Shas’O Tash’var Ko’vash Kir’qath crouched down to run his fingers through the soil of Phorcys VI. His Scorpionfish also seemed to be crouched down in the distance, the massive bulk of the missile gunship resting on heavy landing gear.
“Something is very wrong with this planet.” O Kir’qath said, turning to his aide, Shas’Vre Tash’var Shi.
“You can smell it in the air. See it in the plants. It is like the planet itself is diseased.” Vre Shi nodded in agreement.
“The Shas’La are unsettled Shas’O. Everyone feels it, especially after Dalhurst.”
O Kir’qath shuddered. His armoured force was on the leading edge of the Tau push on Phorcys VI. After planetfall though, instead of the hostility the Greater Good had come to expect from the Gue’La, the population had warmly welcomed the Tau to the planet. Jubilant crowds had rushed out to meet the Shas- crowds wreathed in swarms of flies, ridden with poxes and contagion. The scientists of the Earth caste had already discovered countless new virulent diseases, which seemed to disregard the complete difference in Tau and Gue’La physiology.
Water caste interpreters made little sense of the populace aside from talk of “The blessings of grandfather Nurgle.” Attempts to communicate with Nurgle had so far been unsuccessful. At Dalhurst the overly enthusiastic population had to be pushed back by flamers, lest the Tau be crushed in the press of filthy civilians, eager to share the blessings of Nurgle.
The earpieces of the Shas’O and Shas’Vre suddenly crackled to life.
“Mechanised Cadre One to Command. We’ve encountered more Gue’La, but these are the worst we’ve seen!” came a distressed voice. “They look like the Mont’au itself!”
Pulling out a set of image magnifiers, O Kir’qath scanned the area held by Mechanised Cadre One. The shambling shapes of Gue’La seemed to be emerging from the ground itself. As the Shas under his command cautiously advanced to meet the Gue’La, the shambling shapes began charging forward. Nerves already on edge, the Fire Warriors and Hammerheads of Mechanised Cadre One began pouring shots towards the charging Plague Zombies before O Kir’qath could respond.
Shas’Ui Tash’var Myr sniffed with distaste. Despite the environmental controls in his XV15 stealth suit, the pervasive stench of decay still caught his nostrils. The woodland his team was advancing through seemed barely alive, yet flourishing at the same time. Putrid slime oozed from trees, and too many species of plants all exhibited the same curious pattern of three interlocking circles. The only battlesuits assigned to O Kir’qath’s armoured force, the stealth suits of the Harassment Cadre were the front of the push into unknown territory. And Ui Myr’s team was at the tip of that spear.
The sound of distant gunfire snapped behind Ui Myr, and confused chatter sounded in his earpiece before the Harassment Cadre’s Shas’Vre brought it under control. To his front, Ui Myr realised he could make out another noise- the throaty roar of promethium engines. Pushing through to the edge of the woodland, his team saw Gue’La armoured vehicles storming down the highway towards their positions. Ui Myr caught his breath as his stealth suits optics enhanced the scene in front of him.
Emerging from the vehicles came giant, looming figures. Clad in sickly green power armour, they stolidly took up combat positions. Strange lumpy creatures cackled and laughed about their feet. The new arrivals took aim through eyes weeping with pus and blood. Bolter fire cracked towards Ui Myr. As his comrades burst cannons began returning fire with a deafening sound like a hundred buzz saws, Ui Myr yelled into his comms mike.
I’ve been playing Epic Armageddon for a few months now, with a lot of Tau to show for it and a Sisters of Battle army on the painting table too! I’ve decided to try and do some proper battle reports, starting off with a 2000 points game.
My opponent Ian is the Army Champion for the NetEA Death Guard list and all round Nurgle aficionado. As such he was trying out a few experimental profiles and rules tweaks.
On my part I was trying out the experimental Xar’Ka Armoured Strike list. As the name suggests it’s a list which relies heavily on Hammerheads and mechanised Fire Warriors, which isn’t much different to how I normally play Tau anyway.
