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  • Andy Salkeld

Goonhammer Open Tournament Preparation

Following on from my tournament report last week, I wanted to do something a little different ahead of the Goonhammer Open this coming weekend.

The Introduction

I have been practicing for Goonhammer Open for the past 4 months. I’ve only played the following 6 missions for 4 months. Before the map pack was released, I practiced on the old Goonhammer terrain layout (‘21 Season) and have spent the last 3 weeks since the map pack dropped playing on the new terrain layout.

I have played between 1 and 3 games each weekend culminating in about 20 to 30 games of preparation in this style. I have practiced into most armies that my playgroup has access to and have spectated a similar 20 to 30 games that occurred alongside my games, passively learning from them.

Since Warzone Nachmund dropped I have exclusively played Bloody Rose Sisters.

Until the Balance Data Slate, I ran a pure MSU list without Vahl as it was the only way to survive indirect fire and face into Custodes. Post Balance Data Slate, Vahl came back in and the Sacrescants were dropped. I emphasised AP-4 through Repentia, Zephyrim and Retributors to counter other Armour of Contempt armies.

I’m writing this in advance of the Goonhammer Open on Tuesday 24 May so that I can outline my thoughts before the event, what my strategy is going into each mission and how I intend to play each game before I know my opponent and their army. Obviously things will change in the moment, but I will try to cover that in the post-Goonhammer tournament report. This will allow me to compare back to these notes so that I can learn something myself, whilst also hopefully providing you readers with a little bit of additional insight into the difference between strategy (long term, prepared and thought through in advance) and tactics (short term, adaptive and survival focused).

Despite my practice and my recent success at the Dice & Bolter RTT (2nd place) I am not expecting to do well. My aim it achieve 1 win out of 6 games. My ambition is to win 3 games of 6 games. I’m setting the bar low so that I can focus on enjoying the game and the experience as it will be my first large Warhammer 40k event.

From reviewing all the lists of other competitors at the event, the metagame is largely Tau, Tyranids, Craftworld and Armour of Contempt armies, with a few Knights players. I am the only registered Sisters player (army list at the bottom of this post).

The Overview

I’ve done my best to match the terrain images provided by Goonhammer to the mission layouts provided in the Nachmund Mission pack. Things look a little out of proportion but broadly they seem to work. I’ve not seen the actual terrain that will be used (VT Terrain) but we’ve been told that ground floor is windows closed in all instances, favouring combat armies that want to stage (like Sisters).

On each mission map I’ve placed 5-6 objects and arrows to denote the following parts of my army:

Purple Circle: Retributors + Hospitaler

Red Circle: Repentia + Repentia Superior + Dogmata

Blue Circle: Random Other Stuff

Red Rectangle: Rhino + Novitiate/Repentia/Other Stuff

Dark Blue Rectangle: Castigator

The associated arrows represent movement (solid lines) and firing lines (dashed lines).

I’ve tried to show how I would deploy and play the game in a standard situation. Most of these will change depending on the speed, durability and lethality of my opponent’s army and what counter-pieces I have to their deployment.

Hopefully this gives you a bit of insight on the level of practice I’ve put in ahead of the tournament.

Tide of Conviction

This mission heavily favours going second. If you go first you need to be incredibly aggressive to be able to deny your opponent primary to make up the deficit you will be in at the end of the game.

My broad plan is to keep the Retributors, Vahl and the Castigator central to focus firing lines onto my objectives and to threaten my opponents. I am going to set up to use Carry Forth the Faithful to send a Rhino with some Novitiates in to assault my opponent’s less central objective.

The Repentia will be set up to continue launching assaults onto this one objective to hopefully deny my opponent primary repeatedly. They will likely return the favour which is why I will keep some Zephyrim and Seraphim in reserve to allow me to protect my weaker objective in combination with the shooting from my central objective.

Should I end up going second, I will likely use Carry Forth the Faithful to move the Rhino to safety behind the ruin ready to launch assaults the turn after. The Repentia will likely still assault the same objective repeatedly as described above to further cement the primary advantage I already have going second.

