Played at a small tournament - well, ran a small tournament, and played to fill in the odd number spot - with my Slaanesh CSM/Daemons army, and I'm pretty satisfied with the results. I ended up going 2-1, with wins against Khorne CSM and Nurgle CSM, and a loss against my friend (and cohost) Dennis and his Eldar. This is not surprising; he can never beat my Tau with Eldar, and I've yet to beat his Eldar with my Chaos armies. After three games with the new force, I feel like I'm in the right direction for the most part. Here's what I took:
HQ: Chaos Lord w/Mark of Slaanesh, Sigil of Corruption, Power Sword, Chaos Bike, Gift of Mutation, Veterans of the Long War - 155
Troops: 9 Noise Marines w/8 Sonic Blasters, 1 Blastmaster; Noise Champion - 234
Troops: 9 Noise Marines w/8 Sonic Blasters, 1 Blastmaster; Noise Champion - 234
Troops: 19 Cultists w/17 Autoguns, 2 Flamers, Mark of Slaanesh; Cultist Champion - 137
Fast Attack: 4 Chaos Bikers w/Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess, 2 Meltaguns,Veterans of the Long War; Biker Champion w/Combi-Melta, Meltabombs - 195
Heavy Support: 4 Chaos Havocs w/4 Autocannons, Mark of Slaanesh, Veterans of the Long War; Aspiring Champion - 130
Fortification: Aegis Defense Line w/Quad Gun - 100
HQ: Herald of Slaanesh w/Transfixing Gaze, Soporific Musk, Pavane of Slaanesh - 90
Troops: 16 Daemonettes of Slaanesh - 224
Here are my take-aways from the weekend.
- Bikes work as a Lord delivery system, but... Being on a bike ensures that the Lord will get somewhere quickly, and it keeps him alive due to the increased toughness. The rest of the bikes provide melta for cracking open vehicles and act as ablative wounds. They don't bring a whole lot else, though, besides someone carrying an Icon of Excess. They just don't have enough attacks to make a sizable dent in an enemy unit when assaulting. Still, the speed and toughness are really nice. I'm going to keep trying these guys for a bit longer and get used to them before I decide their fate. Putting the Lord on a Steed of Slaanesh is tempting to give the whole unit Outflank, but then I lose the extra toughness.
- Shooty Noise Marine units are great. Fearless. Power armor. Cranks out tons of shots. Ignore cover. High Initiative if they get assaulted. What's not to like? Also, the Blastmaster is fantastic now, because of two reasons: ignoring cover and being able to keep it stationary while the rest of the squad moves. It's totally worth the points now, especially when you consider how easy it is for vehicles to get cover now. If I can see you, I can kill you, and there's nothing you can do about it. Also awesome for killing other power armor units.
- Shooty Cultists are good. Okay, their guns aren't great, but with so many shots you can manage a lot of mischief. I actually managed to have them shoot a Bloodthirster to death (results not typical). They're risky to assault, especially with the flamers, and with the Mark of Slaanesh they've got a good chance to attack in kind once you close. In combination with a decent piece of cover, like an Aegis Defense Line, you can keep them nice and safe. Out in the open, though, they'll take wounds and likely run off the board, so use them wisely if you don't want to babysit them with a Lord.
- Havocs are great. Especially with autocannons. A lot of strong shots for a low cost. Sure, they won't scratch AV14, but that's what the bikers are for. Setting the champ at the defense line's Quad Gun almost doubles your firepower and gives you access to a Skyfire Interceptor weapon. I had faith that they would serve me well, and they delivered.
- Daemonettes worked! The Daemonettes did exactly what I'd chosen them for - a fast assault unit that I could drop into my opponent's back lines to cause havoc and assault scoring units camping in the rear. They're fragile, but with the sheer volume of attacks they can put out makes up for their deficiencies. I never did use Hit and Run, so the Herald's Musk might be on the chopping block, but Gaze and Pavane are staying. The only game where they didn't directly contribute was against the Eldar (ironic, that), but they still pulled Dennis's entire army's attention for that one turn, leaving the rest to act without being bothered for a turn. Even against a tarpit unit like Plague Zombies, they managed to just out-wound their opponents. They don't stand up to shooting, but I knew they wouldn't. If nothing else, though, they forced my opponent to make bad decisions: keep pressing forward and ignore the blender I just dropped in your lines, or turn around and deal with it and let me stall out your momentum. I wouldn't run them much smaller than I have them in this list; they need the bodies to get where you want them.
