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This is a part of the author's "Public Game" series. To view other battle reports in the series, click here.

In this escalation league game, I drew lots against the dark eldar player form a few games ago. Time to see what a full thousand points can do!

THE CHALLENGER: They come in 10-packs for convenience

Archon (in one of the raiders) with some upgrades

2x warrior squads with 2x dark lances

mob of mandrakes

5 warp beasts with beast master (with agonizer)

warrior squad with blaster
- in raider with horrorfex

wych squad
- in raider with dark lance

Ravager
- with 3x disintegrators (I think)

THE DEFENDER: When Israel was in Egypt’s land...

I used list 3g, like last time.

We rolled Seek and Destroy on Gamma. The Dawn special rule was in effect (crap!). He rolled for sides, I rolled for deployment (which, for the first time ever, I won and chose to deploy first, thanks to the weird deployment rule), and I also won first turn, which, for the first time ever, I passed on to my opponent. The point was to let him get close with all of his stuff, and then it would be easier for me to shoot him. I hoped.

At deployment, the field looked like this:

The important thing to note here is that I couldn't place the basilisk anywhere where it wasn't going to get blown up, given that he had a great fire lane all through the middle with a pair of dark lances. In the end, I decided to sacrifice a chimera to provide a screen for my precious tank. Plus, if it were wrecked, it would still block LOS, so I would still be fine.

Otherwise, it looked like the basic plan would be for him to move up all of his forces and then pounce on them when they were in the middle.

TURN 1

Melchoir had pulled courtyard duty again. It seemed that when one did something well, that became a majority of the missions to which they were assigned. Melchoir has a reputation of flushing enemy units out of small spaces like oases, city parks, and couryards. This was no exception.

The Melchoir Group had slowly snuck up on the edge of the courtyard before dawn. The plan was to use the half-light to obscure their forces and be able to ambush their enemy. Least that Melchoir could do in return for this particular enemy's treatment of him last time.

The only caveat was figuring out how to mobilize their enemy at the opportune time and get them to charge. A few minutes prior, The basilisk had shot it's earthshaker cannon, followed by the whole guard force, in unison, shouting "SLAVES!".

It had gotten their attention.

In my opponents turn, he basically preforms as predicted. Both of his raiders move forwards and try to hide behind the center piece of terrain. As he is only to fit one raider back there, he takes his less important one full of warriors and dumps them out.

In shooting, his ravager is able to see my dragoons (deployed on the far right) with only the prow mounted weapon, which misses. Otherwise, the only thing with both range, and sight is the horrorfex on the raider, which targets my left side squad and hits. Given that three models were hit, my unit fails their pinning check (lousy standard not working against those).

After this point, the field looked like this:

Now it's my turn to pounce!

I start movement by scooting my chimera up just a touch. This makes it so that both of its heavy bolters can only see three of the right side warriors, two of which were holding the squad's two dark lances.

On the left, I move one of my sentinels up into the building along with my hardened veterans. My leman russ also rounds the corner, ready to pile some carnage into his warriors / raiders.

Shooting begins with my basilisk aiming at his warp beasts. I know that it will scatter farther, but there were a lot of targets nearby. Unfortunately it scattered far, far away in a direction where there was only one warrior clipped by a partial, who I wasn't able to down.

Now comes the fun part. My dragoons try to see his ravager, but can only see about 12". My chimera targets his warriors and rolls snakeyes, netting him 6" of vision. My squad in the middle also rolls under 12" of vision. My leman russ rolls for its sight test and rolls... snakeyes. The stupid tank can't see the warriors not 8" from him.

My sentinel also rolls deplorably for sight, but that's okay as it's only like 6" away from the raider anyways. It hits and automatically glances it. Given that there's a 50-50 that a glance will take a raider down, the resulting wreck was not unexpected.

The only contrast to this absolute sight test crap is my veterans, who, now devoid of a raider to shoot at, decide to target the couple of warriors it can now see (the ones in the trees). Rolling a 33" vision, the vets unload into the warriors. In the end, one veteran fries himself, and the trees miraculously stop all of the plasma shots against the warriors.

