Thursday, January 2, 2014

Battle Report: Dark Eldar vs. Tau 1750 w/ Pictures

Howdy, folks! Today I've got a fun one: I've been waiting anxiously for the birth of my son (as of this writing he's already 3 days late!) and as such have been either at work or at home. As the group of guys I normally play against live in Wyoming (I know, random, right?), I haven't gotten many games in, even though it's break. My friend Don agreed to drive down to play a game against me and my potential Dark Eldar list. This is exciting, due to the fact that he is pretty much the only Tau player I know in the area (I know, also random, right?). He's only been in the hobby a little less than a year, but he's gotten better and better, to the point that he's been beating up on my other pals in Wyoming consistently. As we're both going to the Las Vegas Open (LVO) and he had only played against Dark Eldar a couple times, he wanted a competitive player's take on Dark Eldar. I was happy to oblige :)

(wow, that sounded cocky)

Tau List: 1750 (This is from memory, I'm sure I forgot at least a few pieces of wargear. If Don sees this and wants to correct me, I can make changes. It is fairly accurate, though)

Farsight Enclaves (primary):

Commander w/ Hit&Run, 4++ Shield, Fusion gun (which can apparently also be used in combat? Who knew!)

Riptide w/ Earth Caste Pilot, Ion Gun, SMS, (Early Warning Override?)
Riptide w/ Ion Gun, SMS, (Early Warning Override?

3x Crisis Suits w/ 6x Missile Pods, 3x Multi-Tracker
3x Crisis Suits w/ 6x Plasma Guns, 3x Multi-Tracker
3x Crisis Suits w/ 6x Plasma Guns, 3x Multi-Tracker
6x Fire Warriors

Tetra (Forgeworld model w/ 2x TL Markerlights, TL Pulse Rifle for like 35 points- awesome!)


Tau Empire (allies):

Commander w/ everything awesome (Irridium, PenChip, MSS, C&C Node, Hit & Run, Flamer?

10x Kroots w/ 1x Hound


My List:

1750 Dark Eldar w/ Eldar Allies:

Dark Eldar (Primary):

Baron Sathonyx

5x Warriors w/ Blaster // Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons
5x Warriors w/ Blaster // Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons
5x Warriors

Beast Pack w/ 5x Beast Masters, 7x Khymerae, 6x Razorwing Flocks

Ravager w/ Flickerfield
Ravager w/ Flickerfield
Ravager w/ Flickerfield

Eldar (Allies):

Farseer w/ Jetbike, Singing Spear, Shard of Anaris (Powers: Guide, Doom, Prescience)

5x Dire Avengers // Wave Serpent w/ TL Scatter Laser, Holo-Fields
5x Dire Avengers // Wave Serpent w/ TL Scatter Laser, Holo-Fields


The Mission:

Big Guns Never Tire and The Relic, worth 4 VPs and 3 VPs respectively (LVO mission)


Vanguard Strike

Night Fight: (didn't matter?)


We rolled off to go first, and I won. Normally, I would absolutely take 1st turn against his army. However, I needed to see how my army would do in a worst-case scenario against a gunline army.

As such, I took second turn.


We used a lot of proxies this game. This hobby is too expensive for me to buy models unless I'm sure I want to use them. The BeastStar is probably the worst of mine (Hellions and Jetbikes are actually Khymerae and Razorwings, respectively), while Don used a few Terminators as Crisis Suits, and the most obvious proxy is a couple terminators pretending to be Tetras.

Also be prepared to see mistakes being made - we both made quite a few. Apologies in advance!

Pre-game thoughts:

Well - I kind of dug myself into a hole by taking first second turn, but given those parameters, how could I win this contest?

First, I needed to stay out of range of his initial volley, while protecting my Beasts. I predicted Don's shooting phases would go as such: Turn 1: Kill vehicles/Wraithknight. Turn 2: Shoot everything into BeastStar Turn 3: If BeastStar is still around, shoot it first, then shoot my vehicles. Turn 4: Who knows, it's too hard to predict the game after Turn 3!

