Tau VS Space Marines Battle Report

July 23, 2009 ·

July 23, 2009

Tired of his Dark Angels codex, James decided to give the new Space Marine codex a try in a battle report against my Tau.

The Space Marine Codex has a number of new toys James was keen to employ from sniper scouts with Rending sniper rifles to the Chapter Master with a relic blade and Orbital Bombardment as well as the Tech Marine with Thunderfire Cannon.

Meanwhile, I would rock up with my usual Tau list, fend them off and defeat James once again with superior tactics. Or at least, that's the plan!

1500 Points 40K Battle Report:
Game: Seize Ground (3 objectives)
Deployment: Spearhead
Opponent: James Le Grys, Space Marines

1500 Points Space Marine Army
Chapter Master with relic blade, storm bolter, hellfire rounds, orbital bombardment

Chaplain with jump pack and melta bombs
10 Assault Marines including sgt with powerfist

X3 Space Marine Tactical Squads
Sgt and 4 space marines, plasma gun
5 space marines, lascannon
Razorback with twin linked heavy bolters and extra armour

10 Sniper Scouts

Techmarine with Tunderfire Cannon

Space Marine Army Thoughts:
Let's go through the things I found scary in this Space Marine army. Orbital Bombardment was top of my list as it splatter a Battlesuit squad very easily. I was also cautious with regards to James's token Assault Squad led by Chaplain (or the 'Cheese Vicar' as Luke calls him). I wasn't too worried about much else.

1500 Points Tau Army
Tau Shas’el
Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones
2 Bodyguards with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Hardwired Multitracker, Targeting Array

Tau Battlesuit Team
2 with Twin Linked Flamer, Missile Pod
1 Leader with Twin Linked Flamer, Missile pod, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones

(X3) 6 man Fire warrior Team
Devilfish with Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multitracker, Disruption Pod

Hammerhead with Railgun, 2 Burst Cannons, Target Lock, Multitracker, Disruption Pod, black sun filter

Skyray with 2 Burst Cannons, Target Lock, Targeting Array, Multitracker and Disruption Pod, black sun filter

2 man Broadside Team with advanced stabilization
Leader, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones, Bonding Knife

Tau Army Thoughts:
James has played this army quite a few times now and truly loathes it. I expect the Thunderfire Cannon to hammer my Battlesuits. I expect Orbital Bombardment to hammer my Broadsides. I expect him to advanced half his army in Razorbacks while the other half provides supporting fire. It's the way James plays and so long as he doesn't rush me with everything, that's fine, because I can fend of the half of his army which he sends my way. On with the game!

We rolled for counters, getting 3. I placed one in the open, approximately 18" on, slightly to the right of the centre. James placed a counter on the far left, on a hill, on the opposite side of the board. I placed another counter on the far right, out in the open.

James won the roll to go first and deployed his entire army on the side of the table with 2 counters. He placed the Thunderfire Cannon, Chapter Master in razorback with squad and a lascannon squad on the far left flank while 2 lascannon squads occupied a trench behind the rocks in the centre. Meanwhile Razorbacks and the Assault Squad led by the dread Cheese Vicar were ready to rush forward on Turn 1.

I didn't fancy getting blown away on Turn 1, so I deployed just my Tau Broadside team and Hammerhead on the far right, in the corner, so that I would be just out of range of his lascannons while my railguns would be in range! Everything else was in reserve.

James then deployed his Sniper Scouts across the table from my Broadsides on the right flank, in the cover of some woods.

I then rolled to Seize The Initiative and rolled a 6! Okay, that wasn't really supposed to happen.

The Tau Broadsides blew up the Razorback which the Assault squad was hiding behind while the railgun on the Hammerhead missed the other Razorback.

James began his advance. The Assault team jumped and ran behind the woods which were occupied by the Sniper Scouts.

The nearest operational Razorback sped towards the rocks in the centre, meanwhile the space marines from the destroyed Razorback ran alongside it, towards the rocks.

