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Friday, April 27, 2012

Kill Point Denial: Lists Intro and Space Marines

Before I get to talking about potential for different codices, I wanted to do a little introduction to the type of lists that you will see.  Each list will contain hard to kill units, units which are designed to grab easy kill points, and units which are designed for speed in contesting objectives.

Past that, most of the lists I am going to offer are merely concepts.  I have no clue if they will actually work as I have not played them all.  What I am doing is building lists around concepts, intended to exaggerate useful tactics or points.  If you really wanted to use a specific codex to build a kill point denial list, I would put a lot more thought into it than the little glance I am taking to show points.

Accordingly, I can all but guarantee you that most of the lists I will present here are probably terribly inefficient and also not very good.  To further prove the point, I will point out areas where I see weakness in the list along with strengths.  The idea here is a learning experience (for both you and me, really) not an exercise in providing you with powerful lists, something which I won't even guarantee is possible with every codex.

My path forward here will be to identify some very good choices in each codex and explain why.  Then, using those choices, construct a list that shows concepts, discussing its strengths and weaknesses.

Space Marines

One of the older books, Space Marines has a lot of sneakery that can be applied to kill point denial.  Just at a n initial glance, here are some units which really catch my eye for a KP Denial theme:


Korsarro Khan - He allows you to take bikes as troops and outflank.  First off, troop bikes are awesome because they are both your speed element and potential scorers.  They also bring a decent amount of anti-tank capability for each kill points.  Furthermore, Khan will allow to null deploy and come on where the enemy is weak.  Great choice!

Darnath Lysander - 4 Wounds, 2+/3++, and Eternal Warrior.  For those Paladin fans out there, I see a lot of potential here for a model that can join a unit, and be used to absorb those one off S8 and Ap2 shots.  Not to mention, he's a beast in combat.  A model like Darnath causes your opponent to have to bring something bigger than just an above average assault unit if he wants to dislodge you.  Grey Hunters just won't cut it!  He also has Bolter Drill which could be used in combination with normal terminators for anti-infantry positive kill point potential, and he also brings bolster defenses which can be used to increase cover saves.  All around great choice!

Marneus Calgar -Not as good as Darnath, but again, Eternal Warrior and a beast.

Librarian + Gate of Infinity - Very good choice!  Gate of Infinity could be used to run away from the enemy or used to contest objectives late game.  This package allows you to avoid dying as well as pigeon-hole an objective on the last turn.  The psychic hood doesn't hurt either!

Master of the Forge + Conversion Beamer - Here's a unit that has an incredible range on a weapon that can easily gib a tank.  This is a good thought as we can stay out of enemy range and still potentially pick up an easy kill point or two.


Terminators - 2+ save and ability to carry 2 x Cyclones in a 10 Man squad.  4 Missile Shots are great at picking up easy transport kill points.  Also, combine that with Storm Bolters, and we have a pretty good squad at taking down 5 man infantry squads for easy kill points.  Durable and positive kill point potential.  Throw in Darnath, and you are cooking with grease!

Assault Terminators - One of the major weaknesses of most KP Denial lists is what I call the "Storm Raven Charge".  These are generally GK or BA lists that charge forward to deposit a lot of scary assault units.  Bad if you don't have something to blunt them!  This is that something.


Tactical Squad - 10 men, and a long range tank busting weapon.  Not a bad choice here!  Have a decent kill point potential and ability to run, hide, and score.

Scout Squad - Camo-cloaks + cover = kill point denial at its finest.  Cheap, scoring, go to ground for a 2++.  You can also take a missile launcher for the potential, not great, at killing a transport.

Bikes - Another great choice!  Able to carry a multi-melta that can move!  Able to carry plasma weapons that can move and fire, thus being able to potentially pop a rhino and stay away from the enemy.  More importantly, they can turbo for a 3++ to contest and because they score, even claim!  Probably the best choice.


Bikes - See above.

Assault Marines - Again, 10 men with potential to move fast, stick around in a fight, and potentially grab a transport kill.  Not idea here, but workable.


Devastators - 10 x men with 4 ranged anti-tank weapons.  Great positive kill point potential!

