Monday, January 13, 2014

Tournament Report - Lurking Threat (1750pts) at the Outpost - Dark Eldar

Proxy TWC on lions..... Thundercats ho!
As you might recall, I'm currently taking a break from Tau. This meant that my last tournament of the year was with my Dark Eldar. Somehow I achieved second place so I had high hopes of a good performance at my first tournament of 2014. The Outpost was the venue and for those of you who haven't read my reports before, they run custom scenarios which I'm quickly becoming a fan of. My list was the same as before with 4 kabalite venoms, wyches in a raider, two squads of reavers, two ravagers, a voidraven and Duke with trueborn in a raider.

Last time around the field was full of wraithknights, riptides, daemon princes and nids which really flatter Dark Eldar. This time around there were some very strong lists. Some of the players were using this event as Caledonian warm-up so there was a Farsight bomb, broadside spam, Necron flyers and a couple of Daemon flying circus type lists. None of the lists were as optimised as you might find at the top flight events but there were no easy matchups for me.

Game One - DE vs. Necrons
The first game was Hammer and Anvil with Emperor's Relic which is similar to the Blog Wars version with the exception that First Blood is replaced with First Strike. This allows both players to score a VP if they manage to kill a unit in their first player turn. Mike Porter's Necrons were not my ideal first opponents. The sheer volume of S7 fire isn't much fun when you've got AV10/11 vehicles and T3 infantry who rely on FNP. I wasn't confident then but if I could hold onto my home objective, grab some secondaries and use my reavers to contest his objectives then I'd be in a with a chance. Still, night scythes aren't much fun! At least I got the first turn, Night Fighting and a 6 on my drugs to give me a fighting chance.

Thanks to some refused flank deployment my only hope of scoring First Strike was to kill a barge with a single Ravager. Obviously I failed. I'd also made a fatal error. Having not played Necrons in a while I'd forgotten that wraiths are jump infantry and positioned a unit of reavers within charge range. There was absolutely no need for them to be in that position either. I'd blasted the two raiders up the board too, expecting them to go down but hoping I could get my haywires into the middle of the castled Necron vehicles. One of my venoms went down and, as expected, the wyches' raider exploded (but only after taking a hefty amount of fire thanks to cover saves). Sadly, the wyches took enough casualties from the blast to cause them to break meaning no haywire fun. This unfortunately also allowed the wraiths to multi-charge the wyches and reavers. Even more unfortunate was that neither were able to break from the combat protecting the wraiths from retaliation.

My second turn started well with Duke's unit destroying the ghost ark and then a combination of a venom and the other reavers killed off the warriors inside. Sadly even both ravagers combined wasn't enough to kill the command barge and the voidraven arrived too early (and also failed to kill an annihilation barge). With all the other troops off the board in flyers the venoms were pretty impotent. Meanwhile the wraiths finished off the wyches and the final reaver ran. In the Necron second turn all three night scythes arrived killing off a couple of venoms. One of the annihilation barges tried to down the voidraven but could only glance it once. Meanwhile the scarabs arrived from reserve close to Duke who found himself in a crater thanks to another barge. The wraiths chased down the remaining reaver and caught it in a multicharge with a venom and a kabalite warrior squad. The squad ran and the venom survived so it wasn't a total loss. The lord in his barge tried and failed to destroy the ravager too.

The voidraven flew off the board but not before bombing an annihilation barge and exploding it! That's the first time I've achieved anything notable with a void mine. Duke and his unit elected to ignore the scarabs and instead split up to take on an annihilation barge each. The trueborn killed theirs but Sliscus failed to destroy his (it's a shame he doesn't get haywires too). Meanwhile I moved one of my two remaining venoms deep into the enemy deployment zone to hopefully contest (or even claim) my opponent's objective. The reavers swept across the scarabs killing a couple of bases but not enough to prevent them being killed in combat with the swarms. One of the flyers dropped off some warriors before destroying the venom. Meanwhile the overlord finally killed the ravager but was now in the far corner in the back of my zone. One of the other flyers dropped immortals on the relic before killing off a venom.