James's fire power could do little this turn, as I'd made sure he would be out of range (heh heh), but the Sniper Scouts unleashed a deadly volley at the Broadside Battlesuit team, scoring a trio of rending hits!

James revelled in his lucky rolling with his trademark "Ooh, that's horrible!" before I proceeded to pass an unhealthy number of armour saves, losing both Shield Drones. Fortunately my brave Broadsides held their ground and passed their pinning test.

Concerned that I might bunch my army together too much and be Orbitally Bombarded into oblivion, I had decided to Deepstrike both of my Tau Battlesuit teams. This reckless tactic would prove to be my undoing as I Deep Striked the twin linked flamer Battlesuit team next to the Sniper Scouts and the Tau Battlesuit command team next to the Razorback which had driven up to the rocks in the centre. I continued to roll for my reserves, rolling a 4+ for EVERY unit in my army. Incredible!

The Tau armada of grav tanks moved on to the board. The ENTIRE army opened fire on the Razorback and the Space Marines which fell out of its burning hatches as it exploded. When the smoke cleared the Razorback was gone, but not a single Space Marine had been slain. I was now very worried and quite sickened at the sheer volume of armour saves James had just passed.

Meanwhile the twin linked flamer Battlesuits engulfed the woods containing the Sniper Scouts in flame, inflicting 20 wounds between them. James rolled for his 4+ armour saves and 3 Scouts died (and as I'm sure you know, statistically all 10 of them should have perished in flame!). With the Assault Squad around the corner, I knew that my Battlesuits were doomed. Their noble sacrifice was to eliminate the Sniper Scouts, but the attack had failed.

After a woefully ineffective turn, it was over to James...

The Sniper Scouts continued to fire at the Broadsides, to no effect.

The Assault Squad led by the Cheese Vicar tore the Tau Battlesuits to peices before finishing them off with strikes from the sergeant armed with a power fist.

Lascannons from the combat squads in the trench and on the hill blew a single burst cannon off the Skyray.

Meanwhile the Thunderfire Cannon unleashed a deadly barrage at the Tau Battlesuit Command Team, causing so many hits that the squad were unable to pass the sheer volume of armour saves and were wiped out.

With his primary targets for Orbital Bombardment eliminated, James fired at the Devilfish parked on an objective and Immobilised it.

The two combat squads which had occupied the rocks in the centre would soon be all over my 1 easy to claim objective and I was determined to wipe them out. The Devilfish moved forward 6" as one and disembarked the Fire Warriors within rapid firing range of the enemy.

Guided by markerlights from the Tau Skyray, the wall of guns opened fire, wiping out 9 of the 10 Space Marines from the two squads. I fired my first Seeker Missile from the Tau Skyray using a remaining markerlight, which killed the 1 remaining space marine.

The Hammerhead fired a Submunition round into the Assault Squad, killing 2 of them.
Meanwhile the Broadside Battlesuits targeted the Thunderfire Cannon on the hill, hoping to eliminate either the Tech Marine or the cannon itself to ensure the safety of the Tau Firewarriors who had disembarked from their transports.

The Tech Marine 'went to ground' and passed his cover save while the Thunderfire Cannon also passed its reguler cover save.

Under fire, James advanced the Assault Squad, led by the Chaplain into the guns of the Tau army while on the left flank, the Chapter Master riding in a Razorback advanced from behind the hill.

While his lascannons proved ineffective this turn, the Sniper Scouts were able to inflict a wound on one of the Tau Firewarrior squads who then failed their pinning test and would be unable to embark in their transport next turn.

With the Assault Squad rapidly closing, no other viable targets in range and an objective to fight for, the Firewarriors re-embarked into their transports and the Tau tank wall moved around to the right, firing everything it had at the approaching Assault Squad and Chaplain. This time James rolled average for his armour saves and the squad was wiped out, leaving just the Chaplain on 1 wound.