Concept List: (2000)

Darnath Lysander
Korsarro Khan + Moondrakken

8 x Assault Terminators w/ TH/SS
10 x Terminators w/ 2 x Cyclones

5 x Scouts + Camo Cloaks + ML
5 x Scouts + Camo Cloaks + ML
8 x Bikes + 2 x Plasma Guns + Combi-Melta + Attack Bike + MM
8 x Bikes + 2 x Plasma Guns + Combi-Melta + Attack Bike + MM

Kill Points: 8

Positive Notes:

- You can potentially null deploy the whole army to deny your opponent many rounds of shooting.  Deep striking terminators, whole army outflanking, walking on, etc.
- Darnath goes with the normal Terminators most of the time.  He can absorb one off wounds.
- Khan and Bikes can outflank.  Come in via reserves, mostly outflank.  Bikes can take pot shots at transports at 24 inches to earn easy kill points, or turbo around terrain to stay alive.  Great for late game contesting!
- Khan can also break off late game to turbo-contest by himself or be used to wreck a small 5 man squad on a back-field objective!
- Scouts are great for holding your own objectives if needed and have a 2++ if they go to ground.
- The assault terminators are there to protect you from a "Storm Raven Charge" or very fast moving assault army.
- The normal Termies have 4 missile shots for easy transport killing and a lot of storm bolter shots.

Negative Notes:

- Against a very fast moving assault army, or drop army, you may find yourself in trouble as you have little to hold them back with.  This would be a case where you need 2nd turn and to null deploy.
- Against an army that brings a tremendous amount of anti-infantry, this type of list doesn't quite have the durability I would like to see.  It will be durable against most lists, but there will be some to which it is not.
- Won't play well against another KP Denial style list.

General Feelings:

Not a very good list!  It does point out some very useful tactics though!

One that is really worth mentioning is the idea of using Khan to break off an late game contest.  Using ICs for this capacity is generally great because it creates another unit you can contest with.

You can also combat squad your bikes if you feel like you can survive enemy fire to add even more contesting potential.

Many KP Denial lists have a "fire base" that needs to be protected from fast moving assault.  Your assault terminators and Darnath are there for this reason.  Your normal terminators will be a fire base (not bad in assault either!) and will need some amount of protection against certain list styles.

Kill Point Denial #5: Playing to the Concept

So far in this series, I have discussed useful definitions, why KP Denial lists work in multiple objective missions, and a few of the more important unit choice concepts like durability, positive kill point potential, and speed units.

The last article before I start examining possible Kill Point Denial lists in Article #6 is to talk about playing to the concept of the list.  This is the most important aspect of the concept.  If you take a Kill Point Denial style list but are not prepared to play to the concept, it will most likely either net you a very boring game or not much success.

The basic game plan of Kill Point Denial is to gather a few kill points, generally very low amounts, while not giving up any of your own.  This will easily win your the Kill Point portion of a multiple objective mission.  The second concept is to either tie all other objectives, attempt to win one more objective, or let the opponent have one, tie one, and win on a tie breaker which is generally victory points.

There are some fundamental play tactics that go into winning the game in one of the above ways.

1)  You are generally in control of the flow of the game.

The reason why you are generally in control is that you are most likely already winning the game before it even starts on kill points.  From there, you are building your plan to either tie or win a second objective.  In this manner, you will often have the capacity to direct where the battle will be fought, what objectives will be contested, and where your opponent will end up moving.

The reason why this is generally true is because your opponent is already on his back foot.  The advantage and confidence of going into a game knowing that you have most likely won if nothing else happens is tremendous.  Furthermore, generally, your opponent has built his list, play style, and had practice games which revolve around "how do I kill my opponent?"  Except against very seasoned players, this puts you at a further advantage because most opponents won't even know where to begin to react to an opponent that is actively seeking not to die.  For example, in order for brutal assault units to work, the enemy has to be engaged at some point, which, with careful practice you will realize, is hard to do when you are running away from them.

As a point, it is almost always in your favor to go second because you want to control the game.  This way, you can see where you opponent will place his easy kill points, know where to blunt or counter your opponents moves, and more importantly, give you the last turn so you can use your speed units to contest objectives at the very end of the game while not giving up kill points.  The last point there is the most critical.

2)  Kill Point Denial doesn't really kill stuff

This is a fundamental principle more than anything else.  You have to clear your mind of all the strategy and tactics you have developed over the years about how to most effectively annihilate your opponent.  Most of us have a repertoire of tricks, traps, and tactics that we have learned on how to best put our pieces into position to maximize the damage they do to the enemy.  We have learned basic concepts like target priority, combined attacks, and bating traps used to knock our opponent's models off the table in the best way possible.

Kill Point Denial style is an entirely different kung-fu.  Useful tactics here don't revolve around destroying the enemy.  Useful tactics revolve around preventing the enemy from killing your units and ways to contest objectives.

Things like setting up screens, move + run AWAY, hiding weak units behind terrain, turbo-boosting for last turn objectives, using assaults to drag opponents off of objectives or to position yourself onto them for contesting, bating your opponent to one side of the board, keeping your opponent out of range, etc. are all ways in which Kill Point Denial works.

