Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Railguns aren't all they're cracked up to be

I'm going to explain why the Tau Heavy Support slots are not worth taking.

We all know railguns are awesome.  Broadsides are great, Hammerheads are still pretty good and more versatile, etc. Every army fears the S10 AP1 from basically infinite range, right? I want to make the argument that both broadsides and hammerheads are inferior to other options, and that an optimized Tau list does not need any heavy support units at all - in fact, it can spend those points far more efficiently elsewhere!

I began by looking at equal costs of broadsides to crisis suits. I used the standard ASS Broadsides and compared their performance against Deathrain Crisis suits (Twin-Linked Missile Pods and Targeting Array) and Sunforge (TL Fusion Blaster and Targeting Array) Crisis suits.

At equal costs, you get 2 TL railguns from the broadsides, compared with 6 TL missiles from deathrain suits, and 3 TL melta shots from the FB suits (I assumed they were in melta range, not a difficult thing to achieve with deep strike and general crisis suit mobility).

Against av10, for both ground targets and flyers, Deathrain suits beat out Broadsides in effectiveness. Some stats: 2 Broadsides average 1.5 pens, 1.5 hp in damage, and a 63% chance of killing, each turn they shoot, against av10. 3 Deathrain suits average 2.6 pens, 3.5 hp of damage, and a 38% chance of killing, each turn, shooting at av10. Because of glancing hits, the Deathrains are very high-percentage av10 killers compared to Broadsides.

Against every higher armor value, for both flyer and ground targets, Sunforges in melta range beat out every other option including broadsides. Some stats: against av13, 2 Broadsides average 0.75 pens and a 37% chance to kill each turn. 3 Sunforge suits in melta range average 2 pens, 2 hp, and a 75% chance of killing each turn. Against av14, Sunforges are better by a 2:1 margin compared to Broadsides of equal cost.

It's also worth noting that at av12 and lower, 3 Deathrain suits performed even or better than 2 Broadsides and cause an average of 1 hp per turn against av13 (same as broadsides - but the broadsides have 0.75 pens per turn as well, adding a 37% chance of destroying the vehicle).  Broadsides are better than Deathrains against AV13, but still not as good as Sunforges in melta range, and Deathrains can still do alright.

I didn't test Hammerheads because Broadsides are considerably better against all armored targets (2 twin-linked railguns vs 1 non twin-linked railgun at the same points cost), and taking Hammerheads for an AP4 large blast isn't worth it alone, since all Tau infantry are superior at killing other infantry. (compare the Hammerhead to a Leman Russ, both have the same point cost, and you'll see how bad the hammerhead is, with the exception of its mobility and survivability with disruption pod and multitracker). Sky Rays perform worse in all aspects from the railgun or Suit options and should be avoided.

So in pure shooting power, Broadsides and hammerheads lose to crisis suits hands down in all situations vs armor. Fusion Blasters in melta range were more effective at higher armor values, while Missile Pods were roughly equivalent, better or only very slightly worse than Broadsides up to av13. Facing armor values of 13 and lower, Deathrain suits are pretty clearly superior to Broadsides and Hammerheads. And these two HS units exist to destroy armor! av14 is the main problem to concern ourselves with, and fusion blasters in melta range deal with that far better. But pure shooting power isn't the whole story, of course. So what are the other differences we need to take into account?

Railguns fire from much farther away, and are attached to more survivable units. You can't deny a 2+ save and 72'' range is going to keep broadsides alive longer. The tradeoff is clear: a broadside stays alive and keeps firing for longer than a Crisis suit (particularly the fusion blaster variety), but kills things slower. Is this a tradeoff you want? I would argue no. The longer enemy armor stays alive, the more chances it has to earn back its point cost kill your valuable units. Compare killing a riflemen dreadnought or a land raider after 1 or 2 turns, compared to after 3 or 4. Over those extra 2 turns, that vehicle is shooting, transporting, or doing other useful stuff for the enemy. Every turn it's earning back points. Anything you kill before it's had a chance to do anything is points wasted for the opponent. I don't believe the range and survivability trade off is worth the lowered firepower and point-efficiency.

An advantage Crisis suits also have is maneuverability thanks to jump-shoot-jump. Only Hammerheads are as maneuverable with a multitracker, but with firepower that isn't really close to Crisis suits.

Finally, we need to address an important point: fusion blasters require melta range to be so much more effective against av14. My response is to say that deep-striking, especially using a marker beacon to re-roll scatter, is pretty reliable. av14 vehicles are expensive and won't be very numerous in most lists you'll come across, with the exception of IG (a more balanced Tau list might include more FB teams to deal with this). Typically, deep striking a single fusion blaster team and taking out an av14 vehicle in a single turn will earn back their points and then some, and you can then let them suicide or annoy the opponent without much worry afterward. Particularly favorable circumstances will see your Crisis suits able to use a jetpack move in the assault phase to retreat behind cover or out of los, directly after deep striking.

