In this article Daniil takes us on a deep dive of how he won the recent London AOS Open. The event is next running on the 16-17 of October and tickets launch Friday 6th August at 2pm.
Before going over the list, I should first describe my playstyle. I like to have choices during the game (the less straight forward the list, the more I like it); I also like to castle (use zoning units to protect my main force and fragile units); and finally I like infantry based lists over big centre piece models. All of this means that while Archaon is an obvious choice for a tzeentch list at the moment, he does not fit my playstyle. This was the push for me to try and figure out a list that could potentially be as strong without using him.
GHB 2021 brought a lot of points increases for Disciples of Tzeentch, most were deserved (e.g. Flamers, wizards), some were not (e.g. Kairic Acolytes, Tzaangors). AoS 3.0 has also brought changes to the army composition, with slaves to darkness and beasts of chaos units now being coalition units instead of just being part of the Tzeentch faction. This has hurt some units, due to not being able to be the army’s general and no longer counting for minimum battleline, but helped beasts of chaos unit, as now they get the tzeentch keyword for free. Most importantly, warscroll battalions are no longer part of matched play, which removed the infamous changehost.
When building my list I took all of the above into consideration, but I also focussed on the was missions work in third edition. I can’t overstate how important the battle tactics are and making sure that the army can complete them is key. Let me go through different choices in my list and why I included them.
Allegiance: Tzeentch - Change Coven: Hosts Arcanum - Grand Strategy: Prized Sorcery - Triumphs:
Battleline 3 x Screamers of Tzeentch (100) in Battle Regiment 3 x Screamers of Tzeentch (100) in Battle Regiment 3 x Screamers of Tzeentch (100) in Warlord
I chose Hosts Arcanum as my coven, because it allows screamers to be taken as battleline and has an incredible compulsory artefact (The Fanged Circlet) that summons a unit of 6 screamers once per game at the start of the hero phase. Screamers got a 25% increase in points going from 80 to 100 in GHB 2021, however they are still a great choice and the cheapest battleline available in Disciples of Tzeentch faction.
Screamers are very fast - 16” move characteristic; decently durable - 3 Wounds each, Locus of Change (-1 to hit them if they are wholly within 12” of a Tzeentch Daemon Hero) and Entourage of Sky-Sharks Command Ability (Hero phase buff for 1 unit of screamers to get +1 save and rend -1).
Screamers also have some utility damage, but this is not their main purpose, they are very good at zoning out outflanks, teleports, moves, etc. This fits my playstyle well, as it enables castling, especially with hosts Arcanum command trait (Spell Hunters), which allows D3 units with FLY to move 6” before the first battle round.
Screamers also work very well to achieve battle tactics, namely Aggressive Expansion, Savage Spearhead, Conquer (if an objective is not heavily contested). They performed this job admirably during the weekend.
One last thing to mention for Hosts Arcanum is the subfaction ability, which allows one of the unbinds in turn 1, 3 and 5 to succeed automatically. This is very powerful in combination with a pre-game move to shut down important enemy powers T1, but can also be clutch during the game.
Leaders Kairos Fateweaver (435) in Warlord - Lore of Change: Tzeentch's Firestorm - Lore of Change: Fold Reality The Blue Scribes (135) in Battle Regiment - Lore of Change: Bolt of Tzeentch - Lore of Change: Fold Reality Magister on Disc of Tzeentch (150) in Warlord - General - Command Trait: Spell Hunters - Lore of Fate: Glimpse the Future - Lore of Fate: Arcane Suggestion Great-Bray Shaman (100) in Battle Regiment - Universal Spell Lore: Ghost-mist - Universal Spell Lore: Levitate Chaos Sorcerer Lord (115) in Warlord - Mark of Chaos: Tzeentch - Lore of Fate: Glimpse the Future - Lore of Fate: Shield of Fate
Endless Spells & Invocations Chronomantic Cogs (45) Soulscream Bridge (70) Umbral Spellportal (70) Now onto the Wizards, Kairos Fateweaver and Blue Scribes are a very popular duo in many Tzeentch lists and for a good reason. Kairos is a 3 cast wizard, who has the Mastery of Magic ability allowing him to change the lowest die roll to match the highest, when making a casting roll. He also knows warscroll spells of all friendly wizards wholly within 18” of him. This makes him a great anchor and a buffing piece for the rest of the army.
He has a spell which allows him to deal 6 mortal wounds to a unit within 18” (but you always take a spell portal, so the range is not an issue), and if it kills a model you set up a chaos spawn within 3” of the target unit. Dealing 6 mortal wounds at range is very strong and can complete Bring it Down, Slay the Warlord and Broken Ranks battle tactics (for an additional point, as Kairos is a MONSTER). Being a monster he can also complete Monstrous Takeover, which is crucial.
