Sunday, March 7, 2010

Battle Missions - Flank Attack

GW has just released the new Battle Missions scenario book for Warhammer 40K. It contains 33 race- or faction-specific missions, with different setups, objectives, and special rules. The scenarios are sometimes variations on the basic missions in the main 40K rulebook. However, there are some interesting twists (for example, Dark Eldar capturing prisoners, Chaos Space Marines capturing loot, entering the table through a warp rift, etc). In addition, there are also some other missions that change the size and the force organizations required to play, such as the re-birth of Kill Team.

After a quick read, I think that the book's missions will make for some interesting games, and that it provides a template for players to create their own scenarios. For many other scenarios, with different design philosophies, I suggest looking at resources like Astronomi-con's scenario CDs, BoLS' campaign packs, or YTTH's new scenario system.

For awhile now, I've admired the Saim Hann Eldar army of MarkG, the manager of the local Games Workshop store. We both thought that the release of the new book would provide us with a good excuse to throw down with some Eldar on Eldar action. Sunday afternoon I attended at GW Winnipeg, where Mark and I played Flank Attack, one of the Eldar-specific missions. In the scenario three objectives are placed on the table; whoever controls the most objectives would win the game.


After some valuable discussion with Fritz of the Way of Saim Hann blog, I went with a slightly different variation of my Swordwind army:

Farseer - Fortune (re-roll amour, cover and invulnerable saves); Eldar Jetbike; Runes of Warding; Runes of Witnessing; Singing Spear
Autarch - Eldar Jetbike; Banshee Mask; Laser Lance; Fusion Gun
8 x Dire Avengers - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Shuriken Cannons and Shuriken Cannon
8 x Dire Avengers - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Bright Lances
5 x Fire Dragons - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Shuriken Cannons
5 x Fire Dragons - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Shuriken Cannons
3 x Vyper jetbikes - each w/ 2 x Shuriken Cannons
5 x Warp Spiders - including Exarch with dual Death Spinner
Fire Prism grav tank

Total = 41 models, at 1495 points

The Farseer, Autarch and Warp Spiders would all run together as one unit, an ersatz miniature Seer Council. Fortune would allow re-rolls of all their 3+ armour saves, the 4++ invulns of the bikers, and any cover saves that they might obtain. The unit moves pretty fast and throws out a significant amount of S6 shooting. It can break apart into its components late game, to act either as speed bumps or to strike at isolated targets. (Thanks, Fritz!)

I ended up keeping the Avenger squads fairly large in size. They could dismount to capture an objective and throw out a decent weight of fire. They could weather some casualties and still be a viable unit.

My army is set up below for viewing (click the photo for a larger image):

Mark went with an interesting Saim Hann army:

Farseer - Guide (re-roll to hit rolls for shooting); Runes of Witnessing
Autarch - Avenger Shuriken Catapult; Power Weapon
10 x Dire Avengers (Exarch - 2 Avenger Shuriken Catapults; Bladestorm) - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Scatter Lasers
10 x Dire Avengers (Exarch- Power Weapon/Shimmershield; Defend) - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Starcannons
6 x Eldar Jetbikes (Warlock - Destructor) - Shuriken Cannon
6 x Eldar Jetbikes (Warlock - Conceal) - Shuriken Cannon
5 x Eldar Jetbikes - Shuriken Cannon
6 x Howling Banshees
Squadron of 3 War Walkers - each w/ Missile Launcher & Scatter Laser

Both our forces were screamingly fast, but Mark's had a very different design philosophy. Five scoring units! Whittling those scoring units down would be a major priority.

Mark's army is shown set up for viewing below:


We rolled for deployment, and Mark would go first. Per the scenario, Mark set down a single objective in the middle of the Saim Hann deployment zone, in the north half of the table. I set up two more objectives within one foot of either short edge in the south half of the table. All Eldar forces in Reserve could Outflank, even if they didn't have the Scout or Infiltrate special rules.

Mark deployed his Saim Hann forces fairly spread out across the table. From west to east, he placed a jetbike squad, another jetbike squad, the Banshees in some woods to the east of an objective, a Wave Serpent (with the Farseer riding with the shooty Dire Avengers), and his other Wave Serpent (with the Autarch and the remaining Avengers). The third jetbike squad and the War Walkers stayed in reserve.

Setting up across the table like that, Mark could reach all the objectives fairly quickly with his bikes and tanks, and threatened the northern objective with the Banshees. However, spread out as they were, maybe I could wolfpack his units to defeat them in detail. First, I should try and kill the jetbikes, and then de-mech the mounted infantry.

Accordingly, the Swordwind castled up in the southwest corner, deploying everything except the Brightlance-armed Wave Serpent and its mounted Avengers.

The two Dragon Serpents took the lead, giving cover to the mini-council and the Vypers set up behind them. The Avenger Serpent deployed slightly east, near the southwest objective, shielding the bikers' right sides. The Fire Prism tank deployed in the middle of the south table edge, to threaten Mark's eastern wing and to be offered up as bait to his tanks.

