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.

 

 

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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.

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.

Games Workshop are suddenly acting like a games company.

What has happened to Games Workshop?

What is the new CEO thinking?

After years of ignoring their customers, selling increasingly expensive models that hardly anyone can afford, making rules changes that compel customers to pay a fortune or abandon the hobby and selling huge boxed sets that offer no saving over buying the parts individually, they have suddenly started to get things right.

I first played GW games in the 80s and 90s, so I remembered things like Blood Bowl when it first came out. GW used to do a lot of nice, fun, stand alone games. They also did good spin off games, like Necromunda.

These games were fun and popular, but to the managers at GW these games were too limited. You only needed a few models. You bought your team, or your gang and that was it. You might occasionally buy a few new models to update your gang or team, but you didn’t need to keep buying more.

Warhammer 40K offered far better sales potential. Players could spend thousands of pounds or more on an army and then, when a new codex or a new edition came out, suddenly find their army obsolete if they didn’t spend hundreds or thousands more. This made money for GW, but it also cost them customers.

GW customers tend to fit into 3 groups. The teens who think the models look cool and get their parents to buy then an army. The geeky students for whom this is their main social activity (along with tabletop RPGs). The 30 or 40 something professionals who got hooked as teens or students.

The  trouble is that parents don’t want to fork out hundreds for something the child might quickly bore of. Students generally can’t afford to keep going when the editions change. This leaves the professionals who never grew up as the core customers. They could afford the big Knights, Titans and other giant war machines, but they were a limited market. GW needed more new players.

When they were criticized by customers, their response in the past has been “we are a first and foremost a model company, not a games company”. This is an utterly idiotic stance, because without the games, nobody would be buying the models. The models from the last few years may have looked great, but they did nothing to enhance the experience of playing the games.

What they seem to have forgotten is that it was the simple, easy, cheap games which attracted customers. Warhammer has often been called “plastic crack” and the stand alone games were the gateway drugs of the Warhammer worlds. They were the thing that got you hooked and made you want to keep playing more and more.

I played 40K as a teen in the Rogue Trader era and returned as a mature student in the 5th edition age.  Most of my friends abandoned 40K as soon as it changed to 6th ed. Their Orc and ‘nid armies became less effective and it would cost too much time and effort to try to build new armies.

As a teen I played the Warhammer fantasy RPG, but didn’t have money for the wargaming. I loved the flavour and the details of the Old World. I started collecting a Fantasy army around the time that fantasy was scrapped for copyright reasons. Instead we got the very vague and shapeless world of Age of Sigmar, which seemed a lot like 40K without the guns.The models are very detailed, but the introductory box was about £100 and there was no sense of who could play what models. Players needed to have gentleman’s agreements on what sort of game to play, or it could quickly prove absurd.

Then it all changed:

First it was the start collecting boxes for £50. A nice, small army at a bargain price. HQ, troops and something else at a discounted price. In the past GW had done some nice, bargain battleforces and it was a welcome return to the good old days. Instead of having to advise parents on several boxes to choose, the child just needed to pick an army and they had a perfect starter set, ready to assemble.

Next they brought in points values for AoS models. something which the community had desperately been screaming for. The rest of the General’s Handbook was a disappointment, but it was another step in the right direction. The objectives for battles did change the game considerably. Players with lots of weak squads having more versatility than those with a small number of unstoppable elite heroes and troops.

Then, tied in with the release and promotion of Deathwatch kill teams, 40K got the Kill Team game. A version of the 40K game which only used 200 points of models, with a few extra rules. A single squad of brave veterans against another small, elite force. It was a perfect entry game for Warhammer 40K.

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The Battle for Vedros boxes, which news leaked out about last year, are finally out, allowing children to have a cheap, easy to learn, introductory way into 40K. By using the old Black Reach snap fit models it kept costs down and made assembly easy for kids.

Then Blood Bowl returned. A fast and dynamic fun game, that did not need players to keep buying more models. The rules are relatively simple and it is more tactical than simply beating the opponent into submission. The turnover rule also means you need to think about what order to make moves, as a failed throw or a tripped player will end your turn.

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Now GW have brought out a series of boxes with a squad and a transport for little fore than the cost of a transport. £35 for a squad of marines in a drop pod, or Pathfinders in a Devilfish. Bargain. It is things like this that make people want to buy more.

My friend often complains that his wife can’t stop spending money. She goes out for some milk ans spends hundreds on things that were reduced, because she couldn’t resist a bargain. GW have suddenly noticed that bargains means sales.

