Written Battle Report: Shadowkeepers vs Thousand Sons

Preface:

At time of playing/writing, Custodes are yet to recieve their well deserved nerfs. This game was an exercise in trying to build a game that would be enjoyable for my opponent, by building weaknesses that he can attack and interact with into the army, without building a completely useless force that neither of us would enjoy. Sadly finding this middle ground is an exercise that I have had to repeat with some regularity lately. This author at least, is waiting for the promised balance dataslate with great hope and anticipation.

That said, going into this battle I set myself some army building ground rules to make sure my opponent has a fun game facing the horrendousness that is the current Custodes book. No Trajann, no bikes outside the single bike captain, and since I have no desire to see my mortal dependent Thousand Son’s opponent cry, no Emperor’s Chosen 4+++ vs mortals.

With that in mind, I built a joint Shadowkeepers and Sisters of Silence force. The further I got into building this list, the more the idea of a Witchseeker force thrown together for an expedition into Thousand Sons controlled space to recover a relic to serve the shadowy agenda of the Shadowkeeper Shield Captain started to appeal to me. So the narrative was born.

Shadowkeepers

  • Leader of the Host: Eorl the Young, Shield Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike, titled the Lockwarden, of Superior Creation, carrying the Stasis Oubliette. Tip of the spear of the offensive against the witches.
  • Unstoppable Destroyer Fëanor, Shield Captain in the Praetorian Plate Terminator Armour, famed for his ironclad Impregnable Mind.
  • Knight Centura Elbereth, Mistress of Persecution, carrying the Excruciatus Flamer.
  • The Centura leads 5 prosecutors, 9 Witchseekers and an Anathema Psykana Rhino to the expeditionary force.
  • 2 squads of Sagittarum Custodes, a lone Allarus Custodian, one squad of Venatari, one squad of Wardens of the Vaults make up the body of the host.
  • When word of the possible presence of Magnus reaches Eorl, he requests the honoured entombed to walk. 4 ancient names answers his call. Elendil and Isildur, Galatus pattern, and Gil-Galad and Elrohir, Achillus pattern will stride the witching world.

Thousand Sons

  • Responding to the hated presence of the null-maidens and the unwelcome tread of auric boots on the witching world, Magnus himself descends to the field.
  • From the mists rise 2 squads of 5 rubric marines and a squad of 10
  • 2 squads of 5 Scarab Occult Terminators grind to their primarch’s side.
  • 10 Tzaangors make their braying appearance
  • Ahriman and 2 sorcerers marshal the Rubricae.

Mission:

We are playing mission 22 Conversion from the Nachmund 2022 mission pack.

Secondaries:

  • Custodes: Assassinate, Stranglehold, Abhor the witch
  • Thousand Sons: Raise Banners, Stranglehold, Psychic Interrogation

Turn 1

We both deployed relatively conservatively, his Terminators and Rubrics in the North outside of the charge range of my dreadnoughts and the pistols of the Venatari. My Witchseekers and Knight Centura start in the rhino. My katah’s are Calistus, Dacatarai, Kaptaris. I won the roll off to go first.

In my command phase I activate the Calistus stance to roll 2D6 drop one for advances. I advance my single allarus terminator onto the middle objective, fly my venatari up to touch the north west objective and advance the other sagittarum squad into the ruins behind them. My south west saggitarum walk up to my home objective to draw a bead on the rubrics opposite. The dreadnoughts, wardens and prosecutors shuffle around so I can keep hiding some infantry pieces to throw out one per turn onto the centre. The achillus dreadnoughts draw lines of sight on the top Scarab squad. I position the north galatus slightly forward of the rest, so I have a closest dreadnought to eat the smites and hopefully absorb a bunch of hate with the 5++ vs mortals strat.

The witchseekers get out of the rhino, get a big six on their advance to flood his south eastern objective. I fully expect them to get slaughtered next turn, but they have 2 very important objectives. Kill the tzaangors to prevent my opponent from gumming up the centre, and shut down his banner. They set up at maximum distance from the Tzaangors, with the Centura right behind to provide her auras. After disembark I throw the rhino forward to hopefully touch the 10 man rubrics and force my opponent to divert some of his central units to deal with the sisters.

The witchseekers immolate the tzaangors utterly, and the Centura picks up 2 rubrics with her Excruciatus flamer. My southern Sagittarum account for one more. On the North Side my sagittarum, Galatus and 2 Achillus dreads manage to pick up 4 rubric marines and 2 scarab terminators. In the charge phase my rhino manages to touch his southern rubrics, and is slapped for 2 wounds as a reward.

In his turn my opponent brings Magnus and his sorcerers forward to deal with the dreadnoughts. I explain the Praetorian Plate counts-as-4-obsec-models-teleporting captain’s shenanigans, which leads to some deliberation on where he wants to commit. He ends up playing fairly cagey, not moving into the middle yet until he’s dealt with my dreadnoughts. Rubrics raise a banner on his home objective. He lines up his middle scarab squad to deal with the witchseekers, and positions Magnus and the 2 sorcerers with lines of sight to my dreadnoughts. I help him measure out to make sure no model is in range of more than 1 sister’s squad debuff, and he keeps his psychic interrogation sorcerer just outside of the terminator captain’s deny.

Now all set to smite the unworthy from his sight, he gets to work. The centre scarab terminators get +1 to hit, the north terminators get -1 to hit and a 4++ invulnerable save. The bottom rubrics smite a couple of wounds off of the rhino. The allarus terminator takes 2 wounds, and after spending a CP to give my Galatus a 5+++ against mortals, a deny on a low smite, and some (un)lucky rolls he takes 4 wounds, down to 5. He tears secrets from the mind of my bike captain for 3 points.

