This is a campaign being run over the summer by Games Workshop. Each week will be a different mission fought on a different planet as the forces of Chaos attack an Imperial system in the Macragge worlds. Battles using these missions can be played anywhere, and then the results reported to either your local GW store, or any independent store that has registered.
Wins grant victory points to either the Imperials or Chaos, and each planet's winner goes towards dictating not only the course of the campaign, but the ongoing 40K narrative. Not Imperial or Chaos? Then when you win, you can choose to deduct points from the either faction. You can even change which faction you deduct from with each victory. Also, nothing stops you changing your army composition, or even which army you use from game to game. Finally, you can fight each planet as many times as you can fit games in.
Week one is fought on the planet of Astaramis
I have a 1500 point game tomorrow. My opponent is probably playing Dark Angels, while I have a choice of armies. The scenario has an attacker and a defender, with the Imperial player defending. If you are both the Imperial or neither of you are, then you randomly determine. Since, I imagine, the Dark Angels would want to defend I will build a Xenos army to take them on. I'll explain my army building process here and then give an after-battle report later in the week.
I'll probably also remove points from Chaos if I win. Don't want to allow the Ruinous Powers a real space foothold so close to Craftworld Iyanden.
First, we have to look at the scenario.
You ideally want to be battle-forged. This will allow you to use Command Points, which then opens up the mission and campaign specific Stratagems. Most people I play insist on battle-forged anyway, and it's the way I prefer to build.
You are separated into attacker and defender. This then determines your victory condition, deployment zone and who goes first. It also determines which of the two mission specific Stratagems you can use, while the planet specific one is available to both of you.
Reserves don't turn up following the standard rules, but instead are delayed by a dice roll system like 7th edition. They also turn up from your board edge, rather than their usual ability.
What does this tell me?
As I'm going to build Xenos, that makes me the Attacker. That means I get points for each unit of mine that ends the game in the Defender's deployment zone. That suggests I want a fast assault army, but also one that can survive til the end of the game. That could be an issue, as Aeldari tend to be hard hitting, but fragile.
The Attacker's Stratagem favours assaulting as well, though it is made irrelevant by the Harlequin Rising Crescendo rule. The Defender's Stratagem makes Overwatch slightly more reliable for one unit a turn, although 2 points is relatively expensive. I can also try and get around it by overwhelming the opponent with target options. Finally, Inspired Tactics is interesting. Adding 3" to your Warlords abilities for the turn could be key at the right time, dependant on the Warlord chosen and their abilities.
Unpredictable Reserves, and losing the pinpoint deployment they usually have, makes taking units that want to be in reserve undesirable. I will probably avoid such units.
Lets start with the options.
I can either build Asuryani, Harlequins, mixed Aeldari or Ynnari. I can't build Drukhari as I don't have enough units to fill the points total, so they are out of the picture. I don't want to field the Ynnari, as my opponent has been out of the game for a while and Strength From Death doesn't feel very fair. Especially when the mission encourages me to get right into the middle of my opponent's army, making it much easier to trigger multiple times in a turn. Mixed Aeldari gives me a lot of options, so that's what I'll look at.
Here I go through the Index and list what units I'd consider using from the ones I own (this section could get long)
Jain Zar - Her War Shout stops Overwatch targeting her. Unfortunately I don't own any Howling Banshees at the moment, which makes her ability less appealing.
Baharroth - Interestingly, if you Skyleap, you aren't in Reserve. This allows models with Hawk Wings to still get to hard to reach spots. This is interesting, and I may consider him.
Autarch - I'll look at this model with Hawk Wings. Leaving the table in the first turn to come back in on turn 2, then using the Inspired Tactics to increase the range of Path of Command could be interesting.
Avatar of Khaine - Re-rolling Charge for friendly units, plus Battle Focus and the Attacker Stratagem could be potent. He also is quite survivable unless the opponent focuses on him. Which then takes heat from the other units.
Farseer Skyrunner - Fast moving Psychic support for the army.
Windriders - Fast moving shooting support.
Fire Dragons - Good at killing Marines and Vehicles, easy to kill in return though.
Wraithblades - An interesting choice, as a harder to kill close combat unit.
Wave Serpent - A hardish to kill Transport for other units.
Hemlock Wraithfighter - Fliers are hard to hit, but this may have trouble being in the opposing deployment zone due to it's minimum move.
Dark Reapers - Their ability to move and fire, and their missile options, make them a solid ranged support unit.
Wraithknight - This unit is everything you could want for the mission, but is a third of my points allowance. In 2000 points I would take him, but he may have to sit the bench in 1500.
Succubus - A close combat character, should be good when backing up the right unit
Reavers - Fast, hard hitting, probably going to make the cut.
Hellions - I like these guys, but they are too fragile for this mission.
Troupe - Close combat, speed and a Troops choice? This unit should be the core of the army.
Troupe Master - Useful for buffing the Troupes.
Shadowseer - Again, a buff for the Troupes and also Psychic support.
