40k: 8th Edition League Round 3: Ynnari/Aeldari vs. "Imperium"

Hey folks! It's that time again - Round 3!
Please bear with me on this one, while I still have plenty of commentary, I didn't take notes (!) and it was a super-fast game this round, so this will be less detailed than usual. But should be shorter?
The map - Spearhead Assault:

The Mission - Secure and Control:

Two Objectives (Home and Away) worth three VP each if held in the final turn. Secondary Objectives are the same, except the mission is Modified so that First Blood can only be claimed on or by a Flyer - THE FLYER MISSION! YES!

No Kill Points is good for me, and this is finally a chance - both in Points level and Mission - for me to stretch my wings with my revamped Crimson Hunter! I've wanted the model to "work" since it was released, I'm hoping 8th is where that happens. It now has a Save and far more Wounds, and can't be denied shooting from being Stunned or Shaken like in the old Edition. Maybe even more importantly, it now can be deployed at the start of any turn at my call, I don't have to roll for it. That's big!

But, will it be enough to counter the Stormraven I expect to see across the table?

Then again, I can also shoot at full BS and Charge a Flyer with any unit that can Fly - Jetbike Autarch, anyone?

 Here's my list:

Note I brought back all the big guns after last game. High-damage, high-Rend guns are just *so* good, they seem to outperform volume of shots every time. The changes from last round are leaving the Raider with the stock Dark Lance (especially since I read the rules that DA Vehicles don't treat them as Heavy), gave the Wraithlord back his Bright Lance, gave the Storm Guardians back their Fusion Guns, gave both Warriors units Blasters, and gave everyone who could take one a Fusion/Blast Pistol. Not to mention the Crimson Hunter's punishing loadout to boot.
The cost of those upgrades still left me with some points to spare, so I changed the single unit of 4 Jetbikes to two units of 3 - more triggers for Strength From Death, more Objective holders, a better screen for my Autarch.

I'm also going to be doing an experiment this game - I'll be rolling as if my Autarch had Mandiblasters. It won't impact this game, but I want to see if it has more of an impact than the Banshee Mask. The Mask hasn't come into effect even once since I've been running it, because my Autarch is never in combat for more than a round. It's a nice insurance policy, but the Mandiblasters may actually wind up performing better.
Note: In this match, it did nothing. But neither did the Banshee Mask, will test further.

My mysterious "Imperium" opponent revealed himself. I saw a tray full of tanks. I figured, sure! He's running some of those transports, but he just brought his whole collection just in case!
Then I saw the list-

Chapter Master (Bike, Armor Indomitus, Warlord, "Storm of Fire" trait)
Razorback (TL Heavy Bolter)
Razorback (TL Heavy Bolter)
Razorback (TL Assault Cannon)
Razorback (TL Assault Cannon)
Razorback (TL Assault Cannon)
Venerable Dreadnought (TL Lascannon, Missile Launcher)
Venerable Dreadnought (TL Lascannon, Missile Launcher)
Dreadnought (Assault Cannon, Fist, Flamer)
Whirlwind (Anti-armor)
Whirlwind (Anti-infantry)

*Salamanders Chapter Tactics, 1 CP (lol...)

Well...  Shit! I know I even wrote an article about how 8th Edition Detachments allow you to field just about any unit combination of units, but this was my first time seeing that in action. I mean, ONE Biker model and zero Infantry in 1250 points?
Not to mention - it's long table. With the changes (esp. making my units faster) to moving and Charging, it's realistically not that far to slog, but just far enough that I'm going to be on the back-foot. Here's Deployment:

Note the two Objectives, one in each deployment zone. Also note, all those tanks are red :P
First Yellow Raven Guard, now Red Salamanders! Also note that the orange ramp on the upper left-ish had another Dreadnought deployed in it, I snapped this photo too soon.

I finished deploying first, holding my Crimson Hunter in reserve, and got first turn, and he did not Seize. Or choose to use his one and only Command Point to try again.

Now, I already made several major mistakes that hurt me badly this game: first, nearly all of my stuff is short to medium ranged and up-close focused. I KNOW I should always deploy on the very, very edge of boards like this. And in this game I should have Advanced everything first turn and eaten the shooting, just to be in a better position turn 2. It also hurt me a lot that we mostly placed terrain as if it wasn't a long-table mission, I didn't even think about Line of Sight blocking during that step (which is blindingly stupid in hindsight :P)
But, this is my first time facing Razorbacks in 8th, and I had no idea how ineffectual my shooting would be early on.

Turn 1: Aeldari

Another mistake - I ran my Crimson Hunter off to the side. While it was absolutely the right choice to bring it in turn 1, it was real dumb to not put it close to my Autarch to benefit from those re-rolled 1's.

But, in my Turn 1 I moved everything up, shot all of my longer-ranged weapons, and Advanced with my Infantry on the right. I got up the board at a good clip, but I was still barely in range with most weapons. In the Psychic Phase, I Guided and Fortuned my Wraithknight, hoping to get some use out of that Bright Lance.

