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Events and Battle Reports
Counter Offensive 7
Intro  <>  Patrebs  <>  Bryan's Battles

Counter Offensive 7: Bryan's Battles   by Bryan Layton
Once again, I made the trip up from southern Virginia to Montgomery County, Maryland for Counter Offensive. Hereís what happened. 

Friday, 08/06/2010
It was Ken and I fielding 1500 points each vs. Patís 3000 points of IG. 

I took:

  • Hive Tyrant w/ bonesword and lash whip, twin-linked devourers, Leech Essence and Paroxysm, plus 2 Tyrant Guards
  • Two Zoanthropes in a single brood, w/ a Spore Pod
  • Two Hive Guard
  • Two broods of 8 Genestealers each 
  • 20 Hormagaunts w/ toxin sacs
  • 4 Warriors w/ scything talons and deathspitters
  • 2 Trygons
We rolled for missions out of the Battle Missions book and came up with War of Attrition for the scenario (see Patís list and write-up of the battle here).  Our left had a large, high hill which could hide Trygons.  Pat deployed a Demolisher squadron behind the hill, placed a heavy bolter support squad on the roof of the building nearby, and placed 2 Sentinels with lascannons on the hill itself.  Behind the Ssentinels lurked a Vendetta transporting Vets.

Ken fielded a Warrior-heavy army consisting of minimum-sized Warrior squads with venom cannons, backed by Hive Guard, a 3-strong Zoanthrope brood, Deathleaper, Hormagaunts, and a Tyrannofex.  They were led by two Warrior Primes. 

Deathleaper started in reserve and his special ability decreased the IG Company Commanderís LD by 1.  The Hive Guard started in a building on our right with support from one or two Warrior squads.  The Tyrannofex set up in the center in cover and the bulk of Kenís Warriors and his Primes set up with mine in the left center screen in front by the Hormagaunts. 

I set up the two Trygons behind the high hill on the left and set up the Hormagaunts in a long line to screen the assorted broods of Warriors trailing behind.  The Tyrant and his Guard were set up screened by the Warriors and Trygons.  The Hive Guard I placed in the building on my left behind the other assorted Nids.  The two broods of Genestealers and Zoanthropes in their pod were placed in reserve.

On Turn 1, Pat unleashed a ton of fire across the board, concentrating on the Tyrannofex, Hormagaunts, and Warrior squads on the left.  The damage I took consisted of losing 2 Wounds on the lead Trygon and losing 13 Hormies.

Nids surged forward.  I realized as I eyeballed the board that my Hive Guard were way out of range and I should have set up much closer, in with the rest of the broods.  I jumped them out of cover and ran them toward the cover in the middle, behind the Tyrannofex.  Trygon One assaulted the Sentinels and mulched them in short order.

On Turn 2, the Vendetta moved slightly and shot the wounded Trygon, doing another Wound.  The heavy bolter support squad unloaded and did nothing.  A heavy bolter in one of the regular squads opened up and hit 3 times, wounded all 3 times and killing 3 more Hormagaunts.  The rearmost Russ squadron opened up on the Hive Tyrant and Guard behind the large mass of Hormagaunts and Warriors in the middle.  Out of 5 Wounds, the Guard saved all but 1.

Nids rolled for reserves and nothing but Kenís Deathleaper came in due to the timely intervention of the thrice-cursed Officer of the Fleet.  The Nids once again surged forward en masse.  My Hive Guard shot but proved to be out of range.  Ken shot and assaulted a number of the nearest IG forces on his side and helpfully shot up the lascannon support squad in the bastion.

I did well with the difficult terrain rolls and the Trygons assaulted the Vendetta and Demolisher squadrons, respectively.  The Trygons made short work of the vehicles, getting 4+ penetrating rolls on each set, destroying them.  The flamer Vets in the Vendetta spilled out and prepared to face off with the wounded Trygon, cursing loudly as they realized they only had flamers and not meltaguns.

At that point we called it for the night (it was getting late) and intended to finish it up on Saturday night.  A daylight reassessment led to the game being called for the Nids

Saturday, 08/07/2010
We got to Dream Wizards early and met a young man, Ben, and his dad, Phil, who were the first folks at the store.  Kenís Tau faced off against the dad and I brought my Eldar (the Nids were still on the table at Patís) to square up with Benís Marines.

