Kanaan Cluster League: Round 3

Opponent: Space Marines
Deployment: Dawn of War
Mission: Crusade
Warlord: Strategic Genius

Unfortunately, I didn't catch my opponent's name this time around. Which is silly, because he was a damn nice fellow; speaks poorly of my manners for not formally introducing myself.

Anyway, round three, and my team had some ground to make up; we'd lost three of five matches last week, one of them for control of our spaceport. With it, we could attack almost any tile, regardless of whether we held the adjacent piece. Without it, we were at the mercy of a team that held three of four spaceports, the fourth sitting unclaimed to date. Unwilling to risk such an obvious tactical threat in the core of our territory, my Tau cadre paused its advance, and turned its full might on the single enemy tile in the heart of our gains.

I was bringing the same list as in round two, since it had served me so well there. My opponent meanwhile was taking an army the likes of which, frankly, I had simply never seen before. It consisted of the following;

Librarian w/Terminator Armour, Vortex of Doom, Quickening
5 x Terminators w/5 x Thunder Hammers & Storm Shields, Land Raider
10 x Terminators w/Assault Cannon
6 x Vanguard Veterans w/Lightning Claws, 2 x Storm Shields, 4 x Power Swords
10 x Tacticals w/Power Sword, Heavy Bolter
10 x Tacticals w/Power Sword, Lascannon
10 x Tacticals w/Power Fist, Lascannon
10 x Tacticals w/Power Fist, Heavy Bolter
9 x Scouts w/9 x Shotguns

My opponent won the roll-off, and got to place the first of the objectives, though since we'd rolled up four it didn't much matter. He ended up with one on his side, on an area terrain hilltop, and one in a forest in the centre, while I put my two rather closer to my table edge, on towards the centre and the other on the right.

To my surprise, the only things set to deep strike were the Vanguard vets. Everything else started on the board; the heavy bolter squads on the flanks, then the terminators (the Librarian and the five-man squad in the Land Raider on my left, the ten-man squad on my right), then the lascannon teams. The scouts were held back while I set up my own army, and despite the paucity of deep striking elements I must admit that his foot Marines list had me flustered enough that I opted for safety over mobility. Even though nearly everything on the board was coming at me from the front, and the Vanguard squad wouldn't be arriving until turn 2 at the earliest, I castled up once more. It was, at least, a smaller castle. My Aegis bunker held my warlord and his Quad gun, a squad of Fire Warriors allayed in a line along the front, the two XV88 teams on either edge, and the two Fireknife teams. My AFP-armed 'El and the Deathrains were outside the bunker on the left, with the third Fire Warrior squad, while my Allied contingent was as usual kept in reserve. Failing to seize and get Night Fight, again as usual for me, we started off.

My opponent's first turn was quite short. The heavy bolter tacticals on my left started hustling for the hilltop objective, while everything else shuffled forwards, the Land Raider in particular moving at a rather baffling 6". The reason was to allow it to fire both lascannons at my left-most XV88 team at full BS, but given that it was playing the role of a unit delivery system, in particular for a Librarian with a 12" S10 AP1 blast, I was shocked that he didn't go flat out to cover as much distance as possible. The scouts, who had deployed in the centre just on the outer edge of the forest (18" from units with line of sight had kept them that far back, at least), struggled through apparently insurmountably difficult terrain, having to run to actually get onto the marker. In his shooting phase, his Land Raider's lascannons managed to kill one of my leftmost XV88s, while the Terminators' assault cannon put a wound on one of the right-flank XV88s. Thankfully, the former passed their break test, leaving me just a single gun down at the start of the turn, and with First Blood still in my grasp.

A grasp that closed tightly in my own phase. I spread out my non-castled units, hopping my 'El and his Deathrains up onto a hill and sending the nearest Fire Warriors out around it to get their best shot at the scouts, while the Hammerhead scooted up and right to open clear lines of sight for its ion cannon. No sense bringing an AP3 weapon if you're going to give them cover saves, after all! While that picked off a couple of tacticals from the right-side lascannon squad, my left and centre Fire Warriors, the 'El with his AFP, the Deathrains and my warlord and his Quad gun managed to blast the scouts off the board in a torrent of shooting. The unit was wiped out to the last, offering me up First Blood and forcing him to send something else into the forests if he wanted that objective. My Fireknives and the third Fire Warrior squad managed to take down a couple of Terminators, including the sergeant, leading bravely from the front, while the XV88s whiffed their attacks on the Land Raider. Still, I was more than satisfied with my first turn when I handed it off to him for his second.

