Tau Vs Sisters Double-Header, Part 2

Shas'el Bork'an Ashar perched his Crisis Suit in a shallow wooded gully in a heavily forested area of sector G7 while he reviewed the message logs from El'Honjik's engagement that morning to the north. The whole thing looked like it had been a fiasco, from Honjik's poor planning to his troops' poor shooting accuracy and performance. The only saving grace of the engagement was that the Gue'la infantry were too slow to capture much of the force, so Honjik had managed to withdraw cleanly with only minor elements of his cadre failing to be recovered.

Intelligence from pathfinder teams and Kroot scouts had informed Ashar that the massed infantry that had repulsed Honjik were, in all likelihood, part of a much larger force. All bordering sectors had been put on alert by O'Tasha, in the event the Gue'la took Honjik's own poor logistical skills as a sign of weakness in the Tau lines.

Accordingly, Ashar and his cadre, along with their Kroot auxiliaries, had been lying in wait along the border, near the few clear paths through the dense woodlands in the area. Coordinating with Shaper Tonja, Ashar had seen to it that the Kroot were harrying and ambushing along the border to indicate a possible advance from a position far to Ashar's south. He was banking that the Gue'la's inherent aggression would lead them to preempt his false attack, bringing their line of advance right into the jaws of his trap. Everybody was in position. Ashar spoke to his troops over a general comm channel. "Remember, we are Kauyon. Be patient." Now, all he had to do was wait...

So, following the 1500 point Escalation debacle in the open plain, Spooky and I played the second half of our campaign actions for the turn. He was taking a 750 point force and attacking my border in a forested space, which made me the defender. However, since he wasn't recklessly attacking through my border (as I had done to him), he got to choose the mission level again. This time it was Alpha, Seek and Destroy. Our armies were as follows:

Ashar's Hunter Cadre

HQ
Shas'el w/Plasma, Cyclic Ion Blaster, Targeting Array, HW Multitracker, Stim Injector

Elites
6 Stealth Suits, Team Leader, Bonded, Drone Controller (Gun Drones x2)

Troops
10 FWs, Shas'ui
10 FWs, Shas'ui
10 Kroot

Fast Attack
Piranha w/Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array
Piranha w/Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array

Sisters of Battle Assault Group

HQ
Palatine w/Stormbolter

Elites
Inquisitor w/Stormbolter
Callidus Assassin

Troops
10 Sisters w/Meltagun, Flamer; VSS w/Book of St. Lucius
10 Sisters w/Meltagun, Flamer; VSS w/Book of St. Lucius
10 Sisters w/Meltagun, Flamer; VSS w/Book of St. Lucius
10 Sisters w/Meltagun, Flamer; VSS w/Book of St. Lucius

Okay, so as you can see, Spooky's list was largely the same as his last one. The difference is, of course, the assassin (who can deepstrike regardless of mission level). I suspected her presence when he threw down the Inquisitor with just a stormbolter. My list is slightly less mobile (no Devilfish), and with far less AP2. Fewer big guns, too--understandable given the point constraints. I could have brought a Hammerhead if I wanted, but thought it didn't fit with the 'border defense' nature of the force I was creating. Plus, between the pulse weapons and the Piranha, I was confident I could deal with any armor Spooky brought.

Which was, of course, why he brought none. He just went with the horde of sisters again. Granted, with fewer heavy weapons, but the same could be said of my force. Basically, this was shaping up to a smaller-scale rematch of our first game.

Terrain and Deployment

One chief difference here, though, was the presence of actual terrain. As opposed to our open plain of the first game, this time we were in heavily wooded territory. The southern edge of the board sported a small copse of trees and some rocks and sandbags from the SE corner to almost the center, where there was a two-level hill covered in trees. The SW had another, smaller hill. In no-man's land, there was a large forest on the east edge, a small grouping of bushes and rocks at the dead center, and a large forest in the west, about 12" from the western board edge. Finally, along the north edge, there was a small forest and some low hills from the NE to the center, another small forest at the center, and then a large hill in the NW.