I split all of my shooting between the double-Assault Cannon Razorback (center) and the nearest one behind the wall (because that's the one I wanted to be shooting at first, with the 2+ :P)

I brought the double-cannon one down to 2 HP, which was pretty good, but I had *atrocious* rolls. A Crimson Hunter's loadout should be enough, with decent rolls, to take out a Razorback in a single round of shooting. I did not have good rolls, missing half of my shots and failing to Would with one of the Pulse Laser hits. Then rolling 2's for damage. The Dark Lance on the Raider and Bright Lance on the Wraithlord plinked off some of the last, barely failing to drop that one, while the Jetbikes shaved a few HP off of the one in cover.

Turn 1: Marines

Return fire was predictably brutal, with the above being my casualties from Imperium Turn 1. Losing the Infantry was expected facing that many heavy-shot guns, but losing that many Jetbikes was bad. I couldn't roll saves at all!

Losing the full 3-man unit granted Imperium First Blood (since they Fly), and gave me the option to Soulburst, which I used to shoot with the surviving unit of Jetbikes, because my other option was to Advance my Autarch and have him be hanging by himself for a turn.

I also got to see those Lascannons in full fury, with the Dreadnoughts putting out 2 Lascannon and 1 Krak Missile shot each, and re-rolling 1 to-hit and 1 to-Wound every turn thanks to Salamander's Chapter Tactics. That came up every. Single. Time they fired, netting a truly massive increase in damage output. The rest of those units were also re-rolling to-hit because they were within the Chapter Master's bubble, and he had the Storm of Fire Warlord Trait, meaning any to-hit (or was it Wound?) roll of a 6+ was at one better Rend (Rend -1 becomes Rend -2, etc)

Aside from the casualties above, he also tagged my Crimson Hunter for a full 10 HP, leaving it with 2 (!) and significantly de-clawed. Crap.

Turn 2: Aeldari

In my Turn 2, I again came up fast, Advancing what was left of my Infantry (after losing two Storm Guardians to a Morale check), and fired again. This time I'd Guided my Crimson Hunter and was able to cast Smite on the in-cover Razorback, as well as Fortune on my Wraithlord. With Smite, I was super proud to have rolled 10+ for the D6 damage, and rolled a 2. I was so grumpy at my dice at this point that I Command Re-rolled my D6 and got a 3. SMDH - worth it!

In the picture above, you can just barely see my Jetbikes and Autarch behind the Hunter. My Autarch shot at the Dreadnought, doing respectable damage, while the Hunter, damaged as it was, was able to finish off the 2 HP Razorback - barely. And it didn't Explode, sadly.

Turn 2: Marines

In the Imperium's Turn 2, the Dreadnought here jumped down, and shot at the Jetbikes, along with some other units, trying to clear them so heavier guns could shoot the Autarch. The Crimson Hunter was easily taken down by a Whirlwind, but didn't Explode (whew!)

He also cleared my Raider, with that increased Rend and re-rolls to-hit making an enormous difference in damage output! The resulting explosion killed two of the Warriors embarked in it - yikes.

On the plus side, the Soulburst from losing the Jetbikes allowed me to shoot the Dreadnought with the Autarch again, bringing it to dangerously low health. And the Soulburst from losing the Raider let Eldrad polish off the other damaged Razorback with a lucky Smite!

Shortly after this, he easily finished off both Infantry units, leaving my Visarch to Soulburst away. Here, I would have preferred to Advance forward, but where he was at the time, the two surviving Jetbikes were still just a tiny bit closer to units that hadn't fired, so I opted to leave him further back to save from some of the shooting coming his way.

Then, the Dreadnought Charged (!) and used it's S... 13? Power Fist to really punish my Autarch. I got lucky here in that he failed a couple hits, but landing for 3 Damage each, I still took too many hits. I got SUPER lucky making all but 1 4++ Invul save, but since that one Wound going through would do 3 Damage (half of the Autarch's health), I opted to CP re-roll it - and passed! WOO!

I want to point out that this is my final CP re-roll of the 6 I started with, and at the bottom of TURN 2 - I'd been rolling so badly that I had to use them, and still was getting awful rolls, with this one exception :P

But, here's the kicker. In return Combat, my Autarch finished off the Dreadnought, and the #$%@ing thing Exploded! For THREE Mortal Wounds! Had I not re-rolled that one save, that would have outright killed my Autarch! Hence why I took that photo above, and why I kept it even though it's blurry as crap.

Top of 3, my turn with my much-reduced army. I still have my Autarch, mostly, an undamaged Wraithlord, Eldrad and the Visarch. It's not much, but it's something. And, barring the Crimson Hunter, it's all my toughest and hardest-hitting units still standing. So there's hope?

On the downside though, all I've taken out are three Razorbacks and a Dreadnought, there's plenty more where that came from. And I'm quickly losing the battle of attrition. What's worse, I can't even fall back on my home Objective because it's smack in the middle of a killing field (oops).

My only option is to play very aggressive, which I'm perfectly happy to do. But will it be enough?

