Shadow Sentinels vs Death Guard & 40k list evaluation

Continuing with dipping the toe back into 40k, I was due to have my final competition game on the 3rd but my opponent had to pull out last minute due to the dreaded Nurgles rot. Thankfully I was able to find another opponent at short notice and one i’d not played before (not difficult with 40k as i’ve barely played anyone at it at the club). Stephen bought a Death Guard list, not at all tournament optimised as he knew my experience level at the game. Long story short, this meant that we had 2 fairly balanced lists, I played an army that I hadn’t before (and wasn’t loyalist marines – yea!), we both had some shocking turns of dice rolling, interspersed with good turns and it was the best game of 40k I’d had to date. It helped that he was a total gent and prompted me with some of the rules where needed.

I must say I’ve come to really quite like the secondary missions and although the primaries are a bit samey, it does make a game where it isn’t just about killing. I think the final score was something like 74-53. I actually outscored him on the secondaries, he just did enough on the primaries to win it.

The fact that I’m actually planning another game in the new year outside of the competition shows how much I enjoyed the last game. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a patch on my beloved fantasy but it shows i’ve quite enjoyed this edition).

Below are a few shots of the game. I bought my ‘noob’ league list, so was Dreadnought heavy (as usual).

Crusade of the Stalking Tiger – 2,000 pts

With the competition now effectively over, I thought I’d capture some thoughts about my list, chapter and unit choices. This will in no way be any kind of expert analysis, just my thoughts on what has worked, what i’d change and where i’m unsure on things.

I’ll start by saying that i’m really liking the Imperial Fist rules. I’m glad that I chose to use the successors of the chapter rules (though having yellow Imp’ Fist’s would be better). Imp’ fists may apparently be almost bottom of the marine pile in tournaments but the ignore cover (so enemy units in cover don’t get +1 to their save) and exploding bolter shots on 6’s are both fun rules. The super doctrine rule (+1 dmg on Str 7 weapons in Dev doctrine) is good, if situational as you only get it on the first turn.

Characters

Stark is the Void – Primaris Chaplain on Bike – Warlord and Master of Sanctity – 140pts

I paid the points to make him the Master of Sanctity (head chaplain of the chapter). He was also given the warlord trait ‘wise orator’. Together, these allowed him to cast his litanies (his abilities to boost those nearby) on a 2+ and allowed him to cast 2 of the 3 I’ve chosen for him.

The litanies I went with were: rerolls to melee hits (all Chaplains get this), +1 to his attacks, Strength and weapon damage (self buff) and +2 to charge distances (aura ability).

The first 2 I think i’d always take when fielding the Chaplain on bike. I may well drop the last one and instead take the Recitation of focus, adding 1 to ranged hit rolls for one unit. This could help with any alpha strike from any suppressors or devastators, especially in the early turns when nothing is in charge range.

The relic I took was the Benediction of Fury, an improved melee weapon that gives additional damage and armour penetration. Combined with his self buffing litany, he could potentially be quite a beat stick.

I’d also spent a command point for the Sentinels of Terra stratagem. This allows him to take an additional Imperial Fists warlord trait. This was Hand of Dorn and it gives you D3 additional command points. At the least it will refund back the command point spent to take it or it will give 1 or 2 bonus CP. This trait is excellent and i’ve not yet, not gained additional CP from it. However, going forward, I would be more inclined to take it on a support character such as the techmarine.

As such the warlord traits i’m leaning towards are either, the Imperial fist one: Indomitable – This means the warlord will never be wounded on better than a 4+. It’s basically a permanent transhuman. Combined with his T5 and boosted wounds from being on the bike, will make him a much tougher target.

The other is the standard space marine one: The imperium’s sword. This allows him to re-roll charge rolls for himself and on a successful charge or heroic intervention, adds +1 to his attacks and str. When combined with his relic weapon and the self buff litany, on the charge he would get: 7 str 8 attacks, each hitting at AP -2 with 4 damage each (and unmodified 6’s to wound causing mortal wounds! There is something quite appealing about that (though in looking into this option, i’d have to drop Wise Orator to take it and i’m not sure i’d want to do that).

Overall, I enjoy running a chaplain. He didn’t always do much but that was in part down to my use of him. I would likely keep using one as my warlord (mainly down to fluff reasons as I love the idea of them) but I might try out a Terminator version or jump pack rather than the bike one.

