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Rogue Trader Tournament, 01/17/04
Kenton's Dark Eldar <> Pat's Space Wolves
Rogue Trader Tournament,
01/17/04: “Zip, Snap, and Drop”
This time out, I wanted to use my recently-completed Dark Eldar army, the Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions. Consistently winning with Dark Eldar is slightly harder than getting Nicole Kidman’s phone number, but I felt up to the challenge. Besides, the 2000-point limit would allow me to take my amped-up Archon, a bunch of his Reaver bodyguards, and some Wyches—in addition to the usual flotilla of Raiders that I always field. I also had my army’s mascot, Sting (at right)—what could go wrong?
My Death Twinkies’ strategy is to zip up on an enemy flank, snap off some intense close-range fire, then drop the opponent’s troops with a heavy-hitting charge. I’ve learned from experience that it usually either works really well or fails really badly. The key is to get the Wyches, the Taloses, and the Archon into hand-to-hand combat as fast as possible.
I took the following:
So what happened? How did the Scorpions do?
Game 1: “Whole
Lotta Shootin’ Goin’ On”
Don named my Wyches and I named his Bassie, which had the highest point total for a single-model unit. Don had several platoons that were worth more Victory Points, but I reasoned that it’s easier to kill one large vehicle than wipe out an entire platoon, especially since Dark Eldar don’t have Ordnance weaponry.
I massed most of my army on my right side, behind some cover, and spread out as much as possible to avoid the “Pie Plate of Death” that the Bassie could spit out. My Archon and his Reavers took it upon themselves to destroy the Basilisk and earn all the glory of taking down the “hunted” unit. The Reavers had two blasters in their squadron and should those fail to work, the Archon could attack the fragile rear of the vehicle with lots of Strength 5 hits (S3 base, +1 for Reaver jetbike, +1 for combat drugs).
Neither the Archon nor the Reavers got anywhere near the Basilisk, despite the fact that I went first and rocketed my bikers 24" forward. Don hurled a Sentinel into hand-to-hand combat against them. The Sentinel should have been only a “speed bump,” perhaps slowing down my bikers for a round, maybe two max, as my Archon is, of course, a close-combat monster, my accompanying Succubus has an agonizer, and the Reavers each had Strength 5 from a lucky roll on the combat drugs table.
But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, as the late John Belushi used to rant on Saturday Night Live. My rolling was pitiful, and the Sentinel kept the bikers pinned down long enough for Don to throw three squads of Guardsmen into the melee. My Archon and his bodyguard spent the rest of the game in a futile close combat they could not escape.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the board, I sent my Raiders 24" up the side of the table to attack Don’s flank. Don responded by throwing a lot of very accurate fire into my transports, crashing or stunning them all. Don was rolling so well that even the hunter-killer missiles on his Sentinels were hitting and doing damage—and every Imperial player knows that HKs are the most unreliable vehicle upgrade you can buy.
Dark Eldar usually take lots of casualties (well, mine do, anyway), but this time, it was really bad. Don shot down one of my Raiders and the resulting crash wounded 8 of the 10 Death Twinkies on board. I rolled for their armor saves (5+) and sure enough, all eight died. Arrrgh!
Worse, he managed to kill my Haemonculus, Dr. Jheste, before he could open the webway portal, meaning that my three Taloses never got on the board. I’d played 22 games with my Dark Eldar and never had that happen—until this day.
In short, it was a brutal ass-kicking for the Callous Drowboys. I eventually managed to kill quite a few Guardsmen in hand-to-hand combat, and Don didn’t wipe out my Wyches, but those were cold comfort. After four turns, I conceded, and learned the awful truth: Don had misread the tournament rules and had been playing with a mere 1850 points against my 2000. Oh, the shame of it!
Game 2: Flame-Out
Dreadnoughts and Razorbacks, and Vindicators--oh my!
This type of mechanized army gives my Death Twinkies fits. All those lascannons and other heavy weapons are excellent at bringing down Raiders, so it’s imperative to get across the field and into close combat with the troops as soon as possible. Even if I manage to get across the field, though, my guys still need to crack open the tanks to get at the Marines inside—all the while avoiding melee with the Dreadnoughts. I’d played against this type of army twice before and lost badly both times.
The mission was “Unplanned Assault,” where you place your two compulsory Troop units in a large, triangular deployment zone that stretches from end of the table to the other. All other units are in reserve. At the top of Turn 3, you roll randomly to figure out what the game’s objective actually is: hold certain terrain features, claim table quarters, or rack up more Victory Points.
Very interesting—and very befuddling, too. I was reeling from the beating I had taken in the first game (“How did THAT happen?”) and I was struggling with the configurations of the deployment zones (hey, my last geometry class was 21 years ago and I got a “C” in it—so, cut me some slack, willya?). And I still didn’t have a clue how my Dark Eldar were going to dodge all that gunfire and bust open those Razorbacks.
So for the first few turns, I was a bit lost, and my opponent seized on my confusion, stunning the Raiders that carried my Wyches and Jheste (with his webway portal). I concentrated what fire I had on the Vindicators; when your opponent has three Demolishers, he’s going to be able to use them at some point, but I delayed him as long as I could.
Eventually I managed to get my Drowboys (including the Wyches) into hand-to-hand with two of his three squads, and my guys cut them up badly. The Taloses didn’t come out until late in the game and weren’t much of a factor. After racing across the board, my Archon and his Reavers fell back after being flamed by a Dreadnought.
At the start of Turn 3, we rolled to determine the objective and found that we were to hold terrain features. With my mobility, I was able to force a tie. So far, one big loss and a very hard-fought tie. Thus far, it was not a good day on the gridiron….
