Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bat Rep: 1,500 point 3-Way Battle

For our Saturday big game, we decided to play a 1,500 point, three way battle, using the rules we'd debated primarily in this post. Evan ran Guardian-heavy Eldar, Ron had his Tau, and Chandler ran a fun Space Wolf list he came up with day of.

For this Bat Rep, we're going to try something different and each of us will write up the events of our turn, along with before and after action thoughts.
Army Selection

I went with 1,500 points of Space Wolves bringing two of the most well known leaders.  I decided that Ragnar Blackmane and Bjorn the Fell-Handed would be two fun choices.  Bjorn had his Assault Cannon traded out for a Twin Linked Lascannon (BS6 Twinlinked S:9 Fun). I decided to bring one group of Grey Hunters with 2 flamers to accompany Ragnar in a Redeemer, the other Grey Hunters would have 2 Plasma Guns in a Rhino to be a mobile platform.  I then had a Squad of Missile Fangs with a Whirlwind that had a Hunter Killer Missile and finally a Dreadnought in a Drop Pod to drop and cause some havoc.  This list was designed to remove cover with flamers and whirlwind ordnance as well as missile fire to hopefully remove some suits.

My 1,500 points of Tau was lead by a Commander and an ethereal.  The commander took warlord honors, a drone controller, iridium armor, target lock, and a pair of fusion blasters.  He was accompanied by an 8 man strong marker light entourage (2 purchased as war gear for the 2 point discount each, the other 6 as fast attack slot).  Rounding out my fast attack were 2 squads of 6 pathfinders.  My troops were 3 squads of 10 fire warriors - 2 of which had a shas'ui with a marker light, and the third hosted the ethereal.  A riptide with early warning override, velocity tracker (useless this game due to no flyers), SMS, and an ion accelerator was my sole elite.  The heavy support slot was populated by three missilesides with missile drones, and longstrike in a railhead.  

I went with 1,500 points of Eldar as I could get them, mostly guardians, and a lot of proxies for this particular game. I used mostly the list in my Eldar List Building post, though I proxied a Fire Prism instead of the Falcon, and had a 20 man unit of Guardians (though only one weapon platform). The Dire Avenger exarch got a Shimmershield since they would be walking.


Chandler:  My warlord trait was interesting since my warlord was Bjorn (a dreadnought) and it allowed a Feel No Pain roll near an objective.  We determined that meant I had a 5+ FnP save for Bjorn, but in reality who the hell knows.  For my zone I chose the Bottom of the T so that I had both Ron and Evan that I could go after.  My deployment plan was to basically drop the Whirlwind ammo that removed cover saves and go after Ron's Firewarriors, Pathfinders, and whatever else ended up under the blast roll.  Bjorn would be tank/commander hunting while my other Dreadnought would be causing trouble.  The Rhino Crew would be driving around shooting until they had to go for an objective while my Landraider would provide cover for my Whirlwind while going straight into Ron's line with Flamers, Assault cannons, and Ragnar and Crew hiding inside.  My Long Fangs were deployed close to ruins so they could take off and hopefully get to cover to start firing at whatever they can see.

My warlord rolled 3d6 jump movement for him and his squad (amazing with the marker drones he was jumping around with!).  I had a no frills castle deployment here.  I started with my Aegis defense line providing cover for my Pathfinders and firewarriors - who were bubble wrapping the commander/drones, broadsides, who in turn, bubble wrapped the riptide and longstrike.  The tau codex has serious synergies for staying close together (supporting fire, ethereal buffs, etc), and I tried to capitalize on that.

I was pretty happy with my Warlord Trait (re-roll all 1s on saves) and my powers: Farseer - Perfect Timing, Guide, and Fortune, Conceal with the Warlocks accompanying Defenders, and Destructor/Renewer on the Storm Guardian Warlock.

Knowing the fragility of my units, I definitely didn't want to get pincered between the two other armies, and so deployed a little back in my zone, putting my large unit of Guardians all the way back in my zone, and everything else as back as possible while staying in cover as much as possible. On the front end of my deployment zone, I made a screen of the Dire Avengers, anchored by the Wraithlord, trusting on his durability to outlast whatever he faced.

Turn 1:

Drop-pod and dread kills 1 Dire Avenger and puts 1 wound on the Wraithlord. Whirlwind kills 2 pathfinders and a Broadside Missile drone.

