Saturday, April 3, 2010

27 March 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Game 2)

Opponent: Tim (Tau Empire), a.k.a. “Old Shatter Hands” from the Tau of War gaming blog.  A soft-spoken, thoughtful fellow with a beautifully painted Tau army, I discovered after the battle that Tim had intentionally reworked his army list in order to do something a bit less predictable with the Tau.  Fully aware of what the Tau were capable of, I was a bit nervous about facing them with the Imperial Guard, but at least I knew that neither of us would be making much use of the Assault Phase of the game.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • Commander (BS5) and two Bodyguards (BS4) with Plas/Missile, plus two Gun Drones and gear
  • Shas’el (solo, BS5) with Fusion/Missile
  • 1x3 Crisis Suits (BS3) with twin-Missile and Flamer
  • 1x3 Broadsides (BS4) with Smart Missiles and two Shield Drones
  • 2x8 Fire Warriors, in Devilfish with D-Pod and Multi-tracker
  • 1x5 Pathfinders, in Devilfish with D-Pod and Multi-tracker
  • 1x10 Kroot, plus 5 Kroot Hounds
  • x3 Piranha (BS4) with Fusion and D-Pods
  • x1 Hammerhead (BS4) with Railgun, Smart Missiles, D-Pod, Multitracker, Target Lock
  • x1 Skyray (BS4) with Smart Missiles, D-Pod, Multitracker, Target Lock
Mission: “Total Annihilation” – 12 inch deployment from long table edge.  Primary objective: kill points.  Secondary/Tertiary bonuses: get at least one Troops choice into the enemy deployment zone at any point in the game, and kill the most expensive enemy unit.

Terrain: Cityfight.  The table had several large pieces of area terrain ruins spread through the center of the table, three two-story ruins scattered about the table, a very solid bunker (on Tim’s side of the table), and a four-story ruin on the left side of my deployment zone.

What happened?
Tim chose to go second, forcing me to deploy first, and I made a very poor decision.  In my desire to get the best LOS and deployment, I chose the four-story building in the left-hand side of my deployment zone to put most of my infantry squads, including most of my Autocannon heavy weapons teams.  I did put my tanks and vehicles in/around the ruins in the middle of the table, screened by a big mass of 30 guardsmen, but I had essentially limited the mass of my firepower to only the left-hand side of the table.  Not only did this mean that Tim’s far more mobile Tau army could simply snipe at me from long range while my infantry squads simply wept in abject futility from their perch with beautiful LOS (and not enough range), but the Tau weren’t even deployed yet.

Fortunately, Tim chose to keep his Piranhas, Fire Warriors, Kroot (out-flanking), and his Bodyguard unit of Crisis Suits (deep-striking) in reserve.  He did try to deploy the rest of his forces out of the range of my infantry in the Big Tall Building, however.  Unfortunately for him, his Pathfinders, his Broadsides, and his second unit of Crisis Suits were all in range of the Big Tall Building – and the Pathfinders simply evaporated by the middle of the second turn, given my complete lack of alternative targets.

From there, the game basically turned into two completely different battles.  The bulk of the shooting was between about half of my forces (most of them vehicles), against the units Tim had started on the table.  Tim rolled like a demon for every one of his Disruption Pods (nearly 80% success rate on his 4+ cover saves; I kept track as I was so amazed by how well he was rolling), which certainly helped him keep his multiple Devilfish, and his tougher Skyray and Hammerhead, aloft through most of the game.  Meanwhile, Tim struggled to kill my Leman Russ tanks, as he simply did not have many S10 or fusion shots to throw at them throughout the game (the Broadsides gradually went away over four turns), although he did shake or stun the tanks rather frequently.

Tau reserves trickled on turn by turn, and Tim threw nearly all of them onto his right flank, directly across from (and well within range of!) the Big Tall Building.  I believe he was trying to support his starting unit of Crisis Suits, who were effectively pinned down behind the bunker there as there were no easy ways to move elsewhere on the table without being targeted by a ton of Imperial Guard guns with nothing else to shoot at.  However, this simply had the effect of giving those guns of mine something else to shoot at, one at a time as they came on, and only sheer good fortune (and amazing D-Pod cover saves) kept the two reserving Devilfish, and the Piranhas, and the attached drones, from being utterly destroyed (instead, the Devilfish were simply immobilized).

