Friday, August 28, 2009

Learning with the Eldar

I've now had six games with my Eldar ranging from 500 to 750 points, and I have had four draws, one loss, and a win. My first game, was against 500 points of Orks. I had two squads of Storm Guardians with flamers, each in a Wave Serpent, and an Autarch as my HQ. One Wave Serpent was armed with a twin linked Bright Lance and the other with a twin linked Shuriken Cannon. This game was a true learning experience, mainly in a negative aspect as I learned what not to do.

My opponent fielded an Ork army with two 21 man mobz of boyz and a Warboss. My plan was to whittle down one mob to half strength using the Wave Serpents and then assault it with both squads of Storm Guardians. Unfortunately, that never happened, as I just wasn't able to do enough damage to a mob to bring them down to the level where I could think about disembarking from the Wave Serpents and assaulting them. As a result, I ended up just playing keep away for the entire game, which wasn't really that exciting for either of us.

I did get the opportunity to see how hard it is to assault moving vehicles, as my opponent attempted it against one of my Wave Serpents and I was able to just move on past after his unsuccessful attempt. This happened late in the game, and it taught me that I probably don't have to work quite so hard at playing keep away.

About that time I also figured out that what I should have been doing was trying to take out his warboss, as we were playing annihilation and he hadn't grouped his warboss. I might have been able to take it out and won if I hadn't been so focused on the mob of boyz.

The next week I got two games in, the first at 750 points. This let me add Warlocks to my Storm Guardian squads, have bright lances on both Wave Serpents, trade my Autarch for a Farseer, and add a Fire Prism. I was up against Space Marines this time. A Dreadnaught in a Drop Pod, a full Tactical Squad, and a half Tactical Squad in a Razorback with a Librarian. This list had a lot of melta weapons, and the Librarian had been tooled out to try to neutralize my Farseer (he changed his list when he heard he was playing Eldar).

This game was interesting, and was a learning experience, but was made slightly less fun by the fact that I had to be constantly watching my opponent. If I didn't then strange things would happen, like meltaguns transforming into multi-meltas.

I had decided to be more aggressive in this game, and while the end result was still a tie, I was more satisfied with my results. If I'd remembered to take +1 attack for assaulting, then I might have even won. My first experience using a Fire Prism has convinced me of its usefulness, and that I need to include multiples of them in my larger list. It proved key to whittling down my opponent's squads, and almost won the game for me by eliminating all but one last model from the Tactical Squad sitting on one of the objectives.

My Storm Guardians also proved their worth as I was able to bring the triple template attacks of the Warlock and two flamers into play. The result was impressive, and would have been even more so if I'd realized that they generated automatic hits. I was rolling to hit models under the template, which was not correct.

My Farseer would have been more useful if I'd remembered to use him more, but as it was his Doom ability helped a bit, and my opponent never got the chance to use the Librarian's Psychic Hood to nullify it.

In the end, I made some mistakes with the rules that hurt me, but I felt my tactics were fairly sound, and we ended the game each controlling one objective.

My third game was back to 500 points, and my opponent was again Space Marines, but run by a different player. I went back to my original list I played last week, and he brought two Tactical Squads and a Master of the Forge, which I felt was an interesting choice as an HQ. One Tactical squad had a Plasma Cannon and a Plasma Rifle, the other had a Flamer and was joined by the HQ.

My opponent made what I felt was a tactical error by not starting his Plasma squad on his objective. If he had, it would have made things more difficult for me. Instead, he started both squads away from his objective, and moved his close combat squad towards his while ignoring mine. I encouraged this by feinting towards his objective with both my Wave Serpents, only to reverse course with one of them in the fourth turn in order to rush back and garrison my objective.

Before doing this, I had spent the first three turns the same way I did in my first game, sniping at one of his squads. The difference was that my plan wasn't relying on me doing damage in the shooting phase. Anything I did manage to do was simply a bonus. I was really just maneuvering to keep him away from my objective while contesting his.

On the fourth turn I got more aggressive as I put my endgame into play. In addition to my already mentioned move towards my own objective, I unloaded my other squad hear his objective and then tank shocked his tactical squad that was approaching it from the other direction.

While they easily passed the morale check, they were moved a bit away from the objective, and my opponent became temporarily focused on my Wave Serpent instead of continuing to move on the objective. He still beat me to the objective, but only after I'd positioned my Storm Guardian squad to assault him on my next turn.

The pre-assault shooting was quite effective, the assault itself not so much. I barely lost the combat, but rolled terribly on my moral check and fled. If the game had ended, then I would have tied, but instead it went one more turn, and I realized that if I could guess the correct distance from my Wave Serpent to the objective, that I could Tank Shock him off of it. I guessed correctly, and then followed it up by shooting with my Storm Guardians that had recovered from their panic, and finished off the last of his Tactical Squad. The result was I controlled one objective, and he controlled none. Victory!

My next game didn't go so well. It was at 750 points and I was facing daemons. I decided to take a chance and hold my entire force in reserve, but poor reserve rolls led to my force coming on one unit at a time and getting defeated in detail. In retrospect, I would have done better if I'd just deployed normally, but given that it was a kill point mission I probably would have still lost.

The next game I again faced Space Marines, and again made a draw. My opponent made a couple mistakes in his list creation (he thought he took assault marines, but had selected devastators in Army Builder, and he decided to stick with what was on his sheet instead of changing it mid-game, which I was OK with), but I was unable to capitalize on them to force a win. If I'd been a bit more aggressive in moving my vehicles into difficult terrain, or if the game had gone on another turn, then I probably could have done it, but as it turned out it was another draw.

My most recent game was against Chaos again, this time Chaos Marines. Chaos just seems to be the bane of this list so far. I managed to pull out a draw, but I only had around four models left on the table, and I'm not sure what I could have done differently to have improved my situation. I actually got a bit lucky on some of my rolls. so I can't even blame the dice.

The one thing I did pull out of that game is that I probably need to learn to accept a turn five draw if it leaves me in a position to win on turn six. Odds are that most games will go to turn six, so risking it all to win on turn five isn't the smartest strategy if you know it's going to result in you getting your butt kicked if the game goes to turn six. I basically sacrificed a Wave Serpent and a squad of Storm Guardians in an attempt to win on turn five. If the game had ended on turn five I would have won, but it didn't, and as a result I had put myself into a position where I couldn't win on turns six or seven.

I do feel that I'm learning how to use the units I've fielded so far, and am looking forward now to getting some Fire Warriors on the table.

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