Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Tournament Report - Kill It With Fire (1750pts) - Dark Eldar in 6th

Having threatened to take my Dark Eldar to several Blog Wars and only managing it once I thought it was time to give them another tournament outing. I haven't actually used my DE in a tournament since 6th edition hit. The reason for this was the death of the webway as none of my vehicles were painted enough to take to the usual three colour minimum events. However, as I mentioned the other day, the Outpost don't require any paint on the models so it seemed a good way to end the year. My very simple list was covered here.

Game One - DE vs. Eldar
Having looked around the room and seen the usual plethora of big things, I wasn't surprised when I was paired up with Dan Eatch and a duo of wraithknights. However, considering nearly everything in my army wounds them on 4+ I can't say I was worried about them. The three wave serpents on the other hand....

We'd be playing what was essentially Relic (although for some reason the central objective was only worth 2 VPs) and Vanguard Strike deployment. The tournament also uses Blood Points in every round. Luckily for me I won both the deployment zone and first turn roll offs and also managed to get Night Fighting. However, with so few points up for grabs I'd need to get First Blood or I'd be on the back foot for the whole game.

I focused all four venoms and one of the ravagers on one of the wraithknights whilst the other ravager targeted a wave serpent. I assumed that four venoms would be more than enough to get the job done. That was of course assuming that Dan rolled a reasonable number of 1s and 2s on his armour saves. The first three venoms reduced the wraithknight to 2 wounds. When the fourth caused 6 wounds I felt confident that I'd not only downed one of the monsters but also secured First Blood. Sadly, the dice gods didn't favour me and Dan passed all six 3+ saves. All was not lost however, if the Ravager got lucky I'd still kill the thing. Unfortunately I only took one more wound leaving the wraithknight standing. The other ravager could only take a hull point from the wave serpent. Meanwhile my two raiders had blasted up the board so that I could make the most of the haywire grenades. With so many AV10 vehicles I was now almost guaranteed to give away First Blood.

Sure enough Dan easily took out the two raiders with the Hornets and Wraitknights. The wave serpents were underwhelming with low rolls on the serpent shields. Still they claimed hull points on the venoms. Fortunately for me one wraithknight failed his charge against Duke. The other wraithknight, with one wound remaining, attempted to charge the wyches. The wyches had other ideas though and caused two wounds with their splinter pistols which was enough to kill the mighty creature!! Lucky break for sure.

Duke and his squad attempted to finish off one of the wave serpents with their blasters but could only take a single hull point despite being in the rear arc. This forced them to go in with haywire grenades to finish the job. With the rear hatch blocked the dire avengers were forced to many an emergency disembarkation and were therefore pinned. The wyches pulled a similar number on Eldrad's wave serpent but without the pinning. The venoms lined up to gun down the second wraithknight but could only strip four wounds. The reavers had lined up to sweep across the dire avengers that I hoped would be out if I blew up a wave serpent. Instead they fired their splinter rifles at the wraithknight and yet again it survived on a single bloody wound.

However, with two of the serpents down and not much hope for the remaining wraithknight I felt pretty good about the game. What should've been the easiest vehicles to kill on the board, the hornets, proved to be near invincible and I didn't manage to stop them forcing enough 2+ saves for him to succumb to instant death. I was now a First Blood and Slay the Warlord down. When the warp spiders arrived in my back corner I was pretty much certain to give up Linebreaker too! My only hope then was to claim the objective. Luckily I still had all four kabalite units (the wyches had been gunned down by Eldrad's unit). I surrounded the objective so that it couldn't be contested so now I just needed to get Linebreaker and Slay the Warlord to claim a narrow victory. The reavers would almost certainly give me linebreaker but I'd need to shift Eldrad. Bladevanes had dealt with his dire avengers but he'd moved behind a building so only a single venom could see him. Luckily for me this was enough to gun him down and give me the 4-3 win with 1,560 BPs.

Game Two - DE vs. Space Marines (Minotaurs)
The event allowed Forge World so I was facing Minotaurs led by their funky character dude (Moloch or something?). Anyway, the list was essentially centurions, tac squads in rhinos, stormtalons, scouts and a thunderfire. I was jammy again and took the First Turn and Night Fighting.

