Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Redesigned Tau 2,000pt List (too late for Jolly Toys)


As you might've read in yesterday's battle report my suspicions were correct in that my current Tau list would struggle against jump pack marines. Now, there's very little you can do about that sort of army with any sort of gunline. Imperial Guard would probably have similar problems. The game did inspire me to write a new Tau list though:

2,000pts of Tau
Shas'o w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT (132pts)
2x Shas'vre bodyguar w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT (184pts)
Shas'o w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT (132pts)
2x Shas'vre bodyguar w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT (184pts)

2x Crisis Shas'ui with twin-linked missile pods and flamer (94pts)
2x Crisis Shas'ui with twin-linked missile pods and flamer (94pts) 

9x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles in a devilfish with disruption pods (175pts)
9x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles (90pts)
9x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles (90pts)

6 Pathfinders in a devilfish with disruption pods (157pts)
6 Pathfinders in a devilfish with disruption pods (157pts)

Sky Ray with SMS and disruption pod (150pts)
2x Broadsides w/ ASS, squad leader w/ drone controller and shield drone (180pts)
2x Broadsides w/ ASS, squad leader w/ drone controller and shield drone (180pts)

What's changed?

Gone are the Kroot as I just can't find a use for them. I hate the idea of a unit being used as a speed bump and short of hoping there's some woods for them to sit in they just die to easily and don't do anything fire warriors can't do. They're 3 points cheaper and are better in combat but still end up losing to most things.

The Shas'o with AFP and one of the crisis teams have been swapped for another team with the low-AP loadout. The piranhas are dropped in preference of a couple of smallish pathfinder teams. These will work in co-ordination with the Sky Ray that has replaced the hammerhead. To make the most of the markerlights this fire warriors are boosted to 9 models in each squad.

Thoughts about this list
I think this list will perform well against most opponents. There's a lot of synergy between the units. When facing hordes of tyranids or massed guard I can use the pathfinders to let the fire warriors rip them apart. The pathfinder devilfish will be used by the fire warriors and will allow deep strikes to be more accurate. This means the crisis teams could actually be used as deep striking flamers if needs be but this is a risky strategy. If not they can work in partnership with the Shas'o teams to hammer monstrous creatures. The broadsides would either help against the MCs or employ their SMS to hit the hordes.

Against MEQ I've got two very hard hitting squads that should be able to accurately deep strike and cut swathes through exposed marines. The broadsides and crisis teams should be able to demech pretty reliably. The pathfinders can make them even more accurate or can help out the Shas'o teams by removing the cover saves of their victims. The sky ray can either fire off it's missiles at transports/dreads or it can help with the troop bashing.

Losing the piranhas is a blow because I like the models but they aren't really needed in this list. They're great for contesting objectives and stopping heavy vehicles but there are other units in the list that are capable of this. The pathfinders might die pretty early but the list doesn't rely on them too much. As long as their alive I've got 14 markerlight shots (2 from the sky ray) and probably 7 hits. This will either boost the BS of the fire warriors, fire off missiles or remove cover saves. The pathfinders could even be used in combination with one squad firing it's markerlights to reduce the Ld for the pinning tests caused by the other squad firing at the same unit.

The problem with this list is that I simply don't have the models to do it. One thing I really regret with my Tau is that I didn't magnetise the suits. I'm tempted to have a go at doing that now but with the new codex in the pipeline I don't want to waste time making changes to an army that might need a total revamp with the new units and rules.

To create this list I'd need to buy a box of fire warriors to make 3 more and then use others as path finders. One crisis team and the AFP Shas'o would need to be refitted with the plasma/fusion loadout. It's not that much work but a little more than I have time for before the tournament. Might be something I work on in the future though.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Battle Report: Tau vs Space Marines (Raven Guard) - 2000pts

On Saturday night we left our lives watching soppy films and played out a 2,000pt game. I'm still testing out my Tau list for Jolly Toys, despite having already submitted it in time for the deadline! I knew I'd struggle against lots of troops, especially if those troops happened to be Space Marines with jump packs and fleet of foot!

I ended up submitting my first version of the tau list with a couple of minor tweaks. This was largely down to not having the models to do much else and with limited time to paint it all up anyway. Jamie's list comprised of Shrike and Korvydae (just for the fun), 2 jump pack assault squads, a tactical squad, 2 large scout squads, a speeder, a dreadnought and two thunderfire cannons. The scout squads and tactical squad split into combat squads.

We rolled Seize Ground (3 objectives) on a Pitched Battle deployment. To make things even harder Jamie won the roll off. He spread his forces across his lines with Shrike and his squad infiltrating and a couple of scout squads Outflanking. I deployed in my usual way with my Shas'o and bodyguard deep striking and the kroot outflanking. To Jamie's "delight" I managed to Seize the Initiative.

Turn 1
As usual I blasted my speeders forward and opened up with the rest of my army. I managed to blow up one of the thunderfire cannons and only failed to kill the other thanks to Jamie making it's cover save. The broadsides on my right moved up to get an angle on the landspeeder blowing it up with ease. My hope was that if I could deal with the threats to my vehicles I could make it hard for Jamie to get at my troops.

Jamie responded by sending tons of fire in the direction of one of my piranhas. I managed to make all of it's cover saves much to Jamie's frustration. The piranha in the middle was not so lucky as an assault squad ripped it apart with Korvydae's melta bombs. Shrike's squad only managed a 1" fleet which put them out of charge range to my relief.

Turn 2
With Shrike stood right in front of my lines I had to try and hammer him with the Shas'o and bodyguard. I dropped them in in front of them but scattered 7" in their direction and found myself with a mishap roll. As ever in these situations I rolled a 2 and suffered a "terrible accident" destroying the unit! From here on it would be even more of an uphill struggle. The broadsides fired at the dread and managed to immobilise it. The piranha on the left easily instant killed the techmarine who'd lost his thunderfire. The squads that'd killed my piranha was nicely bunched up so I hit them with the submunition, AFP, missile pods and a couple of devilfish. The combat squad lost a couple of models as did Korvydae's squad but neither failed their pinning or leadership tests. Shrike and his squad were double flamed by a crisis team and hit with some fire from a devilfish but only lost a single model and passed their pinning test. The remaining thunderfire made it's cover saves and the piranha on the right killed a scout only to have them pass their pinning and leadership tests.

Shrike split of from his squad to take on the broadsides alone whilst the squad attacked some crisis suits. The broadsides did well in combat with the shield drone wounding Shrike! Sadly they failed their Ld test and were swept away. His squad easily dealt with the crisis team whilst another assault squad killed the crisis team in the middle including the Shas'o who'd joined them. The combat squad in the middle managed to wreck a devilfish with their krak grenades. The thunderfire cannon killed the piranha who'd vapourised the techmarine and the scouts killed the remaining piranha with a missile shot.

Turn 3
My army was quickly falling apart and the arrival of the Kroot on the wrong side of the board didn't help much. They found themselves out of range of anything so just ran into some cover on the left. The broadsides finished off the dreadnought. With Shrike out in the open and alone I had my best chance of killing him. I turned the turret on the hammerhead in his direction and.... missed! The fire warriors who'd lost their transport rapid fired the squad and killed all but their sergeant. A nearby devilfish and crisis team hit him with some more fire but couldn't kill him off.

