On Monday, I promised a battle report between my new hybrid list and the Dark Eldar. Saturday, I got a chance to square off against the new kids on the block, as my friend Dennis had just finished assembling the last bits of his new army. On the other side of the table, I faced down:
- Duke Sliscus and 9 Kabalite Warriors in a Raider (Flickerfield, Night Shields, Splinter Racks)
- Lelith Hesperax, 8 Wyches (Hydra Gauntlet, Haywire Grenades), and a Hekatrix (Agoniser) in a Raider (Flickerfield)
- 9 Wyches (Hydra Gauntlet, Razorflail, Haywire Grenades) and a Hekatrix (Agoniser) in a Raider (Flickerfield)
- 10 Hellions
- 6 Reavers (Heat Lance x2)
- 1 Cronos Parasite Engine (Spirit Vortex)
- 1 Ravager (Flickerfield, Night Shields)
We rolled up mission and deployment and got Capture and Control/Spearhead. This ended up being a theme for the night; three separate games were played between four different players, and every single one came up as Capture and Control/Spearhead. We rolled for initative, and Dennis won, choosing to go first. We took our table quarters, placed our objectives (his behind a hill in his corner, mine on top of a hill in mine), and proceeded to deploy our armies. Dennis kept his Wyches in reserve, putting the rest of his force up as close to the center of the table as possible. I kept my army mostly in the middle of my zone, except for the Piranhas (near the edge, behind a hill), the Fire Warriors (in reserve), and the Kroot (infiltrated forward as close as possible).
At this point, I planned to insert a picture - I took photos of every round - but I have discovered that the iPhone 3GS, as wonderful a device as it is, takes absolutely terrible pictures for batreps. Seriously, every shot turned out in speckle-vision. For example, here's a picture of my deployment after cleaning it up in Paint.NET.
Complaints about cellphone photography aside, here's how the game went down. I tried and failed to seize the initiative, so the Dark Eldar went first. Dennis rolls twice for combat drugs, choosing the +1 attack drug.
Dark Eldar Turn 1: Dennis started with an aggressive push. The Reavers turbo-boosted over the Kroot to get right next to my Hammerhead, catching a few with their vanes. They landed next to my Hammerhead, hoping to get heat lance shots on turn 2. The Hellions and Cronos open fire on the right-hand Kroot, reducing them down to one Kroot and a Hound. The Duke's Warriors fire from their Raider, leaving the other unit with only 3 Hounds remaining. Surprisingly, both squads hold. The Ravager moves down the field to come down my left flank.
Tau Turn 1: I react to the oncoming assault. The Hammerhead pulls forward, leaving the Reavers out in the open, and the Piranhas move up towards the Ravager. The Fireknife teams array themselves so that they can attack either the Reavers or Hellions as needed. When shooting begins, the rear Fireknife team makes sort work of the Ravagers, and a combination of Hammerhead submunitions and the front Fireknife team whittle the Hellions down below 50%, causing them to break and run towards the table edge. The Deathrain team wrecks the Duke's Raider, spilling his team out the side of the craft. What's left of the Kroot went to ground on the DE's turn, so they are stuck in place.
Dark Eldar Turn 2: The Hellions flee off the board, and the non-Lelith Wyches come into play. Dennis decides to gamble and deep strike them right next to my objective, landing the raider on the hill. The grounded Warriors move forward, while the Duke breaks away to fire at a different target. During the shooting Phase, the Cronos kills one of the members of my Right Kroot squad, earning its first pain token, but has nothing to share them with nearby. The Wyches open fire with pistols and their Raider's dark lance, and kill one of my two Broadsides. The Duke fires at a Piranha, missing, but the Ravager picks up the slack and destroys it with a Dark Lance. Finally, the Warriors fire through the Hounds at my Deathrain suits, but fail to land any wounds.
Tau Turn 2: My Devilfish comes in from reserve, and starts at the far end of my long table edge. At this point, Dennis realizes that he'd forgotten about table edges in Spearhead, thinking I was locked only into my quarter of the table. It's still a risky move - there's a Ravager right there - but it's my only shot at getting troops to his unclaimed objective. The Hounds, no longer ducking, pull into coherency, and the Deathrains move forward into position with them as well. The Fireknives reposition themselves to deal with the threat in my backfield, and the Piranha moves up to face off with the Ravager. During the shooting phase, Dennis's vehicle options show their value; the night shields on the Ravager keep it safe from my fusion blaster, and the flickerfield on the Wyches' Raider keeps it alive through most of the fire I throw at it, but eventually it fails a 5+ save and is wrecked. The Wyches disembark behind the hill, with their eyes set on the lone Broadside next to them. Meanwhile, the flamers on the Deathrain unit burn the Warriors to cinders, leaving no survivors.
