Vs. - Aaron Plate (Orks)
Deployment: Hammer & Anvil
Mission: The Scouring
Secondary Objectives: First Blood, Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker
Warboss w/Power Klaw, Cybork Body, 'Eavy Armour, Bosspole, Attack Squig
Warboss w/Warbike, Power Klaw, Cybork Body, Bosspole
7 x Nobs w/Warbikes, 3 x Power Klaw, 4 x Big Choppa, 7 x Cybork Body, Painboy, Waaagh! Banner
9 x Nobs w/5 x Power Klaw, 4 x Big Choppa, 9 x 'Eavy Armour, 9 x Cybork Body, Painboy, Waaagh! Banner
Battlewagon w/Kannon, Armour Plates, Grot Riggers, Red Paint Job
30 x Ork Boyz w/Nob, Power Klaw
15 x Lootas
15 x Lootas
Ah, Hammer & Anvil; a shooty army's best friend. Sure, there's the same two feet of no man's land between deployment zones as in the other two missions, but here your deployment zone is twice as deep. If you've got the range, and Tau most certainly do, you can put a solid three feet of distance between yourself and your on-the-line enemy, and still be in range. Which, after winning the roll-off, is exactly what I did. Everything went onto the table, except for my Allied unit, which hung back in reserve. I spread out as well as I could, a unit of Firewarriors on either side shielded by a Devilfish and supported by a Fireknife and XV88 team, while in the middle the third unit of Firewarriors and a Devilfish were sharing space with my commander and the Deathrains, the Hammerhead at the back, and the Pathfinders up front. In response, Aaron deployed his Nob bikerz on the line in the centre, with the Battlewagon and non-biker Nobz behind them, the two squads of Lootas on the distant edge, one of them standing on a hillside and the other against the table edge, and the large mob hanging out down on the side closest to me. Aaron failed to seize, which was bad news for him, but not as bad as Night Fight coming on first turn.
Of course, Night Fight doesn't bother Tau. My commander, Hammerhead and two XV88 squads have Blacksun Filters, the commander passing it along to the Deathrains, and Pathfinders no longer care about Night Fight at all; 36" is the limit of their range anyway, and you can't take saves against markerlight tokens. So, turn 1 was predictably devastating for poor Aaron. With an assist from some markerlight tokens, the XV88 squad closest to me put a round clear through the Battlewagon, blowing it to smithereens, earning me the First Blood secondary and killing five Lootas in the process. Sadly, my Hammerhead could not keep up, its large blast scattering not just off the Lootas on the hill, but clear off the table. The others added their firepower, wounding Nob bikerz and picking away at the big boyz mob and the unwounded Lootas. I'd deployed a little badly, my Firewarriors too far back to get their shots in first turn, but I certainly wasn't unhappy with it. In return, Aaron sent his bikerz up the middle, opening fire on the Pathfinders and killing all but one, who bravely kept his post. The dismounted Nobz trundled towards one the far Firewarrior squad, while the boyz mob spread out, heading towards a 4-point objective. I myself only had two 2-points in my deployment zone, with the rest being on Aaron's side of the table, behind his advancing horde. Aside from the Pathfinders, his shooting accomplished nothing, with my extremely well-protected Devilfish (4+ Flat Out save, +2 for Night Fight distance) easily shrugging off the Lootas' firepower. At the end of the turn I was cautiously optimistic, though still wary of what kind of damage those bikerz would do if they hit my lines.
