Finally, I was able to get a full night of sleep. Let us jump right in by starting with the Adepticon Sunday Finals Mission packet.
40k Championship Sunday Finals Mission Packet
The missions focused on simplicity to achieve clear results. By winning basically two out of three of the mission conditions you win the game. If you draw/contest then it goes to simple victory points for tie breakers. This dynamic while on paper looks solid does come fraught with some potential dangers. Namely list tailoring, by including so many objective based conditions for victory this only encouraged really survivable troop choices to the detriment of elite or specialized forces. Which explains to some extent the high preponderance of Orks and MEQs making it to the finals. Of course you cannot make a direct correlation. As it turns out Space Wolves and Orks made up the largest segment of armies in the entire tournament, but as we look at the army lists that made it into the top 16 you can see a trend that almost all of them possess consisitantly survivable troops.
This system ends up hurting Imperial Guard and Dark Eldar. It forces both armies to put their scoring forces in many risky situations which coupled with the one lose and your out can make for a very challenging system. Which as you can tell no toughness three armies (IG player we can explain later) made it to the Final 16.
Before we go into the lists, let me start off by saying that everyone that made it into the Top 16 had to be excellent players so don’t let anything I say take away from that fact. All lists represent the seeding going into the finals.
One of the many Ork players to make the top 16. By looking over this army you can see that is pretty standard Battlewagon fair. If you look closely though you will notice the obscene amount of points spent on upgrades to just about everything– really does the Warboss need a twin-linked shoota with an ammo runt? This list could of easily benefited from stripping away 10 points off of each unit to provide more anti tank or another boyz squad. Still with that said, you can see just how resilient these troop choices are and at a cool 11 KPs you could image just how hard it was for any opponent to win enough victory conditions.
David Johansen Blood Angels 15th Seed
This is one odd Blood Angel list. I am not sure what it is trying to do. It is not tank killy enough, it has too few scoring units. It has a super reliance on Assault Termies and the Sanguinor to get into combat along with needing the Stormraven to survive it is kinda amazing this list made it to the Top 16. I image he used the Stormraven from reserve in many of his games and brought it on at key points to unload its cargo. An army that either has too many troops he couldn’t grind though with the Termies or an army that could dance around pose the biggest threats to this type of list.
Brandon Vallee Space Marine 14th Seed
Khan armies are effective, fun, but ultimately very restrictive. Khan armies are still great for this kind of format though. They dictate the flow of the games very well; having units that are fast, tough, and flexible. With the Command Hammer unit you can easily clear other opponents entrenched scoring units. Usually Khan players know what they are doing so this army really shouldn’t come as any surprise making it into the final 16. It is also no surprise this list didn’t make the final table. This list is far too elite and very susceptible to a bad matchup; which you can get by against poor players, but at this level becomes problematic.
Reece Robbins Space Wolves 13th Seed
Reece’s list is really the only MSU army to make it into the top 16. The Adepticon format at a glance might seem MSU friendly, but in practice it offers too many opportunities to for an opponent to rack up kill points or clear out your small scoring units once the transports are popped. Without wolf scouts or any really devastating assault unit you neither can reliably stop your opponent from taking pot shots at you from the backfield or provide enough pressure to finish off their scoring units. Long Fangs can only get you so far.
Henrik Lampen Space Marines 12th Seed
Also known as the Swed: Henrik had a solid all comers Space Marine list. He had every tool a good player would need to compete. Drop Pod Dred to threaten the backfield. Psychic Defense and Hammer unit. Long range shooting and with the Thunderfire cannon the ability to clear horde units with ease. The only real danger it faces is from an opponent that loads up on one particular phase of the game. Say if you have max Grey Hunter units it becomes really hard for an army like this to clear them all and not be grinded down through attrition.
Jay Woodcock Tyranids 11th Seed
I couldn’t explain it, but everyone was rooting for Jay to at least make it to the final table. He made it to the top four which was a testament to his gamesmanship. As for the list it really relied on the abitily to protect his genstealers and force opponents into mistakes. As well stringing out units in order to get the Catalyst bonus, adding suvivability to otherwise very fragile units. The Gargoyles also play an important roll in an army like this, they had the ability to screen his entire army with cover saves. Jay forced armies into the center and at the same time flanked with his Tervigons so that when the Stealers coming on the board they would be in Catalyst range. Visually it often looked like an alien vise closing in.
Cole MarkGraf Imperial Guard 10th Seed
Cole went to the final table against Tony which could of given Tony problems. Instead the always intrinsic weakness of Guard is the guardsmen themselves. Cole’s army was overall pretty different from your standard competitive IG lists. Many people were surprised by the Russes and Heavy Weapon Teams: they posed threats that many opponents would have to think hard to deal with. With these different types of survivable units (AV 14 & muti-wound teams) you couldn’t just focus on popping the Valks and blowing the manticore as your best path to success. In the end, though Tony neutralized the shooting that mattered (objective contesting Valks) and used Njal’s and his unit to force Cole to waste almost an entire round of shooting to clear him. Once Tony could open up the Chimeras it become T3 5+ armor save vs. Grey Hunters with Wolf Standards.
Max Schuchard Space Wolves 9th Seed
Max’s list is the kind of Space Wolf army many folks have grown to dread: Thunder cav, Long Fangs, a Rune Priests with Jaws. It was no wonder that (from what I was told) this list gave Tony the best run for his money with VPs deciding the match. I think not having enough power weapons in the ThunderCav proved problematic, even with Rending it can become too unreliable of a way to clear combats. If you can get that deathstar trapped in a long drawn out CC you can work on the rest of the list with impunity.
