Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mission Accomplished!!! All Is Ready For Valhalla!

Well, almost everything...  I have one Herald of Nurgle that I need to finish the basing, but I loaned it to my friend John to use at both DuelCon and Feast of Blades, and he lives in Albuquerque, and I live near Phoenix, so I might not be able to get that basing done until we see each other at Valhalla next week.

Otherwise, here's a couple of wide shot of everything that I got painted in the last 6.5 months, with a few exceptions, which I'll explain in a minute:

I need to do a more thorough post on everything that I was able to accomplish in the past 6+ months, but I wanted to get this post up ASAP, as I'll be leaving for Valhalla this coming Sunday, and between work, family and getting ready to go to Utah, I might not have time to do the subject justice (or at least the way I want to).

What's missing in the group in the above shots is one unit of 10 Plaguebearers, which I also loaned to John (they're finished), and the Herald of Nurgle I mentioned above.  What's in those pictures includes some things that either I had painted much earlier in my career, such as 3 Obliterators (Night Lords), and a single, 2nd Edition Chaos Autocannon Havoc plus two Night Lords Aspiring Champions to use with my two squads of Autocannon Havocs.

Also included in the group of models in the pictures above are some models that were part of my "Guest Artist Series" of Heralds of Nurgle that were painted by friends of mine, including Epidemius, a unit of 25 Plague Zombies (the large unit on the far left, which I built by kit-bashing the Cadian Shock Troops kit with the Fantasy Zombies kit) which my friend Aaron painted for me, and Typhus, which was also painted by Aaron.  Otherwise, everything else was painted by me during the time of writing for this blog.

The last thing that I was able to finish was painting/basing a Battle Foam X-Board display tray in a manner that would work for both my Nurgle forces and my Night Lords that are providing Heavy Support:  Prior to that, and after I'd finished the second Plague Hulk, I was able to get the edge highlighting done on both of my Heldrakes.  These two tasks, the edge highlighting of the Heldrakes and the purchase and painting/basing of the display board, were the last stretch goals that I was able to achieve, and marked the end of my preparations for Valhalla this year.  I finished the display board this past Tuesday, October 15th.

And here's how my "standard" 2,000 point list of CSMs (Death Guard and Night Lords) with Nurgle Daemon Allies looks on the board:

The display board was John's idea.  He's got one, too, and the plan is to avoid having to pack up after each game and then unpack again for the next game every day; instead, I'll probably be running the same list(s), or variations of them, most of the time, so I can just put the models onto the display board after a game, set it on a side table, go grab lunch or dinner, then come back and get my next game in, retrieving the display board (and my army) from the side table.  It will save a lot of time!

Sorry I don't have time to write more as a summary of all of my efforts, or include more of the pictures of the entire group of both CSMs and Daemons in this post.  I will do that as soon as I'm able, but for now, I just wanted to let you all know that I'm DONE with all my modeling, converting and painting, and ready to head North to Valhalla!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Second Plague Hulk Completed!

Hey, Folks.

Sorry it's take me so long to report this, but I finally got the second (and last) Plague Hulk (which I will be using as a Soul Grinder) completed back on Wednesday, October 2nd.  I actually got him assembled and mostly finished on Tuesday, September 24th, but wasn't able to get any hobby time in after that due to attending all of my daughter's performances of an adaptation of Hamlet, in which she played Ophelia.  (Let me tell you, she does "crazy" really well!).  So it wasn't until October 2nd that I was able to finish all the edge highlighting on the legs and snap a few pictures, and then work got in the way and it wasn't until last night that I was able to set up both Plague Hulks together and snap a few pictures of them so I could put up this post.

So, without further ado, Plague Hulk #2, affectionately known as "Lefty", because his left claw still moves:

It only took me 26 hours to complete Lefty, compared to the 40 hours it took me to get the first Plague Hulk, "Righty", finished up.  I think the difference was that with Righty, I didn't know what I'd be doing in terms of painting him, whereas with Lefty I knew just what I was going to do and just had to bang him out;  also, when I did Righty I painted up both sword hands, including fixing the one I broke trying to bend the resin straight, so that added some time to how long it took to get Righty finished.

So, all told, it took me 66 hours to paint and magnetize both Plague Hulks.  Here they are together:

I can't wait to get them on the tabletop and into a game!

And with that, all I had left to do was base all 5 of the Heralds of Nurgle, and do the edge highlighting on the two Heldrakes, and I could call it good.

I got the bases done on 4 of the 5 Heralds finished up last night (more work and family stuff causing me some delays in getting hobby time in), but I had loaned the 5th Herald to a friend of mine (along with 10 of my Plaguebearers) to use at DuelCon and Feast of Blades.  So, I won't see Herald #5 until we both get to Valhalla, and then I'll need to get him based PDQ.  Once I have all 5 Heralds finished, I'll put up a post about them, as they were painted by my "Guest Artists" series of painters, each one done by a different friend, in very different styles.  (All but 2 of them are different models, too; I have Epidemius, which I can use either as himself or just a Herald on a palanquin, but in those games when I don't want to have either and still want to have 4 Heralds to run with my 4 squads of Plaguebearers, I got a second one of the new GW plastic Herald of Nurgle that came out when the Daemons codex hit this past February, so I can run that one as an alternate.)

Also last night, I was able to get the edge highlighting done on one of my two Heldrakes, and expect that I'll be able to get the second one finished tonight.  So I will try to get updated pictures of both of those up as soon as possible.

In the meantime, please take a moment to comment on these two Plague Hulks, and let us all know what you think!

Chaos vs Tau Battle Report #2

Hey, Folks.

Here’s another battle report of another game against Tau, this time with a different opponent, my friend James Conley.  James has been playing a lot of games with his Tau since the new codex came out, and I think he played them quite a bit before that; in other words, Tau are not a new army to him.  He had a very different lineup from what Josh threw at me about a week prior, which I knew was going to happen, which is also what I wanted to have happen as I’m trying to get in as many games against different opponents, armies and builds as possible before heading off to Valhalla (in less than two weeks!!!).  I, on the other hand, used the same list as I did against Josh, but I’ll repeat it here.

(Unlike last battle report, this time I took pictures.  They’re a bit fuzzy here and there, since it was just my old iPhone 3GS, which doesn’t have great focusing software, but they should give you and idea of how the battlefield looked at the start of each turn.  You’ll find those below nestled in with the narrative of the battle.)

