I am finally starting to get settled into my new area and job, so this last weekend I managed to get a casual game in. My area has no FLGS so we play in our basements and hobby rooms when we can.
This was my first game against my opponent so I had no idea what to expect as far as play style or army or terrain. He usually plays at 2000 points so that is what we went with. He hadn't played Tau since 2nd edition, so we used one of the Tau Battle Missions even though it wasn't really updated for 6th edition.
As always, I write these reports mostly from memory with a few notes that I take after the games are over. I am sure to have gotten some things wrong here and there, maybe got turns mixed up or distances skewed. I don't often take pictures since it is hard to really see what is going on, hence the Chronicler diagrams. Please bear with me, as I am far from a wizard at BC, but the overall flow of the combat and tactics should still be recognizable past the memory and program errors.
- Warlord: Shas'O Burning Eye-D w/ OG, PEN, Iridium, Shield Generator, x1 Shield Drone
- Commander Farsight
- XV8 Team: Raven, x2 Burning Eye-D w/ ATS (I call this the Executioner when combined with my Shas'O)
- XV8 Team: Shas'Vre Deathrain-D, x2 Deathrain-D
- Stealth Team: Shas'Vre w/ Markerlight &TL, x5 Stealth Suits (all burst cannons), x2 Marker Drones
- 2 Piranhas w/ Fusion Blasters
- Pathfinder Team: Shas'ui, x7 Pathfinders (no special weapons)
- 12 Firewarriors w/ Pulse Rifles in Devilfish (DPod, SMS)
- 6 Firewarriors w/ Pulse Carbines in Devilfish (DPod, SMS)
- Skyray (Dpod, SMS)
- Hammerhead w/ Ion Cannon (Dpod, SMS, BSF)
- Longstrike Hammerhead w/ Railgun (Submunition Rounds, Dpod, SMS)
Chaos Space Marines
- Warlord: Huron Blackheart (accompanying CSM 1)
- CSM 1: 9 models. Champion w/ power weapon, 2 plasma guns, banner that grants Fearless
- CSM 2: 20 models. Champion w/ lightning claw, 2 melta guns, banner that grants Fearless
- CSM 3: 20 models. Champion w/ lightning claw, 2 melta guns, banner that grants Fearless
- Land Raider: (dedicated transport for CSM 1) w/ 2x Twin-linked Lascannons, Twin-linked Heavy Bolter, dozer blades, smoke launchers
- Forgefiend w/ 2 Hades Autocannons
- Forgefiend w/ 2 Hades Autocannons
- Hellbrute w/ Multi-melta
- Hellbrute w/ Multi-Melta
- Terminators: 3 models w/combi-plasma
I had to put everything on the table, and I didn't have any idea what he was going to throw at me (I didn't even ask to see his list) so I just deployed my pathfinders centrally with my valuable suits in the backfield shielded by the tanks. It was a raw deal since none of my vehicles would get jink saves and he could walk on anywhere on the board to get best line of sight. However, it is a little exciting in that way, not knowing what is going to appear across the board from you.
CSM Turn 1
He brough all of his vehicles on but no infantry. Once on, the shooting started. At the time, he had thought that a Land Raider was a "heavy vehicle" as I would have thought as well, so that is how we played it at first. So it fired at full BS with all its weapons for the first two turns.
Tau Turn 1
I started by shuffling my vehicles to better utilize the ruins for cover and get my jink saves. The left flank Piranhas and Devilfish moved forward, and the crisis suits got into position to try and shoot some vehicles.
CSM Turn 2
Tau Turn 2
Things were not looking good for me, since I'd lost the majority of my firepower and I had a LOT of things to deal with. I shuffled my skyray and devilfish again, moved my Stealth team up (losing a Marker Drone to dangerous terrain), and moved my other Devilfish towards the final objective. I also jumped my Stealth Suits towards his CSM squad to try and slow their advance. I moved my Skyray up provide cover for my last Devilfish as it moved next to the central objective.
CSM Turn 3
His Hellbrutes targeted my Devilfish, exploding it and killing one Firewarrior. The remaining warriors disembarked into the nearby ruins but I forgot to check if they were pinned. The CSM fired on my Stealth Team in the crater, killing another 2 Shas'ui. The Forgefiend and Land Raider targeted my Skyray and Devilfish, stripping a hull point from each and Shaking the Devilfish.
Tau Turn 3
That land raider was now moving a lot faster than I had planned, since it wasn't a Heavy vehicle. So I blocked its advance with the Skyray. Hopefully that would buy me a little more time from whatever was inside. I moved my Devilfish onto the objective and unloaded my Firewarriors into the ruins, forming a makeshift castle out of the building and Longstrike's wreck. The Stealths jumped forward to shoot up some CSM again. My crisis suits all got into firing positions.
