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In Black And Gold Reborn: Launching a Black Crusade at NOVA 2022

“The Gods hate us. I truly believe this.”

–Khayon (Black Legion, by Aaron Dembski-Bowden)

“The Gods hate us. I truly believe this. I have failed my 2+ prayer roll 3 times in a row”

–Mike Pestilens (NOVA 2022)

This is our Imperium. Built across the worlds we burned, over bones we broke, with the blood we shed. You see it too. You feel it now, don’t you? A new war. One not born of bitterness, nor founded on revenge. The Long War.”

–Abaddon, in ADB’s Black Legion

There are so many considerations to make when deciding what army to bring to a major. First, you have to consider style points. If you don’t care about style points, you can just buy/print whatever army is best at the time and just run that. No shame if that’s how you like to play. However, as a Chaos player I am all about style points. That’s never even a possibility for me.

Let The Galaxy Burn!

You have to consider the terrain at the tournament. You have to consider your matchups into the top armies/common units. You have to consider how easy the army is to fly with. Not to sound conceited, but I can play every Chaos army to a very high level. I believe in, and want to play, every Chaos army at every event. Unfortunately that isn’t possible due to the “linear nature of time” or some theoretical nonsense. One day, I’ll win the lottery and be able to travel to more than 2 or 3 majors a year so every Chaos army can get plenty of articles written about them. One day.

Here was every other list I strongly considered for NOVA, and why I didn’t choose them:

  • Creations Of Bile: Probably the best CSM army on GW Open terrain, but they’re so obviously going to be nerfed that it just feels weird playing them. They also lead to the most opponent complaints, and I want to have fun instead of listening about how unfair my army is for 9 rounds.
  • Emperor’s Children: Love playing them, just want to focus on other Legions for a while after playing EC non-stop for several years.
  • Word Bearers: Super strong and fun. Issue is the secondary isn’t very good on GW Open layouts, because it’s so easy to get shooting angles into the mid-board. And if I’m not going to take the Word Bearers secondary, I might as well play the mission better in other ways with Black Legion.
  • Death Guard: Melee Plague Marine builds are crazy strong right now! It also fits my playstyle well, and is such a fun and thematic army. Waves of durable Plague Marines inexorably moving forward is everything a Death Guard player could want. My issue is I built all my Plague Marines “wrong” with bolters instead of melee weapons. I could get the right bits and convert them pretty easily, but I had zero hobby time in the weeks leading up to the event. I had to bring an army I had ready with WYSIWYG*.

I wanted to run Black Legion because every game plays differently. Because Black Legion have no usable Secondaries, I just have to go conquer my opponent’s objectives every game. I also feel an army that is constantly interacting with the opponent is more fun to play. It constantly forces both players to make decisions and puts the opponent under multiple forms of pressure, giving me more of a chance to outplay opponents than a more static army. Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Black Legion series is the reason I got into Chaos Space Marines. My Legionaries are even painted as the ethereal “warp ghosts” from the novels to prove it. After a few days of thought, it was clear to me that Black Legion were the right choice. I strapped on my trophy rack, sacrificed a few Cultists for good luck, and decided to launch a new Black Crusade at NOVA 2022.

I wanted to set reasonable expectations. I really wanted to finish top 10 (roughly 270 players attended), but had very little free time to practice in the weeks leading up to the event. I decided to set my goal at finishing top 20 at NOVA and discussed this with my friends. Spoiler alert: This was accomplished, barely. I finished exactly 20th.

Just.

As.

Planned.

My Black Legion List

Credit to my good friends Chris Gosselin and Wallace O’Donnell (both of which finished top 25 at NOVA too) for providing feedback as the list went through various iterations. There’s nothing more valuable than building a team of good friends and strong players to bounce ideas around with. Interested in discussing your own Chaos lists and ideas with an amazingly positive and knowledgeable community of Chaos players? Come join the Warphammer Discord here! https://discord.gg/E5X99mpJ