Here’s the lineup:

Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
Chaos Space Maries w/ Chaos Daemon Allies
The Tau Empire
1,850 Points

Chaos Space Marines and Daemons:
Primary Detachment:
  • Jon’Ker De’Bloath, Chaos Lord on Bike with Mark of Nurgle, Sigil of Corruption, The Burning Brand of Skalathrax, The Black Mace, Blight Grenades, Melta Bombs, Gift of Mutation. – 220 Points.
  • 4 Chaos Spawn with the Mark of Nurgle – 144 Points.
  • 7 Plague Marines with 2 Plasma Guns – 198 Points.
  • 7 Plague Marines with 2 Plasma Guns – 198 Points.
  • 2 Heldrakes with Baleflamers – 2 X 170 = 340 Points.
  • 5 CSM Havocs with Mark of Nurgle and 4 Autocannon – 130 Points.
  • 2 CSM Obliterators with Mark of Nurgle – 152 Points.
  • Great Unclean One, Psyker Level 3, 1 Greater Daemonic Reward, 1 Exalted Daemonic Reward – 290 Points.
  • 10 Plaguebearers of Nurgle – 90 Points.
  • 10 Plaguebearers of Nurgle – 90 Points.
  • Total = 1,852 Points.

Tau Empire (to the best of my recollection, and without unit points costs):
Primary Detachment:
  • Commander Farsight.
  • Farsight’s “Gang of 7”, mostly kitted out with double plasma, plus a fusion gun, and one guy had no weapons, just the Command and Control Node so that everyone else could ignore cover; plus 6 shield drones.
  • Crisis Suit Commander with missiles, plasma and 8 Marker Drones.
  • 12 Firewarriers with Shas’ui and Marker Drone.
  • 12 Firewarriers with Shas’ui and Marker Drone.
  • 12 Firewarriers with Shas’ui and Marker Drone.
  • 7 Pathfinders with Marker Lights.
  • 3 Crisis Suits with plasma and missiles, plus 3 Shield Drones.
  • 2 Broadsides with all the missle goodness and Sky Fire.
  • None.
  • Total = ~1,850 Points.  (I didn’t see James’ list, but I trust him.)

James had a lot of points tied up with Farsight and his Gang.  It would be the first time I faced such a list, so it promised to be interesting.

I should note here that this was not a campaign game, so my Nurgle Biker Lord did not have all the nice gubbins that he had when I played Josh.

We originally rolled up The Scouring, but neither of us wanted to deal with randomly determined victory points for objectives, so we just agreed to Crusade and rolled up 3 objectives for that.  Dawn of War was the deployment that we rolled, and James won the roll-off to see who would place objective markers first, so that would give him two objectives to my one, which suited him well, as it allowed him to be more static, as Tau tend to be.

I had set up the board while James was getting his army out of his car.  It was my usual, less-than-creative, very symmetrical set up, with good amounts of cover for all possible deployments.  James agreed that it was OK with him before we started rolling for mission and deployment. 

I won the roll-of for who would go first, and gave James the honor of deploying and going first, which would give him a turn of uninhibited shooting to pulverize whatever he wanted to with all the Marker Lights that he had, but I wanted to see how he would deploy, and there’s always a chance to seize the initiative.  However, I generally like to go last in objectives games, so I often won’t attempt to seize.

Since James was running Farsight he already knew what his Warlord Trait would be, which is that Farsight and his unit don’t scatter at all when they arrive from Deep Strike, which is what James was planning to do with him.  We agreed that I would roll and then choose from one of the three tables in the BRB for my Warlord Trait, as that’s the way James usually does it in his friendly games, and that’s the way that Jimmy does it at Empire Games when he’s running tournaments.  Makes it a bit more balanced in that you don’t necessarily end up getting totally screwed if you roll something on the table you picked first that wouldn’t benefit you at all.  I rolled a 6, and chose from the Personal table, which made my Warlord (my Nurgle Chaos Biker Lord) a scoring unit.  Well, if he survived until the end of the game, which would be a rarity…

I then had to roll for my Daemonic Rewards and Psychic Powers for the GUO.  For the Greater Daemonic Reward I rolled Dark Blessing, which would allow my GUO to re-roll failed Invulnerable saves, which wasn’t bad at all.  For the Exalted Reward I knew what I was going to do, but rolled on the chart anyway and got Unholy Frenzy, which would have given him Rage and Frenzy, which weren’t bad, but I decided to do what I’d planned to do anyway, which was to swap that out for one of the Hellforged Artefacts, the Grimoire of True Names.  I’d only used the Grimoire once before, in the previous game against Josh’s Tau, and it proved to be a huge boon to my game, so I was hoping for similar luck this time.

For my Psychic Powers for the GUO I rolled up Iron Arm (Yeah!), Warp Speed (Yeah!), and Haemmorrhage (so-so), so no complaints there.

(And, once again, I forgot that I had purchased Gift of Mutation for my Biker Lord, so didn’t roll on the Chaos Boon table for him.  Need to create a checklist that I can use every game to be sure I go through all the necessary pre-game steps, and also don’t forget to do Blessings and Maledictions at the start of each movement phase…)

Then James started deploying.  He spread out across his deployment zone with all of his units, but kept his 3 units of Fire Warriors bunched up around the two objectives he’d placed in cover in his deployment zone, just over 12” from each other on my left side of the table.  I had placed my single objective marker in cover in my deployment zone, but to the left of the center so that it was in the same half of the table as James’ two objectives.  This would (hopefully) allow me to not have to spread myself out, as I knew I would be making a push towards his two objective, as just holding my one wouldn’t cut it by the end of the game; or so was my thinking along those lines.

