Today we have a special guest “SMS Text” battle report by Jake Howard Mini Painting (some MMS but dont worry its free).  Jake writes his own battle reports in a classic written style, rather than video.

We decided we wanted to share his work, let us know what you think and we may even have more 🙂

Check out his other reports here: https://jakehowardminipainting.blogspot.com

 

 

2000 Point Battle Report – Dark Angels vs Craftworlds

This game saw me pitting my Dark Angels against Joel’s Craftworld Eldar. Having played Imperial Knights for the last few months, I wanted to go back to my usual (misguided) obsession: doing something good with a pure Dark Angels list.

This was it:

Battalion 1 – Ravenwing Attack Squadron

 

Sammael in Sableclaw

Talonmaster with Heavenfall Blade

Talonmaster with Monster Slayer of Caliban

 

5 man Scout squad with sniper rifles

5 man Scout squad with sniper rifles

5 man Scout squad with sniper rifles

 

7 man Black Knight squad

 

Dark Talon

 

Battalion 2

 

Techmarine on bike with Foe Smiter, flamer, plasma cutter and power fist (Warlord: Trait: Huntsman)

Librarian on Bike with storm bolter (Powers: Aversion and Mind Worm)

 

5 man Scout Squad with boltguns

5 man Scout Squad with boltguns

5 man Scout Squad with boltguns

 

6 man Inceptor Squad with plasma exterminators

 

This was a pretty elite-heavy list, with a lot of anti-infantry firepower and some dodgy anti-armour/heavy infantry firepower in the form of the two plasma squads.

 

Since the beta bolter rules came out, I’ve been wanting to try out a Techmarine on Bike with the Huntsman warlord trait. This trait allows the warlord to fire Assault, Rapid Fire, Grenade and Pistol weapons at characters, even if they are not the closest unit. The Techmarine can take a silly amount of guns with just those profiles. He had a flamer, plasma cutter (basically a plasma pistol with assault 1), twin bolter, and Foe Smiter (relic swapped from storm bolter with a 4/-1/2 rapid fire 2 profile). The latter two are rapid firing bolt weapons, so on his bike he fires maximum shots at 24”. With 2+ BS and a 2+ armour save, and at only 94 points for the above configuration, I don’t think that’s a bad deal.

 

As for the rest of the list I thought I’d make use of a Ravenwing Attack Squadron. I’m really not sure of the best configuration for this yet, but I’m thinking Sammael and two Talonmasters might be a bit of a must. Whereas the extra Talonmaster felt a little out of place previously, the Attack Squadron now allows you to take an extra relic with him – the Monster Slayer of Caliban (+2/-3/d3, +1 to wound against VEHICLES and MONSTERS), ensuring that each character has a choppy sword with which to go into melee.

 

Elsewhere in the Squadron, I took a Dark Talon and seven Black Knights. The Dark Talon is probably twenty points too expensive now, especially when you compare it to the points costs of some Xenos flyers. However, a Dark Talon with a 4++ may just be worth all of its 200 points. The problem there is that to get that 4++, Speed of the Raven is required every turn, allowing it to advance, to get the concomitant invulnerable save, and still get to shoot at full effect.

 

At only 1CP, the cost of SOTR isn’t too prohibitive. What is a stumbling block is that once SOTR has been granted to one unit it takes away its use from another. This, as well as their former points costs, is what stopped me from taking Black Knights too much in the past. But the Attack Squadron may have provided a solution! If you stick SOTR on the Talon every turn, you can still use a sort of SOTR on the Black Knights in the form of the Signal the Attack strat. This strat gives an Attack Squadron unit +1 to hit against a unit which had already been wounded by another Attack Squadron unit. Now you can advance with your Black Knights, receive the 4++, and fire their assault weapons at full effect by cancelling out the -1 for having advanced with the +1 from the strat. Et voilà: Speed of the Raven by proxy.

 

Lastly, the plasma Inceptors were there – aside from looking bloody cool – to maximise the use of Weapons of the Dark Age. You have to assume that the Black Knights will be public enemy number one and will get wiped out fairly sharpish. With the Inceptors, you get another Plasma Squad to throw out there on turn two or three and use the strat on, and thus leverage one of our key strengths.

