Batrep: Hive Fleet Proteus vs. Tau (2000pts)

With the demise of the local gaming location (the one where we used to play at a local elementary school on Friday evenings), I’ve taken to playing in my garage on a fairly regular basis (well, at least on Fridays).  It’s lasted three weeks now, so we’ll see how long it holds up, but so far, it seems to be well received.

Anywho, in previous weeks, attendance seems to be about three people strong, and that’s nice because things don’t get cramped or hectic—not to mention it’s a whole lot cheaper  to feed three guys than it is to feed a room full.  Last night was an exception.  I threw a bigger version of the shindig in celebration of sending our youngest gamer off to college.  As an added bonus, Derek managed to show up (who hasn’t played a game since April 2nd, 2012) along with Falon and his friend Brian (neither of which play very often either).  Add in Cole, Brandon, & Jeff and you’ve got an instantly full garage.

Three tables fit in the garage without feeling too tight, but I wouldn’t want to try to fit more than that—or even try to do three on a regular basis.

Both Derek and Falon tried to show up with no armies in the hopes of passing it off as an “I’ll just watch” sort of event.  I don’t stand for that—especially with so many armies sitting around waiting to be ebayed, so I thrusted a Space Wolf codex into Derek’s hands and an Ork codex into Brian’s (Falon opted to ref their game) and set them at each other.  I had made up a Tyranid list, so my available opponents were Cole (GK), Jeff (Tau), and Brandon (CSM).  I immediately dismissed Cole as an option because his army terrifies me (seriously, did every model in the codex really have to have a force sword?!?!), and since it was likely to be Jeff’s last game in Alaska, I threw down the gauntlet against the new Tau codex.

Hive Fleet Proteus:

  • wh39k-TyrTau2013 (1)HQ:
    • Swarmlord (Biomancy: Iron Arm, Enfeeble, Endurance, Hemorrhage)
    • 1x Tyrant Guard w/ lashwhip
    • Tyranid Prime w/ Lashwhip/bonesword, Devourer & Regen
  • Troops:
    • Tervigon w/ Cluster Spines, Toxin Sacs, Scything Talons, & Catalyst
    • Tervigon w/ Cluster Spines, Toxin Sacs, Scything Talons, & Catalyst
    • 10x Termagaunts
    • 11x Termagaunts
    • 5x Genestealers inc. Broodlord w/ Scything Talons (Biomancy: Quickening)
    • 5x Genestealers inc. Broodlord w/ Scything Talons (Biomancy: Quickening)
  • Fast Attack:
    • 20x Gargoyles
    • 6x Raveners w/ Rending Claws
  • Heavy Support:
    • 2x Carnifex w/ 2x Brainleech Worms
    • 1x Biovore
    • 1x Biovore

In retrospect, this is a pretty unique list for me.  As usual, I just started throwing things into the list, and wound up throwing in Carnies to try them out again (despite not doing so well last time).  I didn’t include the Doom (because I don’t want to be that guy that *always* takes a particular unit.  I didn’t notice until now that I didn’t take a single Elites choice in my entire force (who does that!?).   It’s also light on synapse (at least for one of my forces), since I didn’t take any elites or Trygons.

When I saw my end result list, it seemed pretty “standard” to me, but in retrospect, I’d say I do a reasonable job of mixing up units.

Jeff’s Battlesuit-based Battleforce:

  • wh39k-TyrTau2013 (2)HQ:
    • Commander w/ Plasma/missile & Marker Drones
    • 2x Battlesuit bodyguards w/ Plasma/missile
  • Elites:
    • 3x Crisis suits w/ 2x Missile Pods & 3x Gun Drones
    • 3x Crisis suits w/ 2x Missile Pods & 3x Gun Drones
    • 3x Crisis suits w/ 2x Plasma & 3x Gun Drones
  • Troops:
    • 10x Kroot
    • 10x Kroot
    • 6x Fire Warriors in Devilfish with SMS & DP (Whatever that means)
    • 6x Fire Warriors in Devilfish with SMS & DP (Whatever that means)
  • Fast Attack:
    • 4x Pathfinders w/ Markerlights
    • 4x Pathfinders w/ Markerlights
    • 5x gundrones
  • Heavy Support:
    • 3x Broadsides w/ 2x Missiles, drones, Interceptor
    • Hammerhead w/ Railgun, SMS & Dpod
    • Hammerhead w/ Ion Cannon, SMS & Dpod

So, I don’t know that much about Tau—having been some time since playing them.  I’ve also never read the codex, or even read blog posts about it.  I asked Jeff to give me the low down about what I needed to be concerned about, and he gave me a fair read of the army.  Nothing on it’s own seemed too terribly frightening (though I drastically underestimated the sheer weight of fire each unit of suits was able to bring to the table).

