The anatomy of cheese: Or how I learned to stop worrying and play a tournament list

A couple of months ago, I decided to take the plunge and register for a tournament at the Spielbar in Trier, despite expecting nothing but getting thoroughly beaten up and having a horrible time with rules lawyering and facing more Flyers than you can shake a stick at. But hey, that’s what you do to get out of the house every once in a while.

Unfortunately, the event is on the same day as Make War Not Love, the casual event in Nommern, so I decided that two days of fun are better than half a day and dropped out of the tournament. Nevertheless, I had already planned and written my army list andas I know some of the other people who regularly play in the events at the Spielbar, so when one of them, Simon Elsen (who is a disgustingly good painter and won the German Armies on Parade event in 2013) asked me for a game, I said yes.

I am going to spare you the details of the game itself as he played an experimental Tyranids list that used some of the formations from the second Nid dataslate, the one using 3 FMCs and 3 units of Gargoyles, making all Gargoyles scoring and non-contestable, as well as being able to recycle Gargoyle units and the Endless Swarm one that recycles Gaunts on a 4+. Although this looks good on paper, 1850 points are not enough to include all these units (he had 9 10-strong units of Gaunt/Gargoyle genus guys and 3 FMCs to pay for before filling a single slot in his Force Organisation Chart) and he ended up having a ton of minimum strength units that I swept away quite handily. I have to say though that he was a true Scholar and Gentleman and that this game has allayed my fears of playing in a tournament context, at least regarding player behaviour. We had some rules discussions, but they were all dealt with easily and politely and we both enjoyed the game, despite the lists we ran.

 

I would rather offer you a look at my list, as I believe it is a good example of what a true Win At All Costs tournament list is. You might consider it an example of what is overpowered to put other stuff into perspective. A word of warning for the fluff bunnies among you, this list puts the fluff  in a potato bag and then beats it up with a baseball bat. I was running Eldar with Dark Eldar allies, or as the tournament pros call it, the SeerStar.

Farseer on Jetbike: Warlord

Farseer on Jetbike

Between them, they have 6 Psychic Powers and try to roll on the Runes of Battle chart until one of them generates Fortune to let the whole unit reroll all failed saving throws (armour, cover and invulnerable) as well as Deny the Witch (which is usually a 4+ as they are Mastery Level 3 psykers, which is rare outside of Chaos). The rest of the rolls is spent getting as many instances of Guide and Prescience as possible to grant their units or other units rerolls to hit. Usually, you end up with 3-4 units that can reroll their shots or even all their attacks per round.

5 Warlocks on Jetbike: These guys from the bodyguard for the two Farseers. They roll on the Runes of Battle chart and usually either take Conceal/Reveal (all Runes of Battle powers can either be used as a Blessing on the psyker’s unit or a Malediction on a unit in 18 inches, chosen when you cast it), granting or removing Shrouded, Protect/Jinx, granting or removing 1 point of armour save, Destructor/Renew, acting as a Heavy Flamer or healing a wound, or Embolden/Horrify, granting Fearless or giving -3 Leadership. As they are on Jetbikes and wearing Rune Armour, like the Farseers, the entire unit has a 3+ armour save and a 4+ invulnerable save, as well as 5+ cover as soon as the unit moves an Inch and a potential 48 inch move per round. Not scary enough yet? Then consider this: Protect raises your armour to 2+ and Conceal raises your cover save to 3+. Fortune lets you reroll of these saves too. All of them are armed with Witchblades and Shuriken Pistols, giving you 14 (7*2) attacks that reroll to hit and always wound on a 2+ or hit vehicles with 3+2d6 or 4+2d6 if you roll up the +1/-1 Strength power. Meaning you have a unit that is tough as nails, but without much in the way of offensive output, all their attacks being AP-. It can kill off monsters and tanks pretty fast, but it is kind of embarassing to see it stuck for 4 rounds trying to kill a Tactical Squad that costs a fraction of their points.

