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Magnetic Lootas May 21, 2012

Posted by Tim in War Games.

Writeup: Warhammer 40,000, 750 points, Dark Eldar vs Orks

No-one now living remembers the original Movogrovostaktelgrad; it’s streets, it’s lanes, its artists quarter and its curious cottage industry in bespoke luxury cupcake design and manufacture. One might find mention buried deep in the relevant Imperial ledgers and censuses, but the abuses of a century of repeated warfare have left little actual remnants. A few shattered buildings clustered around what was once a town square; themselves Imperial fortifications built upon the rubble of an earlier, more tranquil age. Civilisation has come to Movogrovostaktelgrad dozens of times; Imperium, Eldar, Chaos, and more, each time leaving a new kind of mark and a new legacy of blood upon the ancient stones. Civilisation is about to come to the shattered ruins once more, but whether the town will become a part of an Orkish dominion or a Dark Eldar playground, will be decided over the next few hours…

If my Warboss were a suspicious sort, he might be starting to wonder why everywhere he goes, the same pair of Dark Eldar sail-barges are waiting to attack him, but I suspect Orks don’t really think like that. Apparently, they love war, loud noises, red things and sandwiches, and don’t worry themselves about Machinations or Paranoia. We’re operating a kind of ‘winner stays on’ gentlemen’s agreement, where by whoever wins a battle keeps their army list the same, and it’s up to the loser to tweak and adjust and try to solve the previous week’s problem.

With this in mind, my army remained unchanged: 1x Warboss, 4x Nobz, 10x Lootas, 20x Boyz (Shootas) and 20x Boyz (Choppas + Battlewagon). It’s a force with a bit of flexibility, but still essentially an Ork zerg horde, based on just applying a lot of bodies to get things done.

The Nemesis went for a bit of rework this week. 10x Wytches (Homunculi + Raider), 10x Wytches (Homunculi + Raider), 10x Kabalite Warriors. Thin on models, but with a large amount of gimmickey extras; equipment options, exotic weapons and pimped sailbarges. The main tweak that I noticed was replacing a squad of riflemen with a close combat squad instead, and dropping one sailbarge and using the points to beef up the other two. He’s clearly adapting to fighting Orks and considerably adjusting his force to become much stronger in close combat, and much more mobile, with dedicated transport for his melee troops. I have a bad feeling about all this…

The setup dice rolls gave us the straight forward deployment along opposing table edges and all troops in at the start. The objective today was to capture objectives. There are five markers on the table and to control one, you need a ‘Troop’ class unit within 3″ of the marker, and no enemy unit also within 3″ of the same marker. Whoever has the most of those when the battle ends, wins. Very ticksey stuff, and I never do well at the objective-type fights; something psychological hampers me, compared to the straight ‘kill ‘em all’ type of fight.

Five objectives means I need to secure three to be sure of a win, so I deployed at the south end of the table, hoping to grab and hold a set of objectives within close proximity to each other and just dig in. The scenery was a bit dense – I went a bit mad with ruined building pieces, which i thought might provide useful cover for shooting. The Dark Eldar all set up mid-table opposite, probably with similar eye for easy waypoint grabs and off we went.

“We’z definitely goin to do some shootin this time, ladz!”

My first turn was spent mostly running Orks at cover and objectives, forgoing shooting for extra movement. This went well enough as far as it went, with my Lootas making it to a useful vantage point, ready to set up firing positions over the main street. Then the Nemesis had his go and immediately rushed a sail-barge of Wytches directly over the ruins, parked it behind the Lootas. The Wytches hopped out and pausing only to flamethrower the Lootas on the way in, assaulted the poor chaps before they could fire a shot. These creepy emo carnies have razorwire swords, poisons, combat drugs and small hands, and pretty much any time anyone rolls a 4+, good things happen to them and bad things happen to me. The ensuing melee went about as well as you’d expect and yet again, my Lootaz were gone by turn two, without firing a single shot. I’m beginning to see a pattern here…

Elsewhere in the town, my Shoota squad had secured one objective, and his Kabalites had secured another. Both ranged squads seemed to have dug in and would take a lot to shift. My Boss squad had found a building of their own to hunker down in, not too far from another objective, with a view to rushing back to secure it later in the match. Unfortunately, this building was quite close to the Kabalite squad and a fair bit of shooting attrition ensued. His other Wytch squad and skimmer were further up the field, claiming a distant objective.