I was luckily enough to get first turn and I have to say that target priority went straight to the Tau.  I knew that with the Marker Drones and Missile Drones, Evan and I would be screwed.  My initial plan was to drop the Drop Pod and Dreadnought straight in on Ron's other flank and just open up on him.  I then realized that it was a suicide mission and dropped the Pod on my opposite flank giving cover to my Rhino and placing a Dreadnought right next to the Wraithlord and between the Eldar and the central objective.  Firing should have been better spent because I shot Bjorn's Lascannon at Ron's Commander instead of his Hammerhead.  This would come back to haunt me.  Luckily my whirlwind did some damage and my Land Raider moved up to hopefully take out some of Ron's Troops.

Riptide wounds self with Nova charge (I wanted to have a second shot at cracking the Landraider). Longstrike uses 5 Markers and blows up the Land Raider, killing 1 occupant after 5 wounds. Broadsides deal a single hullpoint to the Whirlwind while the rest kill the Farseer's 10 guardians, Farseer, and Warlock. Fire Warriors shoot at the Wraithlord, do 1 wound, but it is saved. Other FW squad gets 4 hits on the Grey Hunters but no wounds. Riptide's blast on the fire prism is saved by cover, but kills 5 storm guardians, who pass morale.

This was a huge (read: lucky) turn for the Tau.  The landraider could have singlehandedly wiped out my army - stopping that was priority one.  I noticed that Evan's warlord was in broadside range during deployment, and knew the broadsides would be devastating to that unit - though I didn't expect them to wipe it off the board.  Marker light support really made this turn for me with two squads of pathfinders and the marker drones all putting out a lot of hits.

One Warp Spider is lost in the Warp; the survivors kill a couple pathfinders. Fire prism, Guardian Bright Lance, and Wraithlord combine to kill two Broadsides and two missile drones. 

Well, that sucked. Going last definitely hurt me, though my deployment was pretty terrible too. The farseer should have been with the big unit of guardians, and everyone should have been further back in my zone and farther from the Tau castle-of-death. My movement started with the Warp Spiders hoping to use their speed to close the gap and I promptly rolled double 2s, losing one in the warp and not going nearly far enough. The Storm Guardian Warlock cast renewer on the Wraithlord, restoring him to full health, and they moved up, hoping to find some cover. The Wraithlord decided to avoid a fight with the Dreadnought in front of him and instead moved into the woods, which were revealed to be Iron Bark - 3+ Cover. The Dire Avengers promptly followed into the sturdy cover. Finally, the Autrarch showed off just some of his range, running all the way out into the central ruin and revealing the central, four point objective.

Deciding the Broadsides had to die, I fired just about everything at them, killing two of the suits and 2 drones. The Warp Spiders ran, but were out of range of anything juicy, and settled for killing a pathfinder before hopping back into the ruins that were supposed to protect my Guardians and Farseer - probably  not a good omen.

Turn 2:
Dread kills Warlock on back guardians. Bjorn shakes Longstrike. Whirlwind hits 2 Pathfinders, 7 FW, and 2 Broadsides, doing 1, 7, and 1 wounds, killing 1, 3, and 1 missile drone. FW run 3", staying on by less than an inch.

So The Lone Dreadnought decided that he was going to move a little and try to work on Evan's Guardians while the rest of my army took on Ron's Firing line.  Bjorn hit Longstrike and managed a shaken result while my whirlwind decided to drop the hammer and crushed Ron's units in cover.  Unfortunately, the Long Fangs couldn't do too much because they were moving while Ragnar's crew decided to sprint like hell for the ruins to hide and make their way to the center objective.  Rhino decided to move and try to work up to a healthy Plasma range.

FW regroup, other FW kill 2 warpspiders before the second unit finishes them off. Longstrike kills fire prism, Riptide shakes whirlwind.

Longstrike repeats his turn 1 success and takes out the fire prism who almost wiped out my broadside unit at the end of turn one (revenge killing for revenge killing my broadsides who killed the warlord squad).  Other than that, not too much going on.

Combined shooting kills a single marker drone. Guardian Bright Lance shakes dreadnought.

Can't say I was surprised to lose another unit, though I had high hopes for the Warp Spiders, so that was a little disappointing. Also some bad Warlock placement on my part was just dumb to get him killed. Having reduced the Broadsides' effectiveness, now the Marker Drones needed to die. I moved the Dire Avengers out into range, and moved the Wraithlord further into the woods. The Guardians in my back corner slogged their way up the table. Having proven his point about his range and ridiculous ability to use cover, the Autarch decided to sprint from the middle of the board around behind the rock pile and as out of sight as possible.