The game ended on the fifth turn as we both ran out of time.  Tim managed to eke out a final secondary bonus point as his out-flanking Kroot finally made it onto the table and into my deployment zone – but no-where near enough to the Big Tall Building to do any damage to any more of my units.  The Tau had lost a Devilfish, the Broadsides, the Pathfinders, two units of Crisis Suits, and two pairs of Drones.  I had lost my two Chimeras (and both Lieutenants), a 30-man “blob” of guardsmen, and one Russ tank on the last turn (to a partial squadron of Piranha fusion guns jetting into close range) – but it was still a very close game on Kill Points, with the Guard having pulled out a tight 7-6 victory on the strength of drone kills.

Turning the Tables
You can read Tim’s writeup at his website.  To his credit, Tim does mention the luck involved in what was a close game, but there were several things that the Tau could have done to greatly improve their odds.

First, I deployed like a moron, with the bulk of my firepower lacking range to about half the table.  Tim’s initial deployment took that into account… except for his inexplicable choice of reserve, and also that unit of Crisis Suits that got “trapped” as the only unit in ready range of my Big Tall Building full of infantry.  I ended up digging those Suits out of cover and smacking them with meltaguns – another big mistake by me in a Kill Point mission with units still in reserve, as I was essentially “trading” two units (Chimera and squad inside) for one of his.  But then Tim reversed the exchange by moving EIGHT units (2 Fish, 2 Fire Warriors, 1 Squad Piranhas, 3 units drones) into range of my big guns.  That was a bad, bad trade, and only the fact that the game ran slow, and thus ran out of time, saved the Tau from being very badly mauled.

Second, Tim chose to deep-strike a unit of Crisis Suits.  He chose to start two units of Crisis Suits (the mono HQ with Fusion gun, and the Twin-Missile/Flamer unit) on the table.  It was the Missile/Plasma unit that was kept off the table, and they did not enter until the fifth turn of the game.  I had specifically set up “screens” of guardsmen to protect my units from out-flanking Kroot and deep-striking Suits, but honestly, I don’t fear deep-striking Missile/Plasmas.  Tim would have been far better off deep-striking the solo Fusion (as that gentleman basically did nothing for several turns, until finally eating three autocannons to the face when I ran out of better targets to shoot), as well as the Flamer units (their twin-Missile Pods had very few good targets in this game) to devastate my infantry squads packed into the building.  Instead, the unit of the three that was MOST effective at long ranges, and LEAST fearsome at close range, was chosen to deepstrike.

Third, Tim deployed his Pathfinders and Broadsides too close to my Big Tall Building full of autocannon goodness.  At the start of the game, they were the ONLY two units fully in LOS and within 48” of that building.  They had no business starting there, as their primary, secondary, and tertiary objectives were all about shooting my vehicles, and not getting shot back in return – and there were several other good places to set up in cover in the Tau deployment zone that were comfortably well away from the Big Tall Building.  Yet, instead of fighting half my army (the tanks) with most of his firepower (the Railguns and Markerlights, Suits, and Seeker Missiles), Tim lost about half of his effective firepower due to poor deployment.

Fourth, Tim kept his Piranhas in reserve.  Huh?  This made no sense – they were fast vehicles, there were a number of locations (like behind his AV-13 tanks) that they could have hidden to start the game, and they were one of the bigger threats to my armor available.

Finally, Tim knew going into the game that drones were his Achilles Heel in Kill-Point missions.  He chose to keep them attached to his vehicles anyway, for the very marginal increase in firepower, instead of detaching them and hiding them out of LOS or in reserve.  In the end, those easy drone kills were what put me ahead on Kill Points.

All in all, I would say that both Tim and I had horrible deployment in this game, and as I was able to use most of my firepower in every turn of the game, whereas Tim could not, I pulled out a tight victory at the end of the game.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the write-up. Very detailed. It's nice to get another perspective on my play-style. In retrospect, there are somethings I really regret. Depllying my silly Crisis suits where I did, fielding my shas'el alone! What the heck was I thinking?

    Deep-striking that one unit of suits actually won me the secondary hey, I'm happy with that! I've actually decided I am always going to deep-strike that unit, I just find it so much fun.