At this stage, objective control seemed to be about 2-2, but very quickly it started to look like objectives would be academic anyway, with both armies really getting stuck in on the killing instead. I piled the Battlewagon and Choppa squad in on the Wytches, but it was too late to do anything but avenge the Lootaz, and even that melee didn’t go great; I eliminated them, but it cost me over half my squad of melee specialists. He managed to blow up my Battlewagon in the fracas, and the explosion took out most of the Boyz.

“Anyone rememberz where wez parked?”

Meanwhile with the Wytches now disembarked, their skimmer headed for my Shoota squad. The skimmer has a big anti-vehicle gun which can pretty much one-hit individual infantry, but worse than that, he’s added big slicey blades to the bottom of them, resulting in a vehicle which can apparently ignore terrain and cover, but can selectively slice up infantry underneath it. I found it all a bit dubious to be honest, but that didn’t stop him spending the rest of the game casually reversing backwards and forwards over my Shoota squad, who in turn were not packing enough firepower to bring the thing down. If only I had, say, a squad of anti-vehicle specialists with highly penetrative and very long ranged guns. Well played, Nemesis, well played…

Having lost one set of Wytches he committed his second skimmer, bringing the other squad into melee with the Boss squad. Again, a brutal and ugly fight and I failed to reinforce them with my remaining Choppa Boyz, as I did last game; instead of sprinting to the resurce, I stopped for an ill-advised shooting phase against the other skimmer, having gained a sense of desparation at his apparently unassailable air-superority. A few turns of rough and tumble later, the Boss and his Nobz went down. The remnants of the Choppa squad, having failed to save the Warboss diverted to the objective instead, making a half-hearted stand, but were run down by the skimmer and charged by the victorious Wytches. They didn’t last long.

This left me with one mostly intact Shoota squad camped on one objective and trying to swat a flying knife-boat with weapons that really aren’t up to the job, and nothing else. They actually got a shot through and blew it up in the end, which was commendable, but too little too late.

Meanwhile he had two mostly intact squads on other objectives, who just had to successfully Not Die for the remainder of the match, and one working skimmer which couldn’t claim objectives itself, but could prevent me from doing so if is near enough. We were at the end of turn five, the last mandatory turn. From here we could dice roll for further turns, potentially stretching the match to eight turns, but to win, I’d have to eliminate two squads of troops and one skimmer; an unlikely prospect. I surrendered at that point and we went down the pub.

Shadow descends on Movogrovostaktelgrad as the broken, leaderless and dispirited Orks flee into the hills. Supremely confident sadists on floating ships of darkness and metal drift serenely up and down the once picturesque main street. Lithe, wicked figures cavort in the ruins, inflicting further agonies on those Orks not fast enough to escape. It would seem that this ancient rural community of craftsmen and artists is about to become a home to artists once more…

Things I Learned:

The Nemesis is absolutely terrified of my Lootas, to the point that he forgets everything else on the table and will always immediately rush them. It’s a sound move, of course, because they about the only thing that can reliably bring down his Raiders – the flying boats. Nevertheless, I’m going to have to do something about it, or face the exact same opening gambit every time I play him.

Option: Don’t bring Lootas at all. For the same points cost as 10x Lootas, I could have 25x Boyz – the normal rank and file, either with the guns or with axes. 25x Boyz would be a damned sight more survivable than the Lootas in the inevitable hand-to-hand assault in turn one/two. That would leave me without AV, but 25x Shoota Boyz get 50 dice with which to try and get lucky and so far, all my barge kills to date have been just this – normal Orks getting lucky hits. If my Lootas are not permitted to get a shot off anyway, why bother bringing them? At present, they’re just feeding the Dark Eldar easy Pain Tokens (Super powers gained per total squad kill). I wonder if Lootas are a more proper choice for a larger battle force – auxiliaries rather than core troops in smaller skirmishes?

Option: Bring more Lootas. Upping the squad size to the maximum permitted 15 might help, but will be 12.5 Boyz I have to take from elsewhere, pointwise, and once the Lootas are engaged in melee, they become useless regardless of how many there are, even if they survive multiple turns of melee, they still can’t shoot down vehicles while this is going on.

Option: Split the Lootas up. The Nemesis proved his sportsmanship by suggesting this; two sets of five Lootas means he has to split his own force to deal with them – likely one sail barge of Wytches for each. This ties up most of his force very early on, leaving my Nobz and both Boyz squad more or less free run of the table. A squad of five Lootas stands as whelk’s chance in a supernova in hand-to-hand vs 9x Wytches and a Homunculi, but since their primary function at the moment, is diversionary, they’ll at least do that better. And who knows, maybe I’ll even get to shoot something with one of them, which will be exciting!

