Astra Militarum Stratagems

I mused about making a post like this after my experience at Astronomi-Con.  Between this and three other tournaments, I’ve had a chance to try out most Stratagems available to Astra Militarum. Command Points (CP) are increasingly rare, so using them wisely is important. Some Stratagems some are awful, and some are great, especially in combination. I’m going to try to categorize and collect them. They are presented in what I think is best to worst.

Keep in mind that in an FAQ, you can only use each stratagem once per phase. This is especially tough on the Command Re-roll and Vengeance For Cadia!

 

GOOD

Prepared Positions – 2CP
This new one appeared in BIG FAQ 2 and I’m a big fan. It means if you go second, your whole army (except Titanic units) still in your deployment zone get the benefit of cover. I have been decimated SO many times from having the second turn, and this helps protect the second turn’s army a bit. Can still be combined with Take Cover for 1CP to add +1 to your saving throw.  Guardsmen or Conscripts are now wearing power armour for their first turn!

Command Re-Roll – 1CP
This gem from the Base Rule Book means you can re-roll any single dice for 1 CP. It still is life-saving (or life-taking depending on the circumstance). Use it to:

  • save a model from a bad grav-chute drop
  • re-roll a charge distance
  • protect against perils in the psychic phase
  • re-roll a critical armour or invulnerable save
  • get that hit or wound you desperately need

An FAQ limited this to once per phase, so need to be vigilant of when to use it each phase. I often use it to re-roll explodes for Hellhounds (if I want it to explode).

Defensive Gunners – 1CP
Your vehicle can hit on overwatch on 5’s or 6’s instead of just 6’s. Very handy to protect your tanks. In some cases, heavy weapons were hitting on 5’s anyways during your shooting phase. So, here’s a chance to shoot just as well but in your opponents turn!

Vengeance For Cadia!- 1CP
Against Chaos, all day long, every shooting phase and overwatch. You get to re-roll to hit AND WOUND against Chaos models until the end of the phase with that unit. Pairs well with Defensive Gunners for vehicles for another 1 CP.

Imperial Commander’s Armoury- 1CP/3CP
For 1CP you get an extra relic, which is always handy. Better spend points on this to get the Laurel’s of Command rather than spending 1CP per turn for Inspired Tactics. for two additional relics it costs an additional 3CP, which may not be so great.

Take Cover! – 1CP
I like this one. Any unit gets +1 to their saving throws in the opponent’s shooting phase. Vehicle get a 2+ save. Guardsmen get 4+, or 3+ if they are already in cover. It may not save a unit that’s in the line of fire, but it will force your opponent to invest more fire into that finishing that unit off.

Superior Intelligence – 1CP
Miltarium Tempestus exclusive stratagem. If an opponent sets up a unit from reinforcements within 12″ of a Militarum Tempestus infantry unit, you get an out-of-turn shooting round on that unit with -1 to hit.
I like this, but I don’t know how often you’ll be able to use it. It’s one of those you need to make sure you remember you have. You’d be out of rapid-ire range for hot-shot lasguns, but rapid-fire plasma, melta, hot-shot volley, and plasma pistols are all getting in their extra shots. Infantry only, so the Taurox prime just sits there.

FOR SELECT SITUATIONS

Insane Bravery 2CP
From the base rule book. Automatically pass a single Morale test. 2CP is rather steep, but if it means a unit doesn’t run off an objective, it may be worth it.

Fight to the death1CP
A little like Insane Bravery above, but not auto-pass for Morale. Instead, you roll a D3 instead of D6. So, if your guardsman squad lost 4 or less guys, this does result in an auto-pass.

Inspired Tactics 1CP
An Officer can make an additional order or tank order. Was great when you could CP farm back so many of these. Now, it may be wise to use sparingly.

Overlapping Fields of Fire 2CP
Cadian exclusive stratagem that adds +1 to hit a unit after it has suffered an unsaved wound. It’s for that unit you’ve nicked and really want to finish off. I like that it can negate -1 to hit shenanigans that many lists have. And it stacks with re-roll stratagems like Aerial Spotter and Vengeance for Cadia. But 2CP can be high to use more than once in a game.

