Thursday, 4 March 2010

Battle Report - Tau vs Choas Space Marines - 1750 Pts


I managed to get a game in at my local club, I was playing a friendly chaos list. Dave (my opponent) hasn't played with his chaos in a while and wanted to give them a whirl.
Dave hates cheesy spam and is more of a painter than a hard-core win at all costs hobbyist, so I wasn't facing dual lash or anything like that, actually in my eyes the list appeared quite tame. Here's his list:

Chaos Lord (4+ inv save, and other stuff that I never found out about)
6 Possessed (that rolled Feel No Pain, as there special ability)

10 Chaos Space Marines (with 2 special weapons, and champion with icon*, but importantly no heavy weapon)

8 Khrone Berserkers (Champion & 2 Plasma pistols with icon*)
in Rhino

13 Daemons

5 Chaos Terminators with Combi Bolters and a Heav y Flamer
in a Land Raider with possession**
Vindicator with possession**

Defiler armed with Battlecannon & Aut ocannon with possession**

* this allowed the daemons to not scatter if they deep-striked within 6"
** this allows the vehicle to ignore crew stunned and crew shaken results

There's bound to be wargear I don't remember (such as whether the champion has powerfists or powerweapons). As a Tau player you look at units like a chaos lord and you know what ever he's armed with he'll kill what ever he charges in close combat :) So when reading an army list I fly over those units, and am more concerned with no. of transports and number of long ranged guns. In game I'd ask what specific weapons assault units have when it would affect my decision on what to shoot, or run away from :)

No lash, no obliterators, only 2 transports, and not too much long range firepower, although the terminators in a land raider and the 2 ordnance templates were scary it could have been

I was using my new list:
Shas'el Commander – 110
Plasma Rifle, Cyclic Ion Blaster, Multi-tracker,
Hard-wired Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones

Crisis Battle Suit Team - 137
1 Crisis Battlesuit with
Twin-linked Flamers, Missile Pod
2 Crisis Battlesuit with
Twin-linked Missile Pods, Flamer

Crisis Battle Suit Team - 163
1 Crisis Battlesuit with
Twin-linked Missile Pods
Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones
2 Crisis Battlesuits with
Missile Pod, Burst Cannon, Multi-tracker

Crisis Battle Suit Team - 186
3 Crisis Battlesuits with
Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi-tracker

6 Fire Warriors – 60

10 Kroot & 5 Kroot Hounds – 100

10 Kroot – 70

6 Pathfinders – 72
Devilfish with Disruption Pods – 85

6 Pathfinders – 72
Devilfish with Disruption Pods – 85

Hammerhead Battle Tank – 165
Railgun, Burst Cannons, Multi-tracker, Disruption Pods

Hammerhead Battle Tank – 165
Railgun, Burst Cannons, Multi-tracker, Disruption Pods

Broadside Battlesuit Team - 280
Broadside Team Leader with
Advanced Stabilisation System, Hard-Wired Target Lock
Hard-Wired Drone Controller with 2 Shield Drones
2 Broadsides with Advanced Stabilisation Systems

Total Points: 1750 (70 Models and 16 Kill Points)

We rolled up a table quarter deployment, and Annihilation (kill points) mission. I had 16 kill points to Dave's 10, and Dave won the roll off for 1st turn and decided to take it. He choose the top right hand corner of the map.

Terrain (from my point of view) was:

The building in the centre of the battlefield was open on the ground floor, and the dotted line showed where line of sight was visible to the middle area on the ground floor.

The small ruin in my deployment zone had some high walls so that it was just possible to put the deathrain suits in while being out of sight of the chaos army starting position.

The rectangular terrain pieces are small walls and/or tank traps, while the L-shaped pieces are ruined walls with rumble (which we counted as area terrain).


The choas space marine squad deployed in the ruin in the top right hand corner. To the right of that building the landraider with the terminators in deployed ready to race towards my line.

The choas lord deployed with the possessed out of sight behind the central building. While the rest of the armour deployed to the north of the central building as far forwards as possible, nearest the central building towards the top of the map there was defiler, vindicator & rhino with khorne berkserkers in.

In the bottom right hand corner of my deployment zone I placed one of the pathfinder devilfish (to extract the pathfinders if trouble game along), followed by both pathfinders in the two L-shaped ruined walls in the bottom right hand corner of my deployment zone, giving them perfect views of the approach of the landraider and where the defiler, vindicator and khrone rhino.

The missile pod and burst cannon crisis suits deployed between the two L-shaped walls, gaining a cover save from the walls and the pathfinders. The broadsides deployed to the left of the L-shaped ruins. The twin missile pod crisis suits deployed in the ruin in my deployment zone (out of line of sight), and the shas'el with the plamsa & missile crisis suits deployed behind the building.

The hammerheads deployed back in my back corner, with the devilfish.

Thoughts on Deployment

I was suprised the terminator land raider was so far away, so my aim was to stop or kill the landraider early which should give me time to kill the rest of the choas army before the terminators finished the long walk to my lines. With 5 railgun and 18 missile pod shots my aim was to destroy or immobilise the land raider, then deal with the rhino, vindicator & defiler before moving forwards to pick one squad at a time to rack up the kill points. My fragile troosp would stay in reserve, and the kroot would either hide or form a sacrifical screen if the enemy got to my lines. Lets see you it went ...