After this point, the field looked like this:

"Why aren't you shooting?" Melchoir screamed over the vox.

A flurry of responses akin to "I can't see them, sir" barraged him back.

"Son of a bitch! You guys are worthless!" Melchoir shouted, reaching for his firefly grenade launcher, brought for the possibility of just such a calamity.

The officer quickly primed the grenade and pulled the trigger, launching the grenade high into the air.

The battlefield suddenly illuminated with a pale green glow.

He was met by shouts of surprise over the vox.

They were here.

Well, at this point I am completely, 100% screwed. I only had 1 chance to do some damage before I'd have wyches and an archon in my lines and the worst possible vision rolls made it so that I didn't even get that chance.

My opponent takes advantage of this by barreling his troops forwards. He begins with his warp beast who, with a 6" fleet prepare for a charge. Then the other raider piled forwards. This was going to hurt:

Basically, the only thing that didn't move crazy amounts of forwards were his warriors, and his ravager, who moved less than 6" for the purpose of being able to unload with all three disintegrators.

In shooting his disintegrators do a number on my only somewhat displaced troops while four darklances score two hits against my chimera's front armor. One fails to do anything and the other penetrates which, through hull downedness, brings the shot to a glance, which stuns the vehicle.

In assault, his archon, who had peeled off, successfully rolled three combat drugs and piled into one of my guard squads. The wyches make a good enough difficult terrain test and charge through the building against my command squad (who I had really dumbly forgot to move).

Thankfully, due to my troop displacement, the squad in the middle had a fairly limited kill zone, allowing most of the squad to survive. My command squad, however, wasn't so lucky. The wyches were able to down everyone but my officer, who, through managing to get three hits and two 1's to wound, only downs a single wytch in return.

Neither of my squads run.

Finally, his beast master whacks on my leman russ and gets a hit in and manages a 6 to auto-glance the vehicle, blowing the battlecannon off.

After this point, the field looked like this:

Well, at this point, I don't have any other choice other than to grit my teeth and try to kill stuff before it's too late.

In movement, I bring one sentinel around to shoot at the back of the ravager, and I move my leman russ back a little bit so that I can still get a movement advantage against the beastmaster agonizer. As well, I pop my platoon command squad forwards, hoping to get range on the ravager with its meltaguns.

In shooting, one of my lascannons misses the ravager while the other one hits, and rolls a 1 for armor penetration. As the ravager is the only dark eldar vehicle with side armor 11, the shot does nothing. Meanwhile, both of my meltaguns open up (being just barely in range) one of them misses and the other one hits and rolls... a 1 for armor penetration. This leaves my dragoon heavy bolter which manages to glance the thing and rolls a 2 on the glance table. At least I was able to stun it...

Meanwhile, the remaining two plasma vets shoot at the wyche raider with it's two remaining plasma guns for three hits and an overheat. Predictably, the raider went down. Equally predictably, the vet failed his armor save.

The basilisk continued by shooting a direct shot at his nearby warriors and scatters 6" (come on) while my entire squad up in the building fails to kill a single warp beast. At least three heavy bolters were able to kill 2 (would have wiped the squad if it weren't for 3 1's to wound...).

In assault, his wyches easily plant a tranquilizer into Melchoir while the archon takes a couple of drugs and continues his dance of death. The few retaliatory shots bounce off the shadowfield.

After this point, the field looked like this:

TURN 3

In his turn he reveals his mandrakes as the model on the right. There isn't a whole lot of other movement, as all of his assaulters are basically already in range.

In shooting, his 4 dark lances manage a glance and a penetration, which is brought down to a glance due to hull down. The end result is a lost turret heavy bolter, and a crew stunned result.

In assault, he purposely doesn't do any drugs with his archon (now would be an inopportune time to win the combat after all). To both my opponent and my surprise, you can really gimp up an archon just by not taking drugs. In the end, he killed only a single guardsman, giving me the attacks to put a couple of good hits on him. One of them manages to deactivate the archon's shadowfield.