Option: Put the Lootas in a truck. The Nemesis does have several powerful AV guns, but at least the Lootas would get to die in a different and interesting manner! The truck is Open Topped, which would allow them to fire out if the truck goes slow enough, and possibly prevents them being engaged directly in hand to hand? I’ll have to check. Increased mobility will help them get where they need to be more safely too. I think my truck might be tougher than his barges too.

Option: Change nothing and somehow use his predictability. He really has no choice but to attack the Lootas early, or risk them blowing up his transports, and the troops on them. Perhaps I need to accept that this is always going to be the opening move and work with it accordingly – put the Lootas well out of reach, guard them better, use them as an intended distraction, rather than an accidental one.

Other thoughts:

The Boss squad is quite tough, but not numerous, and Orks only get useful things done when there are lots of them. At the same time, one feature of the Dark Eldar race is that they get superpowers when they destroy entire squads; ‘Pain Tokens’. While “Kill the Lootas” is always Step One, his Step Two is usually a concerted assault on the Warboss + Nobz squad. Nemesis likes small squads to munch on, to gain the Pain Tokens and he usually avoids the 20x Boyz squads if he can. Stupid Space-Vampires. I need to either increase the size of the Nobz squad for better resillience, or replace it with standard Boyz to hamper the Pain Token generation. Safety in numbers! It’s a shame, but it increasingly seems to me that it is a mistake to bring any Ork who is different or special, because it means he is more expensive and using up points that could be usefully spent on two or more standard Boyz instead. An ideal Ork force is probably one containing a many models as the points will stretch to. For 750 points, I could have four squads of 30x Boyz and still have 30 points left over for some kind of token figurehead leader type. 121 Orks! There might be specific rules against doing that, but you see the point.

The Raiders are a real problem. Assuming a lack of Lootas, (which one way or another is likely to be the case,) standard gunfire is quite bad at denting them, and the low-hanging anti-ork blades are infuriating. My fallback plan is just a huge round of weak and badly aimed standard gunfire, which does do the job eventually. The main problem with the Radiers though, is that they make it impossible for me to form any kind of ‘front line’. They go where they want, when they want and can always be placed ‘behind’ your weakest units and placements, to disgorge powerful close combat troops directly into the fray. Nemesis’s Dark Eldar force seems to be almost entirely cavalry-based these days and has free run of the table. Form the wagons into a circle? Needs more thought…

I really need not to put a ton of cover on the table if I hope to use guns much. Wide open spaces help my Lootas and Big Shootas. Wide open spaces also help my own trucks and general charging of foot troops. Waaargh, etc!

On balance, I don’t necessarily think the problems were with the troop list, more with an inadequate understanding of positions and capabilities, so I’m not sure I’d do much to change the army, beyond a bit of a rework of transportation arrangements. What I do need to do is change how I use the pieces I do have, with a far greater focus on keeping my Lootas safe; they can shoot 48″, so are probably quite happy on the rear table edge with a bodyguard escort of Nobz, just in case. I suspect that if they are allowed to fire, and can reliably eliminate the enemy Raider sail barges (with or without their passengers), things will go very differently indeed, next time…


1. xbevisx - May 22, 2012

I like the idea of putting the Loota’s in a truck and keeping them mobile, personally. Check to make sure they can still fire while moving, because I can’t remember off the top of my head.

Something that could make a difference depending on if I remember the rules correctly, although you buy a transport with a certain unit, if they aren’t using it at the time, another squad can jump in. That rule tends to change from edition to edition.

Also, do the loota’s generally end up quite isolated?

Tim - May 23, 2012

I tend to move the Lootas to vantage points and not support them much, yes. Having them in a truck seems the plan, and not push them forward so much. Even if he can sail over scenery, if it takes him more than one turn to get at me, I might be in with a chance!

It does all seem a positioning problem rather than anything intrinsically wrong with the Lootas themselves.

2. Dark Eldar vs Orks 750 Points Match 2 « Chimps In Space - May 24, 2012

[...] week, another face off between the Orks and Dark Eldar (write up by my opponent again)  in my state of the art gaming facility1. This time was the 750 point rematch after the Orks gave [...]

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