Escalation in Alpha Prime - Week 2

Opponent: Austin (Tau Empire)
Deployment: Vanguard Strike
Mission: Crusade

Shas'O w/Missile Pod, Shield Generator, Blacksun Filter, Vectored Retro-Thrusters, Stimulant Injectors, Failsafe Detonator
6 x XV15 w/Shas'ui, Fusion Blaster, Bonding Knife, Blacksun Filter
12 x Fire Warriors w/Shas'Ui, Blacksun Filter, Rail Rifle, Bonding Knife, Markerlight
12 x Fire Warriors w/Shas'Ui, Blacksun Filter, Rail Rifle, Bonding Knife, Markerlight, EMP Grenades, Photon Grenades, Devilfish w/Smart Missile System, Sensor Spines, Decoy Launcher, Disruption Pod, Flechette Dischargers, Blacksun Filter
Hammerhead w/Railgun, Smart Missile Systems, Multi-Tracker, Target Lock, Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter

One of the surest signs of an inexperienced Tau player is a proliferation of stuff. While many Tau units can't really take anything at all (Fire Warriors, Kroot, Vespid, Pathfinders), the ones who can have options out the wazoo. And many of them look like perfectly reasonable things to take. They all do interesting, even valuable things, and some of them stack together nicely enough. But they also eat into your points, and being a fourth edition codex Tau don't have a lot of points to spare for bells and whistles. Which is why, as soon as I looked at Austin's list, it was pretty obvious this would be less of a game, and more a teaching experience.

My list, for comparison.

Shas'El w/Airbursting Fragmentation Projector, Twin-Linked Missile Pods, Hard-Wired Blacksun Filter, Hard-Wired Multi-Tracker
2 x XV8 w/2 x Plasma Rifle, 2 x Missile Pod, 2 x Multi-Tracker
2 x XV8 w/2 x Plasma Rifle, 2 x Missile Pod, 2 x Multi-Tracker
2 x XV8 w/2 x Twin-Linked Missile Pods, 2 x Flamer
8 x Fire Warriors
8 x Fire Warriors
XV88 w/Advanced Stabilization System
XV88 w/Advanced Stabilization System
Hammerhead w/Railgun, 2 x Burst Cannons, Multi-Tracker, Blacksun Filter, Disruption Pod
Aegis Defence Line

Lots of units, with lots of guns, and nobody drunk on wargear options. In my experience, barring tactical wizardry, this is the only way to run a successful cadre.

We rolled up Vanguard Strike and Crusade, and I won the roll-off, selecting my corner and dropping my objective neatly behind one of my Aegis sections. I spread out in the usual three-point formation, the corners anchored by XV88s supporting a team of Firewarriors, with the Fireknives there to provide close support. My commander, attached to the Deathrains, and the Hammerhead made up the central spur, the tank hidden as best it could behind a large hill. Austin opted for a more aggressive approach, though also a less optimal one; one Fire Warrior squad, joined by his commander, held the objective on top of a hill opposite the one my tank was hiding behind, with his Hammerhead hiding it behind it in a mirror of my own strategy. The Fire Warriors with attached Devilfish, meanwhile, started out on the left edge of his zone, along with his XV15s, the lot of them just raring to go. He failed to seize, Night Fight kicked in, and we were off.

Unfortunately, the first turn was less than impressive. I'd put my Fire Warriors too far back to open up on his lines, and my suits found their shots either going awry or being blunted by Night Fight or Disruption Pod saves. I made no major advances, just shuffled around a little, and let Austin go. He sent his XV15s and Devilfish off as fast as he could, just as expected, while his commander took the odd potshot at my Fire Warriors behind the Aegis line, while his Hammerhead proved just as ineffectual as my own. Unfortunately, while the Devilfish is good, it isn't that good; putting it so far out in front earned it a railgun slug through the nose, wrecking it and spilling its contents out into open midfield. Where they perished mightily, caught under the guns of my own two Fire Warrior squads and the significantly more deadly firepower of my left-side Fireknives. Poor guys never knew what hit them. In return, however, Austin managed to do what I had failed at, using his Hammerhead to take out my own with a solid explosion that, thankfully, failed to do any collateral damage. His XV15s popped out from around the side of a building and took a few pot-shots at my Fireknives, who thankfully were behind the curve of the Aegis from that angle, since the fusion blasters were in range. Stymied, they jumped back into cover, though a bad roll left them slightly exposed.

Amazingly, that squad of XV15s would go on to completely destroy my left flank. They took casualties from my Fireknives, but not as much as they might've without their stealth fields, but over the next several turns they managed to shoot one of those Fireknives, break my Fire Warrior squad, and then charge and defeat both my remaining Fireknife and my XV88. There might only have been one of them left by the end, but that little guy earned his keep!

Unfortunately, his success was mostly a sideshow. On the main stage, I managed to shoot down Austin's Hammerhead after a few more turns, its submunition blast singularly failing to do the job when it came to clearing my Fire Warriors off the objective; a 4+ cover save, jumping to 2+ when he really got a solid roll to wound and I opted to go to ground, proved too tough to overcome with just a single vehicle's weaponry. Meantime, his single battlesuit, anchored to a unit of Fire Warriors, was steadily chewed up by a pincer strike of my own commander and the Deathrains coming left and high, and a Fireknife team, supported by the surviving XV88, coming in low and right. At the end of Turn 5, when the game ended, he'd completely lost the squad and commander, leaving him shot entirely off the table save for that single, valiant XV15 hiding down on my far left flank.

Running Score: 2-0-0

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