 

Joel’s list was as follows:

 

Alaitoc Battalion

 

Farseer (Guide, Doom, Warlord with Seer of the Shifting Vector)

Warlock (Enhance/Drain)

 

5 man Dire Avenger squad

10 man Guardian Defender squad

5 man Ranger squad

 

Hemlock Wraithfighter (Protect/Jinx)

Hemlock Wraithfighter (Enhance/Drain)

 

Alaitoc Battalion

 

Warlock (Conceal/Reveal)

Warlock (Protect/Jinx)

 

5 man Dire Avenger squad

10 man Guardian Defender squad

5 man Ranger squad

 

5 man Dark Reaper Squad

 

Wave Serpent (triple Shuriken cannon)

Wave Serpent (triple Shuriken cannon)

 

Alaitoc Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment

 

Wraithknight (2x Starcannon, Suncannon and Scattershield)

 

Scariest to me here were undoubtedly the two Hemlocks. These could one shot my Dark Talon, as well as wipe out my Ravenwing characters with ease. Because of that latter threat I would have to keep my characters wrapped up nice and snug until they were gone.

 

The Wraithknight was a bit of an unknown quantity. While undoubtedly tough, I was pretty sceptical as to what it could do offensively. Saying that, 10 or so strength 6, – 3, damage 2 shots every were not good for my Inceptors or Black Knights, particularly as those shots would be backed up by all of the best Eldar psychic powers – strength 6 is irrelevant when you have Doom!

 

Joel thought this was going to be a very swingy game. I, pessimist as ever, thought I was going to get my arse kicked. We shall see!

 

Mission and Deployment

This was the table on which we’d do battle, at Wargames Emporium in Sheffield. We agreed to use ITC Terrain rules for the first floors of ruins, meaning that any enclosed window on a ground floor would block line of sight.

 

The mission we rolled was Strategic Gamble from Chapter Approved 2018. This mission allows you to draw up to three Tactical Objectives per turn and have no more than three active Tactical Objectives. The gamble part comes in the form of the special mission rule, allowing you to discard two cards and draw another. If that card is achieved, you score double points for it.

 

Though many would argue, probably correctly by its very nature, that Maelstrom can never be balanced, I believe that this mission does a pretty good job of it. Combined with the Refined Strategy rule common to all CA18 missions, allowing you to get rid of six cards from your deck before the game, this mission does a good job of allowing consistent scoring by negating the effect of bad draws.

 

The deployment we rolled was Spearhead Assault (pointy Hammer and Anvil).

 

We rolled to pick sides, and I ‘won’ (the prize being picking deployment zones but almost certainly going second). I chose the side with the best line of sight blocking building (on the right side of the table on the picture above). Joel got to setting up his army.

 

This was Joel’s deployment:

Joel also had a Warlock, ten Guardians with platform and five Dire Avengers in reserve, ready to deep strike in.

 

And this was my deployment:

It’s not super easy to make out the contents of the above scrum, but basically the three RW characters, Librarian and Techmarine were being screened by the Black Knights and a few overlapping squads of scouts. With Hemlocks being able to move the length of the table and land pretty much where they please, this compact formation is very necessary. This factor, making your opponent deploy in a strategically disadvantageous setup, is a reason why I’d always take at least one if I ran Eldar. (As well as the obvious fact that they’re killing machines!).

 

The Black Knights would be pretty crucial for a counter attack, so I sat them pushed against the walls of the big ruin, not visible to anything save the incoming Hemlocks. I prayed that Joel would have to use both Hemlocks to take out the Dark Talon and the BKs could survive unscathed.

 

Aside from this cluster, I had two Scout Squads hiding out of line of sight near objectives in the midfield. I was hoping that if I could survive the initial barrage, the cluster could move out and join them quickly.

 

Craftworlds – Turn 1

 

I failed to seize, so Joel took the first turn. This was how his army looked after the Movement Phase:

Joel moved his Wraithknight down the centre, backed up by his hype man the Farseer and screened from incoming plasma/RW assault by the two Wave Serpents.

 

His Hemlocks went exactly where I thought they would, straight into my deployment zone and in range of all of my juiciest targets.

 

In the shooting phase, Joel trained the Hemlock on his left onto my Dark Talon. He proceeded to roll six shots for it and then rolled all twos and up for his wound rolls.

 

Gah, twelve wounds with not a hope of a save roll, and I was taking the Talon off the table.

 

Thankfully, he whiffed a little with the next Hemlock, only killing two Black Knights. Elsewhere, he killed nine scouts with the rest of his army.

 

At the end of the turn, Joel scored First Strike, Big Game Hunter and Supremacy, and found himself on four points.

 

Dark Angels – Turn 1

 

Joel’s turn went pretty much as I’d expected it to go. I knew that I would lose a sizeable chunk of my army, and in the event I did! However, I was quietly confident that I could return the favour by making a dent in Joel’s force.  

 

His two Hemlocks in particular were just where I wanted them.

