40k Battle Report: 1000 pts. Eldar vs. Harlequins!

 What a game! This round I faced the Mighty, mysterious Eldar Harlequins - a shadow of my Craftworlders' more hedonistic and violent side, while at the same time the discipline and Psychic might to match my own! This was going to be an interesting game...
 I knew going into this that I had a *huge* advantage. First, Harlequins have maybe six units. Period. And since my worthy opponent is a purist (which is AWESOME! :D :D :D Buuuuuut also means predictable). And, the scenario was default Hammer and Anvil, long table, giving me multiple turns of shooting and narrow movement options for him. Talk about a raw deal!

 The Scenario was all about Flyers - First Blood could only be claimed by or with a Flyer, a live flyer on the table was worth 2 VP, and Fliers could claim Linebreaker.
 Aside from that, there was one Objective in each Deployment Zone (3pts each at Game end) that was automatically a Skyfire Nexus, Slay the Warlord, and normal Linebreaker.

  Well, I knew my advantages, but in a combination of new models and trauma from my last utterly crushing defeat, I made a list to stack my deck a little heavier - for which I apologized to my opponent, he was really great about it. Here was my list:

 Eldar CAD
 Farseer (Jetbike) *Warlord
 3x Windrider Jetbikes (Shuriken Cannons)
 3x Windrider Jetbikes (Shuriken Cannons)
 3x Windrider Jetbikes (Scatter Lasers)
 4x Windrider Jetbikes (Scatter Lasers)
 10x Swooping Hawks (Exarch, Hawk's Talon)

 Aspect Host
 3x Dark Reapers (Exarch, 3x Starshots)
 3x Dark Reapers (Exarch, 3x Starshots)
 3x Dark Reapers (Exarch, Eldar Missile Launcher, 2x Starshots)
 *Rites of Battle: +1 BS

 I rolled on Command Traits, because I like them, and got "Friendly units within 12" re-roll 1's when shooting." (Again? Sweet!)
 For Powers, I rolled two on Runes of Fate (Executioner - swapped for Guide - and Eldritch Storm. Score!) and Divination, to trade for Prescience. Didn't get Fortune, but dangit, I would re-roll every die I could!
 I mean, it's not broken as such, but it sure plays to my advantages, and is mean as hell. The last thing an Eldar player wants to see is Dark Reapers, especially Harlequins or Dark Eldar - ignoring Jink, hitting on 2+ (from the Aspect Host) and re-rolling to-hit if they Flat-Out, Reapers are one of the hardest hard-counters Eldar bikes and vehicles have. The Jetbikes are also murder on Harlequins with their ability to jump Line of Sight blocking terrain and speed to outpace some Assaults. The Hawks were insurance, in case he brought Flyers or tougher-armored Allies (Haywire FTW!) - but also I wanted to guarantee I could get to the back-field if needed and the Ignores Cover Large Blast on arrival was nice gravy. Plus, I love Hawks, and when I was guaranteed to face a majority T3 army, the S3 on their guns isn't as unreliable as usual.
 The Farseer is because I love Farseers, love my model, and my last game taught me that I can't roll dice :P
 I went hard MSU (multiple small units) to minimize the damage if he did manage to start getting me into CC, in which my army would fold like wet paper.

 We met for battle, and here's what he brought:

 Harlequin Masque Detachment
 Troupe (5x, Master Warlord with Embrace, 4x Harlequin's Kisses)
 Troupe (same as above)
 Starweaver (2x Shuriken Cannons)
 Starweaver (2x Shuriken Cannons)
 Voidweaver (2x Shuriken Cannons, Prism thing)
 Skyweavers (3x, Shuriken Cannons, Glaives)

 Heroes' Path
 Solitaire (Cegorach's Rose)
 Shadowseer (Haywire Grenades, ML2)
 Death Jester (Haywire Grenades)

