Friday, September 18, 2009

Ravenwing VS. Tau: Speeding gets you

Old Shatter Hands slammed the digi-tablet on the makeshift desk before him. "Why have you brought this Gue'la here, Centurion? He is obviously a renegade and a liar, worth nothing to us!"

"Esteemed Shas'El, he claims to be hunted. He has asked for asylum in exchange for military secrets of the Gue'la." rebuked Centurion. "He wears their battlesuit armor and displays official symbols codifying high rank." Centurion paused and held his composure. "He has pledged his alliance. The Ethereals will be pleased." He placed his hand on Old Shatter Hands' shoulder. "Trust me, the information he provides could help bring an end to the war and victory to the Empire."

Old Shatter Hands looked up at his cousin, his eyes darkened from months upon months of XV8 hard-wiring. "I...have fought long, cousin...Do you believe this human? Is he who he says he is?"

"He is certainly a Space Marine, my lord, genetically modified. One of a higher rank. And old at that, he has lived many, many years. Who knows what secrets the Water Caste can glean from his ancient mind?"

"Why, then, does he seek asylum from our kind? What has driven this Gue'la to this state? If he is of high rank then why does dirt and grime cake his robes? His armor is chipped and unkempt-"
All of the sudden there was a blip on the digi-tablet. Old Shatter Hands' face hardened. "Enemy forces approach, my friend. Tell the Shas'la to cloak the Devilfish APCs. Send the Piranha pilots on a reconnisance run. I want to blast these Gue'la from this sector once and for all!"

My good friend, Brian, met up once again for our weekly battle. Brian decided to bring a fully-themed Ravenwing force to the game. His army sports 4 full Ravenwing biker squads, three Attack Bikes with multi-meltas, and three Land Speeder Tornados. In a change from last time, Samuel came mounted on a land speeder. The army is fast, sports lots of melta-weapons and the entire army with the exception of Samuel can outflank. That coupled with the fact that every unit counts as as scoring unit, even the Speeders (check Codex: Dark Angles, it's written in plain English), means that this army would simply dominate any objective based game. This is what I was worried about and I looked across the board at his force.

The list I brought was one I quickly jotted down after reading recent posts on Warhammer Tau. I wanted to focus the killing power of the Tau army while keeping it mobile. This is what I came up with.

Old Shatter Hands
1 Shas'el, Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Target Array, Hard-Wired Multi-tracker
1 Shas'el, Plasma Rifle, Cyclic Ion Blaster, Target Array, Hard-Wired Multi-tracker

3 Deathrains, Twin-linked Missile Pods and Flamers.

3 Fire Knives, Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker. Team leader with Target Array, Hard-Wired Multi-tracker.

2 Piranhas Squadron, Fusion Blaster, Target Array, Flachette Discharger

6 Fire Warriors, Devilfish, MultiTracker, Disruption Pod, Flachette Discharger

6 Fire Warriors, Devilfish, MultiTracker, Disruption Pod, Flachette Discharger

6 Fire Warriors, Devilfish, MultiTracker, Disruption Pod, Flachette Discharger

2 Broadsides with Advanced Stabilization System and 2 Shield Drones

Hammerhead, Flachette Discharger, Disruption Pod, MultiTracker, Burst Cannons.

Hammerhead, Flachette Discharger, Disruption Pod, MultiTracker, SMS.

Mission: Annihilation
Deployment: Spearhead

I asked Brian to roll for mission, a 5. Annihiliation! This is good and bad. The Ravenwing force has a lot of weak units; lone attack bikes, single speeders flying around, etc. However, my Tau had nearly double the amount of kill points total! We both had our weaknesses in this scenario.

Spearhead was rolled for depoyment and Brian won the dice roll for first turn and chose to go first. With all of his scout moves, Brian's Ravenwing bikers could get in to assault, rapid-fire and melta range in the first turn, potentially crippling the Tau force before they've had a chance to act. Brian decided to deploy everything on the board. I was relieved, no outflankers...

During my deployment, I decided to only place my durable units that I needed for early game kills. That meant that my two Hammerheads, Broadsides and Crisis Suits were the only things deployed. The piranhas and 3 devilfish were held in reserve (or cloaked as I like to say, it's just more Tau-like).

Brian made his scout moves and then it was time for seizing intiative. Most of the time I wouldn't do so, but there were so many Ravenwingers out in the open. I picked up the dice and rolled a 6!