I brought:

  • Eldrad
  • 6 Fire Dragons
  • 8 Striking Scorpions, Exarch w/ claw, Shadowstrike
  • 6 Harlequins, all with harlequin kisses, Shadowseer
  • 10 Dire Avengers, Exarch w/ power sword and Shimmershield, Bladestorm. Wave Serpent w/ twin-linked brightlance and spirit stones
  • 11 Storm Guardians, 2 w/ fusion guns, Warlock w/ Destructor. Wave Serpent w/ twin-linked brightlance and spirit stones
  • 5 Pathfinders
  • Wraithlord w/ scatterlaser and Eldar missile launcher
  • Falcon w/ scatterlaser and spirit stones
  • Fire Prism w/ shuriken cannon and spirit stones
Ben brought:
  • Captain w/ bolter and power sword
  • Tigurius-equivalent Librarian
  • 5 Terminators w/ Storm bolters and power fists
  • Tactical Squad w/ missile launcher and flamer
  • Tactical Squad w/ flamer
  • 5 Scouts w/ sniper rifles and heavy bolters
  • 5 Scouts w/ bolt pistols and combat blades
  • 9 Assault Marines w/ flamer, Sergeant w/ power fist
  • 3 Space Marine Bikes
  • 3 Space Marine Bikes, Sergeant w/ power sword
  • Dreadnought w/ multi-melta and extra armor
  • Dreadnought w/ twin-linked lascannons and missile launcher, extra armor
This was the first time I had played with Eldar in 5th Edition: I had played against them a number of times, but this was my first attempt behind the wheel.  Looking at Benís list, it was basically a non-optimized, no transport list.  I figured I should be in good shapeÖuntil we rolled up the mission from the Battle Missions book.  From the Marine section: Surprise Assault. 

So let me get this straight: I deploy in the center of the board, at least 12Ē from the edge, with 6Ē between each unit.  The Marines can come in from any side, can Deep Strike everything automatically on Turn 1 and get first turn.  As I am reading the rules for the scenario, it starts to sink in that all the nifty Eldar goodies will not be in play.  No skimmer moving fast cover saves, no psyker powers up.  Sitting still.  Pat was, shall we say, not optimistic on my chances.

The deployment saw me putting Eldard with the Pathfinder squad on the tower.  The skimmers were put in a circle, facing outward, with the Wraithlord and Harlies on my right.  All the squads that could were mounted up.  The Scorpions I outflanked with the hope I could spare them from the carnage that was sure to ensue.

Ben began his attack on Turn 1 by Deep Striking his Terminators inside the ring of my vehicles, facing their rear armor, directly behind the Fire Prism.  He attempted to Deep Strike his Assault Squad nearby to support the Termies, but he deviated slightly and clipped one of the skimmers.  The mishap table threw the Assault Marines into reserve.

From left to right (from my perspective), one squad of Bikers (with the power sword) came on closer to me and moved up to the base of the hill that the central tower sat on.  Ben brought on his CC Scouts, who moved up behind a ruined building in the left hand corner, with the Librarian to their right.  To their right, the Dreadnaughts came on, flanked on the right by the ML Tac squad.  The sniper squad of Scouts were next, behind a low hill with the SM Captain heroically mounting a hill in the corner in full view of the field.  To his right, the second Bike Squad came on and moved up as near the Harlies as they could manage.  The final Tac squad came on to my lower left and moved up the rocky hill in that corner. 

Benís Terminators started things off by unloading on the rear of the Prism, promptly blowing off the prism cannon and immobilizing it.  It crashed to the ground still able to shoot its shuriken cannon, but despite it being mounted on a swivel, we ruled that it would be treated as a fixed weapon with the consequent 45 degree front arc, rather than let it move freely. 

Terminators appear in the midst of the Eldar and set to deadly work

Fortunately for me, the rest of Benís shooting was nowhere as deadly, resulting in my having the Falcon shaken and losing its pulse laser to the combined fire of the Dreads and having one Harlie gunned down by the rightmost Bike Squad, who easily made their Veil of Tears roll.

On my turn, I thanked the fates that the damage had not been worse and began by rolling for Eldradís powers for the round.  The Librarian blocked all 3 in turn with his psychic hood, and I got a Perils of the Warp test for my troubles, due to the Runes of Witnessing.  Ok, no problem, I thought, Eldrad can handle it.  Ghosthelm, blew my roll.  Invulnerable save, second blown roll.  Crap, he is going to take a wound.  Holy crap, it is S6 and he is a Farseer with T3, so he just instakilled himself.  Son of aÖ.  Cursing under my breath, I plucked Eldrad up and set him aside.  Then I thought, Hang on, isnít EldradÖ.yup, sweet,T4 so just a Wound. Back in he goes (yet another reason to take Eldrad over the regular Farseer).

