King of the Hill II
King of the Hill Part Deux: Battle #2 by Patrick Eibel and Kenton Kilgore
In this campaign (a follow-up to the one we did last year), we’re test-driving some of the more recent codices to see how they fare against each other. Last time out, the Space Wolves fought the Dark Eldar to a tie; let’s see how their Craftworld cousins fare against the Necrons.
Yblis’ Centurions (1998 points) by Kenton Kilgore
I bought this army from Pat many years ago, and for quite a while, they were chumps, struggling to win any battles. That changed overnight with the 6th Edition codex, and the latest version makes them even deadlier, in my opinion.
Because neither Pat nor I are pulling any punches in this campaign (it’s only about how well each army does on the table, given the models we have), I brought this abomination:
I told Pat before the game, and I’ll tell you now in no uncertain terms: this is a bullshit army. It’s simply Flyer spam that requires neither wit nor skill to use. It uses the overly-generous Decurion Detachment from the latest codex, with the Doom Scythes inflicting the major damage while the units of the Reclamation Legion seize objectives.
Is it unbeatable? Of course not. Is it something I would use against anyone other than a veteran gamer who wanted a very challenging battle? Hell no.
Lotus Storm of Impossible Contemplation (2001 points) by Patrick Eibel
Usually in this part of the battle report, we talk optimistically about how we assembled the army and what we hoped the army would do in the battle. However, we write these reports up well after the battle occurs, so we already know how well we met our goals. Permit me, then to add a little foreshadowing as I present my army list.
To begin, I was very excited to try out the new formations presented in Codex: Craftworlds. To that end, I decided to go for the big shiny Warhost formation, even though communal Internet wisdom suggested this was not the best option. Sometimes common wisdom is wrong, sometimes it is spot on. Here is what I brought:
Aspect Host (increased Ballistic Skill):
Aspect Host (increased Ballistic Skill):
I knew Kenton was going to bring Flyer spam and I tried to form a list to counter that. I made some good decisions, but also had some very wrong assumptions and the list suffered for it.
First the good choices: Dark Reapers with Ballistic Skill 5 are a must, even if they don’t have Skyfire. The Swooping Hawks were also a solid choice against Flyers, as their ability to throw haywire grenades at the zooming vehicles they fly over is pretty neat. And that is it for good choices.
The bad choices: I wrongly thought the Wraithknight had Skyfire or some ability to deal with Flyers. Alas, no. For how I played the army, the Wraithknight was little better than the vibrocannons for 200 points more. The Wraithlord was a throw-in because I noticed I was short on points. With limited firing capability and little else, he was another huge waste.
The Guardian Host was not bad per se, but I should not have used Warband Detachment. Using the big detachment gets some cute rules that buff the Guardians, Vypers and Walkers, but those rules availed me little in the onslaught of Flyer spam.
I should have taken a good old Combined Arms Detachment (CAD) from the rule book. I could even keep the same unit choices, though I would probably drop the Vypers. Using the CAD would make the Guardians objective deniers and would allow me to take an Aegis Defense Line with an ion cannon equipped with Skyfire and Interceptor. Why look, that entire block just got infinitely more useful with the Farseer manning the big gun.
I could also use the points from the Wraith Constructs to take some Wave Serpents, which even in their nerfed form present some potent shooting and would provide me the mobility to secure objectives. More later--on with the game!
Setting Up by Kenton Kilgore
We played at Pat’s house, on a 4' x 6' table with some city ruins along the edges and quite a bit of open space in between. As Pat had said in his introduction to the campaign, we would be doing the Maelstrom missions, and this time out, we rolled and came up with Contact Lost, using the standard Dawn of War deployment.
We placed our objectives and actually remembered this time that they were Mysterious. Rolling on the table, we found that Objectives 1, 2, and 3 were grav-wave generators (-2" for units attempting to charge enemy on the objective); Objective 4 was a targeting relay (re-roll “1’s” when shooting); Objective 5 was a skyfire nexus that provided the Skyfire ability to the controlling unit (this would turn out to be very significant); and Objective 6 was nothing of note.
