Wednesday, January 14, 2009

IMPERIAL GUARD versus Dark Eldar

Game: Warhammer 40,000 3rd edition
Opponent: Gary
Mission: Rescue
Location: Nomolos
Background: The Imperial Commander of Finschan is already fighting a war against Orks upon his home planet, when they are further beleaguered by Dark Eldar raids. Reluctantly, he requests aid, and it comes in the form of Captain Kennell and his Cadians. They take the battle directly to the pirates on the surface of Nomolos.
1st turn: Imperial Guard
Points: 2000

Imperial Guard
  • Command Platoon 77, Captain Kennell, Junior Officer, Honorifica Imperialis, Company Standard, Medic, Missile Launcher, Sanctioned Psyker
  • Commissar Yarrick
  • Anti tank squad 3, Lascannons
  • Sentinel Autocannon, Extra Armour, Improved Comms
  • 8 Stormtroopers, Sergeant with powersword, 1 meltagun, 1 plasma gun, deep strike, infiltrate
  • Inquisitor Kurven, psycannon and emperor's tarot, 2 veterans with plasma guns, plasma cannon servitor, 2 sages, mystic
  • 3 Deathcult Assassins
  • Infantry Platoon 1
  • Command Squad 36, Junior Officer with power weapon and plasma pistol, 2 meltaguns, 2 plasma guns
  • Infantry Squad 501, Missile Launcher, Grenade Launcher
  • Infantry Squad 541, Missile Launcher, Grenade Launcher
  • Infantry Platoon 2
  • Command Squad, Missile Launcher
  • Infantry Squad 609, Missile Launcher, Grenade Launcher
  • Infantry Squad 812, Flamer
  • 20 Conscripts
  • Armoured Fist Squad Flamer, Chimera with multi-laser, Heavy Bolter, Heavy Stubber
  • 5 Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, 2 meltaguns, rhino
  • Sentinel Multilaser, smoke
  • Sentinel Multilaser, searchlight
  • Heavy Support
  • Basilisk, Indirect fire
  • Leman Russ, Heavy Bolter

Dark Eldar
  • Archon with Incubi retinue in Raider
  • 10 Wyches
  • Haemonculus with 9 Grotesques in Raider
  • Mandrakes
  • Warp Beast Pack
  • 2 Warrior Squads with two Dark Lances
  • Warrior Squad with 2 Splinter Cannons
  • 5 Reaver Jetbikes
  • 8 Scourges with four Splinter cannons
  • Ravager
  • Talos

Terrain and Deployment
Gary had been chopping and changing his armies for weeks now, and I never knew from week to week what he would be bringing to the game. He hadn't played his Dark Eldar for so long I had almost forgotten about them, so this was a big surprise.

Things got off to a bad start for my Guardsmen when we rolled a rescue mission. The mobility of the Dark Eldar versus the static firepower of the Imperial Guard meant that Gary was the clear favourite.

The board had medium to light terrain, mostly ruined buildings with a couple of woods and a large hill on my right flank. My left flank was relatively open, with a good 24-36 inches between the cover in the Dark Eldar deployment zone and the cover in my Cadian deployment zone.

I took a chance when setting up the rescue counters by placing all of mine right along one board edge, 12" in, gambling that I would win the choice of board edge and not have to move far to pick up counters. I won the dice off. Phew.

Just a note on the mission; we play our own variant where the 'real' counter isn't revealed until the end of the game, so you never know whether you have the objective or not. We find that this keeps things interesting and encourages us to play more aggressively.

Only troop choices can be deployed at the beginning of the game, so Gary set up both his Warrior Squads with Dark Lances on the hill, and his Warriors with Splinter Cannons on the open left flank. I had sixty models spread out across the board, as well as my Sentinels. They used their Scouts ability to grab two counters before the game even began. Excellent!

The Game
I won first turn and grabbed another counter with an infantry squad on my right. I advanced up the right, behind a ruined building, with an infantry squad toward a fourth counter. In the shooting phase I threw everything at the Warriors on the left and they broke and fell back off the table.

Gary realised that he had deployed badly when he found his Dark Lances were out of range of everything on my left and my units on the right were hidden by the woods.

In my second turn ALL of my reserves showed up (thanks to a re-roll for the Leman Russ from Improved Comms). I deployed every vehicle on the left, well out of Dark Lance range, and with very good fields of fire. I captured my fourth counter with an infantry squad on the extreme left, and this also left them in terrain, with an excellent field of fire.

The Dark Eldar were already on the back foot and things only got worse when only one Raider squad and the Jetbikes arrived from reserve. In fact it took four turns for Gary to get his whole army onto the table and by that stage he had lost control of the game. Because his units arrived piecemeal they were subject to my whole army's attention and were quickly destroyed.

Those Jetbikes, for example, boosted 24" onto an objective in the centre right but were blown from the sky by several Guard squads in the vicinity. All of his Raiders were shot down on the turn they arrived. He just couldn't mount a coordinated attack.

The only other thing to add is that because of the mission, I still couldn't be sure I'd win the game. I controlled four counters, one was in no-mans land (having been dropped by the Jetbikes) and Gary claimed the other with his Talos in the fourth turn. He retreated back to his own lines, hiding the monster behind a ruined building, so I sent my Inquisitorial Stormtroopers in to retrieve it.

They zoomed up the board and on turn six dismounted and took two wounds off the Talos. My Basilisk removed the last with an exact Guess and Hit (dangerous, considering the proximity of the Stormtroopers), so I grabbed the counter. Outrageous!

Gary still had the last laugh, though, when he assaulted me with some Warriors who had marched all the way down the hill over to this side of the board. He won the combat and I failed my morale test, giving the counter back to the Dark Eldar.

We rolled a d6 to determine who had the real objective, and it turned out to be the Guardsmen on the extreme left, in the ruins.

Result: Win

Imperial Control: Increased 35%

Kennell's Commendation: Those Inquisitorial Stormtroopers get Kennell's commendation for almost snatching that fifth counter in the last turn.

Learning points
  • When we rolled up the mission I thought I was screwed, but the position of the counters, our deployments, the reserve rolls, and the special abilities of my Sentinels helped me out enormously. Just goes to show, don't write off any missions as unwinnable.
  • I've only ever really played the Dark Eldar on smaller tables, so the short range of the Lances never really mattered, but on larger tables it is a much more important matter. By deploying well out of range of them I virtually guaranteed my ordnance would remain unharmed throughout the game.


  1. Pilgrim,

    Reading your battle reports make me wish i had kept a gamer diary for my early games.

    Your discriptions are vivd and entertaining, you can almost feel like you were there watching it play out.

    Keep up the posts.

  2. Cheers, Liam

    I would recommend keeping a gaming diary to any gamer, even if you don't plan sharing it with everyone on the internet.

    It's great to look back on and reminisce, and for geeks like me it's great for generating stats. It's also good for keeping your facts straight - it's amazing how often you misremember things that happened even recently.

    Thanks for reading.