I moved my Storm Guardians over, hoping to get the Singing Spear in range of the dread. I promptly rolled a 1 for their run, rerolling a 1 as well, winding up about 13" away. The Dire Avengers and Wraithlord knocked a single Marker drone down, then the Dire Avengers ran back into the Iron bark woods. The Guardians aimed their bright lance at the dread and managed to shake it in revenge for killing the Warlock. And that was it for my turn - less eventful than I'd like.

Turn 3: 
Dread snapshots and kills 3 Storm Guardians, drop pod kills another. Longfangs kill 1 marker drone.

So Turn 3 was basically me trying to figure out how to best survive and slowly advance.  The Whirlwind (MVP of my Team) took off for hiding popping smoke.  Bjorn moved and fired doing nothing to the Hammerhead.  The Long Fangs firing Krak missiles didn't do too much, but the Dreadnought and Drop Pod proceeded to show that Snapshots and a pissed off dreadnought could take out 4 Storm Guardians.

Commander wounds the Wraithlord before the Riptide kills it. FW kill DA Exarch and 1 DA. Longstrike kills 7 guardians on objective.

The Riptide came out big this turn - wiping out the wraithlord who had its sights on tearing through the Tau line.  Longstrike again does more than he should and wipes the Eldar objective clear.

Swarmlord, acting as Wraithlord, gets taken down by the Tau big guns.
Autarch kills the Ethereal and is then killed by overwatch. Storm Guardians charge dreadnought and draw combat.

Thank god those guardians didn't run away. I moved them back up onto the objective, hugging cover, though it probably wouldn't help them. The Autarch used his jump pack to leap the back line of Firewarriors and come down right next to the Ethereal. The surviving Dire Avengers again popped just out of the woods and the blob of Guardians continued their slow march. The Warlock and sole remaining storm Guardian make their way to the Dread, with the Warlock failing to hit it with his spear.

The Autarch blasts the Ethereal with his fusion gun and he fails his Look Out, Sir! roll. Woo! Point to the Eldar. The Avengers do more or less nothing and then run back into cover. Accepting he is going to die, the Autarch tries to charge the firewarriors and is promptly blasted into oblivion (in hindsight, I should have left him there and forced the Tau to shoot him in their own turn). The Storm Guardian and Warlock charge the Dread, and both sides wiff terribly.

Turn 4: 
Whirlwind does 2 hits, 1 wound, saved on Broadsides and 5 hits, 4 wounds and 3 kills on FW who run 5", again staying just on the board. Long fangs 4 krak missiles on Commader does 2 W, kills 2 drones. Bjorn fails to hurt Longstrike. Grey Hunters kill 1 pathfinder, and the squad runs. No wounds either way between Dread and Warlock.

So the Whirlwind continued it's long range assault getting another unit to run like hell.  The Long Fangs were able to get 2 drones out of the way, but Bjorn failed to damage the Hammerhead.  This would prove to be fatal because the only two priority targets are the Whirlwind and Bjorn.  Turn 4 was to be the last turn where my army was truly effective.

Pathfinders continue running, but on board, FW rally. Longstrike kills Bjorn. Riptide does 8 hits and 7 unsaved wounds on Grey Hunters. Broadsides kill 2 longfangs.

Again Longstrike is just on fire.  Bjorn even made him reroll the first damage result of a 6 (due to his special ability), rolling a 5 - with ap1 modifying it to still take him out.  Riptide vs. space marines is cheese - I probably should have been doing this sooner.

Guardians kill FW squad. Dire Avengers kill 2 FW from a different squad. Warlock glances Dread.

In movement, my big unit of guardians finally rounds the corner around the rock pile, getting most of the unit in range to shoot and duck back behind the rocks. The Dire Avengers, again, pop out of the woods. In the shooting phase, the storm of Shurikens completely annihilates one Fire Warrior squad. The squad then ducks back behind the rocks to try to avoid some return fire. The Dire Avengers manage to kill two fire warriors from a middle squad, and then duck back into the woods once again. In combat, the Warlock glances the Dread with his spear, taking it down to one hull point remaining.

Turn 5: 
Long fangs kill 1 Marker drone. Whirlwind hits 5 FW, 3 Broadside, 2 CMDR, doing 3, 2, and 0 W respectively, killing 1 broadside drone. Grey hunters on CMDR get 3 hits, killing 1 drone with plasma. Dreadnought kills remaining storm guardian but Warlock makes saves.