Thing is, I knew that if the Beasts got into his lines at full strength, they'd table the Tau. Don has a list very capable of killing the Beasts off, but it would take a lot of shooting to accomplish that feat! In addition, keeping a few Razorwings near the front lines would really be able to soak up some SMS firepower - 5 wound models are awesome vs. S5!

I also knew that his Skyrays would be able to choose either a Ravager each or at the very least make my Wraithknight sad. Not much to do about that - time to clinch my ass and see if I could withstand his formidable T1 Firepower.


I never attempt to seize the initiative during practice games, as it's generally more informative to play games as "they normally would go" - in this instance, I followed this course of action, though I rolled to see if I would have seized.

I would have, and very likely would have won the game outright, as his units were all exposed and in range of mine. Be grateful then, because the game would have been boring to read, and you likely would not have a good report to read :)


Remember that the Hellions are actually Beasts. Next report I'll actually have some real Beasts instead of proxies! Note how I spread my vehicles out so that his blast templates from the Riptides would not affect more than one model. We also used the two center-ish ruins as (really awkward, not-doing-that-again) LOS blocking terrain to emulate the LVO. Our play reflected that. Oh, the big flyer base is my Wraithknight. Lol.

See the Piranhas and a couple random terminators, who are actually 4 Tetras. He kept his Fire Warriors in reserve and outflanked his Kroot. I left my 5 naked warriors in reserve.

Tau Turn 1:

Don decided (wisely) to focus on my Wraithknight. He markered it, shot Smart Missiles at it, and then finished it off with Monster-hunting Missile Pods. First Blood for Don! He also killed a Venom, tore a Dark Lance off a Ravager, and glanced another Venom.

It must be noted that I deployed one venom poorly - I didn't notice his Crisis Suits in his center ruins, and he barely had range to jump them up and shoot my Venom. He failed two dangerous terrain checks on two separate suits between all his jumping. Pretty neat :)

Bizarro kill of the game was also this turn: when he exploded my Venom, he also hit 5 Beasts. He wounded all 5, and I failed all 5 6+ saves, killing off one poor, hapless Razorwing, though the crew somehow remained unscathed and unpinned. HA. Silly dice!

Dark Eldar Turn 1:

I rushed my BeastStar up 12" then fleeted them up another 4 or 5. Farseer failed both Prescience and Doom on an 11 each, though he Guided a Ravager. All my vehicles jumped into range of his units.

My goal this turn was to kill as many suits as possible, and potentially kill a Skyray. Reducing Don's firepower was key to my Beasts living to assault on Turn 2.

I managed to kill an entire unit of Plasma Suits in his middle ruin, and was also able to snipe out two of the Missile Pod suits through Line-of-sight shenanigans. I managed to Stun one of his Skyrays. I also managed to kill one of his Tetras. I probably should have put more shots into Tetras this turn than the Skyray. /shrug

Not as awesome a turn as I was hoping for, but killing 5 of his suits was definitely nice! Now time to clinch the cheeks for another round. Dark Eldar players have always necessarily developed powerful clinching muscles, as a good opponent's turn can really just end the game.
Tau Turn 2:

Fire Warriors came in, and decided to go for my wounded Venom which was just barely within rapid-fire range. Doh!

Don understood that the Beasts needed to die, and as such used his Nova charge (both successful) to get Ripple Fire on his Riptides, giving both of them 8 TL S5 shots which ignore cover! He put a ton of markerlights on the beasts (the stunned Skyray predictably hit with *both* snap-shot Markerlights and 3 SMS shots, HAHA) and closed in for the kill.

Don had a less successful shooting phase than either of us expected - I made about eight 4++ saves in a row at one point, which allowed the majority of my Razorwings to live. His Fire Warriors managed to down my final Venom, the explosion killing 3 Warriors, who passed their leadership and pinning checks.

