40K: Lessons learned at 5000 pts - Eldar vs. Space Marines

 Hey folks! So, I played a 5000 pt game this past weekend, by far the largest I've ever played, and I learned quite a few things. This post will by photo and meta-heavy, rather than a usual blow-by-blow bat rep.
 Right off the bat, this list is literally every model in my collection, so not *that* much strategy went into its construction, so please refrain from the "Well, you should have brought..." that wasn't the point ;)

 My friend Iron-Stubble (you know who you are!) and I have been wanting to play a big game for a long time now, and I finally got myself together and whipped up the biggest list I could bring. In part because I wanted to play a huge game, and in part because some of my favorite units/models have been just gathering dust for over a year now.

 So, here's what I brought:

 Windrider BattleHost-
 Farseer (Jetbike, Spear, Kurnous' Bow, Spirit Stone of Anath'Lan) *Warlord
 3x Warlocks (Jetbikes, Spears)
 3x Jetbikes (Shuriken Cannons)
 3x Jetbikes (Shuriken Cannons)
 3x Jetbikes (Scatter Lasers)
 Vyper (2x Shuriken Cannons)

  Sub- Heroes of the Craftworld/Living Legends-
  Autarch (Banshee Mask, Shark of Anaris, Fusion Pistol, Swooping Hawk wings)
  Seer Council (5x Warlocks, Eldrad, Farseer, 6x Singing Spears)
  Avatar of Khaine (RAR!)

  Sub- Wraithhost-
  Wraithknight (Suncannon/Scattershield, 2x Scatter Lasers)
  Wriathlord (Glaive, 2x flamers, 2x Scatter Lasers)
  Wraithguard (Axes/Shields)
  Wraithguard (D-Scythes)
     -Wave Serpent (Bright Lance)
  Wraithguard (D-Cannons)
     -Wave Serpent (Bright Lance)

  Sub- Aspect Host 1-
  6x Swooping Hawks (Exarch, Hawk's Talon)
  6x Swooping Hawks (Exarch, Hawk's Talon)
  10x Dire Avengers (Exarch, Power Sword/Shimmershield)

  Sub- Aspect Host 2-
  10x Fire Dragons (Exarch, Firepike)
      -Wave Serpent (Bright Lance)
  5x Dark Reapers (Exarch, Starshots)
  10x Striking Scorpions (Exarch, Claw)

  Sub- Engines of Vaul-
  Nightspinner (Holofields)

  Sub- Wraith Construct-
  Hemlock Wraithfighter

  Allied Formation- Eldar CAD-
  Farseer (Jetbike, Spear)
  10x Guardians (Scatter Laser)
  10x Guardians (Scatter Laser)
  Crimson Hunter (Exarch)

  Allied Formation - Heroes Path-
  Harlequin Death Jester (Haywire Grenades)
  Harlequin Shadowseer (Mask of Secrets, ML2, Haywire Grenades, Neuro-Shredder)
  Harlequin Solitaire (Haywire Grenades)

 **Again, this is my ENTIRE collection, and I've been collecting a little at a time for years, so I'm well aware that in the current meta a good half of this stuff is gathering dust for good reason, and no general in their right mind would bring it - hence the point of the game, to get them back into the game!
 ...And be quickly reminded why they were on the shelf!

 As for his list...

 This is quick and dirty, I'm not familiar enough with the newer Formations and Wargear to be super detailed, but here goes-

 Space Marines (Iron Hands/Grey Knights/Imperial Knights)

 Iron Hands CAD (ish)
 Techmarine (Servo-Harness) *Warlord
     - 3x Servitors, Servo Arms
 5x Scouts
 5x Scouts
 5x Sternguard (4x Combi-Meltas, Drop Pod)
 3x Stalkers
 Stormraven (TL Multi-Melta, etc.)
 Predator (3x Lascannons)
 3x Centurions (Grav Cannons, Grav Amp.)
 Terminator Chaplain
 5x Assault Terminators (Thunder Hammer/Stormshield)
 5x Assault Terminators (Lightning Claws)

 Land Raider Spearhead
 2x Godhammer
 1x Crusader

 Librarius Conclave
 There were some Librarians,

 Skyhammer Annihilation Force
 5x Devastators (Multi-Melta, Drop Pod)
 5x Assault Marines (Drop Pod)

 Skyhammer Annihilation Force
 5x Devastators (Grav Cannons, Drop Pod)
 5x Assault Marines (Drop Pod)

 Grey Knights-
 1x Grey Knight Squad (mysterious, literally never stepped out of their Land Raider...)
 ...at least one Captain with Daemonhammer and several Terminator Librarians.

