Monday, March 29, 2010

Frag Tournament, March 27th

Saturday, March 27th, I drove up to Glen Burnie with a friend to throw down at a Frederick Area Gamers Tournament. There were roughly 18 players present, 9 tables and pretty much good times all around. I took a cadre that I posted previously. I had little time to practice with this list in advance but I did fairly well with the army.

First game I was matched up with my long time adversary, Brian F., known on blogger as Mon-Keigh Reaper. The mission was old-school. Table Quarters and Victory Points and aptly named Cleanse, a throw-back from 3rd and 4th edition.

Brian brought his Ravenwing army with him and while thought it was going to be an easy kill, he did some things that I didn't expect. First of all he outflanked two or three attack bikes with multimeltas. Although I took first turn by seizing the initiative, turns one and two used the nightfight rules and he was able to pounce on my lines under the cover of darkness.

I also tried something new with this list. After reading Fritz's recent articles on the Null Deployment, I decided that I was going to play around with my reserves. I deep-struck all of my suits, reserved my Mechanized Fire Warriors and Piranhas and outflanked my Kroot. The goal was to have an army that would hit him from all sides. I would simply not have a zone to protect, but I would be at all places at once. The strategy is risky, but I felt it was necessary because I knew if I simply set up, the nightfight rules would allow Brian's Bikers to hit my squads on turn two to wipe me out. It only half-worked. My Pathfinder's Devilfish got wrecked so I couldn't re-roll deepstrike on my suits and I lost 4 Battlesuits to a horrible accident! In addition to that, his mobility and multiple numbers of scoring units won Brian the game on Turn 5. If we had gone one more turn, it might have been a different story as I still had a core force that could have killed off his remnant squads. I still have a lot to learn about Null Deployment. Good thing Fritz just posted 3 new videos to Youtube.

I must say that I really like how Brian's army is turning out. He's kept it strictly Ravenwing and he's nearly completed painting the majority of his Bikers. He's also learning how to protect his "weak" units like his Speeders and attack bikes, making them more effective and dangerous. I'm not going to go into too much details as I've already gone loads of Battle Reports against this army.

Although it was a  loss for me, I had claimed just shy of 1,000 points of victory points. I knew my army had the potential to rip marines to shreds and preliminary tests of the Tau Null Deployment are promising. So I was excited about the next game.

My new match-up against the Fabulous Orcboy, a regular reader here and an all around nice guy, had my Cadre meeting the Hammer of the Emperor in Urban Warfare. The game was a great time. Guardsmen poured fire from rooftops,  infantry crawled across mangled ruins and the outnumbered Tau Battlesuits and grav-tanks desperately weathering the horrendous pummeling from the Imperial Guard.  Very cinematic.

I am always amazed at the vast amount of firepower the Imperial Guard can bring to the table. Fortunately for me, the Orcboy (who's crotch can be seen above) had set up the majority of his forces on one side of the board. So I deployed on the other, relying on the range of railguns to do damage. Win-conditions were based on Kill Points.

The Imperial Guardsmen seemed to have a seasoned distaste for the Valkyrie's mark as the Pathfinders were the first to meet their hot lead. Once eliminated the Broadsides took on the brunt of IG shooting. They held out to enemy fire, autocannon and las fire ricocheting off their battlesuit armor. Evenutally they fell to the weight of fire, the last of their team fell around turn 4 or so. The Imperial Guard can really pump out the shots but with luck, Disruption Pods and careful use of terrain, the Tau army can be surprisingly resilient. my Grav-tanks managed to hold out till the end, with the exception of a Devilfish or two.

There were many highlights for me. Old Shatter Hands and bodyguard deepstriking down behind enemy lines in the last 2 minutes of the game, blasting a Leman Russ off the board for a final Kill Point and extra battle points for killing the most expensive unit. My Fire Warriors got some fighting in this game and I  was glad I had decided to field 8 of them in their 'fish. At one point in the game, one of my 'fish tank-shocked a large unit of Guardsmen, who fled in terror from the Xenos grav-tank. My detached Gun Drones escorted them off the board but tactically it was an error. I ended up trading kill point for a kill point by that move when I could have simply let them run and hope they failed to regroup.

End game kill point 7-6, Orcboy victory. What really lost me the game were the detached Gun Drones. Easy kills for the massed of autocannon fire peppering the ruined city. However. I did manage to get the secondary and tertiary objectives, bumping me up to table 6!

