First off this isn't cut throat, but it is Tau. So lots of drones, and with Chapter Approved 2019, the Tau enter the new year with perhaps some interesting options including cheaper Ghostkeels, and even Stormsurges.
My Tau oppoent brought out some known baddies and some other stuff to keep it real. Here's his list approximately from memory:
Shadowsun, another HQ (Metal model. Don't know the name.) 1 Stormsurge, 1 Riptide, tons of drones. A thin line of Kroot, a character that shoots a maker light. A squad of maker light dudes. 3 of the heavier (Crisis?) battlesuits. 2 x 3 Stealthsuits, Ghostkeel w/ 2 drones. Probably a few things I'm forgetting.
My Eldar List was like so:
We are playing one of the new Maelstroms. (Just love these since CA19). This one allows your opponent to select one of your activated cards and return it to your 5 card hand, and you can replace it with another selection.
We end up playing the "Pointy" Dawn of War map. My opponent gets first turn.... Tau with first turn. Fun fun fun!
- Basically he deploys first. Very typically the Tau are strung out along the back line. I do whatever I can to make it super hard for him to kill anything. If he gives me first turn, it will give me a chance to Psychic buff my army.
- You can see my (partial) deployment. There's not a lot to shoot at and I keep my freshly painted Crimson Hunter Exarch (CHE) in the back corner. He fails to kill anything beyond a single squad of Rangers. It's about the only thing he could have killed, but he does plink away at some of the Vibro Cannons.
He also jumps his Ghost Keel (left) up to start trying to flush out my Vibro's, but I do have my (Proxied) 5 man Dark Reaper squad.
Tau Deploy and and aside from his (hidden) stealth suits, you can see most of his army.
Since we have some actual line of sight blocking, I jump my bike HQ's up and failed to "Quicken" my Wraiths. They do get "Fortune" and I fail to "Protect" them.
- my first turn I take the Wraithfighter and unload some Heavy D Scythe action on one of his (right side of table) Stealth Suits. This just melts them and he's shocked how easy that was since I typically struggle very much to get rid of Stealth Suits in cover.
- I had advanced my Banshee packed Wave Serpent up the right side as well hoping it would be harder to see from the Stormsurge angle. I knew I'd take full pot shots from the Riptide, but I was prepared to ride it out. I had Vextored engines on and since I had advanced, I would be -1 to hit.
- So I end with barely getting first blood as well. My Vibro's popped some inconsequential shots off on the Stormsurge (just bad rolling on my part.) My Shadow Weaver throws 2D6 shots at Drones hoping to start weakening them. No luck. The 4+ 5++ is really annoying.
- Finally I jump my Dark Reapers out but I screwed them up... I shot the wrong order of weaponry into the GhostKeel. I probably wouldn't have killed it but by doing my shots backwards, it allowed him to shield off the first piddly wounds on the Ghostkeel. I 'Fire and Fade' the Dark Reapers back behind a wall.
- Mid game things get better for the Tau since I can't hide everything:
This is just before I roasted his Stealth Team. You can see I tried to get up as close to that mid building as I could.
- The Tau continue to shoot the crud out of me. He doesn't like the Wraithfighter and I proceed to put an additional -1 to hit on it in his turn 2. (I'm sure the flyers would have been gone but he wasn't sure what they really were capable of so he ignored them T1.) With Lightning Reflexes on, he's struggling to hit a bit more, but I still take 6 wounds.
- The CHE takes a few wounds as well, and the Riptide unloads it's entire payload into the Wave Serpent, perhaps only scoring about 4 wounds total. The Vibro's take some more wounds. I"m playing them properly now so they are on the ground, and it makes a difference.
- I've broken through the wall in my turn (bottom of 2). I also drop in the 20 man Guardian Blob in the ruins, just off the screen shot to the left.
- My psychic phase was abysmal last turn so I use "Focus" on my Spiritseer to help out the Warlock who's using Conclave +1 to cast Strat. So now with a +3 to cast I finally get off Protect on the Wraithblades. Then I put Fortune on the CHE as I think the Wraithfighter is toast.
- While it lives, my Wraithfighter ends up roasting another difficult to hit Stealth suit. My Reapers hop out, and shot at the Ghost Keel yet again, and fail to kill it. I get lazy and want to save the CP and don't jump them back into the building. That was a mistake I'd pay for as the Ghostkeel would wipe out the Reapers next turn.
- The CHE plunks a few wounds off of the Stormsurge, so do the Vibro's. But it's still just over half wounds.
- Here my turn gets a little stupid.... after the Guardians come in I shoot a LOT, and I mean a LOT of shots at the drones to prepare for assault. I cannot kill them. The 4++/5+++ is just too much.
- I do have my Wraithguard assault the Kroot, which are wiped out.
The Tau Retaliate:
- Sure enough the Tau are sick of my Reapers and annihilate them. Tau certainly don't like what the Wraithfighter has done so they destroy both Flyers. Now I know he wants and needs to get rid of the Wraiths, but I put Lightning Reflexes on them. He kills quite a few this turn, leaving me with 3 Wraith models with the firepower he has left Basically ignoring the Banshee Serpent, and the Guardians.