Turn 1.
First order of business, Old Shatter Hands commands the force to castle up, brace for impact! Hammerhead out in front, Battlesuits hiding behind them, the Broadsides were placed on the top floor of a building with a commanding view of the battlefield. My hammerheads were going to be my attack/distraction unit. I decided early on that they were not as valuable as my Battlesuits in this game so their job was to absorb all of those melta-shots that could otherwise instant-death my XV8s. So the first thing I did was move one out to act as a lure. The second skimmer-tank then moved to provide mobile cover for the XV8s.

Old Shatter Hands called a target, "Bikers at 11 O'Clock! Shas'la-open fire!"
By the end of the shooting phase, I had blasted an entire biker squad to smitherines and dropped a couple casualties in a second squad. With the dust settled, the XV8s then moved to hide behind the Hammerheads.

The Dark Angels, obviously shaken by the raining bullets, moved to cover. One squad moved behind a building on my left to begin flanking me.
Then a second squad turbo-boosted to a building my right, but did not make it fully out of sight. As expected, the attack bikes moved out to take shots on my Heads, while a third biker squad turbo-boosted in front of them to provide cover to the attack bikes. Samuel lead the three Land Speeders to support the flanking force on my right. He was positioned in a way as to provide cover to the speeders behind him, while he turboboosted for his own cover, the others moved at cruising speed and opened fire on the Broadsides to little effect.

The Attack Bikes let loose with their melta but only managed to stun one of my Heads.

Turn 2.
As the Ravenwing closed, I began to see that very quickly I would be getting assaulted. Something had to be done to remove the threats encircling me. This turn a Devilfish became uncloaked (arrived from reserves) and I placed it amongst my small defensive parameter on the right side. I wasn't really thinking beyond my immediate needs of protecting my force and looking back I see this may have been foolish as it soundly got trashed, awarding 3 kill points to my opponent. Regardless, at this stage I was focused on survival.

"Shas'la, we're being surrounded. Centurion, move to the right. I want all fire on the right!"

With Old Shatter Hands command, all units targeted the bikers on the right, wiping out all but two of them. Luckily, they were not in position to assault my XV8s. This still left me with two problems. 1. The Attack Bikers and an accompanying squad was in position to trash both Hammerheads and 2. An attack bike was left on my right to attack the Devilfish.

The Ravenwing attack came strong. First the attack bike on the right moved into position to melt my devilfish, negating the disruption pod's cover save. With the devilfish destroyed, a squad of bikers assaulted my exposed fire warriors. The ensuing assault was a draw, locking the fire warriors and bikers in a life or death struggle until the last turn of the game. The Speeders gunned down the Broadside to a man and the bikers on the left, caused a number of wounds on the XV8 Fireknives and Shas'el, without causing a casualty.

Turn 3
The remaining 2 Devilfish revealed their positions on the far right, ready to spring an ambush on the Land Speeders. With only burst cannons and drones, I needed to roll high to knock the speeders from the sky. My luck this game had been going well and it only continued as the 2 Devilfish knocked out 2 land Speeders for 2 more kill points. It was then that I realized that my earlier Devilfish should have come in over here as well. "Curses!"

To my left, a full squad of plasma toting bikers was flanking me. Old Shatter Hands split off from the Deathrain Suits and joined Centurion and the Fire Knives, bringing the squad size up to 5 Crisis Suits. I knew that the combined fire was going to cause lots of damage on the bikers, but if not, the bikers would be in position to assault. By adding Old Shatter to this unit, I increased their ability to withstand an assault in the next turn, should it come to that.

My caution was not misplaced but unneeded in the end. The 5 rapid-firing plasma rifles, 4 missile pods and 1 Cyclic Ion Blaster were enough to wipe out the squad. The XV8s were safe. Centurion briefly nodding to his cousin in thanks.

Turn 4
The Deathrains focused fire on the attack bike that had melted the Devilfish, but they only caused one wound. However, this left them to get assaulted in the next turn. Instead of taking the assault, I decided that the XV8s should assault the attack bike and hopefully cause one more wound to knock the bike out for another kill point. Unfortunately their assault was not successful and they managed to lock themselves in combat.
The Piranha came on and moved to support the Devilfish. Since they had no targets to claim, I moved them flat out to claim a cover save. the Devilfish then took out another Speeder. Next Turn the piranha would set their sights on Samuel.
The remnants of the Ravenwing force pressed on. The Deathrain were assaulted by another squad of bikers and Old Shatter Hands himself, found himself in assault but managed to fight off the two bikers. The Attack Bike that had just finished off the Deathrain moved and melted the last Hammerhead. The Master of the Ravenwing fired into the devilfish but got no luck on rending rolls so did no damage.
An assault with a Hammerhead finished it off but the bikers took no casualties from the explosion.

