James' Ad Mech - 9CP - 2000 pts
Tech Priest Dominus - Logi Holy Order - Warlord: Necromechanic
Tech Priest Manipulus - Artisans Holy Order
Tech Priest Enginseer
Skitarii Marshall - Exemplar's Eternity (Extra Warlord Trait: Firepoint Telemetry Cache)
20 Skitarii Rangers
20 Skitarii Vanguard
10 Skitarii Vanguard
5 Sicarian Infiltrators
10 Sicarian Ruststalkers - (Extra Relic: The Omniscient Mask)
3 Sydonian Dragoons - Taser Lances
3 Sydonian Dragoons - Taser Lances
5 Pteraxii Sterylizors
4 Kastelan Robots
Captain on Bike: Storm Shield, Power Fist, Dominus Aegis
Primaris Bike Chaplain: Wise Orator, Paragon of their Chapter: Ultramarines, Beacon Angelis, Catechism of Fire, Recitation of Focus
Jump Librarian: Fortified with Contempt, Promorphic Resonance
Fortis Killteam: 5x Assault Bolt Rifles Intercessors, 5x Assault Plasma Hellblasters, Malleus
Indomitor Killteam: 5x Heavy Assault Bolt Rifles Heavy Intercessors, 3x Flamestorm Aggressors, 2x Plasma Inceptors
Proteus Killteam: 5x DW Veterans, 3x Veteran Bikers, 2x THSS Terminators
Relic Contemptor Dreadnought: 2x Vulkite Caliver
Primaris Apothecary: Selfless Healer, Tome of the Ectoclades
With my first run out of the new codex, I can adamantly say I know how Joe’s army works better than mine! I haven't tried to build a specific list with any major strengths or weaknesses and have tried to take more of a “take all comers” list. My aim over the next few weeks/months is to learn what the army can do and how it operates and then add layers of abilities onto it. With that in mind, I've taken some units I really love. A big unit of Ruststalkers, lots of Dragoons and all the Tech Priests.
For secondaries I've taken Engage On All Fronts, While We Stand We Fight (The Kastelans and both Units of Dragoons) and Raise The Banners High. The Robots are very resilient and im hoping with the movement and now increased save of the Dragoons they can survive well into the late game.
Going into this game, I was more than a little worried. Everything I’ve read about Ad Mech makes it seem as though this is going to be an uphill battle from the very beginning. Thankfully, James doesn’t have a plane, if he did this game would have been over before it began! With this in mind, it seemed best to try and play a non-interactive game as much as possible. So, picking secondaries I went with To The Last, Raise the Banners, Engage on All Fronts.
Grand Tournament 2020
21 Surround and Destroy
I win the roll off so that means I’m going first. We start with the now very enhanced Ad Mech Command Phase. I activate Data-Tether on the large Vanguard and Ranger units from both the Dragoons. The Tech Priest Enginseer uses Awaken The Machine Spirit on the Dunerider. I use the Bulwark Imperative Doctrine and Shroudpsalm canticle. I put the Logi Initial buff onto the Rangers and the Galvanic buff onto them as well.
I cautiously move up with my left flank, my Infiltrators go Intercessors hunting. I put the Phosphor Blasters from the Kastelans into the Intercessors up in Joe’s deployment zone and they don't manage to do much. I'm not really in line of sight of an awful lot more so I wasn't planning on doing much damage this turn. My shooting phase kind of goes as expected and is pretty non-existent.
Into the charge phase - my Infiltrators charge into the Intercessors and I use both the Assassin Constructs and Chain-Taser Protocol stratagems. They swing into the Intercessors and I roll 6 5+ to hit and get a silly amount of hits (I think we worked it out as almost double what is on their data sheet) and after the wounds and saves are rolled all five have been slain. This is great, I’m already pressuring Joe on this side of the board and I’ve hit half of one of his three While We Stand targets.
Not a terrible start, let's see how Joe responds.
