1000 Point Tau Vs Imperial Guard: Cities of Death

The Shas'la, their armor covered in cement dust and debris, barely moved in the rubble of the devastated building. Shas'ui Bork'an Kadan saw to it that each was in position before opening a comm-channel to El'Ashar.

"We are in position, El. Seismic sensors are reading a large force of Gue'la armor closing in on our position."

"Very good, 'Ui. Good Fortune in the upcoming endeavor. Tau'va." Kadan could hear the roar of Crisis Suit thrusters behind his commander's calm voice. He knew then, for certain, that the plan was in motion.

La'Yokoi commed him from across the building. "Ui, how does us sitting here promote the Greater Good?"

Kadan frowned. Yokoi had read the mission briefs just like everybody else. Silently cursing the short memories of a La, he answered. "Kauyon. We wait and draw the enemy to us, while the rest of the cadre strikes when they are most vulnerable."

"So we sit here and die while everybody else wins the battle?" Yokoi asked.

"Exactly." Kadan said grimly.

Yokoi moaned. "Why didn't I complete my Hammerhead training?" Chuckles rippled among the La hidden in the building.

Kadan smiled, and replied. "For the Greater Good, La--what else?"

The ground began to shake visibly, and they all went silent. Lumbering slowly into view through the ruined Gue'la city was a massive Imperial Tank, and it was headed their way.

My friend, Ryan, completed a number of pretty snazzy city ruins to play in, so we decided to give them a real workout in a true Cities of Death game.

El'Ashar's Assault Cadre


Shas'el w/Cyclic Ion Blaster, Burst Cannon, Targeting Array, HW Multitracker,
      Stimulant Injector


1 Crisis Suit w/TL Fusion Blaster, Flamer
1 Crisis Suit w/TL Fusion Blaster, Flamer


10 FWs w/Shas'ui, Bonded, Photon Grenades
10 FWs w/Shas'ui, Bonded, Photon Grenades
6 FWs w/Shas'ui, Pulse Carbines, EMP Grenades, Bonded
12 Kroot

Fast Attack

Piranha #1 w/Targeting Array, Fusion Blaster
Piranha #2 w/Targeting Array, Fusion Blaster
Piranha #3 w/Targeting Array, Fusion Blaster

Heavy Support

Hammerhead w/Railgun, Burst Cannons, Multitracker, Target Lock, Targeting Array,
      Decoy Launchers

112th Cadian Shock Brigade


Command Platoon
-HQ Squad w/Senior Officer, Lascannon, Vox Caster
-Mortar Support Squad (Mortars x3)


3 Ratling Snipers


Infantry Platoon
-HQ Squad w/Junior Officer, Autocannon, Grenade Launcher
-Squad #1 w/Lascannon, Meltagun
-Squad #2 w/Lascannon, Plasmagun

Armored Fist Squad w/Flamer, Vox Caster
-Mounted in Chimera w/Multilaser, Heavy Bolter, Smoke Launchers, HK Missile

Fast Attack

Hellhound w/Smoke Launchers

Heavy Support

Griffon Mortar Tank
Demolisher w/Lascannon, Heavy Flamer Sponsons

Terrain and Deployment

We had decided to play a 'Gamma' level game, which put us on a 4'x4' board. Ordinarily I am pretty wary of playing on anything that may restrict my or my opponent's lateral movement, since I think that usually makes the game more fun. However, I recognized that the 'claustrophobic' feel of a city battle might be a fun change, so we went for the smaller board.

To describe the board, imagine it as a diamond (rather than a square), with a south quarter, a north quarter, an east quarter, and a west quarter. Seeing as we play by quarters in CoD, this description will make things easier later on. The borders between quarters were open 'roads' that bisected the board from the SW to NE and the NW to SE. They weren't literally 'roads' for gameplay purposes, but were open, about 6" wide, and ran the whole length of the board.

