Relics of Treasure - Week 6

Round 6: 1950
Hammer and Anvil

Mitch (Dark Eldar)
Archon w/Shadow Field, Soul Trap, 3 x Sslyth, 2 x Medusae, Lhamaean, Ur-Ghull, Raider, Night Shields, Flickerfield
Haemonculus w/5 x Incubi
Haemonculus w/4 x Wracks, Raider, Night Shields, Flickerfield
12 x Warriors w/Dark Lance
10 x Warriors w/Dark Lance, Raider, Night Shields, Flickerfield
10 x Warriors w/Dark Lance, Raider, Night Shields, Flickerfield
10 x Wyches w/Raider, Night Shields, Flickerfield
10 x Scourges w/2 x Splinter Cannon
10 x Reavers
Talos Pain Engine
Cronos Parasite Engine w/Spirit Vortex
Cronos Parasite Engine w/Spirit Vortex

Mitch had a pretty lovely Dark Eldar force, which suggested he'd been at it for a while; they might not be as numerous as Orks or IG, but getting a raiding force of Dark Eldar ready isn't like throwing together a Draigowing list, either. That further suggested that he knew what he was in for when it was announced he'd be going up against Tau. Guns, guns and more guns, guns that cut through Dark Eldar bodies and skimmers alike with contemptuous ease, with ways to ignore the former's FNP and the latter's cover saves.  In short, every Archon's nightmare.

Commander w/Iridium, Stims, Shield, 2 x Plasma, PENchip, Relics (Hit & Run, +1A, +1WS/BS for squad)
2 x Bodyguard w/2 x Plasma, 2 x Twin-Linked Fusion Blaster
XV104 w/Ion Accelerator, Early Warning Override, Stimulant Injector
3 x XV8 w/6 x Missile Pod
3 x XV8 w/6 x Missile Pod
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
4 x Pathfinders
4 x Pathfinders
4 x Pathfinders
Sky Ray w/Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter
Hammerhead w/Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter
Hammerhead w/Disruption Pod, Longstrike, Submunition
Aegis Defence Line w/Quad Gun

We rolled up Hammer and Anvil for deployment, which actually benefited Mitch; with his night shields in place and an easy 36” of separation, he could stay out of range of my markerlights in the beginning. I won the roll-off, and opted to go first, deploying everything on the board; I wanted my Commander and his tank hunter abilities on the Quad Gun, given how many Raiders I needed to shoot down, and of course, with Dark Eldar you really want to down as many of their transports as you can before they're up in your face. In turn, Mitch bunched his Raiders up, two on my left and three on my right, both groups hidden as tightly as possible behind ruins, while the two Talos and the Cronos hung out in a couple of forest sections right on the forward edge of his deployment zone.

Despite my best efforts I just couldn't get close enough to get my markerlights into range, even sacrificing reliability for mobility. Still, even without markerlights, Tau shooting is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you're firing at targets as fragile as Dark Eldar Raiders. I started with my Riptide, Nova charging its weapon to drop a S9 large blast square on the three clumped Raiders on my right flank; obviously I penetrated all three, but with that damnable cover in the way I could only make one hit actually go through, though since that blew up one of the Raiders, killing a handful of Warriors, I can't exactly complain. Longstrike turned his submunition on the two Raiders on the other side of the field, but again strong cover saves prevented catastrophe, with only a single hit going through and that only serving to shake the crew. Finally my ionHead opened up with its large blast, and the already-damaged Raider went down in flames, killing more than half the Wyches in the blast. The rest of my army simply shuffled in place, bracing themselves for what was obviously going to be a very angry response by the remaining Dark Eldar forces.

Mitch responded in the only way any self-respecting Dark Eldar player can, of course; by boosting across the field and landing his transports on my very doorstep. His Scourges also moved up along the right flank, from the point at which they'd been hidden from sight by a large ruin, drawing a bead on my Riptide, while the Cronos and Talos dithered in the forests. I think Mitch knew they needed to move up, to press the attack, but given my opening salvo I suspect he was wary of losing them. In the end, he sent one of the Cronos and the Talos forwards, leaving the other Cronos hanging back in its forest.

Since his Raiders had turbo-boosted to cover the considerable ground between his army and mine they couldn't make use of their firepower, so his opening salvo was understandably muted. Still, his Scourges managed to put two wounds on my Riptide through sheer volume, while the Warriors with the dark lance in the distant ruins stripped another wound from the big suit, despite the best efforts of both invulnerable save and Feel No Pain.

