Tag: Aeldari Eldar

Air Caste in Retreat

Air Caste in Retreat

This is the first game of our “Invasion of Planet No’ohrm Ha’an D” series of battles. The prior fluff is here: https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/01/02/the-invasion-of-planet-noohrm-haan-d/ and the rules for the mission are here: https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/01/11/assault-neo-normandy-missions-1-strategic-air-war/. Next game will be a second Aeronautica Imperialis mission–a bombing run against strategic infrastructure.

Kor’Vre Vior’la Ires had been the Navigator and Weapons Operator on his Tiger Shark AX-1-0 for three years. Seconded by the Air Caste to the No’ohrm Ha’an system for system defense, Ires’ combat wing had been stationed on the fourth planet in the system for quite some time. The system itself had strategic expansion import, and there were a few times that the wing had been deployed in full combat status. Most recently an Ork Rok fortress drifted into the system outskirts, and disgorged that race’s motley forces across the sixth and seventh planets of the system. Ires’ plane had downed three Ork Stompas as they raged across the chemical fields of one of the planets, saving countless T’au lives from their cruel guns. With his pilot Kor’El Diaron dodging the thicket of flak fire they monstrosities kicked out, Ires could focus on using the paired railguns of their plane to demolish the Orks’ heaviest of equipment.

The fourth planet was a good spot for a base, as the planet was itself a delightfully relaxing place. Covered in natural vegetation and the ivory and limestone constructions of some past civilization made it smooth for them to all settle down and into the pace of life there. Even amidst military drill, the atmosphere of calm and comfort filled the planet. Apparently the only predator species on the planet were occasional feral gyrinxes, which made the basic animal life of the place calm. Ires was watching a few birds alight on a tree outside the ivory structure where he had made his home outside the barracks, when the peace was shattered. The warning sirens went off–shrill in the warm air. “Scramble” Ires recognized immediately, and without even grabbing his personal pack he dashed fast as he could across the smooth courtyards and garden terraces to reach the airfield the Earth Caste had carved from the greenery.

As Ires settled into his navigator’s seat in the plane, he was already asking Diaron what she knew of the threat.

“Came out of nowhere. A fleet of Aeldari ships sporting all sorts of make and marking apparently. More than just pirates and raiders tho. This is an invasion force.”

Ires’ computer was spitting out threats, both in the space above the planet and the atmosphere of the planet itself. Seems like the fourth planet was the focus–the board was lit up with enemy fighter craft streaking in formation across the skies. They seemed to be targeting the two main air bases, and already the pair of Gal’leath class Battleships from the Merchant Fleet in high orbit were broadcasting distress calls. Had the capital weapons of the Aeldari stricken their main system ships? How did the Water Caste not warn them of potential attack?

Diaron guided their Tiger Shark into formation with the swarming Barracudas and other Tiger Sharks. If the capital ships were crippled, it was a good thing that they had taken the time to build terrestrial bases for some of the air forces perhaps. Maybe the Water Caste were more prepared than they expected.

Drone-captured video feeds of the enemy attack wing registered on their instruments. “At least three different color schemes amongst the Aeldari planes,” he said to Diaron over the comms. “Three Craftworlds?”

“Perhaps,” she replied. “Or perhaps just raiders? Though this is a big force for raiders.”

Ires had never faced Aeldari in actual combat before, only in computer-run simulations. He was prepared for them to have both perfect formations and then break into individual… flourishes… of pursuit when the battle enemy was reached. He was not ready for how flawless their ability to fly really was in person. Even the computer simulations could not capture the daring-ness of their maneuvers, so perfectly executed. Diaron could fly circles around Ork and Imperial fighters, even in their large Tiger Shark bomber. But she might as well be flying a bulk air tractor compared to the Aeldari’s grace and precision.

At least they had firepower volume, Ires thought. The railguns were actually not so effective against the swarming lighter craft, but Ires’ smaller armaments and turrets started to take their toll in sheer mass of fire. The Aeldari were perfection, but delicate perfection. It was all about closing fields of movement. Ires watched a foe plane snake through six columns of fire from four different T’au vessels. Even the slightest gap in fire would be used by the Aeldari to escape. Ires programmed the targeting solutions to closer bursts–waves of fire that hopefully formed a wall. The few Aeldari planes that had been dropped took only a couple of hits to down at most.

