This report doesn’t contain any confusing lingo, and even those with no Warhammer 40k experience will be able to understand it.
I was excited to play my first real game of 40k, at a tournament no less, even though I did not have my army with me. I instead played with whatever I could whip up out of the case of Eldar that the store had lying around, which was to say that it was nowhere near what I wanted to use. Odds were against me, but I was willing to give it a shot.
I was facing off against an Imperial Guard army, and true to their nature they showed up with lots of men, a good number of big weapons in poorly-skilled hands, and a number of tanks. Now normally this would be okay, as my Eldar are superior to them in every way but numbers. Even my lowly foot soldiers are superior to theirs. I just needed to close the distance and bring my weapons into range.
This is more difficult than it sounds, as we were facing off on what was essentially an open battlefield. He could bring all his weapons to bear on me at once, and there was no way I could get around that. He would pound with artillery and cannon fire, which would get more intense as I came closer and he could bring more of his weapons to bear. But with such a short range on my weapons, I needed to bring the fight to him.
I made my advance, and despite firing an enormous amount of heavy weaponry in my general direction, I managed to reach safer positions with only a few casualties; in fact, during the first turn of bombardment I didn’t lose any men at all!
I was able to knock out an entire squad of ten men in a single volley from my Dire Avengers, just as they jumped into the leftmost crater for cover. I had kept taking potshots at his vehicles with the few heavy weapons I had, but I couldn’t manage to do any damage.
So far, I had been doing very well. I survived an enormous amount of ordinance with the blessing of my psykers, and was practically at his doorstep. My weapons were in range and I could probably assault his units with my close combat specialists on the right.
That’s when dice figured I had had enough fun, and now it was time to end this lopsided battle.
I tried to rush in with both squads, hoping with both of them that I would kill a good portion of them but not all of them. This is due to a rule that forbids units from shooting at units locked in combat, for fear of hitting their allies. If I could stay locked in combat during his round, I would be protected from all his return fire and would mop up the squad just in time for my next round.
But as I said before, this is where my luck stopped. I needed my footsoldiers on the left to do well, and my specialists on the right to do poorly. The opposite happened: the specialists obliterated the squad they were fighting, and the footsoldiers were routed before they could even take out a single man.
So on my final turn, my foot soldiers were fleeing in fear, my monstrous creature was nearing the end of its life after being pelted at, my specialists were exposed in the middle of way too many guns, and my grunts were wondering whether it was a good idea to wake up this morning.
Long story short, they all get blasted to hell. The holographic illusions that were preventing his men from targeting my specialists didn’t work up close, my grunts were taken out in a single, well-placed artillery shell that pierced the psychic shield their warlock threw up, a krak grenade blew a big chunk out of my walking battle tower, and my foot soldiers were being pussies and ran the fuck away.
We shook hands again, and I went on my merry way. His way was merrier because this was an attrition tournament, where you move onto the next round with only the units you have left. I would have walked out limping even if that round of close combat turned out the way I wanted it to, but as it stood he walked out fairly unscathed.
It was fun, and I’d love to do it again, but next time I’m choosing the battlefield. They hold gaming nights on Thursdays and there’ll be another tournament next Saturday with armies three times the size we were using, so I’ll take this army and pair up with someone.
And now for the more detailed battle report. Everyone who is not Jason, Alex or Mike can stop reading right about now.
The list is pretty much the same, but I swapped my Dark Reapers for the Wraithlord and an extra Harlequin.
First off, balls, this battlefield was way in favor of his army. I had few weapons that could reach him before turn 3, the craters provided saves that were no better than my Eldar’s, /and/ I had to spend a turn exposed to reach them. He could bring all his guess weapons and autocannons onto me from turn 1, and the rest of his mortars, grenade launchers, and laswhatevers from turn 2 onwards. I had no option but to run at him, and it was an uphill battle all the way. The mission was to kill everything, so there was no way I could rush to objectives before he did. He was content with his massive gunline staying right where it was.
