Monday, April 7, 2008

Battle Report: Necrons vs. Tau Recon

Scenario: Recon
Necron Forces: Badelaire
Tau Forces: Darkwing

The Scenario
For this battle, the scenario was determined randomly at the time of the battle, and after both players had made their army lists. The random scenario was determined to be Recon.

Necron Briefing
Badelaire: Well, another chance to break out The Deep Blue Terror. And better yet, against their old adversary, the Tau. The first three "big" battle reports Darkwing and I did were a three-battle engagement between my Necrons and his Tau, and it was fitting that after a long batrep hiatus, we'd re-baptize his battlefield with more carnage between the two races. Darkwing and I agreed on 1500 point lists and random mission generation.

Remembering what's worked in the past, and what hasn't, I decided to design my force a little differently. Tomb Spyders are a lot of fun in certain situations, but I needed to trim the fat on this list a little, so they got cut, as did the heavy destroyers. I knew Darkwing only had a couple of tanks, so I didn't need the punch of the Heavy Gauss Cannons that much. Beyond that, I wanted a full unit of Flayed Ones - I wanted their assault power, but decided to just take one big unit rather than two smaller units. I went with all my Immortals, since they've never failed to do well, and of course my Destroyers, because their mobile massive firepower is priceless. I took two units of scarabs because I wanted to be able to at least threaten an assault with them, and I also wanted a number of units who could turbo-boost. With that in mind I also took a Destroyer Lord, kitted out with a Phase Shifter (in case of nasty AP 2 shooting) Warscythe (to take down field generators), and the Gaze of Flame (to lower the Tau's already not-so-hot Ld in assault and help get wipeouts). And, of course, the warriors - I decided to take one minimum squad of 10 and a maxed squad of 20 instead of two medium-sized units, since that way I could take one and "throw it to the wolves", while the smaller unit could hang back and claim objectives, or table quarters, or whatnot.

Tactics-wise - who knows? I had my assault units, but they usually just threatened Darkwing, rarely getting into assault before being shot up. I had my big blocks of hard to kill infantry, and my speedy units to get in quick (or at all, if there's Escalation). Only time will tell how things work out.

Tau Briefing
Darkwing: We decided on doing this battle almost at the last minute, and beyond that, I waited until almost the last minute to make my army list. I’ve been wanting to try out my new Tetra and the new Shas’o R’Myr models that I have, so I included them as a matter of course. From there I started choosing the rest of the force. Two units of Fire Warriors were compulsory, and I made them Bonded and gave them Photon Grenades. They certainly wouldn’t survive any close combat with the inevitable Flayed Ones or Scarabs that Badelaire was sure to get, but the grenades might help them last a little longer. I bought two Crisis suit teams, one team of three with a standard loadout of Missile Pods, Plasma Rifles, and Multitrackers, and the other a more anti-necron force of two suits with Twin-linked Fusion Blasters and drone controllers carrying two gun drones apiece. A unit of four Pathfinders (with three rail rifles) and eight Gun Drones rounded out my Fast Attack choices. I purchased a unit of Stealth Suits for their harassment capabilities, and a Hammerhead with an Ion Cannon for Heavy Support. The force wasn’t the best anti-Necron force in existence, but a commander must work with what he has, not with what he wants (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

The Forces
Necron Forces Points
Necron Lord with Destroyer Body185
Immortals (8)224
Flayed Ones (10)180
Warriors (20) 360
Warriors (10)180
Scarabs (5)60
Destroyers (5) 250
Scarabs (5)60
Total Points:1499
Tau Forces Points
Shas'o R'Myr (w/ 2 Shield Drones) 190
Crisis Battlesuit Team 1 (3) 205
Crisis Battlesuit Team 2 (2)146
Fire Warrior Team 1 (11) 131
Fire Warrior Team 2 (11) 131
Pathfinders (4) 168
Gun Drones (8) 96
Tetra 55
Stealth Suit Team (6) 190
Hammerhead Gunship 185
Total Points:1497
Turn 1
The two Fire Warrior teams deployed on a hill in the center (Team 2) and among some rocks on their left flank (Team 1), while their Necrons adversaries formed up in two large blocks opposite them, a light unit of Necron Warriors on the Necron right, while a smaller unit of Warriors took up the center of the battlefield, their unit mingled with a unit of Immortals. The Tau Devilfish had moved ahead just before deployment and disembarked the pathfinders, which took up positions on a low rise, sighting a unit of Flayed Ones, who had infiltrated forward, taking up a position on the reverse slope of a large hill in front of the Fire Warriors Team 2.

