Last week's Deadlock battle vs Eldar xenos was quite the slug-fest. I had just finished painting the reinforcements for my AirCav, and eager to see how the updated list would work. Of course, we had to pick Deadlock! Which on hindsight is probably not what the AirCav is best suited for. O well, I'm sure Straken didn't worry about it.
Deadlock is a really interesting mission as the number of tactical objectives reduces with each turn played. So the best chances to score VPs is as early in the game as possible. Of course, when I deployed Major Winters' 2iC squad and the 3 ground support/pathfinder squads, and waiting for the Air Cavalry to arrive, it did seem slightly daunting.
Things started to improve when the gunships arrived, streaking in guns blazing and actually giving me first blood by tearing up a Wraithlord. The Eldar's lack of dedicated anti-aircraft gave me a good advantage, though they were still far ahead in terms of VPs.
Things got desperate, and as my final reinforcements finally arrive, the Valkyries hovered in, directly disembarking 2 veteran demolitions squads into the thick of the action. One of the squads unleashed heavy flamer and melta fire, and by the time the dust from the demo charge settled, there weren't any targets left for the squad's lasguns. An entire squad of 6 Wraithguard and their Wave Serpent were blown to bits. The other assault squad didn't do so well. Point-blank range melta and heavy flamer fire into the rear of the xenos leader's Wave Serpent did nothing (both meltas missed), and taking a huge risk (both Valkyries were nearby), the demo charge dude hurled his explosives at the xenos skimmer, knocking out another hullpoint. Straken's command squad also disembarked, plasma guns making short work of the nearest Wraithlord.
The xenos reaction was quite dramatic. Apparently to avenge his fallen undead kin, the gigantic Wraithnight stomped over and charged Straken's squad. Two of Straken's plasma gunners fell, but the combination of Counter-charge, Zealot, Battle Hymns, Smash and Monster Hunter saw a drawn combat. The nearest AirCav assault squad later lent a hand and charged into the melee, and shortly after, the monstrous Wraithknight was felled.
The Eldar Guardians had disembarked and shot the other assault squad to ribbons. It was down to the last couple of turns, and I figured the only way I could catch up on VPs and steal a win is to kill the Eldar Spiritseer Warlord, embedded deep in the Guardian squad. Mustering what was left of my army, the AirCav managed to wipe out the Guardian bodyguards. The Spiritseer Warlord was down to his last wound. And he survived the battle!
It was truly epic, right down to the last die roll of 7 turns. Losses were heavy on both sides. The Eldar had only 4 survivors, losing 3 out of 4 Wave Serpents, both Wraithlords, the Wraithknight, 10 Guardians and 14 of 16 Wraithguard. The AirCav lost both Valkyrie, a Vendetta, and 47 troopers (out of 61 men). Bloody.
My MVPs were most definitely the Colonel himself for taking on the Wraithknight in close combat and winning the fight, Major Winters for his spirited leadership of the forward squads on the ground and for killing a Wraithguard in close combat and most definitely the sole surviving trooper of 4th Squad who kept up a steady lasgun fire from the battlements of an objective even as his squad was gunned down mercilessly by the xenos.
But of course, MVP of the match had to go to xenos Warlord who just wouldn't die!
Some lessons: I kept forgetting to use my Master of Ordnance, so maybe I don't really need him. Also, my forward ground squads (I call them Pathfinders) could do with a little more punch. Juggling some points and using available models, the squads starting on the ground now get 2 additional plasma guns and a meltagun, and all 3 sergeants get meltabombs. Major Winters is truly inspiring, and his leadership and orders role is spot on. I'm just now split between giving his 2iC squad a meltagun and a flamer, or keeping the standard bearer there. I might just go with the standard. We'll see.
Keep them dice rolling.