It even looks like Sisters of Battle are finally getting plastic models and a new codex, after a decade and more of people crying out for both.

For Age of Simar they have done two great things.

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The first was Storm of Sigmar. A smaller introductory box for AoS, with just a few of the Stormcast Eternals and Bloodbound, along with dice and rules. Importantly it is only £20! That means that new players are getting to try the game for £20 ($33) instead of £95. They have also got starter paint boxes for both bloodbound and Stormcast for £10. Parents will happily put that under the Christmas tree and even better is that the best way to expand either force is with the pre-existing starter box. They have also got easy build boxes for the models in Storm of Sigmar, although buying the Storm of Sigmar box would get you the same models at half the cost.

In short, they are making it easy for kids to get into Age of Sigmar.

They have also brought back Island of Blood, albeit under a new name. Two full armies, with 74 models for just £50 (or $80). That is less than it cost when they discontinued the old boxed set, but this time you get twice as many bases, giving you a choice of what shaped bases to use. Spire of Dawn is a much better introduction into Age of Sigmar than the Age of Sigmar starter set.

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By bringing back some classic fantasy races this also makes AoS more accessible to people conceptually, than with the eternal, and pretty pointless, celestial struggle between the immortal warriors of Order and Chaos.

Well done Games Workshop. Well done Kevin Rountree.

 

A very quick battle

After my GSC game there was a guy at the club who I had not played against, who wanted a game. I needed to leave within the hour, but we decided to have a quick game and see how it went. To keep it quick we decided to play for kill points, with the same terrain. His orcs had completely obliterated the same GSC list earlier that afternoon, with the greatest of ease, so I was expecting a tough fight.379Turn 1: We had 4 matching dice rolls before I won initiative. I only kept the commander and drones in reserve. The rest was on the table. My opponent had 3 trucks full of boys, a shoota boyz squad behind a building and a commander with a bunch of bikers. He stole initiative from me and raced 24″ across the battlefield, firing off a few ineffective shots. His shootaz moved forward, into cover and fired shap shot. In total he took 1 wound from the broadside and killed 1 fire warrior.378My turn to retaliate. My pathfinders shot a truck, causing it to explode, killing most of the boyz inside. They were so shaken by the blast that they routed. My broadside shot at the bikers, killing a few of them. My other squad shot at another truck, but did not completely destroy it. My devilfish moved forward, to prevent the orcs from surrounding all the entry points.377Victory points: Orcs 0, Tau 2.

Turn 2:372 The orcs disembarked, swarming around to attack the pathfinders and the devilfish. Their shooting only killed 1 pathfinder, but they assaulted and overwhelmed the others and took up position in the ruin. The shootaz damaged my transport and the other boyz assaulted and destroyed the devilfish, forcing my tau to disembark.375The orcs attacking my broadside were unlucky. He got lucky on his overwatch and killed another orc and reduced the boss to 1 wound. The boss only had 2 orcs left. They managed to assault him and destroy him in melee.374It was now my turn to counterattack. My drones came down, ready to kill some orcs. My breacher team gunned down the nearby boys squad. My drones completely wiped out the second boyz squad, despite their cover and my fire warriors shot up the empty truck, causing a huge explosion, which engulfed my drones, killing 2.

Victory points: Orcs 2, Tau 5.

Turn 3: The surviving truck raced back across the battlefield, to join up with the shoota boyz. they shot up my fire warriors, killing several. The orc warboss charged at my drone squad, shooting a few, but was gunned down in a hail of fire from overwatch. The fleeing squad were still unable to rally. At this point my opponent conceded.

Victory points: Orcs 2, Tau 9

Overwhelming victory.

Analysis: Those drones kick ass! Overwatch works really well with drones, as they rely on twin linking, rather than skill. I got lucky with my broadside, but the orcs could not destroy my devilfish until after disembarking and once out of their trucks, they were very vulnerable to the weight of my str 5 shots. My list may not have any tank killers, but I can easily destroy orc transports and AP5 is good enough to ignore orc armour.

The whole battle took around 30 minutes.

Ambushing the ambushers

Last week I had my first game against a gene-stealer cult. I was also experimenting with an army list that I had not tried before.

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My force included a small group of pathfinders with 3 rail rifles, my broadside, a small fire warrior squad with a support turret and my two main squads. The first was a breacher team in a devil fish, led by an ethereal, as this had proved so useful in the past. The other was a squad of gun turrets led by a commander with a drone control link and counterfire defence system. After a lot of reading on the internet and talk with people in store, it seems that this is one of the few combinations that works through a drone controller. Thus my drones all effectively have BS5 and fire overwatch at BS2, twin linked. I had considered getting something to let them ignore cover, but decided against it, as in bigger games I want my crisis suit deathball to have that. I want to see how they get on without it.

