At the first Privateer Press Weekend at DieCon 8 I assembled my Protectorate of Menoth forces to take a stab at the Hardcore tournament format. I was happy with my army’s performance and would have been happy to run it again but I wanted something different. This year I turned to my Legion of Everblight forces, the Frostfang Brood, to see if I could lead them to similar success but first I had to build an army.
For me the first step in building a Hardcore list was to decide what I wanted to accomplish. Every round of a Hardcore tournament is an assassination game so there’s no building lists for scenario victories but it’s not uncommon for players to gear their lists towards winning one or more of the four Hardcore medals:
- Vanquisher – The overall winner who is undefeated at the end of the day
- Master Craftsman – The best painted army
- Mage Hunter – The fastest caster kill on the day
- Executioner – The most total victory points at the end of the tournament
Both the Executioner and Mage Hunter lists seemed too situational dependant on your match-ups from round to round for me to gear a list towards. If you face many infantry-heavy lists the VP-density of your opponents’ armies are going to make the former more difficult while the introduction of Hordes into the Hardcore environment at last GenCon makes the latter depend on who you face. Earning the Mage Hunter award is about killing your opponent quick – typically as one of the first models down. Hordes’ transfer mechanic means either you have to kill or lock down your opponent’s beasts before attacking the warlock or power through all their transfers to their healthy beasts. Both options consume precious time off the clock.
That left either the Vanquisher and Master Craftsman awards as possible goals but I knew that competition for either medal would be fierce. Last year I made it to the semi-finals before losing but managed to earn the Master Craftsman medal with my Kreoss-led list. I weighed my options but ultimately decided to try and shoot for repeating as Master Craftsman.
Once that decision was made, I started looking at my Legion warlocks to decide whom to take, but none of them popped like I wanted them to. My Legion forces are painted in a relatively monochromatic color scheme which looks cohesive but just doesn’t grab someone’s attention. That left me with only one option. Even though it meant a lot of painting before the convention I decided to get Epic Thagrosh ready. He was the largest and most intricate Legion model, and if I could paint him well he would serve as a centerpiece to anchor my army.
Choosing Epic Thagrosh meant I would be bringing a beast-heavy list but I was going to have some tough choices by making the quality of paint job a factor in what to pick. Looking at my beasts I immediately decided to bring my Nephilim Soldier and Raek. Any Legion player will tell you that the Raek isn’t the best beast in their stable but it’s one of my best looking beasts on the tabletop and so definitely had to go in this army. I also decided to add one of my Seraphs even though I’m not as happy with their paint jobs as I am with some of my other models. Seraphs are fantastic under Glory of Everblight and I felt I needed to make this compromise to make the list more competitive.
After adding a Shredder and Harrier for their animi, I felt the army needed a heavy to provide some hitting power. I knew immediately that I wanted to add Typhon to the list but realistically there was no way I was going to be able to finish both him and Epic Thagrosh both in time, especially not to a standard I wanted.
The Angelius would be great with Dragon Storm and the Nephilim Soldier’s Massacre but after looking at my Angelii and Carniveans I decided to go with a Carnivean instead. Even though the Carni lacks the Angelius’ maneuverability it sported a better paint job and so it made the list.
For solos I started with my easy picks – a Shepherd to direct frenzies and a Forsaken to help manage fury. Looking over the remaining models I decided on my two recently painted Deathstalkers. They would provide some first strike capabilities and serve as either distractions or harriers depending on what my opponents decided to devote to killing them.
The first unit I knew I wanted to bring was the Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew. Besides being paint jobs that I felt were good, I felt their smoke cloud would be almost required to keep Thagrosh alive if I came up against a ranged-heavy list.
I knew that I would be facing some fast, hard-hitting lists in Hardcore and if I didn’t have some sort of screen or speed bump my beasts would die well before they do their job. I thought about bringing Swordsmen or even Legionaries but after looking over my units I decided to go with my Warmongers. They’re bigger models and had a little more color on them that I felt would draw the eye on the tabletop. With the points I had left I added 4 Warmongers and a recently-painted Warchief to finish off the list.
Final Hardcore List
- Thagrosh, the Messiah
- Nephilim Soldier
- Strider Deathstalker x2
- Warmonger Warchief
- Warmongers x4
- Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
Strategy and Tactics
After testing my list a few times against other Hardcore and tournament lists I started to develop a feel for how it would play. Thagrosh and his beasts would be the primary assassins but needed help getting up field. With Deathstalkers to harass my opponent and hopefully pick off a few unit leaders and Warmongers serving as linebackers, I hoped to hold off my opponent just long enough to open a hole and shoot through to their warcaster. Having an Angelius instead of the Carnivean would have made this much easier but I wasn’t willing to switch them up so had to make do.
The Warchief and his Warmongers did a good job of holding up infantry (and sometimes cavalry) but against a lot of hard hitting infantry they melted quickly, leaving Thagrosh and his beasts relatively unprotected. Large based heavy hitters were also going to be a problem but I was willing to devote the Nephilm and Raek to being slam missiles to keep key pieces out of the fight. With Slipstream to reposition them before activating and Glory of Everblight to help overcome the -4 penalty to slam larger bases they proved flexible and effective in this role.
Even though my list was short on model count, the models I had could all dish out a lot of attacks. That combined with the short 7-minute turns of the Hardcore format encouraged me to take a do-or-die approach with my Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew. I decided to go ahead and deployed them right next to to Thagrosh at the start of every game and simply ignored my models with Abomination when positioning the Swamp Gobbers from turn to turn. If they fled, they fled, but I wasn’t going to spend precious time worrying about where they were going to stand. It’s definitely not the most competitive playstyle but I was resolved to have fun if nothing else.
Last but not Least…
In addition a secret weapon for my list that I haven’t mentioned here, but I’ll save that for the follow-up posts where I talk about how the list fared on the day. In the mean time I can definitely say that I was satsified with its performance overall. Epic Thagrosh made a strong showing and playing him was as much fun as I had anticipated.