Ian slightly forgot that he was playing against Tau when list building, and went for a very engagement heavy force, with lots of Nurgle’s Rot. However, it had precious little ranged ability, which rather handicapped him:
Plague Marine Retinue- 7x Plague Marines, Lord of Contagion character, Biologus Putrifier character, 4x Death Guard Rhinos- 420
Plague Marine Retinue- 7x Plague Marines, Daemon Prince character, Biologus Putrifier character, 3x Chaos Spawn, Plague Hulk- 545 BTS
Plague Marine Chosen- 4x Plague Marine Chosen, 2x Death Guard Rhinos, Daemonic Pact- 220
Plague Marine Chosen- 4x Plague Marine Chosen, 2x Death Guard Assault Dreadnoughts, Daemonic Pact- 300
Walker Horde- 3x Desecrator, Plague Hulk- 275
Plague Zombie Infestation- 2d6+3 Plague Zombies- 175
Daemon Pool- 3x Plaguebearers, 3x Beast of Nurgle MW variant- 60 (2 free from Daemonic Pacts)
For my part I took the chance to have a massed Railhead formation, and to try out Scorpionfish- a Tau war engine akin to a floating missile submarine. I planned to soften up Ian with ranged fire from the Railheads and Scorpionfish in the first turn, holding back with the Mechanised Cadres and then pushing them through the resulting weak points:
Armoured Cadre- 8x Railhead- 400
Mechanised Cadre- 2x Fusionhead, Skyray, 4x Fire Warriors, 2x Devilfish- 350
Mechanised Cadre- 2x Fusionhead, Skyray, 4x Fire Warriors, 2x Devilfish- 350
Harassment Cadre- 6x Stealth Battlesuits, 2x Gun Drones- 250
Recon Cadre- 3x Tetra, 2x Piranha TX42- 150
Scorpionfish Cadre- 2x Scorpionfish, Xar’Shas’O character- 500 BTS
Deployment wise Ian placed his Blitz on my far right flank, whereas I placed mine much more centrally. Ian placed his two objectives close to my Blitz, making no bones of his intentions! I placed my objectives far out on either flank, following Ian’s advice from previous games for playing against Death Guard- especially seeing as so much of his force could garrison.
Ian garrisoned a Chosen formation on either flank, and his BTS was daisy chained across from my right most objective to threaten the objectives on my side of the board. My stealth suits and recon skimmers garrisoned in and behind the protection of a section of ruins.
Ian deployed his Rhino Retinue in transports on the road down the middle of the board, ready to push up hard and fast, and put his Walker Horde in the cover of some woodland. I deployed a Mechanised Cadre on either flank, my Railheads on the road for maximum line of fire, and my Scorpionfish centrally so that they could rain missiles upon intruders on the objectives. With deployment finished, it was game on!
At the start of turn 1, Ian’s Plague Zombie Infestation of 12(!) Plague Zombies clawed their way out of the ground on my right flank, gaining a Blast Marker in the process.
The Tau won the initiative. Currently I’ve won 6 consecutive initiative rolls in a row against Ian, split between 2 games- despite the Death Guard having +1 Strategy Rating over the Tau…
With my first activation the Mechanised Cadre on my right flank (from now on Mech Cadre 1) advanced to put down the threat of the Plague Zombies, and accounted well for themselves. The resulting fusillade killed 6 Plague Zombies, breaking the formation. Off to a good start!
|State of play after the first activation|
Mucking around not one bit, Ian’s Rhino Retinue gunned the engines of their APCs and engaged my stealth suits in a clipping assault. Only 2 of my stealth suits could get in firefight range, however my one overwatch shot killed a Plague Marine unit. In firefight Ian killed a stealth suit unit for no loses. Combat resolution was 2 all- I had 2 for having no blast markers and less blast markers as a result of my overwatch shooting, whereas Ian had a kill and outnumbered me. In the following roll off Ian’s highest roll was a 4 and mine a 6- victory for the Greater Good! The Retinue retreated into the woods broken, losing 2 Rhinos to hack down hits. Nurgles Rot set into the stealth suits, leaving them with 3 blast markers.
|Plague Marines assault my strung out Stealth suits|
Waiting for the Death Guard to make their next move the Scorpionfish went into overwatch, and then the Rhino Chosen doubled down my right flank. Fearing that a round of shooting or an engagement would ruin my stealth suits, the formation rallied, losing all blast markers and manoeuvring a little. Ian advanced with his Walker Horde, shooting and killing another stealth suit.
