Monday, 4 October 2010

"Baying for Blue Blood" Tau v Blood Angels Battle Report

"Ahh", said the Reclusiarch, "There's the Broadsides ... let's go smack em!"
"COWABUNGA DUDE!" Cried the Captain. (Common Emo-Marine Cry I hear?)


When I challenged Mark to 'another' game, I decided that I fancied a bit of 'Tau love' after their mighty demolition of Anton's Chaos Deamons. Mark sportingly offered to take his Black Templars instead of his Guard along ... I was dreading facing guard with Tau (it rarely goes well), too much cheap armour, mortars and antitank is a nightmare for the selective Tau. Just too many targets.

Plus Mark had Manticores, Vendettas and even a Deathstrike Missile to pull on ... out technology-ing the Tau'Va. I'm yet to see a Tau army compete against Guardsmen - its just the wrong fit. After a brief discussion, Mark suggested he ran his Black Templars as 'Black Angels', using the Blood Angels codex ... I said ok.

What met me at the other end was a serious surprise ... and I practically packed up the bags there and then!


Joetsu Tau'Va (1505pts): slightly tweaked list from the one posted, with the Target lock on the Broadsides being swapped at the last moment for a multi-tracker. I had 'comically' nicknamed the army "Smurfbane" AND "Lightning Shatter Squish" - which would prove more apt?
  • HQ: Shas'El, 2 Flamers, fusion blaster, 1 gun drone (78pts)
  • Elite: 2 Crisis Suits, team leader with Plasma Rifle and Missile Pod, hard wired Multi-tracker and targeting array, 2 Gun Drones, Shas'Ui with Missile Pod, targeting array and Flamer. (148pts)
  • Elite: 2 Crisis Suits, team leader with Plasma Rifle and Missile Pod, hard wired Multi-tracker and targeting array, 2 Gun Drones, Shas'Ui with Missile Pod, targeting array and Flamer. (148pts)
  • Troops: 6 Fire Warriors in a Devilfish with Disruption Pod and 2 Seeker Missiles (165pts)
  • Troops: 10 Kroot and 9 Kroot Hounds (124pts)
  • Troops: 10 Kroot (70pts)
  • Fast Attack: 6 Pathfinders with a Devilfish and Disruption Pod (157pts)
  • Fast Attack: Fusion Blaster Piranha with gun drones, targeting array, Disruption Pod and Fletchette Dischargers (85pts)
  • Heavy Support: 2 Broadsides with targeting arrays, team leader with hard wired multi-tracker and 2 shield drones (200)
  • Heavy Support: Sky Ray with Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multi-tracker and Disruption Pod (165pts)
  • Heavy Support: Sky Ray with Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multi-tracker and Disruption Pod (165pts)
Tactics: My plan was to split the bases and force lots of side armour shots on the rhinos, predators and razorbacks from the Broadsides, Sky Rays and Missile Pods. Those cracked vehicles would then give me the speed advantage to get clear and loop their target/stay out of charge range.

Marks Blood Angels: Instead what I got was the following ... and it chilled my blood!
  • Blood Angel Reclusiarch
  • 10 man Assault Squad with Jumppacks, leader with Powerfist and 2 melta pistols
  • 10 man Assault Squad with Jumppacks, leader with Powerfist and 2 melta pistols
  • 10 man Assault Squad with Jumppacks, leader with Powerfist and 2 melta pistols
  • 10 man assault squad with powerfist and 2 meltaguns in a drop pod (storm bolter)
  • 10 man assault squad with powerfist and 2 meltaguns in a drop pod (storm bolter)
  • Dreadnought with Muiltmelta, Heavy Flamer and CCW in drop pod (storm bolter)
It was a fast, multiple redundancy spam list of Tau killing ... gulp! With 5 large 10 man troops choices ... I was in real, real trouble.


I 'luckily' won the roll off and opted to go first. I had been reading an article about area denial, and unluckily we rolled for Dawn of War AND take and hold (I think ... it was the one where you have one objective and the enemy has the other...) - Dawn of War was going to be a real pain, as Mark would get a free turn to run his 2 assault units at me AND the droppods would be coming down in darkness - not good.