He also picked a Ravager at random with a Skyray, who still randomly had 1 missile left. Hit, Pen, failed Invuln save, and wrecked. Doh!

Don then decided to charge my Beasts with his Warlord + 3 Plasma Suits, as I would only have my Farseer and maybe a single Razorwing capable of swinging back. I challenged with a Beast Master (looking back, I'm not 100% sure the Masters are characters - need to check on that!) and he accepted with his awesome Fusion character. My Farseer whiffed, and his Crisis suits managed to put four wounds on a Razorwing Flock, as well as one wound on my Farseer. He won combat, I was fearless, and Don decided to hit and run (we had to roll off to see who would roll for it first), and succeeded, jumping behind the building.

Weird turn - the BeastStar was nearly destroyed, but still had enough models to do some work before they went down. I believe only one or two of my Khymeraes (guys with 4++) survived.

Here you can see my poor Ravager, and the stranded Warriors up on the center right. Beasts are in the middle.

A better shot of the relevant action. We can see one Khymerae (I had one actual model with me, lol) and three Razorwings (bikes) with the Farseer also on a bike, and the Baron. His Suits are all cowering behind the ruins :)

Dark Eldar Turn 2:

Ah, I survived his Turn 2! The Beasts would now be capable of biting off a chunk of Don's army. I knew his Skyrays scored, as did his Crisis Suits. Don had killed just *barely* enough models to make it impossible to multi-assault his Suits + Riptide+ Skyray, so I settled on Suits + Skyray.

The damn Tetras had been making a nuisance of themselves, killing beasts with pulse rifles, as well as markerlighting everything. I needed to kill off his Markerlights, and finish off his annoying Fire Warriors, who would otherwise harrass me all game.

This turn would be vital - I could break the back of the Tau army, leaving Don with a vehicle and two Riptides if all went well.

Farseer passed Prescience, but failed Doom again, on an 11!

Shooting finished off 4 Fire Warriors, who passed leadership and their pinning check (from Serpent Shield). I managed to kill two of his Tetras, and put another Hull Point on his stunned Skyray, but failed to wreck it. I also (because I'm obviously a terrible player) decided to shoot a Riptide with my Ravagers, putting two or three wounds on his far-left Riptide. Why not finish off the Skyray? Nobody knows.

Beasts charged in, and in a miraculous feat of failed rolling, Don missed around 25 total dice rolls of overwatch. I chose to challenge with the Baron, and Don decided to accept with his T5 buff commander, who incidentally had an Onager Gauntlet. He passed all 5 saves on wounds the Baron delivered, and whiffed with the Gauntlet. Razorwings + Shard of Anaris fared better - they killed two Plasma Suits and his Warlord (Insta-death FTW!), winning me combat by a large margin. Both squads fled, and with I6 vs. his lowly Tau initiative, I was fairly certain I'd catch both. However, only the Plasma Suits were caught, his Commander + Missile Pod Suit rolling a 6 and me rolling a 2. This would be HUGE, as you'll see.

At this point, I realized that I had *really* messed up - I had meant to charge the Baron into the hurt Skyray, and had totally spaced it! Damn thing would be ready to work next turn. Huge, huge fail there, one that could potentially lose me the game.

Don has 1 Tetra, 2 Skyrays, 2 Riptides, and his Buff Commander + 1 missile pod suit. He also has some outflanking Kroots and 2 Fire Warriors on the top right corner. Meanwhile, my beasts are severely depleted, and are not being used well. For example, I forgot this entire game that the Baron gives his squad Stealth. Bah! At this point, the game could go either way.

Tau Turn 3:

Don knew that he had gotten lucky to escape with his Suits and Skyray still intact, and also knew that he could kill my Beasts easily enough this turn. He was a little *too* confident in that, in fact.

