About colinh1972

Historian, English teacher, wargamer, roleplayer and reenactor. In the words of Zaphod Beeblebrox's psychiatrist "He's just this guy, you know."

The return of the 501st

There had been a time when the name of the 501st was legend. Their reputation caused even the bravest enemy to tremble. The invincible 501st had once been viewed as death incarnate, but that was many years ago. Campaigning far from Cadia, they had been unable to help when their homeworld fell. Then they had been sent to help turn the world of Gwyr into a new fortress world, as a bastion against the forces of chaos spewing from the vast rift in space. But the forces of chaos seem to have had no interest in Gwyr, leaving the 501st to drill, train and prepare for a war that never came. For four generations they waited. Their officers were drawn from the children of the original Cadian troops, but the rank and file were drawn from the local Gwerin. Yet they still remained as proud and dedicated as ever.  But that was about to change.

The immortal saint, Celestine was gathering forces for the campaign to determine the fate of Kondor. Both Gwyr and Hurst had large garrisons and she planned to take one of those forces with her, leaving the others to guard both worlds. The proud Lord Castellans of both worlds begged for the opportunity to take up arms alongside her. Not wanting to insult the brave soldiers of either world, she decided upon a contest. Both armies would field a single batallion against the other in battle. The Winning side would get to join her in the battle for Kondor.

Finally, after 4 years away, I have returned to my old Imperial Guard army (I’m too old-school to call them Astra Militarum). I had not played them since 6th edition, and even then had played only 1 or 2 games. Today was the first chance I had to play them in a very long time. I had arranged a game against a marine player, who had to cancel. another guard player had arranged a game shortly afterwards against an opponent who had to cancel. So we arranged to play a 1500 point game against each other, even though we were both guard players and had both been expecting to play against very different lists.

My force was as follows:

Knight commander Pask in an executioner, with plasma sponsons.

Leman Russ Punishers with 2 heavy bolters, lascannon and heavy stubber.

Leman Russ with battle cannon and 3 heavy bolters.

Manticore with heavy bolter.

Hellhound with heavy bolter.

Scout sentinel with heavy flamer.

chimera

Company commander

command squad with heavy flamer, company standard and vox caster

Lord commisar with power fist

Infantry squad with grenade launcher and vox caster

infantry squad with flamer, sergeant with bolt pistol

Infantry squad with flamer, sergeant with bolter

special weapon squad with 3 flamers

heavy weapon squad with 3 missile launchers

heavy weapon squad with 3 mortars (I had overspent here, as i thought it was 4 points per person, rather than per base)

10 ratling snipers.

I had 7 command points.

My opponent has a batallion, and a high command led by Creed, with a lot more infantry than me, 5 primaris psykers, lots of officers and a staggering 15 command points.

When rolling for objective, we got one which gave us kill points for each unit destroyed, which would not usually favour a guard player.

Turn 1: I finished first and despite rerolling, my opponent failed to steal the initiative.

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My first turn showed me just how little I knew about 8th ed. I tried to get my scout sentinel and hellhoud to advance, thinking that heavy flamer weapons were all still assault weapons, rather than heavy. The result was two vehicles parked next to the enemy, unable to do anything useful. I thought that Pask and tank commanders could order themselves. Aparently a FAQ said they can’t, but as my plasma tank required the ability to reroll 1st to be worth using, my opponent allowed me to get Pask to order himself, as long as his Pask could do the same.

In the first round of shooting Pask’s tank damaged and my Manticore destroyed one enemy Leman russ, my mortars and missile launchers blew up quite a few troops and my other tanks moved forward and shot a bit at the infantry, killing some more of them. The ratlings brought a company commander down to 1 wound.

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My opponent concentrated a lot of firepower and psychic attacks on the Hellhound and sentinel. He managed to destroy the sentinel and his mortars killed 3 ratlings. His conscripts advanced, aided by a commissar. His scout sentinel tried to assault the Hellhound, to lock it in melee, but the hellhound destroyed the sentinel in overwatch. Saint Celestine and her follower assaulted my punisher tank, damaging it a little.

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Turn 2:

My command squad, commander, lord commissar and special weapon team disembarked from the Chimera and moved towards the conscripts. My Hellhound advanced and killed a primaris psyker, as well as finishing off the injured commander, while my ratlings took out a second psyker. Pask’s tank and the manticore blasted at the enemy tank commander, bringing him to 4 wounds. The flamers rolled very badly on their attack, only killing 2 conscripts. My mortars, missiles and tank finished off the two infantry squads that I had attacked the round before. I decided to leave my Punisher tank in melee with Celestine, to tie her up. She inflicted another small wound to it.

 

My opponent’s reserves now came in. A squad of Militarum Tempestus and some rough riders. The militarum tempestus squad attacked Pask’s tank, doing a little damage. His autocannons took out my flamer squad. The rough riders assaulted my rocket launcher squad, wiping them out. Celestine withdrew from combat and tried to flamer my Manticore, doing nothing. The conscripts were ordered to rapid fire and gunned down an infantry squad, then assaulted my command squad, but inflicted no casualties. The psykers concentrated on the Hellhound, destroying it, but causing it to explode, injuring 3 officers, a sentinel, an infantry unit and the mortar team. The rest of his troops shot various units, killing a few infantry and 3 more ratlings.

Turn 3:

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my command squad, but not the officers, returned to the chimera, which moved to attack and kill another primaris psyker. The Manticore shot Celestine, killing her follower (temporarily). The tanks on the right flank gunned down more infantry, while the snipers finished an injured primaris. My Pask finished off the enemy Pask. In melee I killed some more conscripts, with the aid of the remnants of an infantry squad.

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Celestine’s minion respawned and they assaulted my commanders, killing the lord commissar. All the officers and the last psyker near the chimera assaulted it, destroying it. The remaining units shot fairly ineffectively, picking off a few men here or there.

Turn 4:

On the right flank I gunned down most of the remaining infantry, leaving only 2 men, who my infantry squad assaulted and routed. Pask gunned down the militarum tempestus squad with ease, my command squad killed an officer and then assaulted the last psyker, but failed to wound him. In the big melee my commander was being lucky on his invulnerable saves, but his troops were nearly all wiped out. The Manticore used it’s last missile to target a heavy weapon team, reducing them to 1 man on 1 wound.