Red Runs the Flesh – Primaris Techmarine – Master of the Forge – 100pts

This chap had one job, to heal and buff the dreads. Specifically he babysat the Redemptor as that was the only one with a degrading profile. His ability to heal a straight 3 wounds was well worth the upgrade cost and made a huge difference in most of the games. Also giving redemptor +1 to all its ranged attacks rolls was superb.

I spent 2 additional CP on stratagems for him. The 1st, Hero of the Chapter, gaves him a Warlord trait. In this instance, Rites of War, which allowed a Dreadnought within 6” to get objective secured. This didn’t come into play in any of the games and so, as mentioned above, I would in the future, possibly give him the Hand of Dorn trait. The 2nd was for a relic: Auric Aquila. This gave him a 4++ invulnerable save and the ability to ignore mortal wounds on a 5+, boosting his survivability. Again, this didn’t come into play at all and so I’d consider either not giving him anything, or perhaps giving him something like the eye of hypnoth to allow re-roll of 1’s to wound for core units (such as the nearby dreads!).

Either way – he is a 1+ in my list if taking dreads.

Troop Choices

Moons Rise Together 8 Primaris Intercessors – Autobolt rifles – 160pts

The intercessor squad was generally pretty good. It was a target in most of the games and if I were to change anything, it would likely to be, to try and boost it to a 10 man unit (to maximise strat’s used on it) and I would also drop the assault bolters and have standard ones. They would then lose the assault (3) shots dropping to Rapid fire 2, but in every game I’ve so far played, the -1 to armour you’d gain, would have been more useful.

The Blade is Poised – 5 Assault Intercessors – 95pts

Silent in the Cloud – 5 Assault Intercessors – 95pts

These were fine. They didn’t do a huge amount in most of the games and so if I had the models I might replace them with standard intercessors or perhaps I might try running some some tactical squads with heavy weapons. They were basically used as objective holders/screens so their cheapness worked fine (the -1AP from their bolt pistols/chainswords is a plus point too)

The Mask Removed – Contemptor Dreadnought – 150pts

Out of all the dreads in my list, I really struggled to make good use of this one. I think the issue is the Kheres assault cannon. It may get a boosted S7 shot but it only has 6 shots at -1 AP and 1 damage. It it a bit lacklustre, especially when you look at the volume of fire the Redemptor puts out. What I did probably forget though, is it falls under the IF super doctrine so would be damage 2 and AP -2 while in devastator doctrine on the first turn.

Apart from as another dread in the list (and it also being one of my favourite models, as I use the alpha legion forge world one), I’ve not used this effectively so far. I’m actually thinking its best use might be on a flank as a distraction carnifex. It’s combat weapon is actually pretty good (str 7, -3 AP and 3 damage as standard), so moving up shooting and getting into combat as soon as possible might be the best way to use it.

The Emperor Draws Breath – Redemptor Dreadnought – 180pts

The Redemptor is built for dakka, with both Gatling cannons taken and I also took stormbolters, as I prefer the range and consistent shots these provide. Combined with the techmarine, this thing did very well, pumping out shots and always being a threat.

The Pillar Endures – Venerable Dreadnought – 155pts

This dread worked out quite well. The 6++ additional save against wounds didn’t come into play very much but ranged shots hitting on a 2+ made the most of the missile launcher and twin las cannon. Combined with the strat that effectively makes it a captain (allowing re-rolls of hit rolls of 1), makes it a great anchor for your firebase.

The Ground Trembles – Ironclad Dreadnought – 145pts

The Mountain Comes – Ironclad Dreadnought – 140pts

The Ironclad is hands down my favourite Dreadnought design of all time. I think it’s the even more bulky structure of this, over the other boxanoughts, combined with being able to festoon it with giant missiles. You can also fit it with a giant chainfist, quite possibly the coolest melee weapon in 40K.

So it will be of no surprise to learn that both of mine had chainfists with underslung melta guns. The other arms have been given Hurricane bolters. 6 bolt guns stuck together that fire 12 shots if under half range. Perhaps not the best option but it fits in with the army fluff and rules. One of them had been given a hunter killer, one use, anti-tank missile, as I had a spare 5pts.