He sent his closest Riptide over and got Ripple Fire again. The Suits regrouped, but were forced to just sit there. The rest of the army focused on my two remaining Ravagers. With his remaining 6 Markerlights, 4 snap-firing missile shots, and 3 S7 Riptide shots through ruins, Don killed both Ravagers easily. Should have killed those damn Tetras and Skyrays earlier, lol!

His other shots into the Beasts managed to kill the Baron (Warlord) and all but the Farseer and one Razorwing flock. The Riptide, ready to get rid of my Beasts once and for all, charged his Riptide into them. The Farseer hit twice (Prescience FTW) and wounded twice (fleshbane FTW), and the Riptide failed a save and died (Insta-death FTW).

I'm not 100% that I liked his move, though it's not as bad as it looks. If the Riptide had stayed away, it would have lived, but the Razorwing and Farseer would have lived to go do some dirty things to his tanks in the process, or even just charged the Riptide.

You can see a distinct lack of Riptide on the left side, with just a hint of blue behind that building. BeastStar lives!!

Dark Eldar Turn 3:

I knew I needed to make the most of this turn - no Skyrays could be allowed to live, and I needed to finish off his damn Tetras and Fire Warriors!

My 5-man Warrior squad came in, and I thoughtlessly moved them up to my right corner objective, outside of terrain.

I casted Doom on the injured Skyray, and (as the Farseer only had 1W remaining) did not cast Prescience or Guide.

The Farseer + Razorwing flew to the unscathed Skyray, which was ouside his Overwatch bubble.

Wave Serpents shot at and destroyed his injured (and Doomed) Skyray, and also downed his final Tetra. Incidental fire failed to kill his remaining Fire Warriors.

In assault, the Jetseer + Razorwing killed his final Skyray. No more markerlights, whew!

I had Don on the ropes, though he still had some tricks up his sleeve, as you'll see.

Tau Turn 4:

Don used his Nova charge on the remaining Riptide (Earthcaste) and took the 4D6" jump. His Kroot came in, outflanked to my right corner, and drew a bead on my exposed Warriors.

His shooting evaporated the Warrior squad, and his Riptide managed to kill some straggling Dire Avengers. At this point, I held two objectives, and had three (albiet small and vulnerable) scoring units, while Don had only his 1 Suit (on an objective), some extremely exposed Kroots, and 1 out-of-place Fire Warriors.

However, he did have first blood, and could potentially get Linebreaker. I needed to either get the Relic or keep the 2-1 Objective advantage (his suit would hold his corner objective no matter what at this point, as I didn't have the firepower to get through a 4W T5 2+ save Commander before even touching the scoring Suit itself.

I hate how even if you kill an assload of Tau, they can still be a PITA.

Dark Eldar Turn 4:

It was time to start paying attention to objectives and such. I wanted to keep the center-most Wave Serpent near the middle, to claim either the Relic or an objective. I also wanted to shoot his Kroots, and either pin them or make them run. Riptide at this point would also be impossible to shift.

My shooting killed all but one Kroot, who managed to pass 2 pinning checks and a leadership check on Ld. 7. Yikes!

Tau Turn 5:

Don did what he could with his 5 models - shot and.. that was about it. The Riptide failed to hurt my Wave Serpent, though his Missile Pod suit with the Commander buffing him was somehow able to take off all 3 HP on it. Dire Avengers passed Pinning.

Riptide jumped over to discourage me from picking up the Relic with the Avengers. His Kroot failed to hurt my two remaining Warriors on the bottom right objective.

Last picture!

Dark Eldar Turn 5:

Dire Avengers ran up into the Center to force the Riptide to deal with them on Turn 6 or risk losing to the Relic.

Other shooting killed his Kroot, though it took my Wave Serpent to finally do it. Damn stubborn model!

At this point, if the game ended, I would win on objectives, 8-7 (2 objectives + 2 Heavies killed vs. 1 objective and 4 Heavies killed), netting me a 5-2 win (Primary is worth 4, and Warlord vs. First Blood and Warlord).