  • Black Legion Supreme Command
    • Abaddon The Despoiler, Warmaster Of Chaos, Champion of Chaos Undivided, the Arch-Fiend, former First Captain of the Sons of Horus, Master of the Black Legion: Warlord Traits (-1 CP)
  • Black Legion Battalion
    • Terminator Sorceror: Mark Of Slaanesh, Death Hex, Warptime, Combi-melta, Veilbreaker Plate (-1 CP)
    • Dark Apostle: Chaos Undivided, Illusory Supplication, Cloak Of Conquest (-1 CP)
    • Master Of Possession: Mark Of Tzeentch, Pact Of Flesh, Mutated Invigoration, Trusted War-leader (-1 CP)
    • 2 x 10 Cultists
    • 5 Legionaries: Chaos Undivided, Power sword on the champ
    • 10 Legionaries: Mark Of Slaanesh, Balefire Tome (Infernal Gaze), Chainswords, Power Fist on the Champ, Heavy Chainaxe
    • 10 Terminators: Mark Of Slaanesh, 2 Chainfists, 2 Power Fists, 10 Combi-bolters, Black Rune Of Autotake (-1 CP)
    • 10 Rubric Marines: Mark Of Tzeentch, Warpflamers and Warpflame Pistol on the Champ, Warptime
    • 2 x Venomcrawlers
    • 1 x Rapier Carrier: Quad Heavy Bolter

Synergies

Black Legion are the high risk, high reward Legion. They don’t dominate in obvious ways like Creations Of Bile or Emperor’s Children. Instead, they have an incredibly deep toolbox of ways to affect the board state. They are the Legion that requires precise/thoughtful movement the most, tied with Alpha Legion.

Black Legion combine two of my favorite things: Being able to give units ObSec, and being able to turn off ObSec on opposing units. This list is designed to just annihilate opposing Primary scores. It seems straightforward, but there are a lot of moving parts.

Black Legion have a stratagem called Heralds Of Doom. This stratagem is absolutely nuts if you use it to your full potential. For 2CP, in your Command Phase one of your Legionary units creates a 6″ aura of turning off opposing ObSec. This has wild implications.

The most obvious one is that you are always guaranteed to control objectives your Legionaries are on, because they have ObSec themselves. 6″ isn’t fully across the objective, but pre-measure to make sure your 6″ aura covers the whole objective zone and you are fine.

The cheekiest use is to farm The Long War. Say you have one Legionary model on an objective, and your opponent sends a unit of 10 Termagants to control your objective. At the start of your turn, your opponent controls the objective. This makes that objective eligible for The Long War. Then in your Command Phase, you use Heralds Of Doom. The other unit no longer has ObSec, and you now control the objective. Good clean fun.

It also dis-incentivizes your opponent from making plays on your objective at all. They’re not going to send a unit of Guardsmen to an objective with a Legionary on it if you can just control the objective anyway, and give you a free kill for Long War on that unit.

It also plays really well into my list’s goal of “crush their Primary, let the points sort themselves out”. One of my favorite plays is to stage my 10 man Legionary unit behind a wall up front. Turn 3 or 4, I pop Heralds Of Doom. I then move the Legionaries out (making them Red Corsairs with Confluence Of Traitors if needed), charge something in the mid-field, and then leave one model in engagement range and charge most of the unit for distance up the field. Then I’ll charge Abaddon or Terminators into that same unit. Abaddon picks up the unit. The Legionaries are free to move 6″ closer to enemy units. You can easily flip multiple objectives and take down multiple banners in one turn this way.