One of the real advantages here, as listed above, is that you will be playing a different kind of game than your opponent in most cases.  You also have the advantage of generally having had a lot of experience playing the type of game your opponent wants to play.  This means that you are generally much more capable of predicting what he will do than he is predicting what you will do.  (This of course doesn't work against very seasoned players.)

3)  Setting up Objective Opportunities

As stated earlier, one of the key components of Kill Point Denial is the last turn objective contest/grab.  This isn't always the case, but in a lot of lists, it will be.  To effectively do this, your mind set needs to be one of setting up Objective Opportunities.

For example, one very useful tactic I have found is what I call the bait and switch.  Take a core part of your army to one side of the board, generally out of range of enemy fire.  For a "kill 'em all" player, this means he will move to that side of the board to try and kill you.  This generally sets up objective opportunities on the other side of the board for your speed units.  More often, what will happen is your opponent will end up leaving a very weak unit or two to hold objectives while he advances on you.

Another very important tactic is using the fact that the game will end to stop your opponent's forward aggression.  For example, one very popular Space Wolf list that I commonly run into, what I call the "Kopach" list, generally involves a bunch of Rhinos with larger squads of Grey Hunters backed by Long Fangs.  (There is usually a scout squad or 2 as well).  This type of list really relies on you to stand your ground to fight with it.  If you, however, run from it for several turns, eventually, what will happen is that the Space Wolf player will be forced to stop his forward movement in order to back-track or guard objectives that litter the board.  He may continue with a couple of units, but this significantly weakens his front and makes it now very risky for him to send just a portion of his army into the fray while the rest is trying to take objectives in turns 4+.

Armed with that kind of knowledge, you can begin setting up the avenues with which you will contest objectives with your speed units or attempt to force a tie to win on Victory Points.  (If shrugging off 15 missiles a turn for 5+ turns isn't very easy for your army to do, you need to revisit the toughness of your list as a whole)

The important take away here is to think about how your opponent will play and how to set up opportunities for you to take or contest objectives late game.  This combined with point #1 is usually the major power behind a kill point denial strategy.


Just like any other strategy, there is no guaranteed win behind the entire kill point concept.  (That should be a given.  If there was a perfect list and perfect way to play, we'd all be doing it.)  Kill Point Denial lists and strategy though will generally produce very close, "skin of your teeth" style games where you eek out wins on the last turn through objective contesting.

If the concept of playing a very strategic game of 40K intrigues you more so than the concept of annihilating your enemy, it's something that is worth a shot.  If not, you may find KP Denial lists to be very boring to play as there generally isn't a lot of action in the games until the final turns.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

BAO Format Tournament Management Suite Beta 1.1

In further testing of Beta 1.0, I found a critical error when scheduling tournaments for greater than 10 players. The algorithm used to schedule players was causing the program to run out of available memory trying to find the best possible of all possible scheduling permutations.

So, I revisited the algorithm as a whole and came up with a much smarter method which will still work through all possible permutations to find the best scheduling match possible but does so in order rather than all up front, thus no memory issue.

This method of scheduling I call the "bubble" method. The concept is to first "pure" pair all participants by their current battle points. Then sort that list.

Then starting at position 0, begin working the way down the list, finding the first possible match (as in not played before and not in the same group). When found, mark for both. Move to next position and start searching down the list again with the next position + 1. Continue doing this. If a conflict occurs where it is not possible to find a match, bubble up to the previous match and re-match the previous but starting at the last match + 1 in the list. Continue this process till a solid schedule is found or until you have completely bubbled back out of the list. If a complete bubble occurs, perform the same algorithm, this time only rejecting "played before". If still bubbles out, reject only "groups". If still bubbles out, scheduling is impossible so just return the Pure pairing.

I corrected a major issue where player passwords were not being correctly accepted to enter in scores.

I also added some more notifications to file creations to inform you of what kind of file you are creating rather than just showing you a save file dialog.

Download Beta Version 1.1 here:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BAO Format Tournament Management Suite

Over the past couple of months, I have been building the tournament management suite that we will be using to run the 2 RTTs at X-Con 2012 in May.

This software is designed to run battle points (can do win/loss as well with some creating scoring) tournaments which use the Bay Area Open GT Format for utilizing all 3 book missions in play as objectives for a single mission.

This suite also handles Sports Scoring, Appearance Scoring, Generalship Scoring, and Best Overall, including a lot of variations and options.

The entire suite is also designed to run a completely paper free tournament which can be nearly hands off for a tournament organizer, allowing players to register themselves, enter in their own round scores, sports scores, and collect appearance judge scores, using various applications and files, into the final scoring portion of the main program.

A very rudimentary document is included in the zip file which explains most of the details.