If the game continued, Don could possibly shoot me off of one objective and contest another, though it would be difficult to do so with his Riptide. My Dire Avengers would be able to pick up the Relic, and the game would again come down to the wire.

We rolled to see if the game continued and... it ended!!

Results: Extremely hard-fought victory for the Dark Eldar!!

Post-game thoughts:

Whew, that was a stupidly close game! I made enough mistakes that even when I crippled Don, he was able to stay in it. In the end, we nearly tabled each other, and it really came down to a few dice rolls. Dark Eldar vehicles die extremely easily against Tau, and it was fairly demoralizing to lose 2-3 tanks along with a ton of infantry every turn.

On the other hand, the Beasts were great, and had they gotten 'average' results, I would have won the game much easier (the units they failed to kill netted Don an objective as well as two HUGE tank kills down the stretch). I wished I could use the Wraithknight a little more, though he did his 'job' and soaked up a lot of initial firepower. In the future, perhaps I should reserve the damn thing.

What was most depressing about this game was the amount of awesome achieved by the Eldar component of my forces, while the Dark Eldar kind of sagged under pressure. It ended up being the Dire Avengers and Serpents, not to mention the Farseer who saved my bacon time and time again.

However, some heartening things we should not forget:
  • I had the choice to go first, but took second. Not at all idea vs. a strong Tau list.
  • I made some massive mistakes, and had some bad rolls which affected the game in extreme ways. If I made fewer mistakes, the game wouldn't have been as close.
  • Beasts are awesome - even with a smaller squad than is ideal, the Beasts forced Don to shoot at them or get taken apart. I also forgot a lot of their rules, such as Pain Tokens (would have had at least 1, which would have helped the Baron to survive better with his FNP) and stealth. Just imagine if they had Fortune...
I will continue with my experiements with Dark Eldar, though I fear I may foray into using Eldar as my primary. Here's a list I will be trying out tonight:

1750 List

Eldar Primary:

Farseer w/ Jetbike, Shard of Anaris
Farseer w/ Jetbike, Spirit Stones of Anthalamadingdong, Spear

20x Guardians w/ 2x Bright Lances // Wave Serpent w/ Scatter Laser
20x Guardians w/ 2x Bright Lances // Wave Serpent w/ Scatter Laser
3x Jetbikes
3x Jetbikes


Dark Eldar Allies:

Baron Sathonyx

5x Warriors (naked, probably in reserves)

Beast Squad w/ 5x Beast Masters, 6x Razorwing Flocks, 10x Khymeraes

  • It's not as overtly powerful as the other Dark Eldar list, but the Shuriken Catapults + Prescience/Guide will kill any model they shoot at. They also give me a more limited version of my Ravagers, as they'll get Guide.
  • I'll miss the Ravagers and Venoms, but they're just so easy to kill!
  • Farseers try to get Fortune, and then try for Forewarning or in some cases just try to get Telepathy/Guide/Prescience. Beasts will be a little ridiculous to try to kill - 4++ re-rollable isn't as good as a 2++ re-rollable, but it's still damn hard to shift, and has a nasty punch.
  • 4 of the scoring units are actually good, as opposed to two from my last list.
  • Beasts (if they aren't depleted, which is obviously unlikely) will do like 84 attacks on the charge, excluding the Baron and Farseers.
  • Guardian leadership is 8 - probably start the game with at least one Farseer with a squad of Guardians to keep opponent from targeting them off the bat.
  • Guardians may shoot less Lance shots than a Ravager, but they're undeniably more resilient to enemy firepower, and may end up getting more shots throughout the course of a close game.
So there it is, my batrep and my thoughts on a new list. What are your thoughts? Questions? Gentle reprimands?

Hopefully I'll get a game in tonight, and take some pictures. New guy in town - Cody Jiru has moved here and will give me a really great/competitive opponent to 'sharpen' myself against! I'm pumped!

1 comment:

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