Escalation in Alpha Prime - Week 5

Opponent: Owen (Space Marines)
Deploymenet: Vanguard Strike
Mission: Crusade
Point Level: 1500

Chapter Master w/Jump Pack, Digital Lasers, Hellfire Rounds, Combi-Melta, Relic Blade
Captain w/Artificier Armour, Digital Lasers, Hellfire Rounds, Combi-Melta
10 x Tacticals w/Flamer, Missile Launcher
10 x Tacticals w/2 x Flamer
Venerable Dreadnought w/Multi-Melta, Powerfist, Drop Pod
Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin-Linked Lascannon, Missile Launcher
Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin-Linked Lascannon, Missile Launcher
Vanquisher w/Hunter-Killer

Oh, come on, Vanguard Strike again? Why is a one-in-three chance turning up so regularly!

Owen was a bit of a kid, which a strange little hodge-podge of an army, much of it clearly still in the process of being built and painted. Which I think goes some way towards explaining what happened this game. I don't condone clubbing seals, but nobody learns except through trial and error in the game. Trial and disastrous, disastrous error.

I won the roll-off, and deployed the following:
Shas'El w/Twin-Linked Missile Pods, Airbursting Fragmentation Projector, Hard-Wired Multi-Tracker, Hard-Wired Blacksun Filter
3 x XV8 w/3 x Plasma Rifle, 3 x Missile Pod, 3 x Multi-Tracker
2 x XV8 w/2 x Plasma Rifle, 2 x Missile Pod, 2 x Multi-Tracker
3 x XV8 w/3 x Twin-Linked Missile Pods, 3 x Flamer
8 x Fire Warriors
8 x Fire Warriors
8 x Fire Warriors
5 x Pathfinders w/Devilfish, Disruption Pod
2 x XV88 w/2 x Advanced Stabilization System, Team Leader, Target Lock
2 x XV88 w/2 x Advanced Stabilization System, Team Leader, Target Lock
Hammerhead w/Railgun, 2 x Burst Cannons, Multi-Tracker, Blacksun Filter, Disruption Pod
Aegis Defence Line

The disruption pods were the post-FAQ ones, a change Coulton, who happened to be passing by, was unspeakably grateful he hadn't had to face the previous week. On the other hand, the new rulebook FAQ had nixed the idea of spreading the Aegis out, which meant I didn't have quite the scope for my defences, anymore. That wasn't too much of a problem, though. I put it in the centre-right, stretched out to cover most of my army in its traditional three-point configuration, with the third group, consisting of a squad of XV88s, the stronger Fireknives and a Fire Warrior team, sheltering behind a bit of natural terrain and the Devilfish. I placed my objective there, and handed off to Owen for his deployment. He put one of his dreadnoughts in a tower-top, with the other on the ground behind the double-flamer squad and the artificier captain off to one side, while the third waited for its drop pod to touch down. The jump pack captain and the other tactical squad took up a central position, and the Vanquisher deployed on the left corner of his zone. Again, night fight and seize rolls failed to kick in, and the game was afoot!

Amusingly, despite directing four twin-linked railguns at it, the Vanquisher ultimately succumbed to nothing more than the missile pods stripping off its hull points with glances. Well, the important thing was that it died; who killed it was a decidedly secondary concern. With the only really heavy artillery gone, I hunkered down to weather the fusillade of dreadnought return fire, my forces spread out as widely as possible to limit the drop pod's landing options. Happily, said drop pod managed to scatter clear off the table, which isn't something its inertial guidance systems protect against. Like Typhus the week before, the dreadnought with the multi-melta found himself landing smack in the back corner of the board, as far from the fighting as it was possible to get.

Owen didn't have much better luck with the rest of his turn. The save-enhancing disruption pods proved far too much to get through with just a handful of shots, and both the dual-flamer squad and the missile launcher squad were too far out of range to contribute, save for the missile launcher, which missed. Without scoring a single kill, Owen ended his turn.

The game was brutally lopsided, far more so than even the previous weeks, not least because of Owen's poor strategy. Rather than combat squad the tacticals, which would've given him two squads to hold the objective, he kept them together, meaning they were easy picking for a concentrated torrent of fire. My XV88s trained their railguns on the dreadnoughts, though a combination of poor shooting and good cover saves meant only the multi-melta dreadnought ever went down, while everything else that could simply obliterated the squad on the objective. Hesitating, Owen started his second squad back, which was probably the worst thing he could've done; if they'd pushed on they might've survived long enough to hit my lines, at which point even just a handful of Marines are a serious problem, but by pulling back they just gave me that much longer to shoot at them outside their own optimal engagement area. By turn 4, both Tactical squads were gone, leaving Owen incapable of holding the objective and in possession of just two dreadnoughts, against which the vast majority of my cadre's striking power remained available. With no way to win and several consecutive miracles needed even just to tie, Owen offered to surrender. And of course, being the enlightened Tau commander I am, I was perfectly content to accept my opponent's withdrawal from the field, even with such precious items as a pair of Space Marine dreadnoughts, to preserve Tau lives.

Running Total: 3-1-1

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