View Full Version : Let's Play: Dawn of War - Dark Crusade

07-12-2008, 01:19 PM
So, as I said in the Let’s Play Archive thread, instead of playing through the campaign in the original Dawn of War (too easy/boring) or the freeform campaign in Dark Crusade (WAY too long/hard), I’ve decided to play through the most interesting 2 player skirmish maps against AI opponents at the Hard or Harder difficulty levels. If this gets some momentum, I may even write up all of them.

The AI in Dawn of War is usually decent, but sometimes it does fairly stupid things, especially when it’s low on money. As a result, higher difficulty levels work like higher difficulty levels in Civilization, in that AI players get a multiple to their resource income. The more money the AI has, the less likely it is that any individual mistake will doom it, and the more easily it can tech up and start spamming high-end units. Once this starts happening, you’re usually screwed unless you’ve consolidated a resource advantage and are already working on taking out the AI’s production structures. Thus, the best way of winning games against the AI is to starve it of resources by capturing more strategic points and imperial relics, and capping your strategic points with listening posts while attacking the AI’s economy by killing their listening posts and capturing their strategic points.

Given that the AI is cheating, this easier said than done.

For the purposes of this Let’s Play, I’ll mostly be sticking to factions which I know I can use effectively. Of the 7 factions in Dark Crusade, these are the five I’ll be using, in order of how well I know/like them:

• Space Marines – Classic, flexible, and easy to use.
• Tau – Hyper-specialized, tech dependent, and generally accepted as overpowered.
• Chaos – Space Marines with an evil twist. Most of the differences don’t show up until you tech up, though. I'm not as good with Chaos as I am with Space Marines or Tau.
• Imperial Guard – Leader-dependent, infantry-skewed at the low end and vehicle-skewed at the high end. I'm even worse with Imperial Guard than I am with Chaos.
• Eldar – Fiddly, specialized, and micromanagement focused. I'm actually pretty bad with Eldar, but I can beat the AI, and at least I know what I'm doing wrong.

I’m not playing as Orks because the third resource they have to manage makes them even more fiddly than the Eldar. I’m not playing as Necrons because they work completely differently from every other faction, which makes them suck in skirmish vs. a resource-cheating AI (plus I can’t figure out how to use them properly).

With that said, let's get to the killing!

Map: Abandon All Hope
Space Marines vs. Orks (Hard AI)

Battle Report, White Scars Chapter, First Company:

On our arrival in the Tartarus system, we found that the greenskin horde we had been sent to purge was already rampaging across Tartarus V. On orders from Warmaster Jaeger, First Company deployed via drop pods to the steaming jungles of the planet’s equator. Within minutes of landing, we found ourselves engaged a brutal struggle with the enemy.

Abandon All Hope is a really small map, and so players start out almost on top of each other. Against another human player, a really aggressive build order might succeed, but to compete with the AI’s resource cheats, you need to grab and cap strategic points as quickly as possible. Also, apologies for how murky the screens are – this map isn’t very well lit to begin with, and the first time I played was with the Raven Guard color scheme on my Space Marines, which was significantly less readable – imagine trying to pick out black-armored dudes instead of vaguely gray ones from a black background.


I start the game with a Stronghold (top) and a servitor (builder unit), and unless you’re doing something weird, the first thing your builder unit should build is your faction’s infantry production structure – in this case, the Chapel-Barracks (highlighted). At the same time, I queue up 2 Scout Marine Squads and an extra Servitor at my Stronghold. This is the standard economy boom/expansion build order for Space Marines.


I’m playing against Orks, and despite the AI’s deficiencies in other areas, it always goes straight for the infantry production structure too. Oh, and it can handle the fiddly resource-management that Orks require just fine, so a wave of green-skinned death will soon be coming my way.


Here we have my first Scout Marine squad, which followed the rally point I set straight to the closest strategic point. Strategic points give you requisition (the blue number in the upper left corner of the screen), which you need to buy pretty much everything. You can end up with more requisition than you need in the late game, but in the early game you never have enough.


Here’s my second Scout Marine squad, rushing off after the second nearest strategic point. Like requisition, these guys are crucial in the early game, but they go obsolete a lot faster, as we’ll be seeing shortly.


Both my servitors are tasked to completing my Chapel-Barracks, so I can start producing Tactical Squads, the backbone of a Space Marine army. Though you can’t see it here, and though Dawn of War never makes a point of it, servitors are brain-dead human bodies animated and augmented by cybernetic implants. The Imperium of Man is a horrible, horrible place, but still manages to be less horrific than the rest of the Warhammer 40k universe.

07-12-2008, 01:23 PM

Once the Chapel-Barracks is finished, one servitor builds a listening post on top of the captured strategic point, to increase my requisition income...


...and the other builds me a plasma generator, so I can start earning some Power (the green resource listed in the upper left).


Right about the time I finish my listening post, a group of Orks shows up in my base, ready for tea and crumpets. The lack of tea and crumpets prompts them to start smashing things.


Thankfully, my first tactical squad shows up about one second later. The dingy white armor of the White Scars makes them look like Imperial Stormtroopers, which is actually about right, except for the fact that Space Marines actually are superhuman badasses.


Oh, crumbs.


Just to give you an idea of how bad the Big Mek teleporting in is, here’s the UI that I’ve been carefully hiding from y’all in my previous screenshots. As you can see from the numbers under and next to his portrait, the Big Mek has 1310 hp, 550 morale, and deals a metric f*ckton of damage with both his ranged and melee attacks. Oh, and he’s strong versus Infantry, Heavy Infantry, & Vehicles… which is pretty much everything in the game except structures and daemons.

I hate Orks so much.


For contrast, this is what my Tactical Squad looks like. Even if you multiply the damage values by 4, the only stat in which the squad has an advantage over the Big Mek is health.

This encounter will not end well for First Squad here.

07-12-2008, 02:00 PM

The Battle-Brothers of First Squad found themselves under attack from the instant they landed. Only their faith in the Emperor and the knowledge that their brothers would soon reinforce them allowed them to withstand the initial assault.

The blue bar above the health bar on my two remaining marines is their squad’s morale value. When a squad’s morale drops to zero and stays in that range, it’s “Broken”, and its members deal significantly less damage. The surviving members of First Squad seem somewhat shaken by seeing their brother Marines hacked to bits by the Big Mek’s chainsaw claw. (I can’t imagine why.)


Apparently the God-Emperor of Mankind does protect, because by rights this guy should have eaten it before Second Squad here showed up.


Note the orange bar on top of the listening post’s health bar. That’s the build & upgrade indicator, and in this case it means that I’m in the middle of upgrading my listening post into a defensive emplacement. Assuming my Marines can last that long, it should help them fight off the Big Mek and his goons.


You’ll note that First Squad has two members again, despite being down to one about 12 seconds ago. Dawn of War lets you reinforce squads on the fly, so as long as you have the requisition and the last squad member isn’t dead, you can queue up additional squad members, who are added to the squad one at a time. This is great for attrition battles like this one, and even better for force projection, but it’s theoretically more efficient to use up all your command points before reinforcing squads beyond their starting loadout. It’s also slightly cheaper – a new tac squad costs $190, while four additional squad members costs you $200. Still, there are a lot of times, especially playing vs. the AI, when you need to toss the theory out the window and spam reinforcements like mad.


While Second Squad’s arrival provided a momentary respite, the xenos scum soon rallied. Within moments, Second Squad was also on the verge of destruction.

Fun Fact! The Imperium of man is highly xenophobic, and has lots of pithy sayings to prove it. Thus all the “xenos scum” and “greenskin filth” you’ll hear from me and the game itself.


Hey, look, one member of First Squad is still alive! Plus, my listening post finally started shooting at things.

07-12-2008, 02:07 PM

I’ve also got another listening post and a Heavy Bolter Turret on their way. Things are looking up!


...especially for poor Brother Caber from First Squad here, who just got impaled on the Big Mek’s chainsaw claw and then tossed through the air towards the camera. That’s sure to sting come morning.


Okay, two turrets firing on one target means I’ve turned this fight around.

Also, the magic of reinforcements means that First Squad is still on the field, despite a greater than 100% turnover rate. You’ll notice that the Big Mek has decided to rail on my Plasma Generator instead of my troops, a decision which my Tactical Squads heartily approve of.


Meanwhile, my Scout Marine squads have been busy capturing all of the strategic points on my end of the field, and have even captured the two Imperial Relics on the sides of the map. Imperial Relics are just like strategic points, except that:

• They take longer to capture
• They generate a little less requisition
• You can’t build certain high-end units without them

Given the size of this map and the fact that many skirmish games never even make it to Tech level 2, I’m a lot more concerned with the extra requisition than with the option to build a Land Raider if I tech up all the way.

07-12-2008, 02:14 PM

My tactical squads, heartened by their defeat of the Big Mek, push into the middle of the map, only to find an Ork turret and a bunch of Gretchin waiting for them. This isn’t great, but they would probably win, given time and reinforcements.


Unfortunately, the fact that the Big Mek was the only unit in my base means that the AI was massing a bunch of units for a second push. Here we see a squad of Shoota Boyz dispatching my hapless Scout Marines.

As I noted earlier, the cheap, early infantry units (Scout Marines, Stealthsuits, Cultists) available to most factions go obsolete quickly unless you spend a lot of time and money upgrading them. Most of the time it’s not worth the trouble.


…and here’s more Orks, ready to flank my tac squads. First & Second Squads decide that discretion is the better part of valor and engage in a tactical withdrawal.


Hoo boy. Now we’ve got two squads of Orks trying to take out my listening post. This is actually a make-or-break moment. If I lose the listening post, I lose vital income, and if the Orks take the Imperial Relic, I lose even more income, probably dooming my chances entirely in light of the AI’s resource advantage. I have to keep that listening post alive.


The splatter just to the right of the listening post is the remains of a servitor I ran in there in a suicidal effort to get a little more health on the listening post. The remnants of my tac squads are moving in as well, in an attempt to get the orks that are firing on the structure to choose them as their new target.

07-12-2008, 02:27 PM

It worked! The Shoota Boyz focus on the remains of Second Squad (First Squad got wiped out in the course of the retreat), leaving the listening post alive long enough for its gun to show up.


The desperate circumstance in which the expeditionary force found itself moved Captain Desolaine to take the field himself, and he personally led the counterattack against the greenskins.

Woo, Force Commander! As you may have gathered from how amazing the Big Mek was, Commanders are great in Dawn of War. The Force Commander is about as good as it gets for the Space Marines, though the Librarian and the Chaplain both have their points as well. The Force Commander’s Orbital Bombardment power is also awesome, though I don’t anticipate I’ll get to use it at any point during this Let’s Play, given the amount of teching up required to build an Orbital Relay.


Captain Desolaine’s arrival turned the tide of the battle, and he led Second Squad to crush the remaining greenskins, leaving no survivors. After a brief pause to regroup, he then led an assault on an enemy position, leaping into the fray without hesitation or fear.

The Force commander deals significantly more damage with his chainsword than with his bolter pistol (about twice as much), so it’s generally best to let him lead the charge, unless his health is low or you need to use his morale-boosting ability to keep a squad from breaking.

There are drawbacks to this, of course – just after this, my Force Commander tried to rush the enemy base on his lonesome. I had to change him and the rest of my troops into Stand Ground stance, so they wouldn’t go haring off on their own.


After pausing to strip control of the center strategic point from the AI, I sent my troops against the enemy base, though the appearance of another Big Mek meant that didn’t last.

Thankfully, the Big Mek attacked one of my Plasma generators rather than going after my units. Concentrated fire took him out.


Though valorous, Captain Desolaine was not wise, and spurned the wisdom of the Codex Astartes. He fell leading a charge against the enemy without waiting for the rest of First Company to reinforce his command. Let his death serve as a cautionary example.

I lost my Force Commander in a bone-headed move here… basically, I let him get too close to the guns on Da Boyz Hut without having the rest of my guys there to provide fire support & alternative targets. Just stupid.

Oh, and in case it wasn’t already obvious – every Ork building comes with machineguns mounted on it, even their barracks & central structure.

07-12-2008, 02:34 PM

10 command points worth of tactical squads is 5 squads. Most of those squads are reinforced up to 8 members (the maximum without teching up). I didn’t even have to buy rockets to take down Da Boyz Hut once my reinforcements showed up.

The sharp-eyed may have noticed that there are actually 2 command point indicators in the upper left, next to the resource readouts. The topmost is infantry command points, and the bottom is vehicle command points. Relic did away with the distinction in Company of Heroes, which is part of why that game tends to skew more towards tank rushing than Dawn of War does.


From there on out it was just a question of destroying Da Boyz Hut each time the AI tried to rebuild it, and systematically destroying every listening post and resource-related structure within reach.


This guy here is the Chaplain – you can build him from the Stronghold once you tech up to Tier 2. I didn’t get to use him or any of the other Tier 2 advantages in a meaningful way, but I figured I’d show him to you anyway. He’s a lot like the Force Commander except not as tough, and with an ability that lets him terrify enemy infantry into slowing down. Also commander units like the Force Commander & Chaplain don’t take up command points, so they let you bypass the unit cap.


At this point the outcome is no longer in doubt. I have most of the resources on the map, I’ve killed almost all their units, and I have 4 strongly reinforced squads against their single squad and the guns on their Settlement (Stronghold equivalent). I would have to really screw up to lose from this kind of position.


Needless to say, I focused fire on the Settlement, and won.

Apologies for how dark everything was - I think I've figured out to edit my screencaps so you can actually see some of what's going on.

Any requests? I've already played the next map, but if you want to saddle me with (for example) a fight against a Expert Necron AI using the Eldar, I'm game, even though there's absolutely no way that I'll be able to win that kind of fight.

07-12-2008, 03:05 PM
It's okay to lose, and Orks have the best resource ever (WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH), so I would like to see at least one game o' them. ;D

I always liked the resource structure in this game; for those who haven't played, you move your units to capture and control particular points on a map, usually located in strategic points (on a hill, in some ruins, et cetera). They slowly generate resource for you as long as you control them.

Also: maybe bust out mspaint and highlight/circle stuff on the screenshots? Be a little easier to see what's going on.

07-12-2008, 03:22 PM
It's okay to lose, and Orks have the best resource ever (WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH), so I would like to see at least one game o' them. ;D

Also: maybe bust out mspaint and highlight/circle stuff on the screenshots? Be a little easier to see what's going on.

I'm really bad at Orks, but I'll see what I can do. =)

As for the clarity, I'll probably end up using mspaint in certain bits, but I think a lot can be done with careful use of colors & choice of maps. I just recorded a game where I played bright red Tau vs. bright green Eldar on a snow map, which should help the visibility a lot.

Edit: Maxing out the gamma seems to have helped a lot. I never noticed how dark the game's default lighting was until I started taking screenshots.

Edit: Uh, wow. I'm not sure if this is something to do with my computer, but any tweaks to the gamma & lighting only last until I tab away from the game. Then everything gets way darker.

No wonder those screenshots from the first game are so hard to read.

Ample Vigour
07-12-2008, 04:36 PM
How I love the Orks. 'Ere We Go! was my favorite game book as a kid (hell, it might be my favorite game book now!)

07-12-2008, 04:58 PM
How I love the Orks. 'Ere We Go! was my favorite game book as a kid (hell, it might be my favorite game book now!)

Oh, the Orks have great flavor - I just hate having to juggle the extra resource. Though since people seem to want to see them, I guess I'll be playing them before this is done.

Anyway, it looks like I'm going to go light on the screen captures from here on out, because I have to restart the game every time I want one of them to look right. I've got the next map (Chaos vs. Eldar on Absolute Zero) written up, I just need to capture the images and upload them.

07-12-2008, 05:43 PM
Wait, why are you having to restart? Isn't there a screenshot button available in the game?

07-12-2008, 06:12 PM
Wait, why are you having to restart? Isn't there a screenshot button available in the game?

Well, I was wrong about having to restart. I *do* have to compensate for the fact that when I tab away from the game, everything gets darker, which means that every screenshot I take needs to have the Gamma & Saturation cranked up to frankly absurd levels.

As for an in-game hotkey, a little investigation indicates that Dawn of War doesn't embedded screenshot functionality. I can copy screenshots to the clipboard with the PrintScreen key, but I have to tab out to actually paste them into mspaint.

If there's a better way of handling things, I'd be glad to hear about it - the way I'm doing things now is a right pain in the ass.

07-12-2008, 06:21 PM
That's.. pretty bizarre to leave out. Watchoo thinkin', Relic? -.- In that case I'd google for "windows screen capture" or "screen shot" or something, there are programs you can run that make taking and managing screenshots a lot easier.

07-12-2008, 06:37 PM
Map: Absolute Zero
Chaos vs. Eldar (Hard AI)

The fact that this wasnít the most utterly one-sided fight vs. the AI that Iíd ever seen is solely due to another battle that Iím going to recount later.


Absolute Zero is a long map with the two starting bases sitting right next to each other, separated by a pair of cliffs. The expectation is that you have to move your units to the far ends of the map before closing in the middle, but there are ways around this. Specifically, Jet packs!

Several factions (Space Marines, Chaos, Orks, Tau) can get jet pack units early, but since I donít play Orks, the easiest way to get jet packs as of Dark Crusade is to play Chaos. Tau have to buy an upgrade to add jetpacks to their units, while Space Marines have to build the Armory to build Assault Marines (this is a change from vanilla Dawn of War Ė the Assault Marine rush was pretty broken). Chaos, on the other hand, still has Raptors at tier 1 with no prerequisites.

I start out with the classic Chaos Temple, 2 Cultist Squads, Heretic build order, which is essentially the same as the Space Marine order I used on Abandon All Hope. Instead of building Chaos Marines from my Temple, though, I build a Raptor Squad, which immediately jumps the gap and starts hacking away at the AIís Aspect Temple (barracks). Meanwhile, my cultists and heretics are capturing resource points and capping them with listening posts.


If these guys are in your base and you donít do something, youíre kind of screwed.


The AI, seeking a cowardly Capture & Hold victory, sends a Guardian squad to capture the maps single Critical Location. I ignore this for now, as while holding more than 50% of a mapís Critical Locations can win you the game, the victory timer is 7 minutes long. If I crush the AIís production capabilities early, thereís no way the game is going to last that long. Besides, those guys should really be back in the AIís base, killing my Raptors.


Oh, look, a Farseer (a power-oriented Eldar commander thatís physically weaker than the Force Commander or Big Mek). Her Psychic Storm wouldíve been a lot more effective if I hadnít A) captured the Imperial Relic to the south already already and B) moved my cultist squad out of the way. The Farseer, accurately dismissing the cultists as non-threatening, sweeps past them to attack the listening post I build on the strategic point just outside my base.

Just to be clear - This is not a particularly good use of a Farseer.

