Eldar vs. Death Guard

I resisted the siren song of movement tricks and dice manipulation for the first nearly two years of playing this game, and after their recent balance update I decided it was time to jump into the knife ears like I’ve been kind of wanting to since I found out about them back in early ninth edition.

For those of you wondering when 10th edition Chaos Knight content will be coming, expect that in November or December, after I’ve finished my degree and worlds is over and I have a little more time to experiment.

For this game, we rolled up the Ritual on Sweeping Engagement, which would prove to be an interesting match here.

Here were the lists for the game:

Eldar List

Autarch Wayleaper (Warlord)
– Fate’s Messenger (auto six a hit, wound, or save once per round)

The Avatar of Khaine

Farseer Skyrunner
– The Phoenix Gem (Stand back up on a 2+ once per game)

The Yncarne

Hornet w/ double Brightlance x3


Shadow Specter x3

War Walker x2


Death Guard List

Mortarion (Warlord)

Lord of Virulence (bigger aura enhancement)

Daemon Prince w/ wings (strength and attacks enhancement)

Typhus (for the Deathshrouds)

Deathshroud Terminators (six models)

Helbrute w/ Lascannon

Plagueburst Crawler x3

Blight Hauler x2

Bloat Drone


We played player placed terrain as we are prepping for an RT in a couple weeks that runs with that. Normally we play with the GW open layouts, so those will be more heavily featured in future reports.

I ended up defending and placed the first piece of terrain, and the first deployed model. I put the Shadow Specters (proxied by Tau Fire Warriors, my Specters were drying from a prime right before this game) in deep strike, and Chris opted to place his Terminators with Typhus, his Lord of Virulence, and his Daemon Prince out of my clutches.

My first fate dice roll was six fours, a five, a three, and the rest ones. I rerolled into a single six, two fours, and the rest below four. My third re-roll was similar, and finally on my fourth re-roll I ended up with a pair of sixes and kept it. Chris chose the -1 WS/BS contagion for this game.

I won the roll off, Scout Moved my War Walkers closer, and we were off to the races.

Eldar Turn 1

I got two CPs and Chris got one. I drew A Tempting Target and Secure No Man’s Land for my secondaries. With only one objective in No Man’s Land, Chris had to choose the central one for my tempting target and I was going to score both with a single War Walker and whatever was on the objective I created.

Side note: the timing on this is a little weird, but my read is that you finish the action to create an objective at the end of the turn, and you score your secondaries at the end of the turn, and as the core rules state active player chooses resolution timing on same timing triggers I believe you can finish making your objective and then score Secure No Man’s Land off it.

After moving around, the Autarch ended up in the left building doing the action to create an objective, and most of my army had just sort of shuffled up a bit.

I decided to pump Mortarion full of Bright Lance shots. I was going to get ten shots at him, plus the Nightspinner if I wanted to. Apparently the math says I do 10 damage here without fate dace, and I did slightly worse, doing 6 instead.

I could have instead gone after the two exposed Plagueburst Crawlers, and I think if I had done this I would have been much better served. Three Bright Lance models (Hornets and War Walkers) is slightly better than a coinflip to kill one without an auto six damage roll from Fate Dice, and much more likely than 50% to kill with that factored in. If I had shot the central one to death, I could have had the Yncarne teleport to it and charge the Helbrute standing next to it, almost certainly killing it as well.

This would have pinned Chris into his deployment zone a bit, especially if I had killed or bracketed the far right Plagueburst Crawler, and he would have had to have a super anemic shooting phase in order to not let the Yncarne just run away.

In any case, despite killing zero things, I scored 10 on secondaries, finished making the objective with the Autarch, and called it a turn.

Death Guard Turn 1

Chris also drew A Tempting Target and Area Denial, meaning that he needed the central War Walker to die. I chose the objective that my Autarch and Nightspinner were on as the target, making it effectively unscoreable.

Most of his army moved up reasonably aggressively, and the Cultists made an objective behind the big wall on his side.

The two Blight Haulers, the Helbrute, and the back Plagueburst Crawler all put every shot they could into the little War Walker. I burned through a Fate Die and a re-roll to keep him alive. The middle Plagueburst Crawler shot and nearly killed the backline Hornet, and the other one killed my Vyper.

His Bloat Drone and the Plagueburst Crawler in the center both charged the War Walker, but it lived thanks to a combination of the Lightning Fast Reflexes stratagem for -1 to hit and burning another Fate Dice to keep it alive.

Chris scored 3 on Area Denial since my Walker wasn’t within 3 of the center, and passed it back to me.

Eldar Turn 2

I passed the Battle Shock test on my two delapidated vehicles and scored 5 on Primary. I drew Bring it Down and Engage on All Fronts.

I moved my left Hornets up so they could get lines on most things, scootched my Nightspinner back so that it would be out of contagion range of the Plagueburst Crawler, and moved the Avatar up aggressively as well.

My engaged War Walker fell back and I used the stratagem to let him shoot and charge.

I deep struck my Specters to score Engage on all Fronts and also screen out his imminent rapid ingress. My Farseer backed up and made another objective appear.

The Deathshroud Terminators and Typhus popped down in the center of board.

My first Hornet shot at Mortarion, hit and wounded both, and then Mortarion failed both his saves. I chose to turn one into a six, and between that and the second hornet the big guy was on 1 wound.

My shooting took out both the Plague Drone and the Plagueburst Crawler in the center, with the Yncarne teleporting up to there.

The Avatar failed his five inch charge into the Helbrute which was on a single wound, and I used a Fate Dice to guarantee that the Yncarne made her charge into Mortarion, who died in short order.

