Battle Report: Tau vs. Chaos Space Marines

March 21, 2014 ·


I am finally starting to get settled into my new area and job, so this last weekend I managed to get a casual game in. My area has no FLGS so we play in our basements and hobby rooms when we can.
This was my first game against my opponent so I had no idea what to expect as far as play style or army or terrain. He usually plays at 2000 points so that is what we went with. He hadn't played Tau since 2nd edition, so we used one of the Tau Battle Missions even though it wasn't really updated for 6th edition.
As always, I write these reports mostly from memory with a few notes that I take after the games are over. I am sure to have gotten some things wrong here and there, maybe got turns mixed up or distances skewed. I don't often take pictures since it is hard to really see what is going on, hence the Chronicler diagrams. Please bear with me, as I am far from a wizard at BC, but the overall flow of the combat and tactics should still be recognizable past the memory and program errors.

The Armies

Tau

I haven't played at 2000 points with Tau, so this was a bit bigger than I was used to. Plus, one of my Devilfish chassis was out of commission (massive conversion project) so I had to boost my usual list and use some models I don't usually play with.
  • Warlord: Shas'O Burning Eye-D w/ OG, PEN, Iridium, Shield Generator, x1 Shield Drone
  • Commander Farsight
  • XV8 Team: Raven, x2 Burning Eye-D w/ ATS (I call this the Executioner when combined with my Shas'O)
  • XV8 Team: Shas'Vre Deathrain-D, x2 Deathrain-D 
  • Stealth Team: Shas'Vre w/ Markerlight &TL, x5 Stealth Suits (all burst cannons), x2 Marker Drones
  • 2 Piranhas w/ Fusion Blasters
  • Pathfinder Team: Shas'ui, x7 Pathfinders (no special weapons)
  • 12 Firewarriors w/ Pulse Rifles in Devilfish (DPod, SMS)
  • 6 Firewarriors w/ Pulse Carbines in Devilfish (DPod, SMS)
  • Skyray (Dpod, SMS)
  • Hammerhead w/ Ion Cannon (Dpod, SMS, BSF)
  • Longstrike Hammerhead w/ Railgun (Submunition Rounds, Dpod, SMS)

Chaos Space Marines

He had access to just about every Chaos Space Marine model there is so I had no idea what he'd bring. It was a fairly generic list but it had no Cultists. I didn't keep track of the equipment of the CSM squads because I always assume Marines have every bit of equipment imaginable.
  • Warlord: Huron Blackheart (accompanying CSM 1)
  • CSM 1: 9 models. Champion w/ power weapon, 2 plasma guns, banner that grants Fearless
  • CSM 2: 20 models. Champion w/ lightning claw, 2 melta guns, banner that grants Fearless
  • CSM 3: 20 models. Champion w/ lightning claw, 2 melta guns, banner that grants Fearless
  • Land Raider: (dedicated transport for CSM 1) w/ 2x Twin-linked Lascannons, Twin-linked Heavy Bolter, dozer blades, smoke launchers
  • Forgefiend w/ 2 Hades Autocannons
  • Forgefiend w/ 2 Hades Autocannons
  • Hellbrute w/ Multi-melta
  • Hellbrute w/ Multi-Melta
  • Terminators: 3 models w/combi-plasma

The Setup

Scenario: Tau Battle Mission #3. Not sure on which one, but it had 3 objectives in the Tau deployment zone and disallowed reserves for the Tau. All my units got Hit&Run though. Instead of rolling for the mission we just chose because the other two would ruin his tactics entirely and he'd have to write a new list.
Warlord Traits: Huron's allows D3 infiltrating units, but he chose not to infiltrate or outflank any of his units (no idea why...). I rolled Ghost Who Walks Among Us which I'd never got before and was excited to try.
Psychic Powers: Huron gets a random power each turn. The only time it mattered was on turn 3 and he got Endurance.
Deployment: CSM had to walk on in the 1st turn, and I could deploy anywhere in my chosen diagonal half of the board
Objectives: 3 in my deployment zone from corner to center, and the only way to win was by holding more than the other guy
Night Fight: no night fight

Deployment


I had to put everything on the table, and I didn't have any idea what he was going to throw at me (I didn't even ask to see his list) so I just deployed my pathfinders centrally with my valuable suits in the backfield shielded by the tanks. It was a raw deal since none of my vehicles would get jink saves and he could walk on anywhere on the board to get best line of sight. However, it is a little exciting in that way, not knowing what is going to appear across the board from you.

