Monday, April 22, 2013

The Swollen Third Sphere Game 2

I played another 1850 game with my Tau on Sunday against Hart’s Chaos Space marines/Chaos Daemons hybrid list. It was an Emperor’s Will/Vanguard Strike game. I had little problem shooting the everliving hell out of his army, but it came down to his Nurgle Lord with one wound sliding into home to contest my home objective at the last second, and the game ended on Turn 5, so he took it 4-1 (I got first blood). Some further notes on Tau after this game:

I love gun drones. They seriously put out a ton of shots together with the Ethereal Storm of Fire bubble, and are also handy to have in the same area as your fire warriors for providing supporting fire. BS2 is no big deal when the guns are twin-linked and S5. Plus they can move out, pour shots into enemies, and pull back to serve as assault screens. Since any of the heavy tanks and the devilfish already have one gun, taking SMS instead means one gun would usually be snap-fired (unless you’ve got great cover). I’d rather have the cute little drones to fly around and be annoying, especially since they don’t give up kill points.

Since the Sky Ray is my only unit (currently) with skyfire, and I’ve only played against Chaos armies with dragons so far, it can be a little bit challenging to bring down dragons the first time they show up on the table. But for the second time, at some point the dragon flew over my fire warrior nest, and with help from the Sky Ray markerlights, enough S5 infantry survived to snap fire into the rear armor 10 and wounded or destroyed it. It’s always a tough call on how many Sky Ray seeker missiles to commit to a particular target. I have been throwing 3-4 at a time up at the dragons, and it has not been enough to do the job. It just seems like a waste to go ahead and launch all 6 at once, leaving the Sky Ray to just be a roving double markerlight vehicle (if it doesn’t move). I eagerly anticipate fighting other races’ fliers to see if I can do any better against AV 10 or 11. Flying monstrous creatures have so far not been a problem given the amount of pulse rounds I can put out at close range.

Disruption pods, still worth it. I made plenty of cover saves this game because of them.

I’m iffy on my TL-flamer/burst cannon crisis team, since they are sort of a delicate one-trick pony, but they only cost 126 points, so it’s not like I’d get much by cashing them back in. Plus they give me a deep-strike unit that I can either take to the backfield for contesting and/or the Linebreaker point, or use my Ethereal’s a homing beacons on my gunline for some accurate anti-swarm flames.

Still waiting on my Broadsides to come in… don’t think GW has even shipped them to the states yet. Bah. Playing with a second hammerhead and the stealth suits (especially their homing beacon) is still fun for now.

The Tau firebase is very difficult to get close to and not get the hell blasted out of you. If they don’t make the charge in one fell swoop, they are probably within range of an Ethereal Storm of Fire barrage during the Tau turn, they must then survive all the supporting fire overwatch, which is also enhanced by Storm of Fire. Things that can charge from great distances, such as Maulerfiends or beasts, are high priority targets. But even if an enemy does make it through gun drone screens to a fire warrior squad, the fire warriors will either be wiped out or break, and the assaulters will probably not survive a second turn to take anything else out. It looks like the key to assaulting Tau is either getting them to spread out somehow, or whittling down the firebase with your own shooting before jumping in for up-close carnage. Obviously, heldrakes can be a big problem to keeping up your gunline resilience. I’m trying to get better at model placement to control Heldrake movement over and around my firebase. Again, if you can make them fly past you and get your pulse rifles in the rear armor, bringing them down becomes a much more reasonable proposition.

Having 3d6 jet pack moves with my Shadowsun/low-AP crisis suits is cra-mazing. Given their awesome range, as long as you are within 12 inches, you are putting in 6 S6 AP2 shots and 5 S8 Ap1 shots, re-rolling ones, and then bouncing away up to 18 inches. I wish I could afford to put another few drones with that unit to soak up wounds from things like the baleflamer or krak missiles, but I’m not sure how to get the points. I did give the fusion/plas suits advanced targeting systems this time, but it didn’t do much for this particular game (Hart made great look-out-sir rolls and cover saves for his Nurgle Lord and accompanying plague marine unit).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Swollen Third Sphere Game 1

Some pics of my Crisis Suits - now with extra dynamism (that's a thing):

Got in my first game with the new Tau tonight against a Chaos Space Marines list. We played 1850 Big Guns Never Tire with 4 objectives and Vanguard Strike Deployment. He had a nurgle bike lord with some nurgle bikes, 2 x 35 and 2 x 12 man squads of cultists, 1 small squad of plague marines with plasma guns, a tentacle-love maulerfiend, 2 heldrakes (1 baleflamer, 1 hades), and 2 lascannon predators. I had an ethereal, shadowsun with command drone, 3 crisis suits with TL flamers and burst cannons, 4 stealth suits with a homing beacon shas'vre, 3 crisis suits with fusion guns and plasma rifles, 2 x 6 pathfinders, 2 x 6 fire warriors with devilfish, 2 x 12 fire warriors on foot, 18 kroot with sniper rounds, 2 hammerheads, and a sky ray.