James’ turn 1 goes about how I would expect. The infiltrators effortlessly trade up to an almost silly degree, luckily most of my army is out of LoS so his shooting achieves nothing of note. I know now that if I can make a big play, I can maybe try and claw this down before James runs away with it… Well, that’s the plan anyway. I position both my Gravis killteam and the dreadnought to get LoS onto the Kastelan robots. Being worth over 400 points, if I can knock those out, that’s a big swing. My Captain picks to ignore their cover, my army goes into tactical doctrine and I pop my reroll wounds relic… Time to see what we can do.
Shooting pops off and the robots are killed to a man by the sheer amount of rerolling firepower and some admittedly lucky rolling. This might just keep me in the game, having cleared James’ flank and giving me a chance to push up. On the opposite side of the map, my Vanguard Veterans push into his infiltrators… And do absolutely nothing thanks to the no reroll’s effect they have, before dying horribly.
Looking at my odds at the end of this turn, I can realistically already tell I’ve lost this game. With the damage output that James’ basic troops can put out, his clap-back is going to be more than I can handle, and I think this is going to show the crux of Ad Mech… Everything is a little undercosted.
So the good news: my Infiltrators haven't died. The bad news: I lost ALL 4 of my Kastelan Robots - that's a 420 point unit that didn't manage to do anything, even with its 2+ save and 7 wounds a model! I know Joe's Gravis Kill team is powerful but it really popped off in that turn! The combination of ignoring cover, +1 to wound and Tactical Doctrine proved too much for my Robots.
Straight into my Command Phase, both large Skitarii units get the Data-Tether buff, the Rangers get the Analysis of the Logos initial part and the Skitarii Cover save on them and the Galvanic Field buff from the Manipulus. Talk about sticking it all on one unit. I use Benediction of the Omminsah and Protector Imperative Doctrina. The Skitarii Marshal uses his Data-Tether to put his Control Edict onto the Dragoons who will ignore the depreciation effect of the Doctrina this turn.
I move the Dragoons and Dunerider in the middle further into the middle of the board, my Dragoons on the right flank advance up that side ready for a charge the next turn. The 20 man Vanguard unit runs up out of cover and the Ranger unit shuffles across slightly. I'm hoping with these two units at almost full strength, I should be able to kill or at least heavily dent the Gravis team. In the middle of the board the central Dragoons may be able to make a charge onto his bikes and push him off that objective. That’s the plan anyway!
Into the shooting phase - I start off with the Vanguard and use the Enriched Rounds stratagem. Unfortunately they only manage to kill 1 and half of the Gravis team thanks to some good rolling from Joe. So I switch over to the Rangers and activate the Galvanic Volley stratagem. The Rangers are much more impactful and his Gravis team is left with only 4 left. My Rangers killed a mighty 5 with their buffed rifles. I can really see the combo of the Manipulus and that stratagem coming in strong here. The Pteraxii drop down in the top right ready to flame his Veteran Vanguard squad in response to the loss of the Infiltrators, but they only manage to get 1 wound through the combined Storm-shield and cover saves.
A pretty solid return strike, it felt bad losing all the Kastelans but I've punched his two anchor units leaving him with only half of his kill teams remaining. My Pteraxii jumped away with booster thrust and my infiltrators used the stratagem to go into reserves.
Told ‘ya. Now this is going to come across as a slight-bit of salt, and maybe it is? But I honestly don’t think that 35 Skitarii should be able to so effortlessly wipe out 6 T5 bodies, with a 2+, 5++, 5+++ -- Yet here we are! Going into my turn 2, I know the game is over, I just don’t have enough left to actually change the game-state, and from here on it’s just a case of clawing back points.
I bring a Gravis marine back with the Apothecary, and then move them forward with as many buffs as I can layer on them. They’re dead next turn regardless, but I need them to do some work this turn to at least get me some points. They line up to shoot the rangers with their flamers, who were absolutely the biggest target, and then charge into the dragoons hiding behind a wall. My second half of Vanguards drops down to try and pressure James’ backfield where one of his characters has been left unprotected. The Hellblasters move to line up shots into his infiltrators that the first unit of Vanguard fail to kill turn 1.
