Friday, October 23, 2009

Piranha Attack Wing Takes on the Sons of the Sky-Wolf

Last night saw an intense game against my old nemesis, Alex. I had a report about a game with him and Mech Eldar a couple weeks ago. Alex is a really good player. I have only beaten him once before but that was back when he hadn’t really honed his nurgle list at the time. A couple nights ago, he got in his new Space Wolves Army consisting of 5 Drop Pods, 2 packs of wolf scouts, Wolf Guard Terminators, 4 packs of grey hunters, 2 Rune Priests and Grimnar leading a Long Fangs unit. The list has Melta in every squad save for the scouts who are only armed with Melta bombs. Alex hasn’t finished assembling this army yet, but he really wanted to try it out. For the most part my army of Tau was facing the Space Marines of the Iron Pants Legion, meaning that a lot of his models were simple legs stuck to bases. That’s why I decided not to take any photos for you all. I forgive him for that because he’s fun and challenging to play against and because I really wanted to try my hand at swatting down some wolves.

Disclaimer: This was also a test game for me. With 2,000 points at my disposal, I decided to try out a squadron of 5 piranhas with Disruption Pods, Flechette Launchers, Targeting Array and Fusion Blasters. Before the game I brought it up to Alex that I was giving all my piranhas in the squadron flechette dischargers. explained that the rules were ambiguous as to how this wargear worked in squadrons. After stating my position, that given that all had flechettes, I would get 5 rolls to wound per attacker. I cautioned him that this would mean 2-3 wounds per attacker which could wipe a squad out before they got to attack. He questioned it but giving that it is a conditional ability (you have to choose to assault the unit for it to work), that there is no ruling from GW and the rules are ambiguous, he allowed it.

Seize Ground, 3 objectives, and Spearhead Deployment.
Two objectives were placed in the middle of the board and the one I placed was 12 inches from the table edge, as close as possible to the corner. I won the roll for first turn but passed it to Alex. He deploys nothing- everything in reserve –Drop Pod Assault. The Wolf Scouts went behind enemy lines. My turn to deploy: not wanting to set up my models for him to destroy Turn 1, I also reserve everything and deepstrike my fireknives. We both start the game with nothing on the board.

Bursting through the clouds, the Space Wolf drop pods crash from the heavens to the rocky earth of Chronus. Their quarry however go unseen. The Tau, have cloaked their forces with a technology so sophisticated that even the enhanced senses of the Canis Helix cannot detect their presence. Grimnar’s instinct tells him the Xenos are close. He commands Gnarl and Lograr, the war-party’s Rune Priests, to call upon the storm-spirits to protect their battle-brothers. The Grey Hunters move to secure ground and dig in, taking cover behind their pods.
First and Second turn, his pods all land and he forms a “base” in the center of the board covering two objectives. His 2 Rune Priest evoke the power of the storm. One gives a 5+ cover save to all units within 6 inches and the other calls strong winds to make all skimmers and jump pack troops (my XV8s) within 24 inches make dangerous terrain tests. His scouts come in on my left flank and take cover in a rocky outcrop.
My Second turn, only my 3 Broadsides and 1 Devilfish come in. I’m not ready to make a play for any objectives so I move my ‘fish out to conduct a Fish of Fury maneuver on the scouts. It’s not really a serious attempt though as I’ve only got 6 Shas’la embarked. My broadsides come in on the center of the board but a little to the left. Shas’la deploy and lay down fire, but only manage to fell two Scouts. The Broadsides fire off their Smart Missiles on the Scouts as well, felling only one. The Scouts hold and ready their chainswords with a roar.

With the cowardly Tau finally revealing their positions, the Wolf Scouts jump from hiding to attack the giant Broadsides. The other Sons of Russ secure their hold on the position while laying down disciplined fire. In retaliation, the Tau Grav-Tanks arrive to unleash a punishing volley of fire.
Turn 3, the Space Wolves begin to surround their already claimed objectives. Rune Priests again throw up their wintry powers. Grimnar gives his unit of Long Fangs fearless and they move to the right flank, to begin to cover the far right objective I’ve been eying since it was placed. A squad of Grey Hunters moves out to claim the third objective, revealing themselves from behind their Drop Pod. Another squad of Scouts show up and assault the Broadsides wiping them out. Fire Warriors get flamed and the Devilfish gets immobilized somehow I cannot remember how. In the Tau Turn, my Fire Knives deepstrike behind the wolves but epic fail on their shooting. Two hammerheads come on the right flank along with a Devilfish to make a play for the objective. One Hammerhead moves forward and reigns fire on a pack of Grey Hunters, sending four of them to the Happy Hunting Grounds above.

