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 Throne of Skulls: Steel Fury Tournament Report

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Count Adhemar
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PostSubject: Throne of Skulls: Steel Fury Tournament Report   Tue Jul 21 2015, 22:32

This past weekend I attended ‘Throne of Skulls: Steel Fury’, at Warhammer World, Games Workshop’s global HQ in Nottingham. This was a 5 round tournament at 1875 points, using Battle-forged or Unbound lists, with Maelstrom missions. Each round was 2.5 hours and the event was themed around tank battles but that was mainly fluffy rather than enforced by any rules. Incidentally, I found out the 1875 points total was specifically to allow people to bring Knight Households, which many people did! The special rules for the event gave all vehicles the Objective Secured rule and also allowed a free upgrade for each vehicle, chosen from a list. Each could only be taken once per army. Each table also had its own special rule but these were generally ignored by most players!

Given the theme of the weekend, I knew I’d be bringing a knife to a gun fight but decided to go ahead with a Freakshow list as the high points value and ability to take Unbound lists would enable me to field pretty much everything I needed to make the Freakshow concept work well. Also it’s worth remembering that Formations retain their special rules even in Unbound lists. In addition, being a GW event, the actual results meant little in terms of determining the winner (that’s based on number of Favourite Game votes) so in a sense it didn’t really matter what list I brought!

After much tinkering, this is the list I came up with:

1875 Point Dark Eldar/Haemonculus Covens/Craftworld Eldar/Harlequins Freakshow

Formation - Dark Artisan (325)
Haemonculus (Warlord)
Warlord Trait: Master Artisan - Talos & Cronos reroll FNP rolls of 1 within 12”of Warlord

Talos
Ichor Injector

Cronos
Spirit Probe

Formation - Grotesquerie (510)
Haemonculus
Syndriq’s Sump

Grotesques
4 Grotesques, Raider, Dark Lance, Night Shields
Steel Fury Upgrade: Vox Comms (Reroll Reserves)

Grotesques
4 Grotesques, Raider, Dark Lance, Night Shields
Steel Fury Upgrade: Hasty Repairs (Ignore first glancing hit)

Formation - Aspect Host (339)
Warp Spiders
5 Warp Spiders, Exarch

Dark Reapers
3 Dark Reapers, Starshot Missiles, Exarch

Fire Dragons
5 Fire Dragons, Exarch

Unbound - Harlequins (185)
Shadowseer
Mastery Level 2, Mask of Secrets

Shadowseer
Mastery Level 2

Unbound - Dark Eldar (335)
Haemonculus
Scissorhands, Armour of Misery

Archon
Archangel of Pain, Webway Portal

Venom
Additional Splinter Cannon
Steel Fury Upgrade: Veteran Commander (+1BS)

Raider
Steel Fury Upgrade: Grav Wave Generator (Ignore Dangerous Terrain)

Unbound - Eldar (181)
Farseer Skyrunner
Spiritstone of Anath’lan

Windriders
3 Windriders

Each Psyker rolls on Telepathy to try to get Invisibility and Terrify and takes the Primaris (Psychic Shriek). The Grots jump into the Raiders with a Shadowseer and Haemonculi joining each unit. The Farseer floats around the place with his ablative wounds Windriders, the Fire Dragons jump in the other Raider with their Archon Taxi driver, the Dark Reapers sit in the Venom for a bit of protection and ability to relocate quickly if needed. The Dark Artisans are there to be bullet magnets and kill anything that the rest of the army can’t take out. Warp Spiders are there to help out with light armour, heavy infantry and grabbing objectives. The Aspect Host doesn’t really fit into the Freakshow concept but I still needed the ability to take out heavy armour, flyers etc so I decided to bring them along anyway in a supporting role.

Game 1
Mission: Deadlock Opponent: Harlequins/Tau
I was facing Lee with his beautifully painted Masque of the Midnight Sorrow along with some Tau allies. There were 3 troupes of Harlequins, Solitaire, Death Jester, Shadowseer, a unit of Skyweavers, a Starweaver and a Voidweaver. The Tau force was an Ethereal, 2 minimum units of Fire Warriors in Devilfish, a Skyray and a Hammerhead. Lee said he wanted to bring a full Harlequin list but couldn’t get it painted in time so had to grab the Tau to bulk the army out.  