This was the WTF list of the Final 16. You are really looking at three Looted Wagons! On closer inspection its strength comes from the mass of boyz. With a Boyz count of 110 you can image some of the dead piles Mike had going. This is where the format plays an important role in allowing a list like this to flourish. Not only is it low KPs it is also really annoying to finish off. Ghaz also gives you that strike when you need to swarm your opponent. It is a great army to surround enemy transports and destroy a unit without ever getting into CC. The biggest problem is Space Wolves 30 boyz even IF they get all their attacks can disappear with below average rolls and Grey Hunters with Wolf Standards.
Gagan Thable Blood Angels 7th Seed
A solid BA list, it utilizes many of the tricks we have all grown to love or hate about the Blood Angels. With Mephiston leading the charge. Many BA player I have noticed go heavy either all jump or all mech. It was good to see a list using both elements. It was also one of the really in your face armies to make it to Finals. We can assume that being bent to such a degree made it particularly tough for this list to beat a good castle or heavy weapon army.
Brent Crihfield Daemons 6th Seed
This was the other OMG did that army really make it? I am sure Brent on his blog will do a better job of explaining in super detail all the games he played and why he felt his list was effective. As a casual observer, this list it relies a lot on making 4+ saves and Fiends beating face. The Horrors play a critical role as well by giving an extra four bolts to take down tanks, but is four extra bolts worth T3 and low model count? So why did this list make it? I can only surmise that all these units are tough to finish off. Five wound 4+ Heralds that can jump across the board at will is pretty annoying. Fiends, Fiends, and more Fiends.And with the exception of the Fiends all of Brent’s units could care less about cover– giving him full use of the board in order to drop his units into place. In an eight round tourney the major problems that this army can face, is one round of bad dice and template and blast weapons raining down. Either way it is great that this army made it that far.
Another Ork army! Ricky ended up losing to Tony in the Final Four. It came down to more or less to one assault that proves the major problem with Orks against Space Wolves. 20 Ard Boyz and Big Mek vs. Grey Hunters. First off you are going to lose lots of Boyz especially with the Wolf Standard going off. So it is imperative you make those 4+ saves. That is exactly want didn’t happen for Ricky and not having bosspole in that unit was head scratching. As for the list itself it was a pretty balanced army for shooty Orks, but with the Deff Dred and mass Big Shootas seemed a little odd.
Paul Murphy Blood Angels 4th Seed
I really like the double-headed dragon this sort of list possesses. It is actually amazing just how much pure death it has…that is if you can actually crack open a transport. How are you going to destroy a pure mech force? Unless my opponent stands still I find it is pretty hard that it could stand up to a full mech IG or Space Wolf force. Once you can kill whatever squad Sanguinor is in you can really can make easy work of all the other elements.
Clark Welch Space Marines 3rd Seed
This is the sort of Marine list I like to run. The idea of infiltrating TH/SS Termies with fleet is damn fun. I know that a few of Clark’s opponents were taken aback by this tactic. I am also a big fan of the twin-linked Las (over Las/plas) in Vanilla Marine armies because usually you are sitting back and only can ise Lascannons anyway. To see the three Thunderfire cannons is a bit of an eye opener. Thunderfire cannons though deal out so much blast spam that light vehicles and horde armies really don’t stand a chance. Of course, the list’s biggest problem is the one trick pony nature and against opponent that can go first or counter with their own infiltrators makes for a sad Shrike day. Not having another unit that can threaten your opponent really puts too much onus on the Termies.
Andrew’s Orks almost won last year as well, so it was great to see him make it to the finals. This is one great Trukk list with many ways to kill you. Burners are one of the most underrated units in the Ork codex as they can do double duty of either horde killing or Space Marine culling. Throw in Ghaz with the Burna Boyz or Meganobz gives a lot of flexibility to Andrew. This list looks to throw a lot of things at you that you cannot possibly deal with. The danger though is in the Trukk Boyz (while cheap) when isolated can be easily destroyed and without bosspoles pinned on bad explosion rolls. I am sure though that Andrew keeps all his trucks in KFF range or screened for maximum protection.
Tony Kupach Space Wolves 1st Seed
Unlike the recent NCAA if you betted on this number one seed you would have won your office pool. If you didn’t think that Space Wolves are the top army book before then this should convince you. This army brings the most painfully annoying troop unit in the game and spams them. It takes the ridiculous undercost Long Fangs and gives you three units of them. Did I mention it also has Njal? It doesn’t rely on MSU like Reece’s list. It doesn’t care if you bring over a hundred Orks, it doesn’t really care if you blow up its transports all it cares about is staying alive long enough to break your will to play. Too many troops, too many missiles, and not enough turns.
Now you might hear rumors of Tony winning first turn in every game (he did get seized on twice and still crushed). You might hear people claim that he played five Ork armies in eight games. You might also notice that he got a low sportsman score going into the finals. I don’t think he was their to make friends? Having watched him play a few games he acted more like the equivalent to Hal the 40k thinking machine than the 16-year-old kid he actually was. While almost everyone was laboring though their games on Sunday (staying up too late) Tony was their calm and collected– never showing any signs of fatigue. It was a true testament to his superb focus. You could tell that Tony played the mission not the opponent, which was reflected so well in its construction for Adepticon. As a student of the missions Tony exploited his opponent’s weakness; baiting, laying traps, and lulling then into false senses of security. Just when would think his list was about to crumble it always turned the other way around.
What does this win mean for the 40k meta? Well probably not much because most people knew that the Space Wolves were the best army around this only solidifies it. For me there is no doubt that Tony is a great player– 16 or not that doesn’t matter. What it does mean though is that lists like Tony and others have potential have an unfair advantage against lists that don’t play to the matrix that Adepticon and other events have shifted towards. Variety should be the spice of life and 40k alike. I don’t have a solution, but in the quest to create the “perfect competitive event” we should avoid creating events where the army list created is more than the person playing it.