I entered the Warhammer 40K Conquest store championship at MTG Deals in San Gabriel, CA held on February 28, 2015 with a goal of winning a playmat. Having mostly played Chaos with Zarathur, I did not feel that deck was consistent enough in my hands to do it. I proceeded to work on a Dark Eldar deck after listening to some inspiring Conquest podcasts and internet research but felt I wasn't at the level of play required for such a deck. Needing something more conducive to my playing style and more importantly my ability, I set about building a Space Marine deck. Having built a Captain Cato Sicarius deck when I first started playing, there was now an option of going with Ragnar but after trying Ragnar, I quickly realized he’s not for me since I personally find his hunting ability somewhat of a mental distraction. Cato was my pick for the store championship at MTG Deals.
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I pulled out my Cato deck to see if it could be optimized based on the three expansions since I first constructed the deck. Understandably, not much loving for Space Marines in the expansions. I personally believe Cato has the best signature squad of all the Warlords. Fury of Sicarius can be used to eliminate powerful units and puts the fear of the Emperor in any opponent. Sicarius’s Chosen can move a pesky unit away from my Warlord's targeted battle planet or help with command, and most command related card tend to have only one health, a double whammy. The Tallassarian Tempest Blade is awesome and so is Cato’s Stronghold. I stuck to the old standbys for army units but did consider replacing the Blood Angels Veterans with White Scars Bikers, but I’m in the defense trumps offense side for Conquest. Currently, I only play with one of a unique unit most of the time since I have a magician’s like ability to shuffle a deck to where two unique units are consistently pulled together, so just one Veteran Brother Maxos. The attachments I chose were a given, Iron Halos and I believed three Promotions was the way to go to ensure command advantage and a shield, if needed. As far as Events go, the mighty Drop Pods with their hardly ever used two shields were in as well as Indomitables. I wanted something from the expansions included and only went with Crushing Blow, which turned out to be a great choice. I’m not a fan of supports since in the early game they can take up resources and a card spot that can possibly lead to losing some command phase initiative. Preferring a splash of Tau with Space Marines in order to help with command, I included Vash’ya Trailblazers with their two command icons and Mobile. Earth Caste Technician was also a must card for me to pull Iron Halos and the deadly Tallassarian Tempest Blade, and also Promotions if needed. I realize this deck doesn't have an abundance of attachments and I did whiff a few times in the tournament with the Technician.
Here's the deck I settled on:
1x Captain Cato Sicarius (Core Set)
Army Unit: (31)
4x Sicarius’s Chosen (Core Set)
2x Daring Assault Squad (Core Set)
3x Eager Recruit (Core Set)
3x Earth Caste Technician (Core Set)
3x Honored Librarian (Core Set)
3x Tactical Squad Cardinis (Core Set)
3x Vash’ya Trailblazer (Core Set)
1x Veteran Brother Maxos (Core Set)
3x Void Pirate (Core Set)
3x 10th Company Scout (Core Set)
3x Blood Angels Veterans (Core Set)
1x Tallassarian Tempest Blade (Core Set)
3x Iron Halo (Core Set)
3x Promotion (Core Set)
2x The Fury of Sicarius (Core Set)
3x Drop Pod Assault (Core Set)
3x Indomitable (Core Set)
3x Crushing Blow (Gift of the Ethereals)
1x Cato’s Stronghold (Core Set)
Eight players attended the event so if I ended up in the top half, I would have my mat. Each of the game’s time limits were 45 minutes long but the clock didn’t start until after setup and mulligans, which helped to justify the shorter games. The current turn at time was always finished. The 45 minutes was of some concern to me since I tend to be a slow player and can be indecisive at times; I was definitely going to have to play faster than what I was used to. As it turned out, though, four of the five games I played were finished. A tied game went to the player with the most planets, with number of symbols as the tie breaker, I believe.
Round one was three games to determine the top four. From the records of my opponents I’m pretty sure the players with the better records were paired against each other.
My first opponent was Ben, who was also playing Cato. Our decks were very similar for the most part with the only major difference I can recall was my use of Crushing Blow. I got greedy and mulligan’d a somewhat decent starting hand for one with little command focus, a mistake on my part which didn’t bode well. In addition, I kept forgetting to gain the resource from Cato for a destroyed enemy unit due to my inexperience playing Cato. I quickly recovered though with some good draws and we went head to head in a very close game. Crushing blow came through for me in a key battle and the game ended due to time with a modified win for me due to my planet advantage. Ben was a pleasure to play and the game felt more like a friendly, a theme that was present in all the games that day I’m happy to say.
Game two was against the mighty Hector and his Tau with Commander Shadowsun, splashed with Eldar if I remember correctly. Of all the factions, I fear Tau the most. This is mostly due to my son, Curtis, consistently beating my other decks with a very similar deck to the one I was playing against. Plus, Tau is strong in shields and command, something that I felt might be a problem for me, especially command. Furthermore, all those attachments drive me crazy trying to determine what to attack during large battles, and I’m no Alan Turing. I get a little self-conscious asking “what’s the stats and abilities on that guy again?” all the time. Again, a very close game with Fury of Sicarius coupled with a Tallassarian Tempest Blade on Cato, and Sicarius’s Chosen pulling key enemy units off the first planet, coming through for me. I ended up with the win, doing surprisingly well in the command phase.