Necron Warriors and Immortals advance
The Pathfinders’ rail rifles opened up on the Flayed Ones, downing two of them, and amazingly the Flayed Ones were pinned by the fusillade, taking cover rather than advancing implacably! The last Pathfinder used his markerlight to designate the Flayed Ones. Fire Warrior Team 1 then opened up on the newly designated Flayed Ones, firing seven shots, but none of the Flayed Ones were felled.

Both of the dropped Flayed Ones got right back up, and the rest of the Necrons slowly advanced, their weapons still out of range.

Turn 2

The Hammerhead Gunship arrived, skimming onto the field behind Fire Warrior Team 2. Crisis Suit Team 1 also arrived, backing up Fire Warrior Team 1. With their enemies now clearly in range, the Tau prepared to unleash a firestorm of hell upon their Necron foes. Unfortunately the firestorm turned out to be more of a fizzle. The Pathfinders fired again on the Flayed Ones, but their markerlight and their three rail rifles all missed. Fire Warrior Team 2 fired on the small unit of Necron Warriors, but all missed. Fire Warrior Team 1 was more accurate, scoring three hits out of eleven shots on the large Necron Warrior unit, but none of those hits were sufficient to fell any of them. Crisis Suit Team 1 finally managed to drop one of the Warriors with their Missile Pods. The Hammerhead was the biggest success, killing a single Flayed One with its Smart Missile System, and one of the Necron Warriors in the large unit with its Ion Cannon.

The Flayed One and one of the Warriors promptly repaired themselves and rejoined the fight. The Necron Destroyer arrived on the scene, moving on the Necron left flank, heading towards the now vulnerably exposed Pathfinders. Several Scarab swarms arrived as well, taking cover in some trees. The rest of the Necrons advanced straight ahead, except for the Immortals, who moved towards the Pathfinders.

The Destroyers opened fire on the Devilfish, which didn’t stand a chance, as Gauss Cannon shots tore the vehicle apart, sending it crashing to the ground. The Immortals also wasted not a shot, their Gauss blasters wiping out the Pathfinders handily.

Turn 3
The Tau Tetra arrived, as did the Gun Drones and Stealth Suits. The Tetra moved up to the left of Fire Warrior Team 1, to give it fire support against the large unit of Necron Warriors. The Stealth Suit team and the Gun Drones moved up behind Fire Warrior Team 2, to give it support against the all too close Flayed Ones.

Fire Warrior Team 1 opened up on the large Necron Warrior unit, killing one of them. The Tetra’s markerlight designated the unit for Crisis Suit Team 1, which opened fire with all their weapons. The missile pods were ineffective, but the pulse rifles managed to fell two of the Necrons.
The Flayed Ones prepare to assault the Fire Warriors
If they weren’t stopped now, the Flayed Ones were going to play havoc with the Tau lines, so the rest of the Tau force opened up with everything they had. The Stealth Team dropped two of the Flayed Ones with their burst cannon. Fire Warrior Team 2 opened up at close range, while the Gun Drones fired with their pulse carbines, but between the two of them, they did absolutely nothing. The Hammerhead did better, killing two each with its Smart Missile System and its Ion Cannon.

Three of six of the Flayed Ones repaired themselves, while two of the three downed Necron Warriors did the same. The Destroyers quickly advanced on the left flank. The large unit of Necron Warriors halted and unleashed their Gauss Flayers on the Fire Warrior Team 1. The shots ripped the unit to pieces, killing seven of the Fire Warriors, who promptly fell back. The Immortals opened fire on the Hammerhead, and casually punched it full of holes, destroying it easily. The Flayed Ones then tore into Fire Warrior Team 2, who desperately set off their photon grenades. It helped, but only a little, as the Flayed Ones killed four of the Tau, suffering a single casualty in return. The Fire Warriors resolved to sacrifice themselves for the Greater Good, and continued to fight on in the face of terrible odds.