James held Farsight and his bodyguard in Reserve, as expected.  I had 11 units to work with, so held 6 of them in Reserve:  The 2 Heldrakes (which had to start in Reserve), Mr. Fat Pants (the GUO), the unit of 2 Oblits, and both units of Plaguebearers.  My plan was to weather whatever shooting was necessary until Reserves started showing up, and Deep Striking close to James’ line and press towards his objectives.  I put my Havocs in the only building that made sense, and stuffed the Biker Lord and his escort of 4 Chaos Spawn down in the ground floor level of the same building, so that they would have as straight a shot at James’ big cluster of Fire Warrior units as possible on my turn, but would be out of line of sight of as much as possible at the start of the game.  I then positioned one unit of Plague Marines about in the middle of the table, out of cover but also out of sight of all of the Fire Warriors, although I knew they’d be lit up by the Marker Drones with the Crisis Suit Commander, and then shot at by the Crisis Suit Team on my right side of the table.  The other unit of Plague Marines I put behind the cover that my objective was in, so that they would be out of range of James’ Fire Warriors, and as out of sight from his Pathfinders as possible. 

Here are some shots of how the battlefield looked after deployment, at the start of Turn 1:

Turn 1:
James’ Pathfinders lit up my Havocs with their Marker Lights, and then a couple of squads of Fire Warriors shot the living shit out of them, wiping out the squad.  I think the Broadsides contributed to that, too, but they may have shot at the Plague Marines that were behind my objective, in which case that’s how I lost one there.  A few Fire Warriors were able to take pot shots at my Biker Lord, but either none were able to wound, or he successfully Look Out,Sir-ed them off to the Spawn, who make their cover saves.

He then lit up the Plague Marines that were hoping to make a dash for the cover in the middle of the table with 7 of his 8 Marker Drones, and then shot at them with all the Crisis Suits, and managed to kill three of them.

In my half of Turn 1 the Biker Lord and the Spawn crashed through the wall of the building they were sheltering in and made a bee-line down my left hand side of the table towards the Fire Warriors guarding one of James’ objectives.  Two of the Spawn managed to make it into cover, and three of them remained in base contact with the Biker Lord, since I didn’t have to worry about any template or blast templates hitting them, so I could distribute the Look Out, Sirs amongst them as much as possible.  

The Plague Marines behind my objective moved up into the cover (mostly), and the Plague Marines that had been lit up by so many Marker Drones decided to angle off to the right and head towards the Crisis Suits that had jumped closer to them in their assault phase.  I had very little shooting, since my Havocs had been obliterated, but the Death Guard on my right angling towards the Crisis Suit team got lucky and took out a few Shield Drones with their rapid fire shooting.  The Biker Lord used the Burning Brand of Skalathrax to flame 4 Fire Warriors out of the squad to my far left, which was the squad he and the Spawn intended to assault next turn.  The units I shot at either didn’t need to take a Morale test after shooting, or passed it.

And that was about it for Turn 1. 

Turn 2:
James rolled for his only unit in Reserves, Farsight and his buddies, but they were still discussing strategy on the mother ship, and decided not to turn up just yet.  That worked just fine for me.

James moved his Marker Drones and their Crisis Suit master closer to the Plague Marines on my right, and edged up his Crisis Suit team even closer, I guess to try to get within rapid fire range, but it was looking pretty hopeful that if they rolled poorly for their assault phase jump, and didn’t wipe out the Plague Marines, that I might have a chance of charging that unit of Crisis Suits in my turn.

Here’s a look at the table at the start of Turn 2, after James’ movement phase:

James managed to peel off a wound on two of the Spawn, thanks to Look Out, Sirs, as well as the Biker Lord, who failed one Look Out, Sir and then failed his armor save.  *Sigh*.  Chaos Lords only have 3 wounds, so the loss of any one of them that could otherwise be prevented is aggravating.

Otherwise, the Broadsides targeted my Plague Marines that were in the cover with my objectived, and managed to kill one of them.  Then, in his assault phase, his Crisis Suit team on my right only rolled a 3 for their assault jump away from the Plague Marines near them, which made me hopeful that they could assault the Crisis team in my turn.

In my half of Turn 2, the following showed up from Reserves:
  • One Heldrake.
  • The Great Unclean One.
  • One unit of Plagubearers.
  • The unit of 2 Obliterators.
This was also very beneficial for me.  There were some tense moments for me, as I got aggressive with my Deep Strike positions, and the GUO almost had a mishap, dropping in very close to James’ Pathfinders, and the Plaguebearers almost scattered onto the Spawn accompanying the Lord.  However, I got lucky, and both units came in just far enough out to make it in and not require me to roll on the Deep Strike Mishap table.  The Oblits hit right where I wanted them to, and the Heldrake flew in from my right side, vector striking the Crisis Team and taking a toll.  The Crisis Team was still there, but they lost some drones and some wounds from the Heldrake’s vector strike.

The GUO used the Grimoire on the Heldrake, as James’ Broadsides had Sky Fire, and it was presenting its ass to the Crisis Team, so if I didn’t get them tied up in close combat this turn, they could take snap shots at it’s AV10 side with plasma, which could prove a problem.

The Lord then split off from the Spawn, and both units advanced towards the Fire Warrior teams harboring in the ruins on my left.  The Plague Marines in the cover with my objective moved through cover pretty well, managing to get most of them out of the cover.

In the shooting phase, the Lord refrained from shooting at the Fire Warriors in front of him with the Burning Brand of Skalathrax, not wanting to thin their numbers too low, or have no models on the ground floor to try to attack.  The Heldrake flamed the Pathfinders with its Baleflamer, causing considerable damage and forcing the Marker Light toting Tau to break.  The Plague Marines on my right declined to shoot at the Crisis Team with their bolt pistols for fear of putting themselves out of charge range, which after moving an unobstructed 6” was only 5”.  If I recall correctly, the Plague Marines emerging from the cover in the middle of the action where just barely in range of the Fire Warriors opposite them, but I can’t recall for sure, or whether they were able to shoot any of them successfully (they may have run, can’t recall for sure).

The real boon to this turn of shooting, in addition to the Heldrake’s results, was the Obliterators one-shotting both of the Broadsides with their multi-meltas.  That took a huge threat off the board, and left the Oblits free to focus on the Fire Warriors that remained directly in front of them on one of James’ objectives.

In my assault phase, the Spawn assaulted the Fire Warrior squad immediately to my left, drawing all of the Overwatch from them and the squad next to them.  Since they were in the open, they didn’t have any cover, and as a result took a few wounds, which left me with 2 Spawn with full wounds (James had a good Overwatch on the Spawn).  However, the Spawn were able to make their short charge distance, and the Biker Lord, without having to worry about any Overwatch shots coming his way, assaulted the same squad.  My units caused enough wounds to force James to make a break test, which he failed, and that unit of Fire Warriors got run down.  However, in the process they were able to put a wound on the Biker Lord, so he was down to one wound, and they also peeled one wound off of one of the Spawn.