The sergeant returned the favour by charging into the fire warriors and easily mullering them in combat. Melta guns in the assault squad blew up the fish and then swept up the occupants in combat. Shrike and his squad charged in on the hammerhead and ripped off it's railgun and stopped it moving, permanently. The thunderfire cannon took shots at the kroot and finished 4 of them off but they held their nerve. The other assault squad wrecked the remaining 'fish.

Turn 4
With very little left to play with I managed to kill a couple of marines in the squad and the kroot charged in on the techmarine and finished him off.

The scouts came in from reserve right next to my crisis suits and broadsides and easily killed the crisis team in combat. Shrike and co. killed the hammerhead. A nearby combat squad charged into the single remaining kroot after killing his friends with their pistols. Somehow they fluffed all their attacks but so did the Kroot! Korvydae's squad finished off the only remaining fire warriors.

Turn 5
I only had my broadsides left and the end was in sight. I decided to have a pot shot at the lone sergeant who'd refused to die and sure enough he passed his cover saves as a final insult. The kroot died in combat too.

Jamie charged two scout squads and some assault marines in on the broadsides and you can imagine the result!

The game ended with Jamie controlling all 3 objectives not that it mattered with my tabled!

This was never going to be pretty. The Shas'o mishapping didn't help things but I doubt they'd have really affected the result. If I hadn't Seized then things would've been even worse. The scouts not arriving until turn 4 probably just postponed the inevitable. Now I'm pretty sure I'll not be facing Raven Guard at Jolly Toys but they're pretty similar to Blood Angels in their jumping. It'd be very difficult to create a Tau army to beat this kind of force and as I've said before it was playing against BA that put me off using Tau in the first place!

I can't pretend there wasn't a bit of bad luck on my part in this game but I don't think things would've been different if not. This hasn't stopped me wanting to use Tau at Jolly Toys though. I wish I could change my list up a bit as I've got an idea for a better list which I'll post up tomorrow.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dreadfleet First Impressions

When Dreadfleet was first announced I was very tempted to get hold of a copy. I figured since it was limited edition it would probably sell out fast. I'd give the game a go and if it turned out I didn't enjoy it then I should be able to make a nice profit selling on eBay. However, as far as I know it STILL hasn't sold out yet and therefore I'm pretty glad I didn't get it! Matt on the other hand got a copy for Christmas and so last weekend 4 of us had a go with it. Incidentally, the pictures I'm using aren't of Matt's copy of the game since he hasn't got it painted yet.

Whats in the box?
There's 10 detailed warships that I have to say they're bigger than I expected. They're nicely detailed too. I'd be tempted to have a go at painting them but Scott was too and he'll do a far better job than I will. There's also about a dozen smaller craft from ships to dragons. You also get some scenery in the form of islands, rocks and shipwrecks. Add to that a few sea monsters and you can see there's a lot of hobby to go at. There's the usual rulebook and a stack of cards but the best bit for me is the playing mat. Some people have referred to it as a cape and it's about the right size for one! Matt tried to fit it on his dining room table but soon found it was too wide so we went for the lounge floor instead. I'd say its not much smaller than a standard 40K board (6'x4'). All in all fairly decent value for money given the quality of all the components. The ships clip together which means you can assemble them for a few games and then take them apart again to make a good job of the paintwork.

Basics of play
In order to get used to the rules we all took a ship each out of the mid-sized sail warships. We started off in each of the four corners and moved in to engage each other. Players roll off each turn for initiative with the highest going first. They then take it in turns to move one of their ships (we only had one each at this point). The players then draw fate cards which determine the wind strength and direction and also generate lots of other affects such as monsters, bonus damage, repairs, special events etc. These add a nice edge to the game and can have a dramatic effect on the outcome.

Before moving their ship a player can chose to issue one of five orders. There's two which allow you to make hard turns to the left or right, one for a burst of speed, one which basically puts you on overwatch and a fifth that lets you recover some damage.

Each player turn allows you to move, broadside and/or board enemy ships. Movement is pretty straightforward. Each ship has a maximum movement allowance and a manoeuvrability. This dictates how far forward you can go before you can make a turn. Turns are 45 degrees and use a specific counter. The only other thing to take into account (since we all had sail ships) was the wind. This can be used to move faster but also forces you to move a minimum distance based on it's current strength and direction. Sailing into the wind is of course more difficult too.

The broadside phase (or shooting phase if you will) is again pretty simple. Each vessel has a number of shots it can fire and you have to roll to hit based on range. There's a bonus for raking fire (where you're firing along the lengh of the enemy craft). If your opponent can't pass an armour save he has to take a damage card. These have different effects on your ship. They can reduce your speed, kill off crew (affecting your boarding actions), damage your hull, set you on fire or a range of other special damage. Each ship has a crew and hull rating. Once either of these drops to zero the ship is destroyed.

Finally, if you can get into contact with an enemy ship you perform a boarding action. The captains of each vessel get to attack each other in a bit of "swashbuckling" and then the rest of the crew fight it out. Depending on who wins both ships could end up taking damage. Play then moves on to the next captain who can control one of his ships.

In our game Matt started opposite me and since he got to go first he quickly headed in my direction and hit me with a broadside. This left me with severely crippled movement but I soon recovered and shot back setting Matt's ship ablaze. Sam and Scott battled it out on the other side with Sam emerging victorious. His ship (the elven one) seemed pretty much invincible as it was extremely agile and seemed to repair all it's damage quickly. Scott fell to a lucky shot from Sam that took out his ship. Sam headed in our direction and between us we killed off Matt. I had to go for it and opened up with a punishing broadside that sunk Sam's vessel leaving me in charge of the seas.

Bigger Games

We then moved on to a kind of doubles game with two of us controlling the Imperial Alliance and two taking command of the Dreadfleet. Scott and I got the Dreadfleet and split the ships up between us. I got the flagship the Bloody Reaver and the Curse of Zandri (a tomb kings ship). Scott had the ghostly Shadewraith, the Black Kraken and the Skabrus (skaven one). Each side took it in turns to deploy a ship each and we soon had both fleets facing off against each other. We took the initiative and started to move our ships around. Each side gets to controls one of their ships before their opponent controls one of theirs. This makes for some interesting tactical decisions. If you get things in the wrong order you can easily give your opponent an advantage.

Luckily for us at the start of the game a sea monster appeared right next to one of Matt & Sam's ships and we gleefully took control of it with the Bloody Reaver's special rule and set it to work ripping into their hull. This basically meant we only had to worry about their other four ships. Given how large the sea is in relation to the ships it can be quite tricky planning your moves so that you don't block of the movement of your other ships or end up ramming into a rock. Unlike 40K you can measure everything before you do it so you get to plan out your moves before trying them out. Sadly, once you've started moving you can't take it back so if you put yourself in a position where you're heading straight for a rock it's tough luck.

Their dwarf vessel quickly dealt with my Curse of Zandri but we took revenge by submerging the Black Kraken and bringing it up right next to them. The mechanical squid soon ripped the dwarven ship apart. What Matt and Sam had done well was concentrate their fire on a single ship until it was destroyed.

We realised we'd need to do the same, especially if we were going to deal with their flagship the Heldenhammer. They moved it into the middle of the board and were soon in a boarding action with the Skabrus. Thanks to some miraculous dice rolls and lucky damage draws the Skabrus held its own for several turns of combat, even putting some damage on the Heldenhammer before it fell. We moved the Shadewraith in behind their flagship sealing the trap and proceeded to batter it with broadsides from the Bloody Reaver too. The Heldenhammer held out well until it received a damage card where it has a hole in it's hull that will sink it if the Damage cards run out (they're reshuffled and restacked again though). This eventually claimed the massive vessel and things looked decidedly one sided.

The other ships traded blows without much damage on either side. Matt and Sam managed to run the Elven ship aground and struggled to break free of the rocks. Their ship engaged with the sea monster eventually won the fight but found itself damaged and up against the Shadewraith and Bloody Reaver. It managed to bring down the Shadewraith but the Blood Reaver ripped it apart with a heavy broadside.

We'd agreed that which ever side found itself with just a single ship left would be the winner and things had turned in their favour. The Bloody Reaver was quite a way from the other vessels and therefore it was down to the Black Kraken to deal with the remaining two Imperial warships. The Black Kraken is devastating in a boarding action but thanks to me fluffing a lot of rolls we made it pretty hard for ourselves. We eventually won out though and only the stricken Elven ship was left standing.

It had been an extremely close and enjoyable game. Fate had dealt them a few cruel blows and the sea monster certainly made our job a lot easier. The two sides seem pretty balanced with some unique special abilities for the vessels. I had to say I'm a big fan of the Kraken as it can submerge and come up right in the face of the enemy. You just have to hope you get first go as they'll soon bring it down if not.

There's no denying we were lucky to win the game and I'm sure Matt will blame some attrocious rolls from Sam with the Heldenhammer. It was amazing how many damage cards their warships seemed to receive before they eventually succumbed. I think it's a great system as rather than just taking wounds you actually see the ship becoming crippled. Obviously you can try and repair some of the damage but it soon becomes too much.

General Thoughts
There are a ton of different scenarios that we intend to play through on other occasions but those two games had taken us most of the day. Granted we were pretty new to it and probably got a lot of things wrong but it felt easy to pick up and play. There's a lot of depth there though and you have to really think about every decision. I have to say it was a nice break from the usual 40K themed games we play (Necromunda, Space Hulk and Horus Heresy). We'll certainly be coming back to it again. I spent most of the day humming the theme from Pirates of the Carribean as I moved my ships around!

I'd recommend the game to anyone and it would definitely be a good way of getting other friends into gaming. I enjoy these stand alone games as they offer all the good parts of our hobby without such a financial commitment. There's some lovely models in there which could be great little painting projects on their own.

I'm looking forward to our next game already but with tournaments coming up I suspect there's a lot of 40K in the pipeline first.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Blog Wars 3 Tickets Now Available!

I announced a little while ago that there'd be a third Blog Wars tournament in June with the imaginative title of Blog Wars 3 and a suspiciously similar logo to the previous tournaments. The tournament details can be found here. I'll be providing the event pack and scenarios as a pdf soon.

As I've already mentioned the compulsory special character rule is staying. The custom scenarios will be staying too but with some minor tweaks to hopefully make them a bit better. Nothing too drastic but I learnt a few lessons after BW2 and there's some ideas from other tournaments that I'd like to implement this time around. I'm considering increasing the points limit to 1,850 which isn't massively different but should make it a bit easier to shoe-horn in a special character (or two!). Not really decided on that yet since I've never really played games at 1,850pts. Since the games are already 2.5 hours long it shouldn't affect things though.

Another thing I'd like to point out is that although the tournament is called Blog Wars, and the idea is that most of the competitors are bloggers or friends of bloggers, I'm still happy for anyone else to attend that wants to. In short, I won't be turning anyone away because they don't have their own blog. The main thing for me is that it remains a friendly tournament focussed around special characters. That should be the difference between this and other tournaments rather than limiting the people who can come.

Tickets will be £15 again with a similar prize breakdown. Again, depending on how popular it is there'll be additional prizes for other things. Unlike the last couple of times I'm not going to set up a PayPal button to click to buy tickets since they charge me about 70p a transaction for that! Instead please send money to alexjbrown58@hotmail.com and specify the names of the people you're buying for.

Any questions about anything to do with the tournament including what counts as a special character, travel directions, special dietary requirements, etc. please feel free to contact me using the link on the right.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My New Tau Colour Scheme

As you might have guessed from recent posts I'm having a bit of a Tau revival recently. I'm planning on taking them to Jolly Toys in mid-February so I need to get them painted up. I originally went for the standard T'au sept scheme that GW normally uses - the browny-yellow one. However, I've always fancied the idea of doing white Tau so I went and bought myself a can of Skull White and sprayed up a piranha as a test piece.

I realised pretty quickly that the reason I've never done a white army is because I'm shit and painting and have no patience. Each model would require several thin coats of spray to get the desired effect and you can guarantee I'd either obliterate some details or end up "snowing" them. The other option is to base them in a light grey and slowly build up to a white. This has two problems, firstly, I'm impatient so I'd end up painting to thick a layer of white and ruining it and also I've only got a month so spending ages getting the perfect white really isn't an option!

Therefore, I jacked the whole white Tau idea in and went a browse around the net. I didn't find anything inspiring so I thought I'd paint them all up with Astronomican Grey and then come back at a later date and make them white if I could be arsed. I then bought myself some Adeptus Battlegrey as a secondary colour and painted a few panels. This might sound stupid but I love the dark grey. Sad to love grey I suppose but it really looked good. I therefore re-painted my formerly white piranha like this:

That's a main colur of Adeptus Battlegrey with panels of Regal Blue and Fortress Grey. Now I know I've got to do the drones and crew yet but as a demonstration of my colour scheme I really like it. I then turned my attention to my many crisis suits (10 in the list not including XV88s). I applied the scheme to them and came up with this:

He again needs a bit more work e.g. I'm going to make the missiles red and add more colour to the flamer but again I'm pretty happy with the scheme in general. The problem was that I wasn't sure how I'd apply it to the fire warriors. Part of me was tempted to reverse the scheme and make them light grey armour and dark grey undersuits. The trouble is they'd stand out a bit too much and they'd clash with the rest of the army. Therefore I got hold of Bolter & Chainswords Fire Warrior painter and came up with this:

I think it really works and they tie in well with the rest of the army. Here's my first attempt at translating that onto an actual model:

I'm happy with how it came out. I need to do the "toes" in the dark grey now and add some sept markings (i.e. the orange stripes) but at least I've decided on a scheme!

I'll post some more updates on my progress as I finish more units. The plan is to get everything to three colours as soon as possible and then go back and add detail if there's time before the tournament. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 16, 2012

GW FAQ Updates Summary and 100+ Followers

So GW finally updated their FAQs again. I have to say they seem to be doing these a lot more regularly than they used to. It's been commented on that both Tau and BT didn't get an update adding fuel to the rumours that they're both getting a shiny new codex soon. For the most part there isn't anything earth-shattering. The Necron one essentially just goes through what we already thought and makes it official! Anyway, for your convenience I present this guide to what's new! Sorry for the awful formatting but there's a lot to fit in and I didn't want to make it a massive post!

Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook
When rolling for something that is determined by a particular value on the dice you only apply it after any re-rolls. For example, plasma getting hot. Rewording on the multiple grenades thing, basically a unit can still get the benefit of them all except against a vehicle. Only part of the hole in the blast template has to be over the hull (seems obvious to me but meh).

Trying to move a vehicle that starts in difficult terrain and immobilising it still counts as moving the vehicle. Sort of makes sense but seems a little harsh. If a vehicle moves at cruising speed and is then immobilised it automatically get's hit in combat - well duh! Only shooting things can draw line of sight out of vehicle hatches. I can't off the top of my head think of a situation where this applies but I'm sure someone can.

Counter Attackers can't also use Furious Charge etc. We already knew this from the SW FAQ as it applies to Ragnar so nothing new really.

Nothing major here then! Just a few clarifications on things we were all probably doing right anyway.

Codex: Blood Angels
Combat squads can deep strike and infiltrate in different locations. Surely everyone did this? Vanguards can't use their heroic intervention from a Stormraven. Seems a bit daft as I can't see a reason why they wouldn't be able to assault when dropping from an assault vehicle. Blood Lance doesn't need to roll to hit! Sanguinary Novitiates in Honour Guard can't take any of the other upgrades. Again seems a bit obvious but worth clarifying.

Codex: Chaos Space Marines
Thousands Sons without a sorcerer can't move if their difficult terrain move is slowed by a rule that reduces the number of dice rolled. Chaos Dreadnoughts can only do a Fire Frenzy on stuff in their front 45 degree arc. Abaddon's sword is a power weapon and will rebel on a roll of 1. Units containing Kharn can't be moved by psychic powers like Lash which move models since he isn't affected. Fabius Bile can only upgrade CSM in the form of the Troops FOC choice, i.e. not bikers etc. Typhus' weapon is a daemon weapon in all respects.

Summoned Greater Daemons can always deploy - you just make room for them now and also if the model they replace went to ground they aren't affected when they come in. Only full units of oblits/termies benefit from an icon when deep striking. Lash has to roll to hit like any other psychic shooting attack but units can be lashed several times in a turn now. A unit containing a model with lash won't be able to lash them first and then shoot as everything happens at once (should be obvious I'd have thought). Nurgle's Rot doesn't roll to hit and doesn't limit what the rest of the unit can shoot or assault. Warptime means you have to re-roll all the dice or none of the dice! I suppose that's how it's worded in the codex but it won't make Chaos players happy!

Codex: Dark Angels
Same thing about combat squads being able to infiltrate and deep strike in different locations. Mind Worm must roll to hit.

Codex: Dark Eldar
Dodge isn't allowed for explosions caused by close combat. Seems pretty obvious to me but clearly some people have been trying it on. Not gonna make Haywire Grenades much fun then!! Djin blade only gives two bonus attacks if it's the weapon used i.e. not the one in the other hand but it does give the bonus for two close combat weapons in addition to it's bonus 2 attacks. Seems fair really.

Flickerfield saves can't be made against dangerous terrain. We had a debate about this not long ago but decided the same because it doesn't cause a glancing or penetrating hit.

Codex: Eldar
Defend is clarified a bit so that it just reduces the attacks by one for the entire combat rather than making it successively smaller like some people thought. Runes of Warding and Witnessing have been clarified to "roll an extra D6" instead of "roll 3D6". This is presumably meant to make the rule interact in a new way with Shadow in the Warp! A farseer and unit of warlocks count as two separate units but only occupy one HQ slot.

Fortune doesn't allow you to re-roll the Ghosthelm save. Eldritch Storm does scatter which has always been a debate I've had with Matt and sadly he's right! Mind War doesn't need a to hit roll which I think contradicts what they said a few months back when they called it a shooting attack but I could be wrong. Dire Avenger Exarchs get 5 shots when using Bladestorm with twin catapults. Again pretty obvious to me. Chainsabres and powerblades give one bonus attack but can't claim the other for being "two close combat weapons". Scorpion's Claw is S6 not S8 like I've always played it. Makes sense I suppose as it's the sword that makes you +1S.

Codex: Grey Knights

Same thing about combat squads being able to infiltrate and deep strike in different locations. A Summoned squad won't scatter if they're within 6" of a Mystic when the deep strike. Turbo Penetrator rounds can rend multiple times and add D3 each time they do. Force Halberds give you +2 even when the initiative of the model is reduced to I1 (e.g. by a lash whip). Total flip-flop by GW on this one and although it makes sense as the rule is written it seems retarded to me.

Codex: Imperial Guard
Slight clarification on Dozer Blades that means they always re-roll failed dangerous terrain tests. Surely that was obvious? You can circumvent Infantry Platoons being deployed on a single reserve roll by sticking them in non-dedicated transports e.g. Valkyries & Vendettas. Company Command Squad is only worth a single KP which I think is obvious. Techpriest Enginseers can only ever attempt to repair one vehicle per turn but it can be the one they're embarked upon.

Penal Custodians benefit from Desperadoes but any ICs don't. Weaken Resolve can target units in combat - think of the implications of this, assuming guard ever win a combat! Manticores that suffer Weapon Destroyed lose all their storm eagle rockets. Ministorum Priests or Techpriest Enginseers can be the mandatory HQ choice.

Codex: Necrons
Completely new FAQ so a little too much to go through in detail. Here's a few highlights though. No more chaining scarab bases across the board with spyders but you can add them to units in combat! Well not as easily anyway. Vehicles don't get cover saves from Sweep Attacks. Trazyn can take a host after he fails his Reanimation Protocols roll. Entropic Strike reduces the vehicles armour before the scarabs hit it in combat. That's the way most people played it anyway.

Writhing Worldscape is more awesome as it affects even people who just "count as" moving through difficult terrain. We're going to see more C'Tan I think! Death ray is clarified to what you'd expect. Sweep Attacks aren't close combat attacks which is interesting. Be nice if Bladevanes were clarified on my reavers! Imotekh doesn't have to keep Night Fighting going if he doesn't want to i.e. he can in effect automatically fail the roll if he wants. You can't make a vehicle fire at itself with Anrakyr. Single models can attack themselves thanks to mindshackle scarabs though. Cover saves prevent a vehicle losing it's Quantum Shielding.

You can attach one model from each royal court to a unit which is the one everyone was waiting for!

Codex: Orks
Nothing exciting apart from Snikrot can't use his "Ambush" when inside a vehicle.

Codex: Space Marines
Same thing about combat squads being able to infiltrate and deep strike in different locations. Otherwise nothing new.

Codex: Space Wolves
Thunderclap doesn't scatter but more importantly:

Q: Do you need to roll To Hit with Jaws of the World
Wolf? (p37)
A: No. 

That's fricking awesome for all of us SW players and shit for the rest of you! I feel for all your Tyranid players, I really do!

Codex: Tyranids
Same clarifcation about "an extra D6" not "3D6" for Shadow in the Warp so it presumably interacts differently with Eldar runes now! Shadow in the Warp also now affects psykers who are in vehicles! Only seems fair when all other psychic defence affects them. Hive Tyrands and their Tyrant Guard only give one killpoint for the whole unit. Lictors must be in coherency when they arrive from reserve which seems obvious. Venomthrope's spore cloud doesn't cause units to be "assaulting through terrain" but all non-vehicle units must take dangerous terrain test. Impaler cannon only allows cover saves from terrain you're actually in. You can't deploy within an inch of spore mine clusters. Characters that join spawned termagaunts benefit and are affected by the Brood Progenitor rule. Lash whips just got nerfed to fuck as they apply before other modifiers like Furious Charge or Banshee Masks. Seems harsh to give Tyranid players another problem.

As ever, GW seems to address some minor rules that people were playing right in the first place and ignores some of the bigger problems that need clarification. Necron FAQ is pretty decent though.

The warptime thing is going to make people cry. Stuff being reduced to I1 and still applying their bonuses is stupid in my opinion but what can you do? SITW vs. Runes will be interesting now! Jaws not having to roll to hit makes a lot of sense but I can see a lot of tears at tournaments when you point it out to an opponent!

100+ Followers!
Finally, I've just noticed that I'm now past the 100 followers mark! I'm pretty amazed by this since I genuinely didn't expect anyone to take an interest in my ramblings! I don't think it's bad work getting 100+ followers in 16 months when I'm doing this all solo!

Anyway, thanks to everyone who reads this blog whether you officially "follow" me or not. It's nice to know that people are enjoying what I put up. If you're not enjoying it then please feel free to tell me and I'll see what needs to change! If not I'll just keep on blindly posting what I like in the hopes that someone else out there gets something from it! Roll on 200!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Revised Tau 2,000pt List of Jolly Toys

See what I did there?
If you read the comments on my last post you'll have seen that there was a good discussion about the list. I've had a bit of a play with my spreadsheet and come up with something slightly different.

2,000pts of Tau
Shas'o w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT (132pts)
2x Shas'vre bodyguard w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT (184pts)

2x Crisis Shas'ui with twin-linked missile pods and flamer (94pts)
2x Crisis Shas'ui with twin-linked missile pods and flamer (94pts)
2x Crisis Shas'ui with twin-linked missile pods and flamer (94pts) 

9x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles in a devilfish with disruption pods (145pts)
9x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles (145pts)
9x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles (145pts)
10x Kroot Carnivores

8x Pathfinders in a devilfish with disruption pods (181pts)
8x Pathfinders in a devilfish with disruption pods (181pts)
Piranha w/ fusion blaster and targetting array (70pts)

Sky Ray w/ burst cannons, targeting array & disruption pod (155pts)
2x Broadsides w/ ASS, squad leader w/ target lock, drone controller and 2x shield drones (195pts)
2x Broadsides w/ ASS, squad leader w/ target lock, drone controller and 2x shield drones (195pts)

(This would require another box of fire warriors to make 3 more regular warriors and 8 pathfinders)

So what's changed?
  • I've ditched the lone Shas'o as his AFP is hit and miss even with BS5. 
  • The fire warrior squads are increased to 9 which means more rapid fire and less chance of morale checks. They should still get wiped out in combat though.
  • Added two squads of 8 pathfinders which means ideally 4 markerlight hits per turn, their devilfish will be taken by the fire warriors. Deploy them with good fire lanes and use their scout move if necessary.
  • Hammerhead is ditched in favour of a Sky Ray. Although I like having another railgun (especially with the sub-munition) the Sky Ray works in synergy with the pathfinders allowing markerlights to be used for missiles. It also has two markerlights of it's own
  • Broadside squad leaders now have target locks meaning 4 targets per turn for the railguns.
The Good
This list will have a lot more oomph against masses of troops. Assuming you land 4 markerlight hits you get BS5 and reduce the enemy cover save to 6+. That means mobs of orks and genestealers should die in droves to a good rapid fire. The skyray can hurt some monstrous creatures, vehicles or marines with it's missiles too.

Bigger squads of firewarriors means 3 will have to die to shooting before I need a morale check. It also makes their rapid fire more deadly. Giving the broadsides target locks means that if I get lucky I should be able to damage 3 enemy vehicles each turn. Granted that's relying on Damage Table rolls but still.

An added bonus of the pathfinders is that my deepstriking commander should be more accurate. This will help ensure I get the crucial alpha strike with their low AP weaponry.

On a hobby sidenote, there'll be less vehicles and suits for me to paint but I will need to paint more infantry models.

The Bad
Losing the commander and the hammerhead means I've now got no large blasts to worry masses of troops. Hopefully my rapid fire from the warriors will compensate but then I'll be risking my scoring units. I often find the hammerhead's railgun misses anyway so losing the solid shot isn't such a big deal.

I've always found pathfinders hit and miss, literally. If their markerlights hit the target then they're great. If your opponent targets them early on then they fold pretty easily. The trouble is that they have to be deployed fairly far forwards to get decent fire lanes. This means they're unlikely to survive until the later turns.

Losing the piranhas is a big deal I think. They're great in objective games for contesting things and act as a good distraction unit. From a personal point of view I love the models but that shouldn't sway my decision from a tactical standpoint. I'll still have one of them to harass my opponent in a similar way to how I use a landspeeder with my Wolves.

The Options
The only things I haven't changed are my suits. Now this is partly because I don't want to start breaking weapons off them but also because I really like the missile/flamer loadout. It really makes sense for several reasons. Against mechanised lists they de-mech a unit and then when it closes in they swoop in with dual flamers. The other options here are to swap the flamers for plasma rifles to help against MEQ but to do that will all the squads will cost a whopping 96pts! I think the missile pods are too good to miss out on.

The Sky Ray ought to have SMS because they take advantage of it's target lock and they don't need line of sight. However, it's a question of what do I drop to squeeze them in? 

Looking through my other FOC choices I can't think of many other things to try out. In the HQ portion there's no way I'm taking Ethereals or any of the special characters. Stealth teams just can't compete with Crisis suits. I think there's little point in swapping fire warriors for more kroot. Vespids are awful. Another unit of broadsides wouldn't hurt but then I'd need to buy them so that's out of the question really.

The changes I've made above should bring more benefits than drawbacks. It's very difficult to make a Tau list that's capable of dealing with anything you throw at it. They're always going to struggle against armies that are fast enough to be in their face quickly like Dark Eldar, Orks and BA. Against these armies my best hope is that I get first turn and blow up some trukks or raiders early on. When facing BA I really don't know what to do? They're probably the army I'd need to change my crisis suit loadout for but then I'd gimp my list in other areas and struggle in other games.

One thing is for certain. Writing a Tau "all-comers" list is a lot more challenging that writing a Space Wolves one!

Friday, January 13, 2012

My (current) 2,000pt Tau Army List and Tactics


As you may have read I've been playing Tau a lot recently. In between planning my many different Space Wolf armies for various tournaments I kept opening up my Tau spreadsheet and throwing some units around to think what would work. I came up with something that I really liked. A streamlined Tau list with lots of the things I liked. I think my problem with Tau before was that I wanted a bit of everything in there. I like pathfinders and skyrays. I thought stealthsuits were cool and I even played with an Ethereal a couple of times. What the hell was I thinking?

