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Sunday, 4 December 2016

Battle Report: Imperial Knights vs. Tau Empire


Alright, you've seen my 1500 pts Imperial Knights list, now it's time for some battle reports. The first round of the tournament saw me matched up against Tau in a progressive-scoring missions with predetermined pseudo-Maelstrom Objectives.

Round One: Maelstrom-ish Objectives vs. Tau

My opponent ran a Hunter Contingent Detachment something like this:
Shadowsun
Commander with Puretide Chip
Two Bodyguards with dual Plasma plus one with Command and Control Node
Two Fire Warrior squads
Two Kroot squads
Three solo Crisis Suits with dual Cyclic Ion
Marker Drone squad
Longstrike in Hammerhead
Firebase Support Cadre with two solo Broadsides

Plenty enough firepower to deal with triple Knights! Seeing all those guns arrayed against me, I wondered if perhaps a Baronial Court Formation for 3++ Ion Shield would have been a better option...

My opponent won the roll to deploy and go first, and deployed symmetrically with the Riptide central, Broadsides on the far flanks, the Commander with Drones on his left and Shadowsun with Bodyguards on his right. The three single Crisis Suits were held in Deep Strike Reserve.

I kept my Company Command Squad in Reserve, deployed the Veteran Squad (in Taurox) to hold one of the Objectives in my zone (for a turn one Maelstrom point) and my three Knights clustered on my right flank. My strategy was to 'herd' the Tau into a corner with my Knights to gain board control and win on Maelstrom points through all the attrition I would inevitably suffer.


As expected, the Tau immediately started collapsing towards the corner furthest from the Knights, ceding board control as I had hoped; however, Shadowsun and friends started pushing into the centre. The first turn of Tau shooting took my Acheron down to 3 HP, which according to some obscure tournament rule hidden in the players pack supposedly counted as destroying a unit, getting the Tau their Maelstrom point for the turn... I'm really not a fan of made-up rules in tournaments!


My Knights all advanced to pressure the Tau. My Lancer killed the lone Broadside on my right flank and the Castigator killed the Fire Warrior screen. The Acheron flamed away at the Kroot... and in an impressive flurry of 1s, only killed a pair.


Two solo Crisis suits dropped in behind my damaged Acheron, and Shadowsun moved up in its front arc. The Commander with Drones, Riptide and Longstrike continued collapsing towards their corner. With threats in multiple arcs, I chose to shield my Acheron's rear against the bucket-loads of S7 dice from the Crisis Suits, hoping its higher front AV and terrain obscuration would save it from Shadowsun (she was out of melta-range). Unfortunately—but not unexpectedly—the Acheron went down in the ensuing crossfire.


The Company Command Squad arrived from Reserve, and I decided to gamble them against Shadowsun's squad; Stealth and Shrouded don't mean anything against Ignores Cover! Alas, it turned out that this squad had Feel No Pain and so my flurry of plasma only killed the buff-Suit.

I had to claim an Objective in my opponent's zone this turn, so my remaining two Knights continued their advance—and I realised my critical error in deployment. The short-ranged Lancer was now furthest from the enemy, when it would have been much better had it been in the Castigator's position. I really should have deployed my Lancer between the other two Knights, and I suspected that being conservative with my Warlord was going to cost me.


The Castigator charged and unsurprisingly annihilated the Kroot; however, the key disadvantage of the Forge World Knight variants was made very apparent as their lack of secondary weapons (like the Heavy Stubbers on all codex variants) meant that I had to forego shooting its primary weapon so as not to put myself out of charge range of the Kroot.


The final solo Crisis Suit arrived on turn three, and it dropped in behind my Castigator. The Tau army continued withdrawing from the Knights, blazing away as they went and taking HP from the Castigator through its forward Ion Shield—I swear I rolled nothing but 3s this game, just to emphasise the consequence of choosing Objective Secured over the Baronial Court buffs!


Of course, it was the hot rolls of the solo Crisis Suit that had just dropped behind the Castigator that stole its last 3 HP. Incidental fire from other Tau killed the dismounted Command Squad and knocked the Veterans out of their Taurox.


I moved my empty Taurox onto an Objective to force the Tau to deal with it, and my dismounted Veterans likewise moved into range of another Objective. I positioned the meltaguns to take a crack at Shadowsun's squad, but her cover-in-the-open prevailed and I regretted not simply ganking one of the solo Crisis Suits. The short-ranged Lancer, now in a horrible position, started running in towards the action; but at this point I was just making my opponent work for their win, I knew my chances were slim-to-none!


The Tau predictably had little trouble mopping up the Astra and claiming all the requisite Objectives to keep their Maelstrom total ticking up, while I was unable to score points with only the Lancer left. It charged gloriously into the Tau lines and lasted another couple of turns before it too was destroyed.

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, a high-firepower army capable of killing Knights did just that. At least this game was quick and brutal, and lots of fun!

In hindsight I think I should have strung my Knights out along my deployment zone and just aimed to get into close combat as soon as possible, rather than playing the board-control game. I recognise this as applying Astra+Knights tactics to a Knights+Astra list, and the deficiency of this approach is self-evident. Knights work best when you just go for the throat!

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