Playing another 2k list I had some ideas about what I wanted to try out. First up were the Vypers in a formation of 3. In the past I thought they were an underrated unit and really like the idea that 3 of them gets them an extra bit of speed. I also had a plan for my psykers. Giving the Spiritseer Quicken and the Warlock Enhance I was hoping to get the Scorpions in combat turn 1 in range of Karandras, play Supreme Disdain, and generate 2 extra attacks on a 5+, or 4+ if in cover (three for the Exarch).
This list used more units appearing as reserves than any prior list I've used. With Karandras, Scorpions, Rangers, Guardians, and Swooping Hawks all appearing after set up. The Hawks were a last moment decision during list building because I was out of HQ slots and had just over 60 pts to spend. The psykers were all embarked with the 9 Dire Avengers in the Wave Serpent.
My opponent forgot his Maelstrom cards so we opted to set up the game using the Open War deck. We pulled up the Double or Nothing Twist and got 0 Twists. The biggest shock to me was that my opponent's 2K list was only 66 Power, compared to mine which was 106. I think it's the first time I've played a game with a greater power discrepancy than 10 pts. I feel like his list would absolutely wallop other 66 Power lists, but it meant he definitely got the Ruse. After drawing the objective card we set up our four objectives before drawing deployment.
I got to choose the deployment zones, but with fewer units and the +1 to go first the Black Templar had the first turn and Ulthwe braced for the worst.
I chose to set my rangers up and two of my three Ranger units to draw fire. My hope was that he would spend most of his opening firepower on those units and I'd still have two of my D-cannons left standing while he disembarked his infantry to stymie my forces. Instead he kept almost all of his units embarked. But he did take the bait with shooting, managing to kill both visible D-cannons and the Rangers. He made a mental error and forgot to move his dreadnought because it was so far away from his other units. this meant at the end of his turn he had only had one Victory Point.
For my Turn I brought all of my reserves on as my forces set up a blockade of infantry. The Hawks caused two Mortal Wounds to the Land Raider. I had high hopes to pull off a devastating first turn. I played the Seer Council stratagem to get the warlock and Eldrad a +1 to cast. They managed to cast Enhance on the Scorpions and Doom on the land Raider. Things were all going to plan, but the Spiritseer failed to cast Quicken, leaving my Scorpions in a bit of a lurch. I either had to hope the Land Raider survived and my scorpions rolled well, or my opponent got aggressive and deployed forward if I blew it up. My opening salvo was two wounds from the D-cannons on the Land Raider. I was excited at the opportunity to do some real damage to it right up front... but my opponent rolled two 6's to nullify the shooting. I used the Linked Fire from the Prisms to do much of the damage to the Raider, in large part thanks to Doom. The big surprise was the Vypers putting 5 wounds on it! It then took nearly my entire army shooting to actually kill the thing, but I did finally chew through it (though I popped it before the initial Prism got to fire). With the survivors deployed behind the vehicle the Scorpions had no chance to get into combat. But I did get two Victory Points.
At this point I changed my plan for the scorpions. I wanted them to hang back with Karandras to be a secondary capture unit for the VP near them. The salvo of psychic shenanigans knocked the terminators down to just a single model. Eldrad got off Doom and Smite, but failed Executioner at the start of the turn. The Vypers and Guardians laid a heavy toll on the Templar. The Vindicator was finally destroyed leaving the objective open, and my Wave Serpent, despite half its hit points being lost was next to the marine character that gifts rerolling failed wounds and fired off its shield with its 3 shuriken cannons to kill him without assistance. my rearguard Prism moved from its hiding spot and did some damage to the Dreadnought that was holding an objective knocking it down to 2 HP. Because of the time we upped our play speed a little bit from here on out. I was now up to 4 VP.
The Black Templar were reeling, but not done. They destroyed another Vyper and brought the last one to 1 wound. With horrible damage rolls they managed to take a total of 3 wounds off one of the Prisms. They also got their Champion in to combat, killing the Warlock. With other desperation charges being used to kill the Wave Serpent it moved the Black Templar out of position on one of the objectives and meant my opponent was at 4 VP.
This was the turn I wanted to go for the kill. I killed the Champion and Terminator with Psychic powers as the Dire Avenger Exarch moved up to claim an Objective from the Black Templar. The Predator shrugged off the D-cannon fire with a 6 to save (it was in cover), once again robbing me of that damage. The Vyper scooted over to the objective the Dreadnought was holding and it combined with the Fire Prism to take off the last few wounds. The Dread didn't explode, instead just falling dormant, and that means it didn't kill my Vyper, so I took the point as my Scorpions moved back to hold the Objective the Vyper previously had. The Guardians started to punish the tanks nearby, but didn't kill either. The Avenger Exarch looked to shoot the last tactical marine in front of him, but managed to miss with all four shots in a shameful display. But I was in command of the table at this point and went up to 8 VP.
The Black Templar had suffered and were fighting back out of rage more than strategy, their hatred overwhelming their logic. In the shooting phase they managed to kill two more Swooping hawks, and destroy one of the Guardian weapon platforms, and then, their greatest success, was when they destroyed one of the Fire Prisms. The lone tactical marine who was valiantly facing an Exarch fired, but missed in his haste.
He was then killed by Overwatch fire. A Marshall attempted to make a charge at 5" into the guardians, but even with a reroll he failed (rolling a 3 both times). A Razorback did make it in to combat with the guardians at least draining them of firepower for the next turn. The Templar were held tight at 4 VP.
In the following turn the Guardians backed away from the Razorback, as the Prism destroyed it. The Exarch killed his foe to take the objective and with the combination of psychic might and the D-cannon the Predator was torn asunder. The Eldar held uncontested control of the field as the remaining Black Templar forces retreated in haste. Ulthwe had 12 VP at this point.
I was unable to test the Scorpions as I had planned, but I learned that Vypers are a fair more resilient than I anticipated and I look forward to using them again. Also, the Swooping Hawks performed better for me than they had in the index version. I quite liked them, even against a foe that I needed to roll a 5+ to wound. They were a thorn in the side of the marines and well worth the small investment of points. The D-cannons were somewhat diminished by the lucky rolls of my opponent, on saves, but I'm keen to use them again.
This was a refreshing game in that the outcome wasn't determined mostly by who went first. In fact, if my opponent hadn't rolled so many 1's during one of the Fight phases it likely would have been a different outcome overall. This army was flexible, and Ulthwe continues to be resilient, frustrating opponents when I roll 6's. I haven't decided 100% yet, but I may retry this same list again to see if I can pull off that layered trick with the Striking Scorpions.