With the Critical Location captured, the AI sends its Guardian Squads to try to take out the listening post Iíve built on top of the Imperial Relic. I make them waste some time by throwing my cultist squad in their way, but the cultists are little more than a speed bump. Guardians donít do much damage to buildings, so I start the upgrade process and tell my heretic to build a bolter turret next to the listening post.


The Eldar continue to focus on the listening post instead of attacking the heretic, so in a minute or so Iíll have enough defenses in the area to blast them to kibble.


Meanwhile, my first Raptor squad has destroyed the Aspect Temple and is killing the AIís workers (Bonesingers) and the partially complete buildings theyíre working on, while the second Raptor squad heads down and takes out the Farseer with the help of the listening post sheís attacking. Nearby, the paired Listening Post and Heavy Bolter Turret have annihilated the Guardian squad that was attacking them... while a second Guardian squad just walked back and forth behind them as they were dying. Nice unit-level AI, Relic. No, really.

Uh, guys, the enemy is THIS wayÖ

Needless to say, the second Raptor squad makes short work of those idiots, even after they decide to start shooting back. Once theyíre dead, I send the Raptors to recapture the Critical Location, because, sadly, I canít count the number of times Iíve lost to thinking I was the one who had the victory timer counting down to zero instead of the AI.


Meanwhile, in the AIís baseÖ well, Iíve already won. My Raptors are busily hacking away at the AIís infrastructure, with brief breaks to kill off the Guardian squads that the AI keeps pumping out in a desperate attempt to disguise the fact that the gameís already over. The game goes on for three more minutes, with me building an Armory and reinforcing my Raptor squads up to 10 + an Aspiring Champion (squad leader) each, but the outcome is never in doubt. This map is completely unfair when one side can jetpack-rush and the other canít.

Smells likeÖ victory.

07-12-2008, 07:27 PM
So I'm going back and using what I learned this afternoon to make the screenshots from the first battle less murky and more readable. Looking over what I've said so far, I think that I'll probably do a basic mechanics post sometime soon as well, given that Dawn of War deviates fairly significantly from the traditional Warcraft/Starcraft model.

Nunix, Ample - let me know if you think the screenshots still need annotation. I'm trying to zoom in on the subject of the shot, and to highlight it as well, but there are times when it seems like it's not enough.

07-13-2008, 01:18 PM
Abandon All Hope 2.0 is way nicer to look at, thanks. ;D

I'd like to know more about each unit; what its strength is, weaknesses, how popular is the unit, what's the best situation to use them, and so on. Not every unit in the game maybe, but at least the ones that you use for your strategies, and maybe particularly troublesome enemy units as well.

07-13-2008, 01:43 PM
Abandon All Hope 2.0 is way nicer to look at, thanks. ;D

I'd like to know more about each unit; what its strength is, weaknesses, how popular is the unit, what's the best situation to use them, and so on. Not every unit in the game maybe, but at least the ones that you use for your strategies, and maybe particularly troublesome enemy units as well.

I'll try my best! Though my knowledge of the higher tier units and which units are popular in PvP isn't that great.

Also, I've been digging into the Orks, and they're actually pretty interesting. Still kind of fiddly, but if you use the Overwatch mechanic (which isn't described in the tutorial), they're a lot less fiddly than I thought. My next non-mechanical update will be one where I play Orks.

07-13-2008, 03:14 PM
Dawn of War: Basic Mechanics

So I kind of glossed over this stuff earlier in my description of how the fight on Abandon All Hope progressed, but looking back over it, I felt that I wasnít explicit enough. So Iím going to describe the core mechanics of Dawn of War is a little more detail.


Most races in Dawn of War have 2 resources they have to manage Ė Requisition, and Power. This parallels the Warcraft/Starcraft model, where you need Requisition for everything, and Power for everything high-tech or worth having in the late game.

Requisition is earned by moving an unit that can capture onto a Strategic Point, Imperial Relic, or Critical Location, and then ordering them to capture it. Assuming that the unit isnít killed and you donít cancel that order, once itís been there long enough, the Strategic Point (or Strategic Point variant) will be yours. If you have a builder unit free, you can build listening posts on top of strategic points or Imperial relics to prevent other players from recapturing them. (Critical Locations canít be Ďcappedí in this manner, for reasons Iíll explain later.) Listening posts more or less double the amount of Requisition that you earn from a strategic point or Imperial relic, and if you upgrade them, they increase your Requisition income even more. Given that games are typically won and lost on which player has more Requisition, capturing and fortifying strategic points is vital, as is destroying your opponentís listening posts.

Power, unlike Requisition or its parallels (Vespene Gas/Wood) in the Craft games, isnít strongly linked to locations on the battlefield. You generate Power by building generators in your base, or by building advanced generators on special locations on the map. Not every map has these locations, and you have to tech up to be able to build advanced generators, so in most skirmish games, power will come exclusively from standard generators. While you donít need Power to build most infantry units, you need it for commanders, leaders, heavy weapons, vehicles, and teching up, so pretty much every faction has to build a generator or two early on.

Orks and Necrons donít use the standard resource system, which makes them harder to pick up and play than the more traditional factions. Orks add an extra resource Ė the Ork resource, or WAAAGH, depending on who you ask Ė which they need to be able to build new units or reinforce existing ones. You start the game with a WAAAGH cap of 15, which is raised by building Waaagh banners, which are basically expensive machinegun turrets. Waaagh banners also increase the number of Orks you can have on the field, as well as the rate at which WAAAGH regenerates when your Orks die. If someone wants a more detailed explanation of how this madness works, Iíll get to it in my Ork-specific update.

Necrons donít use Requisition at all. Instead, if they capture strategic points and erect monuments on them, their build times speed up by 20% (to a maximum of 100%). They use Power for everything, and many of their low-end units, including their builder units and basic infantry, are completely free (other than their build time). Oh, and they can and will spam Power generators, though each successive generator costs more for them to build. The reason I hate playing against them is because the AIís resource cheats means that generator spam gets them into end-game mode far faster than it should, and Necrons are essentially unbeatable in the end-game.


Dawn of Warís combat system is distinct from that of other RTS games in two ways. First, the majority of the units in the game are infantry squads, composed of multiple squad members, and can be reinforced on the fly. Second, all infantry squads and individual units have a morale value in addition to their health value, and if their morale goes low enough, their damage output is significantly reduced. Note that squads have a collective morale value, which is another reason why itís marginally better to have two 4-man squads than it is to have a single 8-man squad; if someone breaks the 8-man squad, everyone gets their damage nerfed, while with the 4-man squads, only half as many squad members have their damage output reduced.

There are 5 different classes of targets in Dawn of War, and each unit has a list of the target types itís strong against that shows up when you highlight it. The types are:

ē Infantry
ē Heavy Infantry
ē Vehicles
ē Structures
ē Daemons

The game engine breaks these groups down even further, but for the sake of my sanity and yours, Iím not going to go into the 13 different kinds of armor in Dawn of War. I balance RTS games professionally, and just the thought of dealing with 13 different kinds of armor gives me a migrane. What it all boils down to is that bigger, tougher units typically take less damage unless you're using a weapon that's a specialized counter.

Another important element of combat is the cover system. There are 2 kinds of positive cover (light & heavy), 1 kind of negative cover, and being in Melee combat, which works like cover. Light cover slows down infantry, increases morale regeneration, and reduces incoming ranged damage, and all of these effects are magnified by Heavy cover. Negative cover (usually applied to units standing in or crossing bodies of water) increases incoming ranged damage and slows down infantry movement. Melee combat reduces incoming ranged damage and almost completely eliminates morale damage from ranged attacks. For the curious, the melee combat bonuses and cover bonuses stack, so attacking melee units with ranged specialists is a recipe for disaster.


To build any structure in Dawn of War, you need a builder unit and (for most structures) an area of ground control. Builder units can be produced from your headquarters structure, and you have ground control in a radius around your headquarters and any Listening Posts you create.

The only structures which donít require ground control to build are Listening Posts (which you can only build on captured Strategic Points and Imperial Relics), Advanced Generators (which you can only build on Slag Deposits), and new Headquarters Structures and Heavy Bolter Turrets (which can be built anywhere except in the exclusion zone that surrounds Critical Locations). The fact that Bolter Turrets can be built anywhere gives Space Marines, Chaos, and Imperial Guard players a tactical option that other factions lack Ė you can even build Bolter Turrets inside an enemy base.


There are 3 standard victory conditions in Dawn of War. The first way is an Annihilation victory, where you destroy all of your opponentís production structures. The second is a Control Area victory, where one player controls 66% or more of a mapís strategic points for 8 minutes. The third is a Take and Hold victory, where one player controls more than 50% of a mapís Critical Locations for 7 minutes. The low threshold for a Take and Hold victory is why Critical Locations can't be capped - you need to be able to steal them back from your enemies to keep yourself from losing.

Most online PvP games disable Control Area & Take and Hold victories, but when youíre playing versus the AI on Harder or Expert, sometimes the alternate win conditions are the only way you can win.

07-14-2008, 11:38 PM
Map: Outer Reaches
Orks vs. Orks

Here, as promised, is a game where I play as Orks. In fact, since I forgot to save a replay of the single good game I played with Orks vs. Space Marines (the others involved the AI being a complete frigging idiot), it’s a game where I beat up on Orks with my Orks! Da Boyz like killin’ other Boyz just as much as killin’ Humies, don’tcha know.

I start off with a bog-standard build order: Da Boyz Hut, 2 Slugga Boyz squads, and a second Gretchin Squad. My Slugga Boyz capture the closest strategic points, and then rush for the strategic point right in the center of the map.


Outer Reaches is a bit like Absolute Zero in that the starting locations are mirrored and quite close to each other, so most of the action on this map takes place in the center-bottom. Capturing and reinforcing this strategic point early is thus a major advantage.

Shaddup, humie! Wurds hurt Thog’s brain.

Uh, right, Thog. Please don’t kill me.


Anyway, back at the ranch, my gretchin have been building Waaagh! Banners. Waaagh! Banners increase your Ork cap (which is also the cap on how much Ork resource you can have). With one Waaagh! Banner, my Ork cap goes from 15 to 25. Note that I’ve already hit my cap, because that’s what Orks do.

WAAAGH! Orks like smashin’, and bashin’, and killin’, and stabbin’, and slicin’, and... Thog forget what else Orks like.


Well, one other thing Orks like is fighting with other Orks. That’s ‘fighting with’ in the sense of having them on their side, as well as ‘fighting with’ in the sense of killing them. Here you see a reinforced squad of 9 Slugga Boyz facing off against a Big Mek. This is not a good matchup for me, despite the fact that the individual members of a squad of Orks grow in effectiveness as the size of the squad grows.


Oh, look. My Big Mek has teleported in, looking for tea and crumpets. Sadly, Dawn of War is rather short on the crumpets (and tea, for that matter), so he'll have to settle for stabbing the AI's Big Mek in his ugly gob.


It’s a little hard to read, but the two reinforcements in the build queue here tell the story. This is a squad of 13 Slugga Boyz, with 2 more on the way. Ork squad sizes can get frankly silly.


Screenshots like this one are why my first Ork vs. Ork battle was unusable. In fact, this is significantly more readable than most of the fights from that skirmish, as there are only two squads and two Big meks engaged here. Now imagine what the screen would look like with three or more squads of Orks per player. There were times when I had literally no idea who was winning or losing a fight because there was too much shit on screen.


Anyway, now that the Boyz have driven off the other Boyz and killed the listening post that was capping this strategic point, they get busy and make it go neutral again. No resources for you, chump!


Meanwhile, in the middle of the map, I’m building another Waaagh! Banner. This is fairly typical of how Orks build, as you need to build a ridiculous number of Waaagh! Banners in order to be able to build more Orks. This also means that you can effectively reduce an Ork player’s tech level and unit cap by killing their Waaagh! Banners. Great fun, unless it happens to you.

By the way, some people suggest that Orks are a newbie-friendly faction. This is a LIE. While the basic theory is simple (build lots of Orks!) the things you have to do so are highly counterintuitive if you play any other faction first. Not to mention that the Ork resource doesn’t work like the other two, in that the income rate listed next to it doesn’t have anything to do with how fast it accumulates except when you’re significantly below your Ork cap.

Anyway, rant over.

07-14-2008, 11:39 PM

As you can see from this, the AI is also spamming structures at its outlying listening posts. Orks pretty much have to do this, because the ground control radius around your headquarters building isn’t big enough for all the banners and generators you need. As a result, I’m busily taking out the listening post that giving them that pesky build radius.

Oh, fiddlesticks. The AI came with pixels of taking out my Listening Post with a Big Mek. Thankfully, I was able to prod my massive horde back to its defense in time to keep him from closing the deal before my gretchin (builder unit) could repair it.


Thankfully, his attack on my listening post in the middle of the map went less smoothly. Those smears on the ground used to be a Shoota Boyz squad that basically committed suicide by charging my Listening Post.


I’m, uh, not really sure what I was thinking here. Despite having overwhelming force at my disposal, as well as a fully built vehicle production structure, I sat around for over two minutes doing nothing. Thankfully, the AI was so far behind at this point that it didn’t matter.


Just for reference, these are Nobs, a later-game Ork unit. They have a ridiculous amount of Health and Morale, and deal a genuinely silly amount of melee damage. I don’t think they ever actually got to kill anything, though.


When I woke up and realized that I had a huge advantage both in resources and in terms of military force, I went on the offensive and rolled into the AI’s base. Despite the AI having guns on every structure, and having to race against my own Control Area victory, I scored an annihilation victory with 2 seconds to spare. Oh, and I got a Wartrak out in time for it to get in a couple of hits in on the Settlement & Da Boyz Hut. I don’t think that really counts as far as using vehicles goes, though.

Thog like Wartraks. Thog like winning too.

07-15-2008, 12:30 AM
You weren't kidding when you said you were cranking the gamma and saturation up.

I'm enjoying this so far. Despite being familiar with the game, you're pointing out a lot of stuff I never knew. Keep it up.

07-15-2008, 11:08 PM
While the next game I want to show y'all is already recorded, I had a really long day at work today, so I'm going to stick to text for this update. Specifically, I'm going to go through all of the Space Marine units that I've built (or could build) in the first two tiers of the tech tree. No Terminator Squads, sadly - you need Tier 3 for those.

Your bog-standard builder unit. No special abilities, no nothing. You need 2-3 of them to get your base set up and to cap resource points and build generators, but aside from their creepy origins, there's nothing else to say about them.

Scout Marines
Scout Marines are a fairly standard early-game unit. Their strengths are that they're cheap, fast, and can be built from your starting structure. Their weakness is that they take 40% more morale damage than other units do, and that even if you reinforce them fully, they're pretty useless in combat unless you buy the Infiltration ability and equip them with sniper rifles. Still, you want to build at least one Scout Marine squad in the early game to go grab resources, and if you ever have exactly one command point free, it's better to build a Scout Marine Squad than to detail one of your combat squads to capture duty.

Space Marine (Tactical) Squad
Ah, the glorious Tactical Squad. Space Marine Squads are a tad on the slow side, but they make up for it in strength and flexibility. They do a fair amount of ranged damage, but against ranged specialists, they can close to melee range and fight it out with their knives. Once you have the Armory and have upgraded your Stronghold, you can also outfit them with Flamers, Heavy Bolters, Plasma Guns, and Rocket Launchers. Flamers are fairly specialized (they deal morale damage), and Plasma Guns are of dubious utility unless you're fighting Necrons (they're strong vs. Heavy Infantry, and Necrons have no normal infantry), but Heavy Bolters are great vs. Eldar and the Imperial Guard (who are pretty much all normal infantry), while Rocket Launchers are good vs. everyone. Well, everyone who has vehicles and structures you want to kill. Which is everyone.

Also, Space Marine Squads can be reinforced with a Sergeant, who grants a boost to maximum morale, morale regeneration, and the Rally ability, which immediately restores the squad's morale to full. This can be incredibly handy.

Unless you're doing something very specific, a typical Space Marine army will mostly be composed of Tac Squads outfitted with Rocket Launchers. And despite what Relic's wiki claims, Tac Squads are more than capable of winning a game on their own.

Assault Marines
Assault Marines require the Armory, and used to cost the same # of command points as Space Marines, until Relic realized that they were just flat-out better than Space Marines, at which point their CP cost went up to 3. Their ranged attack is pretty worthless, but their melee damage is good, and they can close quickly by using either their jetpacks or their superior speed. (They're 50% faster than ordinary Space Marines.)

You can reinforce an Assault Marine squad with a Sergeant, just like a Tactical Squad, and you can also buy the Melta Bombs upgrade for use vs. vehicles or buildings. As such, Assault Marines are best used for micro-management heavy hit-and-run attacks, aggressive territory grabs, or for smashing someone's base when the bulk of their forces are off doing something else.

Grey Knights
Grey Knights require upgrading your Stronghold to a Monastery, and that you control a Sacred Artifact. They also cost 3 CP, and can't capture strategic points. Oh, and they're unique, so you can only have one squad of them at a time.

Given all of this, they should be pretty good, right? Well... kinda. They have the Psychic Inquisition power, which creates an AoE attack that deals damage over time, and you can buy and upgrade that makes thme deal damage to opponents when they close to melee. They're also strong melee combatants, and much stronger than Assault Marines at range. So they're worth building, but you pay for their power.

Skull Probe
I haven't played a game where stealth has played a major part yet, but when you're facing off against Infiltrated opponents, the Skull Probe (built at a listening post) is how the Space Marines can detect their enemies. A detector unit with no weapon, it can be attached to any Space Marine squad, and can also be sacrificed to deactivate an opponent's building, should you want to take one of them offline. They're mostly useful for letting you kill Tau Stealthsuits, though.

Force Commander
The Force Commander is great, and probably the best brute-force Commander available at Tier 1 for any faction. (The Necron Lord and Tau Commander give him a run for his money, but both of those require more finesse than the Force Commander.) He's best used as a melee combatant, soaking up damage that would otherwise kill off line soldiers, but if you really need to keep a squad's morale up, you can attach him to it and let him heal for a while.

Oh, and Orbital Bombardment is great, assuming you can tech up to build an Orbital Relay.

Eh. The Librarian is the Space Marines' power-based commander, which means if you want to use AoE damage abilities, smash the morale regeneration of opposing squads, or keep your dying squadmates alive for a while after they run out of health, he's your man. The problem is that you have to build the Sacred Artifact to get him, and typically you're better off building a Machine Cult to make Landspeeders and Dreadnoughts. I'm told that his Smite ability is great, but it's never done much for me. Plus, his icon makes him look like he has indigestion.

A healer that can be attached to squads to up their health regeneration. Useful, but a little fiddly, and you build them from the Sacred Artifact, like the Librarian. It's typically just better to build the Chaplain instead.

The Chaplain has an improved version of the Apothecary's healing aura, and is also a highly effective hero in his own right. Better yet, you can build him directly from your HQ once you've upgraded it to a Monastery. He's not as immediately useful and brute-force powerful as the Force Commander, but damn is he hard to kill.