The deployment was in opposite corners of the battlefield and I deployed everything except the Fire Dragons and Archon in Raider, which was held in reserve. Lee deployed everything with the Tau forming a wall of vehicles and the Harlequins as far forward as possible (other than the Voidweaver). Special rules for the mission meant that each vehicle had to roll before the start of the first turn and on a 1 was immobilised. The Voidweaver was the only vehicle that fell foul of this but as it was in the furthest corner of the battlefield with a 24” range it basically turned into Sir Not Appearing In This Battle.

Basically, the Tau stood back and shot whilst the Harlequins rushed forward to get me into melee. I tasked one unit of Grotesques with attack the Tau vehicles to keep them occupied until the Fire Dragons showed up. The rest of the army was used to absorb the Harlequin assault but I needed to hold back a bit to soften them up with Psychic Shrieks and Eldar firepower. This had the desired effect and took out the Skyweavers, Starweaver and one Troupe before the rest of them reached my lines. They hit like a ton of bricks and caused some fairly serious damage but the Grotesques and Dark Artisan were up to the task and began to grind them down whilst I dealt with the Tau allies.

Unfortunately, 2.5 hours is rather a short time for this size of battle and we had only played 4 turns each before we ran out of time. At this point we were tied on 6 VP each so the game was a drawer but I’m confident that I would have won if it had continued as most of the Harlequins were dead, the two Tau battletanks were destroyed and pretty much all that was left were the Fire Warriors.

Game 2
Mission: Tactical Escalation Opponent: Necron Decurion
Martin’s Necrons consisted of a Reclamation Legion with Zahndrekh, 10 Tesla Immortals, 3 Tomb Blades, 2 minimum units of Warriors in Ghost Arks and a Monolith. There was also a Judicator Battalion of a Triarch Stalker and 2 minimum size units of Praetorians. Finally there was an Annihilation Nexus of 2 Annihilation Barges and a Doomsday Ark. Deployment for this mission is along the short table edges and this was quite good for me as most Necron firepower is 24” or less. I was able to deploy out of LOS of the Doomsday Ark which would prevent it from firing at full power but still let me deploy pretty much at the 24” line, meaning less time spent trying to get to grips with the enemy.

I think I took Martin by surprise with the Freakshow concept. I explained at the start of the battle exactly how it worked but I don’t think he was prepared for its effectiveness. After Zahndrekh and his Immortals failed a Morale check from Terrify (at -4 Ld) and were then charged in the assault phase, failed their regroup test and were wiped out he learned the hard way! Game was pretty tight, especially as 3 Tomb Blades managed to tie up the Dark Artisans for 3 turns, but I managed to sneak a 9-8 win when time was called (again after only 4 turns).

Game 3
Mission: Cloak and Shadows Opponent: Dark Angels Deathwing
Terminators, Terminators and nothing but Terminators! Alex’s army consisted of 5 x 5-man units of Deathwing Terminators and a unit of Deathwing Knights led by Belial and an Interrogator Chaplain. These were formed into 2 Deathwing Redemption Forces.
Alex deployed 3 units of Terminators on the table on or near objectives and kept the rest in reserve, to arrive on Turn 3 using Deathwing Assault. I deployed everything except the Fire Dragons but made sure I was out of range of everything other than Cyclone Missile launchers. Alex got first turn and stayed where he was, shooting with the Cyclones to no effect. He did however get some extremely fortunate Maelstrom cards and ended up with 6VP for doing nothing other than holding objectives! I moved all the assault elements of the army forward and shot everything I had at the nearest unit, wiping it out with a combination of Psychic Shrieks and ranged firepower. Turn 2 was basically rinse and repeat but this time I was also in assault range. The remaining 10 terminators were whittled down to a lone survivor who had to make 7 armour saves to avoid a turn 2 tabling. He managed to hold in there and on turn 3 his colleagues arrived to save the day. Sadly for them, I weathered their initial fire, decimated them with Psychic Shrieks and then charged the survivors. Belial held on for 2 turns but it ended on turn 4 with a tabling but that only earned me a 12-6 win.

