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1500 Point Thousand Sons Vs Dark Eldar: Secure and Control

Ahriman crouched in the pentagram he had etched in the bare stone, the Black Staff clutched close to his chest. Around him, the flickering, sea-green forms of daemons danced and twirled, laughing in the moonlight. It was said the artefacts of this world were such that they could unravel the web of time and display it, like some eviscerated beast, before a mortal eye. It was for that reason he had come here and expended much of his resources.

The strange jewels that glittered across the landscape were objects of unimaginable psychic power. Ahriman, eager to claim their secrets, had set about siezing them from the planet, but he hadn't considered all the consequences. The daemonic guardians of the stones--the Doomsprites, as they called themselves--were a troubling bunch. Not dangerous directly--it had taken only a fraction of Ahriman's considerable power to put them under his sway--but he had realized only too late the true nature of their threat. They were weavers of time and fate, these sprites, true servants of the Changer of Ways, and his arrival here had been foretold. Rather than permit their treasures to be plundered, the Doomsprites had conspired to draw the attention of others, more powerful in numbers than Ahriman and his retinue. From the quaking he felt in the Warp, the ancient sorcerer knew they were coming.

The sprites arrayed themselves before him, grinning wolfishly. "Your Doom Approaches, Sorcerer! See! See the form of your destroyers!"

Then they changed, their swirling, fiery forms morphing and re-shaping themselves until, at last, Ahriman saw that they had become a legion of Eldar, but dark and twisted. They grinned and spoke in unison. "There will be no escape for you, Ah-ree-mannn! The Dark Kin of Khaine approach!"

Ahriman stood to his full height, dwarfing the sprites dancing around him. "My doom? I would think ones so prescient would know better than to spell my demise. I have been betrayed by greater powers than your paltry coven, and lived to continue my work. I will be here until long after this planet is nothing but ash on a solar breeze."

He turned to his small legion of rubrics, and willed them into action. His fate was decided already--this he knew--but to crush the body of Ahriman the Sorcerer was one thing, but to banish him forever was a task these petty pirates and raiders would find quite beyond them.

There was a great disturbance in the Warp, and Ahriman scattered the Doomsprites with a gesture. They were coming...

My friend, Fish, and I played a 1500 point game the other day. Still wanting to put the new Ksons through their paces, I decided to match them up against his Dark Eldar.

Ahriman's Expedition

HQ
Ahriman

Troops
8 Rubrics w/Sorcerer (Warptime, Meltabombs)
8 Rubrics w/Sorcerer (Wind of Chaos)

Fast Attack
3 Spawn
3 Spawn
3 Spawn (the Doomsprites)

Heavy Support
1 Defiler
1 Land Raider w/Dozer Blade, Havoc Launcher

Kabal of the Noxious Veil

HQ
Archon on Jetbike w/Shadowfield, Agonizer, Combat Drugs, Plasma Grenades
2 Haemonculi w/Scissor Hands, Destructor, Webway Portal

Elites
7 Wyches (W. Weapons, Plasma Grenades) w/Succubus (Agonizer)
- in Raider (Darklance)
7 Wyches (W. Weapons, Plasma Grenades) w/Succubus (Agonizer)
- in Raider (Darklance)
7 Wyches (W. Weapons, Plasma Grenades) w/Succubus (Agonizer)
- in Raider (Darklance)

Troops
10 DE Warriors (2x Darklances)
10 DE Warriors (2x Darklances)
13 DE Warriors (2x Blasters, 2x Splinter Cannons)

Heavy Support
Talos
Ravager (Darklance, 2x Disintegrator)

Terrain and Deployment Terrain consisted of a large forest in the northeast corner of the board which stretched mostly to the north-center. A defensive ridge ran along the very center, and a large hill was in the northwest corner. The center of the board was largely open territory, save a few scattered rocks here and there, two lengths of razorwire nearing the western edge, and a small shed just west of them (about 8" from the west edge of the board). The southern side had a long rectangular building in the SE corner, a crater and a small copse of trees at the south-center, and a 3-story ruined building near the SW corner, but pretty far up (its back corner was the only thing in the southern deployment zone).