The wraiths were slowly being brought down but not before they helped the immortals finish off the kabalites which might've contested the Relic. Duke joined the trueborn again but despite his blast pistol and their haywires the last annihilation barge was still hovering there taunting me. One of the night scythes cut down all of the remaining trueborn but Duke passed his Shadowfield saves. The shot then arc'd back onto the flyer and Mike rolled a 6 followed by three 6s on the penetration rolls to glance his own flyer to death! Hilarious! Meanwhile the warriors and scarabs combined to finish off the trueborn and secure a grip on their home objective. My best hope now was to hold onto my own objective and hope my flyer could shift the warriors from his. If Duke survived I might just force a draw. My bomber returned and failed to kill a night scythe despite penetrating. This pretty much sealed the game as the warriors inside were able to finish off the warriors who were holding onto my objective.

The flyer moved on to try and shift the warriors from Mike's objective. The missiles weren't as effective as they needed to be and the warriors unsurprisingly passed their Ld test. In a cruel twist the barge that Duke had repeatedly failed to kill proved to be his undoing as he failed the final 2+ save he was required to make and was vapourised. The remaining Necron flyers squared off against my bomber and there was only going to be one outcome there. This left me tabled with no VPs and gave my opponent maximum VPs. Least I didn't need to move my stuff!

Game Two - DE vs. Daemons/CSM
My first battle had been a total mismatch that I'd never expected to win. The next game involved three objectives spaced 18" apart along the centre line. Each objective was worth 1VP to a scoring unit at the end of each player turn. This is an interesting mission as it encourages players to get their scoring units into the midfield early and forces them to leave their transports. My opponent was Joe Freeman who was running four flying princes, a great unclean one, some plaguebearers, cultists and a heldrake. I was pretty sure I could deal with the big daemons but it'd come down to how many points I could score before the heldrake arrived and upset the apple cart.

Knowing that scoring points early was crucial I disembarked two units of warriors onto objectives. I was then lucky enough to gun down the CSM prince and reduce the GUO to a single wound. The reavers double bladevaned the plaguebearers and cut a decent number down. I positioned the bikers in such a way that a daemon prince wouldn't be able to vector strike one and fire at the other. With two objectives in my hands I took 2 VPs. My opponent failed his Grimoire reducing one DP to 6++ which was left in the open. Another DP charged a squad of reavers and easily cut 3 down with the rest fleeing. The final remaining DP was able to use Psychic Shriek to clear one squad of kabalites from an objective. I was still able to take a further VP though.

The wyches advanced onto the central objective whilst I brought up some more kabalites to replaced their fallen comrades. The ravager brought the 6++ prince down to a single wound but he soaked up wounds from the wyches pistols, fleeing reavers' and fire from a venom on his 2+ cover save. It took a second venom to finish the job. This meant I wasn't able to lay much fire down on the prince in the centre, even so I managed to reduce him to a single wound which he only held onto thanks to 4+ FNP. The final daemon prince was able to survive fire from a Duke's squad with his 2+ cover save (I miss markerlights!). Still, I'd score another 3 VPs with my opponent yet to score.

The heldrake arrived and now the game was on. Unfortunately for him he wasn't able to clear enough wyches to stop them controlling the objective. The GUO and the cultists advanced towards the objective on my left. Luckily the unit of plaguebearers in reserve mishapped and would be delayed. I still held onto three objectives so I now had a 10-0 lead at the top of turn three.

My bomber arrived and targetted the GUO, thanks to the proximity of the cultists I was able to position the blasts to give me a lot of hits on them too. The GUO died to give me Slay the Warlord and all but one of the cultists perished. I tried to kill the final one off with a venom but only wounded once (!) and he made his cover save. The heldrake used it's vector strike to kill the remaining wyches and allow the plaguebearers to finally score a point. The plaguebearers came in from reserve successfully this time but for some reason they weren't dropped onto an objective. My bomber hit the remaining daemon prince with a bomb but cover saves protected it again. The bomber then managed to penetrate the heldrake only to strip the baleflamer away.

By this point I'd racked up so many VPs that my opponent didn't stand a chance. Still, he managed to make Duke run off the board and did enough to kill 75% of my army for a secondary VP (part of the custom scenario). In the end it finished 23-3 which helped make up for my zero in the first round.

Game Three - DE vs. Tau (Farsight Bomb)
My final game would be first time up against a Farsight bomb. Chris Cole was running it with a FW librarian (who's name I forget) that allowed him to simply pick Gate and any other powers he wanted.