On my right, the Plague Marines were successful in their assault into the Crisis Team.  They took no wounds, and managed to kill off one Crisis Suit and the two shield drones, but the Crisis Team didn’t break, which suited me just fine.

Turn 3:
Here’s a look at how things stood at the start of Turn 3:

This was a pivotal turn for me, which I’ll summarize here:

James’ Turn 3:
  • Farsight & Friends were still busy studying the unfolding battle from the safety of their Manta in orbit, and so once again didn’t turn up for James.
  • The Pathfinders couldn’t regroup, and ran off the table (either that, or they ran off the table after being flamed by the Heldrake, but at this point I can’t remember; I tried to get this battle report completed the day after the game, but work got in the way, and I’m finishing it up almost a week later…)
  • The Biker Lord fell to Fire Warrior shooting.
  • The Plague Marines on the right finished off the Crisis Team and started making their way around James’ side of the building in the center of the table.
My Turn 3:
  • My second Heldrake turned up, flying in from the left corner of my board edge towards the two squads of remaining Fire Warriors.
  • My second squad of Plaguebearers also turned up, and scattered safely, but a little back from where I wanted them, but still within range to make it to the nearest objective in James’ deployment zone.
  • The Plaguebearers that had arrived Turn 2 rolled double 1s for their difficult terrain test, so just sort of spread out where they were, preparing to head back towards the objective in my deployment zone.
  • The Spawn moved out of the cover of the ruins on my left in James’ deployment zone and set up to charge the Fire Warriors that were left there.
  • The Plague Marines coming around from my right moved forwards, aiming for the objective in James’ deployment zone on my right.
  • The GUO got both the Grimoire and Iron Arm off, and moved out of cover and set up to attempt to assault the Crisis Suit Commander and whatever was left of his marker drones.
  • The first Heldrake vector struck the marker drone squad, putting some hurt on them, and set up to flame either Fire Warrior squad remaining on the objectives.
  • The Plague Marines in the middle of the action continued to press forward, putting more distance between them and the objective in my deployment zone, but in a position to dash back towards it in the next turn if their bolters and plasma guns weren’t needed forward.
  • The Oblits moved forward and got into “Howdy” range of the Fire Warriors in the cover with the objective on my right in James’ deployment zone.
  • The Heldrake and Oblits flamed the living hell out of both squads of Fire Warriors, but not quite finishing them off.
  • The Plague Marines on my right stumbled forward 1” in the shooting phase as they tried to run closer to James’ objective nearest to them.
  • The Spawn charged the Fire Warriors remaining in the ruins on my left, finishing them off.
  • The Oblits charged the Fire Warriors to my right of the squad the Spawn took care of business, finishing them off.
  •    ==>> At this point, James had no more Troops choices left, but he had First Blood and Slay the Warlord, and still has the potential for Farsight and his bodyguard to take care of my Troops and/or deny a key objective.
  • The GUO charged into the Crisis Suit Commander and his marker drones and got stuck in.

Turn 4:
This being Turn 4, Farsight and his bodyguard automatically came in at the start of James’ turn.  Being Farsight, he and his unit did not scatter when they arrive from Deep Strike.  Here’s how things looked after James selected where to place Farsight:

Using their ability to split fire, Farsight and his buddies (lots of dual plasma, plus a fusion blaster) made short work of my two remaining Plague Marine squads, which were both out in the open and had to rely on their Feel No Pain rolls to try to withstand the blasting they took from Farsight’s squad, but after Jame’s shooting phase both Plague Marine squads were gone.

In his assault phase, James moved Farsight’s squad towards my table edge somewhat with their jet packs, and spread out a bit so that they wouldn’t be totally bunched up when the baleflamer templates started dropping on them in my turn.

The GUO and the Crisis Suit Commander and his marker drones continued to duke it out on James’ side of the board.

In my half of turn 4, the both Heldrakes turned 90 degrees and were able to vector strike Farsight’s squad, taking a heavy toll.  The Plaguebearers in the open made a 6” bee-line for the closest objective in James’ deployment zone, while the other Plaguebearer squad managed to get out of the cover they were in and headed towards Farsight’s squad to see if they could do anything.  The Spawn wanted to join in that fun, too, so they headed straight for Farsight and his bodyguard as well.  The oblits managed a decent difficult terrain test and moved off of the objective they’d stood on after they wiped out the last of the Fire Warriors that had been there.

In my shooting phase, the Heldrakes both flamed Farsight’s squad, and did even more damage.  The Oblits tried to use their plasma cannons on Farsight’s squad, but they both overheated, and one of them took a wound.   Ouch.

Then the critical question:  Could I get both the Plaguebearers and the two remaining Spawn into combat with what remained of Farsight’s squad?  As it turned out, they did so easily.  I ended up winning combat, Farsight failed his break test, and the Spawn and the Plaguebearers ran them down. 

At this point it didn’t matter that the Crisis Suit Commander (who was down to one wound) was still in combat with the GUO, as I’d essentially tabled James.  Both units of Plaguebearers would have made it to an objective marker in Turn 5, and I had Slay the Warlord.  The Oblits would’ve made their way over to the GUO and Crisis Suit Commander’s combat and tried to join in, and with two player turns in Turn 5 to work with, I’m sure they would’ve taken care of the Commander.  So James called it at the end of Turn 4.

Victory Goes to Chaos!!!

This was a well played game on both our parts, I think, and I had a lot of fun, but then again, it’s always more fun when you win.  James seemed to have had a good time, and was very good natured about taking the loss.  In truth, his dice were not with him this game, while with only a few exceptions, mine rarely let me down (even my cursed scatter die!)

In retrospect, Farsight lost him the game.  By staying in Reserves until he had to show up Turn 4, the lack of that many points from his army taking part in earlier Turns really hampered James’ ability to deal with all the threats that I had on the table.