I won table edge, and chose the side with the buildings (the south). I placed my Defiler far to the west, just inside the back corner of the big building (a decision I would come to regret). Then the Warptime Rubrics went along the center in the open (cover being of little use to the Ksons anymore), with Ahriman close by. The Wind Rubrics went behind the rectangular building in the SE along with the Land Raider, both safely out of sight of any early-game darklancing. The Spawn, finally, lined up along the eastern flank, one group in front of the wind rubrics, one atop the rectangular building, and one in front of the warptime rubrics. On a proxying note, I used Dark Elf Corsairs as Spawn, with 3 Corsairs = 1 Sapwn (or 2 Dark Riders, as case may be).

Fish countered by deploying the 'blaster' warriors behind the hill in the NW, one darklance squad in the north-center behind a ridge, and the second warrior squad in the forest in the NE. One Haemonculus accompanied the lance squad in the center, while the other one deployed in the forest with the other anti-tank group. Finally, the Talos deployed board center, shielding the Haemonculus and DE warriors there.

There were 4 objectives on the board, but as they wound up playing no real role in the outcome of the game that is the last I'll say about them. They're the little jewel-things in the pictures.


Ksons Deployment


Dark Eldar Deployment

Turn 1

As soon as the twin Haemonculi hit the board with their Webway Portals, I pretty much knew I was screwed. Even without what I knew was the majority of his army on the board, I was already seriously outnumbered and pretty close to outgunned. Couple that with the raiders chock-full o' Wyches that I knew were en-route, and I was also out maneuvered and likely going to take a charge on the chin no mater what I did. I suspected I could remove one of the portals (the one in the center), but both was simply out of the question. One way or another, I would have to survive a Wych assault. I had no idea how my now-fragile rubrics would do that, so I resolved to deal with that later, and focus on killing what dark eldar I could now.

Of course, in order to do that, I would have had to win first turn, which I didn't (as usual). Fish began basically by moving everything up. This saw the Haemonculus and Talos make a pretty smooth advance, but the crowd in the forest got hung up in the forest and only moved a grand total of 4" (fleeting included). Images of giant pointy helmets getting caught in tree branches leapt to mind. In the west, the blaster warriors moved up pretty far, too, and well within assault range of my now-fleeting Defiler. In shooting, the Talos took a wound off a spawn, and nothing else changed.

In my turn, I scooted 'Ahriman and the Warptime Rubrics' (which, it occurs to me, would make a pretty funky band name) forward a couple inches to guarantee bolter range. Also, in the east, the wind rubrics shuffled out of the way of the Land Raider which gunned it out of cover and popped smoke. The Spawn, meanwhile, showed they were in it to win it by advancing each a healthy 9-11" or so towards their respective targets. For the westernmost Spawn, this was the Talos; for the other two groups, they headed for the forest DE. They didn't manage any assaults this turn, but next turn was a virtual guarantee. Hoping to remove the Talos early, Ahriman chucked a trio of Bolts of Change at it, but only wounded once (pretty crappy damage rolls). This was followed up by some AP3 bolters from the warptimes, but nobody rolled a 6 to damage, so the Talos remained. Finally, in the west, the Defiler tried to pull off what amounted to a 13.5" charge against the blaster DE. This is where I was kicking myself for standing partially in the building: the difficult terrain roll netted me a 3" move. I then rolled a 4" Fleet, and fell just barely short of assault by a half an inch. The Defiler was now a sitting duck, and I had just ceded my entire western flank on a gamble. Oh well...some days the dice are with you, and other days...


The 'Spawn' get ready to rumble


Speedy Spawn advance


D'oh! Silly Defiler!

