Baptism of Fire - First Attempt with Dark Eldar
To test my first army list and to see how Dark Eldar play, I proxied a game against my friend's Chaos Space Marines. A game which shall now be reported on. Please refer to the previous blog entry for the army lists, mission, and deployment phase.
Baptism of Fire
My opponent brought his entire army onto the table on turn one and already used the smoke launchers on his dreadnought which was closest to my wych squad in its hiding place. Nothing else happened.
I moved all my units flat out, but I chose to do it on the far side of the field, staying out of range of the havocs and aiming to snipe the dreadnought and some other close unit to gain a headstart and have the enemy come towards me. The warriors were on foot and got in position in area terrain.
The darkness passed away and I had underestimated the 48" range of the missile launchers and they turned out to be just within range of one of my raiders. The predator could also shoot all its guns and the defiler blasted away with its battle cannon. I lost some models, a devastating first turn of shooting: one raider exploded fortunately only killing one wych, another got immobilised, luckily the one that had hidden and did not move flat out. The dreadnought got Blood Rage and advanced towards my army. 0:1 in kill points, no big worries yet.
I used the wych unit from the exploded raider and disembarked the one from the immobilised raider to advance into the ruin that screened my army and positioned the blasters so that they could open fire on the dreadnought. I also used my dark lance ravager and one after the other of my raider dark lances and warrior lances in my desperate attempt to do damage: at the end of my turn I had at least managed to shake and immobilize the dreadnought with nine dark lances and four blasters. Total whiff! At least the disintegrators kill the three bikers, leaving the Chaos lord on his own. 1:1 in kill points, could be better.
The enemy advances the rhinos (mostly in hiding) and blows smoke. The havocs are now out of range of my vehicles, but frag missiles kill three warriors. The predators makes another raider explode despite flat out cover save, this time only the succubus survives the explosion while one warrior who is too close also dies! The battle cannon can only see one model of the two disembarked wych squads, but of course scatter takes the blast marker right among the cluster of fragile wyches and takes its toll among both units. 2:1 in kill points and almost worse.
With the flamers and combi-flamers right at my door step I have no choice but to attack the offensive part of the enemy army head-on and abondon my cover. While my single succubus from the exploded raider runs for her life, my guns completely fail again: all my eight blasters, seven lances, and six disintegrators do to the flamer squad rhino is shake it! At least my two warrior lances get lucky and manage to kill off the Chaos lord despite his 3+ cover save from turbo-boosting. At least another kill point! 2:2 in kill points, but things are going worse than they seem.
My opponent is very cautious. All his units stay inside their impervious rhinos. His missile launchers try fragging the warriors again but do no damage due to good cover saves from going to the ground. The predators blows the dark lance off one raider and shakes it. But the dreadnought, now no longer shaken, hits a raider with its heavy flamer, penetrates, and causes an explosion! Two wyches die. 3:2 in kill points.
I disembark my wyches and prepare for the assault: the enemy rhino is now no longer obscured from smoke and all my guns are bound to kill it this time. Or so I thought. I destroy both its weapons and immobilize and stun and shake it. But it doesn't die and two of my wych squads are caught in the open. They assault, get another glancing hit, causing a weapon destroyed result finally killing the rhino, but my models are not locked in close combat and therefore unprotected against enemy fire. At least I was able to move my ravagers, who I had snuck up into the field innocently, into a firing lane targeting the havocs and kill all but one of the bolter marines. 3:3 in kill points, but I am caught in the open.
Now I'm down. The flamers unload upon my unprotected units. One wych squad and Ar'Gaîls retinue are wiped out. The predator explodes another raider killing half of my last intact wych squad, while the defiler blows the dark lance off an empty raider and stuns it. The noise marine rhino kills one warrior, the one with the dark lance leaving a useless one alive. 6:3 in kill points and I am certain to have lost the game.
