Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fratricide at 1,500 points: When Floating Tanks Attack!

My new friend zain60 (read his blog here) and I had our first game yesterday, a 1,500-point battle between rival Eldar craftworlds. It turns out we share a certain disdain for some of the scenarios in the Battle Missions book, and rather than risk wasting our afternoon on some contrived scenario, we went old-school. It was a straight-up battle for victory points with standard deployment rules - a four-by-six table with 12" deployment zones along long edges. The battlefield was fairly open ground interspersed with a few trees, hills, and ruins, as well as the ever-present (for us Knights) skull and Bridge to Nowhere.

I won the roll for selecting home turf, and chose the right side for its handy low hill for hiding my Fire Prism, and the three-story ruins as a firing point for my Pathfinders. I also won the roll for deployment order, and chose to deploy and move first - I wasn't looking forward to taking fire from two Prisms and a Guided gunboat Falcon before being able to respond.

12-oz Kingfishers were also deployed, in the name of Taste.

My deployment was straightforward. The Fire Prism sat behind its hill; the Fire Dragon Serpent was centrally placed behind the bridge, so that the Dragon's short-ranged guns could threaten anything on the board; the Dire Avenger Serpents filled in the gaps. I held my Scatter Laser War Walker squadron (with Ork Coptas as proxies - they're the same height) and a squad of six Striking Scorpions in reserve, ready to outflank when needed.

Here I thought I was being so very Eldar-y, with four floating tanks in a 1,500-point list. Zain showed me the true way of the Space Elves...

Six tanks! On my right (the near side in the photo above), a Fire Prism and an Avenger Wave Serpent sat behind trees. In the center he placed the second Fire Prism and the Falcon gunboat, complete with a Brightlance and a dedicated Guide-seer riding onboard. On my left, two more Wave Serpents, one carrying Storm Guardians with a Warlock, and the other carrying the ubiquitous Fire Dragons. Tucked in between these last two tanks was a six-man squad of Warp Spiders led by a Twin-Spinner Exarch.

Deployment ended with my Pathfinders. I changed plans at the last minute and placed them on the bridge rather than the ruined three-story building. Here they would have the same commanding view of the field, and could take first-turn shots at the only infantry targets on the board - Zain's Spiders.

Turn 1

The Avenger Wave Serpents rolled forward, even if they weren't sure what to shoot at with their Scatter Lasers. The Dragon Serpent driver was either feeling bold or had a wild disregard for his passengers, as he spun in the center of the field and told his charges to man-up and get out.

Good luck, fuckers!

The Pathfinders took aim and squeezed shots off at the Warp Spiders, killing two. The Fire Dragons and their ride let loose on the Falcon, but thanks to its Holo-field upgrade, they only managed to shake it. The Fire Prism hit the enemy Prism across from it, but failed to penetrate its armor. The remaining Serpents fired their Scatter Lasers ineffectively at the nearest tanks.

For his turn, Zain shifted to my left. The Stormies and the Dragons disembarked, and the Prism and Serpent on my right shifted slightly to see targets.

In the shooting phase, his Dragons blew the lasers off the nearby Avenger Serpent, and his central Prism wrecked the now-empty Dragon Serpent, presumably killing the errant driver (karma!). His central Fire Prism managed to shake my Prism, and a Brightlance Serpent blew the turret off the other Avenger Serpent.

There was no assault, but the Warp Spiders used their assault move to hide in the nearby cave.

There really were too many tanks.

Turn 2

Fortunately, the dice gods smiled on me, and both the Walkers and the Scorpions decided to join the battle from reserves on Turn 2. Furthermore, both units wandered in from my left side, where plenty of meaty targets awaited them. The Walkers came onto the far part of the left side, drawing a bead on the hiding Spiders. The Scorpions took stock of the situation and quickly decided to run a close combat clinic for the Storm Guardians.

The Dire Avengers in the Serpent on my left leaped out to fire into Zain's Fire Dragons. Sensing that there was no fight for Dire Avengers on the right side, where only a Serpent and a Prism lurked, the other Avenger Serpent shifted toward the center of the field. The Farseer broke off from his Fire Dragon guards, because he knows exactly what happens to Fire Dragons on Turn 2, and he wanted none of it.

