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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FailMail: Famous VassFail Lessons and BatRep



Well folks, I received this in an email from one "Ronald Lendurad". It is a sad tale of epic playing failure and is full of shame. If you ever meet this "Ronald" make sure you mock him endlessly for this battle and never give him a chance to live it down, for it is truly....hilarious. With that said, "Ronald" did tell me about himself. Apparently he's a moderately competitive player who's rusty and out of practice and decided to warm back up to the game with 1750pts match on Vassal, seeing as his nearest LGS is very, very far away. I am going to ruthlessly critique his BatRep in hopes to provide some of the newer and younger players some invaluable lessons and "Don't Do's" that we, the experienced veteran gamers, sometimes take for granted. And so, without further ado, I present to you...FAILDAR: A Vassal Experience.


This was my....I mean "Ronald"'s initial set up. He's the Space Pups in the bottom right. He said the Mission was Seize Ground, they had the 3 Objectives you see above, and Deployment was Spearhead. His opponent had first turn as well. His opponent was wielding the mighty and feared "FootDar"! Army lists were basically:
Footdar: 5X minimal Guardian squads with either EML or BL, 2X WW squadrons with Scatter, Eldratar, 1X Squad of Harlies

Space Poodles: TWM Lord (SS/WC, WTN, WTT, Warrior Born), RP (CotS, LL, TW, Beast Slayer), LW (TDA, SS, CF), 3X GH (8X GHs, Melta, MotW, Banner, WG w/ Com
bi-melta, PF - one had a WC), 1X TWC (SS), 2X LF squads (5X ML). Now initial set up isn't too bad. All of "Ronald's" vehicles have cover or are out of sight. The only things exposed are his LW, LF's and his TWM/TWC (all of whom have a 4+ cover from the wall/ruins). Could his set up have been better? Assuredly. Two things he could have done were: the lone Rhino at the bottom could have been placed out in front of his LW to provide it cover and to deny shots at his LF squad in the ruins. Granted this would have made that squad a sacrificial lamb, but it would have permitted his LF's a chance to survive into later turns. The other option would have been to keep his set up as is, except hide his LF's out of sight on the right side and move them up behind the bottom Rhino on turn 1. They lose 1 turn of shooting, but they will be behind the Rhino and that would be the FootDar's biggest concern.

So kids, Lesson #1: Deployment. Vets ALWAYS harp on how important proper deployment is, and there's a reason to it. Poor deployment can easily spell defeat from the ge
t go, and if not out right defeat, it could severely hamstring your army and put you on the back foot from turn 1. When setting up your deployment, take take those few minutes to think into turn 1 and 2 and think what will your opponent focus his fire on when you deploy in Set Up X vice Set Up Y. Additionally, have an idea what you want your units to do in turn 1 and 2, if given Set Up X or Set Up Y. Don't fall into the trap that "Ronald" did and take only initial set up at face value. While he did demonstrate a grasp of the tenets of OCOKA (Observation/Fields of Fire, Cover/Concealment, Obstacles, Key Terrain, Avenues of Approach), he didn't extrapolate those tenets into the later turns, and only utilized them for his initial approach. Bad "Ronald".
Here above is what the field of battle looks like after Turn 1. As you can see, due to his poor deployment and general lack of aggression and understanding of the enemy, he has lost almost ALL of his long range fire support and managed to only destroy a lone WW. U
pside is he now controls on Objective, making the game a solid 1-1 on objectives. Not much to say about this turn other than