Ires managed to down a Phoenix class bomber (according to the ident computer, that was the designation), and proudly broadcast the basis of his firing solutions to the wing’s gunners at large. However, in that moment he noted just how many planes had been lost. The Aeldari first strike had eliminated too many ships, taking out as many of the Barracuda fighters as they could manage first–then turning on the slower Tiger Sharks. Diaron had already gotten the call, and was snaking their way out of the conflict space. They and a sole Barracuda managed to get free and shake pursuit. While the Aeldari had taken losses, it wasn’t as dramatic as what the T’au wing had suffered.

Diaron guided the Tiger Shark up out of the atmosphere, and toward the fifth and sixth planets in system–engaging the gravitic drive to make further distance from the spot of conflict at rapid pace. There were ample ground assets on the fourth planet, and the dense hedgerows of the the green countryside would make for slow going for a conventional invasion force. The T’au might have time to regroup, and with time could surely outnumber the Aeldari. The question was whether the remnants of their fighter wing, the other fighter wing, and the remaining space fleet could protect the skies or not. In the short term, the Aeldari would have the advantage. The air war had begun to be theirs, and if they would start with strategic air attacks or a full-on assault, only time would tell. Ires found himself thinking about his pack, back on the ancient terrace where he had been bunking. Was the design Aeldari? Or some other lost race? Either way, he had lost friends and his dwellings, at least for the moment with the latter. He began writing up a more nuanced firing solution to share with the wing’s Kor’O when they could reach contact. The Aeldari would go no further if he could prevent it.

Painting Progress

I painted up yet more Aeronautica Imperialis planes for this game. Two more Phoenix bombers joined the ranks, both with Starcannons to serve as close firing attack craft.

For longer range, I built and painted a delightful Forgeworld model: the Vampire Hunter. It’s a great looking plane, and I love the look of it (please Forgeworld… re-release this one in 40k scale for us). It’s rules in the game are underwhelming. Sort of a long-range heavy damage plane. Not awful, but my Phoenixes and Nightwings did way more work during the battle than the Vampire.

Finally, I’ve also been working on my 40k Drukhari forces. Added another 5 Wracks to my completed pile, which was fun. I’ve got more of these on the docket as well, as I want to flesh out some big squads of bodies for the invasion scenarios. Needs to be those masses of soldiers unloading off of Raiders onto the beach to assault the T’au lines. And Wracks will be part of that.

All told a lot of painting done! Yet more to go. Much more.

Army Painted Totals

40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 116 PL

Aeronautica Imperialis Aeldari: 295 points

The Invasion of Planet No’ohrm-Ha’an D

The Invasion of Planet No’ohrm-Ha’an D

FYI. This is the draft version of the fluff background for a set of games that I’ll be playing with some friends, pitting Tau vs Aeldari in a linked campaign that does a 40k version of the Invasion of Normandy from World War II. Changes will be made as the narrative solidifies.

“Ah, good kin. So glad you could join me. Your seer-sight did steer you right, I assure you.”

The Warlock exchanged a bemused glance with her Autarch at the words uttered by their host. To call them “kin” was near-insult, and the Warlock’s visions were clouded with all manner of warning signs. Even finding this eddy of the Webway with their own small craft, and docking with this entirely suspect Voidship left them near-convinced this was a bad plan from the start. This was a Drukhari ship, and their host an Archon named Yraleath.

“I assure you… relax” Archon Yraleath continued, attuned to their discomfort. “As you well know, this is about mutual gain for your Craftworld and my Kabal both. Our ancestors draw from the same source, and that bloodline shares roots long hidden, but now found.”

Yraleath swept his hand to a large drawing easel that floated just above the deck on a grav-suspensor platform, which contained an elaborate set of sketches. Unfurled star charts and a few open tomes were also on the easel. Flecks of paint and ink, and worryingly perhaps other substances given some of the jars that littered what seemed to be the Archon’s study, were everywhere. But the core of the sketch was clear: an elaborate tree housing a gem, beside what were clearly hand-inked battle plans.

“The Peridot of Isamena,” Yraleath said, his hand gingerly patting the canvas painting. That name provoked another glance between the two Craftworld visitors, this time more of surprise. “Ah, yes. You recall Isamena’s name at but a mention. She who wove the stones and the earth, one of the engineers who helped grow your very Craftworld.” The Autarch gave a clear nod of confirmation, and the Archon continued. “Isamena was not only a traveler on your home amidst the stars. Her lover, a Corsair named Ynakara, may be less known to you. Ynakara walked many paths, including the streets of Commorragh. And their children walked with Ynakara, and their descendants number many amidst our Kabal. One of your great architects and engineers, but also our greatest of grand-mothers. After a fashion.”

