Aus Masters 2016 – a guest review by Matt ‘Belly’ Bell
Having just returned from Australian Masters, I volunteered to do a quick event wrap up and commentary on the event. This year’s Aus Masters was held in Melbourne, at a fantastic venue called House of War. The sort of gaming store/venue, that we can only dream of in Perth. On both days, there were tournaments for other systems being held, and still space for casual pick-up games all around. The format for the event was a 1,850 point limit, with eight community comp credits. Missions were combination ETC style, with 4 Primary objectives worth 3 each at the end of the game. Maelstrom, where you drew to 3 cards and could claim two per turn, and kill points. There were also some small bonus points available in each game (such as holding the most table quarters or having your warlord alive at the end of the game).
“Only 8 comp?!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, only 8 comp. Having had a chat with Josh Diffey, one of the creators of Community Comp (CC), he mentioned that the system is intended to be used at lower levels. Having now played this event – I definitely agree with him. The CC system is by no means perfect. It’s chief drawbacks are that it’s run by guys doing it for free, working from their own opinions and biases, and the ridiculous amount of content that we’re getting from GW these days. But it does lead to better games, a distinct lack of stress (I don’t get worried about facing 3 Knights!), and a feeling that games are more tactical. But I digress, on to the event!
My list was a hybrid of the sort of armies I have played throughout the year. I’ve tried to build lists that compete in all 4 phases of the game (movement, psychic, shooting and assault). I find this approach to be fun, rewarding and highly interactive for my opponent.
Craftworld Eldar CAD
Autarch – Shard, Wings, Fusion Pistol, Banshee Mask
2×6 Jetbikes w/ 2 Scatter Lasers each
2×6 Swooping Hawks w/ Exarch & Sunrifle
7 Warp Spiders w/ Exarch
5 Wraithguard w/ Wraithcannons
3 War Walkers w/ 6 Scatter Lasers
3 Vaul’s Wrath Support Weapons w/ Shadow Weavers
Dark Eldar Allied Detachment
Archon w/ Shadowfield & WWP
2×5 Warriors w/ Venom Dedicated Transports
9 Reaver Jetbikes w/ 3 Cluster Caltrops & 3 Heat lances
It’s a little bit of everything really. Very fast, very shooty, with some light psychic and assault elements. I wanted to make sure I was the fastest army around, with enough shooting to compete with Tau, a solution to Knights, and something to counter-charge with.
Round 1 –Slaanesh Daemonic Incursion
I’d not actually faced a Daemonic Incursion list before. This list had me quite worried. Mainly because it was so many models, and he actually had the speed to catch me. From memory, his army was 2 Daemon Princes, Keeper of Secrets, Herald w/ big unit of Seekers, 2×3 Fiends, 80+ daemonettes, and a unit of furies. Yes, furies. My opponent rolled up fantastic rewards on one prince, making him nigh un-killable (except for the D).
Deployment was vanguard, and he had first turn. I deployed along the front of my deployment zone, figuring I could fall backwards as required throughout the game. My opponents turn 1 was large uneventful, just moving & running everything straight at me. My general gameplan was…shoot whatever is closest and run away. It worked! In my turn one, my reavers assaulted the big unit of seekers and wiped them out. My shooty elements removed the fiends and some daemonettes. I kept a careful distance between my army and his larger daemons.
Tristan responded by charging my reavers with 3 units of daemonettes. I lost them all, save one & my autarch on one wound. This proved to be clutch, as it allowed them to hit & run away, saving me 2 kill points and allowing me to shoot those three units. My wraithguard D’d out the unkillable prince, and my whole army shifted left, as I started to clear my left flank of daemonettes. Tristan landed his second prince to take care of the Wraithguard. The prince whiffed his psychic powers and was stranded inches away from my Wraithguard in my turn…it…didn’t go well for the prince.
The game was all but wrapped up at this point for me. I had the distance, speed and firepower to keep the rest of his army at bay, and my warp spiders had deep struck behind his lines to start ‘cleansing’ objectives.
The game finished on turn 4 due to time constraints, with an 18-2 win to me. A solid start! I held 3 of 4 objectives, my opponent had a single one. I think we tied on Maelstrom, and I was many points up in Kill points. MVP for this game were my Wraithguard. Nuking two princes, not much more needs to be said.
Round 2 – Cohort Cybernetica and Friends
3x Vanguard with Haywire, 3 Dunecrawlers, 2 Striders & a unit of Infiltrators. Along with a big unit of battle-bots and their keepers.
Oh dear. I was not liking the look of this one. I’d contemplated building a Cohort myself, having heard how tough they can be. I had not actually played a game against it before. Deployment was Dawn of War, which definitely favoured Tristan. First turn went to me.
I spread out along my lines and deployed everything, save the Wraithguard. I knew I’d need all my firepower, and I just hoped that Tristan didn’t seize….thankfully, he didn’t!