Turn 1

CSM Turn 1


He brough all of his vehicles on but no infantry. Once on, the shooting started. At the time, he had thought that a Land Raider was a "heavy vehicle" as I would have thought as well, so that is how we played it at first. So it fired at full BS with all its weapons for the first two turns.
My vehicles were basically unprotected without their jink saves, and his vehicles were well equipped to counter enemy armour. I lost a hull point off of Long Strike and two hull points off of my Hammerhead. Not so bad, considering my disadvantage. In hindsight, this is the turn that he should have used his Daemonforge abilities, but he forgot.
With nothing close to assaulting, it was my turn.

Tau Turn 1


I started by shuffling my vehicles to better utilize the ruins for cover and get my jink saves. The left flank Piranhas and Devilfish moved forward, and the crisis suits got into position to try and shoot some vehicles.
I decided that I wasn't going to waste any shots on the Land Raider since the odds of my killing it were slim to none. The pathfinders landed two markerlight hits on a forgefield, Long Strike missed his one shot, my other Hammerhead's weapons did nothing, my Executioner unit did nothing, and my Deathrain-D squad managed to strip a single hull point. As usual, my first turn of shooting was abysmal, amounting to only a single hull point off of a forgefiend. I turboboosted my piranhas up near the building his path, ready to pop out and get some melta shots next turn. This proved to be a big mistake.
My suits all jumped back into cover for the assault phase.

Turn 2

CSM Turn 2


He rolled for his reserves and got the Terminators and one of his 20-man CSM squads. 
All of his vehicles moved up and his CSM squad walked on from his board edge, heading straight for the closest objective in the center of the board. He dropped his Terminators right next to my Deathrain-D team and Farsight and it only scattered away a few inches.
His marines took some pot-shots at my Stealth Team since they had time to reach the objective, 2+ cover saves were not enough, and I still lost a Stealth suit. His Land Raider and Forgefiends shot at Longstrike and my Hammerhead. The Forgefiends used their DaemonForge ability, basically doubling their damage output. Apparently the hard cover plus DPod were not enough, and I lost both of my battle tanks, failing every single 3+ cover save. The left Hellbrute fired at my Devilfish but did no damage. The other Hellbrute fired at my piranhas and missed. The terminators, or "Termicides" as he called them, used their plasma attachments in rapid-fire range and killed the Shas'vre, a Shas'ui, and wounded Farsight once.
His Hellbrute charged my piranhas, something I hadn't thought he could do, since there was a building wall in the way, but I guess how he usually plays is that ruins don't block movement. If I'd known before I wouldn't have put them that close, but his house, his rules, so I just shrugged and went with it. The Hellbrute smashed both Piranhas to pieces, drones and all.

Tau Turn 2


Things were not looking good for me, since I'd lost the majority of my firepower and I had a LOT of things to deal with. I shuffled my skyray and devilfish again, moved my Stealth team up (losing a Marker Drone to dangerous terrain), and moved my other Devilfish towards the final objective. I also jumped my Stealth Suits towards his CSM squad to try and slow their advance. I moved my Skyray up provide cover for my last Devilfish as it moved next to the central objective.
My Pathfinders fired at the wounded Forgefiend and landed 7 hits (would have been nicer if they'd done that last turn...). I used them to fire every seeker off of my skyray, finishing off his Forgefiend. Farsight missed his shots but his Deathrain-D companion killed two Terminators by himself! My Executioner unit fired at the Hellbrute, trying to slow down the closest vehicle to my units, but only stripped a single hull point. My Devilfish and Stealth team targeted his CSM blob, killing 4-5 of them. 
Farsight and the Deathrain-D prepared to charge the final Terminator, but failed their charge roll, and he forgot to fire overwatch (I imagine he doesn't often fire overwatch). My commander jumped back into cover and my Stealth Team jumped out near the objective to keep their distance from the Hellbrute and attract his CSM blob's attention.

