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Eye of Terror: From the Jungle to the Gate
Introduction <> Battle #1 <> Battle #2 <> Battle #3 <> Final Thoughts
Eye of Terror:
From the Jungle to the Gate--Battle #2 ("Tomb Raid")
A furious wind howled across the barren landscape of Hydra Xylen. Sand and rock buffeted a small shuttlecraft that bobbed along close the ground, desperate to stay aloft. The occupants of the craft braced themselves against the sides of the vehicle, most of them praying to their foul gods that they would survive the journey.
Arvaal the Heretic peered through the murky darkness, straining to see any landmark. He stood next to the shuttle’s pilot, Rai Nagtrishul, former Fighting Tiger of Veda, now a Red Corsair and Arvaal’s right-hand man. With them in the shuttle were Sergeant Lucan and a squad of his Guardsmen, all of whom had torn the Imperial Eagle from their uniforms and replaced it with the eight-armed symbol of Chaos.
Lucan glowered at Arvaal. “Why exactly are we here?” he demanded, the beetle-like mandibles that had recently sprung from alongside his mouth clicking in agitation. “I do not like the idea of risking my men like this, touring around the desert.”
Arvaal was about to respond when he saw what he was looking for. Ahead, through the swirling sand, was a ring of tall black monoliths, each towering over 100 feet tall.
“There,” Arvaal said, pointing. Rai yanked on the shuttle’s controls and the craft lurched in the direction Arvaal indicated. “The Eldar are reportedly seeking some artifact hidden in these ruins. It is our task to make sure they do not succeed. Now, if there are no further questions, let us see what we can find.”
“You want us to go out there, in that storm?” Lucan asked.
“You will learn that where Abaddon is concerned,” rumbled Rai, “there is no ‘want’ or ‘don’t want.’ There is only what you must do, and you do not question it.” Rai had been in a particularly foul mood lately. The Dark Eldar that he had recruited had turned on Arvaal’s Ork allies, then on Rai and his Marines. Rai had lost his left eye to a Haemonculus named Dr. Fybze, who had popped Rai’s eyeball in his mouth and swallowed it like a grape.
The shuttle landed and everyone disembarked, hunching low against the wind and moving slowly among the towering monoliths. The monoliths formed a ring around 1000 yards wide and within the circle stood several buildings and a small pyramid-shaped structure. Arvaal made for the pyramid and extracted a small silver tube from his robes.
While Lucan’s men huddled around him, trying to use the pyramid to protect themselves against the wind, Arvaal stood next to Rai and read the glowing text that scrolled across the surface of the tube. The ritual was written in an archaic language that the traitorous Guardsmen did not comprehend, so it was somewhat of a surprise when Arvaal raised his mace and began swinging, still chanting the ancient words.
With his first swing, three men fell, and by the time the others realized what was happening, two more lay dead. Rai drew his bolt pistol and shot three more through the chest. Arvaal dodged a shot from Hurtek, the plasma gunner, and smashed his head to pulp. Within seconds, only Arvaal, Rai, and Lucan remained.
Lucan looked around at the carnage and resigned himself his fate. He fell to his knees and with one mighty blow, Arvaal knocked his head from his body.
“That went well,” Rai murmured. Arvaal raised a hand to silence him. With the ritual finished, they waited to see if it had been performed correctly.
Slowly the sand consumed the bodies. Small green lights started to glow on the pyramid and little eddies formed in the sand. Suddenly, within one of the small eddies, a metallic hand shot up and began clawing the surface. All around Arvaal and Rai, more and more skeletal figures dug themselves out.
Pleased with their efforts, Arvaal and Rai ran for the shuttle. When the Eldar arrived to search for the artifact hidden in these ruins, they were going to discover an unpleasant surprise instead.
Forces of Disorder: 2000 point Necron
Above: Some of Pat's sinister Necron Warriors, ready for battle
Forces of Order: 2000 point Ulthwe Strike
One additional factor was availability of figures. As I don’t own an Eldar army, I relied on Marie Eibel, Pat’s lovely wife, to let me use hers (supplemented by some models from our pal Ted Dryer). So if some choices seem a little odd (“Why only two shuriken cannons in the Jetbike squadron?”), it’s because that’s what I had to work with.
Above: Black Storm Guardians of Ulthwe. Okay, so they're really Glittering Amethyst....
