On Wednesday, May 13, Thurston and I brought out our respective Eldar armies for some hot, Eldar on Eldar action at Thurston and Alex's place.
Considering the fluff and background of our respective forces, we agreed that this was a training exercise, where the units were using the Eldar equivalent of rubber shuriken and rattan swords. Broken bones, maybe, but no needless deaths for the dying race...
I brought out a very lean Swordwind force. Light on the squad and vehicle upgrades, heavy on Aspect Warrior bodies and boats:
Sword-of-the-Lord - Farseer, Doom, Eldar Jetbike, Runes of Warding, Singing Spear
Warrior of Surprise - Autarch, Eldar Jetbike, Fusion Gun, Laser Lance
Companions - Dire Avengers x 10
- Far-Darter - Exarch upgrade, Bladestorm, 2nd Avenger Shuriken Catapult
- Ancient Whispers - Wave Serpent, TL Shuriken Cannon, Shuriken Cannon Upgrade
Blood Redeemers - Dire Avengers x 10
- Pious - Exarch upgrade, Bladestorm, Diresword and Shuriken Pistol
- Peacemaker - Wave Serpent, TL Bright Lances
Blade Dancers - Howling Banshees x 10
- Angelic Rhapsody - Exarch upgrade, Executioner
- Fencing Master - Wave Serpent, TL Shuriken Cannon
Fate’s Tears - Fire Dragons x 5
- The Kid - Wave Serpent, TL Shuriken Cannon
Dreamweavers - Warp Spiders x 5
War Prayer – Fire Prism
Total: 1499 points
Thurston used his Saim-Hann jetbike army; IIRC:
Farseer w/ Spirit Stones, Guide and Doom, riding with
10 Dire Avengers
- including Exarch w/ Bladestorm, Power Weapon and Shimmershield
- Wave Serpent w/ TL Bright Lances and Stones
6 Fire Dragons (riding in the Falcon)
- Exarch w/ Dragon's Breath Flamer and Tank Hunter
7 Guardian Jetbikes, w/ 2 Shuriken Cannons
- plus Warlock w/ Enhance and Singing Spear (8 bikes total)
7 Guardian Jetbikes, w/ 2 Shuriken Cannons
- plus Warlock w/ Enhance and Singing Spear (8 bikes total)
Vyper Jetbike w/ Missile Launcher and Spirit Stones
5 Dark Reapers - Exarch w/ Fast Shot and Missile Launcher
Falcon Grav Tank w/ Holofield, Spirit Stones, and Scatter Laser
As we conversed before the game, I thought to myself, "Fighting Thurston's army is going to be like trying to fight smoke."
We played a scenario straight out of the main rulebook, Seize Ground, with Pitched Battle (long table edge) deployment. Thurston rolled up 3 objectives, so we took turns placing my three objective counters. I set up a Ghostwarrior on the middle west of the table, Thurston put a Ranger in a foxhole in a clearing to the east, and I responded with the final counter, an ex-slave Sister of Battle, just over 12" north of the first counter. The player controlling the most objectives would win...
Fun With Objectives
I was trying to be creative with the placement of objectives. With the first two counters so widely separated, the game could really divide my forces. By placing the last counter so close to the first, I would hopefully force Thurston to concentrate the bulk of his forces on the western half of the table, to prevent an easy victory on my part. Due to the sizes of the grav tanks and the on-table footprint of a squad of Dire Avengers or Guardian Jetbikes, a single scoring unit could easily control both western objectives. Thus, the Swordwind might be able to ensure their control of the eastern objective.
Rolling for first turn, Thurston won and decided that the Saim-Hann would go first. He set up the Falcon and Dark Reapers in the far northwest corner, overlooking the two western objectives, which sat in a natural fire lane. The two units set up were long-ranged units (48" range guns), but there was a lot of terrain blocking their LOS to the eastern objective.
I declined to set up anything, holding the Swordwind in reserve, with the Warp Spiders set to deep strike, the Farseer and the Autarch off-table together as an ersatz unit, and everyone else mounted in their respective Wave Serpent transports.
For the second turn, Thurston held pat with Saim-Hann's two heavy support units, and brought on their Farseer/Dire Avenger combo in the middle of the northern board edge, flanked to the east by a Guardian Jetbike squad, and to the west by the Vyper.
The Swordwind's Farseer/Autarch bike combo, Fire Dragons, Howling Banshees and Fire Prism showed up. The two Avenger squads stayed in reserve, which was OK. This prevented the Swordwind's only two scoring units from receiving fire. The Fire Prism came on to the west to challenge the Reapers, and everything else moved on to the far east, hiding as best they could behind rocky terrain.
The Fire Prism managed to stick a pie plate blast marker over the Reapers, dropping a couple of them and breaking them, forcing them to fall back.
As the game progressed, it continued its chess-like exercise in movement and counter-movement. There were almost no casualties for a couple of turns as both sides jockeyed for position. Thurston's Saim-Hann bikes hovered at range, firing pot shots with their shuriken cannons and fading back 6" to be just out of reach of most of the Swordwind's guns - trying to taunt the Swordwind into Saim-Hann's combined killing zones. The Saim-Hann Farseer in his Serpent moved to the west and hovered in that general vicinity, to guide the Falcon and help control the action. The Vyper, after being shaken, moved flat out west to hind behind rocks.
Conversely, the Swordwind stayed at range to prevent the bikes from turbo-boosting in behind the Wave Serpents, where the bikes could surround the Serpents and block their escape hatches, setting up possible squad kills if the boats went down to other units' fire. As reinforcements arrived, one Avenger Serpent moved to the Eastern objective, and the other moved on near the Fire Prism. The second Avenger Serpent was stunned by a couple of missiles from the Dark Reaper Exarch, but its pilot recovered in time for the action noted below.
