This weekend saw me taking another trip back in time to the early nineties and playing 2nd Edition 40k again. Pete's been building a 2nd Edition Eldar army and wanted to give it a run out, so with Matt operating as umpire (a very nineties concept) and rules lawyer, we put together 1250 point armies to try out new things and learn some valuable, if painful, lessons.
To keep things simple in terms of knowing what I was doing, I kept my force relatively similar to what I used against Matt's Tyranids. Other than swapping in the models I'd painted this week (partly because they were new, but partly because I thought they'd be a better choice against Eldar), the only major change was adding in a squad of Death Company and a Chaplin to find out what they did.
Chaplain - Crozius, Bolt Pistol, Jump Pack (Army Commander)
Tech-Marine - Bike, Plasma Pistol
Terminator Squad - Power Fists, Storm Bolters, Heavy Flamer
Tactical Squad - Bolters, Flamer, Heavy Bolter
Death Company - Chainswords, Bolt Pistols, Jump Packs
Dreadnought - Power Fist, Assault Cannon
In his usual frighteningly efficient way, Pete has been beavering away for the last couple of weeks painting up Aspect Warriors as he acquired them, not realising he had 30 Guardian stashed away in a box. This army is likely to grow quickly.
Exarch & 5 Striking Scorpions
Exarch & 5 Fire Dragons
Exarch & 3 Warp Spiders
Exarch & 3 Dark Reapers
I knew Pete had to bring a psyker as his army commander, but I opted not to include a Librarian because I didn't want to diminish my small force even further. This, surprising as it may seem, would turn out to be a MASSIVE error of judgement on my part.
Pete deployed first...behind stuff. I took advantage of a strategy card to make his Dark Reapoers arrive late which ultimately shut them out of the game. He had his Warp Spiders and the Dark Reaper Exarch on his left, Fire Dragons in the middle and the Guradians, Striking Scorpions and Farseer on his right.
I opted to send my Death Company towards the Farseer as I (rightly, as it happens) predicted that if I didn't shut him down, he could cause me significant problems. I put my Terminators in the centre with the Dreadnought and Tactical Combat Squads on the right.
We both drew the Engage and Destroy mission.
I got first turn and the Death Company jumped towards the enemy as they are required to do. Despite having to roll a scatter for each of them, they actually landed nicely grouped. Something which wouldn't turn out to be as positive as I hoped.
In what turned out to be a horrible case of new model syndrome, the Tactical Marines were his by a Bombing Run strategy card which killed my new heavy bolter model, the Dreadnought jammed his assault cannon killing some of the Fire Dragons and on Pete's turn the Tech-Marine was hit in the face with a web of skulls by the Dark Reaper Exarch the face and subsequently drove his bike into a wall.
On the up side, I did manage to whittle the Fire Dragons down to below half strength, breaking them and essentially taking them out of the game. Although I sniped at them throughout the game, I failed to finish off the unit.
The Farseer stepped out into the limelight and began to wreak havoc. I can't remember exactly what he cast each turn but he did manage to get Fortune cast onto the Striking Scorpions before doing this...
An Eldritch Storm cast with ultimate force hit the Death Company, knocking them flying and rendering them unable to move in the following turn. Fortunately I was able to use an energy drain card to get rid of the storm, along with the previously cast Fortune, and allow the Death Company to regroup.
In a somewhat uneventful turn for me, I advanced and fired where I could. The Dreadnought needed to clear it's jam, but the remains of one of my combat squads took aim and executed the Dark Reaper Exarch lurking in the ruins.
The Terminators were unable to hurt the Farseer who, it turns out, is Toughness 5. FIVE!
In Pete's turn, his Warp Spiders hopped up into position and used their silly string guns to turn two Marines into goop before running away like the filthy xeno cowards they are.
The Warp Spider Exarch tried to do the same to the Dreadnought, but it turns out that dead Marines hermetically sealed into a metal coffin aren't as vulnerable to being turned into goop. However, the Marine stood behind it was.
