Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Knightfall: Aeldari vs Renegade Knight

Image result for Eldar

This lance ain't so bright
It's All-Skype Fight Night!

Yes, it's us again. Kraken vs Leofa (Hi!), and hot from the success of his Renegade Knight against the noble Salamanders, Leofa is bringing the big lug up against the elegant eldar. I mean Aeldaer. Aeildairy. You know, the Vowel People, them.


The Venal Swords

LoW1 - Renegade Knight, Avenger Gatling Cannon, Heavy Flamer, Rapid-fire Battle Cannon, Heavy Stubber, Additional Heavy Stubber, Stormspear Rocket Pod

HQ1 - Chaos Lord on Bike, Combi-Bolter on bike, Plasma Pistol, Power Sword (Relic: Murder Sword)

HQ2 - Chaos Lord with Jump Pack, Pair of Lightning Claws

HQ3 - Chaos Sorcerer - Warlord (Unholy Fortitude), Bolt Pistol, Force Sword, Death Hex & Prescience

Elite1 - 5 x Chaos Chosen, Bolt Pistol, Boltgun

998pts, Supreme Command Detachment, 4 CPs

Nothing to note here - its the same list as last time :-)  And it's only fair to ask my opponent in advance whether he wants to Fight the Knight or not, so he can tool up appropriately...

Craftworld Dyns'tain

HQ1 - Farseer with Witchblade and Shuriken Pistol, Guide and Doom powers, and is also the Warlord, with Tenacious Survivor
HQ2 - Autarch with Fusion Gun, Power Sword and Banshee Mask
HQ3 - Warlock Conclave x2, Witchblades and Shuri Pistols, Conceal/Reveal power
Troop1 - 10 Guardians w. Shuriken Catapults and a weapons platform with a Bright Lance
Troop2 - Same again, cheers
Troop3 - 10 Rangers with their standard gear
Elite1 - 6 Fire Dragons including an Exarch with a Dragon's Breath Flamer
Heavy1 - 6 Dark Reapers including an Exarch, Reaper Launchers all round

I've never played as the Eldar, but I've always had a bit of a crush on them from afar. I like the small MSU idea, and the reputation they have for being a finesse army that requires some skill to use well. (Not the reputation they had from the last edition, of course, which was that of an instant-win cheaters option.)

Obviously, I need to be tooled for bear as I'm up against a Knight, and Leofa's collection doesn't include any Eldar vehicles. Meep. Still, a clutch of Fusion Guns at close range will probably put a nice molten dent in the bugger, and the Reapers and Bright Lances might give it pause for thought.

The Guardians are decent at fairly close range but not much cop otherwise, so they're really there as cheap filler. The HQ choices are all solid, especially the psychic powers of the Farseer, and the Rangers ought to be able to scare anything they focus fire on. Mortal wounds and free targeting of characters? Yes please! Plus, they're harder to hit than usual thanks to Chameleoline. A decent round of shooting or two, and I should have a decent chance.

Terrain and Setup

Leofa's excellent cardstock terrain is in full effect here, so an abandoned colony or research station of some kind provides our backdrop.

Not my personal card stock obviously, but that of Battle Systems, courtesy of their SciFi2 Kickstarter campaign.  It really is very versatile and nowhere near as fiddly to assemble as their dungeon terrain, which I also have.

Leofa wins the roll-off for deployment choice, so we're going Dawn of War, side-to-side across the field, and he picks the left side.

We're playing Secure and Control. Each of us has a single objective marker placed in our deployment zones. Mine was in the bottom right, Leofa's in the top left, although they aren't shown on the maps here.

I start deployment first, but finish last. My army is just that much larger than the Renegades.

I bunker down behind the nearest building - counting on the cover it provides the Knight and completely concealing my characters. The Chosen form a vanguard on a convenient nearby balcony.  

