Saturday, 6 August 2016

Exeter Summer Challenge 2016 AAR

Last weekend I attended the Summer Challenge in Exeter which had a rather unusual format.

It was a three round campaign tournament with 12 starting XP, perma-death and panoplies which you could loot for weapons/equipment that would persist between games. It had all the potential for making really ridiculous combinations of skills or equipment and it didn't disappoint!

I was incredibly unprepared for the event and, if I'm honest, I almost flaked out at the last minute as I was feeling pretty rough that morning. I hadn't even decided on what faction to take until I was already on the train to the venue! Despite the potential flexibility of vanilla Aleph, in the end I settled on using my ever-reliable Steel Phalanx given the rather bloodthirsty mission selection.

Fortunately for me, it all worked out better than I had expected.

My lists were pretty similar throughout all three of the games with the core staying in place and just the 'spare points' being shuffled around. The list centred on a Machaon/Phoenix/CoC Officer/Chain Rifle fireteam, a Thorakitai fireteam to house the Chandra and an Agema Sniper who was an absolute beast. Everything else was shuffled around as needed for the mission.

Be aware that this is a rather rough write-up as it is done almost entirely from memory. Hopefully I've got most of the facts right!

Round 1 - Yu Jing commanded by Dan M in Annihilation 

Spec Ops: 12XP - MULTI Sniper Rifle, Mimetism and a Hacking Device.
Open army list with Army 6.

Dan won the dice roll and elected to go first. I deployed defensively with the two Snipers and the Thorakitai on the right flank with long lanes of fire mostly through woodland, and the Myrmidon team in mostly full cover on the left. The REMs, Acmon and Warcor held the centre.

The table was super dense in the centre with no lines of fire through the green buildings at all.

Table 1 - My deployment zone is on the near side.

Dan moved up some of his forces to attack my lines but lost his Marksmanship L2 Rui shi to sniper fire and couldn't get close enough to engage the rest of my forces. His Guija couldn't ause any casualties and so went into suppressive fire on the left flank to try and pin down the Myrmidons. The first order from my turn saw Phoenix getting insta-gibbed by a crit from the Guija which rather complicated matters, but my snipers managed to clear up the TAG after a few orders. I also managed to pick off a couple of infantry including some over-exposed Kuang Shi.

Table 1 - Showing the right flank with the woodland.

Dan tried to go back on the attack, but this was swiftly put down when his Zuyong Invincible on the rooftop fell to my accurate sniper fire. His Guiland emerged from the group of buildings int he centre and put a wound on Machaon who fell back into total cover. He then put the Guilang in suppressive fire and moved up a Pangguling to keep the Myrmidons in check. On my turn the Thorakitai link moved the whole way along the walkway, picking off a couple of cheerleaders as they went, and eventually gunned down the Guilang. At 4-2 MOV this took almost my entire turn but I took the chance to heal up Machaon with my LT order!

With nothing much left of his army, Dan tried a hail-mary with his Spec Ops to kill some Thorakitai but didn't count on Burst 2 Nanopulsers ruining his day and I passed my armour saves. Lastly I spent my turn mopping up some survivors and stealing loot from the nearby panoply.

Thorakitai storm the walkway.

Results: 3 Tournament Points, 10 Objective Points and 251 Victory Points.

  • Agema Sniper found a HMG.
  • Myrmidon Chain Rifle found a HMG.
  • Myrmidon Officer found a Motorbike.
  • Machaon found +3 ARM.
These rolls were swiftly followed by a bout of maniacal laughter.

Round 2 - Ariadna commanded by James in Frontline

Spec Ops: 22XP - MULTI Sniper Rifle, Mimetism, Hacking Device, V:NWI and Doctor.
Open army list with Army 6.

I decided not to change my list much between rounds as I had lots of cool gear to use. I dropped Acmon (who failed two WIP rolls to search the panoplies anyway) from the list and replaced him with a second Daleth and a basic Myrmidon, freeing up the Officer to rambo around on her new-found bike!