One of the coolest parts of Black Legion is the stratagem Confluence Of Traitors. This gives you the option to replace the Legion trait of one of your Black Legion units with any other Legion trait. I like to wait to use this as long as possible, because the threat of it really affects how your opponent plays. If my opponent wants to stay out of a unit’s threat range, they have to stay 6″ further from every Black Legion unit because any one of them could become Red Corsairs. There were many situations where I paid 2CP for the Black Legion stratagem Unrelenting Onslaught to fall back and charge instead of paying 1CP to make them Alpha Legion, which also grants fall back and charge. I want to keep the pressure of any unit being able to advance and charge alive as long as possible. In practice I only made them Red Corsairs around half the time. I also am a big fan of making a unit Red Corsairs, and setting up situations where the opponent has to choose between taking damage and giving me points. For example, against Sisters I made my Legionaries into Creations Of Bile before they went to kill 10 Sacrosants on an objective. My opponent had no ObSec on that side of the board. This meant he had no way to regain that objective besides engaging them in melee. That 1CP cost him 10 Repentia the next turn. Another cool trick is making a unit Iron Warriors to turn off wound rerolls. This is really big vs Nids, with their Flyrant with the Reaper of Obliterax who generally one-shots Abaddon. On a key turn where Abaddon is wandering into danger, I’ll pray for Illusory Supplication. If it fails, I’ll make him Creations Of Bile. If it passes and he hasn’t taken any damage, I’ll make him Iron Warriors and cast Delightful Agonies. This means Abaddon will be transhuman-to-hit, no hit rerolls, transhuman, no wound rerolls, and have a 5+++ feel-no-pain. At that point Abaddon comfortably just tanks the Flyrant. Nids players will generally auto-pilot into “I have Flyrant with Reaper, he has Abaddon, I read that the Flyrant kills Abaddon so I must charge Abaddon” without understanding how differently Abaddon plays in Black Legion compared to other Legions. And if they send the Flyrant into Abaddon and don’t kill him, that’s generally the end of the game.

One of the issues Chaos Space Marines have to overcome is their lists are generally foot infantry walking across the board. This is traditionally not a strong archetype to build a competitive 40K list around. To get around this, I basically built every mobility trick CSM can leverage into one list. Black Legion have one of the best relics in the game, the Veilbreaker Plate. This is identical to Veil Of Darkness, with the issue that it must go on a Terminator character. I dropped my Lord Discordant for a Terminator Sorcerer specifically just to work this into my list. This also gave me 2 sources of Warptime to move units around the board. We also gain movement from resurrecting models with Pact Of Flesh.

Secondaries

“Hey Mike, what secondaries do you take with a list like this?”

“What do you mean?”

“What secondary objectives do you choose when running this list?”

“Not sure what those words are.”

“Do you seriously not know what a secondary objective is?”

“I’m not joking. I genuinely have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Okay so in the Nephilim packet used for 40K matched play missions, you can choose secondary objectives before the game that score based on…”

“Oh yeah, now I remember hearing about secondary objectives. Those are the made-up numbers my opponent uses to console themselves after I’ve crushed their Primary score all game.”

In all seriousness, I took Banners/Psychic Interrogation/Long War every single game, unless the opponent gave up more than 9 on a killing Secondary. This was the equivalent of basically abandoning secondaries in certain missions and matchups. I’m okay with that. I took Psychic Interrogation vs Sisters. I took Banners vs Nids on quarters deployments. I just didn’t care. “Mike, Long War is a trap!” I don’t care. I’m not trapped by the Long War, my opponent’s army is trapped with me. “Banners is a trap vs fast armies or on quarters deployment!” I don’t care, I’ll raise 1 banner turn 1 and raise 5 more banners after I’ve tabled them. “Psychic Interrogation is too swingy if you kill their Characters or if they have denies!” The only thing swinging is their warlord’s head from the back of Abaddon’s trophy rack.

Secondary objectives are a social construct invented by Games Workshop to sell Necron models. I’ll let other armies worry about those.

MVP and LVP Units

My MVPs were the Terminators, Rubric Marines, Terminator Sorceror, Dark Apostle, and the 10 man Legionary unit. They each played a key role in different ways.

The Terminators were the slowly advancing anvil that completely dominated the mid-field and soaked up firepower. They are also able to string out extremely far and abuse objectives where the opponent doesn’t have ObSec because of the Cloak Of Conquest. The fact that they were ObSec was also huge. I had two gameplans depending on the matchup:

  • Plan A: I used this gameplan when the opposing firepower was NOT a real threat to Terminators in cover. This gameplan involved marching my Terminators forward freely.
  • Plan B: I used this gameplan when the opposing firepower WAS a real threat to Terminators in cover. Plan B is the exact same thing as Plan A, but with my ass tightly clenched. Oh yeah, I would also spend 2CP to auto-pass the prayer roll for Illusory Supplication and try to prevent some shooting angles with midfield ruins.

