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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Battle Report: Grey Knights vs Dark Eldar

Grey Knights vs Dark Eldar, everyone's match-up with a strong opinion :P. I was using my Acolyte-based Grey Knight list with Psyker support against a mixed MSU Dark Eldar list (seen below) with max Night Shields. Hopefully this battle report will be an excellent example of some of the points we have raised in relation to both armies, particularly against each other and should serve as a practical example. Sorry for some blurry pics btw - think I had macro on.

Let's begin! Mission rolled was Capture & Control, Dawn of War. Yay *snooze*. Dark Eldar won the roll-off and elected to go first. Fine move since he has the range and speed advantage so will be able to maximise the amount of turns he can shoot at me. No one deploys anything on the tabletop so we go straight to Turn 1 - I don't bother seizing even with Coteaz, I'm happy to take the damage on the chin in an effort to get to midfield to minimise my range limitations and have the final move in regards to contesting objectives. Too easy for Dark Eldar to hide a venom late game and then move 24" and whilst you can block it, there's not always a guarantee you'll have enough to block every placement against a skimmer.

Dark Eldar Turn 1

As usual, the beginning of the game defines how the game unfolds - Dark Eldar along with some other armies have a unique advantage in being able to re-deploy very easily. That being said, the Dark Eldar deployment was pretty poor. Most armies against Grey Knights have a serious range advantage, especially when they go mass Passbacks like the Acolyte army here. With only three highly effective units at range (Dreadnoughts) and four extra so-so units (Chimeras + Psykers) PLUS night shields, the Dark Eldar could have dominated the game with board control and played keep away whilst shooting all game long.This means not moving up front and close to my lines even with Night Fight (there are some searchlights) and spreading out is probably the worst option available - it's maximising my chances to have all my units shoot when due to night fight, none of them should be.

Grey Knight Turn 1

Since the Dark Eldar has over-extended and put me in a potentially awesome position Turn 1, I have a choice to make. The long-term game plan is to get into midfield, ASAP.  The faster I get there, the higher chance I have of winning as I can turn this into an attrition game where my vehicles will out-last my opponents (though infantry is about equal) and my vehicles can actually shoot at the opponent. So, I can forego my opponent's mistake and forge ahead and move everything 12" as much as possible or I can try and get some shooting into play against the vehicles closest to me. Being the silly bimbo I am and not doing math in my head correctly, I decide to go for shooting with some passbacks when they could never reach anything.

Regardless, my Dreadnoughts and Chimeras will still be able to fire so hopefully they will be able to reap some benefits of searchlights. I move the majority of my Razorbacks onto the centre-right side. THere's a massive building in my back deployment which I don't want to send a bunch of vehicles through without Dozer Blades so my army will be going around it. One Dread joins them. Another Razorback + Chimera and final Dreadnoughts move onto the left side of the building whilst the final Chimera moves into the building and immobilises itself. Since we didn't discuss if the whole building was area terrain or not, we simply said it was destroyed even though there was room for the Chimera to fit without touching terrain. My mistake ^^ and now I don't have a vehicle sitting on my objective from T1.

Shooting does jack all. My searchlights only light one target and the rest of my shooting either fails to pen or see and the only damage I do is to stun a Raider with Warriors in it.

Dark Eldar Turn 2

The Dark Eldar got lucky having not been smacked around by shoving everything in my face on Turn 1 and now they can potentially dominate the game of board control. There are two options here, gung-ho and drop everything in my face and bottle me up and hope I don't break through or pull back with me having not moved on with my full speed and play the shooting game. The latter is really the best option as the former relies solely on an alpha-strike followed up by an attrition game - Dark Eldar aren't good at attrition games.

However, the Dark Eldar player does niether of these things and rather keeps a spread out formation in roughly the centre of the board. The two Ravagers move laterally and back to protect themselves (and the Razorwing comes in) but the Venoms + Raiders sit around in midfield for the most part rather than pushing and hemming the Grey Knights in or pullingback and limiting shooting. This does allow some of the Trueborn to shoot within the Venoms but this means even the Passbacks can shoot back next turn.

Shooting sees the far left Dreadnought lose an arm and one of the leading Razorbacks on the right becomes wrecked. I was a silly poo as well and had seven guys in the Razorback (which can only hold six) thanks to Coteaz...mistakes mistakes. I killed any extra one after the Venoms opened up and killed a few once we realised this.

Grey Knight Turn 2

Since the Dark Eldar army hasn't hemmed me in and is still within range of my army, I again don't need to move full speed towards midfield but can rather reposition and open fire. The Dark Eldar army still has the ability to remobilise and move out of range of my guns so I make sure the majority of that repositioning is as towards midfield as I can.