The southern quarter of the board was dominated by a very large, mostly one-story city ruin that was roughly triangular in shape. Its SW edge had a roof over it, allowing models to either perch up top for better LOS, or shelter beneath to hide from barrage weapons or the like. Moving clockwise, the western quarter had a large, 2-story rectangular building that basically filled most of the area there, except for a few random ridges of rubble/craters scattered around the outskirts. The north quarter was the most open, with a small, pillbox-like building at almost the center of the board, and then a number of raised ridges and pieces of rubble that created a cul-de-sac in the very northern corner of the board. Finally, the eastern quarter had two buildings. The first was a square, 3-story building arranged directly across the street from the triangular building in the southern quarter. The second was a long, rectangular, single-story ruin with a roof that ran along the SE edge of the eastern quarter.

At this point we screwed up a bit by deploying strategems *before* we had selected table quarters to play in. This wound up working to both of our disadvantages, though, so I think it was a wash overall. Ryan selected Preliminary Bombardment and Ammunition Store, which he placed in the rectangular building in the western quarter. I selected Deep Strike and Sewer Rats. I rolled for 5 sewer counters, which was sweet. I scattered them throughout the board: 1 in the western building, 1 in the southern building, 1 in the long rectangular ruin, 1 in the 3-story building in the eastern quarter, 1 next to the ridged cul-de-sac (let's call this 'the crater' from now on) in the northern corner.

Rolling for mission, we got 'Urban Assault', which required us to sieze the defended building in our opponent's quarter. I won deployment choice, so I picked the southern quarter. This game me the large triangular ruin to defend and left Ryan with the tiny pillbox for him to defend. I placed my Hammerhead directly behind my building along with the Crisis Commander. Piranha #1 went behind the western edge of the building, while #2 and #3 went along the southern edge. Both large Firewarrior squads deployed inside the building, but kept well back from the edges and under as much cover as possible. I decided to Deep Strike my two fusion suits, and put the Kroot and the 6-man carbine team in the sewers to pop out somewhere and cause trouble later.

For his part, Ryan placed his Platoon HQ in the pillbox with his two squads fanning out on either side--the las-melta to the west and the las-plas to the east. In a very aggressive deployment move, Ryan dropped his Demolisher in front of the objective and pretty much right on top of me. In the NE corner of his quarter, he placed the Chimera with the AF squad already mounted inside. Mirroring this in the west, the Hellhound flanked the las-melta squad. The ratlings deployed alongside the las-plas squad in the east. In the northern corner, the mortars filled up the crater and the Griffon parked itself on top of the sewer token next to said crater, giving it partial LOS to my building in the south. Finally, his Command HQ took a position behind some cover at the edge of the crater, its lascannon gaining LOS to my building and along much of the street running diagonally to the SE.

When deployment was finished:

My corner...

...And his corner.

Turn 1

My basic plan was relatively simple. Utilizing the excellent cover and large size of my building in the south quarter, I would hunker down with the 20 Firewarriors and let Ryan pound on them. Considering that he'd have to kill 16 of them to drop both units below scoring, I figured I had good odds of holding on. In the meantime, my mobile units along with the Kroot and the carbine squad would take his army apart from the flanks as he arranged to pour more firepower on my objective. Thanks to the small size of the pillbox he was guarding, I was reasonably certain that I could levy enough firepower to blow them off of it and, if possible, assault with drones or Kroot or something else expendable in the late game.

Of course, the plan had largely come into being before Ryan had dropped his Demolisher on my front doorstep. This was reckless of him, since there were a couple fusion blasters and a railgun within easy striking distance of the big tank, and if I got the first turn I would certainly nullify the thing before it did any real damage.

Unfortunately, I did *not* get the first turn. I pretty much never do, so it didn't come as a huge blow. I did, however, now have to worry about the Demolisher blowing the crap out of my poor FWs. Ryan began his turn by moving the Demolisher down the street a bit and parking it close to the edge of my building for a nice heavy flamering later on. Simultaneously, his two infantry squads spread out, with the las-melta claiming the ammo dump in the west, and the las-plas claiming the bottom floor of the three-story building in the east. Both squads moved and were in heavy cover, so neither had LOS to much of anything, and so did no damage. The ratlings, though, roll well on their difficult terrain, and climb to the second floor of the eastern triple decker. The shooting really kicks off as the closer of the two FW squads are shelled by the mortars and the autocannon from the Platoon HQ, killing 4 and pinning the squad. Their punishement ended with the Demolisher flaming them, but they had been so thinned at that point that it only wound up killing one more, for a total loss of 5 for the turn. The Griffon then lobs a shot at Piranha #1, hoping to catch both it and my Shas'el in the blast, but it scatters wide and does nothing. On the subject of nothing, the Hellhound sits where it is, not having LOS to much of anything, and Ryan wanted to hold him back to deal with possible sewer rats popping up in inconvenient places. Finally, the Chimera with the AF squad cruises into the eastern quarter and manages a cross-board shot through some terrain at Piranha #3, which immobilizes it. Fortunately for me, though, since it hadn't moved yet, it just drifted to the ground.

