Scenario: Standard Recon
Necron Forces: Badelaire
Tau Forces: Darkwing
Darkwing: The keys to my plan are two: Mobility and Concentration of Fire.
Mobility: Badelaire is definitely going to try to assault my units with his Scarabs and Flayed Ones--and probably, anything that has an opportunity to assault. Therefore I need to keep moving to keep him out of close combat as long as possible.
Concentration of Fire: If I'm going to beat the Necrons, I can't go after them piecemeal. I absolutely must pick a unit, and unload everything I have into it until it is destroyed. Since I don't have to worry about Necron Ordnance weapons, I will be able to bunch units up, both to block enemy lines of sight, and to concentrate my own firepower. If I am able to isolate a Necron unit and wipe it out in one turn, then they will be unable to WBB. Of course, Badelaire knows this, and knowing my own lack of Ordnance templates, he will pack his own Necrons together as well to maximize the chances of using WBB and shield his more valuable units.
My guess is that Badelaire's tactics will be as follows: He will advance with his Necron Warriors, Immortals, and Destroyers, shooting at targets of opportunity. His scarabs will move under cover on turn one, hoping to get into the assault by turn two. He will have one, possibly two units of Flayed Ones which will Deep Strike in an attempt to encircle my units and get them into close combat, where he has the advantage. He will also likely have a Necron Lord with Veil of Darkness which he will use to Deep Strike one of his Warrior Units around the table to harass me, and possibly engage me in close combat.
Even though this scenario doesn't allow Deep Strike, Badelaire will be able to get around this because Flayed Ones can always Deep Strike and the Veil of Darkness will allow him to do it every turn. My advantage, however, is mobility. My battlesuits are mobile enough that if I use them right I can evade getting stuck in close combat, while at the same time always being able to outrange most of the Necrons. My Fire Warrior Squads are far less mobile, but if I deploy them well, each squad will be covered by fire from the others, and when one is threatened I can pull back with it rather than make a last stand.
The slowest units in my army are the Fire Warrior Squads, so they will be my bait. They will hold the line against the attacking Scarabs and any other Necron troops advancing on them. The rest of my army will maneuver to attack the Necrons from all directions and try to get them to phase out. Even if I fail in getting them to phase out, I will hopefully do enough damage to them that it won't matter. I must also keep my sights on the objective, and remember to pile everything I have into the Necron Deployment zone in Turn 6. Since my battlesuits are very mobile, I should be able move them in there easily enough.
Badelaire: I had only seen one fight involving Darkwing’s Tau army against Meliadus’ space marines in a Cleanse mission. They had been pretty effective, and Darkwing had managed to only suffer some drone casualties, so I knew they were fairly resilient, especially since they could grant drones to squads and crisis suits. They’ve also got a lot of pretty high-strength firepower, with those St 5 pulse rifles and St 10 railguns. It was also, from what I gathered through discussions with Darkwing, the first army of his in which he had built it from the beginning with some idea in mind of what he wanted from the list as a whole, and not assembling it piecemeal over a span of years with little thought to how the list would appear once finished. All in all, I was very worried that my Necrons would wither and die under a hail of brutal, disciplined pulse fire, smart missiles, and railgun impacts.
On top of this, I knew his army had a lot of mobility. Those jetpacks gave him a great advantage in using fire-and-maneuver tactics against me, and I pictured his army hosing mine with firepower while leapfrogging into my deployment zone to earn all those Victory Points. I knew I could kill his troops and his drones, but the question became whether or not I would survive his massed firepower long enough to do that, and whether or not I could wear down his army while at the same time getting mine into his deployment zone to earn those precious Victory Points, because it was my feeling, going into the game, that the battle would be a close one, ultimately won by whoever acquired more deployment zone VPs.
Building My List
We were going for a 1750-point battle, which was at the extreme end of my list size. I’d be using almost all of my models, and I actually went out and bought several more to give me a little list flexibility. On the other hand, Darkwing’s army was somewhere around 1900 points in total size (which became more like 2000), so he had a lot more choice in what he could field during the fight.