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Creed came up from behind cover, the last man on the right flank. He gunned down two guardsmen, assaulted and killed the other two. celestine, the commissar and an officer killed my commander between them. The psyker took out the command squad.

Turn 5:

There was very little left to kill. Pask destroyed the last sentinel and shot Celestine ineffectively.

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My Punisher wiped out the last infantry squad, while the other leman russ shot the last autocannon operator and one of the officers near Celestine. Between the ratlings and the manticore I also took out another platoon commander. My mortar crew blasted Creed into oblivion.

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Celestine moved to kill the last ratlings with her flamer and attacked Pask, reducing him to 3 wounds. The commissar and injured primaris did little except run for cover.

We decided to end there, rather than rolling to continue.

Final Result: victory points

Cadian 501st :18 (at least, I may have forgotten to count some officers etc)

Other Cadians: 13

Victory!

Review: I definitely messed up at the start, not knowing that heavy flamers were mow heavy, rather than assault, but the rest of the battle went well, with no major tactical mistakes.

By the end the only threat on the battlefield was Celestine, in one corner, while my tanks completely dominated the rest of the battlefield. My opponent still had 2 of his mortar team, a badly injured psyker and a commissar, but nothing else that was likely to harm my tanks. 1 more round would have killed everything except Celestine, who is extremely hard to kill.

My opponent had a lot more individual characters than me, which meant that I had a big advantage when it came to kill points, but he really didn’t have enough heavy weaponry to take out all the armour that I had on the battlefield. I like this army list. I need to move Pask to a different tank, so that he can give orders to my plasma tank, but I like the staying power of the tanks. I found the ratlings to be very effective for a 50 point unit as too were the mortar team. both units were cheap, but very effective. The manticore’s destructive ability is pretty random, but it is potentially my most destructive unit. Each missile does about as much damage as the plasma Leman Russ, without the danger of 3 plasma weapons that might overheat and for far fewer points.

I like the primaris psykers. their ability to inflict D3 mortal wounds was very effective when there were so many of them. I may try fielding some myself.

All in all, a very satisfying game. However, with so many models, it took us about 4 hours to set up and play.

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8th Ed debut game

As the Manta drew close to the drop zone Shas’O Kho’Lyn prepared himself for battle. The Guer’la colonies were being torn apart by civil war, since the emergence of the cultists. This meant both an opportunity and a new threat for the forces of the T’au. It left the planetary defences disorganized, allowing an easier attack, but it also meant that the planet was at risk of being overrun by tyrranids; something which the T’au could not risk.

An alarm klaxon sounded, signalling the drop and Kho’Lyn plunged into the abyss below, followed by his strike team. Relayed information from the fire warriors below showed that the Guer’la had a tank batallion moving through the drop area. A stealth team was located nearby. 

“Shas’O Kholin to Shas’Vre Aum’ka, I need a beacon close to that armour. We are inbound.”

“Roger that.” replied the Shas’vre. 

As the battlefield drew closer, Kho’Lyn’s suit registered a marker beacon and he fired his guidance thrusters, to manouver towards it. They were coming in fast, but kicked in the landing thrusters, just in time, to bring them to a stop within a few dozen meters of the tank column. Immediately, he and the supporting crisis squad opened fire with their fusion blasters, turning the first tank into molten slag before the guer’la knew what had hit them. The tanks tried to retaliate, but the gun drones supporting the squad jetted forward, to screen the suits from weapon fire. Several of them were incinerated by bolter and plasma fire, but neither Kho’Lyn or his Crisis squad took any damage.

Hitting their thrusters, they jetted forward, closing with the other tanks and causing the closest to explode in a gout of plasma and flame.

This battle would not take long.  

I have been very excited by everything I had read about 8th Edition and so, although I was bust preparing to move country, I desperately wanted to have a game of 8th Ed before I left. My opponent was the same GSC player who I had overwhelmingly defeated a few weeks earlier. We were playing a quick power levels game, with 50 points each.

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My force was led by a commander and a Cadre Fireblade. The fireblade started in a Devilfish, with a breacher team. I had a stealth suit squad infiltrating and a pathfinder team with rail guns. My commander had four fusion blasters. Each crisis suit had two fusion blasters. One had adrone controller and the other had a flamer each. I had a squad of 12 gun drones and both the commander and the crisis suits had marker drones. The commander, the crisis suits and the drones were held for a manta strike.

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My opponent had 3 Leman Russ tanks armed with lots of plasma. One of them had a tank commander. He also had a very large conscript force led by an officer, a commissar and a lord commissar. His force was rounded off by a squad of armoured sentinels armed with plasma. Although themed as part of his GSC force, they were using the regular Astra Militarum rules.

Turn 1: This was a learning game for both of us. I think it was Leon’s third game and my first. I’m really not sure if we did the set up properly, but I managed to finish deployment first. I think that we should have set up each squad, one at a time, rather than allowing my Devilfish and passengers to be set up as 1 unit. All Leon’s force was placed on the board and my army had 3 units in reserve and just over half on the board. We did have a scenario with objectives, but we both quickly forgot all about them, being more interested in seeing how the armies can fight under the new rules.

I got to go first and moved my stealth suits forwards, staying in a building, to set up their beacon. My devilfish also raced forward. Then my crisis suits and commander dropped down, close to the stealth suits, but within 9″ of the closest tank. My drones also came down close to the tanks, and the sentinels.

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My marker drones got 1 hit on a tank and then my crisis suits opened fire. They scored 3 hits on the tank and rolling twice for damage, destroyed it outright. The commander fired at another tank, damaging it, but not badly. The drones targeted the sentinels, but only inflicted 1 wound, despite a huge number of shots. The rail rifle pathfinders killed 1 of the conscripts.

My opponent retaliated, overcharging his plasma weapons and blasting my crisis suits. He rolled badly and only scored a few hits, but 2 drones got in the way, taking the damage. His sentinels advanced on my drones, firing their plasma weapons and then assaulted, destroying 3 drones and routing 2 more. His conscripts advanced an fired at the Devilfish, but only inflicted 1 wound.

Turn 2:

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My drones fell back from melee and my crisis suits and stealth suits advanced. The remaining marker light drones got 1 hit on the closest tank and the crisis suits blasted it, causing it to explode. The Cadre Fireblade, from the right flank, was able to score a marker light hit on the sentinels. The remaining drones fired at the sentinels, destroying One. My commander blasted another sentinel, causing it to explode, damaging another and killing a drone. The stealth suits shot the last sentinel, but didn’t quite destroy it..

