Danny’s Road to SoCal: Reps

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, I am going to talk about one of the most important parts of tournament prep, at least for me, getting those sweet repetitions of the list to make sure that you actually know how to play it, what it can do, and most important, what it can’t do. SoCal Open 2021 is just a few short weeks away, and so now really is the time to get that muscle memory strong.

Well, after warbling, flip-flopping, and even some dillydallying, I have locked myself into a list.  3 Lord of Skulls (or King of Beers as my group likes to say) it is, and now my tournament prep is spilt between two main concerns: painting and playing. 

Painting:

The Lord of Skulls is a beautiful, really detailed model that is so much more impressive in person.  That said, it is a bit of a bear to paint. Do you like banding? This is how you get banding.  Luckily, sourcing 3 Lord of Skulls was successful, mostly do to the TFG Radio crew, but I’ll tell ya, I have never worked so long on a model to see so little results.  Definitely part of the deal for some of the models was “paint them” and well, now I see the error in my ways. I still have time though, and I am certainly not such a hobbyist that I should spend too much time regaling any dear readers with the process.  As my time is running short, I don’t think that I am going to be able to really do as much as I want on them, but that’s how it goes.

Playing:

I have had time to get a few games in with the final, refined list:  

World Eaters Patrol:

Kharn

Terminator Lord with Chainaxe/Combibolter. Gorefather. Warlord: violent urgency

3×5 CSM with chainswords

6 Red Butcher Terminators. 2x Lightning claws. Icon of Wrath.

World Eaters Super-Heavy

3x Lord of Skulls with Ichor Cannon/Gatling Cannon

So the list is pretty easy to pilot, which is what I want since I want my games to play fast, so I have more time to enjoy actually playing and hanging out with all the wonderful people.  There are some tricks to it, but it is really designed around maximizing the overall efficiency of the Lord of Skulls.

The basic setup is 2 Lord of Skulls in the centerish of the board with Kharn right between them, giving them both reroll to hits (the worse version where a -1 to hit does matter but still, definitely an overall improvement to hit versus just reroll 1s), and the two lay down some heavy fire and bait the opponent to coming to me.  The third goes off on one flank to try and hold that down, taking an objective in the side of the table or going big into the center.  Thanks to the Daemonforge stratagem, that one is also rerolling hits and wounds for 1 CP, which is a huge boost in efficiency, and since I really only have 3 main threats at the start of the game, getting the most mileage out of them is essential. I do love the resiliency of the Lords, namely that they don’t degrade in many meaningful ways. They lose strength, but even at their lowest, their big hits are still S10 AP-4 D6 or a ton of S5 AP-2 Dd3, and none of my guns are set to the model’s strength, so their shooting is always at full power since their BS never degrades.  I’ve even found that limping an injured Lord into the center catches people off guard as it is suddenly swinging up to 24 times at full weapon skill.  

The Red Butchers are more there to take an objective away from my opponent. They can certainly hit hard if need be to take down a real threat, but since they are really my only tool for threatening the backfield, especially castles hiding out of Line of Sight, that is where they will ideally go.  Since they have two combat activations, depending on how my enemy is positioned, they can feasibly eat two units on the drop, and with a 2+/5++ across 12 wounds, they are not easy to shift, especially considering the other big threats. The Lord has Gorefather for another flat damage 3 weapon, which the list lacked in previous versions, and while he isn’t going to murder a lot alone, he can still do some good work.  The Lord and Butchers are definitely the most “scalpel” parts of the list as where and when I utilize them has a lot of room for error but also a lot of room for big swings. Really, they are where I need the most practice to get comfortable knowing exactly what I can expect from them and what I can’t.