The Rubrics with warpflamers were my problem solvers and main recipient of the Veilbreaker Plate. Their damage output with Abaddon’s wound rerolls and +1 to Wound is just brutal. Their output flattens both hordes and elite targets alike. They’re also very durable, with All Is Dust and a spell to give themselves a 4++ invuln and the Mark Of Tzeentch to zero out the first damage they take every phase. They’re also pretty mobile, with the ability to advance and shoot and in-built Warptime to move again.

The Terminator Sorceror was also an amazing tool overall. One little tech piece I put into the list was giving him the Mark Of Slaanesh and a combi-melta. He also had Death Hex to turn off invulns. By combining Death Hex and the stratagem to turn a Slaanesh unit’s Hit, Wound, or Damage roll into 6, he was actually an amazing late game sniper and damage dealer. Abaddon can put him into the second Wanton on turn 1, so he can get exploding 6’s to hit if he teleports turn 1. This meant I was guaranteed 2 melta hits whenever I shot, or flat 6 damage if I rolled a natural 6 to hit. This came up way more often than I expected while writing the list.

The 10-man Legionaries were an amazing second wave once the Terminators got worn down. They can take all of the buffs I built into the list for the Terminators. Black Legion also gets their heavy chainaxe and power fist hitting on 2’s, because they stack the Slaanesh Icon and the Legion trait to get 2 +1’s to Hit, offsetting the -1 to Hit and then some (shoutout to Justin Curtis for this tech, we had a good chat about Legionaries in a Black Legion list and agreed it is really underrated). They did plenty of work every game. The fact that they are ObSec and can turn off opposing ObSec makes them my clear choice for the second wave instead of a Chosen unit.

When deploying, I always kept a few principles in mind (when deployment zones and mission permitted):

  • Deploy both the Rubric Marines and Terminators within range of Abaddon’s and the Dark Apostle’s command phase buffs so I can power up and send either unit, depending on what units the opponent exposed
  • One unit of Legionaries went into each ruin so I could turn on no-ObSec auras on each side of the board
  • One Venomcrawler went behind each ruin so I could go up either flank or the middle

With all that background set, let’s dive right into the games!

Round 1: Rafael’s Drukhari on Tide Of Conviction (W, 84-83)

What a crazy start to the event! As a big fan of old school cool minis, I really enjoyed playing against Rafael’s army. He had a lot of the classic metal Drukhari transport and infantry models. His list was largely a Drukhari greatest hits list with a lot of units (the mortal wound Succubus, Incubi coming out of Raiders, flat 3 damage Archon, Hellions, etc) you have come to expect in Drukhari lists. He was clearly an experienced player, and we played a really gentlemanly game throughout.

End of my turn 2. My Rubrics, Terminators and both Venomcrawlers have charged onto his half of the board. Abaddon and the Dark Apostle are following close behind.

Rafael’s list had a lot of speed (as Drukhari always do) between the Hellions and 3 Raiders, but he didn’t have a lot of high AP–and Illusory Supplication is just brutal.

If I got paired into Drukhari on a mission like The Scouring, I felt really confident because he cannot interact with my ObSec Terminators at all (or even my 10 man ObSec with a no-ObSec aura Legionaries, if I put Illusory Supplication+Invigoration+Delightful Agonies on them). They’ll just steamroll right up the middle. Unfortunately, having 6 objectives played right into the Drukhari strengths. If I move forward, he goes around the edges and ends up behind me. That’s exactly what ended up happening. There is also a big issue for Abaddon: Hellions. Even the 5-man units have a strat to do 2-3 MW in the movement phase with a massive threat range, so if he kept the Hellions safe it would be really scary for me to move Abaddon into his lines.

Rafael played a really clever game overall, but he made one mistake turn 1 that had a much bigger impact than I think he realized at the time. He sent one unit of Hellions across the board turn 1 to kill some Cultists and flip an objective, which was a fine play. He also exposed the second unit of Hellions to move block me from an objective, and that really shifted the game. I was so relieved to immediately to have all out-of-phase damage dead turn 2 and make Abaddon immortal. He also moved the Cronos up to shoot the Terminators, and his shooting combined did the worst case scenario: He killed 1 Terminator and brought another down to 1 wound, which means I just get extra movement with a full health unit from Pact Of Flesh next turn. His Cronos being close also meant I just got an easy charge, and I had the chance to use the charge distance to entrench my Terminators into the ruins on his side of the board. He never dug them out, and I left no survivors on his half of the board.