I will say it's odd to run an army devoid of vehicles, but at higher point levels (1750-2000), I might figure out a way to pad out that involves metal boxes of one form or another, or maybe pick up a Heldrake and fit it into the list. Also, possibly more Daemons; they're just fun to play around with.
So, what lessons did I take away from the Midwest Massacre, especially as regards my Tau?
Aegis Defense Lines are a must-have right now: Easily one-third of all armies at the tournament were running Aegis Defense Lines, and I can't say I blame them. Between the extra cover available, the ability to lay a speed bump across a section of open board, and being able to take a twin-linked double autocannon with Skyfire and Interceptor, the ADL fills several gaps that armies can use to their advantage. Even the Tyranid player that took third place took a defense line (although without taking the gun emplacement) just to get the extra cover. I personally had a lot of trouble dealing with enemy fliers, so having the gun available would make a huge difference, and at only 100 points, it's not horribly hard to shift things around to afford one.
Prescience is totally worth it: Being able to grant re-rolls to any friendly unit within 12" of the psyker is fantastic; between that and Markerlights, I was able to make my shooting very reliable. Well, the hitting, anyway; making wounds stick was something completely different, but that's neither here nor there. I have no regrets taking a Farseer in my army. However...
Eldrad might not be totally worth it: Eldrad's a huge chunk of points, and if that chunk of points runs off the board or dies (which happened more often than not), I'm screwed in any scenario that uses Victory Points. While he brings a nice array of powers, I only ever used two with any frequency - Prescience and Misfortune. I also like Scrier's Gaze, but the timing on that power is wonky, since it conflicts with the rules as written and doesn't appear to actually be usable for Reserve and Outflank rolls. If I'm only using the Primaris power regularly and reliably, having all the extra powers doesn't really help me. Taking a Farseer instead with both Runes and one power costs just under half as much and gets me most of the same utility. I would lack the ability to use a power twice, but I can cope with that. The points saved can go into buying that Aegis Defense Line. I'll play around with lists both with and without Eldrad, and see how the power difference plays out.
Rethink War Walkers: I like the concept of War Walkers, but they're kind of a 6th Edition solution to a 5th Edition problem. Sure, it's easy to glance vehicles to death, but if there aren't that many vehicles on the board, they're less useful. Not useless, just not as useful. More often than not, they end up as a suicide unit, and without Scrier's Gaze or Acute Senses, it's a bit harder to guarantee they'll be on the side of the board where they'll do the most harm to the enemy before dying. I can't help but think that those extra 120 points would be better spent somewhere else. Also, with Interceptor guns on the table, they tend to disappear as soon as they appear. That makes starting them on the table the better option, and at that point I might as well buy a better unit. I'll still give them some more runs on the table, though, to see how they do; they do bring a nice volume of fire, especially against hordes.
Tau Pathfinders are awesome (I finally admit it): I've hemmed and hawed about whether or not I like Tau Pathfinders, but in 6th Edition I finally have to admit that they're the best Fast Attack choice we have, as well as the best way to get Markerlights in volume. In 6th Ed's vehicle-light environment, making your shots more reliable is better than having a pair of suicide melta speeders. I still wish there was a way to take them without the Devilfish, but even then they're still worth the points. Also, they're still helpful with flyers; even though they can't raise BS on snapfire shots, they can still eliminate cover saves, and that includes those Jink saves from flyer evasion.
The second half of my DieCon 11 audio battle report is now up on the Preferred Enemies website. Click here to listen. Again, it's about 20 minutes long, and it covers rounds 4 and 5, as well as my overall feelings about the event.
The short version - firmly in the bottom of the pack thanks to going 0-3 before, I managed to get both wins on day 2. I still didn't face anything but Marines, though - vanilla Marines in round 4, and another Space Wolves player in round 5. Day 2 had interesting objectives and unusual deployments, and I managed to use both to my advantage. Would I go back to DieCon 12 for next year's GT? I think I would, and I'd still be playing Tau whether they get a new codex or not in the interim.
Rather than write out a battle report for today's performance, I recorded some bonus content for the Preferred Enemies podcast. Click here to give it a listen; it's about 20 minutes long, and covers all three games played today.