Viscous Traps 1CP
Catachan exclusive stratagem. If an enemy successfully finish a charge to a Catachan unit (which could be a vehicle) wholly on or within a terrain feature, on a 4+ that unit receives D3 mortal wounds. D3 isn’t that many, but might be a nasty surprise for that Demon Prince that just charged you. Only works on one unit, so it doesn’t have then area of effect that Fire On My Position does.

Counter-Offensive – 2CP
From the base rule book. Lets you “interrupt” the flow of the fight phase and have your model fight after an enemy that charged has fought. Situational, but handy if you know you’re going to get smacked and need to hit the other unit first.

The epitome of “Drive Me Closer. I want to hit them with my sword”

Officio Prefectus Command Tank – 1CP
A Leman Russ and all units within 6″ get Leadership 9. More valuable since the nerf to Commissar’s Summary Execution. Handy if you have a Leman Russ already which you plan to wade into the fray surrounded by guardsmen. But 1CP for an auxiliary detachment and an Inquisitor gives you Leadership 10 (and probably a psyker).

Crush Them! 1CP
Astra-Militarum vehicles usually have impressive strength (S6-S7) a WS 6+ and at best 3 attacks with no AP. This stratagem lets them hit on a 2+. Beautiful on a Baneblade; kind of lackluster on anything else unless you really want to Crush something.

Mobile Command Vehicle – 1CP
The rules for transports in 8th edition nerfed them pretty hard. If a unit is in a transport, they are technically off the battlefield, and none of their special rules or auras can apply. This lets your Officer in a Chimera (not Taurox) issue orders from within the safety of a Chimera, which is nice, and boost the range of their order as if they were near a vox-caster (the target unit needs a vox-caster too). If you are spending points on Chimera’s at all, this may be used a little.

Jury Rigging – 1CP
Vehicle heals 1 wound, even without a techpriest! But can’t move, charge, or pile in (guard vehicles don’t do that often anyways). Nice for getting up a line in the damage chart if it improves your ballistic skill. Would have been nicer if it was D3 wounds.

Go! Recon! –1CP
Scout Sentinels move 2D6″ in the shooting phase, but then can’t shoot or charge. Can use it even if the sentinel advanced in the movement phase. So a sentinel could theoretically go 9+3D6″ in a turn averaging around 22″. That’s a pretty fantastic move if you want to grab an objective or something.

Aerial Spotter 2CP
A Wyvern or Basilisk can re-roll failed hit rolls in this phase. Nice effect, but a bit of a steep price for one model getting the re-rolls.

BAD and UGLY

Grenadiers – 1CP
Your whole infantry unit can use grenades during shooting or overwatch. I’ve used this on overwatch a few times and it’s really disappointing. Each model gets D6 shots, that still only hit on 6’s. And it’s equal in punch to a lasgun. Might as well save your CP and take 2 shots per model with the lasgun.
Similarly, on offence, you’ll average about 3 shots per model. Rank Fire at that range gives you 4! Save your CP for something else.

Fire On My Position – 3CP
If a slain unit had a vox-caster, on a 4+ you can rain down D6 mortal wounds for each unit 3″ away. Unless there’s a cluster of 4 ore more units within 3″ your unit which died, you won’t get much out of this. And 3CP is asking a lot!

Preliminary Bombardment – 2CP
I have found this one very underwhelming. Statistically, I should get a wound once on every 6 units… doesn’t usually work out that way. I’m lucky to get even 1-2 mortal wounds from this whole Stratagem.

Consolidate Squads 1CP
I feel like this is a trap. Consolidating squads is nice for orders to go further, but it also means that “battleshock” in the morale phase will be more painful. The meta right now is for multiple small units, and this goes the opposite direction.

NEVER USED, PROBABLY NEVER WILL

Vortex Missile – 3CP
I don’t have any Deathstrikes, and so have never used this. But 3CP seems pretty steep.

What did you think of this list? Should some be higher? Lower?

Astronomi-Con 2018 Debrief and Lessons Learned

I attended Astronomi-con for the first time in September, and I don’t know why I haven’t been going for years!

It’s definitely a different kind of event in ALL the best ways. I understand why people go to tournaments to WAAC (win at all costs), but I think Warhammer is more fun when it’s narrative and trying to tell a story. And I think that’s the real joy of the hobby that Mike and Christian have been able to distill into this event.

Mike and Christian: The heros that brought us Astronomi-con!