 Imperial Knights-
 1x RF Battle Cannon/Chainsword, Icarus Autocannon array
 1x RF Battle Cannon/Heavy Gattler thing, Icarus Autocannon array

 ...Now, his list construction was a little loose (he went somewhat easy on me there) but he's rolling in almost 15,000 pts in his collection total, so he had a number of options for how he would build this list, and so put it together expecting my list to be very, very nasty. Which is my fault, because I got saucy and bragged a lot about how good all my stuff was. And it is! Out of the context of just what 5000 pts means an opponent can bring.

 Here are some more glamour shots of units:

 Wraaaaaiths! WIP, but they look pretty good from this distance.

 Guardians and the Avatar were the staple, the linchpin, of my first armies. That scary bugger running across the field with a 4++ and guaranteed Fortune won me...  well, not a lot, but it was scary. These guys have been languishing too long in the box.

 Harlequins! These three were still by far my favorite models to paint, ever. Replacing the Autarch there who had the title before them. Pay no attention to the unpainted Hawks in the background.

 And of course, the current centerpiece of my army. I'm very proud of him, and feel no shame in running him, considering how often I still lose :P
 My custom Farseer Warlord was in his element leading a force this size!

 Oh, and shameless plug-
 Our local store has loaner versions of most of the starter-sets for these games, as well as a wealth of other games, so I couldn't resist some pictures of their painted Betrayal at Calth and Age of Sigmar sets, just so y'all don't get tired of all those Eldar ;)

 On to the game!
 I rolled the D3 units Infiltrate Warlord trait - which for some *absurd* reason, I re-rolled. I came up with Fate's Messenger (Warlord re-rolls saving throws of 1) which is certainly good, but the first option was better.
 Right here with the psychic powers I was already overwhelmed by just how much stuff there was to keep track of in a game this big. Ridiculous! Definitely not my ideal playing level...
 There was also a little confusion about scenario, we ended up going with one from a recent local Tournament, but it was designed for 1500 pts. We also had some miscommunication on Deployment, and somehow ended up playing the game long-table. Shucks.

 Ok, so in the most recent League here, I learned several basic lessons (and had to re-learn them more than I care to admit...):

 1.) Your Wave Serpents are Transports. And they're going to get blown up. So use them while you've got them.
 2.) Be aggressive! Eldar have the punch, but don't have the range or staying power of other armies.

 In other words, get in and hit hard and fast, then use that cheaty pointy-eared speed to get back out.

 So. Did I do any of those things this game? No.
 I won first turn, and played it very conservatively. I inched forward, but minimally, expecting the Marines to come to me. That wasn't the wrong strategy, exactly, but it did give up what little initiative I had. I was thrown off because my only open targets were two Imperial Knights and three Land Raiders. At that range, there was nearly nothing I could hit, let alone hurt. So in the end all I did was strip a single HP from a Knight.

 Above is where I ended T1. If I wasn't going balls-out straight for the other side of the board, I should have at least stayed bunched up to limit where Drop Pods could ruin my day.
 The Bronze Serpent is the Dragon Wagon, blue has the Scythe-Wraithguard, and black has the Cannon-Wraithguard and Spiritseer.

 That's what the Marines rolled out. I didn't have range on the Stalkers, Predator, or the Techpriest Warlord behind that silver monster. If I were to redo this game, I would blitz all three Wave Serpents straight up the right-most Knight's nose. I would have lost a lot, but at least it would have put my heavy Anti-Armor somewhere useful.

 Instead, this fell on my head. Those Rocket Launchers are actually Multi-Meltas from the Skyhammer (therefore Relentless), above them those are red Assault Marines from the Skyhammer, then the unit above them is Combi-melta Sterguard and one of the GK Librarians. On top of the rock is the Devastator unit with Grav Cannons from the other Skyhammer, their Assault Marine buddies are on the far side of that ruin high/center right.
 This was the SM Alpha strike. The GK Librarian busted out Vortex of Doom, hit my Wraithlord and the Scytheguards' Serpent. He rolled a 6 on the D-table, instantly destroying both. Then he did that Sanctic Nova and killed my Scatterbikes too. On the plus side. He Periled and the Librarian blew up, but the unit was all right.
 In shooting those Combi-melta Sternguard took out the Dragons' wagon, and the Gravs/Land Raiders - rather than shoot the Wraightknight juiced on Fortune - glanced the Wraithcannons' Serpent to death.
 Ha! So much for lesson #1! I'm sitting on back table with my slow Wraith units essentially stuck, and I lost all three Wave Serpents in the first round of shooting.

