Thinking Outside the Box

Hey guys! Erik from The Art of War here. In this article, we’re going to take a walk through the Hivemind and shed some light on the unique and exciting thought processes I have when building lists and approaching all matchups.

I have been playing competitive 40k from quite a young age. As I have gotten older, my thought processes have been molded around how the game of Warhammer 40k actually works. So, I cannot stress enough the most essential key for success in generating strategies and managing yourself on and off the table is all built around experience. The constant exposure to all sorts of factions and various army builds gives your mind an endless pool of resources to understand how all combinations and list styles work on the table. 

Something I make the most of in my style of playing and list building, while it may seem weird, is picturing in my mind exactly how I want my list to deploy, move and combat any match up and any situation. Every unit and small technical choice included in any of the lists I play are present for a particular reason, even if it’s the smallest of on the table interactions. I feel this is an issue for most 40k players to understand: when they see an uncommon unit included in a list, usually the list is wholly disregarded and labeled as bad, but this is not always the case. I’ll refer to my list I ran at Cancon in Australia. This list went seven wins and one loss, only losing to the infamous Leviathan Dreadnaught list for Iron Hands that rocked the 40k world. 

Credit to Games Workshop
Credit to Games Workshop

Cancon 40k Australian ITC Championships 2020: Erik “The Oracle” Lathouras 

Club: The Art of War 

Points: 2000

Factions: Genestealer Cults 

Command Points: 18 – 1CP

Bladed Cog Batallion: 

HQ: 

Jackal Alphus (70) Jackal sniper rifle (free) 70 

Primus + Bonesword 75 

Troops:

10x neophytes – 5x autoguns, 2x mining lasers, 2x webber, 1x autopistol 76 

10x neophytes – 5x autoguns, 2x mining lasers, 2x webber, 1x autopistol 76 

10x neophytes – 5x autoguns, 2x mining lasers, 2x webber, 1x autopistol 76 

10x neophytes – 5x autoguns, 2x mining lasers, 2x webber, 1x autopistol 76

Bladed Cog Batallion: Deliverance Broodsurge -1CP 

HQ: 

Patriarch + familiar 137 (Warlord) 

Accolyte Iconward 53 

Jackal Alphus + Jackal Sniper Rifle 70 

Elites: 

Sanctus + sanctus bio dagger 55 

Kelermorph + 3 x liberator pistols 75 

Troops: 

15x neophytes, 2x Heavy stubber, 2x webber, 1x autopistol, 10x autoguns 81

15x neophytes, 2x Heavy stubber, 2x webber, 1x autopistol, 10x autoguns 81

15x neophytes, 2x Heavy stubber, 2x webber, 1x autopistol, 10x autoguns 81

15x acolyte Hybrids, 6x rock saw, iconward, 9x rending claws, 9x cultists knife 175 (BC)

10x neophytes – 5x autoguns, 2x mining lasers, 2x webber, 1x autopistol 76 

10x neophytes – 5x autoguns, 2x mining lasers, 2x webber, 1x autopistol 76 

Mixed Batallion: 

HQ:

Patriarch + familiar 137 (bladed cog) – The Crouchling 

Magus + familiar 92 ( 4AE) 

Elites: 

Sanctus + silencer sniper rifle 60 (4AE) 

Troops:

15x neophytes, 2x Heavy stubber, 2x webber, 1x autopistol, 10x autoguns 81 (BC) 

15x neophytes, 2x Heavy stubber, 2x webber, 1x autopistol, 10x autoguns 81 (BC) 

10x brood brothers, 10x lasguns 40 

Fast Attack: 

5x atlan jackals, 5x demolition charge, 5x shotgun 100 (rusted claw) 

Now, many of these units are known to be detachment fillers or simply boil down to do nothing. I built this list with the following things in mind:

– What are going to be the most common lists at the event? 

– Can I handle them all? 

– How will I tackle the harder games? 

– What is the overall plan for those tougher matchups?

credit to Games Workshop
credit to Games Workshop

With all those questions asked, revisit the list. All of those units are there with those questions in my mind. They are all there to handle a specific role and perform in every game. 

Let’s go through the thought process involved with how I select units to include within my list. I am a firm believer that playing 40k with a high model count is the most consistent and competitive way to play 40k. It all boils down to how important the movement phase is and what it does and doesn’t allow you to do. Things like being unable to move within 1″ of enemy models, not being able to deepstrike within 9″ of enemy models, being able to lock enemy units and prevent them from falling back or prevent them from shooting are all done with the use of models. This is why I back the core strength of a high model count in this game. 

You will notice in the list there are several larger units of Neophytes. While, for the most part, they have a pretty lackluster stat profile, they uphold a crucial role within the list: projecting board control and restricting movement. This isn’t always done by locking things in assault. Simply having models occupying space on a table prevents your opponent from being able to push and make advances into those areas. As a result, you’ve given yourself breathing space against an aggressive assault list or minimizing a shooting list’s ability to put distance between its self and you. 

credit to Fan Pop
credit to Fan Pop

The second core element of the army is the damage. Now, this may seem obvious. Yes, you need some level of damage to keep you in the game. A lot of players go overboard and feel as though they have to have the ability to destroy everything on the table every game. It just doesn’t work like that. I include just the right amount of damage to give myself the ability to remove key units that are going to pose me the biggest threat. These targets can change based on deployment and mission as well as the faction or style of list you are up against. It is incredibly important to have the ability to identify the potential problems your opponents list will have for you. When those key threats have been removed, if you have taken the right steps in identifying the problem units, your opponent will start to lose their ability to stop you from asserting board dominance and controlling all relevant objectives. It is a slow process that edges your opponent out of the game and will result in more consistent wins across the board instead of smashing a few games and taking a few big losses. 

The way I play 40k has evolved over the years, and I have trained my brain to go through a series of thought processes that now happen without me sitting down and taking the time to walk through it slowly. When I step up to the table, I am calculating exactly how this game will play out, how I will set the tone for this game to play out like a story already written. This mindset allows me to be several steps ahead of my opponent before the game has even started. 

The single most important thing to train yourself to do and perform as if it were muscle memory is to identify your opponent’s win condition. Being able to do this comes through experience and a lot of thought, but what it allows you to do is shut down your opponent’s game plan before they have even determined how they will play the game out. This then sets off a chain reaction of you already working your way towards what you need to do to secure the win while beginning to prevent your opponent’s second-best option to regain control of the game. By the time they realize their go-to game plan is for the most part ruled out, they begin scrambling to find another way back into the game, thus making it like they are playing out a game in story mode where the result is predetermined. 

Credit to Games Workshop
Credit to Games Workshop

I cannot stress enough the importance experience plays in all of this. 40k is not a game you can master overnight; it takes years of effort, thought, and practice in an endless mission to reach the pinnacle of competitive tabletop gaming. Developing different ways of thinking does require going against what is considered normal for list building. There is no right way to write a list or play a game; there are only different approaches to the situation. I play the game with a subtle element of tempo control. To me, the game is all about attrition and outlasting your opponent, so everything I build can take an absolute beating or have a multitude of ways in mitigating damage throughout the game. Pre-game prep is highly important. It takes a lot of time and experience to develop the ability to identify your goals before the game, let alone build on that skill to break the matchup down and identify the win condition in a matter of minutes before the game even begins. 

Thanks for tuning in for this week’s article. If you’re interested in learning more about my style of play, you can find more on the Art of War website ( https://www.theartofwar40k.com/meet-the-team ) and connect with me directly. Stay safe in these tough times, and keep learning in order to keep that Warhammer motivation up! 

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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