I scored 8 points on Bring it Down and a further five on Engage on All Fronts.

Death Guard Turn 2

Chris drew Investigate Signals and Overwhelming Force.

We spent a lot of time figuring out the optimal set of moves for him here. Ultimately, we decided that his Daemon Prince should deep strike bottom left, his Lord of Virulance should go top left, and his Plagueburst Crawler top right as it could only really shoot at a unit of Shadow Specters and that felt worse than getting free points. All three of those units Investigated.

His Helbrute moved into the center, and the Avatar popped a six from the Farseer to hit 3 times on overwatch (thanks sustained d3!) and blow it up. Instead, the Blight Hauler moved in and tied the Yncarne on OC.

His Deathshroud Terminators moved four inches towards the Nightspinner because if it survived and was able to make them MOV 2 for the rest of the game, they might as well not exist.

In the shooting phase, the Deathshrouds popped the left unit of Specters that I had forgotten to take a 6″ move on in the last turn, and his Blight Haulers and Plagueburst Crawler on the top left shot at various things to little effect.

Chris rolled a four into a rerolled three for the Deathshroud charge, and if this was a tournament he would have called the game there as the Nightspinner would have moved away from them and made them MOV 2 for the rest of the game, most of his army would have died the next turn, and his scoring potential would have been basically nothing.

Instead, as this is a practice game, we counted him as rolling the first successful charge he rolled (an 8) and the Terminators made quick work of the Nightspinner.

This let him score six on Investigate Signals and three on Overwhelming Force.

Eldar Turn 3

I made my battleshock tests as needed, and scored only five on Primary again. I drew Investigate Signals and Defend Stronghold. Problem being, I didn’t want to be on my home objective anymore, so I pitched this one for a CP and drew Storm Hostile Objective instead.

The Farseer made another tactical retreat and made another objective for me to hang out on. The Avatar moved up onto Chris’ back zone in to score Storm Hostile Objective (it was still under his control due to the Death Guard sticky objectives rule), and the Yncarne scootched up to say hello to some Cultists. This was actually a gigantic mistake, as I thought I was going to be scoring Storm Hostile Objective with her, forgetting about the Avatar doing his thing, and instead I should have moved her backwards to start dealing with Terminators.

I Investigated signals with the top left Hornet and both remaining Specter units.

The shooting phase saw the Avatar kill the Plagueburst on the top right with my last auto six fate dice for sustained hits. The Yncarne killed one Blight Hauler and the War Walker killed the second.

Two Hornets bounced off his Daemon Prince in the bottom left.

The Yncarne killed six Cultists in combat and that was my turn, scoring 5 on Storm Hostile and six on Investigate Signals.

Death Guard Turn 3:

With only a few models left, Chris drew Bring it Down and Storm Hostile Objective. Being that he could not get to any objectives I controlled, he opted to pitch that one and drew Capture Enemy Outpost!! He also scored 15 on Primary due to how the Death Guard sticky objectives work.

His turn was pretty short. Typhus used his shooting phase spell ability to kill off the 1 wound hornet in the center, and his unit took my objective.

The Daemon Prince bounced off its Hornet and the Lord of Virulence did as well.

Chris scored 3 for killing my first Hornet and 9 on Capture Enemy Outpost and shipped it back to me.

Eldar Turn 4

This turn, I scored 15 on Primary and drew Area Denial and Cleanse. I killed everything but his Daemon Prince and Terminators, cleansed 2 objectives, and stuck my War Walker on the center objective to score Area Denial.

Death Guard Turn 4

Chris scored 5 on primary, and drew Teleport Homer and Secure No Man’s Land.

His Daemon Prince moved over slightly and made an objective in No Man’s Land, and. his Terminators made a Teleport Homer.

Eldar Turn 5:

I scored 15 on Primary and drew Overwhelming Force and No Prisoners.

The army rolled pretty badly and Chris rolled decent 4+ invulns, so I didn’t kill a single unit. This didn’t end up mattering ultimately because I couldn’t score anymore secondaries, but if I had managed to kill the Daemon Prince, it would have denied 5 primary points at the end of Chris’ turn.

Death Guard Turn 5

We iterated through a few ideas here. Chris drew Extend Battle Lines and Defend Stronghold, neither of which were remotely possible.

Ultimately, we decided to fall back with the Daemon Prince as he would still count as controlling the objective he and the Yncarne were fighting over regardless of what happened (tied OC and the Death Guard sticky objectives is a gnarly interaction).

His Terminators moved closer to the center, and charged and killed the War Walker, meaning that at the end of his turn Chris was controlling three objectives for 15 primary points.

At the end of the day, the dust settled on a 90 to 83 victory for Eldar – a narrow margin! The combination of sticky objective timing being so strong and really excellent mid game secondaries kept Chris right in it.

We figured that if he had failed that charge on the Nightspinner, the Terminators would not have been able to make it to my backfield objective for Capture Enemy Outpost, nor would they have been fast enough to get to the middle of the board OR kill my Hornet which scored him 3 points on Bring It Down, making that game more like a 25 point game.

Post-Game Thoughts

I’m really enjoying this Eldar list, although I’m starting to flirt with the idea of a big unit of Rangers and Illic. I also can’t wait to try out some Ynnari action when my Drukhari models get here.

Death Guard is, I think, a slept on faction right now. -1 to WS/BS against an army of 2+ saves and invulns is brutal, and their speed is largely made up for by playing fast vehicles and rapid ingressing terminators.

All in all, I’m having a blast with the knife ears and I’m looking forward to more games soon!

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