“For the All-Father, OPEN FIRE!” bellows Grimnar. The Long Fangs’ weapons burn the air as melta-bolts fry the Tau FireKnife battlesuits. Only the Tau’Va is on their dying breath.Grimnar turns to the Grey Hunters, “Watch those Grav-Tanks, Toki!” Skulking back from the Grav-Tanks, the Grey Hunters take cover behind their Pod, fearing another round of pulse and railgun fire.
Space Wolves Turn 4, the Cyclone Missile Launchers of the Wolf Guard let fly and blast one of my Hammerhead’s railguns clean off. Grimnar gives his squad of Long Fangs relentless and they move out to melt my XV8s who get wiped out. The Grey Hunters on the right move back behind their Pod, ditching their attempt to claim the third objective. The rest of his army takes pot shots on my army and consolidate on their two objectives some more. Scouts on the left flank continue to wreck my Devilfish and Fire Warriors. At this point the Fish is immobile with no weapons and the fire warriors are wiped out.
My turn 4, Piranhas and my last Devilfish come on. My Devilfish positions to claim the right objective next turn. My one hammerhead with no railgun moves straight at the Wolves in the center of the board and fires off 6 pulse shots but doing little. My other Hammerhead moves up to target the skulking Grey Hunters again. My 5 piranhas (at 425 points) turbo-boost and surround an objective and grey hunters squad in the center of the board. They all make their dangerous terrain tests.

The Tau piranhas surround the Space Wolves like a shoal of sharks. The marines bring all their firepower to bear but the piranhas duck and weave, avoiding damage. With a great war-shout, the space wolves assault,but suddenly the very air becomes filled with sharp shards as the flechette dischargers released their jagged shrapnel. “By the sky-wolf,” Grimnar whispers to himself in shock.”We have been out-maneuvered.”
Space Wolves Turn 5, surrounded by Piranhas, the space wolves begin to focus fire on them. Every ranged weapon in the Space Wolf army fires on the skimmers. Incredible luck on my cover saves leaves the Piranhas miraculously unharmed. The Space Wolves then assault the Piranhas, however with the Squadron sporting 5 flechettes launchers I get 5 rolls of flechettes per attacker, leaving only the Wolf Guard Terminator and the Rune Priest alive. They attack but do not manage to roll any 6s.
Tau Turn Five, the Piranhas deploy their drones who move onto an objective to contest it. The Piranhas then turbo-boost to the other objective and contest it. The Devilfish moves onto an objective to claim it. I do some other attacks but it doesn’t matter. I let my friend roll to see if the game ends. He rolls a 1. Tau Victory.


Oh, it's you, Bob... said...

Great victory, OSH! I always appreciate your embellishment as well. As an aside, I have to say as scary as the Wolves seemed when I started reading the new Dex, of the few bat-reps I've seen, they haven't won once. A few draws, but no wins...interesting.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Pod Armies are vulnerable to an opponent who knows Fritz tactics. They basically mean the army is foot-slogging when you reserve everything. Like an spam list, there is a counter.

Jacob said...

This was a great battle report! Pirhana's are definitely looking more and more formidable the more I read about them. Does it seem like keeping the 5 vehicle squad in reserve is the best way to use them, or can they effectively start on the board?

Max said...

Excellent use of the most maligned of fish! And yes, from the FAQs that I've read the squad rules seem to allow all of the flechettes opening up on any assaulters. And if anyone complains, just remind them that this is one of the few ways they can be worth their points and that it's almost 500 points for the trick.

Old Shatter Hands said...

I'm not sure if it is best to always reserve your piranhas or not. This unit is meant to be my distraction unit but in this game it won the game for me. By keeping it in reserve I was able to keep alive until I needed it on turn 4. I am thinking that in Seize Ground missions this is the best use of your attack-wing. I am guessing that it is always better hold it in reserve if choose to go second. The unit is actually pretty fragile to autocannons and lootas etc. If you have to go first, I'd use it to block my enemies movement, and threaten his tanks, taking the pressure off my hammerheads.

suneokun said...

I've always wanted to run a piranha squadron... they're like the Chimera of the Tau list - too lucky by half!

The fritz tactic really worked - nice work.

And nice prose there as well ... really added pace to the piece and gave a real feel for the hard stolen victory!

Nice work Sah!

Old Shatter Hands said...

Thanks, Suneokun...
Hours and hours of reading Fritz's blog is paying off that's for sure.

Piranhas are the hidden gem of the Tau Codex...everyone assumes they suck because they think they are like open-topped SM speeders. But when fielded in large squadrons, they can be outright nasty. AV11 on the front helps a lot too!

Kroxitau said...

Ya I really want to take an exploding fishwall army sometime, but I do not have enough piranhas yet. They can do a lot of damage if used right.

I was thinking something like:
Hq- Burst cannon and TW flamer (for cheap cost)

2 squads of 6 FW with pulse carbines and EMP nades

3 squads of exploding fishwall (5 piranha with fusion, flechette, d-pods, target lock, and target array)

3 ionheads with the usual gear, plus flechette

A pretty mobile force that is more for fun than anything else but i think that it could cause a lot of problems since you can drop the drones on the piranhas for 3 separate units of 10 drones to contest or cause problems. The piranhas, take care of vehicles and transports, ionheads blast MeQ or other vehicles. FW run and hide maybe do some EMP, maybe not.