“When she grew weary after so many years, Isamena left your Craftworld, as you well know. What I have discovered is that Ynakara helped her find a place to settle. And there she worked on growing her most wondrous and massive creation… beyond your lovely Craftworld, of course.” There was only the slightest hint of jeer in the phrase, and both Warlock and Autarch let it wash away. “The Peridot of Isamena, a gem gradually woven up from the earth amidst the cluster of a Juniper tree in the direct center of her garden, a garden woven to cover an entire planet. All those natural lines, all that energy, all converging in a single point. A most auspicious rock.”

“Thru much research and investigatory… hmm… raids, I’ll say, I’ve located the planet where our shared ancestor made her retreat. And as far as I can tell, the world-garden is still very much intact. Her touch is everywhere, in every tree and stone. With all energy centered in the Peridot. And all the more surprising, it yet stands despite the current… occupants.” Yraleath pointed toward the star charts. “What is the phrase that pertinacious Farseer of Ulthw√© uses for them? Striplings? Those young striplings of space, the T’au, are the ones who hold the planet now. At least they are not the barbarian Mon-keigh of Terra, who would tear it all down in an instant if they knew one of ours had a hand in it. But the T’au have a muse of beauty at times, so I do believe they would preserve another species’ garden for its own sake. At least not unduly plow her woven creations into the soil out of xenophobic spite.”

“There are reasons you would seek Isamena’s creation, and reasons my Kabal would be interested in mounting a raid there as well,” he continued. At this the Warlock knew there was more unsaid in the Archon’s offer, but chose not to push on it. However, she did resolve to report the suspicion back to the Seer Council upon return. “It will take more than a usual sort of raid, of course, as the stripling T’au have quite a force on this world. The nearest Webway access leaves a system to traverse. The T’au refer to the system as No’ohrm-Ha’an, and the fourth planet, designation “D”, is the one where Isamena’s lost garden lies. We’ll need to arrive in force in the system, and mount a full invasion to root the… bovine in battlesuits… out of the city where our prize lies. That will take your armory of ships and the fabled Wraith Host of your halls. I need your military might for a proper invasion of the beach-side coast if we’re going to be free of the T’au. You need my forces, our speed, and my most brilliant battle plans to make it all a success, not to mention my help in finding the center of the garden when we get there.” Yet another glance was exchanged between the Warlock and Autarch at the strange self-serving confidence of their strange host.

Yraleath rolled up the canvas pages and drawn diagrams and carefully tied them with a length of reddish twine of some sort. He handed them to the Autarch. The Warlock took a look closer, and saw that the twine was likely a length of dried and cured intestines, and knowing the Drukhari, it would be those of a sentient creature surely. She would have to inform her Prince of that fact, but perhaps at a moment when he did not bear it in his hands in front of their host. As surely the reaction would be one of disgust, and care to avoid seeming even slightly rude was needed here.

“Think it over, my kin.” The last words of Yraleath echoed in their minds they exited his study and started to walk the halls of his vessel back to their own craft.

“This would cost so many lives,” the Autarch muttered. “The operation he sketched looked immense at first glance–a full air war, multiple insertions of raiding elements by drop craft the night before, then a mechanized shock assault across water onto a fortified beachhead. Those T’au may be a young race, but their guns are formidable.” Their Craftworld had encountered the T’au on occasion, and even their temporary emplacements and air defenses loomed as deadly both their minds.

“You’ll bring this to the Seer Council,” he continued. “Look to the skeins of fate, as you do. If this is true–and I don’t trust our ‘kin’ entirely on that even–but if true, we must act on it. I can awaken the Wraiths and stoke the forges of Vaul. We can bring such destruction to the skies and shores of the T’au that they will be forced to leave the planet, to withdraw back to their other holdings. At least long enough for us to transplant what we can of the garden of Isamena back to a spot where we can tend it. And see if her soul resides in the Peridot, as having her wisdom and guidance once again would be of great help in these troubled times.”

The Warlock sighed as she took her seat when finally back in their own craft. Isamena had chosen to retreat from the Craftworld when she grew weary. Now they were on the precipice of bringing not only fire and death to the planet of her refuge, but perhaps to bring her dormant spirit into service once more. That alone gave her pause. But to leave such wonders in the hands of the T’au Empire, to not have them within the halls of the Craftworld, that too must be considered. The Warlock mused to herself whether the seer-sight would “steer them right” indeed. No’ohrm-Ha’an D? A vision of darkness and haze over beaches littered with Aeldari bodies crowded her sight as their ship took off and slipped back into the cold stark void of space.