My Executioner unit targeted the Forgefiend, but the Skyray and Devilfish blocked some line of sight and no damage was inflicted. Farsight and the Deathrain-D fired at the wounded Hellbrute and did nothing. My pathfinders marked the CSM squad for my infantry to fire at. The Stealths and the pulse rifle Firewarriors killed about 7 of them but they still had the Fearless banner.
I repositioned my suits and hunkered down.
CSM Turn 4
His last unit of CSM automatically came on and he walked it straight up behind the other unit. For this turn, Huron's unit gained Feel No Pain.
He knew he had to get his land raider up to me, so he moved his Forgefiend back to make room and the land raider turned to move around the Skyray. It passed through the Forgefiend wreck and rolled a 1 and then a 1 for dangerous terrain, immobilized! It didn't matter though, it had done its job. He disembarked the contents another 6" from his assault hatch, only a couple inches from my makeshift castle. The squad of CSM, now down to about 6 or 7 models moved up to within a few inches of the objective.
The new CSM blob rolled 1" to run. The remaining CSM shot at my Stealth suits killing all but two. They failed their leadership and fell back next to the Devilfish. His Forgefiend shot at the rear of my Skyray and missed all but one shot, which was blocked by its cover save. The Land Raider fired across the board at my Firewarriors with carbines and killed two. They failed their leadership check by one and fell back through the ruins 5". The two hellbrutes fired at my last Devilfish and wrecked it. Finally, he opened fire with his disembarked unit. He had placed Huron at the back to avoid Overwatch fire, but that meant he couldn't use the heavy flamer. His unit fired their pistols at my Firewarriors, but they went to ground and gained Stealth thanks to their Defensive Grenades for a 2+ cover save. This is the first time I was actually able to use photon grenades to full effect. I lost a single Firewarrior to shooting.
He multi-charged my Pathfinders and Firewarriors since he wasn't going to get the extra attack anyways. In overwatch I inflicted 4 unsaved wounds but he saved two of them with his Feel No Pain. His champion challenged my pathfinder Shas'ui and killed him easily. 6 of the Firewarriors were killed and I inflicted no wounds in return. The Firewarriors and Pathfinders both fled (needed double 1's) and his unit ran down my remaining Firewarriors.
Tau Turn 4
I was losing units fast and I didn't have much left to work with, but I was enjoying the game quite a bit. The casualties were pretty one-sided but I had every chance of forcing a draw or even eking out a win. I still had both of my HQ, my Executioner unit, and a very small scoring unit.
My pathfinders failed to rally and fled off the board but my Stealth Suits and Firewarriors both rallied and moved back towards the marines sitting near the objective. My Executioner squad and Farsight+Deathrain positioned themselves to charge Huron's unit. He'd never seen this unit before, nor anything like it I imagine, so he hadn't targeted them all game and they were at full strength.
Farsight and the Deathrain-D fired and killed the Champion, probably in the act of sticking the pathfinder Shas'ui's head on his backpack spike. My Skyray pivoted and unloaded into the back of the marine carrying the Fearless banner but he passed all 3 armour saves. I did, however, land a markerlight hit. My carbine Firewarriors and the Stealth team combined fire and managed to bring the CSM unit on the objective down to 5 models. My Executioner unit used the Markerlight hit and fired last, wiping his entire CSM unit from the board in one go (10 wounds, AP2, no cover saves) and wounded Huron in the process, despite the Feel No Pain. He couldn't believe it.
I charged Farsight into combat. He took a wound in overwatch but his armour blocked it. He challenged Huron to solo combat, blocked Huron's attack with his Shield Generator, and then hacked him to pieces. He consolidated into the ruins to maintain cover. The Executioner unit moved into the ruins to stage their advance next turn. My Stealth suits repositioned themselves between Farsight and the Hellbrutes, shielding him from counter assault and maintaining 6" distance from all of my battlesuit units.
CSM Turn 5
His CSM blob moved up, and ran another 4". His Hellbrutes shuffled around a bit, trying to stay out of the difficult terrain. The small CSM squad held its ground by the objective.
His objective holders only had pistols left, so they couldn't target anything. His Hellbrutes missed their shots and his Land Raider's shots were blocked by cover saves all around. His Forgefiend finished off my Skyray, but only managed to wreck it, so it still provided blocking terrain.
His Hellbrute attempted to assault my Stealth team, but failed his charge into cover. The combined overwatch fire from the nearby battlesuits immobilized it. My opponent was starting to see a pattern in my overwatch.
Tau Turn 5
I moved everything I had, except my Firewarriors, towards the objective. I was assuming that the game would go into turn 6, and I didn't want them stranded in the open, however, in hindsight I probably should have moved them up to help distract his units.
