First off, let me say how happy I am NOT to be painting Word Bearers right now. I love my Chaos marines, but after these last many weeks of doing that all day, every day, I'm happy to take a break. The fact that my buddy was willing to come over and roll some dice with me was a very welcome happenstance, and one that I hope to be wholly focused on for the next few weeks. Let's hope real-life keeps its ugly head away long enough for that to happen.
Now, with that out of the way, let's talk about the armies. My buddy brought his Tau and wanted to give it a good go. It's a rather bog-standard list, taken wholly from the 'old days' but using the new rules just to see how it worked. Here's what he brought:
HQ- Fireblade, (aka, the 'Warlord')
HQ- Ethereal, plus a shield drone
Troop- 10 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui rocking a Markerlight, a couple of gun drones
Troop- 10 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui rocking a Markerlight, a couple of gun drones
Troop- 10 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui rocking a Markerlight, a couple of gun drones
Troop- 10 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui rocking a Markerlight, a couple of gun drones, half Pulse Carbines
mounted in a Devilfish
Troops- a bunch of Kroot with Sniper rounds
Elite- 3 Crisis suits with Plasma guns and Missile Pods, a couple of gun drones
Elite- 8 Stealth suits
Fast Attack- a bunch of gun drones
Heavy- 2 Broadside suits with Railguns and Smart missiles, plus some gun drones
Heavy- Hammerhead with Railgun
Heavy- Hammerhead with Ion Cannon
To face them, I brought a red army, but loyalist this time. My buddy hates Blood Angels, and we wanted to test the 'ol 'assault vs. shooting' concept. Plus, this gives him the chance to take his hatred out on my army and make us all happy. Here's what I brought:
HQ- Captain with Thunderhammer and Infernus pistol, plus Jump Pack (also aka, the 'Warlord')
Troop- 10 Assault Marines with jump packs, Power Axe and Plasma pistol, Meltagun, Flamer
Troop- 10 Assault Marines with jump packs, Thunder Hammer, Meltagun, Flamer
Troop- 12 Death Company with jump packs, 2 Power Fists, 3 Power Swords
joined by Lemartes
Elite- Furioso with Blood Claws and extra armor
mounted in a Drop Pod
Elite- Sanguinary Priest with jump pack and Power Axe
Fast Attack- Baal Predator with Flamestorm cannon, Heavy Bolter sponsons, and Storm Bolter
Heavy- Predator Destructor with Heavy Bolter sponsons and Storm Bolter
Hmmmm, I'm not seeing a comparable number here... Please note that I didn't write his army list, so I don't exactly know what all he had on everything, but I do know that I wasn't terribly confident going into this battle. So what happened?
We rolled up the deployment and scenario, and rolled our least favorite for both- 'Hammer and Anvil' and 'Relic.' My buddy hates Relic with a vengeance, and you can understand how Tau would not enjoy that objective. I, meanwhile, hate having to pay against a shooty army (and Tau are the definition of that, for sure) with so much ground between us. This was not starting well.
We then rolled for deployment and first turn, and I won that roll-off. Yay! That would help a bit. Night Fight? Not today. Booooo. You win some, you lose some, I guess. The Relic was deployed dead-center (of course), not that either of our armies were terribly worried about it.
I deployed my forces on my 'side', placing the Predator in the middle and flanking it with each Assault Squad. I attached the Captain to the squad hiding behind the Shrine of the Aquila and attached the Sanguinary Priest to the other and hiding behind a crystal forest. My Vindicator was deployed on the far side of the Shrine, and with that my army was deployed. The Furioso and his Drop Pod would arrive in Turn 1 (no choice in the matter there), while the Death Company would arrive by Deep Strike themselves.
My buddy deployed his Tau everywhere on the other side of the battlefield. The Railgun-armed Hammerhead deployed on the far side of some ruins, while the Ion-cannon-armed one deployed opposite (therefore facing my Assault Squad and the Crystal Forest). The ruins near the first Hammerhead were populated with a squad of Fire Warriors and the Ethereal, then another squad in the middle, with the Broadsides behind them for the screen. In front of all that was the unit of Drones, screening everything. The third squad of Fire Warriors was deployed between the Ion-cannoned Hammerhead, and the fourth stayed in their Devilfish and crept up behind a small building towards the middle. His Stealth suits and Kroot both decided to stay behind and outflank me later. Everything he deployed was so far back that I counted at least three turns before I'd be able to make contact. That didn't bode well. And that's not even considering the massive amount of outnumbering that I was witnessing. Hmmm...
