Welcome back to the Vault my fellow Frater. The First Founding Doubles Tournament feels like a long time ago, even though it's only been a week, and I've been thinking a lot about what worked well, and not so well, within my list. I'd like to expand on the list for Mayhem, so it's worth writing a school report for the various units to see if they get benched for future events.
Smash Captain: Let's deal with the elephant in the room straight away; Smashy did not have a good tournament. I threw him at some big targets, and he failed to kill them! With hindsight there was a combination of (i) bad tactics (sending him to solo targets), and (ii) bad luck (two of my opponents throwing box cars on saving throws). Smashy's re-roll ability along with Master Artisans mitigates some bad luck, but with a measly 5 attacks a couple of unfortunate rolls really takes the edge off Cap's potential.
I have some ideas to mitigate these issues, based around supporting Smashy with Thunder Hammer wielding Vanguard Veterans. This approach adds a lot more Thunder Hammer attacks (adding reliability), and they can keep up with Smashy (something the Aggressors struggle with).
I was very happy with the Captain's combination of Warlord Traits; immunity to Overwatch (Shadow Master) is fantastic, and using Master of Ambush's redeployment ability to respond to your opponent's set up (like lining up the Lascannon Devestators to draw a bead on a Tank Commander) is very powerful.
Rating: B-; must try harder (both Smashy and myself)
Primaris Lieutenant: The Lieutenant proved his worth over the event; his re-roll failed To Wound of 1s aura was invaluable for the Eliminators, Thunderfire Cannon and Devestators. Combined with Master Artisans this added a lot of reliability to my long range shooting unit.
Giving the Lieutenant the Ex Tenebris Relic bolter is a good choice; he can also contribute meaningful firepower from the backline, and provides back up to the Eliminators to chip away the final couple of wounds from an opposing Character.
Rating: A; a valuable support character at a very reasonable point cost
Stalker Bolter Intercessors: A mainstay of Iron Hand/Imperial Fist net lists, my single Stalker armed Intercessors squad performed well over the course of the tournament, typically capping an Objective and plinking away with their Heavy Bolt Guns. Whilst the squad only puts out 5 shots, each succcessful attack is appreciated (-3 AP, 2 Damage in Devestator doctrine is nothing to sniff at).
Rating: B; a solid, workhorse unit for the Space Sharks.
Bolt Rifle Intercessors: Simply put, these guys go up the table to take Objectives, and their Auxiliary Grenade Launcher and Power Sword provide an added level of flexibility. Their Bolt Rifles shine in Tactical Doctrine (which is typically where the Sharks want to be to get the benefit of their Super Doctrine), but there is a downside; I found myself advancing these squads to get up the table, and hence having to sacrifice their shooting. I'm considering swapping their guns to Auto-bolt Rifles, so they can advance and shoot, but the downside is loss of range and AP. I think I'll need to play test them to see if the swap is worth it.
Rating B+; a versatile Swiss Army Knife
Aggressors: My favourite unit on the roster! This unit proved it's worth in every match up, whether its via shooting or assault. The deployment options available to Raven Guard Successors (Master of Ambush, pre-game moves, Deep Strike) mitigate the low range of their guns, and they really play well in Tactical Doctrine.
As an aside I used to sit my Aggressors in cover and focus on their "don't move, just shoot twice" ability; that's a trap! They are a lot more versatile and can vary their role according to mission and opposition; in one match they will stomp up the field and in others they will sit still and create no go zones.
The Aggressors did attract a lot of fire in every match; Stealthy, T5 and activating Transhuman Physiology makes them quite tanky to everything except dedicated Anti Tank fire. Sometimes it's worth Deep Striking the unit just to save them from an Alpha Strike.
Rating: A; they shoot, they fight, they scare the daylights out of the Emperor's foes
Devestators: I'll be honest, this unit was a filler choice as I needed some Anti Tank firepower and these guys were painted. The Lascannons are potent, but the unit is very swingy (each successful shot doing 1d6 Damage) and the squad is quite squishy for their points cost. In some games they were very successful, whilst in others they fell prey to poor rolls.
The Devestators are high value targets; in most scenarios my opponents prioritized fire into them. For future games I'll think about looking into more resilient anti tank units.
Rating: B-; Over costed and squishy, but when they roll hot, Devestators are a potent unit.
Eliminators: You really can't have a Raven Guard based army without at least one unit of Snipers! These sneaky beakies bagged a few characters over the weekend and even chipped away a few wounds from vehicles. The Raven Guard Super doctrine means you'll hit and wound most Characters on 2s if spot with the Sergeant, and can proc Mortal Wounds on 4s.
The Eliminators support other roles, providing deep strike denial if you place them in no man's land for example.
Rating: A; The Eliminators do exactly what they say on on the tin; but the fear of the Emperor into your opponent's characters and bolt rounds in their heads if they appear in the open.
Thunderfire Cannon: Another staple of Space Marine lists everywhere, the solo Thunderfire Cannon provided solid fire support; typically killing half an Infantry Squad on a volley. In a low points/low CP game the shoot twice stratagem is too expensive to use as a matter of course, but the Tremor Shells stratagem is extremely valuable; I used it to slow down Genestealers and Bullgryns over the course of the tournament.
Rating B+; The Thunderfire Cannon is another versatile unit choice; as a singleton unit it is solid, but I'm not sold on spamming the artillery piece to the maximum allowable.
For Mayhem I'm thinking about adding some Vanguard Veterans to support Smashy, and provide some more mobility to the army.
My longer term plans for the Space Sharks involve playing around with more of the movement tricks in the Codex (I'm looking at you Shadow Step and Temporal Corridor). Hobby wise I'd like to tackle some of the painting back log of Space Marine vehicles; I'll be sure to keep you all apprised as the future expansion of the Carcharodons Astra unfolds!