Hey folks! It's Escalation League time again, and I just played my first match, against my favorite Space Marines Chapter no less, the pragmatic Salamanders!
This is my third local Escalation League, and the Round 1 scenario has been similar each time: 4x4 board, classic Deployment, a single 4pt Objective dead-center worth 4 points to the player holding it at Game end, and very specific rules for Terrain.
There are also unique List Construction restrictions: CAD only (except armies like Harlequins who can't do CADs) with 0-1 HQ, 2-6 Troops, and no more than 1 Fast Attack, 1 Heavy Support, 2 Elite.
Scoring is Kill Points, plus 1 pt. for Linebreaker and Big Game Hunter (killing the highest-value destroyed unit gets you 1 pt)
It's also Night Fighting automatically T1, T2 on a 4+, and T3 on a 6+.
Oh, and this League is following ITC for the first time, so there are a few things that are going to trip me up later (particularly affecting units of Psykers) but for this game, it only mattered for the D-cannons on my Wraithguard, making a 2-5 D3 Wound/HP and a 6 auto-3 Wound/HP with no Saves whatsoever. Still very powerful, but less earth-shattering than RAW (Rules as Written)
In the past I've usually taken an HQ, but Eldar HQs are expensive base, so I skipped it this time. Here are the lists:
3x Jetbikes (3x Scatter Lasers)
3x Jetbikes (3x Shuriken Cannons)
5x Wraithguard (Wraithcannons)
1x Wave Serpent (TL Bright Lance, Spirit Stones)
1x Vyper (2x Shuriken Cannons)
In past Leagues, I've been gimmicky - taking two ObSec Serpents, bringing a Mantle of the Laughing God Farseer, a Night Spinner - etc. This time, I tried to be balanced. The Bikes are ObSec, reasonably durable, and very fast. The Wraithguard prevent me from being overrun by heavier armor (like the Ghost Ark in my first League) and the Serpent is their necessary ride, with a little oomph of it's own. The Vyper was to fill points, but in a small game like this, potentially very useful as well.
In hindsight, I should have taken the Serpent underslung Shuriken Cannon instead of Spirit Stones, but mine is modeled without one, oh well.
1x Librarian (Auspex, ML1)
5x Scouts (C. Cloaks, 4x Snipers, 1x Missile Launcher)
5x Tactical Marines (Plasma gun, Combi-Melta)
1x Drop Pod
5x Assault Marines (2x Flamers)
Predator (TL Lascannon)
For Warlord Trait, his Librarian got Feel No Pain, and rolled on Divination, but only cared about Prescience.
Right off the bat, he has the tools to ruin my day. The Predator can duke it out with my Serpent, while the Scout Missiles pot-shot whatever they can get. The Tac Marines came in the Pod, making it Objective Secured, and those Flamers were going to give my Jetbikes trouble. Plus, he brought a Librarian, and since I had no Psykers, he was going to own that phase.
I was really happy seeing it though - not only is it a classy, balanced list, but Salamanders, and fully painted no less! That made my day :)
Below is our Terrain, I won all the roll-off for placing Terrain, choosing Table Sides, and Deploying/going first - off to a good start! I picked the flat table edge to the right in this photo.
Here was my Deployment - aggressive with the Serpent, somewhat exposed with my bikes (banking on Stealth T1 and going first). The Vyper is made of paper, so he's position hide behind those crates ASAP:
Aaaand he Seized. Oh f%&$. ObSec Drop Pod Drop Pod-Assaults T1, rolling a Hit and camping right on top of the Objective. Well. Crap. ObSec Drop Pod would have been my worst nightmare in most 500 pt games, which is *exactly* why I brought my D-Cannons! Now just to get them there without getting them cut to ribbons...
Above is his Deployment, post Drop-Pod, with the Assault Marines in Reserve. You can see the Predator lined up for long shots, and the Scouts in the left ruin. The Tac unit is in position to lay into my Bikes. Stealth or no, the Plasma Gun is looking scary. He rolls, and fails to cast Prescience this turn. Whew!