Game 4
Mission: Cleanse and Control Opponent: Ultramarines Gladius Strike Force
This time I faced Paul with his 2 Battle Demi-Companies and 1st Company Task Force. With 25 units, 22 of which were objective secured (and 10 of which were free!) I knew I would have my work cut out for me to win an objective based game. As there were a few pods and 3 units of deep striking Terminators I decided to castle up in a corner, which also put me out of range of most of his firepower. I decided not to try to Seize and on we went with the first turn. Two drop pods arrived (one missing the table edge by millimetres!). Their contents opened up on the Dark Artisans and Grots but a combination of cover and FNP meant they lost only a couple of wounds between them. The rest of the Space Marines targeted the Warp Spiders and Jetbikes, which were the only units in range. The Warp Spiders escaped relatively unscathed but the Windriders were all killed, leaving the Farseer looking very lonely and very vulnerable. On my turn he promptly zoomed off towards the nearest Grots and joined them for protection, although this did reduce the number of Psychic Shrieks I could cast, as 2 casters were now in the same unit.

Over the next few turns the Grots and Dark Artisan became embroiled in a massive melee as reinforcements arrived and just piled into the ongoing fights as soon as possible. This left me with few targets for Psychic Shriek and also left most of his vehicles free to claim objectives and rack up victory points. Things were looking very grim indeed but 2 things saved me from utter defeat. Firstly, I only drew one maelstrom card all game that involved claiming an objective (and I actually managed to claim that one by deep striking my Fire Dragons in their ObjSec Raider within range of the objective and then blowing up the Rhino that was parked on it). Secondly, I drew 3 cards that I could complete on the final turn all worth D3 points each. When the dust settled I had somehow managed to scrape an 8-6 victory!

Game 5
Mission: Contact Lost Opponent: Space Wolves
Final game was against Mark and his Space Wolves army. He had a couple of units of Grey Hunters, a Dreadnought, some Terminators, Njal Stormcaller, a couple of hero types (I think they were Wolf Guard Battle Leaders), some Blood Claws, some Scouts, a Whirlwind, 2 Drop Pods, a Dreadnought, a Land Raider and a Stormfang Gunship. He put his Land Raider in cover in some ruins with one unit of Grey Hunters and a Wolf Guard inside. The Blood Claws were deployed in the open as far forward as possible. The Whirlwind was placed in the far corner away from pretty much everything except the objective it was parked on. The other unit of Grey Hunters, with Njal, went in one of the Drop Pods, the Dreadnought went in the other one. All these, plus the Terminators and Stormfang were in reserve. The Scouts infiltrated into some ruins and on top of an objective. I deployed mostly in the corner nearest the Land Raider, out of range and LOS of the Whirlwind and presenting a nice tempting target for the Drop Pod that I knew was incoming 1st turn. I left only the Warp Spiders outside of this area, deploying them in ruins near the centre of my deployment zone.

Turn One saw the arrival of the Drop Pod exactly in the area that I had ‘invited’ him into. Njal and the Grey Hunters emerged from the pod right in front of my army. The Land Raider remained in the ruins and just pivoted for a better angle to fire at my Raider. The Blood Claws surged forward into some central ruins. The psychic phase saw little of note and the shooting phase was equally uneventful due to some appalling dice rolls from Mark. Nothing was in assault range and so I took my first turn with my entire army unscathed!

One unit of Grotesques moved forward in their Raider, heading for the Land Raider. The other unit disembarked and lined up with the Dark Artisans in front of the Njal’s Grey Hunters, eager to get to grips with the enemy. The Warp Spiders moved into range of the Blood Claws and the Venom moved into a better firing position. The psychic phase saw Njal’s Grey Hunters, the Scouts and the Blood Claws subjected to Psychic Shrieks and taking several casualties each. The Shooting phase was more of the same, leaving about half of each unit dead. I then assaulted Njal’s boys with one unit of Grots and the Dark Artisans, killing all the Grey Hunters and leaving Njal and the Wolf Guard wounded with no meaningful damage taken in return.

Turn Two saw the arrival of all the Space Wolf reserves other than the Terminators. The Dreadnought’s pod arrived in the middle of the table to reinforce the Blood Claws. The Stormfang zoomed over to engage the Dark Reapers in their Venom. The psychic phase was once more uneventful as Njal was engaged in combat. Shooting was also pretty meagre. The Land Raider attempted to destroy the Raider full of Grotesques but a combination of Jink and Night Shields prevented any damage. The Dreadnought shot at the Venom, as did the Stormfang but, thanks to Jink, they managed only to inflict a single HP and leave it Shaken.