For those with shorter attention spans, here's the summary - faced off against three different flavors of marines (Raven Guard, Black Templars, and Space Wolves), and went 0-3. I'm already noting the tactical errors made and determining ways to correct them. Games 2 and 3 both turned on one event that changed the momentum of the game. Hoping for a better day tomorrow win-wise, but I still had a great time.
Yesterday's tournament at Tabletop Games was very enjoyable. For one thing, the store is definitely equipped for tournament play. Not only do they have a bunch of tables - we used 8, and there were easily 3 or 4 more for open gaming - but they have the terrain to fill them. Every table had some combination of hills and forests, and a number had ruins of various types. Most impressive to my friend and I were the number of forests. We don't have a lot of area terrain where we play, but after playing three rounds in and around it, we're definitely planning on adding more. Because of the area terrain, which all happened to be wooded, my Kroot went from being made of tissue paper to being unmovable bricks. I take back every bad thing I've said about them; they were easily the most resilient thing I had on the board (so long as templates weren't involved). Tabletop also gave everyone a cafeteria-style tray for displaying/moving armies around, which made things a lot easier. You can see my army above in its green (and mostly painted) glory.
We had a good breakdown of armies, as well:
- 3 Eldar (including my friend, Dennis)
- 2 Blood Angels
- 2 Imperial Guard
- 2 Witch Hunters (this was a surprise)
- 2 Space Marines
- 2 Tau (including myself)
- 1 Tyranid (beautifully painted)
- 1 Ork (also very well painted)
- 1 Chaos Marines
Pairings were set, tables were assigned, and we were off!
Round 1: Capture and Control/Dawn of War v. Eldar
My opponent's army consisted of:
3 squads of 5 Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents w/Twin-linked Shuriken Cannons
3 squads of 5 Fire Dragons in Wave Serpents w/Twin-linked Missile Launchers
2 Fire Prisms
1 Night Spinner
A typical Flying Circus Eldar build, but it's a build I haven't faced before (Dennis plays a very different Eldar list). He wins initative, and sets up his objective behind a stand of trees near his table edge, and puts Eldrad and a squad of Dire Avengers in front of it. I put mine in a long area of trees, between two lines of Kroot who fit perfectly in the woods, along with my Deathrain commander just behind. First turn, he rushes forward, and manages to spot and kill my HQ with a missile. My first turn, I move up and start threatening his vehicles. The game goes back and forth like this each turn: he attacks and kills/immobilizes something of mine, my remaining forces counter-attack and do the same to him. He is unable to throw the Kroot off of their objective, though; their 2+ cover save protects them from all but one or two casualties, and even tank shocking them off of the objective fails. He's unable to get anything close to contest, either. We end up going 7 rounds, and by that point everything on the table is immobilized. Eldrad gets locked into combat with one unit of Fireknives until the end of the game. I'm unable to shake his troops off of his objective, but a last ditch gambit ends up winning me the game. My Devilfish is immobilized about 15 inches from his objective. On turn 7, I disembark the gun drones and move them forward, and then jump them for their assault move to within 2" of the objective. I end up winning the game 1 objective to 0. Had I not been able to contest, we would have been tied, and then scoring would go to kill points, where he had me beat 9 to 8.
Round 2: Annihilation/Pitched Battle v. Blood Angels
Here, I was facing off against:
Librarian and Command Squad in a Land Raider
2 10-man Tactical Squads with Lascannon, Plasmagun, and a Sergeant with a Power Fist in Rhinos
6-man Assault Squad with Jetpacks
Predator with Autocannon and Lascannon sponsons
Baal Predator with Twin-linked Assault Cannons and Heavy Bolter sponsons
Dreadnought with Twin-linked Lascannon
My opponent chose to go second here, and went for a null deployment. There was a large hill in the center of the board, so I castled up with my heavy guns pointing at the firing lanes to each side and screened the rest with Kroot. On the first two turns, I held steady. On his third turn, the Land Raider, one Rhino, and the Dreadnought come in near the center. He rolls up the Land Raider, pops the Librarian and his squad out, and he drops Fear the Darkness on me. My Kroot, set up in large curves going towards my table edge, break and promptly run off the table, one after the other. I manage to wreck the Dreadnought, and I rush my Piranhas forward, but I only manage to delay him a bit. It doesn't matter, though. Once his Librarian hit the center of the table, he continued to use Fear the Darkness and scare my infantry off the table. Over half my army disappears over the rest of the game with few shots fired either way. He's then able to focus on my vehicles, and easily picks me apart. Again, we go 7 turns, and by the end all I have remaining is a Hammerhead with no main gun. In that time, I managed to score a few casualties in his units, but the only other kills are the two Rhinos. I lose badly on kill points, 3 to 15. It's a rout in every sense of the word. Looking back, I should have set up two firebases in the corners, which would have lessened the impact of Fear the Darkness.