Dicing for my Warlord Trait from the Tome of the Toasters, I came up with Enduring Will, which gave Lucifer Eternal Warrior. Consulting Codex: Goody-Two-Shoes Space Elves,
Pat got An Eye on Distant Events for his Farseer, which would provide D3 units the ability to Scout (Yippee skippy, and I don’t get to re-roll that puppy because, you know, Eldar don’t need that ability for their detachment.—Pat).
The dice decided that I would set up and go first, and that there would be Night Fighting on the first turn. My Doom Scythes started off the board (as Flyers do, of course), and I made a phalanx of Warriors around Lucifer and the Immortals, with squads deployed on Objectives 3 and 4 right off, and in position to march on Objective 2. Tomb Blades went on my left flank, to zip up the side and hopefully be protected by trees.
Pat set up two units of Dark Reapers atop a towering fortified building (3+ cover save) where Objective 5—the skyfire nexus, remember—was located. Behind the tower lurked the Wraithknight and the Swooping Hawks. The Wraithlord, more Dark Reapers, the Farseer, Guardians, War Walkers, and vibrocannon spread out, culminating in Vypers and two more Guardian squads along Pat’s left flank, the last of which held down Objective 1. Warp Spiders were in reserve.
Turn 1 by Kenton Kilgore
I advanced my army, with the Warriors on Objectives 3 and 4 staggering their lines so they had at least one droid holding each objective. I took Objective 2 (one of the Tactical Objectives I had drawn from Pat’s very handy card deck).
The Tomb Blades fired their particle beamers at the Dark Reapers on the building, managing to take out exactly one Aspect Warrior despite 5 blast markers. In happier news for Team Metal Men, the Immortals and Warriors gaussed a War Walker.
So yeah, not a tremendously impressive first turn. After Skyleaping the Swooping Hawks off the board so they could Deep Strike the next turn from Ongoing Reserves, and after moving up some of his Guardians, Pat showed me how the Shooting Phase was supposed to be done.
The ‘Knight and the ‘Lord combined fire with Dark Reapers and the remaining War Walker to drop 3 Tomb Blades and send the rest falling back. Guardians, Dark Reapers, and vibro cannons dropped 9 of 10 ‘bots on Objective 2. Guardians and Vypers also dropped 2 Warriors on Objective 3.
I rolled for reserves, and 6 of 7 Doom Scythes came on; I also rolled my Reanimation Protocols (4+, thanks to the Reclamation Legion Formation), and most of my fallen Warriors stood back up. The Tomb Blades rebooted their electronic nerves, recovered a fallen member, and headed towards my back line, sufficiently convinced that returning to the main firefight was a bad idea.
I had dealt with Dark Reapers in fortifications before, and I remembered what worked best: screw shooting directly at them with their 3+ cover saves: I had my Doom Scythes go for the building with their S10 Lance death rays. Two hits later, the building was destroyed, the roof falling in, with three Dark Reapers plummeting to their deaths.
The rest of my Flyers fired on Dark Reapers, killing six more. Advancing Warriors dropped another, as well as nine Guardians; Immortals fried four more purple-armored punks.
On his turn, Pat landed his Swooping Hawks behind my lines, with clear shots on the Immortals guarding Overlord Lucifer. Pat also maneuvered his forces to deal with the shoal of Doom Scythes. During the Psychic Phase, I managed to negate the intended Guide on the vibrocannons with Deny The Witch, and the Farseer suffered a Wound from Perils of the Warp while successfully casting Will of Asuryan.
Firing from the ‘Knight forced a Scythe to Jink, which would rule out the Flyer’s death ray the next turn. A War Walker took a Hull Point off another Scythe, and Dark Reapers downed one with Skyfire + their Reaper range finder-thingies that disallow Jinking. Fire from vibrocannons and Vypers did nada.