Broadly, I spread out in a line. The objective is guarded by a squad of guardians at the bottom backed by Warlocks; the Reapers stick in cover up the north end. In the middle is a pack of Guardians, the Autarch, the Farseer and the Fire Dragons, all camping out behind solid line-of-sight-blocking terrain. The Rangers deploy in the Webway, but once Leofa's stuff is out, they pop out on the roof of a building in the north midfield. Nice cover, good lines of sight and even close enough to threaten the enemy objective, which is temptingly unguarded. 

Leofa has the first turn, even after I spend a CP to try and steal it. Bah! 

Renegades Turn 1

The biker Lord heads towards the Rangers. (In retrospect the jumppack Lord should have followed his lead, but for some unknown reason I left him put.)  The Sorcerer entered the ruin to get in Range of the Rangers. The rest stood their ground. 

Out of denial range of the Farseer, the Sorcerer manages to Smite the Rangers and buff the Chosen. But then the shooting phase is a bit of a wash out - having targeted all the big guns on the Reapers there are still 3 standing! and only guardian drops to the remainder.  Harumph. 

Eldar Turn 1

Well, that was a kinder introduction to Knight Firepower than I could have hoped for. It's not going to last, though, so I'd better try and capitalise on it. 

The troops in the middle move up into as much cover as they can, hiding around the husk of a hab block. The Reapers think about running behind the big block, but in the end I decide to leave them be -  although really, if they'd backed off by about five inches, they'd have been out of the Knight's range but still able to hit it, so that was a mistake. 

Worse, the Knight is also just outside of range for the Farseer's Doom. So I Doom the Chaos Sorceror instead, and he fails to stop me. Guide is immediately slapped on the Rangers, who have an idea of who to shoot now. The Warlocks cast Conceal, as they do throughout the game, making the Guardians harder to hit. 

The Sorceror nearly dies under the eldritch-guided sniper fire, and staggers out with a single wound left! Alas, this is all I achieve. The Bright Lances both miss the Knight, and the Reaper launchers patter off it like snowflakes. Seeing far into the future, the Farseer determines that the return fire is unlikely to be as kind...

Renegades Turn 2

Ok, so my Warlord is clinging on to his last wound, time to run for cover! Meanwhile the biker Lord advances on the Rangers and the jumppack Lord reaches the corner of the building where I should have prepped him last turn. 

The Sorcerer smites the Rangers again but this time decides to offer Diabolic Strength to the biker Lord in his one-man-mission against the Rangers. 

The shooting phase is thankfully somewhat more effective than last time - I allocate just enough shooting to the Reapers and the remainder destroys the forward unit of Guardians. First blood! 

Finally, the biker Lord charges the Rangers.  Now, I did check with my opponent before even advancing this turn: "my bike can ride up the 45-degree slope of that building right?". But it turns out in the world of 40k bikes don't even need a slope: they can scale vertical walls if they wish.*

If I wasn't amazed when Street Hawk here suddenly appears over the ledge of the building, the Rangers certainly were. Their overwatch misses, although there are only two left after the smiting they just took.

Anyway, no such ridiculousness here; he climbs the slope and makes short work of the few remaining Rangers. 

Eldar Turn 2

That's more like it! Three squads gone, and everything to play for. 

The Eldar have a traditional dislike of trick cyclists. Running the Fire Dragons forward is likely a terrible idea (I should have done it earlier, and at least made the enemy gunline split its fire more, I now realise), but at least they can hose Fusion guns in all directions. The Farseer deploys his psychic powers to Doom the Biker Lord, and then smacks him with a Smite for good measure. 

Shooting continues to disappoint, however. The Fire Dragons and the Autarch combined just about manage to melt the Biker Lord, but it's damn close. Splitting their fire to take out a single Chaos Chosen still feels worth it, though, just to slightly close the odds on the return firestorm I can look forward to. 

Once again, the Bright Lance misses, despite CPs being thrown liberally at it. 

Renegades Turn 3

I have been let off very lightly by his heavy weapons missing all the time!

Right, those fusion guns are too close for comfort now - so I move the Knight much, much closer of course. Because that's how I roll. But just for good measure the jumppack Lord advances for backup. 