Now with a clear target, my Railheads advanced along the road and shot the Rhino Chosen. They destroyed both Rhinos and, in jammy rolling, one of the Chosen, leaving the formation broken. The remaining Chosen fell back into the same ruins as Mech Cadre 1.
The Dreadnought Chosen then doubled into a patch of woodland, after summoning 3 lesser daemons through foul rituals. The Dreadnoughts shot at the Mechanised Cadre on my left flank (from now on Mech Cadre 2), although to no avail. In retribution, Mech Cadre 2 advanced and fired at the Dread Chosen, killing a Chosen, a Dreadnought and a Daemon.
|Chosen and Fire Warriors exchange fire|
Biding his time, Ian marshalled with his BTS formation, moving and carefully skirting any overwatch fire from my Scorpionfish. My Recon Skimmers advanced, bursting from cover towards the Dread Chosen, although their fire only killed a Daemon.
With all activations for the turn done, Ian’s daemons disappeared back into the warp- meaning that the Dread Chosen broke. Ian however made use of the Scout and Fearless rules, leaving them with their Zone of Control over Mech Cadre 2. In the End Phase the Tau stealth suits and Mech Cadre 2 both rallied, whilst Ian had a rough time of it. Whilst the Dread Chosen rallied, none of his other broken formations did- despite using his Supreme Commander reroll on his Rhino Retinue.
|State of play end of turn 1|
|And from Ian's side|
Turn 2 started with the Death Guard very much on the back foot, with half of their formations broken. Unfortunately for Ian, I won the initiative again and tried to do as much damage to his remaining forces as possible. This started with me advancing with Mech Cadre 2, out of the Dread Chosen’s Zone of Control. They then turned their guns on the Chosen once more, killing 2 and breaking the formation again. Persistent despite having only 2 units remaining, the Chosen fell back towards my Scorpionfish, Zone of Control once more over 1 of my formations. Fearless Scouts are a pain!
Ian, now having only 2 formations capable of activating, doubled with his Walker Horde, firing at my stealth suits but not inflicting any kills.
Cleaning up, my Recon skimmers advanced and shot at the broken mechanised Retinue, killing a Plague Marine. Ian’s BTS went into overwatch. My stealth suits attempted to double across to get some markerlights on the Retinue but failed their activation, instead marshalling and shedding all their blast markers.
My Scorpionfish advanced out of the Zone of Control of the Dreadnought Chosen and then rained fire upon the remaining Plague Zombies to allow Mech Cadre 1 to advance, their sub-munition missiles leaving only one unit of zombies standing. Mech Cadre 1 advanced and fired upon the Death Guard BTS, killing 2 Chaos Spawn and a Plague Marine. The Railheads then doubled up the road, trying to draw a bead on the Retinue through the ruins they occupied but mostly failing. Despite firing they didn’t manage to kill any units.
In the End Phase Ian rallied the Rhino Chosen and Rhino Retinue, although club was packing up and we decided to shake hands and call it a match.
|End of the game!|
In the end we ended up hanging around for nearly another hour, so we could have played on into turn 3. Despite the Tau’s success I think if turn 3 had gone ahead Ian could definitely have done some damage. With both of his Retinues mostly up and running, the Rhino Chosen threatening Mech Cadre 1 and the Walker Horde just getting into Infiltrating firefight range, it could have gotten sticky for the Tau!
As it was though Ian was hindered by his lack of ranged weapons to soften up my formations before engaging, and my firepower smashed his small formations of Chosen. Losing the engagement to my stealth suits early game also took a lot of pressure of my centre, and I think if that combat had gone worse for me it would have been a very different game. As it was I could focus more on the flanks, bringing my firepower to bear on smaller formations. I did enjoy the Xar’ka list, and it did bring me a rare victory. Thanks to Ian, ever the sportsman, for the game!