These things were probably the stand out dreadnoughts. Their toughness 8 made them very difficult to shift and the chainfist minced things in combat. The hurricane was so so. I’m tempted to run them with the duel combat weapons to give re-rolls of 1’s to hit and even to try out one with the siesmic hammer, as even with -1 to hit (so hitting on 4’s), a flat 5 damage is just brutal. If the Chaplain were supporting them and allowing full rerolls to hit on the hammer one, that would make it just nasty! I do however like the versatility of having the hurricane bolter.

These 2 are definitely staying in the list, though i’ll be playing around with their loadouts.

The Tranquil Garden – 10 Sternguard – 200pts

Stat wise these are the same as Primaris Marines but where they differ is coming with Special Issue bolt guns. These give -2 to armour when shot. I like these guys a lot and always have. Every game i’ve deployed them in the drop pod and they’ve pretty much come in on the first turn. Their effectiveness has been pretty hit or miss, partly down to my choice of targets and also because most of my opponents have had to turn round and dedicate a chuck of their firepower to removing them. This is turn is still not a bad thing as they are obviously a big enough threat that no one wants them in the backfield.

They also allow me to effectively utilise the secondary mission, behind enemy lines and with the drop pod, allows me to maximise the points for that.

Swift Strikes the Thunder – 3 Inceptors – 120pts

I’ve grow to really like these models. Convention has them running with plasma weapons but I always run the bolter variant as mine are built that way (coming in the 8th ed box) and it fits in with the IF tactics. Three of them pump out 18 Str 5 bolter shots at -1 AP and they are tough to boot. They also provide tactical flexibility as can deep strike (so can help with behind enemy lines if required).

I’ve found them to be great at dropping in to remove small enemy units sitting on objectives. They have fast become an almost auto include in my lists.

The Horns Pierce – 3 Suppressors – 100pts

These were a unit I wasn’t sure about but I found them to be really good. Their range, weapon str and damage 2 (3 on the first turn), always made them a threat. They are also relatively cheap. A definite option for fielding again.

Heavy Sounds the Call – 5 Devastators, 4 Lascannons – 150pts

I quite enjoyed using the devastators. The Lascannons could be quite ‘swingy’ with their D6 damage but I needed something to back up the vulnerable dread to threaten armour/ other things. In general they did really well in that role, taking down redemptor dreads and multiple terminators with relative ease. Their range meant they could sit in the backfield without being too exposed. They are a unit that could benefit more from buffs and having the vulnerable dread near them would definitely help.

Glides through the Rain – Drop Pod – 70pts

This was taken primarily as a delivery vehicle for the sternguard. I always took it with them in it and together, they allowed me to claim maximum points for behind enemy lines when they came down. I’m not entirely sure it’s worth the points but it’s such an iconic model that I love taking it.

So what next?

I think i’m pretty happy with the core of what i’m taking. I am going to try a few of the tweaks mentioned above to my list for my next game, namely:

  1. Swopping one chaplain litany to the Recitation of focus (add +1 to hit rolls)
  2. Giving the chaplain the 2nd warlord trait indomitable (so he can only be wounded on a 4+)
  3. Giving the Techmarine the Hand of Dorn warlord trait and Eye of Hypnoth relic.
  4. Intercessor squad have the standard Bolt Rifles
  5. One Ironclad drops the hunter killer missile and chainfist for a seismic hammer
  6. The Redemptor gains the icarus missile pod.

The changes to the chaplain litanies and techmarine relic should really help the first turn shooting and make the most of the Imp Fists super doctrine. Dropping the hunter missile and instead giving the redemptor the missile pod also works to boost shooting as the hunter is one use for 5pts whereas the icarus is D3 shots per turn. It will also hit on a 2+ rather than 3+ (due to the techmarine) and although it’s lower str (7 vs 10), it still qualifies for the super doctrine.

The other changes should also make the relevant units more of a threat (either in combat or shooting).

One thing that did crop up in the last game was that I had no defence vs mortal wounds. Rather than take a librarian, i’d be more inclined to fit in a Culexus Assassin as he deducts 2 from any psychic tests made within 18″, making them harder to cast in the first place. In the current list, he’d probably have to replace the contemptor dread. This would also free up an additional 50pts to be spent (likely on boosting the intercessor squad and adding a few extras to units.

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