I finished the tournament with 2 ties, 1 win, and 2 losses. No awards for me, but as my first time, I think I’m pretty happy. I expected a narrative event, but people still brought lists that were TOUGH and POWERFUL. I suppose you don’t want people taking it easy on you.

I plan on writing battle reports for many (if not all) of the 5 battles. But this may be a good summary for the whole thing.

I should note that BIG FAQ 2 dropped the day before this tournament, nerfing the FAQ farm that Astra Militarum used to enjoy so much. I quickly switched out my Warlord’s relic, but I definitely felt the lack of CP.

ARMY LIST

I was going to write a fluff piece about how this Cadian regement (the 77th) “liberated” a planet, but had no Cadia to return home to. So, they took this abandoned garage as their new home.
And really, I wanted to cram as many vehicles as possible into a list because I like them, and they’re hard to kill.
I used the special Astronimi-con “narrative detachment” (2-3 hq, 4-5 troops, 1-2 Elites, 1-2 fast, 1-2 heavy, 0-1 flyers) for +10 CP.
My 90 Power Level army for Astronomi-con 2018 and my “award winning” display board
My army for all five games was the following 90 power list.
“Sophie’s Garage” Narrative Detachment. Cadian doctrine.
HQ
  • Company Commander with Boltgun, Grand Strategist, and Relic of Lost Cadia (Warlord)
  • Knight Commander Pask in Executioner Leman Russ with Plasma Sponsors, Lascannon, Hunter-Killer Missile, Storm Bolter and track guards
TROOPS
  • 2x Infantry Squad with Vox-caster, plasma, Lascannon, and boltgun for sergerant
  • 2x Infantry Squad with Vox-caster, plasma, and plasma pistol and power sword for sergeant
ELITES
  • ministorum priest with laspistol and chainword
  • 3x bullgryns with Slabshield and bullgryn maul
FAST ATTACK
  • 2x hellhounds with heavy bolter, storm bolter, Hunter-Killer Missile and track guards
  • 1x hellhound with heavy bolter, storm bolter
HEAVY SUPPORT
  • 2x basilisks with heavy bolter, and Hunter-Killer Missile
  • wyvern with heavy bolter, and Hunter-Killer Missile
FLYER
  • -Valkyrie with Lascannon, Multiple Rocket Pods, and 2x Heavy bolters
DEDICATED TRANSPORT
  • 2x taurox with 2x autocannons and storm bolter

The Bullgryns and Priest were in the Valkyrie and used the tactic that is apparently called the “Bullgryn bomb.” The Valkyrie can move up to 40″, and then the transported units inside can disembark at any point of the movement path, as long as they are 9″ away from an enemy. Then, it’s a regular disembarkation, so the troops inside can move their usual 6″. So, these 3 big angry bullgryns wind up 3″ away from a priority target on turn 1. They really do hit like an avalanche of muscle, with 3 attacks each (4 on the bone ‘ead), +1 attack each on the charge, +1 attack each from the priest = 16 S7 attacks, hitting on 3+, -1 AP,  2D each!

 

LESSONS LEARNED

Many things I learned during this tournament:

Hellhounds are THE BOMB! Literally and figuratively. The 2D6 auto-hits are a wonderful trick. There are so many things that reduce the already pitiful accuracy of guardsmen so having something automatically hit is lovely. Especially with overwatch!

I even took out a flyer, with flamethrowers! Does’t sound right, but given how the hitting mechanics works, this is how to do it.

And then, when they run out of wounds, they explode on a 4+. I think I did more damage with my hellhounds on my opponents turns with overwatch and explosions. I literally used that tactic on purpose in my 4th game, driving a hellhound into the middle of his rush and expecting him to blow it up, only to have the bomb decimate all the nearby units.

I’m going to bring 3 hellhounds with EVERY list I make from now on. Perhaps the only thing is that I would try to use Catachan doctrine to re-roll a random dice; the Cadian doctrine, though nice, didn’t synergize well with the aggressive nature of the hellhounds.

The aforementioned Bullgryn Bomb worked well, but doesn’t last long. Even with a 2+, at T5 they go down a lot faster than my tanks. I may substitute an additional Bullgryn for the priest in future lists; I’d have the same number of attacks. Or do a Crusader bomb instead and buff them with a priest and psyker to give them 2++. Crusaders are only S3, but 30 attacks at AP-3, re-rollable 3+ to hit will make a dent, and probably be more survivable.

