“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.