Today we have a guest article written by Sir_Prometheus. He goes over the 18 main Secondary Objectives in the 2020 GT pack. Breaking down how to efficiently maximize your score, and how to evaluate which ones work best for you and your army.
Let’s talk about the Secondary Objectives in the GT Pack (i.e. the missions most ITC tournaments and competitive events will use). Despite the name “secondary” these objectives account for fully half of the points it is possible for you to score in a game (not counting the 10 “paint yer models” points) making them rather important, actually. Secondaries are arguably harder to max out than the Primary: you could in theory get 60 Primary Points if it were not capped at 45, while most Secondaries getting the max 15 is just barely possible and a couple it’s not even possible at all. The Secondaries are complicated and have a variety of pros and cons. Don’t worry, I’m here to help!
My name is Sir_Prometheus and I’ve been a competitive tournament player for many years (all the way back to when GW actually ran tournaments outside of Nottingham) and after practicing for and playing in probably the first Major GT of 9th, I have thoughts on picking these Secondary things.
I’ll be going over the 18 main Secondary Objectives in the GT pack 2020. I’ll go over the 9 mission specific Secondaries in another article. (Several are quite good to take! But they are also tied to their specific mission, which gets more complicated.) We’re gonna try to keep a few things in mind when rating these Objectives:
- How easy is it for you to accomplish? This includes how many points you can score maximum, and how likely that is to happen, vs. how likely it is to score the minimum.
- What are you giving up to do this? (Usually, this matters for Actions)
- How easy is it for your opponent to stop you? (Things to watch out for are Actions that can be blocked by a unit being there at the beginning of your turn, which you can’t kill yet and Actions that don’t complete until your next turn, which means they can kill you first.)
Obviously, a lot of this depends upon both your army composition and your opponents (but you should design your list at least partly for these). I play Grey Knights and T’au, which lead to very different choices than an Imperial Guard or Tyranid player might choose. I’m also going to come out and say: I think in most cases if you’re scoring 10 pts, that’s pretty OK, and if you can get 12+, that’s great. Getting 15 pts is gonna be rare.
We’re going to go through the categories one by one, keep in mind that a key feature is that you can only pick one objective from each category, and of course you are supposed to pick 3, for a possible 15 points each, 45 total.
These are basically positional objectives, but the third one is different in practice because it’s about Objectives Markers.
It’s all about positioning
Engage on All Fronts
This is basically Recon, as ITC has known it. It’s a little more difficult — a unit has to be completely in one quarter (no stradling and picking which quarter when convenient) as well as more than 6” from the center (which keeps you from accomplishing it by default by just holding the center). So Recon, but harder. It’s 3 pts for all 4 quarters and 2 pts for 2 quarters, meaning you would need all 4 quarters every turn to get all 15 pts. It’s scored at the end of your turn meaning there’s not much your opponent can do to stop you. Now, what I’ve noticed about this is that scoring all 4 quarters (3 pts) is often hard, but scoring 3 quarters (2 pts) is actually quite easy, particularly on the corner deployments where you start in one corner and are going to move into the other two as you advance on the enemy anyway. (That’s assuming you have a decent amount of mobility, which you absolutely should, gunlines are bad in 9th, mmm’kay?) That means you’ll only rarely get 15 pts, but will often get at least 10 pts. This is a good choice for most armies, and a better choice the more mobile you are and the more units you have.
We all know and love Linebreaker. This edition you need 2 units in the opponent’s deployment zone, end of your turn, 4pts each turn. Most armies would be hard pressed to accomplish this turn 1, but aggressive close combat armies and anyone with deepstrikers or even outflankers should have little trouble scoring this turns 2-5, meaning 16 pts. What you really need to think about is: Do I want to fight on the opponent’s side of the board? Yes, probably, but some enemies will be running to your side of the board, some can screen you out, and in one mission there aren’t even any objectives in either deployment zone. As a Grey Knight player with lots of deepstriking units that are happy in combat I’ve found this is usually easier than Engage, though either is good. If you are really aggressive, this is even easier than Engage on All Fronts. (T’au might be better at Engage than Linebreaker, as a counter-example).
I’m gonna put this out there: Most games you should probably be taking either Engage on All Fronts or Linebreaker, and if you’re not, have a good reason for it.
(You can’t actually take both, but that’d be awesome.)