He also has a once per game ability to change a single die roll for you or your opponent (hit / wound / save / run / charge / casting / unbinding / dispelling / battleshock / damage), the uses for this ability are endless and can be game winning.
Blue Scribes are another utility wizard, as their warscroll spell is Boon of Tzeentch, which allows all Tzeentch Wizards wholly within 18” of them to re-roll casting rolls, this helps avoid the miscasts and makes the magic very reliable. Using Scrolls of Sorcery ability, instead of casting a spell normally, they can roll 1 dice and automatically cast said spell on a 2+, spell cast this way cannot be unbound. This allows me to force some key spells through without the opponent being able to stop them.
Magister on Disc of Tzeentch was chosen because I needed a non-unique Disciples of Tzeentch model to be the army’s general in order to get the aforementioned command trait. Magister has a spell which workslike Kairos’s spell, but it only does D3 mortal wounds, but still can create a spawn. Magister on Disc was chosen due to having FLY, which allows me to pre-game move him to be in range for T1 auto unbind.
Great Bray Shaman and Chaos Sorcerer Lord were taken due to their warscroll spells and cheap points cost. Shaman’s Devolve allows for a manipulation of enemy unit’s positioning, which has an endless list of uses. Sorcerer Lord’s Oracular visions and Daemonic Power helps buff the Chosen.
Endless Spell choices are decently straight forward, Umbral Spellportal is auto-take with Kairos in the list, Chronomantic Cogs amplify the utility of each wizard, but also generate a ton of fate points, which make this list a summoning machine with 12 decently reliable casts every turn if wizards stay together. Soulscrem Bridge is needed to make chosen work. Units 10 x Chaos Chosen (290) in Hunters of the Heartlands - Mark of Chaos: Tzeentch - Reinforced x 1 10 x Chaos Chosen (290) in Hunters of the Heartlands - Mark of Chaos: Tzeentch - Reinforced x 1
Chaos Chosen are the big wildcard in the list, which seemed interesting on paper, so I wanted to see if they could work in practice. Their biggest strength is the utility and ability to absorb buffs. In my list, half of the spells and abilities is in place to buff chosen one way or another:
Oracular Visions (+1 Save)
Mystic Shield (+1 Save)
Shield of Fate (Re-roll saves and ignore Spells on a 4+ if 7-9 Destiny Dice / Re-roll saves if 4-6 dice / Re-roll 1s to save if 1-3 dice)
Daemonic Power (Re-roll Hits and Wounds)
Agendas of Anarchy:
Ninefold Dismantlement (+1 to hit in melee if they kill a unit of 9+ models)
Overthrow Leaders (+1 Save is they kill a Hero)
Reckless Abandon (+1 Attack if they make a 9” charge)
Tides of Anarchy (Count as 2 models instead of 1 for objective control)
Soulscream Bridge (teleport)
Destiny Dice (pass bravery / Get the charge)
All of the above makes them both an Anvil and a Hammer depending on which buffs are in place. So they can be used in a variety of ways, while Bridge + Destiny Dice allows them to get a reliable delivery system, which they usually lack in Slaves to Darkness.
Terrain at The London OPEN 2021 has made a big impact on how the games were played. All of the terrain was Obscuring (Models are not visible to each other if a line passes over / through the terrain) and Impassable (Can’t place models where they would not otherwise fit, like floors of a ruined building). Mysterious terrain has not been used, which was a good choice in my opinion, because it was the first tournament for most players in AoS 3.0, so there was enough things to keep track of.
Obscuring and Impassable both hurt and helped my list in some ways, screening was made easier, but getting to backline objectives with screamers was harder. Keeping heroes alive was easier, but killing enemy heroes was harder. Overall I like these terrain changes and will pass my suggestions to Charles, so it can be even better for next time.
With changes to the missions, the tournament scoring also had to change. The London OPEN has used a differential system, where the difference in victory points determined the score:
Difference in VPs
This system has been used in other game systems before and is a good way to separate the scores as well as create incentive for people to keep playing even if they are getting defeated to get those all important tournament points.
The prizes for best general in weaker factions, especially Nighthaunt and Gloomspite Gits were one of the highlights of this weekend. Hugh Wyeth got the Biggest Git award, snatching it from Scott Hunter by 4 points and Dave Carter got Reikenor the Winhailer award by getting a whole win ahead of Scott Baker.
I played 5 interesting and fun games this weekend and want to thank all of my opponents this weekend and I was genuinely at a loss when it came to choosing one for my vote of best sports, as all 5 of them were absolute legends!
