Interview with Graham Akeson

Triple C poster

The eye of the storm might be quiet and still but the rage of battle and war continue unabated. Over the last month, The Adversary has been busy. ATC came and went and amidst it, plenty more battles have occurred.  There is no rest or respite, there is only war.

The Worthiest Adversary reached out to Graham Akeson, recent winner of the The Cleveland Chainsword Championship, an RTT that hosted 20 players. Graham was generous enough to take the time to answer our questions. Whether its a RTT, GT, or Major, the Adversary means to bring what news it can from the forefront. Many players can agree that the current environment is quite dynamic and yet some tactics are tried and true regardless of what codex just came out.

Autarch/85 [Phoenix gem]

10 Guardians/80
10 Guardians/80
10 Guardians/80

9 Spears/281
8 Reapers/272



WA: Quick introduction (name, stomping grounds, started playing 40k, other hobbies or points of interest)

GA: Graham Akeson of The Wastelanders (BCP trolling Manbeard gaming – awesome dudes, probably the most fun group of dudes in competitive 40k) in North East Ohio.  Started playing 40k at the end of 3rd took a break from 5th-7th.

WA: Best placings at a GT and/or Majors event?

GA: First time on the podium!

WA: Playing what army and in what edition?

GA: Eldar in 8th

WA: Most recent GT or Majors event attended and placing?

GA: Glass City GT 2017 playing 7th edition guard/Dark Angels, I placed somewhere in the basement after running into Brad Chester (The First of His Name) and Zach Bowles (The Beardiest Man of Gaming) in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

WA: What did you think of that event overall?

GA: Glass City is a phenomenal event and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who can make it. Well run and professional.

WA: Break down your list, how does it work and function in general? (Short summary, in-depth not required unless you want to)

GA: This is pretty classic Eldar. Deploy conservatively anticipating going second, using speed to get out of the defensive deployment or re-locate away from a strong attack.  Generally, reapers + massed shuriken fire can nuke anything that gets up in your face, especially with jinx and doom. The hemlocks are just a pain and surprisingly good sponges with the stacked negatives that they get. They are also essential in scoring ITC secondaries easily. Spears are great and play sweeper, catching what needs to be caught and dealing with trouble units when needed. Their shooting is brutal, and often gets overlooked.

Go to your local events and support the organizers who are putting them together.

WA: What were you preparing for going into the event? Expectations regarding missions and opposing lists?

GA: The event was running ITC championship missions, so I could plan on 2 secondaries every mission (recon/behind lines) with a floating one that could change per opponent. Because ITC objectives and missions are pretty consistent, I picked half of the objectives that I wanted to hold and concentrated firepower on one more to keep my opponent off of, so I’d hold a majority if my dice were good but wouldn’t give up majority if things went south.

I planned on seeing tons and tons of knights. I tried to plan my list around having to drop one of the big boys in a single turn, using a combination of doom, smite, jinx, serpent shields, massed shuriken fire, and hemlock distraction carnifexes.

Once you got there, what was new or different that you saw but had not anticipated?

Of the entire field, there were only 3 or 4 knight armies, far fewer than I anticipated.  Two of the strongest players there brought admech, which is a really dense codex full of tricks that can really catch you out.

WA: First match up? Against who and what army? Who won and by what margin? Who went first? How did the game play out in general? Anything specific stand out?

GA: First up was against Jacob Ludwick and his Eldar/Dark Eldar combo list.  There were dark lance raiders with dark lance warriors, two farseers, two blaster-chons, 3 units of rangers, a wave serpent, dire avengers, and two fire prisms.  I went first and went across the table with the hemlocks.  They killed off a fire prism with smites and normal dakka, while the serpents cleared up some rangers hanging around.  As the game went on, we were duking it out over an objective in the center of the table.  Eventually the spears quickened forward to clear up 4 units lurking in the back, resulting in a low-point high margin win for me.  The best thing about the game was Jacob.  He was upbeat the entire time and focused on points to improve his game and learn the ins and outs of the eldar/DE hybrid he was running.

WA: Second match up?

GA: Second game was Josh Klamut piloting Necron warrior blobs with support elements. The gist was 2 units of 19 warriors, 9 immortals, 6 destroyers, 5 destroyers, 10 bikes, a cryptek, a ghost ark, a triarch stalker, and a lord riding a floating doohickey of doom. There were 3 objectives, with one in the center, hidden between solid blocks LoS terrain. I went first again, and as per The Plan ™, the hemlocks ran across, flamed the bikes, smote the immortals on an objective.  Other shooting was incidental.  Shooting priority was to kill support elements before unloading guardians to saturate fire down one warrior unit then the other. Generally, I blocked the warriors till I could devote enough firepower to wipe an entire unit.

