LVO 2018 has come and gone again, lets take a look at the Best List From LVO.
The Las Vegas Open or LVO is one of the premier North American wargamming events. It’s hosts a massive 40K tournament with around 460 players and caps off the ITC season. As such it acts as gathering place for many of the best players and is a bellweather for the North American meta. This year LVO witnessed some of the highs, and lows, of wargaming. From the lists, to the players, to the outcomes it was a mad mad event. Some of the outcomes were shocking and surprising. Others surprising only in how well they matched predictions of meta-watchers. One of the most surprising things to come out of was what I consider by far the best list to be used in the event.
The Madness of The Best List
Looking at the LVO lists one of them really stood out to me. Out of all the lists I saw the Death Blossom list run by Joshua Death is the best. While this list did not take first place in the event, it was one of the top lists, and by far the most inventive of the top lists. To me this is the best list from LVO. Lets take a quick look at it.
At first glace this list does really seem mad. Between the fortification and reinforcement points it had only about 1000 pts of “real” troops on the table. Moreover aside from the 3 characters it’s not clear at first glace what really kills things in this army. However looking closely at it, reveals a genius use of a number of Chaos units and stratagems.
Months ago I wroth about the idea of using an endless poxwalker horde to win games. The basic idea is to take a bunch of cruddy troops who when they die become Poxwalkers. Through the use of powers and stratagems you can not only make it next to impossible for the Poxwalkers to get shot, but you can also buff them into some pretty scary combatants.
Let us descend into the dark creativity of the list.
The Core Of the List
The Death Blossom lists seems to be an amazing variant of that idea. Instead of using hordes of cultists the list mostly uses a large unit of Pink Horrors. The amazing thing is just how the list grows. Basically each time a Pink Horror dies it will turn into two Blue Horrors AND a poxwalker. When each Blue Horror dies it will turn into a Brimstone Horror, and a Poxwalker. That unit of of 30 Pink Horrors is ultimately 150 potentail Poxwalkers. The list starts with 30 Pink Horrors and 19 poxwalkers, (49 models) but could end up with 60 Brims and 109 Poxwalkers (169 models) just from those two units! Thats the Blossom. That is also where all those reinforcement points go.
I’ve got to give crazy props to Joshua for this list. Pink Horrors are a very efficient unit for growing your Poxwalkers. Since “The Dead Walk Again” stratagem only allowed models killed within 7″ of the Poxwalkers to be added to unit it can be hard to fit masses of cultists close to them. It’s far easier to fit one big unit of Horrors within that range, and its a great two for one growth bonus. In addition the Pink Horrors at least least can put out a lot of shooting, 90 shots at full strength. While they lose an extra shot per model if there are less than 20 Pink Horrors in the unit due to the way they work you’ll have to kill 50 models before they are reduced to less than 20.
Aside from those two big units you’ve also got a few smaller units to spread out and take objectives/turn into more Poxwalkers.
The list makes some great use of characters to buff the two main units in the army. Typhus and the Deamon Prince are able to throw some major buffs onto the Poxwalkers. In addition, both of these guys can smite and are no slouches in combat. You can check out my more in-depth look at the Poxwalker combo (linked above) to see what all it can do.
Aside from maybe casting smite both the Changling and Changecaster are there to buff the the Horrors. Base the Pink Horrors just get 2 S3 shots each. However if there are 20 or more they go up to 3 shots each. The Changecaster makes them S4 and the Chnagling gives them a 6+ FNP. Given that the Changecaster is the warlord I’m guessing he was run with the Deamonspark trait, letting the Horrors re-roll ones to wound with shooting. One of the two can then throw Flickering Flames on the Horrors, giving them +1 to wound with shooting. You could also cast Boon Of Change on them, potentially making them S5. 90 S5 shots, with +1 to wound and rerolling 1s is a soild shooting turn.
The Vortex… of DEATH
Of course to most people the oddest thing in the list is the Vortex Aqulia Strongpoint. Taking a 430 pts fortification is a gutsy move, that I salute. It’s also an amazing part of the army. Now normally I wouldn’t feel the unit is really worth it. It’s gun is crazy good, no doubt. D6 shots that don’t need LOS and each hit does D6 Mortal Wounds? RAD! However, due to its low BS and randomness, the average result will be you getting one hit and doing D6 Mortal wounds. Not bad, but not woth 430 pts. However a couple of things make it a really great choice in the list.
Firstly the attack is really pretty good given the current meta. Between blasting away Dark Reapers that can hide out of LoS and Primarchs with a ton of wounds and high inv save being about to reach out and shoot any non character unit of the table is great. Hidden Dark Reapers have a lot to fear from taking d6 mortal wounds. Moreover between stratagems and Gaze of Fate this list can get rerolls to try and maximize its shots. This thing CAN potentially one shot just about anything in the game.
More than offensive power, the Vortex Strongpoint also lets the list pull some pretty dirty tricks. One of the big weakness of the Poxwalker plan is the risk that an enemy Alpha Strike will kill the Poxwalkers before they can start using stratagems to prevent that. The strong point really negates that risk. Depending on who you are fighting you can just put the Poxwalkers in the strongpoint. Most armies will find it hard to kill both a W:30 T:10 unit and the 19 Poxwalkers on turn one. You can also hide units, maybe the Poxwalkers even, behind the strong point, as again it’s a massive LOS blocking unit. Again, depending on what you are facing, you could also hide your Horrors in the strongpoint, or in the warp, to prevent an Alpha Strike.
The List Ain’t Going To Give Up Points
Once the list gets going the enemy is only going to have two real targets. They can either shoot the big unit of Horrors, or the Strongpoint. Both of these are really hard units to kill. The handfull of small weaker units are going to be hidden and don’t give up many points and the characters should be hard to get to as well. In combat the Poxwalkers also become a target, but they should be a big one by then. Getting any points for kills off this army is going to be super hard.
Final Thoughts: An Original List We Need More Of
As a player seeing several nearly identical Craftworld/Yannari lists at the top of the results has got me feeling like I’m facing off with Thurlsa Doom:
Lists like this however are a breath of fresh air in a dank cavern of netlists. This is a meta bucking, unique list that puts a great spin on existing ideas. This kind of thinking outside of the box is what we need more of. It’s why going to large events is amazing, to see these crazy new ideas. The thought of taking a huge fortification, and tons of points of reinforcements, is madness. And yet the list works. It did amazingly well, and proved its concept. It was also pretty much the only non-Imperium or Eldar list to do well. This is the kind of list that embodies the inventiveness of top players and earns them my respect.
LVO had a lot of drama this year. I’m sure some people were even turned off from the competitive scene by what they saw. Lists like this however rise above it all. This kind of inventiveness and pushing the envelope are what make tournaments and comparative play great.
Joshua I salute you for this list and hope to one day face you across a table.
Tell us your thoughts on this awesome list and LVO in general, down in the comments!