Ulthwe Strike Force Turn 1
Necron Turn 1
Ulthwe Strike Force Turn 2
Necron Turn 2
In Turn 2:
Ulthwe Strike Force Turn 3
In the Shooting Phase, Storm Guardian Squads #1 and #3 used Fleet of Foot (1" and 3", respectively), to close with their targets. The Defender Guardians opened fire on the Destroyers, wiping them out with shuriken catapults and starcannon bursts. Maugan Ra and his three Dark Reapers fired at the Immortals, killing one of them; the other Dark Reapers fired at the Flayed Ones, bringing down four of them.
In the Assault Phase, Storm Guardian Squad #3 crashed into the Flayed Ones, destroying three of the robots and losing one of their own. The Eldar and Necrons piled in as the fight continued.
Necron Turn 3
In the Shooting Phase, the Immortals fired at the Spear of Khaine, managing one wound, which was saved. Warrior Squad #1 fired at Storm Guardian Squad #3, who were now standing around in the open, the Flayed Ones having vanished before their eyes. Three Storm Guardians died. Warrior Squad #2 also fired at Storm Guardian Squad #3, killing six of them. Warrior Squad #3 moved 4" forward (over some difficult terrain) and fired at Storm Guardian Squad #1, killing seven of them. Reappearing in a twinkling, Lord Baphomet fired his Staff of Light at the Striking Scorpions, killing one.
In the Assault Phase, Warrior Squads #1 and #3 rushed the remnants of Storm Guardian Squad #3, killing seven more of them. The Eldar were fearless, however, as they were within 12" of the Avatar.
Ulthwe Strike Force Turn 4
The Jetbikes opened fire on Warrior Squad #2, downing four of the ghastly robots. Storm Guardian Squad #1 eschewed shooting to run an additional 4" toward the Necrons. The Dark Reapers under Maugan Ra unleashed a barrage into Warrior Squad #2, killing three of them. The other Dark Reapers fired into the Immortals, slaying all of them! The Eldar let out a mighty cheer and if the unfeeling Necrons could know fear, they knew it then in their cold metal hearts.
In the Assault Phase, the Jetbikes moved 6" away from the fray. Storm Guardian Squad #1 came to their brothers’ defense against Warrior Squad #3, killing two of the robots and losing one of their own. Warrior Squad #3 fell back 8", but it was too little, too late: Storm Guardian Squad #3 had been wiped out. Storm Guardian Squad #1 consolidated into the Flayed Ones.
With a roar, the Avatar charged into Warrior Squad #1, the two Warlocks following him. Two Necrons fell to the ground, but so did one of the Warlocks. Meanwhile, the Striking Scorpions decided against shooting so as to enjoy all their hand-to-hand attacks against the Flayed Ones and Lord Baphomet. The Scorpions killed four Flayed Ones, losing none of their own.
Necron Turn 4
As most of the Necrons were in hand-to-hand combat with the Eldar, there was very little activity in the Movement Phase. The unengaged members of Warrior Squad #1 plodded toward the Spear of Khaine, heedless that they would be mercilessly cut down. Warrior Squad #2 moved 6" toward Storm Guardian Squad #2, who were defending the Dark Reapers. Warrior Squad #3 continued to fall back. Destroyer Lord Thoth and his escort moved 12" toward the center of the board, and the Tomb Spyder moved toward Storm Guardian Squad #1.
The unengaged robots of Warrior Squad #1 fired at the Jetbikes, to no avail. Warrior Squad #2 had better luck against Storm Guardian Squad #2, disintegrating six of them with their Gauss rifles. Warrior Squad #3 fired at the Jetbikes and managed to down one. Lord Thoth and his retinue fired at the Black Guardian Defenders and killed seven, including the starcannon crew. The Tomb Spyder fired at the unengaged members of Guardian Storm Squad #1 but missed.
In the Assault Phase, Warrior Squad #1 lost two of their own to the Avatar, who also suffered a wound. Warrior Squad #2 charged Black Storm Guardian Squad #2, killing three of them and losing one robot. The Eldar held, and members of the two squads began to converge.
Lord Baphomet staggered under the furious blows of the Striking Scorpions, losing two Wounds and managing to bring down an Aspect Warrior. The Scorpions and Storm Guardian Squad #1 cut down two Flayed Ones, but the Necrons held. Simultaneously, a small hatch opened in the Spyder’s abdomen and a swarm of Scarabs emerged, assaulting Storm Guardian Squad #1, killing a single Eldar.
Something like a sneer of disgust crossed over the other emotionless face of Destroyer Lord Thoth as he realized that he and his escorts would be unable to charge the Guardian Defenders and were at the mercy of the Eldar’s firepower….