The Razorbacks on the right flank move up and spread out but due to terrain and wrecks, there's a limited amount of space for them to move which ends up with one being out of range (and thus I should have pushed one further up to have a stronger midfield presence). One squad of Purifiers jumps out to provide more firepower and Coteaz joins them whilst the weakened Acolyte squad jumps into the ruins. On the left the Razorback moves up to shoot whilst the damaged Dreadnought moves behind for cover and LoS. The other Dreadnought and Chimera move into the ruins for cover.

Shooting is more impressive this time around with the midfield Venom + Blasterborn being killed whilst the backfield Razorwing was shot down. The Ravager and Venom on the left are stunned and shaken respectively.

Dark Eldar Turn 3

The Dark Eldar army finally makes a choice and remobilises the vast majority of their forces to the left flank. The remaining vehicles on the right (Warrior Venom, Warrior Raider, Ravager) move back into the area of the objective on the far side. The Trueborn hop out of the Shaken Venom and move along the ruins to get good firing points whilst the remaining Venom and Raiders swing in behind the ruins.

Shooting sees the Razorback on the left flank stripped of weapons and movement ability whilst another Razorback on the far right explodes and dumps out the second Purifier squad. Splinter fire reduces these to two-strong whilst explosion damage reduces the Acolyte squad to a single man.

Grey Knights Turn 3

With the Dark Eldar finally committing to some plan, the Grey Knight army can churn into action. The right flank moves all remaining Razorbacks as fast as possible towards midfield to gain the centre, maximise firepower and extend pressure to the Dark Eldar objective. They were unlikely to fire this turn regadless so moving at max speed gives them the most options next turn. The Dreadnought on the right moves up behind the wrecks whilst the reduced Purifiers scramble amongst them to get into a good firing position against the Blasterborn. The other Purifiers with Coteaz move into the ruins with Coteaz roughly in the middle of the whole army to provide Sanctuary coverage.

On the left flank the Acolytes hop out of their striken transport and make a cresecent around it to force the Wyches to assault through the middle of the army or simply chew on a cheap ass unit. It also protects against the Warriors/Vehicles moving down that side. Dreadnoughts retreat to clear fire lanes but are close together so easy to multi-assault.

Shooting sees the Warrior Raider and Venom both taken down on the left flank thanks to a very nice Psyker blast (this really does seem to be my most effective anti-tank of late...). Seven Warriors are killed in the explosion of their Raider. The Venom on top of the ruins is Shaken again whilst the Purifiers are able to drop all but two of the Blasterborn. On the right flank the Ravager bites the dust.

Dark Eldar Turn 4

The right flank moves laterally to engage the Razorbacks pushing towards the middle after leaving the Warriors on the objective from the Venom. The Ravager on the left also moves laterally to get a clean shot at the left most Razorback. The Wych Raider moves into the middle of the Grey Knight lines and drops the Wyches who fleet towards the Chimera & Dreadnoughts whilst the Warriors plus newly acquired Haemonculus move down to engage the Acolytes.

Shooting sees the right Razorback shaken whilst the left one is Wrecked - the Acolytes are pinned as well. Sanctuary fails to cast (seriously..). The Warriors + Haemon assault the Acolytes which is a drawn combat after two deaths were caused on each side whilst the Wyches tore off the mutli-laster and immobilised the Chimera. However, both Dreads punch back and kill three Wyches who flee a whopping 2".

Grey Knights Turn 4

With the Wyches bouncing, there was very little pressure on my objective due to simple attrition but there was also very little I had to threaten the Dark Eldar objective and with 24" moves, the Dark Eldar are more capable of getting to mine than I am to theirs. Time to wall off my objective whilst the mobile part of my army keeps powering forward. The lone mobile Razorback swings round to the left of the central ruins to gain as much cover as possible - it's completely exposed to the Ravager on the left so it's important it gets suppressed. All three Dreadnoughts move up for better firing positions with the left two within escorting distance of the Wyches. The Psykers bail out of the Chimera to create some extra blocking around my objective (only one shock-prow left) whilst the lone Acolyte hangs out with them.

Shooting sees the Ravager stunned and the final two Blasterborn removed but no other damage is inflicted. In combat the Acolytes kill another Warrior and lose two of their own but pass their Ld and the combat continues.

Dark Eldar Turn 5

At this point the attrition war has taken a heavy toll on the Dark Eldar and there is very little left. The Venom on the right flank powers down to hide behind the circular ruins to move in and contest if the game continues whilst the remaining Raider moves back onto the rear objective. The single Blaster + Raider Dark Lance fail to destroy the Razorback in midfield whilst the Venom kills one Purifier from the two-man squad. The Haemonculus and Warrior finally kill the Acolytes they were with and consolidate.

