Gunum Presents: Hear me out, Wings! Birds of Goon.

An article by    Battle Reports Gaming Hear Me Out Hear Me Out Cyle Warhammer 40k        0

Flying on the Wings of Victory

Hello everyone! Still-not-first ITC Dark Angels Gunum here, bringing you another write-up on trying to come up with my own powerful Dark Angel meta, one unit at a time. This time with a special guest, a fellow Goonhammer writer, Wings (as Cyle is away for the week). I’ll see if I can bring him over to my side of righteousness and hopefully provide him with a much-needed distraction from all of his ELDAR he’s playing.

The way I do this, is that I’ll start with a unit that I think has some real Gold-Star potential that you could bring to a competitive event and have a real shot at doing well, and then build a list around it. Hopefully, through my painful and almost methodical thought process, you’ll be able to glean some insight on how even if some units or even ideas are bad, you can still take a battle plan to an event and see it through with some success. These lists will be primarily Dark Angels focused, but I play a wide variety of armies and will explore this format often.

In Cyle’s absence, James “One_Wing” Grover is stepping up to the plate and preparing his most skeptical eyebrow. James is normally seen piloting Eldar lists when he heads to events, but is one of Goonhammer’s regular authors on Codex reviews and Start Competing, and also does list reviews for tournaments he attends, so is more than ready to have opinions about Space Marines. He also has a special affinity for Dark Angels, as being exposed to Final Fantasy VII at an impressionable age has given him a lifelong appreciation for the swords, robes and wing aesthetic (as well as a screen name he’s still stuck with). He also loves planes, which can only help here.

++++++Wings’ Notes++++++

Look I really want Dark Angels to be good, OK, so I’m game to play along here. Like a lot of early codexes, they’re stuck in that frustrating limbo where it’s clear from recent releases that GW understands how to fix their problems, they just haven’t got round to it yet. It feels like there’s a good amount of untapped design potential scattered among the Ravenwing, Deathwing and Inner Circle theming, it just currently hasn’t really had much done with it. However, the thing Dark Angels definitely do have going for them is that their various weird and wonderful units are frequently nearly great, so I’m hoping that in Chase’s hands one of them can be molded into something that stands out.

++++++End Notes++++++

You know, that’s a really kind thing to say… I’m so used to being down-trodden by Cyle that maybe this will be a great new experience. I mean, the Inner Circle thing… I’ll just pass by that! The rest totally fits though.

This week the unit I will be trying to focus on is…

~Dark Talons~

The List

Hear Me Out, Wings! - Click to expand

+++ Hear me out, Wings! (Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition) [107 PL, 8CP, 1,998pts] +++

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium - Dark Angels) [83 PL, 8CP, 1,398pts] ++

Battle-forged CP [3CP]

Detachment CP [5CP]

+ HQ +

Librarian in Phobos Armour [6 PL, 101pts]: 4) Hallucination, 6) Mind Raid, Camo cloak, Force sword

Lieutenant in Phobos Armour [5 PL, 81pts]: 5. Target Priority, Warlord
Bolt Carbine & Grav Chute: Grav-chute, Master-crafted occulus bolt rifle
Shroud of Heroes

Master [6 PL, 124pts]: Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer

+ Troops +

Infiltrator Squad [5 PL, 110pts]: 4x Infiltrator, Infiltrator Sergeant

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
4x Scout (Combat Knife)
Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Combat knife

Scout Squad [4 PL, 55pts]
4x Scout (Combat Knife)
Scout Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Combat knife

+ Fast Attack +

Inceptor Squad [20 PL, 295pts]: 4x Inceptor, Inceptor Sergeant
Plasma exterminators: Plasma Exterminator

Inceptor Squad [20 PL, 295pts]: 4x Inceptor, Inceptor Sergeant
Plasma exterminators: Plasma Exterminator

Ravenwing Darkshroud [7 PL, 138pts]: Heavy bolter

+ Heavy Support +

Eliminator Squad [3 PL, 72pts]
Eliminator: Bolt sniper rifle, Camo cloak
Eliminator: Bolt sniper rifle, Camo cloak
Eliminator Sergeant: Bolt sniper rifle, Camo cloak

Eliminator Squad [3 PL, 72pts]
Eliminator: Bolt sniper rifle, Camo cloak
Eliminator: Bolt sniper rifle, Camo cloak
Eliminator Sergeant: Bolt sniper rifle, Camo cloak

++ Air Wing Detachment +1CP (Imperium - Dark Angels) [24 PL, 600pts] ++
Ravenwing Attack Squadron (-1 CP)
+ Flyer +

Ravenwing Dark Talon [8 PL, 200pts]: 2x Hurricane bolter

Ravenwing Dark Talon [8 PL, 200pts]: 2x Hurricane bolter

Ravenwing Dark Talon [8 PL, 200pts]: 2x Hurricane bolter

The Tactics

I’ve heard the lamentations of my brothers. Being stuck on the ground while the Eldar take to the skies in Multi Damage, Hard to Hit doom machines. Well, it’s a good thing we have a unique to the Dark Angels aircraft that does all that and more.

What really brought me to look at Dark Talons was their pure amount of shots they can put out, as well as the primary guns possible anti-tank uses This list allows me to focus on some of the stand out things I’ve found effective in Dark Angels, as well as fly around some planes that have literal angel wings attached to them. Wings with Machine Guns! Let’s dive right into what we are looking at here!

They are called Dark Talons cause they Darken the skies with their… Talons…. the hurricane bolters…

The thing about these guys is that they are murder machines when it comes to hordes. Two hurricane bolters and their Stasis Bomb’s allow for there to be real pressure placed onto any army who dares brings units of 10 or more. Not only that but in times of dire need, we can advance and benefit from Jink!

This is a unit I have spoken very poorly of in the past. In our Stop Competing article, I put them in the lowest tier and to be honest with you all, as well as myself, going into this I do have my doubts. The weight is there in the model, but the survivability is just -hard- to get over. Even if it was just 10 wounds I’d be much more excited about it.

++++++

Dark Talons have a special place in my heart because my very first ever tournament game was against an army packing three of them, back in the wild west of early 8th. They’re extremely cool models and have a very nice breadth of abilities that allow them to engage a broad array of targets. Sadly, they have some big problems, mostly stemming from their high cost. Prior to the rule of three, when they cost 160pts people were turning up to events with whole armies full of these, and in that context, the fact they could profitably engage with most targets made them way too good. Much like Flyrants, however, it turned out that once you can’t saturate the table with them they were probably fine or close to it at the original cost. Comparing a 200pt Dark Talon to a Crimson Hunter Exarch or an Iron Hands Stormhawk is a real eyebrow-raiser, with the T6 10W statline being the most severe problem at the price. They were pretty scary the first time I faced them, but every time they’ve come up since I’ve just swatted them straight from the sky without worrying too much. The fact that they have to close to SMITE range to start doing their thing properly is also far from ideal against some armies 

Despite all that the fundamental “shell” of a good unit is here – they’ve got guns for hordes and bigger targets, the ability to dish mortal wounds on anything that tries to wrap your infantry, and have some positive matchups out there in the metagame, bringing quite a bit to the table against GSC and Chaos. We can make this work.

++++++

Now digging into the rest of the list, we have a couple more stand-outs I could dig into with their own article, but what I want to call out are the Company Veterans, Asmodai, and the Deathwing Knights. When we are looking at these units I’ll be looking to use them as my downtown punch!

“Gunum,” you may be saying to yourself Wings, “Where are the Plasma guns on these Dark Talons?” That’s a good point! They don’t have any! So let’s turn up the VENGEANCE in here and shove in 20 Assault Plasma Guns! It’s time for the return of Plasma Inceptors!

As I’m sure the more avid brethren can remember, these guys made quite a splash for me at Nova. Their Plasma Exterminator do just that, Exterminate. 10d3 shots at S7/S8 at D1/D2 gets to really add up. Next, we add in our tried and true Phobos Lieutenant Warlord with Target Priority to give us that -required- +1 to hit against any single thing. Of course, relying on Weapons of the Dark Age, our Plasma Exterminators get turned up to purge level stats with 3Dmg. So if you’re following along with our perfectly reasonable and good math here. That’s 20 shots on average, hitting on 2s, killing everything on 3s. These guys, backed up by our Aircraft, are going to bring down the heavier things the Talons won’t be able to pull off.

The final special sauce in this list is the Hammer Master. As you may have seen from our latest Hammer of Math, these guys can really bring the damage. Now, as Dark Angels, my Hammer captains are the featherweight of that entire article. The only thing we can do is attack twice and if I felt really cheeky, turn him into a Death Wing. For reasons.

This list’s true power comes from the waves of high damage pressure we can put on. We will also have the bonus survivability provided to our aircraft from the Dark Shroud. -2 to hit our gunboats will really help in cases of us going second. Finally, if people weren’t able to answer the Dark Talons, we follow it up with the knock out punch of our Inceptors. I plan on having the Hammer Captain just stay on the table, and jump around being a threat, and also hopefully getting near where the Inceptors land to pass on his re-roll ones.

++++++   

As you’ll see from my version of the list in a second, I like having one unit of Inceptors but I think that two is excessive when we’re trying to make this build work. We have to at least entertain the creative fiction that we’ll be leaning on the Dark Talons for more than one turn of impact, and I also really don’t love opening the door to Gangbusters wide open when we’re not compelled to – as I covered in my ITC Secondaries article it tends to be a near freebie when it’s available, and I think we can use the points from the second squad more effectively.

I do basically like where the rest of this is going though – it’s got stuff to push the middle, stuff to hold the back and a core of powerful threats that aren’t trivial for all armies to remove. Basically what you want in a tourney list.

The only other unit I’m a bit torn on is the Phobos Librarian – I assume the CP farming from mind raid is the main justification, but I wonder if a vanilla one with Aversion and Mind-Worm might not be better.

++++++

So going into the ITC missions side of things, what can we pick that will finally lock us into victory? Right now we are looking at Recon, Marked for Death and hopefully Reaper!  This list is more of an offensive list then I’ve played in the past, so focusing on removing my opponent’s models as quickly as possible I feel will be the primary play. The Secondary that’s going to be an easy pick for my opponents are going to look into are Gang Busters, as the Inceptors now have 3 wounds and are now eligible for that pick. Next, Big Game Hunter and a probable, Recon as well. My list is going to be able to really delete Hordes, and on turn 2 on, anything else the Inceptors look at.

++++++ 

OK so as already covered the main thing I’m not sold on is the second Inceptor squad. Quite apart from the Gangbusters’ weakness, my worry is that with two squads a lot of our power is held in reserve and that’s a big problem for an army where the key threats are already over costed for their level of resilience. I also don’t super love not using all three detachments. I had a cast around for how best to optimize this, and I’m pretty happy with the following:

++++++

King of the Ravens, click to expand

Dark Angels Battalion
HQ 
Lieutenant In Phobos Armor, Warlord, Trait: Target Priority
Librarian in Phobos Armour (Mind Raid, Tenebrous Curse)
Samael in Sableclaw

Fast Attack:
5x Plasma Inceptors
Dark Shroud

Troops:
5x Infiltrators
5x Scouts
5x Scouts

Dark Angels Spearhead
HQ:
Smash Master, Shroud of Heroes

Heavy Support:
3x Eliminators, carbine
3x Eliminators, carbine
3x Eliminators, carbine

Dark Angels Air Wing

Flyer
Dark Talon
Dark Talon
Dark Talon

++++++

A strategy that I’m expecting to use more and more with my Eldar planes, now that Hawkeye exists, is converging on an Autarch for the buff aura. If this list gets first turn, it already kind of wants to converge the Dark Talons into a single place to benefit from the Dark Shroud. With that in mind, adding Samael makes a lot of sense – he’s a mobile, reasonably cost-effective unit in his own right and bringing along Chapter Master re-rolls for the Dark Talons when they ride alongside him lets them be the best they can be. He’s also going to be on the board from turn 1 contributing his firepower and adds a second reasonably dangerous counter-charge threat. In some games, the second Inceptor squad is undoubtedly going to be great, but I worry that leaning so heavily on them is quietly going to lead to too many games where the army just collapses and can’t compete

Shuffling the points around like this also lets you squeeze in the third Eliminator squad and make a third detachment. I don’t need to say too much about these – they’re one of the better units in the Marine book so Dark Angels getting them with all their updated rules and abilities makes them one of the best units they’ve got in their arsenal.

Of course, unmoored from the need to aim for #1 Dark Angels (i.e. best at swords) we have the option of adding other Imperium elements. I honestly really like my list above and am not totally convinced that souping adds a tonne. More command points are attractive, but having sketched out a few options nothing I see massively compels me. Maintaining the spirit of my version of the list means keeping at least the Dark Talons, Samael and the Inceptors, and that’s more than half the points before we’ve even started paying additional HQ taxes. I couldn’t find anything that really compelled me while trying to stay that loyal to the Dark Angels.

Staying loyal is of course massively off-brand, so the other thing you can do is flip it around and ask whether there’s anything we can combine a pared-back Dark Angels contingent with. Stealing shamelessly from Konrad Bartkiewicz’s pre-nerf Calladius list and adding in some new spice from the September FAQ, I think there’s a compelling option:

++++++

Target Saturation - Click to Expand

Dark Angels Spearhead
HQ 
Samael in Sableclaw
Smash Master

Heavy Support:
3x Eliminators, carbine
3x Eliminators, carbine
3x Eliminators, carbine

Dark Angels Air Wing

Flyer
Dark Talon
Dark Talon
Dark Talon

Astra Militarum Battalion (Vostroyan) – Emperor’s Fist Tank Company
HQ
Tank Commander – Hammer of Sunderance, Lascannon
Tank Commander – Demolisher Cannon, Heavy Bolter
Tank Commander – Demolisher Cannon, Heavy Bolter

Troops
Infantry Squad
Infantry Squad
Infantry Squad

Elites
Platoon Commander – Warlord, Old Grudges, buys Kurov’s Aquilla
Astropath

++++++

Target saturation is big and clever, and I think Vostroyan Demo Cannon Tank Commanders is a tool that’s waiting for someone to find the right shell.

I think they’re a great fit here. Between them and the Hammer of Sunderance, you suddenly have a lot of additional anti-tank firepower. Unlike the Inceptors, it doesn’t just die to a stiff breeze on the counterattack and doesn’t need nearly as much support. As I found out to my cost when facing it, combining the Hammer, the Vostroyan strat and Old Grudges is no joke, often allowing you to reach out and delete one thing of your choice turn one with relative impunity, and being relevant against even the biggest targets. This list has a huge amount of both anti-heavy and anti-infantry firepower ready to deploy and doesn’t really pack any easy targets, making it potentially quite strong. Is it as good as running the Tank Commanders alongside Custodes stuff? Probably not, but if we want to bring out our beautiful wingèd sky babies out to play I think it works.

++++++

Okay so, I’d be lying if I said this whole process didn’t feel weird to me, getting a different take from someone who isn’t Cyle. Wing’s really took my list and leaned into the Ravewing part, which I can respect. His soup list, on the other hand, feels just… right? It’s a very different take on the same list, that feels like by using the soup option, it shores up a bunch of the weaknesses of my primary list.

It’s almost as if I can’t completely dismiss the advice as terrible, I feel like I should listen, or even make adjustments. Maybe this is the moment, where I realize pure Dark Angels might not work as well as I think they will. Maybe there is hope…

Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.

The Field Test

So I changed absolutely nothing in my list, as I am as stubborn as my Chapter, and pressed forward.

The midwest has a high focus of competitive-minded people and for this playtest I called up my opponent from my first HMOC, Warhog Nick Harlow. Now the last time we played, Nick brought along a list that his heart wasn’t really into. He has been on a kick with some Xenos thing called a Scorpion and I encouraged its appearance on the field of battle. This thing just sounds like a dirty Xenos BaneBlade and I kill Xenos all the time. Should be fine, this list can deal with big things.

Its BS 2+? Okay.

26 wounds at T8? Just a Castellan. That’s fine.

It gets a 5++ when it moves? And… hold on, wait, how many shots does it have?

Oh.

Stay Over There!! click to expand

Alaitoc Air Wing Detachment
Flyer: 2x Crimson Hunter Exarch
Flyer: 1x Hemlock Wraithfighter

Custom Eldar Spearhead Detachment – Ignore Cover, Heal a Wound a Turn
1x Farseer
2x Warp hunters
2x Night Spinners

Alaitoc Super-Heavy Detachment
1x Scorpion

The Pre-Game Show

As is custom, Wings, here at HMOC, we like to do a lot of guesswork and feel out the game with just the lists provided.  How do you think it went?

++++++

Hey, whoa, hang on, I didn’t sign up to be talked into beating a Scorpion.

This list presents some…challenges, shall we say. I do not anticipate this going that well.

There are a number of glaring, category A existential problems with facing down this list. The first and probably most glaring is that the Scorpion is an Inceptor killing machine, and as long as the Farseer is babysitting it, it can do so on the intercept via Forewarned. I’m…not super clear how you can deal with it, once that’s factored in? I guess if you have a lot of cover you can maaaaybe deploy the Inceptors on the board and move them up to go for the kill, but that might mean not having them in range of the Lieutenant to use Target Priority.

The rest isn’t super encouraging either. Warp Hunters are a complete nightmare for Dark Talons because closing to engagement range brings you close enough that they can just move up and blast you straight from the sky with their flamer mode. Meanwhile, Night Spinners with Ignore Cover are hilariously well-tuned to ruin the day of your Infiltrators, gradually and nearly flaying them from the sky.

He also has planes, which, you know, of course he does. The Hemlock will cheerfully take out a Dark Talon turn 1, which added to the one the Scorpion presumably exterminates leaves one left for the Crimson Hunters, who don’t need to high roll that much to finish the job. 

Overall, I think this list exposes some of the problems with the Dark Talons – it’s got a horrendous early game that kinds of demands the ability to body it off the board in kind and our first turn firepower just isn’t really up to it.

Go on. Surprise me.

++++++

Okay, Fair. Those were some… well harsh but fair points to be made. Honestly, going into the game I was really thinking about how many command points he has. It’s only 5. So his tricks are very limited. He gets to Phantasm if he goes second, he gets to Lighting Fast Reactions once, and then….. a reroll? That’s it. No Forewarning if I can get him to burn all of his CP right away.

So really, as any good Dark Angels player would think in this situation, going first would be key and forcing him to burn his CP as soon as possible so then I was the only one holding any trick cards.

I agree on the aircraft though, as one of the Eldars stand out units, being able to answer them is a puzzle I’ve been having a really hard time with. The Smash Master might be okay when paired with the plasma fire from the Inceptors. But all in all, none of this matters if I can’t kill that Scorpion. If it lives, I’m in deeeeeep trouble.

 

 

The Mission

We rolled mission one which I was just pleased as punch with. My list had way more board presence than his, that meant Bonus points baby! the old adage of Play the Mission might actually stand to be huge here. With my scouts and all of the L blockers on this table, I think I stood a pretty good chance of taking enough points off of Primary to take this game, no matter what was left standing on the table.

When I was looking into secondaries I knew I was going to go Big Game hunter and Titan Slayer. I would only get 3 points off Titan but I figured I’d go for the guaranteed points I could. My last one was a tough call, he had four heavy-hitting LOS ignoring guns, so my normal go-to of Engineers was a bad choice. Marked for Death stacks poorly with Big Game Hunter in this scenario. He only had one character. So that left me with Recon or something like Ground Control. When I was looking at his list and just the stunning amount of damage it could put out, I decided to go with ground control. As long as I didn’t get tabled, I’d have a shot at some more points, where Recon just felt like a giant Suicide mission.

He automatically picked Gang Busters as Wings rightly foretold, Big Game Hunter and Old School. So that wasn’t great. I realized too late that the Dark Shroud has 9 wounds, and with its incredible passive bubble, it makes it an early target. I would not be able to stop Old School, and he was going to get Gang Busters because if I hid my Inceptors, I wouldn’t have a chance to win the game. I needed their damage to be applied anywhere and everywhere.

I got to deploy first, he had MUCH fewer drops than me so he definitely deployed as though he was going to go first. I deployed my Dark Talons all within 6 of my Dark Shroud to try and take some of the pain off of them by making them -2 to be hit. I placed my Slam Master just in front of it, screened by 5 scouts all in an L blocker.  I put one Eliminator squad on the second floor of our Magic Box in the middle, with a clear line of sight to his Farseer. I put the other one on the SE objective hiding out of LOS. I strung one unit of scouts to get between the middle objectives along with my Phobos Libby. Finally placing my Infiltrators in the NW L blocker to hold that objective.

Before the game even began, on 5 objectives. The mission is already a huge success before we even get started. We rolled off, he got the plus one of course. I rolled a 5 he rolled a 3.

We got there team, First Turn locked down. I am feeling purely, utterly confident here. He goes to seize and fails. His immediate response to that failed to seize with Phantaseming.

Eldar Command Points – 5 to 3 – Forewarning is still a possibility. 

I felt so Wise. I had foreseen this happening in my pregame dreams. What he moved was not what I had expected though.

The Dark Angels take the field. Aircraft ready to strike!

Look at this Eldar battle pile. He pulled back to eat up as much space as he could in his own area, and I noticed that by pulling back like that, he would be able to move up his minimum with each plane to use as large deep strike denial blockers, stopping my inceptors from delivering their damage where they needed to, right onto the scorpion. Maybe going first wasn’t the best idea.

The tricky Eldar pulls back deep into their deployment zone.

Once the first turn started to move through,  I felt much better then I had expected too! By deploying my scouting units on all of the objectives I was going to bonus at least twice for sure. I advanced up one Dark Talon up the left flank, getting that sweet invul from Jink then using Speed of the Raven, so we can actually use the plane. The other two Dark Talons I brought up the middle as well, advancing my Dark Shroud to keep up with the middle Dark Talon to keep the -2 to hit option. I made sure all of Dark Talons were within 12″ of a tank to maximize shooting and started to tear into his line. My Talons put their hurricane bolters into T7 targets, just not…. doing anything… It was pretty disheartening that all of his units had the fly special rule so I didn’t get to benefit from Strafing Run.

What I was very impressed by, was the primary guns on these Dark Talons. The issue was that the gun was such short rage, at only 18″ I could only target the Warp Hunters as real threats. I target the Warp Hunter who he promptly used Lighting Fast Reflexes on, causing me to be -1 to hit. Of which I countered with my +1 hit Raven Wing Signal the Attack, so I could still hit on my powerfull* 4’s with the primary gun. Once they were done shooting, one Warp Hunter was dead and I put 2 on a plane. Honestly, better then I had expected so I was pretty happy.

The rest of my shooting was supposed to be a bit more impressive, with the Eliminators all putting their shots into the Farseer and only doing 2 wounds through his 4++. Then that was it, that was my turn. I killed a Warp Hunter and got my bonus point. Let’s go!!

Eldar Command Points – 3 to 1 – Forewarning power down. Inceptors are safe. 

Dark Talons Strike! One threat down.

His turn was flying forward, Jinxing my invul save aircraft, then lining up his flamer for auto hits on the exposed center aircraft. Another Wings prediction came true at this moment, his Wraithfighter shot 5 times into my Jinxed Dark Talon, wounded 5 times, and I failed every save taking 10 and crashing. The center aircraft was blown into tiny, itty-bitty pieces by the Scorpions relentless shooting. Then, in a move that gave me a breath of relief, he put his Exarchs into my Dark Shroud instead of my last plane, needing to use both to kill it thanks to the 4++ from Jink. His last Warp Hunter put its D6 auto hits of S10, -4 D6 dmg into the last plane. Rolling a 1, cp rerolling into another 1, doing only 2 damage onto the last Dark Talon. His line of sight shots went into snipers and scouts, low rolling the shots causing both to live.

Dark Talons Left – 1

So turn one, went better then I could have dreamed, to be honest. I thought all planes would be gone, as well as losing my units off of the objectives. Lucky for me though, he had to use all of his shooting to deal with my planes and the invuls attached. The desire to Jink all of the time is so real. If these things could advance and shoot? Man, they would be good.

By this time, my Hammer Master was had made it to the magic box in the middle, my Libby was hiding in there as well, but I moved him out to cast some shenanigans. (Spoiler, he failed both spells then died to the Wraith fighter.) I then got to explore the other cool thing about Dark Talons, they hover. So I was able to line up a shooting solution on his warlord without an issue. I was feeling really good about two hurricane bolters shooting into a Farseer, which should be fine.

When the shooting phase began, the Dark Talon put every gun into the Farseer, dealing a total of 4 wounds, after so just fire saves from Nick. Clearly, once my primary unit fires, he just blew all of his luck here. This was it. This was the turning point of the game.

The Hammer unit has arrived.

There was a nice space right within 12″ of his Scorpion for my first unit of Plasma Inceptors to land and really show it who was boss. Using my Target Priority and Weapons of the Dark Age, I wasn’t sure how good this was going to go, but with some wishful thinking, this was one dead Xenos tank.

I rolled my shots into the following interaction:

Chase:  Okay, Overcharging the Plasma Executioners. 10d3 shots. 23. Excellent. Hitting on 2s. Miss 2. Perfect.”

C:I do…. 14 wounds on 4s. Make your 5 ups.” 

Nick rolls 11 5 ups. 

N: “Okay I take 12. I’ll take my 12 6+ fnp thanks to spirit stones, I take 10.”

C: “………………..”

Whelp.

Sometimes plans just don’t work out.

His turn was using his three living planes to lock out his entire deployment zone from my next squad of deep strikers. He killed off the Inceptor squad that was on the ground with his Exarchs and Night Spinners, the last wounds on my aircraft being torn off by the Farseer and indiscriminate throw away shooting. He then used the Scorpion to shoot my Phobos LT in the face for something in the lines of 30 damage.

My hammer Master, trying to save the day, acted as a reroll bubble for my next squad of Inceptors who came down in the middle. They burned my last CP to put 9 wounds on one Night Spinner, and 11 on the other one, of which both were finished off by that very same Hammer Captain. Whom on turn four also took a full round of shooting from the Scorpion.

I was tabled on five. 

Score: Nick 31 – Chase 22

~The Winner~

Wings, and by proxy, CYLE.

Now I’m not saying I was wrong with this list build, but I want to point out how actually really close this game was. This was a good example of a game where the score may not have reflected exactly how close to defeat Nick was.

I had scored Bonus on turns 1, 2, and 3. I got 0 Ground Control points of course, and though I did end up maxing out Big Game Hunter thanks to my Hammer Cap, I only got 2 off of Titan Slayer. Turns 1 – 3 were all 4 points me, 3 points Nick. Finally, he only had 6 ground units, my fastest course to victory here was clearly Boots on the ground, and all he had left was that Scorpion and his Farseer.

And all of his planes, but who’s counting.

So could I have done much different here? I really don’t think so to be honest. The only other play I could have done is brought both units of Inceptors down and really put the pain onto the Scorpion. That may have allowed me a bit more of a chance for a unit to live, giving me a chance to pour more plasma around. I honestly, thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the list, the issue really is how easy it was to give up secondaries.

Given another chance here, I think I would cut the second unit of Inceptors and the Dark Shroud to make it harder for my opponent to get secondaries against me. Maybe putting in a second Slam Master or even look at putting a Levathion in. I throw my Librarian away like a fool in a mad mans attempt to steal some command points. Honestly, I feel like this was a really strong game for my opponent, he was able to target prioritize the things that could actually hurt him and made sure those weren’t on the table anymore.

I could see using Dark Talons again and in the Space Marine matchup, I think they are actually a nice thing to have in the pocket if someone gets a little lazy with their Characters.

+++++

So while the result did end up as I predicted, I’m honestly impressed. Rolling up seize ground helps a lot, as this army can easily wrap up the bonus for the first few turns, and Nick doesn’t have super much in the way of “incidental” firepower that can be dedicated to blowing away some scouts without cramping his ability to kill the good stuff.

I’d spotted the vulnerability to BGH which is part of why I was leaning into it with my builds by adding more large targets. The fact that the Darkshroud is also PL7+ is kind of stupid for secondaries too, hopefully, that’ll change in an upcoming pass.

The big thing that surprised me from this writeup was the choice to use Phantasm. From Nick’s side of the board, I don’t feel like you can start contesting objectives until the Dark Angels are all dead anyway, and you can comfortably delete them from relatively extreme range, so just deploying defensively even if you think you might take the first turn seems fine. I would have held on to the 2CP for Forewarned as if my life depended on it, because I just don’t really see how the Dark Angels can win if you maintain the threat of paying 2CP to delete a 300pt unit, especially once Chase has committed to trying to kill the Scorpion via Titanslayers, and can’t afford to get tabled because of Ground Control. On that note, turning my best armchair general’s best glare over in Chase’s direction, I would definitely have picked Recon over GC here – realistically you’re going into this mission expecting to get tabled somewhere between four and six, and your route to a win is having the bonus on as many of those prior turns as possible. Any bonus turn on Seize Ground is a turn you could have Recon in, so I think it’s much better aligned with the overall plan.

Ultimately this is still a good example of how to try and deal with an inclement matchup – work out what they’re worst at (in this case contesting objectives) and play to their weaknesses. Here the sheer brutality of the opponent’s list (which I totally agree was such a horrific matchup that it almost felt tailored) meant that wasn’t enough – but the game was pretty close and even that looked like a tough sell.

+++++

Brethren, thank you for going on another ride with me here. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to lock down a win against this list. Mind you, this Eldar list was essentially built to hard counter me. Next time I’ve got a bit special surprise brewed up. I’ll be trying to lock down a game against some Iron Hands or even some Imperial Fists to really see if they are that much better than my Dangels.

A special thanks to Wings for taking the time out of his tea-drinking, crumpet crunching day to be my pretend Cyle while he’s off in the mountains of Europe for his Honeymoon. It was a blast to have a new view on this list and honestly, the Guard addition is very interesting. I’ll try and convince Cyle to take a couple more breaks for ya.

++++ 

I’d like to complain about British stereotyping but I am also literally writing this last bit while eating a lightly toasted English muffin with marmalade for my breakfast so, uh.

I’ve enjoyed this immensely, and never mind more breaks, I’m sure if you come up with something especially spicy we can persuade Cyle to let me come in for some tag-team dunks. Keep fighting the good fight for my sword n’ wing boys.

++++

Good Game.

 

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