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Posts Tagged ‘Eldar’

Well, it is written in the Book of Hackneyed Old Prophecies that a meteorite shall strike the Earth, someone shall say something about someone else in a newspaper, and other stuff will happen – and all this will be taken as a sign that your correspondent may be about to finally get another game in. And you know what, it came to pass!

Having said that, I felt the pain of not having played at all since last September: rusty doesn’t begin to describe it, especially when you consider I’d only actually played four games in 6th Edition prior to this latest comeback. I know I was all set on doing a WFB army, but that just wasn’t happening so I broke out the Blood Angels again to see if my lengthy meditation on the army had had any effect on how I played with them.

bloodangels

Well, I ended up in a pick-up game against Eldar at 2K. None of the new Blood Angel units I’ve been tinkering with were ready for the table (strictly speaking, half the existing army isn’t quite ready, not that it hasn’t stopped me playing them for nearly two years on-and-off) so I took a fairly standard list (for me, anyway) – built around two full-sized Tactical Squads, half an Assault Squad, a big chunk of Death Company with their Dreadnought, a firestorm Dreadnought, Devastators with plasma cannon and an attack bike with a melta.

It turns out I have been undervaluing my Sanguinary Priest as I’ve always forgotten he gives Furious Charge to whoever’s near him, so he got another run out. Just for the hell of it I decided to give the Sanguinor his debut, and to get us up to 2000 points quickly and easily I brought Astorath along. Yes, two special characters in the same list. No, I’m not proud.

The Eldar army was led by Karandras and a huge squad of Striking Scorpions in an infiltrating Wave Serpent (I didn’t know they could do this), another big squad of Wraithguard, a Wraithlord, some Dire Avengers, some Fire Dragons (both in Wave Serpents too), a war Walker, and some D-Cannon. Oh, and a Farseer.

The mission involved grabbing control of objectives with a random value. I ended up ignoring them; the main effect they had was due to the most valuable one ending up on the roof of a colossal building in No Man’s Land.

Anyway we squeezed our armies into our deployment zones (playing 2K on a 4×4′ table has its moments) and I managed to seize the initiative. Everything trotted forward with the Attack Bike immobilising Karandras’ transport and the Dreadnought killing a D-Cannon crewman; nothing else had a shot.

Not surprisingly the Eldar had me outgunned at all ranges, and their various lances and missile launchers were able to concentrate against my own, minimal heavy weapon units: the Attack Bike died almost at once and the Dreadnought was immobilised.

Obviously I had to close with the Eldar, but this brought me into a killing ground in front of the D-cannon, Wraithcannon, Avenger catapults and Fusion guns of the Eldar elite. I think I could have made some chances here had I not been rusty on the rules; as it turned out the mechanised Tactical Squad and the Death Company both ended up hung out to dry after leaving their vehicles but being unable to assault on the same turn (even though the vehicles hadn’t moved). The D-Cannon were devastating against my troops, still somewhat bunched as they were after leaving the transports, and the Eldar’s psychic presence – Puppet Master and Psychic Shriek – took a savage toll as well.

When the Death Company are wiped out in a single turn’s shooting without ever executing a charge, you know the Blood Angels are in for a torrid game, and yet it wasn’t all bad. The mid-to-late game put a smile back on my face as one Assault Marine and the Priest assaulted and slaughtered all of the gun crews, while the Sanguinor single-handedly wiped out the Fire Dragons on the charge.

At this point we had to halt the game, but I was prepared to concede – I had left the Sanguinor, on his own in the open, the two Assault models, a Tactical Squad bogged down in a frustrating sniping match with a Wave Serpent, and the Devastators (who were in a prime position to get Puppet Mastered every turn by the Farseer). After hiding from the Sanguinor in his immobilised transport for the entire game, Karandras and his retinue had finally emerged while the main objective was occupied by Wraithguard (one advantage of this was that they could barely shoot at anything, the ground was practically out of range of their guns). In theory I had two more turns to play but I doubt I could have shifted the Wraithguard.

Hey ho, we shall never know. What do I take away from this game? A burning sense of familiarity with the disembarkation rules, for one thing, but also some food for thought about army composition, as I’m not sure how I could have improved my chances in this game.