Crusade: Deity of Death

Crusade: Deity of Death

Planetary Empires campaign continues to churn, and I slide to a more flexible raiding party role for a while to reset my force to explore some Ynnari lists that get me blending Drukhari and Asuryani forces (and maybe a few Harlequins at some point too).

Prologue

The prophet had come, had walked the halls of the Craftworld and the alleys of Commorragh. More than a few had followed her, seeking guidance and insight or perhaps more insidious things. Followers of Archon Yraleath the Calcimineer noted that he had sent some envoys to make contact with those of the Saim Hann Craftworld, where their Kabal had some ties through varied exodites, corsairs, and more. There was a rumor that a Spiritseer was in contact with him, some long-lost ally who had spent time amidst high Commorragh themselves. The call of the prophet, the sounding of a potential for so much death, had motivated the sights of Kabal and Craftworld together on the planetary cluster Scylla Quintus.

The forces gathered in the Webway, united by the prospect of war against the varied assembled forces, war in the name of the goddess of death. Drukhari Kabalites stood in long ranks, eyeing their long-lost relatives amdist the Rangers and Guardians who stood in the Asuryani force. Yraleath stood speaking to the Seer, their conversation low. Sharp eyes noted a curved Hekatarii blade slung at the Seer’s waist. Had they spent time in the fighting pits, or a gift from some Drukhari consort? The opaque blue glow of their Seer’s mask gave no hints on the wearer’s demeanor, and their body language was deferential to that of Yraleath. At their feet glowed a single rune carved in the strange earth of the unstable realm. As they spoke, it seemed to glow, until lighting on fire.

Yraleath then spoke to the assembled forces. “It’s time for us to depart, to join our forces in attacking those of this system. The sheer scale of death and destruction these planets have seen have merely set the stage for death yet to come. Whether you believe the prophet’s words, or are here simply to chase some excess and violence to shave off another day of chase from She Who Thirsts, we go forth for war united. Fight in your bands, but know we fight together. It’s a particular delight seeing you brethren commit to war. A very particular delight seeing you needing… nay, wanting… to see your shots flense the foe, your blades draw blood. You grew up on the Craftworld, but inside is something older.”

The Spiritseer then spoke, their voice low but commanding as it modulated through the mask’s speaker. “We may work at similar aims, but we are different. Do not forget that.” The Archon bowed with an absurd deference, as if accepting the comment but also making light of it. The Seer continued, undeterred. “Our actions in these battles walk the line of death, bringing forth Ynnead as we are promised. The very spirits buried in our stones and our wraithbone cry out for death–the death we are about to mete out. Let us sally forth and destroy all we face. In the name of Ynnead and of the Prophet herself!”

Game One: Demons and Dust

The initial strike of the combined force of Ynnari devotees brought them to the outskirts of an industrial segment of a small town, once occupied by the mon-keigh. There was death here, and soon enough it revealed just what sort. The very walking dead–spirits of dust in armor–had convinced some cults amongst the mon-keigh to rise up and start unspeakable rituals to spread their predations.

The mechanized portions of the Aeldari force dispensed with the cultists on the left flank, whilst on the right a group of arena-trained wyches dove into the masses of warriors to tear them apart. The sheer bloodshed was unimaginable, as the wyches had to fight desperately given the tight quarters atop a small industrial platform.

In the distance, the rituals of the dust-suited warriors culminated, and daemons of a sort leached their way into realspace. The lines of Kabalite warriors barely got to fire before the malign sorceries of the assembled foes tore into them. Heads exploded and bodies fell rigid with destroyed minds in the mental onslaughts.

While the masses fell, the damage to the armored dust-warriors carried the day. Too many suits perished, and their leader fled on their strange disk-like conveyance–followed by their warriors teleporting to some distant fighting ship. The core of the Ynnari held long enough to secure the battlefield, and turn the carnage and interrupted rituals into work for the goddess of death.

Game Two: Breeding Nests

Pouring over careful scan data, Archon Yraleath found a likely spot to strike. The Seer may be a true believer, but Yralreath was more cagey. Finding a way to use violence and war to duck the predations of She Who Thirsts had been what he had done for generations. He painted pictures of the battlefields, triptychs of life becoming death, and it had held her at bay thus far. Tho each time, a bit less, he knew. That’s why the words of the prophet were at least worth listening to now. And if he could turn that Seer and their forces into a tool for his own machinations in the Commorragh, then all the better.