Dark Eldar Turn 3: Lelith's Raider comes into play, and Dennis deep strikes it near my front lines, within 6" of the Cronos. The Ravager pulls alongside my Devilfish, hoping to catch a shot on rear armor after it moves forward. The Duke moves up behind the Piranha, hoping to take it out with his blast pistol. Lelith's crew opens fire on the 3-Hound unit of Kroot, killing two; again, the unit holds. Meanwhile, the Cronos kills the last survivor of the right-hand Kroot unit, earning a pain token, quickly passed to the nearby Wyches. Then, the shooting phase goes south for the Dark Eldar. The Ravager is unable to damage the nearby Devilfish, and although the Duke hits the Piranha, he only manages a roll of 1 on his armor penetration. The Wyches in my backfield assault the Broadside and make quick work of it, earning a pain token, but only consolidate 1", unable to get within 3 inches of my objective thanks to the hull of the wrecked Raider in the way.
Tau Turn 3: The Devilfish pushes forward towards Dennis's objective, and the Piranha moves in to close with the Raider. My Hammerhead sets its sites on the Cronos, the railgun one of the few weapons likely to harm it now. Meanwhile, my Fireknives split up; one team works around the hill with my objective, while the Commander's team moves up to face off with the newly arrived Raider. Again, the Piranha closes with the Raider, this time getting within 3" of its target. The one remaining Kroot Hound, however, starts retreating towards my objective, hoping to claim it once the Wyches are dealt with. It's a good shooting phase for me. The Piranha hits the Ravager, meltas through it, and it explodes. The Fireknives open fire on the Wyches in back, and thanks to their toughness of 3, all of my weapons ignore their Feel No Pain; most die, and the survivors break and run from the board. The Deathrains and other Fireknife squad fire on the Raider, wrecking it as well, but I'm left with nothing with which to hit Lelith. Finally, the Hammerhead lands a hit on the Cronos, wounding it.
Dark Eldar Turn 4: Realizing that he must contest his objective, Dennis starts running the wounded Cronos towards it. Lelith and her Wyches move up on my Commander's squad, while the Duke stands his ground (having nowhere to really go). The Wyches assault the Commander's squad, killing three gun drones and a suit, and wounding another. Even with her amazing number of attacks against me, Lelith lacks the strength to make anything really stick, and Dennis has horrible luck with the Hekatrix's Agoniser. I have enough survivors to punch back at the Wyches, taking out a couple. My team only loses assault by a couple of wounds, and manages to make the morale check. The two squads remain locked in combat.
Tau Turn 4: Only two threats remain on the board: the Cronos, and Lelith's Wyches. I move up my free squad of Fireknives, but not so close as to be in assault range. The Piranha turbo boosts towards the Cronos, hoping to catch up to it and melta it down. My troops push towards victory, as the Devilfish and Kroot Hound race towards their objectives. The Deathrain suits finish off the Duke, as he finally fails a 2++ save from his shadowfield and is doubled-out by a missile. The Hammerhead lands another shot on the Cronos, leaving it with one wound remaining. In assault, the remaining suits in combat cannot hold against Lelith, and the Commander dies to the Wyches. They consolidate, but only by 1".
Dark Eldar Turn 5: The Cronos retreats further, and Lelith tries to close with my other Fireknives, but a poor run roll leaves them stranded in open ground.
Tau Turn 5: Success! Both troops make it to their respective goals. The Hammerhead finishes off the Cronos, and the Deathrains and Fireknives circle up and unload on the Wyches. Only the Hekatrix, getting FNP against shots from the drones, and Lelith with her dodges survive. I am two figures away from tabling the Dark Eldar, and Dennis has no way to even tie at this point. Rather than roll for turn 6, we call the game there.
Final score: Tau 2, Dark Eldar 0
This was Dennis's first outing with the Dark Eldar, so he's still getting used to them. That said, the Tau are actually far better equipped to handle them than I originally suspected. If you can blunt the initial assault, focused fire with Crisis Suits can make short work of them; even with the benefits from pain tokens, our standard weapons are too strong for them to resist. Also, against Crisis Suits, the Wyches are left with enemies that they can only wound on 5+, have 2 wounds, and make 3+ armor saves. However, had Dennis not chosen to deep strike his Wyches, but had instead pushed forward with them from turn 1, it might have been a very different game. The Tau's success is dependent on halting that initial push - in this case, the Kroot did well by drawing attention and blocking off movement. Screening units are an absolute necessity against this army.