This table, once again a Cityfight themed board, had me matched up against Space Wolves. There were tall buildings and loads of cover in the deployment zone, but surprising little out in no-man's land. My opponent, Tom, showed me his list but I was too tired at this point to read it and instead went by the visual account of his army. He won first turn deployed a line of Rhinos and 'speeders and told me something about reserves but I didn't catch it.

This game's mission was to claim an objective in the center of the board. There were two other objectives that oly gave you bonus points. Whoever claimed the middle objective, won the game. With that task, I decided to deploy all of my non-essential units: the Pathfinders, the Skyray, the Crisis suits and Broadsides. I reserved my piranhas, all of my Devilfish and my Hammerhead for some help late game.

It was a good thing too because Tom had 4 pods in reserve which he didn't tell me about! Wolf Guard and Dreadnoughts rained from the sky and wrecked some key units. My Skyray was turned to white-hot molten metal. Old Shatter Hands and his boys had holes ripped through their torsos in the flurry of fire from the Wolf Guard. My Broadsides got punked by Jaws of the World Wolf and my hope of wearing a wolf-pelt home was shattered.

To be honest I was a little ticked at myself because Tom had told me units were in reserve but he did not show me what they were. I was tired and I failed to query any further. He had his pods in cases during deployment and I had not made a point of inspecting further. He gave me his list which was a little hard to read, (does anyone else find the Army Builder printouts difficult to look at?). In his run down of the army, he didn't say anything about pods. Was he keeping it secret? Or was it my fault that I failed to ask?

No matter what surprises Tom had for me, I was going to stick to the plan. Play the mission, keep moving and be smart. My first turn out, I decided to take out his fast units. My Broadside were at the top of a building with a wide range of fire. I could choose my targets. Who would it be?

The Broadside Team Leader called out, "Shas'Ui! The trap is set, you know your task." The hulking suits took aim and let loose with their particle accelerators  In an instant, three flaming wrecks fell from the sky. Three Space Wolf Speeders were done for.

Next order of business, knock out the rhinos. My Deathrains had one chance and one chance only. The following turn they would be dead. They let fly their missiles and immobilized a Rhino. Sidestriker too took aim and wrecked a Rhino. The next turn, one more Rhino got wreck by my fire. The first phase of the plan was complete. I had lured Tom to my board edge and knocked out his mobility. Now it mattered little what deaths were in store for my Elites and Heavy Support. Only my troops mattered now

On to the next phase.

Tom liked to spring surprises so I sprung one of my own. My Pathfinder's Devilfish, which was empty, made a mock-play for the objective. Assuming this decoy 'Fish was moving to claim the objective, the Space Wolves moved out to attack it. When it was wrecked and nothing piled out, the Space Wolves paused a moment in disbelief.

Then my Hammerhead came on and took aim. It downed the final Speeder, removing th threat of any Turn 5 objective grabs. I made a couple attacks with Sidestriker to draw attention. Crisis Suits act like magnets and the wolves went after Sidestriker and away from the objective. All the while my troop carriers moved into position.

The Space Wolves had been so pre-occupied with and successful at destroying my army that my opponent did not try to claim the objectve.

Turn 4 came and the 20-minute warning was made. Time to bomb the only objective that mattered. My troop carriers glided over the heads of Grey Hunters to the objective. These Grey Hunter were the only unit able to contest the objective at this point. The Fire Warriors on the objective disembarked to rapid fire. I knew it wouldn't be enough. I called on the one strength the Tau Empire has that no other army can claim as well as us. Mobile Firepower: the ability to bring the weight of your entire army on one point of the battle field. My piranhas moved into range. Another squad of Fire Warriors disembarked and set up shots. Remnant drones, scattered across the board, moved into position. There were 8 Grey Hunters to kill. I had no AP3 wepaons. Just massed S5, AP5 weapons.

I rolled the dice. Again and again. When I was finished, the wolves were gone. Game over, Tau victory! While I complain about the poor state of Tau in 5th edition, I must say that only in 5th edition can you get your ass kicked for 5 turns and still win the game!


Pete W said...

Great stuff OSH. It sounds like your new army really has some killing potential and survivability.

I like also how you really played around with movement, deployment and let the big profile guys take the fall so that you could win the objective. It's true that a crisis suit is a tempting target and you can easily spend so much effort on killing them.

suneokun said...

I HATE armybuilder printouts! They are completely undecipherable to anyone with a brain. What's worng with a simple list? Written in pencil, preferably!

I'm glad to see the firewarriors pull back a smackdown on the Gue'la wolves. Great victory!

ehemkeh said...