The Pathfinders shot, killing one member of the power sword-biker squad.  The Fire Dragons dismounted, as did the Storm Guardians, and they opened up on the Termies, killing three.  The Stormiesí Wave Serpent moved up and tried to snipe the exposed Space Marine Captain: no love there.  The Wraithlord starts to move in the same direction and opens up on the Captain, missing with the EML and doing 1 Wound with the scatter.  The Storm Guardians followed up in assault, finishing off the last two Termies.  The Harlies, who ran earlier, assaulted the Bike Squad and wiped them out with multiple Rending rolls.  Around this time, Pat came observe the game and began to assist Ben with his sage advice.

On Turn 2, Ben rolled for his errant Assault Squad, which did not come in.  He then moved his left squad of Scouts further into the left corner ruins.  The Librarian moved up in the shadow of the same ruined building, keeping near enough to clamp down on Eldrad.  His remaining Bike Squad moved up to a short distance from the Fire Dragons, the SM Captain moved closer to the Harlequins, and his flamer Tac squad in my lower left moved closer to the middle. 

The Marines combined fire from the bikers and Tac Squad to wipe out the Fire Dragons.  The Dreads shook the Falcon and the Scout Squad shot up the Harlies, killing two.  Ben uses the Captain to assault the remaining Harlies, who promptly beat him down and used the massacre move to closer to the Scout Squad.

On my turn, the Striking Scorpions failed to show up from reserves.  Eldrad started out by successfully Guiding the Dire Avengers and Dooming the lower left Tac Squad.  Harlies move up toward the sniper Scouts; the Falcon and Serpents moved at cruising speed.  The Storm Guardians moved up to get closer to the Dreads.

The Dire Avengers BladeStorm and do 21 Wounds, 8 Marines die.  The Pathfinders finish off the squad.  The Prism shoots the other Tac Squad, conveniently hanging out right in the front arc, killing 1 Marine.  Fire from the Serpents (rear shots), Falcon and Wraithlord do nothing more than shake the Dreads.  The Storm Guardians open up with their fusion guns and take the multi-melta off one of the Dreads.  The Harlies assault the Scouts, killing four while losing one.  The Scouts die off to Fearless rolls and the Harlies consolidate behind the nearby building.

Around this point, Pat takes off and is replaced as Benís advisor by Ken, who has finished his game with Benís dad.  The Assault Marines arrive and Deep Strike in the center of the board, near the Storm Guardians.  The Scouts in the left corner building move out closer to the DA Wave Serpent.  The Librarian moves up to support, but uses no psyker powers, apparently concerned about the Runes of Warding.  The bikes move behind the Falcon.  The shaken Dreads move closer to the Storm Guardians.

The Assault Squad flamed the Stormies, killing several.  The Tac Squad hits and wounds the Wraithlord with their ML.  The bikes shoot the rear of the Falcon doing nothing; they assault the Falcon doing nothing.  The Scouts attempt to frag the DA Serpent but do not do any damage.  The lead Dread gets into assault with the Storm Guardians, killing one, but the Warlock manages to shake the Dread with his witchblade, resulting in a drawn combat.

Scorpions again decline to attend the party.  Once again, Eldrad tries to pop off some powers only to be frustrated by the Librarianís hood.  The DA Wave Serpent returns to pick up the Dire Avengers and get away from the Scouts.  The other Serpent moves to stay out of range of the LC Dread.  The Wraithlord moves up to be in position to intercept the Assault Squad or to help the Storm Guardians.  The Falcon moves away from the bikers. The Harlies move closer to the remaining Tac squad.

Eldar shooting is ineffective, with the Pathfinders doing nothing, the Serpents bouncing shots off the unengaged Dread, only shaking it.  The Wraithlord opens up on the Assault Squad, killing only one.  The Harlies assault and butcher the Tac squad, and the Storm Guardians lose another guy, thus losing the combat, but stick.

After some counseling from Ken, Ben decides to stop messing around with his Librarian and opens him up.  Fortunately the Vortex of Doom he was trying to drop on the DA Wave Serpent is stymied by Eldradís Runes of Warding.  The Fury of the Ancients does manage to kill a Pathfinder and pin the squad. 

The bikes move up to the Harlies, see them and shoot, but I save the single Wound.  The Assault Squad plows into the Wraithlord who promptly kills two, suffering one Wound from the power fist Sergeant.  In the Dread/Storm Guardian assault, the Dread has its other arm ripped off by the Warlock, but it manages to kills another Guardian, and the fight continues. 

