Battle Report: New Eldar vs Space Wolves and Imperial Guard

1650pts, The Relic
This was to a game against one of my regular gaming buddies from Walberton Wargamers to test out the new Eldar codex using footdar and practice with my Brighton Singles list. I've been writing this up round by round over on the Total Immersion Wargaming Facebook page, but have saved the detailed pre- and post-game analysis for the blog. This has proved to be much easier for me, so I expect I try this again for the next report. Anyway, on to the game!

My 1650pts Brighton Singles List (WIP)

Game - Blood Bowl The Relic
Deployment - Vanguard

Space Wolves + Imperial Guard List
SW+IG list in detail. This is my fourth or so game with the list and I have to say I'm loving it so far.

Eldar list
Avatar, fast shot

3x 7 Fire Dragons, Exarch with fast shot, fire pike

3x 10 Dire Avengers
2x 3 Windrider Jet bikes

2 Vypers, cannon

Fire Prism

Looking at the Eldar (mostly) foordar list and having had a good read of the new codex myself, I thought that the list suffered from range issues, even with battle trance, and no decent ant-air firepower. The close range firepower was reasonable, especially considering the triple large squads of fire dragons and fast shooting exarchs, and this could be a threat if I got too close too early. With double MCs (the Avatar and wraithlord), the Eldar also had the upper hand in combat, so I really wanted to use my range to my advantage and move in for the relic later in the game. I was also really pleased not to face the old Runes of Warding, as the chance of killing my own warlord through that is just too high to risk casting powers (I've tried this before!).

There was one problem, however, in that the jetbikes windriders could potentially pick up the relic first turn, them move rapidly away in the shooting and assault phases if they stuck to 6" per phase. Assuming that the rest of the army then formed a cage around the relic (I need to play Blood Bowl again soon), I would have to work through a lot of infantry and the MCs before I could get to the relic. Thankfully, I thought I had enough ranged firepower to take out the jetbikes in my first turn, even if they did manage to get back in their deployment zone, meaning that they shouldn't be taking it too far. Also, if the cage was too tight my quad guns would have a field day with 8 barrage blast templates, especially as there were no Eldar transports to hide in.

Calm before the storm

Game plan
Target troops to deny Eldar claiming the relic, go for secondaries, use my superior range and mobility to focus on key targets. Pick up the relic late game if possible.

Target priority
Avatar, troops close to relic, immediate threats, troops.

Eldar deployment - note lots of tightly packed infantry

Eldar deployment
(Black undercoated units are Dire Avengers)

I am a little surprised at the deployment, which concentrated around cover overlooking the relic - begging to be barraged. MCs are also placed centrally looking to munch anything that gets too close. Fire prism should have been in cover. I'd also put the vypers on a flank to get some side shots in on the chimera, rear shots on any forward razorbacks and harass any backfield units. Most importantly, as I suspected, the jetbikes were deployed aggressively within 12" of relic for a first turn grab.

SW+IG deployment - out of mid-range and in cover
SW+IG deployment
The heavy quad launchers ('quads' for the rest of the report) and rune priest (prescience and scrier's gaze) tuck in cover in the far corner area terrain to rain down barrages on the target rich centre, also keeping the warlord safe.

Hyperios (WIP models) spread out with good views to the centre. Command squad sit in the Chimera to dish out FRSRF to the mini-blob and bring it down to themselves for the MCs. They also have the option to try Fire On My Target on the quads, but this is not reliable at only Ld7.

Plasma hunters deploy in their razors in cover looking to deny easy first blood, and will move up to engage mid-field targets.

The vendetta with PCS and the two melts hunter squads reserve, planning a fairly reliable turn two arrival thanks to scrier's gaze. Melta hunters will probably push up the far flank to threaten the fire prism and go for linebreaker.

SW+IG turn 1 - Goodbye Avatar. Quad launchers rule too
And I seize for the first time ever!!
SW+IG Turn 1
Excellent, a decent chance for first blood, and oh look, the Avatar (the warlord) hasn't got any cover! Time to line up as much plasma and missile launcher action as possible...

So I push forward a little to get in range, including immobilizing the Chimera on the rocks (was worth the risk), and unload. I rinse through the Avatar's 5 T6 3+/5++ wounds quickly with only the demon save for protection. First blood and warlord in one. Result!

