Sunday, September 27, 2009

Warmonger Club 40K Tournament: Slann vs Mech IG

Opponent: Pete

Army: (1850 pts) -- Russ Squadron (2xLR and 1xDemolisher), H-Hound Squadron (3xBanewolf), 3xVeterans in Chimeras, Creed + Squad in Chimera, Inquisitor + 2xMystics in Chimera

Terrain: A desert board with many low ruins and low hills scattered about the middle of the board. Neither Pete nor I felt a huge need to move the terrain about, as it gave us both plenty of cover and didn’t really block LOS in any direction.

Mission: Pitched Battle, Annihilation

Summary: Pete won the roll-off to go first, so I set up in a class ‘refused flank’, with my entire army facing his softest flank, the one with the three Banewolves. I also placed most of my Fire Warriors in Reserve, as against all-mech, there was very little they could do at the start of the game.

Pete then used his Scout move (courtesy of Creed) to move his Banewolves right up to my firebase. I had completely forgotten that they could do this. What can I say? I was very tired. I failed to grab the initiative, and so I got a load of Banewolf love in the first turn, losing a Fire Warrior unit, and killing 1/3 of my Crisis Suits before the game even started. Fortunately, that was all that happened – Pete managed to immobilize one Banewolf getting the other two into position (did I mention that there was a lot of terrain?) and so I only had to deal with two in the squadron.

Freed of any worries because of the conviction that I had lost the game already, I spent the next several turns going after all his AV12 vehicles, while his Russ Squadron slowly (ever so slowly) whittled down the Shield Drones of one Broadside team. Note: a 2xBroadside, 2xShield Drone team is ridiculously resilient. I didn’t lose a single Broadside in my army all game, though I did take wounds and lose most of my Shield drones.

Demonstrating the sick amount of firepower at their disposal, the suits had destroyed all of Pete’s vehicles by the end of the fourth turn, and wiped out nearly all of the infantry units as well. All Pete had left at the end of the game was Creed himself, and the Inquisitor’s small unit that he joined for safety’s sake (yes, we know now that Creed isn’t an IC, but we’ve been gaming since 3rd edition and didn’t know that things had changed) -- but both characters were down to their last wound. The Fire Warriors in reserve walked onto the table just in time to shred one Chimera, before being chased off the table by a unit of Veterans. Oh, the shame! In the end, it was a slaughter, and Pete was almost totally tabled – but because I had lost all my ‘expendable’ units – commander, fire warriors, and devil-fish, it was a tie on Kill Points.

A tie. Ay, caramba.

What Should I Have Done?: This last game demonstrated rather conclusively how sub-par Fire Warriors have become in the new edition – they are the weak spot of the Tau army list. My Suits were astounding, performing like real champs, and pretty much doing all the damage (supported by Pathfinder markerlights, of course), but the notion of “sacrificial units” no longer works in 5th edition the way it may have worked in 4th edition. Although my list did perfectly in wiping out the enemy, I gave away far too many Kill Points, and in general trade off too much firepower.

In other words, if I want to go with Tau firepower, I really need to concentrate on an “Alpha Strike” mentality, and pour as many points as possible into suits, and use the Troops slots purely for mission objective grabbing. Which seems to be what the 5th edition army design philosophy appears to be in general.

More specific to this game, it was real dumb of me to forget that Creed allows one unit to have a Scout move. I was very lucky that Pete’s Banewolves didn’t do far more damage to me than they did.

Warmonger Club 40K Tournament: Slann vs Bugs

Opponent: Lee

Army: (1850 pts ) -- MC Tyranid list: CC Tyrant + 3 Guard, Shooty Tyrant + 2 Guard, 5x shooty Carnies (2 with 5 wounds, all with 3+ save), Zoanthrope with Synapse, 2x8 Genestealers, 2x8 Without-number Gaunts

Terrain: A ring of hills and woods and a HUGE open area (over 24" wide and 48" in length) in the middle of the table. Lee wanted to alternate placing terrain with me, and I took advantage of his decision to do so. There were four objectives -- two in what was ultimately my deployment zone and two in Lee's.

Mission: Spearhead, Seize Ground

Summary: There was a single ruined building in the table corner I chose to start in. A multistory monster, it was a perfect location for my four Broadsides, and two units of 3 Crisis Suits (as well as Shas’el commander in suit), well outside of any outflanking assault that Lee’s Genestealers might be attempting. I also piled 3 units of Fire Warriors into the building, and made sure that there were no juicy ‘stepping stone’ units for his Tyranid assaults.

Lee piled his monstrous critters as near to the center of the table as possible, with the CC Tyrant and his guard providing cover for everyone else behind them. With the first shot, I opened up, and was reminded of the importance of picking the correct order for firing all weapons – I started with Railguns, which was a mistake, as all those wounds got allocated to the Tyrant Guard. Once they vanished, the surviving Shooty Tyrant simply shrugged off nearly all the wounds with his 2+ save. Oh, well.

Lee’s Barbed Strangler shots were remarkably ineffective all game, but he made up for it by making significantly more armor saves than average. By the end of the game, I had wiped out everything except his Zoanthrope (hiding out of LOS) and his “without number” Gaunts, which were, of course, without number. Lee, on the other hand, spent the entire game wiping out Fire Warriors, without which I could claim….nothing. Final score: me with one objective and most of my army left (but only one unit of Fire Warriors), and Lee with two objectives courtesy of his Gaunts. D’oh! What’s more, I had given up so many kill points wiping out most of his army that he nearly counted as having Massacred me.

