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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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.

Tau combat patrol

The Tau vessel slowed, as it closed on the marine’s position. Their barrage of bolter fire clattered ineffectively off the armour plating. The vector thrusters kicked up sand and grit as the alien pilot brought the vessel around sharply. They were clearly planning to assault. It seemed like an unusually bold approach for aliens as cowardly as the Tau. The boarding ramp slammed down into the dirt, and the aliens within burst out shooting. They were not the tall, thin xenos that the marines had been expecting. Instead they were wiry, blue lizards, shorter than tau, but wielding similar weaponry and marking. Their targeting systems allowed the alien weapons to fire with accuracy that a marine would have been proud off and the pulse weapons seared through the marines armour with far more power than the brother sergeant had been expecting. Brother sergeant Andoran coughed up blood, as his internal organs bubbled and ruptured. His whole squad had been gunned down in seconds. A last question hung on the dying lips of the brother sergeant, as he felt his spirit drifting from his ruined body. “What are those things?”

I am pretty new to Tau and have been too busy this year to play as many games as I would like. Since the 24 hour painting challenge I have only had three games. The first two were teaching games in which I was completely massacred. However I thought that I had started to see how I could use the Tau more effectively.

In my local club most of the regular players tend to field some very elite forces, with lots of elite units, super heavy tanks, flyers and lords of war. My fairly basic Tau force is not really equipped for that sort of enemy. However, this month they were running a 750 point combat patrol tournament.

I was not free on Sundays, and didn’t get to play in the tournament, but I did get one of the club members to give me a game, using a 750 point list that I had built using the clubs amended combat patrol rules. (the only difference was that 3 wound unnamed HQ choices are allowed, in order to give a few more HQ options)

My HQ was a Cadre fireblade, attached to a 10 man fire warrior squad with no upgrades. I had a 4 man crisis battlesuit squad with plasma rifles, airburst fragmentation launchers and early warning override, two squads of 4 pathfinders with 3 rail guns each and my skink breacher team in a devilfish transport with countermeasures (for a +1 cover save).

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Round 1: I deployed and started first. we were playing to control 3 objectives. My fire warriors were in cover  on my right, near an objective. The devilfish was in the table center and the battlesuits were on my left. My opponent only had 10 marines on the table, in squads of 5. The other forces on both sides were in reserve. The devilfish moved forward at full speed, as did the crisis suits. The marines fired a few shots, ineffectively, and the squad on my right broke cover, moving closer to an objective.

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Round 2: My devilfish moved close enough to the marines on my right to deploy the skinks, who moved to within a few inches. On my left a squad or pathfinders came from reserve. My crisis suits were still the far side of a ruin from the marines.

My fireblade lit up the marines with a markerlight and his squad fired at them, killing one. The skinks shot with improved accuracy, wiping out the remaining marines effortlessly. On the other flank my pathfinders killed a couple of marines (rolling very badly) but my crisis suits also landed a few airburst templates on them, leaving only one marine alive on the board.

All the marine reserves arrived. A squad of terminators (the only unit that didn’t fit the combat patrol rules, as my opponent didn’t have all his other miniatures at the shop) came down safely behind cover, to avoid my interceptor shots, but Luke forgot that interceptor also works on infiltrators. Two bike squads came in, one on either flank.

The terminators shot at my fire warriors, but I was lucky and only lost 1 man. On the right flank they shot up my skinks, killing nearly half the squad, but failing to rout them. On the left flank my crisis suits opened fire first, hitting with all four templates and wiping out the whole squad, before I even had a chance to roll for the plasma. Now you see them… now you don’t.

The lone marine heroically charged my pathfinders, routing them off the board.

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Round 3: The fire warriors shot up the terminators a bit, killing one man. The cadre fireblade lit up a bike squad, allowing my remaining skinks to kill three of the bikers. My pathfinders came in on the wrong flank and tried to get a line of sight on the terminators, but rolled badly. The devilfish deployed the drones and gunned down the lone marine.

The terminators opened fire on my battlesuits and missiles killed two of them. The remaining two bikers bypassed the skinks and assaulted my battlesuits, killing another, but taking a casualty.

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Round 4: My skinks moved into position, to shoot the bikers, once they killed my last crisis suit. The fireblade supported the pathfinders and fire warriors, shooting at the terminators. We only killed one, but he had the missiles. The terminators shot my drones and tried to move close enough to assault my devilfish. The last biker and crisis suit remained locked in combat, with no casualties.

Round 5: My pathfinders and fire warriors continued to whittle away at the terminators, killing one more. The pathfinders moved onto an objective and the devilfish moved onto the third. The terminators failed to destroy the devilfish and my skinks joined the assault on the last biker, with nobody dying.

game over. I held all 3 objectives and won overwhelmingly. A great victory for the greater good.

My forces clearly needed to keep out of close combat, but had done extremely well in the first shooting engagements. The crisis team were extremely effective and my breacher team had far exceeded their points value in their kills. The fire warriors had done little, but the cadre fireblade had made my other units far more effective. As a combat patrol list, I wouldn’t change anything.