Winner: Blood Angels
Round 3: Seize Ground (5 Objectives)/Spearhead v. Imperial Guard
This was my first time facing off Imperial Guard, so I had only a theoretical knowledge of what I was up against. My opponent was running:
2 10-man Infantry Squads with a Sergeant and Autocannon Heavy Weapons Team
1 5-man Infantry Squad with a Sergeant and a Heavy Flamer
2 10-man Veteran Squads with 3 Meltas and a Sergeant, mounting in Chimeras with Multi-laser and Heavy Flamer
Squad of 3 Mortar Heavy Weapons Teams
Squad of 3 Heavy Bolter Heavy Weapons Teams
Squad of 3 Lascannon Heavy Weapons Teams
Squad of 6 Ogryn in a Chimera with Multi-Laser and Heavy Bolter
Company Command Squad
Leman Russ Battle Tank with Lascannon and Heavy Bolter Sponsons
Leman Russ Vanquisher with Lascannon and Heavy Bolter Sponsons
We set up objectives, and they end up all being in wooded areas. He wins the initiative and sets up first, putting his Manticore in the back corner, his Mortar and Lascannon teams in one stand of trees, his Heavy Bolter squad in another, and puts everything else as far forward as he can. I set up my army aggressively as well, and infiltrate my Kroot squads into the woods near two separate objectives, one in the center, one in the far right-hand corner from me. His first turn is relatively ineffective, with my Kroot going to ground and resisting all the fire he can put up that turn. I then move forward my anti-vehicle elements and fire on the line of armor he's pushing forward towards me. In what has to be the absolute worst turn of shooting I've ever had, I fail to put even a scratch on any vehicle; I either miss or fail to penetrate in every case, even with the railguns and fusion blasters. At this point, he starts to break into the center of the board while running troops along his long and short table edges towards objectives. Flamers take out half my Kroot in the center, but they hold. I start mounting a counter-attack the next turn, picking off a vehicle here, a squad of Ogryn there (who run off the board after taking one round of shooting), but it's still looking grim. Before long, he's got Mortars sitting on one objective, 2 squads on foot sitting on a second objective to my left, his veterans on a third in the center, another squad moving towards my far-right Kroot, and the center Kroot not long for this world. He also starts tank shocking my units to shove them aside or rush them off the board.
Around turn 4, though, the winds of fortune change. First, his Vanquisher loses the ability to hit me for some reason - he's rolling 1s and 2s to hit the rest of the game. I'm able to pick off one squad of Veterans, and then the Fireknife squad with the HQ stops running off the board from a tank shock 2" from the edge. They rally, turn around, and clear out the other squad of Vets. I'm able to focus fire on the left-most objective, clear out those infantry, and run in my Fire Warriors to claim that objective. The Kroot in the far right never break, and both vehicles he rushes forward to contest end up getting destroyed by one of my Hammerheads. It is a drawn-out, bloody affair, going the full 7 turns once again, but at the end, I am sitting on two objectives, with him only having a Mortar Squad sitting on one. In my first game against the Imperial Guard, I manage to claw my way to a win.
So my final record is two wins, one loss. Far better than I expected, so I have nothing to complain about. Even with the round I lost, I can look back and see what I would have done differently that might have pushed things into my favor. All my opponents were friendly and polite, and while there were no holds barred, I never felt like they were hyper-competitive or being jerks about anything. In fact, my third opponent said that our game was one of the most fun games he's ever played, and I have to agree. I had a great time in all three rounds, and I will definitely go back to Tabletop to play in future events. Dennis had a great time as well, and managed to take third place with his Eldar, so congratulations to him!
On a side note, I got several compliments on how my Tau were painted, with people really enjoying the color scheme, the edge highlighting, the way I was using the sept color to denote rank, and even the basing. I really feel like the work I've put into my army has been totally worth it. I may not be a Golden Daemon winner, or even likely to score higher than a 6 on Cool Mini or Not, but if people think my army looks good on the table, I've succeeded at my goal.