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Sunday, May 12, 2013

NagoyaHammer 2013 Tournament: Game 2 of 3

Round two, mirror match! Home base objectives, AKA roll dice and tie. Except that our army has a fair number of troops and they're all crazy fast. We had a chance to take the missions. Since they didn't have an Aegis Defense Line covering their whole DZ, we also had a chance to grind their army down and win through sheer killing power. Either way, this was a much more favorable mission type and match up than our last game. It's a chance to go for maximum tournament points (three for the win, one bonus for all three secondary objectives and one more for finishing fifteen minutes early).

One of Mike's Venoms. I liked all of his modes.  Beautiful paint and excellent modeling.

This game would see Eldar and Dark Eldar battle it out to establish who is top elf. Our opponents were great guys, Mike and Nick from New Zealand (hoping first names are fine with them). Their list was pretty varied. If I remember right, there was the Avatar, a Farseer on a Jetbike with both runes, Fortune and Guide, one unit of three GJBs with a Shuriken Cannon, one unit of six GJBs with two ShuCans, a unit of six Warp Spiders and a squadron of three Scatter Walkers on the Eldar side. The Dark Eldar half consisted of a Succubus attached to some Wyches in a Raider, I think, another Venom with Warriors and a Blaster inside; I want to say one more Venom, a fighter jet, a Talos and five or so Scourges. 

Nick's Farseer. His army's paint is themed around masking with an airbrush. I love the effect.

Looking at their units pregame I see a huge disparity in the movement capabilities of each unit. There are also a number units that I feel do not have a clearly defined role, the Monstrous Creatures in particular. They're Anvil units. If you're not familiar with the term, they are tough, slow moving units that provide a definite threat that must be dealt with before they bear down on you. They work best with lots of support and moved toward objectives that are clustered up so that the weight of the whole Anvil combat group can be brought down on the enemy together. Anvils are accompanied by a hammer. Generally a fast-moving wing that moves in and crushes a weakly supported flank. Two MCs don't make for a threatening or durable anvil however. I saw this as a liability early on. Deployment would really determine how true this might be. Here's the table (again, we got turn one, so I wasn't taking pictures until after we finished it. Sorry).
From our right side. The Avatar did indeed prove to be a liability. He was deployed in that empty terrain in the middle of the enemy deployment zone. Lots of poison shots later he was off the table and we already had both First Blood and Slay the Warlord. On the Eldar side three units were in reserves: Warp Spiders (DSing), three GJBs (normal) and the Scatter Walkers (outflanking).
From our left. Here you can see the Dark Eldar huddled mostly behind terrain. There are two Venoms and a Raider. The other Dark Eldar are in reserves (Scourges coming in through normal reserves; same with the flyer). The Talos is with the Eldar GJBs in the other corner.

As you can see from their deployment, they split precisely in two. I think this is one of the worst deployment strategies against an army that is fast and has good range. If playing a fast army it might work against a slower army that would need to split up to engage you. Then you could relocate and focus fire. But in this game it meant we'd be better able to single out units that really threaten our vehicles and strand any unit that is too slow to reach the action of the battle. The enemy also had a good amount of their force placed in reserves, but I think there were two more strategically advantageous options. First, it would have been more beneficial to deploy very defensively with everything and be firing from turn one. Or second, to reserve even more and try to hammer us with a counter offensive.

 As you can see from the picture above and the other two of the table as a whole, we immediately moved to take the center. That piece of terrain was being used as a neutral Skyshield Landing Pad and some 4++ saves would be very beneficial to our skimmers. It also gave a good vantage point and nice positioning for my medium-ranged ShuCans. Holding this position would be essential to splitting their army and preventing reinforcement.

They're hard to see, but on the port side of my Hornets there are the Scourges that came in from reserves. Thankfully I somehow survived their assault with Haywire Grenades. I backed off and let Scott shoot them down.

 The two photos above show how reserves played out in turn two. My flyers came in and made straight for the Farseer and GJBs which were controlling the enemy objective. My hope was to dakka down that side of the squad and to Lance the Farseer to death with some S8 Instant Death. Little did I know that my opponent would simply refuse to fail any of his saves or Look out Sir rolls. Even with Fortune he rolled an absurd number of saves. I forget the statistics on this, but I think it takes something like 13 wounds to damage a Fortuned 3+ save. We killed like 1 or maybe 2 from that squad with some 40 or so wounds. The flyers would eventually contribute a good deal, continuing their excellent performance for the day, but not just yet.

The enemy Dark Eldar took some pretty vicious shooting on the left flank. They proved difficult to remove entirely, but we had good success with neutralizing their mobility and thus, their contribution to the enemy's offense.Most of the damage done here was thanks to my partner. I supported him with a single War Walker, but mostly just as a token since the right side of the board had plenty shooting saturation.

Time to die Jetbikers! I throw caution to the wind and place faith in the law of averages. These guys are still around after a LOT of wounds being thrown their way. It's time to hammer them from both sides. I unload my Dire Avengers, surround them with my Hornets and Wave Serpent and prepare to wipe them off the map...except that didn't happen at all. My opponent's luck holds and mine does not. The return fire sees me fail 4 out of 4 saves. Then my last DA gets assaulted by a lone Farseer and cut down. Oops. It was a premature move. Statistically it wasn't a terrible idea, but tactically it just wasn't necessary. These bikers had nowhere to go and no way of doing meaningful damage to the threats that surrounded them. Another turn of shooting from the vehicles would have been a fine option. We had other units on their side of the board though, so I knew it wasn't going to cost us the game or Linebreaker. Still though, you can't be too careful when dice are involved.

Again, that's it for pictures. In the fifth from last picture you can see where the War Walkers came in on our right side and the Warp Spiders dropped in behind us. I sort of forget what damage they did as they came in. On the following turn one of my Nightwings and a War Walker wiped out the enemy Walkers. I think the Warp Spiders ate a lot of poison and some blasters. Scott informs me he Shattersharded the Spiders. I think it did about 2 wounds and that the rest of the Spiders got shot down. That's one of the biggest dangers of dropping in behind the enemy lines. The unit is typically lost to return fire. Always choose an isolated unit. Preferably a non-transport vehicle that can't return fire when you wreck it. The War Walkers are just too deadly not to focus on when they arrive. Anyone who has faced or used them knows this. They are almost guaranteed to cripple or wipe a unit a turn.

We called the game at the end of the fourth turn. This scored a bonus point for each team. My partner and I earned full tournament points. I was pleased at our success, but I was hoping for a bloodier struggle toward achieving it. I find that Dark Eldar and Eldar match up for very deadly and enoyable games. This time, however, the enemy had too little long-ranged firepower deployed at the beginning of the game to swing the offensive in their favor. We had first turn and that was also a huge factor in broadening the margin of our victory, but I think if we had been harder pressed for targets, and had we lost more units early on, our damage potential might have suffered enough that we would have a hard time keeping up in the late game. This is my typical strategy against my teammate. Get first turn and hammer him, wear him down so he can't hit back. Or deploy so that I'm ready to survive first turn with few casualties and employ the above strategy from the bottom of turn one.

It was another enjoyable game with great opponents. They were fun guys to play with and very friendly. I love playing against cool guys that you can chat with while you roll up some dice. Our army did a number on theirs and they were very sportsmanlike about it. Thanks for the game and thanks for a great time, guys!

We were in first place, but we still had to finish strong to hold on to it. Last up, game three versus Tau and Eldar...