I deployed the 10 Kroot squad in the centre of the board with a Devilfish 18" behind them. Meanwhile, a six man squad of Fire Warriors clambered to the top of a three storey building and got out their range finders. The Shas'El sort of hung about looking hopeful.

To compound my fatalistic streak, I planted the objective smack in the middle of the board and right in front of my Tau ... so I was doomed. The double fire base plan was put to the sword, and I had some serious jump-move-jumping to do.

Mark arrayed his two hordes of Jump troops 18" from my Kroot and prayed to a 6. It didn't come (thank god).

They look such a long way away ... but 18" ain't nothing to a Emo-Marine!

TURN ONE - "I'm covered in Emo-Bees!!!"


I opted for my second tactical genius move and decided to bring on everyone apart from the large Krooty band that I blatantly just wanted to flank their objective with ... obvious - dah!? Only after starting deploying everyone did I realise that I'd just brought out every target for the impending double tap drop pods arriving imminently.

As such, although I'd committed everyone, I placed them in a cunning corral and tried to 'manage' (or massage) the impending death death death.

Broadsides and Crisis Suits target the Left Flank...

The SkyRays formed up a right flank in the centre of the board, with the pathfinder stuck out uselessly in the deadlands in the middle of the board. The pathfinders ran to their objective while the SkyRays tested to 'see' the enemy, or the leftmost horde of Emo-marines. The Broadsides stalked on, but without ASS (which allows them to move and fire), they could only run to a good-ish position. The Piranha turbo'd into the open and dropped his drones, as did the devilfish - giving me good 'space filling' units to stop the drop pod bisecting my cluster.

Oh look, a drop-pod, what fun!

The Skyray scored some hits and the subsequent firepower of the Skyrays and Missile Pods downed a few jump troops. They actually failed their leadership test and backed away ... at which point the "I'm a space marine and rules are for other numpties" rule kicked in, and they were back in the fight.

Pathfinders get into position as the Kroot clamber aboard the joyship... and drones are jettisoned.

The Kroot in the centre, well they legged it to a Devilfish and climbed on board. Now labelled the 10 Kroot scoring joy-ship, camp enough for you?


Marks Drop Pods arrived and didn't scatter worth a damn. Out stomps a multimelta dreadnought from one and 10 meltagunning 'normal' assault troops from the other. I'm COVERED IN EMO MARINES - HEEELLPP! Meanwhile the other assault troops arrive to charge at my army. The first two groups are a bare 19-ish" away and still running. I need to hurt them hard AND now!

The Dreadnought fire his multimelta and fluffs his penetration. Considering Marks constant litany of 1's and 2's during our last game, I should never underestimate his ability to miss with a multimelta. Meanwhile the meltaguns rip open the side armour of the furthest SkyRay to the right and wreck it. Boo-hiss! And that's it, no more shooting.

TURN TWO - "Whoever invented jet-packs... I love you!"


The Kroot arrive on the right flank (which is the RIGHT flank), follow me? And run towards the enemy objective. Meanwhile the Tau start flitting about in the Tau'Va shuffle. The Devilfish full of Kroot (Loveboat #1), drops bak and the Kroot jump out to pepper the Assault marines. The gundrones also leap out and play 'blockers' to the rightmost assault marines, wanting to charge. The Kroot are backed up by a move-fire-move Crisis Suit team. Meanwhile the SkyRay backs away from the impending enemy and lines up on the left-most assault team.

That's the strength of Tau ... you may have thought you were fighting the left flank of my army, but now they've just switched...

Kroot assist the pathfinders and Crisis Suits in shooting up the assault marines (hiding in the top right corner behind their drop-pod)

The Pathfinders light up the assault squad at point blank range, while the SkyRay lights up the jumpy assault squad.

The Piranha and 2 Broadsides have a lovely line of sight on the side armour of the Dreadnought. Three shots later and he's immobile and cannot shoot for a turn (the fusion gun missed ... maybe Marks "thing" with melta is catching...?).

The fire warriors, crisis suits and Kroot shoot up the assault squad and manage to kill 3, forcing a leadership test which the squad passes with ease. Ld 9 - good grief.

The left most Assault squad is less lucky and gets peppered well and truly, reducing them down to three members. Everyone backs off from assault range - how annoying (snigger snigger).