Headquarters: The big difference between Necron HQs and many other armies is that, while the Lord is a formidable foe in assault, he’s not the godlike engine of destruction that many lists’ leaders are, like Marines, Chaos, Dark Eldar, and so on. The Necron Lord’s biggest job is to support and augment his forces with items like the Resurrection Orb, Veil of Darkness, Gaze of Flame, Nightmare Shroud, Solar Pulse, and so on. Originally I was going to field two lords, one kitted out to go in and kill crisis suits and broadsides, the other set up to support troops. However, I felt that spending upwards of 300-400 points on two models was ludicrous, and besides, I needed more firepower. Therefore I dropped one Lord, and instead went with a Destroyer Lord carrying a Staff of Light, Resurrection Orb, and the Solar Pulse. Going with the Destroyer Body bumped my toughness out of instant-kill railgun range, and gave extra protection against pulse fire. It also gave me that sweet 12” move, allowing him to keep up with my Destroyers and Heavy Destroyers. The Res Orb protected my nearby units (especially those precious Destroyers) from railgun hits taking them out permanently, and the Solar Pulse would mask my Lord and one attached unit for a turn, critical if I needed to move them out into the open where they wouldn’t be screened or protected by terrain.
Elite Choices: Knowing how awful the Tau are in assault, taking my Flayed Ones was a no-brainer. They were even more valuable because the mission allowed me to Infiltrate them, and I could Deep Strike them if I wanted to. I decided to go with one large squad of 10 rather than two squads of 5, mostly to protect them from having to take too many Morale tests from casualties. Leaderships of 10 are pretty stalwart, but you never know when the dice will rule against you, so keeping from having to roll in the first place is always nice. After the Flayed Ones, I finally decided that after dropping the second Lord, I would get a unit of 5 Immortals. I had two models already, and the cost of one minimum squad was equal to the Lord I had cut. I also knew I needed at least one more anti-infantry unit besides the Destroyers that had AP 4 firepower, A squad of 5 Immortals could cripple a Fire Warrior squad a turn, and they were pretty resilient with their Toughness 5. I just had to keep them from getting ganged up on, and they could march implacably forward and hose Darkwing’s warriors and drones all day long.
Troop Choices: Well, I could pretty much go with either two squads of 16, or two squads of 10 and a squad of 12. I decided to go with the two larger squads because I knew Darkwing would try and concentrate firepower in order to crush my squads badly enough to make them check Morale or even disappear entirely. Also, in order to screen my Destroyers effectively I needed a unit 16 or so models wide, especially if I was to be taking casualties from the flanks. On top of that, I wanted squads big enough to take heavy casualties and still count as whole for Victory Point purposes. Since Warriors are my only Troops choice, that settled that.
Fast Attack: A full-sized squad of 5 Destroyers was a must-have. Fifteen St 6 AP 4 shots a turn would be causing somewhere around 7-8 Tau kills a turn, pulverizing his troops and drones. They’d also be wounding even his crisis suits and broadsides on a 2+, which was key if I was going to succeed in killing those guys off. They’re also fast with a 12” move and Toughness 5, so I would hopefully be able to keep them alive long enough to get them into Darkwing’s deployment zone. Aside from the Destroyers, I decided to take two squads of 5 Scarab bases. Scarabs are great for tying down troops and anyone who can’t do a St 6 attack in assault. I just had to be very careful to avoid his shooting, since Darkwing’s Tau had lots of weapons that could vaporize whole bases with a single hit.
Heavy Support: This would be only the second battle in which I would be using my Heavy Destroyers. I decided to field them in two squads of 1 model each - a tad cheesy, but for Victory Points I could potentially get 200 VP apiece for these guys, and if I kept them each within 12” of a Tomb Spyder, they could still WBB even if they weren’t within 6” of each other. I knew I’d also need some one-shot killing power for use against Darkwing’s crisis suits, broadsides, and vehicles. As for the Tomb Spyders, I didn’t think they’d really get to do a lot in terms of combat (or would they?), but their support abilities would be important, and if they could draw some fire away from more precious units, so much the better. I could also use them to generate Scarabs and take some hits, so that was also a bonus (nothing like free Scarab bases!).
