Monday, March 8, 2010

Tau Vs. Dark Angels and thoughts on reserves

Old Shatter Hands slammed the digi-tablet on the makeshift desk before him. "Why have you brought this Gue'la here, Sidestriker? 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 Sidestriker. "He wears their battlesuit armor and displays the official symbols codifying high rank." Sidestriker paused and held his composure. "He has pledged his alliance to the Empire. The Ethereals will be pleased.This is not simply another soldier but a Gue'la of once great esteem." 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. Bio-tests indicate that this Gue'la has lived 5 to 6 times you or I. 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. Are the Gue'la so fickle, so quarrelsome that they would cast out their own kind?"
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!" 

The Dark Angels Armored Spearhead moves out. 

Testing out my 1850 Tournament Army this past weekend, I went up against a Dark Angels Mechanized Force in a seize ground mission with objectives.My humble Tau Cadre faced 6 Rhinos filled with Tactical Marines, Veterans and Librarians and supported by the fire power of 2 Predators. 

While the interwebs are filled with whining about the Dark Angels Codex as compared to recent ones, the Dark Angels have one advantage over others in that they are equipped with old smoke launchers that downgrade all penetrating hits to glancing hits. That coupled with cover from intervening terrain and models, gives the tank two layers of protection. This certainly made it difficult for my Railguns and Missile Pods to pop all his Rhinos. As a consequence, by turn 3 my opponent had created a wagon circle in the middle of the board, giving him a firm hold of the objectives cluster we had set up in deployment.  

With Spearhead Deployment, I clustered the objectives in the quarter with the least amount of cover. Winning the roll for first turn, I passed it to my opponent who snagged up the bait (or what I thought was the bait) and took the quarter with less cover but more objectives. I wanted him to try to hold as I attacked him where I wanted, rather than the other way around. The Tau perform much better that way. 

I decided to go for some fun and a reserved all three devilfish and my two big squads of XV8s went into deep-strike. This was partly for strategy but mostly for fun. I don't know why but even if it is "stupid" I have to deep-strike my XV8s every once and while for the sheer thrill of it. 

The Broadsides, Hammerheads and Piranhas castled up on my table quarter and took the brunt of the attack in the first couple turns.  

The Tau Firebase ready to engage. 

I'm not going to go into too much detail about this game but basically my opponent created a nice wagon circle of the middle of the board, consolidating on the four objectives. The only kicker being was that the back end of the wagon circle was left open. My reserve forces then moved in to attack the rear with some success and eventually moved out to contest all held objectives. Had the game ended on Turn 5 would have been a win for the Tau but it ended up going to Turn 6 and the repentant Space Marine, viciously knocked my units off their once held -objectives. 

Tau forces flank the enemy, hitting them in their weakest point. 

The lesson from this game was the flank maneuver. With Spearhead Deployment, you set up in table quarters on opposite corners. With Tau is helps to set up as far back as possible and use your range to your advantage. I set up a firebase of XV88s and Hammerheads with its back to the short table edge, firing down lane (see the second picture). This essentially meant that the game was being fought length-wise on the board, rather than width-wise as normal. If you can get your opponent to fight you length wise, you have more room to pull back, while your long range weapons like Railguns can still reach out an touch the enemy. 

However, your reserve forces still come in on your table edge (the entire length of the board is considered your table edge) so you can flank him if he's moved up to engage your firebase, deploying behind your enemy to hit isolated squads and claim objectives that he assumed were out of reach. In the diagram below, the white block represents your firebase and the yellow arrow is your enemy's advance. The firebase pummels targets and acts as a magnet for your enemy. The white arrow represents the movement of your reserve forces that move in behind the enemy that has engaged your firebase. 
The white block is the Tau Firebase, the white arrow is the movement of Tau Reserves and the yellow arrow represents enemy forces. 

In this game above, my XV8s and Devilfish pulled in and attacked the isolated squads in my opponents backfield, while he was simultaneously getting hit from the front by Railguns. He did turn to attack and my forces held but not without  serious losses. Note that in this game I also lost  a Shas'El and the 3 crisis suits he had joined to deep strike mishap! If they had not been lost this games would have been very different so be careful when you deep-strike.

While this works best in Spearhead games, it can be done in other deployment types. However, remember to prep your entry point, in this game I failed to do so and thus had a tougher time getting my units through. They simply had more work to do when they arrived. 

As always, comments and feedback appreciated. 


Anonymous said...

Sounds like it was a fun game.

For what it's worth, spearhead deployment is the primary reason I use a positional relay (at least against armies that have to traverse the distance).