Mark drops another Pod full of assault marines at point blank of my left flank ... I'm starting to feel a little boxed in here! The jump pack squad I pummelled last turn decide to turn their ire on the right flank and break away. Meanwhile, a full squad of assault marines break off to chase the kroot down. A jump and a run latter and they'll be in assault range next turn - gulp!

The command group leap towards the loveboat but are held up by the drones ... 1" please. This means they are out of assault range. To compound the irritation, their fusion pistols (who sold them them, eh, Fio'la quartermaster work if ever I heard it) fizzle... melta fail again!

The pathfinders are equally shocked when they find themselves charged by the Assault squad and chewed up into little pieces. The assault squad on the right flank target a crisis team with melta. But I sacrifice the drones to the greater good and make good on my bolter saves.

NB: At this stage I'm feeling awfully vulnerable. I'm still waiting for the close combat monster to eat me, but the wriggling is helping.

TURN THREE - "Time to turn on the fireworks!"


The Devilfish 'Loveboat' races away with Kroot aboard. Meanwhile, the Fire Warriors try and fail to debark they lofty perch - I failed to roll a 6 which would have allowed them to leave - and they concentrated on the shooting. The Missile Boat relocates to the corner of the board. The Crisis Suits on the left flank (with the Shas'El in tow) targets the assault squad.

Sooner or later in any Tau force, you have to absolutely kill every motherf***er in the room, or face near certain close combat death. I had reached that point. The Crisis Suits, gundrones, Broadsides, SkyRays and other Crisis Suits, not to mention the Devilfish (including loveboat) opened up everything on that assault squad.

The last three men went down to Broadside shots (one each) and the last to concentrated gundrone fire (I was desparate). Throughout the game, gundrones killed about 4 marines. I have to note that I failed to request a single pinning test throughout ... doh!

With a small assault squad still in range, I ducked the Crisis Suits out of sight and barricaded the door with two two drones squads of gundrones.

On the right flank, the Kroot moved up to open a volley on the Assault marines. They manage to down two troopers, leaving eight assault marines to engage in the attack.

NB: At this stage, I still felt vulnerable, despite wiping out the immediate threat, there were still lots of close combat monsters in range ... but I had managed to turn a weak play into a stronger one. I had a strong hand at a draw and an outside chance at a win?


The Jump pack Assault Command Squad (Reclusiarch and Captain intact) moved up to the bottom of the building I held with my abandoned fire warriors. The other squad ran forward, positioning for my objective. Meanwhile the far 'kroot hating' assault squad made ready to charge, popping a few krooty on the way in (that's just mean).

Meanwhile the smaller assault squad started out towards the Kroot as well. Probably looking to deny me a draw. Ho-hum.

The kroot got jumped. The 9 Kroothounds went first and downed 3 marines (woop!), the Marines went second a killed 5 hounds (sorry hounds, but your work was done). Then the normal Kroot killed a further marine. I'd lost the combat! With only Ld7, reduced to leadership 6 - I rolled ... a 3! Ironically, he'd killed a quarter of my troupe, while I'd killed half of his, things started to look a little more lucky.

TURN 4 - "Can the Tau really, really win this one?"


Once again I found myself facing a kill-all unit with the whole of my army. Luckily for me, Mark had placed the 'thunder hammer' of this captain through a window. Otherwise half my army couldn't shoot at his. He was reluctant to remove that model (oddly really). And paid dear. By the time my pulse batteries were empty, only the Reclusiarch, Sergeant and Captain had survived.

The Kroot battled on against the Marines. The hounds killing a further 1 marine, the marines fluffed their attacks, killing a single kroot (despite no body armour - amazing!). The kroot (probably sensing victory) then cut the whole unit down to a single man. Who failed his leadership.

He was easily within 'running off the board' range on 3D6, but I managed to catch him with my paltry I3. At which point, the 'massacre' turned into a 'business as usual' as the marine pulled the 'I don't like leadership rules' rule and held my boys up another turn. Grrr.


The Kroot win a worthy victory ... who's needs armour, its overrated ... chow down lads!

The command leftovers mounted the parapet and quickly slaughtered the fire warriors, denying me a scoring unit within 6" of the objective. Meanwhile the assault squad moved up to stalking range of my objective and the dreadnought shot a fire warrior (prior to their slaughter). The mini-jump squad beavered off towards the other side of the board and the Kroot finally, finally got the victory they deserve ... killing that last marine.