All in all, I was a little nervous that this list wasn’t perfect for the mission at hand, but since I didn’t have much choice due to the large size of the battle, it would have to do…
|Necron Lord with Destroyer Body (1)||190|
|Flayed Ones (10)||180|
|Heavy Destroyers (1)||65|
|Heavy Destroyers (1)||65|
|Tomb Spyder (3)||165|
|Commander Shas'el with Bodyguard (3)||284|
|Crisis Battlesuit Team (3)||205|
|Stealth Team (3)||100|
|Fire Warriors (12)||142|
|Fire Warriors (12)||142|
|Fire Warriors (12)||142|
|Fire Warriors (12)||142|
|Pathfinder (5) with Devilfish Dropship||185|
|Gun Drones (8)||96|
|Gun Drones (8)||96|
The Hammerhead moved back out of cover, lining up its Ion Cannon on the Necrons ahead. Most of the rest of the Tau forces moved ahead into firing range, while two squads of Fire Warriors held the line and leveled their pulse rifles. The Pathfinders readied their markerlights and rail rifles.
On the Tau left flank, the Crisis Suits fired upon the Necron Warrior Squad opposite them, killing one of them.
On the Tau right flank, everything that could fire opened up on the Necron Warrior Squad. The Hammerhead’s Ion Cannon hit twice, needed a 2+ to wound to kill a pair of Necron Warriors, and got a pair of ones. 22 Pulse Rifles fired and were completely ineffective. The Commander, in his Crisis Suit, managed to fell a single Necron Warrior with his Plasma Rifle, while his two bodyguards and the four gun drones did nothing. The squadron of Gun Drones fired, killing another Necron Warrior. The Pathfinders did better, their rail rifles dropping two Necron Warriors. The Necrons were undaunted by the fusillade, however, and refused to either be pinned or fall back.
Necrons mass on the hillThe Commander and his bodyguard darted back out of range, while the Stealth Suits advanced slightly.
Only a single Necron repaired itself, this from the unit on the Necron left flank.
On the Necron right flank, the Necrons advanced forward, the Scarabs into the trees, and the Flayed Ones out from behind the trees.
The tomb spyders advanced slowly, two of them generating a scarab base each. The Heavy Destroyers maneuvered in the Necron rear, while the Immortals held their position in the trees.
The Necron left flank advanced like an implacable metal wall, anchored and screened by a unit of 13 Necron Warriors. Screened by them crowded a mass of 5 Necron Destroyers and the Destroyer Lord.
The Necron Warriors on the Necron left flank opened fire on the Pathfinders in the trees, killing the two Pathfinders with markerlights. The Destroyers opened up on the Gun Drone Squadron, destroying seven out of eight of them. One of the Heavy Destroyers fired on the Commander’s Crisis Suits, but missed.
On the Tau left flank the Crisis Suits and Gun Drones advanced again into range.
A squad of Fire Warriors, led by the Ethereal, continued to move into position into the trees, while the rest of the Fire Warriors stayed put. The Commander and his bodyguard, the Stealth Team, and the last survivor of the Gun Drones advanced on the Necron Warriors Squad. The Pathfinders’ Devilfish moved out from behind its cover and landed, bringing its weapons to bear on the Necron Warriors.
The Tau Battle LineOn the Tau left flank, the Crisis Suits, Gun Drones, and one of the Fire Warrior Squads opened fire on the now exposed Flayed Ones, dropping four of them.
On the Tau right flank, the Tau unleashed all the firepower they could bring to bear on the advancing Necron Warrior squad. The Hammerhead’s Ion Cannon hit three times, and needed to 2+ to kill Necron Warriors. Three 1’s later, no Necrons died. 22 Pulse Rifle, 9 Burst Cannon, and a Twin-linked Pulse Carbine shot later, and still no Necrons had fallen. Finally, the Commander and his bodyguard felled three of the Necron Warriors, and the Pathfinders dropped another one with their Rail Rifles. The Necrons again refused to take much notice of the shots and continued to advance.
Two of the downed Necron Warriors promptly got back up, as did two of the Flayed Ones. The Necron right flank advanced again, although the Flayed Ones took cover behind the trees. On the Necron left flank, the Tomb Spyders advanced again and the Heavy Destroyers moved to new firing positions. The wall of Necron Warriors, however, stayed put and opened fire.