Score 3 pts if you control more than half of the Objective Markers at the end of your turn. The good part of this is that you need to control Objectives anyway for the Primary, and it’s scored at the end of your turn so the enemy can’t stop you other than already controlling those objectives (which of course they will be trying to). The bad part is that it’s more than half, not “half”. On a 4 Objective map you need to hold three, on 5, three, and on a 6 objective map four. Assuming you’re not just dominating on the Primary this is really hard, actually. It’s a little less awful on the 5 Objective missions. This mission is not nearly as easy as it seems at first, it is probably only good when you’re winning anyway, or are an aggressive army against someone much more passive, which means you’re already winning anyway……seriously, double think it if you’re tempted to take this.
No Mercy, No Respite
These aren’t quite “kill” missions (that’s the next section) but closer to “kill more” or “kill on an army wide scale”.
Thin Their Ranks
This is the old ITC The Reaper mission, but frankly much, much harder. Under The Reaper you had to kill 80 wounds to max it, meaning 80 Grots, or 40 Intercessors, etc, but now you essentially have to kill 150 Grots to max it (though big models of 10+ wounds count as 10). That’s a LOT. I haven’t seen any armies in 9th with anything like that model count. It’s also wonky on how things count (a Knight counts as just 10, a Venom as just 1). No discount for multi-wound troops otherwise. Because 9th has actively discentivised hordes this is probably always really bad. If hordes make a true comeback, sure, but it’s still much harder than The Reaper ever was.
You just don’t see this anymore.
Grind Them Down
This one is simple, it’s “kill more”. If you have an elite army and/or big units, yeah, this is a good choice. As a Grey Knight player this is usually a good choice unless I’m like, fighting Custodes or Imperial/Chaos Knights. If you’re playing as Guard or Genestealer Cult, probably not so much. Take this if you have an “elite” army and think you can kill the enemy at the right rate.
While We Stand, We Fight
OK, your 3 most expensive models (not units), if they stay alive, you get 5 pts each. It’s good because it stacks easily with everything else. But, think about this a bit. Are any of those models big vehicles or monsters? 9th is still as killy as 8th, if your opponent wants to kill a unit that doesn’t have special protection (look out, sir), they probably can. If not you probably have an all infantry list, or maybe your characters are very beefy that they outweigh some light transports and maybe Dreadnoughts. But in any of these scenarios, if you spent a lot of points on something, it’s worth a lot (duh), which means you need it to do work. Most games I see Guilliman appear on the tabletop, he dies. Why? Because he’s 400 pts and you need him near the front lines doing work. He’s super tough with “lookout, sir!”, but your opponent already had to kill that guy (twice, possibly) or he lost anyway.
I played a guy who took this and the 3 most expensive models were GMDK, GMDK, and then Draigo. Draigo, he’s safe-ish (though like Guilliman, he finds his way to the front) but the two GMDKs, it made no sense. I had to kill those things anyway, or I would lose, and I did, and he gave up 10 pts for free in the process. I won by 5. This can work in special cases where your 3 most expensive units are beefy characters that will live amongst screens, but it is not as good as it looks at first.
Purge the Enemy
These are the “kill a specific thing” objectives. Usually an easy choice IF the opponent’s list has enough of the appropriate target.
Easiest choice ever. Is your opponent Imperial/Chaos Knights? Yes, take this. Is it one Knight in an AdMech army or a Shadow Sword in a Guard army? It’s still 10 points. Less of a slam dunk, but frankly probably still worth it, if you’re having trouble picking a better Secondary. You will know when this makes sense and it will be an easy choice. Just keep in mind 10 pts is “good” and if there’s one Titanic unit, you may still want to take this.
Bring It Down
Well, did your opponent bring enough vehicles/monsters for you to max this? That’s kinda it. It’s 3pts for an 11+ wound unit and 2pts for 10 or less, which is a weird break point since for most other things 10 is the break point, not 11 (“look out, sir!” and whether you get a degrading statline). Only a few armies will have enough 11+ W models for this to make sense, but keep in mind this has no exception for squadrons. Kastellan Robots, Dragoons, Piranhas, Sentinels, Talos…every model is 2 pts. This one is also pretty simple, just keep in mind Rhinos are only worth 2 pts and squadrons of little stuff are worth more than you think.