Turn 3

CSM Turn 3


Luckily for me, his second squad of CSM did not come on this turn either. Saved! 
He moved the Land Raider 12" and I told him he couldn't since he said it was a Heavy vehicle, so he checked and we saw that it was just a regular vehicle. So it had been shooting with too high a BS in turn 1&2, oh well. The other vehicles and the CSM advanced. The lone Terminator moved up to attack my Devilfish from behind.
His Hellbrutes targeted my Devilfish, exploding it and killing one Firewarrior. The remaining warriors disembarked into the nearby ruins but I forgot to check if they were pinned. The CSM fired on my Stealth Team in the crater, killing another 2 Shas'ui. The Forgefiend and Land Raider targeted my Skyray and Devilfish, stripping a hull point from each and Shaking the Devilfish.
The Hellbrute attempted a charge on my Stealth team, but failed. The lone Terminator attampted to charge the nearby Firewarriors, but failed his charge range and died to overwatch fire.

Tau Turn 3


That land raider was now moving a lot faster than I had planned, since it wasn't a Heavy vehicle. So I blocked its advance with the Skyray. Hopefully that would buy me a little more time from whatever was inside. I moved my Devilfish onto the objective and unloaded my Firewarriors into the ruins, forming a makeshift castle out of the building and Longstrike's wreck. The Stealths jumped forward to shoot up some CSM again. My crisis suits all got into firing positions.
My Executioner unit targeted the Forgefiend, but the Skyray and Devilfish blocked some line of sight and no damage was inflicted. Farsight and the Deathrain-D fired at the wounded Hellbrute and did nothing. My pathfinders marked the CSM squad for my infantry to fire at. The Stealths and the pulse rifle Firewarriors killed about 7 of them but they still had the Fearless banner.
I repositioned my suits and hunkered down.

Turn 4

CSM Turn 4


His last unit of CSM automatically came on and he walked it straight up behind the other unit. For this turn, Huron's unit gained Feel No Pain.
He knew he had to get his land raider up to me, so he moved his Forgefiend back to make room and the land raider turned to move around the Skyray. It passed through the Forgefiend wreck and rolled a 1 and then a 1 for dangerous terrain, immobilized! It didn't matter though, it had done its job. He disembarked the contents another 6" from his assault hatch, only a couple inches from my makeshift castle. The squad of CSM, now down to about 6 or 7 models moved up to within a few inches of the objective.
The new CSM blob rolled 1" to run. The remaining CSM shot at my Stealth suits killing all but two. They failed their leadership and fell back next to the Devilfish. His Forgefiend shot at the rear of my Skyray and missed all but one shot, which was blocked by its cover save. The Land Raider fired across the board at my Firewarriors with carbines and killed two. They failed their leadership check by one and fell back through the ruins 5". The two hellbrutes fired at my last Devilfish and wrecked it. Finally, he opened fire with his disembarked unit. He had placed Huron at the back to avoid Overwatch fire, but that meant he couldn't use the heavy flamer. His unit fired their pistols at my Firewarriors, but they went to ground and gained Stealth thanks to their Defensive Grenades for a 2+ cover save. This is the first time I was actually able to use photon grenades to full effect. I lost a single Firewarrior to shooting.
He multi-charged my Pathfinders and Firewarriors since he wasn't going to get the extra attack anyways. In overwatch I inflicted 4 unsaved wounds but he saved two of them with his Feel No Pain. His champion challenged my pathfinder Shas'ui and killed him easily. 6 of the Firewarriors were killed and I inflicted no wounds in return. The Firewarriors and Pathfinders both fled (needed double 1's) and his unit ran down my remaining Firewarriors. 

Tau Turn 4


I was losing units fast and I didn't have much left to work with, but I was enjoying the game quite a bit. The casualties were pretty one-sided but I had every chance of forcing a draw or even eking out a win. I still had both of my HQ, my Executioner unit, and a very small scoring unit.
My pathfinders failed to rally and fled off the board but my Stealth Suits and Firewarriors both rallied and moved back towards the marines sitting near the objective. My Executioner squad and Farsight+Deathrain positioned themselves to charge Huron's unit. He'd never seen this unit before, nor anything like it I imagine, so he hadn't targeted them all game and they were at full strength.
Farsight and the Deathrain-D fired and killed the Champion, probably in the act of sticking the pathfinder Shas'ui's head on his backpack spike. My Skyray pivoted and unloaded into the back of the marine carrying the Fearless banner but he passed all 3 armour saves. I did, however, land a markerlight hit. My carbine Firewarriors and the Stealth team combined fire and managed to bring the CSM unit on the objective down to 5 models. My Executioner unit used the Markerlight hit and fired last, wiping his entire CSM unit from the board in one go (10 wounds, AP2, no cover saves) and wounded Huron in the process, despite the Feel No Pain. He couldn't believe it.
I charged Farsight into combat. He took a wound in overwatch but his armour blocked it. He challenged Huron to solo combat, blocked Huron's attack with his Shield Generator, and then hacked him to pieces. He consolidated into the ruins to maintain cover. The Executioner unit moved into the ruins to stage their advance next turn. My Stealth suits repositioned themselves between Farsight and the Hellbrutes, shielding him from counter assault and maintaining 6" distance from all of my battlesuit units.