Game 1 (First Blood):
For the first game I played against Russell Taylor, who ran a Daughters of Khaine Hagg Nar list with Morathi and a unit of 15 Blood Stalkers. It is a very good list and Russell placed second this event. I had 1 less drop than Russell, so was getting the choice of who would be going first. Knowing this, Russell deployed very cautiously due to realising the threat range my teleporting chosen had. I responded by setting up defensively as well and gave him the initiative.
First several turns were in a standoff with each player claiming victory points, but I managed to do a redeploy in order to deny Russell a battle tactic, which meant he needed to be more aggressive. Unfortunately a gambit for a double turn did not pay off and I charged the bow snakes to claim the victory.
I feel like both of use could have played more aggressively that game, but the obscuring terrain threw us off, as we hid behind it half of the game.
Game 2 (Power Struggle):
Second game I was matched against Greg Harrington with his Skaven. He had a big unit of 60 Clanrats with hidden 4 Weapon teams (3 rattling guns and a warpfire thrower) all hiding in reserve using a warp grinder. The list was built to allow that combo to function well. Unfortunately the weapon teams have quite a short range, so can be screened out.
Greg had fewer drops than me and gave me the initiative after I deployed cautiously to screen out the potential alpha strike. So I proceeded to go aggressive and teleport a fully buffed unit of chosen to kill a lightning cannon and stormvermin. I also screened right side of the table, which meant that the weapon teams again were only in range of the screamers. Greg went for controlling half of the table, but I accumulated enough summoning points to get 3 flamers turn 2 and exalted flamer next turn to get through the horde of skaven.
Game 3 (Savage Gains):
Third round I faced Tom Bell and his Big Waagh with a fast and tough Maw Crusha as well as massed of Ardboys and Brutes. This was a tough game as both of us were exhausted by the start of it. The game was very tactical, because the abilities of the Big Waagh allowed Tom to unbind some of my crucial spells. I made a massive mistake on my second turn when I went for trying to kill the Mawcrusha on full wounds. I underkilled it by 4 wounds and it cost me a full unit of chosen and a whole turn of wasted output.
This meant that the game was going to be very close, as Tom still had plenty of units and I had summoning. I did manage to get ahead by getting 4 points from his home objective turn 3 by sacrificing my general and screamers. After that I doubled down into stalemating combat and chaffing up the mawcrusha to stop Tom getting back the points. The game ended with only 3 Victory Points difference and a tournament score of 11-9
Game 4 (Power in Numbers):
The next day after getting some rest I faced Max Soule, the winner of best painted award and his stunning Slaves to Darkness army. The list was built around Archaon and Be’lakor, it was a Despoilers sub faction, which gave Be’lakor a 5+ after save. It was a very interesting list and Max has played it very unpredictably, which made it all the more fun. Unfortunately the scenario favoured my list, as it had the mobility and tricks to get the objectives.
Bray Shaman was the star of the game, as Kairos used his Devolve to get Be’lakor out of position turn one and through a combined effort of Chosen and screamers, I managed to kill him. Chosen also managed to tag Archaon in combat and tanked him for 2 turns with all of their buffs up. I also managed to pull chaos warriors off an objective and proceeded to burn Max’s backfield objectives, while summoning pink horrors to hold my backfield.
Game 5 (The Vice):
Last round I faced Ben Murphy on the top table. He had a Soulblight Gravelords list with Nagash and 30 graveguard. It was a tough list to face, because Nagash can stop my summoning machine decently well with 8 unbinds with a +3 modifier. However I do have tricks in the list to stop him casting reliably too. Being the only player on 4-0, I knew that I could play for the tie and still get the first place, so was pleased to see Ben deploy very defensively, this was mostly due to the objectives starting on the back board in the Vice and Ben had very few units to capture them with.
I deployed defensively as well and we had a standoff for a couple of turns which allowed me to get my summoning points up. I also managed to get a unit of blue horrors onto his objective turn 2 to get ahead by 1 point. This meant that Nagash had to go out of position to deal with them and recapture the point.
Turn 3 I managed to devolve the unit of 30 grave guard to run backwards towards a previously positioned spawn on his back board. This meant that they were not in position to hammer into my army which all jumped onto the middle objective on turn 4, which allowed me to take the win by getting the primary points. But Ben got a some retribution by getting the hand of dust off and killing Kairos with it.
The London OPEN was a great event, the venue was fantastic, plenty of space and an easy to get to location. I greatly enjoyed meeting everyone after a long lock down and sharing some fantastic games of Age of Sigmar. I want to thank Zach and Charles for organising the event as well as all of the players for participating in it! I am very much looking forward to LGT and the next London OPEN in October.
Thanks Daniil. If you want to get your ticket to the next London Open, you can find out about the next event, here. Tickets on sale from Friday at 2pm.