We were playing Purge the Alien on Dawn of War which is pretty much the last thing I should be playing with a paper army like Dark Eldar. Once again then I'd need to get the secondaries if I could. I started the game well with the venoms and Duke's squad conspiring to give me Moloch as First Blood. Sadly my opponent, Mark, had made the librarian his warlord but two VPs was a good start. The rhinos had stayed off the board so I focused my efforts on the remainder of the army hoping I'd have freed up the ravagers to kill the rhinos when they arrived. Once again the wyches blasted forward, lost their transport but were able to charge the scouts and stayed locked for most of the game. This allowed me to slowly chip away at the centurions, eventually killing them and the librarian over my first few turns.

The stormtalons arrived and tried to gun down some of my vehicles. One of the venoms died off but my raider held on with a single HP. The rhinos arrived one at a time but as ever the ravagers (even with help from the voidraven) struggled to destroy them. One of the tac squads disembarked though which allowed me to kill them off for another point with massed fire from Duke. A ravager was able to focus fire on the techmarine and kill him off to get rid of both him and the thunderfire.

With the other rhino far from the action and the rest of the army pretty much wiped out the battle essentially boiled down to me trying to chip away a few more VPs whilst trying to keep my vehicles safe. When the dust settled at the end of turn 6 I'd scored 12 VPs (incl. 3 secondaries) to Mark's 5 giving me an unexpected second win with my Dark Eldar. The last game was guaranteed to be tough though!

Game Three - DE vs. Space Marines (Imperial Fists)
After I recovered from the shock of being on table one with my Dark Eldar, I discovered I'd be playing even more Space Marines but this time of the Imperial Fists variety (although sadly not yellow). Kev Cochrane was equally surprised to be on table one but clearly he must know what he was doing to have got there. The mission we'd be playing involved dividing the board into six 2'x2' zones which any unit could control or contest. The exception being ICs who could contest but not control. The three zones in my table half would be worth four points to Kev but only two to me.

This time around I wasn't so lucky and, despite getting to pick deployment for the third time in a row, I wouldn't be going first this time. I did, however, manage to get the Night Attacker warlord trait I'd been trying to get all day. Kev had some centurions, a thunderfire, three rhinos with tac squads, some bikes with a captain, a stalker and a stormtalon. The bikes and centurions were likely to make mincemeat of my vehicles so it was always going to be an uphill struggle. I had a brief glimmer of hope when I successfully rolled to Seize only to be reminded that it wasn't in play in the final mission. Gutted.

Sure enough two of my venoms went down to the centurions straight away thanks to Split Fire. One kabalite unit was pinned whilst the other was reduced in number. The bikes turbo-boosted forward to be in range of my other venoms in turn two. Luckily the thunderfire could only cause a single hull point on one of the ravagers and the stalker was scuppered by Night Fighting. Two of the rhinos advanced on my right flank whilst the third hit the left. Kev had infiltrated some scouts which put them in range of a turn 1 charge by my wyches. The remaining venoms targeted the bikes but thanks to some great rolling from Kev they only suffered a single casualty. One ravager dealt with the stalker whilst the other attempted to take out the rhino on my left. As ever it failed to do so and I was feeling very pressed in.

The bikes charged into my venoms destroying one whilst the other made its flickerfield saves and survived. One tactical squad disembarked on the right and gunned down some kabalites. The scouts were wiped out by the wyches which left them free to charge the tactical squad. Despite having two pain tokens, and hence Furious Charge, the wyches failed to kill a single marine and would stay locked for a couple of turns. Eventually they lost the combat and fled only to be gunned down in the next enemy turn.

For some reason the bikes seemed invincible. Despite wounding them on 4s like everything else I couldn't seem to make Kev fail any armour saves. To look at the board at this point you'd think it was obvious that I'd lost. At the back of my mind though I was thinking about the mission which stated that if you controlled all three of your enemy's zones at the end of any turn then you won automatically with full VPs. To do that I'd need to shift the thunderfire, crippled stalker and centurions. One of the ravagers easily dealt with the thunderfire (thanks to jammy rolling). The centurions were another matter though. With Kev easily making 3+ saves on his bikes I didn't fancy my chances against the 2+ save centurions.

