As you will certainly notice, English is not my native language. Apologies in advance 🙂
First things first, the idea for the list “archetype”, and in particular the use of Fulminators in Living City, comes from Rocco Ya Boy and his intervention in the AoS Coach show. Go take a look, it’s the first list discussed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvP6XJb8WuE
The main driver of the list is to use otherwise underappreciated units (in particular: Fulminators and Sisters of the Watch). At least in my mind, this list was construed as proudly sub-optimal, so if you are looking for a prima facie “meta” list, this is prbably not what you are looking for.
The challenges that this list wanted to address are:
- Prevalence of shooting, mortal wounds and high-movement alpha strikes making it hard to keep your stuff alive (and support heroes in particular) after t1
- Magic dominance of certain army making it hard to count on key spells to go off to achieve your combos
- Importance of movement and the ability to project power in different parts of the map
The result is a list which uses the Living City allegiance ability to keep all its hammers in reserve (first challenge) and the Fire and Fade command ability to pull off a reliable charge after deepstriking (hence, no spells needed). The deepstriking ability, combined with some mid-range ouput, mobile-ish cavalry and a teleporting unit are meant to answer the third challenge.
At their point cost, Khainite Shadowstalkers are just too tempting if you have access to them and got the point to spare.
In this list they:
- Provide an early screen or protect your backfield from deepstriking
- Force your opponent to guard their backfield objectives
- If needed, they can provide a screen for the sisters of the watch after the sisters have made their entrance. In this case, unless the enemy has access to 3″ range, the front of all the stalkers should be 2″ from the front of the sisters, so that if an emeny unit charges the stalkers it will activate the “overwatch” shot from the sisters
- Otherwise, just being on the table they will force the opponent to commit some units to guard backline objectives and might be able to steal some of them later in the game. Against softer targets, it is worth going for that 9″ charge: with the -1 to hit in combat and the decent outoput from the leader the stalkers can clear weak chaff and some support heroes
Because of this, in terms of priority, it is worth trying to keep them alive until later in the games and not throwing them away to score a single victory point in t1. Basically, if you can, you should first sacrifice the smaller battleline units. When you are getting towards the end of the game, it might sometimes be better to lose one of your hammers than losing these guys if they can go and score an otherwise unreacheable objective.
To the surprise of no one, the list is based on the “hammer & anvil” idea, complemented by a series of power pairs.
The anvil is composed of the infantry units, with the block of 20 Phenix Guard at their heart. The Anointed always sticks with this unit, in order to provide battleshock immunity (our first power pair). The smaller units (10-men phenix guard, ironbreakers and, if needed, shadowstalkers) can be depolyed to provide screens and push back deepstrikes. All these units have a relatively small footprint, making it easier to profit from cover. The Anointed is very durable with a 3+ save (2+ in cover), 4+ shrug (Retinue) and 4+ FNP, and should discourage the enemy from sniping him. Depending on the scenario, the 20-men unit will advance towards the middle of the board to control boardspace and challenge objectives or stay behind to defend your objectives (Scorched earth, Knife to the Heart, Blood and Glory…).
The anvil should be solid enough to force your oppenent to move some of their key pieces in order to attack the centre (or your side) of the table. This will create space to deploy the two hammers and will open the opponent’s offensive unit to your attack. As such, I would generally advise against bringing unit out from reserve if you are given initative in the first turn, unless, of course, you see an opening to fundamentally cripple your opponent’s list with the alpha strike. In general: this is not an alpha-strike list.
Coming to the hammers, they are composed of power pair n° 2 and 3.
Power pair n° 2 are the Sisters of the Watch and the Hurricanum. They constitute the ranged hammer, thanks to a) the 41 attacks at 2+/3+ doing MWs on 6s to wound; b) the shooting attack from the hurricanum which has a quite good change of sniping 5W characters (or help further whittle down a unit). Against a melee army, the Sisters are relatively difficult to dislodge, because of their “Overwatch” ability which allows them to shoot an enemy unit which finished their charge 3″ from them. NB: pay attention to a) units that can activate&pile in 6″ as they don’t need to charge you, hence denying Overwatch and b) units charging an adjacent unit (say, the Hurricanum) staying more than 3″ away, and then piling-in to attack the sisters. Shooting will destroy your poor Sisters, so the ideal scenario is to deal with shooting units with your first volley. In a clutch, don’t forget that Sisters can also use the Fire and Fade ability, which can be a great trick to cap an objective with their 20 bodies.
The spell casting from the Hurricanum will only come into play in later turns, and, without further bonuses, it cannot be taken for granted. As such, I would plan my strategy without any spells. In case you get the chance to use them, Cage of Thorns can be incredible to slow down dangerous units and protect your Sisters on a double turn. Otherwise, chain lightning is a good default choice to dish some damage to grouped units.
Power pair n° 3 are the Fulminators and the Heraldor. You should always keep 1 CP for when these guys enter the field, so as to use the Fire and Fade command ability. If possible, you should also have a 2nd CP in case of a failed charge (yes, even if it’s a 3″ charge). Fire and Fade allows Fulminators to shoot with their breath attack, then make their normal move (10″) and then have a hopefully “safe” charge. This requires them to have something to shoot at, so be sure to check this first: basically you need a target within 18″ of an accessible board side. The target does not need to be the unit you ultimately want to charge, particularly when you risk that your opponent will remove the model closest to you and make your charge less likely (your attacks on the charge are a much bigger source of damage than your breath attack… unless the enemy has a 2+ armour save).
The Knight Heraldor should be deployed a) wholly within 18″ from the Fulminators to activate Fire and Fade and b) if possible, 12″ from the target you wish to charge. The ideal situation is to have your Fulminators wholly within 12″ from the Heraldor after the charge so that, if they survive (great if you get a double turn), you will be able to give them retreat&charge to maximize the damage from the spears. Fulminators are very resilient against shooting (2+ save rr1) so they can be used to tie up a shooting unit to keep the sisters safe. On the other hand, Fulminators have a very high cost-per-wound, so MWs are their anathema. NB: do not forget to heal 1 wound allocated to Fulminators at the start of your hero phase.
The hammers can work both in tandem or separately. Generally, deploying them separately allows to cover more board-space, particularly in case of melee opponents, where Sisters can hold their own thanks to Overwatch. Deploying them “together” (or, as together as necessary) can be effective to use the Sisters’ shooting to clear a screen to allow Fulminators to charge the juicy stuff behind. NB: in doing this, pay attention not to clear all targets within 12″ of the Fulminators, as they need to be able to use their shooting attack in order to profit from Fire and Fade.