Monday, March 21, 2011

Head Hunters - 40K Tourney Prep

Last Wednesday night I had a great game of 40K with AlexB, co-organizer of Mechani-Kon. He's in the midst of building an entirely new Ork force. Vehicles all scratch built or heavily converted, converted figures, the whole nine yards. He's been wanting to play test his list before the upcoming Astronomi-con Winnipeg in April. Accordingly, Alex put on the table his WIP army. I brought my Las Vegas GT list - I've been play testing this latest iteration of my Eldar Swordwind since Christmas time, against a variety of opponents and army factions.

Alex posted a batrep of the game on his blog, here. We thought it would be cool to get some insight into the two very different factions and their respective strategies and tactics.

Eldar Swordwind

HQ: Autarch (1#, 93 pts)
1 Autarch (Banshee Mask; Power Weapon; Fusion Gun)

HQ: Farseer (1#, 125 pts)
1 Farseer (Doom; Fortune; Runes of Warding)

Troops: Dire Avengers (6#, 185 pts)
5 Dire Avengers
1 Wave Serpent (Spirit Stones; TL Scatter Lasers)

Troops: Dire Avengers (6#, 185 pts)
5 Dire Avengers
1 Wave Serpent (Spirit Stones; TL Scatter Lasers)

Troops: Dire Avengers (6#, 185 pts)
5 Dire Avengers
1 Wave Serpent (Spirit Stones; TL Scatter Lasers)

Elite: Fire Dragons (10#, 264 pts)
9 Fire Dragons
1 Wave Serpent (Spirit Stones; Shuriken Cannon; TL Shuriken Cannons)

Fast Attack: Vyper Squadron (3#, 210 pts)
1 Vyper Squadron
1 Vyper (Scatter Laser; Shuriken Cannon)
1 Vyper (Scatter Laser; Shuriken Cannon)
1 Vyper (Scatter Laser; Shuriken Cannon)

Fast Attack: Warp Spiders (5#, 137 pts)
4 Warp Spiders
1 Warp Spider Exarch (Powerblades; Death Spinner x2)

Heavy Support: Night Spinner (1#, 115 pts)
1 Night Spinner

Total Roster Cost: 1499

Everything moves very fast. Lots of Strength 6 firepower. The Fire Dragons are there to stop the odd heavy unit, like a Land Raider. The Farseer will mostly cast Fortune (re-roll saves) on vehicles, casting Doom (re-roll wounds) on targets of opportunity. The Autarch adds some offensive capability and allows the entire force to reserve itself and still come on fairly cohesively. The Vyper squadron runs interference for the tanks and lays down suppression fire. The Warp Spiders can Deep Strike anywhere, especially targeting the rear of enemy tanks or isolated units like Devastator squads.

Ork Horde

105 - Warboss - Power Klaw, Bosspole, 'Eavy Armor, Cybork Body
120 - Big Mek - Burna, Kustom Force Field, Cybork Body, 'Eavy Armor

105 - Tank Bustas - 6 with Rokkits, 3 Bomb Squigs
100 - Mekboy Junka - 3 Big Shootas, 2 Grot Bombs, Reinforced Ram, Grot Riggers

245 - Meganobz - 5, trukk with Big shoota, Grot Riggers, Reinforced Ram
126 - Boyz - 11, Rokkit, trukk with rokkit, Grot Riggers, Reinforced Ram
177 - Boyz - 12, Rokkit, Nob, Bosspole, Eavy Armor, Power Klaw, trukk with Rokkit, Grot Riggers, Reinforced Ram
122 - Boyz - 12, Big Shoota, trukk with Big shoota, Grot Riggers, Reinforced Ram
45 - Grotz - 10, Runtherd with Grot Prod

Fast Attack:
70 - Warbuggies - 2 buggies, 2 wartrakk upgrade, 2 Twin-linked Big Shootas
80 - Warbuggies - 2 buggies, 2 wartrakk upgrade, 2 Twin-linked Rokkits

Heavy Support:
110 - Gun Trukks - 2 Trukks, 2 Zzap Guns, 2 Rokkits
75 - Big Track - 4 Big Shootas, Deffrolla, Grot Riggers

Total = 1480 pts.

There are several Imperial Armour units in the force: the squadron of Zzap gun Gun Trukks (Imperial Armor 11), the ersatz Huey running as the Mek Junka (IA 11) carrying the squad of Tank Bustas, and the "Chinork" running as a Big Trakk (IA 11).