In total, he had a LOT of high strength weaponry that could be fired at range and not worry about overheating.  Plus he had the ability to jump/shoot/jump which meant that chasing him down was going to be tricky.

Mission & Deployment:

We were a little lax with how this rolled out.  We basically decided with a few dice rolls and off-the-cuff decisions what the game was going to be.  Three objectives, long table edges, I was to go first.  Jeff deployed two of the objectives: one on either flank, and I deployed one in the middle of the massive ruin.  I’m not sure any of the three were deployed in either of our deployment zones.

But that’s one of the great things about Jeff, playing with him is all about enjoying the game.  You don’t have to worry about him power-gaming things.  If something seems fair, he’s typically game to try it.

wh39k-TyrTau2013 (3)I deployed on the right flank, choosing to essentially ignore one of the objectives entirely.  The point here was that I could win based upon two objectives myself, and focusing on the two I did was going to give me more cover throughout the game—something I figured would be helpful against Tau.  With all of my models on the board, Jeff deployed in a similar fashion: heavy on the flank where my models were, but he left two units of Kroot in reserve (outflanking), plus his Warlord (who rolled up the trait where he didn’t scatter).  The exception for him was that he placed a devilfish with warriors on the remote objective, essentially guaranteeing him one objective at the end of the game.

We both had infiltrators, so I deployed mine first.  There wasn’t much to do with them, so I just pushed them forward to give him a pressure unit to worry about (both ‘stealer squads).  His infiltrators were his markerlights that deployed up on high vantage points in the massive ruin.

With him failing to seize initiative, I took the first turn (though we never bothered to roll night fight—not that it would’ve mattered really…)

Turn 1: Tyranids

wh39k-TyrTau2013 (4)This proved to be a really uneventful turn.  I threw up FNP on the gargoyles, Endurance & Iron Arm on the Swarmlord (+1T), and another FNP on a Tervigon and surged forward with everything.  What units I could, I tried to keep in cover, but everything else came up behind them.  The only shots fired were my two biovores, one of which could see some pathfinders and managed to kill a couple, while the others’ shot veered harmlessly into no-man’s land.

While the one successful shot wasn’t enough to wipe the pathfinder squad, it was enough to force a break test (which they failed).  Without a ladder to get down from such a high perch, they had to make some dangerous terrain tests while falling back, but still, one of them survived, leaving me feeling empty without my First Blood point…

Turn 1: Tau

Not to disappoint, the little Tau pathfinders fail to miraculously rally, and then rolled something akin to box cars—which was enough to take them off the board and give me First Blood during Jeff’s turn.  It was a great start to a turn that wouldn’t end well for me.

wh39k-TyrTau2013 (5)Jeff bounced a unit of suits into the ruin and opened fire on my nearby genestealers.  Smartly, I had positioned the broodlord in the back, so he wouldn’t take the brunt of the T4 wounds.  Sadly though, Jeff managed to pour a couple of squads into them, and did seven wounds to them.  No biggie, right?  All I need to make is a single cover save, and my Broodlord would get a chance to charge next turn!

Of course, I failed all seven.

Across the board, in small copse of trees, the other squad of genestealers died in an almost identical situation.  Everything else Jeff had opened up on the 20man squad of gargoyles, and managed to kill off 18 of them.  Yet another game where they don’t “do anything,” though I’m always proud of their ability to take fire off of the rest of my army.  For a 120 point screen, they do quite well, but one day I’d love to see them actually hit the enemy line.

By the end of the turn, I’d lost two squads of ‘stealers, essentially a squad of gargoyles, and (due to broadsides) the bodyguard for my Swarmlord.

That’s about 400 points of models.  While not completely crippling, it was disheartening to say the least.

Turn 2: Tyranids

wh39k-TyrTau2013 (6)I started out throwing up psychic defense, and failing miserably.  One Tervigon failed her Endurance roll, and the Swarmlord flunked Iron Arm badly enough to take an unsaved wound due to perils.  To compensate, the Carnifex brood moved ahead to defend the Swarmy.

