Friday, October 30, 2009

17 October 2009 FRAGtoberfest Tournament (Game 4)

Opponent: Terry (Nurgle Marines) Fielding a very characterful and resilient army, Terry’s Nurgle forces featuered a single large unit of lesser demons – a monster unit of 20 models (!!) in all. However, it was the four units of Plaguemarines that I was worried about most, as the combination of T5, 3+ save, and Feel No Pain means that they take forever to drop when I’m shooting at them with Tau. Terry, on the other hand, had only played Tau once before – against another Tau army list in the same tournament – and was still unsure as to what they could do.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • 2x Nurgle Demon Princes with Wings and Warptime psychic power
  • 3x7 Plaguemarines with Powerfist Champion, Icon, and 2 Plasmas
  • 1x7 Plaguemarines with Powerfist Champ, Icon, and 3 Meltas (including Combi)
  • 4x Rhinos, one with Havoc launcher
  • 2x Demonically Possessed Vindicators

Mission: “Cleanse” Tournament Scenario with Spearhead (Table Quarters) deployment. Each of the four corners of the table were an ‘objective’, with only Troops choices able to control but all units able to contest. Secondary objective: kill the highest ranking (ie: player picks before the game if there is more than one) HQ.

Terrain: A large trenchline along the long table edge, in my corner, as well as a heavily fortified building on my left flank. The far table corner had another trenchline, and the terrain between was a combination of large craters and trees. I got to choose corners, and promptly chose the one that offered the most open ground – and most crater-like obstacles to my mechanized opponent – for my firepower-heavy army.

What happened?
Although I had a very nice trenchline to set up in, I actually only deployed two units within the trenches (one unit of Hornsuits (B-Sides), and one of Scouts (Pathfinders)). The remainder of my forces I deployed in an arc in the open ground between the trenches and the fortified building on my left flank, with three units of Brave (Fire Warriors) starting the game in reserve – they would be out of range at the start of the game anyway, and starting in reserve would give them a chance to grab table corners..

Terry chose to lead his vehicle rush with two Vindicators, screened by a Rhino, with his other three Rhinos further back and clustered with his two Demon Princes. I was perfectly happy to let him come at me in two different assault waves, and after keeping the initiative, spent the first turn blowing up his first assault wave: both Vindicators AND the Rhino screening them, as well as most of the Plaguemarine squad within them.

Terry was stunned. I later learned that this was the first time my opponent had ever seen Markerlights in action.

With his options limited, Terry threw his second assault wave forward, but this second wave was a good two turns distant, and with that much time (and no suppressing fire to speak of to keep me ‘honest’), things were going to be messy for them.

Turn two, I killed two more Rhinos, and immobilized the last one. Turn three, I wiped out the huge 20-man unit of demons that had been summoned onto the table, killed the last Rhino, and picked off some Plaguemarines. Turn four, I killed both Demon Princes in a torrent of pulse-rifle fire (jumping out of transports at close range and blazing away with Markerlight support) – and then got too cautious with my Suits, and left them out of position to support some nearby units of Brave (Fire Warriors), who got eaten by vengeful Plaguemarines for their trouble. But by this point, it was clear that the game was all coming down to mission objectives; there was no realistic way the Plaguemarines were going to dig my firepower out of my corner of the table.

Realizing this, Terry threw his four Plaguemarine units into cover, but of course the Markerlights made that harder for him. The game ultimately went six turns, with just one badly battered squad of Plaguemarines surviving; I had lost a total of two Brave (Fire Warrior) units, and claimed or contested all four table quarters.

Turning the Tables.

Terry might have had more luck rushing with all his units at once. Granted I had initiative and went first, but this meant that he had the ability to set up his deployment in response to mine. With his assault split into two different waves, it made the target priority very easy. Had all four Rhinos AND the two Princes AND the two Vindicators all been in a single wave, I would probably have ignored the Vindicators in the first turn in favor of killing Rhinos – giving them at least a few shots. Plus, the Demon Princes wouldn’t have been isolated on their lonesome this way. It probably still would have been a tough game for the forces of Nurgle, but as it was, they really were relying on the Tau to have truly horrible dice rolls in order to have a shot, and that’s not a good place for a 40K army to be in.

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