[The Von Report] Less QQ, More Pew Pew

All right. Before you read this report, it’s probably worth bearing in mind a few things.

Personally, I feel the current Eldar Codex to be one of the wobbliest in the game. I find almost everything in it to be overpriced by around 20%; I find there to be clear ‘best in slot’ choices lending themselves well to mono-building, and clear ‘are you mad’ choices which only support that kind of thing. I believe there are some rather unfortunate sacred cows – the 12″ range cap on ordinary shuriken catapults which mean that a dying race has to send its civilian auxiliaries into assault range of the enemy in order for them to do their business – which neither reflect the faction’s background adequately nor serve well on the tabletop. I have been listening to the kvetching of Eldar players about this sort of thing for a very long time (long-term Von fans may remember that I actually persuaded Dr. Shiny to sell his Ulthwe army off since he apparently hated them so much) and, in the main, I don’t think they’re wrong.

Despite all this, I still think that one can produce an Eldar army which is definitively ‘not bad’ – overcosted and inefficient but still tactically viable and aesthetically lovely – without treating them as a ‘primary ally’ for Imperial Guard. You may have more trouble doing that if you don’t operate under a set of imaginary rules which exclude particular aspects (tee hee) of the Codex from use. You will definitely have more trouble doing that if all your vehicles aren’t in a crate somewhere in the North of England.

After talking this game over with my opponent, we more or less agreed on this (although he doesn’t see ‘taking lots of Guardians’ or ‘refusing to take scoring Wraithguard’ as ‘invisible rules’, possibly because he’s used to them being visible rules – he came in with the Craftworld Eldar book, after all), and I’d like to thank Rob for being the best sport he could have been under some rather difficult circumstances.


Game Four – 900 points vs. Rob’s Eldar

Von’s ‘Crons

HQ – Necron Overlord – warscythe, sempiternal weave; Catacomb Command Barge with Tesla cannon

Royal Court – 2 Harbingers of Destruction

Troops – 6 Necron Warriors
Troops – 6 Necron Warriors

Elites – 5 Lychguard with hyperphase sword and dispersion shield

Fast Attack – 4 Tomb Blades with Tesla carbines
Fast Attack – 4 Tomb Blades with Gauss blasters

Heavy Support – Annihilation Barge

Astute readers will notice the lack of Chaos Allies in this list. This is deliberate. While I still have every intention of indulging in a spot of Allied shenanigans at some stage, I had no intention whatsoever of carting another case over to the Bread & Roses (the rather spiffy pub at which the Clapham Wargamers’ Guild meets, plays and spends a fortune on chicken burgers, pop in if you’re ever in London, first Thursday of the night’s a comedy club if you don’t fancy hanging out with a bunch of nerds) and so I decided on a more compact all-Necron list which took advantage of the cheap Fast Attack and Heavy Support units in my ‘paint this during the league’ pile. One day I may even get to play the missions where these unit types can Score…

Rob’s Overcosted Space Pixies

HQ – Eldrad Ulthran
HQ – a metric shitload of Warlocks with at least one Farseer and possibly more. See below.

Troops – 10 Guardian Defenders, with no weapon platform. See below.
Troops – 10 Guardian Defenders, with no weapon platform. See below.

Elites – 8 Howling Banshees, including Exarch with all the trimmings.

So. Dat list. Those astute readers to whom I referred may have noticed that it’s, umm, not ‘legal’ in the strictest sense of the word. I’m not sure exactly what was in the unit which Rob, an old hand at fourth edition, still referred to as the Seer Council, but I think it involved more Farseers than is strictly orthodox; I’m definitely sure that Guardian Defenders are, by long tradition, obliged to show up with a heavy weapon. Thing is, most of Rob’s stuff is in storage; he’s nailed together 900 points of what he has and I think he’s been underplaying it slightly to compensate (none of the Seers apart from Eldrad ever actually use any powers, for one thing). A game’s a game, participating in the league is better than not being allowed to, so the hell with it, let’s fight a fourth edition list and see what happens.

