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Reecius: How My Astra Militarum Went 5-0 at the London GT – Part 1

12 Minute Read
Jun 15 2018
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Hey everyone, Reecius here to share how my Astra Militarum list works and to recount some bat reps from my experience at the London GT.

Back from the London GT and ready to share how my list performed at the event. First off, the list itself and a bit of explanation as a number of folks didn’t see how it all worked.

  • PLAYER NAME: Reece Robbins
  • FACTIONS: Astra Militarum (Catachan), Adeptus Custodes
  • TOTAL COMMAND POINTS: 15
  • TOTAL ARMY POINTS: 2,000pts

BRIGADE DETACHMENT: Astra Militarum (Catachan) [1,572pts] + 12CP

  • HQ1: Straken = [75]
  • HQ2: Company Commander (30) Laspistol (0) Frag Grenade (0) = WARLORD – [30] Kurov’s Aquila
  • HQ3: Primaris Psyker (38) Force Stave (8) Laspistol (0) = [46]
  • Troop1: Conscripts x 27 (108), Lasguns x 27 (0) = [108]
  • Troop2: Infantry Squad x 10 (40) Lasguns x 7 (0) Laspistol (0) Chainsword (0) Frag Grenades (0) Grenade Launcher (5) Mortar (5) = [50]
  • Troop3: Infantry Squad x 10 (40) Lasguns x 7 (0) Laspistol (0) Chainsword (0) Frag Grenades (0) Grenade Launcher (5) Mortar (5) = [50]
  • Troop4: Infantry Squad x 10 (40) Lasguns x 7 (0) Laspistol (0) Chainsword (0) Frag Grenades (0) Grenade Launcher (5) Mortar (5) = [50]
  • Troop5: Infantry Squad x 10 (40) Lasguns x 7 (0) Laspistol (0) Chainsword (0) Frag Grenades (0) Grenade Launcher (5) Mortar (5) = [50]
  • Troop6: Infantry Squad x 10 (40) Lasguns x 7 (0) Laspistol (0) Chainsword (0) Frag Grenades (0) Grenade Launcher (5) Mortar (5) = [50]
  • Elite1: Harker = [50]
  • Elite2: Astropath (30) Laspistol (0) = [30]
  • Elite3: Bullgryn x 9 (315) Bullgryn Maul x 9 (63) Slab Shield x  6 (0) Brute Shield x 3 (0) Frag Bombs (0) = [378]
  • Elite4: Ministorum Priest (35) Chainsword (0) Autogun (0) Frag Grenades (0) Krak Grenades (0) = [35]
  • FA1: Rough Riders x 5 (40) Hunting Lances (10) = [50]
  • FA2: Rough Riders x 5 (40) Hunting Lances (10) = [50]
  • FA3: Scout Sentinels x 2 (70) Heavy Flamer x 2 (34) = [104]
  • HS1: Leman Russ Conqueror (122) Heavy Bolter (8) Conqueror Battle Cannon (25) = [155]
  • HS2: Wyvern (95) Heavy Bolter (8) Stormshard Mortar (0) = [103]
  • HS3: Basilisk (100) Heavy Bolter (8) Earthshaker Cannon (0) = [108]

PATROL DETACHMENT:                 Adeptus Custodes [428pts] + 0CP

  • HQ1: Shield-Captain on Dawneagle (150) Hurricane Bolters (10) Interceptor Lance (0) = [160]
  • TROOP1: Custodian Guard x 3 (120) Guardian Spears x 3 (36) = [156]
  • ELITE1: Vexilus Praetor (80) Guardian Spear (12) Vexilus Defensor (20) = [112]

How it Works

So, not your normal Astra Militarum list for sure, but one I have been playing quite a bit lately (minus the Adeptus Custodes), have really been enjoying and doing quite well with. I added in the Custodes at the last minute due to the fact that they have a 1CP stratagem that lets you redraw a Maelstrom Card which is mega important in these missions. To do so, I had to drop quite a few of the units I normally take such as my Hellhounds, a third Scout Sentinel and some Ratlings. While the redraw of a card was indeed awesome, and the Custodian Guard and the Shield-Captain were quite good, I found myself wishing I had the Hellhounds specifically every single game! The Vexilus Praetor though, was solid gold as I will explain.

I have some units and wargear choices in my list a lot of folks were asking why I took, so I figured I’d explain it. The Rough Riders especially drew a lot of attention and why I take them is because they’re cheap as chips (50pts per unit), fill a Fast Attack slot to unlock the brigade, and they Outflank! A cheap, fast unit that hits reasonably hard in melee, has 2 wounds a pop and can keep itself off of the board with no further resources while getting me that sweet, sweet Brigade detachment is solid. Plus, it’s hard not to love the idea of crazy bastards going into combat in the 41st millennium on horses armed with sharp sticks that have a bomb on them! Lastly, I really like the conversions I made for them using Catachan bits on Maurader Horsemen.