This turn James advanced the Razorback with his Chapter Master and a combat squad from behind the hill on the left flank, towards the Tau lines.

On the right flank the Chaplain fired his jump pack and landed safely inside the nearby dug-out before running a further 3 inches.

Lascannon fire from the trench and the hill on the left flank immobilised the Skyray.

The Sniper Scouts fired at the Broadsides, scoring 2 rending hits and inflicting a wound on both of them (thank heavens for 'leader' upgrades to help share the wounds!). Thankfully they passed their pinning test.

Realising that the game could end this turn, I surged my Tau tank armada forward, but it would certainly take another turn for me to reach the objective, but I could fire all my guns at the Sniper Scouts in the woods who were likely to contest the objective in the open. Torrents of smart missiles and a submunition round from the Hammerhead wittled the squad down to just 3 men, but they held their ground thanks to Leadership 10 from the Chapter Master.

The immobilised Skyray turned its turret to target the Chaplain in the dug-out with its markerlights, scoring a hit with both.

I used the first markerlight to improve the Broadsides Ballistic Skill. They both hit, but James passed both of his cover saves.

I fired the smart missiles on the immobilised Tau Devilfish, but it did nothing.

With little else I could do, I used my final markerlight to fire my second ever Seeker Missile, which hit, wounded and killed! I can see myself firing more of these things in the future.

In James's turn, the Chapter Master and combat squad continued to zoom along the left flank, disembarking and firing their plasma gun at the side armour of a Devilfish, immobilising it.

The lascannons in the trench immobilised another Devilfish which had advanced alongside the Hammerhead.

Meanwhile the Thunderfire Cannon wiped out the Tau Firewarriors who had been pinned in the previous turn and still huddled outside their immobilised transport.

On the right flank, the Sniper Scouts ran out from the woods to claim the objective in the open.

We rolled to see if the game continued.
James rolled a 1.
Victory to the Space Marines. 2 objectives to 1.

I haven't played for a while and it really shows in this battle report. Let's put aside the fact that James was OBSCENELY lucky with his armour saves and concentrate on my appalling tactics. James played very well, because his army is incredibly forgiving. Although I would have kept the Assault Squad hidden behind the woods on the right flank, ready to pounce on the objective at Turn 5, rather than risking the Sniper Scouts to do it who are more fragile.

Rolling to 'seize the initiative' was daft on my part as I'd planned for the 1st turn and really snookered myself. I really needed the 2nd turn to objective grab in the dying turns of the game.

Deep Striking the Battlesuits was a bad idea and I should have stuck to hiding them behind my tanks like I usually do.

Yes, Orbital Bombardment is scary. I've had the same experience with Artillery Strikes from the Imperial Guard. I think it's best to just play as you normally would and simply bite the bullet if and when a big explosion lands on you.

Because I Deep Striked my Tau Battlesuits, they weren't ideally placed, left vulnerable to blast weapons for being so tightly packed together and not to mention in clear line of sight!

I also could have used both Battlesuit squads more effectively in eliminating enemy transports.

At times I played too aggressively and other times too cautiously. James's gambit in throwing the Assault Squad forward played beautifully on my fears and I moved the minimum distance forward to shoot at him, when I should have surged forward with my tanks that turn, all guns blazing.

My only 'lucky' moment in the game was my entire army arriving on turn 2, which may have done more harm than good. In hindsight, I could have surprised James and fought for the objective on the left flank, which would have drawn some of his units away at the very least.

I was pleased with my tactical placement of objectives though and it goes to show how you should always do you best to spread objectives around and place them in the open when playing a mechanised Tau army.

I'm looking forward to playing this Space Marine army again. As I always say: "It takes 3 games to defeat an army properly."


eriochrome said...
July 23, 2009 at 1:37 PM  

Couple of Quick Comments:

Space Marines no longer have Rites of Battle(except 1 special character) so unit only get to use the highest leadership of people in the unit. IE the scouts could at best be leadership 9 if their sergeant was still alive (8 otherwise) unless the Chapter Master was attached to the unit.

