The real beauty of the Eldar Codex is the sheer number of choices. 11 HQ choices? Yes please. You can't even come close to taking everything in the codex in one game (which you can for Nids). If you want to field an entire army of Jetbikes, you can. If you want to field an army whose lowest toughness is 6 (except for their spiritseers), you can. If you want to go pure assault, you can. Or if you just want to sit back and shoot with devastating firepower, you can. The codex has so many different play styles that when I get tired of Eldar, I find that changing my list up drastically can revitalize the whole game for me. Obviously some builds are much more effective than others, but in a friendly game who cares?
For this game I elected to take a more unusual list. I decided to take things that I don't normally take to change the game up, and throw my regular opponent for a loop. Here's what I took:
Autarch on JB with lance and fusion gun
5 Shining Spears
3x Vibrocannons (with a Embolden Warlock)
19 Guardians w/Starcannon (with an Embolden Warlock)
3 Jetbikes with a Destructor Warlock
Falcon with 6 Harlequins inside
I rarely take Guardians these days. I decided to take them today to be held in reserve, to come in later and claim back end objectives (the jetbikes were also designated in this role, but to claim mid-field objectives). I've never taken Shining Spears, and the plan was to have the Autarch lead them in glorious Marine slaying. I have never taken Vibrocannons either, and thought I'd have some fun with them. I've never taken Harlequins before, and I had to proxy them, but figured I'd run a Clown Car and see how it goes.
My opponent decided to take the Ravenwing. His plan was to match speed for speed, as I normally run a mechanized/jetbike list. His list was (as far as I can remember):
8 Bikers led by Interrogator-Chaplain
3 Landspeeders with Multi-Meltas (not in a squadron)
3 Attack Bikes (not in a squadron)
KP: 11 (if the speeders and attack bikes were in squadrons it would be 7)
We rolled an annihilation game with a pitched battle deployment.
Eldar won the roll and elected to deploy first and take first turn.
I deployed my Vibro-cannons in a LOS blocking castle (a terrible looking thing but it’s all we got). They don’t need LOS to hit, so I figured I’d keep them safe. The Falcon and Spears were deployed behind them. Since I saw he had Ravenwing I knew I was safe from the biggest blast weapons, so I bunched them up tight. Finally, I placed my Pathfinders on the right in a ruin which ended up being a mistake. The Guardians and Jetbikes were held in reserve.
He deployed his bikes up front, then used his scout move to put his front bikes into cover. The Landspeeders and Attack Bikes were held behind cover. In the bike squadron were the Interrogator-Chaplain and Sammael.
All plans changed when the Dark Angels seized the initiative!
Dark Angels Turn 1
Turn one, Sammael turbo boosted toward the pathfinders, as well as the int-chap bikes. The attack bikes and the Landspeeders sped toward the Falcon, The attack bikes shot 3 multi-meltas at the falcon and scored 1 hit, which I saved with a cover save.
(Yes that is a cooking pot in the picture. We're working on making better terrain. That pot will some day be the base for a planetary defense laser. I still have to put texture on my gaming table, hence the green felt.)
Eldar turn 1
After moving my Shining Spears forward to engage the Landspeeders, I moved the Falcon swiftly using Star Engines over to the beleaguered Pathfinders. In the shooting phase, I blasted my 3 vibro cannons at the int-chap bikes and slew 2 marines and wounded Sammael twice. In my second mistake of the game, my forward assault contingent (Spears and Autarch) were caught in the open because they destroyed a landspeeder in the shooting phase (thus they couldn’t assault anything since they weren’t in a squadron). Had they assaulted, the unit was big enough that I could have taken down two speeders (maybe). The Pathfinders attempted to wipe out Sammael’s last wound, but ten sniper rounds failed to do anything.
Dark Angels Turn 2
His speeders and bikes saw fast retribution by annihilating the Shining Spear unit down to the Exarch thanks to 5 multi-melta shots. The autarch was hit in this flamestorm but not wounded, as his bad luck with multi-meltas continues (it’s a running gag between us). On the other side of the board, the pathfinders suffered 2 losses from a flamer, while saving many bolter shots. Charging into the ruins, Sammael suffered a wound from dangerous terrain but saved it with his Iron Halo, however a fellow brother was not as lucky.