Lesson #2: Know They Enemy. "Ronald" had heard and read about how "Fail" FootDar was, but never actually played them in reality. So when he faced them, he became quickly intimidated by their sheer amount of fire they can put out per turn. What he
didn't realize until late in the game, is that against this army, you WANT to be exposed and rushing at the enemy from the get go. Will you suffer losses? Yes. But every full strength or even half strength unit that hits their lines means less shooting at you, and it marks the beginning of the end for them. The point here for newer players, older players who forget things, and "Ronald" is to know, either intimately or familiarly, with your opponents army and capabilities. Be familiar with their strengths/weakness, and then use them against them. Facing a non-mech, heavy firepower, but weak troop army (like FootDar, Foot Guard, etc)? Close the gap and deny their heavy weapons the ability to fire. Facing a very mobile Mech Army o' Doom? Use the terrain to bottle neck them, destroy key vehicles to slow their advance, and use your own Mech and Speed to strike them in their flanks or deny them the ability to move freely. As my old BatRep vs. GWvsJohns shows, using speed and terrain to your advantage can easily overcome list disparities. In that case, he used his dual land raiders to bottle neck my entire army between a hill and some woods. I couldn't go around without diminishing my fire power and reducing the Mass of my army. Additionally, they provided a living wall behind which large elements of his army were free to move without worry of return fire. So, tying in with Lesson #1, when you're going through the Steps of deploying, take a look at your opponent's army and decide whether it requires you to be more aggressive and close the gap as soon as possible, or is it possible to play a little more defensively, trading space for time, using the terrain to do harassing attacks before you unleash the full fury of your army on his exposed army.

Sadly there is no picture of Turn 2, so we'll go straight into Turn 3 (well the shot is of the end of the turn)!


As you can see, "Ronald" finally wizened up and went all aggressive. Sadly it was too little too late.His GH at the top disembarked and rampaged through a Guardian squad, but this left them exposed to enemy fire. It literally took the ENTIRE Eldar army to bring them down, but they eventually succumbed to making mass armor saves. Additionally, the 3rd Squad moved up the center (finally!) to take the center objective. Due to his general hesitance in this battle, they never played a key role in the game and could have been a tide turned had they been put forth earlier on. On the let his TWC/TWM combo rampaged through a guardian squad who didn't break (sadly), and are exposed to the Harlequin counter-attack. As you can s
ee, his RP and one squad of Fangs are long dead, but the other squad still has 2 stragglers fighting the good fight. All in all, no lessons learned here, just a reiteration of Lesson #2. Had he been more familiar with how FootDar plays and how they rely on superior fire power to make up for their craptastic combat ability, he would have been more aggressive sooner. As such, it took him 3 turns for the fog of this Pwn-fest to diminish enough for him to realize he's been playing wrong the whole time. Too little too late? We'll see, but his late game aggressiveness has put him in a better position which may allow him to clean house and salvage a minor victory.



This is the end of Turn 4. The Harlies counter-attacked and wiped out his lord (who by that point had 11 attacks thanks to WB....pretty much had he survived the 10 or so saves, he would have rape faced that Guardian squad and forced the excess wound/s onto the Harlies, possibly breaking them.), his GH at the top got Torrented to death, and his only shooting was two Frag missiles by his surviving Fangs at the Guardian squad on the left (2 guys strong) holding the Objective. His hope seems to have been to shoot them off the target, thereby giving him a solid Objective under his Control (the center one) and one more contested (the top right). Sadly, his shooting failed so he was currently at 1 Obj. held by Eldar, 1 held by SW, 1 contested by SW. At this point the pups were actually winning, but "Ronald", being constrained for time and not wishing to prolong the inevitable, honorably conceded. The next turn would have seen the entire Eldar army shooting the center Rhino and GH squad inside. If the squad managed to survive the fire (they could have), they would have been swamped in assault by the Guardians and Avatar, thereby making that Obj. contested. Either way, it seems that at this point in the game, the late game aggressiveness was not enough to turn the tide for the Wolves. Had the norther GH squad survived (and trust me, they almost did), it might have been closer, as they would have tied up at least one Squad in CC and allowed the center GH's a chance and surviving. As such, those lonely GH in the middle were doomed to face an entire gunline by themselves.

In the end, there are really only the two Lessons Learned for "Ronald" and other newer players. Deployment can and will make or break your army, and if you don't "know" your enemy, you won't know how to play and will be reacting the whole game instead of being proactive. And when those two issues combine, you have just severely hamstrung yourself and you will be fighting an uphill battle the entire game. Hopefully everyone learned something from "Ronald"'s failures and subpar playing. Everyone has bad games and makes stupid mistakes, and sometimes the only way we can improve is to air those mistakes and "D'oh!" moments to the community at large in hopes that others learn from it and discussion and advice arises.

