Over the last weekend I attended Conquest, which is the largest 40k tournament in the South Island of New Zealand. This year there were just over 70 players in the 40k draw from all over New Zealand, and some from Australia as well.
It is the best run tournament I have attended, and I have had a good time each year I have gone. My gaming time has been pretty limited this year (baby related), and I had yet to play a game with Eldar, so my expectations of winning weren't as high as the expectations of having fun.
Here is the list I took:Dark Eldar Combined Arms Detachment
Succubus Ahlsira (Archite Glaive, Armour of Misery, Webway Portal) - usually with Wraithguard
Archon Kei'Ariq (Haywire Grenades, Webway Portal) - usually with Fire Dragons
5 Kabalite Warriors in Venom (Splinter Cannon)
5 Kabalite Warriors in Venom (Splinter Cannon)
3 Reavers (Heat Lance, Cluster Caltrops)
Ravager (3 Dark Lances)
Ravager (3 Dark Lances)Craftworld Eldar Combined Arms Detachment
Farseer Alaindrien (Singing Spear)
3 Windriders (3 Scatter Lasers)
3 Windriders (3 Scatter Lasers)
5 Lightning Dragons
5 Wraithguard (D-Scythes)
Wraithknight Talrion (Heavy Wraithcannons, 2 Scatter Lasers)
Total 1850 points
Despite a turnout of over 70, I was the only Dark Eldar player, and a fair proportion of my points are a taxi service for Eldar units. Perhaps a sign of how the Dark Eldar are faring at present.
My first mistake was before the first game - locally the draft FAQ is not being used until it becomes official, and so my Wraithknight was being limited to firing two weapons. Swapping out the Wraithcannons for the sword and board probably would have served me better.Game One - Corsairs/Eldar
First up was a game against a very pretty Exodite Eldar army using the Corsairs rules with some allied Craftworld Eldar. The Dragon was a Wraithknight, the other large dinosaur a Lynx, with two Wasps, two Hornets, Nightwing, two jump pack troops and Windriders and jetbike Autarch and Prince.
My basic plan was to put the Lightning Dragons against the Lynx and Wraithguard against the Wraithknight, which would leave him without the tools to deal with my Wraithknight (Talrion). He chose to deep strike in the Wraithknight along with the jump pack troops and Wasps, and one unit of bikes stayed in reserve.
I chose to keep first turn and missed most of my shooting, with just one bike and a Hornet down. Reavers jumped into the ruins in front of his other Hornet. His first shot was the Lynx at Talrion, and his one Pulsar hit was of course a 6, so Talrion was obliterated instantly. A couple of bikes down was the rest of the casualty list.
Turn two my Wraithguard and Fire Dragons arrived. Without the enemy Wraithknight on the board, the Wraithguard lined up his bikes and two HQ characters, the Fire Dragons decided to deal with the Lynx, and the rest advanced to control the smoking hole in the ruins where my Wraithknight had been. Remarkably, the Fire Dragons and Archon managed only two hits, which took the Pulsar off the Lynx, and the Wraithguard managed to not kill the Autarch thanks to an impressive run of invulnerable saves. His turn two all his reserves arrived (partially thanks to the Autarch making the run of saves), then all of his army near me zipped across the field as fast as it could.
The theme for most of the rest of the battle was both of us barely scratching the other each turn, with only a unit a turn going down. My Wraithguard, Succubus and Farseer, slowly started heading for the middle, but having landed so close to the corner had too far to travel to get to the Wraithknight.
Here are my Reavers, still standing after taking Reavers and a Scatterbike unit's shooting:
At the bottom of turn five, his dice improved a bit and I failed a couple of key morale checks and took some more major casualties. That left me a bit short of units to contest to contest the objectives, and turned the game in his favour.
