Friday, 19 October 2018

A Hemlock Came Travelling......

Farseer Gelladrill had observed the attempted raid of Pur'la Sept on the Imperial planet of Scargill with great interest. Their motives seemed unclear but it would appear that the Tau were attempting to form a beachhead and eventually bring the planet to 'The Greater Good'. This in itself was inconsequential to Ulthwe but there were more factors to consider. Waargh Gitsmasha was closing in on Scargill and though the Tau were currently hostile to the humans on the planet a large scale force of Orks would probably result in an alliance. Despite the Tau defeat against the Scargill PDF, there was an increasing number of Tau military assets deploying in the vicinity. To ensure that Waargh Gitsmasha met an alliance of human and Tau, a swift raid by Ulthwe on the Pur'la dropsite was required. To maintain the facade of Ulthwe neutrality, Guardians bearing the Moonkillers pirate band colours would be deployed. All going well the Tau from Pur'la Sept will be unprepared for the fast attack pattern of the Aeldari. Time will tell.....  

Greetings. Having not played 40K in about 10 weeks this 40K batrep seems a bit late. Apologies for those who think it makes a difference. The reasons for this are many, but a trip to the US and Killteam dropping are two. Having played Aaron's Tau in my previous game with Astra Militarum, it was time for another game against the little blue fiends with something different. This time the conversation went to the subject of which army to use I was undecided but then I was offered the lend of a painted Hemlock and that made up my mind, Aeldari it is.

The jauntily angled battlefield.

Armies Tactics & Shit

In my last game against Aaron I was impressed with his battalion level of command points so I decided I wanted a similar number for this game. The HQ units were an Autarch, a Farseer and Jain Zar,the first two are pretty solid choices and Jain Zar was for shits & giggles. My troop choices were 4 units of 5 Rangers, and 2 units of 10 Guardians (both with an Aeldari missile launcher). My elites were two units of Banshees (5 in each, 1 with an Exarch), 5 Striking Scorpions. Fast attack were two units of three Jetbikes and a unit of Swooping Hawks. Heavy support was two seperate weapons platforms (Doomweavers) and a unit of 8 Dark Reapers. The Hemlock was the icing on the cake. The plan would be Doom his tanks whilst flying over his main body of troops with the Hemlock. Shoot as many different troop units as possible and the Mind Shock Pod should do a lot of the work for me. Meanwhile the Banshees would advance (and hopefully assault in the first turn) cancel out any overwatching and cut up the Tau. My heavy weapons and snipers would remove vital targets and hopefully win the day before a dice (or die if you like) was rolled. Simples.

Army lists brought to you by Battlescribe.

Brigade Detachment +12CP Aeldari - Craftworlds
Craftworld Attribute: Ulthwe: Foresight of the Damned
Autarch : Craftworlds Warlord, Forceshield, Shuriken Pistol, Star Glaive, Ulthwe: Fate Reader
Farseer : 2. Doom, 4. Executioner, Ghosthelm of Alishazier, Shuriken Pistol, Singing Spear
Jain Zar
Guardian Defenders : 10x Guardian Defender
Guardian Heavy Weapons Platform: Aeldari Missile Launcher
Guardian Defenders : 10x Guardian Defender
Guardian Heavy Weapons Platform: Aeldari Missile Launcher
Rangers : 5x Ranger
Rangers : 5x Ranger
Rangers : 5x Ranger
Rangers : 5x Ranger
Howling Banshees; 4x Howling Banshee: 4x Power Sword. Howling Banshee Exarch: Shuriken Pistol & Power Sword
Howling Banshees ; 5x Howling Banshee: 5x Power Sword
Striking Scorpions ; 5x Striking Scorpion: 5x Scorpion Chainsword
Fast Attack;
Swooping Hawks ; 8x Swooping Hawk: 8x Lasblaster. Swooping Hawk Exarch: Lasblaster
Windriders; Windrider - Shuriken Cannon: Shuriken Cannon. 2x Windrider - Twin Shuriken Catapults: 2x Twin Shuriken Catapult
Windriders ;Windrider - Shuriken Cannon: Shuriken Cannon. 2x Windrider - Twin Shuriken Catapults: 2x Twin Shuriken Catapult
Heavy Support;
Dark Reapers; 8x Dark Reaper: 8x Reaper Launcher
Support Weapons; Support Weapon: Shadow Weaver
Support Weapons; Support Weapon: Shadow Weaver
Hemlock Wraithfighter: Spirit Stones

Total: [92 PL, 1849pts]

Aaron took the list below; very similar to our last game but without the Devilfish and a Ghostkeel instead. Lots of advanced this and high output that. Seems to me the Tau are fond of giving their weapons rather grand names. That said, what I have noticed about the Tau is their average bs of 4+. Aeldari have a strategem that in the shooting and /or assault phase their lightning reflexes gives the opponent a -1 to hit. With my sackload of command points I will be using it. A lot.