 He rolled on the Twilight table, with the shot at all six his Warlord being a Troupe Master and all, and got the "Once per game may forego moving to have his entire unit move 24 inches, ignoring intervening terrain."
 Jesus! That's bad for me! Can't Assault out of it, but still!
 For Powers, his Shadowseer got Fog of Dreams (force target enemy unit to fire Snap Shots and hit on 6's in CC), Mirror of Minds (Shadowseer and target model roll d6 + Ld., if the Shadowseer ties or rolls higher, target takes an unsavable Wound. Repeat until the Shadowseer loses) and Veil of Tears (drops the range of weapons targeting the Shadowseer and unit down to 2d6 x 2, a maximum of 24")

 Welp, pretty much as predicted. Good news? Jetbikes and Vehicles aplenty for my Reapers, and only two Troupes was considerably less than I'd been worried about.
 Bad news? Well, that Heroes' Path is gnarly - Infiltrate and a reliable 2+ Cover Save, if he uses Terrain carefully and aggressively, means a solid chance that that Solitaire gets close enough to get started eating my army. Yikes! That and that Warlord Trait are bad juju, and the Powers are a little extra bit of nasty, especially on a Shadowseer with Infiltrate. And, let's face it, just one Troupe can still wreck my entire army :P
 Not to mention, the Masque let's all of his Infantry Run and Charge in the same turn, after turn one. That there, that's gonna be rough. Starweaver 6" move, disembark 6", run d6 (Fleet), Charge 2d6 (Fleet) = *minimum* 15" Charges, but a worst-news-for-me Charge up to 30" (!)

 But, that makes a game of it. Good!
 Terrain was yet another bonus my way, we roll d3 for each 2'x2' section, and five of the six came up with only one piece of terrain, while the final corner wound up with three.
 We both enjoy the cinematic aspect of the game, so we went mostly with big ruins and left the streets clear, but many of those ruins had solid LoS blocking hunks. Win/loss there, excellent firing lanes, but what terrain there was would more than likely block critical shots and get him just that much closer...

 I won the Roll-Off for table-sides, and actually picked the side with less terrain, to give me room to maneuver, and force him out of Cover if he didn't quite make the charge.
 I lost the roll to go first, but he gave me first turn so he could counter-deploy, one of the few advantages he'd have.

 Here's my Deployment - Reapers spread out to minimize blind spots, Sh. Cannons forward, Scatterbikes back, and Hawks in Reserve. That green die is my Objective (stupid marker, I had better, shame on me!)

 Here's his Deployment, as much out of LoS as he can get - both Troupes are in Staweavers. His Warlord is seen here perched on the back of one - interestingly, the more exposed of the two. His Objective is in the bottom inner corner of that center ruin. The Voidweaver is aiming to hit me with all three guns ASAP.
 He rolled to Seize, but rolled a 4. Phwew! Also rolled no Night Fight. Which, with my vastly superior range, yay!

 Then, his Infiltrators. Clooooose, too close for comfort - and all in Terrain for those 2+ Cover Saves...  That Solitaire especially is worrisome, because he can just camp out back there and force me to either come after him or let him juice up his Blitz. The Death Jester's (on the rocks, blending) Leadership shenanigans also are going to be a problem. Yipes!

 Top of Turn 1 (pic above is actually after my turn), even with all my advantages, I still needed to start doing damage ASAP - so my Reapers inched up, to angle shots on whatever was exposed. Shuri-bikes moved up to - hopefully - take out that Solitaire, while my Scatterbikes hung back.

 My leftmost Reapers took a shot at the Voidweaver. It was in a Ruin for the 4+ Cover, but hitting on 2+ and Glancing on a 2+, I did a solid 3 Penetrating Hits. He saved one, but with only two HP, that was all she wrote. My rightmost Reapers sniped an exposed Starweaver, but he rolled hot, and my devastating volley landed but one Pen., for which I tragically rolled a 4, which with the +1 for Open Topped gave me a measly Weapon Destroyed - leaving the Starweaver both alive and able to move normally. Curses!
 My two units of Shuri-bikes laid into the Solitaire, but his 2+ and my terrible to-hits left him at full strength (uh oh!)
 My last unit of Reapers took aim at his Death Jester with their S5 shots, why not? I got lucky, scoring one Wound, but the Jester lived!

