Kanaan Cluster League: Round 2

Opponent: Trevor Engle (SM)
Mission: The Scouring (sort of)
Deployment: Vanguard Strike
Warlord: Princeps of Deceit

Can I just say, Princeps of Deceit is the worst?  If you're going second, it's actually, literally useless; it can't take you out of your deployment zone, and you can't use it to counter Infiltrators.  Seriously, this trait is awful.  I can not wait until the new Tau codex comes out and we get warlord trait tables that aren't mostly full of things that are actively working against the nature of the army.

Though the second day of league play was nominally set at 1500, Trevor wanted to get some practice in before the tournament that weekend, so we bumped it up to 2000. In place of my list from the previous week, then, I brought this:

Shas'El w/Twin-Linked Missile Pods, AFP, Hard-Wired Multi-Tracker
Shas'El w/Twin-Linked Missile Pods, Multi-Tracker
Blood Angels Captain w/Jump Pack, Power Sword
3 x XV8 w/3 x Plasma Rifle, 3 x Missile Pod, 3 x Multi-Tracker
3 x XV8 w/3 x Plasma Rifle, 3 x Missile Pod, 3 x Multi-Tracker
3 x XV8 w/3 x Twin-Linked Missile Pods, 3 x Flamer
Blood Angels Sanguinary Priest w/Jump Pack
8 x Fire Warriors
8 x Fire Warriors
8 x Fire Warriors
Blood Angels Assault Squad
2 x XV88 w/2 x ASS, Team Leader, Hard-Wired Target Lock
2 x XV88 w/2 x ASS
Hammerhead w/Ion Cannon, 2 x Burst Cannons, Multi-Tracker, Disruption Pod
Blood Angels Stormraven
Aegis Defence Line w/Quad Gun

The presence of the ion cannon came as something of a shock to Trevor; like most tau players, I commonly field the 'railhead'. However, I was squeezed for points, and had just finished painting up an ion cannon turret (the spare from the sprue I picked up for the railgun for my 'Stormraven'), giving me the option for the first time. And I thought, why not; after all, the solid shot misses all the time anyway, and what tau commander can't use a little more dakka?

Trevor's strike force:
Captain w/Artificier Armour, Digital Weapons, Power Sword
5 x Command Squad w/Apothecary, 4 x Plasma Guns, 4 x Storm Shields, Drop Pod
Master of the Forge
5 x Sternguard w/5 x Combi-Melta, Drop Pod
10 x Tacticals w/Missile Launcher, Flamer, Rhino
5 x Scouts w/Sniper Rifle, Missile Launcher, Land Speeder Storm
Dreadnought w/Heavy Flamer, Drop Pod
Dreadnought w/2 x Twin-Linked Autocannon
2 x Land Speeder w/2 x Multi-Melta, 2 x Heavy Flamer
Storm Talon
Aegis Defence Line w/Icarus Lascannon

Trevor won the roll-off, and deployed relatively little. The Vindicator was pushing up against the line in the middle, half-hidden behind a hill and with the Rhino shielding its exposed flank. The tacticals were split in half, the flamer team hiding on an objective in a set of ruins, the missile launcher team formed into a squad with the Master of the Forge, and holding the Icarus inside the Aegis line, backed up by the twin-linked autocannon Dreadnought. Everything else started off the board, the Captain with the Command Squad, the Stormtalon escorting the outflanking landspeeder Storm and the two standard landspeeders set to deep strike. In response, I put forwards my best counter-drop strategy. Building off a ruin for added circumference, I arrayed my own Aegis in a rough circle. In the centre was my warlord, the AFP-less Shas'El, manning the Quad Gun, and the Hammerhead. Around them were the other suits, my second 'El with the Deathrains, making certain there was nowhere inside the line for a drop pod to land. And my Fire Warriors remained in reserve, along with the Blood Angels contingent and, of course, my Stormraven. I failed to seize, and Night Fight didn't come into play.

Trevor's drop was textbook. The two infantry squads crashed down on either side of my bunker, and the Marines inside spilled out, combi-meltas and plasma guns at the ready. The Vindicator rumbled forwards, trying to get into range (my bunker was far enough back that it simply couldn't get a first-turn shot at anything), while everything else remained in place. And then, Trevor's dice betrayed him. Not one, but two of the Command Squad dropped to overheating plasma guns. This despite both armour and FNP saves!  The combi-meltas managed to glance the Hammerhead, but that was all. And with the Aegis line, I lost just one of my Fireknives, who passed their break test, to the plasma fire that did actually work. With his alpha strike blunted, all Trevor could do was brace for my return fire. Which was more successful, if only moderately; my surviving Deathrains and my 'El dealt with the Rhino, managing to explode it. While Trevor was initially satisfied with my 'wasting' such firepower on a non-entity like an empty Rhino, there were two points in my favour; first, it gave me First Blood, and second, with the Rhino a gently smoking crater one of my XV88 teams now had a very nice view of the Vindicator. Unfortunately, as they tend to do as often as not, they rather whiffed their shooting, managing to inflict no damage. My 'El and the Quad gun took a shot at the Dreadnought, but likewise achieved nothing. Meanwhile, everything else poured fire into the two Marine units already in my lines. While I did manage to do quite a bit of damage, neither unit was eliminated, and neither unit broke.