Gunfire from the walkers killed two more Spiders, and the Scorpions' pistol-fire killed a few Guardians. My Fire Dragons in the center once again shook Zain's Falcon, preventing it from firing. The Fire Prism was shaken and couldn't fire, and the two surviving Serpents had both been neutered by Weapon Destroyed results. The Avengers and the Pathfinders both opened up on Zain's Fire Dragons, but despite all that firepower, they only managed to kill two.

Things went more smoothly in the Assault phase, where the Scorpions wiped out the Storm Guardians, and the Exarch used his Scorpion's Claw to destroy their Wave Serpent. Its detonation killed a Scorpion, but it was a small price to pay.

Hooray! Hmm...where's Steve?
On his turn, Zain's Dragons moved to face the encroaching Scorpions, while the remaining Warp Spiders and the Fire Prism prepared to make the Walker squadron pay dearly. His second Prism prepared to fire on my Prism again, and his Dragon Serpent shifted position to also fire at the Prism.

In the shooting phase, only one Scorpion bit the dust, and the Fire Prism managed to avoid being hit. The big losers of the turn were the War Walkers. Two were destroyed, and the third lost a Scatter Laser.

In the assault phase, the Warp Spiders moved back towards their nearby Fire Prism.

Turn 3

As the Scorpions menaced Zain's Fire Dragons and their Serpent, the last Walker lurched toward the two remaining Warp Spiders, killing one with its remaining laser. The central Dire Avengers re-boarded their weaponless Serpent and scooted away to safely reload, while my Fire Dragons moved closer to the perennially-shaken Falcon, firing at it and shaking it once again. The second Avenger Serpent shifted in the rear, bravely hiding from the looming Ynnead Fire Prisms.

In the Assault phase, my Fire Dragons reached the Falcon and finally finished it with their melta-bombs, leaving only a dazed Guide-seer in its place. The Scorpions charged into Zain's Fire Dragons and killed a few, winning the combat and running them down where they were trapped between a building and the hull of their tank. They consolidated to the wall of the nearby ruin.

In his turn, Zain's Dragon Serpent shifted back to face the last War Walker, stunning it with its Brightlances.  The last Warp Spider - the Exarch - moved to support his commander in the center of the table. Together they killed three, leaving only two men alive from the original squad of eight. One of Zain's Fire Prisms fired at the opposing Prism, shaking it. His second Prism and the Avenger Serpent both fired at the Pathfinders, but they were saved by their 2+ cover.

In the assault phase, Zain's Farseer charged into the two remaining Fire Dragons, but no wounds were dealt. His Spider Exarch moved into cover behind the large skull in the center of the board.

Turn 4

My Avenger Serpents shifted their positions to better take advantage of cover - with their turrets destroyed, and carrying only Dire Avengers, they were useless against Zain's remaining tanks. The War Walker had been stunned into inaction on the previous turn, the Fire Dragons were locked in close combat, and the Pathfinders, Farseer, and Fire Prism were perfectly content where they were. Only the Scorpions made an aggressive move, as they chased Zain's Dragon Serpent towards the table corner.

Having no other targets, the Pathfinders took aim at the Dragon Serpent's backside, and managed to shake it through the miracle of rending. In the assault phase, the Scorpions finally wrecked the same Serpent with their Exarch's powerfist. The Dragons and Zain's Farseer traded ineffective, limp-wristed slaps the way only irritated Eldar can.

For Zain's turn, his Avenger Serpent zoomed in to the center of the board, disgorging its Avengers to deal with the pesky Striking Scorpions. In the ensuing and inevitable Bladestorm, the poor Scorpions were killed to a man. The Spider Exarch moved forward and threatened my Farseer with his twin Death Spinners, but failed to wound.  The Fire Prisms had more luck, as they combined their firepower to blow the Prism Cannon off of my Fire Prism, rendering it near-useless.

