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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Battle Report: Mechdar vs. Triptide & Knight


This weekend I attended a small invitational tournament with my Eldar. This was a 1750 pts tournament with minimal army list restrictions (no Unbound, points-limited Super Heavies) but some poorly designed custom missions that I believed warranted some list tailoring. The abridged version of my army list was:
Autarch with Jetbike and Mantle
Fire Dragons in Serpent
Dire Avengers in Serpent
Dire Avengers in Serpent
Dire Avengers in Serpent
Crimson Hunter
Crimson Hunter
Crimson Hunter
Night Spinner
Void Shield Generator
Pretty standard Mechdar for me, but with the addition of a Night Spinner that I thought might be useful in the tournament missions.

Pre-Game

The first round was a pseudo-Maelstrom mission and I was matched against a Tau / Farsight / Imperial Knights army:
Commander with ALL TEH BUFFZ
Riptide
Riptide
Fire Warriors
Fire Warriors
Farsight Commander with Missiles, Skyfire and Interceptor
Earth Caste Riptide
Crisis squad with Missiles and Marker Drones
Solo Crisis with Flamer
Solo Crisis with Flamer
Knight Errant
So four big hitters in the Riptides and Knight, a mobile shooty squad (Twin-Linked, Ignores Cover, Tank Hunter, mass S7 missiles) and a handful of token Objective Secured units. My opponent rolled up Infiltrate three units as his Warlord Trait so I knew those Riptides were going to be in my face first turn. My opponent also won the roll for first turn.


My opponent reserved his token scorers and deployed his shooty squad centrally, behind a big LOS blocking building. His Knight was deployed off to one side of the big LOS blocker, with a clear run into my deployment zone.

I split my deployment with the VSG, Spinner and Dragon Serpent on the extreme left and my Autarch and Avenger Serpents in the centre. My Avenger Serpents had to clump up to ensure that his shooty squad couldn't draw LOS to any of them through lateral movement to either side of the big LOS blocking building; I wanted to make him spend two turns moving either laterally or up on top of the building before he could unleash their Serpent-killing firepower. Of course, this meant I was giving his Riptides and Knight the opportunity to frag multiple Serpents with their blasts, but I decided this was a favourable trade-off.

I could have deployed the VSG to cover the clumped Serpents from the first turn blasts, but I wanted to preserve the Void Shields to cover my flyers when they arrived since they would be taking Interceptor fire and I needed to ensure they could shoot at full capacity when they arrived.

Unsurprisingly, the Infiltrating Riptides deployed aggressively. I failed to Seize, even with +1 from my Warlord trait.

Tau Turn 1

My opponent wasted no time in bringing the pain to my army. Everything advanced, with the Riptides and Knight getting into firing position and the Buff Commander leading the way for the shooty squad, jumping up on top of the big central building. The Earth Caste Riptide managed to wound itself with Nova failure, despite its reroll and FNP.


The big guys blasted away at my three Avenger Serpents. He consistently targeted one Serpent—which of course Jinked to save itself—but his blasts were hitting one or both of the other two, which could not Jink since they were not being targeted directly. The Jinked Serpent only lost a single HP but one of the other two was Wrecked—and the other survived unscathed.

So one Serpent down and another Jinked before I had a chance to move—not great, but it could have been worse. And people wonder why I prefer to bring at least five Serpents...

My opponent scored his VP for this turn, killing one of my units and holding an Objective.

Eldar Turn 1

My preferred way to play this army is to dance in the first turn and draw my opponent into position to get roflstomped by my flyers when they [hopefully][all] arrive on turn two. Ideally I would have feinted right so my Hunters could fly in on the left, under the protection of the VSG, and shoot my opponent in the back. However, my right flank was enveloped by Riptides and the lurking shooty Crisis squad so I had to pull back into my left corner and hope to survive another turn.


My fully functional Serpent aligned to shoot the Earth Caste Riptide that had wounded itself, the Jinked Serpent aligned to shoot the Knight, and the Dragon Serpent pushed up my left flank to get side-AV shots on the Knight. My Autarch moved to block the Knight from charging the closest Serpent—Slay the Warlord was only a tiebreaker in this mission so I was willing to sacrifice him to keep an extra Serpent alive and shooting. I ensured he was also in range to toss a Haywire Grenade at the titan.

