Calm Down and Get Better at 40k

We’ve got a guest editorial from CWDub!

It’s CWDub here with my first article for FLG on my plans to get better at 40k and eventually start hitting the tournament circuit next year – which I plan to document here. Currently, I’m playing a mix of Custodes, Ad Mech, and Guard although I’d love to bring my GSC to an event if I can get fast enough with them to finish a game on time. I’m also a big fan of Tyranids.. but I just love myself too much right now to take them to a RTT or GT. Most of my articles will focus around playing GSC and Custodes. Disclaimer: Don’t expect to see me constantly chasing the new meta hotness but I also won’t be punching myself in the face bringing a soft list to an event either.

Sorry lil’ buddy. Maybe after Chapter Approved 2019.

As part of that trip, I’ve just been trying to get better in my more casual games with friends. Our group ranges from casual to competitive but we typically play ITC Missions. I was actually on a pretty awful losing streak for a little while until I changed up how I play. Part of this was decision paralysis and the other part was simply playing too aggressively. As far as decision paralysis – don’t spend too much time agonizing over every decision. Typically your ‘gut’ decision is going to be the best one unless you learn or remember some new information (such as deep striking in your 20 man Acolyte saw bomb and remembering those Deathwatch Veterans with Storm Bolters can pop Auspex Scan.) The bulk of this article, though, will focus on calming the f*** down and playing cagier 40k.

At the beginning of 8th Edition, my go-to list for months was 40 Kraken genestealers running up the table. This is hyper aggressive and currently one of the few viable way to play Tyranids; this is also incredibly easy to counter by a competent player that’s seen it more than once or twice – think Ali versus Foreman at the Rumble in the Jungle. Although we’ve had 8th edition for a while now, the novelty of Turn 1 charges and charging from Deep Strike is still minty fresh for a 7th edition player and avoiding the temptation of going all in every single game is key to actually being competitive and winning games.

Literally me every first turn for the last 18 months.

Bum rushing a competent player in most situations is suicide. This is especially true with GSC as our units are incredibly squishy and are dead if they fail to kill/wrap what they charged. We’ve all either done it ourselves or done it to someone else: Hyper aggressive player goes all in Turn 1 or Turn 2, hits a screen and kills some chaff, then the rest of the army backs up and shoots all the assault units off the table with the beta strike or counter-charges. Game, set, match.

Playing cagier will typically reward almost any army. Holding back units of GSC Acolytes and Aberrants until Turn 3 (or even later with units that used They Game From Below) when there’s less stuff on the table makes charges easier and there’s simply less stuff available to fight back with. The same, unusually enough, applies with Custodes. When I’m usually playing Custodes, it’s with a single large unit of Vertus Praetors, a Shield Captain and a Telemon Dreadnaught with some allied Ad Mech or Guard shooting. While the Calladius Grav Tank is all the rage right now, let’s face it: that thing is getting nerfed into the ground either via rules or points increases as soon as the Forge World team realizes what they’ve done. I don’t currently have any plans to purchase them or put them into a list until after CA 2019.

Actual footage of the Forge World beta rules writers.

 It might be a little more obvious on how to play cagey with GSC (that’s the entire theme of the army from a lore/game design stand point) but less obvious with the giant golden hammer that are the Custodes. If you have a massive unit of Vertus Praetors, it’s actually preferable to keep them off the table Turn 1 if the opponent has terrifying shooting and you can’t keep them out of range with From Golden Light They Come. While every one knows about Vexilla Teleport Homer (3CP: allows a unit to deep strike wholly within 6” of the Vexilla and more than 3” away from the enemy) most assault armies won’t really have a choice but to get close and eat a charge and hopefully you’ve brought enough shooting to take out the bigger threats (ie. Tank Commanders, Knights, etc). Against a competent shooting list, flying a 700 or 800 point unit of jet bikes up the table is just going to result in the Bell of Lost Souls getting rung a bunch of times and your opponent savoring your tears.

 Another way to become a cagier player (for the Imperium, anyway) involves which Assassin is picked with Operative Requisition Sanctioned. When the new assassin rules came out, I always went with the Vindicare. On paper, he can do the most damage and I’ve built lists hoping to use him to rack up Headhunter Points which usually doesn’t pan out This is all part of the ‘going all in’ mentality – although there might be a match-up where this works or he’s the only viable option (ie. facing off against Ahriman in a Plague Bearer spam list) the Vindicare has too many points of failure for 2 CP and 85 points when any decent table is going to have ways to hide the characters he wants to shoot at. Every single time you need him to perform, you will roll a ‘1’ to hit. If he hits, you’ll roll a ‘1’ to wound. If you manage to wound (two points of failure already), the opponent makes a 6+ armor save on a character with power armor (keep in mind the Vindicare is AP -3). If you happen to pass all those failure points, you still have a D3 (or a D6) that may or may not pan out. You’re typically spending the CP and reserve points to kill a character every 2.5 turns or so – which typically isn’t worth it.

Actual in-game photo of my Vindicare every single game.

The better choice is typically going to be the Callidus. Reece would go on and on about the Callidus in his battle reports and on Signals, so I finally gave her a shot in a competitive game recently. Reign of Confusion didn’t do much for me (my opponent, with Flawless Host CSM and a Chaos Knight with Helverin War Dogs, intentionally used only one strategem Turn 1. I brought the Callidus in Turn 2 and charged one of his unscreened War Dogs and simply used her to hug it for 2 turns in a row keeping the War Dog from shooting my Custode jet bikes when I brought them in from reserves. Definitely worth the 85 points and 2 CP to keep a 165 point model that could absolutely devastate my Custodes from shooting.

Was this anywhere near as movie cool as one shotting a Chaos Lord with a Vindicare? Absolutely not. Did it help me win the game with a cagier pick? You’re damn skippy it did.

Let’s sum up what’s been working for me lately: Don’t go all in early unless your opponent has made a massive deployment mistake. Go with your gut decision unless you gain new information. Make use of reserve strategems if available. If you play Imperium, try and have a go-to assassin for most of your games but keep the match-up and the terrain in mind when you pick your Operative. And most of important of all, just calm the f*** down.


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About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

One Response to “Calm Down and Get Better at 40k”

  1. WestRider September 9, 2019 9:12 am #

    Back when KDK were an option I could play, my approach to other Assault Armies was always “Whoever Charges second wins.” Because that first Charge is just going to be hitting a Screen. Def worth holding back a bit to make sure you’re connecting with a worthwhile target.

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