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Monday, July 1, 2013

War of Escalation, game 1

My buddy and I have decided to run an 'Escalation Campaign' against one another with the two newest armies to be released- Tau and Eldar.  He's using the Tau and I'm using the Eldar.  We're going to play two games at each level- 1000, 1500, and 2000 points.  And who knows, maybe we'll even jump up to Apocalypse standards.  But for now, it's pretty well set at what we're doing...

Normally, I'd have a long and droll backstory about why these two armies would be fighting each other and all the background information and setting 'fluff'.  For this, we're just playing.  Normally, we'd agree to paint our armies and grow them to completion at an equal rate.  But I don't have the time to paint right now (70-hour work-weeks will do that) and my buddy hates painting.  So for this, we're just slapping models down and rolling dice.  Normally, there'd be some kind of additional special rules or veteran 'upgrades' or even limitations.  But for this, we're just looking for a chance to enjoy not working.  It's about gaming, loyal reader, just good old-fashioned gaming.

Our first game was Wednesday, after work.  Since this game was only 1000 points, I established a 4'x4' table with the most 'bog-standard' terrain setup imaginable (and one that you guys have probably seen a gazillion times).  So it was time to do some rolling off.  Mission was the 'Emperor's Will' (aka- 'Castles'), and deployment was 'Vanguard Strike' (our least favorite, but most common by far).  You'll see the terrain setup and deployment line.  Notice that we set our objectives as far from each other as possible- his behind the hill and mine on top of the ruins.  I won the roll-off for table edge, and I chose the southern table edge.

I also won the roll-off for first deployment/turn, which I was more than happy to take advantage of.  After all, I'm Eldar and he's Tau.  I need to close range before everything dies.  Here's the armies:

My Eldar
Spiritseer with Conceal and Psychic Shriek Powers
9 Dire Avengers with Exarch wielding Diresword
10 Dire Avengers with Exarch wielding Power Sword and Shimmershield
9 Rangers
5 Warp Spiders with Exarch wielding Twin-linked Death Spinners and Power Blades
10 Swooping Hawks with Exarch wielding Hawk's Talon
5 Dark Reapers with Exarch with Fast Shot and wielding Missile Launcher

His Tau (remember, could be off)
Fireblade with 2 Gun Drones
Ethereal with 2 Gun Drones
12 Fire Warriors with Shas'ui wielding Markerlight and 2 Gun Drones
10 Fire Warriors
12 Kroot with Shaper
Crisis Suit with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, and Flamer
Crisis Suit with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, and Flamer
Crisis Suit with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, and Flamer
8 Gun Drones
Hammerhead with Ion Cannon and Disruption Pods

Deployment was gonna be tricky.  Because of the terrain layout and the diagonal deployment zone, neither of us were given much cover.  I chose the side with the ruins because I needed a place to hide stuff, plus I had the woods on my side.  And he got to deploy first, so here's what we did:

I deployed the Dark Reapers on the two levels inside the ruins, looking to take advantage of the cover and my long-range weapons.  My Dire Avengers (without the invulnerable save) were deployed guarding the Spiritseer behind the central woods.  The Warp Spiders deployed right behind them in support  The other unit of Avengers deployed behind the crystal forest facing the western flank.  Finally, the Rangers deployed in those central woods (during the 'Infiltrate phase', of course), confident the Avengers and Reapers would be able to back them up well.  The Swooping Hawks remained in reserve.
My buddy's Tau deployed in a wide line across the other side.  He put the big unit of Fire Warriors, led by the Ethereal and Fireblade, right in the center of the line, and dropped the Hammerhead right behind that for the heavy support.  Behind the crystal forest, he place the other Fire Warriors and one of the Crisis suits to flank west.  Behind the dilapidated building, he deployed the Drone squadron and another Crisis suit to flank east.  He left the last Crisis suit in reserves to deep strike, and the Kroot in reserves to outflank.  That did not make me feel confident at all...

Turn 1
The Fire Warriors and Crisis suit on the western flank advance forward, firing at the Dire Avengers and killing three in a hailstorm of pulse fire, plasma bolts, and missiles.  The Drone squadron and Crisis suit on the eastern flank advanced.  The Crisis suit fired at the Dire Avengers nearby and killed one with a vengeance.  The Drones, choosing a different target, fired at the Rangers hiding in the trees and successfully eliminated the squad with backup fire from the main unit of Fire Warriors and the Fireblade's well-timed volley fire.  Only two Rangers survived and slunk deeper into the shadows and went to ground.  Meanwhile, the Hammerhead charged the Ion cannon and fired at the far ruins, sensing the Dark Reapers.  Luckily, only one fell as the masonry of the building protected most.  
Both units of Dire Avengers rushed forward, hoping to put some Shuriken love against the enemy.  The Western squad, aided by the Reapers, unleash into the advancing Fire Warriors and obliterate all but one, forcing him to flee.  The Eastern Dire Avengers, led by the Seer, advance on the Drones and target the hovering unit.  Unfortunately, Drones are very nimble and only one falls to the firepower, while their circuits are more than capable against the Seer's Psychic Shriek power.  It was embarassing.  While they sulk at their failure to hurt the unit, the Warp Spiders jump forward and shoot three more Drones down, proving how much of a threat they are.  And the Rangers continue to slink about the woods.

