Image courtesy of JD Hancock

As tournaments go, I usually run horde armies. With the coming of the new year, it was time to try something different: a low-model-count build for Coastal Assault Lite, a local tourney that was sporting BAO-style missions. I envisioned running something fresh, from my perspective, and hard-hitting. I love running helbrute fomations, but I could not get a chaos/helbrute build dialed in that met the tourney restrictions. As such, I turned to the next best build: a dreadnought-heavy army using the Space Wolves’ Champions of Fenris supplement. CoF allows for up to 8 Elite slots. Since Space Wolves include the dreadnought Bjorn as an HQ selection, I nabbed him up (his cost makes Typhus seem cheap, but Bjorn does bring a lot to the table: an invul save [rare for dreads], strong BS and WS, Strength 10 AP2 melee attacks, and an instant death ray in the Helfrost. To fill my Elites, I dialed up 6 venerable dreads in various configurations: 2 axe/shield combos (3++ on front facing armor, and 4 str 10 master-crafted attacks on the charge), two gun dreads for the backline, and a motley mix of anti-armor and infantry. Murderfang topped off my metal militia; he is a beast in combat, with Rage, Rampage, It Will Not Die, and a ton of attacks…But no invul or even smoke launchers, so he is a bit of a glass cannon.  I added an Aegis line to offer a cover save for my gunline dreads.

To recap the list:

Champions of Fenris: Company of the Great Wolf

  • Bjorn w/ Helfrost
  • Murderfang, Drop pod w/ Deathwind launcher
  • Axe/Shield venerable dread, Drop pod w/ Deathwind
  • Axe/Shield ven dread, Drop pod w/ Deathwind
  • Ven dread, helfrost, Heavy flamer
  • Ven dread, Multimelta, Heavy flamer
  • Ven dread, dual autocannons
  • Ven dread, Lascannon, Missile launcher
  • Thunderwolf cavalry (3); storm shields and melta bomb
  • Drop pod x2 (w/ Deathwinds)
  • Aegis line
  • Culexus Assassin
1850 of Champions of Fenris: Dreadnoughts and friends.

1850 of Champions of Fenris: Dreadnoughts and friends.

The addition of five drop pods gave my dreads some quick-hitting options (two of which filled Fast Attack slots; the other three being attached to Muderfang and the two ‘sword and board’ dreads, respectively). I kitted each pod with the Deathwind missile launcher, as besides including heavy flamers and 1 lone missile launcher on my dreads, I did not have a lot of horde reducing firepower. The deathwind fits the anti-horde bill, and the str 5 wouldn’t pose much of a threat to my dreads in the event it scattered off target.

Lacking speed, I dropped in a barebones squad of Thunderwolf cavalry. Their mobility would be well needed as a late-game objective cleaner, and rending on their melee attacks can take care of just about any threat. I opted to spend the additional points for melta bombs and storm shields on each cavalry member.

With roughly 150 points left over, I initially reached for an Iron Priest on thunderwolf mount. The priest can repair damaged dreads on a 5+, hits hard with a str 10 combat attack, and can bring a trio of cyberwolves along for ablative wounds. However, with five turns on average for each game, I could only hope for 1, maybe 2 repairs. As such, I went with a rather unorthodox Culexus Assassin, as I expected to come across some psychic-heavy builds at some point in the day.

With 1850 on the nose, I was set.


Game 1:
vs Kevin’s DraigoStar
BAO scenario 1:
Dawn of War; Primary Mission = modified Emperor’s Will; Secondary Mission = modified Maelstrom, Bonus = Fist Blood, Linebreaker, Slay the Warlord

Dropping in to say HI

Dropping in to say HI! The Culexus landed at top center.

Once I saw my opponent’s army, I was damned glad that I included the Culexus. My opponent was understandably concerned about my assassin; as such, he placed his deathstar in a well-protected corner of the board, where I would have to face scattering my pods off the edge in order to get close. My opponent won the dice-off to go first, and I did not contest (a recurring theme throughout the day). He had no targets (I placed nothing on the board), so his turn 1 went rather quick. I then dropped in my Culexus, an axe dread and helfrost-wielding dread near his startzone (one scattering off, I believe, but luckily the Culexus made his mark). The Culexus got 14 ap2 shots (since Kevin was wielding 14 warp charge in the area); 11 of which hit. However, Kevin still had a 4+ cover save, and he made 8-9 of them, only losing one, maybe two centurions from his star. The dreadknight retaliated next turn, locking down and eventually slaying the Culexus in combat. However, the assassin bought enough time to allow me to start whittling away and nab maelstrom objectives.

Kevin did finally get a Gate cast off and teleported his star in the vicinity of  my objective, with his Dreadknight burning in soon afterwards. Some solid shooting killed the dreadknight and I could then focus most of my firepower on his star; the deathwinds claimed several of his termies on failed 2+ saves.

Bjorn and the cavalry stare down the depleted opposition before sounding a charge.

Bjorn and the cavalry stare down the depleted opposition before sounding a charge.

Facing a charging Bjorn and full Thunderwolf squad, Kevin sensed the end for his depleted star and called it a game. Although the Culexus did not live up to his full potential in the match, he did force my opponent into a tough starting position, which ended up being enough of an edge to claim the victory.