Well, a Librarian might have given me some psychic protection against the Farseer’s trick powers, I suppose: this guy really was a pain, but partly down to sheer luck – using Puppet Master, he killed two Death Company with a hand flamer (!) and immobilised the DC Dreadnought using a plasma cannon. Psychic shriek was also very nasty. But the main problems I felt I faced were dealing with the Eldar artillery and AT guns at a distance. It occurs to me that the hit-anywhere (on a good day) charge of a Vanguard Squad would have been massively useful against the D-Cannons, which – as it turned out – badly damaged the Death Company and utterly obliterated a full Tactical Squad. Would a Devastator Squad with four missile launchers have been more effective? I can’t help but think so; but then they would have been a priority target and required ablative squad members, so we’d be looking at a 200+ point unit rather than the 100+ points the existing one was.

Oh well: the ability of the Blood Angels to cause carnage at close quarters got a bit of a demonstration, although the Priest needn’t really have brought his chalice – the Assault Squad had the Red Thirst anyway. And the Sanguinor didn’t exactly distinguish himself, firstly by giving his blessing to the Devastator Sergeant (gee, thanks), and then by charging a Wave Serpent and missing with all six of his 3+ attacks. He didn’t get a chance to engage Karandras, which is where he really would have shone, I suspect, but he wasn’t embarrassing either. Astaroth was really very average, as usual: I’m starting to agree with everyone that he should only come to the table if you want to unlock multiple Death Company squads for your army.

Hey ho, not a brilliant comeback, but it could have gone worse. Sort-of in the works at the moment are the other half of Assault squad III/8, a Land Speeder, a Stormraven gunship, and an Honour Guard retinue for Captain Zedrenael, but the call of a Vanguard Squad – or at least Assault Terminators – is hard to ignore. The game I have provisionally lined up for next week is against a Blood Raven army at 1500 points, and I’m not quite sure which way to go in it. My main point of concern is the fact that I’m 95% certain the Blood Raven general is taking a Stormtalon, which I currently have no way of engaging at all (I can’t finish my own gunship by next week and even if I did I’ve no way of transporting it to the game venue).

I’m not really looking for advice on list design in general, but I do wonder how – short of a Stormraven – other Blood Angel armies get their AA complement? Especially given that the AA unit of choice for most Space Marine lists (the Contemptor Dreadnought with helical targeting array) is specifically not available for our army. Personally I’ve mainly contemplated a throw-enough-mud-and-something’ll-stick approach – a 9th Company Dreadnought with twin autocannon mounts, for example – but I know this is neither an elegant nor a realistic solution given the nastiness of some of the fliers out there. What do other people do? I would be interested to hear, even if it’s mainly of academic interest ahead of next week’s engagement. I suspect I will just have to try and hide from the plane by getting everything into combat as fast as possible; at least that will play to the army’s strengths.

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What a complex, intricate and eternally surprising thing life is shown to be by the unexpected questions of correct behaviour thrown up even by a fairly routine wargame. This is of course another way of saying I was the recipient of yet another grand spanking in the traditional style.

Interestingly, though, it seems like my first mistake occurred days before the game even started. I arranged this via the club website, at which juncture I casually mentioned not just the points value of the game but also the army I’d be taking (the Deathwing, again).

I was a little crestfallen when I turned up for the game and found my opponent cheerfully unpacking squad after squad of Pathfinders and Fire Dragons, along with an Avatar and a Wraithlord – lots and lots of low AP guns and close-combat attacks: basically this was a list custom-built to pop Terminators. ‘Well, you told me you were bringing Deathwing,’ he explained cheerfully.

Hmmm. I must confess I haven’t been above doing vaguely similar things in the past – most notably, I suppose, buying a Whirlwind and some assault marines to take on an all-scout Marine army that had given me some trouble – but I still wonder about the sportsmanship of this kind of thing. Obviously you’re going to play to win and take advantage of every edge that you have, but it seems to me that custom-building to take on a specific opponent is only really justifiable if both sides have the chance to do it. Did I know I’d be facing Eldar? No. I had been promised ‘Eldar, or possibly Space Wolves, or possibly both’, which gave me considerably less to work with than my opponent had. Hum.

Anyway, we proceeded to the game, which involved an attempt to grab a portable objective and hang onto it until the game’s end (the objective is one of those mystical game-balancey items that can survive a battle cannon going off on it without a scratch but irretrievably shatters if you load it into a transport plane), played along the length of the table.