I still had the quads, razors and blob to shoot, so moved onto priority two - troops close to the objective. The quads go first to make the most of the beautifully clumped up squads, and with prescience up wipe out 9/10 of a dire avengers squad and two jet bikes. The remaining shots take out the last jet bike in the squad and the entire second jet bike squad.

That was a good round of shooting! Not rolling particularly above average, but making the most of the opportunities presented, namely an exposed warlord and bunched up troops. Having re-rolls on most things also really helps even out the dice and make shooting a lot more reliable.

Strong start for the Wolves.
Eldar turn 1 - Push into range and close on the relic
Eldar Turn 1
Everything pushes forward to engage, but is mostly (deliberately on my part) out of range. Dire avenger shots with quasi rending and the large blast from the fire prism prompt two plasma hunter packs to go to ground, as do the blob (wasn't intending to move onto the relic yet). Fire dragons on the flank take a wound off a hyperios with a fast shooting exarch (unlucky not to get two and remove a model).

With the fire dragons generally out of range and the wraithlord still out of charge range, there was little damage done this turn. Personally, I would have used battle trance to move back into cover, but already things are looking bad for the pointy eared space ninjas.

SW+IG turn 2 - Working through the enemy troops
SW+IG Turn 2
Continuing down my target priority list, I will use this turn to try and gun down as many of the remaining dire avengers as possible. If I can obliterate all of the enemy troops, even with warlord and line breaker secondaries, there is no way for the Eldar to win. With my reserves are very likely to come in this turn if I can cast scrier's gaze, all of which can potentially push for line breaker. I'm now confident that I've got the game in the bag, even without the relic. I will also target units with long range anti-tank so I can keep the razors available for moving troops around if required.

So the priest manages to get the power off, and the two melta hunter squads deploy into cover to rapid fire the fire dragons on the flank. I can re-mobilise over the next couple of turns to push for line breaker. The razors also line up shots on the now out of cover dire avengers on the opposite flank.

The vendetta comes in flying, targeting either the wraithlord or fire prism. The two embarked plasma hunter squads stay inside and push a little more toward the centre with the company command squad.

Shooting from the melta hunters thins the fire dragons down significantly, and the hyperios, plasma and a razorback take out the two vypers. I decide to shoot the vendetta at the wraithlord (perhaps should have shot the fire prism, but I didn't want the MCs to make combat) with no effect.

The rest of the army whittles the dire avengers down, killing one squad with the quads (without re-rolls) and halving another squad.

Looking good so far.
Eldar turn 2 - Threatening with the wraithlord
Eldar Turn 2
The remaining Eldar infantry decide to take cover with good views to the relic, and the wounded wraithlord lines up an optimistic charge on a depleted pinned squad of plasma hunters (presumably not wanting to risk being tied up with the mini-blob in combat). The prism really should hang back, but at this stage I think the Eldar were playing for kicks rather than with any real intent of winning!

Shooting takes a few casualties of different squads, but without the range to focus fire to eliminate squads, the best the Eldar could do was hope to force leadership tests.

In the assault phase the wraithlord tries the long charge into cover and unsurprisingly fails, whereas the flanking fire dragons (two left including the exarch) manage to make it in against a squad of melta hunters (4 remaining after shooting). I had expected them to multi-charge the razorback to nuke it with a melta bomb, but they didn't. Handbags proceed to swing for the rest of the game in this combat, with my hunters failing their counter attack and consistently failing to cause any casualties until the last round of the game for no loss in return. Thankfully this didn't matter to me, as at least the dragons were no longer a threat to either linebreaker or the relic.

With two full squads of fire dragons overlooking the relic but otherwise having yet to contribute to the game, I didn't really suffer any significant damage again thanks to range and cover saves.
SW+IG turn 3 - Taking midfield behind a razorwall
SW+IG Turn 3
This turn the last dire avengers have to go, as did the wraithlord. I also need to re-mobilise the melta hunters who weren't in combat to set up linebreaker next turn in case I don't want to drop off my platoon command squad. This was also the turn to move up and secure the ground around the relic so I could pick it up with any one of the 5 troop squads I had poised ready to pounce...

So I move up with all this in mind, blocking off the relic with a trio of razorbacks and disembarking the last two plasma hunters. I surround the wraithlord and prepare to rapid fire, whist the flanking melta hunters pile in their razorback and zoom across the board.