Even with me getting some fortunate breaks turn 1, it was still a closely fought battle. Rafael did a great job putting his deadly Characters into my weak flanks, and made smart plays like charging throwaway units into Abaddon so he couldn’t heroically intervene into his ObSec.

At the end of the day, my army is at its core foot-slogging Marines walking around the board outside of a few tricks. Drukhari are a headache for Black Legion to deal with on Tide Of Conviction.

The score differential came down to a small wording distinction on Banners. Banners are only taken down in the Command Phase, not end of game, so the Drukhari player going second literally can’t take down my Banners on the bottom of turn 5. I raised two banners on objectives on his side turn 5, and had two left on my side. He flipped my two home objectives on the bottom of 5, and I gave myself two banner points instead of four at first. Then I remembered the Command Phase part, we double checked the wording, and updated my Banners total. When we tallied it up, it was a 1 point win for the Black Legion. Rafael played a great game, and I wished him best of luck going forward.

Round 2: Joshua’s “Rusty Beach” Genestealer Cults (W, 91-68)

Genestealer Cults are one of my favorite armies, so I was really happy to face them early. Joshua had a self-described “Rusted Beach” list, combining theusual Rusted Claw units like the bikers and Genestealers and Neophytes with two big bricks of Aberrants.

The terrain was set up really poorly for this mission. The buildings were rotated for Dawn Of War deployment, but we played a Hammer And Anvil mission. I asked if we could rotate the terrain but the judges told us no. This setup felt a bit unfair to Joshua’s glass cannon army. My Terminator bolters are brutally efficient into GSC if they cannot hide easily. They could still hide behind the second piece easily, but holding the mid-field objectives is hard.

The GSC are appearing from their blips as Joshua begins his first turn

My gameplan was pretty straightforward. Joshua took RND and Broodswarm as his secondaries, meaning I was heavily incentivized with VP to just sit on my half and screen out his deepstrikers from my side. I got lucky and “lost” the rolloff to go first, meaning I only had to screen during my first 2 movement phases.

He had a unit of Genestealers with the pre-game move, which can be a huge headache. GSC Genestealers can kill a unit in melee, and then go back into deepstrike at the end of the turn if they are 6″ away from any enemy units. The counterplay to that is to wrap or layer one unit inside another in case the GSC player goes first. In this case, any Cultist model near my deployment edge was within 5.1″ of a Legionary model behind it, meaning he can’t engage them without being within 6″ of the Legionaries. I was very happy for him to send his Genestealers to kill a unit of Cultists and be trapped in front of my whole army. He smartly didn’t take the bait. I am also familiar with the Rusted Claw trick where the Bikers can snipe Characters with demolition charges (even sniping them through walls), and made sure to position my Characters safely all game until the Bikers were dead.

We played a pretty quiet game for the first few turns. Once turn 3 hit, I basically just pushed my Black Legion up the board and the GSC were powerless to stop it. Aberrants just don’t do significant damage to my Terminators with all the buffs I can layer on them. Meanwhile, my Terminators just mowed down his army at range and in melee while my warpflamers burned any units they looked at to a crisp.

Joshua played a great game, but between the mission and my positioning I was able to turn this battle into a head-on collision of my buffed units vs his buffed units instead of letting GSC do damage and score points in any weak spots. GSC aren’t able to win that fight vs Black Legion. We shook hands and wished each other good luck the rest of the way.

Round 3: Christopher’s Sisters Of Battle (L, 68-86)

My dad came by day 2 and took a surreptitious pic of me playing. Here I am, deep in thought, wondering who the hell wrote the Sisters secondaries.

Sisters players, let’s talk. I promise not to tell anyone whatever you tell me. This is a private conversation just between the two of us.

How do you collectively roll psychic denies so well?

It’s actually crazy to me. I have never seen a Sisters player have a game where they just whiffed on their denies. Was the 5+ deny rite FAQ’d to succeed on a 3+? What’s going on with the Sisters fanbase? Does their collective hatred for psykers have some tangible effect on their dice rolls? Does the Emperor actually protect?