Next up: Vehicles

07-15-2008, 11:22 PM
Rhino Transport
I really don't like specialized transport units like the Rhino and the Imperial Guard's Chimera. Sure, they let you move slow units faster, and help with force projection, but I tend to feel like the money you spend on them is better spent on something that can actually kill things.

Landspeeders have the advantage of being the only combat vehicle you can build without increasing your Vehicle cap. They cost 1 CP, are highly mobile, and murder infantry. Sadly, they're also pretty fragile, so unless you need a quick response force or are playing against Eldar or Imperial Guard, they lose their value pretty quickly.

Now we're talking! Dreadnoughts are huge, mechanized suits of armor in which mortally wounded space marines are encased. They're a tad on the slow side, but they take virtually no damage from infantry units, and just slaughter any infantry that engage them in melee. They have a flamer for ranged combat, but honestly, you should just have your Dreadnoughts wade into melee and hack your opponents apart. If you use them right, the game should be over before your opponent comes up with a counter.

Hellfire Dreadnought
Dreadnoughts with ranged weaponry. While I used to like these guys because they were cheaper than Dreadnoughts, experience has taught me that they're just not as good as their bigger brothers. There's pretty much no circumstance in which these guys are better than Dreadnoughts when playing against the AI.

07-17-2008, 01:14 AM
Map: Titanís Fall
Space Marines vs. Imperial Guard

Okay, so this time through I deliberately chose a build order that would showcase vehicles and tier 2 units, even if only for the last few minutes of the game. The fact that Iím playing against Imperial Guard actually helps a little, because spamming Tactical Squads actually isnít that great against a Guard player.

The map weíre playing on is an urban one, and most of the mapís terrain is made up of chunks of a fallen Titan. Titans are basically cathedral-sized mechs used by the Imperium which can annihilate pretty much anything other than other Titan-class walkers.


The Guardís cheap, crappy resource-capturing unit (Imperial Guardsmen) is actually their standard infantry unit, which means that theyíre not that crappy to start with. Theyíre also cheap to reinforce, as evidenced by the profusion of soldiers in this squad.


Also, the Guard specializes in pumping out cheap commanders that you attach to squads to improve their performance. The guy with the cloak and the sword here is an Imperial Commissar. He buffs the Guardsmensí morale and increases the rate at which they heal. He can also execute one of soldiers in his squad to make the rest of them shoot faster for a brief period of time. This is consistent with the Warhammer fiction Ė most Imperial Commissars keep their men in line through fear.


Up north, Iím pursuing a slightly different build order than usual. I still go Chapel-Barracks, 2 Scout Marines, Servitor, but instead of building a Plasma Generator immediately after finishing the Chapel-Barracks, I have my Servitors build two listening posts first. I also build a Force Commander instead of my usual Tactical Squad.

What Iím doing here is trying to resource-rush, so I can capture and cap as many strategic points as possible while harassing the AI to keep its resource production to a minimum. Tactical squads are great for going for the throat, but too many of their (very expensive) members tend to die off if youíre just trying to keep your opponent from building up their economy. Given that the Force Commander is made out of meat, and takes a really long time to die, heís a much better harassment unit. Also, Iím going to need as much requisition as possible to buy the plasma generators & various upgrades Iíll need to field any kind of vehicle force.


Here we see the Force Commander driving off a Commissar-led squad of guardsmen from the central Critical Location. The AI is very wisely retreating Ė if it tried to stand and fight, the Force Commander would butcher its guardsmen in melee combat.


Itís 4 minutes into the game, and Iíve already upgraded a bunch of my listening posts. Again, I have to do this if I want to be able to build vehicles that will see any use before the game ends.


Here we see a squad of Guardsmen taking on a Tactical Squad. When led by a Comissar or Priest, Guardsmen can actually be pretty dangerous, even if their weapons arenít that great on their own. Also, the AI is probably buying upgrades that increase the health and morale of all their Guardsmen, which makes them become more dangerous as the game goes on.


With two reinforced guardsmen squads and a Command Squad facing my Force Commander and Tactical Squad, I decide to beat a hasty retreat so I wonít lose all my guys.


A squad of guardsmen follows me, but another tactical squad and supporting fire from my listening post help take them out handily.


Meanwhile, the other squad of guardsmen and the Command Squad are attacking my base. Here you see the Command Squad, which is the Imperial Guardís equivalent of a Big Mek/Force Commander/Farseer. Instead of being one unit, though, the Command Squad is made up of between 1-5 individual members, who have to be bought individually. You can only have one commander, but you can double up on Commissars, Psykers (who have powers like the Librarian), or Priests (who buff morale and squad damage) as you like.


Here we see the Command Squad facing off against my entire army. Its end was, unsurprisingly, swift.

07-17-2008, 01:18 AM

Having wiped out the Command Squad, I turn on the Guardsmen that had killed the servitor which was working on my Armory. I think the sprays of blood speak for themselves.


As my army rampages back and forth across the center of the map, making sure that I kept my resource advantage, my Stronghold became a Monastery, allowing me to start on my Machine Cult.


I took a lot of pictures of my rampage, but this one is probably the best, despite the absence of enemies. Space Marines arenít exactly nimble, but theyíre quick enough to control most of the map if you can project overwhelming force.


Here we see a pair of Landspeeders, the first products of my Machine Cult. Youíll notice that the one I made first is already mostly dead, despite facing off against a bog-standard squad of guardsmen. Thereís a reason Landspeeders only take up a single command point. Still, the massed firepower of the listening post and the landspeeders means those guardsmen are doomed.


These guys here are Grey Knights. Theyíre great in melee combat (thus the absence of a Imperial Guard listening post), but canít capture strategic points. Oh, and they have an area DoT power that I can rarely be bothered to use.


Here we see my damaged Landspeeder (which had a grand total of 19 health left when I sent it home to be repaired), as well as my first (and only) Dreadnought. Dreadnoughts are amazing, but by the time this guy gets across the map, pretty much everything will be over but the crying. I generally try to build my Vehicle production structures as close to the front lines as possible, for this very reason.

Ah, well. At least heíll speed up the process of killing the AIís structures.


Here we see my Grey Knights, my Chaplain, and my Dreadnought hammering on the AIís Infantry Command. For some reason, the AI was busy building plasma generators instead of sending its Techpriests (builder units) to repair its structures or build infantry squads. Also note that at this point, the AIís Field Command is at full health.


I took this screenshot 17 seconds later. 18 seconds after that, I won by Annihilation.

I <3 Dreadnoughts and Grey Knights.

07-18-2008, 02:00 AM
Okay, so no update today, but I've got replays of several decent battles in the can. What would you like to see next?

1) Me explaining how broken the Tau are as I use them to annihilate the Eldar.
2) Me explaining how broken the Necrons are as I desperately try to stomp them flat before they destroy me.
3) Me playing against an AI on the Harder difficulty and eking out a win.
4) Me playing against an AI on the Expert difficulty and being handed my arse.

The last option is the only one I don't have a replay for already, but that should be easy to rectify.

Ample Vigour
07-18-2008, 02:04 AM
4) Me playing against an AI on the Expert difficulty and being handed my arse.

What is the thrill of victory without the agony of the computer cheating its butt off?

07-18-2008, 02:13 AM
The Necron one, definitely. I love me some dead dudes.

07-18-2008, 02:16 AM
2) Me explaining how broken the Necrons are as I desperately try to stomp them flat before they destroy me.

Put me down for this one.

07-20-2008, 02:03 AM
Map: Bloody Hell
Space Marines vs. Necrons

So this game isnít completely ideal for demonstrating why Necrons inspire existential terror in me, but it does demonstrate the necessity of stomping them early and often if you want to win.

These are the Necrons. The AI pumped out one squad of Necron Warriors early, and then left them sitting around, which is kind of a dubious decision. Most generally accepted Necron build orders start with a second squad of Builder Scarabs before seguing into Necron Warriors and the Necron lord.

Note that a 3-man squad of Necron Warriors is technically free (i.e. cost 0 power, since Necrons donít use Requisition), but has a significant opportunity cost in the time it takes to build. (Builder Scarabs, which the Necrons use to capture strategic points as well as build, are also free.) All Necron units are built from their headquarters structure (the Monolith), so if you want to beat the Necrons, you essentially have to rush their army, take it out, and then squat on their doorstep, killing every new unit they produce. This is easier said than done, for a couple of reasons which will soon become apparent.

Here we see the Builder Scarabs building a gauss turret next to their power generator. Again, this is something that should probably have been saved until after the AIís economy was up and running, though it could be argued that the AI is preparing for the rush thatís necessary to beat the Necrons.

Here we see the first encounter between my tactical squad and the AIís two squads of Necron Warriors. The Necrons, instead of standing and fighting (a battle they would probably have won) instead chose to retreat towards their base. Iím not sure what prompted this, actually, other than a desire to minimize their supply lines, but it allowed my Tac Squad to whittle down the health of their squads as it pursued them (Necrons canít fire while moving, while Space Marines can).

And here we see my Tactical Squad rushing in where angels fear to tread. The Necrons, having been pushed back to the doorstep of their base, finally turned around and started shooting at me. I had to retreat shortly thereafter.

From this picture, it looks almost like the AI is playing reasonably.

Unfortunately, itís not. The second Necron squad here ought to have coordinated its attack with the first one, and the Necron Lord whoís just hanging out ought to teleport over and attack my troops. This is the first of several major errors on the part of the AI that helped give me the game, as the fact that I was concentrating fire while it wasnít was decisive in this engagement.

Point in case.

Instead of learning its lesson, the AI continued to stream individual squads of Necron Warriors into the guns of my men for the next few minutes. Note the bolter turret behind my Tac squads here. Building forward emplacements of this sort tends to be critical if you want to defeat Necrons with Space Marines, as youíll see in a bit.

Having taken out the obelisk capping one of the strategic points next to the Necron base (and reducing the Necronsí build speeds as a result), my scout marine squad moves to capture it while my tac squads concentrate fire on the Necronsí generators. While the AI was playing like a moron, I didnít know that at the time, and every little bit helps against the Necrons.

Here, Iíve built another bolter turret, just in time for the Necrons to deploy a squad of Flayed Ones. Flayed Ones are bad news against infantry, because they radiate a fear aura that deals constant morale damage. Iím pretty sure the only thing that saved me here was the fact that the AI didnít deploy them until after my bolter turret went up... which was stupid, because they were just sitting around inside the monolith for a minute before this picture was taken, and turrets - like vehicles - don't take morale damage.

Oh, and the Necron Lord Iím shooting at (in the upper left corner of the screen)? Hasnít done anything besides standing around since he was built.

07-20-2008, 02:13 AM
It’s a little hard to see here, but both of the Tactical Squads next to the Necron Lord? Have had their morale broken by the Flayed Ones’ fear aura.

Flayed Ones suck.

Thankfully, despite crushing the morale of all my Tactical Squads, my bolter turret kept the Flayed Ones in check long enough for my Force Commander to show up and cut them to pieces.

Of course, the AI wasn’t done yet. This charmer here is a Wrath, and the fact that he’s translucent means that he’s ‘phased out’ and invulnerable to damage. While they can’t capture strategic points, Wraiths can return them to neutral, and they dish out a ridiculous amount of melee damage. Only the sheer volume of firepower I could dish out at this point allowed me to take out the AI’s wraiths before they could decap any of the strategic points I'd taken.

Here we see the Necron Lord finally attacking one of my structures. Typically, he starts doing this far, far earlier in the game, when it could actually make a difference.

In about a minute, it’ll all be over.

...despite some of the Necrons’ units getting back up, including this wraith. This is one of the charming things about playing against the Necrons – you never know when they’re actually going to stay dead. I have to assume that this mechanic was added to compensate for the fact that they only ever get one build queue (as well as to emulate how they work in the tabletop game).

Thankfully, the AI’s many blunders and my ruthless exploitation of them mean that the occasional unit rising from its grave makes no difference at all.

I should point out that this is not a typical game vs. the Necrons, as the AI is usually much smarter than this, and thus tends to ruin you with coordinated Necron Lord/Necron Warrior/Flayed One attacks. And that's assuming that they don't hit you with Tomb Spyders, which restore dead troops once they're out of combat.

Also, if the Necrons tech up all the way, the final stage of the Monolith levitates, moves and starts shooting gauss beams.

You'll typically never see that happen in 1v1 Skirmish, though, because as always, the game is over before then.

07-21-2008, 11:51 PM
So. I've got a very educational game where I lose against an Insane AI playing Eldar in the can (I'm not kidding - I learned a lot from watching the replay), and I'll be writing that one up once I can muster the energy to grab all the screenshots it will require. I also haven't played as Tau yet, and Nunix's request for unit descriptions implied a thoroughness that I haven't yet achieved.

I guess what I'm asking here is, when do we know that this Let's Play is complete? Do we want me to play at least one game as each faction? (I still haven't played as Guard, Eldar, Tau, or Necrons.) Do we want to have at least one game with each faction in it, along with my unit breakdowns for each faction?

What say you, Talking Tyrants?

Ample Vigour
07-22-2008, 12:28 AM
Do we want me to play at least one game as each faction? (I still haven't played as Guard, Eldar, Tau, or Necrons.)

Yes. The myriad combinations of armies sounds like something that would invite burnout, and I think seeing the game from each army's perspective would be illuminating.

Good LP, by the way. I've always wanted to see how DoW played, and hey: it's pretty cool.

07-22-2008, 03:13 AM
I'd say you play at least one game as each faction, preferably with as good a faction/unit breakdown as you can provide. I'm really taking this LP as an educational experience in a way most aren't, and quite enjoying it.

07-22-2008, 08:41 PM
Does Dark Crusade include dark eldar, or is that the next one (Soulstorm?). 'cause I love me some dark lances...

This thread has inspired me, though I'm not sure if it's to try out my rommate's copy of the game, or set back at yet another futile painting run on the 5000 pts. of dark eldar sitting on the bookshelf next to me...

07-22-2008, 11:12 PM
Does Dark Crusade include dark eldar, or is that the next one (Soulstorm?). 'cause I love me some dark lances...

The Dark Eldar are in Soulstorm. The popular consensus is that Soulstorm is poorly tuned, and Iron Lore (who made the expansion for Relic) went under early this year.

It's been kind of a long day, so I'm going to punt on capturing and uploading images of my savage defeat at the hands of the Eldar until tomorrow. Instead, you'll be getting a unit breakdown for another of the core (non-expansion) factions in a little bit.

07-23-2008, 01:07 AM
So I was going to do a rundown on the Eldar, before a quick glance at the Relic wiki made it clear to me that I had no bloody clue about how the Eldar really worked. So you get Chaos instead, as most of their low-end units are close enough to Space Marines that I'm unlikely to make any terribly egregious errors.

Also, I've added the in-game unit icons to this post and my earlier Space Marine unit breakdown, so you'll have a slightly better idea of what units look like while I yammer on about them.

This creepy fellow here with the giant fishhook stuck through his head is Chaos' builder unit. Heretics are less efficient than most other builders by default, but you can use the Forced Labor ability to make them build super-fast at the price of their health, which decreases precipitously.

Cultist Squad
Cultists are like the Scout Marine Squad, except there are more of them to start with (4), you can collect more of them (10), and they totally, utterly, suck at everything other than capturing strategic points and dying in the name of the Ruinous Powers. Oh, and they take up as many CP as a Chaos Marine squad.

Aside from acting as meat shields for your real units, if you buy two upgrades, Cultists can infiltrate (i.e. be stealthy) and detect stealth, which gives them some mid-to-late game use as scouts. Also, you can reinforce them with an Aspiring Champion, which is mostly useful because you can then maneuver them behind your enemy's base before transforming the Champion into a Bloodthirster... but if you have to money to pull those kinds of shennanigans, why haven't you won already?

Chaos Space Marine
Like Space Marines, but with 15 less health each and with horns on their helmets! Oh, and a higher squad cap (10 vs. 8), less heavy weapons options (no flamers or missile launchers), and a more aggressive squad leader (the Aspiring Champion). Instead of rallying broken squads, the Aspiring Champion has the Berserk Fury ability, which boosts the squad's damage output a lot, increases damage sustained (a little), and reduces morale damage taken (by 50%) for 10 seconds. Obviously, Chaos favors the aggressive approach.

Like Assault Marines, but easier to produce, and with a lot less morale (300 vs. 450). Oh, and instead of having two jumps worth of fuel in their jump pack before needing to recharge, they only have one. By the numbers, Raptors just aren't as good as Assault Marines. Which is why they cost 2 CP to the Assault Marines' 3.

That said, the fact that you don't have to build the (Chaos) Armory before producing them makes them perfect for maps like Absolute Zero. Plus, as Chaos is wont to do, they deal more damage with their chainswords than Assault Marines do, at least before the Assault Marines are upgraded. If you reinforce them with an Aspiring Champion, you can really do some damage. Oh, and you can buy them Flamers, as well as an upgrade that gives them a temporary speed boost. Yawn.

Khorne Berzerkers
Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!

If the Raptor squad didn't deal enough melee damage for you, Khorne has the answer. The Khorne Berzerkers are immune to morale damage, deal a hideous amount of melee damage, and only cost slightly more Power (that is to say, any) than a Chaos Marine squad. You have to have upgraded to a Desecrated Fortress and constructed a Sacrificial Circle to build these guys, but if you can spare the 3 CP they cost, they're a pretty good deal.

Oh, and if you upgrade to Tier 3, you can buy an ability for them that lets them deal some sickening amount of morale damage to nearby infantry units and make them run away. Which would be more exciting if that last sentence didn't include the clause 'upgrade to Tier 3'.

Horror Squad
Horrors are giant gaping demonic mouths that have arms and legs attached. Which is pretty horrific! Also, they kill vehicles good, and are useless against anything that is not a vehicle. Oh, and you can deploy them to the field by teleportation! And you need a Sacrificial Circle to build them.

I believe that more or less covers Horrors.

Chaos Lord
The Force Commander, but evil. Oh, and he's cheaper and deals more damage, but doesn't upgrade as well. The Relic Wiki claims that he's better than the Force Commander early-game, but I'm skeptical, as Commanders tend to be useful in direct proportion to how hard they are to kill. (The Tau Commander is an exception.) His Tainted Auspex power is pretty keen, though, as it lets you place an object that detects stealth and lets you keep the shroud cleared in that area of the map.

You'll clearly want to build a Chaos Lord - at least in the absence of some weird exploitative build order like my Raptor rush - but he's nothing to write home about.

Chaos Sorcerer
In the hands of a player who can micro-manage their units and use powers deftly, the Chaos Sorcerer is great - he can teleport, lock down opposing units, and otherwise cause havoc, making him worth buying the instant you have a Desecrated Fortress. I am not that player, and I deem the Chaos Sorcerer too fiddly to be useful. YMMV.