I can’t ever recall going into a game with such a conviction I was going to get crushed, but going second against such an imposing Eldar gunline, that was how I felt. Vague thoughts along the lines of ‘why are we even bothering?’ flitted through my brain. I was so rattled I forgot my usual ‘never Deep Strike the Deathwing’ mantra and put three squads into reserve, planning to drop the Master and the Librarian on the objective and try to cheekily zap the Eldar Avatar with Psychic Shriek and two assault cannons, hopefully allowing me to get stuck into the Eldar up close on the following turn.

(I expect this was a mistake and I should have deployed all five squads  at the front of my zone, waddled them all foward and tried to assault the nearest target no matter what. I suspect this may have meant the game lasted three turns rather than five, but I think I would have taken more of a chunk out of the Eldar. We shall never know.)

Anyway, the massed Eldar fire killed six of the ten Consecrators on the table, then I got my first turn. The Librarian’s squad teleported in on top of the objective, passed their terrain test for partly being in a crater and I breathed a sigh of relief. I popped the Master down a little way away and my relief dissipated rapidly as they scattered on top of the Librarian’s squad. They were not atomised, which I suppose is something to be grateful for, but they ended up back on my table edge facing a long slog up to the bloodbath which was shaping up in the centre.

The attempt to Psychic Shriek the Avatar backfired and took a wound off the Librarian, the sole assault cannon in range missed all its shots, and that was it from me. What followed was essentially a game of whack-a-mole for the Eldar, with Consecrator units either lumbering or teleporting into view only to be gunned down by snipers and melta-guns or flattened by monstrous creatures. At point I managed to smash a Wave Serpent in an assault, but then the surviving passengers clambered out and slagged the Terminators responsible. I was able to assault the other Fire Dragon squad, but only after they’d fried the Master, and it took three Terminators three turns to kill three Fire Dragons, which is hardly an optimal performance. I was wiped out in five turns, accounting for six Fire Dragons, one Guardian, and a Wave Serpent in the process.

So I knew I was onto a loser from very early on: this was basically just dice-rolling practice for my opponent, who still appeared to be enjoying it to a degree I found slightly baffling. I mean, I like the occasional big win as much as anyone, but this was in a very real sense not an actual contest. And so I found myself wondering at what point it would be acceptable to concede – if ‘the moment at which I realised I couldn’t win’ qualified, I would have conceded at the point I failed to seize the initiative, but this could be seen as unsporting, I suspect. I suppose there was a point at which it became mathematically impossible for me to win, which would have the logical time, but the nature of the scenario made this very fiddly to keep track of.

And long-term readers may recall my concern about poor behaviour when being handed a spanking: it’s just a game, after all, and there’s no call for being snide and grumpy (especially when losing is nearly always at least partly your own fault). So I abandoned the challenge of trying to win the game almost at once and reluctantly accepted the challenge of being wiped out with good grace. This was such a one-sided encounter it was difficult to summon up the enthusiasm to even attempt to play competitively, but I did my best in this department rather than start walking Terminators off the board or hiding them in corners. There wasn’t really a competitive option available, so I just concentrated on looking cheerful and not sounding too pissed off.

In the end I think I just about managed to pull off a draw in this social meta-game (the game that no-one ever wants to play, let’s face it), and quite possibly the moral victory when it came to being up-front with my opponent. To be fair to him the Eldar guy, noting we had rattled through five turns of 40K in not much more than an hour (my goes had been pretty short, obviously) offered me another game – but I had to get away, and couldn’t really forsee a different result between these two armies. Hey ho. There was another Deathwing army getting panelled on the next table by Orks (a less purist Deathwing army, too), which was some consolation, and the guy playing that one offered me a game in a fortnight’s time, which I happily accepted.

Naturally, I did not tell him what army I’ll be bringing.

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For the first time in a while I managed to carve out some space in my schedule to actually play some 40K, and for the first time ever it was against someone who actually reads this blog. I was a bit worried that this would put me at an automatic disadvantage (surely all those wails of ‘I don’t have enough anti-tank’ and declarations that ‘the army relies too heavily on Mephiston killing everything in sight’ couldn’t have gone unnoticed) but then circumstances dictated my taking an all-infantry force anyway and it was nice to have an excuse before we even started playing.

