Vior'la Tau vs Onyx's Iron Warriors
This was the final round of the Naraka Sector Crisis EPIC:Armageddon Campaign that has been fought in the month of November, and although I didn't realise it until after the game I had gradually caught up with Steve (Onyx)'s Iron Warriors who had consistently topped the leaderboard, scoring victory after victory over imperials and xenos alike.
Even after we scaled down to 2000 points (the size of next weekend's tournament) Onyx's army featured a spacecraft, two defiler formations, two super heavy tanks, scouts, helltalons and a supreme commander formation in landraiders.
Tau objectives were weighted to the right (consciously chosen to make this the best place for Tau to deploy, and thus for the enemy spacecraft to plot its blast attacks before the game, and thus a place I can leave empty)
The Iron warriors chose to stack the opposite side of the board. Two Tau scout screens of tetras split the centre, and we were ready to go.
The board was pretty crowded with terrain - much more crowded than it looks at first glance, because the long walls are actually tall enough to block line of sight to and from tanks, defilers and skimmers, so from most unit's point of view might as well be a mile high.
The clearest area was the gap between the long hill and the ruins, soon to be known as Death Valley.
Defilers prepare cannon and claw for battle.
Suicidal/Sacrifical tetras rush forward in a double move, firing their one missile at an ineffective 6+ but hoping to draw fire while placing markerlights.
A Moray begins to glide down Death Valley, enemy Defilers just in sight in ruins. With the defilers markerlight, a couple exploded to macro weapon hits. The Iron Warriors soon began pounding the Moray in return.
In an attempt to gain a decisive advantage as early as possible, Sunshark bombers screamed in to hit the supreme commander's formation with pulse bombs. Coming in from the same angle, barracudas strafed the formation in a follow up attack from the same angle, killing the commander and removing the enemy reroll.
Steve's run of poor luck continued as his Space craft refused to show up, and with no reroll it would have to wait for turn two.
Continuing the air offensive while the targets were still illuminated, an Orca dropped in from orbit, only to find it had attracted the attention of two helltalons. They hit it with a blast marker, but fortunately for the passengers didn't manage to destroy it.
Crisis suits jetpacked out, and hit Defilers with markerlit macro weapons at close range, killing two and breaking the formation.
Riptides moving forward into the ruins.
A double move up Death Valley brought the riptide's 45cm weapons in to range, but with Super Heavy Tanks lurking behind the hill that works both ways.
The Iron Warrior tanks used ignore cover macro blasts to kill a crisis suit and two gun drones, forcing them to flee broken.
In turn 2, hell talons came in to attack the survivors.
The Iron Warrior counter attack was impressive, leading to this shot in Death Valley as weapon hits and blast markers stack up on the Moray, Riptides, suits and the small tetra screen attempting to keep the enemy at bay.
It's like the 4th of July in there, but I don't see any Tau celebrating!
The game was decidedly turning in Tau's direction by this time, due to a combination of bad luck and dice rolls on Steve's side made worse by the lack of a supreme commander.
By the closing moves of turn 3, Steve knew he had to take the two objectives on the left side of the field to stay in the game, so did a triple move (March) with his scouts to secure them both.
Sunshark bombers screamed in overhead, placing enough hits on the scout holding who was within range of the central objective to kill him, preventing them from holding it and also breaking the formation.
Firewarriors took the right, tetras stole the blitz and while the Defilers regrouped to prevent the 'They Shall Not Pass' objective it was a 3-0 to Tau due to the enemy BTS being the first unit killed.
With that result, the Tau won the game and the Campaign.
Steve played well (as always) and we both agreed this wasn't a reflection of the relative power of the armies. I think a combination of good luck (Tau), bad luck (IW), the early loss of the supreme commander and some poor regroup rolls were major factors. The fact that I didn't fire a single shot in turn 1 that wasn't markerlit was another big contributor - that's not easy to orchestrate since it means placing very vulnerable formations up close to enemies, but is great when it happens.
I am also happy to say that with a few very minor tweaks requested by Epic Tau controller YME-LOC, the Vior'la Tau go from experimental to development status next week, and look forward to the list being played in more international locations.