For my part, it was good to get another game in against a different Tau player who has a different style of play.  It was also probably good for me to lose my Havocs at the top of Turn 1, so that I had to figure out other means of trying to deal with all of the Marker Lights James had early, and secure a victory by some other means.  The Grimoire only let me own once, and my GUO did take a wound or two as a result of only having a 6++ save for one turn, but his Greater Gift was that he could re-roll Invulnerable saves, and that helped.  Iron Arm was a help, but I kept forgetting to cast Warp Speed on the GUO, which is just my inexperience with playing with a psyker.

If you’re still reading, thanks for taking the time to do so.  I hope you enjoyed this battle report.  As always, please feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chaos vs Tau Battle Report

Hey, Folks.

Just wanted to give you a quick battle report of a game I played this past Saturday (9/21/2013).  This is the first game I’ve been able to get in in about 5 or 6 weeks, and prior to this game I had gotten in a game against an experienced Eldar player, which was the first game with all my fully painted models, and my first game in about 2 months.  (I’ll try to remember the details of that battle, too, and give you a brief on it here when time allows; I’m doing this one now because I managed to write down my thoughts and rememberences right after the game while they were fresh in my mind, so let’s get this one out of the way.)

The game that this battle report is for was played against a good friend of mine, Josh Howery, who is a very experienced Tau general, having played Tau since they first came out.  He had gotten in quite a few games in the recent weeks since the Tau codex dropped, so was pretty experienced with 6th Edition Tau, at least the way he likes to play them.  I, on the other hand, and as noted, had only gotten 1 other game in in about 5 months or so, and that was a 2,500 point game against Eldar about 5 or 6 weeks earlier.  I had only played the 6th Edition Tau once before, and that was against another friend of mine, John Grasser, right after the new Tau codex came out, and it ended very badly for me by the end of Turn 3.  So I was not expecting to win in this game against Josh, but felt the need to start getting in as many games as possible before I head off to Valhalla in 3.5 weeks so that I’m not checking every rule every few minutes, and I remember how to play my army.

Now that the preliminaries are over, on to the details of the battle:

Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report
Saturday, September 21st, 2013
Chaos Space Maries w/ Chaos Daemon Allies
The Tau Empire
1,850 Points

Chaos Space Marines & Daemons:
Primary Detachment:
  • 1 Chaos Lord on Bike with Mark of Nurgle, Sigil of Corruption, The Burning Brand of Skalathrax, The Black Mace, Blight Grenades, Melta Bombs, Gift of Mutation. – 220 Points.
  • 4 Chaos Spawn with the Mark of Nurgle – 144 Points.
  • 7 Plague Marines with 2 Plasma Guns – 198 Points.
  • 7 Plague Marines with 2 Plasma Guns – 198 Points.
  • 2 Heldrakes with Baleflamers – 2 X 170 = 340 Points.
  • 5 CSM Havocs with Mark of Nurgle and 4 Autocannon – 130 Points.
  • 2 CSM Obliterators with Mark of Nurgle – 152 Points.

  • Great Unclean One, Psyker Level 3, 1 Greater Daemonic Reward, 1 Exalted Daemonic Reward – 290 Points.
  • 10 Plaguebearers of Nurgle – 90 Points.
  • 10 Plaguebearers of Nurgle – 90 Points.

Total = 1,852 Points.

Tau Empire (to the best of my recollection, and without unit points costs):
Primary Detachment:
  • Commander Shadowsun and her retinue of Crisis Suits (3?), Gun Drones (6?), Shield Drone(s), and a Command-and-Control Drone.  (This squad had a mix of weaponry, including Plasma, Fusion and Interceptor.  Big squad, lots of goodies.)
  • Crisis Suit Commander with 6 Marker Drones and Drone Controller.
  • 12 Firewarriors with Bonding Knives.
  • 12 Firewarriors with Bonding Knives.
  • 12 Kroot with Sniper Rifles.
  • 2 Crisis Suits with 1X Air Burst Fragmentation Grenades, both with Plasma, not sure what else, and a Shield Drone.
  • 1 Hammerhead Tank with Longstrike.
  • 2 Broadsides with all the missiles they could possibly take, and Interceptor (and SkyFire?).
  • 1 SkyRay Tank (6 Hunter-Killer missiles and 2 Marker Drones).
  • 1 Riptide, with big gun and shield (not sure of the specifics).

  • None.

Total = ~1,850 Points.  (I didn’t see Josh’s list, but I trust him.)

We rolled up The Emperor’s Will and the Hammer and Anvil deployment.  About the worst combination that I could hope for.  With The Emperor’s Will, it often comes down to who gets First Blood, especially against a static army like Tau, vs a mostly foot-slogging army like mine.  This did not bode well for me.

Another friend of ours had set up the board, and he didn’t provide very much cover for either of us.  This would be a problem for both of us, but more for Josh, I think, since he had so many Marker Drones with which to remove my cover, and smart missile systems which ignore cover, so net-net I think it was OK, as it limited the cover he could take from my low AP weapons.

Since Josh was running Shadowsun, he had is Warlord Trait taken care of.  I rolled on the “Personal” table in the BRB, and got Master of Defense (Warlord and unit have counter-attack while in their own deployment zone), which I knew wouldn’t do me much good, but then I’ve never had much luck with Warlord Traits.

I then had to roll for my Daemonic Gifts and Psychic Powers for the GUO.  For the Greater Gift I rolled Touch of Uncreation, which gave my Great Unclean One Armourbane and Fleshbane in close combat, which wasn’t bad at all.  For the Exalted Gift I knew what I was going to do, but rolled on the chart anyway and got Tethered To The Warp, which would allow my GUO to come back from reserves with one wound after he died in the previous turn.  I decided to do what I’d planned to do anyway, which was to swap that out for one of the Hellforged Artefacts, the Grimoire of True Names.  I’d never used the Grimoire before, but it came highly recommended (by John), and I had recently re-done all of my army lists to allow the GUO to take this, so I was looking forward to using it.

For Psychic Powers I rolled on the Biomancy table and got Enfeeble (not terrible), Life Leech (not terrible, and could come in handy if Mr. Fat Pants (the Great Unclean One) was low on wounds), and Endurance (Yeah!).  That was the big winner, right there.  Getting Iron Arm would’ve rocked it, but I was very happy to get Endurance.

Then, I was supposed to roll on the Chaos Boon table for my Lord, since I’d given him Gift of Mutation, but as this was the first time I’d taken this for him, I forgot, which may or may not have made a difference in the game, but we’ll never know.  Lesson learned:  Check to see that everybody made their pre-game rolls.