Table 2 - My deployment zone is on the near side.

This time I won initiative and chose the better deployment zone, not being too fussed about turn order. I really wanted to make use of the dispersed cover to keep my Fireteams spread out in case of template weapons. James opted to take the second turn in order to better grab table areas, meaning he was deploying first and moving last!

My Myrmidons, Probot and Agema deployed on the left to dispose of what I presumed was a Spetsnaz (two Camo markers near each other in a DZ is pretty suspicious!), the Thorakitai were in the middle and the Officer was on her lonesome on the right. The Daleths up near the edge of my DZ ready to do some Sensor-ing.

On my first turn I wasted a LOT of orders on failed Discover rolls, but eventually managed to pick off a Spetsnaz Sniper, a Foxtrot Sniper and my opponent's Spec Ops. My Officer failed miserably to get any kills with her shotgun and ended up taking a wound from a Grunt with a rifle before retreating. James used a Foxtrot to drop mines around the corner from my Myrmidons, took some ineffective potshots at Phoenix using a Grey with HMG and traded his Marauder for my Officer. His K-9 team runs at the Myrmidons but the Antipode eats a rocket as they leaped over the building they were hiding behind.

Table 2 - Showing the left flank.

The Agema dealt with one of the mines using his MSV2 HMG and a Myrmidon 'dealt' with the second by running into it and double-templating the Foxtrot before dying. His noble sacrifice will be remembered. The remainder of the Fireteam reformed and ran down the now-clear left flank murdering everything they came across - including several Infantry, the Grey and the Devil Dog. Fortunately for me one of their victims was James's Lieutenant and so his next turn was largely ineffective. James spend most of his turn re-positioning troops and trying to deal some damage on the right flank, but nothing notable happened.

On my final turn the Myrmidon link ran clear across the edge of his DZ and wreaked more carnage. Unfortunately I couldn't clear the table completely as his Ohio refused to fail an ARM roll and I didn't want to move into flamethrower range. In the end I moved my reamining forces into position to claim table areas but lost Thrasymedes in the process to an (un)lucky shot. James's last turn saw the death of my Daleth and not much else.

Unfortunately, I didn't recall my opponent stating that he'd be using his classified objective for its INTELCOM value so I missed out on the 9-0 win as he used it to claim the centre zone. I'll remember to clearly ask my opponent about this at the beginning of the game in the future and make a proper note of it so I won't get caught out again,. Lesson learned.

Results: 2 Tournament Points, Objective Points and 222 Victory Points.

No loot this time and the Myrmidon Officer lost her bike when she was re-cloned.

Round 3 - Qapu Khalqi commanded by Liam in Decapitation

Spec Ops: 28XP - MULTI Sniper Rifle, Mimetism, Hacking Device, V:NWI, Doctor, +2BS (14) and an EXP CCW.
Open army list with Army 6.

Once again, not many changed to my list. The Officer was out of action due to a bike-related injury (and because Chain of Command is not helpful in this mission) as was a Daleth. In return I picked up Diomedes to hunt down out-of-the-way troops.

Table 3 - My deployment zone is on the near side.

Liam won Initiative and chose to go first so I took the opportunity to give him by far the worse deployment zone. His side of the table was littered with woodland (saturation and low-vis) and difficult terrain whereas mine had some great buildings for hiding Lieutenants in.

I was expecting him to field a Djanbazan Fireteam so was pleasantly surprised when he deployed a full Odalisque link, a Sekban Haris and a smattering of line infantry. I was constantly expecting his troops to be revealed as Hafza with HRLs, but this threat never materialised.

My Thorakitai link faced off against his Sekban on the left and my Agema and Phoenix paired up on the right facing the Odalisques and Liam's Janissary HMG hold-back with direct line of sight. The Agema and Phoenix were placed almost next to each other - the Agema prone on the corner of the building that Phoenix was peeking around - so that they couldn't individually be picked off or hit by single blast template.

