For those of you who don't know, the Summer Skirmish is run by Tim King from the Scottish ETC team who's now the Events Manager at Maelstrom. Last year's event was a great laugh and a totally different experience from the rest of the tournament scene. This is largely down to the fact that over 1.5 days you play 13 games!! That might sound a lot but not when you consider it's 500pt combat patrols. I took DE to last year's event and learnt a lot. This year was no exception and I took the following:
500pts of Dark Eldar
10 Kabalite Warriors (Blaster, Splinter Cannon, Sybarite)
8 Reavers (2 Heat Lances)
Razorwing Jetfighter (4 Shatterfield Missiles, Splinter Cannon)
Now I'm not going to pretend this is an amazing list but it is fun! Basically I wanted to bring a flyer along to see how they fared and because some armies there simply couldn't deal with them. The reavers are fantastic in 6th edition and the kabalites are frankly only there because you have to take 1 troop!
The format is pretty simple. Players are randomly assigned to pools of 4 and play all three opponents. Players are then ranked and play in another group of 4. On the Sunday we then play another 3 games followed by a battle to determine the ultimate standings e.g. playing off for 3rd/4th place. All games are Pitched Battle (now Dawn of War) and based on 5th edition style VPs. Simple stuff, kill more of your opponents guys than he kills of yours!
Game One - Craig (Space Marines)
The first game was against a straightforward marine list containing a tactical squad with plasma cannon, 10-man devastator squad with missiles and a squad of scouts with a heavy bolter. I managed to get first turn but unfortunately Craig "Seized" and my reavers were quickly thinned out in number. I still blasted them forward in my turn but they were then in a poor position and got shot to pieces. The kabalites basically sat in cover having a few shots at the devs but slowly losing numbers due to the weight of fire.
At this point the razorwing showed up landing two pie plates on the devs and hitting with the dark lances. This killed 4 of them and was enough to make them flee the table. The scouts were gunned down in the next turn and suddenly it was looking bad for my opponent. The tactical squad couldn't hurt the razorwing so I hid the kabalites, giving me the win. 315 v 243 VPs.
Game Two - Chris Swaine (Wolves)
The kabalites managed to gun down the lone wolf early on for a pain token but were then fragged to death by the long fangs despite their FNP and cover. The flyer was decidedly underwhelming in this game as it came on and only killed a couple of marines. The reavers who'd turbo-boosted into position in turn 1 managed to kill a few marines with bladevanes. Sadly they then lost a couple of their number to the grey hunters and failed their morale test. They were quick to regroup though and went on to help the flyer kill off more grey hunters. With the flyer forced to fly off the board in the next turn the reavers were forced to hide to prevent me being tabled thanks to the new rules for reserves in 6th. Luckily the rune priest killed himself trying to use living lightning on them (having already suffered a wound) and I passed their cover saves. The last remaining grey hunter was finished off by the flyer and we finished for lunch with me sitting pretty on 3/3 wins 350 vs 237 and onto the top tables.
Game Four - Scott (DE)
In one of the quickest games of 40K I've ever played Scott's 3 venoms and ravager went first and spent two turns gunning down all the reavers and kabalites and preventing me from even rolling to see if my flyer arrived! Tabling me in about 10 minutes 0 vs 500 VPs. Can't say I thought it would end any other way though!
This was a very straightforward necron list consisting of 6 wraiths and 10 warriors in a ghost ark. Having previously scoffed at ghost arks in 5th edition I have to say the thing was ridiculous. Now obviously I don't think it was a good call to allow AV13 Necron vehicles at this points level (other races were limited to 34 total AV across FSR) but still with 4 HP and all that gauss they're pretty good now.
The reavers attempted to inflict heavy casualties to the wraiths to distract them from assaulting the kabalites but sadly didn't do enough and died to the revenge charge. The kabalites were eventually gunned down by the ghost ark and it's occupants and with my razorwing's dark lances missing completely I was left running from the ark without being able to hover to get a shot on it, narrowly surviving with 1HP left! 125 vs 412 VPs.
Game Six - Tom (IG)
I was relieved when I got first turn against the volume of fire that Tom's army could throw at me. I was less happy to see him roll a 6 to Seize! The reavers were pinned by mortars and the kabalites lost 3 of their number. The blaster kabalite was able to stun the chimera and strip a hull point but in the following turn another 5 kabalites died. The reavers swept over the guard but sadly landed behind the chimera full off flamer vets and you can imaging the results! With Tom's vendetta having arrived in turn 2 I was pleased when my razorwing showed up, right up until it missed with both dark lances! This was the start of some awful luck which saw me lose the razorwing to the vendetta with help from some jammy autocannons. The kabalites were swiftly dispatched and I was now 3 wins and 3 losses having been tabled 143 vs 500 and back down to mid-table mediocrity where I belong!