As the game went on, however, it quickly became obvious the Orks were fatally outgunned. With no more vehicles to shoot at my XV88s started popping bikerz, and while it was lucky if one shot per team got through, Aaron's Look Out, Sir! rolls weren't so hot; he lost his Warboss to an early hit, giving me Slay the Warlord as a second secondary, and when bikerz weren't being one-shotted by railguns they were being whittled down by the pulse rifles of my close and central Firewarrior squads and the missile pods of my commander and his Deathrains. The Lootas on the hill, meanwhile, weren't so lucky a second time, and lost six more to a railgun submunition. Meanwhile, my distant Firewarrior and Fireknife squads traded fire with the more intact Lootas squad, who got pretty lucky in only losing a few at a time; bad to-hit and to-wound rolls on my part, while the only unit that could engage the boyz mob was my Fireknives, whose firepower was too strong and not plentiful enough, picking away just a couple of boyz a turn. Aaron's only attempt to get his Nob bikerz into close combat ended poorly, with a charge at my commander and the Deathrains not only falling short, but earning the squad another couple of wounds, though no deaths, from their flamers' Wall of Death effect. And for the rest of his force, well, things were bad, and about to get worse.
My Allies remained in reserve until Turn 3, somewhat disappointing but hardly catastrophic. When they dropped, they landed near Aaron's table edge, on my near side, a bit back from the boyz mob. Aaron tried to shoot the 'experimental XV25s' away, but between 3+ and 5++, not a one of them went down, leaving the full force of them to crash into the edge of his mob next turn. Between their Hammer of Wrath attacks, their Rage bonus and the number of base attacks all the models had, they easily cleaned out a 3" circle of bodies around them, leaving no Orks close enough to consolidate back into combat. Unable to get a hit in, the Orks lost combat by seven, and since there were only ten of them left, and no Nob (he'd gone down to plasma rifle fire earlier) they quickly broke, ran and were swept. Nearly twenty boyz, killed by six models. For a Tau commander, it was so awesome as to be a little baffling, frankly. And more importantly, they were the only squad on an objective, meaning we'd suddenly gone from being tied to me being up 4-0.
By the last turn, there was really only one question left; could I kill enough of his walking nobz to keep him from being able to get the Linebreaker secondary? Well, I gave it the old college try, but between their regular saves, their invulnerable saves and their FNP, I just could not put enough wounds onto the squad. I whittled it down, but not enough, so at the end of the game Aaron had a scoring unit in my deployment zone, earning him six points; the basic three for playing through the whole round, and three for the secondary. I, meanwhile, had pulled off a perfect twenty; three for playing, eight for achieving the primary, and nine for achieving all three secondaries.
Not bad for a first outing with the new rules.
I didn't get a chance to put everything I'd worked hard to remember into action, this battle. While I did make extensive use of the sea turtle trick (moving Devilfish out of the Firewarriors' line of sight, shooting the Firewarriors, then Flat Out-ing the Devilfish back in front of them to give both units maximum cover), some of the new rules just didn't come up. I didn't really get a chance to use Focus Fire, since usually there was either no cover for the Orks or so much cover I'd have only been hitting one or two of them, and the 'no wounds on models out of sight' did bite me a little with the boyz mob; most of them were hidden from my Fireknives, the unit primarily tasked with dealing with them, by a hill for much of the game. I also didn't score any precision shots, which isn't surprising, since my commander is the only character in my army, and he's only got the two missile pod shots and an AFP he can't score 6's to-hit on. On the other hand, the closest-to-closest removal was just as brutal as I'd expected it to be, though if Aaron had remembered to Turbo-Boost his nobz no amount of failed LO,S! rolls would've saved me from losing a unit or three to those monsters. Of course, now I have monsters of my own, and I really could not have been happier with the way my Allies performed. Yes, they're about four hundred points, and yes, even with 3+ Reserve rolls they took their time getting in, but once they hit they hit hard! Hammer of Wrath is a serious boon to jump pack assault units, letting them start the fight with a kill or three in their favour, and jump packs rerolling charge distances took me from getting two or three models into combat to getting the full six-strong squad in there. Coupled with the changes to Rage, and those boyz never knew what hit them. Which was a pleasant change, since usually I'm the one who's concussedly ignorant of preceding events. A very nice chance, indeed.
So, flush with the greatest possible victory I could achieve given the scoring framework, I headed into the second round the consummate optimist. Unfortunately, that optimism lasted just about as long as it took me to find myself face to face with Jamie, and an army practically tailor-made to hurt Tau.