It was a fun game, bloody on both sides. I had a great start, and was looking to do some real damage with shadowsun on his left flank deep striking off infiltrated stealth suits, but they were not able to drop a maulerfiend, and then I stupidly left them bunched and ready for his heldrake coming on the table. Some failed look-out-sirs, then some failed leadership tests = adios both units. I was only able to cripple the big birds (really felt the absence of my broadsides). My kroot, fire warriors, and 5 squads of free-roaming gun drones were able to inflict enough damage to his midfield objective holders that I kept him from grabbing an objective in the center. Meanwhile my flamer crisis squad deep struck perfectly next to a small cultist squad holding his backfield objective and wiped them out handily (only 12, but they could have killed at least 18 - I like that unit so far). Meanwhile I captured my home objectives with a sky ray and hammerhead. He got first blood and slay the warlord, and had killed 1 of my hammerheads, but I had 2 objectives along with the maulerfiend kill, and so earned the win. It was tough gong for a while tho.

What did I learn?

* I had a blast markerlighting stuff and making the fire warriors completely wreck face on his infantry. I could have done more with them but all my markers were obsessed with heldrake defense after Turn 2. I was looking forward to doing some stick and move with sky shadow, but he wisely shut that down with the flamey bird while the other one flew about vector striking my vehicles.

* Pathfinders plus fire warriors plus the ethereal's power to grant an extra shot at half range = big time. And 2 squads of 6 PF seemed about right for markerlights, and obviously the sky ray using skyfire for his networked lights was nice too.

* The sky ray was ok. My seekers didn't do much for me in this game, but the 2 sky fire markerlights at least gave me a chance to fend off one of the heldrakes.

* Why did I take bonding knife ritual for crisis suit teams - with a 3 man team, you would never be below 25% squad size, so who cares about heroic morale, and with shadowsun joined up, she'd ideally die last and have heroic morale anyway. So there's 6 points I could have spent somewhere else.

* The build I'm going for eventually (once GW gets their shit together and ships their gd awesome product) will include broadsides instead of the stealth suits and the second hammerhead - but I will miss those units in my 1850 list. Two hammerheads was way more forgiving than one (although mine could still not bring down 1 stupid maulerfiend). The stealth suits provided a little dakka, the homing beacon was clutch, and I love the models, but I think I would only bring them out for 2000 points or more.

* Are distortion pods worth it? Oh you betcha. 

* Still learning how to castle well against heldrakes, damn their scaly hides. I had to stretch out a bit to inflict good damage to his midfield, so it was easy for them to bounce around hectoring and vectoring. I definitely could have used more skyfire to at least give me a chance to kill ONE of the gd things. At least they didn't both have a baleflamer.

* Fire warriors and pathfinders need area terrain early in the game. Otherwise, even with their superior anti-personnel dakka range, they will get picked apart.

* I may have to add interceptor to my broadsides... so expensive though! (Arrggh I want my models!)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Third sphere? Might wanna have that checked out.

So here's my first go at a seemingly decent, mixed-bag tau 1850 list. No new toys besides the high yielders, but it's all new to me, so, yay me.

Shadowsun - command drone

Ethereal - blacksun filter, homing beacon

3 Crisis Suits - plasma rifles + fusion guns, 1 with vectored retrothrusters

3 Crisis Suits - twin-linked flamers + burst cannons, bonding knife ritual

10 Fire Warriors - Devilfish with twin-linked smart missile systems

10 Fire Warriors - Devilfish with twin-linked smart missile systems

10 Fire Warriors

10 Fire Warriors

20 Kroot - shaper, sniper rifle rounds

10 Pathfinders - Shas'ui

2 Sky Rays - twin-linked smart missile systems

3 Broadsides - high yield missile pods, 6 missile drones, bonding knife ritual

The ethereal hangs out with the broadsides to let them ignore night-fighting if needed, or hides in one of the devilfish and just extends his aura from a central location. Shadowsun rolls with the plasma/fusion suits, gives them infiltrate, stealth, shrouding, and 3d6 jump pack moves, plus granting a unit within 12" (such as themselves) re-rolling ones to hit in shooting. They give her hit and run. They can either infiltrate for an early strike and retreat, or deep strike near the ethereal (or elsewhere) as needed. Flamer/burst crisis suits also deepstrike or counter-attack as needed. Pathfinders and sky rays mark the hell out of everything on the ground or in the air, the kroot hide in cover throwing out sniper rounds at marked units, and the fire warriors and broadsides shoot anything that moves (especially if its marked), staying together to provide supporting fire. The devilfish I imagine hanging around screening/directing assaults, hanging around for late game maneuvers (if they last that long). I tried to only give bonding knives to the units that would have any real use hanging around to the last man. For 2000 I can throw in 5 stealth suits for some dakka from cover. I have about 80% of these models, so not a real stretch of the imagination, or the wallet.

Can I recommend the Forge the Narrative Podcast BOLS has got going on now? I think I can, BOLS took me off their blogroll years ago so there's no real conflict of interest anymore. It's pretty "legit," as they are so fond of saying. Finally some guys who know what they are talking about... hardcore competitive guys that manage to sound condescending only 30% of the time, and even then it's utterly without all that false humility, so you know they really mean it. But seriously, only 3 episodes in and I have enjoyed it far more than any other 40k podcast out there - no inside jokes, grabass, or gigglings that go on and on, just straight talk from some dudes that play a lot of games and have been to a lot of big tournaments, but more importantly, have all played this game for a long time.