The Demolisher Gets Up Close and Personal

In my turn, my primary objective was to blast the Demolisher away so as to spare me any more double-heavy-flamerings. Towards that end, I flew Piranha #1 over my building to get in close for a high-power melta shot. After disembarking the Piranha drones, I miss my Fusion blast on a 2. Fortunately, I had planned for this contigency and moved my Hammerhead atop the roof at the back of the building and fired my railgun at it...and missed (grumble, grumble). Fortunately, the handy-dandy target lock mounted on the hover tank meant my burst cannons were put to good use gunning down a pair of guardsmen in the ammo-dump building. This damage was compounded by the Shas'el, who leapt out from behind the southern building to strafe the las-melta guardsmen with ion and burst cannon fire, killing another 2. The beleagured guardsmen, however, stuck to their cover and didn't run. The Shas'el then jumped behind the ammo-dump building, hiding himself from return fire next turn.

Back to the center of the board for a second, the just-disembarked drones from Piranha #1 fired at the ratlings, doing nothing, while the second FW squad, hitherto undamaged by the Imperial barrage thus far, stumbled forward in the ruins to take some attention off the damaged pinned crew. Unfortunately, they rolled a 2" move through the rubble of the southern building, and didn't get much of anywhere.

Along the southeastern edge of the board, Piranha #2 jetted forward a full 20", making ready for an attack run at the Demolisher's side armor next turn. Finally, Pirhana #3's drones disembarked and floated towards the triple-decker building to wrap up the turn.

Piranha #1 Chokes

Turn 2

After my truly mediocre first turn, Ryan was still clearly in the driver's seat of this game. Most of his troops proceeded to sit tight and blast away. For starters, the Demolisher leveled its massive cannon at my lone piranha and BOOM!--scored a direct hit, which, by some miracle, only managed to shake it. This good luck was quickly erased by the platoon HQ in the central pillbox, who blasted the Piranha out of the sky with a pair of well-placed autocannon shots. The mortars continued to blast the first FW squad in the building, which lost another man but was not pinned. The Griffon targeted the second FW squad, but missed as the shot scattered over the protective roof at the rear of the building. The las-melta squad in the ammo dump fired an unsually accurate barrage of fire at the second FW squad, though, killing 2. The Hellhound moved up along the NW edge of the board, supporting the las-meltas with its intimidating presence (Ryan seemed to presume that my sewer rats were going to try and take his ammo dump away). The ratlings killed one of the drones off of the now-destroyed Piranha #1. The other drone was killed by the las-plas squad, who found the Demolisher parked in just the wrong place for them to get LOS to any FWs, and didn't roll high enough on their difficult terrain roll to move anywhere better. Their barrage on the lone, worthless drone, however, cost them--the plasma gun overheated, killing the gunner. Elsewhere, the Command HQ fired its lascannon at the Hammerhead, but missed. Finally, the Chimera rounded the corner of the three-story building in the east quarter and disembarked the AF squad. Then, it took aim at the Hammerhead with its HK missile at relatively vulnerable side armor. He hit, glanced, and rolled an immobilized. Catastrophe, you say! Not so fast! DECOY LAUNCHERS TO THE RESCUE! They deployed, misdirecting the missile at the last moment, and reduced the damage to a mere stunning. *That*, my friends, is why that seemingly insignificant little addition should never, *ever* be omitted from expensive Tau tanks. It just paid for itself for about, oh, the next 50 games or so.

The Chimera prepares to light the fuse...

