Week 2 of the first round of the Redcap’s 40k League went down yesterday, with 7 people showing up to play in the league. So far we have a reasonably diverse group of armies: Chaos Marines, two Imperial Guards, two Space Marines, Orks, Tau, and Dark Eldar (!).
Last night I played against Rob and his Tau. I was looking forward to this because Rob’s a fun guy to play against and nothing says awesome like getting gunned down by blast templates aplenty…
Rob’s list was actually fairly interesting. It featured very few Fire Warriors and no Hammerheads, but a large number of Kroot and good amount of Broadsides. I rolled my typical 1500 points of Sternguard, three Tacs, Devastators, two Landspeeders, and Captain, with some Drop Pods and a Rhino and Razorback thrown in.
From the league missions we rolled for Pitched Battle (12″ zones) and Capture and Control (one objective each). I was tempted to put my objective immediately across from his and force a very close, tight battle within a confined space on the board—favoring my Kingbreakers with a lot of assault against the pushover Tau—but opted against it. Probably a bad strategic call, but I just didn’t want to throw half the table away to waste with no action, which is assuredly what would have happened.
Following that, I actually did manage to roll and Seize the Initiative. I knew things were not going to go well, however, when my first turn essentially accomplished nothing despite that sneak attack. The utter lack of dead Fire Warriors, Kroot, or anything afterward was not confidence inspiring.
By the end of Turn 3 I thought I was in real trouble. I’d lost my home objective, made little progress on the Tau objective, and just had not really killed much of anything. In general not a lot of things actually died in the game, very few Kill Points were taken, but I was definitely on the wrong side of the trend.
Most critical of my mistakes was that I had placed my home objective very close to a short board edge, and very minimally defended it with only one Combat Squad placed to guard it. That left it wide open for a large group of Kroot to outflank and stomp all over it in short order, obliterating the Combat Squad. To be honest, I’m not sure what I was thinking. I think it’s just been so rare for me to fight armies with real outflank potential that I just didn’t think about it.
My list was also somewhat poor. With only two Drop Pods, one of them is coming down unsupported in Turn 1, leaving them ripe to be pummeled. I fortunately managed to back Sgt Harbinger’s Sternguard out before real destruction could be inflicted on them, but they didn’t accomplish much with their alpha strike. Similarly, Scolirus’ Tactical 1 also managed to accomplish precious little after its drop before being utterly gutted in a single round of incredibly voluminous counter fire from the Tau line.
Fortunately (for me), in Turn 4 the momentum shifted dramatically. My one saving grace in deployment was that I had kept back a Razorback with Combat Squad in case it had to swing over and support the guys guarding my home objectives. By the time it got there the guards were all dead and the Razorback wrecked, but they were just able to jump out of the wreckage and flame the hell out of the Kroot packed tightly into the crater holding the objective. A third or more them were removed from that round of shooting. More importantly, the Kroot failed their morale check and broke, running for the hills. That vacated the objective and all of a sudden things looked much brighter.
On the other side of the table, my offense finally managed to coalesce near the Tau objective. The Landspeeders severely thinned the line of Kroot setting the outer perimeter before being immobilized by Broadsides. Tactical 2 and Sgt Titus drove the flaming wreckage of their Rhino straight through the remaining Kroot and bailed just in time to run for the Tau base as it exploded. Meanwhile, Capt Angholan and Sgt Harbinger regrouped their Sternguard and redirected up behind Titus, running and gunning at the Tau Commanders overlooking the approach.
From there, a tense battle was waged inside the base. The remnants of Tactical 1 continued to battle on inside, the few remaining Fire Warriors presenting an unusually strong defense. Titus and crew successfully scaled the levels of the ruins, assaulting the Tau defenders and throwing them to the ground floor. Perfectly placed, Angholan shouldered through the rubble and into the newly displaced and disoriented Tau, singlehandedly slaying all of them with a single sweeping blow of his Relic Blade.
Encouraged by the breakthrough of their brethren into the Tau base, the lone defending Combat Squad tenaciously clung to the Kingbreakers encampment. Careful placement kept the Kroot fleeing while barely holding onto the objective, as the battle brothers kept their Bolters roaring and piled on the flames to stave off a recently arrived group of Stealth Suits.
Both groups were relieved beyond words when the skies blackened and turned to fire as reinforcements arrived, the field held for the arriving Kingbreakers by a thread…
Again, placement of my home objective was terrible. I should have been castled up much more and much farther from the edges to forfend outflanking Kroot. Nobody takes them that seriously, but them and their hounds put out something like 55 attacks onto that Combat Squad… I take them more seriously now.
Another mistake, that I knew going in, is again that two Drop Pods is just a weak formation. It doesn’t pack enough oomph to really pull off a meaningful first strike.
Rob probably should have been able to take this game. I really had to pull myself back together after the first couple turns and those two big oversights plus a lot of little tactics errors, and would have been happy to eke out a draw, let alone the minor victory.
Really I think his biggest general mistake was that he didn’t move his Kroot enough during the game. In particular, the one unit was somewhat left out in the center of his zone toward the end of the game. If they’d moved earlier to come support his home objective, they could have almost definitely swept my guys back out of his base.
He also arguably should have assaulted my remaining Combat Squad in Turn 5 with his Stealth Suits. It wouldn’t have gotten him on the objective, but it would have pulled me off it. I had been forced to be stretched out too far away from the objective in order to keep the Kroot fleeing, so the mandatory countermove would have emptied the crater. As it was, I had to allocate wounds super tactically and pull off some more valuable models (e.g., the Sarge) in order to keep the unit within 3″ of the marker. However, he did note that he hoped the game would go on another turn and was hoping to wipe out the unit with shooting and have the Kroot rally and return, so there was some rationale to not assaulting and working toward the more likely draw.
All in all, a very tight game with a lot of back and forth and close calls.