The Valkyrie in my bullgryn bomb was a bit of a let-down after it dropped it’s troops. The Multiple Rocket Pod was a big let-down. I should have stuck with the hellfire missiles, which are cheaper. The heavy bolters achieved nothing the entire tournament. Lesson, keep the Valkrie cheap.

Indirect fire artillery is awesome! My two Basilisks were wonderful for beating up on whatever target I wanted, from anywhere on the board, no line-of-sight required. I have a model for a 3rd Basikisk I should built and paint soon. The Wyvern was great at erasing infantry units too, but not as good as hellhounds. The thing I need to continue doing is to keep these artillery protected in the back behind layers and layers of the rest of my army.
The Cadian doctrine was good, but mathhammer says Catachan is slightly better; and MUCH better if I plant Sergeant Harker nearby.

Knight Commander Pask is a MONSTER! I can honestly say that about half the damage I caused through the tournament was from this one model. Some of my opponents knew that right off the bat and aimed to remove him quickly. He’s SUPER expensive, but ridiculously damaging, even on overwatch. If I bring him again, I need to keep layers of bubble wrap to protect him.

The Taurox’s were good… not great. The beauty of the Tauroxes is that they’re cheap; only 4 PL. In points, would I rather have two Tauroxes, or a Leman Russ?

Their autocannons did a whole lot of nothing. Hitting on 5+ when they move doesn’t help. The storm bolters ironically forced more armour saves. It’s nice that they protect my squishy troops from first round massacres. And T6 3+ with 10 wounds is a pretty good bargain for 4 PL.

In power level games, all the upgrades are free, so I should continue to abuse that. Hunter-Killer missiles for everything. Track guards wherever I can find them. A put Augur Arrays on my list, but never used them. I should even include dozer blades to improve the ramming accuracy for my tanks (hits on 5+ instead of 6+).

 

Now that I have a feel for the zany Astronomi-con scenarios, I would probably want more “shenanigans” that can more around quickly and/or deep strike. I’m thinking Sly Marbo and/or Scions. Many narrative objectives required the Warlord to kill something, sometimes in close combat, but my warlord was equipped for hiding in a corner shouting orders. Maybe I should finish that Celestine model I’ve had for a while. She can easily move 24″ in a turn, and would buff my guard with a 6++.

And, I need to use Command Points (CP’s) more carefully, or generate more, or both. I wasted a lot of CP’s on useless strategems. I may write a blog post about which CP’s are worth it, and which COMBOS work really well.

And it is worthwhile to generate CP’s cheaply. I think a battalion of Scions should be a go-to for every list I do now. A Tempestor prime, Primaris Psyker, and three scion squads is just 14 PL for 5CP!

 

All in all, I loved ASTRO, and want to register for next year already! I’m even thinking of new ideas for my display board and narrative things to get more points in those categories.

My Display Board “Sophie’s Garage”

This is my first post in a LONG time, but I think it was time to dust off this old blog. And I felt this was definitely worth sharing: My display board won two awards at my local Armies On Parade.

 

DISPLAY BOARD HISTORY

The story for this display board starts at my first tournament over two years ago. I showed up to my first tournament with no display board at all. At that tournament, I displayed my army in the plastic tub I brought it in.  I didn’t even know that display boards were at thing!

My “display board” from my first tournament in 2016

In 2017, I also attended the same Lords of War Tournament again: The 40k Classic. I had idea of using a a tool holder as some sort of castle. The castle was well-received.  I used the “game mat” from the 8th edition “First Strike” starter kit , and although it served is purpose, it was bit of a “cop out”. The castle had a digital photo frame that played “Imperial propaganda”, but someone said seeing the buttons broke the suspension of disbelief. And someone suggested the “castle” needed more detail.

My “display board” circa 2017.

BUILDING MY 2018 DISPLAY BOARD

The highlight of my 2018 was going to be the Astronomi-con event.  I liked that it emphasized the hobby elements rather than just competitive tournament play. The event had a lot of points for narrative and display, and thus, I needed to get going on a display board.

I started with this early prototype for a display board that folded into a case, and gave height.