 

The challenge would be to get Sammael and the two Talonmasters in decent charge range  of one of Hemlocks, while still providing the rerolls for the Black Knights to try and shoot down the other. This is how I moved them to do so:

There is a Black Knight hidden in this. Their Hemlock target is just out of shot to the bottom of the picture, while the characters’ target Hemlock is to the top.

 

I also made sure that Sammael was within 12” of the Hemlock that is out of shot, so he could avoid a further debuff to hit. It was very important that he scored at least one wound on the Hemlock for the purposes of using the Signal the Attack strat on the Black Knights.

 

I also advanced the Talonmaster who wasn’t providing reroll ones to the BKs to within easy charge range of the Hemlock at the top. I used the Speed of the Raven strat to allow him to advance and still charge. This would give him a 4++ against the Hemlock’s overwatch and hopefully soak it up for the others (I had seen all of my RW characters perish to Hemlock overwatch in a single charge phase before!).

 

Elsewhere I advanced some scouts towards the centre of the battlefield, and the Librarian on Bike behind them.

 

In the psychic phase the Librarian cast Aversion on the Wraithknight, making him -1 to hit. He also smote the Hemlock for a single mortal wound.

 

I went straight for the risky one in the shooting phase, beginning by firing Sammael into the Hemlock near the Black Knights. Joel immediately put the Lightning Fast Reactions strat onto it, making it a further -1 to hit for a total of -2. Sammael, hitting on 5s for having moved and rerolling 1s, and having to make the same rolls for wounds, just managed to take a single wound off the flyer. This was all I needed, as I was now able to pop Signal the Attack stratagem.

 

The BKs, overcharging and making use of the Weapons of the Dark Age strat for an extra point of damage, were hitting on 4s, rerolling 1s and 2s, but dying on those same results!

 

And *sharp intake of breath* they did their job, only losing one of their number! Fifteen wounds on the Hemlock and Joel failing to make enough 6ups for Spirit Stones saw the flyer blown out of the sky. Phew!

 

Elsewhere the Talonmasters shot into the other Hemlock, reducing it to five wounds! If they could get into melee with it, it’s destruction would surely be a formality.

 

Which it was. Woot. In the event all three characters got into combat with the flyer without suffering a scratch (compare this to my previous game, where both Sammael and a Talonmaster got crumped in one charge phase!).

 

From then on Sammael and one of the Talonmasters smashed the Hemlock to pieces, leaving the other Talonmaster swiping at the wreckage and attempting to look meaningful.

My board at the end of the turn. Hemlocks excised, but an almost certainly dead Librarian on Bike by next turn. Joel would struggle firing on my RW characters, thanks to the Black Nights and Scouts being further forward. But he could potentially drop in and get rid of a Talonmaster if he had some lucky rolls.

 

 

At the end of the turn I scored 3 points for Scour the Skies, Secure 6, and First Strike. I would also Defend Objective 6 if the scouts who were sat on it survived the next turn.

 

Craftworlds – 4

Dark Angels – 3

 

Craftworlds: – Turn 2

 

I was reasonably confident at this point. I had taken out the two things that I felt could do me most harm. The loss of my Dark Talon was a bit of a pain, but expected. What really concerned me was the removal of all of my Scouts and what that meant for my position on the board. Without Scouts to provide board presence I would be unlikely to win the mission. There was a very real chance I’d remain hemmed in to my deployment zone for the whole game.

 

This was Joel’s army after the Movement Phase:

The Wraithknight moves forward, screened by the two Wave Serpents at the front and the rest of Joel’s army at the back. I would find it difficult to get into range with my Inceptors the next turn, and I certainly wouldn’t get within 12”! Overcharging plasma would be out of the question.

 

 

The Guardians, Dire Avengers, and Warlock drop in, their shuriken weapons trained on my Black Knights.

 

Not pictured are a few squads of Rangers, a squad of Guardians, and the Dark Reapers, which remained in his deployment zone. He also moved a squad of Dire Avengers into a building on his left flank, in which sat a squad of Scouts.

 

In his shooting phase Joel killed basically everything in sight!

 

Admittedly, there wasn’t a great deal in sight. In fact it amounted to the Librarian on Bike, seven or eight Scouts, and a single Black Knight.

 

This latter result was a bit of a whiff from Joel. The strength 4 Shuriken weaponry found it too difficult to do much to my BKs’ toughness 5.

 

The Warlock, Guardians and Dire Avengers would surely be slaughtered to a man in my following turn.

 

At the end of his turn Joel scored 2 points for Area Denial. I scored 2 points for Defend Objective 6.