Meanwhile the wyches clobber my squad up in the tower, but I'm able to kill one in retaliation. The beastmaster assaults my side armor, but thankfully fails to roll a 6 this time.

On the right, his mandrakes instigate a double assault, killing a couple of my officer's retinue, and some of the dragoons for light casualties in return.

Though the squad on the wall decided to stay and fight, my dragoons roll boxcars for their morale check and then proceed to flee 11" off the board...

After this point, the field looked like this:

By this point, I'm left with no real option other than to retreat from the wall and hope to catch the wyches out in the open.

In shooting, I hope to take advantage of the fact that the ravager again doesn't qualify for skimmer moving fast. My hopes were dashed, however, as I failed to hit with either lascannon.

As well, despite more poor rolling, I am able to finish off the last couple of warp beasts and the beastmaster with a deluge of leman russ heavy bolter shots.

In assault, his wyches clean out my squad in the tower, but take a poor consolidation, keeping them up on the tower (not that it really mattered). Meanwhile, the mandrakes finish off my platoon HQ and get a 6" consolidation up onto the tower.

The archon power-drugged, rolling doubles and taking a wound. In return, he massacres my center squad of guardsmen.

After this point, the field looked like this:

TURN 4

In his turn, the only appreciable movement is his ravager popping over cover and lining up its prow for a shot at the basilisk's side armor between the building and the chimera, and the archon also moving over towards the basilisk.

The shot of the ravager against my basilisk thankfully missed.

Assault begins with his wyches literally jumping onto my sentinel:

All of the attacks don't manage to do more than knock the lascannon off the sentinel (I suppose, 6's to hit, 6's to glance...), who in return does nothing to the wyches.

The archon also charges but without powerdrugging (just in case), leaving him without a 6 to glance the basilisk.

After this point, the field looked like this:

Well, things looked like they were going to be pretty tied up for awhile. The only real targets left to be concerned about are a AV11 vehicle and a shadowfield-less archon. I think I can do that.

In movement, I continue to pull away from the wyches and point my guns at the archon. As well, I pivot the basilisk to take care of the raider:

Shooting begins with my chimera opening up with it's lone turret heavy bolter. One of the shots glanced, sending the vehicle, somewhat anti-climactically to the ground, just as easy as the raiders. With nothing to shoot at now, my basilisk's main gun elevates and proceeds to scatter 6" off the board.

Meanwhile, my lascannon sentinel hit his archon and rolled a 1 to wound. Thankfully 3 heavy bolters on the leman russ were able to score at least one wound on the archon, taking him down.

In assault, both the sentinel and the wyches manage to do absolutely nothing to one another.

After this point, the field looked like this:

TURN 5

With all of his units engaged, he opted not to move.

In shooting, his dark lances opened up on my chimera again, scoring one lousy hit, which glanced, immobilizing the vehicle.

In assault, the wyches and the sentinel do absolutely nothing to each other.

After this point, the field looked like this:

In return, I continue to try and safeguard my hardened veterans against possible wyche attacks.

In shooting, my leman russ shoots heavy bolters at the warriors that had gotten out of the raider on turn one. Unfortunately, the few shots that hit, didn't have much going against the cover of the raider. Meanwhile, my basilisk scores a hit (finally) on the right side warrior squad, managing to catch 6 in the blast. Unfortunately, two of them roll 1's to wound, and two more are saved by cover.

The squad passed it's pinning test (like that would matter) and it's morale test.

In assault, the wyches's giant pile of attacks manage to get another glance in on my sentinel, immobilizing it. In return, the giant steel leg falls on one of the wyches, killing it.

After this point, the field looked like this:

TURN 6

With nothing to move, we went on to shooting.

Again, the chimera came in the sights of darklances (only two this time, now that the ravager blocked LOS). This time, they both hit. Hull down wasn't able to save the chimera this time, and the old fire magnet finally went down.

