Saturday, 23 December 2017

Eldar Attack (so do the Tau)!

Farseer Gelladrill had cast the runes of fate for the third time and the result was the same. She kept discerning the sign of the death of Aeldari. Tracing back the threads of causality it was clear that a combined force of Ultramarines and Crimson Fist Astartes were about to attack a smaller force of Tau on the contested planet of Gabbrodon Theta. This in itself was of no great consequence but if her reading of the runes were correct they would then advance towards one of Ulthwé's maiden worlds and that could not be allowed. What further complicated the endevour was the craftworld was already stretched thinly as a large force of Ulthwé soldiery was currently deployed against Ork Warlord Gitbag Gutstrangla. Nevertheless it was imperative that Pur'La Sept was allowed time to reinforce their beachhead and therefore divert attention from Aeldari territories.


Barely have I finished one lacklustre batrep, then I have to start the next! This week is pretty novel as far as the normal workings of the WH40K universe is concerned as two Imperial forces (Ultramarines and Crimson Fists) duke it out with my Eldar army (20 + years in the making) and Aaron's Tau - who if recent comments made at the games table are to be believed - a genetic experiment by the Eldar to act as a buffer against humanity. This game is a bit of a departure as I have not taken any of the pictures on display, mainly due to no battery on my phone, but with the assistance of Aaron and Billy, photographic evidence was supplied.

The Armies

My army consisted of for the most part what I've been painting over the last 20 years, which isn't very much as I'm a terribly slow painter and all over the place when it comes to creating a cohesive force. Prior to the codex I had decided to go with Ulthwe, mainly because I thought black and white is a quick colour scheme. The Craftworld Attribute: Ulthwe: Foresight of the Damned made my choice even more worthwhile as it gives every unit in my army a 6+ save against every wound caused. So now every vehicle I take gets a free set of Spirit Stones.Of all the craftworld attributes, I figured it was the most beneficial as it will work in every phase, psychic, shooting and combat. The characters I took were Asurmen because I have never fielded him before, a Farseer as they are top notch psykers and a Autarch just because. Banshees were my only elite choice as I'm trying to only field painted models, I say trying as I just couldn't not take my two Wave Serpents, they were vital to my plans, the Dire Avengers and Banshees were to scoot across the table deploy and hopefully destroy swathes of marines. 

 HQ;
Asurmen 
Autarch : Forceshield, Plasma Grenades, Star Glaive, The Path of Command (Codex)
Farseer : 2. Doom, 3. Fortune, Ghosthelm of Alishazier, Witchblade
Troops;
10x Dire Avengers
10x Guardian Defender;Guardian Heavy Weapons Platform: Starcannon
10x Rangers
Elites;
Howling Banshees . 9x Howling Banshee: 9x Power Sword. Howling Banshee Exarch: Shuriken Pistol & Executioner
Fast Attack:
Windrider - Shuriken Cannon:. 4x Windrider - Twin Shuriken Catapults:
Heavy Support;
6x Dark Reaper: 6x Reaper Launcher
Support Weapon: D-cannon
 Dedicated Transport; 
Wave Serpent : Shuriken Cannon, Star Engines, Twin Shuriken Cannon, Vectored Engines
Wave Serpent : Shuriken Cannon, Star Engines, Twin Shuriken Cannon, Vectored Engines

Total: [86 PL, 1499pts] 

Next is Aaron's Tau force;

 HQ;
Commander in XV81 Crisis battlesuit [7 PL, 146pts]: Fusion blaster, MV4 Shield Drone, MV7 Marker Drone, Plasma rifle, Smart missile system
Elites;
XV25 Stealth Battlesuits ;. 3x Stealth Shas'ui w/o support system: 3x Burst cannon
XV8 Crisis Battlesuits : MV4 Shield Drone, MV7 Marker Drone
. Crisis Shas'ui: Fusion blaster, Plasma rifle, Shield generator
. Crisis Shas'ui: Fusion blaster, Plasma rifle, Shield generator
. Crisis Shas'vre: Fusion blaster, Plasma rifle, Shield generator
XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit : 2x Flamer, Fusion collider, Multi-tracker, 2x MV5 Stealth Drone, Target lock
Fast Attack;
TX4 Piranhas; Fusion blaster, 2x MV1 Gun Drone
Spearhead Detachment +1CP (T'au Empire) [39 PL, 734pts]
 HQ;
Longstrike : 2x Burst cannon, Railgun
Heavy Support;
TX7 Hammerhead Gunship : 2x MV1 Gun Drone, Railgun
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits;. Broadside Shas'ui: 2x Smart missile system, Heavy rail rifle, Multi-tracker.
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits ;. Broadside Shas'ui: 2x Smart missile system, Heavy rail rifle

Total: [78 PL, 1502pts] 

Aaron's force is full of tanks and battlesuits. A bit light on infantry. Longstrike is the commander so a 2+ to hit Railgun should prove fun for the enemy. I'm still not really sure what all his stuff does, a bit silly really as I have the Xenos II codex book so I should know. Sometime we should play a game where he plays an army of mine and I use the fishmen.

