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Monday, 12 January 2015

Battle Report: Mechdar vs. Mechdar


Round two saw me mirror-matched against another Mechdar army in a progressive scoring table quarters mission. Check out my previous posts for the short version and full version of my army list. With nine Wave Serpents in play, this game was going to be brutal!

Pre-Game

My opponent's list was a more 'conventional' Mechdar list than my own, comprising five Serpents and two Wraithknights:
Spiritseer
Wraithguard in Serpent
Dire Avengers in Serpent
Dire Avengers in Serpent
Dire Avengers in Serpent
Dire Avengers in Serpent
Wraithknight with Suncannon and Shield
Wraithknight with Wraithcannons
The Suncannon Wraithknight was his Warlord. I actually really like this implementation of the conventional Mechdar list since all five Serpents are Objective Secured and its Warlord is very tough.

The deployment map was Vanguard and my opponent won the roll to deploy and go first. He simply lined up his army along the front of his deployment zone, with the Wraithknights deployed centrally.

I chose to deploy just my Avenger Serpents (empty) and Night Spinner, with the Avenger squads, Dragon squad and Serpent, and Autarch all in reserve with my flyers—I didn't want my Autarch exposed to Ignores Cover shooting on turn one, and I wanted to ensure my Dragons got a first strike. In retrospect I think I really screwed up with this deployment; my biggest mistake was not keeping the Spinner in reserve, since its role was to barrage hiders in the opposite corner but I deployed it well out of range! I also should have deployed my VSG at the opposite end of my Serpent line, since this would have given me much better terrain protection. Lessons learnt.

My opponent rolled the Iyanden Warlord Trait that allowed his Wraithknight to reroll its 3+/5++ until it failed a save, so the big guy got even tougher! My Trait was useless, and I failed to Seize.

Iyanden Turn 1

Wraithknights advanced and Serpents manoeuvred for firing alignment. One squad of Avengers jumped out of its ride and ran back to hide in a ruin deep in his deployment zone.

The Crimson Hunters, Wave Serpent and Autarch in the bottom corner are reserves
Bad luck struck me in the opening salvo of this game. His first Serpent fired its Scatter Laser at my closest Serpent, and rolled three sixes to drop all my Void Shields just like that. Damn. His combined firepower unsurprisingly dropped the exposed Serpent, but the rest of my tanks survived unscathed.

Eldar Turn 1

My tanks made minor repositioning moves then fired away. I split my fire across the three closest Serpents, aiming to force them all to Jink rather that worrying too much about getting a kill. My shooting was successful in this regard, and stripped 1 or 2 HP off each tank too.

One Void Shield regenerated.

Iyanden Turn 2

The Wraithknights pushed deeper into my deployment zone. The Serpent on his right flank, that had already offloaded its Avengers, swung further around the flank into the shelter of a ruin. The other Serpents repositioned to shoot. I lost another Serpent this turn, and my surviving Serpent had to Jink.

My opponent scored 2 VP this turn for the Serpent in each of the two neutral table quarters.

Eldar Turn 2

Time for the cavalry to arrive and save the day!

...?

One of the Crimson Hunters did not arrive despite +1 to its reserve roll, but all three Avenger squads thankfully stayed off the table due to the -1 on their reserve rolls. The Dragon Serpent moved on from the centre of my table edge and unloaded its deadly cargo in range of the Warlord Wraithknight. The two Hunters moved on my left flank to get shots on both Wraithknights, and the Autarch followed them in to attack the Serpent hiding behind the ruins on this flank.

Well, that was the plan, what actually happened was an epic fail. Five Dragons could not hurt the Wraithknight at all. The two Hunters thankfully took three of its wounds, and its save reroll. The Dragon Serpent tried to finish it off, but rolled a 1 for its Serpent Shield and could not Rend with its Shuriken Cannon. At least my other tanks managed to kill off two damaged midfield Serpents.