In shooting, he lays into my bikes, but I make ALL my saves! Woo! The Predator and Scouts gun for my Serpent, but I opt not to Jink (he's got a 4+ Cover anyway with Terrain and Stealth). No damage! Phwew!
In my turn, I moved up the Serpent, I didn't want to get too aggressive too fast, because that Tac unit was still a threat to my Wraithguard, and I didn't know yet how much damage I would be able to do.
My Vyper pops up on the crates (passes the Dangerous Terrain check) to gun for the side-armor on the Predator.
The Bikes laid into the Tacs for all they were worth, and the Serpent plays in dangerously, using its Serpent Shield to Ignore Cover on those Scouts. The Tacs drop like flies (coooold saves), but pass Leadership. A few Scouts go down, and fail leadership, and hoof it for the back table edge. My Vyper strips one HP off the Predator. Overall a truly nasty first turn for the Eldar. No Kill Points or First Strike, but a ton of damage done.
At the end of T1, only the Sergeant and Librarian survived the volley from the Bikes, and three Scouts (Missile Launcher included) will ATSKNF next turn.
Top of T2, the Assault Marines come in, with their 2x Flamers. He places the Sergeant right next to my Scatterbikes (in the ruin) and positions to flame the hell out of them. He rolls to scatter and... 12", straight off the table edge by a quarter of an inch. D'oh!
He rolls Misplaced on the Mishap table, so I get to place the unit. I opt for the farthest corner of the table, in bushes, and to add injury to insult, one of the Marines fails his Dangerous Terrain check and save. Double D'oh.
Here's the result:
On his T2, his Sergeant/Librarian make it into the red building (AV12 Building), he rolls for Prescience, but I Deny it (he kept rolling 6 for Warp Charge, putting us on roughly even footing with my 0 Psykers to his 1). The Sergeant then took his Combi-Melta shot at my Serpent, which Jinked, but failed to do any damage. The Assault Marines moved across the back of the board, gunning for my Vyper, while the Predator pivoted to present Front armor to the Vyper and shot it with everything he had - but cold dice on his part and burning hot Jink dice on mine saw the Vyper undamaged.
On my T2, my Wraithguard disembarked, shot at the building, and scored a lucky Explodes!, which dealt a total of 15 Wounds to the two embarked models, crushing them after a very strong showing of saves.
My Shuriken Cannon bikes moved onto the ruined building to get that Cover, and my Vyper gunned its engines to try to get a better angle on the Predator. Having Jinked, both the Vyper and Serpent took what shots they had, but did no damage. Both of my bike units laid into the Drop Pod, and stripped one HP off of it.
I stopped taking pictures at this point, but when the dust settled (we did go to T6), my Vyper was dead, but my Wraithguard were standing on the Objective, having destroyed the Drop Pod and the only Salamander left standing was a lone Scout Sniper, locked in combat with a two-man Jetbike unit. I was only missing one Jetbike (which died to Dangerous Terrain after this last picture was taken) and my Vyper, which died after surviving and Assault from the Assault Marines (lucky break from those Krak Grenades). My Scatterbikes sniped the Predator's side armor at a vulnerable moment, and the Assault Marines were whittled down as they tried to get to my lines.
This game was absolutely beautiful, with the board and terrain matching well, both armies full painted (except the Wraithguard bases). It was also the single most brutally one-sided dice rolling I've seen in a game, ever - and I roll terribly.
His list was solid, I thought, it had all the tools he needed, the ObSec drop pod, fast-moving Flamers, two different long-range anti-tank weapons, and a little Psychic support. He easily could have wiped my Scatterbikes Turn 1 (and statistically should have killed at least 1) and his Predator, even with TL on the Lascannon, missed 5/6 shots the whole game. In a typical game, I would have expected to lose a Scatterbike on T1, and the Vyper on T2 after it had peeked out into LoS. On top of that, mishapping with the Assault Marines was a rough patch of luck.
Final score: 9 to 1, Eldar. I held the Objective (4pts) and 5 Kill Points to the Space Marines 1 Kill Point.
I'm happy to win, but it sucks that it was such a one-sided game, when he really didn't make any mistakes in his list or how he played it.
Still, fun game, really great opponent, can't wait to get to Round 2!