Billy's Ultramarines are next;

HQ ;
Marneus Calgar : Terminator Armour
 Elites;
Terminator Squad : Teleport Homer 3 x Terminator: Power fist, Storm bolter,. Terminator Sergeant: Power sword, Storm bolter,. Terminator w/Heavy Weapon: Assault cannon, Power fist
Terminator Squad : Teleport Homer 4 x . Terminator: Power fist, Storm bolter,. Terminator Sergeant: Power sword, Storm bolter.
Venerable Dreadnought : Twin lascannon,Dreadnought combat weapon w/Storm Bolter: 
Venerable Dreadnought ; Twin lascannon,Dreadnought combat weapon w/Storm Bolter:
Venerable Dreadnought : Multi-melta, Dreadnought combat weapon w/Heavy Flamer.
Lord of War; Roboute Guilliman 

Total: [76 PL, 1501pts]

As everyone knows by now Rouboute Gullimann will show up to a punch up in a pub car park. Ever eager to try to kill enemies of mankind, as long as they don't have many tanks. It must've been a slow day in Ultramarine HQ as Marneus Calgar also deigned to join the battle. A total of 15 models is what he brought averaging 100 points a model. If it gets to an attritional game my armies superior tactics, pointy ears and one foot in the Eye Of Terror attribute should stand them in good stead. 

Finally Dylan's Crimson Fists;

 HQ; Captain in Gravis Armor: Boltstorm gauntlet, Master-crafted power sword, The Fist of Vengeance.
 Primaris Lieutenant: Master-crafted stalker bolt rifle
 Primaris Lieutenant: Power sword, The Burning Blade
Troops;
Intercessor Squad: Auxiliary Grenade Launcher, Bolt rifle
 4x Intercessor
 Intercessor Sergeant: Power sword
Intercessor Squad  Auxiliary Grenade Launcher, Bolt rifle
 4x Intercessor
 Intercessor Sergeant: Power sword
Scout Squad : 6x Camo cloak
. Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. 5x Scout w/Boltgun
 Elites;
Contemptor Dreadnought : Combi-bolter, Dreadnought combat weapon, Kheres pattern assault cannon.
Primaris Ancient.
Sternguard Veteran Squad . Space Marine Veteran: Special issue boltgun
. Space Marine Veteran: Special issue boltgun
. Space Marine Veteran: Special issue boltgun
. Space Marine Veteran w/Heavy Weapon: Missile launcher
. Space Marine Veteran w/Heavy Weapon: Plasma gun
. Veteran Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Power axe
Fast Attack;
Inceptor Squad : Assault bolter, 2x Inceptor, Inceptor Sergeant
Heavy Support ;
Hellblaster Squad: Plasma incinerator
. 4x Hellblaster
. Hellblaster Sergeant: Plasma pistol
Predator : Twin lascannon, Two Lascannons

Total: [90 PL, 1501pts]


Dylan's all-singing all-dancing Primaris Marines are another small force but having two wounds each make them annoyingly durable, just like Terminators. If anything his force seems to lack anti tank firepower - with the exception of the Predator and plasma incinerators. I'm not overly concerned by plasma guns as they have a tendency to blow up in my experience. What I do dislike is the Primaris standard bearer who gives a last gasp attack on a 3+ when removed as a casualty.

Deployment

Dylan also gets special mention for picking the deployment zones for this mission. He went for the rarely seen opposite diagonal with a small 9" no man's land in the middle board. Otherwise known as 3. Search & Destroy .As the table was 9' x 4' it made a possible 10' distance between models (why didn't I have my astra militarum Basilisk?). Aaron got placing his Stealth Battlesuits in the objective of the Olde Shielde Inn over in the top right of the picture below. Olde Shielde Inns are a rather popular franchise as they seem to be cropping up a lot in recent battle reports. Good job, because Dylan's pushy scouts would probably have gone in there instead. Once again Aaron's Crisis Battlesuits and Ghostkeel deployed within a whisker (or over 9" to be exact) of Dylan's Contemptor and a few Lieutenants who were going for a stroll in the central plaza of Gabradon Theta's huge shopping area towards Comms Tower 41. Also in a general Dillhole type way my Rangers arrived on the back line of the marines deployment area to hopefully snipe some wounds off of Gullimann.