The Destroyer Lord picked off the last Gun Drone from the Gun Drone Squadron, while one of the Heavy Destroyers fired at the Devilfish and missed. The Necron Warrior Squad opened up on the Pathfinders, wiping them out. The Destroyer Squad fired on the Commander’s Crisis Suit Squad, killing all of the attached Gun Drones. Then the other Heavy Destroyer fired, killing one of the Commander’s Bodyguards.
A Tomb Spyder found itself close enough to the Stealth Team to assault it. It promptly moved in and killed two of the Stealth Suits, leaving one survivor who was unable to wound the Spyder in return.
Two squads of Fire Warriors continued to move into firing positions near the trees. On the Tau left flank the Crisis Suits and the Gun Drones again moved into firing positions. On the right flank, the Commander and his bodyguard maneuvered past the Devilfish.
On the left flank, fire from the Crisis Suits and the Gun Drones killed three Necron Warriors, and the Tau moved back out of range again.
On the Tau right flank, once again, the every Tau that could fire did so at the Necron Warrior unit anchoring the Necron position and screening the Destroyers. Finally, some shots began to connect. The units of Fire Warriors killed three Warriors, while the Devilfish killed one and the Hammerhead’s Ion Cannon killed two more. The Commander brought down three Warriors by himself, bringing the final tally to nine.
Tau forces face the Necron advanceThe Tomb Spyder meanwhile killed the last Stealth Suit in close combat, and consolidated towards the Devilfish. The Commander and his bodyguard jumped behind the trees and into cover.
All three Necron Warriors on the Necron right flank repaired themselves, while only three of the nine did so on the left flank. The Destroyers and the Destroyer Lord moved to their right slightly, and the Destroyer Lord set off his Solar Pulse, protecting them from incoming fire. The two Heavy Destroyers moved close to each other behind the large hill. One Tomb Spyder moved up behind the Warrior Squad, while the other assaulted the Devilfish. The entire Necron right flank advanced.
The Necron Warriors, Destroyers, and Heavy Destroyers opened fire on the Fire Warriors, killing seven from one squad and two from another. The Tomb Spyder assaulted the Devilfish, stunning the crew, destroying its burst cannon, and immobilizing it.
On the Tau left flank, the Crisis Suits and Gun Drones again moved into range. The Commander and his bodyguard moved into the trees, while the Hammerhead advanced slowly. Three units of Fire Warriors opened up with 27 Pulse Rifle shots at the Necron Warrior unit, but not a single Necron fell. The Commander and his bodyguard opened fire at close range, and the Commander managed to kill one of them.
One Fire Warrior Squad opened fire on the Tomb Spyder that was attacking the Devilfish, and killed its attendant scarabs. Then Hammerhead fired on the Tomb Spyder with both its Smart Missile System and its Ion Cannon, but only managed to deliver a single wound. The Tomb Spyder then destroyed the Devilfish, getting swallowed up by the explosion, but emerged unscathed.
A Stealth Suit is attacked by the Tomb SpyderOn the Tau left flank the Gun Drones and Crisis Suits fired on the Flayed Ones, now out in the open again, killing zero and four respectively.
One of the Flayed Ones promptly self repaired, as did one of the Necron Warriors. The Scarabs began to make their move, as one group of them moved in behind the Necron Warriors while the other advanced on the Gun Drones.
On the Necron left flank, the Necron Warriors advanced, followed by a Tomb Spyder and the Destroyers and Destroyer Lord.
Both Heavy Destroyers fired on the Hammerhead, punching through its armor and destroying it. Flaming wreckage fell down among two squads of Fire Warriors, but none of them were injured.
The Scarabs assaulted the Gun Drones, destroying one but being wounded in return. The Tomb Spyder that just had destroyed the Devilfish assaulted the Commander, wounding him.
The Crisis Suits on the left flank positioned themselves for another round of firing, while the rest of the Tau Hunter Cadre held their positions, ready to fire.
The Crisis Suits killed two Necron Warriors, then backed off. All four Fire Warrior Squads, totaling 37 Pulse Rifles, fired at a Tomb Spyder. Their fire killed the Tomb Spyder’s attendant Scarab swarm, but only managed to wound the Spyder once.
The Gun Drones continued to fight with the Scarabs, but another drone was destroyed, and the rest of the drones fled, eventually leaving the battlefield. The Scarabs consolidated their position, in preparation to assault the Crisis Suits.
