Last week I had the pleasure of attending a "small" 26-player event at my local game store, Jolt Games. I do mean pleasure, as it was great to see everyone out in force, enjoying the sugar hit from a new edition.

Most factions were in attendance, including a visit from the dreaded father Wraithknight. I'm very lucky that my local has a diverse playgroup. There was even a lady threatening to bring Genestealer Cults, but she was unable to make it on the day.

A special thank you to Angry Dave for taking it upon himself to organise the event, cruise the tables, and fob rules questions off to other people.

The list I took was a new design, inspired by one of the local gods of my 40k scene, Dave T (Different from angry Dave). Long, long, longtime readers of this blog and my previous atrocities on blogger may recognise Dave as a winner of Australian masters more than a decade ago, with Space Wolves.

Dave built a pretty robust Ultramarine force built around camping in the center of the board in one big deathball and blasting people. I liked the idea, so adjusted it for the miniatures in my own collection. I wanted to include a unit of Desolators and a unit of Sternguard, so I did:

++Space Marines - Gladius Strike Force - 1990++

Captain in Gravis Armour - Artificer Armour (105)
Primaris Lieutenant - Bolter Discipline (100)
Primaris Librarian (70)
Primaris Apothecary (55)

10 Intercessors (190)

10 Desolator Marines (340)
10 Hellblasters (250)
10 Sternguard - 2 Heavy Bolters (210)
6 Eradicators (190)
5 Infiltrators (90)

Storm Speeder Thunderstrike (160)
Repulsor Executioner - Heavy Laser Destroyer (230)

Overall the list felt good to use and had a gameplan. It wants to control an area of the board and use the medium and long range firepower to create a no-go zone for my opponent. It absolutely has a glass jaw, and takes casualties very quickly. Deploying defensively is important, which means I'm committing to giving ground in turns 1-3 and trying to swing the game in 4 and 5.

With a clear idea of what I needed to do in order to win games, I made the perilous trek to Jolt.

Game 1 - v Tyranids

To start the day, I played Tom and his swarm of Tyranids. He had multiple units of small bugs, supported by some heavy hitters in the form of a Hive Tyrant, Exocrine, and a Trygon. It was very "traditional bug".

I overestimated the potency of Tom's shooting, and deployed very conservatively. This proved to be a problem, as it handed the initiative to Tom and his bugs, who gladly took the opportunity to park on my side of the board.

Fortunately, the amount of work the Desolators got through was nothing short of oppressive. Turns out blast weapons are really good at handling swarms of bugs, particularly when backed up by Hellblasters and Sternguard veterans. Having to get through 60+ dice of shooting from one unit takes time, though.

There were always more bugs, however, and though I was scooping up critters in fistfuls, Tom maintained a vice-like grip on his objectives. The nids took an early lead, and I would need to reel him in. Unfortunately I was too slow, and we couldn't manage more than three turns. At the bottom of three, Tom's bugs held a slim lead, ensuring that my first game of the day would be a loss.

Result: 39-47 (Loss)

Game 2 - v Black Templars

Sean is a regular, and was one of my first opponents when I was getting back into the hobby. He's responsible for handing me my lowest score of 9th, a measly 7, and that was in the back of my mind as we lined up.

His list, as honour demanded, was a punch-heavy Black Templar list that wanted to close the distance and kill people. A unit of Bladeguard led by a Marshal, a Land Raider Crusader filled with angry crusaders, and two chunky Redemptor dreadnoughts headlined Sean's force.

I went away from my "control an area" gameplan somewhat, opting instead to deploy on a wide front. I felt confident in my ability to blast away Sean's army before he got to me. In hindsight, this was a mistake.

What I didn't account for, was that as soon as Sean's forces made contact, they would use the No Escape stratagem to pin me in engagement range and prevent me from falling back and cleaning units up. So when the Hellblasters cleaned an entire Bladeguard unit, leaving only the Captain, who proceeded to kill seven of them (thanks, Finest Hour!), Sean's Templars held me in combat, unable to fall back to clean him up.

Fortunately I got extraordinarily lucky - my lieutenant killed his captain, and in perhaps the most feel bad moment of all time, his Executioner was destroyed by mine, despite his Executioner getting the first shot off. To rub salt into the wound, my Repulsor then finished the job my Eradicators started, tagging Sean's Redemptor with a lucky hit in overwatch and finishing the job.

The real star of the show for the Templar, though, was Helbrecht and his crony mob of Sword Brethren. Together, they hacked up a unit of Sternguard, a unit of Desolators, and Eradicators. In the end, it took the Executioner, still hanging on with that one wound, driving onto my home objective and giving the High Marshal a Heavy Laser Destroyer surprise.

Result: 65-53 (Win)

Game 3 - v Eldar

Chris had decided not to bring a Wraithknight, and instead opted for a very traditional shooting-focused Eldar list. He had a number of big threats - a brick of Wraithguard, two Fire Prisms, and a nasty surprise waiting for me on his home objective in the form of a D-cannon - if I ever got there.

Without knowing exactly what Chris' army was geared toward, I opted to deploy my Storm Speeder and Repulsor Executioner. In hindsight, it would've been a better option to put them into strategic reserve so they didn't get sniped out for free by his Fire Prisms.

The Hellblasters were absolute monsters this game, hosing anything that looked at them funny, including a unit of Jetbikes in overwatch. Once Chris realised they were too dangerous to live, his Eldar put every gun to them them, including the Wraithguard in the center of the board, who inflicted seven mortal wounds with their D(eez Nuts)-Cannons. Not much you can do about that.

I did get baited a few times with Phantasm, which is a very powerful ability - needless to say I won't be making that mistake again, If possible.

In the end, whilst I was starting to reel Chris in, much like the first game, I left it way too late, with the Eldar holding a big lead at the bottom of turn four, where we ran out of time.

Result: 45-79 (Loss)

I'd finish the day in 17th, with two losses and a win. My two losses felt winnable, however, and I think with some cleaner play in the future, a second win isn't too far away. I was talking to Grand Master Tim about avoiding slow play between rounds, and he gave me lots of little ideas to improve in the future.

I also really enjoyed the Tactical objectives. In 9th edition, I struggled to pick secondaries that I could complete. The new objectives are easier to complete and provide more points. The inbuilt mechanisms for discarding objectives that you can't complete go a long way to dealing with a bad hand from the deck.

Overall, 10th is a big upgrade on 9th - at least to me. They kept the nuts and bolts of 8th and 9th, but removed a lot of the gunk. The focus of the game is in the right place, which is out on the tabletop. I did say the same thing about 6th, however, and then six months later the Heldrake showed up, and that was that.

It helps that I did not play against anything that felt unbalanced, or particularly egregious. There were players in attendance using armies that were far more powerful than those of my opponents, but given I have no experience with any of these really powerful forces, speculation is not helpful.

The best part of the game was how little time I spent crawling through the rulebook. I used all of the stratagems in my faction multiple times. I never forgot my army rule, or any of my detachment rules. I played Space Marines to the absolute cutting edge.

I understand "simplified not simple" is a bit of a meme at this point, but I will defend the evil empire. Perhaps "all killer, no filler" would be a better statement. They have achieved this aim. It appears there are balance issues they'll need to address, but I'm happy with where the game is for the moment.

Catch you next time,

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