I fired away and stripped a wound from the damaged Riptide and three HP from the Knight. Not bad, but the icing on the cake was the Spinner dropping a barrage on the hidden Crisis squad, killing a suit and Pinning the unit! This single failed Ld check was so valuable, as it bought me an extra turn of safety from the brutal firepower of that unit.

Having failed to kill a unit, I did not score my VP this turn.

Tau Turn 2

A Fire Warrior squad walked on towards an Objective, and a solo Crisis suit mishapped and remained in reserve. The big guys advanced and the shooty squad remained Pinned behind the big building.


Shooting stripped another HP from the already-damaged Serpent, and the Knight charged my Autarch. In a game-changing run of bad dice, the Knight hit the Autarch only once, rolled a 1 to wound with its D weapon, then rolled a 1 to stomp the Eldar commander! New model luck FTW! However, the Serpent the plucky Autarch was attempting to defend was also stomped, and lost its last HP to the Knight anyway. The Autarch used Hit and Run to disengage the Knight and get closer to the Fire Warriors.

My opponent scored his VP for holding the centre Objective.

Eldar Turn 2

It was now my turn to bring the pain to the Tau. The Knight was inside the protective bubble of my VSG, but that protection of course does not apply if the shooter is also within the bubble. The Dragon Serpent popped around the corner of the building and disgorged its deadly cargo into the side arc of the Knight. My three Crimson Hunters flew into the VSG bubble, one within the Knight's front arc and the other two in its side arc. All the Intercepting SMS shots that probably would of fragged the fragile flyers were rendered useless by the VSG.

The sole surviving Avenger Serpent pushed aggressively into the middle of the board so it could Objective Secured steal the centre Objective away from a Riptide.


My opponent wisely positioned his Knight's Ion Shield to ward against two of the flyers plus the Dragons; however, the Dragons Battle Focussed into the Knight's rear arc and took its remaining three HP. The explosion scattered into only the flyers and thus did no further damage.

The Crimson Hunters and Avenger Serpent blasted away at the Riptides, finishing off the Earth Caste one and putting wounds on the other two. The Dragon Serpent kept its shield up—the Crisis squad would have a good firing solution on it next turn—but shot dead a few Fire Warriors with its other weapons. The Autarch charged in and killed the rest, then consolidated behind the tall water towers so he wouldn't fall victim to the Ignores Cover shooting of the Crisis squad.

I scored my VP for the centre Objective, thanks to Objective Secured trumping the contesting Riptide.

Tau Turn 3

Sorry, no photos this turn or the next, the battle was intense and I was completely focussed on the game.

The solo Crisis suit that had mishapped the previous turn returned the battlefield, and this time safely dropped onto the unattended Objective on my right flank. His other reserves did not arrive. The remaining two Riptides grouped up in the centre of the board, and the Crisis squad moved around the big building to get LOS on my flyers, Dragons and their Serpent.

The Crisis squad fired on the nearest Crimson Hunter, with all their Twin-Linked, Tank Hunter, Ignores Cover S7 missile goodness. Unfortunately for my opponent, all he could do was drop two Void Shields, even though I generously allowed him Tank Hunter rerolls against the shield (it's not a vehicle or building, so Tank Hunter strictly should not apply). This also meant that his Marker Lights were useless, since you can't light up a Void Shield. I think this move was a critical error by my opponent, since if he'd fired on my Fire Dragons or their Serpent then he would have scored more hits and probably dropped all three shields.

However, with only two Riptides left with which to shoot, my opponent had to choose between firing both at the Dragons—one to drop the shield and the other to kill the squad—or using one to shoot and then charge the Avenger Serpent. He chose to kill the Avenger Serpent to reduce my firepower and limit my scoring options, but that left the Dragons unmolested and in close proximity...

My opponent scored his VP for the solo Crisis suit sitting on an Objective and killing the last Avenger Serpent.