The prospect of playing mechanised Eldar was not an appealing one but my opponent put that back to our second game and started off by rolling out his Necrons. A fairly standard army, it seemed to me: lots of destroyers and a monolith. The mission turned out to be the Necrons ambushing the Blood Angels. As the prospect of getting into assaults with Necrons was something I was very happy about, I wasn’t too worried, but my opponent clearly was and deployed extremely cautiously, obviously hoping to gun and run me while shielding his warriors.

I got the first turn and not much happened apart from the Devastators obliterating an entire Scarab swarm and nearly everything else swooping towards the enemy. On his first turn my opponent showed he’d been doing his homework by targeting Mephiston with his Heavy Destroyers and sticking three wounds on him. Hmmm! Elsewhere the Tactical Squad took a battering but that was all in terms of shooting, and this was largely due to the Necron Lord and an Immortal squad teleporting across the table to outflank me.

This proved to be a bad move as the Immortals were now in view of the plasma cannons of the Devastator squad, and also in assault range of the Captain and his retinue. Needless to say they did not survive the turn. Elsewhere the Death Company ran up to the monolith, bashed it with their thunder hammer and immobilised it (they were now effectively immobilised themselves due to the Rage rule, unless they could destroy it), while Mephiston engaged the Heavy Destroyers. My plan was to try and avoid killing all of them on the charge (not necessarily easy with the Lord of Death!) which would hopefully keep Mephiston safely locked in combat for the next Necron shooting phase. The good news was that one did indeed survive, but the bad news was that he actually stuck a wound on Mephiston leaving him with only one left.

Not much happened on the second Necron turn beyond the Destroyers shooting fairly ineffectually at the Captain’s squad and Mephiston finishing off the Heavy Destroyers (the Necron Warrior reserves refused to show up). On the third Blood Angel turn the Death Company managed to smash the monolith and Mephiston charged and wiped out the regular Destroyers, and at this point (6-0 down on kill points and with only two Necron Warrior squads and a Tomb Spider left to work with) the Necrons conceded the game. I think more aggressive deployment and play might have given them a better chance, but then again I think getting the first turn makes a big difference in this mission.

Anyway – no more Mr Nice Guy and out came a mechanised Eldar army, with three Wave Serpents, three War Walkers, a Falcon, a Night Spinner, lots of Dire Avengers, Fire Dragons, Scorpions, and Eldrad in it. Oh dear. We ended up playing a objective-based mission with most of our armies starting off the board. Eldrad’s Stones of Warding really promised to peg Mephiston’s psychic powers back and limit his abilities.

And for the first couple of turns the Blood Angels took a real pounding, the Death Company staggering forward towards Eldrad’s Wave Serpent, one of the combat squads being all but obliterated. My counterfire and mobility were both extremely limited. The game was going as I’d feared it might.

Then, we had a remarkable twist of fortunes. My reserves turned up. I decided my only chance was to deep strike the Sanguinary Guard deep into the Eldar deployment zone so they could shoot at the rear of their vehicles – but they scattered off the board, causing a mishap which let my opponent deploy them. Apologising for doing so (which touched me, rather), my opponent popped them down in front of the Fire Dragons, where they were sitting ducks. I deep struck the Captain’s squad down in roughly the same place safely (my opponent declared this was ‘ballsy’ until I reminded him of the Descent of Angels rule).

Anyway, that turn the Captain and his squad managed to wreck one of the Wave Serpents and the Death Company assaulted and destroyed another, really limiting the Eldar mobility on that side of the table. On the next Eldar turn my opponent took solace from his losses (and the non-appearance of his large squad of Striking Scorpions from reserve) by opening up on the Guard with the Fire Dragons’ melta-guns. Five shots, three hits… but no wounds! Somehow it was all starting to go right for the Blood Angels.

On my next turn Mephiston risked Wings of Sanguinius, got away with it and wiped out the Fire Dragons on the charge. The Death Company assaulted the War Walkers and destroyed them all. The Captain and his squad moved up behind the Night Spinner and destroyed that in the shooting phase as well.

The Eldar were taking massive casualties but still in the game, and the arrival of the Striking Scorpions only made that more obvious. Luckily they were fractionally out of assault range of the Captain’s squad. Elsewhere Eldrad assaulted and wiped out the surviving Death Company and the Falcon containing a squad of Dire Avengers positioned itself to claim an objective in my table half.