By maxing out Crisis suits and forgoing all heavy support, you're using your points more efficiently. After some math hammer work, I believe Tau heavy support choices are all inferior uses of your points, compared to crisis teams.

So what kind of army am I advocating for, if we aren't including Hammerheads, Broadsides, or any other heavy support choice?  Essentially, lots of Crisis suits, and lots of troops, with Pathfinder support.  Both Fire Warriors and Kroot are cost-effective at killing any enemy infantry in rapid-fire shooting ranges, and each have their own unique bonuses and are slightly better at killing different things.  Focusing on a lot of troops makes holding objectives much easier, too, and objectives really are the name of the game.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for specific army lists and playtests as I examine this theory further!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

PLO Core 6-max Strategy

PLO Core 6-max Strategy

Jeff Hwang's Pot-Limit Omaha Poker: The Big Play Strategy, Kensington Publishing Corp., 2008

Starting Hand Categories:

terminology: ss = single suited; ds = double suited; r = rainbow
1. Big cards and ace high Broadway wraps
-premium: 4 cards 9 and higher, at least single suited, suited A preferred
  (examples: 9TJAss; TKQAds; TJQKss; 9TJQss)
-marginal: 3 broadways plus a dangler, at least single suited; 4 cards 9 and higher but unsuited
  (examples: 5JQKss; 9TKAr; 7AKJds)

2. Straight hands
-premium: rundowns with no gaps or a single middle or bottom gap, at least single suited
   (examples: 89TJds; 79TJss; 679Tss; 8TJQss; 5678ds)
-speculative: rundowns with two gaps, but none at the top, at least single suited
  (examples: 589Tss; 4589ss)
-marginal: offsuit rundowns of the above two criteria; top gapped rundowns
  (examples: 89TJr; 5789r; 3467r; J876ss; QT87ss)

3. Suited ace hands
-premium: premium ace high broadway wraps;  suited ace with a high pair and a broadway card; pocket aces with high connected side cards with a suited ace
  (examples: AJJT(ss to the ace); 9TKA (ss to the ace); AAQJ (ss to an ace))
-speculative: suited ace with a rundown; or with a pair (77+); or with two broadway cards (danglers ok)
  (examples: A987 (ss to the ace); A994 (ss to the ace); AKT5 (ss to the ace))
-marginal: all other suited ace hands
  (examples: A863 (ss to the ace); AQ52 (ss to the ace))

4. Pair-plus hands
-premium: at least one High pair (JJ+) with suited and connected side cards
  (examples: QQKJss; KKATss)
-speculative: at least one medium pair (77-TT) with suited and connected side cards
  (examples: 8879ss; 99TJss)
-marginal: high pairs with bad side cards
  (examples: KK72ss; JJ53r)

5. Aces
-premium: aces with high connected side cards with a suited ace; double-suited aces
  (examples:  AAJTds; AAKKds; AA78ds; AAQK (ss to the ace))
-speculative: all other aces
  (examples: AA73r; AAT6 (ss to the ace); AAKTr)


Components of Strength:
High Card value: Does my hand have high cards that will flop top pairs, top sets, and dominating nut draws?
Suited value: Can my hand flop a flush draw to go along with something else?
Connected value: Can my hand flop strong straight draws?
Paired value: Can my hand flop sets?

Premium Hands can be opened for a raise from any position, or raised after any number of limpers.  3-betting is an option in position for value, although they play well multiway as well.  Careful about building pots out of position though!

Speculative Hands can be opened for a raise in any position at 6-max, and call a raise in position.  The best speculative hands are candidates for light 3-betting in position to isolate.  Isolating single limpers is an option, with hands that have multiple strength components that play well heads-up; but overlimping is often better after several limpers, with hands that have a single nutty component like a weaker suited ace hand, or weak high pairs.  These hands hit the flop rarely, but hit hard when they do.

Marginal Hands are too weak to raise from early position.  Fold weaker marginal hands to a raise in front of us.  Call a raise with the very best marginal hands only, otherwise fold.  Overlimp unless the situation is very good for stealing.  These hands can be open-raised in position if it folds to us.

Trash Hands can only potentially be played as a very loose button steal against weak blinds.  Candidate hands must have some minimum amount of coordination.  All others are folded in all positions.

3-betting Factors:

1. Position
3-bet more hands in position than out of position.  Bluff or light 3-betting should be done in position.  3-bet out of position with mostly just premium hands, for value.

2. Number of players in the pot
3-bet more in heads-up pots than multiway pots.  The more opponents you have, the more your 3-bet range should be weighted toward premium hands.  With more than 1 player already in the pot, mostly just 3-bet for value with premium hands.

3. Raiser's range
Generally, 3-bet premium hands against tight raiser.  We can 3-bet a wider range of speculative hands against a loose raiser, especially if he plays weakly after a 3-bet.

4. Raiser's skills
Fewer speculative 3-bets against good players, and more against weak players, particularly in position.

3-betting for value: Only build a big pot preflop when you expect to often flop a hand good enough to continue past the flop, OR if you expect to often steal the pot postflop.  When we 3-bet for value, we want suited and connected high-card hands.