 

Dark Angels – Turn 2

 

I was still being somewhat hemmed in by Joel’s army at this stage and didn’t see much of a way out.

 

However, I did have units within touching distance of two objectives in my own deployment zone, as well as a Scout Squad on another, who were almost untouchable in an LOS blocking ruin in the centre of the board. When I’m in a situation like this in which I don’t have very much table presence at all, I take comfort in at least being safe on half the objectives, as well as having some guns to bear, and thus able to keep scoring (in theory) as well as my opponent.

 

For this turn I thought it’d be best to take out one of the Wave Serpents which were guarding Joel’s Wraithknight. Then I could at least attempt to get into the Wraithknight next turn. I also wanted to remove the blob who had just dropped in.

 

As I was umming and aahing as to where my Inceptors should go, Joel kindly informed me that his Wraithknight could fire at them when they dropped in, as long as it was in range and as long as it could see them! (I think this was something to do with a relic on his Farseer, but you’d have to ask an elf player).

 

Originally, this perturbed me a little. Luckily, however, it eventually forced me out of my decision paralysis and on to a pretty decent line of play. I would simply drop in the Inceptors out of line of sight, in the space vacated by the Black Knights, who themselves would move out to destroy the Wave Serpent. The Inceptors would do little of import this turn, aside from kill a few Guardians. They would however be safe from harm in Joel’s turn, and in Turn 3 they could pop out of cover and attempt to smoke the Wraithknight.

Post-movement. The RW characters and Techmarine say hello to the blob; the Black Knights move out to destroy a Wave Serpent (just out of shot); the 6 Inceptors move into the BKs’ former home.

 

 

In the shooting phase, I put the BKs and Sammael into the Wave Serpent. This latter was to cancel out the -1 from Lightning Fast Reactions with my own +1 from Signal the Attack. Happily, Joel had expended his Serpent’s shield in the previous turn, so the BKs would be getting a full 3 damage in thanks to Weapons from the Dark Age.

 

Not so happily, dice are dice, and they conspired to both kill one of my BKs thanks to overcharging, and also to put the Wave Serpent, sickeningly, down to one wound remaining.

 

I didn’t allocate any other firepower into it, as I wanted to whittle down the backfield blob. Anyway, I was sure my Black Knights could make the 7” charge and plink the final wound off! (You may now laugh knowingly).

 

As for the the rest of my force, the assault cannons, bolters and plasma exterminators thinned out the blob a little, before my characters charged in and chopped the rest into little pieces.

 

And, of course, it goes without saying that the Black Knights failed the 7” charge (even after a reroll)!

 

At the end of my turn, I had scored Secure 5 and Assassinate.

 

Craftworlds – 6

Dark Angels – 7

 

Craftworlds – Turn 3

 

I don’t know what must have been going through Joel’s head at this point, but it may have been something along these lines:

 

His main asset, the Wraithknight, needed to get at the things which could do it the most harm, the Inceptors and the three Ravenwing characters. However, thanks to the character rule on the part of the RW characters, and the hidden Inceptors, he would have no chance of shooting at them this turn. This would mean that if the Wraithknight stayed where it was or moved forward I would simply pop up with the Inceptors and supporting characters next turn and give myself a very good chance of killing it.

 

So it is with this that the Wraithknight beat a hasty retreat!

The Wraithknight, fearless war machine and bane of the Imperium, returns home.

 

Joel moves his two Wave Serpents forward to be annoying (one, securing Objective 5, is blocked by the building).

 

 

In his shooting phase Joel killed a Black Knight and a Scout. That’s it!

 

At the end of his turn Joel scored Secure 5.

 

Dark Angels – Turn 3

 

With Joel having moved his Wraithknight back, we were now in a bit of a strange position. There was now a great big no man’s land in the centre of the board. If either of us moved into it in order to get to the other side, it would simply result in our destruction.

 

So I guess neither of us would move into it!

 

My plan for now was to get rid of the two Wave Serpents in my deployment zone, then see how the game would develop.

 

In the shooting phase, my Techmarine managed to plink the last wound off one of the Serpents. Unfortunately, it blew up, killing both the Techmarine who was down a couple of wounds and an Inceptor!

 

Elsewhere, the RW characters flew over to the other side and chopped up the other Serpent with their swords.

 

The stand off. The three Ravenwing characters in the top right cannot be shot, thanks to being further away than the Scout Squad in the ruin in the middle, who themselves cannot be shot because of the ITC terrain rule!

At the end of my turn I scored 2 points for having gambled as per the mission rules on Big Game Hunter, and 1 point for Secure 5.