We were both running out of Troops choices and time. On my next turn the Guard shot at and then assaulted and wiped out Eldrad and his squad, while the Captain’s squad and the Attack Bike did the same to another Dire Avenger unit. Mephiston began a long and infuriating cat-and-mouse pursuit of a damaged Wave Serpent threatening to contest an objective held by my combat squad.

At the end of turn five, despite everything, the Eldar were ahead, holding one objective while contesting another. Luckily the dice went my way and we played on into turn six. On that turn I was able to wipe out the Dire Avengers doing the holding and move an Assault Squad up to contest with the Falcon, making the game a draw (Mephiston proved unable to get rid of the annoying Wave Serpent on the other side of the table). But the dice favoured me again and we were into a final turn…

The Guard assaulted and wiped out the Striking Scorpions (a fitting conclusion to a spectacularly good performance from them, easily their most impressive for me), while the last surviving Assault Squad member finally managed to stick his power fist through the back of the Falcon and bring it down, giving me an objective outright. With only one unit left in his army and two objectives under Blood Angel control, my opponent accepted defeat. But it had been an incredibly close and unpredictable game and I fully appreciate how very lucky I was to win. A lot of fun, as well, of course.

Not for the first time, though, I find no lessons in victory. The first game did see a couple of units doing absolutely nothing to impact on the game, and yet I scored a fairly easy win. In the second game, I think pretty much everything played its part in helping me scrape a very lucky win – changing anything in the army would have changed the course of the game. And I’m quite happy with the result I got!

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Well, what a tremendous game we enjoyed this week, even if it was the type after which one requires a degree of therapy. Let me achieve some kind of catharsis by sharing it with you… Points value was 1500 again, my opponent was playing Tau in the conventional modern style (minimum Fire Warriors, multiple Battlesuit units) and the mission that came up was Mobile Defence.
 

 

 

I gambled on getting the first turn (something which would shape the entire battle) and set up aggressively near the centre right with Guardians, Wraithlord, Farseer and Banshees. Closer to my own edge some Scorpions and Dark Reapers occupied a ruined building overlooking an objective. Waaay off to the left Pathfinders deployed in some rocks close to another objective, War Walkers not far off. The entire Tau firebase deployed opposite the bulk of my own army. The first shooting phase would prove key.

And the Tau got the first chance to shoot. This seemed devastating at the time as the Guardians were wiped out entirely, and the Wraithlord and Farseer were both reduced to a single wound. For a while all I did was firefight, throwing the Banshees into the Kroot skirmish line the Tau were hiding behind and pulling the Scorpions deeper into cover. The Kroot were slaughtered but this left the Banshees totally exposed to the Tau plasma rifles and missile pods the next turn.

The Tau killed the Banshees and Wraithlord and then concentrated on trying to mop up the Scorpions and Reapers, diverting a few units off to the left to deal with the War Walkers and Pathfinders. The War Walkers did particularly well in devastating a Stealthsuit unit, but once out in the open could not hope to withstand the Tau railgun fire. (The surviving Stealthsuit mowed down the Farseer – whose singing spear bounced off this unusually resilient individual – before jetting off towards the Pathfinders.)

My keenly tuned tactical brain (yes, I know, this is intended ironically) had recovered from seeing my entire front line massacred and I realised this game was a lot closer than it looked: I almost certainly couldn’t win, but a draw looked very achievable. The Pathfinders holding the objective on the left had a 2+ cover save and the Tau would really struggle to kill them. The Tau had only a single scoring unit left as well, so they would have to deny the Pathfinders control of the objective to get a 1-0 win on objectives.

Bearing this in mind, rather than ramming the Wave Serpent full of Wraithguard into the heart of the Tau army when it arrived, I brought it on in cover behind the Pathfinders. A Tau Devilfish was already contesting their objective with Battlesuits moving up behind it.

For the next few turns the game was poised on a knife-edge – would I be able to keep the Tau away from the Pathfinders’ objective? Despite the brightlances and shuriken cannon on the vehicle, and the Wraithcannon of the constructs, it proved infuriatingly difficult to destroy, and I couldn’t eliminate it until turn six – the dice had already gone my way by extending the game once. Long-range railgun fire had already knocked both weapons off the Serpent and when the Wraithcannon eventually blew the Devilfish to pieces I was very relieved – the only downside was that the explosion cut down the Warlock overseeing the Wraithguard unit.