Josh won the roll to pick sides, but I won the roll to see who goes first, and had him go first, so he deployed his army, leaving the 2-man Crisis Suit team and the Kroot in Reserve.  He picked the side of the table that had the better cover in terms of buildings in which to park his Firewarriors and Broadsides.  Things were getting tougher for me.

I then deployed my forces (rather well, I thought), keeping the 2 Heldrakes, Mr. Fat Pants (the Great Unclean One) and the 2-man unit of Oblits in Reserve.  I deployed the rest of my forces in what cover I had, making sure that there was nowhere that Josh could Infiltrate his Kroot into my backfield, so they stayed in Reserve.

I tried but did not seize the initiative, which was fine with me, as I generally like to go second in objective-based missions, and Josh didn’t have any psychic powers to power up his forces with, but it did give him the chance to move first and start shooting at me, which he did.  A lot.

Turn 1:
Josh lit up my Lord and his “retinue” of 4 Nurgle Chaos Spawn on my left flank with enough marker light hits to ensure they would have no cover save from the cover they were in, and plenty of his other units would get boosts to their BS.  Pretty much everything opened up on them then, whittling me down to just 2 Spawn.  That’s OK, as they’re primarily there as a delivery system to get the Lord into close combat, but they hadn’t even moved and were pretty beat up.  I also lost a single Plague Marine out of the squad that was next to the Lord and the Spawn from a big template from the Riptide.  My other unit of Plague Marines in the middle of my deployment zone fared even worse, receiving a ton of wounds and rolling five 1s for armor saves, and only making one Feel No Pain.  So that squad was down to 3 guys, but fortunately it included my two plasma gunners.

In my half of Turn 1 I managed to whittle down some of the Gun Drones in Shadowsun’s squad, and take a wound or two off of the Riptide thanks to long range shots from the Plague Marines’ plasma guns, but that was about it.  The Lord and remaining Spawn made a run for it to the difficult terrain in the middle of the table, but didn’t quite make it (not that it would’ve mattered), and the Lord was able to use the Burning Brand to knock out a bunch of the Gun Drones in Shadowsun’s retinue.  I knew I had to deal with Shadowsun and her crew, but I also had to deal with the Riptide and somehow try to whittle down all those Marker Drones with the Crisis Suit, but Josh positioned them all very well so that the Crisis Suit commander would get a re-rollable (I think) 2+ armor save (I’m sure of that), which meant he’d be shielding the Marker Drones from the Burning Brand, so I worked on Shadowsun’s unit instead.

Turn 2:
Both of Josh’s units in Reserve came in, and he had the Kroot walk (stumble) onto the long board edge on my left side way back in his deployment zone.  The 2 man Crisis Suit team with the Shield Drone, however, dropped behind cover over on my right side in very good threat range to all of my Troops choices.  Josh promptly used the air-bursting weapon that ignores cover (and doesn’t need Line of Sight) on my group of Plaguebearers that I had all bunched up in a ruin, and scored a “Hit” on his scatter die.  (It should be noted that Josh scored a “Hit” with that scatter die every time he rolled it in this game.)  Without their 2+ cover save, the Plaguebearers ended up losing 7 of their number, as all of them were under the air-burst template and I only managed to make three 5++ saves.

(I should also note that we’re in the middle of a long campaign that our club is running, and this was a campaign game.  Josh’s campaign army is his Tyranids, so he did not have his Grand General in this game, but I had mine, and he has some pretty nice upgrades that he’s earned throughout the campaign, including Feel No Pain (5+) and Eternal Warrior.)

Josh then proceeded to pummel my Lord and the remaining Spawn with everything that he could reach them with with what he had left, and that was quite a bit.  The Lord made an amazing number of armor saves, invulnerable saves and Feel No Pain saves, but in the end couldn’t hold on to his last wound and was killed.  If I had made one more Feel No Pain he would have lived to assault Shadowsun’s unit on his own, albeit with only a single wound, but, alas, it was not to be.  True to the folklore, the freshly painted Nurgle Biker Lord with The Black Mace failed in his first outing; hopefully he’ll do better the next time around, but he does present a real threat to most armies, and so has a big target on his chest.

Josh now had First Blood (my Spawn) and Slay the Warlord.  We both held our respective objectives.  Score at the midpoint of Turn 2 was 5 to 3 in favor of the Tau Empire.

In my half of Turn 2, all of my 4 units that were in Reserves decided to show up at the same time, which was a huge blessing, as it denied Josh the ability to pick apart units coming in from reseve piecemeal with all the Interceptor ability he had taken. 

Since it was the Hammer and Anvil deployment, there was nothing for my Heldrakes to vector strike when they came onto the board, so I brought one straight on from the left corner of my deployment zone so that it was right in front of Shadowsun’s squad (which had Interceptor), and the other straight up from the right corner of my deployment zone so he could try to Baleflamer those pesky Crisis Suits and their air-bursting badness (not to mention their plasmas).

I decided to position Mr. Fat Pants right in the middle of the board, just in front of a large piece of ruins for his Deep Strike.  Since a GUO has Slow and Purposeful, he can’t run in the shooting phase, which makes him quite slow.  But I thought this was a good spot for him to be in, as with a good scatter I would be in range to assault Shadowsun’s unit the next turn, or just start moving towards the objective in Josh’s deployment zone and choose targets of opportunity to try to assault.  For once my scatter die honored me with a “Hit”, so he ended up right where I put him, a little over an inch away from (and behind) the cover in the middle of the table.

I then placed the 2 Oblits in Josh’s backfield where they would get a good shot at both units of Firewarriers, the Broadsides on the second floor of the ruins back there, the SkyRay, and the Hammerhead, and even could deal with the Kroot, if they wanted to and survived that long.  They scattered 7” straight back towards Josh’s table edge, but I had given them plenty of room, so they were fine. 