Game 3: “The Quarterback is Toast!”
The mission was “Arch Rivals,” again using those goofy, triangular deployment zones I loathe so much. In this scenario, both players start with their entire armies on the board and each army’s commander must end their move closer to the other army commander, hopefully culminating in fight to the death between them.
Sick of my Taloses being a non-factor in the two previous games, I eschewed the webway portal and deployed them on the table, behind cover. Josh had seen Taloses in action before and jammed his army into one corner of his deployment zone, as far away as possible from “The Triplets” (who take their nickname from the original Dallas Cowboy “Triplets,” Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith). So the good news was that I didn’t have to fornicate around with keeping Jheste alive and getting him into a good position to open the webway portal. The bad news was that my Taloses were again out of the fight with little hope of getting into close combat.
As you might expect, I rushed my Raiders forward and got into hand-to-hand as quickly as I could. Josh did the expected as well, absorbing my hits and using his Lord’s Veil of Darkness to pull squads out of melee, then shoot the Death Twinkies standing around in the open.
It was a close, hard-fought game. Josh’s Lord (mounted on a Destroyer) got into hand-to-hand with my Archon (mounted on a Reaver jetbike), and as one might imagine, my Archon prevailed in two rounds of furious melee. Lynatharr had little time to enjoy his triumph, however, as he was swamped by charging Warriors and eventually dragged down. In case you’re wondering, that is how one defeats an Archon in hand-to-hand combat: just throw enough scrubs at him, and eventually his shadow field will fail and he’ll drop shortly thereafter.
The final Victory Point score was Toasters 1147, Drowboys 920. Even though it was a loss, it was really my best outing of the day. Don had thoroughly flattened me in Game 1, Stephen had pretty much punched me around in Game 2 (though I got some good hits on his guys), but Josh had really worked and sweated to win Game 3.
Final Standings, Final Thoughts
Appearance: 16 out of 18 maximumWell, at least the judges thought my Dark Eldar looked pretty, and when you model your army around a bunch of prissy showoffs like the Dallas Cowboys, that’s a good thing.
My Sportsmanship score didn’t suck but it was much lower that what I usually get. It may have reflected some surliness I exhibited in Games 1 and 2; by Game 3, I was in a much better mood as I had given up any hope of actually winning a game that day. Or perhaps it was my army composition: because of their limited choices, Dark Eldar forces tend to look alike (“Let me guess: your Archon has a shadow field and combat drugs, doesn’t he?”)
But what really damned me was the two losses and the tie. Here are my “lessons learned”:
On small boards, don’t bother with the webway portal. I’m used to playing on larger boards, where it’s definitely worth it to leave the Taloses in the portal, have Jheste zoom across the board on a Raider, then dismount and open the portal. That tactic didn’t work in the first two games, and though my Taloses didn’t get into close combat in the third game, at least they diverted some enemy firepower their way.While driving home, I thought to myself, If I had had more Wyches, I might have done better. While I don’t want to substantially overhaul my Dark Eldar (such as, say, transforming them into a Wych Cult army), I decided that I wouldn’t mind buying, building, and painting another Wych squad (complete with Raider transport, of course).
Archon Syryx Lynatharr limped into the dark cave lit only by patches of luminescent fungi. Clutching his ribs and bleeding from several wounds, he fell into his granite throne and shut his eyes for a moment, recovering his strength.
The fighting had been fierce. Lynatharr had cared little why the humans had come to the lush world of RVL-20852; he had not sought battle with the 13th Arkiv’l Regiment or the Salamanders. The mon-keigh had merely been between him and the Necron Lord, his true target. Though many Ozone Scorpions had died today, Lynatharr had found what he had been looking for.
He opened his eyes. Wincing, he used his left hand to remove from his belt pouch the small humanoid figure, carved from a single blue crystal, that he had found beneath the city of Tharalon. Transferring the figurine to his pincer-like right hand, he reached into his pouch again and retrieved the pulsing yellow gem that he had torn from the brow of the Necron Lord in the last battle on RVL-20852.
Murmuring ancient words of power, Lynatharr held the yellow gem over the blue figurine. Slowly, a small glow emerged from the depths of the carved crystal man. The glow brightened and began to pulse in rhythm with the yellow gem. A low thrumming noise filled the chamber.
Vaguely, Lynatharr was aware that he was no longer alone. Dr. Jheste and some of the other Dark Eldar had returned from their Raider transport craft and were now standing at the edges of the cave. Good, the Archon thought. Let them see and be afraid. Lynatharr’s shark-like grin matched the expression of the crystal figurine.
Suddenly, there was small, sharp crackle of intense heat in Lynatharr’s left hand and the yellow gem disappeared with a popping noise. “Ow!” he shouted, and glared at the figurine, whose glow flared for a moment and then was gone.
“Well?” he demanded, shaking the crystal man. “Well?”
“I am here,” her voice said. Looking up, Lynatharr was partly astonished to see Dr’zzllah, dressed in the old styles, standing before him.
“It worked,” he said. “You are free, after long centuries.” He turned to the others. “Dr’zzllah is returned to us.” Dr. Jheste backed away, and many of the others were visibly apprehensive. Excellent, Lynatharr thought. They remember her well. With Dr’zzllah’s cruel talents again at his disposal, few would be able to defy Lynatharr.
He slid the blue crystal figurine into his belt pouch and spread his arms. “Come to me, Best Beloved. You shall take your place at my side and rule the Kabal—under me, of course. Come to my arms, Daughter-Consort.”
“Yes, Father-Master,” she said. Embracing him, their tongues met.
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Kilgore, February 2004
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