Thursday, February 18, 2010

Field Testing

Using the power of THE INTERNET, I've managed to get in a couple of nearly-real games in with my Eldar.


That's right, actual play experience. Laubersheimer Industries has moved on from strictly painting and other such 'soft score' stuff to actual gaming. High fives for everyone who's last name is Laubersheimer!

The VASSAL Engine
My buddy, Colin, and I took our first steps into the seedy underworld that is Vassal 40k last week. Overall, a pretty good experience. Certainly not as good as an actual face-to-face game, but a good substitute when large distances of travel and incomplete models are involved.

Certainly a different game than real 5th edition 40k.

For those of you who don't know, Vassal 40k was a module for the VASSAL Engine that allowed you to play 40k over THE INTERNET using a very basic, sprite based interface. All of the dice interactions where also built into the program. All in all, a pretty neat little piece of tech.

Notice how I used the word 'was' up there? Vassal 40k got shut down some time ago by GW. Something about the module allowing you to play 40k while bypassing a crucial part of GW's business plan. You know, the part where you spend $400 dollars on the models required to play? The most recent version of the module is still at large on THE INTERNET - hidden in torrents and direct download sites by people who don't take cease and desist orders seriously. There was even an update for the new Tyranids created after the shutdown.

No, I'm not going to link you to any of this. But I will point out that I own every model I used in VASSAL.

As far as the actual game experience goes, its good, but not great. The interface itself is actually the main barrier for Play. This is mostly because all of the natural model movement and dice rolling you take for granted has to be done through VASSAL's GUI. There's a definite learning curve as you get used to all the quirks of 'simply' moving a squad of guys.

As far as the rules go, the only real issue is the complete inability to use the 5th edition true LOS rules. The map is a 2D top down kind of thing, so no "model's eye view". In my experience, there's a hefty amount of guesstimation and abstraction that needs to be done in order to determine LOS. Defining terrain takes on a higher level of importance as a result. In practice, 5th edition 40k plays more like 4th edition in this way. So, its really like four and a halfth edition.

I'd also strongly recommend some kind of VOIP program as well. Imagine playing a regular game of 40k with nothing but text messages. Sound fun? Of course not.

All in all, still a pretty solid experience. Not exactly a real game of 5th edition, but fun and educational anyways.

The Eldar Experience So Far
I've played two games using the list I've posted previously (in total or in part). One at 2000 points and one at 1750. The results have been pretty encouraging. Especially since I'm still, basically, a noob - seeing as how these were my first and 2nd fifth edition games that weren't ALSO Apocalypse games.

Both games were against Colin - one vs. his Chimera spam Guard (2k) and another vs. his MC deep striking Nids list (1750). It's very clear that there's still a lot for me to learn. As much as I've pored over the rules, implementing them is another matter. I missed a few rules ove the course of the two games - nothing game breaking, but important stuff to be aware of. The same is true with an army list - I can build lists all I want and read tactics on THE INTERNET til my eyes bleed, but making things happen in an actual game is a bit more involved. Someone who was real good at words wrote an article about this kinda thing. So there's a definite sensation of 'effort shock', I'm just not totally blindsided by it.

Game 1 vs. Imperial Guard
First off - I lost. Pretty badly actually - 4-0 on objectives.
Actually it was a forfeit at 5 am after I was left with one unit of troops who needed to claim 3 objectives simultaneously to win the game. However, the game was still a very positive experience. While I got shut out on objectives, I didn't get whomped and playing a game with a total of 25 vehicles on the board was pretty great.

My main problem was lack of experience.
I'd played Eldar exactly 0.12 times before this game and I was going up against my buddies go-to army for dropping off special deliveries of pain. Despite these harsh realities and some noob mistakes, I managed to still have half an army left. Mostly tanks. On the plus side, I did pull of a nearly textbook refused flank... and then promptly failed to capitalize on it.

My other mistakes were not being aggressive enough with my fire dragons, not concentrating fire enough and throwing away my precious Vypers on useless move blocking maneuvers. there was also a healthy dose of not staying in the damn transport (I got greedy) and bad target priority.

Also, I learned some important lessons on the limits of my armies speed and durability. Namely, the Wave Serpent gives me both of these things in spades, but they are not unstoppable killing machines.
The AV10 ass needs to be covered and even if I moved flat out, a guard army can almost always throw enough firepower at something to ignore the 4+ (which is fucking crazy, by the way). Though being able to ignore terrain while moving and clearing the board in a turn is pretty freaking sweet.

Game 2 vs. Tyranids
I won! barely. This was really a close fought game for me and a pretty hefty part of the win was some good luck. The game ended at the first opportunity (turn 5?) with me holding the only objective. This was a bit better of a match up for me as Colin is still pretty new to his list and Tyranids in general. Plus, my army was kind of the nightmare match for him - faster and able to ignore much of his shooting. The deployment shenanigans I can pull thanks to the Autarch were a big help as well. Colin ended up dropping two mawlocks and a spore full of zoanthropes on an empty deployment zone.

The major thing I walked away from this game with was a healthy respect for close combat attacks against vehicles. Especially MC attacks. Yikes!
Tyranid beasties being extremely hard to kill is a close second. In this game, it was nice to be on the other side of someone being greedy and it costing them - it would have been a draw except for the tervigon on Colin's objective leaving it to chase a Wave Serpent. I think if the game had gone on longer, it would have eventually shifted in the favor of the bugs. Tervigons with FNP up are super hard to kill and there was still the matter of an unhurt mawlock running around.

Early Conclusions
Two games in and I'm really diggin' the Eldar. Colin says the army is very frustrating to play against - its fast, it fucks with high power shooting and I can screw over deepstrike strategies. All good things for my play style. Not to give people the impression that I'm an asshole or anything, but any army that's full of dick moves and fucks with people's heads is my kind of army.

The list itself seems pretty solid to, so a big thanks to Stelek for coming up with this gem. 40k is much more fun to learn for me when I don't have to worry about how shitty an army I have. Which is something that killed my interest in 4ok temporarily back in 4th edition. I had this super shit battleforce army that was making things harder for me than they needed to be while learning a new game system. It also didn't help that it was a Dark Angels army. Just an overall awful experience.

At this point, I need two things: more practice and to be finished painting everything. Both are things that will come with time as long as I stick with it. Not to bad an outlook really.

As I play more games I'll post more thoughts. Maybe even some battle reports. Woah!


  1. Good to hear the eldar are working out for you. They're not a BAD army; they just need an update and are not that felxible in terms of builds.

    There's nothing quite like telling someone just what all the Wave Serpent ignores in terms of firepower. "Oh, you're melta/ordnance? That's nice. Really. I'm happy for you. BUT IT DOES NOT WORK ON ME!'

    Sadly, most of your infantry does tend to disappear when it gets out of a transport.

  2. Don't worry John, I always figured you for a dick. That's why you've been linked from my blog for so long. lol