All things considered, my shooting goes well. With the combined fire of the flamestorm aggressors and plasma inceptors I clear out the rangers, and the vulkite dread takes a chunk out of the vanguard. My hellblasters open up and annihalate some poor infiltrators who thought their cover save would protect them.
Charge phase opens up and the Gravis team makes it into the walkers. Thanks to their power-fists and the premorphic resonance power negating the -1, they go big and the poor chickens are ripped apart, an important point as that’s now two of James’ To The Last targets down. I feel like maybe I’m clawing it back at this point...
The Dragoons make their charge and I activate Chain-Taser Protocol stratagem on them. They wipe out the bike/terminator kill team. Despite them not being able to taser off of a 4+ anymore, they are still very solid with the additional attack which I think more than makes up for it.
A pretty solid return strike, it felt bad losing all the Kastelans but I've punched his two anchor units leaving him with only half of his kill teams remaining. My Pteraxii jumped away with Booster Thrust and my Infiltrators used the stratagem to go into reserves.
Joe’s Gravis team is alive and kicking with his Apothecary bringing back another one. He hit back and killed one of my units of Dragoons. But I still have the other unit of Dragoons and my Rustalkers, who now jump out of the Dunerider. My Vanguard move towards the remainder of his Gravis team to help put their Rad-Saturation de-buff onto them for the ensuing charge from the Ruststalkers. If I can eliminate them this turn, that’ll be a big swing my way and eliminate 5 of those While We Stand points. My remaining Dragoons move up on the right flank again - hoping to get a charge and do what the Pteraxii failed to do last turn.
I put the Fire Point Telementry Cache Skitarii Warlord Trait onto the Dragoons and activate the Conqueror Doctrina. I put the Invocation of Machine Might Canticle in play.
My shooting has severely diminished so it mostly goes by unnoticed. My Pteraxii manage to kill Joes “action monkeys” - the Servitors but otherwise nothing significant happens. It's fine though - we’re all here for the Ruststalkers!
They multi-charge the Intercessors, Apothecary, Captain and Gravis Team. I use the Assassin Constructs stratagem and assassinate his Apothecary and decimate the remainder of his Gravis Kill team. They don't quite manage to kill the Captain but they do strip off a few wounds. I tag his Contemptor so when he shoots he’ll be forced to shoot them and not my Dragoons. In the Captain’s retaliation I only lose 2 Ruststalkers.
My Dragoons then attack into his Vanguard Veterans and with Chain Taser Protocol they finally finish them off. Overall it's been a very successful turn 3 and with any luck going into turn 4 I can really push Joe on the ropes.
Never mind… The Ruststalkers once again prove how bonkers ridiculous they are, effortlessly cutting through my Gravis team despite T5 and a 5++/5+++. At this point, I don’t have much left that can really affect the game-state, and my resources are running low. However, it’s not the end of the world as I do have the tools to knock out the big Ruststalker threat. The Contemptor lumbers up and unloads into them, killing 7 of them outright and nipping that in the bud. Unfortunately it’s not quite what I really needed, as this is swiftly becoming the issue. With every unit in the Ad Mech book being a threat, I am constantly dealing with one threat before the next arrives to remove another chunk of my army, and to get in the way!
So the Contemptor is really starting to be a nasty piece of work! Killing 7 of my Ruststalkers, he's run his Librarian out and he helps finish off the Vanguard with a smite. His Vanguard Veterans in my deployment zone are really hurting my left side of the board, my Manipulus has bitten the dust too. Elsewhere in the centre, Joe's last unit of Intercessors has slipped through my lines and charged the Dunerider. With them fighting he has managed to consolidate into the objective - a really good trick utilising all the movement from the pile in and consolidate moves you get in the fight phase. A really good move from Joe to try to keep him in the game as it knocks off my Banner here and nets him his Engage On All Fronts points - embarrassingly my Tech Priest Enginseer misses both his attacks!