Orbital Bombardment is a Heavy weapon on a Close Combat oriented character. He cannot move if he fires it. A vehicle he is in cannot have moved for him to use it. The vehicle must have a fire point also so he cannot launch it from inside a Razorback or landraider only a Rhino.

Adam said...
July 23, 2009 at 1:57 PM  

Cheers for that. I will remember this for next time. Do none of my friends actually 'read' their codex? Or perhaps I should be reading theirs...

eriochrome said...
July 23, 2009 at 2:04 PM  

The rites of battle mistake is easy to see if he has been playing dark angels. They still have it. GW just decided to make SM characters all more expensive for less abilities in the new codex to compenstate for all the new toys else were in the book.

Since you have to buy models to use the new toys as opposed to continue beat butts with your old characters it makes wonder.

Admiral Drax said...
July 23, 2009 at 2:18 PM  

It's still nice to trust mates and learn for the next time. God know I make innocent mistakes, and for a long while 73rd was convinced his Deathwing Chaplain was T5!

Thanks so very much for your help, mate, and thanks for this illuminating write-up. Very nicely put together. I'll let you know what progress I make...



Jason said...
July 23, 2009 at 3:22 PM  

Chapter Master with relic blade, storm bolter, hellfire rounds, orbital bombardment

Helfire Rounds only work in a stock standard bolter ( or combi-bolter ), not a storm bolter

Raptor1313 said...
July 23, 2009 at 4:46 PM  

Yeah...the big problem with the whole 'orbital bombardment' is that the Chapter Master has to stand still a turn to call it in.

The Thunderfire Cannon is pretty nasty, though it is NOT durable. A few markerlights to lose the cover save, followed by some S6-7 gunfire. You need only to cause a damaging result on the Cannon's AV10, or to kill the Techmarine to render the cannon useless.

On your end, I'd be glad he didn't trim down the sniper squad for Telion and a missile launcher scout. Telion allocates his own wounds with a bolter that doubles as a 2-shot sniper rifle, and may grant a model in his squad his BS6, making the squad a double-threat for camping.

Past that, I agree that deep striking the suits was iffy. I just don't like deep-striking the suits in a normal game because I (will, when I finish my Tau...) lose turns of shooting doing this, and I just don't like the 50/50 shot of landing on-target deep striking w/in LOS of the Pathfinder Devilfish...

Oh, it's you, Bob... said...
July 23, 2009 at 7:26 PM  

Really only partly related to this, but I was just treated like the 'new kid on the cell block' by Pedro and the boys w/ my Tau. My first thought was, I really need to read that codex. Second thought, and maybe one of you veterans can help this neophyte, but why are the marine scouts a 'scoring unit', but my pathfinders aren't? Sure would have been handy when they came in on an outflank and took that objective if it would have counted for something...

Oh, it's you, Bob... said...
July 23, 2009 at 7:28 PM  

Glad to have you back, btw. :-) Hope your move went without incident.

Mr Salsa said...
July 23, 2009 at 7:53 PM  

I dont get it, you only have 1 troops choice in your tau list correct? Dont you have to have two at least?

manton said...
July 24, 2009 at 2:18 AM  

he had three 6-man units of firewarriors, so three troops choices.
to 'oh it's you bob': pathfinders are fast attack and scouts are troops. that's the rules answer to your question, the fluff answer is no friggin' idea! it really makes no sense that two units with similar kit-out and function be treated completely differently in game terms. I spose kroot fulfill the whole infiltrating, outflanking, good-at-being-in-cover role for troops in the tau 'dex. Good write up adam, sounded like a bit of a nail-biter. but please do yourself a favour and read the marine codex. there's a reason all dark angels players who aren't hardcore started crying when it came out, and that's cos DA players don't get nearly half of the goodies smurfs got.