Turn 2

Fish started his turn by having the Haemonculus break out the Webway Portal Construction Kit, so they spent the turn comparing aluminum poles to one another and puzzling over directions printed mostly in German. Elsewhere, the Blaster DE moved up and tried to toast my Defiler at close range. It is at this point I am told, much to my delight, that DE blasters aren't melta weapons (!), and so they don't manage to do anything to the Defiler. Before I can finish my victory dance, though, the Darklance squad at board center blows the Defiler off the face of the planet. It explodes, but doesn't even have the decency to roll a '2' on its explosion distance, and no DE die as a result. Grumble...grumble... The Talos, meanwhile, scoots forward again, its gun taking another wound off of the closest bunch of spawn. Finally, the DE in the woods take some darklance shots at the Land Raider, and shake it.

As I watch both portals open, I realize that the game is pretty much lost. Without the Defiler to shoot from a safe distance, I am stuck realizing that my only chance here is to win against Wyches in assault. With the old Rubrics, that *might* have happened (emphasis on 'might'), but not so with the new ones. Oh well, I decide to press on, anyhow. I start the turn with a miserable showing (again) from Ahriman, who just can't seem to roll higher than a '2'. Though I take another wound off of the Talos, I am forced to waste a turn of Rubric shooting to finish it off. This opens up the western spawn to charge the haemonculus. He kills one and wounds another, and they do a wound to him in return. The other spawn, meanwhile, quickly butcher the forest-dwelling DE (who had been softened up by some bolter fire from the Wind rubrics) and engage the other Haemonculus, who loses one wound after taking two from his daemonic opponents.


Spawn swarm the Haemy here...


...and the Haemy there.

Turn 3

Ouch time. Two Raiders stuffed with Wyches and a gleeful Archon on jetbike zoom out of the center-board webway portal and charge the warptime rubrics. Against 14 Wyches and an Archon, they are obliterated while only inflicting a single casualty. This might have been higher had I devoted my warptimed sorcerer attacks against wyches, but I gambled on the shadowfield failing and my getting to use the force weapon on the Archon. I failed, but in either case we were only talking about maybe one more dead Wyche, so whatever. One crowd of wyches consolidates into Ahriman, while the other one and the Archon head east to deal with the other crowd of rubrics. Also in assault, the Haemonculus is assisted against the Spawn by a charge of the center Lance DE who, altogether, kill off the remnants of the beasties. The same is not true of the Haemy in the woods, though, who is quickly swallowed by angry 'doomsprites.' Finally, in the now-abandoned west, the blaster squad of DE consolidate atop an objective and seem content to watch the rest of the battle unfold. I bitterly remind myself that, were it not for that crappy difficult terrain roll, it would have been my Defiler over there, lobbing battlecannon shells across the battlefield.


Ahriman and the Warptime Rubrics Greet their Crazed, Homicidal Fans...

In my turn, Ahriman continues to choke. I had meant to go for a pair of Gifts of Chaos, figuring I would bag the Succubus (at least) and save the third power for Warptime. Unfortunately, I failed one Psychic test, missed another Gift attempt, and was forced to decide between another Gift (to get rid of that annoying agonizer), or Warptime for the re-rolls. In the end, I went with the Gift and transformed the succubus into a trio of doomsprites. The new spawn didn't help much in combat, though, rolling only 1 attack, and promptly missing. Ahriman didn't do much better, killing one Wyche in return for taking a wound himself. Things went slightly better with the rest of my army. The Land Raider, finally free to do something, threw the book at the Archon (who was the closest, actually), and broke down the Shadowfield, inflicting 2 wounds. The Wind Rubrics likewise fired at the unengaged Wyches, killing 3 of the 7, but they didn't run. The spawn, meanwhile, closed menacingly with the Haemy and his lance buddies and, with the ensuing charge, wiped out the DE squad surrounding the Haemy, permitting them to consolidate into him. Go spawn!


