Battle Report: Tau vs. Astra Militarum

May 14, 2014 ·

I got another game in a couple weekends ago against the new and improved Astra Militarum. I didn't have much experience with them before the new codex, but it looks like I'll be seeing them fairly often in my new gaming group. Let's see how my Tau measure up to the Imperial grunts.

A quick note about my Batrep program. Sometimes it is tricky to use and things get mixed up. Sometimes it will look like a vehicle is moving farther than it should, and sometimes I miss other things. The images are intended to give you an overall feel for how the game was going and the positioning of the units. Given time I could make them very accurate, but the payoff is too weak to invest the time necessary. Apologies.

The Armies


I came unprepared that weekend without a preset 1500 point list. I spent about 10 minutes throwing some of my standard units into a list and then making room for my XV9's. I wanted to give them a try, so I decided to see how they'd do when combined with Farsight.
  • Warlord: Commander Farsight
  • Shas'O Burning Eye-D w/ OG, PEN, Iridium, 
  • 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, x2 Deathrain 
  • XV9Team: 2x Shas'el w/ Fusion Cascades, x1 Shield Drone (accompanying Farsight)
  • 6 Firewarriors w/ Pulse Rifles in a Warfish* (DPod)
  • 6 EMP Grenadiers** w/ Pulse Carbines in Warfish (DPod)
  • Skyray (Dpod, BSF, SMS)
  • Longstrike Hammerhead w/ Railgun (Submunition Rounds, Dpod, SMS)
*A "Warfish" is a Devilfish equipped with a Smart Missile System
**"EMP Grenadiers" are Firewarriors equipped with EMP Grenades (Pathfinders similarly equipped are known as EMP Commandos)

Astra Militarum

I'd never played him before, but this was his pretty standard 1500 point list under the new codex. It was almost entirely Mechanized but relied on him getting the right warlord trait to be really devastating. 
  • Warlord: Tank commander in a Punisher with a standard Leman Russ squadmate
  • Company Command Squad with 4 flamers in a Chimera 
  • Primaris Psyker 
  • Comissar
  • Vets 1: 10 models. 4 meltaguns and a Veteran Sergeant in a Chimera
  • Vets 2: 10 models. 4 plasmaguns and a Veteran Sergeant in a Chimera
  • Platoon command squad 
  • 4 Infantry Squads combined into one unit (Commissar and Primaris joined this unit)
  • Leman Russ Vanquisher with hullmount lascannon
  • 2 Hellhounds

The Setup

Scenario: The Scouring
Warlord Traits: Farsight got his automatic trait, and the Tank Commander got the trait my opponent was hoping for: D3 Outflanking units. He then promptly rolled a 5, giving him 3 Outflanking units!!
Psychic Powers: The Primaris was the only psyker in the game, and he took the primaris power, Prescience (go figure)
Deployment: Vanguard Strike
Objectives: Mostly distributed evenly over the board, near terrain pieces. (represented by red X's)
Night Fight: First turn Night Fight


I won the roll off and decided to deploy first. I didn't have very many units so I wouldn't be able to play a reactionary game, plus I needed to draw out his vehicles to get shots on rear and side armour, and if he deployed defensively I might have trouble cracking them. I chose the side with the most LOS blocking terrain, mainly so that he couldn't make use of it. I'd only had a few units capable of killing his tanks, but I'd need rear armour shots, so I put my XV-9's and my Executioner unit in reserve to Deep Strike. I reserved both my firewarrior teams since they'd be useless on the first turn anyways and maybe I could respond to how he went for objectives.
He deployed pretty normally, with a strong core of vehicles farther back ready to sweep around my flank, and his Warlord's tank unit across from me as his main attack unit. His huge infantry blob, his Vanquisher, and his Meltavets were all Outflanking. No doubt intended to come on wherever they needed to get side or rear armour shots on my tanks.