His Vanguard squad arrived, dropping on my left to threaten my Fire Warriors and the 'El and Deathrains, while the Land Raider once more scooted forwards a bare 6". The tacticals on the left continued to hustle up the hill, landing on the objective with some very solid difficult terrain rolls, while the assault cannon Terminators strode forwards and the other tacticals began to string themselves out, getting their lead elements as close as possible without having to move the heavy weapon members in the back. Unfortunately for him, at the end of his movement phase my Quad gun, fired on Interceptor, managed to put down two of his Vanguard vets straight away. Given that I didn't need to hold it in reserve against flyers or light tanks, I was more than happy to make the exchange. His shooting was no better, with my now-monat XV88 making its Aegis saves against those lascannons while the other team weathered the assault cannon and storm bolter fire. My Hammerhead did lose a hull point to a glancing lascannon shot that slipped through its disruption pod-enhanced cover save, but that was hardly a problem. And when his Vanguard squad charged my 'El and his Deathrains, Overwatch fire managed to put down another of their number. Of course, they promptly slaughtered my 'El in a challenge and two of the three Deathrains, but the last managed to drag a fourth Vanguard vet down before he predictably failed his morale check, shockingly managed to win the Initiative test, and again predictably, flew clear off the table edge; that's what happens when a squad near the back takes off 3D6". Still, that unit had already helped score me First Blood and completely eradicate a unit, as well as taking down a second third of the Vanguard squad, so I was hardly overcome by the tragedy of its loss.

In my turn, thanks to my warlord trait, both of my Allied units arrived. The Stormraven made a bee-line for the Land Raider, stopping just inside 12" for the full melta effect, while the assault squad with supporting characters landed on the right, near the heavy bolter tacticals, a forest between them and the various lascannons still standing. As it turned out, however, my Stormraven's aggressive charge was unnecessary; the intact XV88 squad managed to put a round clean through the Land Raider, exploding it quite smoothly. Though given that this then put my flyer's four AP1/2 shots at my disposal for dealing with the Terminators who promptly spilled out, it wasn't all bad. Two of them went down to the combined lascannon, multi-melta and bloodstrike missile fusillade, while closer to home three more of their brethren in the larger squad were felled by concerted fire from my right and centre Fire Warriors, the right-side Fireknives, and my warlord's missile pods. The Hammerhead claimed another pair of Marines from the heavy bolter squad my assault element were threatening, while the right flank Fire Warrior squad and my second Fireknife team finished off the Vanguard vets. Having cleaned out my deployment zone, removed the single vehicle on the board and gone some way to slaughtering the Terminators (the single biggest threat units), I felt confident handing off to my opponent.

Turn three, he hustled his Librarian and attached squad forwards, along with the other Terminators. The heavy bolter tacticals being threatened by my assault element dropped back into the forest, hoping to use it to slow my assault, while the other tactical squads pretty much held their ground. The Librarian was close enough to fire off a shot from Vortex of Doom, but unfortunately for my opponent it scattered just right to hit nothing at all. The heavy bolter squad that had retreated from my assault element opened fire, killing one Marine, while the two remaining lascannons tried for the flyer, but failed. In return, during my turn I managed to plink away another couple of tacticals with my ion cannon, this time from the right-side lascannon squad, while my XV88s, Fire Warriors and warlord on the Quad gun put an end to the Librarian and his Terminators, and the other Fire Warriors and Fireknives whittled the larger Terminator squad down to just two models, one of them holding the assault cannon. My assault element charged into the heavy bolter squad in the forest, easily wiping them out in exchange for the loss of a single Marine. They consolidated onto the edge of the forest, just far enough that they could use it for cover against the lascannons, but not so deep that they shouldn't be able to escape from the difficult terrain before they got their charge moves off. Amusingly, at this point my right-side Fireknives suffered their only casualty of the game, a model who had suffered two dangerous terrain wounds jumping on and off a hilltop over two turns. The terrain, my opponent observed with a wry smile, was doing as much damage to me as he was.

Turns four and five went quickly, since he was largely out of army. The Terminators managed to put a wound on my two-strong XV88 squad, leaving both suits wounded but neither dead, before being shot to pieces. The left-side lascannon squad tried for the forest, but were whittled down by constant pulse rifle and missile pod fire. I did make a rather foolish mistake in combat, though; my squad charged the right-side lascannon tacticals, and I opted not to challenge. My captain pulled two precision strikes, which for reasons I cannot explain I put on the lascannon gunner, wanting that weapon out of the fight. This simply left the power fist-armed sergeant, who my opponent had opted not to charge with, time to pulp my Sanguinary Priest, while the other tacticals dragged down the surviving assault Marines. The only one left was my captain, who just managed to finish off his target on the last turn. My opponent ended the game with just a single squad of tacticals left, the ones on the hill top holding an objective; they'd done almost nothing all game, and the distance had let me largely ignore them. Everything else was dead to the man, though.

With two objectives to my opponent's one, the victory was in the bag even before tallying up the secondaries. Which, once again, I had swept entirely, permitting not a one to my opponent.

Result: 2-1 primaries, 3-0 secondaries; Tau forces re-take spaceport tile

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