There are lots of scoring units, and just a lot of Orks in general, following Alex' "target overlord" strategy.

The task for the Eldar would be to implement correct target prioritization and gun down the Orks before they get within their own "sweet" range.

We played an old WarCon scenario, Headhunt, updated for 40K 5th ed. Victory Points mission, with your general (the highest point character) being worth an extra 250 VPs if killed; while she is alive all of your models get +1 Ld, but if she dies all your models get -1 Ld. Deployment zones were 12" in from either long table edge.

Alex used some of the Mechani-Kon terrain. The volcano in the middle was a big LOS blocker. We agreed that the lava in the craters had cooled off and the craters were difficult terrain, but provided cover for infantry inside them. A few bits of scattered wreckage dotted the table, too. So, aside from the volcano there was almost no cover for my skimmers.

Below, the view is from the northern table edge, looking southeast.

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 002

Planning and Deployment:
Due to the lack of other cover, I would have to use the volcano as much as possible, and use skimmers to provide cover for my other skimmers.

Alex won the die roll and chose to set up first. He set up in a deep phalanx behind the volcano, Warbuggies on each flank, with the two Zzap Gun armed Gun Trukks on his left (eastern) flank.

I could see that Alex was poised to use his fastest vehicles in a double envelopment. I thought about using null deployment (keeping everything off the table in Reserve), but that would just allow the Orks to move up fast, unopposed, and the Eldar would not have a lot of room for maneuver when they did arrive.

The two highest priority targets were the Gun Trukks and the Huey carrying the squad of Tank Bustas - these had the best chance of downing my boats. The Gun Trukks were parked right on the northern table edge, just behind the Ork left (eastern) flank.

I wouldn't mirror the Ork deployment. That would place most of the Eldar too close to the Ork fast movers.

If I set up in one of the corners I might have been doing what Alex wanted me to do, but there were ways to mitigate the risk.

Therefore, I set up everything but the Warp Spiders in the southeast corner, as seen below:

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 004

The Farseer rode with the Fire Dragons. I placed their Serpent right in the corner, shielded somewhat by the hulls of other tanks. The only worthwhile target for the Dragons were the Meganobz, and there was no way the Eldar were going to get that close to them, if I could help it. The Farseer would Fortune her ride, giving it a re-roll on the cover saves it would get from the other tank hulls around it.

The Autarch rode in the Avenger Serpent immediately in front of the Farseer - if that boat went down, the Autarch had a chance of successfully acting as a speed bump to slow down the green tide for a turn, if they Waaaughed into close combat.

The Vypers shielded a couple of other tanks (looking at fire angles around the volcano).

The Night Spinner artillery tank anchored the Eldar left (western) flank. It was protected from a lot of fire by the volcano, and was a low priority target since it was my cheapest tank.

I would Deep Strike the Spiders behind the Ork lines, trying for the Tank Bustas.

With a range of 36", the scatter lasers on my skimmers would be able to hit any Ork vehicle that revealed itself. The Night Spinner could drop a shot anywhere on the table. My plan was to keep the fight at fairly long range. I figured to hit the Gun Trukks and the two Warbuggy units early with massed S6 gun fire. The Eldar infantry riding inside the tanks wouldn't get out of their tanks unless they really, really had to.

The Orks went first, starting their envelopment and pushing the Warbuggies close. The only effect of their fire was a single Wave Serpent Shaken, unable to fire but still able to move (yay for Spirit Stones).

The Eldar moved east and north, hugging the table edge. The Eldar return fire was effective, destroying the two Gun Trukks. Another Trukk was Immobilized by the Night Spinner; the blast effect also affected the Trukks packed around that first target, but they could easily make the required Dangerous Terrain tests.

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 005

The Orks kept pushing forward, but just couldn't damage the Eldar tanks. A Warbbuggy was destroyed, along with another Trukk, putting the Meganobz on the ground.The Warp Spiders dropped in (almost missing their drop zone), immobilizing the Tank Bustas' ride; the Spiders were going to die, but it was worth the sacrifice.

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 007

The Orks continued to try and push forward around both sides of the volcano. The Eldar shot up some more Trukks, putting their Boyz on the ground. This really limited both their mobility and their ability to mass together for a decisive charge.