Ar'Gaîl takes on the plague marines from the destroyed rhino on her own, while my two remaining wounded wych squads assemble around the second plague marine rhino, shooting it with four blasters aided by the ravager's three lances and one warrior dark lance: I fail again. I stun it and destroy its combi-flamer, but the marines stay inside and I can't assault them. I assault the rhino again, accomplishing nothing except for blocking the entry points. The ravagers, still not having any soft targets to shoot at, shoot the noise marine rhino and blow off one of the twin-linked bolters. I'm impressed. But my now dark lances get lucky for the first time: my single intact raider dark lance shoots the predator for the first time, penetrates side armor and destroys it! But it doesn't help much - 6:4 in kill points, still two behind.
Game goes on to turn six - it can only get worse, I thought.
My opponent disembarks his noise marines to shoot one of my wounded wych squads: all but the succubus die. The defiler assaults the other wounded wych squad and wipes it out. Ar'Gaîl on the other hand kills off the last plague marines in close combat. 7:5 in kill points, and I might have a chance to catch up!
My lanceless raider picks up the single succubus and takes her and itself to safety. My dark lance ravager and my single undamaged raider try to open up the second plague marine rhino that already has its combi-flamer destroyed, but the rhino only suffers crew shaken and immobilized. Ar'Gaîl assaults the rhino and accomplishes nothing. The ravagers now have a target: the tightly-packed and unobstructed noise marines. All six of them die to plasma. 7:6 now in kill points, not quite a draw but almost.
Again the game goes on!
The enemy can't do much: the single havoc is far out of reach, the dreadnought left stranded, together with the immobilized and destroyed plague marine rhinos blocking the way for the defiler. My opponent makes the mistake of disembarking the plague marines to shoot Ar'Gaîl, hoping for her shadow field to fail to instant-kill her with plasma. But she makes her 2+ saves and survives. The noise marine rhino advances and tries to shoot the single warrior who goes to the ground and survives as well. Still 7:6!
I shoot my ravager dark lances, the single raider dark lance, and my single warrior dark lance at the immobilized rhino with the destroyed combi-flamer, and again only manage to destroy the twin-linked bolter, leaving it without weapons or movement, but not gaining a kill point. The ravagers kill all but one of the plague marines who have no cover. The sole survivor gets charges by Ar-Gaîl and dies to her agoniser. 7:7, the game ends in a draw!
The Dark Eldar would have totally raped the Chaos Space Marines had they not had extremely bad luck with their lances and blasters against the rhinos! Unbelievable, really. Considering that, the army did pretty well to hold its own in its first game, an Annihilation mission and having to go second.
The disintegrator ravagers were definitely my highlight: killing six marines per shooting phase (as long as there are targets) they did a great job. Of course twice the target unit had no cover which helped a lot, but killing three bikes with a turbo-boost save is just brilliant! Though they had no targets to effectively shoot at for half the game, they definitely are responsible for letting me score at least a draw.
None of my wyches except for Ar-Gaîl who is a special character, made it into close combat with anything else but a walker. As a firing squad in gunboat (going 12" with the raider and shooting one lance and two blasters) seems like a viable approach, but I can not judge their effectiveness because of my insane dice rolls and so far I am rather unhappy with them: their transports are fragile and frequently explode, killing the wyches within and possible making them run away, never to regroup. I am really lucky that I passed every morale and pinning check in the entire game, but that is the upside of continuously rolling low...
The downside is that of being unable to get the enemy's infantry out of its transports. Mechanized armies really are a problem. Lance weapons seem powerful, but Dark Eldar definitely lack melta and AP1 weaponry: I only managed a lot of glancing hits or temporary damage on penetrating ones. The extra penetration dice or the +1 on the damage chart (or both) would really help!
But it was fun and I think I learned a lot about how to use Dark Eldar. In anything else but Annihilation they would rock. Next time I'll do better! I might have been better off with a less cautious approach to the mission, instead moving everything as close to the enemy as possible in turn one. But seeing that I had no chance at cracking the rhinos, that would probably have been even worse.
The Dark Eldar are very weak against hordes: I don't know how my army could take on Orks or Tyranids. But since I won't be able to get the models for some months, these worries lie well in the future...