Brigade Detachment 12CP T'au Empire
Cadre Fireblade : 2. Through Unity, Devastation, Markerlight, MV7 Marker Drone, Puretide engram neurochip, Warlord
Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit: Advanced targeting system, High-output burst cannon, Missile pod, 2x MV4 Shield Drone, Velocity tracker
Longstrike : 2x Burst cannon, Railgun
Breacher Team : 5x Fire Warrior
Kroot Carnivores : 10x Kroot
Strike Team ; Fire Warrior Shas'ui: Pulse rifle. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team ; Fire Warrior Shas'ui: Pulse rifle. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team ; Fire Warrior Shas'ui: Pulse rifle. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team ; Fire Warrior Shas'ui: Pulse rifle. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Firesight Marksman : Markerlight, Pulse pistol
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, 2x MV84 Shielded Missile Drone, Target lock
XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit: 2x Flamer, Cyclic ion raker, 2x MV5 Stealth Drone, Target lock, Velocity tracker
Fast Attack;
Pathfinder Team; 6x Pathfinder: 6x Markerlight. Pathfinder Shas'ui: Markerlight. Pathfinder w/ Rail Rifle: Rail rifle
Vespid Stingwings; 5x Vespid Stingwing, Vespid Strain Leader
Vespid Stingwings: 5x Vespid Stingwing, Vespid Strain Leader
Heavy Support;
TX7 Hammerhead Gunship : 2x MV1 Gun Drone, Railgun
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits ; MV4 Shield Drone. Broadside Shas'ui: 2x Smart missile system, Heavy rail rifle
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits : MV4 Shield Drone. Broadside Shas'ui: 2x Smart missile system, Heavy rail rifle

Total: [104 PL, 1850pts]

The usual rolls were made regarding table side and what have you and it was a standard Dawn of War set up with Cleanse & Capture as the scenario. I set up my army with the thought that if Aaron out deployed me I could mitigate it slightly by playing the Phantasm strategem. The objectives are numbered and I placed the odd ones, Aaron the even.

The Game

Aaron got first turn and proceeded to get all shooty. He targeted my Jetbikes and Rangers mainly, so at the end of the shooting phase the Rangers on objective 5 (the tall comms tower) were gone as were both the unit of jetbikes. This puts a crimp in my plan as I like to get twin shuriken catapults into my enemies faces. The only upside to this was most of my other units were pretty much unscathed. So Aaron get first blood, curses! Not entirely a shock as the Tau are very shooty.

Some Tau tanks lurk next to lots of MSU Fire Warriors, just the sort of place to fly a Hemlock!

A flock of Vespids wait in the wings (no pun intended) plus the Ghostkeel nestles itself into the bastion, just about. 

From my side of the table the Dark Reapers stand in a building with some guardians to the left and banshees to the right. Jain Zar is also there to add considerable punch to the centre.

Can't say I was overly impressed with this thing in the bastion. There should a law against big battlesuits being able to infiltrate.

My tactical objectives strands of fate, secure objective 3 and supremacy. Objective 6 is over in Aaron's deployment zone to my left. Handy really as I have a unit of Banshees who were going over that way anyway.

Aaron's objective's, area denial, supremacy and secure objective 6. They are not aligned as tidily as my ones so it's obvious the pressure was showing even before any dice were rolled.

Shockingly, Aaron goes first. Can't say this is part of my plan, I like going first, it allows me to bracket a vehicle or two or bump off a character, giving me first blood, looks like it's going to be one of 'those' games.

That's a jetbike gone, and another damaged. Luckily the Hemlock is undamaged so far.