Two noteworthy events:

1.            The cryptek shunted across the board with a unit of destroyers only to get forewarn’d by the dark reapers minimizing their threat.

2.            Serpents charged warrior units, eating 4-5 wounds on overwatch, but preventing their shooting, making the guardians live longer than they should have.

WA: Third match up? 

GA: Final game was against my regular practice opponent, DJ Timms (Wielder of the Hammer of Integrity) and his admech. There were 4 objectives. DJ likes stars and brought a big unit of 6 dragoons.  He also had lots of little units of infantry to sit on objectives, robots and crawlers for dakka, and a unit of infiltrators. I got the first turn, deploying way back behind my hemlocks. Then DJ seized, because his integrity will not be denied. Because the dragoons were able to infiltrate AFTER the roll for going first, he was able to infiltrate forward, run up 10” and multi-charge 2 serpents and the spears.  Luckily for me, I only lost 5 spears and a serpent. Ouch. I thought I’d covered myself, but DJ found a nice empty space to move up and get in my face. Jeepers. From there, I doom’d and shot off the dragoons while we traded units on objectives in the middle of the table. It was an extremely close game with lots of precision movement and LoS tricks. DJ made one mistake which we both agree tilted the game in my favor. I left a space in my back corner where his infiltrators could fit, 9” away from my reapers. Tasty bait. Lurking nearby was a farseer who’d guided the reapers. Forewarning pops off and boom the reapers send 16 guided 2 damage shots into the infiltrators. From there, I could push forward and dodge around LoS blocking terrain to hold objectives and tag a unit or two for primary points. Extremely close and cagey game decided by one small mistake in turn 3. Perfect way for a championship game to get decided in my opinion.

WA: Final roll up and placing? Having rehashed everything, what are your thoughts now?

GA: I ended up with 34/32/31, all wins with medium to large margins of victory. Despite the low scores on the wins, I was able to come through because two players with high scores coming out of round 1 ran into each other and came out at a 28-28 draw.  This result meant I just had to win game 3, not win game 3 with a high score, allowing me to play defensively and try to goad DJ into taking an aggressive risk.

WA: What were some of the best tactics and combos that you saw at the event?

GA: Josh Death was using a forgeworld termite vehicle, an infiltrating/deepstriking transport unit of s14 mortal wound generating doom. Nasty unit. Nasty nasty nasty.  DJ’s speedy dragoons and perpetually regenerating domini really caught me out, despite having seen them before. Other than that, I was pretty focused on my games, so I wasn’t able to check out all the awesome things people had come up with.

WA: What did you think of the mission sets?

GA: ITC missions are fine for competitive play. Quite straightforward and easy to plan around from event to event. Personally, I think there are issues with the ITC scoring system from game to game. The margin of victory is less important than the overall score in the scope of winning the event. I would rather see a system more similar to that of 8th edition fantasy where the margin of victory is more important than the overall score (the old 0-20 system). Having a high overall score increases your chances of having a high margin of victory. This may be a bigger issue with a 3 game events than with 5+ game events.

WA: What are you planning on changing in your list? What’s next on your schedule?

GA: I hear paint is a thing that people do to armies.  I really ought to get on that, but it’s not something I’m confident with so it takes some time and effort to get there.  I’m hoping to go to Michigan GT, and if I take Eldar, I’m going to try and optimize the list to get a double battalion for the command points.

WA: Any parting thoughts for the audience?

GA: Go to your local events and support the organizers who are putting them together.  It’s a big risk for them, both financially and emotionally and showing up to help out people who are putting themselves forward to better our hobby is a great thing to do.


A big congratulations and sincere thanks to Graham Akerson for taking the time to recount his success from the Cleveland Chainsword Championship. Its the on-the-ground accounts like this that connect players to the greater game. Novitiates and veterans can learn much from the victories and losses presented in each report.

Thanks from the Worthiest Adversary to all the readers for taking the time to read and learn more about the game and the people playing the game. Looking forward to speaking with more players and hosts of events as the Adversary continues along the war path.

One cannot consider the fate of a single man, nor ten, nor a thousand. Billions will live or die by our actions here, and we have not the luxury to count the cost.
– Inquisitor Kryptman


Author: The Worthiest Adversary

Expressed views, opinions, and material are my own and not associated with any organization or other entity.

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