Turn 5

CSM Turn 5


His CSM blob moved up, and ran another 4". His Hellbrutes shuffled around a bit, trying to stay out of the difficult terrain. The small CSM squad held its ground by the objective.
His objective holders only had pistols left, so they couldn't target anything. His Hellbrutes missed their shots and his Land Raider's shots were blocked by cover saves all around. His Forgefiend finished off my Skyray, but only managed to wreck it, so it still provided blocking terrain.
His Hellbrute attempted to assault my Stealth team, but failed his charge into cover. The combined overwatch fire from the nearby battlesuits immobilized it. My opponent was starting to see a pattern in my overwatch.

Tau Turn 5


I moved everything I had, except my Firewarriors, towards the objective. I was assuming that the game would go into turn 6, and I didn't want them stranded in the open, however, in hindsight I probably should have moved them up to help distract his units.
My Stealth Team killed one marine on the objective and my Executioner squad removed the rest. Farsight and his Deathrain companion fired at the Hellbrute still capable of moving but did nothing.
For my thrust moves, I positioned my Stealth team and my Executioner squad between his CSM blob and the objective. Farsight charged the Hellbrute and butchered it in close combat, but unfortunately lost his Deathrain friend to miraculous Overwatch fire. Incredibly, the Hellbrute did not explode (4 AP2 penetrating hits...) and Farsight consolidated to help screen the objective.

I rolled a 3, so the game continued, giving him slim shot at capturing a single objective and winning the game.

Turn 6

CSM Turn 6


This was his last chance, so he positioned his vehicles to shoot and his squad to charge. 
His Land Raider fired at my Stealth Suits, but I passed all 3 cover saves. His Forgefiend targeted my Shas'O and his team, killing the Shas'vre, and the shield drone. The Hellbrute rolled its ability after being wounded and got to shoot twice. He missed once but killed another Shas'ui from my Executioner squad. His CSM squad decided that it should target my tougher unit, so it shot at my Shas'O. Since the Shas'O was in the front he was able to tank the wounds and only failed one. His CSM did not fire, since we were pretty sure he would not be able to charge if he eliminated the unit he fired at, and he needed to charge to contest the objective.
He charged in, losing only one marine to Overwatch fire (from Farsight). Here we made another mistake, since he multi-charged and wasn't supposed to get an extra attack for the charge, but he attacked with 3 attacks each. His champ challenged Farsight, and since I was not familiar with close combat, I assumed that Farsight had to accept, otherwise I would have accepted with my Shas'O. Farsight killed the champion instantly but I lost both of my Stealth suits and my Shas'O blocked all the other attacks. I lost the combat 2-1, but my units didn't flee. I had the option of using Hit-and-Run to disengage and shoot his unit before charging again, but I decided I'd rather not risk the Overwatch fire. In hindsight, I probably should have. I could have joined the two units, or just jumped Farsight out before jumping back in again to get that extra attack, who knows? Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.

Tau Turn 6


With no units left, all I could do is run my 3 firewarriors up to help with the combat and maybe, just maybe, capture the objective if I won the combat and swept him. I was Initiative 5 after all.
Farsight killed two marines but my other units did nothing (Shas'O fail!). His marines wounded Farsight twice and my regular Shas'ui once. I lost the combat again, 3-2, my Shas'O and my firewarriors failed leadership but Farsight held true, keeping the enemy locked in combat. I had forgotten to nominate my Shas'O as Stubborn this turn, but it didn't matter.

The game ended on a roll of 1.

Results

The game had ended in a draw with 2 objectives unclaimed and 1 objective contested.
Had we allowed for Secondary Objectives, I would have got Slay the Warlord, he would have got First Blood, and neither of us would have got Linebreaker since his infantry was not actually in my deployment zone and he didn't technically have a Deployment zone for me to occupy. It was a bit confusing so we left those objectives out.