In objective games for spearhead, I actually prefer putting more objectives near my long table edge. Therefore, the enemy has to move towards it. I will keeping 1-2 Kroot units and my Piranha in reserve.

Calling in a max of 1 Kroot unit at a time means that eventually, on turn 3 or 4, I can bring on my Piranha where I want. Presumably, by then, something will be within 18" of my long edge to melta.

As far as deepstriking battlesuits is concerned, I also don't mind doing so. Perhaps even more than the markerlights, that's what I love about Pathfinders: the marker beacon on their Devilfish, allowing the deepstrike scatter reroll.

Against elite-type armies in capture & control games, the ability to reliably deepstrike later in the game and rapid-fire plasma to pave way for Gun Drones to contest is brilliant.

Mon-keigh Reaper said...

In seize ground missions you actually have to setup the objectives before you pick sides. Last time I played I made OSH sit on the side with the objectives and went after him. This time I decided I wanted to make him come to me. Normally that is fairly hard for Tau to do, but OSH has just enough speed to get to objectives. You just have to be careful with reserving your troops because you don't want to be in a position were you can't actually get to the objectives because of distance and bad reserve rolls.

One thing you need to remember (and I forgot) In spearhead the opponent brings his reserves on from his board edge, not his deployment zone. This effectively let him get his 3 devilfish behind my lines (2 on turn 2). Luckily I was able to react since I was meched up the arse, but my battle brothers took heavy loses. I had overextended a bit. Luck didn't favor the bold this time. I tried to hide my glee when OSH deathrain suits scattered off the board and then had a little accident, otherwise I would have been in real trouble.

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Shas'O D'Narb, Yep I thinking that I need to get some pathfinders in my list for that reason alone. Re-rolling deepstriking scatter. I lost a shas'el and 3 deathrains to a terrible accident this game. I was not happy.

@Reaper, you played real well in this game. I had a touch time facing all those rhinos with old smoke launchers. Plus all that plasma was a scary prospect. This game reminded me how tough marines can be when you've got enough of them. Good game! Wanna join us on Thursday at Dreamwizards?

Michael said...

That is a great tactic for sure, and often the other player is not expecting it.

It is a shame you lost your suits to DS mishap, they would have turned the tides I'm sure.

Good battle report though. Only suggestion I would have is to add in more AP3 or less, aka plasma. They work wonders on Marines, who can fairly easily shrug off missile pods.

Anonymous said...

Again, more talk about XV8s... I'm curious whether anyone has any experience running 6+ Drones in Command Squads.

( 2 'El + 2 'Vre + 8 SDs )

david_padwick said...

One of the staff in my local GW told me that where you have two versions of a rule between a codex and the rulebook, then the most recent takes precedence. This would mean that smoke launchers for all armies would give the 4+ cover, not immunity to penetrating hits for the turn.

On the other hand, this would give dark angels and black templars access to 3++ storm shields and the other updated goodies the vanilla marines get....

I think GW needs to issue an FAQ regarding differing versions of wargear as two different sets of rules depending on the codex they come from for smoke launchers, storm shields etc. makes no sense.

I would be happy to let dark angels or templars players use the new rules as long as they pay the new points costs (especially if they cost more!). They would have to be consistent though (i.e all overlapping options from one book or the other, no mix and match to get the best kit).

Old Shatter Hands said...

@ David, GW has FAQed this and if there are two versions of the rules for an item like smoke launchers, you use the rules as they are written in the codex. So Dark Angels get old smoke launchers, 4+ storm shields only in CC, and a host of other out-of-date equipment.

Of course, if your gaming club has decided differently, go with it.

Mon-keigh Reaper said...

Sorry I couldn't make Dreamwizards, I need to get my Germans ready for some FoW.

@D'Narb, me and OSH talked a bit about drones and the problem some problems with them 1. they are easier to kill and can force break tests. 2. they go away when their controller dies.

@ David, The precedence for rules are Codex FAQ -> Codex -> BRB FAQ -> BRB many people, even GW employees get this wrong. Of course GW are spinless gits and say that FAQs are not official.

Because of the mass DA whining they have addressed using the new equipment in the latest DA FAQ. You should read it, it takes them about 1/2 a page to say no, and that everyone should just have fun playing. Mainly a total cop out.

One big reason for not trying to use the new stuff, it gets confusing unless you only play with the same people. The changes are house rules, and not everyone plays in the same house. I like standardize rules, I hate having rule surprises, about as bad as coke can carnifex.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

As I continue to troll your site OSH, I have to say I like this batrep.

The graphics for the map, though simple, are concise ~ I get simple! lol

D'Narb's first post is a pearl too.


Marshal Wilhelm said...
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