Bully Bully Bully!

(Before we begin, my first article on Bell of Lost Souls is up!  Check it out!)  So, here we are in Game 4 and I'm back on the proper side of the room, where I'll stay for the rest of the event.  And I get to play Bully Mike!  I didn't show it, but I was actually pretty excited; this is one of those dudes who simply doesn't blog enough, but I've been over his material a number of times.

CliffNotes: Daemons vs Eldar in Round 4 of WarGames Con.

Before we'd begin, I'd like to point out the obvious (I'm good at that).  This is a beautiful army.  As an Eldar player myself, I appreciated the design, and Mike's reds made me realize I needed to put away that color.  As in, forever!

Real quick, isn't it funny how we as painters can paint some colors effortlessly but struggle with others?  Red has always been my weakest color, and it's one of the reasons I'm redoing my Eldar.  My Altansar crimson is sort of blotchy.  The Master Manipulator (every store needs one) does the best red I've ever seen in person; maybe we can convince him to do an article.

Here's Mike's army.  This is what I'd call a balanced approach, but it looks to me as if the army is built to win more often with Fritz-like bursts of speed in Round 6 than in street-sweeping the enemy off the board.

Frankly, this was the best match-up I'd have all weekend... meaning it was a big mismatch in my favor.  I knew the army was incapable of beating mine in a straight fight, so I'd just have to play my game and everything should work out fine.  I also had the added advantage of having played Eldar; my tournament army prior to Daemons was a Hybrid Altansar list.  I knew exactly where to hit him.

Mike full-reserved his army... and it was at that point I realized he'd never played a Daemons list like mine before.  This is a subtle thing - really it is - and I'm not trying to criticize my opponent.  I knew Mike was a great player going into this game but if you don't have experience playing against something then you don't have experience playing against something!  It's simple, really!  Really?

The point is a full-reserve is a tried and true Eldar tactic, and it's also a great one against Daemons - as Kenny pointed out in Game 1 - but it is exactly the wrong move for an Eldar player against a Daemons player, as you're going to see.  Why?  Lots of reasons, but it's mostly to do with the way the armies play.  Again, I only knew this because I consider myself an Eldar player first and foremost.  We'll go through the game then discuss it more.

Mmm... as I sit here, I can't remember who went first, but it doesn't matter.  On Turn 1 I drop in with my anti-reserves strategy, in this case Daemon Princes up front, Heralds behind, and Fiends in the backfield, spread out across the board.  My troops were ignoring the battle; their job was to grab terrain features, not battle the enemy.

An interesting point here concerns the DP's and Heralds... in most cases, against most armies, I'd have switched their positions.  I almost always lead with Heralds closest to the enemy board edge.  Care to guess as to why?

In Round 2 Mike brought on two Fire Prisms and two Guardian Jetbike units.  I blasted the Jetbikes with Bolt and Gaze from the Princes and Heralds.

I guess I went first, because here you see the top of Turn 3.  I drop my other toys, still spreading out, and take some shots against the Prisms.  Naturally they're pretty durable, but I don't dare over-commit and attempt a charge.  Mike is going to have to huge one board edge or another coming in and I needed to string the net to catch him.

Here's a picture of the top half of the room and that's Bully Mike in blue.  It's hard to see but he's bringing his units in on my right flank.  As I recall, he lead with a Guardian Jetbikes squad, followed by the Autarch with the Farseer and Council.  He had Vypers and a Wave Serpent with Fire Dragons bringing up the rear.

This is actually the last picture because the game ended not soon after.  I saw a chance to strike a deathblow and I took it. 

I've said it before; one of the reasons I retired my Eldar was the prevalence of psychic defense.  Basically, a Council falls apart quickly if Fortune isn't up.  The one, major problem with the full reserve tactic is you have to suffer a turn where your Farseer can't cast his major defensive powers.  This was one such turn; I just needed to get there.

I dropped a Horrors unit dangerously close to Mike's army and the board edge, but I needed a clear shot.  I almost misshaped by flying off  the board, but the Horrors stuck the landing then shot up Mike screening Jetbikes.  My Fiends rolled a reasonable run move and made a difficult terrain test...

...and I assaulted Autarch and Farseer-lead Council with a full unit of Fiends while they were still vulnerable.  Little chunks of Eldar went flying out of the forest: it was glorious!  That little tactic took a bit of luck to pull off but it was there and I went for it, making it a really sweet moment.

The game went downhill rapidly after that and ultimately Mike called the game.  "Look," he said, "all I can do now is try to deny you points.  Maybe.  I'd rather get an early start getting cleaned up at this point."  I agreed, we shook hands, and I finally had my Massacre.

The problem with any one-sided game is someone is left feeling beat up.  I've struggled writing this, because I truly liked this game from a strategy sense but I didn't want to diminish my opponent by seeming to enjoy it too much.  It's a fine line.

I'll just say this:  Bully Mike was a perfect Game 4, not only because of the mismatch in my favor but because it was truly nice to play a decent, laid back dude after a long day.  Ultimately I felt I could write this report the way I did because I see him as a true competitive spirit.  I don't think he'll mind my pointing out why I saw as the errors in his play because it's impossible to develop nuanced strategy without having seen something before. 

Mike had never played Fiends.  Knowing how far they can move is different from seeing it.

As a last word, I gathered from his friends that Mike enjoys playing his Eldar at big events but it's widely considered his hobby army.  That makes a ton of sense, because the army is amazing, an obvious labor of love.

Take care - Brent


Magilla Gurilla said...

I completely agree. You do not realize how fast Beasts/Cavalry are until you actually seem them in action. On paper it seems far:

12 Inch Move
d6 Fleet
6" Charge

But until you actually see a 19 to 24 inch Cavalry Charge you really don't know what to expect.

Herr Fernseher said...

Your opponent gambled and lost. Even before people were running so much psychic defense I never ran a seer council because I didn't like having so many points so dependant on a psychic power. (And yes, it was a problem that I frequently would forget to use psychic powers.)

Steven Morrow said...

heralds are bait.

bullymike said...

Heeey I was looking forward to reading this. All true! You had a great demon army variant that I hadn't played against before, and I didn't have all that much experience playing with the Saim Hann before the tournament anyway. You played like a champ, very nice to meet you, hopefully we'll run into each other again. Now I just have to log on and trash you on MY blog (stupid half-dead blog).

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