Aftermath

The smoke cleared and I had 6 models to my name. Against his immobile Land Raider, immobile Hellbrute, Forgefiend, and 16 marines. Clearly I'd been outmatched in firepower and damage, but my scrappy Tau had forced a draw against the odds. I love my little blue boys and they have yet to let me down in spirit, even if they do seem to have trouble hitting things when it counts...

Thoughts

  • It occurred to me partway through that the mission might be intended to give the enemy an advantage against a Tau army forced to remain static and defend its territory and go 2nd. The mission, my abysmal 1st turn of shooting, and his above average 1st & 2nd turns of shooting really set me at a disadvantage early.
  • Since it was our first game we were both learning about each other, so we both had some surprises and made mistakes. Personally, I think that losing my piranhas to a Hellbrute charging through a solid building wall was the worst mistake that had the biggest impact on the game.
  • The last combat was a nightmare, with many different units, initiative steps, statlines, etc. It became really hard to keep track and I missed out on a couple advantages (like majority toughnesss, or my Shas'O being able to accept the challenge in Farsight's place). However, I am wiser for having been through it and next time will be different.
  • His army wasn't optimized and he didn't really take much advantage of Huron. It's possible he was intentionally leaving out his better units (aka Helldrake) for our first game. He is not a rules lawyer and plays a sort of hybrid 4th/5th/6th edition rules when it comes to terrain and cover. He's not really a fan of 6th edition. Learning how to play with someone is just as important as learning the rules.

What I liked

  • Farsight: I was hesitant to take him, but I'd just finished the conversion and it looked so darn cool. Turns out he provided just that little bit of close combat proficiency that I needed to get in there and stand toe-to-toe with CSM in close combat. Granted, he never had to go up against Abaddon or Kharn, but Huron is no slouch, and neither were those squad champions (and he killed two!)
  • Carbines. In this particular game, 15" was too short to engage the CSM at rapid-fire range, plus they are so cool looking. I don't think I'll ever stop running this little commando unit. And they once again survived to the end of the game, I don't think I've ever actually lost them completely, and they are always there to try and do that late game contest
  • Skyray: even after losing All my anti-tank in one turn, and no Helldrakes to target, it killed a Forgefiend (much more than its points) and blocked the Land Raider's advance. Had I positioned my Skyray better, I might have even postponed his attack another turn. Though had I done that, I wouldn't have been free to contest the other objective, so it ended up ok anyways. 
  • Executioner: I say this every game, but this unit is my favorite. Early game it may not impress, especially against CSM which have a TON of AV12+, but it really shines once you put just about any type of unit within 18" of it.
  • Stealth Suits: considered a "bad pick" by many Tau players, and maybe they are right, but they soaked up a disproportionate amount of fire, in just about every turn of the game, and still survived to help contest the final objective. They killed quite a few Marines too.

What Didn't Impress me

  • Deathrains: Maybe it's just me, but my Deathrains never really do anything. This game, they managed to strip a single hull point off of an AV12 model, and kill two terminators by luck (and that was only after two of the team members were killed). To be fair, the last suit took a Melta shot in the face for Farsight, which is pretty heroic, if unskilled.
  • Pathfinders: They got ignored mostly, allowing them to use their Markerlights to full effect every turn, even landing some on Overwatch to help my Firewarriors gun down some CSM. But I'm not entirely sold on them. Did I need those markers? Could I have done better with more Firewarriors? We'll see. I'll perhaps give them another shot, but if there'd been a helldrake in this game, they would have been dead instantly.
  • Stealth Marker Team: This was a fun unit in 5th, but now that I've tried it in 6th, I never will again. It didn't land a single marker hit and those ablative wounds could have just been gun drones helping out with the shooting.

Thanks to anyone who stuck with it and read to the end. I hope this helps some other Tau players out.


2 comments:

TheGraveMind said...
March 22, 2014 at 1:15 AM  

I was like, dejavu. I was wondering, I had just read this. Oh advanced Tau Tactica. Oh yes, the joys of a new area/opponent.

That is an interesting mission for Tau, being forced to essentially hold ground.
I agree on deathrains, I've never been overly impressed with them. Same with path finders, I usually have some maker drones, and sky rays for the few marker lights I need.

Skyler Hoeft said...
March 25, 2014 at 3:04 PM  

Ha! Sorry about that. This isn't the first time either, so perhaps the next time I post a batrep I'll mention that it's at ATT as well.

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