Relics of Treasure - Week 9

Round 9: 2500 pts
Graham (Grey Knights)

Grey Knight Brother Captain
Callidus Assassin
10 x Grey Knight Strike Squad w/Psybolt, 2 x Psycannon
10 x Grey Knight Interceptor Squad w/Psybolt, 2 x Psycannon
5 x Grey Knight Terminators w/Incinerator

You may have noticed that Graham was fielding slightly less than the full 2500 points. The reason for this is because it was decided that, for the league's grand finale, my Tau would seek to disrupt the Grey Knights' hold on the orbiting space station, a tile Graham had held without interruption, under constant challenge, for three weeks in a row. The space station is a series of interlocked corridors, like a game of Space Hulk, rather than an open field, and since the internal space is so much smaller the games were likewise scaled down. For the final week, it was only a thousand points, with the further restriction of no vehicles, and nothing that couldn't physically fit inside the corridors (so no Riptides or Dreadknights or Dreadnoughts). On top of this, the peculiarities of the station had a number of effects, including prohibiting Deep Strike, Infiltrate or Outflank.

Commander w/Iridium Armour, Stimulant Injector, Shield Generator, 2 x Plasma Rifle, Neuroweb System Jammer
3 x XV8 w/6 x Plasma Rifle, 3 x Flamer
3 x XV8 w/6 x Plasma Rifle, 3 x Flamer
5 x XV25
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors

I initially considered bringing XV88s with either the Advanced Targeting System or Counterfire Defence System, but dropped them when Matt ruled that they would need to be able to trace a line to their targets through the corridors, using up their range as they went. Instead, I went with a large amount of foot forces, to provide cover to the two XV8 squads, who were my primary anti-Knights weapons platforms. The XV25s were along as a unit for the Commander, who would greatly benefit from his +1 BS relic, particularly since there would be no point in bringing markerlights to a battle in which there were, essentially, no good sightlines to exploit.

I fully expected most of my cadre to die in those cramped corridors.

Graham won the roll-off, and elected to go first. He deployed everything but the Callidus, with the Brother Captain attached to the Terminators, while I put my Fire Warriors out first, then the XV8s, with my Commander and his stealth team in the centre. I was careful to block as much of the Interceptor's 30” jump range as possible, not wanting them to simply appear in my lines first turn and start wreaking havoc in close combat. Failing to seize, the battle began...

... but not before Matt made an announcement; for the final battle, all the relics had been stolen or sabotaged by perfidious Alpha Legion forces. This was, frankly, a crushing blow to my strategy; the loss of +1BS, Fearless and Hit and Run from my Commander was no small thing. Graham, on the other hand, mentioned the loss of a +1 Mastery level relic, but given that his psychic powers weren't likely to play a huge role in the battle that didn't sound like much of a loss.

So, on the back foot from the start, I watched Graham push out in the corridors, then did the same; given that there was no shooting or assault, the first turn went quickly. Turns in general went so quickly, in fact, that I won't bother to mention when something happened; we did away with the 5-7 turn limit and just played until one force was wiped out.

With my forces spread out, Graham rolled his Callidus in from reserves, and set her tight against my lines. Graham targeted her initial D6 strikes at one of my XV8 squads, and initially claimed he had wiped them out with three wounds, as her close combat attacks caused Instant Death. A thorough perusal of the codex and Grey Knight FAQs, however, gave no indication that her polymorphine attacks were close combat, meaning that I went from losing an entire squad to a suit and a half. The Callidus then opened fire on a unit of Fire Warriors, unmolested by any interceptor fire as I'd been told there would be no deep striking, and killed half the unit, though thankfully they did not break. The Strike Squad headed towards the left-flank corridor, while the Interceptors jumped across empty space (another Grey Knights-only advantage; jet packs had to go around corridors, but 'teleporter' jump packs got to go between them) and put pressure high up on the right-flank corridor. In return, a full squad of Fire Warriors and the survivors of the mauled squad opened fire on the Callidus, who survived thanks to 4+ FNP, while two squads bracketed my intact XV8 squad moving up to the left corridor, and my Commander and his stealth team were, honestly, kind of crowded into the middle. Honestly, the space station did not reward armies that relied on mobility, especially if they'd brought along decent-sized meat shield units.

The Interceptors jumped across empty space once more, landing in a gap only just big enough for them, while the Callidus moved in for the attack once again. The Interceptors managed to finish off the crippled Fire Warrior squad, earning Graham First Blood, while the Callidus went down to Overwatch fire as she tried to follow their example, the Knights consolidating halfway around a corner again.

Pushing up into the left corridor, I managed to lure the Strike Squad out with a sacrificial Fire Warrior squad, only to annihilate them in turn with my XV8s, clearing out that side of the table. Unfortunately, Graham's Interecptors were running riot, shooting another squad of Fire Warriors to death (three of four dead), and his Terminators were pushing up the right corridor, which I couldn't get to to put fire into it with the Interceptors in the way. I sent my victorious XV8 squad up along the central transverse corridor, hoping to flank the Terminators, but this ultimately proved a catastrophic mistake; bad run and assault jump rolls left them crawling across the board, with no ability to shoot at anything until it was much too late. As much as the board hurt me, what with being almost custom-built to favour Grey Knights, that was the move that ultimately cost me the game.

Uh... spoilers, I guess.

Anyway. The Interceptors finally went down to concentrated fire, but by the time they were finished off I had lost my weakened XV8 squad, half of my remaining Fire Warrior squad, and two stealth suits. When Graham's Brother Champion and Terminators moved in for the attack they found themselves facing nothing like the kind of firepower they should've, though it didn't all go Graham's way; attempting to soften up my Commander's squad before the charge, he found his Incinerator falling prey to the Neuroweb Jammer's Gets Hot, and his Brother Captain's psychic attack (I forget what it was, at this point) blocked by Deny the Witch. Unfortunately, it proved to be a temporary reprieve, as Graham's charge slaughtered the stealth squad, and his Brother Captain managed to slip a single wound through my Commander's 2+ save in a challenge, his force weapon successfully causing Instant Death, to give Graham Slay the Warlord.

With just a single XV8 squad left, I approached the area where Graham's Terminators were hiding, but ultimately the layout of the space station left me with no chance; in order to get close enough to jump around the corner and open fire, I had to get well inside the Grey Knights' charge range, and I wouldn't even be able to Overwatch them as I couldn't see them from their starting position. I considered just jumping away, either forcing a stalemate draw or actually requiring Graham to come out and take some firepower before managing to finish me off, but ultimately I was so worn down that I just let him finish me off.

An ignominious end to what had been a solid mid-league recovery, but ultimately it was still enough to put me solidly in second place, eleven points ahead of my closest competitor, but twenty-seven points behind Graham and his Grey Knights.

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