Speculative 3-betting: In spots where we have good steal equity, we can relax our starting hand requirements.

Dealing with 3-bets

Dry pairs and speculative Axxx hands play very poorly in 3-bet pots and should be folded.  They are in bad shape against AAxx, and they hit flops too rarely to continue much.

Call 3-bets in position more often than out of position.

Call 3-bets more often against a clearly-defined 3-betting range.  We can call with a wide range of speculative hands if villain's range is weighted toward AAxx hands.

Probability of AAxx being dealt is 2.5%, so a 3-bet range of around this amount is probably AAxx only.

Postflop Play in Big Pots

"Big Pots" mean pots with low SPR (less than 4).

"Nut Peddling" is not correct.  In big pots, you often must stack off lightly, sometimes with as little as top pair or non-nutty combo draw.  The lower the SPR, the more hands we must continue with on the flop, and the less we must worry about clashing with the nuts or being bluffed.  The higher the SPR, the more cautious we must be without the nuts, or about the risk of being bluffed.

Big pots revolve around the flop play, and is mostly math and calculation to determine whether we have enough equity to go all-in or not.

High SPR is an acceptable scenario for ANY starting hand, if we prefer to nut-peddle.  It's never a big mistake to keep SPR high.


In low-SPR situations, it's often better to take a free card with a hand that hit you somewhat, but might have hit your opponent harder, and a free card might drastically improve your hand's value.

Bet-folding is frequently good in situations where a flop hits our perceived range more than our opponents.  For example, A-high flops in 3-bet pots.  However, we're giving up if called on the flop, without a real hand.

The bare nut-flush with nothing else on a coordinated flop is not as strong as it seems.  It's usually better to check-call in a multiway pot with little steal equity.

C-betting in heads-up singly raised pots

C-bet most flops heads-up, both with your "air" hands and your strong hands

Probability of a random hand hitting top pair or a decent draw is about 40%.

Keep in mind that with high SPR, you want strong, nutty hands when getting all-in

You can let your bet sizing vary according to flop texture (but not according to your hand strength). For example, c-bet small on dry/light flops where the opposition rarely is strong (e.g. 8 5 2 , J 6 6 , or A 7 3 ). Use the same bet sizing for your bluffs and value bets

In position, check more flops with marginal hands/draws that have some outs (e.g. a nutty open-ended straight draw without anything extra) and that will benefit from a free card. This is especially important when there's a high risk of getting checkraised, and you have a hand that has decent equity with some outs, but it's not strong enough to continue after a checkraise

With marginal hands that have few outs (e.g. top + bottom two pair on a coordinated flop) it's generally better to bet-fold than to check and go for pot control. Keep in mind that you're rarely way ahead/way behind in PLO, and inducing bluffs with marginal hands has less value than in NLHE.

When you're playing against a c-bet in a heads-up pot, think about how to exploit players who c-bet too much, or who give up too easily on the turn when they get called. You can attack them with selective bluffraising/bluff-checkraising on the flop, or float with marginal hands/draws, planning to sometimes steal the pot on the turn when they check

C-betting in multiway singly raised pots

Rarely c-bet the flop as a pure bluff in a multiway pot. With 3 or more opponents, play fit-or-fold, and only c-bet for value or as a strong semibluff with your best hands

But if you have a little extra, for example presumed good fold equity, some equity, some blockers, some outs, and information from seeing your opponents check, you might take a stab at the pot also in a multiway pot

Don't try to fight back against c-betting without a hand in a multiway pot. If you are too weak to continue, based on the showdown equity of your hand, usually just give up. Don't attempt bluffraising or thin floating in a multiway pot without good reads and good reasons to think it will be profitable

Equity Quick-Reference:

Chance of flopping top pair or a good draw: about 40%.

Odds of a double-pair hand flopping a set: around 28%

Pot equity with set vs a made straight or a flush: 33% on flop, 25% on turn.

Pot equity with top trips and 3 overcards vs the underfull: 42% on  flop, 25% on turn

Pot equity with bare top pair vs an overpair: 37% on flop

Pot equity with overpair and flush draw vs a set: 40% on flop, 34% on turn

Pot equity with overpair and flush draw vs 2 pair: 54% on flop, 45% on turn

Pot equity with 2-pair vs a made straight or flush: 20% on the flop, 10% on the turn

Pot equity with top pair vs bottom pair: around 55% on flop, 61% on turn

Pot equity with a gutshot, no pair, vs top pair: 44% on flop

Pot equity with 16-out wrap vs top set: 43% on flop

Pot equity with 16-out wrap plus flush draw vs top set: 54% on flop

Pot equity with 20-out wrap vs top set: 51% on flop

Pot equity with 20-out wrap plus flush draw vs top set: 59% on flop

Pot equity with 8-out open-ended straight draw plus flush draw vs top set: 45% on flop

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Adventures at $0.25/$0.50 Fixed Limit Hold'em

Super fishy table, 45% see flop, $4 average pot size.  They're all drunk, according to the chat.  This is all a single session. Typing as the hands happen.