For my Autarch, I had to choose between ganking the Serpent holding the neutral table quarter, or zooming deep into his deployment zone to start beating up dismounted Avengers the following turn. I decided to go for the Serpent this turn, figuring I still had plenty more turns to wreak havoc in his deployment zone. Of course, the Serpent successfully Jinked against the Autarch's Fusion Gun, and since he could not assault that turn, he just used his assault phase move to hide in the ruin.

I scored 1 VP this turn thanks to my Autarch, Dragons and their Serpent outnumbering the single Serpent in one of the neutral quarters.

One Void Shield regenerated.

Iyanden Turn 3

His de-meched Avengers wisely pulled back to secure his home table quarter, while the remaining Avenger Serpent and Wraithguard Serpent pushed deeper into a neutral quarter and unloaded their infantry to claim the VP and threaten the tanks in my home quarter. The Warlord Wraithknight moved on the Dragons who had just tickled him with their puny heat guns, and the other Wraithknight pushed into my home quarter.


The isolated Serpent that had Jinked against my Autarch blasted away at a Crimson Hunter, making it Jink but causing no damage. The hidden Avengers in his home quarter plinked away at the other Hunter—which did not bother to Jink—and luckily stripped 1 HP.

With that foreplay over, the Warlord Wraithknight got down to the serious business of kicking my face in. It shot its Suncannon at the edge of the Dragon Serpent, and through some lucky scatters and rerolls managed to get several hits on the Dragon squad, who went to ground but still lost four members—then fled off the table. The Wraithknight was then free to charge the Serpent—its designated shooting target—and easily rip it apart.

The only ray of hope was that the other Wraithknight and two Serpents did not hurt my home quarter pair of tanks, but the Spinner did have to Jink.

My opponent scored 1 VP for the neutral table quarter with two Serpents in it—the other neutral quarter was drawn with one Serpent vs. my hiding Autarch.

Eldar Turn 3

I decided to +1 all my reserves this turn, and thankfully they all arrived. My third Hunter flew on the right flank to threaten the two Serpents holding that quarter, and all fifteen Avengers walked into my home quarter—in three layers of bodies between the Wraithknights and my tanks—to try and Rend down said monsters. The Jinked Spinner zoomed up the flank to try and get range on the de-meched Avengers the following turn.

The other two flyers hooked around the corner ruin to blast the Wraithknights and my Autarch decided to have a second attempt at killing the Serpent on that flank so he could claim the quarter. What could possibly go wrong?!?!


Of course, the Autarch could not kill that Serpent in shooting or assault, thanks to some abysmal rolling. So I would not be claiming a VP for that quarter this turn, and I had delayed my push into his home quarter by another turn. In retrospect, I do not consider this a mistake, since he really should have dropped that Serpent for the VP, but it really was a turning point in the game—like in the first mission, I found myself mathematically unable to catch up on VPs so I had to start playing to table my opponent. However, unlike the first game, my army had been badly mauled and my opponent was in a dominant position. Oh dear.

But of course it got worse. The right flank Hunter could not wreck the Wraithguard Serpent even with rear-AV shots, and the left flank pair of Hunters only tickled the wounded Warlord Wraithknight. The Bladestorm from the Avengers and my remaining Serpent stripped the other Wraithknight down to a single remaining wound, but could not finish him.

So no VP for me this turn, but at least a Void Shield regenerated!

Iyanden Turn 4

One empty Serpent stayed near the Wraithguard and Avengers to threaten my home quarter forces, and the other moved into midfield to support the Wraithknights against my Crimson Hunters. The invincible Serpent on the other flank likewise moved slightly to shoot my flyers—after all, why bother flying away from an angry Autarch who is obviously incapable of killing anything?


Shooting dropped my Void Shields and killed a couple of Avengers from a couple of different squads, and forced my pair of left flank Hunters to Jink. But it was nowhere near as bad as it could of been—finally, a reprieve!

Of course, my opponent banked another 2 VP for the neutral quarters this turn, so what did he care?

Eldar Turn 4

At this point I said, "fuck it, time to just kill stuff for teh lolz".