Turn 6 and 7
Even with smoking wrecks of two Hammerheads and the Deathrains destroyed, the Ravenwing force was beginning to wither away. Old Shatterhands called out for the Mont'ka. "Deliver the Killing Blow! Shas'La! Leave none of them alive!" And his bloodied force rolled out to mop up the surviving bikers. The Piranhas failed to melt the Master of the Ravenwing, so sped off to a corner while Fire Warriors jumped from their APCs to rapid fire the rear armor of the shielded speeder. The remaining XV8 reigned plasma fire on their foes, the white-hot bolts punching through the inferior Gue'Vesa armor. As the dust settled, only one model survived the fury of the Tau'Va; a single attack bike.
Final Score
Tau: 10 Kill Points out of 11 possible.
Ravenwing; 8 Kill Points out of 18 possible.
Victory for the Tau!

In retrospect, this may have been a victory for the Tau, but it was still very close. I made some mistakes here and there. For example, the first Devilfish that came out of cloak (reserves) should have been placed elsewhere. Placing it where I did only put it in melta range. Mostly, however, I am really happy with this new list. It's got speed, firepower and durability. It lacks what all Tau lists lack, close combat ability and rock hard discipline. (leadership problems).

For the Ravenwing, Brian and I chatted about his army. I believe his list is sound and it's only practice that he needs to perfect it. I also suggest that every game he place everything in reserve and outflank with anything that can. This game would have gone very differently if he had done so.

Sorry for the poor quality of the photos. Something was off and I wasn't able to correct it during play and I was running on low-bat.


Jason said...

Enjoy the report. =)

Raptor1313 said...

Solid report. I'd tell you to go all Fireknives, but that's me and personal preference.

I'm not surprised plasma and missiles and such minced the bikes; they're not a lot of models and they rely on T5 and speed to not die. Doesn't help when the whole other army is geared to shoot anything with a toughness to death.

I'm not so sure about outflanking the whole Ravenwing force. It's a small force by nature, you have no real reserves manipulation, and coming on piecemal will get you killed. They respond by screening to your melta, and castling, and it's an uphill battle for ythe Ravenwing.

suneokun said...

Great batrep. I like the use of the multiple fast crisis suit teams to 'pounce' on the squads.

Although your tactics were sound, Tau were built to take Ravenwing (or Deathwing for that matter) - ie any DarkAngels...

The high points mean few targets and the power armour and high toughness are putty in the Shatterhands palm.

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Sunekun-so true, Tau eat Ravenwing for breakfast. During the game I was starting to feel bad about beating this army for the umpteenth time. I think the ravenwing do have chance though. They could pop our vehicles by closing witihin 12 inches easily but need to coordinate their attacks well so they can weather the Tau counter-fire.

After the game, I challenged my buddy to bring the most "broken" Orks Nobz Bikerz list to the table next week. Expect a battle report next Monday as well.

Apollo said...

Great battle rep. I've seen the Ravenwings in action before and it's once again a case of something which looks nice on paper but impractical in a serious battle...against the Tau. Looking forward to seeing a battle against the Ork Bikers!

Jacob said...

This was a great read, thanks for posting! Although I have one fluff critique. Gue'vesa is a term used for human allies to the Tau. Gue'la is used for all other humans. They way you had it, the Tau were fighting their own allies the whole time! (Yes, I'm a nerd.)

Old Shatter Hands said...

@jason. Slaps forehead, DOH!. Thats what I get for not checking me facts before writing that up...thanks for the correction.

witxh_doctor said...

Really enjoyed the battle report. What I find interesting are all the “naked” squads. Before my Tau went on vacation after the start of 5th edition, I was running bonded Fire Warrior squads in War-fishes, bonded Crisis units with shield drones and small units of Pathfinders. Reading both the Tau of War and Warhammer Tau Blogs I am seeing a shift toward a lighter list. I will have to think about these changes you are trying and maybe drag my Tau back out for some game time.

Old Shatter Hands said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Old Shatter Hands said...

What's happened is that if you're building a mech list, there really is no need to have FW squads larger than 6 because they are present only to make devilfish scoring. And I used to use SMS but it is over-priced for what you get. Yeah its great to reduce the number of kill-points in your army but, eh, I'd rather have more points for other guns.

This list is really barebones, if you don't count the flachettes. those are frill and I could go without them.

Basically the problem is that the Tau codex is now over-priced compared to contempory codices. So I've removed the frills and crammed as much mobile firepower in there as I can, while balancing the need for troops and a fast skimmer unit to contest an objective turn 5.

Anonymous said...

How many points was it?

Old Shatter Hands said...

I think 1850.