 Turn 1

Tau Turn 1
All my units on the board ignored Night fight. The Deathrains jumped into the bunker to get a good line of sight on his AV12 parking lot. The skyray jinked but I saved his missiles, hoping that I could get some better angles later.
My Deathrains stripped two hull points off of a Hellhound and Immobilized it but I forgot to shoot with Longstrike! I rolled afterwards and, had I remembered, would've killed his warlord immediately...I also forgot to thrust move my Deathrains back behind the bunker to stay out of Line of Sight. A pretty horrible first turn. You'd think that with only 3 units on the board I'd remember to use them correctly.
AM turn 1
He moved up his tanks, making a move for the objective directly across from him. The Leman Russes moved toward my Deathrains.
The Russes wiped out my Deathrains for First Blood. Since I'm used to ignoring Night Fight I didn't remember that they had Stealth. I also neglected to Go to Ground for a 2+ cover save. Even so, he fired enough shots that I may have been dead anyways. What really would have saved them would be if I'd remembered to Thrust back out of sight. Afterwards he used an order for popping smoke after shooting. Nothing else had range or strength to hurt my vehicles.

Turn 2

Tau Turn 2
I rolled for my reserves, and of my 4 units only Farsight with the XV9's arrived! This game was having a rough start to be sure. I decided that I would target his Warlord's unit. They would give me the most trouble after Longstrike inevitably died, and I needed to make the most of this drop, since they'd likely be dead next turn.
The Skyray stood still in order to shoot both markerlights at his Russes, but only hit with one. I was hoping to strip his cover, but increased BS would have to do. My XV9's exploded both tanks. He forgot that the tanks had used their smoke launchers, which was lucky for me since he appeared to be very good at making saves this game. Longstrike had no decent targets so he fired at the immobilized Hellhound. Penetrating hit, but he made his cover save, darn.
I jumped the XV9's up into the emplacement on his side of the board. I positioned Farsight and the shield drone in the front to give the unit some invulnerable saves against his Hellhound (in my mind, the Hellhound's weapon was AP3 like a Hellturkey's).
AM Turn 2
He rolled for his reserves and all three of his Ouflankers came on. Le Sigh...Here is where we made an error. Vanguard Strike confused us about which edges were used for Outflanking. He thought that it meant he could use the long board edges, and I couldn't remember anyways, so I went with it. After the rolling, his Meltavets popped up right behind my Skyray and his Vanquisher came on with a sideview of Longstrike. His infantry blob walked on ready to gun down the only thing on the board their las-weapons could hurt. The mobile Hellhound and Chimera advanced again, right up to the objective. If he had a good shooting phase he could table me on turn 2.
The Vanquisher, with surprising accuracy, fired and hit with both weapons against Longstrike. The primary weapon penetrated but Longstrike made his jink save. The Skyray was not so lucky, as it hadn't jinked in the previous turn, and exploded from Meltavet/Chimera fire. The infantry blob fired something like 110 twin-linked las shots at Farsight's unit (Prescience plus the FirstRankFire,SecondRankFire order, plus RapidFire range). After about 15 straight minutes of rolling, re-rolling, then rolling and re-rolling again and again and again, I'd lost both XV9's but nothing else. Once again, I failed to do the smart thing and Go To Ground for a 2+ cover save, as I would've had Stealth from my XV9's defensive grenades. Even so, then Farsight would have been a sitting duck next turn. He fired everything else that had range at Farsight and his drone, killing the drone and reducing him to one wound (Farsight didn't make a single save). 
All I had left was a badly wounded Farsight, alone and surrounded, and Longstrike caught between a Vanquisher Battlecannon and a bunch of Meltaguns. And it was only the bottom of turn 2!!! I'd never been this badly outmatched before, so it was a good experience for me.