At this point, my entire army sort of jinked out of the way, after watching Jeff’s jump/shoot/jump strategy.  While I would’ve been in charge range with several of my units vs. most any other army, his ability to jump away after shooting caused me to have to rethink my strategy.  Instead of charging directly at him, I tried to split my forces in order to corral him in.  This forced him into a corner, but at the expense of some of my units…

The raveners, however, did manage to hit his lines.  I multi-assaulted the hammerheads, and did 2x penetrating hits to the one with the Ion gun, and zero to the other.  Yay for craptastic rolls, eh?   If only rending gave +1 on the chart still…

The biovores rained terror down and killed a couple of drones attached to the Broadsides, but they really didn’t do too much for the rest of the game.  The only models I managed to kill really were some board termagants fired into a marker light squadron and downed four pathfinders.

Turn 2: Tau

Jeff figured that he could take out either the Carnifex squadron or the Swarmlord if he wanted to this turn (which I doubted—but ultimately shouldn’t have).  He chose the ‘fexes, and did manage to punk both of the big models.  The Alpha Warrior was left standing behind them (though he ultimately should’ve been in front.. DOH!).

The only reserves he got was a single squad of Kroot.  Between them, the Hammerhead, and a devilfish, that was enough to almost completely eradicate a squad of Raveners though (leaving one and a half standing).

Turn 3: Tyranids

wh39k-TyrTau2013 (7)Running low on models, I had both Tervs make baby squadrons, rolling 10 and 17, and breaking both hatchers for the rest of the game.  I was able to throw up all of my psychic powers though (+2T on Iron Arm again…), and was in charge range with much of my army.  Sadly though, the Swarmlord wasn’t within striking range.

I did manage a series of elaborate charges which resulted in surprisingly few of my models dying to overwatch (it’s amazing just how many twin-linked weapons Tau have), and finally saw combat.  As was always the case, the Tau died quickly in assault, and ultimately broke and ran.  I only caught one of the squads, but the other would make it off the table before firing another shot.

Turn 3: Tau

wh39k-TyrTau2013 (8)Jeff rolled abysmally for his reserves, getting neither unit again this turn.  What he was able to do was focus fire with every unit in his army against the nearby units.  First, he punked the Raveners/Prime, then most of the Termagants (leaving 2 behind) and then poured everything else into the Tervigon.  I was impressed at how much damage she soaked up (despite my horrendous dice rolls).  As was a common theme throughout this game, she failed precisely enough saves to take her out on the last batch of wounds she received.

At this point, I was down to a swarmlord, 2.1 units of termagants, and a Tervigon with a broken vagina.  It was also around this time when Jeff remembered that we were playing Objectives and not kill points (drat).  Though I was being fairly well massacred, I was ok with how things were sitting because I’d already earned First Blood, and were were almost guaranteed to split two of the objectives—but I was in better position for the third.

Turn 4: Tyranids

wh39k-TyrTau2013 (9)I managed to throw up both Iron Arm and Endurance on the Swarmlord (who still had never managed to heal the one wound he’d taken earlier), but sadly Iron Arm was still only +1T.  I failed some more charges and threw some ineffective shooting around the board.  One area where I managed to do some wounds was with the biovores (who were out of synapse, but still happily firing at desirable targets).  One shot landed smack dab on a unit of Kroot (attempting to take out his scoring units), and killed 7/10.  Unfortunately, they made both their pinning and break tests—which they would do next turn as well, when I whittled them down to a single model.

Again, the swarmlord failed his charge was left pulling his tallywacker in front of a massive line of Tau guns…

Turn 4: Tau

Sensing the frailty of my supposedly-uber unit, Jeff’s command squad teleported down and opened up on the Swarmlord.  Between them and two other Tau units, they did relatively poorly at scoring wounds, but that’s ok, because I was managing to fail about 85% of my saves and FNP.  By the end of that turn, the Swarmlord too was a crater.  Meanwhile, Jeff’s troops pushed towards the third objective, armed with “Slay the Warlord” to tie up the secondary objectives.

It was about this time that we also realized that the injured hammerhead was really destroyed.  I can’t recall how this was the case (perhaps it had failed a difficult terrain test earlier?).  Still, it had somehow taken a hull point, which would’ve wrecked it during turn 2/3.  I couldn’t recall what exactly the tank had done since then, so we called it a wash.  This was great because it gave me an excuse if I were to lose: Jeff cheated!

Turn 5: Tyranids

wh39k-TyrTau2013 (10)There wasn’t much I could do at that point.  I had to hope for some good run distances and some lucky saves in order to stretch over to contest/hold that third objective—but those just didn’t come.  I had enough units that I might’ve been able to snag a point of line-breaker, but keeping them alive through one of Jeff’s shooting phases wasn’t terribly likely.  Not that it mattered anyway, because Jeff was going to win on objectives either way.