Now it was time to roll for Blessings, Maledictions and the all important Grimoire.  Since I’d never used the Grimoire before, I was a little nervous about using it on one of my own units.  For those of you that don’t know, the Grimoire of True Names can either buff one of your unit’s invulnerable saves, or de-buff an opponent’s unit’s invul save.  It has a range of 24” either way, and if I use it on an enemy unit all I have to do is be in range and declare it, and their invul save goes down by -1.  No Deny The Witch, no cover save, they just need to be in range and *POOF*, their invul save goes down by one.  However, if I try to use it on one of my own units (including the bearer and his unit), I have to roll a D6; on a 1 or 2, that unit’s invul save goes down by -1, and on a 3+ that unit’s invul save goes up by 2+.  So a Daemon unit that has the Grimoire used on them successfully ends up getting a 3++, whereas if I try to use it on one of my own units and roll a 1 or 2, their invul save goes to 6++.  (Likewise, if I used it on an enemy unit that had, say, a 5++ save, they would then have a 6++ save until the start of my next Movement phase.)  It’s risky to use it on your own units, but the potential reward is significant.

I decided to target the Heldrake that had ended up right in front of Shadowsun’s unit with the Grimoire, and passed the check, so that Heldrake now had a 3++ save.  Nice.  I then cast Enfeeble on the Riptide, and Endurance on the GUO himself.  Both went off without a hitch, so the GUO now had Feel No Pain, It Will Not Die and Relentless (big deal), whereas the Riptide had its Toughness reduced by 1.

Josh used his units that had Interceptor (and I think the Riptide had SkyFire), and despite scoring a few hits against everything he shot at (mostly the Heldrakes, I think) I managed to make most of my saves.  He did manage to score an Immobilized result with a penetrating hit on the Heldrake on my right flank, which meant it was now Vector Locked at 36” velocity.  That was OK by me.

In my shooting phase the Heldrake on my left flank flamed Shadowsun’s squad, doing some damage before the Shield Drone started making its invul saves, and the Heldrake on my right flank flamed the two Crisis Suits and their Shield Drone, which got rid of one of the Crisis Suits, but not, unfortunately, the one that had the air-burst ignores cover launcher.  The Havocs concentrated on the Riptide and took a wound (or 2?) off of it, and the Oblits in the rear shot their assault cannon into the Firewarriors in the building in front of them, killing enough to force a morale check, which they passed.

I then tested the Chaos Gods’ patience and succesfully cast Life Leech and then managed to hit the Riptide with this Witchfire, taking another wound off of it.

And, to top it all off, at the end of my turn the GUO regained the one wound he lost from Josh’s shooting thanks to It Will Not Die that he got from a successful casting of Endurance, and I believe I managed to put the hull point back on the Heldrake on my right flank that had been Vector Locked when it came in from Josh’s Interceptor by virtue of its It Will Not Die rule.

Turn 3:
In Josh’s half of Turn 3, his SkyRay unleashed all 6 of its hunter missiles at the Heldrake on my right flank (which had not been buffed by the Grimoire in my Turn 2), and I almost made all of its invul saves, but failed one and it crashed, to no effect.  The remaining Crisis Suit on my right flank finished off the three Plaguebearers that were huddling in the ruins in the middle front of my deployment zone, where my objective was, and the Riptide killed two more Plague Marines from the squad that was next to that objective, too, leaving a lone plasma gunner from that squad.

Otherwise, not much else ensued.  Josh concentrated fire from both Firewarrior squads and the Kroot at the 2 Oblits in his backfield, killing one of them.  But other than that, not much happened on his turn.

However, during his assault phase, he did something rather curious.  He moved Shadowsun’s unit into the cover that was in front of my GUO, bringing it closer (I thought) to him being able to assault Shadowsun’s unit in my turn.  I guess Josh was worried about all the plasma guns that I had that could reach Shadowsun and her retinue in my turn, but it looked to me like the GUO had a good chance of getting into close combat with her and her gang in my turn.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

On my half of Turn 3, I used the Grimoire on the GUO, and thankfully it worked, which was good because if he was going to try to charge Shadowsun’s unit, he was going to take a lot of overwatch fire from most of Josh’s army, starting with the Marker Drones.  I measured and we decided that I would need a total of 11 inches to get into contact with the first model in Shadowsun’s unit with the GUO.  Luck was on my side, as he rolled a 6 for his difficult terrain roll, bringing him within 5 inches of that juicy target.

Meanwhile, the remaining Heldrake vector struck the Marker Drones, managing to kill half of them, which left three plus the Crisis Suit Commander, which would be a huge help.  My remaining Plaguebearer unit, well within my deployment zone on my right, but close to the Crisis Suit with the air-burst weapon, decided to spread out a bit to try to reduce the threat of an air-burst on them, and angled themselves closer to the ruins that held my objective; this was still being held by the lone Plague Marine plasma gunner, but was far enough away from those Plaguebearers that they needed to start moving in that direction to be effective in later turns at holding it.

In the shooting phase, the Plague Marines and Havocs concentrated fire on the Riptide, dropping it to a single remaining wound, which meant that Josh wasn’t going to risk using his Nova Reactor to try to supercharge it, significantly reducing it as a risk for 2 turns. 

Then it was time to see if Mr. Fat Pants could make it into close combat with Shadowsun’s unit, charging through the ruins.  I needed a 5 to make it to the closest model, and rolled a 6, a 3 and another 3 on my 3 dice for his charge roll, so he made it!  The 3++ save the Grimoire had given him, plus the Feel No Pain (5+) that he got from a successful roll for Endurance, really paid off when he shrugged off most of the overwatch shots that came his way, which of course were boosted by the three remaining Marker Drones, who overwatched first and put three markers on him.  In the end, he won combat, Shadowsun failed her morale check, and the Big Fella ran down the command squad.  Slay the Warlord for me!  The GUO then consolidated 5” straight towards Josh’s objective while remaining in cover.

Turns 4, 5 and 6:
From this point on it’s not worth giving you a blow-by-blow description of what happened, and if you’re still reading at this point, I greatly appreciate it.  So, I’ll summarize:

The GUO continued to make is way towards the objective in Josh’s deployment zone, and ended up being parked right on top of it, but by the time he got there he was down to a single wound.  I didn’t want to risk casting Life Leech and possibly rolling a Perils of the Warp, as he was my only chance to deny Josh that objective, so he sat tight and hunkered down.  I rolled for the Grimoire of True Names 5 times during the game, and never rolled lower than a 4, so he always had a 3++ save after he had buffed the left Heldrake in Turn 2.

The Plague Marines and Havocs managed to take the final wound off of the Riptide in Turn 4, eliminating that threat.