Unsurprisingly, the Farseer and the Fire Dragons continued their pointless slap-fight. Rolling a d6, the Dice Gods decided that they were not satisfied with the slaughter, and dialed up another turn.

Turn 5

Sensing an opportunity to be useful, my central Avenger Serpent skidded to a halt in the center of the board and let its men out, to pounce on Zain's squad of exposed Avengers with their own Bladestorm. The Pathfinders also took aim, and together they killed all but three men. The second Avenger Serpent moved up, to be closer to the action in the event of a Turn 6.

The Assault phase was more of the same, with the Farseer and the Dragons still hurling insults at each other.

In response, Zain threw everything at my central Avengers. Between his remaining Avengers, the Spider Exarch, and both Fire Prisms, they were wiped out. (There really is no good way to pile out of a Serpent without begging your opponent to place a blast template over your head.) His Avenger Serpent again fired its Brightlance at the Pathfinders, but they again passed their generous 2+ cover save.

The Farseer and the Fire Dragons never did sort things out, and the game came to an end. Tallying up the points, Zain had scored 650 points, while I had 750. So, a marginal victory for my men.


  1. It looks like you got all the points right, except that my Dragon Serpent had Shuriken Cannons (which were seemingly loaded with blanks by the Guardian mechanics pre-game.. assholes) It failed to wound your rangers, Serpent, or even that last Walker with any real effect. If it wasn't for my Spider Exarch and his rapidly decreasing number of friends, those Walkers could have caused me serious issues and forced me to stop Prism dueling with your Prism and aimed the big gun at it. Allowing you to zoom your neutered tank to safety with those wussy Dire Avenger serpents.

    The Pathfinders were really my bane. The way they were arrayed I knew I was going to lose whatever I disembarked if I took care of those Fire Dragons playing Chicken in the middle of the board on T1. I decided to trade tank shots with you which was a mistake considering the Scatterlaser shake-fest I was experiencing and my Gunboat never getting to fire a shot the whole game.

    I learned that my glass cannon 1,500 point army had some serious flaws. I learned that aquarium scenery makes good gaming terrain. I learned that a determined Spider Exarch can teach young Eldar something about the single-minded Path of the Warrior. I should have used a real farseer and less tanks. Also, out-flanking can seriously screw me when I pile the board with tanks.

    All-in-all, GREAT game. The Cult of Ynnead sent many souls to the matrix, many of which were theirs which his fine with them!

  2. Yes, the Pathfinders were a pleasant surprise, considering that they aren't an Eldar player's first choice against a tank-heavy opponent.

    But I was most happy with my outflanking units, because they worked out the way I wanted them to. I knew you would have more tanks than I did, and I needed to find a way to protect and advance my Scorpions and Walkers. Thanks to the vagaries of the dice, it worked out this time.

    I clearly over-did it with the Dire Avengers. One squad would have been enough, and EMLs on all Serpents should have been a no-brainer against Mech. I've been playing against Necrons for too long!

    Your Spiders were a pain the entire game, wrecking walkers, killing Dragons and Avengers, and being generally obnoxious with their fire-and-run tactics. They're now on my list of potential new purchases. Dual Fire Prisms were also scary, and I intend to emulate you there in the near future as well.

    Agreed - a great game! I look forward to the next one.

  3. My luck with Pathfinders wasn't that good. That's why I have metal ones sitting on my shelf. I don't think you overdid it with Avengers. Most people run 2 squads really. You're just seeing what happens when you play against a mech opponent. Against MCs, troop heavy lists, or just things like Feel no Pain marines that you have to wound over and over... Bladestorm is win. Most people run 2 squads of 10 so I think you did fine with the 2x 7-8 and pathfinder backup.

    I also wouldn't discount the scatterlasers completely, but I agree it must have been frustrating to be outclassed on the tank shots. Scatters have a hard time on AV12, but if you play marines, they'll have a good change of penetrating rather than glancing on rhinos and razorbacks. I think EML or BL on DA Serpents would be a good call and make you more versatile, and Scatters or Cannons on the FD Serpent(s) because you'll probably have them all up in the face sooner.

  4. Keep your exit points away from the table edge this time?

    Good battle report - close game.