My second turn commenced with the arrival of the Fire Dragons, emerging from the Webway behind the Land Raider. The Warp Spiders jumped over towards the Whirlwind but paused briefly to take aim at the rear of the Dreadnought. The Grotesques in the second Raider disembarked and prepared to assault anything that emerged from the (hopefully) doomed Land Raider. The Farseer separated from his Windriders and moved toward the ongoing combat in order to get in range of some other unit and also claim an objective. Psychic Shrieks saw off the rest of the Blood Claws and removed several Grey Hunters. Shooting removed all but one Scout (who was hidden out of LOS) and inflicted a HP on the Stormfang. The Warp Spiders also took 2 HP off the Dreadnought before running and thrusting away towards the Whirlwind. The Fire Dragons destroyed the Land Raider and the Grots charged the newly disembarked Grey Hunters and Wolf Guard. They managed to kill most of the Grey Hunters but the survivors held firm. The other combat also managed to drag on for another turn with Njal seemingly unable to fail a save!

The missing Terminators now arrived and headed for the combat between the Grots and the Grey Hunters. The Stormfang was limited in where it could move and decided to fly off the table. The Dread headed for the Warp Spiders. Everything else was tied up in combat or, in the case of the Whirlwind, somewhat limited in target choices. The Dread prepared to shoot the Warp Spiders but I told Mark about their Flickerjump ability and he decided to charge them instead, unfortunately falling an inch short and taking its last HP off from Overwatch. The two ongoing combat finally ended and my units consolidated either towards objectives or towards the Terminators.

On my turn, the Warp Spiders jumped behind the Whirlwind, the Grots and Dark Artisans headed for the Terminators and everything else moved onto objectives or to get LOS on the last Scout. The game then basically ended with a big fight between the Terminators and everything else, whilst the Warp Spiders nuked the Whirlwind to claim that objective and the rest of the army killed the last scout. 8-3 win to the Freakshow.

Conclusions
Played 5, won 4, drew 1. Not too bad! Overall, I was very pleased with the way this list performed, especially given that I had only had 1 practise game with the full list! I dodged several bullets by not drawing any of the hard counter lists such as Knight Households, flyers etc. The list is ridiculously effective against infantry and the Grots and DA can handle most light armour. Above all else though, it was fun to play and I think most of my opponents were surprised by the way the list played. I’ll definitely keep playing Freakshows although without the perfect storm provided by the tournament rules I will have to tinker with the list a bit. I also probably won't bother with the Archangel of Pain anymore. On the two occasions that I actually remembered that I had it, I was up against entire armies of models with Fearless and/or ATSKNF. Indeed, 3 of the 5 armies I faced were of this ilk.

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Jimsolo
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PostSubject: Re: Throne of Skulls: Steel Fury Tournament Report   Wed Jul 22 2015, 05:42

Oh, man. That is so cool! I've wanted to see a Freakshow in a tournament setting for such a long time. I'm really glad you did so well! I think I'm particularly heartened to see you come up against both a Decurion and a Gladius and come out on top.

That's seriously great! Do you know what place you took overall?
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lelith
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PostSubject: Re: Throne of Skulls: Steel Fury Tournament Report   Wed Jul 22 2015, 06:02

Fun to read & helpful to make my own freakshow list. Great!

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Count Adhemar
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PostSubject: Re: Throne of Skulls: Steel Fury Tournament Report   Wed Jul 22 2015, 07:05

@Jimsolo wrote:
Oh, man.  That is so cool!  I've wanted to see a Freakshow in a tournament setting for such a long time.  I'm really glad you did so well!  I think I'm particularly heartened to see you come up against both a Decurion and a Gladius and come out on top.

That's seriously great!  Do you know what place you took overall?

Thank you. I owe a great debt to your Freakshow Tactica series for ideas on the list and some of the tactics used.

No idea where I placed if it was ranked competitively. Although I won 4 and drew 1 I didn't pick up a huge number of VPs so I doubt it would have been that high but I'm still very happy with my showing.

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Sigmaril
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PostSubject: Re: Throne of Skulls: Steel Fury Tournament Report   Tue Aug 25 2015, 12:49

Did GQ have a FAQ for this event?
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Count Adhemar
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PostSubject: Re: Throne of Skulls: Steel Fury Tournament Report   Tue Aug 25 2015, 13:10

No. There was an event pack with special rules in it but not sure why they would need a FAQ.

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