The discussion in the Tier 1 decks served as an impulse for this writeup. I've been toying around with an idea of a much more inspired way to play SM than the heretical xeno alliance. I managed to get that concept past the early testing stage and I am currently looking to refine it further. The resultant decklist is meant to fully explore the strengths of the IG alliance as well as provide a novel and more fun (and indeed so much more fun it is!) way of playing the old Cato.
Let's start with a list to get you going:
Since it's vastly different from the established way of thinking about a Cato deck, I guess I owe y'all a bit of exposition.
First, the theory:
Having been touched by Magic: The Gathering in the past, I couldn't help but try to transplant some of that old knowledge onto the fresh ground of Warhammer Conquest.
Specifically, I've been thinking about the old aggressive approach some of you may remember as Sligh or Red Deck Wins decks and if they still apply here.
For those of you fortunate enough to not be in the know, a Sligh deck back in the day was the definitive, hyper aggressive deck which would give its opponents a run for their money due to the concept of "mana curve", varying the costs of each cards played so that it keeps up with the deck's abilty for resource generation and allows it to use its available resources as efficiently as possible.
Now, Warhammer Conquest is unlike Tragic the Garnering in that the main % of victories comes from planetary conquest. Leader fatality, in my view, is very player dependent, by which I mean it's possible for a resourceful player to avoid our clutches.
However this very threat can still be of use to us, as both withdrawing the warlord as a combat action and assigning to "safe" planets can be exploited
Not to mention, there are planetary setups that favor an aggressive approach.
How does this translate into the above deck?
First of all, if you would look at its cost curve, it's got 13 cards that cost 1 resource, 18 cards that cost 2 and 15 cards with cost 3.
The in-game implications of such an arrangement is that with the base HQ phase resource generation, we can reasonably expect to play the two cards that we draw with what we get, I think that's quite a good start.
This ratio gets better the more planets we can win in the command phase and the more money papa Cato brings home from work.
As you will see, I am purposely departing from the currently dominant paradigm of playing a sector-wide command c***block and use the limited tools at my disposal to maintain the early game aggression. My reasoning is, that Space marines are not really equipped for a full planetary lockdown game (as evidenced by the lack of in faction two-hammer units, with the notable exception of brother Maxos),so why force them into such play?
As a side effect of this reasoning, the deck should be able to operate reasonably even under 100% Eldar stranglehold where a more traditional build would yell uncle.
That's the theory. Now more about the deck itself.
The core of the deck focuses on the interactions between the four core cards: Catachan Outpost, Holy Sepulchre, Brother Maxos and Cato Sicarius.
Most of you are aware of the perks of the Catachan Outpost, in my opinion is the no. 1 reason to splash Imperial Guard. Here, it complements our style of play, where we are perfectly happy to pass at 5 credits right after dropping Brother Maxos and let the opponent do the guesswork. In reality, this is not always feasible, as a single but I am sure you get the idea. One of the strengths I would like to emphasize is denying the opponent the information on our true fighting potential until it's much to late. Catachan Outpost plays to this strength by turning the lowliest 2/1 marines dropping into the fray in mid combat into respectable 4/1 damage dealers in a way Ion Rifle Never could.
The second piece of the puzzle is Holy Sepulchre, in my opinion a greatly underplayed and underrated SM card. It's effect seems meh at first, until we try to tap it's full potential. Essentially, it means our marine force is much more resistant to attrition. A single 10th company scout set out to annoy the enemy on a distant planet can safely return home and redeploy next turn. Of course, one big downside here is that he won't be available for combat until the next deploy phase, but this works nicely with Brother Maxos around, essentially allowing one Scout to deploy and strike numerous times in one combat, essentially turning him into an Eager recruit (which works similarly without needing assistance from Maxos).
In game terms, the card does wonders to our card advantage, making us less susceptible to attrition from mass removal and planetary combat, we can very well afford to send a lone Blood Angels Veteran to the first planet in hopes to do as much damage as possible. You'd be surprised how often he'd emerge victorious, especially if we have some Elysians to take over.
Doom just doesn't feel as attractive play, when all you got in HQ is Cato, Maxos, Librarian, and a ready Sepulchre.
Brother Maxos is a controversial piece of the puzzle. As you can see, I violated a few deckbuilding taboos here in both packing 3x of a unique unit
and making him my lucky 51th pick. The reason for this is that I feel he's highly instrumental to what this deck is trying to accomplish. He works great at capping planets,
as long as he stays close to the frontline (planet 2 is the furthest I would go with him) and allows me not to commit my entire force if I don't feel like it.