My likely secondaries on this mission will be Leap of Faith, Raise the Banners (or RND if my opponent is a fast army that can deny me banners) and Stranglehold. I may need to drop Stranglehold if it’s against an army where it’ll be hard to kill people off points.

The mission primary (or tertiary) is all about holding my opponent’s objectives. This is why I want to just want to keep assaulting the one objective to get the two fold benefit of gaining primary myself whilst denying my opponent primary (as this is the only hold 2, hold 3, hold more mission we are playing).

Death and Zeal

I absolutely despise corner deployments as Sisters. We’re just slow enough that it makes claiming the non-deployment zone objectives challenging and we’re just fragile enough that it means deploying out in the open is a huge risk.

My general plan here is to try and hold the top left objective along with my home objective and just trade over the middle constantly. This sort of missions typically favours Sisters due to its trading nature. However, this terrain makes it very hard to assault the middle from turn 1 as there is a huge open space between my safest ruin and the middle.

The sight lines for my ranged contingent are fairly limited so I will likely need to reposition my Retributors slowly to move them up the board to get better angles.

My biggest concern here, and in most games, is a fast army that can deny my primary and assault my units whilst they’re staging.

I want to keep my Repentia and assault forces to be able to attack the centre and defend my top objective. I’ll very likely start some Zephyrim and Seraphim off the board and depending on opponent, may outflank Repentia for a midgame assault on the lower right objective (or my opponent’s home objective). Important to note here is the Player Edge is the long edge which favours you if you can hard collapse the lower part of the map.

For secondaries I’ll likely take Stranglehold, Leap of Faith and RND (or Banners if I feel my opponent can screen out RND). The decision will be determined by my opponent’s army rather than anything else. The mission primary (or tertiary) is just trading on objectives which Sisters do incredibly well anyway, so this doesn’t require significant strategic thought ahead of time.

Secure Missing Artefacts

I love this mission as there’s a little mini-game of moving the objectives and needing to hold the one your opponent nominates within your territory. Typically I like to let my opponent move the first objective because I favour my ability to adapt to the changing circumstances of the objectives, even though this allows them to set the tone of the game. I’ve laid out a typical “potential” objectives that can happen (should my opponent move their home objective to the safety of their ruin, however it could be mirrored and I end up in the less favourable position. The main take away here, is one of my two objectives will be secure and easy to defend and the other will be out in the open and easy to be shot or assaulted. The same will be true for my opponent. If you ever end up with two easy to defend objectives or two easy to assault objectives something has gone wrong.

As a slow trading army my plan is to leverage my nonsense units to just keep feeding cheap units onto the centre objective to lure out more and more of my opponent’s army. I will be positioning my Repentia and Novitiates ready to assault my opponent’s weaker objective. There’s no good sight lines on this terrain so I cannot easily leverage my shooting. Likely after the first round or two my Retributors will walk up.

One thing to note on this terrain layout is it may be possible to block my opponent from the centre objective with a Rhino across the small gap around the middle creates between a wall. Infantry can clearly walk through the breachable terrain but this could be a good way to slow down Dreadnoughts, Maleceptors and similar monsters or vehicles for a turn.

For secondaries it will be very similar to Death and Zeal, I’ll likely take Strangehold, Leap of Faith and RND. The mission primary (or tertiary) is hold my priority target which my opponent nominates. I’ll put most of my army near it to hopefully guarantee a 15 on it. This could involve starting my Retributors near my top objective depending on which point is nominated.

Tear Down Their Icons

Time to leverage my practice and experience!

We’re playing Counter Strike. You need to plant bomb’s 9” away from any other bomb and wholly within your opponent's territory, which means 12” movement is incredible to score 4 extra VPs a turn (assuming your opponent doesn't defuse them).

My general plan here is to try and collapse my opponent’s lower flank to the point where I can just start planting bombs in their territory every turn. To counter my opponent doing similar I will position the majority of my shooting assets ready to push them back along the top half of the board.

I’m ready to double charge in Repentia and spend 2CP for Desperate for Redemption to allow me to collapse that flank quickly. This could even by combined with a Carry Forth the Faithful Novitiate Rhino to further punish that flank. If you can pull something like this off with a coordinated alpha strike it can be truly devastating. For reference, charge three units with Repentia, Repentia and Novitiates, start with the Novitiates, then allow your opponent to interrupt on the Repentia, then use Desperate for Redemption on those, and then fight with the second unit. You trade 2CP for 2CP and still kill everything you want.

Plan to go first and just keep planting bombs. I’ll start with a unit of Sisters whilst my rhino moves up and prepares to do it the turn after. Depending on the opponent this strategy may need to change. If they’re a fast army and/or a lethal army, I’ll need to play much more defensively. If I go second I will play far more cautiously and favour just trading in the middle rather than planting bombs.

My secondary choices are likely the same as with the previous corner deployments; Strangehold, Leap of Faith and in this instance Banners (because I’ll want to use Zephyrim and Seraphim to plant Bombs). I spent most of this write up talking about the mission primary (tertiary) so I won’t go into any more detail here.

Recover the Relics

This terrain layout on this map is very awkward (as is much of the terrain layouts it turns out). The firing lanes are extremely limited (except on the flanks which are wide open) so I’m glad I’m a combat army!

As this is a hold 1, hold 2, hold more mission, it means dive bombing your opponent’s objectives with obsec Repentia doesn’t do anything to their primary unless you do it on both flanks, which Sisters are often not quick enough to do and risks an interrupt. As such this favours a very defensive playstyle.

This is further exacerbated by the mission primary (tertiary) which is 1 VP for each unit killed. This works against Sisters as we have lots of small disposable units we expect to die (and want to die in the case of Repentia).

My general strategy here is to stay back and to try and not interact with my opponent at all. If I heavily defend 2 objectives, I score 32 on Primary, so simply killing 13 enemy units achieves max primary. Going second in theory scores you 36 (8,8,8,12) following this same strategy, so as long as I kill 4 units (and 4 more than my opponent does) I tie on primary. This is something I try to do at the beginning of a game. I always try to look at scoring in terms of differentials rather than absolutes.

I’ve laid out roughly what my assault pattern would be. As this is a ‘banners missions’, I am prepared for my opponent to take Raise the Banners and therefore I want to deny as many points on that as possible. I will only take Raise the Banners on this mission if my opponent is a slower army and not able to interact with my objectives turn 1 (and maybe 2).

My secondary plan given this will likely be Leap of Faith, RND (or Banners if they are a slow army) and either Stranglehold or a kill secondary. Stranglehold forces me to give assets (and VPs to my opponent) so I don’t like it as much here. Hopefully my opponent will give up a kill secondary!

The Scouring

Again, a little bit of practice on this mission has taught me an awful lot and the terrain *should* help me.

The mission primary (tertiary) here requires you to do an action on objective that completes in your next command phase. Most often you get 2 objectives done, however if you can get the middle objective done (and/or collapse a flank) then you can get more and get a slight advantage. Hence why I’m setting the Rhino up to move to the middle turn one, behind the boxes and do the action from safety. I may try to position some of my combat characters in a position where if the Rhino gets charged I can Heroic Intervention into the charging unit to pick them up. This could be devastating with my Canoness who can fight and then Divine Intervention to stand up and do it again.

This mission is hold 1, hold 2, hold more and therefore as with Recover the Relics, denying your opponent 1 objective does nothing, so you need to deny them 2 (which is slightly easier on a 5 objective mission). Unlike in the previous mission, these objectives being 1” closer to my deployment zone means that they should be holdable from the safety of my ruins.

Given be ability to launch obsec assaults with Repentia and Zephyrim onto my opponent’s objectives, my plan is to continually deny them primary whilst slowly whittling their forces down.

Secondaries are a bit challenging here as whilst Stranglehold would be good, given how all the objectives are in the centre of the board, this is an absolute bloodbath of a game and if you don’t kill them you can just lose secondary points. I’ll almost certainly take Leap of Faith and either Banners or RND (depending on my opponent for reasons mentioned previously). I prefer Banners as I think I’ll want my assets to skirmish often. Stranglehold is the de-facto third choice, but if my opponent gives up a kill secondary or is playing an incredibly durable army that I may not be able to kill, then I may choose something else.