Across the battlefield the breacher team and fireblade deployed in front of the conscripts and moved forward. The pathfinders scored 1 hit on the conscripts. I only then realised that the cadre fireblade could not give extra shots to the breacher time. His ability only worked for pulse rifles and carbines, such as the drones had. Despite this, they opened fire, killing many of the 30 conscripts. The rail rifles killed a few more and the devilfish, with it’s drones boosted by the fireblade, killed many more. The Lord Commisar shot a single man, preventing the last few conscripts from running.

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My opponent shot at my breacher team, killing 2 of them. The sentinel killed 1 more drone and the tank commander’s shots were soaked by another 2 drones.

Turn 3:

By this point it was hardly worth continuing. My forces advanced again. The breacher team finished off the last few conscripts. The fireblade lit up the sentinel, allowing the commander to easily kill it. Before the rest of my units had fired at the remaining officers and tank my opponent surrendered.

Result: Overwhelming T’au victory

Analysis: There are probably some things that we were doing wrong. For example, I definitely forgot to add the +1 to hit to my marker drones a few times and forgot about Montka etc. My opponent decided to give his tanks more infantry support in later games and found them far more effective that way. Despite any mistakes, the battle was clearly one sided. If we were playing a points game, I probably had about 40% more than my opponent, which shows that the power levels are not an accurate way to balance games for units with lots of upgrade options.

The army I used was very similar to the sort of force I would generally use and it worked extremely well. Previously my commander would usually have acted as a shield for the drones and boosted them a lot. Now it was the drones serving as a shield. Fusion blasters are still the best weapon for tank hunters and having such effective drone bodyguards keeps the crisis suits alive a lot more. I love the way drones work in the new rules. 4 shots each. 6 is close to a fireblade.

Despite them doing badly, there was a lot I liked about my opponent’s army. The armoured sentinels were very hard to kill. I think they would have done really well if they were armed with flamers instead of plasma. The lord commissar’s ability to stop a route by only killing 1 person was very cool and worked very well with his cheap troop option. 

I had heard a lot of speculation that T’au would be nerfed in the new edition. The crazy overpowered deathballs are gone, crisis suits are more expensive and more tactical play is needed, but it seems that T’au work very well fighting exactly the way T’au should. Shooting, falling back and shooting some more.

 

 

Thoughts on 8th edition

GW has put a lot into hyping up 8th edition and inevitably there is a lot of chat about it. I feel that I may as well post a few of my thoughts on what we have heard so far.

teasers: The first obvious difference is that way the rules are being slowly revealed. With 6th edition the store owners only knew a release was coming just before it happened and had almost no idea of content. 7th was really just a much needed patch job on 6th edition. This time it is different. It is the biggest rules change in a very long time and they want people to be ready. Instead of a surprise reveal, they are letting people understand the core mechanics a little at a time, which is a great idea.

All new codexes: This is necessary for a big rules shake-up, but frustrating for people who have just bought a new codex. However, it is definitely good for game balance. Some of my friends play Sisters of Battle and are still using a 4th edition codex, while I use my 7th ed Tau codex, with lots of juicy formations. When 7th ed came out, the first few formations were very balanced, but then the demons got a very powerful codex and then Necrons got all their cool, special decurion formations and things got worse from there. there is a tendency for new codexes to be overpowered, to encouraging buying the models. A fresh start means we get a balanced playing field. It also means nobody is left behind. When 6th ed brought in flyers, they were a game changer. Unless you had a new codex your army probably had nothing that could hurt them. People needed new codexes, with their own anti-aircraft weaponry and upgrades in order to fight them. They forced a rush to buy new models, but they destroyed game balance for years, while people waited for new codexes. With a clean sweep and a fresh start every army should, in theory, be on an even footing.

New armour rules: The combat rules all seem to follow quite closely to Age of Sigmar.  Clearly this was used for testing what worked well and what didn’t. The things people objected to, like no toughness, are being changed. The things that worked well are remaining. The armour save modifier for weapons is a good idea. You no longer have the all or nothing armour save. Your AP 6 does nothing, your AP 5 does nothing, your AP 4 does nothing, your AP 3 ignores the armour. Hardly. Much better to have an improved chance of punching through, but still allowing some save.

Cover saves: In the old game having marines in cover was utterly useless, except against heavy weapons. Standing a few feet away or hidden in a building. It made no difference. You had the same chance to hit or wound. A tank blows up the building, suddenly the armour is useless, but it’s ok. I’m hiding… really?

Under the new rules the shots are as likely to hit, but the walls might get in the way, so the cover save is a bonus to armour. I was expecting cover to give a penalty to accuracy, but when you see how it works with heavy weapons, it makes sense why it was added to armour. The tank blows up the building, blasting the walls apart, rocks fall, suddenly your armour is not as much help. A las cannon hits, melting through the wall in front of you, along with the armour. It makes sense and seems like a good mechanic to use. It also encourages everyone to use cover more.

No initiative: This rule was probably more for balance than any attempt at realism. In reality a charging person has no real advantage. The defenders have a tighter formation, can shoot the attackers. In an ancient army they can lock shield and set spears. Charging downhill can be good, charging uphill is stupid. Charging on the flat gives no real advantage.

Orcs are a melee army, but are soft and squishy. In the past if Orcs charged Tyranids or demons they would be ripped to pieces before landing a blow. Now whoever managed to line themselves up, ready to charge goes first. I guess this means the countercharge rule is gone. Is this realistic? No. Is it balanced? I don’t know.

In AoS the players alternate attacks, starting with the player whose turn it was to assault. In 8th edition all charging units act first. The difference is that 40K has overwatch. AoS does not. This rule is meant to balance out the combat, but it could skew it in favor of melee armies. It will certainly be good news for the Orcs and Necrons. Since most melee armies already have good initiative, it will probably not change that much for anyone else.

No templates: I liked templates. They gave a great element of luck, but I can see why.  They led to arguments about how many people were under the template. They slowed gameplay and sometimes the rule holes made them absurdly powerful. What do you mean, the template hits every level of the building? But those guys on the top are more than 12″ up. Your template is only 8″ long. Really? Ok. So, your one flamer has just taken out my four squads. Damn you GW! (In 5th ed it was the opposite. The blast hits the building, covering where the whole unit is, but as the unit is split between levels it can only hit a fraction of the unit). The lack of templates will speed up the game and reduce arguments.

No Formations: Really? Ok. Some formations are pretty broken. They give a lot of power to the units in them, as long as you fit the formation. They encouraged themed armies, but they broke the game balance. Scrapping all the existing formations means you still have the same themed armies, but without extra special benefits. However, Age of Sigmar has formations, so I expect that there will be new formations coming back to 40K. The only difference is that we will need to spend points for the special benefits being offered.

Vehicles and monstrous creatures: The line between these was always a bit blurred. A dreadnought is a vehicle but a riptide is a monstrous creature.  Ratling snipers can easily gun down a riptide, but are useless against the dreadnought. Why? Is there really such a difference? Now they are both being merged into having the same rules, like the AoS behemoth. They will have lots of wounds and may have lots of attacks. Getting rid of the distinction is definitely a good thing for game balance and should speed up gameplay. However, the AoS leagues showed that big behemoths and behemoth HQ armies dominated the game. I hope the 8th ed designers have managed to bring a bit more balance to the rules.

Independent characters: This is one that no news has been released about yet, but it is likely to be the biggest game changer. In AoS the heroes can not join a unit. they are always separate. They may offer benefits to nearby units, but those benefits are not usually overpowering. (bonus on attack rolls, bonus on morale etc). In 7th ed an independent character bestows many abilities on a squad. Shadowsun can make any unit have stealth, shrouded and infiltrate. the leaders can be massive force multipliers. They are also great meat shields.

I like to use a Tau commander with viridium armour and a drone controller along with a squad of drones. Not only does this give a 150% upgrade to the drone shooting ability, but it also gives them a 2+ armour save, buy getting him to lead the way. If any AP2 weapons are fired, the drones give him a 2+ look out sir. It vastly improves the durability and firepower of the squad.

If the HQ cannot join a squad then it means no deathballs. No piling on cool upgrades. The opponent can simply shoot past the commander and gun down the drones instead. If the HQ is a squishy summoner they usually need a unit to act as meat shields. Now anybody can pick them off. If 8th ed follows AoS and keeps the hero or HQ out of the unit, then it will make a huge difference to how they are used in the game. I can see a lot more officers getting picked off, not only by snipers, but by massed infantry fire, in preference to shooting the infantry.

I look forward to seeing the final rules, but so far, from what I have read, it really does seem like the GW hype is telling the truth. This probably will be the best ever edition of 40K.

 

Since I wrote this, GW released an update on Independent Characters, showing that they will be treated in much the way I expected. Limiting only snipers and units for whom they are the closest enemy being able to shoot them was also a good decision.

This really looks like it will be the best 40K ever.

White Ghosts

“A fire warrior must learn the two key principles of warfare. The patient hunter and the deathstrike. Kauyon and Mont’ka. There is no Tau who has greater mastery of the Mont’ka than Commander Shadowsun.”

“There are some among our enemies who have achieved great skill in ambush. For example, the mutants known as Gene Stealer Cults, who have spread to some of the Guer’la worlds under our control. But no matter how skillfully the ambush is laid the key is surprise. If your ambush is not a surprise then it will fail.”

“Let me tell you of the time I fought alongside Commander Shadowsun at the Dongjiaotou uprising.”

Last weekend I had a 1250 point game against a Genestealer cult army. My opponent was playing a decurion formation with a lot of cheap infantry units. My own force was a themed CAD. A stealth army, based around commander Shadowsun. Two squads of stealth suits, a squad of sniper drones, with two spotters, a breacher team in a devilfish and a small firewarrior squad with a defence turret and two of forgeworld’s Remora stealth drone fighters. At the core of the army, taking up over half my points, was a super deathball with 5 crisis suits (two with fusion blasters, two with airbursting fragmentation launchers and one buffbunny), along with 10 gun drones, commander shadowsun and a second commander with fusion blasters a drone controller and counterfire defence and two spotter drones.

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We were playing The Scouring game, with 6 objectives of varying value.

My opponent got the initiative and set up first, placing two armoured sentinels, with lascannons, near an objective marker and deploying 1 squad of cultists in the corner, to prevent me infiltration on his flank. I deployed my devilfish and placed the small firewarrior team in a crater, by an objective.

I then started deploying infiltrators, placing my deathball in an area of craters on the middle of the battlefield. My opponent then brought in the first of his infiltrators. My stealth suits and sniper drones were all set up in cover and a vast horde of gene stealers and cultists were mostly set up withing a few inches of my units. Fortunately only two units of them were able to assault this turn. Some of my crisis suits could use interceptor, but our judge decreed that interceptor would not work against cult ambush. Some of the interceptors were able to shoot and due to some lucky rolls they killed two stealth suits in one of my stealth suit teams.

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Turn 1:

The most important single dice roll of the game. I rolled a six and stole initiative. This allowed me to pile a lot of shots into the GSC. My sniper drones and spotters shot past my deathball, at the large gene stealer formations opposite, giving an extra marker light. Then my crisis suits fired their airburst fragmentation launchers, scattering onto the larger gene stealer horde, killing 15 of them, while my drones gunned down the front line, who were the ones able to charge. My fusion blaster suits with target lock and Shadowsun shot at a squad of 5 tougher looking mutants, with 2 wounds each, killing them all. My stealth suits shot 7 out of 10 cultists in a squad, routing them. My devilfish deployed the breachers who gunned down another squad. The drones and the devilfish shot at a separate squad, killing several cultists and routing them. There were over 30 cultists or gene stealers killed, but a lot still on the board.

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The psyker rolled 1 for warp charge and snake eyes to try to use a power. The cultists then returned fire. At the bottom of the board, some unlucky cover saves allowed the cultists and sentinels to take out my stealth suits. The shots at my deathball proved ineffective and the squad shooting at my other stealth suit on my end of the board inflicted no damage. A small squad charged my deathball, but the sniper spotters scored 1 marker hit, allowing my drones and commander to fire overwatch at BS3, killing them all.

Turn 2:

One of my Remora came on, zooming fast across the board. It shot at the same unit as the sniper team, allowing the marker lights to boost its accuracy. Between them they killed all but the sorceror. I decided to detatch my commander, so that his marker drones could light up the gene stealers and my deathball fired at the remains of the large gene stealer formation, wiping it out completely, leaving only the few cultists that had retreated behind it. I was stunned at how quickly I had killed them all.

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I was stunned at how quickly I was eradicating my opponent’s army. On my end of the board the breacher team advanced and wiped out another small squad of cultists.

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The sentinels shot my commander and I allowed him to take the two hits. A squad of 5 gene stealer cultists moved to attack my commander, but I got the deathball to aid him in overwatch, gunning them down. I wanted the guys with target lock to overwatch against a different target, but was told they couldn’t. My snipers fired overwatch at the lone psyker, killing him. The three cultists rallied and charged my deathball. 4 drones died from dangerous terrain tests, moving to counterattack the cultists, but my crisis suits easily crushed the cultists.

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Turn 3:

Let’s be honest. There was no doubt how the game would end. My second Remora came on and raced forward. There were only 2 sentinels, 3 survivors of a previously routed unit that had rallied and 1 squad of 10 cultists in the corner. My deathball advanced on the cultists and 1 of the crisis suits got within range, killing half the squad with his fragmentation launchers. One remora shot a further two cultists.

 

My commander and the other remora advanced on the sentinels.

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The commander fired first, causing one sentinel to explode and scoring two marker light hits. as they were a squad, this allowed the Remora to easily gun down the remaining sentinels, using both its seeker missiles for good measure and blowing it sky high.

My opponent only had 3 cultists left and decided that they would return to shadows, leaving the battlefield free of enemies and giving me the game.

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Result: Overwhelming Tau victory.

In the whole game I only lost 5 stealth suits from shooting and 4 drones from terrain. My list had a lot of firepower with a lot of ways to augment that firepower. Although they were not crucial to the game, i loved the Remora drones. Combined with the marker lights, they worked very well. Obviously the high points deathball was a huge gamble. Getting shrouded and stealth made them extremely hard to kill with shooting attacks, but they would be vulnerable in close combat. Had I not stolen initiative, I think the game would have been a lot closer.

My deathball has a huge weakness; melee. If an armoured sentinel or a deadnought etc got into melee against us, I had nothing at all that could harm it. Just moving to counter a charge caused nearly half of my casualties for the game. However, the effect that it produced when shooting was, to be quite honest, obscene. That sort of unit may be great for tournaments, but it makes the game less fun.

I hear that 8th edition will not have the same sort of deathballs. I think this is great news. I would much prefer a well balanced game, with everything playing a part and a need for tactical gameplay, rather than relying on overpowered units.

Bloodbowl: Skaven vs Chaos Dwarves

“Welcome sports Fans! Well, what a game that was. We had thrills, we had spills and we had a healthy dose of gratuitous brutality. I’m Ken Krippler and in this part of the show we will review the game from the perspective of our winning team, the Reikland River Rats. We are joined by the team coach and Greyseer, Pyrhus Palepaws. Tell me Pyrhus, did you predict that victory?”

“I always predict victory, for the Great Horned Rat has shown me visions of how my team will be invincible this season.”

“Well, that’s great to know for all those Rats fans out there. So what did you think of your teams performance today?”

“I was pleased with the result, but disappointed by those malingerers, taken off in stretchers. None of their wounds were fatal. They should have been able to get back into the game.”

“Yes… perhaps. Your team often suffered serious casualties during their qualifying matches. Does this worry you?”

“Not as all. They have not yet lost a match, even when they were almost all hospitalised by the Utterly Savage Association. They know that winning is everything and that there are things I can do that are far worse than any death that you mere humans can imagine.”

“…er…ok then. Moving on. Let’s join our expert commentator Bob Bibbins and take a look at the match.”

“This was the first match of the new Mantis-Bowl, but it looks like we had both lovely weather and a good turnout, with just a few more River-Rats fans out there. And it looked like coach Pyrhus had his team well psyched up and ready for the play.”

“There were some last minute changes to the River Rats lineout when thrower Sneek Barbjaw was thrown off the team for trying to steal from the petty cash, but despite only fielding 11 players, those Skaven were looking good.”

“Similarly, their opponents, the Chaos Small-stars were also fielding a team with no reserves, which took a toll on both teams.”

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“So, what about that action today?”

“The Reikland River Rats received and there was a lovely opening play, with quarterback and team captain, Ratchitt Sleekit, passing to Amscray Scattersprint, who made a beautiful run, but was brutally brought down by one of the Bull-centaurs.”

Those bull-centaurs are certainly some of the most troublesome players on the Small-stars team, Bob.

“And the most vicious. After hospitalizing Amscray, that Centaur was sent off for a vicious foul on Skratch Mankarver, allowing Shagzwell Skuttlespike a chance to take possession and run a beautiful touchdown.”

“yes. That was certainly a good result for the River Rats. Those gutter runners are great at scoring touchdowns”

“The Skaven fans were going wild, giving lots of encouragement, when the Small-stars were receiving. That offensive line of there were extremely effective, putting another two Skaven players in the hospital. Flyting Hurpeez and Skititch Skavenspine. But then Jhenny Tailwortz managed to cripple on of their hobgoblin players.”

“I hear he had a broken hip, Bob.”

“And then Blitzer, Skritch Swiftkik managed to get possession score a second touchdown for the River Rats.”

It looked like the Small-Stars were more interested in injuries than touchdowns.

“That’s a good observation, Ken. It was close to the end of the second half and the chaos dwarf team decided to focus on taking out as many players as they could after that.”

“Yes. Their Dwarves were determined to kill the River Rats’ rat ogre, Danger Mouse.”

“Very true. I lost track of how many times he was tackled or fouled in that match. He seemed to he stunned for most of the match. He was stretchered off just before half time, but fortunately for the river Rats, he was roaring his way back onto the field at half time.”

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“I don’t know what warpstone concoction they put into his half time juice, but it certainly seemed to do the trick, Bob.”

“In the second half the Chaos Small-star coach seemed to have lost his focus.”

“I heard he was up all night in some bizarre chaos ritual, to invoke the dark powers to further bless his team.”

“I don’t know about dark powers, but the Dwarf blockers had some interesting tactics, ignoring the Rat Ogre and pairing up against the Skaven blitzers. Despite that, things certainly seemed to favor the River Rats in the second half. They had better coaching and the fans were certainly giving them more support too. Then Jhenny Tailwortz surprised the fans when she put one of the dwarf blitzers in the hospital.

“I’m told he had two smashed ribs and will definitely be missing their next match.”

“An then Skritch Swiftkik managed to impale a Hobgoblin.”

“I heard that one had a punctured lung, but is recovering and will be back in training soon, Bob.”

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“The Chaos Small-stars went back to focusing on trying to take Danger Mouse off the field and he was soon passed out, back in the dugout. There was some lovely ball control from the Hobgoblins, with several neat passes, but then a fumble gave the River Rats a chance to blitz through their defences.”

“Yes. With two players in the dungeon and three in the hospital, there were several holes in the defensive line that the nimble Skaven players could exploit.”

“And once again it was Shagzwell who took possession and brought the ball home for a third touchdown.”

“yes, Shagzwell looks like he will certainly be a player to watch out for.”

“That he is, Ken.”

 

“The rest of the game was a lot less eventful.”

“It still made great viewing. Both teams were down on men. The Skaven had more knocked out, but the Dwarves had more players sent off. The Hobgoblins were making some good plays and the remaining Bull-centaur and the Chaos Dwarves made some great tackles.”

“Yes, but the River Rats made some good tackles too, with possession of the ball changing hand a few times, but the Small-stars just weren’t able to get past those sneaky Skaven.”

“Very true.”

“So there you have it. The first match of what looks like it will be a very interesting season of the new Mantis-Bowl tournament and our first winning team, the Reikland river Rats. So, tell me Bob, what do you think about the players and how they performed?”

“Well, for me the obvious man of the match for the Small-stars was their Hobgoblin quarterback. He made some beautiful passes and had possession of the ball far more than any other player.”

“Yes. The fans seemed to be with you on that choice, Bob.”

“And for the River Rats I am torn between Jhenny Tailwortz, who seems to be better at crippling the opposing players than the Rat Ogre, Shagzwell Skuttlespike for his two elegant touchdowns or Skritch Swiftkik for that surprise touchdown.”

“Yes. those all sound like good choices to me, but strangely the fans chose Amscray Scattersprint as man of the match.”

“I think it just reflects the education level of the average Skaven fan. I don’t think they can tell the difference between the number two or the number three.”

“Judging by the state of the toilets I don’t think they can tell the difference between a number one or a number two either, Bob.”

“I don’t want to know.”

“Well, that’s it for us. Be sure to join us next week for all the latest Bloodbowl action from the Mantis Bowl tournament.”

Bull baiting: Tau vs Marines

Kor’Ui Kais watched in dismay as the sensor display of his Devilfish clearly showed that the hulking mass of the giant guer’la war machine that they called a Knight, lumbered forth at a surprising speed towards his position. To his flank a squad of armoured bikes was also advancing on him.

“Shas’O we need support. Someone has to stop this thing!”

“Negative Kor’Ui. The knight is not a priority. Sunforge team will take it out when they arrive. Just try to keep it occupied until then. For the Greater Good.”

That was it. No support was coming. The sensors also showed that none of the other Tau units were even bothering to target the bipedal behemoth. A stream of weapon fire blasted from the vast array of bristing weapons on the alien machine. Kais banked had left and activated countermeasures, hoping to avoid the worst of the weapon fire. If he was to  be a distraction, then he would at least try to keep it distracted for as long as he could.

“For the Greater Good.” he told himself, firm in his resolution to die hard and die well.

My third and final fight of the night was against Eric and his Space Marines. He was using the Ultramarines codex and had a small, elite force, with a major threat at the heart of it. A beautifully painted Imperial Knight.

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Again we had two objectives each to secure, but our main objective was to try to destroy more heavy support units. I only had one heavy support unit, while my opponent had two (his thunderfire cannons). If I could take both of those, I was sure to win the main objective. This was also the first of the battles with night fighting during the first round.

Turn 1: 

We were playing across board corners and I was lucky enough to be the one who picked sides. I selected the side with the launch pad and placed my Hammerhead on it, relatively out of harms way. There was an objective close to were I placed my Devilfish and I had placed an objective in a ruin, where I also placed my fire warriors.

img_3135My opponent placed snipers in a ruin, put his Deadnought in the center and the thunderfire cannons behind the defence lines. His marines were in two combat squads of five. One was in the transport. The other was behind the ruin, with his Librarian. The bike squad was on his right, closest to my vehicles. At the front of his troops was the Imperial Knight. Nearly everything was lined up on his right, ready to attack my left, where I was concentrated. I therefore infiltrated my stealth suits behind the ruin on his left, where he had placed one of his objectives.

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I went first. I decided to overcharge the hammerhead and try to put a large template over the end of the snipers, in order to hit both the snipers and the marines below. It scattered, still hitting two snipers, but they made their cover saves. The smart missiles also hit the snipers and killed one of them. My stealth suits jumped into the building and shot at one of the techmarines, killing him with a fusion blaster shot. My transport and fire warriors also shot at the scouts, but with no effect.

img_3138 The librarian buffed the Knight, to make it twin-linked and did the same to himself. The remaining tech priest tried to blast the stealth suits with the thunderfire cannon, but scattered wide with all the shots. Both teams of marines also shot at the scouts, with the ones in the rhino deploying near them, and hit with a missile, killing the squad leader, who had been put forward to get a clear shot, which unfortunately meant the squad no longer had a homing beacon. The snipers shot my fire warriors, as did one of the Knight’s weapons, killing a couple. Most of the knight’s shots were at the Devilfish, but my 2+ cover save protected me. The dreadnought also failed to shoot the Devilfish. Unfortunately both my fire warriors and stealth suits were routed, which moved them away from the objective I needed for one of my Maelstrom objectives.

Turn 2:

For once the dice gods were not against me and two of my three reserve units came on (a statistically average result). My commander’s squad of drones and my bomber. The Knight fired interceptor at the bomber, but did no damage. My commander had rolled the ability that stops himself scattering, so I brought his drones down quite close to the marine squad from the rhino and blasted them. The marines rolled well on armour rolls and made 14 out of 18 saves, but still lost 4 men. The bomber came on and blasted the dreadnought in the rear, destroying it. My stealth suits rallied and shot the surviving marine, but his armour soaked everything. On my left flank I moved the Devilfish, but staying close enough to claim the objective, and deployed the breacher team close to the marine bikers. They gunned down the biker squad, killing everyone. I also deployed the drones, who jumped into a nearby building, killing one of them. My fire warriors rallied and went back into the building, close to the objective. I was torn between shooting his snipers or the remaining thunderfire cannon with the hammerhead. I thought that the snipers would make easier targets and using the smart missiles I took out two, including the missile launcher and routed the squad.

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The thunderfire cannon scored a good volley of hits on my drones, inflicting 17 wounds that ignored cover. I allowed my commander to take most of them, but took 7 on the drones, losing 4 drones. The commander made all of his 2+ saves.

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Once again the librarian buffed the Knight, to make it twin-linked and did the same to himself. This was a strategy which he continued every turn. The Knight advanced on my Devilfish and the breacher team. He was in a perfect position to charge both. He fired his heavy flamer and his main gun at the breacher team, but didn’t bother to shoot the Devilfish, as none of his other weapons would harm it. The heavy flamer alone took out all the breacher team. He then wanted to charge the Devilfish, but as he had not shot at it and had wiped out the only squad he had shot at, he was unable to assault. I don’t recall who the remaining marines shot at, but their shooting had no effect.

Turn 3:

My crisis suits came in from reserve, but scattered onto the knight. The mishap sent them across the board, where they were placed out of the action by Eric. I was very disappointed, because they could have quite easily destroyed the Knight. Instead, they could contribute nothing at all to the battle. However, it didn’t have much impact on the outcome of the game.

My Hammerhead blasted at the thunderfire cannon, scoring 1 wound on it. My drones and the commander moved towards the tech priest manning the cannon and blasted him. He made all his 2+ armour saves. When my commander fired the tech-priest went to ground, to maximize his cover save against the fusion blasters and survived. My stealth suits just finished off the lone marine. My bomber tried to bomb the marines on his way into reserve, but scattered too far. The drones targeted the thunderfire cannon, with little effect. I moved my Devilfish away from the objective, to give the Knight a choice between pursuing it or taking the objective.

Although he had gone to ground the tech priest could still snap shot. He engulfed the drones with his flamer (are you allowed to use a template weapon when you snap shot) but missed with his other weapons. The Knight shot a load of weaponry at the Devilfish, with little effect. He then assaulted and destroyed it easily. Eric had carefully placed the Knight so that even after assaulting, its huge bade was just within 3″ of the objective. The marines in range fired at my commander and his drones, destroying a few more drones. The two remaining snipers took out one of the bomber’s drones.

Turn 4:

My Hammerhead shot the thunderfire cannon, destroying it. My commander moved to get a clear line to the tech priest and gunned him down too. There was very little else worth shooting at. The remaining marines were clustered around a ruin, posing very little threat and there wasn’t much I could do to kill the Knight just yet. The crisis suits ran and jumped towards the main conflict and the stealth suits failed to blow up the rhino. Down near the Knight, the lone drone that had detached from the Devilfish jumped out to land within 3″ of the same objective as the Knight. As it was part of a troop choice, it was securing the objective.

Eric didn’t need his objective 2 that turn. Instead the Knight turned away and fired everything it had at my commander, killing a few more drones and scoring 1 wound on the commander. The rhino tried to tank shock my drones, forcing them back a little. The other marines and the rhino also targeted my commander, killing one of the two remaining drones. Unfortunately for Eric he had failed to get any Maelstrom objectives, kill my commander or take out a squad. At this point we ran out of time and the game ended.

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I had won both the primary objective, more Maelstrom objectives and two out of 3 secondary objectives. Eric had scored nothing.

Final score: Tau 10, Marines 0

I definitely played better this time, but even so, in the last round I got complacent and didn’t remember to bring my bomber back from rolling reserve. I had concentrated on securing objectives, scoring Maelstrom points and trying to make it harder for my opponent to do the same. There were small things that I could have done better, such as not having my stealth suit squad leader at the front and maybe using my bomber and the drones more effectively, but I still feel that my gameplay has improved a lot over a short period of time. During the whole battle, the first round, when two units on objectives were routed, was the only round in which I failed to get both the Maelstrom objectives that I was going for. Having a fast, mobile army that could deep strike and infiltrate allowed me to fight on both sides of the board effectively and although my squads each served a specific function, they had not been overly specialized.

I don’t want to be too critical of my opponent, but his gameplay reminded me of my first game of the tournament. Like me, he took significant losses early on. As I had done in my battle against Bern, Eric concentrated on destroying the annoyingly evasive transport and threatening units (the commander drone blob), rather than going after objectives and victory points. He had two objectives in his deployment zone, but deployed his troops away from them, focusing on being close to my troops. The main objective was to destroy heavy support choices, but I do not recall him even once bothering to fire at my Hammerhead. He had some very effective units in his army, like the thunderfire cannons and the Knight, but once his bikes were taken out, the rest of his force was far too static. I hope that the tournament was a learning experience for Eric too.

The Marine list was not a bad one. It combined anti tank firepower from the dreadnought with the superb horde killing power of the thunderfire cannons. The Knight had decent firepower for taking out light vehicles and great close combat power. He could have done with some more troops and I really didn’t see any point in the librarian. The librarian concentrated on making the Knight and himself fire twin linked. The army already hits on 3s and could reroll 1s, so it was only a very small buff. The other marines with the librarian served as little more than a meat shield for a unit that seemed to be contributing so little, that I never felt a need to shoot at it.

Roadblock: Tau vs Orks

“Where the hell was the targeting beacon? Where the hell were those damned scouts?”

The battlefield was getting close enough for the Shas’vre to make out the conflict below. It looked like a wrecked Devilfish was blocking the pass. A cluster of ramshackled vehicles and smoking hulks were strewn across the valley. A cloud of smoke was spewing out of the Ork bikes racing towards the wreck and there, in the middle was the commander’s signal, surrounded by the greenskin warriors, with more bearing down on them. That had to be their target.

He adjusted his thrusters, trying to come down just to the east of the conflict. His squad were equipped for anti-tank combat, but the greenskins only had light transports, most of which were already wrecked. There was no way that they could cut down enough of the approaching horde to stem their advance, but they could at least buy time. Maybe it would be long enough for reinforcements to arrive. 

“For the greater good!” he cried out as he triggered the thrusters to slow his fall, bringing him down dangerously close to a vast horde of huge, heavily armoured hulking brutes.

The match up for the tournament was based on the results of the first game. I had assumed that this meant winners against winners and losers against losers, but with 5 games it also meant that someone who lost their first game would be playing someone who had won (a draw was possible but I didn’t hear of anybody having one). I was surprised to discover that my second opponent, Chris, came second overall in the tournament, so that person was clearly me. Not that I mind, as it was a great game.

My army was the same as before. My opponent’s army was completely different from my other games. He had five trukks filled with Boyz, as well as two trukks full of Meganobz (the loota wagon and battlewagon were proxying for trukks) and a large bike squad led by his warboss. It was a fast, mobile army, very capable of getting in close and overwhelming any enemy. Fortunately the board we were on had a lot of terrain.

The game we were playing was Relic, although there were also two objectives for the Maelstrom part of the game. One was in a bunker on my side, the other was in the open on my opponents end.

Turn 1:

I was able to choose sides and set up first, choosing the more open side, which made it harder for my opponent to bring in the reserves that he wanted. I deployed my transport and hammerhead as far forward as I could. My fire warriors were sitting in cover on one objective.

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My opponent deployed five trukks, holding the rest back, to avoid having his strongest units gunned down by heavy weapon fire. I then made the worst mistake of the game. I forgot to set up my infiltrators on the board.

I raced my transport forward towards the relic. I didn’t deploy troops, as I was sure that my opponent could reach me. My hammerhead destroyed one of the trukks, causing it to explode.

The Orks tried to advance. One trukk, on the far left, became immobilized on the rough terrain. Another trukk advanced and deployed his orcs, staying close to his objective. One raced towards the objective on my left flank. With little room to move the other trukk held back. The two squads of boyz ran forward and assaulted my devilfish, wrecking it and forcing the breacher team to disembark.

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Turn 2: I rolled badly on my reserve roll and only the bomber came on. No drones, no crisis suits and no stealth suits.

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My bomber targeted he trukk on my left, firing with the drones, missile pod and both seeker missiles in a determined effort to avoid allowing it to get close to my fire warriors. My breacher team advanced towards the Ork boyz and completely gunned down one squad. I was torn between trying to blast the other squad with a large template and risk scattering into the breachers or blast another trukk. I decided on the safer option but didn’t quite destroy it, only shaking and stunning the crew.

My opponent was a lot more lucky on his reserve rolls.

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The boyz from the wrecked trukk ran towards my fire warriors. The boyz from the immobilized trukk also disembarked and ran forward. Two trukks of meganobz appeared, as did the large bike squadron. I had expected the boys to slaughter my breacher team, but instead they ran forward to attack the hammerhead.

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The boyz reached my hammerhead and smashed it. Nearly everything else fired at the breacher team, killing all but one of them.

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Turn 3:

Again I was very unlucky with my reserve rolls. Only my commander with the drones appeared. The crisis suits and stealth suits were still nowhere to be seen.

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My bomber’s drones and the bomber blasted a transport, wrecking it. the commander’s drones shot at the warboss and his squad of bikes, scoring a lot of hits, but only killing a few of them. I then jumped back, to form a line in front of the relic. Across the battlefield my fire warriors shot at the approaching Orks, killing a few more.

Chris called a Waaargh! One of the surviving transports deployed a squad of meganobz near my drone squad. The boyz near the bomber blasted my two bomber drones, destroying them. The remaining 3 trukks all shot at my bomber, with no effect. The bikes raced forward and the boyz who had wrecked the hammerhead returned to attack my drones.  Three units of Orks were approaching my commander and even with augmented overwatch, I could not attack them all.

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The boyz attacked first and half the squad was wiped our, but then they and the Meganobz got into melee. My drones took out a couple of boys, but the Orks between them killed everyone except the commander. However, having lost combat by so much, he was routed and overrun by the Orks.

Across the battlefield the boys were racing towards my fire warriors, but even with rerolling one dice, the charge was 1″ short.

Turn 4:

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My crisis suits finally arrived, as did my stealth suits. Unfortunately my stealth suits scattered onto an enemy unit and the mishap scattered them to be placed by my opponent, far from any action. The crisis suits were more lucky. They were close enough to shoot the Orks, but to get to the relic I needed to target the boyz, rather than the Meganobz, who I really wanted to shoot. Had we not had a time limit, I would have shot the meganobs, but as the time limit was near and this was to be the last turn, I had to deny the boyz control of the objective and hope that I could survive 1 round when the meganob assault hit. My last breacher team member also came forward to secure the relic. I easily gunned down the boyz and had hoped to jump far enough to screen the breacher, but didn’t quite get far enough.

Across the board thing were better. My fire warriors moved to the edge of the bunker  gunned down the last of the boyz below, leaving 4 of them safely securing an objective. As my other Maelstrom objective was to wipe out a squad this served very well.

The Orks attacked. The trukks shot ineffectively at my bomber. Both the meganobz and the bikes got into the assault, easily wiping out my Tau with minimal casualties.  The time limit for the game had arrived and there was nothing else he could do that turn.

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The game ended. I was ahead on points for the Maelstrom objectives, but I thought that the Orks had won the main objective. They certainly had all 3 of the minor objectives, however the marshal pointed out that the wording of the Relic mission was that a unit ending it’s movement phase next to the relic could claim it. They couldn’t claim it at the end of the assault phase. Therefore in a surprising turn around, neither of us was able to claim the main objective and the game was awarded to me.

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Final score: Tau 4, Orks 3

This was a strange and crazy, but very fun game. My mistake of not setting up my infiltrators could have easily cost me the game. As it was, the battle was extremely close. Had my opponent started with more of his Orks on the board, I doubt it would have been so close. Having that squad in relative safety at the back and rolling 1s so often for the Maelstrom objectives was probably the only thing that won me the game. Had we gone to turn 5, Chris would have definitely won.

The Orks were a fun list to play against. They were fast and mobile and had a lot of relatively cheap and expendable units, but had enough heavy hitters to take down just about anything, if they could get close. It was just the restrictive terrain preventing them all from swarming over the relic that limited their power here. It didn’t stop them rampaging their way to victory in their other matches.

The key thing I needed to learn from this game was not to forget about any units. In this game I forgot to set up a unit. In the one before I had forgotten to bring one back from reserve. In most games I forget to shoot, move or jet pack move somebody.

The lesson seemed to have been learnt in my third and final battle of the tournament.