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Monday, June 3, 2013

Growing Pains: First Game with New Eldar

Well, I'm back from gaming in Tokyo. I did get to try the list I posted up, but unfortunately I only got to play one game, so I didn't get to rewrite it and try again. The one game I had was an exercise in brutally relearning something I had already known and should have expected when builing my list: gimmicks don't compare to efficiency.

Here's the list I ran for reference:

Illic Nightspear
5 Pathfinders
5 Pathfinders
5 Pathfinders

10 Warp Spiders - Exarch w/ Spinneret Rifle and Fast Shot

9 Shining Spears - Exarch w/ Star Lance, Hit & Run and Disarming Strike

Now critiquing my own list, the first problem is the Pathfinders. Illic might even be okay, even though a Farseer would be more useful and cheaper. But spending over 100% more points than the cost of Rangers just for better cover and precision shots isn't worth it. They don't shoot any harder at all, so there is no offensive benefit. I could have saved 235 points by taking Rangers and a Farseer. That would help buy the dakka I so desperately needed.

Another issue I had with my Pathfinders was that in order to hide from a pair of Soul Grinders for a turn (they had Skull Cannon upgrades, so they ignore my cover) I tried to use Illic's special outflank rules. The problem with that is that even if you don't scatter, you still have to take dangerous terrain tests and have to snap fire when you arrive. One Pathfinder unit dropped in on turn 2 and I lost half of them to dangerous terrain. I don't think this rule is of much practical use. Certainly not when compared to just buying a better HQ for fewer points.

Next is Shining Spears. They do work better than they used to when you can have so many more, but without assault grenades and having not gained the second close combat weapon they needed (badly), they can never be a primary assault unit. Whether they have 5 or 9 in a unit, they will always be a clean up team. I think if they're going to get used, 5 models with an Exarch, Star Lance and Hit & Run is good enough. Not prohibitively expensive and as useful as they ever were. Start assaulting like turn 3-4 after units are softened up. Really, I think there are better things to do with the points, but in games where I really want to use them I expect to do it this way.

The Warp Spiders...are pretty amazing. Much better than in the last book even, and I loved them back then too. I rolled poorly for my movement distance, but even then you can't roll lower than 7", so it's never actually bad. I did kill myself on dangerous terrain tests and then fail a subsequent Ld check that pushed me out of range, but when I did get to use them they worked well. I look forward to using them again.

I'm not going to do a play by play since I don't have pictures, but in general things just didn't work out. We had no effective answer against lots of bodies with 4+ and 3+ cover saves. Or against AV13 Khornate Soul Grinders who negate my Pathfinders' cover. Or against fast moving Screamers. It was a lot of wounds that we simply didn't have the long-ranged dakka to fight against.

It didn't help that I failed an unusual amount of leadership tests. Lost my whole Shining Spears unit by falling back and getting charged by IG and run down when I failed that Ld test too. Oops. I did play them too aggressively, but I don't think I would have if I didn't already see us getting tabled when the Screamers and Bloodletters hit our lines. We had actually forgotten about that rule and time-warped back which is when I failed the test and died. Had I passed the test it wouldn't have been a terrible play. Would have gotten to sweep an IG unit off an objective and shoot/assault a whole squadron of Sentinels which I think I'd have gotten to kill.

My partner did pretty well. He deployed his Grey Hunters too far back, so they couldn't get into their sweet-spot short/mid range, but his Long Fangs got a nice Soul Grinder kill. I just wish I could have contributed more to take some of the heat off of him.

Brutal as it was, learning experiences are always good. Every army has some fun-looking gimmicks that just don't work in practice. Pathfinders are one of ours. Maybe one unit might have value if used to snipe out weapons and characters, but any more than that is cutting into your offensive capability. And actually, I'm not convinced 5 Pathfinders are better for precision shots than 10 Rangers (5pts cheaper). Shining Spears can work, but still lack what they need to spearhead an assault. I think the answer for me is to make some of the point-saving adjustments I mentioned and to supplement my offense with good ol' S6 dakka and some anti-tank for AV13-14. I like the idea of Rangers, so I still want to use them but I need to fit in enough offense to thin out the enemy before they can assault or wear down my forces.

I wish I wouldn't have to wait like a month to get my second game in. Thems the breaks though when you live in the middle of nowhere. I'll probably recant not writing about units before I use them though. Another thing I learned from my game is to trust my instincts and experience. That's why I used Guardians in 5th when everyone said they were terrible. And why I ran mech even after everyone gave up on it. In my last post when I said I had an idea of where my list was lacking, it was exactly the stuff that caused me trouble in my game Saturday. There is something to be said for running the statistics on units and for having lots of experience with their range and movement profiles. In these regards things haven't changed enough to invalidate my judgements on the units in the new codex. Besides, drawing up some assumptions can be useful when testing units as it leaves a record to compare post-test conclusions against.

I'll be jealous if you are gonna be playing games all month while I wait. Feel free to brag though, I won't hold it against you (too much).