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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White Ghosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Turn 1:

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

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

Turn 2:

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

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

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

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Turn 3:

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

 

My commander and the other remora advanced on the sentinels.

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

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

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Result: Overwhelming Tau victory.

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

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

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

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.