In my fury I completely fail to photograph the scoreboard adequately! 0 - 4 to Aaron!
So after Aaron gains 4 VPs it's time for my dastardly plan. The Hemlock swoops forward into the centre of the Tau battlelines, both units of Banshees advance up so they gain the possible 15" assault range. In the psychic phase I fail to Doom the Riptide, but I do manage to reduce his saving throw courtesy of the Hemlock.  My heavy weapons then attempt to kill it but are semi thwarted by those bloody drones. In the shooting phase I target as many different Fire Warrior units as I can that are within range of the Mind Shock Pod. Jain Zar and her entourage assault the Kroot chopping them to shreds. The second Banshee unit assault the remaining Tau around objective 6. At the end of my turn, many of the Tau infantry units have gone as the -2 leadership was pivotal. I didn't gain many VPs but most of Aaron's troop units were gone and the remaining ones were in combat with Banshees.

The Hemlock swoops in shooting things and giving everyone within 12" -2 to their leadership. Also the speedy Banshees prepare to assault some Tau in turn 1! 

A total lack of jetbikes are the main feature of this picture.

Jain Zar and her Banshee escort chop up the Kroot very efficiently. The Hemlock reduces the saving throws on the Riptide making it easier to damage. Coupled with his Mind shock pod a lot of seemingly brave Tau troops have it away on their toes. This also puts it high on Aaron's things to kill list, I'm sure.
For some reason I took lots of pictures in turn one and seemingly very few in turn two. My objectives hadn't changed much this turn except I now had to grab objective one which was great as I was already on it with my Guardian squad. Objective 6 was probably going to fall to me this turn so a good result with combined strike would get me back on an even keel. Firstly I had to weather the Tau shooting phase. The Vespids arrived over on my left to try to kill Guardians and/or Rangers. The second Vespid unit landed betwixt objective 6 and the Rangers in the crater closeby. An awful lot of Aaron's big guns targeted the Hemlock, I played the lightning reflexes strategem to put it at -2 to hit. This was largely successful as it wasn't shot down this turn, but it was in a bad way.  Thanks to the Hemlock, many of my other units went unmolested. The Banshees around objective 6 were having a hard time getting rid of the Fire Warriors.  

My objectives for turn two.

The Hemlock nows finds itself in a precarious position. Luckily the lightning reflexes strategem means that an awful lot of Tau firepower goes into destroying it without actually destroying it.
In my turn the Hemlock chugged towards the Riptide to attempt to Smite it to death. The Banshees advanced towards the Broadside and Jain Zar went for the Coldstar Battlesuit. My Guardians on the left advanced up to try to grab objective number 5. The Swooping Hawks descended to threaten the Vespid unit near objective 6. The Dark Reapers managed to damage the Riptide a fair bit without totally destroying it. The Vespid unit was reduced to 1 and eventually pissed off in the morale phase. The Ghostkeel was pretty much unscathed, probably because the Riptide to me was a bigger threat. In the assault phase the Banshees got to the Broadside and Jain Zar nabbed the Coldstar. After much flailing around the Broadside had taken a wound or two and Jain Zar had very nearly killed the Tau commander. The Banshees battling around objective 6 were still faffing around up there when they should've been winning. 

End of turn two and the scores are looking a bit more acceptable. 3 : 5 in Aaron's favour.

To summarise turns 3-4 the Hemlock finally got shot down. The Coldstar Battlesuit ran away from Jain Zar, only to be chased down and killed by her in the next Aeldari turn. As an interesting side aside we had a lively debate about JZ's Disarm skill and the Battlesuits advanced targeting system. the ATS gives all weapons an additional -1 saving throw modifier, so I wanted to disarm it. As it's not a weapon we had a disagreement on whether I could or not. Long story short, we rolled off, Aaron won so I couldn't. I like to think that JZ has been fighting for millenia now and can quickly press the reset button on the side of the Battlesuit's helmet shutting down the system for a combat round. Said Coldstar commander then has to wait for the system to power up for the next combat phase. Jain Zar will then press reset again and the cycle continues. In my mind's eye I know what is thematically and narratively more pleasing. I will just have to email GW. Back to the game..... a Broadside was destroyed by the Banshees and objective 6 was finally claimed after all the Fire Warriors, Firesight Marksman and Cadre Fireblade were evicted to death. The Farseer merrily smote the Drone to death, the Riptide was blown apart and many Tau units were killed in close combat giving me D3 + 3 VPs which I rolled up 3! My Guardian unit was wiped out by the Vespids. As were the Striking Scorpions that had arrived in turn 2 and achieved very little. Realizing three tactical objectives in one turn (and gaining six VPs for one of those really swung the battle round. So by the end of turn 4 it was 13 - 5 to the Aeldari.

