Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fate of Konor: Tau vs. Black Legion

40k 8th edition: the game bringing many old hands out of the woodwork for the first time in many years.  Why?  Probably for the following reasons:

  1. Fast play rules.
  2. Comprehensive army lists released simultaneously with new rules.
  3. "3 ways to play" showing folks they can play in many styles.
  4. Very cool new releases...even if you don't like Primaris Marines, moving the story forward with the return of some Primarchs, a big change to Eldar, and re-casting several chaos legions is a big deal.
  5. Absolutely killer community relations and support resulting from adopting the 21st century technological paradigm.  

Anyway, what does that have to do with this game? Well, I played James, who I had not seen in over 10 years in a 2000 point game.  James brought out his Tau, a mix of old and new models.  The scenario was from the Fate of Konor global campaign:

This mission required the non-Chaos player to assault and destroy 3 objectives in the face of a blighted and foetid landscape of horror.  To represent the occupying forces, I chose a list of Black Legion heavily flavored with Nurgle units, as follows:

Chaos Terminator Lord with Power Axe
Chaos Sorceror
Chaos Sorcerer
2 x 10 cultists
1x 10 CSM with plasma gun
7 Plague marines with plasma gun
5 Chaos Bikers
5 raptors with melta gun
2 Chaos Predators (1 with autocannan and 2x lascannon, 1 w/ 4 lascannon)
Defiler with reaper autocannon and battle cannon
Renegade Knight "Ira Invictum" with rapid-fire battle cannon, 2 heavy stubbers, and gigantic chainsaw arm thing, plus stompy feet.

James had (IIRC)

3x commander, all with fusion blasters galore
3x3 stealth suits (1 with fusion blasters)
2x Ghostkeel with fusion goodness
1 million drones. Ok it was really about 48 in groups of 4 including two groups of marker drones.

The terrain was a blighted ruin of a city.  The green patches represent mutated and plague-ridden growths bestowed upon the land by Father Nurgle in the wake of the Chaos invasion.  my forces were arrayed to defend the 3 objectives, each located in a large ruined structure.  My infantry was spread roughly evenly across the objectives, with my armor concentrated in the center for flexible firing options. I deployed Ira Vindictam centrally as a rapid response reserve unit.   James split his forces into two strong wings, each with a Ghostkeel protected by a horde of drones.  On my left he placed two units of stealth suits.  On my right Shadowsun and a unit of fusion blaster suits took up position in a building.  I kept the Raptors and Chaos Lord in reserve.  James held his three commanders back, as well.

 James went first and advanced somewhat slowly.  He put heavy fire on my Chaos Space Marines on the right, and did some damage to my lead Predator, but overall his shooting was less than I expected. He dropped in 2 commanders, one on each flank, and did a bit of damage with them as well.


So many drones!

Surprise, pew pew pew!

Me too, pew pew pew!

Cultists die, as is their lot.

I responded by bringing Ira Vindicta to my right and concentrating fire on his Commander.  Against all odds, his damn shield drones soaked all the fire from a Knight and two squads, with one surviving!

My Raptors and sorcerer almost killed the commander on my left, but my Terminator Lord was too slow to reach his victim and it escaped!  A second commander landed, but their fire failed to kill my lord despite wounding him.

A mass of drones guarding a Ghostkeel approaches.  I wasted shots on the Ghostkeel, which was not only hard to hit but simply used savior protocols to slough wounds off onto drones.  I realized I had to kill the drones.

Ira Vindictam was hit by the Commander on my right, losing 6 wounds, but charged in and delivered a barrage of fire...

...then finished the job in close combat!

My sorcerer smites the wounded Commander into oblivion, while Raptor shooting killed some drones, and then the Lord and raptors charged the last Commander, but failed to kill it.  

 A mass of drones advances, laying waste to my Space Marines on the right.  Ira Vindictam prepares to hold the flank against this mass of robotic gnats.


Ira Vindictam and the cultists pour fire on the drones to almost no effect. 

In the center, however, the Plague Marines and my armor rapidly lay waste to the drone horde.  

Shadowsun and her cohorts destroy the lead Predator with fusion shots galore. 

The Commander and stealth suits annihilate the Chaos Lord and Raptors in a hail of high-tech fire.

However, the Dark Gods protect the Plague Marines, who fail 0 saves out of 13 in the center! 

The unstoppable mass of drones with Ghostkeel pours fire on Ira Vindictam, weakening it further...

Overview of the mid-game.  Off camera, the sorcerers destroyed the last Commander with Smite and Infernal Gaze.

Ira Vindictam takes cover in the building, holding an objective, but still failing to kill many drones.

The Tau realize they are running out of time to destroy objectives and get in close.

This is how many dice that many drones roll.  Shockingly they only managed one or two wounds on the Knight per turn.  But the Ghostkeel caused some serious damage with its triple-fusion goodness.  

Fires rage on Ira Invictam and is suffers under a storm of pulse rifle and fusion shots.  Still, the machine stands for the Black Legion.

Chaos forces almost destroy the Ghostkeel in the center after painstakingly shooting down all of its drone entourage.  however, it lives with one wound and makes its escape!

Ira Invictam destroys some drones but not enough.  It cannot charge in the face of so many overwatch shots.  Tau can overwatch in support of friendly charged units, so it wold have been suicide for the Knights to charge, only for all the flying tau to move away and shoot again.

Shadowsun and her retinue destroy another Predator!  The Plague Marines stand strong on the center objective, however.

A reconstituted unit of cultists (Tide of Traitors stratagem brought them back) hold the right objective as the Tau get desperate.  The Stealth suits lose 2 of their number trying to approach, thanks primarily to the Sorceror.

Stealth suits leave the building with Shadowsun to try to contest the central objective.  They inflict some damage on the Plague Marines but are whittled down in return.

At the end of Turn 5, the Tau have failed to destroy a single objective, despite causing horrific casualties to the Chaos forces.  We roll for the game end and it comes up a 2!  Chaos is victorious.

Result:  Chaos wins a major victory for holding all three objectives at the end of the game.  Chaos casualties were high:  I lost my Lord, 2 Predators, a unit of bikes, a unit of space marines, a unit of raptors, and a unit of cultists.  Ira Vindictam was saved by the bell, having only 4 wounds left.  The Plague Marines were at half strength.  Only the two sorcerers and the Defiler were undamaged.  The Tau took very light casualties by comparison: 3 Commanders, a few stealth suits, and about 30 drones down.  If the game had gone another turn or two the result would likely have changed.  I just did not have the firepower to whittle down another Drone death star.

Conclusion:  This was a very interesting game and it put my army to the test.  I did learn that you must shoot the damn drones.  In small units of 5 the best tactic is to split fire and hope to nail them with some morale losses.  It''s useless to shoot at the Ghostkeels or any other suits surrounded by drone-wrap.  Also, don't think of charging a mass of 50 drones that can just float away.  You'll kill a max of 4 models and give them a free round of shooting.  I also need to learn to deploy my Lord more effectively.  In fact I think the best use for a generic lord is just in the back with the tank park giving them re-rolls on 1s.  The basic lord needs serious tooling up to justify sending him into deep strike and charging him at things.  I really enjoyed the game going 5 turns as i hate tabling games that end in the first turn or two.  More to come!

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