Cut Off the Head
OK, look, this objective is a trap, and it is nearly always a bad idea. You can score a max of 13pts (odd #, that) and it goes down from there every turn you fail to kill the enemy Warlord. To score more than 6 pts you would have to kill the Warlord on turn 1 or 2. I am going to tell you that is basically never going to happen. Key bit here: Reserves and units in transports are picked after Secondaries are declared. OK, so maybe it’s a typical infantry character and you have a billion snipers…..they can just choose to reserve their warlord or keep it in a transport or behind obscuring terrain. Nothing even has to be on the board until turn 3 if it doesn’t want to be, and are you killing it instantly? Maybe more like a turn later? 6pts at the most, more likely 3 pts. Like, maybe if you’re facing Mortarion? Except I’m pretty sure Mortarion players have thought through how to keep him alive for a turn or two.
It is absolutely within your opponent’s power to keep their Warlord alive for 2 turns, making this a bad choice under nearly every circumstance. Do not take this objective. If you think it’s a good idea, you have been enjoying too many libations from the hotel bar and are mistaken.
Headhunter. 3 pts per character you kill, kill 5 to max, simple enough. Lists typically have much fewer characters in 9th ed than they did in 8th ed, but if they brought 5, it’s an easy choice, right? Well, hold on. My intuition is if they brought 5 characters you are gonna kill maybe 3 (which is 9 pts, still not bad, remember we’re calling 10 pts “good”). But have a think about who those characters are and where they’ll reside. Are they melee characters that are gonna come running at you? Solitaires and Smash Captains and Lords Discordant are going to be a lot easier to kill (really the question being how much damage they do before they die) than like, an Iron Hands Techmarine and a Librarian hiding amongst some Repulsors. There is also a noted effect that the more characters there are in the list, the less “chaff” there is to protect them and the more “out there” those characters are likely to be. Consider taking this if the enemy has 5 or more characters, but maybe not if those characters are going to be “backfield” and don’t go taking it when they have 4 and you think 12 pts is “good enough”…….you are unlikely to kill all 4.
This is all the Secondaries that require Actions (different from Psychic Actions). All of them in this section have to be done by Infantry, and 2 of the 4 Objectives specify non-character Infantry. An Action is kinda a big thing….your unit doesn’t get to DO anything during that time. They all start at the end of your movement and usually are completed at the end of that turn (but sometimes your next command phase, meaning the enemy can kill you before you’re done). While they are performing an action you can’t shoot, assault, or use psychic powers, and any aura buffs go away. So your unit is either doing whatever you brought it to do (beyond just sitting on an Objective) or completing the Action. If it’s a 50 pt Guard squad that’s really not a big deal, but if it’s a 500 pt Paladin bomb then that unit giving up it’s combat output is a huge cost, actually. Just keep that in mind, elite armies are going to want to pick these options less, cheap and MSU (many small units) are going to want to pick them up more.
Raise the Banners High
Ok, use the Action (no enemy units can be near, which causes a first mover advantage), which completes at the end of your turn, flag pops up on the objective, and then you get a point at your next command phase and every turn after and the end of the game. If your opponent ever grabs the Objective then your flag goes away. You need to use this on 3 Objectives in turn 1 (you can do multiple at once) and hold them forever to max this, which is a heavy lift, actually. (2 Obj for 10 pts) This is better if you go first (which you have no control over) and is only moderately difficult for your opponent to stop. It is almost certainly best for “flood the board” armies (horde Guard, Tyrnaids, Orks) that both have Actions and can just keep the enemy from getting near at least 3 Objectives or keep obsec on them.
Score 3 pts for doing an Action within 6” center (no characters), and it completes at the end of your turn. But there’s a catch: no enemy units can be within 6” of the center, either. Can you hold and completely screen out the entire center, 12” across? Can you really, without allowing a little pipsqueak squad to advance and get one toe in there? You have to start the Action in your movement phase, you probably can’t kill the blocking unit first (cool use for C’tan powers, various bombers, tho). It is totally worth it for your opponent to sacrifice a unit to deny you 3 pts, and if they can charge you with a big beefy unit, even better. This Objective looks easy, but is actually surprisingly easy for an opponent to shut down.
Despite only getting 10 pts this Secondary is chosen quite often. Why? Because unlike the other 3 in this section there’s very little your opponent can do to stop you. You only need to do it 3 times, once in each deployment zone and once in the middle. It needs to not be a character and it IS all or nothing, but the hardest part is getting into your opponent’s deployment zone, which isn’t very hard. Getting 10 points is “good” and as long you have 3 Actions to spend, you’re just going to get this. Take this in place of any other Secondary you are not 100% sure you are going to get 11+ points on.
Start an Action in your opponents deployment zone and score an easy 4 pts when you complete it at the end of your next command phase.