We entered the final turn with only the Tau Commander and his bodyguard capable of contesting the objective and winning the Tau the game. Their plasma rifles and missile pods battered at the Pathfinders but their camo protected them again. They were just out of assault range. We were left with only my turn to go in what had to be the final turn of the game.

Whether I drew or lost the game now depended on whether I could kill or otherwise roust away from the objective the enemy Commander and his bodyguard. I had the Pathfinders, four Wraithguard and the weaponless Serpent to do it with. I started by tank shocking with the Wave Serpent: the bodyguard, somewhat surprisingly, attempted a death-or-glory attack but was crushed by the tank’s leading edge, and the Commander fell back a little, now alone and exposed to the Wraithguard and their cannon. I made to roll for their advance towards him when my opponent looked at the unit and said:

‘Wraithsight…?’

With the Warlock dead the constructs were now subject to this rule. Briskly I nodded and rolled the dice, and it was with what seemed at the time like genuine physical pain that I saw it land with the 1 uppermost. The Wraithguard froze into immobility leaving me with no realistic chance of shifting the Tau Commander. Possibly I should have gone for broke and assaulted him with the Pathfinders, but I was so stunned at the Wraithguard locking up on me that I wasn’t thinking straight. He rode out their volley of longrifle fire and the game ended in a win to the Tau, but of the closest possible kind.

Well, given I was expecting to be tabled after the absolute hammering I took on turn one, hanging in there for such a close result is something, I suppose. I’m pleased with my ability to focus on mission objectives rather than simply generating slaughter, which was the key to how this game turned out (one I suspect I’ll remember for a long time).

My low opinion of Eldar Guardians has not changed, though this is possibly unfair given that literally all they did in this game was deploy. Certainly Pathfinders seem like a unit with much more going for them, even though they’re three times as expensive – in decent cover they’re normally almost impossible to shift except in an assault. Then again they’re not very mobile and almost useless against even lightly armoured vehicles. Luckily I have plenty lurking in the bottom of my case waiting to be painted.

The other thing that would really have helped this game (other than better dice) would have been an increased ability to take the fight to the Tau at close quarters. Need to get those Harlequins and the Falcon finished. That said, the Tau Battlesuits were spectacular and I had nothing to counter them, either – so there I basically, long-range anti-tank firepower. (Even decent long-range anti-infantry weapons to deal with his Fire Warriors and Pathfinders). I suspect I’m thinking about a Night Spinner, as there’s nothing in the Eldar list that can outrange a Hammerhead or Broadside, and at least the Spinner could shoot without being a target.

Anyway, a great game that I can’t feel too raw about, given how close it went and the great spirit in which it was played. Plenty of ideas of what the army needs doing to it, as well. In many ways I think I’d rather scrape through a close game like this than effortlessly overpower someone… some of the time, anyway.

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Given that I’ve spent a moderate amount of time recently thinking about writing a piece on the myriad issues surrounding and general uselessness of Eldar Guardian Defenders, it was probably inevitable that this week a squad of Guardians would win me a game.

 

Turning up early at GW meant that at least I got a proper one-on-one, albeit at only 1500 points (I had to scratch-write a list and I suspect I didn’t make a very good job of it – but as it turned out this wasn’t an issue). My opponent was fielding Salamanders, commanded (as seems virtually obligatory) by Vulkan. I, as I’ve said, had my Eldar: many small squads, of Guardians, Pathfinders, Banshees, Scorpions, Wraithguard, and Reapers, supported by a Wraithlord, a Wave Serpent (attached to the Wraithguard), and two War Walkers fitted with Starcannon.

I set up first and put the majority of my stuff just left of centre: my Farseer, the Guardians (screening the Banshees), with the Reapers on a hill just behind and to their right. On the left side of the table went the vehicles and the Wraithlord.

Facing me, from my left to right, was a squad of Sternguard (in the open), a tactical squad (in cover), a Land Raider (carrying Vulkan and a Terminator assault squad), a second tactical squad and then a thunderfire cannon. Eldar scouts infiltrated onto the extreme left, with a good view of the Sternguard, while Striking Scorpions appeared close to the Space Marine artillery piece. (My opponent basically forewent the advantage of setting up second, in order to save time – he had a bus to catch.)