Saturday Evening Doubles
We then played orks/IG controlled by Tim on his own (to make up numbers) and cruised to a fairly straightforward victory that was largely down to Tim throwing the list together last minute with the models available in the shop! It also helped that my razorwing came on and downed both his hydra and chimera with some well placed large blasts on side armour!
Although we won the final game we'd have done better if the vendetta hadn't taken so long to deal with that pesky ghost ark. Graham scored 3 hits when it first arrived but failed to even glance with any of the shots! Still we put in a good showing despite spending most of the games with 300 points less on the table than our opponents until our flyers showed up!
Game 7 - Graham White (IG)
On Sunday morning my doubles partner turned on me and with his vendetta and hydra I knew how it was going to end! It didn't help that he took first turn either! The reavers hid behind a building whilst the kabalites took some casualties. The reavers killed off 6 guardsmen with their bladevanes but the IG held their nerve. The kabalites were in scenery that required them to pass an Ld test to shoot or attempt to move out of it. Sadly their rolled a double 6 and couldn't shoot for that turn!
The reavers lost 6 of their 8 (including the heat lances) and their nerve broke. The flyer came on and again missed a vendetta (they're bloody big enough!). The kabalites finished off all but one guardsman from the footslogging squad who proceeded to run from the board. The hydra stripped 2 HP from the razorwing which responded by taking 2 HP from the chimera but despite hitting with both missiles on side armour it couldn't score a third and final HP to wreck it. The hydra made it pay by blowing it out of the sky and the vendetta and guardsmen from the chimera mopped up the rest of my army leaving me tabled 143 vs 500.
Game 8 - Graham Sanders (Eldar)
The flyer finished off the dark reapers before making a sharp turn to stay on the board! The reavers eventually regrouped in time to charge the pathfinders and finish them off with Hammer of Wrath attacks. 500 vs 100.
Game 9 - Andy Lane (SM)
Game 10 - Graham Sanders (Eldar)
Having joked that I was normally near the bottom playing Graham by the end of a tournament I was pleased to see history repeating itself. The game wasn't all that disimilar to our first encounter. The flyer came on and immobilised the wave serpent and blew off it's turret meaning I could ignore it. The troops died quickly to successive bladevanes and shooting/assaults from the kabalites but not before taking half the reavers to repeat the 500 vs 100 scoreline!
I finished pretty much exactly where I expected to with that list, slightly below mid table! I knew that some armies simply couldn't deal with the flyer but when 175/500 points is off the board for a couple of turns you're really helping your opponent not to mention 4'x4' doesn't give you much space to maneouvre a flyer! However, it did put in some spectacular performances (and some less so) and I can see me using it in my larger Dark Eldar armies, particularly in the early days of very little skyfire!
Reavers are simply awesome. Their bladevanes are even better now with the 12" positioning move and then 36" turbo-boost in the shooting phase. They can cover a massive chunk of the board. Add in the 3++ save when they do so and ignoring Dangerous Terrain thanks to Skilled Rider and they're excellent. Yes they're still weak to flamers but if you can get them a pain token they become pretty resilient. In some games I should've made more use of their heat lances but this makes them very vulnerable and they're normally better to be turbo-boosting to stay alive, particularly in 500pt games! Again the small board was an issue as they couldn't get far enough away from the target unit to keep them safe from reprisals. They're still going to feature heavily in my lists though. The main thing to take away from this weekend was the finesse required to use them effectively. It's tempting to bladevane something asap but sometimes it's better to do a positioning turbo-boost in turn 1 and wait until your opponent is a bit more spread out before striking in turn 2.
The kabalites were decent but a little too static. Some armies had to come towards me which meant they did well but they can't really afford to break cover so end up sitting there hoping something will come closer whilst popping off 6 splinter cannon shots. Rapid Fire changes have certainly made them better but I think I've been too quick to write off wyches.
All in all it was a brilliant weekend and the small numbers made it a really friendly atmosphere. I'm surprised more people didn't turn up (there were 32 last time compared to 14 this weekend) because it's a fantastic even and presents a great opportunity to test out army ideas and 6th edition rules in a zero pressure environment. Hopefully next year's event will be more popular!