In my end of the turn, I started rolling for my reserves. The only ones to bother showing up were the Kroot. At the time, this made me nervous, but I think it actually wound up working to my advantage. In any case, Ryan had done a good job of covering up as many manhole covers as he could. The Griffon was parked on one, the las-plas squad was babysitting another, and the one in the ammo dump had a Hellhound staring at it. Not wanting to deploy in my own building, I put the Kroot in the rectangular ruin along the SE edge of the board. This gave them LOS to the majority of the AF squad, whom they rapid fired for 7 casualties. The remaining 3 guardsmen, though, were not dismayed and stuck around. Elsewhere, Piranha #2 swooped into the Demolisher's side and disembarked drones. While the drones peppered the las-plas squad on the ground floor of the triple decker building, killing 1, the Piranha's Fusion Blaster scored a penetrating hit on the Demolisher. Rather than destroying it, though, I only knocked off the demolisher cannon and stunned it for next turn. Also in the east, Piranha #3's drones floated forward and fired a few rounds at the las-plas squad as well, but failed to kill any.

In the central building, the first FW squad, now with only 4 men, took cover behind the wreck of Piranha #1. The second FW squad moved a health 6" through the wreckage to get 3 men in rapid fire range of the platoon HQ bunkered in the pillbox (my objective). 6 shots yielded 5 hits and 2 kills--not a bad haul--but the junior officer wiped the blood and dust off his epaulets and swore never to retreat. The Hammerhead spent the turn recovering from its evasive maneuvers last turn. Finally, in the west, the Shas'el jetted into the ammo dump, weapons blazing. He killed 4 of the remaining 8 guardsmen in the las-melta squad with his barrage of ion fire, and then charged. Despite his size and aggression, however, the doughty guardsmen had good cover, and no one took any damage in the ensuing assault on either side.

The Tau Commander's Lone Charge

Piranha #2 Swoops In

Turn 3

With his offensive momentum largely stalled, Ryan sat back and did some more shooting with what he could. In the east, the surviving members of the AF squad climbed to the second floor of the triple decker and shot one of the approaching drones. Their Chimera, meanwhile, fired at Piranha #2 but failed to penetrate its armor.

In the center, the las-plas squad was still frustrated by the Demolisher blocking much of their fire lanes (including their LOS to the Hammerhead), but didn't want to move and lose their range and lascannon shot. They fired at the second FW squad along with the platoon HQ, killing another 1. Mortar shells again slammed down into the ruins, but Griffon and regular mortars both scattered too much to do any significant damage. The ratlings, finally, shot at drones, but failed to hurt any.

In the west, the Command HQ tried to capitalize on the stunned Hammerhead, but failed to hit with its lascannon...again. The Hellhound rolled back around the ammo dump building and launched a gout of flame at the larger of the two FW squads in my building. In a feat of terrible rolling, Ryan turned what was probably 7 dead FWs into 1 by missing the inferno cannon roll, flubbing the partial rolls, and rolling all 1s to wound save a single '3'. The heavy bolter also missed. Finally, in assault the Shas'el won combat and ran off the remainder of the las-melta squad (who would keep running off the board), but stayed out of the open to avoid possible lascannon fire next turn.

Turn 3, for me, was time for a reckoning. Ryan's attacks on me had been largely diffuse and uncoordinated, and it was time to slam him hard for his mistakes. First off, my reserves brought in only one of my fusion suits, which landed right in front of the Hellhound in a picture-perfect meltagun deepstrike. His shot penetrated the front armor, but my damage roll came up a bit short by only stunning the flame tank. Also in the western quarter, the Shas'el popped out from behind the building/Hellhound to gun down 3 of the Command HQ squad and do a wound to the senior officer. The lascannon, however, was still on the board, so he jumped back behind the Hellhound again.

In the center, the Hammerhead came to life, flying over my building to roll up the central avenue. Its railgun speared the Griffon from across the board, destroying it instantly, and its burst cannons killed off the remaining platoon HQ members inside the pillbox. Pirhana #2 ran another strafing run on the Demolisher, scoring another penetrating hit that both immobilized and stunned it. The second FW squad rapid fired the las-plas guardsmen across the street which, along with gunfire from the Piranha #3 drones, killed several.