Ulthwe Strike Force Turn 5
Warrior Squad #2 was getting perilously close to the Dark Reapers. “Stay here,” Maugan Ra instructed his disciples. Raising the Maugetar menacingly, he trudged into the thick of the fight.
In the Shooting Phase, the Defender Guardians used Fleet of Foot to move an extra inch closer to their intended target, Warrior Squad #2, which threatened the Reapers. The Jetbikes fired at the unengaged members of Warrior Squad #1, killing six of them. More impressively, though, the Dark Reapers targeted Lord Thoth and his Destroyers, blasting all four of them out of the sky.
In the Assault Phase, Maugan Ra and the Defender Guardians came to the aid of Storm Guardian Squad #2, killing three of the Necrons. Storm Guardian Squad #2 killed another two robots, and the mechanical monsters fell back 12". The Dark Reapers were safe.
Meanwhile, the Avatar slew another Necron, but the sole Warlock alongside him fell to the robots’ superior numbers. The Striking Scorpions struggled against Lord Baphomet and the Flayed Ones, losing another Aspect Warrior. Storm Guardian Squad #1 lost their Warlock to the Scarabs and managed only to put one Wound on the little metal nuisances.
None of that mattered. The Jetbikes had the Soul Stone and, in the Assault Phase, moved another 6" closer to the edge of the board. Things were looking good for the Eldar…
Necron Turn 5
Lord Baphomet abandoned the Flayed Ones to their fate and used Veil of Darkness to whisk himself and Warrior Squad #3 into position to intercept the Jetbikes. The two surviving members of Warrior Squad #2 continued to fall back and would take no further action in the fight.
Baphomet extended a bony metal finger and the Warriors of Squads #1 and #3 directed all their fire at the Jetbikes. Only one was shot down.
In the Assault Phase, Thoth crashed into the bikers, killing the one with the Soul Stone and consolidating into the rest of the squad to halt their escape. The Avatar hacked down three more robots but suffered another wound. The Striking Scorpions and Storm Guardian Squad #1 wiped out the Flayed Ones. The Aspect Warriors moved 3" toward the center of the board, but the Guardians had been charged by the Tomb Spyder and could not move. Their screams were heard even above the din of battle….
Ulthwe Strike Force Turn 6
There were few targets for shooting, but one unit of Dark Reapers found some, killing three robots in Warrior Squad #3. Storm Guardian Squad #2 and the Defenders shot at the same, killing another Necron minion.
In hand-to-hand combat, Storm Guardian Squad #1 was torn to pieces by the Tomb Spyder and the Scarab. The Avatar killed two more Necrons and the Striking Scorpions killed two more from the squad that surrounded him. The robots struck down two Scorpions, however.
Thoth paid little mind to the Jetbikers as he tried to swat them away so that he might engage Maugan Ra. His carelessness cost him and the Necrons dearly, as a biker’s knife found a rent in his armored back, short-circuiting him. With a scream of anger and burst of wild lightning, Thoth and the few remaining Necrons disappeared, phasing out and leaving the Eldar with their prize.
Post-Game Analysis by
In that game, Pat kicked my ass. I was unfamiliar with the “Tomb Raid” scenario, unfamiliar with the Ulthwe Strike Force, unfamiliar with all the psychic powers and wargear that the pointy-ears use. I had written up the army to stand and shoot: unfortunately, the mission required me to move to the center of the board. I had seriously misjudged the Seer Council’s ability in hand-to-hand combat (they’re tough, but don’t hit all that hard). I had several squads fail Morale checks and fall back into the wraithgate because I forgot to use Embolden. I forgot to use the Striking Scorpions’ mandiblasters. And so on.
I’m not shy about posting battle reports where I get my ass kicked, but if I am going to post such a report, I want to pass along some lessons I’ve learned to other players. In that first game, the only lesson learned was that I desperately needed more practice, because I played so poorly that it wasn’t worth anyone’s time to write up the game.
I re-wrote my list, adding some more hand-to-hand ability, and studied Codex: Eldar. This is not to say that we got it perfect in this game, either. I forgot to use the Eldritch Storm ability that the waystone gives you, and I think we forgot the Flayed Ones’ Terrifying Visage ability. But clearly, this game went much better, and not just because I won.
So how did I manage to win this one? In the first game, I had tried really hard to get the objective while attempting to win a shoot-out with Pat’s Necrons. In this game, I tried to get into hand-to-hand combat with the Bots ASAP (to negate their shooting) and didn’t worry so much about the objective.