I was expecting to lose at least the Galatus dreadnought here, so I feel quite lucky thus far. He spends CP to power up his central terminators and take aim at the witchseekers. He hands me 9 5+ saves on my 9 sisters. I figure if I make even one or two and force him to commit a bit more here, that would be quite nice.

Welp.

The rest of his shooting removes the allarus terminator on the central objective and knock another wound off my galatus, 4 remaining.

We both scored 2 on the mission, End of Turn 1, he got 3 on psychic interrogation, I got 3 on stranglehold.

Custodes 5: 5 Thousand Sons.

Turn 2

Time to roll the dice. I get my 8 on primary. I move out most of my forces into the open. If this turn flubs I’m going to be very exposed, smack bang in mortal range of a whole lot of hurt. He does not have whole lot of things standing between me and his characters, and if I get to them I can hopefully cripple his output. The three dreadnoughts in the middle charge forward, one of them getting reroll wounds of 1 from Wisdom of the Moritoi. My prosecutors move into the middle objective to get my stranglehold and to cover his whole northern force in the -1 psychic bubble. My shield captain moves as far forward as he can to give himself options into the characters if I manage to kill the scarabs. Northern sagittarum and Venatari moves into range of the scarabs. The southern Galatus moves forward to have something that can punch his final scarab squad next turn.

The scarabs evaporate in a storm of adrathic and kinetic destroyer fire straight through their layered defenses. The bike captain has free reign now, and puts 6 wounds onto his demon prince thanks to Lockwarden. In the south the knight centura picks up another 2 rubrics. I’m starting to suspect this flamer may actually be good.

The bike captain and the Galatus charges Ahriman, and he gets spitted immediately on the Interceptor lance. The Galatus consolidates into the foot sorcerer. I breathe an immense sigh of relief. Downing Ahriman is huge! I still have nightmares from a game with the 8th ed. Custodes dex, where Ahriman solo took down a full health Telemon straight through his 5++ vs mortals. Not this time Ahriman. This time you can sit down nerd.

I get my 3 stranglehold, 7 on abhor and 3 on assassinate. I’ve done a lot of damage, and taking down Ahriman (one of his main damage dealers) feels big. Now we just need to weather the storm.

He scores 8 on primary. He positions Magnus, the sorcerers and the demon prince to deal with the Galatus and bike captain. His centre scarabs walk up to kill the prosecutors and take the middle. He needs a big psychic phase here, and possibly a big melee phase. I fully expect to lose the captain and the galatus, and hopefully no more than one of the achillus to still be in good shape.

What follows is one of the worst psychic phases I have ever had the (mis)fortune to witness. Through cabal points and copious rerolls the man still managed to perils three times. Fortunately one was on Magnus, who cannot suffer perils of the warp. Between the prosecutors debuff, a very lucky 4+ deny and the impregnable mind captain flexing his rock hard brain, he only managed to reduce the bike captain to a single wound and the galatus to 2. The scarab terminators handily cleared the middle of prosecutors in a hail of inferno fire. (We later determined that he only managed to shoot a single soulreaper volley all game between the 4 guns in the list . He either killed his target with the bolters or lost the wielder before it got to shoot)

My knight centura finally succumbs to the rubrics in the south east.

Fight phase, make or break time.

Magnus charges the Galatus and the captain. The demon prince flies over the swirling melee to land behind the bike captain. The disc sorcerer lends his staff to finally killing the bike captain. Very unhappy with the shifting balance of power in the centre, the praetorian plate captain activates his teleporter to appear between the disc sorcerer and the demon prince.

The bike captain makes Magnus fight last. I’m hopeful of tanking the demon prince in the face, but I have no intention of losing the Galatus and the bike captain to a single model activating before either get to swing.

The demon prince roars and swings and falls flat on his ugly face against the combination of – 1 attack and only wounding on 4’s from arcane generic alchemy. Only 2 saves to make, and the bike captain has no intention of dying to some jumped up blue johnny. He swings back with half of his attacks (Conniving Plate says hi) and eviscerates the demon prince (turns out no invulnerable saves are very good against a 3++ for a turn. Who knew?). Magnus splits his attention between the Galatus and the captain. The captain finally goes down, but – 1 to hit from the Galatus shield, no rerolls from emperors auspice and a very lucky 4++ sees him shrug off the blade of Magnus. He only rolls a 1 on the extra mortals, and the Galatus lives on 1 wound. The sorcerer on disk swings and bounces of the Plate terminator captain. The Galatus puts all his attacks into the sorcerer he piled into the previous turn, reducing him to mist with 12 unsaved damage. The allarus captain decapitates the sorcerer on disk

End of the turn and all is dust. Unfortunately for my opponent, just not the kind that resides in gold and blue armour.

Somehow I ended up doing more damage to him on his own turn. Shadowkeepers are real good guys, especially if your opponent suddenly forgets how to do mortals with his psychic army.

I max out my abhor the witch in a single turn, go up to 12 on assassinate. My opponent got his 3 on psychic interrogation and 3 on stranglehold. We both got 2 on the mission. After the dust has settled (hehe) I scored 40 points this turn. Abhor the witch is totally a fair and balanced secondary, nothing to see here.

Custodes 45 : 22 Thousand sons

Turn 3

We roll out the fight vs Magnus and the terminators in the middle to see if any magic happen, but at this point the writing is on the wall. We both put our armies out there to go for the back breaking turn, but my back is only very lightly bruised.

Final score Custodes 100 : 62 Thousand Sons

Elrohir the Achillus puts his spear through the heart of the demon primarch, earning a name on his first outing as part of my army. The last scarabs are overwhelmed. The Shadowkeepers walk tactically victorious from the field, but with Eorl the Young severely wounded, and his entire sisters contingent dead, dying or otherwise incapacitated the Shield host’s strategic goals have been stymied. For now…

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