The retribution was swift. All the Pathfinders were wiped out without a single return casualty. The Eldar position was pretty tenuous, as they found themselves trapped!
Eldar turn 2
I couldn’t believe that I was completely trapped. Normally I’m the fast one. Recovering from the casualties, I destroyed 2 Landspeeders, 2 attack bikes and 1 regular bike. The Autarch, remaining Shining Spear Exarch, Vibro cannons, and reserves marching in (thanks to the Autarch for that one) claim credit for this victory. The Harlequins disembarked and took care of two bikers while losing one of their own.
Dark Angels turn 3
One reserve bike squadron rode on the flank and pulverized the Vibro-Cannon squad. All that was left was one gunner, quaking in his Eldar boots. The subsequent assault claimed two more Marines to Dangerous Terrain tests, but the kill point was earned.
On the other side, the harlequins wiped out all but the Interrogator-Chaplain, after which they safely disengaged, running for the safety of the Falcon.
Eldar Turn 3
The Harlequins embarked on the Falcon, which flew across the battlefield (Thank Vaul for Star Engines) to combat the new threat from the flanking bikers. The jetbikes formed a protective shield to prevent the guardians from being charged. The remaining Exarch charged the last attack bike to claim that killpoint, while the Autarch played cat-and-mouse with the last Landspeeder, failing to kill it as it shrugged off his Fusion Gun, and he couldn’t get a 6 to hit it in close combat. Finally, the Guardian squad killed the Int-Chaplain with a withering hail of Shuriken fire.
Dark Angels Turn 4
Bringing in the last reserve bikers, he surrounded the Autarch. The flanking bikers on my battle line charged into the jetbike squad. The marines took down one jetbike. The jetbikes passed their morale check unfortunately.
In the shooting phase, the Autarch shrugged off a hail of bolter shots, while the Exarch barely avoided getting fried by the last Landspeeder’s multi-melta (it failed to wound). The Autarch survived all the close combat hits from the Ravenwing bikers, only to fall to a powerfist.
Eldar Turn 4
The Shining Spears Exarch, not wanting to be a free killpoint, turboboosted across the field to hide behind a building. This was not an act of cowardice, but a brave and noble move. The Falcon dropped off the Harlies who charged the outflanking bikers. The Guardians consolidated their position and brought the Starcannon around to bear.
The Falcon exploded the last Landspeeder. The harlequins dispatched the remaining bikers, and consolidated into cover. All that was left was one Bike squad.
Dark Angels Turn 5
With only one squad remaining, he decided it was do or die. My opponent turboboosted them towards the foe, hoping to shoot up the harlequins on the next turn.
Eldar Turn 5
Lots of shooting from everything I had took out all but two of the bikers. Finally, the Harlequins sliced down the last two, ending the game via total annihilation.
Final Score: 11 KPs to 3
My thoughts on the game:
Well, I did learn a lot. Shining Spears are a tiny scalpel in an army already full of scalpels. While devastating on the charge (the Exarch alone wiped out 2 attack bikes and crippled a Landspeeder) they are fragile if the enemy can draw LOS to them. Of course, I left them out in the open and not much can survive a face full of melta. The Autarch underperformed. While he took down a Landspeeder, he also died without taking anyone down with him because his lance only works on the charge. I shouldn’t have chased down the speeder.
The Pathfinders however, underperformed. They didn’t inflict a single wound and were wiped out in a single round of shooting/assault. Their deployment was a mistake though. I should have put them in another building that was closer to the enemy. They wouldn’t have had LOS on the first turn, but it’s always better to spend a turn moving to get the perfect shot than to have two rounds of bad shooting.
The Harlequins were amazing. They wiped out three squads of bikes only taking one return casualty. Next time I am going to combine them with a Farseer. In a Falcon, their speed is unstoppable. Star Engines was worth it. A lot of people say not to take it as the battlefield is small enough, but without it the Harlequins would never have been able to reach the combats where they were needed as fast as they did. It would have taken an extra turn, which I didn't have. Without them the game would have been a loss, or at least a very sloppy victory.