Joe’s really hurt my remaining assets this turn, but I think with the Pteraxii to come down and my second unit of Dragoons still alive I should be able to clear him out of the middle of the board.
I use the Aggressor Imperative Doctrina and the Invocation of Machine Vengeance Canticle. My remaining characters converge onto the Librarian and my lone Ruststalker Princeps boldly holds the objective. The Pteraxii have jumped down with their flamers pointed at the Captain and I move up 13” with my Dragoons ready to charge his Captain if I fail to kill him in shooting. One way or the other I should be able to get him down.
The Pteraxii do just that in my shooting phase. But my characters barely scratch the Librarian. I decide I definitely need him gone and charge with both the Marshall and the Dominus. My Dragoons fail the charge even with a 3d6 picking the highest roll! The Pteraxii however, manage to make it into the Intercessors with four able to make attacks. They're amazing models but they are very fiddly to try to get into base to base contact. Definitely something I need to practise with.
They do manage to finish the rest of the Intercessors, but unfortunately on the other flank I lose my Skitarii Marshall as both my characters fail to hurt the Librarian.
Joe’s Contemptor is continuing to show its muscle, killing all three Dragoons effortlessly in his turn 4! He’s also managed to wound Kandor Palimos! Who triumphantly falls back and... away...
I don't use a Doctrina as there are none left to pick and for the canticles I pick Incantation of the Iron Soul. My final turn is a bit of a run and hold objectives. My Pteraxii flock around his Contemptor, my Dunerider drives onto the far right objective and both Tech Priests hold an objective each.
The Pteraxii wrap around the Contemptor, it’ll probably kill them but fingers crossed I can hold onto a few objectives to deny Joe his 15 primary in his last turn. This last turn is a bit too close to call - I really don’t have much left!
Much like James, I don’t really achieve much this turn. I score 15 on primary, raise a couple of emergency banners and then score engage for 2 more points!
Post game Thoughts
Joe's Deathwatch list always surprises me with how much damage it both does and can take. I'm used to Marines but it still surprises me. It's a really well constructed list. My poor Kastelan Robots, they barely got a showing! My instinct is they're probably not worth their points. Unfortunately, they're just too expensive at over 100 points each! My secondary choices I felt were okay OTHER than While We Stand We Fight. In hindsight this was a mistake to take as I was never going to hold my Dragoons back and the Kastelans have got a big “I'm worth ¼ the army” stamp on their head.
I still think the Kastelans could be good, possibly as a different Forgeworld - maybe Ryza or Lucius but without stacking every single buff on them I do struggle to see how they are worth their points.
However, the Ad Mech felt amazing to play. Really powerful, really flavourful and exactly how I wanted my Ad Mech to play. I've been running a more melee centered list for a lot of the 8th Ed Codex and it has struggled in previous games. It's been great to finally get them on the table again and try out their new toys. Which are very strong toys I might add!
This game on score, looks a lot closer than it was. James scored zero on one of his secondaries, and if he had taken… Literally anything else, he would have really ran away with this game. Playing against Ad Mech is everything I expected it to be! I never particularly liked facing them before, and I can’t say that’s changed much with this new codex. Is it fluffy and interesting, with multiple combo’s and awesome strategems? Absolutely. But, it’s also a codex where nothing in your army is dead-weight, and everything trades up with minimal CP expenditure. Along with this, I can’t help but agree the robots are simply dead-weight, lacking the same support as the rest of the book and I feel it further illustrates my earlier point. Not many other armies can lose around 500 points in the first turn, and still win, yet thanks to the horrendous nature of Ad Mech troops, that’s exactly what James did!
I think the man barrier to entry with Ad Mech is the ludicrous monetary cost of the models, which is fine by me, because having to play these regularly at tournaments will be... Unpleasant.
Apologies for some of the more Dark Photos - Our lights died and it makes a big difference!