I failed to steal the initiative, so it's was onto Dave's 1st turn.

Choas Turn One

The landraider moved forwards 12". The khorne rhino moved left behind the L-shaped wall, gaining a cover save. The vindicator moved passed the walls, and the defiler moved forward as well. Everything stayed still.

The defiler couldn't see the crisis suits, but could just see the devilfish over part of the ruin in my deployment zone. The shot scattered onto my (out of line of sight) shas'el' and crisis unit. I took two wounds, and put them on the drones who both failed their cover save, however I passed my morale test.

Tau Turn One

The devilfish and the a hammerhead moved up the left flank, giving line of sight for the hammerhead to fire on the vindicator. The other hammerhead and the broadsides had line of sight to both the landraider and the enemy vehicles in the centre of the board. Crisis suits moved to put missile pods into the defiler.

The right hand pathfinders lit up the landraider, and the three broadsides could only immobolise it.

The hammerhead on the left flank tried a shot at the vindicator but didn't do anything, the remaining railguin and all the missile pods failed to do anything to the defiler (even with the help of markerlight hits from the other pathfinder squad.

So the net result of 5 railguns and 9 missile pods (guided by 12 markerlights) was 0 kill points :(

Choas Turn 2

The deamons arrived from deepstrike. Dave could risk deepstriking them forwards, but if they couldn't assault they'd be an easy kill point. Dave eventually decided to conserve the kill point by deepstriking them within 6" of the choas marines on the building in his deployment zone. They landed behind the building out of line of sight and both them and the choas space marines would play no further part in the battle.

The Khorne rhino immobolised itself going over the ruined wall, so the khorne berserkers decided to get out in the cover. The vindicator and the defiler continued advancing towards the Tau lines, and the terminators got out of the landraider and started the slow walk towards the Tau.

The rest of the choas army stayed still, not willing to advance into the open.

The Choas could only fire a BS3 twin-linked lascannon from the landraider, and the two ordnace templates; what's the worse that could happen...

The landraider targeted the devilfish near the pathfinders (it only only fire one lascannon because of the way the landraider was facing, but managed to wreak the devilfish, as I failed my diruption poid save.

The vindicator fired on a hammerhead, didn't scatter and I failed by disruption pod save again, and one explosion later I was down 2-0 on kill points.

The defiler fired on the devilfish (which to the behind and to the left of the ruin in my deployment zone). It did a huge scatter right onto the shas'el and the crisis suit unit. Hitting all four, but only wounding 3 times, I was lucky to make 2 cover saves and only lose 1 suit. However I failed my ld9 morale test and 14" right off the board.

With the bad moraole test followed by a lightning fast withdrawl I was 4-0 down, and had lost the plasma rifles that were hiding to deal with the choas lord and the possessed :(

Tau Turn 2

The broadside team leader (the highest ranking Tau on the battlefield) came over the comm-link "Our shas'el is only withdrawing to establish contact our extraction team, hold the line, help is on the way".

The fire warrior unit and one of the kroot units came on the board in the back corner of my deployment zone. There wasn't much movement for the Tau apart from the usual jump-shoot-jump of the crisis teams.

The pathfinders markerlighted the defiler, and 2 of the broadsides opened up on it, doing no damage at all. The broadside leader shot at the landraider and blew off the lascannon closest to the the Tau board edge, meaning the pathfinders and missile/burst crisis team were safe from lascannon fire.

The missile/burst crisis team could see the side armour of the vindicator, put again their fire did nothing. The deathrain/flamer team fired at the defiler and also did nothing (so they made their assault move backwards behind the ruin in my deployment zone to get more distance between themselves and the defiler. The remaining hamerhead shot the vindicator and immolised it.

Still 4-0 to choas on kill points.

Choas Turn 3

Like a shark sensing blood in the water the choas army approached with everything, apart from the choas space marines and the daemons.

The lord and possessed, moved and ran through the building popping out within 12" of the right hand pathfinders. The terminators advanced into boltgun range of the right hand pathfinders.

The khorne berserkers advanced towards the forest, and the defiler continued it's advance towards the Tau lines.

The heavy bolter from the landraider and 4 combi bolters from the terminators kill 5 of the 6 pathfinders on the right. The pathfinders promtly ran making it 5-0 to choas.

The defiler shot at the devilfish hoping for a 3rd lucky scatter but this it scattered into the open and did nothing.

The immobolised vindicator couldn't see past the ruin, and some kroot it could see near my table edge were out of range.

Tau Turn 3

The last unit of kroot arrived and joined the other troop choices and the devilfish gun drones in the back corner of my deployment zone.
Seeing the lord and 5 possessed at 2 kill points I decided to fire at them. Hopeing railguns could instant kill the lord the next turn. However I still started by fireing the pathfinders and then the broadsides at the defiler. the defiler at last exploded.

A hammerhead submunition and the missile/burst crisis suits killed 3 of the possessed, while the deathains blew the storm bolter off the immobolised rhino.

Still 5-1 in kill points to choas, things were looking desperate, but at least my base was safe with the vindicator nothaving line of sight and the defiler dead.

Choas Turn 4

The khorne berserkers made it to the forest, and the terminators advanced into range of the remainging pathfinder squad. The lord and 2 remaining possessed decided the retreat was the better part of value (particularly as the only unit that they were in charge range of had run off the turn before.

The heavy bolter from the landraider only killed a pathfinder, finishing a quick choas turn.

Tau Turn 4

This turn was the last chance to kill the lord and possessed to get 2 kill points beofre they reached the safety of the other side of the central ruin. The pathfinders lit them up, and both crisis teams fired on them, but did not casualties. The broadsides used the markerlight hits to give the +1 BS, and reduce their cover save to 6+, 3 hits and 3 wounds later it was looking good, however the lord passed his 4+ inv save, and one of the possessed passed their 6+ cover save - Darn it !!

The hammerhead which couldn't see the possessed fired on the land raider but didn't do anything.

Choas Turn 5

The lord and remaining possessed made it to the safe side of the central ruin, and the rhino managed to un-immobolise itself.

The khorne berserkers stayed in the forest.

The landraider's heavy bolter and the terminators bolters killed another pathfinder.

Tau Turn 5

The game could end, so I had to get some kill points.

The missile/burst crisis team fired on the side armour of the vindicator but couldn't do anything, so the pathfinders lit up the vindicator, and two of the broadsides shot and wreaked it. The broadside team leader and the hammerhead fired at the landraider but could do anything to it.

The remaining crisis team fired at the rhino and immobolised it again (if it hadn't un-immobolised itself the previous turn it would have been wreaked).

The battlefield situation had been stablised. The landraider couldn't move and could only fire it's heavy bolter (while facing 4 railguns). The terminators were in the walking in the open. The lord and last possessed were in hiding, and the khorne berserkers could either be engaged or outrun.

However at the moment the shas'el contacted the broadside leader giving the order to retreat to the extration point. Tthe broadside leader relayed the order to the rest of the Tau troops, and with that the game ended 5-2 to choas.


I still think with the choas army list and their deployment this should have been an easy game for the Tau. My 5 railguns, 9 missile pods and 4 plasma rifles were outshoot by a defiler, vindicator, landraider and 4 terminator combi-bolters.

The pivotal moments were the defiler shot scattering onto the shas'el unit and them running 14" off the board, and the inability to kill the defiler and vindicator to turns 4 & 5, even with markerlights and side shots on the vindicator.

Even though the shas'el and fireknifes (plasma/missile suits) didn't do anything, this game showed their potential, if they survived they would been able to deal with the berserkers and/or the lord/possessed if they approached. With 2 markerlight hits they should kill 7.8 marines on average, and their plasma rifles would have been great to ignore the possessed feel no pain.

I could upgrade the shas'el to a shas'o to help with leadership checks, but I don't think the 25 pts is worth it. It wouldn't have helped in this game because I rolled an 11, and it only halves the chance (from 1 in 6 to 1 in 12) that they fail a morale check, ie. on average the leadership increase will only make a difference in 1 in 12 leadership checks. Plus in the situation of this game if they had fled any less they would still have been on the board and would have an 83% chance to rally and stay in the game.

The devilfish drones again didn't change the outcome of a kill points game, in this game they immediately left the devilfish and hid. Also having more firepower (although it couldn't damage much for the first 3 turns) was better than having more troops.
One thing I could do is spread out the plasma rifles. losing the shas'el and the plasma/missile team was such a blow because it was all of my plasma rifles. Two solutions are:

1) Change the missile/burst team and the plasma/missile team to:

Team 1:
1 Shas'ui with Twin Missile & 2 Gun drones
2 Shas'ui with Plasma & Missile

Team 2:
1 Shas'ui with Plasma/Missile
2 Shas'ui with Missile/Burst

The shas'el would join team 2.

Although this would split up the plasma rifles it wouldn't allow me to make use of markerlights for all the plasma without having twice the markerlight hits. It's a trade of between redundancy and efficientcy.

2) Another solution would be to have more plasma rifles. I could reduce the pathfinders to two units of 5, while upgrading the 2 missile/burst crisis suits to missile/plasma.

The drop in markerlights could be offset by changing a hammerhead to a skyray (making the change more plasma for 1 less railgun rather than more plasma for 2 less markerlights).

This option would be fine against MEQ armies, but having the burst cannons help to torrent to death enemies in cover and GEQ armies.
Both options are tempting, but I don't like make tweaks based on one game (particularly when I thought my performance more due to my dice rather than the way I played or the army list), so I will play with my current list for at least the next few games, while keeping these thoughts in mind.

Feel free to throw in your thoughts on the Tau performance, the way I used them, and what I should change. Also any feedback on the format of the report (eg. too long/short. more/less narrative style etc.) would be appreciated.

Next game will be against Orks, with probably a rematch against Lysander at the weekend.



  1. Fixed the formatting issues, it's a lot more readable now.

    Looking forwards to your comments.


  2. Would have liked to see more pictures. Now it was quite difficult to follow.



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