I want to make it clear that this is all 100% tongue-in-cheek. Christopher and I played a good clean game, and both of us got lucky and unlucky at various points. That’s 40K. This is just a lifetime of confusion building to a head. I have literally never seen a Sisters player roll below average on psychic denies. And don’t even get me started on the Sisters 4+ deny stratagem. It doesn’t fail when a Sisters player uses it. They literally just pick the dice up and place it back down with a 4 facing up. Not literally literally, but literally.

This was a really great, hard-fought game. I have to give Christopher credit for never taking his foot off the gas. When we talked at the end, we tried to find mistakes in each other’s play and really couldn’t come up with much.

If I could re-do this game, I would re-allocate my shots on my warpflamer Rubrics in one shooting phase. I had a shot to put my flamers into Celestine and her Geminae early. I hoped to kill her and then charge her with a Venomcrawler to finish her off after she stood back up. My mistake was assuming she had a 3+ save, when she actually had a 2+ (none of the Sisters players I’ve played in a long time have run Celestine). I under-allocated flamer shots into her as a result, leaving her with 2 wounds. If I had just put more Flamers into her, I kill her in one turn and collapse a flank. That would have cut 7 points off his score and made this a very close game. I also had an opportunity turn 3 where Abaddon had a 6″ rerolling charge into Morvenn Vahl, and failed twice. Abaddon had murdered Vahl in combat the last few games I played against Sisters. Guess he decided he already had enough Sisters heads on his trophy rack and didn’t need any more.

In hindsight, I would have piled my entire army even harder into the mid-field objective he selected for his secondary. I was going to take massive casualties, but I could have denied him a few more points on that secondary. We basically tied on primary scoring, and I think I might have even been a few points ahead on primary considering we played Abandoned Sanctuaries and I got a big boost for holding the central objective at the end. The secondaries were the main issue, and I just couldn’t kill him fast enough to stop him from scoring his. I basically tabled him turn 5, but that was too little too late. This was a very tough matchup in terms of scoring, and I’m happy to have made it a competitive game against a great opponent. Christopher ended up finishing top 10 overall, so congrats to him on a great run with his Sisters.

Round 4: Lucas’s Word Bearers (W, 82-78)

Death To The False Emperor! What a fun Chaos Space Marines mirror.

Lucas had a really cool Word Bearers list, focusing a bit more on the Mark Of Tzeentch than most lists. His super Dark Apostle with Illusory Supplication and the 6+++ Feel-No-Pain aura for his Terminators/Daemon Prince made his army a real pain to deal with.

I was able to win in the middle, and take advantage of the Word Bearer’s inability to advance and charge/fall back and charge on the flanks. The trick to beating Word Bearers Possessed lists is to charge something else, and then pile-in to the Possessed. They only get their full hit re-rolls if they charge or are charged, not if they get piled into. My Venomcrawlers were able to tag Possessed units and pop -1 Damage, leaving both units in a stalemate on the flanks.

The difference was I “won” the rolloff to go second, meaning I could play conservatively and wait for my 12 on Primary on the bottom of turn 5. Lucas went for a play where his Daemon Prince went into my Dark Apostle to take away my ObSec aura, but having the Dark Apostles (don’t forget they also have a 4++ invuln and act as shield drones!) to keep the main man alive let me win that flank. Abaddon turned around the following turn and told that Daemon Prince exactly what he thought about his attempt on the Dark Apostle’s life.

In hindsight I played more conservatively than needed, trying to hold on to (in my mind) a guaranteed win on the bottom of turn 5 instead of going for points. Neither of us could really damage the other. I could have pushed even harder and scored 4-8 more Primary points in the middle turns.

Lucas played a great game overall, and I was rooting hard for his Word Bearers to keep spreading the word of Lorgar for the rest of the tournament.

Round 5: Sean’s Knights (W, 90-38)

Sean had really great energy, and this was a very interesting matchup. He was running a classic 2/7 Questories/Armiger House Taranis list.

I took a gamble and teleported my Rubrics to shoot his main Crusader with +1 to Wound and full Wound rerolls. I also had my Venomcrawlers and Rapier Carrier that could shoot flat 2 damage at that Knight. I had done some mental math and determined that I had a great chance to one shot the Crusader turn 1. With the way Imperial Knights lists work, if I kill that Crusader, the game is immediately over.