Jain Zar takes on a Coldstar Battlesuit and her escort unit takes on the Broadside beside, the second Banshee unit make hard work out of killing some Fire Warriors and a Cadre Fireblade commander. If it is unclear the objective here is number 6.

These objectives were scored. I got 6 VPs for combined strike plus VPs for objective 6 (strands of fate) and 1.

Same scrap different angle.

Bye bye Riptide! In the background is a Striking Scorpion. He and his squadmates did very little this game probably due to the fact I forgot to assault some Fire Warriors, leaving them exposed and ultimately getting them wiped out before they got anywhere near their points back.

Having got a big score using combined strike the tables have turned! 13 : 5 to the Aeldari.

Having wiped out my guardian squad the Vespids flutter towards my Dark Reapers and Autarch.

Having wrecked the Broadsides, the Banshees and Jain Zar look for more victims.

This area of the battlefield remains remarkably civil, so civil that the Farseer jogs forward to Doom  something.

The last turn of the game was notable as both special characters met their ends in it. Jain Zar was slain by Hammerheads which is rather unsporting. Despite my taunting Aaron refused to charge either tank into her and 'fight me like a man'. So much for Aeldari mind control. Aaron attempted a last minute assassination attempt by some Vespids to kill by Autarch. Unfortunately he failed, or fortunately, depending on who you're rooting for.

My miniature Aeldari castle await stinging Vespid weaponry.

The Swooping Hawks mill about in the building with the Banshees who chopped up the Tau commander.

Aeldari orders are sometimes based not only on sound tactical principles, but also how nice it would be to stand in a patch of flowers by a babbling brook before the Rad missiles rain down.

Aaron's objectives. At this late stage of the game pretty difficult to achieve.
In my turn a Doom, Dark Reapers double team got rid of Longstrike. In retrospect I should have done this earlier as he is a real pain in the arse. The Autarch killed the last two Vespids giving me a VP for Blood & Guts.  It also stopped Aaron from getting Linebreaker.  I managed to get it as several of my units were over in the Tau's deployment zone. With the end of turn 5 the game was called as time was a factor.

Optimistic Banshees attempt to chop up a Hammerhead. Them bitches be crazy!
Turn 5, the scores are 15 : 5. I am officially out of command points as well.

Back In Ulthwe's Garden Of Reflection

That was a cracking game! First off the VP score didn't reflect the closeness of the game, but I managed to get the best result in the Combined Strike objective which kind of skewed the total. I used two things for the first time this game, Jain Zar and a Hemlock. I really enjoyed both. Jain Zar is a bit of a beast in combat (granted Tau aren't renowned for their hand to hand skills) but her advance and assault in the same turn ability gives her a possible threat range of 27"! The Hemlock's contribution, although brief was very influential. The Hemlock (or to be more accurate - the Mind Shock Pod) is ideal for making swathes of small units leg it when they take casualties. As Aaron had used minimum sized units to gain the brigade detachment for the purposes of command points it did it's job, flew over a bunch of troops sacred the Bejasus out of them, got shot down. I used a lot of command points to use on strategems without getting many back but I think lightning reflexes makes Aeldari far more durable. I used the Striking Scorpions woefully, (I forgot to even attempt to charge the fire Warriors in turn two) so effectively wasted them. Using the brigade detachment gave me a lot of CPs and I spent them all, mainly to offset Aaron's shooting so it was worth it. Think I will have to mount my Autarch on a jetbike so that any Priority Orders Received can be achieved late game. All in all the game went the right way for me and not so much for Aaron.

As far as the ongoing Scargill narrative goes on, the Aeldari have departed again knowing that the Tau od Pur'la Sept will be reinforced in time for the Orks to make planetfall. Longstrike's tank was destroyed in the game so it could mean he is captured by one of the many hostile parties on Scargill.

Following the battle Gelladrill surveyed the scene. The flaming wreckage of the vehicles - from both forces and corpse littered street emphasised the viciousness of the battle. Many Aeldari had been slain to further the cause of Craftworld Ulthwe. The wounded Aeldari and all viable soul stones were being gathered up and returned to Ulthwe via the webway. The Tau had been dealt a heavy blow this day and would be redoubling their efforts to gain a foothold on this planet. If her reading of the runes were right, the fate of many, many Aeldari would hinge upon a long and drawn out war on Scargill. 

Thanks for Reading.

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