Turn 3

Tau Turn 3
I rolled for my reserves and everything else came on (Finally, a little bit of love from the dice gods) I landed my Executioner team with side views of his immobile Hellhound and Chimera. Farsight jumped down and set up for assaulting the Hellhound from behind. My Warfishes moved on to counter his Veterans, disembarking their Firewarriors and getting side/rear armour shots on his vehicles. Longstrike moved back to get hard cover from his Vanquisher.
My Firewarriors and Warfishes opened fire on the back of his Hellhound, wrecking it. The EMP Grenadiers fired on the Chimera (didn't have range for a grenade throw) and stripped a hull point. Farsight shot the Hellhound, wrecking it before he had a chance to charge it, oh well. The Executioner unit exploded the Chimera containing his Company Command Squad, killing one of the Flamer units in the process. Longstrike fired on the last Chimera, penetrated but rolled 1 for damage. NOOOOO! DYL.
Farsight rolled well for his thrust move and moved to hide behind my Shas'O and his unit, but he'd have to wait another turn before joining (IC's can only join units during the Movement phase).
All in all, not a bad turn except for Longstrike's signature failure. I'd killed 3 vehicles and hurt two more, and mostly with weapons not intended for destroying tanks.

AM Turn 3
 Unphased by the loss of so many vehicles, he disembarked all of his Vets to attack my Firewarriors. The Infantry blob moved to attack my suits (intentionally positioned >18" away) and his Co. Command Squad got ready to charge.
The Vanquisher didn't actually move this turn, that is my error. It stayed put and hit Longstrike with Both weapons Again (so far this BS3 tank had hit more times that Longstrike had in any game I'd played so far. Looks like somebody is overpaid...) The main gun penetrated again, and I failed my 3+ cover save. Longstrike blew up in a spectacular explosion. His command squad fired flamers at Farsight and the Executioner, but he only wounded once or twice and I saved both. The infantry blob used its order+psychic shenanigans to shoot my Executioner unit with over 70 twin-linked lasgun shots. My Shas'O took every single shot and survived with 1 wound. Stimridium FTW.
He charged my Shas'O's unit with his command squad. I rolled very well for my Overwatch, killing two guardsmen. Then, in combat, he challenged my with his commander. I accepted with my Raven (Shas'vre) but they both failed to wound eachother. The rest of the Executioner killed the lone guardsman, winning me the combat. His senior officer passed his leadership check and stayed locked in combat. The plasmavets that disembarked charged my Firewarriors holding the objective. It had been so long since they'd disembarked we'd forgotten it was this turn and that they couldn't actually charge. No matter, my combined Overwatch killed 4 guardsmen. In combat, he failed all his attacks, I killed one of his, and he failed his leadership check. He fell back since I failed to sweep him.

Turn 4

Tau Turn 4
 I moved my EMP Grenadiers up to shoot his Chimera's side armour and the Warfishes moved up to block his approaching Meltavets.
My Firewarriors wiped out the fleeing Plasmavets. My EMP Grenadiers stripped another hull point from the Chimera (the grenade throw missed) and my Warfishes killed a few of his Meltavets (luckily he'd put his Meltaguns out front, so they were the first to go).
Farsight jumped into the Melee, hoping to find some cover from the mass of lasguns nearby. The EMP Grenadiers charged his Chimera (a surprise, since they weren't used to seeing Tau with assault weapons) and easily stripped another 3 hull points, wrecking it with no explosions. I challenged his commander with my Raven again, hoping to tie up the combat through my turn. I figured he might get lucky and wound him once, but I was really hoping for a repeat of last turn. However, luck was on his side, and he landed two wounds with his Power Sword, killing the Raven outright. In addition, my Shas'O failed his leadership check and fled the combat, exposing his unit to enemy fire!!! Farsight stayed locked in combat and prevented a catastrophic sweeping advance, what a trooper.
AM Turn 4
 Sensing they were outmatched, the Meltavets re-embarked on their Chimera and moved for a different objective. His Vanquisher and infantry positioned to shoot up my Executioner unit.
He killed my Shas'O with the Vanquisher cannon, once again accurately hitting the battlesuit from across the entire battlefield. With the Shas'O gone, the rest of the squad fell easily to the storm of lasgun fire.
Farsight attacked the senior officer, but the officer made an invulnerable save and lost one wound. In return he wounded Farsight, who failed his Better invulnerable save and died. All that dancing and character shenanigans for nothing, he was still dead.