Prototype for my 2018 display board

I enjoy playing with a lot of tanks, so I wanted my display board to have roads. My first thought was to have some sort of tunnel on the lower level. The lower level later became a garage, which seemed vehicle appropriate.

The prototype also had a sort of bridge, but that didn’t make it into the final design.

A lot of display boards are made from styrofoam, but I didn’t have a foam cutter, and I was told that spray paints would dissolve foam. And since I’m much more familiar with wood, I started with a big slap of 1/2″ thick MDF. I cut the pieces in the store using the circular saw, but my calculations didn’t account for the thickness. So I had to do some rougher cuts with a handsaw.

Assembled display board base

There was another piece I made to extend the lower level.

The board had hinges I took off of a dollar store box. The top was meant to fold over for nice transport. But, because of my imprecise cuts, it didn’t fit quite well. I later filled in the gaps in the build with wood filler.

The display board in its closed state. I later fixed the imperfections in the fitting with wood filler.

With the base built, it was time to start decorating and adding the theme. I added cork board as the roads. They have a kind of texture that already simulates asphalt. I made the “sidewalks” with plasticard, and then used a spray paint for the even texture. I did a thick coat of paint over the cork boards.

Painting the display board.

The MDF wood looked kind of cheap. I decided to try to stain the wood. I had NEVER done this before, but found that it produced a wonderfully rich-looking effect. It was a messy process, and I’m glad I wore gloves! And, the wood filler I used to cover the imperfections made it look like it was meant to be.

After adding a gel-coat stain. I think it looks really rich now!

As some of my readers know, I like to add a lot of electronics to my tanks. I wanted my display board to have some too. This board was going to feature a lot of lights. I also wanted the option to power it from a plug, which was a first for me. And, I added a fuse for the first time, because I didn’t want this board to catch on fire if I did something wrong.

Last thing to do was dress it up. I printed some photos of “diamond steel” for the floors of the garage. And then printed A LOT of “Imperial Propaganda” photos I found on the internet. I scaled them to guardsman size, and put them all over the board. The posters probably got a lot of attention at a recent tournament I went to. There was a sticker of Saint Celestine in a chibi-style by The Great Geraldo. And, I added some graffiti touches that were kind of meta-meme worthy like “Cadian Stands” and “Rowboat Girlyman”.

Propaganda posters abound!

So, why is it called Sophie’s Garage? The garage part should be obvious. And Sophie is what my wife and I are going to name our first daughter, who’s due in about a month.

Sophie’s Garage sign. And yes, that’s the 40th Birthday Grombrindal in the window brandishing a beer

Even though the model has nothing to do with the army, I really liked the work I did  on the 40th birthday White Dwarf Model (Grombrindal), so he seemed to make a nice cameo behind the glass.

When I was preparing my board a couple of nights before Armies On Parade, my wife noted that it looked kind of like a military parade for a fascist dictatorship. I thought that seemed thematically rather appropriate, considering that Warhammer 40k’s Imperium of Man could be considered quite dystopian.

Experimenting with the layout of models on my display board a few days before Armies On Parade

At the last minute, I printed out a couple of slips of paper that said: “Push the buttons. They light up and make sounds!” I think that may have been one of the most important additions, because people were apparently really impressed that my tanks had electronics in them.

I submitted my display board featuring A LOT of tanks to the Armies On Parade event at my local Games Workshop location at Heartland Town Centre.  My wife helped me set it up, and I liked the layout even more.

My display board as presented at Armies On Parade 2018

 

There were a lot of great entries. I was proud that I won two certificates:

  • MONSTERS AND MACHINES
  • BEST THEMED ARMY
With my wife and my display board after winning in the “Monsters and Machines” and “Best Themed Entry” categories of Armies on Parade 2018 at Games Workshop Heartland Town Centre

There were some really good entries, so I’m not surprised I didn’t win a medal. But winning two categories made me feel pretty happy with my work.

Winners from Armies on Parade 2018 at Games Workshop Heartland Town Centre

 

Only one year until the next Armies On Parade. Should I just tune up my board a little? Or something completely new?

I know my painting will probably never rival that of really good players; I need to keep with my strengths of electronics and tricks. Perhaps a board with a water feature? Like real water with a waterfall and an electronic water pump? And steam? And better use of the LED’s?