The Scorpions still do not show up from reserve.  At this point I am tired of dealing with the Psychic Hood and all of the Librarianís shenanigans.  I move up the Dire Avengers in the Serpent, dismount them and Bladestorm the Librarian into oblivion, ignoring the Scout Squad nearby.  The Falcon guns down a biker.  The Harlies move up and assault into the Wraithlord combat, killing two more of the Assault Marines.  The Wraithlord kills another and the PF Sgt fails to wound the walking coffin of pain.  The Assault Marines lose another of their guys to the Fearless rolls.

The LC Dread shoots down the Storm Guardianís Serpent.  The remaining biker moves closer to the Harlie/Wraithlord/Assault Marine combat.  The Scouts shoot into the Dire Avengers, killing one.  They follow up that with an assault that kills another.  The Dire Avengers easily pass Leadership and stay put.  The Harlies kill another Assault Marine and the Wraithlord kills another, leaving just the Sarge, who finally kills the Wraithlord.

The Scorpions finally show up, but of course come in from the worst side possible.  They run but contribute nothing.  The skimmers move around to avoid easy assaults.  Eldar shooting accomplishes exactly nothing.  The LC Dread is apparently bulletproof, even for rear armor shots.  In assaults, the Dire Avengers finish off the Scouts in a combination of Wounds dealt and Fearless missed saves.  The Harlies easily kill off the Assault Sergeant, and the game ends.

All in all, a pretty good reintroduction to the Eldar for myself against a fun opponent.  While Ben did have able advisers, he made all the decisions himself and did well for his age.  Having the odds stacked against me so much from the scenario choice, I was deeply concerned that I would be curbstomped into submission immediately, but it turned into a fun game.

I think the only glaring error I made was in not having the Scorpions start on the board.  I was trying to save them from the carnage, but all it really did was prevent them from having any chance to contribute.  I could have used them to take care of the smaller Marine squads, screen the Fire Dragons, or to countercharge the Assault Marines.  I was fortunate that Benís power fist Sergeant did not finish the Wraithlord before the Harlies could arrive to help.  The Scorpions could have filled that gap nicely, and with their 3+ Save would have been able to last longer than some of the more exposed Eldar squads.

The only real errors I saw Ben make were in not putting his ICs into squads and in deploying the second Tactical squad so far away from any support.  That let me finish that squad off with the Bladestorm without worrying about the Dire Avengers being helpless for a turn.  The important thing was that Ben knew to stop me at the end of the game and ask about any perceived errors so he could use that to improve his game.  Smart and a good start to becoming a better player.

Giving Back
The Dream Wizards staff had come to us and asked us earlier in the day if we would be willing to help walk some very new players through some demo games with their chosen armies.  Turnout for CO7 was light at that point, and who could refuse so noble a cause, especially with the prospect of a possible discount from the store as a more tangible form of immediate reward?

The boys showed up about 3:00 and we dug into helping them get their lists up to where they could use several units for each army and represent some of the unique flavor of each of the factions.  Each of the three brothers had an army that we happened to play, so we helped each respectively, me with the Eldar, Pat with Orks, and Ken with Space Marines.  We added in our own models to help the brothers get their squads up to strength and took them through a fairly detailed demo game. 

I had a great time helping them walk through the basic steps of playing, and by teaching it, I think it was a useful and thoughtful reminder as to how and why we make each of the smaller decisions that make up the larger game.  There is no better way to understand something better than to teach it to another.

Bryan and Pat's Tyranids deploy against Ken's Sisters of Battle

Sunday Nid Battle Royale, 08/08/2010
Sunday was the day we were planning on doing some sort of Apocalypse battle with as many Nids as we could bring against anyone that showed up.  We had a table set aside to avoid the Yu-Gi-Yoh horde that was due to descend on the store.  As attendance thus far had been minimal, we came up with Plan B in case it was just us.

Unfortunately, Plan B was for Pat and I to square off against Ken until folks showed up.  Ken is an able opponent at the best of times and he has an uncanny ability to construct lists that are utterly devastating.  As an extremely casual player, I always hesitate to square off against Ken without some advanced warning, which I lacked this time around.  Donít get me wrong, Ken is an extremely friendly, calm, and enjoyable opponent, but losses to Ken tend to be severe in scope and depth.

