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.

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