For deployment, Spooky won and picked the north edge. He placed one sister squad in a line along the NW, taking sparse cover from the small forest at the center of the north edge and also from the various ridges in that area. Two more squads (one with the Palatine) clustered partially behind the western edge of the NE hill, while the Inquisitor deployed with the final squad in the NE corner. The Callidus remained in reserve to pop up later, and Spooky opted not to use Word in Your Ear so as to confuse me as to which assassin he had, if any.

I knew he had one, but I didn't think it was the Callidus. During my deployment, I presumed that his assassin would be infiltrating (which I figured they could do regardless of mission). Accordingly, I tried to eat up their hiding places. One FW team took up a position atop the south-central hill among the woods. The second FW team lined up along the sandbags to the west of the hill. I then juked Spooky's deployment by tossing the Kroot on the eastern flank, just behind the big forest in no-man's-land. This worked rather well, as his line ended up being concentrated behind the NE hill. The rest of my forces, accordingly, deployed in the SW corner--Stealths, two Piranhas, and Shas'el. These would form the spearhead of my assault on his weak western flank.


Sisters Of Battle Deployment


Tau Deployment (odd angle--sorry)

Turn 1

Continuing my streak, I lost first turn to Spooky (2 for 11 on first turn!). His activities were pretty straightforward: Everybody advanced. His second westernmost squad climbed atop the NW hill, and the Inquisitor squad edged around the western side of said hill. The Inquisitor took some stormbolter pot-shots at the Kroot, but failed to kill any.

With my prey a bit closer, and my east flank weighted heavily to pummel his, I sprung into action. The two Piranha jetted a full 24" around the eastern edge of the forest on that side of the board, pivoting to have a good angle for a flank attack in coming rounds. The Shas'el and Stealths, meanwhile, hopscotched up the board, keeping as many trees between them and their enemies as possible. In shooting, all twenty FWs and the Shas'el opened up on the easternmost sister squad, killing 5. Furthermore, I mistakenly fired a fusion blaster from one Piranha, killing another of the girls. This mistake would have been a problem, were it not for the Book of St Lucius. Since he didn't suffer any Ld penalties on his morale check, when he rolled a 10 and his whole squad legged off the board I didn't feel that bad about killing that extra girl when I shouldn't have--it made no real difference. Finally, the Kroot plunged into the large forest in front of them along the western flank, ready to dig themselves in like a pack of Alabama ticks.

Turn 2

Seeing his eastern flank crumble on a lousy morale check, Spooky commented that this battle was almost nearly over. Because of the way deployment was now skewed, I outranged him, could out maneuver him, and was packing heavier firepower. Still, he soldiered on and pulled out his first dirty trick--the Callidus. The loathesome Inquisitorial operative pulled off her fishy-Tau mask to reveal herself right between the FW squads in my backfield. She then fired her neuro-flamer-thingy at the squad on the hill and killed four of the surprised Tau warriors. Unfortunately for her, when she went for the charge, she only rolled a 3 on her difficult terrain roll, and couldn't quite make it into assault. (Spooky: *sigh*) Elsewhere in his army, the Palatine squad and hill squad advanced slightly on the Kroot's position in preparation (I presume) to charge into flamer range on the following turn. The Inquisitor squad closed in on the Kroot's western flank and opened fire with whatever had range. Though scoring 2 damaging hits, the Kroot's uncanny ability to hide in the trees meant none of the carnivorous beasties went down.


Firewarrior: "Hey, Stanley, you're acting kinda weird...WHOA!"

In my end of the second turn, I knew priority one was taking down that Callidus. While the Piranhas pressed the advantage in the north, killing one of the Palatine's squad with fusion and drone fire (the drones disembarked...), the group of firewarriors who had taken the casualties opened up point blank on the assassin, taking off one wound. Not satisfied, I shot her with my Shas'el, but she miraculously dodged all his wounding hits. Rather frustrated, I committed the stealth team to gunning her down (they didn't have range to much else, anyway), and the combined fire of six burst cannons did her in. The remaining full squad of firewarriors fired on the Palatine's squad, killing another sister. Finally, whooping with excitement, the Kroot surged through the woods and charged the remaining sisters and the Palatine (who was not in base to base, and thus did not contribute). They killed 3 sisters to one of their own, and the sisters broke out of combat, though they only ran 2". The Kroot, heady with blood-lust, closed the gap and re-engaged the squad.


