Friday, January 1, 2010

Retrospective: 1 Aug ’09 Counteroffensive VI (Game 2)

Opponent: Mike “St. Omerville” (Wraith-heavy “Iyanden” Eldar) My long-time whipping boy, Mike had managed to convince himself over many years that I was unbeatable. Just because he’d never yet managed to beat me was no reason to think such a silly thing, but you know how some people are. I figure at least part of the reason is that Mike has a fondness for using wildly wacky lists, and so far as I can remember, will test the latest iteration against me to see how effective they are. So far the answer has been: not so much. At any rate, he had been trying for a while to make his foot-slogging, Wraith-heavy Iyanden list work, and so we gave it a go at Counteroffensive.

Army: (1500 points)
  • 1x Farseer with Fortune and some other fiddly bits
  • 1x Yriel (special character)
  • 1x 10 Wraithguard, led by Warlock with Conceal
  • 2x Wraithlords with Missile Launcher and Scatter Laser (each)
  • 2x 10 Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents

Mission: “Seize Ground” (objectives) and Pitched Battle (12” deployment). Two objectives were on Mike’s side of the table, near the center, and two objectives were on my side of the table, one on either flank.

Terrain: Loads of low-level jungle terrain everywhere on the table. Essentially, there’s no terrain that completely blocks LOS anywhere, but pretty much everything getting shot at, or assaulting, will be faced with doing so through cover.

What happened?
I set up first, and split my army into two halves: 2 units of the Brave (Fire Warriors), one of Scouts (Pathfinders) and unit of suits on each flank, and my third unit of suits (in this case, Ranger/Crisis Suits, with the HQ) in the center. Mike set up his Wraithguard as far forward as possible, in the middle of his deployment zone, with Farseer and Yriel joined to the unit, and two Wraithlords standing behind. Both units of Dire Avengers began off the table, in reserve.

My firepower was decent in the first turn, and with the markerlights taking away cover saves, I was able to kill 3 Wraithguard and wound a Wraithlord. Mike did no damage, and simply moved up. In turn two, I killed the wounded Wraithlord, but with Fortune now up, only took out one Wraithguard. Mike promptly tanked his Fortune psychic test, leaving his Wraithguard unit without Fortune in turn 3, and reserved in one Dire Avenger unit.

I unloaded both transports of the Brave (FW) at rapid-fire range, and between them and the support fire from further back, wiped out all the Wraithguard, and left both HQs badly wounded – doing the Happy Dance all the while. Mike gritted his teeth, brought his second unit of Dire Avengers in, and promptly wiped out three of my four units of the Brave (Dire Avengers) – Yriel and the Seer shredded one, one unit of Dire Avengers blew away a second, and the last Wraithlord waded in with flamers and close combat and shattered the third. I was down to one scoring unit!

I spent the fourth turn trying to drop Yriel and the Seer with firepower, but Yriel managed to survive the torrent of remaining firepower, wiping my last scoring unit in close combat, then diving into cover to avoid being shot by my suits. In the last two turns (5 and 6) I managed to kill both Wave Serpents, and kill 16 of 20 Dire Avengers with my suits, even as the surviving Wraithlord hung back and took pot-shots at my Scouts (Pathfinders), but I simply could not wipe out the gone-to-ground Dire Avengers – I simply didn’t have the firepower, and as they were gone-to-ground near an objective, they didn’t need to move, and wouldn’t flee. Mike was left with Yriel, four Dire Avengers, and a Wraithlord – but also the victory.

Turning the Tables.
I thoroughly underestimated the combat prowess of Yriel, and what I should have been doing from the start was very simple: concentrating fire on Wraithguard until they dropped. My army is designed to suck up return fire and essentially ignore it, and ignoring the Wraithlords is something I should have been doing from the start. In all, the one surviving Wraithlord killed a grand total of 12 models over 6 turns, an average of 2 per turn. Yriel was wiping out 12 models per assault phase, and needed to be put down – and I didn’t realize until much too late that the Wraithguard were simply a Yriel-delivery-system.

Too, I completely ignored the mission objectives, to my detriment, and sacrificed too many of my scoring units in order to get rid of enemy units. I should have been using the transports to block counter-assaults, keeping other scoring units further back (keeping in mind that Eldar can fleet-of-foot!), etc.

Third, I thoroughly flubbed the order in which I was firing weapons at the ablative-wounds-Wraithguard unit. I should have been whittling them away with Pulse Rifle fire FIRST, and then following up with insta-kill weapons that would have to be allocated to HQ models LATER. The fact that I was doing things in reverse simply meant that Mike was taking all the nasty shots on expendable Wraithguard, and taking armor saves on the less destructive S5 hits.

In the end, with a Tau army list, it’s all about Target Priority. Kudos to Mike for reminding me of that.

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