance lists.


After a week of settling back into the routine of Frontline Gaming life and spending some time ruminating over the top lists of the event I thought I would share some of my thoughts on what you will need to bring and what you will need to be able to defeat in order to be successful in the 2015 ITC 40k tournament circuit.

Mobility – It really shouldn’t be a surprise that the two top tables consisted of highly mobile MSU armies.  With the majority of the primary and secondray ITC missions being objective based, it is more important than ever to be able to reach out and grab objectives all over the table.  I know that this has been talked to death and there will be some MIGHTY eye rolls (especially from Abuse Puppy) but it is a fact that is worth repeating.  It is all well and good that you have the most powerful shooting units sitting in your deployment zone, but you will consistently lose the game while your opponent racks up the secondary and eventually the primary with his fast moving objective scoring units.  At this point it should be key that you build your list around these fast moving objective grabbers rather than beginning with your heavy hitters.

Anti-Air – If you think you’ve seen a lot of Flying Hive Tyrants already, honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  There is a reason why every Tyranid player is taking 3+ Hive Tyants in their lists.  They are really, REALLY, good.  They are the ultimate all-around great unit.  They will glance any flying vehicle to death, as well as lay waste to your infantry squads and light armored vehicles.  It’s not just Tyranids who have a flying threat, either.  Daemons can still reliably run 4-5 flying monstrous creatures that will psychic scream you back to the stone age as well as multiple Space Marine formations that bring 3-5 flyers to the table.  If you want to be able to compete in this year’s ITC events you HAVE to have an answer for these threats.

Knights – Oh you know what time it is?  Your ass better call somebody!!!! Everyone’s favorite 40k super heavy walker and auto ally to all armies, the Imperial Knights will continue to brown under pants in the 2015 season.  Yes, I used ‘brown’ as a verb.  Verb’d.  While some internet heroes claim the Knights are no big deal and that they can easily be dealt with by extensive 40k skills as well as their mighty biceps, the fact of the matter remains that if you cannot deal with 2-3 Knights you will have a hard time advancing to the top tables.  With the inclusion for Forge World Knights such as the Castigator, which can remove Astra Militarum blob squads in one round of combat, the Knights have never been as big of a threat as they are today.

2+ Cover Save Monstrous Creatures – Thanks to local hunk Geoff “InControl” Robinson, the amount of Monstrous Creatures with a toe in cover getting a 2+ cover save thanks to the Malenthrope will be all the rage in the 2015 season.  The Barbed Heirodule spitting out 12 st. 10 shots per turn sitting in cover getting a 2+ cover save sometimes covered by a Void Shield Generator will be a thorn in many player’s side.  You have to have the ability to not only penetrate the 2+ cover but kill the 4 wound T5 model generating the saves or you are in for a bad day.  Usually these lists also have 3+ Flying Hive Tyrants and other multiple Tyranid Monstrous Creatures.  Good luck, we are all counting on you.

Wave Serpents – This drum has been beaten to death, but it goes without saying that if you play Eldar you should be bringing 5 of these preferably backed up by a couple of Wraith Knights.  If you do not play Eldar, it sucks to be you bruh!

Practice – The old adage that practice makes perfect has never rung so true as it does with competitive 40k. No matter how good your list is if you do not practice extensively with the same list you will not be seeing the top tables.  I saw dozens of brutal lists at the LVO that could have easily dominated the top tables if not for the fact that they were controlled by inexperienced players.  The fact that the tournament took place in Las Vegas could have also lead to hung over players making poor decisions and forgetting basic army tactics, but if you practice enough with your list you should be able to play it while half asleep and vomiting into a bucket.  The guys and gals at the top tables are the players who have extensively play tested their list and are not only knowledgeable with the ins and outs of their own list but are prepared to face the likely heavy hitting lists they will see on the table top.

With all of that said, here is a list for review.  I am trying to keep with my Hammer and Anvil list building style, which sees a strong backfield shooting threat with fast moving threats that can move around the opponent’s back field and cause havoc.  I also like low model count as I like to focus on as few units and rules as absolutely necessary (might be my problem).

CAD Astra Militarum

Company Command Squad – Lascannon, Kurov’s Aquila, Master of the Ordinance

Veteran Squad – Lascannon, 3x Plasma Guns

Veteran Squad – Lascannon, 3x Plasma Guns


Storm Lord Super Heavy Tank (I can’t quit this guy!)