Was a fun game, despite the 1-18 score, which could have gone either way until near the end. I made a few tactical errors that could have turned the game in my favour:
Game Two - Dark Angels
- I rolled Invisibility for the Farseer, and could have had him hang near the Wraithknight (starting on table), or reserved the Wraithknight myself.
- Taking first turn with so little on the board meant my Wraithguard landed before his Wraithknight
- Dropping the Wraithguard in the corner meant they didn't do much after the initial landing
- I tried to get Dark Eldar Reavers against Corsair Reavers, but didn't position my bikes well enough to avoid him getting away with reckless abandon to the overwatch.
Game two was Dark Angels with a mix of Ravenwing and Deathwing. Two squads each of bikes and Termies, plus two attack bikes and a Dread in a Drop Pod.
This mission was Thunderhawk Down, so a Thunderhawk arrives and crashes near the middle of the table during the game, and becomes the key objective to capture.
This game had a fairly interesting beginning with 2+ rerollable Jink saves not surprisingly being very hard to crack. My Reavers charged his bikes and managed a few rends only to have them all saved by Feel No Pain. His Attack Bikes hid on objectives, so didn't trouble me too much. After killing the Reavers he advanced a little, possibly a bit wary of Talrion, which he didn't have the tools to deal with. Most of his casualties were from plasma overheating rather than my army in the first turn.
Turn two the Thunderhawk arrived and landed on his bikes, killing one! His Termies arrived one unit near the Thunderhawk and one near my army. His bikes moved up but he did little to my army. If you have ever played a Voidraven Bomber, the thing you dream of is a unit of Termies all clustered up to eat the Void Mine (he deliberately stayed bunched to improve the invulnerable save). The mine centred on the Interrogator Chaplain Warlord, and killed him and 6 others. Wraithguard D-Scythed away a unit of bikes. Fire Dragons got the Dread, Ravager the Pod and some Termies, and Scatter Lasers and poison dealt with most of the remaining Termies. After that remarkable beta strike there was one unit of bikes and two Termies, plus the hiding Attack Bikes to deal with my largely untouched army including Invisible Wraithknight. We finished quickly and a maximum point win 20-0.
I felt a bit sorry for the way that game went, and it was a horrible matchup for the Dark Angels. No major tactical blunders this time, and the Voidraven shot was something remarkable.
Games 3-5 and some general thoughts to add tomorrow.Game Three - Craftworld Eldar
Game three was Craftworld Eldar, with an army made up of a Craftworld Warhost and a CAD. It was an interesting list, with an Aspect Warrior Shrine of Howling Banshees, which I haven't otherwise seen on the table in 7th Edition. Along with the three Banshee units was a Seer Council, Wraithseer, Avatar, War Walker and Wasps. The CAD added in the Autarch, two units of bikes (one with Scatter Lasers) and the Skathatch Wraithknight.
The mission had two aspects; the cloak and shadows maelstrom cards and you chose one character from your own and one from the enemy army, who were worth the secondary points. The deployment zones were diagonal and the space between the zones was a little small, which ended up being crucial.
I reserved the Reavers because I figured he would otherwise roast them with the Skathatch Wraithknight.
I managed to seize the initiative, and had an impressive first round of shooting, managing to kill the Seer Council and Wraithseer before they could get Fortune up. So rather surprisingly, I didn't have to face a psychic phase in the game. His turn one shooting was able to take two wounds off Talrion, and he managed to just make a charge of Wraithknight against Wraithknight. I didn't realise it until this game, but if the Wraithknight doesn't need to use the jump in the movement phase it can move 12" normally and then reroll the charge range. The narrow gap between deployment zones allowed him to reach my Wraithknight, despite me not moving forward. Talrion with 4 wounds left against a full health enemy with a scattershield was never going to end well, but it did take most of the game.