So "Ronald", while I will forever mock you on here and on Vassal for losing to Eldratar's Footdar Army of Fail, you at least took the hit for other players who now can learn from your errors and will hopefully improve their game in the long run. Have a beer friend and take consolation in the fact that while you sucked a big brass monkey ball on this one, some n00b out there won't have to now because he'll have you on his mind when he plays. And who knows, you may soon become a catch phrase to keep players sharp and on their toes: "I sure hope I don't pull a Ronald and blow this." or "Hey! Don't pull a Ronald!"

Comment and feedback are, as always, very welcome

7 pinkments:

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Footdar?! Of course you'd lose ;)

Playing new things is often a big hurdle for me.

What were you planing on doing with that 'bottom' rhino anyway?

I have made this following mistake at least twice. I see an enemy flank and decide to allocate dudes to attack it. Those dudes are not supported very well, as it is not part of my main plan, and often get hammered whether they succeed or not.
Its like a lure during set-up ~ "Oh I must kill those baddies!" lol

SW are not the best at anything, imo. The only thing they do very well is Cav & Beasts. Otherwise, they are out shot by Ultras, Tau and Guard and out close combated by Templars, Blood Angels and Tyranids. What they do well is being good at what there foe is not good out.
This means that you need to assess what the enemy is and then play that weakness.
Shooty armies must shoot. Choppy armies must chop. SW can do either and so should do whatever the foe cannot.

Roland Durendal said...

Haha thanks for the feedback MW. As for the bottom Rhino...I honestly never had a dedicated plan for him. It was more of, "Rush and grab the center objective". I hoped my LW coupled with Fang Firepower would keep the pressure off the Rhino so they'd last longer. Sadly I withheld them too long before committing him. Same goes for the top, I didn't commit them when I needed to.

I agree completely with your last point, SW must take advantage of their opponents weaknesses, as I think more and more SW are a "jack of all trades" type of army: good at shooting, but not great; good at CC but not great. Can they go toe-to-toe with a dedicated shooting army? Certain builds can do it for a few turns but that's it. Same goes for CC - certain builds can last longer, but against a dedicated CC army, it won't be for that long

Now let's get on Vassal and find "Ronald" and make fun of him some more :p

VT2 said...

Visualize your depolyment, and settle on a two-part strategy to use (must flank and eat from left to right, refuse in left corner, advance midfield turn three, pincer centerline and spread out, bunker up midfield, wedge strike at center).

Brent said...

Ah, I loved this battlereport!

Thanks for swallowing your pride and posting it - great stuff.

Jonathan said...

I think if you had invested a little more in protecting your long fangs, even at the cost of a sacrificial rhino, you would have been much better off. My battle plan basically revolved around 'let's have fun with guided war walkers' and the long fangs at full strength would have shut that down in a heartbeat, so they had to go. The walkers really did the most damage that game, accounting for the long fangs, the rune priest, the GH squads at the top (freaking teen wulfen with his 7 passed armor saves before the set of wounds that dropped him), most of the lord and his TWC buddy, and they were getting ready to roll onto some rhinos. 2 full strength units of long fangs would have had me forced to rely on the guardians for shooting, and they couldn't hit the broadside of a barn that game except with their catapults. 5 guardian squads, harlies, eldrad, and avatar would have been pretty easy work for the GH and TWC.

I'd also like to add that I am not an Eldar player, but was messing around with ideas I had for other codex armies that day. This list pretty much auto-fails against land raiders, battlewagons, and chimeras. Case in point being that guardians kinda blow as bright lance platforms and bright lances in and of themselves are pretty crap.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Jonathan:
So you rolled Ronald with a weak list? LOL
Ron ron ron *shakes head*

Roland Durendal said...

@ Jonathan: Hey! Glad to see you on here and I appreciate the feedback and your view of the battle! I completely agree I FUBAR'ed by not being more aggressive with that bottom Rhino (well, with ALL my Rhinos and GH squads), and that had I moved him earlier he could have taken some of the fire that was directed at my poor Fangs.

Haha and yeah my lone Teen Wulfen Hunter was ridiculous with his armor saves. Too bad he didn't last, as I was hoping for a Cinderella story where he'd take out the rest of your Army singlehandedly :)

@ All: I appreciate the feedback and am thinking of making FailMail BatReps a more common thing: not only of my own BatReps (on Vassal and in real life when I get home), but if others have embarrassing or just "bad" games they want to put out there for critique and advice.

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