Unfortunately I didn’t account for the 4++ invuln and 6+++ Feel-No-Pain, and his Crusader survived with 6 wounds. This was still a great outcome, because he had to play conservatively and my Rubrics will still move-blocking him on one flank. They forced him to move up the middle instead, which he wanted to do anyway to score his mid-table action. Unfortunately, there was a terror lurking in the middle of the table: Abaddon.

A finally kill tally from Abaddon alone this game:

  • Knight Paladin, one-shotted in melee
  • Knight Crusader, final wounds finished off by Abaddon’s bolter
  • Armiger Warglaive, one-shotted in melee
  • Armiger Warglaive, one-shotted in melee
  • Armiger Warglaive, one-shotted in melee
  • Armiger Warglaive, one-shotted in melee
  • Armiger Helverin, which tanked Abaddon for 3 Fight phases. Just kidding. One-shotted in melee.

My boy was hungry, and he ate.

Sean was a fantastic opponent to hang out with, and I wished him the best of luck in future rounds.

Round 6: Mark’s Tyranids (W, 77-70)

I remember Mark being a very sporting opponent who clearly knew how to play his army well. He also had a cool purple paint scheme, which is my personal favorite aesthetic for Tyranids. I remember thinking during deployment that the game was over when he went first, and I was going to get run over by Mark’s Leviathan list.

By turn 3 I had killed basically his entire army, and was able to run up a massive score over the final 2 turns.

Terminators and Abaddon with full hit and wound rerolls are literally the perfect counter to Leviathan Warriors, especially if I get Death Hex off. He army entered the mid-field meat grinder, and nothing came out.

My teleporting Rubrics were able to kill a Warrior unit in shooting and charge and kill the Parasite early, which gave me a lot of breathing room. I much prefer to be the one messing with the opponent’s ObSec, not the other way around, so killing the Parasite greatly simplified the game for me.

Well played by Mark overall, and I wished him luck for the rest of the event.

Round 7: Marcel’s Nurgle Daemons (W, 83-63)

Marcel’s Glottkin-to-GUO conversion was one of my favorite models in the event hall

It warmed my daemonic heart to play a game against Nurgle Daemons. One of my personal favorite armies, it was really cool to face them one last time and give them a proper send-off before the new codex. Marcel ran a list built around 2 Great Unclean Ones and an allied Castellan, with hordes of Plaguebearers ready to swamp the objectives behind them. It was a great the concept. The Knight and GUO’s drew fire and distracted the enemy while the hordes of durable ObSec focused on capping objectives and running up points.

Unfortunately for Marcel’s deep run with an off-meta list, he ran into one of the only people in the hall that knew his army extremely well and could counter everything he tried to do. He told me at the end it was a pleasure to play someone that finally understood everything about his army, and likewise I told him it was a pleasure to face a good sport who also loves Chaos.

Round 8: Stephen Henry’s Custodes (W, 81-50)

Stephen was a complete blast to play. I’ve never met a player who fist-bumped across the table as often as him. I recognized his name as one of the best Custodes players in the country from when I lived on the east coast, and knew we were in for a great game.

The combination of Terminators with Illusory Supplication and Rubric Marines was just too much for the Custodes to handle. I went first, and picked up 2 units of Sag Guard (left one model at one wound) with teleporting flamers. I also placed them in a position where it was very hard for his army to reach them without taking a brutal round of overwatch.

On his turn, he sent a unit of bikers to attack my Dark Apostle and a Galatus Dreadnought to attack my Rubrics. My Dark Apostle lived with 2 wounds (shout out to the Dark Disciples for tanking way too much damage with their 4++ invulns). My Rubric Marines one-shotted his Dreadnought in overwatch. I remember him being shocked by the damage he had taken in overwatch when his Dreadnought went down to 3 wounds. He straight up laughed when I reminded him that was just the first half of dice I had to roll. On the following turn, my Terminators and Abaddon launched a counter-offensive in the center that picked up all of his Bikes and a Dreadnought. Things continued to spiral from there.