What Should I Have Done?: Keep my Fire Warriors alive. I don’t regret sacrificing two of my Warrior units (and the Devilfish they were riding) to keep the Carnifexes from getting close to my firing line of Suits, but that means that I should have been more clear about what I was planning to do with the OTHER units of Fire Warriors, and I failed to plan for that until the bottom of the third turn, when I realized what Lee was up to.

As a result, I had to dramatically shift my targeting priorities, and attempt to use my Crisis Suits to contest my opponent’s objectives (which I failed to do, as there were too many Monstrous Critters in the way!). The Tyranid build I saw was clearly the sort of pattern I need to reconfigure my Slann to emulate – small units of Troops dedicated to mission objectives, and everything else into Big Guys – in my case, Broadsides or Crisis Suits and their accompanying firepower, who were all-stars in this match.

Finally, it wouldn't have hurt to keep a better idea in my mind of where to place my two objectives. One was right next to my firebase, but the other was completely in the open in the middle of the table -- which helped Lee's shooty Carnifexes just as much (or even more) than my units.

Warmonger Club 40K Tournament: Slann vs IG

Opponent: Steve

Army: (1850 pts) -- “Grateful Dead” Imperial Guard. Maxed Command squad, 3x Vets, 1x Platoon (Lt, 2xInf, 2xSpecialists), 2x Psyker Battle, 2x Leman Russ, 2x Rough Riders. Lots of Grenade Launchers, Plasmaguns, and Meltaguns throughout all the infantry squads, but only two infantry heavy weapons (Missile Launchers) total.

Terrain: A ring of ruined buildings surrounding a small (18” wide) open area in the middle of the table. Plenty of cover and LOS for all involved.

Mission: Dawn of War, Secure & Control

Summary: I got the first turn, but between Steve and I both having to move all of our infantry from off the board, we only got three turns into the game. I deep-struck all my Crisis Suits onto his gun-lines, but they deviated badly, and I got exactly zero flamer shots off before most of them were overwhelmed. Although I managed to shred both of his Rough Rider units, immobilize and de-fang his Russes, neutralize nearly all his long-range fire, as well as wipe two of his other infantry squads, the game ended up as a draw, with the tie-breaker coming down to Kill Points. Steve had the edge: 5 of my units wiped, to four of his.

What Should I Have Done?: I essentially threw away my Crisis Suits in this mission; they would have been far better served coming to provide long-range support from behind, rather than simply deep-striking wholly unsupported into the IG lines. They ate a faceful of lasguns for their efforts, and despite my amazingly good armor saves, there’s only so many armor saves you can really roll before going down. My decision to deep-strike them was where I decisively lost the game.

This was also a reminder of how poorly my fourth-edition tactics of “sacrificing units” works in the mission objectives of the new edition of the game. Even had Steve and I continued all five turns, it would have been a comparable result – after losing my Crisis Suits, I had few units that could shred infantry as well or as reliably as they could, and certainly no units that could realistically contest his objective, which was neatly within his “castle” formation on the far side of the table from me. I had demonstrated how effectively I could destroy any units in the open (his Rough-Riders), but there were only so many Markerlights that I could use to “strip” IG cover saves, and only so many IG units I could target with them each turn (=two).

Warmonger Club 40K Tournament (19 Sept 2009): Overview

I brought my 1850 point Slann army (basically, converted Lizardmen-esque Tau Empire list), with the following configuration: 7 Crisis Suits (all with Missile Pod and Flamer), 2x2 Broadsides with Shield Drones, 5x12 Fire Warriors with Ld8, 2x8 Pathfinders with Fish

I learned a number of things in this tournament: first, that my Slann (Tau) list does exactly what I designed it to do: sacrifice throwaway units to keep opponents away from my gunline, and shred enemies quite handily. Second, that the 5th edition rules no longer allow me to do that and win the game. I nearly tabled two opponents, and still ended up losing because of objectives, and the lack-of-resilience of my Troops units. Plus, using my Troops as sacrificial throwaways didn’t help…

It looks like the Slann (Tau) will have to rather dramatically retool. I think I’ll be doing this as a long-term project over the next year or so, given the different time commitments I have, but having been pointed in several directions, I find that I’m convinced by the army construction advice given by Stelek at

In short, to modify my existing philosophy somewhat, by relying more heavily on Elites and Heavies, and shifting the sizable chunk of Troops points to more effective sacrificial units (Kroot), and to aim to table or near-table opponents and simply nab objectives in the late game with minimal-sized Fire Warrior units who are lurking in Reserve at the start of the game (they would load into a Devilfish when they first show up).

In the meantime, I went 0-1-2 in the tournament (1 tie, 2 losses), and have some incentive to finish painting the list – at long last, after literally years – because I’m planning to attend another tournament in November ’09. I think I’ll play the same list there that I did here, and try out some table-top adjustments rather than army-list adjustments. I expect to get massacred, but it’ll continue to be a learning experience!

A quiet return

A quiet return to the Internet; after a multi-year hiatus, I finally have some free time in my life again.