Solitaire - A potent close combat model, good at hunting characters and small units. It's even been errated to gain the <Masque> keyword, allowing it to gain buffs from the Troupe Master and Shadowseer.
Skyweavers - Fast, really fast. I want at least one unit of these.
Voidweaver - A mobile firing platform.
Essentially I looked for mobility first, the killing power, then survivability.
Taking one of everything, with base upgrades comes to 2380 points.
Trimming the fat.
I built the list as the Battalion Detachment. I figured that hitting the unit minimums for a Brigade would cost too much, but I want to maximise my Command Points.
Firstly, I have to make sure I hit the minimums. Adding two more Troupes solves that problem, but now puts the total to 2540. I also have 8 HQ selections, so I have to cut 5 of them. First to go is the Avatar. I suspect that I won't have many Asuryani units left after all the cuts, and he is a quarter of the excess points. Jain Zar also gets cut because I don't have Banshees to take full advantage of War Shout. Likewise the Autarch and Farseer leave, as they will suffer similar target problems. Leaving me 1 more HQ to cut, I'll drop the Succubus and with her the Reavers. The total is now 1718.
This leaves me 218 points over limit, and nothing has any upgrades. Dropping the Windriders and the Fire Dragons takes 210 of those points, and removes the most fragile remaining units. However, I do want a second unit of Skyweavers and a second Voidweaver, so that puts us back to being 200 points over.
It's at this point the hard choices start. I want to (assuming I don't have the initiative seized) dump my army into the Defender's deployment zone turn 1, and start hammering units hard so their ability to retaliate is hampered. Then use that mobility to keep the pressure on throughout the game until my opponent is incapable of killing anything, the game has ended or my army is dead. I also have to be careful as each unit I lose gives them a victory point.
That makes me drop 3 units. Firstly, both Voidweavers. Upon reflection they are a little easy to kill, even with small arms fire. And concerted heavy weapons fire can drop them quite easily. Then the Dark Reapers go. They have great killing power, but are slow to move so may not make it into the victory zone in time. This puts me at 1388 points.
Firstly, the Wraithblades. Mine are modelled with Ghost axe and Forceshield, so that is what they will have. This also makes them hit harder and survive longer. To give them mobility, they will be in the Wave Serpent. As one of the few Vehicles in the army, I expect it to take a lot of fire. It's job will be to drop next to a juicy target and deploy the Wraithblades the turn after. Arming it with 3 Shuriken Cannons and Star Engines allows it to Advance further and still have weapons it can fire. Spirit Stones and Vectored Engines, in conjunction with it's Serpent Shield, should help keep it alive longer.
The problem with all that is, while I've created the perfect unit for the mission, I'm now back to being 5 points over. To solve this, I'll remove 1 unit of Skyweavers, but increase the other unit by 1 model. Then replacing their Star Bolas with Zephyrglaives to make them hit harder.
This leaves me 7 points. I still want to add upgrades. To achieve this, I'm going to have to sacrifice something.
My goal with him in the army is to Skyleap off board turn 1, then reappear at the end to gain a survival victory point, or earlier if needed. 120 points is a lot for an insurance policy, at nearly 10% of the total. Sometimes you have to evaluate an idea and if it's not essential it has to be cut.
Now, with the points left I turn my attention to the Harlequins. The Shadowseer will be stock, as the Neural Disruptor isn't worth the points for 1 shot. Looking at melee options, the Embrace is really good, so I want a full unit of those. This leaves room for another Troupe. Which then leaves me 22 points.
1 model in a Troupe gets an Embrace too. Another in a different Troupe gets a Caress, and so does the Troupe Master. This finally brings us to 1499 points.
Final choices are Psychic and Warlord. The Wraithfighter will have the Enhance/Drain power. Giving either the Wraithblades +1 to hit in combat, or an opposing unit -1 to hit in combat as appropriate. The Shadowseer gets Twilight Pathways to help get the Solitaire where it needs to be and Fog of Dreams. This targets and enemy unit and gives them -1 to hit if they target Harlequins for shooting and combat, which becomes -2 if the unit is also Drained.
Warlord is the hardest choice. I think I will choose the Troupe Master, and go for the Legendary Fighter Warlord Trait. That extra attack on the charge should make more of a difference than the other choices.
So the army is
- Troupe Master
- Hemlock Wraithfighter
- Wave Serpent
Simple plan, hope to not have the initiative seized, leap into my opponent's army and cripple them before they have a chance to fight back. Alpha striking and my Psychic powers should minimise my casualties and then it's a case of surviving til the end of the game. With the speed of my units, and their ability to ignore terrain and models while they move, I should be able to pick and choose my targets.
Of course, this could all backfire. My opponent could seize the initiative, and have enough firepower to cause me problems. Or, I could do a lot less damage than I hope in my first turn and get locked into a war of attrition. That is not a war Aeldari want to be in.
Guess we will find out tomorrow.