The FWs introduce 'Stanley' to Mr. Pulse Rifle


Advancing with little resistance

Turn 3

With the Kroot engaged and, therefore, non-targetable, Spooky didn't have a lot of moves to make this round. The sister squad closest to my troops takes a few long-range shots at my stealths (I think) but I make the saves. The Inquisitor squad is too far out of the theatre of operations to do much but close some of the distance between them and the action.

Finally, in assault the Kroot cut down another 2 sisters to one of their own, and run down the remainder. They consolidate back towards the forest from which they emerged.

In my turn, I move the Kroot most fully into the forest, trying to keep them outside of the 6" sighting range of the Inquisitorial squad. The rest of my army throws everything they've got at the next sister squad down the line. Between the piranhas, drones, stealths, Shas'el, and 16 FWs, I slaughtered the squad down to 2, who were then charged by the Piranha drones and locked in combat.

Turn 4

Spooky, having determined that he lost this game a while ago, determined that his one goal would be to kill off the Kroot for vengance's sake. The Inquistorial squad closed the gap between they and the carnivores and managed to squeeze off a fair number of bolt shots, despite my best efforts to hide. Two Kroot died in the shooting. The last remaining sisters in the squad tied up with the drones managed to destroy the little frisbees, but were looking down the barrels of a lot of guns next turn.

In my turn, the El'Ashar casually gunned down the two remaining sisters, while the Piranhas and remaining drones shot at the Inquisitorial squad, killing one (I think). Then, the Kroot charged and killed another 1, but not before losing two of their own number.


Closing the Noose

Turn 5

With only 8 sisters and an Inquisitor left on the board, Spooky fought long enough to kill the remaining Kroot (losing another sister in the process), and then conceded.

Final Score Tau: 5 Scoring Units Witchhunters: 1 Scoring Unit

Post-Mortem

In the end, Spooky killed the Koot, damaged a FW squad, and killed two worthless drones. I, on the other hand, killed everything he had except the Inquisitor's squad, which would have been mine in the following turns, most likely.

There was a bit of a luck reversal here compared to last game. I don't particularly feel my luck was 'good', per se, but Spooky's had better days. The things that really killed him were the first failed morale check for his eastern sisters and the 3" difficult terrain for the Callidus. His armor saves weren't great, but I think they were about par for the number of damaging hits I was piling on his head (I was regularly scoring torrent of fire and torrent of blows on his squads, even when they were 8 strong). His biggest tactical mistake was his deployment. I think he assumed that, since the Kroot were thrown way out on my western flank, I would be putting more of my troops out that way to back them up. Of course, I never really intended to back up my cheap, throw-away unit.

That said, the Kroot performed above and beyond in this game. Of course, it *was* a forest board, which is always fun with the aboreal aliens, but even beyond that--they rolled well, they got lucky (Spooky lost his Book of St. Lucius in the Palatine squad from their first charge, and so that made breaking them *much* easier), and they killed triple their points in sisters without even breaking a sweat. Sure, they all died in the end, but hey--70 points well spent. The rest of my plan was petty textbook. I broke through his flank on my first turn (a turn earlier than I expected, actually), and just gobbled him up from the side. He couldn't maneuver to react to me (thanks to the terrain and the Kroot, for the most part, not to mention the footslogging nature of his list), and I outranged and outgunned him at each stage. Even if the Callidus *had* wiped out one squad of FWs (very likely), they were arranged in such a way that unless she killed the whole squad in one round (much less likely), she would have been pulse rifle bait by the time she was out of combat, anyway.

Altogether, it was a brisk, devastating match and, even though it was demoralizing to my opponent, it was a rare treat to get to whoop the guy who just whooped me. Also, Spooky was a real sport during the whole enterprise. He might have conceded by turn 3, but he decided to play it out to something more final. Thanks, Spooks!