 

Craftworlds – 7

Dark Angels – 10

 

Craftworlds and Dark Angels – Turns 4 and 5

 

Due to the nature of the game at this point (ie. not very much happening) it’s probably best to just summarise how things went in turns 4 and 5.

 

Due to the score I wasn’t too worried about the standoff situation. I felt that with the mission and the fact that I had thinned my deck before the game, I would be able to get hold of cards that would keep me at least 1 or 2 points ahead no matter what. I also realised that if I just kept all of my units from being able to be shot, this would have an adverse effect on Joel’s scoring. If Joel were to draw any cards requiring him to kill something, he would be unable and this would further hamper his chances at evening the score.

 

In Joel’s 4th turn he scored 2 points (I failed to record for what). In my 4th turn I moved my characters to the side. I also scored 1 point for Secure 4, putting the score at 11 – 9 in my favour. Neither of us killed or even attempted to kill a single thing!

 

Moving back over to the left, the Ravenwing spot one last chance to actually do something.

 

In Joel’s turn 5, he scored 2 points for something relating to casting psychic powers!

 

In my Turn 5 I moved my Ravenwing onto the left flank, making sure the Scouts in the building would still be closest no matter where Joel went in his turn. They then opened fire on the Ranger squad on Joel’s right, hitting on 6s thanks to the Alaitoc Rangers strat, but still managing to kill them with ease.

I scored two points for Mission Critical Objective (6) and Overwhelming Firepower.

 

Joel rolled to see if the game continued, and I prayed he’d roll a 1 or 2 to put us out of our misery…

 

He did!

 

End of game score:

 

Craftworlds: 11

Dark Angels: 13

 

Post-game Thoughts

 

This was a bit of a weird one, to say the least! After a first turn of much killiness from both sides, the game gradually petered out as our forces in the middle became depleted. Then, quite rightly, no one left at either end of the battlefield wanted to make the jump across no man’s land and into certain slaughter!

 

This was down to the deployment map. If our deployment had been widthways or diagonals, our units would have been able to jump into the middle and shoot out from there, crucially happy to do so as that shooting would negatively affect the enemy’s strength of response in the following turn. As it was, a jump forward on this deployment would still leave us out of range, and sitting ducks for the opposing army.

 

Another factor in the strangeness of this game came in the form of both the character rule and the adoption of ITC Terrain rules regarding lower floor windows blocking line of sight. I’m usually in favour of this rule, but I will avoid using it with buildings like this in the future:

This was a ruin on the centre line of the board, on one of the flanks. The open area (ie. the only part of it which did not block line of sight) was about five inches from the board edge, which should give you an idea of how close to the board edge it was, and should show you how out of the way an enemy unit would have to go to get to whatever was inside it. I set my scouts up from the start in this building on Objective 6.

 

Now, first, I was very lucky and drew Secure 6 or Defend 6 multiple times, scoring 4 points off that objective throughout the game. That Joel couldn’t respond to this was bad enough, but furthermore this unkillable unit also allowed me to abuse the character rule repeatedly, having the very much out in the open Ravenwing characters unable to be targeted because of the presence of an untargetable Scout unit nearby!

 

I do like the ITC rule on ground floor ruins. I think that it gives players who want to play the mission a better chance to do so, as well as allowing weaker armies to stay in the game. After playing with this ruin, however, I feel now that it should not be so restrictive as to excessively limit what a player can do about a situation.

 

In the future, I’ll only try to use terrain that’s L-shaped, to try to limit this.

 

In game terms, I think that this was Joel’s big mistake in the game:

Particularly the Hemlock at the top, which was too easily chargeable by my RW characters. Better would have been to place both planes on my near side, both at maximum (18”) firing distance from the  Dark Talon and the Black Knights. This would have meant that they would have the pick of their primary targets, and in my turn that a) my characters would have a hard time charging in and b) my Black Knights would have to come out of hiding, where the Wraithknight could have a better crack at them. The game might have been very different had one of the Hemlocks been around for a bit longer.

 

Anyway, hindsight is 20/20, and I only noticed this myself while writing this!

 

In the next one I’ll hopefully make use of these Smash Captains wot I dun. That is, of course, if I ever get round to painting them (and if they don’t get nerfed beforehand!)

See you for the next one. Thanks for reading!

Thanks for that Jake and Joel! Really awesome report and so clutch! That Wraithknight can shove it! “Hasty Retreat” or scared of true battle!

Thanks again for letting us share this report, and if you guys enjoyed this type of content, and would like to see more, let us know in the comments, or take a look at Jakes blog!

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