The Game

The aliens got first turn (which was nice). So we set about wiping out the Emperor's seedlings as quickly as it was xenosly possible. As a large number of hover vehicles were over to the far left of the battlefield engines were engaged to full thrust (well the Aeldari ones were anyway) and an attempt to close with the enemy was attempted. As both Wave serpents had star engines they advanced 2d6" rather than the pedestrian 1d6" also the jetbikes automatically advance 6" so I was loving the speed of the Aeldari. I had to move the D-Cannon to target the nearest Dreadnaught and took many wounds off it in the shooting phase. Farsight then finished it off. Chalk up another First Blood! Aaron's now familiar suicide battlesuit squadron failed to kill either Gulliman, Contemptor Dread or Lieutenants. My Rangers similarly failed to even give Rouboute a scare. Then the marines had their turn and some deepstriking Terminators attacked my D-Cannon and the Inceptor Squad arrived on their back line to deal with my Rangers. The Inceptors shot up then assaulted the Rangers but they sort of failed to destroy them (I thought they would steamroller them in one turn). If memory serves the battlesuits and Ghostkeel got a taste of marine boot Ceramite as well.


Due to the elongated nature of the table 9' x 4' dontchaknow, and Dylan's wacky deployment map choice there was a lot of commuting this game. Thank Osiris I had given both my Wave Serpents star engines, 2d6 advance move gets you places!


The two objectives in this picture remained firmly in the hands (webbed and otherwise) of the alien alliance all game. Just out of shot of this picture some Eldar Jetbikes are giving some scouts what for. In the centre of the board four walls intersect forming a cross. This is probably not of religious significance.

In this picture Aaron's transformer mech thing having unloaded on the dreadnaught and failed to kill it will spend the rest of it's short existence wondering why Pur'La Sept keeps sending highly expensive pieces of equipment into very dangerous situations without the ability to rocket away in what would be the opposite of Manta deployment. 


For me this was the most annoying event of the battle; 10 Terminator marines with Calgar sashayed onto my flank shooting up a man's good D-Cannon. As it happens the shots took the weapons platform down to one wound and then the Terminators made a long charge into combat with it, wrecking it totally. You can also see scale creep in all it's twisted magnificance! On the left are some current sized Terminators, next to them are some of last millenium's plastic Terminators on their 25mm round bases. Huddled in the middle is the cowardly Marneus Clagar. Or whatever his name is.

See, I told you, one wound. Before it's demise the D-Cannon got first blood aided by a Hammerhead to kill an ancient Dread. This is probably why Billy targeted it for Terminator deletion shortly after. Note the 1995 paintjob when I was an indentured slave for GW south east. 



A crowd of Ultramarine bullies attack my D - Cannon. I've only just noticed in the Codex that it doesn't need line of sight to target models. This is annoying as I probably didn't need to move it into an exposed position to target the Dreadnaught. Oh well, a lesson is learned. The Wave Serpent in the background is about to spew out Howling Banshees who will contest the objective in the tower and assault another unit of marines by the big terracotta building. 



The Predator gets to feel the might of Railguns. I may soon purchase more cotton wool for extra special effects. The tau tanks may be fairly slow but they do pack a decent punch. On the top of the building is another objective that the Crimson Fist Primaris sat on all game. Not very sporting is it?
The Howling Banshees disembarked the Wave Serpent to assault two units of Primaris. I figured the first unit by the Bastion objective would be easy to roll over as they only had 3 models left so they also charged the larger Primaris squad  at the foot of the building next to it. As there was a squad of terminators perilously close to my Dark Reapers and Farseer a quick about turn for a Wave serpent and Guardian unit was implemented. To make certain of their demise they were Doomed (psychically). The Dire Avengers also got out of their transport to shoot up the marines. My belief in the Howling Banshees was slightly misplaced as they struggled to see off both units. So much so that the Dire Avengers had to get involved as well. Meanwhile the jetbikes were fighting the scouts and found they were unwilling to die as quickly as I'd hoped. The Tau killed the Predator so my floaty vehicles weren't so scared anymore. A lot of firepower went into the Terminators and thankfully they were eliminated.

My two stripped down Wave Serpents whizz about the table the nearest one dropped off the Howling Banshees and attempts to cause mayhem on the Terminators next, the second one is ferrying Dire Avengers into the fray.
One of the good things about my Star Engines/Vectored Engines on the Wave serpents is the move like buggery and have a -1 to hit in shooting. This was handy as it kept them alive longer than you would expect. Another bonus was Rouboute Gulliman wasn't surrounded by loads of rerolling if they miss Ultramarines. Calgar was give the Terminators rerolls so it really wasn't as important to keep them all together. Billy scooted his Terminators over to an objective as the possible targets for close combat had retreated well out of his range, probably also he didn't fancy losing them to my Dark Reapers. His remaining Dreadnaughts advanced up towards my Banshees and Avengers. The Inceptors fluttered away from the Ranger combat to presumably shoot the remaining few up in combat. Gulliman, the Contemptor and Lieutenants advanced on Aaron's Battlesuits killing the Ghostkeel and the Tau Commanders bodyguards, leaving him in a perilous postion. During this combat phase the Primaris contesting the Bastion were finished off. 