 Not an amazing turn, but a solid start. Jetbike moves put my bikes where they are in the picture above, doing their best to hide. Also, made a zillion Dangerous Terrain checks! Boo-yah!

 Harlequins turn 1, here they come!

 The Starweavers moved a little slower than expected, but hid better, and the Shadowseer and Solitaire went balls-to-the-wall. Partly to get them closer for Turn 2, but partly to bait me into sinking shots into those 2+ saves...
 In the Psychic Phase, he cast Mirror of Minds, angling for my Farseer. I rolled my pile of dice, and failed to Deny (even on 4+! Uh oh...) but! He only passed with 1 die, so it was Randomly Allocated - we called a 1, 2, 3, or 4 would be the corresponding Scatterbike, while a 5 was my Warlord, re-roll 6's.
 He rolled a 5.
 Well... Crap! He really wanted to tackle my Farseer! With equal Ld. 10, it was a straight roll-off... And I won! First roll, yes!
 In shooting, my near unit of Shuri-bikes took fire from the Death Jester, they Jinked, and made all of their saves!
...buuuut, then got a beating from the Skyweavers - dropping all but one of them. Ouch!

 There's a little turn confusion here - the picture above is mid-way through my Turn 2. Refer back for that solo Scatterbike (on the rock) and the new position of that larger Shuri-bike unit on the ruin. Everything else just shuffled a little bit.

 Turn 2... Let's pause - I shot stuff, but I threw one fateful handful of dice at the table, and this happened!

 What? What?!

 What the- what does that mean? Do I win? Did I freeze time? Is it a sign? A warning?!
 In any case, I re-rolled it. But WHOA!

 Anyway - Turn 2. I had a pretty solid Turn 1, and I'm not in terrible shape. Only a couple models down, and little chance of eating a charge next turn. Still, momentum or bust!

 Starting things off, my solo Shuri-bike passed Leadership, staying the course. Good on you, buddy :)
 To help, my Hawks came in. First time all my Reserves have ever come in Turn 2! 
 I made a mistake Deploying them, the Grenade Pack doesn't require LoS, but I wanted to minimize the Scatter when I threw it at the Skyweavers. With AP4 and Ignores Cover, even wounding on 4+, the Bikes would get no defense against it. The mistake was that I *have* to shoot the rest of the unit at the same target that got grenaded, if possible. Since the Grenade doesn't require LoS, you can set yourself up to shoot a different target, but I didn't. At T4, the Skyweavers aren't an ideal target for the Hawks' S3 flashlights (I'd placed them to take out that Solitaire), but with 3 shots per dude, it's still something!
 In the end, the Grenade did one Wound (bad Scatter) and the Hawk's shooting did a good chunk of Wounds, and three went through unsaved! Really appreciated the S5 Hawk's Talon on the Exarch here, first time it's mattered in a game :D
 The middle group of Reapers finished off the last two bikes. Score! He did pop his Mirage Launchers, but a 4+ is still only a 4+

 The good news kept coming here - my Scatterbikes (Guided) laid into the Solitaire, hitting with every single shot, and scored an overwhelming pile of Wounds. Even so, with thirteen Wounds, he failed exactly three saves - so it sure was close!
 My leftmost Reapers gunned down the Warlord's wounded Starweaver, forcing them to disembark - they ran straight for the central Ruin to avoid the other Scatterbikes.
 Here, he asked if I "had any Template weapons," and I said "Nope," so he deployed the Warlord's Troupe in a tight, LoS-minimizing blob - I then remembered my single EML had a Blast shot! Two blasts with an Exarch, no less.