Heavy bolters wipe out the squad of 5 dire avengers in cover, except the flanking razorback which went flat out into the Eldar deployment zone. Mass rapid fire bought down the wraithlord with some FRSRF, and the left over fire halve one of the fire dragon squads as a bonus! Missiles and a now hovering vendetta fail to damage the fire prism.

The fire dragon vs melta hunter combat goes on...

Another good (but still average dice overall) round of shooting and some decisive movement. There is very little the Eldar can do at this point with so many opposing troop units ready to pick up the relic next turn.

(Tactical note) I've been trying to get better at setting up multiple targets for each unit. I'm generally quite pessimistic about what is needed to wipe a squad out, so well generally set up more than average fire power to try to ensure the job gets done. However, this can lead to wasted shots, so I try to do what I think is known in chess as ' forking' - setting up two or more targets.

Eldar turn 3 - Fire dragons finally get to blow stuff up!

Eldar Turn 3
With little left on the board, the Eldar prepare to sell their lives as dearly as possible. The half strength squad in the centre move around the razorback to get clear shots on the plasma hunters by the relic, whilst the full strength squad get into melta range of the middle razorback (I would have set up a multi charge on the two razorbacks, personally). The fire prism moves away from the melta hunters approaching its rear armour, but for some reason goes forward rather than sideways.

Doing the most damage the entire Eldar army had all game, the full strength fire dragons annihilates the central razorback (oh no, I've lost a 40pt tank, ahhh... /sarcasm), exploding it and luckily killing two hunters next to it (I forgot to remove it and mark it with a crater - oops!). The half strength squad slag three more and for a giggle the fire prism shoots a S9 lance at the hovering vendetta, penning and shaking it! I really don't know why it didn't shoot a large blast at the hunters or infantry squad, but hey, I didn't mind!

Everything passes it's leadership test, and the next turn would seal the game for me.

SW+IG turn 4 - Taking the relic any tying up loose ends

SW+IG Turn 4
Time to finish the Eldar off and grab the relic!

The flanking melta hunters bail out of their razorback into the Eldar deployment zone and line up shots on the full squad of fire dragons, staying in cover from the fire prism as much as possible.

The hunter squads close to the relic line up for short charges on the depleted fire dragons that ran around to the back of the razorback last turn, except for the furthest who decide to try a mid-ranged assault on the fire prism who's stayed too close. I decide that the mini-blob have the most resilience to hold on to the relic, if there's anybody left to shoot them!

Shooting obliterates the large squad of fire dragons and the last dire avenger (we'd both forgotten he was there since the first turn), whittles the small fire dragons down to just the exarch, but doesn't touch the prism (again!).

All the charges go in, but the fast shooting exarch gets a lucky two sixes on overwatch and kills two hunters on the way in! The hunters fighting the prism manage to take two hull points off and shake it, ensuring a further round off combat in the Eldar turn. In a stunning display of martial prowess, the exarch kills a grey hunter and then avoids I think 21 attacks back! I have visions of the Matrix. Terrified by the apparently invulnerable exarch, the larger of the two grey hunter squads decide to leg it!

At the end of the turn I couldn't believe that the exarch was still standing. Thankfully he was still contained and unlikely to be able to contest the relic...

Eldar turn 4 - Fire dragon vs melta hunter pillow fight finally ends!

Eldar Turn 4
With no movement or shooting, it was straight to combat. The prism was wreaked by krak grenades, the melta hunters finally ended the pillow fight with the flanking fire dragons, and the invincible exarch drew combat in the centre, leaving him as the only Eldar model left on the board!

We called it there, giving the Space Wolves & Imperial Guard the win with the relic, first blood, slay the warlord and linebreaker, and with only a single unit destroyed! 6-0 victory!
Mini-blob hold The Relic (Yes, I've since finished making the models!)
Well that went rather well, didn't it? I'm going to break down my comments into sections, ending with a look at my list.

It just goes to show how important it is to deploy considering the risk that you may be seized. If you have some way of controlling the roll, say with Coteaz, then it's possible to be more aggressive, but here I don't think that there really was any need to take the risk. Had the Avatar been set up behind the hill and/or out of plasma range, it would have been much harder to take the warlord secondary so early. That I could also take first blood with the same unit made it a massive uphill struggle for the Eldar even before they got to move. 