TURN 5 - "tying it up!"


The Crisis Suits, Piranha and markerlights lit up the retreating mini-jump pack troops. The Kroot moved into position, ready to take a shot too. It wasn't necessary, as the last remaining markerlight hits gave me BS5 on the crisis suits (Targeting Arrays too) and a smart missile in the back. The fusion gun on the piranha missed ... again. But the 3 marines died. The Kroot then ran to the objective. Secure.

How secure is my objective (the gun in the middle) ... not much.

Meanwhile, the Tau'Va Shas'El targeted an immobile Dreadnought in the back at point blank range with a fusion gun and err missed. What is it with melta and this game?!? That dreadnought must have been break-dancing his heart out to dodge that shot!

The rest of my army moved up, comfortably contesting my objective and offloading a mountain of firepower on the command squad. Plasma and Railguns don't mix with power armour. Three 'poofs' (in the non-sexual sense I assure you!) later and the day appeared to be mine.


With only an immobile Dreadnought, a battered assault squad and some dead drop-pods, Mark ceded defeat.


Mark was a top opponent throughout, and a top laugh. Considering he 'almost had me' for two turns, he took the final scoreline well ... I don't think it reflected the game.

It was a bit of a surprise, not just to win - which I would have given myself an outside chance at ... but to win convincingly?!? The dice were hard on Mark, especially with the Kroot combat at the top, but I thought I was going to get trounced ... so what went wrong.

Mark had killed barely 317pts of Tau, compared to a nigh on elimination. We have a lengthy after game chat (always necessary after a drubbing), and we discussed his options...
  1. He should have come harder and faster at me. Alike to our previous game, he'd let me distract him with sacrificial units (pathfinders, empty Devilfish, flanking Kroot) when he should have been in my face killing Crisis Suits and Broadsides. By coming in waves he gave me the chance to 'concentrate firepower' on one squad after another... allowing me to win.
  2. The immobilising of the dreadnought was a real blow, as he immediately lost an excellent antitank monster. It could still shoot, but only at Pathfinders and Fire Warriors - wasted. However, one Dreadnought on a board against Tau was never going to last long ...
  3. All troops, nearly all jumping was a masterful stroke. It undermined my Broadsides, Crisis Suits and Piranha, who carried on regardless, but were misled by the lack of armour. It made a mockery of my tactics, and had me on the backfoot, with no clear plan beyond 'get away, get away'. For the first two turns Mark was completely in charge, but failed to drive home the stake. In addition, all those points I spent for disruption pods were made useless as MArk ONLY fire from <12".
  4. He failed to 'close the box'. Mark admitted afterwards to a perennial fear of the deep strike and the didn't want to risk losing drop pods by going too close to the board edge. However, if he'd dropped a pod on my far left flank I would have been trapped between the anvil and hammer, and my crisis suits and broadsides would have bought it.
Suggestions in the list. Although, you are going against Tau - two Dreadnoughts in drop pods would have been an awesome combo. In addition, the attachment of a Sanguinary Priest would have made all my S7, high AP shots pretty pointless.

  1. Targetting arrays do help, although twin linked would have been better - saving me many many points.
  2. SkyRays are useless against Guard, but awesome against Marines. All that AV11 and AV12 armour, combined with a S8 AP3 missile for instant-gibbing the enemy... nice.
  3. Broadsides are awesome, whatever the weather. As demonstrated in my game against Deamons, the twin linked Railgun spoke again and again this game. Although shooting on Assault marine felt like a total waste.
  4. Piranha, its an ace in the hole. That speed gives you real tactical advantage. It did very little, but played backup to a load of options which came off, well worth it.
  5. Gundrones were the star of this game. When not blocking deep strikes, they were playing anti-charge screens and repeatedly taking hits for the 'big dudes' and killing marines. Again, against guard, I find them pathetic - against marines they are invaluable.
  6. Need more plasma rifles. I really missed out on the lack of plasma in this game. Build more.
  7. Fusion sucks. Most of marks melta and my fusion either missed, failed to penetrate or was negated by cover saves.
  8. Markerlights are my favourite thing. Hands down.
So chalk up a good result for the old Tau.
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