Sunday, 7 November 2010

[Tau] Starsmash Tournament Day Two - Game Four (Complete)

So after a very disappointing first day at the Starsmash tournament, it was back to try and get some pride (and with a little luck a mid table placing).

A quick recap of day one was:
  • massacred by deamons (to many very very fast cavalry/beasts models)
  • lost on the bottom table to demons (won on vps by about 1000, but ran out of troops, not helped by some bad playing decisions from me)
  • finally got a win against an outflanking khan marine list

Scenario and Deployment

This game had the second of two new scenarios created for this tournament, normal deployment, and the game started with only one objective on the board (placed in the exact centre of the board). The interesting twist was that when the each side's most expensive HQ and two most expensive troop choices died (or ran off the board) they would drop an objective.

I was up against another marine army (normally a good sign for my Tau). The list I was facing was a balanced affair with the only weakness being only three small troop choices (abiet mech-ed up):

Libby with Null Zone and Ap3 Flamer power
5 Assault Terminators in a Standard Landraider
3 units of 5 marines in razorbacks
2 landspeeders with multi-melta and heavy flamer
1 landspeeder with heavy bolter and typhoon missiles
2 vindicators

Now Tau hate only one objective missions, as you can't split the enemy up, as a sensible opponent will have the majority of his army going for the objective. At first look the extra objectives that could be dropped might not help too much as Tau can easily de-mech and kill 5 marines, however they normally do it at a distance which means the objective they drop would just be claimed by another of the troop choices.

I would have to play differently. I would have to try to lure the troops choices to engage me, and leave killing them till they have advanced enough for me to grab the objective, also care sacrificing of a kroot unit could give me another objective.

I won the roll off for table side and first turn and promptly gave the choice of table side and first turn to my opponent.

He set up in the middle as far forward as possible with the landraider flanked by the two vindicators. The three rhinos were deployed behind them with the libby in the middle rhino. The missile landspeeder deployed centrally far back while the other two decided to deepstrike with such juicy targets as kroot to flame and hammerheads to pop.

It appeared that he favoured my right hand flank a bit from his deployment, from the deployment of his landspeeder, and this was probably due to the fact there was more terrain there. In the top right hand corner he had a forest, half way up the table on the far right hand side there was another forest, and 12" to the right of middle of the table just inside his side of the table there was the huge Temple of Skulls scenery piece (see pic) which would give good cover for his vehicles from my missile pod toting crisis suits.
There was a forest in my bottom left hand quadrant and that area of the board had the best LOS for long range railguns shots therefore I put a unit of kroot in the forest (well half the unit so I could go to ground for a 2+ cover save). The broadsides were placed on the left flank as far forward and left as possible with the aim of walking up the flank slinging railguns slugs into things. In that corner I also placed the railgun hammerhead and the full unit of fireknife crisis suits. This corner was a lure to hopefully fall back, eventually sacrifice the kroot to drop an objective and then annihilate any remaining enemy to allow a reserved unit of kroot to walk on and take an objective.

In the middle of my deployment zone there were some craters, into which I placed the pathfinders as far back as possible. On their own they would die, but had good LOS to sight to all the enemy armour and there was nothing else nearby if the enemy wanted to assault them.

In the right hand corner I placed the ion cannon hammerhead, with the pathfinder devilfish next in. About 20" in from the right flank there was a building, so I placed the missile pod and burst cannon suits on the right side of it, and my commander and two freknifes behind it.

The fire warriors and second unit of kroot went into reserve.

This could be an almost impossible mission for me. If my opponent only advanced to the middle objective and sat there. He could claim the middle objective, and even if I killed one of his troop choices the objective would just be claimed by one of the others. By going to ground behind the wreaks of his vehciles I doubt I could wipe out his entire army so I could get one of my fragile troops up the board to get to the objective. I had to appear weak, so he would continue to advance on me.

Turn One to Four

I failed to seize the initiative, and the marine armoured column moved 12" forwards, with the left hand vindicator heading slightly left (it didn't want side armour shots). The rhino with the libby stayed right behind the landraider and the other two veered slightly right to sit behind the Temple of Skulls. The landspeeder dropped a crisis suit drone, but a contender for shot of the match went to one of the razorback crews who spoted part of the ion cannon hammerhead with it's lascannon, hit > pen > failed d.pod save > explosion from the first shot of the match :) The Tau had to have a response to that.

The pathfinders lit up the landraider, and 3 railguns slugs from the broadsides later and it was a wreck. I couldn't complain but I could really have done with an explosion as now the rhino behind it was completely hidden for the moment, and would probably stay there until it moved over the wreckage to get the objective on turn 5.

The terminators were given some missile pod love and luckily one of the brutes fell over dead. Missile pods from the right flank immobolised and stunned the landspeeder plus stopped the right hand vindicator from firing.

The marines turn two started with the terminators advancing on the left hand flank and the vindicator preparing to fire on the kroot (the only unit in range). The libby and squad in a rhino stayed behind the landraider wreckage, and the other two moved right going round the temple of skulls.

A landspeeder tried to deepstrike to flame the kroot, but mishapped and died. To add insult to injury the vindicator on the left flank scatter and didn't even kill a kroot. On the right flank the devilfish's d.pods decided to work unlike the hammerheads and survived the razorbacks shots.

The missile pods on the far right flank started shooting at the immobolised landspeeder, now there was no cover but the crisis suits only managed to destroy the landspeeder in the last turn of the game.

With the help of markerlights the vindicator on the left flank was destroyed, and the one to the right of the landraider wreck was immolised and had the cannon blown off, leaving it a bumper car with a storm bolter :)

Crisis suit and kroot fire wittled the terminators down to 2 (in hind sight 3 left would have been better). Moving the hammerhead and crisis suits aggressivily forward toward the terminators, and then putting the kroot in the way I was hoping the pull the terminators into charging the kroot (I badly needed an objective I would get).

The shas'el and fireknifes on the right didn't really know what to do with themselves, they could start killing the marines on that flank until they were seperated and closer to me, otherwise the second unit would claim an objective if the first died so fired at the vindicator only stunning it.

At the start of the marine's third turn the last melta/flamer speeder deepstriked for the pathfinders after seeing what it was doing to the broadsides, lady luck smiled on me and it scattered right off the board to never return (a second destroyed result on the mishap table).

The libby's rhino once again stayed still, but the next one along to the right sped right over the temple straight at the Tau lines, the rhino furthest right advanced around the temple (to the right). At this point I think my opponent should have pulled back to the centre objective, but he had been taking a pounding and probably thought if he could just reach combat.

The terminators (2 left) were within range of the kroot and charged in (nothing much happened in the shooting phase); then it all started to go weird...

...the kroot killed one of the terminators before they struck, but luckily the remaining terminator killed two kroot, however the plucky kroot passed their morale test. The nearby crisis suit unit with plasma rifles at the ready were not expecting that. Even the fire warriors who had come on from reserve in that corner only after being promised that there was no threat over there were a little worried. They thought all they had to do was stay low and pick up an objective the kroot should be dropping soon.

All I could do in my turn was decide where was the best place for the crisis suits to be charged (which was away from the hammerhead, near my table edge towards the centre). In my shooting missile pods and railguns failed to kill the rhino with smoke that had come crashing over the temple of skulls :( In my combat phase the kroot luckily didn't kill the last terminator who cut down 2 more kroot and they broke. The terminator consolidated next to the kroot (ready to charge the crisis suits and stop the kroot from rallying). The terminator then charged the crisis suits (still staying in range to stop the kroot rallying)...

[crisis suit channel communcation extract]

Shas'el Rathstar: I understand team leader, hold the terminator off so the kroot can escape, they will be dropping a package for the fire warriors to pick up later.

Fireknife Team Leader: Shas'el Rathstar we have eliminated the enemy, our combat drone distracted the enemy by using the same technique the kroot used to kill one earlier, and I was able to dispatch him.

Shas'el Rathstar: WTF !! Are the kroot still disengaging, after all, they have taken significant casulties ?

Fireknife Team Leader: They have been inspired by our combat prowess and are staying in the fight. I could get used to this close combat :)

Shas'el Rathstar: Drat and Double Drat, #@^%££% !!!

[end of communication extract]

Tau overperforming in close combat losing me an easy objective - Damn.

On the otherside of the field the marines in the middle continued forwards and hopped out of their rhino to rapid fire the pathfinders, and along with casulties from the vindicators storm bolters the remaining pathfinders decided they had done enough and left the field.

The Tau response was quick. The disembarked marines were killed leaving an objective 10" from my table edge. the rhino on the right flank was immobolising effectively leaving the squad out in no mans land. If they got out they would die, but I wouldn't have anything to claim any objective may drop.

The devilfish on the left flank had moved along my board edge behind the building the shas'el started behind, but unfortunately immobolised itself trying to leave the terrain (there wasn't space behind the building to completely fit the devilfish). The second unit of kroot who had come on a turn earlier and hid in the devilfish were forced to get out to get the objective dropped by the destroyed marines. However by putting most of the unit in the building they were happy to go to ground for a 3+ cover save if they took fire.

So moving into the marines turn 5 the Tau were 1-0 up (should be 2-0 - stupidily brave kroot and terminator killing crisis suits). However the libby and a marine squad were in a rhino behind the landraider wreck inches from gaining the middle objective.

Turns Five

[after a brief break, due to real life getting in the way (2 job interviews plus other stuff) here is the rest of the battle report]

The rhino in the centre with the libby, moved into the wreak of the landraider (didn't immobolise itself) leaving the front of the rhino just touching the objective. The libby and marines couldn't dare getting out of the rhino and facing the Tau firepower, so the razorback just popped smoke. The other marine squad in an immobolised rhino on the right flank stayed put.

Storm bolter shots (from the vindicator) took off a crisis suit drone, and the lascannon from the right hand rhino took off another drone.

My opponent had forgot one of the most dangerous contesting units in the Tau arsenal, yes the magnificant discs of doom. As soon as I moved my two disembarked devilfish drones my opponent realised his mistake.

Because he realised my plan I was worried that if I blew up the rhino the disembarked marines would stop the drones from getting within 3" of the objective. In hindsight this was wrong, because if I exploded it the marines would have to deploy within the wreakage, and even if I just wrecked the rhino they would have to be within 2" of the door which would not have stopped the drones from being within 3" of my side of the objective.

Due to my wrong assumption I did not fire on the rhino, but moved up with both my shas'el and his unit of two crisis suits, plus the unit of fireknifes on the left.

The drones ran and assault moved to within 3" of the objective. I am currently winning 1-0 on objectives, and the dice is rolled to see if the game continues...

...The game goes on :(

Turn Six

The rhino with the libby in moves forwards onto my side of the board to try and stop any contesting trickery in my next turn. The rhino positions itself pointing towards the bottom left hand corner of the board, with the side exit about 2" from the objective on my side. Now if I kill the rhino the marines inside will definitely be able to deploy to stop me contesting the objective.

The libby decides it is time to do something, so he disembarks on is own out of the right hand exit, and uses his psyhic power to flame the two drones.

All is not lost I think, because if the left hand unit of fireknifes sacrifices their shooting they can make it to contest the objective, which they promtly do. As I can't dare shoot the rhino everything that can see the libby (all apart from the broadsides and the missile/burst crisis suits still firing at the immobolised landspeeder) open up on him (he's not getting a cover save from any of it). After a railgun, 2 rapid firing plasma rifles, 2 missile pods, and a cyclic ion blaster later the dust clears...

...and he's still alive !! Not to worry I'm 1-0 up on objectives, so we roll the dice to see of the game continues...

Turn Seven

The libby runs round the rhino as assaults the crisis suits contesting the objective (the same crisis suits which killed a terminator earlier). The marines in the rhino in the middle stay hiding in their rhino, and the rhino and marines on the right flank also do nothing.

The crisis suits are unable to repeat their performance in close combat and lose to the libby put stay in combat, unfortunately they have been pulled away from the objective by the combat.

1-1 on objectives going into the final Tau turn.

I was too cautious with the shas'el's unit, and they a bit further back than they should have been, but if the shas'el leaves them and runs he may have enough movement to jump over the rhino to contest the objective. Again I have so many guns looking at the rhino but can't dare fire at it, because it's unlikely that I'd be able to kill all 5 marines as well. I so wish I had taken the chance in turn 5 and blown up the rhino.

My shas'el runs a pitiful 3", and with his 6" assault phase jump he is millimetres from clearing the both the rhino and the immolises vindicator by the required 1", so the game ends in a draw.

Tau losses:

Ion Cannon hammerhead
Devilfish was immobolised
Few kroot and few drones
Two crisis suits from the unit in combat with the libby

Marines survivers:

2 units of 5 marines in razorback
an immolised and cannon-less vindicator

A disappointing loss, but I did make some dire mistakes that I only remembered while I was writing up this battle report.

1) I should have killed the middle rhino on turn 5
2) On turn 6 I should have killed the immobolised vindicator (it may have allowed my shas'el to make the jump to the objective
3) I shouldn't have been so cautious with the shas'el (the marines couldn't risk engaging them or they would leave the objective)
4) The hammerhead on the left should have been as aggressive as the fireknifes so it could have contested on turn 6 and/or 7.
5) All these mistakes were due to me concentrating on getting the winning position at the end of the current turn, and not planning for if the game continued

I only have myself to blame, and the overly brave kroot, the terminator killing crisis suits, and the game not ending on either turn 5 or 6 :( We can only live and learn :)



  1. AAARRRGGGHHHH!! I want to know what happened!

  2. Sorry, it was getting late when I was posting. I've doing research for an interview tomorrow, but I promise the report will be finished tonight.


  3. The rest of the battle report is complete, next post will be a brief summary of the 5th game, and my thoughts on the Tau performance plus an interesting chat I had with the Tau player that came highest at the tournament.




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