In The Relic and Emperor's Will missions, secondary objectives are so important that I really have to question whether I'd ever want to take an aggressive warlord, as the points vs benefit generally seem too high for me. As I try to design my lists to take-on-all-comers at 6 game tournaments, I would expect 1/3 of the games to be significantly effected by whether my warlord died. I personally prefer to avoid a combat warlord, as they have to get stuck in to contribute to the game and that's generally where it's easiest for most armies to pick them off. I've tried running a thunderwolf lord with a unit of thunderwolves, and although great fun, I just felt that it was a lot of points for a unit that had a limited impact on the game for their points. The Avatar seems even more restricted, as although he has some metla shots at close range, his limited mobility means that it may be better to run him forward rather than shoot most of the time, and even then he's not that fast and can be avoided with deployment and mobile units.

With first blood and warlord in the bag first turn, the rest of the game was really an exercise for me in not messing up. I'm happy with my overall threat assessment, game plan and target prioritisation, but I do think that even with a bad first turn the Eldar could have done more to try to pull it back.

Firstly, I'm not sure that Battle Trance was used to it's fullest effect in this game, and there were some obviously just-for-fun decisions being made. A big one for me here was the use of the fire prism, which I think is potentially a really good unit and could have caused me some serious problems. For example, even with most of the Eldar units destroyed, the area in the centre had no cover so if the fire dragons had exploded my razorwall (not unreasonable with that many melta guns), the AP3 large blast really could have done some damage and potentially kept me off the relic.

I would have sent the vypers around to harass my backfield, rather than just scooting up towards the centre. This would have threatened my warlord, and possibly forced me to divert fire power away from the centre. Also, although the windriders could potentially take the relic first turn, there was a good chance that I could still shoot them down in my turn. Looking back at the game now, I think that they could have been a lot more effective if they'd been kept safe for end game linebreaker or even just sent with the vypers to hit my back lines. 

Eldar List
My friend acknowledged at the start of the game that this wasn't what he'd consider to be a hardcore list. I stand by my initial assessment that the list had limited range, mobility and anti-air, and for me these are three of the most fundamental requirements for a good list. However, even some of the worst lists can carry some significant threats against your army, and what the Eldar lacked in range they made up for in close range fire power. In a relic game, this might have been used to greater advantage, knowing where most of the fighting was likely to be but not bunching up so much to get hammered by the quads.
I don't know if fire dragons are the auto-include they used to be. The units were too large and could have really benefited from a transport for each unit to get them into the game earlier, as I managed to avoid nearly all their shooting until I was ready to close in on the relic. Generally though I'm afraid it's back to the drawing board for my buddy in search of a more competitive list (he's threatening me with wraithwing Necrons next! Or maybe it will be double helldrakes again...).

SW+IG list
I'm finding that my list is working well and has a good range of tools. The heavy quad launchers continue to impress me, and showed in this game how they can pummel tightly packed formations, even when the targets get a 4+ armour save (dire avengers) or better (windriders). This game they wouldn't have benefitted from orders, and the company command squad pushed forward to plasma the Avatar early, so would have been out of range anyway. Against targets relying on cover saves, Fire On My Target! (re-roll successful cover saves) is going to be a nice little bonus.

I always like having a number of mobile troop units to react to whatever they need to, and so far the weapon load outs are working well, even if I do take the occasional casualty from plasma! Bring It Down! helps a little with this though. I still think that for 40pts, heavy bolter razorbacks are highly underrated given the mobility they offer to MSU troops. Also, in combination with the anti-infantry fire power of the quads, my opponents have the choice of clumping up in cover to get a save against the heavy bolters, or spread out to avoid massed casualties from the barrage blasts. 

Even with no enemy fliers to target, the hyperios missile launchers were still incredibly useful in providing missile support at range where and when it was needed. At similar points cost on a unit-for-unit basis, I can't see any reason why I would take Long Fangs when I can take these with skyfire, interceptor and T6. Otherwise, I would also still like the list to be better at dealing with AV13-14, so maybe in time I will swap these out for lascannon sabre platforms (which would go in the 1850pts version of the list anyway).

Well for those who made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope that this report has given you an idea of my (rather involved) thought process throughout the game and how these considerations inform my list building. I'd be really interested to hear if you would have done anything different, or have any tactics to share!

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