But that meant playing the Seer’s game, and interpreting the strange visions. After their prior battle, the Seer had spoken of the various ways the goddess of death was denied–the armored warriors of the mon-keigh with their dust bodies being only one such method. His scans turned up another: multiple tendrils of a cosmos-spanning hive fleet had reached Scylla Quintus, and the way that the fleet destroyed everything but turned it into more Tyranid… life… was perverse enough an affront to him. Their sheer lack of artistry, of freedom, of creativity in destruction? That was worth ending–and Yralreath pitched that much to the Seer.

Agreeing to strike at the hive fleet, the forces set upon a spot where an initial tendril bombardment had seeded the very ground with the invasive organisms that called to and guided their forces. The Ynnari forces were tasked with finding the various nests where they were buried and eliminating them, so that the spread of the Tyranid vanguard organisms would be blunted. Of course, some of the beasts were already on the ground near these, defending them while the rest of the fleet drew closer. Fierce Tyranid Warriors were cut down in droves by the Wyches, but they seemed almost limitless in response–and killed many of the area-trained themselves.

The Spiritseer’s Guardians rode with them in a Wave Serpent, and rushed toward the mental commanders of the Tyranid force. A pod of Zoathropes nearly destroyed the crew of the Wave Serpent with their mental onslaught. The pilot hung on long enough to deliver them, and the Spiritseer put an ancient curse of Doom upon them, which enabled shuriken to tear through their armored forms with precision.

The forces of the Archon and the Seer were able to unearth and destroy all four of the buried nascent vanguard organism nests–fusion blasts and grenades destroying each of them. The worse of the Tyranid forces were held at bay, in no small part thanks to the sacrifices of both Drukhari and Asuryani transport craft crew. One daring Raider interposed itself of the hordes of smaller beasts and the birthing creature that carried them, only to be shattered by their small claws and finally shot thru by the spines launched by the mother-creature. As the Ynnari forces withdrew in victory, they knew that deaths of some of their number were the price to pay for the goddess of death to tighten her grip on the system, and the eventual rise of Ynnead herself.

Painting Progress

Plenty of painting these past two weeks. First, I finally managed to put the highlights on my second Ravager, this one equipped with Dark Lances. As I’m playing Ynnari right now, I’ll have to paint up a Heavy Support choice for the Asuryani to be able to field this one. But glad it got it done, as it adds more heavy firepower to my forces.

Very first of my Asuryani forces that I finished up was a Wave Serpent. I’ve got a pretty mechanized infantry approach to Drukhari, so to balance that I’ll need a whole lot of Wave Serpents too (tho I may swap back on occasion to a pure Drukhari list just to make progress on many Venoms). Pretty pleased both with how it turned out, and with how it matches my Drukhari forces well. These two armies are going to really click together.

Finally, I needed to complete the Spiritseer leader of the Asuryani side of the force. I did them up with a weapon swap to be holding a Hekatarii blade, to make them fit just a bit closer to my Drukhari forces. I will likely do up a Farseer too soon, but I had this model and they seemed good to try out the various colors (hard to do the arms/glove with the armor highlights, but do a different set of lowlights for the robes still in the same base color. I think it turned out okay tho.

Overall I’m pretty pleased with the painting progress so far, and if I’m going to hit 365 or more Power Level painted this year it’s time to focus in (as we’re nearing the end of April already). So I think it’ll be Aeldari that become the year’s focus–especially because when I set them on the table they look so slick and unified (even between Asuryani and Drukhari).

Painting Challenge 2022 Progress

Warhammer 40k Aeldari 2022 Power Level Painted Total: 115/365

Aeldari Apocalypse

Aeldari Apocalypse

As I mentioned in my prior post, I’m aiming at painting up 365 points of Aeldari for 40k as my 2022 year goal. Which is a pretty ambitious undertaking. I’m doing so because I want to build a Ynnari but mostly Drukhari force for Apocalypse-sized games. I wanted to visualize what I have and want to paint next, sort of a virtual measure of progress toward goals of a pretty big and impressive force. So I did up the following graphic:

I like this because it’s actually a pretty good look at what I’d want the full force to look like eventually. It doesn’t include what I’ve already painted (which is a lot: 47 PL / 980 pts. already finished and magnetized). As I paint going forward, I’ll color in the models I’ve completed. I meant to do this with a T’au project that sort of flubbed as it started early in Covid, but I like the idea and wanted to give it a go.

Mustering a big force like this for me means a few large centerpiece models, plus that whole host of ground troops to be arrayed at their feet. That’s why my next project is a very un-exciting big blob of Kabalite Warriors. Need to have that “look” to the battles of the 41st Millennium: the swathes of infantry being blown up on the landscape where Titans stride.