- The Vibro cannons lose one of their number, and my second squad of Rangers are dead.
Eldar make a desperate move:
- My Army is very shot up. I've protected the Wraiths well enough, but for shooting I'm really, really depleted now. I've realized how futile most of my shooting is. It just doesn't have a lot of volume, or quality behind it.
- My Pshychic phase is used to keep the last of the Wraiths alive. And here's where my shooting at drone reaches an all time frustration level:
- I know I need to get rid of the drones, but I plan for this massive assault by getting the Banshees out of the Serpent. I know I've lost this game unless I somehow get a LOT of his stuff into assault. Plus he's been using Shadow Sun to reroll tremendous shots from the Riptide and something else to reroll all to wound rolls.
- So back to the drones.... We count over 60 shots I took to kill 7 of the 8 shield drones. No joke. Thats all the Guardian blob, and 2 Shuriken Cannons, all the Farseer/Warlock/Autarch/Spirit Seer shots, and anything I had that could see in line of sight, including everything on the Wave Serpent. It literally takes the 7 pistol shots of the Banshees to try to kill the last drone. I think we counted 80 shots. Because in pure desperation I took about 10 shots from the Night Spinner AND STILL COULDN'T KILL THE LAST DRONE!. Insane.
- Here's the moment I gambled for.
- I take the Banshees and roll 2D6 charge. I declare everything within 15" since I can't be overwatched. I roll up a 13 for the charge! I carefully space out hitting about 5 of his units.
- The Banshees kill the Drone, I do nothing to the Stormsurge with his 3++ invuln, but I kill his warlord and a Crisis Suit.
- This gets me Slay the Warlord and enough points in the close combat to go up by 3 points breaking our tied score.
- The Riptide can still hop 12" over me, and the Stormsurge is on a wound or 2, so they shoot everything at the last 3 Wraiths, but I finally have a bit of luck go my way and I keep them alive. He scores zero Objectives.
- I throw the last Vibro's at the Stormsurge but fail to kill it. The last wounds are chipped off the Ghostkeel by my Night Spinner. A second Crisis Suit is down and I've moved the Banshees across his back line, advancing, assaaulting to hit the rest of his army.... He is forced to concede. Eldar victory.
- This was my first game in a long time without a Wraithknight. The list has evolved a lot from: Multi Wraiths and Wraithlords and a Wraithknight down to a single Wraith squad. Sad but probably more effective.
- Friends thought I was crazy adding in Banshee's. I did not know who I would play before the game, however I felt they were cheap enough to tie up anything for a turn perhaps. My problem with foot Wraiths is they're too slow and Quicken is too tough to pass reliably for Warlocks/Spiritseers. My thinking was I can blow up chaff with Guardians, move forward with Wraiths, start the assault chain with the Banshees.
- My opponent was caught off guard by some units. I don't like to play "Gotch ya Warhammer" so I tried to explain what units were capable of but it's a lot to absorb.
- The Wave Sperpent is my "anti meta" unit of the week. People don't play hard hitting, high damage weapons as much as they used to. I found the Tau player hated shooting his super high volume shots with 2D weapons into my Serpent. I wish I could take more really, and I see why so many lists have 3.
- The Flyers. I just don't know. 400 points, and the CHE feels very costly to me. I know some much better Eldar players than me still swear by it, but at the very least I would say don't use the Brightlances. At 36" you have to get too close anyway, just save some points to negate the point hike. I think it wasn't necessary to increase them since IH own the skies right now and really the Craftworlds abilities help out cheaper units hitting more often with crappier ballistic skill.
- The Wraithblades were good. Very powerful for one turn of combat, but what a pile of crud they had to march through. HQ's hold it all together with snot and toothpicks while you just cross your fingers and hope it all holds together long enough. This reminds me VERY much of playing my Black Legion Possessed squad. A very similar concept, and played very similarly.
- Vibro's continue to be 'good' for the points.
- Craftworld ability change: Without many Wraith units I swapped my secondary of Wrath of the Dead foe Masterful Shots (remove cover) which gave the lethargic Shurken shots a very slight up trend in ability in this game.
I continue to struggle with making a list I like. I'm starting to come to the conclusion that this is just an army that performs decently across (most) units. You rarely get the chance at a 'massive' win, but if played correctly it can beat a lot of opponent types. However with a lower model count, and such specialization there is extremely little room for error.
Wraithlords are 'good', but so are the CHE. Indirect is nice, but my last game had 2 Night Spinners which feel far better. The Wraithknight was supposed to be a painted centerpiece for army with Flyers and other Wraith units. There seems to be little point to this. The footprint gets too small.
I haven't used some units, or have very little experience with them. Reapers (an okay unit but fragile and require CP support/psychic support/babysitting). I could probably replace Wraithblades with some Shinning Spears if I wanted to be better in that area. But I've already sacked the Dscythe and Dcannon Wraiths.
So I'm still a little all over the place on the army. I've almost finished painting the CHE, and some HQ's. The Wraithknight continues to lay half assembled at my desk. We'll see.
Anyway another win somehow, but again by the slimmest of margins and the most unlikely of heroes... Banshees! Are they worth keeping? Or did I just get lucky?