In the east, the lone remaining drone from Piranha #2 flew to the second floor of the triple decker, shot, and assaulted the ratlings. It killed one for no damage in return, and the ratlings ran for their lives--also never to rally. It then consolidated into the las-plas squad on the first floor, locking them into assault next turn. Finally, with a series of inhuman hoot and cries, the Kroot broke cover and descended on the stationary Chimera. 36 automatic hits to its vulnerable side armor resulted in 5 glancing hits, which tore off the weapons and immobilized the tank for an effective 'destroyed' result as the crew were dragged out of their tank and eaten alive.

One Gun Drone tries clearing a whole building

The primitive Kroot swarm the Chimera

Turn 4

Reeling from last turn's losses, Ryan tried to do what he could to salvage his faltering lines. First, though, was grisly revenge. Calling in a mortar strike, the AF squad rapid fired the Kroot from their elevated position. Along with the mortars, the closely packed aliens were reduced to 2 models. Much to their credit, though, the mercenaries did not run, nor were they pinned. In the triple-decker, the las-plas squad clubbed down the drone, but at the cost of their shooting for the turn. Elsewhere, the Command HQ took a shot at the Hammerhead, but missed...again. Said Ryan: "Looks like there's a certain lascannoner who's got an appointment with a firing squad." With everything else either running scared or stunned, Ryan popped smoke on his Hellhound and ended his turn.

Turn 4 for me was about banging nails into coffins. My second fusion suit landed, but scattered away from the Hellhound to wind up very close to the Command HQ, which he then flamered out of existence. My carbine squad of FWs showed up, as well, and since the Griffon no longer counted as an enemy model, they climbed out of their sewer grate beneath it and on top of the wreckage. Their weapons killed half of the mortar squad, but the stubborn Gue'la stuck by their guns. The Shas'el fired at the rear armor of the Hellhound and assualted it for little effect, but the first fusion suit did better, immobilizing it with a close-range shot and then jumping back into the pillbox to claim it for my side. The Hammerhead continued to truck along the central avenue, blasting guardsmen in the triple decker with the burst cannons, and missing with its railgun against the Hellhound. Piranha #2 shot the Demolisher--again--and penetrated it--again--and rolled a 3--again (sigh). The big tank now had no more lascannon, and was stunned for the next round. Finally, a combined assault of the 2 drones from Piranha #3 and the 2 remaining Kroot killed 3 guardsmen in the bottom floor of the triple-decker, but resulted in 1 dead Kroot and 1 dead drone. The remaining guardsmen broke from combat and fled.

Turn 5

Knowing all was lost, Ryan tried to do what little damage he could with his broken men. The 3 survivors of the armored fist squad tried killing the last Kroot, but failed. The mortar crewmen broke out their lasguns and tried to shoot the carbine warriors on their doorstep, but failed to penetrate the high-tech Tau body armor.

The Imperials are broken

In my turn, a Fusion suit put an end to the Hellhound (finally), while another flamered hapless Ratlings who were fleeing by (mean, I know). The Shas'el likewise harried the Imperial retreat, and the Hammerhead put a rail slug through the side of the Demolisher. Penetrated, but rolled another 3. Sheesh. I ended my turn with the two fusion suits occupying the pillbox, my objective.

Final Score

Victory Points were not used--only scoring units on objectives. So:


2 (2 Fusion Suits)

Imperial Guard:


Post Mortem

Despite a rocky start, my plan worked perfectly, I feel. Ryan focused his firepower on my infantry squads, which were really hard to shift in the ruins. In the meantime, the rest of my army slowly wittled him away at the sides until his center was the only thing left, and that was only support squads. Even though I took me a while to kill most of his vehicles, I am not disappointed in this. His vehicles were taken out as factors pretty early on, spending most of their time stunned. I made the rolls I needed to make, and wiped him off the board with gradual, persistent pressure.

That said, I have to say that Ryan made things a little easier for me than they should have been. For starters, holding the Hellhound back was a big mistake, I think. It could have cleaned me out of my objective at least partially, and not utilizing it earlier cost him a lot. Also, his assault was very haphazard and uncoordinated. He spread out his squads, clogged his fire lanes with his tanks, and generally tripped himself up. If he had made a concerted assault, I would have been a much closer game.

Still, it was a good time, and I liked the feel of the Tau in Cities of Death. That doesn't mean I relish fighting the orks in the same scenario, but still...

Thanks for reading!