Void Shield Generator

Grey Knight Strike Force


Strike Squad – Incinerator

Dreadknight – Personal Teleporter, Heavy Incinerator, Heavy Psycannon, Nemesis Greatsword.

Dreadknight – Personal Teleporter, Heavy Incinerator, Heavy Psycannon, Nemesis Greatsword.

1850 Points

So what are your thoughts on the 2015 ITC tournament circuit?  What are some things to prepare for or must take units?





About Jason

Raw Dogger, aka, Phat J Sleaze (formerly of the Booty Boyzzz) is a highly opinionated, questionably skilled 40k enthusiast. When not working at Frontline Gaming, he can be found down on Jabroni Avenue.

25 Responses to “2015 40k Tournament Survival 101 – A Rawdogger Rumination”

  1. Hotsauceman1 March 3, 2015 9:59 am #

    My thought is I’m going to try to get a lot of games in.
    also, try a doom hammer dude, it ain’t bad. D blast will be needed with wraiths making a comeback.

  2. Reecius March 3, 2015 10:09 am #

    Love your articles as always, buddy, always fun, funny and with good content.

  3. DCannon4Life March 3, 2015 10:32 am #

    Disagree about the 5 Wave Serpents. 4? Fine. I think you might even be able to run with 3 because that really opens up options for the allied slot (or for other units from the codex).

    But if you’re taking 5, where will you put the ‘real’ anti-air? Where will you fit in your anti-AV13+? You can point to the Wraith Knight, but every top-level army will be (is) able to drop either 2 serpents a turn or 1 knight a turn. A Barbed Hierodule could LoL one to death with a decent round of shooting (and sub-par saves on the part of the knight).

    If you’re playing in an event that allows D, then a Lynx is just about an auto-take (along with a Skyshield Landing Pad). But how to best support a Lynx is still unresolved–MSU Jet Bikes? ‘Mini’ Serpent spam? Guardian blobs? (Just kidding about that one.)

    As for your list–is the Grey Knights Detachment a Nemesis Strike Force? If not, then I think it should be, if you’re looking to have a presence in your opponent’s backfield on turn one.

    • Raw Dogger March 3, 2015 1:53 pm #

      Yeah, it is the Nemesis Strike Force.

  4. CaptainA March 3, 2015 10:56 am #

    Great article Rawdogger. That sexual heat? Coming towards you baby.

    I’d echo that practicing will go a long way to help you, especially if you can play against bad matchups and lots of different kinds of lists.

    Funny thing is though is that there isn’t many armies that can do “everything” well. I’ve let anti air go and focus on having durable units and if I need to I use the Centstar to go after a flyer. If I don’t have Perfect Timing though, it can be a waste so sometimes the answer is to ignore the unit and play to the objectives.

    • Jural March 3, 2015 11:03 am #

      Eldar can do “everything” decent, and I think every other codex needs to ally to do it. Great point!

  5. Jural March 3, 2015 11:02 am #

    First things first- (I’ll say it everytime I talk about LVO)- the event was great, well organized (or at least a convincing illusion thereof to the players!), and everyone I interacted with was awesome except for that ass hat Captain Dees (kidding! I didn’t interact with him.) Awesome time, two thumbs up, would do again.

    Second things second- I enjoyed this article, thanks RawDogger.

    And third- My thoughts on the scene.

    1) Knights are way too prevalent. I don’t know how to address this, but the biggest difference between the top tables and the bottom tables was that the top tables knew how to play their knights and deal with others, the bottom tables did not.

    2) Tyranids (with 4+ HT and BH) are good, but slightly overrated. The InControl list is a razor thin line to walk. You need to practice a ton, set objectives perfectly, and position your models very well to win against top lists. You also need to be able to understand the opponents list from a quick review, as being caught off guard by an ability or weapon means day over. Very unforgiving.

    3) The Lynx is ridiculous, and the D strength emplacement weapon with that super Eldar guy manning it is also ridiculous.

    4) This is the first time I remember where you can’t bring a vanilla list from 5 years ago to the table (Ultrmarines with no allies!) and not eke out a .500 record by simply being an excellent general. It just doesn’t work. The game has changed so much that even on the lower tables you’ll need to deal with knights, flyers, summoning, psychic overload on dice, ignores cover spam.