Grey Knights Turn 5

The lone Razorback powers forward and drops off the Acolytes (who end up running 3" and sit on top of the objective). The Psykers + Purifiers + Dread around the objective wall up as much as possible to deny the Venom from contesting. However, I forget about the top floor and don't put any models up there which gives the Venom a perfect place to land and contest the objective if the game goes on.

Everything opens fire and three of the remaining four Dark Eldar vehicles die. The Venom and Ravager on the left and the Raider in the back-right. The explosion kills three occupants and one Warrior from the small squad which takes a few extra hits from a Dreadnought. All Ld are passed so the Warriors stay put.

Dark Eldar Turn 6

The Venom zooms onto the top floor of the ruins, passes difficult terrain test and contests the Grey Knight objective. The small Warrior squad on the DE objective tries to take down the Razorback with a blaster but fails whilst the larger squad attempts to combat the Acolytes off the objective which they do - one successfully flees. The other remaining Warrior squad drops the Dreadnought with their Blaster.

Grey Knight Turn 6

The remaining Dreadnoughts move around for a bead on the Venom ontop the ruins whilst the Purifiers move up to combat the thing if necessary. The Razorback on the Dark Eldar objective tank shocks through the Warriors successfully and parks onto top of the objective whilst the fleeing Acolyte head shots both of the Warriors from the blaster squad, removing all chance the Warriors have of killing the Razorback.

The Dreadnoughts combined fire drops the Venom and the game ends there 1-0.


The game was a classic example of what Dark Eldar aren't good at (sorry Andrew ^^) but also a classic example of how a mech parking lot can screw itself over with poor movement and what happens when you don't stick to your battleplan or what your army is designed to do!

The Dark Eldar army played right into the hands of the Grey Knight list by pushing many of their units up early and then having half their army pull back and the other half refuse flank. Being aggressive early had its advantages (penning the opposing army into their half of the board) compared to playing defensively and using Night Shields + range + mobility advantages over a short-ranged army but it was also fraught with more risk (getting shot down ASAP). This didn't happen in the first couple of turns and the Dark Eldar could have seized board control and forced the Grey Knight army to basically defend their objective the whole game unless they managed to wipe most of the Dark Eldar out (which happened but because the GK weren't penned in, they were able to make a move for the DE objective). If the Dark Eldar had played a more defensive game, they would have been able to have at least two turns, if not more, of shooting at the Grey Knights with only the Psyfledreads + Chimeras to reply. Throw a few delaying units (i.e. Blasterborn) to stop the whole GK army from getting to to midfield and a similar result could be achieved as discussed above but the Dark Eldar army is far more likely to be intact and capable of action later in the game (i.e. blocking pathways to their objective, putting multiple units onto GK objective).

Now... Grey Knight movement. It was poor because I wasn't thinking straight. Whilst I had an opportunity to do some serious damage Turn 1 due to the over extension of the Dark Eldar army, none of the Passbacks were going to be shooting so should have all moved 12" and even if they could have gotten a few shots off, moving 12" was the correct move as it gave me more late game options. The same was quite often true during later turns - I wasn't thinking long game and in the end, only just got onto the Dark Eldar objective because of this. A single dice roll here or there would have changed that (i.e. that Razorback getting shot up). The Dark Eldar army played into the hands of my army but I gave it every opportunity to pull back and dominate the board. Luckily for me it didn't and I was able to eek out a win due to AV11 > AV10 open-topped. Because of the nature of the army as well and lack of dozer blades, I couldn't go through terrain (we saw what happened with that one Chimera) in the early turns and this created bottlenecks. I'll look at this more in-depth in a later post but, and it's been on the cards for a while, mass Dozerblades are likely going to hit a store near you!

Overall, I hope this battle report was a good example of what NOT to do as Dark Eldar against such a Grey Knight army or any other army which can dominate in midfield. Even just an extra turn of shooting can mean all the difference to such a fragile army. I also hope it's a good example of how sticking to your pre-determined battle plan is a good idea - it stops you from making basic mistakes. My battleplan was simple - get to midfield and control the board from there. I never really got there because I kept trying to poke my opponent whilst if I had simply moved 12" Turn 1 and a following 6" Turn 2, I'd have been right where I wanted to be Turn 3 onwards and the game wouldn't have ended as a nail-bitter (assuming the DE player played the same).

Lessons for all :) and a good game to Andrew!

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