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 008

As the surviving Warbuggies closed, I started moving the Eldar back west, away from the closest ground troops of the Orks. The Vypers skirmished in front of the Eldar tanks; it would be difficult for the Orks to take down all three Vypers in a single round of close combat - they needed "6's" because of the bikes' speed, and they didn't have enough attacks available.

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 010

The last Spider went down to the westernmost Ork Boyz. Eventually, all the Warbuggies were destroyed or had their teeth pulled ("Weapon Destroyed" results). I put a lot of fire on the Meganobz, killing a couple, but not enough to score any VPs (minimum one-half the unit required to be destroyed to score 1/2 VPs).

Alex had difficulty repairing his damaged vehicles. Eventually, the Tank Bustas got out of their damaged ride and tried to lay fire on the Eldar tanks. The Orks whiffed, and a Night Spinner barrage blew them all off the table.

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 013

As the game wound down, I concentrated fire on the Boyz who killed the Warp Spiders, reducing them to one last Boy. Instead of wiping out that unit, I tried to put some more shots on the Nobz (one more unsaved wound would garner another 100 VPs), but their heavy body armour held up.

Below is a shot of the wall of wraithbone skimmer hulls, around the end of the 4th turn.

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 014

The Eldar Vypers had been a thorn in Alex' side all game, so he concentrated his fire on them, finally downing one.

The Farseer switched her Fortune to the bikes. The final Eldar formation saw the bikes in the rear, protected by the mass of the hulls in front of them; the bikes were the easiest to kill, so I wanted to keep them alive and prevent giving up their VPs to Alex.

Astro 2011 prep game vs Dave 016

The game ended at the bottom of the 6th turn. Despite the awful carnage wrought among the Ork forces, the game wasn't going to be a runaway for the Eldar. I wasn't even close to tabling the Orks. As it turned out, the Eldar gave up 137 VPs, for the Warp Spiders. The Orks lost in the vicinity of 450-500 VPs worth of units. The Eldar needed to be ahead by a difference of at least 150 VPs to allow for a win.

Result: Eldar Victory

The Big Trukk just wasn't producing for Alex. It was the slowest of his vehicles, so its firepower was very limited if it tried to keep up with everybody else. It's a large vehicle; using it as a "counts as" Battlewagon instead would gain a lot more resiliency for the Orks (AV 14 on the front facing). If the Meganobz ride in that bad boy, they might be able to get into close combat.

As for the Eldar, their tactics seemed to hold up. The only question was regarding the Fire Dragon's Wave Serpent. It's armed with turreted TL Shuriken Cannons. Twice during the game it came up short, just out of its 24" range. If I give up one Fire Dragon (16 points), I can afford the upgrade to TL Scatter Lasers (15 points), just like the rest of the Wave Serpents. Fundamentally, I'm probably losing only one Melta shot during the course of a game, since the Dragons die pretty fast once their boots are on the ground. As Alex says, the squad would still have eight melta guns...

All in all, we both had a lot of fun. It's always cool trying out my Eldar against different opponents. I don't get to play Alex enough. The last time was at an Astronomi-con a few years ago. I look forward to seeing his force when they're fully assembled and painted.


Spifferson said...

Nice report I have been following your eldar for a while and am building up my own mechdar. I dig the old school models and have incorporated a mix into my own army.

I see you are using a Farseer again or was that for your no FW list? I am still using the Farseer crutch but think that I would need double Autarchs to help ease the pain.

Mike A said...

I don't see Farseers as a crutch. They are pretty much required, considering just about every army has some degree of psychic. Runes of Warding are one of the best pieces of Eldar wargear, IMHO.

DaveV said...

Spifferson, like some of the other Conscripts I have a real fondness for old-school 40K figues. IIRC, I have enough RT-era Dire Avengers to eventually do 6 full squads. Do you have links to pics of your army?

For the GT they disallow FW and IA rules. I can bring Hornet models, but only field them as "counts as" Vypers.

After a few games with my original Las Vegas list I went back to using a Farseer, for two main reasons:

1. Runes of Warding: Full table coverage forcing 3D6 Psychic tests (and Perils on 12+) is a very powerful defense against the likes of Librarians, Chaos Sorcerors and now Grey Knights. She doesn't even have to get out of her ride.

2. Fortune: Fortuned skimmers are very hard to put down.

IMO, double Autarchs are the way to go if one is planning to always use Reserves Denial. Lately, however, I've been experimenting with different deployment styles.