AKs preflop.  cap it preflop against fish that do that with any 2 cards almost.  Call flop with enough pot odds to draw to 6 outs.  Turn gutshot, 2 overs, and nut flush draw, call again with correct pot odds.  Fold river when I missed.  Opponents had J4 for two pair, and AJ for TPTK.

JJ, 3 bet it preflop and get 4 callers.  Bet dry low flop, 4 callers.  Aggro guy bets turn and river, I call and another guy calls.  He had A8 for top pair 8s.   The other caller had 46 and made 2 pair.

limp-call A2s. I flop A7A.  Get a good amount of value vs TT. love the fish.

JJ, cap it preflop 4 way.  A high flop, it checks around.  Turn, someone bets, I call, aggro guy c/r, other player calls.  I think, crap, he's got an A, guess I have to fold.  On the river they showdown two low pairs that I beat.

JQo pre, call a raise, guy behind me 3 bets and aggro guy 4 bets.  I fold.  Flop is 54Qr.  Tons of action.  3 better had KK.  He lost to T5o that made 2 pair on the river (in a 4-bet pot).  Aggro guy had 74s that he 4 bet with.  And got to the river with garbage and showed down.  And of course I played it perfectly calling the raise with JQo against the two people I was ahead of, and folding to the 3-bet by KK.

Just saw TT double barrel a KQ8 flop.  Lost to Q4s.  A5 (A high) also called down the whole way.

Just saw KK lose to a flopped set of 3s.

We're now 5 handed at the table.

Q2, free flop from the small blind.  Flop air, checks around.  Turn Q, I bet for value, aggro guy calls, 3rd guy folds.  River I bet again, he raises, I call, he had bottom pair, I win.

A6o, raise on BU, aggro guy 3 bets, I 4 bet for value, he 5 bets, I call.  Postflop I call every street unimproved.  He had 22, river counterfeit him and I won.

6 bet with AJo pre against aggro fish, called his 7 bet.  C-bet flop, get called, then we check it down.  He had 46o, my A high wins a hefty pot

9 handed again.

Just 3 barreled with top 2 pair, rivered boat, got raised, 3 bet river, he flatted with 2nd pair.  Love the fish.

Just folded QTs facing a raise and 3 bet ahead of me.  Flop AK7, turn J.  The aggro fish who 3 bet had AK.  I'm sure I would have stacked him (or close enough, for a limit game, this guy can't let go of bottom pair, to say nothing of 2 pair).  Sigh, guess I still played it well.

Just saw middle pair get 3 streets of value against 4 people and win at showdown.

55, call a raise. Flop A73.  I fold to a bet from an unknown.  On the river, Q3 for bottom pair was the best hand and won.  The player had bet all 3 streets and called a raise on the turn with it.

Just saw KK lose to both 23s and 65o on the river - 23 made 2 pair, 56 made a straight.

Just saw someone 10-bet it on the flop and almost get all in before flatting, with an 8 high flush draw on a monotone flop.  Got it in on the turn when the 4th club hit.  A set called him.

Just saw 3 sets in a row (from different people but consecutive hands).  Kind of unlikely, huh?

KQo, flop KQ2.  4 bet on the flop, lots of action.  He shows 82o for bottom pair, I win a $10 pot.

AJo pre,  raise it, lots of callers.  Flop KJx.  Checks all the way through.  Turn T, I value bet, aggro fish raises, another aggro fish calls, I call.  River checks through.  I win a $7 pot.  The others had garbage.

just limped first-in on the BU with QTo, 9 handed.  both blinds folded, even the BB, despite no raise at all, and I win the pot.  Weird, considering this is like a 50% see flop table.  I have no idea what happened.

Just rivered the nut flush, lost to a full house (he had 34s).  The guy flatted after there was $8 in the pot on the river, I have NO idea why he didn't stack off, I would have against these fish.  He had like $10 behind, too.

And just got a walk in the BB... weird, again.  Next hand I see people limping with K4o and 62o.   Can't imagine what they're all folding.

Alright, table is pretty short handed and all the drunk fish signed off.  It's like reg 6 max now.  Booking a +$7.87 win, before rakeback.  Actually not that great, considering the amazing fishiness.  It was like playing at the Casino again, except limit instead of no limit.  Incredible.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Warhammer 40k Battle Report: Space Wolves vs Chaos

I'm here with another Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report.  Today, we're looking at the Viking Wolves of Fenris, the Space Wolves chapter of the Space Marines, taking on the great enemy, a traitor force of Chaos Space Marines.  They do battle scouring a frigid ice planet for valuable but mysterious objectives.

Let's take a look at our armies!

Chaos Army
Space Wolves Army

To the left, we have the vile forces of Chaos.  A Nurgle Chaos Lord leads the army, attache to a unit of hardy Plague Marines.  Next is a unit of Khorne Berserkers, wild and bloodthirsty melee troops.  For fast attack troops, Chaos has included a full 20 Raptors, ready to swoop down from the skies to tear apart their prey.  A powerful Chaos Vindicator and Dreadnought finish out the army, lending critical support to the infantry-based army.

