I took the new codex out for a spin last night against an old friend who was trying out the new Nid codex for the first time. I played an Alaitoc list with a mix of my favourite units to see how it fared under the new Codex
My opponent was running a Nidzilla list full of Big Bugs based on 2 Speahead detachments. From memory, his list was something like this.
The mission was Retrieval (4 objectives worth 3 points each) using the "Seach and Destroy" deployment map. I won the roll off and chose this one as it allowed me to put a little extra distance between my forces and the Nids. I based my deployment around some ruins on my right flank containing one of the objectives. My reapers took the upper floor for field of fire while the Avengers on foot held the ground floor. The Fire Prisms were on either side of the ruins which gave them both good fields of fire over slightly different parts of the battle field. My plan was to use the linked fire stratagem generously as it looked good on paper. The Wave Serpents were deployed in front of the ruins in a skirmish screen. Their job was to protect the infantry in the ruins from any bugs deploying from reserves and to bear the brunt of the inevitable assault. The Farseer and Autarch deployed in the ruins with my infantry where their abilities could benefit the largest numbers of units. The Spiritseer went in the Wave Serpent with the Wraithguard with Cannons. The Farseer took Doom and Guide while the Spiritseer took Protect/Jinx and the Hemlock took drain.
My opponent deployed his Nids as far forward as possible, eschewing cover in order to get stuck in faster. He chose the Behemoth hive fleet trait to allow him to reroll charges. His Swarmlord to took Onslaught and Catalyst. The Mawloc, Trygon and Termagants deployed in reserve, waiting to tunnel out into the open. Because the Carnifexes were organised into just 2 broods, he finished his deployment first and got the first turn, I failed to seize so battle commenced.
My rangers deployed in some ruins near the centre of the board to take a second objective. They stayed on the upper floor where they would hopefully be safe from charging monsters since the Nids had no flyers and only 1 unit of infantry.
The Nids advanced quickly. The Mawloc burst out next to the ruins in a small gap I had left between my infantry and tanks dealing several Mortal wounds to the tightly packed units. The Trygon emerged on my right flank with the Termagants in close for support. In the Psychic phase, he cast Onslaught on the Toxicrene which had advanced giving him a good chance to threaten my lines. Despite only having a few shooty units, he managed to roll well damaging one of my Wave Serpents with the Exocrene and killing a Ranger with a Biovore. In the assault phase, the Toxicrene pulled off a lucky charge against a Wave Serpent with the Wraithguard and heavily damaged it.
In my turn, my infantry in the Serpents disembarked before the Wave Serpent in combat with Toxicrene withdrew. My Wraithguard with D-cannons and the Spiritseer advanced to tackle the Trygon, the unit with D-scythes headed towards the advancing Carnifexes. The Hemlock headed out to the left flank while the rest of my infantry formed a firing squad for the Mawloc in their midst. The Farseer managed to Doom the Mawloc and the Spiritseer Protected the Wraithguard to give them a 2+ save but suffered a Perils of the Warp and lost 2 wounds (I was glad I took a Spiritseer instead if a Warlock as a Warlock would have died to that result). The Hemlock peeled a few wounds off the Toxicrene with Smite. The shooting phase was impressive, the Dire Avengers and Wave Serpents stripped most of the wounds off the Mawloc thanks to Doom. The Wraithguard killed the Trygon with the Wraithcannons and the Dark Reapers killed one of the advancing Carnixes. The Hemlock continued to attack the Toxicrene. Not everything went my way though as the Wraithguard with D-scythes whiffed their wound rolls and failed to kill the Carnifex they were taregtting despite a respectable 10 hits. Lastly I linked the Fire Prisms and vapourised the Toxicrene. In the assault phase, my Autarch charged the Mawloc and slew it with his Laser Lance before it could strike back. The Wraithguard with cannons assaulted the termagants to stop them bogging down the rest of my lines and slew 3. I had survived the first wave but now the heavy-hitting Carnifexes were getting close to my lines and next turn would be crucial.
The Nids lumbered forwards once more with one Carnifex advancing quickly towards the Wraithguard in combat with the termagants while the Swarmlord moved up to menace the squad with D-scythes. The rest of the carnifexes advanced towards my firebase and slightly battered screen of Wave Serpents. The Swarmlord cast Catalyst on itself and Onslaught on the the Fex that had advanced. The nid shooting claimed another Ranger and a reaper with the Biovores while the Exocrene stripped some more wounds off the Wave Serpent on my right flank leaving it teetering on 1 wound. The Nids charged and managed to pull off every charge they declared. Fex with Onslaught charged into the Wraithguard squad fighting the termagants, another hit the damaged Wave Serpent and another hit the Wave Serpent screening the Dark Reapers. Worst for me, the Swarmlord charged the Wraithguard with D-scythes but managed to do so from outside 8" range meaning they could not hurt him with their fearsome overwatch and he promptly cut down 4 of them. The other squad of Wraithguard fared better, I played the "Lightning-fast reactions" stratagem on them which resulted in only 1 getting killed by the Carnifex. The biggest shock was the Carnifex that attacked the damaged Wave Serpent who killed it and caused it to explode. The resulting detonation damaged the Swarmlord, both Carnifexes, both Wraithguard squads, the Termagants and the Spiritseer (who was now barely alive on just one wound).