A roll to 'seize the initiative' and a failure, which led to a sigh of relief from me. You see, our game group seems to have a habit of seizing, and it's actually rather surprising when it doesn't happen. But I got to keep my first turn, and I planned on using that to the best of my ability.
I dropped the Furioso and his Drop Pod in the far back corner, right beside the Railgun-Hammerhead. Shooting at the side armor with the underslung Meltagun, I cheated and hit (it's in the rulebook that melta-weapons always miss), penetrated easily, and blew the vehicle to bits. That was a great start. The actual turn started off with me rushing the Vindicator forward and 'popping smoke.'. The Destructor rumbled up 6", preparing to shoot every weapon. My buddy was a bit annoyed by the fact that I had a ton of fast vehicles. But it's what we do. Letting loose at the closest Drones in the squadron, I dropped half the squad with Autocannon and Heavy Bolter shells. Both units of Assault Marines leapt forward and then ran, but neither understood that running is supposed to be fast. They each only moved 2". And with that, my turn was over.
The Tau answered by scooting the Ion Cannon into line of sight of my now-visible Assault Marines, fired, and killed a whole one. The Crisis team jumped foward and fired and killed one more. 'Feel no Pain' is a helluva rule! The rest of the Tau turned out to be too far away, and only the Drones could shoot and drop an Assault Marine. That may have been a tactical mistake on my buddy's part, but it was one I was willing to accept. After all, a free turn to rush forward, unmolested by massive firepower? Yes, please! The Furioso, now screened by a crater and some ruins, was shot by a bunch of markerlights and then the Broadsides. But the shells weren't primed and they simply bounced off his armour. My buddy was getting even more annoyed, and I apologized about the codex being good. His hatred, I'm sure, isn't abating anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Fire Warriors nearby and the ones in the ruins moved as far as they could to get away from the armoured behemoth stomping in their direction. Some jump-jet moves and the Crisis team and Drone squad were backed up into the rest of the army. It wasn't as bad a start as I expected.
Then my 'autowin' happened- the Death Company arrived (and that's without my reserve reroll) right behind the Crisis unit and Devilfish and shot their bolt pistols at the Crisis squad. Some great accuracy was equaled out by some terrible wounding, and his good armour saves saw only one wound being suffered. Oh well, that's not what Death Company are for. The Baal Predator refused to show up. No problem, the Death Company have this. My Destructor rushed foward another 6", ready to shoot some drones but instead shooting some Fire Warriors that happened to be in the open and killing some. The Vindicator rushed forward and took a 'hull-down' position behind a hill on the far side, and launched the massive shell right into the Tau lines. A poor scatter on my part saw the template fall away from the Crisis squad, and the Devilfish, and the Fire Warriors near that, and finally settle on some Drones. Two died. That's right. An anti-siege shell the size of a marine shoots and kills... two Drones. Bad Vindie, bad! The Furioso stomped into the Fire Warriors in front of the ruins, more than confident that he could wipe the unit out. My buddy predicted five dead. I rolled, got one hit and killed one (crushing the puny xenos in my claw), and rolled for the next only to miss. Um, bad Furioso, bad!? No worries, the Ethereal hadn't made his troops stubborn this round and the squad fled from combat. The Furioso happily cosolidated through the ruins and stood menacingly behind another unit of Fire Warriors and the Ethereal... Meanwhile, the Assault Squads rush up some more, do a little running, and are now wholly visible and still a turn from assaulting. I'm not worried. In fact, I have the look of 'smug' all over my face now. After all, how are Tau supposed to compete with Death Company?
His Kroot are stuck at the same Starbucks as my Baal Predator, so fail to show up in Turn 2. But the Stealth team is on-point and arrive on my side and position themselves to shoot up my Predator's side armour. Some unlucky dice and my buddy only succeeded in stripping away a single hull-point. The Destructor's TC probably chuckled to himself as he had no plans at all of staying. "Forward for the Emperor!" isn't just a warcry for the Angels of Baal... The Broadsides tried to shoot the Dreadnought, only to find nothing good for it. A unit of Fire Warriors surrounded the Furioso and then charged, hoping to plant some grenades. But they forgot the EMP grenades at home and then watched as the Furioso literally shredded the entire unit (there were 9 by this point, and I killed 18 after the dice stopped rolling. It easily made up for last turn). The other unit, with the Fireblade and Ethereal, shot at the onrushing Assault Squad led by the Captain and wiped half the enemy out, then ran as far away as they could, now seeing that the armoured behemoth wasn't something they could handle. The Devilfish disgorged the fourth unit of Fire Warriors and, teaming up with the Crisis team and nearby Drones, shot the other unit of Assault Marines until none were left standing except the Sanguinary Priest. Uh oh, now I'm starting to get a little worried. No problem, I still have the Death Company. Until a shrill 'whine' was raised across the battlefield as the surviving Hammerhead's Ion Cannon overcharged and a massive blast exploded right on top of my newly-arrived black-armoured unit. Not a single '1' rolled, and 'Feel no Pain' no good against instant death, I watched as all except Lemartes himself were vaporized. And Lemartes was finished off with some simple shots from Drones. The whole unit, gone. Now I have a big problem.
My third turn started off with less than half a squad of Assault Marines and a bunch of tanks standing. Rolling for my Baal, it seemed that he still didn't want to show up. Curse you, Baal! So what little I had left would have to do. And I had very little left. With my 'autowin' dead, I figured I was on the road to 'auto-lose'. My buddy was less confident of his victory as well, considering that I'd effectively killed half his army with a model that he couldn't handle, and was rushing a couple more tanks at him with the same armour value. I didn't think about that. But the game was only half over, so on to the action. My Destructor continued to trundle forward and shot most of the Fire Warriors from the Fireblade and Ethereal's ad-hoc bodyguard. The Vindicator crested the hill and fired his Demolisher cannon, killing more Fire Warriors and even splattering both Broadsides. The Furioso fired his weapons at the Fire Warriors trying to position themselves away, only to find that the Shas'ui was the closest target. It may not have been a big kill, but it was a kill nonetheless. A failed charge roll, and the Dreadnought stood there, biding his time. The remaining Assault Marines, now joined by the Sanguinary Priest, jumped over the building and stared menacingly at the Crisis team and un-assed Fire Warriors. Shooting their pistols and then charging both units, it turned out to be a terrible idea. My buddy rolled horrible for his overwatch and supporting fire and everything made it into combat. My character-laden unit accounted for two dead Fire Warriors, a single dead Drone, and no Crisis suits even scratched. In return, he killed a single marine and wounded the Captain, leaving two marines and the two characters alive. The results may have been in my favour, but it still seemed that I lost a combat against Tau. Really? I mean, really? Stupid defensive grenades. That's okay, the Fire Warriors ran away and my squad was safely stuck in combat against the Crisis suits.
His third turn saw the Kroot arrive and sneak behind the Shrine of the Aquila, probably thinking to take the relic when the time came. I noted that, but also noted that I couldn't see the unit to shoot at them. His Stealth suits moved to shoot the rear armour of my advancing Destructor, failing to do anything. The dice were in my favour so far. The fleeing Fire Warriors (the ones that escaped destruction at the hands of the Furioso) rallied and snuck foward, ready to take advantage of some support fire in case my squad made it that far. And his bodyguard Fire Warriors snuck back a little further, trying to stay out of range of the advancing tanks and flanking Dreadnought. Some shooting and few results, and it all came down to the combat. The remaining Drones and a couple more (from the Devilfish) dove into combat to save their Crisis Commanders, but they died and even the Crisis suits went down. In the process, one of the final two marines was dispatched. Only the Shas'el remained to face down a marine, a Sergeant with a Thunderhammer, a Sanguinary Priest, and the Captain, locking my unit down for another turn. It was great timing for my buddy, but the end-result was more than a little predictable. The game was definitely in my favour now.
My turn, and finally the Baal arrives. It rolls onto the field behind the rallied Fire Warriors and wipes out all but three of them with the Flamestorm cannon and bolter-weaponry. Glorious fire! And with that, the xenos fled again. Of course, I would have too under that much firepower. The Destructor fired at the remaining unit of Fire Warriors and killed all but the Fireblade and Ethereal, while the Dreadnought stomped forward and fired, killing the Fireblade. I had now taken the 'Slay the Warlord' objective. A great charge roll into the Ethereal and his Shield Drone, and it was done. I had now gotten the extra objective point from that. The Vindicator shifted its attention to the Stealth team and rolled towards the Shrine to shoot at them, and felled two. It wasn't enough, but it was something. Finally, the Captain and his unit finished off the Crisis Commander and consolidated backwards. The Sanguinary Priest and Sergeant had the plan to split off and start flying toward the Shrine themselves, while the Captain would run over to attack the remaining Hammerhead. There were no Tau left in his deployment zone (other than the two survivors fleeing and the Hammerhead), and the Blood Angels owned the battlefield by now. The game was now a matter of 'moral victories' for the Tau, and wipe-out of the xenos by the Imperials.
My buddy, now having to make some great calculations and try to pull it out, realized that the best he could get was a 'draw.' He started by ramming his Devilfish into the front armour of the Baal Predator, which actually damaged the Devilfish and left the marine tank unharmed. Now we know how that rule works... The Stealth team fired at the rear armor of the Destructor and finally felled it, leaving the relic in the middle completely unguarded. The Hammerhead turned his attention to the last few Assault Marines (a couple of characters and a dood), and again overcharged the Ion Cannon to let loose a massive explosion right in their ranks. Some Smart Missiles flew their way as well, but unfortunately the consolidate move had spread the unit far enough apart that only the Sergeant fell, leaving three models now. The fleeing Fire Warriors were tired of the mayhem and slaughter and simply fled from the battlefield, leaving little hope for the xenos. 4 objective points for the Blood Angels (Slay the Warlord, First Blood, Ethereal, and Line-breaker) and only 1 for the Tau (Line-breaker), the last hope was to grab the relic at the end of the game.
The Furioso turned and began the long trek back to the Shrine of the Aquila, following the Sanguinary Priest and his marine escort. The Vindicator rushed up and tried to shoot the Stealth team again, killing none as the xenos had advantage of the ruins AND the suits they wore. The Baal rushed over as well, hoping to eventually get close enough to fry some aliens, but not this round. Finally, the Captain jumped towards the Hammerhead, where he loosed a melta shot into it and stunned it, just in time to hit it with his Thunderhammer and smash it out of the sky. Another explosion and another wound (and no 'Feel no Pain'), leaving the Captain bloody and nearly spent himself. But nothing had changed so far.
His Devilfish rammed the exposed rear armor of the Baal and caused no damage at all. The Stealth suits fired into the side armour and stripped a hull-point from the Vindicator, and the team joined as the Kroot jumped out and charged the vehicles, hoping to get the extra move and even get lucky and kill a tank, but it wasn't enough. All hope was lost. The Blood Angels were closing in and there was nothing left to do but quit the battlefield.
The game ended with the Blood Angels winning 4-0, since the Kroot had quit the deployment zone to try and grab the objective. But the game was a great one. It was certainly a win, but it didn't feel like it until the last two 'lucky' turns. Until that point, I didn't think I had a chance. Especially after the Death Company were killed very easily. But it worked out, so I'll take it. This game was less about winning and more about 'trying stuff out', so let's talk about what we learned:
First, I was reminded that no game is over until the game is over. I'm a good sport in good games, but it depends more on the opponent than the game. Luckily, my buddy is an oooooold friend and I enjoy playing him. This game was the opposite of the last time we played, where he monkey-stomped me without breaking a sweat. This one went my way, and was still a great time.
Secondly, we determined that the Blood Angel codex doesn't suck. The Tau may be the 'new era of cheeze', but the Blood Angels haven't disappeared for the 'scene'. The Tau codex is very good as an entire army, but the BA have just as much cheese, only focused more in individual units.
We also learned that Tau don't have the ability to deal with heavy armour. The fact that I had 4 AV13 models on the field, and killed the ONE true Railgun in the army, meant that he couldn't take that stuff down. The Tau need the EMP grenades and multiple Hammerheads with Railguns. Otherwise, it's all a risk of having to get just the right angle with just the right weapons at just the right times. And we all know about the Tau's 'missile-spam', but that means little to heavy armour.
We learned that deep-striking armies have a major advantage. There's the whole idea of the Tau's long-range, high strength, multiple-shot firepower. But jumping right into their face mitigates a ton of that, and forces them to have to deal with the threat RIGHT NOW or die. Anyone trying to play the 'footslog' or 'long-range' game will find themselves outclassed quickly.
My buddy also got to witness some rather interesting tactical decisions on my part. Anyone playing against the Tau need to choose their targets wisely, and use firing angles to mitigate the chance of supporting fire. Despite his poor dice-rolls, it still hurt every time I tried to assault anything. Some smart shooting and great placement of templates can ruin the whole aspect of the supporting fire rule and make the Tau far less scary. I also got to witness some interesting decisions of the opposite nature on his part. With jump-jets and good movement, he was able to keep his support fire lanes together rather well. It should be noted here, on a side note, that the 'countermeasures' upgrade can be really valuable. I'm happy I didn't have to face that on Plasma gun-armed Crisis suits this time.
And finally, we learned that the Tau are a real hassle to play against. There were no real upgrades, no Riptides, and no Pathfinders from the new codex that I had to worry too much about in this game. The next time we play, he may have the Riptide and Pathfinder-spam that I'm so worried about. I may have won this battle this time, but I was playing against modified 'old and busted', with the 'new hotness' still to be seen. Oh man.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this rather long and un-illustrated battle report. Let me know your experience against the new Tau.