1 Win, points either 8-1 or 5-4 (going from memory, and I am a bit hazy on how we scored this)



Game 2:
vs Dale’s Tau/Kroot hordes
BAO Scenario 2:
Vanguard Strike; Primary = Purge the Alien; Secondary = Modified Maelstrom; Bonus points as specified above

As I mentioned, I love using horde armies. Dale is apparently in the same vein, as he was sporting more Kroot than one could shake a stick (or Fenrisian Great Ax) at. Dale placed first; since my assassin was essentially worthless in this game, I decided to place him in the middle of the board, all by his lonesome, to at least deny mid-board control.  Despite this, Dale was thus able to place Kroot blobs on both sides of the board, as well as clog his startzone with bodies. I was cool with that, since a good chunk of my force was walking on. Turn 1 saw the end of the Culexus, as he was turned to swiss cheese by the amount of fire his way. I opted for another bold drop, with an ven dread landing behind my opponent’s fortified lines; a helfrost dread scattering slightly south of his lines, and Bjorn mishaping and thus getting placed in the extreme far corner of my startzone.

The culexis assassin is surrounded with xenos.

I think he has me surrounded.

Helfrost and deathwind missiles starting clearing troops off of an objective, while the ven dread popped smoke and prepared to withstand a turn of horrendous firepower. Bjorn started trekking towards the nearby Kroot, and Tau firepower pinged the dreads and pods. I gained newfound respect for the ven dread, as his 3++ held strong; he wrecked two squadrons of Pirahnas with his axe and generally drew a lot of fire away from some of my other units. My dreads walked on and started stomping through the Kroot blobs, while the Thunderwolves nabbed an objective. Dale wisely charged my dreads in his startzone and locked them up in combat for several turns, if not cracking them open with emp nades. Murderfang dropped in the center of the map, but fell quickly to shooting.

Having several large threats looming on Dale’s doorstep kept me in the game, as he had to dedicate considerable firepower, eventually charging them, just to keep the dreads from running rampant. Still, he had several kills by taking advantage of his grenades and rear armor shots with kroot rifles.

I killed enough units to take the primary (I killed 7 units, to his 6 kills), while Dale smothered me with the secondary; we both had linebreaker, but Dale took first blood, giving us a tie at 5-5.

1 win, 1 tie


Game 3:
vs Jeff’s Daemons
BAO Scenario 3
Hammer and Anvil; Primary = The Relic; Secondary = Modified Maelstrom; Bonus points

This turned out to be the stellar matchup for the Culexus. Jeff went first, and I placed my dakka dreads on the board, safely out of range of any chancy shots from the daemons.

Hounds advance with princes in tow.

The hounds make quick work of the distance buffer.

Jeff summoned a Bloodthirster with his squad of Pink Horrors (with perils, regardless). I dropped my Culexus in the heart of his daemon pod, negating most of his psychic powers for the time being; the assassin then focused all of his shooting on the Great Unclean One, but unfortunately could not get past his toughness or invul save (Jeff rolled invul saves like a champ). I also decided to charge his rapidly approaching Houndstar with my dakka dreads, if for anything to deny them all of the attack bonuses. This tuned into a quagmire, with me eventually on the losing end of the melee. However, Murderfang and the Helfrost dread successfully dropped on Jeff’s Maelstrom objective, erasing the cultists and nurglings who were squatting on the objective, and eventually killing the Bloodthirster in melee (there were a couple of hushed shots from the helfrost gun,  although saves were made).

The culexus briefly holds the relic.

The culexus briefly holds the relic, midfield.

The hounds  chewed through my thunderwolves, as the spell casting princes were able to waltz out of the Culexus’ range and drop some nasty stuff (and buffs) accordingly. My ven dread stepped up and slew the princes after a few tense turns of combat, and the Culexus instakilled the GUO, possessing the relic for a turn before the unleashed hounds doubled back and killed him. Be’Lakor took out Bjorn in combat, and at this point Jeff had the Relic, and I had no way to contest it with slowly plodding dreads. He took primary, I took secondary, we both got warlord and linebreaker…But his perils-rolling horrors gave me first blood, just enough to eek out the tie.

1 win, 2 ties


Game 4:
vs Gary’s Tau
BAO Scenario 6
Dawn of War; Primary = Crusade; Secondary = Modified Maelstrom; Bonus points as applicable
I was looking forward to the game vs Gary’s Tau armada…But I was also interested in watching some of the final games, due to a long day with a little imbibery on the side; so, I opted to try and make this a quick game. Gary went first and deployed, and I stuck the Culexus in the far corner of his startzone, behind cover. That way, only the smart missiles could target him turn 1. The Culexus survived, and then I boldly dropped 3 pods right on the table edge; I figured that I would either stick the drops and make it a quick game, or scatter off of the table, mishap…And make it a quick game. The drops stuck, and suddenly Gary had 3 raging dreads (including Bjorn) to tangle with. The shield dreads withstood ‘most’ of the fire, and Bjorn was able to polish off broadsides in combat. Still, it was rather horrid dice throwing on my part, and Gary was not making it any easier on account of some crafty movement and dancing by his warlord (who gunned down the Culexus in a doomed charge).

My dice finally evened out, and Murderfang and the thunder cav were able to mop up a fair chunk of the opposition. Come the end, I had the primary, secondary and linebreaker, while Gary earned First Blood. The game was much closer than the score shows, but having those dreads in his startzone again called for a hefty amount of focus, leaving the rest of my army to drop in some sweet spots, or walk up relatively unmolested.

2 wins, 2 ties
I ended up in the general area of the top 10; the tourney was not based on win/loss record but accumulated points, so I had a couple of squeaks that kept me out of any serious contention. Still, I immensely enjoy this dread list. It does not have an answer for everything, but having the ability to ignore a good chunk of my opponent’s shooting, especially against gun heavy armies such as Tau, is a wonderful thing. The sword and board dreads proved their worth as well. If they could only take heavy flamers, they would be top shelf! And, the Culexus was icing on the cake in half of my games.  He is not the most viable unit in most games, but against some of the meta he can really throw a wrench.