Alex Macdougall from Art of War here with a report on my time at the wonderful Las Vegas Open. This year was my 3rd year, and I think I was prepared as one could be. I went as deep into the meta as I could, and tailored an army to fight it the best I could with the tools offered to Tyranids and GSC. I had been struggling with digging value out of the Tyranid portion of Blood of Baal, but with the meta shifting so heavily to elite armies, and of course, to marines in particular, it was time to use all the marine spite I had.
My list consisted of some staples, some things returning to the meta, and some wild new stuff.
Swarmlord, Broodlord, and Genestealers in a Kraken battalion as I’ve been running for nearly two years now.
2 Neurothrope, 10 X 3 Termagants, and 6 Hive Guard in a Kronos battalion, utilizing the new ignore AP physiology and Kronos spell from Psychic Awakening.
Finally, a Jackal Alphus and Sanctus calling the shots for 8 Ridgerunners.
My general idea was to have shooting specifically built to deal with intercessors, indirect fire, and flyers or vehicles with fly. The main focus is using the shooting to put holes in screening troops or flyers. With the screen broken down, a player can leverage stealers to get to either the juicy characters or to touch the enemies heavy fire to shut the return shooting down. Even with the considerable drop in ridge runner’s points and the boost to Hive Guard, Tyranids are still not in a position to out-shoot most builds in the game. The Genestealers needed to take away my opponents ability to fire back to even the odds.
I won’t be going through all games in-depth but will be focusing on the more exciting games, in my opinion.
First pairing jitters set in. I want a 5 and 1 record to match last year and to guarantee my second year of Best in Faction Tyranids. The first game is critical to get in the groove, get the event rolling, and I think like most people, I’m looking for a good challenge but not something so hard as to wear you out. However, someone has to pair into the 70 or so names that people are expecting could take the event. Round one, I pair into the charming Malik Amin-Rubio and his crushing Imperial fists. Five planes, 3 Scorpius Whirlwinds, and 3 Thunder Fire Cannons make up the main power. I require first turn, or this game is over immediately. I cannot survive his full shooting phase. We get dawn of war, and I retain first turn, and LVO begins properly.
Everything goes according to plan, the Ridge Runners’ mining lasers start bringing down planes and making paths for the stealers to touch the castle of indirect fire. The Hive Guard put fire into the Scorpius to retain the bonus of exploding 6s from Symbiostorm, and the stealers go for the charge. A fairly uneventful combat ensues, and one thunder fire gets shut down, but due to Malik’s perfect deployment, I can’t wrap anything.
The Imperial Fists’ return fire is just vulgar. Malik moves the four remaining planes forward to neatly close off the space available to the Broodlord and Swarmlord, and keeps the support characters behind for increased accuracy. The indirect fire picks up all, but one Hive Guard and the planes destroy 4 Ridge Runners. At this point, I realize I need to get rid of the aircraft and any speed Malik has to keep him from his recon secondary.
Turn 2 I have a stellar psychic phase and down another plane with smites alone. The Ridge Runners snag another plane, and the Swarmlord now has a path to put the pressure on. Both snipers team up to finish off the supporting Lieutenant, and I brace for another indirect volley. At this point, the only forward pressure I have is Swarmlord, as the second stealer unit is actually near the back, scoring me the bonus point. All the firepower is directed at the Runners and the Swarmlord. The Imperial Fist doctrine once again does massive damage to the Ridge Runners, but t7, a 4+ invulnerable, and catalyst keeps the Swarmlord powering on and not even bracketed!
Swarmlord pushes in and starts to deal with the artillery, while what remains deals with the forward character and final plane. A few more back-and-forths occur. My army is quickly running out of steam, but both Malik and I realize that I have made enough points that I can’t be caught now. We shake hands, and I take a minute to realize what I have just survived.
A second Imperial Fists player, but this time I’m going second! This list is not quite as straight devastating as Malik’s but can push a lot more board control with tons of Intercessors and a Deredeo. Going second is painful with 2 Whirlwind and 2 Thunderfire to contend with, but with good initial placement, I mitigate what I can. The rest of the game is a dance of limiting angles and wrapping ever so carefully to slow the damage and letting the Hive Guard dish out a ton of damage who decided to roll superbly all game.
2 and 0! Marines will suffer.
Playing on a top 100 table now, I was excited to finally have that sweet L in my deployment. Instead, it was dawn of war, and I went second into 18 Skyweavers. Incredibly, Ridgerunners aren’t a fan of that. Not a ton of tactical things to say about this game. Both armies are very mobile, and a good number of movement tricks are employed. The dice decided to make this game hilarious with monstrous spikes and valleys in both players favor and a gem of an opponent to top things off. This game ended up being a second loss by about seven or so points, but I still felt I played the best I could under the circumstances.
Going into the game at 2 and 2 was an odd feeling. This was my only multi-loss tournament of the year, but I was determined to still play as well as I could. My next opponent was playing pure Ad Mech and was very open with asking that we talk through the game and decision-making process on both sides. A great attitude! With no counter-assault units in his army, the Genestealers ran the show. Never leaving combat and allowing me to dictate his movement right from turn one onwards. Knowing that I could leave combat at any moment and recharge with the Kraken hive fleet kept him honest about ever leaving his castle. My opponent did a great job of pushing for the points he could attain and kept a great mentality while playing on the back foot. In the end, it was a big victory in my favor, but I gained lots of knowledge, and a hearty handshake ended the game.
This was a very odd game. Both of us were fatigued and worn out. It was an Iron Hands list with three planes, three Warsuits, one Executioner, and then the core of troops and HQ that was in the brohammer list. However, with the top 100 L finally working out for me, the game became a matter of how much work could the Hive Guard do. After turn 2, the Ridge Runners and Hive Guard had killed the planes, and the rest of the game was me holding more objectives and allowing the warsuits and intercessors to move into HG and Runner range. We shook hands reasonably early, and I spent the rest of the day cheering on friends in the top 8.
Another LVO down. I felt I did about as well as I could with the cards dealt to Tyranids, going a very high point 4-2 record, and I had a total blast playing the list. Another 72 hours of reuniting with people from the years prior and meeting a pile of new awesome nerds! A highlight was going undefeated against Marines, which is a statistic that may only be held by myself and Siegler.
A new season begins, and it’s off to start the journey again!