The mission might allow me to still win the game though despite the mismatch. This is a scenario I think the venue has borrowed from Warmachine (I don't play it though). Basically there's an area in the middle of the board (the white bit that blends into the white table!). You need to have scoring unit in there to score VPs when you kill an enemy unit. Your unit can remain in its transport but if you haven't got a scoring unit in the zone when you kill something you don't get a point. At the end of the game any units in the zone (scoring or otherwise) count for 1 bonus VP each. Basically I'd need to kill off Chris' troops and stop him scoring more points.

I won the roll off again (I'm pretty good at that!). The bomb had to be deployed of course but there was very little point shooting at it. I had the odd speculative shot but didn't kill anything thanks to 2+ saves. The rest of my army focussed on his troops. I was able to take out his scouts and pathfinders straight away giving me 3 VPs (two plus First Blood). I'd tried to spread out my vehicles as much as possible but I'd left a glaring hole in the middle of my army that also happened to be area terrain to give his bomb 2+ cover. This effectively lost me the game in one stroke. The bomb moved into it and he managed to kill 6 units with it thanks to the number of target locks. Knowing in the final turn he'd move them into the "mosh pit" and claim 4 extra VPs I now needed to find 8 VPs from somewhere!

Basically I'd need Linebreaker and kill everything outside the bomb plus two units from inside the bomb! Pretty much impossible after losing so much. Even so I lined up a couple of things against the bomb including my flyer which scored 14 wounds with it's missiles only for Chris to save all but 1 on 2+. Otherwise I focussed on the three units of kroot that made up the rest of Chris' scoring. A venom finished one unit off that'd been weakened by reavers in turn one whilst the other two units fell to charges from the reavers and wyches (now joined by Duke who'd lost his trueborn). This gave me FNP on both my units (useless against the S6+ of the bomb) but more importantly Chris couldn't score any more VPs until the end.

Sadly by now I had very little left to deal with the bomb which could happily jump around and pick me off. One of my ravagers tried twice to kill one of the two skyrays but failed miserably. Meanwhile the reavers charged in hoping to use their Furious Charge to bring down the other skyray failing miserably too. This left me with no hope of victory as, with the clock running down, Chris teleported the bomb back into the centre giving himself a 10-7 win.

Two of my three games were mismatches for me but I'm pleased that I managed to make my opponent work for the victories. Mind you, in both games I made crucial errors that really could've shifted the game in my favour.

In the first game I gave the wraiths a target to charge first turn. This gave them protection during my second turn and allowed them to consolidate up the field and cover more ground. There was no reason for my reavers to go so close and no way the wyches would've been locked in combat if they'd been charged on their own. Given the barges limited range I probably could've kept my venoms further back too. In my first turn I only scored a single wound on a wraith and the penalty was a dead venom. Rookie errors.

The second game was over by turn 3 really. Once I'd opened up a 9-0 lead and killed most of his troops there was little to no chance of him coming back. Nurgle daemon princes can be great against other armies but my poisoned and S8 weaponry doesn't care about T6. Mind you, FNP 4+ became annoying.

In the third game I left a piece of area terrain empty in the middle of all my vehicles. This was an obvious drop off for the Farsight bomb so I should've blasted a vehicle in there to force them elsewhere. This might've meant moving into the open where they would only get a 4+ cover save instead of 2+. This would've undoubtedly resulted in more drone casulaties and maybe even a few suits. With their firepower reduced I might've held onto my troops for long enough to score more VPs too. That and I'd have also minimised the number of targets they could hit in their first turn. Overall a huge mistake.

I wasn't originally a fan of the "mosh pit" mission (which I think is borrowed from Warmachine) but that and the second mission proved to make things interesting. If we'd been playing normal kill points then I couldn've have hoped to beat the Farsight bomb. It makes me think about looking at custom scenarios again for BW7. More on that after the Tyranid codex reviews though.

Ultimately this was the kind of performance I expected from my Dark Eldar. I was lucky last time to win all three games and I think the matchups flattered me. It hasn't put me off using the Dark Eldar though, if anything I'm more determined to get them painted and now that my airbrush is here I'm going to go at it in a big way. I'll leave you with the winner of the best painted:

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