Mission – Crusade (we rolled The Relic about four times, but there is no way I’m playing a mission that fiddly at the end of a heavy work day when the game doesn’t start ’til gone eight).
Deployment – Hammer and AnvilWarlords – Necron Overlord Koschei (Immovable Object), Eldrad Ulthran (Master of Manoeuvre)

That’s interesting. Rob wasn’t sure about whether to put his Giant Point Sink in Reserve, but since he had the trait, he went for it. I was well pleased with Koschei as a scoring unit ’cause it gave me something which was fast enough to reach an objective in Rob’s half of the board, and considerably less brittle than a tiny unit of Warriors.

An unexpectedly high-quality deployment and terrain image. Note the green beads denoting Objectives.

Initiative – remained with the Necrons.

Round One

I’d decided to put the Lychguard in this list because, lacking any other Scoring bodies in my ‘to paint’ pile and wanting to stick to the spirit of the league, I needed a wall of cover for my Warriors to hide behind as they trudged for the midfield. Five T5 3+/4+ bodies should do that job well enough for the time being. Similarly, the Tomb Blades with Gauss blasters, lacking their preferred vehicle targets, would be Turbo-boosting to screen the ones with Tesla carbines, which I felt would be more valuable against Rob’s squashy infantry and that ‘need to torrent it to death’ Seer Council. Behind this screen of sacrificial drudges, the Warriors, Tesla-blades and tanks advanced – Koschei’s Chariot opting for the same ‘hide behind something that doesn’t score’) approach as the Warriors. Everything that could see the Eldar shot at the Eldar, and by the time they were done, seven Guardians from the one squad and a Banshee or two had been cheerfully Tesla’d into the next world.

I don’t think I should use ‘Tesla’ as a verb, but I don’t think I can stop doing it either….

In retaliation, Rob moved the larger of his surviving Guardian squads onto the hill, the three left of the first squad behind the hill, and the Banshees up to do what Banshees do to the Tomb Blades. The Banshees did what Banshees do despite a bit of snap fire coming their way, and the heroic turbo-boosting screen did what I’d been hoping it would do – get massacred on my turn and leave the big-haired shrieking warrior goddesses wandering around in front of all me guns.

Rob did get First Blood, though. Go Rob.

Round Two

I backed the Tesla-blades up a bit, advanced Koschei as best I could (Rob had cunningly placed his three Defenders to prevent a Sweep Attack on the Banshees, since Koschei couldn’t land beyond them without being within 1″ of an Eldar unit), left the Barge stationary to zap things, and shuffled some Warriors onto the middle objective and the Lychguard between them and the Defenders. In the Shooting phase, I was the most strategerous and clever and rolled a great many sixes for the Annihilation Barge (if WFB.8 has taught me anything, it’s that the ability to roll three sixes on four dice is the mark of a great general) and, umm, quite a lot of Eldar died. My Warriors were less effective, but who’s counting? To cap it all off, the Banshees actually failed their Morale check and pegged away from Koschei. I didn’t roll any sixes for his charge distance and so he didn’t charge anything and I wasn’t the most strategerous and clever any more.

I have immortalised my brilliant strategery so that you may learn from it.
Also, my picture of the Eldar army came out all blurry and rubbish.

In Rob’s turn the Seer Council didn’t show their faces, the Banshees rallied but had nothing to do except shoot Koschei, and the Defenders parked themselves 7″ from the Lychguard and opened fire, alas to no real effect. Needed more sixes, see.

Round Three

I’ll skip the gory details of my turn and show you the picture.

One round of vigorous Tesla-ing later and there was nothing left to assault.

“If, at the end of any game turn, one player has no models on the battlefield, his opponent automatically wins.” (WH40K, p.122)

Fair cop, but I didn’t know that at the time and most of Rob’s points were in Reserve, so we played on to see if the Seers could go out in a blaze of glory. They turned up… on the other side of the board from my army, and trudged on to look menacingly at the objective in my deployment zone.