I am surprised the beginning of the battle went as well as it did. By the end of turn 2 I had lost just one Dire Avenger and two Guardians thanks to fortuned saves, and the Veil of Tears of the Harlequins was impenetrable. I lost only a few more as I continued advancing.
I had been firing my Wraithlord’s twin-linked Brightlance as he advanced, hoping to get into shuriken catapult (12″) range of the guardsmen. I also kept firing the Eldar Missile Launcher at his Walker, hoping for an easy takedown with just AV10. They were ineffective for the entire game; I managed only two shakens.
By the time my last assault round finished, I had already lost. My two Harlequins with kisses took out eight guardsmen by themselves; my opponent did not ask that I roll to see if the rest of the squad was able to take out the remaining two guardsmen. I didn’t want to waste my time either. The Dire Avengers lost initiative because they were attacking into cover, lost half the squad in his attacking round, and was unable to land hits with their power weapon or witchblade. Penalties negated the Farseer’s Ld10, and they fled.
So in a big turnaround my Harlequins were in close range of two units, with only 5+ saves to protect them, and my Dire Avengers were routed after being reduced to a man, an Exarch, and their Farseer. My Wraithlord had gotten down to a single wound, my Guardians were being disgraces to their craftworld, and my War Walker had not yet come out of reserves.
That brings me to my tally list of mistakes:
- I put my War Walker in reserve. I wanted to use his Scout USR to come from the sides on turn 2, negating some of the guards’ cover saves. This was a bad, bad idea. He never came out, and would have been made contributions to the fight had I put him in. With his 36″ dual scatter lasers I would have easily reached any of his units while staying away from all of his largest guns, and I could have laid down eight S6 shots from turn 1 at the guardsmen. Granted this only lets me kill 1.11 guardsmen a turn…but I could at least have taken out his Walker.
- I kept firing my EML at his walker instead of using a plasma grenade to pin the several squads he placed together. The walker was really only a threat to the Harlequins who were already safe with their Veil and Fortune; I needed to suppress the rest of the army.
- The Walker probably would have been a 1-hit kill if I used my Wraithlord, since his Brightlances were twin-linked. But I was able to hit the side armor of his larger vehicle, and I had thought that the EML would suffice for the walker…
- I assaulted with my Harlequins blindly. With my 6″ move I was definitely within 6″ assault, and in my bloodlust I fleeted to make sure and then charged everyone in. What I should have done was assault with as few of my units as possible by keeping my non-kiss Harlequin within 6″ assault, another non-kiss within 2″ coherency, and the rest right behind him. I would have assaulted with just a single unit in base-to-base, and a single unit supporting it. This would have made my best-case scenario more likely: that I killed off enough, they wouldn’t flee, and I would kill the rest on his round.
- I shouldn’t have assaulted with the Dire Avengers. I bladestormed the first unit with the intention to go to ground when he started firing. Then I could get back up next turn, bladestorm the remaining group in the crater, and then charge in. What actually happened was that I forgot to go to ground, lost guys, and then lost more guys when I tried to make the best of things by assaulting.
This was probably the worst matchup for me, with bad terrain, an army I had to wade through constant fire to get to, and a number of vehicles bearing down on me. A Tau army would have done considerably better, with their pulse rifles being able to form an equally impressive gunline right from the start and railguns able to take down his vehicles, while still being able to make use of cover themselves.
I don’t know whether my optimal list would have done any better, as my Avengers would have had to make the same trek, my Pathfinders would have been foiled by cover saves, and his heavy weaponry would have just gone straight through my AV10 Walkers on turn 1 since cover did not extend high enough to protect them.
A second list I thought up, with my Walkers being replaced by a Wraithlord with an EML/Scatter Laser and a few small bike squads, may have done better. My Wraithlord would definitely have been able to have more of an effect, with his laser and pinning missile causing havoc one unit at a time, but the bikes were for objective-grabbing and would thus be useless.
So I got creamed pretty badly. It was still fun, interesting to see that many 40k players around, to have people spectate your game. If I drop by and borrow the army for either a game night or the Apocalypse tourney, I will drop the Wraithlord and get my Dark Reapers back.