The Autarch finally started moving towards the opposing home quarter, but stayed in range to toss a Haywire Grenade over his shoulder as a parting gift to the invincible Serpent. And guess what? He finally got the kill. A good roll on his assault phase move got him into a threatening position for the next turn too.

My last Serpent flew up on top of the rock formation—I didn't care if it got immobilised at this point. The Spinner flew into his backfield to finally get a good firing solution on the de-meched Avengers. The Hunters manoeuvred to shoot the two wounded Wraithknights. All my shooting accounted for two of his four Avenger squads, and the non-Warlord Wraithknight.

But still no VP for me.

Iyanden Turn 5

At this point my opponent realised that I just might table him. He admitted to peeing a little bit.

The two Avenger squads left in his backfield backed away from the Autarch and tried to shoot him dead, but his 2++ rerollable cover save provided well for the Eldar hero. The last surviving Serpent and the wounded Warlord Wraithknight fled to the corner. The Wraithguard fled to the ruins but fell short, stranded in open ground.

My opponent scored another 1 VP.

Eldar Turn 5

I kept on going for the throat. Two Hunters and all my Avengers moved to blast the exposed Wraithguard and succeeded in wiping them out. The Spinner and third Hunter moved to kill the Avenger squad with attached Spiritseer and succeeded. The Autarch chased the final Avenger squad into the back corner then pulled off a long charge (Fleet on Jetbike FTW!) to get in and gank them.

The Wraithknight in the top left corner is dead
I actually scored 3 VP this turn, for a neutral quarter and my opponent's home quarter. It didn't matter though, since we had already worked out that unless I tabled him, I was still going to fall short by 1 VP at the end of turn seven.

Luckily for me, the game went on, and I had another turn to kill the last Wraithknight and Serpent.

Iyanden Turn 6

The last Wraithknight and Serpent hid in the corner behind the ruin, and scored another 1 VP

Eldar Turn 6

All my shooting dropped the Wraithknight but only took 1 HP from the desperately Jinking Serpent. Aaaaargh!

Of course, the game ended.

Hypothetical Turn 7

We still had time left in the round, so we played out a hypothetical final turn to see if I could finish off the damaged Serpent with three Crimson Hunters and a Serpent of my own. Naturally, I could not, so not even a moral victory for me!

Conclusion

While I came close to stealing the win in the end, my opponent certainly deserved the win because he played the mission far better than I did.

I had some terrible luck early on that made the rest of the game much harder for me, but in the previous round I conversely had some great early luck that swung things in my favour. That's what you get in a game of dice!

We worked out that the failure of my Autarch to kill that isolated Serpent for two turns ended up costing me 3 VP over the course of the game, plus I could have started clearing out his home quarter two turns earlier if I hadn't been held up. This really hurt me, but in retrospect I don't think I would have played that aspect of the game any differently, since by all the odds the Autarch should have succeeded much earlier.

Going second against an army with such brutal firepower is always hard, especially when the VSG that is supposed to protect you from big alpha strikes flops like a wet noodle. Poor mission design that offers zero tactical advantage to going second just adds insult to injury.

An alternative strategy that I could have pursued in this game would have been to reserve all my tanks and just deploy my Avengers and Autarch behind the big rock formation and my VSG. This would have taken more Scatter Lasers out of range, reducing Serpent Shield effectiveness, and some Serpents may have been denied LOS altogether. Then all my tanks and flyers could have swept in and delivered a devastating counterstrike that may have swung the game early. That said, given how easily my opponent dropped my Void Shields, if I had pursued this strategy then I could very well have been first turn tabled.

A definite error in my play was the deployment of the Night Spinner in my corner. It basically did not get into the game until turn four. I really should have reserved it and flown on from the opposite corner so I could start murdering his home quarter campers as early as possible.

The fact that my opponent's Wraithknights scored in this mission, while my Crimson Hunters did not, was a significant difference. Not being available on turn one and being unable to score really makes that 480 pts investment quite a gamble, especially in missions like this one. I'm certainly not rushing out to buy Wraithknights, but I do think I might have to start finding spare points to fit in some Windrider squads to help me snake Objectives.

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