But now comes the cheesy part that you should never, ever unleash on any of your friends unless you wish to lose them forever. Enter the Baron…

Baron Sathonyx: Imagine a character that gives his entire unit Hit and Run and Stealth, thus boosting the council to a 2+ cover save once they move and keeping them from being held up by lesser troops when they should be zooming around killing off enemy elites. How much would you pay for that? Now imagine the guy would also give you defensive grenades and more importantly the assault grenades that Eldar somehow forgot to give their psykers, because they could obviously not foresee their enemy sitting behind a wall? Not convinced yet? Imagine the guy also had S6-7 attacks on the charge and made you fearless once you killed 3 enemy units. Want more? How about a 2+ invulnerable save until he fails one, of course benefitting from Fortune to reroll it as he is a Battle Brother for Eldar and in the council when you cast Fortune on it? Still saying: ‘I need a bit more to be convinced’? How about a cool +1 to the roll who sets up first and thus starts the game, raising your odds of beginning from 50-50 to 60-40, which also reduces the odds of the Council being hit on the critical first turn before all its powers can come online (a bonus that he gets because he carries the bones of a dead Farseer with him, but how cares about that)? And how much would you pay for that? Regardless of how much you would be willing to pay for that, I am sure none of you offered less than GW, who give you all this power for a mere 105 points.

So this is the dreaded SeerStar explained in detail. In essence, you have a 12″ move unit that has rerollable 2+ armour, invulnerable and cover saves as the Baron is in front to tank wounds, always wounds on a 2+ and can slingshot 3d6 out of combat at the end of the enemy turn in a direction of your choice. In the worst case, it just ties up the enemy’s best unit for a turn until the other threads are dealt with, then leaves them behind to get shot to bits before charging the survivors again. In the usual case, due to all these rerolls, it will just casually flit from unit to unit and murderate everything it sees. But still, you could fail a Psychic test and lose your rerolls, right? And how are you going to deal with Flying Monstrous Creatures if you only have poking sticks to hit them? Those might be problems.

Well, not if you have Phil Kelly on your side. As you run the Baron, you also need at least one Dark Eldar Troops choice and maybe even want to run 2. Enter the Council’s trusty assistants.

5 Kabalite Warriors: Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons and Grisly Trophies. The Warriors have 5-10 Poisoned 4+ shots that let you hurt Monsters of all sorts and cause those important Grounding checks. The Venom even has 12 Poisoned 4+ shots so it can also do some harm, especially if Guided. But the real pièce de resistance are the Grisly Trophies. All friendly units in 6 inches of one of those rerolls all failed Leadership tests. Eldar are Battle Brothers and thus friendly units. Psychic tests are Leadership tests. Phil Kelly really likes Eldar.

 

At this point you have your uber unit of doom, 2 mobile scoring units and not actually spent that many points, only about 800 or so. So now we add some more scoring units by getting 2 times 3 Windriders on Jetbikes. Scorers with a 48″ movement because why not.

We still worry about Flyers and Transports, so we get 2 Wave Serpents with Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon and Holo-Field to have a unit that shoots 7 S6 and 1d6+1 S7 twin-linked shots to kill Rhinos or blow Harpies from the skies. Oh, and 5 Dire Avengers in each one to jump out on turn 5 and take objectives or gun down the last two survivors.

Season with some Swooping Hawks to drop grenades on people’s heads or clamp haywire grenades on Land Raiders and a big unit of Warp Spiders to kill even more Rhinos and monsters. Finish off with a Fire Prism to blow up Bastions hiding Venomthropes or AV14 tanks and a Ravager with 9 S5 AP2 shots to drop the last flyer or Terminators.

 

This is a runthrough of how SeerStar works and why it is such a powerful army. It has all the tools it needs to deal with transports, Flyers, elite units and monsters, as well as having 6 mobile scoring units that are surprisingly tough to bring down, as well as one of the best if not the best unit in all of 40k with the Council on Jetbikes.

 

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4 thoughts on “The anatomy of cheese: Or how I learned to stop worrying and play a tournament list

  1. The mirror?

    Praying you get first turn and have enough guns to kill them before they energize?

    Space Wolves Rune Priests might be able to disrupt their powers, but they typically either hide in small Drop Pod or Razorback units that you can kill in one go or in a Guard blob that is slow enough to be avoided.

    The new Nids with their Shadow in the Warp can also do it, though the Baron’s Hit and Run lets you redeploy at the end of their turn to a place where they are more than 12 inches away before casting blessings before your movement. At least that’s what I managed to do against 4 Synapse units, one of which flew.

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