So, at this point we called it (jeff confirmed with a die roll that it would’ve ended on 5 anyway).  There was a REALLY remote chance that I might pull of a tie if it was to end on turn 6 and Jeff forgot how to roll dice, but that was absurdly remote.


So, my winning streak for 6th edition has finally come to an end.  My official record at this point is 10-1-1 (excluding Apocalypse games, of which, the one I play with officially ended in a win, but I prefer to call it a tie).  I’m glad that the loss came to Jeff, because he’s a guy not historically known for pulling a lot of wins.  Jeff plays with reasonably sound strategy and an underpowered codex (or at least it used to be).

After the game, I attributed much of the loss to poor dice rolls.  Jeff backed me up that many of my rolls were simply atrocious.  In hindsight, that did have a large part to do with the loss, but that wasn’t it entirely.  Some of the other things I think contributed to it are:

  • Jeff had a good strategy.  He played well, and focused fire key units that got too close and threatening to his lines.
  • I hesitated (or perhaps just deployed sub-optimally to begin with), without considering the jump/shoot/jump.  When I jinked to the left (causing Jeff to jink right), that gave me a turn where I effectively  moved several key units out of position for a turn.
  • Jeff’s list was better than mine.  I don’t know what a competitive Tau list looks like, but I suspect Jeff’s list is fairly solid.  Not to say mine isn’t, but it’s missing some of the factors that I’ve really come to love.  While not having a Doom in a list is justifiable (if only to prove I’m not a cheese-monger) I can’t believe I completely omitted elites from list.

Aside from the failed stutter/jink moves that I did on Turn3, I think tactically my choices were relatively sound.  Of course, I could’ve spread the lines out and tried to hold three objectives, but I think that would’ve been awful difficult to pull off.  Since virtually all of my guns were 18” range, I liked having him bunched up.  Sadly, I never fired my Carnies (they were almost always out of range), and only fired a Tervigon once during the entire game.  Clearly, my army lacked in shooting…

I’d also like to note that Jeff is leaving us.  I know I said it earlier, but he’s heading down to Texas A&M if any readers here are in that area and want to game with him.  He’s a fantastic guy, smart, nice, dedicated, and I’m sure he’ll do well in college (and in life beyond).  I wish him nothing but the best, and hope we can get some games in if he comes back up to visit his parents on holidays.

What I Learned:

  1. The new Tau codex is certainly improved.  The biggest jump that I took away is that they can now take two of the same weapon system and not count them as twin-linked.  They poured a crazy amount of fire into my units, and were systematically eradicating anything they wanted to.
  2. Jump/Shoot/Jump is probably the biggest tactical problem I faced.  Tactically, that was definitely my biggest mistake—and one I need to consider in advance the next time I face a Tau force.
  3. It will not die.  I’m pretty sure I mis-handled this the entire game.  First, I forgot to roll it almost every turn (and found myself doing so retroactively during Jeff’s).   I also was rolling it as if I needed a 6 to recover a wound, but now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I only needed a five.  Because of that, the Swarmy should’ve recovered a wound earlier—not that it would’ve changed the outcome of the game much…
  4. The Swarmlord has rules.  Every turn he can give preferred enemy to a squad.  I ALWAYS forget to do this.  In the past, I’ve declared to my opponent that if I don’t say otherwise, he gets it every turn.  Not that it mattered because he never made it into combat for the entire game…
  5. The rules for falling out of buildings are pretty rad.  Yes, I used the word “rad.”  It’s short for radical.  And it was very comical to watch Tau kill themselves scrambling off a building to get away from my biovores..

3 comments on “Batrep: Hive Fleet Proteus vs. Tau (2000pts)

  1. E scary thing is that list is still very much 5th edition. We saw the next week (spoiler for potential batrep post) how good the tau can be when using a bit more optimization. Rumor has it that nods are next up after marines though so maybe you will get 2 new codecs back to back.

    • I’d have preferred some space in between the two codex releases. The positive thing about the Tyranid rumors thus far is that I won’t have to go buy many models. I’m sure they’ll release something new (if only the Harpy) that I’ll likely purchase, but I already have a suitable stand-in for the Parasite & Doom, and I have shrikes and the like as well.

      Oh well, no sense in complaining about getting two codexes back to back, right?

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