On the other side of the board, the Swooping Hawks chucked grenades at Lucifer (to no avail), then unloaded their lasrifles, with HEAPS of hits. Three Immortals fell, including one who sacrificed himself (“itself?”) with a successful Look Out, Sir! roll.
Rolling for reserves, my last Scythe decided not to come one; I sent the one that had Jinked off the table, to reappear on my next turn. I rolled Reanimation Protocols, continued my Flyers’ advance (albeit slowly, so they could fire on more targets before having to disengage), moved the Tomb Blades along my back line, and formed up to deal with the Swooping Hawks.
Scythes nuked two more Dark Reapers, as well as two Guardians (whee), but failed to take out the vibrocannons. Warriors gunned down a Reaper Exarch and two more Guards. Immortals rapid-fired one unit of Swooping Hawks, annihilating them; Warriors did the same to the other unit, killing all but two. In the ensuing Assault Phase, those same Warriors charged (Relentless, thanks to the Reclamation Legion Formation) and wiped out the Hawks.
At the start of Pat’s turn, the Warp Spiders bamfed onto the center of the board, going for Warriors. The Wraithknight claimed the skyfire nexus objective (Uh oh…). Vypers advanced, and the Farseer Guided a unit of Dark Reapers.
Two of my Scythes got lucky and were able to Jink away from hits by the ‘Knight (as a Gargantuan Creature, it can fire at two different targets). Others were targeted by vibrocannons the Guided Reapers, and the Wraithlord, but came away unscathed. A scatterlaser from Guardians (!) knocked two Hull Points off a Scythe, and then a War Walker finished it off. Alas for me, the wreck did not take out any pointy-ears. Vypers dropped three Immortals, and the Spiders took out five Warriors.
Two Scythes (the one that had yet to show up from reserves, and the one that had flown off on Turn 3) came on the board, and I moved three off. The two newly-arrived Scythes eschewed firing to fly deep into the Eldar deployment zone, gaining me a Tactical Objective. The Tomb Sypders took Objective 6, on the other side of the board from where they started, gaining me another Victory Point.
My infantry formed up on the Spiders and the Vypers (why do the Eldar use “y” for the latter, but “i,” for the former?). Immortals blasted one Vyper out of the sky, and Necron drones killed three Spiders and six Guardians.
The Eldar advanced, the Farseer Guiding the ‘Knight. Nevertheless, the Great Big Guy missed the Scythes, who Jinked ahead of time, just in case (remember: one has to announce the intent to Jink before the attacker rolls “to hit”).
Pat concentrated his fire on trying to take out Lucifer and gain multiple Victory Points (he had a Tactical Objective card that would reward him well for Slaying the Warlord). War Walkers, Guardians, a Vyper, and the Wraithlord gunned down seven Immortals; vibrocannons and Warp Spiders took two Wounds off Lucifer.
The Spiders charged my Overlord, losing one to Overwatch. The Exarch challenged him, but no telling blows were struck by either.
Most of my Immortals stood back up (thanks, 4+ Reanimation Protocols and the resurrection orb!), and the three Scythes in Ongoing Reserves returned. I had them take potshots at the ‘Knight (shielded by the remains of the building) just to keep Big Purple honest and to give him incentive to stay where he was (even if it was on the Skyfire objective) rather than jump across the table and wreck my ‘bots under his boots.
Warriors shot at a Vyper, making it Jink; Warriors also destroyed a War Walker and retook Objective 2. In the Assault Phase, the Immortals came to the aid of Lucifer, charging the Warp Spiders, with the Overlord declining the Exarch’s challenge. The Immortals killed a Spyder, and the Exarch chose to Hit and Run to the relative safety of Objective 4, out of the line of fire of most of my army.
Pat continued to move up most of his army, and still intended to drop Lucifer. The Wraithknight again fired on a Jinking Scythe, managing to take 2 Hull Points off it. Vibrocannons had three hits on Immortals, but rolled “1’s” to wound. Fire from Dark Reapers, Guardians, the Wraithlord, the Vyper, and the Spyder Exarch managed to crumple four Immortals, but left Lucifer unscathed.