A few units really did well. The Spear of Khaine, which took the place of the Seer Council, didn’t kill all that many Necrons, but it did suck up an entire volley of fire from the Immortals (in Turn 3) and tied up a Warrior Squad in hand-to-hand, which helped negate their shooting. If I ever play the USF again, I’ll definitely take the Spear over the Council every time!
Two other units that I think worked really well were Maugan Ra and the Jetbikes (that sounds like the name of a doo-wop group, doesn’t it?). Maugan Ra just rocks: he blasts great big holes into bad guys from the other side of the board, he butchers folks in hand-to-hand combat, and he looks damn cool doing it. Kind of like Dirty Harry with a shuriken cannon: “Go ahead, punk—make my day.” He just became my favorite Phoenix Lord.
Lots of Eldar players complain about Jetbikes, but I was really happy with mine. They were a perfect counterattack force, appearing right in the middle of the field, zooming in close to the bad guys, unloading a lot of firepower (16 catapult shots, [re-rolling misses] + 6 cannon shots), then zipping out of charge range. I think the fact that I had a full ten in a squadron really helped matters: “Everything counts in large amounts.”
Speaking of large amounts, the 80 Black Guardians were invaluable. I used so many Guardians that I had to borrow some of my Dark Eldar Warriors to fill out squads. In the first game, failed Morale checks killed me; in this one, I didn’t have a single squad fall back. Embolden is a wonderful power, if one remembers to use it.
Pat played well but got hosed by the Reserve rolls. In the first game, his Scarabs came on early and tied up my Dark Reapers, which I had stupidly left unscreened by Guardians. That seriously crippled my firepower. In this game, however, the Scarabs never showed up at all, and Pat missed their mobility and tenacity.
The play of the game was in Turn 3, when the Immortals shot their wad at the Spear of Khaine and came up with bupkiss. At that point, Pat had a huge swarm of Bots behind my Eldar, which necessitated me turning my army around to deal with them lest I have my escape route sealed off. Had the Immortals taken out the Avatar, the Necrons would have marched through my army like Sherman through Atlanta and I’m certain Pat would have won. The Avatar held up the Necrons long enough for me to send other units (the Jetbikes, the Striking Scorpions) to break their line.
In my humble opinion, Pat made only two mistakes. The first was that he danced Lord Baphomet around a bit too much. While I understand that the Veil of Darkness provides some much-needed mobility to the Necrons, I think Pat would have been better off to use the Veil more sparingly and put Baphomet’s formidable hand-to-hand combat prowess to better use.
His second mistake was that he allowed the Flayed Ones to be charged on two separate occasions, in Turn 3 and Turn 4, by heavy-hitting assault units (Storm Guardians and Striking Scorpions, respectively). It also didn’t help, as I mentioned, that we forgot about their Terrifying Visage ability.
Over to Pat….
Post-Game Analysis (Fifty Words On Why
I Hate Reserve Rolls) by
So why didn’t I field larger squads? Because those were all the figures I had at the time. The first thing I did after this battle was go out and buy two more Destroyers so I’d have two squads of four. You can never assume that a Lord with an Orb or proximity of another squad will be enough to keep your squads alive.
Also, it would have been a much different battle had I brought the Monolith. We agreed before the game that it would be too unbalancing because the Eldar would be hard-pressed to scratch its surface, but with the stupid Reserve rolls, I think it would have been all right.
I should also keep in mind that this was only my seventh battle with the Necrons. It takes time and lots of game play to know all the ins and outs of your army without referencing your codex (think about how much better Kenton did between the first and second time we played this scenario). Still, not remembering the Terrifying Visage of the Flayed Ones was inexcusable. I had my best hand-to-hand unit in close combat with his and allowed him to win by not using my only advantage. At the very least, the Flayed Ones may have held out one or two turns longer and prevented Phase Out.
As far as the battle went, I did all right given the parameters I had to deal with and the forces I had available. I probably concentrated too much on the Avatar at the beginning, but as Kenton noted, if I had been successful, I would have marched through his army. Kenton deserves credit for this win for learning from his mistakes from our first attempt at this battle and constructing a much better force for the second attempt.
If we were to play this again, I
would drop the Scarabs and Tomb Spyder and bring more Warrior squads and
larger Destroyer squads. I think this scenario relies so much on luck that
you really can’t feel too bad if you lose (either as the Attacker or Defender).
I do have to say that Necrons can be a frustrating army to play when you
know that at any point in the game, your entire army is in danger of disappearing.
I look forward to getting more experience with the army by playing more
games with them…preferably without Reserve rolls.
Posted August 2003
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