With at least one win under my belt for the first day I was hopeful my confidence could carry me through the next few games as I prepared to face an Eldar list with Imperial Guard Allies. This would be my first ever game against a Wraigthknight, and he was backed up by two Dire Avenger filled Wave Serpents, Outflanking War Walkers, Deep Striking Warp Spiders and cherry picked Astra Miltarum Manticore, Command Squad and Meltagun wielding Veterans in a Valkyrie. A Farseer in a Jetbike squad rounded out the more mobile section of my opponent's forces.
With six objectives to cover in the Maelstrom of War: Contact Lost mission on a very awkwardly arranged Hammer and Anvil Deployment (short table edges) I hoped to hug the pipeline in the centre while remaining mobile enough to cover the two or three central objectives. My Scouts started in the far corner behind the green tank, and with Tactical Objectives generated based on units holding objectives I hoped they would remain out of sight and mind for the duration of the battle.
I neglected to snap a picture of my opponent's deployment and instead took the opportunity of shaking things up by placing my Drop Pod dead centre of the far objective, denying any scoring opportunities for all but Objective Secured Wave Serpents. My Furioso promptly hopped out and scored First Blood on the Jetbikes with the assistance of the Scouts and Baal/Land Raider/Attack Bike Heavy Bolters. I believe Slay the Warlord was also secured in this turn with the loss of the Farseer, but I ended the first turn quite a few points ahead thanks to generous Tactical Objectives cards as per my previous game. Now I had to sit tight and wait for the retaliation!
After some judicious re-positioning the Furioso took very few shots to bring down, and the Drop Pod was ignored thanks to Objective-Secured as mentioned. The far Wave Serpent zoomed off across the battlefield hunting scouts, while the deployed War Walkers and Wrathknight did little against a jinking Attack Bike and distant heavier Blood Angels Armour. The Manticore missed most of its shots though knocked a few Hull Points from the Imperial Knight.
With most of my mobility unbelievably intact I raced forward to start my following turn on top of objectives, hoping my heavier armour would shield the worst of the incoming firepower. Forgetting entirely about Deep Striking Warp Spiders and Outflanking War Walkers with Lance weaponry I pointed my army at the depleted (but still strong) enemy and held my breath for the chance to charge the Wraightknight with my own Knight or embarked Inquisitor/Captain/Librarian. My Attack Bike turbo-boosted forward to claim an objective (which was unfortunately prevented by a menacingly close Wraithknight) and the victory points ticked over for the rest of my army as I drew even more lucky cards.
Cue the little violins as the rest of the pointy ears arrived, wrecking or immobilising all of my transports. Combined firepower from the War Walkers, Manticore, Warp Spiders and Wraithknight were enough to stop my Rhino and Land Raider in their tracks, while the Tactical Marines with only a Heavy Flamer bundled out of their smoking Razorback onto open ground with next to no backup. The Wraithknight held back as my opponent kept his cool and I generally fumbled around, forgetting to take a photo of my own turn as I attempted to out-shoot the Eldar army from the cover of a few packing crates and broken pipes!
The following movement phase he turned it up to eleven, with the Valkyrie and Meltagun-Vets catching my enthusiastic Knight off guard. I had removed the objective sitting Command Squad by this mid-game position, and he had taken care of my Scouts so we were both running out of 'easy' scoring and card generating options. It was at this stage (he later confessed) that he switched to trying to table me as he felt the Victory Points had gotten away from him. Either way it started to unravel quite cinematically!
The Manticore fired its last rocket into the mass of red in the middle of the table, killing off most of the Assault Squad but leaving the Captain alive, while the Warp Spiders removed the last Rhino from the board leaving a single Marine standing. With so many weapons aimed at the Imperial Knight he was down to only one Hull Point when the Wraithknight charged in. The ensuing combat was quick and decisive, and the Blood Angels and Imperial Guard Veterans fared just as poorly in the resulting explosion.
With only a few turns remaining I had hoped to hold on, and did just what my main squad was designed to do, charge in and kill Monstrous Creatures! With high Initiative and number of Attacks thanks to the bonuses from Psychic Powers, a reduction in Toughness due to Rad Grenades, Furious Charge increasing my Strength, and re-rolls form Hatred thanks to Liber Heresius it took only my Captain's attacks to send the Wraithknight back to the spirit world once more. What a suitably epic end to the game, and another example of why I am loving gaming in 7th Edition so much!
After a few group shots of the victors and general posturing in the centre of the table, one turn of enemy shooting was enough to remove all the Blood Angels from the battlefield and give the game to my opponent. It was my favourite game of the tournament (though the following day's games were equally close and epic) and one I will remember for a long time. This game is definitely an example of "forging the narrative" (even if my stomach turns a little typing that over-used phrase), and in a minimal-restriction tournament setting no less! I will definitely have to put a Manticore on my future must-have list...