Kai-Itza said...
July 24, 2009 at 2:34 AM  

@ Mr Salsa,

Adam has 3 minimum sized Fire Warrior squads, that's what the (x3) means on his Tau Army list.

Adam, I think it's mostly bad luck that shaped your game, rather than bad tactical decisions. Your original thoughts of having the Thunderfire Cannon and the Orbital Bombardment had just made you aware that your opponent, James, is gunning directly for the battlesuits and your Devilfish and their preservation, especially in the case of the Devilfish is absolutely essential in Objective-type games.

Deep Striking the Battlesuits was a bad tactical decision and the was I can see it, the only error that you've made in this game.

Go by the motto from my Tau Commander:

"Even through failure, you can still achieve victory"

Consider your mistakes and experience in this game, a well-learned lesson.

Really digging this Blog, Adam, keep it up!


Damon said...
July 24, 2009 at 8:03 AM  

Looking over both army lists, if you hadn't made the mistake of reserving your army and deep-striking your suits -- just deploying normally like you usually would have -- you would have rolled the Marines. His army list is pretty terrible and he didn't play it particularly well, either.

His marines should be toting meltas, not plasma, and they should be mounted up in Rhinos. How else to threaten your suits and armour?

Too many scouts. If he really wants them, he should go with 5, camo cloaks all around, a missile launcher along with those sniper rifles, and Telion. Again, this gives the unit a credible threat against your armour *and* your battlesuits.

Where is this guy's heavy support? He knows exactly what to fear in your army but brings nothing to actually threaten it. The thunderfire is completely useless when compared with other options that he should be taking. Dakka predators would be perfect.

Even better would be MM attack bikes. And yet better still would be MM/HF land speeder spam. He could deep strike them and really give either your suits or your armour serious jitters.

A trio of MM/HF dreads in drop pods would be great, too.

Marines can afford to suicide units like dreads and speeders to your Tau army because you don't have any capability to keep such units at range. Once your armour is slagged he could pick you apart at ease.

And without any kind of mobile terrain -- i.e., Rhinos -- to shield his assault marines, all the points he poured into his "cheese vicar" unit of doom was totally wasted. A mobile Tau army can simply pick it apart. Which is exactly what you did do.

I mention all this so that your games will hopefully become more competitive. ;) If you hadn't been spooked -- and his dice hadn't been ridiculously lucky -- you would have stomped him hard. You're clearly the better player in these matchups.

If your opponents ever do wise up, you'll really want to reconsider your stance on Kroot and piranhas. These are the units that Tau require to keep fast, dangerous units like melta weapons at range. Deploy to create a buffer, create traps to intercept threats, block enemy movement with piranhas and finish off straggling infantry with Kroot+Hounds. Even Marines don't like 100 pts of 10 Kroot + 5 Hounds running at them! ;)

Chernobyl said...
July 24, 2009 at 8:26 PM  

In reply to Bob- It because the president of GW dosn't care about Xenos Gray people.

in truth Tau need a new codex about as bad as dark Eldar and Necrons.

Damon said...
July 25, 2009 at 4:30 AM  

The Tau codex is just fine. It's easily one of the strongest armies. They are nowhere nearly as gimpy as DE or Necrons. And the Inquisition armies are more deserving as well. Tyranids can use a boost, they don't really have an answer for fully mechanized armies -- a common sight in 5th edition --and a new codex could fix that.

Kraggi said...
July 27, 2009 at 4:36 PM  

As a DA player I can fully understand the mistake from the Rites of Battle, however normally i has been me telling my SM opponent he gets the benefit of it... ah well.

I love the report and love the site. While I dont play Tau, two of my main opponents do and it is useful to see what tactics they might use against me.

Keep up the good work!!!

Anonymous said...
August 5, 2009 at 5:40 PM  

DE are a very competitive army, tyranids are one of the best. tau need a new dex, if you dont understand balance, dont post...

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