To the right stand the ferocious and proud Space Wolves.  A psychic Rune Priest leads the army, able to use his mastery of the Warp to fire powerful lightning as foes.  Within a Land Raider transport ride the mighty Wolf Guard terminators, armed with Wolf Claws and Power Fists.  For troops, there are two units of Grey Hunters with a couple of flamers, each in Rhino transports.  Long Fangs reside in another Rhino, supplying long range firepower and anti-vehicle support.  Finally, a Vindicator and two Dreadnoughts add serious anti-troop and anti-vehicle support, bringing up the rear.

The Battlefield

This battle takes place in the icy wind-swept snowfields of an unknown planet.  The two factions fight for control of this ancient compound, but to do so they must first contend for the critical locations outside.  Each objective location is unscouted, but cursory scans have led each army to seek them out.


The forces of Chaos were able to arrive first, setting up an aggressive position on the most important objectives to the west, establishing control early.  The large force of Raptors sits on the other side of the ancient fortress, preparing to flank the enemy and secure the eastern objectives with their jet packs.  20 Chaos Marines is a fearsome force to be reckoned with by anybody's account.

Upon arrival, the Space Wolves also see the importance of vying for the western objectives.  The heaviest, most deadly targets - and the ones likely to draw fire - deploy to the far west, while the troops and Dreadnoughts deploy farther east.  The Space Wolves plan to drive up the center with a spearhead strike using the Land Raider, while flanking and cutting off the Chaos forces with Grey Hunters and Dreadnoughts. The troops and Dreadnoughts, as well as the Rune Priest, must also guard the army's vulnerable east flank against the threat of the Raptors.

Turn 1

Chaos advances on the objectives, claiming two of them.  The Plague Marines and Chaos Lord uncover a grav-wave generator on the northwest point objective, which slows down charging enemies.  The Raptors to the east uncover a sabotage, rigged to explode at unknown intervals!  Because of the advantageous deployment of the Space Wolves, none of the Chaos forces are in range to fire at the Space Marines.

Space Wolves advance as well.  The Land Raider drives into the western battlefield, protecting the deadly Wolf Guard inside.  The Rune Priest to the east stays back, to remain out of range of the enemy bolters.

The Space Wolves inflict very few casualties, with only a glancing shot from the Vindicator and some stray assault cannon fire killing two Chaos marines.  The Rune Priest attempts a psychic shooting attack, but his powers are weakened by Chaos sorcery, and his mind briefly glimpses the madness and perils of the Warp, unable to contain it.  His power fails, and he is wounded.  The center objective before the gates of the frozen fortress is revealed to be sabotaged as well!

Turn 2: Chaos

Chaos's left flank moves forward, the Vindicator and Dreadnought threatening the heavy firepower of the Space Wolves' western flank.  The Khorne Berserkers, while vulnerable, are driven by Khorne to kill in his name.  Their terrible bloodlust drives them forward toward the tanks.  To the east, Raptors advance and capture a second objective, finding it to be nothing of much note.

The Chaos Vindicator to the west launches a terrific volley of ordnance, impacting with a deafening explosion on the hulls of the Space Wolves' Rhino and Vindicator on the western flank.  The Rhino explodes, killing a Long Fang inside, while the Vindicator's storm bolter is destroyed.  To the east, the Raptors fire a volley of bolts as the Rune Priest, slaying him without much of a fight.

Turn 2: Space Wolves

The Space Wolves have uncanny, animal-like abilities when it comes to battle.  And they also have an animal-like ferocity.  With the death of the Rune Priest leading this army, the Wolves of Fenris are driven to avenge their fallen brother, howling in rage and charging forward toward the ranks of traitorous heretics.

All troops disembarked from their transports as the Dreadnoughts charge ahead into the fray.  The Vindicator tenaciously re-positions to maintain a clean firing line at the furious Khorne Berserkers.

The Long Fangs and Vindicator open fire at the onrushing Berserkers, killing a good number of them with plasma cannons and ordnance.  One Plasma Cannon overheats, killing the unlucky Long Fang holding it.  Finally, the multi-melta of the Land Raider explodes the Chaos Dreadnought in a smokey blast.  To the east, a full unit of Grey Hunters open fire at the Raptors, felling several with boltguns and flamers.  The Dreadnoughts unleash their own heavy flamers, gouging the lines of enemies with fiery promethium.

Dreadnoughts and Wolf Guard hurl themselves at the Chaos foes.

Wolf Guard Terminators deliver swift crushing death with Wolf Claws and Power Fists, but the Khorne Berserkers are deadly and refuse to go down without a fight.  They take one Wolf Guard out with them before they are completely destroyed.  To the east, Dreadnoughts kill only two Raptors but suffer no damage from a hail of Krak grenades.  The Raptors rout, falling back.

Turn 3: Chaos

The Chaos Raptors fall back and disappear from the battlefield, fleeing and demoralized.  Plague Marines fall back, fearing a charge by the dangerous Wolf Guard Terminators.