Turn 4

The anchor of the Tau left flank was in shambles, and the Tau right flank was in the process of being torn apart—the Tau desperately needed reinforcements to swing the battle back in their favor. Help was to arrive with Shas’o R’Myr and Crisis Suit Team 2, targeting their landing point directly in front of the large Necron Warrior unit that had just crippled Fire Warrior Team 1. They planned on landing at close range to the Necrons so that they could unleash their weapons at close range. But, as luck would have it, both units scattered backwards, directly away from the Necrons, and out of range of the Crisis Team’s weapons. An Ethereal watching the battle unfold on a monitor safely away from the battle rested his head in his hands. Would anything go right for the Tau on this day? He watched as Shas’o R’Myr aimed his double-barreled plasma rifle at the Necrons. Even though he landed off target, surely the Tau commander would begin to kill some Necrons. It was not to be, as the Shas’o missed with both shots, despite his highly refined marksmanship skills. The Tetra tried to shoot at the unit with its markerlight and twin-linked pulse rifle, but missed with all of its shots. Crisis Suit Team 2’s gun drones fired at them, and amazingly they killed two of the warriors. Crisis Suit Team 1 then fired, and actually did a respectable amount of damage, dropping three of the Necron Warriors.

The Flayed Ones ripped apart a pair of Fire Warriors in close combat, who then broke and were massacred by the Flayed Ones. The Gun Drones and Stealth Suits had moved away at top speed from the Flayed Ones, sensing their imminent victory, but the momentum the Flayed Ones gained by killing the Fire Warriors would ensure that both units were now doomed.

The Necrons continue their implacable advance
Three of the five Necron Warriors stood back up, as did the Flayed One who had been dropped in close combat. The Necron Lord arrived, late, and probably unnecessarily, to the field. With him came the second swarm of Scarabs. The large unit of Necron Warriors and the Immortals opened fire on Crisis Suit Team 2, exposed and in the open, out of range of their own guns. The barrage destroyed all four drones and one of the suits, and wounded the other. The Destroyers, at the extreme of their range, tried to finish the last suit off but the suit’s armor protected it from the shot.

The Flayed Ones plowed with preternatural speed into both the Stealth Suits and Gun Drones, killing one of each. The Gun Drones did nothing in return, but the Stealth Suits fought hard and dropped two of the Flayed Ones. The fight was a draw, and continued on.

Turn 5

The options of the Tau were becoming severely limited. Their right flank was all but overrun, and their left was still blocked by a huge and unmoving unit of Necron Warriors. The Necron Lord had just arrived to support them, and the rest of the Necron units were rapidly converging. The Tau did all that they could—they tried to punch a hole through the Necron Warriors.

The Tetra designated the Warriors, allowing Crisis Suit Team 1 to kill no less than four Necrons. Shas’o R’Myr took down two more, while the lone Fusion Blaster armed Crisis Suit killed one more. The remnants of Fire Warrior Team 1 had regrouped, and charged in to help out the beleaguered Stealth Suits and Gun Drones. It didn’t do them any good, as the Flayed Ones killed one Stealth Suit, two Gun Drones, and two Fire Warriors. The Fire Warriors fled while the rest of the fight continued on.

The Flayed Ones assault the Stealth Suits and Gun Drones
Amazingly, none of the killed Necrons managed to repair themselves, but the Necrons ignored the damage and continued forward. The Necron Warriors fired on the Tetra and blew it to smithereens. The Destroyers easily took out the lone Crisis Suit, while the Immortals fired on Crisis Suit Team 1, wounding one of them.

A Scarab Swarm assaulted the Gun Drones who were already getting slaughtered by the Flayed Ones, and wiped them out. The Flayed Ones killed another Stealth Suit, and the survivors were wiped out as they turned to flee.

The Necron Lord assaulted Crisis Suit Team 1, but surprisingly failed to hit any of them. They retaliated, but the Lord’s armor protected him from any damage.

Turn 6
The last two Fire Warriors fled off the table, leaving only four Crisis Suits as the remainder of the Tau force on the field. Completely surrounded, they were determined to sell their lives dearly. Shas’o R’Myr assaulted the Necron Lord, only to be wounded twice by the Necron’s Warscythe, and failed to damage him in return. The Crisis Suits did better, wounding the Lord twice.