I knew that shooting the Cohort would simply be a waste of my first turn, so I directed all my firepower at the vanguard. I was able to wipe one unit, and halve the number of models in the other two. One strategy I used, was to repeatedly cause blind checks on the Cohort with my Hawks. In theory, this was a great idea. In practise, my opponent did not fail a single one of SIX initiative checks over the course of the game – at initiative 3. My War Walkers destroyed the Infiltrators. In my opponents turn, he advanced and destroyed both venoms.
Turn 2. I all but completely wiped out the vanguard, and commenced trying to cause wounds to the Cohort. At this point, I realised what I was truly dealing with. Incredible dice rolling by my opponent. It was completely futile. I think I cause but a single wound with my entire army, to which he bounced a shot back and exploded a War Walker. A wasted turn, I was actually in better shape at the start of my turn! I could have directed firepower at the Dunecrawlers or Striders, but chose not too. My opponent destroys another war walker, some jetbikes, and some hawks in his turn. He advances.
Turn 3. Feeling like I needed to take action, as I was losing the war of attrition…I decided to pounce. My shooting was again directed at the Cohort, and I lined up an assault with the reavers. Both units of Hawks charged the striders, causing a single HP (along with one in the shooting phase). My reavers were promptly swatted out of the air by some nonchalant battle-bots. Lesson learnt. I think I cause a couple of wounds here? In my opponents turn, one unit of hawks flee, his Cohort advances, and I lose my remaining war walker. At this point, I realise the game is all but gone for me.
Damage mitigation. I decide that the best result for me now, is to take as many points as I can. Ensure I don’t get tabled, and conserve kill points. The game finishes on turn 5, with a 16-4 to Tristan. I held one to his two objectives. We tied on Maelstrom, but he had many more kill-points than me. He rolled pretty hot this game, and I did make a couple of mistakes. Lesson learnt! A lesson that will serve me well in game 5….
Round 3 – Eldar Mirror Match
Suncannon Wraithknight, D-scythe guard in a serpent, Wraithlord, 6 jetbikes, rangers, an autarch & spiritseer, archon & blasterborn in a raider, Splinter raider w/ 10 warriors, some scourges, and a Razorwing.
Mark was one of the other WA players, and I’ve played many games with Mark over the few years. Deployment was Hammer & Anvil, and I knew things were going to get pretty cagey with this Eldar v Eldar reserve shenanigan game. I did say to Mark before the game “This is going to be a very rough game for one of us”. Thankfully, it wasn’t me…but we’ll get to that. For my warlord trait, I rolled the +1 to seize, re-roll reserves one. This proved to be key.
I had first turn, so Mark castled up in a corner. His goal, was to block my attempts to D-out his knight. I shuffled forward a little in my turn, I think only a single Shadow-weaver was in range. It did nothing. Mark’s turn, was equally uneventful. He…passed.
Using my warlord trait and my Autarch, I was able to keep my Wraithguard off the table. They were not needed quite yet. My hawks did come on. I set them the sole job of killing his Autarch (who was hiding in a forest with the rangers). I managed to also keep my spiders off the table. With some good rolling for the Hawks, they were able to remove the rangers & autarch with a combination of their grenades and lasblasters. I turbo-boosted my reaver unit forward, to hopefully get an assault next turn. Everything else moved forward, and took some uneventful pot shots. I think I killed the Wraithlord at this point, with splinter shots from my venoms.
Here’s where I won the game. Mark’s reserves (splinter raider, razorwing, scourges) didn’t show up. Leaving me with board control and the numbers to dictate the game. To take care of my reavers, he moved his trueborn raider forward & then shot them off the table with his Wraithknight chipping in (except for one, and my autarch, saving me another 2 killpoints!). In my turn, I now had enough room to bring my wraithguard down to hit the knight. Mark had left just enough room to squeeze them in when he moved his raider forward. My war walkers also came on, outflanking and destroying the raider. My two hawk units charged his jetbikes and won the combat, cutting the unit down.
Mark again failed two reserve rolls, with only the scourges coming onto the table. It was starting to look quite dire for him. When his Wraithguard failed to kill mine, things went from bad to worse. Finally, his reserves showed up. The Raider deep striking into my backfield, and the Flier coming on. Neither contributed much, and I was able to use the Hawks haywire ability on the flier, and get my Autarch & new Skyrunner retinue into combat with his warriors.
I think we finished on turn 6, with a 20-0 win for me. Mark didn’t have much left, and although I had taken casualties, I still had units of 2-3 models left, who were all holding objectives. My MVP’s were the Hawks. They took out his Autarch, charged and killed his jetbikes, put haywire on his flier, and dominated the midfield (while being mobile and small enough to not bother shooting).
That concludes day 1….to the pub!