The Sorcerer buffs the Lord, then the shooting phase deals with the majority of the Dragons.  That leaves the Knight to finish them off in the combat phase while the Lord makes a start on the Autarch. 

It should go without saying that the sole living Fire Dragon fails to damage the Knight when he hits in Overwatch.

Eldar Turn 3

The Farseer emerges from cover, runs up the stairs, has his Smite blocked by the Chaos Sorcerer and fails to cast Doom on the Jump Lord. Frustrated, he shoots his shuriken Pistol at the Knight, which at least makes him look epic. 

Image result for looking at a giant mech
Yeah, I wish.

Despite hitting with all his attacks, the Autarch fails to wound the un-Doomed Jump Lord, who promptly pulls all his arms off. 

We won't talk about the Bright Lance. 

Renegades Turn 4

It's at this point I start doing some mental maths: although I have first blood and am literally slaying his army, if the game ends on turn 5 and he still has a single model on that objective I lose. Time to run my Sorcerer onto my objective I think! 

I turn the big guns on the surviving Guardian squad and, once we realise they don't have the character keyword, the Warlocks behind. All but one Warlock drop. The Knight then charges the Farseer for the Final Epic Duel...

Eldar Turn 4

All or nothing! Do or die! 

As he's stuck in combat, I decide to go down fighting. A good smite could finish off the wounded Jump Lord, and then it's just the Knight to go. Easy peasy. 

Alas, the smite goes off on a double six. The Perils of the Warp claim the Farseer, and the resultant warp explosion kills the Jump Lord (so mission accomplished, obviously) and even knock a toe-plate off the Knight. 

Take that!

The remaining Warlock casts some runes to Conceal himself, fails, and considers a change of careers. He at least can take satisfaction in the removal of the malfunctioning Bright Lances from the armoury. 

Renegades Turn 5

When the Gatling Cannon opens up, I feel confident I can make the eleven saves I need to stay in the game. Oddly, this proves misplaced. 

Result: Major Victory to the Renegades!


Can anyone say they were entirely surprised? (Not I)

Well, I can. Using the tools I had at my disposal, I thought I'd make a much bigger dent in the Knight than I actually did. But it's my own silly fault, not the dice. 

Here's what I should have done - stuck both Guardian Squads up the top end, ready to run round the building with the Fire Dragons and all the HQs. Except the Warlock Conclave, who'd be camping on my objective down the bottom with the Rangers and the Reapers. Knowing I wouldn't have first turn, I should have made sure the Reapers were out of the Knight's range, so he'd have to move to engage (bringing him nearer the Fire Dragons). 

20:20 hindsight, right there.

Then the Rangers hang back, buffed by the Warlocks and sniping anything in range, while the Reapers could also be buffed and blasting at the Knight. The rest of the Army attempts to go grab the objective, and hopes to ambush the Knight if it comes for us. 

Now, it took me an additional two days to think of this plan. Which means finesse armies probably aren't for me - but it was my first outing with Eldar, and the speed at which they can reposition along with their Psychic powers are pretty decent. With a dedicated troop transport or two, or possible some heavier armour in support, this might have been a contender. As it is, tears in rain, but hey ho, can't win 'em all!

This certainly felt easier than the Knight's last outing. But I don't believe for a minute it was just your dice-rolling or tactics: my Eldar army is in Dire need of some Heavy Armour.  I have a box of Wraithguard who will be added soon, but then I need to decide between buying a tank (which could probs be alternatively fielded as a transport) or a Wraithknight - not as deadly as in 7th, but I do like the model...

Now that would be a good match up - Knight vs Wraithknight! Vampire heavy flyer transports or Lynx superheavies are probably both on the silly side of money, but would also make splendid options. A tank that can turn into a flyer? Maybe Spiderbiker wasn't so ridiculous after all...

*About these walls... A biker or other vehicle can't end its move above ground level inside ruins, and it might be wise to check with your opponent whether or not they feel buildings share this rule or not before a match. Also note that the DVLA does not recommend driving your bike up supporting buttresses, regardless of tire width.

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