With my tanks protecting the bikes with their hulls, I hoped the Swordwind could weather the first turn of Saim Hann fire. Refusing my eastern flank would keep the Saim Hann tank guns out of range of the Swordwind's phalanx.

I was very lucky. I rolled a "1" and the Swordwind managed to steal the initiative away from Mark's Saim Hann forces and go first instead.

The Swordwind advanced north, dismounting one Dragon squad and the Avengers. Everything that could reach poured fire into Mark's two jetbike squads. Mark's westernmost squad was wiped out; the second jetbike squad took some casualties, but passed their morale.

The Saim Hann tanks advanced south, with the Starcannon Serpent moving flat out. The jetbike squad fired at the Fire Dragons, killing two of them. The Scatter Laser tank fired at the Fire Prism, merely Shaking it.

The Fire Prism, unable to fire, moved flat out north to gain a cover save and to shield the other tanks from fire. Everything else moved generally northeast. The mini-council wiped out the remaining Saim Hann bikes with a torrent of fire.

The remaining Saim Hann reserves appeared on the eastern table edge - the jetbikes in the northeast corner, and the War Walkers deployed in the southeast corner. Saim Hann vehicle fire was ineffective.

In the photo below, Mark is seen standing next to the table. Note how the game's axis has swung 90 degrees to the east.

The Swordwind Farseer managed to roll double "1's" causing a Perils of the Warp test. Her Ghosthelm failed, but her rune amour just managed to save her from being wounded by some weird warp critter.

The last Swordwind Serpent appeared from reserve, outflanking into the northeast corner. Those Dire Avengers dismounted to shoot up the nearby jetbikes, and the turret gun took a bead upon a Saim Hann tank's rear armour. The mini-council moved east, along with the two Dragon Serpents. The Fire Prism moved north. The Vypers moved northeast. The original Dire Avengers mounted up into their Wave Serpent.

The Swordwind Avenger's fire killed a jetbike. The mini-council and Vypers wiped out the Howling Banshees.

In response, the Saim Hann forces moved generally south or west. Mark's Farseer Guided his Dire Avengers, who dismounted to unleash a Bladestorm on the mini-council. Almost everything else also concentrated fire on the mini-council. Fortune kept them in the game - despite suffering around 30 wounds, they lost only the four regular Warp Spiders. The Saim Hann jetbikes killed a couple of Swordwind Avengers.

Oh, the carnage!

The survivors of the mini-council broke apart - the Spider Exarch jumped behind a Saim Hann tank and immobilized it.

The Fire Prism managed to land a shot on the Saim Hann Farseer and Avengers, killing half the squad outright.

The two Fire Dragon tanks surged east and the Dragons dismounted. The southernmost Dragons exploded a Saim Hann tank with their fusion guns, and the Dragon's transport knocked out a War Walker. Some Saim Hann Avengers and their Autarch survived the explosion, to stand in the wreckage of their ride.

The surviving Dragons in the other squad failed to even hit the tank immobilized by the Spider Exarch.

The dismounted Avengers shot up and charged the jetbikes in front of them, killing a couple more.

The Vypers moved south.

The mounted Avengers moved back southwest, to take control of the objective there.

The Swordwind's Autarch and Farseer shot up and assaulted the Saim Hann Farseer and her retinue, breaking them. The Saim Hann Farseer fled north off the table, with the Swordwind officers in close pursuit.

The Saim Hann Autarch split off from the last of the Saim Hann Avengers.

A flurry of firing saw all the Swordwind's Fire Dragons incapacitated and two Vypers shot down. The close combat between the Saim Hann jetbikes and the Swordwind Avengers ground on inconclusively.

The Swordwind Farseer split off alone and fired off her Singing Spear, exploding the last Saim Hann tank.

A Swordwind Wave Serpent tank shocked the southernmost Saim Hann Avengers, but their morale held.

The Swordwind's Autarch charged the Saim Hann jetbikes, but missed all her initial attacks!

After more exchanged shots and blows, the Saim Hann Autarch knocked out the Swordwind's Farseer; then the last of the Saim Hann jetbikes and Dire Avengers fell, and another War Walker went down.

Saim Hann had lost all their scoring units; all they had left on the table was a damaged War Walker and their Autarch.

Conversely, the Swordwind retained their Autarch, both scoring units (the two Dire Avenger squads), all five skimmer tanks (one was damaged), and the lone survivors of the Warp Spider and the Vyper jetbike units.

As the game ended, the Swordwind controlled a single objective with some Dire Avengers, mounted in their Wave Serpent transport:

The remaining objectives were contested by the Warp Spider Exarch and various Swordwind tanks.

Result = Swordwind Victory

It was a very interesting and faced-paced game. By the time the game ended, the axis of battle had spun almost 180 degrees. Mark and I both had a lot of fun. Thanks should go to Mark and the rest of the staff at the GW store.

I look forward to playing other missions from the new book.

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