I was now at two wins, although one was a modified which could work against me in a tie breaker. It did cross my mind that my record might be good enough to get me into the top four and a precious playmat. If my pairing theory was correct, I would now probably face an opponent with a record of two wins, none modified.
My third opponent was Rory, someone who was kind enough to play me at a local game store, Gameology, when I was first learning to play. It turned out that Rory did have two solid wins. He is an excellent player with a very good understanding of the rules and when I discovered he was playing Aun’shi, I realized I was up against the dreaded Tau splashed with Eldar again, and a solid player. I have never played against Aun’shi, although I had read up on him and heard him discussed on the podcasts. I was justifiably concerned; this was further reinforced by Rory’s record. The game started out bad for me with Rory taking the first two planets. The game was a blur with enemy units jumping in and out of combat, dropping down from the ceiling on Mission Impossible wires, bitch slapping me, and then pulling back up. I tried to focus on winning the commands, building resources and cards to turn the tide but I was one planet away from losing. I knew if I could just hang on until Aun’shi headed back to his HQ each turn and then Drop Pod Assault in units, I could possibly pull off a win. I was sitting with three Drop Pod Assaults in my hand and Cato’s ability was slowly adding much needed resources as the battles commenced. Enemy planet wide Armorbane with some Area Effect thrown in is incredibly powerful since, as we know, it negates the use of shields, but defense still won the day for me with a valiant stand from Cato with an Iron Halo and Indomitables to last out the Aun’shi HQ bail that would then free up much needed shield cards. Cato’s Stronghold helped, also. I concentrated on destroying Area Effect capable units. Again, I found it difficult to determine the most effective attack and defense strategy with Tau cards and their attachments. We both burnt through a tremendous amount of cards. This was an epic battle for the ages and we were both brain fried at the end. I was literally shaking after the battle and we took a much needed break. I felt very lucky and Rory did deserve a win. I was glad to see he still made the final four.
I now had my coveted mat and could settle down and just play. I was paired with Joel and his Eldar Eldorath Starbane deck most likely splashed with Tau. My limited Meta doesn’t play Eldar so I decided to stick with a simple strategy of establishing a command advantage and go from there. I got off to a solid start with command and swept the first three planets for the win. Joel had to make difficult decisions regarding when to retreat or when to battle it out since Cato was relic pumped early on. Playing against Space Marines when they have resources available in the combat phase can make you out think yourself. I may have come out faster or my units were a little more solid on defense. We had a few good laughs and I very much hope to play Joel again.
I was pretty sure I had hit the end of the road here. I was paired against Aaron who has had success winning tournaments and was probably the favorite to win from the get go. Fortunately for me, I was glad to see he was playing Zarathur and his Chaos hordes and not Ku’Gath. Ku'Gath is tough on Honored Librarians due to their two health. His deck was splashed with Dark Eldar. I have experience playing Zarathur but I prefer him with Orks and prefer to use Cultists in combination with Ravenous Fleshhounds and not for casting larger daemons which appeared to be Aaron’s strategy. I got off to a bad start again, losing the first two planets. Early plays of Promise of Glory and the subsequent Cultist sacrifices summoned a Vicious Bloodletter and a Soul Grinder that I then struggled to damage so I could play a Fury. Getting rid of them dominated my tactics and strategy. A Fall Back! can swing the game in a Chaos deck and one was played to bring the Bloodletters back much to my frustration. Good play. Aaron put up a furious defense worthy of the Chaos gods, preventing all my damage. My focus on winning command was starting to take effect but I was sure it was going to be too little too late. Aaron was saving his resources and cards, loading up his reserves for the critical planet battles. I played some solid cards such as Blood Angels Veterans but his skilled tactical plays of Archon’s Terrors and Warpstorms twice at current first planets was making it incredibly tough for me. Luckily for me, Warpstorms only work on units without attachments and Cato had a relic attached. Also, a Promotion on a Sicarius’s Chosen coincidently did the trick also, a lesson learned against Chaos. The final battle was epic, going down to the wire and it was win or lose the game and the tournament for the both of us. Again, my Space marines had just enough resilience to hang in there, taking three planets for the win in another incredibly hard fought game. I looked like the guy on the Dark Eldar Suffering card when all was said and done. Aaron was extremely generous and patient with me, going above and beyond in sportsmanship.
I was 5-0 for the win!
The playmat is cool but the plaque and a first round bye at regionals had me at hello!
This game is so much fun. Nearly all the battles were extremely close and could have gone either way. All my opponents were really great and the host at MTG Deals, Jamin, was very accommodating and cool to boot. I have had nothing but good experiences at that store, which happens to be close to my work. They seem to get the expansions early, too! The deck I played is solid and matched up well with the factions I faced. Iron Halo on Cato was huge for me, especially against Aun’shi and Armorbane, but I prefer the Tempest blade against Commander Shadowsun due to all the Tau shields. I’m sold on Crushing Blow, too; adding an unpreventable point of damage can swing the game since shield play tactics often leave one point of health. Plus it’s a zero cost with a shield, not too shabby. Against Chaos I’ll seriously consider playing attachments like Promotion on upcoming battle units when a Warpstorm seems inevitable. This also makes me reconsider the attachment Dire Mutation in a Chaos deck. I was surprised not to see Ku’Gath but I was happy with that since I tend to have a tough time against him.
In summary, I had a blast and can’t wait for the next tournament!
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