Movin' On Up, a-To the East Side!

I actually attended this tournament a couple of weekends ago, but between one thing and another it's taken me this long to actually get everything down in text. It was a really fun weekend, and marks my new personal best in terms of overall placement. Which, of course, only means I need to try even harder next time, in order to surpass myself. That bar's not going to get any lower, at least if I have anything to say about it!

Round 1: Mitch Breton (Black Templars)
Deployment: Dawn of War
Primary Objective: Capture and Control
Secondary Objective: Marked Man (nominate one model in your army; the enemy gets the Secondary if they kill that model)

Castellan w/Lightning Claw, Storm Shield, Artificier Armour
Emperor's Champion w/Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds
5 x Assault Terminators
5 x Assault Terminators
6 x Sword Brethren w/Terminator Honours, Lightning Claws, Power Weapon, Frag Grenades
9 x Crusaders w/Power Weapon, Meltagun, Drop Pod
10 x Crusaders w/Power Weapon, Meltagun, Drop Pod
Land Raider Crusader
Land Raider Crusader

So, on the one hand, it's a list full of Land Raiders and drop-pod melta; on the other hand, it's a predominantly close-range list with very little ranged firepower. Pros and cons.

Mitch won the roll-off, and elected to go first, which was fine by me; no Tau player worth his salts wants to go first in Dawn of War. He reserved his two Crusader squads, loaded the Assault Terminators into the Land Raiders and drove them onto the board on my right flank, and had the Emperor's Champion, Castellan and Grimaldus join up with the Sword Brethren, hanging out behind the two tanks on the right. In response, I went for a moderately refused flank. I sent my AFP commander, a squad of Fireknives, two XV88s and a Devilfish up on the right, while everything else walked or cruised onto the left hand side of the board. I hoped to use the longer range of my guns to soften him up, while forcing him to deal with a bit of serious firepower close in, so he couldn't just charge off blindly across the board.

And brother, did it work.

For once, the Land Raiders did not prove the invulnerable railgun-magnets they so usually are; the first one went down first turn, thanks to the low Night Fight rolls needed by the XV88 squad on the right flank (another reason they were there), and the second one followed after the very next turn. Both Land Raiders gone, and both Terminator squads stuck slogging across the board. In response, Mitch's drop pods deployed the nine-strong Crusader squad right smack-dab into my lines, but thankfully his melta gunner was having an off day, as he failed to draw a bead on the Hammerhead sitting right in front of him. He held the second Crusader drop pod bad, landing it on his own objective, while the first squad rampaged through my lines; by the time they were finally brought down, they'd slaughtered the Firewarriors on the objective, the Pathfinders, and torn the railgun from my Hammerhead. Their rampage almost ended up costing me dearly, as my other Firewarriors were so thoroughly out of position that it took me clear until Turn 4, and a bit of fancy manoeuvring with a couple of Devilfish, to put a squad back on the objective. Close, but not close enough!

But since both of us had thoroughly protected our 'Marked Men' (he by nominating Grimaldus and hiding him in that squad, me by nominating one of the three Deathrains and just having them hang well back of anything that could threaten them), if I wanted a win, I'd have to do something about his own objective. Sadly, attempts to charge up on it met with failure, as some very favourable rolls let him shoot down my Piranha and, contrary to what I'd thought, it turned out the Terminators were close enough to charge a Devilfish I'd sent in there to try and tank shock onto the objective. With no way to get close enough to contest, it all came down to shooting, and the shooting all came down to the wire. Man by man I whittled away at his Crusaders until, with literally the last gunshot in the last turn we'd have time for, the very last Marine died. Victory for the Tau Empire!

Result: Major Victory

Round 2: Kyle Beveridge (Dark Eldar)
Deployment: Pitched Battle
Primary Objective: Annihilation
Secondary Objective: Forward March (+1 point for each of your Troops in the enemy's deployment zone, -1 point for each of your Troops in your deployment zone)

Asdrubael Vect
3 x Ravagers w/3 x Dark Lances, Night Field, Flickerfield
Venom w/2 x Splinter Cannon, Night Field, Flickerfield
2 x Raiders w/Dark Lance, Night Field, Flickerfield
2 x Haemonculus w/Hexrifle
4 x Trueborn w/4 x Blaster
20 x Warriors w/2 x Splinter Cannon
20 x Warriors w/2 x Splinter Cannon
10 x Warriors w/Sergeant, Splinter Cannon
9 x Wytches w/Hekatrix, Shard Net & Impaler, Haywire Grenades, Phantasm Grenades, Agonizer
9 x Jetbikes w/3 x Blasters

This was my first fight with Dark Eldar, and man was it fun! Unlike entirely too many brick-like Marine builds, the Dark Eldar were so shooty, and so fragile, that the fight was always completely up for grabs. That's the kind of uncertainty that makes for a great game!