My Stealth Team killed one marine on the objective and my Executioner squad removed the rest. Farsight and his Deathrain companion fired at the Hellbrute still capable of moving but did nothing.
For my thrust moves, I positioned my Stealth team and my Executioner squad between his CSM blob and the objective. Farsight charged the Hellbrute and butchered it in close combat, but unfortunately lost his Deathrain friend to miraculous Overwatch fire. Incredibly, the Hellbrute did not explode (4 AP2 penetrating hits...) and Farsight consolidated to help screen the objective.
CSM Turn 6
He charged in, losing only one marine to Overwatch fire (from Farsight). Here we made another mistake, since he multi-charged and wasn't supposed to get an extra attack for the charge, but he attacked with 3 attacks each. His champ challenged Farsight, and since I was not familiar with close combat, I assumed that Farsight had to accept, otherwise I would have accepted with my Shas'O. Farsight killed the champion instantly but I lost both of my Stealth suits and my Shas'O blocked all the other attacks. I lost the combat 2-1, but my units didn't flee. I had the option of using Hit-and-Run to disengage and shoot his unit before charging again, but I decided I'd rather not risk the Overwatch fire. In hindsight, I probably should have. I could have joined the two units, or just jumped Farsight out before jumping back in again to get that extra attack, who knows? Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.
Tau Turn 6
With no units left, all I could do is run my 3 firewarriors up to help with the combat and maybe, just maybe, capture the objective if I won the combat and swept him. I was Initiative 5 after all.
- It occurred to me partway through that the mission might be intended to give the enemy an advantage against a Tau army forced to remain static and defend its territory and go 2nd. The mission, my abysmal 1st turn of shooting, and his above average 1st & 2nd turns of shooting really set me at a disadvantage early.
- Since it was our first game we were both learning about each other, so we both had some surprises and made mistakes. Personally, I think that losing my piranhas to a Hellbrute charging through a solid building wall was the worst mistake that had the biggest impact on the game.
- The last combat was a nightmare, with many different units, initiative steps, statlines, etc. It became really hard to keep track and I missed out on a couple advantages (like majority toughnesss, or my Shas'O being able to accept the challenge in Farsight's place). However, I am wiser for having been through it and next time will be different.
- His army wasn't optimized and he didn't really take much advantage of Huron. It's possible he was intentionally leaving out his better units (aka Helldrake) for our first game. He is not a rules lawyer and plays a sort of hybrid 4th/5th/6th edition rules when it comes to terrain and cover. He's not really a fan of 6th edition. Learning how to play with someone is just as important as learning the rules.
What I liked
- Farsight: I was hesitant to take him, but I'd just finished the conversion and it looked so darn cool. Turns out he provided just that little bit of close combat proficiency that I needed to get in there and stand toe-to-toe with CSM in close combat. Granted, he never had to go up against Abaddon or Kharn, but Huron is no slouch, and neither were those squad champions (and he killed two!)
- Carbines. In this particular game, 15" was too short to engage the CSM at rapid-fire range, plus they are so cool looking. I don't think I'll ever stop running this little commando unit. And they once again survived to the end of the game, I don't think I've ever actually lost them completely, and they are always there to try and do that late game contest
- Skyray: even after losing All my anti-tank in one turn, and no Helldrakes to target, it killed a Forgefiend (much more than its points) and blocked the Land Raider's advance. Had I positioned my Skyray better, I might have even postponed his attack another turn. Though had I done that, I wouldn't have been free to contest the other objective, so it ended up ok anyways.
- Executioner: I say this every game, but this unit is my favorite. Early game it may not impress, especially against CSM which have a TON of AV12+, but it really shines once you put just about any type of unit within 18" of it.
- Stealth Suits: considered a "bad pick" by many Tau players, and maybe they are right, but they soaked up a disproportionate amount of fire, in just about every turn of the game, and still survived to help contest the final objective. They killed quite a few Marines too.
What Didn't Impress me
- Deathrains: Maybe it's just me, but my Deathrains never really do anything. This game, they managed to strip a single hull point off of an AV12 model, and kill two terminators by luck (and that was only after two of the team members were killed). To be fair, the last suit took a Melta shot in the face for Farsight, which is pretty heroic, if unskilled.
- Pathfinders: They got ignored mostly, allowing them to use their Markerlights to full effect every turn, even landing some on Overwatch to help my Firewarriors gun down some CSM. But I'm not entirely sold on them. Did I need those markers? Could I have done better with more Firewarriors? We'll see. I'll perhaps give them another shot, but if there'd been a helldrake in this game, they would have been dead instantly.
- Stealth Marker Team: This was a fun unit in 5th, but now that I've tried it in 6th, I never will again. It didn't land a single marker hit and those ablative wounds could have just been gun drones helping out with the shooting.