The lone Plague Marine plasma gunner made a valiant attempt at taking out the Crisis Suit on the right (the one with the air-burst fragmentation grenade launcher), rolling a 6 for difficult terrain to get into rapid fire range!  But, then he failed to wound it.  It took the Havocs shooting through cover at that pesky Crisis Suit to finally get  rid of him, which allowed the Plaguebearers to move out of cover and head towards the SkyRay that had moved into that part of the board in an attempt to tank shock the lone plasma gunner, who was now standing on my objective, and get Linebreaker.  However, the Plaguebearers had other plans, and charged the SkyRay, scoring a ton of hits with their 20 attacks, and rolling four 6s to glance it to death.  The Plaguebearers’ plague swords have Touch of Rust, which always causes a glancing hit on a roll of a 6 after hitting, but I forgot that they were already Str 4 and needed 6s anyway, since they were hitting the SkyRay’s AV10 rear armor.  But, it was a good exercise, and either way it got rid of the SkyRay, which could have rushed forwards and parked itself right on top of my objective, keeping any of my scoring units more than 3” away from it.  However, the lowly Plaguebearers had proven their worth and eliminated that threat.

The remaining Oblit in Josh’s backfield managed to take out a Broadside with his twin-linked melta gun, and thin out the Firewarriors in the same building and even cause them to break a turn later, but they rallied the next turn and he eventually died to weight of fire.

The game continued to Turn 6, and Josh continued to pour firepower into my GUO, but Mr. Fat Pants kept rolling above 2 for the Grimoire, and had a 3++ save to help him hang in there to the end of Turn 6.  This was a very fortunate thing, as my remaining Heldrake, which had had to fly off the board earlier having been Vector Locked, flew off the table at the end of Turn 6 and would not be able to provide insurance for me to get Linebreaker.  The unit of Plague Marines that was still mobile were still too far away from Josh’s objective to try to contest it and get Linebreaker, as I had to use their shooting phases to try to get rid of the remaining missile Broadside.  In the end, they could only get that MissileSide down to one wound, and were too far away from the objective to make any more of a difference to the outcome of the game. 

My only hope of pulling out a victory was for the GUO to survive being camped on Josh’s objective, in his deployment zone, with two heavily reduced units of Firewarriors and a full unit of Kroot shooting at him, backed up by the remaining 3 Marker Drones and their Controller, Longstrike in his Hammerhead, and the MissileSide in the building above him.  At the end of Turn 6, he was still there, with only 1 wound left, and I had firm control of the objective in my deployment zone.  We rolled to see if the game would go to Turn 7, and it came up a 1, so the game ended there.


Chaos = 5
Tau = 2

Victory =>> Chaos!!!

Wow!  I can honestly say that I did NOT expect to pull off a victory in my first “real” game against Tau.  It was a close game, and after my Biker Lord and his Spawn retinue got decimated in the early game, I was not optimistic.  Josh had a lot of Marker Drones to light up pretty much whatever he wanted.  However, I used the Grimoire of True Names 5 times and it never failed me.  I failed a few psychic tests, but never periled, which saved the GUO’s big butt.  And I have to say, my dice were HOT!  I was making invul saves and It Will Not Die rolls like crazy all game long.  The only time my dice started to show the strain of doing so well was at the very end of the game, when the GUO took a bunch of wounds and ended up with a single wound by the end of Turn 6.

Josh and I quickly rolled out a theoretical Turn 7 of him shooting at my GUO, and I did fail the last save, which would have given Josh the game, as we both would have held an objective and had Slay the Warlord, and neither of us would have had Linebreaker, but he had First Blood.

Well, this Battle Report ended up being a lot longer than I’d originally intended, but as I got writing it, I just kept going and the story told itself.  If you’ve lasted this long, thanks very much.  I’m very encouraged by the results of my army against such a powerful 6th Edition codex, run by a very experienced general.  Overall I’d say that Josh and I are 50/50 in terms of wins and losses against each other, and as I said, I fully expected to get schooled on just how well Tau can shoot down pretty much whatever they want to.  But it just goes to show that even the under-appreciated Chaos Space Marine codex, backed up by some solid Chaos Daemon allies, can still win games, especially if your dice are on your side!

Josh thought that it would’ve been better if I’d Deep Striked by GUO where I put the Obliterators, in his backfield where the GUO could’ve romped through unit after unit, but in retrospect he would’ve just been shot to hell by two units of rapid-firing Firewarriors, a unit of Kroot, and 2 MissileSides, and probably Longstriker in his Hammerhead, all after being lit up by all those Marker Drones.  Even with the 3++ save that the Grimoire could confer, that would be a lot of shots to have to make saves against, and I don’t think he would’ve lasted until the end of the game, as he did; plus, if he’d failed a Grimoire test, he would’ve only had a 6++ save, as he definitely wouldn’t have any cover save given how many Marker Drones were in the area.  As it was, the two Oblits were a distraction to the Firewarriors and Kroot to shoot at while they were back there, and managed to thin out one of the Firewarrior units and cut the number of MissileSides in half.

The Man of the Match was definitely my Great Unclean One (although an honorable mention needs to be given to my blue dice, which were absolutely on fire most of the game!  And also the lone Plague Marine plasma gunner, who valiently chipped away at the annoying Crisis Suit and its Shield Drone, and held my objective by himself at the end of the game.).

As far as painting goes, I’m working on the legs of my last Plague Hulk, and that’s the last of the painting that I have to do.  I definitely want to get my first stretch goal of edge highlighting all of the metal on the two Heldrakes done, but given that I’m about half way through with the legs of the Plague Hulk, and then all I’ll need to do is assemble the legs onto the Plague Hulk’s body, I’ll definitely have plenty of time to get that edge highlighting done on the two Heldrakes.  I want to spend as much time as I can in the time remaining before I go to Valhalla to get in some more games, especially against Eldar, Tau and any flavor of Space Marines that I can find.

Thanks for taking the time to read this Battle Report, and look for an update on how easy it is to store and transport my Plague Drones (which I forgot to discuss at length when I posted that I’d completed painting them), and the final word on finishing up the last Plague Hulk.  After that, I’ll try to post (shorter) Battle Reports as I’m able to get games in, and then will post as much as I can while I’m at Valhalla in October.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment below.