    • iNcontroL March 3, 2015 11:25 am #

      I don’t disagree with you in regards to my list / style. I myself made several mistakes over the course of LVO and it cost me 1 game for sure (vs bigpig) and it put me in more danger than needed vs another (had game won on 5 but lost on 6+)

      Thanks for the kind words ya’ll btw <3

      • Slaede March 3, 2015 12:00 pm #

        I second the Lynx sentiment. With everything else Eldar have going for them, how did you guys conclude that thing wasn’t over the top?

        2 Str D blasts and you have to roll to hit it twice before even trying to pen? Oh and it moves 12″ with no detriment and has the range of the whole board. Come on now.

        Good event, btw.

      • Jural March 3, 2015 1:56 pm #

        I tried your list out in practice (with a ton of proxy)… I failed 😉

    • Hotsauceman1 March 3, 2015 1:46 pm #

      Never heard of 3, what is that?

    • Pascal Roggen March 3, 2015 4:14 pm #

      how many knights were in the top 8 again?

      • CaptainA March 3, 2015 7:34 pm #

        I believe only one in Steve Sisks army.

  6. Monyatta Mondotta Zig Zag Chill BabyChillingLiek Totally March 3, 2015 12:09 pm #

    Is Lynx a Lord ?

  7. fluger March 3, 2015 12:31 pm #

    Some thoughts on your list.

    1. Too few bodies. I like MrMoreTanks’ approach to IG better. I just don’t think what you have down there has the chops to shoot enough to stem the tide of the enemy.

    2. You kinda ignore some of the stuff you just talked about above.

    a. Mobility: Other than deep striking and teleporting GK units, you’re pretty slow and compact.
    b. Anti-air: Pretty much just the vulture… I think you need more.
    c. Knights: I’m seeing a few lascannons and such, but is it enough to stop knights?
    d. 2+ cover: I guess that’s what the GK units are for? Going after the Malanthrope? Seems like using orders on lascannons would get better results.
    e. Wave Serpents. You’re golden here as you’re either bunkered inside a super heavy that can effectively ignore most firepower from wave serpents or have 2+ saves. That said, I don’t see a ton of great options for killing them quickly.

    Anyway, that’s the thoughts of someone who hasn’t played in a big GT in over a year, so take it with a HUGE grain of salt.

    • Raw Dogger March 3, 2015 3:49 pm #

      Thanks or the feedback, Fluger!

      1. I know, it is REALLY light on bodies but I really like having low model count armies. Could be a reason I’m usually on the bottom tables, but Captain A showed that a low model count CAN actually get to the top tables.
      2. I constantly contradict myself.
      a. The Dreadknights are fairly mobile, being jump monstrous creatures and a 1 turn shunt of 30″.
      b. The Storm Lord itself can really punish air units, as well as the plasma vets inside re-rolling 1’s to hit due to preferred enemy. Not a lot of anti-air though.
      c. The Dreadknights can actually mess a Knight up in combat, with strength 10 and force exacerbating the damage output. I definitely wouldn’t charge them in to a fully hull pointed Knight. The problem is when the Knight blows up it usually kills the Dreadknight.
      d. 2+ cover is stupid.
      e. The Dreadknights can actually move up really quick and punch them.

      • fluger March 4, 2015 8:25 am #

        1. Agreed that low model count can work, just don’t think IG is the way to go with that route. Then again, I’m biased, I play either horde ork or horde IG. Small model count makes me go crazy.

        2. Don’t we all!

        a. They are fairly mobile, but they are just two units, and they aren’t terribly hard to kill compared to other jump MCs. Also, you’ll end up splitting up your forces a lot if you’re jumping around trying to grab maelstrom points AND jump around to do damage. I feel like you need some cheap, fast units that can go after objectives. Problem is, IG just doesn’t really have those… 🙁

        b. True, StormLord ain’t no slouch, and AP3 is tasty against those stupid Flyrants, but, I just feel like you could use a valkyrie or something.

        c. True, they CAN do that, but, again, you’re counting on your dreadknights to do a lot, and I just don’t think they’re rugged enough to handle the load you’re asking them to.

        d. No doubt. BUT, IG has the perfect tool for dealing with it! ORDERS. Last tournament I went to I faced a thunderfire with 2+ cover save and I was very sad because I’m horde IG and that’s bad. Good thing I had Yarrick and 4 lascannons! PEW PEW PEW, bye bye threat. I don’t know how you’d get it in your list without completely scrapping it and starting over though.

        e. True, they CAN, but most of those wave serpents are going to have things inside them that can cap a DK at close range (shuricats and fusion guns), so using that jump to get up close seems like a recipe for dying. They also usually have a counter charge element like a wraithknight, which could just shoot you up too (it’s also higher I so it can kill the DK before it even swings!). Freaking Eldar.