The game was winding down, and I formed up my infantry on objectives. Having fulfilled their mission to take Objective 6, the Tomb Blades swept onto Pat’s side of the board to attempt another.
Shooting from Immortals and Warriors knocked a Hull Point off the Vyper. Scythes fired death rays and tesla destructors at the Guardians on Objective 1, wiping them out; whereupon the Tomb Blades turbo-boosted (Shooting Phase, remember) to claim said objective.
Warriors fired on the Farseer, prompting Look Out, Sir! attempts from the only folks nearby, the crew of the vibrocannons. Three Guardians perished, which silenced one gun. In the Assault Phase, Immortals and Warriors charged the Vyper, wrecking it. Other Warriors assaulted the Warp Spider Exarch, who bounded away.
The Wraithknight bounded halfway across the board as Pat concentrated what remained of his forces towards Objective 3, which, if he could take, he would earn multiple Victory Points. Despite shooting from the ‘Knight and the ‘Lord, as well as the Spider Exarch assaulting the Warriors on that objective, it was not to be, as the Warriors continued to contest it.
With that, a roll of the Loyal Green Die ™ decided that the game would end.
Yblis’ Centurions: 12 Victory Points (11
for Tactical Objectives + Linebreaker)
Post-Game Analysis by Kenton Kilgore
The final score actually could have been 18-7, as I had three Tactical Objective cards that offered d3 Victory Points each, and I rolled “1’s.” Not that I’m proud of this win, anyway.
I have a 1994-point list similar to this: Lucifer, 10 Immortals, 12 Warriors in each squad, more toys for the Tomb Blades (shieldvanes, shadowlooms, and nebuloscopes), 5 Night Scythes (transports for the Troops), and only 2 Doom Scythes, but why would I bother playing it? Not when I can take 7 Dooms, all of them with S10 Blast weapons (Lance, too), and with +2 BS for each one in the Formation after the first one hits.
Bullshit. Total bullshit. And the Reclamation Legion—with its 4+ Reanimation Protocols, Move Through Cover, and Relentless—was a huge advantage in this mission, for which I paid nothing, as I would have taken all those units anyway (The Tomb Blades didn’t kill much, but their mobility snagged me mondo points).
If you disregard the Formations, the
Necron codex is fine; with them, it’s one of the most broken, unbalanced things
I’ve seen since 2nd Edition.
What say you about your Craftworld Eldar, Pat?
Post-Game Analysis by Patrick Eibel
Is the Necron formation ridiculously overpowered? Not if you know it is coming and you plan accordingly. The problem was that I knew it was coming and I whiffed on several accounts. To paraphrase Sean Connery in The Untouchables, I brought a knife to a gun fight.
I thought to counter the Necron’s superior speed with superior shooting, but did not adequately make sure that the shooting I had would be able to do anything against Flyers. I squandered two of my best anti-Flyer units (the Swooping Hawks) in a suicide bid to try and take out the Lord. Bye bye neat little haywire trick on Flyers. I was too tentative with the Wraithknight and Wraithlord, who were minimally effective as gun platforms, but could have been devastating if I had advanced them at all to get into combat (even making that Scout move from the Warlord trait useful).
In addition, Kenton played brilliantly. Taking out the building where two units of Dark Reapers were hiding effectively took out my two best units for this battle. At least we had a fun evening of throwing dice and hanging out.
The next morning, my five-year old son, Thomas, came down because he wanted to play the game Uncle Kenton and I were playing. I wrote up a 550 point list of Space Wolves that he used against some of the Eldar from the battle (Guardians, Vypers, squad of Reapers, and a Farseer). He had a lot of fun rolling dice and killing all my dudes (we were skipping the Psychic phase; that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). Maybe he needs to give his old man a hand during the game (the little swine was helping Kenton roll dice).
Posted September 2015