The large unit of Necron Warriors assaulted Shas’o R’Myr, while the Scarabs assaulted Crisis Suit Team 1. The other unit of Necron Warriors and the Destroyed merely advanced into Tau territory, claiming the ground.

The Tau Commander and Crisis Suits face off against the Necron Lord and his minions
Shas’o R’Myr steeled himself for the Lord’s attack, and successfully managed to fend off the hits—but in doing so he failed to hit the Lord in return. The Necron Warriors attacked R’Myr, but delivering no less than four wounds, but the Commander’s armor protected him from all four. The Scarabs attacked the Crisis Suit Team, but failed to break through their armor, while the Crisis Suits attacked the Necron Lord. After the Lord fended off one close range attack, a Crisis Suit took careful aim at the Necron Lord’s head with his plasma rifle, and vaporized it at point blank range.

The Lord was dead, but the Necrons decisively held the field. The Crisis Suits, seeing an opening, dashed to escape to fight another day.

Necron Debriefing
Badelaire: That victory was almost embarrassing. If Darkwing's luck hadn't been so bad I might still have won, but it would at least have been a much closer game than what occurred. Darkwing mentions in his debriefing my theory about his luck - and I think it's true. Armies that rely on a few really good guns suffer far more from a bit of bad luck than armies that rely on massed fire to do the job for them. My Necron list especially relies on a lot of maxed or near-maxed units putting out as many shots / attacks as possible on a unit.

And as to the Escalation rules, I also agree with Darkwing. Nine times out of ten, the units which'll be starting off the table would be, logically, the first ones into the fight - assault marines, stealth suit Tau, Ork Trukk boyz, Necron Scarabs - most armies fast attack choices are geared to be scouting and quick-strike elements, and these shouldn't be showing up three or four turns into the fight lagging behind the rest of the army. The only reason it didn't bite me in the butt so badly is that the units I had off-board were all capable of 24" turbo-boosts. Darkwing had the advantage of deep-striking units, but at that point in the game, when your enemy is in the middle of the board, landing almost anywhere puts you right under the cross-hairs. In the future, I think we'll be sticking to Gamma-level battles.

Tau Debriefing
Darkwing: Well, that was a disaster. My dice rolling was par for the course, in other words, horrible. I can’t always blame the dice for my failures, but it’s becoming more and more common for them to fail me. Just after my Commander and Crisis Suit Team 2 scattered backwards, I thought it couldn’t get worse, and then I rolled a snake-eyes on Shas’o R’Myr’s attack…

Badelaire mentioned after the battle that the Orks and Necrons (and to some extent the Imperial Guard) have an advantage of rolling a lot of dice. And when you roll a lot of dice, the averages are more likely to manifest themselves. When I roll only a few dice, I seem to remain pegged at the “failure” end of the scale.

Just before the battle I picked up the Codex: Tau Empire, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the new rules for markerlights. Unfortunately I made my army list before I noted the difference. The new markerlights are much better than their predecessors, and I think I’ll be taking more of them in the future. There are also other troops I’d like to try out, like sniper drones, Commander Shadowsun, and the new Crisis Suit weapons.

I really am beginning to dislike the Escalation special rule for Omega missions, as I think it gives a tremendous advantage to armies that have powerful, or large numbers of “basic infantry”, for example Necrons or Space Marines. The majority of my Tau Army started off the table, and having them take so long to arrive limited their effectiveness. Many units in 40k only earn their points value back if they’re present for a large proportion of the battle—not when they show up late and piecemeal, lucky to get off one shot or two in the entire battle.

The only way to defeat Necrons is concentration of force—you have to pound one unit at a time so hard that they just won’t get back up. You have to do that by isolating them so they can’t benefit from other nearby units, and you have to hit them with everything you got. Only then can you move on. When the large majority of my army is off the table, it’s extremely hard to do anything like that—you take the shots where you can, and those shots are always woefully insufficient.

In the end, Shas’o R’Myr and Crisis Suit Team 1 survived, so they’ll be planning the next attack on the Necron hordes, using this fight as valuable experience…

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