In turn two, to nobody's surprise, those Raiders that had screamed right up into the guns of an essentially-undamaged Tau cadre found themselves in dire straits indeed; my Commander on the Quad Gun, with tank hunter, brought down one of them, while my deathrains, backed up by markerlight tokens to get through the Raiders' cover save and boost their high-volume firepower, brought the other two crashing down. The Haemonculus and his coterie of Wracks found themselves disembarked on my right flank, by my ionHead, one of my Deathrains and a unit of Fire Warriors, while the Incubi and their pet Haemonculus were dropped near to the Archon and his unit in the centre-right kill zone, the former losing none of their numbers to the explosion and the latter losing their Ur-Ghull. I turned the rest of my firepower on the infantry, but while I did manage to bring the Incubi down to just a trio and kill two of the Wracks, the Archon managed to tank rather a lot of firepower for his unit. Damn that 2+ invulnerable save!

Despite the damage I'd inflicted on Mitch, however, he wasn't anywhere near finished; several of his units were positioned just so to give me trouble if I left them unengaged. The Archon and his squad, in particular, were a serious threat, close enough to multi-charge all along my right flank if they wanted, tough enough to tank my overwatch, and even with the disordered charge penalty dangerous enough to kill a lot of my models.  So, though it pained my to my very core to contemplate so barbarous a strategy, I ultimately found I had no choice but to accept the unthinkable.

I charged.

My Riptide lumbered forwards, hurling itself against the Archon and his retinue, while on my right flank my deathrain team moved to tie up the Haemonculus and his Wracks. Though I'd miss their firepower, I suspected that both units were the only ones who'd be able to last through my turn and into Mitch's, which is what I needed; there would be no point feeding him a sacrificial unit if he just turned right around and came back for seconds. And while neither unit managed to put any wounds on their opponents (the Riptide continuing its now-venerable tradition of only rolling 1's to wound in close combat), they also didn't die, though I did lose one of my deathrains and the Riptide was reduced to a single wound.

Mitch's Reavers blasted onto the board, overflying my left-flank Fire Warriors and crowding up against the combat there, their bladevanes killing four of my Fire Warriors as they went, only to lose two of their own number to Interceptor fire from the Quad-Gun in return. His Incubi hustled forwards to put themselves as close to my remaining unengaged deathrains as possible, while his Talos and Cronos engines started easing towards my lines. The latter opened fire on my right-flank Fire Warriors, killing most of the squad with a solid hit from the blast weapons, while the Scourges advancing up the right flank added their firepower, wiping out the squad entirely. With all his shooting done we headed into assault, where his Archon slaughtered my Riptide, gaining S10 in the process. His Wracks and Incubi fared rather less well, however, with the former losing a model from their already-diminished team in exchange for finishing off a second suit, and the latter losing two models to overwatch before reaching close combat, at which point the last of the incubi and one of the suits both died, leaving the Haemonculus facing off against two crisis suits.

My third turn saw pretty much no movement, save for some small rearrangement of Fire Warriors to get them more perfectly positioned within half-ranges and the obligatory Skimmer Shuffle. Aided by Pathfinders, the ionHead simply obliterated the Reavers, ignoring their cover and armour saves and killing them by the score, while two squads of Fire Warriors, backed up by my other Pathfinders, and the Ethereal's Storm of Fire ability, managed to obliterate the Archon and his retinue in an apocalypse of pulse rounds. A similar barrage on my left flank saw off the few Reavers to survive the ionHead's attack, clearing that threat from my lines. The assault phase was inconclusive, with the Wracks continuing to pass their 6+ saves all out of probability and the Haemonculus dragging down another deathrain, but neither unit breaking thanks to the Ethereal's LD10 bubble.

Having lost all his transports, his Incubi, Reavers and Archon, and with his Wyches stranded on his table edge, Mitch decided to concede. While he did still have his three MCs, my Commander was advancing up the field with two plasma/fusion suits, and Monster Hunter thanks to the PENchip, so he wouldn't have kept them for long. Meanwhile, the assaults were likely to end in his turn, leaving his surviving, crippled squads to be dragged down by still-plentiful small arms fire, and returning full control of my deployment zone to me. With two objectives in my half and just one in his, that would've quite neatly cut off any chance of pushing through a win. That left me with First Blood and Slay the Warlord as league bonuses, and a win with two objectives to add to my tally, along with another tile.

I think I'd probably put my Ethereal up as the day's MVP; despite not actually doing anything herself, her LD10 bubble kept the combat with the Wracks and Incubi dragging on, while passing out Storm of Fire allowed me to overwhelm the strong defences (3+ on the Reavers and 2++ on the Archon) of the Dark Eldar infantry encroaching on my lines. They also serve, who stand and wait.

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