Tau 3 (Objective), Eldar 1 (First Blood)

Turn 2
The Fireblade's master strategy paid off as the Kroot successfully snuck up behind the ruins where the Reapers were hiding and fired wildly at the unit, killing only 1.  In addition, the third Crisis suit descended onto the battlefield from the sky in the center and added his firepower to the other Crisis suit in the west, trying to kill the remaining Dire Avengers.  By the grace of a Shimmershield, only two Avengers died.  The Drones jumped into the woods and fired at the remaining Rangers, but the trees were more than enough protection at such short range.  However, they built up momentum and crashed into the Rangers, killing the frail Eldar scouts finally.  The Crisis suit in the east and the main unit of Fire Warriors holding the center of the battlefield fire at the eastern Dire Avengers, killing four of them.  While his squad shot those, the Shas'ui and Fireblade fired their Markerlights at the ruins, marking the Reapers hiding there.  Now fully targeted and ignoring the cover, the Hammerhead fired the Ion cannon and killed two more Reapers.  The Eldar numbers were falling fast.
Having been a race of conquerors for too long to admit defeat (even when I was willing to do so), the Eldar pressed their attack.  It started with the flutter of metallic wings as the Swooping Hawks fell just behind the Fireblade and his bodyguard of Fire Warriors.  Dropping their Grenade Pack, then firing with every Lasblaster they could, they only killed two Drones.  But the Warp Spiders ran forward and demolished the Crisis suit in the east.  The Fire Warriors in the east ran backwards to hide behind the woods and shoot at the newly-arrived Crisis suit, easily cutting it down.  The remaining Fire Warriors in the west advanced on that Crisis suit and tried to repeat that success, but failed as the Crisis armour was strong against the shurikens.  Noticing the Seer charging the Drones in the woods, they chose to charge the Crisis suit and try to take it down.  The Exarch's Power Blade was more than enough as the Crisis suit fell to the ground in pieces, but the Seer fared less well as he suffered a wound from the Drones frenetic attacks.  The Eldar had successfully killed all three Crisis suits in one turn.  The Dark Reapers turned their missile launchers around and fired at the Kroot behind them, killing all but the Shaper and pinning him in place.  Smugly, the Reapers turned back around and faced the main Tau line again.  The battle was still raging, but wildly swinging by this point. 

Tau 3 (Objective), Eldar 1 (First Blood)
Turn 3
The Swooping Hawks became a priority target for the Tau, as the Fireblade ordered his Fire Warriors to turn all guns on them.  Between the Ethereal's Invocation of Fire and the commander's Volley Fire rule, the Hawks were easily wiped out in a massive volume of firepower that would make even IG commanders jealous.  The Hammerhead skimmed behind the hill and took aim at the Fire Warriors advancing from the west, fired with missiles and the Ion cannon, and killed three more.  The remaining Exarch and his singular soldier suddenly found themselves outmatched, but continued their advance.  The Drones and Seer tried again to slay each other, but failed to do any damage.
The Reapers, having few easy targets, fired and killed the Shaper as he began to recover.  The Avengers advanced over the hill and from behind the woods while the Warp Spiders jumped up behind the dilapidated  building.  Forming a vicious fireline, they all fired at the main unit of Fire Warriors and kill seven of their number.  Then all three units attempted to charge in and failed.  Luckily, so did the overwatch shooting of the Fire Warriors.  Finally, the Seer was able to kill a single Drone and take no damage in return, forcing them to flee as fast as they could.  The Seer, having seen the skeins of fate, chose to hide behind a tree and not lose his last wound to the gaggle of Tau in front of him.

Tau 3 (Objective), Eldar 1 (First Blood)


Turn 4
Now desperate, the Tau became surrounded on all sides by Eldar warriors.  The fleeing Drones shot and killed one of the two Dire Avengers on the hill, and the Shas'ui took advantage of his Target Lock to kill the Exarch.  The Fireblade and his unit fired at the Dire Avengers in the center of the battlefield and kill two more.  Finally, the Hammerhead fires at the advancing Warp Spiders and failed.  The gunner shot just moments too late as the Spiders teleport from point to point.
The Dire Avengers dashed up and shot a Fire Warrior down, while the Warp Spiders added their monofilament to the mix and killed another two.  Charging into combat with the remaining Ethereal, Fireblade, Shas'ui, and couple of Warriors, the Exarch slays the squad leader quickly but loses one of his squad.  The stalemate across the battlefield is broken when the Reapers unleash their missiles on the retreating Drones and kill two of the remaining three.
Tau 3 (Objective), Eldar 1 (First Blood)

Turn 5, 6, 7
The last Drone flees from the battlefield, its sense of self-preservation kicking in finally.  The Hammerhead fires and eliminates the last Dire Avengers with ease.  Moments later, the Hammerhead shoots and kills the Dark Reapers and leaves only the Exarch alive.  The Reaper-master descends the ruins and hides strategically behind a wall and out of sight of the tank.  The Seer and Exarch seem to share the same idea.  It all comes down to the combat in the center of the battlefield.  Fighting frantically for life, the Fire Warriors and Warp Spiders duke it out for a few turns.
The Exarch kills another Fire Warrior while his squad kill the other three in the squad.  Wanting revenge, the Fireblade kills an aspect warrior and keeps the unit in the fight.
The Exarch finally gets to the Ethereal, only to be killed by the monkish leader after cutting him deeply.  Over the combat, a missile flies from the ruins, targeting the Hammerhead but missing wildly.
Finally, as the sun sets, the Fireblade and Ethereal kill off the rest of the Warp Spiders, leaving nobody left to fight and threaten them.  Tired, they claim victory and quit the battlefield.  The Eldar, still surviving themselves, also claim victory and retire to their webway.  The battle was bloody, but finally finished.

Tau 0, Eldar 1 (First Blood)

It was a very bloody battle.  I expected to lose very quickly.  Eldar may be fast, but the Tau's guns are very long-ranged and high-strength.  No matter how many special rules the Eldar get, they aren't meant to go up against that much firepower.  However, some surprising swings of luck and suspenseful moments brought a barely-claimable victory.  I'll take it!

Next game will also be 1000 point game.  I'm very curious to see how we'll adapt our forces.  Until then, Happy Gaming!