The Commander and his bodyguard continued to fight the Tomb Spyder, and the Commander suffered another wound.
Crisis Suits face the Necron advanceOn the Necron right flank one of the Warriors self-repaired. All of the Necron Forces converged on the three Crisis Suits. On the left flank, the Tomb Spyder, Destroyers, and Necron Warriors continued to advance.
The Immortals, having finally decided to join the battle, advanced and fired on a Fire Warrior Squad, killing three of them. The two Heavy Destroyers picked on another Fire Warrior Squad, killing one. The Destroyers finished the job by killing the other eleven Fire Warriors in the Squad.
The Crisis Suits found themselves assaulted by Scarabs, and the Crisis Suits managed to destroy one of the Scarab Bases. A second Tomb Spyder assaulted the Commander and his bodyguard. The Commander destroyed the first Tomb Spyder, then turned to face the second.
The Crisis Suits destroyed another Scarab base, and continued to fight on. The Commander and his bodyguard remained locked in combat with the Tomb Spyder.
One of the Destroyers repaired itself, while the other three phased out. All of the Necrons on that flank advanced.
The Destroyer fired on and killed three Fire Warriors, while the Heavy Destroyers killed another one. The Immortals killed six Fire Warriors with their Gauss Blasters.
The Tau Commander fights off a Tomb SpyderThe Crisis Suits lost a suit to the Scarabs, but they wounded a Scarab Base twice. The Destroyers then assaulted the last survivor of the Fire Warrior Squad, and he was able to hold them at bay, but not kill either of them. The Destroyer Lord and Necron Warriors then surrounded and assaulted the Commander and his bodyguard. The Destroyer Lord killed the bodyguard, then the Commander killed the Tomb Spyder. Finally the five Necron Warriors surrounded and cut down the Commander.
Trusting to their Ethereal, the surviving Fire Warriors retreated, while the two surviving Crisis Suits attempted to disengage, leaving the field to the Necrons.
Total Victory Points
Badelaire: Well, that didn’t go as planned…fortunately! I was amazed at both Darkwing’s horrendous luck with the dice (his bell curve was running at about 40% efficiency), and my army’s ability to slaughter Fire Warriors like nobody’s business. As much as one wants to say that units don’t make the game, tactics do, the 3+ to hit, 2+ to wound, no saves firepower from the Immortals and Destroyers was cripplingly effective against those T3 AS4+ Warriors and Drones. And, even though they missed an awful lot of the time, my two Heavy D’s got in some nice kills – a crisis suit and best of all, that poor Hammerhead, which barely got to kill anything the whole game and easily had the worst luck of any model on the board that day.
On the whole, I think my biggest tactical flaw during the game was being a little too timid with some of my units, especially my Flayed Ones. I think my deployment with them was less than optimal, but then again, with them over on the right flank, they soaked several turns’ worth of firepower that could have been bad news for that right-hand warrior squad. Keeping the Scarabs shielded was also a difficult decision. If I had sent them in early, they would have been badly blasted, but enough of them would have gotten into assault to tie up those Suits for the rest of the game. This would probably have kept more Flayed Ones alive, and let them have the chance to get into Darkwing’s deployment zone. I was also amazingly timid with my Immortals. Sure, there were only five of them, but their firepower is devastating, and they’re less precious than the Destroyers, so even if they had been shot at, it would be firepower that didn’t go after my screening Warrior squad or my Destroyers. Getting them within range on turn 1 or 2 would have probably allowed me to kill his Fire Warriors to a man, and maybe even his Ethereal. As it was, they only got into the fighting on turn 5, a real shame.
I was also way too worried about railgun firepower. Yes, they’ll instant-kill anything I have, but Darkwing only had three Broadsides and a Hammerhead to work with, a maximum of four kills a turn. My biggest worry was that those four kills would be Immortals and Destroyers, models that can’t WBB from that without a Resurrection Orb. I took the Orb because of this, and it was ultimately a waste of 40 points. Besides, with all the screening my Destroyers received, and due to the placement of my Immortals, my losses wouldn’t have been all that severe in the end anyways, and the lack of move-and-shoot firepower on those railguns meant that he’d only get one turn of shooting before I was doing everything in my power to kill them.