Turn two, Trevor's reserved elements refused to come in. Wary of being immobilized, he sent his Vindicator around the hill, aiming to drop down onto my flanks. And his surviving podded Marines spread out, readying their second volley. This time they concentrated entirely on my suits, but another round of poor rolling and the Aegis saves meant I managed to keep nearly all of them safely on the table. And unluckily for him, my own reserves were nowhere near as reticent. My assault element dropped back near Trevor's rear objective, in the shelter of a tall bit of free-standing rubble, while the Stormraven made a straight line for the Vindicator. My three Fire Warrior squads, meanwhile, angled towards the surviving Marines, intent on overwhelming them with pure weight of firepower. The Stormraven took a hit from the Icarus, fired on Interceptor, which penetrated and locked its velocity. Shaking off that near thing, though, the flyer neatly melta'd the Vindicator into a smoking crater, though in an effort to be certain of its death I didn't bother using the Machine Spirit to split its fire; that Vindicator took a lascannon, a multi-melta and two bloodstrike missiles. It's no surprise it blew up, the only surprise is it didn't blow up more! Back near my lines, the Fire Warriors managed to clear out the Marines, including Trevor's captain, while my suits destroyed one of the Deathwind-equipped pods and put a glance on the distant Dreadnought. The death of Trevor's captain gave me Slay the Warlord, putting me two ahead already, something I was more than happy to trade for that one model taking an entire squad's rapid fire volley on his own. Artificier-equipped captains, man; they're beasts.

But Trevor had cards left to play, and he was keeping the mission in mind. Turn three, his second dreadnought and the two landspeeders arrived, dropping down to threaten two of my Fire Warrior squads. Unsurprisingly, they made an absolute mess of them; flamers that wound on 2's and ignore tau armour tend to do that when they catch Fire Warrior squads bunched up tight. Both squads disappeared without a trace, neatly removing half my scoring units in an objective game in one shooting phase. His other dreadnought, meanwhile, put an autocannon round into the nose of my Hammerhead, though S7 meant it was just a second glance, and the Marines at the back in the ruins picked off one member of my assault squad. Thankfully that Icarus couldn't fire again, but it had already done its job; with my Stormraven having covered 30" to get into prime position, Locked Velocity was going to seriously hamper my ability to manoeuvre that thing around the board. In my turn, I sent my surviving Fire Warriors racing towards one of my objectives, though a forest in the way slowed them immensely. My two XV88 squads turned to deal with the flamer-equipped dreadnought, while the other suits began to push outwards; with no more deep striking units, I didn't need my Aegis bunker. Combined fire from my 'El and his Quad Gun and the other 'El and the surviving Deathrains put down both Landspeeders, but the dreadnought survived, my railguns yet again proving to have been of sub-par construction. And then, it happened.

I'm not going to lie; this moment was absolutely hilarious. My assault squad and attached characters had scooted up towards the Marines in the ruins, intent on slaughtering them. A volley of pistol fire, to soften them up, resulted in exactly two casualties, and in an attempt to preserve his squad from certain death at the hands of a power sword-wielding captain backed up by six FNP Marines, Trevor opted to fail his leadership test. When he rolled his fallback, however, the dice read a whopping ten, half an inch more than that required to send the lead element of that squad careening off the edge of the table. My assault element had cleared an objective and wiped out a squad of Marines with nothing more than pistol fire.

Since it was turn four, the landspeeder Storm, its cargo of Scouts and its accompanying Stormtalon finally deigned to arrive. The latter headed straight for my surviving Fire Warrior squad, Trevor obviously focused on playing the mission, while the former hugged my deployment, intent on sticking it out for one of the secondaries. Their speeder-based fire clattered harmlessly off my armour, while the Stormtalon put down a handful of Fire Warriors who, thankfully, passed their break test. With nothing else to offer save some ineffectual fire from the remaining drop pods, Trevor handed it off to me for the bottom of turn five.

My strategy was simple enough. The Stormraven exited the board; it had no good targets, and was a sitting duck for the Stormtalon, The assault element settled happily on their objective, claiming it and Linebreaker at the same time, while the Fire Warriors sprinted for their objective, albeit unsuccessfully. The XV88s finally managed to put down that flamer-armed dreadnought, its explosion fitting revenge for the troops it had burned to ashes. And finally, everything else opened up on the Scouts and their speeder, intent on removing them from the board. Which they did; the speeder went down to ion cannon fire, while the scouts, despite being in ruins with camo cloaks, simply could not weather the storm of fire from the rest of my suits. Less than a turn after arriving on the board the unit departed ignominiously, to Trevor's frustration but not his surprise. They'd been a faint hope, after all.

The game ended on turn 5, with me as a solid winner. Trevor had the objective in the Aegis line, and he'd hoped to claim the one my Fire Warriors were heading towards, though the height of the Stormtalon prevented that (after I demonstrated that for measuring objectives, the hull, not the base, is what matters). I had the objective I'd taken from the fleeing Marines in the back, a tie at first glance, but I also had all three secondaries, and two destroyed Fast Attack units, putting me well out ahead.

A little note; I said we were 'sort of' playing the Scouring, and the reason is because we'd gone off memory. Instead of six objectives of varying values, however, we'd put down D3+2 of equal values. While the proper game might have saved Trevor, if the objective in his Aegis bunker had turned out to be the most valuable and the one I held the least, we both agreed that since we'd played the same game the whole time, there was no point in fussing over it having been the wrong one.

Result: 1-1 primaries, 0-5 secondaries; Tau forces seize power generator tile

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