As always, an enjoyable read here on your blog. I find your descriptions and game reports inspirational.

I have a 1500 pt tournament this weekend. I'm going to run a Farsight list and am looking forward to it. Have you ever run a Farsight list? I've been having success in casual games lately with him.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Farsight is definitely on my mind lately. I am 100% percent considering adding him to my Cadre. He will provide some much needed counter assault power. I would rather attach him to an XV8 squad instead of giving him a huge retinue. That way you can break and assault without dragging those precious suits with him.

ehemkeh said...

Currently I am running him with 2 'vre, just to have suits at WS 3 instead of 'ui at WS 2. One BG has iridium armor and two shield drones, the other has the failsafe detonator to help Farsight get away from sweeping advance to live and shoot again.

I have Farsight modelled from Shas'o Rymr from Forgeworld with a Wraithlord sword. He looks sweet :o)

I just hate that I cannot use Kroot :o(

CJ said...

YEAH Long life the TAU, what a great last turn victory. bit of a pity on the pods. But still seems like your null zone tactics and reserve schemes are really working out for you. I still think that for the mobility shooting game Tau are so much better then Eldar.

Great stuff and looking forward to the next one.

Cheers CJ

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed these battle reports. Rather than a blow by blow 10 page essay, you shortened it to the core strategies used and exciting moments. This way I had fun reading all three and learned a new strategy. The null deployment concept was new to me, and I think it may help in the future. I just started 40k, and Tau in particular. I'd just like to say your blog is a favorite of mine, and I just noticed we use a nearly identical Tau color scheme. (total coincidence, since I didn't find this site until I painted my first couple Firewarriors.) Love this blog, keep up the great work! -Gus

Old Shatter Hands said...

@ Anon, Thanks Gus. Null deployment can work with Tau but its a little trickier and you have to build your list a little differently. Watching Fritz's new videos that went up today I've got a lot of ideas about how to make it work for the Tau. (I am thinking more kroot and stealth suits more to come as I test it out.)

@Suneokun, effing army builder. It's like it's made to be difficult to read. Too much info.

The Fabulous Orcboy said...

OSH -- I'm thinking that the Null Deployment concept is interesting, but that the Tau have the wrong kind of army concept to pull it off.

In our game this last weekend, I ended up deploying very poorly, but your Tau were unable to really take advantage of my deployment because a number of your punchy units were largely in reserve, rather than able to throw shots into my forces from the get-go.

So with my Officer of the Fleet slowing down your reserves, they trickled on into the face of a ton of relatively static IG firepower.

I'm thinking Tyranids and Marines (and probably BA) can pull off a "Null Deployment" due to speed or nasty special character combos or stacking +1 bonuses to reserve rolls -- and also (and most importantly) because they are also a close-range and melee threat.

I'm not sure that Tau can really pose that kind of threat. But I remain interested in seeing what you do with the concept of a Null Deployment.

Old Shatter Hands said...

What's up, Orcboy? I have to re-work my list in order for it to work. The list I was fielding at the tournament wasn't really best-suited for the strategy. Most of all, it is for an different twist on playing the game. I think holding my units in reserve worked out great in our game actually. If I hadn't, my deployment zone would have been too full and I would have had to deploy units in range of your guns. my mistakes in the game were 1) deploying that one Shas'El alone and not protecting him 2) giving up a kill point by having my drones chase you down. I think the reserves were sound.

IG players take master of the fleet to discourage you from reserving units. They want you to set your units so they can blow them away in Turn 1. So I'm not going to play into that. Besides I would rather have my reserves come in late-game anyway. Less time for you to kill them.

The Fabulous Orcboy said...

Mmm, I'm not convinced. Maybe in a tournament setting where you're expecting the game to only go 4 or 5 turns due to time limits, the trickling-in will work. Most of what allowed the reserve concept to (almost) work for you in our game was:

(a) that I set up very badly. Relying on your opponent to make mistakes seems like an odd way to try and win strategy games.

(b) making a statistically unlikely series of D-Pod cover saves on your vehicles. When you're making nearly 80% of your cover saves, you're bound to have a regression to the mean.

In a normal 5+ turn game, this Null Deployment thing means that you're taking away the one thing that Tau are good at (more shooting phases) in exchange for the bottom of the final turn... an "Omega Strike", then?

Seems like a very risky way to run a 40K game. Actually, seems like the "Ninja Strike" Tau concept that ATT has been throwing around for a while. Regardless, if that's your interest, don't forget to include a Positional Relay in your modified list :)