I knew Dark Eldar were fast, but I admit, I wasn't prepared for how good their shooting can be! On the first turn I lost a Devilfish and my Hammerhead to all those Lances, the latter a serious blow indeed given how tailor-made the S6 AP4 large blast submunition is for dealing with the T3 Dark Eldar's FNP-boasting troops. Ah well; nothing for it but to soldier on. And despite the viciousness of that particular loss, I was far from out of the game. At the start of his turn one, Kyle had 3 Ravagers, 2 Raiders, a Venom, 9 jetbikes and 9 Wytches; by the end of my turn one, he had no Ravagers, a Raider, a Venom, no jetbikes, and 4 Wytches, thanks to a hilariously bloody-minded scatter roll on my AFP (though, I have since been informed that blast weapons can't scatter past their maximum range, which this did; it wouldn't have changed much, but it would've been less hilarious). Glass cannons, those Dark Eldar.

Unfortunately, I pretty much suicided my entire right flank, with some terrible movement. Forgetting the Dark Eldar are Fleet I left my AFP commander close to the Wytches and Vect, with the intention of catching them once more with the Dark Eldar-killing large blast; unfortunately, he was too close, and never got the chance. With him dead, I then let a Fireknife squad fall back too close to an XV88 pair, allowing Kyle to multi-assault the pair of them into the ground. Three kill points off those Wytches and Vect, alone! Things went better on the left, with my other XV88s dealing with the last Raider and then using their SMS on the survivors, while my Piranha got clear up into the Venom's personal space to use its fusion blaster through that most annoying '+6" to shoot at them' field. Of course, the Piranha then went down in a hail of blaster fire from the surviving Trueborns, so possibly it wasn't the best tradeoff. Still, I'd managed to shoot down every vehicle Kyle had, while retaining two of my own Devilfish full of troops, which made me pretty confident.

Which is probably why I lost my dang mind. On Turn 4, with both Devilfish safely on Kyle's side of the line, I opted to disembark one of my squads and fire into the Warriors advancing onto my side. The Firewarriors were within rapid fire range, I rationalized, with nice clear cover-free sightlines and their AP5 guns meant no armour saves. And if I could break the Warriors, Kyle would only have one squad on my side and one on his, giving me the minor. Of course, those of you more experienced at fighting these particular xenos than I will notice I forgot two key things; pain tokens give FNP, and pain tokens give Fearless. I actually managed to kill a good six Warriors with my Firewarriors, but their return fire cost me the squad when it broke, and was too close to the surviving Warriors to rally in Turn 5. What's worse, it turned out the other Warrior squad wasn't even halfway over the line, meaning it counted as being on Kyle's side; I could've had the minor with no effort on my part. All my actions had served to do was cost me those easy points, which I needed since despite slaughtering much of Kyle's army he was still two kill points up on me when it ended. Well, live and learn.

Result: Major Loss

Round 3: Dalton Nash (Eldar)
Deployment: Spearhead
Primary Objective: Seize Ground
Secondary Objective: Kill Points

20 x Dire Avengers
17 Guardians w/Warlock
10 x Howling Banshees w/Wave Serpent
6 x Fire Dragons w/Wave Serpent
4 x Dark Reapers

The terrain on this last table was a little unbalanced, which Dalton took full advantage of when he won the roll-off. While I got a bit of ruin, he got a lot of ruin, spread out on either side of a forest section. There was so much cover there that he had room for the Guardians, the Dire Avengers, the Farseer, the Wraithlord, the Dark Reapers and the Wraithlord, all of them nicely protected by cover from my return fire. I, meanwhile, used the tried and true Tau tactic of hiding my suits behind my Devilfish, and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, the best was not what the dice had in mind. Hampered by the Eldar's ability to reduce my railguns to S8, while at the same time reducing my Hammerhead's front armour to AV12 for their own shooting, I struggled to put down those three tanks, while they blasted my Hammerhead to smithereens first turn and claimed one of my Devilfish. When I eventually did remove the transports all that happened was that the Fire Dragons and Howling Banshees inside started charging and shooting through my lines, costing my a Fireknife squad, an XV88 squad and my Pathfinders. In response I opened up on those units with most of my short-range firepower, but the Banshees had cover from their exploded Wave Serpent's crater the first round of shooting, while the Fire Dragons were on the other side of my own cover, instant death-ing my battlesuits and passing their own cover saves with relative impunity. Things only got worse when his Avatar came on from reserves and crashed into my rear lines, though in my defence Dalton had been remarkably unclear about leaving that thing in reserves; he hadn't even had an army list, so I could know it was coming! He'd made some sort of weird joke, but he was constantly making weird jokes about things that weren't true. Well, just goes to show how important it is to ask for a rundown of the opponents army!

Anyway. The Avatar actually caused relatively little damage, taking out my plasma-armed 'el and his bodyguard, and nearly dying to mass pulse rifle fire. The real problem, though, was that he was able to walk up and onto my objective, contesting it from the Firewarriors hanging on for dear life against the stubbornly-surviving Fire Dragons, while I had nothing that could do the same to Dalton's objective. And of course, the Minor Objective was always going to be a disaster, since Tau really couldn't be worse suited for Kill Points missions if they'd been specifically designed for them. Ultimately, Dalton had most of his army sitting in cover around his objective, while just a few of his units had torn through my own lines, costing me vehicles, battlesuits, and worst of all, the objective. The game was a consummate disaster, from start to finish.

Result: Major Loss

Overall Result: 13th of 18

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