The mistake I made was to fire the flyer at the bikes instead of the centurions but at the time they seemed like a priority target. Indeed I was in danger of giving up my zones and an automatic win too. The captain had split from the bikes and was working his way through my back line. The tactical squads had dealt with the kabalites and wyches. I'd kept my two squads of reavers in reserve and was trying to make the most of their bladevanes by sweeping back and forth across the board.

At the end of Kev's turn 5, I had to assess my options. I'd need to contest some of my own zones whilst still going for some of my opponent's. With Kev having scored all three secondaries I needed at least 4 more points than him from the zones. There was still a chance I could pull a win from this game. My ravager controlled the left hand enemy zone, the centurions would control the centre and my voidraven (flyers could score) swept into the right hand zone giving me a 6 VP lead in his half. In my own half I had tactical squads claiming two zones and a bike contesting the third with my kabalites. I swept the reavers back into my central zone to contest it but that still left me a point behind. My only hope was that the three remaining kabalites could finally gun down the last biker. In a final bit of luck they did the job giving me two points for the zones and a 10-9 victory.

I'd managed to win all three games with my Dark Eldar and hoped that winning on the top table would give me a tournament win too. Sadly, Matt had other ideas and he took maximum points from his game on table two to win and push me into second place. I can't complain at that though as my target for the day was to win at least one of my games!

Could I have won the event outright though? Obviously luck plays a major factor at tournaments. If I'd done better in my opening game then I'd have probably ended up with stiffer competition in the second and probably been smacked back down. The only way I could've won would've been to claim maximum points from the final game and that never really felt possible.

In the first game I really should've focused on First Blood though and concentrated all of my fire on a single wraithknight. There was nothing stopping me from doing it and to leave it on a single wound was hugely frustrating.

There's no denying I was lucky to go first in 2 out of 3 games and certainly lucky to get Night Fighthing throughout. Both of those things are HUGE for Dark Eldar. You really need to cripple your opponent early on to minimise the damage you'll receive in return. I gambled by not taking Baron to give me a better chance of going first but I always struggle with what to do with him. Duke did well (despite me forgetting my actual Duke model and borrowing a Farseer to replace him). He died in two of the games but not before doing his job. Having all those 3+ poisoned shots in a game dominated by big creatures is excellent.

In fact, poisoned shooting is excellent right now. Having four venoms causing on average 16 wounds per turn no matter what they target is difficult for any big thing to deal with. I'm not sure how effective they've be against tons of Tyranid MCs but at least they don't care about Iron Arm.

The biggest thing I'll take away from today is to not give up. In the final game I was very much on the back foot and the blood point totals of 738 to 1,320 attest to that. I've been in Kev's position before, feeling like you've got your opponent on the ropes only to lose in the last throw of the dice. It's why objective games exist I suppose but I know how frustrating it can be from the other side. They key thing though is to keep up the pretense that you've got no hope. If you've always got a wry smile on your face despite heavy losses then your opponent is going to get paranoid and realise they haven't got it all sewn up.

Right, that's more than enough rambling. This will almost certainly be my last tournament of the year and I'm glad I've ended on a high. Clearly people have forgotten how to play Dark Eldar so it's time they got some love even if GW doesn't seem to have a codex on the horizon for them.


  1. Brilliant report, and well played.

    Definitely inspiration for my to bring my DE out of their case again.

    I think the Baron's only worth it if you are including Beasts or Hellions for him to go with.

    How did you Voidraven get on ? I really like using my own voidraven, but I'm tempted with the extra models I could get if I swapped it for a 3rd ravager.


    1. Voidraven wasn't excellent to be honest but it didn't meet the right kind of army. The troops were in transports when it arrived so no killing them with missiles. I rolled badly for the lances and there was rarely anything to bomb.

      Still think I'd take one over the ravager. More survivable and good for enemy flyers.

  2. adam kerby jones12 March 2014 at 12:40

    Very nice reports mate, as a tournament player myself (albeit a white scars one) I understand the effectiveness of the "poker face". As I'm now ditching the marines for dark eldar (how I stumbled across this blog) I was wondering how to build a highly effective army, and yet I seem to struggle when it comes to hqs, elites (other than the obvious trueborn) and fast attack


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