Turn two some things went south. I forced a lot of armour saves, but they just kept getting passed. The Wraithguard landed by the Avatar and managed one wound. I underestimated the range of stomp from the Wraithknight and lost some Wraithguard. His turn had assaults from Banshees and the Autarch with a Banshee mask, so no overwatch. Succubus Ahlsira killed the Banshee Exarch in a challenge, and the Avatar failed to charge Talrion, but otherwise he killed Scatter Bikes, Reavers, a Ravager and Venom, plus another Wraithguard from Stomp.
The rest of the game had one flank fail to basically the Autarch and bikes. He made a lot of saves which was probably a little unfortunate for me. Losing the Wraithknight slowly after being tied up from turn one was rather painful. When his Wraithknight finally broke out, it did so in my turn, so was able to take down the remaining Wraithguard and Farseer, before in the final turn Hellstorm Flaming down my Archon to win the secondary.
In the end the Banshees were better than I gave credit for. Negating all the overwatch meant they could tie up the Wraithguard. Not realising the initial spacing was reduced and getting charged turn one was a crucial error. Reserving the Reavers was unnecessary and the could have helped stop the Autarch rolling one flank of my army. Having the Wraithguard within Stomp range was silly too. There were some bad dice, after the extraordinarily good first shooting phase. In this game, had I swapped the Heavy Wraithcannons for the sword and board option, I would have been in a much better position.
That left me one win and two losses from the first day. Two close and interesting games in the losses, with tactical blunders in both games that I don't think I would make if I was playing more regularly. Game Four - Space Marines
Game four was against Ultramarines with dual grav Centurions, three Thunderfire Cannons, Sternguard, some Scouts, a Land Speed squadron and some Inquisition. My thoughts on facing the list were that I needed to get the Centurions down on the table before the Wraithknight, and find a way to deal with the Thunderfire Cannons. Rolling the warlord trait where I could reroll reserves helped with that plan. He didn't seem to have that many models and I suspected the Psychic phase could be nasty.
I won the opportunity to deploy first and gave him first turn, hoping to get the grav on the table before Talrion arrived, having chosen to deep strike him. He dropped the Sternguard and one unit of Grav Centurions down, right behind my army near my table edge. The fire from his Thunderfire Cannon and the two drop pod unit got rid of a Venom, Ravager and one unit of Windriders. The only good fortune was the Land Speeders failed to hurt the second Ravager.
I made a fairly major error by thinking I could take the two units that landed near me, and stayed in the vicinity to try to focus down the Centurions. That was spectacularly unsuccessful (one wound inflicted). The Reavers tried to hug the table edge to go deal with the Thunderfire Cannons.
Turn two had similar casualties to turn one, and my originally deployed forces were getting thinned out quickly, and the Thunderfire Cannons managed to hit the Reavers and kill them off. His Centurion unit managed to not arrive, and all my reserves showed up, despite the reroll on the Wraithknight. The Voidraven missed the bomb on the Centurions, but the Fire Dragons landing the same vicinity were able to remove the first Centurion unit. Talrion landed by the Cannons, while the Wraithguard landed by the Land Speeders and destroyed all of them.
His turn three pretty well ended the game. Grav Centurions landed and killed Talrion. Thunderfire Cannons removed the Wraithguard, Succubus and Farseer. Sternguard the Fire Dragons, and Scouts the remaining Ravager. With just a Venom and Voidraven left, I was tabled when the Voidraven had to fly off the board at the end of turn four.
I should have played this one differently:
- After he landed behind my backline (short table edge deployment) I could have rushed everything forward, which would have left the unit of Centurions and Sternguard out of range.
- Talrion should have gone for the Land Speeders with Scatter Lasers and landed in the large ruin instead of the open (instinct in not deep striking in cover is silly with a Wraithknight).