The Salamanders failed to seize the initiative and were promptly somewhat hammered by the Eldar, the War Walkers and Scouts killing nearly half the exposed Sternguard (I was a bit wary of these guys), while the brightlances on the Wave Serpent and Wraithlord managed to shake the Land Raider. Essentially lacking a target, the Dark Reapers took a chunk out of the right-hand tactical squad. On their go the Salamanders began to advance, the Sternguard going into the cover of some craters, the damaged tactical squad heading for the same cover as the cannon, and the Land Raider grinding forward but not unloading its cargo. The machine-spirit of the tank gunned down three Guardians, while the cannon hammered at the Scorpions, killing two.

On turn two I had only one target: the Land Raider and its occupants! Careful manoeuvering was required in order to get everything in the right place. The Wave Serpent fired first and destroyed the tank, depositing the Terminators in front of my army. Two flamers fired by the Wraithlord consumed two of the squad, while the Wraithcannons of the Wraithguard killed a third. The War Walkers fired but the storm shields of the squad protected them from that as well as the shuriken and missile fire of the Guardians. The Pathfinders shot at the Sternguard and killed another, while the Scorpions continued to threaten the thunderfire cannon.

In the assault phase Vulkan and his two surviving escorts were mobbed by the Banshees, the Wraithlord, and the Wraithguard. Flashing power swords cut down the two troopers but Vulkan took only a single wound before attacking the Wraithguard, doing no damage. The smaller constructs battered another wound out of the Chapter Master but the Wraithlord fluffed its attacks rather badly and Hestan hung in there.

On the following turn the thunderfire cannon killed two more Scorpions, leaving only the Exarch standing. Rather to my surprise the Sternguard opted to shoot at the Pathfinders, whose camo cloaks protected them. The Banshees lost two of their number to Vulkan as they finished him off and everything consolidated towards the Sternguard and the first tactical squad, just breaking cover close by.

Back on my turn, the Farseer cast Doom on the first tactical squad, which went on to have a very bad turn, losing seven members to the twin flamers on the Wraithlord. Feeling the Banshees could comfortably finish them off, the War Walkers, Wraithguard and Pathfinders concentrated their fire and wiped out the Sternguard. The Banshees then assaulted the fleeing first tactical squad and slaughtered them, too. The Scorpion Exarch was finally in assault range of the thunderfire cannon operator, but was chopped down by his power axe before he could use his claw on him. Hey ho. While all this was happening the Guardians scampered forward and claimed an objective.

As time was a factor, and the Salamanders were down to five men and a cannon while my army was mostly intact, we called the game for me at that point. To be fair, even if the Space Marines managed to blast the Guardians off the objective (which the cannon could easily have done) I’m still confident I could still have wiped them out in the time left to us.

So, another clean win, and this time against someone a bit more competent that Valdemar the Vague. That said, and very nice bloke who he was, I was rather surprised by some of my opponent’s choices: the War Walkers and Wraithlord barely got shot at, even after they’d demonstrated major potential to mess up his army. Partly this was bad luck – he simply didn’t have viable targets in range – but the Sternguard could quite easily have messed up the War Walkers quite badly with the right ammo. Instead he shot at the Pathfinders, a much more marginal threat, and arguably lost the unit as a result. The Scorpions died, but in doing so kept the thunderfire cannon from influencing the main battle at all, which was my intention for them from the start.

And – well, the Salamander army build had issues with it – it seemed designed around the principle of Vulkan and his squad barrelling forward in the Crusader (quite probably nearly half his army in one big lump) while everything else jogged up behind. This made it rather easy to mob this strike unit with my entire army and then mop everything else up afterwards.

So, a satisfying win, and it felt nice to be delivering large amounts of damage rather than soaking it up turn after turn, as was always the case with the Consecrators. The only slight niggle was that the modifications I’d made to my standard Eldar list – different Farseer and Warlock powers, mainly – never came into play.

This game did remind me a lot of when I first played this army, against a lot of power-armoured armies commanded by relatively-inexperienced players. It’s definitely more effective against Marines and their equivalent (but a bit weak against Necrons, as I recall), but I’m really searching for a way forward for it – at the moment it’s trying to do a bit of everything (movement, firepower, close assault) and not really excelling at any of it. A big, fairly easy win, though very gratifying, isn’t really instructive when it comes to looking properly at the army build. Yes, there’s no pleasing some people, is there?

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