Depending on the mission and opposing army, my 3 chaff squads are either hiding in the backfield, camping objectives and zoning out my deployment from any deepstrike issues, or I can also spend 1 CP to put 2 of them in reserve.  Against a list with not a lot of long-ranged shooting, this can let me actually take Retrieve Octarius Data as one squad can start on my side, get 1 corner, and then I can bring on one squad in turn 2 to get my opponent’s first quadrant, the other on turn 3 to get the last opponent held quadrant, and finally, during those 2 turns, my first squad can hustle over to my unscored other corner to get that one.  Again, it depends who my opponent is, but it is always essential to know which Secondaries you are going to get.

In terms of Secondaries, the list definitely does not have a ton of options.  My go-to is certainly Grind Them Down as with only 9 units, if I am canny about hiding my squishier targets, I can generally score that unless I am already losing badly.  I do not much care for To The Last as even in a generally solid win, I am going to lose 1 or even 2 Lord of Skulls over the course of the game, so only scoring 5 points is not great.  Unless I am playing against a horde list that relies more on body count over damage to win, there is too much of a gamble.  Again, against certain matchups, I can pull off Retrieve, and often, I take Abhor the Witch as I have no psykers, and against armies like Grey Knights or Thousand Sons, getting kills means scoring Secondaries.  That said, there really isn’t too much else. It is hard for me to consistently get Engage on All Fronts since I only have 9 units, and 2 of the 3 big guys want to stay closer to each other to sort of bully the center with Kharn.  Such is life when you play skew.  Some of the mission specific primaries are doable, but then, you can’t be too sure what mission you are going to play.

The list is also super CP starved.  With only 4 starting thanks to the Super-Heavy detachment and the Red Butchers, I really only have 1 good turn of surprising punch.  Really, I have found that the setup is mostly the same: spend 1 CP a turn (offset by gaining 1 per turn) for Daemonforge in the shooting phase on the unsupported Lord of Skulls, and then on Turn 2 or 3, save the rest for a really big punch out of the Red Butchers by popping Veterans of the Long War and either Stoke the Nails or Wild Fury, depending on the target. It also helps to save the a CP for a reroll to charge for the Terminator Lord as I generally want him to connect with a target that the Red Butchers will hit, so they can reroll 1s to hit and helping them generally punch way above their weight.  

Thanks to Kharn and the Termie Lord, I do have 1 very limited way to generate CP, by killing characters in melee with my characters.  This isn’t too likely as Kharn is there to give rerolls to the big guys and be a counter-charge threat as Kharn puts out a lot of pain in melee, but unless someone is throwing out a suicide melee character, he likely won’t be getting that.  The Termie Lord can do this, again, depending on my opponent and their positioning.  That is often up to me and what I am shooting with the Lord of Skulls to clear room for him to land and give him a lane to a support character. 

Overall, the list isn’t particularly elegant, but it has a bit more depth than some may give it credit for, but then, probably not as much as I am.  The real practice is knowing just how much I can leverage the threat from the Lord of Skulls in any given phase, and how much punishment they can take in return.  Having played and painted them for a bit now, I have to revise my expectations.

I just don’t have time to really paint them up to their full standard, so yah, I am hoping for just an above average paint score, but I highly doubt that I can feasibly get any painting related award.  The list can do some good work, but it is also highly unlikely I can dodge bad matchups or play well enough to maximize my chances.  Also, it’s SoCal, so there is going to be a ton of Chaos, especially with Thousand Sons, so yah, probably not best Chaos either. Really, I am not expecting to win a damn thing at all, and that’s ok. I am super pumped to be heading out there soon, and that’s what matters.

For a select few, going to a tournament is a path to glory and victory, especially if you’ve made it your actual livelihood, but for me, and I’d reckon most others, it’s a vacation built around a shared love.  I love 40K (and AoS and Kill Team), and I love playing the game and I have come to really enjoy so many of the people who also play this game, so my main expectation remains: have an amazing weekend with people I haven’t seen since the Plague. 

If you are going to SoCal, stop by and say hi, and if not, maybe I’ll see you at LVO 2022, and if not then, maybe someday.  Thanks as always for reading, and play games and be nice to each other. 

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About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.

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