As the Terminators (just out of shot) were threatening my Dark Reaper firebase I sent my Wave Serpent and Guardians to intercept them. This was probably unnecessary as two Tau tanks and some sort of heavy support battlesuit was there also.  The Banshees are give some Primaris marines what for and over on the far end of the table space marine scouts are getting shot up by jetbikes and stealth suits.
This was the last picture taken. Gullimann has taken 8 wounds so isn't overly eager to commit himself to anymore danger, presumably because he's mankind's last hope or something like that. The Wave Serpent over on the right ill advisedly charges the Dreadnaught Ancient. It doesn't survive the turn. Also in this picture Marneus Calgar tests the durability of his armour against the Hammerheads along with various Eldar shooters, even when Doom was successfully manifested on him the Tau tanks struggled to hit him. Like any good alien race that doesn't have a clue Eldar created them to act as a buffer against humanity, they tried bless 'em, but inevitably it was good Dark Reaper missiles that finally done the trick. Sure, you could say they softened him up, but the Eldar got the actual kill though, so that's what's important here.


The remainder of the game had Marneus Clagger Doomed then finished off. My jetbikes remembered the could leave combat and still shoot because they could fly so they did. The Banshees killed another unit of marines. A Wave Serpent charged into a Dreadnaught and was swatted away like a big sleek fly. Rouboute, seeing his lapdog Calgone eat dirt made a good impersonation of someone who intended to get into combat but just about fail to so do. The Guardians with their never fired Starcannon managed to achieve something by parking themselves in the Bastion. The Contemptor destroyed the Tau Commander but due to there being no nearby enemies of the Imperium probably went into standby mode, thus saving the Crimson Fists a fair bit in diesel money. Asurman got himself involved in combat with another ancient Dread, but the Blade of Asur seemed no match for the big oaf of a machine and nothing happened. I was fairly happy about the combat as he has a 3++ save in combat and 4++ when shot at so he is actually one of those models that likes that sort of thing. We called the game at I think the end of turn five and totted up VPs. It was close but the perfidious aliens had shaded it with their superior weapons and all round better technology.

Conclusion

Another narrow win. First Blood really is a vital objective to go for as the nature of many games means they are close, especially dealing with the thrice accursed Primarch Rouboute Gullimann. He had taken 8 wounds but unfortunately there were too many nearer targets to get taking that last one from him. The game itself was, as I find generally with my gaming group a hugely enjoyable event. I think my plan was tactically OK, but the Eldar army isn't like my Astra Militarum: just throw loads of troops/artillery at the problem, it more like use the right tool for the job. Also buffs are very important for them, especially the Warlock ones. Of particular use are the ones that give a +1/-1 save modifier and the +1/-1 to wound in combat, both are situational but going from a 5+ to a 4+ in hand to hand has got to be good. I also underestimated the value of the -1 to enemies saves (invulnerable and otherwise) as against power armoured marines a 3+ saving throw is very hard to get through. One of the biggest wastes of the game was the Guardians advancing everywhere with their Starcannon. Didn't fire once. Had I stayed where I was it would have done something and not seemed like Eldar showing off. Another colossal waste was the Autarch. Standing next to the Dark Reapers all game to give them a reroll on their 1's is all very well but it wasn't a very heroic role in the battle. The Tau were a good ally in this game as their anti tank vehicles did for the Predator very well. They put significant damage on the Contemptor and Gulliman with their suicide battlesuits and in so doing they halted the Primarch's advance late in the game. The marines were suitable tough opponents as they were dangerous in combat and shooting. Of special annoyance was Dylan's standard bearer, you know the one, every marine you kill get to attack again on a 3+. A better bet for my Rangers to try to assassinate him instead. All in all, a fun game that hopefully helped my general tactical acumen. Well it can't hurt anyway.


Farseer Gelladrill surveyed the battlefield. A smoking ruin of an Imperial vehicle and more than a few marine corpses showed how effective the attack had been, but the cost in Aeldari lives had been great. Asurman had already left through the webway, and the Ulthwé group were preparing to leave. This attack that had intended to destroy the High Command of two Astarte chapters hadn't gone as well as intended, but due to the light casualties the Tau had taken, it meant the balance of power on Gabbrodon Theta had changed. She did not doubt that a massive armed reaction from the humans would in all likelihood result in the annihilation of the Tau on this planet but it would serve the purpose of deflecting attention from  important Eldar planets. Gelladrill sighed now she had the awkward task of informing Commander Longstrike that his valuable allies were leaving him to the inevitable marine counterattack.


Thanks for reading!

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