Oh, no. This is why we read the fine print. Your unit (it can be a character) has to spend an entire turn in enemy territory, fiddling with the wiring on a teleport homer, I guess, and if the enemy kills the unit, you fail that turn. 9th is just as killy as 8th, most armies can kill a particular unit if they want to. It’s worth 4 pts to do so. What Infantry unit is tough enough to survive a round of fire, all on it’s own, but is also cheap enough that you don’t mind giving up it’s entire turn? Not a lot. Maybe you can find a secluded, obscured corner to deepstrike into, but you don’t know that before the game starts. Despite potentially getting 4 pts a turn, maxing out in 4 turns, this is FAR too easy for your opponent to stop and thus is typically a bad choice.
What’s the running theme here? The Secondary that is worth the least points in this category, Deploy Scramblers is the clear winner just because your enemy can’t really stop you. You will get those 10 pts, nearly always.
The 3 Secondaries here that require a Psyker (a Character, all options so far) and a Psychic Action are sorta all the same kind of thing, and consider all these points when we dive into each individual Secondary. Also, keep in mind a Psychic Action is NOT a subset of an Action, it’s its own thing, and only occupies you during the Psychic Phase. It is easiest to think of it as one big psychic power that consumes all your casts — though it’s not technically a power, it follows all the same rules (you can even have advanced first, which you can’t for normal Actions). My general concern is that all the armies that are bringing a Psyker are bringing that Psyker to do specific things that are usually critical. Can a White Scar Librarian give up casting Ride the Winds? Can a Farseer give up Doom? Probably not, to be honest. Even Grey Knights, where every character is a Psyker, all those powers are spoken for. We took 5 Dominus powers, need every one, and wished we could afford taking duplicates of a few, but couldn’t. The best case is probably a Daemon Prince that just has Psyker as a byproduct and is really there to assault the enemy. Otherwise we’re talking about taking a “spare” Eldar Warlock, or maybe a GK apothecary, which is still expensive. Oh, and not a small thing, all of these can be denied, meaning if the enemy has Psykers too, there’s a decent chance they can stop this. I don’t think that most armies that have Psykers have “spare” Psykers, making all these questionable.
Abhor the Witch
This is for those other people that didn’t bring a Psyker at all. This is sorta like Titanic: If your opponent is a Grey Knight or Thousand Sons player, yes, take this! For more normal but Psyker-heavy armies it’s like a ramped up version of Assassinate (which it stacks with)…..how many Psyker Characters did they take, and how easy is it to get to them? This is good when it’s good and should be obvious if it is.
The first of the Psychic Action Objectives, this is probably the most straight forward. It depends upon the matchup, but you will probably be within 18” of an enemy character. But probably not turn 1, yeah? Meaning if there are no denies I think you’re likely to get this 4 times for 12 pts, at most, maybe less. Straightforward, but probably only mid-scoring.
Do your Psychic Action within 6” of the center of the battlefield 3 times for 15 pts. When I thought any, meaning several different characters could do this, I thought this was pretty good, but the FAQ made clear that it has to be the same one, 3 times, which makes it awful. It’s all or nothing, and you can’t attempt it more than once in a turn, meaning if they kill the guy who cast it twice already turn 4…..you’re getting nothing. I think the fact that the same character has to perform this action all 3 times really kills this. Too easy for the opponent to stop.
Pierce the Veil
So on the one-hand, within 6” (oof) of the opponent’s battlefield edge (NOT necessarily in their deployment zone, on corner deployments that’s actually a lot of ground in no man’s land) and more than 6” from enemy models (still oof). On the other hand this is kinda forgiving: any character can cast it, and if you only cast it twice you get 8 points and 4 times get you the full 15. If you are on a corner deployment, and you were set up for having a “spare” caster, this could be pretty good, actually. Just make sure you can get there on any other setup.
So that concludes the “main” Secondaries, and there’s a few big takeaways.
- 10 points is good, if you can guarantee 10 points that’s probably worth going for.
- Most times, you should either take Engage on All Fronts or Linebreaker, partly because your opponent can’t stop this.
- Be careful of any Secondary Objective that requires Actions or Psychic Actions, partly because this means your unit isn’t doing whatever else, but mostly because all but one of them give your opponent opportunities to stop you from ever scoring that one at all.
Speaking of which: if any of the 3 Objectives that you are considering taking you are not sure you can get 10 points with, and you have 3 Actions to spare (most armies, but maybe not Grey Knights or Custodes)…..take Deploy Scramblers instead. It is a basically guaranteed 10 pts.