Turn 5

Tau Turn 5
I had basically nothing left with any teeth. If the game went on to turn 6, and I got very very lucky, I might be able to deny him one of the objectives, but I wasn't really expecting it. So I quickly moved my EMP Grenadiers within range of his platoon command squad, to try and net them some more kills. The Warfishes strafed sideways to get sidearmour shots on the chimera.
Even so, I was only able to strip another hull point with the combined SMS fire from both vehicles. My EMP Grenadiers wiped the platoon command squad out but they were left stranded in the open.
AM Turn 5
He disembarked his veterans to claim the objective by the tower, but otherwise made no moves. His infantry blob wiped out the EMP Grenadiers with ease. He would've targeted the Firewarriors, but he had no range and couldn't leave his own objective.
I rolled for game continuation and the game ended on a 1.


In terms of remaining units, I had almost nothing left. Even so, considering that some my most expensive units inflicted the least amount of damage, I was impressed with how much damage I was able to inflict with the ones that performed. In my mind, the only units that earned their keep were my Firewarriors/Grenadiers, Warfishes, and the XV9's.
  • Astra Militarum: Linebreaker, Kill the Warlord, First Blood, 2 primary objectives, 1 Fast Attack kill
  • Tau Empire: Kill the Warlord, 1 primary objective, 2 Fast Attack kills
10-6 Defeat!

Final Thoughts

This was definitely not the best game for either of us; both of us missed important rules or opportunities that potentially could have changed the game. Sadly, that is just going to happen a lot of the time, especially when you play as infrequently as I do. I think that luck played a big factor in the initial flow of the game, and set me back early. However, I'm sure I'd have a hard time of it even if he'd only got two Outflankers and I'd gotten my Executioner unit on turn 2. 
  • Astra Militarum: I'm not sure how they were before, but I like that they are capable of spamming vehicles and lasguns. Those Primaris Psykers are a problem though. Spamming lasguns is one thing, making them all Twin-Linked is just insane. However, with the rumors I've been seeing for 7th edition, they may not be as reliable in the next edition of rules.
  • Combat: each game I get a little bit better about understanding the nuances of combat. Playing Farsight has forced me to do this and it is a good thing. Tau commanders should avoid combat, but not be ignorant of it.
  • Farsight: still getting to know him. I refuse to run him in a Deathstar, but he works just fine as a tankhunter. Perhaps in the future I won't make him my Warlord so that he won't attract quite so much attention.
  • XV9's: these guys are very expensive and they were forced into a suicide situation due to the Reserves SNAFU. However, I was still pleased with them. They easily killed their own points value in tanks, and they took a massive amount of lasgun fire (T5 is a better defense then you'd initially think)
  • Executioner: markedly less effective against Astra Militarum. I've seen this before but I was strapped for time and decided to see how they'd do. Unfortunately they never got a chance to try and snipe out those nasty characters. They killed almost nothing before getting tied up by a small command unit and killed by massed lasgun fire. I'll take them every time in my TAC lists, but if I know I'm playing AM I may swap them out for something else.
  • Longstrike: this guy...even against his Preferred Enemy all he managed to do was stun a Chimera for a turn. Another game like this and I may have to leave him out of my lists altogether. I do believe that he's only killed one Predator tank in the entire time I've used him, and the Predator would have diedwithout the Longstrike upgrade...
Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions. I'm always open to critique or suggestions. I hope this will help other Tau commanders prepare for the new Astra Militarum. Thanks for reading!



TheGraveMind said...
May 14, 2014 at 8:54 PM  

I still say longstrike is better on an ionhead. The multiple shots benefit from him more and S7 with tank hunter still threatens light tanks well enough. Probably should have been shooting his blast at the blob squad to dwindle him down given the chance.

Skyler Hoeft said...
May 31, 2014 at 7:02 AM  

Indeed, though with the new rules for vehicles I'm not sure I'll be taking LS again. I might take HH's for their blast weapons, but not for vehicle hunting.

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