A precise plasma pistol shot by the Chaos Lord fells a Wolf Guard Terminator, and the unit falls back.

Turn 3: Space Wolves

With half the Chaos force destroyed, the Space Wolves close in on their prey.  Wolf Guard rallied and embarked on the Land Raider, while Grey Hunters moved toward the western objectives along with their Rhinos and the two Dreadnoughts.

A glancing hit is scored on the Chaos Vindicator from a volley of heavy fire by multi-meltas and lascannons.

Turn 4

Chaos knows it needs only to deny the vital objective to the west.  They hold position, firing relentlessly at the enemy.  A Space Wolves Rhino explodes by the Chaos Lord's combi-melta, although the Grey Hunters within are unharmed.  The mighty Land Raider takes a jarring blast by the Vindicator's demolisher cannon, stunning the crew inside.  Meanwhile, the central sabotaged objective triggers a large explosion, killing one Grey Hunter!

Space Wolves move forward, claiming the vitally important western objective, while the Grey Hunters in the center make some space between themselves and the dangerous sabotage.

The pesky Chaos Vindicator is finally destroyed, pierced by a lascannon shot from the Long Fangs.  They fire a plasma cannon at the Plague Marines, inflicting their first loss of this entire battle.  Servants of Nurgle do not die easily!

Turn 5

The Plague Marines retreat while still holding their objective grav-wave generator.  If they can destroy the Grey Hunter unit, they can still consider this fight a victory.  They, however, fail to inflict any wounds from shooting.

Space Wolves advance on the Plague Marines, bringing every gun to bear to wipe their heretical foes from the snowy face of this frozen planet.

With dozens of bolters, assault cannons, plasma cannons and demolisher cannon ordnance, half a dozen Plague Marines are gunned down, including the Chaos Lord or Nurgle.  With the front line of the unit killed, they are no longer close enough to the objective to control it.

The Chaos Space Marines have had enough.  The servants of Nurgle know this is a fight they can no longer win, and the battle is over with a crushing victory for the mighty Space Wolves!

Final Score:

Chaos Space Marines: First Blood, Slay the Warlord - 2 Victory Points
Space Wolves:  Slay the Warlord, 2 Primary Objectives - 8 Victory Points

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Battle Report: Tau vs Dark Angels

Greetings!  I'm here with another Battle Report.  Yet again, I have the Tau against a force of Space Marines.  This time, the Tau army list is a familiar one to me, while I'm testing out a new Dark Angels Deathwing army list.  As such, I will make some mistakes, and you won't be seeing the best example of Deathwing strategy.  Even so, this is a pretty interesting game, and MUCH closer than my previous one!

Dark Angels Deathwing Army
Tau Mech Army

To the left is my Dark Angels army.  It's a balanced Deathwing army consisting of three units of Deathwing Terminators with Belial and an Apothecary, two units of Ravenwing Bikers (I forgot to add the second at the beginning of the game.  They'll show up early in the game when I remembered them!), and a Dreadnought with Plasma Cannon and Missile Launcher in a Drop Pod.  The Terminators are equipped mainly for shooting.  The Ravenwing Bikers are in the list to provide a teleport homer for a Deathwing Assaault.  This army is very slow, and small, but quite powerful.

To the right is my Tau army.  It's a balanced army making use of a ton of firepower and mobility, with a good number of vehicles.  I have a Shas'el Crisis Team outfitted in fireknife configuration, and a normal Crisis Team outfitted as a mixture of Fireknife and a Fusion blaster with target lock on the team leader.  There are two 12-man Firewarrior squads with devilfish transports.  I have a squadron of three Piranha skimmers, one with fusion blaster and target lock.  My heavy support consists of a Hammerhead and two Broadsides.

The Map

I elected to make a custom map for today's battle.  There are some ruins and trees that confer 5+ cover saves.  I decided that the generators at the top are short enough that battlesuits and dreadnoughts can fire over them, but not infantry.  There are enough obstacles for units to hide behind if necessary, but also enough line of sight for a shooty army like the Tau to do a lot of damage, in a good position.

The mission rolled was The Emperor's Will, where two objectives are placed on either side of the table, each worth three Victory Points.  I actually wasn't very clear on this particular mission until I read it in more detail. Until near the end of this game, I thought you only got points from capturing the enemy's objective, not the one near to you.  In reality, either objective grants either army three Victory Points.

The first turn is also night fighting, although it made no difference in this game.


The Tau won the roll-off, and elected to deploy first.  While in general, I prefer deploying second with Tau, on this map and against this Dark Angels army I think deploying first was best.  The Dark Angels are going to employ a Deathwing Assault, deep-striking most of their terminators in on the first turn.  Because of this, I didn't want to let the Bikers deploy far into the center of the map and allow the Terminators to deep strike halfway toward the Tau army.  By deploying first, I ensure that the middle of the map is far more dangerous for the Dark Angels, driving them into a more conservative deployment and gaining the Tau some time.