07-23-2008, 01:17 AM
Chaos Rhino
If this unit was actually a demonic rhinoceros, it would probably be more useful. As it is, you can get tricky with the smoke screen upgrade (which halves ranged damage in the affected area) and Khorne Berzerkers (which deal, uh, melee damage), but most of the time you're probably better off spending your money on combat units instead of trying to be clever.

...point in case. The Defiler is mediocre at every vehicle role (artillery, close support, vehicle/structure killing), but that means it can fill whatever role you want it to. As long as you get your Machine pit up and running before your opponent can build vehicles, your Defilers should be able to help finish them off before their supposedly superior units show up.

Chaos Predator
Like pretty much every other Chaos unit with the 'Chaos' prefix, it's exactly like the equivalent Space Marine unit, except with more spikes. You can build the Chaos Predator without teching up to Tier 3 first, though, which is a pretty huge advantage. If you've got the extra power, it's worth building Chaos Predators instead of Defilers, both because they're faster and because you can upgrade their weapons to make them even more horrific on the field of battle.

07-23-2008, 11:43 PM
At long last, it's the show youíve all been waiting for: Me getting my ass kicked by an Insane AI! And just to make it extra embarrassing, Iím going to lose to Space Elves.

I suppose I should be glad that Games Workshop retconned the Squats out of existence or had the Inquisition virus-bomb their planets or something. Because the only opponent more embarrassing to lose to than a space elf... would be a space dwarf.

Map: Fear
Space Marines vs. Space Elves! Uh, I mean Eldar.

Hey, look, resource cheats! The AI has already spent about 80 Power, and it still has 200 left, while a human player starts with 100 Power and about half as much Requisition. An Insane AI can afford to spam units and tech structures, if itís so inclined.

First contact is my reinforced Tactical Squad facing off against a Guardian Squad with a Warlock leader. Eldar can reinforce their guardian squads with Warlocks right off the bat, as compared to all the other factions in the game, which either need to tech up, build their squad leaders separately (Guard), or just donít have them (Necrons).

While my Tac squad chase off the Guardians, another Guardian Squad is murdering the Scout Marine Squad I sent to capture the two Strategic Points on the S-shaped mountain path that runs through the center of the map. I donít think I was paying attention, because the Scout Marines go down without a fight.

My Tactical Squad pursue the remaining Guardians through the edge of my base and across the mountain to the site of my Scout Marinesí demise, where they finish them off before disrupting the second Guardian squadís capture attempt. The arrival of some Howling Banshees (Eldar melee specialists) is trumped by the arrival of my Force Commander.

Here we see my main force assaulting an upgraded Listening Shrine. It takes me a long time to take it down, because the morale on my Tactical Squads keeps dropping for no discernable reason.

Here, as the Shrine dies, we see the reason: An infiltrated Ranger squad. Eldar Rangers are equipped with slow-firing sniper rifles that just ruin infantry, and shatter morale. And because theyíre infiltrated, I canít see them unless I build Skull Probes.

Needless to say, I retreat, regroup, and reinforce my squads with a Skull Probe so I can hunt and kill those damn sneaky Rangers.

Unfortunately, when I show up, the Rangers have wandered off. Instead, I have to face an Eldar Harlequin. Harlequins, mind you, are harmless clowns wearing masks and goofy clothing. Unless theyíre space elves, of course, in which all of the above is true, and they will carve through your infantry like a hot knife through butter, knocking people down, interrupting attacks, and generally making such a nuisance of themselves that they canít be ignored.

This one isnít even upgraded. Much, anyway.

Meanwhile, a Howling Banshee squad is hammering away at one of my upgraded Listening Posts, reinforcing itself as its members die, proving that even on Insane, the AI in Dawn of War isnít the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Having disposed of that #$%! Harlequin, I proceed into the AIís base and start exterminating its Bonesingers. Here you can see my Force Commander and Tactical Squad railing on a partially finished Support Portal (the Eldar Vehicle production structure). Things are looking up!

Unfortunately, this was my high-water mark. Everything went downhill from here.

07-23-2008, 11:49 PM
Oh, look, a Farseer. That shouldnít be too hard to deal with...

...unless itís followed up by another filthy infantry-slaughtering Harlequin, of course...

...and only a sadist would follow that up by bringing their Howling Banshees home from their futile attempts to kill my listening post. But Iím sure nothing else can go wrong.

Okay, the AI turning all of its structures invisible is a bit of a setback. But surely I can kill those Howling Banshees before the AI pops out another unit, right?

Iím pretty sure that pumping out a continuous stream of Harlequins is supposed to be a little harder than this. Oh, right, 40% resource cheat.

So, right here? This is where I lose the game. While my units are distracted by the never-ending Harlequin cabaret, the AI sneaks out a Bonesinger and completes its Support Portal. As youíll see in a moment, this was decisive.

Oh, and the completed Support Portal went invisible too. Just to add insult to injury and ensure that I would have no chance of stopping the AI even if I did manage to fight off the never-ending stream of knife-wielding maniacs it was sending at me.

If I hadnít been playing versus an Insane AI, this tactical retreat might have done something other than prolong the game. Sadly...

Oh, hey, itís a Wraithlord! ~3000 health, vehicle armor (which reduces incoming damage from bolters to almost nothing), and 540-660 melee damage. Plus flamethrowers.

Did I mention that when the AI completed its Support Portal was when I lost the game?

The smears on the ground? Space Marines. The unit with the two yellow boxes under its health bar? Farseer.

And yes, those are two Wraithlords. How very perceptive of you to notice!

07-23-2008, 11:53 PM
These guys are Warp Spiders. In the event that two Wraithlords and a Farseer arenít enough to stomp me flat, the AI can spam these charmers and hit my poor Space Marines for ~100 damage per shot.

For reference, Space Marine Bolters deal about ~20 damage per shot. I am fucked.

Remember when I mentioned that Wraithlords have flamethrowers? Apparently the Farseer wanted her Assault Marine steak well-done.

In the two minutes between this screenshot and the last, Iíve killed the Farseer and one Wraithlord, and have almost taken out the second one. Unfortunately, the AI can pump out new Wraithlords as quickly as my Grey Knights and Missile-armed Tac squads can kill them.

Having decided that vehicle superiority was insufficient, the AI has been spamming Warp Spiders. Those smears on the ground are the remains of my once-proud army.

The game drags on for a few minutes more, but the outcome?

Is never in doubt.


As decisive and one-sided as the endgame was, I think I actually could have won this one if Iíd played slightly differently and done better at force projection. There was a 2-3 minute period in the mid-game where the AI was only holding me off by spamming Harlequins and Farseers, which werenít doing that much damage before my army killed them and got back to smashing the Support Portal.

If instead of sending my Assault Marine squad to capture the Critical Location in the west, Iíd brought them in to off the Howling Banshees, I suspect that I couldíve killed the Bonesinger that finished the Support Portal, even if Iíd lost a couple of squad members to the Harlequin while doing so. Without the Support Portal, the AI wouldíve had to keep on spamming infantry, which wouldíve been manageable if Iíd built a forward production structure.

Note that I donít think I would have won the game even if Iíd realized exactly what was going on Ė my micromanagement skills are not that great at the best of times, and I was starved for cash throughout, so itís quite possible that trying to build a forward production structure wouldíve bankrupted me just as I needed to reinforce a dying unit. But it certainly felt as if the game was actually close for a while there, which prompted me to play against another Insane AI, this time as the Tau. The Tau are much less fair than the Space Marines, I reasoned. How could I possibly lose?

The AI spammed Guardian squads, reinforced them to full capacity, and killed me in 5 minutes. Apparently the only reason I had a chance in the Space Marine game was because the AI dumped most of its early resource advantage into teching up.

So, yeah; that was pretty humbling. Next time, I play as Tau. And win.

07-27-2008, 02:10 PM
The Tau are basically an anime-derived race with tons of mechs (which look surprisingly boxy and silly as miniatures in the tabletop game) and high-tech battle suits, who unlike pretty much everyone else in the Warhammer 40K universe, are actually semi-altruistic. Their society is built around the ideal of serving the Greater Good, which, given that this is still Warhammer, can usually be achieved by blowing some poor sap's face off with a plasma round.

Earth Caste Builder
Oh, look, it’s the Servitor. Except less creepy, and it flies.

*yawn* Next.

XV15 Stealth Team
Tau default infantry. A squad starts with one member, and is infiltrated by default. Against most factions, this is awesome. Eldar and Chaos are the exception, since they get stealth detectors easily and early. Also, if you buy the Jump Packs upgrade, you can jump your stealth teams from one strategic point up and down cliffs to the next, which means that you'll typically get to resource points before your opponents, which they won't be able to do anything about, because they can't see you.

I probably shouldn’t have to say this, but stealth teams are awesome.

Vespid Stingwing Strain
Vespids build from the Cadre Headquarters (the Tau HQ building, which unlike the HQ of other factions, never gets upgraded), and can’t capture strategic points. You might think that this would make them suck, but you would be wrong.

Vespids are awesome for two reasons. The first is that they, like the Stealth Team and the Tau Commander, benefit from the jump packs upgrade, giving them significant mobility. The second is that they have the Destabilization ability, which deals 200 damage to buildings over 10 seconds and makes them take 50% more damage for those 10 seconds. This makes Vespids great units for early and mid-game harassment, as well as great supporting units for a final push into the enemy’s base. Oh, and their melee attack is great vs. buildings, making them ideal for taking down enemy listening posts.

Fire Warrior Team
Fire warriors are the backbone of the Tau’s combat forces. They’re complete rubbish in melee combat, but if you can get them set up and firing while your other units (typically Kroot Carnivores) keep the enemy pinned down, they’ll tear anyone else’s standard infantry units apart. Also, the huge range on their weapons means that as long as you have someone else spotting for them, they’re going to get off a bunch of attacks on anyone foolish enough to try to close with them. Just don’t let them get stuck in melee.

Kroot Carnivores
Unless you’re taking on a particularly fragile faction, like the Eldar, Kroot are basically just meat shields for your Fire Warriors. They do very well at that job, though, so you always want a squad or two of Kroot around to soak up hits and tie down opposing melee units.

As an aside, it's kind of horrible that the Kroot's usual contribution to the Greater Good is to die so their Tau masters can live. I'm sure there's some kind of parallel to colonialism in there if you look for it.

Pathfinder Team
I should probably use Pathfinder teams more than I do, but they’re kind of fiddly, and by now you should be aware of my opinion on fiddly units. They detect stealth, have a really long vision range, and can mark targets so other ranged units will do more damage to them. Probably great if used right, but with the Tau, I tend to prefer brute force to finesse.

XV88 Broadside Battlesuit
Aw, yeah. Broadside Battlesuits are slow, lumbering engines of destruction. They don’t take morale damage, and when you deploy them, they rip vehicles and buildings to shreds with their rail guns. Oh, and they aren’t vehicles, so you don’t have to build a Vehicle Beacon to build them. If only they weren’t so darn expensive and slow to build, I’d get to use them more often.

Tau Commander
The Tau Commander is probably the single best argument for Tau being overpowered. If you buy the Jump packs upgrade, he becomes highly maneuverable, and with the Flamer upgrade, he can single-handedly break and kill enemy infantry squads if you take the time to move him into Flamer range. Yes, you have to micro him, and yes, I don’t usually like micro-intensive units. The thing is, the Tau Commander really is that good. The only drawback to him is that every upgrade except the jump jets is unit-specific, so the Flamer and any other weapons you buy for him (he can get missile packs and two primary weapon upgrades) will be lost if he dies. Which he shouldn't, unless things go terribly wrong.

Oh, and the Tau Commander can’t attach himself to units. Which is good, since doing that would be a grotesque waste.

07-27-2008, 02:12 PM
...which is why every Tau vehicle portrait looks exactly the same.

Devilfish Troop Carrier
Hey, look, a troop transport with a purpose! Which, in this case, is being a stealthed vehicle with decent guns. Also, I suppose you can use the Devilfish to reposition your Fire Warriors when people get close to them if youíre not willing to use Kroot to hold the line.

I donít really use the Devilfish very much, but the fact that itís infiltrated by default suggests that it might actually be good, unlike the rest of the gameís troop transports.

Skyray Missile Gunship
The Skyray is great versus vehicles, infantry, and structures, as long as you can keep it out of combat. Its missiles arenít super-accurate, but it can pump out a lot of damage, and will throw infantry all over the place, so itís well worth using if the game goes that long. Their Missile Barrage ability is typically the second thing I research at the Path to Enlightenment, after Advanced Pulse Rifles (which buffs the damage output on Fire Warriors).

Drone Harbinger
To make the Drone Harbinger work, you really have to build up a different kind of economy than the kind I prefer. For 30 Power, you can pump out a Gun Drone with a 40 second lifespan that deals as much damage as the Harbinger itself. This means that to use the Harbinger effectively, you need a truly silly number of power plants, or else huge reserves of Power.

Iím not saying that it wouldnít be effective, but Iíd honestly rather build my economy around Requisition and overwhelm the enemy with Fire Warriors, Battlesuits, and Skyray Missile Gunships.

All in all, Tau are a tad micromanagement heavy, but the advantages of their specialized units outweigh the disadvantages. The fact that all of their units are expensive is an insufficient compensation for the edge that having an infiltrated default infantry unit provides them.

07-27-2008, 02:25 PM
I got a lot of use out of devilfish when I played. They're insanely cheap, so while they dropped pretty quickly to anything that could target them, they were worth it.

And yeah, I really wish broadsides were more useful.

07-27-2008, 02:35 PM
I got a lot of use out of devilfish when I played. They're insanely cheap, so while they dropped pretty quickly to anything that could target them, they were worth it.

And yeah, I really wish broadsides were more useful.

I'll have to try out the devilfish sometime, then. I tend to rush straight to Skyrays, so I'm not even sure if I've ever produced one.

Ample Vigour
07-27-2008, 02:48 PM
This brings back memories of Fire Warrior for PS2 (a deeply flawed but really enjoyable game.)


07-27-2008, 09:27 PM
I rather like the boxy look. It reminds me of ancient Chinese soldiers (which was one of the sources for the look, apparently).

It should be noted, however, that the source material implies that not everything in the T'au empire is as it seems. The Ethereals (which you don't mention, though I can't blame you) control the society, and they seem to have some sort of control over the T'au. It adds some of the requisite 40k darkness to the race, anyway.

07-27-2008, 10:43 PM
I rather like the boxy look. It reminds me of ancient Chinese soldiers (which was one of the sources for the look, apparently).

Clarify? I'm really into Qin Dynasty & Three Kingdoms-era Chinese history (and not just as filtered through the Dynasty Warriors/Tactics games), and I'm having a hard time seeing the resemblance. I'm not saying it's not there, mind you.

It should be noted, however, that the source material implies that not everything in the T'au empire is as it seems. The Ethereals (which you don't mention, though I can't blame you) control the society, and they seem to have some sort of control over the T'au. It adds some of the requisite 40k darkness to the race, anyway.

Heh, yeah, there was something on the 40K site that implied that the Imperium theorized that the Ethereals might be controlling the other castes via pheromones or some other method of mass social/mind control. More or less what you'd expect from the Imperium's analysts, of course, but not something to dismiss out of hand.

As for Ethereals in-game, I think the only time I've ever seen one was in a cut-scene when I attacked the Tau capital in the Dark Crusade campaign. About 30 seconds after that, twenty gazillion Fire Warriors and Broadside Battlesuits descended on my base and blew it to smithereens.

There's a reason I'm not trying to play through that campaign.

07-28-2008, 01:49 AM
Map: Quest’s Triumph
Tau vs. Eldar (Very Hard)

I played vs. an AI with a 20% resource cheat on this one, just because I could. Also, Quest’s Triumph is one of my favorite maps, although it’s probably not all that fair – there’s only one way into each player’s base, barring jump troops, which means that it’s easy to defend your base and just as easy to lock a player in their starting area.

I start with a Stealthsuit x2, Earth Caste Builder, Jump Packs build order, and have my builders create a Tau Barracks. While the Barracks builds a Tau Commander, I shift the builders over to a power generator.

Here we see my first Stealthsuit using his jump pack to leap downhill to the next strategic point. The combination of jump packs and automatic infiltration makes Stealthsuits absolutely ridiculous in the early game.

Unfortunately, I’m playing vs. Eldar, and the AI’s resource cheats mean that it can afford to spam Warlock officers into all of its Guardian Squads. Here we see a Warlock-equipped squad shooting the snot out of my stealthsuit.

Thankfully, my Tau Commander shows up to distract the Eldar just as my Stealthsuit is about to eat it, and I take the strategic point. The AI is really bad at prioritizing targets in this kind of situation, which is probably for the best - it'd probably be impossible for anyone to beat an Insane AI if it killed off your capture units more consistently (instead of just impossible for me).

Once I’ve taken all of the strategic points on my starting plateau, I jump my second stealthsuit down the cliff. I should have taken the strategic point at the cliff’s foot, but I didn’t quite click in the right place and was busy micromanaging my Tau Commander, so instead my stealthsuit sat on his ass for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, my Tau Commander was holding off two Guardian Squads, which took quite a chunk out of his health. The nearer of my two stealthsuits came over to help, and ate it for his trouble. (He was supposed to be capturing the Imperial Relic, but he wasn’t on Hold Ground stance, so he hared off and got himself killed.) Even with the Flamer upgrade, I had to jump my Commander out of danger.

Of course, the tactical retreat allowed him to link up with a squad of Fire Warriors, and soon enough he was back in the thick of it again, shattering the enemy’s morale while the Fire Warriors cleaned house.

My second stealthsuit had finally captured the strategic point at the bottom of the cliff, so I sent him to capture the critical location in the center of the map. I saw a Guardian squad moving as if it too was headed for the critical location, so I sent my Commander and Fire Warriors in to distract them. The distraction worked a little too well, as I caught the attention of one more Guardian Squad than I’d bargained for.

Things weren’t going so well at first, as the concentrated fire took down 3 of my Fire Warriors, but then I moved my Tau Commander into a position where he could train his Flamer on both Guardian Squads, and soon the tables were turned. Broken and bleeding, the Eldar ran for their lives.

This is a shot of the critical location up the hill from the Imperial Relic that was in the corner of the last picture. The Eldar have 3 Guardian Squads here, one of them fully reinforced, but unless they all counterattack at once, the position that my Tau Commander and the two Fire Warrior Teams have taken up means that the Guardians will get butchered before they even get into range. The sparkly blue explosions near the top of the screen are my troops firing on the Eldar listening post.

The AI counterattacks, but with one squad at a time instead of sending all of them together. This carnage was the inevitable result.

07-28-2008, 01:51 AM
At this point, I build my first Kroot squad. I usually build Kroot earlier, but the Eldar arenít long on melee combatants other than Howling Banshees, at least at this stage in the game, and I havenít seen any Banshees yet. Still, better safe than sorry. Itís always good to have some Kroot around when youíre playing Tau.

My Fire Warriors were doing a good job of cutting off the AI from the left side of the map, but that just meant that the right side was open. When the AI made a play for the right side, I sent my Fire Warriors after his guardians, and got pincered between two squads for my efforts. Thankfully, my Tau Commander was there to save the day.

My Kroot showing up to butcher the Guardians in close combat didnít hurt either.

Hey, look, Vespids! Like Kroot, I usually build these guys earlier, but because I was trying to show off with the Tau Commander and cut off the AI from both the left and right sides of the map, I focused on Fire Warriors so I could cut down their Guardians. These guys will make short work of the Listening Post the Eldar rebuilt in my absence, though.

At this point Iíve got 3 fully reinforced Fire Warrior Teams, 1 fully reinforced Kroot Carnivore squad, and 1 fully reinforced Vespid Stingwing Strain, in addition to the Tau Commander. I set the Kroot to capturing the Imperial Relic that used to be capped by the listening post, and send my Fire Warriors, Vespids, and Tau Commander to kill the listening post at the foot of the ramp to the Eldar base. If I see any Howling Banshees, I can always call in the Kroot to back up my Fire Warriors.

Itís a little hard to see here, but the AI actually was building Howling Banshees, along with the squad of Rangers sitting next to the listening post. Thankfully Vespids detect stealth, so my Fire Warriors make short work of the Rangers before moving on to the Banshees. A couple of my Vespids die, but the Banshees are cut down by rifle fire before they can kill anyone else.

Once the listening post (and everyone around it) is dead, I move my army up to capture the strategic point. A guardian squad that escaped my previous sweeps tries to interrupt me, but dissolves under the concentrated fire of my army. The Eldar are locked into their base for the rest of the game.

Amusingly, the Eldar keep trying to run Bonesingers past my waiting force. Iím not sure why it expects this to work, as they dissolve into a puddle of gore pretty much the instant my Fire Warriors can see them.

Eventually, a Farseer, a Guardian squad, and some Howling Banshees show up to protest my tenancy on their doorstep. The Tau Commander informs them that our presence serves the Greater Good, and that all complaints should be addressed to his pulse rifle.

My infantry command point cap has risen to 15, which shows that Iíve completed my Path to Enlightenment (the Tau upgrade structure, which also grants access to Tier 2 units). I start researching Advanced Pulse Rifles and Feral Leap (a Kroot upgrade that makes them really good at holding off melee attackers). I also start building a Vehicle Beacon right in front of the Eldar Base. Itís for the Greater Good! I promise.

(Actually, like a lot of the things Iím doing in this game, Iím building the Vehicle Beacon here just because I can. It wouldíve been really conveniently placed if the AI had put up a better fight, though.)

07-28-2008, 01:57 AM
Here I am in the AIís base, killing his dudes. And his barracks. And whatever else I can see, given that the AIís cloaked its buildings and my Vespids are hanging out in the back of my army for some reason.

I could be attacking the Eldarís HQ here, but I prefer to take out (armed) listening posts and turrets first, unless the HQ building is almost dead. If you leave turrets alone for long enough, they can break the morale of your attackers, giving the AI extra time that it doesnít deserve.

Meanwhile, back at home, Iím building the Montíka Command Post. The Tau have two incompatible buildings that they build to gain access to tier 3 units Ė the Montíka and Kauyon Command Posts. Kauyon is the path of the Patient Hunter, and gives you access to advanced Kroot units, while Montíka is the path of the Killing Blow, and gives you access to Crisis Battlesuits and hover tanks. Iíve already won, but if things went on long enough, Iíd vastly prefer hover tanks and the like to engaging in shenanigans with weird Kroot monsters.

My conveniently placed Vehicle Beacon has just kicked out my first Skyray Gunship. And Iím building a Kroot Shaping Center at the base of the AIís ramp too, just to add insult to injury.

Depressingly, the last thing I have to kill isnít the Eldar HQ, but a Webway Gate. Apparently those count as unit production structures? Or something?

Anyway, the Greater Good has prevailed! Which means that after exercising their right of Eminent Domain, the Tau can turn what used to be the Eldar base into a parking lot. Or a commune. Possibly even a communal parking lot!

07-28-2008, 09:28 AM
I wish I had more info, but my source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tau_%28Warhammer_40%2C000%29#Model_design) cites a White Dwarf issue as it's source to that, which I can't really get my hands on.

Also, the Tau headquarters mission is probably the most compelling reason to play as the Tau in the campaign mode. I found the Necron mission easier, and they threw the Nightbringer at you at the end.

07-28-2008, 09:09 PM
Also, the Tau headquarters mission is probably the most compelling reason to play as the Tau in the campaign mode. I found the Necron mission easier, and they threw the Nightbringer at you at the end.

...and the Tau HQ is still worse? Gah.

I found the Chaos and Imperial Guard headquarters missions doable (even though the Imperial Guard kept throwing Vindicare assassins at me and taking out my commanders) and I never tried the Ork or Eldar ones. But the Tau and Necron ones both annihilated me every time I tried.

07-28-2008, 09:27 PM
I'll probably be playing as Imperial Guard next, so here's their unit rundown:

Techpriest Enginseer
Finally, an interesting builder unit! Techpriests are actually great. While the Guard is limited to having 3 of them around at a time, they’re immune to morale damage, and pack a lasgun, in exchange for being slower than other builder units. You don’t really want to throw them into combat on their own, but they can provide fire support and man the garrison weapons on Guard structures.

Imperial Guardsmen
Guardsmen are the bread and butter of a Guard army, at least in 1v1, because, well, the game should be over before you unlock upper-tier infantry like Kaskrin or Ogryns. You can build Guardsmen from both the Field Command (Guard HQ building) and the Infantry Command (Guard barracks building), so there’s pretty much no excuse not have 5+ squads of Guardsmen on the field at all times after the early game.

Also, the fact that Guardsmen have their combat ability change significantly based on what commander they have attached and what upgrades their controller has purchased makes it really hard to play against the Imperial Guard and know what's going on unless you're paying close attention. One minute, you can smear any Guardsmen you encounter across the floor, and the next they're gunning down everything you throw at them, just because a tiny dude with a chainsaw attached himself to them. This is a pretty big readability problem that (at least as far as I can tell) Relic never really made any effort to address.

Heavy Weapons Team
The Heavy Weapons Team is a bit of a resource hog, as well as being a micro-heavy unit, (in that it’s all but useless until you deploy it). But as long as you can get it into a strategic position, its heavy bolter will rain down death on enemy infantry. I tend not to use them very often, as I’m not terribly good at micro and multitasking, but when you need to hold a choke point or set up a base of fire right now instead of waiting for a Techpriest to build a Heavy Bolter Turret, the Heavy Weapons Team is your best bet.

Command Squad
The Imperial Guard is different from pretty much every other faction in that their primary commander unit is actually a squad. When you build the Command Squad, it only contains the Imperial General, but you can reinforce it with up to 2 other squad members, choosing from the Guard’s list of secondary commanders: the Commissar, the Psyker, and the Priest. I tend to go General + Commissar + Priest, and build the Psyker only when I need a detector or after I’ve bought the Uncommon Valor upgrade, which increases the Squad Cap on the Command Squad to 5, but there’s a legitimate argument to be made for Psyker or all-Priest builds.

Also, the Command Squad gets the Strafing Run ability after you upgrade your Field Command to a Regimental Command, which is kind of like the Force Commander’s Orbital Bombardment, but easier to get.

Ah, Commissars. The cheapest and most efficient of the Guard’s secondary commanders. You only get 3 of them at a time, and the Priest outclasses them in most ways, but you need them around to make your Guardsmen Squads more than easily broken cannon fodder. Commissars buff maximum squad morale by 200 and increase health regeneration. They also have a fairly good melee attack with their chainsword, and squads led by Commissars can be used to tie up ranged specialists (though not as well as squads that are led by a priest).

Also, once you’ve upgraded to a Battle Command, the Commissar can execute one of his own squad members to ‘rally’ them and nearby squads, restoring morale and boosting the maximum damage of their lasguns. Which is super effective, if appropriately creepy.

As an aside, both of my favorite 40K novel series are partially about Imperial Guard Commissars. The Gaunt's Ghosts books start out slow, but they pick up around Necropolis, and by the time you get to Traitor General, The Armour of Contempt, and Only in Death, they're on par with or superior to almost any non-gaming SF novels you could name - Only in Death could well be the best ghost story I've ever read.

Less technically superb, but still a lot of fun, are Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain books. Cain is a pastiche of George MacDonald Fraser's Harry Flashman in the 40K universe, and again, by the later books in the series, his work goes from merely serviceable to actively good. Death or Glory is really quite elegant, and the omnibus of the first three novels is a good deal for anyone who wants an amusing introduction to the 40K world.

Anyway. On with the analysis.

Blech. Psykers are fine in the Command Squad if you don’t mind microing their abilities, but researching the ability to make more has always seemed like a waste of time to me. They can be attached to squads as leaders, but they provide no bonuses, effectively rendering the guardsmen into meat shields. Only worth it if your opponent is tossing lots of infiltrated units at you, since Psykers are the Guard’s only real stealth detectors.

Priests are the best secondary commander available to the Guard, providing major speed and damage boosts to their squad and dealing a significant amount of damage on their own with their eviscerator chainsaw/sword. While they don’t buff morale as well as the Commissar, they provide a valuable health boost, and their damage boost stacks with that generated by the Commissar’s Execute command. Assuming the game goes long enough, Priests also get the Fanaticism ability once you build a Regimental Command, which allows them to rally their squad and make it immune to damage (morale or otherwise) for 10 seconds. It’s well worth unlocking them as soon as you can spare the resources.

Another crappy transport unit. Apparently the Chimera actually has weapons, with more weapons being activated as it carries more troops, but I’m still underwhelmed, especially as the Imperial Guard can transport troops from building to building using a tunnel network. Apparently Chimerae can be used to good effect with Ogryns, but Ogryns can’t be built until after you build a Regimental Command. Avoid, unless you’re playing on a map designed for more than 2 players.

Once you get past the Chimera, pretty much all the Guard’s vehicles are actually useful. Sentinels can decap (but not capture) strategic points, so they’re ideal for taking out an enemy listening post and taking away control of a point, then leaving before the enemy shows up. They’re also solid anti-vehicle units, and though they’re worse vs. vehicles than a Heavy Weapons Team with the Lascannon upgrade, they’re also a lot more flexible than a specialized anti-vehicle Heavy Weapons Team. Best used for harassment or kiting slower moving enemy vehicles like the Dreadnought and Defiler.

Despite my affection for the Sentinel, I tend to build Hellhounds instead. Their weapon ruins enemy morale, and is more accurate on the move than that of almost every other unit in the game. Also, if you have vehicle superiority (i.e. you can build vehicles and the other guy can’t), Hellhounds can help you keep things that way by butchering your opponents’ infantry forces and ruining their economy, since they’re almost as good versus structures as Sentinels are. They aren’t so great in the endgame, but if the game goes on that long, you should be building Leman Russ Tanks and Baneblades anyway.

07-28-2008, 09:51 PM
Yay, the Imperial Guard. Thousands of pointy flashlight beams will incinerate you!

Fun fact: when I was playing vanilla DoW story mode and got to the mission where I was given a couple squads of guardsmen, I saw the red beams and thought they were targeting pointers. But, as I kept playing, I noticed something: I never saw what they were actually shooting. I kept zooming in to see the real bullets, but I never saw any, and I thought it was a bug.

Maybe you could try playing a longer game sometime soon? I don't think you've gotten to tier 3 once yet, and you've barely scratched tier 2 in most of your games. Maybe you could get a nice little 4-player free-for-all going or something. I don't know how feasible that would be with hard/very hard AI, though - I have a sneaking suspicion you'd just get tripled two minutes in.

07-28-2008, 10:15 PM
Maybe you could try playing a longer game sometime soon? I don't think you've gotten to tier 3 once yet, and you've barely scratched tier 2 in most of your games. Maybe you could get a nice little 4-player free-for-all going or something. I don't know how feasible that would be with hard/very hard AI, though - I have a sneaking suspicion you'd just get tripled two minutes in.

The AIs in Dark Crusade are actually pretty good about killing each other rather than killing you - I did 4-player free for all a while back where I fought off the Eldar early, then turned around to kill the Tau, and when I went to finish off the Eldar, Chaos had already crushed them. So I can definitely do a 4-player free-for-all as either my finale or as bonus content once I've finished with one game per faction.

07-30-2008, 01:27 AM
The Dark Eldar are in Soulstorm. The popular consensus is that Soulstorm is poorly tuned, and Iron Lore (who made the expansion for Relic) went under early this year.Did they made the HQ as good and the vehicles as cheep as they are table top? I could see some serious balance problems there... (fully ramped up Archon I'll take over anything else in the game save Necrons with phase scythes. I've cut through Wrathlords like they weren't even there, never mind the Incubi).

07-30-2008, 09:23 PM
Did they made the HQ as good and the vehicles as cheep as they are table top? I could see some serious balance problems there... (fully ramped up Archon I'll take over anything else in the game save Necrons with phase scythes. I've cut through Wrathlords like they weren't even there, never mind the Incubi).

From what I've read, these are more or less exactly the problems people have with the Dark Eldar.

Being true to your source material isn't always a virtue.

Also, I'm not feeling so good this week, so updates may be slow. Sorry.

08-02-2008, 12:22 PM
Map: Tranquilityís End
Imperial Guard vs. Chaos

Way back on page 1, I referenced the worst game Iíd ever seen the AI play. It wasnít this game, and it involved the AI not building a Generator for half the game while playing as Tau. (Tau need power for, um, everything. Other than Fire Warriors, Kroot, and basic buildings, that is.)

This game may actually have surpassed that game for the title of ďstupidest AI behaviorĒ. However, despite the AIís strategic failings, the game shows Chaos making a valiant effort to come back from a losing position, as well as me shifting my strategy on the fly based on an unexpected opportunity.

Here we see the AI being a tool. Instead of going 2x Cultist, 1x Heretic, it builds Cultists, Heretic, Cultists, and then has the Heretic sitting around doing nothing while its other Heretic struggles to get its Chaos Temple built. Oh, and it built another Heretic after this picture. And what did it do for several minutes?

If you guessed ďnothingĒ, you win a shiny wooden nickel.

As the AI spends its time sitting on its thumb, Iím going the hyper-aggressive expansion route, bypassing the Imperial Relic on my starting plateau in favor of grabbing strategic points in the center of the map and capping them. Not only does this give me slightly more income (Strategic points > Imperial Relics), but Strategic Points can be captured more quickly too, which means while the AIís cultists are pinned down capturing its Relic, my guys are already moving towards the strategic points on its side of the map.

Here you see my Imperial General/Command Squad and my first Commissar heading over to reinforce my primary Guardsman squad. Itís slightly less than optimal strategy, but Iíve had the first squad I built on overwatch, automatically reinforcing itself until it hits the squad cap. This is because I want to make sure I win any early skirmishes over strategic points, as my original plan was to use my resource advantage to speed-tech to Tier 2 and spam Hellhounds and Sentinels for the win. This didnít work out, as youíll see.

Hey, the Priest for my Command Squad showed up! I always build a Priest first, because his bonuses to health and damage outweigh the Commissarís bonus to morale in the short term.

Also, because I now know that Critical locations earn you Requisition, Iím rushing to take this one rather than trying dispute the strategic points next to the AIís base. If Iíd used the Command Squad to scout, though, Iíd have realized that those were unprotected a little earlier.

The Imperial Relic on my plateau is lonely. It stays that way the whole game, which was an oversight on my part, as my Requisition dips to nearly nothing several times. Still, I was kind of busy spamming Guardsmen for most of the later half of the game.

As I push into the AIís territory, recapturing the strategic point outside the plateau its base is built on, it hits me with a squad of Chaos Marines, which immediate run away from my Guardsmen. Iím... not actually sure why the AI does this, given that Chaos Marines > Guard. Maybe itís trying to regroup so it can project overwhelming force? Point being, the AI withdraws from comparatively weak attacks on a regular basis, and here (as in the Marines vs. Necrons game that I showed you) the behavior has a very high long-term price.

Because I canít cap the Critical Location in the center of the map, I send a Techpriest to build a Heavy Bolter Turret on the AIís side of the island itís on. Iíd build the turret right next to the location, but thereís an exclusion zone around it, probably to prevent exactly that kind of shenanigans.

As my techpriest builds the turret, my primary force discovers that the AI hadnít even captured the strategic point to the left of their base. This was more or less the point where my speed tech strategy went out the window. Itís 4 minutes into the game, and Iíve already started the countdown timer for a Control Area Victory. Thatís a pretty epic failure on the AIís part (since it means I control 75% of the map, more or less), but it almost means I can try to execute a forward turtle gambit, where I basically build up my base and defensive line right outside the AIís plateau. I did that with Tau earlier, but there it was mostly showing off. Here, itís my actual strategy. (Or it will be, once my push into the AIís base is repelled.)

Just to provide some insurance in case the AI breaks my stranglehold on the mapís strategic points, I send my second guardsmen squad to the east, where they drive away the cultists who have captured that Critical Location and begin to recapture it. Not only does this get me more Requisition, but it also gives me a second victory countdown. If I play well, even if the AI techs up and uses Defiler spam to crush my forward emplacements, I should be able to hold their vehicles back long enough to win that way.

Of course, all of that is after-the-fact rationalization. At the time, I still thought I could win by just rolling into the AIís base and killing everything.

A close encounter with two squads of Chaos Marines and an upgraded listening post persuaded me that this was excessively optimistic, and I fell back to my position at the base of the AIís ramp to regroup.

Here we see the AIís vain efforts to use Cultists to prevent me from building listening posts/destroy listening posts Iíve already created. Protip: It takes less time to upgrade a listening post to give it a machine gun to slaughter cultists than it does for a fully reinforced cultist squad to do a noticeable amount of damage to a listening post. And these cultist squads were below strength to begin with. Right now theyíre just tying up the AIís CP.

08-02-2008, 12:25 PM
Having retreated to my listening post, I decide to set things up for either a big push or a Control Area victory by building an Infantry Command right at the base of the AIís ramp. This does two things. First, it gives me a build queue right at the front lines, to help with the AIís advantage re: force projection. Second, it raises my squad cap to 18 from 12 (each Infantry Command you build grants 6 additional cap). I never make it that high, but I tend to hover around 14-16 for most of the game, so the CP boost is totally worth it.

Meanwhile, back at the listening post, my upgrade is complete, and the AIís cultists are being turned into chunky tomato sauce. They donít make it past my forward base.

Hereís something that I donít think Iíve ever shown in a game before (though I touched on it in my mechanics post a while back). Standing in water grants units Negative Cover, which slows them down and makes them more vulnerable to damage. The blue shield crossed out in red thatís hanging over my unitsí heads here is the negative cover indicator. Note that every member of a squad has their own cover status, which encourages players to micromanage their units to better fighting positions.

Ooh, a lightshow! Too bad itís coming from the Chaos Sorcerer shooting fiery doom at my guardsmen. The AI has built both of its commanders (Chaos Lord and Chaos Sorcerer), and is sending them and its Marine squads at my forward base. Unluckily for them, Iíve been expecting this, and have been spamming Guardsmen. Even in negative cover, fire concentration tends to trump unit quality.

Case in point. After a minute and a half of combat, the Chaos Sorcerer goes down, along with most of the Chaos Marines. The badly wounded Chaos Lord heads back into the AIís base along with the remains of his assault force.

Because Iím an overconfident jerk who thinks that having 6 Guardsmen squads and a Command Squad should be enough to let me win the game, I follow him in, only to be reacquainted with my old friend the angry listening post. Whatever. I can take an upgraded listening post, right?

Hubris warning: I can, in fact take the listening post. What I canít take is the Defiler thatís waddling towards me. Guardsmen Squads do exactly diddly to vehicles like the Defiler.

As foreshadowed above, I take down the listening post, but with horrific losses, as the Defiler pounds most of my Command Squad into paste.

As the Defiler waddles off to destroy the listening post to the west, the AI sends a squad of Khorne Berserkers into my base. These guys are pretty scary, especially because theyíre made of meat and Guardsmen... arenít, but quantity has a quality of its own. I throw Guardsmen at them in a human wave, and eventually they go down.

Defiler, Listening Post. Listening Post, Defiler. I think youíll get along just fine for the 30 seconds before the Defiler rips you open like a cardboard box.

Thankfully, the AI didnít have an infantry unit to follow up this attack and decap the point.

Meanwhile, Iím back in the AIís base, killing his Chaos Lord.

08-02-2008, 12:27 PM
It would literally take several minutes of this kind of fire to kill the Defiler. Thankfully, Iím in the middle of upgrading my turret to shoot missiles, which will expedite the process so it might even die before the game ends.

About the time my turret finishes upgrading, the AI teleports Obliterators into my base. If the AI had actually captured a reasonable number of strategic points and had money left after teching up, Iím pretty sure I wouldíve lost this game Ė as it is, only my grotesque cash advantage and overwhelming quantity of Guardsmen are holding these guys off. And of course thereís the victory timer, which will give me the game in 13 seconds.


So, as my late-game experiences suggest, Guardsmen donít hold up very well against vehicles, or even advanced infantry in the absence of gross numerical superiority. I built a Mechanized Command in my forward base about two minutes before the game ended, but never got around to researching and building Sentinels or Hellhounds because I was so busy holding off the AIís last-ditch assaults.

Iím sure that a better player than I couldíve overrun the AI with vehicles instead of going for the cheap win, but Iím not very good at balancing my resources (including my attention) while playing Guard Ė you end up with so many units on the field that unless youíre a master, the best way to keep your squads up to strength is to use Overwatch (which you activate by right-clicking on a build or reinforce button, instead of left-clicking) to automatically reinforce them all to full. Sadly, this drains resources which might be better used elsewhere.

08-04-2008, 09:49 PM
Before this Letís Play, I knew that the Necrons were bad news. I just didnít know how awful they actually were.

Builder Scarabs
At first glance, Builder Scarabs arenít all that impressive, as theyíre standard builders that can be reinforced up to a squad cap of 3. That lasts until you realize that theyíre the only Necron unit that can capture strategic points (and variants), and that compared to other builder units, theyíre tough as nails.

Oh, and did I mention that theyíre completely free, aside from their build time? Even reinforcing them costs you nothing.

Necron Warriors
Necron Warriors are slow to build, slow to move, and slow to reinforce. On the other hand, theyíre free, theyíre accurate even while moving, and theyíre hellishly hard to kill. (Hey, itís almost like thatís a theme for Necron units.) Also, theyíre stronger than pretty much any other Tier 1 Heavy Infantry unit, so despite their speed, you can do pretty horrible things with them if you buy the time needed to move them up by rushing your opponentís base with your Necron Lord.

On the downside, their build time increases significantly the more squads of them you have on the field, so you can't just swarm your opponents with free Necron Warriors. Which is probably for the best.

Wraiths are the Necronís scouts and stealth detectors. Theyíre also high damage anti-infantry and anti-structure units, and can uncapture (but not capture) strategic points and the like. Oh, and theyíre immune to morale damage and can phase shift to make themselves invulnerable (and unable to deal damage) for 10 seconds. Theyíre pretty handy, especially if you donít want to waste one of your Necron Lordís 3 power slots on stealth detection.

Flayed Ones
To quote myself: Flayed Ones are bad news against infantry, because they radiate a fear aura that deals constant morale damage. Oh, and you can teleport/deep strike them onto the field, which makes them great reinforcements and base raiders. Also? Immune to morale damage.

Who knew that robot monsters that wear the skins of their foes could be so handy?

Iíve never actually used these guys in combat, so I canít speak to their strengths from experience, but the tooltips and the Relic wiki inform me that theyíre great versus vehicles, and can hold their own in melee. Theyíre weak against anti-infantry weapons, though, so Space Marines and Fire Warriors can take them out, and unlike Flayed Ones and Wraiths, they actually take Morale damage.

Necron Lord
Ah, the Necron Lord. One of two micro-management focused units that the Necrons have (the other is the Lord Destroyed), the Necron Lord is one of the best commanders in the game. Not only can he teleport (like the Big Mek) but players can research additional powers for him at the Forbidden Archive as they tech up. The Necron Lord can only learn 3 special abilities (as well as the Essence of the Nightbringer ability), but pretty much all of them are extremely handy. The Lightning Field ability is probably the best, because its damage cap is bugged, allowing it to be charged indefinitely by incoming damage, which makes it theoretically possible for the Necron Lord to kill any unit in the game. That said, the abilities you should research are largely context-dependent Ė Iíve used Sonar Pulse to good effect in the past, and itís probably the weakest of the Necron Lordís powers.

Tomb Spyder
Tomb Spyders are ridiculous, which is why Iím describing them here despite the fact that theyíre more of a Tier 2.5 unit than a Tier 2 one. It has relatively low health for a combat vehicle, but it wrecks enemy infantry and structures, can collect nearby corpses to reprocess them into Necron Warriors, Flayed Ones, and Immortals, and can sacrifice 30% of its health to produce Attack Scarabs, which are highly effective (and expensive) anti-vehicle units. If you see a Tomb Spyder coming, thereís a good chance the gameís already over.

The Necron Destroyer is an Immortalís torso mounted on a floating vehicle platform and armed with anti-infantry gauss cannon. Theyíre great at range, and highly mobile compared to other Necron units, but can be tied up in melee combat. Itís pretty expensive, but it builds quickly, and only suffers in comparison to the Tomb Spyder, which is pretty hard to compete with.

As is suggested by my preliminary comments and some of the unit descriptions, I did very well when I played as the Necrons. Probably too well, really, given how utterly I thrashed an AI playing Tau on the Harder difficulty. My wins with Space Marines arenít usually that decisive.

08-04-2008, 10:34 PM
You're underestimating the Necron Lord's potential. One of his abillities lets you res all Necron units in a given area. Even if this would surpass your unit cap. Because that's not an advantage at all, no sir.

Oh, and the Nightbringer is invincible, and I believe it lasts longer the more it kills. Seriously, screw the Necrons.

08-04-2008, 10:56 PM
You're underestimating the Necron Lord's potential. One of his abillities lets you res all Necron units in a given area. Even if this would surpass your unit cap. Because that's not an advantage at all, no sir.

Oh, and the Nightbringer is invincible, and I believe it lasts longer the more it kills. Seriously, screw the Necrons.

What, you mean the fact that the guys you res come back at 25% health doesn't balance that ability? I am shocked, sir.

Seriously, though, I agree that the Necron Lord is ridiculous. The problem is that I've only just started playing with Necrons in a serious way, so I don't really know how to maximize that ridiculousness yet.

08-05-2008, 02:18 PM
Oh my my Malefor you have no idea how rediculous the necrons can get... Where the Imperial Guard are great early game and kind of taper off at the higher levels the Necrons are a bit slow early on and quickly get crazy.

Take out nothing but 4-6 full squads of warriors plus a res lord and head towards the nearest base. Once any of your squads start taking casulties start reinforcing them quickly. Once you start taking serious casulties (more then 50% losses) Use the res power of the lord in the middle of everyone and you will end up going over the pop cap and can then reinfoce the squads above the cap.

This gets even more crazy when you get a monolith fully upgraded and can carry your production with you. And a well turtled Necron Base is a pain to break as they can have 3 monoliths cranking out Necrons for no cost...

The Necrons are a slow and ungainly race but since the basic Necron Warriors can rip apart infantry and heavy infantry with ease and take vehicles fairly easily with 2-3 squads focus firing there is often no need to build anything else.

08-06-2008, 12:56 AM
Well, guys, I'm afraid that I don't do anything super-mega-broken in my Necron playthrough here... aside from completely crushing the AI's chances of victory about 5-7 minutes into the game. The thing is, as usual, the most broken stuff you can do with the Necrons requires you to reach Tier 2, at which point most 1v1 games are already over.

Map: Frostbite River
Necrons vs. Tau (Harder)

I’m not sure if this particular map is especially good for the Necrons (though I suspect it is), but I’ve had 100% success at smashing the AI’s economy and production structures with a Necron Lord rush on Frostbite River. Part of that appears to be the fact that there are 4 strategic points inside the perimeter of each starting area, which means that it’s trivially easy to get an 80% production speed bonus by capturing and capping those points with Obelisks.

I’m leaning towards doing my 4-player game as Necrons, given how utterly silly the Necron Lord and co. can be. Though I may do one game as Space Marines and another as Necrons, since I know the upper tier units on Space Marines better.

My build order as Necrons is actually slightly unconventional. I believe that the orthodox build order is Scarab x2, Necron Lord, Necron Warriors x2, with the first two builder scarabs (including the one you start with) building Plasma Generators and the third capping points. I went Builder Scarab, Necron Lord, Builder Scarab, Necron Warriors x2, Builder Scarab, and sent my first scarab to build Plasma Generators while the second capped points.

This approach reduces your early income, but since Necrons don’t need income to build most of their early units, it’s not a big deal. Also, getting the Necron lord out half a minute earlier can be key, as is getting an early 20% boost to your build speed (for units, structures, and upgrades). On the downside, you lose the redundancy of having multiple plasma generators early, which could be deadly against an opponent that rushes you or engages in effective econ harassment. Thankfully, I avoided that problem by stomping on the AI's base.

The Necron Lord, like the Tomb Spyders, actually starts the game as a corpse on the ground next to your monolith. The blue and gold thing in the crater to the right of my monolith is a Tomb Spyder, while the black splotch behind my Necron Lord is the crater which he was lying in just moments before I took this screenshot.

The AI is apparently trying to steal a march on me by harassing/capturing my strategic points. Unfortunately, it sent Vespids to my base, which, um, can’t capture strategic points. And they don’t attack my generators either.

Actually, I’m not entirely sure what the point of this scouting trip was, unless Relic’s AI actually needs to scout. (I’d be surprised if it did.)

Meanwhile, I’ve teleported my Necron Lord most of the way across the map, and am busily harassing the AI by killing its Earth Caste Builders as they attempt to build listening posts. The AI loves to hammer on the listening posts proper, but if you can kill a builder while the listening post is in progress, roughly half of the time the half-finished listening post will explode on the builder’s death. This is a highly efficient way to disrupt your opponent’s economic buildup.

Back at my base, I’m spamming plasma generators. The Necrons’ first plasma generator is free, and then each generator after that costs (20 * N) power, where N = the # of plasma generators you have completed + however many you’re currently building. There’s a point of diminishing returns on building Plasma Generators, but I generally don’t stop building up my economy until I have 7-8 of them. This may not be optimal, though – I haven’t done the math, so I tend to go with what feels right.

After my Necron Lord takes out the Earth Caste Builder and the listening post he was working on, the AI gets serious and sends a bunch of Kroot and a Tau Commander after me. I teleport my Lord out of the way of the Kroot and have him close to beat the Tau Commander in the face with his staff. Luckily for me, the AI hasn’t bought the Flamer upgrade, and I dispose of him handily.

After some more skirmishing with the AI’s Vespids and Kroot, my Necron Warriors finally make it across the field. My Lord hangs around for a little bit to back them up, and then teleports out of combat, so he can heal for a bit.

Here you see my Necron Warriors under attack from Tau Stealthsuits. The Stealthsuits don’t do that much damage, and I have no way to detect stealth without building Wraiths or buying the Sonar Pulse power from the Forbidden Archive, so I just ignore them and pummel the listening post they're guarding with my Necron Warrior’s gauss flayers.

Once that listening post is down, I move on to the next one. I didn’t notice this at the time, but the AI was actually sniping my Necron Warriors with a Fire Warrior squad at long range. If they’d stayed at extreme range, it’s entirely possible that I would’ve lost most of my guys and had no idea why.

Thankfully, they didn’t. This is actually the second Fire Warrior squad that the AI basically marched into the guns of my Necron Warriors. I’m not really sure why the AI’s stealthsuits couldn’t have spotted for them, but not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I cut them down.

Also, those shields there are cover symbols. Not that being in cover helped those Fire Warriors to any appreciable degree...

08-06-2008, 01:03 AM
Finally, after enduring five minutes of uninterrupted fire from the AI’s stealthsuits, my first Wraith shows up. I don’t actually end up targeting the stealthsuits that you see here for a while, but at least I have the option to do so now.

Rather than go after the steathsuits, I go after a second Tau Commander. This one goes down just like the first, and this time, I don’t even give the AI long enough to buy the Flamer upgrade.

I move on to the Tau Barracks next. Only once it goes up in a puff of blue flames do I turn to exterminating the stealthsuits that have been irritating me for so long.

Watching units explode into gibs has never been this satisfying.

While my Wraith hares off on its own to die an inglorious death under the guns of the southernmost listening post, my Necron Warriors lay waste to the two listening posts in the middle of the AI’s base. Here you see them crushing the second one.

At the same time, my Necron Lord and a squad of Flayed ones are busy trying to keep the AI from finishing a second Tau Barracks. Unfortunately, it’s done before I can kill the Builder that was working on it.

Oh, well. Guess I have to take it out the old-fashioned way.

Once the barracks is down, I turn on the Cadre Headquarters. The stealthsuits on the bottom left are being extremely annoying, but unfortunately, in the absence of a Wraith or Sonar Pulse, there’s nothing I can do about them. And I’m going to kill the Cadre Headquarters long before the Wraith I have queued up can make it across the map.

I included this picture because the Flayed One standing right beneath the Cadre Headquarters was dead in the last screenshot and had just stood up in this one. That kind of thing is surprisingly handy when you’re trying to deliver the finishing blow to a production building.

Sadly, killing the Cadre HQ didn’t immediately win me the game, as the AI had started another Tau Barracks in order to stave off defeat. I killed the Barracks and won the game about one second after I took this screenshot, though.

This is obviously not the subtlest, most skillful, or most broken use of the Necrons ever – I essentially just rushed the AI’s base, harassed their economy and slaughtered their combat units to keep them on the back foot, teleported in reinforcements, killed their primary production structure, and then killed everything else. The thing is, it worked – essentially, after I killed the first barracks, the AI didn’t really have a chance, even after my Wraith wandered off and got itself killed. You could even argue that the game began to slip out of the AI's grasp when I killed off the first Tau Commander, as I’d already destroyed a listening post, a builder, and the majority of a squad of Kroot by then, while sustaining no real losses of my own.

Essentially, Necrons have a Tier 1 commander who is a very effective harassment unit, and have a significant advantage in combat once they’ve teched up to Tier 2-3 and can use the Necron Lord and Tomb Spyders to resurrect dead units. There’s a very narrow window of opportunity in Tiers 1.5 & 2 for other factions to get an edge on the Necrons, and if you can use that to camp on their doorstep, you can keep your boot on their throat for the entire game, but the combination of early harassment and late game power makes the Necrons an extremely dangerous (and probably overpowered) faction to play against.

08-11-2008, 11:34 PM
Apologies for the long lag between this update and the last. We're almost done here.

As the title here suggests, Eldar are really fiddly and micro-management heavy. No, really. Practically every single unit they have gets a special ability or two, and not necessarily the ones youíd think.

Letís take their builder. Necron and Ork builders come in hordes. Orks & Guard builders can fight. Chaos builders can be worked to death. Bonesingers can teleport once every two minutes.

Thatís right, the Eldar win the war of Ďwhose builder is coolestí. Not necessarily Ďwhose builder is most usefulí since bonesingers are made of tinfoil and glass as far as health goes, but damn, teleportation? Thatís mighty handy if you can multi-task well enough to take advantage of it.

The basic Eldar infantry unit has two advantages. One, they can actually hold their own in combat, like Guardsmen Squads and unlike, oh, cultists or scout marines. Two, you can buy a Warlock (squad commander) for them the instant that you produce them, which gives them stealth detection. This is surprisingly handy against Tau, Chaos, and other Eldar players, as well as Space Marine players who decide to make their Scout Marines infiltrated.

Guardians benefit from a billion different upgrades, one of which (Plasma Grenades), keeps them useful even after theyíve become too fragile for frontline combat. Also, if you research the Fleet of Foot ability (which benefits all Eldar infantry) you can make Guardians or any other Eldar infantry unit move faster at the price of accuracy. You have to toggle the ability constantly to get its full benefits, though.

Rangers are one of the most annoying and dispiriting units that an Eldar player has at their disposal, so long as you research Ranger Infiltration. I kind of laughed at researching that for Scout Marines, but thatís because you have to buy their sniper rifles separately. Rangers, on the other hand, start with sniper rifles. Essentially, if youíre facing off versus massed infantry and your opponent isnít playing Chaos, Rangers are essentially required. They shatter morale like no oneís business, and most of the time, your opponent canít even shoot back.

Howling Banshees
Howling Banshees are a perfect example of why Iím a bad Eldar player. They do a lot more damage than most other Eldar units at their tech level, and all it takes to use them properly is to be able to micro them into melee. The problem is, this requires that you use Fleet of Foot and can watch them closely enough to make sure that theyíre attacking the right target and keeping melee units off of your Guardian and Ranger squads, and I suck at that. Expert Eldar players (and the computer) can use Banshees to turn your ranged troops to kibble, though.

Dark Reapers
Dark Reapers are ranged anti-infantry specialists, and I typically lean on them instead of Howling Banshees unless Iím facing off against melee units like Assault Marines or Kroot. If you shield them with Guardian Squads, they can pump out quantities of damage on the order of Tau Fire Warriors. While their weapons go obsolete in the late game, in a 1v1, you should be able to use them to steal an early advantage, given that vehicles donít even become available until Tier 2.5.

You'll notice that the Dark Reapers are basically the complete opposite of the Howling Banshees. Fictionally, this is the product of Eldar warriors dedicating themselves to a particular totemic Aspect, resulting in their military being both extremely skilled and extremely specialized. Winning as Eldar (in both Dawn or War and Warhammer 40k) is all about using superior mobility to deploy exactly the right forces to exactly the right place to counter your opponent's strategy. If you don't do this, the relative fragility of your units will doom you.

Fire Dragons
Fire Dragons are the Eldarís anti-vehicle & -structure specialists. Their damage versus infantry, unlike every other flame-based unit in the game, is utterly pathetic Ė they donít even do a decent amount of morale damage. I usually only build them in the late game to help me finish off a crippled opponent, though thereís an argument that could be made for building them earlier to kill off listening posts or any vehicles your opponent has put out.

Hey, yet another unit that I canít use which makes me quake in my boots when I see the AI or another player using it. (You may have noticed that this is a theme.) Harlequins are savage anti-commander units, and can also be used to pin down and disrupt an enemy infantry squad while the rest of your forces clean up. Their Dance of Death ability knocks down and throws opposing infantry around, while the Harlequinís Kiss deals 4000 damage to the targeted unit and 200 damage to everything around it, friend or foe. Plus they detect stealth. Highly recommended for the micromanagers out there.

Farseers are thankfully a little less micro-intensive than Harlequins, despite starting with 3 different abilities Ė and having 2 more you can research! Psychic Storm deals AoE damage over 10 seconds, Mind War slows the affected squad and deals damage to a squad leader/commander in preference to all other targets, and Guide buffs the DPS of one of your squads. Fortune (research required) reduces damage dealt to nearby units for 15 seconds, while Eldritch Storm (research required) deals massive damage to any units in the affected area.

The Relic Wiki recommends that players not build the Farseer in Tier 1, and I've found thatís usually correct unless you need a tank to soak up melee damage. Still, all of those special abilities can be pretty handy.

08-11-2008, 11:47 PM
Falcon Grav Tank
Iíve been hating on transports for pretty much every other faction. Not this time, though, as the Eldar transport is great, if somewhat pricey. It starts out with a nice balance of anti-infantry and anti-vehicle weapons, some of which it can even fire on the move, and you can upgrade its anti-vehicle Brightlance into a morale-shattering Starcannon.

Oh, and by the way, the Falcon can jump. As in, jump up and down cliffs, over buildings, and the like. This is great on its own, but itís also a transport, so you can (for example) load it up with a Fire Dragon squad and jump it past your enemyís defenses into their base, then unload the Fire Dragon squad and use the Falcon to provide cover and fire support while the Fire Dragons burn everything down.

Vypers are a slightly cheaper, slightly more fragile and generally more specialized version of the Falcon. If you want to be able to do hit-and-run attacks on your opponentís listening posts, and flank and take out vehicles, Vypers are great, but if they ever get pinned down by anti-vehicle fire, they wonít last long.

Like Falcons, Vypers can jump, though itís less exciting because they arenít a transport. Like most of the Eldar infantry (other than Guardians, Rangers, and the commander units) Vypers have to be unlocked before you can build them, and I donít usually consider it to be worth the cost and effort.

Wraithlords, on the other hand, are totally worth it, should the game run long enough. Their flamers deal pretty good morale damage, their starcannon deals decent anti-vehicle and anti-infantry damage, and their melee attack just mauls everything. Also, they have way more health than most other Eldar units, so you can use them to tank for your infantry or your Falcons. When they get damaged and you donít want to use them in melee any more, you can buy a Brightlance for them to give them a good ranged attack. As shown in the game I lost to the Eldar, multiple Wraithlords can deliver an utterly savage beating to your opponent.

08-13-2008, 09:18 PM
Map: Shrine of Excellion
Eldar versus Imperial Guard (Hard)

I actually chose ďRandomĒ as the AIís faction here, so I didnít know what side Iíd be playing against going in. My build order was Guardian Squad x2, Bonesinger, Guardian Squad, because Shrine of Excellion is a big open map with few natural barriers between its strategic points, and grabbing as many of them as you can as early as you can is the key to victory.

Oh, and as for the 'Craftworld' thing - most Eldar live in huge space arks known as Craftworlds, because the planets which they once occupied were consumed by the Eye of Terror (a huge area of space where the Warp spills into reality) when the decadence of Eldar civilization triggered the creation of the Chaos God Slaanesh. Needless to say, if a Craftworld is destroyed, a significant portion of the remaining Eldar will die with it.

Iíve reinforced all of my Guardian Squads with a Warlock and another Guardian, in case I run into enemy units. The Warlocks are insurance against Tau stealthsuits (since they detect stealth), while the extra guardian is a buffer against the AI preemptively reinforcing their squads. If and when I get into combat, Iíll set the squad to Overwatch so itíll keep on reinforcing itself until it hits the squad cap.

This was the first engagement of the game, with my Guardian Squad turning a Guardsman Squad led by a Commissar into giblets. At this point, each of us controls roughly half the map, though Iím in the middle of capturing the single Critical Location in the mapís center.

Here you see me building a Webway Gate. In the hands of a proper Eldar player, webway gates let you transport your units from one side of the map to the other, allowing rapid responses to your enemyís moves. You can also upgrade webway gates to make them heal nearby units and cloak nearby structures.

They also increase your command point cap, which is the only thing I use this gate for in the course of the entire game. (I told you I was a bad Eldar player.)

The Guardian Squad that capture the Critical Location got boxed in by a pair of Guardsmen Squads led by Commissars on its way out of the center of the map. It took some hits, but quickly regrouped with another Guardian Squad and an infiltrated group of Rangers.

My massed infantry then returned to the Critical Location (where the AI was scurrilously trying to start a victory countdown) and made short work of both the Guardsman Squad that had been dispatched to capture it and the Imperial General that arrived shortly thereafter to back them up.

This is an object lesson in setting your units to the proper stance. Instead of setting this Guardian Squad to Stand Ground, I left them on Hold Ground, which meant that they chased an enemy unit all the way into the AIís base, where the combined fire of 3 Techpriest Enginseers, a Heavy Bolter Turret, and a Guardsmen Squad made short work of them.

Ranged units should always be set to Stand Ground (or Burn, if you want them to actively destroy nearby enemy structures). Melee specialists can be left on Hold Ground (which is the default), though Stand Ground will keep them from doing stupid things like charging Bolter Turrets. If you donít set your units to Stand Ground, you need to micro them like mad, or they will inevitably wander off and do something pointless and self-destructive.

Anyway. Rant over.

Thankfully, the AI was returning the favor on the other side of the map. Here you see it running a pair of Techpriest Enginseers past my massed infantry. It sent wave after wave of doomed Techpriests at me for several minutes, before I got tired of snuffing them and started going after its listening posts.

Of course, killing its listening posts made the AI send even more Techpriests my way. Go figure.

In addition to showing the latest Techpriest to sacrifice himself on the altar of Excellion (seriously, the AI did not stop spamming them and sending them off to die), this screenshot shows the Imperial Guardís radar scan (that reddish circle on the ground beneath my units). The Guardís only stealth detectors are Psykers, so to compensate for this, they get an ability on their Command Post which lets them spend 25 power to scan an area of the map for infiltrated units. The fact that I was using Rangers meant that the AI was constantly scanning for them. Interestingly, the scans werenít always effective, which suggests that the AI was actually trying to guess where my Rangers had set up camp.

After about 3 minutes of killing Enginseers, I decided that I should probably capture the strategic points that the AI so desperately wanted to cap, and dispatched my two Guardian squads to take care of business. You can see my Dark Reapers, Rangers, and Farseer hanging out in the foreground, ready to exterminate any Guardsmen who came their way.

08-13-2008, 09:23 PM
Shortly after capturing those two points, I finished my Soul Shrine (the Eldar upgrade building, and a prerequisite for Tier 2). Here you see me researching Reinforced Armor and Advanced Optics, which should make my fragile units significantly more effective.

Immediately after completing my Soul Shrine, I also started construction on a Support Portal, the Eldar’s vehicle production structure. I, um, didn’t expect the AI to have a Heavy Bolter in range of where I planted it, though, so the entire time my Bonesinger was building the Portal, this turret was hammering away at it. That was a little awkward.

With the strategic points captured, I moved my main force into the AI’s base, taking down their Infantry Command. While this doesn’t cripple a Guard player as badly as most other factions (since they can still build Guardsmen from their HQ), reducing the AI’s build output from 2 queues to 1 pretty much sealed the deal right there.

Unfortunately, as I moved my Eldar deeper into the AI’s base, it became clear that it had spammed a lot of turrets in inconvenient places. It took some micromanagement to get my Farseer into a position where it could attack the Field Command without getting hit by that damn turret.

Despite having a turret hammering on it, the Support Portal gamely churned out two Falcon Grav Tanks, which proceeded to smash the inconveniently placed Heavy Bolter Turret into smithereens.

Back in the AI’s base, I eventually got tired of having to tiptoe around that damn turret and sent all my infantry to rub it out. With that taken care of, my main force returned to the slow and thankless task of wearing down the AI’s Headquarters building, along with any Guardsmen or Techpriests that it pumped out.

While there were several turrets and an upgraded listening post between my Falcons and my main force, I disposed of that obstacle by using the Falcons’ ability to jump over them. Flying tanks are sweet.

With a pair of Falcons backing them up, my main force made short work of the Field Command. I’d researched the ability to build Wraithlords at this point, but there wasn’t any point in making any.

The game hasn’t quite registered that I’ve won yet, so my units are firing on a plasma generator out of, well… spite, really. Nothing like kicking someone when they’re down!

…and we’re done! Whew.

That’s it for the main body of this Let’s Play, though I promised people that I’d play a 4-player free-for-all or two to show off some of the higher tier units. A big “thank you” goes out to all of my readers and those who commented and replied – I know that this wasn’t exactly the most popular Let’s Play out there, or the one with the most opportunities for reader contributions, but I hope it was at least somewhat educational and entertaining for those who stuck with it.

08-13-2008, 09:37 PM
you need to micro them like mad
This seems to be the central theme of the game.

08-13-2008, 09:58 PM
This seems to be the central theme of the game.

Dawn of War is surprisingly light on the micromanagement, actually, especially compared to classics of the genre like Starcraft. Space Marines and Chaos are both more macromanagement/economy-based factions (Space Marines spam + rockets will get you surprisingly far) while Orks are meant to be macro-based but kind of fail to live up to the hype because of their funky specialized resource. Tau are (obviously) somewhat micro-based, but not excessively so, and the Imperial Guard and the Necrons aren't too bad either - in the case of the Guard, you just have to attach commanders to your units, while the Necrons are all about effective use of the Necron Lord and building up your economy.

The only faction that requires a truly silly amount of button-pushing and toggling to reach its full potential is the Eldar, as A) you have to research the ability to build most of their units, B) every single one of those units has the potential to have one or more abilities, and C) they have a zillion upgrades to improve their units or unlock said abilities. (The Farseer can have 6 different ability buttons and god only knows how many upgrades applied to her.) I'm sure that a skilled player of C&C 3 or Starcraft would have no problem beating me into a pulp with the Eldar, though, fiddly or not.

(I should note that "Surprisingly light" for an RTS is still fairly fiddly, though. YMMV and all that.)

08-14-2008, 05:01 AM
Just wanted to let you know you did a good job here. I've just been lurking, since I have no experience with this game/universe. Can't wait to see the free-for-all.

08-14-2008, 09:27 AM
So my first attempt at a Free-for-all game crashed and burned because, well, I let the computer randomly determine my opponents' factions.

I was playing Necrons.

The AI player right next to me? Playing Necrons, making the first 10 minutes of the game a complete mirror match.

The AI player who showed up in my base with his entire army just as I was about to stomp the first AI player flat? Also playing Necrons.

I think I'm going to have to be a little more careful about the faction assignments on my next try.

08-16-2008, 05:29 PM
So I have 60+ screenshots to sort through for this one. Since my first big game with Necrons revealed that I have absolutely no idea how to play them beyond Tier 2, I went back to Space Marines and set up the AIs as Tau, Eldar, and Chaos. (I wasn't about to revisit the Necron v. Necron v. Necron debacle of my last attempt.) It actually turned out pretty well, but both the game (41 minutes long) and capturing the screen shots took forever, so I'll probably post the actual description of the battle either tomorrow or on Monday.

Just FYI, I think I'm going to call it quits on the LP after this, as 4 player free-for-all games are a completely different beast than 1v1s, in terms of the effort needed to play, screenshot, and write them up. While I'm curious about what it's like to play as Necrons in the late game, I don't think I'm curious enough to want to commit to the full day it would require to get a good game recorded and write it up properly.

08-18-2008, 09:41 AM
Map: Ariel Highlands
Space Marines vs. Chaos vs. Eldar vs. Tau (Hard AI)

In addition to being larger than 1v1 maps, 4+ player maps also tend to have a lot more strategic points for players to capture. Not only that, but theyíre, um, often right next to each other, which makes them A) easier to capture in the early game and B) easier to defend in the late game (since you can upgrade both listening posts and drop additional turrets around them as needed).

As you can see, most of this mapís strategic points are right on top of each other. Also, I went for a Scout Marine x2, Servitor, Tactical Squad, Force Commander build order, because I wanted to have a rapid reaction force that could put pressure on one of my opponents as soon as possible.

This proved to be a wise decision, as my initial scouting foray ran into a squad of Fire Warriors. Which ran away, because as we all know, the AI in Dawn of War is a fricking coward in the early game. (The fact that a reinforced Tactical Squad >> unreinforced Fire Warriors has no bearing on anything.)

Meanwhile, up north, the Eldar and Chaos players are going at it. Here we see a squad of Rangers being butchered by Chaos Space Marines and a squad of Cultists who are serving as stealth detectors and meat shields for the Chosen of the Dark Gods.

Iím honestly uncertain as to why the Eldar player isnít crushing the Chaos player with the sheer weight of their army of Guardians, but I suppose itís a question for the ages. That is *some* Guardian spam, btw. The only issue I take with the AIís approach is the fact that it hasnít built any plasma generators yet. (Weíll come back to this point later.)

Here we see the AI countering my reconnaissance force with a fully reinforced squad of stealthsuits. Neither my Force Commander nor my Marines can detect stealth, so I retreat to the nearest listening post so I can recruit a Skull Probe that will let me squash these annoying little bastards.

A minute and a half later, I have a Skull Probe and another fully reinforced Tactical Squad, so I head back to engage the Tau once more.

The Tau player appears to have been spamming Kroot. This seems dubious Ė a combination of Kroot and fire support would be significantly more effective.

Ah, okay. Thereís the fire support, in the form of a Tau Commander. Too bad he only showed up after all of his meat shields got pulped.

The Tau AI, like the Imperial Guard AI before it, seems to be obsessed with sending builder units to die under the withering fire of my main force. I donít spend much time on them, though, as Iím going to need to crush the Tau quickly so I can move on to my other opponents.

After killing the Tau Commander, I move on to the listening posts outside the Tau base, and then into the base itself, which was surprisingly lightly defended.

Oh, I see. The Tau sent their fully reinforced Fire Warriors off to do something other than defend their base from my Blood Angel taskforce. Good plan, AI! I approve heartily.

Anyway, the Fire Warriors dealt a fair amount of damage to my forces (thus the two-man squad firing at them from atop the ramp) before reinforcements showed up behind them and ripped them to shreds.

08-18-2008, 09:45 AM
With the main Tau force out of the way, there wasnít much left to do in their base besides mopping up.

Moving my main force into the middle of the map, I found that the Eldar had captured pretty much everything. Surprisingly, though, there werenít any actual Eldar (or Chaos) forces to be seen. As a result, I began razing every Eldar listening post I came across to the ground, starting with the one on this Imperial Relic.

Meanwhile, this? Was the entirety of the Chaos playerís army at the time. The Eldar player, by sheer force of Guardian & Howling Banshee spam, had pushed them all the way back into their base.

Note that the Eldar player still hadnít built any plasma generators. Iím not sure if this is an AI bug or what, but sometimes the AI doesnít build plasma generators at all, effectively locking itself at Tier 1.

Iíll give you one guess as to whether thatís what happened here.

Anyway, despite having pushed Chaos all the way back to their base, the fact that the Eldar player couldnít tech up meant that once Chaos built up its army again, it could only mount a token resistance. These Guardians have no chance at all against the Khorne Berserkers & various commanders that the Chaos player has at his command.

Meanwhile, Iíve skipped straight past Tier 2 & building Dreadnoughts in favor of spamming Predators (hey, shades of C&C 3!). Predators are the second-best vehicle unit available to Space Marines players, and the best is the Land Raider, which requires a stupidly expensive upgrade (which I will eventually buy, in absence of better things to use my money on) and a Relic (which I wonít capture until after Iím maxed my vehicle CP). Theyíve got a main gun and two side turrets, and can take a ridiculous amount of punishment.

Also, the strategic points just north of my Machine Cult are heavy fortified, in the expectation that one of the AI players would attack me on that front. They never do, but if they did, this base could put up some good resistance until my main blob of troops showed up.

Because the Eldar were perilously close to winning a Take & Hold victory, I had a Tac Squad recapture the Critical Locations in the center of the map. The Howling Banshees that are running past didnít even scratch them.

Note that this is the first time that Iíve actually seen an Eldar unit Ė at the 17 minute mark. The deployment of everyoneís units since my defeat of the Tau (6 minutes earlier) has been a kind of comedy of errors in that regard.

This is what my main force looked like at this point. Note that it no longer really fits on a single screen.

Öwhereas this is Chaosís entire army (plus or minus a squad of Chaos Marines).

That comedy of errors I referred to before? Itís about to come to an end.


Unfortunately, I have to go to work now, so the rest of this update will have to wait until tonight or tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the first installment!

08-20-2008, 09:42 PM
Sorry about the late update/conclusion Ė I got horribly, incapacitatingly ill on Monday night, and was laid up all yesterday. But enough about me. Back to the slaughter!

ÖI wasnít kidding about the slaughter, by the way. Thatís my giant blob of troops moving into contact with the Chaos playerís giant blob of troops. From here on out, itíll be a miracle if anyone can figure out whatís going on in these screenshots.

Youíll note my Force Commander & his Chaos Lord in the forefront of our respective armies. The AI also has a lot of Horrors deployed, which means that Iíll probably be losing a Predator or two in the course of this fight, though thankfully Horrors are pretty much worthless versus infantry.

Just to make things a little easier to track, hereís a screenshot of the bottom of the gigantic abattoir that my units are busily creating. Thereís a bunch of Khorne Berserkers kicking the crap out of what I think is my Force Commander. While I doubt heíll make it, the Predator on the bottom right should make short work of them, assuming it gets a little help from the horde of marines thatís engaged in the center of the battle.

Hereís the main battle. My force is mostly tactical squads, though you can see some Assault Marines just above the Predator on the left. The AI has its Chaos Lord & Horrors towards the bottom, who are pretty much drowning in Tactical Marines, and more Khorne Berzerkers towards the top. At a guess, I would say that Iím favored to win this fight, but thatís based on the fact that I have the weight of numbers on my side, as well as a tank.

Öand just to provide some comic relief from the savage Marine-on-Marine action going on just to the south, the Eldar player is throwing Guardians and Howling Banshees at us.

It literally took me 3 seconds of concentrated fire to reduce this Guardian Squad to paste and gibs.

Unsurprisingly, the Horrors took out my first Predator, though they didnít last long against the halberds and psychic powers of my Grey Knights. That swirling area of FX at the bottom of the screen would be dealing DoT to enemy units if there were any nearby.

Okay, so a little over a minute and a half into the clusterfuck from Hell (or the alternative nether dimension of your choice), things are starting to clear out enough that you can see whoís winning. The Horrors are all dead, so the fact that Iíve still got an intact Predator and a bunch of Tactical squads left suggests that Iím winning, barring elaborate shenanigans from the AIís Chaos Sorcerer.

Nope. Still winning.

Öand, fashionably late to the bloodbath, we have the Chaos playerís Defiler. It, uh, didnít last long. I think it was on the order of 10 seconds from the bulk of my force moving into firing range.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Iíve built a Sacred Artifact and begun buying Commander upgrades and building Apothecaries, because I have nothing better to do with my money Ė or at least nothing else Iím not already doing (like replacing the Predator the AI destroyed).

Iíve also built up an Orbital Relay, which in addition to granting the Force Commander the Orbital Bombardment ability, provides a second build queue which can only be used to build Tactical Squads, Dreadnoughts, and *pfft* Hellfire Dreadnoughts. Which you can then drop onto the field from orbit.

Given my distaste for transport units and how big this map is, you can bet Iím going to make the most of that.

08-20-2008, 09:48 PM
Speaking of dropping units onto the field from orbit, hereís a Dreadnought, complete with orbital drop pod! The Chaos player has rebuilt both of his commanders, and is hitting me with Horrors and Possessed Chaos Marines, the latter of which are horrible, but the fact that I have the weight of numbers as well as vehicles on my side means heís pretty much doomed, barring the Eldar player doing something dramatic to distract me from finishing him off.

Here we see one of the more annoying (but hardly unique - Starcraft had the same problem) aspects of Dawn of War. The ramps leading up to the plateaus on which each player starts are really narrow, which interacts poorly with the gameís sub-par infantry pathfinding. As such, instead of being able to funnel my entire army up onto the plateau to lay waste to the AIís base, I only have a Predator and one squad up there, and predictably, theyíre being slaughtered.

On the upside, my army eventually makes it up the hill, and my Force Commander calls down the Emperorís vengeance on the Traitor Marines in the form of an Orbital Bombardment. Itís a little hard to see, given that your view is being obscured by the Giant Orbital Laser Beam, but the buildings thatís are on fire (or are about to be!) include 3 Heavy bolter turrets and the AIís Chaos Temple.

Also? Orbital Bombardment? Goes on for-freaking-EVER. No, really, the bombardment lasts for half a minute, and will throw your units (or anyone elseís) across the map if they get too close. Itís pretty effective, too, as it destroyed the Chaos Temple & bolter turrets without any significant assistance from my army.

Well, that should be curtains for Chaos.

ÖExcept, of course, this isnít a 1v1 map, and Chaos has cleverly expanded its base to several other areas of the map. Here you can see the pair of Machine Pits which spawned the Defiler I encountered earlier.

And here you see the farm of plasma generators that are providing the power necessary to produce said Defilers, as well as the Sacrificial Circle which produces those damned annoying Horrors.

While my main force trundles off towards the Chaos playerís expansion base (spending an inordinately large amount of time on the ramp, as Space Marines jostle each other and get confused as to which direction theyíre supposed to be going), letís see what the Eldar are doing. Hrm. They seem to be spamming Guardians and Howling Banshees again.

Because that plan worked so well for them last time (and, honestly, because I wanted to see what would happen), I dropped a Dreadnought from orbit and set it loose. This experiment did not end well.

08-20-2008, 09:53 PM
Öfor the Eldar, I mean. The Dreadnought is going to be fine.

Start Time 28:09

30 seconds in
Here we see our hero, Brother Ignatius, flinging the filthy xenos known as Howling Banshees through the air! You will notice that due to the inherent superiority of Imperial technology, the massed fire and melee weapons wielded by the Eldar have availed them little.

Here we see Brother Ignatiusís signature move, in which he impales an enemy of the Imperium on his power claw, and then activates his flamer, flash-frying them. While roasted Eldar is not recommended for human consumption, grilled Kroot tastes like chicken, and is considered a delicacy among Imperial Guard companies stationed on the Eastern Fringe!

On a more serious note, this move here is a Sync Kill. Sync Kills are essentially highly choreographed animations which play when a particular type of unit kills another type of unit in melee combat. A unit thatís in the middle of a sync kill gains immunity to physical damage, but loses any melee cover bonuses it had previously, and can still become broken due to morale damage. (This last is obviously no problem for Brother Ignatius, because heís technically a Vehicle, and has no morale total.) The extended periods of invulnerability produced by Sync Kills are a significant reason why Brother Ignatius ends up doing as well as he does.

2 and a half minutes in
Öand those smears on the ground are the remnants of all the Eldar that were fighting Brother Ignatius before. And yet they keep on coming.

Oh, well. Itís a good thing Brother Ignatius doesnít get tired any more, now that heís permanently sealed into a hybrid casket/battlesuit.

4 minutes in
Dear Emperor, heís still not dead.

How is he not dead? HOW?

4 and a half minutes in
Okay, the AI finally assembled enough Guardians to start wearing Brother Ignatius down, so he could achieve his lifelong goal of a post-posthumous martyrdom in the name of the Emperor. He didnít last much longer than this, but he didnít need to Ė at this point, Iíd already wiped out the Chaos player, and heíd held off the entire Eldar army on his own for five minutes, give or take.

The Imperium salutes you, Brother Ignatius! No Space Marine has ever assembled a larger pile of dead Eldar without assistance!

08-20-2008, 10:28 PM
While Brother Ignatius was carving his legend into history (as well as the bodies of uncountable blasphemous Xenos), my main force was smashing the twin bastions of Chaos remaining on the map. The plasma farm here wasnít so bad, aside from the Sacrificial Circle, so I focused fire on the turrets and the circle, and once they were down, there was nothing left but mopping up.

Here you can see a Terminator Squad, teleported onto the field from my Chapel-Barracks via Deep Strike. Terminators are vastly superior to ordinary Space Marines, having almost 1000 health each with the Bionics upgrade, and dealing a sickening amount of ranged damage. They also come in two varieties, so if youíd prefer a sickening amount of melee damage, the Assault Terminator is for you! The only real drawbacks of Terminators & Assault Terminators are that you get them very late, you can only have one squad of each, and that theyíre extremely slow-moving, even compared to ordinary Marines.

Here you see my forces taking out a pair of listening posts on their way to the final redoubt of Chaos. The single Defiler that the AI could bring against me was more of a speed bump than a credible threat.

Öand here we see Chaosís last two production structures in their natural state, which is to say, on fire.

I wonít bore you with the details. Two AI players down, one to go.

08-20-2008, 10:41 PM
Despite sending wave after wave of their precious warriors to be barbecued on the end of Brother Ignatius’s combat claw, the Eldar player was also cunning enough to come within a few minutes of a Take and Hold Victory. Because losing to the Eldar (and especially *this* Eldar player) would be downright embarrassing, I dispatched a Tactical Squad to recapture Critical Locations so I wouldn’t win every battle and lose the war.

While my main force arrived too late to prevent Brother Ignatius’s second martyrdom, they arrived in sufficient strength that the Eldar never really stood a chance.

Within less than a minute, I’d pushed my force right to their doorstep. And while I wasn’t exactly about to complain about the lack of resistance I was encountering, it was rather puzzling. Usually I’d have expected to see a Wraithlord or two, or possibly even an Avatar of Khaine.

Also, because I had literally nothing else to spend my money on beside upgrades I would never use or that would have bloated my income even farther, I built a Librarian.

This is the “Before” picture for the Eldar base. Notice the complete lack of plasma generators. (Or tech/upgrade structures, which, y’know, cost Power to build…)

This was taken 10 seconds after the “Before” picture.

This was taken 40 seconds after the “Before” picture. Notice how the entire Eldar Army has been smeared across the ground, and how an Orbital Bombardment has set their entire base on fire. This should have been the end of the game.

It wasn’t, of course. For some stupid-ass reason, the game counts Webway Portals as production structures, which means that an Eldar player won’t count as defeated until you destroy the last of said portals, even if they have no units left and can’t create any more.

Time to locate Webway portal: 3 minutes.

Time to blast Webway portal out of existence: 8 seconds.

Feeling of relief at finishing a 40+ minute skirmish game/an 11-game Let's Play: Priceless.

...and that's it. The end. Finis.

Hope you all enjoyed the ride.

08-20-2008, 11:26 PM
That was a rollicking good read. Thanks for doing it.

08-21-2008, 01:10 PM
Great stuff. Don't you just love the computer AI?

Thanks for doing this.

08-21-2008, 01:19 PM
I've been silently lurking this thread. I admit I was skeptical at first (probably because I'm not into RTS games) but it was a good long read. Nicely done, sir!

08-21-2008, 01:29 PM
I wish the AI was a little better, cos I'd finally grab the game and its expansion sets. It always looked exceptionally fun (I like the resource point capturing mechanic, versus the standard gold/mineral + peasant setup).

Anyway, nice job!

08-22-2008, 09:06 PM
Thanks, guys. Glad you enjoyed it.

For those whom this wasn't enough, the most recently posted Tom vs. Bruce is a game of Dawn of War (http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3169246).

Plus, Dawn of War 2 includes Tyranids! Trailer here (http://kotaku.com/5039145/you-seem-to-have-got-tyranids-in-my-dawn-of-war-ii), Gameplay video here (http://kotaku.com/5039376/tyranids-eat-space-marines-in-dawn-of-war-2-trailer).

I'm really looking forward to playing Dawn of War with the Company of Heroes engine.

08-22-2008, 09:53 PM
My greatest problem with Dawn of War II?

No T'au or Necrons.

They may be broken, but they have awesome back story. Almost as awesome and the Orks. (Red makes them go faster!)

Anyway, good play through. It's interesting to see how other people play games. Though the way you played probably shows why I tend not to fair so well in the scrimmage area. I go to tech up immediately, which means I only have a token defense force in the beginning to mid game. You presented an interesting strategy that I may have to borrow when I pick the game back up.

10-27-2008, 02:23 PM
I've been playing the Dark Crusade campaign; I really like this! A marriage of Blizzard mission objectives (assaulting the Necron catacombs to plant the bomb, say) and Total War. As a bonus, when someone attacks my provinces, the exact bases I had built are ready for production. Fantastic.

That said.. man, the Tau don't really seem like they fit 40k. Understand that DOW is pretty much my only 40k experience, and from wiki-reading I guess the Tau were introduced relatively recently as an attempt to cash in on Japamania at the start of the decade.. but even with that they feel totally out of place with the rest of the faction aesthetics.

10-27-2008, 03:01 PM
I've been playing the Dark Crusade campaign; I really like this! A marriage of Blizzard mission objectives (assaulting the Necron catacombs to plant the bomb, say) and Total War. As a bonus, when someone attacks my provinces, the exact bases I had built are ready for production. Fantastic.

That said.. man, the Tau don't really seem like they fit 40k. Understand that DOW is pretty much my only 40k experience, and from wiki-reading I guess the Tau were introduced relatively recently as an attempt to cash in on Japamania at the start of the decade.. but even with that they feel totally out of place with the rest of the faction aesthetics.

Agreed on the Tau. They're really, uh, bright and chipper for 40K. Which isn't to say that their base in Dark Crusade is any less of a complete b*tch to take out.

Did you actually beat the Necron Catacombs, btw? The later home bases and the missions where you don't get a base were what eventually killed the campaign for me. I'm alright with overwhelming odds when I can actually build reinforcements, but when you don't even get production structures (or, in the case of the Tau & Necron bases, enough time to build them)... I could deal with the Chaos & Guard bases, but the Tau & Necrons... man. I dunno what they were thinking with those.

10-27-2008, 03:11 PM
Well. Easy difficulty. I play for time and experience more than challenge, so getting mercilessly beat up is no fun.

I screwed up towards the end, though. Is there no force-attack command in this game? I'm playing Tau (although I might switch, I really am not feeling their tech tree) and I built the.. Kroon? Cultivator? building, which has the big demon anti-vehicle/building unit. Except that, when it spawned, it was STUCK against the side of a chasm. I couldn't find a way to manually kill it to spawn a new one (limit 1), so.. that was frustrating.

Also those Kroon guys have absolutely no morale. FEAR DENIES FAITH!

10-27-2008, 03:28 PM
Well. Easy difficulty. I play for time and experience more than challenge, so getting mercilessly beat up is no fun.

I screwed up towards the end, though. Is there no force-attack command in this game? I'm playing Tau (although I might switch, I really am not feeling their tech tree) and I built the.. Kroon? Cultivator? building, which has the big demon anti-vehicle/building unit. Except that, when it spawned, it was STUCK against the side of a chasm. I couldn't find a way to manually kill it to spawn a new one (limit 1), so.. that was frustrating.

Also those Kroon guys have absolutely no morale. FEAR DENIES FAITH!

Ah, I gotcha. I was foolish and started playing on Normal. (Normal is surprisingly hard.)

I think the Delete key (next to End and Insert) will just kill off your own units if you need to free up your CP or get stuck.

10-27-2008, 03:32 PM
I played through DOW and Winter Assault on Normal, and figured.. meh. =p Grabbed all three in the platinum pack.. I guess Soulstorm does the same kind of campaign dealie, but I'm waiting for it to hit bargain bin before grabbing it.

10-28-2008, 11:09 AM
Hey look at me I'm a dick! Because I'm correcting you for calling it Kroon, they're Kroot.

10-28-2008, 11:12 AM
That said.. man, the Tau don't really seem like they fit 40k. Understand that DOW is pretty much my only 40k experience, and from wiki-reading I guess the Tau were introduced relatively recently as an attempt to cash in on Japamania at the start of the decade.. but even with that they feel totally out of place with the rest of the faction aesthetics.

The don't really fit, Games Workshop introduced the Tau when GW opened up in Japan. They wanted there to be a force that the Japanese could identify with. So the Tau were created. They've gone through a couple of changes since their inception, with GW hinting at a hidden darkness amongst the Tau. I keep hoping that they'll get rid of them, but no such luck as the Tau get all sorts of special stuff, all the time, Forgeworld loves those guys

10-28-2008, 04:09 PM
Oh, I know I was getting the name wrong, which is why I wrote it Kroon(?), suggesting that someone should correct me. =p

10-28-2008, 06:16 PM
No way are they getting rid of the Tau. It's pretty clear if they are theoretically going to kill off one of the armies is will be Dark Eldar. I'm not even sure that's very likely. It's the armies that serve as a the "hook" to get players into the game, and the more possible hooks the better. I have 2750 points worth of Tau myself. The Tau also have had one of the most intelligent communities in the hobby!

Mech Tau for life!

PS, realy enjoyed the let's plays here. I never played these games so it's fun to see what it's like. It's a shame that vehicles are so downplayed. They didn't have to be balanced that way in my opinion. Just the other night my Warboss one shotted a Predator Tank, and I guarantee that wont be happening in the computer game!

10-28-2008, 10:26 PM
No way are they getting rid of the Tau. It's pretty clear if they are theoretically going to kill off one of the armies is will be Dark Eldar. I'm not even sure that's very likely. It's the armies that serve as a the "hook" to get players into the game, and the more possible hooks the better. I have 2750 points worth of Tau myself. The Tau also have had one of the most intelligent communities in the hobby!Dark Eldar have been all but dead for years. We haven't gotten any new molds since the initial batch back in '98, I believe. And no new rules in a good 6-7 years. I've got about 3-4k points sitting on the shelf behind me as I type this and I don't think a point of the army has changed in half a decade...

Sad space elf is sad now.

EDIT: Besides, the Tau are very dark when you think about it. They're doomed. Doomed doomed doomed. And the poor bastards don't have a clue it's coming because of their optimistic outlook on everything. At least everyone else is properly emo about it (maybe not the `nids... maybe some geenstealers that cut themselves and hope for the best mutations to grow out...).

10-29-2008, 05:49 PM
More Dark Crusade musing.

Are the Necrons this crazy-cheap in tabletop? You only need a handful of resource points to hit 100% production, and then you pump out some power generators. They seem to be immune to morale damage, and super-tough to boot, PLUS the chance to auto-res.. The units are pretty boring, not a lot of variety there, but apparently they don't freaking need it. -.-

I do like the flavour of their HQ, though. You're rebuilding an old ruin, powering it back up and all. My games didn't last long enough to get all the necropolis upgrades and try the building teleportation.

Still haven't touched eldar, due to my deep and abiding hatred of all things elfy.

10-29-2008, 08:19 PM
Are the Necrons this crazy-cheap in tabletop?

While I've never played 40K tabletop, everything I've heard from my co-workers who do suggests that the answer is "yes".

10-29-2008, 10:39 PM
Yeah, along with space marines they make a good beginner army. They have comparable armor saves (to marines), and the best infantry weapons in the game, which can even take out armored vehicles with massed fire.

They come back to life 50% of the time I think, though you can boost this ability with Necron Lord wargear or Tomb Spiders. And they can teleport back to the monolith at any point.

The basic troops really do form the core of this army, which is uncommon in 40k where people tend to spend more points on exciting elite/fast attack/heavy support units. One reason for this is that if you deplete the necron warrior models in play by 50% YOU WIN INSTANTLY as the whole army teleports away for repairs deep underground/out in a spaceship. It is meant to be the balance for such incredible units.

Still, a good Necron player turns the game into a veritable gordians knot for the other player. You probably need to kill the scarabs his Tomb Spiders are spamming so you can have a crack at the warriors, who are coming back to life 50% or more of the time, and who can retreat to the monolith if things get dicey. Meanwhile you may get flanked by hard to kill Wraiths, incredibly fast nitro-boosting Destroyers, or deepstriking Flayers or MONOLITHS. Yeah, their whole uber-vehicle HQ can deep strike.

Since a game of 40k is 6 game turns average, it's easy to see how you would have to be VERY decisive to not just get worn out by the necrons. They don't really even have to work for it sometimes.

Edit: I could probably write a mini-rant about how each of the armies could be exploited, so it's all in good fun. It's blatantly obvious that the armies are poorly balanced, but the game is about so much more than that.