  8. Lord Krungharr March 3, 2015 12:51 pm #

    Boy I feel the author’s pain, I got 2nd to last place at the Crucible in Orlando this week. I had what I thought would be a fairly decent Chaos Marines/Daemons list, with my tried and true units:

    Belakor and Flying Tzeentch Prince/Mastery 3/Burning Brand/Familiar
    2 x 5 CSMs
    3 Nurgle Oblits
    2 Jugger Heralds w 8 Hounds
    10 Horrors

    Of course the very first matchup was vs 6 Wave Serpents and 6 Hornets, and they got first turn. At least my Daemon Prince flew around lasting until Turn 5.
    Then I did better vs another Eldar army with less spam, losing only 8 to 11 points.

    After that was vs a HUGE Necron Scarab Farm, with something like 60 bases on the table at the end of the game. I really don’t see how to deal with that other than having the long range firepower of nailing the Tomb Spiders in Turn 1, but damn, with 3 units of 3, that’s a steep obstacle, especially with like 10 Wraiths coming at you too.

    The next day was more fun, playing vs the BA Storm Raven formation loaded with Space Wolves axe/shield dreadnoughts. I think I got 1 point, at least I downed a Storm Raven eventually! That would’ve been close, but my DP and Jugger unit got tied up for 5 turns trying to kill 1 Dreadnought. MCs really really really got kinda nerfed without the old version of Smash, of course a 3++ helps, I love those Axe-Dreads!

    Finally I played vs my buddy’s Eldar list, which dropped in D-cannon Wraithguard to nail my Oblits, and foolishly I thought my grounded DP could assault them after Branding a few. But I failed 1 jink and poof…then they killed Belakor! Tabled turn 3.

    While I’m certainly not a tactical master of any sort, I’m not a noob, and I feel I had only a sponge compared to rocks and scissors, maybe the Scarab Farm was paper? So I’m thinking that my buddy’s advice of Daemon-summoning spam is the only really competitive way to run CSM….or is my 15 Nurgle Spawn with 9 Nurgle Obliterators still a good idea?

    Interesting note, Necrons got both first AND last place! I predict we’ll see more of them in the top tier, Wraiths and Spiders and Scarabs are ridonkulous.

    • Jural March 3, 2015 2:12 pm #

      Necrons are good…

      Did Wraiths really need to become T5 with the option for a 4+ Reanimation protocol (I think it requires one of the formations? Basically they are 2++ at that point unless you have a Strength 10 weapon or roll a 6 with your D weapon (or Stomp).

      • Bellerah March 3, 2015 2:59 pm #

        in a game that allows invisible anything, 2+ re-rollable, and toughness 8 monstrous creatures with 2+ cover saves and possible FnP, I think I am ok with the wraiths.

        Why should eldar have all the fun?

        • Jural March 3, 2015 6:35 pm #

          they don’t stand out as the most broken thing in the game, just not sure why that change was needed

          No matter- you will all be laughing when noise marines get a 1 point cost increase and …

          soul blaze…


  9. Hotsauceman1 March 3, 2015 4:41 pm #

    How about a Aquila strong point manNed by a vindicar

  10. Requizen March 4, 2015 11:27 am #

    Hey, I tried to take a Necron spin on your points, let me know what you think. I’m still trying to get a feel of how the codex is going to work in terms of the tournament scene, there’s so much different from before.


  11. Wischfulthinking March 4, 2015 11:58 am #

    My advice (which I lived by at the LVO):
    1. Drink as much as possible (if your under 21 drink redbull)
    2. Sleep as little as possible, find something to keep you up (poker in my case)
    3. Drop out due to hangover day 2 & spend the rest of the time talking to drink ticket girls

    Ps why o why does the LVO have to b in Vegas the week of my birthday every year. Can’t we have it in Tahoe or something?

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