The Wrap Up

So that's my thoughts a week before the event given the practice and experience I have gained over the past few months. I am by no means an expert at this game, but I wanted to share what little I have learned to hopefully help others, but also to all me to look back and see what I myself have learned throughout the process.

If you do enjoy these, please let me know as I'll only keep doing them if they're enjoyed and wanted.

Thank you

Andy Salkeld

just another guy

Army List

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Imperium - Adepta Sororitas) [107 PL,

++ 2,000pts, 8CP] ++

+ Configuration +

Battle Size [12CP]: 3. Strike Force (101-200 Total PL / 1001-2000 Points)

Detachment Command Cost

Order Convictions: Order: Bloody Rose

+ Stratagems +

Stratagem: Open the Reliquaries [-2CP]: 2x Additional Relics of the Ecclesiarchy

+ No Force Org Slot +

Hospitaller [3 PL, 50pts]

Repentia Superior [2 PL, 40pts, -1CP]: Relic: Book of St. Lucius, Stratagem: Saint in the Making, Warlord Trait: 5. Indomitable Belief (Aura)

+ HQ +

Canoness [4 PL, 90pts, -1CP]: Blessed Blade, Inferno pistol, Relic: Chaplet of Sacrifice, Stratagem: Saint in the Making, Warlord Trait: Blazing Ire . Rapturous Blows

Morvenn Vahl [14 PL, 280pts]: Warlord

+ Troops +

Battle Sister Squad [3 PL, 55pts]

. 4x Battle Sister: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades . Sister Superior: Chainsword . . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun

Battle Sister Squad [3 PL, 55pts]

. 4x Battle Sister: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades . Sister Superior: Chainsword . . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun

Sisters Novitiate Squad [4 PL, 75pts]

. Novitiate Superior

. . Bolt Pistol and Boltgun

. 9x Sister Novitiate (Melee Weapon): 9x Auto Pistol, 9x Frag & Krak grenades, 9x Novitiate Melee Weapons

+ Elites +

Crusaders [1 PL, 22pts]

. 2x Crusaders: 2x Power sword

Dogmata [4 PL, 65pts]: 2. Chorus of Spiritual Fortitude, 5. Verse of Holy Piety, Relic: The Sigil Ecclesiasticus

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 112pts]

. 8x Sisters Repentia: 8x Penitent Eviscerator

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 112pts]

. 8x Sisters Repentia: 8x Penitent Eviscerator

Sisters Repentia [3 PL, 56pts]

. 4x Sisters Repentia: 4x Penitent Eviscerator

+ Fast Attack +

Seraphim Squad [8 PL, 104pts]

. 3x Seraphim: 6x Bolt pistol, 3x Frag & Krak grenades . Seraphim Superior: Bolt pistol, Bolt pistol . Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Ministorum Hand Flamers . Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Ministorum Hand Flamers

Zephyrim Squad [8 PL, 107pts]

. 5x Zephyrim: 5x Bolt pistol, 5x Frag & Krak grenades, 5x Power sword . Zephyrim Superior: Bolt pistol, Zephyrim Pennant

Zephyrim Squad [8 PL, 107pts]

. 5x Zephyrim: 5x Bolt pistol, 5x Frag & Krak grenades, 5x Power sword . Zephyrim Superior: Bolt pistol, Zephyrim Pennant

+ Heavy Support +

Castigator [8 PL, 150pts]: Castigator autocannons

Retributor Squad [9 PL, 220pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub . 4x Retributor: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades . Retributor Superior: Chainsword . . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun . Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta . Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta . Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta . Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta . Retributor w/ Simulacrum

Retributor Squad [9 PL, 220pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub . 4x Retributor: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades . Retributor Superior: Chainsword . . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun . Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta . Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta . Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta . Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta . Retributor w/ Simulacrum

+ Dedicated Transport +

Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 80pts]

++ Total: [107 PL, 8CP, 2,000pts] ++

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