Monday, February 6, 2012

off-topic, then... Tau vs Drop-Melta and JotWW!

First, the off-topic stuff. I tend to patrol eBay regularly, looking for awesome deals. As a somewhat broke post-college student, I have to stretch every dollar as far as it will go. This weeks deal was a smashed-up Dante, that was mis-labeled. As any Dante fan will tell you, he has an axe with a wicked special rule, and an infernus pistol. (I had to look that up actually, so I guess I have to admit to being a Dante-poser.) However, I did have some leftover Sanguinary Guard bitz, and Death Company bitz... so, I rebuilt him. He's not taller, and he's still metal, but I like to think he looks more awesome! Due to privacy concerns I have used state-of-the-art technology to obscure the photographers identity: 

So now onto the fun stuff! I've been trying to improve my deployment with Tau, trying not to gimp my game any more than I have to. After all, deployment is your chance to put your best foot forward, or get caught with your pants down. I don't know about you, but I prefer the former. Generally, I'm playing these days with my 1500pts list, I call it "mech death":

my army
shas'o: mp, pr, mt
2x2 crisis: mp, pr, mt
x2 crisis: x2 mp, bsf
2x10/1 kroot/hounds
x6 fw
x5 pathfinders
x1 dfish
2x1 piranha: ta, fb, dp
3x2 broadsides: ass, leader:tl,x1sd

Pretty much the goal is to de-transport the opposing person, then feed them cheap units until the bell sounds, while shooting the rest of their army to pieces. Traditional Tau strategy, no? However, last tournament I got hit with a surprise gift of 4 Space Wolf Termies, Njal and Ajax in a drop pod turn 1! That unit absorbed two full rounds of firepower of mine before they finally broke out of containment and went to town, short one Termie. With the prevalence of sacrificial time-wasting assault units on the tourney scene, and my own lack of melee-counters, I've been musing on how to defeat drop-podding rocks. Especially those packing something nasty like Jaws-laden psykers. Because I am incredibly visual, I have included pictures. In case you want to follow along in my thoughts. So, here we go!

This formation can work for either spearhead or pitched-battle, assuming you want to force them to advance and avoid being surprised with a drop pod to the back. So, basics first. You want your vulnerable, long-range units in the back. So, Broadsides back, occupying the corner. Since we're afraid of Jaws, stagger them a bit so no more than one or two can be hit. Next, Crisis Suits, and use your vehicles to block LoS or otherwise provide cover to those squads. Then, place your Pathfinders forward, and i used my Fire Warriors to complete the chain. Finally, I layers my 2 squads of Kroot out into a wall. By making sure that every model was at the very extreme range of coherency to the next one up, this deployment forces Drop Pods out of range of the key elements of the list, and push melta-guns out of their sweet-spot. Also, there are no openings inside your castle to fit ds'ing units. Additionally, no matter where you are targeting from, you're not going to get more than one broadside with jaws. Crisis Suits are immune, and no-one cares if a couple Kroot get zapped. Add in some terrain which (hopefully) will give your Kroot some saves, and its going to be tough to drop your army with insta-gib weapons! But, what happens next, when those Termies with their Jaws, their claws, 3++ shields, and stuff show up at your door? Then comes Phase B!

drones facing -> are termies. and the dice are too.

This picture should be big enough to tell whats going on. Click on it if it needs to be bigger. I assumed the pod hit where my wife's phone is, and deployed the nastys as close to the line as possible, to attempt to Jaws some Broadsides. Also, this would theoretically give them cover from the rest of my army that isn't right there in front of them. Because everyone has 2" of coherency between them and the next model, there is an enormous amount of empty space in the tau deployment area. Think of it as a "Marshmallow" deployment. What happens when you put some heat to it? It shrinks! By retreating a bit with the Fire Warriors, and moving the Kroot line back, you've now got room to jump your piranhas up 12" to flank the Termies (represented with drones and dice, because... just because.) and drop drones. The drones can use their larger flight bases to create a wall between them and the rest of your army, covering more space and blocking enemies from stepping between them. And now, you let them have it! Ideally you'll be able to pin them or kill them, but if  not, no sweat! your Kroot can wrap them as the rest of your army moves away, preferably to kill the scoring units in the other persons army. Using these tactics, you can count on two turns of shooting before they can begin wiping the floor with you. May your dice be kind!

and here's if they come in on the other side

With the way that the army is setup, if they drop on the other side, you can do the same thing. Only this time, you use a Devilfish and a Piranha to move into position, and drop the drones and wall up. Again, it is important to get that 2" in between each drone. Once you move your Kroot up behind them, the rest of your army can begin moving away, to ensure that the death star is useless, or, shoot them up! Again, by using a "Marshmallow" deployment, you've ensured that you can compress, focus fire, and setup for next turn without throwing away your throwaway units.

Rock units (terrifying killy-units-of-doom) are scary because they can pulverize your tiny blue-green men, but as a tradeoff they are expensive and slow. If you can put something between them and you, only leaving their rear area clear, they will either waste a turn moving backwards, or assault your useless decoy on their own turn. Talk about a good deal! If you have the firepower, perhaps you can use a couple turns to wipe them out. Perhaps.

If shooting stormshields isn't your thing, there is a better idea: moving away! I illustrated deployment in a corner, to minimize the number of likely angles for a drop pod assault. They will likely hit front-and-center, as drop pods that fall off the table are counted as destroyed. As they have no way to reduce the number of dice they roll for scattering, risky behavior is likely going to be avoided. This leaves both table-edges open for retreat. Your Crisis Suits can JSJ, your Pathfinders are good sacrificial bait, your Fire Warriors can grab the Devilfish, your Broadsides are 'slow n purposeful,' your vehicles can move 12" and shoot, and your Kroot can back up enough to not be multi-assaulted by the rock, and still be close enough to tarpit them for another couple rounds. This thinking was inspired by a Space Wolf list that was comprised of Termies in a pod, Grey Hunters w/ a Librarian in a pod, more Grey Hunters in a pod, and Long Fangs. Most of the points were tied up in the rock. If I had simply moved out instead of trying to kill the rock, it should have been easy to wipe out the Grey Hunters, and Long Fangs. I could easily have put Crisis Suits and Piranhas on them, and wreaked havoc.

Particularly with the list I was facing, the rock could have been held up all game: he kills drones turn 1, kills kroot turn 2, kills kroot or pathfinders turn 3, and at that point has to spend the next 3 turns killing Broadside squads, otherwise they bypass Termie armor and offer insta-death. That is what the a.s.s. on the Broadsides is for: moving them far enough away they can't be multi-assaulted. I guess my learning curve is taking me to the point where every unit in my army is negotiable, as far as survival goes. Generally, I want broadsides to have good angles, and remain stationary while the rest of my army advances. But in some cases, like podding-Termies, those squads will serve a better purpose by being something that is un-ignoreable as well as disposable. After all, isn't that what the Greater Good is all about?

~Shas'el Mike
"you sit alone, in your heartache"

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