April 17, 2009

Space Marines vs. Tau: How to purge Xenos


Trotzki and me had a game this week which was...pretty interesting to say the least. I wanted to see, how my Tau fare against my Marines. So Trotzki played Marines and I Tau. And that turned out on how to table Tau in 4 turns.
We played following lists:

Librarian in Terminator Armour, Curse of the Machine Spirit, Gate of Infinity
5 Terminators, 1 assault cannon (Librarian is with them)
5 Terminators, 1 cyclone
Dreadnought, multi melta, heavy flamer, extra armour, drop pod, deathwind system, beacon
10 Marines, melta, missile launcher, drop pod, deathwind system, beacon
10 Marines, melta, missile launcher, drop pod, deathwind system, beacon
10 Marines, melta, missile launcher
Land Speeder, multi melta, heavy flamer

1500 points

Shas'O, XV84 suit, plasma rifle, missile pod, multi tracker, stim injector, 2 shield drones
Crisis suit bodyguard, plasma rifle, missile pod, hard wired multitracker, targetting array
Crisis suit, twin linked missile pod, flamer
3 XV25 suits, burst cannons, targetting arrays
6 fire warriors, devil fish, targetting array, multitracker, smart missiles, disruption pod
6 fire warriors, devil fish, targetting array, multitracker, smart missiles, disruption pod
6 fire warriors
16 kroot
Hammerhead, rail gun, mutlitracker, target lock, smart missiles, sensor spines
Hammerhead, rail gun, mutlitracker, target lock, smart missiles, sensor spines
Sky Ray, targetting array, multi tracker, smart missiles

1498 points

The Marines would hold much in reserve, only deploying the ten lone marines. The Tau would deep strike the crisis and stealth suits, the kroot would outflank.

We rolled for 3 objectives and deploying in table quarters. The Marines have the first turn.

This is when the carnage began... and I won't go into too much detail. Just let me tell how the Tau got wiped out in a few turns.
I bunched up the tanks in my corner, the fire warriors in the ruin and forming a line in front of the tanks.

The Marines dropped 2 pods right in front of them, ten marines and the dreadnought jumped out and opened fire, destroying the first hammerhead and killing 1 fire warrior.
I then moved all my tanks 12" so that they would only be hit on sixes. I shot the two markerlights of the sky ray on the dreadnought, hitting with one. A seeker missiles shot against the thick armour of the walker and exploded harmlessly. The railgun of the hammerhead missed, of course. All smart missile systems fired at the combat squad with the missile launcher carrying marine, killing four. Great. The fire warriors shot their pulse rifles at the 5 marines with the melta, killing none. (Fire warriors suck in every single game I have played with Tau!).

Next round no reinforcements arrived. The multi melta of the cybot shot the second hammerhead into a burning wreck and the marines wiped out the fire warriors. That was the point, I realised that I couldn't win this game any more (after round two!). No real possibility of harming the dreadnought and the drop pods (they contest) and with 10 terminators inbound are not for the greater good.
The game proceeded as foreseen. The terminators with the cyclone teleported next the third drop pod in the middle of the table where the marines would capture the objective in the mechanicum building, the others with the librarian teleported next to the objective in the quarter where the ten lone marines hold their own objective to fight against the deep striking crisis and stealth suits and later on the outflanking kroot.
A few impressions:

I lost a devilfish to the multi melta of the dreadnought, the disembarked fire warriors would be useless in this position.

The Kroot walk onto the table and rapid fire at the marines, combined with plasma fire and missiles from the commander and his bodyguard the are able to kill 2 (in words: two) marines. The Kroot are then rapid fired which killed 5.

Stealth and crisis suits arrive for assistance, managing to kill 4, then the kroot charged the remaining marines, losing 2 of their number and killing one marine in return. They lost combat, didn't pass their morale check and fled.
In the background the terminators where under fire from the commander with his bodyguard, losing 3 to plasma fire. In return the didn't manage to do any harm to the Tau elites.
In the following assaults the fleeing kroot where caught up and wiped out, the same happened to the stealth suits. So I had no troops at this objective any more.

The core of the Tau hunting cadre is at the brink of destruction. Terminators teleported in to take out the remaining tanks, marines advancing to kill everything that survived the destruction of the skimmers.

So after all tanks where destroyed after round four and me having left only the crisis suits I called the game.
To be honest, this was the best game the Marines ever fought. Following their fluff, they deep struck in the heart of the enemy force and killed everything with ease. That's what I expect of Marines on a mission to purge a Xenos infestation... ;-)

Now let's come to a few thoughts in the aftermath of the battle: I think it would have been better to hold everything in reserve. In this way one would evade the inevitable first turn drop pod attack (the meltas hurt like hell) and should have, when the dice gods are not so cruel, get a round of fire. But that depends on the dices and what arrives in the second turn from reserves. When you are lucky, you get everything or nothing. I think it would be best to get nothing, so you have a higher chance that more of your army arrives together in one turn offering the chance to dictate the battle to yout gusto.
Another thought of mine was, that you deploy everything and use the kroot as shield so that at least the meltas have problems to get into half range. The kroot would be cannonfodder here, but that's what they are for. Trotzki and me will test this in time.
Another word on the Tau. Fire warriors really suck. They miss more than they hit (the NEED markerlights to do anything) and the run when shot at. Maybe a Shas'ui would help against the latter...maybe. I had 12 fire warriors as firebase in earlier games, but that was completely disappointing in regard of shooting. I think they only work with a lot of marker lights.
A different thing is that Tau have in my experience great problems in killing well armoured troops. It took 20 strengt five shots with ballistic skill 4 to kill 4 marines. That's somewhat sparse in my opinion. Wounding on threes is good, that's for sure, but good armour saves negate a lot of wounds. In my experience with Marines I always lost the most to volume of fire or in close combat and the latter is no place for Tau. So remains a high output of fire to bring power armour troops down. At that brings me back to the thoughts on how to deploy against a deep striking army like drop podding marines. When everything is bunched up in one corner and mostly kroot are lost to the first volley of fire, I think Tau would fare a lot better. But in this special case, the threat of the terminators is still imminent. I don't think This list could bring them down and jump/fly out of assault range and so out of harms way.

So I am a little bit helpless now in how to counter that kind of enemy. Hopefully Trotzki has the time to fight again soon so that I or better we can see what could be done against "Drop pod imba marines!"

But at the same time I am happy that Marines aren't that bad after all.
They will get two more drop pods in not so far future and at least two of the announced iron clad dreadnoughts will find their way to me.

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