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I also got a lot of quizzical looks at my Conscripts unit. They’ve largely fallen out of favor after the nerf they got in Chapter Approved 2017, but I find them to be absolutely invaluable. Why? Because they start in a unit of up to 30 and that is so incredible useful. Are normal Guardsmen better? Yes, as they should be. But, they only come in 10 strong units and when used as a screen, 10 doesn’t cut it. In a unit of 30 though, the Conscripts get 3 times the mileage out of any buff and with the stud-muffin Praetor giving them a 5++ which can be boosted up to a 4++ with the Take Cover stratagem, and a 3++ with the Psychic Barrier psychic power which can be even further buffed up with a -1 to hit from Nightshroud. That turns these humble 4pt models into ultra efficient meat shields. Plus, I play them very aggressively, bum rushing my opponent in most cases forcing them to deal with them or have the unit charge into their lines, gunking up their ability to move and shoot. And, despite their WS 5+, being Catachan they’re strength 4 and with Straken and the priest nearby, they have 3 attacks each so they’re no slouches in melee. With the Fix Bayonets! order in a prolonged combat they can really do some damage. Lastly, they also eat overwatch and Smites for the Bullgryn.

Speaking of which, the Bullgryn are absolute all-stars. Just an amazing unit, really. Durable, hard hitting, and great for board control. Their only real weakness is their speed which to be frank, isn’t much of a weakness. It was funny how many people didn’t even know what the models were, lol. I’ve been banging the Bullgryn drum all edition but this tournament really hit it home for me. In a full unit of 9, they’re just deadly. With CP and Warlord trait re-rolls and all of the defensive buffs you can put on them, plus the Ministorum Priest giving them an extra attack, they are just devastating.

As stated, Straken and the priest turn my regular Guardsmen into fairly fearsome melee units. Straken himself is also just a beast, with a solid statline and packing a wallop in melee in addition to handing out orders. Beyond them, the Astropath is a common site in AM lists as is the Primaris Psyker and they’re there for the amazing psychic powers and to open up that Brigade. I also take a generic Company Commander for the extra orders and to be the Warlord waaaaaaaay back in the ranks, haha. Straken gets to charge up the table like a boss while his number 2 does the actual commanding in the rear with the gear. He’s great for this as he keeps the incredible Grand Stratagist Warlord Trait and Kurov’s Aquilla Relic and Warlord points safely hidden from enemy attention. Lastly, Harker gives a significant buff to my infantry and artillery with his re-roll 1’s to hit arua and he puts out decent firepower himself.

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My basic Infantry Squads also got quite a few questions with their load out. I outfitted each with a Mortar and Grenade Launcher. While the Mortar probably needs no explanation beyond the fact that having them in an Infantry Squad helps a ton to keep them alive and shooting, the Grenade Launchers raised quite a few eyebrows. I was previously using Plasma Guns in this role but with all the negatives to hit floating around in the game at present, I found they really weren’t that effective. So, I started experimenting with Grenade Launchers and was pleasantly surprised! With all the T3 infantry out there, the Frag round is very useful, and against tougher targets the Krak round is great. The 24″ range is the real kicker though and I found that with Harker giving them re-roll 1’s to hit, and an order for re-rolls of 1’s to wound, between the Las Guns, Mortar and Grenade Launcher the unit could put a hurtin’ on light infantry or split their shots and lob Kraks at tougher targets.

But, you may be asking: why spend the points to upgrade your infantry at all? Because I ALWAYS blob up the units using the Consolidate Squads strat. Because of the way my army works, I find the Infantry Squads don’t get shot much and killing 10 Guardsmen with an invul save is tougher than you think it would be. If any of them survive (which of course will be the special models) you link them into a bigger unit and now they have meat shields again. And as explained with the Conscripts, the bigger the unit the most mileage you get out of every order/psychic buff/stratagem/etc. In most games, by turn 4 I have a big unit of 30+ Guardsmen with 5 Mortars and Grenade Launchers in it blasting away, holding objectives. And again, if the enemy does make it into my lines these guys fight like devils, packing in a crazy number of strength 4 attacks, possibly fighting twice in one turn with the Fix Bayonets! order. In all, I am extremely happy with these units and find them to do a lot of the winning of the mission while the rest of my army does the attacking.

