We had two games today to learn the rules, and weren't really playing the campaign game just yet.
I brought along my Imperial Guard infantry and built a kill team, Byteknight's Bastards..
I named my guys after troopers in one of my favourite war movies.. Can anyone guess which movie these names come from?
I was facing Jeff's Eldar kill team. The Eldar, in case you're not familiar with the 40K universe, are derived from fantasy Elves. Just think of them as Space Elves... (yeah, yeah, I know. :-))
In the campaign game, your kill team fights skirmish battles until they win a fight, or rout. Either way, after the battle, each team gets some currency, but more importantly get "Prometheum caches" which enable your kill team to level up over time. This is similar to other miniature skirmish games that have campaigns. Your surviving guys get better and stronger over time.
We were just trying out some fights to learn the pros and cons of the game. Shadow War is based off Games Workshop's Necromunda, which alongside their Mordheim game, is a beloved skirmish based game. In the old Necromunda, it was human gangs that fought in the campaign.. Now, it's basically any race in the 40K universe. I was thus facing off today against the Eldar.
I equipped my guys with camo gear, clip harnesses, laser rifles ("Las Guns"), grenades, pistols, knives and for the leader, a chainsword and a Bolt Gun, which is more powerful than a Las Gun.
Jeff outfitted his guys with this machine gun- like weapon called the Shuriken Catapult, while I basically had single shot rifles. This proved to be decisive in the two battles.
Interestingly, he was also equipped with this grav machine that allowed him to fire at four feet away, which also vexxed me in both battles..
In the first fight, we had some 2 story buildings in the centre of the battlefield..
I started off making a dash to the building to ambush Jeff as he was going to come up around both ends of the centre building..
but his weapons platform pounded me from a long distance, raining explosives on me.. Missing on turn 1 but then knocking down one of my guys early on, on my left flank..
While on my right flank, I was gearing up to ambush his troops coming around the building..
However, Jeff used a game rule to effect that stated that a trooper who is on overwatch (waiting to shoot a trooper on their movement who comes into visual range) must make an Inititiave roll to see if they can spot enemies who start outside the Overwatcher's LOS and finishes outside the Overwatcher's LOS.
Thus, even if you're lying in wait for someone, if they dash briefly in your vision and then disappear, there is a chance you might not get a reaction shot off in time. All Jeff had to do was start behind a wall and then end his movement in "hiding" mode, which would thus qualify for me to make an initiative roll before even shooting.
He thus climbed his guys behind the wall (where there was a ladder) over to the roof and then ended his move hidden.
I disappointingly either did not get a shot off in time, or I missed the two guys on the roof.
Jeff then proceeded to cut me down with his Shuriken Catapult scatter shot while I was basically firing at him in the equivalent of a bolt action rifle.
One of my guys got hit and went down, and the guy beside him broke. When an ally falls within 2 inches of another ally, all such allies have to take a moral test... Well, one guy went down and the other pissed his pants on my right flank.
The rules require you to take a bottle test when 25% of your guys are down... Well, I now had 2 guys down, one on my left and one on my right, with another guy crying for Mommy.. 2 out of 6 guys is 33%, so I had to take the test..
Well, guess what, I failed my bottle test and my kill team instantly routed, losing game 1.
Needless to say, I was not happy losing so quickly without so much as scratching that pretty yellow paint of at least one Eldar...
On game two, we made the terrain more industrial, laying down pipes in the centre..
I proceeded more cautiously, and hid behind walls and pipes, enabling "hiding" and "overwatch" a lot more.
Jeff was doing the same thing, hiding behind pipes on my left flank, and the blue generator on my right flank..
However, he *still* managed to shoot down one of my guys on my left flank from a far distance, while I couldn't hit the side of a barn..
I make a mad dash to sic my flame thrower on him after he exposes himself...
and I knocked him down, but it turned out to be only a flesh wound for him and he got up the next round, while my guy was killed when I tried to roll on his recovery..
Meanwhile, on my right flank, he drops another one of my guys from a long distance.. Though the guy on my right flank recovered and got up on the next round, I still had 2 guys down and had to make a bottle test, which I barely passed.
So, I barely scratch him with a damn flamethrower at close range, but he drops 2 of my guys at a distance..
Now, I am getting annoyed.
To add insult to injury, in the centre, I had 3 guys waiting to ambush anybody who made a dash behind the blue generator.. One Eldar did, but all 3 of my guys miss..
I then throw a hand grenade, and finally dropped one Eldar..
Then my flame throwing guy goes down like a ton of bricks on my left
and my Vet Sgt gets shot down on my right, while another guy engaged in hand-to-hand in the centre gets skewered..
That was the game.. I lost again..
I seemed to be badly out-classed by the Eldar..
Some takeways we learned about Shadow War in no particular order:
- It's stupid there are no climbing rules and that ladders are considered open ground. We think this has something to do with GW wanting you to buy their new terrain, which are fitted out with ladders, rather than using what you already have.
- I had too few guys.. Six men is not enough, as it only takes 2 guys to activate the 25% bottle test. It's better to have 10 guys, 3 or 4 of them cheap cannon fodder. I made the mistake of equiping my guys with camo gear, clip harneses, pistols, etc, when it would have been better to get guys running around with just blades and going in front of your good troops. The rules state that you must shoot at enemy troops closer to you, so if you put a disposable guy in front, you leave your better trained and equipped guys safe and allows them to shoot without getting a scratch.
- The outside LOS to outside LOS dash when the enemy is in overwatch is the best ploy. Ending your move in hiding seems to qualify as being outside your LOS and it can be abused as you basically limit how much you can get shot at. Indeed, hiding as much as possible seems to be the heart of the game.
- There is little benefit to shooting an enemy who is already down as he has to roll to get up as long as he is down anyway. Better to attack a standing enemy to increase the chance of inflicting a bottle test on the enemy so he can rout and instantly lose the game.
- We had too much terrain, which favoured Jeff's Eldar, as it allowed him to hide and sneak up on me and basically negating the 24 inch reach of my rifles. If too much terrain in a scenario, it favours the HTH/Melee types and if less terrain, it favours ranged weapon figures.
- I brought the wrong equipment. I should have had a sniper armed with toxic bullets (which only my faction can have), This way, I can automatically wound someone if hit. Instead, I had single shot rifles that gave me a 50% to hit (on a 4, 5 or 6), and then another 50% chance to wound. Jeff's Eldar on the other hand, could hit me on a 3, 4, 5, 6 but was allowed to roll a D3 for the number of rounds extra he can try and hit me with ever time. I never had that.
- I had too much equipment on each guy. My Vet Sgt was kitted out in 265 points of goods, when all he needed was his chainsword and bolt rifle. No use for the pistol. Those points could have been better spent. Indeed, my Imperial Guard flak armour overall was useless against the Eldar weapons. It seems to be good only for small weapons like pistols. I also bought a clip harness for each guy, which is good to prevent nasty falls from heights. However, you have to waste a movement to do so, and it's better to move to a better location than stand there wasting time with clip harnesses in case you might fall.
- Like all skirmish games, eventually someone has to take a chance and charge/go out into the open.
Jeff wants to play again as he likes the 40K universe much more than me. I was very frustrated playing this, but will give it a try, but maybe paint up Dark Eldar or Chaos Cultists next time. We'll see..