Illusory Supplication is just ridiculously good into Custodes, and it genuinely felt wild how little damage his army was able to put into my durable units. It felt silly that my Terminators had a 2+ save vs AP2 in cover, while his Dreadnoughts have a 3+ save vs AP1.

Custodes are actually the only non-Chaos army I play, so I had an advantage because I knew his army really well. I remember using some of Stephen’s lists in BCP as inspiration for what to collect when I got my Custodes a few years ago. I cannot overstate how positive Stephen was throughout a tough matchup with unlucky dice, and I would happily play him anytime.

Round 9: Larry’s Tyranids (L, 79-83)

Larry and I played for the win in bracket two. Unfortunately, his Kraken list pulled out a close win. It was a brutal game between two great players, and I did a write-up for it as part of the Goonhammer write-up of NOVA. You can check it out here: https://www.goonhammer.com/competitive-innovations-in-9th-nova-reanimation/. I recommend using ctrl+f “Pestilens” to find my writeup of the game, but the whole writeup is amazing as usual from Goonhammer. Definitely recommend reading the whole competitive innovations article if you have time!

Final Thoughts

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of opponents to play 9 games of Warhammer with. I had an amazing time at NOVA, and play to attend every year that I can.

Black Legion were an absolute blast to play, and I can’t wait to keep launching future Black Crusades with this army. The main change I would make after playing this list would be dropping the Rapier Carrier and 10 Cultists for a Nurgle marked Raptor unit. I really needed one fast, durable unit to raise banners on some missions. They can also string out really far and get ObSec onto opposing objectives from the Cloak Of Conquest. I would also put the Mark Of Nurgle on the Dark Apostle. Him living or dying was a crucial moment in several games, because of how much he buffs the army in terms of durability and mission-play. 1CP transhuman, combined with 2 ablative bodies with 4++ invulns, means he is actually a huge pain to kill. Being able to transhuman him would have been easily an 8+ point swing in the final Kraken matchup that I lost by 4 points.

Of course, knowing me, I probably won’t play them again for a while as I experiment with other Chaos armies–especially the new Daemons. Too many fun Chaos armies, and not enough hours in the day to play every single awesome list as much as it deserves.

That’s why I would love to work with you on developing your own amazing and fun competitive Chaos list! If you’re interested in supporting the growth of Warphammer, please consider supporting us on the Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/Warphammer. I can’t wait to talk with you, and help you on your own Chaos journey as you wage the Long War.

As always, have fun, stay safe, and may the Dark Gods bless your rolls.

14 replies on “In Black And Gold Reborn: Launching a Black Crusade at NOVA 2022”

Can you tell me what the idea of the Nids list was you played against in your last game?
I really dont get it and it was obviously good at something i dont see.

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The mobility makes it good at picking at weak areas, and Venomthropes with the Kraken strat and advance and charge is great for Cranial Feasting. They’re not amazing in melee, but with a nice volume of 2+ to wound attacks, they’ll pick out random Masters Of Possession, Dogmatas, etc. The Tervigon is also a blender, and the Tyrannofexes force you to keep your big stuff hidden

Fun list! Would love a rematch one day

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Thanks for the excellent and detailed write up !
This and your podcast episode with Russell Tassin really helped me grasps a bit more the power of the black legion.
I have a 2v2 tourney coming up, would the base brick of Abaddon + 10 man termi + buffers be relevant in that format?

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Glad it’s helping your own Black Crusades, Alix!

Not a bad start at all. Abaddon + Termies is expensive but a very nice core to a 1000 point list. You’ll be the grinder, so bring a pairing that gives you speed and cheap units

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Love the idea of Rubrics in Black Legion.
Can I just confirm they still get All is Dust, skeins of fate and zero the first damage from MOT but cannot get -3 AP flamers from the icon?
Thanks – great blog by the way!

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hey mike
what do you think about Iron warriors?
I do feel that Forgefiend with 3 plasma is a secret Gem in the CSM arsenal (one of our only way to get damage 3 flat) and as iron warriors they can shot into combat if you tag them, and can get full blast vs 3 models units

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Your attitude towards secondaries warms my heart and further convinces me that CSM are the “alright forget all this noise, it’s time for a good old-fashioned ass-kicking” faction.

It’s a very welcome return to form.

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