Table 3 - Showing the right flank.

Liam's first turn was disastrous for him, losing two Sekban to sniper fire from my Spec Ops and the Janissary, two Odalisques and a Yuan Yuan to the Agema and Phoenix. Putting Fireteams in the open opposite rocket/missile launchers is a bad idea.

The only casualty I took was a Netrod when a Yuan Yuan dropped down onto the landing pad next to it (and even that took him two orders!), whereas Liam had lost all his long ranged firepower. In my turn the Thorakitai moved up the table, killed the last Sekban then Data Scanned and Coup-de-Graced one that was still only unconscious. They might have knocked off another cheerleader as well.

Liam tried to recover, managing to heal up a wounded Odalisque and moving everyone out of LoF from Phoenix and the Agema. He wasn't really in a position to mount an attack however and his Yuan Yuan was stuck on top of a massive building. My Thorakitai went Lieutenant hunting, killing off the remaining cheerleaders deep within Liam's deployment zone and then consolidating into cover.

The Thorakitai lurk in the wooded hills with Liam's deployment zone.

In the final turn Liam still couldn't do any damage and so the game was over with me dropping Diomedes in just so I could count him for Victory Points.. This was a rather one-sided battle and the first where I actually managed to get a Thorakitai link into my opponent's DZ - an impressive feat for a unit with 4-2 MOV. Curiously the Myrmidon link didn't move so much as an inch all game.

After the game Liam told me that he hadn't much changed his list from the previous round due to the limited amount of time available. As such I think this game came down a fair bit to list design issues rather than tactics. QK have all the tools needed to fight Steel Phalanx successfully, but his list was bereft of most of them. I'm sure we'll have a great rematch another time though as he seems a solid player!

Results: 3 Tournament Points, 10 Objective Points and 296 Victory Points.


It was a strange tournament with extremely polarising games throughout. There was stiff competition evidenced by the fact that after a great win in Round 1 I found myself in 3rd place as Ian Wood and Dan Barber came out of it even better than I did! After another win in Round 2 I'd actually slipped down to 4th!

Fortunately the last round propelled me to the top of the standings and meant that I could claim the winner's pack and take home a Krakot Renegade. Pretty lucky as I'm unlikely to get another chance this season.

The format itself was really fun, but probably over-rewarded wiping out the opponent as you could then spend many orders gaining free loot! As such it would seem possible to snowball through the tournament with some lucky rolls. I'd have been curious to see what the armies would have looked like after a couple more rounds!

I'm very happy with the way the lists I used performed and the Spec Ops earned her keep many times over. The army was very aggressive throughout and the strategy of punching a hole in my opponent's forces and then sweeping through the gap in the battlefield proved very effective. Hopefully I'll be able to carry this through to the Interplanetary at the end of the month!

Lastly I just want to say a big thank you to Domo and REND for organising the event and my three opponents for some memorable games. :)


  1. Wow. The mere view of the tables left me shocked. Looks like tons of fun!

    1. Cheers, all the tables I played on looked great and it was a decent mix of densities too. Having woodland to fight through was a nice touch as well.

  2. Great Report, as always! I have to be as descriptive, precise and concise as you. Mines are much longer and in no way so clear.

    Finally, are you taking the Phallanx or Usariadna to Interplanetary?
    Good luck!!!

    1. Cheers, I'm never sure if I'm striking the right balance or not so it's good to get feedback. :)

      I settled on Phalanx for the Interplanetary as they are 'ready to go' and the deadline for list submission was looming. There will be a post up about the army lists soon(ish).

      USAriadna are being painted up at quite a pace now though and will, hopefully, be making their tournament debut at the Exeter team tournament towards the end of the year - unless I can get to an event sooner! I've got some work-in-progress posts to go up in the next couple of weeks.