Eldar Turn 3

I was behind on VP at this point, but there was blood in the water so I decided to abandon the mission and go for the throat.

The Dragons and two Hunters encircled the two wounded Riptides, while the third Hunter, my last surviving Serpent, and my Autarch all went hunting the Crisis squad. My combined firepower dropped the Riptides and my de-meched Avengers killed the solo Crisis suit camping an Objective. I shot dead the remaining Crisis suits, leaving the two Commanders and their drones to be charged by my Autarch; he killed a drone and put two wounds on the Farsight Commander, for the loss of a wound in return. The Commanders passed their morale test and Hit and Run test to disengage the Autarch.

I did not score my VP this turn since I did not hold either of my opponent's Objectives—but I didn't really care at this point.

Mopping Up

My opponent knew he was probably going to get tabled, but to his credit he played out the game—after all, if he could somehow keep a single model alive until the game's end then he would win on VP.

The remaining Fire Warriors walked on to the table but were met by a Serpent and Night Spinner and were quickly back in their box. The remaining solo Crisis suit dropped in but was hunted down by Avengers.


I still had to finish off his two Commanders—including the tough, unwounded Buff Commander—and all I really had for the job were my Crimson Hunters. However, there was a real chance that my opponent could manoeuvre those two models out of the firing lanes of my flyers and steal the game. It was time to set and bait a trap...

The turn five objective required a unit kill in the Assault Phase. What better bait then a wounded Warlord placed in easy charge range of the two Commanders? Using their Puretide Chip for Furious Charge (lol) the two Tau heroes made short work of the Eldar strategist—and found themselves stranded in the kill box of three Crimson Hunters. Game over.

Conclusion

Despite the outcome, I was in real trouble for most of this game. I had to weather two turns of Tau shooting and Knight punching before I could bring in my own heavy-hitters to turn the tide. Even then, I was still losing the mission because I had fallen behind in the 'penalty shoot-out' style scoring, which I had identified as a significant risk in my pre-tournament analysis. This is really bad mission design since there is really no way to catch up if you ever do fall behind, your only option for victory is to abandon the mission and play to table your opponent.

My opponent was really unlucky not to kill my Autarch with his Knight, and to have his Crisis squad Pinned early in the game and kept out of LOS of everything. If the dice had been kinder to him, and I'd lost my Autarch and an extra Serpent early on, then I would have struggled to table him for the win, especially if he had chosen to run and hide instead of standing, fighting and dying For The Greater Good.

I was most scared of the buffed-up Crisis squad—more than the Triptides or Knight—but I managed to keep them shut-down for the entire game through good positioning and a healthy helping of luck (Pinning FTW!)

But the most significant take-away from this game is that it reminded me that I am always playing for the late-game—with so many points invested in units that always start in Reserve, I can get mauled pretty badly in the early part of the game, especially if I have to go second (spoiler: I did not get to go first once in this tournament!) I guess this is another factor to take into account when comparing Crimson Hunters to Wraithknights when building a Mechdar list. That said, the firepower those flyers bring to an already shooty army is just phenomenal.

5 comments:

  1. Tense game.
    I really hate gamers that ally in iKnights with Xenos armies though, so I'm happy to see that fool get tabled.
    :)

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  2. Yeah fluff-wise it makes zero sense, and it's something I wouldn't do, but I'm not going to judge. I don't think the Knight really added much to this army, he would've been better off with an extra two Riptides if he wanted to keep model count down, or more Crisis/Broadsides for better firepower.

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  3. I've been hoping for a long time that some "chaos" knights would have come out to provide some sort of balance, and at least make a bit more sense when they get allied in!

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  4. Since you can ally Knights to CSM or Daemons already I'm not surprised that there have not been specific rules for Chaos Knights yet. Maybe if FW do a conversion kit then we would see rules. Until then I have no problem seeing spiky "Imperial" Knights in Chaos armies. I just like to see a bit of effort in the conversion. Likewise for Ork Looted Knights.

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  5. Ah...ork looted knights. I was planning on one of those to count as a gorkanaut until we got chaos knight rules. Here is hoping!

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