Thursday, 8 February 2018

Warhammer 40k Throne of Skulls Doubles Tournament - 10/11th Feb 2018

Just after Christmas Rich and I decided to enter the Warhammer 40k Throne of Skulls Doubles Tournament in February. We haven't played competitively since 5th edition back in 2010 & 2011. Since the onset of young children in general our hobby time has been limited but we thought that it was about time for us to compete once again.

In previous years we have always focused mainly on painting and trying to win best painted at the event. 4 times we entered and 4 times we were nominated but never won - always the bridesmaid...sigh! This time around however we have decided to be competitive and actually try to win the thing! Even though I have been playing Blood Angels since 8th began and Rich hasn't played many games of 8th due to his focus on his Imperial Fists 30k army we decided to resurrect our first love - The Emperor's Feth Astra Militarum army. Both of us love this army and it has been good for us to have a rest and paint something else over the past few years.
James' half of a previous doubles tournament back in 5th edition
Pulling out the army has brought back many memories of tournament play - getting in the top ten  and then being crippled by our opponent seizing the initiative in the last game, rushing through the last turns to complete a victory with seconds to spare, rolling unbelievably hot with 2 Manticores and destroying an Ork army in one turn (sorry!), etc. etc...

However an army from 5th edition is not one that will suffice now and so we started to do some research...

R & D
We took to Reddit and 2 groups on Facebook (competitive 40k and an Astra Militarum group) for some advice and Rich even did some statistical analysis of the best units for Astra Militarum armies in recent tournaments (Blog post here). Looking at the advice given we then bounced back and forth swapping lists over Battlescribe and Whatsapp for about three weeks before roughly settling on what we think is a fairly competitive list....(See it here)

Top of the tree were three main units for us:
1. Manticore. The damage output on these is so high that 3 of these beauties have become the backbone of our army. High strength, D6 shots and indirect fire at long range provide the firebase that everything else moves around.
2. Leman Russ Punisher. We couldn't decide between 2 or 3 of these and in the end went with 2 and a Taurox Prime. Pask rides in 1 which gives us 40 gatling cannon shots hitting on 2's re-rolling 1's if he stays still. I also gave him 2 multi-meltas and a lascannon to dish out some anti tank pain too. The other Punisher is standard with 3 heavy bolters - perfect for infantry crushing. Instead of the extra punisher we went with the Taurox Prime for its maneuverability, less points cost and still giving us 20 shots with a gatling cannon. These units will take a lot of fire but can also demolish a unit in a turn so will hopefully dissuade anything from coming too close.
3. Scout sentinels. Rich put 3 in his list for a couple of reasons. It bulks out his half of the list for a cheap brigade detachment and lots of command points. They can scout out after deployment to protect our army from deep striking nonsense and they are super cheap!!!
The Punisher
More Units!
Of course we had to plan the list a little depending on the time we had left before the tournament to build and paint any new units. Rich had a little more time than me and so took the bullet to paint up 3 Scout Sentinels and a full squad of Scions while I re-kitted out a Leman Russ's weaponry, swapped a couple of weapons on some infantry and built and painted a Taurox Prime (Blog Post Here).

At the current time of writing - the day before the tournament neither of us have quite finished yet!!! A hotel paint job it may be!

To prepare for the tournament Rich and I are more prepared than ever before bar 1 thing. We have memorised all of the rules and weapons. We have written out all of the missions and tactics that we will employ for each of them. We have laminated check sheets for all of the parts of our and our opponents turns to make sure that we don't miss out on using strategems, re-rolls, heirlooms of conquest or orders. However the one thing that we lack is match practice!! Unfortunately it has been a busy start to the year and I still haven't managed to play an 8th edition game with Astra Militarum!! Rich has managed to play a couple and even came 2nd in a GW store tournament in January but we are very much lacking in match practice. Friday night at Warhammer World against dad Dave and his friend is going to be the first time we play our list in a's hoping!

What are our worries?
- Match practice is the highest. Making decisions under pressure and coming up against armies we haven't played before will be our major downfall. However we have accounted for this and will stick to playing our army the way we think it will work as much as possible. Sticking to our strengths and working out our opponents weaknesses as we go will be the order of the day.

- Time is also a big worry. 2 and a half hour games at 2,000pts in a fairly social event will be tough. We have experienced this before as people want to chat and explain every rule that their army has as they do it. This is all very nice but we really want to finish games too! It is possible to play and chat and have a good time all at once!

We have 91 models in our army that at a maximum can fire 293.5 shots in the shooting phase. This is a lot and so we will need to be quick. We are both very aware of this and have taken measures (such as downloading the GW dice app and pre-loading up the punishers and taurox ready to roll in seconds rather than minutes) and practiced to be able to deploy in 5 mins and play a whole turn in 15mins. During the tournament we are going to clock ourselves each turn to achieve this and if we do then we have every chance of finishing a game even if our opponents are slow.

End Game
 So there we have it. Our escapades for this weekend. Hopefully we'll see a few people there that we know from twitter and blog land. If you are going then please come and say 'Hi' and even better just let us beat you!!!

All the best
James – A blog about Warhammer 40k and the Horus Heresy by four Dads


  1. Good luck. Hopefully we get a juicy report next week on it.

    1. Absolutely Rory, blow by blow account to follow on!