In practice, I'm in love with Eager Recruit. Maxos turns my Scouts into recruits and allows me to walk past some otherwise crippling effects like Tau ranged gun drones or Eldorath's exhaustion. For all the above reasons, I want Maxos out as soon as I can. I want him to fight, gather resources and possibly die a heroic death as soon as possible. Three copies allow me just that luxury, though if it spoils your Feng Shui, feel free to drop back to 2x.
Now, how does it all work with Cato? I think you should be slowly getting the idea. Making money during combat means we're suddenly getting more dangerous. One kill means we can plop one more Recruit or an Indomitable. Two kills and we can drop pod assault or drop some meaty demon with Fury of Sicarius.
How does it all come together?
Early tests have been promising, as in it think I have found a genuinely fun and skill intensive (for both players!) way to play Cato which was the thing I had hoped to achieved for, no matter the Tier evaluation of the resultant build.
Although my octgn tally is only good for e-peen bragging rights and I still get the feeling that I've yet to learn from this build. Unless a clear mistake was made with a pointless move, unlucky mulligan, or a bad case of God Hand for the opposing player, it never feels hopeless. It's got answers to many common threats and builds very nicely on the already solid Space Marine foundation.
The key to playing this deck effectively is to take advantage the layout of the planets. Keeping in mind that we don't need too much resources to maintain our aggression, it is important to snipe the planets that give us the most benefit. Osus and Elouith become super important picks, so is Carnath, but everyone already loves Carnath.
On the other hand, Tarrus becomes our Y'varn, 4 res 1 card or 4 card 1 res can give us a significant edge for the next turn. Another interesting think I noticed is how Cato alters the moneymaking dynamic when the opponent blockades us with Drones, Biel Tans and Survivalists. Each one of these now effectively becomes a +1 resource mod when we go to snipe them. And an additional +1 resource can take us quite far
In emergent play, this deck is great at pressuring the enemy Warlord wherever he goes. Imagine the Sepulchre and Outpost is the table.
Normally it's not a combination you would fear. But you probably should!
Now, with Eager Recruits on hand, whenever a warlord sets off from planet 1, the following will happen, first combat action, I play Eager Recruit.
Now, the immediate reaction would be to swat the little bugger and go on about your business. However, in doing so, the Recruit will go back to hand and return to the planet in the next action step, possibly delivering 4 damage. And this effect just keeps getting stronger the more copies of recruits, sepulchres and outposts I can get my hand on.
The alternative to withdraw immediately may be the most optimal, but results in a wasted commitment, possible damage to any units that came on the bus with the warlord as well as me triggering the planet.
What I like the most about this Johnny combo is that the pieces itself remain useful. Well, maybe that actually makes it a bit less Johnny.
Of course, it's possible to stop this play using archon's terror, mitigate the damage with shields, assign only to planets with friendly ranged units, but that's all valuable assets that could be winning you the war instead of preventing you from getting a boo boo.
3x 10th Company Scout
3x Ratling Deadeye
3x Tactical Squad Cardinis
2x Suppressive Fire
NO Daring Assault Squad
Like I said, I am torn here. Both including them and not including them has it's pros and cons.
If they were 1 resource cheaper, I wouldn't hesitate for a second.
NO Iron Hands Techmarine
I just don't like what I am getting for the money here. I suppose Straken's bonus can make a man out of this guy, and he can still call in Elysians but I am not a fan.
NO Iron Halo
It was a hard choice to part with them, but I only ever use it for the shields.
There was a moment that I considered swapping them out for Exterminatus, but then I saw the light.
NO Sanctioned Psyker
I'm not too hyped for 2 hammer for two if it comes from a non-combatant. I feel this guy is a bit of a waste outside of decks that can utilize his toughess
NO Void Pirate/Rogue Trader
Perhaps the biggest heresy in this deck. I felt that it doesn't synergize enough with the rest of the deck, and I am not especially fond of non-combatants in aggro
unless they do amazing stuff. Not saying I'd scoff at an extra card or buck, but when it comes to command, I prefer to stick with the free promotion (though I suppose it's possible to swap them out for it.)
I ranted on about the deck's potential which may or may not be all in my head.
To keep it balanced, a few words about what hurts it the most, and after that I promise to finish this epistle.
No. 1 on the hate list is random discard, as it prevents me from getting the guy back ever again.
No. 2 are units that stay useful even when exhausted - Command Squads, Flash Gits, Flamers, they all can mess with our usual MO of
letting them tap out
No. 3 is when people mess with Maxos - ability blanking, routing, relocating to a different planet,
the very possibility of such plays means I must commit more forces to a planet than I would like to, though if I got some recruits on hand,
I am actually quite happy to see such an annoying card being expended.
Hope you enjoyed this and I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts&opinions.
That was a long post, cheers for getting this far and have a potato: