Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tournament Report - Wrath of the Titans (1750pts)

Matt and I have a shared nemesis in Frank Marsh. We've both played him at various tournaments and all of the games have been pretty close and hard fought. He's been along to Blog Wars several times so when he invited the two of us down to London for Wrath of the Titans we figured it'd be rude not to show up. This was in spite of the 2.5 hour drive and lack of sleep I'd had the night before!

I was taking a modification of my now standard mechanised Tau:

1,750pts of Tau
Commander with fusion, plasma, VRT, Iridium & target lock
2 XV8 Bodyguard with twin-linked fusion & plasma

10 Fire warriors in Devilfish
10 Fire warriors in Devilfish
10 Fire warriors in Devilfish
10 Kroot with hound
10 Kroot with hound

Riptide with ion accelerator, fusion, VT, EWO
Riptide with ion accelerator, fusion, VT, EWO
Crisis team (2 suits with 2xMP, flamer & shas'vre with 2xMP, PENchip)

5 pathfinders
5 pathfinders
5 pathfinders

Onto the battle reports which will be pretty brief as I'm busy sorting stuff out for Blog Wars so I don't have time to go into too much depth.

Game One - Tau vs. Dark Angels
The first mission would be Purge the Alien on Dawn of War deployment and I was facing Adam Cunis and his beautifully painted Deathwing list. The army was impressive for two reasons, firstly because they're all converted to "true scale" and secondly because he bravely decided to paint them white!! Adam went on to win the best painted army and deservedly so. Stunning models aside I wasn't especially thrilled to be playing an elite army for this particular scenario.

When I won first turn and Adam failed to Seize I felt pretty confident. I'd need to aim for maximum points though including all of the secondaries and there were only 8 units in Adam's army. The crisis team took down the dreadnought for First Blood, one riptide killed all but the sergeant in the devastator squad and the other riptide took down a good chunk of the deathwing knights. That meant that most of Adam's long range fire was out of the equation and therefore my transports should be pretty safe. Of course that was until Belial and his unit arrived and easily wrecked one of the devilfish on my right flank.

Sadly for Belial his success was short lived as my command unit, the crisis team and one of the riptides combined to severely deplete his squad and take him down in the process. The following turns consisted of me slowly advancing and chipping away at his remaining forces. The cover saves from the scouts in the bolstered ruin kept them alive a long time but couldn't prevent the inevitable. In a last act of defiance the remaining two scouts attempted to charge my kroot only to be cut down by overwatch and complete the tabling. With all three secondary missions and only a single devilfish down (a squad of kroot managed to regroup before the end) the game ended 11-1 to me.

Game Two - Tau vs. Eldar
Having rushed my lunch (as no one told me just how far away KFC was from the venue), I wasn't thrilled to be facing a pretty mech heavy Eldar list with bikes on the side. My army struggles against AV12 so this wasn't going to be much fun.

We were playing Crusade (3 objectives) on Hammer & Anvil. It wasn't an especially bloody affair as most of the time my opponent sat at range and blasted away at me. I lost a few pathfinders early on but they spent most of their time out of range anyway so I struggled to do damage. I actually killed more in my opponent's turns than I did in mine with the riptides combining to kill a Crimson Hunter that arrived from reserve to give me First Blood. The wraithknight simply wouldn't die as he was Fortuned most of the time. The kroot helped me deal with some of the jetbikes but I knew I wasn't killing them quick enough and they'd swarm the objectives.

I never had much chance of claiming Slay the Warlord as his Farseer was buried in a squad of bikes. My commander tried to arrive on turn 2 and take out some wave serpents but scattered off the board and was Delayed. He then didn't reappear until turn 4 which ended up being the final turn (not sure how long the games were meant to be but they felt rushed). My objective was neither controlled nor challenged so his objective and the central objective would be key.

At the end of his final turn he had the central objective ringed with bikes preventing me from getting within 3" to contest. His objective was controlled by 3 bikes and 5 dire avengers. In order to win (thanks to First Blood and Linebreaker) I'd need to contest both objectives. In the centre I was able to kill a single bike to allow my remaining crisis suit to use his thrust move to contest. The attack on his objective didn't go so well. I'd tried to deep strike my Commander near enough to use his Thrust to contest but he scatted 8" meaning I'd need a double 6 to be in range. I'd therefore need to kill (or at least force them to run) his bikes and dire avengers. I made short work of the dire avengers with the commander but the pie-plates from both riptides scattered off and the rest of my shooting (from fire warriors and kroot) was saved by the bikes 3+ armour giving me a 2-4 defeat. Ultimately my inability to kill stuff in the earlier turns was my down
fall but at least I'd made it close.

Game Three - Tau vs. Eldar (again!)
Having so narrowly and frustratingly missed out on the win against Eldar in the last game I was less than thrilled to be playing them again. Luckily this list didn't involve any mech but there were some bikes again which would prove to be my undoing. There was another wraithknight too!

We'd be playing Emperor's Will on Vanguard and I took first turn. This basically meant the only thing my opponent allowed me to see was the wraithknight who only took a single wound despite my best efforts. This was largely down to the riptides failing to wound with their ion accelerators. My opponent fired everything he could into one of my devilfish to try and claim First Blood but left it on a single hull point. This meant he had to charge his mantle Autarch into it to finish it off. The autarch unsurprisingly bought it in my next turn but losing First Blood was a major blow. My opponent now had no need to come for my objective so I'd need to push up the field as quickly as I could whilst avoiding a charge from the wraithknight.

This turned out to be the main issue. The kroot arrived and were pretty lucky in gunning down most of his dark reapers. Eldrad now had to survive fire from the commander and his unit who arrived nearby. Frustratingly the way the dice were rolled he failed Look Out Sir! rolls but passed the resultant invulnerables. Had I killed a single further Dark Reaper and those 1s would've been his invulnerable save rolls. Eldrad was then able to charge into a squad of kroot and use them as a safety net for the rest of the game.

The wraithknight turned it's attention to my commander and vaporised his bodyguard. The commander tried to finish off some bikes before his inevitable demise but it wasn't to be. Once again I was barely killing anything. I'd managed to kill off some rangers near my objective but a squad of bikes which arrived from reserve made enough saves to keep a single model alive. In the end I knew if I couldn't kill it my objective would be contested.

At the other side of the table my riptides charged a unit of guardians on his objective, forced them to run and used the resulting consolidation move to contest his objective. Back at my side of the table one of my devilfish needed to kill his remaining jetbike but triple one was the roll to hit! My only hope then was that I'd arranged my models around the objective well enough to prevent him from getting into range to contest. Sadly I'd missed a spot and he was able to drop a bike on the floor above my objective and give him a 3-1 win on secondaries.

The final game was probably the most frustrating game of 40K I've ever played (the second game wasn't far behind). The reason for this was that if one of about twenty different little moves I tried had come off then the result would've been different. Everything I attempted to do seemed to fail miserably. There were several times when a single model survived from a squad which was enough to cause major problems.

One thing that made things worse was that with the Wraithknights having wraithcannons I felt the need to nova for 3++ in case my opponents rolled that crucial 6 to wound and cause instant death. Unbelievably both Eldar players largely ignored this capability so I should've been using Nova for offensive capability. The only time a wraithcannon was fired at a riptide was when one of them planned on charging. He did get a 6 but I passed my 5++ save and he failed the charge. The rest of the time they were fired at my vehicles which probably could've been destroyed by other stuff.

The first game was undoubtedly a mismatch and fair play to Adam for making it enjoyable when he had every right to be miserable. I was pretty pleased with how close I'd managed to make the Eldar games with some last turn tactical genius. Obviously the pressure would've been off if I'd played the rest of the game better but to come so close to winning both games was good. It's just a shame neither final push worked. Hopefully Blog Wars will be a lot less frustrating!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blog Wars 6 Prize Announcement!

It's that time again and as ever it's my favourite bit of the Blog Wars build-up (except the pie charts of course!). This time around the good people at Element Games, who now run the shop at the NWGC, have generously sponsored the event. I'm very grateful to them for this and as ever I encourage you to support them and therefore the venue. Whilst I can't pretend the death of Maelstrom was to do with poor sales, I'd hate to see another excellent venue go under. Anyway, Element will be offering 15% off GW stuff and of course that means the vouchers from the tournament will be effectively worth that little bit more. Their website shows the stock that will be available to buy on the day so it's worth taking a look so you can plan what you'd like to pick up on the day.

As ever there'll be vouchers for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and last place alongside vouchers for Best Painted Army and Best Painted Special Character. To me though the exciting things are the spot prizes and raffle prizes.

Spot Prizes
Once again there'll be two categories for spot prizes: Booby prizes and I Miss 5th Edition prizes. The booby prizes are awarded to the first player in a round to do something particularly bad to his own army! As compensation he'll pick up one of the spot prizes which will be very loosely related to the cock up. These will be for the same mistakes as at BW5 if any of you can remember that far back!

The "I Miss 5th Edition" prizes will be awarded to players who have something happen to them that simply wouldn't have been possible in the previous version of the rules. Like the booby prizes these are for the same things as at BW5. For example, failing a charge of less than 6" across open ground which is something that of course wouldn't have happened in 5th edition.

These prizes will be up for grabs during all three rounds so keep an eye on the big screen to see how you can win them and then all you need to do is remember to claim them. There's only one per round so it's the first person to correctly claim it that will take the prize.

On offer are:
  • Psychic Power Cards
  • Plastic Eldar Farseer kit
  • Munitorum Templates
  • Skull Measuring Tape
  • Aegis Defence Line
  • Munitorum Vehicle Dice
Raffle Prizes
My favourite part of Blog Wars and something that's been around since the first event, the raffle is where the big prizes are to be won. These prizes will be on offer at the end of the day as part of the prize ceremony. Once again, there's no need to buy a ticket you're already in the draw. Everyone's player number goes into a hat and they're drawn at random. You'll have to wait until the day to find out what you can win but I'm very happy with the selection on offer. Obviously there's prizes there that will be more use to some than others but there's always eBay and bear in mind that each prize is worth more than your ticket cost to buy!! 

Finally I'd just like to say another big thanks to Element Games for sponsoring the event and allowing me to offer such excellent prize support. I defy you to find a tournament that offers more prizes for such a reasonable ticket price! In total there's over £375 worth of prizes to be had! Carlsberg don't make tournaments but......

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Post 400 - Armies at Blog Wars 6 (The Pie Chart Post)

First off this is apparently post number 400 on this blog! That's somewhat disturbing really. Even more worrying when you consider how many words are in my usual posts!! I've probably written enough on here for several doctoral theses! Time well spent..... perhaps.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for sending in their army lists. If you haven't received an email from me it means everything is fine with your list. Those who've received queries regarding minor errors please get back to me as soon as you can. I've updated the Blog Wars 6 page with the armies that everyone is bringing. As usual though I'd like to look at the spread of races represented at BW6 and that of course means pie charts!!

Before you take a look at the new charts perhaps you'd like to remind yourself what the situation was like at BW5. Grey Knights, Tau and Tyranids were the most popular choices back in June. This wasn't surprising in some ways as the new Tau codex hit in April but on the other hand the number of Grey Knights armies was somewhat unexpected. Anyway, here's the spread of races at Blog Wars 6 (click to make it more legible):

Tyranids, CSM, Eldar and surprisingly Space Wolves dominate the field. In the past the prevelance of Space Wolves armies could be put down to From The Fang being about them but that isn't really the case these days. It's remarkable then that one of the few armies left in the game without flyers of any kind and with little anti-air capability are still popular. It'll be interesting to see how they fare as their book could be considered an older codex now.

Tau are still popular which isn't surprising really. I'm intrigued by the number of CSM armies when they aren't considered competitive these days. I'm surprised there aren't more Space Marines with their new shiny codex but perhaps people haven't had chance to put their armies together in time for the event. There's only a single Necron army this time around too despite their ability to hold their own even with the new books.

There are slightly more players bringing allies this time but no major shift. Here's the chart:

Nothing particularly astounding to report here. More Space Wolves though! You'll do well not to play them at some point this weekend. If you take out the Tyranids (since they can't take allies) then about a third of the armies have allies.

Generally speaking the most likely opponents for your army (in no particular order) are Tyranids, Space Wolves, Tau, Eldar and CSM. It'll be interesting to see how well my Tau do against that field (or not).

Finally, onto the Special Characters and it isn't hard to see why Malan'tai was doomed when their doom appears 5 times at Blog Wars 6!! It'll be interesting to see the conversions on offer. Fair play to the accidentally original Tyranid player who's taken Deathleaper instead!! Otherwise two each of Arjac, Eldrad, Farsight, Fateweaver, Lonstrike, Shadowsun and Tigurius. There's quite a mixture of characters around though with 39 in total (several armies have multiple SCs) and 27 unique characters will be represented at least once.

I'm pleased that probably my favourite character, Arjac Rockfist is represented twice. He's one to watch out for.

Friday Night
There wasn't exactly a deluge of responses about Friday night so I'm not going to run a formal event. There are about half a dozen people around the night before the main tournament though so if you guys wanted to head down to the venue and play pick up games as warm up then go for it.

Rules Queries
There were a couple of questions about the scenarios that I thought I'd post up here in case anyone else was wondering the same thing. Firstly in the Purge the Alien style game the VPs are calculated based on the points value of the units killed in a similar way to 5th edition i.e. units at 50% starting strength and below count for 50% of their points (rounding up). In the case of armies that can spawn models such as Tyranid tervigons and Daemons portalglyphs the spawned models are worth their usual codex values and should be included. This means there is the potential to score bonus VPs above the theoretical 25 VP maximum.

Secondly, the nominated special character counts as scoring in the objective missions which means he also counts as a denial character even if he wouldn't normally i.e. Longstrike in his hammerhead. He can be used for Linebreaker in this way too.

If there are any further queries about the scenarios or 40K rules in general please either comment here or email me and I'll give a ruling.

Having seen the armies that will be in attendance Blog Wars 6 is shaping up to be very interesting. With the player count standing at 34, this is the biggest event yet. I'm looking forward to it immensely and I hope you guys are too. Only 11 days to go!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tau in 6th Edition - Shadowsun vs. XV8 Commander

After my post the other day looking at my experiments with mechanised Tau there was a discussion about using Shadowsun in place of my usual Commander. With Blog Wars just over three weeks away (tickets are still available - plug, plug) I need to decide whether or not I'll be using Shadowsun as my compulsory Special Character or not. If I decide to take her then she'll need to be built and painted pretty sharpish!

Before I go any further I wanted to quickly explain why I'm having this debate. Basically my mechanised Tau list is a lot more fun to play but lacks the punch of my gunline thanks to the loss of the Ethereal. With Blog Wars requiring a special character I was planning on fielding Darkstrider. However, the suggestion that came up was to swap the XV8 Commander for Shadowsun. This would fulfil the SC requirement and allow me to take the Ethereal instead. It should also free up some points to allow me to take more fire warriors and further address the loss of firepower compared to my previous list. Anyway, onto the debate.

For the purposes of this discussion I'm assuming that the Commander will have my standard loadout of fusion, plasma, VRT, target lock and iridium armour. This comes in at a nice round 150pts which I think is a total steal for what he's capable of. He's usually accompanied by a pair of crisis bodyguard with twin-linked fusion blaster and a plasma rifle. This squad deep strikes in and hits heavily armoured targets like terminators or even small squads of marines. It's also great for both MCs and vehicles alike. Let's assume for this discussion that Shadowsun will take the same bodyguard.

When I originally reviewed the special characters I stated that Shadowsun is probably the best of the HQ specials. I'm still pretty sure that's true but I think I've only used her once. Here's a quick rundown of what you get for your points:

  • Reduced statline compared to my Commander (-1S, -1T, -1W) but increased initiative (4).
  • Two fusion blasters with split fire for one of them (other must fire at unit's target)
  • Advanced targeting system (to hit rolls of 5 are Precision Shots)
  • 3+/5++ save
  • Stealth & Shrouded which are conferred to her unit
  • Stealth suits get Sworn Protector (no use to me)
  • Drones for added protection and buffing
Pretty decent package but let's start to take a look at how she compares to my usual Commander.

Warlord Traits
Shadowsun has to take the 3D6" thrust move trait. This increases her unit's survivability but obviously means there's no chance of getting the other results which can be handy at times. Is it that big of a loss though? Being able to deep strike without scattering is great, skyfire for a turn can be crucial and so can preventing Look Out Sir rolls, however, there's the chance of getting the get back up after going to ground thing or else getting skyfire against an army with no flyers. The remaining trait that gives re-rolls of 1s to hit is mitigated by Shadowsun's command-link drone which can have the same effect on a single unit every turn. 

Of course all of this is based on the random nature of the warlord trait table. There's a good chance I'd get a useless trait and wish I'd got the 3D6" thrust. The re-roll bubble trait is nice but since they're usually deep striking it tends to only affect the Commander's unit anyway. The biggest loss to me is the chance to get Skyfire which can be truly game changing when you've got all that melta and plasma firing at a flyer. Again though it's down to luck and overall I'd have to say Shadowsun reliably getting a useful trait wins out.

There's quite a difference between W4 T5 with a 2+ save and W3 T3 with a 3+/5++ save. Clearly the Commander wins in this category then? Well not necessarily. My version of the Commander doesn't have an invulnerable save which means low AP weaponry is stripping wounds assuming I'm not in cover. If Shadowsun is in cover she's getting a 2++ save too. Her lower toughness is rarely going to be an issue since her unit and her drones are T4 so most of the time she'll be effectively T4 too. The extra wounds come in the form of drones which can effectively give her 6 wounds if used well. The problem is that T3 is unavoidable for S6+ instant death. There's a lot of S6/7 around at the minute with so many wave serpents and the like. My usual Commander doesn't really care but Shadowsun would need to be a lot more careful. Obviously Look Out Sir comes in here and the bodyguard automatically pass their rolls.

Both the Commander and Shadowsun will do their best to avoid combat thanks to their JSJ routine and with 3D6" on top of 12" range (rapid fire for the plasmas) the unit should be safe from combat from even jump infantry. Incidentally, that 3D6" thrust also makes it easier to get the unit into cover for a 2++ save. Anyway, should the unit find itself in combat my usual Commander has S5 attacks and also has Hit & Run. This makes them very difficult to tie up with a 50:50 chance of leaving the combat (which I sometimes fail several times in a row). There's the potential to give one of the bodyguards a set of VRTs but then you're relying on them surviving the combat to give Shadowsun an escape route. Ultimately I think the T5 and 2+ save makes the regular Commander the winner here but it's a close run thing.

Offensive Power
As I've mentioned the Commander benefits from S5 attacks in combat but since we'll be wanting to avoid that if possible I don't think it's a factor. Otherwise their armament is similar with two fusions vs. a plasma and fusion. Shadowsun's split fire only allows one melta shot at that second tank whereas the Target Lock of the Commander allows the plasma to fire too. Mind you S6 isn't usually that brilliant and you're essentially relying on the melta shot most of the time. Against vehicles then Shadowsun is probably better as she can potentially take out two heavily armour tanks by herself.

Against infantry or MCs there isn't much in it. The commander obviously gets more shots but assuming you take the drone then Shadowsun can be hitting nearly every time. In this case that extra S8 shot comes in handy for MCs. Not a lot of difference then and actually Shadowsun probably wins out slightly.

Other Bonuses
Outside of the random warlord traits and the Hit and Run I've already discussed, the Commander doesn't really add anything to the unit and can be thought of as a tank most of the time. Shadowsun on the other hand can take a command-link drone that can reliably help out a unit within 12". Drop her near some Fire Warriors and aid their shooting or simply make her crisis team more accurate. If they can pick up a couple of marker hits then there's a good chance they'll be hitting with every shot.

The drones add some great ablative wounds too. The shield drones get a 3++ save which makes them great for thinning out S8+ shots that upset the suits. The command-link drone can be used as an ablative wound too of course. This makes an 8 wound unit into a 10 wound unit. Not a huge difference but worth thinking about.

The advanced targetting system has the potential to be a game winner. If shadowsun is firing both of her fusion blasters at a unit there's a good chance she'll get at least one 5+ which has the potential to take out those pesky power fists and help protect the unit should they not be able to escape combat.

Infiltrate is an interesting one. If you're going first then it allows Shadowsun and her unit to get into rapid-fire range of an enemy target straight away without the danger of Deep Strike (even more risky with the drones) and without the problem of not arriving until turn 4 sometimes. Of course it does make her a primary target from the get-go but potentially worth the risk. Outflank is obviously an option too but easily countered and if she's going into reserve I'd usually be deep striking.

Most of this stuff isn't available to the commander so this category has to go to Shadowsun.

Overall I'd say Shadowsun wins out in this debate. At time she'll die a lot easier than a commander but often she'll make the unit very tricky to kill indeed. Being able to Infiltrate means more units on the table at the start of the game which is no bad thing in my opinion. The command link drone potentially allows me to ditch the twin-linkage on the suits and instead take a VRT and Target Lock. Ultimately she's more interesting than the commander in terms of both the model and her rules. I can see her being a lot of fun to use so I better get her built and painted.

The other thing to consider is what I can now do with the rest of the army. My biggest concern with the mechanised list was the reduction in S5 firepower compared to my gunline. With Shadowsun as both my Commander and Special Character, I'm now free to take an Ethereal. The issue is how the Ethereal works in a mechanised list. Obviously, you want all of the "Fish of Fury" shenanigans to take place near to each other so they can all benefit from Storm of Fire.

The question is though, how does Storm of Fire work with transports. I see it like the Sanguinary Priest in the BA army in that if the Ethereal is in the transport then you measure range from the Devilfish. It's debatable whether or not you leave him in the transport solo though as he'd be at a huge risk if it blew up. Anyway, the other question is will the effect then work when you do the old "Fish of Fury"? Do the Fire Warriors need to be on the table at the start of the movement phase or is it like the BA Sanguinary Priest where they just need to be within 12" when they fire. If so you could potentially use the Ethereal for one FOF attack and then Flat Out his transport to aid another FOF unit. Answers on a post card please.

With a bit of tweaking of the list I can get three units of 11 fire warriors which is only 3 short of how many I had in my gunline. Throw in the drones from the tanks (which also get Storm of Fire) and I'm probably getting more shots than I was before. That's assuming of course that I get all 3 units within 12" of the Ethereal.

It's a shame to drop Darkstrider but I think it's the right call. It's been fun using him for the test games and he's great against MCs and marines alike but a lot of the time you just wish his -1T effect worked for all of the units firing at a target.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Tau in 6th Edition - The Mechanised Cadre

Thanks to the Eldar Wave Serpent being all kinds of useful it's a good time to look again at mech lists for the Tau army and how viable they can be in 6th edition. There's no doubt that there's been a huge shift away from vehicles since the start of 6th edition and the tank walls of 5th edition are just a distant memory. This is largely down to how much easier they are to take down. Hull point stripping means that anything with enough S5+ firepower (or gauss, haywire, etc) can easily down the humble rhino or razorback. However, Eldar and Tau (and to a lesser extent Imperial Guard) can field several AV12 transports which, whilst only having slightly thicker armour, are able to hold up a lot better. This is largely due to the shift towards mid-strength shot spam rather than the S8+ shots of late 5th edition.

There's no denying that in 6th edition objectives are key to winning games with 5 of the 6 missions featuring them. Assuming you aren't planning on simply wiping out your opponent (which is certainly possible with Tau) then you need to think about manoeuvrability. That static gunline of fire warriors is great if your opponent is forced to come to you, for whatever reason, but soon becomes impotent if the roles are reversed. With this in mind I've been looking at mechanising my Tau cadre. Here's the list I've been trying out ahead of Blog Wars 6:

1,850 pts of Tau
Dark Strider
Commander w/ fusion, plasma, target lock, VRT, Iridium suit
2 Crisis Bodyguard w/ plasma & twin-linked fusion

10 Fire Warriors in a Devilfish w/ d.pod
9 Fire Warriors in a Devilfish w/ d.pod
9 Fire Warriors in a Devilfish w/ d.pod
10 Kroot
10 Kroot

Crisis team (2 with pod and twin pod and shas'vre with 2 pods and a PENchip)
Riptide (Ion, fusion, EWO, VT)
Riptide (Ion, fusion, EWO, VT)

3x 6 Pathfinders

Obviously Darkstrider is to comply with the compulsory SC for Blog Wars but otherwise it's a very similar list to the one I took to Reanimation. The notable difference is the ditching of the Ethereal, aegis line and several fire warriors to give all three remaining teams of fire warriors a devilfish. Now, obviously this list could be more mechanised but it's a step in that direction for now. Right, let's move on to the list in action:

Game One vs. Eldar (Jamie)
What Happened
The game was pretty much a white wash. Jamie was fielding a heavily mechanised Eldar force but thanks to going first a couple of the Eldar tanks had already dropped by the end of turn 1. This was mostly due to the pathfinders getting a sickening number of hits. Sadly for Jamie his reserves arrived piecemeal which meant they were picked off as they arrived. With Darkstrider and his unit wading through masses of troops and continued marker support the fire warriors were able to hold onto the objectives pretty easily.
Tau Thoughts
Despite not having much in the way of dedicated anti-tank (only the missile crisis team really), the pathfinders helped the riptides and crisis teams to make the most of their firepower and bring down the Eldar skimmers. It might've been a very different game if I'd gone second as my pathfinders would've been a priority target but nevertheless I was pleased to have dealt with a mechanised opponent.
Eldar Thoughts
Eldar will usually be stiff competition for the Tau as they can put out similar volumes of fire but are far more mobile and with no psychic defense (not that many armies still have it) the Tau are vulnerable to the offensive powers. This was a mech vs. mech affair that really could've gone either way and there's no doubt I was lucky to kill some of the Eldar tanks when I did.

Game Two vs. Space Marines (Jamie)
What Happened
Despite getting the first turn again, Jamie stole the initiative allowing his White Scars to make the most of their speed to get in range with their grav weaponry and kill off a decent number of pathfinders. I was pretty unlucky with my return fire too which meant that one riptide died to graviton fire having failed its Nova roll. All of the fire warriors had gotten out of their transports to meet the bikes head on but this just left them out in the open and vulnerable. My commander and Darkstrider's devilfish arrived from reserve and brought down the command squad with Khan but I'd lost most of my infantry by this stage so the objectives would be a struggle. I slowly swept across the board killing everything in my path but unfortunately it was too little too late and Jamie had enough left to control objectives and win the game.

Tau Thoughts
With hindsight I should've used Nova to gain a 3++ save but then this wouldn't have saved the riptide who failed his Nova. I didn't play the game particularly well as I should've been focussing on troops more. Two of the three tranports made it to the end but sadly their occupants had long since bought it. This game served to highlight that whilst this mech Tau list is more mobile than my previous list it still can't keep pace with truly mobile armies.

Space Marine Thoughts
This was the first time I'd come up against grav weaponry and I can't say I was that blown away by it. Obviously it was effective against the riptide but if you can get that 3++ save off then it isn't going to be all that devastating. Once the big stuff is out of the equation you're mostly better off using the bolters for increased accuracy as you'll struggle to wound pathfinders with the grav-guns. If you came up against a list without any big MCs in it you'd wish you'd brought along plasma or melta. Against marines it's wounding on 3+ but that isn't particularly awesome. Whilst White Scar bikes are harder to kill thanks to effectively having Skilled Rider, they're still just T5 marines and still suck in combat. Obviously they're a strong opponent but perhaps they aren't as exciting as people think.

Game Three vs. Daemons (Matt)
What Happened
I've beaten Matt's Daemons (normally allied with Chaos) nearly every time I've played them with my gunline Tau list. This has largely come down to two things a) the overwatch from my gunline is punishing and b) daemon princes don't like Longstrike's railgun. This time I wouldn't have either of those though so I wasn't feeling especially confident. I'd also be lacking Darkstrider as we were testing at 1,750 for another tournament. Things were looking up though when I managed to kill off the portalglyph daemon prince with my opening volley. Sadly there were still 4 other flying MCs to deal with. Despite getting them grounded easily enough I couldn't force enough failed saves to bring down any more of the beasts. Thanks to Enfeeble the daemon princes were able to Smash and insta-kill my riptides and my fire warriors were devastated by Fateweaver's Sunburst psychic power. Oh and the warp storm table didn't do my many favours either! We called it towards the end of turn 4 as Matt had very much got the upper hand and I was quickly running out of weaponry to deal with his MCs.

Tau Thoughts
There's one major advantage that Tau have over other armies when facing flying MCs and that's disposable firepower. You only need to hit them to force a grounding test which means markerlights and drones are excellent. This frees up your real firepower to hammer the now grounded beasts. If you can't down them at least the riptides can hit them at full BS with great weaponry for dealing with princes. That being said there's significantly less firepower in this list with 8 less fire warriors and no Ethereal. Darkstrider's toughness modifier probably makes up for the fire warriors but losing so many shots without the Ethereal is painful. I'd say that's probably the key difference with my old list that allowed the DPs to make a real mess of my army. It didn't help that my commander was late to the party (arriving on turn 3) either.

Daemons Thoughts
This is probably the first time I've played a true "flying circus" list. The Bloodthirster is devastating in combat but obviously didn't really get chance to shine against Tau. Fateweaver and the princes get access to tons of psychic powers so some great combinations are actually pretty likely to happen. Their may be a limited number of troops in the list but if the portalglyph can be deployed out of sight then the spawned daemons are likely to get ignored when you've got so many MCs in your face. Obviously this list relies on a lot of luck from the warp storm table and random psychic powers but with the right rolls it can be extremely deadly. Can your army deal with 5 flying MCs? Of my four races, only the Tau would stand a fighting chance I reckon.

Overall Thoughts about the List
There's a big debate about how markerlights affect vehicles and more specifically how Ignores Cover works against Jink saves. Personally I think it makes sense for it to affect vehicles just as easily but until GW officially corrects it the debate will still rage. Even so, having three pathfinders teams is very useful. It means you've got a decent chance of having marker support until the later turns and being able to light up multiple targets or combine two teams onto a crucial target is great.

There's no denying this list has significantly less firepower than before. The devilfish and drones probably make up for the reduced number of fire warriors but the Ethereal is definitely missed. When you think about how many shots you're losing per turn, nevermind over the whole game, then you can see why the ethereal is a great choice for fire warrior based lists. 

I also really missed Longstrike. Whilst he's going to be a priority target, the S10 railgun doesn't half make Daemon Princes fearful. It's shame he's quite so expensive though as it'd be hard to squeeze him into this list without dropping something significant.

Moar Mech?!?
As I said above this isn't a truly mechanised cadre. To achieve that you have to start looking to Forge World for the Tetras. Otherwise the pathfinders are too obvious a target in a list of tanks. I suppose you could look to Sky Rays for marker support but they're simply not as effective and suck up valuable points. The crisis teams and riptides aren't technically mech either but they're a pretty crucial part of the list. The kroot could also be traded for more fire warriors but they're always useful for getting into the backfield and claiming objectives.

Without significantly changing the list i.e. dropping the riptides, I can't see me taking a more mechanised list than this. Love them or hate them the riptides are undoubtedly crucial and without them you're hampering yourself. Of course broadsides can fill some of the gap left by riptides but they aren't nearly as effective in most situations.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Blog Wars 6 - Only a month to go! (A few notes and Mech Tau)

Unbelievably there's only a month until Blog Wars 6! It hasn't half come around fast! Luckily I'm taking a very similar list to last time so I'm not having to do any last minute painting but good luck to any of you that are!

The good news is there are still a few tickets left for the event. For those who don't know about Blog Wars here's a quick rundown:
  • Originally started as an inter-blog event but now open to EVERYONE!
  • 3 games at 1,850pts with 2.5 hours per game
  • Each army MUST include a special character in their primary detachment (full list of permitted SCs on the BW6 page)
  • Imperial Armour units are not allowed
  • Prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Wooden Spoon, Best Painted Army, Best Painted Special Character
  • Spot prizes throughout the day
  • Free raffle at the end of the day (keep an eye out for the list of what's on offer)
More than half of the tickets have been sold but if you'd like one their £15 each and can be purchased by either using the contact me link or simply clicking on the PayPal button.  I'll be confirming some of the prizes in the next week or so (when I buy them!) but as ever there'll be plenty up for grabs. Full details are on the BW6 page which can be accessed by clicking on the logo to the right.

There were a few issues with the food at BW5 with some people waiting a while to get theirs. I've been speaking to Darran at NWGC tonight and he says they've had a complete overhaul of the cafe and at a recent event with 30+ people everyone was served within 10 minutes. Sounds a lot more promising I'm sure you'll agree. Food choices will probably be something like spaghetti bolognese, curry or burger and chips. That kind of thing anyway. Obviously I leave it up to you guys to let me know if you have any specific dietary requirements.

Friday Night
I know a few people came up to Stockport the night before the event last time around. I'm actually off work on the Friday so if there are enough people around I'd be happy to run a bit of 40K in 40 minutes (or similar) for a pre-event warmup. I'll email everyone who's bought a ticket in the next few days and see if there's much interest. If I were to do it then there would, of course, be generous prize support for a minimal entry fee.

Mech Tau
Just a quick note about mechanised Tau. I've been toying with the idea of a mechanised list for BW6. The motivation for this was two-fold. Firstly I think that with the shift to infantry based lists recently there are a lot of armys now that struggle to deal with massed AV12. Secondly, whilst there's no denying the static gunline with Ethereal is effective, it isn't exactly much fun to play with or against.

Anyway, I've had a few games with my mech Tau recently so I'll post up some brief battle reports and after action thoughts when I get around to writing them up (GTA V is taking up a lot of my time at the moment!).


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