 Gentleman's game, right? So I told him that and asked if he wanted to re-deploy his tight bunch - which of course he did. Fair's fair :) so my Blasts were (if unscattered) hitting 2 Harlies per shot instead of five, much better.
 Even so, my Reapers with the EML killed four Harlies (that 5++ wasn't doing anyone any favors...) and my full size Shuri-bike unit (Guided) finished them off. Slay the Warlord to me!

  My Lone Shuri-bike, having Jinked, jumped onto the Jester's rock (passed Dangerous Terrain) snap-shot, and then went all-in and Assaulted!
 ...for a truly uninspiring tied combat! Out of which the Jester Hit & Ran. Aw well. At least he didn't just die in Overwatch ;)

 (That center Starweaver is dead now, we just left the model there because it was just Wrecked without exploding, don't get confused in later photos)

  So, that turn was AWESOME! The Jester survived, running back to his home Objective, while the Shadowseer took no damage. But, Skyweavers gone, Solitaire gone, Starweaver gone, Warlord and one Troupe gone. All in all, excellent.
 And, exactly the kind of devastating turn that was pretty unavoidable for Harlequins in this scenario :/ still, this one was arguably especially brutal - and the single biggest turning point of the game, at this point, there was little chance of a surprise Harlequin victory. But it ain't over yet!

 Harlequins - Turn 2.
 He was mad at those Hawks - oh boy was he ever! He moved to Assault with his Shadowseer, shifted the surviving Starweaver into cannon range, and took aim with his Death Jester. It was a ten-man unit with an Exarch, but first out of the gate the Exarch's head exploded from as especially nasty Mirror of Minds cast, that I again failed to Deny - this time with enough Successes to choose his first target. The Exarch fell, and then another Hawk before I made my roll off. Then the Death Jester shot, taking out another one (but they held! Despite having to survive the Death Jester's Death Is Not Enough test at Ld. 7, without the Exarch re-roll. Woo!) and then the Starweaver fired its cannons, but did not damage.
 All throughout, I rolled some *hot* saves :D
 Who knew a 4+ actually worked?

 Then, the bad stuff - the Shadowseer charged. He made the charge easily, took no wounds in Overwatch, and with his far superior Strength, Initiative and Weapon Skill laid into my poor Hawks. But, as luck would have it, I passed my Fear test, made a couple saves, and only lost two!
 In return, their piddly return attacks resulted in few hits or Wounds, but it was just enough to get through that 5++ and deal one Wound. Lost Combat by 1, but passed my Ld. again!
 Locked in combat, but could be worse :)

 In my Turn 3, I zipped my Shuri-bike up to take his home Objective (woo! Obsec!)

 In the Psychic Phase, I cast Prescience on my Warlord and his Scatterbikes, in case they got Assaulted, and actually moved them aggressively forward to bait the Troupe into doing just that. Rather than using Hit & Run to jump from unit to unit and take my army apart, I wanted his wave to break against my hardest target and be able to stop his charge there.

 Otherwise, I did some shuffling. My only real target was the last Starweaver (the Death Jester was hidden at the time) so I shot it, and I shot it good. I shot the crap outta that thing.
 But, as before, it Wrecked in the first volley and didn't explode, so his Troupe actually escaped, with their Disembark move just barely squeezing them out of LoS of any of my remaining shooting. Curses!

 Short turn, that one. In our combat, the Hawks again passed Fear, but both sides did terribly and whiffed, for another drawn combat, but far less exciting this time. I used
 But then, the Shadowseer Hit & Ran out of combat - gunning straight for my Warlord! Ah! Did not see that coming... My opponent just looked at me with this wicked, slow-spreading smile: "He's going to eat your Overwatch" he said, with an evil clown laugh.

 ...There wasn't really an evil clown laugh, but work with me here, ok?

 Harlequins, Turn 3 -
 After that Hit & Run, the Shadowseer and Troupe popped out of the bushes and got ready to wreck my face. At this point I was seriously questioning positioning my Warlord like that. Yikes!