My Turn 2 started with my withdrawing my remaining forces from melee. Fortunately both the Wave Serpent and Wraithguard could continue to fire thanks to their "Fly" and "Implacable Advance" rules. The Hemlock flew towards the Swarmlord while my Avengers and remaining Wave Serpents jockeyed for position to target the nearest Fex. My Farseer managed to Doom the Carnifex in front of the Dark Reapers but the Shadow in the Warp prevented me from casting any more psychic powers. The Hemlock fired at the Swarmlord but between Catalyst and his 4++ invulnerable save, I only caused 3 wounds. The Wraithguard fired at the Fex who had attacked them and killed it which the one surviving Wraithguard with D-scythe managed to put a single wound on the Swarmlord in revenge for his fallen friends. The Reapers and Avengers managed to kill the Carnifex that had got close to the firebase meaning that I had managed to take down half of the Big bugs. The bad news was that the remainder were now all in position to charge my remaining forces.
The Nids surged forwards, looking for a decisive strike. Both sides had taken significant casualties at this point but the battle hung in the balance and it was clear that all would hinge on this turn. The Swarmlord moved towards the Wraithguard with cannons while Old One-eye lumbered up to the survivor of the D-scythe squad. The last 2 Carnifexes moved towards my firebase with the furthest one Advancing in the hope of using Onslaught to pull off a charge. In the psychic phase, the Swarmlord once again cast Catalyst on himself. The Farseer managed to Deny Onslaught though meaning the Carnifex in the centre that had Advanced would not be able to charge this turn. The Swarmlord had moved out of synapse range of his shooty units by this point meaning both reverted to instinctive behaviour and fired at the Rangers, wiping them out. The termagants and Swarmlord charged the Wraithguard with Cannons and the Spiritseer, wiping them out. Old One-eye charged the Wraithguard with D-scythe who managed to put 2 wounds on the mutated Carnifex with overwatch before being crushed. In the centre, the Carnifex that had not advanced charged the Wave Serpent and badly damaged it, leaving it on just 1 wound. Despite losing my Wraithguard, the line had held and I had enough firepower left to hurt the remaining bugs, it would all depend on my shooting.
In my turn, the damaged Wave Serpent withdrew from combat and limped towards an objective marker near the centre of the table that had been largely ignored thus far. My other Wave Serpent zoomed off and Advanced to claim the Objective on my left flank. My Autarch flew out to challenge the Swarmlord while the Farseer shuffled back so as to be out of range of Deny the Witch. The Hemlock flew back towards the centre of the board. In my psychic phase, the Farseer cast Guide on the Dark Reapers and Doom on the closest Carnifex. My firing phase was everything I hoped it would be, the Avengers and Wave Serpents killed the Doomed Carnifex while the Reapers slew the more distant one. The Hemlock fired and took half the wounds off the Exocrene. Lastly the Fire Prisms linked fire one more time and badly wounded the Swarmlord. In a final act of heroism, the Autarch charged the Swarmlord and finished off the massive beast with his laser lance.
We decided to call it an Eldar victory at the end of Turn 3. The Eldar had 3 of the 4 objectives as well as First Blood, Slay the Warlord and Line Breaker. I still had enough units left to fight effectively while the Nids just had 2 biovores, a wounded Exocrene and a handful of Termagants.
That went pretty well, all things considered. When a CC
army like Nids gets the first turn, you know it is going to be an uphill struggle as you have one less turn to soften them up before they reach your lines. Fortunately Eldar combine enough firepower and mobility to get the job done (although there were a few close squeaks). All the elements of the army functioned well so it is hard to learn from mistakes in this instance.
My own mistakes were in forgetting my own rules (always a risk when you take a new codex out for a spin). I forgot that Path of Command let me regenerate spent CPs
on a 6. I forgot that Rangers camelioline cloaks stack with the Alatitoc Trait and I forgot that I could have used the "Forewarned" Stratagem when the Mawloc and Trygon popped up as my Farseer was standing right next to my Dark Reapers.
Speaking of the Alaitoc Trait, it is generally considered to be the best of the Craftworlds but going up against a CC
-orientated army like Nids makes it nearly useless. I would certainly have got more mileage out of Ulthwe's 6+++ in this battle. Food for thought if Nids, Blood Angels and other coming armies succeed in bringing melee back into what is largely a shooty meta.
The Rangers were slightly disappointing as they did not really contribute to the battle and just died when shot at. Still, they were only 72 points and they fulfilled my Troop tax for a Battalion. It is always a struggle between putting them somewhere safe and somewhere useful. If I had put them on my far right flank, they would have been safer from shooting (although more vulnerable to assault). At least where they were, they held an objective for a while.
All my units worked well but MVP is shared between my Farseer, Autarch and Fire Prisms. My dice were a bit cold this game and I needed the rerolls from the Farseer's Doom and Guide simply to get average results in some cases. Doom plus massed shurican fire can make a mess of almost any target at close range. The Autarch's bubble of rerolling 1s to hit was a great advantage when set up with this sort of firebase and he claimed the heads of the Mawloc and Swarmlord (once they had been suitably softened up). I think the points for a Jetbike and laser lance are well worth it for an Autarch (now that our options are much more limited than they used to be). He has the mobility to support whichever units need his help and he can quickly redeploy to charge an exposed unit if needed.
The Fire Prisms were truly awesome. Between Pulsed Laser Fire and Linked Fire, their shooting is phenomenal. They simply delete whatever you point them at. Some games may have an issue in finding large enough targets for them but that was certainly not a problem against Nids. The only thing that survived a full blast was a Swarmlord but he was protected by a 4++ invulnerable save a 5+++ FNP
from Catalyst. Without an invulnerable save, anything smaller than a Land Raider is likely to be left as a smoking wreck. Always run these boys in pairs. The Focussed mode is definitely superior to the lance mode as the greater number of shots means you will cause more damage on average against most targets. Lance is only superior against T9 targets and we haven't seen any of those yet.