Friday, 10 October 2014

Death comes to Cardiff, Game 2: Dark Angels against Eldar

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. A mixture of work and Reserve duty has kept me well away from blogging, although the painting continues apace. More of that when I get a chance to take some decent photos. 

I find myself with a little spare time to write up the second game of weekend I enjoyed in Cardiff a while back, against Craig and his 500 point Eldar force. Playing at such a low point value raises problems in terms of table size and even the complexity of the game, but since we both wanted to learn, and Matt and Jim were slaughtering each other a few tables away, we took the opportunity to get a better sense of what our armies were capable of. 

The initial disposition of forces.

In terms of armies, I fielded a Tactical Squad, a Scout Squad and a Squadron of Ravenwing Bikes. This little force was led by a Chaplain. I decided, rather stupidly with hindsight, to combat squad the Tactical Marines, and I picked the Ravenwing Bikes as a way of getting a chance to use bikes for the very first time.

My Scouts deployed just around the corner from the Eldar. 

We rolled Purge the Alien with Vanguard Strike for our mission, so squads eliminated earned points. My Chaplain got target priority as his Warlord trait. Craig won the roll off and got the first turn. Across the table from me, hiding amongst the rocks were his perfidious Eldar which consisted of a squad of Fire Dragons, two Combat Squads of Dire Avengers and an Autarch. Since it seemed unlikely that he would come out and play, I decided to bring the pain to him. I must confess, I had no idea of the capabilities of the Eldar, so with true Imperial ignorance I would learn by smiting. 

The Eldar sit tight in their "ambush".

As I mentioned, Craig won the first turn and decided to do nothing. In response I trotted everything forward. In response the Fire Drake took a pot shot at my bikes, but a jink save meant that it had no effect. And still my Angels of Death advanced into the jaws of death. 

I had thought to swing one combat squad around the right of the rock outcrop on my right flank as a means of enveloping the Eldar, but the squad was met by a hail of Dire Avenger fire and I lost three Marines. The hail of blades rule smashed my Marines, and I realised that despite their relatively short range, they could be lethal. The battle focus rule also allowed the little blighters to move after shooting! Perfidious Eldar indeed! 

My bikes were taking a pounding as I massively mistimed my movements, and I lost two of the three despite my jinking efforts. One thing I hadn't realised was that Bikes are relentless and thus always fire as though stationary, so I had denied myself the right to eviscerate the Eldar from range with the bikes. However, I only discovered this after the game. I did, however, witness first hand the benefits of the Jink rule. The lone Sergeant on his bike passed his morale test. 

After this the details of the game get messy as I gave up on recording things blow-by-blow. 

In short, I threw everything at the Eldar, and slaughtered many, though I lost a squad of marines on my right to the Dire Avengers, in combat! In the centre things went my way, and my Chaplain successfully slew the Autarch in a challenge, at which point he exploded and wiped out most of my men because of some jewel. To make matters worse, he then came back to life with one wound. Tricksy Eldar. The combat ground on, and we called it after six turns. When we tallied up the butchers bill Craig had won by a single victory point.

In all honesty this wasn't the most exciting game of 40k I have ever played, but Craig was good fun, and it did teach me several things. Also, there was a certain juvenile excitement in simply battering each other in a stand up fight. I learned that the Eldar are lethal at close range, and that bikes are actually very good, the jink, toughness and relentless rule, making them an excellent fighting platform. I also learned that the strength of the Tactical Squad lies in the concentration of fire power at short range and not combat, though I suspect I didn't fully learn this lesson until the following day. To that end, there is really very little point in splitting a Squad of ten Marines into two squads, certainly not unless there is a requirement to hold an objective or some such thing. Scouts continued to prove their usefulness, though I think I would very much like a squad with sniper rifles and a missile launcher to hurl death from distance. I hope the photos give a sense of just how good the tables at Firestorm Games are.