- The Wraithguard should have taken out the Thunderfire Cannons
Had I done that, I should have been able to dominate his end of the board. I may still have lost Talrion to the Centurions, but would have had reasonable odds of surviving and charging them instead. Despite me misplaying the game, my opponent was a good sport and I still reasonably enjoyed the game even with the brutal tabling.Game Five - Space Marines
The final game was against another Marine player, this time Ravenguard with a Knight and two Forgeworld Dreadnoughts. There was a large jump pack command unit and two tactical squads, one in a Rhino. The firepower of the Dreads was a little intimidating, but fairly short ranged. His Warlord trait allowed him to add or subtract from the end of game roll, which sounded potentially interesting.
With a mission using Maelstrom cards and a secondary relic mission I thought I would let him go first and get the last chance to jump on the relic. He jumped forward as much as he could and his only shooting in range was Knight vs Knight - he took two wounds off Talrion. In retaliation, I took four hull points off the Knight with Talrion and started shooting at his shrouded command unit in ruins (due to a lack of other targets). I think I took out four of them with some fairly ordinary saves.
Turn two he took another wound off Talrion with his Knight and rumbled the Rhino up to the relic. The rest was still out of range. This set the stage for a big beta strike. Wraithguard landed and blew up the Knight. Fire Dragons landed and discovered the Leviathan Dreadnought is immune to melta effects. They would have been in trouble if Talrion hadn't scored a devastating hit with his Wraithcannon. The Rhino was wrecked and Talrion was able to jump on the tactical squad inside.
His turn three had casualties on the Wraithguard and his warlord and remaining assault marines decided to take on the Fire Dragons and Archon. My Archon with no shadow field or melee upgrades accepted the clumsy Marine's challenge and managed to get a wound through the Artificer Armour. Not too surprisingly the Fire Dragons and Archon didn't survive the round. My turn three cleared up the Warlord and left one unit of Tactical Marines and a Dread. Turn five I was able to complete the mop up and clear the table.
The game wasn't as one sided on the mission front. I only managed to pull even on the Maelstrom Cards in turn five, and had the Dreadnought survived the turn the game could have ended with a close score instead of the full points victory from tabling.Tournament Thoughts
I really enjoyed Conquest this year. Fun opponents, some really nicely painted armies and interesting games. Clearly I could have done better by taking out some of the mistakes highlighted above. I would like to think some of the errors are due to not playing enough lately, and I can cut down on those mistakes going forward.
In terms of how the army worked, the beta strike from the Fire Dragons and Wraithguard was sometimes devastating, and sometimes failed. When it failed it was largely down to me not applying to the right target or allowing the right target to be tied up in combat or still in reserve. They worked fairly well and could have done better if I had made some better decisions.
The Dark Eldar units were usually adequate, but never outstanding. The Ravagers did OK, but didn't really inspire. The Kabalite Warriors in Venoms died fairly easily, but often did enough to justify their selection. With the draft FAQ not being used, I would have liked some more resilient gunboats of Raiders with Night Shields and Splinter Racks as Warrior shooting platforms. Had I faced Tau, I'm sure I would have been glad to not have units destroyed so easily by ignore cover weapons however.
The surprise star of the list was the Voidraven Bomber. Other than the one spectacular shot against the Dark Angels, it never did a lot, but always killed a few models, and lost only a single hull point over five games.
Wraithknight Talrion got removed without achieving anything in three games, and was devastatingly effective in the other two. Protecting him better in the three losses could have changed the outcomes. I am not used to having that type of model in the army, and with practice will be able to get more from him. I think the Ghostglaive option with Scatter Lasers is the way to go for the Wraithknight setup, especially given the local ruling on only firing two weapons.
Farseer Alaindrien was somewhat useful, although I would consider swapping for an Autarch for reserve manipulation instead. My plan pre-tournament of using the Farseer to Gate of Infinity around the board never really had the right target to use that on, so I normally ended up going Telepathy instead.
The bike units did well. I would like more Reavers in the list, and the Windriders do basically everything the Venom can do, but with more mobility, and can deal with light vehicles.
I don't want to phase out the Dark Eldar from the list, so I think I need to get some Covens into the list, supported by Eldar to take the best aspects of the Dark Eldar forward.