That’s… not going to go well.

Shuriken were catapulted, spears sang, and not many Reanimation Protocols rolls came off. The Seers didn’t quite feel up to making an assault through difficult terrain though, preferring to mooch about and enjoy the scenery until the rest of the Necrons had noticed their arrival. Very sporting of them, I think.

Round Four

“I could just play Boringhammer and hide on the other… nah.”

Basically, it went “Necrons move up, shoot lots, don’t kill any Seers (bloody Fortune). Seers retaliate by ripping heads off last two Warriors in assault and consolidating out of crater.”

Round Five

The Tomb Blades backed off, realising just how tough a prospect the Seers were; the Lychguard barged forward to interpose themselves between my scoring Warriors and the Seers. I didn’t, at this stage, actually know that I’d automatically won at the bottom of round three, so I was still playing this like it mattered – and I’d lost one objective with another under threat. This may explain why Koschei spent the rest of the game parked on his hill, being Scoring.

Rob assaulted the Lychguard anyway, killing three and leaving them locked in combat during an uneventful sixth turn for the Necrons.

Round Six

Unfortunately, Rob elected to chuck their spears at Koschei rather than the Warriors, and come the Assault phase he managed to flub yet another charge roll and leave the Seers waddling around in the middle of the board.

Round Seven

The unfortunate after-effects of that choice; the Tomb Blades, interposed between the Warriors and Rob’s Seers, who were gradually being whittled down by the sheer volume of lightning that was flying about. Didn’t manage to blast my own Tomb Blades either. I am so strategerous that I can choose not to roll sixes if I want to. Oh yeah.

Rob tried to move the Seers around the Blades and assault the Warriors behind them. At this stage I’d have gone for Koschei myself – killing him would deny me three victory points and score one for Rob, bringing the matter down to a 3-2 win for the Necrons and securing a bit of dignity. The resultant and rather unfortunate move left only Eldrad in easy assault range of the Warriors, and when Rob decided to Doom and shoot them, the casualties came off the closest ones and left Eldrad unable to make his charge.

FINAL SCORE – Eldar Tabled / Necrons 6, Eldar 1
Glory to the Dynasty of Kadavah!

Post Mortem

Um. Well. Other than ‘have a more modern Codex’, ‘have access to a range of troops while your opponent is frantically bodging their list’ and ‘roll lots of sixes’ I don’t really know what I’ve learned from this one. It was thoroughly decent of Rob to hang in there ’til the end, although I kind of wish I’d thought to check about the tabling thing. He looked (and sounded) a bit unhappy by the time we left, although he might have looked (and sounded) a bit unhappy if he hadn’t gotten to use the Seers at all. He was even kind enough to lend me his Eldar Codex – I want to have a look over it, partly to see if I can come up with a cool (i.e. narratively interesting and tactically viable) list and partly because I feel another bout of Fixing posts coming on…

In retrospect I think that not setting them up at the start was a significant error, as I’d have had a tougher time with Guardian-butchering if they’d all been sitting on cover saves from hiding behind the Seers, and the limited range of Necron guns would mean leaving things within the Seers’ threat range if I’d wanted to get the shots on Rob’s backfield units.

League Stuff

I ended January somewhere in the top of the middle; before the points for Kill Team games were factored in I was actually coming fourth (behind the three Ravenwing armies), but I was a bit too busy to play any Kill Team games and so was leap-frogged by a lot of players who did get those games in. Fortunately, the scoring isn’t cumulative; there’s everything to play for in February and it looks like I’ll make three out of four club nights. In particular, there’s bonus points going for anyone who gets a flyer painted and used this month. Now, aggravatingly, there’s a flyer with my name on it sitting in a flat in the West Midlands, being held hostage as an inducement for me to head north, see people and run some Dark Ages: Vampire.

I may have to look into that.

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