As for Darkwing’s game plan, I felt really bad for him because of his terrible luck with the dice. He really should have been killing off a lot more of my models every turn, WBB or not. Not being able to punch an exploitable hole in my screening squad, he was doomed to be ripped apart by the insane firepower of my Destroyer squad, and once the Spyders got into assault with the HQ crisis suits and the Scarabs hit the suits on my right flank, it was a done game. Given better luck with the dice, this game would have been much closer, since I was expecting to take very severe casualties and hoped to win the game more or less purely on deployment zone Victory Points.
So overall, it was a good game. In fact, it was nowhere near as close as it really should have been if the dice had been playing fair that day. I can’t wait for the next round of carnage…
Darkwing: My mistakes were many, and my abysmal dice rolling did certainly not help my situation. Normally I hate blaming dice rolling, because there’s nothing you can do about it, but this time it was really horrible. I don’t think I’ve ever rolled so many 1’s. Here’s an example:
|Tau Fire at Necron Warriors|
|Statistical Average||Actual Kills|
After the battle Badelaire and I figured out that with the sheer weight of firepower I was dumping on his various Necrons, I should have wiped out more than one unit of them several times over.
Ok, enough whining, now to my analysis of the battle.
At deployment, I was pleasantly surprised that Badelaire decided to have his Flayed Ones infiltrate rather than Deep Strike, as I was afraid he’d Deep Strike and chew up my line from behind. My left flank was very weak on deployment, but I figured I’d just leave that side to Badelaire and concentrate on my right flank.
My right flank was very strong, with all my Fire Warriors, my Commander Crisis Team, Pathfinders, Stealth Suits, and Hammerhead. I saw a nice big target ahead in the form of the Necron Warriors and the Destroyers. My plan was to pour the legendary Tau firepower into those Warriors and Destroyers, tearing them to pieces, then advance through the wreckage and into his deployment zone. That way I would kill enough Necrons to make a big dent in his army, and get some units into the deployment zone to achieve my objective and clinch the battle. I had a sledgehammer, and I was going to smash the door down and march through it to victory.
So what went wrong?
The door turned out to be as thick as a bank vault’s.
My placement of two units of Fire Warriors kept them from shooting for a while, but they were able to march forward, so that wasn’t too big of a mistake.
My Stealth Suits got boxed in, between trying to get into range and avoid the approaching Tomb Spyder. I ended up erring on the side of them getting charged, and it cost me the whole unit.
I was too fixated on the Pathfinders being Forward Scouts that I neglected the 36” range of the Rail Rifles and markerlights, and therefore I signed their death warrants as they became a juicy target right in front of the Necrons.
I did well in concentrating my firepower, but that Necron Warrior unit holding Badelaire’s left flank simply would not die. I kept failing my to wound rolls, despite many of them being 2+, and when I didn’t he kept making his saves. The Necron Warrior unit was screening his destroyers, but there were a few times when I had felled enough Necrons to make a hole to see a Destroyer lurking behind. Considering the amount of killing his Destroyers were doing, perhaps I should have taken my chances and shot at them every chance I got.
Speaking of Destroyers, there were a few opportunities for me to shoot at his Heavy Destroyers with my Hammerhead, and I should have probably picked them off with my Ion Cannon. Instead, I opted for being able to kill more than one thing with one round of firing. In the end, the dice rolling was so bad I didn’t do much killing at all, and I lost the Hammerhead to the Heavy Destroyers.
I also made the mistake of having my Devilfish land, and then not take off again as the Tomb Spyder approached. It being a skimmer, Badelaire would have needed a 6 to hit it, and that would probably have saved the vehicle for me.
Those were definitely my primary mistakes. In terms of army selection, my mistakes were as follows: I probably should not have given my Fire Warriors Photon Grenades, as doing so cost me points and in the end, only a single Fire Warrior came under attack. My Crisis Suits—mainly my Commander’s Bodyguard, could have had more heavy firepower, for example Plasma Rifles rather than Missile Pods.
My Pathfinders did well, considering they only lasted two turns. My Ethereal also did well—more than once his presence prevented a squad from departing the field in short order. But in the end he prevented a bloody rout and turned it into a last stand.
This time I got a harsh lesson in the staying power of the Necrons. Next time I’ll be better prepared.