Around the fourth turn, things started to really happen. In the middle of the table, Saim-Hann's Fire Dragons disembarked from their Falcon and brought down the Swordwind Dragons' Wave Serpent. The Swordwind Dragons fortunately took no casualties and passed their Pin test as they climbed out of the "wreck." That Serpent's pilot then took time out for some tea.
In response, the Banshees in their ride moved slightly north in between a couple of pieces of rocky terrain, to forestall Saim-Hann movement towards the centre, leaving just enough room behind to disembark.
The Fire Prism had been Shaken last turn, so it skimmed flat out north to contest both western objectives.
The Spiders finally deigned to show up. In a risky move, they teleported behind the Saim-Hann Farseer's Wave Serpent. However, all their S6 shots only managed to stun the thing.
The Swordwind bike Farseer separated off and disabled the Falcon's pulse laser with her thrown Singing Spear. The Swordwind's Dragons dropped 5 from the Saim-Hann Dragon squad. Their Exarch was left on his feet, with his heavy flamer. He had to go, so the Autarch charged him and beat him bloody with his blunted lance. For his consolidation move, the Autarch advanced forward towards a Guardian Bike squad, to draw their fire and to shield the Dragons.
For their second (Assault Phase) moves the Swordwind tried to hide their Farseer behind some rocks, and teleported the Spiders next to the surviving Saim-Hann Dark Reapers (to force a response against them by the enemy Avengers, instead of those Avengers converging on the western objectives).
As the Saim-Hann Dragon Exarch limped off the field to the sidelines for a drink of the Eldar equivalent of Gatorade, their Farseer Doomed the Warp Spiders. The Avengers disembarked and Bladestormed the Spiders, leaving a couple standing. A subsequent Avenger charge left those two Spiders covered with bruises, as they were pummeled down by the Avenger Exarch's blunted glaive.
Meanwhile, the Falcon slid south and overwhelmed the Swordwind Farseer's mystic defenses with an attenuated Scatter Laser burst. She broke a fingernail as she landed ass-first in the dust.
An entire Guardian Bike squad let loose on the Autarch, who gamely leaned into the hail of blunt shuriken until his armour's sensors also registered him as "killed."
"Whaddaya know, it's beer-o'clock already!"
The other bike squad's cannons immobilized the Banshee skimmer and disabled its turret. The bikes then faded back north, seemingly out of range of any response.
Bottom of the fifth turn, and the game might end due to the random game length rule. I decided that the Swordwind would "go all in", to try and seize control of two objectives, and knock out the Saim-Hann ability to control objectives in response.
The Fire Prism spun in place to make room for the Avenger squad. The Avenger's Serpent backed up by the southwest objective, disembarking the Avengers in a skirmish line around the back of the boat, within shuriken range of the western Guardian Bike squad. The Dragons also advanced on those bikers, hoping to be in range with their fusion rifles. To the east, the other Avenger Serpent moved 6" north out from behind cover, allowing its turret and chin shuriken cannons to bear on the northern bike squad. The Banshees disembarked and moved north from their immobilized skimmer.
The Prism landed a big blast marker on some bikers and a couple of Avengers, dropping the latter.
The Fire Dragons were just in range of the bikers' Warlock, nailing a couple of the Wild Riders. The dismounted Swordwind Avengers unleashed a Bladestorm on the remaining bikers, reducing their number to two and downing the Warlock. The last of them broke and, unable to rally now due to losses, fled north to avoid more bruising.
The Banshees launched themselves into a run. If they rolled a "1" they would never reach the Guardian bikers.
As Brian would say, "Never tell me the odds!"
The Banshee Exarch must have been a fitness guru, since they rolled a "6" for their run move, to put them just within charge reach of the remaining Guardian Bike squad.
I rolled for the Banshee's run first, so I could decide later what to do with the remaining Avenger Serpent. If it now fired and killed one or two bikes, canny casualty removal by Thurston might leave the Banshees high and dry, subject to a hail of shuriken themselves. I held off, leaving the Avengers content to control the eastern objective.
In the ensuing Assault Phase, the Banshees' 30 attacks overwhelmed the Guardian bike squad with much beating about their heads and shoulders, wiping them out.
The photo below show the results of the close quarters battles. All the 60mm bases and biker models on the right hand table edge are Guardian Bike casualties. (Note: Click on the photo for a larger version.)
As the fifth turn ended, the Swordwind controlled two objectives and contested the third. Destroying two of the Saim-Hann scoring units really reduced their chance of winning the field exercise. However, the Saim-Hann forces still had two mobile skimmer tanks and a Vyper, allowing possible tank shocks and gunfire to maybe drive off the dismounted Swordwind Avengers, and contest a couple of objectives. The Saim-Hann Avengers were out of ammo, but with a good series of run and difficult terrain rolls they might be able to reach some of the Swordwind Avengers in assault. With identical initiatives and both sides' Exarchs skilled in swordplay, both squads might break each other.
Thurston rolled for game end and rolled a three. The game would continue! However, it was already midnight on a work night...
Meanwhile, back on the Craftworld:
The Saim-Hann Farseer looked at the position of the various units, and looked at a gem that passed for a chronometer. He got on the comm-link and offered the Swordwind a draw. The Banshee Exarch, the ranking "survivor" due to her centuries of service, didn't need her dear Farseer's runes to see that this scrum might continue into a purplish-bruised stalemate. She readily accepted the offer of a draw. As both sides powered down their weapon systems, she looked forward to an evening of gamboling in the Temple bath house with her warrior women.