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My opponent had a genestealer cult with two Leman Russ tanks and a couple of psychic HQ choices.

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Turn 1: The game started with very little on the board. My opponent had his tanks and one squad behind a building. I had my breacher transport, the small fire warrior squad and the broadside. Everything else was in reserve.

My opponent stole the initiative and his tanks gunned down my broadside. First blood to the GSC. My transport raced forward and there was a bit of shooting at the hidden squad, killing 2 men.

Victory points: GSC: 2, Tau: 0.

Turn 2: Oh no! All my opponents reserves came on.

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Two squads, with the psykers, rolled 5s fhe third squad rolled a 6 and would have been able to assault, but the hail of las gun fire predictably killed everybody in the squad. The tanks shot at the devilfish, but only scored 1 hit, with little effect. Fortunately my other units were not on the board, or things would have been a lot worse.

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Now it was my turn to hit back. My ethereal had a homing beacon, so my commander and the drones could safely drop within 6″. I lined them up so that they could all shoot at two of his squads, including the one with his general. My ethereal gave the breachers an extra shot each and they deployed, ready to gun down another squad. They scored 11 wounds, killing everyone except the HQ, who was badly wounded. My commander got a good hit with his airburst fragmentation launcher, scoring 8 wounds. The drones scored a further 16, completely killing the whole squad and the general.

Across the board, my pathfinders came on and shot a tank in the rear, scoring a penetrating hit, but rolling 1 for the effect.

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Victory points: GSC 3, Tau 3.

Round 3:

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The GSC infantry tried to shoot my drones, killing a few. The lone psyker made the mistake of joining up with them. The tanks turned themselves back to back, to protect their rears. One turned to shoot my pathfinders, killing the three with rail guns and routing them. The other shot at my devilfish, scoring another hit and destroying the weapon.

My commander and drones moved to get a clear line of sight on the infantry squad, gunning them down with the greatest of ease. The breacher team boarded the devilfish and raced across the battlefield.

victory points: GSC 3, Tau 5

Round 4: The tanks concentrated fire on my devilfish, but failed to score a clean hit. The infantry in the building managed to shoot one more of my drones.

I had no weapons which could harm the tanks either from in front or the side. I detached the drones from my devilfish and left them to shoot at the infantry, scoring two lucky hits. The devilfish raced around the building, hoping to get behind the tanks. My drones tried to move across my side of the battlefield, running and jumping to get into more cover, trying to approach the tanks from the opposite side.

victory points: GSC 3, Tau 5 (far enough forward to get 6 at the end)

Round 5: One tank shot at my devilfish, but didn’t destroy it. The other shot at my drone squad, killing several of them. My drones had got around the building and shot at the troops inside, ineffectually. I made the mistake of assaulting with the drones. They were gunned down by very lucky opportunity fire.  I then moved my devilfish forward, hoping that it might survive being rammed, so that the infantry could disembark far enough forward to run around the tank. My pathfinders rallied, but were too far away to do anything useful.

victory points: GSC 3, Tau 5.

Round 6:  It all goes horribly wrong. The tank rammed my devilfish, destroying it. The troops inside made an emergency disembarkation. The tank then gunned down half of the squad.  Instead of gunning down the shattered squad, I made the mistake of trying to run the squad forward, to get past the tank. My commander and the drones moved forward as fast as possible.  The pathfinders just moved to line up with their marker lights.

Victory points: GSC 4, Tau 5.

Round 7: One tank gunned down my breachers and the commander. The three extra victory points meant that it looked like it was all over and we almost called the game. The other shot up my commander, reducing him to 1 wound and killing all but 2 of the drones.

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The commander and the drones shot the other tank in the rear, destroying it completely. He then jumped forward far enough to score line breaker.

Battle ends.

Victory points: GSC: 7, Tau: 7. A draw.

Review: Firstly, I love the drone death ball. Fast moving and extremely deadly. This was a very close game. When the GSC came in so close I was worried, but there was very little for them to kill. If the GSC had not stolen initiative they would have hurt me badly. My aggressive tactics were too focused on the tanks and not enough on victory points. I really should not have ignored those last 4 infantry guys and I definitely need to give the commander a ranged weapon which can hurt tanks.