Turn 3: Aeldari

This shot perfectly sums up my positioning all game - just a little too far back, just a little too late. Not going fast enough on that first turn killed me, because I needed to be making my Charges and firing, with without Advancing, I was juuuuuust out of position. When I first moved my Autarch to shoot the first Dreadnought, he was 2" out of Melta range AND out of range to shoot with the Laser Lance. Same situation here, so I missed out on two turns where that critical 2d6 Damage and whole extra shooting attack might have turned the tide, just a little.

Then, to make matters worse, I failed Fortune AND Doom, and *barely* pulled off Smite with exactly a 5, and dealt a whopping 1 Wound to the nearest Razorback. Goddammit.
In shooting, the Wraithlord whiffed, the Autarch did very little damage.

Last, but not least, I failed the Charge with my Autarch, meaning he's just there with his wounded butt hanging out and a still-quite-potent wall of guns in his face. On the other hand, my Visarch did make the Charge, but largely failed to Wound (dangit, Doom...) leaving me in an arguably worse position than before.

I'd been getting really bad rolls all game, but this was the turn where it really felt like it. Holy hell.

Turn 3: Marines

In the Marines turn, the one saving grace was that the Razorback the Visarch was engaged with had to Retreat, so it wouldn't be shooting. That was good, but I should have been able to knock two of them out of shooting with the Autarch's Charge.

In shooting, the Visarch tanked nobly, but went down in the first volley from the anti-infantry Whirlwind. That left other shooting to neatly polish off the Autarch, and a single Dreadnought nailed the Wraithlord for EIGHT damage (!)
Only Eldrad was spared. And now I'm going in to Turn 4 with nothing but a mostly-dead Wraithlord and Eldrad. Balls.

Turn 4: Aeldari

I hit the Wraithlord with Fortune - or tried, before failing again. And then got but one more lowly Wound with Smite, and failed Doom. Theme, much? Keep in mind, these Psychic Phases include Eldrad's mighty once-per-phase re-roll of 1 or both dice. Harrumph.

I Charged, this time mercifully making the Charge with all that was left of my battered army, and actually did a significant amount of damage, with Eldrad's weapon doing the lion's share, while the Wraithlord hitting on 5+ fell a bit short. But still, it wasn't enough to bring it down.

Turn 4: Marines

This is my final shot of the game - predictably the Marines were easily able to polish off my forces, with so much firepower still left on the table. Even the last Assault Cannon Razorback did some damage, hitting on 5+ after taking that much damage.

Final score: Eldar 0, "Salamanders" 5, having gotten First Blood, Slay the Warlord, and the 3 pt Objective they'd held all game. Huff!

Closing thoughts-

Holy Magnus' flaming ballsack was that BRUTAL!
8th Edition is all about synergy - I have some in my army with the Autarch and Soulburst, and it's potent, but this was the first time I'd seen a list build with this dramatic a single-minded purpose. The Salamander's Chapter Tactic on those Dreadnoughts came up *every single turn,* much to my detriment. And the Chapter Master's re-roll bubble on that many guns was nuts. The gravy that was Storm of Fire played a role as well, removing more than a few of my saves with "weaker" guns.

The Mission also played well to this. The narrow Deployment Zones allowed that boxy deathbox to have clear shots to all the important places, while easily staying within the Chapter Master's aura. Our choice of terrain also fed right into those tactics, I really don't know what I was thinking.

But let's talk about some other things - who the HELL thought TL Assault Cannons needed to be Heavy TWELVE?! Especially while rocking Rend -1? What were you thinking, mysterious far-off stranger! Didn't AC's use to be Heavy 4? Or am I mis-remembering that? Heavy 8 would be bad enough, but freaking TWELVE?
And Salamander's Chapter Tactics are incredible, especially on Dreadnoughts, but just in general really. While most of the vehicles in this army didn't benefit, the Dreadnoughts sure did - and a flat re-roll to hit and to-Wound on that kind of heavy ranged firepower is ludicrously good. Seriously, every single volley a failed Hit and a failed Wound were turned into successes. It was enough of an uphill fight without that, but that really did me in. It didn't help that he kept rolling 6's for Damage - but hey, dice game :)

As for my army...  You know, it's not a stellar list, missing most Transports and long-range, but I did have the tools to take on an enemy list like that. Had I gotten right up in his grill a turn, or even two turns, before I did, it could easily have been a different story. But I didn't.
There are a dozen what-ifs in this one, but the long and short of it is that I felt like a *could* have won, and what actually happened is the absolute worst the game could have gone for me. And even with that, I face a hard-counter, long-table, where I'd screwed up Terrain, Deployment, and the first turn, and I still took it down to half-strength. Even if that took everything I had.

This was a very brutal, very quick game against a brand-new opponent who I enjoyed meeting and playing. I just brought a big pack of coyotes against a guy who'd come loaded for multiple armies of bears, which is my fault.
I'll chock this one up as my kharmic retribution for last League I played, where we played almost this same mission but I brought 800 points of Dark Reapers against Harlequins. Ouch. I still feel bad about that one, Schneider!

Ah well, I'll get my head in the game for the next round!