 He also nerfed my power unit here. The Multi-Melta Devastators let fly on my D-Scythe Wraithguard, and while they hilariously managed only a single kill, they still blocked Overwatch for his Assault Marines. It took embarrassingly long to disentangle that combat too, even after Eldrad and his Warlocks got involved.

 I saw some fancy-dancing with those Land Raiders. He would move them apart, let fly with those Centurions, then Flat-out to cover the Centurions for my turn. Brilliant! Dickish, but both legal and brilliant!

 The game was more is less over after that, but we kicked it around to play it out. With all my Transports dead I was pretty much at the mercy of the Marines. Three was nowhere near enough for a 5k (but, all I had).
 To have made any headway at all, I needed to be able to get my hard-hitting Dragons and Wraithguard up next to his beefcakes right in the beginning, with enough initiative to at least fire once before getting mulched. I had the chance, and squandered it. That by itself lost me the game, but without that move, the weaker elements of my army quickly crumbled.
 Also, it was such a big game that I was frankly overwhelmed, and actually forgot to do anything with several of my units more than once. The Solitaire, especially, sat out Turn 1 because I forgot about him, and seriously should have just Deep-Struck with him.

 I had two six-man units of Swooping Hawks come in with nothing to shoot. I positioned them riskily, hoping to get a chance to use their Haywire grenades in Assaults. At this point, my lines were weathering fire rather brilliantly, but the major hitters were already dead.

 These suckers are juiced up on Endurance and Prescience, just waiting to get in the thick of my squishy Guardians.

 The Avatar above is hanging on a single Wound, and charged the Terminator unit, but failed. It was a solid 8-9", a little much even with a re-roll.

 At this point, I had my quasi-Seer Council, my real Seer Council, the Nightspinner, Scytheguard, Scorpions, lost Dragons, Solitaire, and Reapers. I could still take some swings, but my chances of actually hurting anything were fairly slim. I did manage to Blitz across the table with my Solitaire, and he was just shy of getting into Assault with the Techmarine, so I was forced to assault the Silver Knight. He shaved off a handful of HP, but finally went down to some unlucky rolls. I still love the Solitaire, and the Shadowseer, but they were left hanging in this one, and don't do well solo.

 This is the final table. We ran out of time more than anything, or I would have been tabled. Highlights from the action:

 *My Autarch (his Wraithblade buddies long dead) assaulted the Lightning Claw Terminators, and was joined by the Jetbike Seers. This was dumb because, while they all had Fortune and Witchblades. they were woefully outmatched against Assault Terminators with Endurance. I only even did the charge, rather than kiting and using Psychic Powers at range, because my opponent somehow still thought he was going to lose and got a little depressed mid game. So to be nice, I charged, and was beaten soundly faster than I ever imagined.
 *After the above Assault, my Guardians did kite, moving backwards, then shooting, then running backwards. They only got in one or two rounds of this each, but they killed *four* Terminators, despite Endurance the 2+, which made them (hilariously) two of the only units in my army who came close to earning their points back in kills.
 *My BS5 Dark Reapers blew up the stupid Stormraven!! This is big for me, because I have a magical inability to kill Stormravens, ever. And even this time it took 2-3 rounds of shooting :P

 All in all, I got utterly rocked. Which isn't surprising, considering the sheer number of less than competitive units I fielded, but had I been super-aggressive in that first turn, I could have made it at least close. I seriously underestimated those Drop Pods (I actually don't play against Marines all that often...) and had never actually fought against a Skyhammer before. Still, I have fought Knights, and I did know that their Achilles Heel is getting Melta/D'ed at close range.

 This confirmed my usual sadness when I think of my Guardians, who always wind up running backwards from something that wrecks them in the end.
 And my Avatar, who just fails charges and gets shot to pieces with his paltry 3+/5++. I know that's a solid save, but come on, dude is just shy of 200 pts and you can't back him up with a unit or other MCs. He can't fly, there are better things to Fortune, and I can't roll dice.
 The same goes for Eldar Flyers - I want to love them, but in my experience they're utter crap. Both of mine hit the board and were immediately pasted by a single Knight, each. He didn't even need the Stalkers. Why do Flyers even have Jink if nearly every AA gun out there Ignores Cover and has the range co cover most of the board?

 In any case, I'll take another stab at it sometime. I'd even try again with this same list because it's so darn pretty. And it was a ton of fun, even just setting up everything was - while overwhelming - a very satisfying feeling. And it gave me a chance to dust off my model shelves ;)