My Heavy Support choices were also getting a lot of questions as you don’t see these guys all that much in tournament play. I took these specific tanks for a reason though: they can all re-roll to hit rolls if I need them to. That’s huge because when firing at a unit that is -1 to hit, without a re-roll mechanic you just don’t connect enough. The Basilisk and the Wyvern get it through the Aerial Spotter stratagem (although of course, that means only one of them per turn can use it) and the Leman Russ Conqueror has a special rule that allows it’s Conqueror Cannon (basically a shorter range Battle Cannon) to re-roll misses if it’s coaxial Storm Bolter fires at the same target (please note, the model pictured is not the actual Conqueror Cannon as that is now OOP). The Wyvern is great for blasting screen units and light infantry, the Basilisk is quite good for taking out other tanks and heavier infantry, and the Russ puts out a ton of reliable shots. I have found all of them to be very good in every game I’ve played. The only downside is that they tend to shoot once and then my opponent realizes they have to die and starts to pick them apart, haha.

Also, as a long, long time Guard player, it just doesn’t feel right to play without some of these iconic tanks!

I absolutely love Scout Sentinels! I usually take a full unit of 3 but cut them down to 2 to take the Custodes. I used to run 3 units of 1 to fill out the Fast slots in my Brigade but found that they were too easy to pick off for a Kill Point. First Blood/Strike, etc. I started running bigger units of them and man, they rock. I deploy them very aggressively so that if I go first, I scout move them up, then move them normally and that is 18″ of the table covered. In most cases, that puts you safely in Heavy Flamer range (which with Catachan, you get to re-roll the number of shots) and only 6″ away for a relatively easy charge. I can’t tell you how many times these little bad asses have caused absolute havoc with my opponent’s plans when they fly up the table, blast a screen unit then charge an important unit to prevent it from shooting the next turn, or just charge into their screen and slow down their entire army. Even just popping smoke and simply to standing in front of your opponent and forcing them to deal with them or go around them is incredibly useful.

If I go second, I have them Scout move into cover, or preferably out of line of sight. In these instances they go from banzai pilots to playing cagey, jumping on objectives and using the Go Recon! stratagem to look for ways to pick up points. They’re surprisingly tough little boogers and require considerable attention to remove from the table in most cases.

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The much lauded Shield-Captain on Jet Bike was fun to use, and with Victors of the Blood Games and relic support is pretty dang tough. He’s quick, hits hard, and shoots well, too. Stooping Dive is also an all-star stratagem, letting you charge into combat on your opponent’s turn and swing first. However, I found often the best use for him was often jumping on objectives and tanking a round or two of enemy fire while earning me a few VP. I found mine didn’t actually kill that much in practice as he tended to die once exposed. Now, I am in no way saying he was bad–he wasn’t–but having other units in my army would have served me better in almost every game such as the aforementioned Hellhounds. That said, I in no way regret taking him but he may be taking a backseat in my current list.

This guy right here though, makes my heart go pitter-pat! He’s so amazingly good in an Astra Militarum army, my goodness. His Vexilla Defensor is magic for Guard. A 5++ for units wholly within 9″ helps so much to keep your squishy guys alive, but it also gives you a re-roll for failed Morale tests! That by itself is so good, but additionally he gives you access to some amazing stratagems, too. Tanglefoot Grenade is borderline broken, lol, reducing the charge distance of an enemy unit by D6″. I used that one so many times and it had game changing impact every time. Standing right behind the Conscripts it was easy to put it in place to use, too. Plant the Vexila was likewise incredibly good to increase the aura of his banner. I found this to be most useful in turns 2 and 3 when he was in mid-table and my army needed to spread out a bit. Also, the Avatars of the Emperor strat was mega useful (granting a big morale buff to nearby Imperium units) as was the Vexila Teleport Homer (allows a Custodes unit deep-striking in to do so within 6″ of the banner and up to 3″ from enemy units) which I used frequently to bring in the Custodian Guard unit directly from reserves into melee. Shoulder the Mantle is also great to keep a Warlord on the table and deny your opponent points, as well as Spark of Divinity to try and Deny the Witch against key powers your opponent is trying to use. There’s more to say but in all, the utility this guy brings to an Astra Militarum army just cannot be understated.

Lastly, the Custodian Guard. These guys don’t rate too highly on many people’s lists and while they are most assuredly not bad, compared to some of the other options in the army they do pale a bit and aren’t cheap. However, I found them to be pretty useful. Although much like the Shield-Captain, often the best use of them was to plop them on an objective from deep strike reserves and force my opponent to deal with them as they’re quite sturdy. When they did get into range to open up with their very solid firepower and melee, they performed admirably. As stated, this was typically accomplished by using the Praetor to drop them down 3″ from enemy units and then shoot and charge which while a considerable CP investment to do, worked great. These gents weren’t all-stars but they were quite good and in a few games their very efficient Piercing Strike strat for +1 to wound in melee was awesome.

~Whew, a lot to talk about! But, understanding the interactions between units is really the key to understanding how a list functions. Hopefully that info was helpful!

Next Time, we’ll go through the games!

 

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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