 His Psychic Phase started off gnarly, triggering Mirror of Minds again, and again I failed to Deny on 4+ (c'mon, man! Charge your battery off shocky the Assault Marine or something!) and he passed with two Successes, again getting to pick his fist target.
 Here, he surprised me - rather than try to chew through the Warlord's Ld. 10 and three Wounds, he opted to try to cut down on my Overwatch by taking out Scatterbikes. But, like a champ, the first one passed his roll with a 6! Boom!

 Out of revenge, the Death Jester claimed, in no uncertain terms, that this was HIS house - the lone Shuri-bike finally having had enough and going on with his dirt nap.

 All that was left was the Assaults - the Shadowseer easily made range, but in a use-it-or-lose-it moment, I unloaded Overwatch on him. With four Scatterbikes and Prescience, it was some serious Dakka, even hitting on 6's. I scored a half a dozen Wounds, and even with his 4+ Cover (Stealth and Shrouded :P) there was only so much his Psychic Champion could take.
 Still - mission accomplished, the Troupe was free to rain on my parade without fear of Overwatch, and they did so with gusto and aplomb...

 Excuse the models, that's four Harlequin's Kisses (1x attack becomes S6, AP2, ID on a 6) and an Embrace (d3 S6 Hammer of Wrath hits). They may not look like much, but with two CC Weapons, a high base Attacks stat, and the Charge, they're not messing around - below is hits (green for Kiss attacks)

 Ouch! Can I weather that?

 Yes and no! My Warlord survives, with but one Wound remaining! And in return attacks, smacks one space-clown down with his Witchblade...

 At this point, we'd been slow-playing (not on purpose, we were both having fun!) and lost track of where we were. I asked what turn it was, and he said "Turn 5."
 I may have been wrong about turn order here, but going through it, I think it was actually Turn 3! Oops!
 In any case, I said he should go ahead and roll to see if we got a Turn 6 - which we did not - so we called it then and there.

 I had my home Objective (3 pts)

 And he had his (3pts). But, I also had Slay the Warlord for 1 more. But this was the moment where I realized that I had only won by 1 point, and even that by the skin of my teeth! One more of several saves failed, and we would have tied on Warlord!

 Still, it was Turn 3 (4 at most), and my Hawks and small Scatterbike unit would have gunned for his DZ and worn down his Death Jester and taken that Objective with one more turn. And had his Troupe won that fight, they would have been staring down the barrels of nine Dark Reapers, with no Cover to protect them.
 I'm perfectly content with a close game, he played brilliantly in a really tough match-up and scenario, and really came close to taking me out despite my numerous advantages.

 I think had I been building the list, I might have gone for as many Troupes and Starweavers as I could, trading out the Heroes Path and the Skyweavers. I had the tools to take them down, but they were still by far the two most successful and effective units in our game, and would have give him the one thing he was hurting for most: numbers.
 But, then again, he could also have kept the Solitaire hidden for one more turn, and had the Shadowseer move-Psychic-run and hide for a turn or two, and kept them alive while making me come after them.
 Of course, maybe that would have worked, maybe not. It was much closer than I expected even without that!

 So, a victory for my by 1 point, and I hope I got a 5 for Sportsmanship, because it really was a blast of a game :) but I do know I took a ding for my painting, having fielding multiple units with only the three-color Tournament minimum, much to my shame.
 Ah well, who knows what the next battle holds?

 This whole game felt like a metaphor for the struggle of the Eldar - a battle for their very souls. Discipline and measured ferocity against the darkest recesses of their hearts. Throughout the game, my army calmly and methodically cut their own dark sides to pieces.
 ...Only to find, at the very end, a knife at their throat. Victory, only the barest thread away from defeat. An eyeless mask covering a face of unknown horrors - maybe blank, uncaring at the slaughter. Maybe twisted with glee as blood sprayed in the war-torn air.

 Th last thing they felt was their own dark side, whispering in their ears-

 I am here. I will always be here. You can't get rid of me. 
 And when you least expect it - I will tear out your heart...

 Anyone else just feel a chill?