The Long Fangs kept up their fire on Commander's squad, but they were just not as effective.  The Whirlwind apparently liked the taste of Tau because the rounds kept coming down right in the center of the squads.  The Dreadnought was locked in battle and couldn't hit anything locked in combat.  The Grey Hunters tried, but failed to do anything to the Commander.

Pathfinders rally. CMDR kills 2 Grey Hunters. Firewarriors finish them off. Longstrike kills off objective guardians.

Longstrike ate his wheaties this morning, holy crap.  Another submunition round/SMS clearing of the eldar objective - it's surprising how effective an anti tank powerhouse can be at clearing troops with a few marker lights.  At this point I held my primary objective, and had the middle objective contested with the commander, and 3VPs due to killing warlords (with a bonus from Bjorn).  I felt pretty confident if the game ended I would be on top.

Guardians kill all but two FW, lose 3 to overwatch and fail charge. Dread kills Warlock.

The Warlock stands! He's the only model left now in my deployment zone, and if he somehow manages to kill the dread, might be able to get back and hold my objective. Meanwhile the remaining Guardians move forward to try to charge the Fire Warriors who jumped out to shoot at them. The Dire Avengers are a broken record and hop out, shoot ineffectively, and hop back into the woods. The guardians kill all but two Fire Warriors and I choose to not run away to try to make a charge, but then fail the distance after losing 3 to overwatch. In combat, the Warlock falls; spoke too soon.

Turn 6:
Drop pod kills 1 marker drone. Dread kills 2 more. Long fangs do 2 W on CMDR. Whirlwind kills 3 FW, 1  Broadside drone.

Once again, the Dreadnought locking down the side kept right on firing while the Drop Pod decided he wanted some Tau too.  The Long Fangs hit the commander doing two wounds while the Whirlwind just kept killing Fire Warriors.

Broadsides kill 1 Grey Hunter on 5 W. Longstrike does 4 W, killing 1 with SMS, 6 hits, 5 wounds and 3 die from submunition, Riptide kills 1.

CMDR fails against Whirlwind.  I assault phase jumped the commander over (thanks to the 3d6 warlord jump move) to contest the SW objective just in case the game ended after turn 6.

Guardians wipe out FW.

I move the guardians closer to the Tau objective, but it's still quite surrounded by stuff I can't get through. The Dire Avengers see their opening for the middle objective and overcome some fairly poor rolls to get just within 3" of it with their run. My big guardian squad moves up a little and wipes out the Fire Warriors who were in their way.

Turn 7: 
Longfangs kill 1 DA on middle objective. Whirlwind kills 3 FW (wiped out). Grey Hunter and Ragnar charge CMDR, challenge, 1 wound to Ragnar, 4 saved by CMDR.

This is where the game got interesting.  The Long Fangs tried to clear Evan's unit from the center objective while the Whirlwind finally knocked out a Fire Warrior Squad.  Ragnar let loose a howl and Charged in on the Commander.  Ragnar accepts the Commander's challenge unleashing 9 AP3 close combat attacks.  Unfortunately the Commander made 4 saves while Ragnar took a Wound.

Longstrike kills remaining DA. Riptide wounds CMDR on scattered shot, 1 longfang, 1 Grey Hunter. Combat no wounds.

Having no troops left I needed to clear the last remaining Grey Hunter on the SW objective or the game would be a tie with Chandler should my commander die in assault (though he did surprisingly well even against a dedicated CC space marine character).  The only choice I had was a Riptide large blast targeting the nearby longfangs - the blast scattered just enough to clip my commander but also got the last Grey Hunter!  Meanwhile, Longstrike cleared another objective, killing the final Dire Avenger. Stories of Longstrike's luck this game will be told for many battles to come.

Guardians fail to damage Longstrike.

Well that was close, the Dire Avenger almost held on to that objective by going to ground, but I hadn't really expected him to survive the game continuing. My guardians move up close to Longstrike, hoping to exact some revenge since they cannot possibly reach the objective, but fail to damage him. And so, the game comes to a close.

Final: Ron 3 (Slay the Warlord (x2), Bjorn bonus point), Evan 1 (Ethereal kill) and Chandler 0.

Final Thoughts:
I have to say that I got lucky on all counts.  I got to choose my side, and luckily got both Ron's and Evan's flanks.  I also got lucky in going 1st.  After seeing what the Tau are capable of, I definitely needed to unleash more on Ron turn 1 and possibly moved flat out with my land raider or pop smoke.  I was excited by how everything played out with respect to the center objective, and it was challenging trying to determine who needed to go after what for each army.