The Dark Angels left every part of the army in reserve except the Bikers.  Again, there should be a second Biker Squad, but I forgot it.  I'll remember it soon!  I deployed the bikes back here because it's the only reliable cover they can have against the Tau's first turn shooting.  I think I could have deployed them farther to the right of this warehouse, and then used their scout move to get the Terminators up a little faster.  As it happened, I forgot about their scout move too.

Turn 1 - Tau Movement

Tau can't really get any shots off this turn, so they decide to move Piranhas and Devilfish forward to block and screen.  All gun pods disembark from the vehicles as well, moving forward to form a skirmish line.

Turn 1 - Dark Angels Deep Strike

A Hammerhead had some line of sight with a Ravenwing Biker, and killed it with a railgun shot, despite a cover save.

Two Deathwing Terminators deep strike within the range of the Teleport Homers equipped to the Bikers.  They'd have been better off deploying normally, without the scout-move of the Bikers.

Turn 1 - Dark Angels Movement

The Bikers moved up.  Pretty straightforward!

Turn 2 - Tau Movement

Seeing that the Dark Angels deployed far to the east, the main fire base of the Tau army moves away, to keep distance from the dangerous Terminators.  The more mobile skirmishers, the gun drones, Piranhas and Crisis suits, advance forward to target or block the choke point from which the Terminators must pass to get at the objective.

Turn 2 - Tau Shooting and Assault

Nothing was in line of sight for the Tau to shoot.  The Devilfish moved Flat Out, while the Crisis Suits made jet pack movements.

Turn 2 - Dark Angels Deep Strike

The Dreadnought deep strikes onto the battlefield to defend the close objective.  With the ability to charge in close combat, and two potent anti-vehicle weapons, it's a dangerous foe for the Devilfish or Piranhas currently in mid-field.

Turn 2 and 3 - Dark Angels and Tau Movement

On the right, the Dark Angels moved forward.  I added the forgotten Bike Squad, finally, to the rear.

In Turn 3, the Tau moved into a strong position.  The Hammerhead and Broadsides moved to cover the choke point between the warehouse and the northeast building.  Gun drones moved forward in a wide line to block movement and stall the Space Marines.  Piranhas moved to cover the choke point as well, but the skimmer equipped with a fusion blaster turned to face the rear armor of the Dreadnought, in melta range.  Crisis Suits moved into ruins to the west and onto a rooftop to the east, ready to deal some damage to the armored foes.  One Devilfish disembarked its Firewarriors, preparing to capture the objective.  The second Devilfish arrives in mid-field, adding to the defense of the vital choke point but still within reach of the near objective.

Turn 3 - Tau Shooting

Crisis Suits fired at the Ravenwing Bikers, killing one, and the Piranhas finish off the unit.  The Tau earn a Victory Point for First Blood.  The third Piranha, with the fusion blaster, fires at the rear armor of the Dreadnought, but misses the crucial shot.  The Shas'el Crisis Team to the west fires at the drop pod, dealing two glancing hits.  Finally, one Broadside has line of sight with a Terminator and kills one with a well-placed rail shot.

Turn 3 - Dark Angels Deep Strike

That's right, more deep striking!  Last one, I promise!  The final squad of Deathwing Terminators arrives, looking to contest the southern objective.

Turn 3 - Dark Angels movement

The Terminators advanced forward steadily, while the Dreadnought moved close to the Piranha.

Turn 3 and 4 - Dark Angels and Tau Movement

Dark Angels Terminators shot at the gun drones, killing most of them.  The Dreadnought shot at the Piranha, exploding it with a well placed plasma cannon and missile shot.  Cyclone Missiles killed a Firewarrior, while the Terminators to the east wounded a few Crisis Suits with an Assault Cannon.  The Dreadnought charges the rest of the Piranha squadron, scoring a penetrating hit and stunning a Piranha.

During the Tau turn, Firewarriors disembarked from the Devilfish in midfield, ready to concentrate fire at the enemy Terminators.  Meanwhile, the Firewarriors moved to claim the southern objective, identifying it as a Targeting Array, which permits them to re-roll To-Hit rolls of one.

Turn 4 - Tau Shooting

Despite their bonus, Firewarriors failed to wound any bikers they shoot at.  The Shas'el Crisis Team, however, is lucker, and kills two of them.  The other Crisis Team manages to kill a Terminator with a fusion blaster shot, penetrating his armor.  The Piranhas fired but  did no damage to the Terminators.

Turn 4 - Dark Angels Movement

The Dark Angels advanced forward yet again, pushing relentlessly toward the objective.

Turn 4 - Dark Angels Shooting

The Dreadnought fired its Plasma Cannon at the Devilfish, but the cannon Got Hot!  The shot failed.  It was able to inflict a glancing hit with a missile launcher, though.  The Bikers fired a multimelta at the same Devilfish, causing a penetrating hit and stunning the crew.  The Terminators fire at the Firewarriors, killing a number of them with bolters.  To the east, the Terminators fire at the Crisis Suits, but cause no damage.  They elect NOT to fire on the gun drones, because of the rule that prevents a unit from charging if it fired at a different unit.  Shooting at the gun drones would surely kill them before the Terminators got a chance to charge at anything.  They would much rather wait, charge the gun drones and kill them in assault, and then make a consolidate move to get closer to the Tau.