He then proceeded to take a second move and charge the last Marine in the squad the Warp Spider squad had butchered, and finish the butchering.
This wasn't going well and Pete had only actually been using half of his army.
After much deliberation, the Death Company opted to drop in front of of the Farseer and try to kill him with Bolt Pistol fire. It didn't work because of invulnerable saves and TOUGHNESS FIVE!
It's an Elf for crying out loud!
Also, this was an error as the Death Company should have tried to charge. However, it's unclear what happens if they charge something that's techically in range, but scatter out of range, do they get to charge and then shoot, or do they just have to risk it. Also, at what point do you work out whether Death Company with jump packs are in the 'must charge if able' zone, given that it would essentially mean pre-measuring? Answers on a postcard please.
Suddenly presented with a target in the open, the Dreadnought pointed out that the Imperium also had weapons that could turn people into goop and unloaded its assault cannon into the Warp Spider Exarch, turning it into a red smear.
In Pete's turn, the Farseer and the Striking Scorpions came charging out and I learned all about the filth that are mandiblasters. Admittedly, Pete rolled well and I rolled poorly, but half the Death Company had lost a wound and the Chaplain was dead before any blows had been struck.
I turns out that I probably should have brought more than the lowest level Chaplain...
The Death Company actually held their own against the regular Striking Scorpions and had it just been the units fighting, would probably have won out. However, even though the Exarch was having a bad day, the Farseer was more than enough to tip the balance, as its terrifying Singing Spear and a successfully cast Executioner started to whittle the Death Company down.
To add insult to injury, another Eldritch Storm was dropped on the Terminators, effectively taking them out of the game and the Guardians finally popped their heads out of cover and actually managed to kill a Terminator with concentrated Shuriken Catapult fire.
It was all over bar the shouting, and the Death Company fell to the blades of the Striking Scorpions and Farseer.
The Eldar swarmed the Terminators, largely ignoring the apparently impervious Dreadnought, apart from the Fire Dragon Exarch who melted the last Tactical Marine. The Warp Spiders unleashed a burst at the Terminators and in a frankly predictable display of saving throw rolling, killed two of them.
Final Score: Blood Angels 6 - Eldar 17
On of my issues with all iterations of 40k over the years has been the fact that if there is a mismatch between armies, it very quickly becomes so one-sided that it ultimately stops being a game and just becomes a series of long explanations why one players troops are dying. Often this can lead to games not being very fun for one player as they just don't get to do anything.
This was one of those occasions.
However, rather than wallowing, let's have a think about how things could have gone better for me.
1. Take a Librarian. Seriously, having no comeback in the psychic phase hurt. They seem to not always be essential (or even beneficial), such as against Tyranids, but I think they are a must take against Eldar.
2. Know Your Enemy. I deployed badly due to ignorance. The Death Company should have gone after the Warp Spiders and Dark Reapers and I should have left the blob in the corner alone. This would have forced the Striking Scorpions to come out if they wanted a fight, and I could have shot them then.
3. Herohammer. This was apparently the case in 40k as well as Fantasy at the time. I need to beef up the Chaplain so he can do damage and stands a chance when going up against enemies like the Farseer.
4. Speed. The Terminators were too slow to get involved in this game. When going up against an opponent who won't come to me, they will need a Rhino or to teleportation.
5. Points Sinks. The Death Company (with the Chaplain) and the Terminators were both heavy investments of points, meaning that I didn't have much else to play with. At this points level, I probably can't include both as it leaves me without flexibility if one (or both) of them are neutralised.
6. Dreadnoughts. Despite not being amazing in close combat, the Dreadnoughts I've taken in both games have been a real threat and hard to deal with. This might be different as enemy guns get bigger, but as it stands, they seem to be an auto include.
So another game down, and I have to admit, it's blunted my enthusiasm a little. I probably need to spend a little more time planning and tailoring for opponents to get the most out of this iteration of the game. Fortunately, I have quite a wide spread of options available in my Blood Angels, so I can switch things round next time and maybe...just whisper it...eventually win a game of 40k.