Without a doubt, my MVP was the Whirlwind.  It was the only thing that could take out Ron's Fire warriors in hiding behind the Aegis Defense Line and the fact that it was a Large Blast Ordnance Barrage that ignored cover at AP5 was nothing to laugh at.  He is only 95 points and proceeded to get his Money's worth.  I wish that the rest of my Army (looking at you Land Raider) could have done the same for their points, but it is what it is.

My Greatest Disappointment had to be the Land Raider.  At AV14 getting one shotted and not even coming close to rolling into Ron's line was a little disappointing but, he should have at least survived to turn 2 and that hopefully would have changed what happened to Evan.

It is hard to say what I would change.  I think that with Three players, no matter what we do, someone is going to get screwed and more than likely it is going to be the person going last.  I feel that a Three player game would work in the future if we changed how the turn's were because even though I didn't go after Evan, it was still difficult for Evan to get a foot hold and do work against the Tau or even me.

Holy Longstrike batman.  While the broadsides wiping out Evan's warlord (including his unit) was game changing, and the marker drone + commander squad ensured a ton of marker hits for almost the whole game, I have to give the MVP honors to Longstrike.  Had he not killed the land raider turn one, Chandler would have easily plowed in to my castle with the landraider, flaming me, causing all sorts of morale checks followed by dumping out 10 greyhunters+ragnar to wipe the floor with my army.

That turn 1 destruction alone would have been enough for me to award him MVP, but he wasn't done there.  He one shotted the fire prism turn 2, wiped the eldar objective clear with submunition rounds turn 3, one shotted bjorn turn 4, re-cleared the eldar objective turn 5, and managed to kill the lone remaining Dire Avenger on the objective turn 7...phew.  He had an insanely lucky day - earning 2 Victory Points with Bjorn, and keep both players from capturing their objectives.

I can't give longstrike all of the credit though - the support he received from marker lights is what really made him so disgusting.  The commander + marker drones squad was super mobile with the 3d6 jump packs, and I was able to use them quite effectively in game.  I think if Chandler and Evan had focus fired that squad down, longstrike wouldn't have been anywhere near as devastating.  Evan made the point that it was hard to not shoot at the thing causing the direct damage (notably wiping a unit and HQ off the board in one go -E) - something that helped the commander and group to jump around marking things unimpeded until late game.  The riptide had a solid outing too, along with firewarriors, who both had some very lucky rolls.  The ethereal was nice but certainly not game changing - and gave up a Victory Point.

This game was a lot of fun, and could have easily gone to any of us towards the end.  None of us lost our home objective until the final round(s).  I had an exceptionally strong turn 1 which kept me in the game, but it was still far from in the bag until the final bell rang.  In the future I do think we need to somehow mitigate the disadvantage of the person going last - and I think doing away with round robin deployment might be the trick.    

Going last, or more importantly, after the Tau, is what killed me. A huge chunk of my battle plan went out the window before my first turn with my Farseer and center guardians disappearing. My deployment was pretty bad overall, and really dictated what I could do from there. I then made numerous tactical errors - such as not taking out the marker drones turn 1 with the Fire Prism and choosing to instead hit the Broadsides. My salvo definitely hampered them, but part of what made them nasty was the fact that their target was completely lit up by marker lights from those drones.

That's a lot of Guns!
It's hard to pick and MVP or a disappointment when not just about everything is gone at the end of the game (to be fair, I think some of it was just the nature of a 3 player game - all of us were on our last legs by the end). That said, I'll give MVP to the Autarch, who was fun to run around, and got me my sole Victory Point. Disappointment will go to the Warp Spiders, in part because I had high hopes for them. The Farseer would be a candidate, but it's not his fault he didn't do anything considering he never had a chance.

That said, and to end on a positive note, I think I learned a lot about the Eldar from this game, and about the Tau. It was the first time I'd seen either on the table, so it was interesting to see how things worked in practice rather than in theory. My lists' big holes are mostly an inability to hit something hard at range, and a difficulty to close that gap without getting shot to pieces without an absurd amount of intervening terrain. Adding some faster units and some more heavy weapons could benefit me. Also, Rangers might be better suited to holding backfield objectives, allowing me to actually take advantage of the Guardians weapons and new accuracy by moving them up if my opponent isn't going to come to me.

Stay Thirsty My Friends.

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