Even with all this anti-GW sentiment flying around, I still like the game itself and J and I managed to get a quick game of 40K in last night. We played 1250pts and didn't say what we were bringing. I brought my Eldar and he is Dark Eldar -- classic clash of the titans! (Titans as in ancients of the universe, not big strong brutes, cuz Eldar ain't).
We only completed 3 turns, and in turn 3 things suddenly "got real" so to speak with a lot of casualties. The tides turned my way after all the combat dust had settled, though had we continued it still would have been anyone's game. But my saying that makes it sound like i won... I did not!
Eldar forces (roughly): Led by Prince Yriel with dire avengers in a wave serpent; wraithlord; dark reapers; pathfinders; banshees; guardian bikers in reserve; scorpions in reserve.
Dark Eldar forces (roughly): Archon commanding with incubi in a venom; wyches and warriors, both in their own raiders; reaver bikers; ravager; beastmaster with khymera in reserve; talos in reserve.
The board was set up with 4 objectives, we deployed "hammer and anvil" (so long-wise from the short ends of the board), and the game was "big guns never tire" -- heavy support units count as scoring and worth extra victory points if you kill them. So my reapers and wraithlord were scoring and his ravager and talos were scoring. (Monsters as scoring units? Awesome!)
The central objective (of four on the board) had circular ruins around it, creating a cool arena worth fighting over. The DE had the initiative and moved in, beating me to the punch. So my strategy of taking and holding the middle was now not such a great idea. I did, however, learn enough from my previous mistakes that i didn't spread my already thin army out across the whole length of the board, and thus doom each unit to die alone. I kept them relatively together this time.
Turn 1 was mostly the DE moving into the center and opening up a webway portal. Night fighting was in effect so my rangers and reapers fired a lot of shots but didn't hurt anything. End turn 1.
Turn 2 his beastmaster and talos monstrosity came through the portal. His wyches jumped out and assaulted my transport with haywire grenades, wrecking it -- thus he got First Blood and emptied my avengers and HQ onto the board. His shooting attacks also picked off probably one or two models from each squad on the board and his talos hit my wraithlord with 5 poisonous wounds from his twin-linked splinter cannons. I feared my monster dead right there but I made all my saves (i made a lot of saves in this game).
On my Turn 2 the jetbikes and scorpions came in but did little else. My banshees and avengers wiped out the wyches with skuriken fire. The wraithlord initiated the Monster Mash: he strode forward and *CRASH* smashed right through the ruins to engage the Talos in monster to monster combat, the winner of which would claim the central objective! ...and in 3 combat rounds of their giant slap fest they failed to do much of anything to each other. In the last round of the game my wraithlord finally dealt one wound to the talos and thus won a round of that combat, but that was the only damage in the whole Monster Mash -- kind of a let-down.
Turn 3 finally felt like we were engaged in a game of 40K. The dark eldar poured it on: the reavers buzzed my sniper tower, decapitating all but one pathfinder with vaneblades and caltrops. This left my tower with one pathfinder sniper and one reaper in it, both of whom kept making amazing morale checks to stay put. (Reapers had been widdled away by various ranged fire.) The venom's double-trouble splinter cannons killed all 3 guardian jetbikes (i never get any use out of those things). The beastmaster and his 5 nightmare hounds charged my banshees, but the girls held their own and won: the banshees shrill cries not only gave them initiative but the sonic assault reduced the DEs WS to 1. I killed four hounds (one with a shuriken pistol as they charged in) and lost one girl, thus winning the combat. The glider-rider and his last khymera fell back.
The climactic battle of the game was when the Archon and his incubi bodyguards jumped from their venom and charged my hero Yriel and his dire avengers. He challenged me and I had to decide who to send out: yriel or the DA exarch. Sacrifice the lesser character to keep the HQ or HQ vs HQ? I figured I'd lose either way, because the archon had a huskblade, which dealt instant death, but since Yriel and the archon both had Init-7 he would at least have a chance to take the archon with him. Plus if i lost my exarch i'd give away all my warrior powers (defend reduced the incubi models' attack by 1) and my shimmershield (5+ invuln save for whole squad), which the DAs would need to survive the incubi attack. Yriel stepped forward and the fight began. The archon's huskblade left trails of vapor as he slashed at Yriel, who parried with the long haft of the Spear of Twilight and jabbed with its glowing blade. The result: yriel took 3 wounds and failed 2 invuln saves, thus instant death--the huskblade sucked all of the moisture from his body, leaving a mummified corpse on the ground, and the archon's soultrap drained Yriel's spirit, doubling his strength for the future. But Yriel did not die in vain: he dealt two wounds and the archon's shadow field failed on the second roll--he took one wound and his 2+ invuln save was shattered, leaving him with just his armor for future battles. Though there were no future battles. Back in the rest of the combat, the Dire Avenger Exarch was faster than the incubi and he cut two of them down with his power sword before they could even swing their deadly klaives. The other DAs acted at the same time (I5) as the last two incubi. The incubi rolled bad and the DAs rolled well, killing another incubi but taking no casualties. The dire avengers, for the first time in their miserable careers, WON a combat, and against badass close combat models! Un-freakin-believable! Then the archon rolled an 11 for his morale check and tried to fall back, but the Exarch was too quick -- they were caught in a sweeping advance and wiped out! The freakin dire avengers not only defeated incubi in combat, but caught them and their archon on the run and killed them all! un-FREAKIN-believable!!!
(however... on the way home, driving in the dark and rethinking it, we may have screwed up the math on the sweeping advance roll. The archon's initiative was higher than the exarch, so maybe the roll wasn't a tie -- i think now maybe they should have escaped, which would be much less glorious... but i'm confident that on my turn, the fleeing archon (now with no 2+ invuln shield) and last incubi would have been shot all to hell by the avengers and engaged by them and the scorpions -- end result would have been the same, but not nearly as cool.)
On my turn 3 the avengers lined up off of the objective (still claiming it) so they could bladestorm the reaver jet bikes that were behind the tower -- don't think they killed a single one. As stated earlier, this was the only round of the Monster Mash in which a wound was actually dealt and taken. And the scorpions took apart a raider transport with chainsword and plasma grenade, forcing the DE warrior squad onto the board (though we didn't bother placing them as that was the end of the game).
As it was late, we called it there. Score? Each of us had an objective (3 VPs), each had killed the other's warlord (+1VP), but the dark eldar got first blood (+1VP) and had their reavers in my backfield at the end, for "line breaker" (+1VP). Final score: 6 to 4, Dark Eldar Victory!
MVP: My MVP for the game was BY FAR the Dire Avengers and more specifically, their exarch. I love DAs--they and the scorpions are my favorite aspects--but in the case of the DAs my admiration is largely misplaced. The avengers never fail to disappoint me, especially when it comes time to fight in close combat. But this time... DAMN. I never expected them to do so well. Way to go, fellas!!!
Boobie Prize: I could give my boobie prize to the pathfinders, who despite being the best snipers in the game probably failed to kill anyone (MAY have gotten one kill), and despite having a 2+ cover save, all but one managed to fail that save and die. But no award, that's pretty much par for the course on them. I could give it to the Wraithlord: after an awesome crash through a stone wall to engage in an epic class of the titans (real this time) Monster Mash, he barely squeezed out a single wound of damage. But no, he actually DID win that combat, as pathetic as that was, even if he didn't kill the enemy monster. The boobie prize has to go to the guardian jetbikes, who came on the board at 12", did their awesome 36" turboboost, and promptly died. That is par for the course for them too, always useless, but it's time they were recognized for their uselessness. Congrats guys. You suck.