As we were packing the car to head over to Dream Wizards, I was informed that it would be the Nids versus Ken using Witch Hunters.  Now I play Witch Hunters with a heavy Sisters focus, so I was well aware of how devastating they can be.  Acts of Faith are an incredibly useful option for dealing with changing battlefield conditions and thus can make units perform in situations where they should be useless. 

Move. Flame. Rinse. Repeat.

Importantly, the sisters have the ability to spam heavy flamers and melta guns like no other, which gives them an ample ability to gun down the tough bugs with the meltas and melt away the hordes with the flamers.  As the Sisters use an old codex, the psychic hoods cover the entire battlefield.  Needless to say, I was extremely apprehensive as to how this was going to go for Team Bug.

The final danger sign was when Pat and I were constructing our lists and I heard Pat say he was including units for fun rather than performance.  I took the list I had used on Friday night, with the only alterations being four fewer Hgaunts and an upgrade on one of the Warriors to have a venom cannon: definitely not the most optimal list to take out what turned out to be Immolator spam transporting minimal squads of Sisters chock full of special and heavy weapons.

As the Bugs take their show on the road against the Sisters, a Callidus Assassin appears

I am not going to go into the details of the game in any great extent.  Pat and I made several errors in deployment and execution that made the bad situation even worse.  Specifically, we did not start everything on the board but reserved a few units, which decreased our initial hitting power.  We also did not rush the Trygons right down Kenís throat from the start, but hid them for a turn or two. 

The game unfolded by Ken moving his parking lot of Immolators to burn the Genestealers into oblivion and using his autocannons and exorcists to annihilate anything that could pop transports.  It was so bad that at one point, the horde of Hormagaunts and Genestealers was surrounded by Immolators who burned them out of existence in a ďring of fire,Ē as the photo below shows.  This left us with the unenviable position of simply running into his guns with predictable results. 

At this point, a certain Johnny Cash song came painfully to mind

Nids have only semi-effective shooting, and without a means to pop the transports in advance, they are in for a world of hurt.  Basically what happens is that the Nids pop the transport in assault and the passengers bail out.  In the next turn, those passengers simply shoot up those assaulters at close range, and the Sisters are most effective at short range in any event.

Hormagaunts jump the Callidus. Woot.

To make a long story short, I spent almost the entirety of the game rolling saves and picking up my models.  In all, I killed a few transports, the Callidus Assassin, and a Sister or two.  The high point was the Spore Pod killing an Immolator and immobilizing another in a Death or Glory move before being run over by another Immolator.  Ken, to my knowledge, did not use a single Act of Faith.  All in all a miserable game, in which I personally did not much fun.

When the "high point" of the game is your Mycetic Spore killing something, you know it's not going well

Now, this is not to say that Ken was, in any way, a bad opponent or a jerk.  He played his army with few if any errors and was polite and gracious during the entire game.  In my opinion, the issue comes down to Pat and I playing fun, non-optimized lists against a skilled opponent with a tweaked out, extremely competitive list that had enormous natural advantages vs. our specific army, Tyranids.  Simply put, Pat and I knew better but played with the way things were anyway.  We have no reason to complain with the very predictable way that things turned out on the table.

Nine Immolators vs. our "Just-For-Sh*ts-and-Giggles" list. How did we THINK this was going to turn out?

By messing around and going with ďfunĒ or only semi-competitive lists, Pat and I were setting ourselves up at a great disadvantage.  We should have changed our lists up or had Ken change his to something less ruthless.  Pat and I had additional broods of Hive Guard who are exceptionally good at popping transports, but we did not put them on the table.  We also both had Tyrannofexes, but did not field them either.  We absolutely had the means but simply did not choose to include them in favor of using units that would be less effective against the Sisters.

For everyone to have the best chance to have a truly enjoyable game, each player needs to be ďon the same pageĒ as the others.  If we were playing competitive lists, each side should have built competitive lists.  Disappointment, irritation and the more negative feelings come from not playing the same game.  A competitive game is just that, competitive.  If one player is trying their absolute best and holding nothing back, the other player can not complain if he did not bring his ďAĒ game too.  That is where things went wrong for us.

In Conclusion
This Counter Offensive was very different from others in the past but was very enjoyable overall and well worth attending.  We had a more education focus than is the norm and I will remember the education I received at Kenís hands for quite some time.  That said, it just makes me want to play more, not less.  Until next yearÖ.

Counter Offensive 7
Intro  <>  Patrebs  <>  Bryan's Battles

Related Pages
Other Counter Offensives

Posted September 2010


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle