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.

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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.

The undying: Tau vs Necrons

“Repeat. Proceed to …. 76.5… secure the….is a priority.” The signal was heavily distorted with static.

“Say again command. Proceed where? You are breaking up.” Shas’Vre Sa’Tan replied. He didn’t have time for this. The strange robotic aliens had ripped through their flank and overwhelmed it completely. He needed to prioritize his targets and form a sound tactical response, but field command were trying to give him other orders.

“Proceed to coordin… p0int 5….relay signal…confirm. Over.” Again, the signal was too broken to get through. 

“Sod it!” At least local comms were still working. He switched signal to the inter squad communications. 

“This is it. We are targeting those transports and the heavy weapon units. Follow my lead, split fire and follow my targeting signals.”

The crisis suits burst from cover, landing between two enemy units. Sa’Tan had never faced these aliens and they had very little intelligence on their capabilities, but the metal flying beetle things had taken out a Hammerhead in a single shot and the strange transport vessel was putting out a very heavy concentration of fire and now those two cresecent flyers were teleporting troops to the surface. His C&C node was drawing on the combined sensor suites of his unit. Combined with his improved multi-spectral sensor suite he was able to relay extremely accurate targeting information to the slaved targeting systems of his squad.

Superheated energy lances streaked from the fusion blasters, with enough power to melt through a starships hull. The targeting was good enough to get four strikes on a flyer, melting through it like a knife through butter and blowing it out of the air. The other transport vessel exploded in similarly dramatic plume of iridescent flame. However, even before the flames died down his augmented sensors could see the metal shapes pulling themselves from the wreckage. He just had time to shout a warning as the first shots were fired at his squad.

These things just wouldn’t die.

On Sunday February 26th Fatmantis games in Shenzhen held a Warhammer 40K mini tournament. It was a one day event of 1250 points per person. There were ten local members taking part. Each game had a time limit and was using a modified version of the Maelstrom cards. For me, it was my first tournament and my first time using Maelstrom objectives. It meant that as well as our main objectives, we had extra objectives to achieve every turn. In this game each of us had two objectives to secure, as well as secondary objectives and Maelstrom objectives each turn; such as hold either objective 1, hold either objective 2, completely destroy an enemy unit, have a unit in the enemy deployment zone, etc.

The first turn draw placed me against Bern and his Necrons. We were both using exactly the same lists as for our practice game the weekend before. The only difference was that my models were now more fully painted.

Turn 1

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As this was my first game, it it the one I remember least clearly. I also had no idea at first of how the game was being scored. My main mistake was to prioritize kills over objectives. My second mistake was from ignorance of how Necrons operated. I thought that passengers in a flying transport would take str 10, AP 2 hits when the transport was destroyed, which is why I concentrated on taking them down. However, for Necrons this was not the case. The transport isn’t really carrying them at all. It is more like a teleport relay. No matter how fast it moves, they can deploy safely, being beamed to the ground. If the transport was destroyed, they are unharmed and just walk on the next turn. This meant that they came in on my exposed side, gunning down my unit. Ignorance can definitely get you killed.

Bern set up first, deploying his destroyers, his Ark and his tomb blades. He then infiltrated his flayed ones onto an objective. I deployed my transport, tank and small fire warrior squad. My crisis suits infiltrated on his right flank. The Necron tomb blades raced forward and effortlessly wiped out my fire warriors, taking their objective.  The destroyers blasted my hammerhead, blowing it up with a single hit. The Ark shot my devilfish, causing 1 hull point of damage.

In order to get a point from a round 1 kill objective, I raced my breacher team forward and deployed them right in front of the Ark, in order to gun down the flayed ones. I took out the whole squad, but it was obvious that my breachers would not last turn 2. (I did score a few other objectives, but this was the only victory point that I got for the game)

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Turn 2: The Necrons deployed from the ark, to gun down my breacher team mercilessly, taking out most of them. A night scythe came in from reserve and attacked my stealth suits. The destroyers also targeted the stealth suits and some very bad cover rolls resulted in the loss of that unit.

My own reserve roll was pretty poor. The bomber came on and the crisis suits nearly did. I had tried to bring them in behind the night scythes, but they scattered to the edge of the board. I had just enough space to deploy them in a semi-circle, in base contact with the squad leader, but the marshal insisted that “start deploying in a concentric circle” means that they must be spread out to be in as much of a circle as possible. I don’t agree with that interpretation, but as it is their house rule I accepted the judgement. The result of the mishap was delayed arrival.  The bomber fired everything it had at the night scythe and scored two hull points. The surviving breachers boarded the Devilfish and along with the drones, I tried to blast the destroyers, to no effect. Away in the corner, away from the action the Tomb Blades were easily winning Maelstrom points, being on an objective and behind enemy lines.

Turn 3:

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The second night scythe came on and attacked my bomber. The destroyers and the Ark blasted my devilfish, wrecking it. One of the night scythes deployed a squad in cover, near an objective marker. Bern now had squads sitting on every objective.

Things were looking bad, but now my reserves came on. I really should have tried to take out the tomb blades, but I was convinced that taking out the flying transports would wipe out his reserve squad and his commander. I dropped both my commander’s drone squad and my crisis suit squad on the back of the table. My bomber flew into rolling reserve, but deployed the drones, to shoot one of the night scythes in the rear. The drones took out the damaged night scythe. My crisis suits split fire between the other night scythe and the Ark, causing them both to explode dramatically. My commander and his drones gunned down one of the destroyer squads from the rear. Suddenly things looked very different, but the Necrons still held all the objectives.

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Turn 4:

The trouble with blowing up the enemy transports was that the squad inside simply returned to rolling reserve and walked onto the board this turn. They blasted the drone squad, killing many of them. The other Necron squad blasted my drones, while the destroyers shot at my crisis suits, taking out 1 of them.

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I then did something both strange and probably stupid. I ran my breacher team to get to objective 2 and moved everyone else to attack the Necron squad. I blasted them with lots of melta fire and assaulted them. Unfortunately they rolled very well on their regeneration rolls and I was not able to take out the squad and my commander failed the charge.

Turn 5:

The Necrons gunned down what was left of my drone squad, killing all but my commander.  The destroyers blasted what was left of my breacher team and the struggle with my crisis suits continued. I was getting more hits, but they were making their saves or regenerating.

My commander fired off a few shots, but there was not really anything left for me to do. Incidentally, I completely forgot to bring my bomber back from rolling reserve.

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Final score: Necrons 10, Tau 1

Bern definitely deserved the victory. He kept his eye on the prize and secured every objective. He had his elite or heavy units sitting on objectives, cleared one flank and steered the combat over to the other flank, where his troops could be deployed to secure the objectives, so that my elite and fast attack units couldn’t contest them, unless we were to first wipe them out. My turn 3 may have hurt his firepower, but it did little to stop his strategy.

Whilst I suffered an overwhelming defeat, losing 10 points to 1, it was against the man who ultimately won the tournament and it was my only defeat of the tournament. It was an ignoble defeat, but I must have learnt something from it.

Mainly, I think I learnt to focus on objectives, rather than threats. Big, scary models and units can be avoided. Objectives can’t be ignored.

Wraith lord rampage

From all directions a barrage of weapon fire converged on the elegant humanoid form of the Ar’Cea war machine. Pulse weapon fire lit up its surface in a cascade of lights, the burst of fire from the air-burst fragmentation weapons and smart missiles rippled around it, like fireworks during a victory parade, but the silhouette of the alien machine kept coming. Even the cascade of ion cannon fire glanced ineffectively from its armoured surface, doing little more than scarring the paintwork.

A gout of flame burst out of it’s weapons. It only took a fraction of a second for the settings in the shas’vre’s helmet to adjust to the flare of light, but before it had, the wraith lord was upon them. The giant blade in its mighty hand sliced through the crisis suit in front of him, severing it in two, pilot and all. Then it plunged the blade through his crisis suit. The weapon was so sharp and the blow so fast, that at first he thought the knight had missed, but then it twisted the blade and withdrew it, spilling the shas’vre’s innards into the crisis suit’s interior. 

Shas’la Ra’kas looked on in stunned disbelief. The wrath lord has passed his squad by, dismissing them as a nuisance, not even worth the effort needed to swat them aside, on its way to the Shas’vre’s more heavily armed squad, but now…

“Pull back, firing on the snipers as you go.” The ethereal’s voice came over the comms, conveying such a sense of assurance and authority that the fear Ra’kas felt was driven away. “The knight is not a priority target. Just keep your distance. There are other foes for you to hunt.”

I have not fought against Eldar since the old days of 5th edition, and even then only rarely, so when a new player joined are club and quickly started assembling an Eldar army, I was keen for a match. It was a learning experience for us both.

We were playing a 750 point game. My force had an Ethereal as warlord, with a breacher team in a devilfish, a small squad of fire warriors with pulse rifles and a support turret, a broadside, a small squad of pathfinders with rail guns and two squads of crisis suits. Two suits were geared for crowd clearance, with airburst fragmentation launchers and burst cannons. The other unit had two with cyclic ion blasters and a shas’vre buffmander, with a command and control node, multi-spectrum sensor suite and Puretide engram neurochip.

warhammer-010I had been thinking of giving plasma rifles to my crisis suits, but I thought that the eldar would not have very many people with 3+ armour saves. I thought that 3 str 7 shots from the cyclic ion blasters would therefore be better than 2 at str 6. This proved to be a foolish mistake.

warhammer-016My opponent, Max, had a squad of rangers, 6 windriders with scatter lasers, a wraith lord, a Fire prism and a Vyper, led by a Farseer on a jet bike. Max hadn’t yet got around to painting the models, as he had only started building them two weeks earlier, but they were all magnetized and were a very nice, elite force. Given how quickly and diligently he has been building these, they will probably be beautifully painted pretty soon.

The game was Purge the alien, with night fighting on turn 1. Max got the initiative, choosing sides and deciding to go first.

warhammer-017Max placed everything on the board, holding nothing back. This surprised me, and I had given early warning overrides to a lot of units, in order to get interceptor. I put my warlord and the breachers into their transport, gave the broadside a vantage point and hid my fire warriors in a ruin. He then infiltrated his rangers into a ruin near the board center, giving them a great place to shoot from.

Turn 1:

The eldar warlord used his psi powers and gave the jetbikes the ability to reroll hits. The wind riders opened fire on my broadside. 24 twin linked shots at strength 6 resulted in 14 wounds. His 2+ armour save wasn’t enough and he was obliterated in a hail of laser fire. The rangers shot at my fire warriors, but the night fighting cover meant they only scored 1 kill. Everything else shot at the devilfish, but between night fighting and countermeasures I avoided everything with a 2+ cover save.

My fire warriors fired back and the turret killed 1 ranger. The transport raced forward as fast as it could go. There was nothing else for me to do.

Victory points: Eldar 2, Tau 0.

Turn 2:warhammer-021At this stage things were looking bad and I was at risk of my whole force being wiped out before any reserves could arrive. The eldar psycher buffed his unit to get twin linked attacks and reroll saves. The windriders, vyper and wraith lord all shot at my transport. The front armour deflected most of the 24 shots and my 3+ jink avoided all 4 glancing hits. I also avoided a 1 shot missile and a las cannon shot. The fire prism fired a large template at my fire warriors and the rangers also shot at them. They went to ground, but still took 3 casualties. The last survivor somehow made his leadership save.

Now my reinforcements arrivedwarhammer-022The crisis suits dropped down into the open space beside my opponent’s forces. The first squad scattered a little towards the wraith lord. The second scattered very close to the rangers. My ethereal invoked the storm of fire and the transport moved forward an deployed the breacher team close to the windriders. They fired a huge volley of 30 str 6, AP 3 shots. Even being able to reroll their jink saves, the squad took 6 wounds.

At this stage we messed up a few rules. I started by forgetting my command ability would allow me to reroll any 1s to hit for 1 round, which would have helped here. Max then forgot to declare look out sir, before saves were made. This didn’t matter too much, and as he is new I let him take the saves anyway. His warlord only took 1 wound, but the squad lost 5 men. Despite his psy protection the breachers still served their purpose.warhammer-024My crisis suits opened fire on the wraith lord and again I stupidly forgot my special rules. I remembered the twin link, but forgot about the monster hunter and did not reroll failed wounds. due to the 3+ armour save The unit only scored a single wound. The other crisis suits tried to hit the rangers, but being so close their template weapons hit the edge of the squad and after scattering only caused 2 wounds. The 2+ cover save protected them from the burst cannons.

I then jumped my small crisis team back, as a screen for the stronger team and my fire warriors got back up. My turn 2 was ok, but if I had remembered the rules correctly, I would have done a lot more damage.

Victory points: Eldar 2, Tau 0.

Turn 3: 

It was now time for the eldar to hit back, but it was fortunately also time for my opponent to make a silly mistake.warhammer-025The jet bikes jetted away and the psyker buffed the wraith lord’s saves. The fire prism fired a small template at my breachers, trying a strong enough force to punch through their armour, but it scattered away harmlessly. The wraith lord fired a flamer, hitting both crisis squads, but doing no damage and then fired its las cannon at the rear squad, missing. The rangers also opened fire, wounding one of the crisis suits. Max then realised that he couldn’t assault the squad in front of him and had to try to run around and assault the further squad. He failed his assault roll. The vyper shot at my last fire warrior, but he made his cover save.

It was my turn to hit back. My breacher team boarded the transport, which went after the vyper. The fire warrior and turret also shot the vyper, damaging it. My pathfinders finally came on, shooting at the rear of fire prism, but it jinked and avoided the shots.warhammer-028My anti-infantry crisis team decided to try to take out the psyker. Their template weapons killed the last wind rider along with two rangers and they injured the warlord more, but didn’t kill him. Given how resilient the wraith lord had been, I decided that a rerolled 3+ would be almost unbeatable and gunned down the fire prism instead, wrecking it easily.

Victory points: Eldar 2, Tau 2.

Turn 4: warhammer-031Max decided to focus on the further crisis suits. His wraith lord gunned 1 down and slaughtered the other 2 in melee, with a successful 7″ assault. The psyker buffed his saves, but failed his attack power. He then assaulted my drones and was gunned down in overwatch. The rangers shot at my fire warrior, who went to ground again, avoiding the shots. The vyper shot across the board flat out, to hide in the corner.

My remaining crisis suits were almost useless against the wraith lord, so they moved back, dropped two air-burst fragmentation blasts perfectly on the rangers, taking them all out, and jumped further away from the wraith lord. My devilfish went after the vyper and the drones moved towards the transport. My pathfinders were trapped in the corner, with nowhere to run, so they came out to shoot the wraith lord, but none of the rail guns scored any wounds.

Victory points: Eldar 3: Tau 5

Turn 5:warhammer-034The vyper tried to shoot my fire warrior, but he made a cover save. The wraith lord hit my pathfinders with two flamers, killing the squad.

My fire warrior and his support turret gunned down the vyper, destroying it. (he needs a cool name). My crisis suits and drones fired a few ineffective shots at the wraith lord, before jumping back out of assault range.

Victory points: Eldar 4, Tau 6.

Turn 6:

The wraith knight shot at my transport, but I jinked out of the way.

I decided to play safe. My crisis team stayed back in the opponents deployment zone and I fired off a few more ineffective shots from range.

Game over:

Victory points: Eldar 4, Tau 7.

Analysis:

The game was a pretty close match until turn 4. With much more on the table, the early rounds went to my opponent, but when my reserves came in things balanced out quickly. We both made silly mistakes and it could have gone either way.

My main weakness is that I keep forgetting about some of the abilities of my units. I am too intent on things that I want to do, to recall everything that I can do.

The psyker was great as a force multiplier and with a large, fast, armoured unit, was very hard to kill. It was foolish of my opponent to let me get so close to them. The greatest threat to me in that fight was probably the wraith lord. Melee is obviously the bane of Tau and that thing was so tough, up close. Snipers and poison shots work well against monstrous creatures, but I had nothing in my list that was designed with creatures in mind and my strongest attacks were lacking in armour penetration.

The decision to use the cyclic ion blasters rather than plasma rifles was may have been a mistake. I would score fewer wounds, on the wraith lord with plasma but would not need to worry about armour saves. It would have also made them an effective weapon for attacking the jet bikes, who also had 3+ armour.

I quite like using the smaller crisis teams, as it allows me to avoid making such a big target, and risk losing the squad in one bad scatter roll, but a large squad with the ability to split fire might have been just as effective and I would not have needed to rely on low strength template weapons for dealing with cover saves.

After the battle was over, I realised that my best weapon against the wraith knight was my completely uninjured breacher team. If I had unleashed their full firepower, augmented by my ethereal and remembered to use his command ability, they should have scored an average of 3 wounds. At 50 points the ethereal makes a nice cheap force multiplier and I think he is a better HQ for small games than a commander. Breacher teams are definitely becoming the core of my army, but they definitely need transports. I think my next model purchase will probably be another transport.

Mega battle mayhem

Once every month the 40K club at Fatmantis Gaming in Shekou, Shenzhen, try to have a mega battle for the players, to give them the chance to break out the big Lord of War models that they don’t usually get a chance to play with. It usually involves 6-8 players with between 6,000-12,000 points total a side. Each month has a different theme and different scenarios for the game.

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Sunday 25th was the first time that I had been available to participate. We were playing a 4 by 4 battle, with 1850 points each. The idea was to have older players vs younger players, as the “good” vs “evil” or Empire vs others alliances tended to result in the same teams on either side. However one of the new young guys was unable to get an army together in time, so it was 4 vs 3 with larger forces on the young side and an extra person helping out.

016009006004The alliances really made no sense. The old team has Skitarii, Slanesh chaos marines, Tyranids and my Tau (the white are mine. The other ones I had borrowed from another player). The youngsters had Imperial guard, Raven wing and a Chaos force with a mix of chaos space marines and khorne demons (the demons were actually lizard men, being played as demons, because the player preferred the look of them).

012015011We had two gaming tables set up end to end, with us setting up along the long edges. We had six objectives that we were fighting over, but each player also had three personal objectives to try to claim. Mine, for example were:

Primary: Completely destroy a unit that started your turn within 9″ and is not in its deployment zone.

Secondary: Destroy a unit using a unit that is within your own deployment zone.

Tertiary: Claim objective 1.

As well as having a team objectives, for victory in the battle, we were competing to see who could claim all their personal objectives.

Setting up: Phil, who runs the store, advised us to spread out and not have everything in one area, as we would not know our objectives until after set-up and also so that we didn’t end up each fighting our own separate battles.  I think I was the only one on our side to listen to him. The Skitarii were nearly all on the left, the chaos marines were nearly all on the right and the tyranids were nearly all in the middle. This did prove a very bad decision for the chaos player, as his objective was on the furthest edge of the board and he had no reserves. His warlord spent nearly the whole battle trying to race about 80″ to the objective. I feel that I made a mistake by spreading my Tau across the whole table length. This prevented my force from using any of their formation abilities, which only apply when 3 or more of them are targeting the same unit. It was only when setting up that I discovered that the buffmander that I had intended to put with my riptides could not be put with monstrous creatures, so I put him with my crisis suits, which was a complete waste of points.

Our opponents were spread out a lot more, which worked really well for them, but had held a very large part of their force in reserve, which I think was a good decision.

030Turn 1: We achieved very little with our shooting. My riptides were badly positioned, with cover blocking their line of sight and the str 7 missiles on the broadsides were not good enough to damage to the tanks. I completely forgot about my pathfinder marker lights until after I had fired everything else. The guard army devastated the tyranids, completely wiping out a huge horde of harpies and the creature leading them.

035Turn 2: This started off a bit better, but demonstrated my lack of understanding of the system. We had a lot of scary tyranids come down and threaten the enemy. My breacher team transport got close enough to deploy my breachers within 5″ of the enemy. I could have tried to gun down the robots, but I asked one of the more experienced players if he wanted me to try to assault the tanks or the robots. He didn’t tell me that I could not assault on the turn I disembark. So I wasted my attacks by throwing 1 EMP grenade, disabling the big plasma cannon, leaving my squad completely exposed. If I had known this then 18 str 6, AP3 attacks might have taken out those robots.

051On the other side of the board my crisis suits came down. They easily wiped out a mauler fiend with 12 plasma rifles, twin linked, ignoring cover and having tank hunters. Unfortunately I did mot give them the ability to split fire, having made the mistake of paying for higher accuracy against charges. My other pathfinders took out a manticore, more than making up their points.

The enemy then came on, with two Chimeras tank shocking my unit, splitting the force and taking out half the unit. My commander failed a leadership roll and the squad started to flee, straight into a waiting force of chaos marines. My skink breachers were predictably wiped out by artillery fire. Three marine bikers outflanked and shot up my broadsides, killing 1. Things were also going badly elsewhere. The chaos knight was taken out by Imperial Guard tanks, the skitarii ironstriders were shot to pieces and the land raider was wrecked in melee by a defiler. A bunch of demons and terminators also teleported onto the board

After turn 2 we took a break for lunch and cake, as it was Luke’s birthday earlier in the week.

Turn 3: Our turn 3 was not very effective. I think the Skitarii were doing pretty well, as the player was finally starting to learn the abilities of his new army. He had paid for the force to be built and assembled and it was his first time playing it, so he had been making mistakes about what each think had. He had completely neglected the ability of the dunecrawlers to skyfire until it was too late. However, most of my surviving forces were on other parts of the board. I shot up the demons with my riptides, amazed myself by killing 2 terminators with a devilfish transport and moved my other breachers to try to secure objective 1. I took out a badly injured demon prince with my fire warriors (within 9″) and a hydra with my broadside (still in my deployment zone), claiming 2 of my personal objectives.

A group of flyers came in and shot up our forces, taking out a lot of skitarii and nyds. The tanks tried to shoot mt empty transport that was sitting on an objective, but it jinked out of the way of everything. The squad of 3 bikers took out a squad of the chaos marines. Two squads of terminators attacked my broadsides and pathfinders. A squad of 3 men attacked my broadsides, losing 2 men to opportunity fire, but doing ok in melee. The last survivor of the other squad attacked the pathfinders, but by luck he inflicted no damage.

Turn 4: by now it was clear that we were going to lose, but the skitarii were not going down without a fight. Neither were my pathfinders. The Skitarii knight reached the tank line and attacked, wrecking one tank, exploding a second and hurling a it at a nearby rhino, before stamping a third, destroying a war robot in the explosion.

115My riptides took out a guard transport and my broadside destroyed an enemy rhino, after my ally’s noise marines had completely wasted their shots trying to damage it. (To be honest, the chaos marines had been doing almost nothing for most of the battle.) The  breachers tried to take out the defiler, but only reduced it to 1 wound (making me regret not shooting it with the broadside too). My commander’s squad was being pounded in close combat (I had forgotten about the upgrade which should have given him free hits against all the attackers) and my other units were ineffectively shooting at the bikes. which had the ability to re-roll jink saves. As my transport was at 1 hull point and had lost its weapon in a defiler attack, I decided to try to ram a transport but only shook it and destroyed itself. This was even more foolish, as it allowed the defiler easier access to my breachers. The most interesting shooting was when the skitarii shot down a flyer, causing it to crash into the allied chaos warlord (who made his armour save).

My riptides were sitting on an objective, so virtually every tank and flyer tried to gun them down, but my overcharged shields saved against almost everything. Two squads of terminators attacked my broadsides and pathfinders. One of the terminators routed my broadsides in melee. By luck the pathfinders managed to kill one terminator on our melee turn. On my opponent’s turn his other terminator shot, failing to harm anyone and assaulted, but again failed to harm the pathfinders.

The defiler and marine bikers wanted to assault my breachers and the nearby marines. They intended to have the marines assault me and the defiler attack the marines, but after the marines shot (the player forgot that he had jinked the turn before, so I took too many casualties) I still had survivors in the way and he didn’t think he could charge around them, so he turned his flamers on my squad of breachers. They didn’t stand a chance; especially as template weapons can apparently now shoot people on multiple levels at once. Elsewhere a combination of marines and demons were killing off the skitarii.

Turn 5: Our death throes continued as we struggled on.  We managed to do a bit of damage and once again my riptides with overcharge shields resisted every attempt to destroy them, but an enemy transport got close enough to contest the objective. There was very little that we could do, but there were a few surprises still in store. In the first assault phase my pathfinders once again managed to kill a terminator. Two terminator squads killed by 4 pathfinders, without suffering any casualties!

134In our opponent’s shooting phase the pathfinders took a lot of fire, but went to ground and only suffered 1 casualty.

The chaos marines managed to hold objective 1, but our opponents managed to get 4 objectives and contest another.

Victory to the youngsters

Analysis: It was a very good game and not too overwhelming, but there were clearly quite a few bad tactical decisions. The first of which was not understanding the rules, then deploying with my forces too spread out. It was pointed out that this did help me to get to my objective, but without playing more games I couldn’t say if that benefit was worse the inability to use any formation abilities. Giving missile pod drones to the broadsides does give a few extra shots, but makes the squad easier to hurt and made it almost impossible for my last guy to rally. I think that it would have been a good idea to hold my breacher teams and transports back, until there were more targets for them and it was clearer where they needed to be. The commander was pretty useless. A Shas’vre could provide all the buffs to the crisis suits for far fewer points. Being able to split fire would have helped too. I also need more units with skyfire and ignores cover, or else more marker lights, to bestow similar abilities where they are needed.

The guard tank line was by far the most effective army and the chaos marines were probably the least effective. The skitarii did ok and the knight was amazing in melee. The defiler was the most effective of the opposing chaos units. The flying demon princes were not very effective. Hard to hit while flying, but not that hard to kill on the turn they landed. The riptides were very hard to kill and did ok at earning back their points. The marine bikers being able to reroll 3+ jink saves made them almost impossible to kill.

The personal objectives were pretty easy to achieve. everybody managed everything except securing the designated objectives, which only 2 people managed.

There were a few times when one player (naming no names) forgot that hid vehicles had jinked, or been shaken etc. It seems that proper tokens for such things, along with immobilized, weapon destroyed etc. would be a great idea. Since wrecked vehicles are also left on the board, a wreck marker, so that we can assess threats more easily will help avoid confusion.

With so much going on across the battlefield the judge broke up the battle a bit more, insisting that running was done after all shooting and that jet pack moves were done after all assaults were completed. Towards the start of the game I forgot to jet pack my riptides forward and at the end of the game, the enemy started their move before I was aware that the assaults were over, preventing me from moving my riptides back to better protect the objective and costing us a victory point. (although we would have still lost the game)

Before the match Phil, the judge, looked over my army list and said to me that the second pathfinder team with no special weapons were a waste of points and served no purpose. He said they would probably be killed in turn 1. They survived the match, lit up units as intended (when I remembered them) and took out 2 terminators in melee. In my opinion they were definitely worth 44 points.