Anyway, I saw the light and I've had some great games recently with this list:

2,000pts of Tau
Shas'o w/ fusion blaster, AFP, shield gen, HWMT and stimulant injector (142pts)
Shas'o w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT (132pts)
2x Shas'vre bodyguar w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT (184pts)

2x Crisis Shas'ui with twin-linked missile pods and flamer (94pts)
2x Crisis Shas'ui with twin-linked missile pods and flamer (94pts)
2x Crisis Shas'ui with twin-linked missile pods and flamer (94pts) 

6x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles in a devilfish with disruption pods (145pts)
6x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles in a devilfish with disruption pods (145pts)
6x Firewarriors w/ pulse rifles in a devilfish with disruption pods (145pts)
10x Kroot Carnivores

Piranha w/ fusion blaster and targetting array (70pts)
Piranha w/ fusion blaster and targetting array (70pts)
Piranha w/ fusion blaster and targetting array (70pts)

Hammerhead w/ railgun, burst cannons and disruption pod (155pts)
2x Broadsides w/ ASS, squad leader w/ drone controller and 2x shield drones (195pts)
2x Broadsides w/ ASS, squad leader w/ drone controller and 2x shield drones (195pts)

This also works well (if not better) at 1,750pts if you ditch the kroot, hammerhead and 1 shield drone each from the broadsides.

Army Overview
The lone commander will either stay solo and take advantage of FNP and his 3+/4++ save to keep him alive or he can join any of the crisis teams.  The kroot can either hug a home objective in cover (preferably trees of course) or can make use of their infiltrate/outflank to disrupt enemy heavy weapons teams. They're pretty much throw away but they're about the only thing that really is.

The commander and bodyguard are difficult to shift with them all having 3+/4++ saves. They'll usually be held in Deep Strike reserve and target the death star in the enemy army.

Army-wide Tactics
There's no doubting that this army wants first turn but it won't struggle when it goes second. I'll talk about what to do if you go first and then I'll briefly talk about how you'd change things if you're going second.

It's not revolutionary for me to say that playing Tau (or any army really) well, relies on getting a good deployment. The key here is to think about what units your opponent is going to want to hit as a priority. Most armies you face won't like your broadsides and hammerhead. It's therefore crucial to space your heavy support out across your deployment zone so that they can't hit all three in quick succession.

You should never put yourself in a position where you can be multi-charged. Not only does this waste units but it also means your opponent might end up staying locked in combat and coming out at the end of your turn. This is bad. Always be thinking about which units are likely to get charged and use your jet pack assault phase moves to keep your units spread out. When disembarking your firewarriors try to do so before your devilfish moves and then get it clear. You're going to lose pretty much every combat with your firewarriors but make sure you're in a position to capitalise on this when you do.

When your opponent is likely to be able to charge one of your vehicles next turn, make sure you move it over 6". Your piranhas can still fire and your devilfish aren't that deadly anyway so better to keep them alive than stay still to shoot.

Your opponent is unlikely to have the firepower to sit back at range and chip away at you. Your vehicles and suits are pretty resilient so he'll need to close range to use melta or close combat to deal with them. This will bring him in rapid fire range.

Target priority is key. I don't mean the old rule that is mentioned about 50 times in the codex. What I mean is that you need to think about the biggest threats to your army. Focus on your opponents long range firepower with your longer range firepower. Your broadsides can make a mess of dreadnoughts and land raiders whilst the crisis suits deal with transports. Always remember to use Jump-Shoot-Jump to get your suits back in cover or out of range after you've fired. If something comes close, switch to flamers on your crisis suits and disembark your fire warriors for a bit of rapid fire. You don't have much low AP so make the most of your S5 weapons by forcing a lot of armour saves. Position your units so that you can get some overlapping firepower in several places on the board.

Don't waste your firepower on soft targets. I made this mistake against Matt's GK and it gave him a narrow victory. If you feel like you've got enough shots on a unit to deal with it then use the rest of your firepower on something else. Positioning is important.

There's no doubting that you've got a lot of KPs (16 in total) in this army but you've also got plenty of redundancy. I don't care if I lose a squad of firewarriors for 60 points if it means you've commited your 200pt marine unit into the open to do so. So what if you kill my crisis suits, I've got another pair where they came from.

Going Second
Try and deploy your army so that most of your units will be in cover. As with going first stay well back and use your range to your advantage. Accept that you're going to lose a couple of things but remember that you've got plenty of units to replace them. Study your opponent's deployment and think about how to maximise the fire you can put down on him. Try and predict where he'll move units and position yours so that you can hit them without a cover save. Remember your piranhas don't have disruption pods so keep them at range and in cover for now.

Your opponent is likely to come to you. This plays in your favour as it means you can get more firepower down on him early on and if you pop transports he'll be very exposed.

Unit Specific Tactics
Let's go through the list and talk about the role each unit is designed for and why I've chosen the upgrades I have. Firstly, the lone commander has his airbursting fragmentation projector. This combined with the flamers of the crisis team he might join force your opponent to worry about his formation. This means he's more focused on spreading his models out than he is on ranges etc. If you can catch a unit thats just disembarked, been forced to disembark, just left combat or is clumped up for any other reason, you can make them regret it by dropping a large blast (that won't scatter far with BS5) and a couple of flamers on him. If you're in range of a squad thats got out of a rhino's side hatch and you hit with the large blast you could make him take a dozen armour saves. Combine this with some fire from elsewhere and you can thin that unit out nicely.

The other commander and his bodyguard have a pretty clear role. Most of the time I'll bring them in from deep strike as I like to have something to worry stuff at the back of the field. They're also excellent death star killers. Drop them near an expensive tank or unit and let rip with all that low AP fire. Terminators (even with storm shields) won't like making that many invulnerable saves. They'll then be faced with a choice. Charge you and have to chew through 8 wounds and 3+/4++ saves or ignore you and take another volley from that low AP weaponry. Most opponents will chose to charge and you should be able to hold them in combat for a while. This might seem like a waste of 316pts tied up in combat but remember your opponent's unit probably costs more and the rest of your army can ignore them for a couple of turns.

The crisis suits are pretty obvious. Jump them forwards to get them in range of enemy transports and use your missile pods to bring them down. Then jump back into the shadows in the assault phase. If your opponent gets to close then open up with the flamers and force some saves.

Your fire warriors are your objective holders. Don't try and be a hero with them. They're frankly not up to it. Keep them in their transports as long as possible and use the AV12 front armour and disruption pods to keep the 'fish alive as long as possible. If something comes in close and you've got other support then by all means drop of the warriors for some rapid fire. Don't try and use their 30" shots unless they've lost their transport because they'll miss with half anyway. Towards turn 4/5 start moving any space 'fish 12" to get to some objectives.

The kroot are a recent addition to this list. I originally had 8 fire warriors in each transport but decided I wanted some kroot to harass my opponent. You've got a couple of options with them, either infiltrate them and get some rapid fire down early on (unlikely if you don't pop some transports with the rest of your fire) or outflank them and bring them on near your opponents more static units at the back. Don't charge anything with them unless you know you're going to beat it! By all means charge necron warriors in small numbers, guardsmen or even very small marine units.

The piranhas are my favourite part of the list. Not only do I love models but they're a great harassment. If you're going first deploy them further forward than the rest of your army. First turn, move them over 12" to get your cover save and then in subsequent turns either do the same or use their fusion guns to bring down something juicy. Late on in the game make sure you've got them in 24" range of an enemy-held objective for some cheeky contesting. It's amazing how hard it is to shift an AV11 vehicle that moved 24". You could even consider ramming soft vehicle targets as a last resort. Drop off your drones to contest objectives and harass troops. Remember in Annihilation games that they'll be a soft KP for your opponent so keep them mounted unless it's worth it.

The hammerhead is pretty versatile. It isn't the tank killer that the broadsides are but it's submunition is great against massed troops. It's particularly good against scarabs as I found out recently. Not only does the blast instant kill scarab bases but each unsaved wound kills another thanks to Swarm rules. AV13 is going to annoy your opponent especially when combined with a disruption pod.

Finally, the broadsides. They're easily the best thing about the Tau codex and I only recently saw the point of Advanced Stabilisation Systems. I used to give them Targetting Arrays to ensure I hit the target but the ASS allows them to manouvre and minimise the chance of your opponent getting a cover save. It can also be used to put your suits just out of charge range to frustrate your opponent. This is just as imporant as hitting the target so it's worth using them over improved BS. With the shield drones they're going to be annoying to deal with at range. Any low AP or S8+ shots should be applied to the drones where you can but bear in mind you might need a leadership test. With the drones' 4++ save they should keep you alive for the first few turns. You'll still fold in combat but your opponent will have to get there first. By placing the two teams at opposite sides of the board you should be able to keep one of them alive a bit longer.

It's by no means easy doing well with Tau. The game I had against Matt was one of the most intense I've played because I had to really concentrate on my tactics. They aren't as forgiving as Space Marines so you really have to be on the ball. It can be counter-intuitive to try and deliberately throw units away in combat but you need to manipulate this as your opponent will be trying to stay locked until his turn.

If anyone has an old Tau army that isn't getting much love at the moment I really encourage you to dust them off and give them a fresh look. You'll get a lot more respect if you do well with them than you would with GK anyway!

I appreciate that this tactica might be totally useless once the new codex comes out but who knows when that'll be and at least I might've rekindled someone's love for the army for when it does! I also realise that I might have to eat my words when my Tau fail miserably at Jolly Toys!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Grey Knights Saved Warhammer 40,000!

Well Necrons too but I'll come to that. Now before you get over excited and tell me how much I'm wrong that I fail, have a read and think about what I'm saying. There's no doubting that Grey Knights have been a popular army. There's no denying that it's pretty easy to put a solid GK list together that with any sort of skill will win games at tournaments. There's also no point arguing that there aren't some ridiculous (but not overpowered) things in that codex, we have Matt Ward to thank for that!

What's all the fuss about GK anyway?
Let's start by looking at the problems most people have with the book. Firstly, GK are meant to be an elite space marine army. The idea being that individual units are awesome but you pay through the nose for them which means you don't have a very high model count. This hopefully gives some balance to the army, in that you only have to lose a couple of models in each unit to really harm their effectiveness. The trouble is, they aren't that expensive and you do end up with about the same model count as any other SM codex. Add to this pretty much everyone wielding a I6 force weapon and storm bolter, psycannons aplenty, S8 rifleman (psyfleman) dreads, ignoring shaken and stunned, grenades that are stupid, powers that make you S6 in combat, everything being a psyker, etc etc etc. There's no doubting that some of the units are stupidly good even considering slightly higher points values. An army based around purifiers, razorbacks and dreads is a pretty tough prospect for any opponent.

Are they actually invincible though?
Contrary to popular belief however, they are far from invincible. Like any other MSU force, if you can stop their transports they aren't very quick and small units are easily dealt with. Unlike other marine armies they struggle against AV of 12 or more. Yes, the psycannons can rend but otherwise they've got very little options for dealing with AV14. If they come across an army with lots of potent psychic defence then they really can't hack it. No Hammerhand, Psychic Pilot, etc and they'll find it very tricky. Armies like Eldar, SW and Tyranids with decent psychic defence can really shut them down. Dark Eldar can match their I6, can easily outrun them and keep out of 24" range and also their wyches don't give a toss about your fancy force weapons thanks! Against their craftworld cousins GK have to deal with Runes of Warding making things tricky for them. They also don't like wave serpents and falcons with their AV12 and Holo-fields. Pretty much every codex can do something about them. I could write a entire post about their limitations and how you can pick them apart.

Get to the point, how did they "save" 40K?
Well, you don't have to go to many tournaments or clubs to realise that the vast majority of people play Space Marines of one flavour or another. They make up a large chunk of the available codexes and even when promising books like DE and Necrons come out you can always guarantee people will end up back with their marine armies after a brief flirtation. So what army are the grey knights, these golden boys of the imperium, best against? Other Space Marines. Yes other armies also struggle but clearly Space Marines are the ones who'll have the real trouble. Grey Knights are the perfect counter to MSU. They easily deal with enemy rhinos and razorbacks and then smash the occupants with torrents of fire and power/force weapon attacks.

The reason people get so upset with the GK codex is that their standard web list tournament army can't beat them. If you put a GK MSU list up against a BA, SW or vanilla marine equivalent then they'll wipe the floor with them. Along with IG these are the staple armies of the top tournament players and frankly in their current for they aren't going to have much chance against GK. This is where GK save 40K. By releasing a codex that's a perfect counter to the current builds out there it forces players to have a rethink. The "meta-game" has been knocked out of shape. There was a time when close combat armies ruled the roost and slowly but surely the meta game changed and gave mech shooty armies the advantage. We're now at a point where both styles of army can work again. No matter what anyone tells you, GK are a shooting army. They're crap in combat compared to what they can do at 24" range. They're good on the charge but even purifiers can't handle a decent alpha strike in combat.

No really, get to the point! How are they saving 40K?
There are lots of old codexes that can no perform in 40K thanks to grey knights. Tau (as I've demonstrated) can be an excellent counter to grey knights. So what if you can beat my fire warriors in combat, who can't? Here's some railgun in your face!  What do you mean you can't get through my AV13 and you've got very little S8, low AP shooting to deal with my suits? Even my AV12 causes you problems.

As I've said, Eldar are back in the game. Tons of S6 anti-infantry shots from scatter lasers, shuriken cannons and starcannons to make GK players take a lot of 3+ saves. AV12 fast vehicles which your psycannons and dreads have trouble against. Oh and good luck using your psychic powers.

New Necrons with Night Fighting, Difficult Terrain, Quantum Shielding, Re-Animation Protocols etc etc. You're going to have to get into combat with them and that's going to be tough when you'll have to abandon your transports and weather a torrent of fire to do so. Oh and scarabs will eat your tanks for breakfast!

This all leads to people trying out new things. It's no longer possible to easily build an army to take on all-comers because there's been such a backlash against grey knights.

To cut a long story short. The number of people fielding Grey Knights has meant that people have had to move away from their SM armies and look at something else. This can only be good for the game. I'd love to go to a two-day tournament and only play one game against an MEQ army. Right now, I think that might happen!

Far from Grey Knights, "ruining 40k", they're saving it!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Final Battle of 2011 - Tau vs Grey Knights (2000 pts)

Recently I've been tempted to bring my Tau back to life and given that I'm finding it hard to motivate myself to paint any Dark Eldar I'm happy to try anything else! Therefore I'm coming back to Tau for a bit. Matt and I are heading to Jolly Toys Outing in February so I haven't got long to get my army chosen and painted!

We had a couple of games on New Year's Eve. The first of which saw the GK demolish my 2K Dark Eldar dual webway army without breaking a sweat. I think I only killed a land raider and a couple of guys! Needless to say it was a total whitewash.

Anyway, after a quick game of Horus Heresy from Fantasy Flight (I'll be reviewing it shortly), we decided to give my Tau list a try against the same GK list. Now, ordinarily if you said Tau were going to take on GK you'd think it was a done deal, right? Well when you think about it Tau are actually great against the standard Razorspam GK list. The usual tournament list consists of tons of razorbacks, strike squads and dreads. All of which are easy work for a Tau army to deal with. They aren't particularly quick, don't have very heavily armoured vehicles and small units makes for easier torrenting.

With that in mind I actually felt confident. This is surprising because I haven't played Tau against Matt for well over a year because, quite frankly, Blood Angels are horrible for Tau. Well, at least the way Matt played them with lots of jump packs and Mephiston.

His GK list for the battle is pretty horrible too. Big squad of terminators in a land raider with a grand master, rhinos with purifiers and Coteaz, razorbacks with henchmen and the obligatory psyfleman dreads. A nasty prospect for any opponent but funnily enough I felt confident. 

Anyway, onto the battle. We'd be playing Pitched Battle and Annihilation with 2000pts each. I luckily took the first turn and deployed my army nice and spread out. Broadsides on each flank (can put them anywhere really thanks to 72" range) and hammerhead dead centre. Crisis teams dotted in between with the piranhas up front. The plasma/fusion commander and his bodyguard would be deep striking.

Matt hid his dreadnoughts behind a building and spread out his transports around his deployment zone with his land raider pretty central. Thanks to his Grand Master he was able to Outflank one Rhino full of Purifiers. Despite having Coteaz Matt failed to Seize and it was time to "bring the rain" as it were.

The broadsides targetted the land raider and the first shot of the game saw it explode thanks to lovely AP1. The rest of the army were inspired by the heavy hitters and at the end of the first turn Matt's transports were mostly smoking craters. Two of the razorbacks had exploded with both squads two of the three henchmen inside as casualties of the blast. The other razorback was immobilised but Coteaz's rhino was intact.

Still reeling from a heavy death toll in my first turn Matt responded by bringing his dreads out from cover and popping shots at hammerhead. The first failed to penetrate the sturdy front armour of the tank and the second dread was distracted by the trusty disruption fields. Coteaz and his purifiers were able to bring down one pair of crisis suits and one of the piranhas bought it but otherwise there was little damage from the Titan residents.

In turn two my commander arrived right on schedule to drop in next to the terminators and a combination of plasma and fusion firepower took 4 of the grand master's 6 strong bodyguard down. Unsurprisingly Matt charged in. Unfortunately for him they'd remain in combat with my suits until turn 5 (thanks for Shield Generators). Elsewhere the drones from the piranhas killed off the surviving henchmen cowering near the wreckage of their razorbacks. The broadsides were less successful against the dreadnoughts thanks to cover saves and the damage was starting to slow down.

In Matt's turn the outflanking purifiers arrived and smashed the broadsides in combat. The plan with Tau is to always try and lose a combat so that the victors then have to face a torrent of fire. In the following turn the purifiers took heavy casualties thanks to submunitions from the hammerhead, flamers from nearby crisis suits and a double-tap from the fire warriors who'd disembarked nearby.

Coteaz's squad failed to blow up a devilfish with their psycannons but had more success on the charge. Unfortunately the squad who were forced to disembark were pinned down in the face of the Space Marines. Like their brethren on the other flank the purifiers would need to survive some serious hammer though.

The dreadnoughts again survived the fire put down on them but another razorback was wrecked forcing the henchmen out in the open. The three remaining purifiers who'd Outflanked charged some firewarriors easily finishing them off. Coteaz split off from his squad to engage the broadsides and the purifiers went after another devilfish. Coteaz narrowly managed to beat the broadsides in combat and caught them in a Sweeping Advance. The purifiers brought down another devilfish but again left the fire warriors standing. The tau responded and killed all but a single purifier. Coteaz took a fusion gun to the face too.

The sole remaining purifier managed to kill an entire squad of fire warriors on his own before he too was finished by a fusion gun shot from a nearby piranha. At this point the grand master, who found himself very lonely after his terminators had been killed by the suits (before they too died), was heading over towards my lines and I was lucky that Matt failed his invulnerable save and he was vapourised by a trusty fusion gun!

This roughly brought us to turn 5. I had a very strong chance of tabling Matt as he only had a rhino, 2 dreads and a trio of henchmen still around. I made the mistake of charging the henchmen with some gun drones thinking I'd kill a couple and make the rest run. Sadly in a monumental fail of a combat, neither side managed to do any damage to the other and we stayed locked until the end of turn 7. The dreadnoughts kept on passing cover saves meaning I could only immobilise them. Matt still couldn't shift the hammerhead and the game ended.

I was pretty confident that I'd taken victory but I knew it would be a close thing as my list has A LOT of killpoints. When we totalled things up I'd scored 12 and Matt just beat me with 13. VPs told a different story with me scoring 1,813 to Matt's 1,496. By no means a convincing margin but not minor either.

I have to say it was one of the best games of 40K in a long time. The seeming underdog coming very close to toppling the current "army to beat". It came right down to the wire and if a couple of things had gone differently I would've won. Now, I normally look at these games and think "what could I have done better?" but, to be honest, I don't think there was very much I did wrong. I played the game pretty well and there were only a couple of minor mistakes. That's not to say that luck didn't play a big part in it though. Matt failed some crucial invulnerable saves and I passed a lot of cover saves on my vehicles.

There were a couple of crucial mistakes I made though. The first was that I should've never engaged the henchmen in combat. Instead I should've kept popping out shooting them and hiding again. I'd have only needed to kill one of them to force a leadership test and they were pretty close to the edge. The second thing I did wrong was that I sometimes wasted units. I didn't want to rely on killing things the first time I fired so I tended to line up a shooting gallery. This worked well against the two large purifier units but against single targets like the grand master and Coteaz I ended up with units that couldn't fire because there were no targets in range once the single model was killed. This firepower could've finished off other units and won me the game.

I think the reason I was able to play the game well was that Tau aren't exactly a complex army. There are very few special rules to worry about. The difficulty is deciding what to fire at when. With my list in particular there's a lot of redundancy so I don't have to rely on one unit to do the job. I think the crucial thing with Tau is that they fold in combat. You have to use this to your advantage. By carefully placing units so that no multi-charge is possible and applying wounds correctly you can ensure that your enemy can only kill one unit a turn and then find itself in the open in your turn. Not always that simple but that's the principle!

Well the point of the two games was to determine which army I should be taking to Jolly Toys in Feb. I still think my Dark Eldar need a lot of work both tactically and from a hobby point of view so.... I'm taking Tau! I'll keep you updated on my progress of painting them up and testing them out as we come up to the tournament and then obviously I'll be reporting on my efforts after the event itself.

(Apologies for the lack of pictures but I was using all my concentration on actually fighting the battle for a change!)


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