Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Crimson Fists March to War: My First Battle Report

So, after alot of painting, I finally brought my Crimson Fists to the table and went to battle against the Dark Eldar, as played by a buddy of mine, Rene.

Sergeant Stein breathed deeply into his respirator as he looked over the broken, debris-scattered field with his Force Commander. The cold wind tugged at the astonishingly young Captain's hair, and spatters of rain lined the crags of his face.

"We don't have much time." Captain Nihilus growled, his long, crimson cape fluttering behind him as he turned away from the carnage. "The Dark Eldar are already on their way to scavenge what the brave Imperial Guard left behind in their defeat. We will see to it that they take nothing ." Drawing his huge, crackling relic blade, he shouted his orders to his iron-clad soldiers, who stoically trod onto the broken ruins of the battle-wracked city, intent on recovering the dead and the supplies of their fallen comrades before the Xeno scum took it from them

Alas, my camera skills leave much to be desired, but a shot of the table:


It at least gives you an idea of how everything was set up. I only had 500 points, so it was a relatively small battle. I had a single tac squad (Missile launcher, flamer, split into combat squads) and a single scout squad (a melee combat squad and a sniper combat squad with a heavy bolter) and my Force Commander. He had two raiders with raiding squads, a Homonculous, "wyld hounds" (or something similar) with a beast master, and wytches. Snipers and missile launcher were on my left flank, force commander and the other half of my tac squad on my right flank, and my melee scout squad in the central building. He had all his forces clustered on my right flank, out of sight of my missile launcher.

He stole initiative from me (dammit! >.<) and then proceeded to chase off my two scout squads (the snipers managed to do some damage before they got wiped out to a man) while my missile launcher and my tac squads laid down a withering hail of fire, but nothing seemed to slow the Dark Eldar assault. Starting with four points, I lost one and gave up another.

I couldn't really "charge his wytches before they charged me" as the wyld hounds up front effectively screened them, so I decided to lay in fire instead. We weathered the charge with an astonishing number of 1s and 2s on armor saves (take three wounds, only save once? Wow) and after about two turns of fighting, my Force Commander and Sergeant managed to beat them back and slaughter every last one of them when they tried to run. Meanwhile, the Homonculous's raider zoomed in (not sure why he did that) and out of a desire for revenge, Sergeant Tenebrous (the Scout sergeant, only scout left standing), blasts it with Meltabombs, leaving only the homonculous standing.



Who charged my force commander and died. Without even getting an attack off. I imagine he just threw himself on my sword or something, dunno.

So, then my force commander and sergeant charged his dark eldar warriors, firing like mad (good ol' storm bolters) and actually managed to chase off a unit with nothing but a single turn of firing. He unloads a warrior unit from a raider to protect his final point and zooms his raider to where the scout sergeant is holding his point and...

If we had ended at that turn, I would have one: He had one unit protecting a point, and I had two. Alas, we had another turn, his raider moved close enough to my point to contest it, and I rolled poorly for taking the central point (had to move through "difficult terrain" and only got a 3), but in one more turn, I would have taken my third point, winning the game, except then the game ended. And so, we tied.

"I was Dice Hosed!"

I don't think you could claim otherwise. I lost initiative at the worst possible time. My missile launcher, in 5 turns, only hit once. I lost approximately half of my armor saves, rather than the expected 1/3, and if the game had lasted one turn less or one turn more, I would have won. Instead, the dice perfectly favored him.

But I hate it when people say that. You should play the game in such a way that the dice matter as little as possible. A tie is a perfectly respectable result, but I learned a few things:

First, my melee scout squad was designed to take down low-mobility Heavy Support guys, like artillery-style tanks or Devastator squads. Dark Eldar have nothing like that, so I sorta just sat around with them, doing nothing. A unit that picks its nose is a unit that isn't killing people. If I had brought them to bear more, or supported them better with my snipers, I might have changed the shape of the battlefield. I probably should have put both in the building, giving the camo-cloaked scouts a 3+ save, which might have let them last longer. Instead, I was too greedy and "took all the points I could" right off the bat. Just because you can use infiltrate to be all over the battlefield doesn't mean it's a good idea. Second, I hung back with my Force commander and tactical squads "to protect the points." I don't think I really needed too. If they had moved forward, they would have been charged earlier, but little else. Thereafter, they would have been in a better position to start scaring away the rest of the Dark Eldar, and maybe sit on that central point, rather than force the weaker scouts to try to protect it.

It's hard to play a 500 point battle "wrong," so I don't know if I'm being too hard on myself, I just feel thinking "it's the dice's fault" tends to result in a player who doesn't grow. I did learn, once again, to trust my Space Marines. I tend to forget how tough they really are. Not invincible, of course, but more than capable of taking care of themselves, and that the numerical superiority of the enemy tends to mean nothing. You can see from turn one, I was practically overwhelmed, but by the end, I had almost half my army left standing, but he was down to (basically) a single unit and its transport vehicle.

Next time, I'll find a way to exploit that.


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