In assault, the now-immobilized sentinel was easy pickings for the wyches, which absolutely tore it apart. They weren't able to consolidate far enough to go behind the wall, though, so they consolidated onto the 4+ wreckage of the sentinel.

After this point, the field looked like this:

Now it would be time for my just, just desserts against the wytches.

The sentinel moved in, the leman russ brought its guns to bear, the vets piled forwards, the basilisk pivoted. All guns were now on the wyches:

DIE!

Shooting begins with me HITTING with my basilisk. Unfortunately, of my 6 hits, THREE of them rolled 1's to wound. Of the remaining three wounds, two of them were saved by cover...

Meanwhile, my lascannon misses on my sentinel, while my leman russ opens up with a barrage of heavy bolter fire. After the smoke had cleared, only two wyches had hit the dirt.

Placed in this impossible situation, I have to take a gamble. Either I don't fire my plasma gun, assuring that I won't wipe the wyches, but not opening up the possibility that they plasma gunner would fry himself, thus keeping the squad above half strength. Or I risk a plasma burn for the chance to wipe the wyches off the table. Given how much the wyches cost, I go for the latter.

My other two vets fire first and Felix manages to kill one with his lasgun. Then the moment of truth. Two wytches. Two plasma gun shots. I pick up the dice to roll to hit, and I roll...

...

snakeyes.

The plasma gunner did not survive.

Thankfully, ever so thankfully, the two remaining wyches perceive that staying where they are would be utter suicide (contrary to the likely truth), and decide to run away.

After this point, the field looked like this:

FINAL RESULTS

I killed everything but three warrior squads and a mandrake mob for a total of 606 pts. He killed everything but half a squad of veterans, a Leman Russ, a basilisk and a sentinel (plus 14 pts. for slaves) for 636 pts. for a -30 in his favor for a draw.

- Holy bad luck! Even though my opponent's luck wasn't necessarily all that great either, I think this might well have been the worst luck that I've had in a game. That being said, I actually question how much better off I would have been if luck had been on my side. I mean, in the end, all of the open topped vehicles that I could get LOS on died, while his archon and wyches succumbed to a mass number of attacks. In the end, the only way that I could have done better with good luck would be to have the wyches actually die, rather than me getting their points due to their retreat, and possibly taking a warrior squad down to less than half strength. In the end, I think it was some tactical things that caused the game to go as it did. Namely, the left side raider crashing where it did, and my placing my chimera in front of the basilisk.

- This game was interesting as it hearkens back to games in my first set. Once I had stopped my opponents from being able to take out my tanks (by killing his skimmers, coincidentally in ways where they blocked LOS for more dark lances), then it didn't matter what they did to my infantry, as he'd be stuck with a lot of points in vehicles that he just wouldn't have been able to kill. Interesting, as I gave up this whole line of thinking when I canned the demolisher (actually, I already had by that point). As such, it's really interesting to see a game again where my tanks don't die.

MVP: This one was a little challenging as most squads took down at least something. In the end, I'm going to have to go with my chimera. Not only did it clean out it's points worth on the enemy, but it also provided one giant distraction for the while right side of the board.

Hero of the Game: My forward sentinel. Not only did it blow up a raider, but it valiantly fought of a pile of wyches long enough for everyone else to run away screaming.

Melchoir opened his eyes.

The nurse closed the door behind her. She walked over to the officer as he started to prop himself up.

"What happened?"

"Well," the nurse replied, "I was told by lord Archerion that he had managed to brunt the assault. It seemed that in the end, your artillery started pounding on them, and they ran away."

"Did we take the courtyard?"

"No, he said that there were too many casualties to stick around. Plus, dark eldar anti-tranquilizers aren't exactly standard issue, now are they?"

Melchoir's eyes unfocused for a moment as he remembered a particularly violent drug-induced nightmare.

"What?" he said, snapping out of it, "I suppose not. Were there may taken captive?"

"Only two."

"Really?"

Well, how many slaves do you really need per master to start an uprising?"