Turn 4 - Dark Angels Charge

The Dark Angels charge!  A Dreadnought charges the Devilfish while Belial's Deathwing Terminators charge at the gun drones.

Turn 4 - Dark Angels Assault

The Dreadnought wrecks the Devilfish while the Terminators easily kill the gun drones, getting a consolidate move forward as planned.

Turn 5 - Tau Movement

The stunned effect expired on the Piranha, letting it close into range with the Terminators and Bikers, blocking their path somewhat.  The Firewarriors in midfield moved into formation to fire on Belial's Deathwing Terminators, as did the Hammerhead Gunship.

Turn 5 - Tau Shooting

The Shas'el has line of sight with the Bikers, and fires a plasma rifle.  They're saved by Jinking.  The Shas'el's missiles do manage to hit them, killing one.  Piranhas finish them off.  The Firewarriors in midfield land 10 shots on Belial's Deathwing Terminator squad.  All of them are saved by armor or by Feel No Pain.  A lucky little gun drone, however, manages to land a single shot, and kills a Terminator!  Clearly, this drone deserves a promotion!  Finally, a Crisis Suit kills a Terminator with a missile, although all plasma rifle shots are saved by Feel No Pain.

Turn 5 - Dark Angels Movement

The Terminator Squads advance forward yet again.  The Dreadnought moves around the wreck of the Devilfish to threaten the Firewarriors and deny the objective.

Turn 5 - Dark Angels Shooting

The Dreadnought makes short work of the Firewarriors between Plasma Cannon and Missile Launcher shots.  The Terminators open fire on Firewarriors, killing two; and Crisis Suits, killing one.

Turn 5 - Dark Angels Charge

The Dreadnought charges the Firewarriors in close combat, while the Terminators charge the Piranhas.

Turn 5 - Dark Angels Assault

The Terminators wreck both Piranhas easily.

The Dreadnought actually does no damage to the lucky squad of Firewarriors.  They elect, however, to flee from combat using the Our Weapons are Useless rule.  Not so luckily, they are killed by the Dreadnought's sweeping advance.

Turn 6 - Tau Movement

With the southern objective stolen, and the game nearly over, the Tau turn their attention toward the northern one.  It was around this point I realized you could control either, or I think I'd have gone for the northern objective sooner with Tau.  Regardless, Firewarriors embark onto the Devilfish and head toward it at cruise speed.  Every other Tau unit moved north to assist and cover.

Turn 6 - Tau Shooting

Broadsides fire their powerful railguns at Belial's Terminator Squad.  A railgun shot made it through a Terminator's formidable armor to kill him, as he nobly saved Belial with a Look Out Sir!  The Hammerhead similarly targets the enemy Warlord, but the Apothecary uses Look Out Sir and makes his invulnerable save, surviving.  The Crisis Team fires on Belial as well, and the Apothecary again uses Look Out Sir, but this time fails his invulnerable save as well as Feel No Pain, and dies.  Finally, the Shas'el and his Crisis Team fire on the Dreadnought, wrecking it.

Turn 6 - Dark Angels Movement

The Dark Angels Terminators advance toward each objective, seizing the southern one.  Belial joins another unit.

Turn 6 - Dark Angels Shooting

No damage is done.

I rolled a 1 and the game ended here.

The Tau earned: Linebreaker; First Blood: 2 Victory Points.
The Dark Angels earned: Primary Objective: 3 Victory Points.

And the Dark Angels are victorious in an extremely close game!  A single dice roll could easily have changed this result, not to mention the number of errors on my part!

The game was so close, in fact, that I decided to find out just what would have happened had it continued to a seventh turn...

Turn 7 - Tau Movement

Firewarriors disembark, seizing the northern objective.  The Devilfish moves aside to give them a clear firing lane.

Turn 7 - Tau Shooting

Broadsides, Crisis Suits and the Hammerhead shoot into the Terminator squad, killing all of them including Belial!  Tau gain the Slay the Warlord objective.

Turn 7 - Dark Angels Movement

The Terminators move forward.  Their only hope is to kill the Shas'el Crisis Team, leading to a drawn game.

Turn 7 - Dark Angels Shooting

Although one Crisis Suit is killed by a Krak missile, the Commander survives, and the game ends.

The Tau earned: Linebreaker, First Blood, Slay the Warlord, and a Primary Objective: 6 Victory Points.
The Dark Angels earned: a Primary Objective: 3 Victory Points.

Tau win!  Clearly this game could have gone either way, as the Tau could have won a nailbiting victory in the seventh turn.  Lucky for the Dark Angels that the game ended earlier!

Thanks so much for reading, and stay tuned to this blog for more battle reports, including online games as soon as I can find people to play with!