This software is currently in Beta Version 1.0. It's working, but I haven't fully tested it yet to work out any bugs. Also keep in mind that I didn't idiot proof it either. So, there are several ways I'm sure you can crash the program by doing inappropriate actions.

Feel free to use. If you find any bugs, send me an e-mail:

I will release a new version when I finish full out testing and bug fixing.

Here's where the zip file is:

I should mention these are .NET applications. So, will require .NET Framework 4 (probably) and most likely won't work on a Mac, as I don't think there is a .NET Framework download for Mac? Dunno! Not a Mac guy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kill Point Denial and Multiple Objective Missions / The New Power List Pt 4

In part 4 of this series, I will cover two more principles of building an effective Kill Point Denial list. Part 1 of this series introduced the concept and definitions including the key point that Kill Point Denial relies heavily on the Multiple Objective Mission format. The second article discussed the reasons why Kill Point Denial has great advantages in these style missions. The third article introduce the first principle of Kill Point Denial, using and identifying units that are "tough" and won't give up kill points.

Positive Kill Point Potential

Not giving up Kill Points by utilizing some tough units is only part of the process. To win at Kill Points, you still have to have a way to claim your own. When you combine a list's potential to not give up kill points plus claim some, you need to have a strong positive kill point potential. This is a more or less subjective measure on a list's ability to pick up some kill points while not giving any up. This is subjective because it varies from match-up to match-up, based on dice rolls, and a whole lot of other factors. (What does't in 40k?)

Increasing your Positive Kill Point Potential

One good way to do this is to include units which are very good at taking down light armor. Since the 5th ed. paradigm is to run heavy transport lists and since transports are generally "not tough" (see article 3), they give up easy kill points. Thus, one way to pick up easy kill points would be to specifically target these style vehicles with your list. The concept is you snipe out a few easy transport kills which ups your kill points while not giving away any and gain a substantial kill point lead. At that point, you are free to focus on other objectives or just running away for the win.

Another good way to pick up some easy kill points is designed around units which can take down small, 5 man squads with solid anti-infantry fire. Again, this is abusing the MSU paradigm. Since you know that a lot of your opponents will be utilizing small squads in their lists, design some anti-infantry shooting around taking them out easily. This is basically the same concept as aiming for easy to kill transports but just aiming for troops instead.

GENERALLY, aiming for transports is the smarter option because this will deny your opponent mobility which is tactically good for avoiding assaults as well as competing for another objective in the mission.

Foot units like 10 man devastator squads are both tough due to squad size as well as add a lot of positive kill point potential in their ability to take down light armor. It's very easy for 4 lascannons, for example, to kill a Rhino, netting a quick KP. The enemy has to dump a lot of fire into devastators to take them out, and when things get scary, they just pack up and run for terrain. ALL OF THAT creates a positive kill point potential.

Second Objective Plan

A solid KP Denial list should find winning at Kill Points to be extremely trivial through a combination of list and tactics. However, to really be successful with a KP Denial list, I have found that you absolutely need to include a plan for how you will score a 2nd objective in a multiple objective mission.

The reason for this is that this gives you options to win the game rather than just tie. Overall, then, this increases the tactical flexibility of your entire game plan.

Second Objectives change from tournament to tournament. How will you know what you need to do? Read the tournament primer and make a decision. Here are a few tips.

Speed units are a great way to contest and/or control objectives. This generally includes unit which can turbo-boost, move flat out, or are "tar pit" style units with 18-24 inch charge ranges. These units excel at doing things like contesting your opponent Cap&Control objective on the last turn to force him into a loss on that objective or simply contesting Seize Ground objectives to PREVENT your opponent from winning on that objective. Basically, units which can quickly re-deploy elsewhere on the battlefield while also using their speed to make them "tough" to avoid assaults and shooting with terrain.

(KEY POINT: Always remember that in multiple objectives, the game is not just to claim objectives but you can also win by denying your opponent the ability to get objectives)

Outflanking, back field, and reserve manipulation units are also very good here. Again, this tends to focus on contesting objectives. Just be very careful that you aren't giving up easy kill points just to have an out-flanking unit. Also, Deep Striking works very well here.

A more advanced tactic is the tar pit unit, just in general. These are the types of units which can engage in a close combat that will essentially last the entire game. Thus, they don't give up kill points, but more importantly, they prevent enemy units from moving away from the combat. This has many benefits if deployed properly. The first is, if you can tar pit a unit on top of an objective, the objective will be contested for the rest of the game. Likewise, if you can tar pit key enemy units, you can prevent them from getting to any objectives on your side of the board to assaulting your units.

The Short is, you need a plan

The key to the principle here is having a plan about how you will go about getting that 2nd objective. More importantly, it is having a plan above and beyond just winning the game on kill points.