Haemy: "Bring it!"

Turn 4 Fish's next turn saw the Ravager and additonal Raider full of Wyches arrive. The new Wyches promptly disembarked and, after some softening shots from the Ravager (who killed 2 rubrics), charged. The assault killed another 2, leaving 3 rubrics and a sorcerer to kill only 2 Wyches. The Raiders, realizing the were twiddling their thumbs last turn, remembered their darklances and, with a triple salvo, blew the Land Raider sky-high. Finally, the free Wyches and Archon re-charged the assault with Ahriman, killing both the spawn and the venerable sorcerer, who disappeared in a puff of smoke, cackling madly and vowing revenge (yeah, right). Finally, the Spawn wiped the Haemonculus off the face of the map for only a few wounds in return, and headed towards the blaster DE.


Ack! Pirate Ships Everywhere!

In my turn, I see that I have only one scoring unit left (which won't be for long), so I play my turn out just to see if the rampaging spawn can complete the sweep of DE warriors. One crew gets the charge on them from 10", and inflicts 5 wounds. All of them, though, roll their 5+ armor saves (how's that for improbable?), leaving the group locked, but not defeated. It is at this point that I concede the game.


The Blaster Warriors batten down the hatches.

Final Score Thousand Sons: ~400 Dark Eldar: ~1385 This score does not reflect what probably would have happened in the following 2 turns, which would have been my killing of his blaster DE (another 120 points, maybe), and his wiping me off the board and claiming all 4 objectives. Needless to say, I was completely slaughtered.

Post Mortem

I got my butt kicked. The question is how much of this butt-kicking could have been avoided. I knew I was bound to lose before this match really started. The new Ksons do not possess the proper tools to contest the DE. They have always been able to easily outmaneuver, outgun, and outnumber the Thousand Sons, but now the Ksons have lost their primary advantage: durability. The old, 2-wound Rubrics could have taken a Wyche charge and lasted for several turns before losing--I'd done it before. Now, at the same cost for half the toughness, they can't do anything of the kind. They are too slow, too fragile, and too expensive to compete with the lean, mean killing machines that are the DE.

That said, I did make my fair share of mistakes. For one thing, the Defiler was just totally mismanaged. I was trying to avoid cross-board darklance fire early on, but by doing so put me in a position that meant I couldn't counterattack properly. Plus, if I knew then what I know now about blasters (i.e. NOT MELTA), I would have been much more comfortable sitting back and shooting, rather than running into a crossfire on a chance for glorious assault. Another mistake was keeping Ahiman so close to the Rubrics--there was no call for it. If he had had a little distance between him and that assault, he would have stood a better chance of survival for a couple more turns, and may have been able to obliterate some Wyches with fusillades of Doombolts or some such. As for the rest, I don't really see how the Rubrics could have possibly done much damage against an opponent they are so poorly equipped to handle. Even if I had them mechanized for some more mobility, a pair of Rhinos wouldn't have lasted very long against all those Darklances, and, on top of that, where the hell would I have had to drive? The webway portals took away whatever limited initiative I might have siezed and, thanks to the ridiculous sparcity of firepower the Ksons are able to field, I never had a chance at taking them out before they deployed. For all that misery, however, I did walk away from that game with one feather in my cap: my little Spawn kicked some tail. Granted, they were slaughtering what amounted to support units in Fish's army, but they did kill (or would have killed) back their points value in the enemy and, what's more, were fun to play with to boot. To be honest, of all the VPs I earned, they were responsible for almost all of them. They simply rock against S3 infantry, no matter what their WS or I is. Wyches, of course, would have taken them out with all their attacks, but against the opponents they faced, they only took wounds against the Scissorhands of the Haemonculi.

Anyway, it was fun, and Fish gave us all a good look at a pretty textbook Dark Eldar Webway Assault. Nasty, ain't it?

Thanks for reading!